Tag: affirmation

Maybe This Is The Real Reason You Believe Being Gay Is A Sin

So, you believe homosexuality is a sin.

I get it—it’s where you are at and what you uphold to be true.

Maybe for you, you’re not exactly sure why you subscribe to that position, other than the countless times you have been told, “That’s what the Bible says.” You want to be loving, accepting, and viewed as a compassionate follower of Jesus, but numerous admonitions from fellow Christians declaring that “loving people doesn’t give license to their sin” seem to give you no other alternative posture than one of judgement and distance. Sure, you’re familiar with a few of the verses typically used to condemn homosexuality and those of the LGBTQ community—since childhood, your mind and heart has been seated around the traditional male/female relationships of Scripture as being the only God-approved model for marriage, gender, and sexuality, but that’s about as far as your thinking has taken you. Deep down, it’s a complicated issue, and quite honestly, you’re not always sure what you believe. Even though you know some LGBTQ people and perhaps might even call them friends, moments of belief-questioning or consideration of LGBTQ-affirming views are quickly summoned to a much more comfortable, default position in your faith, “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” For you, you’re hoping it’s as simple and settled as that, and if it’s not, it’s just going to have to be.

On the other side of the coin, maybe for you, it’s all so perfectly, crystal clear. There’s nothing to reconsider, nothing to learn or unlearn. It’s a slam dunk, a biblical no-brainer. Not only have you sat under the popular chorus, “This is what the Bible says,” you proudly and boldly sing it from the mountain tops. You believe to know every verse relevant to the issues, even citing original Greek and Hebrew words and context. In your mind, heart, and faith, all things LGBTQ are a deplorable, disgusting affront to God and an offensive abomination before the Lord. Maybe you have never held the sign (or maybe you have), but “God hates fags” largely fits hand-in-glove with the bottom line of your faith understanding. Sure, if they repent, change their ways, and adopt your faith views, there’s hope. However, until that day comes, “ground and pound” is your perceived divine mandate to wrestle the LGBTQ demons out of our culture and country. No matter the consequences or costs wrought by your anti-LGBTQ angst and rage, you are “right” and everyone else will always be “wrong”—even to the exclusion, excommunication, and potential suicide of your own LGBTQ child, sister, brother, parent, congregant, or friend. In your mind, any other way of seeing things is to author confusion where God created infallible clarity—and you, the God appointed vessel of His authority and truth. If a transgender person were to commit suicide and your secret (or not so secret) conclusions to this tragic event were displayed on your church’s worship screen, it might read something like, “They had it coming to them, for the consequences of sin is death.”

Well, no matter where you are on the spectrum of believing homosexuality is a sin, I have an honest question.

Are these really the true reasons you believe being gay is a sin? These are the case “evidences” you really want us to attribute to your actions and beliefs?  “The Bible says so…” “God hates fags…” “Rethinking my views or considering new information is unnecessary…” “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” These are the foundational, core kind of sentiments that make up the sum, depth, and rationale of your thoughts, words, deeds, and creeds regarding one of the most important issues of our time affecting countless God-imaged souls?

With all due love and respect as I truly want to understand and believe the best, if I’m honest, the ruby-slippered Dorothy in me is having a hard time swallowing that pill. In fact, pull back the curtain of your confessions and I wonder if there’s perhaps a deeper Wizard behind the smoke and mirrors of your anti-LGBTQ declarations—and it’s not God, the Bible, or spiritual laziness—in fact, I think it just might be… you.

Maybe, just maybe, the real reason you believe being gay is a sin, is because—you want to. When it’s all said and done, it’s not anybody else’s voice or choice—it’s yours.

In a Christian church-world where there are over 30,000 different denominations who read the very same Bible you do, and come to thousands of different belief-conclusions on major theological issues. In a Christian church-world where elective misunderstanding and ignorance are seen as legitimate positions instead of serious problems. In a Christian church-world where there are countless, growing numbers of biblical scholars with the same love for Jesus, submissive heart for Scripture, and tenacity for Truth as you, who see the Bible as affirming LGBTQ people, not condemning them. Maybe, just maybe, the real reason you believe being gay is a sin is because—you want to. It’s not the Bible saying so, it’s you saying so. In fact, if one can be faithful to the sacred Scriptures and yet come to an LGBTQ-affirming view (which you can) instead of condemning, demonizing, and abusing a whole God-adorned population of humans, why wouldn’t you? Maybe, just maybe, the real reason is because—you don’t want to.

In a Christian church-world where many apparently have little-to-no true fear of having a sin lifestyle of blatant, chosen gluttony and greed that potentially even compromises their eternity. In a Christian church-world where virtually none of its participants would ever dare construct nor hold up the sign, “God hates fatsos.” In a Christian church-world that largely has little-to-no restraint in looking the other way regarding its own sins and strongholds. In a Christian church-world where nearly 50 percent of its married adherents end up divorced, and even the “unbiblical” ones are given a free pass. Maybe, just maybe, the real reason why you believe being gay is a sin, isn’t for fear of condoning it or leading one into hell, but simply because—you want to.

In a Christian church-world that is known for justifying and feeling oh-so-good and righteous about itself through the condemning and demonizing of people they conveniently deem to be sinning differently than they. In a Christian church-world that largely needs a sin-battle to fight in order to justify its purpose, worth, validity, energy, and existence. Maybe, just maybe, the real reason why you believe being gay is a sin is because—you want to. The self-righteous perch from which doing so seems to afford you exclusive divine favor, license for anger, and spiritual justification for hate is just too convenient to step down from. Watching porn on Sunday afternoons never seemed so benign as after a rousing, gay-condemning sermon from Romans 1 and 2. It’s a drug only Grace can disarm, but you refuse the “reparative” cure. Why? Because—you want to.

In a Christian church-world where community is often centered around the conformity of beliefs and behaviors. In a Christian church-world where in many of its expressions you are either “in” or “out.” In a Christian church-world where to believe differently is often met with a kiss of death—discipline, rejection, marginalization, termination, or just a good-ole’-fashion greeting line of cold shoulders and religious spankings. Maybe, just maybe, the real reason why you believe being gay is a sin is because—you want to. The fear of being convinced of LGBTQ-affirming views is just too strong, and the perceived ramifications, just too costly. When the rubber meets the road and you hear the Jesus-call to put the suffering of others above your own—you simply don’t want to.

See, at the end of the day, when Toto draws the curtain open, the scheme that was concealed becomes the truth that is revealed—people don’t choose to be LGBTQ, but they sure do choose to believe whether it’s a sin or not.

