Category Archives: Guest Blog Series

My Christian life with AIS – An Intersex condition

We’ve discussed the issues faced by intersexed individuals before on this blog. A reader—and fellow blogger—shared her story in the comment section of a post entitled “The Intersexion of Christianity and Genitalia”. It was too touching to simply leave in the comment section, so I’m re-blogging it here, with her permission. -Mandy

Why We Suffer in Silence: Guest Post Series

Hello, lovelies.  It’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me. I’ve been working on a couple of other projects (which I am eager to share with you soon). I’ve also been going through quite a rough time during the past few months. Perhaps I will be able to share more details in the near future. But I am so thankful for those of you who have sent messages to check on me. I deeply miss writing for you, and plan on returning for good in the coming weeks.

I continue to be thankful for people like Josha, who continue fiercely on their spiritual journey despite the conflicts that arise around them. Those of us in the LGBT community sometimes suffer in silence… especially those of us who desperately seek relationship with the Creator. Why? Because we must hide who we truly are. Many of us are told that we do not—and cannot—possibly love God if we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.  Josha has been on quite the journey over the past few years, and I’m so thankful she’s open to sharing it with us.

-Mandy

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by Josha:

458794_72242887“Are you in pain?” Is the question a beautiful, tall, professionally dressed, concerned woman asked me, as if I were at the doctor’s office?

I was sitting in the waiting room, all alone at the car dealership, getting an oil change.

I looked up at this woman who had appeared in the light so suddenly with an unexpected question and my thoughts were, “Is she really talking to me? Where did she come from? Why is she asking me this? What just happened?”

I responded with, “No.”

She looked at me for a few seconds with a concerned face and then asked again. “Are you sure? Someone came to my office and said I should check on you because you looked like you were in pain.”

I tried to recall what was happening before this woman appeared. I was just sitting in the waiting area all alone, contemplating my life’s situation… and then I realized what might have happened. I looked up at her and lied, “Nope, I’m just fine.” I smiled a big, fake smile…her facial expression and pause indicated that she was not convinced with my answer as she said, “Okay” and walked away.

Who was this lady?
And what was my appearance like?
Did my internal angst come out in my physical posture and demeanor?

It was such a bizarre wake up call that I really was hurting. It was as if God was checking in on me and I flat out lied. Suppose this woman was God in the flesh with concern for my pain, this is what I would have shared:

YES! Yes, I’m in pain! I’m 36 years old and I’ve never even experienced a kiss. And I have deep desires to experience that kind of relationship. The problem is that I can only experience this with a woman which is not acceptable among most the people I know. I’m fully aware of my sexuality and feel trapped into keeping it hidden. It is painful. It makes friendships complicated. For the first time in my life I experienced mutual attraction and given an opportunity to kiss and I turned the opportunity down. As I began to get to know this person I was drawn to her more and more as we have so much in common and many of the same values. We find each other intriguing, we motivate each other, challenge each other, and we seem to always enjoy each other’s company.  I was definitely interested in exploring a dating relationship but with prayerful caution. I was holding back so much in the start of this interesting relationship. Extreme caution came from the reality that if I cross that line then I’m not to be in leadership role at church…the reality that some friends and family might be very disappointed in me…the reality that I could get very attached and then this end in brake up. I was being so careful and cautious as things were happening so fast and just when I was about ready to accept the challenges that pursuing a relationship might bring, she decided that a relationship with me is not what is best for her. This is fair, but this stings. And while I’m grateful she wants to remain friends, it is hard as I try to battle my desires and feelings while attempting to be a good friend.  Am I in pain? Yes.

I had good intentions in refusing a physical relationship but now there are moments in which I feel regret not taking the opportunity at that moment to share in a kiss, which is an element of humanity that is so normal and natural.

What kept me from indulging in this kiss? I turned it down multiple times because I was afraid of hurting her, I was afraid of getting hurt, I was afraid of hurting my church family, I was afraid of going down a path that would cause strain in my own family…. but not once was I afraid of hurting God for experiencing something that comes from God. My intensions were pure but I’m left feeling the pain of denying another and myself the experience of touch, of kissing.

Though painful at times, I am okay with how things have turned out. It seems as though we both taught each other something. While I might have taught this person something about boundaries, she has taught me something about the human touch and letting some boundaries go.

