Message to Gay Teens: It Gets Better

Last week I blogged about a gay teenager in Minnesota who committed suicide in July.  Sadly, he is not alone in teenagers who are figuring out their sexuality, lose all hope at being understood, and kill themselves.  Now Dan Savage, the sex advice columnist that Christians won’t admit to reading, has started a project called “It Gets Better,” in which he is soliciting videos from GLBT persons who have survived the gauntlet of middle school and high school.  Here’s an example:

My question: How will the Christian church rally to save the lives of GLBT teens?

  • carla jo

    To directly answer your question, it won’t.

    Rallying to a cause involves believing that cause is worthy of the time and effort it will take to make a change. If the comments on your previous post are any indication, those of us who think this situation is tragic and worth acting on are the minority among Christians.

    And frankly, we are the minority period. I don’t see many people outside of the gay community taking this issue seriously unless it touches their child or their school. Like so many other social ills, this one will be an attention getter only when there is a death.

    My kids attend a public school that has been a pilot for an anti-bullying curriculum that includes homophobic language and slurs in its definition of bullying. There was, needless to say, some pushback on this, but not as much as you might think. I’m proud of our school for taking action on this before there is a tragedy and we did speak up in support of the curriculum but the only time most of the Christian families at our school made their collective voice known on this issue was to push this thing down. Thankfully, they didn’t.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/dpruth001 Dan R

    I’m more hopeful than Carla.

    I don’t normally pay a whole lot of attention to what the Bush family does/says post-presidency, but I saw a glimmer of hope for our society — and for GLBT teens — when Laura Bush admitted on Larry King Live that she thinks it’s a “generational thing” (I’m paraphrasing).

    I really believe that it IS a generational thing. More and more young people that I talk to don’t have the hang-ups with homosexuality that older generations do. I think it has a lot to do with contact-theory: young people have been exposed to more gay friends and family members than in the past.

    I see it like I see left-handedness. People used to be reeducated/trained/forced to write with their right hand, because left-handedness was considered to be of the devil. And left handed people COULD write with their right hand — maybe not naturally — but they could. That’s laughable (and sad) now.

    Unfortunately we’re not even close to all the way there. Certainly there will continue to be tragic deaths because of our inability to read Scripture in a way that is life-giving.

    But I have hope that we’re getting there. It is getting better.

  • http://blackframemedia.com Josh Frank

    Just shared this resource with my (recently made former) Youth Ministry colleagues in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. Thanks for finding and pointing us towards the project!

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    It’s already happening in some churches. My church, for example, reaches out to those struggling with same sex desires and gives them an opportunity to socialize in a safe environment and learn about God’s love and the freedom to be found in Christ. Plenty of churches are doing the same.

  • carla jo

    Darius, do they have a similar ministry for teens?

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Carla Jo, yes, I believe it’s primarily focused on teens. A friend of mine organized some basketball pickup games for teens in the group and they have lots of other things going on… I’m not entirely sure of everything involved in the ministry.

  • RJ

    The first thing the church must do is to stop waging war over the battlefield of sexuality. I am not saying that it should never be discussed, but why is that the one hot button issue of the resolutionaries of so many denominations, and the target of so many off handed comments in sermons.

    I am also not saying that anyone needs to change their position on the issues. Both sides on this issue are marching over people struggling with issues of sexuality, using the issue to further other agendas.

    If we are going to save the lives of these teens, the church needs to stop treating them as one dimensional, and start treating them as humans who are struggling to find some way to cope with a variety of issues. If we can do that, then we stand a chance of demonstrating that we actually care about them, and if we care about them, maybe they will think God cares about them.

  • http://missourimule.blogspot.com/ Larry

    My church, for example, reaches out to those struggling with same sex desires and gives them an opportunity to socialize in a safe environment and learn about God’s love and the freedom to be found in Christ. a

    That is, the freedom to become heterosexual.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    No, the freedom from the burden of sin. The freedom that only Christ offers… the freedom that Tony (sadly) knows nothing of.

  • Darren

    Simply put, it will try to save them, by trying to “SAVE” them, and thus push them further into misery, loneliness, and self-deprecation by false promises of “overcoming”. And I should know, because I was one such suicidal young person that the Church almost pushed over the edge. I thank God through Jesus Christ that HE saved me, and showed me mercy, grace, Truth, and most of all . . . Love. Unfortunately, the number of churches that offer such Love are few and far between. What’s more common – FAR more common, tragically – are the churches that offer cheap imitations of Love (i.e., “englightened homophobia”) under the guise of compassion.

    Father forgive them, for I genuinely believe they know not what they do. And I’m glad I’m still alive to tell my story . . . now if only they would listen . . .

  • nathan

    @Darius,

    “nothing”? really?

    I get it that you and he disagree on stuff, but I don’t think a careful listening of Tony over the years warrants that claim.

