Reflections on what we share in common

(This post from occasional contributor, clinical psychologist David Blakeslee, covers some similar territory as conservative gay blogger, GayPatriot on the Kevin Jennings controversy.) 

I have been a bit agitated lately, it is probably my own problem, but instead of being internally ruminative about such sensations I decided to find some object to focus these feelings on.  It didn’t take long, all I had to do was visit Warren’s blog .  There I could find a few outlandish assumptions, hypocritical comments and distortions of fact to justify ventilation.  Apparently that was not satisfactory enough, so I am writing this posting after a couple of years of absence (Warren, I don’t know how you do this day in and day out, your energy and integrity are deeply appreciated). 

Rationalization, minimization, and justification are not scientific arguments; they are psychological defenses to ward off anxiety.  Sometimes they are so effective that we feel quite calm when a grave injustice, which we should agonize about, has occurred.  Instead of tossing and turning at night, struggling with headaches and pacing the floor, we sleep quite soundly.  Sometimes they are so effective that the weak and the vulnerable are left without an outraged and strong protector; instead they get a philosopher, who through his mental games ends up functionally being a passive collaborator with a predator. 

Are gay teens vulnerable? Absolutely.

And just to whom are they vulnerable?

Some would have us believe that it is just the Christian right.  They conflate hate crimes with Christian opposition to gay behavior (Christians, by belief, are equal opportunity opposers to all sorts of sexual behavior, something that is easily forgotten in this debate–perhaps by design.  They have lost the argument about premarital sex; they have lost the argument about casual sex; they had lost the argument about extra-marital sex, but seem to have reclaimed some of that ground–oops, here come the polyamories).

I would argue that gay teens have much more to fear from adult sexual predators than they do from the Christianity.

The story of “Brewster” highlights this issue remarkably.  A lonely, searching 15 year old adolescent is seeking something as he wanders the streets of his home town late at night.  He finds an older man who willingly helps him sexualize his yearning (Nicolosi would make an easy interpretation of this).   It disrupts this child’s life academically, immediately.  As part of that adjustment, he seeks out a teacher at school.  The then teacher, now Obama appointee Kevin Jennings of the Office of Safe and Drug-free Schools, interprets this event (incompletely) as a problem of gay secrecy and isolation.  He repeats this interpretation and describes such children as “naïve” as he climbs the political and advocacy ladder for 20 plus years (he never supplements his interpretation).  His interpretation has some usefulness, but it is also politically and personally propels his career. 

A number of years ago Warren and I were working to correct flaws in the proposed Montgomery County sex education curriculum.   One of the studies we referred to was quite remarkable; it correlated teen sex with increased rates of depression and suicidal thoughts.   It seems that sex, for some adolescents, is destabilizing and correlates with despair, even when it is with peers.  The study did not examine “age-discrepant” sexual relationships.

Do some adults recognize this vulnerability? Yes, and many respond with alarm, compassion and heightened supervision.

Do some exploit this vulnerability?  Absolutely, and in the past, outraged adults wrote laws to protect such children who are manipulated into entering into “consensual” sexual acts with “age discrepant” partners.

When sexual exploitation of minors does occur, some wish to enforce the law as a means of both protecting the child from further acts by the perpetrator; but also validate to the victim that they deserved supervision and care from this adult, not sexual exploitation.

But others begin to engage in an odd dance of rationalization, minimization and justification.  They use words like “consensual” and they begin to focus obsessively and curiously on how close the victim’s age is to the age of consent.  Perhaps they wish to establish how old the child looked.  Or that the child never should have been in that location, unsupervised by their parents.  Some argue that such outcomes are an unavoidable casualty of an isolated, marginalized community that has few public figures to act as mentors for gay youth (The Sam Adams, Portland Mayor, manipulation)

Kevin Jenning’s error is profound.  Gay children and adolescents are at risk due to his profound, enduring lack of outrage at how an older gay man shamelessly exploited an isolated, vulnerable gay youth, whatever his exact age.  Kevin never “got it.”  It is not a defect due to his being gay that kept him from understanding this, it was a profound defect in his ability to empathize with that adolescent completely and accurately.  It makes him a poor choice for the leadership position he now holds.

It is the same defect exhibited by Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Allen and others in the case of Roman Polanski (then age 44) and Samantha Geimer (then age 13).  If Samantha or her 2009 equivalent comes to a teacher and describes an event similar to Brewster’s, will Jennings counsel teachers to interpret this as being due to minority related issues (that we need more women in teaching positions)?  If a Muslim adolescent is exploited by a Muslim adult in the deep South, will Jennings argue that this is due to Muslim isolation and minority status?

Or will he reach to a common bond between men and women, gay and straights; a bond that goes across cultures, across ethnic groups and across religions.  Sexual exploitation by adults of adolescents is wrong…first, last, and always.  It is a primary concern to creating “safe schools” where teachers are all too often perpetrators.   Protecting adolescents from sexual exploitation: it is a common bond that both heterosexual and homosexual children and their parents share.

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  • Mary

    Sexual exploitation by adults of adolescents is wrong…first, last, and always.

    Yep – it is. And that should be it – but I think i have read on some gay sites that they are not happy with the whole Jennings thing either and they are calling for his resignation – could be wrong but think I had a glimpse a couple fo hours ago.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    It certainly does look as if we are living in the era of “rationalization, minimization, and justification.” We’ve gone off the deep end where sexuality is concerned.

  • Ann

    Rationalization, minimization, and justification are not scientific arguments; they are psychological defenses to ward off anxiety. Sometimes they are so effective that we feel quite calm when a grave injustice, which we should agonize about, has occurred. Instead of tossing and turning at night, struggling with headaches and pacing the floor, we sleep quite soundly. Sometimes they are so effective that the weak and the vulnerable are left without an outraged and strong protector; instead they get a philosopher, who through his mental games ends up functionally being a passive collaborator with a predator.

    David,

    I had the pleasure of meeting Eddy while I was back east last month. He is really a terrific man with a great sense of humor, great intellect, handsome, kind, and engaging. I was telling him how much I admired you and the things you write. The above contribution is a perfect example of why I think the way I do. Thank you for not backing away from all that is good and right, especially when it comes to the vulnerable.

  • David Blakeslee

    Thanks Ann.

  • hazemyth

    Christians, by belief, are equal opportunity opposers to all sorts of sexual behavior, something that is easily forgotten in this debate–perhaps by design.

    I don’t think Christian attitudes regarding sex are forgotten. There’s a fundamental difference in paradigm between the Christian attitudes expressed above and a gay-affirmative perspective. in the latter, homosexuality is not a behavior but an identity. One differentiates between a person’s sexual orientation, as an unconscious, hardwired aspect of that person’s nature, and a person’s conscious choices and behaviors. From that perspective, Christian prohibitions apply to certain of the sexual behaviors of straight people and all of the sexual behaviors of gay people, and therefore are not ‘equal opportunity’.

    I’m not really seeking to start a debate about which of these perspectives is valid. The above post simply highlighted, for me, how fundamentally different people’s thinking on the subject can be.

  • Joseph

    I am so moved by the great concern that Warren and David are showing for Brewster! Obviously, they care a great deal about gay youth and I would never believe that their sudden concern over a single 22-year old conversation would be politically motivated.

    Please Warren and David, do tell all of the wonderful things you have been doing to protect vulnerable gay youth since 1987. Speaking of exploitation, Warren, were you trying to convert gay teens against their will in 1987?

  • Ann

    Joseph – you sound like someone who has just chosen to take a reprieve from posting here. Please do tell us all the wonderful things you have been doing to protect vulnerable gay youth since 1987 or more recently and for how long.

  • Joseph

    Ann:

    I’d be happy to tell you, but before I do, let me point out why your attempt at a retort fails. Unlike Warren and David, I am not strutting and clucking like a mother hen making a great show of concern for “Brewster”. We know virtually nothing about Brewster, the man he was with for one night 22 years ago, or the 15 minute conversation he had with a 24-year old teacher the next day. The only thing we do know is that he was of legal age and that he has publicly stated that he benefited from and appreciated his teacher’s involvement. Given this, when David Blakeslee suddenly discovers his great concern over gay youth and their “exploitation” – which is what he calls consensual sex between legal adults – it is fair to call him out on his own conduct vis a vis gay youth.

    And now, since you asked, I was a gay youth in 1987. And I can tell you that it was a very isolating experience. You were in danger every day of exposure, with the potential for social isolation, ridicule, harassment, and physical violence. And I can also tell you that I don’t recall ever reading or hearing about a Warren Throckmorton or a David Blakeslee engaged in any outreach or assistance for gay youth. Nor will you find their names on any donor lists for gay youth shelters or educational programs like Hetrick-Martin. To the extent self-described “Christians” played any role in my devleopment, it was only to increase my fear, misery and self-loathing. And now they are “helping” by shedding crocodile tears via the internet for “Brewster” 22 years after he had consensual legal sex.

    Fortunately, I survived the difficult world created by the kind of people who populate this site and ultimately thrived, helping friends along the way who had been tossed out of their homes as well as working with several groups that provide services to youth. In all that time, I have never met a church-going Christian who was actually helping gay youth with their time, energy and money. Instead, we get haughty, self-righteous internet posts pounded out on a keyboard whilst the author sits on his behind.

    So there you have it. So nice of you to ask.

    I am still waiting to hear if Warren Throckmorton was engaged in conversion therapy with gay youth in 1987.

  • carole

    @Joseph,

    Fortunately, I survived the difficult world created by the kind of people who populate this site and ultimately thrived,

    You may have “survived” but your words and tone illustrate that you are not “thriving.”

    Unfortunately, you don’t get it that your vitriol contributes to making the world “difficult.”

    Maybe a little backtracking in the posts will illustrate to you that both Warren and David are thoughtful, fair men.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ hazemyth,

    Point well taken; and I think a debate worthy to be had…especially for illumination purposes.

    Maybe in another time.

    @ Joseph,

    1987…Just finishing up my doctoral studies. In 1984 I had worked with an SSA student in a public school, as a Christian I made no statements about my beliefs, supported him in his mental health (unrelated to his SSA)…good working relationship. Honored to be of service.

    Jennings may have done all that he should have at the time…hearing him comment about exploitation of gay teens since 1987 (with Brewster in mind) would have been encouraging.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    In all that time, I have never met a church-going Christian who was actually helping gay youth with their time, energy and money.

    Joseph, have you “met” Andrew Marin of The Marin Foundation, one Christian who has broken out of the mold to do, perhaps, what you are looking for?

    I believe Warren’s Golden Rule Pledge as a response to the Day of Silence/Day of Truth is one way in which he is seeking to help gay youth in public schools today, FWIW.

    You carry the bitterness that many gays seem to have today, and I’m sure you feel justified in your own “righteous” anger. Have you chosen to find constructive ways to bring your side to the table, realizing that the average straight person is ignorant of what it means to grow up gay? Isn’t there plenty of duplicity within the gay community that demands an accounting, too?

    What does “helping” gay youth look like to you? Do people like me who help strugglers who (gasp!) actually do not want to acquiesce to their same-sex attractions count? For that matter, do women count? I have helped at least one teenager who fit that description.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    One of the things we all ought to share in common is the understanding that a person serving in a high-level government post — especially one meant to oversee the safety of school children — ought to be well-versed in all the issues facing said children.

    Iowa Congressman Steve King asks us to consider that Kevin Jennings is only one-issue focused, based on his record so far:

    King says Jennings has no background in anti-drug work, and his experience in education has focused not on the issue of school safety but on introducing the topic of homosexuality into the classroom, including in elementary schools. “The totality of his life has been the promotion of homosexuality, and much of it within education,” says King. “He has focused on nothing else during the last two decades, and that is not the focus that our schools need to be on.”

    A comprehensive examination of Jennings’ record rather than merely dithering over the Brewster incident, which Jennings himself has strangely convoluted with his own anecdotes, would be in order. Is King right? Can Jennings deal with drug-related issues or other “safety” concerns in the schools beyond GLBT youth bullying or — and this is also cogent — mental health issues? Are his qualifications one-dimensional, his activism aside?

    Another thing that has bothered me is that no one seems to be pointing out that the mere title of Jennings’ 1994 book, “One Teacher in Ten,” is a sham in itself. If he means us to believe that one teacher in 10 is gay, that’s poppycock, and a throwback to the long-debunked Kinsey/Kameny 10 percent fairy tale, which Kameny admitted to. Jennings is, then, dishonest in more ways than one. To the extent that this controversy allows his book title to be thrown around, it is PR for gay rights that all media (save the gay press) are ignorantly complicit in.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Joseph: In 1987, I was in grad school and starting my first private practice. I had no gay clients at the time. Rural Southern Ohio was probably a very difficult place to be for gay people so I was not aware of many out gay people. I can appreciate that even at liberal Concord Academy, it would have been a risk to involve protective services or seek consultation from medical and/or legal authorities. However, that is exactly what Kevin Jennings said he should have done and I am glad to hear it. Whether Media Matters’ Brewster did what Jennings said he did or not, I do not know. However, we do know now that Mr. Jennings either had second thoughts or he engaged in a duplicitous effort to keep his job. If he had second thoughts, I do not know why his defenders are now engaged in a fervent attempt to reverse his own words.

    Also, Joseph, my approach does not seek to “convert” gays.

  • Pathia

    Warren,

    I believe he was asking if you had conducted conversion therapy in the past, not whether or not you do it now.

  • Ann

    Unlike Warren and David, I am not strutting and clucking like a mother hen making a great show of concern for “Brewster”. We know virtually nothing about Brewster, the man he was with for one night 22 years ago, or the 15 minute conversation he had with a 24-year old teacher the next day. The only thing we do know is that he was of legal age and that he has publicly stated that he benefited from and appreciated his teacher’s involvement. Given this, when David Blakeslee suddenly discovers his great concern over gay youth and their “exploitation” – which is what he calls consensual sex between legal adults – it is fair to call him out on his own conduct vis a vis gay youth.

    Joseph,

    I believe David Blakeslee and Dr. Throckmorton have a great concern over the exploitation and/or rationalization of adult men and /or women having sex with teenagers – not just this incident regarding Brewster. I also do not believe it is a sudden concern with either one of them, rather an ongoing concern that is incorporated into their work and spiritual involvement with people we will probably never know about and rightly so. Starting from that premise it is not unusual for any person to voice a concern about a man who not only withheld information from authorities regarding the potential danger Brewster could have encountered but also gave him adult advice regarding the continuence of the dangerous activity. I am glad Brewster is still alive to rationalize this incident now as an adult – many are not. Kevin Jennings needs to get in front of a camera and tell America (not just special interest groups) his interpretation of what happend, tell us in consistent detail what he did then that he would not do now, and his plans/commitment to put forth a mandate for all school advisors to not make the same mistake he did. If he does all that he will be clean and eligible for the job he was appointed for – at least for me.

    And now, since you asked, I was a gay youth in 1987. And I can tell you that it was a very isolating experience. You were in danger every day of exposure, with the potential for social isolation, ridicule, harassment, and physical violence. And I can also tell you that I don’t recall ever reading or hearing about a Warren Throckmorton or a David Blakeslee engaged in any outreach or assistance for gay youth. Nor will you find their names on any donor lists for gay youth shelters or educational programs like Hetrick-Martin. To the extent self-described “Christians” played any role in my devleopment, it was only to increase my fear, misery and self-loathing. And now they are “helping” by shedding crocodile tears via the internet for “Brewster” 22 years after he had consensual legal sex.

    Much has changed since 1987. I am not sure what you expected Christians or Muslims or Jews or any other ordinary or extroidinary individual with or without a commited religious belief to do for you. Were you any different from a young man who is homeless because his family has no money for shelter? Were you any different from a young woman kicked out of her home because she is pregnant and refused to have an abortion and is now ostracized from her home and school and church? Were you any different from the prostitute (male or female) who is living on the streets and are constantly abused and feels hopeless and full of self loathing? We do not need a religious identity to help people in need. I believe Debbie gave you some very good advice about the Marin Foundation.

    Fortunately, I survived the difficult world created by the kind of people who populate this site and ultimately thrived, helping friends along the way who had been tossed out of their homes as well as working with several groups that provide services to youth. In all that time, I have never met a church-going Christian who was actually helping gay youth with their time, energy and money. Instead, we get haughty, self-righteous internet posts pounded out on a keyboard whilst the author sits on his behind.

    I applaud you for extending yourself to those in need. I would respectfully ask that you reconsider your last sentence – it sounds as though you are trying to get back at whoever you perceive has hurt you in the past and doing it vicariously through David and Warren and others . That keeps you suspended in time and energy that might feel good temporarily but has long lasting negative implications for evolvement. What do you need to hear to think differently? I am saying this because you will find that being attracted to the same gender is not an excuse for being unfair or assuming or rude or sarcastic or attacking in your communication. People will generally be good audiences when they feel a thoughtful and fair and mature exchange with another, not the target of one’s cruelty. I feel you have important things to say so please say them in a way that they are received thoughtfully and with consideration from the listener/reader. People will listen if they don’t feel attacked unless that is what you want to do, and if so, that is ok too. It is really just a choice we all have to make when we interact with others.

  • Eddy

    Pathia-

    Joseph asked:

    Speaking of exploitation, Warren, were you trying to convert gay teens against their will in 1987?-

    Then he repeated:

    I am still waiting to hear if Warren Throckmorton was engaged in conversion therapy with gay youth in 1987.

    Warren answered:

    Joseph: In 1987, I was in grad school and starting my first private practice. I had no gay clients at the time.

    For that reason, your latest comment confuses me. If Warren ‘had no gay clients at the time’, doesn’t it follow that he wasn’t ‘trying to convert gay teens against their will in 1987′? Am I missing something here?

  • Michael Bussee

    Unfortunately, you don’t get it that your vitriol contributes to making the world “difficult.”

    I am beginning to agree with Carole, here. Even though anger against what some see as “anti-gay” attitudes and actions may be justified, I am beginning to realize that it does little good.

    It seems obvious after awhle that “they” (the people you are angry with) don’t really care how righteously mad we are, no matter how much we complain and object.

    I think the best approach is for us to stop arguing and defending ourselves and just get on with it. Ann and Debbie have expressed similar advice — to let go of the vitriol. To just live and let live. To take responsibilty for ourselves and quit blaming others — even if the blame is well-deserved. I find this hard to do, but I am making progress.

    The good news is that there is less need for it (anger) anymore. In terms of social attitudes against gays, we are winning the culture war. We have much to be proud of. Time to celebrate!

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    To take responsibilty for ourselves and quit blaming others — even if the blame is well-deserved.

    I do agree with that, Michael, although the “live and let live” may be taken differently by different folks. Some will see that as a disengaging or apathetic stance. Engaging is called for in some regards, but vitriol, as you suggest, is not generally productive. We all need to be honest enough to own our responsibility for the culture war. Sadly, as we have been discussing for days now, many young folks have become collateral damage in that war.

