Homosexuality in Colorado megachurches, take two

take twoThis week The Denver Post‘s Eric Gorski broke a story about a Colorado megachurch pastor resigning amid allegations of homosexual conduct. The congregation in question is, like Ted Haggard’s New Life Church, down the road from where I grew up.

Gorski was permitted to watch the videotaped resignation message that the Rev. Paul Barnes gave to Grace Chapel in Douglas County, just south of Denver. Gorski handled the story well, supplying the facts in a plain and straightforward manner:

[Associate pastor Dave] Palmer said the church got an anonymous call last week from a person concerned for the welfare of Barnes and the church. The caller had overheard a conversation in which someone mentioned “blowing the whistle” on evangelical preachers engaged in homosexuality, including Barnes, Palmer said.

Palmer met with Barnes, who confessed. At an emergency meeting Thursday, a board of elders accepted Barnes’ resignation after he admitted “sexual infidelity,” violating the church’s code of conduct. Church leaders also must affirm annually that they are “living the moral and ethical teachings of Scripture in my public and private life.”

A sidebar summarized the sermon Barnes gave in the aftermath of the Haggard scandal. A follow-up the next day highlights the big issues with an impressive economy of words:

Separated by a confession of sin, the Rev. Paul Barnes and leaders of his former church will reunite this week and plot the road ahead. Meanwhile, others ponder the broader implications of a second consecutive evangelical pastor toppled by a gay-sex scandal.

As soon as my Eric Gorski News Alert crossed my computer screen on Monday morning, I wondered if we’d see a raft of stories about the trend of gay evangelicals. In journalism there’s a joke that it usually takes three loose anecdotes before you can write a trend story. But it being the Year of the Gay in American newsrooms and all, and these two pastors being so geographically close, we saw a few stories already. Thankfully the reporters didn’t bite off more than they could chew.

Neela Banerjee’s gay evangelical piece for The New York Times was nicely written. She introduced various people who consider themselves both evangelical Christian and homosexual, using the Barnes and Haggard stories as a hook:

Gay evangelicals seem to have few paths carved out for them: they can leave religion behind; they can turn to theologically liberal congregations that often differ from the tradition they grew up in; or they can enter programs to try to change their behavior, even their orientation, through prayer and support.

freudlewisBanerjee’s article focuses on individuals who want to embrace both homosexuality and evangelical Christianity. But I want to highlight a point from the excerpted paragraph for other reporters covering these stories. While programs that aim to change homosexual behavior are regularly criticized, do most reporters realize that changing personal behavior is a central component of most Christians’ lives? Yes, I know that our popular culture seems to believe that all sex — including homosexual sex — is good sex, but many Christians disagree. They deal with sexual behavioral modification on a regular basis. When looked at as part of the Christian ideal of sanctification, attempts to modify behavior — even for something as fundamental as sexuality — are par for the course. I think reporters could do a better job of explaining this.

Reporters would also do well to touch on the Christian notion of chastity. In discussing Banerjee’s piece, Rod Dreher linked to a provocative article written by David Morrison, a gay activist who converted to Christianity. He found a church that welcomed him with open arms and spoke quite strongly against his sexuality. Stories like Morrison’s also deserve to be told.

On the topic of how congregations that oppose homosexuality respond to homosexuals, Banerjee had a follow-up that probably needed a bit more room to breathe so that a bunch of quotes weren’t just piled on top of each other. The piece asks whether the Haggard and Barnes situations will lead to greater compassion among evangelicals for homosexuals. One line in particular, quoting preacher and sociologist Tony Campolo, caught my attention:

Dr. Campolo said that many evangelicals, influenced by Christian radio, had come to believe that homosexuality was largely a choice and that homosexuals “choose to be evil.”

Others, he said, subscribe to theories, now discredited by psychologists, that men become gay because they had a domineering mother or were victims of sexual abuse as children.

