Willow Creek Church breaks with Exodus International

This change has been in the works for a long time but the news, coming during a renewed interest in reparative therapy, will keep the discussion going.

Bottom line is that various stakeholders are not comfortable with the change paradigm and are moving to the congruence paradigm. Exodus, at times, has articulated a congruence message but has not followed through at the level of the resources offered. Some of their ministries are quite focused on congruence and others, including some major ones, are still pretty focused on the reparative narrative as a general framework.

Mark Yarhouse said it this way:

Mark Yarhouse, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity at Regent University, agrees that the primary issue in the split is not abandonment of the gay community but simply a shift in tone toward gays.

“Churches are realizing that while there is a small contingent of the gay community responding to language like ‘freedom from homosexuality’ or ‘freedom is possible,’ the vast majority strongly disagree. They’re angry and they believe it’s impossible to change, and to hear this is so offensive that they will have nothing to do with Christians. So I think churches, in response to that vast majority who say, ‘We’re not interested,’ have decided to look at other approaches in an attempt to connect with the gay community on at least some level. That doesn’t mean that churches disagree with the language of ‘freedom from homosexuality’ doctrinally; they’ve just found that it doesn’t work on a social level.”

  • Kyle

    Warren – does the congruence paradigm leave room for the possibility of change – without guaranteeing it or saying it is likely? I take it it just lets what happens happen, without forcibly trying to change orientation.

    And, are there smaller degrees of change possible for homosexuals that do not constitute a total, fundamental change of attractions? For instance, do married homosexual men ever develop sexual attraction for their wives, while still remaining generally gay?

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  • David Blakeslee

    Nice Quote from Yarhouse…I guess he isn’t an ex-gay activist.

  • Teresa

    “That doesn’t mean that churches disagree with the language of ‘freedom from homosexuality’ doctrinally; they’ve just found that it doesn’t work on a social level.”

    So, what’s really being said here? We’ll say one thing, and mean another?

    Seriously, am I misunderstanding this? This sounds so hypocritical, I’m bewildered. Using a worn-out, tired old analogy … “we really believe doctrinally that African Americans were better off as slaves than they are today; but, since we can’t really get away with saying that, socially … we’ll say “look how inviting we are to y’all”.

    Or, “we really believe doctrinally that gays can change, and they’re mentally ill and perverted until they get changed” … but, since we can’t seem to get away with saying that stuff … we’ll still believe it, but we’ll do everything in our power to pretend we don’t believe it. See how we love the sinner …

    Someone correct me here, if I’m wrong.

  • Michael Bussee

    I think you pretty much nailed it.

  • Kyle

    Definitely, that is sketchy!

  • Ken

    Teresa# ~ Jul 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    “That doesn’t mean that churches disagree with the language of ‘freedom from homosexuality’ doctrinally; they’ve just found that it doesn’t work on a social level.”

    “Or, “we really believe doctrinally that gays can change, and they’re mentally ill and perverted until they get changed” … but, since we can’t seem to get away with saying that stuff … we’ll still believe it, but we’ll do everything in our power to pretend we don’t believe it.”

    I think, Teresa, you are being a little too negative in how you represent what is being said. it may simply be that these churches still believe that “the lord will change you if you believe hard enough”, but recognize saying that turns away too many people that they want to help. So now they are turning more towards the congruence message. While there is still an undercurrent of prejudice against gays, I don’t think your slave analogy was appropriate, at least not in all cases.

  • Mary

    Do we really know why they concluded the association? It can be for a number of reasons. I do think though that Exodus has shot themsleves in the foot by getting into political areas. That’s just a divisive issue.

  • David Blakeslee

    What Chambers might mean is that it is politically incorrect to make demands for holy living…

    These demands tend to be made on the ones with the largest obstacles and the least supports.

    Unfortunately, “freedom from homosexuality” is like “Campus Crusade for Christ” it is a phrase that used to mean something positive and attractive, and now it is alienating.

    In addition, newer research from Christians indicates that “freedom from homosexuality” does not mean freedom from Same Sex Attractions for most.

    Exodus needs to carry this more and more upfront as the science informs.

    Holiness is a worthy calling and goal for the Christian and is generally good for the culture.

  • Teresa

    Ken said: it may simply be that these churches still believe that “the lord will change you if you believe hard enough”,

    Ken, how about recognizing that “the Lord doesn’t change most of us, even if we’ve believed hard enough”? What’s wrong with that recognition? Is that really hard to do, accept the facts?

    I contend that these Churches won’t accept the scientific facts because they believe deeply in the basic inferiority of homosexuals, believe deeply that homosexuality and homosexuals are mentally ill, perverted from the get-go. I contend they believe to their very core that simply being homosexual IS SIN, unforgivable SIN. I contend that they believe we homosexuals are living, breathing walking SIN, and destined for hell; and not in the ambiguous, “we’re all sinners” construct. I contend that the real root of all this discussion on this issue is that they hate homosexuality, and likewise hate homosexuals. Period. Westboro Baptist Church, the Phelps family is what a large part of Christian Churches actually believe, but they can no longer get away with acting and talking like the Phelps … that’s my contention.

    David Blakeslee said: Holiness is a worthy calling and goal for the Christian and is generally good for the culture.

    In my opinion, most ‘good’ Christians believe homosexuals can’t be holy. That’s why they take such great pains to ‘change’ persons. If you’re str8, then you can be holy … in their minds, homosexuals are doomed and we’re dooming ‘culture’. Homosexuality and holiness is an oxymoron to them.

    David Blakeslee said: In addition, newer research from Christians indicates that “freedom from homosexuality” does not mean freedom from Same Sex Attractions for most.

    Why the switch in terminology, David B.? Why not: “In addition, newer research from Christians indicates that “freedom from homosexuaity” does not mean “freedom from homosexuality”?

    I’m quite unChristian today, and on a rant; but, being a homosexual and having lived with being homosexual in a Christian Church, I’ve experienced this from the inside out. I know the routine, I know the condescending words, looks and attitudes. Are some persons trying to change? Yes. Are some churches trying to change. Yes. Am I given to hyperbole? Yes. Do I play the victim, at times? Yes. But, I can, also, say quite honestly … when it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck … It’s a duck.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Theresa,

    I contend that these Churches won’t accept the scientific facts because they believe deeply in the basic inferiority of homosexuals, believe deeply that homosexuality and homosexuals are mentally ill, perverted from the get-go. I contend they believe to their very core that simply being homosexual IS SIN, unforgivable SIN. I contend that they believe we homosexuals are living, breathing walking SIN, and destined for hell; and not in the ambiguous, “we’re all sinners” construct. I contend that the real root of all this discussion on this issue is that they hate homosexuality, and likewise hate homosexuals. Period. Westboro Baptist Church, the Phelps family is what a large part of Christian Churches actually believe, but they can no longer get away with acting and talking like the Phelps … that’s my contention.

