A Response to “A Friend in Christ”

On Friday, September 13th I received a packaging in the mail.

  • There was no postal “canceling” stamp to indicate where it was sent from, though it looked beat up.
  • There was the proper amount of stamps on it, but was it really mailed?
  • There was no return address.
  • Inside was an envelope with my name, inside of it a letter written on lined paper.
  • (UPDATED 9/17) Also inside was a DVD, enclosed in a case, with the name GINA written on it.  This dvd includes two sermons from Mark Driscoll preaching about the proper roles for women and the sin of homosexuality.
  • I have attached a picture of the letter below for reference.

First, I am the first to acknowledge that, “sharing tough love” is not easy.  I have been approached by people who have addressed aspects of my life in the name of Christ, and I respect them for it.  I can admit that often people who come to me to address my life have the best in mind, but often I can comfortably respond to them and affirm that I am good with where I am in Christ, my life, etc.  But my point HERE is that I respect that they came to me, in love or otherwise, and had a face-to-face conversation with me from their heart – even if it was hard.  And those people remain my friends today.

However, an anonymous, no name, no return address, no NOTHING letter communicates cowardice to me.  It communicates not love, but judgment and condemnation.  It communicates that you are fearful, and if you are reaching out in love (even if the message is hard), why is there fear?  So if you sent the letter to me, please reach out to me as a real person with a real identity.  Those of my friends who have done so in person, in the past can attest that I am not belligerent, I am not unkind, nor will I attack.  They will also tell you that the love of God comes into the LIGHT and does not hide behind curtains or anonymous letters.  If you do decide to come forward and address me openly and personally, I will not reveal your name publicly or otherwise chastise you.  If you approve me sharing your name, I will, but that is the only means to which I will share it.

So, on to the activities today.  Because I don’t have your name; because you’re hiding behind the fear or judgment or whatever, I have to respond publicly to you.  I am sorry that it has come to it, but you’ve given me no alternative.  I often fail in approaching things logically and with the least amount of emotion when I have been made to feel attacked, but know that I have prayed hard and know that I write this from my heart.  Forgive me, but this will be long because I must address almost every line of the letter you sent.

But know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that your letter has violated me and my family.  Love does not do that.

You wrote, “Dear Gina, I am writing to you because I wanted you to know that Jesus loves you Gina.”

My response:  Thank you, though I have full knowledge of and an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, who is not only my Friend, but my Savior.  I spend time with Him, I talk to Him, I think of Him, I read His Word, and above all I rest securely in the center of His Finished Work.  His Love is so powerful that I cannot separate myself from it even if I tried.  It is eternal and I am saved, period.  IT IS FINISHED.  This is affirmed in John 1, John 10, Acts 20, Romans 3:20-24, Romans 4:15-17, Romans 5:1-2, Eph 2, and many, many more.  You may think, from where you sit in your “perfect life” that YOU know Jesus and I need to know Him like you do.  Rest assured, I already know Him and He loves me.

You wrote, “We as Christians must humble ourselves before God when we pray.  If you ask God for a good and godly husband, who will love you and cherish you, God will give you the desire of your heart.”

My response: Okay, know that I am humbling myself right now and praying to God, sincerely, because the offense to me and my family with these words is huge.  I am confident that my Lord can keep me from responding in the flesh, though He is encouraging me to be real and truthful.  First, I AM MARRIED – both legally (though only recognized in 13 states and by the Federal Government currently) and spiritually.  My marriage, whether or not you acknowledge it, is Biblically, spiritually, legally, and physically binding.  It is monogamous, prosperous, harmonious, and has been so for over ten years.  I am exceedingly cherished and treated far more lovingly than I could ever imagine.  And to that, which is a direct answer to prayer, I can affirm and Praise Jesus that HE DID give me the desire of my heart!  I have a beautiful and loving wife, five beautiful children, and His everlasting peace!  For you to suggest that, 1) this was not really, truly the desire of my heart and 2) to REALLY be fulfilled, I need to desire and marry a man is OFFENSIVE to me!  And, for what it is worth, I would never EVER suggest that you marry a WOMAN (assuming you’re a woman, which I base on the writing of the letter) if that is not how you were born.  Further, I certainly would not write to a person I knew was married and say they needed to pray for a DIFFERENT person to marry.  It is an affront and there is no love in these comments!

