I Do Not Hate The Homos

27 06 2014

The other day I was perusing through Yahoo News and came across an article discussing our Vice President’s speech  concerning the rights of LGBT people and how imperative it was for America to be at the forefront of protecting individuals in the gay community around the world.  I felt that what he had to say was correct and wise, since there have been numerous reports from here and particularly around the world where people in the LGBT community suffer great hardship.  And it is right for a country that enshrines equality to be a leader in seeking humane treatment for everyone.

It was the comments that followed that made me realize that we as a nation have a lot more work to do here at home in educating our own citizenry when it comes to the gay community.  Many of the comments attacked the Vice President for “pushing an agenda” and several had “godspeak” in them, that is, people claiming to know what God thinks about homosexuality, and backing up their own  preferences with out-of-context passages of Scripture.

It is these particular comments that push me to the edge. Having been an Evangelical for almost 35 years, I have come to realize that “speaking the truth in love” is not loving at all and to those outside the cocoon of American Fundamentalism it sounds like hate…

…and it is.

I have pasted here one of the more egregious comments. take a moment to read it and tell me where you find Jesus.

gay“I am openly a heterosexual and proud of it. I believe marriage should be between a man and a women, It has always been a sacred sacrament in the Bible. Amen.

The Gay serenity prayer.
Dear God in heaven, Please forgive the people who support Gays and gay marriage. Amen. It is a perverted sickness only cured by Jesus.
JESUS said homosexuality is an abomination. Jude 1:7. there is hope for homosexuals, for everybody .
Child molesters, pedophiles, bestiality, gays. they are all in and belong to the same perverted crowd. If farmer brown loves his sheep , why cant they marry, if a 60 year old man and a 14 year old girl love each other why can’t they get married, if two men want to marry, so be it, constitution doesn’t say they can’t. Thomas Jefferson and the wise God fearing men who wrote the constitution thought people would have a little common sense and decency when they intrepid what it means, I guess not.
Any Christian who believes in same sex marriage is not a Christian, it is true we should love and try to forgive all mankind, Gay perverts are an abomination of God, as written in the Bible. I am an American and that is my opinion. When I see two men kissing it makes me sick to my stomach and want to throw up. Does this mean I am abnormal, do I need Psychiatric help, maybe the new generation will see it fit to put me in an asylum. I am not a gay hater, it just makes me sick to my stomach.
The homosexual community are bigoted haters of those people practicing moral behaviors! I do not hate homos, I will pray for them. Amen”

Let me for a moment pick apart some of this commentators loving words.
First he claims Jesus said homosexuality is an abomination (but Jesus didn’t say anything about it at all.)
He says people in the LGBT community have a perverted sickness.
He says the they are the same as child molesters and pedophiles (these are the same),and bestiality.
He calls them perverts again.
He states that any Christian who supports marriage equality is not a Christian.
He states gay perverts are an abomination to God.
He gets sick to his stomach to see to men kissing and he wants to throw up.
He then states that he is not a gay hater but they make him sick to his stomach.
He finally calls people in the LGBT community bigoted haters

And then he tries to make sure we know one more thing about him….

“I do not hate homos.”

Now how can anyone write what he writes and then claim to love gay people. Yet he is not alone in his “non-hatred” of the homos. There are thousands upon thousands of Christians here and around the world that believe bullying, rejecting, denying civil, human rights, beating, torturing, jailing, and killing people in the LGBT community is not just right, in the the eyes of the god made in their image, but actually loving.

They feel it is righteous and loving to deny marriage equality, to fire someone from a job,  to deny serves to a gay couple, to kick a family of a gay teen out of church, to beat up a gay man, to stone, whip, burn, rape, a gay person,  to sentence an LGBT person to death.

But it is not loving, it it ludicrous, it is vile, it is evil….

It is hatred.

So if you, as a believer feel it is right to do any of the above to another human being please don’t say you love gay people, just be honest and say what you really feel in your heart.

 





What I Wish…

25 06 2014

When Jesus came to establish God’s Kingdom on earth, it was meant to be radically different from any human kingdom. The Kingdom of God was meant to shatter the pride and arrogance of those that thought that they were better than anyone else. It was established to level the playing field between the socially acceptable, and the socially unacceptable, the haves and the have-nots. Jesus came to demolish the walls that separate between religion, gender, race, sexuality.

Jesus’ life was meant to show to the world the great love, compassion, and mercy of God.

Jesus’ sacrifice was meant to put into place a new way, in which all are accepted and loved by the Creator.