  • Ann

    It seems obvious after awhle that “they” (the people you are angry with) don’t really care how righteously mad we are, no matter how much we complain and object.

    Michael,

    I care and always have and always will. I care about any and all human dignity and injustices. The point I am making is that rarely will these concerns be heard if they are being communicated in a caustic manner with the intent to cite or enrage the reader or listener. People tend to get caught up in the attitudes behind the words rather than the words themselves. Eventually the words have no meaning because no one hears them – they just hear the attitudes. You have set a very good example of how to communicate, even on the most touchy subjects, with intelligence, a sense of humor, certitude tempered with humility, grace, an open heart and mind, and above all, a spirit filled attitude.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann, as usual, your observations are on target. I will take them to heart.

  • carole

    Anger or “righteous indignation” over what one believes is unjust and so offering an explanation of one’s thoughts and feelings is one thing, but what I read up above was a temper tantrum, bad enough in and of itself since a temper tantrum says much about how one places himself in relation to others…but was even worse since it took aim at people the writer obviously knows little or nothing about.

    And, it didn’t come from a chronological child.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    It doesn’t look as if Brewster’s defense of Jennings is gaining traction. Check this out.

  • Pathia

    Eddy,

    I was posting at the same time as Warren, his comment was not there when I was typing mine, look at the time stamps.

    Also, my question was more broad, not specific to 1987.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Anyone,

    What qualifies a person to comment on anything? Their humanity first, their experiences, second, their training, third…anything else?

    Joseph’s complaint seems to be an effort to silence discussion through asserting facts he neither knows or thought to ask prior to making his accusations.

    Part of controlling the conversation is excluding others from commenting based upon their values or their associations…or based upon pure accusations.

    By the way, what kind of science does Jennings use to bolster his arguments about make schools safer for GLBT children?

    Is it superior to the science of NARTH?

    Is it superior to the science of Yarhouse and Jones?

    Or does it have many of the flaws, unacknowledged, that advocacy groups use to effect public policy?

    If it is flawed, how will that effect the potentially positive impact that Jennings would wish to have in his new government position?

  • David Blakeslee

    Perhaps we can put our heads together and compare the flaws of the GLSEN 2007 survey

    http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/library/record/2340.html?state=research&type=research

    and the NARTH journal we dissected two months ago.

    If it is about truth…its about truth.

    (forgive the tautology).

  • Michael Bussee

    I care and always have and always will. I care about any and all human dignity and injustices.

    Ann, I know that you do care. I believe all of the frquent commentators here do care about gay people as people. I did not mean to suggest that anyone here devalues gays as fellow children of God.

    Some would just like to see the “life-dominating sin”, the “sexual brokeness”, the “psychological disorder” be erradicated, because they believe that gayness is always contrary to good health and Divine design — but they still care about the people who suffer from it. It is possible to love the sinner… (you know the rest of it).

  • Ann

    I believe all of the frquent commentators here do care about gay people as people. I did not mean to suggest that anyone here devalues gays as fellow children of God.

    Some would just like to see the “life-dominating sin”, the “sexual brokeness”, the “psychological disorder” be erradicated, because they believe that gayness is always contrary to good health and Divine design — but they still care about the people who suffer from it. It is possible to love the sinner… (you know the rest of it).

    Michael,

    I understand what you are saying. All people have developed a belief system and few like to have it challenged. We must remember that it is only a belief – what one person staunchly believes might not have any meaning for another. Just look at the religions of the world and how the people who identify with them live according to those beliefs. What is an unwavering belief for one religion is meaningless to another. Some people are willing to die for their beliefs. The thing to understand is that they are just that – beliefs – we can either agree with them or not agree with them. I know what is in my heart as far as my beliefs, however, I cannot coerce anyone into believing the same way. The last time I went to Israel was on a mission trip to bring holocaust survivors from the Ukraine to their homeland. It was a moving and profound experience that I treasure up in my heart. It is my belief that this was right and good and brought glory to God and fulfilled scripture. Many of my friends still cannot understand my involvement in this – it is something they cannot relate to, therefore they find fault with it. I cannot understand why they cannot understand what I believe so strongly. The only way to reconcile my frustration is by understanding that they have one set of core beliefs and I have another.

    To specifically address your concern and comments though – one thing that comes to mind regarding how some people view homosexuality in a less favorable way than heterosexuality is because so many same gender attracted individuals have regarded it the same way. They no longer keep silent about it. They are now questioning this aspect of themselves that they do not value and do not want to identify with. With this information, the response from others has been to view it in the same way. I know this can be a fine line and there will always be the question about what came first – the unacceptance by others or the unacceptance of this aspect of oneself. Either way, it really comes down to what we believe and how willing we are to be either unwavering or flexible with those beliefs and be confident/content enough in our beliefs to allow others to have their own beliefs and hopefully learn from and respect each other.

  • Ann

    Some would just like to see the “life-dominating sin”, the “sexual brokeness”, the “psychological disorder” be erradicated, because they believe that gayness is always contrary to good health and Divine design

    Michael,

    Please forgive me if I am being redundant – when you say “some”, are you referring to people who experience unwanted same gender attractions and see it the way you just described or those who do not experience same gender attractions and have these opinions about it? Or, are you referring to both?

  • Michael Bussee

    Both. I really appreciate your comments, above.

  • Eddy

    Pathia–

    Even further confused I am.

    Warren,

    I believe he was asking if you had conducted conversion therapy in the past, not whether or not you do it now.

    You are clearly clarifying Joseph’s question AND you seem to be suggesting that Warren missed the gist of it. (‘he asked this not this’).

    But now you say that you aren’t referencing Warren’s comment to Joseph that was posted just prior to yours…

    Eddy,

    I was posting at the same time as Warren, his comment was not there when I was typing mine, look at the time stamps.

    BUT, Warren only posted once within this thread…the response I referenced but that you say wasn’t the one you were referring to.

    Color me confused. Were you clarifying Joseph’s question for Warren before Warren ever addressed it at all? Joseph specifically said 1987 several times even as he rephrased his question but you concluded “I believe he was asking if you had conducted conversion therapy in the past, not whether or not you do it now.”

  • David Blakeslee

    It is an interesting assumption that some in the gay community make that psychotherapists who work with folks with unwanted same sex attractions either are or have been conversion or reorientation therapists…

  • Michael Bussee

    It is an interesting assumption that some in the gay community make that psychotherapists who work with folks with unwanted same sex attractions either are or have been conversion or reorientation therapists…

    Why is that interesting? Or surprising? I have a feeling that few folks in the “gay community” know there is a difference – since many of these therapists seem to share the belief that gayness is both unhealhty and contrary to God’s design. How are we to know which therapists are which?

    Those therapists who promote “identity” and lifestyle change over sexual reorientation have not made their case very clear. People assume it’s all coming from the same gay-non-affirming mindset — that gays should and can become straight, that homosexuality is both in need of and possible to change.

  • http://someguysarenormal.blogspot.com Brady

    To specifically address your concern and comments though – one thing that comes to mind regarding how some people view homosexuality in a less favorable way than heterosexuality is because so many same gender attracted individuals have regarded it the same way. They no longer keep silent about it. They are now questioning this aspect of themselves that they do not value and do not want to identify with.

    Ann- pardon me for breaking into this discussion, but this comment caught my attention. My question to you regarding this is whether this is a new phenomenon or not. The statment that “they no longer keep silent about it” makes it sound like it’s a new phenomenon for some same-sex attracted people to question their attractions. To me it seems to have been the case for quite a while, and only recently are we seeing a generation of gay folkls that never deal with this questioning of their sexuality and/or sexual identity.

    The phenomenon hardly seems new to me, though. What actually seems new is the opposite- that for more gays these days than decades ago don’t go through this phase of questioning. As acceptance of homosexuality spreads, the number of people that grow up accepting their gayness (and therefore never questioning it as something they do not want) seems to be growing as well. The question of “which came first”– seems to have a front-runner for an answer if you ask me.

    Back to your point, and Michael’s issue, though. The problem with the “life-dominating sin, “sexual brokenness,” etc. philosophy, even from those that truly value gay people and gay lives, is that that worldview and the worldview of the self-accepting gay person are worlds apart.

    The problem with the message, for me, is that when I am accepting my own sexuality, it’s a belief that is opposed to the other side. I accept that being gay is ok and the other side believes it is not. But my belief system isn’t implying that the “sexually broken” worldview is disordered–it’s just saying that that idea isn’t something I agree with.

    But when turned the other way around–the “sexually broken” philosophy isn’t just saying it’s disagreeing with the viewpoint that thinks being gay is ok, at the same time it’s assaulting that idea altogether by either implying or stating outright that not only do the ideas not agree, but the other is inherently disordered, contrary to God, etc., which is why I think the outrage (often over the top) from the gay camp towards the other camp is so heated. They are often feeling attacked, even if it’s not inentional. When someone is told there is something wrong with them, it’s easy to be defensive.

  • Michael Bussee

    Brady, excellent observations! I really thought these were particularly insightful:

    As acceptance of homosexuality spreads, the number of people that grow up accepting their gayness (and therefore never questioning it as something they do not want) seems to be growing as well.

    The “sexually broken” philosophy…(is) implying or stating outright the other is inherently disordered, contrary to God, etc., which is why I think the outrage (often over the top) from the gay camp towards the other camp is so heated. They are often feeling attacked, even if it’s not inentional. When someone is told there is something wrong with them, it’s easy to be defensive.

  • Michael Bussee

    As David pointed out, kids are vulnerable to predators. I think gay teens might be more prone to victimization if they grow up believing that they are damaged or sinful. I think gay teens with healthy self-esteem might be less vulnerable.

    Didn’t the boy in this story tell the teacher that he didn’t think that life as a gay kid was worth living? Where did he learn that? Predators may have an easier job thanks to anti-gay attitudes fostered by some “religious” and non-religious folk. “If I am damaged anyway, what difference does it make? At least this man seems to care…”

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    Predators may have an easier job thanks to anti-gay attitudes fostered by some “religious” and non-religious folk. “If I am damaged anyway, what difference does it make? At least this man seems to care…”

    I think this assessment is a little too simplistic.

    Adolescent nihilism (an outgrowth of mood instability, identity fluctuations and a search for meaning) is present in gay’s, straights, emo’s and so on…

    Brewster’s high risk behaviors and nihilism are often seen in adolescents generally.

  • Ann

    My question to you regarding this is whether this is a new phenomenon or not.

    Brady,

    No, I do not think it is a new phenomenon for an individual to question how to respond to their unwanted same gender attractions and desires.

  • Ann

    emo’s

    funny! :-)

  • David Blakeslee

    …that is one of the reasons I am very concerned with using anecdotal information to shape public policy, it is highly emotionally charged, easily manipulated and tends to focus more on a narrow agenda rather than….

    THINGS WE SHARE IN COMMON…that are tied to scientific rigor.

    The broad story of Brewster is of adolescent identity, lack of support, high risk behaviors; the need for supervision and for accurate information…

    Developing an intrinsic value system that cares well for himself and makes him of service to the community would be nice too.

  • Eddy

    Let’s apply this most recent logic to the back half of Jennings new job appointment:

    “Pushers may have an easier job thanks to anti-drug attitudes fostered by some ‘religious’ and non-religious folk. “If I am damaged anyway, what difference does it make? At least this man seems to ‘get me’.”

    Yup, it sure would be easy to blame just about everything on this nebulous group of ‘some ‘religious’ and non-religious folk.’ Let’s just forget about the fact that there’s no established cause and effect and simply mull on the notion that there’s a weak but plausible connection.

  • Michael Bussee

    I think this assessment is a little too simplistic. Adolescent nihilism (an outgrowth of mood instability, identity fluctuations and a search for meaning) is present in gay’s, straights, emo’s and so on…

    David, I did not mean to imply that anti-gay sentiment was the only factor that might contirbute to gay teen vulnerability and nihilism– but I think it plays a big part.

    What I was getting at was that there seem to be two camps:

    Camp 1: those who believe that gays may be more prone to depression due to something intrinsically disordered, sick or immoral about being gay and

    Camp 2: those who believe that gays may be more prone to depression, vulnerability and low self-esteem because of what they have been raised to believe by Camp 1.

    I know that other factors may contribute, but I think those in Camp 1 tend to de-emphasize the role that they themselves play (by the attitudes they directly and indeirectly pass on to gay kids) in contributing to the mood instability, identity problems and sense of meaninglessness of gay kids.

    Camp 1 seems to be saying: “We don’t make gay kids sad by teaching that they are broken — of course they are unhappy! It’s because they are broken…”

  • Michael Bussee

    Before someone beats me to it, I think there are negative aspects of what some call the “gay -lifestyle” that also play a part in gay teen vulernability and nihilism — alcohol and drug abuse, the impersonality of bar life, the promotion of sex as sport, the worship of youth and virility, etc. (Of course, those things are not strictly “gay”.)

    I do not mean to say that “the gay community” bears no responsibility at all in contributing to the emptiness many gay teens may experience — just that I think we should not let “Camp 1″ off the hook easily. Fact is, we all need to do a better job.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    Poor attunement to the developmental writhings of adolescence is a general problem with some adults…regardless of the specific adolescent difficulties. It should not be placed at the feet of fundamentalist Christians alone…or be limited to SSA youth.

    Placing this at the feet of fundamentalist Christians is worthwhile (we are called by Christ to draw people to Him by the way we love eachother)…but there are a number of things that fundamentalists get “wrong” about this developmental stage…

    Acting out in adolescence generally is viewed by fundamentalists as destructive, selfish, sinful and broken…they set limits, boundaries in an effort to draw attention to the destructive choices being made by the adolescent.

    Sometimes there is no repair; it is not a “stage”, it is a sign of chronic adaptation to PTSD, Borderline Personality or narcissism. These are frightening lives for parents to watch unfold.

    It takes a lot of work for those with SSA to form a healthy life in this context; it is an added mystifying path. Heterosexual acting out adolescents can refer to themselves as “prodigal sons” and return home…But SSA youth from fundamentalist homes have a very difficult path to choose: construct a healthy, life affirming identity that is at odds in one specific and powerful way from a church community who otherwise would want to honor creating a healthy, life affirming identity.

    Julie Herron-Hamilton (Narth Past President) has struggled with a family member’s struggle in this area. Part of the reason for her work is related to her awareness of how alienating the Church can be to SSA Christians.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael

    alcohol and drug abuse, the impersonality of bar life, the promotion of sex as sport, the worship of youth and virility, etc. (Of course, those things are not strictly “gay”.)

    Thanks for saying it…adolescents are generally vulnerable to these factors…we have much common ground in protecting them during this vulnerable developmental stage…and in keeping them away from “false mentors.”

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Eddy,

    I remember reading somewhere that kids who have a religious identity are innoculated against drug and alcohol abuse and this effect is even stronger than SES factors (poor kids who were religious were less likely to use drugs than rich kids who were not religious).

    Religion, generally, is grossly misunderstood by the popular media, political advocacy groups and the social sciences.

    It is largely adaptive…generally helpful. We damage the general usefulness of the institution when we make simplistic comments about specific issues and then globalize the condemnation to religion.

    It is like criticizing marriage, public school, government et cetera…easy marks because they are so pervasive and large institutions.

  • Michael Bussee

    It (the blame) should not be placed at the feet of fundamentalist Christians alone…or be limited to SSA youth.

    Agreed. I just react when some Christians seem to shrug off any responsibiiity. Who us? Make gay kids feel bad about themselves? Not us! We are only saying they are psychologically disordered, broken, sinful and bound for hell if they don’t stop. Why should that upset them?

  • Michael Bussee

    It is largely adaptive…generally helpful. We damage the general usefulness of the institution when we make simplistic comments about specific issues and then globalize the condemnation to religion.

    I agree. Not trying to blame only “religion”. I just want the ‘religious” to examine their own hearts and behavior to see if and how they might contribute to the damage.

  • Eddy

    I think there are negative aspects of what some call the “gay -lifestyle” that also play a part in gay teen vulernability and nihilism — alcohol and drug abuse, the impersonality of bar life…

    Why and or how would ‘the impersonality of bar life’ play a part in ‘gay teen vulnerability and nihilism?

    I’m sorry, but if I had made the above statement, I’d have been called to task for saying “gay lifestyle” (even with the use of the qualifier) and for suggesting that teens have somehow been exposed to bar life. Can anyone elaborate on how ‘the impersonality of bar life’ plays a part in teen vulnerability and nihilism?

  • Mary

    And does anyone notice that teens are not supposed to go into bars? That in itself speaks volumes.

    Yeah – and if I said the samething I would be taken to task for it.

    As well.

  • Eddy

    Sorry folks but I feel like we’re hiding behind vacuous statements:

    I just want the ‘religious” to examine their own hearts and behavior to see if and how they might contribute to the damage.

    That sounds amazing…except it’s justifying comments made in a conversation where the ‘religious’ who are present seem to do their fair share of soul-searching and heart examination. And I’m amazed that every conversation has to turn to the problems that the ‘religious’ have. There seems to be an assumption that we aren’t challenging bigotry, self-righteousness and hypocrisy in our churches and other contacts. I can tell from what I read from the ‘religious’ folks here that, without exception, they seek to expose and challenge bigotry, self-righteousness and hypocrisy–especially when gay people are the victims of it. Why, then, do we need the reminder?

  • Mary

    You know there are a lot of religious christian people out here in the real world who do not go about bashing gays etc…. We are getting a bad wrap from those few who yell the loudest. And I AM TIRED OF APOLOGIZING FOR BEING EX GAY AND CHRISTIAN

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    It takes a lot of work for those with SSA to form a healthy life in this context; it is an added mystifying path. Heterosexual acting out adolescents can refer to themselves as “prodigal sons” and return home…But SSA youth from fundamentalist homes have a very difficult path to choose: construct a healthy, life affirming identity that is at odds in one specific and powerful way from a church community who otherwise would want to honor creating a healthy, life affirming identity.

    Probably those who have been prodigals in both senses — ask me — only truly understand that the one path is not so different from the other, whether it’s SSA or other (hetero) junk you are dealing with. If faith makes it seem impossible on the one hand, it also opens the only door on the other. A Christ-affirming identity (is that fundamentalism?) ushers in the love that covers a multitude of sins. True freedom. Abundant life.

    “Ye have not because ye ask not.”

    We have lots more straight unhappy and “broken” people in the world than we do gay ones. They don’t all run home to Daddy and get a robe, a ring and a fatted calf. Lots never come home.

  • Eddy

    Mary’s comments–while they relate to mine and may in fact have been encouraged by mine–are not mine. I made no insinuation that gay teens are being allowed in bars; I asked a question about what Michael meant. I believe there may be other explanations for the statement.

