For the church and for believers, words like "include", "welcome", and "accept", etcetera, in reference to the LGBTQ community are problematic because it presumes the ones who use them are already inside and hold the power to determine who can enter and join them.
Many people assume the answer follows the question.
Not in our spiritual lives!
Healthy personal growth leads us further away from a dualistic view of the world and further into a more paradoxical one.
We are pulled, if we are willing (and even sometimes if we‚ not), out of the shallows and into the deep.
I'm not talking about yes-or-no questions, like is there a Hell? the story of Jonah and the whale true? the creation story literal?Do all paths lead to heaven?‚Äù Although these are often questions that may begin our more intense journeys into deeper and more open questions.
Questions like what if the bible is myth and metaphor rather than history and fact? How is my perception of God conditioned by my upbringing? Jesus wasn't a historical figure, then how does this change my understanding of Christianity? How does my brain‚ priority to protect itself play a role in my belief system? Can my feelings of God be manufactured by my mind‚ amazing ability to concoct these feelings? Scary but important questions!
(Hey! Did you know I've written a whole book on questions called "Questions are the Answer" available on Amazon?)
So, it is a mistake to believe people with questions are troubled, immature, rebellious, sinful, or possessed. In fact, I believe they are further down the road.
Just look at the scientific community! It is driven by questions. The best we can come up with is a theory. But never the final answer. In the scientific community, all claims are what is called "falsifiable".
It's the same in most serious psychological, personal, or spiritual growth models (all three are the same to me): living with questions is the end of the journey, not the beginning.
A perfect example is the Zen koan‚ an unanswerable question that provokes the mind to ascend above the black and white world of dualistic and therefore simplistic thought.
Even in the Christian tradition, one of the last words of Jesus is one of the most painful and existential questions that can ever be asked: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
This question, like any good question, cannot and should not be answered.
It can only be lived with.
But if we can learn to live with such deep mystery, learn to float in it, then this is where we find true life and communion with what is.
(If you want a safe community in which to ask your questions without judgment, join us at TheLastingSupper.com ‚ I'll welcome you myself!)
Here we see Jesus teaching a woman how to give the finger.
A good, healthy spirituality teaches us how to be defiant.
In fact, in all religious traditions, defying evil, injustice, and tyrants... what Saint Paul called 'the principalities and powers'... is a major theme.
Only those interested in keeping power oppose defiance.
Unless it's defying logic or love.
(Disclaimer: When I speak of spirituality, I don't necessarily invoke a divinity. To me, spirituality is about the inner life of a person, with or without reference to a divine being or the supernatural.)
Friends are allies. Allies are friends.
Simple as that.
Buy this cartoon in my nakedpastor Etsy shop!
(Need some friends? Online ones are real. Check out my online community, TheLastingSupper.com. Awesome people and awesome relationships. I'll personally welcome you. Try it!)
The official policy was that if a prophet prophesied and it turned out not to be true, they were to be stoned.
The unofficial policy is that if a prophet prophesies and it turns out to be true, they will be stoned.
Because the ones who wrote the laws didn't expect the truth to be turned on themselves.
Speaking truth to power has never been a safe enterprise.
LOVE IN CONFUSING TIMES
This is another post addressing the distressing issue of deconstructing while married.
Yes, all these posts can apply to any relationships.
But I'm particularly addressing marriage because I see a lot of marriages suffer when deconstruction hits one or both partners.
I want to help marriages survive this‚ if they should and if they can.
I'm talking about when one or both start questioning their beliefs,
or feel like they are losing their faith,
and experience their relationship to the church undergo change,
it affects the marriage.
Once you were on the same page.
Now you wonder if you're even in the same book.
When Lisa and I got married many years ago, we thought we really knew each other.
Whoa, were we in for a big surprise!
Because, slowly but surely a vast and horizonless vista opened up before us,
inviting us into a never-ending exploration of each other.
But, this was like a leisurely float down a lazy river in a nice canoe.
Then deconstruction hit.
This felt like the floor disappeared from beneath our feet,
hurling us deep down into a fathomless ravine.
But that's where we rediscovered,
and renewed our love for one another.
It was the climax where the most significant theme of our love story was to really get to know each other,
learn more about each other,
and fall more deeply in love with each other.
Yes, we were walking through the valley of the shadows.
But we were doing it together.
We would do it again.
And probably will.
Many years ago after I first was in the ministry, I found a spiritual director who was a Catholic nun.
Of course, all this was kept secret because it would have been seriously frowned upon by the church and denomination I was serving.
One time when I met with her, she asked me what I was afraid of.
I said I was afraid of becoming a heretic.
She said, "So, what if you do?"
First, I was afraid of being rejected by God.
Second, I was afraid of being rejected by God's people.
Basically, she said don't worry about the first, but the second is bound to happen.
I may not experience outright rejection from the church.
But I will certainly experience opposition, correction, and ridicule if I choose to be authentic.
All my spiritual heroes experienced the same thing.
So why shouldn't I?
Especially if I wanted to emulate them.
Have you experienced that moment just before expressing yourself honestly and authentically?
You feel the risk.
You are aware of the possible consequences.
You count the cost.
But if you dare to be yourself, you dare to pay the price.
Am I right?
God created us in his image.
We created Jesus in ours.
I've noticed‚ with myself and others‚ that people who go through the deconstruction have a difficult time with the word‚ belief.
Are you still a believer?‚ they asked.
Um, they answer.
Do you believe in God?‚ they asked.
Well‚ they answer.
People who deconstruct are no longer satisfied with yes or no questions and refuse to conform to black and white answers.
I've decided this is okay.
When you listen to the wisest people who have lived and live among us, they are just as frustratingly slippery with their answers.
Because deconstruction pulls us beyond dualism into a more paradoxical wisdom.
And a healthy wisdom accepts, embraces, and assimilates all that's gone before. All that I was and am and will be is included into the whole of who I am.
This is the explanation behind this cartoon.
I recently explained it this way:
I used to be inside a cup of belief. But now what I know fills the sea! I do not throw away that cup of water I used to believe. Rather, it gets subsumed into the sea. The sea embraces it all. I do not reject it. It gets absorbed into all that I am. All that we are. All that is.
(If you understand what I'm talking about and are feeling lonely, please join the rest of us at TheLastingSupper.com ... I'll personally welcome you!)
I remember when I first read James Fowler's book, Stages of Faith. It shattered my fears of going off track or even backsliding. Instead, it helped me to frame the most anguishing periods of my spirituality as potential progress.
I happily discovered that doubts and questions are a crucial part of a healthy spiritual life.
It was the same joy I experienced when I took my first personality test in preparation for ordination into the ministry. To discover that my personality wasn't weird but legit was so liberating!
When I concluded spiritual valleys are necessary, my old concepts of spiritual growth changed.
I used to think of spiritual growth as linear. But I question that because it implies that you move along a line and leave the past behind you‚ forgotten, unappreciated, and unintegrated.
Then I used to think of it as stages. But I question this too because it communicates that those at a higher stage are better than those beneath them. We can even despise our own earlier stages and reject these important developmental chapters of our stories.
Now I think of growth as spatial. We expand to include more without rejecting our former selves. We grow outward while subsuming all that went before. This universal perspective helps us to integrate all of ourselves and encourages us to love all people who all share the same space we do.
Perhaps some people think you're backsliding.
Maybe you even wonder if you're backsliding.
I hope now you might be able to see that you are perhaps actually growing!
(We talk all about this stuff in TheLastingSupper.com, Why don't you join us there?)