Last Time I Checked

Last time I checked, everyone in this country is entitled to their own opinion.  But it seems that if you have too many conservative people on your “friends” list, having an opinion is immediately offensive and should be shot down.  Which is why I don’t often share my opinion anywhere outside of this blog and the people that I talk to face to face.  I’m not great at arguing.  I don’t like to argue.  But I know what I stand for.  I know what I believe in.

I believe in a loving God that cares more about who I am than who we are than who we are attracted to.  He cares more about his pursuit of us and our pursuit of him than our individual “mistakes” or how conservative or liberal we are.  He is a forgiving God.  He is a relentless God.  And he cherishes every moment we spend with him.

I was listening to the BadChristian Podcast, and they were talking about Christians and abortion, now versus the early 70s and before.  Before abortion became a political issue for Christians, it seems like the Church cared a lot more about the individual women.  A single young woman would find herself pregnant with a child she was not ready for (because that’s what I believe abortion comes down to, essentially) and she would see abortion as the only option.  Maybe because her family would disown her.  Maybe because she knew she didn’t have enough money to raise a child.  Or maybe because, even if she adopted the child out, she couldn’t afford to keep working her job while pregnant.  So the Church would help these women.  Maybe help them find families for adoption, or maybe give them sanctuary from a family that will no longer accept them.  Or maybe help them with a job or with money so they can take the needed time off of work.  But then Republicans wanted to find a way to get the Christian vote, so they made abortion a political issue.  And it’s almost as if the women ceased to matter, only the babies that may or may not be killed.  Even though (I haven’t researched this, only got it from the podcast) the abortion rate hasn’t really gone up since Roe vs. Waide, it’s just become safer.
And none of this is to say that I’m pro abortion.  But I am about as pro choice as I am pro life.

So, I live in Alabama, and I decided, for the first time ever, to vote.  I voted for Doug Jones, even though he’s okay with late term abortions.  Because I don’t think that this belief that he holds is going to affect any laws, because he is one man, and this is a democracy, and most other people are going to vote agains late term abortions, if they ever vote on it anyway.  Roy Moore has a lot of allegations against him about sexual harassment, especially against teenagers when he was in his thirties.  I’m not comfortable with him being in our senate, thus, I couldn’t vote for him.  People are getting upset at me because these allegations aren’t 100% proven.  Because a woman’s word obviously isn’t important enough.  These women didn’t know each other.  It’s not like they had some plan to make him look bad so he wouldn’t get elected.  And whether they’re all true or not, the chance that they could be true is enough for me.  I wouldn’t want to work for someone that women had said harassed them.  I wouldn’t want someone like that as my leader.  I know what harassment is like, not to the extent of these women, but still.  We already willingly elected a man like this to be our president.  We already have several in our senate.  I just didn’t want one more.

Women are not meat or property, they are equal.  People with a darker skin tone are not worth less or property, they are equal.  People of a different sexual orientation are not dirty or sick or tainted, they are equal.  It doesn’t make sense to me why anyone would believe any less.  All humans were created equal.  I can’t be convinced to vote for someone who obviously believes otherwise.  And I’m not going to apologize for that.

Leader

Husband as leader
Really bothers me
Husband as head
Must have been cultural
Because today, women are strong
Today, women are equal
Today, women are independent

I want to live my own life
And let his supplement mine
And vice versa

He is not my leader
Nor am I his
Equals
Partners
In love and in life

Not with two heads
But with no head
Shoulders above all of this
Part of the body

Be Kind to Each Other

I work at Starbucks.  No, I’m not an advocate for Starbucks and I don’t worship the siren, but I do think it’s the best company I’ve ever worked for.  They care about their employees and they care about their customers.  But they’re also a fairly liberal company, just like I’m a fairly liberal person.  And you know who likes to give Starbucks shit for no reason other than to have something to complain about or to have something be the enemy?  Overly conservative people.  And most people assume that all Christians are overly conservative.  I’m not.  I don’t.

Last year, people threw a fit saying Starbucks was trying to take Christ out of Christmas.  Because they did minimalist cups.  I never really understood how those correlated.  But, people have been blaming companies for taking Christ out of Christmas for as long as I remember.  And, as someone who works for the company, I’ve realized that Starbucks celebrates Christmas harder than most.  And I used to work in hospitality.

