How Do You Relate to a Gay Family Member?

This is a tough issue for me brought on by an upcoming event in our family. My gay brother-in-law is getting joined in a civil union — sorry, but I can’t quite bring myself to use the word ‘married’ yet — and we have been invited to the reception, not the ceremony. I have mixed feelings about this event;  I don’t know if I can really ‘celebrate’ it but I’m thinking about going to support my wife. In the past, I would have refused to attend on principle but as a recovering conservative Christianliving in the gray‘ I am considering input from all sides. Recently, John Piper posted this Christian conservative perspective on relating to gay family members…

Is there hope for a relationship with a family member who is not a believer and is in a same-sex relationship, and who knows your Christian position?

Yes. One story went like this. An adult sister-in-law was in a lesbian relationship and would bring her partner to all the wider family functions when she was invited. She knew her brother-in-law’s position. Not only was she sinning to be involved sexually this way, but her very soul was in danger of eternal judgment if she did not repent. She knew that’s what he thought.

At first she was very angry and, no matter how kind or gracious or caring the Christian couple tried to be, this sister-in-law saw them as homophobic and bigoted. She assumed she was not loved and let that define the relationship.

Then one day the brother-in-law asked her: Are you able to love me in spite of my views that you think are so wrong? Yes, she said. Then, why, he asked, will you not give us the same courtesy and assume that we might be able to love you in spite of your wrong views?

Remarkably, this actually made a difference. She apologized for pushing them away, and for assuming they could not love while disapproving of her ways.

Perhaps this might help others open the hearts of relatives to their genuine care.” via How Do You Relate to a Gay Family Member? – Desiring God.

‘Living in the gray’ is a new experience for me prompted by meditation on the word ‘right’. Nietszche said “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.I’ve had to let go of a lot of the need to be right in my life and I think have made great progress, but I have to admit there are some things about what Piper says that resonate with me and I’m wondering for myself what is ‘right’ in this situation as a Christian, an American and as a person ‘related’ to another person by marriage…

First of all, I have a problem with any person, community or group that demands tolerance but does not grant it in return and I believe respect for diversity should include respect for Christians, too. 16 years ago at my son’s baptism, my brother-in-law told my wife that he wanted to kill my infant son so that he wouldn’t grow up as a Christian Conservative like us. Something like that is hard to forget. Amends were not made, but forgiveness was given on our side. We have affirmed our love for him despite his cruel remark and his sexual orientation but I don’t feel we receive the same courtesy; or I don’t anyway — I shouldn’t speak for my wife…

On a broader level, I don’t know how I feel about civil unions as an American citizen or if I should just ‘get over it’. The human rights campaign says this about DOMA — the Defense of Marriage Act passed under the Clinton Administration:

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law.  This law discriminates in two important ways.  First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples.  Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people—thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. ” via Respect for Marriage Act | Human Rights Campaign.

The Wikipedia says

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) is a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. Under the law, no U.S. state or political subdivision is required to recognize a same-sex marriage treated as a marriage in another state. Section 3 of DOMA codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriage for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors’ benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns.

Clinton and key legislators have changed their views and advocated DOMA’s repeal. The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it had determined that Section 3 was unconstitutional and, though it would continue to enforce the law, it would no longer defend it in court. In response, the House of Representatives undertook the defense of the law on behalf of the federal government in place of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Section 3 of the DOMA has been found unconstitutional in a California bankruptcy case, a California class action suit on the part of public employees, several federal district court judges in three circuit court jurisdictions, and by a unanimous United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit three-judge panel.” via Defense of Marriage Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I wanted to get Focus on the Family’s perspective on DOMA, but the results have been skewed by anti-DOMA bloggers touting Senator Al Franken’s ‘demolition’ of their perspective. More of the anti-tolerance I referred to in ‘first of all’? The ultra-conservative Christian website Stand up for the Truth! frames the debate this way:

President Obama has opened up an issue that will divide the church in this nation—and for that I thank him.  For too long many Christian leaders and individuals have been able to tap dance around the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage.  We must use this opportunity to find out where our church leaders stand on this issue and then act accordingly.

God provides us choices.  He has given us free will to choose the paths for our lives.  I believe He is now allowing a choice that will define the future of American Christianity, giving it a choice to return to Him, or fall deep into apostasy.  The sheep are being separated from the goats.  Quite frankly I am excited that this issue is now front and center.  Hopefully, once and for all, Christian leaders will have to take a stand—a stand that will clearly define what they believe about the Word of God.  Insist that your pastor and church leadership make a clear, concise statement on this issue and how we as Christians should interact with the homosexual community.

If you think we can just stick our heads in the sand and sit this battle out, you are in for a rude awakening.  The battle is on us if we wish it or not—and how we react as Christians will say a lot.” via Gay Marriage: Seperating the Sheep From the Goats | Stand Up for the Truth.

