The Baptists, Sin, and Me

June 1, 2018

There are two camps, the saved and the unsaved.  If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior then you are saved, if you haven’t, then you are unsaved.  It is very simple.

Baptists historically have never had much of a unified theology.  The denomination was very decentralized.  Each individual church determined their beliefs, but there was a general theology of Salavation.  Jesus Christ is the son of God, you can have life everlasting, and so on.

The believers were mostly influenced by their piers and oftentimes by the minister of their particular church.  If you disagreed with the minister, though, you would either try to get rid of him (no women allowed) or you would change churches if possible.

Then along came the “culture wars”.  Politics and the fight against societal norms became the new unifying theology.  “God, guns, and gays” is the phrase often used.  For, for, agin (sic).

The problem when a Baptist is confronted with a gay person, is that there is no challenge to the underlying belief that this gay person is wrong.  (Or insert the abhorrent word of the day).

Going to heaven is the prize.  If I get involved with questioning whether a gay person is going to hell or not, then I will take my eye off of the prize.  I will have to be afraid that God, or preacher, or the church members will not approve and I will end up on the outside.

This is no small fear for a person whose whole life depends on the structure and organization of the church.  Their life is the church.

Most liberals, I would venture to guess, do not really understand this.  People don’t understand that this is the life of a Baptist.

Now there are flavors of Baptist, but I am just talking about the most conservative among the Southern Baptists.

There is even fear for “consorting” with gays.  People who have gay children and who are in the church have to be secretive.  If the parents of gay children are discovered by the church, then oftentimes, ostracization follows.  Their own belief system forces parents to choose between the church, salvation and everlasting life, and their gay child. If a parent chooses their child then they face having to restructure their entire lives, usually a life to which they were born.  This restructuring is a monumental task.  There is often isolation from people who think differently than you, so the task of restructuring is near impossible.  There is really no support system for this.

As human people, we need some type of support system in order to make major life changes.  It cannot be done in isolation.  It just won’t work.

Imagine the pain of Baptist parents who have a gay child.  They cannot leave their church and their beliefs, but the child often cannot be in relationship to parents who cling to beliefs that say the child is wrong at their very core.  There often is not separation between the child being wrong and their behavior being wrong.  Focusing on behavior does not help either because what, exactly, is the behavior?  The only behavior that makes a gay person different than a heterosexual person is the person they love.  We are looking for same sex boyfriends/girlfriends, and spouses.  I don’t have a problem with you judging any other behavior, but you can’t judge who I am.  You may think I drink too much, have too much sex, or can’t stay very long in a job.  Those are your opinions and how you see me.  That is fine, but you cannot make it wrong that I love who I love.  The person receiving my affection is the choice, not the fact of my existence as a gay person.

I don’t have the answer.  Understanding seems to be key.  But, I think it is important to look at beliefs and maybe begin to challenge those beliefs that separate parents and children.  There are brave and courageous parents who have done just that.  You can follow Christ and love your gay children.  You really can.  You just need the support to do so.

In the end, maybe you just need someone to tell you that you are not going to hell for doing so.

 

 

 

 

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Carving out the time

April 28, 2017

Maybe an interesting title, maybe not.  Carving out the time to see yourself.  Carving out the time to know your place in the world.  Carving out the time to be with your God as you understand a god.  Walking in nature even if within the crowded city.  Sleeping in.  Taking a nap.  Walking for more than an hour, really anywhere.

What do you do to carve out the time?  It is vital and we always need reminders.

Happy Carving !!

So here’s the deal

December 28, 2016

It is going to be tough to decide how to respond to the US government in the coming months.  Do we wait and see or do we act out of fear and prepare for the worst?  I believe that a time is coming where people who are aware and wanting to do the right thing will be severely challenged with balancing the letting go with right action.

I really don’t feel I can sit idly by and watch terrible things happen.  But at the same time, I don’t really always know what I can do to change things.

