Thursday, April 16, 2009

Let Us Rejoice

This past Sunday was Easter, a day of ultimate rejoicing, a day that celebrates the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Forget Thanksgiving; of all days that was the day to remember all that we have to be thankful for. It was a day to remember the most important thing, really. Something that we should be reminded of, well, every day. Unfortunately, we often don't. We forget to rejoice as much on in other 364 days of the year, which is odd, seeing as Easter is an symbolic celebration on Christ's resurrection; it's not like it's an actual anniversary of a recorded date.

It's so easy to get bogged down with the world. Whether they are things like jobs, school, or even our friends and family, sometimes we get so preoccupied with them that we forget to simply rejoice in the fact that Christ suffered, died, and was resurrected. Since that's largely the foundation of our faith, it's odd that people forget to rejoice in it so often (and you guys should know by now that when I say "people" on this blog, I pretty much mean "me").

But I think the problem goes deeper than that. I think we often have a hard time rejoicing in the ordinary, everyday gifts. I know I just said that we often get bogged down in jobs, school, and social lives, and that's true, but I did not mean those things were bad, only that we often don't realize how wonderful they are and how God has blessed us with them. They become routine and stale when we should always be on the lookout for why God has put us where we are and what we can do to fulfill His purposes in the context of our everyday lives.

The pastor at my church recently preached on this, using Psalm 118:24 as an example. I've always liked that verse, and it's one that I try to pray at the start of each day. No matter what kind of wretched stuff can be going on in our life, at the end of the day, every second we have is a gift from God, one that we should rejoice in. Yes, bad stuff happens and we may not be perky or optimistic all the time (Lord knows I'm not), but there is visible good to be found in almost every situation, and even in the tragedies where there is no visible good, we at least have the knowledge that God is in control and that life will go on. My family has been going through very difficult times right about now, and this has given comfort to me. It's not the cliched "it's just God's plan" explanation of crisis (though admittedly it sounds that way). For me, it's more like realizing that even in the blackest situations there are rays of hope, and those simple rays are something to rejoice in.

23 comments:

SallyK said...

Re: Artile below: Do Unto Others

Hi Jay,

I've been reading over some of the things on exgay on the net and find it very interesting.

I read what you wrote to Trip in the Jan 12th closed thread at Exgaywatch.com and witnessed the descent it caused. It seems to fall in line with what you wrote here in this article about "bullying".

As a moderate Christian observing that conversation you had, I saw your actions as sexual religious "bullying", the very topic you think you are trying to tell others not to do here, but you yourself engage.

It seems you are anti-gay, gay being the term used to define sex with the same gender, of which you find "sinful". Yet you also wave what some might call a Mother Teresa flag, mimicing "they are sinners and will go to hell for being their true selves, but for God sakes don't hurt them!". Aren't you feeding the fire for bullying in schools, just like you did with Trip at Exgaywatch?

It seems you wave two flags, one inflamatory and one neutral, causing from what I can tell, moot, they cancel each other out. For every 5 you inflame to go bullying with your religious beliefs calling gay-sexuals (most gay people) sinners, you may stop a few with your quelling.

It's kinda like that dad that builds up a child with all sorts of praise and candy, then gets verbally nasty and rips the candy out of the childs hand for not eating the candy "correctly", then starts the cycle all over again with big smiles. The underlying primary mental/emotion of the father no matter how he masks it, is confusion and anger.

It seems you have a two sided reality going on here. I'm wondering, do you see it or is it a possible blind spot you have?

Jay said...

Sally, comment policy #2 states to be on topic of the post at hand. This isn't. Having said all that, I'll answer briefly.

I did not bully Trip. He asked me point blank what I thought of the fact that he had sex with his boyfriend. I answered honestly that I thought it was sinful. I did nothing to attack him or his character.

