Why Canada Should Welcome Every Refugee

She walked into Tim Hortons, just after I ordered my coffee; I stood off to the side, waiting for it. With nothing better to do, I entertained myself with people watching, discreetly of course, and she inevitably caught my eye. She looked like she came from ‘that’ part of the world; Middle-East, somewhere. I noted she didn’t quite look the girl taking her order in the eye, quickly glancing down as she dug in her purse. Then up again, but not quite in the eye. She looked shy; nervously uncomfortable. We got our drinks at the same time, and she was now a few steps ahead of me, and seated herself at a lonely little table, tucked in beside a wall. I had a booth not far away. Her eyes, I noted, looked sad or ‘down’. And then I caught myself wondering, What would it feel like to be that woman, to be anyone from the Middle East right now, in a restaurant full of Caucasians… or to look like maybe I was ‘one of them’, regardless of my birth place? And I concluded it must be unsettling, even frightening or shameful; shame for ‘my people’ and atrocities committed by them. My heart was stirred with compassion, and I wished for a moment I could ask to sit with her, but I had a client coming in minutes, and besides, it would be beyond awkward for both of us….

****

The title of this blog works much better as a question than as a statement. Why should Canada welcome every refugee? Why should we? Why should USA, for that matter? Or any other country? The truth is, no one should. Because national security is a matter not to be taken lightly, by leaders of a country. And our leaders should think it through carefully, before making decisions.

Emotion-driven ‘help’ and hype-driven ‘compassion’ isn’t compassion. It’s guilt. And it’s not about the refugees. It’s about us. If a moment of emotional response, at seeing a toddler washed up on shore, is the sole driving force for me–as an individual or leader– to say, “Bring them in by the masses!” Then we are utterly selfish, not to mention entirely foolish. Because we are merely trying to assuage our guilt by an act of kindness toward someone who doesn’t have the luxury of peace we have.

And guilt-drive act of kindness that could well have been custom designed to captivate Western Society, according to some. And it’s true, we don’t really know the real story behind that drowning. Children drown in Canada, USA, and around the world, and it is always possible that such a thing could be used for manipulation, to gain access, or to draw compassion. We may never know that. But regardless of the details, a child drowning is tragic and yanks at every parent’s heartstrings, every aunt, every uncle, every grandparent, and pretty much any compassionate human being. And it should stir us. It better.

And even if, worst case scenario, it was a manipulative act and a set up to draw compassion from Western culture–as numerous individuals have surmised, wondered and suggested, and a question that wondered through my own mind that very first news broadcast–it doesn’t make the crisis any less real. And it doesn’t make the need any less legitimate. Syrians are suffering and displaced, and they do need help. But the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ and logistics of it are not matters for impulsive action, from the perspective of a country. World leaders will need to exercise great wisdom in making the right call. And only the future will declare which avenue was the ‘right’ one, for good outcomes. Whether Putin’s locked and guarded gates, or Canada’s open door, or any leader in between, only time will tell.

I’ve read opinions pieces by both secular and Christian writers, declaring colliding views with confidence, certain of one move or another. I would suggest that certainty of anything, in a time like this, is as reliable as blowing smoke rings. They are most certainly there, until they are not. And then you have to make new ones. Just like bubbles. Blow them, and they exist, until they don’t. Likewise with the ‘right moves’ in this… until they are not.

Not one of us can be certain of the outcome of this thing. And our country’s leaders, like every other country’s leaders, must determine what is the best action for those under their care and protection as a nation, while extending compassion. My hope is that they don’t throw caution, common sense and discernment to the wind, and that they act in the best interest of each country while not abandoning the truly needy and destitute.

So what is the Christian response at this time? I hear some cry out that the country should close all borders–surely God would–and others that it should open them wide, even at risk to our country. Maybe it is reflective of a broader societal shirt, and broader shift in Christian thinking, maybe not, but at the very least it rings of insisting that leaders–Christian or not–are not called first to protect responsibly, those in their care. And there seems an inability for some to separate the responsibility of the state, from the responsibility of each individual Christian, and Christians collectively, to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, and to love sacrificially.

And when I think about how I would want to be loved, I can say with certainty I would want to be rescued from the hell some suffer. But I can say with the same certainty that I would want it done wisely so I don’t land in the same hell somewhere else. Otherwise I have gained nothing and they have lost everything. Wisdom is crucial in the ‘how’, and I pray our leaders use that wisdom and discernment in this process.

I certainly don’t see grounds for the place some Christians are taking it, to declare that Jesus meant we are to rescue every refugee across the world, and if we are not compelled to try, then we have somehow failed to love as Christians should love. That’s a popular and unreasonable judgment on social media these days, offered by some driven by emotion and the need to put everyone in their own box of what love is and should be.  We are created uniquely, each one of us, and we love differently. But we can love well, differently. Some of us love by swinging hearts and doors wide open, throwing caution to the wind, with a short sustainability, and others love in more calculated (and sometimes more responsible) ways that are sustainable longterm. We need both views for balance.

The opposite response, of hate and closing our hearts to compassion is not the solution. What I do know with certainty, is that my role as a Christian is to be like Jesus. That is not a matter in question. Whomever God brings across my path, is who is my neighbour today. and Jesus commanded us to love our neighbour, so that is the person I will love in this moment in time, while I am with them, and embrace as my neighbour.

Should that person violate my trust and put my life at risk, I will never regret having loved them. And should they prove to be a friend, and one with whose heart I connect, and whose values–if not beliefs, religion and lifestyle–at the very least offer respect, then I will also never regret having loved them. And if they meet Jesus in me, whether they ever embrace Him or not, I will never regret having loved them.

If love means requires me to ‘lay down my life’, then that is what I need to do. And if it means to jump in front of  train track to save someone, at the risk of my own life lost, I need to do it. And if it means putting boundaries in place to protect, then that is what I need to do. Any particular and strongly touted ‘belief’, when taken to it’s ultimate end, falls flat. Some who declares ‘open the borders wide’, will not be the one to open their front door and displace their own children. And yet, that belief, taken to it’s inevitable end would require just that. And some of us would. Who is the true hero, and offers the ‘best’ love is something time will tell….

And keeping in mind that even Jesus didn’t disregard danger when confronted with it. He removed Himself from those wishing to stone Him, in John 8:59, rather than choosing to stick around and prove His love. There has to be a time for common sense, even in love. The same Jesus who said, “I send you out like sheep among wolves, so be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We’ve got the ‘harmless’ down pat, some of us non-resistant ones, but could focus on the wise as serpents part. And some have the ‘wise’ part mastered, but wish to resort to fighting with the sword.