That last line is just unfair. If you put two academics in a room, you end up with three opinions. Even if magically there is some sort of unanimous groupthink in psychology, pitting evangelicals against seemingly above-the-fray academics — again — is just weaselly. If Banerjee wants to substantiate the “now discredited by psychologists” line, great. Even so, I doubt these unnamed evangelicals disparaged here would agree that they are irrational and hold indefensible views. I think we could probably do a better job characterizing opposing arguments.

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  • http://raphael.doxos.com Huw Raphael

    “They deal with sexual behavioral modification on a regular basis.”

    There is a vast difference between churches which offer abstinence – and support in that struggle – to all parties regardless of orientation and those programs which offer a “cure” for homosexuality. This latter is not the same thing as “behavioral modification” in a Christian sense. Yes, a reporter would do well to point that out, but thos programs are not the same thing as “changing personal behavior” which is rightly “a central component of most Christians’ lives”.

    Unless you mean to boil all of gayness down to active sex… which many who so identify – including myself and other celibates – would challenge.

  • Chad

    The problem here is that you reduce homosexuality to a behaviour. This entirely dehumizes gay people, contrary to popular thought, being a homosexual is not just about sex. Gay people form intimate emotional relationships with members of the same sex, as heterosexuals do with the opposite sex. Simple “behaviour modification”, with which I suppose you mean ‘acting straight’ – will not make you less gay. As is demonstrated by these outed ministers. By reducing it to a behaviour, you assume that by stopping that behaviour, the homosexuality is removed. I tried this for years, so I can speak with experience – you stay gay no matter how well you pretend. The only ones who are benefited by this kind of lie are never the “ex-gay” themselves but those people around them who get to feel a little bit more comfortable about their homophobia because, apparently, it can be switched off by denial.

  • http://myspace.com/prometheus_kris Prometheus

    Effectively, what we see here is exactly why Christianity will never become a true religion. A true religion does not ostracize those in their hour of need, and does not force people to choose between their religion and what they are.
    On the issue of homosexuality in general as portrayed in this article, I think that the reporter entirely misrepresents this issue. Consider this-Gorski comments heavily on the fact that to the preacher in question never broughtup anything political. However, the issue of homosexuality itself is a highly polarizing issue.
    On the dehumanization point, I don’t think that it really applies in this case. The rules of evangelism are strict-follow the rules or be exodized from the community. At the point that the man choose to become a minister, he gave up his rights in the service of religion. At the point that he violated one of the rules, he no longer had a place there. If anything else, it will probably be good for the man. Now he can leave the church and find his own way. In the long run, he will probably better come to grips with who he really is, because his religion will no longer tell him that it is an inherantly bad thing to be the person that he was born to be.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    It’s crucial to note that MZ is not asking people to change their beliefs on the hot issues involved in this story. She is asking the reporters to strive to cover the beliefs of other people accurately. This is one of the most basic skills in journalism and the mark of a good reporter. It is a bad thing when someone reads your story and says “Wait a minute: I didn’t say that. That isn’t what I believe.”

  • http://gimps.de Lisa loves pictures

    What a shame for colorado.
    I though people in this country would be more tolerant to others.

    Thank you for sharing this story with me !

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    This thread should not discuss people in Colorado, homosexuals, evangelicals or oherwise except insofar as it relates to media coverage of same.

    Coverage of homosexuality is turning out to be a major aspect of journalism.

    I very much agree with Huw, though. My point about the behavioral modification is that reporters lump everything together, be it “cures for homosexuality” or regular aides to chastity for all Christians. How many people really understand Christianity’s sanctification aspect anyway? And it’s such a major part of Christianity.

    The other thing I wanted to mention in coverage of this topic is that it would help for reporters to show how different views of sin (original, etc.) impact the way Christians approach homosexuality. But that’s for another post.

  • Andy

    perhaps that “unfair” line is a dig at Dobson? Thats the way I read it.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    I will delete any and all comments from this point forward that have nothing to do with media coverage. In fact, I just deleted one.

    The issue of how the media covers homosexuality is very important. We love nothing more than to discuss THAT on this blog. The issue of homosexuality in general? Not on this blog.

