Not by Bread Alone

“He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

The power of music. It truly is a bit of manna for the soul. I’ll try not to be redundant but, yes, another blog post about my love affair with music. It’s simply that I’m itching to pick up the six-string again and, somehow, such endeavors always seem to get relegated to that “Someday” list. Ditto for the Appalachian dulcimer; I can’t remember the last time I played that. And then, of course, is the list of instruments I’m planning to learn “someday”: bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, Celtic harp, Nickelharpa, Hurdy-Gurdy, fiddle. I don’t want to wait until I’m retired. The way things are going I might be well into my 90’s before I can afford to do so. (Yes, there’s still a bit of Bad Luck Schlepp-Rock lurking around…)

And, why, yes, I do have a thing for stringed instruments! =)

The latest homestead dilemma has left me more frazzled than I care to admit…enough so that the Irritable Bowel Syndrome just kicked into overdrive and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is threatening to down me, too. I can’t afford either. There’s work to be done to get this homestead back right side up financially.

Paradoxically, He’s also giving me a little nudge to slow down, take it easy, even just for a moment. And music helps to make that happen. I tuned into Pandora radio on my iPhone on the way to work Saturday morning and listened to some Contemporary Christian for the hour drive. The nerves that have been dangling on tenterhooks suddenly mellowed out and I found myself singing along with Casting Crowns, For King and Country, Francesca Battistelli. The good mood carried me into the museum and stayed with me while I made preparations for a boiled dinner on the hearth. Even after I had turned Pandora off and tucked the cellphone away in the pocket of my 19th century flannel work dress, I found myself still singing, not caring if anyone heard (which might not be appreciated by the powers-that-be; these weren’t period correct songs). One of the volunteers came in and she, too, started singing. Different songs but we had a grand old time peeling vegetables and stoking fires while the songs flowed. I tuned into Pandora on Sunday morning’s commute, too.

I have visions of something similar here at the homestead. My dream is to eventually host Saturday night potlucks where everyone who plays an instrument brings it along and we sit around after dinner playing and singing by the fire. Of course, if I’m going to host something musical, I need to dust off the instruments and re-learn to play them. It’s been too long. And, even if this homestead is again at risk of being lost (at least the actual property), such a dream is not so far-fetched.

Only finding the time to put in the practice. (I really do need a 28-hour day.)

Time is a precious commodity these days. It feels like I have to make an appointment with myself just to find the time for the most basic endeavors…like shaving my legs and armpits. But, before anyone thinks I’m running around here in rural Connecticut looking like the hairy wildebeest, think again. ‘Tis only a metaphor.

Relax.

Breathe.

Phew! Glad we nipped that one in the bud.

Back to our regularly scheduled program: music. I’m missing the late nights of sitting alone with the guitar wailing away. Far more powerful than listening to the radio, or a CD, my own hands (or lips) creating that flow of emotion takes me out of myself and helps me to focus in on Him a little better. Suddenly, there is no one and nothing else in the room with me…except maybe the errant feline, or canine (when I had canines), sharing the moment with He and I. I can’t say that the music I’m playing is necessarily Christian, but it often does have an almost-spiritual quality to it…at least on the benefits to my soul, in helping me to relax. And let go. Just that.

Come to me and I will give you rest. We hear that over and again in the Bible. I can’t help thinking that maybe He’s giving me a nudge to find that rest again with my instruments. Maybe it’s time to check something else off of that “someday” list; I’ve been neglecting it for too long. The money I need to get right side up again will come. Or it won’t. But either way, He’s got my back. I have to trust that. And, in the meantime, I have to let go and let Him work the miracles He has in mind. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

May God bless you & keep you!

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How to Let Go and Let God

“Now to Him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

I know nothing is greater than God. But, for some reason, I continue to take back the struggle, thinking, for some unfathomable reason, that I can handle things better than He can. Or maybe that scarred and abused little girl inside of me is still envisioning a vengeful God ready to strike at any moment. So, when I pray for that help, there’s still a part of me holding back, protecting myself from further harm.

I’m not worthy. He doesn’t love me. I have to earn His love…and I haven’t earned it. I’m not good enough.
I’m asking too much. Those gifts are for other people, not me…etc. etc. etc.

The proverbial tapes play over and again in my head. How do I shut them off long enough to ever get ahead? To find that promised peace?

