Recently in gay/ex-gay Category

Dan Pearce writes this piece on his blog, "sdl." It is worth reading!  It is about, after all is said and done, how we live out the calling of Jesus Christ - how we are and are not living up to the example and commands of Jesus. Here are a couple paragraphs to give you a taste.

"Why is it that sometimes the most Christlike people are they who have no religion at all?

"I have known a lot of people in my life, and I can tell you this... Some of the ones who understood love better than anyone else were those who the rest of the world had long before measured as lost or gone. Some of the people who were able to look at the dirtiest, the poorest, the gays, the straights, the drug users, those in recovery, the basest of sinners, and those who were just... plain... different...

"They were able to look at them all and only see strength. Beauty. Potential. Hope.

"And if we boil it down, isn't that what love actually is?

"Don't get me wrong. I know a lot of incredible Christians, too. I know some incredible Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and Jews. I know a lot of amazing people, devout in their various religions, who truly love the people around them.

"I also know some atheist, agnostic, or religionless people who are absolutely hateful of believers. They loathe their religious counterparts. They love only those who believe (or don't believe) the same things they do.

"In truth, having a religion doesn't make a person love or not love others. It doesn't make a person accept or not accept others. It doesn't make a person befriend or not befriend others.

"Being without a religion doesn't make somebody do or be any of that either.

"No, what makes somebody love, accept, and befriend their fellow man is letting go of a need to be better than others.

"Nothing else.

"I know there are many here who believe that living a homosexual life is a sin.

"Okay.

"But, what does that have to do with love?

"I repeat... what does that have to do with love?

"Come on. Don't we understand? Don't we get it? To put our arm around someone who is gay, someone who has an addiction, somebody who lives a different lifestyle, someone who is not what we think they should be... doing that has nothing to do with enabling them or accepting what they do as okay by us. It has nothing to do with encouraging them in their practice of what you or I might feel or believe is wrong vs right.

"It has everything to do with being a good human being. A good person. A good friend.

"That's all....

"My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find somebody, anybody, that's different than you. Somebody that has made you feel ill-will or even [gulp...] hateful. Somebody whose life decisions have made you uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion than you do. Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a criminal past. Somebody who dresses "below" you. Somebody with disabilities. Somebody who lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody without a home.

"Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and always be disgusted by.

"Reach your arm out and put it around them.

"And then, tell them they're all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell them you love them.

"If you or I wanna make a change in this world, that's where we're gonna be able to do it. That's where we'll start.

"Every. Single. Time.

"Because what you'll find, and I promise you this, is that the more you put your arm around those that you might naturally look down on, the more you will love yourself. And the more you love yourself, the less need you'll ever have to find fault or be better than others.  And the less we all find fault or have a need to be better than others, the quicker this world becomes a far better place to live.

"And don't we all want to live in a better world? Don't we all want our kids to grow up in a better, less hateful, more beautiful "world?

"I know I do."


Read all of the post.

Think on such things - try to come into the idea that the Way of Jesus Christ is so contrary to this American culture of ours! It matters not how much the left or right or liberal or conservative or Roman Catholic or Evangelical or Anglican or Protestant or Independent wants us all to believe that THEY (their group, their belief system, their denomination, their church) have it all exactly right and so lovingly warn everyone else that if they don't get on board they are going straight to the Lake of Burning Fire for all eternity -crispy critters.

We are blind. Why? Because we are fallible, because we see in part, because we know in part, and because we will not know fully until we get on to the other side.  Why, then do we have to pretend that we or I or s/he or us are exactly right?
PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 29:  Copies of The Chri...

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The Christian Science Monitor published an opinion piece online March 24th, 2011. The piece is by Jonathan Merritt and entitled,"Evangelical shift on gays: Why 'clobber scriptures' are losing ground."

I've been watching this shift over the last 20 odd years. I'm still amazed at the length certain anti-homosexual groups go to attempt to reinforce their positions, even while the arguments they use are constantly changing over time because their arguments of justification loose their persuasive force as the blanket exaggerations or misinformation of gay people become all too clear.  It does them no good nor their argument when what they say no longer seems to line up with what more and more people are experiencing in their day-to-day lives.

They've lost the emerging generations, already. In Barna Group's research project that resulted in the book "unChristian," one of their primary findings suggests that emerging young people find Christianity in the U.S. to be profoundly anti-homosexual, and it doesn't jib well with their own beliefs or experiences.

(Now, I will say that much depends on how one defines "homosexual" or how one believes homosexuals think or act in the aggregate. The primarily Religious Right anti-homosexual groups try to persuade people that most all homosexuals are sex-crazed alcoholics who will just as soon molest your young son as have a coke at the corner dinner. Spreading this kind of misinformation is simply baring false-witness against a whole class of people, whether one believes those people need saving, healing, or death or not.  As a Christian, I will say that much of what is presented as normative in the urban gay subculture by certain gay interests - hedonism - isn't the kind of life that is conducive to our own personal best interests.  But, the gay people involved in living their lives in such a way are no different than what I witnessed in my 20-years working in higher education with students who happen to be in the straight Greek system - unabashed hedonists.)

Back to the issue at hand and speaking of "clobber passages"... I've particularly noticed how Bible publishers have been dealing with the issue.  As might be known, the term "homosexual" never appeared in an English Bible until the mid-to-late 1950's - that's approximate 450 years without such a term in English Bibles. Over the years, as their arguments against all forms of homosexual relationships continue to gain less traction, the anti-homosexual groups attempt to reinforce their position by becoming even more specific and detailed in their demand of and translation of Scripture to attempt to bolster their failing arguments. 

For example, the length that the English Standard Bible goes to attempt to make specifically clear that the obscure Greek words found in I Corinthians 6:9 are absolutely about homosexuals, but not just homosexuals, but about men, and not just men, but in the footnote pertaining the to two Greek words, men who are the passive AND the active partners AND both giving consent.  The ESV translates the Greek words, "nor men who practice homosexuality," with the footnote clarifying the mean with, "The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts." 

The King James version translates the words this way, "...nor effeminate, or abusers of themselves with mankind."  The New International Version translates the words this way, "...nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders."  The New American Standard Version translates the words this way, "...nor effeminate, nor homosexuals," with the footnote specifying, "I.e., effeminate by perversion."  (How is one "effeminate by perversion?")The New Revised Standard Version translates the words this way, "males prostitutes, sodomites..." 

The truth is, whether it supports a socio-political position or agenda or not (conservative or liberal), we simply do not know what Paul meant.  Yet, in order to tow the anti-homosexual line, Bible publishers cave into the demand by anti-gay Religious Right organizations to take a anti-gay stand in the translation of these words. (I Tim. 1:10, is another example) I've witnessed big campaigns that demand the Bible publishers publish the translation even more specific, as we witness in the EVS. 

After all, we have to make the Bible absolutely specific in order to keep ignorant people from being deceived by Satan (through the liberal Bible "scholars") trying to make homosexuality not a sin, make in normal and celebrated in the public mind, when we know that the end of this will be death and the end of Western Civilization by the punishing judgement of God.  Right?  You see why the anti-gay zealots have to exert a great deal of pressure on the Bible publishers to be absolutely specific that God condemns in no uncertain terms everything homosexual, whether we know the Greek words used by Paul actually mean "homosexuals" or not.

The problem, as the opinion piece details, these kinds of arguments are no longer persuading the emerging generations.  It isn't that the fags are winning in the deceiving of young, impressionable minds (although there is some truth in the assertion that the pro-gay message has more traction than the anti-gay message), but that the justifications and "proofs" for the anti-gay arguments are being shown to be fallacious.

I want to be clear, as a Christian and as a priest in this Church, our role and goal is not simply to affirm different groups of people, including homosexual people.  Our goal is always and for everyone - everyone - the cause of Christ for salvation, reconciliation, and restoration calling us into such a life that we become free of so much within our world that binds us, deadens us, enslaves us, deceives us, and causes our lives to be separated from God and estranged form one another.  This means that I call homosexual people as another other people into the reconciling relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  This will transform us and cause us to be different - not tied up in knots by giving ourselves to the hedonistic culture.  This does not mean, however, that homosexuals stop being homosexual.  Gay or straight, we are called to be with God according to God's ways and not simply according to the dictates of the prevailing culture or our own proclivities.

The anti-gay Religious Right will not win in their quest and crusade, because their positions cannot be sustained according to the truth that we know.  Yet, they will become even more demanding and stringent as they lose influence, as their arguments fail.  Unless, of course, as we are witnessing, people change their positions.  This has already happened for the majority of younger people.
An interesting interview in Der Spiegel Online (in English) with Roman Catholic theologian David Berger concerning his recent book (only in German at this point) covering his life as a conservative theologian in the Church as a gay person.


Every now and then I catch up on what is going on with the controversies within the Anglican Communion among the bloggers who are most prolific. Mark Harris (Preludium), a priest in Delaware and member of the Episcopal Church (TEC) Executive Council and Kendall Harmon (Titusonenine), the Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, are two of these.  Over the past couple of years, and despite my respect for much of what he has written in the past, Harris has become more typically Baby Boomer-ish (those who believe they are given an unique charge to remake the world in their own image and bring in the age of Aquarius by the dismantling all that came before them) and particularly stereotypically American (those who expect their will to be done around the world simply because we are Americans, so smart, so progressive, and so right).  After all, we just want what is best for the world and its people, and we know exactly how everyone needs to act and what they need to believe.

All these machinations we are hearing from the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. concerning steps being taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) and the governing structures of the Anglican Communion because we snub our nose and refuse to abide by a couple requests made of us by those bodies, increasingly smacks of people who are used to getting their way, but no longer can.

Now, honestly, I have to admit that abiding by these two requests will impact my life, but only minimally. What I have to acknowledge is that I don't always get my way, I don't have a "right" to anything within the Church or the Body of Christ, and that I consider myself to be part of a Church that is Catholic - all of these things cause me to recognize, acknowledge, and abide by things I don't like, think is fair, or consider to be right. It isn't all about me or my group.  By saying that, I do not even consider that I stop advocating for myself, my group, what I think to be God's will, what I believe to be right for the good order, safety, and benefit of all, and an advocate for those who are terribly abused by other Anglicans around the world and demand that they stop their abuse.

Soon, "imperialist" America will have to deal with the rest of the world standing up to us. How will we as a people and as a nation act when this really starts to happen in earnest? Will we join the rest of the world as equal partners or... will we continue to act like imperialists and attempt to force our will on the world or... will we retreat into isolationism?

The Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church are a foreshadowing of all this and how Americans will probably act.

So many of our reactions in TEC (at least among many of its leadership) smacks of an "imperialist" Episcopal Church that generally got its way within Anglicanism (because we were Americans and we had the money), but now has to deal with foreign people standing up to us and saying, "our views count and we aren't going to let you get away with this anymore." 