  • Larry Rasczak

    “Gay people form intimate emotional relationships with members of the same sex”…

    Excuse me, but are you implying that intimate emotional relationships with members of the same sex is something that only Gays can do?

    Please, if you mean to imply that one can not have a deep and close emotional bond with someone (of either sex) without sex being involved, or that having such a bond ipso facto “makes you gay” that is simply utter bilge.

    Have you ever been to a WW2 or Vietnam Vets reunion? Have you ever seen Band of Brothers on HBO even?

    Emotional bonding and sexual intimacy are not the same thing, and are not required to be linked. If this is news to anyone, that is simply sad.

  • Peter

    Larry, you got his point exactly backward.

    Of course people of any orientation can form intimate bonds with people of any other orientation.

    His point was, and is, that being gay is not limited to physical genital behavior, but is just as complex and integral to the entiretly of a gay person as a straight person’s orientation is to him or to her. Being gay is integral to every aspect of us.

    Simply changing someone’s sexual behavior may be aiding them to abstinence. It may be helping them act against their sexual orientation and more in line with what they believe to be moral behavior.

    But it does not change one’s orientation, and it certainly isn’t “a cure” – which is what the groups tend to promise.

    Mollie, when you are going to attack someone else’s position, at least attack their actual position. Very few people that I have ever heard of object to ex-gay groups because “all sex is good sex.”

    The objection is that the program’s don’t work, make false promises, and hurt far more people than they help.

    Further adding to the objection is that even with their stunningly low “success” rates, many anti-gay groups point to them as “proof” that being gay is a choice, and use their very existence as reasons for secular discrimination against gay people.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    MEDIA COVERAGE
    MEDIA COVERAGE
    MEDIA COVERAGE
    MEDIA COVERAGE
    MEDIA COVERAGE

    This blog discusses MEDIA COVERAGE of religious issues. We do not debate the religious merits of same. Both of the last two comments stray dangerously close to deletion-ville. But since they relate to an initial criticism of my piece, I’m keeping them in. I may not be so charitable in the future.

    BRINGING THIS DISCUSSION BACK TO THE PURPOSE OF GETRELIGION . . . .

    Reporters need to be clear about sanctification. Not all Christian programs aimed at homosexuality have the goal of “praying your gay away.”

    Reporters need to be clear about that. They need to differentiate. They also need to put it in the larger context of Christianity’s view on behavior in general.

  • Chip

    When Banerjee wrote the “now discredited by psychologists” line, I did not take it as her own commentary, but rather part of her summary of what Campolo said. It is very clear in the article that Campolo is talking about Christian radio. What exactly is your complaint?

    Is it that you disagree with Campolo about the consensus of psychologists? Do you disagree with his characterization of how Christian radio (maybe a broad category, but not exactly “unnamed”) usually deals with the issue of homosexuality?
    Should Banerjee not have gone to Tony Campolo for his comments because you disagree with him? She follows up Campolo’s comments by quoting a vice president of Focus on the Family who said that he believes homosexuality is a choice and often stems from childhood trauma. That sounds to me like she is trying to allow the other side to speak for themselves.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Chip,

    I disagree. At the very least, it’s not clear. Let’s look at the line again:

    Others, he said, subscribe to theories, now discredited by psychologists, that men become gay because they had a domineering mother or were victims of sexual abuse as children.

    Because it is a multi-clause phrase and not encapsulated in quotes, it is unclear whether he is claiming that these theories are discredited by psychologists or whether it’s a reportorial addition.

    At the very least it’s contentious enough that it needs to be phrased very carefully — barring safe housing within quotes.

    That’s why I said I thought the piece needed a little more room to breathe. The quotes from various and sundry interested parties were all very interesting — but a little too jammed together to really be fair to all the issues at hand.

    And even if I took your reading of it, a quote should have been included responding to the allegation that 100% of all pscyhologists agree on the etiology — in all cases — of homosexuality.

