God's Politics

God's Politics


Ralph Reed to Jim Wallis: Rejecting the Liberal “Straw Man”

posted by jmcgee

Part two of a dialogue between Jim Wallis and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed on the question: “What should values voters value most?”

Jim, you make the point that there are many issues of moral concern beyond marriage and abortion. I don’t think there is a disagreement between liberals and conservatives of faith on this point. Pro-family leaders have worked tirelessly on a range of foreign policy issues, including ending genocide in the Sudan, support for Israel, and promoting human rights in China. Walter Russell Mead, the Henry Kissinger Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, points this out in an outstanding article on the impact of religion on U.S. foreign policy in Foreign Affairs.

The claim that religious conservatives focus on one or two issues or somehow believe that other issues lack a moral component is a straw man. Conservative people of faith have worked on a broad agenda, including anti-poverty measures and minority home ownership. Nearly 2 million minority families have purchased their first home under President Bush’s home ownership initiative.

One challenge we face in the dialogue about faith is the tendency to focus on controversy over healing and reconciliation. Where religion and politics intersect, the media spotlight generates more heat than light. If a religious leader speaks out on gay rights, media coverage is extensive and often sensational. But when Franklin Graham helps tsunami victims or the Southern Baptist Convention assists Hurricane Katrina victims, there is scant press coverage. So we must do more to raise the profile of works of compassion outside the prevailing stereotype that defines religious folk engaged in public life.

Yet people of faith must address the central moral questions of our time. As Taylor Branch so accurately portrays in the third and final volume of his history of the civil rights movement, the central moral issues of the 1960’s were civil rights and Vietnam. Martin Luther King?s decision (contrary to many other civil rights leaders) to voice his opposition to the Vietnam War was highly controversial. Slavery was the dominant moral issue in the pre-Civil War period, and religious leaders and all Americans had no choice but to confront it.

In our own time, issues of life are prominent in our politics, especially since Roe v. Wade. Religious conservatives did not create this issue and did not seek it out to benefit the Republican Party; indeed, most of them were Democrats until the 1980’s. But the nation’s conscience is unsettled by one out of every three pregnancies ending in the death of an unborn child, and people of faith should address it persistently and prominently. And when the courts began to impose a redefinition of marriage, people of faith were right to speak out consistent with their beliefs and values.

In the end, what separates religious conservatives from their liberal coreligionists is not a broad versus a narrow agenda, but rather a liberal versus a conservative agenda. We differ on the war on terrorism, how best to alleviate poverty, and the appointment of judges. We bring to those discussions not only our theology but our philosophy of governance and personal political leanings. Taking one side or another on these issues does not make one a better Christian, Jew or Muslim. Hopefully, our faith causes us to take positions as a matter of conscience, and faith should also bring a measure of civility and mutual respect to the discussion that is all too often lacking in our public discourse.

Our faith should cause us to pursue what is right as we can best understand it with a measure of humility. For now, we can only know in part and understand in part. We are flawed and imperfect vehicles seeking to do God’s will. We should acknowledge it more often.

Jim, isn’t there a connection between the reticence of liberals toaddress abortion and marriage as moral issues and the view held by manyAmericans that the Democratic Party is unsympathetic to their religious concerns?



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Will

posted September 18, 2006 at 10:30 pm


People of faith also have spoken up loudly and boldly for marriage equality. Christians, including some evangelicals have marched for gay rights. Christian ministers were involved since the earliest days of the gay rights movement. The Civil Rights Movement was successful because gay people of faith like Bayard Rustin (a Quaker)were actively involved. Many sincere Christians are deeply offended when their voices are not counted as part of the growing movement for gay and lesbian equality. The Religious Right’s stance against gay rights has increased violence and harrassment of gay youth and has divided families, communities and our nation. Gay and lesbian Christian couples seek only the same support for their life-long, committed, monogamous relationships that straight couples receive from their churches and communities. Groups like Soulforce are actively pursuing gay and lesbian equality utilizing the tools of nonviolence taught by Gandhi and King. Christians of all backgrounds should stand up against hatred and bigotry. Shame on the Religious Right — for dividing America and American families and communities for partisan political advantage.>



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D4P

posted September 18, 2006 at 10:43 pm


Ralph said: “isn’t there a connection between the reticence of liberals toaddress abortion and marriage as moral issues and the view held by manyAmericans that the Democratic Party is unsympathetic to their religious concerns?” The answer to this question is probably “Yes.” I’d like to pose a similar question: “Isn’t there a connection between the reticence of conservatives to address poverty, war, torture, greed, the environment, etc. as moral issues and the view held by many Americans that the Republican Party is unsympathetic to their religious concerns?” To me, the great potential that groups like Sojourners possess is not to say (for example) that Christians should vote for Democrats instead of Republicans, but rather to say that neither party accurately represents the teachings of Christ on all (or even most) issues.>



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Paul Martin

posted September 18, 2006 at 10:53 pm


Surely, the task of the Christian is to support justice in the Middle East rather than to take one side. An agenda that cheerleads rather than take seriously the needs and situations of all people involved in a conflict, is frankly immature>



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kevin s.

posted September 18, 2006 at 10:58 pm


Will, You make the unsupported assumption that equality for gays and lesbians necessarily entails the right to marry each other. It has been argued persuasively that it does not. Further, the Bible simply does not allow it. If Christianity is to affect our political outlook, how can we simply toss biblical principles aside on this issue? Shall we pick and choose, in hopes of appeasing everyone? Of course you can argue that the Bible allows for gay marriage. But surely one could come to the conclusion that it does not without being a bigot? I’ve heard the same argument regarding helping the poor. The implication (typically) is that, if Christians arent’ demanding increased funding for this or that entitlement, then we are not adequately caring for the poor. However, this ignores the fact that many conservatives believe that decreasing entitlements has been beneficial to the poor (as has been shown in the years since Clinton signed the Republican’s welfare reform act). You can argue that conservative economic policy is ineffective (wrongly, in my view) but you have to go much further to say that God is against it. At minimum, you have to make that case. D4P, what would you say about Franklin Graham’s efforts in, say, New Orleans?>



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kevin s.

posted September 18, 2006 at 11:18 pm


Paul, If our effort in the Middle East were simply a matter of cheerleading, we could have conducted a few airstrikes, grabbed Saddam and been done with the whole deal. Regardless of what you think of the war, our effort has been based on much more than simply cheerleading.>



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Will

posted September 18, 2006 at 11:23 pm


I think that the argument for gay marriage or unions is happening in churches and synagogues because there is something really to argue about — namely the interpretation of a few Biblical passages (that some believe refer to what we understand to be homosexuality, others disagree). The Religious Right has exploited fear and anxiety of gay and lesbian people (homophobia) to elect politicians that wage unjust wars and defend the torture of prisoners. Christians and others of faith disagree about the place of gays and lesbians — the Religious Right would like everyone to believe that all people of faith are against same-sex marriage or civil unions — when this is NOT the case. There are many Christians who support civil unions and gay marriage — but the Religious Right has used their power, money and influence to claim to speak for all people of faith. I am an evangelical Christian who believes that God calls us to treat all people with dignity and love. Pushing ballot initiatives that divide families and communities is not loving but this is a priority of the Religious Right. Making gays and lesbians scapegoats is not loving, but the Religious Right does this all the time. Forcing gays and lesbians into “conversion” therapies (proven ineffective and abusive) is not loving, but the Religious Right does this too. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group is the definition of bigot — the Religious Right’s targetting of gays and lesbians is irrational and many believe helps fuel hate crimes.>



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dlw

posted September 18, 2006 at 11:36 pm


Ralph, I think the loggerheads over the politics of abortion between Christian “leftists” and “rightists” has to do some with the way it is framed. I believe that a key part of the ministry of reconciliation that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 5:18 is for us to seek to reframe divisive political issues so as to promote compromises and prevent the increase of faith/culture-based acrimony. I have sought to do this in my own writing and have developed what I call a Pragmatic Prolife Manifesto as a result. I hope and pray that you will take the time to read and comment on it in this public dialogue at this wonderful blog. I also hope to see some more brokenness as a Christian regarding how you personally have illustrated the dangers of Christian political involvement, where we end up becoming just like the rest of the corrupt and fallen system. Surely, this is not just a matter of differences in political philosophies? dlw>



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christina

posted September 19, 2006 at 12:27 am


I find the comment about the need to raise the profile of works of compassion to offset the profile of juicier topics in that fascinating place where faith and politics intersect interesting. Is this saying that the problem is that Christians are not ‘seen’ to be doing enough? Works of compassion should be the flavour of Christians everywhere, whether they personally have a high public profile or not, whether it advances the political profile or not. Motivation has the potential to be a slippery slope here. If we seek to be like Jesus in our culture, to love those around us (no matter how unlovely) as modelled by Jesus, then acts of compassion are a natural outworking. Nothing to do with politics. Or judging who is right or wrong for that matter.>



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dave paisley

posted September 19, 2006 at 12:41 am


So Will, if “irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group is the definition of bigot”, how do you defend your stereotyping of the religious right, and with it your irrational suspicion and hatred of it?>



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richard masur

posted September 19, 2006 at 12:42 am


Dear Kevin S., The people I know who advocate equal marriage rights for gays do so only within a civil context. The faith-based argument, pro or con, is irrelevant to them. Gays don’t wish that their clergymen certify or sanctify their marriage/union. They just wish that the state grant them what everyone else has.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 12:43 am


I would agree that the goal of Christian works ought not be to advance a political agenda, and that one should do good to please the Lord, not a constituency. Will, few politicians, on either side of the aisle, believe that gay marriage should be legal. Can you cite a correllation between ballot initiatives and a statistical rise in crimes against homosexuals? Everything I have seen shows that this sort of violence is decreasing, not increasing. Again, you may argue that the Bible does not teach that homosexuality is wrong, but you are left to contend with a text that lumps homosexuality in with adultery and murder. If you agree that our laws should reflect Christian values, then surely you can understand why those who believe the Bible condemns the practice of homosexuality would want laws that forbid the same. Would a ballot initiative forbidding the marriage of a brother and sister be unloving?>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 12:49 am


Kevin S: “If you agree that our laws should reflect Christian values, then surely you can understand why those who believe the Bible condemns the practice of homosexuality would want laws that forbid the same.” Should our laws forbid sins like impatience, lust, greed, pride, adultery, not honoring thy mother and father, etc.?>



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richard masur

posted September 19, 2006 at 12:54 am


Dear Kevin S., You’ve identified one of the core problems here: the notion that laws should reflect “Christian values”. First of all, ask l0 Christians how to define “Christian values” and you’ll likely get l2 different answers. Secondly, our laws are a reflection of a society that extends well beyond Christianity. So, no reasonable person would tolerate society forcing Christians to live an “un-Christian” life. However, in similar fashion, Christians can’t fashion laws that impose their faith and rules on all Americans. R. Masur>



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Jeffery Hendricks

posted September 19, 2006 at 12:57 am


God is love, but He is holy, too. He has said in His Word that homosexuality is an abomination which goes one step beyond a sin. Besides what the liberal, gay propagandists would have you believe God can deliver homosexuals from their sin and He has. Sex without marriage is wrong whether it is between a man and a woman or two men or two women. If this is what I believe it would be unloving fior me to give any form of endorsement to homosexual activity since I believe that such behavior would send those people to Hell and eternal separation from the God who loves them. If Liberal Christians can’t see that abortion is wrong, then they are not reading the Bible with proper exegesis. It is clear that God planned us before we were even concieved and is playing God, which is idolatry, to take the life of the pre-born. I pray in Jesus’ name that liberal Christians will wake up and see the Truth or God is going to come and they will be left outside the chamber because they did not have His Truth.>



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Bill Wilkerson

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:02 am


I nave been a Christian and Baptist church member most of my life but think that supporting the Bush administration would be renouncing my Christianity. I think of “Christianity” as following Christ and can’t imagine: Christ torturing, Christ bombing, Christ budgeting an increase in world hunger, etc. I can’t and don’t believe the Bush administration has any interest in following Christ. Bill W>



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Drina

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:08 am


I think it’s inappropriate and disingenuous for Mr. Reed to imply that social conservatives alone are “pro-family,” espcially considering their poor record of support for lower income and working class families. Ignoring the needs of hungry children and burdened parents in favor of attacking gay Americans does not make one pro-family. Pro-family voters are those who support programs for the poor and work for equality in education. I doubt you’ll find many in Mr. Reed’s circle.>



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Drina

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:16 am


surely you can understand why those who believe the Bible condemns the practice of homosexuality would want laws that forbid the same. If this argument is used consistently, then conservative Christians have no choice but to favor laws that forbid divorce, except in cases of proven adultery. But by and large, such is not the case, and in fact, the divorce rate among this population is astronomical. How do conservative Christians justify such bibilical cherry-picking?>



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Drina

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:17 am


God is love, but He is holy, too. He has said in His Word that homosexuality is an abomination which goes one step beyond a sin. …as is idolatry, the sin most harshly condemned in the Bible. Should we then prohibit freedom of religion, since it guarantees the right to idolatry?>



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Michael Hayes

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:21 am


I think of conservatives as viewing family, government, and religion through a “strict father” model in which self sufficiency is stressed, and I think of liberals as viewing family, government, and religion through a “nurturing parent” model in which societal responsibility is emphasized. The two models are presented by Geoge Lakoff in “Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think”. I think the vast majority of people are pragmatic, whether liberal or conservative. For example, I think they see the value of reducing the number of abortions by providing support for pregnant women and for single mothers and their children, and I think they favor programs to prevent unwanted pregnancies, including provision of contraceptives and information for the use of contraceptives. I think that chances for them to succeed would be high, if they could get candidates and elected officials to focus on pragmatic approaches to reduce the number of abortions. Instead, the focus of candidates and elected officials is on either trying to enact law to prohibit abortion or resist that from occurring. May pragmatic US voters “find one another” and get the attention of candidates and elected officials focused on pragmatic solutions, thereby reducing the number of abortions. That would “change the wind”.>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:25 am


We are stumbling into one of my favorite topics, which has to do with the relationship between an act being “wrong” and being “illegal.” Some people argue that certains acts (e.g. gay marriage) should be illegal because they are wrong. However, as has been pointed out above, people who make this argument presumably don’t actually apply the logic “if an act is wrong, it should be illegal” to all possible acts. Therefore, it would seem that those who believe gay marriage should be illegal need to come up with a better justification for that stance than “It should be illegal because it is wrong.” Laws do not exist to implement God’s commandments. If they did, all sins (not just a subset) would be illegal. Laws exist primarily to help people live together in a society (whether they achieve that goal or not is a separate issue). That’s not to say there’s not relationship between God’s commandments and the law, but they’re not congruent.>



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Will

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:33 am


Dave, Being part of the Religious Right and being gay or lesbian are very different. Being gay or lesbian is not a choice — being part of a powerful, wealthy, highly organized political operation that uses fear of difference to win elections is a choice. The Religious Right has decided to largely be silent about the Death Penalty, greed in corporate America and the unjust, immoral war in Iraq. Gay and lesbian Christians I know struggle on what to do — seek a healthy, loving relationship, force themselves into celibacy, or seek to change their natural feelings of attraction by going to therapies that have largely been discredited. Sadly too many gay Christians for years have attempted to hide their orientation and marry someone of the opposite gender. Closeted gay people pretending to be straight is not good for anyone’s marriage. So what is the proposal from the Religious Right? Ban gay marriage and civil unions but then what exactly then are gay and lesbian Christians supposed to do?>



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Steve Mehlman

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:35 am


Who said this? “Raise the fluttering banner of monotheism when God’s rule is established governing all people and nations.” Was it: George W. Bush Pat Robertson James Dobson Billy Graham Joel Osteen Tom DeLay Answer: (scroll down) al Qaida (“al-Qaida Says Pope, West Are Doomed,” Associated Press, September 18th.) Surprised?>



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Neil Korsgaard

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:38 am


Jeffery, What liberal ever said that abortion isn’t wrong. This is one issue on which there is nearly universal acceptance. Abortion is a terrible tragedy. The area of disagreement lies in the appropriate way to fight abortion, through legislation or through education. This division in thought also runs through the aguments of drug use and addiction, sexuality, etc. We can preach the values of abstinence or temperance in a variety of areas, but it also helps to recognize that sometimes the approach of “Just say no!” is not working and that ultimately, people should be in charge of their own bodies. Why is it that the very same people who rail against abortion are often the ones trying to prevent open dialogue about any sexual issues in schools? They don’t want to tell girls how not to get pregnant, then they want to forbid abortion – even in the case of rape and incest. No rational being is “Pro-abortion”>



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Rodney P. Dempsey

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:41 am


Ralph Reed – what you have done, speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say. You have proven yourself to be a pawn of the neo-con Republicans and a puppet of Jack Abrahamoff. When you get on your knees and beg God for forgiveness, I will also forgive you, but to continue with your arrogance does nothing for me. God is not a Liberal or a Conservative, and definitly not manipulated by neocons. Rodney P. Dempsey>



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Bob L.