In fact, I find it interesting how many Christians proudly proclaim to be pro-life and wear it as a badge of faith-honor, all while at the same time they are certainly pro-choice about the Bible—determined to protect their freedom to use every interpretive knife they can contrive to abort countless people into hell, murder their souls with condemnation, and yank them out of the womb of God’s Grace and affirmation, slicing and dicing them with sin-labels and discrimination—all while singing songs to Jesus with a self-righteous, anti-gay smirk on their face.

When all the smoke clears, perhaps the real puppeteer behind your anti-gay beliefs finally emerges—it’s you. You don’t “have” to believe being LGBTQ is a sin—you want to. When all is said and done, the pain of affirmation has been determined to be greater than the pain of discrimination. The call to take up our cross and follow Jesus, perhaps is a cost, you have concluded is too costly to endure. The ego-humbling, faith-reconstructing, soul-examining, human-loving, life-transforming, and courage-requiring invitation of Jesus to put down the nets of religion for the sake of “the least of these” is finally met with what is perhaps the real sum and truth behind your response—”I don’t want to.”

Maybe, just maybe, this is the real reason why you believe being gay is a sin—it’s not God, not the Bible, not spiritual laziness, nor moral purity or responsibility.

But rather, all because—you want to.

Love Cannot Be Out-Voted, Be Brave

For many of us, the 2016 presidential election has cast an ominous shadow—these are dark days for sure. It feels like we have lost nearly everything as at the mere casting of a ballot, so many of the things we value have been voted irrelevant and many of the people we deeply love, now exposed to even higher levels of the very bigotry, discrimination, abuse, and hate that already plagues their God-adorned lives. We are nervous, afraid, unsettled, uncertain, and rightly so.  Few seem to truly understand the plight of the marginalized and oppressed, and much of America has apparently decided that no matter the cost in character, lives, justice, and truth, holding onto ones privilege and power is far more important—the emergence of equality always feels like war to the privileged.

In the very same way, at the cross, Grace appears to be dying, dead, deemed irrelevant, and all hope murdered out of existence. The forces of evil that seek to steal, kill, and destroy the very values and people God loves and affirms so deeply, seem to have won the day. Jesus is dead, Grace has been out-voted, and evil has the victory—a complete cosmos-level of shock blanketing many who witnessed that day—the nails, the dripping of blood, the stopping of breath. The privileged and religiously-spirited appear to have won the battle against the heart of God, whose manifestation in Jesus brought a radical message of heaven-sanctioned Grace, life, freedom, equality, affirmation, and acceptance for all—none are better, only different.

Yet, ultimately, in due time, a Light appears revealing nothing could be further from the truth. It took some time, but as His followers listened, allowed their hearts to be still, and remembered the Jesus they had come to love and follow, a new Hope, a new perspective, and a new path revealed Itself—One greater than they had ever known before. What looked and felt like insurmountable death was resurrected into unstoppable life. For nothing can out-vote Love.

The way of Jesus, at times, feels like a losing one filled with moments of desperation and gut-wrenching unfairness. The days ahead will be important times to mourn, to be shocked, to allow ourselves to experience the full range of emotions and empathize with others that do also. It’s a time to fiercely beat the chest of God, cry out for understanding, and be completely, thoroughly, and unapologetically honest about our doubts and disbelief.

Yet, these are also days to be still, to listen, to learn, to look at ourselves in the mirror, examine our hearts, consider our ways, and remind ourselves, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

Love wins, love cannot be out-voted, and we the people of Jesus, lovers of Grace and truth, are a brave people—not just brave, but unstoppable.

Perhaps, a battle has been lost, maybe so. But we who are still yet determined, in the face of our enemies, in the shock of our disappointment, and in the quaking of our fears, to continue to love unconditionally, carry ourselves with true humility, cling to Hope unwaveringly, stand with the oppressed unyieldingly, and live the way of Jesus exceedingly, have already won the war.

We are never a defeated people as long as we are a people of Love unconditional.

Now is the time, like never before, to show the world in this season of darkness that we are the possessors of true Light—do what you will, take what you take, hate what you hate, abuse what you abuse, but we will never become the evil done against us!

Never.

We will never take up the sword over the plowshare, we will never rejoice at the mourning of others, even the demise of our enemies, nor we will ever be rendered silent in the defense of all that God affirms and delights.

Never, no way, ever!

We are Lovers, lovers all the way.

Surely, these are days to be sacredly sad, but these are also days to be unbridledly brave.

Brave enough to cry.

Brave enough to hurt.

Brave enough to hope.

Brave enough to live.

Brave enough to still yet love—and that, unconditionally unconditional.

It’s time to be brave, for Love cannot be out-voted.

Never, no way, ever!

 

Grace is brave, be brave.

5 Ways To Love The Anti-LGBT People In Your Life

Loving people is a deep ocean, as treacherous as it is beautiful. Navigating through the peril of those who stand against us, a daunting task of great proportions.  Between sunset skies, there are those who would drown us, silence our voices, and abandon our cry. The people who should care the most, are at times the ones who care the least.  It’s everything we can do, keeping our head above water, to not lose ourselves in the wake of hate. Love is as dangerous as the seas are blue.

It’s ok to want to give up, as long as you don’t do it. The love that is supposed to win, often feels like it’s losing—people determined to misunderstand, as much as they refuse to listen. The riptides of rejection, pulling us from everything that feels secure, something inside of us is slowing dying, we sense it—hope, faith, love, a struggle to remain human. Walls going up, the shades closing, curling up in the fetal position as we pray for the world to go away.

The day we give up on loving, the purpose of our living, that will be the day they win. It’s a fight, it truly is, but I still believe, with the anti-LGBT people in our lives, love still wins.

I’m not perfect, I have a long way to go, but here’s what I am learning. Five ways to win at loving the anti-LGBT people in our life.

Choose Relationship over Debate.  As an affirming, advocating pastor, people want to debate me. Having spent exhausting hours on this endless treadmill, I’ve learned to press the pause button and point to relationship—pushing out a chair, inviting them to the table. Not for a circular argument-fest, but for what could be a transforming conversation. Each of us growing, if in nothing less than our understanding. I can tell you, nobody has a heart-change through debating, it’s only through relating.

Find me a person who is anti-LGBT, and I will have found you a person who likely lacks true, humble, authentic connection with this community. Freedom from bigotry doesn’t comes from knowing a new idea, but from knowing a person, newly. Information, creeds, and beliefs find their heart changing power, only in relationship. It’s the face to face, soul to soul interaction that causes one to truly ask the question and seek an honest answer, “did I get this wrong?” It’s a daunting task to influence a heart to which you aren’t connected. Know your stuff, but where you can, choose relationship over debate.

