We Still Don’t Know How to Grieve

Image

 

I remember remaining silent as I sat huddled with friends around the TV. The news had just interrupted our show to tell us that Seal Team Six had taken out Osama Bin Laden. For the next half hour my buddies tried to one up each other on what they would do if it was them in front of Bin Laden. How they would bloody his nose a bit first, maybe waterboard him, and then kill him as slowly and painfully as possible.

 

It was a lot of weird feelings. I knew exactly what Bin Laden did. He was responsible for deaths of thousands of innocent lives. He was unrepentant and smug about it. He believed that God was on his side.

 

And yet, I still found myself torn. Two distinctly different forces were pulling me in opposite directions. While I should have been happy that “justice” was served, all I could think about were crowds outside the White House dancing and singing. The jeers and Huckabee tweeting  “rot in hell Osama”, all of it, made me feel so sick. There was no peace to be found that night. Collectively, we had found a reason to let our inner beasts roar. We desecrated prayer. At least the ones people mentioned on facebook. I saw prayers for locks on the Pearly Gates, and that the pit of hell would come alive with suffering.

 

It was the clearest and most understandable moment of cognitive dissonance in my life. The world was telling me throw a party, ding dong the wicked witch is dead! Fly the flag, relish in revenge, take the kids to the TV and say “guys! This is what justice looks like”.

 

But my faith, my conscience, the moral compass within me held back on throwing my hands in the air. I knew this couldn’t be justice. This couldn’t be Christ.

 

Over the past couple days I have seen Adam Lanza called an evil, vile, human piece of garbage. I have seen heartwarming posts of prayers for the families of victims, only to be followed by “burn in hell Adam”.

 

There is a devastation in our disconnect.

 

I understand the anger, I am angry and I think we should all be very pissed right now. But is our anger misdirected?

 

Maybe that’s something to think about.

 

Mental illness comes with all the shame as any stigmatized status in today’s society. Hollywood has made billions off of horror movies of psychos, scary schizos, and those with split personalities. People are terrified of it.

 

But maybe a facet of that fear is of ourselves. Maybe on some subconscious level we all fear our own insanity.

 

I have problems with anxiety. There was one bad spell where I told my parents I thought I was losing my mind. I didn’t believe I truly existed. There is nothing more frightening than fear of yourself. Fear of our fallen nature. Fear of becoming the monster.

 

It is time to think differently about evil.

It exists, but it is not always chosen.

 

As Christians we know that this man was not evil.

Satan is.

And all of us, even Jesus, have fought against his advances every day of our lives.

 

But sick people don’t have the same strength to fight back. That’s what we are here for.

 

Adam Lanza was the least of these. He was the one Christ called us to care for. He was sick and we failed him. We failed those families, we failed humanity, and worst of all, we failed the Father.

 

Calling this man a monster only makes Satan that much stronger. Every time we do, we are stealing every ounce of credit he deserves. He couldn’t ask for a better deal. He bets on our inability to see the monster behind the man whispering in his ear. We know spiritual evil when we see it. I know Satan loves nothing more than taking kids away from parents. In the days of Christ he would send demons to posses children, make them hurt themselves and their loved ones around them. This is NOT to say that Adam Lanza suffered from possession, but his weakness were exploited by the enemy. Satan is the culprit. We can hate him.

 

This man needed compassion and protection. He needed a society that didn’t shame him for his vulnerability towards violence. If we continue to wage war on the symptoms and not the causes, we should not expect any recovery. If we continue to ridicule those that feel isolated and misunderstood, it should not surprise us when they hit back. If we continue to neglect their need for attention, our children will bear the cost with their blood.

 

We need to rethink evil. We need to remember Satan. And we need to start seeing the least of these in every corner of life.