Well, maybe the answer’s in the question: I. See? I’m still trying to take control. I can’t shut off the tapes that the enemy plays. But He can.

Of course, I have to ask. And some days, I’m so mired in my Bad Luck Schlepp-rock mood, I can’t see beyond that proverbial forest through the trees. It’s only after I’ve wallowed painfully in “wowsy wowsy woo woo” for however long that I even think to ask sometimes. Really?

And then there’s those days when everything just seems to get heaped upon me by the shovelful. In truth, that seems to be a steady theme in recent years. And, while it may sound as if I’m still wallowing in that self-pity, the truth is that I’m sinking fast. And I’m hoping that this sinking is part of His plan for that something so much greater that I keep hearing about.

Maybe if I swallow that infernal pride…so, here’s the rub:

Over 10 years ago I started homesteading here. I was still working in the corporate world then but also working two part-time jobs and taking clients in reflexology on the side. That being said, it didn’t leave me much time for homesteading endeavors but, somehow, I still managed. Along the way, I started thinking about relocating. I set my sights on Maine. One Friday I got in the car and drove to Maine with enough money in my corporate 401K to put a down-payment on a piece of property. I came back on Monday to find that my 401K had been pretty much wiped out. This was the start of the Great Recession. I had to let the property go. Shortly thereafter, I lost one of the part-time gigs; there wasn’t enough work. Then 10 months’ later, I lost the full-time corporate position as a part of a corporate downsizing; my position was outsourced to another country. Then 6 months’ later the second part-time gig let me go as they couldn’t afford to pay any help anymore. And, of course, with so many others in similar situations, the reflexology dried up, too.

Still, I was at least able to collect unemployment. And I remained hopeful that I would find something new to sustain us (me and the homestead, of course).

One year went by. Then two. The 99 weeks of unemployment insurance dried up. Despite the loss of the 401K mentioned earlier, I had re-built it considerably before the corporate position ended. I lived on that for another 6 months while still looking for full-time employment.

And then the 401K ran out, too.

By then, I had two seasonal, part-time jobs (all that I could find at the time) and had started a pet and farm sitting business. Clients were spotty; not too many people were traveling for their own economic reasons. But the occasional call came through. I started building a reputation as a reliable person. I also began getting a few clients now and again in Reflexology, Reiki and Touch for Health.

Despite all of this effort to stay afloat, I missed one mortgage payment. And then another. To make a long story short, I eventually received a foreclosure notice. It was a near thing but I managed to get into a mortgage assistance program with my state’s housing authority. They put me back topside and I’ve been making steady payments to them every month for 5 years. They, in turn, are sending those payments to my mortgage company. This is, sadly, a loan that I will eventually be amortized into a new mortgage payment once I’m working full-time and able to make the payments on my own.

And, yes, I am working full-time again–finally–but what I earn is not quite enough for that refinance.

With the two hour commute, the college courses to earn my degree (another hopeful endeavor), etc. I gave up pet and farm sitting. It wasn’t steady enough and my time has been severely curtailed with everything else in my life. I’ve also nixed the holistic health practice as the rent for a room in a spa, insurance premiums, and re-certifications make it more a drain than a fill. But, again, I’ve been making steady payments and staying on top.

Or so I thought.

I received another foreclosure notice again. It appears the mortgage company raised my payment due to tax and insurance increases and, though I sent the housing authority notification of the change, they have not adjusted accordingly.

I’m ready to give in to despair. But I also feel a calling to use this hardship as a way to build my faith. I’m going to trust Him. I’m going to trust that He has this, that He will work it for some good. And, in saying, praise Him even in this storm. But I feel a bout of “wowsy wowsy woo woo” settling over me again. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

May God bless you & keep you!

Heart’s Desire

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Ephesians, 2:8-10)

I am struggling to put words to the page this morning. I gave up social media for Lent, not my blog; I don’t consider them the same thing. The idea was to give myself a little more time for writing. And, for the most part, it has worked. I’ve been able to put those 3 pages of my book together each night and I’m starting to see some real progress. That pushes me forward. And yet, the enemy of my soul keeps tempting me with those little pop-ups that say, “You’ve been tagged in a photo, a video, a post on Facebook by so-and-so.” What photo, video or post??? Inquiring minds want to know. And what further proof of how addicting social media really is!

I am determined not to break my Lenten vows this year.

