A long time friend recently emailed me regarding my book, my web-sight, and my thoughts regarding several subjects including that of LGBTQ individuals and gay marriage. Although I was somewhat aware of his (what I will respectfully refer to as) highly-conservative beliefs, we previously never discussed or faith.
There were several other claims or references to my so called blasphemous thoughts and claims. For instance, his questioning if my offering Reiki services is my claiming that I have the same healing power as Jesus and is documented in the Bible. Obviously, I no where make or even allude to such a claim.
A focus on his part became apparent: homosexuality in totality, and then on same-sex marriage. In several emails, he sighted Bible verses in an attempt to convince me that it was not approved by God and is a sinful act. It became obvious that he would remain rooted in his narrow vision of God and the Truth that the Bible offers.
The overall theme of the Christian Bible is that God loves everyone and has forgiven everyone through Jesus—this includes LGBTQ community. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “The world” means everyone, including LGBTQ people, but demonstrates God’s love and acceptance for all of His children.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Rom 8:38) This message is for all people, including LGBTQ individuals.
God did not make a mistake in creating LGBTQ people. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:113-14) Sexual identity and gender identity are components of a person’s “being”, and as such are part of who God made each of us to be (“you created my inmost being”).
God welcomes people of all genders and sexual identities. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Also “…God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) Jesus gladly socialized with people that the religious establishment disapproved of. (Matt 9:11)
The Church needs its LGBTQ members. “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
The early church welcomed non-gender-conforming people. One of the first recorded baptisms by the apostles was of an Ethiopian eunuch. (Acts 8:27)
Love is a gift from God: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
God made us to be in relationship with Him and with each other: “it is bad for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) It would be inconsistent with God’s loving nature to create people who were gay and then condemn them to a life of loneliness. Heterosexual marriage is presented as an example (rather than a definition) of how God puts people in relationships; in Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The clause “that is why” points back to 2:18.
God creates community and families, uniting people together: “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:5). God can and does create unions with all types of people, including LGBTQ individuals.
Examples of love between people of the same gender in the Bible:
David and Jonathan. “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” (1 Samuel 18:1) David says of Jonathan: “Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26).
The Centurion and his servant (Matt 8:5-10). The word used for “servant” here, was commonly used to describe a servant who was a romantic partner of the master.
All people, including LGBTQ individuals, were created in God’s image: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, NSRV) The use of the two primary genders in this passage is likely a “merism”, a figure of speech by which a single thing (in this case, humanity) is referred to by a phrase that lists several of its parts, but does not list all components. (Similarly, in Genesis 1:1, the universe is referred to as “the heavens and the earth”.) This also indicates that God is not limited to a single gender.
There are several characters in the Bible who were non-gender-conforming, meaning that they did not behave according to traditional gender roles, or that they were not physically typical of men or women.
Jacob preferred to be with his mother at home, enjoyed cooking and was smooth-skinned, in contrast to his brother, who was hairy and preferred to hunt and be outdoors. (Genesis 25)
Joseph, Jacob’s son, was given an “ornate robe” by his father (Genesis 37:3); the Hebrew word used here for the robe (ketonet passim) is used elsewhere to mean “the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore” (2 Samuel 13:18).
Deborah (Judges 4-5) was a judge of Israel, acting as a prophet and military leader at a time when women were treated like property and valued by the number of children they could bear.
Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the palace women in the story of Esther, helped Esther to become queen. Ebed-Melech also was a eunuch, who saved the life of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38).
The man carrying a water jar, whom Jesus indicated would take the disciples to the room for his last supper, was doing work that was normally done by women, and yet was given this part to play in Jesus’ ministry.
The Bible contains feminine images of God, in addition to the masculine metaphors of “Father” and “King”.
God’s wisdom in Proverbs is personified as female (Proverbs 1:20, 8:1, 9:1), and Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Many references to God describe actions associated with women: nurturing life in the womb (Psalm 139:13), giving birth (John 3:5-6), and protecting children (Matthew 23:37).
When seeking to understand any Bible verse, it is important to know the context of the verse, as well as how the verse has been translated from the original language. The following are points to consider when thinking about the verses that have been used to justify prohibitions on same-sex marriage and full participation in church community for LGBTQ people. Nowhere in the Bible, taken in its original language and context, is there a prohibition against loving, consensual same-sex relationships, nor against people living as their authentic genders.
