Tag Archives: Church

Sex & Shame (Jesus was a Bastard)

26 Aug

I am going to talk about sex.  And adultery. And abortion.

(Just another fun Tuesday night.)

I don’t do stuff like that on my blog. I am not really a fan of controversy.

But I feel like I need to add my voice to the madness.

We’ve all read the headlines lately.

So many emotions. So many personal opinions. So many people angry and disgusted. Heart-broken.

So many people divided, further.

I don’t have a lot of answers, but I know a few things that are not answers.

I don’t think we (as followers of Jesus) need to preach sin-avoidance to people.

Quit having sex outside marriage.

Quit screwing up.

Quit being imperfect…being human.

I don’t think we do a very good job giving grace to people.

(That’s what Jesus does.)

People suck at it. But we try, bless our hearts.

With the help of a love that won us over, we can love the unlovable.

(Mainly, us.)

Honestly, I don’t think yelling and protesting and signing petitions and using hashtags is going to change much.

I definitely don’t think sheltering our kids, obsessing over “purity,” and making sure abstinence is the only option, works.

I don’t think putting “good, Christian” marriage on a pedestal really helps either.

Real change is harder. It takes a lot of inconvenience and sacrifice and passion.

It’s easy to get angry. It’s a little more difficult to step back and examine the meaning behind the action.

How did our society get here?

When did we stop taking responsibility for our actions?

When did it become ok to rip apart innocent children?

When did we grow so cynical and hard-hearted?

When did I?

I played the perfect Christian girl for a long time. I tried, and I really wanted to do the right thing. But I was sad and broken and feeling unloved, unworthy and guilty. I lost my virginity when I was 15. When I was 18,  I thought I was pregnant. I wasn’t, but it was a scare.

But I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had been.  If I had a child at 18 instead of 30. Outside of marriage instead of inside. With a dysfunctional boy who was even more broken than I was, instead of with my best friend who I trust more than anyone.

Would I have been rejected by my church community?

Would I have stopped loving Jesus because I thought he could never love me after what I did?

Would I ever have been able to forgive myself?

I think about the shroud of guilt and condemnation that the Christian church has historically covered over people who commit sexual sins.

(As if there is a moral hierarchy.)

The red letters placed on women’s chests throughout generations.





I think of all those fatherless children who grow up with an unnecessary shadow of gloom over them.

I think of all the babies who never get to see the light of day because their mother’s couldn’t bear to bring them into the world.

Maybe these almost-mothers were just selfish and calloused, or maybe they carried that deep shame placed on them by some religious stone-throwers.

You know, to put it bluntly, Jesus was an illegitimate child… a bastard.

Imagine the scandal of an unmarried girl becoming pregnant.

It was God.

Right. Until he heard it straight from an angel, the only thing Joseph thought was that his fiance had slept with another man.

Imagine the pride and fear he had to swallow in order to stay with her.

This isn’t my baby.

The very act of God coming to earth was surrounded by so much scandal.

Then Jesus grew up and dared to look the prostitute in the eye and tell her she was worth something.

So why are those who claim to be followers of Him so obsessed with sexual sin?

I know the shame and the pain it can cause. But I also know the redemption available. The freedom and grace we all can walk in.

What if we created an environment where we stopped preaching everything that is wrong with the world and started focusing on what can be redeemed?


What if we taught our kids that instead of focusing on not having sex, just to focus on Jesus?

What if we stopped worshipping marriage and thinking our spouse is going to be our savior and just accept them for the human they are?

What if we celebrated the beauty of a new life, no matter how they were conceived?

What if we focused on grace and love and stopped arguing about what we think sin is and isn’t?

What if every pregnant, single girl was immediately swept up into a loving community, protected by a family dedicated to being by her side through every emotional and physical pain, a village committed to helping raise her precious child?


Would destroying her baby even cross her mind?

What if we stopped obsessively pointing at what people do in their bedrooms and started obsessively pointing them to Christ?

What if we embraced the worst of the monsters and found that they are just as human as us?

I am not saying it’s easy. Completely the opposite. I don’t have some political plan to see this on a mass scale.

