Say what?…

I recently watched a funny YouTube video of a comedian.  He was explaining how he and his friends like to go out to bars on karaoke night.  They like to sing and this gives them the perfect opportunity…you know…since they aren’t in their own rock band and all.  He talked about how surprising it is to him when he picks a song that he thinks he knows inside and out…only to find out that when the words start to scroll on the screen he has the lyrics completely wrong.  It was hysterical hearing what he thought were actual lyrics in songs I know.  (I would share it here, but it had some bad language).  He would mention what he thought the lyrics were in certain songs and then he would play them for the audience.  It was really hard to hear the right lyrics once he told us the wrong ones!

It’s happened to me before too.  For the longest time I thought the Age of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks lyrics were “just like the one winged dove” instead of “white-winged dove.”   And the GoGo’s song Our Lips are Sealed I thought for sure said, “how does it feel.”  And then there is Blank Space by Taylor Swift that I could have sworn said, “list of Starbucks lovers” instead of “got a long list of ex-lovers.”  Maybe it’s because I love Starbucks (smile).  This is why as a teenager I loved when an album came with the lyrics.  Score!

I think this type of thing happens in other areas of life as well.  How about when it comes to the Bible?  Do you think that there are times when people read something and think it means one thing when in fact it means something completely different?  This happens a lot when people take a verse from the Bible out of context and use it to make a point.  That verse can completely lose its original meaning when we do that.

If you look at history, you will find some pretty significant controversies about misunderstanding the Bible.   For instance, there was a time when people believed the Bible taught that the cosmos was geocentric (Earth is at the orbital center of all celestial bodies).  Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the Earth is the center of the universe yet for centuries people believed it.  Here are just some of the passages that they thought proved geocentrism:

Ecclesiastes 1:5
The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.  

They believed that if the sun moved, the earth must not move.  And they had passages to prove that as well.

1 Chronicles 16:30
tremble before him, all earth; yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved.

Psalms 93:1
The Lord reigns; he is robbed in majesty; the lord is robbed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Psalms 96:10
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

It’s easy to see why when Copernicus and, later, Galileo, who taught the sun-centered (heliocentric) theory, came along they caused a controversy in the church.   People were considered heretics for believing them.  Now if you believe God created the universe, and you believe that scripture is God-breathed then this can cause a real problem for you.  Obviously God knew how He created the universe.  He knew how He set the solar system in the sky.  It was man who misinterpreted the scripture. Bad lyrics if you will.

One of the things that comes up often when I discuss the subject of homosexuality with people is that they tell me they want to follow the “true” scripture.  They want to follow the truth.  My question to them is, “Whose truth do you want to follow?” And they respond, “God’s of course!”  Since we don’t actually know the mind of God, we kind of have to go by how we interpret the scriptures.   And history shows that we don’t always get it right.  It’s hard to get an accurate count, but as of 2012 there was an estimated 33,000+ different denominations in the world.  This doesn’t mean that they all believe completely different things about God, but there are enough differences in theology that they separate themselves from one another. Even if that number isn’t accurate (you know…not everything you read on the internet is true) smile…having even 10 different denominations proves that we can’t agree on everything.

Another thing that comes up when I talk to folks is they tell me they don’t want to look at outside sources…they only want to look at the Bible on this topic.  Since I don’t know the original language that the Bible was written in, I’ve had to look to Biblical scholars for some of what I’ve learned.  However, I don’t look to them as my authority…that’s God’s role in my life.

I’ve read many books along this journey and they have been really helpful.  But I think people misunderstand when I say how much they’ve helped me to mean that they have become my “bible.”  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  For instance, the book Torn by Justin Lee that I mention a lot helped me to realize that you can be gay and a Christian.  I never understood the teaching on that, but I believed it because it’s what I was taught.  It was so refreshing to read Justin’s journey.  He writes about the controversial Bible verses in his book also, but at the time when I read it I wasn’t ready to delve into that part of things.  That came later in my journey.

I’ve done tons of research, but when it comes right down to it…I don’t know what God thinks about this topic.  I know what He’s spoken to my Spirit.  I know without a doubt what He wants me to do.  I have my beliefs…how I now interpret certain passages.  Could I be wrong?  Absolutely…but so could you.

I am so thankful that the disciples asked Jesus the question they asked in Matthew 22.  It is a question I so would have asked. I would have been like, “Jesus…it’s been great hanging out with you.  A lot of cool things have happened and you’ve taught us a lot, but I have to say…sometimes the stories you tell I just don’t understand.  What is the one thing I need to be doing?  Like…if I can’t do anything else…what should I make sure I get right?”

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When the lyrics of life get complicated and are hard to understand…
This I get.  This I understand.  This I can do.

Love each other…because it matters…a lot.

