Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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God Honors Laws of Man

Panorama_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_Building_at_Dusk

From my facebook files:

Man can create laws, but God already has his laws in place and there is no higher court capable of overturning or revising those laws. Make no mistake…God will not honor any laws created by man. Have no fear, He is still on His throne! And He still loves all sinners….me included.

Dear facebook friend,

It is fortunate for you that what you have been and done for your whole life isn’t illegal. That somehow makes your past not so…sinful. Sure, you’re straight. But you got knocked up out of wedlock. And, like me, you’re divorced and remarried.   And, really, I think you have that whole thing about God not honoring the laws of man all wrong.  Your Good Book says:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Romans 13: 1-10(NIV)

 

Sounds like God approves of marriage(that’s what we’re calling it now).  So please stop making the baby Jesus cry.  Show your neighbors some love and respect, will ya?

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Missing the Point

70mb film, uppercut select

Is that a whole forest over there?  Or is it just trees?  I can hardly tell the difference.

I, myself, have been guilty of saying that political correctness can go too far. It can be taken to extremes.  But is it political correctness that is taken to extremes or is it that we are trying to tip toe around delicate issues to the extent that we don’t want to hurt anyone’s wee wittle feelings at the expense of honesty?

My last post shone a spotlight on what it means to miss the point.  It is easy to spot sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc….etc…etc…

…in everyone else.  We tend to have a gargantuan blind spot when it comes to ourselves.  I am no exception to that. Oh, how I wish I were.

We often try to justify it when we say or do something inappropriate, hurtful, or uncouth.  When we’re called out on it we get defensive and immediately begin the damage control. Human nature rules the day.  When we say it or do it we want everyone else to know how “not racist” or “not sexist” or “not homophobic” we are.  We’d never!

But we just did.  How to reconcile momentary lapses of judgement with personal character…well, that is the rub, isn’t it?

Are we missing the big picture?  The broader concept of what’s being said is completely lost the minute we begin rationalizing our own behavior.  We can’t see the forest for the trees.

These posts are not meant to either endorse nor condemn any particular lifestyles or life choices.  These posts are meant to highlight both the blatant and subtle sexist and misogynist undercurrent that permeates society.

Let me make this clear if I haven’t already.  I think men are as much a product of society as women are.  The way they were raised, the messages we receive from the media and advertisements, the systematic undermining of minority groups and those perceived as weaker – all of that plays into the dynamics of society.  The top dog wants to stay the top dog all the while protesting that they endorse equality.

Oh, yes, we endorse equality.  As long as it doesn’t diminish our own privileged place.  But wait, equality might just mean that privilege isn’t so much a privilege anymore.  It might mean…we are all of equal value as individuals.

This is an easy concept to say one is in favor of.  Yes, on paper that looks like it should, in fact, be so.  But what about individually?  Do we, with our own sense of entitlement, push anyone who dares gain an equal footing back down? Are we, individually, missing the point?

 


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Coming Out of the Dark….

…Ages, that is.

“When evil is called good, darkness is ushered into the land. And with the darkness comes a threat to our freedoms,”  says Janet Porter, author of the Faith2Action documentary, The Criminalization of Christianity, as she walks into view in the darkness under a moonlit forest, the tree branches bare.

What is this evil, you might ask?  The gays.  It’s always the gays.

Conservative Christians are alleging all sorts of actions by the “gay agenda”, such as making it illegal for a business that has an owner who has Biblical principles from opening in specific locations. Mike Huckabee has this to say:

What kind of freedom of speech do we have, if a person who expresses a biblical viewpoint about marriage is told they can’t open their business in a location?”

Yes, there has been much controversy over wedding services providers refusing service to LGBT couples.  Nowhere has anyone been told that if they have a Biblical viewpoint they cannot open their business. They have been told that they may not discriminate against customers based on sexual orientation.  In turn, businesses have screamed loud and long about having the right to refuse service to anyone they see fit.  It’s quite reminiscent of the days when businesses could refuse service to people based on the color of their skin.

In response to the upholding of non-discrimination laws some businesses have opted to shut their businesses down.  Not really.  They close their storefronts and then continue to operate out of their homes.

Another Conservative Christian pastor has this to say:

...homosexual activists get everything they want. Nothing less than criminalization of Christianity.

Listen, conservatives, it’s not that hard.  No one is forcing homosexuality on you.  The legalization of homosexual marriage in no way forces you to be homosexual.  How is that so hard to comprehend?    What you don’t seem to recognize is that what you want to do absolutely is forcing your lifestyle on others.  If you get to dictate whether or not consenting adults can marry then it is you who is cramming your morality down the throats of those who do not agree with you.


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Pious Piety: Speaking the Truth in Love

 or Ruth being an insufferable fundie.  Or is it fundy?  No matter.