You wrote, “Philippines 4:6 (you didn’t note it, but this is the NASB version) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

My response:  I happen to love this verse, and just like the Bible teaches elsewhere, the Word does not return void.  I do thank you for this verse, but not in the context you meant it.  You see, I trust that the Lord, in His perfectness, knows that I come to Him as a broken vessel which is only made whole through His Life.  And I will confess to you in this letter that I went to Him specifically about your letter and to help me not cry from it – to not spiral from the pain it caused me and my family.  To not allow the yoke of condemnation in your words to suppress the love of God.  And then, I asked that my building anger would not boil over like a storm.  And THEN I went on to pray that He rebuke you as a person sitting in judgment, throwing stones from the dark at me and my family.  I confess that I called you a hypocrite and accused you of lacking love for others (especially me), while you claimed the name of Christ under the guise of “love”.  I shared with the Lord that you wrote to me for no other reason but to condemn me and to insinuate that I am somehow incomplete because I don’t have a husband.  And as I spewed out all these things to my Lord, Jesus showed me that I was acting just like you – the very thing I was ranting against –  in my anger and condemnation, and that made me cry all over again.

You see, Jesus does want us to follow Him, to not sin.  But we often forget that He covers our sin and only wants us to FOLLOW Him, and in doing so His spirit works its way and soon enough we sin less.  We become more like Him not by OUR power, but by HIS.  And He made it clear that the Royal Law is to love God and love others as ourselves (Matthew, James, John – tons of scriptures support this).  He even said to love our enemies!  And I will tell you here, your letter did NOT do that.  It did not show love, for love would never have sent it.  And my reaction was not loving, for love does not think of the weaknesses or failures of others as a means to justify punishment.  So yes, this verse is good to remember this ideal established by Christ, and to remind me specifically to always pray with supplication for Jesus to lead me in HIS ways, which is to love.  Period.  Especially for those who maybe don’t deserve that love.  He said in Matthew 5 that all the laws and the prophets hang on LOVE.  And I hope that when YOU truly approach Him in supplication, you hear His leadings about letters such as the one you sent me.  Maybe He will direct you to not send them, or to sign your name, or maybe to just pray for the people He leads you to.  That is between you and Him.  But I will say again, nothing about your letter spoke love to me.

You wrote, “It is hard for a man to find a good-hearted woman, such as yourself.  You have always been a beautiful woman inside and outside.”

My response:  Again, since I am married already, this comment is inappropriate.  I don’t think it is Biblically sound to encourage a married person to seek out another person other than their spouse.  Even still, if I were “on the market” I think it is a misfortune to tell me (or any woman) that I need to “help a guy out” because it’s hard for a man to find a good-hearted woman.  It is just as hard for a woman to find a good-hearted man, and yet I would not think to write to my single male friends and tell them they better get with God right away because of it!  Women and men don’t necessarily need the other to be complete or fulfilled.  It is an affront to singles today to say so.  And affront to God’s plan for their lives.  Paul wrote that some are called to be single, others to marriage.  Who are WE to say what is “normal” or “right”?  We need to stop acting for God and saying what others need to do or pray for.

So I am ASSUMING the real concern here is that I am married to a woman, which is clearly a sin in your eyes.  To that, I would like to say with all sincerity that I am not called to convince you to think otherwise and I appreciate that is the view you  may hold.  However, I will not bow to your view that I am somehow not a full woman or a full Christian.  I am actually quite complete and fulfilled and again, rest in my place as a Child of God and accept the full inheritance His has given me.  I will also refrain from thinking you’re less of a Christian for your letter, though I am still working on that and am concerned that your stance damages the testimony of Christ to non believers and those who are jaded by Christians such as your letter presents.  Thank you for your comments about me being beautiful, however.  I wonder, truly, if you even know me though.