Now, we may absolutely disagree with them and actually may be absolutely right - but we are still being stood up to.  We don't like it, so we laughingly do things like accuse the ABC of acting like a colonial authority when he, completely within his right, "interferes" in TEC, which claims to be an Anglican province by definition in communion with him. We just can't stand being stood up to.

How are we going to act, now?

Are we going to join the rest of the Communion as equal partners and recognize that all (but a few) have requested that we don't do a couple things and that as equal partners sometimes we have to give a little (while still being ardent advocates of our position) or... are we going to attempt to force our will one very one else (something like Spong's attack on African bishops) or... will we simply retreat into isolationism and claim we don't need the rest of the Communion and gloriously declare that we are our own sect?

I keep hearing all the above from our leadership, except, really, that we see ourselves as equal members of the Communion and that sometimes we don't get our way.  Send no more money to them... we can do just as well on our own and who needs them - these are the attitudes I hear and read the most.
A lot has been written and the comments continue concerning the overturning of California's ballot initiative, Proposition 8, overturning the legislature's establishing equality in marriage for same-sex couples.  A couple points I would like to make concerning what I've read and the opinions that are being expressed:

1. The U.S. is NOT a Direct Democracy.  We are a Republic!  "The people" do not have the final say except through their elected officials within our system of checks and balances.  The courts mitigate the "tyranny of the majority" that can result when the majority seeks to deny equal consideration, access, and protection under the law to whole groups of people.  The legislatures mitigate an equal tendency among the courts to engage in the "tyranny of the minority."

2.  I am astounded that the Religious Right, anti-gay forces use the "will of the people" as their primary argument when fighting against state sanctioned same-sex marriage.  How short-sighted can they be?  They will not uphold this position and the right of the "will of the people" to rule when they are disadvantaged.  We will not find them accepting the "will of the people" if a state referendum passes that demands all crosses be removed from public view. They show themselves to be political hypocrites in taking on this tactic.

What are they going to do when the "will of the people" shifts in favor of same-sex marriage?  It is shifting! It is reckless for any group to base the success of and justification for their social or political agendas on the "will of the people."  "The people" are fickle!

3. The courts are not siding with the anti-gay marraige forces.  The courts are reflecting the changing attitudes of the American public regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage - like they did during the Civil Rights era.  So, the Religious Right has to turn people, the voters, against their enemy the courts in order to maintain their victories.  This is so terribly short-sighted.  When the winds of public opinion change to reflect a strong bias and prejudice against Christians, which will happen, the courts will be the only recourse we have.  If the public believes the courts cannot be trusted (which is different than the belief that the judges are corrupt), the Republic as we know it is done for.

4. The anti-same-sex marriage folks are just mean spirited, because their political and social agenda drives them and not the love of Christ, which they claim.  Here is an example from the American Family Association responce to Judge Walker's decision to overturn Proposition 8:

The American Family Association (AFA) has called for Judge Walker's impeachment. Under the Constitution, judges may be impeached if they violate a standard of "good Behaviour." According to the AFA, Walker violated this standard in two ways...

Second, the AFA said, "Judge Walker is an open homosexual, and should have recused himself from this case due to his obvious conflict of interest." AFA's Bryan Fischer further said, "[Walker] is Exhibit A as to why homosexuals should be disqualified from public office ... A man who ignores time-honored standards of sexual behavior simply cannot be trusted with the power of public office." [emphasis mine]  (Source)

So, homosexuals should not be allowed to hold public offices?  What if homosexuals are elected to public office by the "will of the people"?

  

Derek Webb

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"What Matters More" by Derek Webb... considering the controversy surrounding Jennifer Knapp and her coming out.  I understand why some consider this song "controversial," but again it simply comes out of the camp that gives no quarter to anyone who disagrees with them on their interpretation of Scripture, God's will, and homosexuality.  Good song, me thinks.


Bishop Whalon, of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, has written an excellent and I think very important opinion piece on Anglicans Online.

It is entitled, "What We Think We Are Doing," by The Rt Revd Pierre W. Whalon, D.D.

Basically, he says in very strong terms that this Church of ours has gotten the cart before the horse when dealing with the issue of the full-inclusion of gay and lesbian people. Because there has not been a clear and faithfully formulated theology supporting the relationships of gay people leading to their full-inclusion, we are acting unjustly and unfaithfully as a Church when we ordain partnered clergy and bless unions.

We have acted politically, not theologically, and we have done all this before we are able to make a cogent and thorough theological defense - particularly since we are changing the universal Church's understanding from the beginning.

Here are the two final paragraphs:

Finally, I am quite aware that changing a part of the church's teaching may be in error, and that those leaders who lead others astray will fall under God's judgment. I do not expect to get handed one day a millstone with my initials on it fitted to my neck size, so to speak, but those are the stakes, and we need to own up to it. Moreover, as a matter of justice, not to mention love, it is simply wrong, that is, unjust and unloving, to continue as a church to live into a new teaching without giving clear reasons—carefully argued and officially accepted by our own church—for doing so. While justice delayed is justice denied, the global scope of our actions is in fact hindering the acceptance of gay and lesbian people elsewhere.

Some have said that the moratoria will end when we act to end them. Such an action, undefended, would only perpetuate the present anomie, and raise a real question about a “General-Convention fundamentalism”—“the majority voted it, therefore God said it, and that settles it.” Rather, we need to continue to keep "gracious restraint" until we have done the necessary work in order to end it. We do not have to wait for the rest of the Communion to approve our arguments, of course. But it is terrible that we as a church have continued to avoid that work, and all therefore continue to pay a heavy price, both within and without The Episcopal Church. If we go on blessing same-sex unions and consecrating people in those partnered relationships, and yet continue to refuse to do that work, will that mean that we cannot justify our actions? And if we cannot, then what — in God's name — do we think we're doing?


I highly recommend the article.

We can't help ourselves...

We can't help ourselves, can we? Liberals or conservatives, our collective pathology just won't let us compromise and resolve our differences in ways that show forth the very different Way of Christ.

Here's the thing... we read the reactions to Canon Glasspool's election from around the world that are pretty much just the same opinions repeated from those for and those against. Maybe I'm just perceiving things wrongly, but show me the proof that we are actually making things better for those with the most to lose. ...Show me the something different that actually works to resolve and heal
and that looks much more like the Gospel rather than socio-politics. The distrustful world yawns and stays away while we keep doing the same things again and again. But, I'm surely wrong, right?

Thinking Anglicans gives a good overview of what the chattering classes and the declaring classes have to say.

As many may know, there is a proposed bill making its way through the Ugandan parliament that is incredibly draconian, yet consistent with those Fundamentalists (Christian, Jewish, or Muslim) that believe God demands the death of homosexuals (as described in the Levitical Law Code for Jews and Christians - Leviticus 20:13). Of course, even Fundamentalist Christians do not abide by even the demands of the Moral Law spelled out in Leviticus (despite the assertion that the Moral Law is still in force for Christians), yet they are all too quick to demand obedience to the Moral Law when they think the issue of homosexuality is concerned.

An article from the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, concerning the proposed Ugandan law and the British Commonwealth entitled, "Uganda's anti-gay bill causes Commonwealth uproar."

The issue concerning the proposed Ugandan law comes off the heals of reports of the politicized Religious Right and Neo-Con's exportation of the Culture Wars to other parts of the world. Read about the report from Political Research Associates entitled, "Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia."

A groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) discovered that sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars. U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight.

Much of these efforts come out of the groundwork over the past decade of the Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD). Read the "Reforming America's Churches Project" (and here) of the IRD.

What this group does not recongnize or wants to admit is that in the same way they believe the mainline denominations have capitulated to the prevailing culture in order to be "relevant," so have they and the Evangelical/Fundamentalist denominations capitulated to the same culture, only on different issues. There is legitimacy in the recognition that when the Church - of the conservative or liberal bent - takes on as its primary focus social or political agendas, it gives up its mission and its power. The more fundamentalist left and right do the exact same thing to the detriment of the cause of Christ in the world, but form opposite ends of the socio-political spectrum.

Then there is "The Family." Listen to a report from NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross interviewing Jeff Scarlet, researcher of "The Family" and author of, "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power."

Read the Fresh Air transcript from the episode entitled, "The Secret Political Reach of 'The Family.'"

From the transcript, this brief portion:

GROSS: Let's talk about The Family's connection to Uganda, where there's a, really a draconian anti-gay bill that has been introduced into parliament. Uganda already punishes the practice of homosexuality with life in prison. What would the new legislation do?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the new legislation adds to this something called aggravated homosexuality. And this can include, for instance, if a gay man has sex with another man who is disabled, that's aggravated homosexuality, and that man can be - I suppose both, actually, could be put to death for this. The use of any drugs or any intoxicants in seeking gay sex - in other words, you go to a bar and you buy a guy a drink, you're subject to the death penalty if you go home and sleep together after that. What it also does is it extends this outward, so that if you know a gay person and you don't report it, that could mean - you don't report your son or daughter, you can go to prison.

And it goes further, to say that any kind of promotion of these ideas of homosexuality, including by foreigners, can result in prison terms. Talking about same sex-marriage positively can lead you to imprisonment for life. And it's really kind of a perfect case study in the export of a lot of American, largely evangelical ideas about homosexuality exported to Uganda, which then takes them to their logical end.

GROSS: This legislation has just been proposed. It hasn't been signed into law. So it's not in effect yet and it might never be in effect. But it's on the table. It's before parliament. So is there a direct connection between The Family and this proposed anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the legislator that introduced the bill, a guy named David Bahati, is a member of The Family. He appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes their Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda.

From the HarpersCollins website description of Scarlet's book:

They are the Family—fundamentalism's avant-garde, waging spiritual war in the halls of American power and around the globe. They consider themselves the new chosen—congressmen, generals, and foreign dictators who meet in confidential cells, to pray and plan for a "leadership led by God," to be won not by force but through "quiet diplomacy." Their base is a leafy estate overlooking the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia, and Jeff Sharlet is the only journalist to have reported from inside its walls.

This all reminds me too much of Christian Reconstructionism or Dominionism - read about both here and here. The interconnections between these people, groups, and efforts are not by accident. While the coordination behind many of these efforts are the work of what I think is a relatively small and radical group of people, the influence of their work both domestically and internationally cannot be denied.

Andrew Sullivan comments on all this on his blog, "Christianity vs Christianism, Love vs Power."

