My Blog and the Silly Putty People

Running a blog is like posting a big sign on the gate outside of your house that says, “Like this house? Come in! Have a seat! Talk amongst yourselves!”

And people do! They wander in, they look around; they might say a word or two: perhaps a big speech, perhaps only a snide aside. They might stop in once; they might stop in so often pretty soon I can practically give them the keys to the place and let them run it while I take a little vacation. Maybe they show up in a good mood; maybe not. Maybe they’re angry, lonely, curious, proud, passionate, inspired, defeated, confused, happy, buoyant, drunk.

And it will all be perfectly okay with me. I love it all. This blog is my house; I deeply enjoy being its host; I’m happy presenting the meal, and then working in the kitchen while listening to everyone throughout the house being whomever it is they are. It’s all good, rich music to me.

Everyone is welcomed here, period.

Except, that is, for one type of person. Every so often a very particular type of visitor comes into my open house, and that person I always end up showing the door.

That person is a Silly Putty person.

Silly Putty people are a very rare breed indeed. In the four years since hanging out my welcome sign here, I’ve had but a handful of them come through.

The Silly Putty people pretend to be something they’re not. They pretend to be truly interested in deep and sincere discussions—but they’re not.

They always start off stating positions that are fundamentally extreme—but are then quick to make clear that they’re open to new input, that they welcome learning how they might be mistaken; that they’re willing to modify or even abandon their way of thinking, if only someone were intelligent, compassionate, and caring enough to take the time to explain to them the error of their ways. And because here on this blog we’re very often dealing with matters of significant spiritual concern, the Silly Putty invariably receive the reaction they’re after.

You come into this house asking for enlightenment and understanding, and people here will respond to you with care and respect. Because so many of the people who hang out here are intelligent; they are compassionate; they do care.

And so such people begin to sincerely and thoughtfully engage the Silly Putty person.

And the Silly Putty person then settles right in. They’ve gotten what they want. They’ve found people to play with them.

If you’ve ever played with Silly Putty, you know that it has the unique quality of seeming to change in all sorts of ways, while actually never changing at all. It stretches, it molds; it becomes one shape, it becomes another. If you roll it up into a ball, it bounces! If you press it over a newspaper cartoon, it’ll have that picture on itself when you peel it back up!

Hours of fun!

It’s fun, that is, until you finally get it into your head that you can’t really do anything with Silly Putty.

It looks and feels like gum—but you can’t really chew it. It bounces like a real ball—but too quickly gets all bent out of shape. It kind of picks up images—but mostly it’s unclear what you’re looking at. It seems like it would be tasty—but it’s actually poisonous. At the very least it will clog up your system.

And that’s just how Silly Putty people are: quick to very smoothly assume all kinds of accommodating qualities that, in fact, they don’t possess at all. They pretend to be open, curious, understanding, vulnerable, impressionable, tolerant, and reasonable—when, in fact, they’re none of those things. Like Silly Putty (um … if Silly Putty had a will), all they really want is someone to play with them.

To get the attention they want, they pretend to be people they’re not. They lie.

I hate liars. And that’s why I always bounce Silly Putty people right out of my house.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • mimic

    Wonderful imagery and definition! John, your genius is showing. ;-)

  • Argy-bargy

    John, spot on once again.

    Let me put this out to you and to all the other guests in your house.

    What have your experiences been, and what do you do when you encounter someone who is avowedly interested in honest dialogue, yet proves to be (a) immovable as to their views, and (b) not seeming to want to use plain logic or reasoning or empirical proof to consider what you're saying to them? And, like John, I'm not singling out anyone in particular. I've had countless experiences with these type of people (I have numerous friends and relatives on both ends of the political and religio-spiritual spectrum).

    I mean, the example or scenario above seems pretty obvious to be one where little headway can be made. But really…are such conversations worth it? I've found them valuable to test my own beliefs, and have truly learned some things, if nothing else, how people who have diametrically opposed views to me actually think and feel about what's important to them. But I also think sometimes I'm just being overly indulgent….

    Thanks for your hospitality….and by the way, this coffee's excellent!

    • Argy-bargy

      And by overly indulgent, I mean of truly repugnant views. It's easy to dismiss people like that…am I giving them more attention or deference that their views would warrant?

      • Mindy

        Excellent question, AB. I wonder the same thing, too. Sometimes I just stop. Leave it at, "interesting that you feel that way…" and wander off.

        Honestly, hot debate doesn't happen in my real life all that often. When it does, I really try to see the other person's point of view. If I can't wrap my brain around it, I try to use it to help them see mine. If they respond favorably, I might continue. If they don't, I usually roll into humor mode to reduce the tension and move on.

        Online, I try to write as if I am talking to the person IN person, because I don't like the idea of hiding beyond digital anonymity and saying what you couldn't say while looking into a person's eyes. I'm sure with Mel, for example, I've been a bit more, ahem, forceful than I might otherwise have been – but I don't believe I've said anything here that I wouldn't say to her in person, were we to sit down and discuss gay rights.

        I do tend to use disagreement to hone my own arguments, sure – by reading the other side, I can see own feelings coalesce. But yeah, I've probably given the discussion with Mel more of my time and energy than I should. As John pointed out, the fact that she's so young, to me, means that there remains hope that she might see the error in her thinking eventually. Time will tell, I suppose . . .

        • Argy-bargy

          Thanks, Mindy. Yes, my experiences and attitudes mirror yours quite a bit.

          Some time ago I had a series of discussions with atheists, Catholics, and evangelical Christians. I made certain traditionally pro-Christian as well as skeptical arguments with these individuals, and I discovered that I didn't really quite believe what I thought I believed. Probably not due to the eloquence of the atheist, and certainly not due to the reproval of the Christians, but I recognized the absurdity, or at least the difficulty in defending the position I was taking. Some were maddening to speak with…at the time I thought quite insulting actually, but they were milestone moments for me.

          It triggered years of reflection, soul-searching, rending of beliefs, and a fair amount of spiritual anguish…a dark night of the soul. The grace of a friend of mine, a pastor and biblical student no less, led me to realize that "maybe your faith was a juvenile faith…look for a mature one."

          I'm certainly not there, but I may be crawling out of that dark night. I realize now that what I considered insulting or maddening people and their views can be catalysts for progress.

          I am curious what others think of all this and what their experiences of this. Are there upsides to the Silly Putty People?

          • http://none Don Rappe

            If you're discussing physics you eventually have to throw the flat earthers out of the room.

          • http://www.virushead.net/ Heidi

            I think there are upsides, although it can be very frustrating. For one, there is an opportunity to educate on the way a civil dialogue or debate can be held. Secondly, one develops the art of finding exactly where the boundary line exists, and that is just simply good practice. Often, your interlocutor doesn't really know where it is – they are only triggered by certain words or phrases. Sometimes rephrasing into a question format is helpful. Third, it helps you learn how to bracket out your ego – no small task (I often fail, but gradually…gradually..). Sometimes it will pivot into abuse, and that's where you cut it off. Nothing much interesting happens after that. <3

    • Tim

      What you said at the end A-b…that's IT. I don't cross swords with an opponent here, expecting to sway them or make headway. I certainly don't imagine there is any merit to empirical proof when discussing and/or debating a notion that is as equivocal as God. I only mean to be ready to always give an answer to anyone that asks me for a reason of the hope that's in me…hopefully with meekness and respect.

      I'm feeling a bit puzzled since I never sensed Mel to be what I'd call a "troll". In fact, I accused William Ely of being just that in one of the more heated exchanges between himself, Mel, and a few other people (myself included). If someone is being dishonest, I guess I might not always be the best at discerning that. I tend to take people at their word.

      I am pretty immovable in a fair amount of my views. I've vacillated on many of those views over the last couple decades as a result of crossing swords with those of opposing world views. I never once regretted the time I spent going 'round and 'round with someone I knew I had no prayer of swaying toward my POV. But the exercise gave me greater insight and understanding about how other people come to their own conclusions. My sword never pierces flesh, unless it's my own. It is raised in defense of my beliefs. The fact that we all seem to have a sword encourages me, in that I will always go out from here possessing more than I came in with. Thanks to you and to all of the other inhabitants of the Shoreline.

    • http://spiritualmeanderings.wordpress.com/ Sentinel

      It's a good question, A-b.

      When I write a post, I value feedback on it. Encouragement and agreement is obviously great, but I actually really value dissenting feedback as well. I want my arguments to be challenged (and in the absence of a genuine dissenter, I'm grateful if a friend plays devil's advocate).

      We all have blind-spots and make unconscious assumptions. But if my opinion is challenged repeatedly and I find the challenges unpersuasive, my confidence in what I believe increases. If there is disagreement to an article that I've written, that's great: let's hear it and see if the counter-argument is convincing. And I'm happy to give the discussion the time and space that it needs to really get to grips with the issues being discussed.

      But there's a limit.

      If the person on the other end is clearly not interested in thinking about what is being discussed and simply rejecting arguments for the sake of it, I tire of the exchange. I have limited time and energy to engage in these discussions, and I want to expend that time and energy having conversations. That means that both sides need to be willing to listen and think about what the other has said.

      If they're not going to do that, I'll walk away.

  • Kara

    Ah. This crystallizes and helps me understand some things I've been feeling. Thank you, John.

  • http://melindasmusings.com Melinda

    You just have such a great way of stating things. I love it!

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    An excellent piece of writing, John: visual, tactile, I can even smell a wee bit of that Silly Putty smell and feel the slightly oily residue on my hands. The metaphor is very apt and I will do my best to keep it in mind before I let that my inner Silly Putty child out for another romp. Nicely said.

  • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

    Insight, Baby. It's a beautiful thing. Self -awareness is pretty awesome too. All tempered with a healthy portion of humility. Sometimes it is a gift we're given. Usually it's a skill we learn with LOTS of time and reflection. There is much wisdom to be gained by really struggling with the question, "What if I'm wrong?" It takes a great deal of courage and humility to go there, but it is a worthwhile pursuit.

  • Mel

    If anybody goes and reads the comment that is linked to in the article regarding me, I would like you to look above it, and see what I actually said to get that response. I said that the way John talked about everybody being so patient with me was said in such a way that it made it sound like I was a stupid little girl whom people shouldn't even bother talking to. So, I told him that just because I have a different opinion than others, that doesn't mean they can't talk to me about it. I gave an example of how Kara and I are having a conversation about homosexuality from a Christian standpoint. Kara and I have opposite views on what the Bible says about this topic. And yet, her and I are having a conversation about it. In this blog John said that people pretend to be something they're not. I don't think that I have every given the impression that I am going to change my point of view, all the while not having the intention to do so. I don't think that I will change my point of view, and that's not why I'm having this conversation with Kara. The reason I'm talking to her is to see where she's coming from. I doubt that I will agree with her, although some points she has made have been very good arguments. However, I want to see how she interprets certain verses of the Bible. That's it. Nothing else. I'm not *pretending* that I might change my mind, just like I know I'm not going to change hers. I simply want to hear her side. I don't really understand why John won't allow me to address him directly anymore for such a simple comment. I let him know that what he said made it sound like I was just stupid…if that was wrong he could have easily corrected me. And I said that a certain comment he has referred to more than once was not as intelligent as he was giving it credit for. The comment he referred to was hypocritical, and that's all I said. Apparently that means I can't speak to him directly anymore. And, he didn't even answer my question. Since I'm not really sure at this point if this comment will get me blocked from the site, I would like to have a final word just in case. Thank-you Kara for taking the time to explain your point of view with me. Bringing up the actual Greek in which the Bible was written was very interesting, and I will continue to do research on my own about it. I know that God loves you, and I'm sorry if I've every given the impression that I thought otherwise.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Hmmmm… to block or not?

      I mean, she's not that young.

      Oh, what the heck. It's Friday. She can stay.

      But girl, do not make me come out of my kitchen!

      • mimic

        John, If it were my choice Mel would be out of here on the basis of poor grammar and run on sentences. Alas, the American education system is greatly lacking.

        Giving consideration to her education, perhaps that is why her fall back position is "I don't understand."

        • Matthew Tweedell

          While her grammar is lacking relative to any educated (or even merely consistent) standard, it really doesn’t look to me as if she’s using run-on sentences.

          Oh, I see: you’re saying that if it were up to you, you’d have Mel run on sentences.

          Wait—now *I* don’t understand.
          ;)

      • http://www.virushead.net/ Heidi

        Actually, what she is saying in this post seems fair enough to me.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      I simply want to hear her side. I don’t really understand why John won’t allow me to address him directly anymore for such a simple comment. I let him know that what he said made it sound like I was just stupid…if that was wrong he could have easily corrected me.>>>

      This is gross. And I don't care that you are 18, I'm going to treat you like an adult. Your behavior on this forum has been appalling, you've been rude and disrespectful to the owner of this blog and the fact that you just don't say "It's clear that I have crossed some boundaries here, I'm really sorry", instead you just keep saying "I don't understand! I don't understand!"

      I think you are exactly what this entire post is all about . You aren't here for an education, you're really not. You only respond to what you want to respond to respond to – there are a number of us who have dealt with gay kids who kill themselves as a result of dealing with people like you who hold your particular mind set and you just ignore it, it's so gross. You are what terrifies me about Christianity but at least I have a forum where I can say so.

      And lastly, you want to "know where Kara is coming from", but you refuse to read in depth, any reference documentation she has put in front of you. You're lazy, Mel, you let other people do the homework for you and then you only read what you want to read. She's gone above and beyond, and she is a saint, she truly embodies the "grace" of Jesus. Not that you'd acknowledge that Mel could be a Christian and gay at the same time.

      I think you've wasted a lot of peoples' time here, John has been unbelievably gracious to you and so have so many other people. As for me, I think I might be done giving you attention. That's all you want.

      The dwarves are for the dwarves.

      • Mel

        I have read everything Kara has said. I have responded to everything Kara has posted. So, I really don't know what your problem is. Seriously, how have I "been rude and disrespectful to the owner of this blog"? Seriously, how? What boundaries have I crossed?

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          Mel, even if pointed out the three examples I watched you write (in awe) and marveled at John's patience in not banning you? Here is what you'd do based on your past behavior – you'd argue it, telling me how you're just so misunderstood and then get angry for everyone being so mean to you. You wouldn't apologize if it was right in front of your face.

          You are proud, self-righteous, insecure and stubborn and I don't know how you got that way. And I don't care, I am far more interested in spending time talking with people with some humility and have a sense of right and wrong when dealing with people. But none of those are related to someone who wants to learn or connect with someone they don't understand in any meaningful way.

          You are one terrified little girl who is deeply insecure and doesn't seem invested in self-reflection at all. And I hope these conversations stay with you for the rest of your life and at some point down the road, have some kind of impact. But truly, truly – God have mercy on you for the damage you do to kids who are gay. You're confused and stuck in this cage of rigidity and religion and I simply pray that God protects you (and others) from your fear of stepping out of it.

          • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

            Is Mel actually the 20-something virgin from last week? I'm having a deja vu all over again.

    • Argy-bargy

      Look, Mel, I can't nor will I speak for Kara. She's a big girl, of course, but I do think you are abusing her incredible, loving patience, and I don't like to see it. Tired of it in fact. You have no intention to change your views. You are quite upfront about that, and well, thanks for being honest about it NOW, although there was never much doubt in my mind previously. To engage in finding out "where the other person is coming from" is disingenous and cruel. She's done it. Kara and others have bared their souls, pointed you to reliable and well-considered sources of information, and you contradict it with no support, or cite your own sources, which are venomous. Seriously, the page you cited to is hateful. Of course you didn't want Kara to respond to anything but a small portion of it. She did, and you simply discounted it, again with no foundation.

      You won't do your "research on your own" except to justify your own pre-set views. Why research on something that you have no intention of believing if it contradicts your belief? Seriously, why would you waste your time looking into something that won't reinforce your beliefs? What's your agenda to "understand" another person's views? I don't care if your problem is lack of experience, because it certainly doesn't seem to be lack of intelligence.

      You're scared of a world that might contradict or undermine your beliefs. How strong is your faith, really, if it can't be challenged? Why is sincerely challenging your own beliefs impious? If you are right, everything should be pointing to and reinforcing it. God won't let you fall away from His grace because you truly challenged yourself. Stop putting God in such a small box!

      If you find your beliefs successfully challenged, then you were wrong, but then it will lead you to what God WANTS to you to believe not away from it. But for you, it appears to be more important to be right than to be true. Please, please, PLEASE, don't continue going down the road of a zealot. There lies only pain, and I have to believe not only justifying or defending your faith, but moving further away from the peace and love that God ordained for us.

      For God's sake, girl, use that brain that God gave you!

      • Kara

        +1

        Someone once said "You hear, but do you listen?"

      • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

        A-b writes it appears to be more important to be right than to be true.

        An astute observation, and the underlying reason why so often people confuse the right to an opinion and the right to make up their own facts. Mel isn't polite or mature enough to apologize for causing unintended offense and crossing an unknown boundary nor wise enough to understand why she should.

        • Mel

          I’m not going to respond to most of what you guys said because you are acting very judgmental and immature. However, Tildeb said that I am not “polite or mature enough to apologize for causing unintended offense”. This is entirely untrue. I have apologized many times for possibly offending somebody. Maybe you should get your facts straight before you go attacking people. I know I know…”see now you’re making this about your feelings again Mel”. No, I’m not it’s simply a fact. When this many people are, without reason, saying why I am a bad person, that is an attack. Simple as that.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            When people are saying why, that's called a reason.

          • Argy-bargy

            A reson indeed….Or two, or three, or….

          • Susan

            The intent was never to make you feel this way or that. No one who has replied to you more than once has said you are bad.

            However, if you feel this way – judgement heaved upon you for no reason, others being immature, etc. – congratulations. You now have something in common with many who've reach out to you.

          • Mel

            Susan, I realize that this was not *your* intent. I think I've read all of the comments you've left for me, and I'm not offended by any of them. You are truly trying to be helpful, and I'm grateful for that. Other people however, definitely are not trying to be helpful. They are taking all the rage they have on this topic out on me. The people who have provided me with websites, I have responded to them, and taken a look at the websites. I have done some research on my own as well. Some of which was to back up my feelings on the topic, which I then shared with Kara. And some of which had to do with what Kara has showed me. For instance, I was taking a look at what may have been misinterpreted when translating the Bible from Greek to English. For instance I found out that “Malakoi” means “soft”, and things like that. However, most people, on this page in particular, are not trying to help. They are angry, and they feel the need to "yell" at me. Whatever, that's their choice. I'm just not going to respond to them anymore with regards to this topic. I will continue to comment on things that John writes about that are important to me, but for me, the issue of homosexuality is dropped. We aren't going to agree, and clearly my trying to learn from Kara is, for some reason, angering people.

