Friday, October 02, 2009

Wow... What a Week..

I have typed the first sentence to this post at least ten times and deleted it.. I haven't been able to sit down and write this week because I can't organize the thoughts in my head.. So many conversations this week about God and spirituality.. There are so many "untouchables" that I feel need to be "touched" but I can't figure out how to begin.. It would be really easy to sit in my own little world with my loving husband and my healthy children when my life isn't being challenged and feel like I've got God figured out, if I could only keep my family and my friends from being touched by pain, I could keep up that charade.. It's easy to do when everything is bright and sunny and we appear as God's "chosen ones".. But then, there is the friend who's child is sick and the medical bills are piling up, and the friend that lost his job, the friend that wants a baby, the friend that is in constant pain with no identifiable reason, the friend that is staying in an adulterous relationship for the sake of her children, the friend that just could not, and oh God forbid I say it, the friend that is gay and didn't ask to be (btw, I don't think anyone does). All of these people are real in my life and all of these people are some of the best people I know and all of these people, I have had real conversations with recently and as my world view changes and I begin to realize that God lies in other places than just a conservative little church in the Bible belt, it's difficult to hold onto some of the beliefs that I've had in the past when these real people exist and I love them.. TREMENDOUSLY...

The point of this post is not to convince you whether someone is born homosexual, or they ate something that made them homosexual or if their mother dressed them in the wrong clothes when they were a child; whatever your conception of homosexuality might be.. We can have those conversations all day long.. It's a great distraction from what we should really be discussing.. It's a huge mis-judgement on my part.. but, I have almost started thinking of the word "homosexual" and "atheist" as interchangeable. Don't get me wrong.. I know there are athiests that aren't homosexual and that there are homosexual's that believe in God.. But I do believe that we are often displaying a version of God that is simply unbelievable to those that don't fit into our little idea of what the package of Christianity should look like and leaving those people that don't fit into our packaged ideal no other path to take. By the way... Do you know how easily you and I could fall outside those ideals? Oh yeah, you're right... Your child could never be gay, you're too holy...

I like to write little sweet posts that make you want to go hug your children.. But, I'm afraid that this one can't be wrapped up and tied with a pretty little bow.. I would love to have lots of healthy conversation on this subject. But here is the thing... This is my blog... I have access to this little feature called comment moderation... I think we've done enough damage to Christianity with trying to do God's job of judging the world.. And I can assure you that a comment that would hurt these people in my life that I love so much will not be posted here.. With that said:

Open for discussion...

Still left to be discussed and even harder to tie with a pretty little bow. From a dear friend, a question I'm still mulling over, "we been told that God is not vengeful. What have you seen to support this?".. Wow!

Blessings,
Dana

19 comments:

Kelly said...

I have thought this way for a few years now, and that "neat little package" that many of the Christians I know think you have to fit in, is the main reason I do not go to church. It's nice to hear you talk about it! Have a great day.
PS I don't think people ask to be gay either, but I'm not sure how homosexuality is comparable to atheism.

Dana said...

I don't think that homosexuality is comparable to atheism. But, I do think that often, Christianity is portrayed in a way as to say to certain people that don't fit into our "neat little package" that God does not love them, thus leaving them to believe that a God so cruel could not exist.. Which with that, I would agree.. I have found that often people have been treated in a way by the church that makes them want no part of that kind of faith.. At best, they keep a faith in God but want nothing to do with a community of believers because of what they have learned to expect from them. This is where I feel like the church has failed the world. I guess it's the old, "the greatest cause of Atheism is people that proclaim Jesus with their mouths but walk out the door and deny Him with their lives"

Jay said...

.."conservative little church in the bible belt." Wait, don't you recycle? You can't be conservative! :)

I, like you, have many FRIENDS (I capitalize that to emphasize the fact that I do call them friend and I love them dearly) from these same walks of life --- broken, wounded, betrayed, homosexual, longing, unsatisfied... and on and on. Their one common bond is love, love from a savior, whether they know it or not.

I said this in a conversation that we had earlier on facebook... but, I really have seen God more in these friends of mine than I have seen him in the people that the "world" (and by world, I mean my -christian- friends) consider to be the most "Holy".

