Steph here.

Oh where, oh where have the Laneys gone!?

We know! It’s been forever since our last entry and the posts have been few and far between this year. (especially from me! Last time I wrote it was nearly summer and now it’s nearly fall!) We are working on remedying that as we have lots of life we really want to share with all of you. This year it’s been hard for me to write for a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons has just been that my health has still been on the decline all year, and I often just don’t have the energy for a lot of extra things. The other reason is that I’ve very specifically been focusing my writing energies on my poetry this year, which has brought me an incredible amount of joy!

I have always been a poet, and this year I made it my goal to stop dabbling in poetry and really start pursuing it as a passion, with purpose and focus and goals. When I started working from home, it really opened up more time for me to pursue this art form that I love, and I am thoroughly enjoying it! A few months ago I started a little poetry blog at www.fleetingandforever.wordpress.com. You can click on that link to check out some of the pieces I’ve been working on this year!

I’ve also been enjoying working on my photography a lot more and posting it in tandem with some of my poetry on Instagram. If you have an Instagram, you can check out my photography and poetry and follow my day-to-day poetic (and not so poetic) meanderings of thought under the account: juststephaniejoy. (Lindsey is there too under justlindseylaney!) Or, if you don’t have an Instagram account, you can still check out some of my photos by clicking HERE.

Linds and I are still working hard at building healthier bodies by following a strict autoimmune paleo diet. Linds doesn’t follow the diet quite as strictly as I do(she is still allowed to eat eggs, and tomatoes, and nuts :-P), but she has been the most amazing support, and she has soldiered on through cutting out most of the “normal” things we used to eat. As my health has continued to decline, my endocrinologist decided that it’d be best if I started to see a neurologist, and now I’m going through the lovely process of being tested for a host of autoimmune diseases. We do not know, yet, what exactly is going wrong, but we are trusting that God will take care of us no matter what and that love will always, always see us through!

A week and a half ago we had the most wonderful privilege of saying our wedding vows again, this time to make it legal. We took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico (which I heard as had a record 55% of marriages performed there this year be same-sex couples…go Santa Fe!), and we absolutely made the most of our little vacation, celebrating our 2 year anniversary and choosing each other again in a legal ceremony. September 2nd, the day we had our civil ceremony was definitely the best day of my life thus far. :D Here are some pictures of the incredible weekend and the monumental event…

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We visited this beautiful little prayer garden a couple of days before our ceremony and sat hand in hand, praying together over our marriage and life together. What a special memory for us!

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We made sure to soak up all the beauty and history and love that Santa Fe has to offer during the five days we were there visiting. We even bought some beautiful art to commemorate the occasion!

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Linds told me later that she was afraid that she wasn’t going to be able to repeat anything the judge was telling her to say because she was so full of emotion. But she repeated every word and melted my heart the entire time! ;)

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The Judge who married us was such a sweet and loving person. He was so genuinely happy for us, and it was such a blessing to have his gentle presence in our day. :)

 

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Legally married!

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We met so many sweet people that day. People who offered to take pictures without us even asking. People who blessed our marriage. People who congratulated us and went out of their way to make our celebration even more special. As someone who gets easily anxious when in the spotlight, I absolutely treasured every moment of our quiet, “just us” celebration. I loved our wedding day two years ago so much, most especially because of the presence of our family and the special memories I have of them loving us so thoroughly and celebrating us with such joy. I feel so incredibly blessed that Lindsey and I got to have this moment together because it felt like an extension of that marriage celebration, only with a day that was tailored a little bit to my quiet nature that tries to find ways to treasure such moments (as opposed to just letting them fly by). The whole weekend was incredibly special and fun and filled with love. But this day in particular was so special for me because it was tailor made for Lindsey and Stephanie, and I got to spend the whole day focusing on absolute gift of having (and choosing) Lindsey as my wife, my family, my home.

We are blessed to have been able to celebrate our marriage in two very, very special and memorable ways, and even though we still consider September 29th our anniversary, we are excited to be able to celebrate our marriage all month long now!

It’s been an exciting and full September already for us, and there is much more to come. Stay tuned!

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Linds here.

Is heterosexuality before marriage a sin? I’m willing to bet this is not a question you’ve ever asked yourself. It wasn’t a question I had ever asked myself before I heard Justin Lee, Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network, ask it to a group of college students.

Why does this question strike us as odd? Let’s break it down into story form to discover why.