Love from a Distance.  Caring for ourselves, protecting the well-spring of life within us, all deeply critical to our capacity to give loveIn the face of those who are against us, sometimes, the best we can do is to survive another day in order to love again on another. Nothing can be more toxic, more skin melting than the fallout from those in our lives who are anti-LGBT. Pulling the pin of “coming out” as a person, pastor, advocate, or a parent can be met with huge explosions. In all things, give yourself the permission to love as you can—a little, or even in moments, not at all. At times, giving grace isn’t measured in the love we give, but in our stopping short of expressing the opposite. If that means creating space, create it. Turning off the phone, a vacation from social media—there is a difference between freedom from love, and freedom for it. Don’t stop loving, rather find sanctuary in loving from a distance. Doing so, is completely acceptable and honoring, even if it doesn’t feel right, and leaves others disappointed. We can only do the best we can. What measure of goodness or sharing of self we have to bring at any given moment, should sit in our hearts as being sufficient.

Grieve the Loss of Expectations.  You thought they would “get it” but they didn’t—thought they would listen, but they aren’t. You thought they would love you anyways, but they won’t—thought they would come for the wedding, but they aren’t. You thought your ministry would survive, but it couldn’t—thought they would still value your friendship, but they don’t. You thought you could still go to church, still serve in ministry, but you can’t. Family visits, dinners at the table—so much will never be the same—never ever, again. These are the dreams, the hopes, the inner expectations we hug that are so hard to release. If only things were different, if only they would reconsider, if only they could see.

Letting go is different than giving up. It’s emotionally freeing yourself from the pain of expecting from someone what is fairly owed to you that they cannot or refuse to give—going to the well, over and over, only to come up dry. The decency that humans should be, is the decency we often don’t receive. It’s a process, a tiresome journey that doesn’t find resolve overnight. Accepting their rejection is the hardest—surrendering the impossible quest to change their mind, perhaps even more difficult. Yet, love finds its apex of fruition, its most challenging expression, when we love people where they are at, not where we wish they would be. Don’t give up hope, but let love emancipate your heart from being ruled by expectation.

Eat First.  The psalmist discovered that the power to love our enemies comes from first sitting at God’s table and eating—feeding off His delight, affirmation, and pure love for our lives. It’s only there that we find enough soul supply to never hunger or thirst again—to have a sure sense of self that our enemies can’t suck dry. Accepting His acceptance is the bullet proofing of our hearts from all rejection. Don’t you dare pull up a chair to anyone’s opinion in an effort to feed your identity, value, worth, or affirmation. Taste and see that God is good, and His goodness is in all that His hands have made, you included.

We help people to win in response to our lives when we remove from them the burden to be the source of our self-love and worth. To be connected to the tubes that feed our self-talk is a sure foothold all our enemies desire. The truth is, you don’t owe anyone an explanation, a plan, or a scripture to justify. We are who we are, by God’s exclusive design, and the haters can simply take it or leave it—what we believe or how we choose to live it. It would be great, it’s what we deserve, but their lack of approval, respect, and fairness doesn’t define us, nor should it leave our souls in a state of starving. We are whole and complete, apart from those who say we aren’t. This is the power of the table, from which we sit to face our enemies—full, quenched, sufficient, worthy, fully loved and fully alive, and therefore capable of even loving those who stand against us—not looking to be fed, or vulnerable to their leeching, but to contribute love where we can.

Keep the Light On.  We live in a dark world, blanketed by darkness. Ignorance abounds. Hate, the breakfast of many Christians and the religious. Even still, never give up.  Remove that card from the deck of possibilities. Keep the light on. “Motel-6” people, even if it hurts.

If God can change my mind and heart about all that is LGBTQ, anything is possible. Maybe, just one day, they will reconsider.

It’s not easy. Refuse to write people off, be brave enough to hope—to spend time in the land of the waiting. You will surely become a better person in the process, even if they never do.

Homophobic people who say stupid, horrific things… love them anyways.

Anti-LGBT people who are determined to misunderstand… love them anyways.

Bigoted people who want their cake and eat it too, keeping you from enjoying any… love them anyways.

Rejectors who kill with their eyes and destroy with their head turns… love them anyways.

People who should listen, but refuse to even hear… love them anyways.

Christians who completely malign the heart of Jesus and fail to manifest Him… love them anyways.

Family whose job it is to love you the most, but resign to caring the least… love them anyways.

Friends who once declared to forever walk by your side, but now have left the building… love them anyways.

For if the world is going to change, love will have been the reason—not just love, but your love and my love, specifically.

Be brave, love bravely.

The Light is still on, love still wins.

What Has Your Christianity Done To You?

There’s a diabolical way Eskimos kill wolves. Taking a long knife, they coat the blade with frozen blood, placing it upwards in the snow. The wolf smells the blood, feverishly starts licking. As the blood-sickle numbs the wolf’s tongue, their clueless to the moment the razor-thin edge slits it wide open, shifting the animal to consuming its own blood unaware. Doing so, in a frenzy of oblivious delusion, the wolf literally drinks itself to death. What tastes like it’s yielding life, is actually ending it.

Look in the mirror. There’s blood all over our mouths. Dripping down.

Not just your mouth, but your hands, your feet, you heart, your soul. The outside sees it, smells it. Don’t you? Like rag-shirted zombies that think they are alive, believe they’ve been resurrected. Groaning, moaning, needing someone to devour. The walking dead.

What’s happen to you? What’s happen to us? The people we’ve become.

These words, not trying to be destructive, just trying try be descriptive. This is life and death.

Most Christians don’t even realize what their Christianity has done to them.

Hard to see it, even harder to say it. But, you’ve become a monster.

Not just you, all of us.

Look at ourselves. The heights from which we have fallen.

In the Garden of Eden, it was enough that God is love, you were fully human, created in His image to fully love. It was as simple, complete, and beautiful as that. Nothing to add. The Gospel of the Garden. Life as it’s intended. Everything to enjoy. Freely loved, freely loving. Bliss upon bliss, heaven forever. The ultimate life. An eternal flow of endless loving and being loved, all without limits, without restriction. Seated high, only shadowed by the angels. Imagine the freedom, the release to love expansively. The forever smile that reality painted on our souls.

But then, numb to the scheme, we fell for the Law. We bit the lie that there are conditions. Conditions, limitations, expirations to being loved and to loving. It’s not free, to give or receive, nor is it to be freely given or received. Lies upon lies, licks upon licks, swallowing the evil whole. In so doing, in our condition-believing, we didn’t become more human, we actually became less. Our souls slit wide open. Our hearts bleeding. Our fall from Grace, by falling for the Law. Confusion set in. What felt like distance from the Divine, was all in our minds, not God’s heart. That’s what conditions do, they taste like life, but are sure death. Projecting onto God a reality that is not His, not ours, not anyone. God didn’t go there, we did.