I watched one of the protests in the days after the election.  It was a demonstration of white supremacists.  The two sides basically just had a stand off in the street where they were yelling at each other.  I wonder what was the final tally of the cost of the police protection?

And then on one of the nights I watched as the police in riot gear unloaded on the street in front of my building.  I felt a tremendous anger with authority at that moment.  The demonstration that particular night did not seem any different than on the previous night.

It has all been a learning experience for me.  I have witnessed people who are very serious about these demonstrations and are perhaps the type of people who would resort to violence in just a few seconds’ time.  Those people exist on both sides of the issues.

So what is the appropriate response from a purely spiritual perspective?  A nonviolent approach would most certainly be called for and perhaps there is some room for a wait and see approach.  I do think those who choose the wait and see approach need to be careful that it is not in reality just the path of denial.

Things can change very quickly in this type of environment and we do need to be prepared.

Perhaps the path is one of wait and see and vigilance.  Pay attention, pray your prayers, ramp up your practice just a bit.  We can make it.  Love has to be on our side.  Justice has to be on our side.  The Truth has to win out.

Peace

140 Characters or Less

November 20, 2016

Is it the safety pin challenge?  I am referring to the practice of wearing a safety pin to show support to people of minority groups.  Groups that might be living in more fear because of the recent US election.  There was a Twitter response from a person of color that contained what can only be described as a grade school level epithet.   I’ll admit that I had never heard it and did not quite understand it.  This person was upset that white people were just now coming to the idea of having solidarity with persons of color.

Okay, now this I think is interesting.  I understand a lifetime of fighting.  I can be considered a marginalized person as well.  But the important piece of maturity here is to realize when people are honestly trying to help.  Not everyone who doesn’t look like you or think like you are your mortal enemies.  I really have to believe that people have good intentions and that they are trying to help.  I would like to offer an alternative response:

“I appreciate your intentions of trying for an outward expression of your inner desire to show me that you are a safe person.  I really appreciate that.  I suppose that I have disappointment that people who are different from me are showing support just in response to these particular times and the event of the recent election.  Where have you been?  Please be patient with me as, I too, process everything that is going on.  It may take me some time to welcome you with open arms, but I would like to, at the very least, try to commit to the process of openness and inclusion.”

Oops!  I think I may have exceeded 140 characters!

The people out there

October 7, 2016

Who are these people?  Just how deep runs the us and them dynamic?  Yes, The United States is in the middle of a very confusing and bewildering election.  I feel that many have simply given up on any concept of cooperation.  We are sheltering in place with our own kind.  It is just too overwhelming.  How do we emerge from our cocoons or will we ever be able to emerge?

Aren’t we all really just looking for safety?  Should we stop and compare our lives to those in places like Syria where war has torn everything asunder?  Why are we fighting this war of ideas and opinions?  I am right and you are wrong.  How can I even consider that you are right when your belief threatens my very existence as a human being on this planet.  More often than not, the threat is very real.  Much more often.

How can I talk about race when I know so few people who are different than me?  How can I learn about LGBT lives when I don’t think that I have ever met anyone from that community?  If you are a Christian fundamentalist, I cannot have anything to do with you because it is too threatening to my identity.  Do you care about my identity?  Is it your sole (soul’s) intention to threaten my identity?  Do you really want me to disappear from the planet?

Black/white, gay/straight, right/left.  Over and over again.  The individual elements of the great melting pot have separated themselves from the whole.

Can we just stop?  What if everything were to just stop for a day?  No news, no blog posts, no activity on any social media platforms.  Would it cause everyone to just take a deep breath and reboot?  It is as if we are compulsively heading to our own extinction without thinking that we can do anything to stop it.  It almost sounds like addiction, doesn’t it?  Just looking at the increase in verifiable addictions such as the opioid epidemic makes one wonder if therein lies a clue.  A simple definition of addiction as defined by Merriam-Webster is “an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something.”