Genesis 19:1-13 The Sodom & Gomorrah story is preceded by examples of Abraham and Lot being very welcoming to strangers. The lack of hospitality and the desire to do violence to the visitors were considered grave transgressions, regardless of the gender of the visitors. The reference in Jude 1:7 to “strange flesh” likely refers to the fact that the angels they wanted to assault were not human. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)
Leviticus 18:22 The NIV translation of this verse reads: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” The literal translation of the original Hebrew, however, is “And with male you shall not lie lyings woman.” The word translated as “lyings” is found elsewhere only in Genesis 49:4, where it refers to incest. In Leviticus, this verse comes in a list of prohibitions against having sex with family members, so it is reasonable to conclude that it is a prohibition against incest.
Romans 1:26-27 Here, Paul is condemning the sinful and harmful acts he perceives in Roman culture at the time. Since same-gender and non-heterosexual attractions are natural, this condemnation is not directed at LGBTQ people. In Romans 2:1, Paul condemns those who misuse God’s teachings to judge others.
1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9-11 The NIV translations of these verses read, respectively: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men . . .“ and “We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, . . .”
The word translated as “homosexuals” and “men who have sex with men” is the Greek word arsenokoitai, which more accurately translates to “men who sleep with male prostitutes”. The word “homosexual” is not found in the Bible in translations written prior to 1948, implying that it was likely added as a result of the translators’ own prejudices.
Matthew 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’?” In the same section, in verse 12, Jesus says, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” It is evident that Jesus was aware that gender variance existed, and he does not condemn it.
Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” The word translated as “clothing” here, keli, is translated elsewhere as “armor”, and the word translated as “man”, geber, actually means “warrior”. This implies a prohibition against intent to deceive by pretending to be a warrior, or for a warrior to deceive by disguising himself as a woman.
For those who might feel it is “better to be safe than sorry” in sticking with the “traditional” teaching on LGBTQ issues, consider that the Bible does not tell us to judge or make life difficult for other people. There are seven passages that have been used to justify bias against LGBTQ people, but there are over a hundred about love — so it may be safest to focus on love! Scripture has been used to justify slavery, to exclude divorced people from full participation in the sacraments, to exclude women from ministry, and to persecute left-handed people; if the church has been wrong in its treatment of LGBTQ issues, this would not be unprecedented.
John 8:7 “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Throughout the Bible, God warns against casting judgments upon others.
Matthew 25: 34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”
Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Consider this in the context of LGBTQ people who lost their faith because their church told them God did not love them.
John 6:39 “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me. . .” God would not want LGBTQ people to be driven away from the church or lose their faith.
With much appreciation and credit to: http://www.sthugh.net/lgbtq-affirming-scripture
It is apparent to me that the Bible supports what my heart and soul equally knew: that God loves, supports and welcomes all of us. God doesn’t judge or discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation. God’s love is whole and inclusive. Those who don’t embrace all, love all, include all, and support all are blinded by their personal prejudices and fears. I pray that those who have strayed from the path of love and truth due to their blinding fears will some day, in some way, find their way once again to be able to “walk in the light of God.”
“You are what you think.” This philosophy has been stated numerous times, by numerous people, in a multitude of ways. Simply believing that change is possible makes change possible . . .
But what is the reason and more importantly the spiritual significance of this phenomenon? Why does your mind, your thoughts hold so much influence and power over your life, development and success? Why does your perception of life become your reality of life? Perception acts as a lens through which you view reality. Your perceptions influence how you focus on, process, remember, interpret, understand, decide, and act on reality. In doing so, you may assume that how you perceive reality is an accurate representation of what reality truly is. But then if my reality differs from your reality—what is real, what is reality?
That right there is at the core of all of these questions? What is reality?
To answer this, we cannot begin with who we are here within the human experience, we must place our attention to our true self. We need to place our focus on who we are on the other side, for this is our true “home” and our true existence.
On the other side, you are not a divided being as you are here. As a human you are conflicted, separated and compartmentalized. There is the mind, the ego, the self and the soul, all simultaneously competing for a say, representation and dominance.