It feels like darkness to hinder the LGBTQ population from the joys of the same experiences that people who are heterosexual experience. Most Christians don’t frown upon opposite sex couples when they “make out” before marriage. On the positive side of the pain I’m currently undergoing I’m grateful to see a little bit more of the reality of how hurtful it is for the LGBTQ person to be placed in positions of less than equal standards.

I go to church and see heterosexual couples that have freedom to express their sexuality, sit together, hold hands, and share the experience of worshiping The Creator of love itself. And while people are naturally seeking to match up those who are heterosexual and single, I’m left with instructions to “be single,” “be celibate,” “don’t trust your feelings,” “don’t allow yourself intimate love,” “deny yourself the enjoyment of marriage.” This. Is. Painful.

So how do I cope? How do I continue to worship with this church family?

I’m not at church to be comforted. I don’t attend with the expectation to feel good. I am at this church because I love the people, I believe in the love of God, and I believe that God sent a powerful message of love through Jesus who’s spirit is alive and at work though all our relationships. I hold on to that belief, not depending on my feelings of pain or on my feelings of joy.

I find encouragement from the following thoughts; this is a summary of the book of Zephaniah by Eugene Peterson’s The Message:

“We humans keep looking for a religion that will give us access to God without having to bother with people. We want to go to God for comfort and inspiration when we are fed up with the men and women and children around us. We want God to give us an edge in the dog-eat dog competition of daily life.  This determination to get ourselves a religion that gives us an inside track with God, but leaves us free to deal with people however we like, is age-old. It is the sort of religion that has been promoted and marketed with both zeal and skill throughout human history. Business is always booming.It is also the sort of religion that the biblical prophets are determined to root out. They are dead set against it.Because the root of a solid spiritual life is embedded in a relationship between people and God, it is easy to develop the misunderstanding that my spiritual life is something personal between God and me – a private thing to be nurtured by prayers and singing, spiritual readings that comfort and inspire, and worship with like-minded friends. If we think this way for very long, we will assume that the way we treat the people we don’t like or who don’t like us has nothing to do with God.That’s when the prophet’s step in and interrupt us, insisting, ‘Everything you think, or feel, or do has to do with God. Every person you meet has to do with God.’ We live in a vast world of interconnectedness, and the connections have consequences, either in things or in people – and all the consequences come together in God.”

I show up in my friendship with this new “special friend,” though at times painful, because I love and believe in God. I show up at church where my sexuality is shamed, because I love and believe in God. I find peace in the midst of my hurtful and joyful emotions in relationship with people by knowing that God is present in our “interconnectedness.”

Wait.

I love getting mail from readers. Yesterday, I received something that I related to on multiple levels. Many of us know the pain of waiting: Waiting for clarity, waiting for change, waiting for acceptance, tolerance, and love.

When I received this from Jill Lippard, she didn’t have the intention of sharing it here on the blog. But I thought it was something worth hearing. With her permission, here is Jill’s poetic experience of a life on hold. -Mandy

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I am tired of waiting.

I waited for seven years before I accepted that it was okay to love the love of my life. Seven years in the closet. Seven years sitting on the fence. Seven years of life on hold.

After wrestling through those years of doubt and indecision, I decided this love was a gift. A gift from God. A gift that I didn’t have to be ashamed of. I didn’t have to hide it. I didn’t have to fear for my salvation because of it. I was exactly who God made me to be.

So I came out. I told the truth about who I was and who I loved. Then I waited.

I waited for loved ones to recover from the shock. I gave them time to adjust to the idea. Time to cope with the perceived loss of who they believed me to be. Time to question. Time to arrive at a place of acceptance and, I hoped, eventually support. I waited.

A few years later, I married the love of my life. And, although I have a piece of paper from a state that recognizes our marriage, it is nothing more than a symbolic gesture in the state where I live.

So I continue to wait.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:4-8, 12-13)

Why are people so afraid of love? What are we waiting for?

I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalms 27:13-14)

Update on Oregon Bakery: Guest Blog Series

In our last post, guest blogger Josha wrote about the bakery in her hometown that refused to sell a wedding cake to a lesbian couple. As a gay Christian, she is dealing closely with this issue… both personally and within her community. She wrote this directly after her experience at church on Sunday morning. Here she shares new developments concerning the situation, and makes a plea to her LGBT brothers and sisters. Feel free to discuss in the comment section! -Mandy

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2/17/13
I found myself disheartened again, but not by any “anti-gay” comment from the pulpit.

