In Ten or Twenty Years

A few years ago, as I was getting ready to attend a friend’s birthday party, I got a phone call that I wasn’t expecting. A guy I worked with in public safety, a good Christian with a strong family, had a major problem – his young teenage daughter told him she was a lesbian, and he discovered that she was being aggressively pursued by an adult woman who was undeterred by his warnings that his daughter was well below the age of consent. I apologized to my other friend and raced to my buddy’s house to find this woman standing on his front doorstep, in full PRIDE mode, reading him the riot act about how “love is love, you don’t get to tell your kid who she’s allowed to love!”

I lost it. Before I had even said hello, I rode right up on her six and unleashed on her. I started with, “what part of JAIL BAIT do you fail to understand?!?” From there I explained (at the top of my lungs, because it’s only fair the the neighbors hear the rebuke at nearly midnight) that the fact that he wanted to protect his 14-year-old from ANY predator, male or female, did not make him a hatemonger. I suppose hearing another obvious lesbian tear into her did the trick, because she all but ran away and they never heard from her again. I spent the next three hours talking to the teenager about how gays and lesbians can be just as predatory as straight people, she was too young for sexual activity at age 14, and she needed to give her parents time to adjust to her talking about being gay. It took a couple of weeks but she finally accepted the fact that her parents didn’t judge her for being gay – they only wanted to protect her. It was typical teenage angst for her to assume that her parents wanted this woman out of her life merely because it was a same-sex relationship.

Recently, a slightly similar situation unfolded, albeit without the creepy older woman yelling at the front door. Another public safety colleague, one of the toughest old grizzled men I know, called me in tears. I could hear yelling and screaming in the background. His 16-year old daughter told them all that she thought she might be a lesbian. They had always been against gay marriage and attended a church that regularly taught you should not consort with gay people. Her revelation had been a massive shock to them. The “outing,” as it were, had happened nearly a week prior – his wife and older daughter had called in the youth pastor and some of her friends from church to stage an intervention, and it was ending in disaster. He didn’t know what to do; all he knew was that he was about to lose his daughter and he couldn’t stand it.

I had just gotten off shift so I rushed to his house. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have long been used to being the peacemaker, just not with people I know personally. Tossing a complete stranger off of a friend’s property is very different from pulling family members apart. I arrived to find the argument still in full swing – and the youth pastor was not helping at all. He was feeding the tension. I politely stopped all discussion and asked that everyone separate. EVERYONE. When the youth pastor objected (quite loudly), I asked him to leave. “The goal here is to make peace,” I said, “and you’re not helping that end. Please, go home.” I felt absolutely stunned that he left and my friend’s wife never blew up at me, because as soon as I told him to leave I fully expected her to.

I took my friend out to the back yard and let him unload. He told me about his daughter coming out, saying she wasn’t certain but she thought she was probably a lesbian. No, she didn’t have a girlfriend, but that could change at any moment. He didn’t think she had become sexually active. His wife had spent four days since not speaking to their younger daughter at all. His son was away at college and didn’t know what was going on, but he was about to, because someone had sent him several text messages just before the intervention. His older daughter had done nothing but get angry for the past four days. Nobody asked him about this intervention, but apparently his wife had roped the youth pastor and a handful of her friends from church into talking her into “gay rehab.” The situation rapidly spiraled out of control when the younger daughter refused to agree to it and the youth pastor started goading everyone to speak up and quoting scripture very loudly, as if he were preaching a sermon. As we talked, his son called him – without asking what was going on, his son told him, “kick those idiots out of the house right now or we’ll never see her again.”

Without hesitation, he turned to me and asked if I would talk to his family. I’ve never in my life had nervousness set in that suddenly – my heart skipped a beat and my breath caught in my throat. I managed to eek out a, “sure,” and in a fog followed him back inside. His wife was in her room. The older daughter was on the couch with their friends. The younger daughter was in her room, sobbing almost uncontrollably. I told my friend not to pick any fights and go sit in his study. I asked the friends to leave; they did protest, at which point I said, “I grew up in your culture. I went to private Christian school. I was even homeschooled for a little while. I know exactly what you’ve been taught and I know exactly what you’re trying to do here. It’s not helping. So when you all decide that it’s better to love your friend than judge her, feel free to come back. For now, go home.” One opened her mouth again but I pointed at the door and said, “OUT!” It was louder and more forceful than intended, but they did as I wanted. It felt so strange to once again be throwing perfect strangers out of a friend’s house, but it was the only way the peace would be kept.