Jesus’ resurrection confirms that His mission was accomplished and He was King of this new way.

Yet over the millenniums the Church has rarely shown this depth radical love, and in fact, the American church has actually portrayed something else (another gospel, as it were) to the world around us.

So here is my wish for the church in the form of an open letter…wish

Dear Bride of Christ,

I have known you for a long time and in the beginning of our relationship my “new love” blinded me to the reality of who you really were. At first I embraced you and overlooked your affair with Uncle Sam. How on television, radio, and in print you, as the Bible says, “lifted your skirt” for politicians and political power. You sold your soul to push a morality onto people you yourself could not  achieve. Your pickets, protests, and boycotts have achieve nothing more than to pervert the purity of the Gospel of grace. I wish you would break off this sinful union.

As I have matured in our relationship I noticed something else. You want everything your way. And when you don’t get it you pout, rant and rave and call yourself a victim. You label people on the outside as sinners, wicked,vile, perverts and wonder why they don’t want anything to do with you. I wish you would stop judging and accept people where they are and learn to love with unconditional love, like Jesus and the Gospel of grace teaches.

And finally, don’t you realize that the people populating your house live in fear of you? Most in the family pretend to be better than they are, or something other than who they are. Why? They are terrified of being rejected by you. So they hide. They hide their fears, doubts, personalities, weaknesses, failures. They hide being able to be who God created them to be. They don’t want  a divorce so they act as if they have it all together. They will never question you and because of that you have complete sway over their lives, even when you are wrong and your message does not match the message of the Gospel. I wish you would learn what Grace means.

I am sorry that I have not brought these things up sooner,  but I was not strong enough. But having a better understanding of God’s endless grace has given me strength. I want to be a part of your life because I believe in the mission of the Gospel. This would mean you would have to step back and see the damage you have brought to the name of Jesus.

I am not sure that you are ready for that yet.

So I grieve our relationship.

Still hopeful,
Mark





Prison Cell of Fear (A Personal Glimpse)

9 06 2014

The young man walked down the quiet tree-lined side street toward the college he attended. As he rounded the corner onto a busy thoroughfare he noticed about half a block away, on the same side of the street as he,  several construction men working on the overpass he needed to cross. Instantly, the young man was gripped with fear. He was certain that if he walked by them, they would call him a derogatory name or sneer at him, or silently judge him. He couldn’t risk humiliation so he quickly walked into the street dodging cars and trucks to get to the other side. He heart raced with anxiety long after he passed the men and was sitting in his class.

Crazy story, right?  What a pathetic person….

Well, that pathetic, crazy person was me. I was about 33 years old, and that was how I thought.

The path of my life has been directed by Fear. Fear fueled by the “knowledge” that I was different from other guys. I wasn’t athletic, popular, smart, outgoing, or masculine. I was shy, and introverted. I never spoke up to defend myself and I gave into everything that someone, anyone wanted to do. I never had a thought of my own that I could share, for I knew I would be put down for it. I was terrified of making mistakes, of failing, of being seen as a loser. So I hid within myself. And while I feared rejection from my peers, I was already rejected by them.

The years of my youth were stolen by Fear.

And Fear had caused me to be stunted as an adult, to never voice an opinion, to never make waves, to never disagree. Because in the back of my mind Fear whispered, “you will be rejected if you say/do that.”   Procrastination, has been a  trademark of mine, nourished by the Fear of failing to do things right,  or being seen as stupid. Thus, I generally have put things off for as long as I could.

When I became a Christian, Fear took root in my faith and for the first two thirds of my spiritual experience I hid from God, and saw every negative circumstance as a result of my not meeting His expectations and He was judging me for my insolence. Fear told me I would never measure up to what God wanted me to be.

open prison doorBut then God broke through my prison of Fear and offered me real freedom. I was at the end of my rope,  so I  reached out to the hand of grace and began to walk out of my self-imposed imprisonment. Grace showed me that God is greater than any fear this world  presents and that I can have an opinion, I can disagree, and I can think or see things differently from others and still be loved by my Celestial Father.

Many prison  doors has swung up when touched by Grace and fear has been in retreat.

But still, ahead of me, even as I walk hand in hand with Grace down the ever brightening passageway to wholeness, there are yet more cell doors to be opened. And fear has seen this as an opportunity to reassert itself. For it knows that these may be the greatest challenges I will face. In the months/year ahead the choices I have to make will alter much. There is always the risk of losing, of being uncomfortable, and experiencing emotional pain. But in spite of that I have to believe that it is God that has brought me to this point, and He will be with me through it all. In the meantime, I battle with fear once again.