In the name of Christ, supposedly

I don't know how many people have heard or read about the gay-bashing of a 49 year old man, Jack Price, in Queens a couple weeks ago. You know, sitting here in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan and having this story all over the news in all of NYC, I just realized that the incident barely registered on my radar. I don't quite know what that says about me - too busy, too expectant of gay-bashing incidents even in New York City, hardness of heart towards or numbness for victims, cynicism about whether our society will ever get beyond such things (and I mean really get be on them, not just having Political Correctness forced upon too many people that brings nothing much more than a shut down in honest dialogue and real education than the changing peoples' hearts and minds) - I just don't know.

Well, here I am, and over in Queens a guy had to be put into a medically induced coma in order to survive.

A brief article in the NY Times.

I was going through some old photos on Sunday and came across some old Web addresses. One of them was for a website started and operated by a guy I met years ago through Soulforce, so I tried to see if it still existed. It did, and on the splash screen was an update on the guy attacked in Queens entitled "Idiots for Christ." Here is the picture from a channel 7 (ABC-NYC) news segment that was posted on the website. Watch the full video of the news piece, with the interview of this guy.

tatoo.jpg

What in the world would possess a straight guy in New York City to be tattooed with this verse? This guy, Gelmy, was defending his friend, one of the guys arrested for beating Jack Price. Why would someone get that particular verse tattooed on his arm? Alright, he may have a thing against gay people, but to go to the extreme of permanently tattooing such a thing on your arm where it will be exposed often is beyond me.

And, yes, this is the natural outcome of all the anti-gay Religious Right rhetoric that has been going on for the past 20 years. When you scape-goat a population, that population gets screwed. As much as the Religious Right organizations and leaders want to claim that their anti-gay stuff is all about saving souls and society, it is about power and money. There are those who have real theological positions opposed to homosexuality, but the Religious Right groups are unprincipled and dishonest and are not made up of these people.

The attack was caught on a surveillance video.

WSJ Article on gay/ex-gay stuff

Short article from the Wall Street Journal on the APA's decision to state that there is no evidence that reparative-theorapies works to change a person's sexual-orientation, and that there is a slow change afoot among religious conservatives concerning the issue.

Link to the WSJ article, Bridging the Gay-Evangelical Divide: Extreme opinions move toward the middle.

A change in descriptions

I've noticed over the past few months that there is developing another shift in the terminology and descriptive words used by the anti-gay Religious Right groups, such as Focus-on-the-Family and Exodus, that will winnow its way into everyday anti-gay language and arguments used by those opposed to emotionally healthy gay people.*

The new term to describe gay people being used theses days is: "gay-identified."

Perhaps this term has been used for a long time, but I've just noticed it. Over the past 30 years that I've kind of been engaged with and watching those arguing for their cause/agenda in the whole ex-gay movement, I've noticed fairly regular changes in tactics, definitions, and terminology as many of their arguments and "facts" have proven to be flawed and going out of favor.

Here is an example from Focus on the Family's "Citizenupdate.com" e-mail "news" updates. "Extending special rights to gay-identified individuals is set to be debated when Congress comes back in session. "

I'm curious of the round-table conversation that drove them to this most recent change in terminology. What went on, what argument was made, what are the reasons why? I suspect that once again, they determined that their arguments are not winning the day, so they have to mix up things a bit.

* Just to be clear, many people in the anti-gay Religious Right believe that for individual "gay-identifying" people, denying one's homosexual temptation and realizing that they are truly heterosexual people, as God designed all people to be, IS what makes (ex)homosexuals truly healthy. The only problem is that for them to admit that there can be emotionally and physically healthy gay people, it would completely undercut their primary arguments against society giving legitimacy and acceptance to gay people and same-sex couples. So, the institutions and organizations (and, of course the leadership) must continually change their tactics for insisting that simply being gay is automatically unhealthy in every way and for every one. It is in their best interest to continue to insist that gay people are completely unhealthy, and so have to be opposed to healthy gay people and whatever may for heterosexuals encourage healthy lives - like marriage.

Interesting piece by Canon Giles Fraser (Team Rector of Putney, in south London) in the Church of England Church Times (Issue 7634 - 10 July, 2009): 'If marriage has friends like these . . .'

The concluding paragraph, quote:
Speaking of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans position and statement on marriage

So they will suck Christian mar­riage into a narrow religious ghetto, associating it with suburban 1950s curtain-twitching, thus making it even less popular than it is now. The FCA is a danger to marriage. So, for the sake of marriage itself, will it please pipe down and go home.

This is going to be a rambling journey through a variety of stuff, I think. That, I suppose, isn't so unusual, but as I'm trying to make connections and put things in some sort of rational order so to make an argument (or statement) that makes some kind of sense, this is just what I have to do. I process "out loud."

I attended the first week of the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. I had a great experience seeing people, witnessing a process that can be tedious, but always precise. Our polity is different and regrettably hard for some around the world to understand.

I watched this video on YouTube for Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtGD6t75HS8
(not available to embed)

So much of our current culture drives us down a path that belittles and denigrates in one way or another our humanity and common good for the purposes of power, privilege, and greed. I can't but head the words and the images of Jackson's song and this video and say that this world desperately needs a different way of ordering itself. I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ presents us a way, but it is a voluntary way, a very difficult way, a costly way, a humbling and self-denying way, a way that will not be accepted by entrenched interests that thrive on maintaining the status-quo even if it means the death of the common good.

This different way in a Christian understanding is a way that is not possible by our own means or determination, but first by the transforming of our souls (the Cure of Souls) by God. It isn't just institutional evil that causes and perpetuates our human ills, but firstly the evil that resides within all of our hearts - our rebellion against God's good way, as the 1979 Pray Book Catechism stresses. We see from history that even religious institutions can often be humanity's worst enemy!

Atheists and non-Christians do great charitable things, and we see many providing a far better example of the "caring for the least of these" than do many Christians, yet the way of which I speak comes only from God's restorative work within our own souls. From that beginning point, institutions are changed by the people within them, our processes are improved, and our world is made better.

Some in this Church of ours (and the greater Body of Christ), have allowed themselves to be co-opted by some Systems of this World. This is true of liberals as well as conservatives, just in different ways! For example, I think that many people within The Episcopal Church have taken to an idea that the foundation of our work is a sort of psycho-therapeutic model that strives to make people feel good about themselves, a sort of institutional purpose that promotes self-esteem or being well-adjusted. If we make people "feel" welcomed, esteemed, and good about themselves then we have succeeded in fulfilling our Gospel mission. It is as if God is the great therapist in the sky (or the new-age kind of daddy-guru figure), rather than the great redeemer and restorer of souls.

For many, this way of thinking has replaced, for whatever reasons, the idea that the Church is to be about the "Cure of Souls" (predicated on the understanding that humanity has been impossibly burdened and bound by ways of thinking and being that separate us from God - sin - and irrevocably destroy true relationship with one another absent the restorative work of the Holy Spirit). I believe giving ourselves to this way of thinking and being has caused the Church to give over its vital purpose for a lesser one, to lose its reason for being (which might be shown by fewer and fewer people wanting to be a part of us). For people seeking a faith community of restoration, I think they recognize that in many ways our Church doesn't look much different from the World - from those systems that perpetuate division, hatred, uncompromising attitudes, and the impoverishment of soul and the common good (even as we do some good works).

I have to ask what kind of foundation the current structures of this Church are being built. Are the structures able to withstand the test of time or the trials that inevitably come as the Systems of this World work their best to overcome and destroy the Way of God? I consider our current troubles and watch the actions and resolutions of General Convention, and I have to ask upon what foundation are we making our decisions. Do we consider the well being of the whole community as vitally important - in the U.S. and around the world - or do we continue to simply concentrate on our own limited and myopic goals and special interests? (It isn't that I am not supportive of the desired outcomes of most of what is being proposed by General Convention as an example, but I question whether the reasons for the proposals are based on Christian precepts - understood through time and trial - or trendy precepts that have their origins in systems that in the end only perpetuate our continued boundedness by sin.)

Why do we do what we do? The injustice that infects this world, the bigotry and exclusion that overwhelms our societies, the selfishness that enables starvation, the myopic vision that encourages war and deprivation - all of these need to be called out and confronted, even unto death. Yet, why and how do we as the Church pursue the remedy of these things? For the Church, I don’t think the “why” or “how” rests on trying to make people feel good about themselves, to be self-actualized, or to be esteemed. That kind of psycho-social work is important and we should encourage and support it, but it isn't the work of the Church. Our progressive sense of wellbeing, from a Christian perspective, comes from the results of a transformation of the soul. What good is it for a man or woman to inherit the world, but lose his or her soul? For the Church, we are to be about the Cure of Souls - salvation, forgiveness, restoration of relationship between God and man and between one another. It is profoundly difficult to give up one's life in order to gain life. It is a long and hard row to hoe for the Church to stand in prophetic opposition to the Systems of the World, predicated on the salvific and restorative work of Jesus Christ.

What was (is) our motivation for BO33 or DO25? What is our foundation?

"Love Between, not Among"

Fr. Tobias Haller BSG responds in a post to the argument made by some who oppose same-sex marriages (or unions of any kind) when they ask a question such as, "Why shouldn’t three or more people be allowed to marry if they love each other?"

A paragraph:

A polyamorous or polygamous grouping of people may claim to (and perhaps actually) share a loving relationship among themselves. But “among” makes all the difference — it is not the same as between. Such a group or assembly may love one another, but they cannot love “each other” — that kind of reciprocal experience is limited to couples. A multiply partnered relationship cannot be “mutual” but must be “distributive.”

Read the whole post, Love Between, not Among.

Unexpected Consequences

From the blog, An Unapproved Road, here is a great piece on the effects of American Idol finalists Kris and Adam and their relationship and because of that relationship (between a Christian and the oh so talented and presumed to be gay guy) there is a shifting in the culture.

Read: We Get to Carry Each Other

A couple paragraphs:

Countless commentators wanted the Idol competition to be about more than just singing. With Danny Gokey rounding out the Top Three, many wanted to make it a tally of endorsements for, oh, shall we call it “lifestyles?” You know, Danny (and likewise Kris, the dark horse bringing up the rear), the card-carrying Christian versus Adam the flamboyant one who hasn’t said he’s gay.

Let us pause to decode that snapshot of American pop culture. In social shorthand, those characterizations imply juxtapositions, i.e. a Christian can’t be flamboyant, and the one who “looks gay” can’t (or wouldn’t) be Christian; or, the one is restrained, temperate, and “good,” the other is … not. (Alternatively, the one is open, creative, and "good" -- while the other is not!)

Whatever. Moving on now, to real three-dimensional people, and the reason Adam Lambert and Kris Allen are important to our spiritual health...

I know next to nothing about Kris Allen’s non-musical life, except that he’s married, he calls himself Christian and he’s done missionary work across the world. I heard about the exchanges among the other contestants that made reference to what is supposedly “godly” and right in relationships, but Kris’s name wasn’t part of that. I don’t know what kind of Christianity he practises, or how he envisions his God. I do know this: he declares himself Christian to the television audience – i.e. to the world; and he freely, publicly, verbally, and especially non-verbally, loves Adam Lambert like a brother.


