25 Comments >

I’ve been thinking a lot about my deepest held images of God: why do I hold them? Where do they come from? What do they say about the Christian faith I was raised in? What do they say about me? How do they hold me back? Or how could they possibly be liberating?

I used to be afraid to think about images of God. I used to think that if there were no more images of God, God would disappear for me.

Yet, personal religious experiences that I’ve had recently have changed my mind.

I believe there’s Something there, something bigger and more amazing than I can comprehend. Something that feels like love and sings wisdom into my heart. I call that something God.

It’s hard to talk tangibly about something, though, ya know?

So, here we are, humans with limited (as amazing as they are) mental capacities, which are reigned in even further by the confines of language. And we need to talk about. . .

Something. 

I imagine the writers of the Bible had this problem. How to write about something?

And like good writers, the Biblical authors explained this unfamiliar something by comparing it to something their audience would find familiar.

We need images of God. They help us talk about God. They help us pray. They help us understand. They help us fight injustice.

But sometimes these images take hold. Sometimes they become idols.

God is also not a white dude...

God is also not a white dude…

Instead of worshipping God, it seems like often we worship a father.

We worship a king.

We worship a lord.

But we don’t worship I AM WHAT I SHALL BE. We don’t worship God.

We worship men.

As Elizabeth A. Johnson says in her book She Who Is, “The theistic God is modeled on the pattern of an earthly absolute monarch, a metaphor so prevalent it is often taken for granted.” She reminds us the hard truth that, “even when [this monarch] is presented as kindly, merciful, and forgiving, the fundamental problem remains. Benevolent patriarchy is still patriarchy.”

I think sometimes we let our patriarchal, imperialist, domination-based society dictate our faith.

We lose sight of Jesus as God with us, and focus on God over us. 

I think even masculine images of God can be extremely useful in confronting patriarchy, and other systems of injustice. If God is king, then I am not subject to earthly rulers. If God is father, then I am not subject to men.

Yet these images are so easily appropriated by those in power. If God is king, then king is God. If God is father, then father is God.

I don’t suggest we leave images behind. But I suggest we stop, and we think. And we remember.

We must remember God is not really a king. 

If Jesus is any indication as Christian doctrine says, God looks nothing like earthly kings. God died a mockery of their robes and crowns. God rose in victory over death–the strongest threat that powerful men have in their arsenal–and in all God’s victorious glory God . . . went and fried up some fish and chilled with some friends.

The heavens are not literally God’s throne and the earth is not literally God’s footstool.

God is not really a king, and we need to be extremely careful when images of ruling men in a patriarchal society begin to inform our faith. That is when religion’s power of liberation gets wrestled away by the very oppressors it once challenged.

God is not a man.

God is what God shall be.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

So, who IS this man? (a book review)

I was recently asked to read and review John Ortberg’s new book, Who Is This Man? After the last Christian book I was asked to review, I was kind of squeamish to pick this one up. But I actually had a relatively enjoyable experience reading it.

At this point in my life and in my faith, I didn’t learn much from it. It didn’t challenge me much. To be honest, I think my time would have been better spent reading feminist theology or Stephen King. But I didn’t hate it. Perhaps, readers, you are at a different place in your faith journey and this book would be helpful for you. I’ll give you my thoughts on the book and you can decide if it’s worth your time (and $22.99).

First, I’ll talk about Ortberg’s premise. The book is described as “a powerful testament to the impact that Jesus had on human history, human condition, and our understanding of the obligations of one human being to another.” I don’t feel Ortberg did a good job of defending this premise, honestly. Part of that likely has to do with the fact that Christians are actually rather terrible at following Jesus’ teachings. He also seems like he wants to make a distinction between Jesus’ impact on the world and Christianity’s impact on the world, which I’m not sure is possible. Furthermore, in defending his premise, Ortberg also sometimes fails to consider other possible sources besides or in addition to Jesus for areas of impact on humanity. For instance, he writes an entire chapter on women’s rights without once mentioning the feminist movement–and you KNOW how I feel about THAT, readers. Often, his view of history is over-simplified in an attempt to prove his point.

He also reveals a substantial amount of Western bias in trying to support the premise of his book. Often, when he talks about Jesus’ impact on the world, he means Jesus’ impact on Western society. For instance, he claims that Jesus has had an unparalleled impact on the art world–something that may be true of Western art, but is not quite so obvious when you consider the impact that other religions have had on art in other parts of the world.

