Illinois Family Institute Lashes Out Against Chicago Public Schools CEO

Since Chicago Public Schools’ previous CEO Arne Duncan became Barack Obama‘s Secretary of Education, there’s been a vacancy for the spot.

Mayor Richard Daley finally appointed someone to the position yesterdayRon Huberman:

Already, [Huberman] has drafted a plan to bolster school security and laid the groundwork to install — first on the business side, then in the classroom — the elaborate performance-evaluation system he used as the mayor’s chief of staff and as CTA president. It produces a daily report to answer: “How’d we do yesterday?”

“Education is not that simple or clear where you can measure it daily, but there are meaningful ways to produce information that will help us make better decisions,” he said.

Huberman is even making the most of his daily commute, talking with high school students on the bus to find out “what puts the sparkle in their eyes.”

“They immediately share with me their MySpace page, Facebook page, HotMail, Google,” said Huberman, whose mother is a retired high school teacher. “This is the language by which kids operate. How we can harness technology to enhance the educational experience is something we need to explore.”

Sounds like he’s passionate about education, which is a key quality for someone in his position. It’s something to hold on to, at least, considering he has no actual classroom experience. But truth be told, I don’t really know that much about him. Reading that article about him in the Chicago Sun-Times was only the second time I’d even heard of the guy.

When was the first time?

That would be yesterday afternoon, when I heard about his appointment from the Illinois Family Institute, a conservative Christian group.

What did they have to say about him?

Just one thing:

This week Illinoisans were greeted with the news that the new CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Ron Huberman, self-identifies as homosexual. Mayor Richard Daley’s choice as head of the third largest school district in the nation, one that serves more than 400,000 students, has revealed both his ignorance about and involvement with sexual perversion.

This is exactly what students who already suffer from significant disadvantages don’t need: a leader, and therefore role model, who affirms sexual deviance and who in his personal life volitionally engages in immoral conduct.

What a terrible example he sets, particularly for young men. I’m sure that Huberman possesses many admirable traits, but his sexual conduct is not one of them. There are no perfect people, and therefore there can be no perfect leaders, but possessing flaws and affirming immorality are two entirely different things.

Chicago’s children deserve far better. They deserve a leader who demonstrates discernment, wisdom, and integrity in one of life’s most profound aspects: sexuality.

I used to think even the worst of Christians said you could be gay … as long as you didn’t act on the “sin.”

IFI doesn’t even want him to have this job.

(I’m sure you can guess their stance on any atheist or Hindu in a position of power as well.)

What on earth do they think he’ll do? Spread “the gay” in all the schools? Sodomize everyone during board meetings? Or — even worse — make CPS schools a safe haven for gay students?

At least Huberman has the right attitude about it:

To parents who might be uncomfortable with a gay CEO running the public schools, [Huberman] said, “There are always those who will look to divide us. I’m focused on what unites us. What I believe unites every Chicagoan is the need to have a world-class educational system for our kids.”

How sad that IFI believes getting a world-class education system in place isn’t the top priority when hiring a public school system’s CEO.

  • Brian E

    Reminds me of the South Park episode where Big Gay Al was in charge of the Boy Scouts and did a great job and all the kids liked him, but then they can him cause he’s gay and put the insane military guy in charge who’s a closet homosexual and all the kids hate him. But he’s OK cause he’s not openly gay; nevermind what’s best for the kids.

  • Polly

    I used to think even the worst of Christians said you could be gay … as long as you didn’t act on the “sin.”

    Then you wre wrong. Even a relatively liberal bible literalist I knew, didn’t think that (and he had sex in HS).
    However, I used to think that as long as you “fought the temptation” or asked for forgiveness all was well.

    in one of life’s most profound aspects: sexuality.

    You mean one of life’s most basic, perfunctory biological functions. Why do fundie-nuts ascribe so much importance to sex? It’s not magic. It’s kinda creepy and strikes me as perverse.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    What on earth do they think he’ll do? Spread “the gay” in all the schools?

    I think that’s exactly what they think he’ll do – promote and spread the “homosexual lifestyle”. He might even promote *gasp!* SEX EDUCATION!?

  • Gabriel

    They probably fear that he will institute anti-bullying policies.

  • http://www.rationalitynow.com Dan Gilbert

    Aren’t these the same people who want to keep all mention of sex out of public schools? They certainly are making a big deal out of something that they normally want to hush-hush. I guess it’s only bad to talk about heterosexual sex in a school context. It’s okay to talk all day about homosexual sex as long as you’re criticizing it, I guess. Heh.

  • Kate

    make CPS schools a safe haven for gay students?

    OH NOES, THE HORROR!!!!!!!!!! TREATING PEOPLE WITH RESPECT SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED!!!!

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    What on earth do they think he’ll do? Spread “the gay” in all the schools? Sodomize everyone during board meetings? Or — even worse — make CPS schools a safe haven for gay students?

    Yes. All of the above.

    But mostly (IMO): They think he’ll be a role model for gay people as happy, respectable, productive members of society. They think having out gay people in highly visible positions of responsibility and authority fosters acceptance and respect of gay people in general… and that this is even more the case in a position having to do with kids, since kids are impressionable. They think he’ll be a role model, both for straight kids accepting gay kids, and for gay kids accepting themselves.

    They’re right.

    They’re just wrong about that being a bad thing.

  • Jeff Flowers

    The IFI is a bunch of ass hats. All of them.

  • Richard Wade’s Evil Twin

    I think I’ve figured out why these people are so afraid of gay men.

    They’re assholes.

  • Richard Wade

    Stop that, Evil Twin.

    I think if the head of NASA turned out to be gay, the Illinois Family Institute would call for his ouster because of the danger to all our astronauts of being indoctrinated into the “gay agenda.” (Whatever the heck that is.)

    (Echoing 1950’s sci-fi movie voice) “FAAAAGS INNN SPAAAACE!”

    Just imagine. Gay zero gravity outercourse. Civilization instantly crumbles.

  • J Myers

    How sad that IFI believes getting a world-class education system in place isn’t the top priority when hiring a public school system’s CEO.

    Well, of course they don’t want a world-class education system–looked what happened to their precious fantasy religion in other countries where this was achieved!

    I occasionally get bulk mail from the “Connecticut Family Institute,” decrying the evils of homosexual marriage (we have marriage equality in CT, you know), and asking for donations to fund their rights-stripping agenda. I always take the time to mail back a note explaining what despicable bigots they are, and how, in a mere generation or two, they will be regarded about as highly as the KKK.

    … but possessing flaws and affirming immorality are two entirely different things.

    Ron Huberman, IFI fiend, meet The Gypsy Curse.

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  • http://www.sheeptoshawl.com writerdd

    I like when the bigots are out in the open. Then everyone knows how ignorant and mean spirited they are.

  • J Myers

    Oops…. that should be Laurie Higgins, IFI fiend… Ron Huberman’s the good guy here.

  • Dave Huntsman

    I once read an article by a Rabbi who writes occasionally for beliefnet.com. The article was about his frustration with fundamentalist Christians and their literal interpretation of the Old Testament (ie, the Hebrew bible) on homosexuality – but how they ignored everything else in the Bible that was condemned using the same Hebrew wording. That included: any man without a beard; any man who marries a woman who already has a daughter by another man; eaters of shrimp, lobster, etc. (all three of those apply to me); and lots of others. I have yet to catch a single media person asking an un-bearded or twice-married et al anti-gay person about why they are ignoring all of those other abominations.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    The stance of hateful bigots like that is “There’s no such thing as a gay Christian”. You can be a self-loathing person who is repressing his/her true sexual orientation and pretending to be straight to please Jesus/the church/your family/your friends/etc. But you cannot be a content openly gay person and be Christian. The bigots simply won’t accept that.

    Funny how they don’t say you can’t be divorced and Christian, a seafood eater and Christian, a liar and Christian, etc. (That last one would disqualify about 90% of the RRRW)

  • Arlene

    What on earth do they think he’ll do? Spread “the gay” in all the schools? Sodomize everyone during board meetings?

    Sadly, the Illinois Family Institute probably DOES believe that Mr. Huberman will “spread the gay,” sodomize every man in the board meetings, and generally corrupt the young minds that the schools are molding.

    I am a Christian, and I am offended and saddened by the homophobia shown towards Mr. Huberman.

    There is a lot of homophobia in the church today, and it greatly upsets me. I personally do not agree with homosexuality, and I do not think that it is an acceptable lifestyle for a Christian to adopt. But that doesn’t stop me from having gay friends, and loving them the way a friend should. Believe me, I get a LOT of raised eyebrows, both in and out of church, when I mention that some of my friends are gay.

    Jesus spent most of his time with people that His religious leaders rejected and condemned, including tax collectors, prostitutes, zealots (Jews who fought against the Roman occupation-they’d be called terrorists today), and thieves.

    Jesus is the basis of my Christian faith, and I believe that the church should be following His example. Therefore, I try to love everyone, regardless of whether or not I agree with their beliefs and lifestyle. Unfortunately, I am a minority in today’s church.

    I apologize for the fear and hatred exhibited by my fellow Christians.

  • cathy

    Who self identifies as a homosexual? People self identify as gay, queer, etc, but I do not know of anyone within American culture (European terms do differ) who uses the term homosexual to describe themselves in a non abstract way (people may say “history of homosexuality in the 1920′s” but not “I am a homosexual”).

  • Richard Wade

    Arlene, your heart is in the right place, but I think you are still operating with a misconception:

    There is a lot of homophobia in the church today, and it greatly upsets me. I personally do not agree with homosexuality, and I do not think that it is an acceptable lifestyle for a Christian to adopt.

    Homosexuality is not a lifestyle or a “lifestyle choice” as some homophobic amateur sociologists like to say. It is a naturally occuring variant in the complex and extremely diverse forms of human sexuality. Being left-handed is not a lifestyle. Having very pale skin is not a lifestyle. If the Bible had said that left-handed albinos were a double abomination to the Lord, then Christians would be faced with the embarrassing difficulty of trying to justify God’s utter unfairness in making some people a certain way and then cursing them for it. Unless the “sinner” is fully responsible for freely choosing the cursed trait, then being cursed for it is unjust. Any child knows this principle of simple fairness. So Christians have had to invent, out of the air, the free will lifestyle choice lie.

    Ask yourself two questions: Firstly, when did you, being fully informed of all the issues, fully in charge of all your sexual drives, deliberately, consciously and with complete responsibility choose to be attracted to the opposite sex? The honest answer, I am sure, is that you didn’t choose. It was natural for you. It just developed in you without you having to put any choice into it at all. Secondly, ask yourself who, showing no sign of mental disorder, no sign of self-destructive or self-loathing tendencies, would deliberately, consciously and with complete responsibility choose to be reviled and despised every day of their lives, choose to be slandered, mocked, abused, oppressed, beaten and even murdered, when instead they could have chosen the acceptance, respect and benefits that you take for granted?

