Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: March 2013 (page 1 of 4)

Just when you think you know it all

A comment caught my eye and at 2 am it wouldn’t let me go. “I’d rather offend you than God”. Perhaps that’s the root of my distaste for the conversation. 

We forget that God is likely offended that 70% of our prison population comes from the foster system, a social cause for concern (thanks, Angela, for that stat – it kept me up from 1-2am). I’m prone to believe that God takes offense at the fact that our society, our country, spends more money on purchasing trash bags, a means to throw away our excess, than it would take to rectify the clean water shortage for most of the world. I think that’s a bit offensive to the Father of those thirsty people. And honestly, long blog posts about “what offends God” probably ranks high on the list of offenses
Somehow, we religious Christian people have made ourselves God’s defenders. We carry His sword and shield into battle, protecting him from the evils of the world, whatever we deem and interpret them to be. That is, until we reacquaint ourselves with the passages of Scripture to remind us of how the relationship really works. God tells us numerous times that He will “go before” us and clear the way. He is the protector, the provider. He marches us into battle. He is our shield and sword. 
Perhaps we need to revisit our role in the relationship. Perhaps we need to be reminded of our inability to understand God and recognize God and know God – and Maundy Thursday serves the perfect time for such reflection. 
We only need to look at the life of Jesus to know what God finds offensive. It wasn’t the riff-raff of society. Jesus ate with slimeballs and women of “poor moral character.” And by “ate with” I mean associated with in the way of friendship. With such an audience, you can’t tell me there wasn’t at least a few dirty jokes cracked or that the conversation remained G-rated as someone poured the third bottle of wine. I’m not sure he took offense. 
Jesus hugged the riffraff of society. He doted on women and children – those commonly deemed as property. He touched the sick, he looked into the eyes of the disturbed. When those at the end of their ropes grabbed on to his clothes and wouldn’t let go, we don’t hear cries of offense. We see love and compassion. 
And then the religious folk show up. I’m not sure there’s a better way to foreshadow a sermon or a teaching by Jesus than to have a Pharisee arrive. Jesus gets ticked off more often by those who study the scrolls and those who spent day-in and day-out with him, than by any character of poor moral development. 
It wasn’t the “immoral” or the folks on the outside of faith who need to take responsibility for the events of the Cross. It’s the religious. The sin of immorality didn’t send God to the grave – the sin of pride and idolatry did. Jesus was marched away by Roman soldiers because when God showed up on earth, we were too busy comparing notes on Leviticus to understand Who stood right in front of us. 
The religious had no idea who they were talking to. And because God Himself didn’t line up with what they believed about God, we had to shut him down*. 
The fact remains: the more scripture you can recite, the more likely you would be found in Pilate’s yard, shouting “crucify him!”
We traded a known murderer for the life of God Himself because He didn’t match up with the picture we had drawn. And we took offense. 
It’s a dark day for us religious folk. It’s a time we must deal with the consequence of trying to know God outside of what God has made known. It’s a day we deal with our pride, our arrogance, our faith in our own self-sufficiency over faith in the character of God, known through the action of God. 
Today is not a day to defend God’s law or image. It’s a day to remember that He took the place of defending ours. Even when we were wrong. Even when we screwed it all up. Even when we were so arrogent to think that we knew the answers. Even when we were too busy defending “God’s honor” to sit and talk with God Himself. Even when we asked for execution orders and watched Him suffer. 
And yet, God still forgave our offenses. 
Not [just] theirs. Ours. 
Mine. 
*And we have a long, dirty history of knowing how to use politics to do so. 
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Defining marriage