In Ruth’s former life her ex-husband, Charles, had a cousin.  Jessica is a beautiful girl with long, curly, brunette hair, olive colored skin, and an athletic build.  She also has the voice of an angel.  She’s got some fancy name for the type of soprano she specializes in which isn’t coming to recollection at the moment, but she’s trained operatically, and has performed internationally.  A catch, you might say.

Now you know how devoutly Christian Charles’ entire family is.  Old School Christian mafia – Southern Baptist style.  So when Jessica brought her best friend to Thanksgiving no one thought anything of it.  Ruth did.  They sat awfully close together and the way they looked at each other, well, they were more than just friends.  Ruth said something to Charles about it and he just dismissed it, thought the idea was insane.  Nobody in this family would ever be…gay.  And they certainly wouldn’t bring their lover to Thanksgiving!  Not around the grandparents.  So Ruth dropped it.

After a while, though, jaws started flapping.  Jessica was bringing KrisAnne to everything.  Christmas, New Year’s, Sunday dinners.  They were pretty much joined at the hip.  So everybody started speculating.  This went on for quite a while and you can imagine the concern gossiping going on.

The next Thanksgiving Charles’ grandparents got an idea.  They’d go to Gatlinburg for the holiday and they wanted the whole family to join them.  Everybody, to a person, made the trip.  Including KrisAnne.  Charles decided it would be a good idea to find out the truth about the situation.  Didn’t sound like a bad idea so Ruth and Charles invited Jessica and KrisAnne out for dinner.

Small talk dominated the conversation over dinner, but after the plates were cleared and the coffee ordered Charles made his move.  “I’m just going to ask you what everybody else is speculating about,” he said to Jessica.  “Are you two in a relationship?  Are you…lesbians?”  Not sure how he could have gone about it, but there’s subtlety for you.  “I knew these questions were eventually coming.  I figured you’d all work this out for yourselves.  Yeah, we are.  We’re in a relationship just the same as you and Ruth.  We’ve prayed about it and know that this is right for us.”

This is where Ruth piped up.  “Jessica, I wouldn’t say this to you if I didn’t love you.  But I have to tell you we don’t agree with this.  You know what the Bible has to say about this.  It doesn’t make me love you any less, but this isn’t what God would want for you and I think you’re misguided if you think God has blessed this in any way.”

Jessica didn’t hesitate. “I’ve read the Bible and Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.  It’s not a sin.”

“Maybe not, but Paul had a lot to say about it.  And Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  The law says that it is a sin,” Ruth asserted.

“Well, Paul was a woman hater.  Look, I’m a Christian, and I go by the red letters.”

They spent the car ride back with Jessica and KrisAnne justifying how scripture didn’t condemn them.  Amazingly Jessica and KrisAnne are still Christians.  Even more Amazingly Jessica and KrisAnne didn’t hold that conversation against Ruth or Charles. In fact they became pretty good friends and they never really talked about it again.

Ruth was convinced that she’d done  the right thing.  Ruth was smug and self-satisfied in her pious piety full of pietousness.  She’d told them, in love, the truth. What she believed was the truth anyway.  Now she knows better.  It was none of Ruth’s business.  She was really just self-righteous and arrogant.

There was more to the conversation.  This was Ruth’s first encounter with someone in the LBGT community.  While she’d never say so, over the years of watching Jessica and KrisAnne together she changed a lot of her views about homosexuality even if she did still think they were probably going to hell.  They put a face on what it even meant to be homosexual.  Up until that time it had been so demonized from the pulpit that Ruth thought it was perverted.  That homosexuality meant promiscuity, orgies, pedophilia, and deviance.

Here sat these two people who were in a faithful, exclusive, loving relationship.  It was…normal.  Ruth may never get to speak to Jessica and KrisAnne again, but if she did she’d tell them how wrong she’d been.  She’d tell them she was sorry for being an insufferable fundie.  She’d ask their forgiveness for being so judgemental. She’d tell them she knows they aren’t going to hell.


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What Harm May Come?

Today I was reading an article on Yahoo!News about the president’s announcement that he believes that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry entitled Gay marriage, Obama and the fierce urgency of now: Why did he do it this week?.  I say, “why does it matter?”  I tend to get more caught up in the ridiculous comments than the actual articles anyway.  Most of them are to the effect of:  “it’s the votes, stupid”.  So Obama changed his mind about the issue for votes?

I decided to do a little research of my own. According to this UCLA study less than 4% of American population identifies themselves as gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual.  A quick google search revealed studies with even lower numbers.  The lowest number I found was 1.7%.  So lets just say somewhere between 1% and 4% identify themselves as part of that group.  Interestingly when polled a quarter of the public said they believed that number was significantly higher – 25%.