I was disheartened when I read in the bulletin today at church that the bakery owners, who denied the lesbian couple a wedding cake, are being sued. Last week, the prayer request was presented with more of a focus on helping the bakery make a stand against “gay marriage.” And from a Christian standpoint, I found it hard to support the act of denying service as mentioned in last weeks post. However, as a Christian, I DO NOT support the act of suing this bakery.

It frustrates me when people who are “gay” retaliate with cruelty and threats towards those who appear as barriers. This behavior further paints a picture of people who are “gay” as being ill spirited individuals that rebel against God.

Just as many Christians don’t want to be viewed as “haters” in regards to their view on homosexuality, there are people who are homosexual who don’t want to be seen as an abomination or perverted with a rebellious heart.

I’d like to ask for those viewing this website to pray for protection on this family and their bakery. Their actions have brought opportunity for discussion and enlightenment. There is no need for “war.” Fighting back with harmful “weaponry” only puts up more barriers. We who are homosexual should show the very love that we want to be shown. Let’s be peacemakers and play a role in which prepares a path for conversation, healing, and understanding.

-Josha

Can We Have Our Cake and Eat It, Too?: How One Oregon Baker’s Decision Affects the Community

Many of you have heard about the Oregon bakery that recently refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. One of our guest bloggers, Josha, lives in the same town as that bakery. She, like the owner of the bakery, is a Christian… but Josha is also gay. How does a situation like this affect a community? How does it affect LGBT people who live within that community? Here’s Josha’s take on it. -Mandy

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I’d like to share about a moment in which I was disheartened.

lesbian wedding cakeThe background is that there is a local bakery, about a mile from my house and about a mile from the church I attend. Recently, the bakery denied a lesbian couple a wedding cake in support of their stance on what they believe is right vs. wrong.

The church I attend has a wonderful tradition in taking the time at the end of each Sunday morning service to collect prayer requests. The elder of the month reads them and immediately leads the congregation in a prayer for the requests. Today, someone presented a request for this local bakery and called for more support from Christians to help this bakery make a stand against “gay marriage.” The elder stated, “We need to support those who support the Lord’s way.” This is the moment in which my heart sank, while many in the congregation said “Amen.” My heart sank, not because I am “homosexual,” but because I’m a Christian who seeks the Lord. And as a Christian, I do not believe that denying a couple a wedding cake is the “Lord’s way.” Whether you agree with gay marriage or don’t agree with gay marriage, the “Lord’s way” is not to deny a service due to that person’s ethnicity, race, color, gender, or sexual preference. Discriminating, that is “the human’s way.”

As a health care provider, I serve the physical needs of people. I have recognized within 6 years of serving, there are ALL KINDS of people. And some of the people I have served have been “gay.” I did NOT say to them, “As a Christian, I am going to take a stand on what I believe to be the ‘Lord’s way’ and not give you physical therapy.” I serve everyone who comes into my path where I work. In the health care system it is called “unconditional positive regard.” In the Kingdom of God, it is called “God’s unconditional love.”

(And as an acknowledgement to my humanity I have struggled in serving people who are arrogant and self entitled, raging alcoholics, “male dominate” mindset, and racist, to name a few. At these moments I don’t only remind myself of “unconditional positive regard,” but I remind myself of who I am in relationship to God and am called to love with “unconditional love.”)

I realize it is important to stand up for what one believes to be right. My concern in the case of the bakery is that the stance is out of ignorance. I wonder if any of these people who are protesting for support of the bakery’s stance thought about the souls of the couple who wish to celebrate their love? Do they know people who are gay? Do they talk with and learn about the pain that people who are gay endure?

Furthermore, I’d like to know if there is some kind of survey each couple has to fill out at the bakery, prior to ordering a cake. Would this bakery deny a divorced individual who is getting remarried? Would they deny a couple that had sex before marriage? Would they deny someone who is not a “Christian?” If that person were a “Christian” would they deny that person a cake if they were not from a certain religious sect of Christians? What truly is their standard on whether they will provide for a couple or not?

Assuming there is no questionnaire or issue with other religious right/wrong with marriage, my question is, why do they stop their service when the couple is same-sex?

As one who is “homosexual” and as one who is Christian, I would like to say to the baker of this bakery, “I will not hate you. I will not speak in ways that curse your name. I will not threaten your life. In fact, if you were harmed, I would want to help you. But I also want you to know that people who are homosexual have the same desire for pure and genuine love as people who are heterosexual. And it sure does hurt when people put up barriers to celebrate that love.” I’m guessing he does not know this because so many people who are “gay” seem to be retaliating in hateful ways toward him.