    And while I’m also frustrated by the incessant blaming of ‘religious’ folks, I’d prefer to reason it out rather than just shout my frustration.

  • Mary

    Fair enough Eddy. But the constant attack that you and I and others on this blog take for the whole mess of other folks is tiresome.

    Sorry – will try once again to temper myself.

  • Michael Bussee

    Boy. You guys took that personally. I wasn’t talking about you.

  • Michael Bussee

    I wasn’t attacking anyone. I am not asking anyone here to apologize for being Christian. Be proud of it. I am!

    I was only stating my opinion — that the “gayness is broken, disordered and sinful” message may — I repeat, MAY – play a part in the low opinion that some gay teens (and adults) have of themselves. Isn’t that a possibility? Do straight kids get that message about being heterosexual? Hardly.

    The “gay bar” comment had to do with the “lifestyle” that some gay teens may feel is the ONLY “gay lifestyle” available to them in their future– the one that does promote drinking, drugging and sex for sport. There is that gay “lifestyle” — the one that gets the most attention — and it is pretty dismal.

  • Michael Bussee

    It is largely adaptive…generally helpful. We damage the general usefulness of the institution when we make simplistic comments about specific issues and then globalize the condemnation to religion.

    I agree with David’s statement here. But sometimes — sometimes — the criticism of religion is well-deserved. Why do you think so many gay people recoil when “religion” is mentioned? Should we believe that their distaste for the “instituion” is just misplaced guilt for their “sin”?

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry for the mutliple posts. I just wanted to say “sorry” if I have given the impression that I think that all Christians are hurtful or that everything about being gay is hunky-dory. That would be simplistic. NIght.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    Children go through a variety of rites of passage when it comes to dating and sexuality. Being straight isn’t all that either. Just sat with a friends teenage daughter and listened to the ins and outs of boy/girl relationships in school. It is always hectic trying to grow up. Some people just like to gain sympathy because they are not straight. Teenage years are extremely tough on all.

  • Michael Bussee

    Not saying that stright teens have it easy. Saying that gay teens — who may have grown up hearing that their sexuality is always broken, sinful and disordered MAY have some trouble with self-esteem because of that message. Are you willing to concede that much?

  • Michael Bussee

    I know the message was tough on me. And on many of the men I counseled. I suspect that other gays (many) may have had similar trouble with that message. Do you think that message is harmless?

  • Mary

    MIchael,

    I will concede that there are still some parents and families who make it difficult for their children when it comes to sex and sexuality. But again, I think these kinds of people do not represent the the whole. The Jennings appt. has shown that we have come a long ways.

    As far as the message being harnful – well it depends on how it is delivered. I don’t blame a family or parent for trying to teach their children the values of their religion and faith. I do blame them for the cruelty of delivering a message in a soul damaging way. There are teens who get caught with porn, “show and tell”, incest etc… that get the same message from the same people delivered in the same cruel manner.

    When it comes to children and those with whom we nurture and care for, a soft touch but definitely direct communication and language is useful – depending on the person being spoken to.

    IE: If my niece were to tell me that she was experiencing SSA I would ask tons of questions first. I might (depending on the circumstances) share with her my struggles and that people can change. BTW, she is being raised a conservative christian. I would not tell her that she was broken or disordered. I would tell her that we all struggle with issues and as we grow find a way to integrate our struggles into our faith. I would never tell her she was “broken”. I would discuss issues of sin from many angles (if she felt it was a sin), and I would do all that I could to encourage her identity as a person (not as a lesbian) but the person on the whole.

    I know that one of my younger cousins had a difficult time in high school. She had a girlfriend, she was isolated in ways, being raised a Catholic and attending an all girls high school. She confided in me (although I already knew the circumstances from her mother) and we just spoke frankly over the years. She knew I had experienced lesbian relationships, she had lots of questions etc… I answered as honestly as I could, and assured her that I would love her no matter what decisions she made on her sexuality – save risky behavior. We have not talked much since her graduation from High School a few years ago but she has been dating men.

    So – while it is important to use language that is supportive, it is still valueable to keep one’s faith intact.

  • Eddy

    A parent can tell a child that ‘sex before marriage’ is sin…that using drugs is bad…that underage drinking is illegal and that living for the buzz of alcohol is bad and they don’t have other adults, in respected positions, monitoring their speech. They don’t have other adults saying in effect ‘your parents are confused but well-meaning bigots’.

    But with homosex, the word ‘sin’ has been challenged and continues to be challenged. “How dare you say that?! Are you calling me a sinner?” So ministries started using the gentler word ‘broken’–and with both words, tried very hard to keep perspective–reminding that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”–reminding that we live in a ‘fallen’ and ‘broken’ world–the very reason we need a redeemer. But that other message, the one that says it isn’t sin…that it isn’t broken…that message is so pervasive that it’s even being taught in state-sanctioned schools. What’s a parent who believes that it’s sin–that it’s a sin that takes a very strong lifestyle hold–what’s that parent to do or say?

    Those who believe that it’s NOT a sin suggest that since we’re not sure they should just keep silent–or, at the least, that they should say ‘this is what I believe but many others believe that it’s okay’. Oddly, though, they don’t employ the same open-minded approach. If THEY come across a ‘gay child’, do they give their message of affirmation AND SAY ‘by the way, there’s a great divide going on in the church, many churches and religious people–even some who seem to have clear heads and hearts–think that the Bible calls it ‘sin’ and that it isn’t God’s intended design’? (Jennings didn’t. In fact, Jennings didn’t seem to address any issues of morality…not Fleming’s age, not ‘wait for committment’, not ‘start with falling in love and THEN consider sex’…just ‘I hope you’re using a condom’.)

    Is there potential harm in calling it ‘sin’ or ‘broken’? Of course there is. It’s likely why the Bible doesn’t just say “Minister the truth” but ‘minister the truth in love. Now, let’s consider the reverse. Is it harmless to remain silent about the possibility that homosexual behavior might be sin…that it might not be God’s intent? Is it harmless to remain silent about the notion that a 15 or 16 year old–whether they identify as straight or gay–isn’t ready for committment so, by extension, isn’t ready for sex? (Interestingly, in one of the reports, Jennings was aware of this conundrum…”how do I tell him that the man he thinks he’s in love with probably doesn’t even remember his name”…but, on this point Jennings chose silence.)

    Pointing fingers and laying blame is one of the easiest and most natural things we humans do…it tends to take the focus off of the things that are lacking or inconsistent in the pointers and place that focus on the ‘pointee’. Yes, they have areas of lack and inconsistency too but I still puzzle why we always seem to be focussed on their lack and never seem to be able to focus on what’s lacking from the other side.

  • Eddy

    The “gay bar” comment had to do with the “lifestyle” that some gay teens may feel is the ONLY “gay lifestyle” available to them in their future– the one that does promote drinking, drugging and sex for sport. There is that gay “lifestyle” — the one that gets the most attention — and it is pretty dismal.

    I note the phrases ‘that does promote’ and ‘there is that gay “lifestyle”‘. Like before, if I’d have said that, I’d be lying bloodied on the ropes by now. Without qualifiers, this statement seems to say that, generally speaking, gay bars promote drinking, drugging and sex for sport. I know in my former city, one gay bar was famous (even among straights) for always ‘pouring a double’ and two others were noted for their ‘long pours’. Two had a reputation as places where you could readily score some pot. (They did share that reputation with a biker bar…) I’m wondering if this is one of those elusive differences in ‘lifestyle’ between gays and straights.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    But with homosex, the word ’sin’ has been challenged and continues to be challenged. “How dare you say that?! Are you calling me a sinner?” So ministries started using the gentler word ‘broken’–and with both words, tried very hard to keep perspective–reminding that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”–reminding that we live in a ‘fallen’ and ‘broken’ world–the very reason we need a redeemer. But that other message, the one that says it isn’t sin…that it isn’t broken…that message is so pervasive that it’s even being taught in state-sanctioned schools. What’s a parent who believes that it’s sin–that it’s a sin that takes a very strong lifestyle hold–what’s that parent to do or say?

    Spot on, Eddy, as were the rest of your comments.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    Should we believe that their distaste for the “institution” is just misplaced guilt for their “sin”?

    I think this conversation is about to get very difficult…we’ll see if we are up to the task as a group.

    What we share in common is our interest in protecting the weak and vulnerable, from a variety of risks:

    1. Sexual exploitation

    2. Improper Supervision

    3. Narcissistic Disgust

    @ Mary and Eddy,

    I think you are tracking the labeling of forbidden behavior from “sin” to “brokenness” as an act of compassion and tolerance and accommodation to GLBT concerns that the “Church” is hateful to those with SSA.

    At the root of this conversation is addressing the accusation that GLBT mental health issues are either:

    1. Due to the behavior itself

    2. Due to an oppressive culture

    Anyone who as been a victim of intense narcissistic disgust by a valued loved one or a cherished community will experience profound anxiety and may seek to identify with the group’s or individuals hatred of them in order to stabilize the relationship. Internalized hatred.

    Any behavior that is hedonistic, impulsive, and repetitive is likely to erode a person’s mental health over time. In the long run, it may be masochistic (a manifestation of self-loathing). During these behaviors the person may be openly hostile to correction (by friends and by the church).

    As I have worked with self-destructive people over the years, there is always a period where their behavior is discovered by others and confronted…That confrontation is often countered with the accusation: “you are trying to control me, lots of people do this, your no better than me, keep your religion out of my life.”

    The movement to de-stigmatize homosexual behavior in the larger culture may be similar to the movement 40 years ago to de-stigmatize heterosexual sex outside marriage and it’s consequences (children born to unwed mothers; std’s).

    One of the reasons why I am engaging in this lengthy conversation about how our culture will respond to GLBT demands is because of how poorly our culture has responded to the unstructuring of heterosexual behavior.

    Bad for kids…bad for women…costly for our schools and legal system.

    It is why I resent being called “anti-gay”…it is much too simplistic a label and seeks to end discussion and exploration by turning “stigma” on it’s ear.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    The movement to de-stigmatize homosexual behavior in the larger culture may be similar to the movement 40 years ago to de-stigmatize heterosexual sex outside marriage and it’s consequences (children born to unwed mothers; std’s).

    One of the reasons why I am engaging in this lengthy conversation about how our culture will respond to GLBT demands is because of how poorly our culture has responded to the unstructuring of heterosexual behavior.

    And that is a message worth “preaching,” David. Keep going.

  • Ann

    And that is a message worth “preaching,” David. Keep going.

    Amen!

  • Michael Bussee

    I guess if you really believe that gayness is an indication of psychological and/or spirtual brokeness — and if you really believe that gayness is harmful to the individual and society — you would have to believe that communicatiing that message to teens would be beneficial, not harmful, as long as the message is delivered lovingly.

    But if you believe as I do that it is not sin or illness, that being gay and living a healthy gay lifestyle is OK, then to communicate otherwise would be harmful.

    Of course, I think you guys are wrong on this. Just my opinion. But you have every right to believe it and to act on your beliefs. Still think you are huting gay kids when you send that message — even lovingly.

    Try telling a depressed gay kid that he most likely won’t marry, most likely will never be straight like his peers, that sex may be out of the question for him — unless it’s masturation — and that “freedom” from his gayness will be a lifelong struggle. That should cheer him right up.

  • http://someguysarenormal.blogspot.com Brady

    I guess if you really believe that gayness is an indication of psychological and/or spirtual brokeness — and if you really believe that gayness is harmful to the individual and society — you would have to believe that communicatiing that message to teens would be beneficial, not harmful, as long as the message is delivered lovingly.

    But if you believe as I do that it is not sin or illness, that being gay and living a healthy gay lifestyle is OK, then to communicate otherwise would be harmful.

    Great point, Michael!

  • Mary

    Michael,

    Follow Christ is not a salve to all things. Besides the sexual issues I’ve had, there are many others that seem to be ongoing within my christian walk.

    It is very depressing to think you won’t partner up with someone. That is a fact if you believe that homosexuality is a sin and that you put your faith before other things. But that is not the end of life. There is so much more.

    There are relationships beyond those that are sexual to provide fulfillment. And a focus beyond the immediate family or having children to find familia attachment and security.

    Lovingly, we all struggle with something that haunts us.

  • Mary

    Can someone direct me to passages in the bible that state God promises us a happy sexual life? I’m just curious if this is one of the promises.

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary, I understand, but I still think that’s a very depressing message for a kid to accept. How might a straight kid react if he got the same message?

    Your heterosexuality is an indication of something gone wrong, spiritually and psychologically. God does not approve of it. You must develop an idenity that renounces heterosexuality. You must never act on it — except in solo masturbation. Otherwise, it’s sin. If you keep acting on it, you may not have eternal life.

    No matter how lovingly that message is delivered, it has got to have a disheartening impact of a kid’s developing sense of self. How could it not?

  • Michael Bussee

    Can someone direct me to passages in the bible that state God promises us a happy sexual life? I’m just curious if this is one of the promises.

    No need looking. It’s not in there. Can anyone direct me to a passage that definitively tells us that gays must never have gay sex? No need. I already know those. And I believe they are misinterpreted and misapplied.

    So here we are. We will never agree on those passages. But if you believe they do prohibit all gay sex, I suppose you have to deliver that message. Just as if you believed that receiving transfusions was a sin you would have to communicate that. You have to say what you believe.

    But, believing as I do, I have to communicate that it is pscyhologically and spiritually OK to be gay and to live gay. For me, to communicate the opposite would be harming a child.

  • Mary

    Michael, That’s why you concluded to view faith and religion differently – to avoid that depressing message. And that is how some people will respond.

    I often equate some of the SSA issues with the many women throughout history who have been married off to men who did not satisfy them sexually (even if they were heterosexual) and most of all they did not love. This had been a practice for thousands of years. Somehow, people made it work. Partnerships and love developed and people continued to live their lives. Romantic love and marrying into that is a recent notion. And many men and women still marry for other reasons than romantic love.

    I truly think one of the issues that (in today’s society) we have trouble comprehending is that sexuality is supposed to always be romantic. We marry for the purpose of providing our opffspring with good genes, or opportunities. We marry to have our elderly parents taken care of, companionship, and other things. It is not always about sex. That it seems to be is a bonus.

    Now, I do support the rights of gays to get married for all the same reasons plus romantic love – just as others have that right. And I do believe that it is not God’s intended design to put two people of the same gender into a sexual relationship.

    Simply put Michael, people will always adjust their lives to fit their believes or dominating motivations. We just have come to different conclusions. Personally, I find mine much more fulfilling than yours. But that does not make it better or worse.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    Human beings are made for relational contact, to go without that close relational contact throughout one’s life is against God’s design….whether it is culminated sexually or not.

    My prayer if for your close emotional and relational support…another thing we share in common…

    I would hold that out as a wish for all SSA youth.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Try telling a depressed gay kid that he most likely won’t marry, most likely will never be straight like his peers, that sex may be out of the question for him — unless it’s masturation — and that “freedom” from his gayness will be a lifelong struggle.

    Why would we tell a kid that if we are trying to help him? Isn’t this a stark way of seeing things that we cannot know about another’s capacity for change?

    We have created a false Eden out of self-fulfillment and pleasure. Way over-rated, and not God-centered.

    Personally, I find mine (my life) much more fulfilling than yours. But that does not make it better or worse.

    I think what Mary was attempting to say is the life she lived before was not as fulfilling as the one she lives now, since none of us can really walk in another’s shoes. :)

  • Mary

    Thanks Debbie. That’s what I am trying to say – no’ one can walk in another person shoes. Why tell a kid some depressing news that may not even be his reality?

  • Michael Bussee

    Why would we tell a kid that if we are trying to help him? Isn’t this a stark way of seeing things that we cannot know about another’s capacity for change?

    Why indeed? But we need to be truthful, right? The likelihood is that the SSA kid won’t be straight, won’t marry heterosexually and that he will have a lifetime of struggle against his SSA.

    Isn’t part of loving a kid preparing him for the truth? What are you going to tell him if he asks — “Will I ever be normal? Will I ever be straight? Will I ever be able to have a romantic, loving, sexual, married relationship like straight kids?”

    “We cannot know, dear. Most likely, no.”? I really want to know. How would you answer those questions? I know how I would answer them.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    What are you going to tell him if he asks — “Will I ever be normal? Will I ever be straight? Will I ever be able to have a romantic, loving, sexual, married relationship like straight kids?”

    In a perfect world, we would be able to let him/her (again, you are thinking only of males) talk to a stellar representative of both the gay and ex-gay viewpoints. That would prevent hope from being tossed out of the equation at the outset.

    Ha, I just realized maybe women are generally more successful with change because they fly under the radar so much and haven’t had their expectations dashed as guys have by all the male-centric PR. If you want to know how true that might be, all you men ask yourself what your first thought was after reading that last sentence.

  • Eddy

    Why indeed? But we need to be truthful, right?

    Ah yes, the appeal for telling the whole truth. We DO need to be truthful! Which ought to take us off this detour focussing on the religious and back to Jennings. Did he tell the whole truth to Fleming? The dangers of going home with strangers. The dangers of being exploited sexually. The wisdom of refraining from sex outside of a committed relationship. The dangers and risks behind substance abuse. The recklessness of breaking school rules–serious ones.

    Yes, we DO need to be truthful. And when people who claim to be committed to telling the truth find themselves ‘holding back’, they need to examine why it is they held back. When that person is placed in a position of responsibility that involves the morals, values and safety of others, if they haven’t self-examined re why they held back, then WE need to demand that examination. Why? Because we need to be truthful!

  • Mary

    What ‘s so amazing that there are at least three people here stating that there is another way to live and that life is not dismal and depressing. And yet one person is insisting that this is the life of a person who experiences SSA. Huh?

    Okay – let’s go over that again. Three people stating that they have lives outside of the experience of SSA and each of us have experienced it differently. We seem to be for the most part – well adjusted, content etc… And then there is one other person who keeps insisting that thr truth is a “gay” person who does not act on their SSA feelings will lead a depressing life witouht fulfillment. What is the truth, I ask? What is the truth.

    The truth is that there are different experiences of SSA and they don’t all end up so dismal and gray asthat which Michael says is the truth.

    Who’s truth are we talking about – individuals who expereince life from different faith values and belief systems.

  • Mary

    I know we are to focus on the things we have in common – isn’t diversity one of those things, being attached to others emotionally, having a christian faith, etc…

  • http://someguysarenormal.blogspot.com Brady

    Eddy- point taken. He handled the situation incredibly innappropriately, regardless of the boys age. And, he has admitted to as much. At what point do we let an error like that drop? We’ve been far more lenient to far more people in public office in far higher places.

    If we were all punished for all of the mistakes we made all of our lives, even 20 years ago, the world would be a pretty sad place if you ask me.

