By the People (The Misuse of Romans 13:1-7)

The 2016 election was life-changing for many of us. I just read that 14% of Christians left their churches because of it. Many, many things bothered me (infuriated me, perplexed me, crushed me) during the election, but I’m going to try to stick to one topic for this blog.

After the election, I had no fewer than four Christian friends use their Facebook status to tell people not to complain about 45 so much. “We need to come together now,” one of them said. “We need to let him do his job,” another said. “It’s bothering people,” yet another said.

Aside from the fact that I have a HUGE problem with people passive aggressively telling me what to do with my own page, and apart from the fact that I suspect certain people didn’t mind the plastering of anti-Obama memes on Facebook walls, I believe there is a misconception about scripture at play here.

Romans 13:1-7 says:

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

I say “misconception” giving people the benefit of the doubt. Abuse is certainly a more apt word in some people’s cases.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, Nero was in power. (Some scholars believe that Nero was still a decent chap at this point.) There was no vote to put Nero in power; he was simply named emperor by his great uncle, Claudius.

I was raised to follow laws. Unless those laws are obviously against the law of God, I still believe that I should follow the laws of our land. However, if (and this is debatable) not resisting in Nero’s time meant not speaking out, I don’t believe that “those who resist will incur judgement” applies in America the same way it would have in Rome in the year 57.

Our government is by the people. God has given our nation a totally different way of making laws and appointing leaders. Our speech, and that includes social media, is a powerful way to keep our fellow voters informed. I don’t believe there’s any call to roll over for the current administration. We have representatives to call. That’s the system God gave us. We have laws about impeachment. That’s the system God gave us. Every one of us has the power to create new legislation. Pretty great!

I have a feeling that some people think my daily commentary about this administration is divisive. Here’s how I see it. I am shining a light on every lie, every sexist or racist or dangerous deed or comment, in hopes of affecting the 2018 vote in the system that God gave us. If other Christians are opposing me in that task, I say it is them doing the dividing. This person placed by God into authority is indefensible by Christian standards in a way no president has been before him, and we have God-given ways to oppose him. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, I can’t judge you, but if you are actively defending him or passively doing so by telling those of us speaking out to be quiet, I am not the same religion as you.

Let us part ways.

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Vacuuming Saves America

I’m getting resistance fatigue. After Trump spent our Meals on Wheels money on a purposely ineffective bombing in Syria, I remembered my blog series about what is saving America for me. First it was a hug from a stranger, then it was a stranger in a Starfleet Academy shirt paying for my groceries, and last it was young musicians putting on a beautiful concert.

So today I thought, “What’s saving America for me today? What is making the place I live still a place of hope and kindness?” Is it my recent trips to the beach and the redwoods? Maybe, but they also bring up somber thoughts about the current administration’s attack on the environment. Is it the baseball season starting? Almost, but Buster Posey, the best player in baseball, left the game today after taking a fastball to the head.

The thought that came to me made me feel a little silly. My bedroom really needed vacuuming, and gosh darnit, I was going to get that done. Clean up my little space. I felt silly about vacuuming saving America for me today, but there’s good news hidden in that thought.

It was something I could do for myself.

If you suffer from depression, you know that all the things people tell you to do to make yourself feel better don’t necessarily work. “Help someone!” Either you feel incapable, or you do it and don’t feel better. “Take a vacation!” You might not have the opportunity, or your spirits crash as soon as you get back.

I have never been able to lift myself out of depression. I have always looked for the kindness of others or the promises of God to keep me afloat. But today, I wanted to have a vacuumed room, and I got out my vacuum cleaner. Will the floor be covered with dog hair and nail clippings (come on, family, find the freaking garbage can!) in two days? Probably, but for today it’s clean.

This is the part of America where I spend most of my time, and for now, it’s all I have control over. And for now, it’s vacuumed.

Now, about that closet.

