These Words of Mine

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I’m not serious enough for the academy. Nor am I funny enough to go into comedy. Too liberal for my conservative friends and too conservative for the liberal ones. A Christian and a feminist in a time and place when many think the two cannot coexist. It’s a strange space in which to dwell.

This is on my mind today because people have asked me recently why I write the way I do. Why a piece on a Monday bordering on (but never quite crossing into) the academic followed by a piece on a Friday in the style of a stream-of-consciousness journal entry? Why the polemical cozied up to the fluffy? Why the sarcasm tucked into the serious?

I don’t think about my “craft” or “art” that often. (Seems awfully pretentious to use those terms in relation to these little scribbles). I don’t consider the why or the ways. Rarely do I plan or outline. I sit down, I write. That’s it.

My version of thinking out loud, I suppose.

The juxtaposition of the deep and the wide, the theological and the absurd, the reflective and the shallow found here isn’t an attempt to be either clever or jarring. I don’t know how to write any other way because I don’t know how to think any other way. Yes, let’s talk Kierkegaard and textual criticism and politics and then in the next breath shout “irregardless!” in the affected Southie accent of Sully and Denise. (Thank you, Tina Fey). Let’s hopscotch from Jonah’s anger to the unabashed delight found in eating a fresh chocolate chip cookie. Let’s intensely study the role of women in church and society and then riff on that weird thing that one dude said.

Maybe it’s a little manic. I don’t know. I just can’t handle being serious all the time. I can’t. The bent of my nature is toward the gloom and the doom. A certain heaviness always weighs upon me. If I don’t tackle the sunlight and the laughter, I’m done for. I know that there are important issues. I know that things are happening. I know that responses must be weighed, measured and crafted. I understand the responsibility found in casting my words to the wind.

Yet I believe that silliness is a must. We need silly. We need fun. We need to laugh so hard that the sound ceases and the tears of happiness roll. Without the precious gift of humor, we’ll be swallowed up and washed away by tsunamis of fear and bitterness. And just what would be the point of that?

I wonder what might happen if we began to be known for our smiles instead of our frowns. Again, I know. We have responsibilities. We bear the Gospel message. We must stand for justice. There are bills to pay and kids to raise and relationships to tend. There are deadlines and housework and doctor visits. Hard, bad things happen and we suffer.

But what if, somehow, all of it was navigated with a smile, a chuckle and a gentle hand? What if we moved about on this earth as people who understand that joy – even happy – is a good thing? A necessary thing? As people who understand that faith and sour expressions are not meant to go together?

I do not mean denial or hiding. What we need to do is give ourselves permission to giggle. To unplug from all the deep, heavy stuff and sigh with laughter. The deep, heavy stuff will be there later. Just for a moment, set it down. Let it go. Throw your arms open and do a ridiculous little dance. Poke fun at the big, scary thing.

God knows we’ll be crushed if we don’t laugh. Wit and sarcasm are liberally sprinkled throughout the Bible. And have you seen some of the animals out there? Ridiculous.

Sometimes we just need a release. We can come back to the important things later. We need to pause and say, “This is so weird and I’m tickled over it.” Like a bright little buoy bouncing on choppy seas.

That’s why I write the way I do.

My journey to faith. (15)

Marriage is What Drives Us Apart Today

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I’ll just get right down to it.

I do not plan to revisit this in future posts. This is not going to become a theme. However, since I have long placed my words on the public buffet table, there’s really no way to avoid the topic. Before we get any further along, allow me to quote John MacArthur, who I don’t agree with on many points of doctrine, but who expresses it best when he says:

Marriage is not the ultimate battleground, and our enemies are not the men and women who seek to destroy it (2 Corinthians 10:4). The battleground is the Gospel. Be careful not to replace patience, love, and prayer with bitterness, hatred, and politics.

So here we go.

