Category Archives: Spiritual Sundays Post

Speak Up, For Christ’s Sake

I need to vent.

One of the things that I am getting tired of hearing is the phrase: “But not all Christians are like that.” Or better yet: “Don’t judge me based on what [the right-wing flavor of the day] said. They are wrong.”

Like: I am a Christian, and I don’t agree with that. There seem to be so many of you.

Trust me when I say that I understand. I do. You know why? Because I used to say things like that myself.

Freedom of Speech
Too Afraid to Speak Up

But you know what I also did? I sat in silence among Christians, politicians and groups who misrepresented the name of Christ. Ultimately, I was a follower. I would rather sit there with my mouth closed than rock the boat against my pastor, Bible study leader, uber conservative friends, or my family. I would say things to others, usually in some sort of anonymity, that I am a Christian and I don’t think that way. I would act all offended, when really, I was too chicken to do anything other than defend myself with those words. Why didn’t I do more? Why did it take my ex coming out of the closet and me becoming the scorn of judgement before I could wake up and say something more than that?

The reason? Fear.

And if you are a Christian, then you know that there is no fear in love. If you are afraid to speak up to someone or about something, then that circle or idea is not loving, in my opinion. Christ is likely being used as a pawn for some sort of unloving justification.

And Christ wouldn’t want to be used in that way, wouldn’t you agree? (If you don’t agree, I am okay with that. I am going to love you anyway, and speak up anyway.)

I say all of the previous to challenge you. If you get it, if you don’t want to be associated with extremism, if you surround yourself with others who want to speak out but don’t, then I say boldly: you are part of the problem.

Silence is sometimes called for. The adage “Nothing says screw you better than nothing at all” can speak volumes. But also, at times, if you say nothing at all, you are perpetuating a problem.

Stop doing that, especially if you are afraid to rock the boat. If you are afraid, then maybe that means you should say something. Maybe that’s your conscience or even the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Stop being a follower of men and their ideas. Think for yourself. Towing the line is dangerous, especially with people’s livelihood.

For instance, legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people.

If you get offended when people post things against laws that seek to keep LGBTQ people from having basic secular freedoms, like marriage equality, then take it as a clue that others see Christ followers as bigoted. I don’t for a second believe that myself, but you should care that others do feel that way. Isn’t how the world views Christ important to you if you are ambassadors of Unconditional Love? If you are willing to see that and admit that it is their truth, don’t just say “I am a Christian and don’t feel that way.” How about you speak out against it instead of defending yourself? Then your words will match your actions.

Take baby steps, if you are too afraid to share your thoughts on social media. Why don’t you start with your church? Those you fellowship with? Your pastors, even? If you are confident in your salvation because of Christ, you should no have fear.

If you cringe at the thought of confronting those around you with civil conversation, then I will be even more bold and say that you really are part of the problem. Starting within the Church is the only way true change is going to come about. People like Dobson and Glenn Beck won’t last as long if they don’t have a following of people who are willing to agree with their ill-advised ideas (like Civil War will happen if Gays are given the right to marry). When these ideas are expressed and leaders in the church or followers of Christ don’t speak out against such nonsense, then their silence equals condoning.

Again, this must start within the Church. So if you find yourself defending Christianity by stating “Don’t lump all Christians under the same umbrella,” then do something more than that. Be proactive. Challenge others to think and not follow.

If you refuse to see the damage being done by a “handful” of people, if you refuse to hear the other side on how that thinking is keeping others from unconditional love, and if you are afraid to speak up toward those who are hurting the cause of Christ…

Then your silence speaks volumes. You are condoning those ideas.

Don’t be the three monkeys. DO something.

Speak up, For Christ’s Sake,

Emily

P.S. A friend of mine had an excellent point: Everyone speaks at a different volume, in different ways, and everyone has their own calling. If your calling isn’t to speak out against injustices toward LGBTQ people, then whatever it is, do so according to your own convictions and gifts. Just…don’t be silent. Don’t cover your eyes. And above all, don’t live in fear.

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It’s Sunday! Wake Up, Church!

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I still love Sundays, even though I cannot step foot in a church, nine years later.

To say that my husband coming out of the closet shook my faith, is an understatement. Looking back, my faith needed to be shaken; but at the time, for a year and a half, I believed with all of my heart that if I prayed enough, read scripture enough, and loved Devon to death, that he would choose my kids and me over his “sin.”

