Guest Post: Why I Love My Church

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It’s difficult to find a safe and healthy church “system” with appropriate checks and balances.  Lisa of Lisa’s Leben shares what has worked well in her church and why she loves her church.

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Lisa has been blogging for about a month now and writes at Lisa’s Leben.  After getting tagged on the above tweet, I was intrigued and clicked on the link to read her article.  I loved it.  I loved that she was inspired to write her own article after reading blogs like mine and Samantha’s, Defeating the Dragons.  The topics I cover are sometimes sad and disappointing – behaviors and actions that ought not be in Christ’s church.  I thought it would be great to take a look at what is working at Lisa’s church and she graciously gave me permission to share the article with you.

Now, a little disclaimer:  Lisa is a part-time Christian pastor and there is discussion about issues that will make some Christians cringe.  I get that.  More important, however, is the message of the article than the fact that Lisa is a female pastor or any other side issue.

In this day and age with so much abuse in churches, it’s helpful to read about churches that have good checks and balances so abuse does not have an opportunity to rear its ugly head.  It sounds like Lisa’s church has something that is working.  For those who want to worship in a traditional church setting, you might find some ideas to keep in mind when settling on a new church.  ~ja

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Why I Love My Church

by Lisa of Lisa’s Leben

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I’m writing this post partly in response to a lot of things I have read lately, and news reports I’ve seen, mostly relating to folks who have been abused in churches, or who use the Bible to oppress women.  Women who are fighting courageously to be seen as equal partners in churches where they’re not allowed any say in decision making, who are not only getting discouraged, but are approaching burn-out with faith in general.  It’s gotten me fired up, Spirit-led, if you will, to share with you all why I love my church.

I am part of one of the “traditional” mainline Christian denominations in the United States.  In many ways the mainline denominations are declining and/or under fire for not being innovative enough to “capture the imagination” or speak to new generations.  Some of this may certainly be true.  We might be a little stuffy, with a little too much of the European reserve in our nature.  And we need to learn how to be a little more flexible in worship and in acceptance of people who look and live differently than some of us.

Being part of an established denomination has its drawbacks.  The bureaucracy can be maddening.  The hierarchy can be unresponsive.  It can take forever to get anything done.  I get that.  As an ordained pastor I LIVE THAT.

I get the lure of independent non-denominational churches.  No one else to answer to, we can do what we want.  We choose our own pastors, we don’t have to send off a percentage or our offering to salary administrators in an office far away.  We can find a church that REALLY teaches the Bible and doesn’t have a lot of doctrine.

But there are problems there too.  And I see far more dangerous problems there.

One of the things I actually LIKE in being a part of a larger, organized denomination is OVERSIGHT.  That’s right.  I’m a pastor, but I have a bishop looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m behaving myself.  I have congregational leaders to whom I am responsible.  And the leaders are under obligation to meet with the whole membership annually or more often depending on circumstances.  The whole congregation ELECTS the congregational leaders – they are NOT appointed.  And according to our church’s constitution a member CANNOT be in leadership more than six years in a row – that means there is constant turnover in leadership.  The church finances and financial records are available to any member of the congregation, and must also be reported at this annual meeting.

My ordination

My ordination

To become an ordained minister in my denomination a person has to jump through a myriad of hoops.  You must complete a Master of Divinity Degree, a 4 year program – and that’s AFTER college.  (Many people in my denomination come out of seminary heavily in debt and not earning much in salary, which is a problem we’re trying to remedy.)  There are alternatives for people called to ministry who were not able to go to college, but those are exceptions made in extraordinary cases.  Before you start seminary you have to get endorsement from the church (a stamp of approval that it’s ok for you to even go to classes!).  You have to go for psychological evaluations, work under experienced pastors for three years, one year full-time, and then get final approval your senior year of seminary.  NOT JUST ANYONE CAN BECOME A PASTOR.

Also, in my denomination THE CHURCH starts congregations, not individual people.  The membership votes to call a pastor.  The pastor “fits” with the congregation, the congregation is not built around the pastor.  Sometimes pastors serve in one place a long time, but for the most part pastors come and go and the congregations remain.  This means that while pastoral personality may change, church teaching stays more or less the same.

And speaking of church teaching.  Decisions on major beliefs have been hashed out, debated, researched, and prayed over for DECADES and even CENTURIES – not decided on by a few people who may have little or no education, who all think the same about church structure and scripture.  I’m not looking down on those with little or no education, but when deciding on church teaching and biblical interpretation it behooves us to have knowledge of the history of the faith and of the scriptures, and of different methods of interpretation.

