Tag Archives: Culture

Video Tuesday: Relevant Magazine A Conversation With Alan Chambers

This is just one video from a 5 part video conversation with Alan Chambers hosted by Eddie Kaufholz from Relevant Magazine. It’s so great, in the interviews Alan talks about his Upbringing, Exodus, Sexuality In Our Culture , God’s Intent for Sexuality ( my fav!!!)  and The Apology he made in June.

  • To read the article go here.
  • To watch all 5 videos visit the Relevant Magazine Youtube channel here. (scroll down to recent uploads for the list of all five videos or just click the play all button on the video above )

You can also read more about what is going on with Alan in a fantastic article just put out by Buzz Feed titled The Man Behind The Historic Implosion Of The Ex-Gay Movement .

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Food For Thought: Part 3 (God Loves Me)

part3As promised, I’ll be finishing up my thoughts on Brent Bailey’s post The Crisis of Relationship with God. You can read parts 1 & 2 here and here.

I want to mention again that while I’m not trying to devalue how these issues specifically effect members of the gay community, I’m also really passionate about seeing the “us vs. them” mentality take a hike. The way to do this is find ways to relate as people without a subtitle.  I am thankful that Brent took the time to explain challenges he faced in his relationship with God and the church and for the insight it provides into what others may be going through.  I’m also thankful for the realization that what he describes is not so different from some of my own experience, even though I am female and straight.

In the second half of his post Brent moves into what I think is a really great description of two essential elements of being in relationship with God.

 Two thousand years of Christian history have taught us developing a relationship with God requires two basic components that seem to be non-negotiable. The first is spending time with God through spiritual disciplines like solitude, silence, and scripture. The second is interacting with a consistent group of other Christians through participation in a local church, an intentional faith community, a religious order, or some other body of faith. Neither of these works without the other, but in my experience, both of these can be problematic for gay people.

Brent’s suggestion for why gay people may have a difficult time with these two components has to do with a persons understanding of how they are loved by God. Brent says,

You know as well as I do that affirming, “God loves everyone” is entirely different from affirming, “God loves me,” and the reason I equivocated was that my intellectual assent to the reality of God’s unconditional love did not translate into any sort of emotional, gut-level confidence that God loved me. You’ll notice I’m not saying anything about approval or sanction of certain behaviors. Before I even had the chance to get to those questions, I struggled mightily to believe God loved me: that God was for me rather than against me, that God was interested in me and actually cared about me, and that God desired a relationship with me as an individual.

This really resonated with me because I can understand the struggle to internalize and personalize God’s love.  I’ve spent my whole life in church and my relationship with God started when I was five, but it wasn’t until the last several years that I began to understand how God sees me.  I believe that coming to this understanding is a journey every Christian makes, and I have great empathy for gay Christians because most of us don’t have to deal with picket signs declaring how God hates us on top of everything else that might be telling us we are unlovable, but even still… being loved by the Creator of the Universe is not something that comes to anyone without struggle and doubt and questions. This should unite us. This should give us reason to relate to one another.

The  difficulties in the second component, participating in a faith community, are not unexpected. Brent points out the possibility of pain associated with the church and the difficulty of being in the minority. These things are understandable and true.  I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here, but again, I feel like a lot of the solution relies on our ability to see what we all have in common. I have known many people who’ve suffered hurt from the church for a variety for reasons that mostly have nothing to do with sexuality. I know others who find themselves at odds with the church body because they don’t see where they fit because their circumstances throw them into a very small category.

These are things that happen in the church to people. None of them are things that are specific to one group, so I have to believe that part of the solution is recognizing what we have in common and letting it unite in our desire to know God instead of looking for how we are the exception to the rule, or believing that we are a special case and that no one can understand us.

At the end of the day, for any of this to get better, we have to drop the labels– the ones we have for ourselves and the ones we have for others.  Has anyone else noticed that our labels come ahead of our distinction as Follower of Christ? Gay Christian, Straight Christian, Single Christian, Married Christian, Liberal Christian, Conservative Christian… I could go on.