    I’m all for vigorous disagreement. God knows Tony doesn’t flinch either…but that kind of a dig is, frankly, really really shitty.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Nathan, it’s the honest truth. Tony would rather see people stuck in their sin than experience the freedom Christ offers. He doesn’t understand the Gospel, just as many people on here don’t. Real love for the lost is hard to find on this blog. For Tony and his followers, freedom means freedom to engage in whatever sin that Tony approves of (never mind what God thinks). So go ahead and have homosexual sex all you want (as long as it’s monogamous!), but please don’t bully people. Which is funny, cause you could actually make a more Biblical (though still WRONG!) argument for bullying (and even killing) homosexuals than in support of homosexual sex (please don’t anyone be stupid enough to think that I am making this argument). Of course, what the Bible actually says on an issue doesn’t really matter to Tony and his ilk. He made that very clear with the atonement posts last year… he admitted that Romans supports penal substitution, but said he still doesn’t believe it. Fine, then stop pretending to be a Christian. We need Christians who point people to Christ, not to themselves or to secular culture.

  • http://www.MannsWord.blogspot.com Daniel Mann

    RJ and Tony,

    The reason that sexual behavior is a big issue in the church is because it’s a big issue with God. It’s not like eating a MacD. Instead, our sexuality is supposed to mirror our ultimate heaven-based relationship with God (Eph. 5:24-31). Perhaps, that’s why He made it such a weighty issue. When exercised according to His formula, it can be glorious; when not, it becomes more degrading than other sins:

    • “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” 1 Cor. 6:18

    Illicit sex degrades us and the stats all agree. In light of this, I don’t see how Christians can cavalierly encourage sex that isn’t sanctioned by our God. But it’s not just the Bible alone that proscribes it. It’s all the world religions and societies! History has repeatedly tried it and found it problematic. As a result, historically, we do not find any long-standing pedophilic, adulterous, or gay organizations that have lasted. They seem to self-destruct.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Daniel Mann nails it. If anything, the Church has ignored the issue of sexuality way too much…. particularly pornography and lust. Thankfully there are many organizations now forming to deal with these issues… if only churches would stop pretending lust doesn’t exist.

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  • http://www.theburnerblog.com The Burner

    Sexuality is definitely important, but The Burner thinks it to be less important than discipleship, giving a cool drink of water, or caring for the poor and the widow, for example. TB would love a fast on all church-related GLBT debates whilst the Church seeks reorientation from the Spirit on the issue.

    More on topic, TB worries about helping to make a teenager’s sexuality (in middle school–really?) the major defining aspect of their self-image. Anybody else?

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    “More on topic, TB worries about helping to make a teenager’s sexuality (in middle school–really?) the major defining aspect of their self-image. Anybody else?”

    Amen to that. I find it really disturbing that the GLBT and sympathizers with their agenda like Tony view everything in terms of sexuality. Kids aren’t allowed to just be kids. No normal middle schooler should even be thinking about this issue (much less heterosexual problems). It says a lot about our society that this is the case. The answer is not to talk about it MORE, but to stop talking about it until the appropriate time. It hardens our kids to sexualize them so early in life.

  • nathan

    @Darius,

    Differences of opinion on particular areas of interpretation do not mean you have the right to level the charge of basically no belief in sin or not caring about people or not even being Christian.

    Can you show me where Tony’s opinion about human sexuality disqualifies him as a follower of Jesus?

    Can you demonstrate why on this point that identity should rise and fall?

    I totally get, and believe, that people can be vigorous in their disagreements, but your words, in my opinion, do not reflect or comport with the irenic spirit of Christ.

    Even if Tony was mistaken in his views, I’ve yet to see how your engagement with him has ever been helpful.

    If you were consistent with your claims about being “really loving” wouldn’t you press into Tony with gentleness and persistence…demonstrating care and respect AND, here’s the key, the circumspection necessary since it’s very likely really don’t know him? It might take time and long suffering on your part, but you would come out at the other end a much better person…and you wouldn’t be known as someone who “wraps their cookies in barbed wire”.

    Argue vigorously, but don’t devolve into personal recriminations. Otherwise all you communicate is that you really don’t care about people here. And…i’m sure…that at the end of the day…I would hope…that you really do care about people and their souls.

    Scripture says that if your brother falls, restore him gently.
    And Scripture says that if someone has demonstrated to you that they are not of the faith, then you should approach them as one who is lost–with compassion, respect, kindness, etc. etc.

    either way, you’re on the hook to be kinder. ;)

    just say’n.

  • Joey

    Darius, do you also find it disturbing that because of such angst, hatred, and disgust at homosexuality towards middle schoolers who are struggling their way through sexual identity issues many of these teenagers are not safe and actually have to fear for their emotional, spiritual, and physical well being, much less their lives?

    You can have any stance you want, but when you are so focused on right vs. wrong that you can’t see the suffering person you’ve gone way past righteousness and found yourself in a pond of judgmental despondence. Tony isn’t putting this up here for an “agenda” any more than giving girls a rape whistle on college campuses is an “agenda.” There are people being killed and bullied because their peers have been told by their parents and church that people of differing sexual orientations are bad and disgusting.

