Pastors Disagree but Still Love

The following post was written by Nathan Albert, Director of Pastoral Care at The Marin Foundation.

I recently spoke at a conference on the east coast to just over 100 pastors about homosexuality and the Church.  All of these pastors have been in ministry for numerous years, some longer than I have been alive.  They also are all part of the same denomination, many went to seminary together, and they often come together for retreats.  On this occasion, the retreat focused on sexuality.

The denomination, to which these pastors belong, holds to a traditional view concerning homosexuality.  Yet, as I quickly learned, not all the pastors at this retreat agreed with the denominational stance.  This is a sticky situation for many- how does one publicly teach denominational stances yet still privately dissent?

And so during this week of lectures and Q&A sessions, I heard a lot of pastors openly and honestly express their concerns.  Some affirmed same-sex marriages; others maintained that homosexuality was a sin.  And yet through it all, everyone seemed to get a long.  I mean, for real.  Debates would occur in a session but around the dinner table laughs were had.

The women and men at this retreat agreed to disagree theologically.  They agree to voice their concerns and thoughts.  But they agreed to remain united and, more importantly, they agreed to love one another.

At one point a pastor got up and passionately made a point about his disagreement with certain theological beliefs in the denomination.  He mentioned when people often make their “theology” their pastoral response, they mess things up.  Then he went on to say, with tears in his eyes, how much he loves the other pastors that were in that room.  Another made the point that his call as a pastor meant he should be willing to die for another.  It seemed that their unity as a church community was more important than their theological beliefs about six passages of Scripture.

And so, lately I have been thinking about the utter importance of ecclesial unity.  The Gospel compels us to remain united.  The Gospel compels us to sit in pews with people who may vehemently disagree with us on particular theological issues and yet still be able to “pass the peace” and worship as one congregation.  That is the offensiveness of grace.   Just look at the book of Jonah for a lesson on offensive grace.  Churches cannot divide over this theological topic.  In my opinion, division is sinful.  It is more damaging to split over this topic than to remain united with differing opinions.  If churches divide, we are giving a watching world yet another reason why they should have nothing to do with Christianity.

The reason I work for The Marin Foundation is because I have so many close friends who are LGBT and sadly most of them want nothing to do with Jesus or the Church.  I have always loved the Church and I have always loved my gay friends.  And for years I could not figure out why it seemed the two could not go together.  I want nothing else than to be able to go to church with them.

But I’ve learned the Gospel compels me to more.  Not only am I to sit in pews with my gay friends whom I love dearly, but in the same pews, should be the people who call my loved ones “faggot.”

I don’t think I am at that place yet.  But I know that is what I am compelled to believe and hope to enact.  That’s reconciliation.  Jesus, after he was resurrected, went back to the people who murdered him and forgave them.  He essentially said “I still love you, I want to sit next to you in the pew.”

My hope is that even in our differing theological opinions, our pastoral response is always one of “let’s sit in this pew together.”

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 the award winning author of two books and a DVD curriculum, and his new book 86%: Groundbreaking Research on the LGBT Community and Religion, will release November 2015. 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. He is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland where he is researching and teaching at the University of St. Andrews, earning his PhD in Constructive Theology and Ethics. His research focuses on the theology and praxis of social reconciliation between victims and their perpetrators. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Jake

    “…their unity as a church community was more important than their theological beliefs about six passages of Scripture.”

    I totally understand this viewpoint as I currently attend a church that is moving toward full acceptance of its LGBT members. I have to say I disagree, though. This idea of “living in the tension” or focusing on unity or whatever is a great solution–if you’re straight.

    The bottom line is, that as a gay man, I still have to live my life. While my church can discuss and debate all they want, they still have teenagers who are part of the congregation hearing negative messages about their sexuality (from our church’s discussion) and adults of all ages living secretly in fear.

    Would we say that church unity in the 1960s was more important for any community than a church working actively to racially integrate its own leadership structure and bless inter-racial marriages? More importantly, would members of a church that decided to continue marginalizing racial minorities in the name of church unity not look back on that today with anything but disgust?

    As an evangelical I’m sad to say this, but evangelical Christianity is one of the strongest forces in continuing the marginalization and oppression of LGBT people that has gone on for hundreds of years. It’s a same that such marginalization should continue in the name of straight leadership not having to get their feathers ruffled. There comes a time when a quest for unity is really just an excuse to not have to put anything meaningful on the line for a minority group one doesn’t particularly care to fight for.

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

      Jake – Thanks for that comment. I have a few thoughts in response:

      1. I do believe that ‘living in the tension’ is important for LGBTs as well because it’s about productive cultural engagement that will make sustainable differences in the back-and-forths. You can’t build a bridge from one side. Though I do strongly agree that the impitus must be on straight folks to take it upon themselves first. It’s hard to say the corporate ‘abuser’ needs to be the one recieving the apology from the ‘abusee’.

      2. I think that unity needs to be defined. I agree with you that the quest for “unity” (e.g. You just agree with me) can sometimes be an excuse to not have to put anything meaningful on the line. But genuine unity (as Ela Joseph says: Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.) brings sustainable and faithful community.

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

    Good post, Nathan. Good comment also, Jake.

    My only real input (which admittedly is based on an assumption about the men and women at that retreat) is that it’s easy to debate an issue and then sit down and share the love when it’s just an “issue” and doesn’t really affect your personal life. Whether gays can marry, whether they can be ordained, whether they can worship, it doesn’t really matter to these folks. They have their families, their pastoral jobs, and their places of worship to return home to after the retreat without fear of any of that being debated or condemned by their peers.

    We GLBT would-be pew-sitters won’t enter these churches because church should be about worshipping God. Not debating whether we should be allowed to sit on those pews with the others. We have enough going on in our lives without getting stressed out over other Christians debating whether or not we should be accepted, tolerated, or turned away.

    • http://naytinalbert.blogspot.com Nathan

      Yes Jon!!

      “We GLBT would-be pew-sitters won’t enter these churches because church should be about worshipping God. Not debating whether we should be allowed to sit on those pews with the others. We have enough going on in our lives without getting stressed out over other Christians debating whether or not we should be accepted, tolerated, or turned away.”

      That puts words to what I have been wanting to say and hope I got across to these pastors. Thank you for that.

      Let me defend the pastors a little. Most know it’s not an “issue” but about people. That was clear through their dialogue. Most, if not all, that I talked to had LGBT people in their churches, were/had baptized children of LGBT couples, some even performed weddings, and I know many have gay siblings.

      It seemed that the point of the retreat was how to make changes to certain decisions made by the “big wigs” on top that don’t seem to be representative of individual churches and/or pastors.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Jon, I wonder if, in a room of 100 pastors, at least one or two of them have struggled with homosexuality. I think it quite possible, don’t you?

    As to this statement of Nathan’s: “It seemed that their unity as a church community was more important than their theological beliefs about six passages of Scripture,” I do have a request. I think it is fair to ask that we refrain from the over-simplifying condensation of the entire biblical message that would impact homosexuality to only “six verses.” It’s not a factual statement. And if we are taking to task, as we should, those who parrot other incorrect and oversimplifying messages about GLBTs without really giving them much thought, we ought to be willing to examine messages like this one, too.

    Fair enough?

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

      Like I wrote, I was going with an assumption. Then again, there’s also an assumption that all of those pastors at that conference who were debating the place of GLBT folks in the church truly walked away from the debate amicably. How do you think the one or two potential GLBT pastors feel about serving a denomination that officially condemns them? How do you think they feel when they go home to an empty home while their professional peers go home to be with their families?

      • Debbie Thurman

        “How do you think the one or two potential GLBT pastors feel about serving a denomination that officially condemns them? How do you think they feel when they go home to an empty home while their professional peers go home to be with their families?”