I believe his book would have been far more effective if he framed it differently. Ortberg doesn’t sufficiently support his main thesis, which makes the whole book come across as weak and shallow.

I won’t throw the baby out with the bath-water (forgive the cliche. This head-cold is impeding on my creativity), though. If this book had come to me 5 years ago, it might have changed my life (instead, Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution did the job). It gave me a sliver of hope that the evangelical church is progressing. That more and more people are leaving behind legalistic, exclusive, fear-based institutional Christianity and trying to figure out what it means to be more like Christ.

The Good:

One chapter was entitled “The Collapse of Dignity.” I found it interesting, considering the fact that the last book I reviewed was all about how Christian women need to act more dignified. Ortberg discusses Jesus’ subversion of power structures: “A revolution was starting–a slow, quiet movement that began at the bottom of society and would undermine the pretensions of the Herods…Men who wear purple robes and glittering crowns and gaudy titles begin to look ridiculous…and yet the figure of the child born in a manger seems only to grow in stature.” Those without “dignity” according to society are first in the Kingdom of God. Ortberg repeats this theme through the book.

Ortberg includes a chapter entitled “What Does a Woman Want?” The first time I read the chapter title, I got a little squeamish. Christian men bring that question a lot, and then they try to answer it (presumably without ever actually SPEAKING TO a woman about what she wants). See  Donald Miller, Corey Copeland, etc., etc., etc. But, I actually thought Ortberg did a good job for the most part (I actually have a blog post coming up concerning a part of this chapter, so look for that). His answer to the question “What Does a Woman Want?” is pretty simple: “Jesus was doing something very subversive. He was treating a woman like someone who had her own identity.” 

He constantly critiques the church for failing to live up to Jesus’ teachings, especially the Christian tendency to “other” people from different religions: “How often have attempts to ‘side’ with Jesus caused people to belittle the teachings of other religions to try to make Jesus look more superior? We caricature the teachings of Islam or Buddhism without taking the time to give them a fair hearing in the name of Christianity. In doing so, we place ourselves against the One we claim to support.” 

He calls out anti-intellectualism and the anti-science movement so prevalent within the church: “To love God with all my mind means following truth ruthlessly wherever it leads.”

He critiques the idea of hell: “[Teachings on the afterlife] were often used–as they have been ever since–to manipulate people to become or remain Christians out of self-centered fear. Origen said that ‘literal terrors of hell were false but should be publicized in order to scare simpler believers.”

A few additional criticisms:

Ortberg hints at Calvinist theology in several places (talk of election, total human depravity, substitutionary atonement, etc.). This is always sure to make me uncomfortable. Maybe those who have a better, and less oppressive understanding of Calvinism won’t have a problem with this, though.

He has a chapter called The Truly Old-Fashioned Marriage, which was probably my least favorite part of the book. He states that “sexual intimacy is reserved for married people, period.” and he discusses how sex outside of marriage makes everyone’s lives more complicated (using Naomi Wolf to “prove” his point, which has got to say something about Wolf’s brand of feminism, but I digress). I don’t agree with his point and I get frustrated when Christians simplify the issue of premarital sex to “Don’t do it. Period.” But he avoids shaming those who have had premarital sex, and doesn’t treat it as the sin to end all sins, so there’s that. He also calls out the sexual double standard and the Christian tendency to blame women for male lust, which I appreciated.

He doesn’t directly address same-sex marriage, but throughout the chapter mentioned above he describes marriage as “between a man and a woman.” This felt like a deliberate move on his part. I could be wrong.

Overall, the book presented a positive alternative to the Religious Right brand of evangelicalism. I might recommend it to anyone who is just leaving this version of Christianity and would like to rediscover the  Jesus of the Bible. I’d probably recommend N.T. Wright, Rob Bell, or Rosemary Reuther first, though.

If you’d like to check out Who Is This Man?, you can buy it on Amazon. If you buy it, let me know what you think! 


13 Comments

When your home church doesn’t feel like home

I’ve been away from my hometown in Michigan for four years now, but I’m back, for at least a year.

Only it doesn’t feel like home right now.