The President chose a controversial, politically charged issue to “change his mind” about just before a major election for relatively few votes?  To what effect?  I would have thought that the majority (not all, of course) of those who make up the LGBT community would have already held their alliances with the Democratic Party.  To what end would President Obama have made this announcement, at this time?

The article referenced suggested it was money.  If the LGBT community has money to give to a candidate, and they already identify with the Democratic Party, wouldn’t they have already been giving their money to the Obama Campaign?  And who in the world thinks that the same-sex marriage issue is the most important issue of this campaign anyway? Not even the LGBT community. So, again, I ask what does Obama have to gain?

Now about those ridiculous comments.  I went back to try and find one in particular that struck me.  Someone had commented that (and I paraphrase because I couldn’t find it) with 70% of Americans firmly against same-sex marriage this amounted to political suicide.  Where did that statistic come from?  Again, a quick google search revealed the following:

August 2009 LifeWay Research Poll: 61% of those who were born between 1980 and 1991 agree with same-sex marriage.

2012 Gallup Poll: 50% of Americans support the legalization of same-sex marriage

2012 Pew Research Poll: “A slim majority (52%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, and 44% oppose. The survey also found religious liberty concerns were active among a subset of those who oppose same-sex marriage. When Americans who initially oppose same-sex marriage are asked whether they would support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry if the law guaranteed that no church or congregation would be required to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples, support for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry increases 6 points, from 52% to 58%.”

If these polls are any indication the legalization of same-sex marriage is on the horizon.  But why?  Remember that only 1.7% to 4% of the population identifies as LGBT.  I would suggest that the rest of us have begun to recognize what the fundies who spout all their religious garbage in the comment section have failed to:  same-sex marriage has no effect on the sanctity of marriage.  None.

The sanctity of marriage can only be upheld between two partners who espouse the view that their marriage is sacred.  Marriage is not even sacred if only one of the partners believe it to be. Why?  Most likely the partner who feels that their bond with their mate is not sacred will do something to violate the covenant.

If there were only one couple in the entire world who believed that their marriage was sacred, it would be.  The fact that no one else believes that would make it no less so. To whom is marriage sacred?  It is sacred to two individuals who decide to make a life together in partnership with one another in good faith and covenant together to set that relationship above all others with honesty and integrity.  Is it a god who makes a marriage sacred?  I submit that it is not.  It is the people in the marriage who make it sacred.

Merriam Webster defines sacred as:

1
a : dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity <a tree sacred to the gods>
b : devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose) <a fund sacred to charity>
2
a : worthy of religious veneration : holy
b : entitled to reverence and respect
3
: of or relating to religion : not secular or profane <sacred music>
4
archaic : accursed
5
b : highly valued and important <a sacred responsibility>

Heterosexual couples have not cornered the market on relationships which are unassailable, inviolable, wholly devoted exclusively to one another, revering and respecting one another, that are highly valued and important.  Try as they might to convince themselves and others that God is the one who has defined it as between one man and one woman Christians would have to admit he sure has done a lousy job of sanctifying it.  Christian marriages fall apart at the same rate as non-Christian marriages.  One in two fails.

Will allowing same-sex marriage suddenly and radically alter the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBT?  What harm may come from allowing this relatively small percentage of the population feel human? Is that going to cause some mad rush on heterosexuals getting divorced?  Newsflash:  that’s already happening.

It’s time to dump DOMA.  It’s unconstitutional.  It is nothing short of religious in nature.  For anyone out there reading this who is against same-sex marriage, I leave you with this:

Join the evolution! 14 Steps That Will Evolve Your Views on Gay Marriage


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Reflections on the Journey

If you’ve followed this blog at all you know I once was a die-hard fundamentalist, creationist, evangelistic, conservative, inerrant “Word of God” girl.  When I began to explore and question that stance I learned very quickly that there are those who believe anything less than that and you aren’t a Christian.  It’s sad, really.

I was told when I got “saved” that the only thing I had to believe was that Jesus did for my sins.  Later I found out that I had to believe that Jesus was not only the Son of God, but that he was God.  Then I was told I had to believe the Resurrection, then the Virgin Birth, then the Trinity, then the literal account of Creation.  Little by little I was sucked in to the fundamentalist mind-set.  Sucked in may not be accurate.  I went willingly.  Until I was at the point of all the other fundamentalists.  Anyone who dared disagree with even one point of the Holy Book wasn’t a good Christian.  Would I ever have said that out loud…that if you didn’t believe the same things I believed you might need to check your ticket to the afterlife….nah.  That would be rude.

Recently Like a Child posted about the slippery slope in the science vs. Christianity debate.  The problem is not the fact that there is a debate.  I like a good debate.  It’s healthy and you can learn a lot.  No, see, the problem is what happens when healthy debate turns into “my God can beat your God” and “I know you are, but what am I?”.  Like a Child referenced a recent article in the NYT and a subsequent article at BioLogos.     