 

RR

Doubt and Civility like Coffee and Cream

Hand Pouring Cream into Coffee Cup

This post is born from this mornings read by one of the most empathetic intellectual thinkers in America:

David Blankenhorn is the President of the Institute for American Values who has long been an advocate against same-sex marriage. He has recently changed his mind, which surprisingly, has no bearing on my positive feelings towards him. Influential gay writer and one of the first proponents of marriage equality, Andrew Sullivan, wrote,

“He is perhaps the most clearly decent, intellectually honest, non-homophobic opponent of marriage equality.”

On his blog, Blankenhorn wrote a piece that is one of the most redemptive efforts towards reconciliation. Titled Doubt, Sweet Doubt, the content surrounds the necessity of uncertainty. It is about why doubt and civility are so intertwined with one another. Why there is no reason for disagreements to become disagreeable when there is an acknowledgment of our inability to be certain. This is such a breath of fresh air in every political and theological conflict that occurs today. It is healing and harmonious. Redemptive. Reconciliation-centric. He is tackling something that we all know too well, but never discuss.

This excerpt isn’t packed with an emotional punch, he’s an intellectual after all. But follow the link at the bottom to see the video that shows the beauty of bonding despite disagreements.

I won’t steal any more of his thunder, here’s an excerpt and a link to the full post:

“But at bottom it seems to me that, for the certain person – the person who is typically confident that he or she knows the truth of the matter – civility is mostly a question of good manners, or of moral correctness, perhaps also mixed in with the strategic recognition that demonstrating civility is tactically helpful as one seeks to persuade others of the true position.  In other words, for the certain person, civility tends to be behavior that is largely (though perhaps not entirely) selfless, essentially a matter of correct conduct and good deportment.

 

But for the doubting person – the person who is typically uncertain that he or she is right – civility is still correct deportment, but it’s also far more.  For the doubting person, civility is like oxygen.  It’s personally necessary.  Why?  Because without it, I can’t get what I need.

 

What I need as a doubting person is the wisdom of the other.  I need what the other has to offer, to correct my own acknowledged noetic shortcomings and to help my own views (which I know are always partial, we see in a glass darkly) become truer views.  As a doubting person, civility is more than being nice.  Civility is part of what allows me to eat what I must eat and drink what I must drink.

 

So that’s why I say that doubt and civility go together naturally.  But if you’ll indulge me, let me say a bit more, in praise of doubt. I’m 57, and I used to know much more than I do now.  As I get older, I find that I grow in doubt, and I’m grateful for that.  Intellectually, I depend on doubt.  Doubt is my friend.  I don’t mean that I’ve stopped having beliefs, or stopped being passionate about those beliefs; it’s just that I’m more and more certain, when it comes to the free life of the mind, of the importance of uncertainty.”  (Bold Emphasis Mine)

When we acknowledge that our convictions may be incorrect, we inevitably need the relationship of the other. We need the friendship. We need empathy to explore what life looks like in the other’s shoes. We require their company.

In discussing his relationship with marriage equality advocate Jonathan Rauch, especially while he was still opposed to gay marriage, he speaks to how intellectuals dismiss friendships and experiences as subjective, irrelevant and unreliable in the formation of convictions. But, the error that Blankenhorn points out is that when we sit in our studies drawing out theories of belief about the other’s positions, we build “barriers to belief”. In other words, we become creators of caricatures.

If you want to watch more of this reconciliation in color, here’s a video of his sit down with Jonathan Rauch, on Krista Tippet’s website, On Being.

RR

Redeeming the Last Post

Image

 

Whenever one posts something, be it blog, twitter, facebook, whatever, if mixed feelings come before the click, it’s probably best to sleep on it.

The other day my feelings were mixed, but I shot it out anyway.

Two things happened since then.

1) I emailed a buddy across the blogosphere (Julie of Incite Faith) and asked if she thought I came on too abrasively. Her response was a great wake up call.

““But the line must be drawn between good and poisoned fruit.”

The line is love.

Love is what bridges the gap.”

2) The post was also reprinted on another site. A commenter said he felt compelled to give a response of truth because Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.”

Ouch.

