church

Christian Pastor Destroys Gay Pastor

Pre-post PSA: My convictions on gay marriage are not strong in either direction, and I really struggle with the issue. Although I often sympathize with Comedienne Jen Kirkman’s take on things: “I get upset at senators who say things like ‘Well, if we let gay people get married, what’s next? People gonna marry their pets?’ I’m also fine with that, ya psycho! Marry a table, life is hard! Get whatever you can get.”

This video has been going around on Facebook and other social media lately. (It is a clip from a longer video you can watch here).

In the segment, two pastors debate about gay marriage. Pastor Neil Thomas (identifies as homosexual) and Pastor Robert Jeffress (identifies as heterosexual).

CHRISTIAN PASTOR DESTROYS GAY PASTOR. Like, calm down, jeez. This isn’t a Pokemon battle. (Christian Pastor uses harsh words and it’s super effective!!) 

In my opinion, Jeffress is being a very poor sport here. He dominates the conversation and constantly interrupts, as if he can’t wait to “correct” his opponent. Not very embodying of “Quick to listen, slow to speak”-James 1:19.

Unfortunately, Thomas does a really bad job of conveying his point about the “Bible evolving” or whatever, and Jeffress is able to quickly and easily rephrase his opponent’s argument in a way that makes it sound completely false: Jeffress reminds Thomas that God is unchanging, God is not schizophrenic, the Bible is unchanging, etc. I actually suspect that Thomas agrees with all these truths.

What Thomas was trying to say is that people evolve. Christians’ interpretation of God’s unchanging Word is constantly shifting throughout time to reflect changing societal values. For example, Jesus once said that women must wear head coverings. (1 Corinthians 11:6) Very few Christian women today wear head coverings, and that is because most people now do not interpret the verse literally, and instead take it to mean that women should be respectful and not cause a distraction in church by wearing something inappropriate.

God did not change, our society has just interpreted God differently.

(There are thousands of other examples of this, most found in the Old Testament, but I wanted to use a New Testament example, straight from Jesus’ mouth, just in case someone was going to use a “New Covenant” argument on me).

Side note: This is also why Jeffress’ “This is the way we’ve been doing things for 2000 years” argument is stupid. Christians are definitely doing things WAY differently than they were 2000 years ago. That doesn’t mean God changed.

And yes, Pastor Jeffress, we HAVE evolved on marriage. By that I mean, somewhere along the road someone thought, hmm, maybe God doesn’t want women to be treated as property in a marriage, and maybe he thinks they should be able to talk sometimes. Because yes, that is what it used to be like, and thank the Lord we haven’t continued that “tradition.”

It is dangerous, of course, to read societal norms into the Bible’s silence or ambiguity for the sake of convenience. But it is the mark of a foolish and arrogant man to not change his beliefs if they are found false because of new evidence. That is why I believe it is extremely important to diligently study the Bible’s precepts with an open mind.  You could be praying, or listening to a sermon, or talking with a friend, when lo and behold, you see something in a new light. Then you have the ability, and arguably the responsibility, to change your practices.  I don’t know any true Christian who would deny that they once believed something false. It’s totally normal and its how we grow.

In fact, you could say that God Himself is pretty into changing the way things are done. That’s how we got, ya know, JESUS. God didn’t suddenly change his own nature to stop requiring animal sacrifices. He just implemented a new way. A more beautiful way. A better way.

moral civil

**If you want to know more about why most modern day Christians find it okay to “ignore” some Biblical laws and follow others, heres a great article explaining the difference between moral, civil, and ceremonial laws  because I don’t have space to get into it in this post. Also, if you want to know how these 3 types of laws could apply to the gay marriage issue, I’m sure you can find some articles on that too.**

Things Jesus Didn’t Say:

  1. Gay marriage is totally cool with me. It’s about love. What could be wrong with that, you brood of vipers?
  2. Gay marriage is an abomination, like holy crap, ew.

So the question is, does the Bible leave enough grey area for appropriate societal re-interpretation so that gay marriage could be considered okay by the Church?

