Wednesday, October 29

proposing truth

There are so many things that are difficult about being a Christian who is serious about God's word, and who Christ has called us to be in this world.
One of these, as anyone can attest, is being persecuted for our faith...being mocked and abused for our silly, "outdated" and "bigoted" beliefs.

Lately there has been another burden on my spirit.
For me there is also the pain of knowing that people around me who i love very dearly, who are not the Lord's, are also, in some cases, are feeling persecuted by us.

Don't worry, i know that this is essentially not true. (except where you do see the crazies on "our side" who act out in hate)
But i guess that one of the many stirring and eye-opening aspects of being close to people who are not saved, is seeing things from their point of view. A fallen one, granted, but it would be the exact way i would look at things if God had not already revealed Himself and His ways to me.

Because, to put it simply, The Lord's ways are not fair.
they are only right.

Why should my moral views make any sense to someone who doesn't believe in absolute truth? or in the sacredness of the Bible?
What does it mean to them what marriage symbolizes, and why it even exists...?

I have a friend who i care for very much who i went to school with. He is a talented artist, a generous person, and a genuinely kind and lovely human being. he has encouraged me and supported me and confided in me. He is also gay--which makes no difference in how much i love him. i don't even think about it. But it does drive an invisible, yet very solid line between us. It is a line that i have not yet had to try and cross, but the way things are going these days...

Yesterday he wrote a "note" on facebook (kind of like a blog post) for everyone he is "friends" with to read. It struck me deeply, and is a big part of what prompted me to think about all this.
Before i go on i'll let you read it for yourself...

Prop 8 Allegory

"What do you think an artist is?" Picasso once responded during an interview. "An imbecile who has only eyes if he's a painter, or ears if he's a musician, or a lyre at every level of his heart if he's a poet, or even if he's a boxer, just his muscles? On the contrary, he's at the same time a political being, constantly alive to heartrending, fiery, or happy events to which he responds in every way."

A friend called the other day and asked what "Yes on Prop 8" meant, and I told her. She said that there were dozens of people, dressed in yellow on Aliso Creek Road holding up signs that read "Restore Marriage" and cheering. Entire families, children absorbing their parents anxieties, learning how to see in black and white, learning that it's dangerous to see all those colors.

"That's what I thought," my friend responded. "That's fucked up." She said that she and another friend of mine were going to throw things at them, have a meeting of the Reptilian minds. I laughed and cried at this. My own feelings on the this perpetual debate have always been fragmented, since I first learned of it at the age of 14 when it was called Prop 22 and I naively assumed that civil liberties was just something that the modern world all kind of agreed upon. I remember being at Moonlight beach, surfing with my best friend during our freshman year of high school when I asked his opinion and he told me that he didn't think they should get married, "because it's gross."

I have felt angry and wanted to throw things myself, when I have seen them standing on the corner there, all the yellow merging into a single form. I wanted to yell in their faces about how wrong they were. My mind was detached and primal, they felt so separate from me, their prejudices so foreign.

I took a rose from my car that had been given to me the night before and that I had not removed from its place on the front seat. My throat felt swollen and dry as I walked up to the yellow beast. It pulsated there in front of me, thinking it was everything that I was not and daring me to prove it otherwise. I searched the moral behemoth and found a woman inside of it, writhing. She was a mother, I saw, with a son of about 9 years old who had prominent ears that he will undoubtedly later pay for.

Maybe it was her that first connected with me, or maybe it was him, or maybe it was his protruding ears that captured my attention and allowed me to pick them out especially from the flood of signs. "As the world becomes more horrible, art becomes more abstract," Paul Klee had said. I went up to the woman and gave her the rose and an accompanying smile. She asked if I would like to join them, and I declined politely and looked again at her son, who could so easily have been me. I gave him a wave before walking away, and I felt like a real artist.

Oh how grateful i am that i can be certain of God's power and authority and perfect judgment...because if i were in this with any doubt, i would crumble.
It would be so easy to say i just didn't care. If i love this guy, why should i stand in the way of his happiness...?

because i don't want him to DIE.

Because if i didn't love him as much as i do i wouldn't care.

All this emotion, all this very real real pain and love and anger and passion he is feeling and expressing is all leading him straight to his death.
This sensitive, dear man who has such really beautiful intentions in what he wants to bring to this spite of his genuineness, his nobility, his earthly wrong. And the enemy is daily covering him in more and more velvety, soft, justifying darkness.

i am not ashamed about what my convictions are. i am not afraid of them and of what people will do to me, because it is not my welfare that matters, it is God's.

but i don't want to lose anyone...

i am completely overwhelmed.

