Adding to the Noise

You may have noticed that I haven’t been nearly as active with my blog posts. A lot of that has to do with the passing holiday season. Ours wasn’t quite as chaotic as we’ve been accustomed to. This was our first time to spend our holidays 1200 miles from “home.” We missed getting to see our friends and family, but we loved the intimacy we shared this season.

There’s more to share about why you haven’t heard from me. Mainly, I haven’t had a lot to say.

That may come as a surprise, but it’s true! It didn’t really occur to me until recently as to why that was.

I can assure you that It’s not been for lack of trying to think of content to post. I’ve put in lots of time doing that, but I just couldn’t come up with a hot topic, something edgy, something…heretical.

When I finally took the time to ask the right questions, the answer was obvious.

Instead of asking, “what should I write about?” I instead asked, “why can’t I think of something to write about?”

DUH!

Just before Christmas I decided to do some much needed housekeeping in my social media worlds–Facebook in particular.

I narrowed my “friends” list from over 450 to 150. I’ve also spent a good amount of time “unfollowing” and “unliking” people or feeds that cause me to be angry or that bring unrest in my life.

Since then, I’ve watched my feed for folks “sharing” things that rub me the wrong way. When I see something that does that, I choose “Hide all from… stop seeing post from this page.” (I’m not hiding posts from the friend–just posts they share from another Facebook “page” that causes me to stir.)

What does all of that have to do with me posting an article on my blog?
EVERYTHING!

Most of my posts have been inspirational writings that stem from things I’ve seen on my social media feeds. Those feeds caused me to get upset about the injustice, bigotry, hate, fundamentalism, and judgmental religious crap I was seeing.

When I turned off the noise, I was left in silence; peaceful, restful, beautiful silence.

When I get on my social media outlets now, I’m left with posts that actually interest me. My screen isn’t filled with rubbish.

I’ve also noticed the change it’s made in my personal life. I don’t carry my phone anymore. I used to be a mindless drone staring at a screen at any given moment. My family caught on to that, and they called me out on it.

I carry my phone at work, but when I get home, it goes on my nightstand. I’m not even remotely tempted to go pick it up and look at it. I’m not worried what others are saying about me or my beliefs anymore because I no longer expect to see any of it.

I’m free!

I’m free to say what I want, when I want, how I want, without fear of backlash. Only now I don’t feel the need to justify any of what I have to say because most of the people left listening already agree with me.

I don’t feel the need nearly as often to say something “heretical” because I’ve taken the microphone away from the majority of those calling me a heretic.

Don’t get me wrong–I still have things I want to say, and I will say them. The urge to speak to mindless arguments and topics that are considered “hot topics” in the religious or news realms has dissipated. It’s all noise, and right now I don’t want to add to the noise.

Right now, the solace in the silence is sweet. I’m going to soak it up for as long as I’m able, and I’d like to invite you to this gem of a place.

Fear, Love, and The Forgotten Jesus

Love.

It’s not something that we can easily encapsulate in a one-sentence description. In fact, there are complete libraries on the subject. It’s an ambiguous subject, and one could spend their entire life trying to understand it — what a fantastic idea!

In a world wrought with hatred, indifference, intolerance, and so many horrible things, there stands Love, like a beacon of hope.

Occasionally I question why we don’t choose Love in every instance, in every circumstance of life. Maybe it’s just easier sometimes to choose something counter-Love. Perhaps getting angry and vocal is the path of least resistance. That’s something I have to check myself on often.

I’ve discovered that until recently, I had never fully given myself to Love. Granted, I’m still learning about Love and all its facets, but choosing to seek Love out has opened my eyes to a whole new dimension I never knew existed!

Loving Jesus wasn’t ever something I found difficult to do; that is until I uncovered just how deep that rabbit hole went.

I was content loving baby Jesus. I was content loving savior Jesus. Keeping “Christ in Christmas” was easy; keeping him on the cross was too.

Choosing to fill in the blanks of his life and modeling my life after this other Jesus who showed up wasn’t isn’t easy.

This other Jesus, who I call “the forgotten Jesus,” presented himself to me, and it’s when things got real.

Questions began racing through my mind:
“Wait, you didn’t mean to love everyone, did you? What about Muslims? They’re going to sneak into my house and slit throats — that is if our own government doesn’t do it first! This is why I need my guns! What about LGBT people? I can’t love and accept such willful disobedience! What about…”

You get the point.

Learning about the forgotten Jesus — the Prince of Peace, the great Lover, the guy not operating with fear tactics, the Heretical Lover — forced me to question my beliefs, my understanding, and my position on Christianity.

I was happy toting my gun, voting Republican, helping my wife to be submissive to me, and telling the world just how much I loved Jesus, while regurgitating scriptures to “help you” in your walk. That’s not difficult, and in fact it’s really the norm in the Bible Belt.

Most of you who’ve spent the time getting to know me over the last couple of years probably didn’t know that side of me — luckily. You may think I’m making this up, but I’m not. That was me. I was in my comfort zone…

But then, Love.

When I began to question everything — the Bible, God, Jesus, atheism, agnosticism, the American way, intolerance, etc. — and removed myself from the church system, I was suddenly face-to-face with the forgotten Jesus.

It was Jesus as I’ve never seen him before. If you understand what I’m saying, you’ve likely met him too. I’m still not able to adequately describe him or really put him into words, but I’ll try.

I’m not referring to the facet of baby Jesus, nor the one bearing a cross. I’m not even really talking about the facet of the one healing the sick, walking on water, or raising others from the dead. I’m certainly not referring to the warrior Jesus who’s supposed to come riding on a white horse and separate heads from shoulders.

Then who is this Jesus I’m talking about?!

Exactly.

I’m talking about the Jesus on the narrow path. The one who can walk a camel through the eye of a needle. The Jesus, who when robbed, will chase down the thief and give him his coat also.

The Jesus who introduced a new idea of who God is — an idea of God that hadn’t been expressed in scripture as Jesus was now presenting (his description of God is actually more counter-scriptural).

This is the Jesus who wasn’t blowing smoke about loving others sacrificially.

This Jesus would diffuse an execution of a prostitute because he had a genuine love and respect for life. This is the Jesus who understood that if others could grasp this message, it would literally change the world.

His isn’t a message of “my version of religion and name for God is the right one.” His message is obscure, but only because it’s been wrongfully smeared by bad Christian rhetoric and dogma.

This Jesus put a price on Love. True love will lay down one’s life for another — Muslim, gay, black, homeless, rich, democrat, republican, prostitutes, poor — all of these are inconsequential.

His focus wasn’t on conversions from hell bound to heaven bound. Jesus wasn’t a sin-focused or sin-driven person. He wasn’t driven by an afterlife, and he didn’t instill fear into the hearts of his followers to insure they remained faithful.

He was a love-focused, love-driven person whose intent was to show others how to do this life right.