My jury is still out and I’m looking for input. I’m going to forward this post to a couple of people whose opinions I respect and ask them to weigh in in the comments below. You, of course, are welcome to do the same…

Good going…

gay marriageNice try, but does that make either one ‘right’? The Meta Picture via Good going….

The Freedom of Not Needing To Be Right

Hannah Eagle writes:

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” Friedrich Nietzsche.

Yesterday I drove my mother and father to the VA hospital in Albuquerque for a doctor’s appointment. I had never been to a VA hospital before. I guess I should have expected the numbers of crutches and canes, armless and legless veterans, young and weathered faces alike.

I was personally witnessing the costs endured when humans war against each other.

“Isn’t it odd,” I said to my mother, “that human beings war with each other?”

Why in the world do we do that?

Then I considered the ways in which we war on an interpersonal level. We humans war to varying degrees with our partners, our friends, our bosses, our co-workers, our siblings, our parents—pretty much all in the name of our need to be “right” or the need not to be wrong.

We war over ideas and beliefs that we often have never questioned. These include ideas from our upbringings, our religions, our scars and wounds, and our existential need to identify ourselves in some way.

How early did we lose our childlike wonder? When did we lose that innocent state in which we did not judge others, nor need to be “right”—when we saw the best in everything and everyone, and when it did not matter that someone was Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, republican, democrat, omnivorous, vegetarian, gay, or of a different race?

When I observe my 10-year-old grandson, he appears to have no tendency to judge other people, not yet anyway. He has no need to diminish others, nor does he feel threatened by them.

Would we, as children, have told lies about someone just because we wanted to win an election? Would we have been dismissive or even cruel to someone because they were of another race or religion? I don’t think so.

As little children we only cared that we were loved. And we were still curious about everything.

Somewhere along the way we lose our innocence and start to judge others. This becomes a primary source of our social anxiety and the undermining of our self-esteem, because if we are judging others. we fear that we are also being judged.

Could we perhaps untangle and re-do ourselves? Could we resist closing ourselves off with dogma or beliefs, prejudice, and rules? Could we allow ourselves the freedom of not knowing and reclaim our curiosity?

A beautiful YouTube called We Love You Iran & Israel, depicts an Israeli man reaching out to Iranian people. He says, “Our countries are talking war. In order to go to war . . . I have to hate you. I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you. No Iranian has ever done me harm. I have only met one Iranian in a museum in Paris. Nice dude.”

Reality is malleable. The reality, which we have imposed upon ourselves or had planted in our heads by others to make us feel safe, is also the reality that keeps us from really appreciating our own humanness and really loving other human beings—those beings who are more like us than we realize, even if we don’t know them.

Source: The Freedom of Not Needing To Be Right | Tiny Buddha: Wisdom Quotes, Letting Go, Letting Happiness In

Some days…

via Some days… – Lead.Learn.Live.. If the B word [Buddha] freaks you out, consider this: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” via Proverbs 23:7a KJV – When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, – Bible Gateway.

A poem for Monday…

Daffodils at Longdon Daffodils in the churchya...

Thanks to Steve Layman for posting this poem. I love ANYTHING to do with daffodils…

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils; Continue reading “A poem for Monday…”

The "Confessio" of St. Patrick and lessons for today

DSCF2665In my humble opinion, the story of St. Patrick is a story of a lost opportunity for the modern church. It begins like this…

1 I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our desserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts, nor were we obedient to our priests who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought down on us the fury of his being and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners. Continue reading “The "Confessio" of St. Patrick and lessons for today”

Never Forget, Choose To Live!

The north tower (1 WTC) of the World Trade Cen...
Image via Wikipedia
Mastin Kipp of The Daily Love shares a healthy perspective on 9/11…

Today is September 11th, 2011. 11 years ago this date had no significance, but on this 10th anniversary of the Twin Towers falling, 9/11 is a date that will live with us for the rest of our lives as a day that changed us, forever.

The events of that day are a reminder to us of what happens when fear, separation, anger and hate manifest in the real world by actions of human beings.

We beings are capable of such greatness, such inspiration and beauty and yet we are also capable of great acts of terror, genocide and worse.

I went back and watched a lot of the footage from that fateful day in September and, now, 10 years later I still cannot fathom the shock, horror and terror that went down that day. All kinds of acts of darkness are perpetrated on a daily basis and have been since the beginning of man, but what happened on 9/11/01 was big, loud and in all our faces. My heart still yearns, still weeps, and still cries out in rage watching the images of those burning towers.

The numbers 9/11 has been associated with human darkness and evil manifest. And while it is beyond appropriate to be wide awake to what happened on that day that we will never forget, I would like to suggest a new meaning.

