we shall be free

Ed note: I’m somewhat fearful about hitting publish on this post. I hope that if you disagree with what I have to say here, that you will respond thoughtfully and afford me the respect that I promise in return. I know this is a touchy subject, but it is also one about which I feel passionate. None is free until all are free.

*

I have something to say. While it’s been brewing for a while, I haven’t been entirely sure that this was the appropriate forum in which to say it. I’ve since decided that it is precisely the place that it should be said. Because at its core, it’s a message about tolerance. About compassion. About allowing ourselves to look past what we think we see and to find out what really is. It’s a message about difference. And about moving past fear into understanding. It’s a message about the world that we are creating for our children.

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with our nation’s politics in recent months. I watched the presidential candidates foam at the mouth as they’ve worked crowds into a frenzy. I’ve watched them draw battle lines, each time somehow legitimizing an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. I’ve heard them call to slash so-called entitlement programs. Do you know what ‘entitlement’ programs are? Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans’ Administration programs. I’ve heard the cheers go up in the crowd without a thought for kids like ours – who in some cases have no choice but to rely on these programs simply to live.

But more than anything, it’s the broad message of intolerance that strikes the fear of God in me. This ‘us and them’ or more accurately ‘us vs them’ mentality. This war on that which is other – that which is different – leads us nowhere but backward.

What message does it send when one of the leading candidates for the highest office in our land has described homosexuality as ‘part of Satan’? What are we saying to the gay teenager who is struggling with self-loathing, desperately afraid to come out to his family, to simply allow himself to BE who he IS, when he hears that the gay ‘lifestyle’ is ‘personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement’. How does he possibly reconcile that with who he is?

What confounds me the most is that it so often happens in the name of religion. We see it all the time. As far as I’m concerned, intolerance in the name of Christianity is so far perverted from the teachings of Jesus that it would be wholly unrecognizable to Him. For the life of me, I simply don’t get it.

I truly believe – from the bottom of my heart – that the only thing that can be perverse about love between two consenting adults is someone outside of it having the audacity to stand in judgement of it. That to me is perverse.

By publishing this here, in a place largely dedicated to autism advocacy, I mean in no way, shape nor form to imply that homosexuality is a disorder. Anything but. And yet, I believe that the parallels are in some ways undeniable.

We are asking people to look beyond difference. To move past the fear of that which they don’t understand. To reach the hallowed place where they are able to SEE people and celebrate the majestic glory of God’s creation from one end of its spectrum to the other.

But that won’t – can’t – ever happen if we continue to live in and propagate fear. If we continue to legitimize, even institutionalize discrimination and hate.

Please, tell the politicians to tone down the rhetoric. For God’s sake, we’ve got an example to set for our children.

When we’re free to love anyone we choose

When this world’s big enough for all different views

When we all can worship from our own kind of pew

Then we shall be free

And when money talks for the very last time

And nobody walks a step behind

When there’s only one race and that’s mankind

Then we shall be free

~ Garth Brooks, We Shall Be Free

*

Amended to add  –

I originally posted the following in the comments below. I feel that it is important to highlight it here as well. 

All,

I am quite simply overwhelmed with the response thus far to this post. Your (mostly) supportive comments have buoyed my spirit and in so many ways restored my faith in our collective desire to make everyone in this world feel loved, valued and celebrated.

A couple of thoughts in response to those who shared their belief that the bible states clearly that homosexuality is a sin ..

It does.

Not what you expected?

I don’t deny that in many places (six, if I’m not mistaken) the Scriptures tell us that homosexuality (at least male homosexuality) is an abomination.

So we agree.

My problem is that the scriptures also tell us that eating shellfish is an abomination and that beating our slaves is fine as long as we don’t kill them.

If we choose to interpret the bible literally, then we must put to death those who work on the Sabbath (according to Exodus), those who curse their father or mother (as in Leviticus) and any woman who is found upon her wedding day to be anything other than a virgin (as prescribed by Deuteronomy).

So while I can’t dispute that the Scriptures call homosexuality a sin, I can make a pretty good argument for the need to read and understand them contextually. I believe that to parse out the passages that we want for a particular argument and assert that they are meant to be read literally – all while calling the others contextually dependent is hypocritical at best.

One commenter said, “So we speak truth to gay people, and we defend their dignity by persuing (sic) legislation that protects them from incurring the wrath of God by purposefully propogating (sic) and legitimizing their sin.”

I am hard pressed to follow the logic that pursuing legislation to outlaw homosexuality in any way defends the dignity of homosexual people, but more saliently, the concept of legislating religious beliefs runs contrary to the separation of church and state – the very foundation upon which this nation was built.

For those who believe that homosexuality is a choice (and a sinful one at that), I beseech you to take the time to get to know people. To see inside their world. To do exactly what we, as autism advocates ask people to do for us, for our kids. To begin to demystify the differences. To hear personal stories. To meet loving couples like my friend Randy and his husband, Mark who have been together for 34 years. To find that there is far more commonality in our experiences than difference. To find that your life will be richer for having opened your heart and your mind. To create a world where no teen thinks suicide is a better choice than telling his mom who he is.

Thank you all for reading and for contributing to the conversation with love and respect.

Warmly,

Jess

About these ads

76 thoughts on “we shall be free

  1. Amen. A hundred times over. Intolerance is intolerance, and should go against what everyone believes in, especially the people we elect to protect us and our children. With you, my friend, with every single word you wrote here.