 

Why A Day Without A Woman Accomplished Nothing

Yesterday my husband texted me asking if I could take our daughter to piano lessons instead of his taking her. He needed to take one of his school’s instruments to the repair shop. I wrote back that I could, but that it was one of the things I wasn’t supposed to do on “A Day Without a Woman.” He texted back and said “I will figure it out. No worries.”

He respected the day even though he knows that he already appreciates how much women do. So what happened to the tuba? The other band teacher, MY HUSBAND’S FEMALE COWORKER, TOOK IT IN! No, no, no, no no!

This is why A Day Without a Woman accomplished nothing. So many women I knew said that they just could not let the ball drop. Their job was too important. THAT’S THE POINT. Your job IS too important not to be done, and if we don’t show that to the country and the people in charge, and we don’t show them that we won’t continue to work for less money and we won’t stand by and watch our rights be stripped by a man who doesn’t respect women (no matter what he says) and his sycophantic largely male followers, we will lose what progress we’ve made so slowly these last few decades.

Did you know that there are only two women in 45’s cabinet? One is Betsy DeVos, and one is married to Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the senate and a very important person for 45 to have on his side.

And so my husband’s school will have their best, shiniest tuba in the concert tonight. Was it worth it? Could they have found a less shiny tuba to use today? (Yes.) Might the student have understood and played their less shiny tuba in solidarity? (Probably.)

I recognize that not every woman can strike. By all means, if you won’t be able to feed your kids or if you are performing heart surgery, please don’t strike!

But otherwise. Women, we could shut this thing down. We could make the country come to a grinding halt. But we didn’t. Why? 1. Some of us don’t think things are bad enough to protest about. We don’t get executed for having affairs, I guess. And 2. We have an epidemic of codependency. We need to think we can’t be spared for a day.

But that’s the point. The country CAN’T run without us for a day, and next time we have a Day Without a Woman, maybe things will have gotten so bad that more people will realize we need to show the country just how dependent on us they are.

Day 58: Seeking First His Kingdom (61 days of worry-free devotions)

Well, Friends, we’re nearly finished. We have read almost every verse about His kingdom. In our first 57 days together I think I only deviated (significantly) from what I’d written in the book version on two days. Today I do so again. I wrote the book version in 2014, long before the crazy election we just had. Long before I marched. Our worries have changed, but the nature of worry hasn’t changed. The nature of God hasn’t changed. God’s prescription for worry hasn’t changed.

I hope that our voices are heard. I hope that our checks and balances check and balance. But I don’t trust in those things. I trust in God.

That’s what I wanted to say instead of explaining the context of today’s verses. I present them here and trust God’s Spirit to say much more than I ever could about them.

And [Jesus] was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

Mark 9:1

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Matthew 16:28

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is! or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” 

Luke 17:20-21

What kingdom truth will you replace your worries with today?

M.L. Millard

*New American Standard Bible verses used in the book version of this devotional with permission from The Lockman Foundation.

 

 

Guest Blog! Why My Pro-Life Sister Marched in D.C.

This is a guest blog from my big sister. I have long looked up to her as a model Christian, mom, wife, Bible-studier, and person-lover. She’s the real deal. She’s not a blogger, but she puts this into words better than I have because what’s in her heart is pure and based on absolute devotion to God and His word. Thank you so much, Becky, for letting me share this. 

Tonight I travel home from the women’s march in Washington DC. I wanted to process so many thoughts and emotions before I put it out there in writing but I finally realized I just need to begin. It will have to come in chapters as it is a bit overwhelming.

First of all I have a lot of friends who won’t understand that I went, so I will begin there. I love Jesus. This is what informs me. I happen to know that he values each and every human being more than he values his own life, his own purity, his own safety, or position. He is not afraid to love anyone. That people would receive a message different than that from the church this election cycle absolutely breaks my heart. I needed to represent what I know is true.

