Life Changers 10/31/14

October 31, 2014

In this week’s Life Changers, I want to highlight the report from Religion News Service on three Christian Conferences and their various approaches to GLBT issues.

The first of these three conferences is already over. Some pretty major developments from it, in my opinion, where Albert Mohler says he was wrong in saying same-sex attraction can be changed, and Russell Moore condemns anti-gay bullying and frames this issue as a justice, human-dignity issue.

Whenever people ask me what I think about gay marriage, I usually reply that I am Pro-People. I like to think it’s a clever way to avoid being litmus tested on a contentious issue. If you believe there is only one way to land on this issue as a Christian, then let’s very politely agree to disagree. I don’t believe in Single Stories, and I think minority voices can be Christian too.

When it comes to gay marriage, I don’t get to talk about it, and I don’t get to NOT talk about it. Like I said, I am Pro-People, and GLBT persons are people, not “issues” or “positions”. My pet peeve is when Christians act like gay people are outside of the Church waiting to be welcomed in. Newsflash: they are already IN our churches. They are your neighbors, Bible Study leaders, that rambunctious teen. As Nate Pyle says, it’s a privilege to NOT talk about it when our GLBT friends don’t get to walk away from this conversation. With alarming rates of suicide among GLBT members, this issue is literally life or death. We must talk.

At the same time, we must take care the location from which we talk. I must speak as an outsider because I am straight and I don’t live the experience of GLBT life. I need to be evangelized instead of evangelizing, I must listen more than I speak. I want to hear their stories, particularly those of Christian GLBT brothers and sisters. The same Holy Spirit that dwells in me is speaking in their lives, we need to carefully discern the Spirits’ guidance through their candid testimonies. In that vein, I’d like to include in this week’s Life Changers, the video Nadia Bolz Weber made in order to do just that: listen to GLBT brothers and sisters.

Also from Nadia Bolz Weber, a beautiful Sermon on Suicide, Caesar, and Beautiful Newborns.

Because, if someone you love suffers from mental illness and addiction and maybe could not see God’s image in themself, if the voices of self-hate and depression and despair drown out the sound of God’s promises and they take their own life, then that is devastating and unspeakably excruciating enough. So if you then have to navigate some kind of complete bullshit about their soul going to hell because the church, the institution that was supposed to assure you of God’s love and relationship to you instead filled your head with nonsense like how victims of suicide go to hell, then I am so sorry. They aren’t in hell. They were in Hell. And I am not going to insult any of you by offering an explanation or platitude about any of it. But there is one thing I am sure of: the imago dei – the image of God that God has placed in every human soul, can not be diminished or damaged – even by the church.

I resonate with this stunning piece, Bring Yourself, by Austin Channing, as I also feel torn by living Partial Stories.

I want more than dissection- of myself and of those around me. I want wholeness.

Love this short piece: Do you have a structural relationship with God?

“Let me ask you: do you have a structural relationship with God? Have you accepted Jesus Christ into your neighborhood as your stranger, as the one who is hungry, sick, and imprisoned?1 If not, it’s never too late because God has a wonderful plan for this world.2 Many people today have a personal relationship or spirituality with God but lack religion.3 Faith ends up being an emotional concert or theoretical equation that does little to change the concrete circumstances of the orphans and widows who are distressed around us. Seeking personal prosperity or productivity/stress-relief via some form of mediation, many personal-relationships-with-God fall neatly into the patterns of our world’s consumption. In America, communities are segregated by race, finances separated by those in debt and those who profit from debt, but personal Jesuses are evenly distributed and mostly keep everything in place.

This is a story about Mental Illness – Elizabeth Esther tells it brave and true.

Instead, I looked at my doctor through puffy eyes and said: “I went off my medication because I thought I was all better. I thought I didn’t need them anymore. I thought I was cured.”

And that’s when he told me I probably should be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life.

This is a great story about a Dad who freaked out in the Grocery Store, standing up against bad theology, for good people. If you can’t say it about Jesus, don’t say it about God. 

And that’s when I lost it:
     Misunderstanding? I’ll say. You’re telling these poor idiots that God doesn’t want them helping someone else? 
That God wants them to deliberately ignore someone else? 
That God wants them to treat someone like they’re not even a person? 
   You’re telling them that God hates sinners? 
And you call yourself a Christian? 
You’ve completely lost the plot. 
If you really believed in Jesus Christ none of those words would ever come out of your mouth.‘ 
     And that’s when I realized I’d been poking him in the chest with my Japanese eggplant.

Beautiful Words That Matter, from Alia Joy

I’m learning that truth spoken needs to be heard first. It needs to be ingested like manna, like a mystery, like provision for our very starved dependence. We need to taste and know that God is good to be able to speak the truth the world needs. Any other truth is a travesty.

My very most favorite Life Changer of this week: The Secret Gardens of Syria’s Refugees. I am in awe of the beauty and redemption in this story.


What changed your life this week? Please share your links in the comment section!