My denomination has come to be viewed as pretty liberal in some respects.  But it has not always been so.  Like I said, we’ve been debating stuff ever since the Reformation, what can change and what needs to stay the same.  You know, not all the “rules” of the Bible were meant to be followed forever.  Who decides what only applies to the folks of Ephesus, and what portions of Ephesians are meant for us too?  How do we decide if women were to keep silent in church because women of Paul’s day were prohibited from speaking publicly ANYWHERE, or if Paul, looking at the contributions of women today and the place women hold in public life, would continue to say the same?

When making these decisions, my church has looked to Hebraic law.  Some laws are casuistic – that is conditional (think of casual, they can be changed), and other laws are apodictic – that is laws that are divine commands.   You shall not kill is a good example of an apodictic law, women shall be silent is one that my denomination determined to be casuistic.

But no one person makes those decisions.  Not even a small group.  The NATIONAL church votes on such changes.  This is how we came to ordain women.  This is how we came to be able to share communion with certain other denominations.  And this is how, in the last few years we decided that an ordained person can be gay, in a relationship, and STILL allowed to be a pastor.  (We have yet to make a decision on gay marriage, but I’m sure that will start to work its way through the system – pastors have been informed they can use their discretion in keeping with whatever the state law is and to inform their congregation if they intend to officiate at same-sex weddings.)

Is my denomination perfect?  Of course not.  We’ve had many problems, and congregations that have split from the larger denomination because of disagreements (especially over homosexuality).  We’ve had abusers – but the thing with that is, it only takes ONE person to go to the bishop’s office, and the bishop MUST take action to investigate and the congregation MUST be informed.  Even so, since all people are sinners, sin will continue in the Church – in any church.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best to minimize it, or its effects.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this, I applaud you.  If you resonated with any of this and might be looking for a church that will welcome your gifts gay/straight, woman/man, young/old, etc… I would suggest you look for a congregation that belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a Church I am VERY proud to serve.

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49 comments on “Guest Post: Why I Love My Church

  1. What a well thought out and wonderfully articulate post! I think it is a position well worth considering. I especially liked the practice of the congregation choosing the pastor as opposed to a pastor starting (planting?) a church. Interestingly enough so many “plants” happen here in the south where we have plenty of churches! Hope everyone in my area are staying warm!

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  2. You have to go for psychological evaluations, work under experienced pastors for three years, one year full-time, and then get final approval your senior year of seminary. NOT JUST ANYONE CAN BECOME A PASTOR.

    This was the part that struck me. Chuck O’Neal, my former pastor, went to Multnomah University and it is commonly known that he did not get along with some of his professors. He told us that from the pulpit. He ended up not finishing there and later ended up with a psych degree from Corban University. Ok, this is the same guy who told people they were not allowed to seek outside counseling and especially not from mental health professionals. :::::DISCONNECT::::::

    There were obviously clear danger signs at Multnomah and O’Neal was able to get his position with little background investigating, with no degree, with NO church experience. He then came into a church with 2 yes-men as elders and no oversight. He still has no oversight, had his license revoked and is in church discipline.

    Had he gone through the process Lisa describes, he most likely (added 2 previous words so as not to type a “factual” statement) would not have passed the psych test, you can be sure. Chuck O’Neal would have been weeded out early on.

    The sad thing is that anybody can get a minister’s license and start a church. Actually, in the State of Oregon, you don’t even need a minister’s license (except for signing marriage licenses, I believe).

    As Lisa says, nothing is fool-proof, but you greatly reduce the odds of tyrannical pastors when you have these kinds of safeguards in place.

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  3. Being so conformed to the world as to blow off what the Bible teaches on sexuality, so as to dismiss what it teaches as time-bound cultural, shows that there isn’t too much to love there either. Nothing in this system protects from conformity to this world in general, that’s clear.

    Now that it is fashionable in the world to say that homosexuality is fine, that’s what they say. Before the world around them decided that, nothing in the Bible or elsewhere led them to think so, including thousands of years of tradition and church history.

    Conformity to the world is the guiding principle pretty much everywhere else too. I was in a church some years ago in which they were talking about how godless some Presbyterian church was in the area because they were OK with homosexuality, and I observed that they are doing that because they are conformed to this world, and that being conformed to this world is exactly why this church was into pledging allegiance to the flag, invading and bombing other people, and the doctrine that shedding the blood of American soldiers is what brings us liberty – doctrines with no more support in the Bible than homosexuality.