I mean, that's how society works. We're a melting pot of religions and views. There are Muslims and Mormons who think I'm going to Hell because I don't believe in their respective religions. There are secular folks who think I'm a delusional fool. Do I consider that bullying? Well, no. That's a difference of religious opinion. As long as they don't threaten to get in the way of me living my life as I see fit, we're good.

I never threatened Trip. I never bullied Trip. I answered a question about my beliefs and I answered it honestly. There are many, many actively gay readers of this blog and I don't think I've ever had anyone accuse me of "bullying." Sure, some of them may think my beliefs are downright stupid, but they also know that I'm not out to change anyone or force anyone to live the way I do.

If you have a specific example of how you think I "bullied" Trip, I'd like to see it. I think the post you mentioned can be found here:

http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2009/01/randy-thomas-defends-ex-gays-becomes-conveniently-forgetful/

I think you'll also find that David Roberts, the editor of XGW, repeatedly defended me in that whole debacle. I'd read through his posts if I were you, because they were quite logical.

Brandon said...

I'm glad you wrote this, Jay. I really think I've been needing to read something like this for awhile now. Very comforting.

I'll keep your family in my prayers and wish you the best.

FJ said...

Jay

Regarding your comment on April 10th, I did read it and I even printed your comment so I could reread it while at work.

The reason why I haven't replied is because I really didn't know what to say because you said a lot of things that actually made me think. I had to think of what words to use, how to use them and where they belonged.

I will reply to your comment via personal e-mail rather than on the blog. Please be patient. I will e-mail you when I have a little bit more time. Thanks in advance.

Jay said...

FJ: Oh, that's quite all right. I didn't mean to sound impatient. I just wanted to make sure you saw that I had commented. I know some people get e-mail notifications of comments on older posts and others don't, so I was just covering my bases.

Take your time; I assure you there's no rush. Take care!

SallyK said...

Hi Jay,

There is no request in subject thread from Trip for your opinion about he and his boyfriend having sex. He asks you many other things, but you chose not to answer, but not that one.

This is where I see your text "religiously bullied" Trip:

“I consider you a Christian brother, but I think that this particular thing you’re doing is sinful,” which is what I’m saying to you."

It is nicely encased in the loving brother idea, but it created descension nonetheless. This is because it was not asked of you to give your anti-gay opinion about his naturally pro gay sex life, which you did anyway. The guy seemed quite grounded and balanced in his innate sexual nature. Anti-gay rhetoric can always start fights with balanced gay or "perceived" gay people because it can come off as an attack. You might as well call a black guy a "nigger", the response is the same.

I see you Jay, as fully gay yet mentally anti-gay. Gay-Anti-Gay. If you are confused about labels, that's the one that I see fits. That is fine, for you, of which I have no problem, it's your journey. But we are talking bullying of kids in schools and why it happens. This talk between you and Trip was a prime example of how bullies feel the religious right to bully and mame, because they have "God's Word" behind them. When you push your negative religious views on others without request, that's religious bullying, and that is how I saw it in that thread. I do not see this as any different than someone bullying someone on a playground at school, a thing you say you are against, yet fights still start. A milder form of Phelps but just as damaging in its affects as you saw in that thread regarding Trip's friend Mark. You had a very negative effect on him it would seem.

To see descension in the conversation and with you intimating you were being outside creating it, seems a bit naive. No matter how subliminally you encased your dig, I think you had an intention, even if unconsciously, to hurt another, as that was the outcome. Do you see how pushing for DOS and then doing anti-gay rhetoric at the same time (DOT), produces bullying in the school yard?

I think Emily put it perfectly in her April 17th article on the DOT/DOS at Exgaywatch.com:

"And how would ingraining the message that “gay = sinful and unacceptable” soften the attitudes of those doing the bullying??"

Please give an answer to Emily's question in your reply to me. I would also appreciate it if you would reread and comment on all of my previous post along with this one, as you seem to do with others on this blog.

Jay said...

Trip asked why I wouldn't attend a liberal gay-affirming church. I said it would be because of doctrinal differences concerning human sexuality. If I believed that homosexual behavior was a sin, and a church didn't believe so, I likely wouldn't attend. This is what started the whole argument.