I had heard that people were coming into stores and giving a certain name to be written on their cup.  I wasn’t sure if it was real.  I didn’t care all that much.  I just feel the need to mention why Starbucks likes to have names on their cups.
First off, it makes the coffee experience more personal (their words, not mine).  It also helps to identify drinks, so if ten people order white mochas, you know which one is yours.  Trying to make it political or whatever is pointless.  It just causes problems.  And no one really cares if you want to put a fake name on your cup to be funny.  You’ll still know that it’s your drink.
Anyway, I had heard that people want Starbucks baristas to write “Trump” on their cups.  And they were going to complain if the barista didn’t call out the name.  Last week, I was on bar with another guy I work with, another Christian, and a woman came in and told her friends she was going to see if she could get a rise out of someone.  She said her name was Trump.  My shift, who took the order, came and told us, so we would be aware of the situation.  We weren’t supposed to make a big deal out of it.
So, I ended being the barista who got to make her drink.  And I made a decision.  Most of the people I work with don’t always call out the names on the cups, they just say the drink.  I decided to do that as well.  So, I called out her mocha as a mocha, and called out the next drink as a pumpkin spice latte, because that’s what they were.  Most of the other drinks we were making were for the drive thru.
When she came to pick up her drink, she loudly asked if it was hers.  Both of the baristas making drinks, myself and my coworker, were pretty busy with other drinks.  I told her if she ordered a grande mocha, it might be hers.  She turned to her friends and complained that we called out the drink, but not the name.  Then another of her friends came to ask me, while I was obviously trying to work, if it was her drink.  I politely told him that I wasn’t sure, but that it might be.  I was preoccupied.  Then he left, and when he came back, he asked for my name, then they all left the store.
See, this situation to me sounds like it would be a group of self-righteous teenagers acting up for no reason.  But no, these were adults, most likely in their forties.  I didn’t realize it was so hard to grow up.

It really bums me out that I’m grouped with these people.  Regardless of what you believe about Trump or Starbucks or Christianity, it matters to me that people are kind to each other.  Yes, Trump is our president.  No, he is not kind, so I find it hard to support him.  However, I do believe in praying for our leaders.  As a citizen of this country, Trump is my leader.  And this is a really hard time for people like me.  This is a hard time for feminist Christians.  It’s a time where it’s hard to voice and be okay with what you believe.  But causing division is not the way.
Be conservative, whatever.  But don’t try to make people angry purely because you can.  Purely because they believe more freely than you do.  Purely because they might have a more open mind.  Purely because you disagree.
I’m into loving and accepting people first.  Which means loving and accepting overly conservative people just as much as it means loving and accepting someone who might think I’m close minded simply because I’m a Christian.  All people are equal.  Be kind to each other.

Blogging Everyday in July|Guys, Girls, Friends

Over the years I’m sure I’ve talked about guy-girl relationships before.  And in this moment I’m not sure why we make a deal out of it.  Can guys and girls be just friends?  Why is that a question?  Obviously the answer is always yes, but it’s as if so many people don’t want it to be.  But that’s not even what I was planning on writing about today.

I am one of those girls who connects more with guys.  I always have.  Maybe it’s because I had an older brother and grew up in the middle of nowhere and liked doing things outside.  “Boy things.”  That’s what they called hiking and camping and riding bikes and playing in the dirt when I was a kid.  Now they’re just “things that people do, regardless of their gender.”  Because people are trying again to realize the equality of the genders.  But again, I digress.
My mother wanted me to be a tomboy.  I wasn’t allowed to be a girl scout because she hated it when she was a child.  I wasn’t allowed to be a cheerleader because she didn’t want me cheering for boys.  If I was going to be on the field at a sports game, I better be playing.
But now she wants me to wear lipstick and dress like a lady, so I’m not entirely sure how this all makes sense.  The first time she heard me swear she blamed the “guys I hang out with.”  Because curse words aren’t said by females, I guess.  Sorry, I’ll stop.

When I am in a room of people, I naturally find myself sitting with a group of guys.  I seek out guy friendships before girl friendships, until I become aware of it.  In high school, almost all of my friends were guys and they made all the guy jokes and it didn’t matter that there was a girl in the room.  In college, I had a few choice female friends, and then a lot of guy friends.  That’s how it is everywhere I go in life.  And this isn’t because I’m subconsciously looking for a boyfriend.  I don’t date or develop feelings for most of my guy friends, and I’m sure they could say the same for me.  We just get along.
And it’s not even that I don’t like hanging out with girls.  My best friend is a girl.  And since I’ve moved to Florence, I’ve made a point to develop some strong female friendships.  A group of us have a Bible study/hang out every Thursday.  And I’m so thankful for it.  But part of the reason I want strong female friendships is because it seems like it’s time.  Like I’ve finally started to believe this lie that guys and girls can’t be just friends.  That it’s always something more on one end.  Or that all of my guy friends will be intimidating to a future partner.  But this isn’t true.  I don’t know what is true.