posted September 19, 2006 at 2:03 am


If Reed is right, I’ve been living on the wrong planet. I grew up in an evangelical right-wing conservative denomination, and have been a minister in it for the past decade. I have been troubled by my tradition for several years over many things. If conservatives have a huge agenda and are not based on 2 issues, I’ve never seen it. Our church would get mail from the Christian Coalition telling us who to vote for. Pro-life speakers would come and speak. Republican presidents would be prayed for, but not Democartic presidents. Every time an abortion or gay rights issue came up, we were told to go to the polls and stand up for Jesus. But I never heard anything about immigration, minumum wage, white color crimes, racism, poverty, the environment, world hunger, the economy, etc. Those issues would not be resolved because we were going to heaven anyway, so who cared? I’ve even seen people shocked to say you’re a Christian and you didn’t vote Republican. But in our tradition, presenting another view throws you into danger. Medical science tells us things about sexual orientation that we didn’t know way back when. 100 years ago, they were trying to figure out if women and persons of color were competent enough to minister. Someday people will think the same of us in these issues. Abortion isn’t the issue- overpopulation is. If condoms keep unwanted children from coming into the world and keep a single mom out of poverty, aren’t they worth it, even if abstinence is the better way? I now realize how blinded I was as a conservative with a narrow view of things to pander to the religious right and call it “God’s design.” The right does get it wrong…and I hope the left gets it before ’08.>



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Kymus

posted September 19, 2006 at 2:41 am


Bob L., Well said!>



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Jeff Crigler

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:16 am


Has anyone noticed that “asymetrical warfare” isn’t just a problem for our brave soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan? It seems its a problem for Christians facing demagogues like Ralph Reed. Wallis opens up a thoughtful blog to consider what implications our faith has for our politics and is quickly deluged with rankerous suicide bompers from the right. My hope is that Wallis can somehow keep this discussion symatrical but I’ve got my doubts as to whether that is possible in today’s environment. Next up: Liberal Christians who turn the other cheek are eager to “cut and run”>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:26 am


Turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us: all commandments from Jesus, and all dismissed by the current administration as soft, weak, and appeasing.>



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Michael Hayes

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:05 am


Duane Shank has a “Daily News Digest” on this site as a companion to this discussion. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06260/722525-85.stm is provided as a link, and it discusses the perception of James Dobson by a father and then by his son. The message I come away with is that the appeal of Dobson may (or may not) be dwindling. Apparently Dobson is conducting rallies is states which have senate races which may be critical to the level of control of the senate by conservatives. Dobson’s group is not tax-exempt, so it can support candidates. Sojourners is tax-exempt.>



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:47 am


The real problem with this debate is that being religious or involved with a church is a sign of respectability in this country. The contrast in other lands is that Christians are often being, and expect to be, persecuted for their faith. In addition, the idea that Christian political involvement should be defined by two issues is of course ludicrous — but those two raise the most money, on which politics run. The trouble is that you don’t need to be a Christian to oppose abortion or believe that homosexual conduct is immoral; many non-believers feel that way. The key, to me, remains WHY we do such, other than saying “well, the Bible says…” because the Bible actually says very little about homosexuality (and what little it does say is that it represents rebellion against almighty God) and nothing at all about abortion.>



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Philippe Bogdan

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:51 am


I’m French, so I will not comment on US internal politics. But maybe react to this part of Ralf Reed blog : “But when Franklin Graham helps tsunami victims or the Southern Baptist Convention assists Hurricane Katrina victims, there is scant press coverage” Isn’t it what we, as Christian should always do when people are suffering? So why the media should be impress by something that should be a way of life for all of us, and not only in times of big catastrophy, but as Jesus said clearly, for our neighbours, even when he is a muslim from a foreigh country, Irak or Palestine maybe ? (sorry, I could’nt resist…) If I’m right, someone a while ago said to the believer of his time : “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Philippe (struglin with the same issue in my life in France…)>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:56 am


Rick – Regarding “WHY we do such”, I posted this in an earlier comment thread on this blog. One thing that is interesting to me (and that I have never heard discussed) is WHY conservative Christians (CCs) focus so heavily on these two issues, to the exclusion of so many more. I have a few hypotheses I’d like to throw out. First, gay marriage and abortion ultimately relate to sex. In my experience, CCs often have “issues” with sex, and tend to be overly judgmental and critical of people who don’t conform to their notions of appropriate sexual behavior (in a way that they are not as critical of people who don’t conform to appropriate behaviors in other areas of life). Second, it seems to me that opposing gay marriage and abortion requires absolutely no personal sacrifice whatsoever from CCs. Assuming you’re not gay and/or will never have an abortion, it is very easy to oppose gay marriage and abortion. Contrast these issues, for example, with trying to fight poverty or global warming, issues that implicate all of us and that require all of us to make personal sacrifices. If I oppose poverty and pollution, and if I want to be part of the solution to those problems, I have to admit that I am also part of the problem and I have to make changes to my own lifestyle. Such is not necessarily the case with gay marriage and abortion. Jesus warned us against pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye while ignoring the plank in our own. If there is a better example of this than focusing almost exclusively on “sins” that don’t implicate yourself (e.g. gay marriage and abortion) while ignoring a littany of others that do (e.g. greedy and selfish lifestyles), I have yet to see it.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:12 am


A number of people have written to make the case that, if we are to oppose gay marriage on biblical grounds, then we must ban anything that is wrong. This would be an argument against allowing our faith to influence our politics, and brings us to an argument of whether gay marriage corrupts marriage from a societal perspective. I have my opinions on this, but they are not relevant to my point, as I am not making the case that gay marriage is wrong, but rather defending the integrity of those who do. However, I would say that Christian conservatives do endeavor to be consistent in their belief that Christ’s principles be applied across the board. We can’t ban lust any more than we can ban someone thinking about murder. However, we can establish stronger decency laws (Jim Wallis advocates this, I believe). Many religious conservatives would support laws against adultery, though they recognize this fight would be a losing one. Some of the sins that have been mentioned are those that occur in one’s thought-life. Those cannot be prosecuted for obvious reasons. For those who believe that Christian values should not influence politics, what do you make of Jim Wallis’ mission? Just curious..>



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Drina

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:50 am


I would say that Christian conservatives do endeavor to be consistent in their belief that Christ’s principles be applied across the board. Considering the actions of those on the right, few have any reason to buy this assertion at all.>



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CKC

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:29 am


Mr. Reed states that “The claim that religious conservatives focus on one or two issues or somehow believe that other issues lack a moral component is a straw man.” I must strongly agree with Bob L. As one who grew up in an independent Baptist church and who has an extended family deeply rooted in the Nazarene church, I can assure you that among such religious conservatives there are only two or three hot button issues: abortion, gay marriage, and school prayer. In my experience, these churches opinions on other social issues like poverty and racial injustice are heavy on personal responsibility and short on compassion. As an Ohioan, I can also assure you that it was clear from the deluge of mailings I received during the 2004 campaign that the Republican party was blatantly targetting “values voters” and they believed that only two things mattered to those voters: abortion and gay marriage. The claim that religious conservatives focus on one or two issues has not occurred because the media didn’t give Franklin Graham enough credit for helping tsunami victims. The claim is born out of the reality of first hand observers in local congregations and friends and neighbors sharing their personal views at work, over dinner, at the barber shop, on the front porch, and at little league games all across the country.>



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Karmakin

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:10 am


Just a suggestion. If the discussion is going to be about the moral center, so to speak, a basic definition of morality might be a good idea, just so things don’t go slip sliding around. Here’s my definition. Morality is how your actions and decisions affect other people, modified by your intentions when doing those actions.>



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Joel Wasinger

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:11 am


I’m with Jeff Crigler and might even take it a step further. It sure seems to me that Ralphie has pulled a quick one on us here. Not to feminize you, Ralph (surely that would be irreverent while folks are debating homosexual union), but what I hear in your post is a southern belle exclaiming: “Why Jim, what ever could you mean? We’re all just peace-loving, God-fearing salt-of the earth who would sell the plantation if it meant the black folk and the poor folk could have a better life. Why look at all of our charity. How could you make up such stories and lie about us so?” Idunno, it sure seems like there’s some misdirection in the works; meanwhile we in the peanut gallery seem to be hung up on–what is this?–those wedge issues. Will wonders never cease.>



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Chris

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:21 am


Can someone–Ralph or someone of like mind–please help me understand how these three things stand in parallel: “ending genocide in the Sudan, support for Israel, and promoting human rights in China”? The first, “ending genocide in the Sudan,” I understand and applaud my more conservative brothers and sisters for fighting against it. The third, “promoting human rights in China,” likewise. But, the second, “support for Israel,” I do not get. How does it fit with the other two? Mr. Reed lists it as one of the examples of what the “Pro-family (sic) leaders have worked tirelessly on,” but I fail to see how support for Israel is in the same set of foreign policy issues as ending genocide in the Sudan or supporting human rights in China. Indeed, Mr. Reed must agree, for he is want to actually name some sort of travesty that is being addressed (i.e., genocide or human rights). I had a hard time continuing with the post when such a well-placed but sorely misplaced “foreign policy issue” was mentioned in the first paragraph. It immediately warned me that the writer was going to couch “wedge” issues in with more legitimate and pressing issues. If someone could help explain the inclusion, I might be persuaded to take the rest of the post more seriously.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:25 am


Jesus makes this clear. Belief sends a person to hell or not. The idea that we can legislate marriage is a joke. Sorry rightwing folks but your legalistic rendering of the gospel and the bible can’t work. You seem to want to revert to Judaism and if that’s the case feel free. But the fact is we are not Jews and therefore the laws in the Tanuch don’t apply in the same way. When was the last time you saw a protestant caring about boiling a goat in its mother’s milk? Just asking, if we follow one law which the bible never created a law against then I guess we need to follow them all. But if we do that then we are condemned. Paul and Christ stand together in unison on this. THere is no condemnation for those that follow christ. He outlawed the act in Israel but it did not end it. Other nations were still having gay sex and God did not destroy them for that. Read the prophets God destroyed nations for mainly two things genocide and hating the poor. The problem is that regardless of what conservatives think a marriage should be they don’t get the right to decide that unless they are willing to be more consistent in their belief system. Are you willing to cut out marriage for non-Christians too? They have sex outside of marriage. Are you willing to come up w/ better standards for sex in marriage? Can you create a law to control someone’s thought life when they are laying w/ their wives? If you are not willing to do anything to free people from sexual brokeness and pain then please be quiet and deal w/ your own stuff first. Will you outlaw masterbation or any number of sins? Just asking because if you don’t then all this gay stuff comes across as nothing more than discrimination. Right now I honestly see gay marriage happening and it will be to show you folks that don’t agree a sign. It would not be the first time God used something considered profane to teach his people some important lessons. It won’t be the last. p>



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M. A. Robison

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:50 am


I’m not entirely sure how to frame the comments that are bouncing around in my head. As a liberal Democrat-voting Christian I agree with some of the positions that have been advocated here. I am in favor of “gay” rights, sexual education and contraceptives, and support abortion rights. But more importantly to me, I must say, is the tone in which this discussion is being waged. I am deeply saddened, yes and ashamed even, at the provocative nature of the comments and charges my brothers and sisters are leveling at each other. It was my understanding that this was to be an open discussion where peoples from all points of view could come and share equally with each other. Thus far I have not been impressed with the respectfulness of the participants. I come from a majority Republican family and am often teased and harassed for my beliefs. But nevertheless, no matter how much we disagree, we remember that God’s commandment to us is to love each other. I hope to hear more love from these posts soon.>



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Paul Martin

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:22 am


Kevin,the point is that Ralph summed up the conservative position as supporting Israel. He did not say it was about supporting a just peace. That some have supported war on this basis makes the crime greater than cheerleading. If all people are God’s children, then the Christian is called to seek justice for all, not to take the immature road of putting one people above another! i repeat that Ralph’s position i not credible and is even immature!>



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Dave

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:12 pm


Sorry, but you lost me from the get go here. I understand both sides in the abortion debate wanting to pro-something, hence pro-life and pro-choice. People prefer to be strong advocates for something. But to me, “pro-life” does not immediately translate to “pro-family” any more than “anti-war” translates to “pro-terrorism” as it does in the President’s vocabulary.>



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Mark Calder

posted September 19, 2006 at 2:46 pm


I’m sorry? Supporting Israel, period, is considered “moral” in the same way as ending genocide in the Sudan and promoting human rights in China? Whilst I understand that there is a very passionate attachment to Israel, culturally and religiously in the US (amongst dispensationalists at least), I am surprised that you would go as far as to proclaim support for Israel as moral in these terms. A nation born through what is now called ‘terrorism’, that has consistently subjugated an indigenous minority, and has proven all too comfortable with starting wars, must surely be (at least) morally questionable.>



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Zero-Equals-Infinity

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:12 pm


GWB and his neo-conservative cronies are no full-spectrum Christians. Are torture and extraordinary rendition Christian values? Jesus wept. Did GWB stop one execution while governor of Texas, (the state that holds the dubious distinction of more executions than any other in the union)? Jesus wept. “Neo-conservative Christian” is a two word oxymoron. A moral nature is one which weighs carefully and acts from a compassionate base, aware that the exercise of great power carries with it great responsibility, (and accountability.)>



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Jeff McCloud

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:13 pm


Ralph Reed says “one out of every three pregnancies ending in the death of an unborn child.” Really? Does this one-third of all pregnancies end in abortion, because that is certainly what he is insinuating? While his statement might be accurate, I’m inclined to think that the number of abortions actually far lower, and that more pregnancies end because of natural miscarriages. Ralph — let’s be honest with statements and numbers such as these and not spin them so wildly.>



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Sarah

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:30 pm


I believe Reed’s statistic is more rough than you would like, but let’s not make it a straw man. Here are some hard numbers: The number of live births each year (in recent years) has been about 4 million, and the number of abortions has been about 1.3 million per year. I don’t see any evidence that Reed is “spinning the numbers”, and this is in fact exactly the frustration many of us feel when, in order to push on other agenda items (like foreign policy) the issue of abortion is minimized. Why does the Christian left want to do this? Why can’t they care about both? I should also note, I don’t know many pro-life people who believe in a one-pronged strategy of simply changing the law — most of them believe firmly in the central role of education to improve peoples’ respect for the unborn. This again is a false dichotomy that someone brought up on this blog.>



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Dennis Gilbertson

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:43 pm


When my wife and I decided to get married by law we needed a marriage license. Why would the local county government need to collect a tax on the bond of love and faith that God gifted us?>



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Linda

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:49 pm


Liberals are interested in ending abortions, too, by such methods as raising the minimum wage, establishing a better system of health insurance that’s not tied to employment, bringing jobs back to the U.S. instead of oursourcing to other countries. One couple I know chose abortion after their fetus was diagnosed with a serious birth defect. The husband was just laid off and lost his company health insurance & benefit plan; they have three kids already, and the wife is a stay-at-home mom. They simply cannot afford to bring a special needs child into the world, After days of tearful consultations with family and friends, they chose abortion. Making abortion illegal won’t change anything, but making families feel economically secure will make a huge difference.>



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danutz

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:26 pm


While my political views fall on the side of Jim Wallis, this site is already showing that Ralph Reed is a much better communicator and Jim’s question’s were poorly voiced. Jim didn’t seem to really be trying to help bridge the gap here. The religious left needs some leadership with more than great ideas but also with communication skills and political skills to effect the debate. The right has a monopoly on those skills at the moment.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:42 pm


A number of people have mentioned that liberals are pro-life, and choose to act on that conviction by supporting, for example, a higher minimum wage. Is there any link between the minimum wage and the abortion rate? I don’t think there is, but I could be wrong. Is there a link, on a national basis, between abortion and the percentage of people who lack health insurance? More to the point, would you ever say “I oppose murder, but I would rather prevent it through raising the minimum wage?” Of course not. You would ban the practice, and advocate raising the minimum wage as a means of reducing the illegal instances of murder. I would also add that conservatives do not oppose raising the minimum wage because they do not care about the poor, but rather because they believe it to be an inefficient means of delivering relief to the poor, in that it reduces the number of jobs available to them. The overwhelming majority of prominent economists agree with this point, and the even New York Times once advocated that we abolish the minimum wage (not that I agree with them).>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:51 pm


Danutz, Seriously? We’ve got GWB on our side; the giant, walking malapropism himself! All kidding aside, Ralph Reed is a pretty sharp cookie. Jim Wallis is a very (very) disciplined talking points guy, so I wonder if Ralph can nudge him off of that a bit.>