No, it won’t make a difference in my salvation (please read the bit of Scripture at the start of this blog post). But it is a vow made to God. It’s like when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and some of his apostles, who were supposed to be keeping watch, fell asleep. I don’t want to fall asleep on this watch.

And so, I carry on.

However, the enemy certainly has some persuasive arguments. Like, it’s okay if I peek at that message as long as I don’t proceed to read the feed on my Facebook page, or someone else’s Facebook page.

Nope. Not working.

I’m still resisting…even if the temptation’s still there.

Ditto for the 3 pages of book each night. Last night was a push after spending 8 hours working on my final paper for class. The night before I actually fell asleep a few times over my notebook. I don’t have the time I used to have at the dealership so I have to squeak my book, blog posts and even quality time with the animals here on the homestead in around a 2 hour daily commute.

But still, I carry on.

I’ve been good about the music videos, too. In fact, I haven’t watched even one since the Lenten season started. I do miss that. As most of the bands I watch on YouTube are contemporary Christian, listening and watching their videos can be a nice little pick-me-up at the end of the week. The saving grace–no pun intended–is that I’m not getting so immersed in them that I neglect everything else.

Like writing.

Or homesteading.

My two heart’s desires.

Of course, for someone whose religion doesn’t follow any Lenten obligations, it may sound as if through these Lenten vows I’m still hoping to earn my way to salvation.

Nope.

If that were the case, we’d all be doomed. Lenten vows are often like New Year’s Resolutions; they keep for a week or two and then, as the struggle becomes too great, we often allow them to fall by the wayside. However, it is a good means of incorporating more awareness of Him in our daily lives. And that’s the best habit we can cultivate of all.

By the way, I have broken my vow to abstain from sweets: I had a frozen yogurt frappe on the way home from work the other day (complete with a single-serve plastic-lidded container and a straw; bad me!) and I couldn’t resist the free maple popcorn being offered for grabs at work. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying to resist future sweets; one can always readjust and reaffirm one’s resolve.

However, the measure of this broken vow may not necessarily be on the scale of one’s faith, or dedication to one’s vows, but on the scale of a different sort. Talk about your addictions.

May God bless you & keep you!

Thou Shalt Not Steal

“Surely I, the Lord, do not change, nor do you cease to be sons of Jacob. Since the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes, and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. Yet you say, “How must we return?” Dare a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! And you say, “How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings! You are indeed accursed, for you, the whole nation, rob me. Bring the whole tithe to the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try me in this, says the Lord of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?” (Malachi 3:6-11)

When you’re economically-challenged, tithing often presents a quandary–especially when your trust levels, whether for man, woman, or even God, are minimal at best. No, that isn’t to say that I don’t trust God, per se. It’s that I seldom trust that I am worthy enough of His love, His grace, His mercy. However, the above passage of Scripture says “nor do you cease to be sons of Jacob”; it does not say something like, “that is, all of you except Lisa”. I could take this literally, as I would be a daughter, not a son, but that’s neither here nor there. The truth is, He loves us and He will never cease to provide for us.

Why doesn’t this truth ever truly settle into my heart? I spend half my life feeling as though I have to earn His love, His grace, and His mercy–something none of us can ever do; it is already freely given–and falling short of the mark every time.

It’s a bit of that proverbial beating-one’s-head-into-a-brick-wall scenario.

I am economically-challenged. Though I work full-time now, I’m still standing on, well, not a mountain of debt; I’m actually quite frugal, but what little I have amassed is still looming. And, of course, I’m looking further down that track and seeing “student loan” ready to broadside me in a couple of years. (Yes, I do tend to be a worry wart..) The full-time gig is relatively new, only since August. Before then, it was 2 years of unemployment followed by 5 years of seasonal and/or part-time gigs. It’s going to take some time to re-coup. And that chronic worry wart keeps expecting a ton of bricks to rain down or the bottom to drop out from under me.

I’m not worthy of “getting back on my feet”.

This is the voice I hear in my head each week. And then this bit of logic: I’m putting money in the tithe basket every Sunday and then going to the food pantry to eat on Tuesday. Isn’t that sort of like stealing from God? Suddenly, that 10% looks enormous…even though I might readily pay the same amount out for something frivolous. Yes, I’ve definitely fallen off the celebrated tightwad bandwagon of late, grown weary of the struggle to a point where some small voice says, “I don’t care anymore!”