The one thing that made things settle down almost immediately was the revelation that I’m a lesbian, but I’m conservative. They didn’t think such a creature existed. One of the things they had been most afraid of was how her politics would turn (which I couldn’t help but laugh at). Another of their big issues was, “what will our friends at church think?”

That last one threw me for a loop. I had heard that sort of thing before but had never encountered it personally (aside from my own personal fear after I came out). How could a parent so readily reject their own child because their church congregation may not approve?

There’s no excuse. I can possibly understand the fear that a child will be hurt, drastically change their politics, never have children, or even walk away from their faith…I do not and will never understand judgment from church being a reason. Sitting there listening to this teenager’s mother talk about how the church will never approve I had a very difficult time not lashing out at her. I allowed her to finish and then, as calmly and professionally as I could, let her know that their approval was not an acceptable reason to reject any member of her family. It wasn’t worth it. If you continue to allow that to be a deciding factor in your reaction, I explained, one day you would regret it and wish you had her back.

It didn’t fix everything. The idea was to get everyone to calm down and think, and that goal was achieved. I’ve talked to my friend and his daughter over the phone several times since then. I’ve tried to impress upon her the importance of respecting her parents even if she doesn’t agree with them or they’re flat wrong. I’ve tried to make sure she understands that 16 is not old enough to start having sex, and she needs to save that for adulthood – and the right person. I still feel inadequate to be in the role I find myself in, but I would rather they make the attempt than give up, which I feel like they all want to do sometimes.

It kills me to see so many families still being torn apart by an unwillingness to accept their children no matter what. Yet another friend recently let slip that a child in her care has come out and it isn’t going well. I hope that soon we won’t have to worry about this quite as much anymore.

Until then, I beg of everyone – ask yourself what you’ll think and feel ten years from now. If you disown your child when they come out, will you still be happy with that choice in ten or twenty years? Is losing face with your friends really worth it?

WWJD?

As a conservative, I voted for Jan Brewer. I felt no qualms in doing so. I’ve been irritated with some of her choices of late, mainly her decisions regarding Child Protective Services, but I have been impressed with her refusal to back down on issues such as Second Amendment rights and immigration issues.

Now, as a lesbian, I’m sitting here with my breath on hold. The state senate and house of representatives have both passed SB 1062. Now all that waits is Governor Brewer’s decision – sign it into law, veto it, or take no action and let it become law.

The bill came about after multiple lawsuits and civil complaints brought against business owners in several states. Gay couples preparing to hold marriage ceremonies are running into bakeries and photographers who are refusing to do business with them because the business owners are Christians and don’t agree with homosexuality, let alone gay marriage. When this happens it makes the news. It also typically goes straight to court. Several states, including Kansas, Ohio, and Kentucky have all drawn up laws with the intent of preserving “religious freedom” and protecting business owners who want to refuse service to gays based on their religious beliefs. Arizona, however, is the first state to come this far in passing that legislation. All other states have dropped it.

I’ve read the bill. It’s short and simple enough to understand. The big problem I have is that it’s pretty ambiguous in its language. In short, the bill literally says that any business can refuse service to anyone and claim a “sincerely held religious belief” to avoid being sued or penalized by the government under discrimination laws. That means this would stand to affect more than just gay people; it could spread to racial and religious discrimination very quickly.

I have said before and will say again that I will only support gay marriage rights as long as the rights of churches to refuse to perform gay weddings is preserved. Churches should never be forced to engage in practices that go against their beliefs. For the record, I think if a caterer or a photographer doesn’t agree with gay marriage they shouldn’t have to be forced to do business with gay couples. I think that if a gay couple knows that they’re going to a Christian-owned business that won’t want to help with their ceremony, they’re inviting disaster in the form of poor, shoddy work. The problem that I have with SB 1062 is that it is far too broad and flings the door wide open for all kinds of discrimination to be excused by religion.