As a celestial being, your mind (thoughts), heart (desires) and soul (self) are united harmoniously as one singular flow of consciousness. In heaven, your home . . . there are no limitations. You come from and will return to heaven where all is known by all, and your thoughts instantly create your personal reality. This is the flow of creativity, manifesting the existence and perception you desire. If you desire the appearance of a human body, then it is so. If you prefer to express yourself as a being of pure energy, then it is so. There is no limitation or even the existence of time and space. You can observe all in time, forwards and backwards. There are no barriers to obstruct you. In this creative, free forming flow of existence your perception is instantaneously your reality.
This in many ways parallels our human existence, what you think you become; you experience and manifest in your life. This is why it is important to control what you think.
Do not stifle your creative thinking. For this is your inner spirit expressing its Divinity—to be the creator. There is one significant difference. Here many are obscured from the energy and flow of the Divine. As your “awakening” begins, so does the flow of the Divine artistry within. You’ll begin to creatively express and perceive Divine reality within your earthly reality. This is where the true magic of life begins. It only continues to blossom from there—to become the creative creator of your life and the world around you. The inner competition ceases, now unified in the creation of your personal Nirvana.
All anger is rooted in fear. There are only five root sources of this fear:
• The fear that I let you down or I am letting you down, which fosters feelings of guilt that must be denied.
• The fear that you let me down or you are letting me down, creating feelings of abandonment or disappointment, which lead to feelings of unworthiness and woundedness.
• The fear of humiliation through inappropriate actions, which prompts one person to deny the action or shift the focus and blame to another person.
• The fear that results from utter frustration, which creates a feeling of helplessness and a lack of control. Anger replaces a call for help.
• The final source of anger is rooted in ignorance that leads to fear. Whatever one does not understand makes one’s ego feel insecure and frightened; therefore, one must fear.
We witness the display of anger in four forms:
• The yeller and screamer (like Lauren and Ray) who gets in your face and totally loses their composure.
• The person who makes snide remarks in a passive-aggressive manner and makes their feelings known but avoids addressing the situation directly, leaving that up to you.
• The needler who disapprovingly picks, picks, picks relentlessly. This person never addresses you personally, which causes feelings of resentment because it leaves you clueless about the base problem.
• The run-away who can’t face you at all. This person avoids you or shuns you; the run-away will never address you and will leave you unaware about why, or even if, they are upset.
Many people will employ more than one of these techniques, depending on the situation, the level of animosity, and the particular individual with whom they are upset or feel hurt by. Yes, anger can hurt the recipient. More importantly, there is an even greater amount of harm and self-inflicted pain for the person who carries or emits anger toward others. It is toxic to their soul.
Whether the feeling of anger is rising up in you or is being directed at you, you can now control it. Realizing the source of anger gives you the ability to have strength through understanding, compassion, and patience in the face of anger. Recognize that there are only two true emotions: love and fear. Yes, fear, not hate—hate, like anger, is a byproduct of fear.
You can now identify the various expressions of anger. This gives you the ability to recognize it in all of its true forms. You are now provided with the tools to avoid the trappings and pitfalls of anger. You no longer need to lower yourself to its level. Instead, you can rise above it because you possess the power to respond with purpose and truth.
People may ask, “Why should I have to be the bigger person? Why should I have to rise above it?” The answer is simple: because you are not doing this for the other person; you are doing this wholly for yourself. You are doing it to improve your life, increase your enjoyment, and ensure that happiness and harmony are yours. If it has a similar effect on the other individual, wonderful—call it a bonus. This is an act that genuinely comprises the five tenants—love, kindness, patience, truth, and compassion. Make no mistake about it—the shedding of anger in your life is one of the most wondrous gifts you can give yourself.
A Shortened Excerpt from:
The Journey of Truth:
Chronicles of a Peaceful Warrior
by Tony R. Zonca
Prayer is a powerful method of bettering one’s life and connecting with the Divine. Through prayer you are empowering the Heavens to bring your desires and needs to fruition. Simply through the act of prayer, you provide tranquility and harmony to your day. Over time, you will develop a personal relationship with those to whom you pray. The mindful thought of prayer has similar effects as meditations. Your thoughts are centered and focused on a singular subject or area. You are mindful and removed from distractions, living in the moment with a singular focus.
Talk to God as you would talk to a friend, for that is what He wishes to be. Pray at any moment of the day or night. While you are taking your morning shower, walking the dog, or washing the dishes are all perfect opportunities for prayer. Don’t limit your prayer times to iconic times of the day such as when you awake or before sleep. When possible, pray out loud. Your voice has power. Let the Heavens hear your voice.
