Tag: heart

If Today, Your Heart Breaks And Your Hope Is Fading

There is perhaps no heavier and more gruesome weight to bear than to be a person living under the oppression of another.

Good people with worthy causes never seek nor require the submission or subservience of a fellow human being. Rather, only the heart captivated by the evils of privilege, power, and greed would ever connect its mind and actions to that which desires to rule and control.

Sadly, spiritually justified and inflamed by conservative Evangelicalism, we now live in a culture where white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian privilege is clawing and scrapping for dominance. A dominance that is apparently willing to adopt nearly every form of oppression and abuse to accomplish and secure its aspirations. Emboldened by the lusts of entitlement, the good-ole-boys club that has become of much of right-wing Christianity now licks its chops at every opportunity to push their sexist, racist, self-serving, duplicit, and bigoted ideology onto the center stage of America.

What started with the rape and murder of the American Indian and the brutal slavery of black people, has now poured over into the condemnation of the LGBTQ community, the abhorrent discrimination of women, and the ruthless exploitation of the least-of-these. It is becoming all too clear, as history reveals their blood ladened trail, that conservative Evangelicalism in America will seek, kill, and destroy anything that presents a threat to their power and privilege. No woman, no minority, no disagreer, no individual, and no free thinking freedom-lover is safe.

In fact, now like never before, at the hands of much of conservative Evangelicalism, women are openly and permissively seen and treated as objects of male, sexual gratification and service, the LGBTQ community is openly and permissively seen and treated as divinely declared abominations, minorities are openly and permissively seen and treated as inherently inferior, and non-believers and non-conformers are carefully marked as the enemy. Indeed, the horrific realities portrayed in the popular television show, “The Handmaid’s Tale” are what life truly looks like if conservative Evangelicalism gets its way. Sadly, there are no exaggerations.

To that end, with every headline it seems we are frightfully moving closer to the evil, dystopian dreams of right-wing Christian conservatism. And now, with the recent, deplorable, and national mocking of Christine Blasey Ford, the belittling of female sexual assault survivors, and the rushed and manipulated confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, it’s enough to make ones heart sick and hopes surrender to the darkness.

For sure, these are terrible, frightening times that we live in as an evil Empire rises and breathes its fire from white privileged steeples everywhere.

Yet today, if your heart breaks and your hope is fading, there is good news that comes forth from our shared misery.

For out of the ashes of our disdain, you can be well assured…

Your Soul Is Calibrated To The Divine- Though, at times, it may feel much the opposite, there is nothing wrong with you—I promise, and I repeat, there is nothing wrong with you. Your disgust, as you gaze upon the nation and people we are becoming at the hands of right-wing religiosity, is not a sign of illness nor insanity, but rather, a sure declaration of beautiful health and clarity. With every prompting swelling up from within to vomit in dismay, the goodness of your heart is ringing true with divine confirmation. For this you must know, God also hates so much of what our nation has been and is now aspiring to further become. With every moment of brutal injustice, discrimination, condemnation, greed, violence, and the religious rape of Jesus and His Gospel of Grace, a soul calibrated to the divine cannot help but to become enraged. In times like this, it’s a painful thing to have a heart in sync with the Creator. Yet, this is the bravery that is needed for these important hours. A bravery of heart willing to endure the burden of being good and of God in a bad world of evil.    

You Are Further Awakening To The Darkness- Every time a woman opens her eyes and sees the sexism she once believed was her God-given role in life as now being abusive and contrary to the heart of God, a human being awakens to the darkness. Every time a white man or woman acknowledges their inherent privilege and falls to their knees in repentance for their ignorance and callousness, a human being awakens to the darkness. Every time our hearts mourn all the more deeply in witness of the manifestation of religious greed, injustice, and oppression, we are further awakening to the darkness. In these times, to have a heart filled with brokenness and a soul standing at the edge of hopelessness is to be a human being further awakened to the darkness that would devour us. And in this awakening to the darkness, we are further embracing the Light, knowing the difference that we might finally enter the fight instead of becoming its victim.  

Resistance Is Its Own Victory- No heart that collides with the person of Jesus can avoid the call to resist the ever reaching venomous tentacles of the conservative Evangelical Empire. For it is our good responsibility and highest honor to stand in solidarity with the least-of-these and to never surrender the values of Grace, unconditional love, equality, truth, justice, freedom, and divine affirmation for all. Not because we are superior, but because our redemptions our mutually intertwined. We are brothers and sisters—none of us better, only different. In our willingness to unravel from the fetal position of despair and stand tall in our commitment to resist, we break the cycles into which the enemy would have us forever seduced. Resistance is the refusal to allow evil to be done against another, and the refusal to become the evil done against us. In so doing, we have already won—breaking the chains, unleashing our hearts, partnering with the Divine, and standing on the right side of history. This, is its own victory.

Change Is A Vote Away- In the end, grab ‘em by the ballot box, I say. Not just in the elections, but in all of life. Decide to be a person of true equality where many will discriminate and cling to privilege. Choose to be a person who speaks out where others remain silent. Embody the bravery to stand in solidarity where others shrink back into the shadows. Take hold of the moments to be the nonviolent change you desire to see.

