“Am I Seeking the Truth Because I Want to Justify My Sin?”

Not.

Here’s a letter I got in this weekend:

Good day John. I’d like to say I’m really ecstatic that I came across your blog.

I’m a lesbian (a dyke, butch, a girl who looks like a man) and I’m a born-again Christian. I was an active worker of the church, back home in my country (Philippines), where my dad was a pastor. I was in a worship team. And I really find joy in serving our Lord Jesus Christ — singing praises to Him, feeling His presence and being filled with the Holy Spirit. I see people being blessed by what I do for God’s glory. But I sometimes wonder what they would they if they knew I am a homosexual — which I think is pretty obvious, because you would never see me being girly, wearing a dress, putting on a make-up, and doing all those “how-a-Christian-girl-should act” things. I was always true to myself, but not so truthful that I’d stand up in front of the congregation and confess “Hey! brothers and sisters, I am gay and love Jesus!” I dream of doing that though, of letting the people know or the church know, who and what I really am. To somehow let them know that as a Christian homosexual God can still fill me with His spirit. But you think I should really do that? Not that I would do it if you’d say yes. I’m just curious.

It was not long ago when I started asking myself, is homosexuality, being gay or lesbian, not okay? A sin? An abomination? That it is a given, once you’re gay, that you just go straight to hell? Doesn’t matter if you love Jesus, doesn’t matter if you serve Him. You are a homo and it is a sin, so it’s either you repent and be straight, or continue your homosexual acts and burn to hell! It scares me, John. The idea of changing myself because it is the right thing to do — it is what they say what God wants me to do — is scary. It’s like giving up my life. My whole life. And I’ve been like this since grade school. Though I know that’s what serving God is all about. Right? About surrendering your all to Him.

Every year, we have our youth camp, and last 2006, during our Holy Spirit Baptism, I had this incredible experience with the Holy Spirit, that I thought I would never feel because of the fact that I’m gay. After that night, I felt so blessed, that i felt something had changed in me. That I was lesbian no more! But I still did not wear a dress though. A month after that encounter, though, I got involved with a girl. We go to the same church, and were both active in our ministry, so we kept this of course from everyone. My relationship with her lasted about three years. She broke up with me because, you know, our love was WRONG. So I was devastated and depressed.

And that’s when my journey began of seeking the truth about homosexuals. Do you think I am seeking for more knowledge about God and homosexuals just because I just want to justify my sin?! Or am I doing this because there is really is something about homosexuals that the world should know about? — that the Christian world should know about? Was it God who lead me to your blog??? Because I never actually thought that there would be a fellow straight Christian who is not against homosexuality. And as I scan through your Facebook page I found more Christians who are not against homosexuality. And that gave me hope. Hope that I can be myself.

I honestly don’t wanna think anymore about whether or not being gay is a sin. I just wanna live and be myself and serve God. But there are circumstances that requires me to find out more about the whole thing. My mom has these books about homosexuality: how to come out of it, how to pray for your homosexual daughter/son. And there’s this website she always visits, I can’t remember the site or the speaker’s name. But it teaches that there is hope for gays and lesbians to be straight. And it hurts me. And confuses me at some point. If God did not want me to be this way, I should have just been straight in the first place. Why would God create gays and lesbians? Or did He really create us to be this way? And If He did made us this way, is it just to prove that there is hope for change for people like us??

I don’t get it. It does not make sense. It’s a torture, for me, as a Christian gay, to feel this way. Because I really don’t think that it was my choice to like girls. What can I do? I never dream of having a man by my side. Just like a straight guy who would never dream of having a guy as his partner for life. I think it’s the same thing. You are straight, do you ever dream of having a man by your side? Am I even making sense here? Forgive me. My heart is bursting in tears. I am actually heart broken again right now. So I asked God, am I really not allowed, am I really forbidden, to love someone?? God said whatever our heart desires, ask and He will give it. And my one true desire is to love and be loved. And that who I am and love would be okay for my family and the family of the person I love. My desire is to be free and have no one  judge me.

Thank you for taking time to read this John. I have so many questions and running across your blog made me think, maybe this is God’s answer.

God bless you,

Unknown

Oh, Lord. When is this caustic, toxic, hateful, homophobic bullshit Christians do going to stop already?

Look at this girl. Look at her love. Look at her desperate yearning to do nothing more than love and be loved.

She wants to love, be loved, and know that God doesn’t hate her. That’s it. That’s her heart’s desire. That’s what she needs. Same as any other person (of faith) in the world.

And there’s Christianity — which is supposed to be founded on the unconditional love of God — breaking and tearing apart her heart. Shredding her sense of worth. Devastating her confidence. Ruining her relationships.

Destroying her life.

And still she loves Christ. This girl is so deeply wedded to the very heart and soul of Jesus that despite two thousand years worth of ignorant and poisonous institutionalized Christianity being leveled against her and everything she knows about herself, still she clings to God, still she loves Jesus, still she seeks reconciliation between herself and the God who calls all to his side.

Phenomenal.

And there’s her poor mother reading books on how to “heal” her, and praying that God will fix her.

And her crime? The thing that makes her anathema to the faith that she champions, that she continues to love despite its condemnation of her?

She dreams of having a woman by her side instead of a man.

And so Christians, hating the way she loves, do everything they can to make her hate herself.

And see its effect! Look where she’s at now. Looks what’s happened to her. Her letter drips grief and confusion.

The moment I read her letter I answered her back this:

It’s okay that you’re gay. God loves you no less for that. Some PEOPLE decided to translate their fear of gays into Biblical texts, but those are translation errors, not reality. And then SOME Christians decided to believe in that translation, not because they were listening to God (who invites EVERYONE to come to him/her), but because they were listening to their own craziness.

I pray she hears that.

Are you out there, girl? Hear that! God doesn’t care if you’re gay. God made you gay. God likes you being gay. God likes girls; you like girls; I like girls; everyone likes girls. It’s perfectly okay for you to be perfectly lesbian.

The only people who don’t like homosexuals just because they’re homosexuals are dented in the heart. Something awful happened to them. They (very often) were inculcated with a version of Christianity that sickens God. Someone gave them the awful anti-gay virus, and they sneeze and spit that nastiness onto others, because they just don’t know any better.

But you do. You know better. You hear God telling you that he loves you as he created you. You know your church is wrong. You know your mother (God bless her loving heart) is wrong. You know the love you can feel for a woman is every bit as strong and pure and right as the love any person ever feels for another.

All you have to do is accept with your mind what your heart already knows. That’s it. Just accept it.

As to a few of your specific questions:

No, I don’t think you’re under any moral obligation to come out to your church, or to anyone else you don’t want to. Who you are and how you love is nobody’s business but yours.

No, I don’t think you are seeking for more knowledge about God and homosexuals because you want to justify your sin. I think you’re doing it because deep inside you know that being homosexual isn’t a sin, and you’re seeking (and deserve) confirmation of that.

No, I don’t ever dream of being with a man in the way I am my wife.

And finally — and again and again and again and again: No, you don’t go straight to hell for being a lesbian. That anyone is automatically condemned to hell just for being gay or lesbian is absolute, one hundred percent medieval bullshit that you can with great relief and joy toss out like the fetid old garbage that it is.

You love. What could be less of a sin than loving? Loving is what humans are supposed to do. When you love, as God made you to love, God wins. You win. I win. Even your church (though they may not yet realize it) wins.

God is love — period, end of story, forever and ever.

So love! And love, even, those who would condemn you for that love. For (as someone once said) such people know not what they do.

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About John Shore

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

  • Dallas Jenkins

    John, you know I love and respect you, but as we’ve discussed privately, I have a huge problem with the notion that the instincts or desires we are born with are inherently okay because we’re born with them. And therefore, because they’re okay, acting on them is also okay. God does NOT love many of the ways we are or desires we’re born with; any casual or in depth read of the Bible reveals its constant warning, “You need God because you’re born into sin; deny yourself, deny much of what you love, embrace Christ because your sinful desires are the entire reason he’s NECESSARY.” The majority of the vices we’re born with are used by God to draw us closer to Him.

    You may be right that there is nothing wrong with acting on homosexual instincts, that the authors of the Bible didn’t speak out against it, etc, etc.. You may be right that homosexual love does not fall under the category of things some may love that can be harmful (money, gluttony, young boys, toxic substances, our own selfishness, etc.). But you can’t say that “Unknown’s” desires are automatically right BECAUSE she was born with that love. You can’t say that what we “love” is always right; Jesus sure as hell doesn’t.

    • Suz

      Are you playing on both sides just a little? I can’t quite tell from your comment. The belief that inborn traits are inherently good, goes with the premise that God created us in his image, and God is good. Either you believe that or you don’t; anyone who doesn’t believe that, has no business quoting any other part of the Bible. Therefore, they can’t claim that homosexuality is inherently sinful. No desire is inherently sinful, as any sin is in the harm caused by the pursuit of those desires. To oversimplify, either all desires are “good” because they serve a purpose, (known only to God) or all desires are neutral, and sin is in the harm caused by actions. Plenty of desires lead to sin, but those who think homosexuality is a sin because “the Bible says so,” are ignoring the “in His image” part.

      Christians believe one of two things about the Bible: It’s inerrant and perfect, in all it’s translations, or it’s man’s best lame attempt to define the indefinable.

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      Jesus gave us two commandments to follow which supersede all else. Love God, love others. A person is a “who” and not a “what.” Therefore, while Christ may not love every THING, He most certainly the hell DID love every PERSON and commanded us to do the same. I don’t think you make a valid argument, trying to contrast love for another person being the same as loving a color of toenail polish or loving one’s car. I’m also not sure why you enclosed “love” in quotation marks in this context, are you trying to say that a gay person’s love is somehow not quite the same a straight person’s love?

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

      Margaret,

      The church I grew up in was rather extremist in all of its views, but particularly in the view that left to our own devices Hedonism would run rampant. Therefore they frequently preached against the “if it feels good, do it” mindset. Of which I would still concur is a less than responsible and healthy way to live one’s life. But that doesn’t mean that all things that “feel good” are wrong. This preaching is directed at 12 year olds and people who think like 12 year olds, with 12 year old examples like cookie jars and limit setting by parents for our own good. These examples have value in context but cannot in all cases be superimposed over every other situation in life. Life isn’t that simple, despite the Church’s best efforts to make it that way. Life is messy and nuanced.

      Dallas said, ‘But you can’t say that “Unknown’s” desires are automatically right BECAUSE she was born with that love. You can’t say that what we “love” is always right; Jesus sure as hell doesn’t.’

      Equally so, and this is Suz’s point, you can’t say that Unknown’s desires are automatically wrong because she was born with that love. You can’t say that what we love is always wrong; Jesus sure as hell doesn’t.

      John didn’t say that what we love is ALWAYS right. This is the fallacy of dualistic, all-or-nothing, black and white thinking. Life is not a formula. Neither is faith.

      Love is one of those ineffable things like God or music or art……words necessarily limit one’s understanding of any of them. They can truly only be **experienced**. To proclaim that one way is right because it has been the predominant experience or the traditional understanding…..has surely done a great deal of harm to left-handed people.

      Grace and compassion command us to attempt to understand the other, to see God’s image reflected in the other and to love without trying to change or fix them. To do otherwise is not love; it is ego and control.

      • http://lou.poulain@comcast.net Lou Poulain

        Good post, Christy,

        The biblical moral criterium for human behavior is the law of love; the Great Commandment. Sexual orientation is a given, and morally neutral. Behavior is not. The biblical guided question, based on the teachings of Jesus and Paul, is “Is this loving behavior? Am I building up the other and honoring God and myself?” Exploitive sexual behavior is not the province of one orientation or another. Likewise, fidelity and mutuality are not the province of one orientation or another.

        • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

          Very thoughtful, excellent point and said beautifully, Lou.

        • Dirk

          What Lou said.

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

          Well articulated, Lou. Thank you.

    • DR

      Dirk, I don’t care what you believe privately. If you believe that homosexuality is not of God, then OK. What I do care about is if you communicate it to others as “truth” and that communication takes away their civil rights, creates hostile and violent situations for them while young and old. I care that it impacts their legal rights. I care that as a parent, that belief can and is incredibly damaging to gay kids. All of those impact people outside of you. Believe what you want to privately but please, just acknowledge the damage it does and take responsibility for it. If you count the cost and it’s worth it? I don’t control that. But please, start associating yourself and your beliefs with the impact. It’s a reasonable thing to ask of Christians who believe that homosexuality is not “right”.

      • DR

        *Dallas! Not Dirk! Excuse my typo.

      • vj

        Oh, excellent point, DR!

        We really all do need to realize that just because *we* believe that something is true/right, we must of necessity require everyone else to *share* that belief. The core of ‘love your enemy’ is that, regardless of why we might consider someone to be our ‘enemy’ (in this case, someone who believes differently to us, not necessarily someone who has overtly acted us as individuals), we are still called to LOVE – which, as you so rightly point out, means we have to be accountable for the *effects* of what we do and say (and, indeed – sometimes – what we don’t do or say).

        And, as I keep trying to drum into my kids: different DOES NOT equal wrong

        • vj

          duh – “acted *against* us as individuals”

          this typo stuff must be catching! ;-)

  • Karin

    John, you ROCK!!! :)

  • Christa

    She would be welcome at our church, just as she is. I pray she finds some loving Christians, gay ones and straight ones, who wish to serve Christ and humankind instead of tearing themselves and each other apart. I pray she finds a church where the people will love her as Jesus does, and where they will accept gratefully the love she so clearly wants to give.

    Dear letter writer: You are loved. We love you.

  • Dirk

    Dallas,

    I confess to an attack of curiosity.

    Virtually the entire medical, psychiatric, scientific (natural sciences, the real ones) communities say homosexual partnerships and homosexuals who raise children are just as stable and just as successful as parents as are heterosexual partnerships.

    If you accept what we gays say, that we are incapable of loving someone of the opposite sex as a partner in marriage deserves to be loved (although we can and do maintain that love over an entire lifelong marriage with someone of our own sex), then the question arises, what would you have us do?

    Shall we be condemned to live alone, without love?

    Shall those of us who are raising children be forced to abandon them?

    Now that even the Catholic church has admitted that their studies show that the pedophile priests were not homosexuals, I think it is time to ask the question, why enforce a loveless life on someone who has no choice in their sexuality?

    You seem to be arguing that I should abandon my capacity to love and to receive love from my husband because you don’t care for it. Your argument that one should resist ones own nature seems to be predicated on the concept of contrae naturae. Can you apply that logic in a time when we now know that all high order mammals have the same roughly 10% incidence of gays as do humans? Can you apply that logic when we now have independently confirmed studies showing that there are clear benefits for a species arising from these gay members? (I’d be happy to provide links without end on this but in 2011 this should not be hard for you to find for yourself)?

    I don’t often cite such studies, but there are now very hard statistical results in, across several generations and nearly one-half century about what happens to children of gay and lesbian couples.

    They turn out, if only marginally, to be better educated, earn more money and to be just as heterosexual or homosexual as the norm. Most important of all, they, as a group, turn out to be slightly better parents than the average.

    Please indulge my curiosity. I truly don’t understand why my love, my marriage, my monogamous, faithful, true, loyal, loving relationship of over 28 years is something God doesn’t want.

    • http://lou.poulain@comcast.net Lou Poulain

      Excellent post, Dirk. You’ve articulated things I have felt for years. I am a straight male. But I have known all my adult life, at an intuitive level, that sexual orientation is given, not chosen. THAT’S IT. It’s the truth, and only the most stubbornly close-minded can deny the witness of countless gay men and women who have been telling us this truth forever.

      Very very well stated.

      Lou

      • Dirk

        I thank our host, John for providing us with this excellent meeting space.

        Normally, I suffer from a severe case of stick-foot-insert-mouth. No idea where the cogent thoughts came from, fear they ran down my fingers left me for good.

    • DR

      Dirk, we’re better here for your presence. Thank you for hanging in here with us.

  • Dirk

    Suz,

    Only those versions of the Bible are inerrant which support the views of hateful Christians. All the others are abominations, written by us twisted Kenyan-loving socialist-fascists-queers.

    Surely, you should know that?

    After all, if the Bible du jour of the hateful Christians says “Homosexual” then it must have been in the original text, a direct quote taken from blond haired blue-eyed Jesus speaking with a Dixie drawl straight out of South Carolina.

    And, anyway, what are you, a woman, doing in a conversation about something which only us mensfolk need concern ourselves with. ´

    Go back to your kitchen, barefoot and, preferably, pregnant and leave it up to us to tell God what His will is.

    • Suz

      Barefoot, maybe. In the kitchen, you won’t like the results. Pregnant, nuh uhn, Nope, not on your life. Oh dear. I think I’m useless!

      ;D

      • Dirk

        At any given point in the semester, I can pinpoint the week if not the day by the state of my students’ dirty and getting stinkier clothes and their shrinking waistlines.

        Without their mommies, they’d all die of malnutrition.

        Of course, we wouldn’t need much dirt to fill in their graves…just brush off their unwashed clothes.

        I’m so glad you have a sense of humor, on the Internet there’s not much room for subtlety.

        My husband and our dawgs aren’t picky eaters, thank goodness…but the way the cats look at me in front of the cooker sometimes I have the distinct impression they’re relieved when I open their tins.

  • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

    I’m in tears, John. Perfectly magnificent.

  • RayC

    I’m not writing what follows to point fingers or belittle the gist of your post, John. I too find what this person is going through disturbing and think the crime Christianity is responsible for is reprehenisble. (Some of what I wrote below is already posted on your FB page, by the way, but the conclusion is not)

    The impression I get sometimes is that your indignation and those similar in disposition concerning how Christians view homosexuality can be summed up by the following statement, “how dare you view homosexuality as a sin!” As if the dominant view historically has been homosexuality is perfectly acceptable and has always been so and homophobic viewpoints are not, are in fact an anomaly.

    The traditional Christian viewpoint however is homophobic and for good reason: hair-splitting scholasticism aside, the Bible is pretty unambiguous about its opinion on homosexuality. And, even if it is more ambiguous than I give it credit for, the many translations of it are unambiguous. Who knows, perhaps Paul was referring to something other than homosexuality in Romans 1, but if so, it’s not as clear as those Christians embarrassed by it would like to think.

    Only since the 60s, along with other civil rights issues, has the Christian Church begun to address the issue as to its moral status; until then, it was a given that homosexuality was immoral or, in DSM nomenclature, a mental illness. This traditional view, as much as you personally hate it, is still the dominant view, at least that’s the impression I get, Western Europe notwithstanding. It may be frustrating that most Christians don’t view their Christianity the same way you view yours, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that they are interpreting it, traditionally. This tradition is just that, a tradition, and traditions are harder to argue with than original authorial intent, if we can ever really know for sure what Paul’s original intent was or what the context was when he wrote this damning Scripture.

    I am not a Christian so I am not writing this in defense of the homophobia that Christianity is 100% culpable for spreading. All Christians, not just *those* Other Christians, need to take responsibility for the oppression their religion is responsible for.

    The only means to reform on this issue is to admit that your religion is responsible for the pain this person who wrote the letter has had to suffer. To realize that even if the Bible writers meant what it appears they meant, that their understanding of the nature of homosexuality is not the same as ours, i.e. that it is not a choice, but something an individual is born as, same as a heterosexual is born a heterosexual. This goes for its condemnation on alcoholics, as well.

    Can’t you just say the science was bad back then and that it clouded their view of the phenomena of homosexual love, instead of retrofitting our current views onto writers from a very different time writing in a very different context? This seems to me the more loving and honest thing to do. i mean, it’s not like the Bible hasn’t been wrong on other issues that science had to clarify for us.

    • Dirk

      RayC,

      Given the support the Christian churches have lent to the Ugandan attempts to murder us, given the appalling degree of torture to which American children are still subjected (electroshock! in 2011!) I see no reason why John should change his position by one iota.

      There is no one, single, Christian tradition on same-sex love. There has never been on single, agreed upon position on what the Bible means regarding Paul’s statements on us homosexuals.

      That the hateful Christians have succeeded so brilliantly in their revisionist attempts to make it seem as though all this new-fangled love and charity is modern and European speaks volumes about the depth of ignorance and the effectiveness of propaganda.

      I place the Christians trying to enact the Kill the Gays Bill in Uganda on the same level as the Nazis. That’s not a reason to scream Goodwin’s law, that’s a reason to sit down and comprehend that we are still being tortured, raped, beaten and murdered by “good Christians”.

      • RayC

        Dirk,

        I have no issue with admitting ignorance on this matter. I realize there is evidence that demonstrates that homosexuality has gone through an array of different understandings in Western culture. My main point is, however, that whether or not there have been a variety of understandings and different points on the spectrum of tolerance throughout Christian history does not take away from the fact that TODAY many Christians buy wholesale into the homosexuality as aberrant idea and that the Bible isn’t always crystal clear on the matter, which muddies things. This naturally leads many to the easy conclusion that homosexuality is immoral. The Church, until recently, has done little to discourage this and a lot to encourage it. Every Christian has the responsibility to carry this burden and do something about it, whether they count themselves as one of the traditionalists or not.

        • Dirk

          RayC, I certainly agree that all Christians bear a direct responsibility for putting an end to the torture, murder, rape, beating and abuse of homosexuals and the transgender.

    • Suz

      It’s not just, “How dare you view homosexuality as a sin?” It’s also, “How dare you do it in the name of a loving God?” Ignorant people can’t help fearing the unknown, but anybody should be able to recognize hypocrisy when they see it.

      • RayC

        I’m not sure I understand your comment, Suz.

        • Suz

          *The impression I get sometimes is that your indignation and those similar in disposition concerning how Christians view homosexuality can be summed up by the following statement, “how dare you view homosexuality as a sin!” *

          People who view homosexuality as a sin because they don’t understand it, are merely ignorant. Ignorance in good people can be forgiven because it’s curable.

          People who view it as a sin, and claim that’s the view of a loving God, are hypocrites. That’s not love, and it certainly isn’t divine love.

          • DR

            You are so smart.

          • Lili C

            Suz, THANK YOU for putting a concept inot words that I have struggled with for some time. One of those deals where i knew what I thought, but couldn’t think of the right way to express it. I love your statement that “Ignorance in good people can be forgiven because it’s curable”.

            I kow lot of good-hearted, loving poeple who genuinely care about people and genuinely try to be accepting and kind to everyone regardless of any isues they differ on, yet also genuinely believe that it is a sin to be glbt or to act on those feelings. They have been deeply overtly taught as well as covertly culturized to believe what they believe. Their oppinions have been informed by many trusted sources in their lives, inlcuding loved parents and trusted spiritual leaders. I may vehemently disagree with thm on this issue, and I may even think that they have caused hurt to others bywhat their words and action on this matter, but I cannot ring myself to spew hateful, judgemental things about them or call them names, etc. I myself have been on quite a journey in my spriitual life regarding my stance on questions of sexual orientation. In my younger, less confident years, I started out with a straight assumption that homosexuality was a sin, period. I never really felt fully comfortable i this belief, but truly thought it was what it was – the truth, whether I liked it or not. As I got older and became confident enough to question my faith and what I’d been taught, I advanced to the good old “hate the sin but love the sinner” notion. While I think this is a bogus conclusin, I also think it is a misguided landing place that people reach when they are caught by loyalty ot what they have always been taught and the instinctive sence that it is just not right. Eventually as I questioned, studied became friends with persons who were glbt who blew my stereotypes away, I eventually reached the conclusions I now live by, which are onb a par with most of the writers here. But I know that even when I believed things I now abhore, I was nevertheless a person who loved God, loved people, and sought to do the right thing. I was still a kind, caring person, albeit a misled one.

            I can tell you what did not sway my opinions one bit. Anyone who would have called me a stupid moron for what I beleived, who accused me of being hateful and vile, who presume d ot be superior to me because of the different conclusions they had drawn, these kinds of things whould not have helped me grow beyond a simplistic acceptance of what I’d been taught. they would have caused me to be resentful and stubborn and dig my heels in. I’m just sayin’.

            To LetterWriter, I just want to say God loves you more than you can fathom just the exactly the way you were created. furthermore, there are many poeple in this world – including a good number here on this blog, but also many more right in the world in which you have to live everyday, who would not condemn you for what you are. I cannot presume to tell you what choices you should make in regards to coming out, but I can only imagine that there must be a sweet relief in simply living honestly as exactly who and what you are, regardless of others’ opinions – but I also am keenly aware that that is easier said than done.

            I can also tell you I am dear friends with some folks who are glbt and respectful aquaintances with many more, and whenever the topic of thier life journey has come up many have told me it was quite painful and traumatic to come out, and that it led to many upleasant consequences and broken relatinoshipos, yet I don’t know a single one of them who has told me they regreted doing it, or that it would have been better to stay closeted and living a lie.

            I wish you peace, and love, and wisdom, on your own journey, and with the choices you must make for yourself.

          • vj

            Well, THANK YOU, Lili C for articulating a faith journey that so very closely matches my own :-)

          • Suz

            We’ve walked the same path.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I don’t think they are necessarily hypocrites. (In many cases it turns out that they are, but the meaning of “the view of loving God” is more than sufficiently fuzzy actually to allow all sorts of self-consistent theologies to lay claim to it.)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Sorry, that was supposed to read, “the view of ^a^ loving God”.

          • Suz

            Interesting point. I think the one’s who aren’t hypocrites probably fall into the “ignorant ” category, for lack of thought. If you believe God loves us and created us (our sexuality included) how can He hate his own creation? Once you consider this question, what are your choices? Many people ignore this question, and many people blatantly place the words in the Bible above the concept of a loving God. I guess what I’m trying to say is that those in denial of the serious nature of the question, can be lumped in with the ignorant. Does that make more sense?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            But when he created us, we were asexual beings. Our sexuality manifested later, and whether that occurs in a given case under divine or diabolic influence seems a legitimate question for Christians to contest.

    • Liza

      Just because it is “the traditional Christian viewpoint” doesn’t make the doctrine (dogma) correct. If that were true, we would still have slavery in the South and the earth would still bis basede flat. Just because a belief is based on the traditional viewpoint does not mean it can’t evolve into a new belief based on a new greater understanding of God’s deep and wide love for us.