This time not alone.  For I am convinced of the fact that His grace will be sufficient for me.

 





(Not The Gospel) Of Jesus

30 05 2014

screamingreacher“We have to stand up against immorality,” the rotund pastor in the Hugo Boss suit bellows, “If we don’t the Gospel of Jesus will be lost.”

Thus, with that pronouncement, the Gospel is transformed into a  bully pulpit against promiscuity, abortion, marriage equality or any other “morally reprehensible” acts not committed by those within the fortified walls of  right-wing of American Evangelicalism.

I am sure that you have heard something similar from TV preachers turned politicians, or televangelist blaming the latest terrorist attack, or  mass shooting on…….wait for it…..gay marriage. There is so much talk out there about preserving and standing up against those that oppose the Gospel of Jesus. Yet there is hardly a sheep in the pew that questions this distortion.

This “another” gospel starts with Jesus but devolves from that point.

Yes, you have to believe in Jesus but then…

You need to vote for the most godly politicians (generally a Republican)

You cannot question the historical veracity of the Creation story, Noah, Jonah, et al., for to do so means then you can’t trust anything in Scripture (translation, you don’t really have faith in God).

Tithing (giving 10%) your income is a sign that you trust God and it is commanded by God in order to receive His blessings.

God blesses us, in general, by how good we are and withholds blessing when we fall into sin. In fact, so we are told, He doesn’t hear us when we pray, nor do we have “fellowship” with Him unless we repent again.

This next one is hardly ever spoken, but it is always implied…You have been forgiven of sin, but after becoming born-again it is now up to you to not sin, maintain time with God in prayer, Bible reading, working  on becoming sanctified and holy and if you don’t fall into step with the church you are associated with and it’s rules, either you are not saved, backslidden, or in need of church discipline.

You also have the great responsibility of “loving” those outside the church (the sinners, the lost, the ungodly, the unregenerate) by telling them they are on their way to hell unless they repent, like you did. If you don’t do this on a regular basis then you are considered soft on sin, or worse yet, a liberal.

The problem with this line of thinking is that none of the above have anything to do with the Gospel of Jesus. So when a non-Christian speaks out against an organization such as The Family Research Council he/she is not attacking the Gospel, they are attacking the distorted, and misguided view of the Gospel that, like a poisonous vine has all but obscured the Beautiful Gospel of Christ.

This then, is the real Gospel.

God loved the world with an unconditional love unknown in the universe. He became Human to reveal this love. He loved us in spite of the fact we didn’t love Him. And to prove  that love He died for all people for all time, and took away all the  sin we have, and any penalty we have incurred. We do not have to pursue righteousness, holiness, or sanctification because Jesus took care of that for us. He rose again and empowered us to spread the Kingdom of God to all corners of the earth. We are to heal the sick, free the prisoner, give sight to the blind, speak life to those living in death, to restore the earth, to seek justice, to protect the marginalized. And  love unconditionally and to teach people about the ever flowing grace of God.

One Gospel condemns, one Gospel restores. Which one is truly the Good News?

 

 

 

 





A World Of Suffering

4 05 2014

suffering oneHaving worked in the field of counseling for over 15 years now, I have heard and seen some very heartbreaking things. As a follower of Jesus, seeing  the pain, suffering, poverty, abuse, ravages of disease and addiction woven into the lives of so many of those I work with inflicts much grieve upon my soul.

I have seen young men whither away, transformed into human skeletons and passing from this life. Victims of the ravages of AIDS.

I have been witness the premature deaths of young men, and middle age men/women. Victims of their addiction to drugs. suffering 3

I have seen mostly men of all ages filthy and sitting in urine soaked and feces stained clothing, unaware of their surroundings or the smell that emanating from their bodies. Victims of alcohol addiction.

I have sat with and counseled children used as pawns by the vindictiveness of their parents going through an ugly divorce. I have counseled other children grappling with the death of a parent, a parent they themselves found dead due to suicide.

I have heard the stories of people trying to learn to love and accept themselves after years of emotional abuse, or domestic violence, or racial discrimination.

I have counseled men struggling with their sexual identity. Victims of verbal, and/or emotional abuse, rejection and outright hatred because of who they love.

I have heard the heart wrenching cries of family members at the end of their ropes in trying to deal with a family member caught in the web of addiction.