    Do you belong to a church such as you described Theresa?

  • Teresa

    StraightGrandmother asked: Do you belong to a church such as you described Theresa?

    SG, I believe in the Catholic faith; but, have trouble with the organized Catholic Church, so I’m not a churchgoer. I’m not quite sure what that makes me … Christian but un-churched. I’ve quite latched onto Greg Boyd’s statement:

    It’s against my relationship, to have a religion.

    This quite defines where I’m at presently.

  • Kyle

    Teresa, I think you’re right that many Christians assume that homosexuals are blameworthy for remaining same-sex attracted…that they are committing sin by remaining gay. I can’t imagine a worse thing they can do for someone struggling with same-sex attraction. The best thing they could do is love you unconditionally, and provide the companionship and committed relationships you understandably and innocently desire.

    IMHO.

  • Michael Bussee

    In addition, newer research from Christians indicates that “freedom from homosexuality” does not mean freedom from Same Sex Attractions for most. Exodus needs to carry this more and more upfront as the science informs.

    Good luck with that. From the very beginning and in the decades since, Exodus has never based its message or methods on sound science. In fact, science was often seen as the “enemy” of faith. I doubt that will ever change. To expect Exodus to be completely honest about what “Freedom From Homosexuality” really means is more than we can reasonably expect. Exodus simply has too much to lose.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Kyle,

    The best thing they could do is love you unconditionally, and provide the companionship and committed relationships you understandably and innocently desire.

    I think maybe I would change that to

    The best thing they could do is love you unconditionally, and provide the companionship and committed relationships you understandably and inherently desire.

  • Kyle

    SG – I agree. We are MADE for community, mutual love, and companionship – patterned after the Trinity!

  • Jayhuck

    Churches are realizing that while there is a small contingent of the gay community responding to language like ‘freedom from homosexuality’ or ‘freedom is possible,’ the vast majority strongly disagree. They’re angry and they believe it’s impossible to change, and to hear this is so offensive that they will have nothing to do with Christians. So I think churches, in response to that vast majority who say, ‘We’re not interested,’ have decided to look at other approaches in an attempt to connect with the gay community on at least some level. That doesn’t mean that churches disagree with the language of ‘freedom from homosexuality’ doctrinally; they’ve just found that it doesn’t work on a social level.”

    Sigh – Yes, these sorts of statements are far better than some that have preceded them, but I really wish Mr. Yarhouse had said “have nothing to do with *some* Christians”. I’m sure he didn’t mean this, but it gives the impression that there are only Gay camps and Christians camps and no overlap. There are many churches who support gay people regardless whether they choose to be celibate or marry someone that they love. Gay Christians exist ;)

  • Eddy

    “That doesn’t mean that churches disagree with the language of ‘freedom from homosexuality’ doctrinally; they’ve just found that it doesn’t work on a social level.”

    Teresa-

    I read your spin on this quote and was flabbergasted. Wasn’t at all surprised though that Michael would say that you nailed it.

    What if it simply says what it says? A paraphrase: “Churches don’t have a doctrinal difference with saying ‘freedom from homosexuality’…after all, we say ‘freedom from depression’, ‘freedom from guilt’, ‘freedom from worry’, ‘freedom from compulsion’. But we understand that, outside the church,i.e. ‘on a social level’, people don’t hear ‘freedom from homosexuality’ with the same understanding. They hear something else. So, although it’s a doctrinally correct thing to say, we understand the need to modify the speech.”

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Eddy .. I dont know that “freedom from homosexuality” is a doctrinally correct thing to say. At issue is what the term “homosexuality” means … Does it mean freedom from having same sex sex???? Does it mean freedom from identifying as gay???? … Does it mean freedom from same sex attractions??? Does it mean that to be holy you cannot identify as gay in any way shape or form???

    You see I can’t help but notice that you put the term “homosexuality” in with a lot of negative terms .. re: depression .. worry .. complusion..

    Additionally, I do not see churches addressing the (heterosexual) divorce/remarriage issue or its disapproval of (heterosexuals) living together issue as freedom from heterosexuality. Instead they talk of the sanctity of marriage and that sexual expression is a gift to be shared within marriage.

    In short .. I think the phrase is wrong period .. doctrinally and socially .. and the church (in general) needs to clarify just what their ministry / doctrine is.

    Dave

  • Teresa

    Eddy, you’re equating homosexuality with an illness? Is that correct? Homosexuality as a ‘bad’ thing? Right?

    That’s the essential difference in our understanding, Eddy. I don’t view homosexuality as something to be freed from. I don’t see it as a mental illness.

    As well, the science doesn’t show that homosexuality is something that can be freed from, in the vast, vast majority of persons.

    So, the statement is, in my opinion, and for me only, wrong on 2 counts: it’s not something to be freed from … and, the science shows it most often can’t be freed from.

  • Teresa

    Dave# ~ Jul 23, 2011 at 9:27 am: Eddy .. I dont know that “freedom from homosexuality” is a doctrinally correct thing to say. At issue is what the term “homosexuality” means … Does it mean freedom from having same sex sex???? Does it mean freedom from identifying as gay???? … Does it mean freedom from same sex attractions??? Does it mean that to be holy you cannot identify as gay in any way shape or form???

    You see I can’t help but notice that you put the term “homosexuality” in with a lot of negative terms .. re: depression .. worry .. complusion..

    Additionally, I do not see churches addressing the (heterosexual) divorce/remarriage issue or its disapproval of (heterosexuals) living together issue as freedom from heterosexuality. Instead they talk of the sanctity of marriage and that sexual expression is a gift to be shared within marriage.

    In short .. I think the phrase is wrong period .. doctrinally and socially .. and the church (in general) needs to clarify just what their ministry / doctrine is.

    Dave

    Wow, what a great comment, Dave. In. every. single. way.!!

  • Eddy

    The statement I was referrring to and that Teresa thought sounded hypocritical was from Exodus. Exodus believes that it is not God’s will or purpose for people to have sex with others of the same gender. (They believe a lot of other sexual things are way off-kilter too but this is the particular gap that inspired the Exodus network in the beginning.) Given that they believe that it is not God’s will or purpose for people to have sex with others of the same gender and that they endeavor to help people who believe the same way, they’ve used the words ‘freedom from’ in the same way that Christians would use ‘freedom from’ with respect to other conditions (depression, guilt, compulsive behavior) that are also not God’s will or purpose.

    I understand completely how you disagree with their basic premise but that doesn’t make their statement hypocritical.

  • Teresa

    Eddy, I’m glad you clarified this. Again, this becomes an effort in futility if terms are not clarified. If “freedom from homosexuality” means “freedom from same gender sexual behavior” that would be more understandable. If that’s what was truly meant by this statement, then I don’t disagree with it, as you well know. I’ve stated that fairly clearly on a number of occasions.