KrisAdam.jpg

APA and Biological Determinates

Once again, it is evident that the anti-gay forces of the politicized Religious Right will cling to or glom onto anything that even remotely seems to suggest that their pet theories may have a shred of legitimacy. The APA (American Psychological Association) has published a pamphlet that discusses sexual orientation, and in it the Religious Right organizations are having a field day.

Now, these organizations tend to believe that homosexuality is a psycho-emotional "gender identity" disorder at best or at worst simply wanton and willful engagement in deviant sexual relations by men who are intentionally trying to destroy heterosexuality even if it kills their disease ridden carcasses in the process (that is a bit of exaggeration, but not much for some). Any time a study is released that might suggest a biological determinate, they are quick to condemn it and more often than not attempt to twist the comments of the study's author(s) in order to support their agenda. They claim that most all pro-gay people or organizations demand a "gay-gene" theory be accepted as fact. This simply isn't true. I am yet to hear any mainstream gay organization demand such a thing, even though individuals will say that they suspect that when all is said and done they believe a biological link will be found. (Of course, there are gay people who will say that it is all biological, but they are speaking not from fact but from emotion and play right into the hands of the anti-gay Religious Right.)

Here is the paragraph from the APA that is referenced by OneNewsNow.com and commented on by the likes of Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, and their compadres:

What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

Interestingly, I don't see links to the APA's entire pamphlet on the anti-gay websites, "Answers to Your Questions
For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality
," which presents much that is contrary to the Religious Right dogma. In the OneNewsNow article, Matt Barber states, "It's irrefutable from a medical standpoint that people can leave the homosexual lifestyle.... Homosexuality is defined by behavior. Untold thousands of people have found freedom from that lifestyle through either reparative therapy or through -- frankly, most effectively -- a relationship with Jesus Christ."

This is completely disingenuous. From the very same APA source that is used as a "knockout punch," comes this:

What about therapy intended to change sexual orientation from gay to straight?

All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.

Helpful responses of a therapist treating an individual who is troubled about her or his samesex attractions include helping that person actively cope with social prejudices against homosexuality, successfully resolve issues associated with and resulting from internal conflicts, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life. Mental health professional organizations call on their members to respect a person’s (client’s) right to selfdetermination; be sensitive to the client’s race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, language, and disability status when working with that client; and eliminate biases based on these factors.

Barber's statement has nothing to do with the orientation of homosexuality, but homosexuals who decide to forgo relationships of an intimate nature - loving or otherwise. To "leave the homosexual lifestyle" means to no longer self-identify as a homosexual (regardless of the feelings anyone may have), to burn bridges to all people or anything that may temp people to consider themselves to be homosexuals or to be sexual engaged, and to life-long celibacy. They declare that Jesus will heal people of their homosexuality and make them into heterosexuals, but again and again it is shown that beyond willful hopefulness at best and self-deception at worst, this "healing" just doesn't happen.

From this paragraph, comes the OneNewsNow opening line: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch." Now, a generally unbiased read of this paragraph will conclude that the intent is to simply say that we don't know yet what causes sexual orientation, period. But, the Religious Right will use this as a slam against gay-rights organization and homosexuals who claim that they cannot change into heterosexuals.

I think both paragraphs are true, plainly and simply. What more can be said - we do not have enough information to determine what causes even heterosexuality, let alone other expressions of orientation. It is as equally wrong for a gay person to say that homosexuality is biologically determined, factually, as it is for anti-gay people to say that homosexuals can be changed into heterosexuals, factually.

This certainly is not a "knockout punch," but because it says nothing about a biological determinate being the cause they consider it a victory for Jesus (or rather their manipulation of Jesus for their own ends). The APA states the truth. I wish these groups could do the same.

Why can't people simply be forthright and truthful? Honestly, gay people or anti-gay people, just deal with the way things are and not they way you want them to be in the face of evidence otherwise.

Politically speaking, I have always been drawn to Libertarianism. There are shortcomings, of course, like in any "System of this World," including my belief that the common good needs to be given a far greater emphasis within Libertarian thought than many Libertarians I know tend to give it. Perhaps, however, if greater attention is given to the common good in opposition to individualism then it might cease to be truly "Libertarian."

Anyway, I'm linking to A Stitch in Haste post entited, "On Religious Bigots' New-Found (Faux) Libertarianism," a blog-post of a self-described Libertarian about the Religious Rights' campaign to oppose any type of legal consideration for the civil rights of gays because they claim that equal protection or anti-discrimination protection of homosexuals as a minority class would conflict with their right of free exercise of religion (believing that homosexuality is sin and should be opposed at all cost for the sake of the moral health of homosexuals and society in general).

A portion of their argument revolves around the perceived religious right that Christians who oppose homosexuality can deny their economic services or products to homosexuals because providing such things to homosexuals conflicts with their religious belief. For example, a Christian doctor that believes homosexuality is a sin should be able to refuse to artificially inseminate a lesbian couple or a Christian owned camp-ground should be able to say, "No," to a gay couple that wants to use the pavilion to get married.

To be honest, I think they should have that right, regardless of whether I agree or disagree with the outcome, despite that fact that I might be discriminated against. And the Libertarian blogger seems to agree - to a degree, I suspect.

Yet, and here is the kicker, as the blogger suggests, the Religious Right is not willing to be consistent with their arguments or positions (shocker, I know!). The reality is, and most people get this, they only want freedom for themselves and their positions. They only want to discriminate against - homosexuals! When the same logic is used against other minority groups, such as blacks or Jews or the handicapped, they would absolutely deny a religious right to discriminate, but for homosexuals they hypocritically demand such a right. Their arguments are not based on logically consistent and rational precepts, but only on their right to discriminate against homosexuals. The author writes:

If the religious bigots really want to invoke libertarian arguments to legitimize their bigotry, then they better be prepared to be judged by real libertarians about the entire spectrum of libertarian issues — including separation of church and state.

As I just wrote, I think there is the possibility for provision for people to not provide services to others for whatever reason. I know that is not politically correct, and perhaps for reasons of the common good it is wrong of me. Yet...

The thing is, if groups of people want to make the argument that they have a right to discriminate against others (for religious or any other reason), then they cannot turn around and scream bloody-murder when they find someone or other groups that discriminates against them - which is exactly what the Religious Right is doing.

If they want to discriminate, then they must be willing to suffer the consequences (which they aren't) and be willing to be discriminated against (which they aren't). You can't have it both ways - you can't demand the right to discriminate and expect no one to discriminate against you! If I declare my believe that there is an aspect of civil liberty is to either give or deny to others my services or products, then I have to be willing to acknowledge that others have the exact same right to deny me their services or products. The question is whether I'm willing to face such discrimination. Of course, I've encountered too many "liberals" who declare no such right to discriminate even as they so obviously (and blindly) discriminate against those with whom they disagree.

Hypocrisy abounds in America, and regretfully within Christianity (nothing new, anywhere, I know). It is one reason why so many people look upon the Church with such disdain or indifference. We are our own worst enemies.

Day of Silence Protest

So, here is what I find funny - American Family Associate protests schools allowing students to remain silent during school, particularly during "instructional time." Now, I know that AFA is protesting the Day of Silence - they protest anything that might lead to a positive image of anything that smacks of homosexuality. But, read the announcement below.

The politicized Religious Right continues to go further and further to the extreme (and the ridiculous) in their attempts to justify their position. They absolutely have a right to believe that homosexuality is sin and will result in the damnation of anyone who "practices" homosexual behavior, but they use the issues surrounding homosexuality and same-sex unions as scapegoats to turn away attention from their own contribution to and culpability for the decline of marriage in the West, and to maintain their political power and money.

They protest the right given to students on this day to remain silent all day. Most teachers and schools would welcome a day when students willingly remain silent. Anway, here is the announcement:

April 7, 2009

Dear Friend,

The Day of Silence, which is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), fast approaches. This year it will take place in most public schools on April 17. On this day, thousands of public high schools and increasing numbers of middle schools will allow students to remain silent throughout an entire day-even during instructional time-to promote GLSEN's socio-political goals and its controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality.

Parents must actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes. Please join the national effort to restore to public education a proper understanding of the role of government-subsidized schools. You can help de-politicize the learning environment by calling your child out of school if your child's school allows students to remain silent during instructional time on the Day of Silence.

Parents should no longer passively countenance the political usurpation of public school classrooms through student silence.

If students will be permitted to remain silent, parents can express their opposition most effectively by calling their children out of school on the Day of Silence and sending letters of explanation to their administrators, their children’s teachers, and all school board members. One reason this is effective is that most school districts lose money for each student absence.

School administrators err when they allow the classroom to be disrupted and politicized by granting students permission to remain silent throughout an entire day.

Correction or clarification

I need to say this:

There is a difference between dealing with theological and ecclesiastical issues and dealing with the abuse of people. (And, I know that different people and cultures define "abuse" differently.)

While I may say that the way we've been dealing with the issues of homosexuality and inclusion of gay people in the Church has not and is not working and that we need to find a different way forward (perhaps Rowan's way), that does not for a moment mean that I suggest that the Church should not call out loudly the intentional abuse of people, period. I also know that there is enough hypocrisy and self-serving to go around. Double-standards abound.

Two different, although connected, issues, IMHO.

It's Bible!!! That settles it!

The way we engage and use Scripture is consequential to the way we deal with one another and experience this thing called the Christian life. If one believes that the Bible is divinely inspired (in whatever form) or that it simply has profound impact on a lot of people within the Christian faith (and to an extent Christian-influenced culture), then the way the Bible is interpreted and applied is important, perhaps of the utmost importance. When dealing with the deep differences of belief concerning the interpretation and application of Scripture, there are rarely stolid arguments or debates. As a matter of fact, as we witness in our own society in these times, the debates are more often than not full of vitupertive accusation and condemnation. (Usin' new words soes I don't forget 'em)

The machinations that we witness between this Christian group and that one, this Diocese and the rest of them, that Province and the other bunch over any number of theological and social issues imbibe deeply from the worst of human proclivities. We act as if we know little about or understand little of the meaning of God's directives to us in Scripture - how are we to treat other people? How are we to be a different example of a different way to the rest of the world that revels in negativism and destruction?

So, I was wondering how Christians during the 1800's dealt with the divisive and destructive issue of Slavery. How did Christians deal with Scripture? How did they deal with one another in their different interpretations and applications of Scripture? How did all of this work through society? If we remember the Civil War, we will know. There are lessons to be learned from the history of this period that play out in our own controversies in these days, particularly dealing this the gay issue that is tearing apart families, communities, denominations, and whole Communions.

