John Paulk’s Apology.. and mine

I interviewed John Paulk years ago for a feature in a Conservative Christian magazine. The focus on that article was John’s healing from a homosexual lifestyle.

I was working as a freelance journalist and had contracted with the editor for the story. I had a childhood friend who had just been diagnosed with AIDS at age 25, so I was definitely curious about the subject matter. I had read Jerry Arterburn’s achingly honest memoir “How Will I Tell My Mother? A True Story of One Man’s Battle with Homosexuality and AIDS.” 

But as the mother of four young children, I was an ardent supporter of Focus on the Family and all things Dr. James Dobson. (I know, hard to believe, right?) What I knew about homosexuality could be summed up by the soundbites out of Focus on the Family: It was a great sin, usually the result of having been molested as a child, or from being a pedophile in the making.

Seriously.

I am so sorry.

I remember a great deal of my interview with John and his wife Anne. They lived in a charming custom-home in Portland. Although not a large home it was so tastefully decorated. John took great pride in that. Both he and Anne were delightfully honest throughout the interview.

John spoke fondly of his mother, but there was hurt there and that hurt played into all the wrong-headed stereotypes I held of gay men: Absentee father. Controlling mom feminizing her son to suit her own emotional needs.

Explaining his struggle with his identity as a gay man, John spoke about drug and alcohol abuses. Drinking or drugging, he said, was the only way he could do the things he did with other men.

John spoke about his journey toward “healing”. He attributed his healing to the reparative therapy he received at Exodus International. He longed to be married, to have children, to be a good father.

I have conducted hundreds of interviews over the years but few have stayed with me the way the interview with John and Anne did. In my mind’s eye I still see them posing for the photos I took that day. 

My views on homosexuality evolved over the years. I parted ways with Focus on the Family in the late 1990s. My friend died a cruel death of AIDS, abandoned by his partner, and at odds with a family afraid of AIDS and homosexuality.

I am not sure even to this day that my thinking on the subject is “right” — whatever that means. I have written many times on the matter, in columns and at length in Where’s Your Jesus Now? , which not surprisingly earned me a cult following among the LGBT community while getting me banned in Lifeway Bookstores.

Shortly after my interview with John and Anne hit the churches, John was pegged to head up Focus on the Family’s ministry to Gays. A ministry with one goal — to transform Homosexuals into Happy Heterosexuals. 

I was working as a reporter when I read the news that John had been seen at a Gay bar in D.C. By then John was a dad and was still in leadership within the Evangelical Community. I took it to mean one thing — John was still struggling.

I have known for sometime now that John was back in Portland and that he and Anne were split up. I also knew that he was living life as a gay man. So I wasn’t surprised when the headlines hit yesterday: Ex-Gay Leader Apologizes: 

“I no longer support the ex-gay movement or efforts to attempt to change individuals — especially teens who already feel insecure and alienated. I feel great sorrow over the pain that has been caused when my words were misconstrued,” Paulk said. “I have worked at giving generously to the gay community in Portland where I work and live. I am working hard to be authentic and genuine in all of my relationships.”

After John’s apology was made public this week I had a discussion with a clinician who sees first-hand the damage inflicted on the LGBT community:

I live in Colorado Springs and in my therapy practice I have worked with a number of LGBTQ clients who underwent the “reparative therapy” John and Focus so ardently supported. I am glad John is coming to peace with this sexual orientation and mourn the pain he has endured over all these years. I am praying for the day when Christianity can move past demonizing LGBTQ people and their relationships. The pain and anguish I have witnessed in my therapy room is indescribable, and I firmly believe God weeps over how “his people” treat gays and lesbians.

Thankfully, God hasn’t abandoned me over the years. He’s put me in relationships that have forced me to reconsider my preconceived and wrong-headed notions about the LGBT community.

I don’t claim to be a theologian, or to have all the answers, but this one thing I know for sure:  Anything that calls us to live a dishonest life cannot be following Christ’s example. 

Jesus is Truth. 

