Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It Is Not Good for Man to Be Alone

I was having a conversation the other day with an individual in the Church whom I respect and admire. We were discussing my status in relation to the Church. I expressed my profound desire to be a member of the Church. I talked about my testimony, how I know that the Church is true, and how I am blessed by that knowledge.

In fact, prior to having this conversation, I had experienced a renewal of my testimony in sacrament meeting. I had been attending church with my friend Mary, who was baptized in January of last year. And throughout the meeting, and as I listened to talks on the subject of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt the Spirit sweetly present. But it was more than just a feeling of perfect peace and joy and anticipation. I had the experience I've had on occasion which is actually sort of indescribable, but can best be described as an experience of light. And the Spirit was there reminding me that the Church is true, God is real, and there is a light and a truth and a power beyond any we can imagine, guiding us in the strait path, and waiting to receive us if we stay in it. And the Spirit was also calming my doubts, and reassuring me that I am in that path, that I need only be patient and carry on.

I told this friend with whom I was conversing of my profound gratitude for my testimony. I told him I regard my testimony as my greatest gift. But after my testimony, the second greatest gift in my life, a gift that is as much from God as my testimony, is my relationship with my husband.

I have also recently, experienced a renewal in my relationship with my husband. I realize that my relationship with my husband is much like my testimony, in that both require nurture and renewal. My testimony represents my relationship with God, in much the same way as my wedding ring and other tokens like the marriage certificate hanging on our bedroom wall represent my relationship with my husband. Göran and I have been working in the past month or so on some aspects of our relationship that needed improving. It's easy for our behavior in our significant relationships to get into a rut, for us to take certain things for granted, when in fact we can't do that at all. And in every relationship, we go through periods, as we do in life in general, when sometimes we just slide along with old habits, thinking that is enough. And then we realize it isn't enough, and we need to strive and try to do better. And Göran helped me to realize recently that some striving was necessary. And as I've made efforts, there's been a renewal of affection and closeness and happiness in our relationship. It's renewed my "testimony" of my relationship, if it's possible to think of it in those terms. I realize that there is a richness and a goodness in my relationship with Göran that is life-giving and sustaining and that God intends for me and Göran. This relationship is a vehicle through which God gives both of us, his sons, blessings that he intends and wants for us.

I explained to the friend with whom I was conversing that I understood the apparent contradiction between these two things -- these two gifts, these two testimonies. I understood that in relation to the yearning I had expressed to be a member of the Church, there were only two possible paths forward, two possible ways for me to become a member of the Church. One would be that I outlive my husband long enough to be readmitted to the Church as a celibate, single person. The second would be that the Church receives a revelation enabling a transformed understanding of gay and lesbian people and our place and role in the family of our Heavenly Father.

This friend acknowledged that such a revelation was possible, but he felt it was extremely unlikely. I could tell by the way he made that statement that he truly could not conceive of a scenario in which the Church would acknowledge and bless a relationship like the relationship between me and my husband. But I also realized that this individual thought of gay and lesbian relationships primarily in sexual terms, as a sort of giving in to sexual temptation. He doesn't have the experience I have of a relationship that is multidimensional, that is about companionship, intimacy, growth, learning and sacrifice. There is a biblical term that perfectly describes what Göran and I are to each other: help meet. There is a biblical principle that explains why, after much soul-searching, I realized that it was not just unnecessary but wrong for me to be required to go through life single. It is not good that man should be alone.

We should not be alone in any sense of that word. We should not be excluded from the communion, from the loving embrace of the Church. When the Church excludes, it fails in the purpose for which God created it. If we have a desire to build the Church and Kingdom of God, we are called to join. And the only question the Church has to ask at that point is: "See, here is water, what doth hinder... to be baptized?" (Acts 8: 36) Nor should we be excluded from the blessings of family, of intimate connection and relationship that are the core of family. Family, with its joys and sorrows, its celebrations and struggles, with all the work and growth it requires of us, goes hand in glove with the communion we are all meant to experience as members of the Church. No one in the Church sees the slightest contradiction between their commitment to their families and their commitment to the Church. The two reinforce each other. They work together.

And that's how I see it too, with my family.