This rather lengthy quote from Mark Noll's book, "The Civil War as a Theological Crisis," published in 2006 by The University of North Carolina Press. Noll is a professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College (a bastion of American-Evangelical higher education, a good school!) currently the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

"This mode of argument became more elaborate and more definite when other Bible believers took up Scripture to attack slavery. Crucially, as Larry Tise and others have pointed out, biblical defenses of slavery were once widespread throughout the Western world; they were put forward by both Catholics and Protestants, both Europeans and North Americans. Nonetheless, by the mid-nineteenth century, the force of the biblical proslavery argument had weakened everywhere except the United States. There, however, it remained strong among Bible believers in the North as well as among Bible believers in the South.

"It was no coincidence that the biblical defense of slavery remained strongest in the United States, a place where democratic, antitraditional and individualistic religion was also strongest. By the nineteenth century, it was an axiom of American public thought that free people should read, think, and reason for themselves. When such a populace, committed to republican and democratic principles, was also a Bible-reading populace, the proslavery biblical case never lacked for persuasive resources. Precedents provided by the books of Leviticus and Philemon were only part of the picture. [Earlier, Noll detailed Thompson's defense of slavery using passages in the above two books that detail the relationship between Hebrews/Christians and their slaves.] Protestants well schooled in reading the Scriptures for themselves also know of many other relevant texts, among which the following were most important:

  • Genesis 9:25-27: "And he said..." (For the sin of Ham, who exposed his father Noah's nakedness, Ham's descendants through his son Canaan were to be owned as slaves by descendants of Noah's two other sons.)
  • Genesis 17:22: "And he that is eight days old..." (God sanctioned and regulated the slaveholding of the patriarch Abraham, father of all believers)
  • Deuteronomy 20:10-11: "When thou goest forth..." (God sanctioned the enslavement of Israel's enemies.)
  • While Jesus abrogated many of the regulations of the Old Testament - for example, those allowing for polygamy and easy divorce - he never said a word against slaveholding.
  • I Corinthians 7:21: "Art thou called..." (While a Christian slave may welcome emancipation, that slave should net chafe if emancipation is not given.)
  • Romans 13:1,7: "Let every soul be subject..." (The Apostle Paul urged Christian believers to conform to the Roman imperial system, which practiced a harsh form of slaveholding.)
  • Colossians 3:22, 4:1: "Servants, obey..." (The apostle regulated the master-slave relationship, but did not question it.)
  • I Timothy 6:1-2: "Let as many servants..." (The apostle explicitly taught that the conversion of slaves did not provide cause for even Christian masters to emancipate those Christian slaves.)"
There is no end to how we manipulate and contrive meaning from Scripture as we force it to support our already conceived beliefs and convictions. How are we to treat others, again? How will they know we are Christians, again? How do we "rightly divide the Word of God," again? And Americans, here we go again (or rather, why don't we learn our lessons the first time rather than God having to put us through the same situations again and again until we do?).

The Vatican Speaks

Joseph S. O'Leary gives an overview of comments and opinions from various sources concerning Pope Benedict's comments made during his Christmas address related to the "ecology of Man" and gay people (a bit of reading between the lines).

Yet Another Vatican Gay Furore

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent for the Times Online (UK), and certainly not a raving liberal, wrote a commentary entitled: "Pope 'spreading fear' with claim that Man needs protection from homosexuality"

She writes in part:

"The Pope has been condemned by clergy and gay rights campaigners for arguing that mankind needed protection from homosexuality much as the rainforest needed protecting from environmental damage.

"Roman Catholic leaders in England, traditionally a liberal province, sought to distance themselves from the Pope’s remarks, claiming that he had been misrepresented because he never used the word “homosexual”.

"The strength of the reaction against his remarks from bloggers and other online commentators worldwide gave one of the clearest indications to date that the row over gays that has taken the Anglican Church almost to a schism is one that is close to erupting in the more tightly ruled Roman Catholic Church as well."

Folks, this is just not going away no matter what Christian tradition one belongs to, or whatever faith for that matter.

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident." - Arthur Schopenhauer

We are in stage 2, and I suspect will be for a while yet.

Why? Really, logically, why?

This passionate plea by Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's "Countdown" for explanation of why people voted for Proposition 8 in California and against gay-marriage. Watch the video!

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

Another screed...

First of all, now President-to-be Obama is under attack because he has supposedly replaced the "pastor to presidents with a gay bishop." It seems Obama met a few times with Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to talk about what it was like to be the "first one."

OneNewsNow.org, a propaganda "news" organ of the American Family Association (a politicized Religious Right organization), ran with the meetings and have spun them to indicate that God-fearing Americans should be ready for a lot of "anti-Christian" stuff from the Obama administration. That is their logic - the president-to-be meets with a gay bishop to see what it is like to be a controversial first person (gay, black) in a prominent position.

Peter Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, believes Obama's consultations with Robinson show the true tenor of his upcoming administration.

"It looks like Billy Graham has been replaced by a gay bishop. We're moving to, perhaps, our first anti-Christian president; it's beyond post-Christian. Gene Robinson advocates homosexuality as part of the Christian experience," he explains. "Now Bible-believing Christians cannot accept that. Homosexual practice is sinful, as taught by the scriptures. This man [Obama] pretends to be faithful to Christianity, even as he works very hard to undermine it."

Of course, Obama has not consulted with Robinson for pastoral advise, presumably, but to simply talk about the reality he may face as a "first one." And, as should be noted, Billy Graham has not been a regularly "pastor to presidents" for a while now due to his age.

These people as self-professed Christians are supposed to practice honesty, integrity, and forthrightness, but this kind of "logic" or argument seems to suggest that they really aren't interested in such things when it comes to political power and influence. Make your argument - that's fine, but do it in a way that is actually Christian and not simply parrots of our current acidic, polarized, winner-take-all-at-any-expense political culture.

They sully the name of "Christian" and defame the cause of Christ in this nation.

These groups will lambaste and defame this newcoming president to the nth degree because he does not support their very sectarian and narrow understanding of what it means to be a Christian, the meaning of Scripture, and what God is doing among His people. They will attempt to poison people's perceptions of this administration so that come the next election all the Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian voters (and hopefully all conservative voters, too) will in no way support the new administration or any other administration that is not in line with their political and economic aspirations.

As much as I really don't want to make this accusation, they really are living up to the worst of the public's perception of what "Fundamentalists" do and are all about. Sadly, that will be the impression too many people will then have of Christianity in general, particularly among younger folks who are raised in this kind of caustic and inflammatory environment.

Read some of the statistical analysis of this past election from Barna Research (a group that does a lot of analysis of religious stuff in this country). "Born-Agains" are not the same as "Evangelicals," and I think that "Evangelicals" will soon need to be re-designated as "Fundamentalists." How People of Faith Voted in the 2008 Presidential Race

Well then...

Well, Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire and the fulcrum of the Troubles, is present in Kent, England. On his blog he is detailing his experience around Lambeth. He is forbidden to attend any of the official events.

His most recent post details an incident that frankly shocked me. I'm really not easily shocked any longer, but I just don't know what to say.

In his words, here is part of what wrote:

Since arriving in Canterbury, I had not yet visited the Cathedral. I went nowhere near the place on Sunday's opening service. The ever-anxious leadership had provided the Cathedral security guards with a large photo of me, posted at the security checkpoints, presumably to keep me from "crashing the gates" of the opening service. No one believed that I would be true to my promise to the Archbishop not to attend.

On Thursday, knowing that the conference attendees would leave early in the morning for London -- for the MDG walk, lunch at Lambeth Palace, and tea with the Queen -- it seemed like a good, low-profile time to make my own pilgrimage to our Mother Church. I told no one of my intentions to attend -- except I had my security person follow the properly courteous protocol of alerting the Cathedral to my visit. I had him also seek permission for a videographer to accompany me on my visit for a documentary to be released sometime in 2010. We were informed that the videographer could NOT accompany me or film me inside the Cathedral. Fair enough. We were told that he could accompany me to the gate onto the Cathedral grounds, and, standing in the public street, could at least film me walking into the Cathedral through the gate's archway.

We contacted Cathedral security to let them know of our imminent arrival, as had been requestd. When we got there, we were met by a gentleman, representing the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral, I think. He intercepted me and told me that I could not be filmed walking into the Cathedral (even from the public street outside) after all. The reason he gave took me by surprise, rendering me speechless (an uncommon experience for me!). "We can't have any photographs or film of you entering the Cathedral," he said, "because we want this to be a church for ALL people." Presumably he meant that my being seen walking into the Cathedral would cause others not to want to come.

This was one of those breathtaking moments when you just can't come up with the right thing to say. The rest of the day I thought of all the things I SHOULD have said. Like, "so you mean that I am not included in 'ALL people?!'" Or, "isn't this MY cathedral too?!" Or, "so what am I, chopped liver?!" The moment was so surprising, after having been so forthright in our notification of our visit and going through all the channels to ensure courteousness, I just couldn't come up with anything to say except, "okay," and accede to his wishes.

We were taken to the Cathedral's visitors office, where we were introduced to Theresa, a competent and warm guide who provided me with a wonderful, informative and hospitable tour of the Cathedral. But I simply couldn't shake the feelings engendered by the previous "welcome" a few minutes before.

I just don't know how to respond to this happening at Canterbury Cathedral, in Canterbury, in England where same-sex relationships are fully legal. If this man enters the cathedral while being filmed, it will cause the cathedral not to be a place for "ALL" people. ALL people. Really, they want it to be for "ALL" people? This is the way?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am certainly a moderate if not a conservative on many things. This just astounds and angers me. I'm reading the 5th Harry Potter book right now, and I feel like Harry in the midst of so many who were lead to believe that he is a lier and crazy and only out for attention. The incident detailed by Bishop Robinson didn't happen to me, but in the face of such a statement I feel by proximity.

He wrote earlier of his encounter with a number of bishops from around the world in a meet-up organized as an attempt at fulfilling the "Listening Process" called for by previous Lambeths.


One telling comment, from one of those who had chosen to accept a brother bishop's invitation despite his misgivings, was moved to lament how easy it is to believe what one reads and hears about a fellow Christian, and to find in meeting him that that impression was distorted. He comes from a country torn by internal strife and with more than enough problems of its own, yet found time in his schedule to participate in this effort at reconciliation. Profoundly moving.

WELL THEN, I just got home and picked up my new copy of Newsweek, and the cover copy is this:

Murder in the 8th Grade: At 10, Lawrence King declared he was gay. At 15, a classmate shot him dead.

And who wants to claim we are a "Christian country?"

What to do...