Love is a powerful force. It is a Kingdom of God kind of force that does not fully make sense to the human mind, yet is not intended to function without thought. And each of us must express in the moment-by-moment, as believers, in the place where we walk with God today, if we want to live in the Way of Jesus.

As for Canada, and what it should do…. until I am Prime Minister–which currently looks to be a bare minimum of 4 years away, since we just had an election–it’s not my call to make. As for personal opinion–which I’ve mostly avoided throwing out there strongly–I do have strong opinions. They are somewhat true to the tone of this article; help the Syrian refugees, but at the same time use common sense and caution in the process, which I hope and (somewhat) trust my country is doing. All risk cannot be eliminated, but closing all doors to helping the most needy is a bit too self-preserving for me.

And functioning out of fear goes against my nature. From the first day, when the little boy washed ashore and I saw the hype, I said, “Even if it is a ploy to get inside the hearts of people, and thereby into our countries… and even if it is for ill-will by some, I would not say we should not help them.” But I am, by nature, a risk taker. Somewhat calculated, until I’m not. Then I just do what I believe to be right in a spontaneous moment. Which is why I even tackled this topic… because ‘calculated risk’ told me it is not wise to go there. And then when several friends called me out, I put on my mudding boots, and now here I am with my head stuck out, waiting for the hail to begin.

Nonetheless, for now I will focus on loving my neighbour… Including the Christian who sees it differently than me. That love is the only thing that will convince the world that we are the disciples of Jesus. And that love seems a lot harder to exercise than loving the refugee in a far away land. It seems less noble, less ’cause’ worthy. But it is the trademark of our relationship with God through Jesus. All other actions taken, from a faith perspective are but a racket, and a loud noise, if we don’t first exercise love in the Body of Christ.

****

The young woman left Tim Hortons. I was lost in a world of my own by that time, hearing a client’s heart; her story. Compassion easily shared with someone from my own culture, the Mennonites. We are a strong group, with powerful beliefs; some that we would be willing to die for, others not so much. And we’re divided on which ones are worth dying for, when it comes right down to it.

My day went on, as usual. Except for moments when her face flashed through my memory and I again found myself wondering, again, What would it be like to be one of them, or look like one of them, but with no desire for bloodshed and hate…. What would it be like?

And compassion awakens again in my heart, and I whisper a prayer for wisdom for our leaders to do the right thing, the compassionate thing, and also the wise thing.

canstockphoto30769136 (1)

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

 

The #SaltedCaramelMocha in a Boring Red Cup, Please… And a #MerryChristmasStarbucks…& All

I kept seeing the Starbucks red cup referenced, so this morning I did a google search to see what the hype and offense is all about, and being ‘in the know’, I decided a second blog was in order. So here it is, awkwardly sandwiched in my 30 days of acknowledging victims of sexual abuse. But then, a good cup of Salted Caramel Mocha is the perfect treat for someone going through hard times, so maybe it’s an okay diversion.

I’ll start with saying I don’t care one iota if a business advertises Christmas–or snowflakes–on their cups or not. Even if they have done it for a bajillion years, it doesn’t offend me if they stop. They put it on in the first place for advertising, not because Starbucks loves Jesus. It’s business. It’s advertising. The thing that sells is the thing they will use. We ought to have been just as offended that they used it in the first place, because Jesus and Christmas are worth more than that. But we were not offended then, and we shouldn’t be now.

And I don’t really care if people say Merry Christmas to me or not. But I do care if businesses tell people what they may and may not say, on a faith level. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech for all. At least it should be, though it seems not to be. That’s a bit different than the advertising thing, though they lump it all together. And I am exercising my freedom of speech here, even though many people won’t agree with me, and they have the right to express their opinions also. And when I go out this holiday season, I will exercise that freedom again and say Merry Christmas to everyone if I want to. And I won’t do it to offend; I will do it because I love Jesus and I love celebrating this ‘birthday’ we’ve given Him. (We don’t really know the exact day.) Odds are high they will say it back to me.

And I love all the joy, happiness, and ‘light’ of the season, so soon after the dark, black of Halloween. (Yes, I hand out candy to all the little people who show up, dressed up in their costumes. No, that’s not celebrating the dark side and it doesn’t mean I celebrate death and goblins and all that occult stuff. If you want to tackle me on that–as some already have, my email is trudy(dot)metzger(at)rogers(dot)com. Your venting won’t offend me, or make either of us more or less Christian.) And while I know the ‘spirit of the season’ will be short lived, I enjoy it for the short time when people celebrate hope, and play cheerful Christmas carols. No other time of year is Christ proclaimed unwittingly, in the way He is at Christmas. But that’s all temporary if He’s not alive within.

canstockphoto5436322 b

In the middle of the political correctness, and the spats over advertising, I care that Jesus is so alive in my heart that He flows out of me in love, not a ‘feel good’ into me in the form of some overpriced liquid in a ‘Christmas cup’. I care that I drink deep from His cup and represent Christ so well, that those who know me or meet me want to have mass (meaning full communion) with Christ, and thereby bring Christ-mass into their personal lives. The kind that lasts an eternity and doesn’t land crumpled in the rubbish bin when the drink is all.

As for Joshua Feuerstein, and the video he created… I found his initial ‘trick’–as he calls it–witty and somewhat humorous, and if he had left it there, it would have had more impact. But then it turned into a ‘let’s show them’, which in turn makes Christians look like idiots, IMHO, and the testimony this is as Christians in the news, is a bit embarrassing. Far as I’m concerned, less advertising about Christmas takes a lot of ‘fake light’ out of the world, and the true Christ who shines in our hearts, will shine all the brighter.

We might as well rejoice when the world shows its darkness, for this very reason, so that the light of our hope sparkles more brightly in contrast. There is something about twinkling lights in the blackest of nights…. There is something about stars in the darkest hour of the night… There is something about the lights of home, when we are tired and need rest….

And there is something about the Love of Jesus Christ, when the soul is black and hopeless. His Light is Life to the searching. Hopefully, with less fake lights, some will see the True Light of Christmas and feel His Love. For ‘while we were still sinners’–wandering in black hopelessness and unworthy of Him–‘Christ died for our sins’. What a beautiful truth to come home to. What a powerful reason to celebrate Christmas in a boring red cup…

I’ll have the Salted Caramel Mocha, Venti please, in a boring red cup, minus the snowflakes. The thank you I offer, the smile on my face, the personally meaningful ‘Merry Christmas’, that’s the overflow of Christ in me.

