Day of Dialogue?

This doesn’t look promising.

A major Christian group will take over an annual event that challenges homosexuality, weeks after the event’s main Christian sponsor pulled support for the student-focused program, saying it had become too divisive and confrontational.

Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical organization, will begin sponsoring the event known as the Day of Truth but will change the name of the happening to the Day of Dialogue, the group is set to announce Thursday.

The Day of Truth has been pushed by conservative Christian groups as a way for school students to counter the Day of Silence, an annual April event promoted by gay rights advocates to highlight threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

I will wait until the news release comes out to react more  but I was hoping the event would go away and everybody would focus on ending bias, bullying and harassment.

Recently, I spoke with an expert in bullying prevention who told me that requests for consultation have increased dramatically over the last few months. However, so too have the fearful comments from worried parents who think anti-bullying programming means their kids will be pushed into homosexuality. I am concerned that this new “day” may mean more obstacles to progress.

Update: Here is the website…

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  • Lynn David

    I’ve always had a problem with the declaration of absolute truth concerning the day when only faith is involved. I have a further problem when they say,”Focus on the Family firmly believes that the truth will rise to the surface when honest conversations are allowed to happen,” because I just do not think faith plays fair with homosexuality.

  • ken

    Lynn,

    It’s been my experience that those who know “The Truth” seldom know the facts.

  • http://www.comingout4chrisitans.net Dave

    Well .. a quick tour of the website and its associated links appears to be much of the same old rhetoric .. more of a monologue than a dialogue … (and to think .. a few years ago I would have agreed with much of what they were doing .. goes to show what listening will do). Time will tell ….

  • Debbie Thurman

    I think more time is needed to find the best way of allowing the culture to engage respectfully and peacefully on a topic of vital importance. It is perfectly understandable for an organization to step up and represent a viewpoint that counterbalances GLSEN’s in the schools. Otherwise, one side has a bully pulpit within a vulnerable and impressionable population. And that ought never to be the case for either side.

    There is a danger of taking the heart-rending suicide problem to a fever-pitch that sweeps us out to sea with emotion. If this pain is to speak its meaning to us all, it needs to be in measured, loving tones. This is an opportunity for FOTF to get it right. I pray they will.

    The Church is the other vital piece. Families need an anchor, one that never drifts.

  • Michael Bussee

    I was hoping the event would go away and everybody would focus on ending bias, bullying and harassment.

    So was I. This is very dicouraging. Didn’t Alan Chambers say that Exodus has dropped the event because it was “divisive”? Renaming it and letting FOTF pick up the tab isn’t helping one bit. Has Exodus expressed its concerns to FOTF?

  • AJ

    Warren,

    Do you see the beginnings of a rift between Exodus and other groups like FOTF? It seems like Exodus is stepping back from being their cover in the culture war, and I would think that these other groups wouldn’t be too happy with that.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    I think more time is needed to find the best way of allowing the culture to engage respectfully and peacefully on a topic of vital importance. It is perfectly understandable for an organization to step up and represent a viewpoint that counterbalances GLSEN’s in the schools.

    The Day of Silence, has a fairly singular theme: the difficulties experience in school by kids who are or are perceive to be gay. Regardless of what else one may find objectionable about GLSEN, the message of the day is “don’t bully gay kids”

    It is this message that Focus is seeking to counterbalance. And, to those students who may not be part of a faith community which teaches the subtleties of loving someone while condemning their behavior, there is but one opposite message to “it’s wrong to bully gay kids.”

    Positioned as a rebuttal to the Day of Silence, students naturally see the theme to be “it’s okay to bully gay kids.” Candy Cushman can tell CNN that she opposes bullying of anyone, but the students aren’t watching CNN – they only know that “Christians don’t accept the gays” and so neither do they have to accept or tolerate the existence of gay kids.

    They’ve never heard of Harry Hay, they don’t have a clue about The Little Black Book, they aren’t concerned about Jenkins’ gay teen student from decades ago. All they know is that the Gay-Straight Alliance wants you to be good to gay students and that Focus on the Family wants you to do the opposite.

    This month in Illinois, three students showed their opposition to Ally Week by giving the opposite message – what they perceived to be the viewpoint that counterbalances GLSEN’s.

    The showed up to class wearing Straight Pride shirts. On the back they read, “If a man lay with a male as those who lay with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination and shall surely be put to DEATH.” Yes, “death” was capitalized.

    I respect Exodus’ decision to drop the Day of Truth. But even more, I understand it. And further, I can see the perspectives that led Exodus to respond one way and Focus the other.

    You see, when we hear stories, whatever they may be, we filter our responses through our experiences. We empathize with characters based on where we see ourselves. Maybe not consciously, but on some level we see often ourselves in the place of someone in the situation.

    Most of Exodus’ leadership were, shall we say, not exactly the models of masculinity in their school years. When they hear stories of kids being relentlessly bullied because they are thought to be gay, it takes very little imagination to see themselves in the shoes of these kids.