I've written before that as Christians, despite what cultural Christianity or the religion of it all might imply, we are not to behave as the World does. Reminds me of Austin Powers, international man of intrigue, when he says, "Oh, be-have!" Anyway, left or right, conservative or liberal, the way society or politics deal with troubling issues and the ways people behave towards one another are not the ways we in the Church, "conservative" or "liberal," are to behave. We need one long, loud, and consistent, "Oh, be-have!"

Despite the claims of many, there has never been a single, consistent, or "handed-down-for-all-time" interpretation or understanding of scripture and its application. There has been an always occurring process as we go year to year, decade to decade, century to century trying to understand and apply scriptural principles to life as God intends. Certain understandings and interpretations have become "official" and carried forward, but before they became "official" they were enmeshed in controversy influenced by different cultures and the way the different cultures infused the various interpretations and application. The Creeds are examples of the process - centuries of process and progress. In new controversies will probably follow the same process - whether schism results or not.

Yet, the way we deal with each other is of primary importance and will mark the difference between Christians and non-Christians. We all have failed, terribly. During these recent years past we have failed the experience of Anglicanism, terribly. I have to ask myself how am I to deal with those with whom I disagree despite how they deal with me. How have I dealt with them? How do I take their concerns, their beliefs, their proclivities, what I consider to be their misunderstanding or mishandling of scripture, or their opposition of me and my beliefs - how do I deal with them all as Christ would deal with them - in honesty, in forthrightness, in sincerity, with compassion despite how I feel, with integrity?

The Archbishop of the Episcopal Church in Sudan, Daniel Deng Bul, during the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, addressed the issues of Gene Robinson and homosexuality in a rather long press conference. Here is the weblink to the videos of the press conferences. Listen to what he says - you will need to click on the reports on the ENS website separately.

Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul addresses the media, Part 1 (07/22/08)

Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul addresses the media, Part 2 (07/22/08)

There was a question asked by the Brazilian Episcopal Church press reporter concerning the place that cultural plays in the hermeneutical process of understanding scripture. The Archbishop replied:

"It is not the Bible that should be changed by the culture, but the Bible that should change the culture."
Well, ideally yes, but... Either he does not understand that culture does and cannot but influence us as we interpret scripture or he knows and does not care or he refuses to admit that his own culture does effect his understanding and interpretation of scripture and how it is applied in the same way that American (Western or Northern) culture(s) affect our own understanding and interpretation and application of scripture.

His opinions cannot be dismissed, nor can they be excused. If I want to wrestle with it all honestly and if I am to respect the dignity of every human being, then I must respect his dignity, his opinion, and deal with him in ways that move beyond identity-politics, political-correctness, therapeutic-models, or culturally derived impressions and influence - I must deal with him as a fallible human loved dearly by God in spite of my own proclivities and fallibility. How? I feel no animosity towards him, although I definitely think his is wrong and his interpretation of scripture and its application are damaging concerning our pressing issue(s). How do I live with him - even if he will not live with me? He has seen more trouble, oppression, danger, heartache than I can imagine, yet...

This thing, this being a Christian, is not easy. Sometimes is just sucks. Funny how some think it is just a crutch for weak-willed people.

They will kill? Really?

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, is afraid for his life. I remember reading a few years ago that due to the homosexual plague he suspended all his single, male priests until they were married in fear that they just might be homosexuals.

Now, it seems, he fears for his life. From an article in New Vision ("Uganda's Leading Website") entitled, "Gays want to kill me, says Orambi."

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi yesterday said he fears for his life because of the campaign he has waged against homosexuals.

“Nowadays, I don’t wear my collar when I am in countries which have supporters of homosexuals,” he said...

“I am forced to dress like a civilian because those people are dangerous. They can harm anybody who is against them. Some of them are killers. They want to close the mouth of anybody who is against them.”

“Homosexuals are agitating that it is a human right. But how can it be a human right for a man to sleep with another man or a woman to marry a woman?” he asked.

“What we need is to wake up and protect our church and children against this practice.”

Orombi noted that homosexuals were trying to take advantage of Africa’s poverty by making donations, building schools and offering scholarships.

“We should not accept any donation that comes our way and has strings attached. Some people have already fallen victims in Uganda and we need to stop it,” the archbishop said.


I really like the line that by giving money to help feed starving people or building schools and the like, that evil gay people are trying to take advantage of poor, and I guess ignorant, Ugandans. And, they are trying to kill the good Archbishop.

Well, there you go.

A commenter to the story over on Thinking Anglicans wrote this:

"Gosh. This is such a difficult question. How many gays have been killed or beaten up by homophobes? And how many Africans have been murdered by gays for criticising Western gay lifestyles?"

I wonder?

Ooops

GAFCON attendees run smack dab into the Jerusalem Gay Pride march.

Ian Baster for the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement (UK)

BBC: Anglicans seeking tradition faced with Gay Pride

But to the evident consternation of the organisers of the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) they had travelled all this way to the Christian Holy City only to find the streets taken over by Jerusalem Gay Pride.

...back at the conference hotel contingency plans were being laid to contend with any gay raiding party sent out to beard the traditionalists in their redoubt.


I'm sure they didn't have anything to worry about from gay raiding parties. At least not in Jerusalem.

Do we heed history's lessons?

It is said that those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. I have argued numerous times that we can look back in our history and find situations very similiar to what we are now experiencing concerning the cultural and religious changes we are fighting through in the Culture Wars, primarily over homosexuality and by extention same-sex marriage.

I have been told numerous times that the social and religious experiences of Americans leading up to the Civil War over the slavery issue is not a valid comparison to what we are now experiencing in the Culture War over homosexuality. I've said again and again that I am not comparing homosexuality to race or same-sex marriage to the emancipation of the slaves, but rather the way Christian Americans used and interpreted Scripture, demanded that and then fought over narrow and often sectarian application of Scripture, and how we dealt with one another and our differences. The religious dynamic over slavery back then is, in fact, very, very similiar to today.

So, now I am reading histories of the time period. Here is a rather lengthy quote from my current read, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, by Mark A. Noll.

Does this not sound so very familiar as our country, and more specifically our Anglican church, is pulling itself apart?

The Bible, or so a host of ministers affirmed, was clear as a bell about slavery.

The Bible, for example, was clear to Henry Ward Beecher, the North's most renowned preacher, when he addressed his Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn, NY, on January 4, 1861, a day of national fasting to have people pray for the country's healing. In Beecher's view, the evil for which the U.S. as a nation most desperately needed to repent, "the most alarming and most fertile cause of national sin, " was slavery. About this great evil the Bible could not speak with less ambiguity: "Where the Bible has been in the household, and read in the household, and read without hindrance by parents and children together - there you have had an indomitable yeomanry, as state that would not have a tyrant on the throne, a government that would not have a slave or a serf in the field." (1)

But of course, the Bible spoke very differently to others who also rose to preach in that fateful moment. Six weeks earlier... the South's most respected minister, James Henley Thornwell, took up before his Presbyterian congregation in Columbia [South Carolina] the very same theme of "our national sins"... To Thornwell, slavery was the "good and merciful" way of organizing "labor which Providence has given us." About the propriety of this system in the eyes of God, Thornwell was so confident that, like Beecher, he did not engage in any actual Biblical exegesis; rather, he simply asserted: "That the relation betwixt the slave and his master is not inconsistent with the word of God, we have long since settled... We cherish the institution not from avarice, but from principle." (2)

The fact that Beecher in the North and Thornwell in the South found contrasting messages in Scripture by no means indicates the depth of theological crisis occasioned by this clash of interpretations. Since the dawn of time, warring combatants have regularly reached for whatever religious support they could find to nerve their own side for battle. Especially in our postmodern age, we think we know all about the way that interests dictate interpretations. It was, therefore, a more convincing indication of profound theological crisis when entirely within the North ministers battle each other on the interpretation of the Bible. In contrast to the struggle between Northern theologians and Southern theologians, this clash pitted against each other ministers who agreed about the necessity of preserving the Union and who also agreed that the Bible represented authoritative, truth-telling revelation from God.

Thus only a month before Beecher preached to the Brooklyn Congregationalists about the monstrous sinfulness of slavery, the Reverend Henry Van Dyke expounded on the related theme to his congregation, Brooklyn's First Presbyterian Church, just down the street from Beecher's... But when Van Dyke took up the theme of the "character and influence of abolitionism," his conclusions were anything but similar to Beecher's. To this Northern Presbyterian, it was obvious that the "tree of Abolitionism is evil, and only evil - root and branch, flower and leaf, and fruit; that it springs from, and is nourished by, an utter rejection of the Scriptures." (3)

An even more interesting contrast with Beecher's confident enlistment of the Bible against slavery offered by Rabbi Morris J. Raphall, who on the same day of national fasting that provided Beecher the occasion for his sermon, addressed the Jewish synagogue of New York. Like Van dyke's, his sermon directly contradicted what Beecher had claimed. Raphall's subject was the biblical view of slavery. To the learned rabbi, it was imperative that issues of ultimate significance be adjudicated by "the highest Law of all," which was "the revealed Law and Word of God." ...Raphall's sermon was filled with close exegesis of many passages from the Hebrew Scriptures. Significantly, this Northern rabbi was convinced that the passages he cited taught beyond cavil that the curse pronounced by Noah in Genesis 9 on his son Ham had consigned "fetish-serving benighted Africa" to everlasting servitude. Raphall was also sure that a myriad of biblical texts demonstrated as clearly as demonstration could make that slavery was a legitimate social system... Raphall's conclusion about the scriptural legitimacy of slavery per se reflected his exasperation at anyone who could read the Bible in any other way: "Is slaveholding condemned as a sin in sacred Scripture?... How this question can at all arise in the mind of any man that has received a religious education, and is acquainted with the history of the Bible, is a phenomenon I cannot explain to myself." (5)

One of the many Northerners with good religious education who know the Bible very well, yet in whose mind questions did not arise about the intrinsic evil of slaveholding, was Tayler Lewis, a Dutch Reformed layman... a professor of Greek and oriental studies... Professor Lewis complained that "there is... something in the more interior spirit of those [biblical] texts that [Van Dyke] does not see; he does not take the apostles' standpoint; he does not take into view the vastly changed condition of the world; he does not seem to consider that whilst truth is fixed,... its application to distant ages, and differing circumstances, is so varying continually that a wrong direction given to the more truthful exegesis may convert it into the more malignant falsehood."(7)

So it went into April 1861 and well beyond. The political standoff that led to war was matched by an interpretive standoff. No common meaning could be discovered in the Bible, which almost everyone in the United States professed to honor and which was, without a rival, the most widely read text of any kind in the whole country.

Mark A. Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 2-4.

