The Gay Teen Suicide Rate and the Christian Condemnation of Gays

It’s a fact that gay teenagers are about thirty percent more likely than straight teenagers to take their own lives.

It’s a fact that the vast majority of Christians believe that being gay is a profound moral failing, a foul aberration, a repelling, unnatural offense against God that fully warrants as punishment an eternity spent in hell.

Asserting that those two facts have no relationship cannot possibly be anything but intellectually dishonest. It’s like someone who sews robes for the Klan asserting that they personally don’t contribute to the harming of African Americans.

I love being Christian; I am forever humbled by what God as Christ did for humankind on the cross; I understand and experience the Bible as divinely inspirational. I pray every morning. Contemplating the majesty and mercy of God is part of my everyday life.

So what? That has zero to do with the fact that gay teens are thirty percent more likely than straight teens to shoot themselves in the head, to let their blood flow out until they’re white, to hang themselves from their neck until they stop twitching. Nor has it anything to do with the fact that the vast majority of Christians passionately hold that living as a gay person is a contemptible disgrace to God, and a blatant, willful offense against everything that’s decent and honorable.

We Christians can say that we’re only trying to follow God. We can say that we personally would never do anything to hurt a gay person. We can say that we love the sinner, but hate their sin. We can say anything.

But let’s not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don’t understand the relationship between the gay teen suicide rate, and the common, absolute Christian condemnation of gays. We deserve better than that.

God knows LGBT folk do.

Please watch this till the end:

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. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Susan

    God bless you, John Shore.

  • David

    But John! According to the Family Research Council, those "gay teen" suicide "statistics" are woefully off.

    Those gay teens aren't killing themselves, they're infiltrating our schools to recruit more of our straight youth to homosexuality! There's even a pamphlet on their tactics!

    PLUS, if there was a connection beteen Christianity and this suicide rate, then that scares us. Why?

    Because it means that some of their blood is on OUR hands.

    • Nick

      Read many Chick Tracts, do ya?

    • blessed

      What do you mean, “those gay teens aren’t killing themselves?” Clearly you are mistaken. They are killing themselves and how can you say that this teenagers are recruiting??? There are more and more teenager coming out (so to speak) because they are truely gay and it has nothing to do with the other teenagers in their school or other environment that is causing this. There are a number of teens who has never had contact with a gay person who becomes gay because they have an attraction to the same sex.

    • LucasC

      Wow David! Your comment “if there was a connection between Christianity and this suicide rate, then that scares us. Why”, it is so mean, evil and filled with darkness. As a openly gay man who was raised in a loving Christian home, fully accepted and loved by my parents and siblings I can tell you what true unconditional love is, coming from the heart of Christ.

      You Sir do not represent Christ’s love, in fact you are far from it. I truly hope you find true unconditional love.

    • Cherylamanda

      sigh… sarcasm, people! he was being facetious… one would thing the blatant hyperbole (as well as over-use of exclamation points) would be a clue?

  • http://ingoodfaith.wordpress.com/ ingoodfaith

    Please please publicise in your area crisis support lines for teenagers who might be having problems fitting in; I think this is especially important in rigid cultures and institutions where even if people think they are helping youth the overriding message is 'fit in or you don't belong'.

  • Paul Clutterbuck

    I understand this issue on some level. My brother is gay and not a Christian. I'm straight and an evangelical, but I suffer from gender dysphoria and ASD. My family and I have completely accepted my brother, but I still feel largely unaccepted by other Christian people. It's not enough to keep me away from church, or stop me trying to make friends, because I'm so absolutely grateful for what Jesus did for me and for the rest of us on the Cross. However, very often I'm left aching for companionship from people at church, and never seem to have the close relationships I need. I've been through major depression over and over since I was 9 years old, and it keeps coming back no matter how much Biblical teaching I receive that should counter it. The worst bit is when a church will preach one thing (evangelical theology, unconditional acceptance) and do the opposite (telling me that my attempts at relationship with people are offensive to them). Sometimes the pain is so bad that it affects my physical health, and I end up in hospital with weird complaints that can only come from somatization of the emotional pain.

    • ManimalX

      Gosh, Paul. I hope and pray (literally, just did) that you find out exactly where you fit into the body of Christ (aka "The Church") and that God brings some loving, compassionate, Christ-like folks into your life.

      If you are anywhere around northern Colorado, I can recommend several genuine, non-hypocritical churches that would love to welcome you.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        And, in addition to local church community, I'm sure you'll always be welcome here anytime on John Shore's blog.

        • ManimalX

          That's true.

          I am just of the opinion that as good as e-friendship can be (and they really can be!), you just can't replace a real face-to-face relationship :)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Agreed. That's why I put "in addition to…"

          • ManimalX

            I didn't mean to communicate disagreement! Forgive me for doing so.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I know you didn't mean any disagreement. I don't think you would have written, "That's true," if you did. :)

          • http://none Don Rappe

            Man. this last word obsession is something, isn’t it? Am I far enough into the nest?

    • Derek

      Paul, there are open and affirming christian churches where you would be welcomed as a fully participating member of the church community in every way. They may be more difficult to find, but they do exist, and you deserve nothing less. I pray that you find a church that is worthy of you.

    • http://none Don Rappe

      I believe in church shopping.

  • http://Shanecrash.wordpress.com Shane crash

    Thank you for posting this John. I've been having a similar conversation with many folks as of late.

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

      As have I Shane. I have always pondered at the accepted bigotry that thrives in the church and I have to reject such thinking for myself. I can see nothing in scripture that says that one particular group of people is damned without hope and others aren't simply because of something that the others have decided are unacceptable. It isn't in scripture. It flies in the face of other Christian teachings and the songs we sing, such as Come Just as You are, or Jesus loves the Little Children. Or that famous scripture John 3:16 AND the following verse, which so many forget about.

      There is a book I read recently compiled of stories and essays of people who are gay here in my neck of the woods. I highly recommend it so that people can understand what it is like to have a family member who is gay or is gay themselves. Their stories are poignant and sometimes heart wrenching.
      http://www.amazon.com/Out-Loud-Best-Rainbow-Radio

  • Jeanine

    "let’s not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don’t understand the relationship between the gay teen suicide rate, and the common, absolute Christian condemnation of gays."

    Well, while we are doing that, then lets not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don't understand the relationship between the 12,000 abortions performed in the U.S. every day and premarital and extramarital sex.

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

      "Well, while we are doing that, then lets not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don’t understand the relationship between the 12,000 abortions performed in the U.S. every day and premarital and extramarital sex"

      While we are doing that, then let us stop pretending that this sort of thing would never occur within the Christian community.

      And your numbers are off. The research I found had these estimates

      There are about 6 million recorded pregnancies a year, a 650,000 are naturally aborted (miscarried) just over 4 million are full term and result in babies. There are about 1.2 million abortions performed annually, which breaks down to about 3278.6 a day.

      And then there are the babies born to teens, people under 18. My research couldn't find the data on girls under 15, as the numbers only mentioned 15 through 18, and considered 15 as the bottom number for child bearing age; but lets assume that they are included in the lump. That figure is 498,000. It is included in the 4 million live births.

    • ManimalX

      Well, sin DOES have consequences, regardless of how unpopular that view is. But, one thing I have come to realize is that there is no reason for me to expect non-Christians to behave as Christians. Shoot, even CHRISTIANS can barely behave as Christians!

      The hope, for me anyways, is that we can influence hearts above all else. I'm definitely a "mind" person, but I appreciate that the way to the mind is usually through the heart. My greatest wish is that we, as representatives of Jesus Christ, are able to demonstrate to people that their Designer really does know what He is doing. When He says, "don't do that," it is because He knows how He made us. In other words, He knows the parameters of our optimum operating specifications.

      Is there anyone who operates withing their optimum operating specifications? Well, so far there has only been one: Jesus Christ. Which means that while we can recognize sin as sin (the corruption that cannot exist eternally alongside God's Holiness), none of us are without it, and so better be exercising grace and mercy towards others who are just as corrupt/unholy/sinful as us.

      That is why I get so frustrated with people who get all bent out of shape when I say "homosexuality is not holy" (aka, it is sin): they only see my typed words, and not the gracious, merciful way in which I try to interact on a daily basis with EVERY OTHER SINNER I KNOW (which means every other person I know).

      I expect this will meet some sort of snarky, sarcastic, rude, and mean resistance (as it usually does here), but I'm not sure if I can explain it any better. I just wish I could spend some real-life time with everyone here, so we could all see exactly how all of the ideas that are typed out here are lived out in real life.

      • ManimalX

        I wrote that the way to the mind seems to be through the heart. I also just realized that the way to the heart is through the stomach. Does that mean that everything comes down to when, what, and how much we eat? That chefs, cooks, and bakers control the morality of the world? Hmmm….

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

          This is a fairly serious thread on a deeply personal, tragic topic that some of us have invested a tremendous amount of time researching and trying to prevent, faced with grave indifference from the bulk of the conservative Christian community who continue to place their focus on how to continue keeping their "sin and consequences" intact in the face of a four year olds who know they are attracted to their same sex.

          Consider at minimum, leaving the jokes for another thread in light of that, it's inappropriate at minimum (particularly coming from someone who is contributing to the problem via his mindset). Thanks.

          • ManimalX

            That wasn't a joke, though it was a bit of an incomplete thought. My apologies for not explaining better.

            I was building off of my last statement from the previous post, "I just wish I could spend some real-life time with everyone here, so we could all see exactly how all of the ideas that are typed out here are lived out in real life."

            That got me thinking about how much good will is built when people do something as simple as "break bread" together. Think about how important "breaking bread" together is even in Jewish and Christian history. Where do we often find Jesus when we read Scripture? Sitting down and eating with people.

            Anyhow, I was trying to point out how a lot of the misunderstanding, bitterness, and anger displayed here in an e-format would probably disappear if we all really knew each other, if we could "break bread" with one another. World peace through great cooking.

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

            OK.

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

        That is why I get so frustrated with people who get all bent out of shape when I say “homosexuality is not holy” (aka, it is sin): they only see my typed words, and not the gracious, merciful way in which I try to interact on a daily basis with EVERY OTHER SINNER I KNOW (which means every other person I know).>>>

        This isn't germane to the discussion because despite your best efforts to do this above with those who are gay, there are kids who are kiling themselves as a result of your commitment to ensuring they know they are sinners. A sin of which they cannot escape. Imagine being attracted to women and then just *changing*. Imagine going through life believing an impulse to kiss someone is "evil". There is no escape for them from the framework that you've set up and are communicating and while I am sure your intent to treat them graciously and mercifully? It doesn't come close to trumping the other.

        That's simply the reality. I'll leave you to decide what you want to do with that.

        • A'isha

          Beautiful response, DR. :) That is truly the difference…there is no "escaping" being gay no matter how much many conservative Christians want to say there is.

        • ManimalX

          "there are kids who are kiling themselves as a result of your commitment to ensuring they know they are sinners. A sin of which they cannot escape."

          No, there aren't kids who are killing themselves as a result of anything I do.

          That is an ignorant statement on every level. You have never met me, and you have never met or spoken with any of the myriad gay people in my life. Here is a hint: none of them have killed themselves or ever thought of doing so on my account. In fact, most of them will probably laugh uproariously when I tell them what you wrote. !gasp! ManimalX has gay friends?!? And they all get along swimmingly?! *swoon*

          I wrote this before, and I will write it again in a bit of a different manner: when you cry wolf, your message gets weaker and weaker. Save you righteous outrage for people who are ACTUALLY abusing gays, because when you waste it hollering at those of us who aren't, it weakens your message.

          • Argy-bargy

            What do you tell your gay friends about your views on homosexuality? Do you talk about it? What have they told you?

          • ManimalX

            @ Argy-bargy

            Do we talk about it? Absolutely. We talk about faith and Christianity from time to time. But it isn't really something that dominates any particular conversation, largely because we've known each other for years. It isn't like every conversation begins with, "Hey, how's being gay going for you?" "Oh, pretty good, how is Christianity treating you?" (Though that actually IS how SOME of our conversations begin…)

            Of course, there is my buddy "Bill" (name changed to protect the innocent) who makes it a point every time we get together to try convincing me that penises are beautiful and that vaginas are repulsive, forcing me to defend the loveliness of vaginas and argue the hideousness of penises. He, his boyfriend, and I have a standing bet that they will convince me to be gay before I convince them to become Christians (one is an agnostic, one is Buddhist).

            Then we talk about really controversial things like… ummm… football, fashion, movies, music, kids, family, and all of the other "stuff of life."

            But… again, that's a just a small snapshot of one particular relationship. Others aren't quite so… yeah, ok, "crude," but it isn't a secret that I am a Christian who thinks homosexuality is "sin."

            One of my other friends (I'll call him "Jimmy") is also an atheist, and he is actually much more adamant about the issue than I am. He actually gets pretty angry at people who say they are Christians but won't call sin "sin." He is a HUGE advocate for people being true to the things they profess, and thinks it is intellectually dishonest when people play "spiritual buffet" with their religion, trying to pick and choose the bits they like rather than fully embracing the whole thing. He says if you are going to be a Christian, be a Christian. If you are going to be a Muslim, be a Muslim. If you are going to be an atheist, be an atheist. If your religion says that homosexual sex is wrong, then either agree with it or find another religion.

            Obviously, this is based off of his personal understanding of said religions. He looks at the Bible and at Christianity, and concludes that according to them, gay is sin. So, when it comes to him and I, he EXPECTS me to call it such, and respects me for being "true" to my profession.

            Then we talk about really controversial things like… ummm… football, fashion, movies, music, kids, family, and all of the other "stuff of life."

          • DR

            Do you believe that “Bill” can become a Christian and remain a homosexual? That his homosxuality is something he doesnt have to seek forgiveness for and freedom from? That is a serious question, if I’ve targeted you unfairly as someone who believes otherwise then you will certainly have my apology.

          • whythulc

            Can you lie and still remain a Christian? Of course.

            And, if you're taking the angle of "Well, then Jesus must not be in his life because otherwise he would be submitting to Him and clean his act up," I would still say the same thing.

            I had a friend once who said "You're not expected to be sin-free before coming to God. God wants you as you are, and together He will begin the work of transformation."

          • Chellee

            I’m glad you can have such an open, honest relationship with your friends of every persuasion……

            and let me simply say this….(simply being a HUGE stretch for me ;) ) ………must it matter what others are doing right or wrong?? Mightn’t we be better not taking such strong stands on these things…..and allowing (respecting your persuasion) the Holy Spirit to correct whatever is wrong and instead letting them know you are a Christian by your Love?? (not an absolute perfect paraphrase here!)

            I recognize that your friends and you may have a very special thing, and you all can handle these hearty convictions spilling over one another, however…(and I’m TOTALLY using you as the “whipping boy” on this one……SORRY!! ) might it be better to leave these rather hurtful observations on tender subjects for ears that we know can handle it and relationships that have weathered these storms successfully????

            Whew! I said it. This was NOT just for you……this was for US ALL! (and you all can correct me when I do this, too, K??)

          • Chellee

            Sorry….one more comment…..and then I'll shut up!! (no promises…..hee hee)

            I just cannot imagine anyone trying to pass laws against my sins and taking a morally superior stance to me regarding my vast and many failures. Which one of us,…..really…..can cast the first stone??? :(

          • Mindy

            More to the point, how would you vote on the issue of gay marriage? And if you'd vote against it, could you look your gay friends in the eyes and tell them that? Tell them that sorry, they just aren't as deserving of those rights and protections under the law? Because . . . . . you think they are sinners?

            Maybe we should start legislating against greed? Unless, of course, that might mean you'd have to give up one of your three houses . . . .

          • ManimalX

            We already have laws that regulate "greed," specifically laws that punish those who act on greed in a particular manner.

            But, to answer you other questions, I don't have any particular problem with homosexual partners having the same legal rights as anyone else (not "special" rights, equal rights). I don't much care for it being called "marriage," but it isn't a hill I would fight and die on.

            And what is the deal with the continual mocking of "my three houses?" I brought it up in the other thread in order to make a point about how sure I was of something. I didn't bring it up to brag. It simply is. I own three homes. I've been working hard since I was 12-yrs-old, I know how to handle my money wisely, and that has paid off. Now my family and I have a place to live, my parents have a place to live out their golden years, and I have a place that generates extra income from time to time (I am letting the guy who lives there now to do so for free since he lost his job).

            I wasn't aware that prosperity as the result of work and wise money management was worthy or ridicule, or that poverty was a requirement for entering God's kingdom.

          • http://none Don Rappe

            Blessed are the poor. I think it's in Luke somewhere. But I also think we should love MX just as we do other sinners.

          • Mindy

            ManimalX, I certainly wasn’t the only one offended by the mentioning of your three houses in the way you did so. It smacked of a superiority complex, of one who prides himself on how much he owns. Good for you that you’ve worked since you were a kid. So have lots of people.

            The way you said it in the other thread, when it was TOTALLY unnecessary in the making of your point, was obnoxious. Glad to know you didn’t mean it that way, but you should know that’s how it sounded. And this would be the first and only time *I* brought it up.

          • ManimalX

            Ok, I gotcha. Thanks for the explanation. All I was doing was trying to think of a personal way to express the generic “I would bet lots of money against XYZ being true.” Didn’t mean for it to come off snobbishly by any means.

            Though, in the name of full disclosure, I do have to admit: I really, really love Grey Poupon. I mean, seriously love it.

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

            I’m a little confused. Before, you seemed to be suggesting that those of us aligning with the above – wanting gay marriage to exist legally and gays being able to be gay and at the same time, Christian was “mocking” scripture. Perhaps I misunderstood, is that still the case? In what sense are we mocking scripture?

          • ManimalX

            I don’t have time to dig for the specific quotes, but what I am referring to are the variations on a theme like, “we know better than Scripture,” and, “all Scripture is open for interpretation, therefore it is unreliable, therefore we shouldn’t use it to make truth statements,” and, “you’re dumb if you use Scripture to shape your morals.”

            That sort of thing. Does that make sense? If it doesn’t, I can try to go back and find specific examples when I have more time.

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

            No, it doesn’t make sense You seemed as though you were specifically targeting those of us who were supportive of the two views I quoted below. Additional information is fine, but now that you’ve clarified that you would be fine with gay marriage? That’s a mixed message to me.

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

            The message is simply the message, receive it as powerful or weak. That's up to you and it's up to you to identify your role, ultimately. I'll continue to identify the behavior and the belief that I absolutely know via data and patterns of anecdotal evidence that contribute to gay kids killing themselves.

            There are macro frameworks of belief and behavior that impact gay suicide. One of those macro-messages being issues like Prop 8 that communicate gay men and women are not fit or holy enough for women. The primary way we can influence this macro-framework is through our vote. If you support the vote against gay marriage, you are contributing to this macro-framework, regardless of whether or not you live in California. You have confirmed that you are against gay marriage, I believe, but you can correct me if I'm wrong.

            Secondly, there are micro-patterns of belief and behavior that impact gay suicide that occur on an individual level. An example of this is is bullying gay kids, kicking them out of your home or sending the message through your youth group or what you post online (that they read) that they are evil intrinsically and condemned by God unless they "do the right thing" or "get saved" according to what that looks like to you.

            Again, if you are participating in either of those behaviors, then you are responsible in part for what is occurring. And it's not personal – it's not because you are someone I've not gotten along well with in the forum or that you are a conservative, there are a lot of Liberal Christians who have also done the above. They are also responsible.

            DR

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

        Well, sin DOES have consequences, regardless of how unpopular that view is. But, one thing I have come to realize is that there is no reason for me to expect non-Christians to behave as Christians.>>>

        Gay people are also Christian.

        My greatest wish is that we, as representatives of Jesus Christ, are able to demonstrate to people that their Designer really does know what He is doing. When He says, “don’t do that,” it is because He knows how He made us.>>>

        Gays and lesbians are not reduced to sexual behavior. Being gay isn't just about "don't do that" because it's not a set of behaviors. It is their *being*.

        • http://none Don Rappe

          In other words the notion that "homosexuality is not holy" is a false teaching and should be rejected. What nonsense to say that my sexuality is "the gift of God" and yours is an "abomination". It implies that God needs to wake up and pay attention. Screwing up his creation because he doesn't know what He's doing!

      • Diana A.

        "My greatest wish is that we, as representatives of Jesus Christ, are able to demonstrate to people that their Designer really does know what He is doing. When He says, “don’t do that,” it is because He knows how He made us. In other words, He knows the parameters of our optimum operating specifications."

        And yet, some people are gay.

        In other words, some people are designed to find members of their own gender more attractive than members of the opposite gender.

        I think about the people I love who are gay. I think about the things some gay people have done to try to rid themselves of their homosexual desires. I think about how easy it is to stand on the outside of those feelings and judge and how hard it must be to actually have those feelings and be told by people who supposedly love you "Oh, you're bad. You shouldn't feel that way."

        Why would God put somebody through that? Unless there's a good reason for gay people to exist in our society. Unless there's a point and purpose that is not immediately apparent to the human eye. In which case, isn't it better for those of us who call ourselves Christian to show respect and kindness to gay people? To consider the possibility that they are made in God's image, just like everyone else? To not condemn them for something that is clearly not a choice?

        Somebody in some one of these threads (and I've been reading so many that I can't remember which one or who said it) said that they had enough to do with keeping track of their own sins without judging the sins of others. That has always been my belief too. If being gay is a sin (and I have reason to believe it is not), that's none of my business. I have enough to do with keeping tract of my own sins without judging and scolding others who sin. When I am sin-free (hardy, har, har!) then maybe I'll have time to focus on the sins of others. Until then, it's none of my business.

    • Jeanine

      Numbers was not really the point I was trying to make. DR was talking about 3 suicidal teens that she knew. Even 3 is too many. The stats I looked at said 12,000 the stats you looked at said otherwise. I think even just 3 is too many.

    • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

      “Well, while we are doing that, then lets not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don’t understand the relationship between the 12,000 abortions performed in the U.S. every day and premarital and extramarital sex”

      And while we are doing that let's remember that over 22,000 children around the world die each day – Each Day – from poverty, which includes issues like starvation, preventable diseases, unclean and inadequate drinking water; and this number doesn't include those who die from war and natural disasters.

      While Christians and other people of faith continue moralizing and wasting time vilifying sexual behavior that they don't like and focus countless hours and energy and financial resources politicizing abortion and homosexuality – already born children and people are dying who do not have to. And while we have no, none, zero control over the choices other Americans and individuals make concerning their sexual behavior and decisions in their personal lives, we have all the power in the world ourselves to do something useful and positive to help save the lives of children and people in need. We in the most well off nation in the world have the ability to help the least and the last and the lost and instead choose to allocate our gifts and resources elsewhere. Jesus had some pretty powerful things to say about those who ignored the needs of the hungry, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned and about how we treat each other. The Almighty cares how we treat each other.

      When we realize that in every example we have of Jesus' life he showed compassion, and mercy, and grace – save for the money changer incident – we might learn something about what it is to BE a Christian rather than what the big C Church would have us think is the right list of things to believe ABOUT Jesus.

      The right question to ask of God isn't why do bad things happen. The right question to ask ourselves is why when God has given us so much, and all the resources in the world we need as a human race to survive on earth, and the gift of each other – why is it that we haven't figured out how to share what we have and get along with one another?

      We can pontificate day and night about numbers and who among us we believe has the largest splinters in their eye, but the ultimate game changer is when we pull the plank out of our own and choose to act like Christ and not just believe in him. As Barbara Brown Taylor has wondered aloud in her book, The Preaching Life:" What good is it if I preach a sermon about the Good Samaritan inside the walls of the church if outside the church walls no one acts any differently toward their neighbor or to strangers because of it?

      My dear friend reminded me this week of the serenity prayer …..about accepting what I can't change…… but having the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

      Wisdom is knowing that the only thing we have any control over in this world is our own actions and how we choose to react to what happens to us. We don't control other people or their behavior or their actions and to get bent out of shape when they don't or won't do what we want them to do is a lesson in futility and disappointment.

      Jesus taught us how to act. Not how to tell other people how to act. This is what led Gandhi to say: " I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

      The theme that runs through all of these issues: teen suicide, unwanted pregnancy, poverty – is people who are hurting. None is more important an issue than the other; at their heart they are all the same issue. Hurting people need people to love them and show them that they matter, not condemn them. And if we who know the greatest love would just do that – if we would live the miracle of the transforming power of forgiveness and unconditional love and not just teach and preach it – the world would be turned upside down for good.

      As our minister says on Sunday mornings: "Go. Be Apostles of Peace."

      • Mindy

        Wow, Christy – what a great post. I can't add anything except to ask everyone to read it. Then, read it again. Read it until you GET IT.

      • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

        I loved every word of this.

      • Derek

        Today I cried, and then got very angry when I read this report of a 13 year old gay kid who was relentlessly bullied and has committed suicide.
        http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/moms/7220896….
        Thank you John for providing an opportunity for Christians who are justifiably outraged by this to be heard. Many comments on other blogs include statements about Christians being responsible for these deaths by opposing anti bullying legislation, and wonder why Christians are not talking about teen gay suicide. I will link to your blog every time I encounter these sentiments. Thank you for making it easy for me to prove to them that Christians do care and are engaged on the subject.

    • Jeanine

      Gay 'Teens' are committing suicide. I get that (although really until I read it on this blog, I did not know it was any kind of epidemic).

      I guess gay teens in California are flocking to churches in droves wanting to enter into a loving, monogomous, lifetime commitment and are being turned away; thus killing themselves. Right?

      Isn't it just possible that these teens, just like heterosexual teens are buying the lie of our sex obsessed culture that a person finds their identity, love and acceptance in the act of having sex? They bought the lie, went down that road and found it completely lacking of anything good and loving. Not unlike a teen girl who finds herself pregnant and alone, or a teen who finds themselves saddled with a lifelong STD and no love.

      Love does not equal sex – does not equal gay – does not equal straight. Connecting the dots between Prop 8, Christians and teen suicide is really not getting it – because all you are talking about is sex.

      Love should come way before sex, straight or gay. Teaching teens the immense call on their lives to love their spouse as Christ loved the church, would be far more beneficial than forcing them to align themselves with sex to define who they are.

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

        The suggestion that being married in the eyes of the law is "just about sex" is interesting, Is your marriage just about sex?

      • Mindy

        Jeanine, your post might have a morsel of truth or relativity if being gay WERE just about the sex. It is not. It is a component of identity.

        As DR alluded to in another comment, a gay person cannot escape being gay.