          • Susan

            No Mel, I have crossed the line and become malicious in my heart.

            That is wrong.

            I do not apologize for my message, but I regret making my anger your problem. I did the very thing which I criticized about you — I made this about me. My pride made me feel superior.

            Again, wrong.

            There is a lot of good information here for you, Mel, even in my words. But, my intent was not completely authentic, and for that, I am sorry.

            I am not a better person than you. I am not more Christian. I am so freaking human.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            However, I don’t think my belief alone is what causes kids to kill themselves.>>>

            Then what is, Mel? Tell me, since you are so quick to reject what I'm telling you after dealing with dozens of gay kids over the course of seven years in a homeless shelter as a lead volunteer. Tell me why that's not true, give me the data. Back it up.

            There are christians who are telling kids all of the things that you've articulated on this blog both personally and as they post it online (just like you have). Their vote against gay marriage, the belief that homosexuality is equal to addition and that it is a "choice" – these are all of the things that tell gay kids they aren't good enough, they are not loved by God and that they've chosen to be evil in God's eyes. And they kill themselves as a result. And while I'm absolutely sure you were ignorant to the gay teen suicide? You are still responsible as you continue to advocate all of the above.

            You can bury your head in the sand because you're not quite ready to face it. And it's understandable, it is a huge, devastating thing to face, what this framework of belief that you've adopted as your own has done to the gay community, particularly kids. And if you need to tell yourself that you're not part of what is responsible? You can do that. But it's an untruth, you're being deceived.

            I'm not telling those who are gay through my *vote* that they aren't quite fit for the institution of marriage, you are.

            I'm not telling them that the people they love is rooted in something that is as damaging as an addition. You are, you've said that a number of times here.

            And as a result? LIke it or not, you're responsible. Whether or not you shoot a bullet on accident or on purpose? You're still responsible for the wound. You're part of the Christian community that is sending these messages to gay kids, it doesn't matter if you would say it to anyone personally or not.

            The fact that you think I’m that kind of person really hurts.>>>

            I'm sure it does. I've been there, I've been exactly where you are. It does hurt, it feels like a punch in the stomach to read. But here's the deal, my friend. Our feelings don't matter when kids are dying. They just don't, they are secondary. Because I'm angry with you and frankly, don't like you very much? I do care about you, I promise. We'd probably have lunch and I would discover a really lovely person in front of me. I bet you are a million and one very lovely things. But you are also *this*, Mel. And you need to understand that your beliefs that compel you to voting the way you do and even your interior beliefs regarding gays and lesbians are killing kids. As a result of that, your feelings are secondary.

            But you're right about one thing. I've been very angry with you and I've called you a lot of names, which sucks. I was wrong to be so aggressive so consistently and get so personal. Particularly because I've sat exactly where you do. I should have been more patient, this is a lot to take in at once. I'm sorry.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Brilliant, DR. If Mel pays attention to no other post, I sincerely hope she takes this one to heart, reads it a hundred times, and carries it with her for the rest of her life because it is exactly right.

            Thank you for being so articulate.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Mel, understand that people are angry with you because your mindset is killing kids. It's hurting people. I know you don't understand that or perhaps you don't care about it, but I'm not going to let you play the "look over there" game. I can't, while this might be an interesting issue that you'd like to learn more about ? Gay kids are DYING. They are killing themselves at a higher rate than most teenagers, even Conservative Christians well-versed in what is happening with youth today acknowledge that. OK? So understand where this "rage" is coming from – your beliefs are hurting children who feel like they have no other option.

            I'm actually really glad you're here and you are learning from those you feel are treating you well. But please – consider for a second that there are several of us here who have had to deal with a ravaged gay kid who someone like you (not you), but someone like you devastated as a result of your beliefs. And I realize you are learning and trying to educate yourself and that's great, but as you do that? They are still killing themselves and some of us are way more focused on that and are angry about that than you.

            OK, I've had enough. I'll leave you to the others.

          • Mel

            I don't expect you to respond to this since you've had enough of me, but I would like to make it very clear that suicide is not something I "ignore" or take lightly. Every time that I read a statistic involving suicide for any reason, my heart breaks. To think that somebody treated somebody that much like crap is really hard to imagine. However, I don't think my belief alone is what causes kids to kill themselves. The fact that you think I'm that kind of person really hurts. I want you to know that in the real world (and by that I mean, not online) I would never tell a homosexual that I thought what they were doing is wrong. Unless I was very close to them, I probably wouldn't even have a conversation about it, simply because I'd be afraid of hurting their feelings. However, I can see that Kara is a loving, compassionate person. And, as Mindy has said, you deal with people differently online than you would in real life. So, I feel like online, I can have a discussion about this with Kara without getting feelings hurt. Or, at least I try to. But I am not responsible for kids killing themselves, and I will not let you try to put that on me.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Mel, would you perhaps be willing to dissect your view of the world with me and take a look at its basis?

      In other words, setting aside the beliefs you currently hold so that we can examine them together, let's start off pretending we're a blank slate.

      The belief that God forbids homosexuality rests on several assumptions, including:

      1) that God exists.

      2) that what pleases Him somehow has authority in the world.

      3) that you have some way of knowing details of how others are to please His will.

      4) that homosexual romantic relationships are among things He does not will for any of us, his children.

      Perhaps we've all been going at this backwards previously, to examine these things in roughly the reverse order of how I've laid it out here.

      So perhaps we should start with the first: How shall we move from "blank slate" to "God exists" through information we can gather about the world we find ourselves in?

      • Mel

        We can quickly go from blank slate to God exists by looking outside. Seeing this beautiful Earth, knowing that somebody created it. By seeing the goodness in people when they are being tormented, knowing that that strength can only come from a higher power. We can go from blanks slate to God exists by feeling the Holy Spirit telling us what is wrong and what is right, even when we don't want to listen to it. When it seems like we have lost everything, but then look at our family and friends, we know that comfort came from God. When you are in desperation, and you feel like you have nobody to turn to, but then something inside of you feels like you can talk to God. That is how you can go from blank slate to God must exist.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Thank you for the reply, Mel!

          How do we know what strength, if any, cannot come from within a person him- or her-self?

          You presuppose that we can feel the Holy Spirit. How do we know when and if it's He that we feel? If it's whenever we get a feeling telling us what’s right and wrong, it seems that for most people, at least sometimes, that feeling is incorrect, in which case, either it isn't necessarily the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit can be mistaken or deceitful.

          How do we know that the comfort of family and friends doesn't come from family and friends?

          Feeling like you can talk to God doesn't necessarily mean that you can. Also, I don't think seeing the earth and judging it beautiful implies anything regarding its origin.

          The reason I point these things out is that I think it’s important to get a clear idea of who God is before trying to interpret anything He is saying.

      • Tim

        The notion that any of us can be blank slates is as much beyond possibility as empirically proving that God exists.

        1. I believe in the existence of God. Not because the Bible tells me so, but because of the myriad amazing intricacies that continue to be unravelled regarding our world, let alone the magnificent expanse of the cosmos. In the creativity of humankind, I see the patent of an intelligent creator.

        2. If God truly exists, what pleases Him should have authority. But it doesn't. Again, without going to Scripture, I can be fairly sure if God exists and HE made me, I am similar or a reflection of His ego. If I'm not pleased with the current state of humanity, why should I think any divine creator would be ok with it?

        3. As a child of four, I subscribed to the implanted notion that God is a being of infinite love and wisdom to which the love and wisdom of a mother and father is good, yet prone to pale in comparison. This made me hungry for something more. Natural circumstance, or divine intent? I never subscribed to a mob mentality when it came to loving God. And certainly never subscribed to the idea that I knew better how someone else should live their life. Again, not because of any religious teaching, but the simple inherent knowledge that I didn't want anyone else directing my steps. Why do children naturally rebel when parents instruct their children? Right or wrong, it is this way. And if there is a God, He certainly has to be able to turn the minds of all people to contemplate the possibility of His existence. Where we go is our choice.. I'm a minister, but I'm just warming the bench until the coach taps my shoulder and puts me in. I don't tell my fellow team member what their role in the game is. I just run the plays I've been given to run. Even life without religion contains offensive plays and defensive plays. We're all running the plays we have been given or have concocted based on those plays. And if any of us are foolish enough to think that we originated our play…think again. We were not raised in a bubble. We have all been impacted by the beliefs, philosophies, and imprints of others whether we wanted it or not. As it lies with me, I seek peace with all people. I am human and I will make mistakes. We all will. Whose will is ultimately meted out?

        4. This is a subject that cannot pass without a fight. Personally, I believe that human sexuality Is a corporeal and symbolic expression of the oneness that God originally intended between Himself and His beloved. While quite a few theologians would insist that the God of the Jews and Christians promoted polygamy, prostitution, and even homosexuality, that is simply their take. From a very early age, I think we all know there is something taboo about acts of sexuality. And I'm not just talking about the "you show me yours and I'll show you mine" sort of stuff. I'm talking about the post a look out and lock the door sort of stuff that we knew was just too twisted for our own good. It can be argued that our scale of twisted is implanted by the Victorian vestiges of earlier generations. That is probably very true to some degree. But just because man can have multiple sexual partners, doesn't mean that he should. It doesn't take any sort of biblical morality to show a guy that eventually the chickens will come home to roost. The wages of wrong begin paying dividends before we meet our demise or any divine judgment. I can't pretend to tell another human how to live their life, but I think I am within my rights when their life decisions begin having an adverse effect on my life. That includes people climbing all over my crap and calling me hateful because I believe that sexuality outside of marriage is wrong and harmful. And yes, I believe marriage is supposed to be between a man and woman only. Why? Not because the Bible says so, but because nature shows us that same sex sexuality is futile.

        To suggest that my vote against same sex marriage promotes suicide in teens, seems about as likely as my vote against legalizing marijuana promotes suicide in young desperate pot-heads. People kill themselves because they are tortured internally, not externally. There are cultures and civilizations that have undergone far more torturous conditions than having their society see them as equal but different. IMO, there can't be real equality because two dudes and two girls aren't ever going to be the same as a guy and a girl. Even if every other societal aspect of their lives reach parity, there will always be something that sets them apart. It doesn't matter if you're gay, transgendered, bi, lesbian, too short, too tall, too skinny, too fat, strong, weak, hairy, bald, etc. There will always be a bone of contention. And if the bone is small, we will magnify it and bitch about it. We are simply wired that way. It doesn't take a Bible to figure that out.

        Those are my thoughts on your post to Mel, Matthew. I guess I'm done…and probably out.

        Peace, faith and LOVE.

        • Jeanine

          Nice comments Tim, and I am glad that you said what you did about suicide. I really objected to those accusations against Mel, in fact I was appalled by them, but I didn't have the words. Your analogy was a good one.

          My sister-in-law committed suicide six years ago and left a note which pointed fingers at everyone in her family except herself. They were a pretty tight and loving family, not really religious at all. Although I loved my sister-in-law and was completely broken for her and her family, I thought her suicide was the most selfish and unloving act I had ever witnessed in my life.

          • Mindy

            Jeannine, I am sure that your SIL's suicide was devastating to all involved. I am sure it was a huge tragedy for your family, and I can imagine that blaming her probably made the grief easier to bear. And I also understand that you don't care much for me or what I have to say. But I am going to say this, anyway.

            Anyone who calls suicide selfish does not understand mental illness. I promise you, she did not do what she did out of selfishness. On the contrary – those who are suicidal truly believe, in spite of what anyone around them will tell them, that the world – and ESPECIALLY those they love – will be better off without them. The crushing depression that leads to suicide has nothing – NOTHING – to do with selfishness. It is an act of complete and utter despair and desperation.

            Someone explained it to me once by saying that a suicidal death is really no different than a cancer death. The person who dies is the victim of a terminal mental illness. Period. I know it is hard to see that. For a person who has never suffered severe depression, understanding that depth of despair is almost impossible. Not seeing it as a selfish act is almost impossible, because you simply cannot put yourself in the victim's position, in the frame of mind in which suicide becomes the only viable option.

            But I promise you that selfishness and a lack of love for her family had nothing at all to do with her final act.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Not always, Mindy, do people who are attempt suicide believe the world will be better off without them, and even when that is case, it does not necessarily indicate any sort of mental illness! You are right that it‘s “an act of complete and utter despair and desperation”, sometimes because a person really just wants to end their own pain (or anticipated future pain), without believing their loved ones—or the world at large—would be any better—or worse—without them. Ironically, it seems to me that typically the suicides of people whom the world really is better off without are of that second variety.

          • Mindy

            Matthew, how can you say that someone who tries to kill themselves is not suffering from mental illness? You think that is normal?! “Normal” people understand that were they to die, their loved ones would be devastated. To not be able to do that has nothing whatsoever to do with selfishness, and everything to do with illness.

            How much experience do you have dealing with suicide?

          • Mindy

            Very cryptic – not enough, but too much. So your answer is . . . ?

            Point taken about hara kiri and the concept of euthanasia, altho' neither of those is what I was referring to. I should have clarified.

          • Mindy

            That is an answer. That's not how you said it before. You said you'd you take your own life if you were suffering from a something from which there was not recovery. That it is suicide, yes, but of the euthanasia variety. Not the same as what we were discussing.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            No, I said I think I would. I do not know for certain. Yet you said that suicide is the result of a "terminal mental illness"; so all suicide is euthanasia by your definition. Just as if I were taken hostage by some hostile tribe and killed myself to avoid being tortured to death, which really isn't so different from living in torment year after year after year until dropping dead one day of natural causes.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Not enough—though from another point of view, even so, too much.

            Yet I know this: By some suicides there is no one “devastated”; and being devastated now for a lasting blessing to come can be worth it.

            I also know that harakiri was performed by many who, given their norms, would be considered perfectly “normal”.

            I can also say that I think if ever I am in severe agony that I have no possibility of surviving, given the opportunity, I’d put myself out of my misery. Indeed, it may well be crazy to do otherwise.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Answer to what? Oh, do you mean that insensitive question you asked, repeatedly, about which I’ve already told you not enough for rigorous analysis but too much for comfort?

            And hold on a second: I didn’t say anything about euthanasia!

          • Mel

            Jeanine, I am so sorry for your sister in law's family, and for your loss. I must say that I agree with you though. I see what Mindy's trying to say, but it's not they do it *to* be selfish, it's just that suicide in itself is selfish. It's selfish because even though they don't want to keep living, which could be because of mental illness, they clearly didn't think of anybody else when they did it. They didn't think about the pain that they were going to cause their loved ones. One of my friend's parents committed suicide, and that's exactly what I thought. How selfish to leave a child and a spouse in this world always wondering if they could have somehow stopped it. Don't get me wrong, it is absolutely horrible when somebody feels that desperate, and in some way I have to feel bad for them. But at the same time, it was selfish.

          • Mindy

            Mel, selfishness means that you put your own interests above others.

            For a suicidal person to be selfish, she would have to think like this: “Even though I know this will devastate my family, I don’t care. I can’t live like this, and I would rather die and let them deal with the aftermath than face one more day.”

            But hat is not remotely what happens. That is NOT how it works. They *clearly* are not capable of thinking of anyone else, or in any rational way, when they are facing suicidal despair.

            When someone is suffering from depression severe enough to lead to suicide, that person truly believes, with her whole heart, that she is worthless (or evil, or dangerous, or useless, etc.) and that the world – ESPECIALLY those she loves – will be better off without her. Someone in the throes of that kind of mental illness is absolutely not capable of grasping that her leaving this life will hurt them far worse than anything that could happen if she hangs on to this life.

            It *feels* selfish to those left behind, absolutely. And feeling anger about it is part of the cycle of grief. But healing, for those left behind, comes only when they fully understand that selfishness has absolutely nothing to do with suicide. NOTHING.

            You can’t imagine that, because you are not mentally ill. You are not suffering from severe, chronic depression. You are not bi-polar or schizophrenic. So you are constitutionally incapable of feeling what a suicidal person feels.

            The thing is, you cannot ascribe “normal” emotional concepts, like selfishness, to a person who is mentally ill. Due to a malfunction in brain chemistry, they are physiologically incapable of “feeling” life the way you do. Their belief that they are worthless and incapable of living overrides every other possible feeling or emotion. Period.

            So really, even though you said that you “see what I am saying,” you clearly didn’t. Hopefully, this clarified.

          • Jeanine

            @ Mindy "“Even though I know this will devastate my family, I don’t care. I can’t live like this, and I would rather die and let them deal with the aftermath than face one more day.”

            This is exactly what she did though. And beyond that, the note she left shifted the blame to each of her loved ones. It was their fault that she felt badly about herself. It was their action or inaction that caused her circumstances. Etc. She killed herself and then put the blame for the blood on them.

            (Just like DR is doing shifting blame to Mel)

            My husband has a close friend who has mental illness and is on medication. He hears voices and lacks and energy and sinks to very low depths. But he is always looking to the Lord and to his friends and family to hold him up. He is never pointing fingers and blaming others for his mental state and low circumstances.

            Big difference between her and him – like night and day. Both mentally ill; one blaming the world and everyon in it and the other looking to the Lord and the fellowship of loved ones.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Just like DR is doing shifting blame to Mel>>

            And you, Jeanine. Don't forget you. If you're going to bring me into it, then let's go!

            You're actually more culpable than Mel. You've had some years under your belt with regard to your faith. You're far more responsible for contributing to the framework of messages – one of those messages being your vote against gay marriage – that contributes to gay kids killing myself.

            Contrary to the charge that I'm angry with all of you for posting what you do, I actually love it. It gives others who are far more articulate than I ever will be the opportunity to counter you with the real data that shows the conservative Christian mindset against homosexuality just doesn't match up to reality. Others read it and some are actually reconsidering their views if the comments on my blog are any proof of that.

            So please keep posting! It's a win for my side, either way. But know this, you've held my church hostage to this kind of thing for years in the "name of Jesus". Many of us are ready now to take it back, and we are. So I'm in it for the long haul, it doesn't matter how nasty you are, how personal you get, or how angry/offended you become. I just don't care. I'll keep being here. I'll keep telling you you are wrong. And I will celebrate when God finally frees His beautiful Church from this kind of mindset. And I hope you're part of the freeing for your sake. If not, God have mercy on you for what you do and say that contributes to the harm of these children. Better a stone be tied to your neck, etc.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            "that contributes to gay kids killing myself."

            Myself? "Themselves". Holy typo, batman!

          • Jeanine

            Honestly DR – I have not made one single comment on gay marriage and what I think about it.

            You are pretty darn angry at me for having never said anything about the topic.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Jeanine. you've defended the vote against gay-marriage a number of times on this forum, at least 3x. But now you're doing what you usually do, just stopping short of saying what your opinion of the matter really is, it's a coy move that's not so coy. It's unbecoming of a grown woman. Let your yes be yes, your no be no.