    They didn’t throw me out right away, but I wasn’t there much longer. If you’re not conformed to this world, you’ll look a little more like what Jesus said, which among other things is that you’ll agree with him that not a word of the Law and the prophets is to be done away with. He certainly disputed what the scribes and Pharisees said about the Laws in such passages as Matthew 5. One issue he never raised was homosexuality. If there were anything unjust about what the scribes and Pharisees taught about homosexuality, Jesus should have addressed that somehow, don’t you think?

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  4. Sexual preference is not, of itself, sin. Behavior, including plotting to act on preference, is. But homosexual activity is but one sin of many, and NO ONE, except Jesus, is without sin. To focus on one sin is to ignore others, including seeking control over others, heterosexual lust, avarice or greed, failure to love (agape) those in need, etc. There are probably none in the ministry today that have not sinned and do not sin daily, and surely most fall into that. So why make a big issue out of one sin to the exclusion of others. Is it because that sin is unpopular and the others are not? Is it not a sin to deny full personhood to those of a particular race or gender, by twisting scripture? And that is done from the pulpit every Sunday, and many times on the other days.

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  5. Beautifully said! I have attended a mainline denomination church since I was 16 and have found many of the same benefits. One I especially love is our connectional system that allows us to reach out in mission all over the world and know that the money is spent responsibly. I also like the accountability – I have been amazed at the stories I’ve heard on this board and what people have suffered.

    Lisa, your denomination is truly fortunate to have you serving in ministry. And hopefully they appreciate how well you tell their story!

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  6. Hi everyone – I can’t reply individually, so I’ll just post a general comment here. First of all I want to thank Julie Anne for reaching out to me and asking if she could share my post.

    In my denomination pastors aren’t “independent.” No pastor is allowed to start their own church. When a church plant is being made, the “district” appoints a pastor to that plant and again, provides oversight.

    Regarding the psychological evaluations – I’m not privy to numbers, but I know while I was at seminary there were several people who were told they couldn’t continue. Other times candidates are required to enter therapy. One person I know left seminary, went back a few years later after they had worked on some “stuff” and then was approved and ordained.

    As far as “being conformed,” I’m more worried about the issues that Jesus was worried about. Rather than focus on one sin about which Jesus says nothing (although he says a LOT about heterosexual relations, which I would think are VERY important to those worried about abuse, since most of the abuse in “independent” churches is between male leaders and vulnerable children/women), I am much more concerned about the destructive ways our culture treats those less fortunate.

    As a society we are far too self-absorbed, out for ourselves, willing to do anything to succeed by the world’s standards. The world tells us, “Look out for number one,” JESUS tells us to love our neighbor and feed the poor.

    This is how I choose to not be conformed: to stand with those who are powerless and oppressed, to look out for the widow and orphan, to act when I see a brother or sister in pain.

    Again, thanks for reading. I really just wanted to let people know that there ARE churches out there that can be places of healing, especially for folks who have had traumatic experiences with church.

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  7. “The sad thing is that anybody can get a minister’s license and start a church. Actually, in the State of Oregon, you don’t even need a minister’s license (except for signing marriage licenses, I believe). ”

    I once had a cat whom I had ordained by the Universal Life Church (a business whose purpose is to “ordain” people.. and the occasional household pet.) And ordination was FREE…..but the price for a license was exorbitant. Since I thought that it would be stupid to spend all that money, she couldn’t marry people here in NY. But she didn’t need to sign; they offered a signature stamp for a nominal fee, adding that “most people get them made locally”.

    I say all this, because the more I hear about some of the [&@!!#@%**&] who DO have licenses, I wonder if she might not have been a better choice than some humans…..

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  8. This article is very interesting. Were I to return to an organized, institutionalized form of fellowship, which seems unlikely at this point in my life, I would probably return to my Methodist roots. While I bristle at the though of ecclesiastical hierarchy, I can see how it could provide more effective accountability than is likely in an autonomous church organization such as is typical of most of non-mainline evangelicalism. The hierarchy was not effective to prevent the Roman Catholic sexual abuse scandals, but now that the threat of legal liability has become very real and present, denominational self-interest may dictate that hierarchical clout be administered to prevent similar abuses. Certainly it seems that the reports we now read of sexual abuse by church leaders are more likely to involve “pastors” who are not under hierarchical authority.

    I especially like the requirement of psychological assessments and mandatory mentorships. This has to be useful in weeding out the narcissists and sociopaths/psychopaths. Good luck getting any pastoral candidate outside a hierarchical structure to consent to any such thing!