You wrote, “I hope these words find there (sic) way into your heart and encourage you to seek the Lord.  Let the Holy Spirit guide you in all that you say and do.”

My response:  Your words broke my heart.  They offended my heart, for I approach my marriage seriously and with my entire heart.  They did NOT draw me closer to God in any way, shape, or form.  It was the Holy Spirit in me that drew me to Him.  And I praise Jesus for His encouragement despite your letter.

And yet, it is obvious that you believe, to be a REAL woman and a REAL Christian, I am in need of a man as a husband.  And by your words, I need to “seek the Lord”.  I can only assume you mean I need to understand that I am in sin because I am in a same sex marriage.  Again, it is not my calling to convince you to believe otherwise.  But I WOULD like to ask you this – let’s say you once were a heroine addict, took part in orgies, were married and divorced and remarried, even took heroine during your first pregnancy that resulted in altering your child’s life when born.  If I sent you a letter saying “you need to seek the Lord and marry a different man”, do you think that would make you run to Jesus?  How about if you were fat and I walked up to you and said, “you need to seek the Lord because your gluttony is a sin, and for heck sake take that food out of your mouth” would that make you want to hug me and say “Praise Jesus?”  Show me an example in the Bible where Jesus condemned anyone but the ones that thought they understood God such as the Pharisees or those selling goods in His name in the Temple?  The woman caught in adultery He forgave and said “go and sin no more” and then gave her the means to stop sinning by dying on the cross!  The woman at the well He told her she was living with a man, and yet He never said “but you need to change your ways.”  We can both learn from this my anonymous friend.  ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  You.  Me.  Everyone. We are NOT called to point out the sins we both commit or see each other doing, but to LOVE.  Period.  And if you honestly think your letter encouraged me to CHANGE, you are seriously mistaken.  Instead, it has made me more aware of the pain caused by people who profess faith with their mouths (or pens, as it were) yet lack its power in their deeds.  For Jesus said His yoke is easy, and His LOVE endures forever.  Show me the LOVE.  It doesn’t reside in your letter.

You wrote, “Sincerely, A Friend in Christ.”

My response:  If you were really my friend, you would have signed your name.  If you were really my friend, you would not tell me to leave my wife, break up my family, and become whole by marrying a man.  You would not cause me to turn my heart from the person I committed my LIFE to, for richer or for poorer, through sickness or in health.  I assume you hold marriage in high regard, and yet your letter tears marriage to shreds.  You have no respect for the sanctity of marriage or all it stands for.

So here are some Biblical scriptures.

Luke 6:31 NIV “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Luke 6:37-42 NIV “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  

He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

James 4:12 ESV “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

Romans 14:1-10 NIV “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.  One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 

1 Cor 13 NIV (emphasis mine)  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

THE DVD You Sent

Mark Driscoll is not my pastor.  I personally find his view of the Bible as slanted and misogynistic.  In the future, if you want me to “get” what you’re saying, you probably should not send me something that Mark is speaking on.  I affirm your right to esteem his views and words, and I know that God works out all things for those that love Him.  I know Mark claims to love Jesus, so that is enough for me.  However, I choose not to follow Mark’s teachings.  Thanks.

Again, I encourage you to reach out and tell me who you are so that you can be removed from the darkness and come into the light as followers of Christ are called to do.

Anonymous Letter

A Change of Pace – Not About Chick-Fil-A

I tell you, it’s been a crazy week for me!  LOTS of roller coaster rides emotionally, but I can say as I sit and write this, I know and feel the love of Christ envelop me.  And am reminded to walk in HIS love, and love others as He has taught, and then the rest will fall into place.  But I digress.

Today I would like to share my beliefs about something, and especially this week I learned that everyone has a right to have and share their beliefs.  The spirit of this sharing is not in order to convince you to think the way I do, to point out how wrong it is for you to believe what you do, or anything like that.  It is to share WHY I believe what I do and I hope for one goal – that you can understand MY position.  If any reader feels they need to share THEIR opinion, via public comment or private message to me, that’s fine.  Just please use the same spirit of not telling me or anyone else why MY feelings are “wrong” or yours are “right”.  Focus on why you believe it, period.

