Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Lies Beneath the Consciences of Antigay Christians

It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love. --John Lennon
Years ago, I had a straight friend who would ask me so many questions about being gay -- anything from what type of girl I liked to what I did in the bedroom. I was always uncomfortable being asked these things, because even if I was straight, I don't want to explain anything that personal to a friend. She always wanted to know details and "how" can two women be together 'like that'. Why was she so curious? A year later, I found out why. She had her own issues of being "bi-curious' -- she didn't know if she was straight or gay. Many people feel that way, they can go either way -- and that's okay. It's who you love regardless of the gender for some people. Even these days, I have had three people that seemed like they were badgering me about religion and sin and whatnot. I always take the time to respond and give them my views, interpretations and outlook on homosexuality vs. religion. Well, two of them happen to be ex-gays and the one girl happens to be caught up in a love triangle with her husband and her husband's friend. She eventually left her husband and married the new guy. In the Bible, divorce is a sin. What she did is considered "adultery" in the Bible. In order for it not to be a sin, her late husband needs to be deceased, before she can remarry. (Sounds like an episode on Snapped.) So let me just give them pseudo names for a moment. "Sam" knew the Bible inside and out. He quoted scriptures from Leviticus, Corinthians and Romans that "clearly" state that homosexuality is a sin. After I explained those scriptures to him and the context to which they were in, as well as where the word "homosexuality" derived from 2000 years ago, he was sort of stumped. I didn't mean to put Sam in a state of confusion, but the beliefs of other Christians scared him away from being himself. "Mike" came to me letting me know his distaste for "twisting the scriptures to suit my lifestyle". (That's a common phrase among many antigay Christians.) He was much more abrasive than the others, where he got super defensive in his argument. I told him that God doesn't see gender, He sees love. He disagreed, so I asked him, "What about an intersexed person (hermaphrodite) who has both, male and female genitalia? Do they have to remain single? What gender are they supposed to pick?" Nobody -- not one person can give me a concrete answer. That's why I know God does not see gender. Not even a week went by before I got another private email letting me know that he too, was once in love with a man. "Tammy" tried giving me a debate, but because of her own fear of "sin" -- she wanted to know more or less if she was going to hell for loving another man. The only thing that I can say is -- you have to have a relationship with God, faith and to be able to forgive yourself as well as ask for forgiveness. I do believe infidelity hurts people, which is why I believe forgiveness is in order, not for just the person who was hurt by the action, but for the person who initially did this for reasons unknown. I am not one to judge. I still have many stones inside my pocket.

Grindr pic from Dustin's phone.
But you see a common theme here? All three of these people who contacted me were asking me so many questions because they feared their own fate. My entire point is, whenever you come across someone so rigid and against gays and lesbians, (or whatever it may be) you have this underlining reflection of who they truly are. This is not the first time I have said this, but I truly believe that homophobic people have homosexual tendencies. The fear that goes into the "FEAR OF RELIGION" is what sets them apart -- becoming defensive in debates with other Christian gay people. Look at what happened with Rep. Randy Boehning, a 52 year old Republican legislator from Fargo, North Dakota who also happens to be a lawmaker who recently made a public retaliation against expanding gay rights. He sent explicit photos of himself to a 21 year old man named, Dustin Smith. Smith recognized Boehning by his photo on Grindr -- a gay hookup site. Boehning was under the name, "Top Man" while chatting with these young boys. Boehning also stated that there were people in his life who also knew he was gay and was glad that he is now outed. So why would he vote against gay rights? Was it to hide who he truly was? Was it all out of fear?

Aaron & Melissa Klein
Of course you heard about the bakery, Sweet Cakes in Oregon? The bakery owners refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple for their wedding, citing their religious rights. A civil complaint was filed by the lesbian couple and on Friday, the judge fined the bakery $135,000 in emotional damages to the couple that they turned away. Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes set up a GoFundMe page. Melissa stated on her Facebook page that the amount owed would put them out of business. GoFundMe raised over $100,000 before it was shut down the very next day. Melissa wrote on her Facebook page: "Satan's really at work but I know our God has a plan and wins in the end!" The thing is, the Kleins violated the their state's anti-discriminatory laws, which gave GoFundMe the right to refuse service to the bakery owners. Now isn't that a kick in the ass? A little dose of her own medicine.

This is not about being "religious" and keeping your faith by discriminating against gays. This is pure bigotry, because you're not turning away people who have tattoos, those who are clean shaven, divorcees, or people of other faiths -- people who worship other gods! You're picking one group to demonstrate your bigoted views. And in return, when the same thing is done to you -- it's uncalled for. I mean, personally, I would've just left the bakery and headed out to another one. I couldn't care less if you didn't serve me, because I know that God works in mysterious ways and that eventually, you'll learn to do what Jesus did: accept and show love to all people. There are too many hypocrites in the Christian faith which makes it very hard to even call myself a Christian. But, because I have studied the Bible for over 20 years and have a relationship with Jesus -- I know that I know that I know -- that if you treat people like dirt, then you are treating Jesus like dirt. That's right in your Bibles too. The amount of energy and hatred that is demonstrated by Christians only tell me that they fear their own fate. They are guilty or "feel guilty" about something brewing within their own lives. We all have our 'thang', and none of us can throw stones, but when you feel "righteous" enough to tear other people apart in the name of God -- karma has a funny way of teaching you valuable lessons.

Just recently, a gay waiter over at Carrabba's Italian Grill in Kansas served diners who refused to tip him. They wrote,
“Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. Queers do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your fag choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’s love, but none shall be spared for fags. May GOD have mercy on you.” 
They sound like good church-going folks, don't they? First of all, it's none of their business who he loves -- and how did they know for sure he was gay in the first place? (I mean, yes -- sometimes the gaydar does reach high frequencies) -- but to just automatically assume, is ignorant in itself. Then, they don't just put their twisted religious views down, they called him a "queer" and a "fag" and said he would not share in the wealth of God. Isn't it sad that there are so many Christians who focus entirely too much on the LGBT community -- as if they were envious of them in some strange way? This is why I love it when someone who bashes gays and lesbians comes out as a homosexual after the smoke clears. So next time somebody focuses on your lifestyle a little too much, ask them what kind of struggles their having with their own sexual orientation. I'm sure there's something brewing underneath it all.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bruce Jenner: "I'm Me. I'm a Person. That's Who I am."

Sometimes people amaze me. I'm at the farm market standing on a long line at the seafood/sushi counter with a bunch of cackling hens talking about Jenner. I couldn't help but eavesdrop while sifting through Asian spices and wasabi that I really didn't need. I always wonder if people realize how loudly they speak, or if they talk loud enough just to get other people's attention for shits and giggles. Usually, people in public who speak about these things are very "accepting" and seem to have this enormous amount of tolerance...till they get on Facebook and start throwing their little Christian stones and tantrums. I guess the one woman particularly didn't care for transgender people, especially after she said she would strangle some "man" if they came walking into the ladies' room. I do live in a very conservative area -- an area where there's no mention of anyone who is even apart of the L*G*B*T*Q ---ever. It's like they don't exist. I remember chatting up a storm with this lady who owned a local liquor store. She complimented me on my ring and asked what my "husband" did for a living. I just said the job title and moved on. It's not because I'm embarrassed to be gay -- it's just that I don't have the time to educate ignorant people who would probably tell me, "But why? I'm sure there's a nice fella' out there for you."