I realize, after six years of "living the gospel," that there is no contradiction. I experience no contradiction. There is perfect, mutually reinforcing harmony between my faith, my love for God, my hope, my love for my partner. It's all the rest of you out there who think there's a problem. You who think I should quit the Church because it has no place for me; you who think I should quit my partner because the Church has no place for us. But that's your problem. It's not my experience.

I love and respect and am grateful for this friend of mine in the Church. We prayed together, and he used his priesthood power to lay his hands on my head and bless me. And I literally could feel the power of the priesthood as he laid his hands on my head, and I wept. So understand my love and my respect.

I think he could not imagine a Church in which my relationship with my husband would be blessed, partly because -- for all his goodness -- he simply doesn't understand my relationship. He thinks of it in terms of sexual temptation. He doesn't understand yet that the sexual aspect of my relationship with Göran is not unlike the sexual aspect of his relationship with his wife, i.e., one element in a multidimensional relationship that plays an important role in a much bigger picture.

In the Church people use the term "same-sex attraction." Usually that really annoys me, because it typically gets used in a way that implies that in relationships like mine, there's nothing but sexual attraction. That distortion of my relationship in that way is necessary to justify the extreme rejection and exclusion of gay relationships. But the principle of attraction -- of sexual attraction -- is a divine principle. I think the idea of sexual attraction is perfectly described by the biblical phrase one flesh. Attraction draws together what God intends to be together. It unifies what was once separated. There's a reason God put this yearning deep inside of us, and made it so powerful that it is, over the long haul, almost impossible to resist. Because without the laws of attraction, there would be only centripetal forces pushing us apart into our own separate, selfish worlds. God needed there to be a centrifugal force drawing us back together, keeping us in tension between our own selfish needs and desires and our hunger for oneness. Out of this tension is born the struggle and growth and miracle of family. It is our attraction that keeps us coming back and trying again, even when things get tough, even when we fail.

I think if we reflect on the reality of relationships like that between me and my husband Göran, it becomes harder and harder to think of such a relationship as at odds with the Gospel. The illusion of irreconcilable contradiction -- along with the assumption of the need for exclusion -- becomes harder and harder to sustain.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dialogues II

Last night was my third session volunteering at Minnesotans United for All Families talking to people on the phone about the proposed amendment that would ban me and my husband from being legally married in our own state.

It was a rough night. A lot of folks I spoke to were gruff and impatient. One guy I spoke to engaged in an extended rant about how the fact that individuals of the same sex wanting to be in committed relationships disgusted him. I asked him if he knew any gay people, and he said he had nieces and nephews who were gay. I asked him if he had ever spoken to them about this issue and he said he hadn't and he didn't want to. I said, "It sounds like you think people choose to be gay." He said he didn't know, and he didn't want to know, and he didn't care to discuss it. I told him I was gay, and I told him about my relationship of 18 years with my husband, and I told him that all I hoped for was the same thing anybody hopes for: love, respect, and law that protects my family on the same basis that it protects anybody else's. I suppose the fact that I had been willing to listen to his views opened him up to listen to mine with patience. (And I acknowledge it took patience on his part!) I thanked him for taking the time to talk, and we ended the discussion amicably. Still, his harsh words had taken a toll on me. There were quite a few other conversations like that, many where I was hung up on after even harsher words. And by the end of the night, I was exhausted!

After the phone sessions, we reconvened as a group and debriefed. "This was a rough night for me," I confessed to the group. Fortunately, every night has not been like that one, and I don't anticipate most future nights will be either. "Still," I told the group, "I'm glad we're doing this. I feel very good."

I am glad that in this campaign we are focusing on the substantive issue of gay folks and their families. The question is whether or not to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay and lesbian couples from getting married. Marriage is already prohibited for gay and lesbian couples in Minnesota, which passed a "Defense of Marriage Act" in 1997 -- shortly after my husband and I decided to buy our house together. Passage or failure of this amendment will have no immediate impact on my legal rights. And the campaign could have chosen to focus on legalistic finery such as whether we really need an amendment to ban something that's already illegal.