    Then there is this: In my small town, which has 2 conservative evangelical type churches, one conservative pentecostal church, and one United Methodist Church, it is the Methodist pastor, a woman, who preaches Jesus–and she doesn’t just preach about Him, she introduces the Jesus she knows, up close and personal, from real life experience.

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  9. zooey111,

    Yes, I would say that cats are more pastoral than the typical conservative, gender-role-obsessed “pastor.” Certainly this is true in terms of their ability to administer healing comfort.

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  10. Peter Attwood, you said “If you’re not conformed to this world, you’ll look a little more like what Jesus said, which among other things is that you’ll agree with him that not a word of the Law and the prophets is to be done away with.” Jesus actually said what was most important was to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. The type of church Lisa describes does exactly that – they aren’t conforming to the world. They are seeking God’s will in how to love their their neighbor.

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  11. Gary W, yeah for the UMs! (United Methodists). One of the big differences I think that helps protect Lisa’s denomination and UMs (and other mainlines) is there is no pope. All our bishops are equal. And the area they cover is small. For UMs that is sometimes a state. You lose your credentials for abuse and it’s not like they can just move you somewhere else. All it takes is for 2 people to make a complaint and for a committee to decide on a trial. Sometimes there is simply incompetence and they don’t appoint you to a church. That will likely follow you too if you go to another area. Mistakes happen like anywhere but it’s getting better.

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  12. Gary W, ISTM if we had an accurate understanding of leadership as all about being a house maid, then an organizational structure can be useful. Those who maintain and evaluate congregational efficiencies are like house or hotel maids who organize/tidy a room. Or like janitors. It flips hierarchy upside down and then stamps it flat.

    But this model never works unless people make this radical understanding primary on/in every single piece/action of leadership, (including at top of every role definition) because we are endlessly prone to return to power structures.

    That’s why I too am leery of them, as is. But we could start by taking away the term “pastor”, which has been corrupted by power, and using instead “house maid”. “House-maid Steven Furtick” has a nice ring. And that doesn’t mean owning such a huge house that one requires house maids to maintain it w00t

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  13. Patrice,

    Having now figured out that ISTM does not stand for International Society for Tropical Medicine, I much agree with your 7:49 AM comment. It is just so frustrating that Jesus’ instructions concerning servant-hood simply cannot be fully achieved within the context of any organization. Organizations require authority structures, authority must be enforced by the exercise of power, and power corrupts.

    I don’t want to take anything away from Lisa, though. ISTM that we are as free to seek Christian fellowship within the context of institutions as we are to do so where there is no formal structure whatsoever. If one chooses organized Christianity, how much better to seek out an organization where leaders are subject to powerful accountability structures than to risk becoming codependent to an unaccountable, power and prestige obsessed, tyrant who is given the title of pastor.

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  14. Yeah, sorry, Gary, I use as much “online language” as I can. Comment formats demand short&precise, but often the subjects are huge, so when I can, I shlep them in.

    But my sympathies re the plethora of annoying acronyms everywhere. I have a particular aversion to them when used for gov’t agencies, economic instruments, and theological doctrines lol

    Urban dictionary is helpful for web language.

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  15. Gary W, for the most glaring and humorous failure of non-authoritarianism-in-bureaucracy, see Occupy. The latest has been that a manipulative transgendered female has taken over one of their main web sites for news of their various activities. All in the name of horizontalism, of course.

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  16. Although Patrice I would have to say Occupy IS under an authoritarian umbrella- Progressive politicians. Occupy is a front group controlled by these men (Holder, Soros, etc.) in Washington. In fact, all anarchist groups are controlled by a hidden authoritarian group. Communists use these techniques often- example were the Bolsheviks in Russia.

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  17. I’m in Portland ::::waves to her favorite CON pastor :::: headed to the Oregon coast for the weekend and there’s a stretch over the Coastal Range with no internet access. I’ll check in when I can.

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  18. Trust4himonly (14.10:35am), we’ll have to disagree on that. My daughter was somewhat involved. The Democratic Party tried to take over Occupy (to the point of trying to scarf their name, for a bit, via Move-On etc.) but the majority of them simply refused. Many Occupiers (esp the ones who continue to work under that umbrella) are Green Party and many others are Libertarian (from whom a number of the anarchists are drawn). Only a few voted Dem after the betrayal of Obama.

    Think how those outside the Evangelical community likely see at us. They do not understand the variations among us in doctrines/ denominations or the fight within on true&loving vs law&power. To those outside, we look like a monolith defined by those with the loudest platforms. When screened through the media, a horrid caricature appears.