I knew the scriptures inside and out. Devon had been an elder and lay youth pastor, for Pete’s sake. We raised our family “God’s Way” and understood that nothing was impossible with God. So, of course, I relied on that fact when I faithfully proclaimed that this was just a test, and his “same-sex attractions” were temporary and a choice.

But once I had the epiphany that I could not change him, that I could not control him, that I could not manipulate him into staying and I needed to let go for my own physical, mental and spiritual health, I did not realize just how ingrained this idea of homosexuality being a sin is, within the Fundie church body. It actually can cause more hurt and derision for the people who need the church the most.

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My pastors? Their reaction went something like this:

Regardless of what he is doing, you need to do these three things: 1) Get involved with a ‘Life Group’, 2) Strengthen your faith, and 3) Remain faithful so that you won’t be tempted yourself. We have found that the faithful spouse tends to cheat also to get their needs met; you are still married. Don’t forget that.

Then they handed me a cassette series on the “sin” of homosexuality…that I already had in my plethora of resources.

Hmm. Like I didn’t already know or do those things. Like I needed to do anything at all, as though it was in my control. Like I hadn’t already remained faithful to a “T.” Like those tapes were going to bring me comfort and save my marriage.

They kept looking at the clock during our meeting, as though I was bothering them. They prayed for me, handed me the tapes, and pushed me out the door.

I never heard from them again, until Pastor B emailed me and asked for the tapes back. Good thing I didn’t burn them. I would have owed money for the garbage they fed to me that day.

I had a small group of trusted people that I eventually let in, after living in secret about this for many months, as an effort to help me and convince my husband to repent. They were close to us in our other church, served with him on the Elder Board, and loved my family and me. To make a long story short, their hearts were in the right place. They wanted me to save my marriage as much as I did. The men reached out to my husband and tried to meet with him, with very little fruit. (Looking back, I am glad you didn’t, Devon. Even though I am relaying pain here, I am so happy with our story, and I really do love you.) I spilled everything to them, including my own sin and my entire heart.

Then, with the exception of one couple, they chose to use my heart for saving my marriage, against me.

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Once I came to the epiphany that nothing I do can change what has happened, I felt free to let go of our marriage. It was the first time in a year and a half that I slept a full 14 hours. Peace reigned in my heart, and I knew I could move on.

But two out of the three couples did not agree. Essentially, their reaction can be summed up like this:

We believe him when he says he hasn’t cheated on you. It doesn’t seem like you want to save your marriage. You have no grounds for a Biblical divorce; perhaps you just want to go out and ‘sin’ yourself.

I became the scapegoat. Instead of facing the fact they they were wrong, and maybe even their paradigm about homosexuality and what God can and cannot do was wrong, they blamed me.

Way to go, Unconditional Love! Way to be a witness, Believers, of how to win hearts and minds!

I then had a flood of hypocrisy that I had to face. I would have likely said, done and thought just like them, until the coin was flipped. I became the scorn of judgement, and since then I have learned that Unconditional Love, by definition, does not place burdens on another person. “Speaking the truth in love” coupled with judgement does not work. It drives a wedge.

What I find most interesting, is that even though people (especially the four who made me the scapegoat) know that my ex is now married to the man they claimed he wasn’t cheating on me with, I have yet to receive an apology from them. I found that sometimes I need to forgive over and over again the hurtful words that were spoken to me, and it is especially tough to forgive people who haven’t admitted the hurt they doled out, nor asked for forgiveness.

They were wrong and judgmental and downright mean at the flip of a switch, even if they felt they were “speaking the truth in love,” to a woman of God who was experiencing the worst pain of her life. I have often toyed with the idea that I should confront them, but to what avail? Telling someone they need to ask you to forgive them does not create sincerity and humility. The only person I can control is myself, and that is hard enough. I have to forgive myself, sometimes daily, for bitterness and for words spoken judgingly toward homosexuals, which exacerbated my husband not being honest and hiding his struggles from me.

Obviously, today, I wouldn’t change a thing. I was able to forgive Devon, change my heart, see the truth about Unconditional Love, and realize the error of thinking regarding “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I love myself, my life, my core, Devon, Felipe, and my new and unique Rainbow Family. All of the stuff in my past is just a tool to use to offer encouragement and empathy to others.