In reality, however, this is little more than an exercise in stupidity by the socially conservative hard right. This is more of the same from social conservatives who claim to want limited government and then turn around and expect the government to legislate personal and moral issues. Rather than minding their own business and learning to live and let live, they want everyone to snap to and agree to their brand of morality a la legislation. If anyone dared suggest allowing Sharia courts anywhere in the United States (something I vehemently refuse to support, in case anyone was wondering), these folks would be up in arms in a heartbeat, as well they should. But they have no issue at all with trying to legislate from their own pulpit.

Mushy moderates like John McCain and Jeff Flake know how strong their social base is and they play to it. During the last election, both Arizona senators openly supported the social conservatives who were worried about gay marriage and gave them exactly the answers they knew that base wanted to hear. Now that both of those senators have come out in the Gang of Eight and agreed to come to some kind of compromise on gun control, those socials are crying foul. They just can’t understand this kind of betrayal.

You don’t get to feign ignorance now. You were more worried about those damned social issues than you were about the economy, amnesty, taxes, healthcare, and gun rights. Because that was your primary concern, we’re all stuck with men representing us who are willing to sell us out. The problem is that you are still refusing to see that truth. The liberals are thoroughly enjoying the resultant mess and watching the conservative side implode. They are the ones that will win this war because you simply cannot let go of issues that have no bearing whatsoever on what’s really destroying us right now – the economy, Obamacare, amnesty, and rising taxes. Cities are going broke and some states are well on their way and we’re still kibitzing about gay marriage.

Of course, none of this is to mention the breathtaking arrogance of social conservatives. Your whole beef is that you should be allowed to refuse to do business with someone because they’re gay and you don’t agree with homosexuality. Do you really think Jesus would approve of putting up a sign in your restaurant asking gay people to stay away? Do you think Jesus would applaud you for turning away a patient because you didn’t want to treat a gay person? What would Jesus say if he were standing in front of you while you called all gay people pedophiles and screamed for them to be stripped of their rights? What happened to “whatever you do unto the least of these”? If you support this farce of a law, then go out and scrape that WWJD sticker off your car and take that cross necklace off. You obviously don’t remember what Jesus said about how you’re supposed to treat other people.

Social Conservatism Strikes Again

For some time now, I’ve been a fan of the “Liberal Logic 101” page on Facebook. Considering just how hypocritical most liberals can be (need I remind anyone that I get plenty of hate from liberals for being a lesbian who is politically conservative?), it’s hard not to smile at the sarcasm of some of their posts. On my profile, I describe myself thus: “I am the flag-waving, gun-toting, tea-partying American badass with a genius IQ that your hippie friends warned you about. I stole your girlfriend while you were banging on drums at the Occupy Wall Street camp.”

Yesterday the moderators at LL101 posted another word pic that said, “When a Christians [sic] says homosexuality is sin it’s not hate; it’s one wounded person telling another wounded person that he’s found a hospital that can treat those wounds.” I didn’t attack anyone (I never do). I was absolutely respectful in my response. I told them that I’m not willing to call it hate and I completely respect their rights to believe that my sexual orientation is a sin, but I disagree with their beliefs about it.

I was immediately attacked. A few minutes later, my comments were removed and I was banned from the page.

I’m not going to cry about my First Amendment rights. Those rights are meant to protect me from the government, not from other law-abiding citizens (no matter how childish they may be). They have every right to ban me. I will tell them and their true believers, though, that their social conservatism is a huge part of the problem in America right now, and they’re giving all conservatives a bad name.

YOU PEOPLE are the reason why gay liberals lash out at me for “aligning with my oppressors.” You’re not conservatives – you’re social extremists. You are the reason Romney lost the election. You refused to get out and vote for him because he wasn’t socially-minded enough for you. He wasn’t willing to make his stance against abortion and gay marriage the most important part of his platform. Now we’re stuck with the President from hell, a guy who appoints people to the IRS and the DoD who openly attack our basic rights and destroys not only our economy but our image on the world stage as the one country you shouldn’t screw around with.

You are no better than the liberals you claim to dislike. You say you want limited government, but you want to push laws that give the government more power over personal moral issues? How is that limiting government? The instant you ask the government to start moralizing, you fling the door open for the other side (in this case, the liberals) to do the exact same thing. Liberals make the same excuse that you make: “it’s just WRONG!” If your only excuse for supporting or not supporting a law is your religious views, chances are you should reevaluate your motives. The Constitution doesn’t support the passage of laws that are based purely on religious dogma – whether that dogma is Christian, Catholic, Mormon, or Muslim.

