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