  2. Well said, Jess. Intolerance in any form, towards any group, is not acceptable. The political stage as currently being publicized makes me more than a little fearful for our country. Hopefully, the strength in numbers this community has will continue to influence those who control policy and that the needs of our kids, and our families, will be met.

  3. No person should ever feel bullied, attacked, or dehumanized for being who they are; whether their differences are visible or not, whether they be due to differences in race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or a neurological disorder. We need to stand up against hate and intolerance in all its forms, wherever we see it. Thank you, Jess, for standing up.

  4. ” Us and them,
    and in the end we’re only ordinary men.
    Me and you…
    God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do.
    Down and Out
    It can’t be helped but there’s a lot of it about
    With, without
    And who’ll deny that’s what the fightings all about” – Pink Floyd

    Well said Jess. I think it’s safe to say you speak for many of us on this issue, and we’re behind you 100%. Thank you for putting into words the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of so many of us here. xo

  5. Since we’ve gotten our diagnosis, I have lost my faith. Plain and simple. How can a loving and all powerful God let this happen to an innocent child? In my journey I have also noticed that a lot of the time, the judgement and intolerance come from the religious people. Lately, to me, religion/faith/living by the word is done by people when it’s convenient for them. Not by everyone, but that’s been my experience. ‘Nuff said!

    • Im sorry you have had that experience with fellow Christians. In our hardest times its hard to remember that everyone is human, Christian or not, and that some people just dont understand (as jess mentions) tolerance/acceptance. and something that has always helped me deal with our faith and situation is this: John 9:2-3 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
      I believe that God allows our children to be who they are in order to teach others/us about compassion and acceptance (among many other things). I know that i have been taught a tremendous deal about patience as well. :)

    • Ann, I’m sorry that your experiences have led you away from your faith. There have been many times that I have questioned God since our child’s diagnosis…not His existence, but the whys. But I feel like I’ve grown closer to Him at the same time. When the Bible talks about how God wants us to “seek His face”, I can relate because my little one won’t meet my eyes. When He says to “call on His name”, I know how I earnestly waited and prayed to hear “mommy”. I don’t have the answers for why God allows hard things…but I know that I wouldn’t trade my precious daughter for anything and that I’ve learned from her what I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. I also know that anyone who truly honors God does not disrespect, judge, or show unkindness to His creation. As Jess pointed out, this is not the example Jesus gave.

  6. Right there beside you.

    I live in a ridiculously (wonderful) liberal part of Canada (which is itself a ridiculously wonderful country) . My neighbors and I stare at each other speechless and appalled that discrimination is so popular in the United States that it can be used as a platform to encourage votes.

    Here’s hoping that everyone with a moral compass speaks out over there and ensures justice and liberty for all.

    • Amen sister (Jess). I also live in our wonderfully liberal Canada, but we also struggle with tolerance, acceptance, and especially non-discriminatory access to life. We wish our good southern neighbors good conscience and good luck.

  7. Your 100% right Amen ! I’m elated that you posted this. With the way the politicians are going there will be nothing for anyone especially “our”kids. Its a shame justa shame.. here’s to hoping that it just might change.. Thanks foe all you do to help and encourage others! I truely do

  8. Autism in a blessing. It opens eyes that God gave us and lets us see the soul. I am terrified with the rhetoric of politics and am actively campaigning against my congressman, Eric Can’tor because he fans the flames of intolerance and his actions hurt my children and the many like them.

  9. Beautifully said Jess, and true. We can not pick and choose which differences to accept. Every single human being deserves respect, dignity and love. Period.

  10. I whole heartedly agree.  I will say I was not always as tolerant and open as I now am but with age (and meeting some wonderful people) did indeed come wisdom and I have done my part to spread the word and act of tolerance in my circle.  I fully intend to raise my children to respect and embrace everyone regardless of race, religious beliefs, sexuality, disability etc.   Just this morning my almost 5 year old said to me very matter of factly as we walked to camp … “Mummy, I know you always tell me that Jay is special but I am special too”.  I told him everybody is special in their own wonderful special way. 

  11. I’ve been reading for awhile, but haven’t commented because I don’t know anyone in my knowledge that is touched by autism, but I do know those who are discriminated against and hated for the things you mention above. I basically came here to say “Amen!” and “Thank you for sharing this amazingly eloquent piece!”

  12. Great post…!! I feel that the God I know doesn’t judge the very people he created on the basis of disaability, skin color, religious beliefs or sexual preference. I believe at our final judgement we will be on how we treated others and how well we tried to live our lives. Anyone who uses Christianity to spread intolerance is not a true Christian.

  13. Jess – I’ve been a huge fan of yours since a fellow autism mom sent me a link to one of your posts six months ago. You frequently move me to laughter and tears, often in the same post. I’ve often wanted to drop you a quick thank you for all that you do, but somehow never found the time. But today I just have to salute your courage and compassion. You are spot on here! We would ALL gain so much by living in a world with more acceptance and less judgment! You ROCK – and so does your amazing family! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. – Jen

  14. It’s an evolutionary process for people to grow out of prejudices and melt into one another as equals.

    There are pockets across the globe where whole communities have succeeded, and there are many who have not yet gotten there.

    I strongly believe that our country is a patriotic one, a faithful one – a brave country. From its first moments breaking free and declaring the rights of its citizens:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    These first declaritives of freedom for men has evolved so far already – to include women, to include people of color. It took time, it has at times gotten ugly along the way, and we are far from the finish line. But we are getting there. And we must push on to include EVERYONE in these unalienable rights. Not just with legislation, but with action, with compassion, with love and tolerance.