The most ridiculous thing I frequently hear from social conservatives is, “if we don’t stop the gay rights movement, G-d will give up on America!” Yes, social conservatives really do believe this sort of thing. We are one of VERY few nations that is closely allied with Israel and we have afforded Jews – G-d’s chosen people, in case you missed it – more protection and freedom than any other nation in the world, but somehow they’ve come to the conclusion that the gay rights movement is going to be G-d’s final straw. Israel is literally the only gay-friendly nation in the Middle East and G-d hasn’t stopped protecting them (at least if you see it from a spiritual perspective), so I have to ask, where are you guys getting this ridiculous belief that America will fall out of G-d’s good graces if you show tolerance for gay people?

Your refusal to even engage conservatives like me on what is likely the only issue we disagree on is the very thing that gay liberals point to when they try to make the point that all conservatives are hatemongers. If you don’t like that label, then do something to change it. No, it’s not hateful to disagree with my sexual orientation. It is hateful to shout me down, call me a pervert, and claim that I am all that’s wrong with America just because I’m gay – and then take away my ability to respond.

If you don’t want to be labeled a hatemonger, then change the way you treat the people you disagree with. Not all gay people are liberal, but if you wonder why so many ARE liberal, then look no further than your own mirror. I would fight to my last breath for anyone’s right to believe that I’m living in sin for being openly gay. No matter how much you may hate me, I don’t hate you. That does not mean I will be silent while you attack us.

***UPDATE***

A mutual friend tried to stand up for me. She felt that her comments might have been part of the reason I had been banned; the moderator un-banned me and said, “Be very careful in the future. Since Facebook punishes Conservatives for responding to Liberals, banning Liberals is the only way to safely maintain a free exchange of ideas.” I, naturally, was offended – I told them that I had been nothing but respectful and never attacked anyone despite being attacked myself. I quoted this very post when I told them that it wasn’t hateful to disagree, but it was to call me a pervert. I was immediately banned again – this time the excuse was, “in her one and only post-banning comment, she called people names, accused commenters of saying things they did not say and made some insulting broad-sweeping comments about Conservatives and Christians. So she is banned again. Whether or not you call yourself a Liberal or a Conservative, there is a certain level of civilized behavior we expect from people.”

I’m sorry, but here’s one of the very comments you claim was never made, by a user named Tim George: “It’s no coincidence that people who approve of homosexuality don’t understand Christianity. There are the rare few out there who are not Christians yet can see homosexuality for the disgusting perversion it is because they’re still listening to the moral code written on their hearts by God and not accepting the liberal brainwashing that most people have come to accept.” Because I’ve been banned and don’t know who the moderator is, I can’t send them a message. They have effectively cut off my ability to defend myself. Every one of my friends who have tried to back me up, no matter how civilized they are, have also been banned. We’re all pretty well convinced that I was really banned for having the gumption to hold a mirror to their face.

Calling me an “anti-Christian bigot” for disagreeing ranks right up there with the liberals who call me a racist because I can’t stand President Obama. I’ve gotten death threats from gay liberals for standing up for the rights of Christians. A few years ago, at a PFLAG meeting, a politely disagreed with a member who openly called for “hate speech laws” to shut Christians up – I was asked to leave. This is how I’m repaid. I’m accused of the opposite and shut out of any discourse because someone’s pride has been injured.

Stay classy, social conservatives!

Asleep In The Light

I identify more with Judaism now, but I was raised in a Christian home. I know the Bible better than most. I no longer celebrate Easter because it is believed that Easter actually became known as it is because of a church custom of taking pagan holidays – in this case, the celebration of Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, hence the bunnies and eggs being so popular – and “Christianizing” them so the pagan cultures would convert without having to give up centuries-held traditions.

It’s not that I don’t believe in G-d or His Grace. I just don’t believe that the church today really puts much emphasis on it these days, even though they claim to.

A rabbi that I know and deeply respect once said something to me that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “if Yeshua (Jesus) was the messiah, He certainly never intended his followers to become what they are.” He wasn’t talking about one issue in particular, he was discussing many issues in that one statement, and he was right. Christians in America can be the most arrogant, pious, and self-serving people on the planet. They do more damage to their own cause than they will ever be willing to admit, and they claim it all in the name of love.

