have we become the pharisees?

Currently doing some storyboarding for some more fiction I’m working on, but I discovered another piece hidden away in the archives that I had never published (seems like this is a semi-frequent occurrence). As I’m transitioning back to writing some fiction, I’ve been finding that it’s taking me a lot longer to figure out how I want to write things and what kinds of ideas I want to use, but maybe that’s more normal than I’m giving myself credit for.

With this piece, the primary idea behind it was conceived through a series of discussions I had at my Bible study where we talked about what it means to actually be a Christian in the 21st century, in 2016 and how we can sometimes read our own biases into the parables and stories we read in the Bible. Oftentimes, this manifests as us, as mostly privileged, American Christians, identifying more closely with the oppressed people groups described in the Bible rather than with the oppressors. However, something that we realized over the course of our discussion and Bible study was that while the Israelites and the entire nation of Israel have typically been the minority ethnic group and minority religion in the majority of eras, that’s not really the case for most Westernized or American Christians. What we decided is that more often than not, our actual lived realities align more with those of the oppressing Pharisees than with those of the oppressed Israelites. Interesting food for thought for sure.

Continue reading “have we become the pharisees?”

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when our words kill friendship (part one)

This is the fourth entry in a series of posts on friendship. To find the others once they’ve been published, find the menu button in the upper right corner of the blog and see “Summer Friendship Series.”

 

As a writer, you could say that I think about words a lot. Part of both the joy and frustration of writing is being able to find just the right word to express exactly the sort of sentiment you want to convey. For the most part, the English language usually does a pretty good job of supplying words that have the proper nuance, but something that I’ve been thinking about recently is how sometimes we don’t have enough words to capture the depth of some things that we consider to be so basic. Friendship is one of those things.

 

In English, our single word ‘friend’ encompasses such a wide range of meanings that other languages might divide into different words in order to convey the proper amount of nuance behind them. I mean, I think it’s a little strange that we use the same word to describe people that we’re connected to on Facebook, many of whom we might not even talk to or interact with on a regular basis, as well as people that we share our souls with and can call late at night to cry with. It seems almost disrespectful to use the same word for both of those kinds of relationships. After all, many people call their spouses or their siblings their best friends, and yet we’ll still use the same word to talk about that person we might’ve shared a class with freshman year of college or high school and haven’t talked to since.

 

That’s one of the things I loved most about being a linguistics major. By at least rudimentarily studying several other languages, you gain a broader understanding of how other people express different ideas across different languages, and the subtle nuances that those untranslatable words and phrases carry tell you quite a bit about how that language or culture thinks about and treats various aspects of life. With friendship, I think the contrast between English and other languages is quite striking. Continue reading “when our words kill friendship (part one)”

when your friends strip you down

This is the third entry in a series of posts on friendship. To find the others once they’ve been published, find the menu button in the upper right corner of the blog and see “Summer Friendship Series.”

 

Vulnerability. Intimacy. Authenticity. Those are all pretty popular Christian buzzwords as of late, usually accompanied by an Instagram photo of daybreak from a mountain view or a crashing waterfall in the middle of an evergreen forest with a hipster backpack brand or some sort of “supply company” tagged toward the margins. Cheeky, right?

 

I’m not going to lie. I love a great nature shot or artsy portrait on a curated Instagram feed as much as the next millennial, but I think that perhaps we’ve turned those words into a brand in and of themselves, passing over their actual etymology in favor of a trendy aesthetic. All of a sudden, words like those get commoditized into hashtags and lose their meaning and appeal just as fast as the Billboard Top 40 and cheap gum, the difference being that people still listen to the same overplayed songs and buy $1 gum while we’re quickly losing the ability to actually be vulnerable and authentic. Continue reading “when your friends strip you down”

when christian superstars come out

Perhaps you’ve heard and perhaps you haven’t yet, but Trey Pearson of Everyday Sunday just came out as gay about a day or two ago. This follows similar coming out stories by the likes of Vicky Beeching and Jennifer Knapp who have gone on to lose much of their music careers, with Beeching instead moving on to religious commentary and other projects in the UK, including a book that she’s currently working on. But at any rate, just like those other coming out stories, this one has already generated its own fair share of controversy and reactions from the general Christian populace, both positive and negative, as larger outlets such as Yahoo and Religion News Service have picked up the story.

