God is love?

This morning, I was sitting down to enjoy a cup of hot chamomile tea with lemon and honey at the Starbucks on the corner of 66th and Lexington when I overheard a man talking to a woman seated at a table against the wall a little behind me. The table was littered with the pages of one of the tabloid newspapers, and he was talking about one of the things he had read.

I don’t exactly recall how his rant started, because I was trying very hard not to overhear, especially when he started talking about how New York Governor David Patterson has been trying to introduce a same-sex marriage bill into the state constitution. What followed was the usual rhetoric I hear from homophobic people who call themselves Christians, sprinkled with some truly bizarre comments on how President Obama might be gay, something about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and fellatio…

Really, it was all a blur because inside my head and out loud on Twitter I was trying to decide if I should say something to him.

In the interest of full disclosure, on the Kinsey scale, I come out as mostly heterosexual; however, I’m not going to rule out the possibility that my soulmate could be a woman and I’m not going to deny that I am attracted to certain women. I also have several GLBTQ friends whom I adore and think are some of the most awesome people in the entire world. I urged my family members who are still living in California to vote against Proposition 8 and when I start up the Kielle Foundation, one of the causes it would support would be championing gay rights or helping protect those who are harmed by gay-bashing.

One of the things I have always admired about some of my friends is that they not only talk about the causes they support, they actually go out and do them. I’m thinking most specifically about a friend of mine who is a child protection social worker in Maryland, who wrote this while on a vacation in Toronto with the rest of the other friends I’d met around the time I first met Kelly:

The people around me right now are drinking Moosehead and sangria, listening to music and laughing–laughing so very much. They lean into each other, hugging and touching affectionately. They are, at least for the moment, confident and secure in themselves.

This is a world my children have never experienced. They are just beginning to learn security, safety, stability, the feeling that the person next to you will not harm you.

This is what I want them to have. I want them to grow up into friendship and security, fondness and stability, affection and safety. So when I look around this room, I see what I am fighting for.

I do not fight to solely to minimize damage. I do not fight simply for the cessation of trauma, I fight for the beginning of living. I do not fight simply to stop crying, I fight for laughter to start.

This is real. This is living and laughter and a reason to keep going. This is what makes me go back to my job every day and look my children in the eye and tell them honestly: “It gets better.”

And then I keep fighting to make that true.

People like my friend and like Kelly are some of the reason why I haven’t lost faith in humanity because they live their lives with conviction and truth; to sit in the coffee shop and listen to this man spew his hatred, bigotry, and misinterpretation of what he thinks God thinks and believes and not do anything about it to me was wrong.

So when he was prattling on about how sinful New York City is and how everything is much better in the Midwest where values are clean and wholesome, I turned slightly in my chair to face him and said, “Except for Iowa.”

He started to bluster and without getting out of my chair, I faced him and told him that though yes, this is a free country and he has the right to say what he wants to say, I also had the right to say, “I vehemently disagree with you.”

The funniest part of the whole encounter was the part where he started saying that what I was doing was sinful, as if he assumed that because I don’t think gay people are living sinful lives I must be gay. At that brief moment, I almost wished that I was gay, just so I could deserve that kind of “stinging” rebuke.

After winding down to a close and without any further debate from me, he gathered up his things and flounced out of the store through the back entrance; I picked up my now lukewarm tea to have a sip. After he left, two women who had been sitting at the table on the other side of his commented on how nutty he was, and the woman to whom he’d been ranting was very quick to tell me that she only knew him as a “coffee shop friend” and that he’s a little crazy. As if I couldn’t tell that myself, but it was very nice of her to let me know in her own way that she didn’t agree with him either.

However, the whole encounter has left me with a distaste in my mouth for the kinds of Christians who take the whole Bible as nothing but the complete and utter truth, who cite Scripture and verse when condemning homosexuality without taking the entirety of the Bible into the context of the age in which it was written.

Because if there’s anything that I still cling to when it comes to my former Christianity, it is the notion that “God is love” and that any expression of that love can’t be completely wrong.

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11 Responses to “God is love?”