    No Arlene, it’s ridiculous. Christians are stuck with a book that has a handful of bigoted, superstitious passages that neither make sense in the light of the 21st century, nor are they acceptable in modern senses of moral fairness. The only way to reconcile it is for Christians to appoint themselves amateur psychologists and invent the “lifestyle choice” myth.

    Perhaps you, or any of the Biblical scholars here can tell me, where in the Bible does it say that homosexuals freely choose their sexuality? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it does somewhere, simply and straight forwardly. Or maybe someone can come up with some elaborate, corkscrew interpretation of some obscure verse to try to make a case for the free will choice of this so-called “sin.” Otherwise, it’s just a four thousand year old superstitious bigotry.

    Let me say once again Arlene, your heart is loving and on the right track, but you are inadvertently perpetuating this vile hatred’s main supporting falsehood, that it is a lifestyle that they adopt. Appealing to the “well, even if they can’t help their feelings they can refrain from acting on them” routine is lame, absurd, ignorant and downright cruel. Try denying your own feelings and their fulfillment. That is not any way for any human being to live.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    I find the wording “agree with homosexuality” quite interesting. Even if Arlene hadn’t mentioned the “lifestyle” fallacy, that single word “agree” is quite telling. Imagine someone saying “I don’t agree with red hair”.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    I agree with Arlene, and I do agree with Hemant that IFI has its priorities all screwed up. Why the swiftness in judgment? What’s next? Should we enact legislature to prevent anyone who’s ever cussed from holding a public office? I’m with Arlene, and I think if asked, Jesus would simply draw another line in the sand and ask who will be throwing the first stone.

    “Try denying your own feelings and their fulfillment. That is not any way for any human being to live.” (R. Wade)

    Questions: Do you equally intervene for sociopaths and murderers? Or do you find it beneficial when sociopaths and murderers deny their feelings and the fulfillment thereof? If the latter, might the original statement need to be clarified?

  • llewelly

    Arlene :

    I personally do not agree with homosexuality, and I do not think that it is an acceptable lifestyle for a Christian to adopt. But that doesn’t stop me from having gay friends, and loving them the way a friend should.

    I’m trying to figure out what this means. Do you try to convince your gay friends that they should abandon Christianity?

  • Richard Wade

    cl:

    Questions: Do you equally intervene for sociopaths and murderers? Or do you find it beneficial when sociopaths and murderers deny their feelings and the fulfillment thereof? If the latter, might the original statement need to be clarified?

    Before I rip into what appears to be a more obvious straw man argument than the examples in Wikipedia, I’ll first ask you for clarification. Are you actually attempting to compare homosexuals with sociopaths and murderers? Are you comparing what two consenting, loving adults do in private to express their natural sexual drives to murder and the destruction for which sociopaths are infamous? Are these all on the same spectrum of behaviors to you? Please clarify, the apparent absurdity is so bad it’s painful.

  • Siamang

    Or do you find it beneficial when sociopaths and murderers deny their feelings and the fulfillment thereof? If the latter, might the original statement need to be clarified?

    Now you’re being needlessly pedantic. I think most readers here will rightly assume that Richard didn’t mean to include people who want to harm others.

    This isn’t some legalistic debate website, cl. Perhaps you’re looking for a place where you have to word everything without granting a base set of common assumptions. Such as: no, I don’t mean murderers when I say “everyone deserves freedom”. Especially in the context of a discussion where WE AREN’T TALKING about murderers. I’m glad this is not such a place. I hope you find such a place soon, if that’s what you’re looking for.

    Anyway, FSM help whoever you’re married to. They better be a lawyer.

  • Arlene

    Arlene, your heart is in the right place, but I think you are still operating with a misconception:

    There is a lot of homophobia in the church today, and it greatly upsets me. I personally do not agree with homosexuality, and I do not think that it is an acceptable lifestyle for a Christian to adopt.

    I find the wording “agree with homosexuality” quite interesting. Even if Arlene hadn’t mentioned the “lifestyle” fallacy, that single word “agree” is quite telling. Imagine someone saying “I don’t agree with red hair”.

    One of my best friends is a Christian who has struggled with her sexuality for a long time. Yet she chooses to live a heterosexual lifestyle. I know many others in my church alone who have struggled with homosexuality in the past, but have chosen heterosexuality. You may say that they are denying who they are or are afraid of what Christians might say if they embraced homosexuality, but nevertheless they are choosing to be heterosexuals. I just wish that instead of having to be afraid of the church, they could ask the church for help to overcome their struggles.

    Perhaps you, or any of the Biblical scholars here can tell me, where in the Bible does it say that homosexuals freely choose their sexuality?

    Although I enjoy reading and studying the Bible, I will not pretend to be a biblical scholar. I am willing to admit that I have not found a verse that says homosexuals choose their sexuality. I also have not found a verse stating that homosexuals do not choose their homosexuality.

    I personally do not agree with homosexuality, and I do not think that it is an acceptable lifestyle for a Christian to adopt. But that doesn’t stop me from having gay friends, and loving them the way a friend should.
    I’m trying to figure out what this means. Do you try to convince your gay friends that they should abandon Christianity?

    My gay friends are not Christians. They know that I am a Christian and that I do not support homosexuality. That doesn’t stop me from accepting them the way they are and loving them, and it doesn’t stop them from accepting me the way I am and loving me.

    And to everyone, there is a fine line between the acceptance and the supporting of a concept. The church tries often to eradicate all traces of homosexuality from society, as shown by their reaction to Mr. Huberman. I think this is foolish reasoning, akin to “If I can’t see it, it’s not there.” I think the church needs to accept the fact that homosexuality exists.
    I accept the fact that homosexuality is here, but I will not support it.
    I can, however, accept and love gay people, just as Jesus would.

  • Siamang

    One of my best friends is a Christian who has struggled with her sexuality for a long time. Yet she chooses to live a heterosexual lifestyle. I know many others in my church alone who have struggled with homosexuality in the past, but have chosen heterosexuality. You may say that they are denying who they are or are afraid of what Christians might say if they embraced homosexuality, but nevertheless they are choosing to be heterosexuals.

    Perhaps they’re bisexuals.

    Doesn’t it make sense that those who couldn’t make that “choice” have long since left your church?

    I know for myself, I could not make the “choice” to have sexual relations with a man (I’m a man). Sorry, but that’s not a problem that Viagra could fix.

    If someone is capable of making that choice, they probably have a broader sexual attractedness than I have.

    they could ask the church for help to overcome their struggles.

    It sounds like it’s the church they’re struggling with, not their sexuality. Sexuality will manifest itself biologically. I don’t care how many sermons I hear, a church cannot make me hot for someone I’m not hot for. I expect it’s the same for gays.

    Arlene, I like a lot of what your saying, and I appreciate the good faith your showing in this discussion. I wanted to make clear that my thoughts posted here in no way diminish the points that we agree on.

  • Siamang

    Let me add this question:

    Arlene, could you be sexually attracted to a woman?

    If the answer is no, then why would you think that sexual orientation is a choice?

    If the answer is yes, then is it possible that you are bisexual and that is why you don’t understand emotionally that for some people it is not an open choice.

  • Richard Wade

    Arlene,

    I am willing to admit that I have not found a verse that says homosexuals choose their sexuality. I also have not found a verse stating that homosexuals do not choose their homosexuality.

    And I am willing to admit that I have not found a verse that says that giraffes have three heads. I also have not found a verse that says that giraffes do not have three heads. So, is the jury still out about three-headed giraffes? Or will you admit that the “lifestyle choice” myth is a non-Biblical ad hoc canard made up to try to justify a blatantly unfair practice by God as portrayed in the Bible?

    As far as your friends who are apparently bisexual rather than exclusively homosexual, and who you are saying are choosing to live as heterosexuals, the few who can do that and genuinely be happy and fulfilled are extremely rare. The rest are screwed (figuratively) by God’s catch-22.

    I think the church needs to accept the fact that homosexuality exists.
    I accept the fact that homosexuality is here, but I will not support it.
    I can, however, accept and love gay people, just as Jesus would.

    Your accepting that homosexuality actually exists but still disapproving of it based on patently false assumptions is not much of a concession in light of the atrocious treatment that gays endure because of the institutionalized bigotry in the church. The church isn’t saying homosexuality doesn’t exist, in fact they love having it as their favorite target for their desire to feel morally superior to others.

    Arlene, Jesus didn’t just passively love those who were oppressed by the religious ruling class, he actively fought their oppressors. If you really are trying to follow Christ, then what are you willing to actually do to fight what you acknowledge are the church’s oppressive practices, beyond quietly fretting from a safe distance?

  • Steven

    Arlene wrote

    “One of my best friends is a Christian who has struggled with her sexuality for a long time. Yet she chooses to live a heterosexual lifestyle. I know many others in my church alone who have struggled with homosexuality in the past, but have chosen heterosexuality. You may say that they are denying who they are or are afraid of what Christians might say if they embraced homosexuality, but nevertheless they are choosing to be heterosexuals. I just wish that instead of having to be afraid of the church, they could ask the church for help to overcome their struggles.”

    I’d like to commend Arlene for the civility of her responses to the strong reactions her comments have inspired.
    I’m pretty sure that nobody out there gives a rat’s, er, whisker whether or not I approve of what they do in their spare time and whether it involves men, women, or whipped cream.
    If it’s God’s job to do the judging, it sounds like he’ll soon be collecting unemployment. Many members of his flock have already judged a minority of their fellow human beings and found them guilty…of being human.
    I agree with Richard Wade et al that Arlene sounds like her heart is in the right place. I hear a lot of compassion in her words and clearly she is struggling with her church’s doctrine.
    I wonder how many marriages and relationships are suffering because one partner has “chosen” a heterosexual lifestyle because they think that’s what God wants.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Arlene: Your friends in the church are pretending, because your religion is guilting them into thinking what they are is something awful. But believe me, they’re still homosexual, or possibly bi. Just like a red-headed person can dye their hair, but they’d still be a red-head. You can’t cure homosexuality. You can’t choose not to be gay. You can choose not to ACT on it, and potentially be miserable for the rest of your life. While I appreciate that your “heart’s in the right place” as someone put it, I still think what your church is doing to these poor people is despicable. Just accept them for what they are, and let them lead their lives without your judgement. They aren’t hurting anyone. So stop hurting them.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Richard Wade,

    Are you actually attempting to compare homosexuals with sociopaths and murderers?

    No.

    Are you comparing what two consenting, loving adults do in private to express their natural sexual drives to murder and the destruction for which sociopaths are infamous?

    No.

    Are these all on the same spectrum of behaviors to you?

    No.

    Any further questions? Or do you care to answer mine?

    Siamang,

    Now you’re being needlessly pedantic.

    That’s nice of you to judge me, but the hidden assumption is that you know why I asked what I asked, the way I asked it, and you clearly reason from presupposition in that respect.

    Felicia,

    …I still think what your church is doing to these poor people is despicable. Just accept them for what they are, and let them lead their lives without your judgement. They aren’t hurting anyone. So stop hurting them.

    I agree.