Sacred moments…

It’s finally a nice enough evening to sit on my deck to write.  It’s been a while because there has been tons going on.  Good stuff, hard stuff, meaningful stuff.  It got me to thinking about the sacred moments that God gifts us with when we slow down long enough to pay attention.  I think they happen more often than we realize…I mean God is omnipresent so how could they not.  Right?  Some of those moments though are so big that they can’t be missed.  I had two such moments like that recently…

The first being a weekend away.  Seems normal enough…but this was not your average get away.  It was two days spent with the most amazing women I am lucky enough to know.  A group of kindred spirits who for many met for the very first time…myself included.  It took place in North Carolina and was about a five and a half hour drive from my home.  But really I would have driven 20 hours to meet these women.

I’m part of a private Facebook group of moms with LGBTQ kids.  When I joined sixteen months ago, I was number seventy-eight…now we are over five hundred strong (smile).  The group is a safe place to go with questions, hurts, fears, victories… We support each other via cyberspace and we are located all over the United States and other parts of the world.  We share a common goal…to love our kids unconditionally.  The group is a remarkable place for resources and has been a life-saver to many.

As remarkable as it is to be a part of this group on the internet, it is even more meaningfull to get to meet a mom face-to-face. I’ve had the opportunity to do that with some of the moms that live closer to me and I’ve made incredible, life-long friends. But on this particular weekend, I got to meet twenty-five of these amazing moms (there were twenty-seven of us, but I had already met two of the moms in person).  We got to break bread together, cry together, laugh together, and share our powerful stories about our kids and the path that they’ve put us on and the journey that God has brought us through.  Each person’s story has a piece of our own…different…but the same.  And when the pieces all come together…fitting intricately each intertwined with the other…you get the perfect picture of God’s abiding love.

Me and Justin

Me and Justin

On Saturday, we had two special guests join us for breakfast.  Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, and the author of Torn:  Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate, and John Pavlovitz, pastor and blogger who shepherds another private FB group of moms of LGBTQ kids where I am also a member.  It was lovely meeting them and I especially enjoyed my time chatting with Justin letting him know how much his book changed my family’s journey.  He is gracious and humble and it meant so much to me to let him know that his heart shined through his book and is making a difference.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend.  This group of women and all of the women who couldn’t be there are some of the strongest and courageous women I know.  We refer to ourselves as the Mama Bears because we fiercely love our children and will go to great lengths to protect them.  We have a mom in our group who is a graphic artist and she came up with the graphic below for us.  (If you are a mama or papa bear, or even a grandma bear and would like to visit her shop you can do so here.)  We could be our true selves without any fear of judgement.  We didn’t have to worry about what we said or how we said it because we knew our hearts were safe with each other.  It was an incredible, God-filled, sacred moment.  The timing of this weekend was a huge blessing to me as it led into my second sacred moment the following weekend.

Graphic design by Jennifer Stake White

Graphic design by Jennifer Stake White

If you ask anyone who knows me well how I feel about public speaking, they would tell you I would rather eat dirt then to do so.  I’m not a fan of being in the “spotlight.”  I’m more of a behind-the-scenes kind of girl.  So when my pastor asked if I would speak about my journey in front of our congregation I said yes with some fear and trembling.  I don’t like to speak in public, but more importantly, this had the potential of ruffling some feathers (to put it mildly).  The LAST thing I ever would want is for something I did to hurt my church.  I took it very seriously and honestly put a lot of pressure on myself.  The series that my pastor is currently doing is on Ephesians and this particular Sunday he talked about Paul standing in the gap for the Jews and Gentiles.  He felt that my journey of standing in the gap for gays and Christians would be a good modern-day example.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes because God had already been whispering in my ear that I would one day speak about this. Part of me hopes that this is all God was referring to (smile), but I’m not so sure about that.  Yikes!

So why was this a sacred moment?  I’m not going to tell you what I said because I’m going to include the link so you can listen for yourself if you like.  It was sacred because God was present.  I had weeks to think about what I was going to say.  I had conversations with my pastor asking if particular things that are part of my journey were ok to discuss.  But how do you sum up an eight year journey on a Sunday morning when SO much has happened?  You let the Holy Spirit take over (smile).  I let go…I told God that this is the journey You’ve taken me on…You tell the story the way You want it to be told.  And He showed up…in a BIG way.

I woke up that morning shaking so badly from nerves that I could hardly get my the toothpaste on my toothbrush.  I knew I had lots of people praying for me and took a moment to zone in on those prayers.  I had an incredible sense of peace come over me.  So much so, that I had to remind myself while sitting in the pew waiting for my turn that I was actually about to get up there and speak (smile).  I got up there and shared my journey.  I survived!  The response I’ve gotten has been overwhelming now that the message is on the internet.  I can barely keep up with the comments I’ve received and I’m humbled to be used in such a way by God.  It was a sacred moment…one that I hope you will take a moment (well a long moment – smile) to listen to:

Standing in the Gap  – I come in around the 20 minute mark.  I have this in written form as well.

 

sacred moments

Love matters…but how we love matters even more.