    While average Americans were shocked by the rash of suicides, I think that for Exodus it was even more horrifying. They dropped DoT because they recognized themselves in these children and couldn’t stomach contributing to their misery.

    But is seems to me that while Exodus empathized with the victim, Focus found commonality with, well, the other party.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    AJ – Good question. I have not heard anything from Exodus about it. Alan already said the day was divisive so i guess they do differ on that aspect of it.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Positioned as a rebuttal to the Day of Silence, students naturally see the theme to be “it’s okay to bully gay kids.”

    That may be true if FOTF takes the rebuttal approach rather than the other side of a dialogue approach. If students really think anyone is telling them it’s OK to bully gay kids, maybe it’s because folks with your viewpoint are giving them permission to do so.

    If the question is “what are you going to do to end the silence?” then there ought to be room for a response that says something like “talk about the problem and some possible solutions.” The Golden Rule is a good thing. Befriending lonely, hurt or misunderstood kids is a good thing. Seems to me the dialogue comes after two entities begin to trust each other. That means somebody has to reach out and create a relationship.

    If Christian kids took the high road, they could lay aside their natural inclination to be vindicated in some way or to see Christianity vindicated through a single-issue lens. The best way to be an apologist for Christ is to show people what he looks like. Be a servant. Wash some feet.

    If dialogue is simply a bad idea because it may be too prickly to contain, and what we really ought to focus on for now is stopping bullying, then fine. Perhaps GLSEN can focus on the same thing and only that thing, too. And let’s extend the courtesy to all the other bullied victims, as well.

  • Jayhuck

    That may be true if FOTF takes the rebuttal approach rather than the other side of a dialogue approach. If students really think anyone is telling them it’s OK to bully gay kids, maybe it’s because folks with your viewpoint are giving them permission to do so.

    I don’t think so. It would be great if conservative Christians were stepping up and promoting tolerance and understanding for gay kids, but all I’ve really heard is that bullying is bad – stop that bad bullying – but don’t talk about why kids bully who they do regardless of whether that’s and essential part of the conversation. Despite the fact that there ARE gay kids in schools, conservative Christians don’t want to acknowledge their presence.

    If the question is “what are you going to do to end the silence?” then there ought to be room for a response that says something like “talk about the problem and some possible solutions.” The Golden Rule is a good thing. Befriending lonely, hurt or misunderstood kids is a good thing. Seems to me the dialogue comes after two entities begin to trust each other. That means somebody has to reach out and create a relationship.

    The Golden Rule is a good thing so we agree there. Befriending kids is a good thing too.

    If Christian kids took the high road, they could lay aside their natural inclination to be vindicated in some way or to see Christianity vindicated through a single-issue lens. The best way to be an apologist for Christ is to show people what he looks like. Be a servant. Wash some feet.

    Some Christian kids have taken the high road – a much higher road then their predecessors! Tolerance for GLBT people, even among the young Evangelicals, is increasing. And I agree, washing feet is good. That Biblical quote Dave Roberts left last week about being a servant first is a good one.

    If dialogue is simply a bad idea because it may be too prickly to contain, and what we really ought to focus on for now is stopping bullying, then fine. Perhaps GLSEN can focus on the same thing and only that thing, too. And let’s extend the courtesy to all the other bullied victims, as well.

    Gay people have been asking for dialogue on the subject of bullying for a long time, but conservative Christians don’t like the way it is shaped because it promotes tolerance and understanding of gay people. Trust them? Why should gay people trust a group who purports to love peace and then helps shape an environment that is incredibly intolerant of gay kids/people. Why should gay people reach out a hand to a group that has done nothing but malign them and work to undermine their rights? I would honestly like to be a person that extends one of those proverbial hands ( to Conservative Christians mind you, I’m aware that there are many other Christians who actually do work for justice and peace in this area) but I’m not sure I could, just yet anyway. Unless discussions like this count

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie

    That may be true if FOTF takes the rebuttal approach rather than the other side of a dialogue approach.

    Then let me rephrase my statement:

    Positioned as as “the other side” of the Day of Silence call to stop bullying, students naturally see the theme to be “it’s okay to bully gay kids.”

    If students really think anyone is telling them it’s OK to bully gay kids, maybe it’s because folks with your viewpoint are giving them permission to do so.

    Clearly, you have taken a momentary loss of your senses.

    The Golden Rule is a good thing.

    The best way to be an apologist for Christ is to show people what he looks like. Be a servant. Wash some feet.

    what we really ought to focus on for now is stopping bullying,

    I agree. I wonder whether in the end Focus’ Day of Dialogue will adopt the ideas that you and I share or choose instead to “fight the homosexual agenda.”