And i ask for all of you to remember that while there are, indeed, millions of people out there full of blind hate and devoid of reason...
There are also those that love and care and believe they are doing what is right and good. All they can see in us is hatred and's the only way they can make sense of or justify it.

Please, please pray with me that Christ can touch the lives of these dear souls and reveal to them what is truly worth fighting for.



L.A.R said...

Sorry, this got me riled so it's more like a counter post:

You are concerned because you:
"...don't want him to DIE."

We're all going to die, Colleen. I think what you really mean here is you don't want your friend to go to Hell and all the nastiness that come with it -- correct me if I'm wrong.

Another spot on this post which I found interesting:
"...The Lord's ways are not fair. they are only right."

This sentence is frightening to me, primarily, because of the things it has been used to justify in many religions and contexts, not just Christianity.

I think it's also worthwhile mentioning that given your criteria, you may know and even join in worship with some of those:

"...millions of people out there full of blind hate and devoid of reason..." you put it, though I'm not sure who you mean exactly. Perhaps folks who turn a blind eye towards others people's humanity and interests and instead act out in their own interests; doing things that are perhaps unfair, but right.

In these folk's minds they are far from blind and extremely justified -- because perhaps they too have had God reveal Himself and His ways to them.

It is, as they say in cricket, a sticky wicket.

A teacher of Philosophy and firm Christian professor once told me of the importance of self-critique -- the ability to question your beliefs and posit that everything you are so sure of may be wrong. I've thought about that for a while and I've found it deeply helpful.

Needless to say I disagree deeply with you on this subject, especially your concern for any sort of eternal consequence Jared would have to endure for seeking love. Regardless, I think we can agree that whatever your view is on the matter, the best response may be to love Jared and let him know you do.

colleen said...

Yes, when i said that i didn't want him to die, it was an expression of my concern for his eternal life.

i have questioned every one of my beliefs...from the role of women in the church, to abortion...and i find myself only able to act as the Bible has told me.

and sometimes, in the world's eyes, my convictions are not "fair".

and my reasons for justifying this all stem from the fact that i have a Savior that died and rose again in order that i may live my life for His glory.

i ache for Jared because this is not what he is after.
seeking love and seeking Christ are two very different things. and they don't produce the same outcome.

and that is why i'm asking people to pray.

Anonymous said...

Maybe another reasonable response (aside from loving Jared) would be to just NOT vote on the Prop we are delicately talking around. Maybe consider not voting on something that doesn't DIRECTLY affect your rights. Oh and I know that's not "fair" of me to ask, so maybe I'll just ask you to look back and learn from history. Because I think it is important to remember just a little bit of what this country has done to people who don't look, think or act like the majority. You know, those little laws keeping interracial couples from marrying and minorities from owning land, voting, or having hope for a life outside of the bonds of slavery. Can you imagine how much faster Jim Crow laws would have been abolished had white folks just worried about their own rights rather than constantly seeking to oppress the rights of others? But I suppose the people for which the system works in this country can't imagine a land where the law isn't REALLY about them and for them. Using religion to mask the fact that the Prop you are talking about- is about equal rights for everyone- not whether you believe Jared is going to Hell-is a poor excuse for piety. Though I can understand how it would seem logical as it has long been a tradition utilized by Christians in this country.

colleen said...

i almost didn't write this because i knew some people would take it the wrong way

but for some reason i did

i am responding to your comment because i didn't want you to feel ignored, or that i was avoiding you. i'm not going to argue with you on the points you brought up about racism because that has nothing to do with this.

i don't know how much more i can express this than i already have.

one thing i will say specifically is your argument:
"Using religion to mask the fact that the Prop you are talking about- is about equal rights for everyone- not whether you believe Jared is going to Hell..."

...this was not a post about proposition 8. when did i once mention it? i know it was mentioned in my friend's writing...but i said absolutely nothing about it.
this was a post on the essentials of what these two sides are fighting about.

i guess you could say that, rather, i was using prop 8 to mask my talking about my convictions.

i'm sorry i offended you.
i'm sorry i sounded pious.

my intention was only to express some thoughts...not make anyone angry.

i guess next time i'll know better.