        In our culture, we date, usually, as a prelude to a possibly more serious relationship, one that might eventually lead to marriage. Teenagers, even as they know that their first romance may well not be the one that results in marriage, still enter into a relationship – even a chaste, non-sexual relationship, with the expectation that if it goes well, it will grow. The affection will deepen into love, etc. Note I said usually. Of course this is not always the path.

        In conservative Christianity, you may believe that marriage is "just about the sex" because you expect sex to not be had – until marriage. That's fine, a choice each couple must make privately – but legal marriage has nothing to do with sex. The law doesn't care if a couple never has sex or has it 5x a day. The law cares about their taxes being filed jointly, both of them being listed on debt and responsible for it, both of them responsible for the children they may raise, each of them being responsible for the other should one become incapacitated, to whom an estate would go to should one of them die, and so forth and so on.

        So when a gay teenager falls in love, it may not be about sex at all, at first. Because like all teens, even as hormones rage, they don't necessarily "go all the way" in the beginning. The crushes, the budding relationships, those are all the same as for straight teens, and rely on attraction and affection rather than sex.

        But as they get older and look toward a future, dating takes on that same component as it does for us – finding that person with whom to share a lifetime. Oooh, but wait. They don't *get* to do that like the rest of us. They don't *get* to look forward to the proposal and the wedding and the commitment of their soul to another, in sickness and in health. They don't get to look forward to everything that we just take for granted as a part of the "typical" process of growing up and finding our soulmates and living happily ever after. Of course it doesn't always happen, but we get to dream about it as teens. We get to have that expectation, that anticipation of a life filled with a love that solidifies our place as adults in society.

        But gay teens get to . . . what? Worry every day of their lives who will accept them or not? Worry that even if they get to marry someday, their families won't attend their weddings? Worry that when their co-workers find out they are gay they will be shunned at work? Feel like outsiders, because we won't let them in.

        Because if you take the sex completely out of the picture – they are still gay.

        • Susan

          Perfectly said, Mindy.

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        “There’s that tricky word ‘should’ again” – she says as she smacks her forehead with the palm of her hand, nearly spilling her morning brew of Pete’s columbian.

        Let me be more direct this time, but lovingly.

        Jeanine, you can only change you.

        John’s saying that if some Christians didn’t treat homosexuals like shit maybe they wouldn’t kill themselves. I’m saying that if we really care about human life we would look beyond issues of rightdoing and wrongdoing and stop measuring and judging people and just live the teachings of Jesus; and much of that teaching focusses on how we treat and interact with others. If we treated people the way we ourselves would like to be treated with dignity and respect and love, the world would be a vastly different place in which to live and issues like poverty, suicide and unwanted pregnancy wouldn’t be the issues we have today.

        • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

          Furthermore, since most of us have never experienced true unconditional love and instead learned in many of our churches that we ourselves are worthless, unholy, dirty, guilty, sinful and completely unworthy of God's love this is what we project onto the people around us. Unto our spouse, our children, our neighbors and the world.

          What a difference it makes when we are taught instead that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, created with a purpose, valuable to God's plan, precious in God's sight and miraculously loved beyond all comprehension…..

          and we project this gospel onto the world and we treat our spouse, our children, our friends and our enemies in like manner – this is radical, transforming, unconditional love…..and this is what changes the world.

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

            Am officially now a Christy fan.

            We must ask ourselves why teens commit suicide? Why does anyone? Maybe it is because they feel utterly hopeless, that death is preferable to the pain they are enduring. Maybe rejection, condemnation and being expected to do the impossible plays a part. Should Christians treat others thus? Never! But sadly Christianity is hardly immune from the horrid practices and mindsets we inflict on others.

            Christy you said something that struck at me. As I was reading about the children who die needlessly every day due to disease and starvation, the phrase credited to Jesus that states. "The poor we will have with us always." Came to mind. I am suspecting strongly that He said that because he well knew that man would prefer to ignore, or refuse to help those in need, or to find justification for not helping, or play the "well someone else can help, I got my own troubles" game.

            Then there is this. Some believe that being gay is a sin. Ok, then if it is, is it worse then telling a lie? or gossip? or being racist? If it is a sin, then why are the lie, gossip and racist sins, getting far less attention to eradicate then being gay? Why do we not have Christian movements to end gossip now, imploring Congress to pass laws against it? Holding End Gossip, Praise Honesty rallies?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Regarding Jesus' comment on poverty, I believe it's because poverty is a relative state. In America, for example, poverty is actually correlated with obesity. That sounds absurd to people from third-world countries!

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

            It is because processed foods are cheaper than the organic, healthy stuff in our country, and easy to store. The processed foods have all kinds of fats and sugars and starches that lead to the putting on of weight.

            I'm pretty sure I'd be fatter than I am if I didn't happen to have a highly-physical farm job. (Its' only part time, though). I muck horse stables – it gets me my exercise.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I'm certain that it's only possible because poor people in America do have access to foodstuffs, the most affordable per calorie of which, yes, are processed, while the poor in some countries—rather than going organic—are going without!

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            Thanks, Sylvie.

            You said, "Ok, then if it is, is it worse then telling a lie? or gossip? or being racist? If it is a sin, then why are the lie, gossip and racist sins, getting far less attention to eradicate then being gay? Why do we not have Christian movements to end gossip now, imploring Congress to pass laws against it? Holding End Gossip, Praise Honesty rallies?"

            Sin is sin regardless of how it is expressed; equally displeasing to God regardless of how humans categorize or rank it. God's top ten list was in no particular order, and even if it was adultery was low on the list. Which isn't really about having sex with your neighbor's partner people – it's about wanting and taking what doesn't belong to you and breaking contracts and messing up inheritance. The OT makes so much more sense with a little Judaic scholarship.

            Growing up fundamentalist I was taught that wide was the path of sin and narrow was the path of sinlessness. That what we were to learn from Christ's example was his perfection. His holiness. His sinlessness. Therefore, to be Christ-like our responsibility as Christians is to strive to be sinless. Right Belief was an apocalyptic escape hatch to the afterlife and our responsibility to our fellow humans was to convert as many as we could so they wouldn't go to hell. Judgement was falsely veiled as "loving others enough to tell them how wrong their behavior was." Jesus was never about weights and measures and you can see he was pretty serious about this issue in his "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees" passage.

            What I have come to understand and see through a new, and at least for me, much more healthy perspective on the Divine, is that wide is the way of ego (or selfishness) and narrow is the way of compassion (treating others as we would like to be treated). To be Christ-like is to live his example both in word and deed of how he taught us to live and treat others. This is a compassionate life and no small task. Spirituality is our connectedness or relationship with the Divine and this is sadly found much more often outside of church walls than within. My dear friend says that ego stands for Edging God Out.

            We don't see rallies about lying and gossip because Christians lie and gossip and the vast majority of them categorize these as "little" sins.

            We see rallies about homosexuality and abortion because people live in fear and judgement of what they don't understand. The big C Church and the big R Religion has focussed on the wrong things…..on the sinlessness of Christ, on judging the behavior of others instead of aligning our own behavior with Christ's example. We see it because so many of our churches have taught us to live in fear of God's judgement rather than in grace and humility and love in God's forgiveness.

            We can't teach what we don't know.

            This is why it is so important that through our compassionate example, and in concert with what Christ reminded his disciples before he left: the world will know we are his followers by how we love one another.

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

            Oh I so agree.

      • http://none Don Rappe

        It may be that some of us are buying the lie that homosexual people are not "fearfully and wonderfully made." This is a blasphemy against their Creator.

      • Derek

        Jeannine, I don't think straight teens are flocking to church in droves either, and whether they are or aren't is not the point. Asher Brown committed suicide at 13 because of constant anti gay bullying for 18 months (which his parents had been complaining about to the school without any action). How many kids at 13 are confused about sex, period? I certainly was in denial about my sexuality until college, and part of the reason it took me so long to accept it was because of the hideous things that some churches and society heaped on gay people at that time. I could never be "like that". Thank God I never married and had children, as so many of my generation did – some of whom have since broken up their families with divorce, others are still living a double life. I thank God that more light is being shed on the sad reality of gay teens and suicide. 13 is SO young, and by telling such young kids who may or may not be gay, that to be gay is to "choose" a life where society will heap scorn upon them and to be indifferent to their agonies, is to be completely without compassion for the struggles they may be facing every hour of every day. It is irresponsible to tell them to get back to church and everything will be alright, if the church they are confronted with treats being gay as negative, undesirable and a "choice" that they can control. As true compassionate Christians it is not enough to "hate the sin and love the sinner". By not speaking out loudly on behalf of kids, gay or straight who are being bullied, taunted with gay epithets, and told by churches that they are heading straight to hell, Christians are complicit in the heinous acts that these kids suffer at their own hands and the hands of others. Thank God for John Shore.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      Stick with the topic. Abortion is another issue. Stick with this topic and this topic alone.

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

    Hmm. What to say here…

    I’ve never been gay (to my knowledge, I’m sort of aesexual, actually), but I have been sucidal. I’m bipolar, which, according to statistics I’ve read, makes me about ten percent more likely than the average person to take my own life. Even though I’m feeling alright now, I don’t rule out the possibility of it happening in the future, because I know how easily life can set me off into one of my bad periods. Do you have any ideas on whether people who do suicide get to heaven? Fear of Hell *has* kept me alive at some points, but I’ve also thought “If I’m burdening the people I love, better Hell than that” when I get bad. I don’t know – it would be nice not to worry about the whole heaven thing in case I go off the rails.

    I’ve come to think that possibly the biggest contributing factor to suicidal ideation are feelings of rejection – or of failure. When you feel like your family’s rejected you, or society’s rejected you, or you just fail at everything and are a burden. If it’s hard for me being something of a “professional failure” so far in life, I can’t imagine what it must be like for a gay person with a very Christian family.

    And I absolutely regret some of the things I used to say when I was “very Baptist” – I said some things on the Internet to people I know I’m not forgiven for and will never be forgiven for. I suppose it’s one of my reasons for being wary of going to church again – getting led into such thinking.

    My advice for anyone suicidal for any reason would be: find people who love you – who genuinely love you – even if it’s just one person. Sometimes, one person who feircely loves you can make all the difference. Finding someone who can make you laugh in any situation is good. My fiance’ and I have some seriously dark senses of humor… crack poverty jokes all the time.

    I’m sorry if my ramble is a little too much. I really know nothing of what it’s like to be gay, but the suicidal stuff I’ve known well, so I thought I’d say something.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      "find people who love you – who genuinely love you – even if it’s just one person. Sometimes, one person who feircely loves you can make all the difference."

      Beautiful, Shadsie! Shakespearian even!

      Speaking of Shakespeare, his character Hamlet contemplated that same question of Hell after suicide keeping him alive up to that point:

      To be or not to be—that is the question.

      ……………………..To die, to sleep

      To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub,

      For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

      When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

      Must give us pause.

      Ultimately, we don’t know here and now if God accepts someone who's willingly cut short their time on His good earth (or, for that matter, any other particular person but ourselves). I know that God is the most merciful, so I have hope that a person who did it in ignorance of the fact that God wanted them to keep living would be forgiven. But if someone does it in willful defiance, comprehending that God doesn't want them to, may the Lord have mercy on their soul.

      • Chellee

        Mr. Tweedell……

        I love your Shakespeare…..and kinda liked where you were going on this.

        However…..I truly see in the Bible and simply in my own practical realizations regarding "sin"….that all sin is the same…..and therefore there are not sins you can die and then be sent to hell for….MORE than others. Let's say one person committed suicide…..and another simply held judgment in his heart……or unforgiveness…..or was haughty…..or had willfully allowed another person to get a wrong impression of an interaction and not corrected it……(whatever you want to insert here)……..and then these two people died. So…..the one who ends their life because of suicide is going to hell……and perhaps the other will not???

        I truly believe that God must have mercy upon our souls AT ALL TIMES. :) And I believe he DOES. I'm not actually arguing with you right now….I'm simply adding my take on this whole thing if you don't mind.

        I think that we are so full of unrealized ways we are unkind, judging, damaging folks….that at any given time, we are all of need of mercy and all have SOME unforgiven "sin" going on. I think that it is Sin, not "sins" that we are talking about needing forgiveness for, in order to get to heaven. I think God speaks SO MANY LANGUAGES and understands and HEARS the heart. There is NO WAY that it has to be done just "my way"….the way I was brought up to believe…..in order for a person to come to their own understanding with God and I think we are ALL going to be VERY surprised at who we see in heaven. And I mean that and HOPE that in a VERY POSITIVE MANNER!

        I was brought up that Homosexuality was an abomination to God. Well…..so is divorce. And hatred. And "unjust weights" (inequality in your measurement of things and people and life). Where do we draw the line between these things??? WE CANNOT!! We cannot judge. It's best to stick to my own little corner and just look at myself, and not waste my time running round trying to correct the sins of the world. Better to just look to my own self. There's plenty to look at there. hee hee AND…..I've found that the people (myself included) who run around with their passionate agendas to "stop" this and that are generally those who find it difficult to control their own life, and are disturbed about that, so they bring relief by running others' lives, or taking a strong stand on a showy issue.

        Hmmm……why do my things always turn into dissertations??? I NEVER mean that to happen. I never claimed to be a woman of few words. lol

        And disregard most of what I said, Matthew. It was most CERTAINLY not directed at you. Or anyone. Simply my own rant. Hmmm……does this qualify for the passionate stands on showy issues???? ;)

        • Matthew Tweedell

          No problem, Chellee :) It a pleasure to read it.

          I just wanted to address this bit that’s related to what I wrote before.

          Even for what we don't realize we've done, we can trust in Christ to have paid our debt on the cross. Of what we do realize of our sinfulness we can turn to Him to purify us. But if we turn away, if we have not trusted Him truly, how can we be made whole? Wouldn't His doing so for us render meaningless the choice to believe in Him?

          I don't believe we'll have any sin unforgiven when we die trusting in the Lord. But if you trust in Him, how can you not follow His advice if He wants you still to live?

          But I agree, other than for ourselves, "We cannot judge."

          • Chellee

            My friend, Matthew…..

            "Gift of God!" (that's what your name means….as you probably already know! :)

            Anyhoo…….I have, I think, already expressed my EXTREMELY CONSERVATIVE and Christian upbringing…..(to the point of religiosity….from the Church we went to not from my family…..but I learned so VERY MUCH that I don't like right now)…….

            I appreciate your accepting and respectful reply. REALLY appreciate it.

            I previously most FERVENTLY believe that a person must "trust in Him" and "turn to Him" in order to have his or her sins forgiven. I still believe that there is an element in there that has GOT to be true…..however I'm vacillating on what exactly that might mean??? I don't know anymore. I used to KNOW!! (I used to be SO SMART!! HA!) Now I wonder?!?!? (I love, by the way, that you kept me on target on this point and led us back to it! hee hee) I guess what I'm trying to say is I used to have what I felt was a well-defined list of what characteristics "trusting in Him" and "turning to Him" would…..MUST…..look like. I'm reconsidering that stance. (Rejecting it and avoiding it like the plague is more like it!) I simply cannot turn a stiff shoulder to genuine and wonderful people who display the Strengths of God (Love, Kindness, Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, ACCEPTANCE, etc etc…) in such a truly beautiful way……and who also pour out manifestations which, in my book, accurately reflect various aspects of what I believe are His Nature….and the way they walk out these attributes epitomizes Grace in it's Best Form! Oh……and they are gay. :)

            I am so reluctant to magnify them as being truly any different than the rest of us. Faulted humans yearning for perfection….and yearning for the Amazing Gift of KINDNESS poured out for every single one of us. That makes me sound religious. Yuck. But I think you know what I mean. I feel it in you, too. I feel that you ARE onto something! Though I'm having trouble defining exactly what it is….and re-defining my own heart on these matters.

            Thanks for listening. Thanks also for being "the one" I somehow stumbled upon to blather on and on to!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Thank YOU, Chellee!

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

      Shadsie: Don’t say you’ll never be forgiven for stuff you’ve said on the Internet–or anywhere else, ever. Of course God will forgive you for saying mean stuff to people; we’ve all said to others terrible things that we deeply regret. But don’t take it so far as to deny the forgiveness Christ gave his all to secure for you. You bring your shame and regret to God; you beg that he forgive you; you ACCEPT that forgiveness as a way of showing you believe in its efficacy; you promise to do your best to never sin in that way again; you stand up; you move on. Christ didn’t die for everyone’s sins BUT yours. You’re included in his grace. Do not fail to avail yourself of it.

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

        Thanks.

        I really meant more like – “I’ll never be forgiven by the people whom I said those things to/who saw what I said,” but I’ve come to realize…. if come to people years later with an “I’m sorry” and they tell me I’m still scum, best to leave those people who can’t let go alone.

        Still, honestly, I do feel like the “no forgiveness” all the time – I always remember all sorts of little things that I suddenly feel ashamed of all over again. I think it’s just symptomatic of my disorder – the way my brain works. I’ve had people tell me that I’m an expert at beating myself up.

        But I’m still hopeful, I guess. I enjoy writing fiction (which no one has wanted to publish or agent so far), and one of the themes I like is “characters who change the world without even knowing it” – which is kind of where I like to think I am — a wholly unimportant person who maybe said something or did something good along the way that had meaning to someone.

        Cheesy.

        • A'isha

          Shadsie, I relate completely with what you've said! There's something that I want to clarify though…you're a wholly *important* person, not the other way around. Seriously.

          I wanted to add a little regarding the whole suicide aspect of this. I am gay, but honestly, I'm not sure if my struggles with suicidal tendencies are related to that or not. I've struggled with depression most of my life due to early trauma (sexual, physical abuse from infancy until adolescence). I absolutely 100% know that a lot of the problems I dealt with were due to "Christians" and the false messages they send. Many young people in the church are taught that if they do a, b, and c like it says in the Bible (according to many Christians) then life will be good. It's a bunch of bs! Nowhere in the Bible does it say life will be good…in fact it says the opposite! What it does say is that God will be there in those bad times. I think if even one of the Christians I knew growing up had shown me true Christ-like love, it would have made an incredible difference in my life.

          Regarding your thoughts on whether a person can go to heaven after committing suicide, I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the answer is yes. As long as someone has asked for forgiveness, accepted Christ…basically become a Christian, then their sins are forgiven. I think if anything, God feels deeply our pain that brings us to the point of suicide. I believe God is saddened by the circumstances that make us feel as if death is the only option. I believe that if someone does reach that point and successfully commits suicide, God is waiting with open arms for them, ready to give them the comfort and love that people here on earth should have given.

          One of the biggest things that changed my life was when I learned that it doesn't matter what I feel…whether I feel forgiven or close to God or whatever, God is. God is always the same, always faithful, always loving, always there. I don't have to feel like anything, I just have to accept that what God says (again, what He really says, not what some Christians *think* He says) is true.

          One of my favorite sections in the Bible that always reminds me that God is with me even when things are really bad is Isaiah 43:1-3. A little bit from that: "'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine!' When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you, When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you."

          I like how it says *when* these things happen. It's not if there will be crappy times, it's when they happen, he will protect us and be there. Sometimes in my life it seemed like God totally deserted me. But if I honestly look at my life, He was there. He didn't save me from a lot of crap, but he gave me ways to deal with it. And sometimes he did save me. I won't go into details, but there are many times that it seems I shouldn't have survived, either by my own attempts or those of others. But here I am. For that I thank God.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @A'isha, regarding the eternal destination of one who commits suicide:

            No matter whether one calls him-/her-self a "Christian" or not, one is saved if they trust in Jesus Christ.

            How are we forgiven for what we have not yet done, especially if we were to fall out of faith in Him before doing so?

            If one is true in their belief in God, when He tells them there's a reason to keep living—that the work He has for them to do in this world is not yet accomplished—they would trust Him on that; they would trust in His love for them and the importance of their life in His eyes; they should not give up on the world or on themselves, when they know that God has not given up on them, unless of course they totally lost any use of the faculty of reason that defines the human soul, so then their eternal soul cannot be held accountable.

            It's as you said, "I just have to accept that what God says (again, what He really says, not what some Christians *think* He says) is true."

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

            I like the idea that sucides can get to heaven (heck, I've recently come into leaning toward the idea of apokostasis – however it's spelled, anyway – the whole "everyone knows Christ and gets to heaven eventually idea)… and figure, even if I wind up being wrong about it (other people getting to heaven), John 3:16 is something I trust in and is a promise to me….

            In the end, I'm willing to say "I don't know." "I don't know" a lot of things. I really like the idea that God will forgive suicides, though, and for this reason:

            I've come damn close. And I can tell you – a person with a mental illness? It's called mental illness for a reason – we don't think straight. When in a bad mode – I can try to logic things out ( "I know people love me." ) and it will be overriden by the feeling of ( "I'm a burden upon them and they don't deserve that, I should rid them of the burden, they'll get over me and be better off." ) Sometimes, it's even straight up, almost animalistic urges – ( "I just want to hurt myself." ) – I may know, logically, that it's a very bad idea, but something in my brain just wants to reach for a knife and give myself physical pain.

            I've been told that when I get into one of my bad modes, it's almost like I'm another person.

            And it is haywire brain chemistry… really not thinking straight.

            I'm thinking straight right now, but I fear for myself when something sets me off.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            When you're not thinking straight, if you become more animal than human, it is not your spirit that is in jeapordy, just your body then.

          • A'isha

            Matthew, I agree that one isn't a Christian just because they say they are. I hope I didn't imply that. :)

            There are different beliefs on forgiveness and what some people call "once saved, always saved." I don't know the actual terms regarding all of that. I don't believe that salvation can never be lost. What I do believe is that we all sin even after being saved. And sinning won't take our eternal security away from us when we are actively trying to walk with God and become more like Christ. Willfully defying God when we know something is a sin is different.

            You wrote:

            "If one is true in their belief in God, when He tells them there’s a reason to keep living—that the work He has for them to do in this world is not yet accomplished—they would trust Him on that; they would trust in His love for them and the importance of their life in His eyes; they should not give up on the world or on themselves, when they know that God has not given up on them, unless of course they totally lost any use of the faculty of reason that defines the human soul, so then their eternal soul cannot be held accountable."

            I don't like to use the word "should" especially for other people, but since you did, I'll go with it. Maybe no one should give up because God hasn't given up on them. The thing is that when depression is so severe it's hard to know that God hasn't given up. It's hard, almost impossible, to believe God might have a reason for one's life. Those emotions entirely mess up any clear thinking. Does that mean the person has lost their "use of faculty of reason" like you say? Even if it doesn't, I can't believe that God who is all-loving and all-knowing could hold that against His children and send them to hell when they've put their trust in Jesus Christ but due to whatever reason have gotten so depressed that they feel it is impossible to continue living.

            I do believe, like I said before, that it's great when we can believe truths about God no matter what our emotions are telling us, but sometimes it takes a very long time to get through enough healing to get to that point. Shadsie gave great advice about surrounding yourself with people that truly love you. That's my prayer for people who are suicidal or tend towards it…that God would put people in their lives that can really love them, modeling Christ's love in the process.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "Those emotions entirely mess up any clear thinking. Does that mean the person has lost their 'use of faculty of reason' like you say?"

            I should think so.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "The thing is that when depression is so severe it’s hard to know that God hasn’t given up."

            I know; I said "when" they know—not "because"; when they don't, it's a different matter.

            If you don't like the universal statement that they shouldn't, can you think of any cases in which one should—given that knowledge and the use of reason—kill oneself?

            It seems you don't like the possibility of asserting what is logical—that is, what should or should not follow as a logical conclusion from the given information—as well as you appear to reject any moral absolute, in which case it seems God would have no standards for judging anyone.

      • ManimalX

        Great reply. Excellent description of forgiveness.

        (and Shadsie, on a side note, I’ve been meaning to tell you that you have a lot of fantastic art. Really dig some of your pieces like ‘Brush Ink Gryphon,’ ‘Starbuck,’ ‘Summer Nights,’ and ‘Where We Run To.’ You are a very talented artist)

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

          You’ve been to my Deviant Art page?

          *Gasp!*

          Hmm… the Brush Ink Gryphon – experiment with Chinese paper and ink… I think I have that rolled up and in a box in my closet… Starbuck got sold to someone at an anime convention years ago, Summer Nights is hanging above my bedroom television, and Where We Run To is over my bookshelf. (The last one is a freaking painting about *mortality* – surprised anyone likes it).

          Glad the silly fanart stuff and the painted wildlife bones didn’t scare you off.

          • ManimalX

            Scared? No way. I actually liked a lot of that stuff, too. I just didn't take the time to list everything, just the few that I liked the best. Nothing wrong with some good fan art. I've got a thing for animal bones, too, except I just use them as yard decorations instead of decorating them myself.

            When I used to wok in the oil fields, I had a route that was on a ranch way out in the eastern Colorado grasslands. Whenever I would find dead critters (shot by the rancher, roadkill, killed by coyotes, etc), I'd take them to one of my fenced in areas where the bigger scavengers couldn't get them, and leave them there all summer. Between the ants, the birds, the little varmints, and the sun, I ended up with some really nice cleaned and sun-bleached bones and skulls. Owls, turtles, coyotes, cattle, snakes, lots of cool stuff for a southwestern yard motiff.

            Your 'Where We Run To' is probably my favorite. At least, it is the one I spent the most time looking at and contemplating. I absolutely love the dove in the corner. Without it, the piece might be ominous or disturbing, but with it, it tells me death is a defeated enemy and that I have absolutely nothing to fear from it at all.

            That all being said, I feel a little weird taking the thread off topic (especially a weighty one like this). Maybe we could continue the discussion on your site?

    • Tim

      Shadsie, never worry about being a burden. In some respects, none of us can go through life without being a burden on someone else, in some way. When my dad knew that he was descending into the depths of Alzheimer's dementia, he contemplated carbon-monoxide asphyxiation. In fact he had told me about what time of the day and week he would do it so as not to be interrupted by my mom or my sister. But alas, he decided his suicide would end up being even more burdensome than living out the duration of the disease. He knew that survivors of a loved one who commits suicide, never really gets over the pain. What he didn't know, is that he was never, for one second, a burden…even in his most dire circumstances as an Alzheimer patient. Certainly is was hard. It was a challenge. We were forced to live outside our comfort zones on a daily basis for seven years. But none of his family regret caring for him, and continuing to love him even though he forgot our names, how to shower and dress, how to toilet and maybe even how we were related to him. But I know God made me a stronger and more sympathetic person with loads more compassion than I probably would've had…if he had cut his life short. Ironically, turns out it's nearly impossible with the changes in unleaded fuels and a car's internal combustion systems, to asphyxiate yourself while running a car in a closed garage. So even if dad had attempted it, he would have only given himself a monumental headache. But you hopefully catch my drift, Shadsie. Don't buy into the lies of the accuser. With all of your troubles and bi-polarism, you are a unique and beloved person whose life has tremendous purpose. Even when our mere existence poses a challenge in other people's lives, be certain that God doesn't waste any opportunities to love us and grow us.