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Mary McGuire

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:51 pm


As part of the early movement to the Republican Party in the 60’s, I was dismayed at the influx in the ’70s of the conservative (bigoted) “old boys” into the party. The inclusive slowly became exclusive, leaving me a female moderate out in the cold. As the party stands today in the South, it is just a replay of the old Dixiecrats of my childhood. On the subject of abortion, I think both sides could agree that it is an abuse of women, but put it in its place, it is the final abuse not the start. The start is that men are not reminded of God’s directions in the Old Testement to not “throw their seed onto the ground” or to me putting this into modern terms–not to have indescriminate sex to prove their “manhood”. Paul directs men to sacrifice themselves as Christ did, giving up His life for the church. To me this means, not abandoning the pregnant woman. If men were more accountable, abortions would drop even more than they have in the last 10 years. If the faithful offered more childcare, medical coverage, more family friendly care, more loving acceptance and support–the last abuse of women chosing abortion would not be the only visible option. AS to marriage, after 300 years of English law, this is the only contract of property transfer that is accepted by all 50 states. Maybe we need to work on changing the law to recognize women and children as human beings not just the property of the spouse/parent.>



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CLS

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:12 pm


Quite honestly why should public policy be based on anything but fact? That is why should it matter if it is “liberal” theology or “conservative” theology behind a policy. The founders were right to call for separation of church and state. Reed and his kind are wrong to try to control man’s spiritual values from the central government but no more wrong than those who wish to centrally plan man’s material existence the same way.>



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Pacific231

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:23 pm


I hope the folks here enjoy the rigorous debate with…Ralph Reed??? Rightward ho, Bnet! Buh-bye.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:24 pm


The factor motivating most people to advocate and work to keep abortion legal is being able to avoid accepting responsibility for the consequences of their actions. In addition to that factor, is the factor that for some keeping abortion legal is also very financially lucrative. The last thing the aforementioned groups of people want anyone to think about is the humanity of the pre-born humans who Americans are free to wantonly kill.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:26 pm


Why should our society give the societal benefits of marriage to male on male or female on female sexual relationships? They provide nothing of value to a society.>



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jessie

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:38 pm


Wallis’s charge that religious conservatives ONLY care about abortion is definitely false. However, it’s probably true that many are *most concerned* with abortion. And why shouldn’t they be? Could you imagine living in the era of slavery? Wouldn’t slavery be the most important issue to you? Could you imagine voting for a candidate who had several policies you liked BUT they also supported the enslavement of blacks? Slavery was an attack on liberty, and abortion is an attack on life. Abortion is at least as great an evil as slavery. Why do we treat it differently?>



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Linda

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:38 pm


Just wanted to add that I’m a Christian, and I am in favor of gay couples having the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. I don’t pretend to understand homosexuality, but I know several gay couples who have been in committed relationships for decades, and they deserve equal rights to the same things my husband and I take for granted–hospital visitation, for instance. As for the argument that gay marriage devalues “traditional” marriage, I disagree. My marriage isn’t devalued by celebrities who make a mockery of their vows by divorcing after a few months (or hours), so how is my marriage threatened by two 60-year old guys who want to celebrate their 30th anniversary by “making it legal?”>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:53 pm


“If a religious leader speaks out on gay rights, media coverage is extensive and often sensational.” It isn’t that they “speak out”; it is that they ‘speak AGAINST’ equality for ALL citizens – something that is supposedly ‘guaranteed’ in yer “constitution (you know, the inclusive one you HAVE, not the exclusionary one yer “president” would like it to become) – including God’s gay and lesbian children, that causes the ‘sensational’ reaction in the media. “But when Franklin Graham helps tsunami victims or the Southern Baptist Convention assists Hurricane Katrina victims, there is scant press coverage.” And rightfully so. Why should the media give coverage to people who are (or OUGHT to be) doing their jobs?>



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Tiparillo

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:53 pm


Why anyone would look to the corrupt Ralph Reed, a money-grubbing, political operative to talk about morals is beyond me. Eddie says of gay unions, “They provide nothing of value to a society.” Says, who? So the families in myh neighborhood that have gay parents are providing value in raising their children? Paying taxes? Volunteering at schools? Striving to achieve the American dream? Eddie, what vaule do you bring to our society?>



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Will

posted September 19, 2006 at 5:55 pm


A few posts back Eddie said, I suppose representing the Religious Right’s view of sexual minorities… “They provide nothing of value to a society.” Here are a list of a few famous gay, lesbian or bisexual people who have provided much of value to society. Leonardo di Vinci, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Lorraine Hansberry, W.H. Auden, Edward Albee, Aaron Copland, Benjamin Britten, Socrates, Plato, Michelangelo, Tennessee Williams, Gertrude Stein, William Stringfellow, Bayard Rustin, Mel White (a former speech writer for Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson), Elton John, and Ellen Degeneres I appreciate that Jim Wallis and Sojourners are attempting to create space for dialogue. I’m looking forward to seeing more faces and voices from Progressive Christianity on this blog.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:00 pm


Linda, Your marriage may not be devalued by celebrities who make a mockery of the institution, but marriage as a whole, and its appeal as a safe place to raise children and enjoy sex, is certainly compromised in the minds of those who look up to those celebrities. Similarly, people look to our goverment and our laws as means of ascertaining correct behavior. This is why, for example, nobody here is suggesting that an incestuous marriage be allowed. CLS, I am curious as to what you think of Wallis’ ministry, insofar as it is devoted (supposedly) to using Christ’s teachings to instruct the formation of policy.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:00 pm


Dear Kevin s, It ain’t just Will who “make[s] the … assumption that equality for gays and lesbians necessarily entails the right to marry each other. It has been argued persuasively that it does not.” I’ve never heard any such ‘persuasive’ argument. Equal is equal. It says “ALL men (and presumably women too) are created EQUAL”, not ‘all, except the queers, naturally’. “Further, the Bible simply does not allow it.” Wrong again. Maybe YOUR ‘interpretation’ of the Bible (or at least what we have left of it) doesn’t allow it, but MY faith teaches otherwise. Tell me why YOUR faith’s tenets should get to trump MINE. “If Christianity is to affect our political outlook, how can we simply toss biblical principles aside on this issue?” Because discrimination is NOT a “biblical principle”. “Shall we pick and choose” Hon’, you ALREADY DO. Surely you don’t put disobedient children to death, do you? Do you deny communion to the disbled? do you stone the victims of incest? No? Why, the Bible says you should do all of these things and worse. So cleary you DO pick and choose. “Of course you can argue that the Bible allows for gay marriage.” Thank you. Many faiths do. “But surely one could come to the conclusion that it does not without being a bigot?” The name “bigot” is reserved for those who compare our loving, committed, consenting adult relationships to beastiality, necrophilia, cannibalism, etc. It is reserved for those who would deny us equality before the law. How your Church deals with God’s gay and lesbian children ought to be limited to your Church, not secular laws governingn all people, including those who are not members of your particular faith.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:02 pm


What tiparillo points out as of value to society is not inherent in male on male or female on female sexual activities. Any and all citizens may perform these civilly beneficial activities. The question is how does society benefit from male on male or female on female sexual relationships? The activities tiparillo cites are inherent in being a responsible human and do not in and of themselves demonstrate a right to marriage.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:02 pm


To all, I understand that some are hurt by the nature of discourse here. But so are many LGBTQ people about the prejudice that is seen here too. I am more concerned about that community than I am about my conservative brothers and sisters views on the subject. Jesus always stood up for the outcast more than standing up for the condemning aspect of the law. He was far angrier w/ people that thought they were righteous by their deeds than the broken sinners that were sometimes thrown at his feet. Some conservatives get that backward and that’s the problem. If love is what we say it is and it is then we really need more love, more grace more life for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I have heard so many Christians talk about how much an abomination homosexual acts are while they never mention a word about the fact that God considers all sin an abomination. as for abortion there is more we can do as a people for treatment and prevention than having inflamatory posters and people pronouncing judgment as if these so called modern prophets have any idea about what they are doing. Here are some ideas for folks that want to do more than give lip service. Offer healing thru the Holy Spirit and prayer for men and women that have had one. Remind them that they are not condemned. Forgive them if you have hatred in your heart for one’s like that. Try adopting a kid when you get older and more financially stable, (preferably someone from a poorer background.) Love them that’s all we can do. Pray for the psychos that wish to kill doctors and cause harm. Pray for the ones that seek to harass and treat these women as less than nothing because they murdered their offspring. Jesus commands us to love prisoners and murderers. Its a fact so maybe we can agree on that. p>



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William Blakey

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:03 pm


I believe that people who are gay, like everyone else, should be treated with dignity. However, the gay political lobby has framed the discussion of gay rights as being a civil rights issues (like being African-American). That has very large implications in regards to the practice of religious freedom in this country. In addition, in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, there is a concerted effort to teach even second grade students that gay relationships are fine. The consequences of legalization of gay marriage are much more far reaching than are typically discussed.>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:06 pm


Legislating an end to abortion or attempting to legislate against the joining of two people (male or female) in sanctioned, monogamous union promises to overwhelm our already overstressed and capricious judicial system, not to mention that legal sanctions are simply a band-aid. We have become a nation impassioned more with faith in law and less with the faith of Jesus. When any actions are assuaged through the force of law, an inevitable outcome is the loss of choice. Actions being abated as a response to God’s movement in one’s life no longer affords that pregnant pause between stimulus and response where God’s grace lives and advises. We acquiesce to civil authority, but for the wrong reasons. As choice is eliminated from our lives through legal sanction, conversely, moral ambiguity is promoted. The great responsibility of the Church is to affect choice through transformation of thought and action through a living relationship with God. That we continue to attempt to solve the world’s woes primarily through over-reliance on legal means shows how ineffective we “believers” have been in affecting choice and showing God’s transformative power to our world. We Christians of all stripes need to be more about living what we profess. It’s high time that we walk the talk. We simply have not been able to make that choice.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:08 pm


I said male on male and female on female sexual relationships provide nothing of value to society. I did not speak of the contributions of individual homosexuals. The discussion I was entering into was about recognizing male on male and female on female sexual relationships as meriting the same recognition as male on female sexual relationships. I see nothing special about male on male or female on female sexual relationships that would merit them being treated the same as male on femal sexual relationships. I welcome enlightenment on this subject.>



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Will

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:12 pm


I attended college with the children of gay and lesbian Christian parents. They were as wonderful, smart, moral and gifted as any young person with straight parents. Of course people of all ages should be taught the golden rule — to love one’s neighbor as one self, right? Mr. Blakey you would agree with this wouldn’t you? Jesus didn’t say you should not love your gay neighbor as yourself, or you shouldn’t love your gay neighbors child as yourself, right?>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:13 pm


Will, For the record, Eddie did not say that sexual minorities are of no value to society, but rather that their relationships are not of value. There is a difference. Having seen the pain that these relationships create, I have to agree with him (though his argument certainly lacks a measure of nuance). That doesn’t mean that I dislike or disrespect homosexuals. A number of people have chimed in to say something along the lines of “of course Graham isn’t getting media attention for serving Katrina victims. Christians aren’t supposed to get attention for good deeds.” Well, yes an no. Yes, Franklin Graham should not be doing this to garner accolades for himself. However, surely God ought to be glorified by the deeds of Christians, which are being overlooked by the media in favor of more sensational issues. Either way, Reed’s point was that, by opting to cover one story, and not the other, the media helps create the “God, guns and gays” strawman. Of course, as with most stereotypes, there is some truth to it. Some Christians do devote inordinate effort to advocating on behalf of certain issues. It is disingenuous, however, to pretend that these issues accurately represent Christian conservative thought in its entirety.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:19 pm


dave paisley, Will’s definition is correct: “irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group is the definition of bigot”. Your question, “how do you defend your stereotyping of the religious right, and with it your irrational suspicion and hatred of it?” is unjustified. Everything will said the RRR do, they DO do. It is NOT stereotyping; it is the truth. Sorry you disagree. I have personally experienced the marginalization he speaks of. I also know many, many others who have, and all of it came from people professing their “christianity”.>



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ugo

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:20 pm


States across the nation are filled with foster homes filled with foster kids waiting to be adopted by those “pro-life” proponents that insisted upon their birth. Please don’t trample each other in your haste to sign up.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:25 pm


So Ugo, are you are better dead than in a foster home?>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:32 pm


Ugo’s short message puts the matter in real terms doesn’t it? We Christians are great at speeding down the road to Emmaus, but the rubber rarely meets the road.>



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Grendel's Mom

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:33 pm


When you say that homosexual relationships contribute nothing of value to society, do you mean children? If so, I guess heterosexual couples who cannot or choose not to have children also contribute nothing of value to society.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:34 pm


Ugo, I have known a number of couples who have had to adopt from abroad in order to get a child, thanks to the bureaucratic nightmare that is adoption policy in the United States. I agree with Wallis that we must push for adoption reform. Perhaps any law that prohibits abortion could be accompanied by adoption reform, as well as substantial tax credits for those who wish to adopt?>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:38 pm


richard masur, I respectfuly disagree… “The people I know who advocate equal marriage rights for gays do so only within a civil context.” Then maybe you should get to know a few more people who advocate for equal rights for gays. I am a gay Christian who was married in my Church by way of the Publication of the Banns, the exact same way that all 3 of my (very) heterosexual sisters married in their Churches. We did not get a marriage license, nor was it needed. We DO seek equal State recognition of all heterosexual faith-based marriages. “The faith-based argument, pro or con, is irrelevant to them.” Not at all. My faith is very important to me. According to religioustolerance.org, between 6 and 7 out of 10 gay people are involved in a faith denomination. “Gays don’t wish that their clergymen certify or sanctify their marriage/union.” SOME of us very clearly DO wish just that. What we do NOT wish (contrary to the lies of the RRR) is for OTHER faiths to be forced to perform same-sex marriages if that is contrary to their tenets. None ARE being forced to; none are even beig asked to. “They just wish that the state grant them what everyone else has.” Finally I can agree wholeheartedly. And a big AMEN to that, say I.>



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justintime

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:47 pm


I’ve heard enough chatter about the two right wing Conservative Christian wedge issues – abortion and gay marriage. These are just distractions away from the heartless core of the Christian Conservative movement. Ralph Reed also brings up poverty as an issue that divides Conservative Christians from religious progressives. It seems to me the Conservative Christian position parallels the Libertarian position that the poor in our society deserve to be poor and that if they would only turn to Christ they could lift themselves out of poverty. This is the basis of the Conservative Christian / Libertarian political coalition that brought us the corrupt Bush administration In reality, the funding given to “faith based” poverty programs by the Bush administration is dwarfed by the funding cuts in social programs made by the Bush administration. No wonder John D’Iulio resigned from his position heading up the Bush “faith based” program. Are these “faith based” programs making any progress in alleviating poverty in America? I don’t think so. To me it’s just a cop out from the real teachings of Christ. Tell me how this Conservative Christian / Bush administration “faith based” poverty program squares with Christian values, Ralph. And after you explain this, Ralph, please explain why Conservative Christians are stacking our Judicial System with right wing stooges of the corrupt Bush administration. .>



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Daniel

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:48 pm


I am deeply troubled by the Christian Coalition’s goal of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Jim Wallis has detailed at length how those cuts are immoral (especially the one that came on the back of getting rid of child credits for the poorest families). As far as I can tell, Jesus was no supply-sider. Matthew 25:31-46 lays out the criteria fairly clearly. As we do unto the least of these we do unto Jesus. Who are the least of these? The hungry, the thirsty, those who lack clthing, the sick – the poor and the downtrodden. What, then, does supporting these tax cuts do unto God? Jesus wept, indeed.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:48 pm


kevin s, “few politicians, on either side of the aisle, believe that gay marriage should be legal” – Um, that would be because a politician’s job is to get VOTES, not to support what is just. “Can you cite a correllation between ballot initiatives and a statistical rise in crimes against homosexuals? Everything I have seen shows that this sort of violence is decreasing, not increasing.” You ignore that discriminatory ballot initiatives are violent in and of themselves. Spiritually violent (to me, personally), and politically violent – in that they exclude an identified segment of the population from the protections of the Constitution, from the “guarantee’ that ALL men (and presumably women, too) are created EQUAL. It doesn’t say, ‘all, except the queers, naturally’, now does it? (At least not yet, thank God.) “Again, you may argue that the Bible does not teach that homosexuality is wrong” – And many faiths argue exactly that. “but you are left to contend with a text that lumps homosexuality in with adultery and murder” – You forgot cannabalism, polygamy, necrophilia, pronography, child rape, etc. Ever hear of a concept called “harm”? We are also left with ‘texts’ that lump (what you perceive as homosexuality) with eating shrimp – BOTH are called an “abomination”, after all. “If you agree that our laws should reflect Christian values” That’s a pretty big “if”. “then surely you can understand why those who believe the Bible condemns the practice of homosexuality would want laws that forbid the same.” The Bible says we should put disobedient children to deat. It says we should stone the victims of incest. It says we should deny communion to the disabled. ‘Surely YOU can understand why those who believe the Bible in its literal entirety would want laws that forbid he same.’ Can’t you? “Would a ballot initiative forbidding the marriage of a brother and sister be unloving?” – Ever hear of aconcept of ‘consanguinity’??? Why do so-called “christians’ make these hateful comparisons anyway? What is in any way “loving” about it? Such a lack of charity is appalling. No wonder people who say such things get called bigots.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:49 pm


