Recently, as is often the case in summer, a quickly moving thunderstorm passed over us at the beach. My husband and I decided to wait it out and as the sky cleared, a rainbow appeared on the horizon. That’s kinda the way life is for us, isn’t it?
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.
– Genesis 9:16
While the news has been filled with reports of occurrences demonstrating unrest around the world, I think there’s a widespread concern that we are on the brink of certain disaster. And here in the U.S., no matter what side you fall on, the political climate and upcoming election has us on edge. Yet most of us also have more personally pressing concerns to deal with in our families and everyday lives. We are waiting out the storms, praying for change, and anxiously waiting for better days to come.
Like most of us, I had just started to wrap my head around what happened as I checked my emails and social media the other day. And then I received an email message from a dear friend, addressed to a pretty large group of her friends and family, that really disturbed me. She had crossed a line and I had to respond before all of the people on her list started to think she might be right. She is a wonderful, loving person who means well, but she
is not a believer does not believe the Bible to be true. I think that will be pretty clear. Below is the string.
“The Islamic extremist in Orlando, Florida who killed so many people on Saturday thought he was following God’s will. It is so sad. Hitler was so devout that he had bible verses inscribed on the belt buckles of every soldier. The point is that it is a person’s belief of ‘doing God’s will’ that gives religious extremists permission. They actually believe they are doing ‘right’. They believe they are following God’s instruction. For example they will take a concept/section from a holy book where it describes how God condemns homosexuality or God promotes slavery or God promotes sexism and they try to promote the concept because this is what God instructed in the book. They believe they are being good because they are the ones following God’s instruction. They believe they are just following orders. And this is why teaching religion using these books is so detrimental. Because these extremists are just reading and following the instructions which other humans have taught them, usually from a young age, are the instructions directly from God. So they believe if they follow the instructions ‘they are good’ and if they do not follow the instructions ‘they are bad’. It is the continual teaching that these books are actually God’s words/God’s will/instructions that causes the problem combined with a person who really wants to do what is ‘right’ by following God’s orders exactly that leads to all this inhumanity. We have to stop teaching people that these books are God’s words. Otherwise there will be people who will want to follow the instructions to the extreme thinking they are doing good.”
Wait…What??? Are you kidding me?? Unfortunately, I can see that a lot of people think this way… that “religion” is the cause of war, “religion” is what is wrong with the world.
Here was my carefully worded response.
I follow your train of thought but I have so many issues with this message. And this is not a conversation to be had in a short email (with no paragraph breaks). With all due love and respect, I have to respond.
Yesterday MJ went to the interview with the Pathways people and it went well. She starts a 12 week internship in just a little over a week! Yay Pathways! Yay God!
This opportunity is so clearly orchestrated by our intimate, loving God. First of all, you know MJ is not very comfortable driving yet, so this company is only 6 minutes away from home. It couldn’t be any closer! The team at this company was so impressed by MJ’s visual resume that they tailored the internship to her strengths. They already have projects in mind that will be perfect for her skills. It is with a company that creates software products so she will be able to use her skills in beta testing as well as give them graphic design support. They keep pretty flexible hours and have a late start time of 10am so she won’t have wake up too early! The offices are in a townhouse, which creates a nice casual office environment. They eat lunch there so she won’t have to drive any place to get food and it sounds like she can spend a little time socializing, which she really needs to do. And because it’s in a townhouse, the bathrooms are not gender-specific!
What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.
– James 5:11
The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.
– Proverbs 15:30
I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I’ve been very busy at work, but also because there wasn’t much to report. We weren’t making much progress toward the new year’s goals. MJ still hadn’t gotten back to that great sleep/wake schedule she had going before the holidays. And then “snowzilla” happened. I won’t kid you, I had a hard time staying focused on the positive and finding encouragement. But I know that God sent the snow, reminding us that He is in charge. He ordered us to be still for a bit and take a break. (Yeah, that’s my car under that pile of snow.) I recognized that I was deep in waiting mode… waiting for Pathways to find an internship opportunity, waiting for the weather to give us a break and for the roads to be cleared, waiting for God to work things out.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
It has taken me a long time to write this post because I don’t want to offend anyone. I like to think of myself as a peacekeeper. So, I took my time with it and chose my words carefully. Also, as we got closer to Thanksgiving, I wanted to be sensitive to the timing of this message. Let me just say that this is written in the spirit of me trying to think things through. Let’s work this out together.
I had originally planned to write this post as a one-sided bashing of the church for its failure to include and minister to transgender people and the people that love them. But, a few weekends ago I went on a retreat with some of the most godly women I know. While there, God showed me a few things that softened my heart. I still feel “the church” needs to change but the church is made up of people. Some of those people, like the women I joined on the retreat, are individuals who radiate Jesus’ love so brightly. Some people are just like me, who love the Lord and are questioning things. If you wonder how you might better serve the LGBTQ community, this message is for you. If you have been rallying against “the church” this message is for you too.
I don’t claim to have any authority on the subject of transgender and what the Bible says or doesn’t say. I am only writing to share my experience and the things I’ve learned in the process of trying to figure out what I believe to be true. I’m certain that God planned for me to love MJ and to help her navigate the world with what she’s been dealt. After all of my reading and listening, one of the only other things I am certain of is that all Christians will not be able to come to an agreement that the Bible is clear about what God planned for transgender people, at least not anytime soon. I’m sharing from a place of authentic love for both my child and for Jesus. I offer up my opinion here, knowing that a lot of people, including many of the people that I consider to be my sisters-in-Christ, disagree. But my goal is to help you process your thoughts on the issue. I hope and pray that God will give us wisdom and discernment and open our hearts to what he wants us to hear.
Early on in my research I listened to a fascinating and important podcast from The Liturgists on LGBTQ, where Donald Miller and J.J. Peterson; Matthew Vines; Melissa Greene, Stan Mitchell, and Tabitha from GracePointe; Preston Sprinkle; and Ed Gungor join Science Mike and Michael Gungor to share their stories and perspectives on LGBTQ persons and the Church. I thought it was a thorough, unbiased discussion and a good place to start if you have the time to listen.