            I'd go on, but after reading Kara's last comment on this thread, she's right in stating it's become something much more than supporting her. Out of respect to her, I'm going to end it as well. I've said what I needed to say.

          • Jeanine

            Actually, I do not live in California so I have never cast a vote in favor or not in favor of gay marriage in any way shape or form.

            And no, I haven't commented on any post about being gay. I haven't responded to Kara about this at any time.

            I said that I liked Tim's comments because I do not believe you can point a 'blanket' finger at any random person and accuse them of somebody else's suicide.

            The black people of this nation were incredibly oppressed for a very long time and I don't read too many studies of them commiting suicide in mass numbers. What I see is that they were a people who were incredibly close to the Lord; relying on Him to hold them up in their struggles, writing some of our most cherished gospel songs and standing together with awsome strength of character.

            I had a friend in college who was gay who never hurt a fly. Nice guy, really liked him.

            I have another friend who married a beautiful girl, head over heals in love with her, and then came home from work one day and found her in bed with a woman friend of hers. Not cool.

            The only other gay person I know was a husband with two lovely daughters in their toddler years. He began his gay lifestyle by exposing himself to people in public. Not cool. Then he left his wife and kids to live his gay lifestyle. Also not cool.

            I have no comments really about homosexuals because I only know these few people personally who are homosexual; and I have never seen the Lord work in their lives. So, I have nothing to offer to the conversation about that.

          • Mindy

            Jeannine, the man who exposed himself in public did not to so as part of "beginning his gay lifestyle." Exhibitionism is something else entirely. He had problems, obviously. He may or may not be gay. Whatever – you're right, not cool.

          • Jeanine

            Yes, I get that, I didn't mean to say that his exhibitionism was his gay life style. After humiliating his wife (my friend) with some police charges for this behavior; he told her he was gay and has lived with several different men since then.

            I'm just saying; in my neck of the woods – this is not the big issue it is where you all are. And the few people I have known have not made a good impression on me.

          • Mel

            @DR–Jeanine has not said how she feels about homosexuality. I know this because I kept waiting for her to chime in, thinking she'd agree with me, but she didn't. I'm thinking that was a wise decision on her part, not getting involved in it in that way.

            @everybody–Just so you all know, I'm the same as Jeanine in the sense that I have never actually cast a vote with regards to gay marriage. I live in Canada which might explain a lot of questions you guys had about why I didn't know about current events in the States. All I said is that, if given the chance, I *would* vote against making it legal, just like if given the chance, I would vote to make abortion illegal.

            @Jeanine–If you're feeling attacked simply for having an opinion…I know exactly how you're feeling. In my "neck of the woods", as you put it, gay marriage isn't really an issue either. I just feel strongly about the topic, and that is why I chose to engage in the conversation. The fact that DR is saying you are even more responsible than me for gay kids killing themselves just shows that he has nothing intelligent to say. He's repeated this accusation multiple times, and he's just trying to get under our skin. It is absolutely ridiculous to say that, and I'm sorry that you are now the target of these types of comments.

          • Mindy

            Mel, DR is a she, not a he.

            And the historical figures I and others were a little stunned you didn't know were not US figures, they were world figures. Lenin (not Stalin, as I erroneously named) was a Russian dictator, and Hussein – Sadam Hussein – was the extremely cruel dictator in Iraq when we invaded. That you did not know either of those political figures at your age leads me to believe you've led a pretty sheltered life.

          • Mel

            I was actually referring to the "don't ask don't tell" thing. I also didn't know who those people were, but that's not what I was talking about. I'm not much of a history fan.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            What if he or she really did think—perhaps having been conditioned by events in life to do so—that he/she was worthless and thus a burden on spouse and kid and that, in the end, they would be better off without him or her—could move on to a better life with someone else? It’s not always about being desperate due to one’s own personal suffering; not everyone views everything so personally. And you certainly can’t suppose you know how someone who might mentally ill views anything (unless you share their exact illness).

            But Mindy, there you go again suggesting that anyone without a physiological malfunction is “constitutionally incapable of feeling what a suicidal person feels”!

          • Mindy

            Yep. There I go again. As I asked before, how much experience do you have dealing with suicide?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I’m sorry I don't respond to comments I don't yet even know about in responding to another from before it.

          • Mindy

            Don't be a smart-ass, Matthew. It's unbecoming on an intellectual like you.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Well, what experience do you have? It's clearly rather limited and unscientific. In fact, I'd say that anyone who must ask, "how can you say that someone who tries to kill themselves is not suffering from mental illness," him-/her-self suffers from delusional thinking (maintained through prejudicial bias, part of which is to equate the abnormal with the disordered, just as is classification of homosexuality as wickedness).

            Perhaps that is why you did not understand my initial answer, where I clearly say, "not enough"; perhaps you don't understand in what sense just some could be too much.

          • Mindy

            I've worked with suicidal people, and I've been there myself. Without medication, I would be dead. And I have a friend whose husband took his own life and have been stunned at the insensitively she and her young daughters have had to deal with in the few years since.

            So I reacted from my heart rather than my head.

            I spoke too strictly last night, though. I understand what you are saying.

            Suicide happens for a lot of reasons. But selfishness is rarely a cause, and I hate to hear someone who can no longer defend herself blamed for something that was likely out of her control.

            My apologies, however, for speaking in absolutes when absolutes rarely apply to anything.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Oops! See how awful I am: The immediately above was supposed to go under Matthew Tweedell on September 26, 2010 at 6:05 pm.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Tildeb

            “[Y]ou are responding with something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and laying it on Mindy, along with accusations of illness. That’s quite unfair and, to be honest, rather churlish.”

            Why does she get to decide which attitudes/dispositions are ill and which are normal? As I said, sometimes the illness with one who commits suicide is not theirs, but that of society—that of people like Mindy who dismiss understanding of “them” as impossible, who project ill from within and look out and say “you’re sick”.

            I didn’t want to distract from the important problem of suicide (and insensitive or ignorant views on it)—even the prevention of one of which is worth all churlishness—but I guess you and Mr. Shore might be interested in my addressing this.

            So, it’s OK when DR (sorry to bring your name into it, DR—no hard feelings, I assure you) does it to me, or Mindy does it to others—among them the dead, or when Tim does it with terrorists (Ok: everything’s fair when it comes to terrorists, I’ll grant you), or you — with His Holiness, but it’s not OK for me to do so?

            Does it not “make a whole lot of sense” to expect people to have good reasons for such presumptions and, at the very least, that they be not hypocritical regarding who’s allowed to make them?

            While I’ve never been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, except by DR, must we point out that Mindy has, other than by me, been diagnosed with what actually IS a mental illness, yet she too accuses (as we’re apparently now referring to assertion of symptoms—or perhaps really we’re just taking what were formerly accusations and labeling them symptoms) others, who might not have one.

            If there’s any reasonable point to be made, what exactly are we actually disagreeing about, folks?

            Mindy’s a great person. I’m a terrible communicator. The best psychiatrists are a bit fuzzy in practice and rather ignorant in fundamental understanding, in regards to what exactly makes for mental illness. Suicide is tragic. Society can influence suicide rates for the better by adopting the proper attitudes. Attitudes, like disorders, are mental. Abnormality however does not imply disorder. The most constructive attitude is that of understanding, to whatever extent it is possible, of one another each and all. Lack of ability to understand can imply as much about the one doing the understanding as it does about what is attempted to be understood. Lack of understanding proceeds as much from preconceived notions as from the complexity of the task.

            And I all too readily communicate what isn’t properly understood. And Mindy is a wonderful human being!

          • Mindy

            As you said, Matthew, perhaps someone’s life experience has conditioned them to believe they are worthless. Do you think that happens without having a physiological affect on the brain?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Frankly, I find it repugnant if you think that teenage homosexuals who commit suicide in response to a continuous message of denigration of the dignity in who they are as a person are now to be considered malfunctional in their very core; so "no matter how great, understanding, wise, or compassionate you had ever managed to be, none of it would have mattered," as John Shore put it in "Letter from a Christian…" (10/13/09), which seems hypocritical considering your ostensible concern over the effects of what Mel and others believe and/or support in regards to them, Mindy.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            No: that was regarding those that are *not* undertaken in self-interest!

          • Mindy

            First, Matthew, see my response above. Second, when did I ever say anyone was "malfunctional at their very core?" I'm sorry, but that does not define mental illness. Depression is something that some people are born with, some people have a genetic propensity to it, and some people acquire it through life because of the treatment they receive at the hands of others, or other life circumstances that beat them down. When a child's innate spirit is not nurtured, but instead quashed through repeated telling that the core of their being is sinful, wrong, evil, etc., that child's neurological development is changed. That is what I mean by physiological causes. They often exhibit many of the same traits as PTSD victims, and much of their emotional response to the world is based not on reality but on perception of triggers.

            Just clarifying. I do not believe, nor did I say, that gay teens are in any way "malfunctional" at their core. I believe the damage incurred over their lifetimes by constant denigration through the conservative Christian belief system *can* damage their neurological development in such a way as to leave them vulnerable to severe depression and suicidal ideations. Especially when that denigration comes at the hands of their families, the one group tasked by nature and culture to nurture them.

            I fail to find hypocrisy in my thoughts, but admittedly, I wasn't clear last night.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            First, I said, "if you think…."

            Nevertheless that is the logical consequence of your argument that in the substance of their very mind, there is something wrong with their functioning.

            You said, "Due to a malfunction in brain chemistry, they are physiologically incapable of ‘feeling’ life the way you do".

            I challenged this suggestion of, as I phrased it, "physiological malfunction." Rather than argue that that conclusion was not what you intended, you argued the angle that life experience affects physiology (presumably such that it may trigger such mental malfunction).

            How do you judge which functioning is healthy? Sometimes what we see as negative consequences result from normal healthy functioning of the body: sometimes, for example, it's best to let a fever run its course. What is unhealthy is not necessarily a moderate rise in temperature, but the pathogen that has triggered this response. You're saying we should dispense pills to treat the fever (and if a fever takes a life-threatening turn, certainly we should), but what really needs to be focused on is reducing the spread of the pathogen's carriers.

            Why don’t you question your presumptiveness, when you want people opposed to homosexuality to question theirs? Probably because it’s just more convenient, even comforting, as it is for many regarding many things that just don’t seem “normal” to them, that they just don’t understand really but deem undesirable, to label and dismiss it thus. Then we don’t even have to try to understand them, because, as you’ve said, we can’t.

            Sometimes the malady isn’t theirs, Mindy. Sometimes it is society that is ill.

          • Jeanine

            @ Mindy 'lifetimes by constant denigration through the conservative Christian belief system *can* damage their neurological development'

            I know you are not a Christain, but I just have to say that I love the Body of Christ. Oh how I love it.

            The church I attend is as much family as my real family. We are 'the sick' that Jesus came to heal. Adulterers, liars, prostitutes, proud, mentally ill, drug addicts, convicts……. We are it. We know we are these things and we know that Jesus is the healer. We don't depend on statistics, or news articles, or worldly wisdom. We are not looking for the answers in ourselves or in the world around us. We study God's Word together and pray and watch as Jesus transforms our hearts and lives.

            Yesterday, one of our favorite brothers, Rich went home to the Lord at age 58.

            Quick history:

            He was picked up as a teen on drug charges. While spending a few months in jail, a bully in the prisonyard picked a fight with him. He wacked the guy over the head with something and drew a little bit of blood. A few weeks later, the bully died of a stroke; but somehow they pinned it on Rich as murder. He was sentenced to life even though the coroner testified that his death was not caused by the hit on the head.

            One day, he attended a chaple service for the first time and the message was about 'your last opportunity' to walk in the things of the Lord. Due to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, he decided to give the remainder of his life in prison to serve the Lord. He recalls it as becoming a brand new man from the inside out. He felt all of the pain and bitterness of his situation just flow out of him. He felt peace.

            He began writing to a single mom, 10 years older than him, who had 9 kids through a Christian Prison Ministry. They wrote to each other for years.

            She decided to try and get him parol. It took her nine years of work on his behalf, but low and behold he was parolled. The two of them got married.

            They have been married for 7 years now. He has served the Lord with every free minute out of prison. He has ministered to other prisoners, young people, and mostly his wife Rose and her 9 kids. He has bathed her in the love she was missing as a single mom.

            Never one time have I heard him be bitter about the hand he was dealt or blame any other human being. He holds to a very strict 'conservative Christian belief system' because the author of that system is the one who redeemed him and saved him.

            Rich loves Jesus and therefore loves his Bible. He runs that banner of Christ as far up the pole as he can; not so he can inflict people with the burden of the rules of the Bible, but because he knows that Jesus will liberate them from the burden of the things of this life when they surrender to Him as the rule giver.

            Rich died yesterday of cancer, looking forward to being in the arms of Jesus. No anger, no bitterness, no rebellion. Just peace and love.

            The 'belief system' you talk about are the 'rules of the Bible', I assume. But these 'rules' merely show us our own 'hearts so we can begin to understand who Jesus is and why he came.

            We do not cling to rules because we are lazy or immature or self-righteous; we cling to them because Christ became the embodiment of those laws in flesh and blood. We cling to them because He has written them on our hearts and we love Him.

          • Mindy

            Matthew, I really tried to understand what you are accusing me of doing, and I can't. I apologized for painting an issue as black and what that is clearly not, and I explained my perspective. I'm not sure what else to say.

          • Mindy

            Jeannine, my sympathies go out to Rich's family.

            Beyond that, I don't know what else to say. I don't see the point of sharing this story, except to show an example of God's love working in someone's life. That's great. No problem with that at all.

            If this story is supposed to justify choices that hurt people, it doesn't. If you think that the story will encourage me to "surrender to Jesus as the rule giver," it won't.

          • Jeanine

            It was only meant to show that many of us have surrendered our lives to 'the rule giver' because He first loved us; not because we are high and mighty in ourselves.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Mindy

            There’s really no need to apologize for your initial portrayal of it.

            I really didn’t intend to accuse you of anything—simply to correct you—but you keep digging yourself deeper. And now, how is it not clear what I accuse you of?

            You lack sensitivity in understanding (perhaps a somewhat willful trait in regards to this particular matter) and label what you do not understand as some sort of disorder, which is as logically wrong as it is morally wrong.

            It is *you* who are ill, Mindy. It is that attitude that is the disease. And if you'd care to think about it, you’d know it, because you get all worked up over others with the same. You want to fight against morally judgmental attitudes by ultimately allowing your own morally judgmental view towards self-interested suspension of clear thinking to cloud how you see things.

            Did you ever think about the fact that antidepressants can actually *increase* the risk of suicide for some people? As I wrote above, “it may well be crazy to do otherwise.” I know full well that it’s inhuman to view all things in clear, level “sanity”, and I believe there’s good reason for that.

            So perhaps what you call brain-chemistry malfunction and mental illness can actually be a healthy reaction (like fever) functioning to help one survive.

            BTW, it seemed clear to me that Jeanine was also pointing out again that one doesn’t have to grow bitter and blame others (as people who attempt or commit suicide sometimes do) when what their dealt in life is less than ideal, and that informs the basis of her moral judgment in this regard.

          • Mindy

            @Matthew, ya know, it is truly impossible to have a reasoned conversation with you. WHAT are you accusing me of? In what way am I "ill?"

            Seems to me that you are being judgmental of people who, for a variety of reasons, become desperate enough to attempt suicide. I acknowledged that I was wrong to say that selfishness absolutely never plays a part in it. Absolutes, always' and nevers rarely apply – in anything.

            Aside from that, I have stated that abuse and the lack of nurture have an impact on neurological development, and these changes in physiology can play a big role in someone's inability to cope in a "reasonable" way with the problems life throws their way. Cultural discrimination, over time, can become abuse – especially if it happens at the hands of, or in spite of, parents and family.

            I am well aware that some anti-depressants can cause suicidal tendencies in some people – did I ever say anything to the contrary?

            As for the story Jeannine shared, I am well aware of the fact that many people are able to overcome intense adversity without bitterness. I get that, and again, never stated otherwise. Some people cannot help the bitterness, however, and my feeling is that Jeannine was saying that if her SIL – or whomever – would just accept Christ, they'd get all better and life would be rosy. For some, that works. And that's wonderful.

            It just isn't that simple for others. You, for instance, don't seem to have overcome your need to hurl insults and call names in the course of an otherwise civil conversation, and yet you consider yourself a Christian. Why is that?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "Seems to me that you are being judgmental of people who, for a variety of reasons, become desperate enough to attempt suicide."

            No. But *you* are!

            "You, for instance, don’t seem to have overcome your need to hurl insults and call names in the course of an otherwise civil conversation, and yet you consider yourself a Christian."

            I hurl nothing; the only names I use are the ones one has given for him-/her-self; and I have no known-to-me need of anything connected to you at all.

            If you yourself may call people, so can I and so might Jesus.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            correction: Not "If you…", but "As you…".

          • Mindy

            How am I being judgmental, Matthew? I'm not normally obtuse, but I have obviously missed a point or two of yours along the way. What am I calling people? How am I judging anyone?

            The only judging I've done on this blog is of people who refuse to use the brain God gave them to think outside their little box. And the judging is wrong, yes. Not my job, just really hard to avoid.

            Please explain. How am I being judgmental?

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            @ MT

            You challenged Mindy, she retracted her 'absolute' and clarified what she meant. But I think she's pushed one of your buttons and you are responding with something that doesn't make a whole lot of sense and laying it on Mindy, along with accusations of illness. That's quite unfair and, to be honest, rather churlish.

            I think you have a valid point that anti-depressants may not be the solution but a cause for a deepening of a problem but this is rare. I think anti-depressants treat symptoms and can be life-savers. But I don't think they are effective treatment for the underlying problem.

            All that being said, Mindy is about the last person to start throwing accusations around that are not well reasoned and not well intentioned except as a defense mechanism for which she is known to quickly apologize. I am both surprised and troubled that you would not clearly grasp at the very least the 'well-intentioned' part. That means if she writes something that can be taken different ways, you will more often than not be safe to assume that the correct interpretation is the well-intentioned one. She's proven that over and over.

            So for you to accuse Mindy of leaving reasoning behind is just… bizarre. So let me add my bit to John's response:

            ????-?

            What gives?

          • Mindy

            Matthew, I am not judging "who or what is disordered, malfunctioning, normal and ill" – when the heck did you read that in what I wrote?

            In my first responses to Jeannine and Mel last night, I did make it sound like I thought that at first – which I explained was a knee-jerk emotional reaction to the label of "selfish" on suicide victims, based on my own history and that of my friend, as well as suicidal folk with whom I've worked.