Second, I love living in this free country of mine and respect the office of the president so deeply that I cannot accept certain things quietly. I cannot accept that we did not disqualify a man who boasted about sexually assaulting women and then gave the “boys will be boys” brush off to “explain.” It literally hurts my heart. Women, you are more valuable than this. You matter. You deserve protecting. You deserve justice. My friends with disabilities, you know you are my favorites. Making fun of you and brushing it off by saying something like “I do that whenever someone I’m talking to someone who doesn’t know what to say,” is not okay. You are more valuable than that. You matter. You deserve to be treated with respect. You men and women of color, senators and single moms, you who sell stocks and you who sell cds on the street corner, you deserve to raise your kids without having to teach them how to survive the police. You are more valuable than this. Your lives matter. Mexican people who have come into California illegally, I have seen how hard you work in the fields picking food that most of the US eats. I know farmers who have had to leave produce in the fields because the workers were too few. We need you and we need to value you enough to give you a less dangerous and costly way to come. You are valuable. You matter. Muslim Americans, I am sorry that we have , as we did with Japanese Americans during WWII, let fear overtake love. Love, as I know him, is fearless. If the threat of a registry arises again, we will fight it. Registering people according to their religion is out of a play book we don’t want any part of. You are more valuable than that. You matter. You are our neighbors. People who feel threatened because of your identity, you should never ever experience violence or abuse, or fear to let yourself be seen. You deserve to know peace. You deserve to live in freedom. You are valuable. You matter.

I know what some of you are saying- “What about the babies?!” Yes I am pro-life. I spent years volunteering to offer women help, information, options. I hate abortion as I also see it as another kind of assault on women. I now think that reversing Roe V. Wade is trying to put the genie back in the bottle. If you truly care about the issue, more than the law, I think we can better reduce abortions by (returning to my first point) fighting rape and abuse, making sure women make equal pay for equal work can afford healthcare, etc. Reduce the need. I will stop there for now. Too long already. I marched for the people I care about. All of them.

Reclaiming 2016

I’ve noticed that when people on social media are excited about some wise meme, I usually think (and sometimes say) “It’s not that great.” And when they are fuming about something, I usually think, “It’s not that big of a deal.”

That is, until the election. I was one of the people saying that while in the big picture everything is okay “because God,” for our nation right now things are absolutely the worst. Not because God can’t save us, but because more people voted for racism and sexism than I wanted to believe.

When my friends who voted for Trump said that everything would be okay, I wanted to unfriend them, hard, across the face. “It’s not that big of a deal,” they said as I had once said about Starbucks cups.

And I’m still planning to speak out and wear this shirt,

but I think it’s also important to note that, despite losing Harper Lee and Richard Adams and David Bowie and Carrie Fisher (sorry if I left your favorite off my list—it could go on forever) 2016 does not need to be categorically denounced.

I had some unbelievably blessed moments, and so did you. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge them now. I’ll go first. 

In the spring, I got to chaperone my husband’s high school band on their field trip to Disneyland, and our kid is in the band. My new job helped us pay for it. I saw Shakespeare performed live. I went to a San Francisco Giants game. My kid had a great birthday party. I started a jazz band for high school girls.

In the summer, I went to my niece’s high school graduation and we spent a wonderful day at the ocean paddleboarding and evening playing games. I got to read parts of Anaheim Tales with other authors at our local bookstore. My kid chose to get baptized. I went to a rally at the state capitol, and the governor signed the bill to end the statute of limitations for rape.

In the fall, I performed in my first musical. I am cowardly lion! Hear me roar! I had an actual, real, birthday party.

I watched my kid perform music all year. I got to go to the best music hall in the western United States. I grew closer with my spouse. I got to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and go to the beach whenever I wanted. I was healthy.

2016, I will not tell you to kiss my a– or whatever everyone is saying. Certain moments that you gave us brought me to tears, and Carrie Fisher and Richard Adams on the tails of the election seemed especially cruel, but thank you for the beauty. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the place I live and the family and friends I’ve shared this place with for one more year.

Your turn.