  1. Will Says:

    God always taught that Love was the greatest commandment. The problem with Christians is they are not taught to love, but taught to be intolerant. Most don’t understand that you can disagree with people and their lifestyle, but can still love them. Even those who try to harm us.

    I may not agree with the lifestyle, but no way in hell am I going to hate or deny them basic human rights.

    The little excerpt you’ve included.. I still struggle with learning to trust people.. especially humanity.

  2. connie Says:

    God IS love.

    But He said if we loved Him we would obey Him. Because I love God, I don’t go have affairs with men -I am faithful to my husband. Because I love God, I do not steal. Because I love God, I believe His word. And He very clearly states that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church.

    But in this world, mankind is so broken, so mixed up…yes, so sinful-that we have confused the concept of love and lust. Just as I did as a teenager, thinking that tingley feeling I had around my boyfriend was love instead of just teenage horniness. Well, love had nothing to do with it. Love wants the best for the beloved. God loves us and wants His best for us and we tell Him instead to go to hell, we’ll do it our way, thank you very much. And in our wounded, broken and sinful condition, we look for anything and everything that will shut down that still small voice inside that says…this is not the way….

    Meanwhile, some of God’s people forget the slime pit from which they were mercifully plucked and act as if they are so much superior to those around them…when the truth is, we are all in the mire and only a loving Hand can pluck us out of our sinful humanity, wash us clean, set our feet on an unshakeable foundation, and begin the process of who we were always intended to be.

    I love gay people. I love people in general. But I hope I love them enough to tell them the truth-that just like all of us we have fallen into our own ways and need to be rescued by the only One able to do it.

  3. Jon Reid Says:

    Trisha, you’re brave. I probably would have shrunk into a corner.

    Regarding the whole “issue” of GLBT, Christians seem to fall into three categories:

    – There are individuals, and even entire churches, who welcome GLBT folk as equals. Period.
    – There are folks like your gentleman, who draw a line in the sand and dare anyone to cross it.
    – In between, there are a growing number of Christians who, while uncomfortable with non-hetero sexual behavior, are increasingly less comfortable taking a hardline stance. They are recognizing that GLBT is not an “issue,” but people.

    As for “God is love,” to me that is a statement of ultimate relationship. As I tell my friends, the problem with any religion (including Christianity) is that as soon as it becomes a set of rules, you just do certain things and avoid other things, and you it eliminates the need to personally interact with God.

    My encouragement to you is to stick with “God is love,” and see where it takes you.
    — Jon

  4. Jon Reid Says:

    I just watched this, check it out.
    http://theooze.tv/featured/first-look-andrew-marin-loving-your-gay-neighbor-pt-1

    • Trisha Lynn Says:

      I’m listening to it in the background as I type this and my first reaction is to wonder at when the guy on the right (the “embedded evangelical”) says that they’re so rooted in the “capital T truth” that they can’t see or understand what people who are GLBTQ see but they try and learn from it… I wonder if he’s also not listening in the same way that you said Coach Hogan wasn’t listening to me in your series of blog posts.

      In my experiences and having talked to my friends about theirs, if their Truth is that they’re gay and there’s really nothing they can do to change it, then that’s something that’s come from God as well, right? I was talking to a friend about this post last night who experienced a Holy Spirit-infused conversion a few months back and I said to him that if God created everything, then God created homosexuality, too, and for any God-centered, man-created religion to preach against it would be preaching against God.

      Thoughts?

  5. JB Says:

    You’re an amazing person, able to not only take a stance (out loud), but not then get embroiled in the battle, which only polarizes sides. I should be taking notes on how to do that… ;)

    I’m finding, in my religious travels, that for all the Christians who cite Biblical rules on not being gay, there are just as many who cite Biblical rules for why it doesn’t matter. I prefer those ones. ;)

    J

    • Trisha Lynn Says:

      I never want to say anything that’s “incorrect” and I haven’t studied enough Scripture to be able to refute any of what he was saying, especially in reference to Soddom and Gomorrah.

      But you! You actually stood outside of polling places and were able to calmly tell people why voting for Prop. 8 was wrong-headed. That took guts, too, and I think this is why I like having you in my corner.