            This morning, I acknowledged that my response was too absolute and not fair, and I apologized. I still would suggest that the vast majority of people driven to the point of suicide are dealing with far more pain than simply being "selfish," – but that is my opinion only.

            If you believe that suicide is a normal response to life, then you and I will simply have to agree to disagree. And you can blame it on me being "morally repulsed by the idea of self-interested suspension of clear-headed thinking" if you want. Frankly, I've hit that place where I simply don't care what you think.

            I also am baffled as to how you keep bringing up anti-depressants – I KNOW they are dangerous for some. I never argued that, yet you keep bringing it up as if I disagreed with you. I didn't. You're right. Meds are not the answer for everyone, and are, as you stated, dangerous for some. That is rare, but does happen.

            You don't like me, that is clear. Every time I discuss anything with you directly, you begin to name-call, and when I choose not to participate in your game because your prose is difficult to decipher and you've devolved into meanness, it is all about me giving up trying, my failing, my inability, apparently, to keep up with your masterful philosophical thinking.

            Yep, there I go again, giving up. And that will be my last conversation with you, so fortunately, you will no longer have to grow weary of my obvious lack of intellect.

            Wishing you the best, Matthew, but have nothing else to say to you.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Tildeb

            Of course she is well-intentioned, as are Mel and others.

            That does not excuse the blind presumptions any more than those of anyone else.

            It also doesn't excuse the attitude with which she dismissed certain challenges to them, that is often not one of reason but is insensitive, imperceptive, and occasionally somewhat hypocritical.

            @Mindy

            "I am not judging 'who or what is disordered, malfunctioning, normal and ill' – when the heck did you read that in what I wrote?"

            I've pointed it out plenty already:

            "The person who dies is the victim of a terminal mental illness. Period."

            "You can’t imagine that, because you are not mentally ill. You are not suffering from severe, chronic depression. You are not bi-polar or schizophrenic. So you are constitutionally incapable of feeling what a suicidal person feels."

            "Matthew, how can you say that someone who tries to kill themselves is not suffering from mental illness? You think that is normal?!"

            "Due to a malfunction in brain chemistry, they are physiologically incapable of 'feeling' life the way you do. Their belief that they are worthless and incapable of living overrides every other possible feeling or emotion. Period."

            etc.

            And I asked, and you could not answer:

            "How do you judge which functioning is healthy?"

            "Why don’t you question your presumptiveness, when you want people opposed to homosexuality to question theirs?"

            "That is rare, but does happen," and commonly enough so in teens, possibly up there with LGBT suicide. Your supposition that suicide is indicative of mental illness continues to classify as in need of treatment those who are not necessarily disordered (just as some people's views of homosexuality do)! Then perhaps they are all the more likely to commit suicide, not only because they are told they're mental but because they're given a drug interfering with what might be a normal, healthy reaction to the actual root of the problem. Furthermore this lets family & society off the hook for *being* the root of the problem.

            "Every time I discuss anything with you directly, you begin to name-call…."

            Where did I begin name calling, "smart-ass"?

            "You don’t like me, that is clear."

            That's just silly: What is there not to like about you Mindy? I even like that you’re picking a fight with me where the stakes are so worth my fighting for. Aren't I supportive of much of what you argue? Really, you’re one of the people who make this blog the awesome place that it is, Mindy, and I’m sorry to give you that impression, that I hold anything against you.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Mindy, “How am I being judgmental?”

            First, as I’ve indicated, you are apparently morally repulsed by the idea of self-interested suspension of clear-headed thinking (though it seems to me that you yourself do it at times). So, in avoiding this possibility, you judge—as I repeatedly pointed out—who or what is disordered, malfunctioning, normal and ill, though when so challenged you decline to defend it through reason but fall back on “I don’t understand”, which response I’ve grown weary of.

            You say, “it is truly impossible to have a reasoned conversation with you,” when it is just that you give up trying.

            I have plenty of well reasoned conversations all the time with people who actually care. But why don’t you care on issues like this? Why turn it into a matter of defense and accusation?

            I already stated exactly what you stood accused of, but again the I-don’t-understand defense and then accusation against me.

            Unless we treat the illnesses of society, such as the ill attitude you’re taking, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE.

            Do you really not see how, if a person’s mind is actually responding *functionally*, antidepressants may not be a good idea? How could you interpret this as me thinking you said anything previous about them?

            I suppose the answer lies in that we gave up trying with reasoned conversation.

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            ????

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            @ Jeanine:

            Jeanine, you will have my absolute, unfettered apology if you confirm that if you did live in California, you'd be in favor of gays and lesbians being married and would vote for immediate legislation (thus not supporting that particular branch of messaging that kids receive from this country). It's a fairly simple yes or no question which will more than likely come up in your state soon enough anyway.

            I will wait for you to confirm yes or no.

          • Jeanine

            You always demand to know where I stand on issues as if what I think matters at all. At this point in my life, I just want to know what God thinks.

            I am not particularly interested in statistics and data and cultural trends. I don't trust the culture one bit – it has not been trustworthy since time began. And it certainly has not been trustworthy in my own life! I have been stung more than once by believing the lies this culture has taught me.

            You cannot legislate morality. Passing a law does not make something right or wrong. Our human laws do not change what God expects. Furthermore, laws do not change peoples hearts. Only the Lord does that, and I am not Him.

            You cannot force people to abandoned the traditional Christian interpretation of scripture by passing a law. If that interpretation is wrong – it must be revealed to the world by God, and the best way to accomplish that is through prayer. He is the only one who will change the hearts of men toward sin. God has done this all through history, bringing light to a dark world.

            I will not take your bate with a simple yes or no. If you feel this strongly, beg God to do a work. Otherwise, you are a clanging symbol to those who are listening.

          • Mindy

            Sad, Jeanine, that you cannot answer. Of course, your non-answer IS an answer, but not having the courage of your convictions takes a bit of the 'umph' out of your efforts to push anyone closer to Christ.

            She didn't bait you. She asked a legitimate question. And if she's like me, she *has* prayed about it, a lot. She's asked for God's guidance, and God has commanded her to speak out against this injustice and do all she can to make it right, to make our laws fair for everyone.

            You are absolutely right that morality cannot be legislated. Unfortunately, too many want their own "brand" of morality legislated, and couldn't care less about the consequences to those who don't buy their brand.

          • Jeanine

            That goes both ways. There are many, many laws in place that violate my rights.

            If this is where God is leading her through prayer, then fine. I think there are as many on the other side of the coin that would say that God is leading them as well in the opposite direction.

            Like I said, this one is for the Lord to do. Hearts need to be changed.

            If this issue ever comes to my state, I will spend time in honest prayer. If God wants to change my heart, He will do it. He has changed my heart before about many things.

            And yes, I do hold a traditional Christian view on homosexualtiy as I do on all extra or premarital sex. I tried the liberal 'progressive' view on for size in my own life – and quite honestly it dumped me into a pit. I'm not likely to jump back into that pit.

            Pray for me that God will help me to see His truth. I am not at all offended by that. I really do not wish to cling to any sin in my life.

          • Mindy

            That may well be the most reasonable post of yours I've read, and I will pray that you see His truth, because I believe with every fiber of my being that nothing done in true love could possibly be a sin in His eyes. True love, the kind in which you care more about the needs, wants and happiness of the other person than you do of your own. And when that kind of mature, real love is mutual, it shouldn't matter who that love is between.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            @ Jeanine:

            "I will not take your bate with a simple yes or no."

            So that's a no, then. Got it. Thank you for playing, we have a lovely commemorative platter for you. Please provide your name, shipping address and a credit card for shipping and handling. A social security number will also be required in order to steal your identify and continue to fuel the engine of the lying liberal media. Thank you for your support! It really means a lot.

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          @Tim:

          To suggest that my vote against same sex marriage promotes suicide in teens, seems about as likely as my vote against legalizing marijuana promotes suicide in young desperate pot-heads.

          This is comparing oranges to apples in such an extreme way that it's hard to formulate a response. Even conservative Christians involved with youth readily acknowledge that suicide is an epidemic among gay youth, Dr. Dobsen did a very good piece on it several years ago on his program Focus on the Family. It's a problem.

          If you don't think it's likely", then no one will convince you otherwise. As a Young Life staff member for over eight years (filled with conservative christians) as well as a supervisor at a shelter for homeless kids, I saw the data and it's clear that even from those here and on John's Facebook fan page, those who are gay will confirm it for you.

          People who say this kind of thing – in my experience- are too scared too get close to the data or go find it themselves, so it's dismissed. I've seen it a lot, and while I like you Tim? I have to honest, I don't care what your opinions are, they say a lot more about you than the actual issue which is what I care about most. So if Mel gets her feelings hurt or Jeanine is appalled that's unfortunate but it's so minor compared to gay kids feeling evil enough to just off themselves – particularly gay kids in Christian homes where marriage is a sacrament!

          I just don't care and it's weird to see Christians who are conservative and vote for gay marriage expect me to care about their feelings when this is an epidemic. For me, I care more about stopping any kind of message that tells these kids they are evil, which includes your vote against gay marriage than you protecting some institution that Christians fail at keeping sacred over 50% of the time. So leave the blog if you're feeling injured, offended or insulted. That's fine, there are a million of people waiting in the wings ready to come defend themselves and they'll get the same from me that they have for the last five years when I was one of them, but I learned. You will find what you seek, if you are truly interested in learning more about gay kids killing themselves and the reasons why, you'll go look if and when you get past being accused. And I get it, it's a horrible thing to realize one is a part of something that indirectly or directly causes it.

          This blog is so refreshing because it is confirming that my church that has been held hostage to this kind of thing is freeing itself and will soon be free entirely. I plan on being an active part of its redemption.

          • Tim

            @DR

            I don't dispute that teens, especially gay teens, are statistically at a much higher risk of killing themselves than other segments of society. I only dispute that it is peculiar to what I believe or how that belief informs my vote. It is quite a leap from "I believe marriage should only be between a man and woman", and, "I think gay people are evil and don't deserve equality". That's a broad brush you've just painted me with.

            You openly admitted because of what I believe, my opinion doesn't matter. I guess that's your prerogative but it doesn't go very far to to convince your opponent that they're wrong.. I've looked online for data that specifically links yes votes on prop8 to the increase in gay teen suicide. Still looking. I don't doubt that a considerable amount of people who voted yes on 8 are also the same sort of people who believe homosexuality is a choice and that gay people are evil, disgusting and undeserving of any rights. I don't disagree with the notion that such thinking is counter-productive to achieving equality, and certainly could contribute to the hopelessness some gay teens encounter, but I think it's disingenuous to imply that ALL people who voted yes on 8 employ identical thinking and intent.

            As for the argument that Christians have besmirched the sanctity of marriage, I couldn't agree more. I also don't think the institution of marriage is necessarily sacramental…but then I also don't think the Sabbath is sacred either. I believe that God made the Sabbath for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath. But just because heterosexual couples fail to live up to to the expectation marriage implies, doesn't necessarily mean that we are free to modify it any way we think is cool. I believe God loves everyone. Nobody is excluded. And while we try vainly to assess and grant equal privileges and rights according to our own understanding, there are just some things at aren't equal no matter how much we insist they are. Another opinion you probably don't care about, is that I think the best familial dynamic from which the least affected progeny are born, is the natural family. A father, a mother, and the fruit of their loins. That doesn't mean that two gay men or women can't do an awesome job of raising an adopted or partial blood child, it just means that I believe the child raised by a loving mother and father of direct blood relation is preferable to any other man-made dynamic. Conferring a title by rule of law, doesn't magically revise that natural dynamic.

            DR, I respect your opinion and especially your work. I would also like to review the data you directed to Mel and Jeanine. Regardless of what you think about me, I am a relatively reasonable and gentle person. I'm certainly not perfect or right in all of my thinking. I am always open to debate. But when things get heated to the level of making generalizations, that rarely ever ends with greater understanding. Only greater resentment.

            Love you, DR

          • Mindy

            @Tim – I believe that your intent, like Mel's, is not to hurt. I get that. I don't understand, though, how you cannot see the connection between your beliefs and the increased suicide rate in gay teens. After all the conversations here, after all the explanations from Kara about what it feels like to be told, by cultural standards, that you are a second-class citizen, not worthy of that one thing to which the majority aspire – a lifelong, committed relationship based on true love – how can you not see the connection?

            It isn't that you, Tim, or Mel, run around berating gay people. It isn't that you have treated any kid badly, given a particular gay kid some specific mistreatment over which to kill him/herself.

            But you contribute, through your vote, to the cultural climate that tells kids who are prone to bullying anyway that gay people, because they are "lesser than," are acceptable targets for their idiotic wrath.

            I understand that through our lifetimes, marriage has been an institution between one man and one woman, and through that we form nuclear families and that family structure is what our culture revolves around. It is the most common. It is what we are familiar with, what we recognize as "normal." Hundreds of years ago, we'd recognize multiple wives as normal, concubines as normal, women completely subservient to men as normal. And we'd find Biblical validation for those versions of normal, as procreation was the goal.

            Procreation is no longer the goal. We've got more people than we need, actually, and I don't think many would argue that. Now, the goal is a stable and loving framework in which to raise the next generations, in the hopes of promoting cultural understanding that might actually allow peace to break out. Wouldn't THAT be novel?! Stable and love frameworks in which to raise the generations of people who care more about living in harmony with this only-home-we-have planet Earth, than puffing out their chests and fighting over whose culture is "best."

            Now, families look all kinds of different – adoptive families, single-parent families, step-families, multi-generational families, and gay and lesbian-parented families. Different configurations for lots of different reasons. Women (and men) who have realized that they don't have to settle for a mate they don't really love, just to be a parent – I know many single-mothers-by-choice in the adoption community-at-large – and they are some of the most committed parents I know. The vast majority work hard to make sure that their kids have male role models – grandpas, uncles, etc. – who are involved in their lives. I know a couple of single dads who do the same thing, making sure that loving women are a big part of their children's lives. And their kids are growing up to be caring, wonderful people.

            My kids have a stepfamily now that their dad has remarried, and all of the adults involved have worked very hard at making sure the kids do not suffer the consequences of our mistakes and decisions. Their stepmom and I are on good, friendly terms. Their dad and I are close friends and remain committed to co-parenting. And the vast majority of divorced families I know operate the same way. We look nothing like Jerry Springer guests. Divorce is not optimal, I know, but it *can* be done in such a way as to minimize the harm.

            Gay couples don't *always* stay together – but their divorce rate is well below the average, because they have to work so hard to get married in the first place. They have to work so hard to become parents in the first place. None of it happens "accidentally" for them – they have to commit to a process that can be long and arduous in order to parent, whether it be through adoption or through the miracles of modern medicine.

            If the goal is to create stable, loving nuclear families, homes in which everyone who lives there thrives because they are surrounded by unconditional love, then gay marriage can only add to that. Gay marriage is not going to increase the number of gay people in the world. That is a static number, a percentage of the population that will not go up or down because we change the culture acceptance thereof – except that more gay people may make it to adulthood.

            It is not being gay that drives teens to suicide. It is how they are treated because they ARE gay that drives teens to suicide. If they are treated as if they are equal to everyone else, they will learn to believe, to internalize, that they are, in fact, equal to everyone else. Not less than. Not left out. Not deserving of less when they arrive at adulthood. They will be welcomed to serve their country if they so choose, they will be welcomed into any job without fear of losing it for no reason other than who they are, and they will be welcomed into the ranks of happily married, committed adults, able to depend on each other fully, like spouses do, and able to raise families, just like anyone else.

            It is time.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Thank you. you said this much more eloquently than I can or did.

          • Tim

            Thank you, Mindy. That was a very eloquent and persuasive reply. Like I've already admitted, I'm not perfect, nor can I pretend to be fully informed. I try to do the best with what I know at any given time. I wish I had the time to read and digest every bit of information posted here. Hopefully I can devote some real time to looking at the data and better educating myself.

            After thinking more about it, I see how my vote could be misconstrued by the bully element as a mandate to step up the offensive on gay people. You get that I didn't vote yes on 8 with the intent to deny equal rights. I want all people, especially people raising children, to have all the breaks they can get. After seeing tildeb's article by the aap, I was stunned to see the amount of access to equal protection that gay parents and their children deal with. I realize now that I was misinformed. I want those rights and protections for gay people and their families regardless of what I believe about homosexuality being right or wrong.

            I would like you and any other readers to understand, that my thinking regarding what I regard as the optimal familial dynamic had nothing to do with keeping population numbers up. My only concern is the quality, not quantity, of a population when a familial cornerstone is removed and replaced with one of a different size and shape. Honestly, a big part of me wants same sex marriage to be passed so, 1. Parity between all people can be achieved. 2. That the bully element may take such a change as a call to cool their hate and treat people with the respect they would hope to be treated with. 3. That we could find out for certain if this will be the end-all, be-all conclusion to the controversy.

            Again, speaking honestly, I feel like I'm being asked to compromise my spiritual beliefs to avoid contributing to the idiotic mindset of evil fools who choose to misconstrue my stand for preserving traditional marriage as a hatred for homosexuals. If I were to vote no on 8, or just abstain from voting, would it end there? Or would I be eventually expected to go the extra mile…not just compromising my belief in the voting booth, but muting my beliefs in all arenas of life. Where would it end? If the majority comes to the conclusion that my thinking is wrong or illegal, will they arrest me for my thoughts and remove my children from my home for fear that I will inculcate them with my spiritual ideals?

            I have a lot to review, Mindy. My temptation to pack it in was not one made because I want to avoid seeing anything that will change my thinking. It was because I began to think that too many of the people here are too easily provoked to wrath.

            If I don't reply to anything for a season, it's not because I went home mad. I just need to review some of the referenced data and think about it. It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open my mouth and remove all doubt.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Very nicely said, Tim.

            I think it takes courage to say what you did and bravery to revisit and re-examine beliefs once held to be self-evident and true. It is difficult and challenging to overturn one's heartfelt opinion in light of new and better information when it can't help but bring into some doubt just how well informed are other beliefs. If it's any consolation, what better reason than to put into practice the best of your intentions to do good and make a meaningful difference when it means you no longer have to compromise the rights of others to do so?

            Kudos.

          • Mindy

            Tim, you made me cry. Thank you for this, thank you so very much. I understand the doubt this must instill in someone whose beliefs are so ingrained. I don't, for one moment, believe that in our country, you would be arrested for your religious beliefs – unless those beliefs hurt someone else.

            You'll never be arrested for believing until your death that homosexuality is sinful or wrong. But you have to understand that because that belief is a religious one, you don't have the right to blanket-ly apply it to everyone else.

            That you are willing to consider the evidence and information with which you've been presented here means more than I can ever say.