While there are going to be “bakers” out there who don’t invite certain people to their bakery, the Lord’s Table is different. At the Lord’s Table, all are welcomed and are served with no conditions. I pray that I can continue to learn how to serve all people, as does the Lord.

And finally, if I were so blessed to have someone in my life that produced a love worth celebrating I would choose “The Lord’s Bakery,” to order my “cake.” Knowing that the Lord, being The Baker, would willingly provide me a “cake” to celebrate such a special love and commitment. And as a Lover, I would appreciate the Lord’s service. And because of the Lord’s service, my Love and I would celebrate our love with a Community of People who would share in the “cake” and in The Love and all would be well within a world filled with greed and hate.

“Are You a Boy or a Girl?”: Addressing Androgyny in the Church

Last week, Josha shared her post “Are You a Man, or Are You a Woman?”: Addressing Androgyny in Society and Culture. This is her follow-up article, that deals with similar issues. Many within the Church do not know what to do with people who are different, especially in the realm of sexuality and expression. We all claim that appearances do not matter. But is that what we are teaching our children? Thanks to people like Josha, I think we can have hope for future generations. -Mandy

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I enjoy teaching children’s worship at church and my goals are always to teach kids how to love others and that we are drawn to God through Jesus Christ.

Recently, on a Sunday morning, I was teaching a lesson on how God chooses us. The lesson material provided a parable about a rich girl whose father took her to the best toy store in town to buy a new doll. There were all kinds of dolls such as a nurse, ballerina, princess, and so on.  Despite all the beautiful options the girl asked the store manager if there were any other dolls. The manager said, “We have one more doll but you won’t want her. She was returned dirty and torn. In fact, we were thinking of throwing her away.” The rich girl said, “I’d like to see her anyway.” The manager returned with the doll and as the rich girl reached out she smiled and said, “I want this one.” And as she hugged the doll, the girl said, “She needs me!”

A couple of the children understood the story, but for the rest of the kids I continued to teach and explain that God chooses us and loves us even though we are not perfect. And we ought to love others too, even if they seem different or unusual.

I started to tell a story about a friend of mine who was born with one arm but was able to become a nurse.  I wanted to be sure the kids really understood the point that people are different looking on the outside but valuable and important on the inside.  During this story a boy raised his hand and without me calling on him he blurted out, “Are you a boy or a girl?!”

I said politely, “I’m a girl.”

As I attempted to continue the story, he said, “I couldn’t tell if you are a boy or a girl.”

I said, “That’s okay, I’m a girl.”

At that point, it seemed as though the boy just wanted to get laughs from the class and once again blurted out, “You look like a boy with your short hair!”

By the grace of God I kept my composure and with kindness I turned the situation into a teachable moment and said, “Yes, I look different but you can still love me, right?”

The boy did not answer me, but I think I might have given him something to think about. I went on and continued the lesson that God chooses to love us and that we ought to do the same as Christ and love others who are not perfect, people who are different, and those who don’t seem to “fit-in.”

While the experience above was a more difficult situation, there was another one in which a young boy wanted some honest clarification.

It was a small group of children who appeared to be listening intently to the Bible story as we were seated on the floor side by side in a circle. After I asked a question about the Bible story, a young boy raised his hand. He leaned in toward me and quietly asked, “Are you a boy or a girl? I informed him that I am a girl. He said, “Okay, I was just always wondering.” To this day that kid still comes up to me and initiates a hug. I guess it really didn’t matter to him.

Children are curious but not always courteous. They point fingers at people with one leg or with a missing arm; they stare at people in wheelchairs, they compare when someone has a different skin color. They laugh when someone does something that is not socially acceptable. They ask blatant questions when things aren’t “ideal” or “normal.” We teach them how to react. Don’t we? We either shelter them from people who are different or we expose them to the diversity of this world. We can teach them to either point fingers and view differences as a negative thing, or we can allow them to ask question and then provide answers that teach them how to view others who are different.

We are all different to someone else. I think that is partly why Jesus stated, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

And Jesus states, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” So, lets teach kids the right way to judge.

And what is the right way to judge?
As it says, in reference to Jesus Christ in Isaiah 11:2-4,
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.”

I believe that if we judge people through the eyes of Christ, we are more likely to make a right judgment.