Using another’s viewpoint about homosexuality, creationism, the immaculate conception, or a myriad of other points as a barometer of their Christianity is kind of anti-Christian.  I don’t have to be a fundamentalist to call on the supposed words of Christ.  Whether he said them or not they are pretty good words to live by.  “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13.35)

When the discussion breaks down to the point that you’re questioning another’s faith because their beliefs don’t measure up to your standards you are treading on dangerous ground.  I grew weary of the ying-yanging.  Not the debating between theists and non-theists, but the discussions that quickly deteriorate into name calling and questioning the faith of those within Christianity.   Yes, Paul did say to test the spirits. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.(1 John 4:1)  Once. One.time. How many times does the Bible say to “love one another”?  I lost count. You don’t have to accept beliefs you oppose.  But you do need to accept the people who believe them. 

I know that recently I haven’t blogged much.  When I have blogged it’s either been about my personal stuff or it’s been pretty snarky.  By nature I’m not really even a snarky person.  That got old for me pretty quickly.  I’d like to have reasonable, calm, respectful discussion about the issues at hand, whatever they might be.   

I’m still pretty unsure what I believe about God or whether there even is one.  Surely even if there is not a personhood of God 1 John 4:8 is true.  Whoever does not love does not have God because God is love.  And finally 1 Corinthians 13:1 speaks volumes for how people should be treating one another. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.


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I’m Sorry

I’ve been spending my time off either working on bank reconciliations (Yay! I got a client!) or sewing drapes.  This new job and my side ventures are seriously inhibiting my writing time. 😦  I went to Tessa’s late Sunday afternoon for some much needed rest and relaxation. I floated around her swimming pool for what seemed like a couple of hours.   

She was sitting by the pool with a nice cold drink when I got out to join her.  I’m not quite sure how we got on the subject, but you know how one topic just leads to another and to another.  We have a mutual friend whose child is gay.  She told me how she’d had to “hide” him from her facebook page because she couldn’t stand to see his posts anymore.  Then she told me of something that had happened in Sunday School not too long ago.  The boy’s father made some reference to him being “different”.  She gave him a “knowing and sympathetic” nod.  I’m sure he appreciated that.  

Then she turned the conversation to one of her children.  She said if her unmarried daughter told her that she’d take her to one of those “overcoming homosexuality” centers and not allow her to come out until she professed heterosexuality.  Her daughter is twenty-three.  She can only say that because she doesn’t believe her daughter is homosexual.

I wasn’t really surprised by her comment because she often makes bold statements about things she would or wouldn’t do, seeing the world in black and white.  That is until it’s something or someone close to her.  Then she sees the shades of gray, does something completely different than the bold proclamation and stays very quiet with it.  I think if she found out that one of them was it would be a complete game-changer.  It’s always different when it hits home.  It’s easy to make these brash statements when you think you’ll never be faced with the situation you’re making such statements about.  It’s always such a pain in the derriere when those statements come back to bite you in said derriere.

Anyway the rest of the conversation went something like this:

Me:  “I get what you’re saying about Sunday School Man’s son.  I’m not a big fan of PDA of any kind.  Some things should be kept private no matter your sexual orientation.  I’ve always believed that homosexuality was a choice, but I’m starting to think differently about that.  I think people may really be born that way.  It’s not a choice, but who they are.”

Tessa:  “How can God make someone born that way when he says it’s an abomination?  It’s a choice in the same way that sometimes I think maybe I could steal something and get away with it, but I choose not to.  Maybe I was born with the tendency to steal, but I have to choose not to do that.”

Me:  “So you’re saying that if you’re really born homosexual that your choices are to either spend your life with someone you have no desire for whatsoever or to be alone because you can’t choose to be with the person you really love because they happen to have the same plumbing as you?  How messed up is that?  That you’d be born that way and as a test of your sincere love for a creator you’d have to deny yourself intimacy?  I’m not sure what I think about that.”

She quickly changed the subject and I was glad.  I didn’t want to argue or debate.  I think I made my point without doing that.  Homosexuality can hardly be equated to the desire to steal.  That’s ridiculous.  You don’t need to steal.  Everybody needs love and it’s wrong to deny people that basic need.

I did believe at one time that homosexuality was a choice, that it was like any other “sin”, and that people with homosexual “tendencies” just needed to make a choice.  Homosexuality isn’t a “tendency”.  I’m sorry I ever thought that way.  I’m sorry I was ever such a holier-than-thou, religious wing nut, up on my high horse, self-righteous fundamentalist.  Did I leave anything out?  If I did I’m sorry for that too.