What About Straight Pride Month??

Pride month is here and with all the Pride posts we’re seeing online, we’ll inevitably see those that are against it or wonder “Where is Straight Pride Month”? Unfortunately (at least from what I’ve seen), most of those comments come from people who claim to love Jesus and are supposed to be living a life that honors Him. A life with clear evidence of loving God and loving people. Here’s the thing. Straight Pride Month isn’t a thing because its never had to be a thing. It has never been taboo to be straight. We have never had to question whether or not kissing or holding hands with our significant other in public would be seen as “gross” or “inappropriate”. We’ve never had to question whether we’d be harmed by showing affection publicly. We’ve never had to question it. We’ve just been living our lives in the open. The world was essentially designed with us in mind(ahem, that’s called Straight Privilege). We’ve never been illegal. So Pride is the one month where the LGBTQ+ community can be who they want to be without fear of persecution. It’s a time for them to feel safe. It’s a time for them to be what was illegal for so long (and what still is illegal in many countries).

Some might say, “What about what the Bible says about homosexuality?” To that I say, What about it? Have your beliefs. Have your convictions. Your beliefs or my beliefs (whether they’re right or wrong) don’t change the lived experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. They’ve lived a life feeling and being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Let them celebrate themselves. If you don’t agree with it, stay out of it. But never, never, never allow someone’s sexual orientation to dictate how your treat them. Because before anything else, people in the LGBTQ+ community are people. They’re just people. People that want and deserve love and respect, just like anyone else. And if you’re an ally, love and celebrate your LGBTQ+ friends well. And if you’ve never even had a conversation with someone in this community, I’d encourage you to make it a goal this month to hear someone’s story. Everyone has a story. Empathize with them. Connect. Because when you have conversations with people from a group to which you don’t belong (whatever group that may be), you oftentimes find out that underneath all the labels that society puts on us, we’re all a lot more similar than we are different. We all have insecurities. We all have had challenges in our lives. We all have dreams and hopes for your futures.

Let this month, if nothing else, be a reminder to love the people around you. Love them regardless of what they look like, how they dress, who they love, or how they love. Because in the end, “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”

So what about Straight Pride Month? We don’t need it. Be thankful that we don’t.

When Father’s Day Isn’t Happy

Sad Boy

Father’s Day is a day where people all over the world take a day to celebrate the fathers in their lives, wishing them all a “Happy Father’s Day” while social media is flooded with pictures and posts of all that fathers do for their kids and their families. It really is a happy day for so many people. But I’d be lying if I told you that I was super happy today. To be completely honest, I’m really a little bummed out today. Not because I didn’t have a great dad. It was actually the opposite. He wasn’t perfect (no dad ever really is), but he was there, and he was a good dad. My dad was always there for my brothers and me. He always wanted to be at every game, every event, every band concert, you name it. He was there. When I was younger, I didn’t really appreciate it too much—I was a little embarrassed if I was completely honest. But looking back, I appreciate it so much. Dad, if you’re reading this. Thanks for that.

But still, I’m a little bummed today. I’m bummed because I think about all the people in this world whose Father’s Day isn’t a happy day, and I know plenty personally. For many people, their fathers aren’t there or were never there. Maybe he just recently passed. Maybe he died early on. Maybe he left. Maybe the mom never knew who the dad was. Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that he’s not there. For people who fall into this category, feelings of grief, regret, confusion, and bitterness can come creeping in and can create a day that is anything but happy. It may be a weight on their chest that they carry throughout the day as they hear “Happy Father’s Day” at every turn. A weight that they may carry all year, but it becomes almost unbearably heavy on this day.

For some, their fathers may have been in the picture physically, but maybe they were absent emotionally or were abusive. This can sometimes be harder than having a father who wasn’t there at all. I would imagine that, for people that fall into this category, childhood was filled with a longing for their father’s love that was so close to being possible but never materialized. They may have seen their dad every day, but they never felt that he loved them. Instead of love, they may have felt fear. They may have felt insecure. For them, Father’s Day could bring up feelings of anger, sadness, or low self-worth—anything but Happy.