“Are You a Man, or Are You a Woman”?: Addressing Androgyny in Society and Culture

Everyone’s favorite guest blogger is back! Josha candidly discusses her gender identity, gender expression, and androgyny in what I believe is her most touching post yet. -Mandy

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genderAs a PT assistant in a skilled nursing facility, I had a wonderful experience with an older man as he lay on his deathbed. I easily connected with this man when he initially came to our facility for physical therapy, however his end stage liver disease caused a major decline in his physical and mental abilities and so he was set up with hospice care.

The following is the experience that I had with him during a 3-day span, prior to his discharge from physical therapy.

Thursday: This very tall, ailing, older adult who is an Englishman found out that I was a woman. His face looked as though he was shocked with confusion. I watched the conversation go down from a distance and I figured that by the next day he would have no recollection of this new information.

Friday: The man waved for me to come over to him in the hallway. With time and with difficulty due to great effort to find the right words, he told me, with slurred speech and an English accent, “Somebody said you are a woman. Is this true?” His tone and disbelief looked as though he was disappointed.

I told him that I am and he said, “but you are Joshua!”

I said, “No, I’m Josha.”

He went on with some more disorganized comments and seemed frustrated that all this time he thought I was a guy, and that people were lying to him in telling him that I am a woman.

Saturday: It was early morning as I entered his room and he was still in his hospital gown, lying in bed, barely able to talk. When he figured out who I was he said “Joshua!” with excitement and his face lit up.  And then he went on to ask me, “I have to know, are you a man, or are you a woman? Somebody has said you are a woman.”

With a slight feeling of discomfort, I replied, “Yes, I am a woman.”

He said, “I’m so confused. “

I said, “I see that this is bothering you.”

He said, “No. Yes. Oh, this cruel world!”

I told him to relax, as he was getting so anxious. I checked his vitals, and then notified the nurse of his low blood pressure and his behaviors of anxiousness and increased confusion.

I came back to assure him that the nurse would be coming to check in with him, and he continued on with trying to figure things out.

Before I left for the weekend, I returned to his room to check in.  He seemed to have cleared up and was not as anxious. We joked about his confusion and his behavior from the morning. He was still a little jumbled but was making more since than before and he went on to say, with his adorable English accent,  “Hey, I realize you are not a man and you are not a woman. But you are a wonderful person. Please don’t think I’m a hater.“

I said, “I’m sorry, I did not mean to confuse you.”

He said, “No, you don’t need to apologize. You are such a wonderful person. Please don’t think I’m a hater.”

I assured him that I did not think he was a hater and that I would see him next week.

With a sarcastic tone and a halfway smile, he stated, “I don’t know that I will be around next week.”

I told him that I was glad he was feeling better and that I will look forward to seeing him next week.

This experience with this man of an older generation was amazing to me. I felt like I was watching him reconcile, in the midst of the end of his life, his view on something he doesn’t understand. Grant it, he was in bit of a confused state of mind, but all the more amazing that he came to peace with the fact that I’m different. I don’t look stereotypically female and I don’t look stereotypically male. Androgynous is perhaps a word he could have found useful in his vocabulary.

It reminded me of one of my most favorite quotes of Jesus, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”

I think that statement is recorded only once, but I wonder how many times Jesus actually had to make that statement.

I wonder if God spoke to this man saying, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” It is as though the man finally decided it didn’t matter what I looked like, it didn’t matter if I had a male or female label, and all that matter was that I was a wonderful person.  He stopped focusing on trying to figure me out and relaxed with looking into my heart and the soul of who I am.

I also learned something about myself. It really felt good to hear him say, “I know you are not a man, and I know you are not a woman.” I also struggle with both these labels. I honestly cannot refer to myself as male, but to be even more honest, it has and still feels so awkward to refer to myself as a woman. It felt so good to hear someone say that I’m neither male nor female.  This is just an observation that I wonder if more people out there experience as well.

-Josha

One Christian Heterosexual’s Thoughts on the Chick-fil-A Debate

While skimming Facebook yesterday, amid all of the Chick-fil-A squabbling,  I happened upon a note written by one of my former teachers. She is a heterosexual Christian woman, a middle school teacher, and in her own words, a jack of all trades. I think you may enjoy hearing her perspective on this week’s events. Her article is posted below, with her permission. Enjoy!