    Mary- I’m glad all three of you have had good experiences with being ex-gay. You ask what the truth is. I agree, we should ask. I’m certainly not saying all ex-gay people live terrible, depressed lives. I talk online with a few that wouldn’t want anything different for their lives. But if we are telling the truth, shouldn’t we be open on all sides? That maybe your experience is the exception, not the norm? That maybe there are gay people that live full, happy lives and don’t feel disordered and whose religions don’t view them that way either?

  • Mary

    Brady,

    I did not say that gay people do not live full lives.

    It is a matter of religious values and faith. And I don’t think I am an excpetion to the norm. What change or lack thereof that is experoienced by those with SSA – does not mean that they will live depressed lives if they do not copulate with a person of their own gender – or at all.

    Gays and Exgays live fulfilling lives. It really depends on one’s perspective and faith foundations.

  • Michael Bussee

    And then there is one other person who keeps insisting that the truth is a “gay” person who does not act on their SSA feelings will lead a depressing life witouht fulfillment. What is the truth, I ask? What is the truth.

    Not saying that at all. I have no doubt that there are people who are more happy now than they were then.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    thanks for your perseverance in this thread.

    Shouldn’t we consider Yarhouse’s study of mixed orientation couples?

    Some SSA folks function adaptively and happily in heterosexual unions…if we were to be thoroughly truthful, we would have to include that data too!

    Regardless, people should not go without emotional and relational support.

  • Mary

    Then Michael – then it is also the truth that lives improve when some walk away from “embracing themselves as gay”?

  • Michael Bussee

    Then Michael – then it is also the truth that lives improve when some walk away from “embracing themselves as gay”?

    Sure, Mary. Never said they didn’t.

    Some SSA folks function adaptively and happily in heterosexual unions…if we were to be thoroughly truthful, we would have to include that data too!

    Yes, David, we would have to include that too. Where did you guys get the idea that I believed that any person who “walked away” from a “gay identity” or “gay lifestyle” must therefore be miserable? Never said it.

  • Michael Bussee

    Let me be very clear — I have NO DOUBT that some SSA people are happier not “embracing” that identity or lifestyle — whatever they understand that to be. For them, accepting themselves as gay is contrary to everything they believe. Some others are miserable trying to “change” their gayness into something else. I was one of those.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Where did you guys get the idea that I believed that any person who “walked away” from a “gay identity” or “gay lifestyle” must therefore be miserable? Never said it.

    I think, Michael, that idea must have been inferred from your comment earlier about what one should say to a gay or SSA teen about their unhappy expectations of life. It did kind of sound like what you offered — the “truth” you would have to tell them — would be setting them up for a life of unfulfilled misery.

  • Mary

    MIchael,

    This is what I am responding to

    Try telling a depressed gay kid that he most likely won’t marry, most likely will never be straight like his peers, that sex may be out of the question for him — unless it’s masturation — and that “freedom” from his gayness will be a lifelong struggle. That should cheer him right up

    Kind of a one sided presentation – don’t you think?

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Mary,

    Kind of a one sided presentation – don’t you think?

    Michael got a lot of half-truths…it has been an unfair journey for him; few persisted harder than he, or were as devoted to the half-truths he was told.

  • Eddy

    Brady–

    Thanks for your response. I especially appreciated the fact that it wasn’t ‘loaded’ in any way…LOL. I mean that. I appreciated that you were forthright.

    This one is weird for me. Initially, my opinion was that we were making too much out of nothing…and I even posted (on another thread) something to that effect.

    But then, the things that he didn’t do that he should have done hit me. I believe it was Ann who said ‘what it would take’ for ‘us’ to let it go…I tried to echo her sentiments but I believe I failed. Jennings past mistakes (which I thoroughly understand) are forgiveable but we need to hear something more than “I believe I’ve learned from my past mistakes”. We need to hear WHAT he’s learned otherwise it just sounds like ear-pleasing rhetoric.

    If he’s truly learned (from that self-examination I suggested), he could be an awesome candidate for the job. I’d still have some reservations about him favoring the gay issue above other very urgent issues in the schools but I’d see ethics and honesty and an appreciation for morality (whether it be Christian or otherwise). So I want to hear WHAT he’s learned…what he’d do differently…what advice or leadership he’d offer.

    That’s what I’d want…I only speak for me.

  • Mary

    David,

    I’ll take that into consideration though it has been a couple of years here with Michael and he does persist regardless of the experiences of others. I know it is difficult to relinquish pain.

  • David Blakeslee

    Mary,

    From experience…that kind of pain is immense.

  • Michael Bussee

    OK. So you wouldn’t tell him that he:

    (1) most likely won’t marry,

    (2) most likely will never be straight like his peers,

    (3) that sex may be out of the question for him — unless it’s masturbation — or

    (4) that “freedom” from his gayness will be a lifelong struggle.

    That’s too one-sided. And you wouldn’t tell him that it is OK to be gay.

    So, what would you tell him? How would you answer these questions?

    “Will I ever be normal? Will I ever be straight? Will I ever be able to have a romantic, loving, sexual, married relationship like straight kids?”

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Michael, those responses to your hypothetical, confused, young man (we’ll stick with the guy example) speak only to the sexual side of his life. As an adolescent, he is hyper-sexual and over-focused on it anyway.

    Since you asked, hypothetically, I will offer what I think, realizing that you and I are both Christians but are coming from different life experiences. It would be no more fair and right for me to impose my impressions or expectations on such a young person than it would be for you to impose yours on him since we both know of people who have not stayed stuck where he is, but have managed to find contentment in singleness or have married and seem to be doing fine with that. Let’s take stark definitions of “change” out of it for the moment and focus on the whole person.

    You are looking at the odds based on the studies we have, but you cannot eliminate hope altogether for him. Warren (and he can speak for himself), if we look at the SIT model, would likely query the lad enough to know what his deepest beliefs, fears or concerns are and walk with him toward a place of healthy self-acceptance that keeps his faith in the picture. To me, such an approach is always open-ended. It allows for the possibility that this young man may one day become disenchanted with the gay identity, but it takes him where he is at this point in life without condemnation. It affirms his self-worth.

    David brought up earlier how misinformed you were back in the day when that’s what folks thought they were supposed to do. That stunk, and you were wounded by it. So, clearly, you (Michael) would steer clear of anything resembling such an approach today. But others from that era had a different outcome, which speaks to our individuality and maybe one or two variables that somehow helped to ameliorate the problem satisfactorily for them. Or, it speaks to the divine power that we know can move mountains. Or both.

    Because I not only came back from the brink of death while severely depressed, but also found a new identity in Christ from SSA, I naturally put a lot of stock in that divine power. Had I suffered some of your experiences, I’m sure I would feel differently today. I would question things more. I would see myself in others I was seeking to counsel in a different way than I do now. I think it’s incredibly commendable that your faith is largely intact, Michael. To me it says that Christ must have been your “fourth person” in the fiery furnace all along.

    Back to our hypothetical young man, who I am sure for both of us, takes on the face of at least one or more actual people we have known. I think of one in particular who I pray for daily (that’s in addition to a particular gay-affirmed Christian young woman I also know). He’s in his early 20s now, but was a close friend of our daughter’s while he was agonizing over coming out. I love this young man so much that I asked him if he would escort me to my seat during our daughter’s wedding last year. His parents had him coming to our small-group ministry for a little while, but he soon left to pursue the “man of his dreams.” That didn’t work out so well. Moved in, bought a house, got abandoned. Score one deep wound. He has regrouped and moved on, but has a long road ahead of him. So, even if he follows the gay model, there is no guarantee for him. Same stuff we all may deal with.

    If your young man is left to ponder only with what he is “likely” not to have (which none of us can know for sure), is it not the same as wounding him in advance? Who of us has the right to deprive another of hope? It must mean a lot even in a secular sense because that message carried Obama to the White House. You can keep hope in the equation without being dishonest about what the outcomes have been for others. Such a young man needs mature, wise, compassionate, godly (if he is a believer) counsel. And he needs an ongoing support structure that will counterbalance the gay-only, (forgive me, but) sex-focused support he would be receiving if he throws himself into that community.

    Michael, you and I and everyone here knows that the gay male world is focused in with laser clarity on beefcake. Look at all the magazines. How many young men have eating disorders because they are desperate to stay ahead of the pack and be desirable? Would we not want to warn our young man about those dangers, too? We’d have to be honest, as we would with a straight adolescent, and tell him the truth about STDs and the HIV risk. How much heartache did that bring to your life and those you have loved? Also, we’d might have to inform him that he could carry a great burden of guilt one day that would only add to his pain. That’s where our own experience could come into play.

    There are no easy answers to our dilemma. But prayer sure helps. I offer it for the women I am seeking to help in abundance. They know it and are comforted by it. It is for me as well as for them. We all believe in its power. And I do see my former self in them.

  • Mary

    Yes, I am just about ready for another outburst. Michael, you are only focusing on sex. If a believer is in conflict with SSA and he wonders what the options for is life are like – I would certainly let him know there are options and sex is not the only way to a fulfilling life.

  • Eddy

    I appreciated Debbie’s thoughtful response very much. It is a hypothetical but I believe my answers would be tempered by the age of the young man and the relationship I had with him (is he my son? my client? a relative?). My answer would also be tempered by my understanding of his Christian faith. (Is he devout? born-again? conservative? liberal?) For those areas where I didn’t know where he stood, I’d ask a few questions. I’d also search out why it is that he has concluded that he is gay.

    Then, if he expressed a sincere belief in Christ and a sincere desire to live a life pleasing to God, I’d explain the differences of opinion within Christianity re whether homosexual behavior is a sin. (If he was over the age of 16 and showed maturity, I’d encourage him to visit this website and to prayerfully consider the things he reads here.) I’d caution against sexual experience that was not part of a sincere, loving and committed relationship.

    If at that point or some later point, he said that he believed that the Bible did call homosexual behavior sin, then we’d have the talk about his prospects for the future. I’d advise him that it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that his wouldn’t be an easy road. I’d mention that ‘marriage and family’ is not a Bible promise for every person. I’d cite that it’s a possibility not a promise.

    Then we’d likely have a long talk about GRACE…about how God’s grace is sufficient for us no matter what road He’s called us to walk. I’d talk about how God’s grace is made perfect–and shows itself more–in weakness. How to appropriate God’s grace and how to appreciate it…how to draw from it some of the byproducts of ‘person to person intimacy’ that he would be missing. “One day at a time” would certainly be a theme. And we’d discuss those things that could serve to block the flow of grace. Although there are a number of them, I’d likely major on ‘condemnation’. From our conversation, I’d recall evidences of his sincere committment to Christ and of times when he had experienced grace in the past…evidences of the fact that Christ was a part of his life. (A point I made in one of my teachings was an allusion to the verse “If God be for you, who can be against you?” And we answer “Me, Me! I’m against me!” Lots of pressures, from within and without, will seek to build self-reproach but they should not/cannot stand in the face of God’s love of us and acceptance of us. What? Did our homosexual leanings or temptations take God by surprise? Did God change His mind about His love for us over these temptations? Who are we to despise someone (including ourselves) that God loves?)

    That would be enough for a first go-round. Hopefully, it would open the door for more talks in the future about specific issues or hurdles that arise.

  • Mary

    Eddy – you say that better than I.

  • Eddy

    I think we’ve been pretty honest and thorough in our responses, please correct me if I’m wrong.

    So, now that we have that squared away, what do you say to the depressed gay kid-age 15 or 16-who you suspect of substance abuse and who has intimated that he’s been on an overnight in another town with an older man he met in a restroom? What should you/would you say other than “I hope you know how to use a condom”?

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Eddy, your comments are a great Part B to my Part A. Thanks. I hope Michael is prayerfully considering these thoughts and will feel free to respond with his own.

    I especially appreciate that you spoke of grace, since I was just reading Romans 5 this morning. If I may, I’d like to include here a pertinent reference from those amazing verses to further expound on both the grace that you cite and the hope that I cited:

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom. 5:1-5).

    Interestingly, I just got off the phone a few minutes ago with the mother of the young man I mentioned earlier. We reiterated that we are prayerfully loving and supporting him as one of the many prodigals (of which she and I also were one) whom God seeks to draw to Himself. This young man is in another relationship, one of many. He is on a journey, under God’s grace, and we have the hope that he will come to the place where he can love himself and see himself as God sees him. We have no control over his sexual identity, nor will we pressure him in any way.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    So, now that we have that squared away, what do you say to the depressed gay kid-age 15 or 16-who you suspect of substance abuse and who has intimated that he’s been on an overnight in another town with an older man he met in a restroom? What should you/would you say other than “I hope you know how to use a condom”?

    Given the defense recently made of Jennings by a spokesman at Union Theological Seminary, I’d like to think his conscience and his reported return to his Christian faith would dictate far more now than that feeble attempt at help.

  • Eddy

    Debbie–

    Thanks for your thoughtful statements. I do have one observation on the last one though. Jennings appointment is to a secular position so, while his reported return to his Christian faith may impact his regard for values/morals, the moral standards or values that he encourages need to be basic ‘people’ values. Many of our ‘people values’ show up as laws and ordinances, school policies, etc.; many do not.

    How do we speak to morals and values outside of a Christian-based system? What morals and values do we speak to and present as ‘universal’? The Fleming example is rich with fodder for honest and thoughtful discussion. Do we appeal to the rules? (Listen, kid, no ‘out of town overnights’ is a rule you agreed to abide by.) Do we appeal to safety? (Getting picked up in a restroom isn’t the way to go.) Do we appeal to morality? (I’ll tell you the same thing I’d tell a straight guy. You are too young to handle the responsibilities that come with being sexually active.) Do we appeal to health? (Are you using drugs? alcohol?) Do we appeal to the law? (Drugs are illegal. Furnishing alcohol to a minor is illegal. We’ll be monitoring you for your own good.)

    There are ways to handle a situation such as Fleming’s that represent a societal mindset rather than a Christian one…and that’s what would be called for in the public schools.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Eddy, just to be clear, I meant that Jennings’ actions should be informed by his faith, not that he ought to put any kind of public Christian spin on them. We could talk for days about how that ought to look. Morality does not come out of a vacuum.

  • Michael Bussee

    Our “hypothetical” young man is not all that hypothetical. Countless SSA teen boys must be asking themselves the same questions, wishing they had someone to ask who would really level with them. I wish someone had told me –

    You are OK and you will be OK whether you turn out to be gay, straight or something in between. You can have a full life, including romance, love and sex — whether the person you fall in love with is male or female. You don’t have to try to change your feelings to be OK with me or God. I love you and He loves you regardless.

    It seems that, for boys at least, that what we call “sexual orientation” doesn’t seem to swtich from one to the other. Yes, you will probably have these attractions all your life and that does not mean there is something wrong with you psychologically or spiritually. Don’t listen to people who tell you you are damaged or damned if you are gay. It’s not true.

    It’s what you do with these feelings that matters. Character matters. Honesty, faith, commitment and love matter. Some people choose not to act on these fellings because they do not seem right for them. These folks should be respected. You may make the same choice.

    Some people act on their attractions in selfish or self-destructive ways. I pray you will not do that. In everything, put God first and treat yourself and all His children the way you would want to be treated. Be safe. Here are the facts about HIV and STD. Here is what condoms are for. I am telling you these things for your health and safety. I want you to wait.

    Hold on off sex until you settle some more — psychologically and spiritually. Save it for marriage — someday people with SSA will have that legal right — but even if that takes time, sex is richer and more meaningful when it is between two people who love each other and have promised to be faithful to each other.

    You may hear some people say that they have changed. People are very capable of changing all sorts of things. Some decide not to pursue a sexual life at all. That is OK. Some decide not to think of themselves as gay or homosexual — even though they are still SSA, not OSA. That is OK too.

    Lots of changes are possible, but it seems that changing from gay to straight does not happen very often — rarely if at all. Don’t let that discourage you. It’s OK to be who you are. You don’t have to be straight to be OK.

    To all of you who have responded, thanks for your thoughtful and compassionate responses.

  • Eddy

    Cool! I was pretty sure that’s what you meant but with the “preach it” and “Amen” comments that already proceeded, I wanted to make it clear that we’re not pushing to Christianize the schools but that we are appealing to basic morals and values.

  • Eddy

    My comment was in response to Debbie’s. Michael’s must have slipped in as I was typing.

    I appreciate Michael’s comments as well. Of course, we’d differ on where we’d place our emphasis but, being that this thread is about ‘things in common’, I’ll savor the common parts.

    There are three shitzu’s (one of them a puppy) awaiting their lunchtime potty break so I’m outta here for awhile.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Cool! I was pretty sure that’s what you meant but with the “preach it” and “Amen” comments that already proceeded, I wanted to make it clear that we’re not pushing to Christianize the schools but that we are appealing to basic morals and values.

    Yeah, Eddy, I show my roots sometimes. I am aware that Warren seeks to keep this an open forum for all, but also that he is Christian, teaching at a Christian school. We do need to be careful in not taking license too liberally with our faith.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Thanks, Michael, for what you said. I have a comment on one part:

    Lots of changes are possible, but it seems that changing from gay to straight does not happen very often — rarely if at all. Don’t let that discourage you. It’s OK to be who you are. You don’t have to be straight to be OK.

    It’s also true that he would not have to be gay to be OK. So perhaps somewhere there ought to be the caveat that if he should ever desire to seek help in another way, he should be entitled to, without undue pressure to conform to the gay identity.

    I said what I did earlier about Romans 5 to remind us that we are all under the effects of original sin, although fully justified and blameless because of Christ’s atonement. He graciously bestows on us what gives us hope. Regeneration comes through, first, realizing that, and, second, doing something about it since God doesn’t wave a magic wand over us to change us.

    When a person has overwhelming desires that come up against long-accepted norms and Scriptural teaching, he must ask himself if “My grace is sufficient” can indeed be true in his life. Not because it may be hard, but because it may be right. Is going with his feelings more right? That’s what society wants him to believe.

    This applies to a lot of accepted heterosexual behavior today, too.

  • Michael Bussee

    So perhaps somewhere there ought to be the caveat that if he should ever desire to seek help in another way, he should be entitled to, without undue pressure to conform to the gay identity.

    Debbie, I don’t like “the gay indentity” phrase because there are many “gay identitites”, but I know what you are getting at. If the young person told me he wanted help to “not conform to it”, I would tell him that is his choice, but I would sure not know where to refer him if he asked for such “help”. Exodus and NARTH are both out of the question. Do you have any other ideas?

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Anyone,

    “What would you say to a depressed gay teen?”

    Depression is a very treatable condition that may or may not be related to your SSA.

    Focus on thoroughly treating your depression, with a clear head, you can then better decide what it means to be SSA.