    Why is it so hard to hold your belief without also turning into a monster who perpetuates this abuse by justifying it or deflecting any real engagement with the issue?

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    “Differences of opinion on particular areas of interpretation do not mean you have the right to level the charge of basically no belief in sin or not caring about people or not even being Christian.

    Can you show me where Tony’s opinion about human sexuality disqualifies him as a follower of Jesus? “

    This isn’t a matter of a difference of “opinion.” Tony has consistently said not to believe what the Bible says clearly. I wish it were just a matter of opinion… then I would leave it to a matter of taste. But the Bible is pretty clear on a whole host of subjects where Tony (and others) consistently say “has God really said not to eat of that fruit?” Yes, He has.

    “Scripture says that if your brother falls, restore him gently.
    And Scripture says that if someone has demonstrated to you that they are not of the faith, then you should approach them as one who is lost–with compassion, respect, kindness, etc. etc. “

    You would be right… if we were talking about someone who is just searching and isn’t claiming any authority. But no one here can claim that Tony isn’t claiming answers or authority. He is a teacher, and the Bible holds those in authority to a much higher standard. That’s why Jesus said to treat false Christians as outsiders, and treat outsiders as friends. It’s one thing to be blind, it’s a very different thing to claim to see while still being blind. Check out what Jesus said about this very issue in John 9:40-41. So I’m not here to “restore Tony gently.” He’s had those offers and has rejected them repeatedly from people like John Piper, etc. I’m just some lowly peon. Tony is to be clearly marked as a heretic and treated as Paul and Jesus said to treat false teachers: like Jews treated Gentiles – Jesus said don’t even eat with them. Amazing how Biblically illiterate people are these days.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Joey, really? Emotionally-based slander doesn’t really make your side of the argument look very good. Where have I hated homosexuals? I hate the sin, just as I hate my own lust and anger and self-centeredness. Tony clearly made this a political issue by saying that public schools should teach how normal homosexuality is. It is NOT normal or right, just as lying, lust, anger, greed, slander, gossip, etc. are NOT normal or right. Saying that sin is sin doesn’t mean one can’t be compassionate to those struggling with sin. Where in the world did you get the idea that the two are mutually exclusive? The Gospel is based entirely on the fact that mankind is utterly sinful yet there is a God who is utterly compassionate.

    Let me say it again for the slow people in the crowd: bullying, for any reason, INCLUDING sexual issues, is wrong. Let me repeat for those who can’t read well: bullying, for any reason, INCLUDING sexual issues, is wrong. Period.

  • carla jo

    “cause you could actually make a more Biblical (though still WRONG!) argument for bullying (and even killing) homosexuals than in support of homosexual sex (please don’t anyone be stupid enough to think that I am making this argument).”

    Darius, Leviticus 20:13 says, ” ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

    Are you saying you think God’s Word is wrong on this issue? Or do you just pick and choose which parts of the Bible you agree with?

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    No, Carla Jo, this is where correct exegesis is terribly important. This is a pretty simple issue though; pretty much any solid scholarship on the topic has handled it well. In short, God’s law on how the Israelites were to comport themselves as a community does not apply to how Christians are supposed to handle sin. The sin is still detestable in God’s eyes, but He doesn’t want Christians taking punishment into their own hands. Judgment is His, not ours. The Israelites were a socio-political-religious community set apart by God, to which He gave laws to govern them. Christians are governed by a new Covenant, a new Law. We don’t punish lawbreakers, particularly ones outside of our community (notice that even the Israelites didn’t do this).

    If you’d be interested, I can find you a book or two that goes deeper into this topic if you are unfamiliar with this line of exegetical thinking.

  • nathan

    @Darius,

    how I’ve interpreted these texts about how to treat people is different than you. but I don’t understand why that merits being accused of being Biblically illiterate.

    Some thoughts in no particular order…with some questions so I can better understand where you are coming from…

    a. i’m at a loss to understand then, if you’re just a lowly peon, what is achieved by your engagement here. If I understand you correctly, then Paul’s proscription on contact with false teachers, it would seem to me, then means you probably shouldn’t be here on this blog and you should be encouraging all your friends to stay away from Tony’s material/teaching.

    b. Does being convinced of a “wrong answer” means that the call of Galatians (to restore gently) is waived?

    c. outsiders still “need Jesus”. So if Tony is one, why not try to reach him as one?

    d. I’d be interested to hear what Tony thinks about this supposed offer to be ‘restored’ by John Piper. A man who has no relationship with him and therefore no standing/credibility to sweep into his life. (Not to bash Piper, just say’n.)

    e. You still can’t justify why your comportment here isn’t more redemptive, more entreating, more persistent in a helpful way. I don’t see how, even given your understanding of this situation, why you think you’re off the hook to simply be civil, kind, courteous and not making claims about the heart/intent of people. Not to be combative, but you’re not God and you don’t get to make claims that require being able to look into the complexity of people’s motives, mind and soul.

    f. Finally, If Tony really is so off the rails, then by your own standards he’s probably going to hell. Shouldn’t that be, by your own standards, a tragedy to be mourned and a reality to be engaged with grief filled entreating, rather than position hardening rancor?
    If Tony needs to repent–as you often say on these threads–how are you demonstrating the “kindness of God” that leads us to repentance?