If we don’t learn about this Jesus and begin to learn how to live like he did, then the status quo will remain the same.

Fear tactics will run their course, refusal to acknowledge all life as sacred will continue, and wars will be fought in the name of God — who, by the way, I don’t believe would ever justify blatant disregard for any living thing — at least not the forgotten Jesus’ version of God.

This Jesus didn’t give an assignment to save others from a damning afterlife. He gave the commandment to love others in this life.

He isn’t reactive, but with love, is proactive.

Finding this Jesus isn’t easy — following him is even more difficult. It’s not a popular place to be. I’ve found it to be cold and lonely here, but others are beginning to find their way here, and we’ve found community together.

In this community of Jesus followers you’ll find open hearts and minds. You’ll find people willing to love you exactly as you are, regardless of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, or creed. You’ll find others who know the price of love, and will unashamedly love you as their Jesus would.

You’ll be in a community willing to lay down arms in hopes that life will be treasured, not squandered. This is a community that will choose to give their own lives when necessary, just as the forgotten Jesus did in order to magnify Love — not magnify gun rights, death, war, intolerance, and being “right.”

To those of you who are with me in this community: Be encouraged! You’re not alone, and you’re doing wonderful things! You’re loving others well, and lives are being changed because of it. Be bold by allowing others to see the real, forgotten Jesus. That’s who they desire — they need to be loved as he would love them, especially if they’ve been mistreated or share a different religious belief than yours (or none at all).

To the one with the heavy burden, the mistreated, the outcast: I’m sorry. I’m sorry if who you are has caused others to treat you with anything other than love. I’m sorry if your race, skin color, or religion has caused others to treat you like a terrorist or belittle you in any way. I’m sorry if your sexual orientation has encouraged others to tell you that God’s love and full acceptance of you isn’t yours; it is. I’m sorry if you’ve been told that being “unequally yoked” — be it with a person of another race, sex, or religion — is wrong. Really, what it boils down to is this: I’m sorry if you’ve been told that love is conditional in any way. God’s love isn’t conditional. His complete and total acceptance of you and love for you is yours — exactly as you are! You are his creation, and it isn’t the place of any other person to judge his creation. Be yourself, be awesome. Allow God to love you, and reflect his Love to others. They need that Love too.

To my atheist and agnostic friends: I love you. I accept you as you are. You probably roll your eyes at much of what I say, but I don’t care. A lot of what you say or post is hilarious to me! I’m sorry if you’ve been mistreated by Christians or anyone else (including me!). It’s not my place to tell you that you’re going to hell (as if you could, right? 😉 ). You’ve been shown a poor representation of the forgotten Jesus I represent. I have an unconditional desire to get to know you more. Heck, I’m one of you! I’ve admitted that I’m an agnostic who has chosen to believe. My promise to you is that I will honor you, respect you, and always treat you with kindness. I am genuinely excited to build a friendship with you!

To everyone: You want to know what our differences are? Insignificant! Our differences don’t change the character of Love. We warp Love’s character by interjecting our opinions, differences, and difference of beliefs. That’s how gun rights, war, terrorism, hatred, and intolerance are justified. Seeing a person as their race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, gender, or any other “difference” is an injustice to that individual or group. When we instead choose to see another person as a person by honoring, loving, and respecting them, LOVE WINS. That’s the character of the forgotten Jesus I’m talking about.

With Love,

David Dietz

Red-Letter Story

In my past life, I was a Worship Pastor. A lot has changed since then, but my love for music hasn’t.

I just finished writing a song (video & lyrics below) about this journey, and I want to share it with you. I gave away all of my recording equipment when I started this journey, so please forgive its raw nature.

First, a little background…

I have had much to say on the subject of “my journey” I’ve been on for the last couple of years.

I’m convinced that the life of Jesus trumps whatever else we may concoct during our spiritual lifetimes. It’s learning that which brought me to the place I am now.

I no longer worry about the battles and struggles over “grace vs. truth,” “sin vs. mercy,” or “love vs. death.”

The “truth” is that Jesus was “Love,” “grace,” and “mercy.” Arguing over anything regarding the Bible is a waste of time, in my opinion, and I’m weary of it.

I don’t have the energy to “define sin,” or anything else along those lines.

“Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

If we all die and there isn’t anything beyond this life, I’ll die happy knowing that I wasted my life loving everyone. Honestly, that’s all that matters to me anymore.

Enduring the twists and turns of this journey caused me to question everything I’ve ever learned spiritually.

I don’t regret a bit of it.

In my “Deconstructing Faith” series, I elaborate more on that. The message I’m trying to convey in all of these posts is that it’s not worth getting bent on trivial conclusions about the Bible.

I think, as Jesus followers, if we were all really honest, we’d admit that we’d follow him anywhere — even if it were counter-biblical to do so.

That’s where I’m at. I feel that much of Jesus’ life is counter-biblical, and he’s more important in the end. But I can’t pretend that this is a happy, fun, or even crowded place to be.

Living out his life is a lonely place. It’s a painful place. But it’s the right place.

For those on a similar journey, I’m still here. I’ve loved being a part of your lives and having a window to your journey. If you’d like to share your story with me, please visit my “Contact Me” page, and shoot me an email. I’d love to get to know you more!

Red-Letter Story:

On this dark and lonely highway
My mind is fixed on you
You said come and do it my way
Walk a mile in my shoes

I’ve been walking it seems like forever
And I’m not making any ground
It’s getting cold out in this November
But I refuse to turn around

There’s graffiti all around me
With words resembling you
And the art is captivating
But the story isn’t true

I feel your love now burning inside me
Should I paint it on all these walls
Do I tell your red-letter story
Or not say anything at all

What do I say to the face of my enemy
Knowing that you would love them as you love me

I feel your love now burning inside me
Should I paint it on all these walls
Do I tell your red-letter story
Or not say anything at all

With your love now burning inside me
I’m gonna paint it on all these walls
Compelled to live your red-letter story
I can’t be silent anymore

Compelled to live your red-letter story
I can’t be silent anymore

BONUS! I just remembered this song I wrote about 3 years ago. It seemed even then that there was something in me about Jesus’ name being equated to “Love.” I didn’t realize at the time how much that would mean to me. At any rate, enjoy!

Line in The Sand

I’m grieving today. To be honest, I’ve been grieving for a while, but today and yesterday are different.

Jesus followers — especially American — are divided. It’s no longer a Baptist vs. Methodist, Catholic vs. Lutheran, or Assembly of God vs. Church of God rift.

It’s now Jesus vs. America.

As Jesus followers, we don’t have the luxury of getting to choose when we’re American and when we’re followers of Jesus. There’s a reason that Christianity isn’t a political side.

Jesus isn’t a right wing or left wing American citizen. He’s not part of any political party. I’ve become more and more convinced that as his followers, neither can we be.

