Monthly Archives: September 2012

Christianity & The Gay Marriage Issue, part 2

I got an interesting comment from Darel on my post about why I support gay marriage even though I’m a Christian.

I agree with you that Christians should not show bias to certain sins over others. It’s also true that if we are to ban Gay lifestyle and marriages, then we should ban a whole lot of other actions, such as worshipping other gods, which includes Islam, as it’s considered sin as well. But we contend the latter is extreme. However, the government should not seek endorsement of Christians on matters that definitely conflict with their faith, such as seeking a stamp of approval on Homosexuality. Furthermore, care should be taken to ensure that Christians can still publicly claim homosexuality as sin, and offer help to those that seek it, as well as other mobilize campaigns in a non-offensive manner.

It’s interesting that Darel noted that “the government should not seek endorsement of Christians on matters that conflict with their faith, such as seeking the stamp of approval on Homosexuality.

See, many Christians (including my own father) believe allowing gay marriage is cosigning homosexuality, and that if we legally allow gay couples to get married, then we are in essence saying homosexuality is ok.  Furthermore, many Christians expand on this idea, and say that “allowing” this type of sinful behavior in our country creates a culture in which sin is tolerated rather than condemned.

However, making something allowable by law does not necessarily mean one agrees with it from an ethical, moral, and/or religious standpoint.  To use Darel’s example, he conceded that “worshipping other gods, which includes Islam, is considered sin as well…but we contend [banning Islam and other religions] is extreme.”  (Side note:  Technically one could argue Islam doesn’t worship “another God” as Darel contends.  Abraham, father of the Jewish and Christian faith through his son Isaac, is also father of the Muslim faith through his son Ishmael, who was technically born before Isaac but outside of wedlock.  Therefore one could argue that if Abraham is the father of both Judaism/Christianity and Islam, than Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all worship the same God [at least originally].  However, even though we worship the same God, the path to salvation and atonement differs with each religion.  But I digress…)

So like I was saying, Darel agrees that we can’t ban other religions and worshipping other gods because that would be extreme.  But, to expand on Darel’s example, what if we made it illegal to build Islamic mosques in America?  Or what if the government prevented Islamic groups from obtaining the proper building and occupancy permits to use a structure strictly because the building was to be used for a mosque (which actually happened in Tennessee)?  If we allowed this to happen, technically we aren’t making the practice of Islam illegal, but we are preventing the practice of Islam through the law.

Unless you’re an ultra-right wing radical, most rational Christians would admit that restricting the building of mosques is fundamentally against our Constitutional First Amendment rights (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof“)  Allowing gay marriage from a legal standpoint is like allowing Muslims to build mosques.  Just because, as a Christian, you are ok with Muslims building mosques doesn’t mean you’re cosigning Islam.  The same logic should follow, then, that even though a Christian is ok with gay marriage, that doesn’t necessarily mean that person is cosigning homosexuality and giving it a “stamp of approval”.

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Priorities, Part 2

I am surprised and blessed by the reaction garnered by my last post.  I wasn’t expecting it to resonate with people the way it did, and it’s just a testament to how God is working in my life.

Thus I felt compelled once more to go deeper into the circumstances that caused me to lose faith in the first place, and what caused me to turn back to God, to put things in better context.  There are some things I left out in the last post in order to make things concise, and it’s easy to oversimplify my situation by saying I was struggling through a breakup so I started praying more since I was lonely, and now I feel better.  It goes deeper than that.

Going back to when I was in college, I’ve been pretty fortunate in regards to my job opportunities.  After my first internship I got a job offer, then while I was working I survived the rounds of layoffs at the consulting firm I was at, then I got a new job that paid better, so on and so forth.  My parents would tell me that God was truly blessing me.  But the whole time God was just an afterthought for me.  During college I barely went to church, a trend that continued for most of my life after graduation until recently.  Nothing in my daily life was centered around God.  Nevertheless, I still felt like I was on a path to eventual “success”,  and when I looked around I would see other people doing big things without God’s help.  So over time I started to formulate that my success did not have to come from God.  The more I was able to “succeed” without him, and the more I saw other people “succeed” without him, the more I started to doubt his impact and existence altogether.

Then last year I decided to hop out the Matrix and open The Class Room.  Opening a boutique was always a big life goal of mine, and the fact that I was able to do it without seeking God’s help was further evidence against his existence.  I didn’t need a god, I just needed my business partners and hard work.

Long story short, I felt I had accomplished much and was on the path to accomplishing so much more without the help of a god, therefore he probably wasn’t real.  With the foundation of my faith already shook, add on all the family issues that’s been going on this past year, and it reinforced the thought in my head that God was not in control, and the universe is just a mysterious place that works at random.

It is at this junction we arrive at my turning point.  I had almost given up on the thought of God altogether, and it got to the point where when I did go to church the sermons started sounding like a bunch of hodge-podge for people who didn’t believe in making stuff happen for themselves.  But everything else I was trying in life wasn’t working.  I don’t think I was ever depressed or anything, I just felt so unfulfilled by the temporary solutions I was indulging myself in.  So, even though there was still doubt in my heart, I started to seek God.