Unsurprisingly, there have been quite a few opinionated responses coming from a handful of Christians, with many lamenting the fact that he has chosen to come out after having married a woman and having children among other things, and this is specifically what I want to address in this post. With more and more people finally acknowledging the basic fact that being gay or lesbian or bisexual is not a choice any more than being straight is a choice, what I’ve seen is that many Christians have instead chosen to go the route of lambasting Pearson for his decision to come out now after having been married to his wife for over 7 years and having had children with her, and I think that perhaps I understand a little bit of where that’s coming from, as misdirected as it might be. Continue reading “when christian superstars come out”

mark yarhouse talked to my christian college on sexuality and this is how it went

Alright, here’s the full, unedited version of the article that was published in the Bethel Clarion earlier this week, detailing my stream of thought about the Mark Yarhouse sexuality event last week. The Clarion staff did a great job editing it, but it definitely read more like a newspaper article (as it should have) than some of my normal writing, so I wanted to stick the original version up on here. Take a read if you weren’t at the event or haven’t already.

I checked the time on my phone as I speed walked through the BC on my way to the Underground. It was already 8:01pm and I was late, having just come from helping lead an exam review session for CWC.  Mark Yarhouse, a psychologist and professor from Regent University, was giving a talk on sexuality and I was going to be there, though a bit reluctant at first. From what I had heard and read of him in the past, I wasn’t incredibly optimistic about the event, but the Underground was relatively full, so I slid into the second row from the front and took out my notebook just as it was beginning.

Continue reading “mark yarhouse talked to my christian college on sexuality and this is how it went”

Going to Church Hurts (An Update on My Experiment)

Ah, I’ve been meaning to post a real update for a few days now, rather than just continually reblogging stuff that I’ve seen floating around. In this post, I’ll give a quick update on my non-churchgoing experiment as well as a quick, preview of a life update in general, since I feel like a lot has happened since my arrival here at SIL (but then again, a lot happening seems to be the theme of my 2015 anyway, so go figure). In addition, I hope that anyone who’s reading this is having a marvelous summer. As usual, regardless of whether you know me personally or not, feel free to get in contact with me, whether that’s through an email, message, or following the blog and commenting. I love connecting with people, and I feel like I almost haven’t had time for that this summer!

Alright, so in terms of my churchgoing experiment, it’s definitely been an interesting experience to say the least. As of today (which is a Sunday, conveniently), I either haven’t been to church in 6 weeks or 0 weeks. In case that doesn’t make sense, I went to church this morning, because I was back at home and I felt like it might be good to see what it feels like to be back after a significant period of time. Results: lackluster and strange. Lackluster because I didn’t have this magical moment where God showed me that going to church was actually awesome and that I should start going again right away. And strange because while I genuinely missed it, I also found myself questioning why I was there the whole time.

Let me explain. Continue reading “Going to Church Hurts (An Update on My Experiment)”

It’s Sunday and I’m Not in Church

This post may be shocking or worrisome for many, but I’m about to embark on an experiment for six months, partly driven by what I feel like is a calling right now and partly driven by the fact that my circumstances have lent themselves to this experiment. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, my experiment is going to be a hiatus from church attendance until I return from studying abroad in Spain in December. Continue reading “It’s Sunday and I’m Not in Church”

A Response to the Response to Caitlyn Jenner

Well, the internet surely has been on fire with the Caitlyn Jenner story in the past week, and likewise has it been flooded with a myriad of different responses from Christians and non-Christians alike. Unfortunately, it seems as if the majority of the Christian responses have been very disheartening, vehemently arguing that Caitlyn Jenner is an insult to women, comparing her to soldiers (which is already a flawed comparison regardless of how you see the situation), and many other hurtful articles.

