This is my gym:
And, this is me after a 45 minute “boot camp” workout:
I look fabulous right? As a matter of fact, I loathe working out. It is one of the few things in life that I really truly hate with passion. No matter how persistent and consistent I become, I never seem to find that place of deep satisfaction that drives so many others. But, I do it anyway. I push myself three to four times a week to suck it up and go exercise. It pains me to do something so unpleasant, but I do it because I know that it is good for me. I eventually do see some benefits – more restful sleep, more energy, better mood – no matter how much I want to deny it.
Conversely there are those things in life that regardless of how good they feel I know that they are not that great for me. Girl Scout cookies. Practically any deep fried, golden brown vegetable (okra and pickles, I’m looking at you). And above almost all else, beer… sweet sweet beer.
As much as I love these things, I know deep down that I cannot live my life as a complete glutton. There is more to living than being a total hedonist. Just because something feels right does not mean that it is the thing to do or pursue.
Growing up I remember being taught in my BaptoCatholic culture that society at large had an “if it feels right do it” attitude, and that this kind of belief is in direct opposition to a “life in Christ”. I don’t necessary disagree even now as an adult, which is why I found the recent reaction by some to World Vision’s acceptance of the LGBT community so sadly ironic. For a really good response to this catastrophe from the perspective of one who still somewhat identifies as evangelical see Rachel Held Evans’ op-ed piece here:
I get that there are multiple interpretations of the Bible’s stance on homosexuality. I would even acknowledge that my beliefs, and the beliefs of my denomination (The Episcopal Church) are still a minority opinion within larger Christendom; and I want to readily admit that I will be held accountable for my beliefs, and I may be wrong. I believe, though, in the idea that God loves unconditionally; that when the Bible speaks against homosexuality it is speaking against an act that was coercive and used to establish dominance; and that loving, meaningful same-sex relationships are fundamentally different, are fundamentally justified through Christ’s call to love authentically with one’s whole being.
Here’s the thing for me. I get that these evangelical groups thought they were doing the right thing, just like World Vision thought they were doing the right thing in becoming more inclusive. But sometimes what we think is right, what may feel good to us, is something that causes deep pain and suffering. I am absolutely outraged, like Ms. Evans, that our culture wars here in the pampered, self-centered first world have directly led to an increase in the suffering of folks around the world who desperately need our help.
Who do we think we are?
Seriously, who do we think we are? Who were these mysterious “evangelicals” that pulled their support, threatening the very lives of children they support financially. Talk about being Pro-Life.
But my camp is equally to blame. Where were we in all of this? Why are there not more mainline progressives supporting the work of organizations like World Vision? Where were we to pick up the slack when all of this went down? Why were conservative evangelicals such a overwhelming voice that they were able to bully World Vision into rescinding their position?
Now look, I’m being pretty cruel in my assessment here, and I am feeling conflicted about that in the moment. One of my major issues with the deep divisions in Christendom right now is the lack of dialogue that we are engaged in. The way forward has to allow every voice at the table. Everyone should have the freedom to be authentically themselves. BUT, while every voice deserves to be heard, every voice also deserves to be critically engaged and critiqued.
I stand with my position on homosexuality not balled tightly in a fist but held gently in outstretched arms. I want to talk about it. I want to respectfully hear out the voice of the other in conversation. Dialogue must be at the root of our way forward.
All of that being said, I feel no qualms about calling out wrongs when I perceive them. For too long I have been too timid. There is a balance to be struck certainly, but when our own infighting in the west on issues of morality lead to the starvation of helpless hungry children around the globe we are sinning in the most egregious of fashions.