    The left wing of this country is as varied and complex as are Evangelicals and the same rotten caricaturing occurs. There are very good people among them, and awful people. Christians, too. And they are also badly served by our media, who have become corporate-gov’t in agenda.

    It would be lovely, actually, if we could find those in each group who are truly good and honest and work together. There is so much wrong and lots of work to be done!

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  19. In this day and age with so much abuse in churches, it’s helpful to read about churches that have good checks and balances so abuse does not have an opportunity to rear its ugly head.

    Though I am all for checks and balances just realize that sometimes even with supposed checks and balances abuse can still occur. Having checks balances isn’t perfect.

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  20. JA,

    Isn’t Portland a suburb of Beaverton? While you’re in the area (and with a tip of the hat to Patrice), you might wanna get together with some of your friends, come up with some Guy Fawkes masks, and occupy BGBC! Probably oughta stay on the adjacent public rights of way, though. You’d likely have to get some megaphones to be heard.

    I know, I know. Completely off topic.

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  21. Actually, Beaverton is suburb of Portland.

    Gary, I was very close to BGBC at Trader Joes. Last time to the area, I took a selfie in front of the church. My girlfriend noticed cameras out front. Are they afraid of something? What about the sovereignty of God?

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  22. Going back to the comments regarding sexual orientation (but not totally limited to that particular issue)…I think there are two (at least) distinct things being confused. One is the practice of churches and the individuals that make one up the church to ACCEPT someone that practices homosexuality. This would be what Christ taught – love one another – accept one another – encourage one another along in godliness. So, that would involve more than welcoming someone and then simply turning a blind eye to blatant sin, whether or not it be of a sexual nature. Another thing altogether (the 2nd that is being confused with the first) is to create a church culture that accepts blatant, ongoing sin (whatever it might be) and say we aren’t going to talk about that sin because there are more important things to do/issues to work on. That is not a loving thing to do at all. I totally agree that EVERYONE should be welcome…no strings attached whatsoever. However, I also believe that Jesus taught and that it is totally biblically appropriate and called for to lovingly come alongside our brothers/sisters and help them to see how their actions might not be lining up with scripture. In the same way, I would hope that they will come to me for the same reason and help me along, too. That is what brothers and sisters in Christ do for one another.

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  23. I dunno Julie Anne. With or without the Guy Fawkes masks, I’m thinking these people at your old church could profit from a little picketing and bullhorning. While what few members are left are entering and exiting the church building. That’s what CON and his friends do at abortion clinics, and it sure seems to me that all this business of suing you for half a million dollars and shunning you and publicly reviling you and generally doing everything they can to try to destroy you is every bit the spiritual equivalent of trying to abort you. Yep, these people are running a spiritual abortion clinic.

    Then again, there’s that pesky verse about not returning evil for evil. Sigh.

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  24. “…. many others are Libertarian (from whom a number of the anarchists are drawn)”

    Oh dear. I am LIbertarian and not an anarchist. At this point, I believe Libertarian principles are closer to boundaries intended for our government.. I am very concerned about our “wrap us up in bubble wrap” government micromanaging/controlling important aspects of our lives. Of course, I fear it is too late.

    I believe a more Libertarian form of government where there are solid boundaries would be very freeing and expand the tax base at the same time. Presidents making laws and changing laws outside of congress is VERY dangerous. And we are there.

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  25. “The left wing of this country is as varied and complex as are Evangelicals and the same rotten caricaturing occurs. There are very good people among them, and awful people. Christians, too. And they are also badly served by our media, who have become corporate-gov’t in agenda.”

    The one thing I have to admire about the Left wing is no matter how much they disagree between each other or don’t like the candidate, they get out the vote. If conservatives don’t like their supposed candidate, many stay home on principle.

    Personally, I think every election is a choice of lesser evils. :o)

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  26. Lots of bad things about America and it’s early years but one thing that stands out to me is that during our pioneer days, so to speak,, for lack of institutions there was much individualism, risk taking and drive. Traveling pastors could not lord it over. Large corporations did not exist. Most people were “self employed” and so on. And yes, there was very bad stuff, too. But I am simply making the point that hierarchy tends to come with “institutions” and as businesses grew, churches grew, government grew etc, we can see the trajectory of the “Gentile” system in force. It is at critical mass now.