It’s interesting to witness self-professed “Christians” claiming their moral superiority when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. My sexuality is not yours to judge. It is my right, as an American citizen, to be treated equally and fairly by the law. Denying me the right to marry the person I choose, WITHOUT A RATIONAL ARGUMENT to support such discrimination, is unconstitutional. If it were constituionally sound to deny me the right to marry my partner, there would be no reason to amend the US Constitution or the constitutions of the states. As it is, those who would thwart my rights by changing the rules that govern all of us, to deny one group of people a right enjoyed by everyone else, is nothing more than prejudice and discrimination in its highest form. What’s next? Shall we amend the constitutions to deny non-Christians their freedom of speech? There is no difference in that and denying gay couples the right to marriage. I am married. I am married in MY heart. I am married in the eyes of MY church. I am married in the eyes of MY God. Denying my marriage legal recognition changes NONE of these things. MY inalienable right to marry who I choose cannot be soiled by the irrelevant ramblings of a bunch of self-professed “Christians”. Denying my marriage legal recognition only serves to deny me the same legal priveleges, benefits, responsibilities, and rights that these self-professed “Christians” enjoy. It has no other purpose. It has no other effect whatsoever, except to punish me and my partner…it has no other ramification except to continue the denigration and demonization of our relationship…and our love. Our love will survive. It is your prejudice and your bigotry that is doomed.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:50 pm


That’s another thing I don’t really understand how gay marriage hurts the institution. I wonder if folks really think the institution is so weak? Well it obviously is especially when one looks in the church. But that’s a whole other comment. The institution is flawed in this country, in this church and in us. If we are going to talk about the institution then we really need to address both the strengths and weaknesses of it. Also since when is discrimination ok? I remember that interracial marriage was illegal not too long ago citing a poor interpretation of scriptures as justification. What’s the difference now w/ the LGBTQ community? p>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:55 pm


Jeffery Hendricks, “He has said in His Word that homosexuality is an abomination which goes one step beyond a sin.” Taht’s a stretch. First of all, the word “homosexuality” was only coied a bit more than a hundred years ago. What we understand of it is NOT what is addressed in Scriptures. Homosexual lust, homosexual rape and homosexual temple prostitution are what is condemned, not the loving, committed, consenting, adult relationships we are discussing. As for “abomination”, Scripture calls the eating of shrimp an “abomination” too. “Besides what the liberal, gay propagandists would have you believe God can deliver homosexuals from their sin and He has.” I disagree. Firstly that being gay is a “sin”, and secondly that there has been one documented case of successful ‘conversion’ to a heterosexual lifestyle (that is, one replete with actual heterosexual sex and NO homosexual sex). “I believe that such behavior would send those people to Hell” Thanks for reducing me to mere “behaviours”. (That’s pretty typical of the RRR, though.) I am a person, fully human and a child of the ever living God Who created me JUST AS I AM.>



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Katie

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:58 pm


Kevin S. said: “All kidding aside, Ralph Reed is a pretty sharp cookie. Jim Wallis is a very (very) disciplined talking points guy, so I wonder if Ralph can nudge him off of that a bit.” I’d like to comment on Wallis’ very (very) disciplined talking points. I often read Wallis stating something along the lines of “conservatives are only about the wedge issues of abortion and gay marriage and we (progressive evangelical Christians) are more about social justice issues of poverty and …” I think this is a bit of a cop-out so that Wallis can avoid talking too much about divisive things like gay marriage and other issues of justice for the lgbtq community. I wonder if Wallis avoids this because he is afraid that if he was too clear on his thoughts, he might find he has alienated half of his constituency? Instead, by remaining largely silent and avoiding clarity, he allows all parts of his constituency to assume he is in line with them. The more liberal see him as “progressive” and therefore can assume he is for justice for lgbts while to the less liberal he is “evangelical” and therefore can assume he thinks gay marriage is immoral. By being both “progressive” and “evangelical” he can be all things to all people and while taking a weak stand either way and keeping the support of all. Is this a position of leadership and integrity? I wonder if it is possible for us to have a clear, engaging and respectful discussion on lgbt issues while still working together on other important issues like peace, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and other issues that are important to us all even when we don’t agree on homosexuality. I’d love to have some more clarity from such a leader as Wallis rather than just talking points that avoid uncomfortable subjects. Maybe I’m reading this all wrong and I’d be happy to engage that too. (And to be clear, I am queer and feel rather strongly that homosexuality is morally neutral and the lgbt community should have equal rights in society and in the church)>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:58 pm


I remember that interracial marriage was illegal not too long ago citing a poor interpretation of scriptures as justification. What’s the difference now w/ the LGBTQ community? There is no difference. It’s the same irrational faith-based hate, prejudice, and bigotry that has existed throughout history. I often wonder how peaceful the world would be if religion never existed to begin with…I imagine that heaven is exactly such a place.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:01 pm


Well, to say my comparison between gay marriage and incestuous marriage is hateful (btw: it clearly isn’t, in this context) does not answer the question. The dialogue here has really gone off the rails.>



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Sean H

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:04 pm


MNW, I ask you, following your logic, is it permissible for the state to prohibit adult incestuous marriages or polygamous marriage. Those who support SSM often call red herring when this question is raised but it is not. If the principle is that there can be no moral component to the definition of marriage onlt “rational” bases, the principle applies equally to these cases. Moreover, in world history, both of these types of marriages have been far more acceptable than homosexual marriage. If society has no “right” to make this distinction in the case of SSM, why does it have it in these other cases?>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:04 pm


Katie, Excellent statement.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:07 pm


Similarly, people look to our goverment and our laws as means of ascertaining correct behavior. If that were true then what purpose does religion serve? I know of no one that looks to government and our laws to ascertain what is and is not “correct” behavior. Are you claiming then, as a “Christian”, that capital punishment (aka murder) is “correct” behavior?>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:09 pm


The real issue that seems to be at the root of these discussions, is that some folks (RRR?) believe the Bible to be the inerrant, literal word of God, and justify all their illogic and bigotry by leaning on that lame belief. They seem to worship the Bible instead of the One who the Bible reveals. God continues to be revealed in many other ways. The Bible is full of wisdom and has much to teach, but to try to act in strict accordance with a strict and regimented legalistic interpretation of it, is one of the most insidious forms of idolatry. God did not create us as mindless robots.>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:12 pm


“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” – Martin Luther King Jr.>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:13 pm


Sean H.: Can you please point me to some evidence that siblings are demanding marriage rights? There are valid medical reasons why incest is not legally sanctioned… and I think you know that. As far as polygamy goes, I honestly don’t have a big problem with it from a libertarian perspective… as long as all parties are consenting adults and polygamy is not being used as an excuse for child molestation as in some polygamy cults. (I believe there are plenty of examples of polygamous families in the Bible and I don’t remember them being condemned.)However, when you start talking about the “State” sanctioning polygamous families, you actually do start getting into a legal mess about how to not grant extra tax advantages to polygamous families as the number of spouses increases. Hope that answers your question. And by the way, yes, this is a red herring.>



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Anonymous

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:15 pm


Sean H., I ask you, following your logic, is it permissible for the state to prohibit adult incestuous marriages or polygamous marriage. Adult incestuous marriages, polygamous marriages, and same-sex marriages are ALL distinct and unique from each other. The legality/constitutionality of each must be determined separately from each other. Do you think justice is served by lumping all of these together as “the same”? Those who support SSM often call red herring when this question is raised but it is not. If the principle is that there can be no moral component to the definition of marriage onlt “rational” bases, the principle applies equally to these cases. Moreover, in world history, both of these types of marriages have been far more acceptable than homosexual marriage. If society has no “right” to make this distinction in the case of SSM, why does it have it in these other cases? There is a rational basis to deny legal recognition of incestuous marriages and polygamous marriages…and the rationality for each is separate and distinct. If you’re unable to recognzie that distinction, then I suggest you study the cases brought before the courts that deal with these types of marriages. I am not concerned about them. If you’d like to offer a rational argument for denying my marriage legal recognition, then please provide it. I am not here to discuss the morality or immorality of any marriage. Morality is not a component of laws that govern a secular society.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:18 pm


FWIW – That last “anonymous” post was by me, Sean H.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:21 pm


Society sanctions heterosexual marriage because of the unique importance (perpetuating society) of the male/femal sexual relationship to society. No other human relationship has that unique importance. To pretend, that there are other relationships that have such uniqueness denies reality. We do not need to fashion our civil laws on premises that deny reality.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:23 pm


Kevink, If the Bible isn’t the literal word of God, then why believe any of it? Do others believe, as Kevin does, that the Bible is a nice book of wisdom, but does not contain the absolute truth? Is that what Sojourners believes? I’m genuinely curious.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:27 pm


Society sanctions heterosexual marriage because of the unique importance (perpetuating society) of the male/femal sexual relationship to society. The legal institution of marriage is not, and was not, created to “sanction” a heterosexual couple’s ability to breed. Legal marriage finds it’s roots in the transferance of property…the woman being the property of men…and the said property being transferred from father to groom. The father gives the bride to the groom…and originally, marriage, was a legal contract that transferred the property (the woman) from one man to another.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:29 pm


Additionally, Eddie, the ability to breed is not a requirement of marriage. Breeding is not a requirement of marriage. Marriage is not required to breed.>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:30 pm


Kevin S. Yes… I also believe that the Bible was actually written by man, not a divine being. It has also been reinterpretted over and over again, over hundreds of years. I also believe it (at least in part) was inspired by God. It is not a divine rule book to be used as a tool for judgement and condemnation… in fact, Christ specifically talked against that. God gave us a brain and the gift of common sense and I think we should use it to at least look at the context of when the various scriptures were written, by whom, and the politics of the time in which they were written. I’m curious, if you are a literalist?>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:32 pm


Truth is distinctly different than fact. As a wise man once stated, “The Bible is full of truth…and some it happened.” Your question, “If the Bible isn’t the literal word of God, then why believe any of it?”, is a common one. For us as Christians, the truth is revealed in the person of Christ and in my view was never intended to be the beginning and end of the discussion. God continues to be revealed through his Creation…including through other faiths. Radically heretical, huh?>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:34 pm


God gave us a brain and the gift of common sense and I think we should use it to at least look at the context of when the various scriptures were written, by whom, and the politics of the time in which they were written. Right on. The bible is a book. It was written by men to convey their understanding to other men. Period. It was no more God-inspired than me conveying what I know to you, right here, right now.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:35 pm


MNW, Not all cultures consider or considered women property. I disagree with you when you say that marriage came about as a means of transferring property. However, if you have facts to support that position, I am willing to review them. At least you recognize the unique importance of the male/female relationship to society.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:37 pm


MNW, Your saying the Bible is not inspired by God is your belief. Perhaps you could give us some reasons why your beliefs should be agreed to over the beliefs of others.>



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Will

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:42 pm


As an evangelical progressive and a strong supporter of glbtq equality I do not need Jim Wallis to speak up for gay marriage or civil unions if he or they do not feel called to do so at this time. I appreciate what Jim Wallis and Sojourners are already doing to broaden and deepen the public conversation about faith and politics. There are numerous organizations out there for Christians and others of faith who support glbt rights. However, Jim & Sojourners may wish to invite someone like Mel White (of Soulforce) or James Allison (a Catholic gay activist) to be a guest on the God’s Politics blog. Too many gay and lesbian people particularly in rural America are victims of the Religious Right’s divisive rhetoric. We need leaders who can draw us together for the common good. The Religious Right spends much more time seeking to divide American families and communities over same-sex marriage than bring us together to end war and poverty. I am so grateful for Jim Wallis and Sojourners, and others like Rabbi Michael Lerner and Sister Joan Chittister for speaking up for progressive people of faith.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:43 pm


The Bible is not absolute truth. It is a continuing revelation of God captured in 5,000 years of myth, history, allegory, and love. Worshipping it w/o living the Christ (you notice I did not say Christian)creates the same stumbling blocks that tripped up Israel. Is that what you want? Do any of you wish to fall before the law and be judged accordingly or do you want grace? Which is it? Absolute truth is Christ who is alluded to and known in part thru the bible. The bible comes alive in us thru union with the Holy Spirit. I realize that could scare most fundamentalists. But the Holy Spirit is here now and that was one of the major reasons Christ came to earth. He came to give the church the spirit of God and to unite us w/ him after we were redeemed. Our enemies are not the LGBTQ community. Our enemy is the self and its sinful brutal self righteousness that lives in the church. It’s the hypocrisy that plagues the church. It’s our inability to trust God’s love. That’s what we fight against. These spiritual enemies are heavenly in nature and unless we really marshall our resources in first freeing ourselves from the destruction plaguing this world we will never free anyone from the self destructive tendencies that plague us all. We must focus on that and erradicating hate, self righteousness, and fear if we have any relevance in this world. p>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:43 pm


IMO, God is all about relationship…in all its various permutations. I believe that the fact of relationship supersedes its form. During a discussion with fellow Christian a few years ago, this person observed that “where there is relationship there is grace, where there is no relationship there is judgment.” I began to measure my ways of relating of people through the lens of that statement and it has changed my life. God’s grace is truly amazing!>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:43 pm


KevinK, By definition, yes, that is heretical. Your statement is sufficiently vague that I don’t know where you stand, exactly, but if you explore the scriptures, you might find there is more truth than you think. Splinter, By your definition, I am indeed a literalist. How can we know Christ specifically spoke against condemnation, if we have no idea what he said?>



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Jim H

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:44 pm


Might as well put my “alignment” up front before I get to my main point: I am a gay Roman Catholic man from a very devout RC family. I go each week to Mass at my church. It has been a long, painful struggle for me to reconcile my Catholicism with my homosexuality. I really believe that most Biblical proscriptions against homosexuality come from a cultural context radically different from our own today and will eventually be commonly understood having the same merit as proscriptions against pork and shellfish. I have at last found peace in the realization that the Catholic church is my spiritual home and family, and I’m not going to leave. Rather, I hope my presence and willingness to “be known” will, by God’s grace, lead to a change in attitudes. I say all of that just so that people know where I am coming from. Here’s what I want to say: As I have read the dialog here, I’m really struck by the pain, anger and hostility being communicated here. I think many of us (I’m including myself in “us”) feel as though our beliefs and values are belittled and ridiculed in a hostile society, and the “other side” is out to “get us”. It is interesting, if you think about it, that BOTH sides of the divide are feeling this way. How do we get past this? Can we respect that different people believe differently, often in harsh disagreement with our beliefs, or is that an accomodation that we cannot make without compromising what we believe? THAT seems to be the subject we need to engage upon.>



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cs

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:46 pm


C & C, You are fairly consistent about referring to the Constitution and equality as a basis for same-sex marriage. As the Constitution has provided the framework for our nations laws for about 2 centuries now, and same-sex marriage is only now becoming an issue (not any state-recognized same-sex marriages I’m aware of from 1800-1990), is it your contention that our govt. has misinterpreted the Constitution on this issue throughout our nation’s history?>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:48 pm


Payshun, I appreciate your viewpoint…from the heart and full of grace. Thx>



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LMS

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:50 pm


I see some folks here distressed by the level of dialogue — actually I think you all are to be commended for keeping the level of vitriole down.>



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justintime

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:52 pm


I’m with KevinK. I think of the Bible as a book of wisdom, containing much that is absolutely true for all time. But it also contains a lot of information relevant to a Bronze Age civilization and irrelevant for the here and the now. To treat the entire Bible as the literal word of God can lead one into some very absurd positions. Following contemporary spiritual leaders and their “literal” interpretations of the Bible, without questioning, can lead one toward destructive cultic behavior. Worshipping the Bible as the literal word of God, as KevinK points out, is a form of idolatry. .>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:56 pm


Jim H, Your conclusion gets right to the crux of the matter. I believe that if we take our cue from our Christian namesake, the answer would have to be that we can be reconciled, even in our differences. That being said, this can only be achieved through some level of respect and understanding. However, where intellectual laziness, or intractability prevail, we will likely remain on this long and winding road. I would be curious as to your thoughts on this?>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:57 pm


Kevin S: “By your definition, I am indeed a literalist. How can we know Christ specifically spoke against condemnation, if we have no idea what he said?” I never said we have no idea what He said. I think, through the various scriptures we’ve received from those that walked with Christ, we have a pretty good idea of what He is trying to teach us. There are parts of the Bible that resonate with me and I truly feel that this is Christ working through me. This does not mean that I need to take every work of the Bible literally… at least in my opinion. If this were true, then you should be working to bring back the death penalty for homosexuals (as you seem to define the term) as this was the punishment literally given to us in the Bible. On a somewhat related note, I also find it interesting that the typical American literalist has no problem condemning gay people based on *letters* written by Paul to the Romans, but then usually does a fancy dance around Christ’s words about how the rich man has as much chance of getting into heaven as a camel fitting through the eye of a needle. Just curious, how do you interpret Matt19:24? Is this a literal directive from Christ, or have you chosen to interpret this as a proverb with a more vague meaning on exactly what “rich” means?>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:00 pm


