Coming Out...

I saw these two images this morning:

From The Federalist Papers

From Human Rights Campaign

So, I decided it's time for me to "come out," so to speak. As a Christian In Support of Gay Marriage. First, my reasons:

  1. Our country, and our government, is founded on freedom. It is NOT founded on any one religion, despite what many Christians seem to believe. Our Constitution guarantees that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What's unwritten is that these guarantees are true regardless of the individual's beliefs, race, or sexual orientation. As a whole, we believe this phrase applies to all races now, although 150 years ago, you would hear much of the same argument we're hearing today. Simply, I believe in our Constitution, and I believe our Constitution would allow these rights to all individuals (with the obvious exception of protecting children, which, if you're interested in, I'll give you some resources for in a minute).
  2. Aside from marriage falling under "the pursuit of happiness," do you realize that there are countless other issues that these couples must face?
    • Homosexual couples are often denied the right to visit each other in the hospital, even with domestic partnership laws. A woman here locally was not allowed to have her partner with her while she was experiencing a miscarriage, and we have domestic partnership laws protecting that. Regardless of your dogma, a person should be able to have the person who loves and supports them the most in their time of need. 
    • Employers are required to allow sick leave to take care of a spouse or family member. Individuals could lose their jobs by choosing to stay home for their partner. 
    • They would  lose out on any financial benefits they would normally receive if their partner dies. For married couples, even without a will, the spouse gets many benefits automatically. 
    • Taxes become incredibly complicated and expensive.
    • Lots of things are more expensive: from legally changing your names to renting a car.
    • For more, go here.
It's inhumane to deny consenting adults these things, regardless of your religious views. Martin Luther King, Jr, who is, I believe, one of the best preachers of our time, also said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

Even if you disagree with my politics, here's one thing you can get behind: There are people, children, dying of disease, starving, and/or forced into slavery, including sexual slavery. Why are we wasting our time sticking our noses in other adults' personal lives, and not batting an eye at all the injustice in the world? 

I love these lyrics from Tenth Avenue North's song, "Losing": 
Why do we think that hate's gonna change their heart?
We're up in arms over wars that don't need to be fought
But pride won't let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down 
We think pain is owed apologies and then it'll stop
But truth be told it doesn't matter if they're sorry or not

The line that says "We build bridges up, but just to tear them down" - I thought it said, "We build bridges up, but You're tearing them down." I like that better. 

Christians, if you hear nothing else I say today, hear this: Hate will not change anything for the better. Love will. 

It doesn't matter if you believe homosexuality is wrong. What I'm saying is that it's worth it to protect all people's freedoms. Also, there are so many other things you can be spending your time and energy on that truly help people that need you. 

If you're interested in taking a stand against evil today, or any day, consider loving "the least of these."

Excellent organizations:  
  • Compassion International  - "You can release a child from poverty in Jesus' name." There are many other child sponsorship groups; choose the one you're most comfortable with. I chose Compassion so that we could write to, and receive letters from, our sponsored child.
  • A21 - "We exist to abolish injustice in the 21st century." (focuses on human trafficking)
  • YoungLives - "In Young Life, we have the privilege of extending Jesus Christ’s love to kids as they are, where they are. For high school and middle school girls who are expecting or are raising a child on their own, that love takes the form of a program called YoungLives."
  • Three Square - "55% of children in [Clark County School District] are enrolled in free and reduced-price lunch programs based on their income." Or, your local shelter. (Our church partners with Three Square and a local middle school to provide food to families in need. It's really amazing to see.)
  • The Cupcake Girls - In Nevada and Portland, Oregon, they provide "non-judgmental support, consistent caring, and messages of faith, hope and love" to women working in brothels or the adult-entertainment industry. 
Some simple things you can do:
  • When you buy chocolate or coffee, choose Fair Trade Certified. (More info, with videos for you auditory learners!) It's great to buy Fair Trade whenever possible, but these are two of the worst industries when it comes to enslaving children. 
  • Love and support the people around you: the mom that's having a hard time, the newly widowed, the child who needs a little more attention (yours or not), the person struggling with their faith.
  • If you can't make a donation of time or money, just "like" these groups on Facebook. Share their images and statuses, and make people aware that these things are happening. 
  • Consider how you think and talk about people who are not like you. Is it loving? See here and here
  • Stop. Being. Judgmental. (particularly about things that don't matter much) There are very few people in your life that you to whom you have the right to be judgmental. Pretty much just close family and close friends. These people may benefit from you pointing out something they might need to work on. Basically, if you wouldn't feel comfortable telling them they need to exercise more, you shouldn't feel comfortable telling them to change or believe something else. 
  • Extend grace to all people - starting with you - your kids, your spouse, your friends, random Facebook people, that blogger, even that crazy politician from "the other side."
These are just a few options. What charities do you support? What do you do to make the world a more loving place? 

P.S. You're welcome to disagree with me respectfully. All comments must be approved before they are published. Hateful language will not be published. Respectful disagreements will be. Imagine you're at my house, talking with me, our friends, and my LGBT friends before you write. Because, basically, you are. :)

(Edited to add: I do think, however, that churches and clergy that do not believe gay marriage is right in God's eyes should not be forced to perform these marriages. I believe that should fall under freedom of religion.)

All The Things! Christian-style

In church Sunday, a few Sundays ago, the pastor said that he sat down once and listed 130-something things that he felt were pressing on his time. He was teaching about abiding in Christ, and learning to focus on being with God more than doing for God. 