Johnny is 5 years old. He’s starting Kindergarten this year and the house is all abuzz. Mom and Dad take Johnny to meet his new teacher the week before school starts, and to see his new fun classroom. Johnny, Mom, and Dad arrive at his new classroom and see lots of other kids and parents mingling about. Johnny’s dad leans down and says to Johnny,

“Hey Johnny, there’s your buddy Trevor over there. That’ll be fun having him in your class. And it looks like there are lots of cute girls in your class. Maybe you’ll find a little girlfriend this year!”

Now, of course Johnny’s dad is kidding. He knows that Johnny is not old enough to have mature sexual attraction to females. But, there is an underlying assumption that Johnny is heterosexual, even at 5. Let’s fast forward a few years. Johnny is now a fifth grader. Mid school year, Johnny comes home, plops himself down at the kitchen table to do homework, and pulls out his work folder. Scribbled on the top of the folder in girly twirly handwriting is the following phrase:

Sarah loves Johnny!

Johnny’s mom sits down at the table to help with his homework and sees his folder.

“So, Johnny, who’s Sarah?!! Is she your girlfriend? Did you find a cute girl in class Johnny?”

At which point Johnny, too cool to have this conversation with his mom, turns his folder over, covering up the scribbled love note, and says, “it’s nothing.” But, of course now he’s blushing.

Is Johnny having sex with Sarah? Heavens no! And his mom is confident of this. She is aware that he likely has a “girlfriend” with whom he probably never talks, but maybe gives her his favorite colorful eraser as a token of his love. He would at this point, again, be assumed heterosexual as a fifth grader.

Up to this point, this could be reminiscent of any story of any boy growing up in any family. Johnny is young, has a crush on a girl, and otherwise does fifth grade boy things like play soccer, keep a messy room, and eat 8 times a day.

Let’s say Johnny has a best friend named Adam. Now, Adam has had nearly an identical upbringing as Johnny. Their families live in the same neighborhood, they go to the same school, and they’ve played soccer on the same team since they were 4. Yes, they have soccer leagues that young. The only difference is, Adam has never had a crush on a girl. This is not entirely unusual as they are only 10 or 11 years old. They go to middle school together, and eventually high school, continuing their normal, relatively uneventful young lives. The twist comes when, at the age of 18, Adam, preparing to go to college and live away from his family for the first time, comes out as gay. He first confides in his mom. She takes it relatively well at first assuring him of her unconditional love. He then tells his dad, who does not take it so well. The commentary might go something like this:

“What? You’re what? You better be kidding me Adam! That’s sick! No son of mine is going to be a faggot! That’s just unnatural and disgusting. How could you even think of living that kind of lifestyle?!”

And, it goes on and on. At this point, it stands to be mentioned that Adam has never had sex. He is a true blue virgin. He has never even been in a relationship. There is an assumption, a mindset that shifts, changes drastically, once Adam comes out. The assumption is, if he is identifying as gay (homosexual- but please don’t use that term to identify someone, it’s insulting to gay people, trust me), he must be committing a sex act. For some reason, heterosexual is deemed an orientation as Johnny would be assumed to be heterosexual at the age of 5, again in fifth grade, and throughout his young adult life. Never once is this tied to an actual sex act. We all understand that it’s simply an orientation that says, one day, when he is old enough to experience mature sexual attraction, it will be for the opposite sex, for women.

No thinking person assumes that children have no sexual orientation until they reach middle school, start learning about the reproductive system in sex ed., and then say to themselves, “I think I choose the opposite sex to be attracted to, yes, that’s it, that’s how I’ll live my life, attracted to the opposite sex.” Christians would never assume that heterosexuality before marriage is a sin. Heterosexuality is just an orientation. Duh.

For some reason, the same rules do not apply to homosexual identifying people. Even if a gay person has never had sex in his or her life, that person is still considered by many Christians to be sinful, living a life of sin, or wrong for being gay. If we’re ever going to have a loving, intelligent, productive conversation about this topic, we have to get this figured out first.

Gay folks have always been gay. When they were 5, fifth graders, and adults. Not because they were having sex, but because homosexuality is an orientation just like heterosexuality. Homosexuality is not a sex act. If we want to debate the morality of or biblical stance on gay sex, that is an entirely different conversation (one that I am willing to have, but maybe not here. My mom reads this stuff). But let’s graduate beyond the erroneous concept that homosexuality is a thing that can be right or wrong. It is an orientation like heterosexuality. It is benign. It is not attached to morality. It is a state of being, not an action. Once we can all get on the same page about this, the conversations that really matter can begin.

