sin

Aj Is Going to Hell

My best friend is an immoral Pagan witch. She’s rejected Christian Morality. She outright refuses to accept the concepts of Christian repressed sexuality. She makes her own rules and worships her own gods, plural. She has her own rituals and practices divination. Yeah, she’s going to Hell and there’s nothing I can do about it. Not only that, she doesn’t even believe Hell exists…

So, if she’s going there, why do Christians, not all of us but, enough, feel a need to persecute her during this life. I mean, if you believe someone is going to Eternal Damnation, isn’t that enough? You think the condition of her soul means you have the right to be a jerk to one of God’s Creations, even if you think that she’s an “offense against God” and that, when He created her he made a mistake. That somehow, you’re showing her what True Christian Values are by letting her know you think she has no value? That God will praise you for showing His love to her by treating her like she has no worth?

This is what you have taught her by your examples… “I wish for true religious freedom every day but I know that as long as it is a christian based society there never will be…I have learned to walk quietly so that I am not persecuted for my belief. I do not hide who I am or deny my personal truths.” You have taught that you only believe in religious freedom for yourself. You have taught that she WILL be persecuted for her belief. You have taught her this, “If you are such a damn good christian then follow your own commandments and guidelines. Love your neighbor, do not judge and do unto others as you would have done unto you” and that you will not. You have taught her that my “heresy” in treating her as a human, a loved and cherished human that happens to not be Christian, is vanishingly rare among Christians.

You realize that you failed? If you value the souls of unbelievers, then there is one that you will never be able to save because YOU have driven it away. Your actions. Your failure to show, by the example you set, that your path is worth emulating, means that her soul is beyond reach. Once, you might have had a chance, now it is too late for her… The question does remain, what will you do now? How will you reach out to the next person you would send to Hell? What love will you reach out with? Will you invite them into the warmth of your home and life? Will you teach them, without words, of the depth of your faith? By the love for them you express, will you show them that their souls have worth and their lives matter or will you reject them and send another worthless Pagan to Hell? Will you cause them to find community away from yours and take away any chance you might have had to “save” them? What will you do to the next chance you have?

*****

My best friend is a Pagan. I am not. This is what I believe. I believe that God is able to do anything. I believe He shows himself in the form He best thinks will be received.  I believe that, to Christians, He appeared in a form we can accept. I believe that it is possible that he presents Himself to others in a way that they might accept.

I am not trying to “Christianize” Pagans or Aj. I know she doesn’t even allow for the Christian Hell to exist. I know that she will never be a Christian and yet, I also don’t think she’s going to Hell. Her soul may be a bit banged up around the edges but, the core of it is as solid as any I know. That soul, that person that lights candles for me, that shows concern for my life and my fears, has nothing to worry about. That human, that soul that animates the shell that lives on this earth, is valuable to me. I believe that soul will not go to Hell just because she’s not Christian.

 

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What Difference Does It Make?

I have a question. It’s rhetorical so y’all can just ponder it a bit. Ask yourself, “what difference does it make?” before you find something objectionable.

Look at like this, Christians, me in my past included, found “fault” with people. We see what we perceive as “flaws” or “sin” and use that as grounds to object to the whole of the person. Take, specifically, two of my closest friends. One is Pagan, the other Lesbian. I would see the first as “flawed” and the other as the personification of “sin”…Then I applied the question…

Sure, Aj is flawed. All humans are. It’s just that her faith isn’t a flaw in her and only makes a difference to me when we try to communicate concepts that seem simple to her and are hard for me to understand. In that case, Paganism isn’t the flaw. The problem lies on my difficulty trying to apply my views and mental construct…

On the other hand, Z does sin, as a Christian she would be the first to admit it. It’s just that who she’s attracted to isn’t the one that either she or I see as the sin. *editorial, I freely admit being a heretic so, object to my view as you wish. We’ll just disagree* Sin, the Christian concept applied to Christians, is an inescapable part of our condition…

Anyway, back to the original question, what difference does it make? Say, for example, I was of an inclination to object and act on my objections. That I further decided I had a right to do that. Why? Would it be worth the stress that it would cause to find fault and ways to retaliate against people that mean me no harm? What part of the kindness and love that Jesus taught does hateful rhetoric, prejudicial action, or blatant discrimination show? How would I persuade someone to see my view if, by my actions, thoughts, and words, I pushed them away? It would make a difference because I had failed, not them.

