Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rights vs. Semantics

I probably should keep my mouth shut, but when has that ever been my MO? I have been very stressed and upset over some of the issues out there, and have been pondering this for some time. I’m not gay, so I’ve probably got this wrong, but it seems to me my gay friends are upset over rights and discrimination. And the “traditionalists” are upset over a definition. I won’t even discuss the right or wrong of homosexuality – because that is not the issue.

The reason they end up on opposite sides is because the government has bestowed rights and created different rules based on their own granting of a status called “married”. Two adults who are not related can get this status by purchasing a license from the government and having it signed off on by someone licensed to do so. This marriage license then gets filed with the government and is the basis for tax breaks, insurance discounts, social security benefits, and other rights afforded to what normally would go to only close relatives (basically being married makes these two people legally related as the closest possible “next of kin”). Currently this status is reserved for an adult couple made up of a man and a woman. It’s assumed that these two people are committing to a lifelong relationship and that they love each other – although that is not required.

This is a bogus enterprise by the government. Any two adults should be allowed to “adopt” each other legally. It should have nothing to do with gender or even love. It doesn’t even have to be a “consummated” relationship. I think the only restriction would be that you can only be in one of these type relationships at any given time.

The problem traditionalists have with this is using the term “marriage”, which for most is a sacred institution – the term itself specifically used to describe the joining of a man and woman in a covenant relationship before God, with all kinds of Biblical references, etc. Unfortunately, marriage as a sacred institution is practically dead already – the “sanctity of marriage” has become a joke – and I think this is what the real outcry is about. The last shred of that meaning would be completely and finally lost.

Again, it’s the confusion between the “sacred marriage” and the “legal marriage” that is the problem. The legal government issued status should be renamed and redefined. I should be able to have the person I want to have at my bedside in the ICU – but if it has to be “legally” family, then give me the hoops to jump through to make it legal and call it whatever you want.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Have a little faith

So last month I wrote a somewhat negative-sounding post on prayer. That wasn't really my intent but it came out sounding somewhat sad and frustrated, which is ok because that's exactly what I was feeling at the time. However I can't just leave that sitting there without a follow up.

So, here's the thing - prayer is incomprehensible. I've heard it said that prayer doesn't change God it changes you. That's generally true, but it's rather trite as well for the person who is in anguish and despair. Prayer is the epitome of the theological tension surrounding pre-destination and free will. God is the Creator and has a plan - and we are the created who can't possibly mess up His plan, but at the same time, we have choices. We're called on to pray - to "ask". But on the third hand, if it's all going to turn out His way, what are we asking for?

James 4:2 says we have not because we ask not. But then, what about the having not when we DO ask? Obviously, God does not want us to have whatever we're asking for. So we get the saying -  "God never says 'No'. He says 'Yes', 'Wait' or 'I have something better in mind'." Again, how nice for those not currently suffering.

Then there's the cop out "Prayer that God always answers" - Thy will be done. Yes of course we want God's will to be done because we know (yes we do) that He is good and holy and perfect. However, we are called on to have great faith (or not great - just mustard seed sized works, too) and to call on God for the miraculous - faith that moves mountains - faith that expects the impossible because all things are possible through Christ.

So we pray for that healing that we so want for our friend, spouse, parent, child, self. But we hedge our bets (and protect our hearts) by reminding God that we will accept whatever He chooses to do (in case He doesn't heal). I think God does what He wants, and our prayers are good. We need to be developing out personal relationship with Him and part of that comes from talking things through together. So we're really not reminding God that we're ok with His will. We're telling Him what we want (He knows) and we're telling ourselves that whatever happens we trust God is doing something for His glory. And we really, really want to have a glimpse of what that is. Obviously when someone is miraculously healed, God gets great glory. So I would think He should do that all the time, right? But that doesn't seem to be the way He works - and I'm assuming we would get cocky and complacent and all kinds of bad things would happen if He always performed healing, etc at our word. He's God; not me. (Yes you knew that - but I wanted you to know that I know that, too.)

When He doesn't heal, we are distraught. We don't understand why. We rarely see the glory He gets from NOT healing. But I believe it still happens. Somehow in the great big huge picture of THE PLAN, He is getting the glory. It's just so dang frustrating not to see it happening!

And I still think somehow we are supposed to expect the miraculous impossible healing. Too often I catch myself praying "and if You don't choose to do this incredible thing I want you to do" because in my heart I don't think He will do it. My faith is very very small when it exists at all. I guess I have faith in the overall idea that everything will turn out ok (for those who love God and are called according to His purposes), but I struggle with having faith in day-to-day answered prayer.

After my last post, I had some conversations with myself, and some with God, too. I was reading through my study journal and reading the end of 1Peter. I was reminded that I tend to get whiny about prayer when I am not remembering all He has already done for me. I have a lot of answered prayer in my short history of living. I just forget that when I'm hurting. It really is helpful to write things down - it's hard to remember when you're blinded by emotions. It's good to go back and see all that He has done. And reading His Word helps, too. Peter says it's going to be hard, but hang in there. You aren't alone and there's a very good ending on the way. It hurts! But He's with you. You will be better for it in the end. Have a little faith.

Friday, June 15, 2012

How, What and Why Pray?

I don't get the whole prayer thing. I know we're supposed to pray, but I don't get why. I mean, really, God knows, right? Why do I need to tell him? And if He doesn't want what I want, is my whining going to change His mind? And I've read and even talked about how prayer doesn't change Him, it changes me. And yet I'm at a place where I'm just not seeing it.

But we're supposed to. So, ok. I pray in more of a context of asking for insight or discernment. Asking for direction. Asking for blessings on family and friends. If someone asks me to pray for them, I certainly do. So all this asking all the time. Is that prayer? Asking? Because I don't know what else to do.

And then I find myself disappointed. There are things that I've been asking for years for with no answer. And mostly it's things like wanting to fulfill His purposes; use His gifts to accomplish His will in my life; go wherever He wants me to go. But I'm still at a loss.

On the flip side I am incredibly grateful for the roof over my head, for my family, for our good health, for my job and all the basic needs being met (like wifi internet access). I certainly don't want to rock the boat. But I do want to step out of it now and then. But my faith is so small, I fear I wouldn't have a leg to stand on.