That makes me sad and makes me think that Christians aren’t doing their job, their one job, seeing as I’ve only read maybe 3 articles talking about Caitlyn Jenner in even a vaguely positive light.

People keep asking whether this is right or wrong, whether it agrees or disagrees with the Bible, and whether or not we, as Christians, should be supporting a person like Caitlyn Jenner. What if I told you that all of those people are asking the wrong questions? What if I told you that the answers to those questions are irrelevant? Continue reading “A Response to the Response to Caitlyn Jenner”

Christian Priorities as of May 27, 2015

A better, less angry post will follow, but this is what I have to say regarding all the stories that have come out in the past couple weeks, namely, the recent events surrounding the Duggar Family and The Village Church.

I’m straight up pissed about it, and most people will tell you that I don’t get angry very often.

First of all, who ever said that criticizing the church or church leadership is tantamount to attacking it? That’s ridiculous. The church is an imperfect institution run by imperfect people. There are going to be missteps and there will need to be people who point out those missteps. It’s not un-glorifying to God when people have the guts to do it. They’re not creating tension or division in the church. They’re saying what the heck needs to be said.

Second, someone tell me since when Christians are allowed to be above the law. I don’t care who you are. You could be John Calvin or Charles Spurgeon or C.S. Lewis. If you commit a serious crime, you should be going to prison. The church has no business running damage control or PR for people just because they are a little higher profile than the rest of us. That’s nowhere in the Bible.

Third, along the same lines, grace and repentance do not eliminate the consequences of your actions. Grace should be extended where there is repentance and even when there is not, but that doesn’t magically dissolve the consequences of your actions. Actions. Have. Consequences.

Finally, and this one is a little more personal. Someone better be able to tell me why, in the United States of America, we have situations in which churches are protecting child molesters and child porn addicts while there are LGBT Christians committing suicide because they feel unloved and worthless and have internalized a message from the church that they are dirtier and more sinful than everyone else. Someone give me a valid explanation to this, stat. How is that glorifying to God? How is that reflecting Jesus?

This is unacceptable, disgusting, and makes me sick.

But evidently, these are Christian priorities as of May 27, 2015, a time when we prioritize the well-being of people who are in sticky situations, as a result of their own actions, and defend them when there are far bigger problems in the world.

I mean, someone give me a halfway decent reason that child porn is any different than sex trafficking, seeing as most of those girls are only children.

This is part of the reason that young people (myself included) are growing increasingly skeptical of the formal church. Because it seems to be more interested in outward appearances and damage control than actual people.

After all, it hurts when child porn users are granted asylum in the church while people like us are given an ultimatum. Because it implies that we’re beneath even that. Where’s our grace? Where’s our unconditional acceptance?

And people wonder why we’re on our way out.

Gay ≠ Lesser

I recently sat down with one of my friends to catch up on life, and the reflections that I had after that conversation are the basis of this post. Now, I generally try to refrain from writing angry/irritated posts just for the sake of it, but I’ve been realizing that if this blog is going to be about my experiences, it has to include everything, because other people have probably felt those things too. So I’ll try not to just go off on everything, but what I write here is going to encompass all the different things that I’ve felt and experienced.

What I’ve been thinking about since my friend and I had that conversation is this: why do people automatically view us as being somehow dirtier, more sinful, and less sincere about our faith just because we identify as LGBT? Why do our theology and our motivations get questioned just because we identify as LGBT? And why do we always have to overprove the veracity of our actions to the satisfaction of straight Christians?

These things have been a source of frustration for me since the beginning of my journey to figure out what exactly being gay and being a Christian at the same time meant for me. All of the different things that people have said just don’t add up. Continue reading “Gay ≠ Lesser”