I wrote about the bad fruits emerging from the ex gay industry and I meant it. The loud chorus of survivors coming out of reparative therapy doesn’t suggest a ministry of redemption. My own flirtation with it gives me insight into how the fruit tastes. I have seen too much and heard too much. I cannot cast this therapy aside as an “option” or “alternative”, because lives are literally at stake here.

And yes, I have some serious concerns about the fact that this is a business more than a ministry.

Having said that, I made the awful mistake of blurring therapy with therapists. Throwing babies out with the bathwater you could say. Maybe that’s why I had mixed feelings. And maybe I felt that the “poison apple” parallel packed a bigger punch, but in the process, I allowed a personal vendetta against Ms. Hamilton to reach a new low. And when you’re throwing low blows, you’re failing the Father.

There is something that I innately implied into yesterday’s post that is a gross mischaracterization: when I said “ex gay” I was referring to the therapy, not the clients or the therapists. It was a lazy mistake. But a big one.

I know people that have gone through the reparative process, and while they spoke of it’s damage, they never considered counselors to be cruel. Some even have fond memories of them. And we… I, need to entertain the idea that this may be true.

The words of Ms. Julie Hamilton had devastating consequences on my family, but that does not mean her intent was devastation. I don’t know her. And to be perfectly honest, she’s likely a wonderful person.

Ex gay counselors across the board may care more about gay folks than most people. It takes a special someone to trot into the trenches with strangers struggling with their sexual identity. And if that someone sincerely believes that reparative therapy is what’s best for their patient, then their reasons are rooted in love. More love than the words I wrote yesterday.

Justin Lee, author of the book, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs Christian Debate, writes in his book… well, what I should have written in my post:

“Christians really are a compassionate bunch, even though the cultural reputation we have right now doesn’t reflect that. Because so many Christians- especially evangelical Christians like me- believed that gay relationships were sinful, they also wanted to believe that there was some way that gay people could become straight so that they could legitimately enjoy all the benefits of romance and marriage. The ex-gays wanted to believe this and to provide hope to others. Unfortunately, sometimes that desire for hope got in the way of being completely honest.”

If I start caricaturing even those with whom I most passionately disagree with, this blog is a fraud.

I missed the mark in my message. And I am sorry.

Burning bridges is always abrasive. It is always unhelpful. It is always hurtful. And it is always unchristian.

Cause bridges have no pre-reqs.

Disciples don’t divide. They put humility before vindictiveness and God before themselves.

Mother Teresa once said:

“if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

I traded a bridge for a partition in the last post, and its because I forgot their spot at the feast.

I forgot that no one is beyond redemption.

Not even me.

It’s a new day and God’s grace is fresh.

And I’ll try to be better tomorrow.

Blessings,

RR

Six Reasons Rick Warren is NOT the Boogeyman

 Image

Recently I shot out a tweet to Rick Warren that I… half regret. I say half regret because the second half, in which I said, “who have you become?”, was unfair. The first half, asking him why he still hasn’t responded to the Human Rights Campaign’s call to again condemn and reach out to those in Uganda in an effort to stop the Kill-the-Gays bill from passing, is still very concerning to me. But there are many things I do not know. For instance, he may be doing it covertly and sees a public condemnation as the worst path to reconciliation. You attract bees with honey not vinegar.

 

But after thinking about that tweet and who Rick Warren is, I came to the conclusion that I had written him off as a Boogeyman. My timing is also in sync with many other organizations and blogs have come after him. His perceived silence and stupid comments regarding the LGBT community (Piers Morgan the other night when he compared homosexuality to arsenic).

But many of these writers don’t know how the inner rings of conservative Christianity work, and many do not see how, in the grand scheme of things, Rick is further along than his peers.

 1. He Regrets 2009- Publicly

When Proposition 8 was up for a vote, Rick Warren released a video expressing his support for the measure. What many of us didn’t know was that it was a video only for his church. He wasn’t working in conjunction with the National Organization for Marriage or the GOP.

