Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Multi-Coloured Thoughts in My Head

Between recent local pride parades and the US decision to legalize gay marriage country-wide, there's been a lot of colour in my Facebook feed. Because of my social circles, I get the pro-posts and the anti-posts.

...Am I the only one who feels like she sits in the middle?

This has always been one topic where I can't pinpoint exactly what I believe. I live in the tension of not fully knowing.

My Christian faith drives my values. I know what I've been taught--what the New Testament says: that homosexual practices are a 'no.'* And since I use Scripture as one tool to guide my faith practices, I'm inclined to settle on, "well, okay, then--I can't support homosexual practices as something godly." That is, lean into the idea that the lifestyle falls into that swamp of behaviours called sin.

Seems simple, but what does that look like in the day-to-day? ...I feel like church doesn't help me here (and by church, I don't mean my personal congregation, I mean the global institution). And it's likely, in part, because the church struggles with its response too. But I feel like the church often mixes up how it treats the LGBTQ person and the LGBTQ lifestyle.

From what I can tell, the Bible admonishes the practice, not the person.
(It admonishes a lot of practices, but never the person.)

I've never actually had much trouble with that concept.

Because did you know you can disagree with someone and still love and accept them?

I'm pretty sure Jesus' command was to love others. Full stop.
(I know the kind of people He hung out with.)

A meme flew through my news feed ages ago that read along the lines of, "getting angry at someone because what they do is against your religion is like being angry at someone for eating a doughnut because you're on a diet."

It's not a perfect analogy, but do you get the point? If I have chosen to adhere to a certain value system with certain beliefs, then fine--but that doesn't give me the right to go around admonishing people who aren't in line with that value system.

I wish that hypocritical, Pharisitical** Christians would stop giving the rest of us a bad name.

There is a place for LGBTQ individuals in our pews.
There's a place for them on our worship teams.
There's even a place for them to--gasp--teach your children in Sunday School.

Scripture spends a good chunk of time talking about the body of Christ. And the fact that all believers are part of that.

And some believers don't fit traditional gender roles and sexual orientations.

Do you think God didn't know they'd be LGBTQ before He created them?

Maybe He IS saddened by those who fall into non-traditional genders. I don't know.
Humans are a broken creation, right down to the cellular level.
And maybe He didn't create His children to be anything other than just male and female, but He has obviously let a continuum of gender unfold.

And I know two things.

God doesn't make mistakes.
God can use our brokenness for His glory.

So step up, church. LGBTQ individuals have a right to be included in the body.***

Colouring Between the Lines
On that note, I do wish that members of the LGBTQ community would quit hassling churches that choose not to perform non-traditional marriages. Yes, it's illegal and unjust to discriminate against a person by not allowing them into the congregation to be a part of the church community, but I don't think it's discrimination to not offer a service they don't believe in as a body. That's not discrimination; that's just a congregational preference.

You could compare it to dress codes. It's legal to wear pretty much whatever you want, but it's likely against policy to wear flip-flops if you work in a corporate office downtown. That's not discrimination; that's a preference for a certain professional standard that the business has set.

Or compare it to living on campus. My university was a dry campus. Drinking alcohol is legal for anyone over 18, and students were allowed to drink, but not on campus. That's not discrimination; that's an institutional preference.

And one last example, because I need to drive this home: smoking. It's legal to smoke, but I don't allow smoking in my home. I have no issues interacting with, caring about, and having smokers over, but I'm simply not going to allow them to smoke in my house. That's not discrimination; I just value clean air--a personal preference.

So while I believe that the church needs to step up in its acceptance of the LGBTQ community as people worthy of worshiping in the same space, I believe the LGBTQ community needs to step down and respect an individual church body's decision not to provide marriage services outside of the traditional.

But considering all of that, I still don't know where that leaves me in what practices I support (or don't) as an individual.

I work for an organization that advocates for inclusion of people with disabilities. I realized not too long ago that if I'm advocating for inclusion, that means inclusion for ALL. I can't push for the rights of people with disabilities and not the rights of other minorities.

Which is why I'm confident in saying, "hey, church, step up your game and actually be inclusive."

But if--as a Christian--I'm not supposed to not support LGBTQ practices.... what happens if one day I know and care about someone who is LGBTQ and they invite me to their wedding? Could I go, because I love and care about that person, or would I have to make a faith statement and decline the invitation? I don't like thinking about that.