    Do you not see, Eddy, how the word ‘homosexual’ does not mean behavior, at least in today’s parlance, or at least to me? I took their statement to mean, just being a homosexual, somehow I need to be ‘freed’ from that, which is quite unlikely. Behavior is another matter, entirely.

    Does this make sense? Again, I apologize if somehow I came off as being other than what I’ve stated before.

    One last comment: I thought Exodus was against homosexuals, in general … just for being homosexual. Is that incorrect? I thought that was what the whole ‘change’ approach was really about. Don’t some Evangelicals believe that being same-sex oriented is ‘sinful’, in and of itself? Not the behavior, but simply being same-sex attracted?

  • Teresa

    BTW, Eddy, do you believe homosexuality is a ‘mental illness’? Another way of stating the same question: do you believe a same-sex attracted person is ‘mentally ill’?

  • Ann

    Teresa,

    Most people will say they understand the word homosexual but what they really understand is homosexuality – same gender sex. The difference is huge. Until the word homosexual is defined, including all the nuances it encompasses, if that is even possible, it will still be a mystery to those who do not experience it.

    Exodus, to my limited knowledge, is not against homosexuals for just being homosexual.

  • Ann

    Teresa,

    I think the term “freed from” means the control homosexuality has over someone who would like not to act out on their desires. Freed from means, I think, being able to tell the temptation “no”.

  • Eddy

    Exodus first came together way back in the 1970′s. There was a wave of revival going on across the country; a lot of gay people responded to that wave of revival. (Neither God nor the churches that were a part of the revival were leaving gays out of the call.)

    So these gays who were among those called had some unique concerns. Some felt that there was support for those who were trying to leave behind other sins but very little for gays. Others felt that not enough was being done to reach out to gays–and having been gay-identified themselves–they wanted to make sure that the Gospel message that Christ could forgive and deliver you from your sins was as available to gays as it was to any other sinner. (Yes, I know, that word again. But this is history, Teresa, and that is how it happened.)

    Both the churches and the gay individuals shared the belief that homosexual behavior was sin. The gay individuals who had been touched by this revival soon began finding each other…offering mutual support, counsel, referral, a confidant, a listening ear, a correspondent. It was something they felt was a bit lacking in their local churches across the country.

    Michael Bussee was among those people. The informal network, although it’s scope was national, was centered in California. I was in Pennsylvania, unaware of any others on this unique journey and then went to Bible school in Texas to equip myself for whatever God what might want me to do. It was there that I learned of the blossoming network.

    That’s what Exodus was and it’s what Exodus is. A network of support, counsel, referral, etc. for gays who believe in the traditional Bible view that homosexual behavior is sin. Not mental illness. Not a sin bigger, more serious, more disgusting, more abominable than any other sin. But a sin all the same.

    At about the same time, other waves were going on. Gay activism was reacting against far-reaching homophobia and harassment. Psychology was reworking it’s classifications; it also established the notion of ‘orientation’. This is where much linguistic confusion began to appear. Christians were not concerned with labelling an individual by what they thought or felt but rather by what they did and what they pursued. I could sit in the pew and wrestle with feelings of sexual attraction toward the youth pastor but I wasn’t viewed as ‘a homosexual’ if I wasn’t trying to pursue those desires. (This was equally true of the ex-druggie across the aisle. Again–get off the horse–it’s history. The first two rows across the aisle in MY church were Teen Challenge. They–and I–were viewed as ‘new creatures’, as ‘set free in Christ’. Though we might still be tempted by sins we once held near and dear, we viewed ourselves–and were viewed by others–as ‘walking in freedom’.)

    And what we thought of as ‘change’ was very similar too. Some of those ex-druggies were still pretty rough around the edges. Although all were separated from their drug usage, some still wrestled with basic approaches to life and people that sprang from their time in the drug culture. (Perhaps hot tempered, sometimes conniving, avoiding responsibility, seeking the easy way out, etc.) But the change began to work deeper in them, touching those areas as well. It worked that way for folks like me who had left ‘the gay life behind’. I could meet a handsome young man and not give a thought to having sex with him. (People will of course say ‘that isn’t what gays are all about’ but, let’s get back to history…I was in my early twenties. At work, at play, on the bus, shopping, wherever I was, my focus had always been on ‘checking guys out’. Now I could recognize handsome but rarely have a thought of ‘I want that’ or “I need that’. We called that ‘change’…and it was pretty darn significant.)

  • Ann

    Thank you Eddy.

  • Teresa

    Thank you, Eddy, for Exodus’ history. I appreciate it. Also, I’m assuming that you answered the question that I asked about viewing being homosexual and mental illness. You do not view being a homosexual as a mental illness. I’ve never used the word homosexuality as meaning same gender sexual behavior … only the orientation of being a homosexual. That’s where much of the confusion comes in, for me.

    I understand there are several definitions of ‘homosexuality’ … 1.) the state or condition of being homosexual … 2.) same gender sexual behavior

    Legal definition is same gender sexual behavior. I’ve always viewed it as 1.) definition.

    Yes, Eddy, I’m sure ‘change’ for you was very darn significant. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Well thank you for sharing your personal history .. However ..Alan Chambers, in his book entitled God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door .. says very clearly that celibacy (change of behavior) is not enough .. that a person must repent of the attractions .. see below..

    “So, yes, repentance for the homosexual person and anyone else

    for that matter is repenting of who they are: behaviors, identity and

    all. This is why I believe it is important to clarify that just living a

    celibate gay life is just as sinful as living a sexually promiscuous

    one. The sin is in identifying with anything that is contrary to Christ,

    which homosexuality clearly is.”

    This quote is from pages 217-218.

    If change means “change of behaviors ” then it appears that Mr. Chambers didn’t get the memo on that. The ongoing confusion on this whole business of change and what it means is generated by Exodus .. not by gay activists.

    Dave

  • Eddy

    Dave–

    I’m afraid you missed his point. The crux is here: that the sin is in identifying with anything that is contrary to Christ.

    He’s not saying it’s wrong to be celibate; he’s not saying everyone must turn into a married straight hetero…he’s saying it’s wrong to ‘live a celibate gay life’…identifying oneself by a sin while not engaging in the deed itself.

    Practical application: a person considers themselves to be a ‘celibate gay’. “Gay” is their primary self-identification filter and therefore likely guides who they hang with, where they hang out, what they focus on, etc. So they go to the bars where pursuit of partners is celebrated, where provocotive imagery decorates the walls; they dance suggestively with same-sex partners; they revel in the bawdy humor of drag queens or of comedians like Margaret Cho. In short, they live in a world that celebrates a sin and actually mocks the Christian part of their identity that they’ve given a back seat to.