Here’s where the comparison of racial discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination comes in. The comparison is frequently used because racial desegregation is an example of a once “progressive” view the Church used to oppose, then later changed its views about. (Similar to gay marriage or homosexuality in general). So no, I don’t think it is an inappropriate comparison. Even if its not exact in every nuance, its the closest thing we have to use as historical precedence.

It’s also one of the arguments that causes me the most doubt in the gay marriage arena. Because Christians used to think that the Bible was pretty clear on slavery and racism being okay. Turns out it wasn’t. They were wrong on something BIG.

In ten years are all the Pastor Jeffresses going to be wrong too? Wrong to be touting their Matthew 19s and their Leviticus Everythings? I don’t know. All we can do is keep studying, and listening, and trying our best to follow Jesus.

 

Yardsticks, One Pieces, and Dignity.

This video is over two years old, but it has just come across my radar.

This article by Katelyn Beaty presents some great counterpoints to Jessica’s arguments, if you desire a more robust understanding of the issues at play.

swimsuits

One of the swimsuits in Jessica’s line. It’s okay I guess….not sure why you would put cap sleeves on a swimsuit but to each her own.

I could sympathize with Jessica’s memory of struggling to find a fashionable but modest swimsuit as a young woman. In middle school I angrily insisted to my own parents that I would one day open a store called “Ashley’s Modest But Cute Bathing Suits.” Jessica beat me to it, and designed her own swimsuit line with a mission to “Get as many women as possible into one piece swim suits.”

Cringe

Hey Jess, here’s some advice: As a first step for trying to “avoid clothes your grandma would wear,” try not to be inspired by the decade she was born? 100 years ago you would have been called you a whore for wearing your little skirt/shirt combo there, so don’t pretend.

Listen, I don’t want to criticize this beautiful lady. God bless her, she seems smart and sweet and well-meaning. Plus she was the White Power Ranger. Mad respect. But this has got me thinking about “modesty” messages, particularly in Christianity.

Katelyn really hits the nail on the head in her article when she says “Christians both really care about modesty and yet are still trying to define it.”

My experience with the issue has proved the truth of that statement. Read: confusion and legalism abound.

In 7th grade, my church had a women’s conference for middle and high school girls and their moms. In a break-out session on modesty, we sat in a classroom while the instructor put images of women on the screen. For each image, we had to yell out “Trashy” or “Classy” based on the perceived modesty of their outfits.*

skirt

This though.

In high school I attended a small Christian school. According to the dress code, Girls’ skirts could be no more than 3 inches above the knee when standing, and 5 inches above the ground when kneeling. Students would be brought down to the front office and made to kneel while a staff member measured the potentially offending lengths with a yardstick. (God forbid you were at 5 and a half inches).**

In Freshman year of college, I attended a Halloween party with a Christian fellowship group that I have mentioned in previous blogs. Some of the boys dressed up as Spartans from the movie 300. Their costumes involved them not wearing shirts, and some of the girls requested that they put their shirts BACK ON because their topless-ness was causing the girls to “stumble.” There were also instances of men being asked to keep their shirts on at the beach for the same reason.***

All of these stories make me want to repeatedly smash my face against a blunt object, and believe me when I say that they are just a small sampling. Needless to say, I am moderately jaded and moderately bitter.

There are so many factors at play here, but I hope I can hit on some truths, or at least contribute to the dialogue.

In her presentation,Jessica spoke about dressing modestly to communicate one’s dignity.bikini

dig·ni·ty
ˈdiɡnədē/
noun
the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. 

I am appalled and saddened that this woman thinks her dignity could be compromised if she wore a two-piece swimsuit. You are not more worthy of respect because you wear more clothing. You are not less worth of respect because you wear less clothing. You are worthy because you are a human being. You are a person. So let’s not get that confused.

Even the Bible backs that up:

1 Timothy 2:9-10

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God”

This verse is frequently cited as why Christian women should be wearing plain, GAP-esque clothing (YOU HEARD ME), but I think that is an improper interpretation. In light of the Gospel, I feel that Paul is saying “The actions you clothe yourself with are much more important than your clothes.” Or, more simply, “Who you are is more important than what you’re wearing.”

arrowsSo hey Church…While you are teaching young girls to literally yell out “TRASHY” when they see a few inches of tummy on the beach, Jesus is yelling even louder “LOVELY. IMPORTANT. BEAUTIFUL.”

