Wednesday, December 10

He Calls Himself Love

I read an article in Newsweek today entitled Our Mutual Joy written by Lisa Miller.  I have to admit that I was surprised by some of her findings...surprised, that is, by the way she interpreted the scriptures that come from a book she views as "a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history". In this article, she is stating the case for gay marriage.  She stands very clearly on her opinion that the gay community should not be judged for their decisions.  She compares their acts to the acts of other Biblical figures...polygamists, adulterers, murderers, etc.  This is the truth she relies on:  "If we are all God's children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color—and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that. People get married "for their mutual joy."  This particular statement was made by Rev. Chloe Breyer. Miller also goes on to point out that Jesus reached out to the outcasts.  He placed on special emphasis on those who did not fit into the "religious" category of that time.

She is right about Jesus.  He was concerned with reaching out to those who did not fit into the religious walls.  He was all about dining with the sinners and tax collectors.  She is right in saying that any one of or straight...could come to the Lord and know Him as our Father.  But her words break my heart.  They break my heart much the same way my own actions and words...or lack words...have done so.  This is the closing statement in the article:

More basic than theology, though, is human need. We want, as Abraham did, to grow old surrounded by friends and family and to be buried at last peacefully among them. We want, as Jesus taught, to love one another for our own good—and, not to be too grandiose about it, for the good of the world. We want our children to grow up in stable homes. What happens in the bedroom, really, has nothing to do with any of this. My friend the priest James Martin says his favorite Scripture relating to the question of homosexuality is Psalm 139, a song that praises the beauty and imperfection in all of us and that glorifies God's knowledge of our most secret selves: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." And then he adds that in his heart he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for "Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad." Let the priest's prayer be our own.

I sit here wanting to cry about the whole thing.  Not because Miller is wrong and I am upset by her words to a large audience...not at all.  But because these are the words of our generation whether from those claim to be Christians and those who do not.  These are the words I have ignorantly sided with when given occasion to "figure out" the truth "for myself".  The bedroom IS the place of deepest intimacy.  It is the place where our flesh becomes one flesh...our hearts are joined into one.  I would have to argue that it is the place where our spirits and our souls take direction from the body.  How could it not affect us on the outside.  It either deepens or shallows who we are.  It either value or devalues our very soul.  Ask an abused child whether or not the bedroom made a difference, or a man or woman who has sold themselves for money.  Ask a victim of rape.  Ask someone who struggles with pornography.  Ask someone who struggles with sexual addictions.  Ask these people if they leave their shame behind closed doors.  Ask them how they set their darkness aside in a neat and tidy box as if it never happened.  Tell me then, that God did not see these things in advance...that He did not make a way for us to be pure.  Because He did.  And whether you read a few lines or the entire book from beginning to end...God clearly spoke about how to walk in pure and healthy relationships.

How far is too far?  Where are the boundary lines?  What is the difference between lust and passion?  Love and selfishness?  We have fought for our right to make our own decisions, walk about in freedom.  We have argued that God's grace is sufficient and far reaching.  We have claimed to be God's children.  And then, when given the opportunity, we serve ourselves...we serve our own ambitions...our own feelings...our own ideas of truth.  We turn back to Him and we say, "Thanks...thank you very much...I'll take it from here...make it my it my way.  I don't want to hear your advice about love.  I think I know now.  I can figure it out."  And little by little...we walk away from the greatest relationship we could have ever known.  

We walk away as if He never truly reached out to us anyway.  The gifts that He gives become more important.  More important than Him.  I think that's called idolatry.  And I think He said something about hating that very thing.  Because idols destroy our hearts.  Idols destroy the passion that drives our hearts.

If we were truly honest, looked deep down inside...we would remember when our hearts became broken.  It could have been long before the tears began to roll, the addictions took hold, the desperation set in.  We would remember...a day, an evening, a month, a season....when we began to compromise on that still small voice.  The moments where we had nothing to stand we did not stand at all.  We would remember the question..."Is this OK?"  "Why do I feel like something is wrong?"  We would remember the difference between peace and unsettledness.  We would remember a song, a scripture, a phrase...that rolled around and around in our mind...a thought that would just not go away.  We would remember the moments of giving in, giving over, giving up.  Moments of shying away from those who might have held us accountable to a higher standard.  Moments of running away from being anywhere near the influence of an all-seeing God.  

It was the sin that broke our hearts.  It was at the moment where we ignored the guidelines He gave us...the truth He put in His word...sin separated us from separated us from separated us from the joy we were meant to know...from the peace we were meant to walk in.

So many of us are driving home late at night and in the early morning hours...remembering that our hearts are broken.  We are waking up in the morning with a cry in our heart that says, "this can't be right".  So many of us are half the people we should be.  We stumble on...chasing after what we think we know to be true...trying to make it true...trying to make it all work out.  We are surviving.

But He wants to heal us.  He wants to make us full again.  He wants to give us the desire of our hearts.  God is a loving Father who wants to give better gifts than our fathers could ever think to give.  He sent accept save set us free.  He knew we could not free ourselves.  He knew we would never make it on our own.  He wanted to know us.  He wanted us to know Him.  Religion was never in His heart...relationship was.

The real issue here...fellow not whether gays should marry.  The real issue is how do we show Christ's love in a way that captures their hearts...and the hearts of every other person who does not yet know Him?  How do we point them to the love of all loves?  How do WE find the love of all loves?  How do WE walk in purity and truth?

How do we let go of our own agendas....our own ambitions....our own ideas of what love should be?  How do we follow the God who calls Himself LOVE?  Because then I think they would want to hear what we had to say.