Back to these ladies I was stuck on line with.
"Seriously though, like if a guy wanted to rape me in the bathroom or the locker room at the gym, all he'd have to do is dress like a woman and say he's a transgender female. I would totally fight against gender neutral bathrooms. Like, I don't care if they're gay and all, but don't invade my space if you were born with a penis!" the one lady said as she made a face of disgust.

I started twitching.

So let me get this straight: she's afraid of a "GAY" "MAN" raping her?

Let me just meditate on that: a. gay. man. raping. a. woman. who. is. a. transgender. woman.

It doesn't really end at that seafood counter. I have seen my own friends comment on public postings on articles over on Facebook that were against same sex marriage -- it was called, "Save Traditional Marriage" where they fight to take the right for gays and lesbians to marry legally. I really don't care if people are against same sex marriage or not -- my question is: how is this affecting your life? And if you're going to say it's because you're trying to instill more Christianity into America, then guess what? America has a lot of other types of religions as well atheism too. Just as they say, "Stop shoving your sexual orientation down my throat" -- well stop shoving your religion down our throats -- your deeply deranged misinterpreted religion -- you know, the religion where you twist scriptures to hate in the name of God? That one.

As I watched Bruce Jenner talk about his transition (he said to use the male pronoun until he comes out completely as a female) -- he stated something most transgender people do that makes it difficult for everyday (ignorant) society to completely come to terms with. When Diane Sawyer asked about his gender, he finally said yes that he is indeed a woman, but before that, he stated, "I'm me. I'm a person. That's who I am. I'm not stuck in anybody's body -- that's just who I am as a human being." I personally 'get it' -- but when society hears an unclassified gender when claiming to be one or the other or perhaps even both -- this "I'm me, I'm human and it's about my soul" doesn't hold water for many people trying to understand transgenderism. Most people like it black or white with no in betweens. So you're either a male or female -- which is it?  This is how most think. They can't wrap their noggins around the "you-ness" -- the part where it's just. about. you. and not the gender.

Which brings me to the next confusing topic: sexual orientation vs gender identity. I was happy that Diane Sawyer brought this up, because most people I have come across say, "Well is he gonna be into guys now?" Let me first say that I am so incredibly grateful to have been educated by a few of my transgender friends. They were so patient with me when we had our 'girl-to-girl' tawk'... And I wondered that myself: so umm, are you gay? Being gay has ZERO to do with wanting to be another gender. I remember having a dinner party one evening and my mother secretly asked me if my transgender friend had a "boyfriend". She's an MTF (male to female) post op. I stared at her not knowing how to answer her with only 2 minutes to bring the desserts out. When I did explain that my friend preferred women still, she said, "But he changed into a woman, so doesn't that mean 'he' wants to date men?"

No, no no no no no...

There are many people who are bisexual. Let's even start with cisgender bisexuality. It is what it is -- sexuality is who you prefer to be with romantically. Gender identity is all about the person -- their complete identity as either gender. There are transgender men (FTM) female to male, who transition and still date men. So, would that person be called, "a gay man"? And does it really need a label? This is not a new 'trendy' thing that's taken place -- this is all about people finally coming up to the surface to try to assimilate comfortability with themselves 'as is'.  The issue is not theirs, but society's lack of knowledge or the refusal to sail deep into uncharted waters. And why should they have to? They're comfortable with their familiarity and those who are alike. They want "normalcy" -- because anything out of the norm would be seen as "sinful" or would somehow be a reflection of themselves. The self-absorbed society will not accept this at all.

...which is why I'm worried, on many levels.

You'd be quite surprised over how many of the LGBT community does not accept the "T" within their very own circle. I spoke to a lesbian friend of mine who stated that she does not want transgender women in her circle because she feels that it's a "man" trying to invade her space. As if a man would go so far as to transition just to hang out with a bunch of lesbians. I think not. The ignorance of our own culture and lifestyle baffles the hell out of me. You'd think with all the acceptance that the lesbian community demands and strives for, that they would give the very same acceptance back to those who are transgender. My friend said it was "unnatural" -- being a lesbian is different. "Unnatural" -- now where have I heard that term used before? Leviticus? Corinthians? Romans?

In conclusion of my forever processing thoughts, I applaud Jenner for being a HERO -- for being courageous and standing up and taking the time to educate America. It may have stirred up a lot of anger in many pews across the country, but it's opening up the eyes of society and bringing forth what's been here all along. I truly hope that Diane Sawyer's interview and Jenner's answers made sense to America. I hope that the message fully resonated without confusion. And I also hope that it has given all transgender people a bit of hope that now, it's gone nationwide -- that now -- people are finally trying to understand to the best of their ability. And that now, you get to be who you are, as you always were.

Just a personal message to those who are transgender and believe in God:

  • You are loved by GOD unconditionally.
  • God sees no gender. "Let me put it in another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are ALL Christians—you are one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you." --Galatians 3:24-29
  • Nobody, not one person, can condemn you to "hell" or tell you that you are a sinful person. Let them throw the first stone. Jesus said: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck out of your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)
  • Love yourself, respect yourself -- let no one take that away from you. Only weak people will try to bring you down. Only weak people try to hurt others because they're hurting internally on scales we can't even imagine. 
  • Trust that this is who you are. Let nobody tell you otherwise or push you back into hiding. Be the magnificent person you were meant to be. God wouldn't have it any other way.
And finally...

Spirit of Infinite Love, Be with me and my people. Help us know that we are loved–wholly and deeply–exactly as we are. Help us know that our faces are a reflection of the face of the sacred, the face of God. Help us understand that our longing to be whole and tell the truth of who we are is holy. Be with us when we are afraid. Be with us when we are proud and joyful. Be with us when we are confused. Protect us from our enemies.

Help us transform the world be being ourselves and understanding the deep need for every person to have the freedom, safety, and support to do the same. Help us transform the oppression we face into determination to stand up for ourselves and for any we see also being oppressed. Help us learn to accept our anger when it is necessary and appropriate and to let it go when it is causing harm.

Help us accept and celebrate the diversity in our own community and show the world it is possible to love each other even though we do not always agree. Help us forgive. Help us listen. Help us let go of stubbornness. Let us worry more about being kind than being right.

Spirit of Life that defies labels and will not be made small by small minds, give us courage to live fully and continue to learn, grow, and transform our selves, our communities, and the world.

May it be so. May we be the ones who make it so.