Not all cultures consider or considered women property. We aren’t discussing “all cultures”, are we? I disagree with you when you say that marriage came about as a means of transferring property. Disagree all you want, but, like most, it’s obvious you’ve done very little research on the subject and choose instead to base your understanding on your “beliefs” about the topic instead of reality and historical fact. However, if you have facts to support that position, I am willing to review them. If you have facts to support your position, please provide them…as I have not found anything in my research to support what you claim. The only thing remotely similar would be the transferance of property to heirs…joining two different families together through marriage and thus creating a line of inheritance for the purpose of transferring property upon one’s death. At least you recognize the unique importance of the male/female relationship to society. The “uniqueness” of the male/female relationship in society does not grant that it deserve “special” recognition in our laws. The unique importance of finding someone to share one’s life with is worthy of such “special” recognition in our laws…especially given that the marriage laws deal SPECIFICALLY with THAT particular uniqueness and not the ability to breed.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:05 pm


Your saying the Bible is not inspired by God is your belief. I never said the Bible is not inspired by God. I said the Bible is no more inspired by God than me writing to you right here right now. Do you believe God is capable of inspiring ALL of us? Did God inspire you to misinterpret what I wrote? Perhaps you could give us some reasons why your beliefs should be agreed to over the beliefs of others. I really don’t care if you “agree” to my beliefs or not. They’re my beliefs, not yours. Why is it so important that people agree with your beliefs? Is your faith in your beliefs so weak that you need others to agree to them in order to feel strongly about them?>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:09 pm


MNW, What is uniquely important about finding someone with whom to share one’s life? Why consider finding someone with whom to share one’s life important at all? It seems to me that it is easier to find someone with whom to share my life than just about anything else I do. It is almost unavoidable. Raising something almost unavoidable to the level of continuing society seems irrational.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:13 pm


Kevin Youre welcome. That comment means a lot. I guess I wanted to briefly talk about reconciliation and how we do it. If we are going to follow the gospel (and yes that includes reconciliation actually this is the gospel, the gospel is that man and God are one and man must love its fellow man.) then we must first and foremost confess our sins. Then the grace of forgiveness must come. Then after that we can begin a dialogue on these really controversial and complex issues. Many come here hurt and shunned by their Christian brothers and sisters. I don’t blame them for that. The fact is many of you conservative folks have done little to be gracious to any in the LGBTQ community. How many of you have any friends that are gay? How many have heard their pain and prayed for their deliverance from it? I have and continue to. That doesn’t make me righteous and neither would I claim that any love i show could do that. I am free from the idea that my righteousness comes from action. My rightousness comes from faith. The problem plaguing so many conservatives is that they have combined belief in faith and action when that cannot be. Faith and Action are one but they separated them and put them next to each other. Then they (those that chose to forgo love) tossed out the sacrificial love it takes to really step into the pain and life of another person. That way that way of separating them and claiming righteousness by deed is the way of death. Jesus made this clear. The law was sent to make us stumble grace is sent to show that we don’t have to stumble any more. The Law is a live in all of us its how we are judged. Christ came and delivered all of us from that. Then he united us to the spirit so that we can live out of love instead of our limited human righteousness. So I will go first. I confess that I have not been as loving as I could be. I don’t respect your views on righteousness by deeds. I am not sure if God does either but I need to see that you are coming from a place of faith even though I don’t agree. SO what about you is there anything you can confess to, to bring the reconcilation Jim and others are so desperately trying to pursue? p>



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Jim H

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:19 pm


Wow – Payshun and KevinK, really powerful posts! They tie up so nicely many ideas I have in my head. Intractability and intellectual laziness as obstacles — yes! Both have their root in self-centeredness I think, which gets back to Payshun’s post and the struggle with self being THE struggle. The spirituality of 12-step programs, IMHO, eloquently reaches the same place.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:19 pm


MNW, I did misinterpret what you wrote, my mistake and I am sorry, but it was not intentional. So, you believe your writing is inspired by God just as much as the writers of the Bible were inspired by God. I believe differently. It is not important that others agree with my beliefs because they are my beliefs. It is important that everyone try to use right reason when forming beliefs. However, you espouse your beliefs as though they should have significance to others. Perhaps I misinterpreted you on this point also. Do you espouse your beliefs to influence others, or maybe out of sheer exhuberance, or maybe out of rage? I do not know. But I figured you had some reason for espousing them to readers. Also, since you have espoused your beliefs I thought maybe you had reasons why you believed as you do.>



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ugo

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:20 pm


The topics jump back and forth pretty quickly, don’t they? Bart Erhman has a pretty good book out, “Misquoting Jesus” that makes it pretty hard to ignore how much of an amalgamation the Bible is. It is hard to take it literally after reading his points, ie., scribal error, predominant illiteracy in ancient times, personal agendas, etc. And to Eddie, I think many unwanted children would have been better off unborn than to be conscribed to the lives that brought them into foster care, not even considering whether or not the subsequent foster care is abusive or not.>



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jello5929

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:24 pm


I’m still looking for the part where Jesus tells us to go out and torture our fellow man…>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:28 pm


jello: good point. It’s easy to talk about polarizing issues like gay marriage, but I think Americans are facing a much bigger issue with the current Administration’s embrace of what amounts to torture. Call it “coercive interigation methods” if you like, but submerging a person in icewater, making them think they are drowning, or putting them in “restraint positions” for days at a time IS torture. It literally makes me sick to my stomach to think that America would abandon its principals for a false sense of security. This, in my opinion, is the highest form of cowardice.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:29 pm


What is uniquely important about finding someone with whom to share one’s life? Why consider finding someone with whom to share one’s life important at all? I think you need to think about what you’re asking within the framework, the context, in which we are discussing…LEGAL marriage. Are you willing to just let anyone make medical decisions for you in the event you are incapacitated? Are you willing to just let anyone determine what happens to your remains upon your demise? I think what you need to really focus on is what, SPECIFICALLY, are the individual rights, priveleges, benefits, and responsibilities that CIVIL marriage laws confer. I don’t think you’re thinking about it in that way. There are NO civil marriage laws that confer anything for a couple that breeds their children, as opposed to a couple that adopts their children. A breeding couple does not get ANYTHING different from what an adoptive couple gets from the laws of marriage. Why should a heterosexual couple that adopts children receive special recognition (via marriage laws) that a gay couple that adopts children doesn’t get? If the laws are meant to somehow “protect” children or serve the “breeding” of children, then why wouldn’t an adoptive gay couple or even a GAY COUPLE THAT DECIDES TO BREED receive the same legal recognition? It seems to me that it is easier to find someone with whom to share my life than just about anything else I do. It is almost unavoidable. It’s “almost unavoidable” to find someone to share the rest of your life with? Do you really think that you represent the “norm”? If it’s so easy to find a “mate”, then how do you explain all of the “services” that now exist that exist solely for the purpose of helping find a mate (i.e. match.com, eharmony.com, etc, etc, etc)? Raising something almost unavoidable to the level of continuing society seems irrational. If you haven’t noticed, continuing society (aka breeding) is pretty much unavoidable…but you believe raising something almost unavoidable is “irrational”. Ok…whatever.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:31 pm


Well, the term rich is inherently somewhat vague. What Christ means, I think, is that people are unwilling to part with their possessions to follow him. Therefore, the very wealthy are easily distracted. Here was a man who had the opportunity to walk with Jesus while he was alive, and he declined on account of his possessions. Would a poor person have had such a difficult time? Obviously not. It is an admonishment not to idolize riches. And, yes, many of our CEOs could learn that lesson.>



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Polaris

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:32 pm


Ralph Reed commenting on moral values ? You have got to be joking.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:36 pm


So, you believe your writing is inspired by God just as much as the writers of the Bible were inspired by God. How do you know I am not God? However, you espouse your beliefs as though they should have significance to others. Perhaps I misinterpreted you on this point also. Do you espouse your beliefs to influence others, or maybe out of sheer exhuberance, or maybe out of rage? I do not know. But I figured you had some reason for espousing them to readers. Also, since you have espoused your beliefs I thought maybe you had reasons why you believed as you do. What beliefs have I espoused?>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:36 pm


Ugo and others, you might find “Cynic Sage or Son of God?” by Gregory Boyd to be an interesting read. It discusses the life of Christ, and the truth of the gospels, in response to the so-called “quest for a historical Jesus”.>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:39 pm


Kevin S. – I guess my point is that I see a lot of self-proclaimed Right Wing Evangelical Christians, sitting in mega churches in oversized cushioned seats, watching the pastor on “jumbo-vision”, with a parking lot full of $50,000+ cars outside waiting… and these people seem to have an obsession with who I am physically and emotionally attracted to, and make a hobby out of making sure I do not acheive equal legal status within my State. These are the people that like to use the Bible as a tool for condemnation, and then ignore Christ’s very clear direction to, “sell your possesion…. Then come follow Me”>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:42 pm


MNW, I do not think finding a mate entitles someone to special benefits from society. I do not think finding someone who will bring you to sexual orgasm entitles someone to special benefits from society. I do think that the male/female sexual relationship should be recognized for what it is, that without which nothing else follows. That is the only reason I do not oppose the societal benefits granted to heterosexual marriages.>



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madmatt

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:42 pm


Why should anybody take ralphs words seriously when he has proven himself to be a craven, racist opportunist who was willing to sell out whatever principles he proclaimed to have for a lot more than 30 pieces of silver?>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:43 pm


“I’m still looking for the part where Jesus tells us to go out and torture our fellow man…jello5929″ While you’re looking, can you also look for the part where Jesus tells us to bomb our enemies and return evil with evil?>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:44 pm


These are the people that like to use the Bible as a tool for condemnation These are the same people that use religion to justify their prejudice, bigotry, and hate. They do not hold themselves accountable for anything they do…they simply blame their religion…and their religion provides them the “salvation” they require in order to be free of any culpability for their crimes. It’s convenient…but quite delusional.>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:44 pm


I guess it’s a good sign that there are not a lot of people jumping in to defend the President’s proposed torture policy. Any takers? Anyone?>



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rkrider

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:50 pm


Reed on Moral values? you’ve got to be kidding. Ralph only favors abortion when it’s forced – Cagle did not hesitate to exploit those details. One television ad from the Cagle campaign detailed Reed’s involvement with Abramoff’s efforts to prevent passage of federal legislation that would have extended labor-law protections to women and children working in garment factories in the Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the Pacific. “Reed worked with Abramoff to deny women and children legal protection from sweat shops in the Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory — even though our government warned that women on the Islands were subjected to forced abortions and children were coerced into prostitution,” the ad charged. As the words “Forced Abortions” and “Prostitution” flashed on the screen, and announcer declared: “Ralph Reed, his values are for sale.” Link>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:51 pm


I’m agnostic on the issue. I think most Americans seem to prefer a government that forbids torture, but covertly sends Jack Bauer types to do the deed for them. However, I am not convinced that certain methods (e.g. sleep deprivation) rise to the level of torture. These are enemy combatants, who just as easily could have been killed on the battlefield (as you might guess, I am not one who subsribes to Christian pacifism either). I think, by and large, our country avoids torture, and I am comfortable with the way we have conducted our interrogations. However, I do not support the actions of the soldiers involved in, for example, Abu Ghraib, where laws were clearly broken. Christ did not ask us to confine prisoners, no, but he also didn’t tell us to take prisoners.>



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dlw

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:53 pm


I hope that Wallis doesn’t simply repeat his talking points ad infinitum. I want some more attention given to the pragmatic prolife manifesto I mentioned earlier… I’m also a little concerned about what’s going to happen to those new minority homeowners when the housing bubble bursts… As for gay marriages, I make a distinction between God’s ideals and human laws that inevitably must accomodate human fallenness. My biggest problem with the religious right and Ralph Reed here is that they seem to conflate the two and miss the larger point that what is truly serious in our days is not whether gays can marry but the general drift towards the sort of neo-paganism that now predominates in much of Europe and parts of the US. dlw>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:54 pm


“These are enemy combatants, who just as easily could have been killed on the battlefield” Or just as easily could have been loved, as Jesus commanded.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:54 pm


I do not think finding a mate entitles someone to special benefits from society. I do not think finding someone who will bring you to sexual orgasm entitles someone to special benefits from society. I do think that the male/female sexual relationship should be recognized for what it is, that without which nothing else follows. That is the only reason I do not oppose the societal benefits granted to heterosexual marriages. You make absolutely no sense whatsoever. First you write: I do not think finding someone who will bring you to sexual orgasm entitles someone to special benefits from society. then you write: I do think that the male/female sexual relationship should be recognized for what it is, that without which nothing else follows. The male/female sexual relationship would be NOTHING…and NOTHING ELSE WOULD FOLLOW…if “sexual orgasm” didn’t occur!!!!!!!! Do you get that? First you argue that “sexual orgasm” “does not entitle someone to special recognition”…then you argue that breeding does entitle someone to special recognition. HELLLLLOOOOOOOOO!!!! How does one (particularly a male) breed without orgasm? With each post you leave it becomes more and more clear that you are biased towards a heterosexual relationship…to the point that it doesn’t matter to you that you make no sense in defending your position…and that should be your first clue that something isn’t right in your position.>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:56 pm


Kevin S. – So if America had (for example) a team of un-uniformed Special Ops types in say North Korea or China, taking recon photos for one of our security agencies, you would have no problem with those soldiers being subjected to those same “coercive interrogation techniques”? Do you know the Greatest Commandment Christ gave us?>



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ugo

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:56 pm


KevinS: I did read that book by Boyd. It was a good fundamentalist rebuttal to the progessive perspective of the historical Jesus, but not much than that. I think it was based too much on the subjective and too little on refuting facts. It was worth reading though.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:56 pm


what is truly serious in our days is not whether gays can marry but the general drift towards the sort of neo-paganism that now predominates in much of Europe and parts of the US. Truly serious? Why is that such a concern? Do you think being non-religious or non-Christian is a “serious” matter?>



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Annon

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:00 pm


Why is Ralph Reed speaking for Christians? How embarassing. The man is an Abramoff toadie. It is always amusing to see conservatives go to the media card when cornered though.>



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justintime

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:03 pm


Abortion and Gay marriage aside though, what about: PREEMPTIVE WAR? How did Conservative Christians allow this to happen? Does it have something to do with the Book of Revelation? Help us out with this, Ralph Reed. .>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:04 pm


MNW, I do have trouble following your thought process. I know you are not saying that sexual orgasm and procreation are the same thing. Are you saying that sexual orgasm deserves to be treated by society as more important than procreation? If that is the case, then those who masturbate should get all of the benefits of marriage. Interesting take on reality. Maybe it is not all my fault that I have trouble following your thought processes.>



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chadwig

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:06 pm


The Bible should be as irrelevant to discusions of policy issues in present day America as the story of Zeus. Rational thought and provable facts should rule the day, not fantastic notions of ancient events beyond the reach of real analysis and scrutiny. Any proclamation that starts with “Because the Bible says…”, should be ignored on the grounds of a faulty premise.>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:08 pm


Perhaps eddie can explain when “benefit to society” became the standard for deciding what is legal and what isn’t. I guess I was out sick that day.>



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kevin s.

