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As much as I love this story about the Marine who gave up his chance to compete with his friends to help a kid, I think we’re overlooking the story about the kid who was willing to ask for help.

“Sir, will you run with me?”

How many of us would have asked?

I think we Christians often fail to ask, even though we are asking our most almighty God when we pray.  We forget that He wants to help us.  We forget that we are worthy of His help.  We forget that we deserve to have someone running at our side.

I admire the Marine for helping the little guy out.  But I also admire the little guy who was willing to admit he was lost and alone, who was willing to ask for help.

God is waiting to run with you.  It’s okay to ask.

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The girls wanted to know what to look for in a boyfriend.  The boys wanted to know when the time is right to ask a girl out.  But one dad at my lunch table told us that the gender-specific classes weren’t reaching every attendee.  Because they weren’t reaching the gay kids.

I spent the Memorial Day weekend at Washington Family Ranch, a Young Life camp in central Oregon.  As an “adult guest,” I had no duties and treated the opportunity as a private getaway.  I attended a few of the scheduled sessions.  I listened to my daughter speak about repentance.  I attended worship.  I wish I’d gone to more.  Specifically, I wish I’d gone to the sessions for “girls” and “boys.”

Instead, I sat in the sunshine writing and reading.  I heard about the sessions later, at lunch with the other adult guests, and regretted missing it.  I could tell those girls a few things.  They had questions about topics other than dating and boys—you know they spent some time asking where a girl can find a prom dress that doesn’t reveal half an acre of breast flesh—but dating was definitely the main subject.

The words of that dad got my attention.

He knew something was different about his daughter.  But he didn’t know anything about homosexuality, and had no idea how to give her guidance.  Now that she’s out and in a long-term relationship, he knows that she got most of her advice and support during her teen years from a high school teacher who may or may not have also initiated his daughter’s first sexual relationship.

Half of the people at our lunch table fell silent and stared at their plates, suddenly fascinated with the appearance of their lunch.  Two of us engaged with him to ask about his daughter and her journey.  I knew I wouldn’t like it if one of my children got advice about dating and his or her innermost feelings from a teacher at school.

We asked him how he felt the camp could reach out to gay teens.  He didn’t have an answer for that.  We didn’t either.  But I can understand that a Christian parent would appreciate it if kids like his daughter had the opportunity to be able to ask their questions, too.  He’d like it if kids like his daughter were told they are God’s masterpiece, and that they deserve respect, affection, and care regardless of their sexuality.

This is a topic I explored when I wrote Steadfast.  What was it like for a young Catholic man to come out to his family?  How would they respond to the news?  What about the young man’s friends?  Would they stick around or abandon him?  And what if he was also dying of the AIDS virus?

At no time did this dad talk about whether he approved or didn’t approve of his daughter’s sexuality.  That wasn’t his point.  He just wanted kids like his daughter to have a place to ask those embarrassing questions, preferably in a setting that honored their faith in God.

It’s hard to argue with that.

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Art: What Would Jesus Do?

Today’s Daily Prompt poses a challenging question:  Do you need to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?

Whoo boy.

You noticed, of course, that I’m a Christian writer.  As a Christian, I often choose to listen to music by Christian artists.  I often choose to read books that help me develop in my faith.  I frequent blogs with Christian content.  All this I do on purpose, because having faith means more than having once been sprinkled with holy water.

And yes, I’ve had my doubts about secular artists.  For a time I particularly enjoyed a performer who made frequent drug references in his music.  They made me squirm.  As I watched the scene of a lovely spring day in Poland become a horrific nightmare, I admired Roman Polanski’s artistry while despising his behavior.  I sometimes find humor in the work of Alec Baldwin, yet I hope to never meet him.

These doubts sometimes make me wonder if I should allow my entertainment dollars to go to people with views that don’t match mine.  I don’t want to support anyone who leaves long and abusive phone messages for a daughter.  I think Roman Polanski should feel our outrage and disdain.  And I like the idea of giving my money to Christian artists.

But it’s just not right.

I live in the real world.

I interact with people in the real world.

If I limit myself to the ideas and the art of only those who agree with me, I’ll never learn anything.  I’ll become stagnant, hidebound.  But when I examine art that challenges my world view, I have the opportunity to grow.

I felt the same way as my children grew up about content that might be “too adult” for them.  On a few occasions I chose to shield them from content I felt would frighten them or confuse them.  But on far more occasions, my husband and I chose to watch the television show or movie with them, and then talk about what they saw and what we saw.  I’m glad we did this.  Often, we learned that our children viewed the world much the same way we did.  We learned that they had interesting, thoughtful questions.  They, in turn, appreciated that we valued their opinions.  (I confess, both kids learned exactly what to say whenever I grabbed the remote to hit the pause button.  “I know, Mom,” they would say.  And then they’d mimic my views on the subject at hand.)

It’s also how Jesus lived his life.  As a man with new ideas to share, he couldn’t spend his time with the like-minded because at that time, there were no like-minded souls.  Instead he reached out to speak with the sick and dying.  He challenged the religious leaders of his day.  He brought women into his inner circle.  He spoke with people his society considered unclean and unworthy.

So I’ll continue to view art that makes me squeamish.  I’ll read books that challenge my conservative, Christian views.  I’ll watch movies that make me wonder if anyone in Hollywood has ever met anyone outside of Hollywood.

Because it’s the right thing to do.

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He’s an athlete.  He was raised to love Jesus.  And he’s gay.

Today I read an article in Sports Illustrated in which Jason Collins explains why he’s chosen now to come out.  He writes with complete clarity about why he waited until now, and why he doesn’t want to wait any longer.

I admire his courage.  What about you?

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In honor of the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) Day of Silence on April 14, I’m uploading the middle chapters of my book Steadfast, which cover Chris’s return to Spokane and his ordeal with AIDS.

I was originally inspired to write this when I learned that while AIDS is no longer a death sentence, it is still an unpleasant disease.  And the fastest-growing segment of new patients are young gay men.  These young men missed the whole AIDS awareness campaign (remember the red ribbons?) and don’t perceive the disease as dangerous.  They haven’t heard–as we oldsters did–the call for safe sex.  (Or they learned about it in Health class, where teachers share all sorts of ideas about smoking, nutrition, adequate sleep, avoiding drugs, and other things kids tend to tune out.)

I was somewhat frightened about writing this.  My knowledge of gay men is limited to the sweet boyfriends who broke up with me for no apparent reason.  That’s why the story is told in first-person from the perspective of the girl who loves him.

So I’m concerned I’ve gotten any number of details wrong.  Details about young gay men, details about the Catholic Church, details about death and dying.  My research included reading And the Band Played On, one reporter’s chronology of the crisis, the memoir Borrowed Time, and endless amounts of Googling.  Obviously, that’s not scholarly research.   I know that many of you will give me feedback about how to fix my errors.

To end this on a positive note, I was astonished and pleased a few weeks ago by a remark our pastor made in church.  In the years since we’ve attended this church, he’s made very few remarks about homosexuality, and the few he made were anti-gay.  But on this night, he said–quite energetically–that we Christians were wrong in the Eighties.  We were wrong for not immediately stepping in to care for AIDS patients.  I think he’s right about that.

You can learn more about the Day of Silence at http://www.dayofsilence.org/

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Too many posts for one day, I know.

But I’ve been wondering how to address the subject of the Steubenville rape.  How to share my frustrations with the crime, the aftermath, the trial.  How to put the case in context.

Turns out I don’t need to.  Turns out a blogger named Ann Voskamp has done it already.

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/03/after-steubenville-what-our-sons-needs-to-know-about-manhood/

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Steadfast is up!

Time to visit Authonomy.com and show your support for my second book, Steadfast.  This one is about what happens when one of the Monahan boys returns from college suffering with AIDS.

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