    And that’s not a double standard. If a straight Christian were celibate, either for short or long term, we wouldn’t expect them to be bumping and grinding on the dance floor at the straight pick up bar. The straight pick up bar celebrates the sin of fornication and isn’t the place for a celibate Christian to be hanging out on a regular basis.

    To use my Teen Challenge friends from above: we’d consider it somewhat ridiculous for them to quit doing drugs but to continue to immerse themselves in the drug culture as a ‘non practicing drug abuser’.

  • Ann

    The ongoing confusion on this whole business of change and what it means is generated by Exodus .. not by gay activists.

    Dave,

    The ongoing confusion on this whole business of change and what it means is generated by whover is interpreting it, including you. Taking responsibility for how we interpret a statement or issue says more about us than the person or issue. Something to ponder.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Eddy,

    I think its interesting that you assume that if someone identifies as gay it automatically means they hang out in gay bars. Or if someone identifies as straight and celibate that this means theymust grind their pelvis into one another on the dance floor. Where in the world are these assumptions coming from??

    To use an opposite analogy … celibate straight people or even chaste straight people are not seeking freedom from heterosexuality. No one has a problem with them identifying as heterosexual.

    I will also add that I know of quite a few people who identify as gay who do believe that scripture directs them to celibacy and live a life that honors that principle.

    It seems to me that you’re the one making assumptions here. Some people see their sexuality as a much larger part of themselves than others. You are free to identify anyway you wish as are the freinds I know that I mentioned earlier. This .. to me .. is more an issue of someone’s internal philosophical thinking process then it is an absolute moral decision for everyone. I see no moral imperative as to how one identifies.

    Dave

  • Ann

    Some people see their sexuality as a much larger part of themselves than others.

    Dave,

    Can you go into a little more detail about this? What do you mean by sexuality and how do people see it as a juch larger part of themselves?

  • Ann

    sorry – juch should be such

  • Ann

    oops – sorry again – juch/such should be much

  • Jayhuck

    He’s not saying it’s wrong to be celibate; he’s not saying everyone must turn into a married straight hetero…he’s saying it’s wrong to ‘live a celibate gay life’…identifying oneself by a sin while not engaging in the deed itself.

    At issue here is what it means to “be gay” or “identify” as gay. I’m sure Mr Chamber’s understanding of this may differ from those of other people. Remember, this is just Alan’s opinion, he doesn’t have any real Biblical basis to back up these claims. I would, and all should, take what this man says with a grain, or two, of salt ;)

  • Ann

    Jayhuck,

    What Alan Chambers or Wayne Besen say is just that – it is what they say. Each of us has to take responsibility for our own lives and determine how we want to live it – for some religion plays a large part in this decision, for others a personal faith and belief that transcends religion is what guides them, and then for some it comes down to just what they value and want to protect. I hear so much talk and terms and pharases, etc. and it all starts sounding like noise to me. Little is definitive or conclusive about this issue and often one is left with more questions than answers.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Ann,

    To answer your question albeit somewhat briefly .. They may see their sexuality .. / identity as part of who they relate to best .. as representative of other apsects of their personalities .. as connected to some of their personal giftings .. and so forth. I suspect that for these folks .. attempts at oreintation change or identity change ultimately feel harmful to themselves because of how they internally connect everything together. In other words if a person sees there sexuality as broken and apart from all other aspects of themselves .. as an undesired blip on the radar .. then perhaps the “change” route works for them. However .. if they see this as an integral part of their whole being then, to throw it away or count it as evil affects their view of themselves as a whole … Different peope think and process differently. One solution does not fit all persons and circumstances. I don’t have a problem with people finding unique soliutions that fit them personally ..I have a problem with the ‘my way or the highway’ approach that Alan and others like him seem to push as an absolute moral imperative. Scripture has no such imperative on how we internally process this.

    More on this later as I am out of time for now…

    Dave

  • Ann

    Dave,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond and your detailed answer.

    They may see their sexuality .. / identity as part of who they relate to best .. as representative of other apsects of their personalities .. as connected to some of their personal giftings .. and so forth.

    Can you describe sexuality and how you mean it in the above sentence? I am specifically asking because it is a very misunderstood word.

    I suspect that for these folks .. attempts at oreintation change or identity change ultimately feel harmful to themselves because of how they internally connect everything together.

    Doesn’t the mindset of orientation have to be defined first in order to determine whether anything needs to be done about it? If it is clearly understood then perhaps it would be a moot point, or not, and then a decision could be made about how to respond to that which feels incongruent.

    In other words if a person sees there sexuality as broken and apart from all other aspects of themselves .. as an undesired blip on the radar .. then perhaps the “change” route works for them.

    Ok, are you saying that for some people they see this issue as separate from all other aspects of themselves while others see it is “who they are”? If so, then you have clearly addressed a point what, in my opinion, should be explored and talked about more. The two distinct perspectives are often and inaccurately enmeshed, always leading to contention or a shut down conversation.

    However .. if they see this as an integral part of their whole being then, to throw it away or count it as evil affects their view of themselves as a whole … Different peope think and process differently.

    This is where, in my opinion, therapy or counseling would be effective. If any aspect of our thoughts are seen as an integral part of our whole being, then I am not sure how good that is for our well being as a whole person. Seems to me that if this is an integral part of my whole being then what happened/happens to the other parts of me? Is my life to be dictated by who I am attracted to? Do I have any say as to how I want to be and live beyond who I am attracted to?

    One solution does not fit all persons and circumstances.

    I am so glad to see this sentence.

    I don’t have a problem with people finding unique soliutions that fit them personally ..I have a problem with the ‘my way or the highway’ approach that Alan and others like him seem to push as an absolute moral imperative. Scripture has no such imperative on how we internally process this.

    Yes, and I have a problem with the ‘my way or the highway’ approach that Wayne Besen and others like him who seem to push as an absolute that must be accepted, lest you be villified. I do not see Alan in the same light as you do or having a coercive approach. Perhaps I am biased or just plain wrong – I do not know Alan nor have much knowledge about Exodus, however, everything I have read or seen or heard from him shows me he is a tempered, fair, thoughtful and emotionally disciplined individual. I cannot say that about the gay activists I have interacted with or listened to. As to the moral or scriptural issue, I try very hard not to opine about either as I do not feel qualified to do so. Each person has their own moral code, subject to change over time, and only they can account for themselves and their God someday. By the way, are Jews and Muslims and Hindus welcomed into this discussion that continues to reference only Christians and Christianity?

  • Teresa

    Ann, I think we’ve discussed the topic of ‘sexuality’ somewhat before on this Blog. Can we start from the beginning on this? Let’s start with heterosexuality or str8, for short. Str8 folks don’t have to overtly state they identify as str8, simply because their life does it for them … I’m talking about married, str8 persons. They don’t have to ‘say’ anything about it, because they’re living it. They’re married, usually have children, they do family things, many of their friends are married with children … what they do, their relationships are all centered around being str8. Does that make sense?