Instead we are talking about marriage, and what it really means. When I ask people, "What does marriage mean to you?" They talk about things like "commitment." In fact, "commitment" is probably the number one response I get from people when I ask that question -- regardless of their attitude toward gay and lesbian people or their personal experience with marriage. That gives me a chance to talk about the fact that that's what marriage means to me too. This isn't about "changing" marriage.

When I ask people why they object to the idea of gay people getting married, the two most frequent responses are they believe homosexuality is unnatural, or they believe their religion is opposed to it. Of course there is nothing unnatural about me or the love I share with my husband. And I believe that if people search deep within their hearts they will realize that their religion demands treating others like they themselves would like to be treated. And I don't think any of the people I've spoken with -- even the ones who have told me stories about unhappy marriages and divorces -- would like an amendment to the constitution banning their marriages.

My religion taught me that if I lacked wisdom, that I should ask God, and God would "give liberally" and "not upbraid" for asking. (Yes, my religion -- and the Epistle of James, chapter 1, verse 5 -- teaches me that God is that kind of loving, generous being!) And the things that people in my Church said and taught about homosexuality just never seemed to actually make sense in light of my experience of my own homosexuality. That disconnect, that contradiction, seemed enough of a problem, enough of a "lack of wisdom" to permit me to seek greater light and knowledge from God himself -- from the person who made me, who knows my inmost parts, who understands me completely and who loves me unconditionally.

I have witnessed a similar journey on the part of my fellow Latter-day Saints. Those who have known me and loved me have recognized that the pat teachings, the packaged answers about what homosexuality was supposed to be didn't jive with what they knew it actually was in the lives of real people. In my life.

I think ultimately, at its best, religion doesn't ever give us packaged answers to life's difficult questions. Rather, it gives us a set of tools to wrestle with those questions ourselves and to find answers that make sense in the light of Love. And I believe that Saints who avail themselves of those tools will be surprised by what they learn.

Last night was difficult. But I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. And I will go back again and again and keep making those phone calls. And I encourage others to get involved, to do what I did. Because as difficult and as painful as this situation is for many of us -- and I acknowledge it is difficult and painful for people on both sides of this political question, this constitutional amendment -- this situation is a gift. It is a gift to every single one of us, because it gives us an opportunity to learn lessons about the nature of love, the nature of justice, and the nature of brotherhood and sisterhood. Regardless of how the vote ultimately goes, this particular challenge, this issue in this place and in this time is our chance to learn about the depth and breadth of God's love for us all, his children, and how we each need to work to manifest that love.

That we may come into an ever deeper understanding of that love is my prayer each and every time I pick up the phone to have one more conversation about a difficult topic. It may be difficult, but this is a conversation we need to have.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Learning from My Cat

My cat, Tabitha, is probably dying of cancer.

We don't know for sure. She has some tumors growing on various parts of her body, and when the vet examined a sample under the microscope, she confirmed that they looked cancerous. Tabitha has lost her appetite, and we're only able to keep her eating by giving her appetite stimulants. Blood tests have ruled out non-cancer-related causes of appetite loss (such as thyroid dysfunction). Thousands of dollars more of testing would reveal exactly what the problem is. But the vet tells us that, at this point, it is most likely cancer, that the likelihood of a cure is slim to none, and that treatment would be costly without necessarily extending or improving her life. So we're just watching and waiting, doing what we can to keep her fed and making sure she's not in any pain.

This is really hard for me. We've had Tabitha for 17 years. She's always been "my" cat. I work at home, and a good part of every day, she sits purring on my lap while I work at the computer. (She's there now, purring away!) I can't really think too much about her not being with me any more.

Anyone who has lived in close quarters with an animal knows how incredibly intelligent they are. It's actually impossible for me anymore to think of animals as having an intelligence that is different in quality from the intelligence human beings have. Our cats definitely have reasoning, problem-solving intelligence. They are able to communicate very effectively with us, letting us know what they want, and finding ways to get what they want even if we don't want to give it to them! They are emotionally intelligent too. They have complex emotions and they express them.

As Tabitha's health has declined, she has sometimes looked at me in a very unusual way, as if to ask, "What's wrong with me?" I know people will say I'm projecting my emotions on her. But if you've lived with cats as long as I have, you know that they have many different, very expressive facial expressions. I can tell when she's mad about something. I can tell when she's content. But this facial expression is something much different. Perplexity.