I like people.  I like friends, old and new.  I like that we can make the world a better place if we try to.  I like that although we are all flawed, we make a kaleidoscope of good intentions.  I get that genders are different.  But also, I don’t.  I understand anatomy and thinking.  But hearts and souls are the same.  Can’t we all just be friends?

Blogging Everyday in July|A Poem About Mass Attacks

I’m sure everyone is aware of the shooting that happened at Pulse, the club in Orlando.  It was a terrible thing to happen.  Any shooting is a terrible thing.  Any mass killing spree is a terrible thing.  And a lot of them seem to happen in the name of something, whether it’s a god someone believes in or something that a person believes that they stand for.  Battles like this are things that I try to stay out of.  My thoughts are controversial for some Christians.
I believe that if I follow the God that I say I do, then my first job is to love.  God loves and accepts his children.  Whether or not we live the way he originally created us to or not is besides the point.  So I choose to love and accept everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, preference, or religion.  I hope that everyone would act the same toward me, but that’s not always the case.  Not every person knows how to love.

The man responsible for that shooting, it is assumed, did it because he believes homosexuality is wrong.  However, it has since come out that he “struggled” with homosexuality himself.  I put struggled in quotes, because once accepted, sexual orientation is no longer a struggle.  One only struggles when one is resisting something they believe is wrong or sinful.  (In my opinion, of course).  So he hated something he saw in himself.

In saying all of this, after the shooting I felt compelled to write a poem about conviction.  I don’t usually explain my poetry, but there you go.

Conviction
Maybe it’s conviction
That causes so much pain
Believing so strongly that something is wrong
Then finding it within your own self
Must be terrifying
There is either hatred or acceptance
So many choose wrong

This whole world might be broken
Thought it was held together by perfect beliefs
Beliefs that keep getting challenged
It’s not so black and white anymore
Finding more truth in the grey areas than we’d care to admit

How could someone live their life that way?
Is it sin nature?
Or just sin?
Or could it honestly just be nature?
Something we found we hated in our genetic code
Refusing to evolve with it
Resisting until we feel we might just give in
Or give up
Take a gun to your head
Or harm someone else in this wrongful conviction

Definition of Equal

There are few things about me, some slight annoyances, that maybe aren’t common knowledge.  See, I don’t believe in gender roles.  I don’t believe that I ever have.  Women don’t have the job to cook, clean, and take care of the household.  And men are not required to provide.  I guess I am an egalitarian, in that I believe men and women are equal and that neither gender is superior or more important than the other.  The thing is, I grew up believing that this was common knowledge.  Because my parents are equal and my mother is a very feminist in her ways, I always assumed that women had proven their equality decades ago.  Which is why in my classes over the last few years I found it rather trivial to have entire sections dedicated to women in leadership and women in ministry.  Although I knew that there were some scholars who believe that women truly are lower than men, I always considered their beliefs on the matter as unimportant, because they could not be proven.  I never thought I would encounter someone who saw me, as a woman, below them simply because I am female.  When I jokingly implied that he did not believe men and women are equal he said of course that they weren’t.  To be equal is to be the same, and men and women are not the same.  He believes the definition of equal is to be “the same,” and although that is part of the definition, it is not the whole definition.  Even though men are men and women are women, and they cannot be mistaken for one another, this does not lessen their equality in any way.  To be equal, according to the dictionary definition, is to have the same rights, status, or opportunities.  So to dumb down the meaning to simply being the same is an insult to anyone who has ever had to fight for their rights.  We are not numbers in a math problem; we are human beings.  All humans are unique; there is no identical DNA, so saying that women and men are not equal because they are not “the same” is to say that no two people are equal at all.  In Genesis 1:27 it says that God created adam (the Hebrew word for man, or human) in His own image; male and female He created them.  We are all equally created in God’s image, so are we not equal in the most important sense of reality?  I believe that this makes us equal on every standpoint.

Now, it appears I have gotten ahead of myself.  I was talking about annoyances.  There are two other things that annoy me when I have to use them, even though I see them as necessary.  I hate apologetics, and I hate discussing theology.  Why?  Simply because I am horrible at arguing when I see my point clearly.  I am good at seeing both sides, but when others are as stubborn as I am when I believe I am right, I get frustrated and tongue tied.  So when I find that all the other people in the room have been indoctrinated and forced into some gender role mold, my frustration grows and I would rather leave than cause a rift in someone’s faith.  I think that arguing theology among Christians causes way more problems than it solves.  There are so many things that we can never know for sure, such as predestination or the security of the believer.  I know what I believe on the subjects, but I don’t see the point in getting into an argument over it, because it affects my salvation in no way.  What I’m saying is that the only important things that we can know for sure is that God created us, we sinned, God loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins, and Christ then rose from the dead, thus conquering death.  That is salvation.  All else eventually fades.