What difference does it make? A huge one, just not to you but, to them.

How Do We Respond?

A crime was committed against my family. I do not know what was stolen, by who, or when those things are lost to time…

My descent is Western European. There is no one, that we can tell, of any other geographical area. That means we were not always Christian. It is impossible since we didn’t spring from the ground in the 7th century AD. That means, like all others with the same roots, we had a different culture and set of oral traditions as well as a different faith. Those were stolen and we can not prove what was taken.

Anyway…that the theft occurred is a given. That one of my ancestors did it to another can also be taken as fact. What is also true, for me, is that my Christianity is my faith. Being Christian does not change that I do wonder and when I do that I can not decide which is worse, the theft or not knowing what was stolen. You see, the cultures that are gone left no written record. We have no genealogies going to those times. History was written by the victors, not the oppressed. Religion was used as a political tool to enforce temporal power.

I don’t know why my friends that are Pagan became that. What motivation other than a vague, “Christianity didn’t fit”. Perhaps someday one or a few will tell me if I ask. I wonder, sometimes if it is a longing for what was lost or anger at what was done.

*****

So, how do we right a wrong when we do not know the crime or the victims or the perpetrators?

We, Christians, have to try to set aside out fears. I know it is not easy. It wasn’t/isn’t for me so, I acknowledge them and see the person and not the practices that cause discomfort.

We should accept that there was a loss and realize that, though we don’t own the guilt, Christianity does. We need to get off our high horse with the innate moral superiority we think we have because we believe we have the ONLY path that is true and right. Paganism is our parent. They had faith before us and no matter what we want to believe, just because we have a book and all they have is an oral tradition, we are not somehow innately superior, we’re just newer. The pre-literate cultures did architecture, astronomical observation, and metal work that still amaze us. Just because they left no writings and were over-written by us doesn’t remove their validity.

We  can make a place that is safe for them to come to us. We, if we know someone that is a Pagan and odds are we know at least one, don’t mock their faith. We give the respect we so stridently demand. Even if we can not see past our sense of Salvation, we do not condemn out of hand. We ask questions seeking to understand. We don’t call it “hocus pocus”, foolish, “just a phase”, “you’re serious?!?”, or anything else unless we feel the same about Christianity and are willing to accept the same in return.

We can examine our own hearts and faith. We find our own strength and depth of faith to realize that our fears are unfounded. That the threats to our beliefs come from our own doubts. We look inward to find ourselves and do not identify a threat that does not exist. Pagans are not trying to “convert” us even while we are trying to change them so, we set aside that double standard.

If we are lucky enough to be trusted when someone does come to us with their faith, we respect that. We realize how many reasons we have given them to fear us and we count ourselves lucky that we have shown that we are worth the part of themselves  that they are offering.

*****

There’s a part of this, too, that Pagans get to do. You get to educate us. You get to teach us not to fear. You let us know you first as individuals and then if, and ONLY if, it is physically safe, let us know that you are Pagan. There will be risks to that. You risk us not understanding and mocking you or us being driven away. You will be sometimes wrong about one of us and it will be an intolerant Christian that refuses to see past our misconceptions. I am sorry, we are a fearful and xenophobic sort of people no matter what we say, we want everyone to be like us. Seriously, Aj risked pushing me away, read the middle bit of this post to see how it worked out, Which One is Pagan.   Those set backs WILL happen. You will be mistaken about one of us. You will think that one of us might be open-minded because of a view on one topic like LBGT rights or women’s rights and equate that with being open to Paganism…and you’ll be wrong. We Christians can be randomly dogmatic, sorry. I know it isn’t going to be easy. There are thousands of years of codified oppression, prejudice, and violence to overcome. You have your own baggage caused by our actions. I’m asking for you to forgive us for something that is unconscionable and I can’t blame you if you don’t but, until we both set aside our fears, y’all are outnumbered and disorganized. Our fears will win if we are allowed to keep them.