Perhaps these assignments speak a lot of truth about what it is we are really following, and perhaps that’s something we should put some serious thought into. Jesus is the one thing we all have in common, why not define ourselves through Him and stop there?

Young People Walking in Meadow

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Food For Thought: Part 2

part2In yesterday’s post I used some quotes from this post by Brent Bailey.  I’ve decided that my thoughts and comments on this one blog post are probably going to be spread out over three posts of my own. I just can’t seem to cram it all into one or even two.

Today I am just going to write about a concept I started thinking more about after reading it and I’m going to start by telling you the story of one of the single most horrifying moments of my adult life. I bet you’re ready to read now, aren’t you? =)

In March of 2010 I moved to Dallas for work in the cosmetic industry. I was offered a promotion with the company I was with, and at the time it seemed like I was going to have a very strong future with this company, so I took it even though I had no family or friends in that area, and I had never lived that far from my friends and family in my life.

I had known that it would be a challenge, that there would be loneliness, and in His mercy God eventually brought me the best friend I could ask for (and Sarah if you’re reading this, I still believe that getting to know and hang out with you and Mark made Dallas totally worth it), but I was not prepared for just how lonely lonely could be.

I am a born and raised Central Texan and I like to be outside in the sun. I wasn’t expecting the extreme weather differences I’d experience in North Texas. In that first winter there I dealt with having to drive to work in three feet of snow, the most snow I’d seen on the ground in my life. I learned I don’t care for snow, or being cold. At all. Between the weather and the loneliness I was facing some pretty serious depression.  I knew I needed to try to find a church to get involved in, so I emailed a man I’d met through work who had become a youth pastor for the Fort Worth campus of a certain mega church in the DFW area and he put me in touch with a female friend of his who was a member of the campus closest to where I lived.

After a nice chat on the phone, I agreed to meet the woman in the church book store Sunday morning and sit with her group for service. I was so relieved to be getting some interaction with people outside of work, I gathered all my courage and braved icy roads and a 45 minute drive to get to the church on time.  The other woman and I met, her friends were kind and welcoming, and the service was pretty much what I expected at a church like that, which I don’t say to sound negative. It was just a typical Sunday in a BIG BIG church. After the service was over I was prepared to head home and have lunch, but the group encouraged me to come with them to a “class” they all attended after the service. Things had gone well, so I thought, “Why not!” This is where it all started to go downhill.

We went upstairs to what looked like a youth room… except for adults. As we were walking in the door the group I had been with dispersed and I was on my own. There was a guy greeting people, handing out name tags and assigning them a table. At that point I wasn’t overly worried, I’d seen similar things before. I assumed there would be small group discussion and table assignments were a good way to mix the group every week.

I headed to my assigned table where there was exactly one person seated. Something about her body language suggested that she wasn’t at all comfortable with the whole set up and that she was probably new as well. I decided to sit next to her, perhaps it would make us both feel better to be next to someone in a similar situation.  I’d barely gotten seated when she leaned over to talk to me and the conversation went something like this:

Worried Girl: You’ve never been here before have you?

Me: No, this is my first visit.  Have you been in this class before?

Worried Girl: Just once. Last week was my first time… Do you know what you’ve gotten yourself into? Did they tell you what kind of class this was?

Me: *starting to feel nervous* No? I was told it was just a young adult class, I assumed it was something like a Sunday school class.

Worried Girl: *glancing carefully around the room and leaning closer to whisper* It’s not a young adults class… it’s a single young adults class. This is a class to teach you how to date. I didn’t know when they convinced me to come.

Me: *panic beginning to rise*  What!?!

Worried Girl: That’s right, a dating class! And just wait… in a minute this table will be full, there will be a talk about how to be more successful at dating and then the leader of this table will ask you really uncomfortable questions. Get ready.