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Opinions… Like Behinds, Everyone Has One. Well, Here’s Mine.

by Holly Ross

I apologize in advance for those I’m going to offend….please stop reading if it offends you.  That’s your right, just as it’s mine to state my opinion on the matter. Seems that everyone is exercising that Freedom of Speech right lately.  I’m not trying to stir controversy, but sitting back saying nothing is not always the best plan.  I’ve tried hard to ignore all the hoopla on facebook/news regarding Chick fil A.  But obviously, I haven’t been able to do that very well.  Those who know me well will understand that.

First, I love Chick fil A, (who’s making a lot of bank deposits today!) regardless of what anyone in the company says.  They’re the best fast food around…polite, and correct most of the time! They have the right to exercise freedom of speech (and, according to one post I read, Obama is trying to take that away…REALLY?! He’s going to change the Bill of Rights??)  And I’m not trying to get into a ‘scripture debate’.  I can pull things from the Bible to support my thoughts with the best of ‘em.  But I digress.

My real point here relates to the subject of gays… I, a heterosexual Christian woman, have gay friends.  And family.  GASP!  I’m not a betting woman, but I bet if I asked any one of them if they could CHOOSE to be gay, the answer would be no. Who in their right mind would subject themselves to the scrutiny and judgement afforded to those who are gay? I choose to be skinny, but I’m not. I eat too much on a regular basis, committing the sin of gluttony willingly.  I’m not going to protest Weight Watchers or Body by Vi.

Now, I want to share a story. One of my very best friends in the whole world is gay. We’ve been friends for years, but she only told me this about a year ago. Did I know before then? Yes. But it was never discussed. I’m guessing fear of being judged prevented that discussion. And I’m sorry she worried about that. It didn’t affect our friendship at any time. I didn’t really care, and didn’t dwell on it.  Still don’t. I love her, my family loves her. And she loves us. Unconditionally. She knows what the bible says.  She attends church more regularly than I do.  No one needs to tell her what it says. It’s not my job to judge her, or anyone for that matter.  Nor is it anyone’s job here on earth to judge others.  Period.  She’s done more for me and my kids than many in my own family. She’s a friend at all times, and regularly gives more of herself than she ever takes.  Not just to me, but to MANY who are in need, and most are not even related to her.  My point is, she is so much more than ‘gay’.  That one little word does not define who she is.

Until you LOVE someone who lives as a gay person, you really have a worthless opinion about it.  Seeing them hurt by some of the ridiculous comments I’ve read on facebook forced me to open my big mouth.  That’s my opinion.

One more thought….I’ve watched over the years as kids have been made fun of for a variety of reasons.  They’re too fat, too skinny, too poor, too feminine, too masculine, too dark, the wrong religion, too gay, too dirty, and on and on and on.  Kids make fun of other kids because of what they’re taught or hear at home (most of the time). I’ve seen kids ready to ruin their lives based on remarks made by others.  Let me just say, if you are young enough to someday have grandkids, your biases may come back to haunt you.  I’ve seen it happen.  I, for one, am not willing to turn away anyone I love based on any of those biases.  I work hard at eliminating those both in myself and in my classroom.  I try to live my life as an example to my children… ALL of them.  Until we as a human race accept ALL people, we will never put an end to bullying, just as we will never put an end to war.  We are like quick draw McGraw when it comes to judgement.  And like molasses on a winter’s day when it comes to acceptance and tolerance.  I prefer to work at being the person who would be the Christian example, even though it’s work for the best of us at times.  Just a little food for thought.

Think I’ll go have a cupcake now.

Love to all.

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I hope this post gives you hope, love, and warm fuzzies in the midst of this week’s polarized and heated debates. Rather than head out to the “kiss-in” protests today, why not engage in some loving discussion instead? Be sure you leave some love for Holly in the comment section below! Have a blessed and beautiful weekend!   -Mandy

The Mystery of Marriage: Guest Blog Series

Today’s post comes from Josha, as she shares her heartfelt thoughts about marriage. With the divisiveness in our Church over this issue, will marriage ever be a true possibility for an LGBT Christian? Josha tells us how it is quite feasible to be a pure, loving, devout Christian… who happens to be homosexual.

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I attended a beautiful wedding this past week. It was beautiful because of who the bride and groom are, because of the purity in their love story, and because of the message that came from the minister during the ceremony.

The minister spoke of the original love story, the one of Christ as the groom and the church as the bride and of Satan being the villain that tried so hard to keep Christ and his church separated. Christians partake in this love story on a daily basis and it is celebrated during communion (every Sunday in our faith tradition). Frequently, and scripturally this profound love story is compared to husbands and wives and the symbolism of their union and the desire within us all to be one with another. Throughout history humanity has been drawn to love stories. As the minister pointed out, we have on going movies and stories such as “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Shrek”, so on and so on.