Amen. Ashe’. And Blessed Be. --Rev. Sean Parker Dennison

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Free From the Limitations of "Religion"

How do you get rid of fear? I've been searching for the answers all my life through therapy, through prayer, through spiritual gurus -- you name it. Anita Moorjani, the author of Dying to be Me had some great advice in her book and to myself personally, however she experienced an NDE (near-death experience). I guess you can say she has proof, while many of us sit here wondering about all the "what ifs" in our life. I can only speak for myself when I say that my fear stems from the fear of death and the fear of the unknown in the afterlife, because let's face it -- without proof of our faith, it's just that: a belief system. Being a bit of a hypochondriac, my fear of eating peanuts, shrimp or getting stung by a bee are all seen as "irrational fears" -- but is it? So, "Deb fears bees," which basically equates to, "Deb fears anaphylactic shock," which equates to, "Deb has a fear of dying." It has gotten better to where it doesn't control my life, but I still duck whenever I see a yellow jacket buzzing around. I'm also a huge germaphobe, so my friends and family have a ball with that one, especially if I'm in a hospital. Fear does funny things to people and their behaviors, and sometimes, it's the cause for things that seem so opposite from the outside. Like for instance, let's say you invite a good friend out for a bite to eat somewhere, and he or she always declines, leaving you feeling rejected. Maybe they decline invitations to your parties and events and perhaps, they hardly ever see you anymore. Agoraphobia is more common than thought. It could be just a fear of supermarkets or malls. Sometimes, it can be a fear of being in a place surrounded by people. When I developed my agoraphobia years ago, I was miserable. If I was forced to be somewhere like a supermarket, I would get tunnel vision and hear every single voice talking at once, but it was like someone turned up the volume really loud. It made me feel "crazy'. I'd have to leave right that instant. And not to mention those florescent lights made it that much worse.

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

A lot of religious people have fear. "The fear of the unknown" -- "the fear of the imagined" due to ignorance (not knowing) and not being exposed to what can seem uncomfortable. The fear of the afterlife is another huge reason religious people seem uptight and rigid. Once anyone tries to shake their core beliefs, they most likely will lash out -- in terror mostly. Maybe it's the fear of being wrong -- and who wants to be wrong after believing in something that you've held onto for so long? It's almost like being lied to. Religion breeds fear. Fear is not of God. I had someone bring up an important topic that many people of faith ask. I can only speak from my faith and experience only. I copied and pasted the question from my email.

"If the bible is true we are forgiven for tomorrow's sins as well. So the question, if I have the freedom to sin is.. Do I really want to? Is it actually going to benefit me in the long run the way I am tempted to think it will? Like premarital sex. God will still love me if I do it, but is it what's best for the relationship? Will my actions serve me (and the object of my offection) in the long run. God's Kingdom is love. That's all. Therefore there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I want to follow Christ because of that love, not to avoid some future punishment."

My response:

"It was made clear that Jesus’ death was meant for the sin of man. And the Old Law which the Jews rely on no longer apply to us. (That is also in Galatians.) In the Bible it does state that God knew that we could not handle the “sin of man” (carnal/physical/non-intentionally evil sins) to which He gave us His only Son to die for us so that we would have everlasting life.

True love before marriage -- is it wrong?
Premarital sex. Think for a moment… I’m not sure if you are married or not, but if you are in love with that person, have sincere and genuine feelings for this beautiful woman you’re in a relationship with — doesn’t that feel “right”? I find it very difficult to believe that premarital sex is wrong. Promiscuous and reckless sex is not only sinful, but it is unclean in many ways. I’m just giving you my core beliefs here. Also, things like premarital sex, a marriage that didn’t work out, or even homosexuality — dig deep into that noggin of yours and think about how people wanted a “nice moral society”. Where could they have put those “rules” and have people “brainwashed” into believing them? I honestly and sincerely believe that society did that to control the masses — to have an upstanding society with no gays, no lesbians, no divorcees, etc. But not in the aspects of “SEX” — in the aspects of gay and lesbian relationships. {RELATIONSHIPS} — not talking sex here. So many Christians associate homosexuals to only sex — and I really hate that word because that word initially meant “unclean”. That derived through unclean sex with men (anal) — to which many straights do anyway. (Not my bag) — and believe it or not, it’s not many gay men’s “bag” either. That’s just another, umm, avenue. Eek. But it’s so strange how they tied in all gays and lesbians (especially lesbians) to anal sex. Sorry I’m being explicit here, but I’m just explaining where that word came from.

Will your actions serve you? Well here’s what I know. (I should say believe, but I know.) — None of us are perfect. God LOVES us — imperfections and all. NO action, no “good deeds” will get you into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Galatians 2:15-16 —You and I are Jews by birth, not “sinners” like the gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we became right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ - and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.

Unreal when you actually read that passage again and think about all the Christians telling you to be “a good boy”. The biggest commandment of all is to love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and to love one another just the same. God is in all of us — which is why we should be compassionate toward everyone, even those who are unkind to us. And sometimes we mess up — and that’s OKAY! We will always mess up. You know, it’s very scary to believe that there is a hell waiting for you when you know that without a doubt, you’re a good guy, right? I mean, you never hurt anyone, you don’t abuse people nor kill anyone. You don’t intentionally try to be a “bad person” — and that’s not even inside you. You’re worried about the “sin of man” which Jesus already died for! I have faith in Jesus’ death — if I didn’t, I would try to “obey the law” — and the Bible clearly states not to. Why are there so many contradictions in that Bible? Why do you think in one section of the NEW Testament, it says your actions will never get you into heaven, only by FAITH you will be saved? And in another section, if you “do this” and “do that” — you’re going to hell buddy.  I mean, does that make any sense at all? Maybe it does to you, but for me, I dug deeper because I DID question my own sexual orientation. Remember you asked me that? 'Why don’t you question more about your lifestyle?' Oh believe you me — I questioned that one till the cows came home. I studied that Bible, prayed and meditated every. single. day. till I just couldn’t take it, until I had that major spiritual experience. God loves you more than anyone on this earth can possibly love you. Don’t you think that if the typical human being can accept YOU “AS IS” — with all the imperfections — don’t you think your Father will too? Our earthly fathers accept us “as is” (well some I guess) and we doubt that GOD the Almighty is not capable of doing this. Faith."

I made a horrible mistake. I made the assumption that this particular reader of mine was a homophobe, when actually I would consider it more related to thanatophobia. (A fear of death.) Many people's fear of death is tied into their religious beliefs, particularly if they happen to be going through a period of questioning. Some people think that they know what will happen after death, but worry that they may be wrong. Some believe that the path to salvation is very straight and narrow, and fear that any deviations or mistakes may cause them to be eternally condemned. Religious beliefs are highly personalized, and even a therapist of the same general faith may not fully understand a client's beliefs. If the fear of death is religiously based, it is often helpful to seek supplemental counseling from one's own religious leader. However, this should never be used to replace traditional mental health counseling. Fear of the Unknown Thanatophobia may also have roots in fears of the unknown. It is part of the human condition to want to know and understand the world around us. What happens after death, however, cannot be unequivocally proven while we are still alive. People who are highly intelligent and inquisitive are often at greater risk for this type of thanatophobia, as are those who are questioning their own philosophical or religious beliefs. --read more here.

Homophobia: unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality.