Are we condemn to repeat our past mistakes? It seems so, at least concerning this issue of homosexuality and how we handle Scripture, its application, and how we deal with one another. I've heard people say that we truly are in a national and cultural state so similar to the leading up to the Civil War that the possibility of yet another large scale civil conflict coming out of the Culture Wars (Red and Blue states mentality) could well come to pass.

------------------
1.) Henry Ward Beecher, "Peace Be Still," in Fast Day Sermons; or, The Pulpit on the State of the Country (New York: Rudd and Carleton, 1861), 276, 289.
2.) James Henley Thornwell, "Our National Sins," in Fast Day Sermons,48, 44-[??]
3.) Henry Van Dyke, "The Character and Influence of Abolitionism," in Fast Day Sermons, 137.
5.) M.J. Raphall, "Bible View of Slavery," in Fast Day Sermons, 235-236.
7.)Tayler Lewis, "Patriarchal and Jewish Servitude No Argument for American Slavery," in Fast Day Sermons, 180, 222.

What are we telling our children?

On February 12th in Oxnard, California, 8th grader Larry asked his friend Brandon to be his valentine. Brandon killed him. What are we telling our children? What are we teaching our children?

Via: Christan, gay, and confused

What results do we see...

Considering my last post, here is the link to the swan-song article written by Stephen Bates, the UK Guardian's Religion reporter. Read the whole thing - he sums up the personal toll that all this “playing religion” we see in Anglicanism and American-Evangelicalism causes.

Hear is an excerpt:

This week’s meeting between Rowan Williams and the American bishops will be my swan-song as a religious affairs correspondent, after eight years covering the subject for The Guardian… There is also no doubting, personally, that writing this story has been too corrosive of what faith I had left: indeed watching the way the gay row has played out in the Anglican Communion has cost me my belief in the essential benignity of too many Christians. For the good of my soul, I need to do something else.

Or this:

I had no notion in 2000 that it would come to this: I had thought then that we were all pretty ecumenical these days. I was soon disabused of that. I had scarcely ever met a gay person, certainly not knowingly a gay Christian, and had not given homosexuality and the Church the most cursory thought, much less held an opinion on the matter. But watching and reporting the way gays were referred to, casually, smugly, hypocritically; the way men such as Jeffrey John (and indeed Rowan Williams when he was appointed archbishop) were treated and often lied about, offended my doubtless inadequate sense of justice and humanity.

Why would any gay person wish to be a Christian? These are people condemned for who they are, not what they do, despite all the sanctimonious bleating to the contrary, men and women despised for wanting the sort of intimacy that heterosexual people take for granted and that the Church is only too happy to bless. Instead, in 2007, the Church of England and other denominations jump up and down to secure exclusive rights to continue discriminating against a minority of people it does not like. What a spectacle the Church has made of itself! What hope of proselytising in a country which has accepted civil partnerships entirely without rancour or bigotry?


Of course, we know far too many self-professed Christians who will loudly claim that England and any other country or state that provides for equal treatment under the law (ETUL) for gay people are giving into Satan's plan to destroy the family and the Church, since by allowing for ETUL for gay people means that they are denying the very essence of God's truth and inviting God's just retribution (judgment and destruction).

It is imperative, according to these people (and remember, I was one of them for the first half of my adult life, although the issue was less politicized back then), it is imperative that any notion of the naturalness or the rightness or the legitimacy of or any positive representation of homosexuals must be stamped out. For too many of those opposed to ETUL for gay people, if they had their way, homosexuality would simply be outlawed, period, and those caught in such a state would be punished. After all, the Levitical Code demands death for homosexuals, and, well, we Christians are a little more forgiving under Grace, so we won't kill them (despite the clear direction to do so by God's very Word). We will love them by doing all we can to contain them for their own good, and even if against their will we demand that they concede to their own healing to become their true God-created heterosexual selves. This kind of thinking is does not come from my imagination, but from experiences I’ve had personally.

Stephen writes about the response of his Evangelical wife ("who is a devoted evangelical and not merely a perfunctory one") concerning this group of Christians:

The trouble with these people, my wife always says, is that they don’t read their Bibles, for they know nothing of charity. I think she’s right and I am in mortal danger of losing mine. It’s time to move on.

They don’t read their Bibles – a perfect response! Well, we certainly know this is true for far too many Christians due to the much publicized studies on biblical and religion illiteracy released a few over the last couple of years and as antidotal evidence shows.

While I didn't always agree with everything Stephen Bates has to say, I respected his opinion. I wish for him the finding of a Christian community where he can again learn to be with God despite the idiocies of God's self-professed children. I hope that his faith will be restored.

...inhuman... not fit to live

UPDATE: It seems that this story and the quote by the bishop may not be on the up-n-up. It seems the story has been pulled from UPI's website. This from The Living Church.

The latest news report of the natterings of a kind bishop from Nigeria:

From UPI

Cleric condemns homosexuals, lesbians

Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Uyo, Sept. 2, 2007 (NAN) The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, has condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians, and described those engaged in them as "insane people''. "It is scaring that any one should be involved in a thing like that and I want to say that they will not escape the wrath of God,'' he said. Orama told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) today in Uyo, that the practice, which has worsened over the years, was "unbiblical and against God's purpose for creating man''. Homosexuals - 2 "Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man,'' the Bishop said. He noted that the Anglican Church in Nigeria had continued to lead the fight against the practice especially in the US where it led the opposition to same sex marriages. "The aim of such fight is to provide a safe place for those who want to remain faithful Anglicans and Biblical Christians,'' he explained.(NAN) NS/IFY/ETS

Well, what more can be said? CANA (those Episcopal Church congregations that have "left" and are now under the Church of Nigeria), I suppose, must support this bishop in his pronouncements. These are the kind of predicaments we get ourselves into when we run wily-nilly after what we think will get us our way.

Fr. Jake has a couple questions and comments.

Observing the changes in verbiage

Over the past 20-30 years, the arguments and verbiage used by the anti-homosexual and ex-gay groups have changed dramatically. As I've said before, these groups and ministries keep having to change their arguments and explanations because they all are proven untenable after a while.

It used to be that these groups would present to the world the opportunity for homosexuals to be "healed from homosexuality." Then, it was something like to "be free of homosexual desire." Now, after reading a bit from a recent Focus-on-the-Family Citizenlink e-mail update, it is "ministry to help people who desire to leave homosexual behavior."

Now, the verbiage has changed to focus on those who want to leave a behavior, not healing of or change in orientation. I still say that the Roman Catholic group Courage has been the most honest and forthright of all the ministries.

Old Jewish proverb

Steve Greenburg, an Orthodox Rabbi and a senior educator at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York, spoke Monday at the College of Charleston on homosexuality in the Jewish tradition.

The "Charleston Post & Courier" ran an article about the lecture, and here is a few paragraphs where Greenburg tells an ancient Jewish

That two-way street illustrates a distinguishing characteristic of the Jewish faith: "God so loved us, He gave us Torah," he said. He gave Jews the Book, and it is up to man to read it, learn it, interpret its meanings and apply its lessons.

"There is no such thing as (biblical) literalism," Greenberg said. "Language is simply too slippery. Of course, that was understood from the beginning."

To illustrate the point, Greenberg recounts an old Jewish proverb:

Three rabbis are arguing about the best method to purify an oven. One insists it's already pure, the others - a majority - say it's impure. But the dissenting rabbi is undeterred. In an attempt to prove he's right, he calls on God for help.

The oven is pure as the aqueduct flows backward, he declares. And with a rumble, the aqueduct flows backward.

That's no proof, say the other two, ignoring God's intervention.

The oven is pure just as this tree uproots itself! Sure enough, the tree tears itself from the ground.

That's no proof, say the other two.

So the dissenting rabbi calls on God one last time: "Send down a voice from heaven to tell my brethren the truth!"

And God, in a booming voice, speaks of the purified oven.

Even this is insufficient to appease the two rabbis, for purification is addressed clearly in the Torah: Divine revelation, then, is accomplished in the house of study, with an eye bent on the book, not turned to heaven.

When the dissenting rabbi tells God what has transpired, God laughs. "My children have defeated me!"

With this anecdote, Greenberg argues for the "rich possibilities" of sacred texts. Nothing is black and white, he said, nothing so austere that mankind can afford to forgo argument and exploration.

I truly desire to better understand the way Jews approach, interact with, understand, and apply the Torah (and all the Law and the Prophets). This will, or should, speak volumes to us as Christians as we approach, interact with, understand, and apply the Old Testament and all of the Bible.

via: Titusonenine

In my Christianity Today daily e-mail news update, there was a short article entitled "Re-engineering Temptation" about the controversies resulting from the blog entry by Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, on possible Christian responses to ideas of preventing homosexuality through hormonal therapies that prevent prenatal homosexuality or negate the sexual temptation for one's own sex in adulthood.

This short article dealt with the Christian ethics if a true biological component is confirmed in the establishment of a homosexual orientation (not preference).

In the article, the author mentioned a five years study being conducted at the Oregon Health and Science University by Dr. Charles Roselli. This paragraph really caught my attention, for one reason that the author of the article didn't attempt to refute it.

"The story begins at the Oregon Health and Science University, where Charles Roselli studies homosexual sheep (about 8 percent of rams are gay). His research, now more than five years old, has confirmed a link between brain chemistry and sexual preference. But his data does not indicate whether chemistry or preference comes first."
At least this seems to suggest that if we look to nature for signs of right theological definitions and concepts, then we will need to conclude that within nature, homosexuality is present and a normal part, even if in small percentages.

So, here are two links to press releases by the university concerning the research of Roselli:

BIOLOGY BEHIND HOMOSEXUALITY IN SHEEP, STUDY CONFIRMS

BRAIN DIFFERENCES IN SHEEP LINKED TO SEXUAL PARTNER PREFERENCE

If science is done well, it will tell us what is observably and verifiable factual. What we choose to do with that information, those theories, those facts, is the realm of ethics and theology.

Alan Chambers, president of the ex-gay umbrella group "Exodus International" commented in the article:

"People like me who struggled with it and found freedom are more than sufficient proof that we can overcome our genetics," he said. "Science will never trump the Word of God."
Frankly, I agree with him, with a caveat. Science and theology deal with two different realms of knowing. Each, rightly construed, should inform one another, not conflict. After all, good science will help us understand what God has wrought. Good theology will help us understand what to do with the knowledge.

Science will never trump Scripture, but Scripture rightly understood will never contradict good science. This was the thought of those ancient Christian monks who developed the beginnings of our modern understanding of science and the observation of the world as it is.

What science may well do is help us understand whether we have rightly interpreted and understood the Word of God! In this case, if science gives us reliable and verifiable evidence that there is in fact a biological determinate concerning homosexuality, then the way we approach, understand, and apply the Word of God concerning this issue may well need to change - not because God changes or the Word of God changes, but because we are wrong in our traditional understanding and application of the Word of God.