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Nathan, you make fair points. I definitely am not claiming that I always conduct myself properly… but usually, the accusations against me on here are ludicrous. Tony has routinely called me an ass… I have never once returned the favor. I don’t call names, I leave that to the liberals to do. Please tell me where I once made any claims about the motives or intent of anyone. I freely admit that I regularly make claims as to the truth of people’s statements, but when it comes to motives, I leave that to God. That doesn’t let them off the hook, because supposedly good motives still lead to terrible evil. It is one of the biggest problems of today that people think that as long as you are sincere and intend good (from your perspective, at least), you’re doing good. It’s highly illogical if you stop and think about it, but it is a sign of our postmodern times that people actually employ that logic on a regular basis. Motives have nothing to do with it. That’s up to God to decide. Results matter here on Earth. Jesus said something along these lines when His disciples asked if they should stop some outside from doing miracles in His name. Likewise, Paul said that motives don’t matter as long as the Gospel is being preached. Unfortunately, the Gospel is not preached on this blog. It’s barely even hinted at.

    Regarding my involvement here… I’ll give two reasons, one good, one poor. The poor reason: cause I “enjoy” a good debate. Not a good reason to engage on here, but honestly, it is probably part of what fuels me at times. The good reason: so I can encourage those that are willing to think outside of this echo chamber and see that there is another way, a right way, a way that leads to life and not to death. And to encourage those on here who are likewise fighting the battle against Satan’s lies and deceit. No battle was ever won by going home and surrendering. When Tony spouts one of his many lies, it is the duty of every Christian to respond “SATAN, GET BEHIND US!”

    Yes, Tony’s (and McLaren’s, Pagitt’s, etc.) flesh is very important and worth saving. But what is vastly more important are the souls of the thousands they are trying to lead away from Christ. Those lost, like the thousands from Nineveh who can’t tell their left hand from their right, need Jesus. They need to know the Gospel once delivered. Tony and company have heard the Gospel and rejected it. Only by the grace of God will they be restored. But I’m not holding my breath; historically (and Biblically) I see little evidence supporting the likelihood that an apostate will come back to the faith… possibly what the writer of Hebrews was referring to in chapter 6. My concern is primarily with fighting the wolves and protecting the sheep. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is a wolf and who’s a sheep…

    Nathan, if you see me saying something that is stooping to the unkind level of others on here, feel free to call me on it. But I am fairly certain so far that the worst behavior has been from some of Tony’s defenders and particularly from himself. I make theological or cultural statements, he calls me names. I clarify my statements to make sure there is no further confusion or slander, he questions my sincerity and motives. It’s childish, but not surprising. Satan will resort to anything to undermine the Gospel and the name of Christ.

  • L. Reese Cumming

    BINGO, Darius.

  • carla jo

    Darius, Tony might call you names but I don’t believe he has ever questioned your standing before God. I think that’s where your whole “he does the same thing” argument falls apart. If you are interested in honest debate, then stop questioning the salvation of those who disagree with you.

    Also,I don’t need any books about the exegetical method you describe above, but thank you for the offer.

  • http://www.alexgamble.blogspot.com Alex

    Good God Darius. Lay the fuck off.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Carla Jo, I didn’t say Tony “does the same thing.” He does much worse. I merely point out falsehoods, he launches personal attacks and ad hominem retorts. Big diff.

    Alex, no comment to your obscene AND profane remark other than yes, God is indeed good.

  • nathan

    @ Darius,

    thanks for your response. It totally helps me get a better sense of where you are coming from. I think that I zero in on the “looking into the heart/motives” thing from the claim that Tony doesn’t care about sin, etc.

    That being said, I have a better understanding of what your thinking is from your honesty in your response to me.

    To be clear, I don’t think sincerity is a panacea for everything…I agree that people with really great intentions do really awful things at times.

    What I’m trying to drill down on with you (in a good sense) is getting a better understanding of why’s and wherefore’s on our comportment.

    I actually try very hard, on these threads at least, to not really say definitively what my opinions are. Rather, I zero in on the “how” more than the “what”. Since I think that the “how” demonstrates a theology in itself. Not that I’m the picture of lovingkindness at all times. (Just ask my friends, my wife, and some of my co-workers ;) )

    For the record, I think any name calling on anyone’s part is unnecessary and rude. We all, myself included, get heated and we either distill that anger into rude names or full blown paragraphs of it…

    Again, thank you for your honesty and your willingness to answer my questions.

    It would be good if everyone asked more genuine questions of each other (rather than ‘gotcha’ ones). It would probably help us all at least have a more charitable understanding of each other even when we vehemently disagree on whatever the given issue is.

