Tag Archives: Justice

Same Sex Marriage “Stuff” – Part One

This post is part of the July Synchroblog which invites bloggers to post about “Same Sex Marriage.”

As someone who has a gay son and who owns and facilitates a Private Facebook group for more than 500 moms of LGBT kids I have a LOT to say about same sex marriage “stuff.”

In fact, I have so much to say, I don’t know where to start.

But, I guess a good place to start is with my own story about how I went from believing same sex relationships were sinful to believing that condemning same sex relationships is sinful.

same-sex-marriage

When my son came out he told me he had come to the conclusion that the bible did not condemn loving, committed same sex relationships.

I fully expected to be able to prove him wrong.

I was accustomed to “studying” scripture as I taught women’s bible studies for years. I knew what it meant to dig into original language and consider the historical context of the verses I was studying.

I was shocked to find that my son was right …  none of the “clobber” verses were speaking about a loving, monogamous, healthy same sex relationship.

In fact, after a lot of studying and searching I had to admit there was no sufficient evidence in scripture that “clearly” condemned or supported same sex relationships.

One would have to put their integrity at stake and make scripture say more than it does in order to claim that scripture clearly condemns or supports same sex relationships.

(I could go into greater detail here about what I found and didn’t find in scripture, but instead I would like to share a link to a message by Pastor Stan Mitchell of GracePoint Church in Franklin, TN. The message is “Dialogue On Full Sacramental LGBT Inclusion.” This message includes almost everything I discovered in my own journey. I personally think this should be required listening for all Christians living in 2015 but I will just say “if you are a Christian who loves anyone – ANYONE – who is LGBT, you should take the time to listen to this message right away.”)

In light of discovering there was insufficient evidence in scripture to condemn same sex relationships I then had to ask myself, “What should I do?” and “How should I respond to something if scripture doesn’t clearly condemn or support it?”

The only thing I could think is I needed to find out if there was any evidence to indicate same sex relationships hurt people.

I searched and I couldn’t find that kind of evidence either – in fact, the evidence I discovered showed healthy same sex relationships had the same healthy effect on individuals and society as opposite sex relationships have on individuals and society.

Two more things happened which ended up playing a significant role in my journey.

First, I ran across this quote:

“A traditional religious belief is that “grace builds on nature,” in other words religious life depends on a good foundation in human health. Therefore we can legitimately evaluate the validity of a religious belief system by its psychological consequences. Good theology will result in good psychology and vice versa. Accordingly, bad theology will have negative psychological consequences. This is nothing more than an application of the biblical norm: “You will be able to tell them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16) If Saint Irenaeus proclaimed, the glory of God is humans FULLY ALIVE [emphasis mine], then clearly a belief system that results in the destruction of human health cannot serve the glory of God.” ~Dr. John J. McNeill

And second, I kept bumping into Micah 6:8:

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

The quote by Dr. McNeill made so much sense to me and supported what I had always believed in my heart … which was the tenets and beliefs of Christianity should mostly lead to a person’s health and wholeness. In other words, our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health should all be “better” if we are embracing good theology. Like Dr. McNeill explained, good and right theology should mostly lead to good psychology (good fruit).

As I considered this idea I began to understand that when our theology about something is resulting in a lot of bad fruit or bad psychology – such as hopelessness, depression, self hate and self harm – we have an obligation to re-examine what we believe and ask ourselves why we believe it.

And Micah 6:8 became like a guiding light for my journey. The words reminded me that justice (doing what is right) is a very high priority to God and led me to ask, “What would it look like, in light of what I have discovered, to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God?”

Everything combined together led me to the conclusion that it would be unjust, and lack mercy and humility, to condemn a loving, monogamous same sex relationship.

There was nothing in scripture to clearly mandate the condemnation of same sex relationships, there was no evidence that same sex relationships caused harm to anyone (in fact, the opposite was true) and the theological position of condemning same sex relationships was not producing good psychology (good fruit).

Those things together have given me peace in my heart about being a Christian who affirms same sex relationships. Those things have led me to believe that condemning same sex relationships is a sin.

The transition didn’t happen overnight. Although I was able to see right away that what I had believed wasn’t right, it actually took somewhere between one and two years of study, prayer, learning, listening and thinking for me to officially change my position/belief.

I’ve been accused of letting my love for my son blind me to the truth, but nothing could be further from the truth. My love for my son made me study more than ever, it caused me to ask tougher questions and to carefully consider all the evidence before me. I love my son too much to mislead him in the wrong direction if I can help it.