Anonymous said...

unfortunately too many people have preconceived concepts concerning what you have been talking about, colleen.

i think colleen's post is frustrating for two reasons...

christians are sinners and hypocrites.... because they are people, not because they are christians. it is just more obvious because christians are attempting to live up to a standard beyond their own individual preference. it's easy to live up to your own ethic, but to live up to Jesus Christ's is impossible in ourselves.

but i do admit there are proud "religious" christians that try to whitewash there own sins by judging those of others. in Jesus' day these "good, religious" people were called Pharisees and he used his strongest words against them.

christians believe in absolute right and wrong because they believe the bible. so if you are going to be offended by something like absolute truth-- don't be offended by the christian, be offended by the bible, and what Jesus, Himself said.

Jesus was offensive not because He was trying to be, but because he spoke in absolutes! He never said "i think" or "i feel" or "believe only if you want to". He said "I am THE way. THE truth. THE life. no one comes to the father except through me." (john 14:6) in fact, Jesus talked about hell more than any other person in the whole Bible combined! Jesus wasn't just an inspirational friend and good teacher. forget Joel Olsteen or Ned Flanders. Jesus was so offensive that we killed him, so we could just shut him up. and yet Jesus said: "Blessed is he who is not offended because of me". (matt 11:6)

i know this may come as a surprise but... the bible is offensive to any honest christian too. if i look at my own soon as i am offended by the Bible-- or anything at all--my first knee-jerk reaction is to point the finger. but i have to ask myself "maybe the problem does not lie with God...perhaps it lies with me." maybe it's MY standards, MY beliefs, MY feelings that are out of whack, not God's... although many make the mistake, a christian has no authority to judge what he/she thinks is right and wrong in their own eyes. they know truth isn't measured by their own preference, prejudice or limited experience.

it is frustrating that people so often accuse christians of not thinking of both sides of an issue when they themselves never bother to question their own extreme discomfort by what the bible teaches. yes it's offensive when Jesus says He's THE ONLY WAY. but have you ever stopped to think why Jesus might say that? and why does it make you so angry?

you might feel angry because Jesus' claim sounds arrogant and snobby. but before you make up your mind, consider the christian gospel and just take it for face value for a second.

God created and loves mankind. but all mankind has rejected God. even man's religion is corrupt and incapable of making things right. so God makes the first step, Himself, and becomes a man...

imagine that. an infinite being became...a man?! God became a man who had to come into the world a bloody, screaming, dependent baby. God got scrapes on his knees, sick when he was a kid, and grew up being called a bastard. God had to endure "friends" who didn't understand him, "friends" who betrayed him. God had to go through the rejection and humiliation of being an outcast His entire life. And in the end, He died a horrible horrible bloody death and was so unbelievably defaced that nobody could recognize Him as he went to the cross to die naked and alone. totally humiliated after a life filled with suffering and rejection. not because He was a victim---but because He was God and He planned it all along. because it was the only way for Him to finally be reunited with the human race.

before Jesus came along...there was NO way to God because our sin deserved death and separation from God. so the only way a just God could fairly forgive all of our sin was for somebody else to pay that price (the death penalty). a just God can't gloss over our sin simply because He loves us. (could you worship a God who glossed over the holocaust?) but thank God... His love and righteousness meet at the cross of Jesus.

the infinite God of the universe humbled himself to become a man, to be rejected, mocked, and murdered by the very people he came to save. do we really think about how unbelievable that is? and how selfish it is to throw that back in God's face saying:
"why, God, are you so proud to say you're the only way?!"

Why is Jesus Christ the only way? it is because God made a way when there was NONE. and it cost HIM everything.

does that sound snobby? does that sound arrogant or proud? would any of us endure so much for our enemies?

So before we start talking about how we have been sinned against, how wrong people have been toward us and man's inhumanity toward man---let's think about man's hatred toward God. the only being in the universe with the right to be offended or angered--instead--acted out in love and provided a way.
we MUST consider Jesus Christ, a real person who walked the earth, and who He claimed to be and what He did. and what we did to Him

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

colleen is not talking about homosexuality, prejudice, or politics. she is talking about sin. and everyone's sin separates him/her from God. no matter what kind of sin it is. everyone sins. we're all guilty. we all deserve death. but anyone who has the humility and honesty to acknowledge their sin and accept that Jesus died in their place is forgiven. and any lie that keeps a person from acknowledging their own sin is a frightening one. i am not so frightened for the struggling alcoholic who's life crumbles and is brought to his knees. they know they need a savior. i fear for the individual who feels safe with their sin. comfortable. even noble.

