Monday, June 25, 2007

Naked...and Unashamed

I guess today has just been a pensive day. Perhaps it’s because I finally have a day off from work, who knows. Regardless, the fact remains that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking today. Most recently, I’ve been thinking about how you recognize “the one”. You know, how you know this is who you should marry. Now, I’ve read many books on marriage and gone to women’s conferences where such topics were discussed. Typically, the married women I know say that “when you know, you’ll know”, which is a long way from helpful. I know that God will reveal to me, in time, who I should marry and when, but sometimes patience is a virtue I don’t have. That doesn’t mean that I’m off getting engaged to every man I meet, but It does mean that I ponder and wonder and dream sometimes. Recently, one of my guy friends talked about maturity in a relationship being indicative of an impending engagement/marriage. My devotional talked about how many types of intimacy must be present such as emotional, spiritual, social, recreational, physical, etc. Now, admittedly, I don’t know what all of those types of intimacy actually entail; so, don’t quiz me on them, but I was thinking about intimacy, maturity and marriage…and how they fit together. I realized that my relationship with my boyfriend is not really intimate. Now, I don’t know what social and recreational intimacy are, but I was thinking about Adam and Eve and how the two were able to stand before each other “naked and unashamed”. I think that those words are powerful. I mean, to naked is to be vulnerable…to remove all your armor and show yourself in a raw and natural state. I wonder if perhaps that is what intimacy is…to be naked with one another. I’m not saying that means you need to be without clothing while you talk about your feelings or while you are taking part in some recreational activity or while you worship, but that you are unguarded and allow yourself to be truly vulnerable. Perhaps, a good indicator of being prepared to marry your significant other is when you can be naked and unguarded in more than one of those intimate situations and know that the other person will love you unconditionally, respect you and find you captivating…thus allowing you to be unashamed. Perhaps it also implies that you are so solid in who you are that you are unashamed to be vulnerable and naked before your significant other because you love yourself and your significant other and you are safe and secure in that love. I don’t know…I’m excited to entertain those thoughts some more. This I know for sure, though: intimacy in a relationship…true intimacy…comes from knowing a person well…knowing them intimately…knowing what makes them tick…knowing how they think...Perhaps that is why I feel more intimate with some of my guy friends than I do with my boyfriend. Not because I don’t love him or because I’m somehow cheating on him, but because our relationship is younger and is less mature…because we’re still learning about each other and figuring each other out. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how time changes such things.

Between the Lines

Now, on the heels of that theological blog, I would like to point out that, in general, I’m not an advocate of polar divisions. I believe that none of us has it all together, or has it all figured out: not one person, not one party, not one group, not one church, not one country, no one. I also believe that no matter what we do, there will be flaws because we are all selfish and we will never work in such perfect harmony that we will manage to discover the perfect balance and the perfect compromise. This is why I love democracy, though. It is our differences that keep our nation going. If there were not a difference of opinion, we would never be asked to examine what it is we truly believe and determine how to move forward. I do believe however, that our political parties contribute to polarization, which impedes progress. It makes it a sick sort of contest. I mean, they can’t agree for fear that they’ll hand votes over to their opponent. Thus, they contribute to polarizing the population and impeding progress toward social justice. How? Because so many have come to believe that if you align with one party you can never agree with the other, and you must find half-truths and misleading statistics to support the party’s view. This frustrates me because I want to see people in this world taken care of. I want to be a blessing because I am blessed and I would love to see our country do the same. This means taking care of the poorest, and having the richest giving the most. This means the strong fighting for the weak and the bold speaking for the mute. But most importantly, it means doing something. It means breaking this trend of discussing ideals and beliefs and taking action, action that brings about a change that accomplishes something. That’s why I’m an independent. I just can’t align myself with either party because they both have their problems. I was thinking about it today in the shower, though, and I realized that in many ways, the Democratic party has bigger balls than the Republican party. This is not to say that the Democratic party is a big strong man and the Republican party is a demure woman because quite frankly there are many women who have bigger balls than men…I include myself and my chesticles in that statement. But the fact of the matter is, the Republican party spends a lot of time trying not offend those with money and power…because then they might lose their jobs. This causes them to be all talk at times. They speak about protecting life and caring for the poor, but have not been known for proposing practical or workable solutions through which to do this. Why? I believe it is because they can’t seem to separate one issue from another. They can’t enact a workable solution for reducing abortions because those interest groups who support them would not be satisfied unless the plan addresses all of their beliefs regarding sex. And for some reason they allow homosexuality to be lumped into the same debate as abortion and the war in Iraq. I believe this is why the most impressive solution to the abortion rates in the US that I have seen came from the Democratic party. The Democrats who put together this plan clearly identified their goal (to reduce the number of abortions in the U.S.) and then outlined how that might be achieved using a variety of approaches (education, funding, etc.) This, in my mind is a prime example of the Republicans making it a point to TALK about valuing life and the Democrats actually ACTING to protect life. Now, of course, this also brings up my problems with the Democratic party. The Democratic party works so hard to be the opposite of the Republican party that they have come to pick and chose what issues are included in social justice. The Democratic party is much better at acting and is great at proposing practical solutions to issues of social injustice, but I feel that they work so hard to be politically correct and to be different than the Republicans that they refuse to acknowledge all social injustices. That is why I must specify that the bold and decisive proposal written by Democrats was not in fact supported by the party as a whole, but rather by Democrats for Life. (Yes, there is such an organization, and yes there are actually congressional members). Many registered Democrats believe that only Republicans “respect life” (As evidenced by my sister saying things like “Pro-life, that’s so Republican”). Similarly, Republicans can be so closed minded as to think that they are the only ones who value life. In all actuality I find myself torn because I want to see actual progress made in matters of social justice, but I do not want to see issues which I am so passionate about fall by the wayside. So, who am I supposed to vote for? The party that will work to protect and provide for some of the oppressed? Or the party who will talk about protecting all but probably fail to follow through with any type of impressive plan. Oh, the woes of being an independent, I see that each party has its strengths, but I can’t quite reconcile myself with their flaws. This is why I believe that if some of my bold and decisive, liberal, Democrat friends and I could find ways to work together, we could do so much. I truly believe it would be a powerful coupling to have a bleeding heart idealist like myself aligned with someone who would be bold and decisive in acting. The world will never be perfect, and we will never agree on everything, but honestly…who doesn’t want to make things better than they are?