    The only reason they marry, and have children, build a family is because of their sex drive and orientation to find completion in the ‘other’. Finding a ‘home’ in the ‘other’ usually means finding someone of the opposite gender. The whole dating scene is all about being str8 … it doesn’t have to be said out loud to anyone. Why do we have all the bars we do where singles hang out? Why all the singles clubs in Christian churches? Why all the online dating services? This proclaims a str8 life, an orientation that seeks to find the ‘other’ to start a life together, and build a family.

    Just because the str8 world isn’t pounding in our ears and our eyes everyday, look we’re str8 … doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Life is about relationship, and that relationship is 95% str8. There’s no need to advertise it. It’s around us everyday, in every way.

    What do we think the whole prostitution industry is based on, primarily? It’s about str8 guys having an outlet for sex with a woman. People may decry it, but it’s a commonly assumed social structure, now called the ‘sex trade’ industry. It’s been with us from the beginning of time. How about the old saying for young men, “they’re just sowing their wild oats”. Again, something many persons don’t think is right, but it’s str8 behavior that’s pretty commonly accepted. Just as the idea “a sailor has a girl in every port”. This is all str8 behavior, and the not so nice part of it … but, str8 nevertheless.

    No one really makes a big deal about any of this stuff. Why?

    Singles of whatever stripe, str8, gay, Christian, Jew or what have you; have usually been on the margins of life. The old adage, “when are you going to get married” is common in any culture. Singles have always been counseled to be chaste, so that’s nothing new. The one difference, however, is that str8 singles can, if so disposed, at least think about being married, and try their best to find a partner. Sometimes, however, for some singles that just never happens.

    However, str8 singles can find places for themselves within a Church community, such as a singles club, which speaks out loud about being str8, because often those singles clubs help persons find one another, or at least provide an opportunity that a date may happen. And, what’s more, str8 singles can marry even in advanced age, which seems to be happening more and more.

    Anyway, enough of this. Str8 orientation, behavior, lifestyle is what are society lives and breathes everyday. It doesn’t need a parade, a color combo, permission to be anything … it just is, everywhere.

    And, Ann, tha’st all about sexuality, and it don’t necessarily mean only the ‘sex act’. Sexuality means how we relate to the ‘other’, who that ‘other’ will be, and how all that plays out in … personality, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

    I don’t want to be contentious about this, at all. Others may well disagree. This is how I view it. Please, remember that.

  • Teresa

    Back to Sexuality. Ann, you can’t strip your Sexuality from yourself, without destroying your very being. It’s not like a piece of clothing, you take on and off. It’s central to who you are as a woman. It’s central to every man as a man. It’s how you, Ann, relate to everyone around you, amidst your personality and temperament.

    It’s a big concept to wrap our heads around. Our personality is imbued with our Sexuality. Ann, it’s not just ‘sex’ … it’s ‘relationality’ with the ‘other’.

    Christians are to find that ‘Other’ in Christ, primarily. He is our most important ‘Other’. But, we are social beings, after all. That’s how God made us. So, who and how we relate to others is all wrapped up in our Sexuality, personality, temperament.

    I really don’t like quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church very often, but I do think in this instance this quote says everything that needs to be said about Sexuality.

    2332 Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.

    Orientation, a newer word, simply states what gender vis-a-vis our own gender that ‘affectivity’ works best with.

    Again, this is how I see it. It’s only my opinion, but my opinion has been formed in large part by the writings of others, and much thought about all this.

  • Eddy

    Teresa–

    You use the term more general term ‘sexuality’ and yet you interpret it as ‘homo’ or ‘hetero’.

    Is this statement still true without a presumption of ‘homo’ or ‘hetero’?…..

    It’s a big concept to wrap our heads around. Our personality is imbued with our Sexuality. Ann, it’s not just ‘sex’ … it’s ‘relationality’ with the ‘other’.

    Do we relate to others out of our sexuality or out of our homosexuality or heterosexuality? Is my personality imbued with sexuality or with homosexuality?

  • Ann

    Sexuality means how we relate to the ‘other’, who that ‘other’ will be, and how all that plays out in … personality, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

    Teresa,

    Ok, I understand this about romantic relationships, however, how does the word sexuality affect other parts of who we are and how we live? Does it enter into how we make pancakes, take out the garbage, what bank we choose, or what groceries we buy? Other than who we pursue in a romantic relationship, how does the word “sexuality” guide our lives? Or does it?

  • Teresa

    Ann, Sexuality guides our ‘relational’ lives, especially; and, perhaps, our creative lives as well. It, of course, is involved in romantic relationships; but, it involves all ‘relationships’ … your parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, co-workers … all the people you relate to in any way.

    It’s how you relate to God. We should try to remove the single idea of simply sex/romance, which of course is part of relating … but, it’s so much bigger than that.

    The CCC calls ‘relating’, ‘affectivity’ … they are essentially the same.

    Does it enter into how we make pancakes, take out garbage, what bank we choose, or what groceries we buy? It certainly could affect these areas if ‘relationship’ is involved. What bank you choose as a woman might be quite different than a bank a man might choose, because of how they treat you. That’s Sexuality … how we relate, principally to ‘persons’. What groceries you may buy, as a wife and mother interested in the budget and nutritional needs of your family … you’re thinking ‘relationally’ in those choices.

    Ann, I think you’re seeing this idea of ‘Sexuality’ in a reductionist way, as many of us do. We tend to think it’s only sex, or romance, or sexual attractions. Ann, Sexuality is how you relate to any person in your life, how you inter-relate with people, anywhere, anytime.

    Cut-to-the-chase, a str8 man relates to a woman in a whole different way than a same-sex attracted man. And, no, it’s not all about sex. It’s about finding a ‘home’ in the ‘other’ … the hand in the glove idea. Even though a same-sex attracted man could have sex with a woman, he cannot give a woman what she as a str8 woman desires from a man. The whole inter-relational dynamic is entirely different.

    The same holds true for a same-sex attracted woman with a str8 man. Sex for women is not about performance, and so it is quite easy to be dishonest about what’s going on. But, a gay woman cannot truly relate to a man the way a str8 woman can. There are significant differences.

    Check out Straight Spouse Network to hear the stories of spouses saying “they always knew something was wrong” … but, they thought it was their fault, somehow. They felt a barrier somehow from their husband or wife. Something was missing. When they found out their spouse was gay, they finally understood what was going on. No matter how hard the gay spouse tried, they could not be the ‘other’ that the str8 spouse needed.

    A gay person finds their ‘home’ in a person of the same gender.

  • AJ

    Eddy,

    I am a homosexual man who believes that sexual relations with a man are against God’s law, so I choose celibacy. I am still gay. I do not go to gay bars. I do not have any gay friends. Am I sining by calling myself a homosexual?