Parts do. I get along with my parents better than I ever did, and, now that I am no longer an angsty teenager, I can see them as humans…friends even. My siblings and I are as close as ever, and even though my best friend (since we were babies) is now all married and grown up, our relationship is the same as ever. Two of our three cats still like to sneak into my room at night and curl up on my chest so that I wake up to an allergy attack of love in the morning. The third cat still hates me and everyone else and all is right with the world.

But somehow in the past four years, I lost my home church.

I don’t know how it happened exactly.

I know I’ve changed. I feel like it’s changed. Sometimes I feel that I’ve outgrown it, and other times I feel that it’s rejected me. Maybe it’s a little of both. But it’s not home anymore, I know that.

Oh, I want it to be. So badly.

See, I knew it wasn’t home from the first summer I came back from college. I knew I didn’t fit there anymore. But I stayed…and I stayed…and I stayed. I told myself I was being too selfish or too bitter. I told myself I was nitpicking or not focusing on Jesus enough.

“Stick it out,” I told myself.

“You’re not perfect either,” I reminded myself.

“You’re not here because of ____,” I said.

But after three years, I knew that staying at this church was just killing my soul.

I want to love it. I want to love it for all the people who will empty their wallets whenever another church member needs help. I want to love it for the woman who answered my prayers and put a ten dollar bill in my hand the last time I went. I want to love it for the people who will answer their phones at 3 in the morning when a teen needs a ride home from a party or just a shoulder to cry on.

There are good people there. Some of the best people. People that I still look up to and people who put this so-called advocate for social justice to shame with how much they care about those in need.

And I will never forget that when I came to that church as a misfit in high school, they welcomed me with open arms. They made me feel like I belonged somewhere–maybe for the first time in my life.

Image via the fantastic David Hayward

When I go now, though, I feel like a misfit again. I don’t want to, because there is good there and I want to be a part of it, but I can’t help it. I feel like I don’t belong anymore.

I feel like I could belong, if I stopped believing this or at least stopped talking about that. If I stopped being friends with those people or stopped dating this person. If I stopped asking questions and stopped having doubts and if I took everything the church leaders said at face value…

If I ignored the hurtful words of some church leaders and teachers, and the congregational “Amens!” that usually follow. The jokes about certain people that aren’t jokes. Not really. The phrases like “over-educated” and “too smart for your own good” that pierce my academia loving soul. The hateful, degrading words used to describe people I love, just because those people believe differently or have the “wrong” kind of sex. The words condemning these people that I love to hell.

I’m not sure it’s worth it.

I’m not sure I want to give up this part of me. And I know I don’t want to ignore those words anymore.

There are people there who would never want me to give up that part of me. People who love me despite my beliefs and despite the fact that I talk back when I hear these words. Those people will always be my family.

But I can’t ignore the feeling of dread I get when I walk into that building anymore.

It’s not home.

So, I’m leaving.

Hopefully on not-too-horrible terms. I refuse to ignore the hateful words and hurtful teachings that drove me away (because those words and teachings do not exist solely within this church, nor do they effect only the people within this church, and they need to be fought against), but I hope all at the church know that I will never ever forget the good.

But I have to go. After four years of trying to pretend it was home, while knowing deep down it wasn’t, I have to go.

Consider this my farewell.

I have only well wishes for the little church that I used to call home. Any criticisms I have from here on out come from a sincere desire to see all churches become more like Jesus. I hope the good in that church continues to grow. I hope the love gets bigger and stronger and that someday there is no room for hate.

Maybe someday, the doors of that church will open wide enough for evolutionists and agnostics and trans people and gays and democrats. Maybe even stubborn, opinionated, skeptical feminists such as myself.

Until then, let us part ways.

But peace be with you.


67 Comments

Relevant Magazine, Hugo Schwyzer, and a thing called grace

Trigger warnings for rape, abuse, stalking

I believe in a thing called grace.

Really, I do. I believe people can change, and when people change, I believe in giving those people a second chance. But here’s the thing.

Life’s complicated.

Because, sometimes, showing “grace” to one person means denying grace from another.

Here’s an example: You have a child molester who has raped and abused young children. This child molester meets Jesus. Jesus changes said child molester.

Great!

But what if this child molester decides he wants to start coming to church? What if he decides he wants to work in the church nursery with children?

Do you show him “grace” by forgetting his past and letting him do so?

I think you all know the answer to that question.

Now, hypothetical situations aside, we need to talk about Relevant Magazine  and Hugo Schwyzer.