Perhaps even more disturbing, you are teaching girls to view themselves as less dignified, less respectable, less love-able, less important if they dress “immodestly.” This is how you get 22 year old women who feel SHAME over every stare they elicit.

“While popular culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to get men to look at them, the modesty culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to keep men from looking at them.” || Rachel Held Evans

TRU TRU TRU^^

So basically, you get to wear whatever the heck you want if it settles right on your conscience and makes you feel good. Nobody gets to judge you for it. Not a single person. Throw away your yardsticks.

* I love and trust my church and this does not reflect its views at all, as I have come to understand them.No church and no person is perfect. #Gospel

** This school provided me with a great education, many caring teachers, and I have come to truly appreciate it.
*** This group meant a lot to me. I learned a lot of very important things about God, and made lasting friends.

The One Where I Go A Little Ham Sandwich About Entitlement, America, And The Church

I know this video has made its rounds, but I really like it. It’s made me think about a lot. Watch it real quick.

“Is it acceptable because its one individual helping another? Or because one individual is better than the other?” 

This is a great question. And I think it needs to be asked not only in regards to charity, but of Church missions. (Yes, that’s “Big C” Church). First I’ll talk about the societal issue at play, and then all yall atheists can click away and church punks* can read on.baltimore

Huge shoutout to Yousef of FouseyTube for being brave enough to make this video and all the other social experiment videos he has done. (He also makes legitimately hilarious prank videos, so be sure to check those out too).

I think this video addresses something of monumental importance, which is the way America treats its poor. Here in Baltimore, the homeless frequently sleep on benches that are engraved with the phrase “Baltimore: The greatest city in America.” Which is so indicative of our attitude. Are we going to help the homeless? Naw dawg, but we can get them some really nice benches doe.

I’m going to ask you the same question I asked myself after watching this video: When you give money to a homeless person, why do you do it? No. Why do you ACTUALLY do it. Because you want them to stop badgering you at your car window? Because they asked and it would be awkward to say no? Because you don’t want to lie and say you don’t have cash? Because you’re afraid? Because you would feel guilty later if you didn’t? Because you want to post about it on Facebook for the likes…#blessed? Because you know what its like to be down and out? (If you’re reading this, no you frikkin don’t, stop lying).

I was utterly shocked by people’s reactions in this video. This looks to be a very wealthy area of LA, so I know the effects are a bit magnified, but I think the principle remains true no matter where you look in America. We give because, at least a little bit, we think we are better. Maybe we think we’re better and feel guilty about it. Or maybe we think we’re better and subconsciously enjoy the power of being able to bestow a monetary gift upon someone lesser.

If that sounds unlikely, check your heart again. When you gave that guy a dollar, were there other people watching? Were you showing off your generosity? Did you tell anyone about it later? Did you feel super great about yourself for the rest of the day? 

changeOf course, this extends beyond handing out chump change on the streets. Have you ever volunteered at a soup kitchen? Gone on a short term missions trip? Run errands for an elderly person? Done anything that put you in power over someone society sees as “less” than you? You’re offering up your good graces and its all you, baby. God forbid someone tries to pay you back. And if they do, it’d better be something pandering and adorable that they can handle, like a free meal or something.

America is so messed up in this area. It’s like, if you give a gift, you are better, more righteous, more self-aware, more enlightened, more privileged, by default. Accepting a gift is admitting weakness.

In the past several months of unemployment, some of my friends have been paying for my coffee/drinks/food when we go out. Its been really humbling to be on the receiving end of that, and it has taught me much about not thinking you are “too big” to accept help. I didn’t even realize I had thought I was too good for it.

I dunno, money does things to ya, man. But a false sense of power doesn’t  just come from money….

Okay, only church people read on, everyone else tune out. 