I decided to make my own list, of all the things I've felt that I should DO as a good little Christian girl. Some of these things I've long since gotten over, and some still hit me hard. Some I still believe are worthwhile. All of these things I truly believed were God's truth at one point or another in my life. I heard them from various people, and I am not in any way saying this list reflects anyone's thinking but my own. They were all received from different places, and mixed together in my head. Amplify some of these by 75% because I felt like pastors' wives needed to do these things really really well perfectly. I'd challenge you to do the same, and evaluate what God really is asking of you.

  1. Listen to Christian music ONLY. (While I would never have said these words, I always felt guilty changing the station to a secular one.)
  2.  Read my bible every day morning. If it's not in the morning, it's just not good enough.
  3. Give to the needy, but only through the church.
  4. Pray over my children and my husband.
  5. Memorize scripture.
  6. Never swear. Not even when you stub your toe so hard that you break it. 
  7. Don't drink alcohol. That stuff that Jesus served at a wedding was really just juice
  8. While I was never told not to dance, the church I had my wedding reception at didn't allow dancing (see above video, start at 1:25 for both). I'm still pissed about that. I didn't get to dance with my husband or my daddy. At the time, I accepted it (grudgingly). 
  9. While we're on the Duggars: Don't use hormonal birth control. (I know, I know, 5 kids, hahaha, joke's on me.)
  10. Get married in a church, even if you would love to be married outdoors, where you feel like God's physical presence is just beyond your reach and every thing you can see cries out for a Creator. That's not good enough.
  11. Don't wear a two-piece bathing suit.
  12. Don't wear short shorts
  13. Don't wear tight clothes.
  14. Don't show cleavage. 
  15. Basically, take the responsibility for the possible sins of any male in your vicinity. 
  16. At the same time, be sexually available to your husband whenever he wants, or at least very often. Also, this should be an instantaneous transition on your wedding night.  
  17. Be a stay-at-home mom. (I'm a SAHM now because I want to be, not because I have to be, which is why I enjoy it.)
  18. Wear dresses to church on Sunday.
  19. Go to church at least 3x/week. 
  20. Don't consider staying home from church just because you don't want to go.
  21. Do daily bible readings with your children.
  22. Do everything the Proverbs 31 woman does. And do it well.
  23. Volunteer in the nursery/VBS/children's church/youth group. 
  24. Make a casserole every few weeks for another family. 
  25. Use my talents for God (singing, writing, kid-slinging, pie-making, whatever). 
  26. Don't make out with boys.
  27. Don't even think about making out with girls, for that matter. 
  28. Invite every person at church to your birthday party. That's what Jesus would do.
  29. Don't do anything that might cause someone else to stumble. ANYTHING. (see 10-15)
  30. Wear Christian t-shirts to school. (What, are you ashamed of Jesus? No, that shirt is just ugly.)
  31. Tell everyone - EVERYONE - about Jesus, whether they want to  hear it or not. 
  32. Go on mission trips. 
  33. Go door-to-door evangelizing.
  34. Don't complain. 
  35. Don't worry. 
  36. Don't be scared. 
  37. Fast occasionally, without letting it be known. (Unfortunately for me, I am like a freaking psycho if I don't eat. Seriously.) 
  38. Don't ever refer to God as anything other than male.
I could probably go on for days. I made a serious effort to not put down things that other people tried to convince me to believe, but I never did (like no birth control at all, believe it or not!). 

I'm realizing that this is my problem. My problem is religion. My problem is the rules and regulations without the love and relationship.

The pastor said that, as Christians, we talk about these "seasons of life" that we just have to "push through." That's exactly what I've been trying to do, for months years way too long. Just push through. Just check off the things on the list, and someday, somehow I'll find my way back. Instead, he said, we need to approach God and His Word with the goal of just abiding in Him. To just BE with God. To set aside the academic and your hang-ups, and to just sit with God and enjoy His presence.

That has got to be my ticket back. I can't fight my way back. I can't push through my doubts. I can't check the things off my list and hope for the best. But, I can rest in His presence. I can BE who I am - doubts, failures, insecurities - and just BE with Him. This is how to get my head and my heart engaged. Sitting in God's presence will lead me to some of my answers, but more importantly, it will restore my heart. My heart feels dry and parched. It feels like someone who's been carrying a large burden through the desert. That burden is these rules, this religion. How did I miss that the first step to rehydrating is drinking from the Living Well? When Jesus first spoke of Living Water, He was talking to a woman who had been hurt by religion and only expected the worst from Him - a religious man, and He blew her expectations out of the water.

That Sunday, I felt like I'd been that dusty wanderer, wandering through the desert, a huge pack on my back, covered in sweat, and staring out at all these different possibilities, different paths to take. Not knowing where I was really headed or how to get there. This pastor said, "Here, look. There are tons of paths around here. All you have to do is follow this guy. Don't worry if you don't know the way yet. That's ok. Just take your time, and hang out with him, he knows this place like the back of his hand. And, hey, while you're going, enjoy the journey, have fun with your guide, he's pretty cool."

I turn to my guide, and he holds out his hand, and says, "Here. I'll take your pack. You just carry this water bottle. Have some."

Jesus said his yoke was light, while ours is heavy. I have to believe he was talking about religion - The Law. "Give me all your rules and checklists. That's all too much. Here, take mine, all you have to do is BE near me. I'll tell you when I want you to do this or that, but don't worry, you'll know." How have I been missing this all along? I've been in churches all my life that claimed to be "New Testament Churches," but I still felt bogged down and judged for my behavior and my choices, even small, simple things that are likely no one else's business. (Side note: Your pastor's kids are just that. Kids. And Not Yours. Please, stop them from running into traffic, or hitting your kid with their shoe, but don't tell them what to wear or how to think or what music they should like.)

I'm off to find joy in the journey, by just hanging with my Guide.

Also, you can go here to download the image below, which has been hanging next to my computer for months. Go figure.