    I hope everyone on these comment threads can be encouraged to do this…

    peace and love to all.

    p.s.

    and, yeah, thanks to Tony for allowing these threads to be spaces for people. It may seem unfruitful at times, but it really is good in the long run for everyone.

  • Anon

    As Darius and others are clearly illustrating here, the best thing for isolated and depressed LGBT youths to do is to get as far as possible away from the church.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Thanks for the charitable comments, Nathan. I appreciate your tone. I sometimes jump to conclusions on blogs such as these when the host sets such a vitriolic tone that I assume almost every other commenter is also mean and rude in their responses. I fully acknowledge that my comments aren’t always perfect… it would be the height of arrogance to claim otherwise. My intent, however, is to avoid personal attacks as much as possible (sometimes it just isn’t possible to avoid) and particularly avoid discussing motives and sincerity. If anything I have said has implied otherwise about Tony or others, I sincerely apologize. I am reasonably sure that Tony is very genuine in his convictions and doctrine… probably no less than I am in mine. But this isn’t a matter of taste and “to each his own.” We’re talking about souls and lives and eternity. Very serious things.

    One thing to keep in mind is that in the history of heretics and false teachers, it is highly unlikely that almost any of them thought they were heretical or leading people astray. Satan knows that he is a liar, but those he speaks through think they are speaking the truth (for example, Peter in Matthew 16). Look at some of the early church heresies… Arius’ views nearly won the day and his supporters were certainly sincere.

    Online discussions obviously have their limits. It makes it easy to discuss ideas and theology and politics, but not so easy to show love.

  • http://cantleaveunsaid.wordpress.com Dave Buerstetta

    Ok, this is gonna seem off-topic, but bare with me a moment for a true story. Yesterday at a busy intersection in my town, a guy was wearing a sandwich board and handing out literature. The literature was boiler plate anti-Obama policy screed, but the sandwich board was flat out old school hideous racist bile. Of course the guy as the right to express such hate. And in order to be a Good Citizen, I need to not suppress that right. But in order to be a Good Person and even a Good Christian, I also must not let his hate speech go unchallenged. I must say to him, debate policy all you want, but your hate is not welcome here! (And because I’m so livid about this, I’m going to also call him what he is: a hateful, racist asshole.)

    Not dissimilarly, Darius, you can say all you want that “bullying for any reason, including sexual issues is wrong.” But right after saying that you trumpet a ministry that beats people up by telling them God hates them and that they don’t deserve equal rights or protection under the law because of their sexuality. Your statement doesn’t hold water.

    Finally, Darius, I call BS on your claim to have made no personal attacks (from comment #24). On this thread alone you’ve written:
    -Tony knows nothing of Christ (comment #9)
    -Tony and his “ilk” are pretend Christians who don’t understand the gospel and are incapable of love (#12)
    - Tony is a heretic and false teacher and the rest of us are biblically illiterate (#19)
    - Tony is a liar and deceitful and is in league with Satan (#24 and again in #31)
    And apparently I’m mean and rude for pointing these things out to you (#31)
    Dude, we get it: you hate gay people and you hate Tony and the rest of us because we don’t hate them. Fine. Message received. Now please get the fuck out of the way while the rest of us try to keep kids from killing themselves due to the despicable way others treat them. Treatment far too many churches have encouraged! Including, apparently, yours.

  • Jason Stauffacher

    Tony: are you suggesting it is OK to have sex before marriage? I guess I am very very confused about the kind of sexuality you are endorsing on your blog? So, if two consenting teens, gay or not, is OK to have sex if they feel it is OK?

    This girl is not old enough to know the details of a healthy sexual relationship.

    Kindly,

    -Jason Stauffacher
    jasonstauffacher@gmail.com

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

    Why assume that a teen who identifies as a gay or lesbian is sexually active? I, like most gay people, knew I was gay in my very early teens. I didn’t become sexually active until my 20s.

    Are you suggesting, Jason, that it is unChristian to be concerned about the increased rates of suicide amongst GLBT-identified youth because of bullying or to ask if the Church will rally to reduce incidents of suicide amongst those same kids?

  • Korey

    Darius,
    I’m guessing you would include many other leaders and denominations of being false teachers other than McLaren, Pagitt, and Jones? I imagine there are many theological and biblical perspectives you would find dangerous and in need of public condemnation. It would help me clarify how distant my thinking might be from yours if I can quantify how many people I believe to be Christians are in fact damned from your view or at least false teachers.

  • aran

    .

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    “But right after saying that you trumpet a ministry that beats people up by telling them God hates them and that they don’t deserve equal rights or protection under the law because of their sexuality.”

    Dave, I have no idea what you’re referring to here. Your vitriol is unwarranted, but not surprising.