Until then, just make sure you talk to your kids about just saying no to heterosexuality before marriage.

The more you know…(insert shooting star).

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Linds here.

Yesterday I posted a brief review of the book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate by Justin Lee. If you haven’t read that blog, take a look before reading my story. It will provide a good context for this blog.

 
Like Justin, growing up in middle school and high school I did not have the same attractions as my female friends. I found their attraction to boys very difficult to understand. Having boy crazy girl friends was annoying to me. I was not a late bloomer either. I was developing attractions right along with everyone else, I just didn’t know it because they weren’t directed at the “right” gender, boys.

 
At the time I had no idea there was a word for what I was experiencing. I usually just felt very isolated as if there was something wrong with me. I had guy friends and girl friends and an otherwise normal school experience, but there was always this lingering thing inside of me that caused deep, deep fear and unrest. I ignored it as often as I could because that’s how I deal with difficult things. I definitely never thought to call what I was experiencing “gay.”

 
I had never met a gay person. In my mind, gay people were other. I typically thought of gay people as men, living seedy, sexual lifestyles, in big cities like New York and Chicago. Gay, in my mind, had nothing to do with my experience as a white, middle class, suburban, Christian girl. By the time I was in college, I knew guys generally weren’t attracted to me, at least not in the girlfriend sense. And I knew, though never planned to admit, that I wasn’t attracted to guys either, not in the least. I had some great guy friends, but we were always just friends; that was where it ended. As early as elementary school, when kids start considering their opposite sex peers interesting rather than gross, I was always the buddy to my guy friends. In middle school, this remained true. By high school, I knew I was full on different. It was easier to focus on being buddies with my guy friends rather than thinking about the fact that I had never in my life been remotely attracted to a single guy, ever.

 
Friends and family members had told me before that I came off as unavailable. They didn’t want me to come off as some loose floosy but they knew that I came off as distant, uninterested, and inherently unavailable to guys, which is why I never had a steady boyfriend. I didn’t mind so much. I wasn’t heartbroken that boys didn’t want to date me. I was deeply heartbroken that there might be something wrong with me that I couldn’t fix.

 
I used to think I was just too vanilla, boring, plain, and uninteresting. Before graduating college, one acquaintance of mine had the nerve to insinuate that I might be gay. She didn’t use the word gay of course. It’s not something “civilized” people throw around in the Christian South. But the implication was clear. I took great offense to this, pushed it far outside of my mind, and put up more walls around myself to protect from such intrusions again. She wasn’t the only one over the years to insinuate (or even openly ask) if I might be gay, but each time I had a resounding “that’s not true!” response at the ready. I could not be gay because gay was wrong and I was a Christian. I had attended and loved church all my life. I worked in the church throughout college. My first real job was at a church. Church and God were my entire life. I loved the intricacies of the Bible like no other book on earth. I loved Jesus with my entire being. My faith filled up every part of my existence. So, I. Was. Not. Gay!

 
I avoided girls I was attracted to because it scared me and I didn’t know how on earth to deal with those feelings. I never showed up to a single family holiday with a boyfriend. I masked my lack of attraction to guys, as Christian purity, and couldn’t understand why purity was so hard for other girls. I made a great friend and confidant to guys, knowing I would never see them in any other light. And, I tried to the best of my ability to enjoy my life only being partially known but mostly hiding.

 
It wasn’t until I left college, moved out of town, and met my now wife, that this façade began to crumble. To read that story, click here. It is beautiful. It was not easy going from denying such a significant part of myself to owning all of myself. It was not easy navigating this personal crisis in the South, in the church, and as a public Christian working for the church. There was incredible shame, denial, and hiding involved. There was even incredible judgment from Christians…before I ever came out, before I was ever in a relationship. This caused intense fear in the deepest recesses of my soul. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever endured in my life. But, it has been a worthwhile journey. It has shaped my faith and who I am today.

 
I only hope and pray that the Christian culture can become more open to hearing stories like mine, and like Justin’s so that gay kids and teenagers, and college students don’t have to experience what we did. So that they don’t have to hide, and lie, and fear, and hate themselves. Several kids and teenagers from the youth groups I worked with in the past have reached out to me to tell me they are gay, or struggling with same sex attraction, or experiencing judgment from their communities because of their same sex attractions. It breaks my heart. They should all be living happy, healthy lives without all of the fear and judgment.