Relevant Magazine, a site that claims to herald progressive Christianity, recently published an article by Hugo Schwyzer. You may not recognize that name, and I doubt Relevant did either when they published his article. But a quick Google search will reveal his disturbing past.

According to Grace from “Are Women Human?:”

Hugo Schwyzer lied for several years about his attempt to kill a woman – on one occasion, falsely describing his attempt to kill his girlfriend and himself as only a suicide attempt that “accidentally” endangered her.

Grace explains more (and provides documentation) in her article here (which I encourage you all to read).

So, our pal Hugo is a repentant abuser.

Now, let me repeat, I BELIEVE PEOPLE CAN CHANGE, and if you skip down to the comments section without reading this whole post and leave me a pat answer like, “God changes people!” I may just have to cry.

But Hugo, a man who has committed very serious crimes against women, is now writing articles at Relevant Magazine about women’s issues. And there are some problems with that.

The first problem is, Relevant refuses to disclose Schwyzer’s past. There was no disclaimer on the article, no mention of his abuse in the article.

Not only that, but Relevant actively silenced voices that informed readers of Schwyzer’s past. 

My friend Dianna Anderson, from diannaeanderson.net, posted a comment that was deleted.

I posted the article by Grace (above) on Relevant’s Facebook page. Not only was my comment deleted, but I was blocked from Relevant’s Facebook page, even though my post containing the article contained no profanities or hateful words.

Several of my twitter friends then tried posting the article to Relevant’s page. Their comments were also deleted.

If you can’t see why this is a problem, let me remind you of the hypothetical scenario that I mentioned above–if there was a repentant child molester working in your church nursery, wouldn’t you want to know about it?

Similarly, I, as an abuse survivor, would like to know that the man writing articles at a once-trusted Christian website is a former abuser. I would like to know so that I can be cautious about the comments I leave on his article. So I can be cautious about linking my blog to the article. So I can be cautious about following this man on Twitter.

Yet, people like Relevant writer Max Dubinsky can’t seem to understand this. Dubinsky stated in a conversation on Relevant’s Facebook: “How would everyone here like it if every time you spoke or wrote something, you had to disclose the worst thing you’ve ever done for everyone to hear and read?”

Dubinsky’s comment considers only the feelings of the abuser, and not the feelings of survivors.

And here’s where MY question comes in to play, for Relevant, Dubinsky, and all other Christians who would ignore the concerns of survivors in order to defend former abusers: Who gets your grace?

Because if you can’t see why former abusers should have to disclose their abuse before having an article published on an interactive Christian website, then you have no grace for abuse victims. 

Secondly, this argument isn’t just about Hugo Schwyzer’s past. He continues to write articles that make even a sex-positive feminist such as myself a bit uncomfortable (here’s one entitled “He Wants to Jizz on Your Face, but Not Why You Think” written in January of 2012).

And, the man has no sense of boundaries. None, whatsoever.

I spent last night in an impassioned Twitter discussion about the recent Relevant Magazine article, and how uncomfortable it made me feel. Several of my Twitter friends joined in to express their discomfort as well.

And as we talked about how nervous Schwyzer made us…

Schwyzer tried to follow some of us on Twitter.

He even “favorited” a tweet of mine in which I was talking about how uncomfortable he made me. It was as if he was saying, “I’m watching you. I see what you’re saying about me. I see how I’m making you feel. And I like it.”

I had a panic attack upon seeing that he’d favorited my tweet, and I cried for about 20 minutes.

And I still wonder, why? Why would a man who has completely changed “favorite” a tweet by a woman that felt uncomfortable reading his articles? Why would a man who no longer wants to hurt women attempt to force his online presence upon women who clearly did not want that presence?

The answer is, he wouldn’t.

Hugo Schwyzer may not be trying to murder women anymore. But he is still deliberately attempting to make them feel uncomfortable. He is still relishing their discomfort. Admitting, via Twitter, that seeing these feelings in women is a “favorite” of his.

Yet, Relevant refuses to inform readers of this man’s past. Relevant continues to give this man an undisputed platform in progressive Christianity.

They do this in the name of grace.

But again I say, who gets your grace? 

“Grace” to abusers at the expense of survivors is not the grace of Jesus.

“Grace” that allows abusers to continue to harm women unchecked is not the grace of Jesus.