Personally, I don't think that Jesus loves my gay friends less or thinks any less of them because they are gay. If he does, then he would have to think less of me too --- not b/c of my sexual preference, but because I also sin and fall short. Daily, I'm thankful for grace. Where would I be without it?

I don't think that homosexuals "choose to be gay" or "can help it" or "could just not do anything about it"

...a wise lady that I know said to me recently, How would you feel if women were SUPPOSED to be attracted to women? If that was what scripture said instead of the other way around... Could you do that?... No. I couldn't. But I imagine that is how they feel.

I have several gay friends that have said to me on more than one occasion that they would change their life IF THEY COULD. That life would be easier, people would be more kind, they wouldn't feel "cast out" if they could just ...be straight. But it isn't that easy. Just like it isn't that easy for me to ...stop sinning, stop thinking bad things, stop judging people, stop gossiping, stop losing my temper, on and on. Not excusing any of those things, but To God, they're all one in the same. So for me to pass judgement on or shut out someone b/c of the lifestyle that they choose to live is hypocrisy, at best.

Sorry to write a novel in a comment.

LOVE YOU!

Holly said...

WOW. What a wonderful, yet hard, HARD question. Dana, I so admire your outlook on life and all things in it. I think you are brave for chosing to "go there" on topics such as these. I look forward to hearing all the responses you get, because I too have struggled with how to put these issues (and many, many others) to rest in my own mind.

Lately, though this may seem petty, and I certainly don't mean for it sound that way, my hardest quetions have come from my sweet six year old concerning why her prayers for a sister weren't answered. The child seriously prayed for nearly a year. And while another boy is SUCH A BLESSING, especially when I have dear friends and know of folks who can't get pregnant, I still don't have the answers for Lucy. She's too young to understand the pain and suffering of those who can't have a baby of their own, but she's too smart to quit with the questions about why God chose not to answer that particular prayer request in her life.

Okay, so that's totally off base here, and I hate to even have that published for it does sound so tiny in comparison to a world full of pain, but my point is... GOD is so hard for us to understand. My thoughts lean towards HIS being so much greater than we can comprehend, we are cocky for thinking we COULD understand Him.

I do look forward to hearing the comments from others. And you.

Kelly said...

Thanks for your comment on my bully post! My mom had an experience similar to yours in middle school, but she had to hit the girl in the head with a shoe. I would love to know your husband's interpretation of the turn the other cheek verse.(I wouldve emailed my thanks but I couldnt find yours. sorry for leaving this in your comments!)

Holly said...

One more thing... after re-reading my own comment, I meant to include that it's not just my daughter's dissapointment that has caused some trouble in my mind... but it's been a thought provoking thing for me, to think of all the prayers that have gone up and not been answered the way we, as humans, would like... for example, all the people in pain with sick children who pass away, and the many other pains in this life. Just wanted to clarify.

I brought this up to Bert this morning to get his thoughts on the matter. He immediately flipped to this verse:

"I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
-John 16:33

Just wanted to add that in as well.
Still such a hard topic.

Allison McClendon said...

I strongly believe that God is love and that our job here on earth is to extend love, compassion and encouragement to *everyone*. The power of love can be transformative, and if we extend it to everyone, even those whose opinions or realities we may not necessarily share, we uplift ourselves and those we have reached out to. The message of forgiveness, love, kindness etc often seems to get really lost in a bunch of self serving noise and self righteous judgement. What would Jesus do? He would listen, offer comfort to those who are suffering and extend love. History has shown us so many instances of hatefulness and exclusion. Surely we can rise above it.

P & K said...

Thanks for talking about real things, Dana. I wish Paul and I lived closer so we could get to know you guys!

I'm glad this is actually being discussed with love. I think part of the problem is that the discussion always ends up being about whether or not homosexuality is a sin.

But even if it is...

If homosexuals can't be Christians..
-alcoholics can't either
-gossips can't either
-people who cut off other people in traffic can't either
-people who don't take care of their bodies can't either
-people who lash out at their family when they are tired can't either
-people who spend too much money on things they don't need can't either

and so on...

