You Don’t Have To Take My Word For It

If you’re from my generation, you remember that one-liner from Reading Rainbow with Levar Burton. On every episode, just before the book reviews, he would say something along these lines: “There are plenty of great books out there about the seashore. But… you don’t have to take my word for it!” And that, my friends, is what I’d like to tell you today. On this blog, I record my thoughts as my journey unfolds. It’s a way for me to process my odyssey of discovery in regards to my spirituality and my sexuality. And if it helps someone else along the way, then I consider that a true blessing and an added bonus! My intent is not to tell others what they ought to believe, but to share my experiences with others, and vice versa. These experiences can range from anything from historical-critical research of the Bible, translation studies, and personal understanding of Scripture. This blog is a safe place for all discussion, no matter where you are in that experience. Sure, people have different points of view… and those views will be debated from time to time. And as long as they are discussed respectfully, there is much to learn from these conversations. I have approved every comment that has ever been submitted on this blog, and intend to continue doing so.

I continue to be blessed, humbled, and amazed by those of you who read this blog and offer encouragement to me and to each other. And isn’t that what we all need? We all know this journey isn’t an easy one to take. There are consequences. There are usually relationships lost. But, oh, there is freedom in the pursuit of Truth! My journey continues on, and I’m absolutely astonished by God’s faithfulness through it all. He has seen me through one of the most difficult transitions of my life. I have been cut off by many with whom I used to fellowship. There are some who overcompensate for their loathing for me by turning on the charm when I’m in their presence, yet talk about me once I’m gone. There are some who pass around the URL to this blog to get a good chuckle or to make themselves feel better about their own lives. And there are some who use prayer requests as an excuse to gossip and shake their heads at my spiritual downfall. But what these people don’t know, is that I pray the following prayer every day:

“God, if I’m going in the wrong direction in my studies, please show me. Make the sign so unbelievably clear that I can’t mistake it. You know my heart, and you know where my research is leading me. I beg you, show me now if this is the wrong road for me.”

I’m making it pretty cut and dry. “If my conclusion that gay = ok is incorrect, then show me in a way that I cannot ignore.” I’ve prayed for specific signs before, and I’ve seen them come to pass. Yet here I am, a child of God, pleading with my Father to give me a sign… and time and time again, there is nothing. Instead, He gives me more and more confirmation about His overwhelming love and acceptance through new insights, new revelations, or new friendships. Even prayers about my dad are being answered as he is making his own discoveries about Scripture and the damage that can be unintentionally done by the Church. (This is particularly amazing because we do not discuss the topic of sexuality unless he expresses an interest in doing so.) I am committed to praying the above prayer every single day, and I’m open to the possibilities of changing views. I think it’s important for all of us to be open to that potential.

I’ve done more personal research of the Bible in the last few years than I’ve done in my entire life. It’s actually quite humbling, because I’ve realized the more I study, the less I really know. When I look at the Bible with new eyes, I walk through a door to an entirely new world of mystery. Some of the things I grew up hearing in church are very different from the things I glean from my own study. It’s frightening, yet exciting. When you forget all of the rhetoric you’ve been told and read the Bible like you’ve (literally) never read it before, you may come up with some very different conclusions than the ones you expected.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

10 responses to “You Don’t Have To Take My Word For It

  1. I’ve prayed similar prayers, and have had similar experiences, and have had similar circumstances of confirmation. Am still open to what God is revealing. Am still open to learning. Am still praying to see clearly with God’s wisdom and not my own. With each step, it is a step of faith. Leaving God, leaving relationship with God, leaving connection with God is NOT an option.

    I can relate to the comment “the more I study, the less I really know,” however, I’m mindful of what Forest Gump said, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” I think that love is what will carry all of us threw what we don’t know no matter which side of the fence we are on and no matter how much we feel we don’t know.

  2. Brave prayer, and one that I have prayed as well. At some point, though, I think we need to start living as though it is the truth, undeterred by what others say, and proceed knowing that God will smack us upside the head one way or another if we are off-base.

    It seems like we are at a pivotal point in the church and society on the issue of homosexuality, and it’s exciting to have even a tiny voice in the process. But what I continue to be absorbed by these days is the truth that, regardless of sexuality, we all need Christ to fill the gaping hole in our heart. I see pain in the lives of lesbians I have been getting to know, crappy relationships and “drama”, all of which seem to be rooted in the fact that they don’t have an anchor for their soul and are looking for another person to fill it. As I share my story with them, I communicate that Christ is walking through this with me and that’s what’s giving me strength to bear up and to want to live a life in integrity. Because I listen to them, they listen to me. I sort of feel like a missionary, which is funny, because my first job out of college was in ministry and I sucked at it. This I like. I hope someday to start a bible study through my local meet up group. Wouldn’t that be hilarious?

