Eyes to see.

Alright, beloveds: we gotta talk about how easy it is to interpret the Bible for our own personal satisfaction.

Are you not guilty of this? I know I am.

On Monday of this week, I met two women protestors standing outside of a Planned Parenthood facility while on my way to a physical therapy appointment nearby. On a bit of a whim, I politely and sincerely asked them to tell me why they choose to stand there with their signs, what they are hoping to achieve through this demonstration, and why this issue means so much to them.

Alongside their seemingly sincere love for unborn babies, and professed love for the women who feel desperate enough to terminate a pregnancy, I also heard them express a lot of rage about Planned Parenthood in general. Anecdotally, I mentioned to them that when I did not have health insurance in 2007-2009, I received two annual exams, the HPV vaccine, and a birth control prescription from a Planned Parenthood provider. I’m aware that they also offer cancer screenings, although I did not mention this at the time.

One of the women standing there responded to me then by saying, “well, when I think of that, I think about the ‘double-minded man’ in the Bible, and I know I need to be single-minded. It doesn’t matter if these facilities sometimes do good things, they also do the worst thing, and I can’t be double-minded about it.”

Her explanation troubled me considerably, and here’s why: there is a verse in the book of James Chapter 1, which says “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (1:8, KJV). Fine. Now, let’s zoom out for second, and observe this verse in it’s context:

5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do”. – James 1:5-8, NIV

James encourages his reader to not be double-minded, or doubting, regarding their faith in God’s generosity. In other words, he may as well be saying, “when you ask God for wisdom, believe that He will give it you. If you do not believe that He will give it to you, you won’t be available to receive it”.

Do you see?

This scripture does NOT say: “when you decide that you alone know the mind and will of God on any one subject, make sure to dig into that conviction as hard as you can, and do not waiver from your opinion even if you are presented with contradictory information, or your fate will be that of a double-minded man”.

That’s not double-minded, that’s closed-minded, and that is in no way related to the instruction James gives the early church in this part of his letter.

I sincerely, and urgently believe that we HAVE TO make a commitment to examine our spiritual assumptions – in an ongoing way no matter how uncomfortable that may feel to each of us sometimes. Otherwise, we risk carrying around belief systems that are unsubstantiated and lifeless at best — or corrosive and dangerous at worst.

 

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Ears to hear.

I have been silent on this page for months now.

Here’s why: I got completely swallowed up by the US election, and my fears about it. I prayed – although probably not enough. I organized – but probably not enough. I tried to share information in the face of misinformation – it didn’t penetrate, even if it was enough.

Naively, I thought that Christians – people onto whom I project courage and conviction and clear-sightedness – would save us from a Donald Trump presidency. I forgot that politics has taken over churches all across the country, and that in many places – and in many hearts – the gospel has become Republican.

Hear this: I don’t think the gospel is a Democratic one either. It belongs to no political party or government. My concern is that there’s an enormous amount of human beings out there, with enormous cultural influence, who believe otherwise. There’s a Facebook page called the Christian Left, and even if they share information which I find palatable and accurate more often than not, they are making a mistake by trying to balance out the Religious Right by claiming that God is on the Left.

Over the weekend, I decided to stop talking and writing and emoting at all of the human beings that were willing to listen to me, and do a bit more listening. So, it just so happens that the only people I know – personally – who voted for Trump identify as Christians. Consequently, I’ve been listening to a lot of self-identified Christians over the last 48 hours. I’ve also been reading all the social media comments and articles and blog posts. All the things.

And, it has been a discouraging and confusing exercise for me. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to hear someone quote the Bible accurately, nor contextually, re: their religious imperative to vote for Trump.

Hear this: I’m not suggesting that I know the Bible better than anyone else that has devoted their time and energy to knowing it well. However, I am suggesting that I know it well enough to be able to “smell a rat”, and I’ve run into an overwhelming amount of rat smells out there parading around as the “sweet fragrance of God” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

This makes me feel ill, and also makes me want to mobilize.

One of the biggest road-blocks for me in all of my writing endeavors has been about wanting to have a clear, unpolluted, unassailable message. I did not want to mix Jesus up with politics, and I did not want to mix Jesus up with personal opinions. I still don’t, actually…. BUT, it seems the time has come to start unpacking all the noise in my brain no matter how messy, because I feel convicted to do so.

Hear this: it will not be perfect.

I am confident that I will regret some of the things that I say or do or write or believe, but I am going to keep going anyways. And then I will apologize for the things I said or did or wrote or believed if my future-self discovers that they were reactive or uniformed. Yet, I think I will also pledge to leave them out there – unedited by my future self – so the process is honest, and the room for accountability is real.

Feel free to graciously part ways with me now, or later, or never. But here I go….

An open letter to “Evangelical Christians”:

Written on November 9th, 2016, on the morning after the US election:

Dear “evangelical Christians”:

Here’s a brief Bible refresher for you, because based on the way many of you voted yesterday, I assume you haven’t been reading it.

“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49).

“”Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25: 34-40).

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22: 37-40).

HELP ME UNDERSTAND.

— Whitney Roberts Logan’s personal Facebook page.