In fact, the list doesn't really leave anybody but Jesus. If we're going to limit access to Christ to perfection, then we have to do it right. Good thing that's not what Jesus does!

Keep writing!
Kelly J.

Anonymous said...

This is Seth. I don't have a google account.

I don't have any comment to make about the true topic of this post simply because I'm not God, and the final word lays with him.

However, I do want to say that the post was cheapened slightly by the brief glimpses of what I saw as anger towards those of the more conservative mind. By criticizing their beliefs you are simply falling into the same category you are professing to be against. Had the one line about God only existing in the small bible belt church not been added, the entire dynamic of the post could have changed for me but all I see is a point made AGAINST them and not FOR those who do not know Christ.

If you feel change can be made in modern christians, why drag those from the more traditional mindset through the dirt? Why not just ignore them and show those around you what true christians should be like, so people can see it with their own eyes?

Dana, I don't mean this as rude in anyway and if I misunderstood then I apologize but I would feel remiss if I did not post my initial reaction.

Matthew Paul Turner said...

Great post, Dana! I love that you're creating dialogue about a complicated topic and refusing to simply give the same harsh answers that Christians have always given. Jesus loves people, and that is the message we should be celebrating and telling people about. For too long, we Christians have allowed our spiritual egos to dictate who is fit to pursue the story of God and who isn't fit. And that needs to stop.

Kudos friend!

As for Seth... Dude, did you read the same post that I read?! Dana's simply speaking her opinion. And uh, those of us who know her story, know that she has every right to offer "one sentence" about Christians in the Bible belt. Her experiences offer her that privilege. She's not being judgmental--she's pointing out a detail that she believes is true. In other words, it's sort of factual as it relates to her story. She's hardly dragging anybody through the mud. Most conservative Christians do that well-enough on their own.

April Cluck said...

"So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." John 8:7

Who are we to judge??? I beleive that the bible tells us how we should live and I try to follwo that as closely as I can. The bible says that a man should not lie with another man...DONT FREAK OUT YET...it also says that christians are to tithe from everything that they receive...I'm not a homosexual but I don't tithe properly...so which is worse???

God is no respector of persons and according to His Word no sin is greater than another...sin is sin and we are ALL sinners. Man is the one who places a value on sin.

No one of us is better than the other...we are just sinners who God happened to love so much in spite of our sin that He gave us a free way to heaven in Jesus. If people could just accept Jesus for the gift that He is and stop getting caught up in all of the junk and rules that WE make up ourselves, the world would be better, we would be better, and people wouldn't be pushed out of churches due to the piety of the members who pretend to live in the pretty little wrapped box.

BTW, I do have several friends who are homosexual and with whom I have told the following when they have asked me about their sexual orientation. The bible says it is wrong...you will have to answer to God for your choices just as I will have to answer to God for my choices...I am not one to judge. As my pastor says we should hate the sin but love the sinner. So far, I have not lost any of my friends for this stance.

Dana said...

Holly,
Sure, there are people that are in the middle of extremely painful situations. And this is certainly not to make small of those situations. But I know for myself, I have known people that were raised in church by Christians and grew up to walk away from it all.. In reality, Lucy will probably recover fine and go onto learn to love her place as the one and only princess of the family. But, I have to admit that for me, when a crisis such as yours comes up, there is this thought in the back of my head that says, "what if she never learns to trust God because of this"..

I like to think, though admittedly, I can't know, how this will turn out since my oldest child is only six years old as well.. I like to think, that if I teach my children that God is love and that we are all a part of a bigger purpose, then they won't have to have all the answers to have a faith.. Maybe, somewhere, some mother is praying for a husband for her little girl. Maybe she is praying that he has a mother that will show him how to love. And, maybe as an added bonus, God will give that girl a best friend in her sister-in-law.. Okay.. so I probably got a little carried away with that one but you know what I mean.. I think the wonderful thing about God is that He somehow makes it all work together for the good.. And somehow, Lucy will be blessed through the birth of this baby boy in a way that none of us can possibly see yet. I realize that you can't possibly give this explanation to a six year old but, maybe over time, we can teach them to trust God's plan for them better than they trust the plans they've made for themselves.
And maybe, Lucy will forgive me one day for trumping her prayer ;).