I. Can’t. Help. It. 

I’ve seen one FB sticker too many. 
First – I fully support the right of individuals to have an opinion on both sides of the marriage equality debate. Many of my friends support a change in legislation to allow all people, regardless of sexual orientation, the legal right to marry. I fully support their right to express their beliefs. 
I have a handful of friends who support the definition of marriage as one man and one woman. Again, I respect their right to such an opinion. 
Push me the wrong way and I can argue either side equally passionately. Not because I believe both sides with equal passion, but because I’m smart  and flighty like that and should have went to law school. But I digress. 
What I cannot support: tossing around the word “Biblical” as a means to defend either* side. 
If we want to use “Biblical” as the marriage standard, then lets go back to a few instances in Genesis. Like Jacob. Oh, Jacob. He bought his wife – exchanged 7 years of manual labor – and when the new Father-in-Law pulled a switcheroo, he slept with the wrong sister. Well, the rule of the day was: you shake her, you take her. So though the deal was for Rachel, Jacob got Leah as wife #1 and had to work another 7 years for Rachel. 
A few things to point out from this little example about the “biblical” definition of marriage:
  • Though it was a social custom, it held many economic components in order to be legit. Lots of gifts and payments to make it all happen. Love played a role – “Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her” (Gen 29:20). But he wouldn’t get the girl with a simple handshake for Laban. 
  • The passage that discusses the wedding? Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. (Gen 20:21-23). *Sorry, I should’ve given this post a PG13 rating at the beginning. 
  • Marriage and sex went hand-in-hand. Thanks to a recent round of research on Persian bridal economics, I’ve learned that most sexual encounters resulted in either marriage or a concubine arrangement (step above slave, step below marriage). (Or prostitution, which seems like choosing a payment plan that’s simply more pay-as-you-go rather than buying cash, as Dave Ramsey would advocate). 
Hardly the engagement process or bridal experience of nowadays, eh? The Bible is full of info on marriage customs, but we don’t seem to adhere to all of them. For instance, Part of Mosaic law includes a clause that mandates a man who rapes a woman to marry her – not as punishment for the woman, but for her care and protection. She would be deemed unmarryable by the society and possibly left destitute.  Praise be to Jesus that we don’t enforce this in our society – and that the status and role of women has been elevated to the extent that she’s not deemed tarnished goods after falling victim to a heinous crime (and subsequently forced to live with the offender). 
Does such “Biblical” evidence prove marriage is only between man and woman? Does it allow for same-sex marriage? Are there verses everywhere that can be used to “prove” the argument for either side? 
Absolutely. 
But what we don’t get is a picture of my wedding day that replicates the experience of marriage in the Bible. (Which is too bad. I had a beautiful wedding day!). 
We simply must acknowledge that we’ve imported a few of our experiences into the texts. Not facetiously  mind you. It’s simply what we know. It’s what we’ve experienced, so when we read that “Jacob loved Rachel” we automatically assume she was wearing Maggie Sottero and served a vanilla cake with raspberry creme filling. 
The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us that the “Word of God is sharper than a double-edged sword.” But it’s one that’s often used offensively as much as defensively. One that hurts people, cuts to the deep. 
Friends, people shouldn’t leave our presence maimed by the Scriptures. We have no authority to slice and dice.  Convicting and convincing is more the work of the Holy Spirit than Holy Helpers. Instead we have a responsibility to love others. All of them. The ones we agree with, the ones we don’t. 
So please, continue worthwhile and thoughtful discussion. Ask questions that matter, not ones that prove your point. Show some humility and let others see that you don’t know all the answers. But please, leave the “Biblical definitions” out of it. 
We don’t get many definitions in the Bible. Those came more with the age of reason, eons after such a beautiful and helpful and true Book was composed. But what we do get are pages and pages of examples, stories of truth involving faithful people trying – succeeding and failing – to walk with God. Much like many of us are attempting today. 
*Admittedly, most offenders if the “biblical defense” attempts  fall on one side more often than the other. Again  this post isn’t for or against either side, but rather the poor use of evidence to defend a position. 
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When I’m not the perfect Mom

I can’t – or won’t – begin to count my #momfail indiscretions today. This week. I feel like our household has been on a constant cycle of my frustrations, followed by the kids not listening, followed by my short patience, followed by their insistence on pushing the buttons to see what, exactly, could make me snap. Then as I offer what pithy apology I can muster for being frustrated or not using my words or whatever the infraction, we begin the process again. Sprinkle in a sick kid and a dash of medical profession frustrations while you’re at it. Just for giggles. 

Sometimes, I just want to stop. Beyond that, sometimes I want my  kids to know my limit. Here is where I stop. Here is where I fall to pieces. Here is where I feel I can give no more.  But in my heart of hearts, I know that knowledge doesn’t serve the kids best. It only adds a notch of self-righteousness to my belt of savior complex. 
But can I tell you what such days does for me? It gives me an ounce of grace for God, especially on weeks like this – Holy Week. 
I know, I know – theologically-speaking, God doesn’t “need” grace. He’s the giver, the creator of grace, not the recipient. But in his gift of parenthood, he allows our eyes to be opened to this beautiful parent-child relationship of which I shadow with my littles, and though it’s imperfect, I still gain perspective. Sometimes I wonder if I get a taste of what God feels. 
So maybe, on the week we remember God giving over his only son, experiencing the grief and anguish any parent would sell their soul to avoid, I can find a place to give God a break. To stop asking “why?” and simply appreciate that He would go to such lengths to redeem a world and a person He loves. Maybe I can give up being frustrated with the many ways in which we don’t experience the fullness of the resurrection right now and realize that perhaps if I can just be patient God will, indeed, show us his finished work – in myself and in the world. 
Or maybe it’s an opportunity to see that God has done everything necessary to make the Kingdom possible. Dinner is served, I just can’t seem to to stop picking around the mushrooms and complaining that “it’s too hot, please blow on it.” 
At the end of the day, frustration and tears included, I still love my kids. We sometimes end the day celebrating the mercy of bedtimes and start the next day with a new dose of patience. But in realizing how much it takes to continually offer that grace to my kids, I’ve come to a new appreciation of God’s willingness to start afresh with me. 
God may have an edge with his nature of perfection and all. He probably doesn’t end up in tears on the living room floor after we – again – don’t pick up the toys as requested. I doubt he kicks doors or slams computers shut or tosses around hurtful words carelessly. And the fact he hasn’t had it up to here shows me the depths of his patience, the distance of his grace, the hugeness of his love for me. When I reach my limits, it’s hard for me to fathom his limitlessness, but my appreciation for it grows nonetheless. 
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