This isn’t solely going to be an indictment on Christians for their teachings on homosexuality (although that is definitely part of it). There’s more to it than that. I’m not willing to call them hatemongers, but they are blinded by their own self-righteousness. Keith Green wrote some amazing songs that called the church out on its hypocrisy – I grew up with his music, and I still love it. What astonishes me is that he was so popular with the very people who were behaving exactly as he described:

“Oh bless me lore, bless me lord”
You know it’s all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear…

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
’cause it’s asleep in the light …

I still remember, well after Green died in a plane crash, the music minister at my church singing that song one Sunday morning. The high points of the song garnered cheering. My church, Grace Community Church of Clear Lake (now GCC Houston with two massive campuses, one on either end of the city), had a very large, beautiful facility. It was very expensive. I remember fundraising efforts to have the backlit stained-glass window installed behind the baptismal. All of the money that has been spent on that facility could have gone to a million different things, but they spent it on the latest and greatest buildings and technology.

At the time, I would have proudly defended it. We need these things, I’d say, because we need to be able to attract people to the church to hear the gospel. I now believe I was very wrong, and so were they. Knowing what I know about what went on in the offices I don’t think any of the staff were nearly as ministry-minded as I used to believe. Even I wasn’t ministry-minded; I was religious, and I couldn’t tell the difference between being religious and having faith. They really are two vastly different things. I now understand perfectly the dichotomy of that song’s message and how nobody in the congregation understood it.

In my first year of working as an EMT, I had to learn where the county homeless shelter was and who was allowed to be there. Because the homeless could go there and get three square meals, religious groups were barred from gathering to pass out food – I have since had to ask many of them to leave. Nearly all of them have gotten aggressive with me, often accusing me of being an angry lesbian (yes, it really is that obvious) who hates God and only wants to stop their “ministry”. I’ve had groups all but assault me, trying to “lay hands” on me to pray for my salvation. I know that they don’t mean to hurt me, but at the same time I can’t let them do those things. I’ve had to call police to remove them more times than I can recall.

You see, rather than offer assistance to the county to help run the shelter and kitchens, they’d rather hand out food themselves and preach. I used to do it, too, and I know exactly why they do it – to feel better about themselves. They go out on a Sunday afternoon and make a gesture that, in the end, really doesn’t mean much. Once their good deed is done for the week, they go to church on Wednesday and brag about how they did battle with the “forces of darkness” (that would be me, of course) and talk about doing it again.

Being a good Christian is about more than a big facility, expensive production equipment, and going out to hand out food to the homeless once in a while. It’s about more than saying grace before sitting down to eat. It’s about more than a cool slogan, t-shirt, bumper sticker, or the most recent devotional version of the Bible. It should be about faith. Among Christians, divorce and financial irresponsibility are rampant. They want to hold all of society accountable but they can’t even hold themselves accountable. Jesus said that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, yet we have Christian leaders (including my former pastor from Houston) telling their congregants that G-d’s blessings will make them wealthy if they only have enough faith.

The only people that Jesus specifically condemned to hell, however, were the religious leaders. He spoke seven woes upon the Pharisees and Saducees. I think if He were here in the flesh now he’d say the same thing. He’d ask, “what do you need this huge building for? Why are there pictures of the pastor all over every piece of literature this church hands out? Why are you on TV asking for donations when you already have a huge home and an expensive car? Why are you out protesting a group of people when you could be quietly living a faithful life and setting a better example – without the piousness?”

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s Easter. If it means something to you, I think it’s great – it’s between you and G-d. The next time you get into that debate and you feel the urge to shout me down, ask yourself why. Why is it so important that I force my faith on everyone through law? Was G-d’s promise to “heal their land” really meant for us, or was it simply directed at a wayward Israel? How does the gospel gain converts when you beat everyone about the head and shoulders with your beliefs and claim that they’re the same as our Founding Fathers?

If you can’t answer those questions honestly – without invoking the “this is a Christian nation” argument – then you need to question yourself. Unfortunately, I don’t think enough people out there are smart enough to do that. That is why the church will always be asleep in the light.