 

Recently he said that if he could do it over again, he wouldn’t have made the video. A humble admission.

 2. He battles ignorance

Boogeymen love ignorance. It’s what feeds their followers and creates a reality separate from those pesky facts and reasonable people. 

 

Earlier this year, Christian radio host Bryan Fischer, called HIV “harmless” and not the cause of AIDS. And then he basically went back to the AIDS-to-gays is as God-to-judgment analogy, a grotesque theological belief. Even more, he didn’t think AIDS victims were the type of people Christians should care about.  Warren’s wife was first to condemn Fisher, calling his remarks, “indefensible”.

 

Later on they released a joint statement saying:

 

“People living with the virus are people that Jesus created, loves, and died for. Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan teaches us that when you find someone bleeding on the side of the road, you don’t say ‘Was it your fault?’ You just help them in love! Let’s be very careful about what reality we deny; lives are at stake.”

 3. P.E.A.C.E.

Rick and his Church launched the PEACE Plan as a way to use their treasure and influences to change the world for the better. The acronym goes: Promote Reconciliation, Equip Servant Leaders, Assist the Poor, Care for the Sick, Educate the next generation. So far this program has been wildly successful and has brought many folks around the world to Christ.

 4. Kay

When an individual is married to someone as wonderful as Kay Warren, they are probably not a boogeyman. Kay Warren is a champion for finding the cure to HIV/AIDS. She has been a relentless advocate on issues within Africa and around the world. Kay is not simply the woman behind the man, but a force to be reckoned with in the dumpster of poverty and disease. The world is better because of her.

 

 5. He doesn’t use the pulpit to belittle others

Pastor Warren only discusses his views on homosexuality when he is asked, which happens to be a lot since it is the most divisive issue in the church today. He doesn’t hit the gay community from the pulpit and the only time his platform was used as a way to push back gay rights, was in 2009 which he has regretted doing.

 6. He is a Bridge Builder

Pay attention- this one is important.

 

I watched an episode of HuffPost Live this morning, where the interviewer asked about the controversy (in culture) about his views on homosexuality. Warren rightly pointed out that if he disagrees with some on this issue he gets called a hater or a homophobe. Which makes no sense to him because he doesn’t hate anyone nor is he “afraid” of gay people.

 

The pivotal point came when he said that he bases his views on Bible, while others base it on other things like the world and culture. At this moment, the interviewer interrupted him and said, “other people base their beliefs on the Bible too, but have a different interpretation.” Instead of doing what I thought he was going to do, roll his eyes or skip on to something else, he said this:

 

“that is very true. What we need are the kind of conversations you and I are having right now. Non inflammatory, non flaming throwing, not saying ‘you must be a bad person because you disagree with me’ in fact, you can’t convince me to agree with you if you’re saying I’m a bad person… we’re losing our civility in civilization.”

 

THIS IS WHAT MY BLOG IS ABOUT! I love that he said this, because it is so reflective of a heart pursuing reconciliation. That we should never forget the difference between righteousness and rudeness. It is one of the best statements, I believe, he has made on this issue.

 

And some may argue that what he said doesn’t take much to say, but when you think about the other power players in the conservative Christian community who are so rigid in their loyalty to doctrine, this could potentially become a chink in his armor. That is, if they choose to attack him on it.

 

 

Pastor Warren is not perfect, neither am I and neither are you. He has said stupid things about sexual orientation, made ridiculous equivalents to homosexuality, and he will probably continue to do so. But he is not the Boogeyman. He is a faithful pastor who actually has a desire to engage in a meaningful dialogue on the most controversial issue facing the Church today. And he’s learning quickly how to do so in a manner that makes grace and love a top priority.

 

As I said in my post about Mark Driscoll, just because I think Pastor Warren has said destructive things, doesn’t mean his intent is destruction. And even further, he’s a huge net positive for the world. He chooses to take action instead of cheap shots.

 

No Boogeyman here!