            I sincerely do not believe that choosing to advocate for allowing ALL people equal treatment under the law is compromising your spiritual beliefs. If you remain involved in a church that chooses not to perform gay marriages, so be it. I wouldn't go there, but I respect the right of churches to make that decision individually.

            What you would be doing is choosing to live compassionately as Jesus did, choosing to make sure the laws of the land are fair and that everyone, EVERYONE, is allowed that elusive pursuit of happiness and the right to worship where and how they choose.

            Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your willingness to learn.

          • Susan

            @ Tim

            It is wonderful that you are going to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider these ideas. That is all many here really hope for – that someone will simply consider other alternatives.

            I, for one, am grateful for you opening your heart and mind to an idea that is new to you.

            Bless you, Tim.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Again, speaking honestly, I feel like I’m being asked to compromise my spiritual beliefs to avoid contributing to the idiotic mindset of evil fools who choose to misconstrue my stand for preserving traditional marriage as a hatred for homosexuals. If I were to vote no on 8, or just abstain from voting, would it end there? Or would I be eventually expected to go the extra mile…not just compromising my belief in the voting booth, but muting my beliefs in all arenas of life. Where would it end?>>>

            Tim, first? Thank you. Just even reading this makes me a little teary and gives me tremendous hope for this dialogue.

            I've pressed enough, but I wanted to specifically let you know that I've been though this *exact* process. I could have written this five years ago, I felt it all over again reading this entire reply.

            I understand it, and for someone who is so committed to Christ, it's a very important and honest assessment. To even articulate it is scary enough. You want the ability to live out your beliefs and vote as a result of them. And this is America, what informs your vote is absolutely 100% of your business.

            For me, where I landed was needing to weigh everything out and focus on who was in the most need of his protection – who was the most vulnerable – in a way, who was the "orphan and the widow" in this sense. And then for me it all came together.

            Much love to you in this. Seriously. I don't think any of us would want you to consider anything different out of any pressure or bullying or compromising (though sometimes conflict is what breaks patterns in our minds).

            We live in very uncertain times right now where there is a lot of confusion on the Emergent church vs. the conservative church. Lost of suspicion and at times, more heat than light. But if one reads, at each big juncture of change we've faced in our nation, it rears up. But whatever you do and think and believe needs to come from the Still, Small Voice inside. And I trust you listen to it.

            Thank you again. DR

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Is the broad brush applicable? I think so because opinions like yours, rooted in theology, is very difficult to overcome by good reasons and information – the very roots of civil debate.

            For goodness's sake, if not for the millions of citizens you wish to marginalize for incredibly bad reasons, will you please educate yourself?

            From the American Academy ofd Pediatrics linked to above,

            There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.

            I echo Mindy: it is time to put aside such beliefs as yours based as they are on bad reasons and no evidence.

          • Mindy

            Thanks, Tildeb – for putting the AAP quote in here. I know several couples with kids, and they are the greatest kids – there is something about being parented by someone who had to work twice as hard to become your parent that leaves the whole family with this sort of joyous appreciation for each other, and protective love of each other – and this open spirit of affection that spills over into their friendships and school relationships. It's hard to explain, but the families I've seen are beautiful. And on top of all that, resoundingly normal.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            I don’t dispute that teens, especially gay teens, are statistically at a much higher risk of killing themselves than other segments of society. I only dispute that it is peculiar to what I believe or how that belief informs my vote.>>>

            I’m not telling you that I think your vote to prevent gay and lesbians is part of the reason why kids kill themselves Tim – I’m telling you that I know it’s part of the problem. You can deny it all you want to, but the data is out there! It’s out there, even Dr. Dobsen admitted to gay kids from Christian homes being told they can’t get married is a huge contributor to this issue. You have actual gay people *telling* you that it is part of a message that they are receiving – from you – that they don’t count, they will never be holy enough or good enough. It’s not me who is telling you this, it is the gay population who is confirming it.

            You openly admitted because of what I believe, my opinion doesn’t matter. I guess that’s your prerogative but it doesn’t go very far to to convince your opponent that they’re wrong.>>>

            You are certainly my opponent, but it’s not your opinion I’m seeking to change because I’m sick of investing the energy to do so (I’m just being very candid here). It’s noy my job to convince you that you voting against gays being married contributes to a framework of belief that gay kids receive from Christians in America and it contributes to many going into despair and killing themselves. Here’s a question for you – why would I even have to convince you of anything? That gay kids are killing themselves at epidemic proportions (the number sky rockets in Christian homes) should be enough for you to research the issue on your own. I’d far prefer investing my time working to figure out how to simply minimize the damage the Christians community has done to this population by spending time with them.

            , but I think it’s disingenuous to imply that ALL people who voted yes on 8 employ identical thinking and intent.>>

            With all due respect, your intent means absolutely nothing when the impact is so severe and contributes to what is happening.

            And while we try vainly to assess and grant equal privileges and rights according to our own understanding, there are just some things at aren’t equal no matter how much we insist they are.>>>

            Whoa. I’m talking about Civil Rights here. I’m so shocked by this comment that I don’t know how to respond. I’m actually speechless which I think we’d all agree is a first here.

            Another opinion you probably don’t care about>>>

            Tim you keep offering this in a very petulant way. Stop it. We don’t know one another and not everyone has to respect one another’s views, OK? Yes it’s true, I don’t respect Conservative Christians and their thinking re: gay marriage, I think it’s dangerous and I know for a fact it is contributing to kids who harm themselves. So please, stop with this, this is not about you or your feelings getting hurt.

            That doesn’t mean that two gay men or women can’t do an awesome job of raising an adopted or partial blood child it just means that I believe the child raised by a loving mother and father of direct blood relation is preferable to any other man-made dynamic. Conferring a title by rule of law, doesn’t magically revise that natural dynamic.>>>

            With the thousands of abused and neglected in foster care right now? And the foster care parents being a massive amount of gay and lesbian adults who are caring for kids that came from the “fruit of the loins” of parents who burn them with matches or starve them? Reality doesn’t match up to your image, here.

            Regardless of what you think about me, I am a relatively reasonable and gentle person.>>>

            Tim, here’s my point. At some point, you all need to stop feeling so attacked when some of us who have been on the front lines with these children and this community of people firsthand, and have had to deal with their suffering, their devastation, gay kids being kicked out of christian homes time and time again. I know you want to believe you are one of the “nice” Christians and I’m sure you are very kind and gentle. In *this context*? All I am focused on is the impact of your vote and the theology that leads to it. At that point, I just simply stop paying any attention to your intent while you seem almost exclusively focused on it.

            I’m certainly not perfect or right in all of my thinking. I am always open to debate. But when things get heated to the level of making generalizations, that rarely ever ends with greater understanding. Only greater resentment.>>>

            Again, this isn’t the typical candy-coated Jesus talk that people are used to. But I just don’t care if you feel resentful, because don’t you see? That is about *you*. You are making this entire thing about *your* feelings and how I perceive *you*. When *you* aren’t at massive risk for suicide.

            Thanks for the discussion.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            And for the record, I bet you are one of the kindest and gentlest people on the planet and would never in a million years do anything intentionally or deliberately to hurt any child. And I also understand you are voting out of your ethical construct which is a very deeply personal thing.

        • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

          @ Tim

          You start out your comment by explaining that you see design so you assume a designer and then build a very long argument about his nature and how he operates in the universe. I think you're wrong. Badly wrong. I think you have made an error in how you justify what you believe is true and have compounded it into justifying secondclass citizenry that leads to higher suicide rates. This is an atrocious outcome and one that can be shown to directly link the high suicide rates of gay teens to the theological beliefs that you think best represent this god of yours and his supposed love. When I express it this way, it makes these beliefs of yours appear perverted and skewed when I know you don't mean them to be this way, but you seem not only blissfully unaware of the link between the two (as has been discussed very succinctly by many others on the blog) but refuse to dare question the righteousness of them. This is blind and brutal theology couched in words intended to be of love and peace.

          Consider the terrible e-word: epistemology. How can you know if your starting position from which all else follows is correct?

          Well, in methodology, one usually starts with a hypothesis based on evidence and then does everything one can to try to disprove it. Did you leave the keys on the counter? Go look. That's what we call the scientific method and we use it everyday with nothing but success. Keys not there? Look elsewhere. Find answers in the form of evidence. Its practical and it works. But you make an observation that the appearance of design reveals the truth of a designer and then do everything you can to protect all the conclusions you have derived and invented from this starting position from being questioned or disproved!

          Why do gay teens have a staggeringly higher suicide rate do you think? Lots of people with good first-hand knowledge have told you, but you simply seem to dismiss their points (I'm waiting for you to fit what they say into your solidified belief set). Why is that? I doubt it is because you simply don't care. I think it is because you don't see the connection if it casts your 'truth' to be anything other love and lightness. And yet…

          These poor kids have been subjected to too much of what your kind of 'love' looks like in action at the high school level. Although you may disagree strongly with the methods used to make the lives of many of these kids a living hell, to be the objects of bullying and violence and derision, from where I sit I see clearly the link between your belief that equal legal status and equal respect are not theologically justifiable for anyone who holds a same-sex preference, so what we see in the ongoing tragedies of gay teen suicides is in fact a translation of your actual beliefs into deplorable action. And as long your beliefs remain impermeable to overwhelming evidence that they are immoral (and just look at all the dead bodies at four times the rate of other 'troubled' teens) in that that they help maintain the justification for the second class citizenry – that translates into the ongoing brutality and bullying and derision gay teens are subjected to – then your beliefs and those who so piously support them will continue to play a central role in maintaining this ongoing tragedy.

          Unless and until you recognize why your epistemology is so badly flawed, your willingness to cling to what you have assumed to be the conclusive truth of your beliefs will continue to pollute your good heart and your honest intentions to do good. I hope that your support of that which should be morally repugnant to anyone who cares more about the welfare of real people more than theological conclusions will end sooner than later, that you will go from being part of the problem to part of the solution.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Hey, Tim.

          How was I suggesting your vote against same sex marriage promotes suicide in teens? (I'm not saying that I wouldn't say that it does but challenging relevance to what you explicitly claim to be commenting on.)

          I didn't say one can "be" a blank slate! I said, "pretend". Just as I can draw rows and columns of dots to show that 4×7 = 28 as if I didn't already know that to be the case.

          I'm interested in how you define God such that empirically proving that He exists is beyond possibility.

          And in this case, the proposition discussed ("God forbids homosexuality," not Prop 8) is just an arbitrary belief that one can't expect to have any validity in guiding public policy (such as Prop 8).

          Marriage is not just about sexual reproduction, Tim. If a man or woman is found to be infertile, or after a woman can no longer bear children, should a marriage stand legally annulled?

          While nature shows that shampooing is futile, you err in claiming nature shows us that same-sex sexuality is futile; apparently you greatly misunderstand the complexity of sexuality's role in higher mammals, and in human culture and what we can expect for humanity's future.

          Speaking of which, what about fossil fuel exploitation? And who knows regarding exploration?

          And what about shaving? Or most everything gold-related?

          Yet there is no reason that human relationships, and the nature of the human being, are that they're supposed to just be factories for future human beings. And there is also no reason to think, on the basis of nature alone, anything but that the whole of human life is ultimately futile!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Correction: that's supposed to be "regarding ^space^ exploration"; and not " 8) " but "8"+")".

  • Mindy

    You still indicating that you think it is even possible for Kara to "change her mind" – you know YOU won't change it, but . . . . – tells me that you haven't heard a word anyone has said to you.

    • Mel

      Mindy, maybe you can help me out. Since I can't direct anything at John specifically, perhaps you can shed some light on the topic. Why do you think he responded to me with the comment not to direct anything at him? My comment was simple…do you see why that would make him so angry? And then with his comment above…to block or not to block, etc. What was in that comment that would make him block me?

      • Kara

        Mel – This is so very much not about any one particular comment. Reread this post, maybe, for an idea as to what it is about.

        As to the "to block or not to block". He very clearly said you could stay, but not to talk directly to him, or about hat one specific comment. Which you then proceeded to do.

      • Argy-bargy

        I've often thought that Christians make very poor martyrs. Just saying….

        • Tim

          I think the self-righteous make very poor martyrs. But all Christians aren't self-righteous any more than all Muslims are terrorists.

          • Argy-bargy

            Pardon my snarkiness….You're right, of course. I've just had it up to here with people who feel so "persecuted for their faith." Yeah, sorry…people tend to get a bit steamed about hypocrisy….

            Tonight, on Action News: Truth-telling as Persecution? Film at 11….

          • Tim

            The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5) talks about the blessing of being persecuted for Christ's sake and his righteousness. Now I realize it's pretty easy for Christians (myself included) to take a stand for what they believe to be true and feel pretty high and mighty over instances when they get blasted and crapped all over for what they see as being Christ-like. Only trouble is, once we get crapped on, we can't just shut up, walk and count it all joy. I mean the Bible is pretty clear about what a believer should do if they are not received. Kick the dust off their sandals and walk away. The self-righteous make poor martyrs, but they seem to make pretty good boomerangs.

            When I think of humility, I think of my Savior standing silent before His accusers. I think of Him walking under the weight of a heavy beam while His accusers beat and spit on Him. I think of love that keeps no record of wrongs, or love that is not angry, rude or self-seeking. If any of us (Christians) can muster such power of restraint and repose, I can't help but guess we won't feel like we deserve the last word.

            The Spirit gives life. The letter…death. I find wisdom in letting former get the last word.

      • Susan

        Mel,

        Perhaps we had all hoped that your questions, your requests for information, for others to share, etc. were attempts to expand your views… Thus we have all, especially, Kara, tried to provide you with what you were requesting.

        People have spent a lot of time trying to explain their views, comments, passions, research to you in various ways so that you would comprehend because you basically kept "not getting it" and continued to question. People have tried to accommodate you. When you commented about your feelings being hurt, or how another comment made you feel, this group responded lovingly, sometimes harshly, but all in attempts to reach out to you.

        When you ask questions, it is assumed that you want to learn. Inherent in learning is being open to new information. Being open to new information means you are open to the possibility of changing an assertion. If you've no intent to learn, stop asking questions. As I said before, if you merely want to build a defense to solidify your own beliefs, stop asking questions of those who are different. Go back to places that shelter you from this world, reality, the truth.

        Or, engage in the world on a two-way street.

        Now, a quick scan of the above comments…what word sticks out the most? YOU. At least three of John's posts have turned into and about YOU. People answering you, giving you info, helping you gain new knowledge. You, you, you.

        You have become high maintenance, which, of course people here allowed because we thought you gave a shit.

        But in the end, it has all become about you. Then, you want to criticize the owner of the very forum that so many people have spent hours trying to accommodate you, help you, show you love.

        If you are going to be critical of John, why not send him an email. Why turn his blog into a conversation back and forth between the two of you?

        Why wouldn't John be upset that his readers have given of themselves relentlessly to you, that thought-provoking posts he blogs turn into Mel-sessions, that you then try to drag him into the forum not only to criticize but to once again turn the focus on to you.

        In keeping with John's ingenious post, you have come to his house as a guest for dinner, and instead of taking him to the side and saying something in the preparation has soured your stomach, you've told him his cooking sucks in front of all his guests, shit on his carpet and told him to clean it up.

        Perhaps he wants to block you so that those who continue to give will stop their efforts at filling a bucket with a hole in the bottom. So that his readers can read, share and learn about more than Mel.

        • Argy-bargy

          "Perhaps he wants to block you so that those who continue to give will stop their efforts at filling a bucket with a hole in the bottom."

          Oooh…this is good. Very well put.

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          Susan,

          You are a consistent model of the love, grace and patience I wish I had, I know I need and I don't choose to pursue more. For me, these people have stolen my church and are hurting people with it, and now I'm taking it back. I feel like I have to protect the Karas of the world from the Mels when in fact, Mel could be someone who is in more need of love and support than anyone.

          We're all so screwed up and see through a cloudy, broken mirror. I need to remember the consistent model Jesus set and that He truly has the last word on what is going on with her and that it is Deeply Good.

          • Susan

            Your kind words do not apply to me, as you've not read all I've written. Anger and self-righteousness are in my soul right now. I am troubled by the fine line that is so easily tread over, in general, and in me specifically. Compassion and good intentions morph into ego driven defensiveness, anger, etc. A lesson, perhaps, that fighting hate with love must truly come from the Divine. I try and fail.

      • Mindy

        @Mel – really? You really can't see it? Everyone who has responded here has said it better than I could. You are behaving like a selfish brat, period. You don't want to KNOW, you want to know – little morsels that you can then fend off with more scripture.

        You've asked all these questions and heard nothing, not one thing, that anyone here has said to you. You've been the recipient of a lot of time, thought and passion from a lot of people – a wide variety of backgrounds and educations and histories – and you've dismissed it all.

        I'm sorry, but no, I can't help you out. John called you out for being disingenuous – for presenting yourself as someone who wanted to learn, but not really being that at all.

        You really need to RE-READ AND COMPREHEND all that has been said to you over the past several days. About homosexuality, about how your belief system hurts gay people, and most of all about the version of Mel you have presented to this community. It's not pretty. If it's real, you should take all of this . . . feedback . . . as a wake-up call and take a fresh, hard look at your faith and what it is informing you to be. If it's not real, if the "you" we are reading here is not who you really are, perhaps a creative writing class – or maybe therapy? – is in order.

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Oh, but snappeth.

  • http://allegro63.blogspot.com/ Sylvie Galloway

    As usual well done, John. I love the analogy, and being a grown-up now, I tend to have little use for Silly Putty, and tend to simply ignore it as having little value.

    • Tim

      Ever meet Silly Putty's impressive relative…"Mighty Putty"?

      • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

        Or Putty on Seinfeld. My favorite character on that show.

        • Tim

          Favorite Puddy episode is when he tells Eleaine she's going to hell.

          Elaine:David…I'm going to hell. The worst place in the world. The devils, those those caves, and the ragged clothing…

          Puddy: It may be rough.

          Elaine: (Shoving Puddy) Ah! You should be tryin' to save me!

          Puddy: Don't BOSS ME! This is why you're goin' t' hell!

          Elaine: I am NOT goin' t; hell'. And if you think I'm goin' t' hell, you should CARE that I'm goin' t' hell! Even though I am NOT!

          Puddy: You stole my Jesus fish, didn't you?

          Elaine: Yeah! That's right! (making horns with index fingers and making demonic utterances a la Regan from The Exorcist)

          CA-LASSIC!

          • Susan

            I remember that episode. Classic, indeed!

            And, remember how Elaine found out he was Christian? she picked up his car from the shop and all the pre-set radio stations were tuned to Christian stations. She changed the stations to see if he would notice they were changed, and the next time she got back into his car, they were re-pre-set to Christian stations, so her suspicion was confirmed!