    The few who have inserted themselves in front of the camera and consistently spew hate and intolerance under the guise of political posturing for the ‘future of our family values’ will someday find themselves alone and their voices will no longer have reach. Because the REAL Americans who have yet to gather up collectively to speak WILL do so. They WILL rise up. And the message will be clear – we ARE a country of love and tolerance. We ARE, at our very core, Patriots. Patriots in the purest sense – dedicated to the founding values of the country that have continued to evolve and INDEED DO INCLUDE EVERY PERSON. regardless or race, gender, sexuality or ability.

    Amen, my friend. You have spoken bravely. And we are listening.

    Thank you. Thank you.

  15. Hope I have the time to give the answer I would love to (little on on ABA therapy can come out soon).

    I’m so passionate about this topic most people dont get it. I agree with you. The moment we accept we are equal recipients of respect and love and that we ALL have the right to live our lives been ourselves and who we are meant to be. The moment we all are free really free to BE then the world will be a better place.

    It is just that society had follow some parameters for so long. And when we deviate what we thing is right and move it to be a rule for everyone else with out thinking we might for sure be stepping on someone else’s boundaries we won’t be able to be free. And that is what has been happening in the world for centuries.

    In te past the church was punishing things that now are accepted and accepting things that now are been punished. In every religion there are rules that involve judging a little someone else’s way to live. Why? Because since we are little we are raise to follow some rules and as adults some will look for some one else to set the rules? Because maybe we think the biggest order comes from a God and it is said and writing in the bible, Coran, Testament.

    We have to learn from our history. Ignoring people just because they are different to
    The standar won’t work. Punishing them
    Neither. Attacking is not a good answer. Respect.

    Respect to the right of living their, our lives, as free as possible. Everyone.

    Luckily the world is changing, one step at the time. We can not change the minds of thousands in days but we can do it slowly months, years, let’s make this world a better place for our kids and the kids of our kids. That is my goal. I’m tryin to raise my kids to respect the rights of every individual to follow his/her been. Be congruent is, for me, the root and the answer to solve this.

    Long answer right? I told you I’m passionate about this.

  16. The propogation of fear is all part of the discrimination our children Their behavior is feared, their influence is feared, autism is feared. At the very root of humanity fear, perhaps not intentionally, leads to shunning groups who are different. I applaud you for seeing the parallels and courageously putting this out there. And with Garth Brooks as perhaps an inspiration…awesome. Thank you.

  17. Thank-you so much for this. As a member of the lgbt community I greatly appreciate the support. The rhetoric of politicians of this country is scary, and I think you are right about the connections between communities, we are all asking people to respect difference and to be treated equally. Politicians often use the same rhetoric of “special treatment” to argue against what should be fundamental rights (or at least rights applied equally to everyone)–marriage, access to medical care and therapy. We are all people.

    I have a 13 year old brother with Asperger’s who has suffered tremendous bullying the last two years since he’s been in middle school. The insult of choice by middle-schoolers? “faggot” and “you are so gay.” (Even though he’s straight). It’s been terrible. And he’s been using those insults himself in retaliation. Recently though, he’s been fighting back in a different way, telling people to leave him alone. He posted a note on facebook and I was so proud of him when I read it and saw him sticking up for himself, and I was especially proud to read “why the hell are people so peradist [prejudiced] against gay people anyway?” Apparently he HAS been paying attention to conversations we’ve had in the family about lgbt rights and respect.)

  18. Thank you for your wonderful post, my children are not autistic but have special needs in other forms (they are adopted) I too am a Christian and it kills me when I hear fellow Christians judge others that do not have the same beliefs or even judging my husband and I for adopting children with needs. The way I teach my four children is you don’t have to have the same beliefs of others but to have tolerance of all is what God expects from us. The only one to truly understand Judgement will be our Lord. Now that is MY belief and hope others can tolerate that without a nasty or blaming comment. You and Defying Gravity are lifelines for me and I thank you from the bottom on my heart.

  19. Amen, Jess. I get so angry when I hear the argument that procreation is the reason heterosexuality is the only acceptable practice in the eyes of God. There are so many heterosexual couples who should have NEVER had children (the guy with the disabled son in Louisiana is just one example) and so many homosexual couples who richly deserve a whole brood. People who judge others need to remember my favorite Bible passage: Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Romans 15:7. God is the only judge and everyone needs to remember that.

  20. For those who write on the topic of homosexuality and use Jesus or Christianity as a backing:

    I am, of course, going to write this from a Christian perspective, not a societal perspective. As much as we like to claim it, the two are not the same.

    Tolerance in the name of Christianity, and more specifically, in the name of Jesus is right. To tolerate, I believe, is not to approve. Thats why we have two different words. It is to discern what is being done is wrong, and to speak of that wrong without any sort of the wrath that that wrong incurs. To tie judgement and wrath together is dangerous. The verses speaking of casting the fist stone has to do with taking the place of the wrath of God by perpetrating that wrath ourselves. They were not rebuke for determinig wrong behavior. They were rebuked for thinking it was theirs to pour out the wrath of God. I dont want to take the time here to convince anyone that homosexuality is sin. That is so plainly stated in Scripture that if you cant get that right, you are reading whatever you want out of the Scriptures and will do the same in this conversation. I will rather speak from the perspective that it is known as sin, and people have a problem with pointing out sin, and thus condemning sinners.