Jesus came to reveal, to lift the veil, to change the mind, to sober the trance. To awaken us to what has always been, that God loves humanity as if the Law never existed. In His heart, the timelessness of eternity, conditions never have. No fine-print, demands, or a distance. From Moses to Jesus, God’s ardent revelation to humanity of the dance-of-death created by the futile pursuits of human performance and God appeasement. It doesn’t work. The diabolical drama of the Law, with all its systems and calculations, is not just undoable, it’s errant. A wrecking ball, a blade in the snow to all that is truly God and life giving. Jesus, revealing God as Law-fulfilled, condition-less. For if the Law, in writing or Spirit, were inerrant there would be no Jesus, the Word, the Way, the Life.

In fact, the only two people in Scripture that Jesus proclaims are people of “great faith,” were both Gentiles, not Law-conscious, condition-believing Jews. One was a Roman and the other a Canaanite. What they had in common wasn’t an off-the-chart spiritual record, it wasn’t some laser-like capacity to point out sin. It wasn’t even church-attendance or ardent-worship awards. Rather, what was intrinsic at their core was that both of them had no awareness of the Law, no sense of a God of conditions, none at all. They shared the untainted, un-seduced clarity of mind and heart to see and believe in God as He truly is. Their “greatness” of faith was in direct correlation to their awareness of the “greatness” of God’s unconditional love. These weren’t conditions to God-relationship that were being pushed aside, overlooked, or covered over. In the framework of their God perspective, there weren’t conditions at all. Jesus sees this, their eyes-wide-open awareness of the true nature and heart of God, and declares, “Now these guys, they get it.”

Later, when Jesus points us to the spearpoint of God’s Old Testament intention, the summation of all that can be summed up, He pleads for one thing, genuine God-love and the loving of our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Don’t be duped by your Christianity. In these words, Jesus isn’t pushing for us to press into the Law, meeting more conditions and expectations, getting more religious and ambitious. Actually, He’s begging you to see the imprisonment that comes with it, and our forever release from it. As if it never existed. That Good is good, and His love endures forever.

For how can you truly love without reservation, believe without inhibition, with complete mind, heart, and soul, in a God of conditions? How can you truly love anyone, in any way, with love-limitations? You can’t. If it’s not unconditional love, it’s not love at all. If it’s not an unconditional God, it’s not God at all. It’s Satan’s slick substitution… religion. That’s what you’re feverishly licking. Drinking death, believing it’s life. You’re not loving God and people, you’re religion-ing God and people, and calling it life in Christ.

Jesus is yearning from the depths of His being for our return to being fully human…

Fully human… awakening to the awareness that you are unconditionally loved by God who is nothing but love.

Fully human… loving humanity without condition, without restraint nor reservation.

Fully human… seeing the goodness, the divine hand in all God has created.

Fully human… embracing our release from the Law is if it never existed.

Why? Because Jesus knows, only then do we have the capacity, the freedom, the genuine desire, the rest within our mind and heart from which to truly see Him and therefore to truly love Him, manifesting that love to ourselves and to others. A rebirth, a new creation, a new species, a return to being fully human.

Free to be loved fully, free to love fully. No brake pumping, no leash pulling, guilt tripping, fear mongering, no if, ands, or buts.

This is heaven come down, to love lavishly as you are lavishly loved. To see no conditions, to give no conditions. No governor on the love accelerator. No chains, no ceiling, no amount that it is “too much.” Grace upon Grace, upon Grace, upon Grace, all the more. More and more love, as far as the eyes, the heart, and the mind can see.

Free at last, free at last, thank God, we are free at last.

God created you to be fully human.

But that’s not what you’ve become, that’s not what your Christianity has done to you. Not to you, not to us.

We’re not fully human, our Christianity has made us into something far less.

We’ve made God into a schizophrenic drunk, storming out of a bar, wrapping His arms of love around you one moment, sending His son to secure the world’s salvation, only to drop-kick countless souls into a hell of eternal torture, while singing choruses of divine justice and holiness, with beer steins raised, as He winks at you with a grin in His eyes. He’s no more than the elf on the shelf, watching, judging, waiting for that opportune moment to push humanity under His thumb and yank us all back from too much happiness. Never knowing when you might push Him too far and dislodge the pin of His wrath-grenade. His love is the warm-up band, the appetizer for the main thing… your repentance, allegiance, rule-keeping, and good behavior. Don’t give Him what He wants, you don’t get what He’s got. The valves are turned off, the supply is sanctioned, and a blockade is formed, welling up to an eternal separation of fiery, skin melting despair.

You don’t need Hollywood to know that anything with more than one head, one heart, one vision is a monster.

This is what we’ve done. All of us.

Turned God into a monster, a two-headed, two hearted, two-visioned monster. A crazed, conflicted god who loves… but.

Sadly, the very image we’ve made of God, is very the person, the very people we’ve become…

Sure, you love people… but. There’s always a “but.” “But” this, “but” that. Your “Sir Mix-A Lot” version of love sings, “I like love with big ‘buts’ and I cannot lie.” Always with a condition, some kind of spiritual fine-print. A loop hole, a way out. Checkpoints here, checkpoints there, gotta make sure it doesn’t go too far, too soon. Grace is dangerous, you just can’t go around giving it to everyone and anyone. Always stopping short of acceptance and affirmation, as if yours are the hands that wield God’s stamp of approval. Your love is labeled, compartmentalized, predicated to those who are willing to subscribe to a terms of agreement. Dished out for free, but with silverware you have to pay for. Your love is not love at all, it’s a monster. And we, the walking dead, devouring whole groups of people… enemies, people with whom we disagree. Races, genders, gay people, transgender people, the rich, the poor. Killing countless with the poison we are pimping as love. Casket, after casket, after casket.

Sure, you have faith… but. There’s always a “but.” You just can’t let go of your addiction to the sound of your own performance. To-do lists, rules to keep, sins to overcome. It’s all so flesh intoxicating. Building your kingdom, your own following, your own story of success. Jesus and you, changing the world. Sounds so spiritual. Trying to line it all up, to fruit-up the vines, all to convince yourself of what you are not; that you are lovable, valuable, qualified, and worthy, as is. Dare I say, forgiven, equal, and whole. Nothing to improve, heal, or reconcile that Jesus hasn’t already. The self-righteousness is bleeding out of your every pore. All your hand raising, money giving, engraved Bible studying, self-promoting, enough is never enough. So much going on with your lips, but your heart, it’s restless. More and more to do, to become, to improve, to achieve, to show. Building your tower to God, calling it faith and faithfulness. Like Mary in the scriptures, making sandwiches Jesus never ordered. To believe is to rest. But on the bed of rest, you will not rest. You got to have some skin in the game, a security blanket of your own weaving. Jesus is not enough. The cross not finishing. His Grace, not sufficient. With every striving and trying, doing and performing, your proclamation of un-faith. Hoping to sign-up the world to chase with you on the this endless treadmill of spiritual, hypocritical exhaustion, praying they won’t see it’s all one big veil to an empty life. Your Christian life is no life at all, it’s a monster. And we, the walking dead, devouring people into this slow death of spiritual futility disguised as faith.