I’ve been accused of disregarding scripture and the Christian faith, but nothing could be further from the truth. My high view of scripture, my determination to not make scripture say more than it says, my commitment to study in a thorough manner, my deep devotion to being a follower of Christ and to do my best to live into the kind of radical love that he demonstrated and calls me to imitate … those things have led and guided me to where I am today regarding same sex marriage. I do not affirm same sex relationships in spite of my faith. I affirm same sex relationships because of my faith.

And as I have talked to other Christian mothers of LGBT kids I have witnessed them going through the same sort of process … digging deep, not accepting easy answers, wanting to make sure as much as possible.

As mothers our love doesn’t let us off the hook … instead, it is the reason we must be even more resolute and thorough. Our love is that great.

Like I said … I have a LOT to say about same sex marriage “stuff” and this is just the beginning … but I’m a firm believer that blog posts shouldn’t be too long … so stay tuned for part two of “Same Sex Marriage Stuff” coming soon. (Go here for part two)

In the meantime, check out the other July Synchroblog posts about “Same Sex Marriage

Advertisements

Sorry

This month’s synchroblog calls on bloggers to address the subject of handling spiritual abuse so the Christian tenets of justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption are honored.

Man_Crying
Sorry means you feel the pulse of other people’s pain as well as your own, and saying it means you take a share of it. And so it binds us together, makes us trodden and sodden as one another. Sorry is a lot of things. It’s a hole refilled. A debt repaid. Sorry is the wake of misdeed. It’s the crippling ripple of consequence. Sorry is sadness, just as knowing is sadness. Sorry is sometimes self-pity. But Sorry, really, is not about you. It’s theirs to take or leave.

Sorry means you leave yourself open, to embrace or to ridicule or to revenge. Sorry is a question that begs forgiveness, because the metronome of a good heart won’t settle until things are set right and true. Sorry doesn’t take things back, but it pushes things forward. It bridges the gap. Sorry is a sacrament. It’s an offering. A gift. 
― 
Craig SilveyJasper Jones

At first I had a very difficult time imagining what the path to restoration would look like for a religious leader who had committed spiritual abuse.

My difficulty comes from the fact that far too often spiritual abusers aren’t held accountable for their actions because they hold too much power or celebrity and the abuse is ignored and goes on without being confronted until it becomes normalized. Too often the abused are told that they are the problem and their perspective is wrong.

If the abuser is not held accountable and doesn’t take personal responsibility I can’t imagine a way that the Christian tenets of justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption can be honored.

But, if the abuser is held accountable for their actions, is willing to take responsibility and is sincerely sorry for their actions and the harm they have done I believe there is a way for us to honor the Christian ideals of justice, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption; and I believe it can be done by practicing a form of restorative justice.

In my opinion the process would need to emphasize repairing the harm caused by the abuser and would include:

  1. Creating opportunities for victims, offenders and community members to meet and discuss the abuse and its aftermath.
  2. Allowing those who were abused to participate in determining the resolution.
  3. Having offenders take steps to personally work towards repairing the harm they caused.

If this sort of process is practiced I believe that there is a way the offender could be restored to a whole, contributing member of the Christian community. However, I think we must be cautious about setting that up as the goal. I believe the goal of the process should be to seek the justice, protection and restoration of those who have been abused.

I believe that when offenders are truly sorry about their actions and the harm they have caused and are more concerned with the well-being of those who have been harmed than their own self the possibility of their redemption and restoration become real.

Sorry is the necessary sacrament, the imperative offering, the essential gift.

Be sure and check out the other contributions to this month’s synchroblog:

Prayer For The Week – Tikkun Olam – The Healing and Transformation of our Planet

Meditation or Prayer Before Going to Vote

by Michael Lerner

Thank You, the Power of Healing and Transformation in the Universe, that Your energy has moved through human beings in the past and inspired them to create democratic institutions that would give me and others this wonderful opportunity to participate in shaping our world. I know that the outcome of this election will have consequences for all six billion people on the planet, and that if democratic norms were to be fully established that they too would be able to participate in shaping the decisions about how the world’s resources should best be used.

So I hereby take it upon myself to vote in a way that is sensitive to the needs of all the people of the planet, not just to those who are blessed to live in the richest and most powerful society. I recognize and affirm the unity of all being, and the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all people with each other and with the well-being of the planet itself.

As I approach this holy act, I recommit myself to the message revealed to the prophets and sages of old: that our highest task on earth is to bring more love and kindness, generosity and sanctity into the world, and that to do so we must vigorously pursue a world of justice and peace and avoid violence and hurting others directly or indirectly. May my votes actually contribute to these results.