Marriage and the love stories within have been a model for me my entire life, within my family and within my church and so as a gay Christian I felt hope upon attending this wedding in regards to what the minister spoke about. As he was speaking so beautifully about love stories and the analogy to Christ and the church and what God has set in our hearts, I thought,

“This is what it all comes down to, people who are gay are being asked to deny themselves a love story.”

God never said, “deny your self the blessings of a love story.” In fact God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” And in the wisdom literature of Ecclesiastes it states, “Two are better than one and a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” This tells me that it is not good for a person to be alone, it is better to be united with another, and it is best for the two to be united with God.

I believe there is a difference between denying your self sin (selfishness, greed and so on) than in denying yourself a glimpse of the mystery of God (love in a marriage relationship). How can a person who is gay be asked to partake in a life with Christ as the groom and the church as the bride, and then be denied the opportunity and beauty of marriage when they do not feel a calling to be single such as Paul?

There is a growing call for Christians to “Love the Homosexual.” This is wonderful, but my question is, “What does that look like?” Does that merely mean,

Invitations to dinner

Saying, “welcome to our church, we love you”

Not mocking someone who is gay

Looking at a person who is gay and not thinking “gross”

Loving conversations

Removing the word “abomination” from the rhetoric?

These are good acts/attempts of showing love, but will loving people who are homosexual someday mean, supporting gay marriage and affirming the sexuality of an LGBT that is part of who they are?

I came across a quote from Judith Plascow (a Professor of Religious Studies and an author) that states,

“If sexuality is one dimension of our ability to live passionately in the world then in cutting off our sexual feelings we diminish our overall power to feel know and value deeply.”

When we take the few scriptures that talk about homosexuality and study them in their original time, original context, with the original intent, and when we take the love story of God, and when we take the teachings of Christ….. is it right to ask an individual to cut off their sexual feelings, OR is it right to support one in their love story?

How can I, a person who is homosexual, attend church and partake in communion, a celebration of the profound mystery of Christ’s relationship with his church, and have to deny myself the possibility of a love story that resonates so deep within all human kind? Love stories are a gift from God. I realize not everyone is blessed with such stories, but not everyone is asked to deny themselves such stories.

Nobody would tell Shrek that he is an ugly ogre who is not worthy of a love story or the Beast that he is undeserving of a love story. Because as we all know, the ugly and the beautiful when united in a love story become inspirational with eternal blessings. In the same way how can we deny a gay person his/her love story that will not only help two grow and mature as one, but will also inspire all who become part of that couple’s love story?

It has been noted to me that Paul calls people to be single. Paul says that it is better to be single so that your attention will not be divided between the Lord and your spouse, however I’d like to note that Paul also uses the analogy of marriage in efforts to shed light on the profound mystery of Christ and his church as it is deeply routed in us to desire a marriage relationship. I’d also like to note that the people who quote Paul’s call to be single, are people who are married…..hmmmm.

I have made it a habit during the weekly communion time on Sundays to pray for those in the LGBT community. As I take the meal that represents Christ’s body and blood, God’s love story, and the symbolism of what brings us all together, I pray for the following with Christ’s teachings in mind:

1) Gay couples who I know, in that God will bless their relationship to the fullest as

they seek to honor God with their union.

2) For individuals who are struggling in their relationship with God as they

feel that they cannot be in relationship with God because of their sexuality.

3) For our churches to learn how to love the LGBT community.

This has made communion for me, not just routine, but something I look forward to partaking in as it continues to enlighten for me, the power of Christ. Communion gives me hope as it symbolizes the unity and the reconciliation that we all have in the reality of Christ…..which continues to be a profound mystery.

Am I Allowed to Dream?: Guest Blog Series

 

This post comes from Josha. Here are some of her honest thoughts of dreaming of a future as a gay Christian.

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I have heard these statements more than once in my lifetime:

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
“Girls dream of and plan their weddings before they even meet their husbands.”
“All little girls dream of being a princess.”

I’d like to say, “This is not true!”

I remember when I was real young, fearing the day that a man might propose with an expensive diamond ring that would stick way out and get caught on everything. Seriously, I feared either having to suck-it-up and wear it the rest of my life, or having to break the guy’s heart and say, “I will marry you if I don’t have to wear that.”