God said in Deuteronomy, “I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life.” And the Bible repeatedly tells us to ‘bless and curse not’. I choose blessing.

On that note, #MerryChristmasStarbucks! I won’t be boycotting you or trying to negatively impact your business; you have my business this year, same as every other year.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Should Canada Merely throw Money at Aboriginals to Ease the Nations’s Conscience?

“Where there is no vision (revelation; outlook, purpose), the people cast off restraint (perish; lose hope and meaning)…”

If I were to sum up in a short sentence what has happened to our First Nations’ people, I would say they have lost hope. We came. We robbed them blind. In essence, we stole their hope and purpose, and left them displaced. We can say what we want about them not helping themselves, but if we don’t first do the right thing and walk with them, share our bread with them, and thus restore their dignity, we are as guilty as our forefathers.

****

These past few weeks I’ve had numerous conversations with various individuals, regarding the upcoming election, and what should ‘drive’ the vote, of a Christian… if they should vote at all. There are mixed views on that last part, from the most conservative to the most liberal of Christians. To me it seems a responsible thing to do, and doesn’t collide with my faith, so I vote. But I also understand those who don’t, and respect that. It’s a personal decision. At least for now, since the government has not made it mandatory, and the Bible doesn’t say we should not. Of course we’ve declared our opinions loudly on the matter, but with no believable grounds, in my opinion.

canstockphoto9466536 (2)

One message I keep hearing at every turn, is to vote for a leader who will fight for the poor, for the homeless, the Aboriginal people and others less fortunate. This message appeals to my compassion, and my desire to fight for  the underdog, which in my case is the roughly 6 million sex abuse victims in our country. (Numbers based on 1 in 4 females, and 1 in 6 males, in a population of roughly 35.5 million, and presuming approximately 50% are male, and the other 50% are female, and accounting only for reported cases.)

In his Maclean article, A Real Nation Would Not Let This Happen, Scott Gilmore exposes some of the deep neglect to Canadian Aboriginal people, stating, “We care more about postal service, child care and tax credits for the suburban middle class than we do Aboriginal issues. What kind of a nation are we?” He goes on to say that the Party Leaders have run across Canada handing out money to ‘you, you and you’ appealing to the middle class for votes. It’s true. They have. And we fall for it, licking up empty promises like starved puppies, as if our lives depend on it, rather than looking out for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters–yes, that is exactly what they are–and fighting for them.

If I don’t think below the surface, this ‘tossing money to the poor’ appeals strongly to my compassion, and, if I’m perfectly honest, it eases my own conscience. But there is a bigger picture to consider, both politically and personally. To find a generous-hearted leader who will throw money where the need is greatest, without any sort of relationship-based help, is a noose around the neck of our country and the recipients. The same principals that apply in running a business or a farm–which really is a business but possibly one of the better examples in this case–apply to running a nation. Responsibly managing finances, while giving generously and purposefully, maximizes the impact and guarantees sustainable growth and giving. A farmer who gives away so much seed that he has nothing or little left to plant, will give less and less every year and eventually lose his business. And the farmer who gives the neighbour eggs every week, out of kindness, rather than giving the neighbour a chicken and teaching him how to care for it, acquires more dependents rather than empowering the neighbour to also be self-sustaining and generous. And if the farmer’s chickens die, there’s nothing left. But if he has taught the neighbour well, then when his chickens get sick and die, guess who just might be able to offer eggs, and probably a new hen, to the farmer? A simple example, but that is responsible giving.

By the same token, a country that is not managed in a fiscally responsible way will eventually be in no position to give, so it makes sense for a leader to invest where he or she sees potential for returns. It isn’t that a nation should not give, but rather it is how the nation gives that will make all the difference.

Because compassion appeals to my heart, Gilmore’s article moves me; it really does. And, while throwing compassion money to Aboriginals, homeless and other destitute and needy may ease the nation’s conscience–and mine as well–it will not and cannot change our country, or have a longterm positive impact on the condition of things. Much less can it make Canada a real nation. Because a ‘real nation’ is about relationship, not dropping money from the sky. A real nation is made up of real people who walk in and do life with the needy, teaching and working alongside them, laughing and crying together, hugging and loving… And to drop money from a distance may be the greatest insult and disservice ever done.

And this brings me to my final question. Whose responsibility is it to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and help those destitute and in need? Is it not scriptural for the people representing Christ to give to the poor and needy? And, more than that, to live among them, with love? Is it not our calling to bring Jesus to the most destitute and, in the eyes of society, the lowliest… even those we deem undeserving? And to bring Jesus is to be practically available and present, fishing with them, and teaching them to fish, so to speak.

What about a relationship-based commitment to helping the Aboriginals, with much patience and without trying to clone ourselves in them, imposing our religious cultural norms on them? What about accepting them where they are at, but not being willing to leave them there in their suffering? What about believing in them, and showing them that they are worth more, that they can choose better way, and we are willing to walk with them on that way?

The inner curses that people have to push past, having been oppressed and abused, are not a small thing. I have not suffered the half of what they have been through, and yet I spent years haunted by the lifelessness of past abuse and oppression; demons that rarely haunt any more, but kept me trapped for years. For them to push beyond such a thing requires unbelievable resilience, of this I am certain. And therefore to bring change requires patience and encouragement, with gentle persistence.

So, yes, Mr. Gilmore, a ‘real nation’ might not let this happen, if each person invested him or herself 100%. But it didn’t happen overnight, and it will not be resolved overnight. It will take hard work on both sides of this equation for change to become real and visible. What are you doing to change this… and what am I doing… besides writing? And what are we doing, collectively, to reach out to the most vulnerable in our nation? What passion can we stir, that we are willing to lead, to make a difference, rather that remaining comfortably critical.

In the past I volunteered at our local Federal prison for several years, teaching classes and interacting with inmates, and during my time there I met many Aboriginals. I loved my time with them, and did research into the history of abuse of these fellow Canadians. That awareness has never for a moment disappeared from my memory. And always when I hear of them, it seems I should be able to do something, yet always I move on with my life. And maybe that’s what we all do; even the government, and that is how even a ‘real nation’ allows this to happen; one individual who looks the other way at a time, or talks and does nothing, or expects the government to do it all, not willing to be ‘that one’ who acts. The reality is that we, the people, need to rise up and invest ourselves and our lives to make a difference, and certainly we can appeal to the government on behalf of the Aboriginal people, but not without relationship. They are worthy of more than that.