Being unhappy in your present job, being mistreated or simply feeling unfulfilled, are just subject for prayer. If you desire a new car, pray for a new car. God wants you to be happy and have nice things. As long as these things are not directed by the ego as a replacement for God. Your prayers must be ego free and bring no harm to others.
Praying for peace in your life, while continuing to harbor anger in your heart and mind is pointless. Praying for the strength and wisdom to release your heart and mind to overcome anger would be much more effective. Exploring the subject through prayer to find the route of the anger would be equally beneficial.
If for example, you are praying for a new job, don’t simply pray to God for a better job. First, pray for the fortitude and endurance to continue in your present position. Not being overwhelmed by negativity of your present job will ensure you won’t miss any new prospects or avenues as they present themselves. Pray for the insight not to miss the window of opportunity, and for the drive to explore every opportunity as they are presented to you. There is a distinct difference and end result between asking God to do this for you, and for God to empower you with the tools to achieve it for yourself. After all, God helps those who help themselves.
Whatever you are praying for, do so as if it has already been provided to you. From a heavenly perspective, our prayers can easily be confused regarding exactly what we are asking for. For example, if your prayer begins with, “Please can you help me in my quest to find a better job.” From a heavenly perspective, instead of asking for assistance in finding a better job, it could be easily misinterpreted that you are asking for challenges in the pursuit of a new job and therefore that is what you will receive; challenges and obstacles to overcome. In contrast if you begin your prayer with, “Thank you for your assistance in my quest to find a better job,” the results you desire of a new found opportunity will be provided at the appropriate time.
When praying, your words and thoughts are conveyed through energy from you to the heavenly recipients. It’s not always the literal words we are saying but the overall message being communicated. That is why it is essential to pray in the tense that the requested is already going to be done for you. When starting with thank you, it accomplishes two crucial things at once. The form of the request is properly stated as “already being so,” and the necessary gratitude is simultaneously being offered.
A Shortened Excerpt form:
The Journey of Truth:
Chronicles of a Peaceful Warrior
by Tony R. Zonca
While sharing brunch with another couple, and the gentleman made a Buddha reference when he said that he can’t meditate because he has a monkey mind. This term references one’s inability to quiet their thoughts when meditating because their mind jumps around from one thought to another like a monkey in the jungle, leaping from branch to branch and tree to tree. Some people believe they can’t meditate because they have difficulty quieting their mind. This is simply untrue. With patience, persistence, and the right approach, everyone can experience the benefits of being mindful through meditation.
When you go into the space of nothingness, everything becomes known.
— Gautama Buddha
The ego has the ability to create false thoughts—the inner chatter we hear most often. Many people approach meditation by clearing their mind and stopping their thoughts. Instead, you can simply practice focusing your attention on one thing, and when your mind wanders, refocus and continue. When thoughts or feelings arise, stay with them for a moment, honor them, release them, and return to your mindful focus. This appeases the ego’s need to be included without letting it become overly disruptive. Over time, these “interruptions” will decrease and fade away.
If you find those random thoughts are getting in the way and making it difficult to focus during your meditation, then don’t take on too much at once. Use a mantra or visualization technique to occupy and focus your thoughts. Also, limit the amount of time you meditate to ten minutes per session. This will greatly increase your success rate. The longer you meditate, the more likely it is that your focus will drift or jump around like that monkey. Do the ten-minute routine for two weeks straight. You’ll see how it increases your results. Don’t rush it; when you’re ready, increase the dedicated time by five minutes. With a little patience, you will get to where you want to be. After all, on the first day of training for a marathon, you wouldn’t begin by running a marathon. You would start out slowly by perhaps running a mile or so and building up your stamina from there.
Here is an approach that can make a significant difference and also trick the ego into feeling included—journaling. Prior to meditating, grab a notebook and a pen or pencil. Write down every random thought that comes to mind. Release your stream of consciousness prior to meditating. Don’t concern yourself with making sentences, spelling correctly, or even if it truly makes any sense. Just jot it all down. When your mental jettison is complete, write one last thing: “We are done. We are ready to meditate.” We represents the inclusion of you and the ego. In the process of journaling, you will tire out the ego and all of its distractive chatter.
The Journey of Truth:
Chronicles of a Peaceful Warrior
by Tony R. Zonca