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:09 pm


Splinter, In defense of the “jumbotron” churches, I would say they are trying to make the experience more comfortable for new people (who are predominantly suburban and well-off). My church meets in an elementary school in the city that it rents on weekends, so I can’t really relate. Of course, we’re all very rich in the larger sense, unless someone is posting on this blog from Papua New Guinea.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:10 pm


MNW, How does society benefit from males bringing each other to sexual orgasm?>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:12 pm


I don’t agree w/t idea that the bible should be ignored because it is an ancient book. Instead let’s look at the laws about sanctuary cities, creating resources for the poor, standing against racial, classist, sexist, homophobic division. The bible despite all its faults is a book about healing and transformation from human to divine. Why should we ignore that? I understand my beliefs are not universal. Neither should they be, this is the church but the way we love should be universal and that’s the point, I hope. p>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:12 pm


I do have trouble following your thought process. I know you are not saying that sexual orgasm and procreation are the same thing. Are you saying that sexual orgasm deserves to be treated by society as more important than procreation? If that is the case, then those who masturbate should get all of the benefits of marriage. Interesting take on reality. Maybe it is not all my fault that I have trouble following your thought processes. Eddie, It’s you who are arguing that orgasm, breeding, sperm meeting egg, etc deserve “special” recognition in our society. What I am telling you is that TODAY, RIGHT NOW, they DO NOT!!!!! Civil marriage has NOTHING to do with BREEDING…yet you keep arguing that it does. IT DOESN’T!!!!!!!!!!! Legal marriage is not a requirement for breeding. Unmarried women breed everyday. Breeding is not a requirement for legal marriage. Sterile women (or men) and post-menopausal women are allowed to legally marry. However, you keep trying to argue that legal marriage and breeding are somehow tied to each other. They aren’t…in any way.>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:17 pm


Kevin S. – Yes, American’s are relatively rich compared to most of the world. But I am not the one holding a literalist view of the Bible. What annoys me are the literalist that condemn others based on Paul’s letters to the Romans, but then turn around and reinterpret the words of Christ to fit their lifestyle. I find this incredibly hypocritical. I look at people like Mother Teresa or Ghandi as examples of how to truly live your faith. I’m not there yet by any means, but I know “Christ-like” when I see it… and I don’t see it in very many American evangelicals today.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:18 pm


How does society benefit from males bringing each other to sexual orgasm? How does society benefit from a post-menopausal woman being brought to orgasm by her husband? Is that all marriage is to you, Eddie? SEX? Marriage is only about the SEX to you, isn’t it, Eddie? Just like a gay couple is to you, right Eddie? Gay couples are all about the SEX, right Eddie?>



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justintime

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:24 pm


Ralph Reed seems to have succeeded in directing our thread away from examining the core values of Conservative Christians and Liberal Progressives. He has us hung up on right wing wedge issues. We’ve let him frame this discussion. No wonder Conservative Calvinistic Christians have been winning the elections. .>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:28 pm


Justintime: Only Kevin S. was willing to defend the torure policy. A couple have tried to move the conversation, but for whatever reason, gay sex seems to be what the RRR want to talk about. ;-)>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:29 pm


D4P, I think it is reasonable for society to provide benefits to and encourage activities that are beneficial to it. I see no reason to provide benefits to or encourage activities that are not beneficial to it.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:31 pm


Well I refuse. Let’s have a real discussion one that talks about us as people, not as labels even though I hang these labels high. I am a black, charasmatic, progressive mystic. Those labels are life to me so I will wear them proudly but I won’t waste time debating talking points. I want to talk about real issues. Like let’s get to the heart of why people are against gay marriage or abortion? Why don’t we hear conservatives arguing for healing for those that have had them? Why don’t we deal w/ our own baggage? Does the church value greed over compassion? Those are important issues that underline everything Ralph talked about. So let’s talk about those. p>



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Max Renn

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:32 pm


If you agree that our laws should reflect Christian values, then surely you can understand why those who believe the Bible condemns the practice of homosexuality would want laws that forbid the same. -kevin s. Well, I have no issue with people wanting their values to be expressed in their politics, but I do take issue that US law should ‘reflect Christian values’ when there is no unitary set of said values. These are not the same things, Kevin. One is a natual desire; the other is theocracy. You are guilty of conflation. P.S. Ralph’s a crook. P.P.S. “That is the only reason I do not oppose the societal benefits granted to heterosexual marriages.” Shouldn’t you insist that the couple produce children before receiving benefits, then? P.P.P.S. “Why Jim, what ever could you mean? We’re all just peace-loving, God-fearing salt-of the earth who would sell the plantation if it meant the black folk and the poor folk could have a better life. Why look at all of our charity. How could you make up such stories and lie about us so?” Idunno, it sure seems like there’s some misdirection in the works; meanwhile we in the peanut gallery seem to be hung up on–what is this?–those wedge issues. Will wonders never cease. Joel Wasinger | 09.19.06 – 2:16 am | # This is Reed’s whole schitck right here. I’ve seen him speak twice, and he does his whole history of Great Awakenings in America, City on a Hill dance, and oh my, I’m just a nice boy from Georgia. One question from the audience on Enron? Ohhh, ice cold snake eyes and a ‘no comment.’ Enjoy dancing with them that brung ya, wingnuts.>



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Susan Kitchens

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:32 pm


Ralph Reed said:

the central moral issues of the 1960’s were civil rights and Vietnam

And I propose that the moral issue for this time– this month, especially, is torture. What does Jesus say about waterboarding, Mr. Reed? And what do you think the values voter should do about it. That’s what I want to hear you talk about. Bring it on!>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:33 pm


eddie – I have no problem with you holding that opinion, but you seem to be advancing it as some kind of standard by which our society typically decides what is legal and what is not. In fact, I don’t think that’s the case at all. In my view, society (including many Christians) routinely condones (and even promotes) activities, behaviors, and “things” in general that are harmful. Unless you are going to apply your standard across the board, it doesn’t seem fair to apply it only to gay marriage.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:37 pm


Let me make this clear. Christian values are fluid and dumb. One hundred years ago I would have just gotten out of the south and I would probably be a sharecropper in forced labor. The idea that we need to legislate sexual practice between consenting adults is silly. 30 years ago I would have been hosed down by christians for standing up for voting and other rights. So again this notion that we are righteous thru our action is just silly. p>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:40 pm


Splinter, It is not a question of using coercive interrogation or not using coercive interrogation. A parent sending children to their rooms until someone admits breaking the vase is (in a very small way) using coercive interrogation. The techniques that are used to get information should be proportional to the importance of the information being sought. For example, I think interrogators may use much more coercive techniques on a master terrorist plotter who is plotting to kill thousands of innocent people than the interrogators can use on a criminal who is protecting the identity of an accomplice. It would be morally outrageous to not use extreme interrogation techniques (including waterboarding) to protect thousands of human lives. It would be equally morally outrageous for parents to use extreme interrogation techniques on their children when the children are reluctant to explain their negative actions. I may be mistaken but I think the language in question in the Geneva Convention is similar to “shall not inflict severe physical or mental pain” and something like “shock civilized mores”. I know those are paraphrases. I am doing this from having read something on it awhile back. When is pain inflicted that will save thousands of life too severe (I am not saying it cannot be too severe, I am asking you to say what you would consider too severe). Is waterboading shocking to civilized mores if it is saving thousands of lives? Or is it more shocking to civilized mores to let thousands of lives die because you would not use waterboarding? Also, torture as punishment is different from torture in interrogation. Also, some people believe being locked in a prison is torture. So you see, it is not as simple as saying I abhor torture.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:40 pm


I think it is reasonable for society to provide benefits to and encourage activities that are beneficial to it. I see no reason to provide benefits to or encourage activities that are not beneficial to it. So, Eddie, how do you define “beneficial”? Is a monogamous, committed, loving, stable relationship beneficial to society or not?>



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justintime

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:42 pm


This is all so new to me. How should this thread continue? Will Ralph Reed come back and address the issues that have been raised here? Will Jim Wallis come back with another great post in response to Ralph and the rest of us who have posted here? Or do we just keep talking about gay marriage indefinitely – without insulting each other? I would really like Ralph to come back and share his views on poverty, war and peace on earth. And maybe a little of his wisdom on Christianity and corruption in government. .>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:43 pm


D4P, I am willing to apply that standard to all societal benefits.>



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D4P

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:47 pm


FYI everyone: Jim Wallis has posted a response on the main blog page.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:48 pm


It would be morally outrageous to not use extreme interrogation techniques (including waterboarding) to protect thousands of human lives. Torture is torture…and what you, like Mr. Bush, are advocating is torture. It has been proven over and over and over again that using torture to interrogate and mine for “data” and information is not productive…and more often than not will get the one being tortured/interrogated to divulge of information that may, but most likely is FALSE…it’s just being said to STOP THE TORTURE. Why is that so difficult for you, and Bush, to comprehend?>



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Splinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:48 pm


Eddie – I completely disagree that America should ever sacrifice our civilized principals for the perception of security… and it seems that most experienced uniformed soldiers are agreeing with me. Freezing someone nearly to death, or nearly drowning someone until they tell you something will not get you reliable information. And again, the important point is that we have lowered our standards to that of a barbaric enemy that we are supposedly trying to defeat. Abandoning your principals for perceived security is the worst form of cowardice. And for someone that proclaims to be a Christian to do it, is simply disgusting.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:51 pm


MNW, I am opposed to providing benefits to activities that do not benefit society. I am even opposed (in some instances) to providing benefits to activities that do benefit society. I just see no reason to increase costs (financial, increased litigation (more courts, more judges, etc.))to society by providing benefits to men because they bring each other to orgasm. If you want to bring up the loving relationship aspect, that is fine. To that, I reply there are so many more loving relationships besides homosexual relationships, that I cannot see to which of those loving relationships we should deny benefits; if a loving relationship is all it takes to become entitled to the benefits. Finally, male/female sexual relationships are essentially and fundamentally different from male/male and female/female sexual relationships. That is why I do not see this as an issue of equality.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:52 pm


Splinter, Do you believe all coercive interrogation techniques are over the line?>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:59 pm


Eddie What’s the difference? Oh you mean the vagina and penis are different? straight couples have anal and oral sex. Those behaviors are universal. p>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:59 pm


Payshun & Jim H., This may have been confusing…there is a Kevin S and Kevin K on this Blog…me (KevinK) have been discussing with ugo,Payshun and Jim H. The change that I referred to in my earlier message was my change of heart regarding an intolerance of conservative Christianity. Railing against our differences is unproductive. Healthy discussion is not. I was part of the problem, instead of fostering reconciliation. Regarding my beliefs. Here is where I come from: Re LGBTQ, though not gay myself, I have several gay friends whom I love as brothers. I don’t believe that God has any different feelings toward them than anyone else. I personally reject the notion that homosexuality is morally wrong. But as a practicing Progressive Christian, I reject the notion of original sin and atonement as well, am a universalist regarding salvation and do not believe in supernatural malevalent spirits (aka Satan). Hell for me is the state of worshipping self. I don’t believe that God would ever allow evil to have the final word. And as a Christian do not believe in retributive justice. I have trouble with people in power who govern from the dispensationalist/literal viewpoint that acts as if they can do as they will because soon Jesus will descend with a rescue mission from the sky and rapture the “true” believers up with him and leave the rest of the sorry sinners to deal with the mess they left. God’s eternal “reward and punishment” system? I believe a little intellectual honesty is called for. I know that there are many who do not believe as I do. These beliefs have been derived from the direction the experiences encountering God in my life have taken me.>



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justintime

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:04 pm


Eddie, “Coercive” is a little ambiguous. Using physical and mental abuse as interrogation techniques not only violates the Geneva Convention and Christian values, it also produces unreliable intelligence. Prisoners must first become alienated from their former masters before they will yield useful intelligence. The experts all agree on this. .>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:08 pm


Payshun, Yes everyone can engage in anal and oral sex, but if you mean by universal that everyone does engage in anal and oral sex I think you are wrong.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:16 pm


Justintime, Abuse by definition is bad. Perhaps you could be more instructive and specific about when a physical or mental interrogation technique is abusive. I read that we have received useful intelligence from the interrogation techniques we are currently using, so they must not be torture or abusive or violations of the Geneva Convention.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:19 pm


MNW, By monogamous and committed do you mean exclusive until death? By loving do you mean a relationship that makes the other more Christ like?>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:19 pm


eddie, “I see nothing special about male on male or female on female sexual relationships that would merit them being treated the same as male on femal sexual relationships. I welcome enlightenment on this subject.” I’m not convinced you are seeking enlightenment, but let me ask you, what is it – apart from the 1 in 100 times that heterosexual “relationships” result in pregnancy – that “merits” special rights for heterosexuals? Anyone can have sex. If you are putting procreation on a pedestal, would you require heterosexuals to procreate in order to allow them to marry? Would all non-procreative sex between consenting heterosexual adults be banned? I too seek “enlightenment” as to the basis of your thoughts and beliefs in the “merits” of non-procreative heterosexual sexual relationships.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:24 pm


I meant the first one. no not everyone will engage in anal or oral sex but nearly everyone can. So again I have a question. Is it the sex that make gays wrong? Because if that’s the case then straights are just as wrong. My point is that marriage is a grace for straight couples not a right. The idea that sex is always healthy in marriage is a joke. It’s a grace. p>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:25 pm


Does anyone really care what folks do consensually in the privacy of their lives? Life forms copulate copiously. OK. I’ll bet there are issues that are much more relevent at this point in history than the topic of probes and orifices.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:27 pm


I don’t care. Gay sex is not an issue for me, straight sex is not an issue for me. Being a loving person is. I just want to understand why Eddie believes what he believes. Since this whole thing is about sex. I am curious. p>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:29 pm


Karmakin, “a basic definition of morality might be a good idea” Yes it would. Here’s mine: Morality has to do with how we treat one another, the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” approach that is the central core of 13 of the world’s major religions. If the RRR compare my relationship, my marriage to beastiality, rape, incest, child molestation, necrophilia, cannabalism, etc. (which is what they do to gays), then that informs me that this is how they, in turn, wish to be treated. I might just be inclined to oblige them, too. Pretty simple, I think.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:35 pm


Dennis Gilbertson, “When my wife and I decided to get married by law we needed a marriage license.” Hmm, maybe you should have got married in your Church. I did. We didn’t need a license – we were married under the Publication of the Banns, the same way my heterosexual sisters were married. The State is obliged to recognize all religious marriages equally (where I live, anyway. Sorry I can’t say the same for America). You DO belong to a Church, now, don’t you? ‘Cuz if not, the RRR gonna say some BAAAAAD things about you, hon’.>



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MNW

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:37 pm


I just see no reason to increase costs (financial, increased litigation (more courts, more judges, etc.))to society by providing benefits to men because they bring each other to orgasm. I am married. I am married in my heart. I am married in the eyes of my church. I am married in the eyes of my God. Where, specifically, do you deduce that my marriage is about orgasms, or that I am advocating that my orgasms receive legal recognition? You proclaim that because a male/female sexual relationship (ie a man having an orgasm while his penis is inside a woman’s vagina) is somehow “beneficial” to society…yet you fail to recognize that the marriage of the male and female is so much more than a man sticking his penis in her vagina. Are you so stunted in your growth that you cannot see beyond the deluded little world you’ve reated for your self? If you want to bring up the loving relationship aspect, that is fine. To that, I reply there are so many more loving relationships besides homosexual relationships, that I cannot see to which of those loving relationships we should deny benefits; if a loving relationship is all it takes to become entitled to the benefits. Why should we deny any loving relationship of purposeful, legal benefits? Why do you insist that OUR government only recognize the relationships that YOU wish to recognize? Seeing you as a Christian, I would think you might ponder the selfishness of your position…but seeing you as a “Christian” I highly doubt you will. Finally, male/female sexual relationships are essentially and fundamentally different from male/male and female/female sexual relationships. That is why I do not see this as an issue of equality. It’s not a question of whether YOU see it as an issue of equality. It’s a question of whether OUR government sees it as an issue of equality…and seeing as I pay taxes (probably more) just like you, then I should receive the same benefits that you do. Do you understand anything about the law? Do you understand that my partner, by law, must claim all health benefits I receive through his company’s insurance as INCOME? And that he is taxed on that “income”? Do you that is “equality under the law”? My partner wants me to have health insurance, just like many hubands want their wives or vice versa to have health coverage…why should we be penalized? Do you understand that if my partner dies before me that I will have to pay takes on his estate as if I were inheriting it, yet a married spouse would simply receive the estate without ANY tax penalty? Why should we penalized? Does that sound like “equality under the law”?Do you understand that a married spouse will continue to receive their spouse’s social security beneifts upon the death of their spouse…but neither I nor my partner will receive ANY benefit from the other’s social security? Does that sound like “equality under the law”? I think you’re too wrapped up in your bias and your prejudice to actually think beyond it. You are blinded by your beliefs, to the point that you are incapable of thinging rationally about any of it. I am, whether you believe it or not, being treated unfairly and unequally by MY…by OUR…government…and no amount of you believing otherwise is going to change that FACT. None.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:45 pm


curiouser and curiouser, It is the fact that procreation is an event without equal (since it ensures continuation of the species) that makes it more important than most other human events. It is the fact that male/female sexual intercourse may result in procreation that gives society a reason to involve itself in regulating it. Any human relationship can be loving and many human relationships can involve sexual activity. That doesn’t mean I want to help fund every loving human relationship or every human relationship that involves sexual activity. The question that I have never received a good answer to is, why should society want to extend benefits to male/male or female/female sexual relationships.>



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chadwig

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:50 pm


Zeus had other relationships besides his (last) marriage, to his sister Hera. Some were with immortals, including Leto, and Metis. Many more were with human women. And therefore I conclude that marrying ones sister should be sacred, because this thousands of years old tale says it should be so. Ridiculous. Religion is a mental disorder. Belief in the unprovable/untestable should be laughed at and scorned. Otherwise we’ll all be stoning our daughters when they dabble in spiritual “blasphemy”. pffffffffft>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 10:50 pm


MNW, If you marry, you are entitled to all of the benefits of anyone else who is married in the U.S.A. However, that is not good enough for you. You want to change the definition of marriage so you can get more than others and you do not care what it costs me or anyone else.>



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eddie

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:01 pm


MNW, No one who is single gets all of those benefits. It is not because you are homosexual that you are denied those benefits. It is because you are not married. Of course, we as a society can give all of those benefits to anyone or everyone. The question is why should we. Gee, you have someone you love so much you live with them and share everything with them. This makes you so special you should get things that other single people cannot get. Mostly, you sound to me like a cradle to grave socialist.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:15 pm


This brings up a great point. why is the government involved in marriage at all? p>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:19 pm


Eddie, I have a question. What would it cost you? I don’t see it costing you anything. Are they now saying you can’t marry the woman of your choice? Are they denying any sexual practices between you and your wife? Is the institution of marriage so weak that it needs this level of protection from you? Again a question what would it cost you? p>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:25 pm