Back to what I was saying about women in leadership.  Jim W. Adams, one of my former professors, pointed out to me that many scholars believe women to be in a subservient role to men because they were created second.  Genesis 2:18 says that adam was not meant to be alone, so God created a companion.  However, using this created order as means falls flat, as humans were the last thing that God created.  Using this logic, man is lower than all other created thing.  And using the created order in the opposite direction, making man the pinnacle of all creation, as he was created last, in actuality makes woman the pinnacle of all creation.  This is not the case either.  If one follows the narrative, there was no helper among the animals to match Adam, thus suggesting equality.  Woman was created to be his helper in equality.  No hierarchy is suggested in the Genesis text.
When Jesus came to earth, he came as a social revolutionist.  Other self-proclaimed Messiah’s tried to overthrow the government, but Jesus instead demonstrated how humans should relate to one another.  He does not discuss how women and men should relate, but instead shows how they should relate.  In His time, women were treated and viewed in negative terms.  Jesus instead treated women with dignity and respect, showing how God thinks about women and how significant and valuable women are among the people of God.  In His parables, Jesus even uses women the represent God, such as the parable of the yeast in Matthew 13:33 or the parable of the lost coin in Luke 15:8-10.  In that time women were forced into the domestic roles of housewife and mother, much like where some people believe women still belong today.  However, Jesus invited women to be His disciples, in equal standing with men.  An example of this is the Mary and Martha story in Luke 10:38-42.  Mary takes the posture of a disciple and sits eagerly at Jesus’ feet while Martha is busying herself with domestic work.  Jesus corrects Martha when she complains, saying that Mary chose the thing that was needed.
Jim W. Adams goes on the point out the most remarkable of revelations.  Throughout the trial of Christ, before, during, and after His crucifixion, it is the women who stay close, when all of the male disciples virtually vanish from the scene.  When Jesus is raised from the dead, the first people He appears to are His women disciples, who unhesitantly believe and then rush to tell the 12.  However, the 12 are at first doubtful.  The funny thing about this situation is that women are the first to preach the Gospel, whereas the first recipients of the Gospel message are men.
The question as to why women are not then considered equal to men, even after the previously mentioned accounts found in Matthew 28 and in Luke 24, is one the baffles me.  The big verse that allows women to be squashed in patriarchy is found in 1 Timothy 2:11-15, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.  For  Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.  But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”  Apparently when looking at ministerial leadership, scholars have allowed for Paul to trump the Son of God.  Decisions on interpretation come from direct commands, which Paul gives in his letters, rather than what is seen in narrative.  This one passage in Timothy has become the end-all for women’s roles in the Church, even though Paul, the author, does not even hold a consistent conclusion on women’s role.
In Philippians 4:2, Euodia and Syntyche are asked to live in harmony as they lead, rather than rebuked for holding leadership roles.  Paul holds these two women, in verse 3, as equal standing with him when he calls them his fellow workers.  Within other letters Paul urges believers to submit to his fellow workers, which we see obviously include women.  The mark of the Christian is no longer circumcision, but rather it is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit decides leadership and gifts, rather than gender.
When Paul asks that the women in the Ephesian church to then learn in quietness, he means to take a quiet posture as they learn, rather than one of arrogance that interrupts.  He says he does not allow for a woman to have authority over a man, but the Greek word he uses for authority as a rare one, authenteo.  This puts authority in a negative connotation of usurping or domineering authority.  Looking at the situation, this text suggests that women were trying to take the authority away from the men, instead of leading in equality.

I could keep going, but this blog has already gone on much longer than my usual.  What is important to remember in any interpretation is the original purpose for the text, because although it is Scripture, Paul’s letters are also situational.  You should not zoom in on one text without looking at its purpose.  That is how confusion happens are people are led astray.  But I digress.  If you would like a continuation of this study, or have questions that I can answer, I guess let me know via comments.  However, although I did graduate from a Bible college with my degree in Transformational Ministry, I do not consider myself a scholar, so answering questions may be hard for me.  A majority of my research was influenced by Jim W. Adams and his article entitled “Reflections on Biblical Interpretation, Women, Men, and Leadership in the Church.”  Another blogger to check out, who is much more knowledgeable than I am in this subject would be Rachel Held Evans.  She is a blogger who discusses theology in depth.

I always become very nervous when discussing topics that are so much bigger than myself, so I hope that this comes across clearly and not as something that is offensive.  I just really don’t like being put in a mold simply because I am female.