Definitely the work of the enemy of our soul.

So, I posed this convoluted stinking-thinking about tithing to my pastor and the above passage is what he gave me to think on. It’s rather eye-opening. And re-affirming as regards our obedience to God. So I’m thinking I’ll do just that: try Him.

Besides, He’s only asking for 10%; we get to keep the other 90%.

May God bless you & keep you!

PS To All My Facebook Friends

“While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7)

I hit a bit of a quandary yesterday. After I hit “Publish” from my blog so that my latest post would go to my Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. accounts, I realized how many friends of mine would likely have birthdays between Ash Wednesday, earlier this week, and Easter Sunday. If I’m not on FB, I won’t get the notifications to wish them a “Happy Birthday!” So this post is short and sweet and to the point: Happy Birthday to Everyone who has a birthday between February 14, 2018 and April 1, 2018.

May God bless you & keep you!

Lenten Vows

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash you face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I took my turn at the altar in church to receive the ashes that seal my promises to the Lord throughout the 6 week season of Lent:

1. I will write 3 pages every day of my novel. (This is a discipline-building vow; I’ve grown lax)
2. I am giving up all forms of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) except for the link between this blog and my social media accounts. In other words, people will still receive my posts through these mediums but I will not be checking my accounts for any messages or reading the feeds for 6 weeks (and I hope all of my friends see this so they’ll know I didn’t fall off of the face of the earth; call or write the old-fashioned, real connection way!)
3. I am limiting my music video viewing on YouTube to only 2 hours per week; some weeks I spend several hours on a rainy Monday afternoon instead of writing the aforementioned book or finishing up a homework assignment…and I won’t mention all the myriad chores piling up about the home and homestead.
4. No sugars outside of my daily cuppa tea

May God bless you & keep you!

Christian Support for LGBTQ

“The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what He has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord Him glory as God or give Him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes. Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to the their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.” (Romans 1:18-28)

Yesterday was one of my patented “Oh, crap (G-rated version of expletive), I’m running late again!” mornings. It was Sunday and I didn’t have to be at church until 8 a.m. instead of the usual mad dash to be on the road before 7:30 like most Wednesdays through Saturdays. Of course, that was the problem. I had “plenty of time,” or so I thought. But that is neither here nor there and I’m getting off topic. To keep the long story short, I got to church about 10 minutes late. With many blushes, I slipped into a back pew, got down on bended knee and then settled myself to listen to the next 40 minutes or so of the homily. Of course, being late, I was still working through that last minute adrenaline rush. For those first few moments, my mind continued to race and dart about, unable to focus.

And then I was brought up short.

Did Father Ben just say what I think he said? Did he just ask us to love our brethren…yeah, I’m used to hearing about loving and praying for our brethren regardless of the color of their skin or economic status, etc., etc., etc., but…regardless of their lifestyle? He didn’t label it as a choice (because it is not); he simply said lifestyle. I confess, it is the first time I have heard any member of the clergy utter anything that might be loving towards anyone identifying as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (or Questioning)). In fact, I’ve even heard horror stories of some clergy (and it extends across many denominations) refusing to give even a eulogy for someone who is LGBTQ.

I smiled. This sermon’s been too long in coming.

Father Ben is new to my parish. Father Elson left the parish last December to return to India. I miss him, as do many other parishioners, for he breathed new life into our parish in so many ways. Well, it seems Father Ben is doing likewise. And, to confirm that, yes, I did hear what I thought I heard, he went on to ask us to extend the hand of fellowship to all of God’s children…from every shade and tone of skin, walk of life, culture, country of origin and, yes, even if homosexual. (Yes, he uttered the word)

I felt this warmth settle over me. And I’m sure Father Ben knows the passage of Scripture I quoted at the beginning of this post even better than I do. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Catholic priests spend something like 12 years in seminary (maybe more). So, yes, he knows this passage that so many quote to malign and ostracize those who identify as LGBTQ.

How many plantation owners used biblical passages to “justify” the ownership of another human being before the American Civil War?