I’m not going to go protest at a gay wedding. I’m not going to refuse to associate with gay people. I wouldn’t shun a gay couple if they moved in next door. I don’t feel the need to bring up the topics of gay marriage or homosexuality in every conversation, Facebook comment or blog post. I’m not going to seek out gay people so I can shout at them. These actions are not only pointless, they are caricatures of what it means to be a Christian.

I’ll keep behaving as I have behaved all along, thanks.

But none of that requires that I say that gay marriage is blessed by God. I’m not going to say that He “created” same-sex unions anymore than He “created” heterosexual promiscuity, the point being that He does not call us to continue living in what He defines as sin. Yes, God loves us as we are and He sent Christ to save us while we were still sinners. Praise Him for that! But that love? It is transformative. It does not say, “Oh, you just go ahead and keep doing what you want.”

The fact that I believe marriage is a God-designed institution made for one man and one woman doesn’t make me a bigot. It doesn’t make me hateful. It doesn’t mean I think I’m better than other people. It doesn’t make me sick or twisted.

All my stance on this issue means is that I am striving to be consistent in my doctrine.

My denomination has issued a statement affirming that which is laid out in our manual of practice. We also stand with the National Association of Evangelicals:

Statement from the Board of General Superintendents, Church of the Nazarene –

Societies across the globe are engaged in conversations to redefine marriage. Media debates, election-day balloting, and governmental court rulings have provided the platform for this redefinition. We believe a biblical view of marriage involves a monogamous, covenantal relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus said, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV).

Today the United States Supreme Court, in the 5-4 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. We remind our people that while the civil law of yet another country has changed, divine truth has not changed. We will learn how this civil definition functions within the context of our constitutional and religious freedoms. Our commitment to the orthodox biblical Christian faith remains the same. We continue to call Nazarenes around the world to a life of holiness, characterized by holy love and expressed through the most rigorous and consistent lifestyle of sexual purity. We further call our people to a generosity and graciousness of spirit that extends kindness to those who do not share our belief. We pray that God will help us be examples of His truth in a world that needs to see God’s love demonstrated in word and deed more than ever.

Statement from the National Association of Evangelicals –

God designed marriage for humanity. As first described in Genesis and later affirmed by Jesus, marriage is a God-ordained, covenant relationship between a man and a woman. This lifelong, sexually exclusive relationship brings children into the world and thus sustains the stewardship of the earth. Biblical marriage —­­ marked by faithfulness, sacrificial love and joy — displays the relationship between God and his people.

While commentators, politicians and judges may revise their understanding of marriage in response to shifting societal trends, followers of Jesus should embrace his clear vision of marriage found in Matthew 19:4-6:

“Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Nothing in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion changes the truth about marriage. What has changed is the legal definition of marriage, which is now at variance with orthodox biblical faith as it has been affirmed across the centuries and as it is embraced today by nearly two billion Christians in every nation on earth.

In its role as a moral teacher, the law now misleads Americans about the true nature of marriage. Evangelicals and other followers of the Bible have a heightened opportunity to demonstrate the attractiveness of loving Christian marriages and families. Evangelicals should renew their commitment to the sacrificial love and covenantal faithfulness to which Jesus calls all husbands and wives.

As witnesses to the truth, evangelicals should be gracious and compassionate to those who do not share their views on marriage. Those who continue to embrace biblical teaching on marriage will increasingly appeal to the First Amendment protection not just for abstract belief, but for the practice of their faith. The National Association of Evangelicals calls on Congress to enact laws, on the president to implement policies, and on the courts to render judgments that uphold the freedom and human rights of all Americans.

More –

In the 5-4 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) regrets the court’s shift away from the historic understanding of marriage, but recognizes that the truth about marriage has not changed.

“At the beginning of the Bible, God defined marriage. In the New Testament, Jesus described marriage. Neither asked the Supreme Court for a new definition or description,” said Leith Anderson, NAE president.