My commitment is this: To dream, and brainstorm, pray and contemplate… and then to act on those dreams and prayers at the right time.

I want to be that one, no matter which vulnerable people I am given the opportunity to reach. I want to be the one to make a difference, rather than simply talk….

Love,
~ T ~

Note: Between 2 Gods is on sale (Kindle) for only $3.81 right now in USA, and it is on for $4.99 in Canada. Amazon controls pricing–not my publisher–so I have no idea how long it will be on at this price.

© Trudy Metzger

Why I, a Conservative Christian, Sold Bridal Gowns to a Lesbian Couple…

lesbian coupleSome years ago, before the hype about LGBT rights and the wars over it were so intense, I worked in a bridal shop. As a stay-home mom, with five children ages 4 through about 11, I wasn’t looking for work when it happened…

How it started that I went shopping for bridal gowns with a few soon-to-be-wed friends, on several occasions, I don’t recall. But after visiting one bridal shop numerous times, the owner approached me and asked if I’d like to work Saturdays part time. She had observed me when I brought friends in, and felt I would be a good match.

Starting a week later, I tried my hand at sales in bridal wear and did quite well in both sales and connecting with customers. Trying to get inside the head of a bride is… well, interesting and dangerous. You don’t want to go in too deep; just enough to understand her wants and needs.

One thing that had not even crossed my radar, is the potential of a lesbian couple coming in for dresses, or how I would handle such a thing. It never occurred to me ahead of time…

Two women came in, each trying on dresses. One was easy enough to ‘fit’; she had that ‘perfect’ bride body. The other was more difficult, with a figure much harder to accommodate. (Why are most dresses made for fairytale brides, with fairytale waistlines when we come in all shapes and sizes?) Option after option was turned down. Finally we found one or two that landed on a ‘maybe’ pile, but she asked us to put them on hold while she continued her search elsewhere, as she was still unsettled. And with that the two friends were off.

As the door closed behind them, the owner commented that they only have a few weeks until their wedding,  and went on to explain that as a Catholic, albeit not the most devout one, she didn’t agree with gay marriage.

“How do you know they’re lesbians?” I asked. I hadn’t heard either of them mention it. The owner said this was certainly not their first time in shopping, and they had told her on a previous visit.

I thought then about the dresses on hold…. I thought about my own faith… I thought about my family and marriage values…

And when Sarah returned with her soon-to-be-bride in tow, I pulled out the dress, helped her with fitting, and marked the alterations. I spoke with her just as I would have, had I not known. And when all was said and done, Sarah had a dress for her gay marriage.

That was me. That was my response. And if I was confronted with the same scenario today, I would probably do it the same way again. And I’d think about my faith, and my family, and my marriage values and probably breathe a silent prayer for her. And when they would leave, I would hug them like I would hug every other enthusiastic bride who just bought her dream dress… if they initiated such a hug. And I would do this because I don’t feel it violates my faith in Jesus, or undermines my (very strong!) family values, or challenges my personal belief in the Jesus-definition of marriage.

Even so, having responded this way back then, and assuming I would again, I think not one of us should be forced against our wills, to do that which violates our conscience, and therefore I support Kim Davis. (Personally, I would probably resign if it was that offensive to me, but that, again, is me. It’s obviously not Kim.) She was elected, if my understanding is accurate, to sell marriage licenses before this conflicted law was imposed on her, and her conscience doesn’t allow this new requirement.  Of course, when her term is up, this can be revisited and she will likely be looking for work elsewhere.

Personally, while I chose to help the lesbian couple, I also understand those who choose not to for conscience sake. And while I understand those who choose not to do as I did, I also understand how ignorant that must seem to those who see the world through a very different lens than conservative Christianity. Whenever every person is offered freedom of speech–or people assume they have the right to be honest–there will be a collision of beliefs and someone will be offended.

Both sides have valid points. As a believer I don’t expect the world around me to live up to what I believe, and am not surprised they are upset when such standards are imposed on them. I expect their beliefs and lifestyles to be different than mine, and I expect them to want to be ‘respected’. By the same token, those with a conscience against certain things want to have their religious freedom granted and conscience respected. They’re as determined to live at peace with their consciences as the homosexual community is determined to have their rights met. Inevitably, this ends in stale-mate pretty much every time. One is unwilling to offend their conscience, and the other often hell-bent on being served by that particular person or organization. (And whether, for the Christian, it really is ‘for conscience sake’ or seizing an opportunity to ‘make a statement’… or whether, for the gay couple, the determination to be served is driven by that particular business or individual being the best in their field, or whether it is intended to create a scene, is a matter only the individuals can speak to.)

My personal goal is to be charitable and compassionate, even when it is unpopular in my Christian culture, and always to remain true to my conscience and never compromise what I believe, for the sake of comfort, approval or the popular vote.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Welcome “Lila” in the Girls’ Room… But Don’t Kiss Your Baby’s Lips, That’s Perverted

The Not-so-normal Normal

This week our friends in Hillsboro, Missouri encountered a bit of a kerfluffle, when a transgender boy decided a ‘gender neutral’ bathroom was too ‘segregating’ for him, when there was a girls’ bathroom to be accessed. It used to be that boys had penises–well, only one each–and girls had vaginas, usually to the same ratio… among other parts that are distinctly different. And, back then, if it looked like a penis and acted like a penis, by golly, it was declared a penis! And the bearer of it, a boy! But times are changing… (Click here to visit link)

So, jumping into this hot topic, let me start by saying that I have a lot of compassion for kids and adults alike, who struggle with gender identity. It is a real crisis, world over, it seems. There is, however, a quantum leap between genuine and humble struggle and the likes of what we see in individuals making unreasonable and self-centered demands of everyone around them. None-the-less, no matter the story, these individuals need compassion, love and guidance, not hate and bullying.

It stand to reason then, that letting one person bully hundreds, is ignorance at it’s maximum, as it pertains to bullying. Crying ‘what about my human rights’ while disregarding the human rights of others, not to mention rights that have been as old as the country itself, is a bit mixed up. And to have presumably reasonable adults siding with that demand has crossed a line from helping a teen work through gender identity issues, to catering to someone demanding attention. It’s got nothing to do with gender identity. At all. That’s not intended to negate the struggle, but to say it has derailed the child to some warped entitlement tantrum.