Let’s be realistic, this is going to be a series of tiny victories. Things will change one person at a time. This is not something like Marriage Equality where the SCOTUS can codify it and states can rule that discrimination is illegal. It is going to be one person educating one other person and hoping the lesson takes. Christian Churches will always be against you, they HAVE to be, by their standards, you are the embodiment of sin. They will draw no distinction and understand no difference between Paganism and Devil Worship. That battle is lost. What wins you will have will come from finding people, individuals, like me that were willing to see a person and make a change to themselves and views because of that person. Two thousand years of dogma and teaching and fear will not be undone overnight…Saying “be patient” would be useless and unfair but, it is the truth, you don’t have any other choice. You can not force fears to change. You can show that your concepts are not against ours but, different. You can try to educate us about the faces of your gods and goddesses and teach that they are not the Devil. You can gently tell us how the Christian concepts of sin and hell do not apply but, personal responsibility and morality do. You can show us that we have nothing to fear by educating us and letting us know that you’re our neighbors and friends. Yeah, tiny victories…

…and there will be setbacks. Some idiot will do some stupid violent act. It will make the news and the story will read “Pagan Commits (fill in the blank) Crime” and you will be blamed. Someone will get fed up with arrogant Christians and spout off. That will make the news, too with Christians saying, “see, I TOLD you there was a War on Christianity”. It isn’t fair or right but, there will b confirmation to Christians, some of us, every time something like that happens…and you will have to start trying to teach us again…

*sigh*

A crime was committed. The loss was immeasurable. Now, we have to try and undo it…

Which One Is Pagan?

I want to try something. I want you to guess which one is Pagan. Is it the pharmacist that fills your prescription and is a single mom or is it the middle aged lady that works in the library? Could it be the quiet clerk in the deli and gives you a sandwich? Lastly, could it be the Goth girl that nannies the kid down the street and cooks for her boyfriend? Those are your choices…

Here’s a story about a “crisis of conscience”. A few years ago, I had, still have, a friend named Aj. Because I was sick. pneumonia, I was spending time sitting on the couch talking on Facebook. Aj and I had been friends and were becoming closer friends. I was learning that I had a “best friend”. Hadn’t had one in years. I think I realized that she was when she actually said it. We shared the same attitudes and values. One day, being my usual smarta$$ self, I made a status that was a Monty Python paraphrase about burning a witch. Her reply was that my closest friend was a witch, a real Pagan witch…

That caused a huge problem. I thought though we had not discussed it, that she was Christian. Her values were the parts of Christianity that I valued and still do. She lived the “love your neighbor” parts. Her walk was peace toward everyone. She took in a child that was not hers and later adopted the child because it was the right thing to do. She lived out being a good wife and mother. She forgave me for being a complete jerk when we met and looked past my faults to see the good in me. Like I said, all of the parts of Christianity I hold close…and my beliefs said she was going to Hell because she didn’t believe in Jesus…

That’s a bad place for me to be. I was given two choices. I could condemn to an eternity of suffering a person I had come to love or I could adapt. No middle ground there. Either I judge or not.

I adapted. I came to realize that, even though she had a strong sense of right and wrong, “sin” is applicable to my faith but, not hers. That I HAD to quit trying to make her a “Christian like Pagan” and accept her the way she is.

This is what I am trying to convey. My belief is that “judge not lest you be judged” is that it is not my place to judge someone’s soul. I go on with my belief that God created everyone the way He wants them to be. He puts people in our lives for His purposes. not ours. She, Aj, was the same person both before and after I knew. She had not changed. The only change was my perception of her. If I didn’t think she was going to Hell before, why would I have to think she was going after I found out. She stayed the same.

