Categories
Faith

A New Perspective: Is Sin Really What We Think It is?

About a month ago I came across a thread on sin. It proposed a new perspective on how we think and talk about Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. It has been mulling around in my brain since I read it. And this past Easter, as we celebrated His resurrection with our candy filled eggs and Easter baskets, I was reminded of it again.

Easter

The Easter holiday in our house is definitely more commercial than Christian. At least for our kids. We haven’t been to a church service in years. And we chose not to overtly push our beliefs onto our children, so tend to stick to the more secular traditions of holidays. A friend of mine, who is very opposite to me in that area, had started a new Easter tradition years ago. She wanted to share the beauty of the resurrection with her kids in a way that was more accessible to them. I remember the first year I saw it in action. She shared pictures of this new tradition with pride. And the comments from our mutual friends oohing and ahhing over it just confused me. I thought for sure I was missing something.

A cute idea

The night before, the family would go together on a walk and collect rocks in their Easter buckets. These were meant to represent our sins and the weight of them that we carry on the daily. At home, those buckets would be set out and covered with a red cloth, Jesus’s blood that was shed for us. That representation of Christ’s sacrifice would transform those “sins” while the kids were sleeping. And Easter morning their buckets would be overflowing with Easter treats. There would be notes sharing the good news of Christ’s triumph over the grave and what that meant for our sins.

“I have removed your sin as far as the East is from the West. You are now a new creation!”

“I have washed you clean from sin. Go and walk in freedom!”

“Your sins are forgiven! Come near to me and I will come near to you.”

For some reason the idea that kids needed to see the literal message of having their sins forgiven and washed away bothered me. What sins could a child possibly have? The notes bothered me. But I just assumed it was because I was not as strong a believer as my friends.

Sin

And then, I read this beautiful thread. And I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t believe enough or the right way. I simply saw sin differently.

It was not a list of no-nos. It went beyond the magic list of thou shalt not’s. Sin was simply a part of our nature because we are human. It is everything God is not.

I could also never understand why the Christian community could not agree on what constituted a sin. Sexuality in any non-marriage related form, drugs, alcohol, eating meat, feeling envy or anger, etc. What made something a sin for some but not for others? Why could one man drink wine during communion, but another had to drink water? Why was a marriage only allowed between one man and one woman in this church, but in another it was one man and several women? Does God really care what tattoos I may have or how I dress? I don’t think so. And it seems to me that those lists were more about control than being closer to God.

The effect on my faith

Having my eyes opened to this new perspective on sin helped me in my faith. I love being challenged (gently, because I am a big softy) on what I believe when it comes to my faith in God. And this thread coming across my newsfeed did that.

Did Christ go to the cross and bleed for my soul because I drink or smoke? Because I have sex outside of marriage? Because I have tattoos and piercings? I don’t think so. He bled for me on that cross because this world is broken. Because sin is in everything we see and do. Because sin is simply the absence of God’s divinity. He could have easily made us gods, free of sin. But He chose to make us human, like Him but not the same as Him. And He chose to give us the gift of choice, knowing full well how we would use it and where it would lead us. And so He also gave us Christ, to cover us so that we may be with Him again in the hereafter.

That’s the beauty of Easter. And for the first time this year, I think I finally get it.

Sound off!

Let me know what you think! How do you think about sin in your life? Does this new perspective challenge that? How would you live out your faith differently if you thought of sin in this way?

Categories
Faith Polyamory

Looking For My Polyamorous Faith Community

As much as we say we’re all together and one big family, humans always find ways to separate. We pick a part of ourselves and search out others who match. Not in an attempt to other ourselves, but rather in an attempt to connect deeper with our fellow humans. We want that intimate connection that comes with finding community.

Here on this blog, I’m building my own space to connect with the communities I feel drawn to. Specifically those that fall into the three areas of my life that are lacking in the community support area: LGBTQ+, Polyamory, and Faith. So far the trickiest has been finding that faith-based community.

I am a part of our local polyam community. I interact with others in the local Facebook groups. And we have all attended the local meetups and get together throughout the years (pre-Covid of course). And because there is a lot of overlap, we are also getting plugged into the LGBTQ+ community, with plans to support, help out, and attend events when things are back up and running safely.

But church…?

Before Covid, Lovey and I had started church shopping, popping in on services as our schedules allowed to get a feel for the church and congregation. We noticed right away that many, almost all, touted the “we welcome everyone” message. But digging not so deep into their beliefs and mission statements, the message suddenly became clearer: we welcome everyone who believes the way we do.

During the more extreme lock-down months, we played with the idea of maybe just doing our own thing. Our reasons for church shopping were not only about the community. We also wanted that spiritual growth, that designated time to spend in His Word. There were plenty of resources online to do a kind of bible study on our own. We even attempted a shopping trip (when stores were open) to a Christian bookstore.

What we found

The biggest thing we discovered while browsing the shelves? There are very few studies designed for couples to do together. Even fewer for co-ed groups. Most are designed for either men or women, teen or adult, single or newly married.