      • Liza

        *sorry, I really should proof read my comments “earth would still be flat”.

        • Dirk

          It isn’t?

          I have several American relations who think the lunar landings were just good science fiction….

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

            Dirk, Traditionalism can become a millstone around our neck. Given the vast amount of knowledge that has been gained over the past 2,000 years and, only much more recently, the ability to share it with such ease…..given that the Dead Sea Scrolls weren’t found until the late 1940′s and early 1950′s, the First Council of Nicaea under Constantine clearly didn’t have these texts to consider their inclusion in the canon. How many other texts have been lost? The archeological, historical, cultural, and linguistic knowledge we have gained since the compiling of the Bible has shed insight on its meaning and context. To ignore this would be foolhardy. eg: We don’t treat snake bites today by erecting a statue of a serpent.

            Not to mention the intentional and categorical exclusion of women from Biblical interpretation and church leadership down through the age necessarily resulted in bias.

            The church of my youth chose to leave biblical scholarship and historical/cultural context on the doorstep of moral certainty. In their unyielding convictions, they choose to close their eyes to the ways the Divine continues to be revealed in the world today.

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

            I’m sorry, Dirk. I see you’re not arguing for Traditionalism. I misread the thread. My apologies.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Was the earth flat to begin with? Is it necessarily not in any case flat today? They may seem like silly questions, but much like a tree falling in an empty wood, they raise interesting philosophical questions, in this case about the way we think about things and translate thoughts into language, determine the truth of statements, and understand the nature of truth itself. In what way and to what extent is any thing flat? Might all of space and time be round? Is it even really meaningful to make a distinction among such forms in such cases? “But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down, and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.” (The Beatles)

          And now back to our regularly scheduled discussion of GLBT issues in the context of a Christian worldview and whatever that is supposed to mean.

      • RayC

        You missed my point by a mile, Liza. I’m not arguing for acceptance of the traditional view. I’m arguing against it and adding to that the indictment of the Entire Christian Body’s responsibility for it to boot. Personally, I eschew the relevancy of Christianity in modern society, but I’m not going to push that point because I also respect other people’s spiritual needs. Personally, I don’t have an issue with homosexuality and there is nothing, no text or doctrine or tradition, that gets in the way of my acceptance of the legitimacy of homosexual love.

      • DR

        I love this comment. Can we just copy and paste this comment everywhere? How about in space?

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      “100% responsible for.”

      I don’t know about that. In our culture, “homosexuality is bad” used to be a science-thing, not just a religious thing and the science has been debunked/changed since. I would say the attitudes/interpretations of branches of Christianity and some branches of Judiasm, and perhaps even some of Islam are responsible for the homophiba in Western culture now, but that they’re not necessairly the whole of the root.

      I watch a lot of travel and educational shows. I read – and read about other cultures and there are cultures that are not influenced by monotheism that have and have had their share of homophobia. Take modern Japan, for instance. It’s religious roots lie in Shinto and Buddhism (which, from what I know don’t have much to say about gay), the ” Western” religions are rare there and the culture is mostly secular. (It’s one of those places when polled come up with a high number of “atheists” but I’m not sure their athiesm is the same complete a-supernaturalism of the west). I’m a big fan of anime, comics and games that come out of the Land of the Rising Sun (and also sushi), and have enjoyed learning things about the actual culture. The novice anime-fan may be deceived into thinking that the Japanese are ultra-free with their sexuality and acceptance because of the rather frank and over the top media that comes out of there, but from what I know, in actual life, gay people are subject to being ostracized a bit. This doesn’t have much, if anything to do with religion and is more of an attitude of “dislike for things that go against the flow.”

      I was watching something on NatGeo (when I still had that station) about transsexuals. One of the people the crew followed was a young woman (formerly male) in Thailand or somewhere. She noted how ostracized she was, how she was treated badly by people in her culture and how she was thought to have brought shame upon her family. It was noted that, in the cultural Buddhism of the place, she wasn’t “sinning” but she, other transsexuals and homosexual people were considered “unlucky” becuase they won’t create a legacy or give their parents grandchildren.

      So, I think homosexuality can cross cultures – it seems every culture has a reason for looking badly upon the “other.”

      • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        Er, “homophobia” can cross cutlures.

        ARgh! This is what I get when my guy comes in wanting to talk when I’m trying to finish up a post!

      • RayC

        Shadsie,

        You are right. Christianity does not corner the market on homophobia. But, in our culture, it does and that’s because those in power, politically and in the media, are primarily of a Judeo-Christian outlook.. Islam is not too far behind, but you don’t find too many of them running the show in this country.

    • DR

      Ray you’ve made this assertion on John’s Facebook as well and I’d ask you again – where is he denying our collective culpability? It is as if you’ve not read his other essays on the subject or you’re being willfully ignorant of the larger point he’s made time and time again.

      We get it. It doesn’t matter if a handful of us are indignant. We are still part of an organization that is involved in systemic homophobia and that impact means that we are still – by association, particularly if we’re giving money to the church – culpable. No one is in denial about that. No one’ anger is hiding from the larger issue. This is both a systemic issue that will take decades to change, power structures like Christianity that are as deeply embedded into our culture, our legal and educational systems act like battleships, they are slow to turn. But there is also much work to be done on the inside, Christians don’t tend to listen to non-Christians very well. So for Christians to be leading the righteous anger path in our own ranks is not only the responsible, ethical thing to do – I don’t want non-Christians having to clean up our mess – it’s also the most effective way of making change occur.

      • RayC

        DR,

        I reacted emotively to John’s expletive filled FB post, I suppose. It just confused me because of the impression it gave me, kind of like: he was shocked by the expected. Anyway, I obsessed. I do stand by the things I said, but I’m sure John is on the same page.

        You know, I’m going through this period of “why Christianity?” I mean, what’s the point? And this whole homophobia issue drives this confusion over Christianity home. I’m not a Christian at the moment, but was a very active one in the past. I wonder, can’t we do all these good things, like accept homosexual love as normal as heterosexual love without Christianity, rather than try to fix something that seems so broken?

        • DR

          Thanks for clarifying. Makes sense.

          Your story is your s tory, ray and there’s a lot of people who believe as you do. I’m going to take your question about Why Christianity as a comment that was phrased in the form of a question but it’s worth a response.

          There is a lot to believe about Christianity, a buffet of good and evil things that have resulted as a result of Jesus and the institution that’s been built around him. If you want to feast exclusively on the evil that’s been a result of the corruption and mental illness that tends to house itself in the church and believe as a result, there is no redemptive value (so to speak)? You can do that, it’s a reasonable posture that good people who care about the world take. There is also a very different experience from those of us who don’t ignore the evil and actively fight to get it off the table but also have some experienced some transformative dishes that keep us engaged. That doesn’t have to be your story – you get the last word on that. But yours doesn’t have to be anyone else’s either.

  • Kara

    John, thank you for this. I know you’re aware of this, but your response here is going to help people far beyond the original letter writer. Hell, I’ve been in an affirming church for a good long while now, and this still helped me a lot to hear. What it will do for those who don’t have a strong and affirming Christian support system will be far beyond that.

    Sending a special prayer of blessing to both you and the letter author this morning, John.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I feel a little like when Christians are telling atheists, “Please, just because we disagree doesn’t mean all Christians are a$$holes about it.” I keep wrestling with this one (straight person with gay friends & acquaintances), and so far my conscience won’t let me make the jump to “no it’s not a sin.” I’m somewhere in the I-don’t-knows…but what I am absolutely certain of is that the letter writer is most certainly secure in her salvation and is utterly and completely accepted by God. I can’t say what God’s journey for her holds in the way of sexuality–I think that’s kind of God’s territory (and hers of course). As I’ve said in previous posts I’ve seen gay folks “fight it,” and others find a partner and call it a day…and I really can’t say that one way is better than the other, and I do wonder if maybe it’s different for different people. The great thing about being in Christ is that if God has a problem with any issue in her life, He is quite big enough to gently move in her heart and let her know…and also to guide her through whatever process it is he intends her to go through. So I’m not gonna sit here and say, “Hey, Letter-Writer-Girl, you need to change.”

    Rather I think I will say, “Hey, Letter-Writer-Girl, I don’t know what God has in store for you on your journey, but you are loved and accepted here. Welcome.”

    Please be gentle. With greatest respect…

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      In my humble opinion, I think its pretty clear that one way IS better than another. To see someone struggle, alone, their entire life because someone else told them being gay was a sin – that’s just horrible. No one should have to suffer like that. To see someone put aside human condemnation, accept God’s love, find a soulmate and be happy together – THAT is beautiful. One way IS better than the other. One way is a life stacked to the tippy-top with lonely and the other is the way most of us are really meant to live, partnered, bonded, loving and being loved.

      Just sayin.

      • skerrib

        Maybe, but for my friend who struggles with same sex attraction (his words), he’s been down many roads, and “fighting it” is the path that he chose, and that he feels God has him on. True he doesn’t have romantic love at this point (that I’m aware of), but make no mistake he is loved by about a zillion friends & family, and I think he would say his life is happy and full. Not saying (nor would he say) everyone should do it his way…but I don’t want to discount his journey either. I mean, I cant imagine not being married–to me it sounds lonely–but there are those who are content and single. If I go “wow, how horrible for you” I’m projecting my own feelings onto them (and I might get kicked in the shins). They have to go with what they feel God has for them, just like I do.

        • Dirk

          One need not discount his journey to be aware of the simple fact that he has been horribly tortured – mentally and, quite probably physically and this abuse has led to a state of conflict in his very soul.

          My patience with any Christian who in any way justifies the hatred towards us gays and the transgender has worn so thin it can no longer even be measured in nanometers.

          • skerrib

            I can’t speak to the nature of his inner conflict, but I do trust the choices he has made for himself. Same with the acquaintance who’s been with his partner happily for 10 years.

            I thought I was dialoguing–am I being hateful? I really don’t appreciate the implication.

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            I don’t think you were being hateful, I just wanted to point out that your friend with the inner conflict is indeed hurting, even it if is by his choice, and that I don’t agree that the two alternatives are equal. Nothing in your tone implies that you’re being disagreeable – hopefully you’re not reading that in my response.

          • skerrib

            Not at all Barnmaven–Dirk’s remark about Christians justifying hatred toward GLBT folks made me uneasy, that’s all, cuz I’m very much in favor of kindness.

            My friend seems really comfortable with his choices & says that for him they’ve been the right ones. And again, not at that they’re the right ones for anyone else. But I think after all his searching and wrestling to come to this point, it would be equally offensive for someone to tell him that he’s wrong and needs to do it a different way.

            My original point was just to say that there are some of us who, even though we haven’t come to a place of affirming homosexual acts as not sinful (that old traditional interpretation of the Bible, I guess), we really do want to offer love and friendship, and not to go around getting people to try to change their orientations.

          • DR

            I think that some find your last paragraph – as homosexuals – something they simply cannot experience who believe gay sex is sinful. It’s my sense that some would question if if love and kindness can live in the same room as the belief that their “sex acts” are “sinful”.

            That both exist for you? That could be true, I don’t know, I’ll take your word for it. That gay men and women could *receive* that love and kindness from you if knowing that you believe the way they have sex is sinful? That’s a question for them. For me, asking them to make that leap is pretty huge.

          • Mindy

            You are at least willing to listen, skerrib – but I get what Dirk is saying. That you can STILL not wrap your brain around the fact that a state of being canNOT be a sin is hard to, well, wrap my brain around. You have a gay friend who has been happily with a partner for 10 years, and still you can’t bring yourself to say that their commitment to each other is not a sin? Your friend who is torturing himself by pretending to be something he’s not would never have even considered doing such a thing, were it not for the Church telling him he is somehow damaged. THAT is hateful.

            You were not directly hateful, and while I am glad to see that your mind is somewhat open, I also find myself dismayed that someone who is open to the dialogue and has gay friends can’t let go of something that has been shown, over and over, to be ridiculous.

          • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

            Well and see, that feels tricky to me sometimes too. I see it as a difference of theology, and I certainly don’t claim to be all-knowing in the way of theology. But I need the space to wrestle with it, you know? To say, “Gosh, I’m not sure what to think about this, what does it look like in my life if I believe this way or that? Do I go with this interpretation, or that one?” And so on.

            As for not being able to love my friends completely…I dunno. My views with regard to any sex outside of marriage are pretty traditional, but my friends & family who have (or had) sex outside of marriage don’t seem too hung up on my views about it. Like DK said, it would be up to my friends to decide if they could accept my difference in opinion. And if they couldn’t, that would be sad, ‘cuz I am awesome. ;)

            No but seriously, all any of us can do is be there for each other, right? If an issue is too big to remain friends, then it’s a bummer, but it does happen, and maybe we’re better off finding different friends anyway. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like I’m secretly judging them or holding them back from true freedom, anything. Similarly, to be told, “You MUST believe such-and-such, or we’re not friends”…well, I have control issues and I need to be able to believe things honestly and earnestly for myself, so I guess we’re not friends.

          • DR

            Skerrit, let me ask you a question (I’m assuming you’re a man, just reverse the example if I’m incorrect).

            If someone found you to be evil because you were a man and you acted on being a man in the traditional ways and they found that not of God – the way you wanted to earn a living for a woman, nurture and protect a family – would you be able to be friends with that person? Would you be able to accept that they loved you and supported you while believing at the same time, you being a man and acting on it was of the devil?

          • DR

            In my world, asking to be loved and supported for who I am is not having any kind of “control” issues.

            I disagree in part with Mindy. I find this position to be almost more damaging to the gay community than outright condemnation. I know a lot of Christians justify this position, you believe that you can maintain the position that gays and lesbians are in some way, evil (there’s no middle ground here something is either in the image of God or not and if it’s not, it’s evil). Their “gayness” is treated like a doctrinal issue and that it has no impact on the level of love, support and intimacy you offer them.

            And if they somehow reject it saying “Wow this isn’t just a doctrine we disagree on – this is my life. This is me. This is you telling me that some part of me is intrinsically evil, some part of me that can’t change and if I don’t act on it, I’m not only alone but a huge part of me is evil which I have to contend with – alone.” If you reject that? They have control issues. It’s a relationship created by your own rules which i guess they can participate in if they have to, it wouldn’t be the first time. African-Americans had to “get along” with white people in order to survive so it wouldn’t be the first time. But I’m genuinely puzzled by those of us who would believe that considering someone as evil and offering them love and support is anything but mutually exclusive.

          • skerrib

            Well, and that’s where I struggle with the whole thing, to be honest DR. I’m a woman, and a drummer, and all sorts of things that have been deemed “off” by various people thru my life, so I see a little bit what you mean about there being a disconnect.

            I don’t have a reasonable answer for you. This is why I say I’m somewhere in the I-don’t-knows. In Galatians Paul says there is no

            longer male, female, slave, master, etc–

            Christians are all one in Christ Jesus. So that’s

            where I’m thinking I can claim to attempt to

            bridge the disconnect. Whether or not

            homosexuality is a sin issue is, like, peanuts compared to identity in Christ. Even the very fundamentals of our identity–gender, sexuality, etc–are secondary to Christ’s work in the believer, making me free to show God’s love.

            Which I do in my bumbling & klutzy way, which is why I need Jesus.

            OK, dialing back from the Christianese…that’s pretty much all I’ve got DR. I understand it’s

            likely not enough to bridge the gap, but I hope

            it helps.

          • Mindy

            DR, I can only say that I totally see your point. I gave skerittb the benefit of the doubt because she is willing to have the conversation, but I completely understand the insidiousness of attitudes like hers. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out how one can love a gay friend and still consider such a significant part of their identity evil.

            I admit to bafflement at that piece of the equation. Skerritb, what are you afraid of? What do you fear will happen if you just let go of that outdated theology?

          • skerrib

            Ummmmm…well, yeah, OK. Great, I’m fixed! Thanks for that.

            It’s not an issue of anything happening. I just don’t know what I believe. I can’t in good conscience change interpretations because I haven’t researched it enough, frankly. It’s only in the past few years that I even knew there was anything other than the traditional interpretations of the standard passages…now how do I know that they are credible? It’s entirely possible they are, but I haven’t found out for myself yet (insert standard busy life excuses here)

          • skerrib

            Sorry–fat fingers on the reply button. Basically, when I start saying “I no longer think homosexuality is a sin,” I’m gonna need to be able to back it up. Right now my argument would be along the lines of “yeah, but that’s an outdated interpretation of the scriptures.” But I have nothing on why it’s outdated or why a ‘gay-friendly’ interpretation is any more valid. So I’ll be backed into a theological corner by my mDiv friends quicker than you can say “Wow, I got skewered on John Shore’s blog.”

            In the meantime, again and again, the best I

            can do intellectually is “I don’t know,” and then to offer kindness and friendship when given the opportunity.

          • Suz

            That’s OK, skerrib. And honest as well. It’s a journey. You don’t know where you’ll’ end up, but you are moving. That’s good. Here’s a bit of my journey:

            I’ve had gay friends for many years, and I can tel you flat out that I am more comfortable with gay males than I am with gay females. I’ve spent years trying to figure out why. Am I repressing my own homosexuality? No, I’m pretty sure I’m straight. I am strongly attracted to males, and over the years I’ve even tried to imagine myself attracted to females. ***It was a scary experiment – what if I turned out to be bi or something?! EEEK! That’s OK for others, but I’m “normal,” right?*** Sure, I can appreciate a beautiful body of either gender, but only male bodies turn me on. And if a gay female happens to be attracted to me, (or am I flattering myself…) well, that might feel a bit awkward as a new experience, but I can pretty much ignore it when men (except my husband) are attracted to me, so what’s the problem? That’s a small issue for me to just get over; it’s nothing to fear.

            Here’s another little confession. I can honestly say I am slightly repulsed by the thought of homosexual “sex acts.” Not fearful, but totally turned off. Why? Because I’m heterosexual, and I was born that way; I had no choice, and as I get older I become more aware of my sexuality, and how deeply rooted it is. THE SAME GOES FOR GAYS. I cringe at the thought of having sex with a woman, and so do most gay men. For straight women and gay men, sex with women is just wrong. For straight men and gay women, sex with men is equally wrong. So how can I possibly deny that someone else’s sexuality is less valid than mine? I can’t. As a Christian, I believe God gave each of us our sexuality, and that sexuality was meant to be expressed in loving, intimate relationships. I can’t bring myself to believe that a loving God would create people whose sexuality was INTENDED BY HIM to be suppressed. God certainly allows suffering in this world, but does he create it? I don’t believe he does. Therefore, how can it be a sin to express one’s sexual personality the way it was designed, presumably by God himself.

            This is not me saying, “See, I’m right. Keep thinking about it and confront your fears, then you’ll agree with me.” This IS something for you to consider while you’re on this journey. “Accepting” something that is totally foreign to you personally, takes time, and maybe you never will accept it. But you are clearly a compassionate and intelligent person, you are asking all the right questions, and you’re trying to find answers that are honest in your heart. Nobody could ask more of you.

            *OK, here goes! “submit comment.” Push the damn button already, Suz!!!

          • skerrib

            Thanks Suz, I appreciate it.

          • DR

            Look, it’s a process. I understand and thanks for being willing to enter in. I was where you were at. My sense of urgency is only because this interpretation of Scripture is more than just a doctrinal difference in the world, it’s hurting people in so many ways. Really good people who are held hostage to this belief and they aren’t even Christian. I’m frustrated that more Christians don’t care about that to move themselves out of the middle lane because only you can do it. And when you do, it shifts incrementally and maybe one more gay kid won’t go to bed tonight wishing he would die. OK? That’s the best I can do. I get it’s a process but it would help a little if you acknowledged the doctrine’s impact on this community, I feel like people of Christ would have the integrity of doing that. It’s important to a lot of us that you do because we’re out here dealing with those kids and because of what you believe and are on the fence about. I know this feels aggressive to you and I can’t help that. I’m writing it out of a sense of urgency, it’s not about you or you feeling hated, etc. You seem like a very kind, thoughtful person and it’s hard for me to say this kind of thing to people like you. But I have to. Thanks for listening.

          • DR

            The level of grace those of us who are Christian are given by the GLBT community during these discussions always leaves me a little stunned (this being another example). Our collective church has done nothing to stop those of us in our tent to support the actual murder of Ugandan gay men and women – our actual churches here in America started that – and yet you and others are here, willing to engage, to educate. It reminds me of the kindness Christ showed those who were doing so much damage, the patience he showed, the constant focus on what is right, the commitment to what is good, what he was really all about. Thank you for that example of the Grace our church is allegedly founded upon.

          • Mindy

            Hear, hear.

  • Allen

    Dear letter writer,

    I hope John’s response has given you hope. I’m gay (always have been) and Christian (since I was 12, officially). Every interpretation of the Bible indicates that following Jesus is a choice, my own experience is that being straight was never an option. I chose to follow Jesus, God’s love got me through some very difficult, painful and lonely times when God was the only one who really “knew” me. It’s very difficult to be wholly part of a church and keep this secret because of what the other people there would decide about you, I know.

    As you’ve figured out by now if not before, there are churches where this is not an issue (in the sense of a reason to exclude you). There are Christians who take “love God with all your heart, strength and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself” more seriously than other bits of the Bible, and I think they are on the right track — and that sounds like your own concept of Christianity.

    Don’t give up hope! My husband/partner and I have been together 21 years, and he is an Ordained, openly gay minister in a protestant mainline church. As you pray about this, try to keep your questions open-ended, God seems to respond better to such prayer than to yes/no questions, in my experience. You are more precious than anything in the eyes of God, and I think you’re pretty amazing too, You, your family, your church, and the woman who is waiting to share her life with you are all in my prayers.

  • Troy

    I ditched the church and god. Now I am now an atheist, and have never been happier. It makes no sense to keep trying to fix something that is crap in the first place. Stop trying to live in a system built on discrimination. Get out of the church, and find real peace like I did. To know god, is to no god. Peace and good luck.

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      But what if the person DOES NOT WANT to become an atheist?

      What if they CANNOT, as in, they have something deep in their bones that says “God” in one form or another exists? Maybe they’re just been “too brainwashed” or that they’re “weak-minded” or whatever other epithet you want to throw their way? But what if it’s as strong a part of them (perhaps even something in the physical brain structure) as being gay is?

      Some people don’t want to de-convert anymore than you’d like to re-convert. Sorry. No, not sorry!

      Maybe they’ve met a lot of pushy atheists that make them think “Well, you know, maybe they are right, but I don’t ever want to become one because I’d rather get shot in the head if atheism means I’ll become that much of a jerk?”

      Although I’m not gay, I am a bit agnostic in my own Chrisitanity – and well, let’s just say that the biggest barrier to may becoming a “full human being” as some athiests my say is – said athiests.

  • Christa

    Just as I am, without one plea,

    but that thy blood was shed for me,

    and that thou bid me come to thee,

    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Just as I am, and waiting not

    to rid my soul of one dark blot,

    to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Just as I am, though tossed about

    with many conflicts, many doubts,

    and fighting fears within, without,

    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

    and seeking healing for my mind,

    yet all I need in thee I find,

    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Just as I am, thou will receive,

    will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

    because thy promise I believe,

    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Just as I am, thy love unknown

    has broken every barrier down;

    now, to be thine, and thine alone,

    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    (words by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871)

  • Christa

    You do not have to be good.

    You do not have to walk on your knees

    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

    You only have to let the soft animal of your body

    love what it loves.

    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

    Meanwhile the world goes on.

    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

    are moving across the landscapes,

    over the prairies and the deep trees,

    the mountains and the rivers.

    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

    are heading home again.

    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

    the world offers itself to your imagination,

    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–

    over and over announcing your place

    in the family of things.

    (“Wild Geese,” by Mary Oliver)

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

      I love this poem……and Mary Oliver knew something about loving herself and finding a mate and doing life her way with authenticity and delight.

  • http://efenz.wordpress.com Ellen

    I am also a lesbian PK (preacher’s kid), and though the tradition I was brought up in did not make a point of homosexuality as a sin, when I began to hear of it, thanks to the media, I was horrified to think that who I am, the life I’ve lived, was based on something God hated. All the ways that I had cared for people and tried to live a life that was modeled to me by my parents and the many, many church people who surrounded me growing up was somehow negated by whom I loved in an intimate way?

    Rather than make me wonder if homosexuality was right or wrong, it has made me question whether being a Christian is right or wrong. If a religion is so intent on convincing the world that God’s plan for us is something other than who we are in our deepest selves, then I’m not sure I can follow in its footsteps.

    I have been in this letter-writer’s shoes and know the damage these ideas can do to a soul, especially one that KNOWS that it is on the right track, that it is doing the work it was sent here to do. We must look for more evidence of what is true than the words of an ambiguous book. We are here! Look at US!!!

  • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    I am glad for the Internet, because I can encounter things I never would have in my non-Internet life.

    It’s stories like this one that assuaged my own bigotry, not that I didn’t behave like an ass early on in my Internet life – due to parroting the Baptists I used to hang out with. (Though I would like people to remember that they are human, too, and the ones I knew were sweet people, even if I don’t agree with everything they said anymore). One pastor I knew described homosexuality as “rebelling against the way God made you.” (Plugs an sockets, you know). I was convinced that being gay was just rebellion.

    The world does that, too. It seems that most gay people (on the Internet and in the media) act like “rejecting religion” or at least Christianity is the only way, like running away from an abusive parent, so the “how can you be both gay and Christian and not utterly self-hating?” is something of a meme on both sides of the fence. Kind of like Log Cabin Republicans, I guess.

    It was reading the stories of the “contradictions” that got me to change my mind, to really look at those “other interpretations” of scripture. You (letter writer) are obviously not in rebellion – you’re obviously bending your mind and heart to follow God, so you debunk the “gay as rebellion” theory right there!

