Love First- “the most important question”

because I’m a hideous tease.  (And very proud of my work.)

“The most important question here is whether or not you think homosexuality is sin”, the comment read.

I’d written an ‘open letter’ to the Church on my blog. In that letter I described a few things I’d witnessed as a Christian and how I felt that Christianity’s ostracizing homosexuals was hindering Jesus’s work. Throughout the entire body of the letter I never once said that homosexual acts were not sinful- just that having the sexual orientation in and of itself could not be seen as sinful.

Forty or so of the people who commented agreed with me wholeheartedly- many of them Christians of an “aberrant sexual orientation” who were blessedly relieved to hear a heterosexual Christian girl take up their defense.

Ten or so of the people who commented were so vehemently opposed to the idea of taking a more accepting stance towards homosexuals that they accused me- a devoted Christian- of being blindingly deceived by the devil. What I found the most interesting about this exchange was that the gays who commented didn’t seem the least bit put off by the fact that I didn’t say that homosexual acts weren’t sinful. All they cared about was the fact that I said that sin didn’t bar you from knowing God’s love or otherwise Christ’s sacrifice was for naught. I treated them as an equal, and that evoked a very warm and positive response. Even from atheists! (Or, perhaps, especially from atheists and agnostics, who lauded my “lack of Christian hypocrisy”.)

What really, really dug into me was the fact that my fellow Christians seemed to think that because I didn’t rail against homosexuals, I must not have faith. Or I must not have the right kind of faith. Or, at the very least, that the issue of my own faith was now open for discussion. But I could take that with a grain of salt, as none of them knew me personally.

So what I took issue with the most was the opening statement of this book- “the most important thing here is whether or not you think homosexuality is sin.”

So, dear readers, let me tell you- the least important thing here is whether or not you think homosexuality is sin. The most important thing here is whether or not you think that people who fall out of the type of mainstream Christianity I’ve heard jokingly referred to as the “straight, white and narrow” are still people whom God loves. Does God love the gays? Does he want to have a relationship with transvestites and cross-dressers? Does he see punks and rockers as people he wants to redeem? When you go into the seedy underbelly of our world and see all of the people whom are farthest removed from our cozy suburbs and Sunday morning faith- are these people with whom we are still called to mission?

That is the most important question here. And just so we are as absolutely clear on it as we can be- I believe the answer is a gong-like resounding “YES.”

Love First Excerpt

The following is a portion of text from the introduction to Love First- but don’t worry, I won’t post any more! I don’t want to spoil the surprise. What I do want to know is what kind of a feel people get off of the intro, if it’s appealing, fair, etc.

I’m just a girl.

I’m not a Biblical scholar.

I haven’t been to seminary.

While I have spent time as a youth pastor and have led or aided in leading numerous small groups and charitable efforts, I’m not a preacher.

As I write these words I’m just a twenty-five year old wife and mother. The most official work I do is running the toddler room at my home church. Most of my days are spent tending house and making cookies.

But don’t let me deceive you. I am also much more than a paltry list of credentials. I’ve been in the trenches when it comes to bringing God to people. I’ve spent time tending a coffee shop that was known as a safe haven for the ragamuffins and strays of the world. I’ve talked to people. More importantly, I’ve listened to them. I’ve heard their stories. I’ve heard their pain and confusion. I’ve seen the shock on a cross-dresser’s face when he realized that the odd little girl he was talking to was a Christian, and I’ve seen his relief when he realized that my religion didn’t bar me from showing him kindness and taking pleasure in his company. I saw the light come into his eyes when he realized I had no desire to tell him he was going to burn in hell.

I’ve seen the fear on a friend’s face when she thought that telling me she was with another woman might mean losing my friendship, and I heard her relief when she realized my friendship wasn’t conditional to her perceived purity.