 

RR

On (nearly) Betraying my Blog

I came close to making a mistake. A big one.

Living across the pond didn’t spare me the media coverage surrounding the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. For the past year I have watched between the slits of my fingers as Christian leaders from all four corners of the state crusaded up the steps of the Capital, establishing themselves as Biblical Bodyguards.

At first, of course, there was a sting. It never feels good to hear people talk disparagingly about you. But after awhile… it all sorta blended together. I developed a weird tolerance for their intolerance.

Then someone very close to my community began to vocalize his support for the measure. He wrote an article that opened wounds I thought had closed.

The post he penned advocating for the amendment left me distraught and brokenhearted. It wasn’t simply his support for the measure, I know wonderful people who voted yes. No, it was because his message endorsed myths about LGBT people. The very myths that used to color my own self-image. And his tone felt condescending. And the facts were fuzzy. And the “I feel for…” felt phony. All of which left me lost and sad. And then angry.

Swiping the cursor across the screen, I fired up Microsoft Word and began a long and emotionally draining response to his post. With every word, my hands trembled. I intended this letter to be an open one; I planned on pinning up his picture on the blog and to call on all of you to hold him accountable.

Cause that’s all I was doing right? Holding him accountable? Just like a good Christian brother should.

After much editing, reading and rereading, I worked up all the courage I had and went to the Registered Runaway site. Staring at the composition, I stole a glance at my Aunt and told her what I was about to do.

“Send it to him first. It’s a letter after all. Let him respond. Take the honorable route.”

I think, deep down, I was hoping she’d say that.

So I sent along my letter to the pastor using my anonymous email account. I made it clear that he had until 10 PM to respond, the letter would go LIVE then.

For the next hour I checked and rechecked my phone for any reply. I was anxious for his argument, and already preparing my counterpoints.

Another hour passed and then I heard the quiet chirp of my phone. Looking at the unopened message felt like looking down the basement stairs to check on a spooky noise. I just didn’t know what would happen.

I didn’t anticipate an angry response or an ugly condemnation. But I did expect a response, perhaps a more grace filled and compassionate argument reiterating his support for the Amendment.

But what I got, I’m not sure I deserved.

The email was from his wife. Her husband was away speaking at a conference, and she was left to handle his mail.

In one of the most thoughtful emails I have ever received, she apologized for how the post made me feel. She informed me that his post had now been deleted from his site. She wanted me to know that it was never her husband’s intention to hurt anyone. She said she understood that the question of “homosexuality” is far from cut and dry.

She talked about my blog, told me how it moved her and spoke of her sadness about LGBT experiences with the Church (capital C).

 

And she wanted me to know that I am loved. (She bolded that one).

This started a wonderful conversation that resulted in a suggestion from her that I get coffee with her husband. I accepted, telling her I would love to when I return from Europe.

 

Closing down my Mac, I felt a lump rise in my throat.

I had come so close to letting myself down.

 

On this blog, I have been fighting for an end to fighting. A cease-fire.

I’ve been loud about listening and unconditional loving.

About soul saving through story telling.

Maybe it was the miles from home, but I nearly offered bitterness an undeserved audience. I wasn’t just ready to shame a man. Worse yet, I was ready to shame a phenomenal pastor. Someone who is, by all measures, good and Godly. A man I have seen shape the lives of those I love most.

I tried to tell myself I was speaking truth to power, holding my Christian brother accountable, love through correction and all that.

But the reality is- I just wanted vengeance. I wanted to believe that he was attacking me. The caricature was convenient, it allowed my conscience to OK the letter. I made him into an imaginary boogeyman.

And the lump lowered as I realized something else.

I had just been a participant in a holy act of reconciliation. Far more was done in that email exchange to heal my conflict with the Church than a viral protest ever could. While this pastor’s wife could have written me off as a bully, she took the time to visit my blog and read my story. Meanwhile, she disarmed me. She showed me that her husband is not the boogeyman I believed him to be. If only I would sit and talk with him.