When you think about someone, what do you see? Do you see a person, or do you see your own concept of what they should be? If you meet someone, do you decide to impose your views and baggage and conditioning on them or do you take them at face value for who they are? The face value was and is that Aj is someone I love. Her being Pagan changed none of the things that are intrinsic to her, merely my perceptions of them…and not for long as I realized that my perceptions of worth were incorrect. I could not write off the human and friend because I couldn’t live with a difference in faith given that I was the one that had changed…

Aj is my “best friend that is not my wife”. She will be for as long as she will allow me. She answers all my silly questions about her beliefs. She corrects my mistakes and lives with some of my misgivings and uncomfortableness with some aspects of her’s. *editorial, tarot and divination make me uncomfortable* She puts up with a bunch from me because I overthink everything. She also teaches me to understand the parts of Paganism that I am comfortable with…and a whole bunch of other stuff like, how to be a good husband when I need advice. *grins* If she weren’t a Pagan, you’d think “what a nice Christian Lady”. *editorial, she’ll give me some static for “nice” because she wouldn’t use that word to describe herself* Anyway, unless she told you, you wouldn’t know she’s not Christian…

Remember the quiz? I’ve just been talking about the pharmacist. The second, I’ve known for some years and found out a week ago that she’s Pagan/Wiccan. I had no idea. We never talked about it. I thought that anyone that loves Christmas as much as she does must be Christian and gave it no more thought. The nanny is a “nice young lady” that was my first impression and I’ve found no reason to change it. Yeah, she’s also Pagan. The quiet girl that gives you the sandwich, I worked with. Cute as a bug when she wears a sundress *editorial, I think that’s what it’s called, she can correct me if she remembers the day we visited when I was cooking ribs* very smart and, again, Pagan. You’d never guess any of these if you looked at them. They might wear a necklace or something but, they don’t carry a banner that says “Hey, look at me, I’m Pagan”. They just go about their lives and leave it to you to like them as humans or not. None of them were what I expected them to be. I was surprised every time that they were not Christian.

In the end, I keep learning that there’s no stereotypical witch. People are people. They are the many varieties that, my belief, God made. They are unique and wonderful. They have an infinite ability to surprise me with the depths of their belief and convictions. To presuppose that if they do not conform to my faith and worldview denies me their insights. I have learned from Pagans. I have learned from Aj. I am a better Christian and husband for knowing some of the ones I do. I am far more accepting and far less prone to judge.

*exhale*

I realized it comes down to this, I choose to see people with faith. I learned that having  a different basis for that does not remove the basic idea of belief in something greater than yourself. I don’t like every Pagan I know but, I don’t like every Christian I know either. Paganism is “wrong”…for me but, not them…I should have realized that from the start. In the end, I did. I sleep better at night knowing that Aj cares and light candles for me. I’ll give it this, the soul searching was not wasted because I did grow. It wasn’t fun but, it was needed. Out of that pain came insight. I learned that my path is not the only path and the sole lock on morality or faith. Now, and you may ask anyone after Aj, when I find out that an unexpected person is Pagan, my first response is very probably, “cool”…and it is because of the people that God created to live that faith. Caring and compassion, kindness and love, independence and individuality are keystones to Paganism, as is a willingness to accept others the way they are without trying to change them. Proselytizing and evangelism are not, they will live their lives as they are called to and, if you join that path, it is because of their example, we Christians could learn from that, too. We could learn that, if we want someone to “convert”, the best way is by sharing our lives and not our dogmatic views of Sin and Hell.

*exhale again*

Please think on that. You may disagree with my conclusion about Aj…and the rest but, that’s yours to deal with. For me, I’ll gladly take the humans that have offered to let me know them and not judged me. I have gained and I have been blessed for knowing them. It hurt to change my views but, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Humans…that happen to be Pagan…

Aj Was My First Pagan…

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time I was an addict. Jan 6, 2006 that changed.  The way I had changed was to find God. My finding included a bunch of reading the Bible and becoming very rigid in the way I saw the World. I was a very much “black and white” person in my moral compass. I was also a very rigid person with my beliefs. Yeah, the sense of humor and basic kindness were there but, there was also a lack of patience and a general sense of frustration. I was an a$$ and enjoyed it. I thought I was being loving…and was not…

A few, 3 years, later I met the lady I would marry in ’10. Truth be told, she was and is more “rigid” in the way she thinks. It is a part of her, given the rest of the construct that she is, I live with it. I love my wife without condition. As my father says, “we all have our flat sides”. I have mine and she her’s.