This is also the second “nudge” I feel He has given me in as many weeks to write this post. The first was last week’s anthropology class reading about how many Native American tribes refer to LGBTQ as people “gifted with ‘Two Spirits'” and have a third gender identified in their culture for “those born with both the male and female spirit”(MindEdge, Inc, 2016, 5.26). Rather than reviling someone for their orientation, they hold them in very high regard. These people of “Two Spirits” often become holy men and women within the tribe because it is said that they have a deeper understanding and empathy towards others, having the body of one but the inclinations of the other. This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve looked at my Native American heritage with so much respect and admiration. Despite being termed as “savages” by early settlers, and having had no formal teachings, or readings of the Bible before Europeans arrived, our First Nations’ people have/had a deeper understanding of the Lord and His teachings than many more “learned” members of the clergy (and I believe the first part of the above passage would explain that, being so close to His creation (nature) as they are/were…). Would that the values and beliefs our native tribes held for each other have been embraced by greedy European settlers who saw instead a land of great wealth and sought only to cheat and rob them of their land…and even their culture, in some cases. But that’s a different rant for a different day.

I’m procrastinating.

You see, this blog post has been written and re-written numerous times. And I’m still dipping that proverbial toe into those turbulent waters and pulling it back out again repeatedly. I confess, I have shied away every time before hitting “Post”. This is a controversial subject. Oftentimes, it leads to heated discussions. It has even escalated into acts of violence in some instances. And I avoid conflict like the plague. If you accused me of timidity, I’d probably turn on you like a viper; you’ve hit a nerve. I could blame it on a childhood where violence and abuse were re-occurring events but I can only blame the childhood so far. It may have left me with a bitter taste for conflict but it is no excuse for not standing up for what I believe is right and true. I believe God is telling me that He can’t use me if I’m going to play it “safe” and avoid the conflicts. If I’m going to follow Him, I have to be brave. I have to trust that He’s got my back. And that He knows my heart, knows that this post comes from a place of love. His love. He isn’t asking me to go looking for the conflicts; He’s asking me not to shy away from them. When they matter.

I am hetero. I don’t say this out of any phobia. It’s simply a fact of life. And there’s a point to it if everyone stays with me here…both Christian and non, hetero and LGBTQ. I was born with this orientation. Both ex-husbands were male. And any dating has also been with men. That’s not going to change today, tomorrow, next week, or next year. It is as natural to me as breathing to date men. And I have to believe that for anyone who identifies as LGBTQ, the same is true…but yet the opposite. I.e. it is as natural as breathing, for example, for a homosexual male to seek another man when dating as it is for me to do the same…even though I am female. In other words, again, it is not a CHOICE. We are born with our orientations, whatever it is for each of us.

And I firmly believe that.

I have two cousins who are in same-sex relationships, one male, one female. In fact, they are both in what our society terms “civil unions” with their partners. They were also brought up in Christian homes. I can’t imagine the courage it took to open up about themselves, and the people they ultimately fell in love with, but I can tell you one thing: not a single member of our family was the least bit surprised. You see, though one is female and the other male, biologically, they each had certain…I’m going to say “elements” of the opposite gender. (Or maybe I should borrow that Native American terminology and say they had ‘two spirits’…) The female cousin is of my own generation. We spent our early childhoods together but then my family moved out West. When we returned to New England, that first Christmas home, my grandmother hosted a Christmas party in her basement. I was looking forward to seeing my cousins again; it had been many years. And then my eyes settled on someone behind the bar, someone I didn’t recognize at first. I remember asking one of my other cousins who the boy was behind the bar. It was my female cousin. She hadn’t opened up about her sexuality yet; she was still only about 15 and, doubtless, finding her way, coming to terms with it all…maybe building the courage to speak up, as her parents had left the Catholic faith and become born-again. I imagine their church may have taken a harder line on homosexuality. The other cousin, a boy, is closer in age to my much-younger brother. I never mistook him for a girl but, even as young as 4 or 5 years old, the age he was when we first returned home, you could see the two spirits lighting him up from within. And at 4 or 5 years of age, I seriously doubt he was even thinking about his sexuality yet. Yes, each chose their life’s partner, just as I chose my ex-husbands. But the orientation that pointed them in the direction their dating life took was not a choice.