Seth,
I am wondering if I didn't give a clear picture of my feelings on this matter.. I wasn't making a case against conservative Christians.. The only belief that I was referring to was MY once held belief that the only path to God was the exact path that I had taken.. I was simply implying that I have become aware that there are other Christians in other places and we have all had different experiences and are shaped by those experiences. Being that in the grand scheme of things, I am a part of a fairly conservative church in the Bible belt, one that I love with all of my heart, I was including myself in this group of people. I wasn't knowingly directing those thoughts at someone with beliefs different than my own.

Now anger may be another question. I can't deny that someone could detect a tone of anger in this post. It angers me when I have repeatedly heard, "that is the reason I walked away from the church" Not once has that statement been made about a person's views but rather, how those views were relayed to that person. I think there are views that can be debated. Whether or not we love people and teach our views in love, can not.. Not if we are following Jesus.

Is it wrong to be angry when hate is taught in the name of Christianity? I don't know, I will have to give that some thought. I certainly won't say that I've never held a hypocritical view. My prayer is that I let God grow and change those things in me. And if that is the case here, that He change that too. But, I'm not sure that this is one of those things.

I do think that things can be changed.. But not just through the modern church, but its rather, a very ancient concept that I think can truly change our world.. Love..

A part of that loving will no doubt include showing those around us what true Christians should be like, so people can see it with their own eyes.. But, I am afraid that we have no credibility to gain an audience until we apologize for the hatred that has been expelled in the name of Christianity.

BASSakward Tales said...

dana..you may be the next beth moore...i am telling you that you are truly blessed with wisdom, the gift of writing and brutal honesty...oh how i wish i had been able to know you in college...you are a wise woman with a huge HEART for God

Anna said...

i had a conversation with a friend from school today (yes, the christian fundamental baptist one) about homosexuality. i have found out some friends of mine are homosexual, and yet they live out being a follower of christ better than most.
we talked about the fact that we separate that out as one of the "worst sins" because it may be more obvious. why do we condemn them more than those of us who lie or do things that may be more secretive?
i'm pretty sure the grace that God has covered me with for lying is the same God who has shown grace over our homosexual friends. He doesn't change. and if we're trying to reflect him, maybe we should remember that fact.
thanks for your honesty. that's one of the things i miss most about you. :)

i love you.

Nellie the Great said...

Dana, thank you for this wonderful post!! You are a fantastic writer, and I love and admire your for having the courage to try and address a prickly topic. Actually, I just love you. :)

Holly....wow and double wow. I can only get a glimmer of a glimpse of what you are going through with your daughter. Please, PLEASE...never...EVER minimize the pain you are feeling because someone else is going through something "worse" than you are. Pain and worry are real, no matter what the cause. When I was pregnant with Benjamin, my daughter Genevieve fervently prayed for a girl, and had even picked out a name for her. She was **very** upset when she found out Benjamin was a boy. As time passed, she became ok with the idea...and she became **very** close with Benjamin, even when he was in the womb. Now the two of them are **extremely** close and she couldn't even imagine life without her little "Bubber". So as so many have said before...none of us have the answers, but we know that God is good, and so sometimes we just have to patiently wait to understand his plans. BTW...I would love to email with you sometime. If you're interested, I'll bet Dana would hook you up with my email addy. :)

Anonymous said...

Dana - I love your heart, your honesty, and your straight-forward way of addressing things.

I know that Dana knows what I do for a living; but for the rest of you, I am a social worker for a Christian, non-profit, social services agency. I work with foster kids and their families (birth and foster families,) women in crisis-pregnancy situations, adoptive families, and babies awaiting adoption. I love my job. Foster and adoptive families are my favorite people in the world because they truly live what they believe.
However, I face many roadblocks when I try to do my job, and many of them come in the form of what I call "mean" Christians. Some tout their distain for "select" sins on condemning bumper stickers. I am trying to give young women in crisis a choice other than abortion when they do not feel that they can parent the child they are carrying. People standing along the side of the road with signs that say "abortion kills," or those with bumper stickers on their cars that say "abortion is murder" are not helping. Sometimes when these women that call me find out that my office is in a church, they don't want to come to see me. I wish I saw as many people in my office wanting to adopt some of the special needs children that we place for adoption as I saw cars with mean bumper stickers. Where are the "confessing" bumper stickers like "I am a hypocrite," or "I'm sorry that I have misrepresented Christ by not showing love" because WE ALL SIN. Christ was very harsh with those religious folks in the Bible who thought they were above reproach and condemned others. Please remember that God is Love and that Jesus came to save everyone. I would hate to face God knowing that I had presented Jesus to those around me in such a hateful way that they rejected Him because of me. -Lynn

Brenda Collins said...