      God has already forgiven us. We just have a hard time forgiving ourselves. Don't buy the lie.

      • Chellee

        Beautiful, Tim.

        I REALLY appreciated you sharing your thoughts with us……and I agree. On so many precious, perfect points. That was wonderful to be a part of! :)

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

        Now I feel bad because I've kind of made this all about me, eh?

        For the time being, I've been keepin' on truckin.'

        It's just having been there with the suicidal-ness, I do have practical advice: As I've said – for anyone in that situation, gay, straight or whatever, realizing that there are people who love them or finding someone who loves them can make all the difference.

        If you have that and are feeling bad – really, really bad – imagine them finding your body, perhaps even having to clean up. Let that send shivers up your spine. Makes you not want to go through with it, eh?

        Also, here's another think I think about – pure grit. I figure if the world really does want to discount my worth – I'll stick around just for *SPITE.* I decided, at some point "If the world wants to kill me, I am NOT going to make it easy for it." A whole "don't let the bastards grind you down" attitude.

        Find the tactics that work for you at any given moment – and don't be afraid to ask for help. I know the world puts a lot of shame onto seeking out psychatric help or having a stay in a clinic – but those really help. If society didn't really want the insane people, it wouldn't have such services to help.

        • Tim

          Yeah. Up until a few years ago, my church took a very dim view of psychology and psychiatry. They seemed to believe that medical treatment was fine for the body, but not for the mind. Our mind is tied to our physiology and each can affect the other. Without the help of anti-depressants, I never would have believed that my depression was associated to my body. In fact, I never would have believed I was even suffering depression if not for how the anti-depressants turned my mind 180 degrees.

          Nobody should ever feel shameful for going to the doctor. The same holds true for therapeutic counseling. I still believe that if a Christian believer can own just three Biblical concepts, they can build a strong foundation for sound mental state.

          Number one. God loves you and never forsakes you. Though affliction can make us FEEL cut off from God, remember that in the midst of affliction, God desires to convert that affliction into constructive power and use it for our benefit and the benefit of others. Expect that in due time, your season of misery will bear amazing and beautiful fruit. Look expectantly forward, not critically backward.

          Number two. Take all thoughts captive. Instead of assuming that an unreturned phone call, email or text message, is a sign that person is intentionally avoiding you…consider that maybe that person wasn't home, had a dead battery on their cell, or was maybe ALSO in the fetal position sucking down a gallon of boxed wine and watching Seinfeld reruns.

          Number three. Set your mind on anything pure, noble, right, admirable, and worthy of our praise…let stuff like that fill your head and your heart will eventually warm.

          For me, I never would have had the inclination to do any of this unless the weight was taken away. Anti-depressants took the weight off. I know that God is able. And God is faithful. And God uses all means to perform His will. Why do we limit God with our own preconceptions of how He is supposed to work?

          Keep on truckin' Shadsie. The best is yet to come.

  • peet

    Is there some belief that ‘not being gay’ is a state of grace? When did ‘being gay’ become worse than anything else? Why does it seem that the default moral position of Christianity has become: ‘Well, at least I’m not gay”? Why do we speak and act as if somehow, sexual orientation could be changed, and if gays could somehow ‘reorient’ themselves, THEN they would be perfect? Or would we find yet more to judge? If only Christians took the same offense at lying (let alone needless wars) as we do at homsexuality. but no, it’s so much easier to get attention and feel superior by condemning gays. We don’t have to admit our own culpability that way. We cheat on our taxes, we send soldiers to kill for us by proxy, we whine because we feel deprived in a world where 50% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, BUT…at least we’re not gay. What a relief.

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

      Well said, peet.

      Despite such clear statements as "All have sinned and fallen short…", we still feel inclined to rank and prioritise sin and people according to our own prejudices, rather than God's perspective.

      Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://none Don Rappe

    OK. I won’t insult myself this way. Rather than blame the whole deal on Christian error, which is what the false anti-homosexual teaching is, I would hope the focus on straightening this teaching out (no pun intended) such as your blog and the changes in several mainstream churches will help to spread God’s love to his people. Meanwhile, I wonder what the statistics are for Indonesia, China, India etc. where other religions predominate. Or more liberal Christian countries such as in Northern Europe? Don’t expect me to do research,I’m lucky to be awake at all, but I know many of my fellow commenters are akin to encyclopedias.

    For myself, I will continue to regard pairs of people who have pledged their troth to each other as married, without regard to the blessings of any specific institutions, public or private. But, there are obvious benefits and justice involved in the public and recognized profession of such vows.

  • http://www.dannyjbixby.com Danny Bixby

    Great post, John.

    I would say that I can't believe the equivalent of "la la la, I'm not listening" happening in the comments….but I can believe it.

    Frustrating.

  • http://none Don Rappe

    @Shadsie. Although sexually straight I also know the feeling of being suicidal from the inside. I was saved not by fear of hell, I was atheist at the time, but simply being too cowardly to take my own life. That was almost 50 years ago and I’m pretty sure my children and grandchildren, whatever else they may think of me, are happy I didn’t. God doesn’t abandon us when we become diseased. I now know I suffer from chronic major depression. Medication is part of the answer, but, I think God’s love plays a role as well. I don’t think it takes a lot of faith to receive this grace. Just a tiny bit like a grain of mustard. Be well.

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

      I do take medication. I do worry what it might be doing to my body, but having a "balance" is more important right now. I also console myself by reading stuff about how my particular disorder is and has been common among very creative people – including some who've changed the world. I also enjoy some of the manic-creative drive bit of it.

      A large part of why I'm still here is an unshaking conviction that there *is* a meaning to the universe – and that I'm going to find out at least some of it eventually. It's why I think "I should not read the Comments section of the Religion section articles at Huffpost anymore" – because a lot of the really "evangelical" (for lack of a better term) anti-theists are all "Why can't you accept a random universe, you stupid person?!" And I'm all "I need an underlying and eternal meaning to things, otherwise, why the hell should I put up with life?" I fear Hell. I fear oblivion even more sometimes, but I fear meaninglessness even more than those two things. So, I'm here because I think it means something – that, and having some folks who care about me keep me going.

      I also had a brush with death this winter, an "I shouldn't be alive" incident that pretty much tells me God wants me to stick around. I actually learned how much the people around me cared about me from it, which is a lesson I think I needed.

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

        I work with a number of artists, and I think you’re on to something my friend.

        Sometimes the gifts we are given cause us to be wired very delicately and deeply at our core. It seems like artists are almost born with an extra set of “feelers” that a lot of us don’t have. It helps them take in a layer of information and recreate it in ways that make us stop and *see* the world – and God – sometimes for the first time.

        But that seems to come with a very big price. That sensitivity trying to navigate itself through a world that is encased in fear and often – dumb – is a scary, uncertain place. Those of us without that layer can survive, not without some scars. But those of you who don’t have that protective coating around you, it takes a fairly tremendous toll. You think more deeply than most. “Mean” scrambles your brain like an airplane signal at wartime. Etc.

        All this to say, mental illness – particularly bipolar disorder (and autism) is fairly prominent in the artist community. You already know that I’m sure.

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

          (Those of us "with" that layer can survive, rather. I have to start using my computer for these comments.)

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

            (“Mean” scrambles your brain like an airplane signal at wartime. Etc. )

            I think you've hit upon why I just don't understand the world – right there. I don't understand why people can't be tolerant of differences – even "important" ones. I think the first thing people think when they hear "Christian" is "someone intolerant" so why do I get along well with my fiance's sister – who happens to be a Wiccan? Why is one of my best online friends an atheist-leaning agnostic? I don't get why someone can't believe in science and also believe in God. I don't get why people argue all the time over interpretation in my nerd-fandoms. I don't get why we have wars. — I tend to conclude that most of humanity lacks imagination. They can't imagine that someone can think differently than they do and still be a human. Drives me insane(r than I already am).

            I don't get people who…. put profits over people, either, or who *enjoy* sadistically dressing someone down. I have stories – including one that earned me a spot on my record that probably gurantees I'll never have a decent job for the rest of my life because my "not getting it" caused me to "lose it" a little.

            I've thought of quitting civlization, but I don't have the survival-knowledge, and I can't buy art supplies in the woods.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "I tend to conclude that most of humanity lacks imagination."

            Bingo!

          • ManimalX

            Shadsie: If you have the means and the true desire to challenge yourself to learn "survival", you should go take one of Cody Lundin's skill, adventure, or survival courses. Also, check out his self-reliant home!

            http://www.codylundin.com/

          • Mindy

            Shadsie, you rock. Not sure what else, to say, except that I'm really glad you're here. I relate to much of what you've written here, and I learn from you every time you post. Thanks for that.

          • Chellee

            Darling Shadsie…….

            I LOVE you! I applaud you for bravely sharing yourself with us despite your constant pain from doing so. Well done, my friend!

            You are incredible. It shows. And there is NO WAY you exist for "no reason". You most DEFINITELY have a beautiful and deeply meaningful purpose in this life! And I simply CANNOT WAIT for your perceptions to begin perceiving ALL OF THE WAYS this will play itself out in your life. Yay!

            Just know that no matter how often we berate you….or belittle you……or don't hear your pain….or cause more pain……it will NEVER REFLECT YOUR WORTH that we do such things to you. Every single person who EVER reacts to another…..always….and I mean ALWAYS reflect their own heart in doing so. If I mistreat you….it has NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH YOU…..AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH ME!!! You are worthy of being treated honorably and of being respected! Just thought I should say those things!

            :)

          • Steve

            Chellee–I'm looking at this whole thread days later, and I'm going to copy/paste your reply and put it in a safe place. Great wisdom! Peace to you.

          • Marie

            Dear Shadsie – thank you for YOU. Your light is so bright and warm and incredible, I am simply basking in it!!! How you SHINE of Love! You have literally made my heart leap around like a stray firework and I can’t stop smiling!!! Namaste and THANK YOU!!! Bright, beautiful, Divine, amazing addition to this planet – that’s what you are, Shadsie. KEEP IT LOUD AND KEEP IT GOING, BABE!!!!! WOOOT! Thank you for your words and your heart today!! I am so glad I was here to read all of it AND all the loving, celebratory comments respectively!!! LOVE & LIGHT TO YOU! ♥

        • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

          Thumbs up on the link between creativity and certain disorders. I'm ADHD & bipolar and so are both of my children. I like to tell my children about some of the very special people in our history who are known or believed to have shared their disorder with them. Its hard being different, but sometimes it helps to feel special. No, it doesn't make it easier. My daughter is 9, my son is 6, but we've already had days when they have said to me "I wish I was dead!" Its horrible to live with suicidal thoughts and ideation; its excruciating to see your child go through it.

    • ManimalX

      “God doesn’t abandon us when we become diseased.”

      That’s a statement a lot of hurting people need to believe!

  • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

    Gay kids are killing themselves because they are hearing the message that as a result of their *being gay*, they are condemned by God to eternity and for some, part of the reason they believe this is that we as a society are telling them via Prop 8 that they are unfit for and disqualified from the sacrament of marriage as a result of something experienced since youth of which they have no control. You don't have to live in California to experience the fall out from Prop 8, Jeanine. It was on the news and does impact people who live outside the California borders. There are a number of us who have firsthand experience with this and can confirm it for you above.

    Please. Educate yourself.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Prop 8 ought to have no bearing as far as sacraments are concerned. The first is a legal matter and the second – a religious matter. A marriage can exist under God without state recognition, or may be recognized by the state without sanction from God. Separating these matters is important for realizing the distinction in form and purpose between religious and political philosophy, which however actually complement one another, ultimately both finding their perfection in the Kingdom of God.

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

        Could not agree more.

  • Kara

    Okay, only post on this topic for me. I'll reply here, but I'm not touching the rest of the hornet's nest.

    I have been there before.

    I've stood in the shower staring at my razor more times than I can count. I've thought endlessly about how people might react; what would happen after. I've scratched my arms raw; dug my fingernails into my palms so hard that I bled, all in an attempt to stop feeling like dying was the best option.

    It could never be good, I knew. The best case scenario for my life could never be good. I can't do the things that would bring my life meaning. I want love, and a family. I really, really want to join the Air Force. But most of all, I just wanted to be able to stop lying all the time, and I really couldn't do that either.

    Better to die now, while things are at least okay. Better to let them remember me like this. That was the thought, at the time. Once they (my church and religious relatives) find out, my life will be hell. Better for them never to find out. There's only one way for that to happen. That was the thought.

    Someone above said this conversation is all about sex, which I don't understand at all. Sex was not remotely a factor in my suicidal ideation, or sexual feelings, or anything about sex at all. Feeling completely hated and unwanted by the people I loved was. Every damn time I heard them make a snide comment about Ellen Degeneres or Brokeback Mountain, it was like a physical blow. Every time they said God had abandoned American because – this is rich – America was too accepting of "the homosexual agenda," all I wanted was to curl up and die.

    Assuming that theft, lying, and other sins don't happen at lower rates among gay people than straight ones, it logically follows that conservative Christians think gay people, as a group, are less moral than straight people.

    And whether you want this to be true or not, by the time I was 15, I'd realized that meant according to you, the world would be a more moral place, on average, if we were all dead. Or gone. Or whatever. But that a world without gay people would be ideal.

    I'm already hurting enough, and my life is already painful enough at 15. My life's not fun at this point, it's not even tolerable. How big a step is it from "The world would be a more moral, and therefore better, place if there were no gay people in it" to "The world generally, and I personally, will be better off if I'm dead"?

    I'm not suicidal now. I'm lucky. I got a support system, and some kick-ass gay-affirming therapy, and some better, more solid theology. But I was suicidal once, and it was completely and inextricably related to the question of whether it was a sin to be gay.

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

      And there it is.

      • denver

        I agree – Kara's experience, I believe, is exactly the kind of thing John is talking about, here.

        I'm so sorry that you went through that, Kara, but glad that you are at least in a better place now, even if it's not ideal yet. But if you've survived that, you will get stronger, and things will get easier!

        But yes, every time someone says in a derogatory fashion, "that's so gay" it drives me crazy. :(

    • Jeanine

      I had sex before marriage and became pregnant. The father did not want any part of becoming a family, so I was alone and pregnant and a Christian. Big, deep, black, dark pit. Fear, shame, anger, rejection, bitterness, sorrow, humiliation, regret. When I returned home to my church with my big, fat all-telling belly – what welcome did I recieve from the Christians there?

      Well, some were very diappointed in me, ready to do the 'spiritual' Old Testament' stoning. After everything we taught her; look what she has become. She is not worthy to worship with us…..

      Others were all forgiving. Don't worry Jeanine, God is loving and forgiving, he will not hold this against you. Your sins are forgiven, just move foward and live your life.

      I would call these the typical legalist and liberal reaction. I experienced them both. But here is the one who changed my life –

      Jesus looked at me with tears in His eyes, and said to me; ok Jeanine, I see you where you are; I know what is in your heart; now are you ready to follow me? Yes I was. I praise God for the Christians who led me to the Savior. I was ready to be led of the Lord.

      Jesus is a shaper, a molder, a builder of people. He not only saves us, but he forms us, transforms us, heals us and makes us new. He offers newness of life to everyone who asks; but you must be wanting a new life.

      Jesus will not force you to change with a heavy book of rules like a ball and chain around your neck. But Jesus will not allow you to stay as you are either. He starts at your willingness to be led by Him and guides you with His loving arms into all He has for you. No legalism, no liberality – only Christ.

      Why would anyone decide to end their life without asking the loving Savior Jesus to give them a new one? He is so all-together lovely and all-together good.

      • Kara

        Why would anyone decide to end their life without asking the loving Savior Jesus to give them a new one? He is so all-together lovely and all-together good.

        Did you even read my comment? Or… I'm just baffled, here. I was a Christian. I knew Jesus. But the position that holds homosexuality as a sin made Christianity a millstone around my neck, not something that would have made me less likely to feel suicidal.

        I was 15 years old. I believed them. Everyone insisted it was true. Jesus isn't failproof suicide-prevention. It depends on the circumstances.

        As to the rest… I am following Jesus, one day at a time, as best I know how. So… Thanks for the advice on that one, I guess? It's something I'm already doing.

        • Mindy

          Kara, I am speechless. Your first comment above gave me chills and brings home the point of this whole discussion far better than anything I could ever say, or any of us who haven't lived it could say. You have solidified your place as a rock star x10 in my book.

          As for Jeanine's completely insensitive response, I have no words. Unbelievable barely covers it. Apparently, she is so self-absorbed that whatever worked for her MUST work exactly the same way for everyone else. I can't even dignify it with a response.

          All I *can* say is that has been an absolute honor to get to know you through this blog, and I am so very glad that you are in a healthier place in your life now.

        • A'isha

          Kara wrote: "Jesus isn’t failproof suicide-prevention."

          Brilliant! I remember as a teenager thinking that if I was a "better Christian" or trusted Jesus more or prayed more, etc that my depression would go away and I'd be ok. It's so sad that kids get this message. Based on some comments today, they're still getting this message.

        • Jeanine

          'whatever worked for her'

          Not whatever worked for her – it is 'whoever' worked for her.

          Christianity is the this great big historical, long, traditional, confusing, muddled up mess.

          I am talking about a person – Jesus Christ. He does not care about Kara's brand of Christianity or my brand of Christianity. He cares about Kara and Jeanine. And he wants to transform who we are that we might be like Him.

          I don't think that I am being insensitive to try to hold Him out there for her as the way, the thruth and the life. It is the only thing I have worth offering her at all.

          • Kara

            Right, but it just seems weird to me to offer someone something that they've already told you they already have.

          • Jeanine

            I know. It does. And I am so sorry that I am such a miserable messenger. Please forgive me.

            I was raised a Christian, believed in Christ, accepted Him as my Savior too. I was actually an elder in my church at one point, before I got preganant. Talk about hypocrate.

            But I never really KNEW the living Christ. I have no words to explain it. I just want you to consider that there is more that He has for you.

          • Jeanine

            And hopefully He can help me with my typing and spelling…..

          • Kara

            No, I mean… I’m not mad. In a lot of ways, what you’re saying is what happened to me.

            I left the church I was in, and my spiritual life blossomed. Realizing that it was anti-gay humans who didn’t like me, not Jesus, was a major step in my emotional healing. So in that regard, gaining a truer picture of Jesus was exactly what I needed.

            I’m sure I’m always going to continue to learn and grow in my understanding of Jesus, but right now, I’m not in an especially wounded place. My life is good right now. I’m at a wonderful school with a wonderful support system, a home church that I love, and a life that I no longer have to lie about. I suppose life can always be better, be deeper, but right now I feel like me and Jesus are in a pretty great place.

            “Yay, Jesus!” is never going to be a sentiment I disagree with. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t saying I didn’t know he was super-cool, or that I didn’t have a relationship with him, is all. But I’m certainly down with agreeing that Jesus is amazing and wonderful and life-transforming.

          • Jeanine

            Good, I am so glad. I hope the Lord richly blesses you. And by his Grace we will both continue to go where He leads.

          • DR

            Kara is gay. She is already a Christian. She has sought His face and has confirmed for us that He is her Savior. I'm not sure why you continue to offer Jesus being the solution to her when she's already discovered Him? Would you clarify?

            What it appears you are doing is suggesting that she hasn't found Him just yet if she continues to be gay. But perhaps, assuming positive intent you are suggesting that she simply continue to look to Him for support and guidance as any other Christian would do. I hope it is the latter, you certainly have the last word as to what you meant (I am trying to make sure I allow you that)

      • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

        Jeanine, sometimes it is easy to get caught up in telling other people what YOU think they need to hear. But sometimes what you think they need and what they really need are two different things.

        Perhaps you think that telling someone about asking Jesus for his salvation is the most caring thing you can do or say. But its not. In fact, you're so far off the mark I think you missed the target completely.

        What people need from other people are love, acceptance, compassion. Is it possible for you to evince those things without uttering something that resembles an altar call?

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com DR

        What a terrifying, lonely experience for a young girl.

    • Chellee

      Kara……

      I'm so sorry you've gone through all of this. It grieves me to the core. How horrifying.

      And let me say I'm sorry also for the arseholes that promote "God" and "Jesus" and "Christianity" and ALL THAT STUFF……as being so incredibly O.K. while doing such damage to another precious individual that God loves as much as I am loved.

      The God I choose to believe in DOES NOT promote those atrocities!

      I bless you Kara…with everything in me….for good…for wellness….and against every single thing that would deny you or detract from your rightfulness of being. You are beautiful! You are acceptable. You are KARA! :) (which means practically perfect in every way!) :D

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      Oh, Kara, I just want to be able to tell you how beautiful and smart and gentle and expressive you are, how perfect in every way imaginable. I wish there was something that could humanly be done to help free you from the hatred and shame others have imposed on you.

      You are fine JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. There is NOTHING wrong with you. Not one thing.

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        and now I’m a fan of Barnmaven!

        • Chellee

          WAYYYYYY ME, TOO!!! Go Barnmaven!!!!!!!!!! :D

    • Susan

      @ Kara,

      You have such strength, character, patience and wisdom. I’m in awe of you. And, I thank God for you…that you are still here, in the physical world and in this virtual place. In sharing yourself, you’ve impacted most all of our lives in a very necessary way. Some may not even recognize the impact you’ve had, as your message has not yet “sunken in.”

      I don’t know if I could have managed life the way you have, much less with the warmth and integrity that are so obviously part of your spirit.

      Thank you, for so much that I don’t even know how to express.

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    That many commentators recognize the problematic role that religious belief about sin and sexuality plays in contributing to gay teen suicides is an important step to correcting its caustic social influence. But I fail to see how turning to a different interpretation of that same religious belief (one that is less caustic and more accepting) is a step in the right direction.

    Although I have no doubt that the intention of those who hold either end position of this religious divide is meant to be good, I think this solution grants unwarranted cover and protection for those who shall continue to believe that god sanctifies bigotry (in this particular issue). One's belief that such is the case may be considered warped theology, and may even be counter to the central message of a more tolerant theology, but it is as justified a religious belief by scripture as its more tolerant and accepting counterpart.

    Herein lies the glimpse of a much larger problem: on what basis does any theology – tolerant and/or intolerant – have to justify and inform its interpreted message regarding civil rights… other than belief itself?

    The larger problem, then, seems to be that we allow religious belief itself to even have a place at this discussion table regarding the establishment of non-discriminatory civil rights.

    Concluding that religious belief has no business getting involved in civil rights of others I think is a much more enlightened and lasting solution to creating the means to establish a just and fair civil society based on equal legal rights and freedoms. Without that legal basis, one cannot have a civil society that legally respects the dignity of each person. And without that legal respect, then the ongoing tragedy of gay teen suicides will continue to be heavily influenced by the widespread social acceptance of religious piety that includes bigotry.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      It is interesting how you turn from the matter of a teenager's suicide to civil states of affairs at a whole other level. Perhaps if people didn't have the civil right to be wrong, it would help one heck of a lot more than legal recognition of marriage, since errors of theology are more to blame here than the fact that people confound religion and politics. Keeping religion out of the political arena wouldn't help so much as weeding out the erroneous beliefs. Even after marriage is extended under the law to homosexual unions, religious views will (or, in some places, do) still have harmful effects if wrong. (It can however be helpful in all things that when the establishment of a belief system adopts or rejects a given belief, those with loyalties in said system are highly likely to adopt or reject it accordingly.)

      Your view of all theologies as equally justified either is in poor consideration of theology (probably actually deriving from your presumption that that all theological claims are equally *un*-justified) or is grounded in postmodernism, making no theology any less justified than *any* truth claim.

      How do you determine what "equal legal rights and freedoms" entail? Any basis you might have is available to theologians as well. Yet it is not the fundamental purpose of theology to inform civil rights.

      Religious philosophy and political philosophy are indeed quite distinct in purpose and therefore in content. Patriotic Americans affirm "that all men are created equal," though the Bible tells us, "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?"

      One is a prudent, practical policy rubric; the other answers the query of the soul.

      • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

        "Weeding out the erroneous beliefs" is exactly the problem, MT, because they are all based solely on the authority of scriptural interpretation and the most literal in my mind come closest to being the most honest. This is a HUGE problem for 'weeding' because there are no other tools for doing so than those used in theological terms and based on exactly the same scriptural authority! One must therefore look outside of theology for additional justification of one interpretation over another.

        You assertion that there is a version more applicable to the ''soul' rather than policy is very dangerous thinking. And here's why (borrowed from Shaker B. Srinivasan's article Idea and Violence):

        A religion is a collection of ideas, in some instances written down in scriptures eons ago, and in others, communicated orally across generations. Some ideas in this collection can be dangerous, and if left unchallenged or glossed over, will make “the world much more flammable” [...]. The idea of untouchability, the idea that woman is a temptress and inferior to man, and the idea that homosexuality is a mortal sin that is punishable by death, are not benign private beliefs. Nor is the idea that apostates, blasphemers, and unbelievers can, and should be, put to death and their property confiscated or destroyed.

        In the interest of human civilization and progress, ideas must be subjected to logical and empirical scrutiny. They must be challenged and rejected when warranted. Deeming an idea as above criticism and rejection because it’s a god’s last word, communicated through his last and only true prophet, is a dangerous idea in itself, no matter how many billions of people buy into the lie.

        Liberals and secularists who obfuscate inherently dangerous ideas by characterizing them as misinterpretations of religion, or seek justification for the actions that follow from such ideas elsewhere are simply dishonest. Intellectual honesty demands that they should explicitly and unequivocally reject those ideas and throw them into “the ash heap of history”, to use President Reagan’s words.

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

          I know I once asked you to never speak to me again in a bout of anger and I’m kind of inviting you to do so here, but…

          What you and so many others seem to *fail to understand* is that people *aren’t* going to completely throw out all their religious beliefs (religion whole hog) because there are a few dubious things about it, or things in our holy books that we’ve been spending all of history trying to figure out.