The NAE today released a statement about marriage in light of the court’s redefinition, which says in part:

Nothing in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion changes the truth about marriage. What has changed is the legal definition of marriage, which is now at variance with orthodox biblical faith as it has been affirmed across the centuries and as it is embraced today by nearly two billion Christians in every nation on earth.

Anderson said, “As evangelicals, we look to the Bible — not the courts — for guidance on life. Marriage is a God-ordained, covenant relationship between a man and a woman. May this court decision be a clarion call to American evangelicals to proclaim and exhibit the good news about biblical marriage.”

The NAE recognizes that governments at times adopt policies that do not align with biblical values. However, those policies should not require those who follow the clear teachings of the Bible to change their beliefs or practices.

Anderson said, “As we respect a legal ruling with which we do not agree, we ask others to respect our faith and practices even when they disagree with us.”

The NAE calls on evangelicals to be gracious and compassionate to those who do not share their views on marriage and to also advocate for liberty for all who desire to live out their faith. The NAE calls on Congress to enact laws, on the president to implement policies, and on the courts to render judgments that uphold the freedom and human rights of all Americans.

I look to God for direction in all things. His word tells me that the faith has always been counter-cultural. Following Christ has always meant being out of step with the world at large. He defines what is right and what is wrong and will never be knocked off of His throne. It does not matter how governments rule on this or other positions. God is supreme. With this in mind, I will continue to learn to navigate life with both sobriety and joy, confident in my position as a daughter of the King. I will strive to treat everyone I come into contact with as a person, a human being, an image-bearer – whether they agree with me or not.

Nothing else needs to be said.

My journey to faith. (15)

You Can Trust God

Trust in the Lord with all your (9)

Gentle Reader,

I had a different post in mind for today, something about basic logic and the insanity of our world. These words may yet come at a later time, but right now I simply don’t have the energy or the brain power for them. As the meme says, “I can’t brain today. I has the dumb.”

Truth is, I feel pretty awful. Chris and I went out to celebrate our anniversary on Saturday, which was cut short by my sudden desire to either faint or vomit. Both seemed like viable options. (As of today, I have done neither and I really wish I would. I think I’d feel better). My liver or at least the space around my liver is swollen and painful. Can’t really eat. There’s pressure behind my eyes; not quite a headache but enough to be irritating. Yesterday afternoon I fell asleep on the couch and didn’t realize it. Didn’t even hear my husband moving around or the dogs barking, which is unheard of for a light sleeper like me.

I don’t know what’s going on. Since I had a CT scan to check on all this stuff last Friday morning, I’m hoping that the timing of that test and this attack/flare-up/whatever has been orchestrated by God so that my doctor can easily diagnose and treat the problem. I’ll be seeing him on Wednesday.

So, instead of some sarcasm, I give you this:

You can trust God.

You can.

It would be easy for me to stop trusting God. It would be easy for me to become furious with Him. Why won’t He heal me? Why won’t He release me from this? Why do I have to suffer? All legitimate questions, really. All questions that I suspect each one of us will have to wrestle with before shedding these tents of flesh.

I don’t know the answers to those questions. Well, I know about things like the effects of sin. I know how genetic mutations arise and how they are never a good thing (so much for naturalistic evolution). What I don’t know is why this is happening to me. I don’t know why this has been allowed or why it’s part of the plan.

But I do know that I can trust God. It’s the hard choice. Sometimes excruciatingly hard. Yet when I want to let go of the cliff-face and drop into the sea of despair below, the beauty of His dear face above arrests me. His voice urges me on. His hand grips mine, no matter my weakness. He grants me eyes to see something good, something eternal, in the midst of the battering storm.

When the tsunami comes, He covers my body with His.

When the winds howl, He pulls the hood tight over my head.

When the pain stabs at my side, He holds me close.

He has not abandoned me. He never will.

Be encouraged today. Whatever you face, however bleak it seems, you can trust God.

My journey to faith. (15)