You can't, however, say that Trip wasn't asking for my opinions on homosexual sex. I had to express them in order to answer his question. In all honesty, he already knew them, because he said he had seen my blog. Besides, my initial comment in that thread had nothing to do with my opinions on gay sex whatsoever. He brought up the issue and sought those opinions, and I gave them to him, with as much respect and dignity that I give any person that I disagree with here.

Besides, I said over and over again that I was (and am) just a much a sinner as he is. We all are. We're human, after all.

You know, there are lots of Christians who think that simply having a homosexual orientation is sinful. They tell me that all the time. I disagree, of course, but I don't see their telling me as "bullying." I simply think they're wrong and I get on with my life. As long as they don't taunt me, disrespect me, or get in the way of me living my life, I don't really care.

Unless you think that every human being should agree 100% on every issue, or should keep their opinions to themselves if they don't, then you're going to have people disagreeing and debating and maybe even arguing. That's not bullying, though. That's society. I mean, in your mind, what should I do? Not say what I think?

And as an answer to Emily's question: Christians aren't called to bully others. We're called to love them. We're called to speak the truth, but also speak the truth with humility. I said again and again in my response to Trip that I was a sinful person and did not think of myself as better than him in any way. We're all sinners. Therefore, saying something is a sin shouldn't lead to bullying for the rational Christian. Otherwise, you'd have to bully yourself, wouldn't you?

I think that heterosexual fornication is just as sinful as gay sex, and would say so to a fornicating heterosexual. Would you consider that bullying as well? Or am I just not supposed to say anything about anything?

TRiG said...

"The difference between a rut and a grave is the depth" - Gerald Burrill, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago.




(This is connected (well, semi-connected) to Jay's post, not to the subsequent comments.)

SallyK said...

Again, I see a fallacy with regard to your conversation with Trip. He did not ask you why you would not come to his gay affirming church. He said, that if you did come to his church and called him a gay sex sinner, "do you think I would not react?" I take note that you are loosely misquoting your conversation with Trip saying things he did not say. You seem to think he was looking for your approval or opinion about gay sex and sin. He wasn't. He was saying that your contention that younger people are more tolerant of "sinner" mentality because of "a generational thing" was suspect, as he is young and would react to being called a gay sex sinner, which you exacted on him anyway. THAT is the problem. Some Christians think they have this God given right or "mission" to go correct people, which is what I watched you try to do with Trip. Trip sounded very happy and very successful, in his home school and love life, not looking for any "counsel" from an outside source.

Sex from the Bible is controversial and speculative at best and for this reason I say people's sex lives are noones business but their own. Treating ancient sexual rules as hard case law then touting it over Christian megaphones within a much more advanced society is frivolous at best.

Re: "Christians are not called to bully". Christians ARE called to bully by the very example of God "smiting" "sinners". There are coutless "onward Christian Soldier" wars to prove it. The judging of gay sex is a religious bullying weapon masked as a "belief" so straights can beat up gays, used at every level of society to shame and disable gay people at their very core and cause bloodshed on the playground of our children.

It just seems you are on a subtle crusade with a Jesus apple in one hand and a big controlling chastity belt with a big "S" on it in the other, with one foot on the Bible and the other on Leviticus. And you are going to drive that home to every gay person you meet, even if they don't ask. THAT is religious bullying that in turn fragments kids in school yards.

How does one stop bullying in school yards? Quit trying to fix people the way you think they should be fixed, "my way or the highway" mentality.

No matter how humble you seem to want to make people become, this is reality and sex is a huge negative button for religious people because of your advocated belief. This causes bullying in schools no matter how much you sugar coat it.

I point you to a remark made at exgaywatch.com March 25th by Wendy Gritter saying: "One of the things I do really wrestle with is cultural context. I don’t think the writers of Scripture had a sense of sexual orientation such as we now understand. I don’t think they had the example of loving, monogamous couples that we have today."