Realistically, we should define "homophobia" as an irrational fear of homosexuals. But the definition took another turn to "antipathy" or to put it bluntly, antigay or prejudice. Hatred is another term used to define this word. PHOBIA is fear. Now my question would be: why would someone fear a homosexual if they feel comfortable with themselves? I've always had this theory that if someone had pure hatred toward someone who is gay or lesbian, that this person may have homosexual tendencies themselves. They did an experiment years ago on homophobic people where they monitored their reaction to graphic gay images. The result was the same if they had seen graphic images of the opposite sex. I encourage you to watch the experiment below. And if you cannot see the video below, please click here.



So then, after having seen the video above, watching "homophobic" people 'rise up to the occasion' while viewing pornographic images of homosexuals, then is it a choice to be gay or straight or do you feel it is more genetic?  And on that note, I still hold mixed views on whether or not being gay is a choice or if it is genetic. For myself, I knew I was gay since I was in diapers. I preferred females. I didn't know exactly why -- but I did. I had crushes on my female friends in school, to which was very difficult for me. I dated boys so I could hide who I truly was. Being a "lesbian" was seen as "disgusting" and nobody hung around those types of people. It was very different back then. But my point is: I had no environmental influences nor knew of any other gay or lesbian person while growing up -- so how would my environment encourage my lifestyle? This is why I sometimes feel it has to be genetic. I could have chosen to spend my life with a man, but I didn't think that was fair for him since I wasn't in love with him. I couldn't manage to be "in love" -- and find that true chemistry as I did when I dated females. I ask the question of, "Did you choose to be straight" to many heterosexuals who rattle of "it's a choice" -- but maybe we all chose -- but for good reason. For instance, I chose to be with a woman because I was in love with her. My love chose her. My heart chose her. I tried to "learn to love him" as Mom suggested, but I did learn to love him as a person, not like the man he deserved.

Had to use this one!
Back to fear. I keep hearing this quote and I don't know who wrote it, but it says, "Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear." We're afraid to love -- and I mean LOVE in all aspects. We're afraid to get hurt...again. We experience pain, we remember it, and we try to avoid it. Fear induces avoidance. So would fear of homosexuals induce avoidance of befriending someone who is gay or lesbian? I had one friend who thought that their friends would think he was gay if he hung around with me. This is a guy we're talking about now. I could see if I was another man -- but he was afraid that since I was a lesbian, that people would think he was gay. I couldn't wrap my head around that one.

I think it's safe to say that our entire lives are revolving around the biggest negative source: fear. We fear we'll lose our jobs, our homes, our spouses, our children, our dignity, ourselves. We're afraid of so much, which is why we probably end up with the big "C" -- to which Anita Moorjani brings up in her book. She claims she got cancer from fearing life. When you bring in negative emotions such as fear -- it eats away at your cells.

In an interview with Lilou Mace, Moorjani shares some of the amazing life lessons she took away from her NDE. For easier assimilation, we’ve listed them below. Things Anita Moorjani learned from her Stage Four Cancer & Ensuing NDE:
  1. You attract what you fear.
  2. If you’re sick, don’t fight it. Embrace it. Love where you are now. Only when you approach your health challenges from a point of love can you overcome the fear.
  3. Sometimes less information is better. When it comes to illness, more information does not necessarily equal more power (too much research can actually add to the fear and symptoms).
  4. Through your illness, your body is giving you a message. Work to understand and be with what is. 
  5. Everything comes from within.
  6. Ask yourself, “What brings me joy?” And do more of that.
  7. Don’t obsess and make your life about the illness.
  8. Love yourself unconditionally.
  9. Positive thinking can only help to a certain extent. It’s more about being yourself and loving yourself – regardless of what you are going through.
  10. Stop judging yourself.
  11. Express yourself fully. Ask yourself: “Am I allowing myself to express who I am? Am I being this person because I want to be accepted, or because it is who I am?”
  12. Be centered in your true essence. From the place of pure centeredness, miracles are possible. It’s about being, not doing. When you are in the space of being, miracles are possible.
  13. The only thing that limits you is your own beliefs.
  14. The best way to get our of a fear state is to do something that brings you into a state of joy. Find something that changes your state completely. Whatever it is – music or art or going out in nature. Do something completely different. Or meditate. If we can be still, we can go into a different reality.
  15. Stay totally open. Get into a defused state in which all of the possibilities lie before you and you haven’t locked into any one.
  16. Follow your bliss and do what you love. We tend to do what we think we should do, rather than what our heart tells us to do. We don’t do what makes our heart sing.
  17. You are your own guru. All your answers are inside you.
  18. Nobody is better than (or less than) you. We are all equal.
  19. Focus on your feelings more than your thoughts. Make your everyday choices based on what makes you FEEL good, rather than what you THINK you should do or what others think you should do.
  20. Don’t let a fear of failing or displeasing others run your life.
  21. Realize your own MAGNIFICENCE!

I had issues with 1, 7, 20 and 21. I attracted what I feared. The more I feared it, the more it came on. Like that saying, whatever you resist, persists. When I had a problem with hypochondria, every single ache or pain meant something fatal, which meant trips up to the ER. It really took a toll on my life and on my spouse's. With meditation and practicing self-awareness, I have come to a point in my life where I just acknowledge the pain or ailment, I don't judge it and once I do that -- it dissipates. The mind is very powerful, to the point of actually giving you psychosomatic symptoms. My issue with #20 was huge. {Don't let a fear of failing or displeasing others run your life.}I truly cared about what everyone else thought about me: about how I lived my life and what I did for work -- everything was centered around making sure others knew I was doing "okay" and doing my part. It drove me into a pit of depression. I even had irrational thoughts due to my fear that everyone thought "this way" when it was the complete opposite. But it wasn't about other people, it was about me and my insecurities. I was miserable trying to please everybody else, in fear that I would be seen as "bad" or "self-centered". But if I am unable to help myself, I cannot help anybody else. My love tank would be on "E" -- and it was many times. My life is my own and I am so happy where I am, who I am, and who I share my life with. Sometimes I get setbacks, and other times, I just meditate on my gratefulness of just 'being'. Issue #21 {Realizing my own magnificence} was a very tough one for me. I didn't think very highly of myself, although my outward behavior would tell you otherwise. People who seem overly confident are the ones who are most insecure. Every single person has a magnificent role to play in this life.

Here is the point of my entire post though. Other people's fears, their "homophobia" or their  "thanatophobia" is not my issue. It's their issue that they have to deal with on their own. Any time I try to share my beliefs about Christianity, the Bible and justify my lifestyle accordingly, it can sometimes shake other Christians' core beliefs to where they challenge me on my knowledge of what the Bible truly says -- or what we "think" it indicates. When somebody comes off angry, like a cat being cornered -- that's fear. It's the 'fight or flight' syndrome. Name calling is another indicator of fear. I've been called a false prophet, a heathen, evil, liar as well as being casted into hell by fellow Christians. Now think about a child when they feel cornered and full of fear. What do they do? They lash out, stomp and cry or possibly resort to name calling. When I bring up my own thoughts on the Bible that the Old Law does not apply -- they simply go back and look at their own sins and question all they've ever known and learned. But first, denial sets in, which is where the anger is set off. So if your sin is saying the Lord's name in vain, and you repent, but yet two weeks later you do it again -- will you go to hell or will you keep on repenting?