  • Jayhuck

    BTW – Where is Eddy! He and Mary have been conspicuously absent lately

  • Jayhuck

    Where ARE… – ugh

  • Jayhuck

    I mean -= Where ARE Eddy and Mary! Yikes – sorry for all the unnecessary posts

  • Debbie Thurman

    Clearly, you have taken a momentary loss of your senses.

    Timothy, remember that we agreed recently to “give each other some leeway.” For me, that means, if I perceive a statement from you as nonsensical, perhaps I should seek to better understand what you are trying to say, even if you’ve said it badly. Same courtesy for me, please?

    Here’s an attempt to clarify. If you still don’t get it or just disagree, fine.

    If gay students are hearing gay adults making claims that Christians are out to get them, that they want to deprive them of all their God-given rights, that there is only one way anyone can and should look at the bullying issue (i.e., it is caused or at least worsened by Evangelical-stirred-up “hate”) and that prudent opposition to or suspicion about some gay rights issues always constitutes said hate, then they may well feel justified in buying the mantra, “It’s OK to bully gay kids.” It’s not OK, of course, as common sense dictates. Anyone who will take a moment to think rationally knows that. They also ought to know that no serious group or spokesperson out there is saying such things. I think you know that, Timothy, and therefore, I will not say you have taken leave of your senses. Do be honest, however.

    Are gay kids (or those who think they are) justified in wondering where all the Christian love is and why teachers, parents, other students and Christian adults in the world seem to be throwing them to the wolves? I think they are, in large part. That’s a legitimate concern. Can we confine our discussion to the legitimate concerns rather than putting incorrect words in other people’s mouths?

    We (both sides) misunderstand each other a great deal. We can do better. We don’t

    back into neutral corners and lob grenades at each other. We don’t get in each other’s faces don’t try to beat each other into submission. We keep coming back to a dialogue that is seeking a place of mutual respect. Let FOTF take a crack at it. Hold them accountable (we all should). To dismiss them utterly is the wrong way to go.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Sorry. Hasty editing on that last paragraph.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Let FOTF take a crack at it.

    Take a crack at what exactly? Their record on this issue is worse than dismal. And between the DoS and the GRP, who really needs yet another? At best they would simply be duplicating other efforts (which serves no purpose) and at worst they will continue the DoT tradition of creating an adversarial atmosphere. Given FotF’s views on the issue, the latter is almost a given.

    The rather obvious truth here is that FotF wants to keep stoking the fires of fear, fear which leads to hatred. Exodus saw the handwriting on the wall, but FotF missed it.

    And once and for all, let’s understand that the DoS IS about discussion. The silence (which does not have to be total) is designed to START a conversation. Students do plenty of talking, during breaks, planned discussion times, after classes, or the next few days. That is the point. DoT sponsors used the spin that “debate is better than silence” but that is entirely disingenuous.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie,

    If gay students are hearing gay adults making claims that Christians are out to get them, that they want to deprive them of all their God-given rights, that there is only one way anyone can and should look at the bullying issue (i.e., it is caused or at least worsened by Evangelical-stirred-up “hate”) and that prudent opposition to or suspicion about some gay rights issues always constitutes said hate, then they may well feel justified in buying the mantra, “It’s OK to bully gay kids.” It’s not OK, of course, as common sense dictates. Anyone who will take a moment to think rationally knows that. They also ought to know that no serious group or spokesperson out there is saying such things. I think you know that, Timothy, and therefore, I will not say you have taken leave of your senses. Do be honest, however.

    It is not “gay adult males” who are telling bullied kids that evangelicals hate them; for the most part, these kids don’t know any gay adult males. But they do know conservative Christians.

    If they are hearing a false message, it isn’t from us.

    I’m all for not lobbing grenades. But my response was FAR LESS OFFENSIVE than your “blame gays for gay kids being bullied to death” statement .

  • Debbie Thurman

    It is not “gay adult males” who are telling bullied kids that evangelicals hate them

    Is that a Freudian thing? Check my original words, please.

    But my response was FAR LESS OFFENSIVE than your “blame gays for gay kids being bullied to death” statement

    And that statement? Well, I am going to give you a chance to think about it and come back with a better one than that. I’m pulling for ya. Really, Timothy.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie,

    They also ought to know that no serious group or spokesperson out there is saying such things. I think you know that, Timothy, and therefore, I will not say you have taken leave of your senses. Do be honest, however.

    Really?

    Laurie Higgins from Illinois Family Insititute

    Dr. Throckmorton believes that “Christian students should be leading the way to make schools safe and build bridges to those who often equate ‘Christian’ with condemnation.” In this statement, Dr. Throckmorton glaringly omits the truth that Christians must condemn volitional homosexual conduct. And to those who view homosexuality as moral, this necessary Christian condemnation of homosexual behavior renders homosexual students unsafe.

    Linda Harvey on bullying

    Let’s consider the real goal of homosexual activism: that everyone becomes comfortable with homosexuality, that even personal revulsion is no longer acceptable. This re-imagined “gay” utopia depends upon a widely accepted lie.