Because I know too much biology and psychology to believe that homosexuality could be a choice.

Sexual orientation and gender are not a choice, any more than eye colour is a choice. And how ridiculous would it be to say to a person, "I love you and care about you, but I can't come to your wedding or honour you and your partner's relationship because your eyes are blue."

And how unjust it feels to say to a person, "I know you can't control how you were born, but you will need to inhibit the desires of how it's made you want to live your life."

It's not like it's a disorder or some psychopathology where their practices and behaviours could hurt themselves and others and do need to change (but where you would still love, accept, and include that person as part of a community, let me be clear). I don't see how loving someone of the same gender, or identifying with the opposite gender is hurtful. I think it's more hurtful to deny who you are.****

I recognize that I speak from a place of 'straight privilege.' Outside of my own cognitive dissonance, this is not my struggle. I would wager that an LGBTQ Christian might read this, shake their head at me, and think, "you can't even possibly know."

But I want to. 

* 1 Cor. 6:9
** Is that a word? It is, now.
*** This guy's been resonating with me a bit lately.
**** But what about STDs and AIDS, Gina? you ask. Well, I'm pretty sure that afflicts a lot of straight people too. I think that has less to do with what gender you lean towards and more about promiscuity, which I do firmly believe is not a good idea, regardless of your sexual orientation.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

SOTC 156/365

Sometimes, an early Saturday morning is totally worth it.

SOTC 155/365

Sunday, June 7, 2015

She's Getting Old

Oh, my girl. As I type, she is rubbing her chin along the corner of the screen. A habit she's had since she was six months old.

She is now fourteen.

In terms of felines, she's an old girl. You can feel it in the way her bones are noticeable under her fur when you pet her. You can hear it in her scratchy chirping voice. You can see it in the way she more gingerly jumps on and off of furniture. 

She is not the kitten she once was. 

She spends much more time curled up next to me at night than she does prowling the house. She has been given permission from the vet to "eat more soft food," as she is having a harder time with the dry. She is slowing down.

Oh, my girl.

She's technically not my first cat. But the ginger gentleman I owned in high school had to be put down prematurely--we only shared a couple years together, mostly over homework and television.

Princess I have seen each other through the long haul.*

In her fourteen years, she's moved ten times. From apartment to apartment, from house to house. Helping me settle into adulthood, and following diligently along through its many transitions. I haven't always been the best owner; we are good at driving each other a little crazy some days. But we've stuck together.

She's been the consistency.

She's there on the couch, snoozing in a sunbeam.
She's there on my bed, curled like a letter J.
She's there at my feet, chirping away while I put on mascara.
She's there on my lap, keeping my legs warm as I read a book.
She's there in the grass--we share the same fresh summer breeze.

We kinda go together.

I'll admit, she's not one of those intuitive cats you read sappy stories about--the cat who just knows when their owner is in need of some sort of emotional support. The cat who's super in tune with their owner's feelings.

That's never how we've worked.

Still, we have our own rhythms and routines.

She generally knows not to prance around my bed before the alarm goes off.
We get ready for work together each morning.
She often eats breakfast while I do.
She leaves me cat toys on the bath mat--her "hunting" spoils.
She comes when I whistle.
She eats bugs on command.

Oh, my girl. When she and I were both much younger, I sometimes contemplated on how I'd be "well into my 30's" by the time I'd have to prepare myself to let her go. It seemed like a crazy notion, being a well-established adult with this cat.

And here we are.

A few more years--her time is soon approaching. I am not reflecting this to be morbid; I am appreciating the journey. Because I do believe that we have shared something of a journey together. And I think she must recognize that she is in these last few miles of this journey, because she interacts with me in a different way lately. She sticks closer; she loves fiercer; she communicates more. Or maybe that's just what happens when you spend so many years with a pet--the rhythm and intuition just take over. Or maybe I'm just imagining the whole thing.

Regardless, I will respond in kind; there are only a few precious years left in this journey, and I want to savour them all.

So I stick closer.
I love fiercer.
I communicate more.

Oh, my girl.

* I want to make clear that I am not undermining the journey I have shared with Akira, my other feline. But today, it is not her story I'm telling.