    Christianity 101: Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. His blood is an atonement for sin. All sin. Once His blood defeats that sin in your life, His Spirit takes up residency in you to change you into His Holy Righteous Nature. Jesus is perfect theology. He is Obedience perfected. His work was to create sons of God, in Holiness. Since we are saved by His grace toward us, we have no right to judge sinners toward condemnation. His Spirit is in us to conform us into His likeness, which includes obedience to His will, but it is not in us to pour wrath out on sinners. So we speak truth to gay people, and we defend their dignity by persuing legislation that protects them from incurring the wrath of God by purposefully propogating and legitimizing their sin. But we do not commit crime or feelings of hate or anger toward them because, apart from the grace of God, we sin too. This is toleration. I tolerate a system that hates God everyday. That doesnt mean i dont speak out against it or defend the rights of those hurt by it. Toleration is not approval. It is less loving, knowing the righteous standards of God’s holiness, to approve of sin in others lives than to teach them about the power of God to destroy that sin in their lives before the wrath of God destroys their lives. This is the compassionate work of Jesus, through His church, in this world. “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Matthew 3:2

    –As a side note, if Scriptural proof of the sinful nature of homosexuality, and its underlying evil (the misinterpretation of Godly love) is needed, this can be provided. It just wasnt the context of the article.

    • Amanda,
      You are providing a very literal interpretation of your scripture. Please remember that we don’t all believe in the same scripture or the same interpretation, and do not force that interpretation on others.
      Jess is not saying to embrace something which you may or may not believe is “right”, but to respect and tolerate those who may be different. That is totally in keeping with even the most literal interpretation of scripture.

    • In the effort of remaining a respectful conversation, I do feel the need to include another perspective – that of a mother to a beautiful little girl with a genetic abnormality.

      We are all creatures of God, created by Him, by His own design.

      My daughter was born with a missing portion of her 4th chromosome. She has physical, medical and developmental disabilities directly caused by her very design. HIS design.

      Though my daughter was born with normal, working female genitalia, I do know many children with chromosome deletions that were designed by God with some differences. Whether those differences included both male and female parts, they were differences nonetheless. Surely in some case the physical gender of the child is really up for interpretation, even biologically. You may be uncomfortable with the graphic nature of this conversation, but I can assure you these children, children of God just like you and me, are uncomfortable, too. And whether their differences are noticible on the outside or something within themselve, they have to find a place in this world where they can learn of themselves and find value in the gift they are. They have to move beyond YOUR discomfort and learn to walk tall knowing that regardless of your opinion, GOD – their One Designer – made them as they are ON PURPOSE. God makes no accidents. We do – with our words, our fear and OUR expectations of what WE think He thinks we should be. So whether my daughter has a working vagina, or if she had been born with ovaries and a penis – HE MADE HER THAT WAY. If her body, in its uniqueness defines her desires of her heart, who are we to judge what His plan for her was? And why would we think His plan included suffrage based on who she loves?

      Jesus was sent to us to teach us to love one another. Above all else, that was the singular gift of Him. Yes, there were some guiding commandments and basic law that were also handed down. But like our Declaration of Independence, doesn’t God also have the right to evolve and grow and perhaps amend those ideals? He gave us the gift of free will – can He not adjust His own judgments as humans move forward? Thousands of years ago, a baby born differently may never have even survived in the womb or been born. We have evolved. We have medical miracles every day. Do you really believe that God has not joined us and evolved as well?

      Until He comes down here himself, now a couple of thousand years later, and tells us He hasn’t changed His mind – I simply have to believe that He learns and grows as we all do. And perhaps, like parents from children – HE is learning more from us each day about love and He is pleased with those who continue to preach acceptance.

    • Amanda,
      This is America, which was born out of a belief in the separation between church and state (among other things). While I disagree with your beliefs, I recognize your right to believe them. What is unacceptable is anyone’s attempt to force their beliefs on those around them, even under the umbrella of saving them from themselves. Heaven forbid someone of different beliefs than yours (Muslim, Jewish, Gay, whatever) attempt to defend YOUR diginity and pursue legislation that protects YOU from incurring the wrath of THEIR God. It goes all ways. Freedom for one requires freedom for all.

  21. Thank you ,

    My teenaged son who is on the spectrum has come out this year and I worry so much about him. With his aspergers he misses social cues and is socially immature and to then add this on top of an already confusing difficult time even for an NT teen . We live in a very conservative area of the country to top it all off.

    Needless to say I worry a lot.

  22. Ditto. Last year, I was asked to become part of a 2 year committee at church to help guide our congregation to being an open and affirming United Church of Christ. The crux of “open and affirming” in this capacity is LGBT. I don’t have any family members in that community, so why ask me? Why does a CHURCH need to do this, shouldn’t we already be welcoming to all? And, of course, I was apprehensive to add more to my plate. I did join the committee, because I knew at some point in the future it will probably be me needing the congregation to be open and affirming…to my ASD child, who might not sit still through an hour long service, who might make noise during a silent prayer, but who should still be allowed to be there. And he’s not a “them”, we’ve been at this church since well before he was born. I am so glad I joined. What I have learned in the last 1 1/2 years has been so educational and enlightening on so many fronts. And I can definitely see the coorelation bewteen the two groups. For me, it comes back to the 80s line of WWJD? He welcomed EVERYONE, not just everyone that was like him. He went out of his way to include everyone. He made it an extravagent welcome. That will always be my answer. As to the politics: A friend and I used to discuss politics all the time, but in the last year or so, neither of us wants much to do with it. We are not on either extreme end, and the ugliness of it all just has us saying I have better things to focus on in my scant free time.