Me: Is this just a series they are on right now? Will it be over in a couple of weeks?

Worried Girl: Nope. I asked. All of the people here are looking for spouses, so they have the class and mix the group and hope that they eventually find a match.  I don’t know why I came back, except I’m curious to see if it works.

Me: *panic rendering me speechless*

singleAt that point my worried friend took the opportunity of filling my horrified silence with talk about her cats, all six of them, and I started wondering if I was really awake or if this was all a nightmare. Sadly, she wasn’t exaggerating, it was absolutely a dating class and the horribly  awkward question I was asked during our small group discussion was if I would share how I learned about “the birds and the bees” in front of my whole table.  I passed on the question, much to the tables disappointment, and then passed on ever going back to that church again.

After I read Brent’s post, specifically the parts about knowing God’s intent for our lives and sexuality within the church, I got to thinking about this experience and it really sunk in how uncomfortable most churches are with singleness and the pressure and frustration that can cause for people.

Much harder to bear than my own feelings about singleness are how some of the people around me feel. The idea that one could be single and celibate for life is viewed by many as a last resort rather than a reasonable option. After some conversation about that very idea, I have to wonder if maybe that also plays a part in the observation I quoted yesterday about gay Christians in more traditional churches and their sense of belonging. Both Catholic and Orthodox churches have traditions of celibacy, which is something that Protestant churches have stepped far, far away from, but I think those traditions help keep singleness from becoming its own sort of taboo within the church and allows for less pressure on individual people.

I suppose, having most of my church experience come from Southern Baptist and Non-Denomination churches, I find liturgical churches fascinating. In my experience, especially in the last 10 years or so, there’s a lot of “what you see is what you get” mentality in mainstream church culture in an attempt to be very “authentic” and “real”.  Churches seem to want to be approachable and informal in a way that makes people feel welcome and accommodated, I just wonder if in that process we’ve lost touch with meaning, and more I’m starting to question whether this style of church is even coming close to accomplishing the end goal that’s supposed to be justifying the means.

Maybe, just maybe, some of the answers we’re looking for aren’t in something new, but in something ancient.

Look for Part 3 on Monday!

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Gay Parents or No Parents. What’s Better?

holding-hands-380x252Like being a hair stylist or a bar tender, when you work in retail cosmetics people tell you their stories. It’s amazing to me sometimes how compelled people seem to be to talk when I have them in my chair. I’ve had people weep, spill their deepest secrets, and talk all kinds of crap about their next door neighbor. You get used to it after a while.

Last week I had an interesting one. I say interesting for several reasons… I was working with a woman who I guessed to be nearing 60. She was a kind, soft-spoken woman who struck me as being a little overwhelmed in her surroundings. It was no surprise to me at all when a conversation about her skincare turned into a conversation about her daughter who was going through a divorce. She felt her daughter was making a bad decision and was concerned for both her child and her soon to be ex-son in-law, whom you could tell she loved very much.

After that she went on to lament how the world was changing. She took a long glance around the store I work in and then quietly asked if I work with many gay men. It’s important to understand that I live and work in a small town. This small town is pretty liberal in its views– to an extent. But at the end of the day it’s still a small town and the majority of the people here are senior citizens. I replied that yes, having been with the company for nearly six years I had worked with quite a few gay men. She commented on how places like my store and salons always had lots of gay employees, and then with a look of plain confusion admitted that the gay men who’ve cut her hair had always done the best job. I was doing my best not to chuckle and agreed that I’ve had many male co-workers who are amazing artists.