In Matthew 18:22, Peter came to Jesus and asked how many times should he forgive his neighbor. "Seven times?" And Jesus replied, "No, not seven times, but seventy times seven."

And again let me post this one up:
Galatians 2:15-16 —You and I are Jews by birth, not “sinners” like the gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we became right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ - and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.

So through forgiveness, through the fact that no good deed or action can get you into the Kingdom of Heaven -- we should have less fear and more focus on GOD. If you feel like your "sins" are going to put you straight into hell, then you need to truly pray and meditate and develop a true relationship with God. Do you think he's going to cast every single soul into hell?  And yes, while there is that "narrow gate" analogy in the Bible, I doubt that the 'sin of man' is going to doom us, because for Christians, we believe that Jesus died on the cross. And for what? I'm surprised that so many Christians lack the faith it has to believe in the one most important thing in the Biblical scriptures itself!

The next time you're faced with an extremely negative confrontation or argument, try putting yourselves into their shoes and ask, "What's the fear?" There is an underlining fear when somebody lashes out. You're either threatening their core beliefs or you have just challenged them to look at things in a whole different way. Most of it will be in complete denial, because that's what fear does. Fear is the worst type of emotion that can produce the most unpredictable of all behaviors. You've seen it with all of these cops and citizens shooting one another. The citizen fears that the police hates them, they fear going to jail, so it's a game of "It's Either You or Me". The cop fears that anyone at any given time can pull out a gun at any given second. They've seen it before and they're not going to be a victim. They start fearing the worst, so they shoot them first. And, all fears are valid, even if the scenario was assumed.

I still have a lot to work on regarding fear. I have a lot of anxiety that I need to work on. So far, it's been such a blessing with all of these great authors guiding me, teaching me different techniques and shaking up my core beliefs. At first, it scared me. My core beliefs were challenged -- I lashed out a bit, and in return, given a peaceful and loving answer that calmed me down and made me dig deeper into my own faith, my own awareness, my own "religion" and personal relationship with God. And that's something nobody can ever take from me now. The peace that this has given me exceeds all of those strong fears that used to set in and debilitate me. I no longer look at another Christian who is calling me names and telling me that I'm going to hell because I don't believe in the same things they do -- I now see them as fearful children, some looking for answers, and some just being content (and miserable) in the limitations of their own religion. For the first time in my life, I finally feel free.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Homosexuality is a Psychological Disorder. True or False?

Would you call homophobia "a fear of homosexuals"? I mean, in the literal sense -- does it truly mean "fear" or does it really mean "disgust" and "hate"? I'm starting to lean toward the logical answer: fear. It's where hatred is born. Hatred is stemmed from fear. Some people fear the unknown, some people fear what they haven't truly witnessed or encountered in real life and some just fear that they may "catch the disease" if exposed. A gentleman named brought up a few questions for me to answer.

Here is the answer from the gentleman regarding homosexuality from my previous post on Facebook that you can read here and my original article on my blog which you can read here.
"They have convinced the public that it is something you are born with. Have you any "proof" of that? What if it begins at age 1-4 in the Psyche? It was listed as a psychological disorder less that 30 years ago and then "changed". Was it changed due to new studies or proof? No, scientific findings were changed under nothing more than political pressure. And they are still suppressing facts and data about death and decease and illnesses that are the result of that life style. If your thing is that you ALWAYS ask questions, what about questioning the information the media is feeding you?"
Let me first ask you this: if being gay was a choice for me, then was being straight a choice for you? Taken from this article, it suggests this, "Studies suggests that conditions in the womb also influence sexual orientation. For instance, the more older male siblings a man has, the greater chance he will be gay. Scientists say the phenomenon cannot be explained by the youngest boy being babied and mollycoddled or other differences in the way they are brought up. It is thought that carrying a male baby in the womb triggers an immune response in the mother, creating antibodies that attack part of the unborn child's brain linked to sexual orientation. This response gets stronger the more boys a woman carries, raising the odds of homosexuality. Exposure to hormones in the womb is also likely to be important and some argue that upbringing plays a role in sexuality."

I've never seen so many people with "psychological disorders" function so well in life. In fact, psychological disorders does not discriminate between heterosexuals and homosexuals. And is a psychological disorder to be mocked? Of course not because many Americans suffer from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADHD, and so on and so on. Or you can just believe that the media is feeding you these "disorders" in order to gain your business so you can run out and get the next new big antidepressant available. I will say that many gays, lesbians and transgender people go through a lot of psychological problems due to the way they have been treated. If you are constantly told that you're crazy for being gay or transgender or that you're "not normal" and in worst case scenarios, I have seen parents throwing their own children out into the street because they were gay -- I bet that would get anyone's psyche a bit disorderly. How many kids are being bullied for being gay?

Sharing needles spreads disease.
As far as "death an decease and illness" (did you mean disease?) are a result of being gay or lesbian -- have you even looked at the amount of HIV among the heterosexuals and poor living communities have? What about drug addicts who share needles and babies being born innocently to AIDS? I read an article that stated, "HIV is not a gay disease. Nope. All of us are at risk in getting HIV from unsafe sex or other modes of blood to blood contact, like sharing needles. Television talk shows and all those fundamentalist/conservative/family values groups are chock full of flaky, clueless lightweights who made up their minds twenty years ago that HIV is a product of the so-called 'gay lifestyle' and it's God's wrath on homosexuals. These poor creatures are so invested in this myth that they are incapable of hearing the truth. They continue to spew their self-righteous, delusional feculence to the detriment of all humanity. They are, in fact, shameless, insidious prevaricators driven solely by their irrational loathing and fear of homosexuality. The truth is that 16,000 people worldwide are infected with HIV every single day (World Health Organization). They are not all gay. In the United States, HIV infection rates have held steady at 40,000 per year, but recent preliminary data suggests those rates are on the rise. They are not all gay. African-American and Hispanic women together represent less than one-fourth of all U.S. women, but account for more than three-fourths (76%) of AIDS cases among women in this country (CDC Update, 6/98). Women now account for 43% of all HIV infected people over the age of 15 (New York Times, 11/98). In just over a decade, the proportion of all AIDS cases reported among adult and adolescent women tripled, from 7% in 1985 to 22% in 1997 (CDC Update, 6/98). Further, more than 30 million people around the world are living with HIV or AIDS, and by the year 2000 that figure will reach 40 million (UNAIDS/World Health Organization, 12/97). They are not all gay. AIDS now kills more people worldwide than any other infection, including malaria and tuberculosis."

The media did not encourage my gay lifestyle. In fact, it did quite the opposite, letting me know how different I was. I remember being as young as 4 years old watching a soap opera. I remember ogling the beautiful women that were on TV, never once glaring at the men. I was enthralled by them. I remember having little crushes on my female girlfriends as a child. I grew up in a Catholic Italian household, with three older straight sisters and parents who had been together since they were 14 years old! We lived up in the sticks and away from the urban areas where I didn't have many neighborhood friends to play with, so I wasn't brought up exposed to the gay and lesbian lifestyle, until I was 19 years old and met my first girlfriend in a college up in Delhi, NY. So nobody influenced me -- in fact, they discouraged it greatly.