Our other cat, Cleopatra, died of cancer about six years ago. When Cleo got sick, she pulled away. She would go hide in the basement. (Except the last night that she was alive. She sat down next to me on the couch and let me pet her all evening... Something she rarely did when she was well.) But just as people respond to the same kinds of adversity in very different ways, so do cats. As Tabitha has gotten ill, she's turned to me for comfort. She wants to sit in my lap more often, and when she sits there, she purrs louder. It's as if she's saying, all she wants from life at this point is to feel close to me.

One of the symptoms she's exhibited is frequent coughing. The coughs produce nothing -- no food or vomit or hairballs. Just a long, dry cough. It's painful for me to listen to. This morning, Tabitha had a fit of coughing, and then afterwards, she hopped back up into my lap and started purring again. And it was then I learned that she has a quality I really admire: patience. When I have to be away, she just waits for me in the chair where I work. She is able to experience pain or discomfort as a passing thing, and once it's past, she lets it go. I need to learn to do that better.

She also loves unconditionally. I need to learn to do that better too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I volunteered last night with a number of other folks for a very unique assignment. Those of us volunteering were gay and straight -- probably half of the group were straight people and half gay. We were men and women and there was a transgender person present. There were retirees and young students, and all ages in between. We had gathered at the offices of Minnesotans United for All Families. And our assignment was to call perfect strangers on the phone, and just talk to them about gay people, and about marriage.

Before the phone calls started, there was some discussion of what we would be doing. We were told that our assignment was mostly to listen and to learn. We were to ask questions. We were encouraged to share parts of our own story, mostly if it would help people to open up and talk. But the goal of the evening was just that -- talk. Dialogue.

We began by describing the constitutional amendment that would be on the ballot this November. We asked people about their views on same-sex marriage. We asked them about their feelings about marriage in general. We asked them about their experience with gay people and gay relationships. And we shared our experiences.

At the beginning of the evening, I confess I was nervous. The thought of having such intimate conversations with perfect strangers seemed very intimidating. By the end of the evening, after having had some incredible conversations, I was very encouraged. And eager to do it again!

My longest conversation of the evening was with a woman who stated at the outset that she opposed same-sex marriage. She also made it very clear that she felt some sort of legal recognition for same-sex relationships ought to be guaranteed. She just didn't think marriage. She talked somewhat about her religious convictions as a Catholic. She asked me if I was religious, and I told her I was. A Mormon. And I talked about my church's beliefs about marriage. But I also spoke about the devout Mormon members of my family, and of their support for me and my relationship. She told me about her marriage of many years to a wonderful husband. I and talked to her about my relationship of 18 years with my husband. There were some wonderful, beautiful moments in this conversation, where I felt a real connection with her, and she seemed to connect with me. At the end of our conversation, she reaffirmed her opposition to same-sex marriage, though she also reaffirmed her support for some kind of legal recognition. (It just wasn't clear what!) But I felt I had made a new friend. (Though we will probably never talk to each other again... In this life time at least.)

I also talked to a man who was retired and who had served many years as a scout master and leader in the Boy Scout movement. He was emphatic in his support for full equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. He was unequivocal. This was a right that everybody should have regardless of sexual orientation. It was just a matter of plain fairness. I asked a few questions to learn more about the nature of his support, and was amazed by his compassion and the depth of his commitment. I shared some of my situation, and thanked him from the bottom of my heart. He said he and his wife were both supportive of my situation, and would do what they could to encourage others to support us in the polls. I believed he would be an active and strong advocate, and I was deeply grateful.

Yes, there were a number of folks who were unwilling to talk about this subject. They let me know, and we ended the conversation politely. Even those (very short!) conversations were reassuring to me. It's OK. We can approach one another and seek to open up a dialogue, and it's not the end of the world if we don't dialogue. Nothing is lost. But so much is gained when are willing to be a bit vulnerable and approach people, and when people respond by being willing to open up and talk with us.

One of the things that was so powerful about this for me was the sense that I was participating as an active member in a polity, as a citizen. I was doing what a citizen should do, when faced with an important political decision. I was talking to other citizens. Dialoguing, deliberating, discussing. This is what citizens in a democracy are supposed to do. This is a powerful thing.