‘Nother year passes. There is a stupid Facebook game, MafiaWars, I used to play. It is PvP and typically forces personal conflict. I am GOOD at conflict. It fit my desire and enjoyment of my ability to be a sarcastic bully a$$hole. Because of that, I bumped into a Lady named Aj. She is, her word, a bitch. She says she’s good at and enjoys it Given that, it makes sense that we would bump heads. We did. We also became friends. *editorial, yes, if you spend enough time tapping on a Wall and messages, real friendships happen on Fb. Pen pals are also friends*

Other year has gone by. I make a snarky post paraphrasing Monty Python, “burn the witch”. It was just me being a smart a$$. Kind of a semi-random vent in, what I thought, was a safe direction…Aj replied, “some of your best friends are witches…”

Hunh? Wait a sec. What are you implying? You’re not a CHRISTIAN lady? You’re one of those weird people that believes in (fill in the blank) practices? No. That can’t be. You don’t seem crazy. You’re NORMAL…just like me…

The thing is, I had known her for a year. We had gotten the start of becoming “close”. I had learned to trust her judgment. She had become a female friend I could go to for advice about my wife. *forgot to mention, at 47 I had never been married. My wife is my first one. In fact, first marriage for either of us. Very single…* She had started the path to becoming my best friend…and the she tells me “that”…and it “boggled my tiny pea brain”. It rattled my world. How could I trust someone that was one of “those”? Those people are CRAZY. She can’t be. She’s normal, damn it…

*sigh*

Aj is normal…for her. I’m not Pagan. She is. I “get” some parts of Paganism. Some have zero appeal to me. That’s fine. I’ve asked questions, a lot of questions, and tried to understand and realized it really doesn’t matter. Her beliefs are hers, not mine. In some ways, she’s a better “christian” than some of the Christians I know…I digress…

In the conversations that followed, we both came to the realization that we were becoming, and welcoming, best friends. *I had some time off of work due to pneumonia and a leg injury so, we had a lot of time to talk* I think she was the one that said it first. I was thinking it and leaving the thought unvoiced because I didn’t want to presume that my “best friendship” was unwanted or unreciprocated.

You gotta understand, I can, and want to, be very rigid in what I think is “right and proper”. I like being rigid. It feels safe. The ex-addict in me craves safety. I need things to fit into boxes. Everything has to have its place in the order of my world. Aj shattered that order and those boxes. Blew them to tiny bits…

This blog is a direct result of my chance comment. The fact that I am willing to unbend is attributable to her. Her openness and willingness to be unashamedly and unreservedly open with me and put up with all my questions have been a huge part. The fact that I had to realize that just because she wasn’t Christian didn’t make her evil also plays a part. Her compassion toward me made all the difference. She could have said, “just another damn Christian that’s gonna hate me” and didn’t but, rather, took the time to try to explain…over and over…what her path was, made, forced me, to change my views.

I had two choices, accept all of Aj or reject her. I love Aj. She’s my “best friend that is not my wife”. I knew that was possible before I knew she is Pagan. It became a reality afterward. The point being, if she had hidden, we probably wouldn’t be close. There would always be some distance between us. She trusted that I could, and would, change or she would reject me. I am entirely grateful to her for taking the chance and making the time to teach me.

I am not the person I was four years ago. Aj teaches me…sometimes by putting a long distance boot in my a$$. I am a work in progress…we all are…The posts about love and LBGT Rights and Religious Freedom are her “fault”. They really are. If she had never “came out” to me, I wouldn’t have unbent. If she wasn’t willing to look past my anger and desire to take quick offense and see something in me, I wouldn’t attempt to learn.