In college, Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) was a pretty big deal in my life. And my most favorite thing of all was our annual spring break missions trip to Panama City Beach, Florida, “Big Break.” I went Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior year. I even helped to plan and lead the trip Junior year. The goal of the missions trip was to “reach” big breakspring-breakers partying on the beach. We were encouraged to be non-confrontational and to have real, deep spiritual conversations, actually listening to people’s responses. All great things.

Now, I was all ABOUT this innovative evangelistic method. Growing up in the church, I was been exposed to quite a bit of short term missions, door-to-door tactics, conferences, tracts, you name it. This felt better somehow. More genuine. It’s like this trip was built for me. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m really good at talking to strangers. Plus I love the beach. So I thrived on these trips until my senior year.

The first semester of my senior year I went on an exchange trip to the US Virgin Islands. The lessons I learned there could fill many blog posts. When I returned to Towson for my last semester of college, I knew Big Break was around the corner. I haven’t told many people this, but I didn’t want to go. I made excuses for why not, but I didn’t even return to Cru. In fact, I didn’t attend church at all for a long time after that.

I think my understanding has been shaken. Let me clarify: My understanding of everything has been shaken.

Like so many kids born into the church, I initially thought of Christianity as rules and legalism. Then I learned it was really about grace and Jesus and loving people. Then I discovered the real world, the actual real world, were other people besides my Christian friends live, and realized that didn’t really make sense either, because that’s not actually what Christians believe, even if they claim to.

See, I figured out that the Church does things under the guise of “Equality.” Under the ruse of “We are all sinners.” Under the mask of “I’m no better than you. My good works are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Listen up yo. Nobody thinks their good works are like filthy rags, not a goddamn person. Maybe some monk somewhere, but certainly no person I have ever met. And that’s the tricky part, we say we think that. But we DON’T. Maybe we even think we think that. But that’s even more self-righteous.

Nah, the truth is, we think we’re pretty great for following Jesus. Doin’ a pretty bang up job of this whole Christian walk thing. Definitely doing the right stuff over here, yes sirree-bob. Readin’ that Bible in the morning with some coffeecoffee. MMM, Coffee and the Word.  Going to Bolivia or some shit for a week…gonna talk to some orphans there. Move around some concrete bricks. Making a difference for the ole Kingdom.

(And I GET to say all this because I’VE DONE AND THOUGHT OFF OF THESE THINGS).

That’s why I didn’t want to go on Big Break anymore. Because here we come, a big pack of us. In our one-piece bathing suits from Target that we convince ourselves are cute. Here we come on our high horses, delivering the Word of the Lord to you: the poor lost souls having fun in the sun in Florida. Deep down you know it feels empty to drink with friends, right? That’s why we’re here. To show you that you don’t need alcohol and ~sexual relations~.

Do you see what I’m saying? Is this making sense? Because in the Virgin Islands I found myself for the first time being a spring breaker on the “wrong” side of a beach evangelism trip. Playing beer pong on an inflatable raft in the ocean.

And suddenly it didn’t seem like everyone needed this one-piece bathing suit Jesus as much as the Church told me they did. Cuz I was in a bikini and I already had Jesus. 

judgemental-twats

I used to worry about what *other Christians* would think of every decision I made – then I decided to stop being friends with *judgmental Christians*

So I’ve found that the Church is much trickier than I thought. I even tricked myself, and I think most people do. We trick ourselves into thinking we’re not judging others, but we ARE. WE ARE. We don’t realize that were judging people because we’re so obsessed with the fact that we’re not. Just like in that video. We see others as less fortunate than ourselves because they don’t have Jesus. So we pity them. We pity them in a gross, degrading way. Like they could never even fathom our incredibly great lives with the Lord. We point to our Bibles, and the fact that we’re not on a trashy spring break trip, and the fact that we’ve never dropped an f-bomb at a prayer meeting and say in our heart of hearts, “You see that? That’s a BENZ.”

Let’s spit some truth, its time for some REAL grace in the Church. And by that I mean, Christians better start truly believing in a Jesus that would kick back and sip a Natty with the spring breakers instead of engaging with them for 10 minutes and then feeling really good about it for the next 11 months.

Cheers.
*Middle school Audio Adrenaline reference?? I am the least cool person ever, don’t look at me.