    Korey, assuming your question was a serious one, I would say anyone who doesn’t preach THE Gospel as given us in the New Testament is a false teacher. Denominations are a very different thing, in most cases. All Christians have minor errors in our theology… that’s unavoidable. But the difference between minor errors and major Christ-rejecting ones is what is being taught. Paedobaptism vs. adult baptism? One can make an honest argument for either. Communion every Sunday vs. once a month? A church full of spiritual gifts versus one that is a little more reserved in that regard? All of these have some Biblical warrant and Christians can all disagree on them. What doesn’t have Biblical warrant and is the most important thing of all is the Gospel: how does a person come into right relationship with God in this life and in the next? You get this wrong, you get it all wrong. That’s what makes Mormons and JW’s not Christians… they get most of the moral living correct, but they screw up the Gospel. Likewise, the Emergent Cult may be in some cases (though considering how much they promote sin, I kinda wonder) a very moral group of people. But they get the Gospel wrong, so it doesn’t matter how “good” they are. They are still leading themselves and others astray. Get the Gospel right, I really don’t care if we agree so much on the secondary issues. Be a political liberal, if you must (though I’d prefer every Christian by biblical in their political lives just as in the rest of their lives). Just get the Gospel right. The rest will follow.

  • Marusha

    Wow! Some of you have really shown your true colors here in these comments. I wonder if someone who calls themselves a Christian should spew blasphemies and vulgarity. It still stuns me (I suppose I’m still a little naive) that not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is one. Yes, it is the postmodern age. It is the 21st century, but sin is still sin and the gospel is still the gospel and we have ALL gone astray and need salvation. No matter how enlightened one thinks themselves to be, it is all foolishness when it comes from our own sinful minds. That is why we need the Bible. That is why we need to interpret it properly, not through our own experiences and presupositions, but WE are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, not try and mangle the Word of God to suit our own preferences. There are essential, biblical doctrines that a person adheres to if they can support their claim of being a Christian. And how does one become a Christian? Never by any works we have done. We become a Christian by measuring ourselves to God’s standard, found in the Bible, and seeing that we are miserably out of line and sinful. In the Bible (2 Corinthians) it says that Godly sorrow leads to repentance which leads to salvation. If we are truly contrite over our sins against God and we turn from our wicked ways and cry out for mercy, He will save us and take us down the narrow road to salvation. He made this possible because Jesus, the one who is fully God and fully man took the wrath of God by suffering and dying on the cross so that if we put our faith in Him, our sins are not counted against us and we can be in God’s presence forever. The double sided coin of the gospel is repentance and faith. This involves humility and no longer loving our sin. I am a dark, wretched sinner who cannot get to heaven on her own merits. I need the mediator and savior provided in Christ. I have faith that his work on the cross paid for all the sins I’ve done and will do and that He will never let me go. Hopefully, because of the new life in me and sheer gratefulness to God, this can be evident by the fruit of salvation that flows out of my heart by my words and actions.

  • http://Taddelay.com Tad delay

    Thanks for the video heads up, Tony. I was glad to see Andrew Sullivan pick it up on his blog as well.

    This whole heresy-hunting thing always reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Jewish theologian/philosopher A.J. Heschel:

    “Hypocrasy, rather than heresy, is the cause of spiritual decay.”

  • http://existentialpunk.com Existential Punk

    i applaud the young lady in this video as she is really brave! Thanks for sharing this Tony. i am a survivor of self-hatred and suicidal tendencies for being queer and Christian. Nothing ever changed as i tried and tried to ‘pray away the gay’ in me! Now i am happy and at peace being fully out and a Christ-follower.

  • L. Reese Cumming

    You know, when homosexuality was simply considered to be a behavioral issue, it was easy to view it as a physical act not in keeping with the physical purposes of man and woman, as well as an affront to theistic and cultural demands for the preservation of the society.

    Now, if homosexuality is genetic, then it would follow that God created this condition. So my question is this: Is there any genetic condition of man in which the physical expression of that genetic condition is considered to be sinful by God, other than homosexuality?

  • http://Taddelay.com Tad delay

    Does the drive to have sex with as many people as possible count? Thanks to the nature of natural selection, our genetics dispose us to just about every selfish and violent drive imaginable (along with lots of good drives as well!). We could come up with thousands of examples. But because of this, it impossible to really label *anything* as moral or immoral based on genetics

  • http://cantleaveunsaid.wordpress.com Dave Buerstetta

    You know what I’ve realized? I owe Tony and all of you an apology.
    I let myself get so distracted by the heresy-hunters (great phrase, Tad!) that I completely forgot to address Tony’s question: How will the Christian church rally to save the lives of GLBT teens?
    I hinted at it earlier, however obliquely: we can rally by changing the perception that Christian churches are gleefully anti-gay. I saw a study couple years ago in which something like 90% said first thing they think of about the church is that it is anti-gay. That must change. Of course, perception won’t and can’t change until the reality does.
    To save lives, the church must vocally and publicly name and treat GLBT folks as full human beings – beloved children of God just like everyone else.
    We must become a publicly vocal advocate for GLBT rights and we must loudly and consistently condemn violence against the GLBT community.
    Here’s one really small thing we can all do to change church culture (esp. those of us who work with teens): ban the use of ‘gay’ to mean ‘dumb, bad, weird, undesirable, etc.’ in your ministry. Call kids on it when you hear it and tell them why it’s unacceptable. Before too long I bet you’ll find the kids police themselves on it.