  23. Well said! I have been thinking and feeling the same way for some time. In particular the campaign rhetoric of “entitlement programs” I hate how they throw that world around in such a negative connotation. So many people don’t realize who and what they are referring too. I think having a child with Autism opens your eyes to understanding and acceptance of challenges, differences and loving unconditionally. Love and tolerance is so much easier to do than trying to convert others to what you may think is best for them.

  24. I wholeheartedly agree with you, and love your line “that the only thing that can be perverse about love between two consenting adults is someone outside of it having the audacity to stand in judgement of it. That to me is perverse.”
    This is a wonderful post, Jess. Thank you for writing it and speaking for so many.

  25. As you have said before, with autism, there is no room for pretense. One is tolerant of all, or it means nothing. Love is love for all, not for some. All persons are worthy of respect.

  26. Well said, as usual Jess. I am so happy that you choose to share your gifts with us! I long for acceptance, for everyone. That is what I wish for my child.. that he can look back at us, at this point in history, and not understand what the big deal was all about! That he is accepted for him, flaws, gifts, and everything!

  27. Barbara ~ shared this and quoted you on my wall. xo
    11 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Mary ~ Read your bible. Homosexuality is a sin. Love your neighbors a I have loved you is a command. God breathed the bible and His words are what should be of the utmost importance. Read the bible.
    11 hours ago · Like

    Amber ~ I’m elated you posted this! I agree with you one hundred percent… Regardless of others ignorance when it comes to homosexuality to bullying everyone in the world has some type of affliction because if they didn’t they would be PERFECT and NO ONE is…. I think they should remember ” let one who has no sin cast the first stone” or something like that… KUDOS to you… Thank you
    10 hours ago · Like · 3 people

    Amber ~ Thank you from my family …. My son is 5 with Severe Cognitive Impairment Autism ADHD ODD …. And you have given me strength and hope when I’ve been in some tight spots….
    10 hours ago · Like

    Cammie ~ I couldn’t agree more!!
    “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”
    Mohandas Gandhi
    10 hours ago · Like · 2 people

    Beth ~ Mary, generations of theologians have debated the finer points of religion so I won’t go there. However, doesn’t the Bible teachus that we are ALL sinners? And is it not for God to decide whose sins are to be forgiven? Is it not as much of a sin to espouse the Bible as the “truth” but then only choose the lessons which fits one’s personal beliefs or biases? How can I love my neighbor as myself by villifying my neighbor? It doesn’t make sense? An, while I’m not a history scholar, I recall that this country was founded upon principals which very deliberately sought to keep religious doctrine out of governance. After all, isn’t that one of the driving forces which led to the exodus from the English empire? Religious persecution? Seems we haven’t come as far as we think.
    10 hours ago · Like · 7 people

    Beth ~ Also, the take away from DOAM’s post that **I** see is not about the merits one group over another. It’s about finding the ways to express thsoe differences of opinion RESPECTFULLY. We are teaching our children even when we think they are not watching or listening. If one lives by the credo of WWJD, would Jesus not be tolerant and respectful of another’s humanity while seeking to lift them up?Acceptance and respect do not have to equate to liking or sharing affinity. I think the point is simply to ask our politicians to tone down the virtriol and venom and find the way forward TOGETHER. I may not LIKE or agree with things certain zealots espouse, but I respect their right to do so and I damn sure would want them fighting by my side if some sort of disaster or emergency were to strike. Even if that “disaster” is economic as this country currently is facing.
    10 hours ago · Like · 4 people

    MaryEllen ~ This was this amazing post, one I have thought a lot about myslef. Thank you so much for posting this. If one person can change their thoughts from reading this, you have made a world of difference.
    9 hours ago · Like · 2 people

    Rachel ~ Amen, sister.
    9 hours ago · Like

    Mary ~ I am not judging. Just stating that it is a sin. Yes, we are all sinners. Yes, we will all bend our knee to Jesus. I have a full life with exposure to autism, homosexuality, lying, abuse, abandonment, etc. All in my life simultaneously. I have faith that through repentance we can be saved by the grace of God. I am not the judge of others. Beth, reread what I wrote and then yours…you and I have never spoken. I love the Lord and I think Diary of a Mom is awesome. Enough said.
    9 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Rebecca ~ Jess, as usual you write beautifully and as usual I couldn’t agree more with what you say. Thanks for having the strength to say what you believe and are passionate about.
    9 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Anne ~ Look, can we leave religion out of this and just praise the message of tolerance? One does not need to practice a certain religion to love they neightbor.

    Thanks, Jess. reposting.
    9 hours ago · Like · 4 people

    Lisa ~ Beautifully stated.
    9 hours ago · Like

    Barbara ~ Your post today is sending a tidal wave through FB. I’ve had 3 friends, besides myself, share your post today…
    9 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Beth ~ Mary, I apologize if what I wrote came across as a commentary on YOU. It’s not. I don’t know you, never met you. It was a broad statement regarding the way I see religion and the Bible being used as a political tool/weapon (depends on persepctive, I guess).
    9 hours ago · Like

    Redefining Typical A Mother, A Son, A Journey with Autism ~ Beautiful post!! Just amazing!! As you know you inspired me to write a post about “tolerance, compassion, and understanding” . I thank you for your courage and your open heart!! I truly believe if we week seek we will find!

    http://www.cheairsgraves.com/2011/08/08/seek-and-ye-shall-find/

    Expand Preview
    8 hours ago · Like ·

    Kristine ~ DOAM – you are so eloquent – thank you for putting words to my thoughts!! I shared the link so my FB friends can see, too. Thank you, thank youm thank you!
    8 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Luna ~ L-O-V-E this!
    8 hours ago · Like

    Welcome to StimCity ~ It’s an evolutionary process for people to grow out of prejudices and melt into one another as equals.