    But comfort does not equate with goodness. Even if people became much more placid about open homosexuality among 13-year-olds, it still eventually emerges as the brutal violation of childhood innocence, and natural gender and heterosexual identity, that it is. The essence of authentic goodness cannot be suppressed without dire consequences now or later.

    Mark Creech, executive director the Christian Action League of North Carolina, on an anti-bullying bill

    “The evil of the legislation,” says Creech, “is that it elevates sexual orientation and gender identity or expression on the same levels with the enumerations of race, color, ancestry, national origin, gender, physical appearance, mental, physical or sensory disability — which are all immutable or unchangeable characteristics.”

    Focus on the Family (whom you think we should give a crack at it) contributes to the message with this:

    Statistics also indicate that race, ethnicity issues, and even opposite-sex harassment actually account for more bullying problems, than do homosexual-related issues.

    And as for specific anti-bullying efforts directed towards gay kids (or those so perceived) from conservative Christians (other than Warren), well there’s … um … oh … NOTHING!!

    Liberal Christians are stepping up. They are finally gaining their voice. The head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America contributed to the It Gets Better Campaign. But NO ONE from conservative Christianity had any words of encouragement for gay kids.

    No one.

    So you may wonder how gay kids could ever believe that conservative Christians

    think that its okay to bully them. I wonder how they could ever believe that you think it’s not.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie…

    Ooops I added “males”. I guess that gives you an out so that you don’t have to address the point that you own your own image.

    If anyone thinks that conservative evangelical Christians (and Focus on the Family, in particular) care nothing about the gay kids being bullied, I’d have a very hard time pointing at anything which would prove them wrong. Why is that, Debbie?

    I have a comment in moderation. When it shows up, take a look.

  • Jayhuck

    The rather obvious truth here is that FotF wants to keep stoking the fires of fear, fear which leads to hatred. Exodus saw the handwriting on the wall, but FotF missed it.

    Amen David R!

  • Jayhuck

    But NO ONE from conservative Christianity had any words of encouragement for gay kids.

    I know! Very telling isn’t it?!

  • Timothy Kincaid

    And there’s this:

    Terry Hurlbut is chief editor of the Conservative Bible Project, an online site that receives 100,000 page views a day. He supports Focus’ Day of Dialogue.

    “Just because some kids look for excuses to rag on other kids, that doesn’t change certain fundamental facts about what human beings were made to do,” Hurlbut said.

    “It does (students) no favor to say God set up humanity for homosexuality,” he said.

    I find it hard to fathom a more callous, unconcerned statement of entitlement and self-righteousness than this.

    From what I read in Scripture, Hurlbut has more to fear on the Day of Judgement than the most “radical militant homosexual activist”.

  • Michael Bussee

    Are gay kids (or those who think they are) justified in wondering where all the Christian love is and why teachers, parents, other students and Christian adults in the world seem to be throwing them to the wolves? I think they are, in large part.

    At least, I agree with Debbie on this much. I am curious, Debbie. Why do you think the feeling is justified? Why isn’t “all the Christian love” the thing they notice first and most convincingly?

  • Eddy

    Eddy has taken leave of this blogsite. I read occasionally and have disciplined myself to refrain from commenting.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Debbie…

    My above comments seem accusatory. So I’m going to back up a bit…

    I know that you oppose bullying. I know that the vast majority of conservative Christians oppose bullying. And I know that includes bullying of gay kids.

    And I know that you are struggling to find exactly the right response that says, “hey kid, we love you. This culture war has nothing to do with how we want you to be treated. You are valued” without also giving free reign to those whom you fear are using this issue as an entry point to advance values with which you disagree. It is, no doubt, a difficult situation.

    And let me also be clear that I don’t see you as similar to Linda Harvey or Laurie Higgins. Not even close.

    But my fear is that Candy and Focus are closer to Linda and Laurie than they are to you. History suggests that – at least until now – they have put the cultural rejection of homosexuality above concern for real people. And that might be ok if it were just folk like me; I’m pretty used to it.

    But in this case it’s kids. And within my community, we see these kids as family, as us. So just as you are protective of your children and, by extension, those whom you see as part of your community (be is geographic, ideological or other community), we too get protective our our kids. So I hope you can accept that this is behind some of my passion on this subject.

    I’m not saying that there is no merit to Focus’ concerns. There is no doubt that part of telling gay kids that they are loved – from our perspective – is telling them that they are okay as they are and that they don’t need to change something that seem integral to themselves in order to be accepted or valued. And that’s tough for those who disagree with the idea that sexual orientation is real or that homosexuality is something that should be accepted as an aspect of ones self.

    So, yeah, it’s going to be difficult to craft a position that supports gay kids while holding to one’s sexual ethic. It’s not easy fitting a message of acceptance into a faith system that finds acceptance of a same-sex identity as contrary to the divine word of God.

    However, it can be done. And I think Warren’s Golden Rule Pledge is an example of one way to do so.

    My fear is that Focus will not do so. So far, and I’ve read nearly everything they have to say on the subject, their approach is to deny that kids are gay, insist that there is no need to include gay kids (or those perceived to be) in a targeted approach, and state their intention to present a Christian perspective on homosexuality.

  • ken

    Debbie Thurman# ~ Nov 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

    “If gay students are hearing gay adults making claims that Christians are out to get them, that they want to deprive them of all their God-given rights,”

    Can you give any examples of school programs where gay adults do this?

    “They also ought to know that no serious group or spokesperson out there is saying such things.”

    Actually, several years ago, NARTH had an article on their site about gender non-conforming kids. While the article didn’t outright say it was okay to physically hit them, the whole tone of the article was that teasing and humiliating these kids was an acceptable way of getting them to conform to societal notions of gender. Also at least one fo the anti-gay groups (not sure if it was FOTF, Traditional Values Coalition, American Family Association etc) had linked to that opinion piece.

  • Debbie Thurman

    Thanks for your last comment, Timothy. Truly appreciated. If we can agree that it is very difficult, yet worth it in the long run, to keep trying to find the right way to help gay kids see their self-worth while not demonizing evangelicals and their concerns, then we’ve accomplished something. I’ll take that.

    It remains to be seen how FOTF will portray itself in the “dialogue.” I will be watching and praying, as I hope you will.

    Yes, Ken, I am aware of the article in question at NARTH. Caused quite a stir. Peer pressure may have some validity, but it is far too close to bullying in this context.

    Michael, I wish I knew why Christian concern and love are not rising to the occasion in the right way during these times. I pray they will. Perhaps we just can’t see it yet.

    Now that I believe we have come to a satisfactory place in this discussion, I am ready to take my leave. Thank you for another interesting ride. Do remember this moment. Keep moving forward.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    I’m not saying that there is no merit to Focus’ concerns. There is no doubt that part of telling gay kids that they are loved – from our perspective – is telling them that they are okay as they are and that they don’t need to change something that seem integral to themselves in order to be accepted or valued. And that’s tough for those who disagree with the idea that sexual orientation is real or that homosexuality is something that should be accepted as an aspect of ones self.

    So, yeah, it’s going to be difficult to craft a position that supports gay kids while holding to one’s sexual ethic. It’s not easy fitting a message of acceptance into a faith system that finds acceptance of a same-sex identity as contrary to the divine word of God.

    Timothy, I realize that you are probably trying to be the bigger person here, empathizing heavily with the opposing attitude, but I’m not sure how helpful this is in this instance, other than to allow Debbie to feel more comfortable and perhaps less challenged.

    Replacing the comments about “same-sex identity” (when did all this become an issue of “identity?” Is one not either same-sex attracted or not?) with those of race, we can see how useless this kind of dialogue really is. The essential problem, as I see it, is the tactic used by anti-gays which claims that there are two, equal and legitimate sides to every issue. This just isn’t so.

    Let’s try it this way to illustrate:

    So, yeah, it’s going to be difficult to craft a position that supports African-American kids while holding to one’s racial ethic. It’s not easy fitting a message of acceptance into a faith system that finds acceptance of a racial equality as contrary to the divine word of God.

    It matters not that race doesn’t fit exactly into the analogy, the point is that very few people in this country would consider there to be a legitimate and equal opposing side to civil rights for African Americans. Yet your consolation above seems to acknowledge this for gay rights when discussing the issue of bullying.

    As one who has been accused on occasion of being too gracious with those who oppose GLBTs (yes, it’s true), I’m not trying to find fault, but instead would like you to perhaps explain your meaning better in light of the things I have emphasized above. Thanks.

  • stephen

    Unfortunately, David R, that won’t work. I’ve tried the same tactic substituting Muslim for gay. There is no way to get through.

    What I’ve been wondering while reading over some of the remarks enshrined here, is where was all this heartfelt outpouring to protect children from bullying before it got to be about gay kids? Because I don’t remember it. Maybe I missed something but I don’t remember FoF doing outreach to help kids before it got to be about maintaining their right to slander and vilify gay Americans.

  • Jayhuck

    I’m slightly inclined to agree with you David. The fact that FOTF is having the DoD at ALL, is a slap in the face to gay people. It would be big of us to ignore it and turn the other cheek, and maybe we should, but that’s difficult after all the things FOTF has done to our community – after all the lies it has spread.

  • concerned

    David R.

    Is one not either same-sex attracted or not?)

    This is where the problem starts and the dialogue breaks down. The answer to this question is “NO”. Much research over the past few years has shown that there is a continuim of attraction and some may identify as gay because of a strong felt attraction in that direction, but others may not and some may just have explored the possibility and found it did not fit. As long as either side of this dialogue holds onto the old idea that it is all one way or the other the dialogue will breakdown rather quickly and that kind of thinking can only damage kids who are struggling to find their own personal identity. There is bullying going on from both sides of this political pendulum so lets not ignore this or justify it. Perhaps it is time that we each look at the wrongs of our own side of the debate and do something about these first, before we attempt to remove those who come from the other side from the picture so that we can win the battle. There are no winners in this kind of battle, only losers.

    Debbie I fully respect your position and hope that all sides in this dialogue are truly open to listening to what the other has to say and for those who are incapable of this and only wish to push their own agenda further towards their own extreme, bow out so that an open free discussion can be had. As long as there is a black or white mentality prevailing on either side of this issue no constructive solutions can be found. The demonization of same-sex attraction is not helpful, but neither is the demonization of christians because of their faith in what the scriptures is saying.

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned,

    This is where the problem starts and the dialogue breaks down. The answer to this question is “NO”.

    Actually you are wrong, the answer is not No. You are right that there is a continuum, we’ve known this since the Kinsey Scale came out decades ago, but that doesn’t mean that some are primarily same-sex attracted and others are primarily opposite-sex attracted. Black or white thinking is generally bad, I agree with you here, but the facts remain:

    Many conservative Christian groups have demonstrated little compassion or understanding for gay kids when it comes to bullying

    AND

    There are people who are primarily attracted to one sex or the other, even if there are also bisexuals

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Fine, concerned, drop my comments about identifying one way or the other for now — it was a side issue to my main point anyway. The rest of my comments are germane and deserve a reply from Timothy to clarify his meaning. So pretend that part is not there at all if you like.

    Saying that both sides have made mistakes, so let’s kiss and make up is not going to accomplish anything — it is simply an extension of the faulty premise above, that there are two equally legitimate sides to each issue. There is greater guilt here on the side of the Church and therefore greater responsibility to make it right.

    As for Debbie as an individual, we have archives full of her comments which display a dismal and destructive attitude toward GLBTs. She knows this, and while she sometimes says she regrets some of those things, that has not stopped here from returning to the same well from time to time.

    These kids have done nothing wrong. Their sponsorship of the DoS is not wrong. It was a heartfelt, genuine grassroots attempt to call attention to and therefore alleviate the bullying and torment so many GLBT students endure. The Church and pseudo-ministries did not help at all, but instead designed their own anti-DoS. We have the reasons for this archived as well and it’s not pretty. Those kids did not deserve that, either.

    Civil debate is always preferred, but not at the expense of reality.

  • concerned

    David,

    Whose reality might you be referring to, the kids or your own. This is the difficulty, as I see it, with the way this debate has been handled. I have not seen much effort from the GLBT advocates to even try to understand where the christian right is coming from. I do not necessarily agree with the position so often presented by the right or more-so the way it is presented, but I would definitely have to say the same thing towards those who insist on pushing the “gay is always good or stick it” attitude that I have so often seen on other sites, some of which some of you belong.

    If you cannot look at the areas where you have failed and acknowledge them, then the problem lies with you as well as with your advisary. If you want dialogue then you have to be open to hearing what the other side is saying.

    The kids never deserve to be treated badly, but until those who are so head strong in pushing their own personal agenda start looking at the other side, the kids are always going to be the victims.

    Jayhuck,

    There are some people who are primarily attracted to the same-sex, they are not as prevelant as you want us to believe, and yet we called to be respectful of where they are at, however, not all Christians are as close minded as is so often being implied either, in fact, some of these so called right wing christians show far more compassion to the individuals than I have ever seen from some gay advocates, who can only see things through their own personal egos and agendas.

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned,

    This is the difficulty, as I see it, with the way this debate has been handled. I have not seen much effort from the GLBT advocates to even try to understand where the christian right is coming from.

    Why should gay people make the effort concerned? Why? Most conservative Christians have done nothing but malign good gay people, work to undermine their rights, lie about them, distort research to make them look bad, etc. I see absolutely no reason that good gay people, gay couples and gay families should extend any understanding whatsoever to a group of conservative Christians who have treated the gay community so poorly. Mind you, there are some conservativeChristians like Warren who have done wonderful things, but they seem to be in the minority

    The DoD is nothing but a slap in the face to gay people – a challenge to a movement that as David Roberts said was only a grassroots effort to try and bring some tolerance and understanding to gay people and kids – and what did the conservative right do, they countered the day with one of their own.

    There are some people who are primarily attracted to the same-sex, they are not as prevelant as you want us to believe, and yet we called to be respectful of where they are at, however, not all Christians are as close minded as is so often being implied either, in fact, some of these so called right wing christians show far more compassion to the individuals than I have ever seen from some gay advocates, who can only see things through their own personal egos and agendas.

    By the same token then, there are some people who are primarily attracted to the opposite sex, they are not as prevalent as you want us to believe – LOL

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Concerned, you are beating a very old and useless drum, but you are also making my point. I refer back to my comments before.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    David,

    Please let me clarify. I do not think there is “another side” to bullying. And I am not trying to empower Focus or downplay the harm they have done (and likely will do with DoD).

    But I do want to acknowledge that the position of conservative Christians on this matter can be difficult. To really be effective, you have to make compromises that can feel to a culture warrior like acquiescing to sin.

    To us, it is of less importance if a kid identifies as gay or not or whether or not he’s same-sex attracted . There is no difference in our message : “You are okay just as you are. It gets better.”

    But much of conservative Christianity doesn’t believe that the kid who accepts his attractions and identifies with his orientation (I used a term they would me more likely to use) is okay in doing so. Rather, they believe that he needs to be directed towards a ministry that will help him struggle towards heterosexuality before the ‘homosexual agenda’ scoops him up and carries his soul off to hell.

    Obviously I don’t believe in this take on human sexuality any more than I believe in papal infallibility or the Jehovah’s Witnesses mathematics on salvation. But the point is that they do.

    So, if you think that it is wrong to “encourage someone in their sin”, i.e. tell them that gay folk are okay, then you have quite a dilemma when confronted with the fact that kids are killing themselves because they feel unaccepted and tormented over being gay.

    Some, like Warren and others, have prioritized the emotional well being of the kids, ending tormenting, bullying, and suicide. Countering “gay is okay” takes a backseat to ending cruelty. God’s work is more than just condemning sinners.

    Others, like Laurie and Linda, are willing to make child sacrifice to their god. I suspect Focus will do the same.

  • concerned

    David,

    The drum you beat is equally old hack and is not in any way helpful to opening the kind of dialogue you claim you want. It is all one sided, no room for compromise, no room for dialogue.

    Timothy,

    I read your comments after ready Davids and I agree with you completely. Giving in to the “gay is always good” is extremely difficult in light of some of the very real and very destructive aspects of homosexual behavior that seem to be so easily ignored by those who have an agenda to push. Not the least of these is the destructive consequences that we are beginning to see in our youth because of the confusion that has been created by the two warring sides of this debate. Both extremes of this war are equally at fault for the harm that is being done to young people.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    I am really glad to see efforts at civil discussion. I think this is more productive than the alternative.

    Where I think this conversation will end up is consistent with my post about what kind of dialogue we will have. On the Day of Silence, GLSEN wants to raise awareness about anti-gay bullying. On the Day of Dialogue, FOF wants to raise awareness about their view of homosexuality. They are two conversations with different aims. There is two sides to the doctrinal issues, but there is no other side to the bullying question. By raising the DoD as the antithesis of the DoS, Focus errs by changing the subject. Hence, they look complicit in bullying. This is a classic mistake made by evangelicals. We often want to defend the faith, failing to see that we defend best by living the faith, rather than talking about it.

    Just go to school and volunteer to help in the bully prevention program. Love. Reach out. Be Christ without self-consciously having to defend your view of Him. That worried, scared Junior High kid really doesn’t care what you think of homosexuality. He does care that someone steps in front of a bully and says no.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Thanks Timothy. We come from similar backgrounds on faith, so what you say is nothing new to me, but I did feel it important to clarify that one area for those who might read the thread. You have only to read the mess in “concerned’s” last comment to you to see my fears illustrated — clueless but dangerous. I will say that Debbie often shows more insight than that.

    The events of the past few months have affected me deeply, and I think I’m just not so concerned anymore about how all this might present a dilemma for certain sects of the faith — that is truly their problem, just as a deeply held racist streak is for others.

    I’m tired of making excuses for them, the damage they have caused and are causing is just too great. There are others who come from the same background who “get it” and can engage in real conversation on the issue, and are willing to put that into action. I would rather put my energies there.

    If you have the patience to engage the others, more power to you. Thanks for the clarification.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    That’s a good summary, Warren. However, on this one point:

    That worried, scared Junior High kid really doesn’t care what you think of homosexuality.

    Having been that kid, I can tell you that he or she really does care what you think about homosexuality. There is just no way around that.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    And let me add, so does the bully.

  • Jayhuck

    Concerned,

    Giving in to the “gay is always good” is extremely difficult in light of some of the very real and very destructive aspects of homosexual behavior that seem to be so easily ignored by those who have an agenda to push.

    This is more of the same sort of rhetoric that we don’t need. There are destructive heterosexuals and there are destructive homosexuals. Lets leave it at that and stop painting “homosexual behavior”, whatever you mean by that, out to be something that is inherently destructive.

  • Jayhuck

    Just go to school and volunteer to help in the bully prevention program. Love. Reach out. Be Christ without self-consciously having to defend your view of Him.

    Wiser words… :)

  • Timothy Kincaid

    David,

    I am not yet willing to write off the conflict.

    I had an experience some time back with a person whom I respect who simply could not find in Scripture any way to revise his theological position on homosexuality. And this was not out of some loyalty to orthodoxy, ideological affiliation, or desire to condemn. His way of understanding God and faith precluded him from shifting his views.

    And it tore him up that his affection for me was in direct conflict with what he believed. He felt far more pain over his beliefs than I did. He desperately wanted some way to bring his world into alignment.

    Now since that time he’s learned the ability to recognize that the Bible was not written in English in our culture or with our context. And he’s found himself questioning age-old presumptions and “its in the Bible” pronouncements.

    But that did not make his pain at the time any less.

    So, yes, there are those who will never ever EVER let the minor inconveniences of dead children cause them to rethink their arrogance, much less the “demands of radical militant homosexual activists”. And for them I have less concern.

    But for those truly in conflict, I think we can afford a little compassion. And I imagine that in the light of the recent rash of suicides, there are more conservative Christians who are truly in conflict than in a long time.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    concerned

    I read your comments after ready Davids and I agree with you completely.

    No. Actually you don’t.

    I was speaking of theological beliefs about the acceptance of homosexuality on a moral level and the conflict that causes in people who wish to counteract bullying. I said nothing about “very destructive aspects of homosexual behavior.”

    And I categorically reject your argument that the kids who killed themselves did not do so due to the bullying, which was evident, but instead due to “the confusion that has been created by the two warring sides of this debate.” Such an argument not only false, but abhorrent and vile.

    It is attitudes such as yours that contribute to the problem, not the solution.

  • Michael Bussee

    There is two sides to the doctrinal issues, but there is no other side to the bullying question. By raising the DoD as the antithesis of the DoS, Focus errs by changing the subject. Hence, they look complicit in bullying.

    Warren, I completely agree.

    Michael, I wish I knew why Christian concern and love are not rising to the occasion in the right way during these times. I pray they will.

    Debbie, I think it goes back — once again — to the fear of appearing too “pro-gay” or “pro-sin” if they do. Unlike too many of his followers, when He was confronted by such self-righteousness and hatred, Jesus always rose to the occasion and took that chance.

  • concerned

    Timothy,

    I am sorry for even trying. I am not the enemy. I just hope to see open and honest dialogue to occur between both sides. I know what bullying is and have experienced it from both sides of this issue, but I have come to expect that when one tries to find some balance in this debate.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    But for those truly in conflict, I think we can afford a little compassion.

    Oh I have, you know I have. I guess lately I’ve just had trouble defining the line between empathy and enabling. Even so, I suspect I would be able to have a productive discussion with someone as candid and thoughtful as the friend you mention. That state of mind can be most painful and disruptive, and deserves some compassion. I am able to see people like that (at least partially) as victims — fundamentalist Christianity can certainly be dangerous to the soul.

    I think I’m just tired, Timothy. Maybe when the kids stop killing themselves I will have the patience again.

  • Debbie Thurman

    It is entirely possible to discuss these issues civilly, but some of you appear to be banking on the fact that that cannot be a sustained effort. I also happen to believe that covering this effort with prayer is sometimes the best thing to be doing.

    And we should be willing to tirelessly go back to 1 Cor. 13, however many times it takes. “Love … keeps no account of wrongs” … and many other things we would do well to read daily. Regardless of how many “wells” we have, there is only one that matters. I allow for people to grow and see more clearly as they do. Do others make this allowance? And I remember with great humility what God has had to forgive in me.

    I have spoken my piece for now. Enough words. Praying.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard those words from Paul used in self-defense before, and probably for good reason. You may have to explain how forgiveness alleviates personal responsibility.

  • Michael Bussee

    By raising the DoD as the antithesis of the DoS, Focus errs by changing the subject. Hence, they look complicit in bullying.

    Warren, it seems that Exodus may have come to this same realization about its Day Of Truth campaign. Alan Chambers said it was “too confrontive and devisive”.

    Now, I pray that Exodus will ask FOTF to reconsider the DoD. Exodus and FOTF have worked closely together before. It’s something one large Christian organization could and should do to enourage one of its good friends and allies to “rise to the occasion in the right way during these times.”

    Warren, have you considered contacting Alan Chambers personally to ask him to do so? I know he has ignored your good advice on previous occasions, but he has also taken your advice on other issues. Exodus seems more willing to listen recently. It just might help.

  • Jayhuck

    It is entirely possible to discuss these issues civilly, but some of you appear to be banking on the fact that that cannot be a sustained effort.

    I think it can be discussed civilly Debbie, but only if conservative Christians are willing to treat gay people, fully, as equals.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Warren, have you considered contacting Alan Chambers personally to ask him to do so?

    Focus picked it up after Exodus dropped support of it, I really don’t think they care much what Alan thinks at this point. However, I’m reasonably certain he has already given them his 2 cents on the issue. They may, however, listen to their members and the schools if they would stand up to them and reject DoD.


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