    The more I think about it, maybe this, like a lot of things, is a problem of dealing with change/accepting modern knowledge. People like to cite Paul for the gay thing, yet they ignore everyone looking like Muslims and Orthodox Jews in church (women with the head coverings and all), and most churches these days ignore that bit about women not being able to speak in church (and consider it a culturally-sensitive thing that applied to a particular time). We know a lot more about the psychology and brain-phisiology that goes into sexuality now than people did back then. Then, there are some people who think that when Christ was addressing eunichs (and telling them that they were fine the way they were) that he was really addressing natural homosexuals…

    I once knew a guy (pastor) who said that he “didn’t believe in mental illness, only demons.” I’m glad I didn’t know back then what I know about myself now (I’m bipolar) – and while that man knew some of my “crazy” tendencies (even back then, before I knew what I was), he never saw me in the throes of a full out panic attack. I’m sure if he had, he’d have tried to exorcise me. (He also believed that life six thousand years ago was like the Flinstones, too).

    Some people are inclined to take things very literally and are hostile to new knoweledge – perhaps they fear that anything discovered in the secular “goes against God” while the rest of us recognize it as us just finding out more about God/God’s universe.

  • pdxtran

    This tormented young woman needs to know that if she seeks outside of the evangelical/fundamentalist world, she will find many Episcopal, UCC, ELCA Lutheran, and other mainline churches where out gays and lesbians are accepted and welcomed as full members and even allowed to become clergy.

    I happen to have engaged in a profession (college teaching) and leisure activities (music and theater) that bring me into frequent contact with GLBT people. It is clear to me that their sexual orientation is not some “sin” but an integral part of who they are, which has to mean that God made them that way.

  • Roger McClellan

    This post should be required reading in every church in the country. Period.

  • Michael

    My relationship with christianity has always been periodic. At the height if its period i am prepared to become chrisitan (again, i was raised catholic but not confirmed) and seek a degree t0 become an minister. And yet at the trough of my experience is a deep hatred of christianity, a misguided one i know, for my true anger is directed at the hateful christians, and how they spread their ignorance under the guise of truth, their hate under the guise of love, and their lies under the guise of the word of god.

    from time to time my faith in christians and christianity is briefly restored.

    this post is one such instance.

    sadly, i know it will not last.

    perhaps the bad ones,

    have beaten me?

    • http://www.zahnzone.blogspot.com Lisa Z

      I can so, SO relate to what you’re saying! I did once study for the ministry, and at times feel my heart sing to do so again. But it’s a difficult path, to be reconciled to Christianity. To Christ is one thing, to Christianity and the Church, quite another. Thank God for Christians like John Shore, and you, and so many of us I’m finding online. And thank God for our hope sometimes, at least, being restored. God is Love, love only.

    • DR

      Thank you for this. It seems to be the rational response by someone who has expectations of integrity when it comes to the idea of a loving God as well as paying attention to the spasms we as a church seem to have around these issues, yet seem to have no enduring change. I’ve been there too, these discussions with people who’ve such cognitive dissonance when it comes to this topic in particular make me question if this whole thing is a sham. But I guess for me, I want to believe and I’ve had some experiences in my life that have a very supernatural quality. So belief is a choice that serves me. But one can easily see how it wouldn’t be that way for you.

      I’m so sorry for what you’ve experienced from us. I’d do anything to repair it. I know I can’t.

  • http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm B

    I have found this site: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm very useful in studying the verses and translation issues related to controversial topics. I’m straight, but my revulsion at Christianity’s homophobia nearly led to a crisis of faith for me – would have, if I hadn’t been able to find good ways to refute it.

    I came across several other sites in my research, but I can’t remember them now. Look up other Christian gays and lesbians though, they are out there and writing and some are quite fascinating scholars.

  • http://talkingonthethink.wordpress.com Sigo

    I believe that anyone who is truly interested in the what the Bible has to say about homosexuality — or if this is truly an burning issue for someone — then I would expect that person to delve deeper than what the surface of translated words can possibly manifest without arrogating unto oneself an understanding (of both Grace and the topic) than he possesses.

    While I no longer apply the label ‘christian’ to myself, and I’m exploring other options, I find myself ministering at a remarkable rate. Of late, my ex-wife found herself in a situation where a family member has “turned out gay.”

    My strong recommendation was that she set aside her judgments and use every moment and every effort as a “getting to know God” opportunity.

  • http://sageandsass@wordpress.com Sam

    Oh honey, you don’t go to hell for sin, if you did there wouldn’t be a single christian in heaven. You go to hell for not accepting Jesus right? That’s oversimplifying but it covers it I think. And from what I read in your letter, you got that covered better than most. Do you honestly think God would have given you the Holy Spirit if he hated you and thought you were an abomination? Forget what others say is right, take it to God and be satisfied with the answer He gives you. I was raised with the exact beliefs you are talking about and then I went to beauty school…no joke…I came into contact with several people of the homosexual persuasion, but one in particular taught me so much. A man who came to be a very dear friend of mine up unitl the day he died from AIDS related complications. He was raised catholic by a devout mother who loved him more than life itself and never missed a day of crying sincere fearful tears over his soul. He cried his own over the same fear. He could not reconcile who he was with the God He was introduced to. He would go back and forth between abstinence and wild abandon because of it. And died thinking he would never see the God he loved so much. But, here’s the important part, he NEVER questioned whether or not he was born that way or if it were possible to be “healed” of it. And that is where I learned that it is not a choice. I do not know of anyone who would willingly choose the crap the world dishes out to homosexuals.

    Be yourself, talk to God, serve Him and let Him sort the rest out. You are fine.

  • Beri

    The Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination found by Rev. Troy Perry in the 1960′s, is a Christian church that has two locations in the Philippines. http://mccchurch.org/ourchurches/find-a-church/asia-and-pacific-islands-listing/

    Quoted from it’s website: At MCC,we believe that even in our humanness, we are holy. We are liberated from other people’s definitions of who we are. We are made both body and spirit. We believe that our sexuality is a holy gift from God so we no longer distance our bodies from our experience with God. We are a people who proudly participate in the communion of body and spirit. http://mccchurch.org/overview/our-purpose/

    MCC has been very helpful on my journey from an evangelical background to finding spiritual fulfillment as a gay Christian. The United Church of Christ also has open and affirming churches which cherish the full inclusion of homosexuals in the Life of Christ.

  • Mindy

    So many beautiful responses here. I’d like to take issue with Dallas on something, though, and suggest that when he says “you can’t say what we ‘love’ is always right,” he is confusing love with desire and the various manifestations of that. Like ‘crave’ and ‘covet.’ Or ‘lust after.’

    Pedophiles may born with a problem in their brain wiring that will, when they become adults, turn into lust for children. That is not love, and should never be confused with such. The craving for drugs or alcohol an addict feels is not love. The lust for thy neighbor’s wife – nope, not love. The driving desire for money and power, definitely NOT love.

    Love is, as Christy so beautifully put it, to see God’s image reflected in another. And clearly, not to be changed, fixed or, I would add, controlled. Those who crave and covet and lust and desire are not loving – and if they think so, they are not seeing the true reflection of God, but God as seen through a funhouse mirror.

    • A’isha

      Mindy, that was perfect. When I read all the posts earlier I didn’t have time to think and write (one or the other only!). I’m really glad you voiced the thoughts that were rolling around in my brain about this. A lot of people get confused about this, no not all of our desires (lusts, cravings, etc) are not good. Our love, real love, is always good and from God.

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

      Very nice, Mindy. Your point about control is so important. It is prevalent in so many relationships today and while common, it is not at all healthy.

      Dethroning our ego in order to put another person at the center of our concern is the key to compassion.

  • http://sacredbe.blogspot.com/ rain

    thank you for writing this letter.

    thank you for sharing this letter.

    my heart breaks for all those wounded and wondering about the love of God…

    ::weeping::

  • LetterWriter

    Hi John, it’s me again. **smiling**

    I read your blog post, and it brought tears to my eyes. You said the perfect words. I also took time to read what others have to say.

    I am overwhelmed. My heart is filled with hope right now.

    I honestly believe that God made us meet (through the internet) for a reason. And the reasons are;

    For me to not feel guilty anymore.

    For me to have hope that I never ever had before.

    For me to… someday testify, though I’m a lesbian about this faith that I have in Jesus.

    (is there anything else?…)

    I do love our Savior, Jesus Christ, He’s the only ONE I turn to, when I have no one else to talk to.

    The first thing I do when I’m depressed from all this drama that life is giving me? I open up my bible, seek comfort through His words.

    I just pray, that one day, I could share this bravely to my mom and dad. I know they love me deeply. I know they only want what’s right in the sight of God. And I do know it’s gonna be hard for them to accept it, that being gay is okay. Especially when you are in a “conservative” church. Especially when you’re a pastor (my dad). Especially when you’re a devoted prayer warrior (my mom). But I pray, and I hope you pray with me, (and others too maybe) that God would open up their minds, their hearts to this matter. Not only listen to one side of it but to both sides. And I hope one day, they won’t be ASHAMED (though my mom didn’t really say she is, but I feel she is) that their daughter is a lesbian, and their son (yes my brother too) is gay. Yeah, my brother and I used to joke about this — why didn’t our souls or bodies just switched or something. **laughs**

    Anyway, It was nice sharing this to you John. Somehow my mind is at peace now.

    I must say — Thank God I found you.

    God bless!!

    Much Love,

    The lesbian (dyke, butch, the girl who looks like a man) who is a born-again Christian.

    • Sara

      Dear Letterwriter,

      I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t already been said so eloquently. I do want you to know that you are one of the most beautiful souls I’ve had to great blessing to learn about. Your humility, love and service are what we are called to give to God.

      Your orientation is a gift from Him too. Enjoy it, celebrate it, and seek your life mate. Live your life as the beautiful child of God that you are. I pray that you will find the partner, lover and life mate that God is planning for you soon.

      I hope you will share John’s blog with your brother. It’s a good thing you have each other for support and acceptance. God has richly blessed you!

      • Dave Bowling

        Well said Sara … I am in agreement and echo your affirmation of Letterwriter.

    • A’isha

      Dear dear Letter Writer, you’ve definitely come to the right place. I think God does bring certain people into our lives to help us at different times and agree that’s probably the case with you finding John’s blog.

      I pray that your parents will someday see what a gift God has given them by allowing them to parent two gay kids. How awesome that you have your brother to share this journey with! One place you may want to eventually share with them is canyonwalkerconnections.com Another is godmademegay.com. Both are excellent resources for people truly searching for what the Bible says about homosexuality.

      I just want to reiterate to you all the wonderful sentiments written here about what a beautiful, kind spirit you exhibit. Thank you so much for sharing part of your story here.

      Love to you,

      Another lesbian (dyke, somewhat butch) believer and follower of Jesus Christ!

    • Don Rappe

      Dear sister in Christ,

      It is a pleasure for me to read your letter because it gives such a powerful witness to the omnipotence of God and how all the powers of this world have been unable to drag you down. You are lifted up by the power of God as he showed us in his Christ. You need have no doubt that your sexual gift is from God since he has filled you, as you are, with his Holy Spirit. Legalistic interpretations kill, but, the Spirit gives Life. Cyberhugs to you from your straight old brother in Christ. If God requires nothing of you but loving mercifully, doing justly and walking humbly with your God, let no man or woman tell you otherwise. I pray that you will continue the powerful witness that you are already giving and also that you will find a helper suitable for you.

      With love,

      brother Don.

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

      Dear LetterWriter,

      Jesus loves you.

  • Todd

    I am not a Christian, although my late brother was. It was the one divergence in our lives, other than him being straight and me being gay. And neither of these differences occupied more than one afternoon’s conversation between us – because the important factor was love.

    I truly feel for my human brothers and sisters of all stripes as they navigate a difficult path to their own separate places of peace and reconciliation.

    And, in the words of my pagan peeps, Blessed Be.

  • Caryl

    ditto what lou said.

  • David

    Really eye opening post. I come from a pretty narrow Christian background and when I was younger if someone had handed around a petition endorsing the death penalty on all homosexuals I would have signed it.

    Somehow I’ve abandoned those beliefs so there is hope for us the human race. I don’t think homosexuality is ideal, but I’d certainly never condemn anyone for that lifestyle or force them to come out of it. If its wrong God can lead you out of it, but let him do it in his own time and by his own means, not through the ranting threats of some fundamental Christian who tells you you’re going to hell.

    They forget their own sins that God is tolerating.

    Bless you who struggle in this area and those who cease to struggle.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Oh, so close …

  • Rebecca

    Because pedophilia has been mentioned a couple of different times in this thread, I’d like to comment upon its nature. It seems that pedophilia is the “go-to” sexual proclivity of choice whenever someone invokes the “slippery slope” opposition to homosexuality, despite the fact that to compare the two is to compare apples and armadillos. When I talk about homosexuality, I am speaking of a relationship, freely chosen and entered into by two *consenting* adults. On the other hand, pedophilia is, by its definition, a non-consentual relationship between an adult and a child (children, of course, being legally incapable of rendering consent). Pedophiles are specificially sexually aroused by the lack of sexual development in children; pedophiles may be more aroused by males, or by females, or they may not care either way, so long as the victim is a child. Pedophilia IS NOT homosexuality practiced upon the young. Pedophilia is rape, pure and simple. It is estimated that some 1 in 5 male children is sexually molested, while 1 in 4 females are molested; statistically speaking, perpetrators are predominantly male, but female sexual predators are not uncommon.

    My supporting two homosexual adults’ free choice to love one another and revel in one another’s companionship has no bearing whatsoever upon my stance against pedophilia. There is no question in my mind that pedophilia, like any rape, is destructive and harmful and should not be tolerated. Providing a tolerant culture in which homosexuals may peacefully enjoy a life of love and companionship (and yes, sex, awesome, mind-blowing SEX) is neither destructive nor harmful, it is the right thing to do. But it WILL NOT lead down any “slippery slope” that finds us careening towards sex with children, farm animals, or household appliances, despite Rick Santorum’s assertions to the contrary.

    Letting go of long-held, baseless prejudices doesn’t mean we have to eliminate all standards, tossing them all out at once. That’s reductio ad absurdum, and you’ll hear it whenever an opponent to LGBT rights has nothing of substance to say. Some of the things we, as a society, deem “bad” are, indeed, bad (like, say, driving drunk or clopping one another over the head with baseball bats), and a common sense evaluation of them should convince us so. But a lot of things we’ve deemed “bad” have been inherited wholesale from less-enlightened generations before us, and those have got to go.

    Oh, and BTW, farm animals are also legally incapable of rendering consent. True fact.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      For the life of me, I can’t find any comment here that mentions pedophilia. Link(s), please?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Beautifully said, Rebecca.

      • Rebecca

        This wasn’t directed toward any poster in particular, John. I was reading earlier about love vs. lust, and apparently, a bit of conversational “food” broke loose from my mental molars regarding this issue. Lacking mental floss, I just gummed it out in the comments, instead ;)

  • Robert

    Thanks John…

    I am not a born again christian… but recently I realized, I have been living a life based on Jesus’s words and life. I have worked for the last 2 decades with the poor, homeless, forgotten and unwanted. I did it as an equal. I did it understanding that my life’s path and their’s was not all that different. I did it with respect, some self righteouness, a lot of humility, calmness and learnt to develop a sense of quietness.

    And I am gay.

    I have come to understand that one reason… likely the main reason… I chose the path I chose… was I needed to “validate” my existence. For years, I was suicidal, empty and beleived I was condemned… So as a way to prove that I was worthy to occupy space, to breath, to be… I began working with homeless teen… it was a good choice for me… but I also now realize that I am extremely resentful of the burden I had to carry just to “prove” to me, to god and to whoever…. that I had a right to be.

    I am now… I beleive at a crossroad. I no longer want to carry the burden, especially since I see most people these days are more interested in PR campainging preachers and priests than in people that actually do the work. I am a little tired that Christian Preachers who have done nothing cept write books and take royalities… wear the robes of sainthood. I am a little tired of the media chasing christians that proclaim their holiness and don’t have the resume to prove it. I am tired of their arrogance, intentional ingorance, lack of humility and scapegoating.

    I am not sure what I am going to do… but it would be nice if more christians would stop talking about Jesus and start living a life based on his actions… (and I am not talking about “vacation” ministries)…

    maybe it is time for Christian in general to put up and shut up.

    • Robert

      I was having a bad day… much better today… less self righteous… thanks

  • Zach

    My doxa and praxis are formed by the Bible. I change my beliefs as I understand Scripture more. I have a degree in Bible and I will be attending seminary for Counseling and Biblical studies. I am more than willing to change my views on homosexuality being a sin if someone can make a Biblical case that it is not sinful. As a matter of fact, if someone can properly explain Romans 1.18-32 and how it does not condemn homosexual behavior, I will convert to your mode of thinking. And I am being honest, I am not “afraid” of homosexuality or homosexuals. So, is anyone willing to step up to the plate on the Romans passage above? I pray someone is willing. And, please, don’t give me the tired arguments about proof-texting, just give me good, solid exegesis. Peace and blessings.

    • Don Whitt

      @Zack: Romans passage above? It’s Paul’s interpretation of God being angry about not getting all the obedience and attention Paul thinks God deserves. It’s a particularly unflattering depiction of God as a sort of jealous and vindictive OT-like God. Very anthropomorphic depiction of the Supreme Being, too.

      Like much of the Bible, it’s written in the context of another age, another lens through which all-too-frail humans attempted to grasp and document the infinite. Psychologically, my guess is Paul also had some major guilt about hanging out at the bath houses, if you know what I mean.

      Regardless of your feelings re. scripture, please don’t counsel homosexuals if you feel that way about them, i.e., that they are inherently sinful simply because they desire and love people of their gender. It would be sadistic to do so. Trust me on this one. God made them that way for a reason if God has a reason at all.

      • Zach

        Your response was as expected: not addressing my honest question. Sir, I would contend your assertion that it was a different time and understanding of homosexual behavior. Basically, all you’d have to read is Plato’s Symposium in order to gather the (negative) references to homosexuality in their culture. Time changes, but issues do stay the same and I believe there is nothing new under the sun. This is an age old debate and I would rather you engage the question than look down upon me from your mountain. Thank you.

        • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

          Zach, if you have a Bible based belief using the historical – grammatical hermeneutic method and you then state that God’s plan is that marriage / family / sex was intended to be exclusively male – female (that’s how the plumbing works) in the bonds of marriage and any other way is not the way God intended, you’re a narrow-minded, homophobic, bigot. It’s that simple. Liberal apologists have always attempted to “revise” biblical interpretation in order to “soften” or out-right remove God’s condemnation of sin. I will also agree they have done the same to condone sin too. You’re entitled to your opinion but if its contrary to the “politically correct” one, be prepared to experience the wrath of many on here.

          I have a brother-in-law who is gay and I love him dearly as do my kids and when they were young I had no problem with them staying at his place over-night and baby-sitting them etc. etc. I don’t get to see him very much (he lives 2,000 miles away) but when we do see each other I cherish the time togther. We have many similar interests and the practical jokes we pull together at big family reunions are classics.

          He knows where I stand on homsexuality and I know where he stands but that doesn’t effect our love we have for each other since we’re family.

          • Zach

            Brian,

            I see. It is rather sad: how intolerant is it to say that I am intolerant because I cannot accept a form of sexual behavior that goes against my conscience? And it’s not only that it goes against my conscience, it goes against the interpretation of the Scripture that I view as correct: historical-critical.

            It is sad when I no longer want to engage in conversation because the intellectual powers in the world (represented by Don above) flow against my reason. To hell with this debate. I will never accept their lifestyle.

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

            Zach, would scientific evidence that it is an inborn characteristic and not a “lifestyle choice” ever possibly change your mind?

          • Zach

            Christy,

            I apologize I was away from the computer for so long! I would have loved to dialogue with you, and I hope that we still get that chance. I admit, I wrote a lot of this out of a sadness of heart because I didn’t expect the kind of response I got from Don. I apologize.

          • DR

            You’ve already admitted that you will never accept the gay lifestyle so your openness to having a changed mind that you originally articulated was false. You exposed that, no one else did. So why are you still here? If it’s to argue, then cool – do it who cares, it doesn’t change the truth of anything. But at least be honest about why you’re here, it’s more authentic.

          • Don Whitt

            Zack- that was my honest opinion. It was not meant to sadden you, it was meant to enlighten you. I imagine many things make you sad because that box you live in has very little space for anything other than your own perspective. I have a teenage son with whom the current “parenting” dialog (all teens please roll your eyes) is regarding empathy. It’s my belief that many issues people have in life and relationships – even with God – stem from a lack of empathy – of not being able to truly understand another person’s or group’s perspective. That gives people a weird sort of permission to disrespect those people with whom they cannot establish an empathetic relationship. I believe that’s what your demonstrating. Gays aren’t asking you to be gay. They just want the same empathy and resultant respect that anyone else deserves on earth. You, on the other hand, are judging an entire group based upon archaic religious canon and, in so doing, showing no empathy or respect for that group. And therefore, you should feel sad. In fact, you should feel like a complete piece of crap for calling yourself a Christian and then showing no empathy for a group of humans who only wish to love, worship and live as the rest of us do.

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

            PS: You said, “I will never accept their lifestyle.”

            That’s your issue, my friend.

            Have you ever noticed how Jesus always made the marginalized people of his day the hero in his stories? Like in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. He could have made the religious leaders the hero. But he didn’t. He purposely chose to make the despised Samaritan the good neighbor. He was cool and subversive like that.

            If we updated that parable into our modern time he would still choose the poor, or the illegal immigrant, or a Muslim, or a gay man or lesbian woman to be the good neighbor….. and his point would still be just as powerful.

            “I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”

            — Anne Lamott

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            “To hell with this debate. I will never accept their lifestyle.” Do you think he’s actually pouting and kicking his feet when he writes this?

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

            I think he was pouting before he started.

          • RayC

            He knew the outcome of this debate before he even started it. His mind is cemented for pseudo-Christ and will forever remain so; this is how Zach wants it.

            But, even if the Bible did say that homosexuality was a sin, the writers of the Bible had no clue concerning the science of sexual orientation. I mean the Bible has been wrong on a plethora of other things that science had to correct along the way.

          • Zach

            Actually, I was getting a foot up the ass because I didn’t get the right kind of chocolate, but thanks for asking.

          • DR

            This is exactly the kind of manipulation my fellow Christians like to deploy when the conversation does not go according to their very well-defined terms. Let’s break this down:

            1. Zach first comes onto the forum expressing a “real desire” to have a dialogue as well as a “real openness” to changing his mind about Christianity. He sets the rules up for the standard of proof that he’s using (never mind that a lot of very devout Christians who are also Bible-believing use other standards in this conversation).

            2. People counter Zach though it’s not quite the way he wanted it or asked for it.

            3. Zach then attacks those who’ve engaged him passively-aggressively by talking about “how sad” it is that “they” are treating him so poorly! Do you notice he stops talking to any of us directly and immediately aligns with someone who shares his beliefs? An interesting choice for someone who is here for “real discussion” with countering views. Zach is up for anything! I guess that doesn’t include dialogue that doesn’t flow according to his sensibilities. Because when you insult a Christian like Zach? It’s about *your* intolerance.

            4. Zach has now conveniently decided that everyone here is intolerant with whom he engages. Not directly of course, he says it to BrianW so people can just read it.

            5. And we’re back to the petulant flounce with an insistence that it’s really *our* fault that Zach didn’t change his opinion. It’s our fault that he’s not googled what he’s looking for and in about 2 seconds, discovered it. No John Shore commenters! It’s your fault that he won’t change his mind!

            6. “To hell with this debate. I will never accept their lifestyle.”

            And we end our story with Zach proclaiming what he never intended to change in the first place because he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about gay kids killing themselves as a result of him being too lazy to research this issue himself and thoughtfully consider what he’s writing. He’s too scared to stray far away from the beliefs that validate him.

            The Zachs of the our Christian world are liars. They have no intention of changing their minds but say so, just like he did. He leaves wonderful people exhausted and drained who really believe he was interested in changing his mind in the first place. It is a terrible pathology and there is a substantial change that Zach is in a lot of trouble himself. But it doesn’t mean that we have to just let it go.

          • Don Whitt

            What DR said.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Well, see, Zach, here’s your problem: The correct method of interpretation of scripture (if it is to be used to inform beliefs, and it is in our interest that our beliefs be true) is one based on the absolute, objective Truth. All else is error (and generally well established that the manuscripts known today are full of them); all else is corruption, defilement, and leads to destruction, while His Truth marches on into the world to come (even as you and I, Zach, will be long dead and buried).

            But anyway—come on—isn’t it pretty clear what Romans 1 is talking about? It’s so ironic when this passage gets cited as an argument against natural, loving, God-fearing homosexuality. It’s like, did you get so distracted by Paul’s somewhat (by Biblical standards) graphic depiction here that you miss the point entirely? He’s talking about people like the bibliolaters of today: he speaks of a people who have known God but failed to glorify him, have forgotten him; a people like you (though admittedly likely living to a rather greater degree in error), not those who (regardless of their sexuality) do know God—that God is love—and do rightly glorify the One and Only, nor those who never really knew him, but people engaging in idol worship and unnatural sexual practices associated with it (temple prostitution, etc.), mentioned to highlight the extent of their idolatry, clearly indicating this as a consequence of their sin and not as the sin itself.

            So… what exactly does this have to do with folks who’ve never been the idolater that you yourself are with your pieces of parchment and happen to be natural homosexuals? How is that anything other than a prejudiced mind (prejudiced perhaps by phobia, or by the phobia of others who went before them) reading into it things that just aren’t there, and then having the nerve to proclaim itself justified by some great “Truth”?

            And the great irony here that Paul’s very point is to warn Christians against exchanging “the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things” such as words of the English tongue “rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” whether those praising Him in what they do, being recognizable as true disciples of Christ by their love (see John 13:35), fully understand that He is ascribed glory together with the true Word, which is the Light of world, and the Holy Spirit, which breaths life into the world. And what is “the truth about God“? “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)

            Furthermore, even where homosexuality is a consequence of the idolatry of a fallen world, it is written that God gave them over to it, and they received the due penalty. Paul’s not saying that they bear any further guilt in THAT, but writes, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” (Rom. 1:29-31)

            Now, again, this simply proves Paul’s not talking about the typical LGBT individual, but moreover it’s significant that we find not one reference to sexuality among the wickedness, etc., that they are filled with! Sure, such expressions of sexuality were abominations among the Jews, just like eating shellfish (), but these weren’t necessarily wrong for others—why would they be? “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20)

            Now, he’s not talking about some appearance of design, for he speaks of invisible qualities, clearly seen by those granted the gift spiritual vision, whether with or without the aid of whatever scriptures. “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7:24)

            And so, Paul, accordingly, mentioned things truly, objectively, wrong, not to mention not particularly descriptive of the typical queer Christian, though perhaps more descriptive of you, Zach, who appear to slander them by implicating them in crimes before God of which they are not guilty.