          I *hate* it when I meet people who lambaste liberal Christians/Muslims/Jews, etc. on the grounds that they “like Fundamentalists better becuase Fundamentalists are honest” – you know what that SCREAMS to me? It tells me “Oh, I want this whole group of people to fit into a little box of how I think they should be because I can HATE them more easily.” If you’d never met a loving, generous and tolerant Christian, you wouldn’t have to admit that loving, generous, tolerant people who happen to be Christian exist! You can just happily dehumanize them all! Instead, terms like “accomdationist” and “enabler” come up to justify more hate.

          To be homest, sometimes, I’m tempted to hate athiests, but then, I think about a good friend of mine, and a few very rational “rationalists” I’ve met and… I can’t. I can’t lump you all into a “pompous unimaginative bigoted blowhard” box (no matter how many I encounter that fit that description) because I’ve met ones who aren’t. I look to the “exceptions” and cannot hate.

          A person’s beliefs (or dis-beliefs) are a part of the core of that person. Yes, they can change throughout a lifetime, but they generally do not change easily. It takes time – no one can snap their figures and just choose to believe something in an instant – (sure, Jack Chick seems to think that, but it doesn’t work in the real world). Hell, every “I realized there was no god and felt so freeeee!” testimony I’ve ever seen has struck me as being like every “born again” testimony I’ve ever seen!

          So, no. We Christians *can’t* “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” For some of us, belief in a God, even belief in Christ is what keeps us wanting to stay alive (you may see my other posts above). Some of us haven’t been able to “get rid of our beliefs” even at points in our lives when we’ve *wanted* to.

          And it’s not so much “picking and choosing” as we are often accused of doing. Theology is about scrutiny. We want to *understand* the deep meaning behind this or that scritpture – including context and culture it was written in, and relating that to our differing, modern culture. “Word of Christ” tends to trump “Word of Paul” for many of us, and both trump “Word of Moses.” These are arguments that have been going on since our little movement began! I personally see Christianity as something that’s always evolving, because frankly, the Bible as the “Word of God?” I think God has trouble communicating with us humans sometimes because we’re pretty dumb. The Bible is filtered through human experience – don’t ask me why God thought that was a good idea…. Think about it – how easy is it for a person to misunderstand the meaning behind the words of another person? Almigthy Creator of all that is and will be? Um…. yeah, our tiny ant brains can’t figure most of it out, methinks. Though we try.

          In any case, people who look at us and say “Hey, why don’t you just ditch the religion entirely” strike me as people who are standing outside a window, watching a family’s domestic dispute and trying to tell the family how to stop being dysfunctional without having an inkling about what’s going on within that family, and furthemore not caring at all about that family’s well-being (some of the people outside the window make it clear that they want said family to drop dead).

          Sometimes, a family’s got to work out its own issues.

          I’m willing to say “I don’t know” on the “is homosexuality a sin?” issue – I certainly don’t think a person’s natural leanings are sin, but the actual sex part, well, I don’t know, and I’m willing to say “I don’t know,” which puts me at odds with both “sides” if you will. And I feel, with my life and standing, I’m in no position to judge anybody.

          I do agree on civil issues, however. I think that no matter what religion you are, beliefs *as an American* – civil freedoms, what’s good for society as a whole – should trump the inner “family” theology issues. But Mr. Shore’s post was not about those – it *was about what’s going on within the family* and how we all need to be aware of it.

          I’ve known a lot of fellow Christians who are unconciously doing a lot of harm because they’ve never actually *talked* to a gay person (offline or on). They just don’t know the struggles that are going on with people’s hearts.

          And much like the person who thinks that all the religious should “drop their faith” or die out so the world can “advance,” and the sun will shine brighter and we’ll all be pooping rainbows – those that look at gays that way are doing what I call “pulling the trigger in ignorance.”

          • Mindy

            Shadsie, you make an excellent point. Our beliefs are part of our core. Sometimes, they change. Sometimes, not so much.

            I was talking with a friend today at my daughter's volleyball game, and she mentioned that they had to hurry out afterward because her daughter had youth group. I asked where they went to church and she told me – a progressive non-denominational Christian church that I'd first learned about yesterday! It was one of those weird "small world" things – I kept my younger daughter's two best friends for a couple of hours yesterday so that their dad could have a late lunch, with the pastor of – this church!

            Which was especially rich because this dad – he and his wife are my good friends – is an atheist. He was raised in a VERY fundamental Christian family and has been on a journey his whole adult life to figure out spirituality, but he is a firm atheist, at least for now. We laughed about the coincidence and she went on to tell me what a great church it is, how welcoming it is to everyone.

            She said her husband, who was raised Catholic, left all religion behind a few years ago because he was so disillusioned with Catholicism. Getting him to try out this church with her took a LOT of convincing over a couple of years. He finally did, and after a very short time realized how much he missed being part of a church community. He told her he finally feels like he's found his spiritual home. His beliefs never left him, but he had to travel his own journey to find them again.

            I don't consider myself part of any organized faith, but I do believe in God. Not the God of the Bible, but one that resonates with me. I won't go into my entire belief system, but suffice it to say that it doesn't fit any one religion. I have no problem at all understanding what some people call the "picking and choosing" from the Bible, because I believe it is a book inspired by God, a book left to humanity to teach us. I don't believe for a moment we were ever expected to take it literally – because I believe God *wants* us to learn and change and evolve, and while the basic framework remains the same, we continue to figure out, one by one, that the "rules" don't say we have to hate what is different. The basic framework is simply the Golden Rule, but we humans manage to mangle even that in our efforts to try and understand God.

            Too many mystical, spiritual things have happened to me over the years to leave any doubt that something bigger than all of us exists. We just don't understand it yet – and we may never, at least not in this lifetime. I believe it transcends all religion, and each religion is merely one effort to understand it the best we can. And it's all good – until it is used to for power and control.

            That is what Christianity (and every other major religion) has become for too many – an excuse to exercise control, over the masses or over an "other." It has been used to justify war and wealth, even wealth accumulated at the altars of churches. It has been used to discriminate – now it is gays and Muslims, once it was blacks and Jews. As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same – because fear is one frightfully powerful drug.

            Until we can get past all of that, *my* God is shaking his head in disappointment – and still, never giving up on us for trying.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Shadsie, I'm not asking you to throw your beliefs away. I'm pointing out the problem of determining which religious belief is, as Matthew suggested, in need of 'weeding'. That a particular religiously inspired idea – that homosexuality is a sin – has helped promote bigotry in the public domain against homosexuals is, I think, beyond doubt. So on what basis can we alter this belief?

            I further point out that scriptural literalists have a pretty solid basis for their beliefs – as noxious as some of these ideas may be to thee and me. That basis is scripture. These folk have a very legitimate point against the more liberal of their religious family when they argue that if scripture is the word of god then a sophisticated reading of it leading to an interpretation that seems to stand in direct contrast to the belief as it is written must be in error. How can you effectively argue against that if your more sophisticated interpretation is also based on scripture?

            I am glad you think that civil law should trump theology issues. And I like the idea you present of theology should be much more private – like a family squabble kept within the family's home, so to speak. I have long argued that the religious should take it one step further and reduce theology to a private matter entirely because its extension into the world causes as much harm as it does good. But that's not to say it should be eliminated or made illegal or any such draconian measures that involves what amounts to thought police (although that idea is certainly present in the religious notion that god knows what you are thinking and will hold you accountable at a later date!). It means that when individuals realize their actions are motivated and justified by their religious beliefs, then those actions need to be reined in and returned to the private domain unless there is an equal justification available in secular terms, a justification that accounts for human rights and freedoms, civil rights, and the dignity of personhood. Expressions of care, concern, compassion, charity, and so on (just to mention some the 'C's) are equally valid expressions of enlightened secular values and if someone wants to claim that their actions are motivated by god rather than human concerns alone, then the difference doesn't matter in practice but does in justification. But when a religious idea like battling sin is the root reason for practicing bigotry or misogyny or intolerance or abuse or hate or vengeance then it is the believer who has overstepped the bounds of what is tolerable in a civil society.

            I know you like to paint me as some kind of religious hater and it's true that I despise certain noxious religious ideas and how they are inserted into the world I inhabit against my wishes an opposition to my freedom from religion, but I take some measure of comfort that these are also despised by a great many religious folk.

            I think where we disagree is in finding and implementing solutions to certain noxious religious ideas. That's why I attempt to convince people that turning to more religion with a different interpretation does not seem to me to be a very good plan when the bigotry comes directly from a blunt reading of scripture and then extended into the public domain to cause harm.

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

            I think I understand some of what you're getting at, but…

            I have a *really* hard time taking people who use the phrase "freedom from religion" seriously. I've encountered too many people who act like someone saying "I believe in God" constitutes forcing religion on them, or someone wearing a cross-necklace in public.

            Or acting like a stupid phrase on our money that most people don't even pay attention to ate their children and raped their dog __ Personally, I hate the phrase on money, too – I think it's perverse to invoke "God" on money ("cannot serve two masters" thing with me), but I don't act like it's the end of the world.

            I's like… the impression I get from the over the top "freedom FROM religion" front makes me think they that they're all stamping their feet in a tantrum that religion exists and all of humanity is "stupider than them."

            Yes, religious fundamentalists give the world a bad impression. Atheist fundamentalists do, too.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            If by 'fundamentalist atheist' you mean someone who thinks you don't have the right to affect my private life by your religious beliefs extended into the public domain through various affected public policies, then I am guilty as charged.

            But you don't mean it that way, do you? You mean it to be derogatory, in the sense of 'pushing' my non belief onto you in the same way that religious fundamentalists push their beliefs into the public domain.

            But think about that for a moment and perhaps you will appreciate the hypocrisy. There would be no 'fundamental atheism' to be pushed if there was nothing there to push against, the sense that you feel no need to 'push' your non belief in pixies because there is nothing there to push your non belief against. Believe IN pixies for all anyone cares; just don't insert that belief in pixies into public policies that forces your belief to affect others.

            It makes no sense to consider the reverse, that religious fundamentalism requires atheism to push against. Religious fundamentalism is pushed not against anything: it is simply pushed unto others as the only god-sanctioned authority under which everyone should live. That's a different kind of fundamentalism altogether.

            The derogatory term 'fundamental atheist' is meant to be a 'shut up already' term for those who complain about religious beliefs inserted into the public domain. Only those atheists who don't complain, who don't point out the inherent conflict of epistemology in religious belief which is brought to every policy discussion table to which it comes uninvited -science, morality, medicine, education, politics, sexuality, and so on – seem to be the only atheists who are NOT fundamentalist.

            Funny, that.

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

            To me an atheist fundamentalist isn't that different than a Christian fundamentalist – they both think you're stupid and/or immoral if you don't *think exactly like them.*

            I have run into many – of both stripes, mostly online. The atheist fundamentalist is the type who will say that a person who believes in a God (even of the Diest stripe) is "incapable of rational thought." Or who say things like we're holding the world back that the world will be all sunshine and rainbows as soon as all the religious/spiritual DIE out.

            The atheist fundamentalist goes beyond the reasonable desire for secular schooling and secular goverment – they are the ones that get offended that yes, indeed, people exist who happen to be religious.

            In short – this is the kind of person like the one who accused me *personally* of her not being able to run for president because she was an athiest. WTF? Honestly, some out there are capable of belief in God and not giving a flying banana what religion or lack thereof our politicians are. (I tend to think all people in politics lie anyway, so I vote for what I think is best policy and/or the lesser of evils).

            One thing I agree with many non-believers on is that, yes, I do think religion should get out of politics. I just see way too many getting "fundamentalist" in that they seem to want to evict religion from *existance* altogether and, I'm sorry, it's not going to happen. Some of us are always going to be "stupid" – as it were.

          • Argy-bargy

            Just a point of historical clarification. Although far from a unanimous view among the Founding Fathers, many were Deists. They did not largely subscribe to traditional religious views of the time. God, in their view, was more akin to a clockmaker, who set his creation in motion and then sat back, not involving Himself intimately in the world. So, when you see references to "In God We Trust" and "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," these were references to a Deist God and to Natural Law as a source of human rights.

            We return you to our discussion, already in progress….

    • http://none Don Rappe

      I believe that all men have been endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights … I learned this from a document which according to tildeb must have no real place in our secular society. It seems only yesterday she was taking the religion away from the millions of Buddhists in the world.

      • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

        Thank you for this teachable moment, Don, in spite of the rather distasteful sanctimony you aim at me.

        This little nugget you have so slyly advanced as if to say that secular rights are also derived from god is in fact a reference from the Declaration of Independence to the respect owed to the opinions of man regarding political authority that is just, and clarified with the following sentence: That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

        Take note of what informs political authority to ensure the secular exercise of these rights, Don. Not god, as you would have us falsely believe: the governed. Secular, of course, refers to temporal and worldly concerns, which is the arena I am talking about and how rights are exercised on this rather pointy-edged metaphysical realm. To suggest that god has something to say on the matter worth considering is a capitulation to divine rather than secular authority – in stark contrast to the intent of establishing the foundation of political authority the Declaration.

        And would you call christianity a religion if there was no god… tripartite or otherwise? If I am 'taking away' the religion of many because of this rather central feature of the definition of what constitutes a religion* is singularly lacking in Buddhism, then I am simply replacing it with the more apt title of a philosophy without altering a solitary sentence of it. What that is actually taking away was never present to begin with, Don.

        *1. belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny

        2. any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief: the Christian religion

        3. the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers

  • Ace

    Having had to talk down a gay friend in high school from killing himself for exactly this sort of reason (he grew up in a primitive Baptist family), I can say I agree with John 100%.

    The bitter rhetoric coming from pulpits and in turn parents in this nation targets the weakest members of our society – kids and teens – but most Christians don't seem to care. Many seem to think this kids "get what they deserve" and devalue their lives as human beings. It disgusts me. I've gotten into arguments with my own father about this subject and like many with his set of beliefs, he fails to see the harm such attitudes do, or thinks it is justifiable, because he thinks gay people are "evil".

    What kind of evil, really, is a confused 16 year old kid, compared to any other human being?

    It's just so hypocritical.

  • http://www.bunnykirby.com Bunny Kirby

    ‎"The way to happiness: keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised."

    ….from a book I am reading…

    And I truly believe if we could live this way in regards to EVERYONE we could possibly be very happy, contented, and maybe even accept all the way they are. Which is what each of us want for ourselves, don't we? Why can't we be willing to give to others what we most deeply want….. love, acceptance, appreciation for differences ….. if it is not injuring to others, then it is good. Being critical and judgmental is injuring others, period!

    Kara, I think that you are an incredibly wise person that has worked through an impossibly hard, deeply hurtful wound. I am sure that you have more to deal with, but I am impressed with you and pray great blessings on you and full healing of your wonderful heart!!!! Thank you for being so transparent and truthful. It truly has helped me even more in my quest to figure out how I want to view this issue.

  • kim

    I am straight and have just spent a weekend with a group of straights and gays sharing our thoughts and feelings. Suicide is the tip of the iceberg. How many gays have avoided close and loving relationships with others? How many have lived a life in fear? How many have been rejected by their families and by those who they thought were their friends? How much longer must this go on?

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

    Bravo, John. I hope to live to see the day that the conservative, mainstream Christian church lets-go of the stranglehold on gays. You inspire me to continue to defy the status quo.

  • Chellee

    Darling, Darling Precious Denver……

    We can be SO MEAN! I can hardly stand myself (as I was especially before when I had that gay-cootie thing going on)!!!! You do NOT DESERVE to be treated this way. How incredibly degrading TO US ALL that there would be one of "our OWN" that we would turn on in this manner. You are SO CORRECT when you said we all sin. Amen! Whatev!! But I sincerely apologize to you. You are a decent, beautiful soul who has so very much to offer. I like you! BIG OLE wishes for ultimate blessings and fulfillment and happiness!!!!!!!! :D

  • Argy-bargy

    @Those who view the Bible as the inerrant or at least infallible word of God, could you please help me understand something? (This isn't a rhetorical device…I'm trying to understand where fundamentalist Christians are coming from.)

    Leviticus 20:13: "And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."

    If you believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin, does that mean that we should also follow the Biblical mandate to kill those who practice it? I doubt that anyone would truly be advocating that, so I guess what I'm getting at is…are there mandates in the Bible that we need not follow? If so, why? If not, why not?

    • Ace

      I do know some people who have advocated putting homosexual people to death, sadly. There are people out there who are that ignorant, as scary as that is.

      • Mindy

        That *is* scary, Ace. Ick.

      • denver

        That is part of the hubub over Target donating to the PAC that gave it to the campaign of that republican guy in Minnesota (or Michigan? Wherever they are located). Not only is he anti-equality, as so many republicans are, but he apparently backs a “Christian” band that advocates killing gay people.

        Target did not apologize or make things right in any way. If they had said, oh, we didn’t know that part, sorry… I could have forgiven them. But the statement was pretty much a solid middle finger to the people that were upset. So, I’m boycotting them.

        Ah, the supreme court ruling that corporations are people. Can we get a do over on that one?

        • http://none Don Rappe

          Man, I sure hope so.

        • Ace

          I actually cried slightly at hearing that. Corporatocracy, that's what our country is. "Representative Democracy" my hind foot, only massive organizations with buckets of cash have any voice.

    • Mindy

      Just heathen me, but my guess is that they do not advocate the putting to death of gays because they know damned well that it would be the killing that would be the abomination. Because our culture is different than the times in which those mandates were written. BECAUSE WE KNOW BETTER NOW.

      Maybe, eventually, they will also learn that being gay is neither a choice or an abomination, that only hating and legislating the resulting discrimination is an abomination. Thereby putting it it into cultural and historical perspective as they have the other mandates from which they pick and choose.

      My Biblical question is this: Is homosexuality ever mentioned in the New Testament, or ever mentioned by Jesus at all? I honestly want to know, because my understanding is that it is not, but I don't want to say so mistakenly.

      • Kara

        New Testament: Maybe. Debatable.

        Jesus: Definitely not.

      • Ace

        Jesus makes zero mention of it. Other than adultery and divorce, which Jesus is quite clear on, most sexual matters are simply not mentioned.

      • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

        Mindy,

        Paul's letter to Corinth has the NT verses that are the club of choice when making this point:

        Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1st Corinthians 6:9-10)

        • Mindy

          Hmmmm . . . homosexual offenders. Couldn't that just mean those who offend homosexuals?

          • Kara

            Hee. Actually, it's just a BS translation in general. Means nothing about "homosexual" anything.

          • Ace

            Possibly it is a reference to male rape? I don't really know. Some of Paul's letters get on my nerves for other reasons anyway, so yea…

          • Argy-bargy

            Haha, Kara. That would be rich….

            Well, I think that this was covered in other posts on this site by those far more qualified than me to expound on it, but: there are two Greek words that appear in the earliest version we have of this Biblical passage. One of the words can be translated in a number of ways, with one translation being "those of loose morals." The other word is one that Paul apparently made up and the meaning is unclear. Interestingly, Paul never uses a particular word known in Greek that comes closest to our modern version "homosexuality."

            So…those who are looking for NT references are faced with something less than clear. And yes, Jesus never mentions anything like homosexuality in condemning other sexual sins.

          • Argy-bargy

            Sorry, I meant: "Mindy, that would be rich."

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        Mindy, To answer your question – It’s not my point of view, but Fundamentalists use Romans 1:18 -32 to justify their animosity against homosexuality and those of us who support gay rights.

    • Argy-bargy

      I really would like to hear from some of our fellow blog posters that have a more literal Biblical bent. I haven't heard a very good explanation of how fundamentalist Christians view the entire issue of what to follow, what not to follow.

    • ManimalX

      @ Argy-bargy

      Allow me to take a crack at answering your great questions: “If you believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin, does that mean that we should also follow the Biblical mandate to kill those who practice it? I doubt that anyone would truly be advocating that, so I guess what I’m getting at is…are there mandates in the Bible that we need not follow? If so, why? If not, why not?”

      In my opinion, the answer is very simple. Sin hasn’t stopped being sin. But that pesky “death penalty for sin” thing? Jesus took care of that for the sinners who care to accept His sacrifice.

      I know, I know, the universalists hate it when it is phrased that way, but that is how the Bible presents it, so that is how I present it.

      This answer obviously begs the question: “then what about those who DON’T accept His sacrifice? Should we kill them?” The answer is a resounding “NO!” because once Jesus took that death penalty on Himself, HE became the One to whom sinners will be ultimately accountable. In other words, it is now His place to exercise ultimate judgment and punishment on unrepentant sin, not ours.

      Did I explain that in a way that makes any sense?

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

        So can someone by gay – not repent for it because they don’t believe they need to repent for it- and still be saved at the same time? That’s what I need some help with.

        And truly, truly – I’ve made a lot of assumptions about your beliefs here that I simply gleaned from some of your answers to other questions. I’ll ask more specific questions and formulate my opinion from those, that’s a bit more fair.

      • Argy-bargy

        I understand what you’re saying, but doesn’t that beg the question: how do you know what parts of the Bible have been supplanted or superseded, better said, and can be disregarded? Seems a bit arbitrary…and convenient. What other parts can be disregarded and why? What must still be followed and why? I’m not expecting a full recitation. What I’m asking is that isn’t it introducing a human element in the interpretation? If that is permissible, upon what authority, basis, or by what mechanism can this be done?

        I have a problem with people (not necessarily you, I don’t know if you agree with this) who state that the Bible is the literal, inerrant, and infallible word of God, but then say…well, except for that part there which either sounds too harsh and unforgiving, or contradicts something else.

      • http://none Don Rappe

        That's crazy, so it probably is a sensible way to explain crazy stuff. But, I have been called "opinionated".

    • Matthew Tweedell

      @Argy-bargy

      You see, it doesn’t say, “ye shall get them totally stoned,” or something like that, but rather, “they shall surely be put to death.” Even should their act remain hidden from men, they surely shall, just as Adam and Eve would surely die if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

      Jesus made it clear that we, however, are in no position to render such judgment (cf. Pericope Adulturae, John 8:3-11), and showed by His example that even if we were, as He was, we would be right to choose not to condemn.

      Scripture never gave *us* the authority to punish this—that’s what secular laws do—but did reveal God’s religious law, “Thou shalt not kill.”

      *In any case*, however, “when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law,” (Hebrews 7:12) and the Levitical priesthood is long gone.

      • Kara

        I think you’re taking the easy way out. “Put to death” isn’t the same thing as “die”. And it’s clear from stories elsewhere in the Bible that on other issues the Israelites understood “they shall be put to death” as “y’all had better kill ‘em”. Which is the rational assumption as far as what that means.

        The Bible doesn’t say “thou shalt not kill,” it says “thou shalt not murder”. They certainly didn’t think killing people God told them to kill was murder.

      • Argy-bargy

        Some translations aren’t as ambiguous, Matthew.

        In the NIV: 13 ” ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

        New Living Translation: 13 “If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.

        Today’s New International Version: 13 ” ‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

        I’m not learned enough to tease out the proper translation from the original Greek (or Hebrew, for that matter). Without going into greater detail, there are other instances of exhorting people to put to death those guilty of particular sins. It’s there.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          What are you and Kara talking about?

          All those translations confirm that they will be put death. What’s the dambiguity all about? NONE of them authorize YOU to be the agent of that.

          Besides the fact that, given our secular law, THAT WOULD BE MURDER, in what translation, Kara, Do you get “Thou shalt not murder”?

          Jesus showed how the letter of the law matched the Spirit even in the situation that they were trying to test Him with by bringing the woman taken in adultery before Him, where religious law stood at odds with (in this instance, Roman) secular law.

          • Kara

            http://www.tektonics.org/lp/nokilling.html

            Dude, if you buy the OT as an accurate accounting of stuff God said and did (which I don't, necessarily), then God told people to kill other people all the damn time.

            I'm not advocating killing. I'm saying that you can't pretend the OT doesn't do that a lot. It's not cool to only write off the inconvenient parts, or the parts we personally find unpalatable. Either the things the OT says God did and ordered done are moral, or they aren't.

            I mean, how do you explain Israel stoning people for centuries? Did everybody just get it wrong all those years, and God never bothered to mention that they weren't reading it right?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Such was their law, Kara. I’m not writing off a single letter of it. YOU are.

          • Argy-bargy

            "…aren't OUR law and which are?"

          • Kara

            Uh, yeah. I am. I'm a real radical that way, in that I don't believe in Levirate marriage, prohibitions against touching footballs, dashing kids' heads against rocks, genocide, etc.

            But I still don't get what your position is. Did God command the death penalty for some sins in the OT, or not?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            God ORDAINED the death penalty. God COMMANDS (or commisions) certain people do certain things (such as to carry it out).

          • Argy-bargy

            So is there a death penalty for homosexuality or not, and if so, who's supposed to carry it out?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Yes, there is, but not under *our* law.

          • Jeanine

            You mean not under 'Grace'

          • Argy-bargy

            Well, again, I'm struggling to understand–our law or grace? The penalty for homosexuality WAS death, but no longer, because of Jesus' substitutionary atonement. So, God permitted people to be put to death (or commissioned it) because they were gay. Then, anywhere from 1500-2000 years later (depending on when you place Leviticus), when Jesus died for us, it was no longer permitted or commissioned. Although, I'd like to know where Jesus said that by His dying for us, certain appalling atrocities supposedly commissioned by God for no longer necessary to be carried out.

            But earlier, you suggested that it was figurative…that people would pay the wages of sin (death) for being gay, not actually be killed. Then I pointed out that translations vary and it was quite EXPLICIT that people were to be put to death for being gay. Now, the punishment is death. Or was.

            And you feel that it's not necessary to consider anything but a literal reading of the Bible in this respect? Well, which literalness are you talking about? The figurative literalness or the literal literalness? Are you permitted to consider or question why the Bible would say so? Or, if it's God word, why God would want it so?

            I don't think the very discreet questions: is homosexuality a sin and if so, is the penalty for it death are too broad for this forum. I think that's exactly at the heart of this forum.

            I'm afraid you haven't helped me understand any of this better than "because the Bible tells me so."

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I can't quite tell what you’re directing to me and what regards Jeanine, A-b. For example, I never said anything about a figurative understanding. (Yes, the payroll manager thing was a metaphor of my own invention, but as far as the biblical verses we're discussing, what could I have claimed it as a metaphor for exactly?)

            Did I ever suggest that the penalty of any given law had changed?

            Rather, legal systems themselves are diverse. There are indeed legal systems under which the death penalty is punishment for certain acts of a homosexual nature. Some were in place 2000 years ago, and some are in place in our own time. (To God do they owe existence; by His Grace do they yet persist.)