It was a powerful thing to learn that we can talk. And that we can -- even across differences -- listen to each other and even bond with each other.

If you live in Minnesota, I strongly encourage you to volunteer, to get involved. You can go right to the Minnesotans United web site and volunteer through there. Or contact me by email, on my blog, or through Facebook, and I'll tell you more. Come join me -- we can go together.

Whether or not you do what I did last night, I encourage you to have conversations of your own in coming months. We need thousands of such conversations in coming months, if people are to fully understand what's at stake in this vote.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why Even of Yourselves Judge Ye Not What Is Right?

I've been reading the New Testament lately. This time (this is something like my dozenth time reading it through from beginning to end) I've decided to read the gospels in order of composition -- at least, in so far as the scholars are able to discern order of composition. So I started with the Gospel of Mark, then moved to Matthew. I'm in Luke right now and then will move on to John. I'm also supplementing my reading of the four canonical gospels with other extra-canonical texts, like the Gospel of Thomas, the Secret Book of James, Dialogue of the Savior, the Gospel of Mary, etc. There's a book out, edited by Robert J. Miller, entitled The Complete Gospels that has a lot of these references together under one cover. This book includes a reconstruction of the so-called "Q" Gospel based on an analysis of the gospels of Matthew and Luke, and the so-called "Signs" Gospel based on a careful reading of the Gospel of John. Whether or not all of the assumptions these scholars made in creating these "reconstructed" gospels are correct or not, they make fascinating reading and are definitely useful.

The Complete Gospels provide new translations of the four canonical gospels, with footnotes that draw readers' attention to divergences between different available texts, highlight translation problems and provide historical or cultural context. The translation, the "Annotated Scholars Version," also represents an attempt to translate the gospels into idiomatic American English. So, for example, in Luke 12:59, what is translated in King James as "till thou hast paid the very last mite" is translated in the ASV as "until you've paid every last red cent." Despite having lost the solemn cadences of the King James version, this translation isn't obnoxious like the "Good News" translation, which sounds like a 1970s hippy version of the Bible. (Yuck! I can't bear that version.) The goal of the ASV translators was to tip off the readers when the original Greek is more edgy or colloquial (as it tends to be in the Gospel of Mark) or more eloquent and formal (as it tends to be in the Gospel of John), and it more or less works.

If you grew up like me never reading anything but King James, I highly recommend trying different translations, if only because I've found that it breaks me out of certain mental ruts. Sometimes a different translation of a familiar phrase will help me to see things I've never noticed before. Reading the ASV, there have been numerous occasions when I've been startled by a particular verse. I've found myself asking, "Does it really say that in the Bible?" I'll check it against the King James, and sure enough, it says that. But I'd never noticed it before, probably because I'd become so accustomed to reading the text in a certain way: to see certain words or phrases and ignore others. To see the text the way I'd been trained to see it. And the new translation bumped me out of the rut, and helped me to see words, phrases and meanings I'd never seen before, even having read it a dozen times.


I experienced an example of this earlier today, in my study of Luke chapter 12. In verse 57, I found these startling words tumbling from the lips of Jesus, as he taught a rather unruly crowd on his way to Jerusalem:

Why can't you decide for yourselves what is right?

Say what?? That sounded like Jesus had just scolded the people for not thinking for themselves. And that didn't sound like anything I'd ever read in the Bible before.

So, as usual when I've stumbled across an odd turn of phrase in my ASV, I cracked open my King James to see what the seventeenth-century translators had made of this verse. (And to compare the ASV with the words I'd accustomed myself to reading!) I've used the KJV translation as the title of this post: "Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?" Sure enough, that sounds like Elizabethan English for "Why can't you think for yourselves?"

So the next question is, How can I have missed this every single other of the dozen or so times I've read the New Testament cover-to-cover?