            Even more ironically, the whole point towards which Paul is building here is this: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” (Rom. 2:1-3)

            And most ironically of all, the passage that idolaters, worshiping the Interpretation which proceeds from the Text and the unholy Spirit, corrupt to inflict wickedness upon those wanting only to love the way their instincts know how—and God is love—begins with the very words which, though in their blindness they fail to see it (perhaps owing to a foolish and phobic presumption that homosexuals are godless and wicked whilst they themselves are surely not), seal actually their own condemnation! And we can see, for instance here on Shore’s blog, how this prophesy is being fulfilled in our own time: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” (Rom. 1:18-19)

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

            See…..I should have just let Tweedell do it. You have a way with words, Matthew. Though, I must say, for me, in all that I’ve read of yours here, you’ve never been clearer in your position. Well done.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Thanks, Christy!

          • Zach

            You have a way with words, Matthew, but so did the ass upon which Balaam sat. You, however, in all your dancing, do no justice to the passage. Yes, the passage is about failing to give glory to God, who is the Creator. You mentioned, also, that homosexual behavior is a result of the idolatry which was present in the passage. I could not agree more! Idolatry has led to the reversal of the created order: males desire males and females desire females. It is a consequence of the fall of creation and Adam’s sin. Homosexuality, in this passage, is the epitome of the sinful decay of the Lord God’s good universe.

            And to your points about me: I am an arrogant ass. I am judgmental, as are you. We are all sinners here, I just prefer not to call evil good and good evil.

          • Christy

            I believe another reading of the text regarding Balaam’s donkey by those of us who take scripture seriously but not literally and who recognize a familiar form of literary technique in ancient Jewish writing is that Balaam’s donkey did not have to ACTUALLY speak, but rather, what was so difficult for Balaam to see and understand should not have been for truly it was so plain that even an ass was able to see it.

            I contend your assertion of original sin through the fall of Adam leading to the total depravity of humankind to be but a theory and our inability to recognize the kingdom of heaven within us and others because of our self-centered or self-loathing blindness or our dedication to dogma or the stumbling block of certainty is that which limits the spread of the kingdom.

          • Zach

            Indeed, I am aware that the donkey did not, literally, speak. It was an expression that I used to make a point: he used eloquent speech to really say nothing. As a matter of fact, he outright contradicts himself in one specific line-of-thought.

          • Zach

            Oh yeah, you’re also not even engaging the main points in our argument, but, just so we are clear, I will engage your comment on the corruption of the universe. I am from the Christian Churchs/Churches of Christ; we are a group that does not adhere to Reformed dogma, and specifically we reject the idea of “original sin” or “original guilt”. We do not believe that all new persons are condemned for Adam’s sin. However, we do believe, much like the Eastern Orthodox, that we have inherited a fallen nature from Adam and Eve. So, in my argument, do not see a measure of guilt that is ascribed to sinners because of our first parents, but instead see a corrupted nature and a certain “falleness” that exists in humans. With all of this said, so go humans, so go the rest of the universe. Humanity is the crown jewel of creation, we bear the image, which means we were put here to rule as stewards over God’s good handi-work. When our nature was corrupted, all of the universe was corrupted. When Adam and Eve turned to idolatry, the image was severely damaged, which in turn leads farther down the road to depravity. This is Paul’s line-of-thought in the Romans passage and, for Paul, it leads straight to the reversal of creation, heterosexual relationships are rejected for homosexual relationships. Grace and Peace.

          • DR

            #7: Zach is swinging from “Hey guys I’m back from (fill in the excuse for why he left the computer here) and gosh I’m so sorry I’d love to dialogue this with you!” to the hostility where he actually refers to someone’s counter as “dancing”.

          • Christy

            At Zach: Forgive my ignorance but a fallen nature is different from original sin….. how? And, so, you’re Apostolic?

          • Zach

            DR,

            Hostility? Please. It’s called critically reviewing someone’s work. I’ve experienced more hostility on this board of tolerants than I ever have, even when visiting liberal UCC and DOC congregations.

            Christy,

            No, I am not Apostolic in the sense of belonging to that denomination. There is a differnece between “original sin” and “original guilt”. The latter says that everyone is guilty before God for Adam’s sin. It means that we are all under God’s judgment from birth, which is not supported by the text. The former denotes a kind of state of humanity: humanity is not guilty of Adam’s sin, Adam is. Instead, humanity’s nature is now twisted and we are considered “sin-sick”, from which Jesus’ death subsequently heals.

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

            There’s a great classic bugs bunny episode with the line: “sharp enough to split a hair (hare).”

          • Zach

            I can see that, however, with much thought, I think you’ll begin to see the big difference and the implications.

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

            What in your doctrine and theology constitutes how one “is” or “becomes” a Christian?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Have we missed the point of the story of Balaam’s talking ass as well? Why should we think God opened the mouth of the ass so as to say really just nothing? Again ironically, she was just trying to explain to Balaam about the condemnation from which she had just been saving him: God opened the ass’s mouth, then He opened the man’s eyes (in Num. 22:31).

            Where exactly do you feel that I contradict myself in one specific “line-of-thought” (which I admit is quite possible, as I was rather tired when I wrote it), so we can see if the contradiction is real or due to misspeaking or misunderstanding, and, if real, if it is actually meaningful? And how else might I not have given justice to the passage, besides perhaps not laying out an exegesis as clear, plain, and, well, boring as possible (which I feel actually wouldn’t do justice at all to the wonderful way in which this passage is written—not that I in any way hoped to measure up to that either, hoping instead to make understanding the relevant points in it a bit simpler)?

          • Brian W

            Zach, I was agreeing with you. Couldn’t you see the sarcasm? One of the greatest depictions of love in the Bible is the Song of Solomon, a love between a man and a woman – the way God intended it from the beginning.

          • DR

            Brian, we’re here and we love the queers. We love their relationships, they will be able to legally marry within a few years which is what God intended. Get used to it.

          • Brian W

            We as Christians should love all people as yourself, regardless of sexual orientation and no, God has intended marriage to be between a man and a woman, marriage is always in that context biblically. Society probably will soon accept same sex marriage, that is not the way God intended it however.

          • Christy

            Brian – what if we get rid of the word marriage. How do you feel about a same sex couple who share a mutually monogamous life-long relationship of love and fidelity to one another?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            How do we know God intended that abstract concept and human social construct that is marriage at all in the beginning? Adam and Eve never had any special ceremony, never made any explicit vows! There was no law against extramarital sex in those times, nor even any law against incest. When sexual intercourse felt right (on the basis of God-given instincts), they did it, and so the next generation was born into the world.

            Marriage in our society is a legal arrangement which finds its origins in the contracts under which the chattel that was woman was traded. And now that such discrimination against females has been legally removed, it is unjust to discriminate in access to the legal rights marriage entails in favor of mixed-gender couples.

            Regardless what was in the beginning—when of course neither divorce, nor even formal marriage NOR even dating actually existed, and these all were creations not of God but of fallible man (or else in which Day of Creation might marriage fit into one of categories of the works of God’s creation, and just where in the world apart from the artificial constructs of men might such a notion find its existence?)—we have to face the present reality that they’re here; they’re queer; get used to it.

            You mention the Song of Solomon as an example of what marriage ought to be? Come on! Solomon was a playboy—he had 700 wives and 300 concubines! (1 Kings 11:3) Seriously, that’s seven HUNDRED, plus three HUNDRED! 1000 woman (presuming that’s what they all were) in all: He must have been having a new honey moon every week! For like 20 years! He could have slept with a different woman every night for almost 3 years before he’d ever have to wake up to a familiar face again, and surely by then it could hardly be very familiar anymore! He was “making love”, not being in love; yet on the basis of his sexual preference, you wish to deny others their true love, which love is of God (1 John 4:7), a love like that between Jonathan and Solomon’s father, David, for whom such love more wonderful than he could experience with women (2 Sam. 1:26).

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

        So, Zach, I know I’m in over my head on this one and should likely leave it to others wiser than I am, but I’ll take a stab at it. I’d also like to preface this by saying, your first post seemed like an attempt at an open dialogue, but your second is a bit prickly and chip shoulderish…..so I’m a little tentative, sensing I’m walking into a trap on this one. Also, having hung around John’s page for a bit, I know Don to be an insightful, kind-hearted spirit with no mountain issues. I sense you brought your mountain viewing glasses with you, a shame.

        I don’t think either of these are going to change your mind, but here’s what people are saying.

        The Bishop Gene Robinson explains Romans 1 this way: heterosexual people engaging in homosexual activity which goes against their natural inclination. http://www.cnsnews.com/node/60952

        Other commentary I have read explains that the list of characteristics is about a certain group of people who once followed God and then turned their back on God and engaged in overzealous debauchery and has nothing to do with two committed people who are monogomous in a life-long committed relationship who love and follow God. http://www.opendoorcenter.com/myths_&_facts.htm

        Blessings on your spiritual journey.

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

      One more thing, Zach, how does your opinion on the doxa of homosexuality being a sin alter your praxis when it comes to how you treat gays and lesbians? or in how you treat gays and lesbians as compared to how you treat anyone else?

      • Brian W

        Christians should treat everyone the same

        • DR

          Then start with giving them the same legal rights that you get.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            All legal citizens have the same Constitutional rights.

          • DR

            No they don’t, Brian. Marriage afford legal rights to men and women that gay men and women do not experience.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            The Constitution doesn’t address marriage per se, that is a state issue.

          • DR

            Wow you are really one piece of work, the way you try to slide out of a point, Brian. Bottom line, regardless of state or federal law, gay men and women – in most states – do not get the same legal rights that you do because you vote against them. It’s so weird to see you admit that you are against gay marriage being legalized in one blog post and then respond like this.

            I’m sorry Brian, I have to say this. You need to be a man of God, here, if you are against gay marriage and if you want to make sure gay people (including kids) know that being gay means they aren’t of God? Then do it. But OWN the consequences! Why do you think you get to be off the hook for choices of belief you are making and legislation for which you are voting? Admit that you vote against gay men and women being legally married? It’s just common sense. You can’t have it both ways. Pick a lane, dude.

          • Brian W

            You know how I vote now?

          • DR

            “You know how I vote now?”

            Brian you’ve confirmed in other threads that marriage is between a man and a woman. Each time I’ve asked you, “Do you support legalized marriage for gay men and women” you don’t answer it, I’ve asked about five times and you don’t go there. Which again, is kind of a slimy thing dude, just say you wouldn’t vote for it or you would, it’s not difficult.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            What I support or don’t support politically is of no consequence really, because what matters is the Good News of the Gopsel of Jesus Christ.

          • DR

            What I support or don’t support politically is of no consequence really, because what matters is the Good News of the Gopsel of Jesus Christ.

            You’re a coward. And it’s not me calling you that, it is your refusal to just say “I don’t support gay marriage being legalized” that says it for me.

            It’s disgusting how you hide behind our Sacred Scriptures because you don’t have the courage of your convictions, it really is. But at least you provide an example for other Christians who might be tempted to do the same and yet realize how disgusting it is and why other people are so turned off by Christians so they may consider a different choice.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            Why can’t you accept me as I am? I was born this way (a coward), can’t you accept me as I am? Why are you so mean to me?, Where is your love for me that our Sacred Scriptures commands that you have? Now you say people don’t believe in Christianity because of my convictions or lack thereof? It is my fault people don’t believe in Christianity? I don’t know if I can bear such guilt…….I didn’t know gay marriage was so important to Christianity…….

          • DR

            .I didn’t know gay marriage was so important to Christianity…….>>>

            No, in your narcissistic world, no one else’s needs – including those of gay men and women – matter. So of course you wouldn’t know that because you choose to focus entirely on yourself as you spin a Jesus-coated wrapper around your words which is perverted and evil.

        • Christy

          Funny, I thought Christians were supposed to treat everyone the way we ourselves would would like to be treated.

          • DR

            Apparently to Brian, it State’s rights trump Scripture (how convenient, I thought he was just telling us that the Bible is the final authority. Funny how that switches so quickly).

          • Brian W

            The Bible is the final authority, I have never denied that, when the word “legal” was introduced the viewpoint changes to the Constitution, that’s all.

          • DR

            Your slip and slide approach to this debate won’t work here, it’s getting embarrassing for me to watch you do this.

            Would you vote for legalized marriage between two gay men and two gay women. Yes or no? It’s a yes I would, no I would not question. Be a man and answer it.

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

            I would. I would vote for it.

          • DR

            Brian, yes or no – would you vote for it? I’m still waiting.

          • DR

            I would vote for it too. Brian? Yes or no?

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            slip and slide approach to what “debate”?

          • DR

            Slip and slide = you refusing to say either “yes I support and would vote for the legalization of gay marriage” or “no I would not”. You won’t do it.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            I was wondering what was the “debate”.

          • DR

            Brian, you are a fraud. You are here under the guise of trying to learn more, but you have one agenda that you’re here to push. All of your apologies and your insights are bullshit and it’s shocking that you’d actually play games like this, deflecting direct questions and feigning ignorance (you know what we’re talking about) when there are hundreds of gay men and women who have been devastated by the actions of Christians who are reading this. I regret wasting any time actually believing you were an authentic guy. I would have respected you if you just said “You know at this point, I’d vote no.” Much like skerrib handled her reservations, she was honest about how she felt and it was great that she was so vulnerable here. You don’t seem to have the capacity.

            God have mercy on you for the damage you’ve done to people who have read your contributions here. I’m not enabling you anymore.

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

            Kenny Rogers comes to mind: Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away….. know when to run.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            What agenda am I pushing? O yes, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News for a hurting people.

            You see what matters are that gay people have been hurt by “professing Christians” and actually believe they are beyond hope or unworthy of the free and soveriegn grace of God. THAT is important to me, not some question I’m free to chose not to answer.

            You can call me all the names you want and try and pick a fight, I’m not going there, why such anger DR?

            I want all gays on here to know that the Gospel – the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ is available to all for the forgiveness of sin and the healing power of his love. Christinaity is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and at its heart is Jesus Christ. No greater love is this than a man lay his life down for a friend.

            My agenda is Jesus Christ and him crucified for the sins of the world….

          • DR

            THAT is important to me, not some question I’m free to chose not to answer.>>>

            Your non-answer is your answer. You don’t support gay men and women marrying legally. You deny them all of the tax benefits, the legal rights and the social contracts that come with that status. You’re a bigot and you couldn’t give a shit about a gay man and woman’s salvation. You can’t even talk about what hurts them so much, what they’ve offered to all of us on this forum, on threads in which you’ve participated.

            Face it Brian, your “Gosh I am just a great Christian guy who wants everyone to know Jesus even though I have the right to not reveal my bigotry through answering a simple question” narrative only works on you (if you even believe it yourself). No one else is buying it. People know who we are by our choices. Not who we want them to see. You simply want people to *see* you as a nice, loving guy and you’re not the loving, Christian guy you think you are, you’ve got some real issues regarding gay men and women. When you’re ready to really face that? I’ll be the first one in line ready to help you. But not until then. This work, you need to do alone with God.

    • Mindy

      Please don’t prove it to me in any way that I won’t like. Interesting way to enter a discussion, there, Zach.

      You have no interest in changing, because you are going to hold on to what you believe is the literal intent of that ancient text with all your might, and to hell with anyone who might provide insight into why your thinking is wrong. Use the brain God gave you, and open it. He’d be proud if you would.

      • Brian W

        O so if people believe like you, they’re using their brain and if they don’t believe like you, then they’re not using their brain? The final authority is the Word of God, the Bible

        • Suz

          “The final authority is the Word of God, the Bible.”

          Please. How oblivious are you? Go ahead and follow every rule, law, and command in the Bible; see if you don’t sin. The Bible is only useful if you THINK it through. Being human and all, the brain is the best tool we have. Use it.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            One interprets the Bible starting with the historical – grammatical method. Yes there are many literary styles found in the Bible (so you can’t take it literally at all times) and the Levital Law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ.. NO one is “sinlessly perfect”, No agrument about reading the Bible with deep thought, absolutely. Mindy it still seems that if I use my brain and my beliefs are different from yours, I haven’t fully used it. That’s what I gather from your posts. Not until I believe as you (and most others one here) do I finally “get it” and have fully used my brain.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Each shall use their brain to the best of their/its abilities.

            So, Brian, Christ is “NO one” then!

            And who exactly is this “one [who] interprets the Bible” this way, and why?

            BTW, Suz, excellent point!

          • Brian W

            Huh? That makes no sense

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Then think about it.

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

            Makes sense to me.

          • Suz

            Pure logic, Brian, applied to you own words. Think it through.

        • DR

          Oh please. Stop being so petulant Brian, that’s a weird position for a grown man to take. Your interpretation of the Bible is not “The Word of God”. It’s just one out of thousands of interpretations. You just need it to be.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            OK, I just need it to be, but to clearify I don’t interpret the Bible “as” the Word of God, I believe it IS the Word of God.

            The Bible does require interpretation, but claiming there are “thousands” of interpretations, naw. When a systematic hermeneutic approach is applied to throrough biblical study, the resulting interpretations are normally limited to one (sometimes more, but generally only one).

            Christians have been studying the Bible for 2 thousand years and just about every heretical belief / interpretation has been thoroughly examined and debated. I said just about every one, since it is on-going as new interpretations / beliefs emerge.

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

            Brian, it is a choice to view scripture in this way and seems to elevate scripture to the point of idolatry.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Christy,

            I wouldn’t go as far as calling it idolatry, but certianly the Word of God is to be revered and studied and held high as the Word of God, but NOT God (idolatry). Worship should be limited to God the Father / God the Son / God the Holy Spirit

          • Suz

            You don’t call it idolatry when you “revere,” (Really? Not “worship?”) a document, especially an illogical one that contradicts itself at every turn? What exactly do you call it when you put the human church’s interpretation of a series of texts, above the words presumably spoken by Christ Himself? You know, God? That sound like worship to me.

            And here’s the thing: you don’t REALLY believe the Bible IS the word of God; if you did you’d be following all of it’s rules, because that’s “what God commands.” So how many prostitutes and mouthy children have you stoned to death? Have you sold all of your possessions and given the money to the poor? You follow only those Biblical rules that the church has told you are important, right? And the church is made up of men.

            As I’ve said before, faith is belief without proof, if you had proof, you wouldn’t need faith. Blindly accepting any interpretation of the Bible, traditional or not, is a matter of faith, but I think that faith is misplaced. You are putting your faith in the presumed wisdom of man, not in God. Is that why God gave you a brain? To assume those men are divinely inspired and honestly trying to serve God, and not their own power base? You’d better hope they are, since following their rules has caused untold suffering to God’s children for several millennia. Every word of the Bible should be constantly scrutinized with a critical eye, a sharp conscience, and an understanding of the world in which the words themselves were written. Otherwise it is nothing more than a really lame history book. The Bible was written by men; the mystery within it is holy and worthy of reverence, but the book and its stories are not.

          • Brian W

            Suz

            That post isn’t even worthy of a response because you clearly despise the Bible and you know, that is your right to do so. You don’t need Jesus Christ.

          • Suz

            Brian,

            You are mistaken; I despise how people use the Bible. And of course you don’t have a response.

          • DR

            “That post isn’t even worthy of a response because you clearly despise the Bible and you know, that is your right to do so. You don’t need Jesus Christ.”

            Oh my God. I am so shocked that this was said, the negative presumption that was made about you Suz was so deeply uncalled for – I’m sorry on behalf of Brian, it’s clear that you don’t like how people are *using* the Bible, not the Bible itself. This was a horribly offensive comment.

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

            I concur.

            “the mystery within it is holy and worthy of reverence, but the book and its stories are not.”

            Truer words have never been spoken.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Suz,

            If I offended you, sorry.

            I read your words how illogical you think the Bible is and full of alledged contradictions at every corner you claim it has, doesn’t read like you didn’t like how people use the Bible, that reads to me like an attack on the validity of the Bible itself. Then the rather sarcastic question asking me about how many prostitutes and mouthy children I’ve stoned, read like a further “dis” against the Bible and not how its used by some.

            You then presuppose that I blindly accept biblical interpretations and wisdom of men and not God. You continue to presuppose that I don’t scrutinize the Bible with a critical eye and sharp conscience. You conlude with a statement that some “mystery” in the Bible is to be revered but the book and the stories are not be.

            Suz, yes your post somewhat irked me and I lashed out (which I shouldn’t have) with what others on here claim was a way out of line post, so if they think that (though you didn’t seem to say anything like that) I must aplogize if you were offended at my comment.

            I agree that the Bible has been used (wrongly) to oppress and even murder people (need I remind readers of the millions Romanism murdered over the years using the Bible).

            That is not because of the Bible, that came from the sinful heart of men

          • Suz

            Brian, I was not offended, but I was not surprised either. If my comment got under your skin, you might want to wonder why. The “mystery” to which I referred is the divine nature of God. Please acknowledge that you at least believe divinity is an unknowable mystery. You see, I’m having a hard time figuring out what you believe; you keep changing the subject instead of answering direct questions, shifting your positions ever so slightly, and hiding behind you “belief” that the Bible is the word of God. You keep telling people that they have the right to their own opinions about it, but you seem awfully leery of taking a stand and declaring that their opinions are wrong or right. You challenge others’ opinions without stating your own, beyond, “The Bible is the final authority;” being God’s word, it must be true.

            So which parts are true and which are false?

            Here’s a biblical contradiction for you, grade school level: The harsh, extreme, vindictive OT laws must be followed. Hell is the punishment. Then Jesus comes along and says, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” How does this work? Who punishes the guilty? Which is correct, stone the prostitute or don’t stone the prostitute?

            I, like many, have a possible explanation for the “cast the first stone” story, but it requires NOT TAKING IT LITERALLY, it requires interpretation. I won’t bore you with my interpretation because that’s not the point. The point is interpretation is everything in reading the Bible. If you believe every word in the Bible, in plain English, then you believe concepts that are polar opposites. It is simply not logical. That’s why I called the Bible irrational; this is pretty obvious, not rocket science.

            I think the point almost everyone here is trying to make is that there are moral interpretations of the Bible, and there are immoral interpretations if it. You yourself referred to “…the sinful heart of men.” The Christian church has been teaching immoral interpretations of the Bible since it was written, and only changes its interpretations when moral people speak up and object to the suffering caused by that immorality. Slavery is the best known example.

            What I, for one, would like to know, is this: Is your interpretation moral or immoral? Do your biblical beliefs prevent suffering or do they promote suffering? We all know that you can “justify” any belief by saying it’s in the Bible, that’s why we’re here. Can you justify your beliefs based on morality? Are your beliefs unethical, but “correct” because they’re in the Bible? If you are a mainstream Christian, you are most likely promoting immorality, and doing it in God’s name, because that is what the mainstream Christian church does.

            Now I just might piss everybody off: I think mainstream Christians have no business being shocked and appalled at the behavior of Rev. Fred Phelps. It’s pure hypocrisy. Yes I said that.

            Phelps believes that homosexuality is an abomination, and that unrepentant gays will go to hell. He goes even farther and condemns the rest of us for our weak willed tolerance of this abomination. According to him, it’s our Christian duty to do whatever it takes to rid the world of this scourge. I give him points for one thing – HONESTY (unless it’s all just a scam, which is perfectly possible.) He waves banners and shouts it from the rooftops. He doesn’t discuss it quietly and with dignified pity and compassion, during Wednesday night Bible study, among friends who are inclined to agree with him. He doesn’t subltely offer his congregation books about how to “cure” it, or how it hurts good, ordinary Christian families. There is nothing subtle about Phelps; his methods are in-your-face, but he and the modern American Christian church, teach EXACTLY THE SAME MESSAGE. The only difference I see is that he shows poor taste by disrupting military funerals.

            So what the hell does Brian stand for? You have spent the last few days poking and jabbing, challenging and nitpicking, parrying and feinting. You have employed every standard troll tactic, yet you haven’t made or defended a single point. You have pandered to nearly everyone, almost conceding to agree with them, but with reservations. Yet you haven’t stated those reservations, have you? Why are you here? To show off how well-read you are? (If so, read a few backposts; you’re out of your league.) To stir things up and lead readers into pointless discussions? Do you have something to say? If so, will you just say it already? Otherwise, please leave. Shit or get off the pot.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Suz, There are no biblical contradictions once it is studied correctly, what may appear as one is because of a misunderstanding. All alleged contradictions are explainable.

            OK, all O/T laws (the Mosaic Law) was fulfilled in Christ. He lived the Law perfectly, (which we can not). We are not bound by the O/T Law any longer, we are bound by the Law of Christ. With your question, the answer is clear; don’t stone the prostitute because Jesus premised who could – he who is without sin was worthy to throw the first stone. Well no one was without sin, so no one could throw the stone, except Jesus. He forgave her because he knew she was repentant in her heart for her life.

            You CAN NOT take all the Bible literally, that’s why a student of the word applies a systematized and proven methodology to bible interpretation, the field is biblical hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is vital and essential to understanding the Bible text ,its meaning and practical application to the Christians life.

            I don’t understand your statement about an “immoral” or “moral” interpretation. I’m not aware of such an interpretive method, namely one based on morality. My interpretation is based i using the historical – grammatical method. (you can Google that for a definition). I don’t have beliefs, as far as I know, that promotes suffering. The concept of morality for most people is not absolute and is largely influenced by the relativism of the “acceptable norms” of a person’s social environment and personal presuppositions and world view. Ethics is also influence or based on the same manner, relativism. What is moral and ethical must have some standard that is absolute, which is based on a proper interpretation of the Bible, not society. It was Christians for the most part that opposed slavery more than any other people group.

            I will agree the churches and Christian church leaders throughout the last 2 thousand years held to some immoral interpretations and practices, but conversely many churches didn’t and were martyred as heretics in times past. The biggest offender being the Catholic Church from around 300 A.D. thru the Protestant Reformation.