  • Dan

    “Gay evangelicals seem to have few paths carved out for them: they can leave religion behind; they can turn to theologically liberal congregations that often differ from the tradition they grew up in; or they can enter programs to try to change their behavior, even their orientation, through prayer and support.”

    Is this true for evangelicals? Is it most definitely not true for Catholics. The Church’s teaching on the matter is the following:

    “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” [CCC 2359.]

    I would be surprised in evangelicals would disagree with the foregoing. If they do not, the reporter’s statment of the available options for the “gay evangelical” is simply wrong — and does a disservice to anyone who interested in knowing the truth of the matter.

  • Chip

    From what I know of Campolo, it sounds like something he would say. I suppose she could have made this into two sentences to make it absolutely crystal clear that each clause is a summary of Campolo’s thoughts.

    Would anyone have really taken the phrase “now discredited by psychologists” to mean “100% of all pscyhologists agree on the etiology — in all cases — of homosexuality?” As you said, there is never 100% agreement on anything. If reporters had to find that dissenting voice for everyone they quoted, then their pieces would just be lists of quotes. It’s like the reporting on climate change, at some point trying to balance every quote with a dissenting voice gives the reader a skewed perspective on the broad consensus. Besides, she follows Campolo’s view with a dissenting voice from the VP of Focus on the Family, so I still don’t see a problem.

  • Larry Rasczak

    Peter

    If I got the point backwards I am indeed sorry.

    I would love to continue on this thread but I am getting told

    MEDIA COVERAGE
    MEDIA COVERAGE
    MEDIA COVERAGE
    MEDIA COVERAGE
    MEDIA COVERAGE

    so I will have to move on. Sorry.

    Mollie says “That last line is just unfair. If you put two academics in a room, you end up with three opinions.” and goes on to talking about how Banerjee should substantiate the “now discredited by psychologists” line.

    I am reminded of how the media loved Paul R. Erlich… I was re-reading one of his books just this morning and Mollie’s mention of academics reminded me of him.

    You remember Ehrlich… He wrote The Population Bomb (amonst other things). According to Ehrlich, the United States would see its life expectancy drop to 42 years by 1980 because of pesticide usage, and the nation’s population would drop to 22.6 million by 1999.

    Ehrlich was terribly popular with the Meida in the 60′s because his predictions were scary, and they fit the liberal zietgiest of the times. He gave the battles for easy abortion and available contraception (i.e. consequence free sex -”the sexual revolution”) much needed intelectual cover. He finally had to be dropped as a source when enough of his predictions didn’t occur that he lacked credibility.

    I think the media would do well to remember Paul Erlich (and the 1970s scare on how industrial polution was causing “Global Cooling”) in their coverage of “scientific opinion” on issues such as this one.

  • Paul Barnes

    Ok, I have nothing to contribute about how the media is handling this issue. It seems pretty decent. But I did pass along this information to some friends and family, who would find this hilarious. Apparently, I have been moonlighting as a megachurch pastor…

  • Michael

    If reporters had to find that dissenting voice for everyone they quoted, then their pieces would just be lists of quotes. It’s like the reporting on climate change, at some point trying to balance every quote with a dissenting voice gives the reader a skewed perspective on the broad consensus.

    Exactly. Given the current meeting in Iran, do we also need a quote clarifying that 100 percent of scholars don’t agree the Holocaust occurred? How about that the earth is round?

    There are majority views and minority views, then there is agreement/consensus and fringe opposition. While it may make religious conservative readers uncomfortable to know that a favored scientific or medical theory has been rejected by a consensus of the medical and scientific establishment is not justification for giving equal weight to a fringe viewpoint.

  • Tom Stanton

    CHEERS, CHEERS to you Mollie!!

    [D]o most reporters realize that changing personal behavior is a central component of most Christians’ lives? … They deal with sexual behavioral modification on a regular basis. When looked at as part of the Christian ideal of sanctification, attempts to modify behavior…are par for the course. I think reporters could do a better job of explaining this.