We are set apart — part of another kingdom. If we are to be “Christlike,” then we don’t have an option of choosing when we are so, and when we aren’t.

Either we are Jesus to the world 100% of the time, or we aren’t 100%. It can’t be both. There’s not any gray area checkbox to check saying, “I like Jesus, but I’m only going to be like him when it’s convenient,” although I often wish there was.

Jesus didn’t say that we only have to love our enemies when they’re playing nicely in our sandbox.

He said, You know that Hebrew Scripture sets this standard of justice and punishment: take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say this, don’t fight against the one who is working evil against you. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, you are to turn and offer him your left cheek. If someone connives to get your shirt, give him your jacket as well. If someone forces you to walk with him for a mile, walk with him for two instead. If someone asks you for something, give it to him. If someone wants to borrow something from you, do not turn away… But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you—in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven… It is easy to love those who love you—even a thief can love those who love him. And it is easy to greet your friends—even outsiders do that! But you are called to something higher: Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.

How is God perfect, and how can we be perfect like him? God is Love. Love is perfect. We can be made perfect by being Love to others.

Love isn’t a politician. Love isn’t an American citizen. Love is something higher. Love is perfect.

Derek Webb wrote a song called “Love Is Not Against The Law. (<– song)” His words are fitting:

Politics or love
Can make you blind or make you see
Make you a slave or make you free
But only one does it all

And it’s giving up your life
For the ones you hate the most
It’s giving them your gown
When they’ve taken your clothes

It’s learning to admit
When you’ve had a hand in setting them up
In knocking them down

Love is not against the law
Love is not against the law

Are we defending life
When we just pick and choose lives acceptable to lose
And which ones to defend

Because you cannot choose your friends
But you choose your enemies
And what if they were one
One and the same

Could you find a way
To love them both the same
To give them your name

Sure, we may be taxpaying American citizens, but Jesus drew a line in the sand 2000 years ago. Wind may have blown that line and caused it to fade, but I can assure you that it still exists.

He is either Love or he isn’t. You, likewise, are either Love or you aren’t.

American politicians are stating where they stand by choosing whether or not to acknowledge minorities (immigrants, refugees, the LGBT community, non-whites, etc.) as people. Many of them are choosing to go against Love’s way, and so many of you are cheering them on.

Friends, we’re either Jesus followers, or we aren’t.

I love you all so very much — so deeply! My heart is aching to hear your words of anger, hate, and fear! I’m broken knowing that I’m now separated from you.

I’m grieving today knowing that I’m choosing to walk away from you. I’m dropping stones and crossing to the other side like so many other Jesus followers have done.

I stand with Love. I cannot ignore the faces of the outcasts. I cannot ignore the face of Jesus. I’m saddened if you disagree.

“I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me.” – Jesus

Inscription on the Statue of Liberty, by Emma Lazarus:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Equality in Leadership

This is a topic that has gone through a complete transfiguration in my mind over the last few years — a change for the better. I can’t tell you how much sexism gets under my skin now. To me, it’s worse than having shards of wood shoved under my fingernails.

Even as a young boy, I defended girls. A buddy and I saw a boy picking on a group of girls once. They were screaming at him to leave them alone. He was a known bully on the playground, so my friend and I went over there and took care of the problem by kicking his ass — that wasn’t the best choice either. I should have let the teachers know what was going on.

We were brought into the Principal’s office and asked why we beat him up. We told the principal what happened, and he thanked us and sent us on our way. The bully was spanked and sent back to class.

Most of those girls are still good friends of mine to this day.

Fast forward to the present, and I’m still the same boy, just older and equipped with a fully developed frontal lobe. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily step in and defend a woman at any given moment, but I wouldn’t likely default to “ass-whoopin’ mode” without trying words first.

So, here I am — using my words…

I’ve always been for equality where women are concerned, save church leadership; let’s be honest, what I really mean is the Senior Pastor title.

As far back as our human history goes, women have been subservient to men. There are a million reasons why, but I’ll focus on just a few.

Women are typically smaller and physically weaker than men. In early history, this fact placed men over women as leaders for reasons of wellbeing. Men were the caretakers of women — protectors. Men were bigger, stronger, faster; able to ward off danger.

Due to modernization, that changed. The world developed and strengthened through advances in shelters and dwellings, self defense, and technology. Today, women largely have nothing to fear that would require the presence of a male for security.

Men have also ruled because of knowledge and education. Women have historically been associated with inferiority in philosophical, medical and religious traditions primarily due to the unavailability of education to them. That’s changed in recent history.

Thankfully, most of the world has discovered that women are more than capable of learning and leading.

But I’d like to focus on a point I mentioned above — religious traditions. Only in this living generation’s time period have we seen women allowed into clergy roles, generally speaking.

I’m so grateful that there are many churches getting it right on this issue. My purpose in bringing this topic up isn’t to say “there aren’t any churches getting it right.” That’s not true, and I congratulate those doing so.

I do, however, think that all churches ought to continually evaluate their employment and opportunity policies regarding women.

To say that women can volunteer only in certain places of the church, be employed in the Children’s Department, Worship Ministry, or some place other than the Senior Pastor’s position is an injustice.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that men and women can work side-by-side in those areas of the church, and they should! I think this is one way that churches are getting it right!

But when it comes to women being elders, deacons, or the Senior Pastor, most churches are missing the mark.

 

History Lesson:

Paul wrote a couple of key letters that Christians often reference regarding women in church leadership. The first was the letter he wrote to the people of Corinth. The second was the first letter he wrote to Timothy.

To the Corinthians, he wrote, “Wives should be respectfully silent at the gatherings, as they are not allowed to speak; and they should yield themselves to those in authority just as it is written in the law. When they want to learn anything in particular, they should ask their husbands when they get home. It creates a shameful situation for them to speak at church.”

To Timothy, “Now, Timothy, it’s not my habit to allow women to teach in a way that wrenches authority from a man. As I said, it’s best if a woman learns quietly and orderly. This is because Adam was formed first by God, then Eve. Plus, it wasn’t Adam who was tricked; it was she—the woman was the one who was fooled and disobeyed God’s command first. Still, God, in His faithfulness, will deliver her through childbearing as long as she remains in faith and love and holiness with self-restraint.”

Paul wrote to the Corinthians in reply to a letter they’d written him. They wanted to know what to do when women interrupted their gatherings. Women hadn’t been allowed to worship inside the temple before as men had. Now they were playing catchup learning the elementary things that men had learned from childhood.

Paul’s reply was specifically to the Church at Corinth. He didn’t give this instruction to any other church he had established. In this reply, he wasn’t saying “women aren’t allowed in leadership.” Rather, he was instructing husbands to fill in the blanks with their wives at home so they were all on the same page when meeting together. In other words, teach the elementary things to your wives at home, so the rest of the time you can all be home in time to watch football.