This event took me back to previous posts I had written.

Like this one in which I said:

“In our abandonment of Christ’s call to a reconciled human race, we forfeit the game. The pictures we paint of our perceived enemies are only as true as they are convenient. And the worst part of all of this is that our stereotyping only serves to widen the Grand Canyon between us.”

And the post on the family forgiving the man that killed their child:

“This is a staggeringly similar story to God’s forgiveness upon us for taking his one and only child. Tim chose to invest in Takunda and spare him a punishment that probably wouldn’t even begin to match his crime. He chose forgiveness that wasn’t warranted or expected. Forgiveness that was unfair.”

I even glanced back at my “about” page:

“It’s not about the bullied becoming the bullies nor rebel retribution.”

Thank God my Aunt held me accountable. After I told her about the response, she said aloud, “I just got goosebumps! This is good, talking is always soo good.”

In putting the pin back in the grenade I remembered how reconciliation felt.

A lot like hope.

RR

Befriending the Boogeyman

Image

“Hey, Mike, this might sound crazy but I don’t think that kid’s dangerous.”

“Really? Well, in that case, let’s keep it. I always wanted a pet that could kill me.”

Sully and Mike had just past the point of no return in bringing little Boo back to their apartment after an accidental breach of security. And even though Mike didn’t admit it at the time, the scales were certainly falling from his eyes. They both sat there watching her, laying across the floor, coloring with crayons and humming sweet songs to herself.

Monsters Inc may be one of the greatest achievements of Pixar, or at least, my personal favorite. The plot revolves around two monsters living in the alternate universe of Monstropolis. As Scream Collectors, their job is to cross portals that take them into bedrooms of little boys and girls, with the sole objective of getting them to release the most gut-wrenching scream possible. The screams power the city’s energy system. A “necessary evil” you might say.

But scaring kids never really conflicted with their conscience. Kids were public enemy #1, the piranhas of the ocean. As the CEO of their company, Mr. Waternoose, put it:

“There’s nothing more toxic or deadly than a human child. A single touch could kill you. Leave a door open, and one can walk right into this factory; right into the monster world.”

After Sully accidentally brings Boo into the world, the accusations from Mr. Waternoose start to seem a bit silly. Neither him nor Mike shown signs of illness, nor did Boo appear to be aggressively attempting to kill them. And the veil continues to tear as he sees that she not only comes in peace, but has an enormous affection towards him.

As the film comes to a close, the villain, Mr. Waternoose, reveals himself as the mastermind behind the lies about children. And, if this wasn’t criminal enough, he says that parents have given children too much confidence about the non-existence of monsters in the closet, and due to the eventual energy shortage, he planned on taking Boo hostage as a permanent source of scream power.

When Mr. Waternoose is taken down, Mike becomes the new CEO,  and shifts the business model from frightening children, to making them laugh. Laughter is found to be much more palatable to the public and a much more powerful source of energy.

In our non-fiction world we have a tendency to towards the Waternoose model. We pick camps, draw lines and hold seminars about why the other side is made up of sadists. Any attempt made at upholding the dignity of those with whom we disagree is crushed as we crank up the volume on a five-second sound-byte.

In our abandonment of Christ’s call to a reconciled human race, we forfeit the game. The pictures we paint of our perceived enemies are only as true as they are convenient. And the worst part of all of this is that our stereotyping only serves to widen the Grand Canyon between us. Christians that have not met gay and lesbian people have no reason to believe that they are nothing more than glittered up, sex-crazed, pawns of the devil. Gay and lesbian people that do not know conservative Christians have no reason to believe that they are anything more than hateful, narrow-minded, prideful bigots. The wells we drink from color our world in the shades that suit our opinions.

We are something akin to the dad telling his kid not to name the stray he found in the storm. Inevitably he will fall in love with it.