What was a choice was for past generations of LGBTQ to marry someone of the opposite gender, even knowing their attraction was to the same gender (or maybe both…or maybe they just liked wearing the traditional clothes of another gender–we could go on). I’m going to guess that maybe some thought there was something “wrong” with them for this preference. And sometimes their religion (if any) rained fire and brimstone down on their heads, quoting passages like the above, so that they were too afraid to open up about their orientation. Because such things weren’t talked about in past generations (I’m a 50-something woman). Being openly LGBTQ 30, 40, 50 years ago was a serious taboo. You could lose your job or your career; be denied housing; be denied the right to serve your country in the military; be beaten…even killed for something that is inherently a part of each of us and cannot be changed by something as limiting as a “choice”. Our orientation is like our hair or eye color. Sure, I could open up a bottle of Clairol and dye my hair red or blond (and I have done both in the past) but, when my hair grows out, it will grow out brown again (okay, brown with lots of silver highlights…). I can insert a contact lens to make my eye appear brown but, underneath that lens, the iris is still blue. It’s an illusion, a lie.

Much like one hetero and one homosexual person marrying and trying to make it work.

Perhaps, in past generations, some have managed to make it “work”; I’m sure, though their orientation was towards their own gender, they still loved their spouse…much like I might love a sister, a mother, my best friends. But, if we could talk to those people, what would they say? No, this isn’t about fulfillment or completeness; that’s a fabrication of our instant gratification society. This is about something that, for the person experiencing it, feels dreadfully wrong to them. It’s something that must surely have made these past generations feel very uncomfortable…as many of us who are hetero would feel with someone of our own gender. That’s just not how we’re oriented…and the shoe fits on the other foot, so to speak. It takes courage to open up about your orientation…even in today’s world where it has become more commonplace and accepted.

But what about the above Scripture I quoted in the beginning? There’s some pretty specific stuff there against being with someone of the same gender. Granted, it implies that these were adults who chose to start worshiping idols and following the adversary…and so He punished them by making them “burn with lust” for their own gender. It doesn’t say anything about children growing up with one body but having the mannerisms, or “spirit”, of the other. It doesn’t say anything about orientation. Of course, it also doesn’t say anything about these people loving each other. It says they lusted after each other. That may be the key word here. But, to play a bit of devil’s advocate here, why would God create a person with an orientation towards their own gender if He would also consider it a punishment to burn with lust for such? And therein lies the slippery slope that a lay minister, such as myself, with only two semesters of theology, does not have an adequate answer for. So maybe I’m wrong about the “choice” thing. (Again, everyone, please stay with me here…)

However, what if I am wrong? What if it isn’t a choice? In my heart, I don’t believe that it is a choice, based upon both the strength and confidence in my own orientation, and what I have observed in others–both friends and family members alike–who are of the LGBTQ community. But I am willing to explore both sides of the “debate”.

If I am wrong, and our orientation is a choice, how does ostracism and bigotry against someone who makes a “choice” that doesn’t fall in line with our own, show Jesus’ Light and Love? How does pointing the finger of judgment awaken a conviction in people to walk with Jesus? Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This statement qualifies: it doesn’t quantify. It doesn’t say only to love those neighbors with whom we agree or approve of. How would we feel if someone looked at something about us, a lifestyle, a skin color, or any other thing and rejected us in His name? That may be why our churches are half-empty each week. Whether a choice or not, our brethren in the LGBTQ are children of God, the same as us. And, in almost every one I have had the grace to know–and love, I have seen His Light in them. If there is sin in their lifestyle “choice”–and we are all guilty of some sin; no holiear-than-thou attitudes allowed here–it is a choice to love another person. Despite the above biblical passage, I’m having a hard time equating “love” with “sin” and calling it “wrong” in the same sentence. Sure, we could argue that the person we love–even if it’s not an orientation thing–is all wrong for us but, if this were a hetero relationship where we felt the two individuals didn’t suit, we wouldn’t condemn them for loving each other. We might point out our observations, our feelings, our opinion…and hope they might come to that realization themselves in time…but, most of us, wouldn’t condemn their feelings for each other. We may not see it but they see something in the other that speaks to their heart.

Again, I may be wrong. But it is not a choice. It is how a person is made. Perhaps our orientation is one of those crosses we have to bear in life (i.e. because of others’ intolerance and discrimination). Perhaps people are being created with so many different orientations to teach us to be more loving and tolerant. And, yes, I’ve heard that the word “tolerant” isn’t in the Bible. However, it’s meaning is: love your neighbor as yourself.

Father Ben said to extend that hand of fellowship.

To everyone.

Regardless.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

MindEdge, Inc. (2016). Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Waltham, MA: MindEdge, Inc.