I’ve been there when a young man was questioning his sexuality. I’ve heard his fury with God for not just making him straight. I’ve witnessed his tears as he begged and pleaded for his burden to be taken from him, and I’ve seen his spirit wither as days and months passed without hearing God’s reply. I’ve seen him become assured of his own condemnation and fall away.

Oh, the condemnation. All the condemnation. A myriad of bright souls so positively certain that God does not want them that they never even attempt to find His face at all. And why would they believe that God hates them? Because the Church has done almost nothing to disabuse them of that notion- and much to reinforce it. It is the Western Church’s greatest shame that we have convinced an entire subset of humanity that they are not desired by God because they are not desired by us.

Unless something changes, they will never be reached by us- Jesus’ modern day disciples.

And this is where I cease to be just some girl. I am the one who will no longer be silent as I watch Christ’s bride hinder his ministry. I am more than myself because I am called- called to reintroduce the concept of God’s love and mercy. Called to teach that holiness is more than a state of being, it is also the journey towards that state. Holiness is not a prerequisite to faith and acceptance but instead the product of it.

Do not mistake me. What I have to offer to you is not a hypocritical condemnation of the Church’s actions but instead words spoken in love. That love being both for my Mother, the Church, and my Father God.

My call to repentance for the Church is a mere fragment of this written work. The largest part of it is not about what has been done wrong, but how we can start doing it right.

My Novel

I’m currently editing a novel I wrote several years ago. I mean that quite literally- as I type this I am taking some much coveted time away from my family to edit. I just re-wrote the introductory chapter for about the fifth time, and I’m reading it over and over and wondering if it’s any good. I suspect it is, but I’m biased, and as much as I suspect it’s good I’m sure it’s not.

Anyone reading this who has written fiction for pleasure knows what I’m talking about. Even Stephen King was fairly sure that his success was just a fluke.

Yet… I love words, I love shaping them, I love stories about humanity, I love success and failure and literature even when it’s total tripe. And I love my brave little novel.

Here’s the new first few paragraphs:

Let me tell you a story about a girl. This girl struggled every day to think of herself as more than just a mess of flesh and emotions taking up space and time. This girl slid out of happiness and into chaos almost overnight. This girl’s life changed in just a few short hours.

One night she was laying on her back lawn imagining her life taking it’s carefully planned course through college and into a career. She pictured a handsome husband and two fat babies and an energetic dog. Not too big of a dog. Maybe a Scottish Terrier or a small Collie. And then our girl heard a noise on the periphery and turned to see a dark figure holding a knife.

At this point the details cease to matter. What matters is pain and fear and the things that pain and fear can do to a young girl. What matters is the focus of her existence shifting away from the American dream and towards survival and survival alone. What matters is the shame, the embarrassment, the feeling of having surrendered control, fear of judgment, fear of consequence, fear of death and fear of having to continue to live the rest of her life carrying the knowledge of torment always in the back of her mind.

Let me tell you about what happens when a girl is left standing at the bottom of a dry well, knowing that there is nothing there to give her comfort or nourish her. So the girl looks up at the sky, so far away, and wonders. Millions of years ago primitive man looked up in the sky and he asked the same question. Throughout the ages that question has fueled art and industry and science, it has made men feel less and more alone, it has inspired awe and despair. And for one girl with blood under her fingernails, it gave her something to live for just a little while longer.

Just long enough.

Of course it’s not meant to give you much information. It’s only supposed to tell you just enough so that when you get to the next scene you don’t put the book down and never pick it back up. It’s supposed to get the saliva flowing just a little. It’s supposed to make you care about the main character enough that you forgive her selfishness and the fact that the book literally starts out with a scene of self-mutilation. (Which I’ve been told is hard to understand if you don’t understand the back story, which goes back fairly far, far enough that I’ve never really known where the tale should begin. I just can’t begin it before the rape, because I can’t make myself write about the rape itself in any detail.)

I thought I’d share that tiny bit with you so that you can get a glimpse into my “serious” writing endeavors. That and if it’s total crap, someone can tell me. 😀