Topic of the Day:  Marriage vs Civil Union

During the course of this week, I have heard several sub-topics pop-up as either reference points or proving points within the bigger Chick-Fil-A/Free Speech/Freedom of Religion debate chain.  Some honestly made me roll my eyes (I’ve posted here before how the whole “Adam and Eve vs Adam and Steve has always made me react), though many were shared intelligently and without as much perceived venom.  One such topic was Marriage vs Civil Unions.  And that got me to thinking.

The premise presented (and it was presented in a friendly way) that the issue this person had is that her religion does not accept or approve of same-sex marriage, so to have the government FORCE it or elevate it above her religious beliefs was offensive to her.  However, if Civil Unions were legalized and offered the exact same legal rights and benefits as marriage to same-sex couples, which in her mind also meant it didn’t include her religion or beliefs, she was cool with that.  That way, both groups could be treated equally without the infringement on religious beliefs.

At first, I have to admit this sounded cool to me.  I mean, some of my biggest concerns as a lesbian is that my wife (and remember, we were legally married in New York, so I can say that) will not receive social security benefits, may be excluded from me if I were in the hospital, would have to potentially pay inheritance taxes on the house we purchased together as we are not seen as relatives, and really……the State of Texas (and bunches of others) don’t even recognize my marriage at all.  So, my first response was,”Yeah, give me a Civil Union and make sure the legality is recognized at the State and Federal level, and I’d be cool with it.”  Because really, MY God approves of my relationship so I already have that piece and this would add the missing pieces.

But then I started to think more deeply about this and realized, TO ME, this is only a partial solution.  And admittedly, I’d take it in a heartbeat today, but I would not stop supporting the efforts for full marriage equality until it comes to fruition or I die.  Why?  Let me explain.

I contend such a structure does not promote Equality OR Freedom of Religion!

