Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kind of thought provoking

Worth reading this to the's a really unique take on this important issue.  I heard this passage a few weeks ago at my Elijah House class and finally bought the book; can't wait to hear what else the author has to say.  

"I don't want to be closed-minded or judgmental, but in good conscience I simply can't approve of the lifestyle. I personally believe it's a choice, not something predestined or forced upon anyone by anyone. I understand that parental upbringing is undoubtedly a big factor and that some people believe genes play a role in predisposing people to this orientation, but I also know that adults are responsible for their behavior, and the behaviors associated with this lifestyle are no exception. 

On the one hand, I believe that we live in a free country, and people should be free to do what they think is right. But on the other hand, I believe freedom has limits-one limit being where others are hurt by the chosen lifestyle. And this lifestyle, there can be no mistake, is hurting a lot of people. Families are being torn apart by it, and churches and denominations too. 

Everybody has an opinion on this controversial lifestyle, but I believe God's opinion is the one that matters most, and there is absolutely no question what God's opinion is according to the Bible. This orientation and the behaviors associated with it are thoroughly condemned, especially by Jesus. He was very compassionate toward many groups of people, but there is one group he had an absolute and uncompromising commitment to confront and expose, and it was those who dishonor themselves and others as humans made in the image of God by engaging in this lifestyle and its practices.

When people choose this lifestyle, they often cut themselves off from everyone who doesn't agree with them. They end up being assimilated and absorbed into closed communities where only their own voices and views are heard, and everyone who disagrees is mocked and condemned, often with very strong language. They often see their community as superior and become incapable of speaking respectfully to or of those of us who cannot in good conscience agree with them. Some of them go so far as to claim that God made them the way they are, pushing onto God the responsibility for their own choices and behaviors. 

Some, after giving themselves over completely to the lifestyle, have a crisis of conscience. But when they want to leave, their leaders and peers depict their changing perspective as a betrayal and pressure them to stay, often using fear tactics to intimidate them and keep them in their community. Special ministries have formed to help people exit the lifestyle, recover from the abuse and pain the community has been known to impose, and be reoriented to a healthier life and perspective. But even with professional therapy, many people feel they have been wounded for life by what they've experienced, and many, looking back on their years "inside," compare the lifestyle to an addiction. 

Spokespeople for the lifestyle can seem very educated and scholarly. They claim that their position has a long history behind it. They often quote scientific studies and back up their assertions with emotional anecdotes. Sometimes they seek to gain sympathy by claiming they are being mistreated and persecuted for being outspoken about their views. But they tend to ignore other strands of history and scientific research that contradict their position, and they ignore anecdotes that don't fit with their predetermined conclusions, and they minimize the persecution they inflict on others. 

Advocates are eager to recruit others into their "love" as they call it. Many organizations raise huge sums of money to recruit youth and children into their chosen way of life, and they have been extremely adept at using media-radio, TV and now the Internet-to gain an aura of credibility and legitimacy. They organize huge events and mass rallies to celebrate their growing clout and demonstrate that they are proud of who they are and what they stand for. Everyone knows how much influence they have in our political system, and how one political party in particular panders for their votes. But look at the countries where this lifestyle runs rampant, and you'll get an idea what our nation will be like if some of us don't have the courage to stand up and speak up. Wherever this lifestyle spreads, a whole host of social problems inevitably follows. 

Yes, activists may use the word love to justify their behavior, but those who disagree with them are seldom treated with love. Many of us have already faced the scorn of the activists who promote this chosen lifestyle and defend it as legitimate and even godly. For doing so we have received hate mail peppered with a wide range of threats and abusive speech, with many calling for our damnation. But even so, we have learned that we must not respond to hate with hate; we must love these people and seek to help them, even though we do not approve of their behavior.

You've probably realized by now that this parable isn't talking about "the gay lifestyle" but rather "the judgmental lifestyle," the kind of "take-the-splinter-out-of-your-brother's-eye" religiosity that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount. (If you didn't realize it, try going back and rereading it in that light.)"

Andrew Marin. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (p. 12). Kindle Edition. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

setting the record straight

Got to be honest before I start here...been a long week already.  Been one since Sunday.  

I started writing this earlier this evening.  I got annoyed with it, closed the laptop and spent some quite time.  I got home and sat outside by the fire pit and my attitude somewhat changed.  So I'm rewriting this blog using my "nice words".  

A lot of people have been calling me a name.  They've used this term many times and I've even called my self this name on more than one occasion.  The name has actually become rather offensive to me though.  I really don't like it and I don't like that I call myself this name too often.  That name?  Missionary.  I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not a missionary.  Not as you may think of the term.  

People tend to think of missionaries as having their life all together.  Missionaries don't have bad days.  They don't say bad words.  They never have a drink or smoke.  They have perfect families and relationships.  Life is perfect.  Right?  WRONG!  At least, it sure is for me!  

