December 09, 2005

Taking Their Ball and Going Home

Earlier this week, the Ford Motor Company announced that it will stop advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in magazines targeted to the GLBT community. This after having "discussions" with the American Family Association, which had threatend a boycott of Ford products unless they pulled their advertising from these publications. I suppose the AFA doesn't think gays or lesbians should own cars.

Nothing like a corporation stand by its convictions. Seeing Ford cave in to pressure from a neo-conservative organization like that makes ME want to boycott their products, but with that kind of weak leadership, they'll do much more damage to their own company than I ever could.

In a related story, another bastion of right-wing thinking, Focus on the Family, pulled its money out of Wells Fargo bank because the bank had the nerve not to seek their counsel on where money should be donated. Wells Fargo made a $50,000 contribution to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Apparently Focus on the Family doesn't want anyone they do business with standing in the way of gays or lesbians being defamed.

Unlike the leadership at Ford, though, Wells Fargo stood by their actions. "We absolutely made a $50,000 grant to GLAAD, and we're absolutely proud of our support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community," said Chris Hammond, spokesman for the banking giant, which gives about $2 million a year to gay and lesbian organizations.

Focus on the Family's decision to pull their funds won't ruin a huge bank like Wells Fargo despite their $146 million of income last year, but this is just the latest in a trend of religious orginizations trying to flex their political muscle with economic actions.

I hope that more companies react to these threats in the way that Wells Fargo did. This is becoming an era where some conservative organizations want to dictate the actions of people and groups beyond the scope of their constituency.

Please join me in praying that this effort fails. I pray we continue to enjoy the freedom to follow our own convictions and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives, not what someone else tells us we should feel or do.

December 06, 2005

As reported in the Washington Blade, a church in the DC area has launched a controversial (at least in the GLBT community) television advertising campaign. This news item caught the attention of a member of my church family, Sharone Belt. She sent the following letter to associate pastor Lynn Carter of the church in question, Arlington Assembly of God in Arlington, Virginia. I was moved by her passionate and well-constructed protest to Ms. Carter, and Sharone gave me permission to publish her letter here.

My name is Sharone and I have been a Christian since I was about 6 years old. I have only been a spirit-filled Christian for about 6 years now, but I have seen more growth in my walk in that time than inthe almost 30 years previous! I am also a lesbian.

I read in theWashington Blade this weekend about your television ads. I haven't seen them yet, but the description led me to write to you regarding the ads.I have no doubt that your church feels that you are reaching out to the gay and lesbian community in love. Unfortunately, when that message conveys the idea that being set free from sin also means beingset free from the "homosexual lifestyle", it implys to gays and lesbians that they are less than and that their so-called sin is more heinous that others' sins.

Personally, I have come to terms with my sexuality and believe, from my own study of scripture and the Holy Spirit's leading, that I am totally accepted by God as a lesbian. I am in a covenant relationship with my partner of 12 years. She and I are deacon candidates at our church and actively work to show people in our community that God does have high standards for conduct, but that being gay or lesbian doesn't automatically mean that you are wrong or sinful. There are many gays and lesbians that do sinful acts, just like there are straight people who commit sinful acts, but that's not the same thing.

I think that many Christians have a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to sexuality. They believe that people are either straight or are perverts. They don't allow for anything else. Well, what if it were the other way around? What if the majority of people were gay and thought you were wrong for being straight? How would you feel?

I love my partner just the same as a man loves his wife. We don't live so different from any straight couples that I know. We just happen to be two women. The Word says that there is neither jew nor greek, man or woman, slave or free in Christ. In my understanding of the Word through the filter of the Holy Spirit, I believe that God would say the same thing about being straight or gay. In the spiritual realm, it doesn't matter what my physical or emotional attractions are. What matters is what I do for the Lord. Wouldn't you agree?

At our church, that's how we feel. We just held our first "straight" wedding of a man and woman and were just as thrilled for them as the church was when my partner and I had our covenant ceremony here 3 years ago. It's about 2 people who love each other and are committed for life to be together and work for theKingdom together.

I know I'm getting long-winded, but I just wanted to express why youm ay get some negativity from the gay community. The bottom line isthat most of us feel that being gay is part of us like being straight is part of you. It's not changeable like a pair of socks. It's not something that needs to be changed to be able to be right with God.That's all I'm trying to get across.

Well, God bless you. I know your hearts are in the right place there at Arlington Assembly. Have a wonderful Christmas season. Remember Colossians 3:12.

Love, in Christ
Sharone Belt

December 05, 2005

I Don't Understand--And That's Okay

I think one of the primary obstacles society places in the way of people growing closer to God is the emphasis on accumulating information. With the availability of the Internet, 24-hour cable news and satellite radio (a personal favorite), there is an endless stream of information proved to (if not shoved down the throat of) the average person.

This cultural trend makes it more difficult for anything that can not be scientifically proven or logically supported to be accepted by the masses.

Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, ay have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

There is a lot written in the bible that I don't completely understand. There are a lot of things that have happened in my life that I don't understand. We are not promised all knowledge in our earthly existence. Quite the contrary--the above scripture is but one example of the message God sent telling us that there is plenty we will NOT understand.

The wonderful part of that is knowing that even when portions of the bible confuse us and circumstances in our lives puzzle us, we can know that God loves us beyond our human understanding. That love is the basis for our faith, which is belief in things unseen or not fully understood.

The next time you are baffled by life, try relying on that faith and know how much God loves us instead of trying to rationally figure things out. His plan for us will ALWAYS be better than we come with up on our own.

We may not understand it, and that's okay.