    There are pockets across the globe where whole communities have succeeded, and there are many who have not yet gotten there.

    I strongly believe that our country is a patriotic one, a faithful one – a brave country. From its first moments breaking free and declaring the rights of its citizens:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    These first declaritives of freedom for men has evolved so far already – to include women, to include people of color. It took time, it has at times gotten ugly along the way, and we are far from the finish line. But we are getting there. And we must push on to include EVERYONE in these unalienable rights. Not just with legislation, but with action, with compassion, with love and tolerance.

    The few who have inserted themselves in front of the camera and consistently spew hate and intolerance under the guise of political posturing for the ‘future of our family values’ will someday find themselves alone and their voices will no longer have reach. Because the REAL Americans who have yet to gather up collectively to speak WILL do so. They WILL rise up. And the message will be clear – we ARE a country of love and tolerance. We ARE, at our very core, Patriots. Patriots in the purest sense – dedicated to the founding values of the country that have continued to evolve and INDEED DO INCLUDE EVERY PERSON. Regardless of race, gender, sexuality or ability.

    Amen, my friend. You have spoken bravely. And we are listening.

    Thank you. Thank you.
    8 hours ago · Like · 2 people

    Amber ~ Thank you Jess…. Amen …
    8 hours ago · Like

    Michelle ~ Mary you are judging…calling homosexuality a sin & telling DOAM to “read the bible” after a post like that IS judging. She’s speaking of tolerance & it’s correlation to what we all have in common amongst this forum. It would do you some good to reread DOAM’s post before spewing religious hypocrisy!
    7 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Terri ~ My friend & neighbor Jess is amazing.
    7 hours ago · Like · 2 people

    Amanda ~ For those who use Christianity or Jesus himself when speaking of homosexuality:
    I am, of course, going to write this from a Christian perspective, not a societal perspective. As much as we like to claim it, the two are not the same.

    Tolerance in the name of Christianity, and more specifically, in the name of Jesus is right. To tolerate, I believe, is not to approve. Thats why we have two different words. It is to discern what is being done is wrong, and to speak of that wrong without any sort of the wrath that that wrong incurs. To tie judgement and wrath together is dangerous. The verses speaking of casting the fist stone has to do with taking the place of the wrath of God by perpetrating that wrath ourselves. They were not rebuke for determinig wrong behavior. They were rebuked for thinking it was theirs to pour out the wrath of God. I dont want to take the time here to convince anyone that homosexuality is sin. That is so plainly stated in Scripture that if you cant get that right, you are reading whatever you want out of the Scriptures and will do the same in this conversation. I will rather speak from the perspective that it is known as sin, and people have a problem with pointing out sin, and thus condemning sinners.

    Christianity 101: Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. His blood is an atonement for sin. All sin. Once His blood defeats that sin in your life, His Spirit takes up residency in you to change you into His Holy Righteous Nature. Jesus is perfect theology. He is Obedience perfected. His work was to create sons of God, in Holiness. Since we are saved by His grace toward us, we have no right to judge sinners toward condemnation. His Spirit is in us to conform us into His likeness, which includes obedience to His will, but it is not in us to pour wrath out on sinners. So we speak truth to gay people, and we defend their dignity by persuing legislation that protects them from incurring the wrath of God by purposefully propogating and legitimizing their sin. But we do not commit crime or feelings of hate or anger toward them because, apart from the grace of God, we sin too. This is toleration. I tolerate a system that hates God everyday. That doesnt mean i dont speak out against it or defend the rights of those hurt by it. Toleration is not approval. It is less loving, knowing the righteous standards of God’s holiness, to approve of sin in others lives than to teach them about the power of God to destroy that sin in their lives before the wrath of God destroys their lives. This is the compassionate work of Jesus, through His church, in this world. “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Matthew 3:2

    –As a side note, if Scriptural proof of the sinful nature of homosexuality, and its underlying evil (the misinterpretation of Godly love) is needed, this can be provided. It just wasnt the context of the article.
    7 hours ago · Like

    Terri ~ I see now why you pondered so long and hard about posting this Jess. It really is horrible how much intolerance there is in this world. My heart breaks for all those who are judged by others.
    7 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Jane ~ Jess, you are wonderful, eloquent – and so right!
    7 hours ago · Like

    Idy ~ Great!!!
    6 hours ago · Like

    Anne ~ I’m sorry, Jess…but I have to say this:

    To those who say “Homosexuality is a sin; the Bible says so”:

    Adultery is a sin, too. It violates the sanctity of marriage. Therefore, let’s deny adulterers the right to (re)marry.