Sure, you have Grace… but. There’s always a “but.” We need to have a balance. It’s just can’t be all good news. God’s not soft, He’s rock-sovereign. Condemnation, sin-deciding, it feels so right, so good, so leather-bound biblical. Bringing another low, putting them in their place. Discipline, confronting, punishment. Positions, platforms from which to look down. The Bible says… the Bible tells me so. Verse quoting, debate engaging, enemy declaring. We gotta speak the truth in love, the proctologist who’s smiling so gently with his truth-finger up your rear end. Playing spiritual doctor, posturing yourself as the divine physician. As if your eyes can x-ray the disease, and you’re skilled enough to cure it, let alone, the one commissioned to do it. It’s all one big game of spiritual hide in seek in compounds with crosses on top. Talking amongst ourselves and judging the world. Spiritually navel gazing as we complain about how bad the world is, with thankfulness for how good we are. The Bible replacing Jesus, words about God trumping the Word of God. It’s all so convenient. Yet, all so irrelevant. The world and Jesus, just wants to spit it all out of their mouths. Your Grace is not Grace at all, it’s a monster. And we, the walking dead, imprisoning the very people Jesus has set free.

No one falls from the Law, you only fall from Grace, the summit of all that is God and all that is good.

Oh, how we have fallen, the decay that has set in.

We’ve swallowed the blade whole, numb to the death we think is life.

You call it a Gospel, but it’s no Gospel at all. It’s the worse news ever. That God loves you… but, that I love you… but.

That’s not heaven, that’s hell.

A two-headed Monster.

That’s what we have become, what our Christianity has done.

Religion creates the illusion you are experiencing and pleasing God when in reality you are hiding from Him and missing His heart.

We, who so boastfully declare to have it, have completely missed it.

They, the world, are not the monsters, the ignorant, the inhumane, the Godless… we are.

Most Christians don’t realize what their Christianity has done to them.

It’s about time we do.

A Six-Pack of Biblical Gay Affirmation : The Clobber Passages Revisited

In the biblical book of Hosea, chapter four, the writer experiences God speaking, “My people are being destroyed from a lack of knowledge.”

It’s interesting to me that God doesn’t say, “Hey, you know what? It’s because of sin that you’re being destroyed.” The text doesn’t even say it’s because of temptation, not even because of Beyonce’. No, the writer experiences God declaring, “it’s all about your ignorance.”

Interesting, very interesting.

So here we are with the issue of homosexuality.

No surprise, this is a topic that has been baked in a good bit of ignorance. And I, once a willing cook in the kitchen of bad theology, and even worse… bigotry.

That all changed, however, when I revisited the Bible with a new heart, and with new experience and information.

I pray that process happens for you.

There are a mere six passages in the Bible that specifically deal with the issue of homosexuality. I’m going to deal with five of them; line by line, verse by verse. One passage is basically a repeat of another (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).

Some people call these verses the six “clobber” passages because people use them to clobber homosexuals and homosexuality declaring, “See, it’s clear as day, black and white. God hates homosexual. Homosexuals are sinners. They’re all going to fry in hell.”

Good times for sure.

Yet, the very passages so many want to use to condemn homosexuality, I believe are actually a six-pack of biblical, gay affirmation.

Yup, a six-pack of heaven-crafted, delicious, biblical gay affirmation. Intoxicating, with God-authored freedom and validation. Detoxifying, with truth and fresh revelation.

So, belly on up and drink it in…

Bottle One : Sodom and Gomorrah Summer Ale

Genesis 19. It’s a sad story. A story about a guy named Lot.

There’s a backdrop to this.

Lot is Abraham’s nephew, and Abraham and Lot became very successful. They acquire all kinds of cattle, herds, and people. Bucket loads of stuff. Soon, they realize that sticking together was getting to be too complicated. Running into each other, conflicts emerged.

So, Abraham spoke up one day and said “Listen Lot, we need to go different directions here. I love you, but we’re just on top of each other.” Abraham, being a humble guy, continues “Look at the horizon Lot, pick a spot. You go there, and I’ll take what’s left.”

Lot gazes his eyes upon the cities of the plains, which are Sodom and Gomorrah.

Soon after, he enters into Sodom and Gomorrah and quickly realizes it’s a pretty nasty place. The people are clearly in significant violation of some of the most important ethical and moral issues of that Hebraic context… hospitality, gluttony, and arrogance.

About this same time, God visits Abraham and whispers, “Hey Abe, I need to clue you in a bit about something that I’m probably going to be doing here. That city, where Lot is hanging out, their lack of hospitality, all their arrogance and self-centeredness. I’ve got to end this thing.”

Abraham responds, “Hey God, could you hold off here, give Lot a heads up?” After some discourse, they finally come to an agreement where God sends a couple angels into Sodom and Gomorrah to let Lot know what’s about to happen.

That’s where we pick up the story…

“That evening the two angels arrived in Sodom, while Lot was sitting near the city gate. When Lot saw them, he got up, bowed down low, 2 and said “Gentlemen, I am your servant. Please come to my home. You can wash your feet, spend the night, and be on your way in the morning.”

Right off the bat, a big deal to the Hebrew moral code was the issue of hospitality. Probably the most important, ethical issue of the day. Lot is trying to honor this tenant .

They told him, “No, we’ll spend the night in the city square.” 3 But Lot kept insisting, until they finally agreed and went home with him. He baked some bread, cooked a meal, and they ate. 4 Before Lot and his guests could go to bed, every man in Sodom, young and old, came and stood outside his house 5 and started shouting, “Where are your visitors? Send them out, so we can have sex with them!”

Did you read it… “Every man in Sodom?”

Now let’s just use our brains for a second. You can be sure “every man” was not homosexual in orientation. Our national percentage here in modern 2015 is less than two percent.

But this isn’t about percentages, this isn’t about homosexuality, this isn’t about heterosexuality, it’s about something much larger. Read the text, this isn’t an invitation to engage in mutual, consensual sex. No, this is all about one thing, and one thing only… gang rape.

“6 Lot went outside and shut the door behind him.  7 Then he said, “Friends, please don’t do such a terrible thing!”

A “terrible” thing? Why is this terrible? Because this has nothing to do with consensual sex, or even sex at all. It has everything to do with malicious, victimizing, violent rape. That’s why.