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    Frankly I don’t agree with the Christian Lifestyle. I’m not saying that those who choose to live it should be harmed in any way. But they shouldn’t expect the rest of us to bow to their demands that we give them all that is ours. And we certainly shouldn’t have to subsidize them with our tax dollars when what they do is so diametrically against our deeply held beliefs.

    Notice how bigoted it sounds when you’re the target? So can you understand how you come across as a complete jerk when you pretend you’re just “defending tradition” or your “religious beliefs”?

    You’re not being a good Christian or “standing up for traditional beliefs” when you bash gay people. You’re just being a bigot.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Buffy,

    Who here is bashing gay people? Are you just commenting in general? Did I miss something? If so, my bad.

  • Nat

    Reprehensible though the IFI’s statement is, this post distracts from the legitimate qualms about Huberman’s appointment — that he has no educational experience and that his departure leaves the work of resuscitating the CTA undone. And I have to ask — how much pull does this blinkered organization really have in Chicago?

  • https://www.google.com/reader/shared/03285257443185929989 Scotty B

    …has revealed both his ignorance about and involvement with sexual perversion.

    I’m confused, are they saying that he is ignorant about sexual perversion, while at the same time accusing him of being involved in sexual perversion?

  • Richard Wade

    cl, I would like to answer your original question respectfully, but I do not understand it. You answered “No” to my questions but without additional clarification, I am still puzzled.

  • Arlene

    I am willing to admit that I have not found a verse that says homosexuals choose their sexuality. I also have not found a verse stating that homosexuals do not choose their homosexuality.

    And I am willing to admit that I have not found a verse that says that giraffes have three heads. I also have not found a verse that says that giraffes do not have three heads. So, is the jury still out about three-headed giraffes? Or will you admit that the “lifestyle choice” myth is a non-Biblical ad hoc canard made up to try to justify a blatantly unfair practice by God as portrayed in the Bible?

    Romans 1:24-26 [Paul writing to the church in Rome] “24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
    That looks to me like the ancient Romans chose to turn away from heterosexuality.

    The church isn’t saying homosexuality doesn’t exist, in fact they love having it as their favorite target for their desire to feel morally superior to others.

    The purpose and desire of the church is not to feel morally superior to others. Again, I am sad that this is the view of the church that people see.

    Arlene, could you be sexually attracted to a woman?

    If the answer is no, then why would you think that sexual orientation is a choice?

    If the answer is yes, then is it possible that you are bisexual and that is why you don’t understand emotionally that for some people it is not an open choice.

    A question for a question: Could a person be born with a sexual attraction to children?

    If you state that sexuality is something you’re born with, then you should also state that those who are born with a sexual attraction to children should not be arrested and imprisoned for pedophilia, because that would be discrimination.
    If you state that someone cannot be born with a sexual attraction to children, then why on earth can they be born as homosexuals?

    I hear a lot of compassion in her words and clearly she is struggling with her church’s doctrine.

    This is not a struggle with my church’s doctrine. When I say “the church” I am referring to the church as a whole, to all Christians. What I am struggling with is the church’s forgetting that we are supposed to be like Jesus. I struggle with the fact that my gay friends were surprised to find out that I’m a Christian, because I hadn’t told them that they were on the express track for hell.
    The whole basis of Christianity is love, not judgement. I wish that more Christians realized this.

    While I appreciate that your “heart’s in the right place” as someone put it, I still think what your church is doing to these poor people is despicable. Just accept them for what they are, and let them lead their lives without your judgement. They aren’t hurting anyone. So stop hurting them.

    I couldn’t agree more. I believe in unconditional love, as Jesus exemplified, and I am sad that the church says one thing and does another. Have I personally come across as though I am judging people or hurting them?
    If so, I sincerely apologize.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com/ Derek

    If you state that sexuality is something you’re born with, then you should also state that those who are born with a sexual attraction to children should not be arrested and imprisoned for pedophilia, because that would be discrimination.

    Except paedophilia is not a victimless crime. Can you tell me who the victim is in a homosexual relationship? Is it your opinion that “love and compassion” is of foremost importance in dealing with a sociopath or child molester?

    It boggles me that so many Christians insist on comparing homosexuality to various heinous crimes, when they fail miserably at showing why it’s reasonable to believe what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom should be considered morally abhorrent. As if making that comparison somehow proves that gay sex is wrong. If your stance is that the Bible condemns homosexuality, then it makes me wonder, if the Bible didn’t explicitly condemn murder, would Christians be OK with it? If you say is that it would still be wrong if the Bible didn’t condemn it, on what basis do you form that argument? And how does this basis carry over to homosexuality?

    I’m not sure where this point is getting lost, but I’ll just say it again: permitting gay people the right to just be themselves within a church family has no ill consequences on the larger community. Granting a sociopath the same right to be him/herself and thus rape and murder freely, on the other hand, has obvious ill effects. That you fail to see this distinction is troubling to say the least.

    In any case, it’s hardly a philosophical point that you don’t choose to be gay. Look to countless psychological and biological studies that confirm this. Look to countless ex-ex-gays and their jilted former spouses who all confess that they were miserable throughout the entire ordeal. A little philosophical handwaving is not going to make them go away.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Arlene:

    I couldn’t agree more. I believe in unconditional love, as Jesus exemplified, and I am sad that the church says one thing and does another. Have I personally come across as though I am judging people or hurting them?
    If so, I sincerely apologize.

    By the fact that you support a doctrine that says that homosexuality is evil, yes, you bloody well ARE judging and hurting people. It doesn’t matter how sincerely apologetic you are when you’re comparing a consensual act of love between two adults to child rape*!

    Like Derek, I would like to hear your justification for doing this. And don’t quote the bible, because it’s full of crap. Do you also believe that you shouldn’t be allowed to teach, that you have to shut up in church and that you’re pretty much your husband’s property? Because Paul said all that, too. I want to hear you, as a compassionate, loving human being, justify calling a consensual act between two people, an act that brings them joy and happiness, wrong. (And the only reason I’m still in this discussion is that you appear to actually be as compassionate as you claim to be. I simply cannot reconcile this with your beliefs, which is why I keep pushing this. If you were the standard homophobic christian I’d have abandoned this debate long ago, but with you, I feel like I might at least gain some understanding for your position!)

    * To be fair, you didn’t actually mention pedophilic ACTS. Personally I don’t think pedophilia in itself is wrong – only to act on it, because it entails coercing a child into having sex long before it’s physically and mentally mature enough to do so. However, since you appear to believe homosexuality is only wrong if it’s ACTED upon, I’m inferring that you meant the same about pedophilia.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Richard Wade,

    Your prior statement was that to deny one’s feelings and the fulfillment thereof is no way for any human to live.

    Aren’t sociopaths and murderers just expressing and fulfilling their feelings? If no, why not?

    If yes, then do you find it beneficial when sociopaths and murderers deny their feelings and the fulfillment thereof?

    Why or why not?

  • Richard Wade

    Arlene, Thank you for those interesting Biblical references from Romans 1:24-27. (And by the way, I appreciate your patience and pluck in sticking with this dialogue, and facing multilateral challenges to your opinions.) I am curious about the repeated phrase, “God gave them over…” That sounds to me like God made them think that way. What does that phrase mean?

    Just for the sake of argument, I’ll assume until informed otherwise that it doesn’t mean divine thought control, (as it sure sounds like when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart) and so according to the story these Roman party animals are supposed to have “chosen” to be attracted to the same sex simply by making a conscious decision to turn a little switch inside their heads from “lust after opposite sex” to “lust after same sex.”

    I wonder if you personally believe that anyone and everyone can really do that, just because it’s written in a very old book. If it’s that easy, then why are there any gays at all?

    Over many years as a counselor, I got to know about 200 gay, lesbian and bisexual clients. They came to counseling for a variety of concerns, not just their sexuality, but in the course of treatment they discussed their sexual histories, thoughts and feelings in detail. Not one of them ever described any ability to consciously choose which gender attracted them, or to turn those feelings on or off. Many of them, as they became aware of their orientation as teens, tried desperately to “go straight,” to find that little switch in their heads, but not one, zero were able to do it, and the anguish, pain and suicidal despair they went through was heartbreaking to hear.

    I must admit that none of them were ancient Romans. Maybe those dudes were somehow different, but regardless, they aren’t the ones who are being perniciously and cruelly persecuted now for being the way they were born.

    Arlene, like you I also wish that more Christians followed Jesus’ loving example, but as I said before, if you don’t practice his activism, you don’t follow him much worth mentioning. Sadly, too many practice the judgmental, self-righteous bigotries that have earned the worst parts of their reputation. I hope that you can become an active agent for positive change in the attitudes of your Christian friends, and perhaps in the church as a whole, but to effectively do that you are going to have to let go of some misconceptions about people that simply have no basis in reality, and to let go of those misconceptions you are going to have to accept that some passages in the Bible are

    just

    plain

    wrong.

  • Arlene

    “Could a person be born with a sexual attraction to children?

    If you state that sexuality is something you’re born with, then you should also state that those who are born with a sexual attraction to children should not be arrested and imprisoned for pedophilia, because that would be discrimination.
    If you state that someone cannot be born with a sexual attraction to children, then why on earth can they be born as homosexuals?”
    Except paedophilia is not a victimless crime.

    If you look carefully at my question, I did not say that homosexuality is a crime, nor have I ever. The question is: Do you believe that someone can be born with a sexual attraction to children? Do you think that a sexual attraction towards children could be genetic?
    The logic that I am seeing states that sexuality is genetic and not a choice. Therefore, according to this logic, a sexual attraction to children would also be genetic, and therefore not warrant punishment.
    If a friend came up to you and said that they sexually preferred children to adults and that they were in a loving relationship with an eight-year-old with parental consent, would you support them in that relationship? Would you begin saying that pedophilia is not a crime because the perpetrators are just acting on their natural desires?

    Is it your opinion that “love and compassion” is of foremost importance in dealing with a sociopath or child molester?

    Yes. I believe that people can change. That is why I do not support the death penalty or the revoking of a felon’s voting rights. I am not saying that nobody should ever be punished for the wrong that they do. I’m saying that people are people. If you were a convicted murderer or rapist, would you want people telling you that you were a terrible person unworthy of forgiveness?
    Or would you rather have someone offer you kindness and compassion?
    If you haven’t read the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, I think you should.

    If your stance is that the Bible condemns homosexuality, then it makes me wonder, if the Bible didn’t explicitly condemn murder, would Christians be OK with it? If you say is that it would still be wrong if the Bible didn’t condemn it, on what basis do you form that argument? And how does this basis carry over to homosexuality?

    Like Derek, I would like to hear your justification for doing this.

    I am answering this one with an assumption that you do not believe that the Bible is true or accurate.
    You know that murder is wrong, with no help from the Bible. You just know it’s wrong. If the Bible were to not mention murder at all, Christians would know that it is wrong, because Christians are people.
    I do volunteer work with elementary-aged children, both in and out of church. None of them have ever had a crush on another kid of the same sex. Their first instinct is to like someone of the opposite sex. I realize, six-year-olds holding hands is a long way from adult relationships. But then, a child’s crayon drawings are a far cry from the pastel prints they do as an adult.
    First instincts show up in children. They stick with their instincts until other options present themselves. They want to be an artist until they learn that they can be an architect or an art teacher. They want to be a doctor, until they realize that they can be a pediatrician, an optometrist, a neurologist, a cardiologist…
    Likewise, their first instinct is to be attracted to those of the opposite sex, until they realize that they have the option of being a homosexual. When they realize that they have the option of being gay, they may choose that option.