    Ann,

    My “gayness” is about much more than desiring sex with men. I will really like a song, or a TV show, or a neighborhood, or a type of house, and almost inevitably, I end up finding out that this song, TV show, neighborhood, or house is a favorite of gay men. As I said before, I don’t have any gay friends, so I’m not making decisions socially. Whatever it is that causes me to desire men sexually also seems to run deeply throughout all aspects of my personality. Even if I took some kind of drug to lose all sexual attractions to anyone, I would still be “gay.”

  • Teresa

    Eddy asked: Do we relate to others out of our sexuality or out of our homosexuality or heterosexuality? Is my personality imbued with sexuality or with homosexuality?

    Eddy, I relate out of my sexuality which happens to be for me, homosexuality. Because my sexuality IS homosexuality, I relate differently to men and women than a str8 (heterosexual) woman would. Some of the relating is fairly insignificant, if the relating is superficial.

    But even in the superficial, I know instinctively the difference of how str8 women relate to men, and how I relate to men. The difference is striking. I, also, can see the difference of how I relate to other women vis-a-vis how a str8 woman relates to other women. And, I’ve certainly observed how gay men interact with women or men; and, it sure is different than how a str8 man interacts with women or other men.

    All that difference is within our Sexuality. Personality colors Sexuality … makes it unique to each individual, within our Sexuality. They’re intertwined, and it would be impossible to tease out one from the other for the sake of an experiment.

    That’s why much of the ‘change’ idea centers around ‘manning it up’ for gay men, or ‘femming it up’ for gay women. Unfortunately, for most homosexuals lifting weights, or playing football … for gay men … wearing lipstick and a skirt … for gay women … doesn’t change our Sexuality, which for us is homosexuality.

  • Teresa

    AJ# ~ Jul 25, 2011 at 12:39 am … My “gayness” is about much more than desiring sex with men. I will really like a song, or a TV show, or a neighborhood, or a type of house, and almost inevitably, I end up finding out that this song, TV show, neighborhood, or house is a favorite of gay men. As I said before, I don’t have any gay friends, so I’m not making decisions socially. Whatever it is that causes me to desire men sexually also seems to run deeply throughout all aspects of my personality.

    AJ, you said in a few sentences, what took me many paragraphs to say. I really enjoyed your comment. Thank you.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Ann,

    In answer to your earlier questions …

    I don’t think I can speak for Hindus or Jews or Muslims … I am not from their faith tradition and thus do not feel I can speak for them. I agree that Wayne Beson is a bit on the edge. Unfortunately polarized thinking seems to be a common problem in this area..

    My attempts to explain how someone might interconnect their same sex attractions with their orientation and identity is perhaps a clumsy one .. I will say that in talking to many people that identify as gay (including those who are celibate) they often have a very unique perspective on life .. different than my own .. I am not sure how I can completely articulate how they interconnect all of this. I have found great diversity of thought even amongst those with same sex attractions. I see that others have stepped in since you asked the question and articulated this better than I have. My main point is .. that some people see themselves differently than others .. and what might be a simple suppression or ignoring of one aspect of their lives for one person is a major issue for another. To me .. how a person sees themselves is all personal and not really relevant to a biblical moral viewpoint.

    Some here have said (though I do not agree with this) that same sex attractions are a part of the fall and that to identify with them is to identify with sin. Lets expand on this a bit…..

    Presumably any deviation from the “perfect” human created in the image of God would be the result of the fall .. this is typically how conservative Christianity looks at it .. Thus any sickness or disease or mental variance from the assumed norm would be a result of the sin nature.

    This means that blindness , deafness, disease, death are all from the sin nature .. This would also include autism, aspergers, PDDNOS, ADHD, clinical depression, bipolar disorders, alcoholism .. mental retardation .. and so forth as all springing from the sin nature. This is the short list. So if its wrong to identify with anything which is a result of the sin nature then it is also wrong to identify as blind .. deaf .. alcoholic ..bipolar and so forth. The problem is that many people find some of these attributes (psychological or physical) to be a part of who they are .. Additionally someone who describes themselves as an alcoholic does not mean they are out drinking all the time .. . On the positive side …. the absence of certain senses (sight .. hearing) often gives a person heightened senses in another area. While I personally cannot imagine a life without either of these, others are able to live a fulfilling life and their blindness or deafness is one of the ways they describe themselves. And while conditions on the aspergers / autism spectrum (for example) may lead to some social interaction issues .. there can also be found unique benefits and gifting in many who categorize along these lines in terms of how they think through problems and categorize things and how they process information. Some may incorporate their particular trait into personal gain .. others may seek to alleviate the effect of such a trait or characteristic either through medicine or counseling. To me .. this is all very personal and does not require Christianity to be sticking its nose into it and making absolute moral claims. Human beings are much too varied and complex for simple black and white solutions in this area.

    Taking this out to same sex attractions … if all parties involved would leave people to find their own way (similar to what SITF provides) I think things would be much easier for everyone. To use a metaphor .. I don’t think a person needs to walk around saying ‘unclean unclean’ because a particular physical condition or personality trait does not line up with what others consider to be right .. good .. or normal.

    Finally, I do not find Alan Chambers to be very neutral or honest in this area .. For one thing his agenda for change seems too often be tied in to political motivations .. (re: gay folks can change .. therefore they don’t need protection in law). I do not see honesty here. One moment he is all gracious and talks about people who identify as gay going to heaven and that he still has same sex attractions .. The next he is saying that God will not share his throne with anything (re: same sex identity) that is contrary to His nature. If he would recognize that his way is one of many ways people can work this out I would be fine with that .. People have the right to explore their own identity in this. While we may hem and haw back and forth over what change means here on this blog .. I don’t think Alan is stupid or ignorant of the conflict that surrounds this term. Either change means congruence or it means change of feelings and attractions. Either celibacy is sufficient in his view or it isn’t. He needs to be clear on it whether speaking in public or in private … whether on a program such as the one on the Oprah network a few months ago or in a personal news letter/ blog entry to his listeners. Clarity about what he believes and what his ministry represents is his responsibility. Frankly .. I don’t see clarity .. I see double-mindedness and talking out of both sides of his mouth depending on the audience. Additionally, the person seeking counsel needs to understand what this word means and what they can expect. Too many people have been hurt when false promises have been made. They need to be given honest answers such as what the informed consent under SITF gives out. Then they can make their own informed choices concerning the direction they take.

    Blessings,

    Dave

  • Ann

    A.J. and Teresa,

    I respect what you are saying about your personal interpretation and experience regarding the word sexuality. It is just very different from what most people who who identify as gay say. What is said and then aggressively defended is this – I/we am/are just like everyone else in everyway except my sexual/romantic preferences are different in that I am attracted to my same gender.

    The mindset (if that is an appropriate word) you are referring to is what most people don’t understand. For the person experiencing the mindset, it must get very tedious and frustrating trying to explain it. For people trying to understand and appreciate this mindset, the contrary and inconsistant views between gay people about it are confusing and inconsistant. My personal belief is that who we are attracted to and what inner thoughts we have are very secondary compared to our ability to be civil and decent and kind and thoughtful. When we elevate our preferences above civility, then something of value has been lost.

  • Ann

    Teresa,

    I know this is off topic (sorry Dr. Throckmorton) – can you please give me the name of the pastor you listen to. I pulled up his link last time you sent it and really, really enjoyed and connected with what he said. He wears a t-shirt that says “religion gets in the way of my relationship”.

    Just thought of something else (on topic) – do you think the word connect is a good word to describe how we relate to people we feel comfortable with or prefer to associate with?

  • Ann

    Teresa and AJ,

    I have been thinking – would you say that individual personality characteristics describe how we relate or connect with people and things? If so, are those charactersitics inborn or did we develop them through experience? From what AJ so succinctly and eloquently articulated, one can discern that a gay person has certain characteristics that are shared by other gay people. One can have these personality characteristics without having sex or having a cold or going to the post office. The part I am still trying to understand is the personality characteristics of straight (for lack of a better word at the moment) people. Being straight does not always equate to marriage, having children, finding a home, or being romatically involved with anyone. For many, relating to others in the course of a day is more generic than specific and is not an issue. Finding the “other” is not a part of their daily thought process, nor is it a priority. For others it is a daily pursuit and a pre-occupation. Songs, homes, tv shows, tend to have a full spectrum as to what is enjoyed.

    Is the term “sexuality” comparable to the term “characteristics”?

  • Ann

    Dave,

    I am so grateful for what you wrote and how you wrote it – thank you very much. I am leaving now but will read it again when I get back and respond then.

  • Teresa

    Ann,

    I know this is off topic (sorry Dr. Throckmorton) – can you please give me the name of the pastor you listen to. I pulled up his link last time you sent it and really, really enjoyed and connected with what he said. He wears a t-shirt that says “religion gets in the way of my relationship”.

    Here is a youtube link for Pastor Greg Boyd:

    “It’s against my Relationship, to have a religion”

  • Teresa

    Ann,

    A.J. and Teresa,

    I respect what you are saying about your personal interpretation and experience regarding the word sexuality. It is just very different from what most people who who identify as gay say. What is said and then aggressively defended is this – I/we am/are just like everyone else in everyway except my sexual/romantic preferences are different in that I am attracted to my same gender.

    Ann, because many gays don’t understand the true nature of Sexuality, doesn’t make it ‘untrue’. Most str8′s wouldn’t be able to tell you, if you asked, what Sexuality truly meant. And, the many answers you would get, would be inconsistent from them as well. It’s confusing, and quite misunderstood. It’s quite complex, and as of now, we still know very little about the threads of Sexuality, Personality, Temperament … and, how they’re woven into who we are. But, we do know for sure, it is more than just ‘sex’. That’s an important point to understand.

    Ann, My personal belief is that who we are attracted to and what inner thoughts we have are very secondary compared to our ability to be civil and decent and kind and thoughtful. When we elevate our preferences above civility, then something of value has been lost.

    Ann, what you’ve stated here is true. No argument about that. However, I think that presents the spiritual affecting the whole, including Sexuality.

  • Teresa

    Ann,

    The part I am still trying to understand is the personality characteristics of straight (for lack of a better word at the moment) people. Being straight does not always equate to marriage, having children, finding a home, or being romatically involved with anyone. For many, relating to others in the course of a day is more generic than specific and is not an issue. Finding the “other” is not a part of their daily thought process, nor is it a priority.

    Ann, our life is really about finding the True ‘Other’. Everyone’s about that job, whether they’re conscious of it, or not. Certainly, single str8 persons need the ‘other’ in their life as much as anyone.

    Remember, this is just my opinion, on some of this stuff. Your opinion, Ann, is just a valid and worthwhile. Your life experiences have brought you wisdom that I don’t necessarily have. That’s one of the great benefits of sharing, if we can keep our fragile little egos out of the fray.

  • Teresa

    @Dave,

    Dave# ~ Jul 25, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Another excellent comment, Dave.

    I was thinking just this morning about our latest discussions on this topic, and Temple Grandin came to mind … even before I read your comment. What a woman who has turned Autism upside down. She’s incredibly gifted despite the limitations of Autism. To literally think differently, to not think in the laborious, deductive way; but, rather, in pictures and different perspectives … simply marvelous. She’s used her gifts to change the world, especially, for other autistic persons. But, she’s managed to open a window for the rest of us to understand better what was incomprehensible before.

    This should give us all pause to simply see homosexuality as some kind of ‘disadvantage’, or ‘less than’ or ‘weirdness’. As with str8 persons, many, many homosexuals have gifted the world with their genius … under some very trying circumstances.

  • Ann

    because many gays don’t understand the true nature of Sexuality, doesn’t make it ‘untrue’. Most str8?s wouldn’t be able to tell you, if you asked, what Sexuality truly meant. And, the many answers you would get, would be inconsistent from them as well. It’s confusing, and quite misunderstood. It’s quite complex, and as of now, we still know very little about the threads of Sexuality, Personality, Temperament … and, how they’re woven into who we are. But, we do know for sure, it is more than just ‘sex’. That’s an important point to understand.

    Teresa,

    That is why I think it is so important to define this term and why I keep asking to have it defined. Assumptions lead to trouble. Ignorance leads to trouble. Clarity leads to understanding which is what, I think, most gay individuals want from others. If the word/term sexuality is used, then it should be understood.

  • Ann

    our life is really about finding the True ‘Other’. Everyone’s about that job, whether they’re conscious of it, or not. Certainly, single str8 persons need the ‘other’ in their life as much as anyone.

    Teresa,

    I just cannot agree with this. While this might be true for many and possibly God’s plan/design for most of us, it just is not true for others. To say otherwise is discounting each individual personal story.

  • Teresa

    Ann,

    Teresa,

    I just cannot agree with this. While this might be true for many and possibly God’s plan/design for most of us, it just is not true for others. To say otherwise is discounting each individual personal story.

    Good point, Ann. But, I find, for myself, when I really ‘listen’ to another … actually trying to step into their place … trying to not discount another’s personal story, I’m relating to an’other’.

    But, I do understand what you mean, and it is very true.

  • Ann

    Teresa,

    What is a “True other”?

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    @ Teresea … glad you fond my post hepful

    @ Ann .. look forward to hearing your comments … Also .. I have a question if you don’t mind .. I notice you tend to ask very specific questions in this area .. I was wondering what perspective you are coming from and what your purpose was in needing such concrete answers. Hope this is something you will feel comfortable to share.

    Blessings,

    Dave

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    oops .. “found” not “fond” .. wish I could edit my posts after I make them .. oh well.

  • Ann

    I don’t think I can speak for Hindus or Jews or Muslims … I am not from their faith tradition and thus do not feel I can speak for them.

    Dave,

    I was asking because I do not think Christians, or people who call themselves Christians, are the only people who can and do have different perpspectives regarding this subject. I guess I think inclusive is better than exclusive when it comes to people and, at times, I sense one has to be in the exclusive club of Christianity to be included. That excludes many.

    I agree that Wayne Beson is a bit on the edge. Unfortunately polarized thinking seems to be a common problem in this area..

    Yes – one makes up their mind about others and then gets mad when they do not comply. Really says to much about coersion.

    My attempts to explain how someone might interconnect their same sex attractions with their orientation and identity is perhaps a clumsy one .. I will say that in talking to many people that identify as gay (including those who are celibate) they often have a very unique perspective on life .. different than my own .. I am not sure how I can completely articulate how they interconnect all of this. I have found great diversity of thought even amongst those with same sex attractions. I see that others have stepped in since you asked the question and articulated this better than I have. My main point is .. that some people see themselves differently than others .. and what might be a simple suppression or ignoring of one aspect of their lives for one person is a major issue for another. To me .. how a person sees themselves is all personal and not really relevant to a biblical moral viewpoint.

    I like and agree with everything you have said here. Thank you. I also see that it is not exclusive to those identifying as gay. I think an adult who grew up in a residential foster care facility thinks of themselves as different thank others. Or someone who has a happy disposition sees themselves and the word different than those who do not possess this quality. Most people will say they understand how one feels without really understanding – people understand behavior, not a mindset or characteristic. Using nebulous terms like gay or straight leads to subjective understanding to whoever is receiving the communication. Straight does not equate to marriage. Gay does not equate to effeminate men or same gender sex, however, say the word “gay” and this is what most people will equate it to. Say the word “straight” and most people will think the individual being labeled is eligible to get married to the opposite gender and have 2.5 kids and go to soccer games. I just think God put too much effort into the human design to discount or diminish it with labels that lead to assumptions that could or could not be true.

    Some here have said (though I do not agree with this) that same sex attractions are a part of the fall and that to identify with them is to identify with sin. Lets expand on this a bit…..

    I have never believed nor have I said that same gender attractions are sinful or part of a fall. I can see how this might cement someone’s decision if no other answers are available, but, well, to me, it does not fit all the people in the world who are somewhere on the spectrum of being attracted to the same gender and have the corresponding thoughts that AJ talks about.

    Presumably any deviation from the “perfect” human created in the image of God would be the result of the fall .. this is typically how conservative Christianity looks at it .. Thus any sickness or disease or mental variance from the assumed norm would be a result of the sin nature.

    Ok, that’s how conservative Christians think, however, it is certainly not the way I think. How does their way of thinking applicable to a woman sitting outside of a tent in Afghanistan shivering at the thought of having sex with her abusive husband and, secretly, wishing she could be loved by the woman in the tent next to hers instead?

    This means that blindness , deafness, disease, death are all from the sin nature .. This would also include autism, aspergers, PDDNOS, ADHD, clinical depression, bipolar disorders, alcoholism .. mental retardation .. and so forth as all springing from the sin nature. This is the short list. So if its wrong to identify with anything which is a result of the sin nature then it is also wrong to identify as blind .. deaf .. alcoholic ..bipolar and so forth. The problem is that many people find some of these attributes (psychological or physical) to be a part of who they are .. Additionally someone who describes themselves as an alcoholic does not mean they are out drinking all the time .. . On the positive side …. the absence of certain senses (sight .. hearing) often gives a person heightened senses in another area. While I personally cannot imagine a life without either of these, others are able to live a fulfilling life and their blindness or deafness is one of the ways they describe themselves. And while conditions on the aspergers / autism spectrum (for example) may lead to some social interaction issues .. there can also be found unique benefits and gifting in many who categorize along these lines in terms of how they think through problems and categorize things and how they process information. Some may incorporate their particular trait into personal gain .. others may seek to alleviate the effect of such a trait or characteristic either through medicine or counseling. To me .. this is all very personal and does not require Christianity to be sticking its nose into it and making absolute moral claims. Human beings are much too varied and complex for simple black and white solutions in this area.

    I completely agree – thank you for the details as well. One can envision what you say without assuming :-)

    Taking this out to same sex attractions … if all parties involved would leave people to find their own way (similar to what SITF provides) I think things would be much easier for everyone. To use a metaphor .. I don’t think a person needs to walk around saying ‘unclean unclean’ because a particular physical condition or personality trait does not line up with what others consider to be right .. good .. or normal.

    Dave,

    I just cannot tell you enough how much this paragraph means to me. Thank you.

    Finally, I do not find Alan Chambers to be very neutral or honest in this area .. For one thing his agenda for change seems too often be tied in to political motivations .. (re: gay folks can change .. therefore they don’t need protection in law). I do not see honesty here. One moment he is all gracious and talks about people who identify as gay going to heaven and that he still has same sex attractions .. The next he is saying that God will not share his throne with anything (re: same sex identity) that is contrary to His nature. If he would recognize that his way is one of many ways people can work this out I would be fine with that .. People have the right to explore their own identity in this. While we may hem and haw back and forth over what change means here on this blog .. I don’t think Alan is stupid or ignorant of the conflict that surrounds this term. Either change means congruence or it means change of feelings and attractions. Either celibacy is sufficient in his view or it isn’t. He needs to be clear on it whether speaking in public or in private … whether on a program such as the one on the Oprah network a few months ago or in a personal news letter/ blog entry to his listeners. Clarity about what he believes and what his ministry represents is his responsibility. Frankly .. I don’t see clarity .. I see double-mindedness and talking out of both sides of his mouth depending on the audience. Additionally, the person seeking counsel needs to understand what this word means and what they can expect. Too many people have been hurt when false promises have been made. They need to be given honest answers such as what the informed consent under SITF gives out. Then they can make their own informed choices concerning the direction they take.

    Ok, I understand what you are saying and am sure you have far more knowledge than I about all this. With my limited knowledge, I think differently about Alan. I also know two very reasonable individual can see a person or situation with a different perspective, subject to change with new or more information :-)

  • Jayhuck

    Ann,

    What Alan Chambers or Wayne Besen say is just that – it is what they say. Each of us has to take responsibility for our own lives and determine how we want to live it – for some religion plays a large part in this decision, for others a personal faith and belief that transcends religion is what guides them, and then for some it comes down to just what they value and want to protect. I hear so much talk and terms and pharases, etc. and it all starts sounding like noise to me. Little is definitive or conclusive about this issue and often one is left with more questions than answers

    Well said. I tend to agree :)


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