Most people with gender identity struggles and confusion don’t ever get this radical, selfish and offensive. Fortunately. But the few who do have the media tripping all over themselves to push an agenda. News flash: it’s not about hate. It’s not about bigotry. It’s about common sense. Most of us, as young girls, would have gone into near panic attacks at having a penis in the room while changing.

It’s. Just. Plain. Awkward.

But that leads me to thinking about a solution…  And I wondered if it would help Lila adjust, to share the bathroom with a few of us ‘older girls’ who wouldn’t be nearly as threatened or intimidated, having given birth multiple times… heck, we’ve had an entire circus of people parade through the room in the process of that vulnerable exposure (while we smiled, and waved like the emperor who had no clothes… except we knew we had none, and we didn’t wave, other than the random desperate flailing about… and we surely didn’t care that we were naked!) … Maybe a little time with enough of us would be a bit of deterrent for wanting to hang out in the girls bathroom. Cuz some of us get kind of crazy comfortable in our skin–such as it is after housing a bunch of babies… and we’d probably strike up a conversation in our birthday suits without a second thought,

… Just a thought that flitted through my mind, as I contemplated how to help…

And that’s not a ‘diss’ on us ‘moms of many’, with roadmaps on our tummies, and ‘rolling landscapes’ of hills and valleys to complete… it’s a compliment. We’re a brave lot, to be honest. And our confidence comes from within, not from the perfect pre-baby body, nor the scarred and beautiful post-baby body. Til that many people have touched and looked and… well, whatever they all do down there in the process of birthing, there’s just not much shame left… And til we get all our parts rolled up into place, and have ourselves tucked in our clothes and in place in a bathroom or changeroom–all while chattering enthusiastically about any other thing; probably swapping birth horror stories–I don’t know that Lila would want to be in a girls bathrooms ever again. Guaranteed it wouldn’t leave us scarred, like those dear young girls with innocence to protect. (Lila, on the other hand, may need psychotherapy.)

So maybe we old mama’s need to organize a bathroom tour, supporting young and innocent girls who deserve privacy…and organize the ‘Feisty Mamas Flash Mob’. (Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) In particular, I recommend recruiting those who have worked in nursing homes and have seen more tops and bottoms than enough, and are generally unintimidated by a few naked penises out of place.

But no matter the madness of it all, society-at-large wears the dunce hat in a case like this, not one teenager who displays the entitlement mentality, and exemplifies behaviours promoted and endorsed by a host of self-centered people all around. Particularly the media. It seems the height of ignorance, when viewed through reason and sensibilities, but maybe those are at a premium these days.

And Lila needs someone to be there with enough love to say, “Listen sweetie, life isn’t like that… you’re not going to last long with that mentality in the ‘real world’.” … if the ‘real world’ even exists any more. And it’s not really fair to expect reasonable responses from teens, when the world around, with age and ‘maturity’ to its advantage–is at a deficit in these departments. Because certainly it isn’t an added dose of common sense that calls 200+ girls bullies, for wanting to protect their modesty and innocence… or simply shyness and reserve, if their innocence is already gone.

Seriously! Does no one else remember how vulnerable those teen puberty transitions were? From skinny, shapeless and flat to “what are those things?!” and privates developing in places that scared the willies out of us? I’d be constipated for life and with a wrecked bladder had I been forced to ‘go’ with a penis in the room. I’ve not been a boy, so I can’t speak for how they would react to such an intrusion…

Not to mention that it stands to reason, with statistics being 1 in 4, that some of those girls are victims of molestation and abuse… But no one seems concerned about how these girls feel about the presence of a penis in the room… or what trauma this may cause, with or without past sexual violations.

Here again, a group of middle-aged women who have raised boys would maybe be less intimidated, if not entirely oblivious… especially those of us who have worked in nursing homes, or other facilities where we’ve seen many, many, penises. But even some of us, who have been violated by someone with a penis, would suffer flashbacks and trauma.

And, alas, if the girls decided they would give in and accept such a thing and welcome Lila, penis and all… And should they happen to stare shamelessly, no doubt there would be another outcry of bullying. It really is impossible to win with reason, against the ever-changing demands of ignorance.

Meanwhile, in other news–albeit no more seasoned with common sense–Dr. Charlotte Resnick, on the opposite end of that ignorance-meter, is busy declaring it inappropriate for parents to kiss their babies/children on the lips. Okay…. back up here… How the Sam scratch is that sexual? And, let me get this straight… It’s okay for a teenage male–regardless of perceived, claimed or whatever, sexual orientation–to traumatize girls in a bathroom and it’s not a sexual issue, but parents planting a peck on babies lips is sexual? (Click here for link)

Warped isn’t even close…

I don’t consider myself the brightest light on the dashboard, but bright enough to see that something isn’t right with this picture. Humans with penises crying to get in the girls’ bathroom is now normal and healthy, and mamas kissing their babies, or daddies, that’s now perverted? French kissing, I agree but that’s another thing entirely. This general ignorance (aka enlightenment) frustrates me, at moments, when it’s nothing more than selfishness and a lack of common sense making demands, and some agenda at work….

And then I sit here, having expressed my frustration, and ask the questions… In spite of the ignorance, and my humanity in response to it, what is the Jesus thing to do? Accept it? I think not. Be silent? Where has that gotten us?

Maybe the better question would be, “What is the compassionate thing?” Because the compassionate thing–the truly, meaningful compassionate thing–is often closely connected to the Jesus thing. And that brings me back to the reality that Lila doesn’t need a flash mob. Lila needs someone who loves enough to teach consideration for other people. Because guaranteed, that entitlement spills into many areas of life. To confront it is the compassionate thing to do, and to listen with love, but not supporting or endorsing that behaviour. For without that confrontion, Lila will be a very, very lonely person… eventually.

Taking a stand and speaking truth, presenting Jesus as the Hope in the darkness; that is the loving thing to do. Not well received, often, but loving. And if I have to go to bat, I go to bat for truth, not against anyone, nor for anything, other than truth. Because truth doesn’t change even when the chaos all around spins out of control. Truth stands still and doesn’t budge.

And real truth loves the unlovable past all the ugly of life. Because God is love, God is Truth, and God loves Lila, and Charlotte, and the whole lot of us enough to die for the ugliest part of how we behave and who we are in our selfishness and humanity.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Finding Hope Between Gunshots, Affairs, Sex Trafficking & Wringing Hands

This week I sit here, hardly knowing how to speak hope into a dark situation. For if it isn’t about offering hope, then what purpose is there?

