Tag Archives: The Kingdom

What Is Love? (Baby, Don’t Hurt Me…)

Easter, Rick and Morty, Warm Bodies, and Asgard.
Just What IS Love, anyway?

Sometimes…what you really need is for someone else to pay a horrible price.

The clip above is from a Rick and Morty episode where Summer works for an independent business owner, at what is basically a vintage thrift store, “selling” items that grant the purchaser their deepest desires, while also cursing them. Needful Things.
Oh, and the shop owner is the Devil.
The idea is that Mr. Needful (the Devil) gives you what you truly want (or maybe…what you think you truly want), but makes you pay a horrible price for it.

The store’s only function and purpose is to curse people. And Summer, all the while aware of what’s truly going on and who Mr. Needful, her employer, truly is, is fine with it. Because, according to her logic, “Fast Food gives people diabetes and clothing stores have sweat shops. Is there a company hiring teenagers that isn’t evil? This is my first job and you’ve been nice to me. You respect me.

Well at the end of the episode, Summer discovers she’s just another con, and the Devil really doesn’t care about her. So feeling used, angry, hurt, sad, taken advantage of, and with no way of getting back at the one who hurt inflicted all this upon her, she turns to her grandpa Rick for help.
And do what it takes to physically punish the one who has it coming to them.

And then others.

“Because sometimes…what you really need is for someone else to pay a horrible price.”

Now you might’ve been a little incensed at the language or steroid use-the content, but admit it: Didn’t part of you relish in the physical pummeling of those who “have it coming”?

Don’t you wish defeating your enemies could be a task so easy as beating them up?

Don’t you wish those enemies could suffer? Don’t you wish those that deserve it, could suffer?
Even just a little bit?

Well anyway, it’s Easter. And last time I wrote about a spiritual holiday, it ultimately posed the question, “What do we do when we don’t know the end of the story?” When all we have is the beginning—the unknown.
When all we have is new life.
And Easter kinda has that air of the end of life. Or…at least when you continue that theme of not knowing or understanding the whole story. The end of all you knew. All you hoped for.
The death of dreams.
The death of hope.
The death of connection.

The death of life.

And it’s a funny year, this year, to talk about death like this, because of all that’s going on in the world.
It kinda feels like death is all around us. Knocking at our door. And all we have been doing is walling ourselves off to the inevitable. Death.

We fight. We hate. We fear.
And we struggle. Struggle to survive. And hold on to any bit of power and control that we can.
All in a bid to stave off death for that much longer.

It really is like being in the start of one of those apocalypse films.

All of them have similar themes: a fight for survival, warding off death, and extreme “othering.”
I have to admit, I love a lot of those films. Be they post-apocalypse, like Mad Max: Fury Road, or vampire apocalypse, like Daybreakers, or zombie apocalypse, like Warm Bodies.
In fact, those are actually my three favorite for each category (let alone in general).

For those that don’t know, Warm Bodies is like a zombie apocalypse Romeo and Juliet story. In fact, the protagonist of the film is a zombie named “R”, because he doesn’t remember his name, who falls in love with one of the living named, “Julie.” (See how close they’re riffing?)

But Warm Bodies isn’t like other zombie films. Sure, zombies pose a threat, they are the undead, and they feast on the brains of the living. But in Warm Bodies, zombies seem to be a metaphor for how society already is. Factioned. Divided.
Othered.
And with many now who already go through life like the living dead.

In Warm Bodies, zombies exist in this limbo state. Undead, but not yet all gone. You see, it seems the only fate for the undead in Warm Bodies is to become “bonies.” When they give up. And lose all hope.
Apollumi

But there’s another reason Warm Bodies is a different type of zombie film. You see, in Warm Bodies, the undead can come alive. Or rather, the living dead, become the living life. More alive than those that aren’t zombies in the first place.
In Warm Bodies, the dead come back to life. And not in the “Night of the Living Dead” sense, where the dead come back as undead.
No.
In Warm Bodies, the zombies hearts start beating once again. They’re…born again. So to speak.

And the old paradigms that had sustained society: walled off cities, social division, fighting to survive, othering; all of it dies with death.

At the end of the film, R bleeds. And he becomes fully alive. And he isn’t the only one.
The film ends with a summary of what happens in the aftermath. R comments that from one perspective, getting shot in the chest hurts him, like a lot. But ultimately, for him, it felt good to bleed, to feel pain.
To feel love.
To feel.
And for the rest of the zombies, they all learned how to live again. R comments that for a while, it seemed like everyone had forgotten what that meant: to live.
And the cure? The cure to death, to bring life?
Connection.
R goes on to say how scary it was at first, painful even. But that every great thing starts out a little scary, and might even hurt to begin.
The final shot is of the massive dividing wall being destroyed, and collapsing.
No more walls. No more divisions. No more others.
All are one. In a new life. A new world.
A kingdom that’s conquered death.

This is how the world was…exhumed.”

Many see Easter as the beginning of this new world. Or just like how they see Christmas through the lens of Easter, they view Easter through the lens of their dogma about a Second Coming.
A Reckoning.
Justice.

“X gon’ give it to ya!”

And yet…all too often, they miss the bigger meaning.
Sometimes when you stare at something massive, you actually run the risk of oversimplification, and of missing the actual scope of it all. Seeing only half the picture.
And so for Easter, this new life, this new world, has turned into one that is to come. It’s removed, distant. A hope for some kingdom to come. A promise at the end of a long bridge.
A place far away from here, that death seemingly can never get to; never reach, never touch. There are those on the inside, and those on the outside. And each “deserves” what they get. “Those bad people? They had it coming. And now we’re safe away from them, and from death.” It provides comfort. Stability. Perhaps even an assurance that you did right, did good, and that you’re right where you should be. (Maybe that’s why we need others to suffer. It’s easier to see we’re the good guys then…)

But…when faced with the whole picture, well then it very often feels like all hope is dead. Because the place that you hoped in, that you kept thinking was someplace else. Behind walls. Protected. Safe.
Well now it’s threatened.

To discover the whole picture can feel like Death has infiltrated the Kingdom; infested the place. Corroded it.
It may even make you feel powerless.
Broken.

Death is too strong.
And it can make you feel like nothing.

…Maybe the Cross makes you feel that way.

I would imagine it did for those in history, on that day. To see Him up on the Cross, it may have felt like Death itself had taken Heaven and…sundered it in two.

Asgard is not a place, it never was.
It’s a people.
Heaven (or the Kingdom of Heaven) is not a place, it’s a people.
And because it’s not a place, anywhere could be Heaven.
This could be Heaven. This could be the Kingdom.
But it might just take you being broken to see it.
A Kingdom here. Now. A new type of Kingdom.
A Kingdom of Life.
A Kingdom of Love.

It’s not a place. It’s people. And it’s here now. All around you.
Do you witness Heaven? Or do you fear Hell?

You see, it’s not the pain which ruins you, it’s what you do to avoid the pain.
If you’re afraid only of breaking, let yourself be broken.
BREAK.
Let spirit crack you open to discover (living) water springing forth like it did for Moses. Discover yourself being forged.
Transformed.
And discover that living water. Discover life.
Which can only come from the rock (of your hardened heart) being broken, its wall destroyed, collapsing.

I titled this message, “What is Love?” And I have to admit, I’m still trying to sort out a definition that sits well with me. What I can say is that I find myself in agreement with lyricists of the past as to what love is not.
Love is not some victory march.”
It’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

True love is precisely this:
Forsaking the promise of eternity itself for an imperfect individual.

Love is something that breaks you.
But it’s a good break. It breaks you TO LIFE.

Jesus was broken by love.
And I think on a certain level, that is what we really needed: For someone else to pay a horrible price.
Perhaps this time away from each other, isolated and alone, is a lot like being in a tomb. But there’s the other thing Easter promises:
The stone rolls away. Walls fall.
And when that happens in your life, may it lead to so much more.
Instead of looking to break others in the name of “protecting” life, be broken.

Let love break you this Easter Sunday.

Discover life. Feel your heart beat. (Perhaps even for the first time.)

And see how glorious it is to hurt in your chest.
How good it feels to hurt, to be pained, to bleed (into one another, even).
What I mean is, see how good it is to feel love.

 

Ultimately…see how glorious it is, when everything is new.

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Filed under Celebrating, Celebrations, Easter, God stuff, Holiday, Uncategorized

‘Them Gays’ and The Church

UPDATE 2: (7.May.2020)

APPARENTLY there’s been repeated clicks on this post, and I’m doing a disservice to NOT include the actual scriptural foundations for everything. And I’ve actually been including it for my college students every semester, but don’t know why I’ve never gotten around to doing so here.

Anyway. Here we go.
It all began in a fun, lively little Twin City area called Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, the word we often see translated into homosexual is “sodomite.” BUT before we get into that, what was the issue with the town in the story? Were they wicked because of being gay, or because of rape? Is mob violence the same as consensual homosexuality? Can there be same sex rape to which the perpetrator ISN’T gay?

And how would you make sense of Ezekiel 16:53? Which was preceded by verses 49-50, explaining the actual “sin” of Sodom.

Okay, you say, but it CLEARLY says in Leviticus (18:22, 20:13) that you can’t have relations with the same sex.
True. It ALSO says not to shave the sides of your head OR trim your beard. Or get tattoos. (Lev. 19:27, 28)

Why? Well, all of this had to do with the acts of worshiping pagan gods. Idol worship, and this is what temple prostitutes would do. Nations at the time, as an act of worship of their gods would shave the sides of their heads and mark their bodies.

How do we know that when it talks of lying with someone of the same sex it’s talking about temple prostitutes? Well, it’s referenced in 1 Kings 14:24.  “male cult prostitutes” is the rough English translation.
How would they worship pagan gods at the time? Go to the temple and “petition” the god by having sex with one of the temple prostitutes–male or female. You gave the prostitute your…*ahem* “seed”, by giving it to the MALE prostitute, you were then offering it to the god.

IN FACT, the word used for a male temple prostitute was/is SODOMITE. While the female temple prostitute was/is a harlot.
So “Sodomite” never meant homosexual, but a male temple prostitute…one who happened to have sex with both women and men as a means for those coming to worship the pagan gods.

And that was ruled a big NO NO. Probably why we don’t have sex in churches today…
Too much baggage associated with temple prostitutes and sex as a form of worshiping pagan gods…

So “wrongness” isn’t tied with the act of laying with someone of the same sex itself, but with that of idol worship.

Alright. That’s enough OT. Moving on. But what about the mention of Homosexuals in the NT?

Well, the word in the greek is “Arsenokoites.” And it’s only used two times in the whole of the Bible (1 Cor. 6: 9-10, and 1 Tim. 1: 9-10). It references the Hebrew term “Sodomite.”
BUT. Here’s the deal Arsenokoites is a compound word–like Butterfly–and compound words are tricky. Like butterfly, we’re not talking about a fly made of butter, arsenokoites is similar. And since it’s only used twice in the Bible, without any context as to what the word means, we have to look elsewhere.

Arsenokoites is a compound word coming from arsen, and koites.
Arsen= man
Koites= the plural for beds. (It’s where we get our word, “coitus.”)
So arsenokoites is actually “man who has sex in many beds”

But again, given the non-biblical Greek texts which use this word to give it proper context and definition, this wasn’t about homosexuality, but about taking advantage sexually.
This was more about rape.

Arsenokoites was someone who took advantage of someone else sexually.
Who raped.

Well then what about in Romans 1:26– where it talks about natural vs unnatural???

You mean the Greek word, “physis”?
Well, that SAME WORD was also used in Romans 11:24 to talk of God offering salvation to Non-Jews. That’s UNNATURAL!!!

So AGAIN, it can’t be the “unnaturality” that makes it wrong, but the motivations.

Therefore…
That’s a word often used and means we need to look at what came before to give understanding.
Therefore…Romans 1:26 needs to be framed in reference to before. Specifically Romans 1:23.
Which states AGAIN about idolatry. Worshiping pagan gods.

Lusts were SHAMEFUL when they were about indulging in sexual acts in honor and worship of pagan gods.

Sex tended to be tied into the Greco-Roman form of worship (as it did with “pagan” cultures in the OT).

The writer of Romans was addressing an audiences all too familiar with this practice and was drawing a larger point about the sinfulness of pagan worship.

Basically. The gist of all this? PAGAN DEBAUCHERY DOES NOT EQUAL HOMOSEXUALITY.

paul harvey

UPDATE 1: (1.August.2012)

This being one of the top viewed posts on my blog, I felt the need to add a minor blip to it, in order to convey what I believe the Bible is saying about homosexuality. The post itself is a specific response to a specific conversation and–while still worth reading, only conveys a broad picture of what I hold true.

The large scope of the matter, I feel, rests on the word Sodomite.
In the New Testament, the passages concerning homosexuality–and all the times in the various translations the word ‘homosexuality’ is used, the actual word that it’s translated from is ‘Sodomite.’ Sodomite was a term familiar to the Jew, and it’s history does in fact date back to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the story of Lot there.
Yet what is intrinsically tied to this term, Sodomite, has been lost in modernity, lost in translation, and lost in meaning.
You see, Sodomite was a term used to reference male temple prostitutes. Whereas female temple prostitutes were referred to as Harlots, to distinguish a temple prostitute that was male as opposed to one that was female, they referred to them as Sodomites.
As I said, it was indeed coined based on the story of Lot in Sodom, and the gang rape and desire to rape the angels visiting Lot, but I believe that there is an enormous difference between what we call and consider homosexuals today, and what was termed a Sodomite in Scripture.
You see, if we’re referring to Sodomites, we’re not only referring to the male version of a prostitute, but there’s a whole ideology and cultural understanding of specifically ‘Temple’ prostitution that we do not seem to grasp.
Temple prostitutes were known for vile sexual acts, what we would deem presently/modernly as ‘Sexual Deviancy.’