There’s too much to cover here regarding the letter to Timothy, but I’ll send you here and here to read more.

For me, the portion written to Timothy boils down to poor interpretations and cultural perspective.

If Paul didn’t want women in leadership, he should have fully considered that before placing Junia, Euodia, Syntche and Priscilla in it.

 

Today’s culture doesn’t match the Corinthian, Ephesian, Roman, Colossian, or any other culture 2000 years ago. The likelihood of Paul writing the same instructions to us today as he wrote to those is nil.

Heck, he didn’t even give the same instructions to each of those cultures then!

I firmly believe that it’s time for women to lead!

If women can be doctors, lawyers, President, Prime Minister, CEOs, scientists, etc., it’s time they’re given the Senior Pastor role when applicable. There are so many women out there who are smarter, wiser, and better equipped to serve as the Senior Pastor of a church than many men are.

There are also women who could enhance elder boards and deacon ministries if given the opportunity to do so!

What if equality — not just gender equality — was something the Church took ownership of? What if it became a staple issue that was made a non-issue the world over?

What if equality was equated to loving others passionately, expressively, recklessly, completely, unconditionally — regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, or gender? What if we got that part of the Gospel right?

Selfless Holidays

There’s an annual battle that takes place around this time of year. One that has the appearance of good but never actually accomplishes anything. The war waged is Christians versus The World — sometimes it’s really just Christians vs. Christians.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the battle, especially on social media.

The narrative is all too familiar: “keeping Christ in Christmas.”

It sounds great, but the problem is that he never left Christmas. Christmas is the time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. Simple, period, end of story.

Digging a bit deeper, you’ll find other religions and nonreligious celebrating this season in their own ways, and that’s where the battlelines are blurred.

People celebrating Hanukkah, Kwanza, or perhaps those just celebrating joy, love, and peace, are often times found in the crosshairs of particular Christian groups.

These folks aren’t trying to “steal Christmas,” or even “remove Christ” from Christmas — as if that is something that could actually be achieved. They’re simply enjoying the holiday season just like the majority of Christians do — buying gifts for one another, spending time with close friends and family, and my favorite, gorging on ridiculous amounts of food!

As I’ve mentioned in my other posts, people of faith — no matter what faith they’ve chosen — are typically sold-out believers in it. Just as earnestly as Christians believe in Jesus, other religions and nonreligious have reached their own conclusions.

The last thing any of us need is to ruin this special time of year by forcing our beliefs on others. I feel we’d all be better served by focussing our energy in other ways.

According to my Googling, in the United States there are:
610,042 people homeless on any given night,
48,100,000 living in food-insecure homes,
and 400,000 children in our foster care system.

IN THE UNITED STATES (1)

There’s been a very particular chapter of Scripture on my mind in recent months. You’ve seen it in my other writings, but it applies here as well.

1 Corinthians 13:1, “What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal.”

The noise from crashing cymbals today is deafening!

I created the meme above when I learned of a person on Facebook “starting a movement to keep Christ in Christmas.” This person was offended that Starbucks’ new holiday cups were just plain red — void of snowflakes, reindeer, and trees. It’s precisely what I’m talking about when I referred to crashing cymbals, and it makes my skin crawl.

I never expected my meme to go viral, but it did, and I’m glad of it. Perhaps this post will go viral as well. I certainly hope so.

I propose that this holiday season we come up with some creative solutions to reduce the given statistics above.

I’ll start:

  1. Fill and give a purse or backpack with items helpful for homeless people. Here are some suggestions.
  2. Wear a coat that you can part with, and physically take it off and put it on a homeless person.
  3. Load your trunk with umbrellas to give to homeless people when you see them.
  4. Have your church “adopt” a homeless person (or homeless family), and make sure they have a roof over their heads and hot meals to eat.
  5. Much like #4, reach out to homes that you know won’t have a holiday meal, and provide them with one — or better yet, invite them to yours!
  6. Offer to buy someone’s groceries in the check-out line at your grocery store.
  7. Volunteer at a foster care group home.
  8. Become a foster care parent.
  9. Tip generously — when dining out, visiting a bar or coffee shop, getting your nails done, getting a tattoo or piercing, or getting a haircut. These folks could use all the help they can get! I know… I used to be one of them.
  10. Be Santa. Buy gifts for kids in need, and make this a holiday they won’t ever forget.

Instead of adding to the noise this season, I’m proposing we start a different movement. One that can forever change the way we view the holidays — a movement of loving our neighbors.

That’s one I can get behind, and it’s one that can go beyond the holiday season. Submit your ideas in the comment section below or on social media!

Share this post using: #SelflessHolidays, and let’s be the change we so desperately need.

YOU are not your body!

Unfortunately, links in this post will be classified as NSFW

Society has robbed you of who you are. They say you’re too fat, too skinny, too whatever…

Somehow you are your body.

Impressions of ourselves have been cheapened by the opinions of corporations marketing goods.

It’s still taboo in many cultures to be naked in public, but commonplace in so many other societies around the world. Those cultures (and some places stateside — I live in such a place now) view nonsexual nudity -without- using a sexual lens — rightly so.

The purpose of this post isn’t to debate nudity, generate “shock value,” or convince anyone that public nudity isn’t wrong, but I’ll briefly explain how my perspective has changed.

I honestly don’t take issue with public nudity; it isn’t offensive to me.

I’ve matured in my thinking and met people who’ve challenged me to think differently.

Growing up I viewed nudity with an “objectifying” eye. Seeing a naked person was a sexual thing for me. It’s why pornography found its place on my computer screen, like millions of other screens all over the world.

When a person is photographed, or painted in a sexually objectifying manner, a line is crossed; that’s pornography. That’s when a naked person has been dehumanized — many times against their own will or knowledge.

I absolutely believe that publically exposing yourself for the purpose of being seen by others in a sexual manner is wrong.

Discretion and knowing the company you’re with is a must.

A naked person in a traditional sauna, on a designated beach, in a Korean bathhouse, breastfeeding a baby, a nonsexual photograph or video, beautiful artwork, etc. shouldn’t be used for objectification or as a means to sexual fulfillment. Clothing on a person in this sense is irrelevant to the fact that they are a person; their naked body isn’t to provide you with a peep show.

— Moving On —

I’ve read a few articles of people — mostly women — who’ve had the courage to stand up for themselves — for real beauty!

This article is about 8 moms who visited a beach — going “mostly naked.” It’s a wonderful testimony of new moms rebutting the adage that “stretchmarks and muffin tops are nasty,” “big hips and thighs are unattractive,” and “only skinny is pretty.”

I love how these women not only shed their clothes in public — having found their true value and identity — but they also threw their inhibitions to the wind posing for a group picture!

Articles about someone learning to love their real self are inspiring!

These are exhilarating “I get it” moments; times when a person realizes that their body is just that, a body.