Please give strength to those for whom I vote. If they are elected, let them actually contribute to achieving a world of greater peace, justice and love. If they are not elected, let my vote be one of the factors that contributes to empowering them to play a positive role in continuing their efforts for peace, justice and love, so that they represent my intentions and so that they do not personally fall back into despair or into personal opportunism and forget that they have the task of vigorously articulating the aspirations of those who were seeking through voting for them to bring more caring and more generosity into the world.

Give me the wisdom to understand those who do not vote in the way that I do. I already know that most people on this planet share with me the desire for a world of peace, justice, loving-kindness and caring. So it is hard for me to understand why they don’t support the candidates who I see representing those values.

Please give me the wisdom to understand the complex psychological, social and political factors that could take fundamentally decent human beings and lead them into paths that may, I believe, lead to a world exactly the opposite of what they really want. And let that understanding empower me to be more compassionate in the way that I think and talk about those with whom I disagree, and more intelligent in finding ways to reach them, speak to their goodness, and bring them through my love and compassion for them to be able to see a better path to achieve the goals that they share with me.

From this point forward, I commit myself to seeing the good in all others, and to finding the decency and generosity in those who disagree with me, and to keep that in front of my consciousness even as I continue to disagree with the paths that they have chosen – and let that understanding give me even greater energy to act for the causes of social justice and peace.

Meanwhile, let me also have compassion for the leaders of movements and candidates for office whom I do support – let me not judge them for their personal failings, for the ways that they are not in their PRIVATE LIVES the fullest possible embodiments of the ideals that they articulate. Yet let me simultaneously have the energy and commitment to hold them accountable in their PUBLIC ACTS to working even harder for social justice and peace and ecological sanity.

I know that my vote is only one little part of the whole, and nevertheless I will not belittle what I am doing today in going to vote. But neither will I use this vote as a way of excusing myself from doing more. I commit myself to putting more of my time and more of my energy and more of my money into activities explicitly aimed at tikkun olam, the healing and transformation of our planet.

Please let me be witness to a dramatic surge of the world’s energies toward love, justice, peace, nonviolence, spiritual awakening, and ecological sanity – quickly and in my lifetime, and let it be so. Amen. Shalom. Salaam.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us!

Rabbi Michael Lerner
Tikkun Community

 

Prayer For The Week – Peace

Join people of all faiths around the world who are praying this prayer at noon each day:

Lead me from death to life,

from falsehood to truth.

Lead me from despair to hope,

from fear to trust.

Lead me from hate to love,

from war to peace.

Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.

Peace, peace, peace.

Adapted from the Upanishads by Satish Kumar.

Climate Change – Asking The Right Questions

This post is for Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

In 1988 “Beds Are Burning”, Midnight Oil’s infectious rocker, brought the issue of reparations for indigenous peoples to the global spotlight, and now Time For Climate Justice has gathered musicians and movie stars to transform the song into an anthem that demands action for the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen.

In December of this year, the United Nations will meet to decide on the replacement of the Kyoto protocol, a defining agreement that will determine the future of our planet in the face of the climate crisis. People around the world are dying today as a result of climate change and without our collective action, this will continue. The people who are suffering the most from climate change happen to be those who have done the least to cause it and have the least resources to do anything about it.  In other words, climate change is above all a justice issue.

For example Ally Ouedraogo has been farming his land on the edge of the Sahel in Burkino Faso for two decades, but in recent years climate change has made it much more difficult for him to grow his crops. As the dry seasons in the region have got dryer, the quality of the soil has deteriorated dramatically. It’s a familiar story everywhere for farmers and their communities in the developing world as climate change begins to take a heavy toll.

Scientists predict that at the current rate of carbon emissions tens of millions more people will go hungry in the next couple of decades as agricultural yields diminish across the globe.  And if nothing is done to stem a rise of 2°C in global average temperatures by 2050 they say 250 million more people will be forced to leave their homes, 30 million more people will go hungry as agricultural yields go into recession across the globe, and one to three billion people will suffer acute water shortages.

I hear many Christians asking “should we care about climate change and the environment?”  But I think those are the wrong questions to be asking ourselves.  Instead I think we should be asking “as Christians, should we care about people who are forced to leave their homes, who will go hungry and suffer water shortages due to climate changes that they did not cause and cannot do anything about?”

In other words we should be asking ourselves… “should we care about justice?”

Go here to find steps you can take to limit greenhouse gas emissions

Go here and here to find out how to take political action.

Go here to donate to help those who are suffering the most from climate change.

We Never Recover Until We Forgive

Catching up on all the great stuff in my google reader this week and just had to share this great video I found over at Missio Dei where Jonathan Brink wrote a great post about True Justice.  The video is about forgiveness with Mary Karen Read’s last words in her journal entry before her death at the Virginia tech shooting.  I have to warn you – it will probably make you cry.