    Do you also believe that you shouldn’t be allowed to teach, that you have to shut up in church and that you’re pretty much your husband’s property? Because Paul said all that,too. too.

    I am a Children’s church leader and I have been asked by my pastor many times for my opinions and ideas. As to “being my husband’s property,” that is a Bible verse that is often taken out of context.
    Ephesians 5:22-24
    “22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

    I think this is the verse you are referring to. When you look at the verse by itself, it does appear to be saying that wives should just do what their husbands tell them to. However, this verse is taken out of context. Context is everything.

    Ephesians 5:25
    “25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

    This verse is calling husbands to love their wives. Loving someone does not include considering them property, or allowing them to be considered property.

    Ephesians 5:33
    33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

    This verse sums it up. Husbands are to love their wives as much as they love themselves. Wives are to trust that their husbands will love them as much as they love themselves. Therefore, wives are to respect their husband’s decisions, because they trust that the decisions are in their best interest. Does this explanation make sense?

    I am curious about the repeated phrase, “God gave them over…” That sounds to me like God made them think that way. What does that phrase mean?

    Have you ever had a friend who makes really stupid decisions? They come to you for help, you give them advice-and they ignore it. You bail them out of trouble time after time, and they just don’t listen. After awhile, you get tired of trying and trying and trying. So you step back for awhile and just let them get into trouble, hoping that they’ll finally understand that you were right and they were wrong.
    This is what the phrase “God gave them over to…” means. God tried and tried and tried to reach the Romans and they wouldn’t listen to Him. So He took a step back and left them to their own devices, waited for them to realize that He was right and they were wrong. I hope that makes sense.

    Arlene, Jesus didn’t just passively love those who were oppressed by the religious ruling class, he actively fought their oppressors. If you really are trying to follow Christ, then what are you willing to actually do to fight what you acknowledge are the church’s oppressive practices, beyond quietly fretting from a safe distance? I hope that you can become an active agent for positive change in the attitudes of your Christian friends, and perhaps in the church as a whole, but to effectively do that you are going to have to let go of some misconceptions about people that simply have no basis in reality, and to let go of those misconceptions you are going to have to accept that some passages in the Bible are

    just

    plain

    wrong.

    Jesus never really fought against the religious oppressors of His day. If you read carefully, you’ll find that He merely answered trick questions in ways that were above reproach, and asked sincere questions of His own. That was part of the reason that religious leaders hated Him so much: they just couldn’t make Him slip up. The only time Jesus showed any true “fighting” was during the week before His death, where He overturned the tables and benches of money-changers and “sacrifice vendors” in the Temple. (Mark 11:15-18)
    I ask questions. More than once, my pastor has had to get back to me, because they needed time to research my question. I debate things I don’t agree with. Awhile ago, one of my pastors went so far as to request that I not invite my gay friend to church until he admitted that his lifestyle was flawed. That discussion ended with him apologizing for his mistake and telling me that my friend would be welcomed. What did I say to my pastor? Pretty much what I’ve been saying here: the church should not try to condemn people into their way of thinking-or into heaven.
    Nowadays, my church has a reputation for being accepting and loving.
    I have already made a difference in my church, without accepting that there are parts of the Bible that are just plain wrong. I believe the Bible is true. That will not be changing.

    And to everyone, I have a question: where do you think morality comes from? This is not a trick or loaded question; I’m genuinely curious.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Arlene,

    Something doesn’t have to be genetically encoded to be “fixed” in a person’s character. For instance the chemical environment in the womb will affect the development of the fetus’ brain. We don’t know what processes exactly shapes people’s sexual desires, but to everyone who has desires that are in some way deviant from the norm, it’s abundantly clear that it’s not by choice.

    Do you seriously think someone would CHOOSE to be attracted to the opposite sex when society is so bigotted? Considering how many children grow up in christian households and are schooled into heterosexuality from the start, don’t you think it’s a bit weird that many of them STILL end up homosexual – and absolutely fucking MISERABLE? Kids don’t choose to be gay. Your argument that they all go for the opposite sex as their first instinct makes sense at the surface but it’s wrong. Plenty of kids know right from the start what they want. Also, keep in mind that puberty changes you a lot, so even if a kid is perfectly “normal” before then, the raging hormones might wreak havoc in a previously “normal” mind. I don’t even know why we’re arguing about this – I’m sorry but you’re simply wrong. You’re lucky you’re heterosexual, but I wish you weren’t, as that would probably be the only way for you to realise this. Could you, at least for the sake of argument, grant for a moment that homosexuality is NOT a choice, and then justify why it’s wrong?

    As for pedophilia with parental consent – you’ve still coerced the child. It’s. Not. Ok. To. Have. Sex. With. Children. We’re talking consensual acts between two adults here. Stop derailing the subject.

    Re your comment on Paul and women, did you really think I hadn’t read the full context? You think too little of me. :( A man can love his dog and treat it with reverence, but the dog is still his property and has no say in what happens to it. It’s nice of Paul to admonish men to love their wives, but that doesn’t change the fact that wives are supposed to be submissive to their husbands. Are you ok with this? If your ever-so-loving husband made a decision about your life that you violently disagreed with, would you meekly submit to him the way Paul says you should?

    As for where morality comes from, that’s been done to death in other places, but put it like this: We have evolved as social animals. During our evolution we have been entirely dependent on the group for our survival and successful procreation – just like our closest relatives, the chimps, are today. To be able to live in a social group, it’s necessary to have some built-in rules of conduct. We have feelings of fairness, reciprocity, and punishment of those who cheat, all built in. Other primates also have this! From these rudimentary beginnings we, with the aid of language, have developed a much more advanced system. Morals aren’t objective, but they ARE intersubjective. All societies have rules against murder (within the group) and theft, for instance. What we western liberals are doing is trying to include ALL OF HUMANITY in our own group, and make the moral values universal.

    As an interesting thought experiment, you might learn a little bit of honeybees. Conjecture a hive full of intelligent honeybees, and consider if our moral system would work for them. (Hint: It wouldn’t. It would produce complete anarchy.) Our moral system is entirely dependent on our biology!

  • http://www.bernerbits.com/ Derek

    I did not say that homosexuality is a crime, nor have I ever. The question is: Do you believe that someone can be born with a sexual attraction to children? Do you think that a sexual attraction towards children could be genetic?

    Nor did I accuse you of doing so. To clarify what I said, paedophilia is a crime because a child is always victimized. This is not an issue of debate. Let me ask you again, who is victimized in a homosexual relationship that it can be considered sinful?

    I agree that all sexual behaviors and desires can be hard-wired, just like any other. I believe I addressed this when I said the following:

    In any case, it’s hardly a philosophical point that you don’t choose to be gay. Look to countless psychological and biological studies that confirm this. Look to countless ex-ex-gays and their jilted former spouses who all confess that they were miserable throughout the entire ordeal. A little philosophical handwaving is not going to make them go away.

    The problem here is you’ve chosen to ignore all the evidence we’ve presented and try to dismiss it with philosophical musings. I understand how that helps you reconcile the issue in your mind, but to us, it’s intellectually dishonest. We’re asking you to look at the facts and give an honest answer. Instead, you’re offering philosophical musings of sociopathy and paedophilia.

    Likewise, their first instinct is to be attracted to those of the opposite sex, until they realize that they have the option of being a homosexual. When they realize that they have the option of being gay, they may choose that option.

    Bullshit. Children do not have sexual desires the way adults do. It is not until adolescence, when sexual attraction actually kicks in, that children begin to discover who they are attracted to.

    Case in point: when I was 12 or so I spied an issue of Victoria’s Secret in my parents’ car. For some reason when I saw it I was immediately, almost insatiably interested. I thumbed through and for the first time in my life achieved sexual arousal from observing semi-nude female bodies. I didn’t decide that I was going to be attracted to these underwear models, I just was. On the other hand, when thumbing through JCPenney catalogs, I could always pass by the men’s underwear section without a second thought. There was no interest at all.

    For people with a gay disposition, the exact opposite is what happens. The women’s underwear section is totally uninteresting, and there’s an inexplicable interest, a basic carnal attraction and desire to keep looking at and achieve sexual arousal from looking at semi-nude men.

    You can talk all you want about pedophiles and sociopaths, and while it is true that their behaviors and desires are hard-wired in their brains, these behaviors and desires produce ill effects on society, while the behaviors and desires of homosexuals do not. That is why it is not wrong to try and modify the behaviors of sociopaths and pedophiles, because of their obvious detrimental impact on the community at large.

    And even if it were the case that being gay were a choice, which is all your preceding argument can be said to support, it does not answer the question of how you can call being gay “wrong” without using the Bible to help you.

    When I said:

    Is it your opinion that “love and compassion” is of foremost importance in dealing with a sociopath or child molester?

    You said:

    Yes. I believe that people can change.

    So, you mean your primary concern when dealing with people who have dangerous personality flaws is not having them removed from the places where they can do harm? Would you be 100% comfortable if a “reformed” child molester or sociopath were attending your church services and living in your neighborhood?

  • http://www.bernerbits.com/ Derek

    Wives are to trust that their husbands will love them as much as they love themselves. Therefore, wives are to respect their husband’s decisions, because they trust that the decisions are in their best interest.

    I’m gonna have to call BS on this interpretation as well. It’s not enough that a husband’s decisions are well-intentioned and he has his wife’s best interests at heart. It is a known reality that sometimes people make poor decisions in spite of good intentions. If a husband loves his wife he will involve her in the decision-making process and allow her to make decisions in the marriage as well. They don’t say “two heads are better than one” for no reason.

    I mean for crying out loud, I’m not going to buy a new car, adopt a puppy, take out a mortgage, or get my wife pregnant without first coming to a mutual agreement with her!

    Context can be everything, but in this case, Paul still clearly believes in a hierarchical society.

  • J Myers

    If you look carefully at my question, I did not say that homosexuality is a crime, nor have I ever.

    No one claimed or implied that you did; it was merely stated that pedophilia was not a victimless crime.

    Do you think that a sexual attraction towards children could be genetic?
    The logic that I am seeing states that sexuality is genetic and not a choice. Therefore, according to this logic, a sexual attraction to children would also be genetic, and therefore not warrant punishment.

    Are you being deliberately obtuse here? This is not the logic at all; as has been repeatedly explained above, it is the consequence, not the source of the behavior, that renders one permissible and not the other. The characterization you present is your own creation, not ours.

    … in a loving [sexual] relationship with an eight-year-old with parental consent,

    Parental consent is irrelevant here–can a parent consent to have their child cooked and eaten? Can they consent to have their child skinned and made into clothing?

    I am answering this one with an assumption that you do not believe that the Bible is true or accurate.

