Hope for my Little Ones.

Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives is voting on the Freedom to Marry bill. As I think about this, and how it affects me and my future, I felt compelled to write this letter to my future children about this historic day and marriage equality in general. Enjoy.

Dear Little Ones,

Today, the MN House of Representatives votes on the Freedom to Marry bill, which would make Minnesota the 12th state to make marriage equality a constitutional reality. I do not know yet what the outcome will be. I hope to God that by the time you read this, all couples can legally be married, regardless of their sex.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you about this. There are a lot of reasons why marriage equality matters. I hope your Dad and I have educated you well on this. I hope we have taught you to see the beauty in every person. I hope we have shown you that love, and not sexual orientation, is what makes a family. I hope we have told you about our heroes in this fight, men and women, queer and straight, who faced discrimination and hatred simply for believing that all people deserve the right to marry.

Most of all, though, I am writing this to you because I want you to know that, no matter who you are or who you love, your Dad and I support you. If you choose to commit your life to someone, it is of no concern to me whether they are a man or a woman, or neither. All I care is that they are worthy. I care that they are honorable and kind, that they support you, that they see just how beautiful you are. I care that they love you as much as we do. If you find somebody like that, it doesn’t matter to me what their sex, race, age, or anything else is. I will support you and love them as my own. I promise.

Love, Momma

Fatal Distraction.

This past week, this post has been circulating around the more evangelical corners of the interwebs.

While I understand the desire to focus on holy week (trust me, liturgical seasons are big in the Anderson household), I think it’s complete BS. For those of you who didn’t read the post, it essentially says that the “paint the internet red” campaign by HRC is Satan’s way of distracting us from holy week.

Seriously? That is some of the most transparent BS I’ve seen ever since the “women’s bodies can stop unwanted pregnancy from happening” thing occurred a few months ago. I shouldn’t need to write a post on this. But yet, here I am.

Try to stop me from talking. I dare you. DENIKA NEVER STOPS TALKING.

This whole thing seems like a not-so-clever ploy for conservative Christians to not have to deal with the world that is changing around them. A massive social movement of solidarity with the GLBT community has swept the internet; marriage equality is a-comin’, and they don’t know how to deal with it. So, they either fight back (enter Pat Robertson & co.), or they try to write it off as a “distraction,” and so they don’t have to deal with it–in fact, it would be better if they ignored it completely so as to not give in to Satan’s temptations.

But let’s back up a bit. 2000 years or so. There was a man wandering around Galilee with a ragtag group of the not-so-elites, the working class, the terminally ill, the unclean, the outcasts, the sinners, the unloved. He talked about some crazy ideas like unconditional love and self-sacrifice and radical inclusiveness. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, touched the untouchable, loved the unlovable.

But the people in charge didn’t like this. They had a system that had been working for hundreds of years. They didn’t want to change, because they liked the way things were.

But they let him play around for a while. At first, he was just another crazy person in a sea of misfits. Soon, though, he started to have too much influence. A movement was rising like a tidal wave, imminently bound to crash over their perfect little world. He was too strong.

So they killed him.

But this man, the man who was love embodied, wasn’t going to let that be the end of the story. Death only held him back for a weekend–I’ve had colds that have kept me out of commission for longer. He rose again, stating once and for all that love is stronger than anything else, even death.

That, dear friends, is what we celebrate today. That is what holy week is about.

And I dare say, if Jesus were on earth today, his facebook profile picture would have looked a little something like this last week:

601058_10151539078268281_1863021593_n

This campaign was not a distraction from holy week. Actually, I think it was one of the most well-timed social campaigns I’ve ever seen.

In the week when we remember his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus would not want us to ignore what is happening in the world around us. Not once did he put on blinders to the social situations surrounding him; neither should we. I believe this has been a call for us as people who follow Christ to rethink our systems, to see where we have tried to impose an archaic and oppressive set of social standards on a world that no longer fits within them, and to be advocates for those who are still fighting for rights that most of us take for granted.

Jesus didn’t die for your sins. Jesus lived to show us how to be beacons for God’s love on this planet. That’s what holy week is about.

So today, as we celebrate the blessed life of Jesus, the one who was love embodied, let us take a good look around us and see where we perpetuate injustice. Let us stand for the people Jesus stood for. Let us pour ourselves out so that others might be filled.

For Christ’s sake, let us be love.

My Bible Tells Me To Love.

So.

A couple days ago, I watched a documentary called “For The Bible Tells Me So.” It’s on Netflix; you all should really watch it.

It was about the Church’s oppression of the GLBT community.

Mainly, it centered on telling the stories of five or so different GLBT individuals and their families, who were all deeply rooted in the (American) Church. It depicted their coming-out stories, their families’ varied acceptance, and what they’ve done to bridge the gap between the GLBT community and the Church.

It was powerful.

Silly me, I just wanted background noise. I got myself into watching one of the most heart-wrenching movies I’ve ever seen.

(Suck it, Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook was awful.)

I’m still processing. On the one hand, I was incredibly upset by the things some of the Christians in the movie were saying. This is the community I come from, and I’m supposed to be proud of that?

I’m not ashamed of Christ. However, I’m very ashamed of Christians. Not only has an unbelievable amount of hatred (and in many cases, violence) been unleashed towards a community that does not, for any reason, deserve it, but the voices of our brothers and sisters who are part of that community (as well as the voice of science) have been silenced.

On the other hand, I found the stories of reconciliation, of bridging the gap, of learning to love with or without agreeing with one another to be so inspiring. It gave me a lot of hope for the Church, that maybe we can learn to be a group that really does strive to be like Jesus–to love all people, no conditions, period. Not “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Not even just “love the sinner.” Just love, saint or sinner, gay or straight. 

Because here’s the thing: we’re not the ones who ought to judge. One of my pastors (I think he’s the primary pastor of the Porch? I’m not really sure. He leads the sermon discussion.) said of Romans 1 (verses 26-27 of which are often used to condemn GLBT individuals) and 2 that the chapter break between them is the most ill-placed in the entire Bible. There’s no sense of division between the two in the Greek text, but we’ve placed a division there for no reason. In chapter one, Paul goes on and on about how people are generally terrible, and then begins chapter two by saying (essentially) “So who are you to judge?”

Here’s Romans 1:18-32:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

And here’s the following passage, Romans 2:1-16, separated as we usually read it in our English Bibles:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience,not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay everyone according to what they have done.”[e]To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obeythe law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges everyone’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Now, here’s what it would be like if we read them as one text (shortened to include the most relevant portions):

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. 1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience,not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 

It’s a much different message this way, isn’t it?

I want to leave you with one final quote from the movie. Let it inspire you to initiate conversation, to look differently at people you consider “others” or “outsiders,” and to love with the undiscriminating heart of Jesus.

“So many people who are victims of the fundamentalist christian caricature of gays become fearful and stay fearful until they meet one.”