Every day we cast our vote.

When facing that bigoted family member with whom we fear their rejection or the awkwardness that would surely ensue. In the words of LGBTQ affirmation we so desperately want to type into our Facebook status, cringing in panic at the relational dominoes that might soon tumble down. In the store where the person standing in front of us is being discriminated, and yet everyone remains unengaged. In the workplace where closed door sexism runs rampant, yet a call to HR would jeopardize everything. In church, where deep down inside you know better, but the cost of resistance, free thinking, and charting a new course comes with a price seemingly too high to pay.

Every day, in every moment, we cast our vote.

Yet today, if your heart truly breaks and your hope is truly fading, may this be the day your bravery becomes more powerful than the Oppressor and the oppression they hope to bring, that our future might not become the sum of our fears, nor the result of yielding to them.

Be like Blasey.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

Purchase Chris Kratzer’s new book, Leatherbound Terrorism…

An Unstoppable Force : The Heart Of A Parent Of An LGBTQ Child

I have met some astounding people over the course of my ministry and life. People who have prevailed against seemingly insurmountable odds. Simply being around them charges the atmosphere with hope, energy, and strength. They inspire and fill the heart with a desire to abandon all fear.

Yet, nothing compares to encountering the force that is a parent of a LGBTQ child.

Quite honestly, I thought I knew what passion-of-heart looked like. But then a gaze into the soul of parent of an LGBTQ child. It only took a glimpse. That was enough to be forever convinced. Never underestimate the heart of a parent of an LGBTQ child. It’s an unstoppable force.

You might assume that upon their child coming out as LGBTQ, they automatically flip their theological switches to fit this newly revealed reality. Not a chance. No one studies the scriptures, searches the soul, and presses into their faith more than the parent of an LGBTQ child. These are smart, informed, wise people who do their homework. They take no shortcuts in the journey of walking through these issues, faith step by faith step— tirelessly seeking God’s heart and looking through all the windows. Traveling down a path of deep discernment, revelation, and spiritual investigation, a road that only few are willing to shadow. For many, theirs is the prize, the discovery of truth rarely discovered— the God affirmation of all of His creation… including, especially LGBTQ.

Don’t think for a moment these are unraveled people; frail, misguided, pushovers. Playing some kind of victim card as if their lot is to be pitied. Strength finds itself in a willingness to cry, to shake, to toss and turn through sleepless nights and yet press on anyways. No one who is weak, wrestles and beats the chest of God— stands there and takes it; insult, ignorance, bullets of bigotry. Chasing down the question, what does the future bring? Will this ever get any better? Walk a mile in their shoes. While the trees fall in front of them, the road buckles underneath them, you will find pure resolve. An inner strength, a beauty amidst the ashes, wings defying the gravity of oppression—all the while declaring, lifting out the ways they are blessed.

Yet nothing compares to the loyalty locked onto their LGBTQ child. No one who is human handles anything perfect. The journey of an LGBTQ parent… it’s a maze, filled with highs and lows, twists and turns— clouds of denial, reoccurring doubts, even for some, the rejecting of one’s own. This is a complicated issue with many strings attached. The set of dominoes that falls from the moment the closet door opens “Mom, dad, I’m…” not to mention, the second door opening, “Yes, my child is…”— each family experience a bit different, all difficult at best. Yet at the end of the day, much more so than not, there remains a loyalty, of love beyond love that wraps around their LGBTQ child refusing to let go. Try and break the seal, the bond— you cannot.

These are men and women, walking through sinking sand, climbing over barbed wires, fist to cuff with demons— doing the best they can. Willing to risk it all; to stand with, to stand for, what’s most important… truth, life, justice… their children.

I say to you, if you are looking for hope, for a clear sign of humanity’s splendor.

If you are looking for what God is doing in this world, a quaking of His movement.

If you are looking for a strength, the bursting forth of light, able to break through steel clouds of darkness.

If you looking for modern day Mary’s and Joseph’s, an advent of where God is with us.

Look no further than the parent of an LBGTQ child.

A star is shining upon a place, a people not expected, birthing new revelations of the Father, awakening the world to the Spirit’s movement.

The heart of a parent of an LGBTQ child is a beautiful, strong, human, divine, unstoppable force.

If you are ever honored to know them, I beg you, sit at their feet. Listen.

Listen closely to their stories. Dine intimately with their children. Take off you sandals, for where you stand is holy ground— where you sit, the presence of nothing less than the Divine. You are among a people, a manifestation of heaven.

Love them and love them well.

Because sadly, they rarely find room in the hearts of those who should most receive them— living lives outwitting the forces, the religious, the Herod’s that seek to destroy them. Hoping and praying for those willing to simply listen.

Their deepest desire… is there any room in your heart, to simply listen?

May they find rest, sanctuary, friendship, and affirmation in you.

The heart of a parent of an LGBTQ child is an unstoppable force.

If you are willing to listen, to love, to learn… your heart might become unstoppable too.