            Fred Phelps is a not the mouth piece of Christianity, if he wants to preach against gays and not preach the Gospel, he is free to do so, but he is NOT representative of “modern mainstream American churches”.

            Have I answered you sufficiently? I’m on here to let people know that not all orthodox Christian churches spew hate and are “anti-gay”. I agree with people on here on some points, because I agree with them. Forgive me if I’m not aware of what a “troll tactic” is, because I don’t. I’m not on here to debate issues that are “non-issues” when it comes to the Gospel. To some people “gay rights” is their primary issue on here, for me it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to point people to the loving and saving arms of the one who gave his life for sinners – Jesus Christ. I don’t want to engage in pointless discussions and I don’t consider God’s salvation message contained in the Gospel as pointless.

            You and everyone else can discuss any topic they want and I do make comments on various topics on here, don’t you? I’m not all that well read, I never said I was, in fact I concede I’m not all that smart at all, so all I ask is you accept me as I am, as I was born, as God made me, is that asking so much?

          • Sara

            I’ve been a baptised, devoted Christian since age 8.

            My relationship with Christ whom I visit with every day, who leads my life, trumps any book, any teaching from anyone else. When I have a question, when there seems to be conflicting answers – I take it to the Lord in prayer, and then I LISTEN to Him.

            Prayer… where I’m LISTENING, not TELLING God how things will be in my little world. Prayer…where God is teaching me and leading me…and NOT me telling Him where I want to go, or want to believe.

            It’s called living by faith, and yup, it’s scary as hell.

            I read the Bible, and respect the offerings of the people who wrote it. I DO NOT and can NOT accept it as the final unchangeable Word of God, because it is NOT. It is Man’s interpretation of God, written through the filter of each person’s beliefs, desires, and personal prejudices and fears.

            So for you to tell me that a whole group of people are to be discriminated against because an imperfect, man- interpreted document says so….it doesn’t fly.

            Love the Lord with all thy heart, might, mind and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself. Love one another.

            Discrimination is NOT love. Discrimination is NOT loving thy neighbor as thyself

            Our Letterwriter has more love in her little finger, and more humility and grace too for that matter – than either one of you yahoos who come on here preaching discrimination and second class status, because you can’t live by faith!

            GO to God. Listen to Him – NOT your own prejudices. Open your heart and mind and let Him lead you! It’s an amazing journey!

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

            Love this, Sara.

          • DR

            Brian if this were true, there wouldn’t be disagreements about what the Bible means. I know you want to make it simple. Life is less scary that way. But it’s just not simple.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            Agreed…I wish it were just that simple, but it’s not

          • DR

            Brian, you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. Earlier you agreed with Scott that the interpretations we all make of Scripture are very different and challenging when it comes to debate and discussion. Yet when faced with the counter view, something you believe violates God’s Word, you pull out the Bible as evidence, inferring your interpretation is the right one. It seems like you just offer one argument vs the other when it suits you (and we’re back to the self-absorption). Your comments are rarely about gay men and women themselves – they are just about you you you you you you you.

          • Brian W

            It’s not about me me me, it’s about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is central, not gays, Jesus Christ and his salvation is what matters. Of course I believe a specific interpretation of the Bible, don’t you?

          • DR

            How DARE you actually tell someone that they despise the Bible and don’t need Jesus Christ when all she was saying was that she doesn’t like how people *use* the Bible? Do you even read? What a horribly personal line to cross, what the fuck is wrong with you that you would say something like that to someone. Your arrogance and conclusions you just drew and actually had the arrogance to offer someone you don’t even know is really sickening.

            Before you write it, I don’t care about your intent or what you were *trying* to say. that’s just more about you. Ugh.

          • DR

            I’m done Brian. I’ve had it after that comment to Suz. You aren’t here to consider anything or to listen. You’ve not changed since day 1. You are a damaging presence to Christianity regardless of your intent and your desire or whatever you believe to be misunderstood about you. And you are now dismissed.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            I didn’t read anywhere in her original post that she didn’t like how pepole use the BIble (that was clearifed later), it read more like an attack on the Bile itself to me. I responded with some emotion DR, I’m not perfect, it just read to me like a smug , sacastic and somewhat disrespectful post of Gods Holy Word.

          • Suz

            Brian, this is my last response to your minutiae: It’s the people who believe “God’s Word” is perfectly expressed in the Bible’s human words, who misuse the Bible. Their first sin is the arrogance required to think they really know God’s will – and Wow! God must be awfully smart because He agrees with them!

            It is not the Bible I question, since I understand it to be open to interpretation. What I object to is the belief that the Bible is inerrant in expressing all that is God.

          • Suz

            Since you deigned to offer a couple of almost substantial opinions, I’ll play a little longer. OK, this part is actually kind of funny – Here’s what I left out of that comment because I thought it was too long: I’ve always said I would join and support a church whose missionaries distributed condoms with their Bibles, and stopped teaching women to submit to immoral men (while praying for God to give those men wisdom and compassion.) Missionaries spend tons of money travelling the world to “save” the most wretchedly poor and oppressed people on earth, and what do they offer? Emotional comfort in their suffering. Not the tools necessary to END their suffering, or to prevent the spread of that suffering, just comfort. (OK yeah, and some food and medicine and a few homes, ’cause if they die too soon it’s a waste of resources.) Christian missionaries cause at least as much suffering through their teachings, as they ever alleviate. Specific example: The AIDS epidemic in Africa. How many missionaries are working in Africa, and how long have they bee there? They’ve known for decades that condoms slow the spread of AIDS, but how many condoms have they given out to prevent it? Add to that the submissive role of women, reinforced by Christian doctrine, and look at the results. Missionaries did not cause the epidemic, but they did nothing to prevent its spread. It took 25 years, but even the pope has finally figured that one out.

            {And here’s where I come off like a crazy conspiracy theorist. When viewed as a whole, this is eerily similar to a well known brainwashing technique. Here’s how you win someone’s undying loyalty: You either find someone who’s suffering, or you cause them to suffer. Then you offer them comfort and the promise of aid. You assure them that no matter what “happens” to them, you care about them because they are special. You promise to help them, but you never really deliver. You DO NOT end their suffering, because their pain is the only hold you have over them. You don’t give them the tools they need to walk away from their pain and become independent; their dependence on YOU and what you offer, is absolutely necessary to your success. If you convince your victim that you are the best thing that will ever happen to them, they will follow you to the ends of the earth and believe anything you tell them. So, did the brainwashers learn from the church or did the church learn from the brainwashers?}

            ————————————————

            “You just don’t get, it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is at the heart.” What, EXACTLY, (since you said it, you might as well explain it) don’t I get? IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the the heart of these actions, or rather this inaction? Really? That’s what Jesus wants us to do for (or more accurately, to) the least of His brothers, and therefore to Him? The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not exist in a vacuum, Brian, separate from the real world. A loving heart does not excuse destructive actions. Or inaction. To make a career of “helping those who are suffering” in God’s name, is to make a commitment to do everything IN YOUR POWER to actually help them, to use the tools God gave you. Or it should be. Otherwise, why bother? You can’t claim to be part of the solution when you are contributing to the problem.

            And that’s the core of this entire discussion, minutiae, red herrings and nit-picking aside. The Christian church takes a dim view of homosexuality, based on “Scripture,” and turns a blind eye to its members who persecute gays, (unless they do it really blatantly. Bad for the image, ya know.) Then it gets all wide eyed and innocent and says, ” But we love them even though they’re sinners. That’s what Jesus commands.” The Christian church absolutely refuses to take any responsibility for the actions of its members. It refuses to admit that its doctrine is contributing to the anguish of God’s devoted (or otherwise) children.

            You are a very scary man, Brian, and you represent exactly the double talking mindset to which we object. It’s NOT all-OK-because-in-the-end-we-will-be-saved. We all agree that salvation is a destination to which we aspire, but in the meantime there is this journey we call life. It’s a gift from God, and we Christians can choose to spend it serving Him by demonstrating our love for His children. Or we can stand in a pulpit talking about God’s love, and when things go south due to some well meaning but perhaps overzealous dumbass, we can say, “That was him, not us. These things happen. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. How very unfortunate….But it’s not OUR fault.”

            Christianity is like a garden, a nutrient-rich environment in which all sorts of things can grow. If the gardeners who tend it ignore the weeds, the weeds will take over the whole thing. They won’t completely obliterate the bright flowers, but they will surround them, choke them and isolate them. You Brian, are either a weed or at best, a negligent gardener; your wishy-washy comments obscure which. You are NOT a flower. You offer the flowers nothing but a wee bit of sympathy. Possibly even sincere sympathy.

            I get the impression that you don’t even comprehend the whole of what I’ve been saying, so how can you know what I don’t “get?” You claim to be rather uninformed in these matters. Then after we present you with pages and pages of information, both factual and theoretical, you don’t read it thoroughly, you don’t consider the “big picture” of any issue, you don’t stop to even consider whether it might be valid. You immediately take offense over the slightest perceived insult to your (uninformed, by you own admission) beliefs, and your knee-jerk reaction is to attack details that are not essential to this particular subject.

            If you are satisfied with your level of knowledge, and wish to remain uninformed, you are reading the WRONG blog. If you want to learn something, keep reading, but stop biting ankles. Nobody here is trying to recruit you into a cult, or deceive you into believing in some doctrine that will send you to hell. We are simply sharing our knowledge and opinions, which are based on our reading, our experiences, and our observation of the world in which we live. And none of us objects to challenging questions; indeed we welcome them. They make us THINK. By all means, contribute and ask questions. Just please stop nagging about irrelevant details, and dragging the conversation away from the subject at hand – the letter from a gay woman who is suffering. Remember her? Some of think her problem is important. Clearly, you don’t. You said, “what matters are that gay people have been hurt by ‘professing Christians’ and actually believe they are beyond hope or unworthy of the free and soveriegn grace of God. THAT is important to me, ” If this really is important to you, why do you continue to pursue a solution that doesn’t work – reminding her that God does love her? We are working to END her suffering and to PREVENT the same suffering in others like her, people who have been convinced BY THE CHURCH that they are unworthy. (And yes, it is the church doing this, because the church IS its members.) Why do you dismiss “gay marriage” and “gay rights” as irrelevant? “…I didn’t know gay marriage was so important to Christianity…” “To some people “gay rights” is their primary issue on here, for me it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” They may not be at the core of the Gospel, but they are certainly at the core of the SOLUTION to how the church hurts gays. Are you interested in solutions? Or is it easier to simply talk about God’s love?

            “Jesus loves you,” is not a solution.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Suz,

            I guess I just don’t get you, my mistake, so please follow me here, so I can grasp your beliefs and please clarify /correct me where I’m wrong / misunderstood.

            It appears to me that you want Christianity or believe Christianity should focus primarily on the temporal, like medicine, food, clothing, passing out condoms, addressing government oppression and of course issues facing gays. I agree these are all amiable endeavors but they only deal with the symptoms and not the root problem.

            Even though some claim on this blog that the Bible is a collection of ancient writings from a bunch of Jews living in a long ago dead culture, it has no relevance today. Human kind simply has not changed, it is very relevant today. For example Jesus fed “5,000 men besides woman and children” with a few loaves of bread and fish. Everyone was full and the disciples collected baskets full of left overs. The very next day much of the crowd came back wanting bread again, Jesus replied he gives the bread of life, but didn’t feed them, THAT’S what is important. What happened? most left, only wanting food. Though Jesus fed and healed it was never the main point of his ministry, it was always spiritual. Suz, you seem much like those people, you want to address primarily the symptoms of human suffering and the temporal as being what is so important, while the eternal and spiritual aspect is secondary. You claim churches should pass out condoms to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa, well better yet deal with the root problem – spiritual – and keep your penis in your pants and legs closed and no more problem with AIDS. You want condoms, go to a clinic. That has never been the purpose of a local New Testament church.

            You further dwell on some unbiblical professing Christian missionaries that allegedly spend “tons of money” travelling the world offering salvation to the most poor and miserable souls on earth, as though that is not as important as tools to help with their temporary suffering (like condoms, birth control, food, penicillin for VD, etc.). Every missionary I know doesn’t travel spending “tons of money” they live very meagerly and in the same the squalor as the locals. They come back to the states to bring a report of their work to supporting churches, raise additional church support to plant more churches and renew their Visa’s. I have been on the mission field and have seen first hand how they live – many with no running water or electricity. As far as I’m concerned these selfless missionaries are the epitome of Christianity. They have given up the opulent American life to live in what many would call filth, so the lost peoples of this world can receive the “bread of life” from Jesus Christ.

            I’ll use the gun illustration, there are millions and millions of guns in the country and an infinitesimal few kill people, put when they do, it makes the news and people want all guns outlawed because of a few bad people who murder others. You do the same with Christianity – rant and rave about some bad ones as an indication of ALL of Christianity.

            Christianity is first and foremost spiritual in its purpose, this doesn’t mean we lack compassion, let the starving hunger, the homeless wander or the sick suffer. No we don’t. Every time Jesus helped on a physical level there was a deeper, spiritual and eternal purpose. Many people didn’t see that and when he didn’t feed or heal, they all left, except those that really did “get it”. Suz, your focus is primarily on gays and how some form of “Christianity” treats them and you lump me in there as though I’m personally responsible for the “oppression of gays”. You want a brand of Christianity that picks and chooses biblical passages to live by, ignore others and twist other ones to fit your agenda. An agenda that seems to completely miss Jesus’ spiritual and eternal message. You want Christianity to fit and address the physical / mental / emotional pain and it does, when the spiritual part is first healed. First and primary to Christianity is the spiritual rebirth, secondary is the helping to mankind with a goal for them to receive forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            The spiritual does not exist in isolation from the material. There can be no hope of helping a man or woman with his/her journey along the Way which leads to eternal salvation if we do not ensure his/her temporal salvation in the meantime. The Life eternal lives on through the life of this very moment.

            The only reason Jesus didn’t solve world hunger long ago was that he would have had to overthrow the powers of this world that were oppressing people in order to make that a reality, but the time was not yet come that his Kingdom should be established upon the earth. However, knowing Jesus, he’s surely at work accomplishing such things even as we speak. The work of providing recompense for sin was finished at the cross, but eternal life consists in more than merely forgiveness.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            The spiritual indeed is seperated from the material, that’s why its called spiritual, no?

            You said:

            There can be no hope of helping a man or woman with his/her journey along the Way which leads to eternal salvation if we do not ensure his/her temporal salvation in the meantime.

            What is “temporal salvation”? We can’t ensure anyone’s salvation, only God can. We do as Jesus taught and by Gods grace he saves whom He wills.

            I think I catch your point: we should not neglect a persons immediate temporal needs since these needs are necessary on their way to eternal life. As the Bible says, some plant, some water, some prune, some get the increase, we all must do our part along life’s journey. Sound OK, not ok? Agreed?

            Matthew, you are a trippy dude, cuzz I must say some of your posts seem so rooted in sound biblical teachings yet others seem so “mysticaly spiritual”. You’re a very interestng and extremely intelligent man. Your posts are quite thought provoking.

          • Suz

            Brian,

            You’re right.. You don’t get me. Every conclusion you made about my statements is incorrect. I don’t know how many more ways I can say it, so here’s the oversimplified version: Many Christians use God’s word and Christian doctrine in their efforts to serve God by helping His children. Many Christians use God’s word and Christian doctrine their an efforts to serve God by hurting His children. These are the only two choices I’m currently addressing. Individual Christians choose to help or hurt God’s children, mostly based on what they are taught by other individual Christians, usually within an established group of like-minded Christians. Got it so far? Good. I object to any person, any Christian, or any organization that chooses to cause suffering, chooses NOT to prevent or alleviate suffering, and that uses God’s word, God’s name or the teachings of God’s church, to justify that choice.

            Now read it again.

            Yes, I do get rather verbose, and I sure as hell don’t organize my thoughts as well as do Matthew, DR, Christy, and many others on this forum. I apologize to everyone for some of my points being tangential or less than obvious. It’s a weakness in my writing and I’m working on it.

            And speaking of tangential, I knew you would jump on my “tons of money” comment. Are you so naive that you honestly assumed I was referring to the lifestyles of individual missionaries? Not the billions of dollars spent on all Christian missions around world? Even for the admittedly uninformed, that’s a bit of a stretch. I suspect you are slightly more combative than you are naive.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Brian W at 4:44 pm:

            Oops, sorry I didn’t notice this one earlier.

            Thank you for your kind words, Brian.

            I agree with the understanding you expressed in the paragraph beginning with, “I think I catch your point”. But I have some comments regarding other statements/questions:

            “The spiritual indeed is seperated from the material, that’s why its called spiritual, no?”

            Distinct does not mean separate. There’s no such thing as “ghosts”, Brian; there’s no magic netherworld on another plane of existence.

            “What is ‘temporal salvation’?”

            salvation (i.e. saving or being saved) from the peril of immediate demise—that is to say, the sustenance of the present mortal life; survival.

            “We can’t ensure anyone’s salvation, only God can.”

            God can certainly use us to do it if He wills to do so and we are willing.

            @Suz

            I think you write quite well! I’ve just been fortunate that my stuff’s come across so well recently; I think I’m generally—even if I do have clear thoughts to express—not so good at expressing them in a way others find meaningful (in the way I intended) and relevant (to their own interests in following the discussion at hand) as you are, Suz. (But [tangentially ;)] isn’t it weird how you can know what you want to improve, see how others do it effectively, but still struggle to effect the desired change?)

          • Brian W

            Suz and Matthew

            Thanks for your posts, first Suz, sorry it took so many posts, but now I see your point and understand, forgive me for my misunderstanding. Matthew same to you, it can take awhile before I clearly get it, you have both been quite patient with me. I want to hold hands and sing Koom-Bye-Ya now, LOL!! Let’s have DR join in too….. :-)

          • Suz

            Thanks Matthew! I grew up in a big vocal family with a genius eldest sister, constantly juggling tangents and asides; to me, such mental chaos is perfectly normal. If you “get” me, I really REALLY appreciate it!

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            The Bible never declares that it contains all that is God, it does contain all that He wants us to know about Him.

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

            No it doesn’t. You agreed with me the other day that it is the WRITTEN revelation of God. But that God also reveals God’s self in all of creation.

          • Suz

            Christy, Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I’m too tired to play the game anymore, but I see you’re keeping up with the threads. I just reread DR’s list of troll tactics and laughed. Brian won’t be specific about much of anything, but I think I’ve got the basics pegged. Christians are doing the right thing as long as they are obeying the Bible as interpreted by the church. They are not responsible for the harm they cause, (except on issues where they’ve changed their minds – the Inquisition, slavery) and Christian doctrine has no control over the law (or apparently much of anything,except the minds of it’s followers.) They are not free to reach out and prevent suffering, perhaps because that implies tolerance of, well, sins they just don’t tolerate. But it’s all OK, because no matter how much pain is in the world, Jesus will comfort the suffering. That’s what Jesus does. Plus it makes people grateful.

            It’s the classic Christian dodge: “Can’t help it. Must be God’s will.”

            Good night, everyone!

            And goodbye, Brian.

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

            If you’re paying attention Suz, which I know you are, you might notice another couple of overt dodges:

            1) The Inquisition WAS awful – but that was Catholics. I’m Protestant. Not. My. Fault.

            2) Slavery WAS horrible – but it was mostly Christians who were against it. Not. My. Fault. (Never mind that those who were FOR slavery were overwhelmingly of the Christian variety who are now opposed to homosexuality and who are still jumping up and down about states rights and property owner’s rights)

            3) Help! Help! I’m being oppressed! – Oh wait. That’s a Monty Python skit.

            I’ve said for a long time now (mostly about environmental issues): If you can’t see how you are part of the problem, then it’s pretty hard for you to be part of the solution.

            Those that have ears…. let them hear.

          • BrianW

            God reveals himself in Creation, but creation doesn’t tell us anything about God like the Bible does.

          • BrianW

            Suz,

            “I’ve got the basics pegged. Christians are doing the right thing as long as they are obeying the Bible as interpreted by the church”

            No you don’t have it pegged, because this isn’t right. There are are so called “churches” that interpret the Bible in such a twisted was as promote hate and heresy. You just don’t get, it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is at the heart.

            “They are not responsible for the harm they cause,” WOW, you really don’t get it, only the Catholic “church” believes that!!

            “Christian doctrine has no control over the law”, Well, sure I guess, but much of our laws have Bible roots.

            “They are not free to reach out and prevent suffering, perhaps because that implies tolerance of, well, sins they just don’t tolerate” Yup, you really don’t get it, because if you did you would know why we send missionaries, give to benevolence funds, conduct food drives and build rescue missions, hospitals and schools, counsel the spiritually lost and preach the Gospel to a needful peoples around the world.

            “But it’s all OK, because no matter how much pain is in the world, Jesus will comfort the suffering. That’s what Jesus does. Plus it makes people grateful.” That pretty much seals it, you are clueless as to what biblical Christianity is

          • Matthew Tweedell

            “OK, I just need it to be, but to clearify I don’t interpret the Bible ‘as’ the Word of God, I believe it IS the Word of God.”

            And that, my friends, is one of the most wicked heresies of our day, and a self-refuting one at that! For the Bible clearly and consistently maintains that the Word of God came down not in the form of a book or a collection of books but in the form of a Man! A text might indeed contain words concerning the Word, but the many do not add up to the One, true Word, when the very text asserts the Word is become flesh, and when the Truth is far greater than to be confined within the binding of a book! We might hear the Word, but the true Word is ineffable. We might depict the Word so as to make an icon of the Word, but to think that it really is the Word is to turn an icon into an idol. As others have intuited, it would seem you’ve fallen in among idol-worshippers, Mr. W.

          • Brian W

            Matt,

            Well you’re entitled to your opinion in all it’s rhetoric. You are clearly mistaken between the written Word (the Bible) and when the Word became flesh in Jesus Christ. Again what is central to God’s eternal redemptive purpose? It is Jesus Christ and the Gospel. We don’t worship the Bible as we worship God, but the Bible is Divine in it’s authorship.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            You actually have lost the distinction between God and Bible, inasmuch as you cannot tell the words of the one as unified by your own interpretive process from the unified Word of the other. The Biblical text is by no means Divine, even if the author is. How can you claim what is written at the hands of men (or the apparatuses of machines in the present age) as the Word of God? The Word of God is not written, is not made, but begotten. Are you implying that the Word of the unchanging God is not flesh even today? Is the Gospel not of the flesh but rather a certain sort of Gnosticism? Now, a better translation might be “Meaning” instead of “Word”: It is the Logos who is with God in the beginning and who is God, but the rhema is of that which is created (through the Logos no less). And though the true Word is both Logos and Rhema, and both God and Man, the essences remain unconfused. The substance of your precious Bible *is NOT divine*!

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Nice post, I agree and now I understand what you meant in other posts. The Bible is not “divine” in and of itself(only God is) but the Bible was Divinely inspired. I suppose my other posts came across that I hold the Bible to the same level as the Godhead – which I don’t. The Bible is not to be worshipped, that is reserved only to God.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            But if your standard for worshipping and for pleasing God comes anywhere but from God Himself (as when it comes from your Biblical interpretation), then you separate God into the god in whom is all authority (the Bible) and the god worthy of all praise (Father/Son/Holy Spirit). And what exactly is the worship of God, *according* to the Bible?

            “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

            “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

            There’s nothing about preaching (which, for whatever reason, has become the main and central component of the typical Protestant “Worship Service”) “God’s Word” for the sake of those whose understanding of Truth might otherwise (and surely diabolically, due to their fallen nature) be led to differ from my own, or anything like that at all.

          • Suz

            That was beautiful, Matthew! Just beautiful. Thank you for that reminder; it was refreshing to say the least.

          • BrianW

            Matt,

            Our standard of worship can only come from God himself, you claim, yet you quote from the Bible…..that’s good.

        • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

          The final authority, really, is Jesus Christ himself. Not a book.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Correct,but the final written authority is the Bible and all that we know of Jesus is contained in the Bible

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Not necessarily, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

          • BrianW

            Matt,

            Does you personal relationship with Jesue tell you more than what was in the Bible, can you share this additional revelation?

          • DR

            Brian, would you vote for gay marriage being legalized? yes or no? Looking forward to your answer, lots of people who’ve been kind to you have asked. How about you answer that question before you ask anything else. It’s the polite thing to do.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            First, *do* I have a personal relationship with Jesus?

            Well, I’d like to think I know him better than you, but as soon as I do that, I become just the sort of person I know Jesus is not likely to tolerate being associated with him forever.

            I do have a personal relationship with the Incarnation of the one and only Way unto all Truth, into which Spirit guides us. And all truth concerning the Christ is of that Truth. And I know the One by various names, Jesus indeed being among them, though I often encounter a Jesus who’s quite the antithesis to any Christ I could call my Lord and Savior. Yet I have a Lord, a Savior, a personal relationship with what I feel may be appropriately described as divine. And about Him I’m learning more all the time, not merely from a book or books, but from Communion with his incarnate Being. But whether I’m even Christian or not perhaps depends on your idea of the Christ. I’ll not add to the world’s confusion, contribute to the world’s division, by staking my own vain claim to being so-and-so’s disciple, but rather let you know whose disciple I am by what I do—that you may know the disciples of Christ by their love, howsoever you happen to understand it.

            Also, I understand the validity in both theistic and atheistic thinking and am comfortable functioning under either paradigm; for example, it doesn’t matter to me if you prefer to speak about my “Lord and God” or my “guiding principles”.

          • BrianW

            Matt,

            What kind of belief is that? some kind of a hodge podge of mysticism, spiritualism, pride (cuzz you know him better than me), Christianity, existentialism, deism gnostisism maybe and perhaps some others. Wow quite an interesting mixture. Kind of a smorgasboard of beliefs, pick what you want, what ever suits your needs and floats your boat.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            It’s not about what floats my boat. It’s about what sinks it—my illusion of it, that is: for in truth the boat is not mine.

            No, Brian, I’m quite clear in what I believe (though I don’t myself really feel any “needs” for whatever particular beliefs, and also I do not recognize distinctions by “kind of belief”): I know but ONE Way unto Truth! My belief is but whatsoever presents itself to me with sound reason for believing, while I reject any and all belief lacking just cause. For love believes all things, but superstition ain’t the Way—the Logos, Divine Reason, is.

