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In which I tell you the truth about telling the truth

As more of us are becoming vocal about calling the Church to love our gay brothers and sisters, I’ve noticed that the first response we typically receive is: “Well, the most loving thing I can do is tell them the truth about their sin.”

Oh, really.

I’m pretty sure not a single homosexual in the Western world is unaware that most evangelical Christians believe their desires and/or lifestyle to be sinful.

If an entire history of persecution weren’t quite enough, the last few years of advertisements, books, sermons, billboards, protest signs, television and radio programming, “Fag!” name-calling, and hateful Facebook rantings would have done the trick rather nicely. So it’s a safe bet the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, and/or queer community have noticed the fear and loathing directed their way as “telling the truth” by the people of God.  (And I highly doubt most felt very loved by that experience.)

That sentence? It is one-dimensional bumper sticker lower-case truth. It’s not the whole Truth, is it? And it isn’t tough love as I understand it.

 

I believe that statement is almost always a cop-out. After all, my Bible talks more about the sins of not caring for the poor and orphans of our communities, about our pride, about idolatry, than it does about homosexuality, yet I can’t see a lot of to-scale  “truth-telling” on those topics. And, then we call it “tough love”, this truth-telling, as if that phrase, excuses our lack of grace. It’s a too-small band-aid on a complex issue representing real people with real stories and real lives with political and daily life implications we can’t even guess from our gated communities.

No, I believe that tough love means going down deep, to battle our own selfishness, our own anger,  our own frustrations, our fears, our temptations to choose being right over being gracious, to give up on having he last word, to stop convincing by arguing and harsh invectives, pinches and pricks, to win at all costs.

Tough love means Christ will win in me.

So sure, absolutely, it’s time for some tough love: it’s time to walk in the ways of love and truth together – and, yeah, that’s tough.

(The greatest irony of tough love I’ve found is that it’s only found in relaxing. It’s only found in releasing control. Love is the relationship you relax into living.  It’s only found in surrender, in living in the moment, in contentment with being and knowing the truth of enough – that He is enough and Love is enough and what I can do/offer/be is enough, too. Tough love is not found in trying harder to be more kind, more gentle, more disciplined, no, tough love says, you do not need to be right or perfect or without flaw to be loved.)

 

Let me lay a bit more truth on us: truth and love are not mutually exclusive.

Truth isn’t the heavy-handed Papa here to lay down the discipline. Real truth sets free, truth invites, truth locks hands with grace, kisses love, and outlasts all of the fashionable Facebook rants and fear-baiting rhetoric, all of the splinter-spotting by the plank-in-the-eye crowd.

Besides, we aren’t telling the whole truth, not yet.

Are we telling this truth, too?

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.You are cherished.You were chosen even before creation. Your hairs are numbered. You were knit together in your mother’s womb.

No one is righteous, no, not one. God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world but to reconcile us all to Himself.

God is not distant or angry; he is Love. God desires to lavish love on you. He loves you with an everlasting love. His plans for you are good ones, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.

God is close to the broken-hearted. He is not counting your sins.

Nothing can separate you from God’s love. 

 

The most loving thing we can do is tell the truth, absolutely. So let’s tell all of the truth.

And then let’s live that truth, love together, learning together every day, with real people in our real walking-around lives, without judgement or withholding or fear or stereotypes or who’s-in-and-who’s-out rhetoric. I highly doubt anyone will see Christ in another bit of  drive-by “truth-telling” of that nature. No, the time for simple slogans is over.

The community of God are the ones who can stop worrying about telling the truth, and start living the whole truth out – the glorious, gorgeous, lavish, wild, unfair, and love-filled truth of the Gospel.

 

This post was stirred up by my friend Heather of the EO’s letter to her lesbian non-Christian friend, and her friend, Vikki’s, gracious letter in return, as well as the responses and repostings I’ve witnessed.

Continue Reading · faith, fearless, homosexuality, love, social justice · 127

In which I share 4 reasons why I am NOT against same-sex marriage

As most of you know, I live in Canada. Here, it is legal for same-sex couples to marry each other.  And somehow, the apocalypse has not occurred. Shocking, I know.
 
Speaking as someone raised in a post-Christian culture, now living in a post-same-sex-marriage culture AND as someone that is an evangelical Christian (according to surveys, most of you now think I’m a homophobic hypocrite, which is fantastic), here are the main reasons why I am not bothered by same-sex marriage – and why I think that Christians, even those that believe homosexuality to be a sin, need to back off the issue.

1. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, it hasn’t affected my life much – and it has meant something very positive for many others. I have friends that are GLBT and, for those that do have long term relationships, the ability to have a legal standing on par with heterosexual couples carries weight in every area of their lives. And the fact that two consenting adult people love each other and are committed to one another does not devalue me, my marriage, my religion or the society I live in. If anything it has created a more stable, tolerant and accepting society. (It’s for this same reason that I am not against same-sex couples adopting; children in the foster care system are desperate for a stable and loving home. If two men or two women can provide that safety and security, that love and hope, then more power to them and thank you. To me, it’s more important that a child isn’t languishing in an institution without a loving family.)

Even for those that are, for religious reasons or otherwise, against same-sex marriage can admit that since same-sex marriage has been legalised in Canada, our society has not gone to hell in a hand basket nor has traditional marriage or families been under attack. In actual practice, our society has become “live and let live” which is actually a rather tolerant and comfortable place to be.

2.  My personal definition of marriage goes beyond the government’s definition of marriage to that of a religious sacrament, undertaken within the context of an affirming community of believers, serving as a foreshadowing or a demonstration of Christ’s love for the church.  With that in mind, I am a firm believer that, in the interest of separation of church and state, a post-Christian or post-religious society should, in fact, be exactly that – post-religious. In Europe, most of the governments do not ‘marry’ couples. Rather, they issue civil unions allowing for legal connection in matters of health, access, finances, custody and adoption etc. Then, if one is religious, you go to your faith community and have a marriage ceremony as your tradition dictates and understands that sacrament.

Personally, I’m a fan of that system. The word “marriage” has become more of a civil union understanding, in practice, as evidenced by most celebrity “marriages” and the divorce rate, even/especially amongst Christians. So the word has lost much of its religious and original meaning.  Since the word “marriage” has come to mean more of a civil union in practice within our society, as long as the government is in the business of performing marriages, there is no need to discriminate.

I don’t look to the government to define marriage to me.

3. I don’t believe that the traditional family needs me to “defend” it in the least. (And even if I did, I wouldn’t do it within a court system but through how I live my life.)  Within Christian community, family is defined liberally, crossing blood lines to include all of those within the community of believers. God promises to find the lonely and place them within families. We are cautioned against the idea of making an idol out of our familial relationships, foregoing any alliance above that of our affiliation to Jesus.

My marriage is the greatest relationship of my life, spiritual in every way. My ability to have a strong marriage, that affirms God’s heart for relationships and demonstrates unconditional love is not altered by someone else’s inability or disinclination to do so. If people around me are getting divorced or having affairs or treating each other terribly, I’m still called to a Godly marriage. If people around me are in same-sex relationships, I’m still called to a Godly marriage. We raise our children in spirit and truth, regardless of what the world, the church or the neighbours are doing.

So I find the argument that same-sex marriage or relationships are a “threat” to the traditional family to be short-sighted on one hand and rather ignorant on the other.

Part of me also asks “What traditional family?” Perhaps that is a cultural ideal but the truth is that most of us were not raised in a “traditional” two-parent, 2 kids, 1 dog home (well, I was but that’s beside the point!). Whether it’s due to divorce, death or some other circumstance, most children are raised in non-50s-television-show homes (which, from what I can tell, is what many of the staunchest “marriage defenders” are actually looking at as the ideal rather than Scripture).

4.  Finally, most arguments against same-sex marriage fail to take one thing into account: love. And not just love between two people that wish to live their lives together. Rather, we miss an opportunity to love those that are different than us, to express love to those that we even disagree with strongly, to affirm their right to make choices different than our own. As Nathan Albert wrote, we have turned it into an ‘issue’ to debate, to fear, to feel anger over and lobby. On both sides, probably with cause. But we have forgotten that it is not just an issue. It’s about people. So when we debate an “issue” and forget that it is backed by people – imperfect, wounded, beloved people on both sides – we dehumanize each other.

It’s missing the point. The point of God, the point of Jesus, the point of the Holy Spirit is not to block same-sex relationships. The point of Christianity is not to create a theocratic Christian society. No one is won to Love by the tactics of war and hate.

God does not need me to defend marriage. He does not need me to block other people’s decisions. He does not need me to wade into a culture war or gang up on a minority or sow seeds of discord and fear. He does not need me to defend Him, my understanding of His best or even my way of doing life. I have much to learn.

He has called me to an active, all encompassing, radical love that looks beyond all things to see the value and humanity of each person, to speak the words “you are loved more than you could ever imagine” to every soul.

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Continue Reading · homosexuality, marriage, politics · 65

In which these are catching my eyes and my heart this week

These caught my eye on the Internets this week. Hope you enjoy them this weekend (if it’s raining! If it’s sunny, then get thyself outside!)