Think about what would happen if we chose to call each other by our names. What if instead of seeing the bigoted Baptist pastor, we got a glimpse of his ten adopted children or his weekend plans at the local soup kitchen? What if instead of seeing the gross gay couple kissing in protest of anti-gay legislation, we flipped through the scrapbook of their mission trip to Haiti and heard about their own accounts of suicidal thoughts? What would happen if we called the other by their name instead of the ones we pick for them? What if we befriended the boogeyman?

Too often I hear both ends of this story. I have the rare experience of standing in the portal between the two worlds, and I have heard every lie imaginable about both.

“gays are trying to destroy the church”

“Christians are trying to force their views down my throat”

“scripture says clearly that these people are an abomination”

“Christians are idiots in their interpretations of the Bible, selectively picking and choosing”

And too often, I add my own fuel to this fire. My previous post about Mark Driscoll was written in anger, something one should never do. But if I am totally honest, attacking Pastor Mark makes me feel better, like somehow I am contributing to the greater good.  Calling him “Pastor Macho” becomes a means to an end type of thing. But I don’t know Pastor Mark. I may think his views are destructive, but that doesn’t mean his intent is destruction. He is likely a very good man, good husband and faithful follower of Christ. AH! Just typing those words makes me cringe because it starts to unravel the boogeyman of my own creation. Which is a good thing.

Maybe we need a Boo invasion, or (in a Biblical parallel) to be swallowed by a whale and shot out to Ninevah. Maybe we need to be forced on a walk around the block until we learn to respect each other, or possibly, love each other.

RR

Measuring My Manhood

Image

My manhood hasn’t always been a huge concern for me. I mean, occasionally I’ll experience the brief insecurity of letting Taylor Swift finish her song as I’m riding in a car full of dudes, but who hasn’t? (and honestly, who doesn’t love her?). There’s also the times when the demon incarnate baseball will roll up to my feet, and I have a moment similar to Smalls in the Sandlot, where I, uh, run it over to its owner. Oh, and also, I don’t really fall under the hetero tent either.

But I have some manly qualities about me. And, in all seriousness, I am very proud to be a man. It’s a unique part of my identity, and just for sake deconstructing stereotypes: no, not all gay men wish they were women or are feminine.

I’m practical, logical, enjoy the outdoors, love fishing, action flicks, working on my core, eating steak-rare,  (this is starting to sound like a dating profile), anyhow, my point is, even if you were to judge me from societal standards, I think you’d consider me a man of men. But all the reasons listed above do not equate to the Biblical definition of what a man is. They are what pop culture defines masculinity as. I am not Chuck Norris nor am I Rambo. And I am no less a man than these two real/fictional characters would have you believe.

Oh, and I am also nothing like Mark Driscoll.

“The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.” (http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2009/01/limp-wristed-jesus.html/)

Latte-sipping Cabriolet drivers do not represent biblical masculinity, because real men — like Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptist — are dudes:  heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes.  In other words, because Jesus is not a limp-wristed, dress-wearing hippie, the men created in his image are not sissified church boys; they are aggressive, assertive, and nonverbal.”

(http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/01/08/jesus-and-masculinity/)

Music to my ears.

According to the list, Driscoll’s list, I flunk with flying colors.

Heterosexual- Doomed from the start

Win-a-fight- Have fought, well wrestled, when I was 7, and I always lost.

Punch-you-in-the-nose- Hate seeing people bleed, next.

Dress wearing hippie- I’ve never worn a dress! Check. But, some would call me hippie-like.

Aggressive- Passive

Assertive- sort of?

Nonverbal– I like to talk about feelings.

So there you have it, I cannot be a member of Mark Driscoll’s Macho Man Club.

Additionally, I don’t make my heavenly father proud.

So, there’s that.

Hold on, let’s tap the brakes.

Jesus, Paul, and John’s turn

 

Heterosexual

While I have very strong doubts that John the Baptist, Paul or Jesus Christ were gay men, they never made public declarations of their sexuality, or even mention a single instance of personal sexual attraction. (perhaps because they weren’t so insecure about it.. driscoll). If this was such an important credential to being a real man, why didn’t they simply say so?