I could see in her face that she had more to say and just about the time I thought she’d decided against it she stepped closer to me and her thoughts just started pouring out. She told me that she is a social worker and deals with the placement of foster children. A lot of her job has to do with monitoring how a child is doing in their foster home and sometimes seeing to the details of adoption when the fostering goes really well. She was particularly concerned over a set of parents she would be meeting in a couple of days, gay men, who were fostering a little girl who had been removed from a heartbreaking abusive home. It was clear without her having to say the actual words that her moral compass dictated that she believe there was no way that this gay couple could be good parents for the little girl, the trouble was that all reports were to the contrary. Everyone she spoke to who had visited the couple couldn’t say enough about how much these men love that little girl and how well she was doing in their care. There was nothing but praise for their parenting.

As she spoke I could see the battle going on in her mind. Her face showed how she was weighing her genuine desire to see children safe and happy against her understanding of truth.  Right and wrong as she understood them were colliding in a way she didn’t know what to do with and were causing her to pour her heart out to a sales girl in a makeup store.

As I listened and wrestled with my own questions I felt compassion for this woman and grateful that she was wrestling too and not just making hard and fast decisions. Once she’d finished talking I asked  for myself as much as for her, “You said the little girl came out of an abusive home, can we trust God enough to believe that it’s better for her to be loved by two gay men than to be abused by a straight couple?”

In the moment I had forgotten where we were, that she was a client– we were just two people having a conversation about very real things in our world. As soon as the question was out of my mouth, however, I remembered and I was a little nervous that this was a little more than she’d bargained for out of her trip to buy cosmetics. Fortunately her response was one of gratitude, relief even. Maybe she just needed someone else to ask the question, I don’t know, but we both walked away liking one another better and with something to think about.

I’ve been thinking about it for a week now, actually I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.

It’s interesting to me that the conversation happened at all. If she’d have gotten pretty much anyone else in the store to help her and had that conversation the chances high that she would have offended them. So I just wonder why, knowing nothing about me personally, she felt safe to talk? I can only assume that it was God.

I haven’t been able to get that little girl off of my mind and a couple of nights ago as I was thinking about her and the whole situation God brought a new question to my mind.

“I can use all things for good. Can you consider that maybe I am using the love of two fathers to teach my child who I am?” 

I can’t imagine being a little girl in a world where the mother and father you are born with aren’t the anchors of love and safety they are meant to be, but instead are the cause of pain, fear, and abandonment. It is humbling and powerful for me to realize that maybe for the hurt she has suffered, the love and protection of two fathers is exactly what she needs.

I believe in a God who can use all things for good. Because He is God.

This understanding doesn’t change my ethics when it comes to sexuality, but it does change my heart for the way that we, as followers of Christ, view the bigger picture and how we relate to other people. Whether or not that gay couple adopts that little girl, they have made an impression on her life for love. What will it say to her about God as she grows if His followers are dead set on condemning the people who showed her kindness and protection when she needed it most? The answer to that question bothers me.

This is a challenging place to be in, it’s a challenging way to force myself to think, and yet, I have to. I have to believe that we can do better than we’re doing.  I’m not suggesting that we give in, or that truth doesn’t matter.

We need to be careful to focus on individual people, not categories and labels. There is no universal solution to a problem based on categories or labels, only individual solutions to individual problems based on individual people. It is a lot harder and messier, but it is the only way to be loving. In the thick of things it’s easy to lose sight of the actual lives involved. I see it happen all the time– a lot of Christians seem to want to think that because only families made from married heterosexual couples are “real” families and so all of the pseudo “families” out there can’t possibly have real bonds to one another and we become disconnected to their real human feelings, we don’t empathize with the fact that from where they’re sitting it sounds like we’re determined to tear their families apart. When we make a habit of categorizing people and giving them labels instead of relating and engaging with the people, we dehumanize them and justify treating them as though they have no feelings.

We also need to consider that if we’re going to be opposed to a solution, such as gay couples adopting and fostering when there are SO many children who need safe homes, then we have to have an alternative solution that we personally help make happen. We have no right to kick and scream when gay couples foster and adopt when we aren’t doing anything ourselves to solve the problem of parentless children. Remember, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me.”  The problem it’s easier to fight other people’s solutions than to find them ourselves, and I think in doing that we’re missing the entire point.