I am praying that John Paulk will know a peace that for far too long escaped him.

His story is a good reminder that Jesus can and will transform any of us from the inside out, even repentant heterosexuals like me.

For more on this topic check out Candace Chellew-Hodge’s article at Religion Dispatches.

 

About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ed-Ness/1143406468 Ed Ness

    For Immediate Release

    4/24/13

    Contact: Ed Ness, Communications Director

    510-757-8724

    eness@theevangelicalnetwork.net

    The Evangelical Network on John Paulk, Ex-Gay Therapy

    To admit that you have made a mistake is difficult for most people. Acknowledging that you have hurt people can be even harder. In such circumstances the repercussions often include a high price, but this can also be necessary in truly understanding God’s grace. John Paulk’s apology to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community for his involvement in Exodus and ex-gay or reparative therapy programs is a big step in that direction.

    Todd Ferrell, President, The Evangelical Network explained,”In 2012 I engaged in an ongoing dialog with John Paulk. It was obvious that he had been on a journey toward self-acceptance as a Christian gay man. No doubt that has been a difficult journey. Many of us have struggled with self-acceptance. I am glad that he recognizes the hurt that he has caused people in the past and is willing to publicly apologize for his past stance opposing homosexuality, and diverse gender identities.”

    Paulk’s apology will not erase the pain suffered by many Christian LGBT people who believed the false teachings which claimed through prayer, counseling, and group therapy that their sexual orientation or gender identity would change. This will take time. Ferrell concluded, “People who were impacted by Paulk should be able to voice their frustrations, and release those emotions. It is important to remember however that we are all human. We have all made mistakes. We should reflect that Jesus taught forgiveness. Forgiveness is at the core of how we as Christians are to interact with each other including those who have hurt us. John, the road ahead will no doubt be perhaps the roughest you have ever traveled. The Evangelical Network will always be there to listen and not judge you as you move forward.”

    Since 1988 The Evangelical Network has been a support organization for LGBT Christians and especially those who come from an evangelical background. If someone is struggling with reconciling their Christian faith with their sexual orientation or gender identity please feel free to contact us. We believe there is no conflict with being Christian and LGBT.

    ####

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Thanks, Ed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

    No doubt this will seem unnecessarily severe – and though I do believe in the importance of forgiveness, I must say that as a queer Christian that I am tired of hearing these apologies. The damage has been already done.

    It is all very well for these people to repent or to say “I am sorry” – but that does not change the fact that lives have been literally destroyed and I am especially critical that the likes of Paulk and others is even newsworthy. What should be newsworthy and celebrated are those who have been there from the beginning – the stories should focus on the supportive Christians, the supportive friends, the supportive parents, the supportive communities – not those who realise belatedly that they were wrong.

    • LA

      Jesus asks us all to forgive one another. And forgiveness starts often with the realization that sin has been committed and an apology. When people write these apologies they are asking for the forgiveness that Jesus calls us all to do. Jesus never ever says that forgiveness wipes away the damage as if by magic. He does say that it is a recognition by the community that someone has re-turned their face towards God and a support of the community in that movement. 7 times 70 times we are to forgive each other…please accept this person’s apology and by forgiveness do not dismiss the damage but acknowledge their turning towards God and support them in their new walk.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

        The point isn’t that forgiveness shouldn’t be extended – it should. The issue as I see it is that these accounts are given a prominence that I think is unjustified. One should not put, for example, centre stage a repentant adulterer who extols the virtues of marital fidelity – but rather one who is a living example of marital fidelity. Sure stories of repentance have their place but they should be secondary, and I think particularly on this topic where the living examples of acceptance and love are not as visible as they should be.

        • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

          Danny: Is there a time-constraint on seeking forgiveness? Easy to sit back in one’s armchair and suggest that the gay person ought to have stepped forward before now. I suspect every journey is different.And while I understand your point about living examples of love and acceptance being moved to the forefront, I don’t think those can be as long as we suggest to LGBT people that they are “less than”.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

            No, there is never any time constraint on forgiveness. I am not sure who is this “we” that suggests that queer people are less than. I certainly don’t think that.