    Later we can talk about the Bible, shellfish, pig flesh, and work on Sundays.
    5 hours ago · Like

    Running to be Still ~ I could not agree more, Jess. Thank you for so thoughtfully standing up for so many people who may feel they don’t have a voice, or the courage to speak up. Sharing in the hope that your message of tolerance and respect reaches as many people as it can. Thank you.
    5 hours ago · Like

    Teresa ~ Yes, the Bible says “homosexuality is a sin.” However, the Bible does not say that the reader is judge, jury and executioner. Tolerance is just that….TOLERANCE. If you don’t like what you see, read, hear, then move on. This is about tolerance of fellow man, not who is better or worse.
    5 hours ago · Like

    Rachel ~ Amen, beautiful mama!!
    5 hours ago · Like

    Charlotte ~ thoughtfully, articulately, respectfully presented!
    3 hours ago · Like

    Holly ~My sisters soon-to-be ex-husband just recently came out. He is still part of our family as he is the father of 4 great kids. None of us think of him as “evil” or “an abomination”. Had he had some love and tolerance as a young boy and teen he may have come out sooner and not be going through this sad divorce from my sis. Tolerance!!!
    about an hour ago · Like

  28. All,

    I am quite simply overwhelmed with the response thus far to this post. Your (mostly) supportive comments have buoyed my spirit and in so many ways restored my faith in our collective desire to make everyone in this world feel loved, valued and celebrated.

    A couple of thoughts in response to those who shared their belief that the bible states clearly that homosexuality is a sin ..

    It does.

    Not what you expected?

    I don’t deny that in many places (six, if I’m not mistaken) the Scriptures tell us that homosexuality (at least male homosexuality) is an abomination.

    So we agree.

    My problem is that the scriptures also tell us that eating shellfish is an abomination and that beating our slaves is fine as long as we don’t kill them.

    If we choose to interpret the bible literally, then we must put to death those who work on the Sabbath (according to Exodus), those who curse their father or mother (as in Leviticus) and any woman who is found upon her wedding day to be anything other than a virgin (as prescribed by Deuteronomy).

    So while I can’t dispute that the Scriptures call homosexuality a sin, I can make a pretty good argument for the need to read and understand them contextually. I believe that to parse out the passages that we want for a particular argument and assert that they are meant to be read literally – all while calling the others contextually dependent is hypocritical at best.

    One commenter said, “So we speak truth to gay people, and we defend their dignity by persuing (sic) legislation that protects them from incurring the wrath of God by purposefully propogating (sic) and legitimizing their sin.”

    I am hard pressed to follow the logic that pursuing legislation to outlaw homosexuality in any way defends their dignity, but more saliently, the concept of legislating religious beliefs runs contrary to the separation of church and state – the very foundation upon which this nation was built.

    For those who believe that homosexuality is a choice (and a sinful one at that), I beseech you to take the time to get to know people. To see inside their world. To do exactly what we, as autism advocates ask people to do for us, for our kids. To begin to demystify the differences. To hear personal stories. To meet loving couples like my friend Randy and his husband, Mark who have been together for 34 years. To find that there is far more commonality in our experiences than difference. To find that your life will be richer for having opened your heart and your mind. To create a world where no teen thinks suicide is a better choice than telling his mom who he is.

    Thank you all for reading and for contributing to the conversation with love and respect.

    Warmly,

    Jess

    • Alysia ~ amen. again. and thank you for creating such a warm and respectful community where we all can discuss these topics.

      Anastasia ~ Beautifully said as always.

      Lydia ~ The Bible also says to take the plank out of your own eye before you fuss about the splinter in some other guy’s eye, right?

      Luna ~ I let myself get too angry during these discussions. I end up walking away from them because it’s easier and I’m a cynic when it comes to people who choose to close their minds. I’m ashamed to admit that I consider them a lost cause. Kudos to you for keeping your argument sound, logical and compassionate. ♥

      Stephanie ~THANK YOU! We just got “It’s OK To Be Different” for my boys.

      Anne ~ You said that so much better than I did. :)

      Cindy ~ So well said! Thank you!

      Michelle ~ i really enjoyed your post. i agree with what you wrote.

      Diary of a Mom ~ ty, guys, lydia, i don’t know if that was meant to be a reference to godspell, but it sure made me think of one of my favorite scenes and smile, so either way thank you :) .. and anne, nah, i just added a little more detail :) all, thank you so very much for your support thru al of this. i am so heartened by all of it. xoxo

      Eden ~ We shall live in peace, Amen. Thank You Jess.

      Douglas ~ I’ve got a better angle… Here’s the rub: All of those scriptures are from the Old Testament. Otherwise known as The Torah. Christians are followers of Christ. The New Testament applies to Christians. Jesus died for our sins. We live in a state of love and grace. Christians have a new covenant with God, a new covenant sealed in the blood of Christ. Jesus left the Holy Spirit in his place in order that we can have new life through him and communicate directly with God through him (in prayer). To the true Christian, god is a gracious and loving father. All he wants is for us to realize that we are not perfect and we cannot live a meaningful life without him. And that applies to ALL of his children (gay, straight, black, white)… One of my old pastor’s who was an AMAZING biblical scholar always told me to run as fast as I can away from those “Christians” who condemn others with Old Testament scriptures!

      Christy ~ I agree 100%. There were many reasons for “Separation of Church and State”. I believe in separation for so many reasons. I believe in and love the Lord, but noones “interpretations” should come ahead of an individuals personal rights. Please keep up the good work. Btw, I have come to realize a lot of parents who want others acceptance, are the VERY ones who refuse to give it. Love your blog… ♥

      Anne ~ Jess, are you thinking of the speech from West Wing? “What’s a good price for my daughter when I sell her? Do we need to kill all the Redskins, or can they wear gloves?” :)

      Sue ~ So grateful to you for calling out the “parsing out of passages” to support select arguments. I’m with Luna – I let myself get too angry. You however speak so eloquently. Thank you (for both the post and this response). Beautifully written.

      Brandy ~ Well put! Beautifully written.

      Christine ~ I feel like standing up and clapping! So beautifully put.

