Monday, September 26, 2011

Do you hear yourself?!

So I reposted a little religious piece going around Facebook earlier. I like doing these things to get people thinking - stir things up a bit. These debates are usually what spawn my blog posts... But it was about an atheist and a little girl on an air plane...

And this is what I got out of the entire thing... what we say as believers to other people, or non-believers. How we present ourselves. The things we say to try and spread the news about Jesus. Many times I have to ask "do you hear yourself?!" Many times religious folk are the ones spewing out hate, negativity, nastiness. They are so wrapped up in their personal belief system and the idea that someone else doesn't think the same way they do, they lose focus from what they are supposed to be doing!

HELLO! I think God's up there screaming "REMEMBER ME?!" If we could just stop our religious brains for a minute, and remember those good ole bracelets we used to wear as kids - WWJD. Honestly, think about it! Think about your words - remember the post on Baggage? Words hurt, and they cut deep. What kind of impact do you think you have on someone when you tell someone they don't know crap? Or that their thoughts are just stupid? Does that make you sound intelligent on the subject? Does that really make that person want to have what you do?

A dear friend of mine (Patrick you know I love you, but I have to run with this) said he'd tell an atheist to "get get right with God." Well here's the problem - they don't believe in God. From the POV of a believer, with an open mind, trying to not only lead people to Christ, but also get these spoon-fed religious folks on the right page, I'm thinking NOT the best approach.

Someone walks up to you and says they are an atheist, God doesn't exist, etc. You turn around and blast them with negativity - the crap you're spewing isn't any better than their crap. Doesn't stink less. It's still crap. I think we need to take this to next Wednesday night's class - how should we (as believers) respond, lovingly, to someone's idea God doesn't exist? My thoughts on this - we can't really respond, not easily, and we can't change their mind in an instant. And we sure as heck aren't reaching them through our negative responses. Might be wiser to bite our tongues... and show the love of Christ... remember that? Isn't that what we're supposed to be after here? Just a thought.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Religion is a Discriminatory, Wordly Mess

There is a difference in religion (organized, by man) and one's faith. Religion divides people, faith in something brings people together.

Religion. noun
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
the practice of religious  beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

Religion is nothing but a worldly mess. There are 10s of thousands of religions worldwide. There are 1000s of different Christian denominations alone! Does anyone not honestly see the problem here? Division. Separation. 

Religion is one of the most discriminatory things on this earth.
Religious discrimination is valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe.
Religious people do this more than anyone else on this earth. 

When I was in school, my parents tried to enroll me in a private Christian academy up in Indiana. I was bullied profusely in school, and they wanted to get me out of that atmosphere and into a "better" one... Do you know why I was denied admittance? It wasn't because of my grades... it wasn't because of my "qualifications" or educational abilities... that were a bit lacking, but it was because I was too worried about bullies to apply myself. But their reason for denial was because my mom didn't attend church regularly. They bluntly told us that was their reasoning in the acceptance letter, I kid you not. My mom wasn't even a non-believer. She just didn't feel comfortable in the church we attended, and I really didn't either. I was a lost-soul, stuck in a place where I was hurting, and we were turned away, cast out.  

So religious people discriminate against "non-church folk." They discriminate against gays. Some discriminate against women (in leadership positions), others discriminate based on race, social status, and then there is sin. Some church's won't allow a divorced woman or man to remarry within their religious institution. Others don't allow homosexuals to become members. People have been shunned for getting a divorce, or having a baby outside of wedlock. They make the church "look bad."

But you know who doesn't discriminate? Do you know who doesn't look at one sin as any different than another? Who knows we all fall short? Christ died on that cross so that we may be saved! All we have to do is believe and ask God into our hearts. Religion makes it seem so difficult, and sometimes confusing, as to how we are supposed to gain our salvation. But it is clear, that it is simple, all we have to do is accept Christ as our savior. He did the hard part!!!

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. . .” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22)
Because one person disobeyed God, many people became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many people will be made right in God's sight” (Romans 5:19)
“‘And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to myself.’ He said this to indicate how he was going to die” (John 12:32-33)
“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-11)   
 So in the end, we don't need some man-made religion to tell us right from wrong. Heck, they don't even know. They can't even agree on it half the time. We need to search ourselves, and ask God to show us the way. Am I saying stop going to church or believe what they teach is ALL wrong? No. Not if you are in a church home where you feel loved, welcome, and at peace. Just don't be afraid to study for yourself -  because trusting the word or translation from any other man regarding YOUR faith and YOUR salvation shouldn't be the way you determine right from wrong. 