No wonder children in school have it hard today. If you have parents that have the same mindset as this commenter, don't you think that would influence their behavior on how they treat their classmates who are gay, lesbian or transgender? Children learn from their parents. Monkey see, monkey do. So if Bobby calls some kid a faggot out on the playground, that's okay in his mind because mommy and daddy call them faggots. If Bobby's dad says that being gay is a psychological disorder, then the kid may end up calling the gay kid, "crazy", among a few other choice words. And it doesn't matter if Bobby's Christian parents tell him to treat others nicely -- Bobby doesn't see anything wrong with what he says to other gay kids because mommy and daddy say these things, therefore, it must be "OKAY".

Let me just remind you about a few incidents that have taken place this past decade or so.

Sergio Urrego, 16 years old committed suicide after being harassed for being gay. His mother said her nightmare began in May when a teacher at Gimnasio Castillo Campestre school in the Colombian capital Bogotá, saw a photo of Sergio kissing his boyfriend of a month and a half on his cellphone. After confiscating the phone, both boys were sent to the school psychologist. The boyfriend was then forced by the school to tell his parents about his sexuality and was quickly withdrawn from the school. The school refused to release Urrego’s academic results and blocked his transfer to another school. He was continuously suspended from classes, send on multiple visits to the psychologist and accused of sexual harassment. Unable to cope with the betrayal and harassment at the hands of school administrators, Urrego sent his friends goodbye messages and then jumped from the Titán Plaza shopping center on the morning of August 4. He passed away three hours later at a local hospital.---read more here.


Tyler Clementi was an 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman who killed himself in September 2010 after discovering that his roommate had secretly used a webcam to stream Mr. Clementi’s romantic interlude with another man over the Internet. The suicide of Mr. Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge, focused national attention on the victimization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. Public figures including Ellen DeGeneres and President Obama spoke out about the tragedy, and New Jersey legislators enacted the nation’s toughest law against bullying and harassment in January 2011. Rutgers also responded in several ways, among them a plan to introduce gender-neutral housing — co-ed dorm rooms for gay, lesbian and transgender students who request it — and training staff in suicide awareness. But prosecutors argued that his frequent messages mentioning Mr. Clementi’s sexuality proved that Mr. Ravi (his roommate) was upset about having a gay roommate from the minute he discovered it through a computer search several weeks before they arrived at Rutgers in fall 2010. The star witness in the case was “M.B.,’' the young man whose date with Mr. Clementi was captured by Mr. Ravi’s webcam. The full name of M.B., who appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, was withheld to protect his privacy.----read more here.

A transgender 17-year-old named Leelah Alcorn committed suicide on December 28. In a suicide note posted, but since deleted, from her Tumblr, Leelah wrote that when she told her mom about being transgender, her mother “reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes.” Leelah wrote that she was subsequently taken to Christian therapists, who reinforced the notion that being transgender was “wrong.” In an interview with CNN, Leelah’s parents claim they were loving parents, and that they just wanted to do the best for their child. Her mother Carla said that she took Leelah, who she referred to as Josh, to a psychiatrist, who prescribed medication, and that her child was depressed but only talked to her once about being transgender. If you know anything about the very real state of having gender dysphoria, you know that telling him or her it is wrong is one of the worst things in the world a transgender person can hear. It deepens the depression transgender people already seek help for because we suffer from having a body that does not match our mind. In addition, we deal with our rejection from society, with those who slam us for having this mental health condition in the first place, and those who don’t believe it’s a real thing.----read more here.

And there are many, many more gay and transgender suicides that have taken place that hasn't even hit the mainstream media.  But my entire point of this post is -- if you love GOD with all your heart and all your soul, wouldn't you love others and treat them well since they are apart of God's creation? I have had Christians rattle off that I'm a "false prophet" trying to lie to people in order to "make them feel better about themselves". I'm not a prophet nor a preacher. I am someone who has faith in God and has a personal relationship with Him. I have studied the Bible for over 20 years and it has changed my life forever. And even though the Bible has a lot of discrepancies as far as the time it was written, the 400 years of silence before the New Testament as well as all the books being put together as one canon (The Bible) 360+ years later -- something somewhere has to be lost and I stand firm when I say that. I may have said that it was "written" 400 years later -- but what I meant was, the New Testament was put together nearly 400 years later after Jesus' death. Dead Christians (spiritually dead) will only learn through text and never read with spirit and discretion. Religious people are the worst kinds of people because they are never willing to ask questions, to learn more and to reach out spiritually for guidance. Instead, they read literature from 2,000 years ago that's been altered, translated and misinterpreted for centuries and pull that out as "TRUTH". They have no heart and are FEARFUL of going to hell. Fear is not of God.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind. --1 Timothy 1:7

Anytime I am faced with a Christian that tells me how the Bible is against homosexuality, in the sense of any loving relationship -- mostly referring to the sexual aspects, I'm reminded about how frequently they use the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 19: 1-13 “Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction:”
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Basically, God says that He's going to destroy cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, if two angels cannot find any good people within the towns. Once the angels arrive, a kind man named Lot invites these angels into his home and entertains them. This angers the cities' men, and the men rallied outside of Lot's home, wishing to do "perverse actions" to these male angels. Moments later, the two cities are destroyed by fiery rain. Many anti-gay Christian ministers use this passage to say that this is an example of God’s wrath against homosexuality -- as if the men of Sodom were all gay, and all trying to "be gay with" these male angels. Historians and sociologists tell us that gang rape was a very common form of brutal humiliation of the subjects, in the ancient Western world. The Sodomite men did not come to Lot’s house to have monogamous, committed, loving relationships with the male angels residing there. They came to rape these angels. Also, MULTIPLE parts of the Bible (Luke 10: 10-13; Isaiah 19: 13-14; Jeremiah 23: 14; Ezekiel 16: 49; Zephaniah 2: 8-11) tell us that God despised the greed and their wickedness toward outsiders as their sin, not that fact that men wanted to “have sex” with men.

Even the word "homosexual" has been translated -- well more like convoluted into something entirely different. While newer translations used the word “homosexual,” what it comes down to is a tragic loss of translation of two key Greek words, “arsenokoitai” and “malakoi.” If most Biblical interpreters weren’t pacifists, there’d be all-out war between them on the meanings of these words. The explanation that I prefer comes from Biblical scholar D. B. Martin, that “arsenokoitai,” due to its context clues, has something to do with sexual exploitation, like prostitution, not sexual orientation, like homosexuality. You can read more about this here if you wish.

The Bible, when used to hate and bash in a fearful way, can be devastating to someone who just wants to live their own lives without judgments or ridicules. They want what everyone else wants: a loving relationship, perhaps a family and some peace knowing that they're OKAY, most of all, okay in God's eyes. Although I do rely on the Bible, it wouldn't hurt for other Christians to delve in a bit deeper to learn the truths or maybe a different spin to the stories told in the scriptures. It's more like playing a game of telephone -- the Bible first said a story about violent rape and 2,000 years later, it becomes one big gay pride orgy.