This is paramount. She is right on. It's 2K years later, it's time to get it right.

Would I recommend you not say what you believe?

No, but if it is potentially inflamatory, use discernment. I would keep it around people who all agree with you or come to your private counsel. Regarding people who seek your counsel, I would say you might think about Gritters words, with the fact you are not living in 200 AD, that you have internet and the world is more accessible to what really is real and what is not. Keep the belief to you and yours. If everyone believed as you do with the anti gay focus, and gay sex was outlawed as in the Bible, we would have Uganda right here on our U.S. shores.

This is an example of how you sound metaphorically about gay sex with your current rhetoric:

"Hey black man. Now you don't have to believe me or take my words seriously as these are my beliefs only, but I believe all black people are niggers and God says you people are the devil. Now don't take that personally but you really need to come to Jesus and maybe change that. Don't go out in the sun so much and your skin will lighten up making you more sanctified. Now there's other doctrines that don't believe this. It's just me saying it, and I'm big on it, but remember, it's just a li'l 'ol belief."

This is how I see you treat gays, yourself included. There is one over riding fact regarding sex, we cannot change God's natural laws of attraction. Sexual man made laws can either promote or demote happiness. We must all learn to discern when posed with controversial opinions, that's what God gave us brains for. You're just way too bright to be a sheep or lemming and not study this thing out.

I do see sexual religious zealot in you, even if in it's most subtle form. And when it comes to religious bullying that affects our children in the school yard, THAT is what is disturbing to me. Be more discerning with your ignorance about your sexuality and the sexuality of others. You wear your ignorance like a freshly pressed Armani suit. But that's just my l'il ol belief.


So if you'd like to get off the "who said what" with regard to Trip, I'd be interested in your comment on other areas of my posts, particularly the comment by Gritter, and how you think you affect people when you call them "sinner".

I'm in my work week so will be at my computer thru Fri.

Jay said...

Trip said: "I see from your blog that you would not attend our gay affirming church because we are sinners."

I replied by saying that he was wrong. That is not the reason that I wouldn't attend a gay-affirming church, because every church has sinners in it since every person is a sinner. I said I wouldn't attend a gay-affirming church because of doctrinal differences, and he got offended. He did ask my opinion. I mean, come on, I've written for XGW before. Do you think they'd let me write for them if they saw me as an anti-gay bully? Do you honestly think that I go around, espousing my beliefs about gay sex to those who don't ask? You have me all wrong, but you don't seem willing to see me any differently.

My comments to Trip were totally relevant to the discussion, and if you're going to keep saying I'm a "bully" them I'm going to go ahead and say that you're willfully ignorant of who I am. Your "metaphorical" anecdote about skin color couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to how I operate when it comes to homosexuality.

You have my entire blog to read, not to mention my articles and threads at XGW and other places. I think you're characterizing me wrongly, and honestly, you don't seem to be the kind of person who will respond to logic or respect.

You said this concerning my opinions: No, but if it is potentially inflammatory, use discernment. I would keep it around people who all agree with you or come to your private counsel.Well, if that's what you think about it, then I'm going to use that logic on you. Don't comment on my blog anymore. Keep your ideas confined to people who agree with you or who come to you for private counsel. The street goes both ways, darling, and I can't be bothered by folks who are looking for a fight. I have plenty of people with different opinions who engage with me rationally. Plus, it's finals week, so I really can't be bothered with your antics.

FJ said...

Jay

I read your latest comment on my blog. I must admit that I am now in a corner by what you said. I will have to think really hard now.

Again, I will e-mail you when I have more time. I am hoping that I can e-mail you soon. Thanks for visiting.

Jay said...

Think nothing of it, FJ. I really didn't mean to argue politics. If you have political opinions that say gay marriage shouldn't pass, that's fine. I disagree with you, but often I've found that arguing about that particular subject doesn't get anywhere, especially online.

