Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Archive for June 2008

In the summer I teach government. At the urging of a student I watched the movie Bobby. It was a such an inspiring film; hearing RFK say good things about our country. As a class we had previously watched a documentary about Watergate–and when Bobby died we got Nixon. At the end of the Bobby there is audio of his speech from April 5, 1968 (the day after Dr. King’s death). The speech was called “The Mindless Menace of Violence”. Here is the quote that struck me:

…When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered….

As I’ve gone through my mail from people who’ve read my book And You Invited Me In, I’ve found that there’s a cry coming from the heart of people who are GLBT. It’s the cry of a broken heart. I know God has heard it, but many of us straight, conservative Christians have not. There is a common theme among those letters I’ve received. Words that come from the soul of GLBT brothers and sisters who cling to their faith in God and love for their conservative family. Here’s an example:

My life is pretty hopeless, I’m gay and I’m an abomination to God…I fear I will lose my family if they ever find out, and it would be more than I could bear. I’ve tried every way to change.

This is a person in deep pain. However, many times our conservative leaders make us believe that GLBT family and friends make a choice to live this life. It is as if they wake up one day and decide they want to hurt everyone in their life. Does this note sound like a person trying to cause hurt and pain? 

Our church leaders use words like “choice” or “political agenda” or “they will molest our children” to drive us to action against “them”, and before long we become afraid of them. Isn’t that what Bobby Kennedy spoke of in his speech? Through the hardness of our conservative beliefs haven’t we disenfranchised this group of people and made it an “us against them”?

I’m very disturbed today by a news item where a well-known evangelical leader said that a certain politician should not be quoting Leviticus because he “should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.”

I’m only taking one statement from a long interview, but how can this same minister then use Leviticus to say that homosexuality is an abomination? The word “abomination” makes love more difficult. This concept of “abomination” or “love the sinner and hate the sin” is retoric for placing chains around another human and making them feel unloved, abandoned…and when the ones on earth who are in charge of giving God’s love to another fail to do it THEN people don’t see Jesus. And we lose.

We know what we lost when we got Nixon. We’ve had nothing but lack of trust in our government for 35 years. What happens when someone loses trust in God? What happens when the GLBT person keeps hearing our crazy coined phrase of “love the sinner”? Because of those ideas and phrases we lose our family or friend, and they lose hold of God.

In I John 4:18 it says “there is no fear in love.” We must live our life where people don’t fear that our love is based on conditions. It is what Jesus was all about.

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This is probably part one of a series of thoughts on the heart.

I’ve always been conservative, and keep more of a conservative leash on myself than most people would realize. On the other hand, in the last few years I’ve tried to listen to people on the outside to understand what they’re hearing from us. One thing that continues to pop up in commentaries and newscasts is that we conservative Christians are two-issue people: we’re pro-life and anti-gay. And when it shakes out, that’s about where we stand.

A decade ago the talking heads of conservative religion said that if you were pro-choice or homosexual you were the “doom of America”. Somehow that unbalanced train of thought continues today. What we don’t realized is that something happens when we make those our only issues…I’ll cover those in a minute….

First, Jesus was all about the spiritual. Pharisees and all those like them were going around making sure every mint twig was tithed and Koshered. Jesus ALWAYS spoke about a person’s heart–so we need to remember that in all we do. It was the giving heart of the widow in the “widow’s mite.” It was the heart of the Samaritan. Let’s put a new twist on the Samaritan for today.

There was a man in Hartford, Connecticut who was hit by a car and no one stopped to help. Many people passed him on the street and didn’t want to get involved. Surely there were many church people who drove or walked past. And God looked down and wondered what was wrong with their hearts that they could ignore someone in pain when all of them had so much–health, material goods, jobs, family, and so on.

I don’t know if America is going to fall or rise. If we fall, I can’t say what will be the magic bullet to kill the nation, but since Jesus clearly spoke about the condition of the heart we need to look inside an examine our ways. Because that’s probably why we’re sinking…

Therefore when we isolate a group and make them our scapegoat, then we disenfranchise this group of people. We make them non-people, and non-people become expendable. Once they’re expendable then you hear a grade school child say: well, it’s okay to kill a gay person. (And the child could not understand why I said it was wrong.)

If Jesus were to return today he wouldn’t ask any of my conservative fellows about the political issues of the day and how we changed the world by an amendment here and there. He’d ask if we treated our neighbors with honor–you know the neighbors who’ve just returned from a California wedding. He’d ask why we hadn’t been there to wipe the tears of our child we sent away because (s)he was “living in sin”. Jesus would ask how we could forget about this child’s pain because God never forgets about our pain. He never sends us away. That would be like the people passing the man in Hartford, and God isn’t like that…

Therefore, forget the outside…look at the heart, your own heart. Listen for the heart of the person you don’t understand. Listen for the cry of their heart.

Yesterday I was in church…well there aren’t many words to describe the way I felt in church. We had a guest speaker who was anything but inspiring. And as well after hearing him, I don’t think anyone would want to be a Christian. Seriously, it was all doom and gloom about the End Times. I have as much ability to stop End Times from happening as I do to stop a freight train. Therefore being scared isn’t they way to approach what is coming. It is sort of like going on a trip: you have to be prepared, and when the time comes then you will have what it take to make the journey.

When I was sharing this with my mother, and we began a discussion that even if we were smack-dab in the middle of evil we’d have to continue to show the love of Christ; then she related this story that I thought was interesting. The whole point to this is that if we knew the context of the scripture as it pertained to the culture, we would have a different take on it. And we were talking about the original Dr. Evil…

If Adolf Hitler lived next door to me, I’d have to show the love of Christ to him. I’d develop a relationship, and then wait for the Lord’s direction on specifics of what I might say or do. And then Mom said “I always had trouble with the verse from Romans.” (Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.) She stated that it was strange that you’d make a person feel bad when you’re doing something nice. However, she told me what it meant back in the day…

Fire was important to life. If your fire went out, then you had to find coals and bring them to your location to start your fire again. Therefore, these coals are life sustaining. So when you give grace (undeserved favor/love) to those who don’t deserve it, then you give them/him/her life. Instead of making them feel bad, they would have life. People want to live, and grace gives life.

Grace is a command. Grace isn’t always fun, and doesn’t always work out pretty. However, God is in control and when you’re doing His will, you can’t go wrong.