Not everyone was meant to reproduce. Not everyone was meant to live the way their parents had expected them to. God doesn't make mistakes. If you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, queer, questioning or other, just remember one thing: YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE! God loves you AS IS! God formed you within your mother's womb. For most of the LGBT folks, they've known who they were before the age of 4 years old without outer influences. This is not a "psychological disorder" -- this is who you are. The psychological disorders come into play when you have so-called Christians verbally (or physically) abusing you. Who wouldn't have psychological issues if they're abused, especially by their parents and even the kids at school who were all taught to hate by their parents. Ignorance breeds fear. Fear creates a sense of hatred. Hatred can create violent behavior. And all that wrapped up into one box can create many more suicides for these beautiful people who have been beaten down by their fellow Christians. This is not about "saving people" -- this is about people's own fears against homosexuals and transgender people. This is about their own fears about being homosexuals themselves. Fear is an incredible emotion that I believe, the devil gives us. Remember, fear is NOT of God -- says so in the Bible. No other translations needed.

Rest well, my LGBT friends...

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Your Own Personal Jesus

"Reach out & touch faith..."
Life is so confusing when it comes to religious beliefs and whatnot. As I tackled the issues regarding "religious freedom" -- aka -- "the freedom to discriminate" -- after hearing the views from some of the Christians who are against the LGBT community, it was clear to me that this was more about the human and cultural conditioning some of us go through. Some may call it "brainwashing" while others call it personal convictions. Once we remain in a particular belief for many, many years, it can be very difficult to change course, beliefs and views on what's 'right' or 'wrong'.  I'm guilty for calling some Christians "bigots" or "hateful" for speaking up about what they've been taught since day one. And maybe I was wrong. Some Christians believe that all homosexuals are going straight to hell. Some believe that the Bible has been convoluted and meshed into different translations where it can be interpreted many different ways. Most of the Bible was written 400 years after Jesus had died. I'm sure something, somewhere got crossed. I've come across many Christians who became very angry with me for saying that I'm a Christian and that I'm also gay. Some were very hurtful, while others actually tried to help me understand their interpretations of the Bible, to "save me" and told me that I should repent for my sins. The angry Christians who were furious over the fact that I called myself a Christian told me I would see hell and that I was filthy for living a lifestyle of a heathen. It was harsh to read and I admit, I actually thought about denouncing Christianity altogether due to its followers alone. How can a religion have such hateful people? How can a religion have people who want to intentionally hurt others? They threw scripture after scripture at me to prove that I was a filthy heathen and that I would not see the kingdom of God. And even though my faith in God was strong, these people sort of brought me down. I became very sad.

Was the Bible written just to control the masses & cultivate more "morality" amongst their people?
As I still remain faithful and believe in the translations of my scriptures, I think it goes much more deeper than scriptures itself. My relationship with God is something that nobody can tell me otherwise. Anyone else's faith in the god that they choose is none of my business and certainly not my call to "save them".  I even looked into other religions and spiritual practices, and nothing else resonates more with my soul than believing in the trinity based faiths. And that's between God and myself. Religious debates will never end...ever. People are so fearful of losing what they've known all their lives. It can be scary. It's like saying, "Hey, Santa Claus isn't real," to a 4 year old. I dug deeper though. I've been reading books of different faiths, some faiths open to all faiths and some Christian literature to boot. I even called a friend who is Buddhist to maybe enlighten me or see if I resonated with some of her beliefs that she was so kind to share with me. I'm grateful for all the help I've been getting from everyone.

It was scary when I heard myself saying, "I'm thinking about renouncing Christianity altogether and taking my book down." That's how much pain I felt -- battered and just fed up from all the bickering about something that isn't even "concrete proof".  I decided to pray and meditate. I took some time to just be in silence. I felt this incredible wave of peace and I even want to say, enlightenment, that my faith, and my beliefs, and my work all these years are to still remain as is. A friend of mine even confirmed that theory afterwards without even telling her what had taken place. She said, "I really think you are a good advocate for the peaceful side of Christianity and that your work should still go on." And she's from another faith.

"And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts." --Mark 4:15

The word that was spoken to me -- that was "sown in my heart" was taken away from me. I truly believe there are two types of religious people (of various religions): ones who tear down others just to be seen as "righteous" and those who just want to spread God's love and uplift others. There are people who kill in the name of God and there are people on a lesser scale who hate and discriminate in the name of God as well. People use God as a tool to do things in an authoritative way, or as they would say, "judging righteously". How can there be so many passages in the Holy Bible warning Christians to not judge one another, and yet there are passages to tell Christians to judge righteously? Nobody is without sin. And who is to say what's a sin and not a sin to someone who believes differently? The argument will never be resolved.

So why can't we accept other people of the same religion, but with personal convictions -- with personal relationships with God?
“Accept Christians (or anyone) who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should. In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter.” ~Romans 14:1-5
That last line: each person should have a personal conviction about this matter... It says it all. Your personal Jesus is yours only. My personal Jesus is mine only. We may not pray the same way or receive messages and guidance from God the same way, but we have faith, and that's all that should matter. But it's not the case. Other people's personal lives are so important to other Christians. They claim that they are "saving them in the name of God" when they are actually trying to get rid of what's not "normal" in their eyes.

Here's where I get a little frustrated with "Christian logic", so forgive me.

A statuette of Aphroditus in the anasyromenos pose. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the pose had apotropaic magical power.
If you're a Christian who judges the LGBT community: lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender -- then you are judging their souls -- their genetic makeup of how God made them. It's interesting, because there is another reality to this. What about intersexuality? I have a friend who is intersexed. This person has two genders, because she was born with both male and female genitals. Raised as a male, she decided to go with what felt right and normal to her, as a female. So tell me, if God made her like this, then what sexual orientation should she be? Now you're walking on thin ice with this one. The LGBT and intersex community has been here longer before Jesus was born. To me, this reinstated my beliefs that God judges our souls -- what's inside -- not our gender (nor male or female) or who we love (sexual orientation). Biblical scriptures are written in terms of sexual acts, promiscuity among all people, not just one group.

I'm very grateful I had this grueling experience, debating with other Christians, because it gave me this self-discovering opportunity to ask more questions -- to ask more people of various faiths -- to open my eyes and to see what resonates with me as "truth". I truly believe once you stop asking questions about faith, spirituality and religion, and what "should be true" -- that your knowledge will limit your true spiritual experience and also the ability to connect with other people. Asking questions doesn't mean that you're weak, it means that you're that much closer to God. YOUR God. YOUR "personal Jesus".



For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Bigger Fish to Fry...or Bake

All you have is right now. I've heard it and read it many times. It wasn't until I finally caught onto this concept that the future is all an illusion -- that worrying about things we have not yet to experience is just an unnecessary route to more madness. The other day I was driving home and heard that song "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac. It goes, "Don't stop dreaming about tomorrow, don't stop, it'll be here soon. It'll be here better than before -- yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone." When the song ended, the DJ said something much more profound than his listeners probably took it. He said, "If you have one foot in tomorrow and one foot in yesterday, whaddya' all doing about today?" Then he chuckled and went on about his show. Lately, I have been asked so many things about my future. Someone asked, "Well, 'if this happens' then what will you do? You need to have a plan."