            Consider the mixed-up beliefs you yourself have there: you need the Bible for the final authority, so then your interpretation has to be the final authority, so then the things that inform your interpretations must be your final authority, so then you’ll turn to the Bible as the final authority again, which says that that God is the final authority then; so then it follows that the Word of God is the final authority, and so it really is the Bible that’s your final authority, but then you have to interpret it, and then it’s some unnamed source(s) of presumed historical-grammatical interpretations who act as your final authority, except then YOU are the final authority because you elect to grant them that authority!

            I haven’t muddled my understanding, such that *real* inconsistencies abound—not differing perspectives, but perspectives inconsistent with the one, absolute Truth as I and others in the world know it and as you’ll sometimes see it before you become mired in familiar language that’s however confused in its intent, distorting while not actually having any clear denotation for you, never really finding basis in concrete reference, whether subjective or objective.

            As for me, though, just because I can say something in multiple languages doesn’t mean that I do not really know what I have to say.

          • DR

            What kind of belief is that? some kind of a hodge podge of mysticism, spiritualism, pride (cuzz you know him better than me), Christianity, existentialism, deism gnostisism maybe and perhaps some others. Wow quite an interesting mixture. Kind of a smorgasboard of beliefs, pick what you want, what ever suits your needs and floats your boat.”>>>

            And there you go. The gentle, seemingly gracious and kind Brian who “just wants to love people here and bring them to Jesus” just trashed someone else’s belief system actually stating that Matthew (his name, not “Matt”) has some kind of sub-standard, pick what you choose faith experience compared to Brian’s pure one.

            Well done, Matthew. It takes a while for people like Brian to really tell you who they are, they need to maintain a facade of “Christian kindness and love”, mostly for themselves and how they appear to others. But if you keep people like Brian talking long enough? That’s what you get, you get to the truth and you don’t have to do a thing. You just press him, you keep asking him great questions like you have, you keep countering him with thoughtful replies and then the facade goes away and you get to the truth. Which you know, sucks. It’s gross to see it. But it is what non-Christians have to deal with, it’s the kind of arrogant belief that Brian would never admit to publicly. But it’s good that he has because at least, now we know what others have to go through and we know what we need to stop in our own Church.

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

            B: What kind of belief is that?>>

            See, you say you want to focus on the good news of Jesus: Which is: The Way of Jesus will lead to the fullness of life.

            But your focus, really is on *belief*. This has been one of my points. Your focus on belief is your right to have. but for some of us the rules involved with holding to this “system” of belief get in the way of the *relationship* we have with God and with others. For us, right relationship is the focus, not right belief.

          • Suz

            Matthew, that was priceless! My head is spinning from how you clarified Brian’s words, and you did indeed clarify. You have exquisitely described the circular nature of his ego-driven faith. And I guarantee he has NO IDEA what you just said. Awesome.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            HI all,

            I understood Mattew just fine. God has given us His written Word contained in the Bible, the only and final written authority about Him There is no other written authority in regards to God. Now God is the only authority but he gave us this authoirty in written form also in the Bible.

            Now God teaches us about him through experiences, absolutely (but they are not authoritative) yet faith is essential. Matthew stated however “My belief is but whatsoever presents itself to me with sound reason for believing, while I reject any and all belief lacking just cause” This sounds like rationalism /evidentialism to me, though I could be mistaken.

            Matthew, do you have a final authority in your life? Is it reason, ratonalism, logic, experience, knowledge, do you then “interpret’ all this information to form what you beleive? Does the Bible play a part at all, if so, how much,how little what part do you beleive, what part not? Just curious.

            My beliefs isn’t anywhere near your humerous circular reasoning, that was funny thouigh. God comminucates to us (not audibly) , through the Bible, prayer, experience, events, other people, creation and other ways known but by Him. But in a written form, its just the Bible.

            I found this profound:

            “the one, absolute Truth as I and others in the world know it” WOW, where is this absolute truth that you and others know it? I gather that you know this absolute truth and I don’t, can you please share with me where it is if it’s written down somewhere other than the Bible? is this absolute truth written?

            I’m not the final authority -God is and I find it written down in the Bible, yes and by thorough study, prayer, asking for undestanding from God the Holy Spirit, I do my best to live a life as Jesus would want, though I stumble along the way for sure. Am I pure as DR falsly accuses me of? Far from it, but Jesus is pure, look to him, not me.

            DR the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ sucks? I have never tried to point people to me, but unto Christ and He alone, you want to focus on all my imperfections and “ego-driven” religion, but I point to Christ, learn of Him and His Gospel for forgiveness, love and everlasting life.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Christy,

            Belief in the biblical sense is a “utter trust in the continually active state” and that is belief in the entire Gospel – that is to LIVE it which of course is the relationship with God and towards your fellow-man (oops – fellow-person).

            Belief absolutely includes ACTION. The Bible even says, the devils believe and tremble. That is not the belief I’m referring to, it is a belief that results in cahnge of behavior.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            “Matthew, do you have a final authority in your life?”

            Yes.

            “Is it reason, ratonalism, logic, experience, knowledge?”

            No, His Name is above all names.

            “Do you then ‘interpret’ all this information to form what you beleive?”

            No, not in the meaning of “interpret” that I believe you have in mind, though my mind of course processes according to its design and function whatever information enters into it.

            “Does the Bible play a part at all, if so, how much,how little what part do you beleive, what part not?”

            I learn much from the Bible and believe the whole of it but know that I cannot rely on it for the whole of my knowledge and might not personally learn from a lot of what it contains much that’s real and meaningful for me. Now, I have no need to presume its truth, unless you want to presume its truth, in which case I feel the need to see things from your perspective and I find it more than suitable to admit such a premise as a basis of pursuing a common understanding with you. However, I’ve no desire to actively promote putting one’s unquestioning faith in whatever so-called literal interpretations of the Bible over, say, the Koran, scientific evidence, or whatever else.

            “God comminucates to us (not audibly) , through the Bible, prayer, experience, events, other people, creation and other ways known but by Him. But in a written form, its just the Bible.”

            He does communicate with us audibly as well, if He wills to do so. Or is Jesus a mute? And don’t forget about the angels. But more importantly, why on earth should I believe that, in a written form, it’s just the Bible? And if so, whose Bible? The Catholic Bible? The Ethiopian Orthodox Bible? The Slavonic Bible? The Bible that you happen to use? But all of these happen to contain Scriptures that others of them do not! When Paul (or at least according to the universal Church Tradition it was Paul) wrote that *all* scripture is God-breathed, what did he have in mind if not at least Septuagint, certain writings of which you’ve chosen to neglect? And wouldn’t *all* scripture include, for instance, the Buddhist Scriptures as well? And why do think—how do know—God’s never moved any hand to write anything, inspired by His Divine Spirit, for almost two millenia now?

            I’m not going to bother addressing your ridiculous questions regarding the absolute truth, except to ask that you learn better to read things in context.

            “I’m not the final authority -God is and I find it written down in the Bible…”

            But on what authority then do base such a finding?

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

            What about direct experiences with the Divine, Brian?

          • BrianW

            Christy,

            You have had direct experiences with the Divine? What did these experiences tell you, can you share with us?

          • DR

            No answer. Just a question to a question. You have no capacity for conversation that’s authentic.

          • DR

            Brian, would you vote for gay marriage being legalized? yes or no? Looking forward to your answer, lots of people who’ve been kind to you have asked. How about you answer that question before you ask anything else. It’s the polite thing to do.

          • BrianW

            marriage is not something we “vote on” it was ordained by God before there was a United States. That’s why my wife and I never deed seek a “license” from the state for a “legal” marriage because the state is not soveriegn over marriage (this is our personal conviction for religious reasons) . If two people want to get married, go ahead don’t let the “law” determine if you can get married, YOU decide.

          • DR

            You didn’t answer the question. I’ll ask it again in another way. Do you believe that gay men and gay women should be able to be considered “legally married”? Yes or no?

          • DR

            And in America, marriage is a legal contract. That you and your wife don’t participate in that is the exception to the rule and has nothing to do with the question I asked – that you continue to refuse to answer.

          • BrianW

            Well I didn’t answer it the way YOU wanted, but that is my answer, because marriage by my conviction is not something that is legal, I don’t think anyway should seek a “legal” state marriage. That is what I believe, take it or leave it.

            Remember the Gospel is what is important, not state recogozed marriage, what is it without God?

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

            Yes. We are loved beyond all possible imagination. We are loved. Opening ourselves to that love is transformative. Let go. Be aware. Look for the Divine in everything and everyone and you will find it.

            The church goes about looking for sin and that’s what they find. Look instead for love, and you will find the Divine.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            The love of the God is true and so is the sin in all our hearts that can keep us seperated from God’s love, its both Christy. You don’t have to look for sin, its all around us, it is the Love of God we must seek (as you said) and its found through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Brian:

            But the Love of God is equally all around us.

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

            Brian, psychologically and theologically there is an effective difference between saying, “Don’t sin” and “Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you God.”

            The focus on the negative, even in NOT doing the negative, draws our attention to the things we aren’t supposed to do.

            When we focus our attention on proactive living, service, etc. we draw our focus to the positive. When we are filled to overflowing with the fullness of understanding of the unconditional love of the divine…….It is very hard to sin when your life is so full of the positive.

            Are you familiar with contemplative practice and do you have any thoughts on that?

    • DR

      Zach I understand what you’re asking but with all due respect that information is available everywhere on the Internet. The real question is why you haven’t found the information yourself to either prove it or disprove it. I’m not here to do your research for you, neither is anyone else. The laziness amongst those of you demanding answers is a little shocking.

      • Zach

        Trust me, people, I’m far from “kicking and screaming”, I just don’t happen to live on the computer. DR, the reason I ask is because I’ve already done the research. Let us start with culture. To say that the Greeks had no concept of a “homosexual relationship” is, by virtue of history, highly disputable. Just because they didn’t prescribe a label doesn’t mean the concept wasn’t existent. Xenophon, Herodotus, Plato, Aristophanes, Athenaeus, and (possibly) Sappho wrote about homosexual behavior and deep male bonds. As I’ve said above, one needs to really study Plato’s Symposium in the parts where homosexuality is described in very peculiar terms that would denote a “lifestyle” (Plato is a famous homosexual who considered it a lifestyle). The Symposium even contains a line that says: “the women who do not care for men, but have female attachments”. This last line has echoes also in Sappho, who was a lesbian with her female students in the pre-polis society. Another intriguing mention of a homosexual lifestyle is in Aristophanes’ play about the sun, moon, and earth. To make a long story short, Aristophanes envisioned the creation of males and females as containing more people of a homosexual slant than people of a heterosexual slant. Get with me if you want more details. I believe this to be a good case that a homosexual slant was noticed by the ancients and that Paul, and educated man, would have known of these allusions.

        Next, to the Romans passage (1.18-32) (I must note, I am being brief here, forgive me, if you want a more comprehensive exegesis, let me know.). There seem to be two (2) arguments that favor a pro-gay reading of this passage: (1) Justice must supercede the words of Scripture (remember the popular phrase justicelove?) and (2) that certain Greek renderrings of the text are unclear (para phythsin, arhhenokoitai, etc.). Can we all agree upon these? Ok, logically, I reject the first argument. In the words of N. T. Wright, justice is not treating everyone the same, justice is treating everyone how they deserve to be treated. As Christians, we must live under some authority, and our authority is Scripture, which is attested to by the ancients (Chrysostom, Irenaeus, etc.). Second, the Greek terms and references are exegetical debates. Was Paul referring to Leviticus? Arhhenokoitai is found very little in a comprehensive scan of ancient-Koine Greek literature, so can we trust Paul’s use? Para phythsin as “against nature”? What nature? These are debates that have clear-cut sides, though one side has the clear intellectual superiority (the traditional, unfortunately for you guys). The only argument that is ever presented by the revisionists are emotional, which is a shame.

        Now, on to an analysis of the text (once again, Romans 1.18-32) from a historical-critical approach. Paul here is echoing Genesis 1, the creation of all things. From there, he walks us through the fall of man which has its basis in idolatry. Idolatry cuts people off from the source of life, the Lord God. The natural consequence of this is a shrinking of the image of God to the point of reversing the creative and natural order of things: males desire males and females desire females. To Paul, homosexuality was the sign of an even bigger problem, the reversal of God’s good creation. That’s the line of argument of traditionalists. Pro-homosexual interpreters of this passage fail to give a good analysis of what is in the text (see Boswell, Siker). They refer, instead, to Temple worship that was homosexual in behavior, but that today homosexuality is a committed lifestyle which was a foreign concept to the ancients like Paul. As noted above form classical Greek literature and philosophy, that is not the case.

        Once again, this is not a comprehensive argument and I am tired. Blessings to you all.

        • DR

          “…the reason I ask is because I’ve already done the research.”

          Well it looks like you already have it all figured out. You were here to lecture, not talk.

          The Bible says we find what we seek. If you are seeking the Truth of Christ as it relates to the minds, hearts and souls of gay men and women? You’ll find it. It’s so shocking to me than you are actually going to seminary school and you didn’t even acknowledge what I offered about gay kids committing suicide. I’ve brought it up probably a hundred times on this forum and none of you have ever addressed the fact that your theology is a huge reason why gay children commit suicide, you just blow right past it and stay myopically focused on your wall of text. Keep running using your words – God will catch up to you and again, God have mercy on you when He does, you have no idea what you’re doing. The heart of the stubborn never finds rest.

          • Brian W

            DR,

            So do you know why gay kids are committing suicide? Blame the Christians!!

          • Christy

            Brian, in my first posting on this thread I wrote: “Grace and compassion command us to attempt to understand the other, to see God’s image reflected in the other and to love without trying to change or fix them. To do otherwise is not love; it is ego and control.”

            Ego causes people to employ the “blame the Christians” meme, to get defensive, to feel threatened. This isn’t about you. It’s about kids like Bill Zeller (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/07/bill-zeller-dead-princeto_n_805689.html) who when abandoned literally or figuratively by their parents, their church, and society respond as one would expect they would based on the volumes of research done in human attachment theory by scientists like John Bowlby and Harry Harlow. I cannot overstate the psychological damage of the withdraw of parental love and affection nor how deeply this withdraw imposes on a child a sense of worthlessness and unlovablility. It is soul crushingly devastating – the stuff of the deepest sense of emptiness, grief, and despair.

            Reams of paper have been used to publish data about this effect on the human psyche. Years of work have been spent in therapist’s offices to dig oneself out of this, the darkest of pits. And countless people have suffered depression and sadly taken their own lives to escape this kind of unspeakable pain. (A more modern work on maternal abandonment which some here might find helpful is Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman).

            Now, one can choose to ignore this surfeit amount of peer reviewed, medical, scientific, and anecdotal data and the emotionally devastating stories of those who have lived through it…..

            or…..

            one can believe Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council……who have an agenda and a 501(c)(4) lobbying PAC to make sure no one “blames the Christians” for children killing themselves.

            I read an equally weak and poorly argued article this week by Glenn T. Stanton, director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family, over at Baptist Press. In it he said he found the comparisons between current opposition to gay marriage and homosexuality to the church’s past position on segregation and racial issues to be “deeply offensive” and at the mere suggestion of it he said, “Its stench is repulsive”.

            Well, while he and others within some churches may find such comparisons “deeply offensive” and “Its stench…. repulsive”, we, particularly those of us who follow the example and teachings of Jesus, are left to wonder why he is not so deeply offended by parents who (in the name of God) abandon and expel their children from their homes for being gay nor heartbroken by the outbreak of suicides by youth who feel so hopelessly abandoned by family, church, and society that they feel their only relief and refuge from such pain is by taking their own lives.

            No, he is offended because many have suggested that the church may not have shown proper hesed and compassion to some of God’s children.

            Parental abandonment and childhood despair should offend us far more than challenges to traditional notions, no matter how sacred they may be.

            I shouldn’t have to ask you to walk a mile in these gay kids shoes in order for you to feel compassion for them but please do so, and then tell me who I should feel more compassion for – them or the people who are hurting them.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            I never said that a sinner who is gay should be treated any differently than any other sinner who is not gay. Jesus treated all sinners the same, EXCEPT the religious self-righteous sinners of the day. We must come to Jesus on his terms, not ours. I grieve for gay kids shunned by family and their church, it is appalling because it is the family unit that God ordained from the beginning (father -mother- kids) and Christ shed his own blood for the church so to be shunned by such clearly Divine institutions is almost beyond belief.

            One of my childeren basically forsook her upbringing after she went to college. She has told me from her own mouth she no longer believes and it grieves her mother and me to no end, but my love for her has not diminshed one iota. If she would tell me some day that she were a lesbian, I would still love her the same

          • DR

            Brian why do you continue to CHANGE THE SUBJECT? We are talking about gay teen suicide for the 100th time. If you can’t handle it then please – I’m asking – stay out of the comment thread. I’m done being patient with you regarding this topic, there are gay men and women here who actually have attempted suicide as a result of our faith who are reading this blog and they have to watch you time and time again, not address it which has to be heartbreaking for them. And there are thousands of kids in trouble and if all you’re going to do is keep changing the subject then please just leave it the hell alone. If you don’t care about it or them enough to actually address the *actual topic* then we don’t control that. But have the decency to just stay out of the thread, for God’s sake. Thank you.

          • Brian W

            I don’t change the subject, I point to what really matters, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You talk about teen suicide and gay issues and I want to point all people to Jesus Christ and his love and salvation of sinners

          • Suz

            DR,

            I think it’s pretty clear to Brian. Those kids are sinners. He “grieves” for their anguish but he won’t prevent it, because they deserve it, according to the Bible. He can’t comprehend that the overwhelming complexity of the Bible is exactly what make it all so simple. His hands are too full if “twigs” to have room for the tree. Logic is not part of an arbitrary morality.

          • DR

            @ Suz:

            DR,

            I think it’s pretty clear to Brian. Those kids are sinners. He “grieves” for their anguish but he won’t prevent it, because they deserve it, according to the Bible.>>

            You’re right. I wish I could stop believing that people like this would actually care about these kids as a result of their faith, but you’re right, you’re right, you’re right. I have to manage my expectations more (thank you for this).

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            I said gay kids deserve anguish because the Bible says so? Not true, never said that, never will. Gay kids need to know that the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ is available to all. I give the Gospel to all freely and without prejudice. I can’t prevent anguish in world, I wish I could, but God can heal anguish in anyone.

          • Don Rappe

            The first requirement for GOOD NEWS is that the news must be good. If the news you have for people, including gay people. is not good, then you can be absolutely certain it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Don,

            Right on, The true and living Gospel of Jesus Christ IS THE GOOD NEWS,

          • DR

            You use the salvation of Christ as a way of not thinking about anything difficult. You are a like a lot of people Brian, you use your faith to hide from a world that you don’t want to think too much about and that you are probably, deeply afraid of dealing with too closely.

          • Suz

            Amen, DR, amen.

          • DR

            Brian, where outside of Christianity are they hearing the message that they aren’t fit to marry? Where are they hearing that they need to stop being a part of themselves to be 100% acceptable before God? There are other religions that offer that but Christianity is the dominant religion in the US. If you do any kind of research at all, gay kids in this country are the #1 group of kids to commit suicide and belief that they are “wrong” is cited as one of the primary reasons. I’ll wait for your answer.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            In the Muslim culture they are told that, so it is not limited to just Christianity DR. Our sin nature can manifest itself in many desires and impulses contrary to the way God intended us to live. We are all sinners before God and salvation from that sin is only found in Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t call the (self) righteous, but sinners to repentance, ALL sinners whether gay or straight.

            A person “born” with a strong desire and impulse to have say hetrosexual sex outside of the bonds of marriage and with multiple partners is sinning before God, whether or not they “were born that way”. We’re all born with a sin nature, that doesn’t mean that since we’re born that way we can act and live by that nature. We must repent and flee to Christ for forgivness and that the Holy Spirit controls your heart, mind and body. Yield to God.

            “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotton Son that whoseover believes on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life”.

          • DR

            I’m not going to allow you to change the subject. Muslim theology is not contributing to gay kids *in America* who are killing themselves at an alarming rate because of what your interpretation of the Bible is telling them. Muslim theology is not the dominant contribution to American culture as it relates to homosexual orientation being evil. Even Dobsen admits it’s a problem. Take some responsibility for it.

          • Brian W

            Christianity isn’t the cause of gay teen suicide, sin is the cause. I’m not saying their sin but sin in a general sense. Jesus is the giver of life and life eternal, not death and suicide.

          • Suz

            “Christianity isn’t the cause of gay teen suicide, sin is the cause. I’m not saying their sin but sin in a general sense. ”

            Really? So they’re the scapegoats for “sin in general? OK, got it. What of the sin of Christians who persecute God’s children in God’s name?

            “Jesus is the giver of life and life eternal, not death and suicide.” You got that part right; it’s not Jesus who gives death, it’s his followers.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            What of the sin of Christians who persecute God’s children in God’s name? Are you referring to the Catholic Inquisition of Christians? If and when this occurs it is biblically and morally appalling. FALSE followers of Jesus give death, not his true followers who are the light of the world and the salt of the earth spreading the Gospel to the hedges and by-ways toa hurting and needful peoples around this world.

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

            Depression isn’t caused by sin, Brian. Feeling abandoned and unloved is one of many causes. On this we need to be clear.

          • Zach

            DR,

            Thank you skipping the argument. Maybe those young people need to take a lesson from men like Henry Nouwen. Or even from a personal friend of mine who is a gay Christian and celibate because he knows what the Bible teaches. When faced intellectually, you back into an emotional argument.

          • DR

            Oh I see. Kids committing suicide because they believe as a result of your theology, they are unholy before God is an ‘emotional’ argument. A repulsive suggestion laced with tremendous ignorance, but one that a lot of Christians believe.

            Zach, I’m sure you’ll write me off as a misguided Liberal Christian that you’re doing battle with in the righteous name of Jesus. I’m sure that’s why you’re here, you want to prove everything wrong. But if you have any kind of conscience at all, you know you’re relying upon your “intellectual” argument – the one that is rooted in your homophobia and your legalism – because you can’t quite handle the fact that we as a Church is harming the GLBT community.

            Your mentality is dying, in a few years your theology will be as relevant as it was when this kind of thinking kept African-Americans in the US and whites from worshipping in the same church together. In the meantime, we’ll keep doing the best we can to clean up your mess with these kids – the one you refuse to deal with. But their blood is on your hands. How you people sleep at night is so incredible to me but I suppose it’s because you get the option of just not thinking about it, not facing it, you hide within your intellect. It’s the creepiest thing for me to watch as a Christian, but this is what non-Christians have been facing for years and have run from so ithere you go.

          • Zach

            Really? It’s dying? I wouldn’t say that too loud to the Catholics and the Orthodox. Your belief is a fairly recent development and is not shared by the majority of Christians in the world.

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

            Have you read much Marcus Borg?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Umm… DR *is* Catholic. A lot of Catholics are far more liberal than you seem to be aware of. And me—I’m attending an Orthodox church this Sunday (as I have most Sundays, and not only Sundays, this year), where I do freely speak my mind out loud (except in the middle of the services, obviously).

          • DR

            Don’t be ridiculous. The Evangelical frenzy and politicizing religion came to full fruition in the Nixon years. Educate yourself.

          • DR

            PS, Zach – the latest gallop poll on whether or not the GLBT community should be able to legally marry shows that over 50% of our population now believes that’s true. It’s in one of John’s recent posts on this topic, he links to it directly. Given the stats in America show that over 65% of our citizens (assuming you’re from the USA) are Christian? Looks like the majority tide is changing.

          • Christy

            Zach, I find it disingenuous that you would invoke Henri Nouwen’s celibacy (as a Catholic priest) as exemplary while I surmise you might take issue with his anti-war, anti-nuclear stands as well as his overt spirituality.

          • DR

            Besides the point that Henri N writes openly about his struggle with suicidal thoughts. I couldn’t even go there.

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

            Yes, but Zach and Brian and Tony Perkins will say that he struggled with depression *because* he was gay, not because of how he knew society and the church treated and viewed gays.

            Evangelicals and traditionalists tend to stick with the free will meme and frequently display no insight into how their own actions and belief systems contribute to the pain of others nor are they quick to admit fault or take personal responsibility for their own behavior. ( I concede using broad brush strokes here; this has been my personal experience in a multitude of encounters).

            Compassion is not the same as sympathy. Compassion is feeling with the other, putting ourselves in the place of the other and seeing from that point of view and acting accordingly. And when our self-concept, our cherished notions, our convictions of certitude are at the center of our circle of concern it blocks compassion and ego will not allow another to sit on that throne. Dethroning the (particularly self-righteous) ego is the key to compassionate awareness and living, IMHO.

          • Zach

            Christy,

            In actuality, I am an ardent Ron Paul supporter and am anti-war. Thanks for trying.

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

            I said “might”.

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

            How about the spirituality part?

          • DR

            Are you for legalizing gay marriage?

          • http://outofthegdwaye.wordpress.com/ George W.

            Irony abounds in Zach’s comments here.

            I especially love the “You don’t care to address my arguments” charge, when Matthew laid bare an elegant defense which resulted in a response that can be summed up with Zach responding “Very Clever! (like this is a bad thing), let me hand wave the entire argument away in less than a paragraph, and finish with a passive aggressive flourish about sin.”

            Guess what Zach? You don’t care to address Matthew, and this results in others being less inclined to bother addressing you substantively.

            After your hand waving of Matt, you refuse to even consider his argument as one of your two “strong pro-gay” exegeses of Romans 1. Why is that? Why is it that you won’t address the only two biblical defenses offered by people on this blog? I bet I know why. I bet it is because you have been taught that the only two arguments against your exegesis of Romans are the two that you offered. You find yourself in the unenviable position of having to think on your feet, and you’re doing a quite poor job of it.

            No, Zach, we do not agree with your false trichotomy of Gay Option A, Gay Option B, or Zach Is SOOOO Right. That is ridiculous. You know it, I know it, everyone paying attention here knows it.