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  27. totally agree that EVERYONE should be welcome…no strings attached whatsoever. However, I also believe that Jesus taught and that it is totally biblically appropriate and called for to lovingly come alongside our brothers/sisters and help them to see how their actions might not be lining up with scripture. In the same way, I would hope that they will come to me for the same reason and help me along, too. That is what brothers and sisters in Christ do for one another.”

    Lily, What a beautiful way to put it. I totally agree. This is just not done well anywhere I have seen at all. Therefore you have churches where they are not welcome OR you have churches performing SS marriages.

    I have an extended family member who is “married” same sex and they are delightful. Love them to death and we sometimes vacation with them. After he got married and started bringing his spouse home I was not sure what to tell my children (around age 10sih) so I said nothing. This past year we had a long talk about it as they are preteens. I just said it was not God’s intention but that is between them and God and not our business. Our business is to love. Never to shun for something like that.

    We also have neighbors who are two moms with an adopted child. My daughter plays with her some even though their ages are different. Look, this is going to be all around us in living color. We cannot isolate our children and one thing I WANT them to do is show love to people. They don’t have to agree with it for themselves. I once asked my late mom what should would have done if one of her children announced they were homosexual. She said it would most likely make her love them more. In her view, they would need it and she would feel some responsibility.

    On the other hand, I grow weary of the LBGT groups trying to force it down our throats and some of the nasty threatening games they play with corporate sponsorships and city governments for parades and such. They are just as tyrannical and they target family venues on purpose.

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  28. Lydia (14.2:34pm) yah, there is variety among libertarians, as you likely know better than I do. Some (not all) anarchists grow out of what I’d call the fundamentalist arm, calling for absolute freedom of the individual. That precludes any kind of social structure, except what the individual might want to put in place for him/herself, and that can go any which way. I met a couple of them when teaching art college—didn’t find their aggressive ego-centrism at all attractive but they were creative thinkers lol

    From the little I know of your libertarianism, it was nicely represented at Occupy. Watching how that movement did/didn’t work gave me the first hope that we could perhaps learn to bridge differences for the sake of what we have in common.

    You wrote, “The one thing I have to admire about the Left wing is no matter how much they disagree between each other or don’t like the candidate, they get out the vote. If conservatives don’t like their supposed candidate, many stay home on principle.”

    It’s funny, the left wing says that about the right wing, too. Truly, they do!

    I agree that every election is now a choice of lesser evils. The Dems were trying to get people to vote for them on that very basis. We called it “lesser evilism” and laughed at them. Then they hauled in Bill Clinton, that smug old fart, who chided us for letting “perfection be enemy of the good.” What a pyle o’ shyte.

    I hope to see tons of third party votes next time around.

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  29. Gary W: “Then again, there’s that pesky verse about not returning evil for evil. Sigh.”

    But there’s no verse anywhere about not throwing monkey wrenches into the works.

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  30. “From the little I know of your libertarianism, it was nicely represented at Occupy.”

    Oh dear. I thought Occupy was ridiculous. They actually added a HUGE burden to the local government and accomplished what?. A true Libertarian would never do that. They would be too busy working or trying to work if unemployed.

    “It’s funny, the left wing says that about the right wing, too. Truly, they do! ”

    They can say it but the stats over elections do not bear it out. Just one tiny example: Many conservative Christians would not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon. They just don’t vote. Liberals tend to put intraparty disagreements aside and vote Democrat in the general election.

    Winning is about who shows up. And the Dems can get the vote out. They have a better boots on the ground operation.

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  31. Patrice, I am flummoxed. What insult land? I never meant to insult you at all. I am terribly sorry that I did. But I am not sure exactly what you are referring to.

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  32. Lydia, interesting that you comment on Lisa’s mention of same sex marriage but don’t point out that she is a female minister. If one is going to say the Bible must not be interpreted in light of the culture in which it was written, then one must call all such deviations sin. I cut my hair and wear jewelry to church. I have taught men in Sunday school and led a ministry. I have been obviously guilty of gluttony. I don’t cover my head when I pray. I guess I should be called into question in my church.

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  33. Something else to think on concerning lesbians and gays, when you condemn all as sinning, what do you do about men who have female sexual organs (and vice versa)? For instance, that runner in South Africa who believed she was a woman (I’m not sure how she identifies now so am assuming) – was forced to undergo medical testing after a sudden increase in performance. Discovered she was XY, not XX. In some people testosterone problems create underdeveloped or overdeveloped sex organs while a fetus. I cannot imagine a loving God wanting us to check up on every “sinner” to see of they were truly a different gender than they look to us. Gender is still such a mystery. I couldn’t suddenly start being sexually attracted to women so is it really so much under our control? I do not interpret the scriptures that speak of calling our neighbor into question in the same way you do, that they apply to everyone in our church. But then I don’t follow every word of the Bible either – that whole slave thing. Can’t buy into that being okay. If you came to me and said you were a slave, I certainly would not tell you to go back and be faithful.