            I never claimed Jesus said what you are saying, but why would you accuse our Father of atrocity? Who are you, dude, to be judging what God has willed? What moral standard have you by which to measure God? You might want to learn your place in the world.

            What exactly is the contrast you are constantly trying to draw between literal and figurative when it comes to the matter in question? As for what I meant in using the term literal, I see no need of anything other than the historical-grammatical method in understanding this.

            I am free to consider whatever questions I will. But now you pose questions different from the ones being considered.

            Also, your new "very discreet question" is not what you asked when you wanted me to tell you how to go about interpreting the whole wonderful thing, which is indeed very broad. But allow me to answer that specific question, consistent with comments I've been making on this blog for a while now, A-g: although sexuality of any general sort in specific cases may be sinful, as for homosexuality as a universal rule being so: Hell no!

          • Argy-bargy

            But isn’t it our law, too? Or which parts aren’t are law and which are?

          • Argy-bargy

            So there are parts of the Bible which shouldn't be considered OUR law anymore? Which ones? Matthew, I'm not trying to be difficult or paint you into a corner. I. Just. Want. To. Understand.

            It's a dialogue, dude.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I'll address this later, as I've really got to get going now.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            A-g, I cannot know according to what law you yourself subordinate, but I am a servant under the Dominion of our Lord Christ and am party to secular social contract and thus bound by its chartered institutions and acts passed under them to the extent that it does not create a conflict of interests with my fidelity to the former. In other words, as I defined the basis of our law above. Note that the word "Bible" is not found there. It would be exhausting to list them all, but certainly parts of the law to which I am subject are held in common with the Law of Moses. However, neither de jure nor de facto am I under their jurisdiction. The yoke of my Lord is light; the eternal Law in the nature of whom I call God has been clearly seen from the beginning and made known through our Eternal Priest; "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial.

            As for those under the Law of Moses, it is recognized that anal intercourse between two males may be punished in that way, but, as always, only by way of applicable legal jurisdiction, which doesn't happen since such is now unconstitutional to the Jewish nation. In any case, it is not the relationship or even the sex that causes the offense, but letting two or more be eyewitness to it. And you really don't seem to get that it's not a command to kill them (though there is a command *not* to kill); it is a command against committing what they would understand to be abominable, though it wouldn't necessarily be among the taboos the modern English translation references when applied to our own place and time. It also serves to remind you that those who do so, die, implying a threat that death may—or maybe not—saying the wrong things about Putin may, or may not—result in a certain rescheduling of your appointment with one Grim Reaper.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            No! Our law is based on the US Constitution and ultimately the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ.

          • http://johnshore.com slick

            As I understand it, we currently live under the law of the new testament. The old testament is a historical record that predates the old testament.

          • http://johnshore.com slick

            Let me try this again. As I understand it, we currently live under the law of the new testament. The old testament is a historical record that predates the new testament.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            By the way, Kara, that does not make for a source for that translation. That is an apologetics website—not a version of the Bible. I'm well aware that most modern English translations use "murder" and clearly that was the intent of the passage, but then don't use "Thou shalt not"! You incorrectly were correcting my quote, that's what I was saying.

            It just perplexes me why you would think THIS is the easy way out. Perhaps this is what is according to Scripture, but it would be a lot easier to think like some of the other arguments present.

            And why did you sarcastically refer to yourself as radical? Rather, you don't really think so much different from how everyone else does (though you certainly do it quite well, and VERY maturely for your age).

            I had no intention of defending Scripture to you, only to answer regarding a very specific point. So why do you suddenly start hurling broad questions at me?

            Whoever is not against us is for us, Kara.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            *ambiguity

          • Argy-bargy

            So who’s supposed to be doing the “putting to death?” Yes, the Bible has a running theme that sin = death. Why single out these particular sins? I’m sorry, but you’re not making much sense. And, again, how do you determine what is intended to be metaphorical, anticipatory, or literal?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I'M not making sense!? It's you who seem to think that "metaphorical, anticipatory, or literal" are some sort of distinct categories of Biblical interpretation!

          • Argy-bargy

            Then tell me what IS the only category of Biblical interpretation? Or is there more than one?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            There are as many as you freaking want to classify stuff into.

            But I'm not going to let you pretend something if something is literal, its not metaphorical, and vice-versa.

          • Argy-bargy

            Uh…I'm not pretending anything. I'm trying to understand how one understands what is literal and what isn't. I've pointed out ambiguities in the translations. I've asked why there are clear linkages between certain sins and death, and more particularly, why is there any mention of death, when…well, we all die eventually, sinner or not.

            Kara has quite correctly pointed out that there are clear mandates to kill in the BIble. I'm just asking you what helps us understand the difference in interpretation?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Not so. God never dies. But every sin shall perish, its just a matter of time. Certain sins help even to bring nearer the mortality of the flesh. Are you uncomfotable with clear mandates to kill and so wish to have them explained away? Because I wasn't interested in getting into a discussion of *how* we interpret at present. I was just sticking with reading everything literally to the best of my ability.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            "Why single out these particular sins?"

            It’s laughable that you go and insinuate that I'm singling out anything particular when it was you who posed the question, to which I simply responded, just as it is you who here call it "sin"! That’s why it seemed not only wrong but hypocritical that you’d accuse me of making no sense.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            And if you think dieing is any different from being killed by something, then why do we speak of a persons having been created in reference to the fact that things happened such that they ended up being here? No visible hand need reach in a womans womb for angels to give form to a beautiful child. No hand need strike a man for him to be sticken with death, and such are the wages of sin, but man is not the payroll manager.

          • Argy-bargy

            So what does the payroll manager say about how to interpret all this? You haven't answered my questions.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            You didn’t ask any question in what I was responding to with that. And I did answer your initial questions regarding those passages of scripture.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            And about your last question, Jesus hasn’t told me how to go through the whole dang Bible with you.

          • Argy-bargy

            Who has, then?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            NO ONE HAS. You just asked asked about the Payroll Manager though. My point is that your asking a question WAY to broad for this forum.

    • Mel

      @A-b–Okay, so you might not get this post due to the million other comments above it, but here’s how I see it. I do not pick and choose parts of the Bible to agree with whenever it’s convenient for me. It was only in the old testament that homosexuals should be stoned/killed in some way. The same goes with lots of other sins. The difference between the old, and new testament is where we find the answer to your question. Jesus died for us. All of us. There is no need for any kind of blood shed anymore because Jesus was killed by death on a cross for everybody. That is why we no longer give sacrifices…because it is blood shed, and Jesus took care of that. It is also why, in answer to your question, Christians who disagree with homosexuality do not think they should be put to death. Again, it’s in the difference between the old, and new testament. In the old testament, it is said that many people should be put to death because of their sin. An example in the new testament however, would be when a woman who committed adultery was about to be stoned, and Jesus said “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”(John 8:7). I hope this helps.

      • Argy-bargy

        Mel, I’m not in the least suggesting that we should pick and choose parts of the Bible to agree with for convenience’s sake. If you think that’s what I and others have been getting at, then you haven’t understood, or wanted to understand what my (our) point is. I don’t think that choosing to believe that God does not consider homosexuality sinful is somehow “convenient.” Homosexuality, once again, for the upteenth time, is ably and amply attested to NOT be a choice or a convenience. It’s an immutable biological and neurological fact.

        I am struggling to understand that a LITERAL reading of the Bible (a) reveals that homosexuality is a sin, considering the numerous problems with translation and interpretation, and (b) that Jesus, by His substitutionary atonement, obviated the need to put gays to death for their gayness.

        More importantly, I’m struggling to understand why God would permit or even commission these practices for a considerable period of Jewish history, only to reverse Himself in such a fashion.

        I’m most troubled that so many people are so willing to accept the written word under these circumstances.

        • Mel

          Just to clarify, I wasn't saying that you, or anybody else picks and chooses what to believe in the Bible for convenience. In your original comment that I was addressing, I thought you were asking if that's what I (and people with the same beliefs as me) do. Sorry for the miscommunication on that.

          You say that you are "struggling to understand why God would permit or even commission these practices for a considerable period of Jewish history, only to reverse Himself in such a fashion." I just want to put in my two cents about this remark. He isn't reversing what He originally said. He isn't saying "well humans used to have to die for their sins, but now they don't". We still *deserve* to die for our sins, but we no longer need to be put to death because Jesus was, for us. It's not up to us to judge people. That was the point I was trying to make when quoting that Bible verse. None of us are without sin, therefore we cannot judge others. Jesus, however, is sinless, so He will be the judge.

          • Argy-bargy

            Thanks for the clarification. Well, then we were deserving to be put to death by our fellow humans for the sin of homosexuality up until Jesus died for us, is that right? And we would continue to deserve being killed for it if Jesus hadn't died for us?

          • Mel

            To be completely honest, I'm not sure. I haven't studied those laws with regards to the old testament enough to have an informed opinion. I'm not sure what God said about it back then, but without having any actual evidence, my *opinion* would be that we were not deserving to be put to death by our fellow humans. I don't think that's what God wanted. We deserved to die b/c of our sins, but that death should not have been forced by another human, in my opinion. But, again, I don't really have an answer to that. All I can say is how it is in the new testament.

    • Jeanine

      @A-b

      God is Holy. When a law is broken it requires punishment.

      God is also Love. So, he sent His son Jesus to pay that punishment on our behalf.

      The fact that Jesus paid the punishment, does not mean that the law does not exist, or that it was not broken; it just means the God loves the sinner and wants him to live in relationship with him. The stones were metaphorically thrown at Jesus on the cross.

      This is what I think it means when Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The law still exists; but the punishment has been paid. And since no person (but Christ) was ever able to keep the law; it is a fine thing what he did for us.

      That is why I do not like to boast about my sin. Because I know that evil men did not murder Jesus, but my sins were part of the nails that held him to that cross.

      Muslims do not believe in the atonement of Christ. But they do, through Abraham's son Ishmael, believe in the law of God. I think that is why they still stone people for sin in some areas of the world.

      The resurrection then, is a whole other great truth (but doesn't really pertain to your question).

      • Argy-bargy

        Jeanine, thank you for responding. What you are talking about is substitutionary or penal atonement, which is far from being the unanimous doctrine of Christianity. Personally, it is not my view. Many churches do not subscribe to this view, either.

        However, even assuming for a moment that to be true, it is pretty clear from the passages in Leviticus that God is commissioning if not commanding His followers to put gays to death. The passages do not appear to be figurative language (as in, all die who sin), nor does it place a death sentence on homosexuals but refrain from commanding to kill them, it appears to outright command to kill them.

        So, first, we have to consider why would God order such a thing?

        Second, we have to consider why would God have this be a command to His followers for approximately 1,100-1,500 years before Jesus died?

        These are very problematic verses. This is a very problematic issue, and I still haven't heard anything to explain why God would command such a thing in the first place other than it to be true, he wanted gays to die–to be killed by God's followers–before Jesus came into the world. An explanation that Jesus took away that need to kill gays presupposes that gays were supposed to be killed, according to the Bible, doesn't it?

        • Jeanine

          Yes I agree. All Christians don't believe in the atonement, but I think the 'more literal Biblical bent' that you were seeking comment from do believe in the atonement.

          I also think that the apostles taught this doctrine in the New Testament as did Jesus himself. And I think a thread has extended all through history (even the OT) of those who believe in the atonement.

          Taking the Bible to be a complete narrative of what we humans understand as Time (which I do) the atonement is portrayed in every book of the Bible in one way or another. Job cries out to God for a mediator. Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. The freeing of the Isrealites from bondage in Egypt. The OT sacrifices at the temple. The kinsman redeemer in Ruth. Etc. If I took some time, I could probably go through every book of the OT and point to the message of Christ there.

          So I really don't think that this is an obscure doctrine. I think it is the Whole Thing – the foundation so to speek. Everything else in the Christian life builds on the atonement.

          I know everyone here, that is 'in my opinion'.

          • Argy-bargy

            No, I didn't mean to suggest it was an obscure doctrine at all. Quite the opposite. It is just far from unanimous. I take the apostolic writings with a grain of salt, and there are other provisions in the Bible that are more ambiguous, too many to go into here. Jesus never explicitly endorsed that view, and we can argue about how to interpret His actual words as reported in the Gospels. I'm not too interested in trying to thrash out any issue on that.

            Still, the two key questions I pose in my last posting, what is your take on them?

        • Jeanine

          Man, my spelling is soooooooo bad. Can you do spell check on a blog? I must be making everyone's eyes bleed.

          • Argy-bargy

            Depending on your browser and toolbar, there are spell checkers you can use. Personally, I often forget to use them. :-)

        • Jeanine

          @ A-b 'So, first, we have to consider why would God order such a thing?'

          This is an awsome point and I have wrestled with it a lot. I'm not sure I have answers about it, but I do have thoughts about it.

          I always find it interesting that the ten commandments – or the written law of God did not exist in the time of Job or Noah or Abraham or Joseph. It really wasn't given until the children of Israel were led out into the desert. But when you look at the lives of the men prior to the ten commandments; they certainly understood the requirements of the law innately.

          Even though the punishment under the law was very harsh for murderers, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, and even rebellious children – there was also a lot of mercy written into it. There were temple sacrifices which enable the people to repent and be cleansed, there was the year of Jubilee, there was the mercy seat of Christ in the tabernacle; the goat which carried the sins away; etc.

          I also would love to have known what it was like for them. Because swift and firm punsihment is a huge deterrant for underirable behavior. If I know there is a cop up ahead, there is no doubt that I am driving the speed limit. So I think the Jews must have really stood out to the cultures around them as a peculiar people, because they didn't dare step outside the law.

          • Argy-bargy

            Well, I know where I come out at this point. I have considered it quite a bit.

            I believe that God gave me a conscience, a mind that may discern, reason as a tool. Given what I have seen and what I know about homosexuality, that it is not a choice but an immutable fact for gays and lesbians, I cannot reconcile that with a loving God who would choose–moreover, command–gays to be put to death for what they cannot control.

            If a loving God would not do this, then substitutionary atonement or not, it was not what God ordained, ab initio. Therefore, this provision (among others) are entirely abhorrent to me, because I believe they would be abhorrent to God, as I understand Him.

            This is not the only provision in the Bible that I have concluded the same for.

            But it has caused me to be HUGELY skeptical of ANY literal reading of the Bible. Several passages of the Bible that I MUST discount as being unsupportable does not render the entire Bible false. But, it is why I can never be a Biblical literalist. God makes me to seek out Him, not just words in a book.

            For me, I had to leave the church to find God. Although that is true for me…it is the path that I believe God is leading me on…I must also conclude that because my conclusions are supported by reason, some of this must be true for everyone. Although I find it abhorrent to impose any beliefs on a person who has free will to choose the right path (which makes everyone and anyone), it is why I will always strenuously oppose Biblical literalism. In its extreme form, I consider it to be bibliolatry, and we know how God feels about things that are placed before Him in the hierarchy.

          • Jeanine

            @ A-b 'it is why I will always strenuously oppose Biblical literalism. In its extreme form, I consider it to be bibliolatry'

            'In the beginning was the Word' I believe this. I think the Word of God is a very unique and special book. I do not worship the book; I worship the Divine author.

            I used to think about the Bible like you do; but when I came to know who Christ is personally; He changed my whole thinking about the book.

          • Argy-bargy

            And He has changed my whole thinking about it, too. So, which of us is right?

          • Jeanine

            Good question.

          • Jeanine

            @ A-b 'for what they cannot control.'

            I like this statement a lot. I think the message of the Bible is exactly this.

            None of us controls the hand we are dealt in life. And really, none of us can stop from sinning. Even when we manage to stop being selfish or gossiping or hurting others, there is still the enormouse matter of all of the good things we 'should' have done and didn't.

            Our condition as described in the Bible is 'dead'. That is why the resurrection is such an amazing promise. That through the atonement we are given the gift of 'new life' starting here and now and never ending. We are given the Holy Spirit who will teach us and empower us to be what we were created to be. Step by step.

            When Jesus resurrected Lazarus fromt he dead; he was giving us this picture of new life.

            Many people here hate this picture of ourselves. They prefer to believe that we are beautiful creations just the way we are. I hate the thought of remaining in this world with everyone never changing. I love the thought of allowing God to make me perfect in His good time, and I want to be activiely involved with Him in seeking it.

            I want to be so much different than I am now and I want to behave exactly the way I was created to behave.

          • Mindy

            Jeanine, you say: "They prefer to believe that we are beautiful creations just the way we are. I hate the thought of remaining in this world with everyone never changing."

            Why are those two things mutually exclusive? I *do* believe we are beautiful creations at our core, and I also believe that everyone changes, most for the better, as they age. Some with God, some without.

            Being a mom has taught me that I can tell my daughters they are perfect just the way they are AND help them understand the concept of striving to better themselves and make the most of the gifts they've been given. And they do, and they are. Neither as a Christian – but you'd be hard-pressed to find more compassionate, loving kids anywhere. I'm incredibly proud of them. I've taught them to listen to their inner voices, the one that tells them what is right and what is wrong. They've learned by being involved in wonderful, inclusive school communities what it means to take positive action when you care about others, how to show that you care about others.

            And Jesus never enters the picture. They know who Jesus is, of course. I've taught them that he was a great teacher, that some religions consider him a prophet, some consider him the actual son of God. I've taught them that I will support any religious exploration they want to do, because faith communities can be wonderful. They have Christian friends and family, Jewish friends and family, Muslim friends, agnostic and atheist friends. They learn from all of them.

            They continually grow into better versions of themselves – as do I, I think – and we do it because we are part of the human community. We'd like the footprints we leave behind to be positive. We'd like to be thought of with smiles. That's all.

          • Jeanine

            @Mindy 'I *do* believe we are beautiful creations at our core,'

            I believe this too because I bare the image of God as do you as do your children.

            But then there is evil. And something corrupts that beauty in the world. I don't know about you, but I have done some not so beautiful things.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          You have been completely unable to show how that passage orders anyone to execute them, yet you continue to assert that this is the case. And if it were so, why would it say that they *will* (surely) be put to death, when there is a very high likelihood that they will not be caught? It seems clear rather that the purpose of this passage was to discourage such behavior; it was rather the purpose of secular governance and ultimately the prerogative of God Almighty to meet out punishment.

          • Argy-bargy

            Hmm….I think I pointed out that alternative translations differ. Are they not valid? Seriously, if you can read and understand the original Ancient Hebrew and understand the words in their textual and social context, by all means do so. I can't, so I have to rely on the scholarship of others. If you can't, you are relying on one of various versions of the translated text?

            And now you're arguing that one interpretation is correct because of the likelihood of being caught at something? Who's trying to argue backwards from a conclusion that it means what you think it means and therefore reinterpreting the intentions or likely application?

            I think the ambiguity should give us pause. It doesn't give you pause? If not, that is a very scary thought. I think it's more important to find out if I should be killing somebody for something before I do it. Or believe God is ordering me to do it. Or merely warning vaguely that they will surely die.

            For the record, and I have, in my 40+ years on this mortal coil, never found anything conclusive to state otherwise: God does not believe homosexuality to be a sin. God did not order us to kill homosexuals or even state that they WILL surely be put to death. Those are not the words I believe God intended to be put down and attributed to Him.

            My understanding of God is that He would never say that. I understand that you believe differently. But first, consider what if you're wrong? You have condemned 10% of the population to be irredeemable sinners, because they ARE homosexuals and can't choose otherwise, even if they wanted to. And you've told them that, at least in terms of the Old Testament milieu, they will surely be put to death.

            I can't and won't live with that on my conscience, and I don't believe God wants me to. And I can't abide people who believe my fellow children of God, my brothers and sisters who are gay should be regarded as such or told that.

            I don't expect you to change your mind. But I was hoping in all of the myriad postings of Kara, Mindy, DR, and so many more, that it would change your heart.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            What is your problem, A-b!? We already when through this: ALL of the translations you mentioned have the same essential meaning! I asked you, WHAT ambiguity!?

            How DARE you accuse me of condemning homosexuality!?

            You don't read a darn thing but what you want to hear, do you?

          • Argy-bargy

            *Sigh.*

            I'd say that's exactly what you've been doing, dude. Clearly, we're having troubling communicating. If that's my fault, my apologies, but I've also been completely baffled by your responses yesterday and today. You're not making any sense to me. Maybe others feel differently.

            But I'm done. A terse and heated confrontation over this is not productive, in my opinion. And I've clearly not made an impression in the least.

            Peace.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            You still can back a thing you claimed, can you?

            “I’d say that’s exactly what you’ve been doing, dude.”

            Well, dude, where exactly have I EVER done *that*?

            What the hell are you talking about about changing my mind and heart?

            And now you pretend to be interested in peace while you are creating conflict with me over NOTHING (as you have no point against what I say other than to pretend I say what I EXPLICITLY deny)?

            Oh, you've made an impression alright.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            *can't back…

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

            Matthew –

            have you noted that several people on this forum need to exit conversation with you as a result of how angry you get? That has to suck for you. I guess for me, I'm interested if you see yourself playing any active role in that, or if it's everyone else's problem. It's a serious question as one Believer to another.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I don't think it sucks for me. In fact, it's not about me.

            Certainly, that I focus on grave issues that no one else is willing or able to is my playing an active role.

            Yet I'm not much feeling that feeling I understand as anger. (And I can only think of a few times I've actually stated what I'm truly *feeling*.) I do get tersely critical when I have not much time to waste in the face of trivial challenges (of which there are often plenty when I speak of things with very deep and, for many, novel ideas, which I give rarely of my own initiative but in an attempt to give a helpful response on something).

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

            I don’t think it sucks for me. In fact, it’s not about me.>>>

            So you admit to being tersely critical. You imply that only you are willing to focus on "grave roles" and no one else is. You just called other peoples' offerings "trivial". To date, about 5 people have refused to enter any more dialogue with you. And yet it's everyone else's problem? Whoa.

            Perhaps you just don't have the capacity to be self-reflective or it's too scary for you. But the fact that very reasonable, insightful, clearly intelligent people with more education and life experience than you have are refusing to engage you anymore is has nothing to do with you is so sad to me. I think it hurts this blog and John's efforts more than it helps it and I think we're all here because we support the particular Voice in the wilderness he's trying to offer.

            Alright, back to my regularly scheduled programming.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I did not say that others aren't. I said I bring in what others don't.

            I did not call what others have to offer "trivial". I referred to certain challenges being trivial.

            And I surely cannot name 5. Can you name 2?

            Also, I NEVER implied it is everyone else's problem. Perhaps you’ve misread something and ignored statements to the contrary?

            Really, who had more life experience? And who had broader education?

            Also, why do you find it a problem that I don't make it all about me?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            ("…that others aren't" referred to "willing to focus on 'grave roles'")

          • Matthew Tweedell

            (BTW, the Hebrew reads like a death chant, like Middle Easterners today might chant, "Death to the infidels," or something, but also as an incantation, cursing them that do this; it goes, "Abomination, abomination; die, die, die!" The word "die" here is, in fact, the same word as is used to refer to the punishment/curse for eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and is used far more often in reference to natural death than execution in the O.T.)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            (Wait—totally misunderstood it due to the awkward way in which it correspond to the NIV translation. More like "an abomination have done both to die dying guilty of the blood." The Septuagint however does have a more intuitively (to our understanding) curse-like or punitive reading: "may they die the death, they are guilt." Also, I should point out that what I referred to as natural causes are only presumably so.)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            *guilt –> guilty

      • Jeanine

        I think I might also say that God is the creator/designer. He made us for a purpose and He determines what that purpose is.

        When he tells a man not to be a murderer, he is saying that 'I did not make you for that purpose'. If you do that, it will hurt you and the others I have made; so don't do it.

        Just like in the garden; he said do not eat of that tree – you can have every tree but this one! Pretty great offer really; you can enjoy everything I have created, but do not touch this. I have not made you for this.

        That tree was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Right? To me this says that God did not make us to decide what is right and what is wrong. That is God's purposse, not ours. He did not make us to be the judge. The devil even tempted Eve saying 'you will be like God'. And I think God says that trying to determine right from wrong on your own is not what I made you for. Don't try to do that, it will kill you.

        That is why I stick to His Word, no matter how much other Christians hate that. I don't want to be out there picking and choosing what is right and wrong on my own. I was not made to do that. His Word says that we were not created to be adulterers and fornicators, so I believe Him. (And my own messed up life is testimony to the truth of that; because looking back I agree with God, I was not made for that).

        As far as stoning an adulterer; one of my coworkers tossed that in my face once. 'Good thing you weren't a Jew or you would have been stoned.' Maybe so. Or maybe the goodness of God could be seen to have prevented me from ever being an adulterer in the first place, for fear of stoning; thus living a much richer and blessed life.

        I don't know. Do those thoughts make any sense where I am coming from?

        • Argy-bargy

          They make sense, but I believe them to be dangerous. Although the example you give, murder, is easily and amply supported as something that is evil in any shape, manner, or form, and in fact God has explicitly commanded it not be done in the Decalogue, it isn't a good example. In short, it's a no-brainer. Homosexuality, a concept that a 5th century BC audience would not even know of, is far trickier. And equating the two is so dangerous as to be folly. To be cruel. Condemning murder is easy. Is it so easy to simply accept, in the light of overwhelming evidence in a world the GOD CREATED, that homosexuality is also deemed a sin in God's eyes? What if you're wrong? What evil have we allowed to transpire because we relied on mistranslated words or concepts?

          God has not given us a complete, fully detailed Manual on Life, the assertions of biblical literalists notwithstanding. He has given us certain over-arching, important principles to live our lives by. The essnetials. He has, essentially, told us to figure out how to make this work–not alone–but we make it work in His world. THAT is how we grow. Not by simply taking a CERTAIN reading, translation, or interpretation of the Bible at face value. We MUST weigh it in light of our consciences and reason. These were given by God. To be used.

          To do any less is an abdication of our intended purpose: to be moral agents.

          To paraphrase the 1st Century AD rabbi, Hillel: I don't want to stand in front of God and not be asked "why weren't you more like Christ?" but instead be asked "why weren't you more like yourself?" God made me this way. And I will be this way.

          The alternative is akin to puppetry.

          I will not do that. I don't believe it to be sinful willfulness on my part to use what God gave me. It doesn't mean I make up the rules, Jeanine. But a book, written by fallible humans, in languages almost no one can read anymore, set in a time and milieu which are almost entirely alien to us, cannot be explicitly relied upon to tell us all the rules, either.

          God wants us to progress. I don't believe He meant for us to remain stuck in a society that tolerated bigotry, sexism, slavery, death by disease and overwork at an early age, and rule by the sword. He guides us. But not only by the words of a book. He can reveal Himself to us in many ways. His revelation is not ended. Don't put God in a box. Or better said, confined by a book's pages.