    We support you as a person…always.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    If the young person told me he wanted help to “not conform to it”, I would tell him that is his choice, but I would sure not know where to refer him if he asked for such “help”. Exodus and NARTH are both out of the question. Do you have any other ideas?

    Well, I am still waiting to see if Alan Chambers or anyone at Exodus is seriously interested (Alan at least likes the idea) in coming up with a method for evaluating their affiliate ministries with SSA groups and making that information available on their Web site. Otherwise, I think all of us who are involved in any kind of help or outreach could take it upon ourselves to do some vetting of our own of the counselors or ministries in our area that we are aware of. I did get an excellent referral to a counselor for SSA stuff when I needed it way back, but I had to do a lot of sifting when I was seeking help for depression.

  • Michael Bussee

    “What would you say to a depressed gay teen?” Depression is a very treatable condition that may or may not be related to your SSA. Focus on thoroughly treating your depression, with a clear head, you can then better decide what it means to be SSA. We support you as a person…always.

    Great points. Of course, treat the depression first. But what if the depression was specifically related to the teen believing that gayness meant he was psychologically and spiritually damaged and inferior to his straight peers?

    Would you ever tell him it is OK to be gay? That he can live a full and happy life accepting his gayness? Would you tell him that it is not likely he will become heterosexual?

    I think I already know the answers to those questions. How could you give those answers (the ones I would give him) — if you sincerely believe that homosexuality is an indication of being psychologically or spiritually broken?

    Why would you tell him it is unlikely that he will become heterosexual — and thus deprive him of “hope” — even if that seems to be the facts? You are bound to answer him in accordance with your beliefs — just as I am bound by mine.

  • Eddy

    I would suggest both Exodus and Warren…advising the individual on a few things to check out about the particular Exodus-affiliated ministry or church they hoped to connect with and, regarding Warren, about his potentially limited time and the difficulties of long-distance therapeutic relationships. I’d also suggest that they inquire of Warren whether he had any recommended resources in their geographical area. AND I’d leave the door open for them to come back to me for advice or to ask questions.

  • Eddy

    But what if the depression was specifically related to the teen believing that gayness meant he was psychologically and spiritually damaged and inferior to his straight peers?

    First, I’d clue him in that a whole lot of people have psychological issues and that many of us, including those in the church, are wrestling or have wrestled with some form of ‘damage’.

    Second, I’d remind him that the notion of being ‘spiritually damaged’ because of homosexual impulses doesn’t come from God. “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Someone else in the church might struggle with some other sinful behavior; the spiritual damage is in how you respond to God with it.

    Third, I’d challenge his notion that, whatever his issues, why does he think that makes him ‘inferior to his straight peers’? I’d remind him that, as a Christian, he has all the proof of acceptance he needs. I’d remind him that any Christian who attempts to make him feel less worthy due to the nature of his temptations–that that Christian is toying with self-righteousness and is sinning themselves. I’d further remind him that if he somehow thinks he’s inferior to straights in general, he’s bought into a worldly standard of measurement.

    We’d have a long talk about the dangers of embracing a ‘sin-meter mentality’ where homosexuality somehow outranks things like self-righteousness, deceitfulness, straight sexual sins, etc.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    How could you give those answers (the ones I would give him) — if you sincerely believe that homosexuality is an indication of being psychologically or spiritually broken?

    Just another thought — forgive me for so many of them lately. Apparently, Michael, I am as burdened as you are to see kids get the right message.

    What if same-sex attraction/homosexuality is just another cross among many that some of us must bear in this fallen world? Anything that separates us from our God-given purpose in life is inherently disordered. Were kids not exposed to the world’s constant message that sex (of any kind) is good and they are entitled to it, would they automatically know something is out of kilter with same-sex attraction?

    If God does “write His law on our hearts” or we have that “God-shaped vacuum” that Pascal spoke of, is our God-breathed spirit trying to tell us something? Is that an inherent part of the depression we experience when struggling with SSA sexual feelings, as well as with a host of other temptations? Isn’t feeling depressed a sign that is meant to make us examine our lives? Read the Davidic Psalms.

    Be assured I given a lot of thought over the years to the usefulness of sorrow, having known it so well.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael

    Eddy said it well:

    I’d remind him that, as a Christian, he has all the proof of acceptance he needs. I’d remind him that any Christian who attempts to make him feel less worthy due to the nature of his temptations–that that Christian is toying with self-righteousness and is sinning themselves. I’d further remind him that if he somehow thinks he’s inferior to straights in general, he’s bought into a worldly standard of measurement.

    This would be something I felt I could explicitly say if the person has sought me out as a Christian counselor…

    If he sought me out without any understanding of my religious beliefs, they would never enter the conversation…it would be about helping him figure out what he wants, believes…peppering it with the facts as we know them about SSA as it was relevant to his search.

    Unwanted SSA and Depression are not synonymous (although it is understandably common).

    But accepted SSA, gay identification and depression are also quite common, more common than in the heterosexual population. It is too simple to ascribe it to internalized homophobia or religious bigotry.

    Clearing out the depression is critical to the early stages of treatment…aggressive treatment will make dealing with the SSA clearer.

    Worth based upon opposite sex attraction is a poor foundation; just as worth on being able to read or doing higher order math, having a high IQ, being white, are a poor foundation. Worth is rooted in human dignity (created in God’s image). Any other foundation is sand

  • Mary

    @ Anyone,

    “What would you say to a depressed gay teen?”

    Depression is a very treatable condition that may or may not be related to your SSA.

    Focus on thoroughly treating your depression, with a clear head, you can then better decide what it means to be SSA.

    We support you as a person…always

    I agree that the depression needs to be looked at regardless of the SSA as it can exist w/o SSA. No one can make good decisions while in the chaos of clinical depression.

  • Michael Bussee

    I am not just speaking here about a kid who would be seeking “Christian” counseling — just the advice of a trusted adult.

    It seems to me that “you folks” want me to tell the teen in question that it is OK for him to renounce a gay identity and not act on it — and that I should either offer this “help” myself or refer him to someone else who agrees with the “ex-gay” path.

    Would you do the reverse? Would you tell the teen in question that it is also OK to “embrace” his gayness and that he can live a full and happy life with it? Would you refer him to a “gay affirming” resource?

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    Trusted adults should be encouraged to refer depressed teens to their family, to their family physicians and perhaps to a specific therapist.

    I have been in the situation you describe…my goal has been to be generally supportive. And personally available. I have made offers for a wide variety of specific referrals (ones you describe); the adolescents that have spoken to me out of the clinical office have never taken me up on the offer (whether gay affirming or otherwise).

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    A good therapist locally, here, makes explicit in his intake various support systems both in religious cultures and outside them.

    That sounds about right…and he is an evil, fundamentalist Christian!

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    He even hired a gay-affirming therapist to work at his clinic.

  • Eddy

    Michael:

    It seems to me that “you folks” want me to tell the teen in question that it is OK for him to renounce a gay identity and not act on it — and that I should either offer this “help” myself or refer him to someone else who agrees with the “ex-gay” path.

    What did I miss? Who is telling you to do anything? You asked us what we’d do–we told you.

    Would you do the reverse? Would you tell the teen in question that it is also OK to “embrace” his gayness and that he can live a full and happy life with it? Would you refer him to a “gay affirming” resource?

    No, I wouldn’t tell him it’s ok to embrace his gayness because I don’t believe it. But, if he wasn’t a Christian, I’d affirm him AS A PERSON, tell him what I believe but encourage him to make life choices congruent with his heart.

    As to the final question in the quote, consider it answered on numerous occasions. I know I’ve told the story SEVERAL TIMES of the one young man who didn’t subscribe to our beliefs and that I referred him on both to Wingspan and the MCC.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    A child seeking the advice of a trusted adult who had no particular interest in religion and that was not a question – I would first ask a lot of questions (you see each situation is independent) As time went on I probably would give information as he expressed an interest – either to pursue his life as a gay man or to pursue his life as a man who was not interested in acting on his SSA.

  • Michael Bussee

    Trusted adults should be encouraged to refer depressed teens to their family, to their family physicians and perhaps to a specific therapist.

    I completely agree.

    I have made offers for a wide variety of specific referrals (ones you describe)

    That surprises me, but I am glad to hear it.

    A good therapist locally, here, makes explicit in his intake various support systems both in religious cultures and outside them. That sounds about right…and he is an evil, fundamentalist Christian!

    No, doesn’t sound “evil” at all, and I don’t care for the “fundamentalist” label. He sounds like a wise and good man to me.

    He even hired a gay-affirming therapist to work at his clinic!

    I am even more impressed with him. I noticed the others of you also mentioned you have or would refer a young person to a gay-affirming resource. You guys never cease to surprise me. You must have a better opinion of gay affirming resources than I have of “ex-gay” ones.

  • Eddy

    You must have a better opinion of gay affirming resources than I have of “ex-gay” ones.

    Not necessarily…but I have an abiding respect for an individual’s right and ability to hear a variety of opinions, even those I disagree with, and to allow them to exercise their own judgement rather than subject them to mine.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Does anybody here know who evangelical Anglican Peter Ould is? I’ve just been introduced to him and his pastoral work in England via Andrew Marin’s blog. He reviewed Marin’s book, “Love Is an Orientation,” which I still also highly recommend.

    Here’s what really got my attention about Ould, however, and what makes him pertinent to this and many topics we’ve been discussing here. He calls himself post-gay, rather than ex-gay. Here’s part of his reasoning:

    Now the one challenge you might still make to me from an ontological perspective is whether I still have same-sex attraction. Am I 100% heterosexual or not? But as if that matters on the journey. The idea of gay/bisexual/straight is an attempt to ontologically categorise men and women and normally continues into trying to define morality as dependent on ontology. It sees “homosexual” as a statement of one’s being and therefore prescriptive of the “normative” behaviour that derives from that being. Post-gay rejects that way of thinking about sexuality.

    A friend of mine is an alcoholic. He hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol in over 20 years, he runs a successful rehab centre, but he would still freely call himself an alcoholic when each week he attends his 12 steps meeting. Why? He knows that he could always return to drinking alcohol to solve emotional and relational issues in his life – it worked in the past and it could work again. In the same way, I’m happy to be described as a homosexual. I know that when I’m down or tired or feeling inadequate I could seek catharsis in the embrace of somebody of the same sex in an attempt to shore my own masculinity. But I’ve also, like my friend who realises that he’s an alcoholic, discovered that that behaviour is counter-productive in the long run because it is simply catharsis and not actually redemptive.

    So post-gay is quite happy to admit to a myriad of sexual attractions, but it refuses to be defined by them, not least because the Bible never refers to men and women as homosexual or heterosexual. Rather it is defined by a direction, a journey, a path towards God and his will for our lives.

    It’s the most honest assessment I’ve heard from a formerly gay man, and I think he has a lot to teach us. Ould’s entire blog post is here, FYI.

  • Eddy

    Debbie–

    Peter has actually commented here occasionally. Search his name in the handy search box at the top right side of this page.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Thanks, Eddy. I had forgotten. Hard to keep up with everybody. I wish he’d comment here more.

  • Michael Bussee

    In the same way, I’m happy to be described as a homosexual. I know that when I’m down or tired or feeling inadequate I could seek catharsis in the embrace of somebody of the same sex in an attempt to shore my own masculinity. But I’ve also, like my friend who realises that he’s an alcoholic, discovered that that behaviour is counter-productive in the long run because it is simply catharsis and not actually redemptive.

    Makes sense to me. For him, gay sex is sinful, non-redemptive and an attempt to shore up his own masculinity when he is feeling tired or inadequate. He likens it to alcohol abuse — an attempt to solve emotional and relational issues in his life, a sort of negtive coping skill that worked in the past and could work again.

    So it seems it would be much better for him not to do it. I think it would make him feel even worse once the catharsis was over. Like the guilt an alcoholic feels after a binge.

    And better to adopt a non-gay (or post-gay) indentity since emabracing another man sexually or embracing a gay indentity is contrary to his moral and religious values.

    It simply would not be right — for him. I think he described it quite well. And I appreciate the honesty that he could be still be descfribed as homosexual — at least in attraction.

  • Michael Bussee

    Some other interesting thoughts from his blog post (on why he prefers “post-gay” over “ex-gay”) :

    I think the main problem with ex-gay is that it is an ontological statement. It presents, intentionally or not, the one who calls himself as ex-gay as one who’s sexual orientation has changed from gay to straight. He/she is claiming to have gone from one state of being (gay) to another (straight). And while that is the case for many who are ex-gay, for others it isn’t so clear.

    I think “ex-gay” also presents a pastoral issue for some who undertake that journey. If the ex-gay ministries promise change to heterosexuality and that change doesn’t occur, does that mean that the ex-gay model is fallacious? While there is a pretty impressive “success rate” for those who go through ex-gay ministries, there is also an equally large number of people who drop-out or reject it.

    I remember on my post-gay journey reaching a point where I was seeing no change in my attractions and was getting angry with God about it. Wasn’t this ex-gay choice meant to work? Shouldn’t God be doing something about it? God challenged me over the course of a few days with a clear message – “If I want you to stay like this for my purposes, why can’t I do that? Will you follow me wherever I take you, not just only to the places you want to go?” That night I surrendered my sexuality and future to God, reconciled to a life of celibacy but not a life of “gay”.

    He explains that “post-gay” is “less about being straight or gay and rather about a choice of a journey.” It’s Biblical obdedience and refusal to define one identity or being in terms of sexual attractions — which he is happy to admit are still homosexual. And God may want him to stay like that for His purposes. I agree with you, Debbie:

    It’s the most honest assessment I’ve heard from a formerly gay man, and I think he has a lot to teach us.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Yes, I figured you might like what Peter had to say, Michael. I had totally forgotten that he had made a couple of comments in the 100-plus-comment discussion last month on the “shame and attachment” stuff — a discussion that frustrated many of us and in which I, like Peter, only chose to comment twice (I think).

    It is my sincere hope and prayer that each subsequent discussion here leads us to more insight and patience with one another. If so, they are useful exercises. I like Andrew Marin’s theme for his blog: “I am learning how to live and love.” That does mean some occasional intense discussion, of course. Clearing the air can be a good thing. :)

    I have enjoyed getting to know the folks who hang out here.

  • David Blakeslee

    I think we are up to the task…although the list of participants has narrowed somewhat.

    Peter is arguing that both homosexuality and heterosexuality are not deterministic of our behavior.

    In new brain terms: he believes in the power of our Frontal Lobes to guide our limbic systems.

    What we load into our Frontal Lobes will determine the role out limbic systems play in identity and behavior.

    Regardless, I pray for Peter’s emotional and relational support.

  • Michael Bussee

    I just read on his post that he is married. Wonder why he would still describe his attractions as homosexual.

  • Michael Bussee

    For some of us that journey involves changes in our sexual orientation, perhaps marriage and kids. For others they see no change in their sexual attractions, but they have left behind the place of false-identity, of seeing themselves as “gay” and that as a defining a unchangeable aspect of their being.

    I appreciate that he does not try to do away with the concept of “orientation” — in the sense of describing one’s prevailing attractions — and explains that “post-gay is quite happy to admit to a myriad of sexual attractions, but it refuses to be defined by them.”

    For him “gay” is a “false identity” which he rejects, even though he is “happy to be described as a homosexual”. Hmm. I guess he means in terms of attraction or orientation — although he sounds like he must have some spousal-sexual attractions.

    Interesting because I am also not “defined” by “gay”. My “identity” encompasses much more than my sexual attractions or sexual behavior. So, I don’t mind the term “gay” because, for me, it doesn’t “define” me either. Like him, I find my definition in Christ. For me, to base it on something else is like building a house on sand.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I just read on his post that he is married. Wonder why he would still describe his attractions as homosexual.

    He just doesn’t get hung up about it, I think. Why should we? He’s a breath of fresh air in many ways. Whether it’s frontal lobe power or something more deeply spiritual (they do intersect, right David?), he has risen above the either-or determinism, to use David’s term, of sexual impulses.

    Incidentally, his wife just suffered a miscarriage of their second child. They could use our prayers in that regard, too.

  • Eddy

    Given the common accepted definitions of ‘heterosexual’, ‘homosexual’ and ‘bisexual’, Peter seems to have taken the one that is the best fit of the three. He’s likely what we’ve termed ‘spousosexual’ and doesn’t want to muddle his message by using that as a claim to ‘standard’ heterosexuality or bisexuality.

    Interesting though that his use of the term ‘homosexual’ also causes a certain amount of confusion and muddling.

    I just read on his post that he is married. Wonder why he would still describe his attractions as homosexual.

    Wow! I wonder if this is evidence that labels have their limitations and can often be misleading.

  • Ann

    Eddy,

    I really admire the individuals who do not feel a need to justify themselves to others, especially in terms of labels that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. This, to me, shows contentment.

  • Michael Bussee

    For me, it’s not about “justifying oneself to others”, Ann. It’s about describing things clearly. My attractions are homosexual — pretty easy to label. Not heterosexual and not bisexual. Homosexual only.

    My identity is much more complex — encompassing ALL of the things that are true of me, including that I am SSA. It is not the basis of my sense of self. It does not form the basis or core of my sense of self or of my “being”.

    Peter says ” I chose to no longer accept “gay” as an explanation of who I was.” There is some similarity here. It isn’t an explanation of who I am, either. It’s a description of which gender I am attracted to.

    Peter says, “Gay” wasn’t a suitable way to describe myself, that it wasn’t a valid way for a Christian to establish identity.” There is similarity here too. It is not how I establish my identity either. It’s just who I am attracted to. Not women. Men. Just which gender makes my brain light up. And not who I am.

    I understand why he can sescribe himself as homosexual on one hand and post-gay on the other. He is not “gay” because gay means something different for Peter and other ex-gays, former gays and post-gays that it does not mean for me.

  • Michael Bussee

    I notice that much of the ex-gay, former gay, post gay language speaks of “identity” — mistaken, true, etc. I read comments like “it is not my identity” or “It is not the bsis of my identity”.

    Should I take this to mean that ex-gays, former gays and post-gays believe that those of us who call ourselves gay are basing our idenity on our attractions? Di they used to base their identities on theirs? Sexual attraction by itself seems to be a pretty limited base to build an indentity upon.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Should I take this to mean that ex-gays, former gays and post-gays believe that those of us who call ourselves gay are basing our idenity on our attractions? Di they used to base their identities on theirs? Sexual attraction by itself seems to be a pretty limited base to build an indentity upon.

    I think many do make that judgment, Michael. And you are right in that identity is built on much more than sexuality. Homosexual attractions do tend to place one within the sphere of that community for obvious reasons. But the Christian gay folks I know also want to be known for their identity in Christ, much more so than the other stuff. I also think some Christians see the “culture of homosexuality” as a means to pleasing man rather than God. Peter seems to make this distinction.