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  34. Lydia, I am trying my best here to explain how vital it is to reach out across the aisle if we are truly interested in resolving the crises we face as a nation. After my comments re Occupy’s attempts, you simply called them ridiculous and talked about how they much they cost communities and that they didn’t have jobs. This just lands us back nowhere. Your opinions are drawn from the media, who I also clearly stated are making caricatures of us all.

    Occupy cost communities so much because the police completely over-spent our tax monies harassing them. It was ridiculous and also revealing.

    Another eg: putting out portapotties would’ve resolved a number of issues. But in many places, they even refused to allow Occupy to rent their own.

    Did you know that Occupy fed thousands of homeless? Detroit’s group was literally smothered by that great need. Moreover, the majority of Occupiers either had jobs or were in college. There was a great deal of revolving in/out so as to maintain presence.

    The ideology was flawed, no doubt, and there were nasty and silly people involved, as in any group. But it was an honest attempt to find a way to gather enough influence to beat back the powerlessness that you accurately stated, that voting is now only for lesser evil.

    The Tea Party was another honest attempt, and also flawed. My mother was part of that and I supported her throughout.

    Both the Tea Party and Occupy pointed out some things that have become part of our common discourse. We talked about finding ways to hold politicians accountable because of the Tea party. We now talk about the 99% because of Occupy.

    We must learn to stop insulting each other’s efforts if we are to get anywhere. Staying divided will only keep us impotent.

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  35. Patrice, I realize you were speaking to Lydia, but wanted to insert that I thought Occupy was inspiring. Wished I could have been part of it. Was glad my kids were able to witness it, if only on TV. I think the fact that many had jobs or were rotating in and out was clearly highlighted in the media I read though some media tried to make it a joke. I imagine the sit ins of the 60s were also thought ridiculous and a waste of time (as other media did portray it), as was the March on Washington. The very fact that we can do such a thing and have people willing to remind us of it is in itself important, whether any govt.changes resulted. There were huge cultural changes too, as you pointed out, and those will become more apparent as time goes on. I’m not with you politically – more middle of the road Democrat for lots of reasons – but appreciate your reminder of how important the Occupy Movement has been to our culture.

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  36. Lydia, regarding not permitting the renting of portapotties. A great deal of the harassing of Occupy encampments was due, like this, to taking endless small regulations and misusing them against citizens who wanted to protest in public spaces. The same tactic is used to keep small businesses in constant distress. The Libertarians among them made great points about this and there were many discussions re the proper extent of governance. I think you would have enjoyed them.

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  37. “Your opinions are drawn from the media, who I also clearly stated are making caricatures of us all.”

    Actually Patrice, my opinion was drawn from folks I know who worked near there. I am very anti media. I would NEVER take my positions from what media says. That includes MSNBC and Fox. There are principles of truth that require us to gather information from many sources because so much of what we are fed is spun. I would rather we start with basic principles of government and what it’s boundaries are.

    I am really not sure what Occupy accomplished for long term change? Most long term positive change comes from challenging the system or war. The Tea Party tried to work within the system but were amateurs and not ready for the onslaught against them. (The IRS scandal that came out finally was a clue to how bad it was for them). A friend of mine went to the first Tea Party gathering here years back and was astonished that 2 African Americans spoke out of a line up of 5 speakers. One a union guy. All of them just ordinary people.

    it is going to take people of solid integrity who don’t want to make bank or fame off position/power to change it. And who have iron guts to withstand the media blitz and the power politics aligned against them. I am not real hopeful.

    Wall Street is totally corrupt in my opinion and I have been involved in enough party politics (not any more) to know that once you get to a certain level of the stratosphere there is NO difference between Democrat or Republican. None whatsoever. They are more alike than different. And we are like mere legos in their quest. It has all become too big and byzantine to hide within.

    That is why I am for anything that shrinks government. At this point, growing this monster that controls every aspect of our lives that we have created seems to me to be the wrong direction. A day is coming when if you want a second opinion about your health problem, you will have to be stinking rich to get it. And without a growing tax base, those who need help the most are going to suffer the worst.