        Jon, again we’re only assuming. But if none of these are strugglers, others are. And it ought to go without saying, no matter our personal experiences or differences (you’re gay and I struggled and went another way), that no one who has to deal with being gay or having same-sex attractions — especially in the Church — has anything but a tough emotional road to travel. I could not possibly demean that. Been there, but not in an outwardly defiant way, seeking to swim against the current.

        Does their denomination (or any Church of Jesus Christ) really “condemn” them (as individuals made in God’s image)? Only Christians of a spirit other than that of Christ would attempt to do so. By the way, “attempt” is all they can do, really. None of us has the power to condemn. That is done in the spiritual realm. Aren’t guilt and condemnation Satan’s game? God does the judging of us all in the end. Jesus told us to “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

        Just because I throw hell into the equation (can any of us take it out?) does not mean I am waxing hateful or judgmental. It is what it is, and Jesus never minced words about eternity.

        Hard as it is to deal with loneliness or real or perceived discrimination, that is not what kills us. Life is hard (John 16:33), but Christ overcomes with us in it. This cannot be changed by any man-made edict or feeling. There is a time for soft love and a time for hard.

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

          How should the church address GLBT members? What is an example of “hard love” for a married gay father like myself for example, or a single lesbian, or a MTF transgendered individual who is looking for a place of worship?

          • Debbie Thurman

            Jon, what I am saying (please hear this) is that it is Jesus Christ who has to sometimes do the hard loving of us. Divine providence orders the events of our lives. We have to get out of the way and let God be God in a brother’s or sister’s life sometimes. And we have to give him dominion over our lives, as well. God doesn’t need other people trying to compete with his sovereignty. We can do much more harm than good in that way.

            Would it be OK, in your view, to hear someone say, “Jon, I am your brother/sister in Christ, and I cannot walk in your shoes. But I can love you unconditionally and pray for you, whether or not I understand or agree with what you are doing.” That love may take the form of being silent sometimes (so as not to interfere with God’s working in another’s life), while being on our knees at the same time in intercessory prayer.

            The Church belongs to Christ. We are subservient to him. Again, man-made rules or edicts are not necessarily going to serve his purpose. Church leadership may have to make some tough calls when they see sin in the body. They have Scriptural authority to do so. Nathan pointed out that denominations are divided over what sin is! God help us.

            One the one hand, we cruelly condemn people while on the other we just as cruelly try to let them off the hook. Have you read Revelation lately (Christ’s judgment of the seven archetypal churches)?

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

              Why would I have a problem praying for me? I pray with others every week.

              The question once again comes back to what’s sin. Is my family relationship sinful? What will the church leadership tell my son about his adoptive fathers? Will my family and I be allowed to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ or will be be distracted by constant debates over whether or not they’re encouraging sin?

              • Debbie Thurman

                I’m not sure why you asked that first question. It’s a non sequitur.

                The other questions have been asked through the ages, in one form or another. I presume you are asking God?

                Every sinner is welcome in the Church, according to its founder. What he does not welcome is continuing in sin while a part of the body. So it all hinges on your questions about whether or not you are sinning. And they are questions to take up with Christ and weigh according to the Scriptures.

                I have found it helpful to pray the end of Psalm 139. God has shown me hurtful things in myself and that His way is everlasting. I get to choose what to do about those hurtful things (hurtful to him, first and foremost).

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

                I’m not sure why you asked that first question. It’s a non sequitur. –> Would it be OK, in your view, to hear someone say, “Jon, I am your brother/sister in Christ, and I cannot walk in your shoes. But I can love you unconditionally and pray for you, whether or not I understand or agree with what you are doing.”

              • Debbie Thurman

                I said what I did because you seemed to answer a different question than the one I asked, as you spoke of praying for yourself and others. No matter. I was just trying to make the point that there are legitimate responses a person in the Church can make to a non-celibate gay person other than “I fully support all that you are doing” and not be deserving of wearing the label of homophobe for it.

              • Debbie Thurman

                On second thought, maybe there was just a typo in your other response?

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

                I don’t think I’ve called anyone a homophobe in this thread or any others on this blog or elsewhere.

                I do continue to question how the Church expects to reach out to gay people and our families, while at the same time dismissing the legitimacy and sanctity of our familes.

                My family is my family. Why wouldn’t the Church support it? What heterosexual family would remain in fellowship with a church that didn’t support it?

  • Ron Graves

    I love this dialogue, primarily because I live here. I am only slightly amused as Papa puts me in the very place where I get to put legs on my convictions, often resulting in me “eating my own words” when it comes to grace and reconciliation. These are matters of lifestyle more than some mental or linear application…for me I am reminded that its a process, our process. Not mine or yours, but ours. What I appreciate more and more is that when it comes to the heart of God, its exclusively inclusive…make us a channel of Your peace..

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

      “Slightly amuzed…” :) Preach that brother!

  • http://www.hillsideslide.blogspot.com TinaC

    I would add to Jon’s statement that, in addition to worship, I want community and a faith family; recognition as an equal partner in the Body of Christ.

    When, as a GLBT person, you have suddenly found yourself on the outside of the church family you grew up in through no choice or change on your part, it’s shattering. When your loved one or your family is demeaned, denegrated and judged as less than; when those who say the worst things are also fellow Christians who don’t even want to hear how their words, actions & attitudes hurt you & disfigure the Body of Christ, it’s tough to worship together.

    I believe we are supposed to. But It. Is. Tough.

    • http://naytinalbert.blogspot.com Nathan

      Thank you for this honesty Tina. I need to be reminded of your words more often. Thanks!

  • http://kimaliczi.blogspot.com Kim Aliczi

    I was in that room during the first morning session, I was part of the team leading worship, but had to leave before lunchtime. I was so glad that the pastors in the denomination to which I belong (The Evangelical Covenant Church) were finally discussing sexuality and the bible. This is a big step folks – maybe too late for some of you, but it’s a step nonetheless. Nathan, I wish I could have stayed to hear you speak, but I did pray for you and for that entire retreat for all three days. My pastor was there, and I’m looking forward to having a conversation with him about whether or not my home church will or will not welcome our homosexual neighbors. Wow, and to think the big issue not too long ago was whether or not women could/should be ordained or even serve in leadership roles. We’ve come a long way!

  • Eugene

    “This is a sticky situation for many – how does one publicly teach denominational stances yet still privately dissent?”

    That’s the problem with organized religion in general, isn’t it? Why are “denominational stances” necessary, anyway?

    “Some affirmed same-sex marriages; others maintained that homosexuality was a sin. And yet through it all, everyone seemed to get a long. I mean, for real. Debates would occur in a session but around the dinner table laughs were had.”

    What you see here is love and unity. What I see here is contempt towards gay people. If someone called your wife a whore to her face, would you still be getting along and having laughs with this person?

    When Christians are so unwilling to stand up for gay people, why would gay people want anything “to do with Jesus or the Church”? Why? If you care about “a watching world”, Nathan, why are you so happy about the fact that gay people are unimportant to Christians? You easily say that “division is sinful”. Why can’t you say the same about Christian homophobia? It’s just “six passages of Scripture” to you – but at least one of them says – or doesn’t say – that gay people must have been killed. Killed. But, hey, let’s have a laugh… :(

    • http://naytinalbert.blogspot.com Nathan

      Eugene,

      I think you’re unfairly putting words into my mouth. I am NOT happy that gay people are unimportant to many Christians. That’s the whole reason I do what I do! That is why I gave up my career as an actor, entered seminary, and now work for this foundation. Second, I do think that Christian homophobia is awful. Again, I daily try to end Christian homophobia. That is why I went to this conference with pastors! That is one of the key visions of The Marin Foundation.