Fighters/Aggressive/Assertive

Jesus nixed our natural tendency towards self-defense by declaring that we take the hit on both sides of the face (Matthew 5:39), and by submitting to a criminal’s death undeserved. And in his instructions for evangelism, he asked us to be “harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16, NLT). Not bullies.

Paul was beaten to a pulp, unprovoked, and he refused to raise his fist. Why? Because according to him, we should not “overcome evil by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21, NIV).

John the Baptist looked soldiers in the eye and told them, “do violence to no man.” (Luke 3:14, KJV)

Dress-wearing hippie

For the sake of serious argument, I will pass on talking about how Paul, and Jesus all likely wore clothes resembling dresses, but John, on the other hand, preferred threads of camel hair (Matthew 3:4).

But the hippie charge. I’ll make this short and sweet. Jesus was raised in poverty and led an all out nonviolent rebellion against the religious order. He hung out with societal undesirables (including WOMEN), and had Woodstock-esque gatherings during his sermon on the mount, and when he fed the five thousand. In today’s context, Jesus would be a hippie.

John the Baptist, was head to toe hippie, he chose a radical lifestyle. He ate bugs, and held gatherings in rivers. His statement to the soldiers reminds me of the flower power generation placing roses in the rifles of cadets.

Paul is the perfect example of a hippie’s biography. He started out as a fundamentalist, a legalist, a persecutor, and then, a life altering talk with Christ, and boom, he abandoned the old ways. Additionally, he was a man of utter tolerance. He brought in Gentiles, women, and children. His reasoning?

“for the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” (Romans 14:17, NIV)

 

That’s hippie talk.

Nonverbal

 

Perhaps the most ridiculous statement made by Mark Driscoll. Jesus turned oration into an art form. The poetic nature of his parables were sensitive stylistically, and incredibly elegant. Jesus never turned anyone away, nor did he dodge dialogue.

*Additionally, this places us in an awkward position if we are to be nonverbal, cause prayer requires the opposite (although it also requires listening!)

Paul was even more verbal and open about his story. He wrote deeply personal accounts of his own pain, regrets and struggles. He didn’t man up and shut up. He wanted to share, yes, his feelings!

John the Baptist was a preacher. Yes, a preacher. But somehow nonverbal? He engaged with the outcasts and was quite vocal about the coming Kingdom.

The irony of Mark Driscoll’s statements in light of these three men (one of them, being God), would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. Tragically, Driscoll took his hate speech one step further.

He beckoned forth the bullies.

Image

I cannot imagine what it was like for these worship pastors to be insulted so publicly. And by none other than a pastor!

I cannot understand how Pastor Mark believes this behavior is becoming of a man of God. In an age of teen suicides resulting from cyber-bullying, pastor Mark called for Christian hazing to his some 200,000 followers on twitter and facebook. It is nothing short of sickening.

And, more than anything, I am amazed that people still follow him.

Rachel Held Evans, a personal favorite of mine, wrote a response post to Mark Driscoll’s declarations.

“Godly men stick up for people, not make fun of them.

Godly men honor women, not belittle them

Godly men love their gay and lesbian neighbors, not ridicule them

Godly men celebrate femininity, not trash it.

Godly men own their sexuality, not flaunt it

Godly men pursue peace, not dismiss it

Godly men rise above violence, not glorify it

Godly men build up the Church, not embarrass it.

 

Godly men imitate Christ—who praised the gentle and the peacemakers, who stood up for the exploited and abused, who showed compassion for the downtrodden, who valued women, and who loved his enemies to the point of death.” – Rachel Held Evans (http://rachelheldevans.com/mark-driscoll-bully)

This woman of God knows more about what’s in the fabric of Biblical manhood than Pastor Macho.

Finally, I am glad I do not make the cut for Mark’s Macho Man club.

Because guess what?

Christ wouldn’t either.

RR