    This is an EXTREMELY important part of the news problem. With only a marginal, at best, understanding of the work of sanctification (deification, etc.) in the life of a Christian – a journalist can easily (without meaning to) change the name of the game from “abstain from sexual immorality” to “abstain from being around homosexuals.” To presuppose that sexual desire is right by default totally misses the Christian idea of sex.

    Is it so difficult for MSM to realize that orthodox (small o) Christian sex is really very limited by secular standards? The exclusion of homosexual behavior is only a minor part in the story of Christian living – denying of self and taking up our cross.

  • http://knapsack.blogspot.com Jeff

    The original point seemed to me to be, while all liberals are complex, diverse, and a wee bit conflicted, all conservatives are monolithically and uninterestingly unified.

    Or so goes the standard implied narrative. . . .

  • Trevor

    I think Mollie’s suggestion that reporters should better explain the doctrine of sanctification in articles about homosexuality and conservative Christianity is a great one. Both of the main characters in Neela Banerjee’s original piece and Eric Gorski’s article mentioned that they cried themselves to sleep begging God to change them. Christians may know that sanctification is a continuing change worked by God, but other readers probably have no clue as to why these men so often pleaded with God to be changed.

    I feel Ms. Banerjee’s original article was good, but could have been pushed beyond the normal narrative of stories that involve Christianity and homosexuality. All of the homosexual evangelicals she included in her story are committed to or are seeking a same-sex partner. In that way, their views of sexuality resemble those of mainline Protestants and liberal Roman Catholics who affirm homosexuality.

    I am glad Ms. Banerjee mentioned some homosexual evangelicals lead chaste lives, but it would have been nice to hear from them.

  • Dennis Colby

    The question about changing behavior is a central one to how homosexuality is handled by traditional Christians, and it’s also a minefield for reporters.

    The issue is this: many Christians believe that homosexuality is a matter of behavior, whereas many people who disagree see it as inherent. The Christian position, contrary to what some people like to say, is not a product of bigotry or ignorance, but is bound up in central theological notions about Original Sin and free will.

    The problem for reporters is how to begin even addressing this huge chasm. In the absence of compelling scientific proof one way or the other about homosexuality, reporters are almost trapped by how they define it. Is it an “orientation”? If so, that automatically throws scorn on a range of Christian minitries for gays. Is it a “lifestyle choice”? If so, that automatically upsets gay people who argue they have no choice in the matter of who they’re attracted to.

    What’s the journalistic consensus on how to even approach homosexuality? Is it nature or nurture? It seems difficult to discuss it at all without coming down on one side or another, just by how we choose to describe it.

  • Peter

    There can hardly be a journalistic consensus on the issue when there isn’t one among all the denominations of Christianity. Your description of “the Christian postition” is a common, likely even the majority one, but it is “a Christian position” not “the Christian position.”

    And even that only takes into consideration the doctrinal views of the denominations, and not the even wider range of views of individual churchgoers.

    In this sense, both the articles cited, and Mollie’s article above get it right by focusing on the individuals involved in the stories and the specific congregations and denominations involved.

    Sweeping statements are just not going to be accurate.

  • Peter

    Dan,

    It sounds as though you are saying that it is the reporter’s job to decide who is and isn’t a member of a specific religious tradition.

    An article could validly speak about “divorced and remarried Catholics,” even though such people are not in line with the official doctrine of the Church.

    The article in question made it clear that the gay evangelicals interviewed were not in good standing with their church. Isn’t that enough?

    I don’t think it is accurate to categorize the reporter’s words as “simply wrong.” Barring a formal declaration of excommunication or the equivalent, a person is a member of the tradition they claim to be. Whether they follow their church’s teachings in a specific area is a separate issue.

    A reporter should definitely make it a point to note when specific views aren’t canonical, especially (as in this case) when they are central to the story, but it isn’t her job to declare that someone isn’t a member of the tradition they embrace.

  • Dennis Colby

    Peter,

    Mea culpa. I also wrote “many Christians” and “traditional Christians,” terms which capture my meaning better.