And I never dreamed of getting married. I really thought God would let me know when the right time, and who the right guy would be….until then, “why would I dream of this?” I thought.

I never dreamed of being a princess….actually, I dreamed of being a hero like a prince or like Rambo or like Indiana Jones. My dreams were actually me being male, until I got to an age where I had an awareness that most girls don’t dream of being guys, plus they don’t desire to be a guy. When I stopped allowing myself to dream of being like Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, I started hating myself. I had to fight those dreams and the older I got, dreaming of my future was very difficult. I had no desire to dream of being a wife or a mother. Basketball became my dream, as well as seeking to honor the Lord with my life. I held strong to my passion for purity and hoped that one day God would give me insight into who and when I should ever get married….and that I would finally have marriage desires.

I recall my brother always dreaming of being a husband and a father. He talked about it many times. He made choices and plans during the present time of his youth based on his dream of having a family. One example that I love is that he got a Master’s in Hotel and Restaurant Management and began working in a hotel (while he was single) and quickly learned that the Hotel business is terrible if you want to have a family. During that time he fell in love with ministering to elementary age, inter-city kids and that inspired him to become a teacher with the vision of having holidays and summers off to be with his wife and children. I love my brother. He now has a wonderful wife, an awesome one year old, and another baby on the way. He is living his dream. He is living what he started talking about in high school. He is very happy.

Finally, God has given me insight into marriage. Finally, I get it. Finally, I have marriage desires. I find myself wanting to dream of being married someday.  I have noticed that I have even started making decisions based on the possibility of being married (to a woman of course). But then my dream gets squashed.  Frequently. Every time I hear something negative about homosexuality. When I hear people say that marriage is only for one man and one woman, period. When I consider the reality of how hard it will be for my family and my church family to accept me being married to a woman, I shut my dream up. I try not to get my hopes up for something that may cause so much pain in the community that I live in.

I just want to dream my dreams. Can I do that for a moment?

I dream about a day that not only society at large recognizes marriage between same-sex couples, but my church family saying, “We accept you and your marriage.”

I dream that my church family will welcome all LGBT folks and not with the “we love the sinner, hate the sin” slogan, but with an approach of openness to the fact that “we just might be wrong about our perception of sexuality.”

I dream of my whole family saying one day, “Josha, we just never knew another view until now, and after much processing and much seeking, we have a better understanding and want to support you in a marriage with a woman and include her into the family…..”

I dream of someday meeting a woman who is on the same Christian path as me, who has the same morals and values, and like I shared in ‘That Lifestyle,’ I dream the following….

“We would make decisions together and discuss daily topics. We would share meals and entertain company. We would work through problems, together. We would go for hikes in the mountains and take trips to the beach. We would serve others in society, together. We would seek the Lord in all that we do. We would serve in a church family, where we could be in community with others and could grow spiritually, together. We would take care of a home and a yard. We would listen to each other’s stories. We would support one another’s dreams and grieve with one another’s losses. We would take care of each other when one of us is sick. We would enjoy just being, together. I would hold her hand and tell her that I love her, and learn how to express my love to her for a lifetime.”

But when I read what I have just written and I reflect on the views that most Christians have, I think to myself “How disgusting you must be to want this with a woman?” I tell myself to “Shut up, you are ridiculous! This can never happen!”

This is the tug-of-war that I experience within myself. The fight of holding back my dreams because of what I’ve been taught my whole life about the one man, one woman perspective. And this is when I start to experience what I’ve written about, “In the Midst of Dying.”  

Sometimes, I just want freedom to dream.

I want to honor the Lord with my life as I dream. And so, here I am writing on a blog, just trying to be truthful and as honest as possible while I’m wresting with moving forward, seeking holiness.

It is both an exciting and frustratingly difficult journey.

I’m working on embracing this time where people are being open and more receptive, but when my dreams are squashed, it is hard to embrace this time.

My apologies to the Lord as there are moments I feel like I’m a whiny kid lacking patience.

I want freedom to dream and I want the desires of my heart to come true….surely this is the same for every breathing human being….and perhaps it is also true for God…..

May we all answer the call of the Lord that is spoken in Zechariah 7:9-10, “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.” (Reminds me of Jesus).

When communities answer this call, this vision, this dream of God’s, it is evident, because children and the elderly are cared for, people feel safe, needs are met….and dreams that lead to peace are encouraged.