Great point. Why is the government in the marriage business? If everything comes down to a cost/benefit analysis and since the world is probably over-populated anyway, perhaps we should deny civil benefits to male-female couples owing to the economic burden of over-population on the taxpayer. Maybe we should encourage same-sex civil unions by providing them with incentives. LOL.>



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Payshun

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:31 pm


What’s wrong w/ being a socialist? p>



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paul harris

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:46 pm


Why should anyone appoint a judge who supports abortion unless they want to continue to see pre-born children killed needlessly and already born children abused? Life is the paramount inalienable right. Why should anyone want to appoint judges who would allow for homosexual marriage unless they want grown men to marry underaged girls, or grown women to marry underaged boys, or men or women to marry animals, or men or women to have multiple spouses (both men and women) without divorcing the previous ones? A good lawyer is cheaper than a wedding and can arrange for all of the legal benefits of marriage. Why should anyone be against education vouchers which would facilitate an increase in competition in education through choice of education institutions and increase quality of teaching within all public and private schools through choice? Why should anyone be against increasing social security investment choice which is already the case for federal government employees, many state government employees, and some local gov’t employees, some school districts whose retirement income through “social security” is already higher than their business counterparts’ “social security” income? Government employess are just like the rest of us, and can make investment decisions. Do we think business employees can’t make the same decisions adequately and safely? Why would anyone vote for a candidate who would support the above? Beyond the above the candidates look very similar. They are motivated by power, money, and influence, not by right or duty to service.>



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KevinK

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:53 pm


If, as Christians, we believe that everything belongs to God, and the greatest commandment as told by Jesus, then what is the rub with providing everyone with equal benefits. As the saying goes, “you never saw an armored car in a funeral procession.” Do we really “own” anything, i.e., property, money, other stuff? Or are we just stewards? Doesn’t “ownership” of our stuff pass to someone else upon our death? It isn’t as if we earned it all. As Christians we are obligated to share. That is the whole idea of community. The idea that everything we acquire is ours to do with as we please has gotten our world into a fine mess. It will, unfortunately, pass to our children to undo the effects of our selfishness. Descartian individualism may have once had its place (arguable), but it surely has no place in today’s society. It’s time to close ranks and get on with the business of being God’s community.>



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Spinter

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:55 pm


Eddie: “Do you believe all coercive interrogation techniques are over the line?” I believe any technique that meets the Common Article 3 definition of “cruel treatment and humiliation” is wrong. Civilized society developed the Geneva Conventions and have lived by them for over 50 years. As I’ve said, to abandon these principals and begin to adopt the tactics of our barbaric enemy is both wrong and an act of cowardice.>



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Steve

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:59 pm


Many good points have been made here on both “sides.” I was particularly struck by the statements made about relationships. We are creatures of realationship as is God who made us in His image. The problem is that man’s divine imprint has been marred and distorted by his sin and sin leads to death – both physical and spiritual. And because of sin a relationship with God is not possible because as the Bible so plainly points out “our sin separates us from God” (this is the essence of “spiritual death”). What then is this thing called sin that alienates us from our Creator? Sin is “transgression of God’s law” according to the Bible. God’s moral law is most explicitly and plainly defined by the 10 commandments: You shall not lie, you shall not steal, Jesus said you shall not look with lust which is adultery in God’s eyes. And if any one hates his brother he is considered a murderer in God’s eyes (to name just a few). So while God did not intend us to take certain passages of scripture literally (i.e. Jesus said “if your right hand causes you to sin cut it off”), He did however tell us to “seek His face” as we prayerfully read His inspired Word so we can gain His help in understanding its true meaning (rightly divide the Word of truth). Some things are quite plain. Lying is lying, stealing is stealing, looking with lust is adultery. These things are not allegory – they ARE to be taken literally. God wants us to know Him and His true righteous and holy and just Character as revealed in scripture. In the case of “cutting off your hand” above Jesus did not advocate self mutilation, but rather He meant we should deal harshly with our sin – show it no mercy. “Cut off” the things that make us stumble and lead us into sin and bondage to that sin which leads to death and judgment. Our one true God is rich in mercy, slow to anger, is willing that none would perish, and yet He does and will punish all sin (many WILL perish sadly because they don’t take the way of escape God has provided). What is that way of escape? The prescription for avoiding eternal death in hell and entering into a personal loving relationship with God is Jesus Christ and His sinless life, death, and resurrection. So how do we obtain the forgiveness we all so desperately need that Jesus has purchased with His sinless blood for us on the cross? Repent and believe in Jesus and you will be saved. This is the resounding theme of the entire New Testament. The word “Repent” means simply to turn away from “self” and what our sinful selfish selves want, and to look to God and ask Him to show us what is right and true and for His help to do things God’s way. If we do that with a sincere heart, He will show us that not only is the Bible absolutely true, but He will show us by His Spirit what it really means and how we can be saved from His wrath and begin a relationship with Him that includes living a life that pleases Him. There is one mediator between God and man – Jesus Christ. We must go through Jesu and Him only to get right with God. Yes, I think it’s quite obvious that something is amiss with mankind on planet earth, but the good news is God wants to fix it. And God provided the means for us to be healed from all our sinful appetites to lie, steal, lust, covet, war, etc. The means He provided is in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus – God in the flesh, never sinned. Jesus was and is perfect and holy. He is our eternal God who came in the form of man to show us who God is and how we are to live and how we can get right with God and be forgiven – even have eternal life! He willingly gave Himself up for mankind on the cross – taking the penalty upon Himself that we each deserve to pay in hell. We need only call out to Him, asking Him to forgive us and make us into new creatures that truly love God and other. If we do that with all our hearts, God will cause us to be born again, and will come to live inside of us by His Spirit, and we will then have the power to stop sinful behaviors. Also, we will have eternal life with Him – a loving relationship with Him that starts now. Repent, believe, trust God in Christ, call out to Jesus and He will not let you down. He loves us that much. Jesus said “unless you are born again you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” If you have been born again – you will have new desires that are pleasing to God and you will seek to obey God – it is a dramatic change in which the old man with all his sinful passions is “crucified with Christ” or put to death and the new man is “raised to newness of life” with Christ in His resurrection with new holy and righteous desires that He didn’t have before. Have you been born again? I pray that every soul reading this would seek His face…>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:25 am


Steve, I once believed as you do, and once upon a time was a very conservative Republican. My experiences of God in my life have changed my viewpoint. Now a more progressive viewpoint in my faith as well as my politics inform my actions. I was born OK the first time, having already been forgiven. My response to God’s unconditional grace is to reflect God’s love, believing that all persons will be saved. The God of Creation that I worship would not allow even one of his lambs to remain lost to eternity. To me that is the real good news. I could never believe in a God who would abandon even one child. I believe we can reject God, but God rejects our rejection, and not worship the Bible, but the God who the Bible points us toward. Regarding Jesus, I believe the symbol of the empty tomb is more relevent to my faith than the cross. To me, understanding the language of faith, which is symbolism, metaphor and parable is important, much like scientists understand mathematics as the language of science. I agree with you that we need to repent…turn away from self. But not in order to gain forgiveness or salvation, but to honor God’s gift of grace and live in closer relationship to the spirit of the Creation. I don’t think God offers a reward and punishment system. We obey God out of love and gratefulness for his gift…after all, God is love, and conversely, love is God.>



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Bill Wilkerson

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:25 am


The religious right can’t be considered as serious whiled yoked to the Bush administration.>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:07 am


Kevin stated:”You make the unsupported assumption that equality for gays and lesbians necessarily entails the right to marry each other. It has been argued persuasively that it does not.” My Reply: Is marriage a Constitutional issue or a religious one? If it’s not in the Constitution for you to combat, then why combat it on a political front as if it is? As it is a religious issue which the ‘government has no right to impose upon religion’ or ‘impose religion upon anyone’ then the Bible teaches us to ‘let those who are outside’ the laws of God live outside as they will. God alone will judge them (Rm. 2:11-16). This is just another example of the Christian Right making up the rules as they go along. You are basically asking the government to impose the Christian’s Right’s version of so-called Christianity on the U.S. citizens. America is not a theocracy that the Christian right can force upon everyone. Not even God forces His will on anyone, what gall. Kevin stated: “Further, the Bible simply does not allow it. If Christianity is to affect our political outlook, how can we simply toss biblical principles aside on this issue? Shall we pick and choose, in hopes of appeasing everyone?” Of course you can argue that the Bible allows for gay marriage. But surely one could come to the conclusion that it does not without being a bigot?” My Reply: A lot of the homosexual community do not claim to be of the Bible that you can force the words in the Bible upon them. As for those who do claim to adhere to the Bible and condone homosexuality well the Bible teaches ‘judge not lest you be judged.’ Let it be understood as a Christian you can voice your opposition to those who think contrary but the Christian Right’s wrong, if you will, is that they are seeking to force their beliefs on America as a whole. Again, this is wrong.>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:09 am


Kevin stated “I’ve heard the same argument regarding helping the poor. The implication (typically) is that, if Christians arent’ demanding increased funding for this or that entitlement, then we are not adequately caring for the poor.” My Reply: There is that sinister word ‘entitlement.’ Do you mean as ‘entitled’ to what the Declaration proclaims, ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?’ Or, do you mean, ‘entitlement’ as the Christian Right’s proclamation, “We should give all the ‘entitlement’ power to the 1% white male elitist as they alone, know how to garner jobs?” Do tell. As for ‘entitlements’ for the poor, single moms out there of which the God of the Bible repeatedly claims to be the Father of, yeah, we as a Christian people should be the first to want our ‘tax’ dollars to go towards entitling the poor, to make it in America. Why, it’s the best tithing we as a ‘Christian’ people could ever do for it was none other than Jesus himself who proclaim, ‘you will always have the poor.’ It seems Jesus understands something the Christian Right doesn’t. Sometimes people are poor because of circumstances they can’t help. Perhaps they don’t have ‘schoolin’ skills no matter how much tutoring they get and other excuses Republicans give for condemning the poor. Kevin stated: “However, this ignores the fact that many conservatives believe that decreasing entitlements has been beneficial to the poor (as has been shown in the years since Clinton signed the Republican’s welfare reform act).” My Reply, yeah many conservatives like to lie to themselves in just this manner. Tell me conservatives how did giving the 1 % wealthiest all those ‘tax cuts’ benefit the poor? Kevin stated:”You can argue that conservative economic policy is ineffective (wrongly, in my view) but you have to go much further to say that God is against it. At minimum, you have to make that case. D4P, what would you say about Franklin Graham’s efforts in, say, New Orleans?” My Reply: Perhaps Franklin wouldn’t have to work nearly as hard if the ‘poor’s’ tax dollar right along with everyone else’s that pays ‘FEMA’S’ fees had been utilized by an intelligent administration. By the way, it was a sinful, evil, arrogant, conservative act to cut the Katrina victim’s funds because they pointed out a few who took advantage of the Katrina fund. I wonder could you tell me if you conservatives are advocating ‘cutting the 1% wealthiest tax breaks’ in like manner? Do tell. Oh, God whose word repeatedly claims to be the Father of the ‘poor, widow, fatherless, middle and poor working folks’, is against it.>



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B-man

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:15 am


“The claim that religious conservatives focus on one or two issues or somehow believe that other issues lack a moral component is a straw man.” What crap. Every one in this country knows all too well that the way Conservatives fire up their base, and divide and conquer their county politically is to hammer home on GAY MARRIAGE and ANTI-ABORTION. Period. That’s what they run on, that’s their party platform. Don’t patronize me, Ralph. That was a nice try at CYA, but I’m definately giving you the gong on that limp-wristed counter-argument.>



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Tom Lehman

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:23 am


Ralph Reed says that people of faith should be involved in the moral issues of our time. I agree, but have to ask the question: What qualifies Ralph Reed to be engaged in this discussion? The court case of convicted felon Jack Abramoff and others involved in the lobbying scandals in Washington have shown that Reed was involved up to his eyeballs. Is he still facing indictment and prosecution for his role? I don’t know, but I have to say that reading statements from someone on “moral issues” whose emails to Abramoff detailing his need for money and admitted role in taking money from casino interests to contact Christians to urge them to oppose expanded gambling makes me want to barf. Listening to Reed on morality issues is like listening to Jimmy Swaggart talk about the need for fidelity in marriage.>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:41 am


Tom, I like your perspective.>



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mb

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:49 am


Tom Lehman, you are so right. Reed is a documented deceptive fraud, why is he given any format to spew? Saw Frank Gaffney on TV today spouting about how we need to bomb Iran. Gaffney has a fever for more death – seems he didn’t get enough blood to satisfy his urges out of Iraq. Gafney hasn’t been correct about anything in forever – yet, there he is spewing his vile death loving insanity to millions.>



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prodigal sheep

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:01 am


It’s rather disengenuous for Ralph to say that the media has created some kind of ‘straw man’ by representing religious conservatives as focused on one or two narrow social issues. A close examination of the websites of organizations like the Christian Coalition or Focus on the Family will reveal that such organizations are indeed focused more on certain ‘hot’ moral issues than on others. For example, a search of the latter organization’s website (www.family.org) reveals 2,199 references to “gay” and “homosexual”, which is more than the number of references to Jesus. Meanwhile, tsunami relief rates 39 mentions and the Darfur genocide in Sudan (surely a pro-life issue if I ever heard of one) a measly 12. Media coverage of the religious right reflects the movement’s own public priorities. They ARE indeed obsessed with issues like homosexuality and abortion to the general exclusion of what many mainline Christians would consider other equal or more weighty “moral issues” — like justice, mercy and compassion.>



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Quinn Olinger

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:44 am


I was born homophobic and proud of it. Who are you to say I should change since God created me this way?>



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jerrykimbro

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:31 am


I don;lt giove a damn what Ralph Reed thinks. He;s a corrupt republican politician advancing his own personal agenda by ‘professing’ a belief in Jesus. If jesus were alive today- he’d vomit at Ralph;s so called values- and Dubya’s too. When did Jesus turn Republican? I thought he was the poor man’s friend? When did he begin to side with the money lenders and buy shares of halliburton. When did Jesus become a politician- telling the preacherman – exactly who to vote for in the next election ? You all make me ill policitizing Jesus. We ought to impeach the president for lying and diving our country into colors. Impeach him for using our religion to get elected- and still leaving poor peaople whio suffered from hurrican katrina all neglected. Jesus would NEVER side with people like that. Not the Jesus I know. No sir.>



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Lance in Australia.

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:33 pm


I have a question that I would love for both Jim Wallis and Ralph Reed to answer. What do each of them see of the message that comes out of the bible from Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees…and who do each them believe we should consider to be the Pharisees of today?>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:28 pm


kevink, You asked: “Does anyone really care what folks do consensually in the privacy of their lives?” Ralph Reed apparently does. A lot! As does Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Rick Santorum, “president” Bush, and quite a few others it seems.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:37 pm


eddie, Sorry, but your reply is lacking in several areas… “It is the fact that procreation is an event without equal (since it ensures continuation of the species)” I asked you why NON-procreative, heterosexual sex (about 99% of all heterosexual sex acts are non-procreative) ought to be rewarded with special benefits. “It is the fact that male/female sexual intercourse may result in procreation” The pivotal word being “may”. What about when it DOESN’T? Should non-procreative heterosexual sex be outlawed? Should non-procreative heterosexuals be allowed to marry? Answer the questions please. “Any human relationship can be loving and many human relationships can involve sexual activity. That doesn’t mean I want to help fund every loving human relationship or every human relationship that involves sexual activity.” Why not? Gays have to ‘fund’ non-procreative heterosexuals’ benefits. Why such a one-way street? “The question that I have never received a good answer to is, why should society want to extend benefits to male/male or female/female sexual relationships.” To which I reply, why should society extend benefits to non-procreative male/female sexual relationships. Please don’t avoid answering – why should your side get special benefits, paid for in part by gay citizens? Every time you avoid answering, I am curiouser and curiouser.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:47 pm


eddie, Your constant, blatant lies to MNW are hurtful if not hateful. “If you marry, you are entitled to all of the benefits of anyone else who is married in the U.S.A.” But of course, MNW could have been married in Massachusetts or in Canada, or any other place, and SHOULD be afforded 14th Amendment rights of portability. Just because you have a homophobic governmetn doesn’t make the non-recognition of our marriages right. “However, that is not good enough for you. You want to change the definition of marriage so you can get more than others and you do not care what it costs me or anyone else.” We do NOT get “more” rights, and we are not seeking them. We are seeking equal rights. And, btw, WE pay for YOUR benefits, so it costs ME. “No one who is single gets all of those benefits.” But we aren’t discussing “single” people; we are discussing married couples. Do try to get it, er, straight. “It is not because you are homosexual that you are denied those benefits. It is because you are not married.” Is that anything like, “It’s not because you are a woman that you are denied those benefits; it is because you are not a man.” Or, “It’s not because you are black that you can’t drink from that fountain; it is because you are not white.”??? The law is unjust, but you would rather it be kept in place so gays can be kept in theirs. Vile. “Of course, we as a society can give all of those benefits to anyone or everyone. The question is why should we.” Because “All men (and presumably women too) are created EQUAL”, not ‘all men except for faggots. Because of “liberty and JUSTICE for ALL”, not ‘liberty and justice for str8s. Because it’s “We the people”, not ‘We the heterosexual people’. Thanx 4 askin’. “Gee, you have someone you love so much you live with them and share everything with them. This makes you so special you should get things that other single people cannot get.” You’ve just describe a married couple, not a single person. Why is that do you suppose? Can you not read?>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 4:53 pm


paul harris asks some more interesting questions (and makes some pretty stoopid comments to boot): “Why should anyone want to appoint judges who would allow for homosexual marriage unless they want grown men to marry underaged girls or grown women to marry underaged boys” Um, first of all, men marrying girls and women marrying boys is NOT homosexual anything. Secondly, society has determined hat the “underaged” (of EITHER sex) cannot give informed consent. Meanwhile, WE are discussing consenting adult relationships. Try again. Or not. “or men or women to marry animals” Ah yes, the ‘loving’, ‘charitable’, “christian” response – NOT! Let’s compare YOUR “marriage” to man on dog situations and see how YOU like it. “or men or women to have multiple spouses (both men and women) without divorcing the previous ones?” Hey, yer “president” welcomed a known, admitted, self-confessed polygamist into the Rose Garden at the White House last year, and Amurikkka didn’t seem to have a problem with it at all. I know what let’s do, let’s compare YOUR “marriage” to polygamy and see how YOU like it. “A good lawyer is cheaper than a wedding and can arrange for all of the legal benefits of marriage.” If it ain’t necessary for you betterosexuals, why should it be imposed on gays? Just askin’. Try again. (But this time, leave the hate-rhetoric out of it please.)>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:00 pm