 
If you’re pretty sure being gay is wrong, please read Justin’s book. Not so you can change your mind, but so that you can fully understand what being gay really means. So that you can have an informed opinion, rather than just adopting a majority opinion (the Christian majority). So that you can engage with the incredible story of one boy growing up loving Jesus, growing up gay. So that you can engage with my story and the story of countless other gay Christians, and be changed.

maravconnolly says:
Beautiful Linds. Thanks for being courageous and making a difference. You make... more

Torn- Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate

Linds here.

A few years ago, soon after Steph and I came out, we attended a Christian conference. It was more of a symposium really. And, this symposium was actually a gay Christian symposium. Basically, different speakers, teachers, and leaders gathered to present stories, theological findings, and experiences regarding being gay Christians. One of the sessions at the symposium featured a gay Christian by the name of Justin Lee. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network, a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to offering support and bridge building opportunities to gay Christians. As I heard him speak about building bridges between gay people and Christians it dawned on me that these two sides of myself were now seemingly at odds. Not because being a Christian means I can’t be gay. I don’t believe that; it’s not even possible to willfully change. And, not because being gay means I can’t be a Christian. I could no sooner give up my faith in Jesus than I could cut off my arm. These two sides of myself were seemingly at odds because there is a culture war between the gay community and the Christian community; and for the last few years, I’ve felt it intensely warring around me.

Justin recently wrote a book called Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate. I read it last week and started reading it again this week. I typically do that with movies I really like, watch them twice in a row, but I’ve never done it with a book, until now. Why is this book so good? Because it tells a story, a story that happens to closely resonate with mine. The story puts words to so many things I’ve felt and thought over the last few years. Justin recounts growing up in a Christian home but not just with Christian parents. See, Justin himself was a devout Christian. He loved the Bible, going to church, and following Jesus. The only seeming problem as he grew up is that he was attracted to guys, not girls. He tried denying these attractions, he tried dating girls, and he tried pursuing ex-gay ministries to change his orientation to heterosexual. But, nothing worked. Through many years and trials with the Christian community, he was ostracized, misunderstood, kicked out of his church, and judged for being gay, even though he had never been in a gay relationship. This didn’t turn him away from God though. It birthed fears about Christianity and the church, but not God. He describes his experiences in college trying to fit into the gay community on campus as well as a Christian community and all of the challenges that brought on. He discusses some of the erroneous assumptions about why people are gay (no, it’s not your parents’ fault), what his journey through the Bible texts looked like as he tried to discover God’s will in his life, and his journey to eventually founding the Gay Christian Network as a safe haven of community for gay Christians. His story is amazing.

His story is amazing to me because it resonates with my story. No, I did not come out to my parents in high school like he did. And, no, I did not experience college as an out gay Christian. I was not that courageous. But I did grow up knowing distinctly that something was different about me. Stay tuned tomorrow as I share a bit about my own story…

Growing up Gay: My... says:
[…] I posted a brief review of the book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from... more

Slavery: The Christian Biblical Justification

Linds here. With grad school and work and the beautiful summertime outdoors, I haven’t found much time for blogging. I didn’t however want to abandon this subject as it is such an important revelation in our nation’s Christian history. After …

 

Re-post: Slavery: The Biblical Justification

Lindsey here. Re-posting this entry today. Look for part 2 coming this week! Several weeks ago I began reading a book. I read books all the time, but this book was different. The book I read is called The Civil …

 

Spring, new beginnings, and green smoothies

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Steph here. Hi guys! Long time no write! What a spring it has been for us here! I can’t believe summer is just a few short days away; can you? Linds and I have been busy this spring. We took …

 

Slavery: The Christian Biblical Justification

Linds here. Several weeks ago I began reading a book. I read books all the time, but this book was different. The book I read is called The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. That might sound like an odd …

 

Restoration!

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Linds here. I never thought I’d go back to school. And yet, here I am, seven months into another Master’s program. I want my degree to align with my business/career goals and it’s actually a really great opportunity. After going …

 

Let the Children Starve in Jesus’ Name

Linds here. Last week I started writing a blog that went something like this: I don’t know quite what to say. But by God I’ll figure it out because some things need saying. There has been recent “scandalous” news in …