Sometimes the hope I present is that victims will be heard and their hearts cared for, while not over-compensating and leaving them stuck in hopeless victimization, soaking up sympathies. That’s a destruction all its own, to get absorbed in self-pity, and leaves victims lonely as hell. Sometimes the hope I present is that churches are starting to perk up and listen, and hold perpetrators of abuse accountable for their crimes and letting them face consequences, while still offering Jesus and His love and grace. But always, even in the most exposing and revealing of writings, my prayer is that truth will speak and hope will rise up in hearts of readers. And, where I ‘get it wrong’–because all of us are flawed and sinful–I pray that Truth will speak, and override my scribblings.

Looking at the scandals, the violence and the helpless wringing of hands, words don’t come so easily. It’s all a bit overwhelming. And, yet, apart from the shootings–and actually carrying out such ideation, it’s just a larger scale of the same kind of thing I deal with: people dealing with murderous thoughts and/or suicidal ideation, and hearing dark voices in their heads telling them to act out and follow through; molestation and sexual abuse–often covered up; affairs and infidelity… and children carelessly ‘pimped out’ in their own homes and churches…

And to accompany this there are usually people who want to make these things go away as fast as possible through religious lingo, cheap grace and shallow forgiveness.. The offenders, on the other hand, try to make it go away by putting blame on the victims. (My wife/husband didn’t fulfil me sexually… the child asked for the molestation and flirted with me… The people made racial slurs against me… They treated me different because I’m homosexual… She shouldn’t have been out on the street, especially not dressed like that… )

And we offer hope how?
By siding with making it go away as fast as possible, if we’re religious? Or by siding with the offenders and endorsing their faulty beliefs, or demonizing the victim? (It is the duty of a spouse to give into every sexual desire and whim of his/her partner, without a voice… If people didn’t make those racial and bigoted comments maybe Vester Lee Flanagan–Bryce Williams–wouldn’t have snapped… I saw how the little girl handled herself in a very sexual way and I can believe she did things to ask for the man to touch her… The girl shouldn’t have been so foolish as to get messed up with those people and get pimped out…)

No, we speak hope by pursing truth, both on a practical level and a spiritual level…

Truth in Marriage:
Husbands and wives are blessed, relationally, when they connect at a heart level and care for one another. Sexual intimacy is a beautifully bonding experience, when partners respect each other’s needs and desires, both sides of the equation. Being a trustworthy lover requires sensitivity to our partner, rather than using him or her without consideration. A spouse who is considerate and gives his/her partner a safe place, sexually– a place to engage or decline; a place to sacrifice personal preference by choice for the sake of the spouse–will have a more fulfilling relationship. Caring for others is always more rewarding, and truth is, barring other struggles or health issues, the partner is likely to be more responsive in bed. Simple math. That’s all that is.

canstockphoto6989077 edited

Truth in Bigotry Based on Race, Religion or Sexual Orientation:
Victims of racial/bigoted slurs or mistreatment because of homosexuality, religion or any other thing, will feel hurt. It’s human nature. And though no human has the right to attack another for their choices, their beliefs or for differences, it will happen to all of us and it is our responsibility to learn to deal well with that side of it. However, not all opposing views are attacks, slurs or bigoted. It stands to reason–if there’s much reason left in the world–that if one side expresses themselves, the other side should have the same privilege, even if it steps on toes and collides with beliefs. That is not ‘homophobia’ or ‘persecution’ or ‘bullying’. It is the expression of differing views and if you have any confidence in your point of view at all, hearing an opposing view won’t offend. The greater the offence, the more glaring the insecurity. Shooting people to make a statement is about inner rage and personal issues, not about racial slurs, job losses or other offences. I would venture a guess that it’s a narcissistic response to the consequences of personal irresponsibility.

Truth in Sex Trafficking:
Sex trafficking victims are often struggling teens, though not always, whose vulnerability is exploited by predators. In rebellion or not, to put the crimes of skilled criminals on vulnerable and immature youth, not to mention often very trusting and naive ones–and sometimes even sweet, gentle and innocent youth–is simply not right. They are victims of horrible crime and need us to do what we can to help, and to stop this evil.

Truth in Child Molestation:
And a child ‘asking for it’ when he or she is molested is just out of this world insane. That a full grown adult could say such a thing is beyond horrific. Even more so coming from a person professing Christ. Unfortunately some buy into their lies and excuse themselves based on it. I could list numerous such (current) cases, but won’t. But I will say this, when a man in his 40’s has the audacity to say, “But she wanted it”, of a girl not quite ten years old, things are going to hell in a hand basket, and fast. And in any community that accepts this as a reasonable argument, there is a lack of discernment, to say the very least. Often there’s a bit more behind it than all that, but we’ll not go there today.

Truth, Freedom & Hope:
The reality is that truth brings freedom, and the hidden thing brings death and destruction. I’ve referred to the story of Achan before, and will again, because it’s a reality that will never change. God hates the hidden thing, and He’s creative about exposing it. And when He does, we are each given the opportunity to respond with repentance and ‘owning up’, or we can push the blame, excuse ourselves or find some other way to derail responsibility.

Truth brings freedom and offers hope. And part of truth is accepting responsibility, without excuses. But hope… hope is a Promise from Heaven that is given to us, a gift from God through Jesus, when we embrace truth; all truth. And hope is the beautiful thing that makes accepting responsibility possible, without being swallowed up in shame.

Hope…

Because of what Jesus did on the cross… And He did it for the worst sinners, the likes of Josh (we all know at least some of what he did), and Noel Biderman (founder of Ashley Madison who justifies adultery and isn’t the least bit sorry)… And then there’s me… who once held a gun contemplating murder….