          • Tim

            Yeah. The Christian rock stations were RESURRECTED!

            the other favorite moment in that episode was when Jerry asked Elaine if she would rather Puddy be lazy and dumb than religious.

            "Lazy and dumb, I understand!"

            It's funny 'cause it's true!

          • Susan

            Absolutely.

            Seinfeld hasn't been on primetime for, what, 10 – 15 yrs? And yet people still bond over it. yet another intriguing cultural phenom!

  • http://blueberrypancakesfordinner.wordpress.com blueberrypancakesfor

    shit! i take a day or two off to help get my 3rd grader of to "farm camp" ( yes a real farm where he will get the eggs for b-fast and milk goats and all that farm stuff and the first over night trip from us )

    wow i always miss the good stuff.

    iho? if they are hateful? block. hurl personal insults? block.

    the end

    i will let you know how the trip to the farm went.

  • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

    *Wanders into house, half-listens to the conversations, looks down at kitty ! puppy ! bird in a cage ! pet rhinocerus ! -whatever animal(s) you happen to have. Starts playing with them. Starts talking to self and/or animals knowing that no one's really listening or caring.*

    Pretty much my style as a real houseguest, too. I'm crazy and am more interested in people's pets than I am in the people.

    Ever seen the Flame Warriors? http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/ Pretty much every heated Internet conversation I've ever been in. We've *all* been at least one of these at some point. The truth hurts but is best admitted to. (Though the "Atheist" on the roster should probably be "Anti-thiest" or some other kind of qualifier, since he's supposed to be the counterpart to the "Decon" – but, hey, "God" is on the roster, too).

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt – especially if they're young, but I have my limits. You also have to accept that with some people – there is just no talking to. I remmeber once, about a year ago, being in a conversation on a board that I'm *still* mad about – I was in a debate upon healh care reform and I make no secret of being a "dirty socialist" about stuff like that, because of my own struggles — most of the people opposed to me got my dander up, but I could respect them because they actually had gave good reasons for their stances (I can understand an "I don't trust th government" stance very well).

    Some young Twerpy McTwerpson came along with "Obama only got elected beause the homeless people voted for him and they want to mooch off free health care." My jaw DROPPED. I was on the cusp of being homeless myself, and a respected member of the board (a Middle East war veteran, no less) had made an annoucement about having to leave the board becuase she was going to have to live in her car for a while. So, it wasn't the health care issue anymore here – it was the attitude toward the homeless that made me want to tear this person APART.

    Inwardly, I completely lost it. Instead, since the kid was "Decon" type flame-warrior who made a big show of how "Christian" he was and how every opinion of his was right because he followed God…. I whipped out my Bible and looked up some things that Jesus had to say regarding what ones attitudes toward the poor ought to me. Mind you, I prefaced it by saying that I wasn't using Jesus to argue health care reform – that isse was beside the point now, I was only using Jesus to point out what I'd found wrong with Christian McTwerp's general attitude toward the less fortunate.

    He shot back something about how "Jesus didn't mean to help the lazy."

    *Cue stamping of feet, snorting of dragonfire and being really glad for my own honor that I cannot do grevious bodily harm to people through a computer screen.*

    It just illustrates that, sometimes, if even Christ cannot get to the "Christians" … there's really no hope for the rest of us to deal with some people. Just give people time and the hardships of being an adult, and maybe they'll grow some empathy. If not, we learn to avoid them.

    • Diana A.

      "It just illustrates that, sometimes, if even Christ cannot get to the “Christians” … there’s really no hope for the rest of us to deal with some people. Just give people time and the hardships of being an adult, and maybe they’ll grow some empathy. If not, we learn to avoid them."

      This is so true. Thanks for saying it.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Very nicely said, Shadsie.

      • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

        The weirdest thing about it is that serious conversations like this can happen *anywhere.* The one I used as an example? Happened on a videogames board – a board for The Legend of Zelda. Granted, it was on a portion set aside on the board for mature-topics disscussion (to keep that junk off the rest of the board), but… I saw how angry I was getting and opted to have a mod put me on a voluntary ban for that section, which stands to this day. I go to the Zelda board wanting to disscuss Zelda. If I’m talking politics or religion there, I want it to be politics and religion as they relate to the magical land of Hyrule. (You do spend any given game restoring the political system by saving the princess and there are goddesses and such, but you know… fun!) I’ve learned to segregate – go to serious blogs and sites for serious stuff, keep gaming and fun stuff to fun disscussion.

        What’s weirder was that back when I was younger, stupidier (and homophobic), I used to get into politics and gay rights disscussions and rants on a board for Pokemon. My fiance’s done a lot of work to restore that board, and is a bit dissapointed that I won’t touch it, even when I say “I’m ashamed of what I used to be, I don’t want to remind myself of it.”

        • http://allegro63.blogspot.com/ Sylvie Galloway

          i had completely forgotten about that flame warrior's website. I met more then on in my day of chat room/forum moderating.

  • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

    Thanks for opening your house to us, John. I like it here. You're really very patient.

    And stunning with those extended metaphors. Seriously.

    Thank you.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Thank you! (And to the others of you who've said such kind things about what I've written here.)

      • http://spiritualmeanderings.wordpress.com/ Sentinel

        All I can say John, is that you must have some pretty good coffee brewing in the kitchen. Because there's something that keeps me here and reading "in your house" when I should have gone to bed an hour ago… :)

  • Robert Meek

    Why are you torturing us poor feeble-minded souls, John? You don know I had to make Google edjookate me on what that thar word "tchotchke" is about, and I still ain't sure how to pronounce it! ;)

    [Every now and then I cannot resist sliding out of my Yankee-birthed proper grammar into South Carolina slang! ;) Would that I could do this A-V for you! It would fly better as the joke that it is, than as one dimensional like this.]

    Okay, I know the kinda person you mean, but why are you picking on Silly Putty? That was always one of my Flavorite Childhood Toys and it deserves a Place Of Honor in History, me thinks! (How many of us were in the back seat of the car, traveling, bored, until our mothers handed us the Silly Putty to play with on top of the comic book we had in our hands? Ah, those were the days, when we had to use our fingers, and didn't have electronic digital toys to fry our brain cells with!)

    But back to reality, and all jokes aside, that kind of person, my ex-number-one (of four) bragged "I'm a chameleon. I'm all things to all people." But what he meant was he was a CON man, and a very good one.

    Those people are cons, that's what they are.

    Well, that, and liars, as you say, John, but I think it's safe to say the two go hand in hand.

    They never change, these cons, these "Silly Putty" people. As a coworker said eons ago to me about that ex-number-one "A leopard can't change its spots!" In one of my last, and maybe my last conversation with him, that person bragged, quite literally bragged, "I'm still the same old arrogant A-hole that I've even been, Robert!" My tart response was that it was tragic that he found that a claim to fame, something to brag about, and be proud of.

    That, in a nutshell, is why I don't deem "Silly Putty" people can be motivated to change, unless they choose to do so on their own. Yes, people can change. Lord knows I'm a tad better at 53 than I was at 23, 33, and 43. In being less arrogant, less of a know-it-all, that is. But I wanted to change. I didn't like who I'd become.

    I am equally certain that it is impossible to motive change from the outside in such a person.

    As the saying goes, been there, done that.

    Ah, time of a Poodle nap – meaning joining my Poodle for a nap. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

      I wondered where you were, Robert. Nice to hear from you!

    • Tim

      I think it's pronounced Chot-keh. Is that Yiddish? There was was also a spin-off from "Happy Days". "Joannie Loves Tchotchke"

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        It's CHOTCH-key. "Joanie Loves Tchotchke." That is hilarious!

        • http://www.virushead.net/ Heidi

          My Polish grandmother said Chotch-kah.

  • gooseberrybush

    Wow! Mel doesn’t get me like that. I can think of two or three people on here that do, mostly because they’re old enough to know better, but I am not going to name them. After a while, when I caught on to their game, I just quit reading their comments, not because they said things I didn’t agree with. It was because they seem to be closed minded and to not be able to give intelligent and thoughtful reasons for their viewpoints. They’re just right, period. God is on their side. And that’s what I think makes them wrong.

    • http://none Don Rappe

      I don't get Mel that way either. That is, I don't think she's "playing". Given her level of experience, which she has generously shared with us, and her strong belief that sexual orientation is a choice, she has not yet made that "choice" in an existential way. I do not think the questions she asks are as theoretical as they may seem to some of us. Clearly, they are very important to her.

      • Mindy

        I thought the same thing for quite awhile, Don, until every time I got the least bit terse or sharp with her, she pulled the hurt feelings card out and waved it around, without ever saying anything that would validate her views, nor acknowledging in ANY WAY that what so many people where saying to her was remotely worthy of consideration. People who work with suicidal gay teens, people who ARE gay, people who have gay friends and family members, scholars on the subjects of psychology and human sexuality – she completely and utterly dismissed everything we/they had to say. We aren't Christian, or, if we are, we aren't viewing it through a Biblical lens – whatever her reason, she dismissed it. All of it. I don't believe anymore it is the least bit important to her, really.

        She fits, exactly, into gooseberry's last few sentences: "It was because they seem to be closed minded and to not be able to give intelligent and thoughtful reasons for their viewpoints. They’re just right, period. God is on their side. And that’s what I think makes them wrong."

        • http://none Don Rappe

          I think it's because I'm 74 and I keep remembering she's 18. I'm not sure when I first came to realize what happens when bad things happen and good people do nothing.

        • http://none Don Rappe

          I think that when I was 18 God was always on my side and I was usually right. I kind of remember that. And my perceptions of relationships with women resembled hallucinations.

          • Mindy

            LOL!!! Yeah, 18 was a bizarre age, wasn’t it?! Mel very much wants us to ignore the fact that she is 18, though, don’t forget. Plus, you’ve got a couple of decades on me, so don’t forget how mouthy you were when you just a pup of 50. ;->

            Seriously, you’re right. One of my very favorite quotes is from Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” And I probably didn’t figure that out til way, way past 18.

            I did not, however, have this kind of in-depth discussion on any controversial topic at that age without at least considering the other side of it.

          • http://none Don Rappe

            Thanks Mindy. I like listening to you and the other contributors. (So literate) Yes, there is a lot of evil in this world. I suppose the teen who takes his own life has fallen victim to the same world view as Mel. So she is not ultimately responsible, the Liar is. The scripture that always pops into my mind about this matter is “For any who offend against these little ones who believe in me, it will be better for them on the day of judgment, if a millstone were hung around there neck and they be thrown into the depths of the sea.” This applies more to the preachers who spread this world view in the name of God than those who mistakenly accept it.

        • http://none Don Rappe

          I suppose it is rude to engage with one person only and ignore the others. She did do this. Kind of like not getting that it’s John’s blog and not hers.

  • Skerrib

    Just wanted to let you know I’m still here and reading…my littles are taking a lot of time & energy these days.

    And great post, this one. I like to sit & squish SP in my hands while I work.

  • denver

    I have a couple of acquaintances who are Silly Putty People – they used to be close friends, but we drifted apart (wonder why?). I have a new friend who is Super Fabulously Awesome With The Debating in ways that I could never be – sometimes I think I produce a decent argument IN WRITING, after having taken time to research and rephrase and reread and basically act like I’m writing a dissertation – but verbally, I freeze up and unintentionally release my inner Sarah Palin/Joe Biden/Miss South Carolina and blurt some random thing that may or may not be pertinent, let alone an effective argument. Anywho, I am now overcome with the steeply-fingered desire to introduce eye-rolling, patronizing acquaintance to Awesome Debater friend and watch.

    Does that make me a bad person? ;)

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      I don't know. But it makes you a good blog commenter.

  • Diana A.

    I’m not sure if this is on topic, but I think that the general “Mel-bashing” that’s going on isn’t doing anything to help her to change. If anything, it’s probably pushing her further into her stubbornness. That’s the effect that it would have on me at least.

    I understand that it’s exasperating when she refuses to consider the possibility that she might be wrong. I would like to see her change in that regard too. But attacking her for her viewpoints isn’t going to effect that change. Time, maturity, getting to know more gay Christians–these things might change her mind and her heart eventually, but bashing her will only make her more stubborn. That’s just how people are.

    I think that if we can not be kind to her and respectful to her, regardless of how she treats us, that we might be better off just benevolently ignoring her. If she’s a truly a game-player (always a possibility), she’ll get discouraged when she is ignored and she will go away.

    Just my thoughts and I could be wrong.

    • Susan

      Diana,

      Excellent advice that I should have read before I commented. Now, twice.

      Although, I think I care less about Mel now, and more about potential readers. What if my awkward, but sincere-intending comments, have no effect on Mel, but somehow, God transforms my message into an eloquence that speaks to someone else's heart?

      Or maybe, quite honestly, I'm just angry and not acting very Christian-like. My good intentions can easily turn into something less than genuine. Something I have to keep in check.

      Okay, I'm ending this rambling.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • http://none Don Rappe

        Cast your bread on the waters.

    • Mindy

      Diana, you may be right. Frustration does indeed get the best of me. But sometimes, harsh words are necessary when trying to right a great wrong. Not that little ol' me is going to single-handedly do so, by any means, but after much effort to "kill with kindness," I had to call it like I saw it. Yes, I got snarky. And no, that's not the best side of me.

      But I'm with Susan – even if Mel doesn't hear it, maybe someone else does. Maybe someone who is hurting sees that people are standing up to bigotry and defending his or her way of life, even though we aren't living it. Maybe that gives them hope. Maybe someone who's gut is telling them that it is wrong to deny gay people their rights but they can't quite figure out how to accommodate their biblical learning into that mindset will understand that it is possible.

      Or I just bruised my skull for no good reason at all. ;-)

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      You're right. Thank you for that.

    • ManimalX

      "I understand that it’s exasperating when she refuses to consider the possibility that she might be wrong."

      Diana: this isn't directed specifically at you, it just happened that this statement reminded me of something I had been thinking about.

      Why is it that Mel is being treated like a flaming bag of dog poo for "refusing to admit she might be wrong," when all of those who have been treating her with such spite and malice ARE DOING THE EXACT SAME THING?

      I'm trying to see why this isn't hypocrisy to the highest degree.

      Somehow in order to be treated with even a modicum of respect, everyone is demanding that Mel "admit she may be wrong," and "be willing to change her mind". And yet, when she asks others to admit that THEY are wrong, they verbally assault her, viciously and on a very personal level. And somehow that is just peachy.

      Why does she have to act one way while those who disagree with her get to act in a completely contrary way?

      • Mindy

        Because Mel has admitted to not knowing a single gay person. She has two acquaintances whom she's heard are bisexual, and that is it. She is basing her belief on the words of the Bible only, holding fast to those in spite of overwhelming evidence that not only is *possible* that the translations indicate the Bible itself was not referring to homosexuality, but true, personal evidence, from people who live with it every day, that being gay has nothing to do with choice and therefore cannot, by definition, be sinful. She has provided no evidence to back up her position, and she has acted like a spoiled child in many, many of her responses – when she doesn't have a good argument, it becomes all about her feelings.

        Don't jump in after all this time and act like she's somehow a victim here. That's just simply ridiculous, and if you are doing that, you really haven't read the several conversations that have led to these responses.

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          This is a look over there tactic, my friend.

          • Mindy

            Of course it is, I know. I'm really not even sure why I responded, as I have no illusions of convincing Manimal of anything anymore than I will convince Mel or Jeannine or Tim of anything. I try, only because I hope that maybe someone else might be reading with a more open mind, someone who, even though s/he has always believed in this so-called Biblical sanctity of marriage has a little niggling feeling that maybe it isn't right after all, and just needs help articulating why.

            Or I'm preaching to the choir. But my daughter's gay friend (who I don't normally call her "gay friend," but just her friend) is here with a group this evening, and listening to them all together just makes me smile. And then I read from yet another person that Mel's feelings matter more than the scars his arms, and I start ranting all over again.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Well, it's good though. Because who knows who is reading. And for me, writing it all out and watching you write it all out is so wonderful because it makes me realize that other Christians are just as committed to this as I am.

            What's funny is someone just left me a comment on my blog assuming that I was gay. I guess if one has to care about this, one has to be gay. Now I need to rustle me up a lady friend! :)

          • Mindy

            It's funny, DR, I have to do the same thing – "announce" that no, I'm not gay, because you're right, there is an assumption that if you take a personal interest in this sort of thing, you must be. I want people to know that straight people can and SHOULD care about this. I want straight people to know that you are just as likely to give birth to a gay child as anyone else. And if you are really going to love your child unconditionally, as I believe is the intent of 99% of parents in the world, you have to accept whoever they turn out to be. You can nurture who they are, but you can't change who they are.

            Tim and Mel have mentioned their intent "not to hurt" more than once, and I just want them to know that in the end, if their actions do not TRULY and HONESTLY and LOVINGLY mirror their intent, then that intent simply doesn't matter.

            If I hit my child, it doesn't matter that my intent wasn't to hurt her, I just got frustrated and lost my temper. That might matter in the future – if I really mean it, I'll seek help to make sure it never happens again. But it wouldn't erase the bruise or whatever damaged I'd caused. The intent may matter for later, but Right Now, our actions are all that count.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            For me, what I don't understand more than anything was why the gay teen suicide issue was so dismissed while I was involved with youth work via YL and a few other places. We'd read this data that was just shocking, yet it seemed like no one wanted to focus on it or wanted to just talk it away.

            But this is all very complex, we can take a very long windy road when arriving at what we believe. The level in which we are invested and depend on it at our core – that's a grip that is awfully powerful. I'm anxious for everyone to get there, but it took me several months to get there myself.

          • Mindy

            DR, I get that. I took awhile to arrive at the table, so to speak, as well, because (a) it simply wasn't on my radar for a large part of my life, and (b) I just didn't "get" it.

            Being a straight person raised in a pretty ordinary, non-diverse world, I could not understand how someone could be attracted to a person of the same sex. I didn't understand the fluidity of human sexuality and I totally bought into the "it's against nature" myth.

            But life circumstances turned me into someone who can't procreate. I knew it before I married my ex. If marriage is all about makin' babies, we shouldn't have been eligible. And then I met gay people. Not like the stereotypes on TV or in movies, but real people, in real relationships, and it became very clear very quickly that I didn't have a clue what it was all about. So I educated myself. I learned about it from a variety of sources, including the people who became my friends. I didn't quiz them, I just got to know them. I watched one couple comfort each other through the heartache of a failed adoption, another cheer each other on through the nativity of new business venture – they took a brave step, together, and quit their boring banking jobs to invest in a floral and gift shop which became incredibly successful. They moved to a different part of the city, found a community that appreciated their talents and didn't give a hoot that they were gay. They just are who they are.