    Individual anecdotes can only provide you with so much. Eventually, journalists have to look at the big picture, and that’s where they have to start making extremely difficult decisions about language.

  • Larry Rasczak

    “Given the current meeting in Iran, do we also need a quote clarifying that 100 percent of scholars don’t agree the Holocaust occurred? How about that the earth is round?”

    No, because those things are verifiable FACTS. (And before you run off on some liberal moral relativistic “what is a fact?” line I suggest you study the scientific principle of falsifiability.)

    Both the Holocaust and the roundness of the Earth are falsifiable, testable and verifiable.

    People who oppose testable, falsifiable, and verifiable FACTS are what we call nutcases.

    “There are majority views and minority views, then there is agreement/consensus and fringe opposition. ”

    Well that’s nice, but agreement/consensus does not a FACT make, and not all opposition is “fringe”.

    Again it comes down to falsifiable, testable and verifiable.

    On both this issue and on your global warming debate there is a great deal of agreement/consensus, there is a fair amount of data, there is some serious disagreement as to what the data means, there are questions as to the validity of some of that data, but there isn’t a lot of falsifiable, testable and verifiable FACT floating about.

    Therefore you do your readers a disservice if you fail to include the other side in a dispute where there is still room for genunine scientific debate. You do them a more serious disservice if you are too biased or ignorant to know the difference between areas where there IS room for scientific debate and where there is not.

    The thing about science is that it is totally independent of agreement/consensus. Few things are more settled in Physics than Newton’s Laws, but Einstien found that they were did not properly describe several things, and relativity was born. Yes it was the minority view for a while, but he was right and the agreement/consensus was wrong.

    The same is true of any great discovery, there was a time when Darwin, Newton, Galileo and Copernicus were all “the minority veiw”. The late Gene Shoemaker was definitely in “the minority view” for most of his life, but he was RIGHT.

    So while it may make liberal reporters uncomfortable to know that a favored scientific or medical theory is just that, a theory, (or perhaps even a hypothesis) and NOT a fact, that is not justification for members of the press to display their inherant small minded bias and vast scientific ignorance by refusing to give equal weight to an opposing and scientifically viewpoint.

    Just dig up a copy of LIMITS TO GROWTH or THE POULATION BOMB, or The End of Affluence, or look up Julian Simon’s Bet With Paul Ehrlich for other examples. Hey, Ehrlich won awards from the Sierra Club and The Eminent Ecologist Award of the Ecological Society of America in 2001
    The Distinguished Scientist Award of the American Institute of Biological Sciences in 2001 , and Carl Sagan thought he was great.

    He was still WRONG.

  • Michael

    When new data or support occurs that lifts fringe arguments into the mainstream, then they are owed near equal time. Until then, we shouldn’t elevate their significance to ease the concerns of a large number of people who happen to support a completely discredited theory. It’s like saying we need to argue that Saddam was connected to 9/11 to bolster the misinformation believed by a good number of people.

    If we want to talk about it all in the context of religion and faith and spirituality, that’s one thing. But if we are going to start discussing science and medicine, we need to be cautious about how we describe the state of current consensus. Saying that a certain scientific belief has been discredited by the consensus of the medical and scientific community seems appropriate.

  • http://www.rsgblog.blogspot.com Rebecca

    Quick thought: If the reporter had just inserted the word “some” in that phrase about the psychologists, it would have been a bit less loaded.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Rebecca,

    I agree. Although it isn’t some — it’s most.

    Perhaps she could have said something like, “The American Psychological Association strongly condemns . . .”

    Almost all these problems can be solved by just a few more words.

    Another point is that the APA and other groups don’t even condone studies into non-biological etiologies of homosexuality.

    Discredit — as properly defined — is a good word to use for such a situation. It means to refuse to accept, to cause disbelief in the accuracy of or to deprive of good repute.

    The reporter is correct if she means to say that most psychologists do these things with regard to theories that don’t follow the current zeitgeist.

    It just needs to be substantiated a bit.