          • Jeanine

            @A-b

            “why weren’t you more like Christ?” – assumes that we are justified by how good we are.

            “why weren’t you more like yourself?” – assumes that we need no justification for our lives and we are all good just the way we are.

            I don't think God will be asking us either of these questions. I think he will be asking us the same thing that Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" or in other words 'who is Jesus?'

          • Argy-bargy

            Obviously, that great rabbi didn't know for sure what we would be asked–neither would we. My only point is that if God made us for a particular purpose, with our own individual talents and experiences, I think He would want to know if we lived up to what His purpose for us was, which is to use those talents and experiences.

          • Jeanine

            That I agree with.

          • Jeanine

            @A-b 'The alternative is akin to puppetry.'

            I see what you mean by this; but there still is the whole matter of free will. I get to choose to believe the Bible – I am not forced to. I can also choose to ignore it. I can see it as interesting literature. I can burn it. I will not be struck by lightening or anything. Right?

            Somebody's choice 'not to' believe it can impact me. My choice 'to' believe can impact others. That goes both ways. What we believe always impacts others around us.

            But to me, this is the essence of what love is all about. God did not want to force an army of love robots. He gave us free will to choose, such that the Love is real Love. What do we choose to believe about Him? Do we want to Love the God that has been revealed through nature and the Word – or do we want to love a God of a character that we would like him to be?

            I know this points to the question of is God's Word actually God's Word. But for the sake of what I am saying, it is. I am aware that you don't think so.

            This is what idolotry is really. Shaping God into what we want Him to be rather than who He has said that He is.

          • Argy-bargy

            No, idolatry is putting something before or in place of God. I won't put the purported word of God in front of what He says He is to me. And I don't believe that all the words in that book are the actual words of God. And I think that's what He's told me to my heart.

            The free choice we have is not just to accept the entire book, lock, stock, and barrel, but an informed free choice exercised every single day that necessarily has to be independent of the literal words of a rule book.

            And yes, it has always come down to whether we accept that as His word. I can believe that some of it is. You probably believe that it all is.

            And that's where I think the dangerous part lies. The danger for me is that we take at face value something we shouldn't take at face value. The danger is not to use a God-given discernment to parse out His true will, not what someone's conception of it was anywhere from almost 2,000 to 3,000 years ago in a language I can't read, speaking to an audience and society that no longer exists.

            I know we're not going to agree on this. I think there are numerous things we can agree upon, especially that we are children of God, and that He wants the best for us. I'm glad we can disagree without the rancor.

          • Jeanine

            It is always nice talking to you, because you give me a lot to think about without blaming me for killing people.

          • Argy-bargy

            Thanks. Same.

            I know you didn't mean it this way, but I do share the blame for killing HIM.

            I always, always have imagined what it would have been like to meet Him. And then, that thought terrifies me, because I might have just rejected Him like so many did.

          • Jeanine

            @a-b ' He has given us certain over-arching, important principles to live our lives by. The essnetials. He has, essentially, told us to figure out how to make this work–not alone–but we make it work in His world. THAT is how we grow.'

            This is also an interesting statement inlight of the book I am reading. This is really what Bonhoeffer did all of his life. I find him so compelling of a figure.

          • Argy-bargy

            Yes, he was a remarkable man.

        • Mel

          @Jeanine–I really like that way of explaining it. The whole tree of good and evil showing us that God is saying we weren't made to decide what is wrong, and what is right. I've never heard it explained like that before, but I agree with what you said. Very cool.

          • Argy-bargy

            We weren't meant to decide what is wrong and right?? What are we meant to do??

          • Mel

            *we* aren't made to decide what is wrong and right, because we get it wrong all the time. God knows what's wrong, and what's right, so we should look to *His* word for the answers.

          • Argy-bargy

            Then we are puppets?

            No we're not.

            Well, we can't both be right. God help the one of us who's wrong….

          • Mel

            No, we aren't puppets. Because, God gave us free will. If we want to know what's right and wrong, we look to His word. But, it's our choice whether or not to follow it. So, we are not puppets.

          • Jeanine

            @ A-b 'Well, we can’t both be right. God help the one of us who’s wrong….'

            Your last comment is exactly why I think we all ought to be doing a lot more praying on this blog than arguing.

            Do we all really want to know what God thinks? Or do we all just want to win the argument and have our own way?

            But I won't do that, because I know it will be perceived as behaving piously.

            But essentially, by your comment, that is exactly what you want to have happen as well. We just want to know what is True with a capital T and we want everyone to testify to the same capital T.

          • Argy-bargy

            Yes, Jeanine, I think God weeps when we are so divided. But I don't think the answer lies in all accepting that book completely. The answer is not so clear or at least not so clear for EVERYBODY together.

            And that speaks to something more profound.

            Maybe we aren't expected to agree. Maybe the only way we can truly accept whatever the Truth is, is by working our way towards. it. All of us, together, believer and non-believer alike. I think the first step is not to accept things at face value. Not that it can't be true.

            But an untested faith is not a strong faith.

          • Mindy

            @Jeanine – I decide what is right and wrong every day of my life. I do it without referring to the Bible, and most days, I'd say I do a decent job of it.

            I don't need to know the Truth. I'm OK living in the mystery. I just don't want anyone else to tell me that they know the Truth and therefore I must live their version of it.

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

            @ Jeanine:

            "Do we all really want to know what God thinks? Or do we all just want to win the argument and have our own way?"

            Jeanine, you challenging us to adopt "What God thinks" is being received as "None of you really know what God thinks because it's not lining up to what I believe God thinks." And that's the way of these debates, I have that version of you too. We're all guilty of that.

            But I think the difference is that I'm pretty comfortable with stating that I might be wrong, I don't corner the market on what "God thinks" in any context. I have a lot of confidence in what I believe His nature is and how that plays out with the vulnerable of our society and what I should do, say and vote for as a result. But who knows, I might be wrong. But knowing Jesus and serving Him doesn't mean I'm right all the time about what He thinks.

            I've been in a place in my walk with Christ where I was terrified to be wrong. My life had been uncertain, filled with drama and shame and rejection. So me "knowing what God thinks" became my identity, it became my release from that former self.

            So when others wanted to debate theology, there was s no real room for a discussion on "What God really thinks" because I already had the answer. I just waited for other people to get on board, and my questions were leading questions. They weren't truly investigative in nature. And as I read you, I feel that same thing in a lot of your comments, though you have the last word on who you are. I might be projecting.

            I know you've lived a very difficult life with a lot of uncertainty, fear and shame. And when we discover the forgiveness of Jesus in the midst of that, we cling so hard to those experiences that some of the beliefs surrounding is are clung to just as fiercely. No one is asking you to let go of the forgiveness of Christ, or the Truth of the Holy Spirit. No one. We're just asking you to consider that perhaps, you may not have quite the firm lock on what "God's Truth" is in certain contexts.

          • Mindy

            DR, that is a beautiful response. Not nearly as judgmental and bitchy as I've been these last couple of days here. Thank you for putting it so kindly.

          • Argy-bargy

            @DR. This is just…amazing. Thank you. So well put. And…I'm sorry to say I'm looking in the mirror and seeing quite a bit of myself in that.

            I'm not THAT confident that I know what is right. I need to stop trying to come across that way, if I do. I think I know far better what I DON'T know and also what I don't think is true than what is.

          • Jeanine

            Yes, you are projecting.

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

            @ Jeanine:

            If I am projecting, why do you keep arguing with people on what "God's Word" says? Why would you infer that Kara doesn't know what "God's Word" says on homosexuality?

            Maybe I am projecting. Or maybe you aren't being as self-reflective as you could be. Have you considered that?

          • Jeanine

            @A-b

            I really do get a lot more out of talking with you, because you are not this wishy washy maybe something is true guy. I respect you a great deal for how you dialogue, and like I said, you give me a lot to think about.

          • Argy-bargy

            And, as I’ve pointed out in my response to Jeanine elsewhere, what we will fundamentally differ on is: what is His word? All of the words in that book? Without anything else to measure it by such as scholarship, learning, reason, experience, the examples of others, but most especially, what God might be whispering to us in our hearts?

            Maybe some things like murder are pretty clearly right or wrong. But few other things are. And the danger lies, I believe, in accepting the fatal fallacy of accepting something as “truth” at face value without weighing it in light of all the other things God gives us. THAT is being a puppet. And not a puppet of God but the puppet of a book. That is tragic.

          • Jeanine

            And I guess I agree with A-b somewhat. We do decide every day about right and wrong – but I guess I mean independantly of Him and his Word.

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

            None of us experience God's Word independently. It's always through a filter of what we need it to say.

          • Jeanine

            Wow. That is a very interesting comment.

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

            Meaning, all of us use some kind of authority to help us interpret what the Word of God says. And we all choose that authority.

            Secondly, I think the experience of salvation is so *intimate*, that the Holy Spirit through the grace of Jesus is working through our innermost being in ways of which we aren't even aware.

            What I don't intend to say or believe is that Jesus is different for each person. I think the ravages of sin are so complete, that we're shattered as human beings and as a world – even as a Church – in a gazillion pieces, so many we couldn't even begin to mend them on our own. I think the Word of God is our glue, both individually and collectively, but we'll continue to view it through that shattered glass as we're mending.

          • Jeanine

            In Matthew 10:34, Jesus said this:

            "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword."

            Jesus knew that the Gospel message would divide mankind. In a way, all of the division over His Word actually confirms that it is true.

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            @DR

            Ding ding ding ding ding!

            YOU win the gold star today.

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

            Does that mean someone can finish my performance reviews. Because, ugh. ;)

          • Jeanine

            2 Timothy 2:15

            Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

            Eph 6:17

            And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

            Hebrews 4:12

            For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

            You see it is the Holy Spirit that helps us to 'rightly divide' the Word of God – not our own filter of what we 'need' to hear. This verse says that they way the Spirit works is as a sword as you read the Word of God.

            What does it say the sword (again the Word of God) divides? It divides soul and spirit. The soul is our emotions and our feelings. The spirit is the spirit we are born of in Christ – the Spirit of Truth.

            So the Word, as used by the Holy Spirit, seperates our own thoughts and emotions from God's Truth.

            And feel free to go back and read them in context – I did not pull them out and use them eroniously. Or maybe these are some of those Bible verses that you do not believe or that we interpret differently. Something like that.

  • Argy-bargy

    OK, anyone want to take a try at this, then?

    • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

      haha, Argy… just a minute whilst I find my 10-foot pole.

  • Tim

    Good post, John. As always, your writing squeezes out the pus of truth from the zit that is life. Ewww…thanks.

    I've always kind of thought that homosexuality is so easy to hate, because a good number of us, during pre and post pubescence, have entertained some thoughts that maybe we could possibly be "that way". Freud referred to it as latent homosexuality.

    A 1996 study at the University of Georgia came to the conclusion that a larger percentage of male test subjects identified as homophobic, were shown to have a higher response of sexual arousal when exposed to gay porn. They determined these results using penile plethysmography. That's science jargon for boner detector. I had noticed how at least three prominent pastors I'd heard of, with personal "crusades" against homosexuality, were eventually found out to be closeted homosexuals themselves. The same seems to hold true with quite a few politicians with a zero tolerance for gay. The old "familiarity breeds contempt" adage rings true all too often. Or how did it go in Hamlet? "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

    • Ace

      It's just a vicious cycle of self-hate that leads to hatred of others which causes those others to hate themselves which causes them to hate others which causes those people to hate themselves which causes…

      I think my brain just broke somewhere. O.o;

      Why can't we all just get along, says my inner Pollyanna.

      • Tim

        The Vicious Cycle. The devil's bike.

        I can't speak for you, Ace, baby… but my inner Pollyanna too easily reverts to a treacherous vindictive bitch if her altruism is rejected and gets kicked in the coochie. Ugh!

        • Ace

          Yea, it just kinda drives you nuts, doesn't it?

          Don't suppose you've ever read a comic book called "Watchmen" (not that horrible hack-job of a film they made off it last year). There's an insane masked-vigilante character called Rorschach who completely goes off the deep end after investigating a kidnapping case where the victim (a 6 year old girl) ended up being killed and fed to dogs by the kidnapper after he realized he wasn't going to get a ransom for her. Rorschach explains his reaction to this incident to a prison shrink after getting arrested for his illegal vigilante activities years later:

          "This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us."

          On my most cynical days I can kind of relate a little bit (which is scary). :C

    • A'isha

      "your writing squeezes out the pus of truth from the zit that is life."

      Gross!!! But so accurate. Love your choice of words. :)

      • Tim

        Actually i'm regretting my choice. Pus is infection…waste. Hardly representative of truth. Maybe, "the pus of perplexity from the pimple of precision"…please pardon the profuse proliferation of assinine alliteration.

        • Mindy

          Tim, you are on a roll, buddy!

    • Susan

      ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

  • Diana A.

    Just subscribing to the post since I forgot to do it in my comment :-(.

  • denver

    I could not admit to myself until I was 29 that I was gay.

    And before any of you “it’s all about sex” types start, um, no, it’s not. At all. I am nonsexual – AND gay. I have never felt compelled to have anyone’s appendages inserted into any of my orifices, or vice versa, no matter what gender the potential other person might be. I have never made love to anyone, ever, of either gender. It is not at all about sex, at least for me. It is about what I know to be my true self. It is about when a man hits on me I want to retch, but when a beautiful woman does it, I feel happy and elated. It is about me finding the sight of the male body repulsive, but the female body beautiful. It’s about being able to connect with women in a way far different than I ever have with men. It’s about love, or the potential for love. It’s about trust. It’s about attraction. It’s about who I am. It is not about reproductive parts, or any actions done with said parts.

    That being said, when I was younger I came up with just about every excuse for “what I was” that I could think of except for being gay. I was far “too Christian” to come out to myself for most of my life. At first I thought I was a late bloomer – then I thought because I was devout in my faith, I was free from the temptation to have sex – then I thought I was a freak of nature – then, when I first heard the term “asexual” (though I prefer nonsexual, as asexual implies being able to reproduce all by yourself), I thought aha, that’s why I am repelled by men – then a woman flirted with me. All the times I had ever teased a boy-crazy friend for turning into a bashful giggling idiot around them kicked me in the pants and went right out the window. I couldn’t deny anymore that I was attracted to women, though I did try, for another couple of years. Because I just couldn’t be gay! I had lived all my life as one identity, and that was, as an old acquaintance used to call me, “the innocent Catholic schoolgirl”! Innocent Catholic schoolgirls weren’t gay!

    I had to leave the church in order to be able to admit to myself that I was gay. I could not have done it in the place that I was before. When I was 18 I attempted suicide – again, I would not have identified myself as gay at that point; in fact, I was trying oh-so-hard to make myself attracted to a nice boy who was rather courting me. I *tried* – but the first time he kissed me, I literally burst into tears. I had to convince him for weeks that I didn’t hate him. I wanted to like him like that – he was nice, and paid attention to me, which normally people didn’t do. But I just couldn’t. I hated myself at that point in my life so much – I considered myself a failure, and yes, part of it was that I couldn’t just be like everyone else and want to do things I knew most people wanted; that I would never be able to get married and have children. I still just could not see the forest for the trees though and realize that it was because I was a lesbian that I did not want to do these things with a man. I couldn’t force myself to be something I wasn’t any more than I could admit to myself what I was.

    When I was 29, and I had been actively volunteering with gay rights groups for a while at that point – STILL not identifying as gay – I had an epiphany, that OH – that was why I related so much to these people and these groups – because I had finally found people who were like me!! I was so excited! I was on clouds! I wanted to shout from the rooftops with joy, because I had finally accepted what I was! It was the most life-affirming moment I have ever had, and the most self-love I have ever experienced. I had never felt that comfortable in my own skin, ever. It made me so happy to be able to say, “I’m a lesbian.”

    Only now that I have accepted and learned to love that part of myself, have I been able to turn back to Christ and contemplate Christianity, without becoming angry, sad, and defensive. At one point in my life I was seriously considering vocation, and Christianity to me had become over the years the embodiment of hate and bigotry, causing a revulsion as strong as any leering pervert man on the streets ever had in my soul. I had to step away from the messages I was hearing over and over ad nauseum to a) accept that that thing everyone was reviling so much was not such a horrible thing and I could be that without being evil, and b) once I had made peace with that in my heart, to have the strength to face those hateful messages without it tainting all of Christianity along with it.

    I am a much stronger person now, and I thank God that I am the way that I am, and not just another person who has it easy being just like everyone else and accepted and normal and not challenged by what they are. It took me 29 years, but I finally passed the test, and I am grateful that I was given the chance to take it. Normal, majority, insider people will never know what they do to people on the outside. Just as I will never know what it’s like to be black in America (I’m European + Micmaq), straight people will never know what it’s like to be gay in America. This was a challenge I needed to take on in this life, and I am a better person for it. And guess what? I don’t think I’m so horrible, after all.

    On a side note, I had never – even in my uber-xtian days – hated gay people. Quite the contrary. However, once as a teen the teacher that ran our bible study announced that we were going to write letters to a local gay group telling them how gayness was a sin. I was frozen. I didn’t know how to say that I didn’t want to do that without having the whole bible club turn on me, which scared the ever-loving snot out of me. I have never been good at debate; I would have very quickly been shouted down, as it were, and put in my place. So I meekly went along. I tried to write the most non-hateful-but-still-what-the-teacher-wanted letter I could, and it basically said, it’s not the gayness that’s a sin, because love is good, it’s the sex that’s a sin, so maybe you could be like priests and nuns and be celibate? The teacher praised me on what a well-written, thoughtful letter I had composed. I was ashamed of myself for it. I can only hope that the recipients of that packet of letters tossed them in a roaring fireplace and didn’t read them, and that they forgive the peer-pressured student who didn’t stand up for her beliefs because she was scared of being ostracized by her fellow Christians.

    On a second side note, since exploring (I’m still exploring) where Christianity fits into my life now, I have made some Facebook friends (some better than others) who I would have avoided before due to their professed, hard-core Christianity. When one of them did something that made me angry (basically, she disrespected me when I told her I was gay), I posted this message to my notes, which I feel compelled to share:

    To all my Christian friends: I am a lesbian. Gay. Homosexual. *Being* gay is not a sin. I know what the bible says. I have read the same book you have. Cover to cover even. It’s the sex that the bible condemns, which it condemns for straight people, too, unless you are married and trying to make babies. And I know a lot of you have sex, without being married and trying to make a baby. I don’t. Completely chaste. Always have been. That happens to be one sin that does not tempt me in the slightest, and for that I am grateful. But I do not delete any post you make that alludes to the fact that you have sex, join facebook groups that kvetch about how the bible condemns you, or whatever. You know why? Because I don’t care! It is not my business to point fingers at you. I am not the one painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. So quit pointing fingers at me as though I have horns sticking out of my head. If you can’t stand being around me because I am gay, or think I am going to give you gay cooties, or think that your friends will judge you if you *gasp* are facebook friends with a gay person, or think I am worthless, well then de-friend me. Because I am done with all the hateful messages and acts that I have seen lately. Take me or leave me, but put your finger back in its holster please. And if you think the bible condemns me just for existing as God made me, then defriend me. Because we’re all sinners, kids, and if you think you are better than me then you are not reading the same bible I did. I do not need more abuse in my life than I’ve already had. If reading this makes you want to quote Leviticus at me, just defriend me. You are not being righteous by telling people what horrible human beings they are just for existing. You are not converting anybody by telling them they are worthless and unsavable. I am not perfect. I freely admit that. I have a long way to go. But so do you. So save your breath, because I don’t want to hear your hateful rhetoric anymore. If you disagree with me, fine. If you can’t help but give me a hard time about it, defriend my a**. Because I decided quite some time ago that I need not surround myself with people that make me cry anymore. Thank you.

    • Marie

      YOU ARE AWESOME!!!! I am clapping my hands with the most amazing tears in my eyes right now!! THANK YOU, Denver. Thank you. Man, I wish there were some way to post this on a billboard. Hundreds of 'em.

      Please. PLEASE, keep telling this story. Keep sharing this message. PLEASE. Please be around young people who need to learn what you have to teach them through your trailblazing. Spare them the years of doubt and fear and isolation. Share this and you will add to the quality of SO many lives. You have already added to mine. I can't wait for my kids to come home from school. I will share this with them. They are 9, 13 and 15 and they are being raised to drown out the NO with their YES in this world. Thank you for sharing this. To read it is a gift. Namaste.

      • denver

        Wow, thank you, Marie, Mindy, and Chellee! I wasn't even sure that anyone would read that whole post, as it was rather long. I really appreciate your kind words, they mean a lot to me!

        And Marie, that was really the first time I have fit that whole story together into one comprehensive narrative. When I came out to my friends, the reaction either was "Well I could have told you you were gay years ago!" or "So?" (the one xtian friend's response was "I'm disappointed", like I was a naughty child, but we won't get into that). In either case, I never really was pressed to share my narrative in how I came about to realize and accept myself. Thank you for supporting me in this! :)

        • Marie

          I mean it, THANK YOU for deciding – today, in this way – to share what you just shared. IT is so important, I don't even know if you realize it. It's like when a person rings a bell with absolutely no idea how far that sound made it to the next set of ears. This was/is a most necessary ringing of the bell. BIG HUGE THANKS to John, as well, for such wise and poignant work which draws in so many eyes and ears. It's because of folks like you and John and Mindy and Chellee and so many more here that I can turn to my children with confidence and, even JOY, in my heart and say, "Here. Look HERE! Do you feel that? NOW do you understand?" I wish you could truly know how what you shared is such a gift to folks – especially young, "still not sure about anything" folks. It is a very bright, safe light you just shined through a very dark room for a lot of people. Thank you!! ♥

        • http://none Don Rappe

          I think such sharing means much more to us than long winded arguments. I keep hearing over in my thoughts "we are fearfully and wonderfully made'.

      • Mindy

        Marie, my daughters are 12 and 15 and are being raised the same way. Treat everyone you meet with kindness, love and compassion – make no judgments based on preconceptions. Give everyone the same chance to prove themselves worthy of your friendship as you would hope everyone would give you. BE NICE. But be more than nice. And when someone is hurting, be the comfort that helps them through it.

        • Marie

          I am so happy to hear/read this, Mindy. Oh my goodness, I am discovering that these respective ages can be so easy AND so very difficult to navigate with them. Easy because their reasoning abilities are only so much better than when they were just a few years younger, finally giving me some ease in our communication. But harder because NOW they are being tested by society. And “their” society is “their peers” (who usually have more pull than us “old, stupid people”) PLUS they are up against “how their peers are being raised” – and that latter part there, I’m talking about how a lot of these young ones are being conditioned to carry on the fears of their parents; the classism, racism, the slew of prejudices….

          It’s one thing for my spouse to come home, furious, that he had to throw his lunch angrily in the trash to quickly vacate a lunch room echoing of racial slurs, gay bashing, snobbish retorts about poverty, etc…. (he has since DUMPED that employer). But it’s a whoooole ‘nother fragile, breath-taking, heart wrenching issue to greet my son at the door with tears in his eyes because “…..they told so-and-so he was going to hell, Mom. They told him he was dirty and nasty and that he better stay the hell away from them, Mom.” or “Mom, we can’t skate at that [neighboring town] skate park anymore because we’re from [our neighborhood]….” It’s bad enough that it makes ME furious and I have to watch myself, but ohhhh the temper and confusion of the teenager. Before we can even talk it out, I have to help these adolescents wrestle and slay the dragon of unrestrained fury. I don’t remember having the spine these kids have now. I don’t remember giving myself permission to be angry. When I was a teenager, such exposure to hatred only made me feel vulnerable and physically ill. I WISH I knew to be angry about it! It would have done away with my feeling so weak.

          I’m glad to know you, Mindy! Thank you, great mom!

    • Mindy

      Denver! What an incredibly life-affirming, beautiful story. You are amazing in your strength – like Kara, you have my admiration. Cool.

    • Kara

      Denver! Hi!

      I don’t generally bring it up at places like this blog (I dunno why, really), but I’m also on the asexual/nonsexual spectrum. Generally I term it as gray-asexual, to use a term from AVEN. (Do you know AVEN? I try not to assume everyone who isn’t sexual does.)

      This is another thing that’s hard for me, is getting people to not invalidate my right to label myself. I usually get “If you’re asexual you’re not really gay” more than I get “If you’re gay you’re not really asexual,” but I’ve gotten both.

      My primary identity, in terms of orientation, is as a lesbian, but only because that has much greater public repercussions for me.

      Sorry for my babbling. It’s just really nice to have another homoromantic asexuality-spectrum person commenting on the blog. Rock on.

      • denver

        Hi Kara!

        Yay, rock on, indeed… I’m used to being the strange duck in the pond on the nonsexual front. Asexual lesbians of the world, unite! ;) Usually I get the same, “you’re not really gay if you don’t want to have sex with them!” But as I already covered, it’s NOT ABOUT SEX. For the love of Pete. Do straight sexed people look at the opposite sex and can think of nothing more than sex? Forget personality, love, their eyes, their hair, whatever, just sex all the time? Really? I doubt it. It is really frustrating that me being a lesbian “doesn’t count” in some people’s minds if I’m not sexed. Or they think I’m “confused” or could romantically love a man since there would be no sex, or something. Why do people always seem to think they know better what you are than yourself? As though they have spent the same time you have figuring it out and know how you feel and the truth of the matter. No, all they are doing is running you through their filters of comprehension, and they just don’t understand certain things that they don’t have a personal label for. It’s sad, really.

        You weren’t babbling at all! I’m the one that wrote a comment that was probably longer than John’s original post. ;)

        And I think I heard of AVEN years ago but it’s been so long since I’ve looked them up. I just found their website now and will look into them some more. :)

    • Susan

      @ Denver,

      I’ve debated whether to post a comment to you or not, because, I don’t know how to express my sorrow for what “has been” in your life and my joy for where you are now. I’m grateful that you’ve shared your experience, and that you are a part of John’s blog.

      Words are failing me, but I felt like it was important to let you know that there are lots of people here, like me, who support you and want to yell “brava!” for coming out, accepting yourself, sharing your story and pursuing a new understanding of Christ’s grace.