  • http://cantleaveunsaid.wordpress.com Dave Buerstetta

    P.S. Existential Punk: I’m really glad you survived those tendencies! That is good news. I bet your story inspires others to keep living as well.

  • Marusha

    You can try and program people all you want but you will never change what they are truly like inside. The real answer is the gospel.

  • Ben

    There is an elephant in the room that many are failing to address.

    Kids are being bullied because they either are gay or are viewed by bullies as being gay.

    This is something that is evil, and we need to take action in stopping it. I personally say, among other things, that school staff need to take strong action in stopping all instances of bullying that they observe. That’s all I can really get into here; my point is that it would be a huge improvement if people were actually throwing out suggestions about what to. And yet, many would rather hijack this discussion in order to rant about whether same-sex relations should be supported(and usually ranting in the negative about that issue) than to rant about how gravely sinful it is that kids are victimized like this and left without people to defend and advocate for them.

  • L. Reese Cumming

    Again, another who seems to be establishing an hierarchy of bullying, and seems to believe that gays deserve a greater defense than overweight people, or short people, or whatever. If we’re going to talk about eliminating bullying in our society, let’s at least be somewhat inclusive.

    Any suggestions as how to stop bullying? It only represents a genetic character of man; most likely linked to the whole concept of natural selection. Any concrete thoughts out there, other than we ought to do it? If Ben is right and its evil, well since when has man been able to do anything about evil other than run to it like sheep?

    Sorry for the pessimism, but I’m not hearing any sensible answers, and maybe that’s saying something to us all.

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

    GLBT teens are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than your average teen and 9 out of 10 report being bullied. Definitely no need to try doing something different there…

    Maybe there is no role for the Church in addressing suicide prevention for GLBT teens or anti-bullying efforts. This Christian came up with the Lot Project to address anti-gay bullying and suicide (http://bit.ly/9uZkdJ): “Billy Lucus, who hanged himself, obviously because he was gay, and unable to endure the guilt that the words of others prompted in him. This was indeed a tragedy, but not anywhere near the tragedy that Billy will discover in eternity when he faces the wrath of God upon rebellious and unrepentant sinners. Then, he will realize that his sin could not be atoned for by his own death, and he will realize that people like Dan Savage who encourage sin are deceivers. He will see them for what they are, the blind leading the blind. And he will realize that he has fallen into that ditch that the blind leading the blind inevitably fall into: that’s eternal destruction and misery. Sadly, it’s too late for Billy. For those who are viewing this video, however, their remains the opportunity of turning from sin to the obedience of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Ben noted that nobody is attempting to do anything about the increased incidents of bullying towards and suicide attempts by GLBT teens. Actually, this whole “It Gets Better” campaign is an attempt to do something better. Dan Savage is taking a page from Harvey Milk’s “You gotta give ‘em hope” statement. For GLBT adults to offer hope to teens that it will get better. They just need to get beyond their school years of bullying peers and passive school officials.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    “GLBT teens are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than your average teen and 9 out of 10 report being bullied. Definitely no need to try doing something different there…”

    Jon, assuming those statistics are accurate (for the sake of the argument, we will), my guess is the difference is that fat kids are being teased about something they have little control over and isn’t inherently sinful while homosexuals are teased about something they already know deep down is sinful, so not only do they get it from their peers, their own conscience is feeling the heat as well. So bullies are just adding kindling to the fire.

    What bullies and our culture miss is that homosexuality is no more of a sin than pre-marital sex of any kind… and there is a whole lot more of that in our public schools than homosexuality. But no one wants to tease people about promiscuity…

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

    “How will the Christian church rally to save the lives of GLBT teens?”

    It won’t and it doesn’t. Instead, Christian churches and groups like Focus on the Family rally to oppose anti-bullying efforts in the name of fighting the “gay agenda”. In this instance, the Church is a large part of the problem.

    I applaud Dan Savage and every person who has contributed to the “It Gets Better” campaign. Help GLBT teens (or even those who are perceived as GLBorT by their tormenters) through their school years by giving them the message that they just need to get past these bad years and then get the heck out of town (and don’t look back).

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius
  • http://missourimule.blogspot.com/ Larry

    my guess is the difference is that fat kids are being teased about something they have little control over and isn’t inherently sinful while homosexuals are teased about something they already know deep down is sinful,

    The ignorance in this statement is simply astounding. You don’t have control over how much you eat? Gluttony and sloth, the main reasons that people are overweight are both in the traditional “Seven Deadly Sins”. So how is that you don’t consider being overweight to be at least as sinful as being gay? Maybe its because you know overweight people, you might even be overweight yourself. In fact, since the Bible has much more to say about greed and gluttony than it does about homosexuality, shouldn’t the fatties be the target of your moral outrage?