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The purpose behind sharing this isn’t to bitch and complain and remain bitter. Actually, the purpose is twofold: 1) to share my experience so others know they aren’t alone, and 2) to help people in the Church to realize that there is an extreme need to offer resources for the straight spouse in a situation where their LGBT marriage partner comes out of the closet.

I certainly do not want to overshadow the LGBT person’s need for help, too. But through my experience, and knowing hundreds of straight spouses in this situation, there is a dire need for clergy and believers to offer true empathy and support for the straight spouse.

I am so thankful to the author of the article link below. In it, she shares her experience with the Church and makes an excellent case for a better understanding from them toward spouses like us. Don’t tell us that if we do this or that, or pray more, or read scripture more, or have caution in not having an affair ourselves, we will see the results we long for. If there is nothing we can “do” to be saved except to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, how could we possibly do anything to make our marriage stay intact?  Just give us love. Give us the support we need by pointing us in the direction of others who have been in a MOM before us. Don’t place burdens on us.

That’s not Jesus’ way.

Here is the article referred to above. It was spot on. Click here: Dear Church Leaders. If you are reading this as a pastor or Christian, the Straight Spouse Network, as well as Canyonwalker Connections, are just two of a handful of resources I can recommend.

Blessings on This Blessed Sunday Morning,
Emily F. Reese

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A New Hope

It’s Sunday.  I have taken an unusual break from sitting on my front porch this weekend (a.k.a. The Coolest Porch in Reno… where a huge bear decided to take an evening jog by my house last week.  Let me tell you, it was freaky.). I am in South San Francisco for a much needed sabbatical from my busy life of raising my Three Little Birds and teaching other people’s kids.

That bear who ran by my porch scared the poo-poo out of me!  And yet... I stayed on the porch.  I'm analyzing why, still.
That bear who ran by my porch scared the poo-poo out of me! And yet… I stayed on the porch. I’m analyzing why, still. Any ideas?

As I write this, I am enjoying today’s unique sunrise from The Coolest Porch in San Fran.  I can see the bay and city from here and am wowed at the complexity of creativity and ingenuity of the humans that God created.  I mean, look at this place!  Not only did God allow for such a beautiful coastal area, but the Creator endowed us with the ability to come up with major technology and expansion prowess (even if some people may consider that a bad thing).  To piggy back on that thought, I am sitting here being able to write all of my thoughts in my head down into a computer connected to the world for anyone to read who feels inclined to simply “click” on my link.  Wow!  We are pretty amazing and intelligent people to have such a thing.

I love Sundays when I take the time to truly worship the Maker.  Life is so good!

If you want to get a copy of this book, you can do it at this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Bridgeless-Canyon-Kathy-Baldock/dp/1619200287/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414874423&sr=8-1&keywords=kathy+baldock
Yes, I know this woman. Do you want MY autograph? For a small fee, of course (-:

I finally have the time to read the book that my good friend Kathy Baldock of Canyonwalker Connections recently published.  It’s good.  I mean, REALLY good.  What was supposed to be somewhat of a memoir when she first started tackling the topic of LGBT inclusion in the Christian church, turned into a lengthy research project that spans time.  It is insightful and in my humble opinion, an excellent piece of literature to be able to give to Christians and non-Christians alike.  It gives history, testimony and examples of God’s work in all people, including the LGBT community.

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And yes, my story is also included on page 326 in the chapter section about Mixed Orientation Marriages.  Some of the people I have had the pleasure of being introduced to (Chet, Lynn, Jerry, Mark and Cheri) are also included in that chapter, and their stories lend insight to affirming and non-affirming Christians as to changes the Church needs to make in handling families in their congregations when a spouse comes out of the closet.

There needs to be change. End of story.

I have never met an individual who has gone through the tumultuous time of a spouse coming out of the closet whose church and leaders handled the situation lovingly and with compassion.  And if yours did, PLEASE contact me.  I need to know your story.  We need some added hope here on this site regarding how churches handle our unusual situation!

Whoa.  That's a lot of letters!
Whoa. That’s a lot of letters!