This “grace” that Relevant claims to be giving Hugo Schwyzer by publishing his articles and refusing to include a disclaimer about his past is NOT grace to survivors. It is NOT grace to women. And, really, it is NOT grace to Schwyzer to allow him to continue to participate in circles where he is working with the people he once abused without holding him accountable.

Check your idea of grace, Relevant Magazine.

It’s not the grace of Jesus. 

If you are as bothered this whole situation as I was, please sign my petition asking Relevant magazine to include a disclaimer about Schwyzer’s past with any future articles by him. I think it’s a reasonable request that would show grace to survivors and commenters who might be reluctant to have Schwyzer know their information. I also think it may help keep Schwyzer accountable and may dissuade him from further Twitter-stalking episodes like the one described above. The link to the petition is here. Thank you very much. 


29 Comments

Never going back

Trigger Warning for Abuse

I used to be in an abusive relationship.

Once, I broke up with him, and he threatened to kill me for it.

I was in his car, and I told him I didn’t want to be with him anymore. He decided that if I wouldn’t be with him, I  couldn’t be with anyone. So he gave me the choice:

Change my mind and stay with him, or he would crash the car into a telephone pole.

I forced him to take me home that day by threatening him with a crowbar I found on the floor of his car. But there were more threats. And eventually I gave in.

I chose to stay with him, and the threats stopped.

Because he “loved me.”

And as long as I loved him back, he would never hurt me.

No one can stand here and tell me that my ex-boyfriend gave me free will that day. No one will ever convince me that I had a real choice in this situation. My options were stay with a cruel, vengeful man, or die.

No one can convince me that this was love.

In fact, I don’t think any of you would even try.

We recognize this kind of behavior in humans as cruel and hateful. We’d tell our sisters, our daughters, our friends to run from men (or women) like this.

But what if God acts like an abusive boyfriend?

What if God gives us only the choice of a life spent with a cruel, vengeful God or a life spent in hell?

We call that free will.

What if God uses violence to punish those God loves when those people do not love God back?

We say, “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”

Yet we still say God is love.

God is good.

But this God that the Evangelical church taught us to believe in, if this God came to earth as a human, he would have been my abusive ex-boyfriend.

But I don’t believe in that God anymore.

I believe in a different God.

My God did come to earth as a human. But that human didn’t look at all like my abusive ex-boyfriend.

That human was Jesus.

And Jesus loved. Real love–not this controlling, abusive, hate that we’re so used to assigning to God. Real love.

Believe in the vengeful Evangelical God if you want. Tell me I’m wrong in the comments section. I know some of you will.

But I know what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship. I know. And I can tell you what one looks like. A relationship with the Evangelical God? Yeah, that’s abusive, and I’ve escaped that abusive relationship.

I’m never going back.


19 Comments

Our Mother who art in heaven…

I’m trying this new thing where I don’t just think of God as a man. Where I get this image out of my head that God is an old man that looks like Gandalf and has Morgan Freeman’s voice. Where I let God out of this box of masculinity that God’s been confined to.

It’s difficult. The images of God that we focus on in the Bible are all quite masculine. God is a Father. God is a King. God as a husband. God is He and Him. And to complicate matters, the preachers that have always told me about God were men. Jesus was a man. The twelve apostles were men.

Our male pastors and theologians remind us of this over and over and over until it almost seems like blasphemy when someone suggests that God doesn’t look like George Bluth Sr. with a beard. In fact, I’ve been told twice this week alone that to call God a woman is disrespectful to God.

Image

But, I think this view of God can be limiting.

The truth is, whatever God is, God isn’t really a father or a king or a husband. According to our Judeo-Christian tradition, God is something beyond our human understanding. God is a spirit that is neither male nor female. God is something that placed God’s image on each human–male and female and even those who don’t fit in either category. What we have with the Bible is humankind’s various ways of trying to understand and relate to this Abrahamic/Christian God–humankind’s attempt at documenting God’s interactions and impact on the world.

The writers of the Bible often do this by describing God as something that we can understand. We can imagine the protective father, the mighty king, and the faithful husband.

Furthermore, we Christians often describe God as an object or an animal. We can call God a rock, a tower. A shield. We can picture God as the roaring lion of Judah or the lamb being led to slaughter.

But call God a woman? That’s disrespect.

