Prepared to Give an Answer

It’s been a month!? Goodness! Well, yes, it’s summer, and I’m trying to enjoy it and be productive with some goals at the same time. So here I am.

Yesterday was a very interesting experience for me. Early in the morning, I checked a Facebook notification for a friend and saw that she had posted this:

This rather encapsulates how I feel about my faith and the subject of the human sexuality spectrum. So I commented on the post: “Yep! That’s exactly it for me.” I didn’t think there would be much more to it than perhaps a comment like or two. But then another friend whom I have known for about ten or eleven years replied:

So I do have a follow-up question that is something that I’ve been dealing with lately. While there is no judgment, does that mean you still think that being gay is necessarily a “bad trait”? For example, you wouldn’t judge thieves, but you wouldn’t promote their behavior as positive and godly. Any thoughts? 

I immediately knew in my soul that this was one of those situations that the Bible talks about where Christians need to be “prepared to give an answer”. I replied that, after I dropped my little girl off at daycare, I would sit down so I could answer her question thoughtfully and properly. And I did. I thought about it all through the drive to school and during my time at the gym afterward, drafting up responses and making notes of a Scripture that came to mind. Finally, I was able to sit down and arrange my thoughts into the following response:

Okay. Here I am. Honestly…your question is something that I have struggled with thinking through sometimes. However, after thought and reflection, I cannot bring myself to a “love the sinner, hate the sin” mentality. I just can’t. I can’t tell someone that I love them or that God loves them but, in the same breath, call them wrong. I have done too much wrong in my own life to pass judgment. Do people do things that are wrong? Yes, we all do. But if I’m so busy judging or telling someone their faults or, as you put it, bad traits, there’s no room left to love them or for them to BELIEVE that I love them. I am not God. I don’t know His mind. I don’t know the minds of any other person on this planet. I am not called to judge. I am called to love. To love all of someone. Do I want to help people grow in life? Yes, I want to encourage, support, and help them in that growth, whatever that may mean for them. I will love and pray for them, no matter what. 

What immediately springs to mind (and sticks there) for me is John 8:1-11 and I’ve quoted it below.

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ” (New Living Translation)

Jesus didn’t condemn this woman; He didn’t judge her. He said, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t lay her sins, whatever they may have been, out before her. He doesn’t tell her what’s wrong with her or bad about her. No. He just told her that He didn’t condemn her, to go live her life and do what’s right. In the same way, I will not condemn someone. I will not lay what I, in my fallibility, think are their sins before them. I am called to love and I will love and love and love. I will do what I can to help those I come into contact with to live the best lives they can in the spaces they are in. I have been so deeply loved in my life, have met and known and loved so many amazing people from all walks of life, but I have also seen what damage and pain and separation condemnation and judgment can cause. Such things are not of God and I will not perpetuate such pain. The Church is called to love God and love others. This is most important and it is what I have built my life on and will continue to. 

To be sure I answer your question, no, I do not think that being gay is a “bad trait”. Some of the greatest people of faith I’ve ever known are gay, and I will thank God for them from the rooftops and point those who need love and prayer and counsel to them all the time as people of God and some of the deepest, strongest, and most loving Christians I have ever known. Thank you for asking and making me think, love. 

I am called to love and loving is what I will do.

Five Problems with Social Media

So…hi! I was going to start this in November but I got on a roll today. So, today, I am starting The Writer’s Circle’s 30-Day Writing Challenge. Each day there is a topic and I will do my best to write as honestly and boldly as I can on each. The first one is, admittedly, a bit negative but a necessary truth. To make sure it isn’t all negative, I have tried to include some positive things that I am doing to address/combat each problem as I see it. And here…we…go!

= = =

  1. It’s addictive. I admit. I have a bit of a Facebook addiction. I usually have a tab with it open on my browser all day long as I tend to post whatever I find encouraging and edifying throughout the days, as well as a few daily staples, like my workout (it’s my personal accountability to post it each day). Aside from Google Hangouts, it’s my main method of communication/knowledge with a great many friends. These are not excuses, simply acknowledgements. But, yes, it’s very addicting. I have been working hard to make sure that Facebook is not the first thing that open on my phone or computer when I wake up in the morning, trying to be intentional about spending those first few moments of the day in quiet time with God before I do anything else (aside from the caring for the toddler if she needs me).
  2. It’s subjective. Social media allows us, if we want to, to only show the best parts of ourselves and our lives. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. We can completely change the image of our lives by what we post and share on social media. We can make ourselves into supermoms, studs, A-students, etc. We live in a comparative society. We compare ourselves to others and they to us. If we are not careful with social media, we can project (as well as accept defeat at the hands of) an image of perfection that no one can live up to. We are here to support one another, not compete with one another, because everyone loses that contest.
  3. It can be quite negative. I’ve known several people who portray only the worst parts of themselves on social media – the vindictive, critical, argumentative, or bitter. I can entirely understand voicing your opinion but when that privilege comes along with tearing someone, something, an issue, or a stance to tiny little shreds and then dancing over those shreds with malicious glee…no. Such a thing is cowardly and unkind. I have had to check myself on several occasions when I have started to allow my dislike of something to tiptoe from a difference of opinion into unkind nastiness. True, I tend to pull myself back fast but the dirty feeling doesn’t leave quite as quickly. We need to make sure that we are not allowing ourselves to spread or be infected by the massive levels of negativity that can pervade social media. If that means unfollowing, unfriending, or not posting altogether, then that’s a conversation you need to have with yourself.
  4. We can fall into the approval trap. We need to be careful that we are not basing our self-esteem on the approval of social media. Our pictures, our stories, our opinions. I never want the basis of my personal self to be built on how many comments I received on that selfie or how many people liked my blog post, even. We cannot build ourselves around the shell of social media.
  5. It can distance us rather than connect us. There are articles and videos and PSAs aplenty about social disconnect and how being connected on social media can actually leave us physically and emotionally disconnected with those in our personal sphere. I don’t want that to happen. I am working harder on putting my phone down or computer aside when my daughter runs up excitedly and wants to tell me something, or cuddle with me and read a book or watch a movie. I trying to be intentional in conversations with my husband: turn off the ringer/put the phone down, set the laptop aside, turn the TV down or off, full eye contact, and actually listen to what is being said to me because, whatever it is, it is important to him, important enough for me to give him my full and loving attention, even if all he wants me to do is listen as he orders his mind through conversation. I never want to be so media connected that I am socially no good.