Through it all we can’t lose sight of truth, which means actually and actively seeking it. It’s hard work, it means not only investing in our relationship with God, but being invested in relationships with others and it will cost us everything we have, but it’s worth it. The problem with our culture is that people want everything to be not only black and white, but black and white all the way down the column–  If you think same-sex attraction is a sin then you’re anti-gay marriage, anti-gay fostering and you don’t want any gay people (even chaste ones) in your church. Likewise, if you think it is ok for gays to adopt then you can’t possibly believe what the bible says about sexuality and that you must completely condone homosexuality. The thing is nothing, not people, not issues fits into these black and white standards and we miss what God is actually doing when we try to force them.

What it all comes down to is that we can’t allow a desire to affirm the good in a bad situation turn into a willingness to let what is merely good not be better. We have to let what we believe speak through our actions, we have to know what we are for and then give our lives for that, rather than sitting back and raising hell about how other people have sought to meet needs in the world around us. This is where we find the balance in truth and love, when we take responsibility instead of casting blame, when we choose to find reasons to relate instead of reasons to draw a line in the sand and choose sides.

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Ready Or Not, Here We Come!

Well friends, tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we will begin our journey to Irvine Ca. for the Exodus freedom conference. We know it is going to be an amazing conference this year and we can’t wait for it to get started. Stay tuned for updates.

A few things before we go though :)

  • Have you checked out the live streaming options for this years conference? You can watch the beginning of the conference and the speech from Alan Chambers for FREE!! click the link (exodusfreedom.org/streaming/ ) for all the info and be sure to check out the opening night, you don’t wanna miss it!
  • Thursday June 20th be sure to check out Our America with Lisa Ling on the OWN network 10/9c. She is doing a special report titled God & Gays. On the show Alan and Leslie  Chambers sit down with a group of people who have been harmed by reparative therapy and listen as they share their stories , We think this is very important work and stand with Alan and Leslie and all of Exodus in their desire to take responsibility and seek reconciliation .

We hope that you will join us in praying for the conference, the attendees ,the speakers and the people tuning in via live stream! Watch the clip below for a sneak peek of God & Gays

 

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Jesus Stalkers

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

And with that, Jesus speaks what I consider to be one of the most frightening verses in the Bible.  I mean, really, how can these guys get so many things right, and yet Jesus says He never knew them?

We are terrifically modern people.  As average people, we are able to know more than at any other time in history.  We have a world of knowledge available to us.  We are able to endlessly study the Bible, read countless commentaries, even learn the original languages…

…and yet, despite all of the wonderful things we know, I wonder if any of us will be the ones saying “Lord, Lord.”  continue reading

 

 

Matt Appling is an Author, Art Teacher, Pastor and blogger ( and I’m sure many other wonderful things as well) , he started The Church of No People blog in 2008.

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Video Tuesday: The Huffington Post on Mixed Orientation Marriages

Well I couldn’t get the video to show up in the post so you will have to click this link to watch this fascinating discussion on Mixed Orientation Marriages.

On the panel they have

Juliet Jeske – Check out her blog post One ‘Straight Spouse’ for Marriage Equality on the Huffington Post site.

Ty Mansfield – He is sharing his story of Living With Same Sex Attractions with the world in this wonderful blog post by he and his wife

Carren Strock – She is the author of the book Married Women Who Love Women

Amity Buxton- She is the author and founder of Straight Spouse Network

I wish they had been able to talk more about the family and kids of those in MOMs but I still think it’s worth listening to and I would love to hear feedback. I think as the days go by we will see more and more discussion on this topic and I think it is important for families like ours to speak out and share our stories good or bad.

This is a video of our dad talking about being married to our mom.

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Thoughts on Life: Don’t They Know It’s The End Of The World?

