Friends or Enemies

Reverend

My best girlfriend just got engaged and we are having so much fun planning her wedding (I’m her best man of course) but I can’t help but feel distanced from her because when I talked about the wedding that I wanted to have one day she told me that “I love you like a brother but God doesn’t like gay marriage.” We have been best friends since high school and I am just now finding this out about her. She has never expressed this to me before and doesn’t really go to church so I’m not sure where this is coming from. What should I do?

Nick

Many of us have found ourselves in a similar situation, someone that we love tells us (albeit indirectly) that God doesn’t love us. My advice would be to confront her about it, in a nice way of course. It is not healthy to stay in a relationship with someone that isn’t honest with you and that does not support you.

The best way to confront her is to point out the hypocrisy of the statement that she loves you but apparently claims to worship and follow a God that doesn’t. One of the most outspoken opponents of gay rights is the Phelps family. You know, the people that picket military funerals calling our fallen soldiers fags and claiming that they will burn in hell for eternity because the USA “embraces homosexuality”.

If there’s one thing that I believe the LGBTIQ+ community has in common with the Phelps family it is that we both believe in the absolution of “you’re either for us or against us.” The Phelps don’t try to hide their disdain for homosexuals like regular (anti-gay) church going folk, they wear it on their sleeve, well more on a picket sign with 10 inch letters proclaiming that “God Hates Fags.”

So how do we find common ground with these people that claim to hate us so much? It’s the absolution of our belief that God is love. Part of loving someone is telling them the truth even when it isn’t the easiest thing to do. The LGBTIQ+ community must come from a place of love and respect for others if we wish to receive the same in return. After all, God doesn’t hate any of His/Her creations, S/He does not like their actions. As a community we need to stop supporting those that are really against us, the “I have gay friends but I don’t believe in gay marriage” folk. Some or similar rights is not equal rights and therefore we are not being treated as equal beings. We all have or have had them in our lives at one point or another and it is time for us to stand up for ourselves and enlighten them of their own hypocrisy. You can’t claim to be a friend of the LGBTIQ+ community and then deny us rights. You are either for love or you are for hate there is no in between.

“The enemies you make by taking a decided stand generally have more respect for you than the friends you make by being on the fence”

When Life Gives Us Lemons, God Makes Lemonade

All too often life may seem like running through minefields, just waiting for the next trial and tribulation to explode. If you’re anything like me, you find yourself constantly praying for God’s hand to help navigate this life and often end up feeling disappointed when you don’t immediately hear the omnipotent voice of God saying “in a quarter mile, make a left turn onto Park Avenue.” Romans 5:1-5 serves as a reminder to us that no matter what happens in this life; no matter how much we might feel abandoned or betrayed by God, it’s the trials and tribulations of this life that shape us. And that when it seems like our tank is on empty God is always there – maybe not in the way we would want – but God is there: in the wind, in the helping hand of a stranger, and in our hearts.

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of this Scripture; when tragedy befalls us or it seems like the world is only getting worse. As cliche as it may sound Romans tells us that when the world hands us a bunch of lemons God is there to make lemonade – remembering that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger because it is grace that got us through it in the first place. Our trials, tribulations and failures are miracles in disguise, developing us into the person that we were created to be and forging our relationship with God and the universe through fire.

Often times people say that science and religion, especially Christianity, don’t mix but I like to believe that God created science as a way of helping us explain our physicality. One of the best examples of this that is related to today’s message is the healing properties of tears. Tears of emotion, as opposed to those of irritation from things like peeling onions, serve as a quick exit strategy for toxins that have built up in our bodies from stress, kind of in the same way that getting a massage releases toxins. Tears also serve as a biological stress regulator, much like working out, tears lower our stress levels and in turn make us healthier people; suppressing tears only allows toxins and harmful biological byproducts of stress to build up in our bodies contributing to greater chances of heart problems, ulcers, and high blood pressure. It’s amazing to think that our Creator knew the stresses that this world would bring down upon us and created us with biological stress reduction systems built in.

So when it seems like all hope is lost and you begin to think that no one is there, remember that you were created to be stronger than you give yourself credit for and God loves you so much that They are always there turning the pains of this world into miracles that bring you closer to them.