    Since this original post was about what we have in common, I’d just like to point out that folks in the bridge-building business are content to love, pray and wait until a person in need seeks them out. Perhaps then a new discipleship will be born or reawakened. Others feel compelled to preach a message that might draw someone who is seeking. I think God uses all sorts of ways to bring His prodigals or lost sheep home.

  • Mary

    More like gays say that their sexuality is born into them and it is what they are.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I don’t think you’ll ever grasp it. And there is at least one good reason. They’re choice about labeling and identifying is a personal one…it speaks to their sense of self. That’s a horse we’ve beaten until bloodied. But look what’s happened. Now we’re talking about a guy who is ‘post-gay’, who won’t accept the term ‘gay’ but will accept the term ‘homosexual’…seems pretty personal and individual, right? YET, your question globalizes ( you even dump his uniqueness and lump it in with those that call themselves ‘ex-gays’ or ‘former gays’ ) and wants to know what it says about YOU! It’s NOT ABOUT YOU!

    You’ve made the speech about identity before. It’s a nice speech and deserves at least a B. It will never score an A or an A+ until it finds a way to embrace this simple fact. For some people identifying by their faith is primary AND they have a conflict with identifitying by the name of a sin. (Please, it’s a compound sentence; I even capitalized the ‘connector’. For those people described by BOTH the first and the last half of the sentence there’s an issue…a very significant and very personal spiritual issue. Until you can fully respect their legitimate right to take exception to the labels, you’ll never get that A.)

    Please examine your objections to that prior to posting. I anticipate “but for some of us it isn’t sin”. Guess what?? If your motive is to respect and to understand, you’ll already have grasped 1) that it’s personal 2) that it’s not about you –and you’ll be able to grasp 3) that we’re talking about them. If they believe it’s a sin for them, then, for them, it is a sin. They are the latter half of that compound sentence.

    I realize that this still might not answer your questions and concerns about identity. I am convinced that mere words aren’t going to do it. I encourage you to prayerfully ponder the plight of an individual who has quit a sexual behavior because they feel their faith calls them to but needs to contend with others who constantly demand or request that they self-label according to their sexuality. Please try to see them…please try to feel some form of genuine compassion for them…please try to respect this issue that is very real and personal for them…please try to see that it’s not about you.

  • Mary

    Good point Eddy. I don’t go around calling myself a murderer or greedy just because the feeling might be there. I just don’t go around naming my sinfulness in each sinful nature and then saying that is what I am.

  • Michael Bussee

    But the Christian gay folks I know also want to be known for their identity in Christ, much more so than the other stuff.

    Debbie, Me too. :)

    More like gays say that their sexuality is born into them and it is what they are.

    I don’t know if it is born into me or not, but it is not who I am. I know that it is about them and their experience, not me. I do respect each individual’s individual right to label (or not label) themselves any way they please.

    Mary, I am making no “demands” that they “label” themselves one way or another. I am just trying to understand what they mean. Please try to understand that. I mean no disrespect or lack of compassion for their struggle, their path or their solution.

    That I see things differently doesn’t mean they have to see them the same ways. Never said it did. My opinions are just that, my opinions. I just thought it was interesting that Peter describes himself the way he does. Never quite heard it that way before. It fits who he is, what he believes and how he chooses to live. I am content with that.

  • Eddy

    I believe we also need to move the conversation–and its realities–beyond a focus on Michael. Michael has stated that he shouldn’t be regarded as a model (poster child) for anything and has also stated a desire to move the focus away from his personal life. Unfortunately, the issues touch him so personally that it keeps coming back to him. I applaud Michael’s efforts towards reducing the personal disclosures of history, relationship and experiences but somehow he still presents his experience as representative–as he did here in talking about identity. I believe that Michael doesn’t recognize the validity of ‘identity’ because, by his admission, he doesn’t have a gay one. His life is normal and balanced and the direction of his sexuality does not have, for lack of a better term, ‘controlling influence’. I maintain that, if that’s the case, then he is atypical.

    I’ve mentioned that I have lots of gay friends. I have trouble thinking of even one that doesn’t live according to a gay identity. When I mentioned that I was getting pretty good at karoake, a number of them wanted to hear me sing. Most never did, though. Each and every one balked at the notion of ‘going to a straight bar’…of the difficulties they had with ‘hanging out with the straighties’; I was finally able to convince my best friend to come to a show. He was uncomfortable at first but, once he learned how accepting this ‘straight bar’ was, he soon had his partner in tow and he now wears his sexuality on his sleeve.

    Even when I was moving out of state, all of my friends were content with my big farewell bash (complete with a karaoke show) at the VFW; my gay friends declined that farewell offering to meet for coffee or brunch. Again there was the expressed hesitance of hanging out in a ‘straight environment’.

    On numerous occasions, I tried to organize get togethers for a few of us. If we were discussing eating out, there was bound to be discussion of ‘that place with the hot waiters’. A picnic in the park–’which park has the most hotties?’ Rent a movie–”oooh, how about thus and such, so and so is soooo cute/hot”. Hey, let’s walk for some cause–”we already missed this years AIDS-Walk”. Call it any name you want, when it oozes daily and so naturally that you don’t even realize it, that’s identity. If “being gay” colors more than a few of the following: where you live, where you church, where you hang out, who you hang with, where you go to eat, what you find entertaining, what causes move you…then it’s ‘gay identity’.

  • Michael Bussee

    II really appreciate your self-disclosures Eddy, because they make you real, but I am trying to limit mine for my own comfort and the comfort of others who don’t want to hear about it. No need to respond to me at all, as you have suggested that others do in the past. I am OK with that. Do it.

    If “being gay” colors more than a few of the following: where you live, where you church, where you hang out, who you hang with, where you go to eat, what you find entertaining, what causes move you…then it’s ‘gay identity’.

    Then I guess I dopn’t have one. It doesn’t color where I live, where I go to church or where/who I hang out with. I live in a “straight” neighborhood, go to a straight church and have predominately straight friends. It spite of what it may seem here, it really is not the center of my identity or my life.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I did not say ‘do not respond to Michael’; I suggested that we move the focus beyond you. I then elaborated on what I meant and why I thought it was a good idea. So, I’m puzzled how that translated to you as ‘do not respond to Michael’.

    And I’m quite okay with the rest of your statement. YOU don’t have a gay identity; the people I spoke of DO. YOU don’t have a gay identity; that’s great…but there ARE people, like the ones I mentioned, who DO have it oozing all over their lives. The fact that YOU don’t have one doesn’t mean that they don’t; it shouldn’t prevent us from discussing the very real concept that DOES exist for others. That’s why I felt we needed to move the focus away from the atypical YOU so that we could, in fact, discuss it as it clearly applies to a lot of others.

  • Michael Bussee

    My recommendation is that when he attempts to interupt or interject himself into a conversation…or if he directs a question or comment to you…simply ignore him or say “To respond would be meaningless” and move on. Eddy ~ Aug 15, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    You have also suggested numerous times that people not “enage” me — and you have ask me to direct no comments to you directly or to any of the comments you make. Perhaps I misunderstood.

    In any event, I present my personal stories for (I would suspect) the same reasons you share yours. To give examples of something, not to set ourselves up as poster children for the ways things ought to be.

    I share mine because it may NOT be typical of what people think of as “the gay lifestyle”. There is tremendous variation within our “community” — so any differences that sometimes it doesn’t feel like a “community” at all. Many gay people live similarly “non-gay-centered” lives. So I don’t think I am all that unique.

  • carole

    Michael, you asked about Mr. Ould–

    I just read on his post that he is married. Wonder why he would still describe his attractions as homosexual.

    I think he’d be the one to ask, particularly since he has a blog.

  • Michael Bussee

    Thanks, Carole. I think I will do that. Please undertsand that I believe he has every right to call himself that , or something else — or nothing at all. It just makes me scratch my head a little…

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    My comment from above has a key phrase: ‘when he attempts ot interupt or interject into a conversation’. Ignore Michael all the time? Nope. I didn’t say that. I was speaking specifically to times when people were already engaged in conversation that was going somewhere. LOL. That actually doesn’t happen all that often. But it has and it will again.

    That’s all I’m going to say about that. I was frustrated and it was an unkind thing for me to say publicly. For that and for wounding you, I apologize.

    ——

    “Identity” seems to be a big issue but when I’ve attempted to address it, you’ve ignored my comments while, on numerous occasions, stating ‘but I don’t have a gay identity and making your claim the basis for all future discussion. Any attempts to move on are met with “but I don’t understand” and “I don’t have a gay identity”. In effect, you are stonewalling the conversation.

    Even now, you’ve ignored the telling comments I made re my gay friends and how they relate to the world and bring it back to you and your lack of a gay identity. Does that render my observations invalid? Does it suggest that some people don’t have a gay identity? Are you saying my friends don’t exist? Are you implying that the Christians who clearly have issues with ‘identity’ might not have lived lives similar to theirs? You keep saying you don’t understand what we mean but you won’t let us move the conversation beyond the notion that YOU don’t have a gay identity. I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe, if you gave in just a little…if you could acknowledge “yes, I do know a few people who do seem to have a ‘gay identity’…I wonder what that’s all about”…I keep thinking that if we could even make the step to there, we might actually be able to clear up the confusion around the issue of identity instead of revisiting it thread after thread after thread.

  • Michael Bussee

    I was frustrated and it was an unkind thing for me to say publicly. For that and for wounding you, I apologize.

    That’s OK. I am usually the one being unkind.

    Even now, you’ve ignored the telling comments I made re my gay friends and how they relate to the world and bring it back to you and your lack of a gay identity. Does that render my observations invalid? Does it suggest that some people don’t have a gay identity? Are you saying my friends don’t exist? Are you implying that the Christians who clearly have issues with ‘identity’ might not have lived lives similar to theirs?

    No, of course not. Everyone’s experience has validity.

    If you could acknowledge “yes, I do know a few people who do seem to have a ‘gay identity’…I wonder what that’s all about”…

    I do acknowledge it. I know what you are talking about. I know that that “gay” identity and lifestyle” exists. I have friends much like yours.

    I may not live it or base my identity on it, but they do live and indentify that way — and I visit it every so often in Palm Springs. It’s the cultural anthropologist in me. Different cultures and subcultures fascinate me. :)

  • Michael Bussee

    Are you implying that the Christians who clearly have issues with ‘identity’ might not have lived lives similar to theirs?

    No. What you say makes perfect sense.

    I have always wondered, when people say they are former, ex or post gay, what kind of “gay” they lived and identified with. Perhaps the gay they lived and experienced was so self-destructive and disatisfying that walking away from it was the healthiest thing for them. And bless ‘em if they are more at peace with themselves and their God.

    The way I see it, they didn’t so much leave the gay lifestyle or the gay identity — they left their gay lifestyle and their gay identity — which may be shared by many gays and may not shared by many others.

    It’s the implied or explicit generalization to all gays that disturbs me — not the fact that there is indeed something that many people know and call the gay identity or the gay lifestyle. Some gays embrace that and live that. Some don’t.

    Not saying you do this, but I think you know that there are people who plaint gays with a broad brush (“Gays think..Gays believe..Gays want…”) just as there are folk who paint Christians that way.

  • David Blakeslee

    See Warren’s new post and ask yourself:

    Did Jennings view “Brewster’s” sexual behavior as similar to that of 14 year old Harry Hay; and is that why he didn’t seek to protect him from his adult sexual molester?

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Whether or not these people embarrass us shouldn’t be the issue…the fact that they are there…as gays and as ex-gays…deems them worthy or discussion and perhaps examination. The simple fact that we have this issue of ‘identity’ that is as clear as can be to some and a constant source of confusion to others…that fact is a clear indicator that we need to tread into these unchartered waters and gain a little understanding. For gay people, it may be how one side learns to see the other. It’s been obvious for a long long time that there are those who aspire with a passion to monogamy and a committment that parallels marriage but we can’t ignore that there’s not much of a middle ground. On the other hand we have those others…and they are many…I can’t quantify. (Those who believe in and are living in committment may be just as invisible as those ex-gays who have found heterosexual fulfillment.) But we have those others, like my friends, who are incredibly nice people (if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have befriended them), but they live with a gay identity. For them, gay is a filter through which they see a good portion of their lives. We need to see them…discuss them…try to understand them…understand in what ways we are similar and dissimilar to them. I agree that it’s squirmy turf. But it’s authentic turf. It exists…and it seems to have counterparts on both sides of our ‘great divide’.

  • Michael Bussee

    (Those who believe in and are living in committment may be just as invisible as those ex-gays who have found heterosexual fulfillment.)

    I think this is true. By the way, I have no doubt that some SSA guys form deep emotional and sexual bonds with their wives.

    But we have those others, like my friends, who are incredibly nice people (if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have befriended them), but they live with a gay identity. For them, gay is a filter through which they see a good portion of their lives

    Gary and I had a gay couple we were friends with — for awhile. Great guys but “gay” seemed to completely define them. They would only go to “gay events”, see “gay films”, attended every gay pride, etc.

    We kept suggesting other things — a museum, a camping trip, a bike ride, a county fair, etc. No dice. They would not go and could not relate unless it was “gay”. They never embarassed us and we didn’t think less of them for this, but it got kinda, well, boring.

    We lost contact after awhile — and found closer friends — often straight women (you know the drill) who just liked hanging with us and doing a variety of things. I now have gay friends who are more like those women — more well-rounded and less defined by their sexual “identity”. They joke that “straight is the new gay”…

  • hazemyth

    I think a debate worthy to be had…especially for illumination purposes.

    Maybe in another time.

    Obviously no one is commenting on this post any more but my thoughts have returned occasionally to the subject that I addressed above. I think, perhaps, I should not have restricted my comment to sexual behaviors. Gay people experience a lot more after all, which is another subject ‘easily forgotten’. It’s not just gay sex that some Christians oppose, but also gay love, gay relationships, and gay families — all things that are affirmed within heterosexuality — whereas heterosexual prohibitions are limited primarily to the domain of lust. This difference speaks again to the seemingly unequal attitudes held in regard to homosexuality.

    The bible does not apparently acknowledge any aspect of homosexuality other than lust. And, indeed, some people seem staunchly to believe that homosexuals experience lust only, despite any evidence to the contrary. Admittedly, there doubtlessly were no gay people (in the present sense) at the time that, say, Leviticus was written. So, one can see why the issue could not have occurred to the authors/interpreters of that book. Such ignorance among our contemporaries is largely willful, by comparison. And the choice, made by others, to admonish love and family seems, to gay people, arbitrarily disparate, to say the least.

    Just some further (and still evolving) thoughts on how to frame this issue.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Hazemyth, you think that homosexual lust somehow evolved (as if it is on some higher plane, maybe); that humankind could not possibly have known of that sin in the days of Moses, the supposed author of Leviticus? How interesting.

    Don’t know just what you want to debate, but I’m not sure you do, either.

    Christians who understand the Scriptures are opposed to all lust (there are many kinds, not all of them sexual) and all sexual activity outside that of holy matrimony between a man and a women (who together reflect the entire image of the Godhead) because God opposes it. That should be the end of the story, but it is not. The world willfully goes on its merry way, eating and drinking until the Lord returns like a thief in the night. That’s the beginning of the end of the story.

  • hazemyth

    Hazemyth, you think that homosexual lust somehow evolved (as if it is on some higher plane, maybe); that humankind could not possibly have known of that sin in the days of Moses, the supposed author of Leviticus? How interesting.

    I take it that the above is meant in response to my statement that:

    Admittedly, there doubtlessly were no gay people (in the present sense) at the time that, say, Leviticus was written. So, one can see why the issue could not have occurred to the authors/interpreters of that book.

    My point was actually not about lust, gay otherwise, but gay love, identity and family, which are not attested in the historical biblical record. There was no community of gay-identifying persons who lived as we do today, dating (necessarily a modern practice), marrying, raising children. In that sense, gay people of today would seem different from any SSA persons in the days of Leviticus. Of course I may be wrong about the historical record. Or the record may be incomplete. (And I’m keeping the scope of my observations relatively narrow. I’m not addressing of ancient societies. Nor was I considering the question of Leviticus’s authorship, as such.)

    As for what I want to debate/discuss… I was, as I said, readdressing my previous point about the supposedly discriminatory intent in prohibiting homosexuality. David Blakeslee, in his post, framed the issue from a gay-prohibitive, Christian perspective, much like your own (I think), which does not avow a discriminatory intent. I was contrasting this to gay-affirmative perspectives of such prohibitions.

  • hazemyth

    Should be, “I’m not addressing other ancient societies.”

  • Eddy

    hazemyth–

    Please remember that it’s us conservative Christians who resist the labels. We try to stick to the behavior itself. One of the reasons for this is to avoid some of the confusions you are having…and some of the blames you are placing on Christians.

    Let me get to the point: this talk of other gay loves outside of sex…if it’s not about sex, why then are you calling it gay? Why isn’t it just love…or parenting?

    There’s really no way around it. You take the label gay because you identify with having sexual experience with the same gender. TV’s ‘Odd Couple’ cohabited. The nature of their roommate relationship caused them to experience many of the dynamics of a married couple; it fostered a love and concern for each other that went deeper than just two acquaintances. They weren’t identified–by themselves or by others–as gay because they weren’t, at days end, ‘a man in bed with a man for the purpose of sex’.

    Anyway, we’re the ones who’ve been criticized for not liking labels, not wanting to live by them. So please don’t apply labels to things outside the bedroom and then try to put the blame on us. It’s a generalization…I believe an unfounded one. So unless you can document it. I’d like to suggest simply that that boat won’t float.

  • hazemyth

    You take the label gay because you identify with having sexual experience with the same gender… So please don’t apply labels to things outside the bedroom and then try to put the blame on us.

    The entirety of my point was that the romance and relationships experienced by gay couples is not limited to the bedroom, any more than that straight couples. Yet gay couples do not cease to be couples, simply because they have left the bedroom, any more than that straight couples.

    If it’s not about sex, why then are you calling it gay? Why isn’t it just love?

    Well, I’m talking specifically about romantic love, as experienced by gay couples. Hence ‘gay love’. I don’t mean to imply that it’s substantively different from romantic love as experienced by straight couples — quite the contrary. I do certainly mean to imply that romantic love (as experienced by gay couples or straight couples) is something other than the platonic love experienced by roommates (to which you compare it). And I do mean to differentiate it from mere lust.

    Would you differentiate the love shared by two roommates (of mixed gender) and the love shared by a husband and wife? Does that difference amount to more than sex? Would you differentiate the romantic love felt by a husband toward his wife and the lust felt toward a mere object of desire?