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  38. This is not an insult guys. Just an observation because I am a big student of history. The sit in’s in the 60’s could never have happened to the extent they did if mom and dad had not been paying for it. They were really the first generation with that sort of time/ financial freedom. The generation that came back from WW2 went to college on the GI bill and worked hard to make the 60’s generation able to do what they did.

    Did it affect change. Yes, in some instances like Vietnam. But spitting on the soldiers who came back and many still suffering from PTSD— was beyond the pale. That hatred of the Vietnam vet in those days was a horrible side product of that movement. Even our government wanted to forget them because of the backlash from that movement and getting votes. I mean all you had to do to get a deferment was go to college or change your major (later on). For the most part, the boots on the ground were those who were not college material. How is that for fairness?

    In my opinion not all the change was good. But not all was bad either.

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  39. Thanks, Jackie. I was inspired too, delighted to see young adults taking initiative. I grieve that they must live in these difficult times. That Occupiers remain working behind the scenes is encouraging.

    Protests look ridiculous in themselves, but it is the best way we know to hoist larger problems into public attention, esp when the media has become complicit in maintaining corruption.

    I hope there will be many more protests from all sides. Our gov’t no longer listens to us; love of money has been destroying it for a long time, now. And that’s something I think most of us agree on lol

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  40. “Our gov’t no longer listens to us; love of money has been destroying it for a long time, now. And that’s something I think most of us agree on lol”

    yep!

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  41. Lydia, all adults who read history bring bias with them, and few leave their reading fundamentally altered. That’s just how it is with us humans.

    I am not talking about “fair” and I am not talking about analysis, with which I’ve told you before that I mostly agree.

    I am talking about setting aside rancor and reaching across the aisle for the sake of our need. That you seem unprepared to do so is grievous.

    I’m sorry, everyone, that my passing remark to Gary W took this thread away from the fine post’s topic, and that I indulged myself. I will stop now.

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  42. Hi there,
    It wasn’t my intention to start a debate about sexuality – although I recognize that’s a “hot button” issue. I just used that as an example of how no ONE person or even a small group of people in my denomination have control over teaching and practice – that things are studied, debated, then voted on in our denomination’s convention that is attended by thousands from all over the country (lay people and clergy).
    I’m frankly surprised that my gender and occupation hasn’t come up more in the comments – although like sexuality, the ordination of women was determined by the whole denomination. Perhaps it’s not as controversial as I thought it would be here.
    Again, I just wanted people to see that there are places where accountability is important and built into the system, and that no one person or group of people has “dominion” over the members.
    Thank you everyone for your comments!

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  43. I was surprised there were no comments about you being a woman pastor, too, Lisa. But I did say at the top of the post that I’d like to focus on the checks and balances of your church system and not get diverted by the side issues. I’ve got great readers 🙂 ha!

    I appreciate you hanging around to add your comments!

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  44. “I am talking about setting aside rancor and reaching across the aisle for the sake of our need. That you seem unprepared to do so is grievous. ”

    Huh? I stay perpetually confused. Is my having an political opinion that differs from yours rancorous now? It sounds like only agreeing with you affirms “need”? I seriously do not get it. Can no one stand on principle without being “rancorous” now? I guess I am not really understanding where you are coming from. To be honest I have no idea what comment you are even responding to here.It is starting to seem like my being here is rancorous to you. I simply do not understand people who cannot disagree and then go have some coffee or something. Is that not how we sharpen iron and coming to grips on why we believe what we believe? Do you not have any libertarian friends? I have quite a few leftie friends. It makes life interesting.

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  45. Hmm. Someone said we don’t have to take the Bible too seriously. Just as long as we have a “lotta luv.” What’s love supposed to mean? Feeling good vibes 24/7?, Sitting around singing Kum ba Ya while we smoke weed? Hey I feel good and mellow. It must be Christian luv.

    Not in I Corinthians 13’s description of agape, but Paul was a bigoted sexist idiot so anything he wrote is culturally irrelevant, especially if unpopular with mainstream culture. Heaping together $500,000 or more for retirement, raising 2.3 kids with your smoking hot spouse (YOUR choice of gender) and keeping a smug bourgeois respectability to conform perfectly to the world around you.

    Who needs the fruits of the Spirit? We have our family centered, YUPPIE friendly megachurch!
    Let’s hear it for moral relativism. It’s all about feeling good, not doing good like Jesus did.

    Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and all the rest will fully embrace the LGBT… agenda very soon. Money and prestige are their real focus. If Nero wants you to worship him, be a good patriot and do it. Lions aren’t exactly good for your career or health. 🙂

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