Nope. No plan whatsoever. I plan to be in the present. I know that sounds very 'hippyish' and vague about my life -- perhaps even irresponsible, but the fact is, it would be more irresponsible of me to worry and fret every day, every single present moment about the future. Like my father said before he died, "All those wonderful years, having my own business, enjoying time with the family and just. like. that. (snaps his fingers) -- it's all gone and your life is about to end. What's it all for?" It's not to say that life is just meaningless, but more so that today -- the day that you can see right before you is much more important. Your steps today create your future, but when you constantly live in the future or the past, you sabotage the one thing that is truly real: this very moment.

Throughout the years of my writing in this blog, I have tried to help those who are gay and lesbian who also love God, to accept and love themselves as well. The problem lies with God's followers -- not God Himself. So when I battle controversial debates whether being gay is wrong or right or what the Bible says and how people interpret it -- it's not about defending myself as it is about helping other people to love themselves. Many Christians make people feel bad about themselves and tell them they're going to hell and that they live a disgusting lifestyle. They make them feel worthless. This is NOT love at all! In fact, it's the total opposite. It's fear. I remember Dad used to say, "It's better to be feared than loved." He said it jokingly (I think), but think about what the egotistical mind does: it puffs out its feathers and says, "I'm better than you!" Fear makes people lash out, possibly discrediting all they ever believed about "GOD". Thing is -- you don't have to give up your beliefs, but you should give up your ego and realize that faith is just that: a belief system that cannot be proven.

I'm still learning. I learned that "the now" isn't always pleasant. It is not a pleasant experience to watch Mom battling cancer. Sometimes "the now" trickles into the "what ifs" of the future. I have a lot of work ahead of me. But when I focus one day at a time, I can pull myself together more. It hurts to see her suffering and going through the side effects of all the chemo and radiation. It pains me to see her get up at the crack of dawn to be at Sloan-Kettering in NYC when she barely got an hour's worth of sleep. They talk about enjoying "the golden years" and I wonder how much enjoyment is she truly getting out of life. Even with the faith we all have that she's gonna pull through this, "the now" can sometimes really suck.

Anyway, just to sidetrack a bit, remember that Indiana pizzeria called, Memories Pizza? The owner who was interviewed by a reporter was asked a hypothetical question: "Would you cater to a gay and lesbian wedding?" And the owner stated that they would not, however they would still serve pizza to those who were homosexual. And how can you really know who's gay or lesbian unless you ask them? But anyway, they closed their shop due to harassing phone calls and a ton of social media outrage. Hey listen -- people are passionate about equal rights which is fine, but to harass people who disagree with your lifestyle is wrong as well. Just leave them. Just go on with your life and leave them alone. Why call them and threaten their lives? A fundraising page was held for this pizzeria and they made off with almost 1 million dollars. Let me say that again: 1 million dollars!  This money was donated from other Christians who felt bad for the owners who stood their ground. Here's my question: how can you give almost a million dollars to a pizzeria who discriminates against gays and lesbians as far as catering goes, but yet our food pantries and shelters are at an all time low? That one is a bit much for me.

Then there was a twist to this interesting story. A lesbian donated $20 bucks to the owners of Memories Pizza. Courtney Hoffman wrote a personal note to them, on our behalf.

“As a member of the gay community,” she wrote, “I would like to apologize for the mean spirited attacks on you and your business. I know many gay individuals who fully support your right to stand up for your beliefs and run your business according to those beliefs. We are outraged at the level of hate and intolerance that has been directed at you and I sincerely hope that you are able to rebuild.” She also added that “there is a difference between operating in a public market space and then attaching the name of your business to a private event,” acknowledging that she would turn down a request to organize an anti-gay marriage rally.

Would you bake this cake? 
OK, so I have mixed feelings on this. For one, bravo for taking a 'different route' and brave enough to do so. I give the couple credit for seeing a different point of view. I tend to do that myself at times. But, she is missing the entire point of this. If an anti-gay rally came in and requested an "event" from Courtney Hoffman, of course you would reject them. Same goes for Christians: if I walked in and said to a Christian baker, "Hey, I'm running an anti-Christ rally," I sure hope they would turn me away. But the issue here is rejecting a gay couple who just want a cake, or perhaps a pizza reception (God knows why). Maybe the couple are two Christians like us? Her point is invalid. It's the same useless points given when they say, "Well if the KKK came in we would reject them too." And believe it or not, the KKK did come into a bakery asking for a cake for their event and was turned down. Guess what? They won a lawsuit.

OK, I sidetracked a great deal. My POINT is: who cares? Seriously -- you will not go to hell if you serve someone of a different stance. Anti-whatever -- you still get money, you still get to go to "your heaven" -- you still have your dignity as a business owner. Why are people so angry at other people. Let them hate, let them love, let them rally, let them do whatever it is they are called to do. Why are we so worked up by others either not serving us or being forced to serve someone of another lifestyle? It really doesn't matter. The stress that you put yourself in by grinding an ax over someone who is "offending your god" is more detrimental to your health than anything else. The negative energy that goes into it all -- the fights -- the intolerance and bickering -- is it worth it? Even online debates -- why? I know I do it and at this point, you can't convince me that being gay is wrong, nor can I convince you that there is nothing wrong with it. We have to accept that our opinions, faith and thoughts are our own and cannot be changed, unless we're really not sure about our convictions.

At this point, it seems like we're all intolerant of each other. We see something 'different' from our environment and we FEAR it. We put energy toward that and we let it feed on fear. Do you really think that gay marriage will ruin the sanctity of traditional marriage? Hasn't Kim Kardashian proved that to be wrong? I also get, "Well, you can't reproduce." OK, so let me ask you this: a man and a woman get married. They try to have a baby and well, the doctor said that the husband's sperm count is too low and that they cannot conceive. What then? Ah, artificial insemination? Adoption? Not natural my Christian friends. But, it IS natural to adopt a child with love, no matter what gender raises them. Some straight parents shouldn't have reproduced at all in my opinion. It's not about reproduction. It's about love, loyalty, growing old together and living a life you want to live. What about that quack, Pat Robertson? All he can talk about is the gays and anal sex. You know, don't go guessing what I do in my bedroom because that's far from the truth. And what about a straight couple? Does he condemn them for anal sex as well? It goes both ways. Hmm, bad example.

What a waste of energy to concern yourself with other people's lives. There is nothing you can do to change it. And yes, it is between God and whomever, or wait -- some people don't even believe in a God. And if you wanna go even deeper -- prove to atheists that there even is a god! It doesn't matter. YOU do the right thing and YOU concern YOURself to YOUR business and get YOUR nose out of other people's bedrooms...and bakeries. Start with "NOW". Start with loving yourself. Maybe if you had a little self-respect and love for yourself, you can also give it to others just as freely. But I see many of these aggressive Christians are nothing more than angry little homo-hunters on a beheading mission. It's time to live your own lives folks and thank God for the present moment right now, because you may not get another tomorrow. No use. I have bigger fish to fry.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!