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. – Deuteronomy 4:29 English Standard Version

See, I still had doubts, but once I took that first step forward, God started to reveal himself.  And like I said before, I started to find peace.

What’s more, I’m beginning to understand why God allowed me to “succeed” even though my heart wasn’t in the right place.  So many people have commended me on following my passion to open the store.  Those who’ve seen my different hustles have said, “Cabby, I respect what you’re doing.”  The point is, because of the store and my different hustles, I have an audience now.   I’m not trying to brag and say I’m a hero to a lot of people, but it would be foolish to deny that people aren’t watching what I’m doing, and how I live my life.  He allowed my success, and I’m discovering my purpose is to use the platform he’s given me for his glory, and help people find their way.  God’s perfect plan, indeed.

…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.  – Luke 12:48

Priorities

2012 has been a very trying year for me.  This past year I lost my godfather to cancer, 3 weeks later I lost my grandmother, I have another aunt that’s been diagnosed with cancer, my mom found a tumor in her breast (thankfully it was benign, but this was the second growth she’s found in less than 10 years), I have yet another aunt who just had an aneurysm in her neck which will require surgery, and my younger cousin just got sentenced to 5 years for violating his probation.  Add to that being a new business owner while working late nights at the bar just to barely make enough money to cover rent and bills.

Despite all of this going on, I was barely phased.  Except for when my girlfriend broke up with me.  That break up MESSED. ME. UP.  Anyone close to me will tell you they have NEVER seen me so DAMN SAD.  It’s something I still struggle with at times.

As fate would have it, 2012 has also been the furthest I’ve been from God.  Sure, when I as at my godfather’s and grandmother’s funerals at the beginning of the year, my heart may have had a mini-revival.  But since then I had returned to my old ways, living however I wanted.  What’s worse is I started to doubt God’s existence.  I would look at my family’s problems, and wonder how all this could fit into a loving God’s plan.  No matter how strong my family’s faith was, no matter how much we prayed, the outcome always seemed “random”.  We prayed for my uncle, but he lost his battle with cancer.  We pray for my mom, and her tumor is benign.  We pray for my aunt with cancer, and her health is still iffy.  My other aunt is a humble, God-fearing woman, but she gets hit with an aneurysm out of nowhere.  How can God have a “perfect plan” when everything seems so sporadic and random.

With this doubt in my heart, I would look at other people and see their happiness (mostly from Facebook updates).  Non-Christians living life, and being happy.  New jobs, new relationships, new marriages, new kids, traveling to new cities, new cars, new homes…and everybody seemed happy.  Happiness seemed obtainable without God, we just had to go out and get it.

So with this in my heart I continued to live my way, indulging in whatever I saw fit.  Everybody else seemed to be doing whatever they wanted with no repercussions from a “so-called God,” so why shouldn’t I do whatever I wanted while I was alive?  #YOLO, right?

Except I’ve never felt so empty.  There has been a nagging in my heart that has been growing the more I try to ignore it.  Maybe non-Christians can be happy without God, but as one of his chosen children, I can’t ignore him forever.  For so long I’ve been putting my faith in other things, hoping eventually things would work out in the end.  I’ve put my faith in my career and my store, hoping once I started to make money everything would be ok.  Before we broke up I put my faith in my relationship and my ex-girlfriend, believing I had finally found love after so many years of disappointing relationships.  Since the breakup I’ve consumed myself with work and trying to find another girlfriend, hoping to take my mind off of missing the ex.

Nothing’s been working though.  At some point I had to take a deep look in my heart, and ask myself, “Do I really believe God doesn’t exist anymore?  Do I really believe I can do this on my own?”

And finally I gave in.  I’ve been praying that God reveal himself to me.  I’ve seeked him in reading his Word.  I’ve confessed my shortcomings in placing my will over his.

And recently, I’ve had a peace in my heart I haven’t had in a very long time.

The problems haven’t gone away.  My family still has health issues, my cousin is still locked up, I’m still broke, and I still miss my ex.  But there is peace. It’s like the Holy Spirit has wrapped his arms around me and said, “Yo…you know I got you, right?  I am ALL that you need.”

God has to be my priority.  He has to be #1.  “Our God is a jealous God,” and “You cannot serve two masters.”  So on and so forth – I’ve heard it so many times in so many sermons.  But I am experiencing it now in my life.  

And so here I am, sharing my testimony because I felt compelled to do so.  It’s for me as much as it is for anyone else out there.  In the same way I wrote the “Hop Out the Matrix” post to hold myself accountable for sticking to the plan, I am writing this to hold myself accountable for this change of heart.  Countless times I’ve rededicated myself to God, and so many times I’ve returned to a worldly lifestyle.  I pray this won’t happen again.  And the fact that I’m going through this struggle once more lets me know God hasn’t given up on me yet.

He told them this parable. “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.  – Luke 15:3-7, World English Bible