            Romans 1 is an address by Paul to the Romans, warning of the blending of Pagan ritual into Christian worship. If one reads the whole chapter in context, one is immediately struck by the fact that all these things mentioned are very much intertwined with pagan worship. It is not a condemnation of homosexuality, it is a condemnation of sexual acts as part of worship, and of sexual immorality outside of committed relationships. It is a condemnation of “when in Rome”.

            The key words in the passages in question are that in v.24, immediately after talking about idolatry , Paul talks about sexual impurity quite obviously outside of homosexuality(else v.26-27 are entirely redundant). Then in v.26-27 he uses the terms “exchanged”,and “abandoned”. He is talking in plain language about polyamory, about abandoning fidelity for wonton sexual pleasure.

            The whole passage screams of castigation against those who would mix pagan rites with Christian ones, it drips with language that clearly leads one to the conclusion that it is about pagan traditions being wrongly brought into Christian culture. It nowhere appears to outright forbid homosexual relations, only the orgy culture of ancient Rome.

            To wave this aside, as you did with Matthew, is as ridiculous as saying that because pagans glorified their God with celebrations and feasts, that we ought not feast or fellowship. Just as in these cases, it is not if you feast or fellowship that is ungodly, it is how you feast or fellowship. It is not the act of homosexuality that is wrong, it is the nature of those who have sex. Romans 1 condemns lust, and lack of respect for your sexual person, not homosexuality.

            If Rome at the time of Paul were not an “orgy culture”, if the culture was a predominately monogamous one, with a pagan religion that had not sexualized worship, I doubt if we would even be having these discussions.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            In all fairness, Zach couldn’t have considered my argument when he wrote that, since mine was posted 9 minutes later.

          • http://outofthegdwaye.wordpress.com/ George W.

            Mea Culpa.

            These multiple nested threads make it confusing, but I should have checked the time stamp. Sorry.

            He still ought to have acknowledged your observation as an obvious possible exegesis though, as it is the argument I am most familiar with….

          • Scott

            Zach,

            The reason it is difficult for you to get the “type” of debate you are wanting is because you are starting from an interpretive position that is different from others here. Everyone is debating with you, they are just doing it from different auditoriums. You seem to embrace a version of fundamentalist or evangelical interpretation. That is fine. But most here, I would guess, do not read the Bible the same way. For many of the people here, the Bible (or more specifically in this case, the New Testament) may be 27 attempts by 1st century Jews at explaining their ideas about God, not actually God’s inspired words as typically understood by fundamentalist Christians… i.e., the Holy Spirit guided their hands to prevent error or untruth.

            In that case, even if you could “prove” your interpretation was the correct one, it wouldn’t really do much to change the minds of people whose interpretive framework is so different from your own.

            In the end, to have the kind of debate you seek, you would first have to convince everyone that the way you read the Bible is the correct way. Good luck.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Scott,

            You know, ultimately you’re right, because people on here hold many different views and opinions of the Bible itself, it results in many different beliefs and interpretative frameworks. Good observation.

    • Don Rappe

      Wow, take a little 28 hour bus trip and a couple 20 hour naps and look what happens, The world’s longest comment string, far beyond the power pf mere indentation to organize. A lot of good expression of faith along with the clink and flash of swordplay as well as Mathew’s surgically precise insights. Lots of genuine loving tolerance too. Zach, I haven’t been to a seminary like yourself, but my thinking has been formed in the streets and playgrounds of Chicago, as well as its public and parochial schools and its University. In this spirit, I suggest you take your tiny doxa and insert it into your praxis. When you figure out why that is so irritating, you may begin to figure out the good news that Jesus the Christ brought us. Still a lot of heat seems to be generated by distinctly different ideas of what the term Christian should mean. Since the term is not a particularly Biblical one and Jesus didn’t speak of it directly, I would suggest we can find an appropriate meaning for it if we examine the question of Jesus: “Who was neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?” This is the climactic statement of the parable of the theological test question, (Gospel of Luke) Jesus was asked a question, not out of interest in the answer, but, to test his theology.”What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus drew from him the correct answer from the Torah, words which we call the Great commandment. When he claimed hot to know who was meant by “neighbor”, Jesus went on to explain that it was not those with right religious practices or those with right theology, but rather, with the right love, no matter how unorthodox their religious system, who was neighbor to the man who fell among thieves. I would suggest this can also tell us who is (or isn’t) the Christian. It was the followers of the Way that began to be called Christians.

  • David Nickell

    What a sad thing that this is even a matter of controversy. This “caustic, tired, toxic, hateful” bs will not end as long as there are those who anthromorphise their concept of the Divine and insist that ancient religious texts are somehow literally true. These people are not confined to Christianity and are seen in all religions. Most people have moved on. Those that haven’t (in every religious tradition) cause incredible pain and suffering. They kill, maim and hate defending their own prejudices whether they are the Taliban, Hindu fundamentalists or Christians who hang onto their texts. Also, it won’t end until we call it what it is. Thanks for doing that.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Neither the Taliban nor Christian fundamentalists are really particularly literal in their understanding of their scriptures, except where it would seem to benefit their cause, affirming their particular prejudices.

  • David Nickell

    How sad that this is still a matter of controversy. This “caustic, toxic, hateful, homophobic” bs will not stop as long as there are those who insist on anthromorphising their concept of the divine and believing that ancient texts are meant to be taken literally. They are not confined to Christianity but are found in most religious traditions. Most people have moved on. Whether it is the Taliban, Hindu fundamentalists or Christians who justify their prejudice on particular texts while ignoring others, they kill, maim and hate in the name of religion. Thanks for calling it what it is.

  • David Nickell

    My bad…I posted the same thing twice. I probably need to become more computer savvy and not take myself so seriously.

  • http://www.tableofwisdom.com Scott Anderson

    I read this post quoting the “unknown” homosexual women claiming to be in harmony with Christ and noticed a few things and I have capitalized key words she used within the quotes for emphasis:

    UNKNOWN: “It’s like giving up -MY- life.”

    UNKNOWN: “I had this incredible EXPERIENCE with the Holy Spirit”

    UNKNOWN: “…I thought I would never FEEL because of the fact that I’m gay.”

    UNKNOWN: “Do you think I am seeking for more knowledge about God and homosexuals just because I just want to justify my sin?! Or am I doing this because there is really is something about homosexuals that the world should know about?”

    No, there’s something about -sin- that the world should know about. We like sin because we are inherently sinners.

    UNKNOWN: “as I scan through your Facebook page I found more Christians who are not against homosexuality…and that gave me hope. Hope that I can be myself.”

    “I honestly don’t wanna think anymore about whether or not being gay is a sin. I just wanna live and be myself and serve God.”

    Finding a faction of people who will inspire you by saying it is not a sin doesn’t change what He said is sin. It’s not a democracy.

    UNKNOWN: “If God did not want me to be this way, I should have just been straight in the first place.” everyone could say that about sins with which they struggle.

    The word “my” and “self” appears repeatedly in this remonstrance. That’s something to think about.

    UNKNOWN: “My desire is to be free and have no one judge me.”

    Christians who believe what God’s word says is sin are not judging. God’s word is clear and He is the judge. If one says they are engaging in -any- behavior that His word indicates -is- sin, there is nothing left to judge. There is no ambiguity.

    The many who profess to be followers of Christ, while still blatantly living in sin and disobedience CANNOT be truly repentant if they are making a decision to continue in their “lifestyles” that God has declared sinful. It is one thing to fall into temptation, then to be repentant and to earnestly try to turn form one’s sin. The emerging doctrine is enabling people to be deceived and to eventually die in their sins with the contorting of scriptures and introducing thoughts that there may be loop holes after they die (like Rob Bell’s recent book), in contradiction to the clear totality of scriptures.

    This is where the “church” is going in these days. This is not an example of repentance. No human being needs to “judge” her. God already has because he said we have to “repent and turn from our wickedness”. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. God does not change and if he said homosexuality is an abomination – HE – has made the judgment, not me or the church. This woman who wrote this is like the women at the well in one sense, which is to say that she is looking to quench her thirst from a well that would never satisfy (lust and sexual sin). However, Jesus told her and us that if we drink from HIS well, we would never thirst again.

    This is a clear example of someone who has said that she is following Jesus but has set her own terms, which is to continue sinning without compunction. The cunning craftiness of Satan himself who seeks to devour her and everyone else who embraces that notion.

    In this movement we keep coming across the buzz words like “experience”.

    It’s not about our “experiences” as salvation is not based on a feeling and our interpretations of them are capricious and prone to deception. It’s about the unambiguous truth of God’s word. The clear truth, unequivocal to all denominations of Christianity is that to spend eternity with God we must admit our sin, repent, turn from wickedness and accept the blood of Jesus for our atonement. Then and only then are we no longer “under the law”.

    There are many other sins to be certain; however, the homosexual “movement” has been on a mission – to campaign for acceptance of their sins as opposed to repentance. Fornicators, idolaters and adulterers have not been mounting as rigorous a campaign for us to specifically give approbation. They may be deluding themselves while attending church but I haven’t seen them hosting “fornicator pride” parades. The participants of the gay agenda are working tirelessly to not get us to ignore them but to commend their sin. A gay church a mile away from me called The Metropolitan Community Church had on its marquis this Sunday – “The Romance of David & Jonathan”.

    • DR

      Friends,

      I’m so glad Scott Anderson showed up because he is a prototype of a very dangerous man who we have allowed as a church to continue doing what he does “n the name of Jesus” because we’ve somehow become paralyzed and neutered by the idea that we have to be kind and gentle and protect his free speech.

      This is not a man who is misguided. This is pathology. This is someone who is so terrified and broken that he has wrapped our church around him so tightly that he doesn’t have to feel anything else. He has insulated himself from the world and is using us. He is using our church. And we let him do it, these people who so off-balanced and creepy that actually spend the time that he did going through and copying pasting these comments.

      This is the kind of angry, hostile pathology that our gay kids are facing. This kind of man who talks a really good, holy name very earnestly and also kicks his kids out of his home. I’ve met the Scott Andersons of the world, dozens of them. I’ve watched them look into their child’s eyes with revulsion and disappointment. The Scott Andersons of the world don’t care that gay kids commit suicide because of him. Sure, he might say he does. He might get angry with me, it doesn’t matter. What matters is for those of us in the middle? It’s time to pick a lane. You are on Scott’s side or you are on the side of these kids. And they need you. THEY NEED YOU. They need you to protect them from Scott Anderson, they need you to have the courage to really examine why you believe what you believe, they need you to believe them and they need you to prioritize them over the fear of being wrong and what that might mean for you security-wise.

      Scott Anderson will never change. But we together can at least protect those who are vulnerable from him far better than we’re doing now.

    • Diana A.

      “The many who profess to be followers of Christ, while still blatantly living in sin and disobedience CANNOT be truly repentant if they are making a decision to continue in their “lifestyles” that God has declared sinful. It is one thing to fall into temptation, then to be repentant and to earnestly try to turn form one’s sin.”

      Okay, Scott, so I assume that when it comes to your own sins, you’ve undergone electric shock therapy in an attempt to stop yourself from commiting that particular sin, right?

      And, of course, you’ve cut into the part of your body with which you sinned and then poured lye upon it, right?

      No?

      Then shut up. Because I have heard many stories over the years of gay people who have gone to these lengths to try to stop themselves from the “sin” of being gay. It didn’t work, but at least they tried. And if you’re not willing to go to similar lengths to stop your own sin, you don’t need to be judging the sins of others. Any others. Clear?

    • Christy

      There is actually quite a lot of biblical evidence of a deeply loving relationship between David and Jonathan. Whether sexual or not, such an intimate friendship is a beautiful gift.

      RE: Experience

      Scott, I was born again when I asked Jesus into my heart about the age of 7 and baptized by full immersion about the age of 12…..but I didn’t know God until I experienced God’s fullness of unconditional love a few days after the birth of my first child…..when I held that pink, squirmy, helpless bundle in my arms – whom I didn’t know anything about, whom I’d only just met – and I knew that I would do anything for him. I would give up everything for him. I would go without food for him. I would love and protect him – fiercely. I would die for him. I would let nothing and no one come between me and my child.

      And in that moment – I had a knowing, a gnosis, an experience of the Divine – that this is the way that God loves us……and it has made all the difference.

      Blessings on your journey, my friend.

    • Suz

      ” …contorting of scriptures and introducing thoughts …” This has been going on since before scriptures were ever written down. Has it not occurred to you that “scripture” as you know it, might ALREADY be misrepresenting a few things?

      I find your attention to the word “self” to be quite telling, and I have news for you. Mans interpretations of man’s words about God are not perfect now, and they weren’t perfect when YOUR version was established. I’m afraid you are not speaking from a very strong platform. Pot, meet Kettle. Splinters and planks, etc.

    • Don Whitt

      I’m humming, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love…” in my head, just for ironic effect.

    • RayC

      And, Scott! It’s your inane, scientifically dubious, and culturally insensitive ramblings based on a text written thousands of years ago for culture so unlike ours that reaffirms why I am not a Christian. Thank you!

      • Brian W

        You’re not a Christian today because you chose not to be a Christian, not because of the Bible

        • RayC

          You’re right. I chose not to be a Christian. Part of the reason I chose not to be a Christian is because of the Bible, but it’s much more than that. I realized that I don’t need the Bible to act ethically. And since salvation became a moot point with Evolution trumping creation I don’t see the point in continuing on as a Christian.

          Christianity no longer acts as a barrier to me loving my neighbors as myself, including homosexuals. It really is liberating not to have to adhere to a book written from the perspective of a culture and time so utterly different than mine. Of course, I do read the Bible and like Jefferson, find some good in it, but on the level that I might find good in Shakespeare or Camus.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            How would or how does Christianity act as a barrier to you loving your neighbor when Jesus commanded it? Also there are Christians that believe in “theistic evolution” and it doesn’t “trump” creation, since in the beginning God created the universe. Science now belives the universe had a beginning, there was a time they didn’t believe that. The teachings of God’s progressive revelation to people are timeless, regardless of when it was penned, human nature is human nature, there is nothing new under the sun.

          • RayC

            Evolution trumps Creation as it is explained in the Bible, i.e. the taxonomy of things as they are were created are and always will remain the same (Creation), whereas, in Evolution the taxonomy of things are forever changing micro by micro measurement sometimes into micro-measurment. Some theists do make a concession for microevolution, true, but the primary forms remain the same, human qua human, etc.

            The real issue, however, is that Evolution nullifies the need for salvation. In the Biblical framework, the current, some would say, less than desirable state of humanity is due to a decision made by Adam and Eve, via Satan, to disobey God. They were perfect before and became imperfect after. Evolution does not support this before and after scenario; instead, it supports an accrual of characteristics contributing to form over time and the process tends to a better rather than inferior form. The Fall denotes a reversal of this: a process, or rather an instant, beginning with a better form and moving toward an inferior one.

            Concerning the barrier of Christianity. I will say this: I accept Homosexuals on their own terms not on mine. This is not the case with most (a lot of) Christians. They do not accept Homosexuals on their own terms, but only according to how they think Homosexuals ought to be. I usually eschew “oughts” of this sort in favor of actuality.

          • RayC

            Correction:

            whereas, in Evolution the taxonomy of things are forever changing micro by micro measurement sometimes into micro-measurement.

            Should read: whereas, in Evolution the taxonomy of things are forever changing micro by micro measurement sometimes into macro-measurement.

            Sorry! :)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            “… the process tends to a better rather than inferior form.”

            Actually, not really. If you mean subjectively better, well, that may be your opinion, but the process itself is cold and indifferent. If you mean either more complex or more fit for survival, then what happened to all the dinosaurs while the (relatively) simple fern has survived? And we’ve no really reason to think that man should survive nearly so long, so well, as the dinosaurs.

          • RayC

            The process towards a better form is simply that each modification that enhances chance of survival is favored while each modification that inhibits a chance of survival usually dies out because it didn’t enhance survival. One thing is for sure, there was never the perfect existence of a being, ala Adam and Eve.

            The dinosaurs? No one knows for sure, but the best bet is that they died in a major catastrophic event, possibly an asteroid or some other event that caused a sudden decimation of their population.

            I have my doubts about man’s ultimate survival, but that has nothing to do with Evolution and everything to do with our own mismanagement of our environment. Of course, eventually the Sun will die expanding and subsuming the Earth, but that won’t be for another decade or so! :)

          • Matthew Tweedell

            My point was not about what caused the dinosaurs to die out but that, whatever it was, their survivability given the circumstance was clearly less than that of organisms lower down on the evolutionary tree, the point being that the process doesn’t necessarily result in forms that actually have a greater chance of surviving, just ones that, so far, actually *had* *any* chance of surviving.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Well, the universe has an *open* temporal beginning—that is, time is discontinuous at the origin; a point of absolute 0 time does not in fact exist. And this is part of why, even if we’re to speak of the universe’s beginning, it doesn’t mean there was ever anything *outside* the universe that got it going in the first place. (And even if that were possibly the case, where then did that come from? We’ll have to eventually halt such a {meaningless, inasmuch as we know no true referents for whatever words we might vainly use in pursuing this} line of reasoning somewhere: the most prudent is just to stop at the edge of what we actually have evidence of {which also happens to leave us with the most efficient model to work with}.)

            But it ought to be clear that the Bible is obviously not talking about a *temporal* beginning!

        • DR

          That’s not what he said. That you refuse to listen to him is entirely your issue, not his. Stop telling people the *real* reasons why they are doing things.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      “We like sin because we are inherently sinners.”

      Speak for yourself.

      I caution the reader not to believe the lie.

      “It’s not a democracy.”

      Now that much is true: the majority doesn’t get to have it however they want, even though the majority of evangelical Christians would like to have God condemn the sexuality he imparts to someone.

      “everyone could say that about sins with which they struggle.”

      No, not everyone has been drinking from the same cup as you, pal.

      “There is no ambiguity.”

      Nope, not for me anyway. The only question is why you don’t see it…

      “God does not change and if he said homosexuality is an abomination – HE – has made the judgment, not me or the church.”

      Are you sure about that? Or perhaps God does change but what is revealed of him does? Or perhaps nothing is directly “revealed” of him at all, but just compiled by people in attempts to explain the Mystery? And what about where the manuscript you cling to proves to be in error? What about when you, in the light of truth and love, prove to be living in error? For you have given yourself over to an idol made of letters on paper, for no other reason than that you’ve simply chosen to interpret your world in some fundamental way on that basis (though inasmuch as you need definitions to understand things, you are actually interpreting the scriptures rather on the basis of your world; so, even though, for instance, God *never* says “homosexuality” is itself any kind of abomination, well… whatever). Without objective reason, you just believe it; so, gee, it must be so.

      Yet you have the nerve to imply (but not the guts—or perhaps just not the total lack of wherewithal—to directly accuse) that this brave, but struggling, young lady is being self-centered!

      “The cunning craftiness of Satan himself who seeks to devour her and everyone else who embraces that notion.”

      As a friend of mine likes to say with an exaggerated south-midland drawl, “The devil is a liar.” Let the reader bear that in mind and look for where the telltale signs of the one who is truly deceived on the matter are to be found. And he might at first seem to be quite cunning indeed in his attempt to deceive people so as to undermine the very Love of God, but he will not—he cannot—win: The war rages on, but this here battle is almost lost. Surely his minions must realize this soon enough, and if they’re smart, they’ll begin to pull back from their positions (so let the reader watch for that here as well).

      “The Romance of David & Jonathan”

      Awwwwwe… So did you attend? Oh that’s right… it’s a gay church; sure, I’m sure they could never welcome unrepentant straight guys like yourself into the fold! (But what was that Jesus said about how we’re to love our neighbor?)

  • http://ZachandBrianW Scott

    The reason it is difficult for you to get the “type” of debate you are wanting is because you are starting from an interpretive position that is different from others here. Everyone is debating, they are just doing it from different auditoriums. You seem to embrace a version of fundamentalist or evangelical interpretation. Fine. But most here, I would guess, do not read the Bible the same way. For many of the people here, the Bible (or more specifically in this case, the New Testament) may be 27 attempts by 1st century Jews at explaining their ideas about God, not actually God’s inspired words as typically understood by fundamentalist Christians… i.e., the Holy Spirit guided their hands to prevent error or untruth.

    In that case, even if you could “prove” your interpretation was the correct one, it wouldn’t really do much to change the minds of people whose interpretive framework is so different from your own.

    In the end, to have the kind of debate you seek, you would first have to convince everyone that the way you read the Bible is the correct way. Good luck.

    • Scott

      Oops, this response is addressed to Zach.

    • Zach

      Scott,

      I could not agree more. In the end, it all comes down to how you view the Scriptures.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        So why view the Scriptures in any way that they make your god out to be a bigot (or worse, deranged: he not only discriminates but simply makes up distinctions to be used as the basis of discrimination w/o prior cause against certain particular beings that he first bothers ensouling by his own spirit and making after his own image!)? And why would you stoop to worship such a being?

        Have you no dignity? Know you no absolute truth that is what it is regardless of the scripture you read and how you interpret it? Is there no love?

        If so, then there’s certainly no God—nor has there ever been any real need to invoke one to explain anything in the world; so, in that case, why not just let it go, Zach?

        • Suz

          Amen.

        • RayC

          Matthew,

          Does this go for God as represented in the Hebrew Scriptures? If anybody need bi-polar medicine and perhaps Thorazine, it was Him.

          • RayC

            Or, are we just retrofitting our ideas stemming from a modern framework onto a culture and God of a wholly different time and place?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I think we’re figuring out how the ancient framework fits the modern culture more than fitting the modern culture to the ancient framework (though perhaps people like as Zack, Brian W, etc., would wish it were possible to do the opposite). As for the gods of the ancients and the moderns: there is a sense in which there is but one God, outside of time; there is a sense in which there’s no God anywhere; and there’s a sense in which, to each world, God presents differently (e.g. the ancient Mesopotamic world or the modern increasingly global world). And the three preceeding and clearly non-overlapping claims of God coexist in Trinity—which is not to say that Trinity itself necessarily “exists”.

          • RayC

            I really get a lot from your insights, Matthew. Thanks!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Glad to know I’m not tapping away at the keyboard for my own amusement :)

  • John Shore lives on my bumper sticker (Erin D.)

    Never fails to get me: People who think they believe so vehemently in the Bible’s “call against homosexuality” that they think they would be fighting on the same side of the issue, were they gay. Ha ha funny! Prove how much you believe in the Bible’s “call” for homosexuals to live devoid of romantic love and family. Make YOUR life the blessed, shining, holy example of how you think homosexuals should live. No, really! You believe gays in committed relationships with children are committing a sin so egregious that the only way they could be made right with God is to disband their family. So…prove it can be done if one loves God enough! Leave your wife; abandon your kids. Make your home as empty and quiet as possible. You’ll have your Bible to keep you warm in bed night after night, year after year. Maybe your charitable fellow church-goers will endure the awkwardness of having you at their family table for Christmas and Easter, maybe Thanksgiving too if you are lucky. But alas, one day you will get old. Patients with families will get visits in the nursing home. No one will visit you, but you can read your Bible alone in the corner and go over and over those five all-powerful “anti-gay” Bible passages and feel grateful that you don’t have kids to be proud of or grandchildren to dote on, because YOU are doing God’s will. Maybe someone will cry over your grave, or maybe not since you never belonged to anyone or had anyone belong to you. But you did what God wanted, so you die with a smile on your face. Ah, good for you. You think that kind of life should be good enough for homosexuals? Prove it is good enough for you too. Until then, I take nothing you say seriously.

    • RayC

      Powerful, John!

      • RayC

        or, Erin?

        • Erin D.

          LOL…sorry it is confusing. I fixed my name. :)

          And thanks!

  • Mindy

    Wow. I don’t read John’s blog for 24 hours and all hell breaks loose! Or . . . Scott Anderson and BrianW and Zach break loose.

    They are exactly the reason I doubt I will ever consider myself a Christian. I can’t. They are so lost between the letters of the words in the chapters of the Bible that they have no clue what is going on around them, in the real world, where we actually LIVE. That God made up a bunch of arbitrary rules and said, “Follow ‘em, or else!” is simply nonsense.

    I know so many of you here ARE good Christians, following Christ and living as he taught to the best of your abilities, both gay and straight. I know that we have much in common. I can say without reservation that I love John Shore, that I am in awe of DR, Christy, Suz, Don, and many others who post here. But I cannot reconcile the Bible-as-weapon mentality of people like Scott A. et al. It’s too ugly, too out of touch, too cruel. And because their reasoning is based on something other than reality, arguing with them is utterly pointless.

    I will be fighting for gay rights until they are real. I will support all institutions that are inclusive. And I beg of you wonderful Christian people here to please, please, please shut the rest of them up. Don’t let them speak for your religion. Don’t let them keep it mired in ugliness.

    • Brian W

      The Bible isn’t a weapon or bondage it is God’s love letter to a fallen and sinful people and his eternal redemptive purpose of his people as embodied in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Truth begins and ends with God and his revealled word, the Bible.

      • Mindy

        Sorry, Brian, don’t buy it. Can’t. Won’t. Too many of you use it to discriminate and to feel superior to the rest of us heathens who are doomed to burn for all eternity. In your worldview, that’s where I’ll end up – because I know the stories and I reject them. I choose to live my life, to the best of my ability, as a good person. I try to be caring and generous and compassionate. I try to do good works. I fail, and when I do, I try to correct my mistakes, make up for them and repair them. And I do not live in fear of eternal retribution from a bully God I could never believe in. I do believe in God. Just not yours.

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

          I have found it helpful to hear from wise spiritual guides that the Divine does not at all care what you believe……the Divine cares how you live. How we live is the manifestation (or the lack thereof) of the Divine in our lives.

        • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

          Mindy,

          The freedom to believe what you want is a wonderful possession. I don’t use the Bible to feel superior at all, in fact I’m inferior and unworthy of God’s free or soveriegn grace. The central thread of the Bible is God’s eternal redemptive purpose of his people as embodied in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Gospel. Woven in that thread isn’t fear it is the LOVE and MERCY and FOREGIVENESS of God.