Parenting

I’ve noticed that I can’t do a weekly link round up without including Megan at Sorta Crunchy. I love that woman. Her Open Letter to Breastfeeding Advocates about backing off of women that can’t/don’t breastfeed is right on. No more guilt!

Always, Ann Voskamp gives voice to beauty and struggle in graceful, honest words. Her post at (in)courage, What Every Family Needs to Be Strong, is one of her best. How can a mother be frustrated her child is not as she longs him to be, when she herself is not as she longs to be?

Amber Strocel is a new discovery for me. She’s one of Vancouver’s best bloggers and her guide to maternity leave in Canada is a must-read for mothers. But her post this week about her 20 month old son really made me nod my head in agreement. Joseph is just like this right now with the hitting. Oh, I get it. The boys and the hitting.

Faith and Church

If you missed it (and are living under a rock apparently), Jennifer Knapp recently came out of the closet. She was one of my favourite singer-songwriters in university and we still listen to her albums. (Funny story: Brian worked security at one of her shows and bounced her from her own show because she didn’t have credentials.) She disappeared for 8 years and has now re-emerged with a new album. This isn’t the place (not enough space) for me to share my thoughts but I will say, that it took guts for her to do it. She has reconciled her sexuality with being a follower of Jesus, not choosing between them. You can read her interviews with Christianity Today and The Advocate here. A couple of hopeful responses from the more conservative Christian community are Ed Cyzeweski and Amber Haines. I’m getting more optimistic that the Christian community will be more graceful towards our homosexual brothers and sisters.

Stuff Christians Like is one of my favourite websites. It’s always hysterical but this post about Believing in Logic jumped from ligers to sin and stopped me in my tracks.

A white guy and a black guy in the emerging church
. This is a small story about the way that church is changing across the world. Beautiful.

Simple Living


10 Simple Ways to Love Your Community from Anne Jackson at Flowerdust.net


The Benefits of Non-Toxic Cleaning over at Simple Media this week. We made the switch to non-toxic cleaners two years ago because of skin irritation. Also, my tinies love to help me clean and I didn’t feel good when they were up to their elbows with chemicals. So we switched and it’s been fantastic.


Along those same lines, Safe & All-Natural Beauty Products You Can Make at Home from Keeper of the Home.


Good Stories

A new feature in the weekly link round- up, I’m going to try to feature churches and Christians that are reminding me of the good. If you know of one or come across one, please send it my way.


I’ve followed Dave of Big Ear Creations in Brantford, Ontario for a few years now. There aren’t enough Canadian pastors blogging in my opinion. He’s a pastor at Freedom House and I’ve found him to be honest, humble and funny. His church is one enormous good story but recently, they decided to contribute to the solution for the housing crisis by creating Freedom Gate Apartments. What can people do with vision and guts in a city? Evidently a lot.

Just for the Fun of It


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Continue Reading · faith, homosexuality, links, parenting, simple living · 5

In which Rick Warren comes out against this "terrible bill"

Earlier this week, I wrote about the Anti-Gay Bill currently being discussed in Uganda.

Today, Rick Warren, a leading and influential evangelical (if you don’t know him, he offered the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration) spoke up against the bill. He has tremendous influence across the world and has developed a vast aid network in Africa. As a result, he is very well respected and listened to by evangelicals, particularly evangelical leaders in Africa.
This is a big moment for evangelicals. After all, the majority of people, when asked what they think about Christians, respond that we are against gay people.
And that breaks my heart. Could anything be further from the message of Jesus?
So I love to see my brothers and sisters standing up against injustice like this precisely because of our faith, not in spite of it. It can’t be underestimated and my deep thanks goes out to Pastor Warren. He’s likely catching hell from a few people right now but I appreciate that he doesn’t hold back.
As Andrew Sullivan wrote:

What I think is most significant is that Warren called this bill “extreme, unjust and unchristian towards homosexuals”. It is absolutely and unequivocally unchristian to demonize a whole group of people and to threaten them with execution simply because of their sexual orientation and their need for love and sex and intimacy and companionship like every other human being. And for Warren to deploy Christian arguments in defense of the dignity of homosexual persons is a big step forward in this debate. I am grateful to him for staying true to the Gospels.

Please continue to communicate with your leaders. In Canada, you can find your MPs information here.

Please write or call asking them to speak out against this atrocity.
And as always, pray for our brothers and sisters – gay and straight – in Uganda.
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Continue Reading · homosexuality, social justice, video · 0