Aj is brutally honest. She has the same quick temper that I have. She just expresses it as exasperation toward “willful ignorance”, mine. She does not tolerate my tendency to put myself down. She just won’t let me. As a result, I either grow or reject her, not just her words but, her. I’d rather cut off my hand than reject her. To do that would mean I have to close off a part of my heart that has been recently opened and is growing. I like the part of me that has, over the last 4 years, learned to love. I like the patience I’m still learning. I enjoy the fact that, by becoming more open minded, it has expanded the groups of people I’m willing to know. I could never go back to who I was. That would mean I’d have to turn away from Aj. Not gonna happen. Besides, who could I tease, and be comfortable doing it with, about being “topless”…in the Jeep? *grins*

She’s more comfortable in her own skin than anyone I know. I am entirely comfortable with her.

I have learned to “adapt”. I can not bring myself to consign her to Hell. She is not Christian, and the morality I was raised with, does not apply. By her lights…and mine…there is nothing wrong with the way she lives her life. It is a very short step from there to my own heresy. It didn’t take but that realization for me to figure out that my rules do not apply to everyone. My rules apply to me. As she says, her beliefs do not include the concept of “sin” and, as a result, sin doesn’t apply. I agree. It’s a Christian concept and applies to Christians…not Pagans.

She made me question my entire construct and she didn’t even mean to. I suppose me being a Heretic Christian is the outgrowth of that. I no longer question who or how someone loves. I am not a “universalist” but, I can not believe that Aj is going to Hell. Her heart is as pure and true to itself as any I have ever seen. THAT heart does not deserve the fate that “conventional” Christians would assign to it; I will not.

Anyway, once upon a time, there was a very rigid man…no longer…

Aj was “my first Pagan”. She came out to me…and that has made all the difference.

Sin and Being Gay

 

I have been thinking about the relationship between the concept of Christian Sin and being gay. I have had to use my life experience as an addict as a starting point.

It is my view that sin is a willful act of disobedience to Gods will. The operative word is “willful”. From my perspective, I was an addict. Both the use and the path I took to get to the use required multiple acts of will on my part. For me, I was in a state of  rebellion because I had taken a path that removed from the love that is in God.

Based on my conversations with Z, there was not a set of actions that were volition on her part. She did not decide on a path that lead to being gay. She did not seek it out. It is the way she was created.

That’s where I find the difference between what I lived and what she lives is. My life and rebellion was something I wanted and sought. There came a time, through faith, that I was granted relief from it. It was not a part of me. I was not created an addict.

Z is different. She could no more become “un-gay” than she could become “un-female”. There was no volition on her part. She is the way she was created to be.

 

I don’t know any other way to simplify it other than to use those examples. In my view, sin is an act that removes us from Grace. Sin is personal to the individual. I think people can use substances and not be outside the Will of God. I am not one. I also think that being the way you are created and accepting it is part of the Will of God. That, by doing that, you become closer because you do not feel condemned and separated from His love.

I have bias. I trust Z with my fears. When I do, I go to her for prayer. I believe her faith is strong and she lives within the Will of God. By necessity, I will not believe that her nature is sin.

*****

I wrote the previous part last night. I have been pondering on what constitutes “sin” in the 8 years and change since I became sober. This is not some randomly new idea for me. It has not come about to, merely, justify Z. Like I put above, I DO have bias, though.

The thing, in all fairness, is that I also believe that being gay can be sin if the person involved believes that they are in rebellion to the will of God. Sin is personal. By the same token, I believe ANY personal act that we, as individuals, believe removes us from God’s will could be sin. I just don’t think that it is our place, as outsiders, to judge what is an inner condition.

As I have grown older, I’ve become far less legalistic. I’ve watched scriptural laws be disregarded to suit social and scientific change. The view that has remained constant is the idea of “active rebellion.” This is the point that I am at. That being gay is not “active” because there is no “choice”. No one, given the current state of things, would willingly choose to be repressed and reviled. No one would pick the difficulties. I think that is overlooked.