    Assumption? It is obvious that bible is not accurate; just read any few pages of it critically. For more detail, see The Skeptics Annotated Bible.

    None of them have ever had a crush on another kid of the same sex.

    At that age, many of them have probably never had a crush on anyone; much of their behavior is likely imitation or expectation-fulfillment. Perhaps some of them have had a same-sex crush, but were afraid to say that they did. Perhaps some of them did, and you just didn’t notice. Your “first impressions” argument is nothing more than a contrived, unsupported hypothesis. Your analogy to careers is also false (unless you think that being an artist is the “right” career and being an architect or teacher is the “wrong” career).

    This verse is calling husbands to love their wives. Loving someone does not include considering them property, or allowing them to be considered property.

    What if your husband fails in this regard? Does that excuse you of your obligation? Why or why not?

    This is what the phrase “God gave them over to…” means…..So He took a step back and left them to their own devices, waited for them to realize that He was right and they were wrong.

    So their “own devices”–their inherent desires–were to be attracted to members of the same sex? So you are agreeing that these inclinations were not freely chosen? And they were to learn this was “wrong”… how? By being tortured for all eternity? God is rather pathetic teacher, in that case (and a remarkably petty bugger considering he is supposedly omnipotent).

    Arlene, do you honestly, honestly believe that people can simply choose who they are attracted to? Can you? You keep dodging this question. Can you simply choose what sort of food you like? Can you choose what music you like? Can you choose what you think is true? Why do you suppose it is so for homosexuals?

    Jesus never really fought against the religious oppressors of His day.

    Don’t equivocate. “Fought” in this context obviously means “actively opposed,” not “resisted with physical force.”

    I have already made a difference in my church…

    This is wonderful, and shows that you are a better person than most Christians I’ve encountered.

    I believe the Bible is true. That will not be changing.

    Well, this is a problem–are you saying that no evidence or circumstance would lead you to change your view? I don’t know of any atheist who wouldn’t become a theist if sufficient evidence were presented for the existence of any gods or god. How can you see it fit to make this claim? What do you find so compelling about the bible in the first place? Why don’t you believe the Koran or some other book is true, and not the bible? Could you simply choose to believe some other book is true and the bible is false?

    And to everyone, I have a question: where do you think morality comes from? This is not a trick or loaded question; I’m genuinely curious.

    Morality “comes from” human beings. It certainly doesn’t “come from” any gods; it can’t–see Euthyrphro dilemma.( This whole “comes from” phrasing is bizarre–where does art “come from”? Where do governments “come from”?).

  • http://www.bernerbits.com/ Derek

    where do you think morality comes from?

    As others have already stated, hard-wired definitions of “good” and “bad” that allow members of the species to function well together can lead to socialization which is an immense benefit to a species. Other social species have wired-in moral codes and they don’t need a Bible or a god to give it to them.

  • Siamang

    Arlene said

    A question for a question: Could a person be born with a sexual attraction to children?

    First off, you didn’t answer my question first.

    Gee, how like a christian to change the subject rather than answer a question. We never see that around here.

    Second off, I didn’t talk about people being born with a sexual attraction, but rather that it wasn’t chosen.

    Third, you’re the one pulling in child-molesters into this argument… which is a total fucking canard because A) it’s tarring consenting adults with a brush of evil, and B) child molestation involves victimization of another unwilling and/or unable to make decisions partner. And DUH.

    Way to have your bigotry show, Arlene Do you equate adult male-female consenting relationships to rape? Oh, no? Why is that? Would that be a fair discussion? Is it okay in casual discussion of male-female roles to ever-so-subtly link men with non-consentual sexual assault?

    Gee, a Christian saying “but I love gays!” meanwhile they compare them to child molesters. Yeah, we never get that around here either.

    My daughter’s grandmothers are gay. Take back your analogy or you’ve told me all I need to hear from you in this discussion.

  • Richard Wade

    Arlene,

    In your comment on Feb 5 at 11:37pm you copied two separate statements of mine from two separate comments and pasted them into a seamless single statement, making it appear to be an original single statement. Whether or not that changes my meaning, and regardless of why you did that, that is a serious no-no in a forum like this. There is an etiquette on blogs and that is a breach. I write my comments very carefully and resent having them re-written for any reason. Quote me correctly or not at all.

    You persist in your absurd assertion that homosexuals consciously choose their preference of attraction, despite evidence to the contrary. You ignore my questions, arguments and examples offered against that assertion and only offer a story about small children you have been with not expressing any crush on someone of the same sex. Of course they don’t express that. Firstly, it’s too soon for most of those who are innately homosexual to even be aware of it, and secondly they are already strongly socialized against expressing anything like that on pain of humiliation and ostracizing by teachers, parents and peers. You persist in playing amateur psychologist, pretending that you know best how human sexuality develops simply to defend the church’s rationalization for its anti-gay policies, and only bemoan the harsh way some Christians apply that policy. You bring in comparisons to pedophiles and murderers asking if that is an argument against social restrictions if their traits are naturally occurring, a ridiculous straw man, and finally, you throw out an off-topic red herring about where morality comes from.

    This is a waste of my time. I concede defeat in the face of your dedicated ignorance. I leave it to the more patient people here to continue to poke holes in your arguments although it is futile to expect that you will even consider for a moment that your opinion about the etiology of homosexuality is incorrect. The fact that you are nice to gays and have even worked to get other Christians to be nice to gays is laudable, but that has nothing to with the fact that your theory about how gays become gay has no basis in reality. Rational arguments and evidence are of no effect because you are busy defending a belief. You don’t like bigotry but you continue to defend a baseless lie that bigots use to justify their bigotry. So don’t worry, you’re not a bigot, just a bigot enabler.

  • Arlene

    Could you, at least for the sake of argument, grant for a moment that homosexuality is NOT a choice, and then justify why it’s wrong?

    If I believed that homosexuality is not a choice, then certainly I would not be able to justify that it is wrong. Herein lies the proverbial brick wall between us.

    Re your comment on Paul and women, did you really think I hadn’t read the full context? You think too little of me. :( A man can love his dog and treat it with reverence, but the dog is still his property and has no say in what happens to it. It’s nice of Paul to admonish men to love their wives, but that doesn’t change the fact that wives are supposed to be submissive to their husbands. Are you ok with this? If your ever-so-loving husband made a decision about your life that you violently disagreed with, would you meekly submit to him the way Paul says you should?

    If my ever-so-loving husband made a decision about my life that I violently disagreed with, those verses state that he should love me enough to listen to my disagreement, and respect that. Respect is a great part of love, as is compromise, and putting the other person before yourself.
    Love is a very complicated thing that encompasses a whole lot more than people usually consciously think about.

    The problem here is you’ve chosen to ignore all the evidence we’ve presented and try to dismiss it with philosophical musings. I understand how that helps you reconcile the issue in your mind, but to us, it’s intellectually dishonest. We’re asking you to look at the facts and give an honest answer. Instead, you’re offering philosophical musings of sociopathy and paedophilia.

    If you read carefully, I did not introduce sociopathy into this discussion. I responded when it was brought up, but never in a way that compared it to homosexuality. Sociopathy and homosexuality are two different topics entirely.
    I see that my posts increasingly stop offering answers and start offering questions, and I apologize. I will try to begin answering more questions.

    So, you mean your primary concern when dealing with people who have dangerous personality flaws is not having them removed from the places where they can do harm? Would you be 100% comfortable if a “reformed” child molester or sociopath were attending your church services and living in your neighborhood?

    I believe that the wrong that people do are conscious choices, not personality flaws. This is a Christian fundamental. Therefore, if a reformed child molester or sociopath were attending my church services and living in my neighborhood, I would do my best not to judge them for what they have done in the past. I try not to judge people, because I know what it’s like to be judged and it’s not fun.
    As for people who were not reformed, certainly they should be put in prison and punished for the wrong that they have done. Choices have consequences-another Christian fundamental.

    Assumption? It is obvious that bible is not accurate; just read any few pages of it critically.

    Thank you for the advice. It is good advice, and I have been reading the Bible critically ever since I was fifteen. I have also told others to do the same. I still haven’t found grounds to believe that the Bible is inaccurate. (Yes, I did follow the link to the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible.)

    Your analogy to careers is also false (unless you think that being an artist is the “right” career and being an architect or teacher is the “wrong” career).

    It seems I was not clear: this was meant to illustrate that they want to be an artist, and then when they realize that there are different types of artists they choose something more specific. With that in mind, children would know about sexuality, but would choose something more specific once their options are presented to them.

    Well, this is a problem–are you saying that no evidence or circumstance would lead you to change your view? I don’t know of any atheist who wouldn’t become a theist if sufficient evidence were presented for the existence of any gods or god. How can you see it fit to make this claim? What do you find so compelling about the bible in the first place? Why don’t you believe the Koran or some other book is true, and not the bible? Could you simply choose to believe some other book is true and the bible is false?

    Again, I apologize for my wording. My writing often confuses people, and I suppose I should learn to be more concise. If something happened to make me fully and one hundred percent believe that there is no God, I would be an atheist. Plenty of things have happened to me that have made me question my faith. And I mean deeply question, as in prepared to abandon at the slightest proof that it was false. Every time, I become reconvinced that God is not only real, but that He is my answer.
    I believe the Bible because I believed in God first. God is someone that I love so much, I want to do what He wants, not out of obligation, but out of wanting to please Him. And even if I screw up, He’s still there, ready to give me another chance. God is a very personal God.
    That is what is so compelling about the Bible: it’s things that God wants to say to me.
    My wording on that reflected that I do not forsee my beliefs changing.

    First off, you didn’t answer my question first.

    You are absolutely right, and I apologize. Here is my answer.
    Of course I could be attracted to another woman. But I choose not to. I choose not to even entertain the idea of being attracted to a woman, and I’m very happy as a heterosexual. I disagree with your saying that this might mean I’m bisexual. I often do things without thinking; I don’t think my self-censor works properly. If I were denying a natural instinct, I would be a lot unhappier than I am.

    You persist in playing amateur psychologist, pretending that you know best how human sexuality develops simply to defend the church’s rationalization for its anti-gay policies, and only bemoan the harsh way some Christians apply that policy. You bring in comparisons to pedophiles and murderers asking if that is an argument against social restrictions if their traits are naturally occurring, a ridiculous straw man, and finally, you throw out an off-topic red herring about where morality comes from.

    I am not intending to pretend that I know best how human sexuality develops, although I realize how it could sound that way. I was merely using a situation in my own life that has helped me reach the conclusions that I have reached. Again, I was not the one to introduce murderers to the discussion.
    The pedophilia question was undoubtedly straw man, and I have apologized to everyone for it below.
    The question about morality was an honest inquiry, a last minute question that popped into my head. I had yet to hear a detailed explanation of morality outside of church, and I wanted to hear a few. Admittedly, it was off-topic. But I was not in any way intending to apply it to the discussion at hand, and I certainly did not intend it as a red herring.

    Rational arguments and evidence are of no effect because you are busy defending a belief.

    Isn’t everyone here defending a belief? Isn’t everyone defending something they believe in?