Don’t Homophobe Me, If You Don’t Know Me

Since becoming a defender, advocate, and voice for the LGBT community, I have been the toilet in which many have squatted their negative feedback. There is nothing like a good online, comment-section spanking. Or, walking through a local store only to bump into the disapproving glares of those who were once friends.

Yet, my experience, just four months into this gay-affirming, homosexual-loving journey as a pastor, dwarfs in comparison to what the LGBT community endures every moment of every day.

Sadly, the emotional, spiritual, and even physical carnage caused to supporters and members of the homosexual community is almost exclusively generated by Christians. Go figure.

Even more disturbing is the glaring reality that Christians who take a condemning posture against homosexuals and homosexuality, often have little to no personal, relational connection with people in this demographic. They harbor great energy and willingness to condemn homosexuality intellectually and biblically, but distance themselves from any personal interaction of meaning and journey with homosexual people. Keeping everything in the comfortable and familiar confines of debate land.

This is a deeply troubling reality. Ideas, creeds, perspectives, and alike are all very important. Yet, in my experience, debate is primarily used by those who simply want to assert opinions and convince themselves they have position over another. It is the mind games of small minds. Loaded with information, lacking in transformation. Debate is an effective way of dealing with the issues without the issues dealing with you.

Nowhere is this more evident than with homosexuality. Hiding behind laptop screens. Endless circular arguments. Statistics, studies, and biblical texts, keeping the heart at a comfortable, sterile distance. Church committee task forces, Sunday sermons bent on defending long-held positions. All requiring little to no soul process, faith, and receptivity to the Spirit. As Jesus admonished, one can diligently search the scriptures, debate issues of the mind, defend human, hermeneutic tradition and completely miss the heart of Christ at same time.

Perhaps that’s the whole idea. Heaven forbid Jesus gets in the way of our ignorance, bigotry and misguided theologies.

In fact, I’ve come to a place in my own ministry where with some people who want to criticize and debate me in regards to homosexuality, I enforce what I call “The Rule of Six.” Before I am willing to take one step further in debating the mere six bible passages relating to homosexuality, I suggest the person first develop genuine, meaningful relationships with six homosexual people. There’s a revolutionary concept.  As those relationships emerge, there is a much better chance we can come back to the biblical texts with an open mind and heart, ready to consider afresh the Spirit of God on this matter. No, it’s not a hard and fast rule, but the idea is extremely important.

Until you have a truly genuine, open-hearted relational connection to homosexual people, you disqualify yourself from the debate, and from a position of criticism and condemnation of gay people and their supporters.

Don’t homophobe me if you don’t know me.

Have you taken the journey of a homosexual? No.

Have you taken the journey of a person who has become a gay-affirming, homosexual loving pastor? No.

Have you truly immersed your heart into the stories and experiences of people who are homosexual? Probably not.

Have you thoroughly studied out the issue of homosexuality, openly listening to voices that speak directly against your anti-gay stance and biblical interpretations? Probably not.

Chances are, you don’t know homosexuals, you don’t me, and you really don’t know this issue. You may know of them, you may know of me, you may know of this issue. But you do not know, because you do not know.

The longest distance between two points is a shortcut. And try as we may, there are no shortcuts with homosexuality.

The truth is, it’s only when we humbly connect with homosexuals and homosexuality at a personal level that minds begin to change from the heart outward. Only then, do we become willing to rethink long-held thoughts. Only then, do we start looking for ways to affirm instead of ways to condemn. Only then, will what we see and hear in front of us, through the stories and journeys of living, breathing gay people, show itself to be nothing like our spoon-fed biblical view of homosexuality.

I know, you can’t wait to write in the comment section below that it’s not necessary to look at other vantage points, nor engage in meaningful relationships with homosexual people for you to know God’s heart on the matter. It’s all so clear to you, and such things are below you.

Maybe you should pump the brakes a bit, because that’s what Paul, the biblical writer thought. In the limited landscape of his perspective and experience, at one point, he had determined that it was “unnatural” for the Gentiles to be included in the Kingdom. However, upon further information and personal experience, he later determined otherwise. Completely changing his view. He realized, he was wrong. Thank God, because guess what? We’re the Gentiles.

See, it’s easy to take shots at people we aren’t willing to sit down with. Condemn things we don’t fully understand, and reject that which challenges the very foundations of our spirituality, humanity, and theology.

There are a lot of string attached and a lot at stake. The costs of being a gay-affirming, homosexual loving person can be great.

Yet, at the end of the day, at least have the integrity to study the issue out, going far beyond the intellectual all the way to seeing through the eyes and heart of homosexual people and the LGBT community.

I double-dog dare you. Walk a mile or two in their shoes. Open your soul, humble your mind, build some relationships for crying out loud. Then, and only then, wherever you land at any given point, you do so from a genuine, humble journey of listening, relating, considering, and experiencing the issues as openly and fully as possible. Heart to heart, hand to hand.

Until then, don’t homophobe me if you don’t know me.

Not me, not my gay friends, not the gay community.

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