There is no love represented in Temple Prostitution. It is vile sexual action in the mindset of ‘worship’ of false deities.
Now, we know according to John’s letters (1st John) that God is LOVE, and where the Spirit of God is, there is Freedom.
When Paul was writing about Sodomites in the New Testament, he was referencing the Greek and Roman community present in his time, and noting to his followers, to the churches he was writing to, not to become embedded in that culture. The gratuitous sexuality for the sake of itself and pleasure what was what Paul was warning against.
For in it, there is no love, and without love, there is no freedom.

So I ask, if Paul was really warning about ‘giving in to our sexual desires,’ our lusts, no matter what they are, was he warning against homosexuality, or against actions that contain no love, and therefore, no freedom, and thus, are binding, addicting, enslaving?

While I will state that the “Gay Pride” movement–especially men in it, has the strong appearance of what can only now be described as ‘Temple Prostitute’ ideology–flagrant sexual acts for the sake of the acts themselves, the friends I have in the GLBT community can only be considered as seeking love.

So how then, can those that seek love, even if it is in a way which runs contrary to what and how we consider to be the ‘natural order of things,’ be faulted as not loved by God as they are, for who they are?

Even still, the crazy thing about God is that he not only is Love, but He seeks out the lost and the low–the prostitutes. He even commanded one of His prophets to marry a Harlot so for Hosea (the prophet) to better understand God’s relationship and abounding, unrelenting love for us.

As such, I will forever hold that God is love, and where love is, God is.
Yet the funny thing about scripture, is that it cleaves us, like we were two people, not one. The very passage that says, “but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us,” and “we love because He first loved us,” goes on to say that “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

Part of me thinks, “Alright, God lives in me, and His love is made complete in me, cause I have loved.”
And then part of me thinks, “Crap, there are people I struggle with loving, and if I can’t say I love them while saying that I love God, not only am I a liar, but I don’t truly love God.”

See?
Two people. One of me loves, yet one of me doesn’t.
The good news is that that one that doesn’t will one day be cut from me and thrown into the fire forever, while the one that loves will live on IN LOVE, to Love, forever and ever.
And I hold this to be true of EVERYONE, regardless of gender, orientation, or sexual preference.

~And the world will be better for this.

ORIGINAL POST: (Written 10.June.2011)

In recent conversations with some online friends, I really felt the need to express my thoughts/heart on homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ community.

Here we go:

I think too often we take the story of the horrific sexuality that happened in Sodom and Gomorrah, combine it with Romans 1, where it says “God gave them over to their shameful lusts” and then make some sort of theological doctrinal dogma…stuff about homosexuality. Without covering terrible English translating (the actual translation of Romans 1 would read something more like “God let them have their dishonorable sufferings,” note, sufferings, which is a more broad category that somehow–translation wise, the “Church” has attributed to homosexuals only.), let’s just take it as is for argument’s sake.

Firstly, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways.”God
If we are to know him, we are to know his Son. Who…as it turns out, was significantly silent on the subject of homosexuality. What He was loud and proud about was love. Love to such a degree that those who may be our “enemies” are who we are supposed to love, which will then make us perfect, as the Father is perfect. Love to such a degree that the last and the least were made first, and the first (Jesus), was made last for such a feat. But herein lies the problem. Modern Evangelicalism claims to be followers of Christ—to be Christians, but we’ve got an awful lot of Darwinism (the philosophy, not the science) in our doctrine.
We (I’ll lump myself in even though I’m ashamed of it) by our actions seem to say, “God came to save the world, yeah, but there are those of us who are winners, and those who are losers.” Sounds a lot like the Christian version of “survival of the fittest” to me. So…why does that need for a loser rear its ugly head in a religion whose King became the very last and least, the loser, so that we all could win?* (Insert obligatory Rob Bell reference that “Love Wins.” God wins in the End)

Why do we need to have villains, losers? Gays. Muslims. Mormons. Obama. The people that shop at Wal-Mart. Osama. Harold Camping.
Why?
So that we can know we are right? How is that Christianity? When our God became the scapegoat, so that all of us losers (that’s right, we all are; maybe in a later post I’ll tell you why I am) could win?
Mull on that for a bit and I’ll continue with point number B.

Number 2: “for they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” Pretty sure that’s what Paul was getting at in that Romans 1 passage. The byproduct of that was everything else which follows in the passage. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just “the gays” that “exchanged the truth of God for a lie,” but all humanity at one time or another.
You. Me. Everyone.

So…God consigned us to a destruction of the body…in any and every perverse way we ourselves had the freedom to think of. Cause after all, what is shameful lusts but sin? And what is sin? Paul goes on to call it lawlessness. And what does the bible say is the law? Pretty sure it says it’s summed up in this: love.
So…sin is lovelessness…which is essentially selfishness.
And that looks an awful lot like all of humanity, not one single group.

So how does all that seem to translate to what the notion now seems to be: “God has made some sort of more shameful sin that looks like people are born with it, and I guess I just don’t know ‘cause it’s so damn confusing.”

Now we come to some of the more “liberal” Christian views. Some say, “hey, you know what, this whole homosexual thing is just your sin nature. And as such—while I myself can’t seem to work out an “abstinence from sin” program for my sin, we’re gonna tell you that all you have to do to be a Christian and serve God is to abstain from being Gay. Just…stay single, and…don’t rock the boat. And we’ll love you as a single person in the church struggling with an addictive sin just like we do alcoholic Christians and the like. Because quite frankly, when it boils down to it, we can’t fathom a God who might create someone to be something like a homosexual and yet still desire Christ.”
I think it’s easier to just lump it in with “other sins” because of not understanding it. “You’re not really Gay, you’re just a sinner. And when we get to heaven, you’ll see. Just as when you become a Christian you get a new heart and a new spirit, someday when we get to heaven, you’ll get a new body. And that’ll be a non-gay body. So…YAY GOD!”
Sorry, but I just don’t think it’s too clear on whether that entails gays getting a brand spanking new non-gay body. In fact, it really is rather vague on that. It says the sin, the lawlessness—which is lovelessness will be gone; that it will be burned away. But as for whether that entails homosexuality…not so clearly defined…
Who knows what heaven is gonna be like? Maybe it will entail the freedom and ability to share yours, your neighbor’s, my neighbor’s, and anyone else we(I) come into contact with’s ecstasy and joy. Pure, unadulterated, heavenly joy, with no heterosexual/homosexual labels coined and pertaining. That deserves to be said again… WITH NO HETEROSEXUAL AND HOMOSEXUAL LABELS COINED OR PERTAINING.
I think when we get to heaven the only sexuality that is going to exist is…heavenosexuality.(just made that up on the fly, copyright, gotta give me mad proppas if you wanna use it.)
What I’m saying is this: doesn’t it kinda make more sense that just as when we are in Heaven there will be “people from every tribe, nation, race, and people group,” yet our focus will not be on those defining traits, but on the fact that truly, we are of one nation—that of Zion; wouldn’t it make sense that maybe there won’t be any “earthly” defined sexuality? That we will all share in each others joys and praises and heavenly ecstasy?

Thus, we will all be heavensexuals.

It’s here I feel like I need to clarify on the point of Gender vs. Sexuality. I believe they are two differing aspects. In that, I don’t think gender necessarily garnishes sexuality, nor sexuality, gender. Now I know that that has seemed to become perverted in our state and time, that there seems to have been a rickety bridge constructed between gender and sexuality, but I think its false. So when I talk of Heaven, understand that I do not mean we will give up our gender—that there will be no male or no female, but just as everything, it may not matter once we’re there. . I don’t know how that’ll look. I mean, Lewis gets into some pretty crazy descriptions of such in Perelandra–that of gender and male/female debate, and he is able to word it much more eloquently than I find myself able to, so I’m just going to point people that way, to that book if they want to see a great description of Gender and the whole “male/female” shtick.

For now, I rest with this: we are all family. Sons and daughters of a Father we may not fully know or understand, but a day will come when we know just as we are known. Until then, we are called to Love God, and Love each other. IN that makes the kingdom now, if we so choose to see it. But as for me, if anyone (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Muslim, Obama, Wal-Mart shoppers, etc) can see who Jesus really is, and love Him—or at least allow themselves to be loved by Him, if anyone sides on the side of love and compassion, knowing love kisses everyone, you’re welcome to do so in my church, standing next to me.

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