      Diary of a Mom ~ ooh, anne i wasn’t. but i’d love to see a clip if you can find it. i loved that show. there was mention of both of those in the following letter that a friend passed on today as well –

      http://www.yuricareport.com/Parody%20and%20Humor/OpenLetterToDrLaura.html

      Kristy ~ Oh, Jess, when you’re right, you’re right!!

      Kristy ~ ‎Diary of a Mom, you can see that clip in the film “For the Bible Tells me so” An excellent doc, I must say.

      Kristy ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHaVUjjH3EI
      Here it is.

      Anne ~ Why do my links keep disappearing??

      Anne ~ Okay, go to youtube.com and search for “West Wing – Dr. Jacobs”…and for a laugh, go to funnyordie.com and search “Prop 8 Musical.” I promise they’re both awesome. :)

      Renee ~ While the Bible does teach what sin is, it also teaches tolerance and love for your neighbor. It does not matter whether we agree or not, I am boind by God to love my neighbor- no mater who he or she loves or if I agree with it or not. End of story- not my place to judge others.

      Diary of a Mom omg, i remember that now!! bring back president bartlett!!

      Cera ~ Jess. You are so darn amazing! I must say I love your words in the post and in this statement here as well! You are such a blessing to our world! Keep speaking your beautiful words!

      Diary of a Mom xoxo, cera. thank you!

      Denise ~ If anyone thinks that being gay is a choice, then they must feel that autism is a choice as well.

      Tiffany ~ Brilliantly put!

      Rachel ~ Jess- for someone I’ve never met it’s amazing how much I absolutely adore you!
      6 hours ago · Like

      Terri ~ LOVE that West Wing clip, miss that show!

      Megan ~ I agree with you too. I know several gay/lesbian couples in long term, loving relationships. I also know plenty of heterosexual people who are in adulterous, abusive, etc. relationships. It’s about love, and I don’t think God thinks of love as a sin.

  29. Jess, thank you for addressing this. So many people are being denied their personal freedoms based on a lack of separation between church and state. It’s awesome to see you make a post on that.

  30. Wow! This life we are all living, while beautiful and wonderous in many ways, can also be cruel and hard to it’s core. The “yin” of finding love, cherishing it, protecting it, fighting for it, and KNOWING that it is what sustains us as human beings is what buffers the “yang” of bitterness and hate in this world. As someone who considers themselves a Christian, I too despise when people condemn homosexuality in the name of religion (and quote scripture to support their harmful rhetoric). Thank you for this post.

  31. I stand right beside you on this one and even blogged about it a few days ago. There was terror in my heart as I watched these candidates speak, hearing what they were trying to push onto us. I personally believe in gay rights and am raising my children to believe that all people deserve the right to be truly free and not condemned for who they are. I have a wonderful family member who is gay and I refuse to believe that after all he has done in his life to help those around him that he was brought into this world only to spend an eternity in hell upon leaving us. These politician’s are all vying for the same thing, our votes, and it is up to us to weed out the liars, the crazies, and the criminally insane. Unfortunately from my stand point that leaves us without a candidate at this time, but my fingers are still crossed that the right one has yet to emerge. I don’t mean to offend anyone, I attend church, I believe in God, but I do not believe that any politician is going to save us from the mess we are in if they are so quick to cut the budgets of the very programs that support us. Thank you for posting this, I do believe it needs to be heard.

  32. Pingback: Through the Looking Glass « Welcome to StimCity…

  33. I could write a huge comment to this issue but, I am not going to, we are all children of God and the Bible tell us that we should love one another. To me that means irrespective of our ‘flaws’. We all have flaws be it impatience, a temper, smoking, having a drink, being ‘gay’ or having autism. The way I see it is if you can’t love your ‘gay’ neighbour then you cant love your ‘autistic’ neighbour. Food for thought ……… I do hope so. Love and Light to you all.

  34. I guess what I can’t understand is If God loves us, unconditionally, no matter who or what we are, Why can’t we love each other the same way? The more love you give out, the more you get in return.

  35. Thank youuuuuuuuuuuuu! The one reason I will never be affiliated with any sort of organized religion is the gay thing. I cannot believe in a god that would condemn my family members for who they love. They didn’t pick this. They were born this way. It’s not easy. But it is who they are.

    You rock hardcore for this post. HARDCORE!

  36. “As far as I’m concerned, intolerance in the name of Christianity is so far perverted from the teachings of Jesus that it would be wholly unrecognizable to Him. For the life of me, I simply don’t get it.”

    Thank you, dear Jess for this. Jesus wasn’t even intolerant of those who were intolerant, but rather his life was focused on measuring everything through the lens of Love. For me, the way to interpret controversial texts in the Bible is to use the rule of Love. As you well state, the Bible says a lot of things–no pork, no shellfish, no mixed fibers in the same place where it says a man shouldn’t lay down with a man. Those who say there is a biblical view of marriage, well, they ought look carefully–there are lots of biblical views of marriage–such as concubine-age, plural marriage, etc.

    As a Christian pastor in a mainline denomination that has roots in the earliest of Christian religions in America, who strives to live a life of welcome, and work to share the ministry of welcome and love, I am so dismayed at the us vs. them rhetoric in politics today. We have got to get back to understanding what unity, what the united part of our United States means.

    Oh, and as woman who is married to the love of her life– who happens to be another woman–the anti-glbt rhetoric is in tiny moments, terrifying. So is the anti-“entitlement” rhetoric…(who NAMED these social programs, to help the least of these ENTITLEMENT programs??)
    xoxo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s