In this health and fitness update my total weight loss amount is a little scary, and I talk about resisting the urge to commit a felony. I hope you find this entertaining. Thanks to those of you who have been a great encouragement during this journey.
A consistent question I got after my post last Tuesday asked if I was truly, explicitly, saying that I supported gay civil marriage equality. The short answer is yes.
Now for the long answer
I thought that my previous post should focus on my experience, my change in opinion concerning past public policy work, and apology. I also thought that my support of gay civil marriage equality was implied and obvious. Regardless, I planned to write this post after that one anyway. For those that want to read the first post for some background and more on my personal views of marriage, please click here.
Now for today’s topic …
In the past, I used to quote Francis Schaeffer to justify my public policy activism by saying (emphasis mine);
“True spirituality covers all of reality.” – A Christian Manifesto, Francis Schaeffer
Today, I still believe that is true. However, I have learned that cultural religious activism shouldn’t define my spirituality in public policy reality. In the past, I willingly adopted a set of talking points, and modified my testimony, to fit the conservative culture war’s methodology and end game … not the Great Commission. To be clear, I did this because I genuinely believed it was the right thing for our country. I was wrong, and that is why I apologized in last Tuesday’s post. I also apologized for my work in public policy (among other things) last year.
Here is today’s health and fitness update! The above graphic gives all the current stats as of this morning. I am very excited to have lost anything because it has been a roller coaster of a week.
First we had the long Labor Day weekend holiday. I went to Alan & Leslie’s Monday and as always mucho delicious food was consumed. I didn’t go crazy but it was all rich and tasty! I went to work out that night but found the gym doors locked when I got there. I was four minutes late! They shut down early that evening for the holiday. So, right off the bat I missed my first workout of the week.
I need to start off by saying that the foremost benefit of God’s grace is in the atonement afforded through the finished work of Christ. His incarnation, going to the cross in our place, and rising from the dead transcends any “list.” It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway because I adore Him, Jesus is the most amazing thing about Grace. He, is the greatest benefit of having received God’s grace.
Now, to the rest of the post …
One relational benefit of grace is to meditate on the finished work of the cross with wonder, not shame or condemnation. This will deepen our relationship with God.
When we ask our Savior exactly why He went there for us specifically we will experience an outpouring of love from Him, not anger. It’s not difficult to imagine why He would go through all that for humanity with all the evil, sickness, and tragedy in the world. However, the atonement of Christ is also very specific for us as individuals. The Holy Spirit used this meditation as a new Christian to help me fall deeply in love with Him. Also, considering the cross is also not a quick “lesson learned” to check off of our spiritual enlightenment checklist. It is true that Jesus is no longer on the cross and doesn’t ask us to camp out there, but meditating on the personal meaning/application/significance of the Atonement will forever be relevant to us. There isn’t a time when this focus of meditation is not appropriate. Each time I consider what He has done, I fall deeper in love with Him.
Another relational benefit of grace is that now I am free from God’s law, I don’t have to live under the judgment of others.
Other’s judgments only have power when I allow them to have that power over me. In Christ, other’s curses do not have to go from their lips into my soul. Those bitter seeds die before they ever hit ground. Now, that I understand the loving favor of God toward me, I don’t need to try and manipulate favor with others. Of course I care and would like for people to like me :). But, truly, I don’t need others to “like” me in order for me to have a personal sense of worth or to love them. Their judgments don’t prevent me from seeking to see and love them as God does. Whether we agree or not, even on major issues, does not devalue either of us in the sight of God. That is what I choose to focus on.
From the video description:
“A Conversation With Jonathan Merritt” – “The God who created us is better than the God we created.” – “Jonathan Merritt is an award-winning religion writer who serves as senior columnist for Religion News Service. He is also a sought after speaker and author of several books, including his most recent “Jesus is Better Than You Imagined.” In this interview Jonathan discusses the disunity of the Church, the voice of the Church, church leaders, how to handle gray area issues, sexuality, and much more.”
This is a long video but well worth the watch. Jonathan is very thoughtful, challenging, and even a bit provocative. Definitely worth the watch.
When it comes to gay marriage as a public policy issue, I was once very outspoken on the topic. From the 2003 to 2008 I lobbied for marriage amendments in Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, California, and on other national media platforms (interviews.) I went to Washington DC more than a few times and lobbied for the Federal Marriage Amendment on Capitol Hill. I also visited the Bush White House a couple of times and sat 20 feet away from when President Bush made a statement in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Because those experiences are not something I enjoy reflecting on lately, I have avoided writing this post. However, I can’t get away from it. If I was passionately willing to lobby for banning gay marriage at one point, I feel I should speak up on the topic if my views have changed.
To be clear, my view of marriage in a spiritual context has not changed. I believe the wedding union of husband and wife bears the image of God uniquely. Individually they bear His image equally and beautifully. Together they bear His image in a way that neither can do alone. I believe marriage between a husband and wife is transcendent; that Christ refers to the church as His Bride is stunning. One of my favorite meditations is to consider Christ and His Church in the symbolism of marriage.
What I am also trying to learn is how I can state my beliefs without being a jerk about it. I don’t have to contextualize my personal belief by insulting gay couples who have married or gay people wanting to get married. The beliefs that guide and direct my life also compel me to seek to be a blessing and friend to gay couples; to see God’s presence in their lives as individuals and as a couple.
I have also come to believe that trying to make our secular government impose my spiritual beliefs in this matter is not helpful or appropriate. Let me explain …
Yesterday I finally rented the movie Noah by Darren Aranofsky to see what all the fuss was about. Before I get into my brief review of the movie, here is the trailer:
“Noah” the movie was released in March of this year. In the lead up to the movie, as well as immediately after, many religious folks were incredibly upset about it. So, I figured I would probably like it. I did like the movie. But, I wasn’t jumping up and down or moved to tears over it.
I can, actually, understand my more conservative friends being upset with the movie. We like Noah. Christian culture raises us as children to see a light-blue cloaked cartoon character with white hair and white beard standing next to a happy pair of lions, a dove on his shoulder, and happy Mr. & Mrs. Giraffe heads poking out of the ark’s sun-roof. At least that’s the image I remember as a kid. We like our cartoon Noah.
We tend to forget the part about him being drunk and naked (mentioned in the Bible) after the flood. We like the idea of a kindly man taking care of a floating zoo where all the animals smile as they take an End of The World cruise with a rainbow finale.
They were Fresno Grannies. I am sure they have probably been friends since grade school. They had that vibe. One was dressed in earth tones with salt and pepper hair pulled up into a loose bun. Her friend looked like Mrs. Claus (you know Santa’s wife) but in all blue and white. Her minimalist color scheme matched her eyes and hair respectively. She was very prim and put together. She also had her hair up in a tight bun. Earth-tone Grandma was talkative while Mrs. Claus had left the permafrost of the North pole and instead adopted a perma-grin.
Never stopped smiling … the same smile. She was so cute and while permagrins tend to be unnerving, her’s wasn’t.
We were at a conference put together by my former employer Exodus International and Focus on the Family called Love Won Out. It was a controversial conference that presented views concerning homosexuality and Christianity (many of those views have changed for me over the years). Regardless, I was there as an employee. I went to over 30 of these over the years, and all kinds of folks attended these events. To see a pair of older women walk through the doors was not uncommon. It was also not uncommon for people to ask me questions; my name tag let them know I worked with the conference.
This is my friend Vicki who purchased one of my iPad drawings, “Grace”, and hung it up on the wall at her work. That is so cool Thanks Vicki!