After the science, then theology comes into play. What shall we then do?

Was it worth it?

Well, the entire thread (the last two posts) has finally ended. The Titusonenine "elves" (those who mind the weblog) have shut us down.

I do understand what the guy is saying: the whole of Scripture speaks against same-sex relationships that include certain behaviors and that all examples of same-sex behaviors are negative and that there are no positive examples, either. So, whether there are positive qualities in same-sex relationships that include certain behaviors makes no difference, Scripture speaks consistently against all forms of behavior, period.

I contend that the presumption that all forms of same-sex relationships is a faulty premise to begin with and that this faulty premise clouds our right reading of Scripture, particularly of those few verses traditionally strung together to justify a anti-relationship position.

I agree that the examples of same-sex behaviors mentioned in Scripture are negative - but negative like: gang rape, in the progression of idolatry heterosexuals engaging in same-sex sexual behaviors contrary to their heterosexual nature. All examples present a negative image, but all the examples of negative behavior are in fact negative, whether engaged in by homosexual people or heterosexual people.

Of course, when Paul uses the word "nature" in Romans chapter 1, what does he in fact mean? "Natural Theology" had not been developed yet. And even if this were the case and we could look to all of nature, God's creation, to discern what is proper and what is not, how does one neglect examples of same-sex sexual behavior among animals (I've seen plenty of male dogs mount other male dogs, etc.). What does one do with human hermaphrodites? And, if we are consistent, look at the violence within the animal kingdom. Do we want to take this as our example of a right ordering of human society? It looks more like "social Darwinism - survival of the fittest" than the call of Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves.

From what I understand, the prevailing Hellenistic (Platonic) definition of "nature" is more like one is left-handed by nature, blue-eyed by nature, tall by nature, a man by nature, etc. Thus, if Paul was trying to explain something to the people then, did he use a Platonic understanding of "nature?" If he did, then "nature" should be understood to imply "heterosexuals by nature" who are engaging in homosexual sexual acts contrary to the "nature," likewise, if there in fact is a "homosexual orientation," then if homosexuals engage in heterosexual sexual acts then they, too, are acting contrary to their homosexual "nature."

But then again, lots of people disagree with this line of thinking. I don't really know within a Jewish system what "nature" might mean. We can certainly assume that if the Jews of the time where obedient in obeying the Law, then men would not be engaged in things like what a man does with a woman with another man.

By the way in answering one of my many questions of him (which aside from this one he refused to answer), it was made clear that his method of engaging Scripture is within an interpretive system that is not Anglican. He seems to be a premillennial dispensationalist, which if fine if one wants to be because God only knows what the end will look like, but it is not an Anglican theological perspective. I wonder what he understands Anglicanism to be, and why he would attend and Anglican church, and why he finds it rewarding to post on an Anglican blog. Who knows.

Anyway, the Triduum continues, Easter is shortly upon us. The grave will not hold!

I've been having another debate on Titusonenine. It all started with comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the Church needing to be a safe place of gay people.

Here is the link to the whole thread.

Here is what I final wrote to a sarcastic challenge to prove what I think.

-----

I have started this 16 different ways. I’ve written from an academic perspective to a purely personal one. It has gone from a few paragraphs to an essay to a survey to a paper to a thesis (albeit a short one, as those kind of things go).

Where in the world do I begin with a lifetime of experience – living, praying, studying, observing, praying some more, seeking God with all my heart, reading, listening, watching, and on and on and on.

You know, time and again I am accused by people of “obviously not studying the bible,” or “obviously choosing to conveniently ignore parts of the bible,” or “obviously being deceived by Satan,” or “obviously just wanting to justify sin,” or “obviously so immature in the faith that I cannot understand God’s simply truth,” or “so corrupted by meaningless academics that I can’t understand the plain reading of Scripture,” or “obviously…”

I really have been accused of all those things, repeatedly, because I have come to believe through all that I’ve detailed in the second paragraph that the way the Church through her Tradition has dealt with the few pericopes presumed to deal the all issues homosexual has been wrong. I initially came to the question with trepidation and with the same assumptions as most Christians continue to hold. When someone accuses me of what I’ve detailed in the preceding paragraph, I want to laugh. The first thought that comes to my mind is, “you’re an idiot for assuming such a thing… why don’t ask questions to find out rather than making an --- of yourself.” But, that is not the “love thy neighbor as thyself” kind of thing to do, so I repent and keep quite and go on.

Just wear a patch - take the gay away

The Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, has become a prominent voice in conservative Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity in the U.S. I have seen him quoted not only by Southern Baptists or Pentecostals but even by conservative Episcopalians. He is articulate and unapologetic concerning his particular view of what Christianity is and what is not - and along with that who is and who isn't a Christian. He is a Fundamentalist.

Last week, we wrote an article in which he seemed to acknowledge that homosexuality will probably be proven to have a genetic or physiological link - not just a decision made by sex-crazed guys. This caused quite a stir in-and-of-itself among a slue of conservative-religious-politicos. He also stated that while he will probably be against some sort of gene-tinkering or therapy, he might be inclined to support a "hormone patch" to be worn by the mother during pregnancy in order to change the unborn baby's homosexuality.

The Washington Post reports that Mohler in a Friday interview stated:

In an interview on Friday, Mohler said that Christian couples "should be open" to the prospect of changing the course of nature -- if a biological marker for homosexuality were to be found. He would not support gene therapy but might back other treatments, such as a hormonal patch.

"I think any Christian couple would want their child to be whole and healthy," he said. "Knowing that that child is going to be a sinner, we would not want to make their personal challenges more difficult if they could be less difficult."

Since it will be a terrible thing to know that one's child is going to be a "sinner," then we should do all we can to make sure that doesn't happen. Imagine, being able to weed out the sinfulness of us all! Wouldn't that be great - we will no longer be "sinners." If we can do it for the sin of homosexuality, why can we not do it for all sins? Lying, adultery, hypocrisy, murder, gluttony, pride, sloth, not loving God with our whole heart nor loving our neighbors as ourselves - all could be done away with through a patch or genetic/hormonal tinkering. Man will truly be his own salvation at that point, right?

I wonder what that will do with the whole issue of the necessity of Grace, Salvation, and the Passion-death-resurrection of Jesus. God should have just waited until our science progressed to the point where we could genetically or hormonally "change nature" to rid us of sin, rather than Jesus' self-sacrifice on our behalf. Oh well. I know this is not what he means or intends, but it is a logical progression of the idea, is it not?

Link to the Washington Post article

Link to Truth Wins Out commentaries over this issue. TWO was founded by Wayne Besen, author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth” (Haworth, 2003).

Link to Albert Mohler's original article: Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?

Link to Albert Mohler's follow-up article

It's all your fault!

There is a thread on Titusonenine to which I've posted a couple comments. One particular poster, who can argue well, posted something along the lines that "we," meaning those who oppose the inclusion of gay people in relationships in the Church, did not start this mess, and it is the fault of the "innovators" or "reappraisers" or whatever-term-one-wants-to-use, who will not listen to the wisdom of those who will not accept the reassessment of Scripture and Tradition concerning this issue.

Phil Snyder wrote:

"One of my biggest problem with this whole 'We spending too much time on sexuality when there’s poverty and AIDS and hunger to fight” argument is that the reasserters did not bring this up. We are not the ones who insisted we fight this. We are not the ones who refused to listen to the Anglican Communion. I wish this had never been brought up and that we were able to spend our energy on fighting hunger and poverty and AIDS in America and around the world. I weep when I think of all the money and time that we have spent fighting each other so that a very small group of people will not have their feelings hurt by having their behavior labled “sin.”

If you want to work together to fight hunger and eliminate poverty and work with Africans to solve the problems in Africa, then stop pushing these new innovations in Christian belief and practice and repent of pushing them to start with and learn to listen to the wisdom of people who live in these countries on how to solve their problems."

My responses follows:

I remember reading various sermons and essays by Christians during the slavery, women’s suffrage, and civil rights battles in this country. I remember the language used and the accusations made against those who advocated and fought for the end of slavery, women’s suffrage, or equal rights and those who opposed such “innovations.” The attitudes of so many during the slavery battles, and then again during the civil rights era were the same as you have stated above. If we just ignore injustice and let things remain as they are, not rocking the boat of centuries of Tradition and “correct” Biblical interpretation, then there will be no need for battles or problems or division, etc. God’s truth will reign in glory everlasting.

The Episcopal Church was pretty much silent about the slavery issue during the Civil War. Some may say that was wise, most now claim that it was not. I really can’t say, only that there does come a point where decisions need to be made and “innovations” like the end of slavery (a biblically justified condition for up to near 1,800 years, despite a very small but growing minority that championed for an end of slavery of various kinds) need to be advanced.

The Church is doing battle right now over what it considers an injustice concerning the inclusion of gay people - those who are chaste and those in mutual, life-long, and monogamous relationships - in the life of the Church. If we understand our history and don’t try to overlay our own current-day perceptions upon those people back then, the comparison between attitudes and actions now (gay issue) and back then (slavery, women’s rights, civil rights, etc), will show that the battles were as venomous and/or virtuous then as they are today over this issue.

Time will tell who is right. Time will also tell whose interpretation of Scripture will prevail and as God’s will is always done, whose opinion is truly “on God’s side” and whose is not. (Frankly, I doubt any of us are right at this point!) But, to say with incrimination that “our side” did not start this battle and that “we” are right in “our” demand to remain as the Church have always been, is like saying that those who self-justifyingly supported the continuation of slavery or the denial of women’s suffrage or racial discrimination virtuously didn’t ask for the fight and social tumult during those battles, but rather sought peace or truth or the continuation of the “Tradition” over the “innovation.”

Another accusation

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I honestly hope that the accusation against Ted Haggard, who resigned today from the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals and as lead pastor of his church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gay escort claims that he has had a three year "business relationship" with Haggard. Haggard has claimed that he has not had sex with any man and has been faithful to his wife.

If the accusation is true, it is tragic. It presents once again the problems with the claims and methods of the anti-gay Religious Right, which advocates for the denial of the reality of an honest homosexual orientation. I know too many people who have accepted the tenets of Exodus, reparative therapy, and the idea that God will heal them of their homosexual temptations and who have married someone of the opposite-sex as they step out in faith and claim their healing.

I hope and prayer is that, whether Haggard is gay or straight is that the good Lord's will can be accomplished through the tragedy, the heartache, and all the problems this will cause. Does he deserve to be outed if he is truly gay, considering he is a vocal and influential opponent of gay relationships, civil-unions, or marriage? I don't know. I think hypocrisy should be "outed" where ever it exists - first in me! I just wish that no one who is gay will get married to someone of the opposite sex. It never ends well. At least that is my experience.

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