It’s all about relationship building, when it comes to the Church and Christians finding a way to understand the LGBT community. If you’re new to this site and have recently found out that your spouse is gay or bi or whatever other letter represents your spouse, please know that you can find positivity here.  I understand if you are in the position I was in, nearly 10 years ago, finding out your spouse, Christian or not, is gay.

It simply sucks, to put it mildly.  There’s no other way around it.

And now what you have to go through, from this moment on, really sucks.  The only hope you can cling to is that if you keep moving forward in your unique situation, you are not alone.  You can also begin to hope that you will make it through this, however long it takes, by relying on stories and encouragement from others.  But you have to keep moving forward, trusting that you will turn out to be a more complete and whole person than you are now.  Because if you don’t cling to that, then you might be a miserable person in the end.  And no one wants that.

Be hurt.  Be angry.  Be bitter, even.  But move forward with all of the strength you can muster, even if you take 17 steps back.  You have to want to get through it to the other side, whatever that may look like for you, in order to get there.  And along the way, know that you are loved by many, especially the ones who have been through it before.

I guess this is ONE way to remember the Serenity Prayer.  Or, you could just get a plaque.  That would work, too...
I guess this is ONE way to remember the Serenity Prayer. Or, you could just get a plaque. That would work, too…

And if you are not a person of faith, you will get zero judgement from me.  If you are a person of faith, memorize the Serenity Prayer, stat.  Repeat it like a mantra, because the only thing you want is peace (serenity), and the only way you’re going to get there is to accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and understand the difference between the two.

I wrote a little piece about this prayer awhile back, and if you would like to read it, click here.

Love me some Star Wars... and some hope.
Love me some Star Wars… and some hope.

On a related note, there were some interesting things that happened this last week during one of the nation’s largest denominational get together conferences, the SBC.

Thank you, Kathy Baldock, Matthew Vines, Robin Lunn and Jeff Hood (and all you other warriors) who attended the SBC Conference this last week.  Your mission was to build relationships, and it looks like that’s what happened.  For those of us who have been hurt by the Church in some way because of the MOM that we didn’t ask for, your efforts to find a bridge between our stories and the Church is appreciated.

Here is an article posted in the Baptist News Global that mentions all of us straight and gay spouses who needed some bridge building between our faith and our situations, but didn’t receive it.  There is hope for us straight spouses of faith, and I am thankful these people are taking our issues to the front lines.

Emotions Mixed for Pro-Gay ERLC Conference Attendees

Life is wonderful, God is good, and there is no fear in love.  Find hope, find it somewhere, and cling to it.

Happy Sunday from The Coolest Porch in San Fran,

Emily

P.S.  If you want to purchase a copy of Kathy’s book, you can do so here.  Much love to you, my dear friend.  Our meeting was divinely inspired.

Foot-In-Mouth-Disease and Letters In Red on Sunday

Pedestals:  No Bueno.
Pedestals: No Bueno.

Lest anyone forget, I have been where a vast majority of mainstream and Fundamentalist Christians have been with nearly every contentious issue and litmus test for being a “true” Christian.  This is especially true for the topic of Homosexuality.

This thinking/belief boils down to this:  You cannot be gay and a Christian.  If you are gay, you cannot “practice” homosexuality.  So, your options are:  1)  Live a life of celibacy (which is a “gift” according to the Scriptures and not something to force on someone), or 2) Get married to someone in a heterosexual marriage (because being gay is a choice and you can change to being a heterosexual)… and a third option during the process of #1 and #2 would be some sort of ex-gay therapy.  (Now, if you don’t believe the horror stories about those kinds of therapy, then you haven’t been willing to look into it.  Hit me up.  I can give you a plethora of people I know personally who experienced these kinds of interventions.  For every one person it supposedly “worked” for, there were 1,000 others that it didn’t work.  Which is why Exodus International finally had to disband after causing YEARS of harm to the LGBT community.)

One of the things that got me thinking today was this article in the NY Times, Pastor Led Son’s Gay Wedding, Revealing Fault Line in Church.  It’s well written and thought provoking about how the traditional and fundamentalist church treats its pastors and the LGBT community.  It made me think about how I would have reacted at one point in my life, before Devon’s Big Reveal.

Other people have the answers for gay people who are struggling with not wanting to be gay, wanting to have a relationship with God, and not wanting to hurt those they love.  It’s quite a pickle for the LGBT person to be in, to put it mildly.