    But again, the word and lack of substantiation portrays people who are outside the club as being unreasonable — which is not the most charitable way to handle things.

  • http://until.joe-perez.com joe perez

    Mollie: “When looked at as part of the Christian ideal of sanctification, attempts to modify behavior — even for something as fundamental as sexuality — are par for the course.”

    THE Christian ideal of sanctification? No. Your claim should be that journalists reporting on conservative Christians should discuss THEIR particular notion of sactification.

    I think that’s laudible if you’re also going to permit these journalists the balance of including views of sanctification from a diversity of Christian viewpoints, including those which hold that homosexual sexual behavior can be a source of sanctification and that chastity for those who aren’t called to chastity is a source of sin.

    Mollie, the fact that you call one set of contentious theological beliefs THE Christian Ideal speaks volumes that those are probably YOUR beliefs and you want to privilege THOSE beliefs in the discussion. I’m commenting just so we’re all clear about that, and not still laboring under the illusion that your real goal is objectivity.

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  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Joe:

    As you know, Mollie is referring to the church’s basic stand on sex and marriage that has stood for 2000 years.

    On journalistic issues, her desire is to see the theological beliefs of people on both sides of the conflict coveraged accurately and fairly.

  • http://until.joe-perez.com joe perez

    tmatt: was that the “basic stand on sex and marriage” that permitted polygamous unions for the ancient Hebrews, or the stance that permitted same-sex unions in premodern Europe? was that the stance tha forbad divorce, allowed divorce, forbad divorce but allowed annuullments, then allowed divorce once again? And what was the Christian tradition’s stance for most of thouse 2,000 years on slavery?

    Painting a diverse tradition as uniform is the oldest trick in the book for privileging one’s own favorite view. You and Mollie do it with Christian theology all the time, and now apparently you want journalists to adopt your technique to provide a greater “balance.” If journalists would simply explain “THE BASIC CHRISTIAN VIEW” in every story about rabblerousers and apostates while ignoring past dissenting theological voices, they’d never get a critical write-up in GetReligion.

  • Sackett

    Perhaps I’m a little slow on the uptake, this thread is already a couple of weeks old, but here’s my take…
    Lust is one of our greatest temptations. Perhaps the moment of climax gets us for an instant a glipse into what we’ll feel in heaven. Ever heard someone approaching climax that didn’t start saying “Oh God Oh, God…for many of us sex is a religious experience. I think, in the marriage bed, it is meant to be that way to help us understand Him better, and to drive us to procreate…but I digress.

    The pursuit of “sweet release” has brought down kingdoms before, kingdoms bigger than New Life Church. As humans continually prove over and over, the pursuit of climax takes people places many outside observers don’t understand. Places where someone like Ted or countless others would likely never had imagined they would find themselves. Homosexuality is the pursuit of lust. It is simply a sexual habit that started at some point in a man’s life; a seed planted somewhere that triggered something which added fuel to the natural lust fire that burns in us all. Ted wasn’t secretly gay the whole time, he just wasn’t strong enough to resist taking his pursuit of climax to a place people in his position, or anyone else in my opinion, shouldn’t go.

    Resisting temptation is the number one challenge for all humanity. Submitting to tempation is the number one sin of our current generation. As the church waters down the faith, the will to pray and overcome temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit weakens and falters. Satan loves that.

    Colorado Springs, in addition to being a beautiful place and home to New Life Church and Focus on the Family, has historically been a center for New Age and Wicca. If you believe, as I do, that Satan is the head of those religions, and that the main focus of his evil is to take people from God, then it makes sense to me that Satan would be targeting someone like Ted and for that matter, anyone else trying to bring people out of the darkness. Regardless of what he did lately, Ted led many people into the light during his ministry. Satan hates that.

    In a nutshell, if you are going to storm the gates of hell, make sure you are prayed up and above reproach because Wormwood and his buddies never tire and they will come at you until they find a crack in your foundation, then they will expose it. They love exposing secret sins to the world.

    Shalom,
    Sackett


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