Celebrating that moment with a topless group picture on a beach tells me that something magical just happened within their minds! They’ve just learned a person is so much more than a body.

That’s incredible, they’re incredible, and I wish with everything in me that the rest of the breathing world would also “get it” by breaking the mental connection of nudity and sex.

In the appropriate moment, that connection is a wonderful thing, but in public, it’s certainly not an invitation for you to objectify anyone.

Recently I came across the fascinating story of Essena O’Neill (website). She also has a couple of Youtube videos on her website telling her story (this one is my fav).

From the age of 12, Essena idolized models. By the time she was 19, she had a full blown modelling career of her own.

She spent hours retaking hundreds of selfies for her Instagram just to “get the right one,” and “all of them were fake.”

She sucked in her tummy, wore push-up bras, and posed just the right way to get exactly what she and her sponsors wanted; a beautifully accentuated body.

She’s since deleted all of her social media pictures because “they aren’t real.” Now, in breach of contract, she’s quit modeling. Being a “real person” living a “real life in the real world” is more important to her.

From skinny models, to new moms —  poor self image is reeking havoc on people everywhere — especially on women. It’s wrong, it’s disgusting, and as a male feminist it really pisses me off!

The self-consciousness only exists because our minds have been warped to conform to society’s perception of what’s acceptable.

Why do ladies feel like they have to conform to the cookie cutter mold that society says they do?

It’s a massive grievance for companies to get rich making you feel like you don’t measure up.

Is it wrong for a mother to breastfeed her baby in public? Is it wrong for a woman to celebrate a breakthrough by realizing, as a person, she is more than a body?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Whether or not you celebrate by shedding your bikini (or even move from a sweatshirt to a bikini), hear my words: YOU ARE NOT YOUR BODY! 

Your job isn’t to insure that others aren’t viewing your body in an objectifying manner. That error is on them to work out!

You are a wonderfully made, exquisite soul, complete with skin.

— You are beautiful exactly the way you are! —

Don’t waste your life being concerned how others view your skin — it’s not worth your time or stress.

Your skin is a trivial part of who you are!

Love your body, love yourself, be yourself — and celebrate those who have the courage to do the same!

Below are some articles related to this subject that I wanted to share (NSFW): 
1. http://aplus.com/a/megan-jayne-bodyposipanda

2. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-21182/how-8-new-moms-learned-to-love-their-bodies-photo.html

3. http://www.letsbegamechangers.com/

4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/femail/video-1092814/Photographer-captures-beauty-mothers-stunning-series.html

5. http://metro.co.uk/2015/11/02/public-health-england-encourages-mums-to-break-down-barriers-and-breastfeed-in-public-5475815/

6. http://www.buzzfeed.com/southerndisposition/25-historical-images-that-normalize-breastfeeding-jlw6#.bqzk49Aar

The Great Ruler’s Message – a short story

There once was a great ruler (The Ruler). The Ruler reigned over all the land, and there was none greater than he. He took the best of all he owned and freely gave it to his people. His love for them was steadfast – unrelenting; some say it was a reckless love.

The Great Ruler was unlike any other, in that his rule wasn’t enforced by demand. He was a quiet and gentle ruler. He desired his subjects to choose to love him as he loved them.

Most of his subjects were good and kind. Although The Ruler did not require their allegiance, they served him faithfully and feared him with a kingly reverence that was due him.

There were others, however, who did not honor The Ruler. Their hearts were selfish and filled with disdain toward others.

These unsubmissive subjects (The Unsubmissive) were thieves, murderers, and belligerent; they were judgmental, arrogant, and respecters of no one. They would take from the poor, and mercilessly kill those who didn’t conform to the “socially acceptable way.”

They were even abusive to their own wives and children. They wanted no ruler, and they sent that message to the him by allowing hate to reign supreme in their hearts.

The Ruler’s faithful subjects (The Faithful) were furious at The Unsubmissive for their thankless and treacherous ways. They fashioned their own swords and weapons of many kinds and set out to demand respect for The Great Ruler.

The Unsubmissive weren’t afraid at the revolt. It seemed the fight was a welcomed one, and it so it endured.

The Great Ruler’s love for those who dishonored him was unwavering. He sent messengers to the battlefields urging The Faithful to retreat. It was not his desire that any should perish.

Likewise, he begged those who hated him to reconsider. The Ruler knew that his request to The Unsubmissive would likely fall upon deaf ears.

He was proved right.

What greatly surprised The Ruler, however, was that The Faithful refused to lay down their swords as well.

Their allegiance was true, but their ability to listen to The Ruler’s plea was clouded by their judgments against The Unsubmissive. The Great Ruler’s heart was broken.

He didn’t know what to do.

The Great Ruler, lost in his grief, was visited by his son, a young prince (The Prince) who came to him with an idea. The Prince suggested that perhaps The Ruler’s people would respond to his love if he were to send The Prince out to model The Great Ruler’s love for them.

The Great Ruler hadn’t considered this because he desired to rule from his throne — not forcing any of his subjects to love him. The Prince knew this and he assured his father that he wouldn’t disobey his wishes.

He would live with the people, peaceably demonstrating The Ruler’s love for them, while also expressing to them how The Ruler genuinely desired to be loved in return.

Reluctantly, The Ruler allowed his Prince to go.

The Young Prince, having never been outside the palace walls, was surprised at what he found in the kingdom.

He learned that many of The Faithful had written rules and commands in the name of The Great Ruler. The Faithful knew that the heart of their Ruler was for them, so they established these laws to try to bring order to the chaos.

The Prince quickly learned that the authors and enforcers of these laws weren’t easily swayed.

They had convinced themselves, and others around them, that these rules were the way of The Great Ruler; and they were quick to judge those who wouldn’t abide by them. Many of those judged — Faithful and Unsubmissive alike — were put to death for treason against The Ruler and their laws.

To be one of the law-lovers was to be favored, elite, accepted.

The Young Prince realized that he couldn’t begin his mission by teaching these law givers. They didn’t even recognize The Prince as The Great Ruler’s son because their hearts had become more faithful to their laws than to The Great Ruler.

So The Prince set out to befriend those who everyone else despised because they were the only ones who might receive him and The Great Ruler’s message.

He entered the circle of the outcasts.

He chose fishermen and prostitutes. He chose thieves. He chose the poor and the homeless. He chose the sick and the maimed.

These subjects had nothing to offer The Prince, and he asked nothing from them. He simply desired their affection as freely he offered his own, and they gave it to him.

It wasn’t long before the outcasts began to recognize who The Young Prince was. News quickly spread that The Great Ruler’s son had come to live with his subjects.

Stories were shared throughout the kingdom — how he lived as a homeless man, how he joined their celebrations and provided wine, how he visited the sick, and dined with thieves!

From dining tables and street corners, from hillsides and mountain tops, everywhere he went The Prince told the subjects of The Great Ruler’s love.

