Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Letter

My mother died before my daughter came out. My biggest fear is that she wouldn't have supported me in wanting to fight for LGBT rights; though I'll never believe she would have rejected Amber. I would, of course, have wanted her to be proud of me for speaking up...but I'm afraid she would have been silently disapproving, just like most of my family. When someone in my support group (for moms with gay kids) showed us a cruel letter her mother had written her, it hit me hard. Though I don't believe my own mother would have written such a letter, I needed to respond...not to her memory, or even to this other mother I don't know...but to everyone who judges me, and the beautiful LGBT community that I now love. Here it is:

I know that your advice to me to read my Bible is coming from a place of deep concern. You are worried that I am allowing my child to be deceived by the world, by Satan, by the influences of a corrupt society, and that if I don't stop her we will both be lost forever. My heart aches, because I hate that you live with that fear. I don't want you to think I have no respect for the Bible, or that I'm willing to turn my back on God so that I don't have to worry about offending people. I wish so badly that you could see that it's actually quite the opposite. 

People have approached scriptures differently ever since there have been scriptures to approach. Some see the Bible only as a "manual" or a book of rules; others see it merely as history, and others see it as the key to eternal life. Jesus said to the religious authority of his day that "You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:39-40) 

You believe I'm not taking the warnings in the Bible seriously, but you couldn't be more wrong. Though, what I see is not warnings about rule following, but warnings about being so sure that you have God and scriptures and rule following so figured out that you miss out on what it means to truly live. The scriptures speak to me in a way that lets me know I can concern myself so much with appeasing what I think is an angry God, trying to do everything right, that I will miss out on opening myself up to love and grace - the very nature of God.

As much respect as I have for the Bible, I have to appreciate that it was written in different times in history, with different cultures and scientific understandings and worldviews.When our country was at war regarding slavery, the biggest defenders AGAINST freeing slaves were Christians. Paul speaks to slaves in his Ephesians letter, addressing them to obey their masters. Either you will take that scripture and shout "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it" - or you are going to appreciate that Paul is only addressing what is normal in society at that time, not making a rule. His overall message is never about rules; but in fact, being set free from the idea that rules are what saves us. 

I understand the Bible speaks of men and women in marriage. Of course it does. Sexual orientation was not anything that was on anyone's radar in those times. Yes, men and women coming together is God's "plan" to make babies, making it what is normal. I'm not arguing any of this. But God does not despise what is not normal. Do you think he hates the hermaphrodite?* What "choice" do they have with having the "right" kind of sexual orientation? Are they supposed to never love another, simply because WE are upset with the fact they can't be placed into a category? When I read the Bible, I see that God is FOR the outcast; the one society sees as disgusting or unclean. "God chose the lowly things of this world and despised things, and things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." (1 Corn.1:28) 

During Paul's day, the biggest threat to religious order was the rouge Jews claiming that circumcision didn't matter any more, (a VERY clear instruction found in scripture) along with the claim that a man named Jesus was fully God and had fully reveled the nature of God...and that his nature was not angry, disgusted, or wanting to destroy humanity; but instead so in love and connected to humanity that he is willing to suffer and forgive and continue to seek and save and redeem the hurting and lost until he brings all his lost sheep home. But the religious "experts and scholars" of that time could not accept such a "soft" view of an almighty God. 

I may not be able to convince you to see the LGBT community as I do: a gift from God - helping to bring us further into a freedom from seeing our physical bodies as what defines us; and showing us that now we are no longer identified as male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free...but one in Christ. But I do hope I can convince you to stop worrying. The truth is, I have found the BEST followers of Christ in this community, exactly because of the reason mentioned above in Corinthians...the lowly and despised are humble and don't see themselves as better than others.

Regarding again the religious authority in Paul's day who didn't get what he and the new Christ following Jews were all about, I would like to bring up one wise leader who gave this advice on how to handle them: "Leave these men alone. For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourself fighting against God." (Acts 5:38-39) Even if I cannot convince you that I have not been deceived by Satan, I hope you can trust God and "leave me alone" to pursue the direction I believe the Spirit is leading me. Please trust I am not going forward without much seeking and prayer. Let's both determine to love and respect each other's journey and leave the judging to God; knowing he loves us both, and his judgments are good.  

* "intersex" is actually now the preferred term. Maybe you roll your eyes and accuse me of being politically correct; but I want to be sensitive to words. If someone says they are uncomfortable with a certain term, and I refuse to listen, I don't think that I am doing unto others as I would want done unto me. I kept "hermaphrodite" only because most people are more familiar with it. For anyone unfamiliar, the definition is: An intersex person is born with sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of male or female. This may be apparent at birth or become so later in life.