The argument I usually hear is that the Bible never pictures God as these things, and I can’t help but think that our male leaders have let us down or deliberately with-held information from us.

Because friends, oh friends, even the patriarchal Biblical writers recognized “feminine” aspects of God.

Isaiah 42:14 “For a long time I have held my peace…now I will cry out like a woman in labor”

Isaiah 66:13 “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you”

Isaiah 46:3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob…who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb”

Deuteronomy 32:18 “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

Job 38:29 “From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?”

Isaiah 49:15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

Luke 13:34 “…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

With the exception of transgendered men, men do not cry out in labor pains. Men do not breastfeed their children. These are traits limited to those with a female biology.

Yet we never sing praises to God the mother.

In fact, these passages are rarely even brought up in discussions of God’s identity.

I have to ask, why?

Why?

It cannot be ignorance. Our preachers who spent years in seminaries could not have missed so many obvious descriptions of the feminine aspects of God.

Are we so blinded by our preconceived notions of “Our Father who art in heaven,” that we read these verses never even stop to think that, perhaps saying “Our Mother” could be just as valid?

Or we afraid that if women could really see the image of God in themselves they would stop tolerating the second-class status that the church and society has placed them in? That they would start proclaiming that image with action and with words and with song?

Are we afraid that, if God is feminine, then what we have done to women in this world, we have also done to God?

Why do we not embrace God as our mother?

What are we so afraid of?


25 Comments

It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship?

When I was growing up, and people asked about my religion, I would parrot the phrase I’d heard from countless well-meaning pastors, Sunday school teachers, and friends. You know the one…

“It’s not a religion. It’s a relationship.”

Then, there’s the viral video that’s been going around lately. I’m sure you’ve seen it making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and the Blogosphere:

“Why I hate religion, but love Jesus.”

(side note: for an excellent response to this video, check out Elizabeth Esther’s blog!)

I know what those phrases are trying to imply, and, to some extent, I agree with the spirit fueling them. Religion carries a highly negative connotation in our culture. Rather than wrestling with the definition of religion and working to change these negative connotations, it’s easier to distant ourselves from religion without trying to understand it.

But what if religion isn’t as bad as we think it is?

In fact, what if religion and a love for Jesus are inextricable?

How we answer those questions depends on how we define religion. That’s not the world’s easiest task. I’m in a class now called Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, and we spent most of today’s class discussing our definitions of “religion” and “spirituality.” Even when trying to come up with a broad definition, answers varied, and if we tried to paint pictures of what religion looks like in practice, we could fill museum after museum.

One man in our class discussion described it as this: “Spirituality (which I believe the idea of “loving Jesus” falls under) is like the act of getting into shape. Religion is like joining a gym in order to get into shape.”

I might describe it this way, “Spirituality is an emotional love for Jesus. Religion is an active love.”

We can disagree on the semantics. I understand that the term “religion” has seriously negative connotations, and using the term might scare people away and shut down conversation. I won’t argue with you if you feel the need to drop the word. But don’t just repeat these “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship!” without stopping to think about what they mean to you.

Yes, relationship with Jesus is important, but…

If we want a relationship with Jesus, we have to do.

We have to love Jesus.

Not just be in love with Jesus.

If I love my partner, Abe, I’ll feel attraction for him. I’ll want to be with him and get to know him. I’ll be in love with him.

But…

I’ll also do things for him. I’ll schedule time out of my busy college schedule to spend with him. I’ll compliment him and let him know I appreciate him. I’ll celebrate important days–birthdays, anniversaries, etc.–with him. I’ll wash his dishes while he’s at work. I’ll meet his friends–I’ll learn to love the people who he loves. I’ll love him.

Relationships are about action, not just desire. That action will look different in every relationship, just as different people approach religion in different ways. But if I “love me some Jesus,” then I’m going to do things for Jesus. I’m going to love the people that Jesus loves. I’m going to help him accomplish his task of redeeming a hurting, broken world. I’m going to embrace rituals and ceremonies and organizations that bring me closer to him and that provide an outlet for me to love his people.

This “love for Jesus” that so many evangelical churches support seems like the immature love of a 13-year-old girl scribbling  on a bathroom wall a heart and the name of her crush.

I’m tired of settling for that shallow, intangible, romantic emotion of being in love with Jesus.

Let’s get off our asses and love.