As word spread, crowds of people were now rushing to hear his message.

His message never changed, but the subjects wanted to hear it over and over again. He gladly shared it, but occasionally changed his approach.

When they asked him who The Great Ruler was, his reply seemed foreign — they didn’t believe it could be so simple.

“My father, your Ruler, is Love,” The Prince said.

“But we’ve been told that in order to receive his love, we must follow the law!” The Prince replied, “I have come as the fulfillment of your laws. The Great Ruler requests only your love and for you to love your fellow subjects.”*

Encountering his love, many were persuaded by The Ruler’s message just as The Prince and The Great Ruler had hoped.

The authors and enforcers of the law were outraged when they heard his message. They said, “Who can make such claims? Only The Great Ruler can say these things! Are you The Great Ruler?”*

The Young Prince replied, “I and The Great Ruler are one — our love is for all mankind.”*

Sensing the hostility of those against The Great Ruler’s message, The Prince fled and hid from his persecutors.

He sent a message to The Great Ruler that said, “Father, I long for the time when these subjects can be with us and witness our rule of love, which comes from you. You have loved me from the beginning. Father, you are just; The Unsubmissive and the authors and endorsers of laws do not know you, but I do. As for the followers whom I love and have loved me, we speak of your love often; and I will continue to speak of your name (Love) — in order that your love, which you openly lavish on me, will be in them. And my love will also be in them. Together, Love will rule their hearts.”*

The Prince gathered his closest friends together for a meal.

Dining together he told them, “You and I are one. My body is yours, my blood is your blood. You are my hands and my feet. The message The Great Ruler has given me, I now give to you. Go and share it all whom you encounter. Tell them of my love for you, and your love for me. Tell them of The Great Ruler’s love for them! The desire of The Great Ruler is that none should perish. His love is above their laws; his love is greater than their disobedience. Love wins the hearts of The Unsubmissive. Go, and be unto others as I have been to the outcasts — as I have been to you.”*

That would be The Prince’s final meal with his friends.

The message of love and acceptance The Young Prince gave angered the authors and enforcers of the law. They said he was “a heretic spreading blasphemy.”

They couldn’t accept that The Great Ruler could love and accept anyone freely. Afterall, how could any ruler desire unsubmissive subjects? Surely he required everyone to follow rules and regulations in order to be loved and accepted as members into his kingdom.

One beloved follower of The Prince had his heart deeply sown in a desire for wealth. He hadn’t understood the message that The Prince had come to give him.

This beloved follower left and went to tell the enforcers of righteous living where The Prince was hiding. In exchange for his information and leading them to The Prince, he was given a great sum of money.

The beloved follower proved his misunderstanding of the message that The Great Ruler gave by betraying The Prince with a kiss.

How deeply The Young Prince was hurt by betrayal in the act of love — a kiss.

Another beloved of The Prince was outraged by this act! He picked up a sword, and attacked one of the soldiers there to take The Prince away.

The Prince immediately scolded his beloved follower saying, “Have you not heard the message of The Great Ruler? Do you not understand who I’ve called you to be? Know this: there remains only one way in which I can share The Great Ruler’s message with every subject, and it must be this way. Let them take me.”*

The Young Prince was brought before the authorities, and they inquired of him, “Are you the ruler of these subjects?”*

The Prince replied, “This is not my kingdom. If it were, my subjects would be fighting now for my freedom. I have come to demonstrate the message of truth — the message of The Great Ruler.”*

Indeed The Prince was about to show all of The Great Ruler’s subjects exactly what that message was.

He had spoken of it once with his friends saying, As my father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you subjects, because a subject does not know The Ruler’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last… This is my command: Love each other.”*

So it was that The Young Prince was sentenced to death. He would go to a sure and painful death to ensure that the message of The Great Ruler was known.

At the place of The Young Prince’s death were two other men also being put to death. Both were unsubmissive subjects of The Great Ruler.

One of them turned to The Young Prince and said, “I have disrespected The Great Ruler, and I am getting the punishment I deserve. Will Love’s kingdom remember me?” The Young Prince turned to him and replied, “You have understood The Great Ruler’s message, and you are in Love’s kingdom.”*

The Young Prince breathed his last breath shortly thereafter, yet the message he brought remains today.

The Great Ruler still has unsubmissive subjects, and there are even still some enforcers of the laws the authors penned those many years ago.

But there are new followers of The Prince who still earnestly share the message he gave.

The message from The Great Ruler and his Prince is this:

“I am the way — the path; My path is love. I am the truth; my message of truth is that I love all mankind. I am the life. No subject may approach my father, your Great Ruler, except by Love’s way; love The Great Ruler, and love your fellow man as your Ruler and I have loved you, and you will find life.”*

 

* All scriptures used were derived or paraphrased from: The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

LGBTQ, Abortions, Widows, and Orphans – Part 3

Links: Part 1 and Part 2

DISCLAIMER:

I know that even just one of the things listed on the title of this post is highly controversial, let alone 4! I’m still in the early stages of figuring out how to voice my thoughts as lovingly as possible, so please continue to bear with me as I get that lined out. With that said, please note that I’m not targeting anyone with this post. Any references to churches or Christians aren’t meant to group all churches or Christians together. There are so many of them getting it right on these issues; I’m simply stating where I stand on these issues. These are my thoughts and convictions. Any insulting, bashing, or dehumanizing comments will be removed.

Before I begin:
I’ve received lots of emails, comments, Facebook messages, etc. from both sides of these issues. The messages coming to me from complete strangers in the LGBTQ community, and stories from women who have had unwanted abortions have drowned out the noise from the negative messages I’ve received. I found myself so moved, so humbled, that I was moved to tears – asking God, “Who am I that you’ve given this mandate to write? Who am I that complete strangers are willing to share their stories with me?” – I’m honored by your encouragement, and your kindness, but even more so by your openness to share your stories with me. THANK YOU!

LGBTQ, Abortions, Widows, and Orphans:

In Part 1 of this series, I gave my testimony in regard to the LGBTQ community. Part 2 contained my thoughts about abortions, my experience with widows, and my knowing I sweep the topic of orphans under the rug.

In this post, I’m going to give my opinions on all of them.

LGBTQ –

I stand with them, I support them, and I’ve chosen to love them. Why?

I’ve chosen this stance because I have LGBTQ friends now. Growing up in the Texas Panhandle, finding an “out-of-the-closet” person wasn’t just rare, it was almost nonexistent. That’s progressively changed as more people have found the courage to be open about who they are. The way I was taught in church, coupled with the fact I’d never known an LGBTQ person made it easy for me to condemn that lifestyle.

I’ve also matured spiritually and in understanding to the point that I’m comfortable enough to ask the hard questions. Please note that I’m not accusing anyone else of not being at my level of spiritual maturity. I’m definitely not intending to convey that at all! Rather, I’m insisting that my own level of maturity was lacking.