Another thing we noticed was that nothing looked at the teachings from a queer perspective. Not surprising. There were only a few books in the entire store that even addressed homosexuality. And they were not flattering. (I *may* have hidden them.)

So what were we to do? We did settle on a couple foundational studies that looked at who God is at his core. And I recently started a brand new devotional for queer folx by these guys. (More on that coming soon!) So that took care of that part. But what about the community?

Community Recommendations

Asking for church recommendations in any polyam Facebook group is quickly met with crickets or smart ass remarks. Not exactly helpful.

Sure, we could attend a church that hit most of our wish list and aligned with most of our beliefs. We could just attend services and not mention that we were polyamorous. But how could we build those relationships, become a part of that community, and expect authenticity from others if we were not able to offer the same?

We are hopeful that soon we will be able to check out more churches. (I here there’s a vaccine out that could help us all get back to a new normal, with fewer lock-downs and more parties.) We are hopeful that we will find that faith community where we can be fully ourselves, no hiding. And that we will be accepted. But until then, we will have to create our own.

Share with me how you found your communities. Are you able to be authentic in your faith and your life? Or are you, like us, still keeping a part hidden?

Categories
Faith

Using My Prayer Journal to Be Closer to God

I don’t know about you, but prayer has been one of the most challenging parts of my faith. And it shouldn’t be! The bible is littered with scriptures about prayer: its importance, how to, famous answers. It is woven into every part of the church experience, whether you are just a Sunday sermon goer or whether you are involved in all the groups. Prayer begins and ends all the meetings and gatherings. And it always seemed, to me, that everyone just automatically knew how to pray. Everyone, that is, except me.

You want me to pray… out loud?

Never one for public speaking, public praying was something I always left to the others. The ones who knew how to pray. They knew the right words to say. The right order to say them in. It was like they had access to the secret handshake and I had somehow missed that part of orientation.

Now, that’s not to say I don’t pray at all. I do. But it doesn’t look like what I used to think it should look like. It is informal. And silent. And usually in small snippets throughout the day. It is more of an ongoing conversation with my Creator.

For the longer conversations, I turn to my prayer journal.

Writing out my prayers

If you do a quick Pinterest search you’ll see a lot of how tos for a journal that pays homage to the Christian flick War Room. And while all the pictures of the beautifully decorated and organized prayer books and binders draw me in, they’re not for me. I don’t view prayer as going to war. I view it as a conversation. It is my time to commune with my Creator, to share my doubts and worries and fears with Him. To thank Him for everything He has provided in my life. It’s also a place to seek His guidance when I have decisions to make.

For this, I need something much simpler. Basic, even. A beautiful notebook and a trusty pen.

As a writer, I have a mini obsession with notebooks and pens. I will take any excuse to wander through the office supplies section of Target to browse the pretty covers and colors. So it seemed natural to turn to my writer habits to build my prayer habits.

Spending time with my Creator

Once a week at least, I try to find the time and space to sit in the quiet with my notebook and pen. I can clear away the cobwebs in my mind and just pour out whatever I need to to God. I’m able to get into the details of things, be more specific with my fears and needs. I am free to fall into the glory of worshiping without feeling oddly on display. It is private. It is between Him and me.

Sometimes, through the course of writing out my prayers to Him, He leads me to scriptures. Those times I turn quickly to my bible or bible app. And then they are copied into the notebook, written down to call forth their power.

Writing down my prayers in this way also gives me a record of His answers. Sometimes the answers are no. Sometimes they are yes. And sometimes they are a long time coming. Only when I have “forgotten” do they get answered in some way.

Leaving a record of my journey

It is a visual journey of my relationship with God. It is a love story from budding new Christian to… now. I can flip through those pages and see His influence on my life, see how He has protected me, guided me, and lead me ever closer to Him. I can see the people He has brought to me, and those He has separated.

Prayer is still something I struggle with out loud. I still feel like that young kid asked to give a report to the class whenever I’m asked to pray out loud. And maybe I always will. But that’s okay. Because I know He hears me anyway. I know He doesn’t really care about the words that come out of my mouth, or that come out of my pen. He only cares that I talk to Him.

Tell me about your prayer life. Do you use a journal to write down requests and answers?

Categories
Faith

Why I Won’t Use This Word to Describe My Faith

Christmas is one of those times during the year where I find myself examining my beliefs a little more closely. It probably has something to do with the Christian part of the holiday. And this year, that introspection got me thinking about the language I use when I talk about my faith.

I won’t use the word Christianity very much. I will not proclaim myself a Christian. Even though others would say that I am, and I do fall under the definition. I cannot proudly say that I am one.

Is Christian a bad word?

The word has carried so many horrific crimes against humanity, so many oppressive views, so many controlling policies, that I simply can’t claim it. I cannot overlook the damage Christianity has done long enough to proudly proclaim that I am a Christian myself.

But what about the good? You may ask.

