Friday, November 23, 2012

When the body breaks down

Here is an interesting article about one former athlete's descent into the mire of medical problems.  In her struggles, I heard echoes of my own.
"I have known God's presence in unique ways during my journey from physical powerhouse to pathetic patient. As Christians, we know that we must take up our crosses and follow him daily. But what happens when that cross is gall bladder failure or an allergy to tomatoes? Saints in ages past were boiled in oil or crucified upside down for their faith. What good is it to suffer as an unwilling martyr merely to one's own brittle body?

"This would be the place for the inspiring testimonial about how spiritually transformative the experience of ill health has been. How I have been purified of fleshly pleasures and am now more single-mindedly focused on the celestial. Instead, I obsess about macaroni and pie. I find other ways to indulge, such as with junky magazines or mindless materialism." - Kathleen Anderson
My small group has been reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, and Lewis mentions that our highest goal and highest good is not health.  We are not commanded to be healthy, and good health is not a requirement for us to have faith.  Poor health, in fact, helps us acknowledge our dependence on God, and that is a very valuable thing in a world that lies to us and says our comfort, pleasure, will, and ease are the most important things we can seek.  Not that anybody would really ask for it, per se, but when God is ruthlessly loving us and molding us for our betterment and His glory, sometimes the poor health is going to happen in a fallen world, and it won't seem fair and we won't know why and we will have to choose to keep praising Him and trying to make what meaning we can.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What sex is like at its best

So I mentioned this awesome post by a homosexual Mormon not living a homosexual lifestyle and explaining his history and thought process and decisions along the way.  One of the things I found most interesting was what he said about his relationship and sex life with his wife.
"I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn’t understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren’t distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig." - Josh Weed
As a contented celibate/asexual person, I found this really interesting because it confirmed that some things I had thought could be true can in fact be true.  It seems a bit like arranged marriages: if both parties come in with their eyes open and the same goals, they can have a very rich marriage full of mutual love and respect.  Hormones and passion don't have to have much to do with it, really, and can, in fact, be detrimental.

Anyway, it provoked a lot of thought for me.  Doing anything for you?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Homosexual voices of faith

This blog post about a Mormon who identifies as homosexual and chooses to live the way he believes is correct even though it goes against his inclinations is one of the best things I've read in years.  Everything is so logical and clear while still being emotionally powerful and ringing with the truth of hard choices made.  I've wondered if these voices were writing somewhere because they are voices that need to be heard in the church.
"Why was he gay? What did God expect him to do?"  - Josh Weed
Does this mean I agree with everything the poster said/concluded?  Of course not, but so what?  It is a voice that is part of an important conversation we need to be having about homosexuality and religion so that thinking people who are homosexuals can see that they don't have to either "live a lie" or just give up on the church.
"One of the sad truths about being homosexual is that no matter what you decide for your future, you have to sacrifice something. It’s very sad, but it is true. I think this is true of life in general as well. If you decide to be a doctor, you give up any of the myriad of other things you could have chosen."
. . .
"I chose not to “live the gay lifestyle,” as it were, because I found that what I would have to give up to do so wasn’t worth the sacrifice for me."  - Josh Weed
A while back, there was a kerfuffle on one of the related-to-Publisher's-Weekly blogs wherein commenters got very vocal about the idea of different voices in genre fiction.  A lot of people who were not fans of religion said some things that made me sad in their call for inclusion and tolerance and such.  They didn't want any more lying religious propaganda where no characters are ever not-heterosexual or where any incidental homosexual characters are miraculously "cured" to live happily ever after.  They wanted stories that ring with truth (in their case, defined as not-mainstream, not-easy, not-convenient, not-limiting, not-church).
"It all comes down to what you choose and why, and knowing what you want for yourself and why you want it. That’s basically what life is all about."  - Josh Weed
I agreed with these posters in theory, that kids need to be able to read stories told well by realistic narrators they can identify with.  I disagreed with these posters because I think there are stories with religious and even Christian narrators who wrestle with their faith and homosexuality and find their way onto a path they can live with in both their hearts and their heads.  But who would ever publish such writing?  As my college writing professor once said, "Too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals."  But I can't help feeling that the audience is out there, listening to the sound of crickets chirping and feeling miserable and horrible and more sinful than those around them because that is the only message they really hear proclaimed loudly.
"I want you to stop battling with this part of you that you may have understood as being sinful. Being gay does not mean you are a sinner or that you are evil. Sin is in action, not in temptation or attraction. I feel this is a very important distinction. This is true for every single person. You don’t get to choose your circumstances, but you do get to choose what you do with them."  - Josh Weed
We need writers who have gone through this struggle to relate it to those struggling with it now to show that there is hope, intellectual integrity, faithfulness, and peace out there, not just despair.  The backlash could be tremendous, but those kids struggling now deserve that helping hand.
"You are no more broken than any other person you meet."  - Josh Weed
If you've come across anything written by those with non-heterosexual inclinations who have chosen to live what they believe is right according to their carefully considered faith, please pass them my way.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Let's Stop Pretending, Shall We?

"[T]he truth has always been that without God’s intervention, I am selfish and prideful every minute of every day. I care what others think because deep down I want to be seen as great—I want to matter. I find it impossible to forgive; to truly be able to forgive people who hurt us must be one of God’s greatest miracles. And I belittle the God of the universe by worrying as if he is not really in control. Inside, my soul seems prone to slant toward every quality I would never want to possess. I live assuming I am not alone in these weaknesses. Mostly because I know a lot of people."
. . .
"We don’t want to fall. We like to see great testimonies of God’s grace, but we don’t want to be the testimony."

Oh, yes.  Please check out this article.  It's called "Don't Pretend," and a lot of broken people just like me, just like us, need us to stop pretending in the church.