colleen fears for jared because she loves him and knows that the nature of his sin is keeping him from ever coming before the Lord. our only hope. if you're friend was sick but didn't know it. what would make you a better friend? telling him and leading him to the Cure, or not telling him because you're afraid of what he might think of you? isn't that kind of "tolerance" selfish and unloving?

colleen has a genuine, loving concern for her friends who have not asked for the forgiveness of sin through Jesus. because she knows the consequences. the point...of ALL of this...we all need Jesus Christ. colleen only wants that for jared too.


p.s. if any of this was offensive. just remember to ask yourself why...

L.A.R said...

Assuming as Sarah said that we take Christianity on its "face value" as ascribed by the modern conservative protestant movement in America, that was an excellent Christian defense of Colleen's position - fair enough. In Rebuttal: I can certainly appreciate the love and concern that Colleen must indeed have for Jared. I never questioned her intentions, her sincerity in belief or any of that warm and fuzzy stuff -- I merely questioned her conclusion, and the action she will most likely take or encourage others to take as a result of said conclusion. It starts with prayer, then with intervention, then with confrontation and now – Prop 8. I know, I know -- she may not have been talking about prop 8 overtly; but the issue alone, much less its being raised in her post, forces it into the discussion.

Also, in response to the "having a sick friend" scenario: touché. A wonderful example of your point - It would be terrible to have a secret knowledge that according to what you understand could save a friend's life -- and not share it. However - it would be equally terrible to force said medicine down said friend's throat, despite his protestations; despite his equally certain and well-understood knowledge that nothing is wrong with him. That seems like an uncomfortable power-structure between two private individuals. To follow your metaphor through, how much worse would it be if cultural leanings gave you the right and let you force his medication on him? What about, in the face of growing “patient free-choice” groups you tried to pass legislation saying, ostensibly, that he had no right to deny his disease and must take the medicine? Easy enough, since the current power-structure keeps him and others like him in the hospitals. But what about when the cultural tables turn, and you're the one who people think is sick? What about when people try passing legislation banning your freedom? Then it would be your free-choice we'd be arguing to defend, and defend it we would – since you must have that right... regardless of whether you think these “rights” come from some divine source or merely consensus of opinion, they are crucial in and for our socio-political structure.

I will stick with my original position, that there is nothing “wrong” with Jared; and, despite my suggestion to consider the many people's points of view who aren't Christian -- but have had "ultimate reality" reveal itself to them resulting in their equally valid belief system – I can understand I won't be convincing anyone through the medium of Colleen's blog. Fair enough. It's your free-choice, your “right,” that I believe is rightly guaranteed to you by our political system... but please, consider the fact that in our socio-political system we consider all men to be created equal. Therefore, they must have equal rights. Marriage is one of them. No on prop 8.

Anonymous said...

andrew, your post made me very sad because you obviously missed the point. you think that i'm preaching a cliche cultural protestant political social gospel.

you're right. man tries to control, tries to manipulate. whether he is the type of man who attempts to shove the gospel down somebody's throat and even (unfortunately) legislate morality, or the kind of man who persecutes christians because he hates what they stand for. when we finally realize this, we see that there is something wrong with all of us. it's the same root problem: not religion. not ignorance. not bigotry. the problem is sin. religious or not, we all are sinners.

did anything in colleen's post or anything in colleen's responses even indicated that she wanted to force Jesus on anyone? no. however, she is still commanded to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. whether Jared, you or anyone chooses to believe it, is not up to her or me. and no one can make that decision for you, no matter how desperately I wish I could. you can't bribe or bully the gospel of Jesus Christ. only God can change a man's heart to hear and respond. some christians have forgotten this throughout history and have attempted to spread the gospel wrongly through moral legislation or worse. but the bible never gives that mandate. we are simply to tell the truth in love, not matter what pop culture dictates. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) and then pray. (that's the whole point of prayer... it takes all the power out of our own hands and says to God: "Thy Will be done.")

so likewise, i have to let go of this discussion now. all i can say is the gospel and no more. there is nothing left to say.

but i will continue to pray...


Elizabeth said...

Colleen: you are a wonderful, courageous woman and I applaud you for speaking honestly about your beliefs. I love you and think you are a kind, gentle person who would never intend to hurt anyone. I know what you meant and I'm glad you shared it.