      :-)

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

    *Amazed at teenagers that are more mature than I was in my 20s, and probably more mature than I am still at 31*

    And, Mel is saying insensitive things and folks want to believe she's a troll, but I don't know – I remember saying stuff online only like 6 years ago that were nearly as insensitive. I don't recall ever getting into suicide topics, but let me see if I can remember some of the stupid crap I've said…

    To preface, I participate in the odd internet subculture known as "fandom" – particuarly creative fandom. I do fan art and write fan fiction for things I like that I do not own copyright to (but only for things where the creators do not care. I tend to gravitate toward things with Japanese origins and in Japan, fanstuff is considered flattery rather than something to send the lawyers on). Fandom – gets to very strange places sometimes. It (particularly the fan fiction side of it) has an undeserved reputation for being "all about sex." Personally, I like to write "gen" stories (no sex, little if any romance), which puts me in a minority. It's what I like to do when I'm not writing something original/real novels and whatnot. I may have to give up fan work if I actually get any of my "real work" published. Anyway…

    There was a time years ago when I was at a disscussion and fanfiction writing online community for an anime (Japanese animated series) and its associated comic I was a fan of and the community had many fans of "slash" or ("yaoi" as it's put in the Japanese) – that is "fan art and fan fiction of male on male sex/romance." This was also when I was *deeply* Southern Baptist and wholeheratedly believed "gay was sin." Normally, I'd leave well enough alone, but a "friend" (I use that term loosely because she didn't stay a friend) of mine was really badgering me about yaoi – how I just *had* to read yaoi and had to obessed with it as much as she was (when I wasn't and tried to make that clear to her).

    I started attacking the yaoi fics on the community for being out of character. Unfortunately, I remember saying stuff such as:

    "The (main character) is too PURE for yaoi!"

    and

    "I don't mind yaoi for the villains – because it would be a part of their villany!"

    (Stings even more considering the villains that I'm talking about weren't ligth villains – they were genocidal maniacs).

    And I remember at other communties being "against gay marriage because I don't think it's right to encourage sin."

    I'VE CHANGED A LOT. The point being – yeah, I used to be genuinely stupid – encouraged by my church (who were actually good people, they just wanted to "believe right" you know, be true to the Bible… and it was the country, and Arizona…. people genuinely believing that "gay was rebelilng against the way God made your body"…. ignorance).

    And I totally apologize for it all – all I said back then. I think there is some truth to be said about people looking for others to feel "above" to deflect from their own problems.

    Now, for the record, this anime/comic I like…. I *still* think the m/m pairings were out of character for the most popular pair and the protagonist, but not beause of homophobia anymore – just straight up "He flirts with girls in the series – incorrigbly and we've never seen him go for guys." And, strangely enough one of the most prominent slash/yaoi fancomic artists in the fandom considered said main character "too pure" for sex of any kind. Still, it's kind of weird how this fandom brought things out in me and made me face them, I guess.

    • Kara

      Let me show you my thoughts on yaoi!

      (Another long-term fandom participant here, though more in the sci-fi scene than the anime one. Always nice to see fellow fen in unrelated areas of the net.)

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

        Oh, crap, you know the meme.

        … if you know what "Fandom Wank" is… yes, same Shadsie, and I'M SOOOOORRY. Really. The people there don't believe me, but I'm leaving them alone now, so they can think whatever crap about me they want. If I'm still the scum of the earth and should drop dead to them – that's their problem, not mine.

        Yeah, I like anime. I'm somewhat into videogame fandom, too – mostly, around 2008, I got obessed with the Legend of Zelda and that's where I've been ever since. I even got one of my fan fictions (a co-write with a friend) on the Recommends at TVTropes (if you know that wiki). It's quite an honor.

        • Kara

          Ah! I didn't recognize you, sorry! (I still would have made the joke, perhaps, but not up front and with no context like I did.)

          We're cool. And if F_W doesn't forget or forgive, it's because they're a bunch of jerks who have nothing better to do than rip on other people. Personally, I'm happy to see you here, happy to see you're still involved in fandom, and happy that your position on slash has evolved with time.

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

            I still don't write slash – but that's just because I don't have an interest in it. I don't care if other people write it. As I've said, I'm mostly into the gen stuff. I like *some* het, but I've never been into the porny stuff.

            It's like… I'm pretty much aesexual – I'm a heterosexual-leaning aesexual, so I have "some relation" to het, but am not heavily into it, and *no* relation to slash, so I shouldn't be expected to be into it just to be "fandom politically correct."

          • Kara

            Oh, no. I didn't mean you had to read or write slash. Just that your position on it seems to have evolved, insofar as it doesn't seem to be something that you would restrict to villains or other "bad" characters anymore.

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

            In one of my recent / latest fandom fics, I did arbitrarily make one of the good guy characters gay just because I thought it would be cute for the story. (Arbitarily because he's a character whom I don't think even has a canon sexuality). Character was a nerd-type, more interested in the study of mythical beings than anything else…

            A lot of LoZ characters essentially boil down to "whatever you want them to be" which is why I like the fandom a lot – you can do a lot with the characters and no one can definitively tell you that you're "wrong."

            Shipwars do happen, mostly in het circles. I stay out of them. I like certain pairings, but don't care enough to be "loyal" to any.

        • Ace

          Bwahahah, fandom_wank. I love that place. Such wretched hive of scum and villainy and cat macros…

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

            I kinda think F_W is evil – of course, I have been victimized by them, so that's pretty much why – so it can just be "whining" on my part. I won't say I didn't deserve to be knocked around, but honestly, they *did not help me* and made things worse. For cat macroes, I stick to icanhazcheezburger – all the fun of captioned cat pictures, wank-free.

          • Ace

            They're pretty remorseless, but in their defense, some of the stuff the re-post is fairly mock-worthy. I generally only participate as spectator regardless.

            Sometimes they do go over the line, and break their own rules about not contacting the wankee, about not getting involved, so in that way they're kind of a load of hypocrites.

            But if you hang around internet fandom circles long enough, you or someone you know WILL end up on F_W eventually (even I've gotten my knocks), it's just kind of one of those unspoken rules of the intarwebs.

            I would definitely NOT take anything those nuts say to heart though, because they pretty much are lunatics. I'm sorry if you got roughed up though.

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

            I did post above some of the horrible things I said that got folks over the a' hatin' me – totally deserved it, but, at the same time, I probably became more "entrenched" in my way of thinking for a while because of it. The whole "The sinful world is out to get me" stuff. It definitely took thinking on my own and gentler words and measures to open my mind.

            Mock and berate me endlessly, even if I *am* being stupid, I'll back into a corner and hiss and spit. It's not like they aren't entitled to it, it's just they should know exactly what they're doing – not helping or bettering the fandom world at all, just mocking and making things worse in some cases. To their credit, I do think they know and revel in it.

            Hope this doesn't get on there, just shaked those people off, but if it does, it's not like I go there anymore. I broke off looking in on them.

            The *main* part of what happened to me happened like… 5-6 years ago, the attention I got was largely the result of a *really* unfortunate friendship I had at the time (thankfully lost contact with my "frienemy" long ago – I pray for her soul but truly hope I never meet her again in this life). And most of what happened was the result of some in-fighting in a small corner of fandom – involving community administrators that happened to be F_W members.

            I have a penchant for being overdramatic, so I was a bit fat target. I brought it on myself, it's over, moving on.

  • http://whatsleftinthechurch.blogspot.com Geoffrey

    These words are so spot on, John, it’s almost unbelievable. It is one thing to sit around and talk about whether or not there is compatibility between being gay and being Christian. It is another thing to realize that there are people out there who hear and read our words and have their lives effected by them. We have a great responsibility, not to the truth, but to God and our neighbor, to live in love toward all. In this post, you remind us all what happens when we forget that.

  • Kara

    I find this song to be relevant.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uE1l75aiZc

    • Mindy

      Here's another song along these lines that I LOVE by David Wilcox, one of my very favorite artists ever:

      http://www.davidwilcox.com/index.php?page=songs&a

      • Mindy

        Just as a point of fact, David Wilcox is a Christian.

      • Marie

        Wow. Thanks for posting this, Mindy. It's incredible. Totally resonates. Eerily spot on for me. I love it!!

    • Marie

      So do I. Thank you, Kara. Holy WOW. Thank you.

  • Mel

    I would just like to say that this post is ridiculous. I’ve already had a discussion about it on the other post, but I wanted to state my opinion here, where it is directly relevant. SOME Christians are part of the problem with respects to homosexuals committing suicide. SOME Christians are cruel, and hateful, and make people feel like they shouldn’t be alive. However, SOME non-Christians do the same thing. It isn’t something that you can say ONLY Christians do. And it isn’t something you can say ALL Christians do. The fact that I believe homosexuality is a sin, does NOT, in any way, mean that “their blood is on my hands”, as some people put it. First of all, *they* decided to kill themselves. Sure, some people might have helped out with them feeling the way they do, but the suicide is nobody’s fault but their own. They made the choice, and only they are to blame. As to what got them in such a lowly state, definitely, others could have contributed. So, that leads me to my “second of all”. Homosexuals can get upset about the fact that some people are horrible to them, and make them feel like they are worthless. Nobody should EVER make somebody feel like that. However, my simple belief is not what makes the feel that way. Just like I believe murdering is a sin, and yet if a murderer killed him/herself, their blood would not be on my hands. Similarly, I believe lying is a sin, and again, a liar who commits suicide…their blood is also not on my hands. Like Jeanine said, abortion is another example. The blood of those babies cannot be put on those who believe premarital sex to be a sin. The blood in all these cases, is on the person who did it. The person who killed their baby, or the person who committed suicide. To say that by having a belief, you are contributing to people committing suicide is just about as ignorant as it gets.

    ps-This comment was about this post in general. It was not directed at John, because as some of you know, he has asked me not to direct comments at him. I just wanted to clarify so that there wouldn’t be a misunderstanding.

    • Mel

      and after re-reading Jeanine's comment I see that I totally read it wrong the first time. So, just take out the "like Jeanine said".

      • Mindy

        Mel, if you've actually read the comments here, especially the comments from Kara and Denver, and still have the nerve to post that, I can't think of a single word to say to you. You should be ashamed.

    • Kara

      Just like I believe murdering is a sin, and yet if a murderer killed him/herself, their blood would not be on my hands.

      …the hell, Mel? Why would you even think that's a remotely okay thing to say?

      I've very consciously avoided doing anything that you might perceive as name-calling, up until now. But if you believe this, then I think you may be one of the more callous, insensitive, willfully-ignorant people I've ever interacted with.

      I cannot fathom that you've read the comments to this post and still feel this way. And unlike others here, I'm not going to give you a pass because of your age. You're older than I am, and this is absolutely ridiculous. I don't want more apologies that you just give so you can feel better about yourself, and I definitely don't want to hear about how I'm being mean to you. You're just wrong, and you absolutely refuse to listen to anyone who tries to show you even a glimpse of reality.

      It sucks to find out I've wasted my time. But it stops here.

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

        Oh and one more thing. The brain on you – the ability to perceive the world and articulate it in the ways you do – at your age (sorry), is remarkable. I want to hire you!

        • Kara

          D’aww. Thanks. I’ve been blessed with a passion for knowledge and learning, two wonderful teachers in the form of my parents, and the privilege of attending several great institutions of higher learning.

          (I just hope my professors see my arguments like you do!)

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

            Wait. Maybe I should work for you.

            I don’t mean this lightly when I say that I work with some of the most remarkable writers and designers in the world and you rival them. What are you studying? I know your passion is the Air Force, but I could see you being a remarkable journalist. At 17, you’re more articulate and succinct than most of the 30 year olds I work with.

          • Kara

            I'm doing a double major in Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies, with a minor in Religious Studies. I'm currently planning to apply to law school and divinity school next fall.

            I really appreciate the kind words from you and Mindy both. It means a lot.

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

            It makes me giddy that you are going to law school. !!!

          • Kara

            *grins* It's what I'd love to do for the Air Force. I've wanted to be a JAG since I was fourteen or fifteen.

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

            We'll get there in this next decade if not sooner.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I don't usually think it appropriate to judge people, but Kara, YOU ROCK!!! :-D

          • Mindy

            I have a graduate degree in Communication and journalism, and I fully concur, Kara. I taught freshmen in college when I was in grad school – and NONE of them came close to arguing a point as eloquently and beautifully as you do. Truly, you have a gift.

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

        Kara,

        I really think “Mel” is a character someone has created to provoke and incite this conversation. She can’t be real.

        Regardless, this makes me sick to my stomach that you’ve actually been exposed to this, even though it’s a joke.

        • Kara

          In what’s a bizarre statement for me to make? I’m not that optimistic.

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

            I want to live in my denial for another few minutes. I read that and it felt like an electrical shock. And I’m not even gay.

            Let’s talk about how you’re going to come and work for me because you are AWESOME!

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

            Damn – when I saw this comment go up I seriously hoped no-one would reply to it.

            It is just so completely over-the-top grotesque that I was sure it was a wild bid for attention.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      Mel?

      I am beginning to suspect that you are a brilliant troll. There is no one who has even a shred of decency who would post this in any serious manner. Not even the biggest homophobe on the planet would come onto a thread about suicide – suicide committed by children – and call it ridiculous.

      If so? Well done. Seriously. I've seen some good trolling and this has definitely taken the cake.

      I will be honest, I kind of need to believe that you are a troll because imagining for one moment that you are real, that you are actually claiming you are a "Christian" is physically repugnant to me. I have an actual, nauseous reaction to this comment, it sends me into total despair.

      • Mindy

        I hope to God you are right, DR. I read that last comment of hers and sat here with my mouth agape. I don’t give a tinker’s damn if she still believes it to be a sin – which I find hard to believe after the testimony written here, but I know many still will. What I can’t believe is that she had the unmitigated gall to call the post ridiculous when it is factually, unarguably correct.

        If she is representing herself as she truly is, I can honestly say that I have never met anyone so repugnantly, unfeelingly, unthinkingly, obstinately thick-headed in all my life.

        Wow.

        • Argy-bargy

          Well, I've found, and my experiences on this blog are confirmation, that most who subscribe to a literal interpretation of the Bible, and believe in its inerrancy and infallibility tend to be so remarkably close-minded and shallow-thinking that it's just…well breathtaking.

          I had hoped to find some shred of…something…to understand why they might still hold to the beliefs expressed here in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary. All the exchanges here today have is leave me shaking my head. So, we have confirmation in their minds that: Gays at least DID deserve to be killed….They still do if it weren't for Jesus's death and resurrection….Don't question those beliefs because they come from God….And, of course, poor Mel that she is being so persecuted for her beliefs.

          Ugh. Martyr complexes are so ugly. And these views are so repugnant that…it's hard to recognize it as Christianity. I can't accept it as such.

          But…close-mindedness is close-mindedness, and trying to shine a light in that window is usually in vain. I came. I tried. I failed.

          @Kara: I echo all the comments here and you have my admiration, too. You are a remarkable young lady, wise beyond your years. Your presence here is a bright light that drowns out all this ignorance.

          • Mel

            I didn't say "gays at lease did deserve to be killed". I said that ALL OF US deserve to die because of our sin.

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

            shhhhhh. :

            stroking Mel's troll doll hair:

            OK, I've given you enough attention, whoever you are. Funny stuff, you definitely got our number. Now it's just boring. Darn intuition, I was having a great time sparring with you. Now I have to go write my reviews. Dang it.

          • Mel

            Okay seriously? Because I very strongly disagree with you, that *must* mean I'm not a real person??? If I was a troll why would I have constantly been sooooooo careful not to hurt Kara's feelings? I've apologized for the way I've come across over and over. I had a valid point. Somewhere it got lost due to a misunderstanding, but all I was trying to say was that THIS POST, not suicide, is ridiculous. That blaming other people for another's suicide is ridiculous.

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

            Listen, Erica Kane. You've already won my Internet Emmy for best actress. Stop trying so hard, now I'm getting embarrassed for you. The party is over.

          • Mindy

            Last time I'm responding to you, Mel. "Blaming other people" for someone's suicide is NOT ONE BIT ridiculous – no matter how many times you say it is.

            Sometimes, Mel, you can have a different opinion than other people and it's fine. Sometimes, however, you can be flat-out WRONG, and it is not fine. In this matter, you are WRONG.

            Every single person who subscribes to and supports the view that being gay is a "sin" contributes to the suicide rate of gay teens. Period. It doesn't matter one teensy bit that you, yourself, have not been openly mean to a gay person, teen or not. DOES. NOT. MATTER.

            You contribute to and participate in a theology and ,cultural system that marginalizes them. And that marginalization contributes to their sense of self-loathing and ultimately, to the fact that the suicide rate is higher. Period.

            No matter how many times you repeat that the correlation John makes is 'ridiculous,' you are WRONG. It is not ridiculous, because it is true.

            As long as the Christian church continues to label something it a sin, every single person who believes it is complicit in the pain it causes. To say otherwise is to lie.

            If it makes you feel better to lie to yourself, you do that. But that doesn't make you right, or me less disgusted with your refusal to examine everything that has been presented here. The fact that you continue to compare being gay to lying and murdering says that you are paying no attention whatsoever.

          • Mel

            I am NOT comparing being gay to lying and murdering. I took two things, on opposite ends of the spectrum, to make a point. I wasn't saying they were the same. I was saying that the circumstance would be the same.

          • Mindy

            Said I wouldn't respond but –

            Humans CHOOSE to tell lies. Humans CHOOSE to commit murder. Humans DO NOT CHOOSE to be gay.

            So yes, you WERE comparing them, Mel. Again, just because you say you weren't doesn't make it true.

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

          I would bet a month of my salary that "Mel" isn't real. We've been taken for a ride, but then again, Mel's ridiculousness served as a platform for us to counter.

          We're all so quick to believing we know who is on the other side of the computer. I think it shows we're all fairly decent people. But Mel is a fake. No one would write this, it's too over the top, it's too consistent. It's now stylized.

          Mel is a troll.

          • Kara

            Yeah, in retrospect the "not knowing who major historical figures were" thing stands out quite a bit.

            To be honest, if a troll, an impressively persistent and patient one.

          • Mel

            I am not a troll. I really think I've been misunderstood. And excuse me for not knowing about History.

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

            hahahahahaha!

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

            I know! Who doesn't know about Saddam? I can't believe we didn't catch on earlier, I'm actually laughing. This was an amazing effort. Crazy for sure – scary crazy – but still, what a perfect way to serve up your brilliance and that of everyone who was so ardently countering "her".

            Stunning!

      • Mel

        Did I say that suicide is ridiculous???? NO!!! I said it’s ridiculous to say that it’s because of people who have a certain belief. I honestly don’t understand why everybody is so upset by this comment. I know you’re all going to be repulsed that I’m pulling out the “I don’t understand card” but seriously, I must have worded something wrong because it wasn’t meant as an insult to homosexuals at all! The only point I was trying to prove is that it’s not because of other people’s beliefs that kids commit suicide. I’m really, really sorry if that was offensive. It genuinely wasn’t supposed to be. I was offended by this post, and so I was trying to prove it wrong…that’s all.

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

          "I honestly don’t understand why everybody is so upset by this comment."

          Ahh – there it is! The classic troll giveaway. "I don't understand why everybody is so upset!" You've said that several times now and it's always given me a moment of pause, and now I know why.

          "Mel", you're busted. Your slip is showing. I've been on these internets for a very long time and I'm seldom fooled, but you are the troll master. It's so obvious to me now. There's no way you are real, you are just playing the caricature of someone. It's a brilliant job, it really is. There's no one who is this insensitive or this stupid. You should have changed it up a little, but that's ok. You took us all for quite a ride.

        • Mel

          I just re-read my comment to see where people could have got offended. I'm assuming it was due to my strong statement that it is nobody's fault but their own? If it was another part, please let me know specifically. But I would just like people to know, that when I was writing that part, I was thinking about my friend's parent who committed suicide. I couldn't imagine anybody putting the blame on a family member, or anybody else. I've stated before that I think suicide is selfish. I understand that most of the time, the person doesn't realize they are being selfish, but I just think that leaving a family behind because *you* can't take it anymore, is selfish. In that particular instance, I believe it was nobody's fault, but the parents. I came on strongly due to the fact that it is so personal, and it makes me very upset. I apologize for the way that comment may have come across. As far as I can tell, that's the only part of my comment that could have been taken offensively, but if it was another part, please let me know so that I can clarify. I'm assuming it's just a misunderstanding since this is over the internet, and you can't hear how I'm trying to express my opinion, because truly, and honestly it was not intended as an insult to anybody.

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

            Mel?

            You've been busted. And now you're dismissed.

          • Mindy

            No, Mel, there is no misunderstanding. We understood your post. Speaking only for myself, I find the insensitivity it took to continue insisting that your beliefs have nothing whatsoever to do with gay teens committing suicide absolutely sickening.

            I don't believe any 18-yr.-old who can write a sentence, spell correctly and has access to a computer can be as double-dog DENSE as you are acting. It's simply not possible.

            So you're either a troll, like DR says, or you really have a helluva lot to learn about life and being human in this world.

          • Mel

            There are others who have made the same point. They also thought it was ridiculous to blame conservative Christians for homosexuals committing suicide. So why is it that all of a sudden I'm so dense, and stupid, and whatever else people have called me, and they aren't? We all have a point, I just *clearly* worded mine wrong, and I apologize for that.

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

          Mel,

          You don't know history. You don't know current events. You don't know any gay people. You don't know how suicide can be anything but selfish. You don't understand how expressing to Mel and Denver that they don't deserve the kind of love you deserve to have via marriage is construed as discriminatory, or cruel, or superior. You don't understand how your actions to ensure civil rights are denied to homosexuals has any bearing on the hopelessness that leads to teen suicide.

          But you do know homosexuality is a sin and gay marriage is wrong.

          You've gone so far as to say that you'd vote to ban gay marriage, so you obviously believe your vote has enough influence to contribute to the overall outcome of an election. That means you understand that your actions do have an affect on issues with far-reaching implications.

          How can you in one breath blame others here for hurting your feelings or being mean, on a blog for God's sake, yet in another breath assert that homosexuals, who are denied the right to serve freely for their country, are denied the right to pursue love, are denied civil rights, should just buck up and keep their feelings in check?

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Oddly enough, that's essentially the position Mr. Shore had taken previously and later affirmed again verbatim:

          [Note: The views expressed in the following remarks are in not endorsed by Matthew Tweedell. Some content may be inappropriate for children---reader discretion is advised.]

          "[T]here’s never anything they or anyone else could have done to stop what happened.

          "The real reason anyone ever commits suicide—the only reason anyone ever commits suicide—has nothing to do with events or circumstances that happen outside that person. Trillions of people every day get depressed and emotionally desperate, but don’t kill themselves. The only people who ever commit suicide are people infected with the profoundly serious condition of being suicidal.

          "Maybe you could have been nicer. Maybe you could have been more responsive. Maybe you could have been less self-involved. Sure: we could all be better versions of ourselves, all the time. But no matter how great, understanding, wise, or compassionate you had ever managed to be, none of it would have mattered."

          As I believe Mindy's attempted to explain already, if a gay teen blames others' treatment of him for driving him to suicide, he's just mentally ill—there's really no rhyme or reason in it. It seems John would want you to know, Mel, "You accept that guilt, and he wins. Fuck him."

          • Mindy

            How dare you, Matthew. How dare you take what I said and twist it into that?

            I never said one thing about a gay teen "blaming" anyone – I was talking about the insidious disenfranchisement that happens in a culture where a gay teen hears, reads and sees – regularly and from everyone who is supposed to be in positions of nurturing authority in his life, like parents, pastors and parishioners – that homosexuality is evil, sinful, an aberration. That teen may never be able to articulate why he feels the anguish he feels. She may never realize what, specifically, it is that makes her feel as if she is worthless, as if her entire being is all wrong. He or she may never be a fraction as eloquent as Kara or Denver in putting words to the pain. It will simply have filled a soul with self-loathing. And when that happens, over time, the damage can be insurmountable. Brain wiring can change, and yes, mental illness can most definitely take hold.

            But here is absolutely both rhyme AND reason, there is no such thing as "just" mentally ill.

          • Susan

            No, Mindy has never intimated that the teen "blames" anybody…rather, I believe she means that individuals and various groups who incessantly harass and denegrate homosexuals collectively push them to the edge of reason. They – the aggregate – are responsible for instilling the messages that become so ingrained in a teen's mind that s/he sees no other alternative.

            The suicide itself is to be blamed on those who had a part in the negative messages.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Sorry, I didn't notice the comment till now. (For some reason yours and Susans' from last night didn't show up in my email.)

            So why do you dismiss the idea that it could be a properly functioning response to given stimuli? (I believe that to do so is to maintain a potentially dangerous preconception, as it does lead to conclusions such as what I expressed above, and so—I hope you understand—I feel I must take it seriously.)

            Mindy, I don't mean to paint you as a bad person; it just seemed you did sort of dismissively overlooked Jeanine's SIL's blaming of her family (which, as far as I know, could be completely valid for you to do in that case, for she may very well have truly been mentally ill—but other times the illness is really located in the people a person is surrounded by).

          • Mindy

            Because I do not believe that in *most* cases, self-imposed death is a "properly functioning response" to anything. We, as human beings, have a wealth of coping mechanisms, both internal and external. At some point, in those who become suicidal, the ability to develop and/or access the internal or seek out the external ceases to function.

            I don't personally believe that is normal. I am not basing this on any scientific study. Just my general knowledge. As always, I could be wrong.

            I did not overlook Jeanine's SIL "blaming" her family – but I still don't see it as selfish. She was damaged. "Normal" people don't do that. Normal people blame things on others, sometimes, sure. But most people do not become so disconnected from reality as to feel that death is the only release from whatever torment they believe others have put them under – I made the assumption (again, maybe I'm wrong?), that no one in Jeanine's family had abused or neglected or wounded this woman so deeply as to *actually* be at fault or deserving of her blame. Therefore, it would seem as though she disassociated with the reality around her.

            Ugly, horrible, tragic – but I still don't believe it is selfish. Those who complete suicide – to use the proper terminology, thanks to the Trevor's Project post John put up today – are not perpetrators. They are victims. Those left behind are also victims, but not of selfishness.

            As to why you insinuated that Susan said suicide victims are inhuman – WTH? She did nothing of the sort.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Well, it does certainly seem the SIL was not acting in her rational self-interest, if that's what we mean by "selfish". But perhaps she was, in fact, acting in accordance with her own nature as it stood at the time, which may or may not be considered a "selfish" thing to do, just as it may or may not be considered a "normal" thing to do. (And in fact it seems to me that it is actually normal to be somewhat selfish. I suppose that's generally a useful survival trait.) The problem enters in when anyone tries to judge what sort of functioning is selfish, what sort of functioning is normal, and so on, since I'm not aware of any general consensus in the standards for judging such things.