Many people died on 9/11. People from all walks of life, financial backgrounds, faith systems, race, gender, and sexual orientation died that day. That day, there were no countries; there were no borders; that day we all wept as citizens of the world as we witnessed the events of the day.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have lived in fear ever since. It’s been a subtle fear. I have felt vulnerable and a subtle uneasiness whenever I fly. To know that things like that can happen in real life and not just movies changed my life forever.

But this year I am deciding to step out of fear. Life is for the living. Those who participated in the acts of that day will have won if we continue to live in fear.

Fear is what they wanted from us and fear is what they got. But no more. Not from me. And if you have been living in fear, then I hope not from you either.

Instead of 9/11 being numbers that remind of how so many died, let us honor those that died and let’s make 9/11 remind us of how we are going to live.

Life is short and we don’t know how long we have; 9-1-1 is an emergency number; let us make it an emergency to live our dreams out loud. I would venture to make a bold claim that it is UNPATROTIC to live in fear. Our Founding Fathers are cheering us on as we step back into creating the American Dream and as we peel back the layers of fear that have been placed there for 10 years and reinforced every year since.

We have been given the right to the pursuit of happiness.

We cannot pursue what makes us happy from a place of fear. If we really want to pay back those that brought down the Towers, then let’s get busy living our dreams and shining our Light. Those dark acts cannot hold us back. We must remember the terror of that day, but not dwell on it. We must always remember and honor those that died that fateful Fall day, but not stop our lives in the process.

Life is for the living.

I say that from now on we declare September 11th as a day we will all live free from fear and honor those that died by living FULLY in pursuit of what makes us happy.

This has been the hardest and most emotional blog I have ever written. I am overwhelmed with the weight of the events of that fateful day in September and at the same time I am inspired by the American Spirit to overcome, to persist and to shine when all seems dark. All of the world wept for us that day and they are weeping for us again, today.

Let us never forget what happened. And let us never let those that seek to instill fear into our lives win. Let us LIVE OUTLOUD, let us DECLARE OUR LOVE and let us love one another.

Today, there is no male or female, there are no religious differences, no gay or straight, no race division; today we are all citizens of the world collectively as one honoring those that died by choosing to live.

I am honored to be with you on this day. Let’s make our lives GREAT!

His perspective is much better than mine. Me? I think we’ve forgotten the lessons of 9/11 and that we have the attention span of gnats when it comes to something important like this. What are your thoughts today?

Christianity not to blame for anti-gay bullying

Bullies are, and always have been, a sad reality of life. They are also, courtesy of a handful of tragic news stories in recent months, major headline-generators right now. In the wake of the highly publicized suicides of some young gays outed or taunted by bullies, those who pick on people they perceive as “weird” or “weak” have rightfully come under fire. But so has the Christian faith, and there’s nothing right about that.

It has been suggested by some that Christianity itself is to blame for these tragedies – and that is its own separate tragedy. The train of thought goes like this: Churches and organizations like the one I lead, which believe Scripture places homosexual activity outside of God’s design for human sexuality, are responsible for the bullying of gay students and, by extension, their deaths.

As provocative as that narrative may be, and it certainly has ginned up quite a lot of controversy of late, it is not accurate. Not only is Christianity not to blame for attacks against gays and lesbians, when properly interpreted and practiced, it is the cure for and solution to the mistreatment and abuse of anyone, for any reason.

If there is a single golden thread woven through the Bible and the faith it informs, it is this: when it comes to human rights and how we treat each other, no person is superior or inferior to the next. Yes, sin exists; and God does not condone it. But he does embrace the sinner – and that means every one of us. Scripture makes it clear we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), yet makes it just as clear (Romans 5:8) that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So, to violate the dignity of another person, in any form or fashion, is to contradict the very basis of Gospel-centered living. And to suggest that an orthodox understanding of Christianity encourages abuse against homosexuals is a sad misreading of the very tenets of the faith.

Unfortunately, professed non-believers are not the only ones prone to misunderstanding and misapplying those tenets. The truth is, some self-described Christians do not act in Christlike ways toward those who are different than they are. Some think God sets certain behaviors aside as “super sins”; homosexuality, they believe, is of a higher (or lower) order than adultery or covetousness or lying or gossip; put more generally, they save their harshest judgments for the sins they don’t struggle with themselves. That is not biblical Christianity in practice.

Those who earnestly seek to emulate Jesus understand it is a matter of applying both his word and his deeds to our lives; that’s why Christianity is often described as a “walk” – it requires two legs, truth and grace, to make any forward progress. That means, since we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory (his truth), we must regard each other as more than just the sum of our sinful behaviors (his grace).

In the end, it’s the graceless behavior of bullies – against homosexuals or anyone else – that should serve to remind both Christians and non-Christians why Jesus came to earth at all: It is his way, exclusively, that provides the power to transform hearts, minds and actions.

Hear, hear. Follow the ‘via’ link to read the rest of the article if you are so inclined…

Start a Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: