2 nonnegotiables and a but! Adventures in eHarmony

2 nonnegotiables and a but! What a fun title, eh?

Well as I re-re-renter the dating world (look at me, I’m on EHarmony!) I have self-examined myself as to my nonnegotionables, and here goes something…

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My first nonnegotiable is that I cannot for the life of me see myself in a relationship with someone who has a firm “I think / I believe” worldview when it comes to matters of an afterlife hell, the devil, demons, and everything in between. It seems to me that when people start telling people they’re going to hell or a particular type of people are going to hell, they’re claiming the moral high ground, that they and their tribe alone are possessors of this capital T Truth.
Furthermore it seems that these same individuals say it matter-of-factly, and that strikes me as very disturbing. It also smatters of elitism, that “we” are in while “you” are out, and this out has implications that are long lasting. I have included “what are your thoughts about God, Heaven, The Devil, Hell?” in my dig deeper questions as a result.

My second nonnegotiable is that I want to find an individual whom is an ally of the LGBTQ Community. The thing is, I am, it’s what God has put on my heart and mind, and I am outspoken about the rights of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, it is a part of me. With that being said, I want to continue in this with a my significant other and to be with someone who doesn’t want to or is opposed to the idea isn’t someone I want to be with. It’s why “what are your thoughts of the LGBTQ community?” is one of my dig deeper questions.

and yet, here’s the clincher, the “but” of my narrative…

If there is an individual who, like me, holds an open-handed posture towards faith, an individual who might include “well I could be wrong” in what they have to say or similar in what they have to say about these matters, I am more than willing to give them a chance.
As Paul Tillich said, “the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty” and it’s from this that I am okay with wrestling matters of faith, theology, thoughts about the LGBTQ Community, and everything in-between. God knows I have done so in the past, and I still do in the present.

So these are the things that I put out there on eHarmony, which is “too soon and too quick” according to my bro, but they are of utmost importance to my life and everything else is secondary.

~Nathanael~

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Drawing in the sand; let go of the rocks you carry

Sand drawing

It seems to me that there are folks in various religious communities who are fascinated, and perhaps borderline obsessive, by the sexual orientation of others. While I cannot speak as a representative of faiths that aren’t my own, I’ll stick to Christianity because it’s what I know best (religion-wise) and to a certain extent I prescribe to the main tenants of the faith.

The church as a whole is not an over-the-top, black-and-white heteronormative environment (dare I say duh?). Sure it might try to maintain this image in some parts and denominations within Christianity, but that facade is being pulled back and off (thank God) albeit in some areas a little at a time.
Even in my lifetime I have been moved and prompted by God to change my mind and heart when it came what I thought about the LGBTQ+ community. I consider myself blessed for having my worldview altered with every Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender follower of Christ I know and have met.

My changed posture, both heart and mind, stem from being open to God and whomever I’m in contact with. Because I realize in my life it has come from engagement with those who make up the LGBTQ+ community. Over the years I’ve also come to realize that love requires proximity, and while God could have changed my heart and mind about what I previously thought about the LGBTQ+ community, I don’t think I’d be able to speak and live my truth had I chose not to engage intentionally in proxy. I could be wrong, bu that’s what I think in the matter.

The basis for why this post is called “drawing in the sand; let go of the rocks you carry” is because Jesus was called on by the religious leaders (as found in John 8) of his time to handle an issue they had. That “issue” they presented was a woman caught in adultery (the man isn’t mentioned, but that’s another matter altogether).
The religious leaders explain what needed to be done, on their terms, to such a woman. Stoning to death was the methodology,their perception as to how to bring about restitution. Jesus proceeds to sit down and draws in the ground, the religious leaders prompt him and egg him on, but Jesus instructs them as follows;

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (verse 8)

He draws a bit more and then…”Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

“No one, sir,” she said.

Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (verses 10 & 11)

And with that the woman is set on her way, her dignity and humanity restored by Jesus.

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I think this story speaks to the innate desire to focus on what’s going on in the lives of others while failing to address one’s own issues. When we do this, we are like religious leaders, we clasp onto our own “stones” with the intention to throw. Stones of bias, judgment, confusion, hatred, fear, ignorance, etc. We also sometimes hold onto these stones because we’re coming from a place of projection and not being at peace with our own selves.

So when it comes down to the passage where Jesus tells the woman to “go now and leave your life of sin” it is important to realize it’s Jesus making this statement to the woman, not the religious leaders. Yet at times the rebuttal to this is something akin to “yeah, well, the Bible clearly says…” and thus the paradigm of “what the Bible says” compared to “what Jesus said” takes place. Then there are times it becomes a moral “slippery slope” pertaining to rights, that if there’s acceptance or tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community it won’t be long till it’s extended to those who are into beastiality, incest, pedophilia, etc.
That is just fear-mongering and ignorance at work in one’s mind, there’s no comparison and that form of thinking is toxic and absolutely absurd.

It is for these reasons among others I deeply encourage those in the Christian community to let go of their rocks and move in the direction of proximity with the LGBTQ+ community. They’re our friends, our family members, our coworkers, and they’re also our fellow church goers.
God is in the midst of the LGBTQ+ community, isn’t it time that we do that as well?

~Nathanael~

Morning Meditation 2.23.16

morning meditation 2.23.16

as a follower of Christ I know that my love for God is best demonstrated by whom I love the least, and as I sit here in my car minutes before I start work I’m mediating on that.

you see, I’ve been having a difficult time doing that lately, loving the other that is, and I have a coworker who would be “the other” in my case; he’s loud, arrogant, not a good listener, rehearsed rhetoric when it comes to what he thinks about the LGBTQ+ community… we’ve duked it out verbally when it comes to these matters, he still doesn’t get it (and no, in this instance I don’t equate “getting it” as taking the side I have in this matter).

Yet yesterday before the work day ended he asked me to stand in solidarity with him, a little gesture, but he asked to do so anyway.
gut response; “why in the hell should I stand in solidarity with you?”
But Jesus got the better of me, and I said “yes I will do that with you.”

The way of Jesus is difficult and goes against the grain of my natural instincts and reactions. I’m not standing in solidarity for praise or respect of my peers, I’m doing it because Jesus would want me to.

This is how I show love today, with the other who has offended me and those I love dearly. Not my love per se, but the love of Jesus.

~ Nathanael~

Transgender Lives Matter


Earlier today I watched a documentary called Southern Comfort, which Wikipedia describes as “a 2001 documentary film about the final year in the life of Robert Eads, a female-to-male transsexual. Eads, diagnosed with ovarian cancer, was turned down for treatment by a dozen doctors out of fear that treating such a patient would hurt their reputations. By the time Eads received treatment, the cancer was too advanced to save his life.”

Transgender, in case you’re unfamiliar with a working definition is knowing you were born into the wrong gender, that mentally you know you were meant to be born a male where your anatomy makes you biologically a female, and you know you were meant to be a born a female where your anatomy makes you biologically a male. Transgender is the T in the acronym LGBTQ, and I (as many people can attest to) believe the transgender face a lot of discrimination from within the LGBTQ community as well as from the rest of society.
How so you might ask? Discrimination within the work place, an ill-informed population as to what being transgender entails, violence, if incarcerated they might be put in the wrong prison (matching them with their biological gender, but not the one that reflects their being transgender), a lack of acceptance by friends and family which may lead them to choosing to complete suicide (rest in peace Leelah Alcorn), amongst other things.

I am an ally to the LGBTQ community, and my awareness to what affects the Transgender community was heightened as I watched Southern Comfort, especially when one of the partners of one of the guys made this comment as to why she was fearful to be recorded for the documentary; “I’m just afraid of someone coming in here and destroying everything we have and harming us because they think it’s the right thing to do in the name of God, in the name of God for Heaven’s sake.” ‪ – Southern Comfort (Documentary: 2001)
As a follower of Christ, I was (and still am) utterly mortified by the fear of the woman for things that might be done against because people’s perception that “it’s the right thing to do in the name of God.” Pardon my language, but what the fuck? Someone is fearful for what might happen in the name of GOD?!? That certainly doesn’t ring of anything Godlike or even, Christlike, my heart goes out to this fear that is ever present in the hearts of men and women.

As if the oppression against those who are Transgender individuals wasn’t enough there are those who get perverse kicks from doing things against them because (and we’ve all heard it before in some shape or form) “God told me / us to do it” which frankly is one of the biggest cop-outs and excuses out there. Grow the heck up and stop using God as a scapegoat for why you harm yourself or your fellow human being, an individual who is made in the image of God.

Life is short and sacred enough to see the value in all, to respect and the humanity and Imago Dei-ness found in everyone. All lives matter, Transgender lives matter as well, and we as individuals and as communities and as nations should do what we can to preserve life and not take it away, refurbish and rehabilitate it, and not discard it. To my LGBTQ brothers and sisters I am your ally and will keep fighting for your rights! Life would not be the same without you, hold on my brothers and sisters, hold on.

~Nathanael~

speaking up for and defending others as a spiritual exercise; day 11 of Ramadan / A fierce kind of love; my recap of Chicago Pride 2015 and the I’m Sorry Campaign 2015

I am going to make this a “two birds with one stone” post, so here it goes…

Speaking up and defending others is a spiritual exercise, because sometimes in life others need your voice / be an alternative voice / be a buffer / be an ally, and yesterday friends and acquaintances of The Marin Foundation were that to the LGBTQ Community by way of the I’m Sorry Campaign. But it so happened that I and several others positioned ourselves at the end of the parade, in front of the protesters.
Now I don’t have much to say about the protesters because they’re a verbally violent and virulent bunch of people who have a convoluted understanding of God and God’s love for humanity. God’s out to get you, and if you’re a member of the LGBTQ Community or even an ally, the wrath of God is and will be poured out upon you and they want to make damn sure that you know it; they make this known by their numerous signs and bullhorns, and it gets loud and hurtful quick.

My friends, and acquaintances, and The Marin Foundation, do what we can to build bridges between the LGBTQ Community and primarily the church community. Not that they’re mutually exclusive but there’s been an unfortunate marginalization that has been occurring by the church to a certain extent for quite some time now. We want to be agents of change, agents of a fierce love that does what it can to bring forth restoration and reconciliation.
I am encouraged by the I’m Sorry Campaign and what it is capable of doing. I am also encouraged by it being seen at different Pride Parades around the country as well as outside; it’s amazing to see what God is doing through others who want to bring about reconciliation and restoration unto the LGBTQ Community who has been marginalized by the church. We’re getting better all the time in doing so!

So for the second year running I positioned myself in front of the protesters. My friend L* and I found ourselves there a bit earlier, we actually beat the protesters there!

and with some time to spare we took care of a few errands before heading back to our spot in front of where the protesters would be. Having one under my belt I felt less nervous about being there. This year we actually had more space than we did last year, and so while we were right there in the front of the protesters it didn’t feel like their bullhorns were positioned directly right behind our heads.

As more protesters got settled into their places, more friends and acquaintances made their way to the spot as well. My friend D* and I did what we could to be a buffer directly behind them, we were at the barricades that kept them in (or the rest of us out). I did feel the verbal heat from what they had to say, but my anxiety and fear was not present. God was with us and he wasn’t going to let us down, and it was the presence of God that sustained us that day because love is louder than hate, and we got to be a part of that fierce love of God that loves everyone.

Given that we were at the end of the parade, and so it started rolling by our location close to two and a half hours. Immediately our presence was known by those in the parade to be one of God’s love and one that wasn’t like that of the protesters who were behind of us. Hugs and thank-you’s were extended by those in the parade to us, for they could see that we were willing to be there and to be present as a counter-protest to the protesters. Most of those in the parade had moments of “getting it”; getting what we we were saying and what we stood for, and it was the a very beautiful thing to bear witness to time and time again.

Our love is fierce to the extent that we couldn’t hate the protesters, for we also vocalized our love for them as well! I am reminded of a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King who said; “hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” And it’s true! If we were to lower ourselves to the level of the protesters than in a way we’d be no better than they are. But by loving them as God loves us, we are able to transcend that fear and that hate and overcome it despite the odds.
The protesters were dismayed and a bit angry at our verbalization of our love for them:

But despite the fact they didn’t feel the same way, it was the right thing to do and we meant it. It is the fierce love God that propels us forward to go out into the world and do big things, it is the fierce love of God that sustains us and helps us become a voice of change, it’s the fierce love of God that will see each and everyone of us to completion. May our actions and words in defending those who have been hurt and marginalized by the church become a balm of healing. To God be the glory!

That is why speaking up for and defending others were my key words on the 11th day of Ramadan. May God, the defender and protector of the wounded, continually bring about change in our lives and in the lives of others, so that we can be instruments of his peace, so that we can be instruments of his fierce love that is lavished greatly upon all of us every day.

Salaam Alakium and Happy Pride y’all!
~Nathanael~

Happy June 1st, it’s Pride month!

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Today kicks off the first day of LGBTQ pride month, and this Nalgene has been to Pride parades in Chicago / Memphis / & Los Angeles. But you know who has been with me more often than my Nalgene bottle? God has!

God still speaks and moves and breathes life into everyone, the prompting of the holy spirit still causes people to change, to love, to affirm, and to accept their LGBTQ brothers and sisters.

The journey continues on, as it does for all our lives. And I have hope that God will see us to completion.

Onward and upward!
~ Nathanael~