    Way to have your bigotry show, Arlene Do you equate adult male-female consenting relationships to rape? Oh, no? Why is that? Would that be a fair discussion? Is it okay in casual discussion of male-female roles to ever-so-subtly link men with non-consentual sexual assault?

    Gee, a Christian saying “but I love gays!” meanwhile they compare them to child molesters. Yeah, we never get that around here either.

    My daughter’s grandmothers are gay. Take back your analogy or you’ve told me all I need to hear from you in this discussion.

    I apologize for my question regarding pedophilia. Many people were insulted by it, and I see that it is faulty logic. I am willing to admit when I am wrong, and this is definitely one of those times.
    I’m sorry.

    In your comment on Feb 5 at 11:37pm you copied two separate statements of mine from two separate comments and pasted them into a seamless single statement, making it appear to be an original single statement. Whether or not that changes my meaning, and regardless of why you did that, that is a serious no-no in a forum like this. There is an etiquette on blogs and that is a breach. I write my comments very carefully and resent having them re-written for any reason. Quote me correctly or not at all.

    I apologize for re-writing your comments. I re-read everything and tried to make sure that no meaning was lost, but looking back I realize that I would be very upset if someone were to do that to me. I should have distinguished that the two were separate comments, and I’m sorry. I will not do it again.

  • Richard Wade

    Arlene,
    You have remarkable endurance. To Felicia Gilljam’s remark,

    Could you, at least for the sake of argument, grant for a moment that homosexuality is NOT a choice, and then justify why it’s wrong?

    you responded with,

    If I believed that homosexuality is not a choice, then certainly I would not be able to justify that it is wrong. Herein lies the proverbial brick wall between us.

    Now, I fully understand that you said that in the context of responding to her hypothetical suggestion just for the sake of exploring her argument, and I will not try to distort your intended meaning in your response, but with your indulgence, I would like to use your remark in a different context, just to help you understand how I see you, (or you might very well say how I misunderstand you.) I apologize to you ahead of time because analyzing someone is basically rude and fraught with risk for error. I am doing this to help you understand my assumptions about you, and to possibly gain some accurate understanding of you. I have no illusions of ever changing your mind, whether I have portrayed it accurately here or not. Maybe with more understanding I can help somewhere else to reduce the persecution of gays that both you and I find revolting.

    I think it is very important to you to believe that homosexuality is a choice precisely because without that you could not justify it as wrong. That would mean that your Bible and the god portrayed in it would not be justified in calling it wrong, nor in condemning homosexuals. I said earlier that you are not effected by rational arguments or evidence on this subject because you are defending a belief. This is what I was talking about, a process of denial. Your poverty of evidence for it being a choice, the wealth of evidence that it is not a choice, your inability to explain why anyone would ever make such a choice, your inability to explain why it is so extremely unlikely for anyone despite tremendous effort to be able to reverse that choice, all that bounces off of your unflagging faith in your belief about choice. I also think that the few references in the Bible that may, with some loose interpretation, vaguely imply that it is a choice, you do not really find very compelling. I think you cling to this only because you think that without it the blatant unfairness threatens to undermine what you have decided is an entirely accurate book. I think your fearful process goes something like this:

    If gays are born that way –> Condemning them is not fair –> God is not fair –> That can’t be, so the Bible is wrong on this –> If the Bible is wrong on that, there may be other things wrong too. –> Those reassuring stories of everlasting life might be wrong too –> Nothingness death is very scary to me–> Gayness MUST be a choice!

    This whole thing is so fragile, like a house of cards that can collapse with the removal of just one card way down at the corner. If gays are born that way, your universe implodes into terror of annihilation.

    That catastrophic collapse is not necessary if only you can see that the essence of your faith is not threatened just because a few details in an old book are wrong. Shrug your shoulders about the whole gay thing. I strongly suspect that you already ignore and shrug off large parts of Leviticus anyway, (your clothes, your food, your rituals, death penalties for all sorts of transgressions) so why not that ugly, unfair and just plain wrong part too?

    Once again I apologize for analyzing you. I have risked it because you demonstrate toughness in the face of multilateral challenges, and for the sake of possibly gaining some insight and understanding of you and of those who share this same belief that leads to so much unnecessary suffering.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Arlene – Thanks for sticking with us. However, I don’t actually have the stamina for this. I’m just going to note that if you think you’ve read the bible critically, while refusing to believe facts about the real world because they contradict the bible … you haven’t read the bible critically. You’ve already decided that it’s true and you’re going to do everything in your power to keep believing that it is, even though there’s such ample evidence to the contrary.

    Can I just ask, do you believe in the literal truth of all of the bible? Or do you only believe in the “moral” truth of the New Testament? Or what?

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    I believe that the wrong that people do are conscious choices, not personality flaws.

    Arlene, if something is pathologically wrong with one’s brain, their consciousness can be altered. This is medical fact. This is also why it is dangerous to suggest that someone with pathological behaviors can ever truly reform. However, it’s fairly clear from your wording that this is a foundational belief for you, and I’m fine with agreeing to disagree.

    Do you believe that consciousness comes from the brain? If not, what purpose do you believe the brain serves? If not from the brain, where do you believe consciousness comes from? Do you believe animals possess consciousness and can make willful choices?

    And if your answers conflict with all modern medical and scientific findings, are you comfortable with that?

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    Sorry for the postwhoring. When I finish a thought I tend to just submit it.

    If something happened to make me fully and one hundred percent believe that there is no God, I would be an atheist.

    This is an illuminating statement and helps me see where you’re coming from. In the interest of mutual illumination, let me just try and clarify the position of many atheists on this site (and I don’t mean to presume to speak for everyone, just as a disclaimer, but I feel this to be fairly accurate).

    Atheism is not a position of of 100% certainty. Many atheists understand that those kinds of absolutes are an absurdity. However, given that the claims made about God by most theistic religions are fairly specific and extraordinary, we expect to see compelling evidence to back up those claims.

    For example, if God is all-loving and all-powerful, we might expect not to see suffering in the world, and yet we do. If God interacts with the world, we might expect to see extraordinary things occurring that have no naturalistic explanation, and yet we do not. If God interacts with people on a spiritual rather than physical level, we might see everyone the world over reaching the same theological conclusions, and yet they do not.

    In other words, if we had hard evidence that made us even 40-60% sure God or something like it existed, many of us might be compelled to become theists in one form or another.

    If I am not mistaken, your position seems to be starting from one of Christianity and interpreting evidence from that position. Atheism, by contrast, states that in the absence of strong evidence, the most likely conclusion is that no gods exist. Arlene, it seems (to us at least) that it’s almost impossible to arrive at Christianity without, in some sense, starting there. How do you deal with this apparent problem?

    Also, like others before, I would like to thank you for your tenacity here, as many of the Christians and other theists who come here (not to mention one very angry atheist!!) become upset and hostile when they realize they are failing at winning us over to their line of thinking, and let you know I appreciate your candor and willingness to discuss without letting it get ugly.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    In general, I think the argument over whether homosexuality is a choice or pre-determined is a false dichotomy. I believe that some people are apparently hard-wired towards GLBT dispositions, and I believe that some people who are not hard-wired as such consciously choose GLBT dispositions. I also firmly believe that a person with GLBT dispositions can turn off that switch, with no ill consequence to their psychological / emotional constitution.

    Felicia Gilljam,

    …to everyone who has desires that are in some way deviant from the norm, it’s abundantly clear that it’s not by choice. (February 6th, 2009 at 6:21 am)

    Well, I don’t accept your out-of-scope quantifier of everyone, but that’s a minor quibble. Do you support punishing people for that which they have no choice in the matter? If yes, when and why? Do you suggest that pedophiles should repress their true feelings? I imagine you’ll say, like Derek, that inborn tendencies are ‘wrong’ or meriting punishment only when they bring ill consequence to society. But then you have to make yourself the arbiter of ill consequence to society, and in my eyes, that makes you no different than the religious – just reasoning from a different reason.

    Derek,

    I’m not sure where this point is getting lost, but I’ll just say it again: permitting gay people the right to just be themselves within a church family has no ill consequences on the larger community. Granting a sociopath the same right to be him/herself and thus rape and murder freely, on the other hand, has obvious ill effects. That you fail to see this distinction is troubling to say the least. (February 5th, 2009 at 1:19 pm)

    I was the one who introduced sociopaths and murderers into this discussion, and when I did so, it was with full acknowledgement that the comment would likely be misunderstood. In general, and specifically as someone with a murdered family member, I see this distinction rather clearly. This is why I answered an emphatic “No” to all three of Richard Wade’s questions in my comment February 4th, 2009 at 5:57 pm. At any rate, your argument here breaks down to, “That which brings ill consequence to society merits punishment.” Okay, but on this logic, if the majority of human beings were to suddenly accept murder, rape, or pedophilia, these actions would no longer be wrong or meriting punishment. See comments below to Arlene re religious sacrifice.

    You can talk all you want about pedophiles and sociopaths, and while it is true that their behaviors and desires are hard-wired in their brains, these behaviors and desires produce ill effects on society, while the behaviors and desires of homosexuals do not. (February 6th, 2009 at 11:02 am)

    So essentially, you make yourself the judge and arbiter of what produces ill consequences on society, and that’s exactly what you’re pestering Arlene about. Can you see why one might view this as special pleading?

    Do you believe that consciousness comes from the brain? If not, what purpose do you believe the brain serves? And if your answers conflict with all modern medical and scientific findings, are you comfortable with that? (February 7th, 2009 at 8:58 am, emph. mine)

    It’s hard to say what you mean by comes from. I believe that destroying a lightbulb’s filament will stop the light, but I don’t believe such entails that the light comes from the filament.

    And if your answers conflict with all modern medical and scientific findings, are you comfortable with that? (February 7th, 2009 at 8:58 am)

    In science, when answers conflict with current knowledge, that means one of two things: We’re either on the cusp of a revolutionary discovery, or we’re just plain wrong. People told Einstein he was nuts, and no, I’m not comparing Arlene with Einstein.

    J Myers,

    Morality “comes from” human beings. (February 6th, 2009 at 11:23 am)

    Interesting position. If true, then how did other social animals acquire morality?

    Arlene,

    The logic that I am seeing states that sexuality is genetic and not a choice. Therefore, according to this logic, a sexual attraction to children would also be genetic, and therefore not warrant punishment. (February 5th, 2009 at 11:37 pm)

    I feel that pedophilia should be punished, and I presume you do as well. However, like you, what I’m curious to know is how an atheist can justify their position that pedophilia should be punished. And no, I’m not arguing that atheists can’t be moral, so nobody go there. If we are merely the by-product of our genetic hard-wiring, is it really our fault when we’re born with socially destructive tendencies? Is it fair or correct to punish somebody who is merely acting on pre-determined feelings? In one case your opponents say Yes, in other cases they say No. And the only justification offered is that in the cases where your opponents say Yes, that the genetic hard-wiring in question leads to ill consequences in society. Yet in saying this, they make themselves the arbiters of ill consequence, no different than the religious folk, and this in light of the fact that many acts can have ill consequences on society, so where do we draw the line? Many societies have held veneration for informed consent religious sacrifice, and believed such to bring positive consequences to their society. Then, was such sacrifice ‘right’ for those societies? Some may say No, by the same logic we say pedophilia merits punishment, but that’s founded on the ideas that pedophilia is non-consenting and brings ill consequences to society. The societies who practiced informed consent sacrifice may not agree that such sacrifice brings ill consequences to society, and who are we to judge other consenting adults?