The trouble with Christians is that they are people. All people have their own issues, weaknesses and faults to work through. We are products of others in our lives and the choices we each make. When humans are able to accept that people are separate from God and that the way people treat one another is not what God always intended, life will be a much happier experience.

People use the mistakes of some Christians as an excuse to stay away from Christianity and God. We all need to accept that all people make mistakes. Whether its how Christians treat people who are homosexuals, or how a wife treats her husband or any number of situations. People will make mistakes and that is why we are separated from God and why we desperately need Jesus.

I am thankful it is not my job to judge how others live their lives. That is God's job. My job on this planet is to hopefully show the love that Jesus came to earth to show. I often fail and hope that people in my life will extend to me grace.

llgrizzell said...

Why are sins are labeled to be such by our Loving Father? I believe it is because in His infinite wisdom, He sees the fallout, the damage, they do socially, physically, emotionally, spiritually in the life of the both the sinners and the victims of ANY sin. By God's grace, I instinctively know that drug dealing is sin even though there is not Bible reference I can give. But some people don't know or care and continue to be involved in both dealing and abusing drugs. So, I (we) incarcerate the dealer to stop the damage they cause. I instinctively know that child molestation is wrong...I see the devastation it causes and don't want it to happen ANY MORE and so I (we) incarcerate to stop the damage. By doing that, I become a loving protector to both the perpetrator and the victim. All sin is like that without exception. It is always damaging far beyond what our finite minds can see. God sees. The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to believe God. He is always right, never confused or muddied in His thinking. He sees it like it is. He says homosexuality is sin because from His vantage point, anyone involved is experiencing serious damage whether they realize it our not . If we truly love them, we will not give their sin some sort of special privileges. Love will not bow down to the god of "tolerance." Love will be honest about the seriousness of destroying ourselves and others with sin even at the risk of coming across as socially unacceptable. I have a friend who is living in an adulterous relationship. I have done everything I can, talked til I am blue in the face, to help her see what this is doing to her life, to the lives and perhaps eternities of her children and her husband. She refuses to change (arggh-must use a Bible word...repent, sorry), insists on continuing to cause more damage. Now what, Lord? What would Love do next? I sincerely don't have a clue.

Dana said...

Lori,

I definitely see your difficult position with your friend. I can't tell you exactly what to do but I can tell you from my own experience the things that I would change if I had a second chance.

I was in your exact situation a few years ago. I also talked until I was blue in the face telling my friend that it wasn't just herself that she had to worry about but also her children and their salvation. At that point, she was blinded by her own pain too much to hear me. I didn't give much thought to her pain, and how she had suffered in her past or in her marriage. I didn't consider much her thoughts about God or her longing for love. I only told her how she was wrong.. The crazy thing is, she knew that already.. And what I forgot to tell her was that I loved her and I wouldn't stop.. And that I knew that God would continue to knock on the door of her heart. And that I was praying for God to put back together the broken pieces of her heart.

My approach to the matter rendered me helpless. For a while, she had little contact at all with me. Now, we don't talk about those sorts of things. She walked away from church.. The relationship she was involved in didn't last. I really don't know what happened. But, I do know that I wasn't someone she came to when she needed someone to help her pick up the pieces.. I imagine she thought she had heard all I had to say and certainly didn't want to hear me say, "I told you so". I wish I had of had the credibility to say to her, God still loves you and so do I..

I pray often that God will put someone in her life that will show her that God welcomes her back with open arms. I pray for a person much wiser than me.

I pray to God for forgiveness if I in anyway gave her the idea that God doesn't love her.

And I pray for God to give you wisdom as you love your friend.