            That you somehow think I insinuated that *Susan* said any such thing I find insulting. Such is rather the conclusion of what you, John, and even Shadsie describe, and I have no doubt about the truth of this total breakdown of human spirit in many, many cases, but sometimes there yet remains just enough a glimmer of that hope that is the light of mankind.

          • Susan

            Matthew,

            Don't you think what John meant was once someone has definitively decided to commit suicide, there's no stopping them? I mean, if it was a foregone conclusion, why are there such things as suicide hot lines? Isn't that for those who, somewhere inside, are looking for a good excuse to live?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Of course. So maybe, Susan, they aren't so inhuman after all?

          • Susan

            @ Matthew,

            Sorry, been out of the loop a bit and just saw your response here.

            Um…I know that I lack the eloquence of commentators on this blog and cannot match their abilities in the arena of debate, but I don't think my writing is so awful that I've come across as implying gays, or any people for that matter, are inhuman.

            If, however, I've conveyed that anyone is inhuman, my deepest apologies to all. My beliefs are diametrically opposed to that sentiment, truly.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I'm not saying that you implied any such thing, Susan. I've always known your remarks to be well-stated and quite rational.

            What I was speaking of was the implication of John's and Mindy's previous remarks that they have necessarily lost certain defining traits of the human spirit such as rational (in light of one's view of the world) self-interest being the decisive factor in deciding on something requiring a deliberate course of action to be accomplished. I was pointing out the issue I had been trying to raise in regards to this matter.

            You're not alone in reading that into that question—I addressed the same with Mindy a few comments up from here. I apologize for not making it more explicit like this from the start—I've found that people aren't particularly interested in my giving very precise, detailed, long-worded responses, and it takes up a lot more time.

  • Recovering Goth

    Shadsie,

    Early on in the thready (sorry for being late to the discussion here), you mention:

    “I’ve come to think that possibly the biggest contributing factor to suicidal ideation are feelings of rejection – or of failure. When you feel like your family’s rejected you, or society’s rejected you, or you just fail at everything and are a burden.”

    By the grace of God, truly, I personally have not felt rejected or burdensome to the point of suicide. I seem to gravitate toward a few friends who have, though, and I hear this same theme from each of them, in different ways. Whether it was homosexuality, addiction, or severe depression, each friend has felt worthless, useless, and more of a harm to the world that a blessing. It’s terrifying. I think understand on a very peripheral level, because I understand what it’s like to feel “I don’t belong here. I’m not normal. Am I even human?” I’ve felt like a failure because I couldn’t hold down a “traditional” job, with a “normal” husband, the way some people expected. I’ve felt rejected because when I walk into a crowded room, I’m certain every single person in there is laughing at me behind my back. I’m a weirdo, and they all know it. I’m not even sure why it is that I’m abnormal; but the intuitive feeling is there, and it’s always been there.

    Thankfully, I’ve been blessed from an early age with those one or two key people who accepted me just as I am. Christ’s perfect love was their example. My father was one of those people. My church youth group leaders were others. When I went to college, I was blessed beyond belief with a roommate who not only tolerated, but embraced my oddity. She laughed at me every day; but it was a laugh of love, and I will always thank God for introducing us! I hope and pray that I can be an anchor of love for anyone I meet who needs it. Because you’re right, having even one person who loves and accepts you can make all the difference.

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

    Okay, wait. Is Kara SEVENTEEN? Do I have that right? She … can’t be. Is she?

    • Kara

      I thought you knew, John, I'm sorry. It came up a while ago, when another commenter kept saying no one under 18 should be allowed to engage in "adult conversations". He was being an ass, and eventually he asked why it bothered me so much, so I just figured I'd tell him the truth.

    • http://none Don Rappe

      I'm sure she made that statement early on. I thought that might be why she and whay appears to be an 18 year old were engaging.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      I KNOW. Right? She’s as good of a writer as some of the editors on my team. Make her go into journalism, John – MAKE HER.

      • Mindy

        LOL (I know, right?!) said like a true teenager, DR!! – I've been absolutely blown away by her writing. If she really is a kid of 17 – and I have no reason to believe she's not – she is one of the best writers around. I'm not kidding, AT ALL.

        • Ace

          I knew a girl in high school like that, we all wanted her to be a writer. She ended up as an elementary school teacher, but I like to think her talent shall be passed on to her students. :)

  • Susan

    Jesus gave us two great commandments and the second is this: love your neighbor as yourself. He didn't say, "love your heterosexual neighbor:" he said: love your neighbor. Whomever that might be.

    Judging, condemning, excluding, rejecting, and oppressing is not loving.

  • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

    Michigan ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL is cyber-bullying a gay college student openly in the name of Jesus.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwObjKZg9Jw&fe…!

    The blog: http://chris-armstrong-watch.blogspot.com/

    • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

      Wow. There's that 'radical gay agenda' in action: keeping the cafeteria open longer and lowering tuition and lifting gender rules on student housing. The fact that Armstrong was elected on just these issues and represents the majority view of electors without reducing any one's rights seems to be lost on the bigot in his rush to frame Armstrong and anything he does as a gay radicalism.

      Note that the AAG identifies himself as a christian citizen, as if that designation elevates his mental illness to acceptable standards.

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

        This is what I'm talking about. Done with it.

    • Ace

      Yea, I saw that this morning. This guy is involved with those Westboro Baptist Church lunatics though, mind you. A real whackadoodle.

      He also calls the student a "nazi" thereby invoking Godwin's Law and pretty well shooting any of his "arguments" out of the water immediately.

      I would sincerely hope that this man is removed from his job as assistant attorney general as a result of this insanity he has splattered over the internet.

      • Argy-bargy

        I read the Attorney General has looked into disciplinary or employment termination, but may be limited because of First Amendment obstacles. The wacko I think tries to be careful to make it "clear" that he's speaking on his own behalf, not the State, but…really, c'mon.

        Of course, the Attorney General might just be paying lip service to the national outrage, but really has no intention to do anything anyway.

        • Ace

          Some of his statements, such as accusing the student of underage drinking at a party he was not even present at (or even in the same city as), could count as slander/libel. I'm not lawyer so I don't know all the laws in that regard but putting in print verifiable lies is usually not covered under the 1st amendment.

          • Mindy

            Anderson did say in the video that the student declined to be interviewed because he is pursuing legal action against this loon. Regardless – this is hate speech, pure and simple, and the fact that the state is employing someone who publicly engaged in it on an international platform is reprehensible.

          • Argy-bargy

            No, it's not protected speech, you are correct. The Attorney General says he's looking into it. One possibility would be to discipline or terminate him for violating some office code of conduct. And you're right, he could be sued for defamation. Might be one of the best ways to deal with him–sue his sorry a**.

      • Mindy

        Oh. My. God. If I were a resident of the state of Michigan, I would be out of my mind that my tax dollars are paying the salary of this hateful, deranged lunatic.

        I would also not be at all surprised to find out that underneath it all, he is, in fact, gay – and a lifetime of utter self-loathing has turned him into a complete nutjob.

        • Ace

          He certainly fits the profile. It's not just a detached "gay people are bad mmkay" but rather an maniacal obsession with this student. You don't drum up feelings that intense over something for no reason.

          If he weren't so dangerous (due to his position) I'd almost feel sorry for him. Almost.

          As it is, he needs to get gone, fast.

  • Mindy

    Exactly, Ace – it is the obsession piece that freaks me out. I'd be scared to pieces if I were this kid.

    Altho' on the kid's behalf, he sounds pretty awesome. :)

    • Ace

      Yea, he seems to be really smart. I can see why he was voted for by the other students.

      He seems to be handling himself admirably. I just hope the powers that be take this nutcase seriously and don't try to protect him. It's hard to get justice in cases like these because of people's prejudices, but I'm hoping common sense wins out over jackassery for once.

  • http://www.truthwinsout.org/category/blog/ Evan Hurst

    John,

    I just wanted to say thank you for highlighting this and making noise about it in the Christian community. In my work with Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting back against the lies that are spread about gays and gay teens, primarily by the Religious Right, it can be difficult to both respond forcefully and also with a voice that will reach readers such as yours, so we are ever grateful to other people who can find a voice of these issues in their own communities. Keep up the good work.

    Evan Hurst

    Social Media Director

    Truth Wins Out

  • Jenny

    I'm new to this blog, and I recently commented on the e-mail John was asked to post. I looked over at the "recent comments" section, and saw that many people were commenting on this post. I decided to read it as well. I have to say that a lot of drama seems to surround comments like the one I'm about to make, but please take it knowing it is coming from a good place. I just want to say that I am the minority when it comes to this topic, on this blog. I don't believe that Christians who disagree with homosexuality are responsible in any way, for teen suicide among the gay community. Some people, Christian or not, are responsible for making them feel so desperate. But to paint with such a broad brush and say that all Christians who believe it is wrong are somewhat responsible, is false. IMHO.

    • DR

      Thanks for your comment. It is 100% wrong. If you decide to actually listen to those who tried to commit suicide instead of what you want to believe about Christians, then you’ll see that you’re wrong.

  • http://www.godtalkradio.com Jason

    And for anyone looking for an 'honest' discussion on this topic:

    http://tinyurl.com/28eby3a

    jason

    • DR

      If by “honest” you mean “defensive, passive-aggressive, inconsistent, illogical, disobedient and rooted in spiritual victimhood” then I agree. Thank you for clearing that up!

    • Mindy

      Jason, Mr. Mohler paints far too many Biblical assertions as “facts” for it to be an open and honest discussion. He dismisses actual truths as opinions.

      He may be well-intentioned, but his may well be the most dangerous brand of Christianity – because of this: “Was there no believer to befriend Tyler and, without loving his homosexuality, love him? The homosexual community insists that to love someone is to love their sexual orientation. We know this to be a lie. But no one who loves me should love nor rationalize my sin. The church must be the people who speak honestly about sin because we have first learned by God’s grace to speak honestly of our own.”

      He continues to perpetuate the “love the sinner, hate the sin” myth. Which relies entirely on homosexuality being a sin, which can only be possible if it is a choice. Since it is not, well, his argument falls apart pretty quickly. He discusses it as if no one has ever questioned the translations that ultimately wound up in the Bible. He discusses the Bible as if it is a single series of hard, cold facts.

      Homosexuality is a state of being. To love a gay person is to accept that, and honor the entirety of who that person is – not ask him or her to spend their lives denying their very core. Not ask that they deny themselves the quest for love, for a soulmate and life partner. You can love someone and hate that they swear. You can love someone and hate that they sometimes lie. You can love someone and forgive their mistakes. You cannot love someone and hate who they ARE.

      Mr. Mohler is discussing homosexuality as if he truly understands it, as if he is an expert on it – when, in fact, all he is doing is making the exact problem he professes breaks his heart all that much worse.

      He is doing the one thing we need people to STOP doing – giving conservative Christians justification for their bigotry.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly. Thank you, Mindy.

    • Anonymous

      Jaon, it’s very easy to agree with such pronouncements when they dehumanize individuals and categorize them as a “they” – and make sweeping generalizations about them. “They” have names: Carl Walker Hoover, 11, hanged himself, Jaheem Herrera, 11, hanged himself, Justin Aaberg, 15, hanged himself, Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself….. So tell me, if you ran into Carl or Jaheem…how would it be possible for you to condemn them, yet love them at the same time? Don’t use the “hate the sin, love the sinner” – sins are choices, homosexuality is like being left or right-handed., having blue eyes or red hair. It’s like being born a heterosexual…or do you recall choosing that orientation?

      Here’s a good video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8J93a2IES4&feature=sub

  • blessed

    Thank you John for writing this blog it is so true. Us(as christians) tend to have so many derogatory words to say about the gay and lesbian lifestyle instead of trying to assist them in finding the right life style. Christians like to point out the it is a sin to live this lifestyle and that gays peopel are going to hell for living the life that they live but I think we forget that by condeming them to hell we are also condeming ourselves….The religious stand point on this situation is the reason so many people have so many negative things to say about homosexuality and it is passed on to the children which is then passed on the that poor kid who is still trying to find him/herself, that kid who doesn’t fully understand the feeling that they have, instead of finding comfort and direction they find humiliation and more confusion…

  • Rev Jph

    people who commit the sin of suicide have deeper issues then just being gay… it is a selfish, heartless act… void of love for anyone outside of self… that is the fact… not that a person is gay or straight…

    • Anonymous

      I can only hope that the “Rev” you’ve used in your screen name isn’t short for “reverend.”

      • Susan

        Reviler, perhaps? Revolting?

        Just another no-name who wants to be perceived as an authority on God and love…I mean hate and um, opposite of God.

    • DR

      This doesn’t even make sense. People in despair do stupid things. The point is the DESPAIR.

      I really need to get 8 hours of sleep before I come to this site, the ignorant, thoughtless comments offered in the name of Jesus get on my last nerve when I don’t.

    • Mindy

      Well.

      One hopes you are not in the business of providing emotional support. To anyone.

      Wow. Talk about selfish and heartless . . . . you really haven’t got a clue about depression, do you?

    • Anonymous

      Rev-If you’ve lost someone to suicide, I am so sorry. Your sentiment may be based on the deep hurt you have felt, and are possibly still feeling. My hope is that one day you will be able to come to terms with it, forgive, and consider that your current perceptions are not reflective of the majority of sucides.

      If you have not experienced such a heart-wrenching experience, then your comment is meaningless, unfounded and is simply an ill-conceived opinion. Unless you can substantiate your claims to be “fact” then I strongly recommend that you revisit the issue.

      A 13-year old who hangs himself is not heartless, but heart-broken. How dare you minimize this child’s pain, his character. How dare you use your words to make grieving parents hurt even more.

      parents and the memory which that lives in the hearsts of his family.

      his character and mental state into an absolute certaintyhis chacater and mental state . The dead parents’ of this child have enough grief with which they are contending.

      • LucasC

        Susan, you are so right on the point. Unless you’ve had a family member or friend who’s taken their life you’d never know the experience and pain. I had a friend in elementary school (almost 20 years ago) who was obviously gay, very feminiate, and in high school took his life.

        I remember him being teased, bullied, and abused by classmates. He came from a good home, good parents, he never “chose to be gay”, he didn’t choose to be abused! It hurts to know he was so damaged that he felt he had no other way out.

        I’m openly gay, work in film/entertainment with Christain parents and siblings who love, support and accept me unconditionally. I won’t hide my light under a bushel or in my closet when there are countless who feel trapped. If I could turn back time I’d tell him, my friend (Nathan) how much God loves him, that he is uniquely preciously made by God.

  • Cassey1993

    im a christain, one of my best friends is gay. I would never do anything to emotionaly hurt him because of that. Yes i have told him my views, but thats beside the point. His parents are christians, and they hate him, whats the difference betwwen me and them? Im following the part of the bible that says “Love thy neighbor.” weather hes right or wrong isnt my place to say. and it isnt anyone else’s eather.

    • Mack Cooms

      You Are Right His Parents Should Not Treat Him That

      And We Should Be Nice To Them But It Is Wrong

  • kove

    Religion is idiotic.

    • Anonymous

      Whereas that proclamation is clearly genius.

    • Mack Cooms

      Not Beliveing Is Stupid

  • Lilly

    Hearing the word of God is not to blame as to why people kill themselves. Suicide is the work of the devil. Sin is sin for a reason. HE would not call it an abomination for nothing. God sent his word to save us, not hurt us. Don’t take it likely that gay teens commit suicide at such high rates or that the lifespan of gays is significantly(20+ years!!) shorter overall. You are referring to the preaching of the Gospel as condemnation when in reality the word of God is the only thing that will save them!

    • Duck

      So, being taught that a major factor in one’s life (who one is attracted to) which one has NO control over is ‘intrinsically disordered’ (the Pope said that one), an “abomination” in the eyes of God worthy of DEATH (your holy book), a worse threat to humanity than environmental destruction (the Pope again), and a worse threat to America than terrorism (a number of preachers and politicians have made that statement) is what, good for the psyche of young people? Every teenager who kills himself because of condemnation from the people who should be supporting him is YOUR fault. YOU with this statement might as well have shot him yourself.

    • DR

      Step out of your denial and wake up. These kids commit suicide largely in part because people like you who call them unfit and unholy and you make them feel like they won’t ever be able to have a relationship with God if they don’t change who they are. It’s spiritual abuse and the only abomination in the room is you. Christianity is beginning to wake up to the horrifying way we’ve abused gay and lesbian children, there is blood on our collective hands. This isn’t God’s fault – this isn’t the Bible’s fault. It’s your fault for taking small piece of it and twisting it to say isolated and in power and it’s my fault for letting you do that in silence for so long. Not anymore.

      In short? Wake up, accept responsibility for how we’ve damaged this community and alienated them from Jesus or get out of my church.

    • Strider Grey

      You Are So Right We Should Not Be Mean To Them But

      We Need To Share The Word

      • Melody

        Learn to use correct grammar and punctuation, and maybe people will take you a little more seriously. Either way, I stand with these teens, and I stand by John’s opinion: People like you are the reason these suicides are happening. Shame on you for using the Bible to promote prejudice and hate.

  • JAMES FLETCHER

    I AM THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE AND HE THAT COMETH TO ME I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT. COME TO ME ALL YE THAT ARE HEAVY LADEN AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.

    • Strider Gray

      God Said Be Ye Holy For I am Holy. And Being “Gay” Is Not Holy

      God Made Note To It In The Old Testament

      • Mack Cooms

        You Are So Right Brother

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Strider and Mack: Do you think I can’t tell from your IP address that you’re the same person? Jesus. Lame much?

  • Cuttheshit

    You have got to be kidding me. Get over yourselves. Wow, way to be diverse. Stop living in your dystopian bubble. You are so blind to the current picture. ou live once and this is how you live it? HATING OTHERS THAT ARE AS HARMLESS AS THE MEANING ITSELF. You contradict what you think Humanity is. Love and peace to everyone – enough said.

  • kimberly

    2 things i said today before i ever saw this…

    1 – i believe that in silence we condone something even if we disagree with it. those who are treated cruelly, heartlessly, hatefully, need to hear every single christian voice willing to speak up and speak out in love, support and acceptance of the love of God and Christ for each and every person God made, straight, gay, sideways, or any other way. God made us all exactly as we are, and loves us all with the same miraculous, all-encompassing grace we have been promised.

    2 – i sometimes picture Jesus weeping for the things His children are taught to believe in His name.

    • Richard lubbers

      Amen, my friend! I think the church has done such horrible things to people in the name of “God’s truth” that it deeply grieves the heart of God. Rob Bell and Don Golden wrote a book entitled “Jesus Wants To Save Christians”, and in it they describe differences between what Christians do, and the believe they (Bell & Golden) have about who Christ is.

      Jesus once said to me “I never meant to start another religion. I just want to restore people.” if the church is the bride of Christ, it is running perilously close to running out of oil. But the miracle of the true good news is that it works in and through imperfect people. Thank God for Saving Christians like Rob Bell, Don Golden, John Shore, and the countless people who “get it”.

  • anthony

    lets face it the action and sin is wrong in gods eyes but that gives no man the right to judge and persecute. you are not god and you shouldnt try to play god u are simply a man and you should leave you nose out of gods business.

    • vj

      anthony, you must be new here…. please take a few moments to read John’s essay about why we can say that the Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality. Then perhaps you might come to understand that the ‘action’ that IS condemned in the Bible is the exploitative use and abuse of people in idolatrous and culturally (ancient Greece and Rome) accepted behavior that had nothing to do with mutually loving and honoring committed relationships.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Thank you, vj.

  • HanaM

    Exactly how Christian believers demonize any person who doesn’t give credence to the holy bible is something that can’t be disregarded or caused by misunderstandings. This has happened for much more time than it hasn’t (See christian crimes against humankind). If you explore those “purifying” strategies, you will get an idea of how man-made insight digested as supernatural can be quickly misinterpreted by anybody for any reason. Communities and persons.

  • Jeremy

    All I have to say is, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” If you could walk a mile in the shoes of these teens, you might be singing a different tune.

  • Veronicadiall

    Sorry I don’t buy this reasoning. Christians/Christianity condemns a lot of other things as well such as drinking to excess, sex out side of marriage, and theft. Yet people who do these actions don’t commit suicide.

    Further I have a problem with the notion that I’m responsible for other people’s personal joy and happiness. It’s up to the individual whether or not you are going to allow toxic and unpleasant people define their life.

    • Elizabeth

      Suicide doesn’t feel like a choice. It feels like peer pressure. Spoken as someone who attempted it twice and lost both her cousins to it.

      You are clearly not responsible for my happiness.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

      Actually, if the people who do those things are bullied enough, are made to feel unwelcome enough, and are made to feel like they can never do enough to please God, then, yes, they do often commit suicide. For instance, during their first two weeks out of prison, ex-convicts are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.

      The difference is that gay teens have often done nothing at all wrong. They have been bombarded with the negative message that God made them wrong, that God hates them, and that their only hope of achieving salvation is to live a perfect and “sinless” life in the area of romance and sex– never act on your romantic feelings, never have an intimate relationship with someone you love, never have a family with a partner you love. Everyone else is allowed to fall in love, date, make mistakes, marry, form a family, have their family recognised and honoured by society, raise kids, share their lives. But not gay teens. All they have to look forward to is a loveless, lonely life, living alone, dying alone, rejected by some even if they remain celibate their whole life.

      If that’s the message the church is sending, then the church is responsible for the despair that message causes. This isn’t a case of a few toxic and unpleasant people, it’s a case of a wide swath of American culture all speaking with the same condemning voice.

      And that voice doesn’t just condemn adults. It condemns vulnerable teens who are already under a great deal of stress and confusions just with puberty and the transition from childhood to adulthood. It also condemns children, because make no mistake, there are 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds and 8-year-olds who know they’re gay, who know they’re different, who have had to hide their first childhood crush, the ones we think are so adorable in our straight kids, because they’re afraid we won’t find their crushes so adorable.

      It’s cruel. And it’s heartless of you to blame these children for the despair the church had brought into their lives.

      If you have a problem with the idea that you’re responsible for other people’s joy and happiness, then you have a problem with the mission, message, and example of Jesus Christ, because he didn’t say that if you didn’t hurt anybody, you were good to go. He said you were to love actively– to feed and give drink and clothe and visit and give comfort to and invite into your home and walk the extra mile for and seek justice for others. It’s not a passive belief system.

      So, yes, if these children are stumbling, if they are dying alone and in despair, it’s on us that we aren’t doing a better job of catching them, of lifting them up, of practicing love and grace unselfishly and unconditionally. None of us who call ourselves Christians get to opt out of that. Period.

    • Lymis

      I remember as a teen being pretty well convinced that my parents would rather I was dead than know I was gay – and this was back in the days before it became the number one sin in the eyes of a majority of (at least the most vocal) Christians, and before the internet bombarded teens with hateful messages and peer pressure you can’t get away from.

      “Further I have a problem with the notion that I’m responsible for other people’s personal joy and happiness. It’s up to the individual whether or not you are going to allow toxic and unpleasant people define their life.”

      So, that “love your neighbor” thing – not so high on your agenda? The “whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers” thing leaving you cold?

      If the only voices kids hear are negative, then those who are silent contribute to their despair.

    • http://www.whatisspiritual.com cardw

      Do you realize that the suicide rates are significantly higher in all teens who live in more religiously conservative communities? It is not just a sexual orientation issue. I’m straight and I grew up in a conservative Christian community and because I was taught I was a sinner that had nothing good in me I suffered terribly because I thought every time I lusted after a girl I was committing fornication because Jesus said that even if you have a desire for a woman you have committed adultery in your heart. I prayed to be freed from this for years and heard nothing back. I can relate to those who grow up with alternate orientations being told they only have to pray and god will deliver them. This is a lie. This is why I will never label myself a Christian again. Becoming a non believer saved my life. And every time some conservative responds to my religious orientation it’s generally is rude and involves threats of violence or some type of name calling. If I was still a teen and respected that authority I would be devastated by how Christians treat those outside their world view. This is why I consider Christianity to be harmful.

      • Jill

        Ex-fundy here. Non-belief saved my ass too. No doubt.

        On the Christianity-damage front, I do tend to err on the side of kill the messenger, not the message (metaphorically speaking).

        A LOT of people fucked up A LOT of things when it comes to the Jesus thing. I’ve said it before I’m no revisionist. Hell, I don’t even call myself Christian. But I have grown toward understanding, and yes even that hateful blinking word, forgiveness.

        I’ve spent the last year and a half calling a truce between myself and the God commandeered by such self-serving fundy groups. I (and you, and much of humanity) have valid arguments against the entire thing. Broken-down, busted. Still I stick with it. Because I believe there is more to the message than the messengers that abused it.

        I have zero stake in what others do or do not do with Jesus’ message. If it inspires them to be better people, awesome. If not, then do something else. But absolutely do something that speaks to your soul, that validates your pain, that honors your heart, and shares your unique song with the world, and continue doing that until it runs out of steam or you breathe your last breath.

        If you wanna hang out here with this band of misfits, a fair few NOT Christian-identified, then I hope you find words here that heal and comfort. Thank you for your comment.

    • anakinmcfly

      But those things are all choices. I don’t drink, I am a virgin, and I have never stolen anything, because those are possible choices to make and I’m a perfectionist with unrealistically high moral standards for myself. People would praise my parents saying what an obedient kid I was. So when my parents or my church or my school said “X is wrong,” I didn’t do X, period. (and then all the other kids hated me and called me a teacher’s pet and all that other fun stuff.)

      But then they said the same thing about my sexual orientation and gender identity, and unlike all those other things, I couldn’t change it, no matter how hard I tried, and got angry at myself, and punished myself, because this was the one, single rule that – despite all my effort – I was unable to follow, and the one which so many Christians seemed convinced was the Worst Sin Ever. Which meant I was automatically doing what they considered a hugely horrendous wrong without actually *doing* anything, and that took a huge toll on me.

      And therein lies the difference. Telling people to do the possible or be condemned is one thing. Telling people to do the impossible or be condemned is a whole other issue, and that’s where desperation can drive people to suicide when they see no other way out but death, because death is the only way that one can stop being gay.

    • Jill

      Your point that you are not responsible for someone else’s joy or misery is ultimately true, yet no one has the right to bully, humiliate, subjugate, or otherwise marginalize anyone in favor of a belief system, including religion.

      Whether you choose to face this is what is actually happening to LGTBQ people worldwide is well, your choice.


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