            I have watched children grow up, children who I knew were gay when they were in second grade. And I watched how accepted they were by other children, and how the kids, once they learned what gay and lesbian meant, just assumed that sure, that's who these kids are, and so what? They are their friends and schoolmates and it simply doesn't matter. Because I was fortunate enough to be able to send my kids to schools in which appreciating each person for exactly who they are was a very important component of the educational experience. And I've watched these kids blossom, only to be pounded down in new environments. Fortunately, the ones I know have families who have their backs. And old friends who love them, and a foundation built on self-acceptance and self-love. But I realize that so many aren't that fortunate.

            Anyway, got off on a ramble there – but yes, it is a personal evolution to move from point A to point B. If anything I have said has helped anyone take a step on that journey, then I'm glad for everything I've written.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Being a straight person raised in a pretty ordinary, non-diverse world, I could not understand how someone could be attracted to a person of the same sex. I didn’t understand the fluidity of human sexuality and I totally bought into the “it’s against nature” myth.>>>

            Mindy, me too. Exactly! Plus, all of the fear I had about being a "good girl" and not getting pregnant (though in some ways I'm kind of glad for that fear, it caused me to make some good decisions for myself when younger that I think would have really hurt me as an adult).

            If it's any consolation, there are some really great guys out there who believe what we do. Which of course makes them even hotter. ;)

          • Susan

            I'm a Christian and care about this issue very much. You both, Tildeb, others have written compelling words about teen suicide in the gay community. Yet, I read other comments, and get so discouraged. Sometimes it feels like fighting off a tornado by pursing my lips and blowing at it as if barrels at me going 120 mph.

            What can be done that will make a difference?

          • http://www.virushead.net/ Heidi

            Perhaps taking to heart some Christian values might help. You know, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, humility, caring for the least among us (including the scorned), leaving judgment to God, stuff like that. It's said that without those fruits of the spirit, you're not attuned to things. I tend to agree, at least that's my experience for myself.

      • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

        Unlike everyone else, she is being very disrespectful to refuse to account for the plentiful evidence provided that stand opposed to her belief after she asks for it and then continue to choose only to consider her own acceptable facts and embrace the importance of her hurt feelings, Manimal X.

    • Melissa

      Ah, I so much agree, Diana! I am very stubborn as well, though MUCH less so now than I was at Mel’s age. And I actually do think that Mel will come around! At the very least, she now has something to consider other than what she thought she knew for sure. Sometimes, it takes a lot of blows to the head before a notion will set in. I’m glad she’s here – at least there’s the POSSIBILITY that some of this will reach her. I don’t think she is here just for kicks at all…

  • Susan

    Mel,

    You came here initially, if I remember correctly, to offer your thoughts on the importance of waiting to have sex until marriage, because of the sanctity of the bond. You shared your friend’s experience of abstinence – how it made for a rich, beautiful, intimate expression of love. You made it clear that you look forward to those special affections that are part of a lifelong binding of two souls.

    You don’t want Kara to have this.

    Gay teens kill themselves because of all the obvious and subtle ways in which they are told what you have told Kara by your actions…you don’t deserve this kind of love, Kara. I will do all I can to fight you ever having this kind of love, Kara.

    How would you feel? Try to imagine if the “rules” you believe about homosexuality applied to heterosexuality and you lived in a world where homosexuals were the majority. Those feelings that you described about the beauty of marriage are the same, but you are now in the minority and people view you as sinful and believe you have chosen to be attracted to males. They believe that God hates what is your very natural desire of human affection, the desire that you were born with. Imagine that people won’t allow you to pursue that love.

    Imagine.

    Would you be so intent on following the churches who don’t accept you as a child of God? Would you push aside your desires and not ever kiss, or have sex with a man? Would you be okay with platonic love for your whole life?

    Imagine.

    Imagine Kara.

    Imagine the gay teens who kill themselves.

    Imagine seeing someone standing in front of a table. On the table there is a gun, a rope, sleeping pills. You don’t know if the person facing the table is interested in the table, the table cloth or the contents displayed on it. You did not lead them to the table. You did not place the items on the table. But as their hand reaches out, you turn away, yell over your shoulder, “life is worth living.”

    And walk away.

    • Mindy

      Susan. Beautiful. You are a model of empathy and love. I have learned much from reading your words, and am grateful, every time.

      • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

        yes. Dang you guys are good. (Susan, Mindy particularly here… but the rest too.)

      • Susan

        Oh, Mindy, you and DR, are kind to convey this sentiment. Truth is, I've found that my good intentions sometimes go awry, at some point, and I take on the very behavior I criticize…ego, self-righteousness get in the way. I'm not going to engage in false humility. I know I'm only human.

        If you've learned things from me, I'm completely flattered. John's blog has provided me with much insight. Not just his words, but yours…others…the evolutionary process of these threads, even.

        For me, this virtual venue has answered some questions, questioned some answers, provided more clairty, made me question my certainties. It is a place I've needed for a long time.

        I will continue to screw up, and I will continue to grow. And it's all good.

        Thanks for your comment.

        • http://none Don Rappe

          Yes, I value the discussions as much as the blog which incites them. I'm a little old and this is getting to be a part of my life. Thanks John.

    • Cat

      speechless……..

      In a good way. Learning, considering, praying about all of this.

    • Chellee

      Susan…..

      It is always refreshing to my heart when someone comes along and helps the eyes of my understanding open up to see what another, that is so different from me, is experiencing. It’s wonderful and heart-rending. I think we are all so alike, in that our particular circumstances and upbringing….the “social mirror” we have experienced…..has given us the fodder for what we believe and who we have become. I am grateful for certain insights into these worthy individuals who’ve found life such a horror that they are moved to take their own. I cannot imagine such deep hopelessness! My heart is expanded just being exposed to these insights. THANK YOU!

      I grew up in a deeply conservative background. Also deeply judgemental. I have come to the conclusion that the deeply judgemental folks are always this way because, first and foremost, they are judging themselves harshly. We can only give what we have!

      I have been mulling this “right-wrong” thing about homosexuality, and have radically changed my views on it. I have a granddaughter who is 4. Her name is Bella Rose. She is the light of my life. My view on love and particularly on a Loving God has been in an upheaval, as I watch this precious little girl live…..truly LIVE in front of my eyes. She is beautiful, she is wonderful, she is PERFECT! I CANNOT imagine judging her and consigning her to a life of torment and rigid rules that degrade her ability to follow her heart. Of course….I want the very best for her….and could not sit by and watch her harm herself unnecessarily. But…..I was raised in a harsh disciplinary atmosphere. I always knew my parents loved me, but they were made to impose such strict control of us that it, in essence, shut down our individuality and our ability to even KNOW our own hearts and therefore be TRUE and follow our own sense of what would fulfill us and honor our “right” to choose for ourselves. So it has taken me til now, (I am 46…..but….don’t tell anybody! haha) to even be able to GUESS what I FEEL…..what I WANT…..WHO I am?!?!

      And I watch this little treasure….open up and BLOOM before my very eyes…..and all the strict control that I used to want to impose melts away….as I enjoy her delightful ALIVENESS……expression of ALL emotions……enjoyment of how BELLA SEES LIFE!!! I want her to be fulfilled….I want her to BE TRUE to HERSELF!!! I do not want a little “Mini-Me!” And as I watch her expressing herself in ways that I was not allowed growing up……my heart delights in her. I enjoy her. Of course….there are times I must prevail upon her for her own good, but I do not FORCE myself on her. That’s just NOT Love! We were ALL GIVEN CHOICE. By…who I see as….a LOVING, KIND, COMPASSIONATE GOD.

      If I see homosexuals through the same lens as I see Bella Rose….I simply CANNOT judge their hearts and inclinations as evil…..and therefore banish them to exile and hell. I just don’t think God sees them that way. I know of a gal who was a guy…..and as I’ve been thinking about her…I simply don’t think that the fact that she could not feel comfortable in her own skin as a guy and needed to alter things to BE TRUE TO HER OWN HEART and perceptions…..I just can’t see that being the biggest deal to God. It seems like a Loving Kind Compassionate God would have the perspective that those are not the things that define us…..these are not the things that TRULY DICTATE W.H.O. W.E. A.R.E.

      Right/Wrong…….Good/Bad…….all of that, I believe, rests on intent. Is it my intent to heal and truly help…..to compassionately interact with others, or impose my beliefs upon others at whatever cost??? I have been dogmatic. I have argued and, in my arguments, judged. But it was because I was judging my own self more harshly than anyone else. Now I have come to love and accept myself more kindly, I can offer that to others. I’m sad I have hurt others. I have lost friendships. No wonder.

      But now my intent is to look beneath it all…..to know God as he truly is…..to know others as they truly are….and to know myself…..and LOVE ALL! With a kind love.

      I think God looks down with a genuinely soft heart towards US ALL. And since he does not impose himself upon us (or herself….who knows?!?!?!?)…..but gave us all choice…..there is ALWAYS choice…..(WHAT A GIFT!!)……then what comes with granting choice is to RESPECT our right to choose….ALL OF US. And I don’t see homosexuality as any different than judging to be perfectly honest. Each are choices. But if my little Bella Rose found herself in a position where she was so greatly conflicted within herself, that she was suicidal, or even deeply unhappy…..I could NOT watch her be in that spot without having compassion upon her and wanting her heart to have the option of at least TRYING to find what will bring her peace. WHO OF US IS PERFECT???? WHICH OF US HAS ALWAYS CHOSEN PERFECTLY IN OUR PROCESS TO FIND A GOOD LIFE FOR OURSELVES???? We haven’t. Simply and truly…we have not!

      So it would be my desire that we could HONOR each other. Honor our right to choose for ourselves….and act honorably in our expression of our differences. I can see honor even beneath some of the heatedness of certain posts….but I can also see dishonor beneath some of the “calmer” but very arrogant posts. We truly show who we are. We NONE OF US are PERFECT! We none of us have totally found our way. But it CAN be fun and as someone expressed, a beautiful community experience for us to share ourselves with each other and thereby learn. I have learned a lot “listening” to you all.

      And JOHN…..Mr. Shore……..thank you for providing a forum for all of us imperfect people to express, listen, and grow together. I LIKE you! I respect you. You are BOMB DIGGITY!! (which means that you TOTALLY ROCK!) ;)

      • denver

        Wow, Chellee, that was beautiful. People like you give me hope for the world. :)

        • Chellee

          Thank you! That pleases my heart greatly! :D

          • Susan

            Chellee,

            Here I sit, in a hotel room, bawling.

            Just minutes ago I posted a note about how discouraging many of the comments are on this thread.

            …and then I found your words about Bella Rose, about your changed heart.

            Tears of happiness and hope.

            I am straight and came from a very conservative background. Homosexuality was preached as "sin" and it always bothered me. In years since being a teen, I've encountered the goodness of many gay people, Christian and non-Christian.

            It's been a strange journey, but I've learned much about love from gays, drug addicts, ex-cons, prostitutes…the very people who are so often considered "throw-aways."

            Thank you for taking the time to comment, sharing your story and serving as such an amazing example.

            Bless you, and sweet Bella Rose.

          • Chellee

            All I can say, beautiful Susan, is that I am so INCREDIBLY THANKFUL to be getting further and further away from all the YUCK associated with all of those strictly held beliefs about gays and lesbians and any other “different” group of people. It feels better and better…..the further I flee!

            My sister started being friends with a LOVELY lady who is a lesbian, years and years ago, when they were singing in a band. We learned to love and respect her deeply. THEN…..she became a lesbian. What I see NOW is that beliefs held with white knuckles, from a dogmatic viewpoint….one that cannot yield to any reason but argues the point, louder and louder,…….always comes from a MASSIVE insecurity complex. I know….cause I was the Queen of Insecure. I had my own club. I HAD to hold onto my belief that being gay was AGAINST God because…..(and here is the crux of the matter) I WAS TOO TOO AFRAID TO GET NEAR THEM OR NEAR THAT ISSUE and consider it reasonably, for fear of…….(AAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHH) bom…bom…bom……CONTAMINATION!!!! I’m kind of joking, but the truth is, we were brought up SO AGAINST them….don’t talk to them don’t chat and frat with them……”ASSOCIATE NOT WITH THE FIREY WILES OF THE DEVIL HIMSELF”! (Oh brother!!!)

            I don’t remember exactly what words were used or even how this whole thing started or ended, but I was instilled with a healthy FEAR of getting even NEAR “them”! I’m sad to say that while I loved our friend…..the fact that she had turned gay made me afraid and so I loved her from afar. I withdrew. I was always irresistibly drawn to her…..she is, after all, one of the LOVELIEST people I’ve ever met. She is kind and SO INCREDIBLY CARING! She is so generous and respectful and even more…..RESPECTABLE! She is truly wonderful. She has a heart of pure gold. And I will chance the fires of hell and boldly say, “I BELIEVE GOD AGREES WITH ME ON THAT!” haha (don’t stand near me…..lightening might just strike me dead! ha)

            (Mmmmmmmm…..coffee…..had to take a swig!)

            Then, when I started feeling so incredibly in love with Bella Rose….and realizing what LOVE could possibly REALLY be…….through my heart toward her…..I started thinking about our dear friend. I started allowing myself to go into the “scary zone” and actually see her from a purely human standpoint…..in fact I started looking at all the gay and lesbian jewels I have ever had the blessing of coming into contact with…and I started seeing something resounding in many of them. A common thread. I’ll TRY to describe it to you in a moment….but first my disclaimer.

            I cannot read minds and hearts. I cannot understand my own self, for crying out loud, and so am not attempting to discern what is in any of their hearts. This is purely a GUESS! I am GUESSING at what I am seeing. If I have gotten it wrong, please correct me my friends. And thank you for your kind patience toward me.

            Ok…..this is what I thought I kept seeing. I felt there was, in them, a greater sensitivity to what I will refer to as The Great Crying Need that is in all of us, for fulfillment, for understanding, for “that something MORE”….that makes life meaningful and calls forth everything within us, our highest selves, our greatest love, our most WHOLE beings and brings us into “that BETTER PLACE” of Peace and “Rightness of Being” (as opposed to Wrongfulness of Being which we assign them to when we’re judging them)…..and I saw deeper hurt in them because of their deeper sensitivity to the truth of that need. That place. That DESTINY! THEY were the ones that NOTICED the lack of having that need met. WE CHRISTIANS DIDN’T, THEY DID. They WANT MORE. They were not willing to settle in and just accept status quo…..follow the herd…….join the borg. THEY desperately LONGED for more. GOOD FOR THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!! So….anyhoo…..I don’t know where this observation leads……I simply had made it, and noticed it and “heard” the cry. And I love them for it. I love what I see in them.

            Personally, my observation is that many times they are far more caring, grace based, conscientious, folks who are truly good citizens.

            So……to make a long story longer. I decided to see what it might “feel” like (right or wrong) to FULLY EMBRACE my friend. I realized that I no longer felt the “conviction” that I needed to “correct” her or “fix” her……I no longer saw her as broken…..I saw her as similar to me……partially “with it” and partially still seeking. So I opened both arms wide and fully enclosed her into my heart. I have never regretted that. I have now had the honor of becoming friends with her significant other. And I adore her as much!!! They are WORTHY! They are SO WORTH KNOWING! I love the “christian” things I see coming out of their hearts. They are more “christian” than 90% of all the “christians” I’ve known in my life. hee hee (makes it all the funnier, don’tcha think???) (if “funnier” is the word I’m looking for here, and I’m not sure it is! lol) And as for ME??…..I am thoroughly enjoying just relaxing and NOT HAVING TO BE THE SAVIOR of the world! AMEN!!!! ;)

            The end. By Chellee

            P.S. Sorry for the extensive verbiage. I can’t seem to make it stop! ;)

          • Mindy

            I love it Chellee – your story is wonderful. I'm so glad for you that you now have this wonderful couple to count among your friends! My guess is, though, that she did not "turn" gay – she is who she has always been, she just finally became able to acknowledge it.

            Good for you for opening your heart and mind as you have – you sound like a peach of grandma to Miss Bella Rose!

          • Chellee

            Mindy….

            Of course, you are right….and I'm so glad you corrected yet one more "way" of expressing myself that it erroneous. "Turning" gay. Wow. Sad to say I still have so VERY MUCH to learn, and yet, I am excited to believe that the rest of my life will be about LEARNING! Yay for me! Yay for change and growth and just BEING ALIVE!

            I've come to think that at any given time, we are all incorrect on many levels and in many areas……no matter how certain we feel about it….and it is just BEAUTIFUL to expand the horizons and TAKE IN more and more and more stuff that increases our wisdom, and matures our thinking! Thanks for sharing that tidbit with me. I GREATLY desire to continue refining my manner and my thought processes and my ability to interact with everyone I come into contact with….and NEVER EVER AGAIN serve up a plate of hardhearted opinions that wound and pierce anothers' very sense of well-being. It's just not right! It's WAY more fun to embrace humility and as someone earlier said (and I wish with all my heart I could give her credit for it, but can't remember who wrote it)……"We listen but do we hear?!?!?" I want to TRULY HEAR the hearts of those around me and give my best and truest effort to honor them and support whatever allows them to be their healthiest and happiest.

            I adore my little Bella Rose. But….. Guess what?!?!? I have a little Emma Joy, as well. She is 20 months. And guess what again?!?!?!? I also have a little John Devin who is 2 weeks old. I am ONE BLESSED GIRL!!!!

            They are my little "Honey-girl" and my little "Yummy-girl" and my little "Mouse"! I love them with ALL OF MY HEART! They bring me SUCH JOY!!! My world is better just because they are in it! I am happy just knowing they are alive.

            My little Bella Rose teaches me about God. And how VERY VERY GOOD He is! My little Emma Joy teaches me to treat all with equality and shelter and foster others' hearts. She is so snuggly and needs to be NOTICED and she needs to matter. We all need that!!!! Don't we??? And my little Mouse…..Little Johnny, teaches me to be quiet and heal myself. His soft little head in the crook of my neck, and his little noises that show he's alive (hence the "mouse" nickname) reminds me that we all make noises to try to show others, HEY….I am alive!!! And those noises need to be listened to. And heard! We need to be noticed and loved JUST THE WAY WE ARE. We shouldn't have to change ourselves to "measure up" for each other….and I KNOW WITH ALL MY HEART that we DO NOT HAVE TO CHANGE OURSELVES TO MEASURE UP TO GOD!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!!