    • I think that is an excellent point that you have stated, “I think we need to start living as though it is the truth, undeterred by what others say, and proceed knowing that God will smack us upside the head one way or another if we are off-base.” Very well said, however at the same time I find myself thinking, “hold on!” I don’t want to mess up in moving forward with “living as though it IS the truth” and I have to ask myself “What does living as though it IS the truth, look like?” Am I doing that? Or am I still being too cautions? And I have to remind myself “You are moving forward with faith.” And well, maybe we really just need to buckle up with our faith and enjoy the ride and if “smacked” then trust that God’s grace and mercy will keep us going.

      • One of the benefits of becoming older is that it forces you to come to peace about your inability to avoid mistakes. I know I will make mistakes along the way; I will say things wrong; probably enter into some relationships with people that I will later regret; and hurt feelings including my own along the way. I have learned that saying “I apologize” and taking responsibility for what I did wrong doesn’t always fix things, but that often, God uses those moments as his sharpest, most effective tools to chisel away character issues in my life. I also know that God sees my heart and my true motives and loves me despite the mistakes. If I thought the goal was to be a lesbian who loves God without making a mistake, I would give up now, because that’s certainly not going to happen. However, I remember my catechism lesson no. 1, which instructs that the purpose of life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That is what I hope my life stands for in the end, and I trust that God can and will make my mistakes, as well as the things I happen to get right, into something useful for his Glory.

  3. I kind of think God doesn’t want us to take someone else’s word for it. I think He wants us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” There are so many people who have come to know and love Jesus befor they had any idea about who they would fall in love with one day. I can’t imagine Jesus turning that child away, and so I can’t imagine Jesus turning that adult away. I wish my reply was more scriptural, but I think that to know Jesus is to know the heart of God in a way that is beyond words at times, particularly where grace is involved. Thank you for yor thoughtful post.

    • I really like what this person has said. It is a good point and the image that comes to mind is the passage where Jesus allows the children to come to him while his disciples tried to stop them. Jesus had no conditions set up for people to come to him and to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” While the disciples thought the age of the children was a condition, Jesus said “no, let them come.” And I think that is the same for everyone. Does not matter the conditions….well, actually it seems as though the Lord is more interested in sharing the Lord’s goodness with those who are not welcomed and who are held at arms length from society. So, absolutely, while we once sang “Jesus loves me” as children, we can still sing “Jesus loves me” as adults with faith like a child, not because of what someone else says but because we have EXPERIENCED the goodness of the Lord (despite who we fall in love with).

      Nice comment Mr. Sketchbookguy.

    • Hey, sketchbookguy! I think you’ve made some really accurate statements, there.🙂 I agree… Jesus does not turn his children away. And in fact, God makes sure that all of our needs are met before we even realize we have those needs. I think your answer is more scriptural than you think! We come to Him just as we are… scars, wounds, doubts and all! Then He does with us what He will. If we truly seek out His truth, why would we ever think He would keep us from discovering it?

      It’s great to meet you on here, and I hope to get more acquainted! God bless you.🙂

      • Thanks! and I have tried to incorporate some my thought on this topic in my post today. I always enjoy posts like yours that challenge me to think more deeply!

  4. As always, wonderful thoughts from erins1911 and Josha! I am always encouraged by your words, and I really enjoy hearing your thoughts about these things. I love how you’ve both touched on the fact that we are all broken individuals, who must learn from our mistakes. And isn’t it wonderful news that we can come to Jesus as we are, and let him refine us!

    I don’t know why I feel the need to share this, but I feel it’s applicable in some way: At the congregation I currently attend, every Sunday morning from the pulpit before the sermon, one of the associate pastors always says something along these lines: “We hope you will find a place in fellowship here. No matter who you are, what you believe, what your doubts are, or who you love… you are welcome here.” Isn’t that beautiful? I should point out the congregation is not officially “gay affirming”—although they are quite open—as there are a few LGBT couples who are members there. But that statement has brought me so much comfort… and to me, it epitomizes the character of Christ.

  5. To sketchbookguy,
    I feel compelled to commend you once again for the comment you made on this post. Like Mandy said, they are very scriptural and I have kept them close to my heart these last couple of days. I’ve lived a lifetime of experiencing the Lord’s goodness. It is amazing how due to this wrestling with sexuality and spirituality I find barriers popping up here and there that I perceive as getting in the way of the Lords goodness, but your comment has been one of which that has helped take down some of those barriers. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that is the best way I can explain what I’m thinking and experiencing. Your comments here are important.

    And for Mandy’s comment about what is said before the sermon is not just a beautiful welcome to those attending, but it is also a statement of openness to grow. By saying “We hope you will find a place of fellowship here… No matter who you are, what you believe, what your doubts are, or who you love…..” That is like saying “we are open to learning from YOU, where you are at in life and where you are coming from, even if it is different to what we have experienced.” Maybe churches need to make themselves more vulnerable instead of trying to make themselves “safer.”

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