Thinking_44121810I’ve been thinking about some big things. Now, I will be the first to tell you that

  1. I might be way over my head in these ponderings, and

  2. I might also be completely wrong ( or at least a little off base :)

But let me go on and you can add your thoughts and ideas and arguments in the comments, I would love that.

In our current social/political climate I think it’s understandable that I would be asking a lot of questions about the fate of our world, from gun laws and mass shootings to same sex marriage and divorce, I think it’s fair to say the moral compass of our land is in question but my big thoughts are more concerned with  the roles of the church and followers of Christ in this present situation.Are we really doing what , based on the Bible, our beliefs command us to do?As a very wise friend of mine said, in a fabulous blog post you should totally read

“ In the Great Commission it says to make disciples of all nations … not disciple the nation.”

If, as the Bible teaches us , we believe that this world will part ways with the way God intended it to be to the point that Jesus returns, what then is our role in this predictable sinking ship, if you will ?

As Galadriel says in The Lord of the Rings ” The time of the elves is over.Do we leave Middle-Earth to this fate? Do we let them stand alone?”

If we look at Jesus in the Gospels we do not see a man concerned with the political arena, a man desperate to change the morals of the people by way of the laws of the land. We see our Saviour in the communities he finds himself, reaching out for connections with the people. We see Him meeting their needs, reaching into their lives through relationship, compassion, kindness.

Right now is a trying and yet wonderful time to be a part of the Body of Christ, Grace is being taught and lived in our churches in a more honest way than it has been in a long time, but at the same time our influence in the world is  decreasing.Truthfully I would have to say that we are in the middle of two extremes, on one side we are overly concerned with “ discipling  the nation” and on the other we are courting the worlds affection and second guessing every sermon to make sure we aren’t offending anyone. I know this is not an easy road to navigate,it’s right for us to proclaim the Gospel and to be fearless in our desire for holiness, and  it’s right for us to challenge ourselves against scripture and check our selves to make sure we are being loving and speaking truth in that love , at the same time Jesus made it very clear that the world would hate us the way they hated Him.  (John 15:18) Can we handle that?

In an open letter to the American Church, author Brennan Manning wrote at length about the state of our church today , the whole letter is worth reading but I will only quote a bit of it here, You can read the rest in his book The Signature of Jesus.

“If the apostle (Paul) were to return to the earth today, I believe he would call the entire American church to return to the discipline of the secret. This ancient practice of the apostolic church was implemented to protect the sacred name of Jesus Christ from mockery and the mysteries of the Christian faith from profanation. The ancient church avoided mention of baptism, Eucharist, and the death and resurrection of Christ in the presence of the unbaptized. Why?  Because the most persuasive witness was the way one lived, not the words one spoke. Soren Kierkegaard once described two types of Christians: The first group comprises those who imitate Jesus Christ; the second are those who are content to speak about him. “ (emphasis mine)

If we are supposed to leave people with no question of our faith and if the best way to demonstrate and share our faith is through showing real tangible love in the ways that Jesus demonstrated then aren’t we called to be set apart by our unfathomable love for others and extreme acts of grace and mercy ?To truly set ourselves apart by our actions in this world? Perhaps living our faith out loud is not about standing on a street corner yelling about the sins of the world but being a people that act so differently that the world is forced to ask “ what is the hope that is in you?”

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Fantastic Article: Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University

This post is so good, it’s long but read the whole thing. Man if we could all show love this way and have this kind of impact on our fellow humans the world would be such a different place.

It was the fifth time that night that my Theology and Biblical Greek professor was calling. And, like the previous times, no way was I answering the phone. I knew why he was calling. Earlier that day, I emailed all of my professors to tell them I’d made the difficult decision to withdraw from school. As my cell phone went to voice mail, I crawled into bed under my covers, dreading the next morning when the rest of my professors would get my email, when the university would call my parents, when my roommates would ask me why I wasn’t waking up for class. “Why did I come here?” I asked myself. “Out of all the colleges in the world, why did I pick this one?”….

Read the rest of the article here!

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