  6. Jon Reid Says:

    Trisha, when Andrew (the guy on the right) says, “I think that’s one of the things we miss so much, because we’re so rooted in what we believe as truth being ‘capital T Truth’ that we don’t have patience” to learn from the GLBTQ community , what he is doing is criticizing his own tribe, the conservative evangelicals, using a catchphrase that evangelicals use to draw lines and distance themselves with an us-versus-them mentality. So this guy is opposing that. I’m sure he catches a lot of flack for doing so.

  7. Ernesto Tinajero Says:

    The more I have heard stories such as these, the more I am coming to the conviction that there is very few Christians in America. The theologian Miroslav Volf said that the predominate American religion is Christian lite, or being right without the messiness of the Gospel. Looking at the world at large, there is one major religion in the world, call it merightism. “I am right. The others are wrong.” Was the man at the coffee shop a Christian? I ask this in all seriousness. The biblical standard for being Christian is love, a deep redemptive love based on forgiveness, know as the fruit or Spirit. Was he full of the Spirit of love or was he filled with the Spirit of fear? I think the later.

    The question I have for you, Trisha, were you filled also filled with the same spirit of fear? It is easier hate, than to love. This is the great temptation, to hate. Do not think I condone his views, I just think standing on one side the river-bank of life with guns pointed to the other side will only lead to violence. We need to brave the water to make peace.

  8. Matt Says:

    God is Love – as well as perfect, pure. The word Holy is used to sum up these attributes. But people aren’t. We all have some areas of dirt or uncleanness in our lives. And yes, I think we are “built” that way. Our natural inclinations are frequently not generous, giving, not, well – not good. These temptations – a natural disposition to do something that is not good, take as many forms as there are people: gambling, stealing, lying, hate, and sexual addictions. It shouldn’t surprise us. The question isn’t who doesn’t have temptations or who doesn’t pursue their temptations and in so doing be not Holy – we all do in one way or another. As for who get’s to go to heaven – no one goes to heaven through what they do or don’t do. That’s where Jesus comes in. When someone has Jesus in their heart – has that personal relationship with Jesus, God looks at them and sees Jesus. That’s how people get into heaven.

  9. Shane Says:

    It might seem ridiculous, but my ultra-atheist ways are boiling this entire argument down to electrical flow and circuit design. The patterns of brain cells limit what people can be attracted to, what ethical software they install from their parents and other software servers in their life, and what impulses they can and will activate or resist.

    Desires are decided at the hardware level by one’s DNA. Peoples’ choice on what percentage of their desires they act on is based on what their software says about their desires times their hardware’s ability to resist or redirect impulses.

    Open-mindedness is, I think, another hardware-software interaction. Some peoples’ hardware simply doesn’t have the fundamental DNA, times childhood development, times the software of being trained to generate empathy models of others. Said a different way, people whose brains aren’t trained to fully expand get stuck in small, non-empathetic thought patterns. This would partly be due to how much brain cells can grow. Do you have brain cells that produce the right proteins and enzymes that learning something new is fun? Or is it so exhausting that you want to avoid it?

    If people grow up mostly pigheaded, it becomes a positively-reinforcing cycle where you avoid learning anything new, no longer seek out new or more sophisticated points of view, and feel no lapses in their small, circular logic. But anyone stuck at this level is unlikely to be interested in expanding their horizons, and has instead been trained that if they stick to a small core of beliefs they can browbeat their way through most situations against unbelievers, through a mixture of anger and other strong emotions.

    I wish there was some kind of pill that could massively expand peoples’ interconnectivity, like a hardware concoction that rapdily stimulates neural interconnection and then fills the new neural networks with “software” thoughts, perhaps via radio or other even faster medium. Liquid “enlightenment”, if you will. If I were an advanced civilization seeding earth with something like that would probably be my first task.

    Until then, we only have a very difficult way of increasing complexity, enlightenment, and tolerance in people and will have to accept a lot of people who think and act basically like barbarians for reasons that are more or less beyond their control.

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