            So, Mel…..no matter what you have said and done, nor how you have responded……I want you to know that I notice that you are intelligent and a "thinking girl". You have tried to come to strong convictions…and you are trying to make your mark in this world. Your mark is noticed. I believe you have a really good heart and you are trying to do good. For your own peace of mind, it would be fantastic if you could embrace the "voices of wisdom" that come through your life, and take what you are able to, and set the rest aside, in a quiet place in your heart….to be mulled over and gleaned from. Your goal seems to be to know what is "right" and stand up for your beliefs. Good for you. However, if you are able…..you could only benefit YOURSELF from not being afraid to try not to be defensive….and just CONSIDER what others say…..and take your time in responding. You are a good girl. You matter! You are worth listening to, Mel. Just take your time and understand that EACH AND EVERY PERSON who has spoken to you is in the VERY SAME BOAT AS YOU ARE……WE ALL ALL ALL HAVE A LOT TO LEARN!!! No one has ALL the right answers. NO ONE!!! Ok?? So sweetie…..we are all in this together. Let's all be friends! Friends don't have to totally agree on every point….but they can honor other points of view….and glean as MUCH wisdom from every "voice" as possible.

            Thank you to my new friends. John. Susan. Mindy. Thank you for being Voices of Wisdom in my life! You make my life better! :D

  • http://Realbillsf.com Bill

    Great use of this original metaphor. Love it

  • peet

    So very late to this party. BUT….I would only say that

    "We can quickly go from blank slate to God exists by looking outside…"

    Yes, and when I look outside, I see suicides, a 10-year war in Afghanistan, assassinations, state-sanctioned torture, the usual parade of human misery. And rather than worship a God who is telling us to love and forgive each other, we worship a God who tells us we need to throw more gas on the fire.

    The God most people worship is like a drunk with a gun. A rapid-cycling manic depressive. One minute he's sending floods and disease, telling us to hate the gays, and the abortionists, and the liberals, and the Muslims. The next, He's all "Group hug everybody!" We go to church out of fear, not knowing whether he's going to give us a bear hug and start telling us that we've always been his BEST FRIEND EVER, or if he's going to turn the gun on us because he's a jealous God and saw us sneaking a look at Buddha.

    So, make up your mind. Love everyone, unconditionally, freely, without judgement, accord them the same rights and privileges that you enjoy, and deeply pray that they are MORE blessed than you. Or continue to worship the anthropomorphic, American-style, politically conservative, prosperity-oriented, schizophrenic combination of Santa Claus and Don Corleone that we've been conditioned to believe in.

    • http://blueberrypancakesfordinner.wordpress.com blueberrypancakesfor

      like

    • Mindy

      Peet, that is a beautiful, if tragic, analogy – and FWIW, I agree with you 100%. Thanks for your eloquence – great food for thought.

  • Mel

    I stopped responding to this post due to the fact that it turned into a "Mel-bashing" as somebody put it. I thought nobody agreed with me, and everybody just made up their minds that I am a horrible person. That obviously isn't something somebody wants to keep reading. Not because it makes me uncomfortable to hear the "truth", but because I know it's not true and it was just pointless to comment anymore. But, I would like to thank Tim, Jeanine, and ManimalX for sticking up for me. You have no idea how much that means to me right now. I realize that you might not always agree with me as far as my opinion goes, but thank-you for seeing that I'm not a bad person. Thank-you especially for sticking up for me with regards to people saying that I am responsible for gay teens committing suicide. That was a very low blow, and made completely out of anger. It means a lot that you guys know that's not true, so thanks.

    • ManimalX

      Mel:

      I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. It isn't like YOU are the one mocking Scriptural authority and willfully ignoring 2,000 years of historical, biblical Christianity (not to mention thousands of years of Judaism). People like you and I aren't afraid to call sin "sin", which makes some folks uncomfortable and drives others absolutely bonkers. This is the new face of "progressive" Christianity, and like it or not, all we can do is make our case, take the abuse from our so-called brothers and sisters for doing so, and move on. We don't need to win the arguments, we just need to present the truth in love, which is what you have tried to do.

      So, unless you are actively finding gay teens and coercing them into killing themselves (which I'm willing to bet 2 of my 3 homes you aren't [I'd go all 3, but I really wouldn't want to risk putting my folks out of a home, just in case you ARE really making gay teens kill themselves]), just know that it is an absurd accusation, the kind that SHOULD be saved for people who are ACTUALLY harassing and intimidating other people to the point that the harassed people are attempting self-harm. Those abusive people are out there. You aren't one of them, neither am I, neither is Jeanine, and neither are any of the other good folks who share our belief.

      Like an old pastor of mine used to say (God rest his soul), "Eat the fish and spit out the bones." Believe it or not, there IS a bit of good meat on this bony old fish of a thread:

      1) People have pointed out that suicide rates among gay teens is disproportionally high compared to other people groups studied. Let that break your heart and motivate you to love on someone. Even though most here will deny this, you actually CAN believe homosexuality is a sin and still foster a loving, compassionate relationship with gay people. In fact, I've got quite a few of them in my own life.

      2) In a round about way, people in this thread have made the point that one should always be examining and re-examine their beliefs. Wisdom dictates considering all sides of an issue. That doesn't mean that you should always be second-guessing yourself, or that you should be afraid to say, "no, that is right, and that is wrong," but it does mean that you should always keep your mind and heart open, and always be praying for the Lord to help you examine that mind and heart.

      3) Another bit of meat you can glean from this fish is pretty simple: hypocrisy is ugly.

      Peace, kiddo, and hang in there.

      • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

        Thank you for this clear example, ManimalX, of what it looks like when one alters one's thinking to care more about maintaining a religious belief than being honestly concerned about finding out what's probably true. This is how bigotry can be wrapped in the protective arms of religious belief and the holder can swear it honours god.

        There is no reason to maintain the belief that homosexuality is in any way wrong, immoral, or harmful. There is only a scriptural basis that it is a 'sin'. To even question why the latter should not be the basis for active civil discrimination is not considered by many folk like M to be anything other than 'mocking' god's word. And that means that other believers – in the minds of such people – must be hypocritical to think otherwise. In other words, the facts don't matter. Scripture says it's a sin, so it must be wrong, immoral, and harmful even when there is zero evidence to support the assertion. The truth is assumed from scripture rather than reality, and the facts from reality aren't worth a tinker's damn.

        And that's exactly the kind of closed-minded thinking that assumes the truth of belief first is a virtue and that evidence against that truth does not matter. This is the kind of thinking that can so easily lead otherwise good people to be capable of doing terrible things in the name of their beliefs.

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          I stopped reading after the "the two out of my three homes" line.

          • Susan

            Gross, huh.

            *barf*

          • Susan

            Great…now my lamborghini smells like barf.

          • Mindy

            Bwwwahahahahaaa! DR, I thought the very same thing!!! How unbelievably sanctimoniously obnoxious was that?!?!?!

            If only I hadn't spewed coffee all over the dozen tickets for my private round-the-world cruise . . .

          • Susan

            Mindy – sending you a smile and hug for what happened up the thread a few minutes ago. Hope is alive!

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Susan, let me send over my personal valet to help with that. What is the number of your personal valet? Please send it to my personal assistant who will then relay that message to my personal valet.

            (OK I need to stop, Diana's very wise encouragement of not piling on is ringing in my ears).

          • Susan

            I know, I know. It's annoying, but also sad. There are plenty here with wealth and advanced degrees, but do not feel compelled to share it. Those who provide such information, especially when it adds no particular value to the point they are trying to make, do so out of an insecurity. At least, that's what I believe. Feeling insecure…I hate it.

          • Don Whitt

            Ewwww…I feel like someone just Grey Pouponed me.

      • http://www.virushead.net/ Heidi

        Biblical scholarship tends to support the view that the vocabulary used to describe homosexuality as a sin is all tied up with religious and non-religious prostitutions practices. In addition, some of the strongest loves biblically are same-sex. Views of marriage aren't consistent (there are conquest brides, women traded for land, concumbines, multiple wives, slaves, etc.) either. So I guess just starting from the beginning, suppose you discovered that this judgment wasn't even supported by the biblical texts? And what do you do with judgments that *are* supported – such as the tradition of giving your brother's widow a child to ensure the kinship line?

        Still, you don't have to get into the scholarship with all its dissonances to get to the bedrock, which is kindness. How is it kind or humble to take on God's role of judgment? Maybe it's true, as an old crazy philosopher once said, that the last Christian died on the cross. It makes me sad to think that the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices was most likely wasted after all.

  • Recovering Goth

    In a somewhat tangent topic, John has articulated a general tendency in "Silly Putty People" that I think I've seen in other aspects of human behavior. On the topic of homosexuality, for instance, I do believe there are genuine gay people and "Silly Putty Gay People." Whether or not one's sexual orientation is accepted by God may well depend on the former or the latter. To elaborate:

    I'm a fan of all sorts of alternative, electronic, and independent music. Over the past (dare I say it, holy crap I'm old) 20 years or so, I've spent a lot of time in alternative bars and clubs. Starting in the early 90's, I noticed a lot of people (usually women) on the "scene" were coming out as bisexual or as gay. Some of them genuinely are gay; they're real people with real feelings and real needs. Those folks I love as my own brothers and sisters. No problem. But others…and I feel horribly judgmental for even questioning this…seemed to be taking on the "gay" label for attention, drama, and quite frankly, more action. Girls know guys dig girl-on-girl action, and so they figure they'll get more attention if they're openly into it too. On the other hand, some acquaintances seemed to crave and thrive on the drama created by announcing to the world, "I'm Gay! I'm a Freak! My parents hate me now! Don't YOU dare judge me!" It wasn't about genuine love, or spiritual connection for these people. It was about attention on some superficial level. At least that's what I thought I saw.

    As I read further comments on this particular blog post, "Silly Putty Christians" come to mind as well. I've seen plenty of well-intentioned believers who are not satisfied until they are glorified for their own positions and actions; bringing God the glory is never enough. I know that none of the commandments specifically says "Thou shalt mind thine own business," but to seek constant attention on one's own point of view, no matter how "right" it actually is, is more about self-glorification than spreading the Good News. At least that's how I see it.

    Oh, and to the commenter who noticed deja vu regarding Mel and the 20-something virgin – I wondered the same thing. :-)

    • Mindy

      R. Goth – I have no doubt you are exactly right – that some who proclaim they are gay are really not, but are rather into the drama of it all. Since they are not gay people, really, they don't fall into the group of people I believe are discriminated against. And there is something seriously not right about people who *choose* to pretend to be part of a marginalized group simply for the attention it might bring, but I have no doubt you are correct that they exist.

      Since human sexuality is a continuum of attraction, some of those women you mention are likely truly bisexual – and yes, some are probably doing what they *think* someone else will find "hot." If one is going to judge, that falls under the category of promiscuity, yes? Which, regardless of your belief system, is generally dangerous.

      I like your analogy, though. Silly Putty people, in a variety of categories.

  • Kara

    I don't have words for how over all this I am.

    Mel – Well, we tried. And I think if it had just been us talking through email, it would have been fine. But you wanted to have the conversation in public, and against my better judgment, we did. That was your call to make, but I think the fact that our conversation took place in a fishbowl didn't help things at all.

    I am, perhaps naively, surprised at your apparent selective listening. You've picked out just one part of the criticism you've received, distorted it into something bigger than what was said, and then played martyr, or so it seems to me. No one said that you personally bear the blame for every gay teen who's ever committed suicide. But the reality is, your belief contributes heavily to the culture that drives gay teen suicide.

    I would still be happy to answer any genuine questions you have about being gay and Christian, and how that works. Not here; I've learned that lesson. But if you wanted to, there are other places we could talk.

    ManimalX – I don't have words for the contempt I feel toward you. Arrogant, privileged, self-righteous people like you damage other people's lives in so many ways. You know, the pharisees in Jesus' days thought he "mocked scriptural authority" too. Only it turned out that he was right, and what they were really so upset about losing was their own power over others and their own personal interpretations that they read into the scriptures. Go figure.

    If John posts on some new topic, wholly unrelated to the last week or so of conversation, I'm there. But I'm done with this; it's become extremely hostile and developed into unproductive defensiveness.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      Kara,

      I'm sorry if my zeal for this topic made you uncomfortable at all. You may have been trying to accomplish some things here that got muddled as a result of my rather impassioned replies. If that is the case, you have my sincere apology.

      I'll confess to some protective feelings I have, knowing the vulnerability of so many gay and lesbians facing this kind of thing from the Manimal Xs of the world and to this point, having absolutely no recourse against the privilege and the power he's had in this country, historically. But sometimes over protectiveness is a sign of disrespect. Please let me know at any point when I become an obstacle to the progress instead of a help. Intention means nothing when the impact is negative, that goes for me too.

      • Mindy

        And all I can add to that, Kara, is "me, too." You have earned my eternal respect – what an incredible young woman you are.

      • Kara

        We are more than good. It's not that I'm upset about or disagree with anything you've said, I just think things would have stayed more… on topic, I guess, without the meta-discussions about what our conversation meant. I certainly didn't at all mean to imply that I didn't think those meta-discussions were important, or didn't need to happen.

        Mostly, right now, I am tired.

        I said in a comment on a previous post that gays and lesbians are not obligated to explain their lives to straight people, or to educate them in general. I also said that if I had the mental and emotional reserves to do so, I could choose to.

        At the moment, for reasons that have little-to-nothing to do with this blog or anyone on it (school is damn stressful), I no longer have the emotional reserves to spend my time doing that kind of voluntary explaining.

        Which is not a big deal. I don't feel guilty about it; I don't feel defensive about it either. It's just the facts of the matter right now.

        I hope, like Tildeb said below, that my explanation has done someone, somewhere, some good. Even if it hasn't, that's okay. But in any case, I want to express my thanks to you all again. Your continual encouragement and support have meant a lot to me over the last week or so. I tend toward the lower end of the self-esteem spectrum, so it's been great to have people making me feel like I'm making some kind of sense, not just engaging in self-indulgent babbling about my life and my thoughts.

        I love this blog, and love you all.

        • DR

          Thank you, Kara. I know for me, the tendency to bring what I am focused on is a problem and can derail. It's important to discuss, but there was a point when things transferred from you personally trying to have a conversation to all of the other. Which sucks, and I'm responsible for taking it into such an inflammatory place. Again, I'm very sorry. Next time I will check myself to make sure my :self: isn't such a part of something that is obviously, part of your being. Xoxo. Take care of yourself.

          • Chellee

            Dr…….I'm so refreshed to see your ability to step back a bit and consider others' feelings. Great job!

        • Chellee

          Kara….I'm so sorry. We all can be quite heartless toward each other and wear each other out with all of our opinionating. Hope you get some rest and restoration.

          Hope to hear more from you girlfriend!

    • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

      Establishing equal rights is always a hard struggle, and it's always a hard struggle worth having for several reasons.

      Those who oppose it usually do so for for reasons that are good to them often because they have not been held accountable in the face of better reasons.

      Those who opposite it usually do so from a safe distance; remove the distance and suddenly the issue isn't so easy to oppose when there is a face and name and s/he is talking to you.

      Those who oppose it must be challenged to follow their reasoning to its conclusion and then see for themselves whether or not it justifies what it looks like in action.

      Readers of John's blog have had this opportunity and you have done your duty, so to speak. Although some of the issues are intensely personal and uncomfortable in such a public forum, your articulate and reasoned responses will have had the desired affect on many but you will never know more than that.

      It is not unusual for a hundred lurkers to be present for every commenter. Your words, in other words, reach far more than you can know. How many discussion have happened that otherwise would not have if you had just kept your fingers away from the keyboard? Even if a single voter has decided that your quest for equality under the law is more important than holding fast to some religious interpretation that seems to justify inequality, then your effort has been worth it. Maybe it has changed a dozen minds. Maybe a hundred. Maybe your contribution has been the pebble in the pond.

      You are a treasure to read.

      • Donald Rappe

        I always liked reading you too, tildeb. I miss you now! I hope I never hurt your feelings joking about the bicameral brain. Of course that offers great insight into human psychology.

  • http://malianta.wordpress.com jutta

    Now I have finally caught up on what this post is referring to. It took me quite a while. I have been lurking on this site for some time because often don't have the time to put my thoughts into words. Or at least not in time before the discussion has moved on. ;-) But I really appreciate John's stance on many issues.

    There are many things going through my mind and it might take some while to sort through them. ;-)

    For now there is one thought that I want to contribute to the discussion:

    Could it be that we react the way we do to the statement that homosexuality is sin, because we have a wrong idea of how God deals with sin?

    Telling people that God hates them? Running young people out of the house? Telling them they will go to hell? etc – This is so not consistent with how I experience God dealing with my sin. Plus, it means we differentiate between different kinds of sins. Or who would do the same things to somebody who is struggling with pride? (and don't we all?) Or somebody living a materialism that borders on idolatry?

  • Gary Anderson via Facebook

    Hopefully I was not one of those people in the comments to your last post. Despite my disagreeing with you, I still have the utmost respect for you and love what you do.

  • Don M. Burrows via Facebook

    I got back from dinner too late to respond to Thomas’ latest apologetic nonsense, so I’m writing up a blogged response to it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charles.maynes Charles Maynes via Facebook

    love ir…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Debbie-Ward/1057657641 Debbie Ward via Facebook

    It takes all kinds for the world to go round, one man’s wound causes another to laugh and one mans laugh can cause many wounds. Yeah. It is what it is never what it should be. Just Grace Truth & Peace is the gift given to you and me.

  • Linda Bale via Facebook

    duley noted

  • Carolyn Jaques via Facebook

    Hey… I’m new to your blog. And as a recovering Christian I find what I’ve read so far quite refreshing, kind, and authentic. I’ve been encouraged by you and few other friends and I think Jesus digs it too. (smile)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Val-Sallis-Phipps/1503762767 Val Sallis Phipps via Facebook

    John, I love your blog. Great topics, and I can only hope to create intelligible posts and not embarrass myself in front of the others. There have been some awesome posts!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    (Thanks, you guys, very much.)

  • Connie Heaney

    I love this blog! You hit the nail right on the head. The idea for them is playing games with people and no sincerity in trying to learn or understand something new. It is a manipulation for their own enjoyment. And there enjoyment comes in playing with others minds and hearts. I’ve known this, but you express very well what I think of these people when I come across them. (Of course I have some background in mental health so I have all of these other “ideas” for what they do, lol)

  • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

    Ha! I love this. And ya know another really awesome quality of Silly Putty? It is also super hard to get out of carpet. (Yep, personal experience here.) So even when you boot a Silly Putty person, there may sadly be some lingering effect. Ah, well. Just like learning what gets the goo out of the rug, maybe what we can take away from it is that we find out where our own hearts are after interacting with such people.

    • Melody

      Know what you mean, Amy. I feel mentally exhausted after arguing with these people. There’s a limit to how much insanity (and inanity) I can take.


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