I had a glass of scotch and smoked my pipe sitting by the fire.  Sometimes, I say a bad word.  Family?  HA!  I love my family, but there're still parts that are messed up.  My mom and I haven't spoken in over a year.  I reached a point where there's nothing I could do to fix it.  Life all put together?  Really?  that's a joke!  I've led a pretty crazy life so far.  I've done a lot of things that I'm proud of.  But I've done a lot of things I'm not so proud of too.  If you know me from back in the Friars' Society, you probably saw some of them.  Perfect relationships?  Yeah, I wish.  I wish I could fix them.  I'm going through something right now with someone I've been friends with for a long time.  After a conflict, this other person is refusing to work through it.  Instead, has said that they are unwilling to put effort into trying to fix things.  I wish I had perfect relationships.  I really do.  

I was reading the book of Ruth recently.  Great book from the Old Testament.  Quick back story:  Ruth and her sister in law are married into this woman named Naomi's family.  Both of their husbands die - no children.  Naomi tells them to go back to their fathers' homes to remarry.  The sister in law does this.  Ruth, well, she doesn't leave.  Here's what she says to Naomi:  

Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if 
even death separates you and me

That's what I want.  I want that same level of loyalty in my relationships.  And I'm not willing to settle for anything less.  I may not be a perfect person.  I've been broken and I have my problems.  But you know what?  I'm still being used in really awesome ways.  I may have a family member or two that I don't talk to.  I have a friend that has stabbed my in the gut.  I enjoy a cold beer or a scotch.  I love a good cigar from time to time.  I'm not what people think of in their heads when you say "missionary".  And you know what?  I don't know many people that are.  What am I then?

I'm a man chasing a dream.  I'm a man that is following a leading in my life to Kenya.  I'm a man who has failed many times.  But with each failure, I've learned something.  With each and every failure, I've become that much better of a man.  I've failed but I'm not a failure in any way.  I love the journey that I'm on.  I love my kids in Kenya.  I can't wait to be back there and start my work.  But not as a "missionary".  As a man.  Plain and simple.  A man.  Nothing greater, nothing less.  Just a man.  

So there it is.  The term that so many like to throw around like some blue ribbon at the's not so blue anymore.  

And there're my random thoughts for the night.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

thoughts on friendships

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it really means to be someone's friend.  I touched on it a bit towards the end of my last blog.  I've been thinking about what it means to be in relationship with others.  I'm not talking about a romantic relationship.  I'm talking about really being in relationship with another.

Since I've been back from Kenya I've noticed a few relationships changing.  Truthfully, most of the changes started either before I left for Kenya or while I was there.  Some have changed for the best.  I've made decisions to set healthy boundaries with certain members of my family and I've expressed those boundaries to them.  It sucks, but it was necessary because of where this specific person is and the effect it had on me.  It shows me that being in relationship with others means speaking the truth, even when it sucks.  Even when it means that the relationship changes.  For this family member, I've always had a rocky relationship.  But I often tried to keep a front up that I wasn't bothered by it.  I had to learn that that wasn't the loving thing to do anymore.  Relationship means being truthful.

I've had a very close relationship change due to some conflict.  The conflict took a while to resolve (I take some of the blame there as well).  As we moved towards resolution I thought we had found it.  Until I was told that this particular friend didn't want to put effort in anymore and asked me not to either.  Relationships are work sometimes.  There is conflict.  And that conflict, when handled properly can bring growth and closer unity.  It's in these times that we must fight for the relationship.  Still, the question arrises - and I don't know the answer - how long to you fight while being met with nothing but utter failure?

I  talked about King David's friend Hushai in my last blog.  Hushai saw David being betrayed and rejected by so many.  Even at risk to himself, he remained loyal to David.  It couldn't have been easy for Hushai to remain David's friend, but he did.  He chose relationship over everything - even his own life!  I don't know about you, but to me, that's the kind of friend I'd like to have!  In our world our lives may not be at stake for remaining friends with someone.  But our reputation may be.  Our jobs may be at stake.  Our image may be at stake.  I made a decision to remain loyal to some of my close friends and have lost some of the above things.  You know what?  It was worth it in every case.  Sadly, I've also been on the other side where people that I thought were friends chose their reputation or image over our friendship.  It sucks.  It's really dishonoring.  Relationships are hard.  They require work.  Sometimes, more than we feel up to.  But in the end, it's worth it.

Last week in my Elijah House class we were talking about relationships.  We talked about how so often our Western World is more task oriented whereas much of the rest of the world is focused on the relationship.  I saw this in Kenya with my friend Daniel Juma.  There were many times sitting at his home over the last 3 years where we set aside the for and talked.  We encouraged one another.  As I thought to my relationships here in the US, I thought of my friend Jim.  I've known him since the 3rd grade; we probably became good friends sometime in the 9th grade.  I call him one of my best friends.  We don't talk terribly often and see each other even less these days.  But Jim is that guy that I know is a friend like Hushai.  Our friendship isn't based on what we can take from each other; it's a friendship that enjoys being around one another.

Yes, relationships are difficult.  They require work.  But man are they worth it!  We're relational beings.  We were created for relationship.  Healthy relationship.  And when we find a solid one, it's so important to fight for it.  Because the difficult times don't last forever - unless you want them to.

Just my random thoughts as I try to piece things together.  Sometimes I almost miss being younger when the biggest problem to face in the day was where to ride my bike to.