      It’s not just “six passages” to me. But most people seemed to be stuck simply on these texts. They take six passages and make this whole debate an “issue” and an exegetical debacle. Christian faith is more than that. I try to show LGBT people and anyone else that God is a God of Grace. Extreme grace. Offensive grace.

      And when it comes to your comment about Leviticus, you’re right about it. It does say that, but thankfully, it is not practice (mind Uganda it seems :( ) But most biblical scholars will show that taking a literal reading of these texts is harmful. Proof-texting is dangerous. That is why there is interpretation, translation, exegetical work, cultural and historical contexts.

      And if someone called my future wife a whore, I would rightly be upset. But for me, Christianity calls me to reconciliation. Would I seek reconciliation? Yes. Would it be hard? Yes. May it not even happen? Yes. Non-Christians don’t need to worry about reconciliation in the same way, it may not be a belief they think worth fighting for. However, I do. Finally, no one I know at this retreat showed outright contempt for the LGBT community. Maybe I have not represented the event well enough for a blog post. If so, I apologize for that. The whole weekend was handle better than I had expected and that is what I found so meaningful.

      • Eugene

        I apologize for putting words in your mouth. I was just trying to convey how your post sounded to me.

        And I’m not against reconciliation. But the point is that “let’s agree to disagree and have a laugh” is not reconciliation – especially when the churches keep enforcing anti-gay stances instead of agreeing to disagree within the church. You said, “If churches divide, we are giving a watching world yet another reason why they should have nothing to do with Christianity.” But if churches keep enforcing anti-gay beliefs, won’t they give a watching world an even better reason to dislike Christianity?

        “Finally, no one I know at this retreat showed outright contempt for the LGBT community. Maybe I have not represented the event well enough for a blog post.”

        No, I think you’re just a little too comfortable with the idea that homosexuality is a sin.

  • One of many

    Someday, I hope the Evangelical Covenant Church once again becomes a place where I (and other gay people) can feel safe. But I suspect that day is long in coming. When a denomination that hadn’t passed a binding resolution since 1960 decides (in 2008) that they need to formalize my unwelcome status as an openly gay person, then I hope they’re not shocked when I no longer feel welcome in their pews.

    On the other hand, I’m glad the ECC is having these kinds of conversations and doing so in a way that seeks to keep the body together, rather than produce bitter debates. I just wish they could speed up the process.

  • Sarah Guiardino

    My bottom line is simple: I don’t hang out with people who call blacks names and are racist. I don’t hang out with sexist men. I don’t waste time with people who ever call people “fags” “bitches” “whores” “________” fill in your favorite word. All people who do these things are deal breakers.
    Out of that group of 100 pastors, several are closet cases using women in fake marriages, and every year more of these guys are outed.
    I don’t the people who call gays sinners to pray for me, or eat in my home, or have anything to do with me. Be honest when you meet gay people, just tell them up front that you believe that gayness is a sin, and that you believe this as a straight person, be honest and upfront. Watch that gay person move on.

  • Sam

    While I think it is a positive note that this apparently very conservative group is at least talking about the issue, I also think that I will be long dead from old age before this group and many others make no distinctions between LGBT individuals and others in the group. So, as some others do, I choose not to be part of any group that does not afford full equality to LGBT individuals.

    Some seem to have their personal reasons for being part of such groups, but I choose not to attend, not to give them money and not to support them in any way. I think these groups have really missed the boat on this issue, and often use and “interpret” (even translate) the Bible in a manner that will support their preconceived ideas, even though they will argue until they are blue in the face that they are only following what (their interpretation of) the Bible says. I am old enough to remember sitting in church and hearing that the Bible was definitely against inter-racial marriage. Apparently those verses have been removed from the Bible in the past fifty years.

    This too shall change, but how long will it take?

    • Eugene

      I’m afraid it will take forever.

      Anti-gay verses in the Bible are more problematic than the verses that have been used against black people and interracial marriage, so their intellectually honest interpretation actually can lead to anti-gay stances. More importantly, church unity, celebrated by Nathan, creates the impression that conservative Christianity is a uniformly anti-gay force. That’s why gay people, gay-friendly people and families with gay relatives will be leaving conservative churches. As a result, people with anti-gay views will always be in the majority in conservative churches, reinforcing the anti-gay stances. For example, the Pope is now saying that even celibate gay men cannot be priests. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2010/dec/03/religion-catholicism-benedict-gay-priests)

      That’s why it seems to me that conservative Christianity will simply be shrinking and sinking. When they will be ready for a compromise, it will be too late. Ten years ago, their support for civil unions would have been a major breakthrough. Today it would look good, but not great. In ten or twenty years, only marriage equality will be acceptable. So how can conservative Christianity get out of this spiral?

      • Debbie Thurman

        Hmmm. That last paragraph’s “mighty big words,” Eugene. A Mighty Big God is going to decide all that. If the Church is in a spiral (i.e., the Church Age is winding down as it has to some day, according to biblical prophecy), there are many reasons for it. Gays may be flattering themselves in believing they represent the chief one. This debate does represent something big, to be sure. Not sure any of us really has a full grasp on just what.

        I see this time as an opportunity for us all. Redemption is still valid. Truth is still truth. Hypocrisy is still hypocrisy. Time will sort it all out.

        • Eugene

          Debbie, I’m not implying that gays are the chief reason for the decline of Christianity – I didn’t even consider other reasons as they have nothing to do with Nathan’s post. But I do believe that it’s easy to underestimate the invisible minority that had been so hurt and broken that they had been living a lie and tolerating all kinds of abuse. Things are changing now, and gay people are coming out earlier and earlier, retaining more and more self-respect. And they all have straight parents and friends evenly scattered across the entire society. That’s why this conflict can affect conservative Christianity in a way that almost nothing else can.

          And, yes, this time is an opportunity for us all. For example, gay people are fighting for the right to serve in the military. They’re about to get civil union rights in – of all the places – Illinois. They need help. But, apparently, what matters is that conservative pastors love themselves…

          • Debbie Thurman

            If we love God with everything we’ve got, love others as we love ourselves, it’s got to come out right. It will to the extent that we can do that.

            By the way, gays can and do serve honorably in the military, as we’ve discussed before. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the status quo changes on their being allowed to serve openly. Time is on that side.

            • Eugene

              “By the way, gays can and do serve honorably in the military, as we’ve discussed before.”

              There’s nothing honorable about having to live a lie. It’s a very depressing and vulnerable position. If you can describe this situation as “gays can and do serve honorably in the military”… well, it tells me a lot about you.

              “I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the status quo changes on their being allowed to serve openly. Time is on that side.”

              Oh, I know that time is on that side. The point is that conservative Christianity isn’t on that side.

              Decriminalization of homosexuality? Thanks for nothing, conservative churches.
              Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? Thanks for nothing, conservative churches.
              Civil marriage equality? Thanks for nothing, conservative churches.

              Is it any wonder that gay people don’t feel the love and “want nothing to do with Jesus or the Church”? Conservative Christians are missing yet another opportunity to jump on the bandwagon.

              • Debbie Thurman

                Eugene, I fail to see why being open about one’s sexuality makes their service to their country more honorable. Service is service. It subjugates every personal desire. That is true whether one is serving God or country.

                The UCMJ classifies all sexual activity outside of marriage conduct unbecoming and prejudicial to good order and discipline, the hypocrisy of what actually goes on aside. What actually goes on is of both the gay and straight variety.

                Just today, I read in “USA Weekend” a story that points out (from CDC data) that one in five cases of HIV infections are from men having sex with men. Syphilis and other STD rates have climbed perilously in that demographic, as well. That should give us all pause. I can assure you it is of great concern to military leaders. Bisexual men have the potential for spreading HIV/AIDS far beyond what we want to see.

                As for “jumping on the bandwagon”? The Church is the last institution that should be doing that in any way, shape or form. The world jumps on the bandwagon. The Church is to be in but not of the world.

                If gays believe God is on their side (that He approves of homosexuality), then why covet the conservative church’s support so much? Is it really that powerful?

              • Jack Harris

                Debbie,

                As a gay man who has found the love of Christ in a gay affirming church, I discounted conservative Christianity LONG time ago. By the way I find a lot of what you say on offensive. You say things on the surface to be opening and affirming but if you read more closely you represent the ugly underbelly of conservative Christianity. Thank God for men like Nathan and Andrew–they are making a bold effort to try to change the thoughts, words and action of people like you.

              • Debbie Thurman

                Jack, you are entitled to feel that way. I assure you I take no delight in saying anything another finds offensive. I also assure you I have known no offense as harsh as that of standing spiritually naked before my Lord as He crushes my sin nature and presses me into wine. Sometimes He has to crush the whine out of me first.

                It would be lovely if we could simplify the issues here so that no one would ever feel offended. Obviously life isn’t like that. Frankly, I don’t believe we will ever find a true middle ground in discussing homosexuality and the Church.

                I took the time yesterday to read an exceptional commentary on the first three chapters of Revelation. I was reminded that the Protestant Reformation, necessary as it may have been, still led to many denominational differences in theological views. We know the Church is called by Christ to be a unified body. But look at John’s prophetic letter to the churches (actual historic churches in Asia Minor as well as being symbolic of both the historic progression of the Church Age and of local churches today). If we cannot clearly interpret what Christ meant (there is a school of general consensus about Revelation, but still much disagreement) in his rebukes, commendations, exhortations and prophetic promises to the churches, where does that leave us today?

                Eugene sums it up in his comment below: “So what should churches do about it? How can they use “love” and “unity” to resolve this conflict?”

                No loving God would make His truth so obscure as to do harm to His children. This is about eternity, and it is no cosmic joke. The one who obscures is not God, but the Father of Lies, the one who sought to be like God, and tempts many others to follow him to destruction. I cannot help but believe that all those who sincerely seek Christ will know the truth in this life. All will know it in the next.

              • Eugene

                “Frankly, I don’t believe we will ever find a true middle ground in discussing homosexuality and the Church.”

                Does it mean that we should focus on homosexuality and “the world”? When you said, “The Church is to be in but not of the world”, I immediately thought of Prop 8, DADT and other “worldly” aspects of this conflict. Is there anything Biblical about them? Or should conservative Christians “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and let gay people be?

              • Eugene

                “Eugene, I fail to see why being open about one’s sexuality makes their service to their country more honorable.”

                It makes their service more honorable because it’s a matter of honesty and integrity. As you have noted, “The UCMJ classifies all sexual activity outside of marriage conduct unbecoming and prejudicial to good order and discipline” – even though it has nothing to do with service itself. They aren’t having sex in foxholes, are they? :) But it’s still inappropriate. It’s equally inappropriate for gay soldiers to lie and live a double life. Straight soldiers don’t have to lie about their spouses – even though you say that service “subjugates every personal desire”.

                “Just today, I read in “USA Weekend” a story that points out… that one in five cases of HIV infections are from men having sex with men.”

                And that’s exactly why DADT is harmful. If a soldier gets HIV, he can’t tell the doctor about his sex partner(s) without getting discharged. Or have you forgotten that gay soldiers are already in the military? More importantly, if you actually care about this issue, you should be supporting lifelong, monogamous gay marriage. Unfortunately, conservative Christians tend to use this data only to condemn and ostracize gay people and the mythical “homosexual lifestyle” (even though not all “men having sex with men” are gay, and many gay men want to get married).

                “If gays believe God is on their side (that He approves of homosexuality), then why covet the conservative church’s support so much? Is it really that powerful?”

                At this point, it actually is powerful – especially in some regions and demographics. Of course, eventually gay people and their allies will achieve equality even without the conservative church. But it will be a bad thing for both sides – they will be wasting time and money, and the conservative church will have a very bad reputation.

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

                Are HIV positive people (gay or straight) even allowed to serve in the military?

                Is there benefit to having soliders and officers receive love and support from their family and significant others back home? I would argue that there is. If so, is there benefit to having gay and lesbian soliders and officers fearful of receiving any love or support from their family and significant others from back at home for risk of losing their careers?

                Just a thought before I go to watch the UI Women’s Basketball game.

              • Debbie Thurman

                HIV-positive people are not allowed to enlist, but may remain on active duty if they contract an infection while serving, with some restrictions. They can’t deploy overseas. for instance. STDs are already higher in the military than among civilians, and other STDs are often a co-factor in HIV infections. It’s a valid concern in the DADT debate.

                This side discussion is not really part of the original post, and I am sorry I responded to the earlier comment about it.

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

                One last on the Church jumping on or off the bandwagon. It’s already jumping. Chaplain groups are already complaining that they won’t be able to preach against homosexuality and express their relgiious views if gays and lesbians can serve openly in the military. How do they cope when presented with soldiers and officers who belong to other religions or denominations, or no religion?

  • Sam

    We agree, Eugene. This comment is just further reflections on Bible verses that have been used against black people and interracial marriage, and those that have and are currently being used against LGBTs.

    When I was young and sat in church listening to sermons against interracial marriage, those preaching and teaching on this topic had a fervor and sureness about what they were saying, which they said was based on the Bible, that reminds me very much of the rhetoric I hear from the anti-gay conservative camp today. I assumed that they knew what they were talking about and they even claimed they were speaking for God. I thought God was very strange.

    I grew older, discovered an interest in languages, including the languages used in writing the Bible, and discovered that these preachers were largely relatively uneducated people who were using the Bible to support their own prejudices. What a revelation!

    What has changed? – I’m sure all of these old preachers are dead, but their legacy is carried on by a new crop of preachers and teachers who have at least as much certainty about what the Bible has to say on the “anti-gay passages” (and certain other passages that they are certain support other of their favorite prejudices, such as those regarding women). Isn’t it interesting that God continues to give additional revelation to modern English translators as they translate these passages?

    Translation always involves interpretation. It is rarely as easy as translating the word “apple” into another language, a language spoken by a people who are familiar with apples, apples which are very similar to our apples. Translating from ancient writings, however, is even trickier. Even if a language is still written and spoken, and a word that we are translating from an ancient text is still a common word in that language, a careful translator will do their homework to make sure the meaning has not evolved over the centuries.

    When we turn to ancient languages that are no longer spoken and written, and have limited examples of the usage and meanings of many of the words, translation becomes more and more interpretation. Why is the NIV being updated and revised? – Because some of the translations were poor, or more recent evidence from ancient writings have further illuminated the meanings of some words.

    I find it most interesting/amusing (which is my tongue-in-cheek way of saying sad and regrettable) that many conservative people who label themselves Christians are quick to point out what certain English translations of several verses have to say about a group that they are sure are sinners (and much worse sinners than they), LGBT individuals. These same people have rarely, if ever, done any research on the languages in which these verses were written, how the original readers understood them and numerous other significant questions that should be answered to one’s satisfaction before one would use them to vilify an entire segment of the population.

    Additionally, these same people, who wish to push their English translations of these particular verses to the limit, seem to almost totally overlook huge chunks of the Bible that have many things to say about our responsibility to the poor, gluttony, adultery and so on.

    In discussion with a group who have made their stance crystal clear on what they understand the Bible to say on “hundreds” of verses (including “many” things Jesus said that talk about the sin of homosexuality???), I discovered the following revelations about the Bible:

    -The Bible is clear on the issue of homosexuality. If we love gay people, we will tell them what the Bible says. It’s up to them to repent, but they won’t do it.
    -The Bible does include several passages(apparently their translation has several, whereas mine has hundreds, if not thousands) about the poor, but these apply only to those who God has “called” to help the poor. There are too many poor people in the world to really make a dent in the problem.
    -Most obesity is caused by heredity and gland problems, not gluttony, Just off hand, they can’t think of anyone they know who is a glutton, even the people we all saw eat eight to ten pieces of pie at a church event we all attended a few years ago.
    -It’s bad taste to talk about men who cheat on their wives, people who live with their boyfriend or girlfriend (opposite gender) without the benefit of marriage
    -It’s a bad idea to say anything about people’s young adult children who live with their opposite gender boyfriend or girlfriend. We wouldn’t want to offend the parents, who might leave the church and that would impact the giving, and we might lose some of our elders and deacons.
    -The Bible is clear on what it has to say about gay people, but is o.k. for them to lead music as long as we all pretend they’re not gay, and they keep quiet on the topic and don’t bring their gay friends to church with them.

    I know that many people understand that certain verses in the Bible are problematic for gay people. On the other hand, I’ve heard that said about other verses in the past, that now we understood differently. Of course, I’m sure that is a reflection on our “relativistic” Christianity. Obviously that is why so many verses in the Bible that appear very clear in their meaning (such as those dealing with the poor, gluttony, etc.) don’t really apply to us, but are either out-dated or meant for someone else. And – who can possibly know what Jesus possibly meant when He told us to love our neighbor and not to judge. The meaning has obviously been obscured by the mists of time.

    • Eugene

      Sam, I think you’re taking this a little too far.

      Some of the anti-gay verses in the Bible are surely clearer than the verses that have been used against black people. It’s hard to mistranslate the words “man”, “woman” and “lay”. Yes, some of them are more ambiguous because of different interpretations – but that’s exactly why conservative Christians are clinging to church traditions. More importantly, the anti-gay verses are clearer than the pro-gay verses (?). Finally, the fact that some Christians overlook huge chunks of the Bible certainly doesn’t mean that they’re wrong about homosexuality – especially considering that people who live with their opposite-gender boyfriend/girlfriend may be on their way to (heterosexual) marriage.

      The question is, how should conservative churches handle this issue? Nathan’s answer is “unity” – even when this unity is anti-gay in nature. In a way, it makes sense – it’s more difficult to hate gay and pro-gay people when you know them personally. But there are many drawbacks, and I have already mentioned them.
      The second option is “division” – but it may be too traumatic and not very efficient. The third option is “pluralism”. Pastors will be allowed to marry gay couples, but anti-gay pastors won’t be forced to do it. But will conservative Christians tolerate this? And will it be good enough for gay and pro-gay people?

      • Sam

        Whether or not the Bible is actually “anti-gay” is not an open and closed case in my opinion, but I doubt we are going to resolve that issue here.

        However – Many of us have a problem with someone who pulls several verses from their English translation of the Bible, almost always with no contextual references (“proof-texting” ), and uses those verses to clobber another person or group. In this case, it is “Here’s what the Bible says. You need to repent.” (Usually they think you need to “choose” to be straight and revoke your “choice” to be gay). “If you don’t, you’re going to hell. You’re an abomination.”

        If one does not follow this formula according to these people, one is going to hell because one is not obeying what the Bible says. On the other hand, the people who spout this stuff are (almost) always visibly not following other things the Bible (clearly) says. Instead of six passages that appear to speak to their issues, there are dozens, sometimes hundreds. Somehow, however, they think these Bible verses don’t apply to them, or somehow “grace” covers them, but not LGBT people.

        Didn’t Jesus say if you love me you will keep my commands? He didn’t say to keep only His commands regarding gay people. He didn’t limit it to that. He means all of His commands. (Oops, my bad. I can’t seem to find anything Jesus said that was specifically directed to the LGBT community, unless it was Mt 19:12 – which some think refers to (or at least includes) what we would now call homosexual individuals – where Jesus says “they were born that way”).

        • Eugene

          You’re making very good points about hypocrisy, discretion and ambiguity. However, when it comes to denominational stances, things are necessarily simpler: for example, gay marriage is either allowed or disallowed. So the question is, how should churches translate the ambiguity and disagreement into denominational stances?

          You keep saying that you have a problem with Christians who think that many Bible verses don’t apply to them but use the Bible to “clobber” gay people. What does it have to do with anything? If they start treating everyone like they treat gay people, will it make you feel better about the way they treat gay people? :) Their hypocrisy simply cannot be a good justification for the kind of equality you actually want.

          And, yes, nothing Jesus says in the Bible is specifically directed to LGBT people. The passages about “eunuchs” can be interpreted in wildly different ways: from implicit support of gay marriage to the notion that non-straight people should act like eunuchs. That’s exactly why it isn’t easy for conservative Christians to have pro-gay views. They can “love” gay people and, at the same time, honestly believe that homosexuality is a sin. So what should churches do about it? How can they use “love” and “unity” to resolve this conflict?

          • Sam

            Dialogue with the conservative Christians with whom I am acquainted almost always begins with their statements that one must believe the Bible and live by what it says to be a Christian. This means that anyone who thinks they might be gay must repent and choose to stop being gay, based on several “clobber” passages of Scripture. If one does not do this, the only alternative is hell. End of discussion.

            However, these same people almost always appear to be ignoring lots of Scripture that applies to them and their issues. But somehow they reason that is o.k. I think this amounts to “Do what I say, not what I do”.

            If they say they are a Christian, I don’t doubt or question them. I figure that is between them and God. But as you know, many of these people doubt, question and want to debate (really, they want to grind on the same few verses and ignore everything else) everyone who does not agree with them. If these people “start treating everyone like they treat gay people”, their churches will be empty.

            I admire Andrew and others who are trying to open dialogue between these two communities. Many of us just avoid these people because we find that so many of them don’t want dialogue. They’re right and everyone else is wrong.

            I’m not part of a denomination. If one chooses that route, apparently one is expected to go along with the company policy or depart, which is a good reason not to be part of such an organization. Apparently, those who are must have some reason???

            • Debbie Thurman

              “I’m not part of a denomination. If one chooses that route, apparently one is expected to go along with the company policy or depart, which is a good reason not to be part of such an organization. Apparently, those who are must have some reason???”

              I guess it’s rather like being a citizen and exercising your right to vote (participate in your own governing). You don’t have to wear a political label or affiliate with a party to do so. But you are given the choice of voting for one who does.

              The body of Christ can’t all assemble together the world over, so it gathers in many different churches. And those churches, divided into doctrinal groups, reflect the diversity of the people who have planted them. Not all of the things they disagree on are worthy of disagreement. Some are. Humans are a contrarian lot, aren’t we?

              Christ has been mighty patient with us. There is an end coming to that, of course: “‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’” (spoken seven times in Revelation 2 and 3).

              While any “company” would need organization and policies, without which it could not survive, churches need some semblance of organization, as well. They are not businesses, of course. They are much more. And those who serve in the body of Christ are called to do so, regardless of talent or drive.

              I live for and serve Christ, and not the denomination my church happens to be part of.

  • Amanda Hayman

    You mean lying in order to stay in the military is honorable? That there isn’t a huge witch hunt, and that thousands of gays and lesbians haven’t been dishonorably discharged from the militiary?
    So let’s see, you’re supposed to pretend you’re straight to stay in the army, you’re supposed to lie all the time, and this is “honor”– I call that absolute sickness and hypocracy is what I call it.
    Conservative churches will be loaded with homophobes till the cows come in. That’s just who they are. The people I worry about the most are the gay kids, the kids age 8 or so who were born into those conservative gay hating churches. The kids are listening to those hate filled sermons just as they are realizing who they are. Talk about subjecting kids to terrorism, a very evil incideous kind of terror that is so callous, so shameful, so … That is the danger of the gay hating church, and they are mega legion etc.
    Gay adults can just walk out of those places forever, and avoid the sanctimonious terrorists, but kids, well those places are doing such psychological harm it is beyond belief. DADT — serving honorably as a gay person, wow… what kind of logic fail is that? Must be something in the conservative christian brain…

  • Ron Graves

    As I read thru this ongoing dialogue, I find myself asking if these conversations are taking any of us where we intend…(hopefully the heart of God); honest, at the risk of deflating or impeding this dialogue, we may all be “right”. The problem is, loving others where they’re at while they’re there until they are then somewhere else is all we’ve been asked to do. The question I pose to myself is this, are my conversations revealing Papa’s heart or my best version of Him? Do these conversations accentuate our differences or fill them with Him?…God has assured me everytime out that I am not the detail guy and that maybe if I am going to pursue Him , that I probably ought to get His love for me down pat before I start taking on the greater details of His truth… Little by little, a step at a time. Bottom line is this, the Cross dictates (without our permission) that we ALL matter…this is the lifestyle I am pursuing. You are welcome to disagree, you are welcome to believe different, you are welcome to whatever your process entails; I will still be around to say ( with and without words) that you matter.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Eugene, this is in response to your 11:43 a.m. comment from today. We ran out of room in the reply thread.

    You asked (in reference to my never finding common ground comment), “Does it mean that we should focus on homosexuality and “the world”? When you said, “The Church is to be in but not of the world”, I immediately thought of Prop 8, DADT and other “worldly” aspects of this conflict. Is there anything Biblical about them? Or should conservative Christians “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and let gay people be?”

    That’s also been one of those sticky points. I have wrestled with it, as have many people. I did find some insight in a book I recently read, “City of Man: Religion and Politics in New Era,” by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner. They speak of how Christians are citizens of both the heavenly kingdom (City of God) and the world, (City of Man) — cf. St. Augustine. We necessarily move through both in this life, so we “render to Caesar” and “to God.” How we do that is a matter of conscience for each individual. I believe we do it with the utmost care and consideration for Scriptural authority. It is not something we do off-handedly.

  • Ashlie Mauldin

    As children of God, he asks that we LOVE one another, JUST LOVE people, RIGHT where they are at. What most people do not understand is that being GAY, yes I know you have heard it before, but it is nowhere near any type of choice. I used to feel so torn, feeling and knowing that I can live as holy and christ-like as possible but at the end of the day I will still ALWAYS be gay. Being 100 percent sure that God created me this way, was such a confusion in itself, it was always my question to God, without truely baring the ability to form the words. I Love God with all of my heart and soul and recently I found a first Assembly Of God church that practices pure christ-like Love. Since they allowed me to feel comfortable for who I am in the church I have been attending and it has been so powerful. This pastor spends a lot of time with God and he is very obedient when it comes to anything God has placed on his heart. After only attending twice, during a worship session where I was completely baptized in the Holy Spirit, the pastor began to speak, “God is telling me there is someone here tonight that needs to know that god Loves them and he wants to RESTORE your IDENTITY, that he loves you for WHO you are…” He spoke so many other worlds and I knew God was speaking to ME, the pastor didn’t ask anyone to come down and my eyes were still closed worshipping when I hear him say, “I want to pray for someone here tonight with stomach issues.” I went running up, I have had stomach issues my whole life and was recently diagnosed with a hiatal hernia! As I approached the pastor, tears running down my face, noone else had even budged, and he looked right at me posessing no suprise, as I was surrounded by praying hands he began saying, “I know you know this but…” I interrupted crying, “you were talking about me.” He said yes and began, “God wants you to know he CREATED you THIS WAY, that you are beautiful and he doesn’t make MISTAKES, he knows you’ve been hurt before by the church and he just wants to fill that void and pain tonight..he wants you to know that he SEES your Love and Passion for him..he wants to RESTORE (not change) your identity.” and so much more, ALL giving the SAME message, GOD ACCEPTS AND LOVES ME FOR BEING GAY AND HE MADE ME THIS WAY. I can still hear the pastor saying HOW POWERFUL IS GOD THAT HE WOULD STOP A WHOLE SERVICE JUST TO GIVE ONE PERSON A MESSAGE? This pastor has no idea what the message was about but it is clear as day for me. Since God cleared that up for me, I never have to worry about what anyone else ever says. I am on fire for him! I used to Love him, NOW I live FOR him. So many churches forget and underestimate the power of RAW UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. My heart aches for every Gay person who feels so judged that they won’t even step foot into an environment or possible experience like this WITH God’s pure Love. Last week, after a powerful prayer that lead to arches in my feet, I was asked if someone else could pray with me and they had a word, “you are not a mistake, God wants to do things not for people through you but WITH you…” and the biggest of all, “you have an inheritance in HEAVEN!” I fell to my knees, this person knew nothing about me. I am sharing because I want people to know that God LOVES us, Gay, straight, ALL the same and he wants one thing, LOVE. I am extremely Gay, and so READY to touch and change so many lives through CHRIST. We need more churches like this one. I hope that we can all come together in ONE unity, God’s Love.

  • ChrisZ

    Do we forsake truth for love, for unity, because if we do, our love, our unity is no longer true? Do we want people that share our pews to love us without telling us the truth? I would rather be divided by the truth than united by the lie.

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

      What’s the lie?

      • ChrisZ

        Jon,
        My question is all encompassing, irrespective of subject matter. Do you agree or do you find my question true/false RELATIVE to subject matter?

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

          Personally, I do indeed find truth relative to subject matter within the larger Church. How else do you explain denominational shifts based off stuff like female leadership, the use of music in worship, the morality of stuff like dancing or head-coverings, etc.?

          • ChrisZ

            Jon,
            Thank you for the thought provoking response and I apologize for not writing back sooner, time never seems to be on my side.

            I’ve never thought of those issues you mentioned, perhaps because they were never brought to my attention. You have me thinking on how much the church has changed and whether or not it has changed for the better.? However, I don’t think the issues you mentioned above compare to the homosexuality/bisexuality/transgender issues facing the church. If history is a good indication, the church will probably choose to be popular/conventional rather than biblical.

            What are the lines that shouldn’t be blurred, what standards are worth standing for?

            I hope you had a great Christmas and have a happy New Year.

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

              The problem with the homosexuality/bisexuality/ transgender issues facing the church is that we’re actually talking about homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people, not issues. What standards are being blurred by the inclusion of people like me and families like mine?

  • ChrisZ

    Issues vs People? If we put people (let’s say you Jon and “families like mine”) upon the issue one tends to become emotional, that’s good if you want to become emotional. As much as people want to try, emotions can not alter reality/truth. “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 13:8

    Can we leave our emotions and our feelings away from this conversation?

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

      Fair enough. I go back to my original question: What’s the lie?

      • ChrisZ

        Myth #1
        Homosexuality is normal and biologically determined.

        The truth…
        There is no scientific research indicating a biological or genetic cause for homosexuality. Biological factors may play a role in the predisposition to homosexuality. However, this is true of many other psychological conditions.
        Research suggests that social and psychological factors are strongly influential. Examples include problems in early family relationships, sexual seduction, and sense of inadequacy with same-sex peers, with resulting disturbance in gender identity. Society can also influence a sexually questioning youth when it encourages gay self-labeling.

        Let’s discuss.
        http://narth.com/menus/myths.html

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

          NARTH is little but agendized research, established to prove a point or at least to make sure that their point is proven.

          Let’s assume that gay people are made gay through all of those social scenarios and not through any biological determinents. I can go there. So what? Is it the Church’s duty to make sure that gay and lesbian people remain browbeaten and ostracized from the larger Church community, as well as societally disadvangtaged?

          • ChrisZ

            It is NOT the church’s duty to browbeat and ostracize ANYONE, how can they ever share their faith with people? However, there is a matter of repentance from any lifestyle that doesn’t line up with God’s word, like an adulterer, drug addict, etc. Like anyone wanting to change from anything, one has to admit their wrong and turn away from it, that’s repentence. It is the church’s duty to help the individual thru this…kinda like what NARTH does.

            “agendized” thanks for the new word…but don’t we all have agenda’s? Hopefully our agendas are based on truth not on our own self interest. Are you a lover of truth?

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

              “Agendized” isn’t really a new word. I stole it from Dr. Laura. NARTH was created specifically to show that homosexuality is bad and they continue to cook their research to make sure that their agenda comes out in their results.

              What about the gays and lesbians who sincerely spend years repenting and fasting and praying to be let go from their homosexual temptations? People make it seem like it’s so easy. Turn to Jesus and he’ll set you free. And then the years click by and they’re not really set free.

              The truth is that some gay people can become ex-gay and some gay people were made gay, but the truth is that other gay people aren’t going to become ex-gay no matter how much they try and no matter how much praying, psychotherapy, and holding therapies. The truth is that there are gay people who are genuinely happy, content, and safe in their lifestyles, even if that lifestyle is something so vanilla as marriage, kids, and career. And the truth is that they are right with God and they are not addicts or prostitutes or adulterers (though many ex-gay leaders for some reason seem to be former addicts, prostitutes, or adulterers; I’m just sayin’).

              So I guess I am a lover of truth.

              • ChrisZ

                NARTH MISSION STATEMENT
                “We respect the right of all individuals to choose their own destiny. NARTH is a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality. As an organization, we disseminate educational information, conduct and collect scientific research, promote effective therapeutic treatment, and provide referrals to those who seek our assistance.

                NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care and the right of professionals to offer that care. We welcome the participation of all individuals who will join us in the pursuit of these goals.”

                John, the above contradicts what you said about Narth, by reading thru their web-site, I read nowhere where they say that “homosexuality is bad.” If you make a statement I would appreciate a source.

                Do you think homosexuals are the only ones fighting sexual temptation…we ALL do! However, some of us recognize that sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is a sin…fornication (the sound of that even sounds dirty…fornication!). We turn away from those sexual temptations because we fear God or love God and we don’t want to commit adultery against God. No one doubts that it is not easy, the sexual drive is irrational…but so is having a relationship with God…a God that we can’t prove His existence (can you prove God exist, I can’t?). But, we prove our love for God by the way we live our lives. Our lives make our faith a fact.

                You say “The truth is that there are gay people who are genuinely happy, content, and safe in their lifestyles, even if that lifestyle is something so vanilla as marriage, kids, and career. And the truth is that they are right with God…” is this your standard, happy, content, safe, marriage, kids, career…really? I can place a drug abuser and an adulterer in that standard also. Does this standard justify ones lifestyle? Apart from God I would say yes, but we are to live by a Godly standard not our own and that means forsaking our desires for His. Again I quote you “And the truth is that they are right with God…” Are bisexual and transgendered also right with God? Is the new acronym going to be LGBTP, P for Polygamist, after all they are all consenting adults that are committed to each other? Where do YOU draw the line?

                We all live by the cards we are dealt, some are harder to play than others. But, that doesn’t mean you make cards of your own expecting to play in the same game. No, that card doesn’t go with the deck! AND, you can’t change the rules to justify entering the game with your card…are you aware In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality as a mental disorder from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders (DSM-II)? They removed homosexuality from the list because of intimidation not research…this is what I mean by changing the rules in order to play the game….but, I guess, by your thinking, if you are happy, content, safe, married, have kids and a successful career that earns you a right to make your own rules so you can have a seat at the table.

                Truth is always the right choice.

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

                By the way, it’s probably not a good idea to start off a post with three paragraphs that strongly assert that something “is not bad” and then follow up with a link to something that calls it “evil” in the website and “Homosexuality is VERY ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR” (caps included) in the title. Just a thought…

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

                Chris: Does NARTH publish or promote anything that treats unwanted heterosexual behavior? Does it publish or promote anything that demonstrates that shows that being gay isn’t necessarily bad? I turn your question around. Cite anything, anywhere that demonstrates that NARTH *EVER* believes that ^ANY* aspect or circumstance of homosexuality is good.

                I just want to make sure I understand your fifth paragraph correctly. Are you comparing my family to adultery (which harms the family through acts of deceit and possible influx of negative outside influence like STDs and illigitimate children) and drug addictions (which harm people through its various symptoms — inability to maintain employment, inability to care for kids & manage household, legal problems, physical & mental addictions)?

                As for the bisexual thing, my husband is a bisexual male. What’s your point?

                Transgendered issues are slightly different than what you’re dealing with in my household. Though I’m supportive of their rights and needs, which are once again different than what you’re dealing with in my household.

                Polygamy often gets lumped in with GLBT people, but it’s hardly our issue. I dare you to ask most actual Polygamists (who tend to be quite religiously and socially conservative) how much they support the “gay lifestyle”. I will point out that Polygamy has much more of a presence in the Bible than homosexuality does and it tended to be treated in a culturally neutral way, FWIW. At least it’s a step up from adultery, in my mind.

                My family is my family. I am right with God. We are right with God. I don’t have any doubt about that. You believe it’s sinful. That’s your opinion. But it’s an incorrect one.

              • ChrisZ

                Jon,

                Your wording says “there are gay people…” I had no idea you were talking about your family, how was I to know? It sounds like you are getting emotional, we weren’t going to get emotional, remember? I know, how can you not get emotional when family is involved, however do we love truth more than family? Would you rather be divided by the truth than united by the lie?

                The issue we are talking about is bigger than you and I…and bigger than our families, truth always is.

                If you are going to say something negative about Narth, you provide the proof, don’t turn it around on me to justify your…”assumptions.”

                By the way, there are NON-adulterer and NON-drug abusers that fall into the categories that you mentioned (STD’s, inability to maintain employment, care for kids, legal problems…)

                More to say, but the demands of the family are beckoning.

                Take care!

                I’ll respond later.

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

                What assumptions, Chris? NARTH was established to provide proof that homosexuality is harmful and to treat it. I stand by my original assertion about what NARTH believes about homosexuality.

                As far as responding emotionally, what do you think is going to happen when you come onto a blog and pontificate about the lives of gay people on that blog when there are GLBT people posting on this blog. I have posted long enough on this thread and elsewhere on this blog, plus I link to my personal blog, so it should be apparent where I’m coming from by now. You don’t get to talk about gay poeple and our families and not expect that there is a human connection and a human reaction to this discussion. Deal with it or leave the conversation.

              • ChrisZ

                Jon:
                Jon:
                Did you “cancel reply” me on the below post? I hope this is a mistake for it would be most unbecoming of person wishing to dialogue with others different from themselves in order to further our education to promote “diversity” of thought and “tolerance” wouldn’t you say?
                Anyways, I will answer your aforementioned questions (when are you going to answer mine?):

                1) Does NARTH publish or promote anything that treats unwanted heterosexual behavior?
                Great questions, I tried to find something on this issue but I couldn’t so I would have to say “no.” But Narth stands for Nat’l Assoc for Research and Therapy of Homosexuals, so I am not surprised that they don’t treat unwanted heterosexual behavior. Therefore, your point is …?
                2) Does it publish or promote anything that demonstrates that shows that being gay isn’t necessarily bad? http://narth.com/menus/positionstatements.html
                NARTH Position Statements
                1. Right to Treatment
                NARTH respects each client’s dignity, autonomy and free agency.
                We believe that clients have the right to claim a gay identity, or to diminish their homosexuality and to develop their heterosexual potential.
                See the “OR” in this last sentence…it’s not an “AND.”

                3) I turn your question around. Cite anything, anywhere that demonstrates that NARTH *EVER* believes that ^ANY* aspect or circumstance of homosexuality is good. Part of #2 of their position statement re. Gay Advocacy in Public Schools “And when homosexuality is discussed, it must not cross the line into lifestyle advocacy. Ultimately, sexual lifestyle decisions hinge on matters of deeply held values. Schools should respect the right of families to convey their own social values to their children.” It sounds to me that they are neither saying it’s good or bad (deeply held values).

                I challenge you to contradict any claims they make with sources.

                By the way, you never answered me on the APA meeting in 1973, this is a pivotal point in Homosexual History, don’t you think?

                Have a good evening!

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

                “Did you “cancel reply” me on the below post? I hope this is a mistake for it would be most unbecoming of person wishing to dialogue with others different from themselves in order to further our education to promote “diversity” of thought and “tolerance” wouldn’t you say?”

                I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about here.

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

                BTW: If you really want to go there, Chris, I will go there. I can move beyond NARTH’s mission statement and provide links to the statements, opinions, and research of NARTH-affiliated board members, researchers, and professionals. I think my assertions will be backed up. I’ll probably do it as an article for my blog since we’re running out of space here, though I’ll link to it here.

                For disclosure and for my curiousity, are you now or in the past associated with NARTH?

                Also, I’ve been typing up church minutes, will be leaving for worship soon, I have annual meeting, I have dog obedience class, and several obligations today. In other words, I’m busy. So I likely won’t finish this new NARTH project until later tomorrow or Tuesday.

                Regarding the “Evils in America Sodomy” report on the APA. I hadn’t realized there was a question to me there. I can write about that, too. But I need to do some research first.

              • ChrisZ

                Hello Jon,

                I have not forgotten about you and our conversation…I was just waiting for a response from last month.

                I hope you and your family are doing well.

                Chris

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

                Response from me?

              • ChrisZ

                Jon,

                Re. “Response from me?”

                you wrote over a month ago:
                “I think my assertions will be backed up. I’ll probably do it as an article for my blog since we’re running out of space here, though I’ll link to it here.” If you did link it, where would I find it (I’m a novice to the blogosphere)?

                You also wrote:
                “Regarding the “Evils in America Sodomy” report on the APA. I hadn’t realized there was a question to me there. I can write about that, too. But I need to do some research first.”

                Yes… you did ask me this question:
                “For disclosure and for my curiousity, are you now or in the past associated with NARTH?”

                I hope you weren’t waiting on me to answer this.??? When I read your questions, i asked myself, “whether I am or was associated with NARTH or not, why is that relevant?” Maybe I should have asked you that.?? But, the truth doesn’t take sides. Perhaps if I had answered in the affirmative this would have lead you to answer ….?? But to satisfy your curiosity, I have never been associated with NARTH (relevant?).

                I look forward to any findings you have on their research and not on the personal lives of the researchers or anyone associated with NARTH…, you, me or anyone (except Jesus) has an authority on virtue.

                Have a great weekend.

                ChrisZ

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

                Yeah, I already wrote a couple articles on the subject (on 1/28 and 2/05) and gradually got bored with the topic. I just figured you’d travel over to my blog itself if you were interested in discussing the topic.

                http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/2011/01/discussing-narth-introduction.html

                http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/2011/02/discussing-narth-does-narth-believe.html

                The basic answer is that NARTH believes that homosexuality is bad. That’s all they write about.

                I certainly invite you or anyone else to comment and I can write more, but writing to myself about NARTH isn’t very motivating to me, especially compared to writing about my family (http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/search/label/Family) or my pets (http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/search/label/Pets).

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

                Chris, I have another comment awaiting moderation here (probably b/c I listed links), but just click my name and that will take you to my blog. Then click “ex-gay” under the Labels heading and you’ll see what I wrote so far. In short, I got bored writing on the subject and stopped after a couple articles. Feel free to comment and I may do more. But that’s what I have so far.

  • john

    it is a choice to be GAY or not, and the bible Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity, Gal 5:20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rivalry, jealously, outbursts of anger, quarrels, conflicts, factions,
    Gal 5:21 envy, murder, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like that. I am telling you now, as I have told you in the past, that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    and as such how can people that do that possibly be able to show the way for others to know Christ?
    the only way possible is to not have these people influencing your congregation and saying that sexual sin is ok!
    i don’t agree that you are able to call them faggotts but you shouldn’t have to water down your faith just because they will be offended by what your saying, if they are offended the truth of the bible then they can just disobey Jesus and God and live in eternal damnation and not inherit the kingdom!
    God bless those that follow the bible in its entirety
    and to those who don’t keep out of my life!

  • jjJoniJ

    That about sums it up Jon T.– who cares how people are gay or not. Who cares how people are straight or not? Science, nurture/nature… I wouldn’t trust straight science to save your life, not with the track record on how science treated gay people in the past. Hey, I know people involunarily put in mental hosptials and given electric shock treatments. Not too long ago.

    Churches that trash and attack and ban and shun gay people are just that, oppressors, and should be avoided at all costs by gay people. And I’m not really going to go along with what straight people think my relationship with Jesus or God is. They don’t speak for me, and God definitely encourages me every day. So what’s the point? More straight condemnation of gay people? Hey, they’ve been doing that since the cows have been coming in, and in another 30 years, those people are going to be looking pretty bad historically speaking.
    There are plenty of plain old good folks out there. I know several very conservative evangelical type Christian straight women. I have a feeling they don’t approve of my sexuality, but they have never said so to my face, and I’m out with everyone I meet. we share our faith, and I don’t judge their lives … divorced, husbands cheated on them… betrayed in other ways…

    Can the institutionalized gay hating churches really continue to carry on this way? They’ve been at it as long as I’ve been a lesbian, they’ve been out there yelling and screaming insults to us at our parades and other freedom events. They’re a mean group of people. You’ve got some new conservatives and conventionals on the scene trying to help out, and talk to those hating churches. good for you… I’m not going to waste my time with gay hating creeps in churches, but i do have personal connections to straight people of all political beliefs, and we stick with what we like about each other. And funnily enough, those straight women are pretty cool, they don’t bring their boring husbands to events, and I don’t bring my partner… pretty good deal.

  • jjJoniJ

    I think the evangelicals and conservatives most upset about us are the straight married folks who are also attracted to same sex people, for whatever reason… they could be bi, they might have had an affair with a same sex person… felt guilty about it, went back to their opposite sex spouse, maybe reconciled etc. Plenty of evangelical gay haters out there– the Haggards, Longs etc. etc., the daughter of Marilyn Hickie– another highly likely lesbian; she’s still maybe in denial about herself.

    Hey, people struggle on all levels. It’s ok. But it’s not ok to take your conflicts out on the rest of us who are completely lesbian or gay, happy about it, connected and committed. You need not take your conflicts with conservative fundamentalism out on the rest of us. just fess up own up, stay married to the man or woman (opposite sex), struggle with same sex attraction… people get attracted to each other, they have affairs, they mess up and get up. But none of this has anything to do with two men living together, legally married in MA or IA, maybe raising a kid or two. Church going regular conservative gay guys. Lots of ‘em folks. If I had a deep Christian issue, I’d call them for help anyday. I wouldn’t bother to talk to a conservative right wing type at all in matters of my spiritual health. I would respect that person as a friend, but I couldn’t count on them in my spiritual life. Need the gospel in gay… it just connects to my culture, life and values.


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