Saturday Random Song: Avalon, “Testify to Love”

Ten years ago, during the time of personal crisis that led to my conversion, I used to listen to the WOW 1999 album over and over. (WOW is a CD series that compiles the year’s best contemporary Christian and gospel music.) Avalon’s “Testify to Love” was one of my very favorites. It still brings me joy today.

[Verse 1:]
All the colors
of the rainbow
All the voices of the wind
Every dream
that reaches out
That reaches out to find
where love begins
Every word of every story
Every star in every sky (in every sky)
Every corner of creation
lives to testify

For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love
I’ll be a witness in the silences
When words are not enough
With every breath I take
I will give thanks to God above
For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love

[Verse 2:]
From the mountains to the valleys
From the rivers to the seas (rivers to the seas)
Every hand that reaches out
Every hand that reaches out
to offer peace (give peace a chance)
Every simple act of mercy
Every step to kingdom come (to kingdom come)
All the hope in every heart will
Speak what love has done
(Repeat Chorus)

[Bridge 1:]
Colors of the rainbow
Voices of the wind
Dream that reaches out
Where love Begins
Word of every story
Star of every sky
Corner of creation

[Bridge 2:]
Mountains to the valleys
Rivers to the seas
Hand that reaches out
To offer peace
Simple act of mercy
Step to kingdom come
Every heart will speak
What love has done

[Repeat Bridge 1]

[This is the 2nd chorus]
(For as long as I shall live, I’ll testify, testify
All my life, I’ll testify)For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love
I’ll be a witness in the silences
When words are not enough
(Every breath I take, give thanks and testify, testify)
With every breath I take
I will give thanks to God above
For as long as I shall live
I will testify

[Repeat Chorus]
[Repeat 2nd chorus]

[End: Sung along with the added parts in 2nd chorus]
Testify Your way
Testify Your truth
Testify Your life
Your love and mercy
(Repeat End)

Lyrics courtesy of

Kelcey Parker: “Lent”

This wise and affecting story from Image Journal explores how love sometimes manifests itself through the least obvious choices:

LENT SHOULD BE in the summer that she might make use of the hotel pool, bandaged up outside like an open wound. She never had a pool. She had a cat but her cat is dead. Buried in leftover snow behind the garage until the ground softens. It would be nice to swim in a pool. But then she remembers: I am Jesus in the desert! No swimming allowed.

I am giving you up, she told her family. For Lent.

What was hers anymore that she could give up? That no one else could use without permission, take without asking, even wear, now that the oldest was a teen and her size? Answer: the cat. The found feral cat from college, from before all of them and during all of them, tucked into the right angle of her armpit every night. But after they started arriving every couple of years, the cat (may she rest in peace) was no longer her greatest joy. They were.
You are my greatest joy, she said. And so, she addressed the question marks around the dinner table, you see what a sacrifice this is.

Of course they didn’t believe her. They never really knew how to read her. She complained of being an old lady one day and ran around making snow angels the next. She occasionally referred to them jokingly as parasites, but cried every time she read The Giving Tree. This Lent thing was obviously a joke. Except it wasn’t. She’d been doing research, Googling “Lent,” Googling “lenten sacrifice,” Googling “hotel reservations.” Here, she said, producing a receipt. She’d printed it off of Travelocity and scratched out the hotel name and address but not the city, which was the same one they lived in. You’re going to stay right here in town, they said, mockingly. I’m not giving up my whole life, she said. Just you.

Read the whole thing here.

Gay Marriage Setback in Maine

New England’s GLBT community and allies felt the chill this morning as results were declared on Question 1 in Maine. By a vote of 52.6% to 47.4%, Maine’s gay marriage law was repealed by popular vote.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, Washington State voters passed Referendum 71 by an equally narrow margin of 51% to 49%, meaning that same-sex couples get to keep the domestic partnership benefits previously granted by the legislature. (Stats courtesy of The Bilerico Project.)

Let the post-mortems begin…

These results, coupled with the unwelcome success of Proposition 8 last year by a nearly identical margin, suggest two things to me: First, that nearly half the population supports gay marriage, but perhaps we could pick up some crucial swing voters by not calling it marriage. Whether this is a sacrifice worth making is not for me to judge, since I’m straight and have never had to weigh the burden of second-class symbolism against the fear of losing financial security for my family.

Second, the poll numbers suggest that mainstream GLBT activist groups aren’t reaching Christian voters. We’ve been treating this as a lobbying issue when it’s a spiritual and cultural one. A hundred get-out-the-vote calls won’t convince someone who answers to a higher authority. Our ads speak the secular liberal language of tolerance and diversity. “Yes on 1” voters probably feel frightened that mainstream culture doesn’t value, and in fact actively assaults, marital fidelity and children’s innocence. To them, more sexual freedom seems like a wrong turn. Of course, scapegoating gays isn’t the answer, but we first need to show that we heard the question.

A conservative Christian friend of mine believes that the Bible calls gays to celibacy, but she’s not interested in legislating away their rights. The Bible’s rules only apply once you’ve made a commitment to Jesus, she says. For the general public, the state should legislate according to secular principles.

I think this is a potentially useful argument for swaying those voters who will never personally feel comfortable with gay marriage. If it’s framed as a question of church-state separation, they might be persuaded to leave the issue up to personal conscience, like pro-lifers who believe abortion is immoral but aren’t inclined to use state coercion to worsen a tragic situation.

At the same time, “open and affirming” Christians need to make specifically Christian arguments for a gay-friendly reading of the Bible, and publicize them through sermons, mailings, and videos, just as their Catholic and Mormon opponents did. I’m working on some ideas in this area. Contact me if you want to help.