I attend a wonderful church with people I care about, where I feel welcomed and loved for who I am - the way God made me. Just because I have an opposition with organized religion doesn't mean there aren't good church's, with good people, out there. And we all fall short, none of us are perfect. Many church's are much more "lost" than others to their own doctrine and ways. But there are some, that understand the difference between religion and a relationship. The simple definition of Church, from the apostle Paul, is a gathering of people to worship the Lord.You don't have to get up every Sunday and go "play church" if that is all you are doing... it's not about pleasing "the church" it's about pleasing God through your worship. 

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." - Mohanda Gandhi

Friday, September 16, 2011

Religious Debate Cracks Me Up!

So there have been several "religious" debates on CafeMom (what's new right?) You know I used to go into these things hard right... but now that I've truly opened my mind and heart to what Christian faith is supposed to be about, I laugh at some of the right-winged responses... when these extremists attack non-believers with their religion, for their lack of belief or difference of opinion, what do they honestly expect the outcome to be?

One's personal faith is supposed to be about a relationship with God, not religion. We are supposed to strive to better ourselves and our faith, to live our daily lives so that God shows through our actions and people wonder, and want to know what it's about! Not shoving religious doctrine down people's throats - which has only ever pushed people further away from Christ... Arguing with non-believers over religion is extreme, and ridiculous. It is our job to show the love of Christ through our daily lives - it is Christ's job to save people with his love!

I think I've found a new calling from God for my life... because I have this new-found understanding  of my faith, I can truly minister to others.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm a Christian, but I Support Gay Marriage - WHY?

The purpose of this explanation is to open hearts and minds. To make you think... This is a topic God puts on my heart regularly - it's not a topic personal to me, so I'm pretty darn sure he put it there, otherwise I don't have much other explanation for why I'm so passionate about it...

I am a Christian, but I support gay marriage. Why? Because I love the sinner and hate the sin. It is wrong to discriminate and no religion should dictate whether or not someone (despite their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation) should be able to get married and obtain the benefits we take for granted as married heterosexuals. That doesn't make me an immoral fool... Christ didn't hang out with perfect people, or even religious people. Christ hung out in the slums, with the sinners. He didn't judge them... he didn't discriminate against them. He just loved them - and this is how he won hearts and saved them; not by shoving religion down their throats... And I didn't always think this way... I used to be plenty narrow minded myself. 

Gandhi said it  best: I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. It's a sad truth... but many who call themselves Christians today do not represent Christ.  He wants us to show others what he's done in our lives, by how we live, not shove things down their throats with our words.

God never said gays can't legally marry... you show me where it says that (word for word) and prove me wrong. God didn't say governments have to conform to religion when creating laws. Christians can see homosexuality as a sin, but stay out of their affairs to get married. We don't have to hold them back. We don't have to vote for it, but we also don't have to vote against it. We could choose to stay out of it, and that does not make us a bad people. We can hate the sin, but we don't have to publicly eliminate it - we CAN'T eliminate it. Only God holds that power, but he gives us free will. But as a sin, it is no bigger than any other sin... we don't try to make divorce illegal, arrogance, bitterness, boasting... none of those sins are any different in God's eyes. It will not be the end of the world if gay are allowed to marry. It will not "defy the sanctity of marriage", which didn't even begin with religion. And on the subject of the divorce rate, heterosexuals need to make our own marriages work before we go telling other people who can and can't get married -- and even then no religion should have that right. Marriage it not just a Christian institution or right.

I guarantee you God is not happy with that way many Christians act in respect to homosexuals & equal rights. He is not happy with the hatred and discrimination passed by "church folk." Many churches won't even let a homosexual become a member of their congregation... None of this may apply to you personally, but it applies to many who call themselves Christians. Those are the people many of us are trying to reach.


"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words may never hurt me." That is the biggest lie we teach our children. Words can hurt, and they cut deep. - SkitGuys

This was our lesson last night during Wed night bible study. And boy did it ever hit home. Every time someone hurts us, we add baggage to our lives if we are unable to let it go and forgive, and give it all to God. I found I was still struggling with some baggage that I thought I'd let go... but was still carrying around.