When I examined it in context, it became obvious to me. This verse immediately precedes the following, which I'll quote in its entirety:

When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite. (vs. 58-59)

Now, I've always read this passage rather literally. I'd always assumed that Jesus was here advising people to settle their disputes out of court. This passage had always sounded to me very similar to the Apostle Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 6: 1-8 that members of the Church should not sue each other. It also sounded to me something like Christ's teaching in 3 Nephi that "he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil" (3 Nephi 11:29). I'd become so accustomed to reading these verses in that light, that my brain had more or less gone on auto-pilot as I approached the end of Luke chapter 12. I skipped right over the statement in verse 57, assuming that I already knew the moral of this story. It was the ASV that -- by throwing Jesus' words at me in a slightly different way -- had helped me to see what verse 57 actually said on its own merit, and in turn, to see the verses following in a dramatically different light.

Now, there's another curious verse earlier in this same chapter which should have prepared me to read verse 57 differently. It's a verse that has always somewhat troubled and annoyed me. It's the part in verses 13-15, where a man comes to Jesus and says, "Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." Jesus' response: "Who made me a judge or a divider over you?"

Now, this sounds very similar to what Jesus says in verse 57. Essentially, Jesus is saying to this man, You need to learn to solve your own problems.

Jesus doesn't leave him entirely without advice. He follows his retort with an admonition about the dangers of covetousness -- of materialism. He drives the point home through the parable of the rich man who built a bigger barn, and thought he could now rest easy because of all his material possessions. "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" (v. 20). And the moral: "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (v. 21).

Now this is a powerful moral... And, again, that's what I'd always focused on in reading this section of this chapter of Luke. Those words "Who made me a judge or a divider over you?" always troubled me, because it ran contrary to the conventional view of Jesus among Christians. Most Christians believe that Christ is the ultimate judge of all of us. Wouldn't it be legitimate to turn to the Divine Judge incarnate in search of justice? Yet, here Jesus begins his teaching with the quip, You need to learn to solve your own problems.

So the discussion at the end of the chapter about settling with your adversary in the way before he takes you to the judge, I realized, is actually a kind of parable. Like all of Jesus' parables, it functions at multiple layers of meaning. On the one hand, this is indeed a teaching against covetousness, materialism, and contention. It is indeed a warning that if we can't find a higher road in the conflicts that naturally arise between us, the end result can be ugly. We can lose, and big time, when we fight each other rather than learn to make peace with each other. But, I also for the first time saw a different layer of meaning here.

This is actually also a parable about the dangers of surrendering one's personal moral judgment to an external authority. Jesus begins the teaching with an explicit statement: Why can't you learn to think for yourselves? The discussion of settlements and judges is actually a parable through which Jesus says, in essence, when you surrender moral judgment to an external authority, you become a prisoner. And you won't get out of prison till you've paid the very last mite (or as the ASV puts it, "every last red cent"). This is about the cost of regaining one's moral bearings, once one has surrendered one's judgment.

This runs so deeply contrary to the conventional image of God, in which we imagine that God despises independent thought. Here we see a Jesus who, twice in one chapter, demands that we solve our own problems and think for ourselves.

For Mormons, this shouldn't be shocking. We have a wealth of scripture that provides a corrective image of God; an image in which the central bone of contention between God and Satan hinges on the whole question of human agency. Satan was cast out because God insisted on a plan governed by human freedom. A plan in which we learn to grow and develop and think for ourselves.

There's a difference, of course, between thinking for ourselves and thinking only of ourselves. And it's precisely in this direction that Jesus points, when he accompanies admonitions to be independent with admonitions against contention and against materialism. The true way to spiritual maturity and independence is a way of putting others first, of accepting responsibility, of taking up one's cross. Luke 12 also contains a very interesting discussion in which Jesus acknowledges the difficulty of this way, when he says:

I have a baptism to be baptized with: and how I am straitened till it be accomplished! (v. 50)

(Compare with the ASV translation that puts it a bit more plainly: "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and what pressure I'm under until it's over!")

If Jesus was showing us the way forward into spiritual maturity, then this quote -- which might under other circumstances sound self-indulgent -- is his way of saying, This isn't easy.

But the way forward, if we take it, is a way of trust. That's what all these verses in this same chapter about sparrows and lilies of the field are all about. Jesus wants us to learn to judge for ourselves, to strive for moral discernment. But that doesn't mean we don't need to learn to trust in God in some very ultimate sense. In fact, the only way is to trust completely in God as provider. In other words to let go. That's the definition of faith.