          • DR

            Mindy, Brian is simply trying to trap you into saying that it’s the Bible itself that is the reason you reject Christianity. Not the way he and others are using it which is what you and others have said a million times. I think it’s lovely that all of you are so kind and patient but he’s just not open to hearing you. He’s not open to differentiating between the two, to do so would require that he take a type of responsibility for the reasons why you and others reject Christianity as a whole that he refuses to take. Some people just don’t have the maturity to do that kind of thing and Brian is one of them.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            No, I’m not trying to “trap” anyone to say anything. People chose to reject Christianity by their own free will. The reasons may vary, but ultimately they freely chose not to believe in Christianity.

            I don’t deny people’s claim that they may not like how some people (mis)use the Bible, but that misuse is not because of something inherently wrong with the Bible, it is misused by the person(s) / church(es).

            I’m open to hearing everyone DR. That’s what this blog is for, to post openly and express opinions, even ones you may not agree with. Many of the people on here have formed their beliefs and opinions after a long and thoughful process and guess what, it differs from you DR. Imagine that.

            You claim I’m using the Bible wrong, by what basis do you make that claim? Is that because if my biblical opinions differ from yours I MUST be wrong? If my interpretation of the Bible is different from yours, again I’m wrong then I MUST be hung-up by “church dogma” and don’t, can’t or won’t think for myself because if I did, I would believe just like you on all issues, is that what you’re saying? Sure seems like it.

            I’ve discovered by reading posts on here that some peoples opinion of what Christianity is, is not what is taught in the Bible. Some people on here had or are experiencing an unbiblical form of “Christianity” and they think that’s what Christianity MUST be. That’s tantamount to saying all Muslims support the 9/11 terrorist attack and are in fact all like those wacko’s or Christianity = Catholics, Catholics = Christianity.

            Not everyone who claims they’re a Christian, are. Jesus even told some people that actually did mighty works in his name, to depart from him because he never knew them.

            Central to Christianity is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and at the heart of the Gospel is Jesus Christ.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            “I don’t deny people’s claim that they may not like how some people (mis)use the Bible, but that misuse is not because of something inherently wrong with the Bible, it is misused by the person(s) / church(es).”

            But it must be admitted that the fact that it’s so *frequently* subject to misuse does seem a good indication that there *is*, in fact, a problem in the Bible’s its design, something wrong with the way it presents things. Something that’s well-designed anticipates the possible misuses and incorporates failsafe measures either preventing them or mitigating their effects. For example, that’s the reason that typical North American two-prong power plugs have a narrower blade and a wider blade, preventing incorrect polarity, which, beyond merely damaging a device, can sometimes result in electrocution. And when potentially hazardous effects are not properly foreseen and minimized, the maker or manufacturer is responsible for any damage caused.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Matt,

            I don’t think its frequently misused, its just when it is, it can be a very damaging and public event (Catholic Inquisistion for example). I don’t think that just because it is misused it is an indication there is a problem with the Bible, I still think it is with the “user”,

            We can use guns as an illustration, most guns are used safely, but when they’re not, they can make the news. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with guns (even with a safety), it is the user where problems come from.

            Hay, just both of our opinions, I can see where youre coming from though.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Yet if a certain gun is consistently more dangerous, even for the user himself, than others, there’s likely something wrong with it. (Of course, one could also argue about the wisdom of ever employing firearms at all in modern first-world countries.)

          • DR

            You use walls of Christian speak to avoid really talking to people soyou don’t have to really deal with them. You don’t answer direct questions, I’ve asked you four times yes or no, would you vote for gay marriage and you won’t answer. Jesus said, Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”

            In other words, I think you’re full of shit.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            DR,

            Why do you want to know so bad what my opinion is, especially since I’m full of human feces?

            Why are you so mean to me, it is so offensive to treat me the way you do, can’t you just accept me as I am? I can’t change, I was born this way, please accept me as I am, OK?

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

            OK Brian, a question: A Christian with unrepentant sin in their life. 1) really a Christian? 2) Going to heaven or hell? What does your reading of the Bible say?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            She never said it was human… :)

            Brian, the problem is that DR resents your participating in arguments without being bold enough to just present your argument plainly, to just lay it out there, like: this is what I think and why. Your reluctance to do this, preferring, for instance, the use of mocking questions and dismissive statements—your lack of engagement with some of arguments and questions that are directed to you, even to the point of denying the reality of the debate over these issues—isn’t winning anybody over. I’m sure many of us here are thinking about what could be driving you to engage in this conversation in this manner. No one really believes that it’s because you have some awesome truth about God to share with us, because if you did, why wouldn’t you just say it—more directly, that is? So some people will dismiss you as a troll—as someone driven by some psychological to try to basically pick fights in online forums, chat-rooms, blogs, etc., not to make any substantial point, but just because they can, before they head off likely to do it again someplace else. Other people might (continue to) think (or hold out hope) that you might have some real interest in engaging in the conversation, but that you have difficulty being forthright about it. They may then conjure up whatever personal theories as to why that might be the case. My own thoughts are that you are (though perhaps not fully aware of it) coming from a place of struggling with working out your own salvation, testing/proving your understanding Scripture and what the Tradition you know has to say about them, which has put you in the position of having a firm commitment to following Jesus Christ, but needing to work out what exactly that means for you, for instance in sorting through all the information and misinformation that’s thrown your way from various sources in regards to homosexuality.

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

            Matthew, I think this is all he knows. If I had to guess he’s a lot like my family: only read the Bible and not much else. Uses KJV-speak because that’s all he’s familiar with and that’s how they talk at church….probably Baptist.

            I’m not saying that’s wrong. I’m just saying it is what it is.

            He’s here so we don’t forget to give God the glory in all things and to remind us that we can do all things through Christ which strengthens us – even overcome the temptations that God allows us to have, but that are sin. Why God gave them to us – well, we can’t know the mind of God, so we are just to trust his word and believe in the redemptive power of His son and everything will be okey -dokey as long as we control our carnal urges and don’t act on any of those temptations and allow the power of satan to draw us into fornication.

            I wonder if he’s reminding all the divorced folks that God loves them and with the power of Jesus they can be saved from their life of sin as well. But what to do if they’ve already remarried……that’s a tricky one. Should they repent and then divorce a second time and live a celibate life? Or should they repent, but stay married and still live a celibate life with their spouse since every time they have sex they are practicing adultery? What to do? (please don’t miss the sarcasm).

            This is the trouble with legalism. No grace. Just rules. Mostly about sex.

          • Brian W

            Christy,

            Can a Christian have unrepentant sin In their life and still be a Christian, the answer is yes, there are examples in the Bible (David for example) Will they go to heaven? Yes

          • DR

            Why do you want to know so bad what my opinion is, especially since I’m full of human feces?>>>

            Christy, with whom you are having a lovely exchange, has also asked you this question several times. Yet even to her, you don’t simply say “Yes or no,. I would/would not vote for legalizing gay marriage”. Why not? She’s being quite kind to you.

            But even now, you’re continuing to evade and you’re using how I’m speaking to you as the reason why. But you’re busted because Christy, the kindest person on this forum has also asked you to just answer it and you won’t. So stop blaming me for the lack of courage you have to just say “No. No I wouldn’t vote for gay marriage” on me or anyone else.

            can’t you just accept me as I am? I can’t change, I was born this way, please accept me as I am, OK?>>>

            Oh for God’s sake. I see exactly what you’re doing, you’re playing a role to somehow shed some kind of weird light on “being born a particular way” and make some correlation to being born gay. It doesn’t even make sense, all you’re doing is just making yourself look like an asshole. Whatever, yours is a dying theology that will be extinct in a matter of years. This doesn’t even matter anymore.

          • Brian W

            Christy,

            A Christian with unrepentant sin in their life. 1) really a Christian? Yes, there are examples in the Bible (David for example) of believers with unrepentant sin in their life. The examples didn’t last long though, 9 months or so in the case of David.

            2) Going to heaven or hell? Once a person is saved and sealed by the Holy Spirit, they are heaven bound, so the answer is heaven

          • BrianW

            All,

            I never really read any actual arguments or serious debates on here, just thoughts, opinons, ideas, conversations etc. We are free to engage or not to enage as we freely chose. If I chose not to, well that is my perogative even if you ask me a question over and over. If DR or or others resent me for not participating as they would want me too, well too bad, deal with it. I’v been called a fool, an anal sphincter, full of feces (of an unknow type and bull feces) and other offensive terms, but I guess that’s all OK right? If I I don’t respond they way you want or answer the way you want, the epitaths come flying…..Hummmm.

            Frankly some issues discussed here or so insignificant to not merit a response, what IS important (to me any way) are GLBT’s that wrongly believe that Christianity hates them (especially the people shunned by supposed “Christian” family members). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is freely offered to all people ALL PEOPLE.

            People (let me not beat around the bush, gay people I mean) are so confused and misinformed about authentic Biblical Christianity because some professed self-righteous Bible thumping “Christian” condemned them for being gay. What all people need is salvation through Jesus Christ. Compared to that, gay marriage is but an ant hill. What good is “legal” gay marriage without God? It matters not at all. Finally some conversations I just don’t want to be dragged into or wish to participate or I don’t wish to participate in a manner others may want, but, well, that is my choice.

            I originally came on here because John Shore and I graduated the same year from the same high school. I found him on Facebook and I started reading his books and his blog and of course posting on here. And I openly agree I have been misinformed about homosexuality, I admit that.

            Now as to KJV speak “being all I know”, well I don’t even use the KJV in my studies (exclusively anyway). I read more than the Bible, I have nice library for a laymen I would say, mostly dead guys and mostly theology books, but not exclusivley.

            As to overcoming temptations that are sin, well if you belive they are, well you really can do all things through Jesus Christ. The temptations and vitctories that God has awarded me have literally saved my life. If I had the time, I could share what God did for me, o wretched man that I am. I still battle temptations and sin daily. I suppose I will until the day I die. No Christian is perfect, none, not even close, in fact NO ONE is.

            Just because one becomes a Christian, it by no means is a ticket to a pain-free life, because its not. Christy I guess thinks that what it means, or she thinks that what I believe, because its not and I don’t. Christians can and do suffer more than non-Christians. God never promised all is perfect as a Christian. Just not so.

            The issue of divorce was raised, to remind me of the obvious, that God loves and can mightly use divorced people in His work

            Though divorce was never God’s intent for marriage but God forgives. Divorce is painful and can be especially traumatic for children, but a divorced person is not second class at all. Did I say that in any way shape or form?

            Christy, you know, it sounds to me that you experienced a legalistic form of Christianity in your life because you keep insinuating that I’m the same or my beliefs are the same or nearly the same as how you were raised.

            Jesus’ church and teachings will never die, the gates of hell will never prevaul against it for He is the head God almighty the giver of eternal life to anyone who believes (utterly trusts in the continually active, never ending state).

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

            Brian, I have made guesses and some assumptions about your doctrinal slant. Your facebook page only lists the Bible among your favorite books and the churches you list are mostly Baptist – a claim I have made that you still have not denied. You dedicatedly make all points using church/Bible speak. KJV speak was an embellishment, I admit.

            Some of what you say and how you say it IS similar to my – yes – legalistic upbringing. In that caustic, soul-crushing, emotionally and spiritually abusive environment I touched one tiny little corner of the pain GLBT people go through. Not the same. But it touches it: nothing is ever good enough, we are undeserving of God’s love, we are worthless, we are garbage. If you have sin in your life, then maybe you aren’t the Christian that you thought you were. Start over. Pray again. Ask Jesus to REALLY come into your heart and forgive you this time. Just focus on Jesus and don’t sin, go to church and read your Bible. This is being a good Christian.

            When I feel with GLBT people compassionately for their situation, I FEEL it. I have my own story that won’t fit in John’s book because I have a husband. I’m attracted to men. But it’s a story that I will tell in my own way when it is time about the damage that is done to kids when the environment views gays and lesbians as evil and perverse. And how unconditional love really does enlighten and expand our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world and our relationship with the Divine…..and like all good ineffable things, it can only be experienced. And sadly, those who have never experienced it can’t teach what they don’t know.

            I asked the divorce question because the big C Protestant Church harps on gays and ignores divorce. It’s a double standard. That’s my angle, Brian. Shining light on the hypocrisy of the Church. I revere Galileo and Copernicus because they were brilliant and they weren’t ashamed or afraid to speak truth to power – even at the expense of their reputation and their very life. I revere Martin Luther for saying to Mother Church “I don’t need you to get to God” (and we need to look beyond that as a Catholic/Protestant thing and see it as a Christian thing and OWN what THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH in the world has done to wreck havoc and genocide across the ages.) “Under God’s Blue Sky”, he said, a wonderful book title. (Don’t steal it John).

            I asked the unrepentant sin question because that’s the gist of the conservative Christian argument about homosexuality. The latest angle the powers that be including Albert Mohler from the Southern Baptist theological Seminary has put forth is working its way to the point that even genetic evidence will not matter to them in this debate. Now they are saying: Even if these “temptations” are present from the earliest moments of life, sin is sin. Sexual purity is sexual purity. And they have the balls to say: Any sex outside of marriage is forbidden by God. And since gays can’t marry, they must remain celibate.

            That argument reminds me of Monsanto: they make pesticides which likely cause cancer in humans AND they make cancer drugs. Brilliantly evil.

            Here’s what I know and (gnow) to be true: God, the Divine, the Compassionate, the Comforter, the Creator, the One in whom we live and move and breathe and have our being loves us. In crazy remarkable mysterious and wonderful ways. And that God will use every means necessary to draw all of Creation back to itself, whether organized religion recognizes that means as being of God or not. God is bigger than our dogma, our doctrine, our traditions, our human understanding. To try to force God into the shape of the church, mosque, synagogue, or temple of our choosing limits God and God doesn’t find that amusing.

            If I have learned nothing else about the diversity of the spiritual experience it is that like most things in life a unique phenomenon. We are comprised of a unique combination of experiences that influence how we understand and think and learn. That I understand something best in particular way or version, interpretation or explanation does not mean someone else can experience, understand or feel it in the same manner. Thus our many different styles of worship, etc. I have come to better understand that God chooses to reveal Godself to us in God’s own way and in God’s own time. We don’t have to understand it….and it doesn’t have to happen the same way for everyone. (Sunday morning in a pew or only from Scripture. Where seems less important than being open and receptive to hearing it when it comes or actively seeking to receive….insight or wisdom, or clarity.) For Anne Lamott it was a little black cat following her home. For as long as we have understood learning theory it is surprising to me that we have tried for so long to package God so uniformly. It seems to be unnecessarily limiting.

            I do not at all believe that life nor the Christian life is meant to be easy. No one’s life is. As our UCC minister has said, “None of us – NONE of us – has been loved like we wanted or needed to be.” As M. Scott Peck so famously wrote: “Life is Difficult.” It always will be. god is not the author of this difficulty or this pain. The right question is not why did God let this happen, but rather, When God has given us all that we need in this world and the gift of each other, why have we not figured out how to share what we have and live together in peace.

            Even those of us who have endured spiritual abuse – many of us have not thrown God out with the dogma bath water. we have just come to understand god differently that the Sunday School version we were taught.

            You said you treat everyone the same, that we are all sinners. Then please stop treating everyone like sinners and start treating everyone like a vessel of the Divine in whom you might choose to see God’s reflection.

            If, in your understanding of scripture, Brian, Gay Christians are still Christian and still going to heaven – then stop reminding them of what you perceive to be their sin in need of repentance. We are all already forgiven and God has long ago forgotten it.

            Here’s the best sermon I’ve ever heard. It’s by a friend of mine. He’s a good man.

            Terry Hershey: Jesus with Skin

            http://www.csec.org/csec/sermon/hershey_5115.htm

            Be well. ~ C

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

            Typos notwithstanding.

          • Suz

            Christy! I’m at a loss for words. (Not really ;) I’m just at a loss of adequate words.) You are a beautiful person with a beautiful mind and a beautiful soul. What you just said is pure grace.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Christy,

            Lovely repsonse really, very moving, it would make for a great church sermon, it cut to my heart deeply.

            Please allow me to make it clear that when I use the term “we are all sinners”, that is not meant to be understood just because of someones sexual orientation, that’s why they’re a sinner. It is referring to our sin nature that we all have and battle, especially me. I look forward to that sermon you recommended.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Thanks for sharing the link to that wonderful sermon, Christy! I very much enjoyed his thoughtful and thought-provoking presentation.

          • DR

            Frankly some issues discussed here or so insignificant to not merit a response>>>

            Deep breath. They are important TO THE PEOPLE that are victims of the issue! Do you get that? ? Gay marriage might be “insignificant” to you but it is “everything” to a lot of gay men and women that read here. And your vote against it hurts them but even more, you having the arrogance to suggest that an issue is “insignificant” enough to not warrant a response – an issue that someone else raises? It’s amazing.

            what IS important (to me any way) are GLBT’s that wrongly believe that Christianity hates them (especially the people shunned by supposed “Christian” family members). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is freely offered to all people ALL PEOPLE.>>>

            Then vote for them to have their marriage recognized by the state and/or by God. Tell them that you’d support that. Because that – to *them* – is “hating” them when you deny them that ability. Brian, *you* do not get to decide why someone who is gay feels hated. We are in here in part, telling you that denying them the right to marry is part of that. You can bury your head in the sand or pretend that it’s not true but it doesn’t change anything. It’s your issue that you’re denying it. Not ours.

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

            Thank you, All.

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

            Brian, God loves you more than the lillies and the sparrows and look how beautifully God has dressed them and provides for them. How much more must He love you? He takes you just as you, where you are. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. You are a person worthy of love. You are created in the image of God. Let the joy that brings fill you to overflowing so that God’s image radiates from your being without the need for words to proclaim in whom you believe. Do this grace. Be this grace in the world to others and they will see your father in heaven. Love like this kind of love so that others will know the One in whom you live and move and breathe and have your being. God showed amazing grace to you. Go be that kind of grace in the world.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Christy – divinely beautiful girl…..thanks

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

            In your world, would I be allowed to go to Seminary?

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            I don’t have a Seminary in my world, but sure as far as I know Seminary’s are open to all, but I have never applied.

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

            Not all seminaries are open to all.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Christy,

            You mean, straight Christian white men only need apply?

      • DR

        Brian, you just had someone tell you why she can’t consider herself a question. How about instead of getting defensive about that, you have a real conversation with her instead of regurgitating what the Bible is.

        • DR

          *a Christian, not a question.

        • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

          DR,

          The main argument for her NOT being a Christian was the Bible, so why wouldn’t I answer her main argument?

          • DR

            No it wasn’t, you fool. It was how people *used* the Bible. That you cannot differentiate between the two is your issue.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            Well that’s not how I understood the post DR, forgive me for being a fool and not as smart as you, that’s how God made me, please accept me as I am, I was born this way, I’m different than you, does that make me wrong? Can’t you just respect and accept me as I am without demeaning me calling me names?

          • DR

            Ugh.

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

            Brian, I’m just checking…..Is this your idea of sarcasm or are you being sincere here?

          • DR

            He’s playing a role, Christy.

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

            It’s not funny, you know. It’s actually pretty shitty……Making light of other’s genuine suffering and oppression and trying to make oneself the victim again.

            And you KNOW if you push DR’s buttons this is what you’re going to get.

          • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

            not playing a role or making light of gays (or any other suffering or oppressed person), I’m making a point that since I may believe different , I am dofferent and this is the way God made me, than others on here (DR for example) it is open season to let the insults fly my way.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Then you fundamentally misunderstand the distinction between belief and nature! You are confusing something that is in the mind with something in the heart, the soul, and the flesh.

          • DR

            Brian this isn’t “the way God made you”. It’s what you’ve selected to believe. It’s a choice. And your choice hurts people. I don’t care if you disagree, you disagreeing with that doesn’t make it any less true.

          • Brian W

            DR,

            O for me it is a choice, for gays, they’re born gay. What choice have I made that has hurt people? What people? Are you saying since I’m a Christian I’ve hurt the entire gay community?

          • Suz

            Brian , really? DR is saying that IF you

            CHOOSE to support anti-gay Christian doctrine, you are participating in hurting the gay community, especially Christian gays. You were BORN with a brain. Use it.

          • DR

            “Brian , really? DR is saying that IF you

            CHOOSE to support anti-gay Christian doctrine, you are participating in hurting the gay community, especially Christian gays. You were BORN with a brain. Use it.”

            What Suz said. But I suspect you don’t have the capacity to understand this, I don’t know why. Pearls before swine, etc.

            Suz, you’re helping me feel like I’m not in the Twilight Zone, here. Thank you.

          • Suz

            Oh, thank YOU, DR, for bringing up the Twilight Zone. It does feel rather like a parallel universe in here. I thought maybe it was just me!

      • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

        As we say in my church, “Everything you ever needed to know can be found in here” in reference to the Bible, but not “This is the unadulterated WORD OF GOD.” How can the bibel be anything *but* adulterated when it has been translated and retranslated and translated again and then put into different context and retranslated ad nauseum? There are two commandments. Love God. Love others. Of all the Christ said, these are the commandments I strive to keep, failing much regardless.

        Using the bible to unlovingly whap someone over the head with a verse is completely antithetical to the ministry of Jesus. It boggles my mind that some people seem absolutely incapable of understanding this.

    • RayC

      Mindy,

      I made a similar response to Scott Anderson’s post. Evolution nullifies the need of salvation. If there really is no “Adam and Eve” literally or figuratively then there is no Fall then salvation is irrelevant. With the necessity of salvation gone you have to wonder why bother with Christianity, especially if it is filled with people who have hate in their souls for those born a certain way; and remember in many cases, they hate what God hates, at least apparently. If it’s true that God’s hates homosexuals and he created them, then you have to wonder about God. Does this entity really exist? Anyway, I don’t think we need Christianity to tell us who to love and why to love them.

      • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

        Indeed – Love God with all your mighyt, all your heart and all your soul and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s who Christianity tells you to love

  • Stephanie

    Wow, 105 responses. I won’t read the last 105 comments, I can only image all the different views people are sharing on this subject and how confusing they may be for the person who wrote the letter.

    To the person who wrote the letter,

    I’m sorry and I understand. I understand the passion you have to serve God, to be faithful to Jesus and to remain true to yourself. The confusing, almost convincing voices that tell you you’re going to hell unless….

    I just want to tell you that you’re not going to hell.

    You are loved.

    Just. As. You. Are.

    You are created to be just who you are.

    Continue to trust and believe that the spirit of God is, has and always will lead you.

    “I honestly don’t wanna think anymore about whether or not being gay is a sin.”

    You have the freedom and permission to do just that.

    “I just wanna live and be myself and serve God.”

    May I suggest you commit to doing just that.

    Don’t buy in to the fear any longer. The fears that keep you from truly living as you really are.

    I understand the confusion and the fears, I was once considered “ex-gay” and Christian. I wasn’t really being true to myself. After sometime of wrestling with being gay, I shut all the loud, condemning voices out and finally came to see that I was free to be me. Truly free. Free from the fear that others kept trying to shove on me. I didn’t need to worry about a God, a loving God, a caretaker, Father, Mother, Friend sending me somewhere if I didn’t get it right….right now. I started to learn how to live in grace, in love and in freedom.

    Now, I’m happily married. My wife and I are planning on planting a church in our very conservative city. It is our hope to be a light to our brothers and sisters who have been made to feel unwanted and unwelcomed. To feed the hungry, cloth the poor and comfort the afflicted. To spread hope and love. Not fear and condemnation.

    I’m living out my dream. To live each day with the love of my life, serving God and living freely.

    I encourage you to look forward, be true to yourself, keep loving your God and seek to live freely.

    Blessings in all you do.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      This. This is the correct answer. This is truth!

      Stephanie is right, or rather Jesus is right, and she is in Him, and He lives in her.

      And her name is not Stephanie now: rather, she is Hope.

      Thanks for sharing the true Word. Shine on!

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

      You are loved. Just as you are. This makes all the difference to all of us, whether gay or straight.

      Beautiful, Stephanie.

    • Don Whitt

      I LOVE happy endings!

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      What a powerful, positive testimony. I love this.

  • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com/ moonchild11

    that was beautiful. thank you, to the writer of that letter, for sharing your story.

    Also, as a straight Christian girl, who has a good friend that is a butch lesbian, I’ve gotten a lot of crap from my church. And I’ve definitely wondered, “Am I seeking the truth because I want to defend my friend?” I support gay rights, but, because of what I’ve been taught, I haven’t been sure how to view homosexuality as a Christian.

    I want to read more of your blog, and maybe I’ll find some more answers! But, until I do, I’m just going to remind myself that my job isn’t to decide how to view issues. My job is to love people. :)

  • Robert

    Hey…. JESUS WAS ABOUT LOVE NOT HATE….. as far as I can recall Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality… not one single word… you would think that if he had an opinion on the matter he would have mentioned it… according to Christians he was a God… SO WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT IT AT ALL…

    BECAUSE OF PAUL… Paul was not a GOD… though most people seem to think of him as one… and many Christians seem to be more followers of Paul than of Jesus… in my opinion… Paul was a man… Paul never met Jesus… Paul made some mistakes… his views on gays and women were the biggest.

    As for the old testament…. Doesn’t it also have a lot of instructions on how to kill cows? Does anyone ever follow any of the old testament’s instructions on… interest rates, eating crabs and slavery? Me think not… people use “selective enforcement” when it comes to the old testament… and they are usually focusing on someone else’s behaviors.

    To this I add… I believe Jesus say something like… before you take the splinter from someone else eye… be sure to remove the plank from yours… Sounds like good advice to me.

    To all the gay christians supporting homophobic churches… like MOSIAC in Los Angeles… my advice is to find a church that loves you as you… there are more and more of them out there… Remember most homophobic churches only want you for your labor and your money. Preacher like Erwin McManus… don’t love you… they love hearing themselves talk… selling their self help books and profiting from your hard earn money… they get rich as the debase and demean you… not a balanced equation.

    You have power… maybe it is time to vote with your feet… and move on

    Remember… Jesus was about love… not hate.

  • HJ

    I just read this one. I think it is my favorite of your blog posts so far. I identify so much with this writer and am moved by the response. Thanks letter writer and John!

  • John

    That was kind of helpful.

  • Henry Nancy

    After being in relationship with my husband for nine years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email is (LAVENDERLOVESPELL@YAHOO.COM } tel.+2347053977842) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.


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