Psalms 38:19 reads "Those who are my foes without cause are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully." For me this is the hardest baggage to deal with, and let go of. Especially when the wrongful hate of others is an ongoing thing in your life.

This morning I gave my baggage to God. I prayed for him to teach me to love and forgive those who have wronged me, and to touch and bless them as well. I was reminded of a song by Casting Crowns where it says "Lord I lift my friend to you, I've done all that I know to do, I lift my friend to you. Complicated circumstances have clouded his view, Lord I lift my friend up to you." That was my prayer this morning for the circumstances and a couple of people who surround me, have hurt me, and have left me with baggage in my heart.

I love them with all my heart, and I forgive them. I pray that they can forgive my past and move on, and learn to love me as well. I let go of my baggage, because it's not fair to me or to those I love for me to continue to carry it...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Origin of the Institution of Marriage


The origins of marriage 

The institution of marriage is now the subject of a bitter national debate. How did marriage begin-and why?

How old is the institution?
The best available evidence suggests that it's about 4,350 years old. For thousands of years before that, most anthropologists believe, families consisted of loosely organized groups of as many as 30 people, with several male leaders, multiple women shared by them, and children. As hunter-gatherers settled down into agrarian civilizations, society had a need for more stable arrangements. The first recorded evidence of marriage ceremonies uniting one woman and one man dates from about 2350 B.C., in Mesopotamia. Over the next several hundred years, marriage evolved into a widespread institution embraced by the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. But back then, marriage had little to do with love or with religion.

What was it about, then?
Marriage's primary purpose was to bind women to men, and thus guarantee that a man's children were truly his biological heirs. Through marriage, a woman became a man's property. In the betrothal ceremony of ancient Greece, a father would hand over his daughter with these words: "I pledge my daughter for the purpose of producing legitimate offspring." Among the ancient Hebrews, men were free to take several wives; married Greeks and Romans were free to satisfy their sexual urges with concubines, prostitutes, and even teenage male lovers, while their wives were required to stay home and tend to the household. If wives failed to produce offspring, their husbands could give them back and marry someone else.

When did religion become involved?
As the Roman Catholic Church became a powerful institution in Europe, the blessings of a priest became a necessary step for a marriage to be legally recognized. By the eighth century, marriage was widely accepted in the Catholic church as a sacrament, or a ceremony to bestow God's grace. At the Council of Trent in 1563, the sacramental nature of marriage was written into canon law.

Did this change the nature of marriage?
Church blessings did improve the lot of wives. Men were taught to show greater respect for their wives, and forbidden from divorcing them. Christian doctrine declared that "the twain shall be one flesh," giving husband and wife exclusive access to each other's body. This put new pressure on men to remain sexually faithful. But the church still held that men were the head of families, with their wives deferring to their wishes.

When did love enter the picture?
Later than you might think. For much of human history, couples were brought together for practical reasons, not because they fell in love. In time, of course, many marriage partners came to feel deep mutual love and devotion. But the idea of romantic love, as a motivating force for marriage, only goes as far back as the Middle Ages. Naturally, many scholars believe the concept was "invented" by the French. Its model was the knight who felt intense love for someone else's wife, as in the case of Sir Lancelot and King Arthur's wife, Queen Guinevere. Twelfth-century advice literature told men to woo the object of their desire by praising her eyes, hair, and lips. In the 13th century, Richard de Fournival, physician to the king of France, wrote "Advice on Love," in which he suggested that a woman cast her love flirtatious glances-"anything but a frank and open entreaty."

Did love change marriage?
It sure did. Marilyn Yalom, a Stanford historian and author of A History of the Wife, credits the concept of romantic love with giving women greater leverage in what had been a largely pragmatic transaction. Wives no longer existed solely to serve men. The romantic prince, in fact, sought to serve the woman he loved. Still, the notion that the husband "owned" the wife continued to hold sway for centuries. When colonists first came to America-at a time when polygamy was still accepted in most parts of the world-the husband's dominance was officially recognized under a legal doctrine called "coverture," under which the new bride's identity was absorbed into his. The bride gave up her name to symbolize the surrendering of her identity, and the husband suddenly became more important, as the official public representative of two people, not one. The rules were so strict that any American woman who married a foreigner immediately lost her citizenship.