    While I can’t speak to the positions held by you or others here (of which I am not specifically aware), I can say that much conservative Christian approbation is not limited to sexual behavior but extends to all romantic affection and partnership practiced by gay couples. By contrast, pre-marital sex is prohibited — but not other forms of love and intimacy shared by non-married, romantic (heterosexual) partners. As such, the former attitudes go well beyond the regulation of sex. This speaks to my initial skepticism regarding David Blakeslee’s characterization of such prohibitions as just another sexual moray, in line with other morays against premarital sex, etc.

    The subject interests me because it highlights the disparity between the way many conservative Christians frame their values among themselves and the way these values impact gay people.

    While I am frank in my disagreement with many opinions espoused on this blog, I come here precisely because I want to acquaint myself with opinions diverging from my own. I do my best to understand the perspectives of those that espouse such opinions. I certainly understand that many respondents will not share my point of view. I would, however, prefer if they would honestly attempt to engage my comments and appreciate that my opinions are neither frivolous nor vapid. If other comentators are made unduly uncomfortable by those that disagree with them, by all means, they should not feel obliged to respond.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    The entirety of my point was that the romance and relationships experienced by gay couples is not limited to the bedroom, any more than that straight couples.

    But the aim of homosexual relationships is the bedroom, eventually. Like Eddy says, your argument doesn’t fly. You can’t take SEX out of homosexuality. Romance is sterile if it does not intend to be consummated at some point. There is love on another order that is true same-sex friendship. We all have need of that kind of totally appropriate relationship. But the kind of companionship you speak of is meant to be equated with male-female love — the kind that makes families and procreates the human race.

  • Michael Bussee

    You can’t take SEX out of homosexuality

    Sure you can Debbie. As Gary got sicker, sex was out of the question. We were still lovers. Still homosexual. Still slept in the same bed and held each other. I was was much more than friendship.

    Homosexuality and heterosexuality are a lot more than just the few minutes each weak that you might get sexual. And the love — the gay love — goes on even when the sex stops. At least it does if it’s real love.

  • Michael Bussee

    And in case you didn’t notice, gays procreate and make families. They are also part of families. Heterosexuals don’t have a monopoly on that.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Michael, you missed my point. Sex cannot be separated form the concept of homosexuality. The very word means to be attracted, in a sexual sense, to the same sex. You and Gary had plenty of that until you no longer were able to. And gays do not procreate on their own. They get help from opposite sex egg and sperm donors or surrogate wombs. They make “family” groupings by rewriting the rules.

  • Eddy

    Thanks, Debbie. I’m always in somewhat of a bind when Michael brings his personal life into the discussion. It’s almost impossible to proceed with the discussion, respecting the personal nature of what he introduces. I bow to your ability to address it without getting unduly personal.

  • Mary

    Just a personal note on family groupings. Since I am not married nor have children, my “family” consists of a lot of exotic landscapes. That means, people from different cultures and backgrounds. I consider them my family. So gay families are not really re-writing the rules. Some have procreated in the traditional manner and then went on to live with homosexual spouses and groupings formed from that. Etc… etc…

  • hazemyth

    I certainly don’t mean to deny that romantic relationships are also sexual (at least potentially). However, if by ‘aim’, you mean the sole, primary or essential aim, I would disagree. At least, I would not make such a summary statement of all romantic relationships, gay or otherwise. Many people want a loving life partner for companionship and mutual care — a sort of companionship differentiable from platonic companionship and yet differing in ways more than merely sexual. Yet people obviously seek such partners among the pool of potential (or at least theoretical) sexual partners. There are not bright lines defining these things. They are bundled together in often ill-defined ways without being simply synonymous.

    As I said, my line of reasoning was spurred by David Blakeslee’s statement above, that prohibitions against homosexuality are prohibitions against sexual behavior. (Admittedly Dr. Blakeslee made this comment only as a brief aside. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been present to participate further in the discussion.) We can agree that gay relationships involve sex. It does not seem we have yet agreed that they also involve other attachments and behaviors that cannot be reduced to sex. Prohibitions against homosexuality are generally prohibitions against such relationships in toto and not merely against certain behaviors therein. In this way they contrast with prohibitions against mere sexuality among straight partners, which do not necessarily implicate other attachments or behaviors.

    You observe accurately that, in my statement, gay love is “meant to be equated with male-female love — the kind that makes families and procreates the human race.”

    I take it that you also mean same sex love doesn’t do this. In point of fact, gay romantic relationships also constitute the kind of love that makes families, as evidenced by the gay-headed families that exist today. Such relationships have led gay persons to conceive (though not, of course, together, as in straight relationships), bringing new life into this world and nurturing it through to adulthood. Whether or not you approve of such families, you cannot in all accuracy say that gay love does not do this, which is why I feel the equation holds.

    It is true that gay people do not procreate as straight couples do but your statement was not limited to this. Nor is it readily apparent in your statement why such procreation is definitively better than other ways of forming families and conceiving life.

    When we discuss procreation in relation to sexual morality, we may need to establish some basic tenants, first. What is the connection between the two? Is only (potentially) procreative sex permissible? Or all sex between married persons? Or only vaginal sex, with or without contraception? If the latter, is this because procreative sex is also vaginal sex? And by what mechanism does that permission extend from the former to the latter? Of what importance is fertility or the absence thereof –and the implicit (im)possibility of procreation? I pose these questions to help us determine to what extent we are discussing procreative acts or supposedly procreative relationships, in how we value these relationships.

    Again, if you are interested in understanding (not to say agreeing with) my perspective, while contrasting it to and articulating your own, as a means of deepening our understanding of both, by all means let’s continue the discussion. I apologize, but I worry that you are only interested in finding ways to rebut my argument. That would be a discussion without merit, for me.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ hazemith,

    I am still here.

    Biblical prohibitions about homosexuality seem exclusively related to sexual behavior…I don’t think Christians can find any biblical support to criticize Same Sex relationships except as it is sexually expressed.

    Caring and compassion are examples of what God wishes for us in all our relationships…

    Michael’s care for his partner, especially at the end is commendable.

  • Michael Bussee

    Thanks, David. That’s the point I was trying to make. Gay love is not all about gay sex. Sorry for using my own personal experience as an example, Eddy. I appreciate that you do not ever bring your personal life into these disucssions. You must have more restraint than I have.

  • Michael Bussee

    We can agree that gay relationships involve sex. It does not seem we have yet agreed that they also involve other attachments and behaviors that cannot be reduced to sex

    That’s odd, Debbie. Why wouldn’t we agree that there is more to gay love (other attachments and behaviors) than gay sex? We certainly do not reduce heterosexual love to sex.

  • Michael Bussee

    What is the difference between a gay “married” relationship with no sex (I know such a couple) and a straight married relationship with no sex (I know of several.)…? There is obviously more to it than sex — or the lack of it.

    Why is the first one “sin” if there is no sex? The gay couple in question has decided not to have sex for religious reasons. Are they still committing a sin by living together as non-sexual “gay” lovers? What makes their relationship “sin”?

  • Michael Bussee

    And Mary, thanks so much for your comments on “family”. My experience (sorry, I can’t help sharing some of it) echoes your own.

  • Eddy

    hazemuth:

    Prohibitions against homosexuality are generally prohibitions against such relationships in toto and not merely against certain behaviors therein.

    I believe I’d need for you to back this up. I personally do not believe it to be true. When I was active in ministry, I counselled several partners who broke off the sexual part of the relationship but continued as loving and caring friends. My only admonition to them was to be cautious with any physical expression as it might ignite the fire of memory and, hence, lead to sin. Please note that I said ‘lead to sin’. I’ll admit that I cautioned about other physical expression but I did not deem it to be sin; I simply warned that it could lead to sin. I happen to know this thinking to be true among several of the EXODUS ministries so I don’t know where your conclusion is coming from.

    You said yourself that there are no bright lines. Is it possible that you are hearing more than what is being said. If the conversation involves someone who is in a sexual relationship but happens to be talking about the non-sexual part of the romance, I can see where that line could get even more dim.

    In your responses to Debbie, you went totally to the procreative imagery while I’m pretty sure that Debbie has laid out other scenarios in defense of the male/female model. She’s far more articulate than I am and I will allow her that ‘honor’. I do want to comment though on the gay family/gay parenting angle. I believe I hear what you are trying to say…that gays are just as whole and just as good as parenting as any straight. I believe we recognize that. What we don’t recognize is that gay coupling makes the best parenting scenario. Yes, gay men can father children. But at whose expense? Whose uterus did they use and how is she impacted? It seems that, even in a best case scenario, the child has at least one part-time parent. And, one of the gay partners does not have the privilege of seeing their genetics work out in the child. In times of relationship tension, can the notion of “I’m the real father…I’m the one with genetic ties” rear it’s head? That holds true for lesbians where one is artificially pregnated; the one who is the ‘womb mother’ gets a bonding edge over the other partner. Science can work all kinds of wonders with physicality; as yet, it has no real track record in emotion management.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I do at times speak from my personal life but, more often than not, it is ministry anecdotes and not my personal life. When it is my personal life (such as the lessons learned in ‘Wayward Emotions’…when I fell in love with my male ministry partner in Bible school), I do so with the understanding that I’d better be prepared to honestly answer any questions that my telling might prompt. If not, I feel that the telling is not fair. I get to paint it my way, picking all the shades, hues and nuances as they serve my purpose. That hints to the frustration I feel when you bring personal stuff (namely, your daughter, your ex-wife or Gary). You allow for some fishing there but there’s definitely a limit. I believe in and respect the limit most of the time but sometimes there seems to be no way to address the message you’re conveying in your personal revelation without fishing over the limit. You and I are both getting better in that regard. You bring up your personal life far, far less as an example than you used to and I manage to comment without probing too deeply.

    ———

    Why is the first one “sin” if there is no sex? The gay couple in question has decided not to have sex for religious reasons. Are they still committing a sin by living together as non-sexual “gay” lovers? What makes their relationship “sin”?

    I’m not sure why you are asking us this. Have I called it sin? Has David? Warren? Debbie? Ann? Perhaps if you tell us who is calling it ‘sin’ and under what circumstances they deemed it so, we can help.

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy, I have told you before that I am perfectly willing to answer any questions you have about my life. I have said that I won’t continually and publically re-apologize for the pain I caused averyone when I divorced. Anything else you want to know I will do my best to answer honestly and fully.

  • Michael Bussee

    You bring up your personal life far, far less as an example than you used to and I manage to comment without probing too. deeply.

    You are right. Ann suggested that I self-disclose less to “protect the innocent” so-to-speak — my daughter and ex-wife.

    And I appreciate that you have been more sensitive when I do set a limit — particularly with very inimate and personal information about my daughter and ex-wife. Then, I get protective — for THEM.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    What makes their relationship “sin”?

    Very loaded question, Michael. It could be sin if they are co-opting the covenant model of marriage as God intended it to be between a man and a woman. They are obviously more than just room mates. They are cohabiting in what is presumed to be a romantic relationship, even if they do not chose to do the “one-flesh” part. They are still liable to stumble, or cause others who are weaker and know of their relationship to.

  • Mary

    Debbie,

    I see your point. But some people really do have deep friendships and that should also be honored. If we are all going to refrain from doing things that might make us or others stumble – I suggest the world silence itself right now.

  • Michael Bussee

    . They are cohabiting in what is presumed to be a romantic relationship,

    Yes. that is what they are doing. Is that sin?

    To Eddy, I suppose if I give an example from my own life, I can always say, “For the sake of those I love, I would prefer not to go into that much detail. It’s rather personal — for them – and I have no right to disclose details of their lives that might be painful — for them. I trust that you will understand.”

    How would that be?

  • Eddy

    Michael– I composed this and then noted that you’ve posted again while I was writing. I’ll let this stand rather than rewrite…and attach an addendum at the very end.

    So then, which is it? Your posting at 5:03 which says ‘dig away’ or your posting at 5:07 that acknowledges there are ‘fishing limits’?

    I believe the second is the true and correct answer. At the moment, you are aware of the boundaries you have re your wife and daughter but you also have Gary boundaries too. I recall that the topic of “Gary/AIDS” has been sensitive and also that questions re the beginning of your relationship with Gary approach sensitivity since they overlap into the ‘wife and daugter’ area.

    I anticipate that your answer will be something like “I said ‘my life’…not other people”…but that would ignore the real situation we’re in…we’re talking about sexuality here…and with very rare exceptions it’s about sex between people. (That could make both your ex wife and Gary as viable discussion points.) And, when you say that you’re a father…that brings both the ex-wife and the daughter into the mix. (BTW, I mean no disrespect by leaving out the name of your ex; it’s more out of respect for her privacy. It was about two weeks ago that I was searching through my ‘keeper’ box and found a letter she had written me way back in the 1980′s!)

    But that’s all beside the point. The point is that YOU have said on numerous occasions that it wasn’t a good idea. I’ve agreed with that and with the reasoning. You can count on me to remind you when you’ve crossed your own line and to further remind you of the reasons why you drew the line in the first place. You’ve got a lot of valid ‘fishing limits’ so, if you’re going to bring in your personal life, perhaps use it as a side point rather than the crux of your argument. (In your comment to Debbie, it was pretty much the whole point.)

    ——–

    Oddly, you addressed in two separate posts the parts of my comments that were a statement and then failed to respond to the part that was an actual question.

    I’m not sure why you are asking us this. Have I called it sin? Has David? Warren? Debbie? Ann? Perhaps if you tell us who is calling it ’sin’ and under what circumstances they deemed it so, we can help.

    ———-

    here’s the addendum:

    There may be some value in your proposed statement but I’m inclined to think that there’s more to be said about not making them the main focus or point of your rebuttal. In your comments here…your end of life relationship with Gary was your rebuttal. So, your statement wouldn’t be quite fair there. “I’ve raised a point that refutes your point but sorry…you can’t question my point because it’s violates the personal space (or memory) of others.” I believe in another comment you addressed gay parenting without citing your own fatherhood status. The waters there were safe.

  • Ann

    Regarding what we share in common – I believe we all have instinct. What role does instinct play in regard to who we have sex with?

  • Michael Bussee

    Eddy, I am open to sharing just about anything — except when I believe it may hurt someone I love. Is there anything you want to know that I have not explained? Ask. If it is too personal, I will say so. I will give you the same respect.

  • Michael Bussee

    Do you want to know how and when Gary got AIDS? When we first had sex? What?

  • Michael Bussee

    Yes, I am open to discussing jsut about everything. And, yes, there are SOME “fishing limits” as you call them. Everyone deserves a little privacy — especially when the information might hurt an innocent person. I imagine there are some things I could ask you that would be too personal for public discussion. It’s about RESPECY Eddy.

  • Michael Bussee

    I’m not sure why you are asking us this. Have I called it sin? Has David? Warren? Debbie? Ann? Perhaps if you tell us who is calling it ’sin’ and under what circumstances they deemed it so, we can help.

    At some point you all have. I was asking what makes it “sin” — the behavior alone?

  • Ann

    At some point you all have.

    Michael,

    On this point I must step in – I don’t believe you can cite me ever using the word sin regarding this issue.

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry Ann. You are right. You never have.

  • Ann

    thank you Michael :-)

  • Michael Bussee

    You are welcome. I was asking it somewhat rhetorically, not to anyone specifically — “What makes something — anything — “sin”? For me, it is the intent, not the action.

  • Ann

    “What makes something — anything — “sin”? For me, it is the intent, not the action.

    Very good question – I know what I impulsively want to say but think I will ponder it for awhile and see what else comes to me before I answer.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    At some point you all have. I was asking what makes it “sin” — the behavior alone?

    I believe that statement is untrue. The question you just answered…pronouncing us all guilty… was my question asking you which of us here present was guilty of pronouncing the following ‘sin’. Here is your actual question; it’s the one where I took your sentence that followed and asked you to clarify because I didn’t think we were guilty. Still you say we are.

    Why is the first one “sin” if there is no sex? The gay couple in question has decided not to have sex for religious reasons. Are they still committing a sin by living together as non-sexual “gay” lovers? What makes their relationship “sin”?

    You’ve now said (and subsequently apologized to Ann) that all of us have said that a gay couple who are not having sex for religious reasons are still in sin…that we call their relationship ‘sin’. That’s simply not true. I’m a bit miffed because I just finished explaining that to hazemith in a post at 3:43 PM.

    hazemuth said:

    Prohibitions against homosexuality are generally prohibitions against such relationships in toto and not merely against certain behaviors therein.

    I countered:

    I believe I’d need for you to back this up. I personally do not believe it to be true. When I was active in ministry, I counselled several partners who broke off the sexual part of the relationship but continued as loving and caring friends. My only admonition to them was to be cautious with any physical expression as it might ignite the fire of memory and, hence, lead to sin. Please note that I said ‘lead to sin’. I’ll admit that I cautioned about other physical expression but I did not deem it to be sin; I simply warned that it could lead to sin. I happen to know this thinking to be true among several of the EXODUS ministries so I don’t know where your conclusion is coming from.

  • Michael Bussee

    OK. You got me Eddy. Thought I could slip one past ya.

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry you got miffed.

  • Eddy

    And I’m sorry you miffed me! :-)

    But, more importantly, WHAT are you saying and why? You’ve gone all cutesy here all of a sudden…but you’re messing with the truth in a conversation that hazemuth feels important.

    Hazemuth claims we call non-sexual ‘homosexual’ pairings sin; you say we call non-sexual ‘homosexual’ pairings sin. I say it’s a rather serious charge and that we’re not guilty. Please state clearly what it is that you claim we are guilty of…or withdraw or apologize for your erroneous statement. Thank you.

  • Ann

    Thought I could slip one past ya.

    This doesn’t sound like it is conducive to a meaningful discussion – unless I am missing something – am I?

  • Michael Bussee

    Got me again. but not “messing with the truth” — just (obviously) not expressing myself in a precise manner. I am sorry.

    I should have said: “Based on previous discussions here, I would assume that many (not all) of you believe non-sexual ‘homosexual’ pairings are necessarily sin. Am I correct?”

    That was what I was trying to get at and why I shared about my non-sexual gay lover friends. I did a poor job of it, obviously.

    Was curious if folks here saw only the sex as “sin” or if you might think their relationship was necessarily sinful because they see themselves as gay lovers.

    Sorry I did not express myself more clearly. I wrongly assumed that you would believe that even the non-sexual lover relationship was wrong.

  • Michael Bussee

    I did not mean to “accuse” anyone here of anything or “mess with the truth”. I was (wrongly) making an assumption that those of you who believe that gay sex is sin might also think that non-sexual gay pairings were necessarily sin.

    I stand corrected for my thoughtless error. And I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have offended by doing this.

    I should not have made any assumptions. I should have simply asked. I am sorry. DId not mean to offend or confuse. Still curious as to what folks here might believe about what makes something sin.

    Less miffed now, Eddy?

  • Ann

    Michael,

    I can only speak for myself and allow others to do the same for themselves. For me, I cannot put my desires, whatever they are, above my love for God and what He has asked me to do and not do. I know that sounds simple but it is what guides me in my life.

  • Michael Bussee

    That makes sense to me, Ann. Each of us must live according to our best understanding of God’s will for us. Hope I did not offend you. If I did, I am truly sorry.

  • Mary

    non-sexual ‘homosexual’ pairings are necessarily sin

    Honestly, I think every situation is independent and cannot be judged by me. But for the most part, No, I do not think such pairings are necessarily considered sin.

  • Eddy

    Less miffed but very confused. It was all in plain english…yet somehow you didn’t follow it.

    Here’s the first part:

    Why is the first one “sin” if there is no sex? The gay couple in question has decided not to have sex for religious reasons. Are they still committing a sin by living together as non-sexual “gay” lovers? What makes their relationship “sin”?

    I’m not sure why you are asking us this. Have I called it sin? Has David? Warren? Debbie? Ann? Perhaps if you tell us who is calling it ’sin’ and under what circumstances they deemed it so, we can help.

    I copied and pasted the second paragraph and asked you again which of us called it sin and you answered that we all did. At about the same time of my second asking, I even posted the answer I referenced above where I believe I addressed it quite clearly.

    My question is very direct and straightforward and your question that it followed was also very clear. So, I cannot comprehend the confusion or misunderstanding that you allege in your apology posts. (Please reread what I quoted at the beginning of this comment. There was no confusion as to what you asking…you were clearly referencing the non-sexual. There was no mincing of words in my follow-up question. I went directly to what you just implied and said I didn’t believe it was true.)

    The only clear remedies for such confusion that I can think of are 1) that, if a direct question (such as mine was) is asked, we address that in our very next post rather than going off on some other tangent. That way we won’t lose sight of what ‘it’ is. 2) that we be very careful when using words like ‘it’ when the ‘it’ we are referring to is any further than a sentence or two away. This helps the writer to stay clearly on track and is also good for a reader who may have missed the original ‘it’ some half dozen posts away. 3) and that we avoid the cutesy comebacks. It’s no secret to anyone that the blog relationship between you and I is a bit strained. Cutesy, when typed…and when mixed feelings exist….can easily be misconstrued. We really don’t know if it’s meant with a smile, with bared teeth or is simply an attempt to deflect or minimize the legitimate concerns of another.

    So color me mildly miffed…but now for the waste of my time. And confused. But, really, let’s drop it. Hazemuth reopened this discussion and did so with thoughtful comments and questions. I’m feeling that we’ve hijacked that productive conversation for this detour.

    —-

    Hazemuth–

    I labored in this detour because Michael’s questions (that I opened this post with) echoed your own allegations that I also answered to. A part of me wonders if the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” mantra that most (if not all) of us believe in has been so twisted by our gay adversaries that it’s simple truth is obscured. We believe that the bible deems it sin to have sex with someone of your own gender. We also believe that entertaining fantasies or lusts about having sex with someone of your own gender (and heterosexually, for someone other than your spouse) is sin. (There is some wiggle room here depending on individual interpretations of ‘entertaining’, ‘fantasies’ and ‘lusts’ and also understanding that ‘objectification’ is also sin. This would be best be described as purposely ‘getting hot and bothered over an image’– even if there isn’t direct fantasy of ‘having sex’.)

    In those instances, I believe the ‘we’ is pretty universal among conservatives but there are always exceptions.

  • Ann

    Still curious as to what folks here might believe about what makes something sin.

    Michael,

    I am still pondering this. My first thought was/is anything that violates the Ten Commandments, which I believe is the basis of all civility.

  • Michael Bussee

    Thanks Mary. I have to admit that I am somehwat surprised so far. I would have thought (and I was wrong it seems) that even non-sexual gay lover relationships would be considered “sin” by those who believe that homosexual sex is sin.

    Now I am getting the feeling that it may be just the actual gay sex– and not gay love — that is problematic.

    In One Nation Under God, Ralph Blair observed (and I am paraphrasing a bit), “Some have suggested that gays might live together in a committed relationship but not have gay sex…It points out that it is not homosexuality, per se, that they have a problem with but specific genital acts.”

    Does that come close to expressing what some (not all) here feel?

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann, that makes sense. I am curious as to how you see gay sex as being related to the 10 commandments…

  • Ann

    Hope I did not offend you. If I did, I am truly sorry.

    Michael,

    You did not offend me – I always appreciate the way we can reason things out.

  • Michael Bussee

    My apology stands. I made an erroneous assumption and did not express myself well. I am sorry if I offended anyone. Enough said.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    It’s not just about sex but that is a big part of it. Some people identify as gay but think acting on those feelings is a sin but not “being” gay. Some people have strong, strong feelings for another human and know that making that relationship sexual is not what God intended (in their faith perspective) and so they don’t make it sexual (that could be for anyone really) and then there are those who feel it is a sin and go ahead and act out that sin, and then there are those who do not feel a strong and close relationship is a sin but that acting on it is a sin and of course there are those who feel niether is a sin.

    You can’t lump everyone into the same boat. The relationship with God is very personal, private and intimate. To know what someone believes you have to ask. We have all been on different and yet similar journeys.

  • Michael Bussee

    You can’t lump everyone into the same boat. The relationship with God is very personal, private and intimate. To know what someone believes you have to ask. We have all been on different and yet similar journeys.

    Thanks for your patience Mary. As I said, I made a very mistaken assumption about what many folks here might believe. You are right —

    “To know what someone believes you have to ask”.

    I should have done that in the first place. I am truly sorry. I honestly did not mean to offend.

  • Ann

    I am curious as to how you see gay sex as being related to the 10 commandments

    Michael,

    I am not sure if gay sex is related to the Ten Commandments. Adultry, according to the Bible, is having sexual relationships outside of marriage.

    In that context, for many, it could relate to the seventh commandment.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann: Thanks for that. That makes sense.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Again, if you are interested in understanding (not to say agreeing with) my perspective, while contrasting it to and articulating your own, as a means of deepening our understanding of both, by all means let’s continue the discussion. I apologize, but I worry that you are only interested in finding ways to rebut my argument. That would be a discussion without merit, for me.

    Sigh. May I suppose if I had not been the one to first respond the hazemyth and reopen this war of words, someone else would have? Forgive me.

    Hazemyth, your above comment is a bit weasely, especially given the way you sought to reopen this thread by quoting a comment from David that was in his response to a comment from you saying you were not looking for a debate but some kind of mutual understanding via a discussion. You did not cite it as David’s comment but made it appear as yours. I had to take the time just now to go back and search a thread that has precious few comments from you in it. So, you created the illusion that you did, in fact, want to debate the issues here.

    So tell me, how does one artfully contrast his or her views with another’s and make it appear as if those views are not a rebuttal? I’d really like to know.

  • Ann

    Still curious as to what folks here might believe about what makes something sin.

    Michael,

    If one chooses to believe what the Bible says, then it is clearly written what makes something a sin or sinful. If one chooses to listen to that small, still voice (some call it a conscience – some call it God’s voice) then it is clear to them what makes something a sin or sinful. If one chooses to have a moral code that they value, then sin will be clarified for them. Contrary to universal beliefs, I think it is what we choose to believe that tells the true story about our perception of sin. I am not saying personal belief is an evolved way of thinking or believing, it is just how most people live their life.

  • Michael Bussee

    If one chooses to believe what the Bible says, then it is clearly written what makes something a sin or sinful.

    Clear to them, Ann. Not so clear to others. There are many who “choose to believe what the Bible says” but who do not believe that the Bible clearly condemns all homosexuality.

    For these folks — I am one of them — We use our best understanding of the Bible — and that “still small voice” (I think it is the Holy Spirit) — and a basic moral code (I use the Two Great Commandments) to guide the way we live our lives.

    But I respect that others base their views on sin on what they believe the bible “clearly” says. That is just as liegit as those who approach the issue from “still, small voice” or moral code — or some combination of these. Thanks so much for sharing your views.

  • Ann

    Clear to them, Ann. Not so clear to others

    Exactly, that is why I used the word “choose” – it is what they reference when seeking clarity for themselves. No one can make anyone else believe the same thing unless they are of the same mindset.

  • Ann

    There are many who “choose to believe what the Bible says” but who do not believe that the Bible clearly condemns all homosexuality.

    Yes, again this is why I used the words “choose to believe” – when it all comes out in the wash, I think this is what people do. They choose what to believe and how to apply it to their lives.

  • Ann

    Also, I just cited three examples of what people choose to believe and align themselves with and by – I am sure there are many others.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    There are many who “choose to believe what the Bible says” but who do not believe that the Bible clearly condemns all homosexuality.

    What kinds of homosexuality do you believe the Bible clearly condemns? (my hunch is you have answered this before, elsewhere, so forgive me for asking you to repeat yourself.).

  • Ann

    I still am pondering your earlier question about what I think makes something a sin – I have answered in general terms, leaving my personal view out of it. I think that reluctance comes from my personal understanding that God’s grace is far greater than any sin and that He will find us, in the fullness of time, and bring us to redemption. I certainly have no problem saying what is right or wrong, according to my world view, however, I believe any sin against God or what He has provided for us or His plan for our lives, ultimately is between us and God.

  • Michael Bussee

    What kinds of homosexuality do you believe the Bible clearly condemns?

    I believe it condemns ANY sort of sex which would violate the Two Great Commandments.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    I believe it condemns ANY sort of sex which would violate the Two Great Commandments.

    Does this include the Apostle Paul’s condemnation in his epistle to the Romans?

  • Michael Bussee

    I think Paul was speak of practices in Rome — temple prostitution, cultic sex practices.

  • Michael Bussee

    Idol worshippers.

  • Michael Bussee

    I agree with this, concerning Paul and Romans 1:26-2:1, I Corinthians 6:9-11 and I Timothy 1:10:

    All three references about sexual deviance are found in the writings of Paul. These passages have always been difficult to translate and even more difficult to interpret because there are no clear English equivalents into which the key Greek words can be translated. The most exhaustive study of the issues involved was published by author Robin Scroggs in his book The New Testament and Homosexuality published in 1983.

    In his study, Scroggs takes us into the Jewish and Greek worlds of Paul’s day. He researched the sexual practices and the issues of morality of that day as reflected in literature extant from that day. He found no indication of interest in same-sex sexual relationships between consenting adults. What he did find was the widespread practice of pederasty. In its usual form pederasty was a form of prostitution in which young boys were used sexually by heterosexual males. Devout Jews and Christians were understandable critical of this practice found widely among the Greeks. It is in this context that the words and expressions used by Paul are found in other literature o the same period.

    http://home.wanadoo.nl/inspiritus/What%20does%20the%20Bible%20say%20about%20homosexuality.htm

  • Michael Bussee

    I accept that it may be very clear to other Bible believers that what we gay Christians call “the clobber passages” are undeniable condemnations of ANY form of homosexuality. I disagree.

  • Eddy

    “Hear, 0 Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

    Michael–

    You just spent part of yesterday and a fair part of today asking and reasking us to clarify what we thought was sin.And a few of us went to considerable lengths to answer your valid questions and to expound when you requested it. If you’d like, in the future we’ll toss out a Bible verse that can be interpreted umpteen ways when applied to sexuality as our ‘clear’ answer rather than make any attempt to seriously honor what you are asking.

    Let’s try tackling David’s question from another angle. Can homosexual behaviors such as S & M or ‘tricking’ ever be accomplished while honoring the two great commandments? If yes, please provide examples. (Please, there’s no need to expound on the fact that heteros have similar issues. We get that and will apply your logic to hetero situations that are similar.)

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    A note of clarification re my first paragraph….I had been composing this comment ever since reading your 12:45 response and did not check my inbox to see that you have provided some deeper response. I would however still appreciate an answer to my closing paragraph. Thanks.

  • Michael Bussee

    Can homosexual behaviors such as S & M or ‘tricking’ ever be accomplished while honoring the two great commandments?

    Personally, I don’t see how tricking could be. S&M? i suppose that would depend. Are we talking fantasy or violence?

  • Michael Bussee

    I think I have expressedf before that I believe that sex belongs (has its most meaningingful expression) within the context of a loving, committed, monogamous, God-centered relationship.

    This is my own personal conviction based on my best understanding of the Bible, the “still small voice” of God or conscience that Ann mentioned and the moral code of Jesus as expressed in the Two Great Commandments.

    I know, accept and honor that other Bible-believing Christians have their own approach to these issues based on their best understanding of Scripture and of God’s will for them.

  • Michael Bussee

    I any event,I am sorry that you spent so much time on this and that I seemed to dereail your conversation. I did not mean to waste anyone’s time or show disrespect. I will get back to more important matters, like Uganda.

  • Michael Bussee

    BTW, I am only speaking of what is moral for ME. As Ann and Mary pointed out, ultimately these things are between the indiviudal and God. He alone is Judge.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    Hoping you can double task, as you have been, attending to both this conversation and Uganda.

    Thanks for your answer re ‘tricking’.

    Re S & M, from your question, I’m guessing that you feel there may be some scenarios where a person could be involved in non-violent S & M or fantasy and still be in tune with the two great commandments. Do I guess correctly and, as I asked originally, can you provide an example?

  • Eddy

    BTW, I am only speaking of what is moral for ME. As Ann and Mary pointed out, ultimately these things are between the indiviudal and God. He alone is Judge.

    Very true. And I believe it’s true, to a great extent, for ALL of us. But we’ve entered into a conversation based on the topic ‘Reflections on what we have in common’…then that conversation more or less died and resurrected…and we’ve come back to it. Most of us have given some voice to ‘He alone is judge’ along the way, in this thread or in others, but that still leaves us with plenty to talk about…plenty to try to understand about one another.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Michael,

    Thanks…

    Most of my struggle with applying “just” the two greatest commandments is an outgrowth of experience in human nature (not homosexual nature).

    You may recall that my long-term concern is with the institution of marriage.

    I am very concerned with the intersection of Biblical Taboos: “God Hates Divorce” with overarching, summarizing commands: the two greatest commandments.

    It is quite possible to read the latter commands as superseding the former command…

    Apparently, however, the vagueness of the definition of love leaves lots of mischief…vagueness that tends to leave children and women disadvantaged. The explicit taboo against Divorce (for example), and as reinforced by Christ, doesn’t allow for much wiggle room.

    Like homosexuality, many Biblical scholars believe that divorce today is much different than divorce spoken of in the Bible…

    It is all, quite vexing.

  • David Blakeslee

    Ian Fleming has done more to undermine sexual mores than either Kevin Jennings or Hugh Hefner.

  • Michael Bussee

    Regarding S&M: This covers many things. Fantasies and realities. “Pretending” and “play”, “dominance” and “subimision” between consenting married relationships (or in the case of gays who cannot marry, “committed” relationships) might very well be an expression of love.

    Pretending to be in control, using costumes, leather, toys, etc. I don’t see a problem. Deliberately inflicting pain on someone, torture, forcing someone to do something or damaging the person physically or emotionally does not “fit” for me.

    I don’t know if that answers your question, but it’s the best I could come up with right now.

  • Michael Bussee

    Apparently, however, the vagueness of the definition of love leaves lots of mischief…vagueness that tends to leave children and women disadvantaged.

    I agree. That’s why I think we must be rigorous in really seeking to understand and live out these two commandments — to THINK and to PRAY.

    First: Who is God and how do I treat Him? Second (like the first) Who are my neighbors and how do I treat them” — and not just throw around a vague application based on some FEELING of love. That is not enough.

  • Michael Bussee

    It would be easier, I suppose, if I believed that only heterosexual married sex was moral. That doesn’t require much thinking or soul-searching on my part. Are they married? A man and a woman? OK.

    Two guys? Nope.

    The way I approach it, since I don’t think the Bible clearly condemns all homosexuality, I have to always ask, “Does this show love to God? Does this show love to others?” There is no cut-and-dried, obvious, perfectly clear answer. It is more difficult, I think, this way. I kinda envy those who just have to look at the “rules” and obey them.

  • Ann

    Another thing to ponder – when we reflect on the decisions we have made based on our belief in God, the Bible, personal morals, etc. – have those decisions worked out in our best interest? Are we better people in our minds and hearts and bodies because of those decisions. Have our lives expanded in positive ways or contracted in negative ways? Has our decisions brought out the best in us and those we involved in our belief and decisions? For those who are aligned to a faith or religion – have our decions brought glory to God?

  • Mary

    Ann,

    I feel convicted everyday over some decision I have made in the past. Yet, I do know that leaving homosexuality behind was definitely a positive and my little cousin was able to leave , too. Thankfully.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Mary,

    Thanks for reminding us that sometimes difficult decisions lead to very positive outcomes.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann, thanks for that thought. I can say that for me, accepting my homosexuality was definitely a positive, though the cost to myself and others has at times been high. It was a matter of being true to God, to myself and to those I love. Thanks be to God, I think they understand that and love me anyway. :)

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry, Mary, I got confused. I wanted to thank you.

  • Ann

    My own personal experiences with decisions AND the effect they have had on my life has brought me to the profound realization that whenever I act outside the will of God, as my personal and true understanding of God to be, my life is contracted and my mind, body and spirit is affected in a negative way. When I make decisions based on what I know to be true about God and His will for my life, and how I am guided by this, I find my life expanding and my mind and body and spirit is affected in the most positive ways – the main one being the peace that passes all understanding.

    Thanks for reminding us that sometimes difficult decisions lead to very positive outcomes.

    I particularly like this thought – what David said to Mary in an earlier comment. Doing the right thing does not always have to feel good.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    The cost is always high. I come from a very liberal family. It has taken them quite a few years to get accustom to the idea that lesbians do change. Some of them still love me, I suppose. :)

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Since this thread originally was about the Kevin Jennings problem, I thought it fitting to point out a letter to the editor of the Kennebec Journal in Maine, where they are voting next week on the gay marriage initiative. The letter writer taught in Massachusetts schools and raises some good points about free speech, or the lack thereof under the growing specter of gay rights in education.

    http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/view/letters/7004011.html

  • David Blakeslee

    More Kevin Jennings,

    http://www.breitbart.tv/fistgate-massachusetts-teacher-speaks-out-about-infamous-glsen-conference/

    Apparently a teacher who attended is asserting that Jennings knew the content of the presentations and publications at the workshop.

  • Eddy

    It strikes me as very ironic that this very serious matter of free speech taken to the extreme has been derailed by our concerns over basic free speech rights in Uganda. Could it be that Uganda isn’t blind or deaf and fears that this form of extremism could one day be legitimized in their country too?

  • Mary

    No kiddung. With all the priviliges of free speeach, there are some things on the TV, internet, and advertising billboards I’d rather not see. It takes a real effort to avoid the sexual promiscuity in this culture. I can totally understand another country wanting to curtail that.

  • Eddy

    Not to mention the classroom and your school library!!!


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