These are my thoughts. I am sure there are people that will disagree.

I Really Don’t Want to Go to Work Today

I saw a pic of Z yesterday. I liked the pic so much I wished I was there. She was fishing. She had a tiny little fish and a big smile. The day was sunny and the water calm. It looked like a great day…

Then I went in to work. I have a co-worker that is rabidly homophobic. The worst kind. He clothes it in “they are sinners and are going to Hell”. That’s the kind of thing that makes me wish he would just come out and say “i believe the parts of the Bible that I can make read the way I want and ignore the rest”. In all honesty, my attitude toward the guy is neither kind nor Christian. When I see him, my temper flares. I want to make the VERY unprofessional statement “shut the Hell up!” At some point I probably will. On the up side, he thinks I’m going to Hell, too. It’s because I was thinking about that picture and defended my friend that the a$$ didn’t even know he was talking about.

My commitment was “Every day I will make some kind of public comment, be it verbal, Facebook status, adding a picture, or blog post in support of my friends and family.” Yesterday, it was to talk to that guy. Today, it is this…and probably “talking” at that guy. It’s not hard to defend/support my friends and family because I love them dearly. Yeah, Aj and Z fit both groups. I list those two dear ladies as “cousins” even though there is no blood tie.

I really don’t want to go in because bigot asses wear me out.

Kindness and a Hug

I wish there were fonts for kindness. If I had one, I’d like to be able to use it on a few or these. *editorial, that’s not the only font I wish they made*

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

I’d like to be able to have a civil dialogue. I’d like to sit down with a person, just one, and ask “why” ? Why have you decided that you can be actively mean to my friends? Why do you think that they are “sinners” and think that theirs is any greater than yours or mine? Why do you care what they do? Why do you go to websites that show them support and tell them that they are going to Hell. Why do you question their faith and not hold a mirror to your own? Why do you feel like they are a threat?

I’d like to be able to listen to their answers.

I’d like to be able to reply with my own path to deciding that I have come to a point where I disagree. I’d like to be able to explain how, when I read the Bible, I’m told to focus on my own actions and that I am not instructed to react out of hate or disgust but, out of love. I’d truly enjoy being able to help them find some peace within themselves. I’d love to be able to bring Aj and Z into the room and introduce them and give them a hug. *editorial, they each live about a thousand miles away in different directions and I’d love to be able to give them a hug. don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. sigh* I wish I could find a way to convince the people that have said “God didn’t create your friends that way” for them to believe, as I do, that God DID make them just the way they are.

I wish we could have a conversation that was not wrapped in strong emotion but, in kindness. I wish that I could find a way to explain that saying hurtful things does not convince people to see your views. I wish I could find a way to explain that, if I decide that someone is going to Hell, then, I’ve decided I know better than God. I wish I could find a way to change the hearts of people so that we could realize that our job is to “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” That when we have decided that we are called to hate, then we have failed ourselves and our neighbor. I wish that there were a way to convince people that “love the sinner but, hate the sin” is not love.

I really wish there were fonts for emotional loading. *sigh* I hope that if you read these words that you realize this is not a rant but, a plea for kindness. I wish they might give me a lever or an insight. I also wish I could give Aj and Z a hug.

Why I Write

I would say I’m excited to be able to write. I like to write. I wish I could quit. I wish the reasons for writing this blog would go away and I could write memes or recipes or some silly thoughts I’ve had. I don’t get to, though.

I admit, I have some emotional loading when I write these. It is that I am writing for people I care about. I will admit that because of the people I write for, Aj and Z, that I am not objective. I will always try to see things from their perspective and my views will always be shaded to put them in the best light. It doesn’t really bother me that I do that.

I also know that, just looking at the numbers, these posts are probably not going to make much difference. There are, roughly, 7 billion people in the world. On a good day, 50 read these. Kind of skews the odds against making any sort of meaningful change. That doesn’t really bother me, either.