    Siamang,

    Gee, a Christian saying “but I love gays!” meanwhile they compare them to child molesters. Yeah, we never get that around here either. (February 6th, 2009 at 11:45 am)

    I think the misconstruing is possibly your own. For example, when I asked Richard Wade my question about sociopaths and murderers, it wasn’t to compare GLBT folk to sociopaths and murderers – quite contrary, it was to draw a distinction.

    Richard Wade,

    If you finally tire with Arlene, would you care to answer my questions as clarified in my comment to you February 5th, 2009 at 7:17 pm? I imagine you’ll take the position I’m gleaning from the rest of this thread, which is that GLBT folk don’t merit punishment because their actions do not bring ill consequence to society. If so, how would you parse my above sentiments to Arlene re religous sacrifice?

    Incidentally, to Arlene you said,

    Nothingness death is very scary to me (February 7th, 2009 at 3:49 am)

    I’ve never understood why skeptics shoot this arrow at believers. To me, judgment is a far scarier proposition than cessation of consciousness. If atheism is correct, death will be no different than the last time I got drunk, fell off my bike, hit my head in the road and blacked out. That wasn’t scary at all. In fact, I didn’t even know it had happened.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    Fine, cl. I capitulate. Murder, rape and paedophilia only can be said to produce ill effects on society because the majority of people consider them bad. NOT because they can be shown, empirically, to be antithetical to the concept of community and society.

    What bullshit. Come back when you have a real argument.

    I believe that destroying a lightbulb’s filament will stop the light, but I don’t believe such entails that the light comes from the filament.

    Oh geez. Electrons passing through the filament produce light. It’s still a physical process. To clarify, the question is is consciousness purely a function of the brain or is some supernatural force required? Now you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    So essentially, you make yourself the judge and arbiter of what produces ill consequences on society, and that’s exactly what you’re pestering Arlene about.

    OK then. Tell me what detrimental consequence on society comes from homosexuality. And no “I don’t know but God says there is”. I mean actually enlighten me as to what this detrimental effect is.

  • Arlene

    I also think that the few references in the Bible that may, with some loose interpretation, vaguely imply that it is a choice, you do not really find very compelling.

    On the contrary, I find the verses in Romans very compelling, especially the usage of the words “natural” and “unnatural.”

    If gays are born that way –> Condemning them is not fair –> God is not fair –> That can’t be, so the Bible is wrong on this –> If the Bible is wrong on that, there may be other things wrong too. –> Those reassuring stories of everlasting life might be wrong too –> Nothingness death is very scary to me–> Gayness MUST be a choice!

    Here is my flowchart:
    If gays were born that way -> condemning them is not fair -> God is not fair -> This can’t be, so the Bible may be wrong on this -> But the Bible has proven true to me every time I have examined it -> I have no reason to doubt what the Bible says -> gayness is a choice.

    Why would God single out one natural trait to be punished, especially since the rest of the things warranting punishment are blatant choices?
    This is way up there on my list of things that make no sense.
    I believe that God punishes choices to do wrong, not natural traits.
    Also, why would nothingness death be scary? What is scary about nothing? I wouldn’t even be alive to experience it. To me, the idea of hell is much scarier than nothingness.

    Shrug your shoulders about the whole gay thing.

    If my interpretation of your use of the term is correct, you think I should just accept that there’s a glitch or two -including the parts about homosexuality- in the Bible, but believe the other parts anyway if I want to.
    I have no reason not to believe the whole Bible.
    The church views me as “shrugging my shoulders at the whole gay thing,” but to them that means that I shrug my shoulders and say, “So what? Jesus loves them, even if He isn’t crazy about their choices. Why shouldn’t I do the same thing?”

    I strongly suspect that you already ignore and shrug off large parts of Leviticus anyway, (your clothes, your food, your rituals, death penalties for all sorts of transgressions) so why not that ugly, unfair and just plain wrong part too?

    Leviticus was a list of instructions given to the ancient Israelites after they were delivered from their slavery in Egypt. The laws deal either with the safety of the Israelites (Namely the laws governing foods) or with the need for making the Israelites worthy to be in God’s presence (head coverings, death penalties, sacrifices.)
    The Old Testament laws are viewed as finicky, needlessly specific and impossible to follow perfectly. Guess what? They are!
    Acts 13:38-39-
    38″Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”
    The whole point of the law of Moses (Leviticus included) was to show that Jesus is the only way that we can be justified.
    I have no need to follow the law of Moses, because it is not necessary: I have gained justification through Jesus. Even the Ten Commandments are summed up in the New Testament (Matthew 22:36-40)
    The rules in the New Testament are ways simple, and again boil down to making choices.
    I’m sorry, that’s a really long answer with a whole lot of Bible in it. But I could think of no other way to explain things without being vague.

    Once again I apologize for analyzing you. I have risked it because you demonstrate toughness in the face of multilateral challenges, and for the sake of possibly gaining some insight and understanding of you and of those who share this same belief that leads to so much unnecessary suffering.

    I don’t mind being analyzed. I can see how my thinking can be interpreted that way, and it’s helpful to know how I’m viewed. And, sadly, your flowchart analysis is probably true for some Christians. You’re correct in saying that it’s a flimsy way of thinking, and I wish they were willing to leave their bubble and do some thinking.
    I realize that my personal “house of cards” may seem flimsy to you, but so far it hasn’t been knocked over.

    Can I just ask, do you believe in the literal truth of all of the bible? Or do you only believe in the “moral” truth of the New Testament? Or what?

    I believe in the truth of the whole Bible. Truth is truth, no matter how you describe it. If you look above, you’ll see the reason for all of the strict rules of the Old Testament.
    The Old Testament reflects a few things: God’s perfection, man’s imperfection, and the vast difference between the two. It shows the need for a bridge. The New Testament shows the way to the Bridge and how to cross it, and what will happen if we choose to cross, or not to cross.
    I don’t see a way to take one part of the Bible without the other.

    Do you believe that consciousness comes from the brain? If not, what purpose do you believe the brain serves? If not from the brain, where do you believe consciousness comes from? Do you believe animals possess consciousness and can make willful choices?

    And if your answers conflict with all modern medical and scientific findings, are you comfortable with that?

    I believe that physical consciousness comes from the brain. I believe the soul is what makes a person conscious of the supernatural. Obviously, animals have physical consciousness, but animals do not have souls.
    I’m sure there is plenty of science that states that I am crazy and severely misguided.
    But there is science that states the soul exists, as well.

    Arlene, it seems (to us at least) that it’s almost impossible to arrive at Christianity without, in some sense, starting there. How do you deal with this apparent problem?

    Here’s the thing about Christianity: science can only take a person so far. While there are biological arguments and philosophical arguments and psychological arguments and many other “-ogical” arguments, there comes a point where science stops. There are plenty of things about Christianity that can’t be explained by science: Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, for example. That’s where the faith comes in. After all, if a person doesn’t want to believe something, they won’t, and they will find reasons not to. (I think that the Flat Earth Society is a great example of this.) I will say it again, faith is the key to looking at things from a Christian perspective.

    And to everyone: I would like to clarify: I did not enter this discussion to change anyone’s mind, to make them conform to my beliefs.
    To be honest, I didn’t even think that one comment posted on a blog would become the discussion that it has. So far, this discussion has been incredibly fascinating, and it certainly has kept me on my toes.
    Thank you all for asking me questions and giving me things to think about.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Derek,

    First – Way to dodge and get pissee! Way to look before you leap! Okay, now that that’s out of my system… ;)

    Second, I wasn’t really making any particular argument to you, rather asking some questions and presenting some counter-scenarios that would entail you to further justify a few of your responses to Arlene. Perhaps you simply misunderstood them, perhaps you just dodged them, perhaps something else, I don’t know. Problem is, your responses didn’t answer any of my questions, and actually suggested to me that you potentially misunderstood the majority of them. For example, the following:

    Fine, cl. I capitulate. Murder, rape and paedophilia only can be said to produce ill effects on society because the majority of people consider them bad. NOT because they can be shown, empirically, to be antithetical to the concept of community and society. (February 7th, 2009 at 10:09 pm)

    Such is nowhere near my position if that’s what you meant to imply, and the question is whether murder, rape and pedophilia are morally wrong and/or meriting punishment should the majority of people in any particular society suddently reverse their opinions opinions about them. It’s a counterfactual posited to further draw out your position; I’m trying to dig into your reasoning here. If it’s valid, I might even accept it.

    Third, I’m sorry you didn’t think enough to realize the lightbulb analogy answered the pertinent question in the negative. So, I guess instead of assuming you’d have thought it through, I have to be a bit more direct with you: No, Derek, I don’t think consciousness is purely a function of the brain.

    Fourth, I object to your either/or fallacy, which occurs when we present a limited number of options when other viable options clearly exist. It is perfectly reasonable that consciousness is analogous to an interface between the brain and some natural source.

    Fifth, the following statement is interesting:

    OK then. Tell me what detrimental consequence on society comes from homosexuality. (February 7th, 2009 at 10:19 pm)

    That’s interesting because it is founded upon the presupposition that I believe homosexuality has a detrimental consequence on society.

    Sixth, apparently you’re not a friendly atheist, which is of course your right that I also pay taxes for, and I have no problem with that. I actually happen to love responding to unfriendly atheists, especially when their arguments are faltering, but I’ve seen the damage that dialog with unfriendly atheists can do to forums when I’m involved. It just gets old and draining. So, the tone of your next response to me will determine whether I actually respond to you on this forum ever again, or simply let you blather away in pissee little screeds while misunderstanding and/or ignoring complicated questions and basic analogies, and interjecting logical fallacies of false dichotomy and presupposition into your responses, while ironically denouncing your opponent for not having a real argument.

    Seventh, to any atheists who wish to persuade non-atheists of the superiority of their ideas, don’t take notes from Derek.

    And last but not least, apologies, Hemant, if I’ve stepped out of line. If Derek is willing to assume an attitude of basic courtesy, perhaps I’ll continue with him, but you can rest assured that Derek and I won’t be butting heads on your forum ever again.

    Arlene,

    If gays were born that way -> condemning them is not fair -> God is not fair -> This can’t be, so the Bible may be wrong on this -> But the Bible has proven true to me every time I have examined it -> I have no reason to doubt what the Bible says -> gayness is a choice.

    Although I feel the choice / hard-wired argument is a false dichotomy, I do believe that this was a cogent response. Now I might be wrong, and I usually think long and hard about using an all-exclusive quantifier, but the only possible response I can see involves attacking your statement that the Bible has proven itself true to you, and depending on the definitions of true and false that we agree on, that can be alot like attacking someone’s favorite flavor of ice cream.