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Larry, I’m sorry, but you’re amazingly ignorant about this. Fat doesn’t equal gluttony necessarily. This is particularly true with kids who are going through huge changes in their bodies as they grow. I knew plenty of kids when I was a kid who were chunky but not gluttonous at all while others (such as myself) ate whatever we could get our hands on and never gained a pound (until after college :)). Your comment was one of the most stupid and insensitive remarks I’ve seen on here… hopefully no overweight kids read it.

  • http://missourimule.blogspot.com/ Larry

    Fat doesn’t equal gluttony necessarily.

    Oh, please, 99% of the time it does, true you can be glutton and not be overweight, but being fat is, almost always, caused by eating more than you should. Yes, I know that overweight people like to blame their metabolism, or their “glands” or their genes, but, at the end of the day, it is caused by eating too much, i.e. being a glutton.

    Your comment was one of the most stupid and insensitive remarks I’ve seen on here… hopefully no overweight kids read it.

    I’ve struggled with my weight all my life, believe me no fat kids are going to have problems or be scarred by anything that I’ve said. I wish you were as solicitous towards the feelings of those with differing sexualities, though.

  • Ben

    You are absolutely correct Jon. The It Gets Better message is a concrete thing that is being done to help bullied teens, and I should have mentioned it more specifically. I’m just so frustrated by what is happening (and I’ve been out of grade school for several years now) that I perceive there to be so many people doing nothing. In fact, there are those who are working to stop bullying; they are doing the right thing, and should be recognized, so that others may duplicate their efforts.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      For those of you interested, and looking for a Christian voice in the It Gets Better Project, here’s a video by some folks from my church.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Yeah, I saw that video yesterday. I was wondering about one thing, Tony. Could you explain where the idea that people are born perfect (something one of the people in the video says) comes from? It’s not Biblical, that’s for sure. People are born fallen and sinful. Jesus loves us all, but He doesn’t love everything we do.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Darius, you’ll have to ask the people who made the video that. I’m happy to defend words that come out of my mouth (or my keyboard). Others will have to defend their words. These people are my friends, not my acolytes.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Fair enough. I just figured that since you posted it, you agreed with it. If not, that’s cool.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    Here is an apropos video of a gay woman who found freedom in Christ.. very cool. Hopefully someone reading this will find this testimony helps them. It’s really moving to see what Christ can do in someone’s life.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bozvwvlyPBE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkEfs4vzdQM&feature=related

  • L. Reese Cumming

    Good News: College Students Rally 4 Respect – The average college student – the vast majority – has no concept of the real world and how it plays its part in their lives or a successful culture. They are simply ripe and corruptable subjects for a university system that equally has no concept of the real world.

    To allow the emotional values of a teenager to dictate social traditions is an interesting way to run a culture.

  • http://dariusteichroew.blogspot.com Darius

    “To allow the emotional values of a teenager to dictate social traditions is an interesting way to run a culture.”

    Careful, L. Reese, you’ll get blocked for comments like that one. It’s VERY unloving. :)

  • Ben

    LRC,

    So you believe that it’s corrupt to be against physically assaulting people?

    Or did you just not read the article?

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  • L. Reese Cumming

    Ben – I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you saying that I believe it immoral or dishonest to be against physically asaulting people? If so, I’m not sure how this question applies to my comment. Can you expand please?

  • Ben

    I’m refering to your dismissive comment about Tony’s Rally For Respect link, which was about rallying against hate; specifically, in the attack against the Augsburg student.

    My point is just that I’m exasperated that we’ve got to the point where brutally beating people up is socially acceptable. Yes, assaults have always been happening in human history, right back to Cain’s murder of Abel, but there was a time when people who did these attacks were punished and shunned, and it was considered a good thing to be supportive of victims of attacks.

  • L. Reese Cumming

    Ben – Thanks for your response. I was not being dismissive to the cause. I was attempting to point out the responsibility that the mature man and woman has in addressing the issues of current society. It is a sad state of affairs when the youth has to point out society’s deficiency and not the adult. What is that telling us?

    Our youth is really not prepared to do this task, yet it seems no adult is willing to handle this matter.

    Your second paragraph is full of errors. It has never been acceptable, except in the limited range of written history with bias, that violence, disconnected from the survival of that culture, is socially acceptable. Your thought on people being punished or shunned is likewise merely a reflection of bias historical writing. Your looking through a window. Pointing out any one or many injustices is not to address the whole of the culture.

    Finally, your ending comment makes me think of the original virtues of man as God defined them, and its transition from the time before Jesus to modern society. We are living in the shadow of virtues, and as such we are left with children defining the virtues for us; for they are the only innocents, and the clock ticks for them just as it did for us in our youth. Today’s adult is an immature shell of humanity whose focus is on his property rather than his existence as a community; as a Church.

    Sorry for the hard suggestion, but idealism never resides in the real actions of God’s mission work. To affect man to a higher cause is to submit to the broken nature of man and deal with it.

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