And I am not saying we shouldn’t be angry.

It’s good to feel righteous anger, even rage.

But don’t let it paralyze you. Don’t let it make you bitter and hopeless.

(Trust me, I am speaking to myself)

Turn your heartbreak into action.

Volunteer. Foster. Adopt. Love. Give. Write. Speak.

Do it from a place of humility, knowing:

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

And tomorrow will be better.

An Open Letter of Apology (To Anyone I Gave Religion Instead of Love)

7 Feb


It’s me, Brooke. I am a gorgeous mess, an abstract soul, a work of art some people can’t decipher.

In the past I was full of fear and insecurity. I hated myself. I remember making a mental list of all the things that would have to change to become “normal.” Some things were in my power to fix, some were out of my control. I was only five or six years old.

I always knew God was real, and that he loved me, but somewhere along the lines I adopted the suffocating belief system that he would love me more if I was better.

If I was holier. If I was normal.

Given the option at eighteen to pick between the dirty, crooked, path I saw myself heading down, and the pristine holiness I thought was attainable, I took the latter. I threw myself into a lifestyle of dedication and purity,  of prayer and sacrifice.

I just wanted to be better.

I just wanted God.

I know during those roller coaster years of losing the parts of me I hated, and reinventing myself to be who I thought I needed to be, I alienated you.

For this I am deeply sorry.

I am sorry for thinking your sin was worse than mine because it came out in your actions instead of just dwelling alone in your head.

I am sorry for judging and giving you a formula prescription instead of really listening to your story.

I am sorry for believing my righteousness was connected to my rightness.

I am sorry for giving you law instead of love.

I  am sorry for blindly following others, for allowing myself to become a robot.

I am sorry for being afraid of truth that dressed a little differently then what I was used to.

I am sorry for making it “us vs. them” and for putting you in the “them” category.

I am sorry for preaching Jesus’ love but living like a Pharisee.

I think about how I used to view the world, and it seems like I don’t even speak the same language.

Before, everything was cause and effect, an eye for an eye, reaping and sowing.

Now, I know there is nothing I can do to make me better.

This is the Good News.

It’s not persuading someone of some historical facts, or convincing someone they are broken and need fixing.

We are all beyond broken.

We are dead.

Then life comes in, and everything changes.

This life is purely gratuitous.

It’s more than we could ever need. We don’t have to polish it up. We don’t have to add anything to it.

We miraculously become complete.

Believing this is how I finally learned to love myself.

So, while I can’t erase those years of living under bondage  and putting chains on you with my words and actions,

By grace, I will now write and speak only of freedom and grace.

Where you go from here is up to you.

Sometimes these things seem too good to be true, but that’s exactly what makes them true.

So please, forgive me.

Please, throw out anything that doesn’t bring life, especially religion.

Embrace Jesus who is love and grace, and be free.




The Relevant Generation

29 Jul

(I wrote this essay two years ago and revised it to fit on my blog.)

This is the relevant generation. We’ve been over-churched and hurt and jaded. We’ve been burnt out, but we’ve realized that it was people, not God. The worst insult is to be called “a pharisee” or to be fake. Religion is a disease to us. We have rejected the cheesy and un-hip. We laugh at those guys that are still “stuck in religion.” We aren’t afraid to cuss, smoke or drink a beer, and we prefer Chris Martin to Chris Tomlin. We are not our parent’s religion. We have rejected the Jesus of the suits and ties, of the organs and the doxology, and we have found the rebel Jesus that loves our tattoos and piercing and dares to refuse to vote republican.

We’re just trying to make sense of this life- to intellectualize, connecting people, bring some sort of peace and understanding. We love words like “story” and “conversation” and “authenticity” instead of the tired old rhetoric. We understand that Jesus cared about the poor, and in turn we care about them. We see the injustice in the world and our hearts break. So we “raise awareness” through art, music, benefit concerts. We “share the need” and get people to act- because real Jesus followers don’t sit on their butts and soak in a feel good prosperity gospel, that is disgusting.  We poke fun of those conservatives with their fancy cars, and suburban dreams, promising ourselves never to become that.  We like to support local coffee shops. We drink gallons of there coffee and discuss life. We love quoting Ghandi and Mother Theresa, and avoid Christian cliches like the plague. We are the next generation hippies, hipsters with our online communities, our Iphones and coffee shop churches. As hipsters, we are not so defined by what we are, but by what we are not, what we make fun of, what we are running from and rejecting.