8 I have two daughters who have never been married. I’ll bring them out, and you can do what you want with them. But don’t harm these men. They are guests in my home.”

It’s so amazing to me what we have done with this story. Somehow, we have made it all about homosexuality, which it is not, and overlooked the obvious corruption of Lot, who is willing to hand over his two daughters to be gang raped.

Are you kidding me? Handing your daughters over to be gang raped?

Sadly, when people typically think of Sodom and Gomorrah, they never think about that. In fact, when Lot and his daughters depart out of the city, they decide to repay their father and rape him. Nice, right? Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth… rape for rape.

See, this is not about homosexuality, this is about harm. This is about rape, this is about sexual violence.

The evil aggression is dripping off the pages…

9 “Don’t get in our way,” the crowd answered. “You’re an outsider. What right do you have to order us around? We’ll do worse things to you than we’re going to do to them.”

Here again, these violent demands to commit violent rape are coming from all the men of Sodom, not the gay community. And certainly, this is not a consensual arrangement being desired. No chance, no way.

“The crowd kept arguing with Lot. Finally, they rushed toward the door to break it down.10 But the two angels in the house reached out and pulled Lot safely inside. 11 Then they struck everyone in the crowd blind, and none of them could even find the door. 12-13 The two angels said to Lot, “The Lord has heard many terrible things about the people of Sodom, and he has sent us here to destroy the city. Take your family and leave. Take every relative you have in the city, as well as the men your daughters are going to marry.”

For God, when He hears the name Sodom, He has an entire list of “terrible things” in mind. Yet, interestingly, on that list is not homosexuality.

In fact, Ezekiel 16:49 declares, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

“Overfed,” are you kidding me?

We Christians, who for many of us, our favorite past time is to stuff our faces at the local Golden Corral to the point of chosen obesity after Sunday morning preaching. Seriously? We are looking for a condemnation of homosexuality in this passage that just isn’t there, while completely turning a blind eye to the “overfed” sin that God makes clear is certainly there.

This is not a text about homosexuality, especially homosexual orientation.

This is passage about the condemnation of violent sexual behavior. A condemnation of evil, father-daughter relationships. This is a story about the breaking of strict, cultural rules of hospitality.

That’s the context, that’s the issue. Nothing more, nothing less.

In fact, when Jesus spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah, He did so to the disciples stating that if one goes into a town and people don’t receive them into their homes, it would be better for Sodom and Gomorrah on that day of judgment than it will be for the inhospitable. When Jesus, four times in the Gospels contextualizes the issue of Sodom and Gomorrah, He never mentions homosexuality. Rather, over and over again, He highlights the critical issue of hospitality.

The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were not homosexually orientated, loving men. They were men who gathered outside Lot’s door, leaving their natural, heterosexual orientation to rape people as an act of humiliation and emasculation.

This a story of deviant heterosexual males who were hell-bent on humiliating strangers by treating them as women. The evil desires of those men had nothing to do with genuine love being expressed between members of the same sex.

Dr. Richard Haynes of Duke University, who is actually anti-gay, says the following…

“The Sodom story is actually irrelevant to the topic of homosexuality. The attempted gang rape in Genesis 19 shows the depravity of the Canaanite people who lived in the cities of the plain but there is nothing in the passage pertinent to a judgment about the morality of consensual homosexual intercourse.” Dr. Richard Hayes –Duke University

Bottle Two : Leviticus Lager of 18:22

“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female: it is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22

So here we are in Leviticus. Don’t be afraid, drink it in…

The scholarship yields overwhelming, affirming evidence.

The biblical, ancient, near Eastern context, as best we can investigate, was not familiar in any way shape or form with homosexuality in the sense of a defined sexual orientation a person embodies intrinsically. In the biblical assertion that “a man shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman” the disapproving assumption was, a man would leave his natural attraction towards a woman and emasculate another man.

Here again, this text is about a forced act of humiliation and revenge. Not homosexuality.

In fact, there is am entire holiness code at play here.

If you keep reading further in Leviticus, (most stop after reading this singular verse) not only is the act of “a male lying with a male as with a woman” articulated as unorthodox, but all sexual acts that do not lead to procreation are declared an abomination.

Ruh, roh Scooby.

The Hebrew understanding of the time was that the male seed contained everything needed for human life. No knowledge of eggs or ovulation. It was assumed within the culture that a woman only provided the incubating space.

This was once an Aristotelian world where he, one of the most brilliant minds of the millennia before Christ, suggested that a male seed exclusively produced a male being. Where did women come from? The same place that malformations came from. Genetic syndromes, those are all cousins to a female. Aristotle suggests that a male produces a male, but sometimes things go awry and a female is born.

Folks, this is the context here. And if you take a text out of its context, you can make a con out of the text. To waste of male seed during a menstrual cycle, engage in autoeroticism. All was equivalent to murder because of the wasting of the male seed.

Yet, if you still believe this passage is somehow addressing homosexuality, of which Moses and the Leviticus code had no knowledge. It doesn’t even mention female-to-female activity. Why? Here again, homosexuality is not the issue. Moses knew nothing of this, as we do today.

In fact, if you believe this Leviticus stuff somehow addresses homosexuality, then you have to believe it all the way. So when later, the Leviticus code dictates that all kinds of like behaviors are punishable with death. Now you are going to have to jump on board with ISIS to align with this interpretive thinking.

But, let me suggest, before you start killing all the homosexual people you believe this passage is addressing, you are going to be dead yourself. These same passages forbid many sexual practices and declare them to be punishable by death. Practices that are very likely accepted and practiced by you. Yes, you.

One example. If a bride was found not to be a virgin before marriage, you simply brought her parents up on charges, as women were seen as property. She was taken to the city gate and stoned… to death.

Now let me ask you, how many homosexual condemning females are out there who have had sex before marriage? How many homosexual condemning husbands are out there whose wives were not virgins at marriage?

Need I say more.

If you are looking for a condemnation of homosexuality, you are going to have to belly up to a different bar.

Drink it in, Leviticus Lager of 18:12.

A condemnation of homosexuality? It’s just not there.

Bottle Three : Romans Imperial Stout

1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Now even if you just skimmed this passage, it’s obvious that within these verses is contained a long list of problems. Yet, many Christians, when they think of Romans 1, conveniently dismiss issues like gossip or slander, or any of the other many behaviors listed. Rather, this passage has become the biggest clobber text of those who desire to condemn one thing and one thing alone… homosexuality as a sin.

Yet ironically, Paul does not even begin to indicate the issue of homosexual orientation or homosexuality. We know from history that Paul didn’t have any sense or knowledge of the idea and reality of homosexual orientation.