I had the answers.  You bet I did.  And I was able to let them roll off my tongue as though I had the gift of prophecy.

This pic is awesome.  I love stuff that looks like kids made it.
This pic is awesome. I love stuff that looks like kids made it.

So, obviously, when Devon came out to me, I fell pretty hard from my pedestal.  I’m glad I did.  I wouldn’t change a thing… NOW.  But I sure tried to change things, especially that first year and a half.  I had people who loved me and supported my views that homosexuality was a sin and a choice.  I began to think a little differently as time moved forward, but not enough to question my beliefs regarding homosexuality.  It came down to me wanting Devon to remain my husband.  The very last thing I ever wanted was a divorce.  Heck, I was even willing to remain married to him if we never had sex again… as long as we were together and he did not seek a relationship or sex outside of our marriage.

I have shared a few stories on this blog and our earlier one (SameSides: Amicable Divorce)  that were words and attitudes I had which hurt Devon and all LGBT people, without me intending to be that way.  This was because of my worldview regarding homosexuality and Christianity.  I justified my judgement as “truth in love” when truly, at its essence, it was judgement.  To the well-meaning groups of ladies that I had the privilege of knowing through BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) during that year and a half in my life, I am very thankful that we weren’t allowed to get too personal in sharing prayer requests.  I couldn’t ask for Devon to choose to be straight or come back home to us during prayer time because that was a boundary BSF implemented, which kept a lot of gossip from spreading (prayer circles are experts at crossing gossip lines).

But the times where homosexuality was brought up through our readings or discussions, hurtful things were said that cut me to the quick and made me bleed inside.  I learned very early on how much I had hurt Devon and others through my prideful “wisdom” before Devon coming out of the closet by hearing words from other ladies lips that were the exact things I used to say and think.

This is what I call Foot-In-Mouth-Disease.  All of us are prone to it, regardless of our beliefs, love, or intentions.  I have accepted this about myself and feel qualified to see both sides of the divide regarding homosexuality and judgmental thinking.

I have no idea who "Gob" is, but this album cover is perfect!
I have no idea who “Gob” is, but this album cover is perfect!

Which is why I feel the need, especially lately, to simply go for it and call hypocrisy and judgement from Church dogma out in public ways.  Sometimes I do this with anger, other times I have done it with gentleness, and a few times I have lost friends over it.  I am learning how to balance love with truth, anger with empathy, and honesty with compassion.  I don’t hit the mark very often, but I’m trying.  I am thankful to those of you who don’t agree with me on things but stick around anyway.  It gives me hope that we can all help make this world a better place for everyone.

So on this Sunday, while many Christians are in church, I still don’t feel comfortable walking into one.  Someday I might, but today I will praise The Maker, The Universe, God… from the comfort of my computer at Devon and Felipe’s house while I recover from my last round of chemo.  The people and space that represent God’s unconditional love are right here, under The Reeses and Their Pieces Headquarters, where we can be together in peace, love, acceptance of differences and in fellowship with each other, building each other up and reflecting a little bit of The Letters in Red that are so precious to me these days.

Jesus did things right.  He kept his cool.  He didn’t suffer from Foot-In-Mouth-Disease.  Ever.  So I will look to him before I look to anyone or anything else as my example of how to live and love.  I am grateful for getting to a place of desiring to balance Faith with the realities of my life.  I’m doing that with the very thing that my dad always said to us growing up:  “Look to the Letters in Red.”

And if you aren’t religious, you won’t get judgement from me.  I am thankful I have the background I have because I get it when words are spoken in judgement, which are masked as “truth in love.”  Is there such a thing as “truth in love?”  Sure.  But if it doesn’t match with the Letters in Red, then you should be thinking twice before speaking them.

Happy Sunday to all people.  Unconditional love is the bomb, and without me knowing that I suffered from Foot-In-Mouth-Disease, I would have never gotten to this place of remembering the best advice from my pops:  Look to the Letters in Red.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Chemo-Done-And-Foot-Out-Of-Mouth-For-The-Moment Gal

Foot-in-Mouth Disease visits me often.  I think it is a virus possibly.  Wish there were an immunization for it.
Foot-in-Mouth Disease visits me often. I think it is a virus possibly. Wish there were an immunization for it.