But, I am afraid for my peers. I am afraid, in our rejection of  christian culture, we haven’t replaced it with anything else. Or maybe it’s just that what we’ve replaced it with, isn’t enough. Maybe we’ve replaced it with all these trendy, “world changing ideas,” but at the heart of it all, it’s still the same old dead thing- religion. Trying to accomplish something in order to be closer to God.

Social justice is our heartbeat. But is it enough to attempt to bring justice to the world through our actions? Even the phrase justice creates some conflict with the gospel of grace.  Do we really want justice? Do we know what we are asking for? Didn’t Jesus already satisfy justice on the cross? Aren’t we called to be representatives of grace, not only to those innocent kids being trafficked, but the ones doing the trafficking? Does God really want justice for those performing abortions? Where is the standard then, who is under justice, and who is not? There is a danger in categorizing the poor and homeless, instead of seeing them as people, we still see an agenda.

Those starving kids from Africa, there faces are everywhere, reminding us who really God loves, and how we have so much and need to live more simple, but do we see the girl behind the counter of the gas station?

It’s easy to love the drug addicts and despise televangelists, and feel like we are displaying the heart of Jesus, but is this really it?

We are empowered by cute sarcastic words, by abstract poetry, by deep discussions, by anything but the Holy Spirit. Or, like everything else, the Holy Spirit is something to be discussed and contemplated about, but not experienced. Experience is tricky, we don’t want to end up on the side of “freaky pentecostal” side of things, we don’t want to be a flake, this polar opposite of strict religion is just as despised. We don’t want some adrenaline rush, we don’t want out emotions to be manipulated. We learned through high school that emotions always lead you astray. We’ve learned through college that suffering is inevitable, that maybe embracing the darkness, will lead some some sort of light, some kind of healing.

But we long. We long like a thirsty man looking for an oasis. We are told to find balance in all things- and so we believe maybe that’s where happiness is found. Somewhere between the hype and the dogma, the fanatics and the rhetoric, that’s where we fit. That’s where Jesus is. We want meaning as much as a life partner. We want to know why more then we want success.

We question everything. The world is at our finger tips, we can do anything and go anywhere. We can know anything, literally in seconds. Just google it. I am afraid, in all our options, we still don’t have life.

We give selflessly, we go into the world, we create beauty, but do we know God? Even knowing itself has become so redefined, so ordinary, we have become jaded to the word. When information that has been hidden or unknown to most but a few select group of people for all of history, is suddenly available to everyone all the time, how does that re-wire us? Life is to know God, but do we know Him more like a facebook friend and less like a lover?

But how do you know God? Surely, it’s not the step by step formulaic religion we swallowed growing up in the church! We seek Him in the eyes of the poor, in giving of ourselves, in community, in creating something beautiful. And we do find parts of Him, we find His traces. Maybe that is enough, we decide.

Maybe our longing and depression is one of the colors of we dip our paintbrush in, to produce a painting of how we make sense of this life. Heartbreak is another.

The concept of grace is thrown in, a splattering of brightness on the emerging canvas, but it is just that- a concept.

We do love God. We are passionate for things to be made right. In our lives, our communities, our world. So we start causes, we try to make the gospel relevant, we tell stories, because that’s what Jesus did, right? We do this despite the tiredness that haunts our eyes. We fear deep down we are becoming our parents, burnt out and defeated, despite our youthful energy, despite all our promises to ourselves and to God.

We feel His unconditional love in these moments, but a gaping gash still remains in our souls. We’ve rejected religion, and replaced it with simplicity- but I am afraid we are still being fed instruction- “Here’s what you do – just love God and love people,” yet we can hardly love ourselves.

So, we’re left trying to solve world hunger, while our spiritual bellies groan for something more then a spoonful of processed grace.


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