    I believe that physical consciousness comes from the brain. I believe the soul is what makes a person conscious of the supernatural. Obviously, animals have physical consciousness, but animals do not have souls. I’m sure there is plenty of science that states that I am crazy and severely misguided.

    You probably already know, but there is a frontier experiment from about 100 years ago that directly supports your reasoning about animals here. Note the negative results with canines.

    But there is science that states the soul exists, as well.

    You’ve got me curious, and I thank you in advance for providing any links, if you happen to come back. I got the feeling the above was your last comment.

    BTW, I enjoyed reading your comments, and I’m being sincere not sarcastic.

  • Arlene

    I got the feeling the above was your last comment.

    I will continue to answer questions for as long as people continue to ask them.

  • J Myers

    Arlene, I’ll likely post again tomorrow.

    cl, regarding your question to me–are you serious?

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    Arlene,

    Didn’t mean to assume, just thought when you thanked everyone earlier that was like a courteous parting shot or so. But yes, my question is – you said “there is science that states the soul exists” – and I was just wondering if you could point me towards what it is you have in mind?

  • J Myers

    Long day… began writing a comment, but haven’t finished… will post tomorrow with the hope that some interest still lingers.

  • J Myers

    Of course I could be attracted to another woman. But I choose not to. I choose not to even entertain the idea of being attracted to a woman….

    Then what makes you think that you could be? Do you suppose you could you be attracted to any woman? I asked you some questions about what you think can be consciously chosen, and what cannot. Apart from your apparent insistence that sexual attraction is an act of will, you have not answered these questions, nor have you offered any explanation as to what distinguishes the things that you think can be chosen from those that you think cannot.

    …and I’m very happy as a heterosexual. I disagree with your saying that this might mean I’m bisexual….If I were denying a natural instinct, I would be a lot unhappier than I am.

    Well, if you were bisexual, you wouldn’t be denying a natural instinct by being in a heterosexual relationship, anymore than a heterosexual would be denying their natural instincts by being in a heterosexual relationship.

    If my ever-so-loving husband made a decision about my life that I violently disagreed with, those verses state that he should love me enough to listen to my disagreement, and respect that.

    I’ve seen no one claim that your husband shouldn’t act this way, but what if he doesn’t? Do you submit and endure, or do you protest? Why or why not?

    If you read carefully, I did not introduce sociopathy into this discussion.

    This is an intellectually dishonest reply to a comment that was questioning your intellectual honesty! No one claimed that you introduced sociopathy to the discussion, only that you commented about it. Which you acknowledge… while completely ignoring the context in which the original comment was made (that being your insistence in an unsupported position, despite evidence to the contrary).

    I believe that the wrong that people do are conscious choices, not personality flaws. This is a Christian fundamental.

    But your standard of “wrong” is what, exactly? Granting for the sake of discussion that your particular god exists and that your interpretation of the bible is accurate, what makes something “wrong”? Is it merely God’s arbitrary declaration, or is there some standard which determines “wrong” apart from God? If the former, why should we agree, other than to save ourselves from a rather unpleasant afterlife? If the latter, why would we need to consult God in the first place, what in your opinion would this standard be, and how does it apply to homosexual relations?

    As for people who were not reformed, certainly they should be put in prison and punished for the wrong that they have done. Choices have consequences-another Christian fundamental.

    Calling a trivially observable fact about the world a “Christian fundamental” doesn’t exactly speak to the supposed insights of Christianity, especially when the consequences you speak of can be brought about by humans with no necessary connection to Christianity.

    Isn’t everyone here defending a belief? Isn’t everyone defending something they believe in?

    You appear to be defending an a priori belief that you can’t (at least, haven’t yet) managed to support. We are defending an a posteriori belief for which we have supplied evidence and supporting argument, which has yet to be countered by anything other than your persistent disagreement.

    If I believed that homosexuality is not a choice, then certainly I would not be able to justify that it is wrong.

    You’ve got a bigger problem than that–you still have to justify that it is wrong even if it is a choice. And if you’re going to appeal to God here, you first need to address the Euthyphro dilemma.

    You appear to be admitting that you’re merely arguing from consequences (though as I’ve just observed, you seem to have misjudged the consequences). You certainly haven’t supported your position that homosexuality is always a choice, you simply note that it’s inconvenient to your case for it not to be. Even though you claim that you personally posses the ability to choose which sex you are attracted to, you state that you have never even entertained the idea of choosing… which is more consistent with our position (that such things aren’t generally chosen; you just aren’t attracted to the same sex).

    I have a number of points I’d like to make regarding your subsequent post, but I’m losing steam, so I’ll just go with this one for now:

    If gays were born that way -> condemning them is not fair -> God is not fair -> This can’t be, so the Bible may be wrong on this -> But the Bible has proven true to me every time I have examined it -> I have no reason to doubt what the Bible says -> gayness is a choice.

    Your reasoning here is nothing short of horrific. First, even if the bible were correct on every other matter, it does not follow that it is correct regarding this particular matter. Second, that you claim the bible to have “always proven true” suggests that you haven’t examined very much of it, or that you’ve ignored the myriad ways in which it is lacking (one example: no geological evidence of a world-wide flood), so you lose even the weak, pseudo-inductive argument that you might have otherwise claimed. Third, any supposed truth that you identified upon examination of the bible was “proven true”–how? I would presume by weighing the claims of the bible against some extra-biblical evidence (which, incidentally, suggests that any truth you found in the bible could have, in principle, been discovered without the bible). If you were reaching your conclusion by engaging in the same sort of analysis here, you would be comparing (your interpretation of) the claims of the bible regarding homosexuality to real-world evidence… and yet when you do this, you cannot produce any evidence to support the biblical position, while you have been presented with evidence that challenges this position. Your conclusion remains unsubstantiated logically and empirically, yet you simply refuse to abandon it. Circumstances such as this are undoubtedly the motivation behind the oft-repeated Steve Weinberg quote:

    Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.

    Anyhow, I appreciate your willingness to discuss this matter despite the abundance of criticism you’ve encountered. If you’re still interested in continuing, I’m up for a few more exchanges.

  • Arlene

    But yes, my question is – you said “there is science that states the soul exists” – and I was just wondering if you could point me towards what it is you have in mind?

    I would advise you to get your hands on a copy of “The Science of the Soul” by Kevin T. Favero. It is based entirely upon mainstream science (think quantum physics and biology.)

    I asked you some questions about what you think can be consciously chosen, and what cannot. Apart from your apparent insistence that sexual attraction is an act of will, you have not answered these questions, nor have you offered any explanation as to what distinguishes the things that you think can be chosen from those that you think cannot.

    I realize that I haven’t answered a whole lot of questions, and again, I apologize. I would like to answer them, but I’m afraid I will have to wait until I have more time. I’m rather busy for the next few days, but I will post a response as soon as I am able. I am very willing to have a few more exchanges with you on this, as well as with anyone else who would like to ask some questions.

  • J Myers

    Arlene, thanks, take your time… it’s not as though I was all that prompt in posting my last comment, and I’ll be fairly busy the next few days, myself.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Arlene, I don’t really care about the debate about whether homosexuality is caused by genetics, because I (1) think it’s not a simple yes/no thing and (2) don’t think it really matters. But if you find the time to come back, I’d be curious to hear your explanation of this statement:

    Of course I could be attracted to another woman. But I choose not to. I choose not to even entertain the idea of being attracted to a woman. . .

    I find this statement rather baffling. How would you go about choosing to be attracted to another woman? I have no idea how I would go about choosing to be attracted to someone I wasn’t already attracted to. Could you choose to be sexually attracted to anything at all? Like a canoe? Or the Encyclopedia Brittannica? I know I sould like I’m being silly, but I really don’t understand why you think you could just choose to be attracted to women, when you’re not now.

  • Arlene

    I’m posting to let everyone know that I’m still here, and to apologize for taking so long to reply. I’ve been busier than I anticipated.
    I hope to have some replies for y’all within the week.
    Again, apologies.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com/ Derek

    cl, I apologize for my outburst. I did have to back out of this thread for a week or so to clear my head, because I was unnecessarily letting the discussion get to me. If you got to know me you’d find that I’m normally very soft-spoken and courteous and if we were hanging out and talking about anything else I’m sure we’d be able to get along just fine.

    That said, I find your means of argument on this site frustrating to say the least. You make one argument, then when called on it, accuse your opponent of misunderstanding and presumption. Seems that either you are unclear in your reasoning or we are all deliberately obtuse here.

    It is also not fair to suggest that because your opponent has gotten angry, that his position is invalid; it simply means he has let the heat of discussion get to him and has failed to present his position cohesively. I do apologize for this and hope we can get back on track.

    That’s interesting because it is founded upon the presupposition that I believe homosexuality has a detrimental consequence on society.

    I must also apologize for presuming you disagreed with me that homosexual acts have no overarching ill effects on community and culture, but I hope you can see why that would be an easy step to take: in response to my assertion that it does not, you accused me of making myself sole arbiter. Of course, I do not. It is my position that detrimental effects on society are self-evident. If you object to my taking anything as self-evident, let me know and we can continue in that vein.

    But aside from that, if we agree that sociopathy and murder are detrimental to society, and homosexuality is not, then I fail to see how you can possibly accuse me of applying special pleading towards those who would attempt to “rehabilitate” actively gay people.

    You also accused me of “pestering” Arlene, right after I commended her for continuing on this site. If it is pestering to elaborate on why I disagree with her argument, then I’m at a severe handicap! I suppose it is up to her, however, to decide if she is being pestered.

    Fourth, I object to your either/or fallacy, which occurs when we present a limited number of options when other viable options clearly exist. It is perfectly reasonable that consciousness is analogous to an interface between the brain and some natural source.

    I was not attempting to create a false dichotomy; however, I’m not sure what “viable alternatives” there are to “consciousness comes from the brain”/”consciousness requires something external to the brain”. I admit I did use the term supernatural, but I’ve never even heard it argued that a soul could exist inside the physical universe.

    To use a closer analogy, I certainly don’t argue that software is exclusively contained on the transistors on a computer chip. However, when a computer is powered on, the software that is recorded in bits on the hard drive platter and the electricity flowing through the circuits causes those transistors to do what is specified in the software, due to the precise arrangement of electronics. Just as it is electricity and magnetic bits that cause a computer to come to life, it can be argued that the electricity and neurotransmitters, coupled with information encoded in our synapses, cause all the higher functioning of our brains.

    In other words, it is simply my assertion that consciousness follows directly from the brain, given the massive complexity of the brain and the lack of necessity of a soul to explain anything a human being does.

    I am interested, however, to see what information you might be willing to provide that suggests otherwise.

  • Richard Wade

    Arlene wrote:

    I’m posting to let everyone know that I’m still here, and to apologize for taking so long to reply. I’ve been busier than I anticipated.
    I hope to have some replies for y’all within the week.
    Again, apologies.

    Three months later and still no word from Arlene. So much for her promises. Why am I not surprised?


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