Then there are some guys out there that may have had great fathers, but have yet to find themselves in the position of being a father themselves, even if they’ve been trying. Father’s Day can be tough for men who haven’t been able to have kids of his own. Maybe he and his wife have walked through miscarriages in hopes of having their first baby. Maybe they found out that they wouldn’t be able to conceive at all. I think about them when I see “Dads eat free” signs at restaurants. I think about them at church when the pastor asks for all the fathers to stand. I think about them when I hear people wishing them a “Happy Father’s Day” and they have to constantly respond with, “Oh, I’m not a father” as a constant reminder throughout the day.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we stop giving free meals to dads, or stop wishing dads Happy Father’s Day, or stop having them stand to be acknowledged and praised in church. I think dads deserve all the praise they’re given on this day. However, I think we need to be aware of the fact that this day isn’t always happy for some people. For some, it might be the hardest day of the year. With changed awareness comes changed perspective. And with changed perspective, oftentimes comes changed actions. If you have people in your life whose Father’s Day isn’t happy, reach out to them. Be with them. Acknowledge them. Their story matters too.

Whole Foods

It’s no secret. Whole foods are better for you than processed foods are. Research has proven this time and time again, and in our culture, this is relatively old news. So why, in light of all of these studies and facts, are we, as a country, still more obese than ever? Well for starters, processed food and fast food is simply more convenient; it takes less time to prepare (or order) this food than to take the time to make most whole foods. Also, a lot of times, whole foods and “healthy foods” just don’t taste as good as salty, fatty, processed foods. But then there are those people who do eat healthy foods and still gain weight. What’s up with that? Well, working out is still necessary, even when eating the right foods.

This past week, my pastor used this theme as a parallel to our spiritual lives, and I’ve been chewing on it ever since. I was super convicted because I love to read. I’m almost prideful in how many books I read in a given month. Nerdy, I know, but it’s the truth. After listening to this sermon, I realized that so many people in our culture, me being one of the biggest culprits, consume so much processed spiritual food and not nearly enough whole food. Whole spiritual food is nothing more than raw Scripture. Processed spiritual food includes Christian books, podcasts, sermons, etc. Scripture has been processed and prepared for our consumption by the author, pastor, or whoever else is interpreting it for us.

Just as we long for the convenience of processed/fast food, we gravitate toward these books and podcasts because they’re convenient. They’re already processed and made ready to consume. But what happens is we become addicted to their convenience and consume more and more of it until we’re fat with more knowledge than we know what do with. If we just take the time and read Scripture, we see that, while the list of “ingredients” or “usable” pieces of information may be fewer, the quality and richness is so much more than the processed stuff. Quality vs. quantity.

Sometimes, as with health foods, Scripture just isn’t as appetizing as a deliciously fatty Donald Miller book. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love Donald Miller books, but I also love cheesecake. And I can’t live on cheesecake. Wish I could. But what’s true about health food is also true about Scripture. Sometimes, it can be bland and boring. I’d vouch for that. But it’s what’s best for us. It sustains us. It keeps us going longer than any processed or fast food can. And every once in a while, a food tastes so good, we’d be surprised it was healthy. Same can be said about Scripture.

But even if we read Scripture all day every day, we can still become “spiritually fat”. The first chapter in James, verses 14-26, talks about how faith and deeds must coincide. We have to not only consume Scripture, but we must also “work out” our faith. Our deeds should be a natural reaction to what we know and believe. If we just know it and don’t do it, we’re just spiritually fat and useless. But we have to be careful not to become weak, tired, worn out, and spiritually anorexic. That is, we do, do, do, but we never take the time to feed ourselves spiritually. There has to be a balance.

So, with all this said, should we just throw out all our Christian books, stop listening to podcasts and sermons, and stop reading blogs? Well, no. It’s not terrible to have fast food every once in a while, or splurge on that cheesecake. Sure. Go for it. But we can’t live on the stuff. If our lives consist of more processed, fast food than whole foods, sure we’ll survive. But think of the health costs. Think of how much healthier your life could be if it consisted primarily of whole foods. It takes discipline, just like eating right. But with consistency, the benefits will undoubtedly follow.  Commit to being spiritually fit instead of spiritually fat. Eat more whole food.

Here’s the sermon that inspired all of this. It’s the one titled “Rooted”: http://www.gracepoint.org/index.cfm/pageid/2159/index.html