And maybe that’s why, even though I believe in accountability and consequences, I believe in the power of Jesus and hope to transform lives. It’s so hard to deny the existence of a precious gift I hold in my hands…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

At the End of the Road (Suicides, Crime & Fallout from Ashley Madison Leak)

The house is empty now… devoid of laughter and voices; perfectly still. The family dog no longer runs playfully after the pitter-patter of little feet. Mostly she just lays there, on the mat by the door, disinterested and depressed.  The teddy bear, still curled up on the floor where it was dropped that day, remains untouched. I wonder, does she cry for it, or has a new one taken it’s place? Covers unmade, hanging off the bed… A dress never worn again, on the arm of the corner chair. Everything else, perfectly in place, and clean, except for the collecting dust. It builds up so fast.

canstockphoto28140620

Has it really been only two weeks? Two long, hopelessly silent weeks? It seems like forever. The sun stopped shining, as if drawing a curtain on the world, with no promise of tomorrow. It has rained for two weeks now, and the forecast shows no sign of change. How did the elements know that on that day, my world would lose it’s light? I didn’t even appreciate the light when I had it…

I should have seen it coming, I suppose. And in a way I did. But I kept saying it would change. I would change. I kept promising to get help; to do better, that I would stop, and they would be safe. I kept telling myself that I meant it. And I thought I did. But always, always, I was too weak and gave into my addictions. And always I abused them one more time until there was nothing left of the light that once sparkled in their eyes. The joy that once danced there, gone.

I wonder, was their world this dark, all those years? Had the sun set on them long ago? Did I just pretend there was laughter… that the dog wagged and chased and played? Did I lie to myself about that too, just so I could live with myself? Telling myself it wasn’t so bad, that they’d be okay?

Are they okay now? Now that I’m not with them, does their sun shine again? Do they laugh, and play and sing? I can’t bear to think of it, of them…

The house is empty now… devoid of laughter and voices; perfectly still. The family dog no longer runs playfully after the pitter-patter of little feet. Mostly she just lays there, disinterested and depressed.  The stuffing spills carelessly onto the floor, from the teddy bear still curled up on the floor, where it was dropped that day. The dog walks over, picks it up and carries it to her bed…  It’s all that’s left of the scent of her…

…that teddy bear, and the haunting memories and nightmares that visit me in my sleep…

This is the end of the road, for me, for us. The end result of the choices I made, this lonely hellish silence. I study the photos in my hand… My face has been ripped from some of them… I try not to think about it, but truth is I wonder which one hated me that much… or did they all? I run my finger along the outlines of their faces… I imagine standing in front of them and, if I had one more chance to talk to them, what would I say?

canstockphoto27096336

“It’s not your fault.” I think that’s what I would want to say, to release them.

But it’s too late now…. now that I finally see it. Oh, I used to blame them, and say if they did better, I wouldn’t be like I am…. I wouldn’t make these ‘mistakes’. I did that to make me feel better too. But it wasn’t their fault, the way I was, and they were not ‘mistakes’, the things that I did… They were crimes,  and they were sins… And I did it to them. I chose to hurt them… I betrayed them. It was my lust, my lack of self control, my self interest, my sin… All of it is mine to own. Here. Alone.

“God, forgive me…. I don’t deserve Your grace. I don’t deserve them.”

****

As crimes and suicides are reported as possibly, even probably, being linked to the Ashley Madison leak, this ‘image’ of lonely people in vacant relationships played out in my mind… I pray that people will come face to face with truth in a way that is redemptive, not destructive, and that no more lives will be lost. The choices we make, relationally, always come with a price tag, a reward, or both. And the choice is always our own, and therefore the end result is the thing we each must face. And at the end of the road, when we stand in front of the mirror and see ourselves as we really are, we are confronted, again, with a choice. Do we accept responsibility or do we blame others and demand they overlook, ‘forgive on our terms’, or find some way or another to try to get off the hook?

There is always hope for a new life, and that is true whether you are a pastor, a police officer, a politician, a doctor, or a “Josh Duggar’–someone who has presented idealistic Christianity while sinning blatantly in the same arena–or any other human. No matter who you are, or what you have done, there is always an opportunity for new beginnings. But sometimes that ‘new’ begins by sitting alone in an empty house, because everyone who tired of the betrayal has packed and left. No matter who you are or what you have done, the ‘way out’ is to face it, own it, and ask for forgiveness without agenda; forgiveness that releases the people we wounded, allowing them to grieve and heal their way, and even to walk away.

My prayer is that many of the 40,000 people on the Ashley Madison list will own their sins, repent and find hope, freedom, forgiveness and new life.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Consume Any Strong Drink… Except Coffee

“A promise made, is a promise to be kept”
~ Mother of Princess, in one of many versions of Frog Prince ~

About a year ago, or so, I promised a friend I would write a blog post about wine and strong drink, from a biblical world view, as I understand my Bible in plain English, minus any constitutions, opinions, condemnations or endorsements. Just the simple reading of God’s Word on the topic.

I went to great lengths and eventually had what I thought was a post worthy of sharing. And that’s when it happened, and I still don’t know how or why, but it all disappeared without a trace of it. I have around 100 drafts saved–some that will never see the public space, and some that I will return to eventually–but I can’t recall many times when a post simply disappeared into thin air, besides the one I mentioned in my previous post, and this one.

Of course some would declare it was God’s intervention, that the post was not meant to be published, while others would be as confident that the devil did it, not wanting people to know the freedom that comes with truth. I think it just happened, with neither angels or demons interfering, because technology is quirky and I am human. Be that as it may, after all that writing and it disappearing, I couldn’t bring myself to rewrite the whole thing, at least not right away, because my brain tries hard to recreate what I just wrote and it gets too frustrating.

Now, a year or so later, I am thinking about this topic again and remembering my promise to a friend… To be honest, in a way I am not in the mood to open this can of worms right now, with such strong views on both sides of the argument; both backed by Bible verses and well-meaning arguments, but I recognize that as me wanting to be in everyone’s good books…. And playing in my mind are the words of Princess’s mother, in Frog Prince,  “A promise made, is a promise to be kept”….

wine and coffee

I will start by sharing from two well-written blogs on the topic–one with which I disagree, and the other which expresses my views well. In the case of the former, I appreciate the gentleman’s ‘tone’ and the heart that comes through.

In his post, ” A Caution for Every Christian That Drinks Alcohol”, Nathan Rouse is careful not to blast Christians who choose to consume alcohol, and he doesn’t call having a drink sin. In this he shows grace. His tone, all around, comes across as compassionate, while encouraging believers to think twice about where and how they drink. He condemns drunkenness as sin, as the Bible also states, and with which I also agree. However, he goes on to challenge drinking in public and joking about it carelessly.

Nathan writes: “The often overlooked sin that is rearing its ugly head are Christians displaying their love and consumption of alcohol to those around them in public and on social media, when there are many around them that struggle with this temptation and addiction.”

And a bit later he writes, “We sin against other Christians and “wound their conscience” (as well as sin against Christ) when we openly act in a way that would cause them to stumble.”