How did this tradition change?
Women won the right to vote. When that happened, in 1920, the institution of marriage began a dramatic transformation. Suddenly, each union consisted of two full citizens, although tradition dictated that the husband still ruled the home. By the late 1960s, state laws forbidding interracial marriage had been thrown out, and the last states had dropped laws against the use of birth control. By the 1970s, the law finally recognized the concept of marital rape, which up to that point was inconceivable, as the husband "owned" his wife's sexuality. "The idea that marriage is a private relationship for the fulfillment of two individuals is really very new," said historian Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap. "Within the past 40 years, marriage has changed more than in the last 5,000."

Men who married men
Gay marriage is rare in history-but not unknown. The Roman emperor Nero, who ruled from A.D. 54 to 68, twice married men in formal wedding ceremonies, and forced the Imperial Court to treat them as his wives. In second- and third-century Rome, homosexual weddings became common enough that it worried the social commentator Juvenal, says Marilyn Yalom in A History of the Wife. "Look-a man of family and fortune-being wed to a man!" Juvenal wrote. "Such things, before we're very much older, will be done in public." He mocked such unions, saying that male "brides" would never be able to "hold their husbands by having a baby." The Romans outlawed formal homosexual unions in the year 342. But Yale history professor John Boswell says he's found scattered evidence of homosexual unions after that time, including some that were recognized by Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches. In one 13th-century Greek Orthodox ceremony, the "Order for Solemnisation of Same Sex Union," the celebrant asked God to grant the participants "grace to love one another and to abide unhated and not a cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God and all thy saints."

Gay Rights - Marriage Benefits - What you may not know!!!

So at church one night, Patrick and I were talking about homosexuality and the bible. He told me how he'd asked two pastors in years past if they would allow homosexuals to join the church, and they told him no... All I could think is WOW - and these are pastors!!! What hypocrisy!

So out of pure curiosity, we asked our pastor the same question... and he said yes, homosexuals can join the church. Just another confirmation that I'm where I'm supposed to be regarding my church home and family. I feel this is a big step for Christianity.

Not all Christians support homosexuality and believe it is a sin yes, but they shouldn't support discrimination by denying them their rights. They shouldn't judge them or condemn them, or cast them away. We need to love them and embrace them. Discrimination is WRONG, period. No matter if it's for race, gender, sexual orientation, religion... it's wrong.

There is a long laundry list of rights that many people don't realize are a big part of marriage, that gays are being denied! How is that constitutional? How is that right? You can disagree with homosexuality, but don't hold them back - love the sinner, hate the sin. Everyone should have the same rights! Marriage shouldn't be deemed "reasonable" by any religion. Marriage has become a 'game' for a lot of people anymore & the "Christian" vows mean very little a lot of the time. Heterosexuals have been "defying the sanctity of marriage" for years... Why shouldn't gays be afforded the right to marry & secure the rights a marriage brings? Marriage should be a choice for all.

Posted by mrswillie on Sep. 13, 2011 at 2:56 PM 

When speaking of benefits of marriage, their are so many that we, as heterosexual couples, take for granted everyday.  These are compiled of about 400 state benefits and 1000 federal benefits.  Here are just a few.  Note...this is not nearly a complete list.
  • status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions where one partner is too ill to be competent;
  • benefits such as annuities, pension plans, Social Security, and Medicare
  • wrongful death benefits for a surviving partner and children
  • bereavement or sick leave to care for a partner or child
  • joint parenting
  • joint adoption
  • joint foster care, custody, and visitation (including non-biological parents)
  • dissolution and divorce protections such as community property and child support
  • immigration and residency for partners from other countries
  • inheritance automatically in the absence of a will
  • joint leases with automatic renewal rights in the event one partner dies or leaves the house or apartment
  • inheritance of jointly-owned real and personal property through the right of survivorship (which avoids the time and expense and taxes in probate)
  • spousal exemptions to property tax increases upon the death of one partner who is a co-owner of the home
  • veterans' discounts on medical care, education, and home loans; joint filing of tax returns
  • joint filing of customs claims when traveling
  • decision-making power with respect to whether a deceased partner will be cremated or not and where to bury him or her
  • crime victims' recovery benefits
  • domestic violence protection orders
  • judicial protections and evidentiary immunity