  • Marriage is absolutely a religious covenant – I don’t dispute it.  But there are members of religions who do not see same-sex marriage as outside their belief system.  While I am not promoting forcing ANY church to perform marriages to same-sex couples if it is against their beliefs (and really, would YOU want to get married in such a church?), to not allow churches who have no problem to perform a marriage in their church to same-sex marriage is not equality.  Both should have a RIGHT to do so, or not do so, as they see fit based on their religious beliefs.  That allows Freedom of Religion.
  • Marriage, whether some view it as a religious right, is not EXCLUSIVELY a religious right.  I was married in the state of California (and you must accept this marriage, for it was to a wonderful man) and it became a legally binding document within the county in which I was married, as well as the State of California.  That legal documents proved to the Federal Government my status, and that of my husband, and allowed us to file taxes together, own property together as family members, share insurance policies, gave us breaks, social security benefits, etc.  In fact, THAT side comes whether we would have married in the church, on the beach, or at the county court via “civic ceremony” with a judge marrying us.  In fact, as the laws stand now, ATHEISTS can get married, get a marriage license, and there is no limitation to their access.  Marriage is a legal definition of a status, not just a religious profession of love, already in our country.  So implying that this “religion only” policy needs to be protected is not valid and, to me, means it is being requested to exclude a specific group of people.  That is not equality.
  • But you may say, okay Gina, I don’t dispute most of the above at all.  But bend a little – Civil Unions will be the same under the law.  But I contend, why the need for “segregation” of groups of people if the law has the same rights?  What if I got a job and my new boss didn’t know I was a lesbian and his personal beliefs were that gays go to hell (and he has a right to believe that)?  Let’s say when I turned in my documents for  insurance, he sees that I have a Civil Union instead of a Marriage certificate?  Whether or not he acts on this knowledge is not the point – I have been put in a place of “being different” than my coworker for no other reason than to “protect religion/marriage”.  I contend that is not equality.  Just as if a religion, who requires boys to be circumcised as a religious right, demand birth certificates for those who choose to NOT circumcise  a “Civil Certificate” instead of a “Birth Certificate”.  Whether or not you agree, at the very core we are segregating based on religious beliefs and that is not equality under our Constitution.
  • I do not accept that my legal marriage destroys your marriage, if I am allowed legally to have one – any more than a drug addict causes you to take drugs.  It still allows you to believe that same-sex marriage is wrong and you have the right to never, ever do it yourself.  Further, your status of a legally married person does not get limited, watered down.  When I got married legally in the State of New York, there was not a line of straight married couples whose marriages became less meaningful, real, or legal.  In fact, my very same-sex RELATIONSHIP has not changed anything about yours.  But, you might argue the “idea and traditions will be shattered”.  Again, what about all those atheists getting married?  What about multiple marriages after multiple divorces?   What aren’t you seeking to block THOSE hinderances to “traditional marriage”.  What is YOUR traditional marriage definition?  I have two co-workers who can’t agree on this; one says it means never getting divorced and staying married until you die.  The other says it means marriage between a man and a woman.  When I asked why both believe that, they say, “it’s always been that way”.  (I won’t argue that divorce has been around since Moses’ time – that is another conversation all together!).  You get the drift – why does ONE view get escalated above others?  What makes it truly right?  Do we, as Americans, demand that every law tie directly back to OUR version of the Bible?  That is not upholding the Constitution to me, because my view is that all Americans have a right to Religious Freedom, which includes NOT believing what I believe or anything else.  So using Biblical Principles (for which I follow closely, by the way) to define marriage as between one man and one woman “as God intended” is in direct contrast with Freedom of Religion.
  • This whole premise just really categorizes Americans, which is really a duplication of something I’ve already said.  But WHY do we as Americans fight so hard to keep everyone in boxes, either to elevate or demonize?  Why can’t EVERYONE sit at the counter for lunch?  Why, instead, or we suggesting that we build TWO counters – one for straights, one for gays – and then everyone will be happy?  Because that right away creates TWO lines to get into the restaurant (or some point of “weeding out” straights and gays).  And that makes it clear, the MAJORITY of straight people want me to stay away from them.  And that is not equality.
  • To sum it up, Civil Unions (to ME) says “your union is not moral enough/sacred enough/accepted enough/mainstream enough/whatever enough to be called a marriage”.  And that is not equality.  And that is not American.

So, now I need to go to work, where I pay my taxes each paycheck like any good American.  And this American is looking forward to the day that I can get married, like my co-worker that sits next to me, looks like me, works like me, and maybe even votes like me.  But the laws today say they have something I don’t, even as I pay taxes, avoid breaking the law, etc.  I can appreciate ANY American not liking my sexual orientation and agree it’s not cool when LGBT shove it in people’s faces.  But I don’t like a lot of things about Americans around me (and I am not talking about “illegal activity”) but is it okay for me to create law after law to control things I don’t like?  No smoking, no more fast food and fat Americans, no more broccoli because it’s just gross, my parents never ate sushi so why should Americans?  You get it.  America is not one to dictate our beliefs, but this whole “traditional marriage” thing smells of dictatorship to me – not the belief part, but the forcing those beliefs on all Americans.

Again, I am curious as to WHY you believe what you do.  But please remember to be kind!  And thanks for honoring my right to freedom of speech.

Chick-Fil-A – The Right to An Opinion

I have no issue with Mr. Cathy or anyone else sharing their opinion.  Lord knows, I’ve spent a week or so reading how I am repugnant, an abomination, want to kill Christians or at least persecute their faith, and a whole lot of other claims that are, in a word, ridiculous.  And in another word, hurtful.  But even still, that’s Mr. Cathy’s right as an American to believe what he wants, spend what he has on whatever law or platform, share it with a religious publication, etc……

But I cannot ignore this anymore.  And instead of trying to explain MY beliefs or insist that me SHARING them is not trying to shut up the Christian Platform……I will instead share this post.  Please read it with an open mind, at least as my friend.