I simply accepted what I was taught or what I heard others say on a given subject, especially if it sounded smart. The more confidently someone gave their opinion or interpretation, the more confident I was to repeat them verbatim.

I won’t go back through my testimony and my stance with the LGBTQ community. If you haven’t yet read it, I invite you to do so here.

Based on my own personal conclusions and interpretations of the Bible and of Jesus in regard to LGBTQ people, I couldn’t justify inequality towards them any longer. I’ve since come to be friends with many in the LGBTQ community, and I’m positive that I’ve made the right decision.

The alternative, in my opinion, is a stance that looks nothing like Jesus – or very little, at best.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin” is just an excuse not to fully love and accept the person that is accused of what the accuser considers “sin.”

My conclusion on the matter is that refusing equality isn’t any different than the way black people were treated (3/5 of a person?!). It’s not any different than justifying slavery. I see it as the same type of inequality that placed women as inferior to men (that’s still happening, by the way).

Christians were on the wrong side of history in those instances. 10, 20, 30 years from now, however long it takes, I’m convinced that we’ll look back at LGBTQ rights the same way we look at those examples of inequality in history.

A differing religious perspective than my own doesn’t justify treating any human wrongly by devaluing them. Just because something has been interpreted a certain way for an extended period of time, preached incessantly, and shouted loudly doesn’t mean it’s right. I am by no means saying that “my way is right, and only my views are correct.” On the contrary, my views, conclusions, and interpretations are my own. After much consideration, I’ve simply changed my mind from the views I previously toted.

There’s a shift taking place currently, and churches all over the world are beginning to recognize the error that’s been made concerning LGBTQ people. I, for one, stand unapologetically with them – just as I stand with minorities, against slavery, and for women’s rights.

Abortions, Widows, and Orphans –

In Part 2, I shared some of my thoughts on abortion – as of the writing of this post, that was yesterday.

I’ve already received emails from women sharing their heartbreaking stories with me. These ladies haven’t been able to open up to many about some very hard choices they’ve made. I just can’t even begin to imagine…I don’t want to imagine.

I’ve expressed my position of a pro-life stance, and I stand by that. That’s as honest as I can be about it. Excluding something going terribly wrong with a pregnancy, rape, etc., I have a conviction that bars me from blatantly ending life “just because.”

I’ve explained that my definition of sin is “anything that would dehumanize a person.”

I believe that opens the umbrella wide enough to include sins of morality (murder, rape, abuse, etc.) and an individual’s personal convictions too.

It is my opinion that blatant disregard for life – born or unborn – is an act of dehumanization, and that is sin. Are there extenuating circumstances that can unexpectedly happen? Absolutely, and at that point, my opinions and convictions don’t matter. When it comes to that it’s the job of the mother, her doctor, and whomever she chooses to be involved to make a decision that I can’t fathom being faced with.

Call to action (please note the disclaimer at the beginning of each of these posts) –

I want to encourage you to think before you speak. If you get absolutely nothing from this series but that, I’ll call it a win.

You have no idea who you’re in the company of, including who your children may be (maybe you do know). Speaking hatefully, or using derogatory language is like a knife to the heart of those who may be in your presence and could be LGBTQ, or someone who’s had an abortion.

I know the language all to well because I’ve used it. “That’s gay” instead of “That’s stupid.” Saying “you’re such a fag” instead of “what a jerk.” 

Don’t do it. It’s no different than calling a black person a “nigger.” It’s shameful, it’s hurtful, it’s degrading, it’s wrong.

What if’s:
What if your kids grow up hearing you using that terminology, and they turn out to be an LGBTQ person? Are you going to be someone that they’ll trust to open up to? Do they know that you’ll love them, or are they living in fear of being kicked to the curb? Worse, are they terrified that they’ll be humiliated in front of your church by having the pastor “cast out the LGBTQ demons?” What if you are their pastor?

Gossipping about who you’ve heard may have had an abortion is just as dangerous. The person you’re speaking to may have had an abortion, and you don’t have a clue about it! In fact, what if your daughter is the person you’re sharing the gossip with, and she’s had an abortion? Do you think she’s ever going to be able to share her story with you now?

What if it’s your best friend, and they’re LGBTQ or have had an abortion? What if they’re gauging your relationship on knowing whether or not you’ll hurt them? If you make just one comment, you not only can close off that part of the person from ever being open to you, but you may just lose your best friend. In fact, I’d say you’ve just lost them. Your relationship may continue, but it won’t ever go any deeper than it already has.

Churches and Christian friends:
You’re so eager to speak out against LGBTQ as “sin.” It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that condemns those people of what you consider sin. It’s easy to get swept up in the truth parade and say “the truth is…” or “the Bible says…”.

Really what you’re saying is “my belief that I refuse to be teachable about is…” or “my interpretation of what the Bible says is…” — the “truth” we’re speaking of is subjective because it’s based on your personal convictions, it’s not objective truth based on moral absolutes; your interpretation of the Bible is just that – your interpretation, and it may be wrong. Mine can be wrong too, and in fact I believe the views and interpretations I had previously about LGBTQ people were wrong.

As for abortion, I’ve already said that I agree with the majority of Christians that ending life is wrong, even though it’s not as black and white as I feel we’ve made it out to be. Speaking up and bringing awareness about it is great. That’s what peaceful protests are for.

But let me ask you this: what are you doing to fix the problem otherwise?

If you’re able to persuade a woman in a healthy pregnancy to have the baby, or get a law passed making optional abortions illegal, are you just as passionate about adoption? What about foster care? As a church, are you willing to open a group home and provide those children with love and care?

If you are doing those things, I sincerely applaud you! You’re an AMAZING PERSON! Thank you! But these points I’m making aren’t for you. They’re for everyone else (including myself – I’m getting to that).

People are so quick to give the numbers of the millions of babies that have been aborted, but the silence is deafening when the number of millions of children to be adopted or fostered is mentioned.

Facebook is like an offering plate at church for everyone to place their favorite memes into concerning abortion, but adoption/fostering posts might (possibly, maybe) only get a “like.” It’s more likely that those posts are just quickly shuffled off the screen.

I can say all of these things because it’s who I’ve been.

I’ve already admitted that I don’t want to adopt – I don’t. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other opportunities in front of me to take care of widows and orphans.

Volunteering at the nursing home was a great option. Churches are usually pretty good about having a ministry that will look after widows. They’ll visit with them, make sure their house isn’t falling down around them, or give them rides to church functions. GREAT! Keep doing that! If you’ve never been involved in some type of widow(er) ministry, get involved! It’s worth doing, and if your church doesn’t have one, start one.

Fostering a child has been something Lindsey and I have talked about since we were first married. Between having kids of our own, and moving like every five seconds, it’s been something on our back burner. Recently, it’s a topic that we’ve brought back to the table, and one that we’re seriously considering.