It frustrates me when people judge an idea or an institution based upon their interaction with one flawed individual. I find myself deeply saddened when I learn that one of my friends or even acquaintances has lost all faith in God because of the impression made by one (or more) believer(s) or one (or more) church(es). I mean, I would not suggest that someone belong to a church where they do not feel welcome. However, all churches, all denominations, all people are flawed (Romans 3:23). No one is perfect and without sin or flaw except Jesus Christ himself and there will never be a perfect church this side of Heaven. A wise man once said (it may have been Martin Luther…I don’t know) that churches are not homes for the righteous but hospitals for the sick. It is our flaws that cause us to need each other and to need God. We show the world God’s marvelous strength not because we are great or powerful or strong…but because we are weak and yet God can use us to do great things (2 Corinthians 12:9). This is why it frustrates me when Christians fail to show Christ’s love and compassion to others. We have all been commanded to not take the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7). This goes way beyond simply using his name as an interjection when something terrible happens. Rather we must recognize that we are representations of the Lord’s name. We were made in His image (Genesis 1:27), and we were given His name when we were baptized (CHRISTian). So, each day that you recognize yourself as a CHRISTian, or one who follows Christ, or god-fearing or whatever term you’d like to use, you are bearing the Lord’s name in the world. And as that commandment implies, that is not something to be taken lightly. You must realize that your actions are representing Christ to others and the way you behave reflects upon our Lord. As another wise man once said, “You may be the only Bible a person ever reads”. Yes, the Lord has shown us what is right and what is wrong, and we should strive to do that which is good in His sight, but we must also realize that none of us is perfect, and no man’s sin is greater than another’s in the eyes of the Lord because every sin…EVERY SIN drives a wedge between us and God. In Matthew 7, the Lord tells us “Judge not, lest you be judged. For with what judgement you judge, you shall be judged.” That is in the verses directly preceding “And why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own” (Matthew 7:3 KJV). As one of my favorite hymns says, “they will know we are Christians by our love”. We would be fools to ignore the fact that love is at the very essence of our Lord, for it is because of God’s great love for us that we are living and breathing today (Lord knows we don’t deserve it). Similarly, it is because of God’s great love that we can have hope in life after our deaths. So how do we justify loving those who disagree with us? The Lord tells us to hate the sin, but love the sinner (Ephesians 6:12), and to realize that we are blessed to be a blessing (James 1:17, Luke 3:11, Matthew 24:45). So, we must recognize that each church and each sinner that claims Christ as Lord has been blessed with talents and strengths with which to do the Lord’s work. We must come alongside one another to work for peace and justice, to worship the one true God through the work of our hands and the words on our lips (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Yes, we all practice differently and our liturgies and catechisms are different, but the one thing that remains the same is that we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is how we are united, that is what allows us to come together and feed off each others strengths, for our weaknesses are many.