I think my main concern was that you see the passage of gay marriage in New York as something that will affect your spiritual state, and this simply shouldn't be. But by all means e-mail me when you have the time. Don't feel any need to be in a hurry. Blessings!

TRiG said...

If you have political opinions that say gay marriage shouldn't pass, that's fine.No it's not. You either argue against human rights and equality, or you claim the moral high ground. You cannot do both.

TRiG.

donsands said...

Nice post. He is risen indeed!

Sometimes we may have deep heaviness and darkness to walk through for a season, and His truth and presence don't seem to make a difference really.
I think it's because we always want to be happy and up. And if we have sorrow and even depression, we long to be set free of this.

I believe there are unavoidable growing seasons and trials from the Lord in our lives. He says, "My grace is sufficient."

No matter what thorn the devil brings to us, his power is broken, because of the One who wore the crown of thorns on that first Good Friday.

"See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?"

Have a good day in His love Jay.

Jay said...

TRiG: People are allowed to have their political opinions. I already said I disagreed with FJ's opinion on gay marriage. I just didn't want to talk about it here (especially after dealing with that derailment caused by Sally).

I think people to advocate for abortion rights are wrong, as well. Extremely wrong, in fact, and supporting a violation of human rights. But the fact that they have their opinion and can freely express it, to me, is "fine."

Don Sand: Thank you for the lovely words of wisdom and that poem. Is that from a hymn. If so, what from? I'm a sucker for old hymns, I'll admit. :)

TRiG said...

You're right, Jay, that this post is not the place for that debate. It's already been derailed enough. I'll take it elsewhere. Sorry.

TRiG.

donsands said...

Yep, that's from a hymn.

"When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"-Issac Watts

One of my favorites. Keep on.

Mark said...

Interesting interaction. Jay, could you please give me your perspective on these quetions?

Do you realize some or most, if not all bullying is born out of the belief that gay sex is a sin?

How do you (realistically) stop one without stopping the other?

Jay said...

Mark, I simply don't believe that most bullying is born out of the belief that gay sex is a sin. For one, I don't think that many bullies are what one would call Christian. If they are, they're extremely and dangerously ignorant of Christ's teachings about love and grace.

I think that bullying is born out of insecurity and homophobia, not theological disagreements about sexual ethics. You'll note that somehow students of a variety of religious backgrounds (Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, etc.) can coexist in schools without there being such an epidemic of religious bullying. I don't see why students who disagree about homosexuality can't put aside their differences and get along similarly.

Mark said...

I agree that homophobia is a part of the puzzle, and for some has nothing to do with religious doctrine. But your experiences aside, don't you think homophobia for some, can also be driven by religious doctrine, causing bullying?

Jay said...

I think that for some it can be, certainly. I think religion--including Christianity--can be used to justify all sorts of horrors. I am quite sure that many bullies justify themselves because of warped views about what the Bible says about sin.

This doesn't mean that every--or even most--Christians who hold to a traditional sexual ethic would ever dream of bullying someone who disagrees with them. I certainly wouldn't, and I try my best to make sure my straight male peers know that phrases like "that's so gay" aren't acceptable, because even if they're mild, I see those as the start of bullying.

TRiG said...

Actually, I think most Christians would bully gay people, if Christians were in a decisive majority. I cannot think of any occasion when a religious group which has had a decisive majority has not used that power to bully others.

Luckily, Christians are fragmenting and losing that majority position.

I wonder who will take over. It's nice to think it'll be forces of enlightenment and true liberalism, but how likely is that?

TRiG.

Jay said...

TRiG, I guess I simply disagree with you. If a Christian really believed and followed Christ (you know, the namesake of the religion), then he wouldn't be a bully. Any group with a decisive majority--religious or not--can bully the other side.

It happens in politics all the time when one party holds a large majority over the other. That doesn't mean that bullying is a part of the group's beliefs. It's just a phenomenon that happens when one group thinks that it doesn't need the others to get by. And I think it can be stamped out without without having to change demographics.