It’s my belief that if you’re going to openly oppose abortion, you don’t have the right to sit back and do nothing about orphaned children. Get involved by becoming a mentor, help at a group home by volunteering your time, make donations to nonprofits whose sole purpose is to care for them, start your own nonprofit, have your church start a group home, consider adoption or fostering…

There are so many ways that you can be involved, but ignoring the millions of children that women have so generously born into this world isn’t an option.

I’ve said this in another post, and it’s become my anthem. So, I’ll say it until I quit breathing:
If love doesn’t win in everything, with everyone, every time, without conditions – even if it goes against your religious beliefs – then you’re doing it wrong.

Let’s get it right on these issues, friends. I haven’t been getting it right 100% of the time, but I’m certainly trying to correct my course.

1 Corinthians 13, ” What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts.

Paul boils it all down for the believers in Corinth. Religious people often spend their time practicing rituals, projecting dogma, and going through routines that might look like Christianity on the outside but that lack the essential ingredient that brings all of it together—love! It is a loving God who birthed creation and now pursues a broken people in the most spectacular way. That same love must guide believers, so faith doesn’t appear to be meaningless noise.

Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete.” – The Voice

LGBTQ, Abortions, Widows, and Orphans – Part 2

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

DISCLAIMER:

I know that even just one of the things listed on the title of this post is highly controversial, let alone 4! I’m still in the early stages of figuring out how to voice my thoughts as lovingly as possible, so please continue to bear with me as I get that lined out. With that said, please note that I’m not targeting anyone with this post. Any references to churches or Christians aren’t meant to group all churches or Christians together. There are so many of them getting it right on these issues; I’m simply stating where I stand on these issues. These are my thoughts and convictions. Any insulting, bashing, or dehumanizing comments will be removed.

Abortions:

I’ll begin by saying that I’ve never been faced with the decision of my wife having of an abortion. That’s something that I’ve had to think about when pondering this series of posts. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in the shoes of someone that is faced with that.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you that whenever the topic of abortion is brought up, I instinctively have a go-to thought process. It’s shameful and embarrassing for me to admit, but that usually consists of a slutty woman who can’t pay her bills and doesn’t want to have a kid.

How shallow is that? Why is that my go-to scenario?

I’m sure that’s how society has programmed me, or maybe it’s just that I’m really that shallow. I don’t know.

In reality, that’s only one of a million possibilities as to why someone would consider having an abortion. Perhaps that person was raped. Maybe she was told that having this baby would certainly kill her. It could be that this woman is a single and successful business woman, and the timing isn’t right.

Another confession…

I have to admit that no matter the scenario, I still thought that she should learn to either keep her legs closed or use protection.

I’m sure you can tell that this isn’t a prideful moment for me. These inner thoughts are truly humbling to admit.

How is it the woman’s fault for being raped? I mean, c’mon! Shallow.
How is it her fault if the baby were to have a serious congenital defect? Shallow.
Was she fully aware that having sex this time would cause her to conceive? Shallow.

People have sex, the sperm fertilizes the egg – TADA! She’s pregnant. It happens, and it’s not my place to judge the people involved. It’s my job to love them – unconditionally – regardless of whether or not they’ve had an abortion.

With that said, I will say that my convictions follow a pro-life stance. If a person is considering an abortion, that’s between them and whoever else they choose to be involved in making that decision. If they ask for my input, I’ll give it. That’s the only time I’ll give it. I don’t believe it’s the job of the government or anyone else to get in the way.

The reason I feel this way is because I’ve never had to make this decision. God forbid Lindsey were ever raped or her life threatened by an unborn child. I don’t know how I would react under those circumstances, and I hope I never have to find out. Therefore, I cannot judge someone else by a standard that I can’t measure for myself.

If you’re pregnant, and you’re unsure what to do, please visit with a licensed counselor and your doctor. Find a pregnancy assistance facility that can also give you information or provide you the proper counseling. Those people are hoping that you’ll come to them first.

WIDOWS AND ORPHANS:

“Abortion is murder!” just rolls off the tongue of many (not all) pro-lifers. The Bible just doesn’t really have much to say about abortion even though abortions predate biblical times (source, and here, and here, and here).

There were also widows and orphans in biblical times, and the Bible does mention them. “True religion…is taking care of widows and orphans…”

This is something else that I’ve had to consider when contemplating this series. In my past, it was easy to get swept up in the pro-life message that abortion is wrong. At the same time, caring for the children that would be otherwise orphaned is something that was swept under the rug.

Lindsey and I made it a priority to take our kids to a nursing home once a week last year. We intentionally chose to visit the older folks in the “mentally unstable” ward – folks suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, and the like. Although most of them didn’t remember us from one week to the next, we loved getting to know them. It was so funny to get to hear some of their stories.

That’s a practical and relatively painless way to care for widows.

But when it comes to orphans…

My default (again another humbling moment) is to disengage from the conversation as quickly as possible.

Years ago, Lindsey brought up her desire to adopt.

HELL NO. Just no, and no.

She was devastated by my response, and we even went to a counselor over the issue. I can’t say whether or not choosing not to adopt was the right decision for us, but I have to admit that it’s one that I don’t regret. Not even to this day. I regret how I responded, however, and I think I absolutely could have handled it more delicately. I think there are people that should adopt, and I’m in complete support of them. Each of my siblings has adopted, or are in the process of doing so.

There are people that medically haven’t been able to conceive, had miscarriages, and some that just want another baby. There are also my friends in the LGBTQ community that want kids of their own. That’s great! But to this day, I just haven’t been able to come to terms with it for myself and our family. Is it a heart issue for me? Fear? God’s plan?

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t negate the fact that I know there are other ways for me to care for orphans. But even those topics have been met with a broom head and a dustpan.

I’m going to intentionally end this post here regarding abortions, widows, and orphans. In my following post – Part 3 of this series – I will go into more detail, and into a “call to action,” so to speak, on all of these topics. I’ve put the “disclaimer” at the beginning of each of these posts not only for them individually, but also in preparation for Part 3.

THOUGHTS:

As I’ve been discovering the Jesus model to life, I’ve been challenged to my core on so many different things. Most of what I’m writing is the testimony of my personal convictions after I’ve been challenged in those areas. The purpose in my decision to go public with this testimony is multidimensional.

  1. I have been compelled to tell my story.
  2. I want those on their own journey to have someone to relate their experiences with.
  3. My hope is that those who have been affected, either negatively or positively, by others (or myself) in regard to the given topics, will know that people can change. I’m evidence of that.
  4. I yearn with the depths of my being that the perspective I provide will resonate with others who are like my former self, and inspire change. If not change, I hope it provides light to be shown on a facet that perhaps you haven’t seen before.

I pray that Love will be shown through to you in every post I write.