So much pain, so much suffering, so much hurt.

suffering 4Sometimes it is almost too much for me, and I sit in my office alone and weep. I weep because I feel their pain, their loss. Then I pull myself together, by God’s grace and reach out again. It is what I do. It is my blessing to be able to empathize, and it is also my curse.

I think of God, and I realize how my hurt for others is dwarfed by the pain He must feel for His creation. How He must weep, and grieve because of the pain we cause ourselves or the pain we cause each other.

I also believe that His Holy Spirit must be grieved at the actions of His church, who, rather than being a balm of healing, have a history and a present day record of being the cause of much suffering and death.

And He waits and watches from the portals of Heaven, like the father of the prodigal son, for His church, His bride, to return to His arms of love and to return to the role for which He has created us.

It is time for us to come to our senses, repent and come Home to Dad.suffering 5

And then to go and give out extravagantly, and with abandon   unconditional love, grace, and healing the world ensnared the grip of suffering needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 





The Things We Want To Say

29 04 2014

despairI am not sure that there is anyone else ever feels this way, but I must share it to decrease the palpable weight upon my soul. As I sit here thinking about how to write this, my mind races with confusion and, yes fear.

You can be around many people every day.. You can have a family, and friends, and co-workers. But none of them know of  the fear, the unknowing, the emptiness that can churn behind your rib cage. The feeling that follows you night and day. Hour after hour. Week after week.

There are secrets within each of us that bind fear to our souls. Secrets only we (and the Creator) know. We construct walls of defense to protect our fragility. Thick, heavy walls that cast a shadow over all of our lives so that we can never truly live within the light of freedom and truth of “me”. We convince ourselves that if others “really knew us” they would hate us, abandon us, despise us and that our lives would fall into utter ruin.

So we hide…the real us.

The “us”...”you”…”me” that we have been created to be.

And the world, and our families, and our friends, and our co-workers, never really experience “us”, and the blessings that we can be to others if we only would be who we are.

And we suffer, we languish, and whither in the shadow of the wall that, rather than protecting us, is slowly killing us by cutting us off from freedom, growth, and fulfillment.

I am getting tired of trying to keep this wall propped up.

I want to live in the light…I want to be free.

Do you?

God help us to trust You rather than our own limited understanding.





An Open Letter To My Ex-Facebook Friend

27 04 2014

Dear JPD,

I have known you for a very long time. You used to be on the worship team I led in the church you still attend. You were, and I assume still are, a very talented bass player. Those were fun times. But as you know God has a way of changing things and my family and I needed to leave that church we called family after 21 years.

But God continued to work in my heart. He healed me of many hurts spawned by a few in the church and taught me so much about His grace, mercy, unconditional love and acceptance. Over the past 12-13 years. He has given me a whole new outlook on life and  has been working on getting me to love myself, just as I am, and to embrace who He created me to be.

Through those years of going from church to church, and from one place of employment to another  I have met many beautiful people from so many different walks in life. People that at one point I would have looked down on or condemned in some way, shape, or form, have become my friends on Facebook. And I love them all dearly.

What does all this have to do with me de-friending you for the second and probably last time?facebook defriend

A lot.

You see, these amazing friends of mine, who on occasion read my Facebook posts have had to endure many a rant from you. Your words attack not just me, but them. You degrade people, you demonize people, you talk down to and patronize people. More importantly you disqualify people from the love of God. And you do it all in the name of the One you claim to follow.

I don’t want my friends to be subjected to your hatred. I don’t want my friends to think that you or a small number of others who think like you actually represent the Gospel of Jesus. Your dismissal of the humanity of a large swath of people because of your narrow interpretation of the Bible is mind-numbing. Too many people like you, the late Jerry Falwell, and the late Fred Phelps, and Pat Robertson have turned Christianity into a fundamentalist/civil religion soaked in American patriotism, half-truths, and ignorance. And it is these very people and organizations like the American Family Association and The Family Research Counsel and  not the ACLU, Democrats, the LGBT community, or other “sinners”, as you put it, that are responsible for pushing people away from the glorious Gospel of freedom, forgiveness, and unconditional love found in Jesus. It is these people and groups that Jesus spoke against in Matthew 23:13. And sadly, you buy into their rhetoric and hate.

So I de-friended you.

But I still love you and pray that you will experience the freedom found in Jesus. God has restored me time and time again when I have gotten off track or wrapped up in my own self-righteousness and He continues to do so every day. And He can do that for you.

Peace to you, my friend (just not my Facebook friend).

 








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