Saturday, April 16, 2011

Give me rules
I will break them
Give me lines
I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet
It ought to be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

Give me words
I'll misuse them
I'll misplace them
'Cause all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free
It's gotta be


...It's like I'm falling in love, love, love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made
Me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me


Ken and I are going to Arizona the first week in May. He has a "use it or lose it" leave policy at work so he had a week to use by the middle of May. Anyway, since I am originally from Arizona and still have a lot of family friends there, I sent out an email to everyone letting them know when we'd be there in case anyone had time to get together. In the past when I've done this, I've received several invitations to stay with friends and have never had to pay for a hotel.

The first surprise is that not a single family friend has offered us a place to stay. The two that I've stayed with on my most recent visits had valid excuses. One couple has been hit pretty hard financially and recently moved in with their daughter and son-in-law. The other has friends living with them right now because of financial issues so they don't have the room. Still, it surprised and disappointed me that of all of the people that I've known my whole life, who I consider FAMILY, not a single person offered us a place to stay. These are the same people who are always after me to come visit and bring my boyfriend so they can all meet him... We did get an offer for a place to stay a couple hours out of Phoenix (from a former pastor and his wife from Spokane). Oh well. Fortunately, we were able to find a very inexpensive vacation rental - cheaper than a hotel room)

The second surprise was an email from a long time family friend. She and my mother used to be very close and her oldest daughter was my best friend throughout elementary school. We even lived with them for a while after my parents divorced. She asked me how I am able to retain my "sexual purity" while traveling with my sweetheart. She told me that she just loves me and would ask her daughters the same question and that as Christians, we are called to encourage each other into doing what is right and good.

I have mixed feelings about this inquiry. First of all, I know she loves me, but I am not her daughter. She has been influential in my family and has been faithful in praying for my family in past situations as well as in the current drama. However, I feel very strongly that my actions and choices are not the business of anyone else. They are between me, God and whoever else is directly affected. I refuse to even talk to my own mother about my sex life. I responded that I remain strong in my faith and my relationship with God and thanked her for her love and concern. I know that didn't answer her question outright and I know she will come to her own conclusions because of that. I'm bummed to think that she may be disappointed in me, but at the end of the day, I will answer to God (and ONLY God) for my actions.

That email got me thinking about how all my life, I've been taught that sex before marriage is a sin. Even before I was married to my ex-husband, everyone thought it was their right to ask if I was having sex or if I was "staying pure" and resisting temptation. They treat premarital sex as a one-way street to hell. Of course, when someone did have a child out of wedlock, they huddled around that person and poured out love and help, and then patted themselves on the back for being such a good, loving Christian. I believe that a sin is a sin is a sin. I believe that we will all be judged for our sins, but that in God's eyes, they are all equal. This is why it drives me crazy that Christians harp on sex before marriage, but choose to ignore abuse, adultery, molestation and theft (especially within the church) and actively participate in gluttony, gossip, slander, judgment, covetousness, lies, idolatry and dishonor/disrespect (of their parents and others). They focus all their energy on certain sins without even realizing that they sin every day - sometimes by doing wrong and sometimes by simply NOT doing what is right.

Know what Jesus did when he met a woman who was living with her boyfriend and who had been married and divorced several times? He loved her. Know what Jesus did when he came upon a woman who was being charged with prostitution? He stood up for her and challenged her accusers, saying "he who is without sin, cast the first stone." One by one, they turned and left and Jesus picked her up, loved her and forgave her. He didn't judge her or tell her she was going to hell. He met her where she was and loved her in spite of her sins.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to condone promiscuity, but ultimately, the promiscuous person only hurts him/herself. Promiscuity and monogamous sex with the one you love are very different though. Why do we judge someone for how they choose to express their love and devotion in a healthy, respectful, loving and committed relationship and then when we find out that a man in the church has been beating up his wife and children or sleeping with his secretary, we put blinders on?

It is impossible to live a blameless life. It is impossible to NOT sin. We ALL fall short. We all have different struggles, challenges and vices. But when are we, as Christians, going to learn to stop pointing fingers and standing in judgment? When are we going to learn to LOVE as Christ loves? Only love will change a heart. Only the promise of forgiveness and grace gives us reason to get back up again when we fall.