It is my privilege to be allowed, by Aj and Z, to write for them. Have you ever known someone that you want to do “nice” things for, not counting a spouse or “significant other”? If you have, then you understand some of my motivation. I’ll always be on their side. *editorial, said that a time or six*

In some ways, their issues are not mine because I’ll never be Pagan, in one case, or gay, in the other case. In the ways that count, they are both dear to me and pray for me, their issues are mine because those ladies share a part of my heart. As a result, I continue to write. I continue to try to convince my coreligionists that they are not a threat. I will try to convince anyone that will listen that it is entirely possible to be gay and Christian. I will always make the attempt to say that if you don’t want Christianity to be perceived as a threat by other faiths, you should not be a threat. I will continue to repeat that quoting dogma without doing any looking at it is dangerous and wrong.

So, with all of that up front, here we go…Jesus never said a single word about being gay. Please do not tell me that it is impossible to be gay and Christian because you believe that being gay is a sin. If you believe that being gay is a choice and that Z can become “un-gay” by wanting to be, then we are going to entirely disagree. If you believe that no one that is a sinner is “allowed” to be a Christian, then there are NO Christians. Interestingly enough, that would include Jesus. 2 Cor 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf…” Wonder how that got in there? Jesus was sin. Perhaps the focus should not be on the perception of what Z might, in your view, be doing wrong? Perhaps, you might consider the nature of dogma and blindly following it?

Being Pagan is a different set of issues. Pagans have to hide. At least, that’s what I’ve learned. It is because they are misunderstood. Because they are not one of the “mainstream” faiths of the world and because of their individualism, they have no “voice”. They do not practice, at least none of the ones I know, “black magic”. They do not want you to be snared by their magik at all. They just want you to leave them alone. They would appreciate a little respect since their faith is older than yours. Yeppers, hate to say this but, worshiping Nature predates Christianity. We are their younger siblings. Not that I’ll ever be Pagan but, for their beliefs to have lasted as long as they have, they must be doing something right.

Freedom to love without persecution will always be close to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s the person’s faith or who. They are intertwined issues. When we say, “I disapprove of how you love and I am willing to repress your life”, then we are not acting out of love. It really is as simple as saying “I love you” and applying no other conditions. It is NEVER my place to decide that love is a sin. It is NEVER my place to put terms or conditions on how another loves. I said, way up there, my views are biased. I have learned, from Aj and Z, that what stupidly dogmatic views I used to hold are just that, stupidly dogmatic. Faith and love are not reasoned decisions. They are personal and no one’s place to judge. Because I expect my rights, I’m going to stand up for the rights of Aj and Z.

*editorial, you will never convince me that being either Pagan or gay are a sin. you can try, if you wish but, if you use OT text to make your point, please be very sure that you are also following it “every jot and tiddle”*

In the Image of God

I have some good news and bad news. “God created man in His own image.” That’s both the good and bad news.

More good news and bad news. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

Last bit of good and bad news. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”

Given these three thoughts, in the context of this blog, we are created by God. He knew how we would turn out before we were born. That it is not our place to try to figure out why He did what He did. That means that it is His intent for some of us to be gay, straight, Christian, Pagan, or what ever other characteristic that you would care to name. It means, specifically, that it was His intent for Z to be gay. It was His intent for Aj to be Pagan. It was His intent for me to defend them.  I would ask, if you are a Christian, that you ponder that train of thought.

I would also ask, if you are a Christian, to ponder this thought. The concept of “free will” does not exist in the Bible. Please look, if you don’t believe me. I would submit that, in context, the words “free” and “will” do not exist side by side. I’ve looked because I’ve struggled, and still do, with that idea. That means, in my opinion, that we do not get to choose who we love, how we love, or what our faith is.

My friends are created in the Image of God. I am created in the Image of God. You are created in the Image of God. It was His intent for us to be the way He created us. He does not create junk. Please do not treat His Creations that way. Please give them the love that they deserve. Trust that when He makes something that He had his reasons.

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I know that my friends of other faiths will not see this from my perspective. I’m neither trying to convert nor condemn you. I will always have a Christian world view. That’s the way God made me.