Pipe Bombs Just Aren’t My Style

This is probably the post that will make me lose all two of my followers.

So. On with it, then.

My friend Rob often jokingly quotes the move “Saved!” by saying,

“There’s only one reason a Christian girl comes down to the Planned Parenthood.”

-“She’s planting a pipe bomb?”

“Okay, two reasons.”

And, while I think he’s hilarious, this quote bugs me. I understand that the movie is trying to portray Christians satirically. As much as it bothers me that this is the way Hollywood sees followers of Christ, I understand, and it’s warranted. We deserve it. We’ve been total pricks. The movie itself is not the problem.

The problem is that this is the way real people see us.

This is the way Planned Parenthood sees us.

And that’s not cool, because I go there. Every three months. To refill my birth control prescription.

I remember the day that I went there to get on the Pill. The doctor I met with had a standard set of questions that she went through to figure out my reasons for going on birth control and educating me accordingly. I explained to her that I was getting married in a couple weeks, and that my soon-to-be husband and I weren’t ready to have kids yet, especially since I was still in school. She asked what I was studying, and I told her that I was a Theology major. Her eyes widened and she immediately dropped her gaze to the floor, and uttered a very loaded “Oh. Well then.” I made some asinine comment about it being a lot of writing and we moved on.

I knew what her comment meant, though.

“Oh. You’re one of those. You think we’re sinners here.”

Not a far cry from the “Saved!” quote.

To be perfectly clear, I would never get an abortion. I think it is antithetical to the message of Jesus, which was to promote life to the fullest. But I only hold that belief within my own understanding of Jesus, and I downright refuse to tell anyone who is not equally-yoked what they ought to think on the matter. Greg Boyd’s post here explains my reasoning for both to the letter.

That being said, I support Planned Parenthood, and legislation that funds it.

Why?

Because, unlike most of the Church, they actually try to educate women on proper contraceptive action and give them all of their options–that means not just abortion–if they become pregnant. They partner with Minnesota Family Planning, among other state programs, to give women (including me) free or low-cost family planning training and contraceptives. They accept the reality that women have sex and get pregnant without planning to, and they work to make abortion the last possible choice.

Instead of denying that women’s health matters, they have posters, bumper stickers, and t-shirts that shout it. What’s more, they actually do something about it. They make it matter.

Honestly, I feel more welcome talking about pregnancy–the “gift of life”–there than I do in most churches.

But, apparently, I shouldn’t? Because the only reason a good Christian girl should be in a Planned Parenthood is to protest it, or perhaps to blow it up.

I say no.

Greg Boyd is right. We can’t deny the reality of abortion, and we can’t let our discussion on it end with “it’s wrong.” We have to come alongside women, tell them that they, and their sexual health, matter. We have to be there for unexpectedly pregnant women and help them to make the smartest decisions for them, even if that means they abort their pregnancies. It means showing them that life is worth living.

It means loving them, and their unborn babies, unconditionally.

If you disagree, that’s fine. It’s your choice to pick up your picket sign and stand outside a Planned Parenthood, hoping to shame every person who walks into the clinic to turn around and go home.

I’ll be inside, getting my prescription refilled, and perhaps loving on the pregnant woman next to me considering an abortion.

Let’s see who she’s more willing to listen to.

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Jesus Watches Comedy Central

I have a friend who, in a note on Facebook, attempted to assert her piousness by stating that she never “listened to a single secular song or watched a single secular TV show.” This was not, as I’m aware I’ve made it sound, done to make herself sound great or to flaunt her “holiness,” but merely to make it known as background information that she is, in fact, a good Christian.

This was over two years ago, and I still think about it on a regular basis.

Now, before you misinterpret me, let me make it clear: this woman is amazing, and she really does love Jesus a lot. I write none of the above to criticize her.

Unfortunately, though, she is not the only person I know who thinks (and lives) this way.

I’m just not the same.

I love music. On perhaps an unhealthy level. Our spare bedroom is half-filled with musical instruments and the collective gigabyte count of music between my husband and I rivals some radio stations.

Some of my favorite bands/artists include NeedtoBreathe, Death Cab for Cutie, Gavin DeGraw, MuteMath, Mumford & Sons, Andy Grammer, Fitz and the Tantrums, Tyrone Wells, Coldplay…the list could go on for a very long time. Some of these artists sing about Jesus. Some of them don’t.

I also love all things funny. I watch TV shows like The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Futurama, Mythbusters, 30 Rock, Friends, and (of course) Arrested Development. I love movies like Juno, Our Idiot Brother, Away We Go, and many other sarcastic comedies. I adore bloggers like Brittany Gibbons (barefootfoodie.com), Meredith Soleau (lifescrazyjoke.com), Matthew Inman (theoatmeal.com), Randall Munroe (xkcd.com), and Reza Farazmand (poorlydrawnlines.com). All these shows/movies/people make me laugh, sometimes so hard that I’m afraid it might kill me.

The problem is, aside from a couple of those bands, I couldn’t say the names of just about anything up there in a church without someone “praying for my soul.”

My enjoyment of these things is not because there are no Jesus-following versions (Extreme Days, anyone?), I just simply enjoy them. I relate to them on a deep, unexplainable level. And I refuse to stop doing so because they aren’t “holy enough” for other Christians.

Because the thing is, we were made to enjoy life.

This is not to say that our lives will be easy. Following Jesus is the via dolorosa, it is hard, and you will, in one way or another, be crucified. There are no shortage of biblical stories that attest to this. There are, however, plenty of verses that remind us, despite these difficulties, we are to “count it all joy,” to praise Jesus, to find happiness in the midst of our struggles.

Following Jesus doesn’t mean that you are now required to be serious all the time, or, like the ever-popular Vintage 21 videos state, “No laughing, unless it’s at how stupid the devil is.”

It means being joyful in spite of how difficult this kind of life can be.

Folks, there is no better way to stick it to Satan than to enjoy life. The mission statement of Hell is to destroy, to make things worse, and certainly to eradicate joy.

I am on a mission to find joy everywhere, whether that place loves Jesus or not.

I’m not saying that we can do whatever we want, as long as it makes us happy, because God wants us to be happy. That is hedonism, and it is not awesome. Deliberately seeking out sin does no good for anything. Happiness is a fleeting emotion.

But, those artists, and shows, and movies, and bloggers I mentioned above? That’s not their aim. They’re being real about life. They don’t romanticize the pain that comes with living. But they do look at the world in a way that says, “To Hell with all of you, I am going to make the best of this. I will turn this into something beautiful. I will find joy, and I will share it.”

Because joy is so much more than being happy. It is being full of something that is greater than any pain you might encounter. It is laughing into the mouth of the lion about to devour you. It does not deny pain, rather, it overcomes it.

Even though I haven’t met a single one of them, these people are so much more real to me than many of the ultra-religious Christians I know personally. They aren’t stiff. They don’t protest non-Christian TV shows or set fire to non-Christian records (as much as Arrested Development might think so).

They seek joy.

And I’ll be damned if I won’t too.