In fact, if you know any gay people, you know that as early as they can remember, they didn’t choose their homosexuality. With tears running down their eyes, they beg to be understood, “Why would I ever choose this, in such a hateful world, why would I ever want to be gay?”

Some committing suicide, others dealing with severe depression. The hell that we have brought upon so many with this passage (and others) from Scripture is disgusting at best.

Folks, homosexuality isn’t an issue, it’s not a debate, it’s people. Living, breathing people. Beautifully and wonderfully made… gay. No choice, no sin, no different than the color of your skin.

Paul had no reference for homosexuality, for homosexual orientation, or for romantic love between two people of the same sex. None.

In fact, it was Paul, in a pre-scientific world, that reported he had an experience where he went up into the “third heaven.” Yet, we know now, that reality does not exist. Paul however didn’t, because he had no reference for that. It was a different day, in a different time.

Paul once acknowledged…

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.” 2 Corinthians 5:16

Paul is admitting that he not only once understood Christ incorrectly, he confesses that he also misunderstood humanity. Am I making a case to discredit Paul? No, but rather showing that contextually, this was a much different time with a much different window to the world.

What Paul is doing in this Romans text is simple. He is condemning those with a heterosexual orientation, which came “naturally” to them, who were acting in homosexual ways.

The text says plainly and clearly, they “exchanged, gave up.” You can’t exchange or give up what you don’t already have… heterosexuality. Their set, disposed, natural orientation… they exchanged that for homosexual acts. They went beyond their heterosexuality, out of power, hate, anger, or lust and acted homosexually.

Paul new nothing of people who for them, “leaving” would mean leaving their natural homosexual attraction to exchange it for heterosexual attraction.

I don’t know about you, but I have many gay friends.

Some have asked, “Chris, when did you decide to be heterosexual?” “How would you like me to read you Romans 1 and then ask you to exchange your heterosexuality for homosexuality?” “Go over Chris and hold that man’s hand and kiss his lips. Do it, turn the switch, flip it over. And if you can’t, you are the evil, God hater of which this passage is speaking.”

In fact, in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul, using the same term “unnatural,” said it was unnatural for a woman to cut her hair and pray without a head covering, and for a man to have long hair. He said it was “unnatural,” the same term he used in Romans 1.

Yet, apparently we are very approving of those things now.

Paul later said it was “unnatural” that the Gentiles be included in the church. Really? You know who the Gentiles are, don’t you? You and me.

With new information, revelation, and experience, Paul realized on several occasions, in regards to some very important spiritual matters, he was wrong. Flat out, wrong.

But even if you still believe somehow Paul is condemning homosexuality, you better keep reading.

For the point of Romans 1 was to describe the evils of a Roman world. Even calling out an unspoken referencing to people like Gaius Caligula who, along with others, practiced most everything on the list of evils in the text. Additionally, making a reference to the Levitical list Paul’s Jewish audience would have known.

Yet, the Romans 1 passage goes on, referring the reader back to this long list of atrocities…

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” Romans 2:1-2

Yes, you read it correctly. By our judging of anyone whom we think is on that list, we are actually practicing those very same things. That, my friends, is what you become.

Don’t you just hate it when the Bible gets in the way of our self-righteous, condemnation.

In fact, there is a real sense that when we ask gay people to leave their natural homosexuality and exchange it for heterosexuality, we are admonishing them to do the very “unnatural” thing this passage declares as evil and terrible.

Take a moment, and drink all that in.

Bottle Four : Corinthians Chocolate Porter

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals.” -1 Corinthians 6:8

Bottle Five : Saint Timothy IPA

“9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”   -1Timothy 1:9-11

The words here in both passages (above) that have been translated as “homosexual’ is the Greek word “arsenokoites.”

This is a hard word to translate to say the least. So difficult, that overtime the treatment of this word has moved from translation to interpretation.

In fact, this word “arsenokoites” is so complicated that before 1946, no Bible translation had ever translated this word to read “homosexual.” I’ll give you a second to try pick up your jaw.

Before 1946, the word “homosexual” was not even in the Bible. No place, no where.

Only starting in the mid-20th century, several translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 were changed to read “homosexuals” will not “inherit the kingdom of God.”

A clear move from a translation to an interpretation.

In fact, the word “homosexual” wasn’t even an actual word until the middle 1800’s.

The word “arsenokoites,” many new testament scholars agree, is rarely used even in secular writings, and does not refer to homosexuality, nor even homosexual activity.

Martin Luther, the Church reformer, translated these same passages to mean “boy abusers.” He understood “arsenokoites” as a reference to pedophilia.

In fact, before 1945, nearly every bible translation interpreted “arsenokoites” as something to do with prostitution, pedophilia, and the like.

Even the KJV did not translate “arsenokoites” as homosexuality, but rather in terms of elite, oversexed men abusing themselves with boys, girls, or animals. It was a practice widely accepted by rulers and ruling men of the day.

Therefore, through the use of these two passages, Paul is bringing a strong condemnation on primarily elite men, who had never been confronted before, for leaving what is natural to them and sexually abusing just about anything they could find. Primarily, pedophilia.

And let me tell you, there is a big difference between pedophilia and homosexuality.

If you knew the kind of sexual practices that were going on during Paul’s time in the Greco Roman world, it was disgusting. Old, perverted men were treating boys like pigs.

The people of this day didn’t have a heterosexual, homosexual perspective. It wasn’t them over here, and those over there. No, they had a heterosexual context where people exchanged that orientation and used acts of homosexuality to overpower with domination, humiliation, slavery, rape, and temple prostitution.

We should all praise God for condemning those deplorable acts, but we have today with homosexuality, is completely and utterly not the same.

And because of this, in recent years, many New Testament scholars have been pushing back against these translations. All because this word “arsenokoites” being translated to mean “homosexual” isn’t a translation, it’s a blatant, biased interpretation.

Drink it in…

Same-sex relationships, based on orientation, between equal-status partners weren’t on the radar screen at all. Neither the word “homosexual” nor the concept it represents existed when the Bible was written.

It is high time we recognize, like Paul and others were willing to do so, we got it wrong.

“My people are being destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6

Drink it in, drink it all in…

Sodom and Gomorrah Summer Ale

Leviticus Lager of 18:22 (20:13)

Romans Imperial Stout

Corinthians Chocolate Porter

Saint Timothy IPA

…a six pack of biblical, gay affirmation.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Stay thirsty.

Christian, Shut Up And Listen Already

I get it, there are a lot of high-volume issues at play in the jukebox of our culture.

Sexuality, immigration, terrorism, politics, economics, war, racism, poverty, abortion. All, filling the airwaves with their sound. Complex voices, ringing around our heads. Stirring our thoughts, twisting our emotions. Reverberating straight to the bottom, rattling the very essence of our souls, forcing the ultimate question…

What does it mean to be Christian?

You want it to calm down, turn down, settle down, make it all go away. What you don’t understand you label as noise. What doesn’t fit your theological playlists, you quickly eject. Cupping your ears, you crank up the volume of familiar hymns. Drowning out, discrediting what doesn’t align. The voices God wants so desperately to speak to your faith, you simply want to subtract.

What you call static, Jesus calls sacred…humanity crying out, if only to be heard.

So much to learn, so much to understand, so much to be gained. This is what learners of Jesus are supposed to do… learn.

Our culture is a concert hall of instruments, each in their own way, crying out with the same longing. A beautiful song. What does it truly look like to be human? To be pleasing to our Maker. Is it being more like this, or more like that. Living this way or living that. Believing more over here, or believing more over there. Each having a melody. If only to be heard.

What you call unconscionable, even unlovable, Jesus calls undeniable, even in-condemnable…humanity crying out, if only to be affirmed.

At the core of every soul is an ancient desire fashioned from the eternal, to love and be loved. To have value, to have worth. Meaning, purpose… beating the beats of our heart. To be alive in our living.  Just… to be… frigging… affirmed.

But you don’t hear it, and you won’t hear it.

Sadly, we Christians suck at learning, even more at listening. We think it’s all about the concluding and the speaking. In our arrogance, we assume we already have what needs to be said, believe it’s our job to say it, and people need to hear it.

Spoiler alert. Christian, nobody gives a damn! You’ve lost your credibility. You’re all talk, no listen.

Licking your chops, unfolding your talking points, “this is what the Bible says.” We play in bands of like-mindedness, creating walls of sound to out-sound opponents. Walled in spiritual neighborhoods of little pink theologies. We Christians are experts at volume; speaking over, drowning out… ideas, creeds, viewpoints… even people.

This is who we have become. Noisy. Mute-button, Christians.

Can you just shut up already? For Christ’s sake… shut up?

You are speaking to be heard rather then listening to become a voice. And therefore, you have no voice that our culture is willing to hear.

When is the last time you sat down, and just listened?

Listened to the journey of a homosexual. The path of one who is transgender. A Muslim’s story. Or that of a mother who had an abortion. Broke bread with one who believes differently. Sat at the feet of a black man, an hispanic women. Dare I ask, maybe even an enemy.

When was the last time, you frigging just listened?

Give me the day, the hour, the minute.

I’m not talking about listening to tolerate, with spiritual eyes rolling in the back of your head. Going through mission-statement motions.

I’m talking about sitting to be transformed. To see Jesus where you believe you will see none.

Is your faith system so weak that you can’t think, reflect, listen, question… even learn, possibly come to a new perspective?

Within the sound of everything you label as noise, are the cries of real people, longing to be heard.

Our culture is listening for our listening, not for our words.

There should never be a voice that needs to force to be heard. Never a person questioning, desperately desperate to be affirmed.

Yet this is what we Christians have created. Hell on earth. A culture, a world, that has to cry, beg, plead… just to be heard, just to be loved, just to be affirmed.

That is the last thing that should be happening where we Christians are near.

Folks, this isn’t a game where the loudest voice wins. In fact, it’s where we listen, and only where we listen, that Jesus begins.

For the every cry of every person has already been heard and answered by Grace. We simply listen and point to the beauty of His face.

It’s that simple.

He is our voice, His Gospel is this… that in Christ, all are unconditionally loved, affirmed, valued, and desired. None are better, only different. Adored, delighted, saved, made whole, in Him.

This is our faith. This is the Kingdom.

It only begins however, when we shut up, and listen.

Christian…

for Christ’s sake…

shhhh, shhh, shh,

shut up…

and listen.

A Garden, Jesus, and Affirming Gay Marriage

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do believe I have the Spirit.

I am listening, searching, and progressing as I grow in Grace.

Paul, in scripture, realized that with certain issues, there was no specific command from the Lord from which to gain guidance. In response, he sided with Grace and a listening to the Spirit as the foundation from which He gave instruction.

Enter, gay marriage.

If you are a follower of my writings and teachings, you will know that I do not believe all homosexuality is a sin. In other places (here), I share in detail my understanding of the six “clobber” passages that are commonly proof-texted to declare homosexuality as sin.

Yet, I am often asked to address the biblical narrative of the Garden of Eden where we have Adam and Eve, male and female, and in the minds of many, that is ample evidence that God does not support homosexuality nor gay marriage.

Well, to be sure, the Garden of Eden is the first, ideal model. It is a place of wholeness at every level. Yet, it is clear, we are no longer in Eden, and not everything in Eden is transferred nor always transferable to life outside of Eden. Jesus recognized this.

Maybe I should repeat that… Jesus recognized this.

In Eden, to be sure we have Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, I’ll give you that. But we also don’t have Adam and Eve plus Susie if things don’t work out. Yet, interesting enough, Jesus made allowance for life outside of Eden. He exchanged the ideal for the real. In regards to the issue of divorce and remarriage, he added to the model of Eden a new reality… divorce under certain circumstances. In Eden, divorce and remarriage was not the model, but Jesus brings it outside of Eden as, in certain situations, a new, faithful, authentic, God honoring possibility.

Wow.

It is interesting to me, that not only do we not have divorce and remarriage in Eden, we also don’t have adoption.

The only model for children and parenting in Eden is biologically connected. The reality that parents can have children without biological congruency of origin is unheard of in Eden. That parents can have children unnaturally, going against the biological, genetic, reproductive model of Eden is absent from Eden. It’s no where to be found.

Yet, adoption is found outside of Eden, and it is just as real, beautiful, authentic, and faithful as the model of biological parenting we see in Eden. I have two biological children (Eden) and two adopted children (outside of Eden) and I can tell you, there is no difference. They are our children purely and equally. No distinctions whatsoever. None.

So is the case with gay marriage. It is not the model of Eden, but that does not determine it cannot be a faithful, authentic, God honoring reality outside of Eden.

From Jesus, we have no command about bi-racial marriage, it’s not in Eden, but we do have the Spirit. And the Spirit has progressed us to affirmation, to see the beauty that God always saw.

From Jesus, we have no command about adoption, it’s not in Eden, but the Spirit has shown us its authenticity and God-delighting.

From Jesus, we have no command about homosexual marriage, it is not in Eden, but we do have the Spirit. The Spirit, that is always challenging our understanding of what can be authentic, beautiful, and affirmed in the mind of God.

Adoption, remarriage, bi-racial marriage, gay marriage…

Can be.

Is.

The Spirit.

Affirmation.

…words to ponder.

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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