The good exists whether or not I claim the label. I can cheer for the all the positives my chosen faith community has done and is doing in this world. I can jump and shout and be so excited when I see headlines like this one: Religious Leaders Call For Global Ban On So-Called Gay Conversion Therapies.

But for me, the association with the hurt Christianity and Christians in general has done is foremost. It is the first thing that pops into my head. And it really shouldn’t be. So you will not see me use the words Christian or Christianity as much as my fellow Christ followers.

Labels aren’t everything

Let’s be clear. My feelings about the words do not have any bearing on your faith or my faith. My faith is important to me. I am constantly trying to learn and grow in it. My relationship with God is sound. My relationship with His Son is sound. Neither are in jeopardy or lacking in anyway because I refuse to call myself by that word.

I can follow Christ, read His word, pray and seek His counsel without having to say “I’m Christian.” People should be able to see it by my actions, by my love, by who I am. They should not need me to spell it out for them by saying those words. He doesn’t.

Christian? Not a Christian?

So, what does that all mean? If I’m not calling myself a Christian, what am I, what do I believe? Well, I believe in a perfect Creator, one who does not make mistakes. I believe in Christ, as the Son of God, and in the Holy Spirit. I believe in His Word, that he breathed life into the Bible, while still acknowledging that it was written by man. And I follow Christ’s commandments: to love God and love my fellow humans.

Being human myself, I often fail at the second one. But I try. And when I do fail, I turn to Him to help me be better.

I am a work in progress.

And part of that progress is this. Sharing myself with you all. Maybe some of you are as in progress as I am. If you are, welcome aboard! My type of Christianity may not be for you. (I am unapologetically polyamorous and bisexual.) If it’s not, that is okay! I wish you well on your own journey. Otherwise, welcome to my world. May we grow in our relationships with Christ together.

Categories
Faith LGBTQ+

When a Pope Speaks Love to a Marginalized Community

During the filming of a documentary, Pope Francis spoke out for the LGBT+ community. We are children of God, he said. We deserve to be a part of and have a family. And we deserve to have legal protections.

The Pope said this! This is amazing! And huge!

I don’t ever expect the Catholic Church to come down on the side of marriage equality. That marriage is (or should be) between a man and a woman only is a major tenet in most Christians beliefs. It is woven so intricately throughout the Bible that the Church simply can not endorse marriage equality. And that’s fine. I don’t need them to, really. It would be unfair of me to ask them to give up such a huge part of their belief system. I would love it though if they could stop fighting it so hard.

Not children of God?

This news from the Pope came at the perfect time for me. Just the other day, I had come across a conversation between a friend and someone that they knew but I did not. Both of them are Christian, I assume, based on their conversation. And this person that I do not know kept saying that we – the LGBTQ+ community – were not children of God. Because we were living in sin and, presumably, not saved. That, of course, we are loved. But we should be loved through the lense God’s truth. Our “lifestyle” could not and should not be accepted. We should instead be reminded that homosexuality is a SIN. Over and over she said this. We are not children of God.

It upset me.

Some important points

#1 – It is not a “lifestyle.” It is life. Period, full stop.

#2 – Every human on this earth is a Child of God. He created us. We are His children. Every. Single. One. Of us.

#3 – Loved by being told that we are an abomination, our love sinful? That is some Westboro bullsh*t. (Pardon my french.) And not at all what Christ calls for. Also, fun fact, Christ never speaks on homosexuality. And here’s a bonus fun fact. The original Greek word arsenokoitai more closely translates to “boy molesters.” It was not replaced with “homosexual” until 1946 in the Revised Standard Version Bible.

I am glad that person was unknown to me. I am glad my friend pushed back against them. But I am still saddened that someone would think and say such hurtful things in this day and age. (No, I am not living in a bubble. I know it happens, and worse.)

We deserve family and legal protection. Specifically, he is advocating for civil unions for same sex relationships. Not marriages. A very different, but supposedly equal arrangement. Separate… but equal… Where have we heard that before?

Let’s be clear. Separate is not equal. Civil unions are not the same as a marriage. They do not offer the same legal protections and benefits that a marriage does.

Even so, the fact that the Pope, the man closest to God on this Earth, said something like this… It’s amazing. And must be a blessing to all of the Catholic members of the LGBT+ community, in particular. Their life, their families, were acknowledged, and not judged. And the figurehead of an institution that has done so much harm to them, is fighting for them.

A reminder of acceptance

It reminded me of the episode in the Netflix show One Day at a Time. In it, there is a scene where the daughter Elena comes out to her deeply Catholic grandmother. In <60 seconds it seems Lydia goes from “No, it’s a sin,” to “Okay! I’m good!” And all while following her faith through the reasoning. It is an amazing scene. (And a reaction I wish more devout Christians would mimic.)

We deserve family. We deserve legal protections. Because we are children of God. Every one of us.

Tell me what you think? Are you surprised by what the Pope said? Please keep it civil.