          • Frank

            We are all “less than.”

    • Todd Ferrell

      Let’s not forget how wide the door had to be open to let us in…let’s all look at the measure of grace and forgiveness we extend to others. We may need that again at some point in our own lives…assuming no one on here walks on water.

  • rmm

    Jesus said, “those who love me, obey Me.” The bible is clear about the sinfulness of homosexuality. We choose to sin or not to sin.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      If any of you are without sin let him cast the first stone…

      • Rob

        But “go and sin no more”!

        • BrianQTD

          How typical of conservative evangelicals and their profound arrogance. Put yourself in the place of Jesus, when Christians have been anything but Christ-like in their behavior towards LGBT people. Actually most Christians are in the position of the crowd ready to stone the woman. And what was THEIR response when Jesus chastised them?

      • trskms

        Exactly what Rob said. None are without sin, but we also don’t excuse sin and say, “I can keep doing this because it is too hard not to do this.” We ALL struggle with besetting sins, but that does not give us a pass to call those sins “not sin” and continue to practice them.

        • Rob

          Any response, Karen?

          • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

            I’m so thankful I was born a heterosexual. It makes hiding my sins so much more easy.

          • LaMarcus

            Yes Karen, it is easier to hide our sins when we are heterosexual, or maybe it’s not easier to hide them, perhaps they are more acceptable. I also think there is a yuck factor connected with homosexual acts that is not present with heterosexual sin (although some heterosexual sin is pretty yucky).

          • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

            I would suggest to you any “yuck” factor with homosexuality is a matter of social acceptance. We accept yucky heterosexual behavior in all manner of ways.

          • Holly

            Karen, no Christian is supposed to live in sin. What do you think Jesus has done for you? The Christian’s sin is is removed, not hidden. Christians aren’t supposed to be dragging around their sin for the rest of their lives!

      • LaMarcus

        Karen, is it casting stone to say adultery is a sin, or murder, or stealing, or is it an observation based on the clear reading of scripture. Certainly, I have no right to condemn anyone given the black foulness of my own sin. But if someone were to compare what I have done with the word of ‘god and say, that’s a sin, she would not be judging me or casing a stone. Now, it might result in that. A person might say, “He sinned, he’s going to hell and I’m going to stone him.” Or she might say something Jesus said, “Neither to I condemn the GO AND SIN NO MORE.”

  • Frank

    And in 20 years you will be apologizing again for condoning sinful behavior.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      I suspect I will always be living in a state of constant repentance. At least I hope so. It’s the only way to avoid the sin of self-righteousness, of being that person so sure that they have it right and everyone else has it wrong.

      • Frank

        I don’t have to decide if i’m right. God tells us what is right and wrong. We should simply just trust Him.

        • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

          I trust God. It’s man I’m suspect of.

          • Frank

            ME too! I am especially suspect of people who want to change what Gods Word says to fit in with the current culture.

          • trskms

            It is one thing to be self-righteous about things that the Bible is not clear about and over which the Church itself has struggled over the centuries. How should we sing in Church? Should we dance? Can we drink responsibly? Do we mow the grass on Sunday? Do we eat meat that has been offered to idols?

            But, the Bible couldn’t be more clear that homosexuality is a sin. It is repeated multiple times in both Testaments. Christ corrected the Pharisees on multiple topics where they were teaching incorrectly, yet He let their teachings on homosexuality stand without comment. (And, as God, don’t you think He knew what was coming in our time?)

            In the entire history of Judaism and Christianity (over 6000 years together until the past 20 years) NO ONE ever argued that homosexuality was okay … no one. So, it is far from “self-righteous” to rely on What God has clearly said.

            These are the times that try our souls and show our metal. Will we side with God and be vilified, or will we side with the culture and be accepted as (supposedly) “tolerant” and “loving?”

          • BrianQTD

            I’m suspicious of people who say they are vessels of “God’s Word” not to be questioned.

  • http://twitter.com/AlanMChambers Alan Chambers

    Thanks for your article, Karen. As the president of Exodus International, I wanted to point out that we broke ties with the reparative therapy community last year. While we hold to an orthodox view of scripture concerning sex and sexuality, we had to be honest that orientation change wasn’t happening for most and that it isn’t even the point. Here’s to following Christ, pursuing holiness and being authentic! JOhn Paulk and I have been dear friends for the better part of 20 years. I grieve with him over the loss of his marriage and the breakup of his family but pray that his story, once again, shines a light on areas where we can do better in the Church concerning LGBT people.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Thank you, Alan, for letting me and my readers know about the change in Exodus’s approach to the GLBT community. Good to know that God is able to transform all of us, heh?

      • trskms

        Interestingly, “reparative therapy” has a better track record of healing than any of our other mental health treatments (just look at depression for a “depressing” example of how poorly we treat such mental disorders!) In other words, we have a terrible record treating ANY mental illness, but we do not throw out the other treatments simply because they don’t work for everyone, or even for the majority.

        Disorder in the mind or the body … that is part of the Fall. I’d venture to guess that *everyone* suffers in mind or body or both in some aspect due to the Fall.

        This is the only disorder that we give a “pass” to and say, “It is good.” That is a disservice to those that suffer with it, just as it would be to deny those who suffer from cancer its various treatments, even though they are only effective for some.

      • http://twitter.com/AlanMChambers Alan Chambers

        Absolutely, Karen.

  • kierkegaard71

    Does God create people with “genetic” predispositions toward certain behaviors that are not in line with His will? Do some people have predispositions toward alcoholism, gluttony, etc.? It seems to me we’re going too far in saying that – simply because God creates some people a certain way – that this therefore nullifies the validity of any moral judgment about the behavior they are disposed toward. We should apologize for treating people poorly. We should not apologize for holding to moral principles that seem to be pretty clearly affirmed in Scripture.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Aren’t we all, each of us, created with a “genetic” predisposition toward sin?

      • trskms

        Of course. And, we are expected to fight it with God’s help, not call it “good” and go ahead and practice it.

        • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

          Fight it? Fight what?

      • LaMarcus

        I don’t think it is accurate to say God “created” each of us with a genetic predisposition toward sin since that would make God that author of human evil. It would be more correct to say that all of us are “born” with a predisposition toward sin. I manifests itself in different ways in different individuals. Sin has no doubt affected our sexuality. But we cannot blame our sexual sin on God saying, “He created me this way.”

        • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

          Semantics.

          • LaMarcus

            Karen, as any postmodernist will tell you, words matter. Words are so powerful that the continual use of the wrong word can result in real error. I this case especially, since one of the arguments gays use is that God made them, or created them gay.

          • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

            We are God’s creation. The Bible says so.

  • trskms

    Wow … “anything that causes us to live a dishonest life-style cannot be following Christ’s example.” I suppose that those that fight alcoholism, and child pornography, and multiple sexual partners, and all sorts of other assorted besetting sins will be thrilled to know that they are no longer supposed to “deny themselves” as Christ asked them to do, nor “take up their cross” as He also asked them to do, nor set their eyes on Him, but should simply give in to their authentic “true” feelings and practice them fully.

    Wow. What deceit. :-(

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      If you are going to quote me quote me accurately. What I said is that anything that call us to live a dishonest life (not life-style) cannot be following Christ’s example.

      • LaMarcus

        Karen, nothing except our own will can cause us to live a dishonest lifestyle. But can we make a distinction between shame and brazenness? Some have trouble telling the difference between brazenness and honesty, and the shame a person feels when she had done something shameful. One of the many ills of our time is that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves but we are not.

        .

        • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

          You’ve lost me on this.

          • LaMarcus

            The person who hides his or her sin out of a sense of shame is not living a dishonest lifestyle, the are just ashamed of their sin and have not desire to flaunt it. But the person who is brazen has no shame. His bold and public airing of his “dirty laundry”, the things he should be ashamed of, is not honesty, its brazeness.

          • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

            Really? So the mother who gambles away her retirement is to be lauded for at least feeling enough shame to hide it from her family? The father who has a secret life of online porn is to be lauded for hiding it from his family because of his shame? And Ted Haggard should be regarded as godly for hiding his double-life because at least he was ashamed of his adulterous ways?

          • Guy

            The father should stop looking at online porn. But better to try to stop and keep it private, then to just accept the way he is and look at online porn whenever he likes and brag about it to his kids.
            Ted Haggard waas wrong for having a double life, but if he has stopped having sex with men, then I don’t see why he needs to tell the world that he is bisexual and just accept himself.

            By the way Karen, don’t you get tired building straw men?
            Or does the glee from watching the smoke compensate?

          • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

            Guy: If I tell others that I am a happily married woman, does that make me a braggart? Does that make me brazen? Or does that simply reveal to others an insight into who I am?

        • LaMarcus

          As I was turning to other things I thought of a better way to clarify the point I was trying to make: while both are bad, hypocrisy is better than brazenness. At least the hypocrite is ashamed enough about her sin that she tries to hide it. One the other hand, the brazen glory in their shame.

          If we accept the proposition that sex is for marriage, then committing a sexual act with any person other than your spouse– before or after marriage — is a sin. So the person who has the decency to hide it is preferable to the person who brags about his sin. I’ve seen this many times. This is what such a person often says: “At least I’m not a hypocrite.” The answer to this is, “No, you’re not a hypocrite, but you are brazen, and that’s even worse than being a hypocrite.”

  • RickM

    Karen,

    I appreciate your post. Like you, I am an evangelical and I am having a hard time reconciling the traditional church stance on sexuality on the one hand, and the reality of sexual orientation on the other. I went to a conservative Christian college, and it was obvious that several young men were struggling with this issue; many of these same guys are now either openly gay or simply living quietly as single men. Very few ended up happily married to women. Not everyone agrees, but I think it is glaringly obvious that the church needs to fundamentally examine its position, its rhetoric and its assumptions as it relates to homosexuality. Your article is part of this move toward reframing the debate, and I appreciate it.

    • trskms

      Of course, there is not yet any reliable studies proving that people are born with the wrong sexual orientation. But, certainly, there is a lot of evidence that it happens so young that it may certainly feel that way.

      However, even assuming that they are born that way (I’ll leave it as a “given” in the argument), there are many, many sins that people are born with and which they still must struggle against.

      On the “better” sin side (or at least the more socially acceptable), we have those who overeat, those who are born with volatile tempers, those who are born with a very lazy temperament, etc.

      On the “worse” side (or at least the more socially proscribed) are those who lust after children (so seemingly entrenched that even our modern psychiatrists say that they cannot be changed, but must simply be kept away from children), and sexual addicts who crave multiple partners. In addition, some people seem to be born sociopaths, or psychotic, or with a tendency toward other severe mental illnesses.

      Being born with a besetting sin still doesn’t excuse us to ACT on it. And, the rest of us should be HELPING those who suffer to overcome, not excusing them.

      Kudos to those young men who chose to live quietly as single men. Our society is so caught up in sex, that we seem to see it as some sort of “right.” It is not a right, and many, many people have lived years and years, or even their whole lives, quite acceptably without it.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Rick: I think the church is afraid to examine it’s rhetoric on this subject.

      • Holly

        I think the church can safely examine its holy text, tradition, reason and experience and come to the same conclusion. It’s not rhetoric, Karen – it’s what male/female marriage reflects about the image of God. It’s about completion, and fulfillment and foretelling – it takes both genders to render an accurate reflection of God. Anything that does not reflect a proper reflection of God would be considered an abomination (a false view, a diminished view of God.)

        If you can’t support the scriptural view of one man and one woman (and please don’t bring up polygamy in the Bible – we are talking about what does the overall narrative and trajectory of the scriptures ) then you lose all future appeals to scripture. You can’t intellectually say, “God created people. The Bible says so.” You don’t believe the Bible – remember?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

          If anything, an examination of scripture, tradition and experience combined with the narrative and trajectory of same leads to the conclusion that gay and lesbian people also image God and thus should be welcomed fully in all aspects of the life of the church. You have lost any future appeal to scripture since you deny the the biblical narrative and its trajectory since you have perverted it for your own ends.

          • Dave

            I’m Pro-create. Mano-mano= No-create

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719435296 Bradley P O’Brien

    When men suddenly turn gay or revert to being gay it is their biz. We must love them and let them know Christ still loves them. Living a fraudulent lie, trying to be what they are not? Is that what the Lord would have? And yet when they have married and fathered children should we not turn our focus to the “betrayed” wife and the abandoned children? The dissolution of any marriage inflicts a lot of hurt on the children. Lifelong scarring even. You neednt believe me, go ask the kids who have experienced divorce in their early years. If there isnt a support group for the spouses abandoned by their newly gay or lesbian spouse surely churches could incorporate it into their DivorceCare ministries.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Wonder how many times you have spoken out this way over a divorce that wasn’t the result of one partner’s struggle over being gay?

      • LaMarcus

        Karen, I have spoke out about adultery whether committed by a married man struggling over his love for another woman or a woman struggling over her love for another woman. Adultery cannot be condoned just because someone finds he or she is no longer attracted to the person they said their wedding vows too. To say that adultery is alright if one partner is struggling over being gay is to taking an additional step down the wrong moral path, because affirming homosexuality requires is to re-write the entire Biblical standard of sexual morality (i.e. Adultery is a sin…unless one of the parties is struggling over being gay. Fidelity to ones wedding vows is the right thing to do…unless one is struggling over being gay. Where does it stop?

        • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

          Good to know you are consistent in your concern for others.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=719435296 Bradley P O’Brien

        Only three times. One was my bro who cheated on his wife and thereby limited when I was able to see my nieces. The point is if a man leaves his wife for another man he is generally a sympathetic character. Not so if he leaves her for another woman.

  • LaMarcus

    Karen, I think you misstate the issue her. I agree with you that God grieves whenever we treat anyone unkindly. But what we are really being asked to do is to reject the scripture. I have heard, and I would accept the interpretations gay apologists offer to explain those portions of scripture that seem to clearly condemn having a sexual relationship with someone of the same-sex; but I would have to be intellectually dishonest to accept them. So in spite of the fact that I always try to treat other with kindness and respect, I am now called “wrongheaded” and, by implication, wronghearted. That hurts too, you know.

    The truth is I grieve that I cannot give the hurting individuals you speak of the affirmation they desperately crave. I would if I could, but I cannot. If this means that I must be labeled a wrongheaded, wrong-hearted, hate-filled bigot, then I guess that is the price I will have to pay for being true to my conscience.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      I am not sure that LGBTs are seeking your affirmation or mine. And let’s be clear — I didn’t label you or anyone else wrong-headed, wrong-hearted or a hate-filled bigot. What I said is that I was wrong-headed. I am not telling you or anyone else what you ought to think. I’m just sharing my own experience.

      • LaMarcus

        But Karen, doesn’t it follow that if I hold some form of the position you used to hold — back in the days when you were wrongheaded — then I am wrong-headed too? There is an implication, and to use a phrase commonly used in this debate, your words are hurtful.

        I would also disagree with your statement that gays are not seeking affirmation. I spent the better part of three years corresponding with a gay activist and our frank exchange of emails reveal that this is one of the things the LGBT community is seeking. It is a driving force between the effort to legalize gay marriage. There is a desire to have their committed, loving, etc. relationships received the same level of social affirmation as straight relationships.

        • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

          LaMarcus: I’m not trying to play the Holy Spirit in your life. I can only tell you my own approach was wrongheaded and misguided and formed in a large part by soundbites from Focus on the Family that pandered to my fears.

          And I think you oversimplify… and marginalize… the LGBT community when you suggest that the reason they seek the legalization of gay marriage is social affirmation. There are many legal reasons to seek the legalization of gay marriage — something btw that I support. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to marry in our civil courts?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

      I think one must follow their conscience even if it is malformed, as I think yours is on this issue.

      • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

        Yes, it’s possible. I suspect my notions on many things of God are malformed by the culture in which I was raised and continue to live. This is, after all, the very same country that justified slavery by quoting the 100 or so passages about it in the Bible. And it is the very same country that allows the likes of Westboro Baptist who quotes Scriptures as a way of hating on everyone, undergirded by the worst of all homophobics. And the very same country that allows for the likes of John Piper and Joel Osteen to rise to notable celebrity status as pastors. So, yes, Danny, I am sure each of us deals with some level of seeing God dimly now.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

          Yes, I agree that each of us are in the same boat in that regard. The question is whether we are able to learn from historical examples even if we also make mistakes and err in our turn.

        • guy

          You were raised in a great country. Not perfect, but great.
          So now you’re dissing the US too.
          It’s also the country that got rid of slavery, and many of those who opposed it were people who would cry to see what is happening to their country now.
          Westboro Baptis? Great, pick the weirdest church with less than a hundred members.

          Karen, who are you anyway? The US, John Piper, Joel Osteen? You seem to dislike everything – except men who leave their wive’s and family for the sake of visiting gay bars and encounters with men.

          • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

            Guy: How did we go from this subject to you questioning my patriotism?

  • http://twitter.com/gayambassador Anthony Venn-Brown

    great article Karen. Maybe John’s apology is going to create a tsunami of apologies not only from former ex-gay leaders but also straight Christians who preached or promoted the same damaging and dis-empowering message “your orientation is a sin, choice and it can be changed”

    thanks

    Anthony Venn-Brown

    Author. Speaker. Former Preacher. Gay Ambassador. Two kids. No pets. Two grandkids, Two adopted grandkids.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Glad it spoke to you, Anthony.

  • PurplePagan

    I would like to say “Kudos!” for this article.

    I realise that I may well have few points of common ground with some of the readers of this column, coming as I do from another faith, but surely one of the grounds we do hold common is that we should treat each other in a humane way.

    My experience of the LGBTQ community, admittedly from the outside looking in, is that when they have difficulties, often it’s not an internal one, but one brought about by the external pressure from the rest of the world. This is the start of the generation of their conflicts.

    People are people and that in itself requires no treatment.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      I would suggest that the LGBTQ community has both internal and external pressures. Their’s, of course, are heightened by the very sort of dialogue you see as a result of this blog posting.

  • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

    Anyone who leads a life of holiness is being “dishonest.” Monogamy isn’t “natural” ask any anthropologist. But God created us male and female and Jesus calls us to live in-line with his plan. To affirm ungodly behavior, simply because we all struggle with something, is itself sin. It’s sad. Where have all the Christians gone? It seems you have to either public ally condemn people or accept their behavior in the church. Good grief people, both are sin.I weep for us.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Who is affirming ungodly behavior?

      • http://johnmarkharris.net/ John Mark Harris

        I take the act of homosexuality as ungodly.

  • Steve T

    Lord, lord. Wish we might have so much passion about war or poverty or violence against children or hunger or greed … or … or … or … Lord, lord. Good thing Jesus never embraced anyone considered socially unclean by the good religious folk in his day. Oh wait, he did.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543663946 Danny Klopovic

      Precisely why I think the conservatives are against Jesus

      • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

        Too true..

  • Ben

    Jesus would have told them: “I likewise do not condemn you for your sin. Go! And Sin no more!”

    He would not have said: “aww come on buddy give me a hug. Here have a pat on the back. You just go on now and do whatever you desire, even though it’ll rot your character from the inside out”

    • Ben

      this was a reply to Steve T’s post below


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