With no desire to be critical–especially since Nathan’s heart is not on the attack–I can’t agree with this view that it is okay to drink, but not in public. My struggle with this presentation of ‘right and wrong’ about drinking is that it collides with the example of Christ. Jesus did not drink in hidden and private places; He was who He was, everywhere He went, and people saw Him drink. Otherwise He would not have been labelled as a’glutton and winebibber’ for ‘eating and drinking’, in contrast with John the Baptist who ‘did not eat’ and ‘did not drink’ and was said to have a devil. The problem in the minds of people, it seemed, was that neither John (through abstinence) nor Jesus (through moderate consumption) met their ‘standard’ and therefore they didn’t measure up. (Sound familiar?) But clearly Jesus didn’t hide His glass of wine. If no one had seen Him drink, He would not have been compared in contrast with John the Bapstist, and He also would not have endorsed their claims by saying that He did, indeed, come ‘eating and drinking’.

Luke 7:33-35 (NKJV) 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating (bread) and drinking (wine), and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

To say that in this area we cannot trust the example and behaviour of Christ doesn’t sit right with me. Jesus went further and made wine at a wedding. And, no, it wasn’t grape juice. That’s a silly argument that requires a fair bit of religious acrobatics to support. So I’m not buying it. In John 2:10 the Master of the wedding–or the wedding planner–calls the bridegroom apart and says, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” It’s an obvious statement that ‘when the guests have well drunk’ they will be too inebriated to realize they are being served the cheaper wine. Grape juice doesn’t require having had a lot to drink in order to miss the detail of it now being ‘no name brand and watered down grape juice’ versus Welch’s. These are common sense realities, not something that requires much explaining or studying or twisting the Bible. Jesus drank wine. And Jesus made wine. In public.

The second article is What Does the Bible Really Say About Alcohol?, by Preston Sprinkle, is also a worthy read. In it the author writes from a very ‘unadulterated, take the bible at face value’ view and incorporates some common sense to the reasoning:

“If Christians want to forbid all alcohol consumption to avoid drunkenness, then to be consistent, they should also avoid making a lot of money to guard against the crushing sin of materialism and the misuse of wealth.”

And, might I add, we should then also forbid the eating of food, seeing as gluttony is a rather substantial problem in the church. And, to fully understand gluttony, do a word study on it–in biblical terms–or simply look up a dictionary definition. Gluttony isn’t just about overeating. We have created, in some cases, entire societies and cultures of gluttony while carefully avoiding and even religiously condemning the consumption of alcohol. Religious leaders, addicted to food, slowly kill themselves over a period of years and die ‘saved’, with no worry for their souls from those around them. A few young people make dreadful choices one night, drink too much, crash and die on the way home, and their salvation is not only questioned; they are openly condemned to hell with no room for a possibility of their salvation. There is something wrong with this way of thinking. But that’s another blog post. Or book.

I am against drunkenness. I don’t see how that is godly and Christlike any more than the worship of ‘perfect food’ and living on ‘2o course meals’, or otherwise living materialistic lives. I also don’t see how drunkenness is less godly than these aforementioned sins. In all things, my Bible tells me, we are to live temperate lives. In all things we are to walk in love and grace. Yes, we are to be careful not to offend the weaker brother, but there’s a whole lot of ‘bully big brothers’ (and sisters) out there crying ‘protect me from stumbling… don’t have that wine… don’t wear that dress… don’t do anything that makes me stumble… take care of me… me… me.”

That’s manipulation, plain and simple, and selfish to boot. And it isn’t about struggling or stumbling; it is about religious control and immaturity. Become a man deeply rooted in Christ, and a woman so lost in Him that you don’t need babysitting any longer. Abstain if that is your desire, but be mature enough to not judge everyone around you. My husband has not had a swallow of alcohol in his life, and yet he reminds me to have my half glass of red wine, from time to time, when my I have digestive issues, because he has seen the difference it makes in my gastric health. (What’s that verse by Apostle Paul again? Something about a little wine to help with digestion, or something like that?) For my husband abstinence is a quiet and personal conviction that requires no pampering from fellow believers. And our second son made the same ‘vow’ of his own accord, as a young man of about 12. Yet neither one feels the need to judge others for having a drink, or for others to abstain to accommodate their convictions.

On the other hand, to those genuinely struggling, I am sorry that alcohol has become the thing you turned to in order to self medicate and get through life. I think we both know that your problem is not alcohol, but a deep vacancy and terror of looking inside at the loneliness, rejection, failure, wounds and whatever all resides deep in your spirit. I have friends who have been in your place of struggle and it is hard. They say alcohol was never their problem; it was their escape. Like my friends, you can be free. And if the presence of wine or strong drink causes you offence or struggle, good friends will be sensitive to you; just ask. True friends will respect your struggle and honour you when you come to dinner.

But don’t stop there. Find someone who is willing to (figuratively) hold your hand while you look deep inside your wounded soul, and find healing. You may never be okay around any form of alcohol, and that’s not the end of the world. But to simply remove it, and find ways to ‘overcome’ or ‘resist’ without finding deeper purpose and hope, robs you of full life.  Jesus came to give you abundant life and being a slave to something–whether actively indulging, or spending every day avoiding it–is not abundant life; that is bondage.

Heaping man-made rules on people that trump the example of Christ, is not also bondage, and is adamantly condemned by Jesus in Matthew 23. We are not more holy than Christ, and to tell anyone that His example was not godly is a sad day in the world of Christianity. We are called to authentic living, representing the Gospel of Jesus, not religious excellence and image. It is the same Apostle Paul who challenges us to not offend the stumbling brother, confronts an unauthentic Peter in Galations 2: 11-14, because that lack of authenticity misrepresent Jesus and the Gospel.

Finally, lest anyone should walk away saying “Trudy promotes drunkenness”…  I don’t. I promote temperance, Christ-likeness, and holy living. As Christ followers we need to care for those who truly are weaker, and be mindful of our bodies as a place where the Holy Spirit dwells. This is done through relationship with God and people, and through transparency,  not through hiding in the closet with a glass of wine–or a bottle, as the case may be–while presenting as an abstainer, or (alternatively) making a list of rules and judging the Christ-likeness of fellow believers by them, rather than by the example of Christ.

Whether you walk away with a strengthened resolve to never touch wine, or whether you are sipping the final drops from the glass you had in your hand while reading, give God the glory and honour Him with your choices. Extend grace to your brothers and sisters in Christ with differing views. And love all like Jesus did.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger