A Gay Father’s Words to Conservativism

The following is written by Jon, a gay man married to his partner, who also has adopted kids. Jon frequently comments on this blog, and I truly appreciate his thoughtful insight to whatever discussion is ongoing. In some recent ongoing discussions on the blog the question of, would a gay family attend a conservative church, was brought up. I actually thought that question deserved its own post. And there would be no one better to answer such a question than Jon. So here you go…

“I grew up in and was confirmed in the United Methodist Church. I was active in our youth group and taught Sunday school for a couple years. I went to college at Luther College in Decorah, IA – an ELCA-affiliated college. I learned much about the Bible during those years, but I also learned how to think more critically about the things that I learned and read.

It was during those college years that I came out as a gay man. I had already privately acknowledged to myself during my early teen years that I was sexually and emotionally attracted to other boys, but there were no real options or resources for coming out during those pre-Internet years in rural Minnesota. During college, I finally met other gay people and allies and gradually became comfortable with myself. I began looking towards the future and questioning assumptions about my potential life as a gay man. I began asking why I couldn’t find the man of my dreams? Why couldn’t we have kids? Why should I limit my interests, my activities, my privacy, or my dignity to fit within others’ expectations for a gay man.

I dated a bit in college, but mostly focused on my academic goals. Shortly after college, I met and fell in love with the man who would eventually become my husband, Mark. We shared many life goals: careers, relationship, home, kids. We weren’t sure how to get there, but it was enough to stay focused.

I had fallen away from the church during college and Mark had never found the right church home here in the Midwest. In my mid-20s, I felt a strong need to reconnect with God, but knew that I would not be welcomed in most churches. Eventually, I met a UCC minister named Pastor Rick who invited us to share worship with his small Christian church. It was the first UCC church in Iowa to have declared itself Open & Affirming (i.e., GLBT-affirming). Mark and I were wed there in 1997 in a religious ceremony – not legality to it due to our state’s Defense of Marriage Act (which in 2009 was repealed). But it was important for us to become a family with God’s blessing.

Gradually, I decided to join this church. I knew we were planning on becoming adoptive parents within a few years and wanted a church community that our kids could grow up in and learn about God and Jesus. But I also wanted a church that would treat our family with the same level of dignity as any other family. I wanted to know that my kids would be safe in Sunday school lessons and would not be secretly taught that their parents are deviant.

Truthfully, my theology is more traditional than my church’s theology. I honestly believe that homosexuality is not universally condemned within the Bible. I don’t understand why gay people cannot be encouraged to follow a model of chastity and marital behavior, but within a working context for their reality. Both Mark and I would be better suited in a more traditional church setting. I have tried to worship at a couple other conservative churches – one a non-denominational church and the other a start-up Presbyterian church. Both of them are relaxed, while traditional with their worship style. Both are active with community service projects. Both actively reach out to the unchurched and otherwise disconnected worshippers in our community. Both encourage members to discuss, learn, and grow with their faith. But neither was ready for a two-dad household.

So we stay where we’re at. Which isn’t terrible but, to be honest, we really have few other places to meet all of our religious needs.

There’s really no way that we could worship at a conservative Christian church that did not respect the dignity or the reality of our family. Too often, I feel like Christians are interested in reaching out to gay people without a real clue about how or why. I have listened to several interviews on this subject and heard way too many questioners talk about how great it is to befriend their gay relative/neighbor/co-worker, but cannot figure out when it’s the right time to tell them to “turn or burn”. I find myself wondering what those people would expect if they befriended me, introduced me to their church, and then told me that I would only be right with God if I dumped Mark.

The truth is that Mark and I have no desire to divorce ourselves from each other. To do so would be disruptive to our boys, who’ve already dealt with separation issues related to their time in foster care. We’re both content with our lives. We both have good jobs, fun kids, distracting pets, and a nice home. We’re well-matched husbands for each other. All things considered, we’ve been blessed by God and I thank Him every day for what we have together.

I could understand if some church leader was to step in and assist us during a time of dysfunction, but that’s not us. Neither of us drinks or uses drugs. We don’t gamble. We don’t sleep around. We don’t go to clubs. Heck, the only time we’ve been to Boystown was during a drive-through on our way to the Chicago ComiCon.

My point is, most churches only seem willing to accept our family if we dissolve our household. One of the most stabilizing elements in my life – my husband and our family – are treated like the most harmful thing that I could maintain in my life. I recognize and reject this crazy paradox of thinking and so do other gay families like us. And that’s why most of us won’t worship in Christian churches.”

Any questions for Jon?

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://www.naytinalbert.blogspot.com Nathan

    To begin with John's words:

    "Too often, I feel like Christians are interested in reaching out to gay people without a real clue about how or why. I have listened to several interviews on this subject and heard way too many questioners talk about how great it is to befriend their gay relative/neighbor/co-worker, but cannot figure out when it’s the right time to tell them to “turn or burn”."

    I echo John's sentiments. Too often I find Christians, and perhaps at times myself, loving with strings attached. I have come to realize that loving with strings attached isn't loving at all. Loving with an agenda isn't loving at all. Loving with conditions is actually antithetical to the Gospel of Christ.

    I want to love. Period.

  • http://thearchitectsgarage.blogspot.com/ Rob Turner

    This is a great post. One of the best, if not the best I've read so far on this blog. I've read through chapter five of Love is An Orientation and overall felt that it was really well researched and thoughtfully laid out, but there was so little that addressed the GLBT community's responsibility regarding the issue of bridge building. So far, It has come across as very one sided to me, though I am committed to FINISHING THE BOOK and will reserve my review until then. I realize I have a lot left to read which may change my opinion greatly.

    This post reminds me of the portions of the book that I've read so far. It's as if the conservative church is to blame completely for the rift. I don't buy that.

    I am a married man who struggles with ssa. I know what it's like to feel like an outcast, but I also know that there can be sanctimony in seeing oneself as an outcast. This is a real issue. The ninth paragraph of Jon's essay reeks of this to me. The other issue is asking this man to return to an institution that may have attributed to some degree (either directly or indirectly) to his learned helplessness in the first place.

    I'm not completely sure to what degree the church should address same sex attraction overall, but nevertheless it must be talked about with intelligence and compassion. Especially in this day and age where so many individuals find themselves dealing with it.

    I do respect the path that Jon has chosen, but personally I cannot imagine putting my family or my ssa in front of my faith. I also cannot imagine raising my daughters with another man.

    I am currently working towards rebuilding a friendship with a gay man from my past who, though he and his partner have no children, fits Jon's description of himself and his family life to a tee. It's been hard because my friend and I see our ssa so differently though we were best friends in high school (knowing not of each others' sexual issues). Speaking for myself, it will always be a struggle that forces me to rely on Jesus Christ. Nor do I or have I ever felt repressed in any way by the evangelical churches I've attended throughout my life. Again, this is just my experience and point of view.

    Thanks Jon for sharing these words via Andrew's blog. I would encourage you to visit my bvlog at: http://thearchitectsgarage.blogspot.com/. I would like to know you better.

    And btw, if you're ever in MS, you and your family can come to church with me. I guarantee you'll feel welcome.

  • Joe_S

    In what sense would you be better suited in a more traditional church setting? What does the UCC lack?

  • http://nprocess.blogspot.com/ n'Process

    This example of Jon's family raises a tough issue…IF God is not gay-affirming (read big IF) then we are building our lives and molding our church rules and practices around a sin. IF that is true, then no amount of affirmation or bridge-building can really make it 'ok'.

    It seems to be that if you want to be a true 'bridge-builder" you have to give up any notions of seeing the person leave a lifestyle you believe is sin. It's not enough to reach out, to care as Christ did…but He also told the women at the well to "Go and sin no more". Christ did love, he did build bridges…but he didn't dilute the truth.

    Do I want to be 'the guy" who says that Jon's family should be broken up, or that the family they created isn't many times better than the life their boys would have had without them? No. But it's not my choice….I either believe what I believe and stay true to it or change what I believe to suit a 'modern understanding' of the issue (and become more acceptable in the process)

    While the "truth" may have been (and is still) communicated in many ways packaged with hate, vitriol, and an un-healthy dose of fear – does that invalidate the truth? Because Christians acted(or still act) out of fear and with sometimes mindless prejudice, does that mean they are all wrong? Does the inadequacy of the messenger invalidate the truth of the message?

    I realize this will prolly be one of "those" comments…but do we love sinners without encouraging them to leave their sin behind? We come to Christ on His terms, not ours.

  • Jon Trouten

    Thanks Rob for posting my stuff. Lesser thanks for linking to my blog. Now I actually have to update it… :)

    Thanks to everyone else who has commented so far.

    Rob: I actually don’t (usually) place blame on the conservative Christian church community for perpetuating the rift between the church and the GLBT community. Most of the animosity I have for the church is because of the insistence its leaders and members for attacking pretty much any and every advancement of gay people and families in the secular world. Lots of fear-mongering has been used by the church to successfully mobilize people against gay families. Beyond that, churches are free to establish their own worship practices and standards for belief. I don’t have to be at your church and vice versa. That’s not a terrible thing.

    I really want people to think about why they are bridge-building with gay people and families. What’s your reason for doing this? What if we are/become Christians but still maintain our families? What if we don’t join a church or Christianity? Will the bridge-building process have been a failure? Things to consider.

    As far as putting family before faith? I’m not sure what that means. I cannot imagine anyone asking Andrew Marin or any straight married person to give up their family in order to practice their faith. Nor would I consider someone like Andrew to have put his family first before his faith by marrying and staying with Brenda.

    And my sons are not really my sons raised with another man. My husband and I both adopted our one son and became co-guardians of our other foster son. We are both their dads. It works out.

    Joe S: The UCC is not your average denomination. There are denominational statements that come out on certain topics and there are ministerial standards and such, but really everything is done on the local church level. Most local churches that accept gay people are less traditional and more experimental with their worship practices and beliefs. That doesn’t necessarily resonate with gay parishioners just because we’re gay and don’t believe that our families are sinful.

  • http://lemonlimekids.wordpress.com amy dolan

    thank you jon for your thoughts. i loved reading this post!

    i work with many children's ministry leaders – who have a desire to make church a safe, loving and spiritual growing place for all children. you wrote that you wanted to know that your kids would be safe in Sunday school lessons and would not be secretly taught that their parents are deviant.

    what advise would you have for children's leaders to accomplish this? would love any ideas that you might have!

  • Mike

    Sad story but its truly encouraging to see his commitment not just to God but Christianity. I can’t even fathom what it is like to be in a situation like this and certainly hope that I don’t put anyone in this situation but I have to think that if I were in his shoes I would have kept God and given up on any kind of church or organized religious group.

    This speaks of the importance of the Marin Foundation, there needs to be help for both sides on this issues.

    Thanks for sharing, lets continue to elevate the conversation!

  • Audrey

    I'm not overly wedded to most theologies, because women didn't write them or debate them at the councils. What is interesting to me is where the conservative church actually is. How would they really deal with gay male members. I assume a lot of gay men are completely ok with sexism as long as no one disses their husbands and kids. Sad but true I'm afraid.

    Just what would bridge building look like at a conservative church as far as lesbians are concerned? Or gay men? Sure you can make friends with all kinds of people. I had an excellent right wing conservative business partner for many years, of course I was completely out to him as a radical lesbian feminist christian, yes we are out there. I believe my business partner and I worked very well together, but neither of us would have bothered to go to each other's churches. He would have been not treated well because of his right wing republican beliefs at my church, and I wouldn't have been able to tolerate male domination and language in the service at his church. Women didn't get ordained in his denomination, that puts you on permanent never go to status in my book. UCC incidently was the very first church to ordain women in America, so they have a long tradition of powerful civil rights work. What's not to like Jon?

    Nevertheless, we both respected each other, "got" the other's position, and each of us had no intention of ever wanting to be in the other's church.

    To me, this is an interesting example of how conservative straight men and radical lesbians can easily find common cause doing business, but have virtually no common theology, other then the very basics–Jesus rose from the dead, Mary never had sex with a man! :-) Sounds ok to me. Oh and don't forget a woman first saw the resurrected Jesus and reported it back to the men hiding in the upper room… hiding and cowering while the women were at the cross mind you…

    If you have children, this complicates the issue, and I would never have them, because again, my lesbian vision is about freedom from all child care responsibilities. Worse almost than being in a conservative church.

    Most of this is just a kind of dialogue. What would the bridge look like? Maybe just talking over coffee or hanging together, mainly so the straight people can get to know us. Many people are still closeted because they are afraid of being rejected by straight people, let alone bible waving straight people. Kids in high school are getting pretty scared these days. Imagine having a conservative christian youth group in YOUR high school if you were a frightened little gay kid?!

    So we'd have to work on the get to know you stage, and I'm not sure a conservative church is a very safe place for the lone gay man or lone gay male couple. All alone, in a sea of…. same thing for lesbians… one lone lesbian in those places….. however, if there were bridge building where 25 lesbians met with 25 conservative straight men if might be an even match :-) We'd leave our base ball bats at home :-) We could talk outside of church first. I'm sure this would be beneficial to most.

    A lot of lesbians I know could not believe that a conservative straight man and a radical lesbian could have an excellent work relationship. The thing is, you just have to go out and meet people.

    The right wing has done so much damage to women's, gay, progressive, working people etc. And they continue to be active racists as well.

    So it's kind of up for grabs. I'm not sure you can ever worship with someone who thinks god is a male and a he and a lord and a master and a he he he he. That just isn't going to go into my ear drums ever again.

    I don't think the conservative straight man will ever be able to see god as a she, god as a warrior lesbian or god as a black woman, or the god as sophia… And our creative individualized and non-hierarchical leadership practices among lesbian christian groups I don't think would go over with the man in pulpit talking at type of service.

    The danger I see to me, is gay men siding with patriarchal straight men. Then I'll be fighting both of you guys. Sexism units men! Yikes… but it is true.

    If the hidden agenda of conservatives is to try to sneak us all into Exodus ministries, or tell us that god is our male lord and master… well, no thank you.

    It's not such an issue with liberal churches because they are welcoming for the most part, have gay and lesbian church events, invite gay bishops to come by… it's cool. So there is more similarity.

    The conservative churches do fund anti gay and lesbian political measures, make my life harder at work, and also limit the places I would want to live due to their constant undermining of gay and lesbians civil rights legislation.

    And again, since women have always been put last on any agenda, I insist on sitting in the front row always now.

  • http://nprocess.blogspot.com/ n'Process

    {Darren} "and since God doesn’t seem to be speaking messages in booming voice from the sky to settle the debate " – For me, the actual words of scripture clearly define this issue, God has already spoken. And this is an issue I personally struggle with, I decided years ago not to live a "gay" lifestyle but I have struggled with those thoughts, feelings, and desires my whole life.

    {Darren} "Why are churches so hard-pressed to take such an extensive, exclusionary stance on THIS issue?" – Because there is no other issue where the interpretation of scripture is being more actively re-interpreted as this issue. Also there is a signifigant cry from GLBT folks for acceptance as equals in society. This makes it a signifigant issue for our time.

    I have a feeling Andrew will cring at this….but one of us IS right. God does have an opinion on this issue. But "Right" does not give anyone permission to abuse, demean, belittle, or de-value even one other of God's children. But the effects of these lifestyle choices does not stay within the confines of one life, one house…it affects all of us. And I don't think it's possible to build a bridge under anything but false pretenses if you don't know where I'm coming from and ultimately why I'm reaching out to you. Jesus didn't come to make a lot of cool friends….he came to save us from ourselves and certain destruction. Is His goal any different today?

    It's really hard in a blog to be true to what I believe without sounding like a hide-bound, potentially homophobic, arch-conservative (the type doing most of the stone throwing on this issue). If you knew me, if we could hang out, maybe it would look different because I'd be able to show that I respect and care for those people in my life who do not share many or any of my beleifs about God or the Bible. They know that I care, that's just harder to evidence online.

  • Mike S

    I’ve served as a pastor for conservative/traditional churches. This was one of the issues that used to drive me out of my mind. How does the church become a more welcoming place for those who are not like us or living lives that others of us find uncomfortable (mental illness, Red or Blue voting patterns, LGBT, homeless, divorced, etc)?

    I’ve forgotten which missiologist coined the phrase “homogeneous principle” of church planting/missions; but I wonder if the local church will ever be able to get past that principle to become a place for all people to worship. I’m no fan of the homogeneous principle, it seems to be the way we sort out and exclude tribes in an open society.

    That said, my question would be: what would make a traditional church a more welcoming place for Jon and his family?

  • Jon Trouten

    Thanks again to everyone for the nice words and the interesting thoughts.

    Amy: I would want what most parents want, a sense of trust in the instructors. One of the things that has kept me at my church despite some differences is a trusting relationship with most of the church members. If I sensed that the church was unsafe or had become unsafe for my kids, I’d leave in a heartbeat.

    Mike S: You asked what would make a traditional church a more welcoming place for families like mine. A couple things pop into mind. I mentioned a couple weeks or so ago that my father died. We went back for the funeral at my parents’ little Methodist church in rural Minnesota. I was impressed that Mark was addressed as my partner just like my siblings’ spouses were introduced as their family during the service and our kids were involved with the pall-bearer activities like the other nephews. I have no illusions that the church doesn’t condone gay sexuality or gay families; nor does the denomination. But it was thoughtful that they independently acknowledged the reality of our household without it accepting or condemning. It just was. Take from that example what you will.

    The other suggestion is to be honest with what you’re after when inviting gay people or families to your church or when they come to visit. In other words, be upfront with your agenda. If your church membership isn’t comfortable welcoming gay families, don’t let us find out the hard way when membership starts draining away and/or when we attempt to become more involved with the life of the church. Maybe a better way to build bridges would be to do a joint Habitat house with the local PFLAG or lesbian book group without expectations that those literate lesbians or proud parents will flock to your church, but might instead build better understandings of your joint interests and differences. Go from there. It’s a thought.

    Oh, and try to keep things in perspective. Too often, the church treats gay marriage like the worst thing imaginable. Worst than promiscuity, hedonism, substance abuse, and disease? Your church might not agree that gays marrying is the best choice, but keep in mind that they could be making much worse choices.

    Audrey: I didn’t say that I don’t like the UCC, but it’s not always a good fit. It’s not like I’m leaving any time soon. But it would be nice sometimes to have more worship options to choose from.

  • http://www.xanga.com/djfree Darren

    n’Process,

    I think the reason your questions (which are legitimate) are so difficult to answer is because they hinge on that big “IF” that you start off with. The fact of the matter is, there’s just no way to know what God’s ONE, TRUE opinion is on the matter (if there indeed exists such a thing). I’m sure we could speak for Him (as many of us do), and say that it’s clear in the Bible. But we’ve seen how – at times – God calls us to see beyond the words in the text, to get to the heart of the matter. (Peter not deeming things “unclean” which God called “clean” comes to mind as an example.)

    So, given the fact that so many people – good, honest, true, seeking, God-fearing people – disagree on this issue . . and since there is no end to all sides insisting that they’re the ones that have heard from God, and are in fact correct . . . and since God doesn’t seem to be speaking messages in booming voice from the sky to settle the debate . . . then the question isn’t really about anyone asking others to leave their beliefs at the door. The real issue here is how we’ll treat one another given our differing beliefs.

    I don’t see anywhere in Jon’s words where he’s asked people to give up their genuine convictions. I see him asking those on the conservative side of the aisle (those whom he wishes greater fellowship with) to not undermine his own choices, and seek to destroy his family. Can we do that while still maintaining a strong opinion and conviction that differs from Jon’s? Of course. Good churches do this all the time. They have some people that believe in sprinkling, and some that believe in dunking. And they manage to not make each other feel like crap about opposing opinions. They have people that take Jesus’ words seriously when he says that those who remarry after divorce are committing adultery, and the remarried people in the congregation don’t feel unwelcome there b/c the pastor instructs them to dissolve their union to meet up with his understanding of Jesus’ words. Why is it so hard for people in the church to extend this type of grace to gay families? Why are churches so hard-pressed to take such an extensive, exclusionary stance on THIS issue?

    Jon,

    Thank you so much for sharing that! It’s inspirational to me to see you pursuing God with your family. I often feel so alone in being an out, gay man in a healthy relationship, and striving to remain in the Church. I feel fortunate to have found a church home that not only aligns with my (traditional) beliefs, but accepts my partner and I for who we are.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Mike S – Thanks so much for your last question. I believe it’s an extremely important one for a potential continuation for what Jon said to practically help ALL of us know how to move forward!!!! I know how I would answer it from a straight conservative perspective, but I’ll let Jon answer first from his own!

    And Darren, I fully agree with what you said: “I don’t see anywhere in Jon’s words where he’s asked people to give up their genuine convictions. I see him asking those on the conservative side of the aisle (those whom he wishes greater fellowship with) to not undermine his own choices, and seek to destroy his family. Can we do that while still maintaining a strong opinion and conviction that differs from Jon’s? Of course.” Wonderfully said.

    n’Process – From my persepctive, it’s not about giving up your convictions to be a ‘bridge builder’. I believe that is the point, actually. It’s about holding on to what you believe without continuing to work off of a ‘false model of the ideal situation’ – meaning I can convince someone else that I’m right and they’re wrong. That doesn’t mean that I can’t share my convictions! I believe we all should…as Jon has, as I have, as you have and everyone else has. But it’s rather about sustainable uncomfortablness through these issues, instead of answering these issue for others. Speaking your convictions is one thing. How others take those convictions is a totally separate topic. And I think this is what you were saying: We have to learn how to take those differing convictions in constructive ways such that you’re not the homophobe and Jon isn’t the conservative Christian hater. If that is the case, than I full agree.

  • Andy

    This is such a great topic to think about. While I was talking this over with a friend we came up with an interesting scenario to think about.

    If a gay family with children started to attend and get involved with a traditional conservative evangelical church I would assume that the church would urge the couple to end their loving relationship. If the two adults agreed to end their relationship because of the church’s beliefs, what would the church suggest to do with the children? How would the church live in this tension?

    • http://www.jennyrain.com Jenny

      Thanks Andy – that is my question exactly because I AM one of those children of a gay family.

  • Frank B

    Andy- Several years back I heard about some missionaries who found themselves in a difficult situation. They evangelized an area where polygamy was popular, and several men with multiple wives were among their converts. Of course, their immediate thought was to say, "Now, pick one!" but given the context, this would not do. The "ex-wives" would have been unprovided for and made outcasts in their society. The solution they decided on was to allow them to keep their wives, but to have them take no new wives.

    For churches that would like to keep their conservative standards of theology, a similar solution can work. They can keep a stance which says, "We would like to offer help to people with ssa" (thanks for the acronym, Rob) while simultaneously saying, "But if you are already in a committed marriage we will support you and your family." Neither side would see this as their "ideal" situation, but it is a step toward finding a balance.

    Note- My use of the phrase "help people with ssa" is not intended to cause discussion, but merely to make a representation of the conservative position.

  • http://sassygranny.blogspot.com/ Kathleen Flanagan

    This post and the comments to follow have been a tough read for me. Quite frankly, I feel humbled and conflicted, which is probably a good thing. Having lived long, I realize that any response that comes too easily and too quickly might be a canned one; tidy too.

    I know if I had gay or lesbian son or daughter I would love them inspite of my biblical, conservative worldview. Perhaps BECAUSE of it, as I've come to appreciate how boundaryless is love. They and their family would be welcome in my home and heart regardless.

    I also know that the scriptures are pretty clear about homosexuality. Not just on that behavior, but on many others – - as many of you have rightly pointed out here.

    On the continuum of extreme reactions to homosexuality there's Phariseeism on the one end (ugh); lukewarmness on the other (double ugh). I don't care to be on either end of that continuum but where, exactly, I want or need to be isn't clear to me today.

    A quandry: I was born into a family of alchoholics who, thankfully, wrestled with and overcame their addiction, myself included. The malady traces back to as many generations as we can see; clearly a chink in our family's DNA armor. Or, at the very least, an inclination that attaches itself to the generations.

    Track with me here, if you will: I have wondered if we aren't supposed to be drinkers; drunks even. We were born that way. I mean no impudence, but merely point out that what may seem right, or what may even be satisfying and workable in a person's life today may, in the end and in reality, actually be hurtful, if not morally aberrant; an offense to God.

    Then again, isn't a stiff-necked, self righteous church elder practicing a controlling lifestyle that's highly offensive to God equally aberrant?

    On the other hand, how are we to assess (and not judge) these things if not according to God's own word?

    Alas you see my conflict.

    In closing, I would just like to say if you and your family lived next door, Jon, it's quite possible I would squirm as a first reaction (knowing you might squirm, too, having an old lady next door). I would like to think I would move past reactions to responses, extending the grace (and courtesies) shown me over-and-over-and-over again by believer and non-believer alike.

    God bless you and yours, and God help we conservative sorts move out of our boxes to understand more fully how He would have us love as His Son.

    Kathleen

  • http://www.xanga.com/djfree Darren

    n'Process,

    That's precisely my point: for YOU, God has clearly spoken. Well guess what? For ME God has also clearly spoken, and I don't agree w/ your interpretation of His words in Scripture. Thus, what we have are 2 people who are genuinely listening for, and following, the voice of Christ. Is ONE of us right? Perhaps. But you're working with a logical fallacy there. It's possible we're BOTH WRONG. It's also possible we're BOTH RIGHT, and have correctly heard the call of Christ for our individual lives. But again, who's right and who's wrong doesn't seem to be the point here.

    As for "active re-interpretation", I strongly beg to differ. Does your church have women who keep silent and wear a covering on their heads? If not, your very own church is quite active in re-interpreting Scripture.

    Now, you may have some wonderful "cultural context" arguments for why I'm mistaken in that charge. And if you think that's where this conversation should go, you've completely missed the point ;)

    Audrey,

    Why is it that you feel that most gay men would be ok w/ sexist beliefs? From where do you draw that particular stereotype?

  • Audrey

    Well, I think the best approach is to create new worship ideas Jon. Get a committee together, discuss what would be insightful or expansive with your pastor, and see what happens. Get out there and create that which you’d love. Just some advice from a lesbian who was to be a start up company in a male dominated world!

    Sometimes the most amazing things happen. During the dark dark days of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, a lot of us would go to a Taize Service out on the penninsula run by catholic nuns. I recall this lovely service where we sang songs in Latin, Spanish, and English. There was a huge cross that was brought to the front of the church, and the whole congregation would come up as we sang, and each person would kiss the cross. Taize was one of THE most wonderful services, both for those of us who loved different languages, but I think it brought comfort to men who were dying or for those who were caring for these men.

    Some of the words were from Theresa of Avila, “let nothing disturb you…” some where “Jesus remember when you come into your glory…”

    This is what means something.
    Just a quick note to n’process– or others too. There are a lot of people out there who have fallen in love with the same sex. Thus, this odd SSA initials, that I’ve seen for the first time here. I don’t know the circumstances or anything about anyone, but if you are in this category, but chose to stay in the heterosexual malestream, I think you should be honest about this.
    The rest of us are completely in love with our same sex partners, have always been, have never desired to “fit in” to heternormativity, and have been dynamic in our desire to create a new world and a new culture that is free of the “child bearing” “heelpmeet” or women having sex with men. This horrifies lesbians, and it dishonors the lesbians who were married to men for eons, and then discovered their true selves. You should hear the great relief of lesbians when they divorce the men, and find the love of women. Sometimes it takes them decades to know this due to the heterosexual propaganda machine that is ever present everywhere.

    I feel that a lot of the “ssa” stuff is merely internal conflict and a wedding of the malestream. It’s for the people that want to go along to get along, and that’s ok. But I want those folks to fess up, and say that the rest of us are truly this special group annoited by god to do the creative work, to compose the music you sing, to paint the Sistine chapel, to go out into the world and say ” captain my captain”***… we are the people who are supposed to go out in the world, we are not to “reproduce”— our organs are not “reproductive” we have a very special purpose in the world.

    Remember the ssa people aren’t the true lesbian and gay people, they simply obcess about this topic either because they want malestream acceptance or they just can’t handle the adventure of being lesbian.
    Whatever the reason, your views are skewed because of this struggle. There are millions of us who have no struggle, but we want to be free, and we do have a prophetic vision of same sex love in an age when the earth is dying of over population.

    The two groups simply need to be honest. I can’t tell you what to do, because I’m not attracted to men. Men are mererly road blocks on the path to lesbian enlightenment. They have nothing to offer us, other than being that bright orange cone in the middle of the street that wearily we drive around every day on our way to work.

    So I am speaking to lesbian christian nation here, lesbians take over the bible and the life of the world. We are excited about our insights and bored by patriarchy, which is one of its chief characteristis…bordom.

    Don’t let your personal conflicts, the woman you fell in love with but gave up to marry some dull insurance agent of a man. The gay male who married a woman because he was afraid of his gayness. It doesn’t cut it with those of us who were not going to marry some man, not going to be dominated, not going to have our lives and loves made little of.

    We are a different genetic race entirely. Those who struggle are simply the ones who can’t take a stand, and hide behind a bible written by patriarchs who had no idea who women really were as thinking independent people. The bible doesn’t illustrate well the life of women. It documents the horror of male supremacy, it stones women, it marginalizes widows… leave it to Jesus the Christ to get it all right. And if a man back then could get it all right, then THAT is my proof that he is really the son of the lesbian god!

    Jon, do what lesbians do. We walk into some male dominated borocracy, and we create new ways of being. This should be easy for two well paid white men… everyone listens to you. Just speak up and make worship anew. Don’t be passive consumers, that’s what straight people do. Your job is to put it out there, to change that little world. As a lesbian who has to fight for change in a male dominated, male stupid world all the time, this should be easy for you guys! Geez :-)

  • http://nprocess.blogspot.com/ n'Process

    {Audrey} "Remember the ssa people aren’t the true lesbian and gay people, they simply obcess about this topic either because they want malestream acceptance or they just can’t handle the adventure"

    Hey thanks for de-valueing any struggle I might have as not being "true", so I didn't fall out on your side of the issue..does that mean my feelings are any less true, less powerful, the longings less deep?

    From,

    One of those SSA guys

  • http://nprocess.blogspot.com/ n'Process

    Darren,

    This is obviously not the forum to debate who is more right. But I still beg to differ on your assertion that BOTH of us could be right. That is not possible, Christ does not offer conflicting 'personal' revelation to different people. It is completely possible we could both be wrong, but not vice versa.

    But is the core of the issue….IF God is okay with homosexuality as a valid expression of love and fidelity (ie. marriage) then there is no argument, no reason not to immediately embrace ALL same-gendered couples with no equivocation. (In Church, legally, morally, all of it)

    Since it is going to be nearly impossible to 'settle' that issue this side of heaven, we are left with how do we deal with each other in the midst of such great tension. So while I may not agree with everyone on this blog, it is still a worthwhile endeavor to pursue the discourse.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Jon – Your words and advise back to Mike S. are so ridiculously honest and realistic! You get it, and I’m almost brought to tears as I write this. Thank you so much. Mike S, the big thing that Jon is communicating is that the church needs to be the church, with gay families as well. Jon is not under some delusion that the conservative church will one day just wake up and change what they believe. But there must be a non-negotiable level of respect and dignity associated with being a come-as-you-are culture. Also, Jon’s suggestion of partnering to do good works together—it’s something that is a big part of my understanding of what bridge building is all about: Significant things can still happen for the Kingdom, together, whether or not there is full theological agreement.

    Kathleen – Thank you so much for your brutal honesty. It is those difficult times of admittance when we’re all able to realize we do come from our own presuppositions and places of cultural awareness of the world around us. I just appreciate your heart and communication in your conclusion!

    Audry – I couldn’t agree with n’Process more about devaluing his, and everyone else’s life who has a same-sex attraction. There is such an overwhelming invalidation pandemic running rapid throughout this back-and-forth, and it needs to stop for the conversation to move forward in any type of productive direction. And that goes for “ex-gay” or “struggling” the same as it does for “gay Christian”.

    Darren and n’Process – as you both have summed up, it is a worthwhile discussion to pursue! That is the wonder of what I hope this blog can be; places where you each with the rest of us, can have these conversations full well knowing we’re committed to the process of discovery. I personally think it’s pretty exciting and very scary. :)

  • http://nprocess.blogspot.com/ n'Process

    Jon, I think that true Christianity does not come down to putting 'butts in the pews' – rather it is about a Holy God making a way for an unholy people to have a relationship with him. So the "Church" is just an entity, that has no will or action except what individual members do in service of it. The effort of bridge-building is not wasted if a person chooses not to repent or change their lifestyle. If God's standard is what we will all ultimately be judged against, then a person cannot say that they were ignorant of the other viewpoints, that they were never warned, or offered a different choice. The sword cuts both ways tho…I will be held responsible not only for how I handled the word of truth, but also for how I conducted myself while sharing it with others.

    So ultimately God does the forgiving, the changing, and the making of a 'true christian'. But to quote a previous comment, "what may seem right, or what may even be satisfying and workable in a person’s life today may, in the end and in reality, actually be hurtful, if not morally aberrant; an offense to God". I have personally lived that unsavory morsel out in many areas of my life not related to sexual issues.

    The bridge-building is merely an extension of the commission Christ gave to go into all the world and preach the gospel. That is a continual process of which the results are left up to God.

    Its not hard to see where a guy in your position would be offended by the seeming continued arrogance of "Christians" intent on seeing you changed or converted to their version of the truth. But don't you have a hope in writing these blogs, in publicly sharing your story that someone, anyone, will finally "get it"? That they will step out of the dark-ages and learn to accept you and your family, just as it is, without feeling the need to pray for your salvation/conversion? (or secretly hoping that your kids don't grow up to be "just like their Dad's?) Isn't that (hope for change) an agenda too? Isn't that a belief that you hope more people would adopt?

  • http://www.xanga.com/djfree Darren

    n'Process,

    You are more than welcome to beg to differ :) And I stand by my assertion that it's possible that there can indeed be personal revelations from Christ. It seems that you want to fit sexuality into a black and white box. I'm just not so sure that it fits.

    I have a friend who was raped by 2 men at a pretty young age. Prior to the event, he liked women. To this day, he still likes women. But he now has a very strong same-sex attraction to deal with. Now, let's consider for a moment that God does indeed bless same-sex, monogamous relationships. Could you conceive of that same God saying to biologically-born gay people that he wants them to be in monogamous relationship, but says to my friend "your desire for men comes from a very broken place, and your attempts to achieve fulfillment in same sex behavior has only brought you pain, in a vain attempt to relive an event that I want to heal you of"?

    That at least makes sense on some level to you, right? So don't be too eager to dismiss the fact that God might be saying different things to different people. After all, it is God who knows our constitution, and God who knows what's best for us to pursue. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that homosexuality – even if blessed – is NECESSARILY the best path for everyone who has a same-sex attraction. Just as it's not best for everyone who is heterosexual to be married. Some are actually called by God to celibacy. Why would the One God who set out the precedent for marriage and relationship in Genesis (and substantiated it by stating "it's not good for man to be alone"), then call some man to be alone? Indeed, God does say some APPARENTLY conflicting things (on the surface, from our point of view), b/c God has ways which we do not know nor understand. Thus, it is altogether possible that you indeed accurately heard God call you to the celibate life (or whatever it is you think God's called you to), and someone like Jon has accurately heard God call him to relationship and family. Personal revelation from God is hardly new, nor rare. Why do you EXCLUDE the possibility in this particular situation?

    As another example in this line of thinking . . . when Deborah became a Judge, how many good, God-fearing, Jewish men do you suppose insisted that she could not have POSSIBLY been called by God b/c she's a woman? God always has nice ways of showing us how we can't fit Him into our comfortable little boxes ;)

    DJ

  • http://nprocess.blogspot.com/ n'Process

    Darren,

    Your comment leaves a lot of "maybe's" and "possible's" as if merely raising the questions is enough doubt cast to invalid scripture. And the example of the young rape victim (which is a trauma inflicted on way too many people in this world) raises an odd point…if his homosexual desires are birthed out of a horrible trauma…why is it that God would cause children to be born with this…but then we assume this is "natural" and they are intended to be that way? Again it goes back to the original suppositions. You (appear to) believe that homosexuality (cute, nice, monogamous, gay people) is an inborn trait (hence a fault of the Creator not the Creation) and as such cannot be healthy or good to stifle, control, or attempt to modify. People are diagnosed with all manner of predilections to steal, lie, cheat, drug, medicate, satiate all apparently very natural urges for them. the difference is we have classified those urges as bad, and you and I agree that those people should not pursue those urges no matter what personal pleasure or fulfillment they derive from it. But in this case we have elevated the sexuality of a person to an order of importance that supercedes all others. The progression was for many of my friends, "I'm gay" now how do I make a life that makes sense of that. So it influenced every decision after that. So the positional statement in life becomes, "I'm gay…deal with it." To God, to Church, to family, to friends…if others cannot accept the fact that they are gay, then others cannot accept them(inclusive whole person them). Because "I AM gay".

    I struggle with SSA but refuse to be defined by it. Single, married, virgin or not…my sexuality is not my deepest need. It is a BIG issue for me, and I've invested a considerable amount of time, energy, and emotion into sorting out these issues in my life. I think I have a basic appreciation for the pain and complexity involved in the issue of denying the only form of expression my desires seem to take (for whatever that is worth)

  • Jon Trouten

    I've sat on this a bit trying to not come off as too defensive, but homosexuality is not harmful. No more or less than heterosexuality.

    It doesn't harm one's self, family, or society as a whole like uncontrolled addictions, or cheating, or stealing, or lying, or whatever.

    I mean, a gay person can lie to his partner and cheat on an exam or with someone on the DL and abuse alcohol and other drugs. But so can a straight person.

    It's not the homosexuality that's harmful or sinful in those situations. It's all of those other behaviors.

    Sorry, but this is a real pet-peeve for me.

  • Jon Trouten

    n’Process: What if God ISN’T cool with gay people and there are still gay people who are content to maintain their lives and families as is. Is bridge-building a wasted effort if they don’t repent, change, and become true Christians? What about ecumenical efforts between Christians and those of different religions?

    I go back to my earlier point on the whole bridge-building thing. What’s the point? Is it solely an effort at bringing butts into the pews or is there a broader positive that can come from it?

  • Mike S

    I should also add that I'm not implying anything by using the bath analogy, except that we all need to come to the Cross and be cleansed of whatever God wants to clean in our lives at any particular moment. Sometimes it not the stuff everyone else wants God to "fix" in our lives first.

  • Audrey

    I know we are back again with gay and lesbian 101 stuff, but really, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian. I couldn't really figure out what all the fuss was about with straight people, but after reading these evangelical sites a bit more, I see that there is a whole category of very conflicted people out there. They struggle with ssa — interesting way of avoiding the g or L word, but hey…

    Anyway, I don't struggle with my lesbian self, I am it. And I have always been lesbian. What I think many people might worry about is that they actually are lesbian or gay, but they somehow just went along with society and married an opposite sex person. If you are in your 60s, you probably did this. And I'm still meeting guys in their early 30s who married women, and then started to come out.

    So the straight majority might actually feel that the true lesbian population might be 40%, and if you are a partriarchal religion, and want to control the sexuality of everyone, this really would be a huge threat to the hetero-normative system. It is a well oiled system, it has this huge propaganda maching designed to get women to give their bodies over to men, how convenient, among other things.

    But lesbians and gays who have a strong sense of self just don't get swayed by the hetero-normative system, its perks, its contracts and its glamour. So we are this very independent group out there, and it seems to really upset the apple cart. For some reason Jon, straight people actually believe there is something wrong with us, when nothing is.

    I just don't believe the bible bashers anymore. They really carry no weight with me, and see to just drag out all the convenient passages to shore up heteronormativity, never acknowledging history, progress, science, or the fact that the term "homosexual" wasn't even invented until the late 19th century with the advent of the sexologists. Men who kept many wives back in the time of Kind David are not good role models for contemporary gay or lesbian life. Women today would cringe at this world, and are well rid of it in America, except for the Mormon break off groups, or creepy men who kidnap women…

    So there is nothing at all wrong with us, we don't need to be fixed by some clueless straight person, and ever heteros don't know that marriage is a legal contract. It most certainly NOT about love, it's a contract folks enforced by the state. When I bring this up with straight women, they often are quite surprised a lot of times, because they never thought of it this way.

    Marriage is about the ownership of women, children and property, it is about inheritance laws, and it is why marriage was not permited for catholic priests. Why? The church wanted the property, and didn't want widows and children to have it. It's just that simple.

    If you are not gay or lesbian, then of course you might think it is not normal. Straight is the default, just as male is the default, and if you are neither, you don't have much stake in that program, sorry but you don't.

    The ssa struggle folks who end up in these evangelical messes could be the problem children here, because they might have married an opposite sex person, but didn't really want to. Again, people do a lot to go along to get along in the world. So if this is the case, then all that exodus, ssa, etc. is not about lesbians or gays, but about people who are outside the clear category to begin with.

    If evangelical is proccupied with monogamy, then a bisexual person would have trouble. But, since we know that so many men that enforce these "pastoral" regulation are anything but faithful to wives, and that monogamy is actually not as common as everyone pretends, again reality and mythology collide.

    I never saw lesbian nation as all that threatening to men, but if women are really 40% lesbian, and have to be made to conform to get money or safety, then perhaps the truth of this would turn male supremacy and sexual entitlement to women… a male obsession.. into a real social challenge. Just kind of thinking out loud here.

    Gays and lesbians are normal, those outside this category don't know a thing about it.

  • http://gracerules.wordpress.com/ Liz

    As a matter of fact the scriptures are not clear on the issue of a loving, monogamous same sex relationships. Granted the way the scripture has been interpreted into our language makes it sound like it is clear but when you begin to look into the original language and historical context you learn that the original text was not talking about what we are talking about here. The original NT text was referring to men having sex with young boys and heterosexuals participating in homosexual acts at pagan temples – not gays and lesbians having loving, monogamous relationships.

    I grew up in and raised my children in a conservative evangelical church and believed what they told me about homosexuality but when my son (who was in college) came out and I almost lost my relationship with him due to my beliefs I spent many months (more like a couple of years) studying scripture, praying and listening to both sides with an open heart and mind (as much as that is possible) and came to the conclusion that due to the lack of evidence it must not be wrong to be in a loving, monogamous same sex relationship.

    As far as church goes it is a very sad situation. My son grew up in the church and loves the Lord greatly. He is in a wonderful relationship and he and his partner would love to be participating members in a church but it seems everytime they find a church that is a good fit something terrible happens. For instance, a friend of theirs who was gay and dating (not sexually active) was told he could not any longer be a volunteer at the welcome center (they hand out printed information and give directions around the building) because he was dating. My son was heartbroken at the cruelty and hypocricy as he knew there were straight people who were having single and sexually active (with opposite sex) that were affirmed and welcomed to participate with no limitations. And if your argument is that it probably wasn’t known then I ask you…so should gay people start reporting straight singles who are sexually active, should the church do some sort of vetting if they are really that concerned about certain sins, is it just sexual sins that disqualify people from participating in the body of Christ because there is a lot of pride and gossip and greed and hate going on among people who participate, do you really expect gay people to attend a church where they are considered a second rate citizen.

    And although this is already too long I have to say that at this point in the game I don’t think we should expect LGBT to be responsible for much of the bridge building since they are the ones who have been oppressed, abused and excluded. However, I will say that the Christian LGBT people that I have met are some of the most loving, reasonable, compassionate, forgiving people I have ever met and go overboard at building bridges with those who disagree with them – as long as someone isn’t being mean to them (they’ve had it with that and I am glad they aren’t putting up with it anymore).

    I think the answer is for everyone to admit that no one knows for sure and that without a firm foundation it is unjust to oppress and exclude a whole group of people. If you find it impossible to admit that you don’t know for sure then at least stop fighting against marriage equality as there is nothing that indicates that it will harm you or society if LGBT people are allowed to marry.

  • Bob Campbell

    I know this is off the subject but . . .

    Audrey long before the UCC ordained women Pentecostals did. And then most of them stopped. That's in the 20th century. I'm not sure about the 19th. History is stranger than we think.

    Jon thanks for your story about the funeral. I hope that would be the response in my congregation. It is my response in my family. A niece who is a lesbian and a delightful girlfriend. I found this out at a family wedding. I love the niece and the girlfriend. Which makes me ask what, for me, is a radical question: does the Bible have to come first? Can't we be friends, relatives, loved ones first, and really get to know each other and then talk Biblical translation, interpretation and theology? All of this from the evangelical.

    Maybe Habitat for Humanity is the answer. Spilling paint on each other is one of the best ways to really get to know someone.

  • Mike S

    Jon Trouten:

    Thanks for both of your responses. I should make clear that I didn’t have any agenda with anyone except the agenda of God’s grace. My assumption was that anyone walking in the doors of the church needed to hear God’s Word of forgiveness and reconciliation. They needed the hope that God was for them and loved them even as they walk through life convinced that God hates them.

    Too often I think the agenda of the Church (esp the evangelical portions) is have people take the bath and get cleaned up first, then come to church and be baptized or join/get involved/whatever. I don’t see that as the way Jesus worked. He let his Father do the leading, rather than letting the religious Pharisaism do the leading.

    However, trying to get your standard issue conservative evangelical to see that and stand aside to let God gently work in someone else’s life, while coming alongside as their fellow human being, is almost impossible. Unfortunately it seems we evangelicals are often more often concerned with being right than anything else.

    Thanks again!

  • http://carleton1958.xanga.com/ Jeff S.

    I’ve got a busy week going on, but I actually took the time to read every comment on here. I think only on Andy Marin’s blog would such a wonderful discussion take place. Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to comment.

    I especially enjoyed Audrey’s comments. How many straight white evangelical men would ever take the time to read something of this nature without mocking or condemning it outright? But what comes through for me is that Audrey has some very real beliefs with reasons behind those beliefs, and I am called to respect those views, and listen and learn, even if I don’t agree in many areas or if I live my own life very differently. I’ve grown to appreciate people like you, Audrey, and Andy’s book has helped me learn to express and show that appreciation in ways that I wouldn’t have thought of before.

    Fwiw, I have at times described myself as someone who “struggles with SSA”, I have been married to a woman for 17 years who knew about my “struggle” before I proposed but still trusted me to be faithful to her, as I have. We have two children, one biological, one adopted. I facilitate an online group of 200+ Christian guys who also “struggle with SSA” but include some who self-describe themselves as “gay but celibate”. My desire is to see them learn to integrate their faith with their sexuality in healthy ways congruent with their faith, even if someone would see our approach as repressing our sexuality.

    There’s probably more I’d like to say, but mainly I’d like to say that I appreciate Jon’s story and Andy making the space available here for the discussion. The evangelical church in America is going to have to grapple with this issue more and more in the years to come as more states allow gay marriage and more gay families are formed, where one or both partners or the children in their families at some point affiliate with evangelical churches. I work with our church’s youth group. If a child of gay parents came to attend our group, I need to relate the child’s parents with love and grace and respect.

    In a similar way as the church in Africa is having to grapple with polygamous families,including the new president of South Africa (who I think also identifies as Christian but not sure), so we need to learn how to respond as evangelical Christians to gay families in our church communities. I pray that we can do so effectively with Christ’s love and grace.

  • Jack Harris

    Andrew,

    So I have been reading all the comments related to this blog post and maybe it’s my mood for today, but I honestly don’t see how GLBT Folks and their families can worship in Evangelical Churches in a safe manner. I think if a GLBT person were to ask me if I thought it was ok to worship in a evangelical church, I would have to say no..not until a lot has changed.

    I think the better solution is find ways to cooperate together on projects that were mentioned earlier like Habitat for Humanity etc. Those kinds of settings would still allow involvement with each other without requireing a full immersion with each other. Just my thought for the day :)
    Jack

  • Audrey

    This is a blog of overviews, and each person commenting sees a part of the picture. I don’t think conservative churches are really all that prepared to deal with lesbians and gays as out and proud. It’s too much of a culture shock, and they are stuck in some pretty unfeeling theologies.

    There are the rule makers, and then there are the people who didn’t make the rules. If you are a rule maker, I think the people who didn’t have this chance historically and might have some issues with this.

    I, for one, would certainly give no credence to any man who had anything to say about the lives and sexuality of women. Women, who were not the rule makers of christianity, should not be bound by what men have said, unless it genuinely makes sense. Most male theology is obvious, and you should always asks “who benefits from these ideas?”

    If I were a straight woman, and a man I was dating said he struggled with ssa, I would not marry him. All too often the men just use the women, and aren’t 100% connected to them. SSA men should not be marrying women period. It is unfair to the women, and women seem to put up with an awful lot from men. If I see one more political wife have to stand up on a podium over her husband’s sex scandal, and have to stand there stone faced as he apologizes, I’m going to scream! Let the guys face the canon fire alone.

    There will be much better ways to build bridges between straight and queer communities of all sorts. I like the idea of Habitat for Humanity, or other collective events outside all the churches and all the theologies. Then after people have spent quality time together, and gained a more sophisticated understanding of the complexity of gay and lesbian life, well this would be a good starting point.

    In the secular world, this happens all the time now. I have close and loving relationships with many straight women, and good work relationships with a few straight men. And my partner meets straight people in easy going situations like the dog park, and over dog training, and doggish issues. Dogs and cats play a huge role in our lesbian and gay worlds, and are as important as children are to straight people. The death of a dog brings friends running to comfort the “family” of the dog, for example. Gay people love animal blessing ceremonies and St. Francis of Assisi, for example.

    We bring pictures of our pets as ice breakers at work, to calm down mildly homophobic straight colleagues. I spend a year smoothing feathers, until the straights get used to me. It takes A LOT of effort on my part, and very little effort on straight people’s parts most of the time. I think black people often say the same thing about white people.

    So ultimately, what would be the objective of bridge building? The evangelicals and conservative churches have been so out of it for so long, that they are the ones who are the most backward. Only in 2008 or 2009 have they even begun to have panel discussions about gayness and the church with people on the panels who don’t call us all sinners, for example.
    The Cornerstone conference, for example.

    And also there are different social customs that create challenges. Younger straight men might actually have lesbian friends, my generation doesn’t have a high opinion of straight men because we had to battle so hard just to get job opportunites, raises, promotions and elected office.
    Since the guys my age were so dreadful, I tend to carry my utter contempt for their sexism even today. So while gay men and straight women have their traditional alliances, straight men represent a clear danger to lesbians, since it is never safe when straight men are out in the world.

    This power dynamic exists and persists. So how would this really change?
    Since most straight men don’t have the education or background to understand sexism and homophobia, nor the understanding of how this works, then clearly there is a reality gap.

    I just started reading a novel the other day called “Beyond the Pale” by Elana Dykewomon. It is about Jews in Russia in the late 19th century, and lesbian communities as they spread to New Your City. Most of the New Deal legislation came about through lesbian labor leaders and activists. Eleanor Roosevelt lived in a collective household with lesbians, and it was their activism that filtered up to the New Deal legislation. That’s just one major contribution of lesbians to the welfare of all in America.

    Anyway, the book is really great, and very vivid as it explains Jewish village life through the eyes of women. One sentence in particular seemed so true:
    “Long ago I divided men up into patriarchs, demons and ghosts. Patriarchs were worse than demons because they made the rules. Demons just tormented you. Ghosts mouthed the rules but has no spirit in them.”

    So when you look at the bible and who wrote it and got to control it, and who created the theological councils … Nicean Creed, Council of Nicea and all the others, we have to know that women didn’t get in on this process. So when we hear men go on and on about the word of god, we lesbians just know that it is men oppressing women, and coming up with a world that is male centric. The word of god is suspect because of the authors, and fortunately, my partner has a masters in divinity, so we have our own sources, and are not dependent on men to go over the ideas of Jesus, for example.

    All of this would be way too much for a conservative church. Those churches can go on and on trying to prevent lesbian and gay civil rights legislation everywhere, just as they went on and on trying to stop civil rights legislation for black people. Right wing white churches certainly attacked Martin Luther King in his day, the way they attack feminism and lesbian and gay activists today. It’s the same story with different groups.

    I keep an open mind about what conservative churches might do to change, but again, any church that would say the life of the unborn child has precendence over the life of a mother, definitely isn’t female controlled.. another topic.

    Can a straight man get equality, and women running their own lives? Can straight men honestly say that their sexual ownership of women could be significantly diminished should lesbian nation become very well situated?
    If there was no attack on lesbians, and the world found us perfectly ok, then of course, millions more women would become lesbians. If men no longer controlled governments and businesses, and women could easily get good educations and jobs, and had no economic need for men, we’d see something new then as well.

    As long as men think they own the bodies of women, and they do believe this, then there will be oppresion of lesbians. As long as straight men can get away with their sexism and ignorance, and continue in their domination of the world, well there will be challenges.

    Who talks about the word of god? I think lesbians have a very different opinion about what this really could be.

  • Al

    I might mention that traditionally orthodox churches deal with a similar situation all the time. People come to the congregation that are living together without being married, some having children.

    They hear the message that God does not affirm their relationship. Their kids hear the same message. Admittedly, they have the option of getting married and on the outside they don't look that different. But, homosexuals are not the only people who are drawn to a church that will condemn their behavior or decisions.

    Corinth had to deal with a man in an inappropriate relationship with his mother. Ambrose of Milan had to deal with Emperor Theodosius when he tried to come to church having done actions the church considered wrong. This is not a new issue, just a new twist on it.

  • http://www.xanga.com/djfree Darren

    nProcess,

    No, you misunderstand. The "maybe's" and "possibilities" questions aren't enough to invalidate Scripture, precisely because I'm NOT invaldiating Scripture. In fact, I showed you THROUGH Scripture how God makes personal revelations to people. You seem to think that God doesn't do the same on this issue. Your insistence that he doesn't demonstrates the persistence of needing to be right. Unless you can offer reasoned arguments for why we could not both be right, then it's completely unnecessary (if not silly) to deny the possibility.

    As for being inborn. I think you prove my point. LOTS of things are inborn. What often helps us determine which ones are inherently wrong (and not worth pursuing) and which are moral, is the harm they cause. Since pursuing a same-sex, monogamous relationship has not proven to cause any harm whatsoever, the only leg you've got to stand on is your interpretation of Scripture. Yet, your interpretations are fallible (as are mine), so your insistence that we could not both be right is unreasoned at best, and fear-based arrogance at worst.

    Again, who's right and who's wrong completely misses the point. I bring up the possibilities and maybes to help ease us out of this "one of us HAS to be right, and all others be damned" mindset. It's unproductive and futile.

    So, I go back to my original statement in response to your first post on this subject. Given that none of us can prove that we are right, and given that none of us can show that there is only ONE right, why bother insisting on it as being the crux to how we approach the issue to gays in the Church? I just think there has to be a better way than that . . .

    Darren

  • Audrey

    The church of the past, in Theodocius' time, or in Corinith, or at other times in history, had a lot more power over people's lives than it does now.

    In the past, you were tortured and executed for not following the teachings of the male controlled, owned and operated church. I've actually visited monuments in Germany that honor the women burned and tortured, I've seen the chambers with the instruments of torture that were used against women. Believe me, I don't want churches to have any power at all in a democracy. I'm even against their tax exempt status.

    People should be free to join any church, and certainly they can say anything they want to, but they should not have special status, nor should they be held in higher esteem than other institutions for social good.

    Since what is interesting about god, is that god would be bored with robots, but wants humans to think for themselves. Clearly, we would not want to live in a time past when women were burned as witches, well, maybe conservative men would love to go back to that time, and there are groups of men that actually argue this point believe it or not.

    Churches are institutions. Corporations are institutions, and most of the workers within most corporations don't agree with management either. So who gets the final say? I think that might be what the culture war is really all about in the end.

    Once upon a time there was a reformation, because one big monopolistic church got way out of hand. The problem was, once the monopoly was challenged, a lot of women's communities of god were destroyed in the process. The Renaissance, as we know it, was about men. The women's Renaissance was not synonymous.

    So churches are always vying for power and control over their congregants, and each congregation has its own forms of social control. Some more intrusive than others. No one large group of people is ever going to believe the same thing, even if they think they do. Maybe that's what causes a lot of the fuss.

  • Jon Trouten
  • Audrey

    I had been following this case off and on, and went to a lecture recently to hear about it from Lambda Legal. While this doesn't happen all the time in all hospitals, it really points to what officials can and will say if they are in an "anti-gay" state.

    One thing that I highly recommend, if you can do this, is to find out who the gay and lesbian employees are at your local hospital. That way, if something happens, you can call on them for extra support. I did this for my partner when she was in the hospital, and just having that extra person watching things from the inside made a huge difference.

    The cruelty to gay families is just unbelievable. There's going to be a lot to answer for in the end.

  • http://www.whywouldwe.org/http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.com/http://www.ucc.org/www.cathedralofho Jim F. Higy

    Thank you SO much for writing this! So Very write on EVERY Item, and from both Sides.

    Thank you again for voicing, what some cannot put into words, and from a Christian Male, who happens to be Gay, perspective,

    Sincerely,

    Jim F. Higy

  • http://www.whywouldwe.org/http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.com/http://www.ucc.org/www.cathedralofho Jim F. Higy
  • Bayah

    I think if Jon and his partner want to take up their crosses and follow Jesus, they can still live together as a family, but would need to stop having sex with each other and behave chastely. That’s the reality of the situation. You could introduce each other as “my former partner with whom I previously sinned, but with whom I am now simply best friends and co-parents.” You could teach your children that everybody makes mistakes but now you have come to know a better path. I wouldn’t think it’s good to destroy the bonds of friendship and love you have built up, but rather to improve upon them. It will involve sacrifice, but sacrifice has its own rewards.

    Audrey, Audrey, Audrey, we couldn’t disagree more with each other, but you are truly entertaining to read. Men are not the enemy. There’s no way on earth that 40% of women are lesbian. I guess 1% and those 1% recruit another 5% at college. Also, women have many, many opportunities to lead financial lives separate from men. But they choose to marry men because they LOVE them. Hard for a radical, feminist lesbian to wrap her head around, but it’s still true.

  • Bayah

    Jon, lest you think followers of Jesus load their censure only on gays, I would add that I recommend the same course of action to a heterosexual couple having sex outside of marriage, anybody fornicating (including senior citizens who have been widowed), lonely people masturbating, and perpetrators of incest, bestiality, prostitution, or anything that perverts God’s original design for sexuality. That is to say, stop sinning and save sex for its purpose, the unity of a woman and man united in matrimony, open to the gift of children.

  • Kevin

    Bayah – Could you expand a little on your theory as it relates to gays and lesbians “recruiting” others. Is sexuality so fluid that it can be altered or changed by one choice and/or experience that someone may have in college even after the individual has an established heterosexual identity? Do you know anyone personally that has been “recruited” by a gay or lesbian individual?

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    “I think if Jon and his partner want to take up their crosses and follow Jesus, they can still live together as a family, but would need to stop having sex with each other and behave chastely. That’s the reality of the situation. You could introduce each other as “my former partner with whom I previously sinned, but with whom I am now simply best friends and co-parents.” You could teach your children that everybody makes mistakes but now you have come to know a better path. I wouldn’t think it’s good to destroy the bonds of friendship and love you have built up, but rather to improve upon them. It will involve sacrifice, but sacrifice has its own rewards.”

    Bayah: Thanks for the thoughts. Actually, the reality of our situation is that Mark and I are husbands to each other and parents of our kids. We truly love each other and have committed our lives to each other. We have a church community and a place in Christ’s heart. We have and continue to make sacrifices in our lives for each other and for our kids. Our marriage is not a mistake.

    “Jon, lest you think followers of Jesus load their censure only on gays, I would add that I recommend the same course of action to a heterosexual couple having sex outside of marriage, anybody fornicating (including senior citizens who have been widowed), lonely people masturbating, and perpetrators of incest, bestiality, prostitution, or anything that perverts God’s original design for sexuality. That is to say, stop sinning and save sex for its purpose, the unity of a woman and man united in matrimony, open to the gift of children.”

    Bayah: I have yet to see any church community react with any of the uncompromising animosity showed to gay people to sexually active widows or adulterers (including those who’ve left their marriages and married their mistresses) or sexually active single hets. Prostitution, possibly. But that’s not the same of gay relationships. It’s an abusive, dangerous profession. Honestly, I’ve never heard the Christian church mention incest or bestiality except when speaking out against homosexuality.

    Mark and I have been and continue to be open to remaining united to each other and raising a good family. Just not in the same manner as you suggest.

  • Bayah

    Jon, thank you for your response. In what context could a Christian pull you aside, tell you you’re doing something wrong, and NOT be accused of animosity? The gay movement has come up with a language all its own to rationalize its position. But meditate on the words “animosity” and “hate” this week and ask yourself if you REALLY think that’s what people like me are feeling?

    Isn’t your form of Christian love just indulgence? Surely, as a parent, you must know that you have to correct your children’s behaviour, even when they’re protesting, “Daddy you don’t love me. Or else you’d let me stay up and watch my program.” But the truth is, you love him BECAUSE you won’t let him stay up and watch his program. Likewise, when Christians point out the error of a homosexually active lifestyle, they do so out of genuine concern for you.

    You see things your way and will not change. If you were my colleague, I’d probably enjoy your company a lot. But the point isn’t whether you’re acceptable to me, but whether your behaviour is acceptable and pleasing to God, particularly since you are looking for HIm. Otherwise the question of church attendance would be moot, I presume.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Bayah – I have seen many times where conservative believing folks are able to communicate their theological belief systems and the gay/lesbian person doesn’t look at them with any animosity. Such a situation is birthed in transparent authenticity from day one. I don’t look at such situations of ‘communicating belief’ as the end game. It’s a part of a real, raw, relationship. Whether or not the GLBT person agrees or disagrees is not the point. The point, from a straight Christian persepctive, is to faithfully live in relation to and relationship with; knowing what it means to love, learn and listen. This doesn’t mean that you can’t communicate what you believe, it just means you have to earn the right first – knowing you’re comitted to them no matter what and they’re committed to you no matter what. That’s what real realationships are all about; that is how we are all able to productively live in the tension of life and faith and sexuality. My thought is that faithfulness is the new evangelism and how you live your own life carry’s more weight than what you could say.

  • Bayah

    Kevin, thank you for your thoughtful reply. It’s harder to answer because it opens up a whole new kettle of fish. To respond properly, I’d have to expand on sexual identity ( a long subject) and whether it’s fluid or changeable. The success of Courage suggests it’s somewhat fluid. In the other direction, an earlier respondent such as ‘n process may have ended up in a homosexual relationship if his life circumstances had been amenable to it. (For instance, if he’d met an older male who introduced him to the culture, or if he had fallen for a particularly charismatic individual, or if he hadn’t met his wife, or a thousand other possibilities.)

    My theory is there are a large number of impressionable young people at college without any proper moral formation who when faced with daily pressures to 1) read posters about unusual lifestyles 2) think about sexual orientation even when they sign their i.d. cards or sign up for groups, or are assessed students’ union fees, 3) join lectures, parties, classes or groups where homosexuality is likely to be discussed or proffered, will open their minds to homosexuality as a possibility. Personally, I found the constant repetition of the homosexual agenda oppressive, not because I ever felt in the least tempted to it, but because it was a constant assault on the ears and eyes. I was ever so relieved to be rid of it once I graduated. I’m sure if I read literature about Christian marriage every day, and was constantly reminded of it by say, parents of certain ethnicities who’d want me to marry my cousin before my first bloom had faded, I’d find it equally burdensome.

    Also, I’d have to conduct surveys on colleges before and after people attend. Unfortunately people aren’t as easy to study as laboratory mice. They lie on questions that are close to their hearts. Many people who think they have homosexual proclivities at age eighteen- college entrance age- aren’t about to admit it. Graduates would never admit to being influenced by others once they’ve adopted a new homosexual identity, if they had started out with a heterosexual one. So my guess is just that, a guess. But I have some anecdotal evidence, and I have reason to believe people are influenced by advertising of any sort. At college, that advertising is relentless.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Bayah: “Isn’t your form of Christian love just indulgence?”

    And how exactly is that? I live essentially the same life as many Christian fathers, except that my spouse is my husband. My understanding and interpretation of scripture is obviously different than yours. I don’t believe that homosexuality is universally condemned by the Bible or Christianity. I honestly don’t. But I also don’t believe that gay people are also given a pass to endulge in any type of hedonistic behavior. Afterall, the Bible does speak out against certain homosexually sexual behaviors: rape and prostitution, for example.

    As for animosity focused on gay people from the pulpit… I recently offered to pop out clip after clip of examples of Christian sermons from Youtube expounding on homosexuality. I could do that here. I guarentee that you have never heard any pastor use that kind of imagery or verbage about adulterers or sexually active hets. Let me know if you want to take me up on this offer.

    Plus, I know of few sexually active hets who’ve had families encouraged by ministers to drop all ties with them. I’ve never heard of sexually active hets having their relationships made equivalent to abortion, bestiality, drug/alcohol abuse, child molestation, murder, or theft. I’ve never heard of married hets who’ve been encouraged to abandon their families in order to gain access to Christian Fellowship. I’ve never heard pastors or church members broadly accuse sexually active hets or adulterers of being victims of molestation or of being a risk to the children around them.

  • Bayah

    Jon: Afterall, the Bible does speak out against certain homosexually sexual behaviors: rape and prostitution, for example.

    How can you follow certain teachings in the Bible and not the admonishments against homosexual activity?

    I do not honor what you have as a marriage because marriage has been defined by Christ as between a man and a woman. For this reason, polygamy isn’t a proper marriage either. I have never heard the type of vitriol you speak of at my Church. I might as well “come out” as a Catholic and tell you that whenever people start making stuff up and calling themselves a Church, there is a problem. So, for instance, I consider the Anglican Church a mistake based on the sexual infidelity of King Henry VIII. The Anglicans shouldn’t be in the least surprised that they are having divisions over such issues as homosexuality, and female ordination, since they are founded on disunity in the first place. So, a lot of what is spoken at Christian churches will not be true, or good, or appropriate, unless it coincides with Christ’s teachings and His Holy Church.

    I hear pain in what you write, and I’m sorry you feel so misunderstood and abused. I don’t doubt that you love Mark and your children since love is possible between anybody. But what you do sexually is immoral.

    I could love a man who is married to another woman, for instance, but it still wouldn’t make sexual activity with him moral.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Bottom line, I’m not going to justify the legitimacy of my faith or my family. Enough.

  • Kevin

    Bayah – I do not mean to write to defend Jon as he obviously does not need my help and I have seen that he can intelligently communicate his thoughts, but I just briefly wanted to address some of the language that you used in your last post.

    “I do not honor the marriage that you have” and “But what you do is sexually immoral.”

    Now I think that blogs have the potential to foster productive communication, serve as a starting point for some with regards to reconciliation, and expose us to viewpoints that we may not encounter in our daily lives among other things. But your very strong statements also bring to mind some of the ways that blogs often seem to perpetuate unproductive communication. Communication like that seems more likely to happen on a blog than face to face as it is a more impersonal medium that enables individuals to express thoughts in a detached manner. On a blog we do not have to physically see or hear the pain or reactions that they can ellicit and individuals do not have to deal with the uncomfortable tension that results from the comment.
    My question is, would you say something that strong and black and white in person if you were hanging out with Jon as I’m guessing that the two of you do not know each? Maybe you would, I don’t know. And I might be falling into the same trap that I am talking about as I can not say for sure that I would say what I am currently saying without having a feel for what the environment would be like, although I hope that I would. I find myself falling into this temptation sometimes, so I wanted to bring it up on the chance that it is applicable here.

  • Bayah

    Also, to clarify, you have misread my question, “Isn’t your form of Christian love just indulgence?” To explain, you want me to indulge you by condoning your behaviours. If I do that, I’m gay-friendly. However, if I don’t condone your behaviours, I am accused of uncompromising animosity (as you wrote), homophobia, hate, or discrimination (as gays typically state). What I’m saying is, I can point out where you stray from Christ’s teachings without being accused of not loving you.

  • Bayah

    Kevin, neither your post, nor Jon’s appeared until I posted my last reply. I haven’t said anything unkind or different than I would in real life. I have told my best friend (who is gay) that his behaviour is wrong. And one and a half years ago, he finally agreed with me, and told me, of his own volition, that he was on the non-sinning path again. I have told close family members who were having sex outside of marriage that they should wait until they got married. Naturally, they didn’t appreciate that, but roads have been smoothed in our relationship once more. (They have since married.)

    It’s all well and good for Jon and gays to say what they believe, but if I do that I’m accused of strong language. Homosexuals are taking away our freedom of speech bit by bit. This is yet another example. You basically are not permitted to disagree with them in public.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Who has taken away your freedom of speech, Bayah? You’ve disagreed. It’s still there.

  • Bayah

    I have freedom of speech in that I’m anonymous. I would never dare to print my full name as you do, because it sets me up to A) lose my job and have no chance at many other jobs B) put me before a human rights commission at great expense to defend myself even if I win (we’re talking over $50 000 for defense against frivolous homosexual discrimination charges that are dropped) and thousands if I lose the case in penalties and court costs. If you really believe that our freedom of speech is unaffected by the homosexual movement, you seriously need to look at LifeSiteNews and type in homosexuality human rights commission in the search engine.

  • Kevin

    Fair enough. But no one is trying to take away your freedom to say what you would like. My main point was merely that trying to call out or correct someone that you do not know through a detached and rather impersonal electronic form of communication is probably not the best place to start when you do not have a history together and this is the first time that you have started communicating with one another. It is different when your lives become intertwined and the other person knows that you care deeply about them, hence the example with your friend and family that you cited. To be a little cliche, the saying “people do not care about what you think until they know how much you care” applies here as your family knows that you care about them so they will listen when you try to speak into their lives. The opposite is true when telling someone that you do not know that homosexuality is a sin. For the most part it can be assumed that you will be met with hostility or a negative response even if you are acting out of love if you tell this to someone who is gay that you do not personally know. Not only do most gay individuals hear you calling their relationship and sexual expression a sin, but many will also hear you calling their entire being into question because it is not only seen as a sexual expression but an inherent part of who they are as a person. I am not trying to get into the whole nature/nurture debate, but am just saying that this is the outlook of many in the gay community regardless of whether it is right or wrong. That is why I referred to it as “strong language” as it has the potential to be damaging to the other person, especially when you do not have a history with them that is rooted in unconditional love.

  • Kevin

    Bayah – My apologies for assuming that you had said some things that you might not have said in person. As you stated that you have “not said anything different than you would in real life” I will take you at your word that you would say the same thing to Jon if you just met him in person today. It’s a good lesson for me to not assume or come to a conclusion without sufficient facts to base it upon.

  • Iphimedia

    Bayah: I am sorry you feel so threatened in the world by people you regard as sinners. I would imagine it would feel terrible to feel so fearful all the time. I am a bisexual woman and I wonder if you see me as a woman who sins doubly so as my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. I also wonder if you feel as threatened by your awareness of your own sins, or of different kinds of sins you see around you, and feel the need or motivation to point them out in public or private to yourself or other. For example, if you see a relative putting down another family member viciously, do you say, “It is wrong to emotionally abuse or ridicule one another?” Do you monitor sins like this in yourself? Do you speak up when you see pending legislation that will leave children hungry or poor people without clothes, which I believe Jesus enjoined us to see as sinful? I’m just wondering what your motivation is behind pointing out specificially sexual sins to those around you, and if it is a religious or biblical reason, why stop with sexual sins, when sins against the poor, against hypocrisy by those in power, and the like, are so common as well. Jesus enjoined also to be humble, to be aware of not of our own righteousness (the parable of the righteous man and the sinful tax collector praying) and not to judge. How do these sentiments fit in with your policy of pointing out others’ sins aloud? Finally, the greatest commandment calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and so to me this means treating our neighbors, far and near, as we ourselves would like to be treated. Are you grateful to those in your family or strangers who might point out your sins of any kind aloud? Do you point out the wonderful and beautiful things that your family and friends do to and for you as well as their sins? Have you thanked your friends for being friends with you, as well as their sins?

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Iphimedia – Thank you for being so gracious in asking your questions. I think such discussions with Bayah and Jon are extremly important because they are a microcosum of broader societal disconnects. If we can do it here, learning how to engage in productive means, we can do it in person as well.

  • Bayah

    Hi Iphimedia,

    That’s a lot of questions. I don’t know if I should answer them one by one or just give you the gist of things. I don’t feel threatened by the fact that people sin because I’m a sinner like the rest of them. Jesus said the road is narrow and there will be few who enter His Kingdom. It’s true I fear for my soul, perhaps a bit more than most, but I’d fear a lot more if I chose the path of people who think God is just their buddy. Yes, He shows mercy, but He also embodies justice.

    We are supposed to pull people aside who sin and try to correct them. If that doesn’t work, we can ask a friend to help, and if after a third attempt with a priest, it’s alright to leave them to it and shake the dust off of our feet. (Can you help me find this passage by St. Paul? It’s late, and you might be able to help me.)

    When Jesus told us not to judge, he did not mean we can’t judge behaviours. How could we function without making judgements each day on what constitutes good or bad behaviour, much less teach our children? There would be little point in Jesus instructing us on how to live if we weren’t allowed to put His teachings in practice. And how can we do that without judging good from bad, privately and as part of a community? Matthew Chapter 7 can shed some light here. The point is not a prohibition against recognizing the sins of others but rather against passing judgement in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of one’s own faults.

    Nowadays, it’s considered bad behaviour to correct anybody.

    I always scan my days to see where I’ve failed. I ask God for His forgiveness, and then try to improve. In addition, I participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Now, to non-Catholics, I appear as a guilt-ridden neurotic. (Were those your thoughts? lol) But in the end, I don’t get judged by you. I get judged by God. Guilt has a definite purpose. You aren’t supposed to dwell on your guilt but rather use it to tell you to get a sin absolved. Once it’s absolved, you can perform penance but you should not dwell on that guilt ever again, nor would you be inclined to. If you go to Reconciliation often enough, you’d probably be LESS guilt-ridden than your non-Catholic friends. I have found that people who don’t believe in Catholic confession end up confessing to their buddies, online, on youtube, on television, and many other places with no confidentiality like you get with a priest.

    Whenever you see a trial in which the defendant doesn’t feel guilty or won’t admit his guilt, the media will point out that that’s a problem. They will label him or her a sociopath. So guilt is recognized to be a necessary thing when we’ve sinned. Unless it comes to sexual sins. Then guilt is supposed to be tossed out the window.

    Every sin is worthy of close examination, including the ones you mention. I worry about them all. I’m actually quite ineffectual but I keep trying to help those around me in a hundred ways before I get called home.

  • Paul

    Dear Jon and Bayah, its late, but I read all of your discussions and felt the need to briefly respond.

    I appreciate greatly both of what you have to say, because what you have discussed with each other are the two exact voices that I constantly battle with in my head every second of my life.

    Growing up in a strong loving Christian home with ssa all my life, I am still seeking answers and finding peace with my sexuality. Honestly, I appreciate Bayah’s words and I do believe he is spoken out of love and grace for people like me. I am 23 years old and currently dating a man that is pretty much an atheist. However, he is a man of love and holds high moral values and ethics. He respects my Christian beliefs and agrees to not have sex with me, as for right now, as I continue to seek answers and wisdoms from God and from loving people like you all.

    My college professor is open with his ssa feelings, but decided to get married with a woman and have 3 young daughters, because he believed it was the right thing to do as a follower of Christ. I looked up to him and asked him for guidance and prayer for my life during my college years. Because of his testimony, I also started to have desires to seek relationships with women. Soon after I graduated, I found out that he has left the school and his family to be with his boyfriend.

    This story saddens me greatly and I have great fear whether this is something that would ever happen to me. BUT, even if I continue to stay with my boyfriend and eventually get married with him, I still have doubts in my mind because I know what the Bible clearly says. I also have great fear that when the judgement day comes, I will find out that I have been led astray and have been so selfish because I’ve followed my own heart, not God’s.

    Let me ask my very own fellow gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, “If you really claim yourself to be a Christian, what’s the purpose of your life?” For me as a homosexual, I am continually growing to have the pure desire to glorify God everyday of my life. My ultimate goal in life is to please God and raise Him high, being fully satisfied while doing it.

    I have no idea where God will lead me in the future, being married to a woman? to a man? or even stay celibate and single until I meet my Heavenly Father face to face. Honestly, celibacy will be miserable, not going to lie, especially for someone like me. But it just might be God’s calling in my life, and I believe He is gracious and loving and will guide me to the way that He wants me to go, if I honestly turn to Him.

    The purpose for my comment is to encourage everyone of you who is reading this post and I do believe that we all have different lives that God has called us to live. Praying for all of you.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Thanks for sharing your story, Paul. Not sure if you’re asking for my two cents, but I’ll offer it anyway and you can do what you want with my advise.

    I question whether or not you should date anyone, male or female, until you get a clearer idea of what you’re moving towards. Dating’s an opportunity to find compatibility for the future. Do we share common interests? Is s/he a good person? Is s/he moral? Do we have similar goals? Can I see myself growing old with this person?

    I don’t know if it’s fair to your boyfriend or for a future girlfriend to get involved with someone who’s uneasy with the very nature of your relationship. I mean, what happens to your boyfriend if you ultimately decide that dating guys is wrong? What happens if you marry a woman like your old professor did and that ultimately doesn’t turn out because you’re gay?

    I guess, I’m suggesting that it might be a good thing to take a break on dating anyone until you’re less conflicted about your sexual orientation and your religious identity.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing!

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Paul – Jon just gave you the most level-headed advice you could ever get. You’re on a journey with you life and faith and sexuality; give it its due process. You need a space to seek God in relation to yourself and others, and however long that space deems, that’s perfectly ok. Much love…we’re here for you!

  • http://www.jennyrain.com Jenny

    Hi Jon

    Thanks for sharing your heart here. My dad is my biological dad. He has a partner of 32 years. I’m conservative Christian. How all that works, I’m not exactly sure – I just know I’m not ready to stop wrestling with it – because I believe that in our wrestling and attempts at bridge building is where we discover the most beautiful parts of who we are and who God is.

    This is what I know
    1 – I love my dad and his partner. They are part of my family.
    2 – I believe God does not make mistakes. Period (Psalm 18:30)
    3 – I believe God is sovereign over all things (that means my life and the life of my family and the life of the church)

    This is what I don’t know
    1 – How all of this is supposed to work together neatly :)

    I wrote about it on my blog. It is kind of neat to see a dad write about it too, so thanks :) I’ve met other kids of gay-male families talk about some of their experiences, but not dads.

    Thanks for sharing your heart…

    Jenny

  • anonymous

    jon,

    reading through your post, and the following questions and answers made me cry so hard… you’re so confident and heartfelt, and i can see that you love god and your husband very clearly. my very conservative parents tell me how wrong homosexuality is and i’ve heard the verses over and over (especially since they found out about my closet relationship), but something inside of me tells me that there is more to it… stories like yours keep me on the fence. it’s so hard to know what to believe.

    best wishes.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      Thanks for the very kind words, anonymous. Give it time and some patience. Your parents might be reacting so strongly now b/c your connection to the topic is relatively new to them and a bit frightening. Andrew can be a good resource. Also, check out GCN (gaychristian.net) to find other GLBT Christians. Some are like me and have families. Others accept being gay, but are sexually celibate b/c of personal religious beleifs. Others date. Lots of others are just trying to figure it all out. Both sites are good places to think about how you can be GLBT and Christian.


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