Rick Nowlin, You said: “The trouble is that you don’t need to be a Christian to oppose abortion or believe that homosexual conduct is immoral; many non-believers feel that way.” Howzabout this: The trouble is that you don’t need to be a Christian to be in favour of choice or believe that homosexual conduct is moral; many non-believers feel that way too. Please explain why YOUR beliefs ought to trump MINE before the law.>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:30 pm


Lance in Australia, You wanted Ralph Reed and Jim Wallis to answer your question, “What do each of them see of the message that comes out of the bible from Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees…and who do each them believe we should consider to be the Pharisees of today?” I don’t know how each of them would answer, but the question is a good one, worthy of discussion, I think. Is it possible that the Pharisees of today would be all who hold strictly to the legalism of the Bible, are good law-abiding citizens but also believe that anyone who has not been “born again” and is different from them (non-Christians or unrepentent sinners)will be abandoned by God and therefore their concerns carry no weight?…folks who believe as I once did. Jesus had harsh words for those, but offered grace to all, believing that grace would eventually overcome fear and hate. Jesus persistence in offering grace got him killed. But in resurrection God had the final word. Grace won. We Christians must persevere. Those who attempt to hijack our faith must experience the grace of God or recall its power in their lives so that they might be transformed. Those contemporaries who chose to stay the course, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero among many others, paid a high price for their courage and persistence, but look what they accomplished! The Church must close ranks, stand firm, putting aside the false agenda of the radical Right…IMO.>



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Steve

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:45 pm


KevinK, You are correct – it is not a punishment reward system. God is love, and He loves us enough to show us how we can stay out of harm’s way. But we must take the way He has provided – He does not force us. If we don’t listen to Him, we will reap what we sow – either righteousness that comes by faith leading to eternal life with our God who died for us, or a life of sin leading to death and hell. Is there an absolute right and wrong? Or does it just depend on the situation? Or does each person decide for themselves? Well it’s a free country right? Believe whatever you want. Live and let live, right? Reality check time: Is murder wrong? Is rape wrong? Is lying wrong? How about stealing? Is it only wrong if you believe it is wrong? Or is it right for those who think it is okay (at least in certain situations)? Where do we draw the line? And who draws it? Does it really matter? Yes. Without agreement about right and wrong we have chaos. Morality is a prerequisite not only to order, but safety. If there is a God who made us and is smarter than us, doesn’t it stand to reason that He just might know what is best for us? And if He loves us and wants us to know what is best, how might He tell us? Did He already tell us? What about the Bible? It’s all open to interpretation…so they say… What if it’s not? What if people say that because they are just afraid that if it is true they will be accountable to what God has said in it and maybe have to change the way they live their lives? What if God loves us enough to show us the truth but we ignore it? What will happen to us? When I was in elementary school and we walked in lines to cross the street, if I didn’t listen to the teacher and jumped out in front of the line I’d have been hit by a car. I was safe only because I followed the commands of the person in charge who cared about me and knew what was best for me. I trusted this person to keep me out of harm’s way. Such it is with God. God gave us His word to tell us how to stay safe by obeying His commands. There s only one problem – we have all “crossed the line” of His absolute standard of right and wrong. We’ve all sinned and the wages of sin is death. This is why we need a Savior. Jesus died and rose to keep us out of the ultimate “harm’s way.” He came to save us from the stuff we are doing that is killing us and leads to eternal condemnation – the Bible calls it the “lake of fire. Who is going to heaven? The Bible tells us plainly who is not: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 9 Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 10 thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. Someone says “I don’t believe in hell” – that doesn’t change its reality. Again, what is the truth? How can we know? Seek the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you as you read the Bible. He will. We don’t set the terms to come to God. He does. Find out what they are – they are in the Bible: 2 Peter 1:20-21 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says we must repent or we will perish. God loved us enough to provide a way out – will you take it? What is that way out? It is Jesus who bore our punishment in our place on the cross. It’s not my opinion or your own opinion that matters. The only thing that matters is what God thinks His truth is absolute and it is found in the Holy Bible – God’s word. God wants us to worship Him – the Living Word (not just a book) “in spirit and truth.” I worship God Himself as He has revealed Himself through His Word and in Jesus Christ to me personally by His Spirit. The Father of creation will come to live in us by His Spirit through Christ when we surrender our lives in obedience to Him. Anything short of that and Jesus will say on the last day “I never knew you, depart from me you who practice lawlessness” – Matt 7. Don’t be deceived Kevin. Repent, or you will perish. You are not saved and are in grave danger. You are headed for eternal destruction. Because God loves you He is warning you even now like the child heading into traffic to turn from your wicked ways and stay by His side. I fear you have run away from Him Kevin. Come back to Him Kevin! I urge you and plead with you and pray for you to turn from your sin to Jesus – not the empty tomb – but to the risen Savior who died for you! The angels in heaven will rejoice! What are you holding onto Kevin? What don’t you want to let go of that is destroying you? God knows, and I think you know what it is. Let it go man – it’s not worth it! Return to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness and help in letting go of the sin while you still can. I say these things because I care about you my friend. God is giving you another chance to repent of your sin and come back to Him to receive His forgiveness Kevin. Won’t you take this chance and turn to Him right now? Or will you persist in your rebellion against Him who made you and loves you? I pray not. Turn to Him today – today Kevin – please get right with Him I beg you man. None of us may have tomorrow. Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.>



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Steve

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:18 pm


KevinK, Jesus said “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Legalism is an adherance to manmade rules to feel good about oneself – even a smug pride that says “I am better than everyone because I follow the rules or because I know God’s laws or because I am “chosen.” This is not what God is after – He wants our heart! he wants us to obey Him because we love Him and because we acknowledge that as our Creator He knows what’s best for us. Obedience to God’s commandments (in the Spirit, not by the letter of the law – Romans 7) is not legalism. We obey God as evidence of our love for Him. If we don’t obey God, then we show that we do not love God. 4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10) Kevin – Jesus gives Grace – but not as a license to sin – His grace includes forgiveness as well as power to stop sinning: 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:1-2 and 14-23) His real grace and peace and power over your sin will be given to you as you wholeheartedly turn to Jesus and repent Kevin. Do you love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength Kevin?>



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Don

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:24 pm


Steve, so self righteous is the way to go? Thanks for clearing that up, always nice to have the holier than thou folks chime in. You know if there were one or two of you holier than thou types someone could look up to, maybe people would do so. Look who is preaching to us about family values, Ralph Reed. What a joke. Maybe if you did Jesus the honor of being who He is instead of who the Christian Right NEEDS to use for their political purposes, someone might listen. Zappa saw it coming in 1986. Zappa: The biggest threat to America today is not communism; it s moving America towards a fascist theocracy and everything that has happened during the Reagan administration. Is steering us right down that pipe Zappa: When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view and if that code happens to be very, very right wing almost toward Attila the Hun. Lofton: Well then you are an anarchist. Every form of civil government is based on some kind of morality, Frank. Zappa: Morality in terms of behavior-not in terms of theology. What is really funny about that quote is that Lofton worked for Sun Myung Moon at the time of this interview. Sun Myung Moon, whose goal has always been to move America towards a fascist theocracy and with the “religious” right’s help, he did it.>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 6:49 pm


Steve, I appreciate your sincerity, but my experience of God’s grace in my life is just as real as your experience. I was raised with the same belief as you share and believed that way for much of my life. I no longer share those beliefs. It really never felt right and I now know why. I am in the arms of a loving Shepherd who would never abandon even one of his sheep. Would you ever abandon one of your children? For any reason. I certainly would not. God has given us choice. We can reject God. But I believe that God rejects our rejection. To me, that is the good news. As a wise man once said, “The Bible is full of truth…and some of it happened.” I don’t worship the Bible. That is a high form of idolatry in my mind. I worship a loving and gracious God who the Bible points toward. I was born in America, so was raised Christian. I follow the way of Jesus because I believe he had a compelling relationship with the Father. Best wishes in your Christian pilgrimage, Steve!>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:12 pm


Elaine: The question of marriage is a legal one, and, potentially a Constitutional one, should we choose to amend the Constitution. The government has some role in sanctioning marriage, yes? Unless it relinquishes that role entirely, then this is a legal issue. Christians are merely advocating for what they believe the law should be. Nearly everyone agrees that someone should not have three wives, but there are those who vehemently disagree, and we legislate accordingly. As a side note, everyone is saying that it is obvious that Christians care about two issues more than anything. Elaine, I have addressed a number of issues on this board. Which one did you jump on first? Just an observation.>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:12 pm


Elaine said: “My Reply: There is that sinister word ‘entitlement.’ Do you mean as ‘entitled’ to what the Declaration proclaims, ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?'” I don’t think entitlement is a sinister word. There are necessary entitlements, and unnecessary ones. If entitlements increase too much, unemployment increases, which inhibits the pursuit of happiness. Elaine: “Or, do you mean, ‘entitlement’ as the Christian Right’s proclamation, “We should give all the ‘entitlement’ power to the 1% white male elitist as they alone, know how to garner jobs?” The goal of our economic policy should be to enable everyone to make as much money as possible, not about punishing the sinister (to use your word) top 1%. You say that I am lying to myself for saying that Clinton’s welfare reform act helped the poor. That’s namecalling, not evidence. Clinton certainly takes credit for the measure. w/r/t tax cuts, they have helped to reduce unemployment, and increase the GDP. That’s not a lie either. Beyond that, Bush has initiated a gigantic new entitlement (Medicare D).>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:12 pm


“By the way, it was a sinful, evil, arrogant, conservative act to cut the Katrina victim’s funds because they pointed out a few who took advantage of the Katrina fund.” Now we’re making stuff up. Look, I made the case the Conservatives believe that the way to demonstrate compassion to the poor is by forging economic policy that has shown demonstrable success in helping the lower class, middle class, and upper class. You’re response is, no it doesn’t, 1%, white male, you’re lying. How can I argue with that?>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:31 pm


Kevin S. Clintons welfare reform worked in that it got alot of folks off the welfare rolls and into the category of the working poor…a huge problem in our country. No one wants to address that problem with increases to the minimum wage etc. We just exchanged one problem for another.>



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Payshun

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:31 pm


Can we leave the milk alone? We need some spiritual meat in this discussion about grace. I think there is this notion, a spirit if you will going around and its power can be seen in any number of ways on this thread. It’s subtle right now arguing only for grace and mercy to some while ignoring others. Grace is not free, contrary to popular theology. It always costs the giver something. It costs the reciever everything to live. Living Grace out means suffering for the sake of love and that is lost in today’s American Protestant and Pentecostal circles. If you are following Christ’s commands then you will suffer. It’s that simple. He promised it. But the real issue of suffering in grace means learning to love the unlovable. It means showing grace and mercy to our enemies. It means creating policy that supports the commandments of Christ not the earlier Jewish legal code. I wonder how the world would look at us if our torture policy was built off of Christ’s commandment of turning the other cheek? As for republicans caring about the poor. I will by that when their policy reflects it. Having a small penance in creating legislation for faith based inititiaves shows that they want to pass the buck to the church. You all wrongly believe it’s primarily the church’s job when humanity itself is called to love the poor. God loves it when governments get involved in loving the poor but you all don’t want that. That would mean your tax dollars going to gasp afterschool programs and innercity development. It would mean reconciliation between the classes and races of this country but you all don’t want that. You want a white priveleged way of doing things. I realize that I make a lot of assumptions and for that I do apologize but let’s look at the actual republican party and tell me when all races, sexual orientations and everything thing else are welcomed there. Let’s see you all stand up in unison for helping the poor outside of weak legislation. p THe>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:33 pm


steve, “Is murder wrong?” Yes. “Is rape wrong?” Yes. “Is lying wrong?” Yes. “How about stealing?” Yes, also wrong. “Is it only wrong if you believe it is wrong? No. “Where do we draw the line?” At the point of one person’s words or actions cauing HARM to another. ALL of your examples cause HARM, which is WHY they are wrong. P.S. What version of the Bible are you quoting from. The word “homosexual” was only coined about a hundred years ago. I’ve heard that only 2 versions that attempted to use that word, and one later apologized.>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 7:41 pm


Payshun, I couldn’t agree with you more. Grace does necessitate sacrifice. Grace has to be transfered to feet on the street. Humanity is called to care for the poor and government has a large stake in this. The answer is not “the least government possible” as the Republicans would have it, but appropriate government. This, however, requires capable governance, which is in short supply these days. The role of the church is to be the conscience in all of this, to call us to our higher calling…which is seeking peace and insuring justice for the poor. What would happen if the $$billions (half a trillion$$!) we spent on the Afghanistan/Iraq debacles were used for purposes of furthering dialogue among countries and assisting the poor in this and other countries? We are way off track and the world is screaming that message to us, but our government doesn’t want to hear.>



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Payshun

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:28 pm


Kevin I agree w/ you completely. THe only thing I would add is that our government is a lot more sinister when it comes to hearing or listening. They honestly believe they are doing the right thing. That’s the scary part. p>



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Joel Kretzmann

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:30 pm


To the person so thinks his direct charity dollar is spend better than government’s. My elder brother said the same, & have yet to see one, or is always a “loan.”. You will be glad to know getting money from the government is often a nightmare, one reason people do not give it up once they get it. Private charity is much less than what the government does, how convenient. Why not both or do not write off your tithing.>



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Mike

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:44 pm


It is my opinion that Bush is a hypocrite that uses religion at the request of Carl Rove who happens to be agnostic as a political tool for his own political gain. I also think Bush is the most corrupt dishonest, evil person who has ever been elected as president.>



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Payshun

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:59 pm


Bush the most evil, no. He is definitely one of the most incompetent presidents ever but why beat a dead horse? The real question I want to ask and it is to all the conservatives reading this can you agree w/ us that it will take all of us to the love the poor? It will take all of us Governmental or not, but all of us to love the poor. p>



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CDU

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:09 pm


I’m curious- How does one biblically defend having a fence-building advocate as a tutor in Christian perspectives on immigration at the FRC’s Values Voters Conference? Are we building our political positions on the Rock or on the rocky soil of the Republican Party?>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:24 pm


Not only do we need to help the poor and downtrodden economically, but we need to show them that we value them as they are as citizens of our nation. Many suffer from low self-esteem. Part of valuing them is by economic assistance, and part by listening to them and involving them in our communities and befriending them. Taking the time to understand their situations is love in action.>



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Bill Samuel

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:28 pm


The comment that Ralph Reed is a better communicator was on target. But to some extent that just strains the credibility because so much of Reed’s background is known. Yes, the religious right has worked on Sudan. Right, left and moderate Christians, along with Jews, Muslims and other religious groups, have been united on this. But that is a rarity. What I found really interesting is that Reed admits the religious right is not really basing its politics on Christianity, but rather on ideology. The way he wrote it the significance can escape one and it just sounds moderate. Note that over 200 comments have been made, and it has been ignored. The problem is that the group Reed used to head was called the “Christian Coalition” and he and other leaders of this cabal have over and over done their best to give the impression that their right wing politics stems from their Christian faith. Is Reed really changing his tune or is he being disingenous? Will he urge other right wing activists to be careful to note that their views are not based on their faith?>



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Payshun

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:29 pm


Amen Kevin, we are on the same wavelength. There is a book by Cornel West called Race Matters. It’s a great book that talks about the current wave of self destructive tendencies plaguing the poor in our cities. Loving the poor means healing them, challenging them and praying the ish out of them until life comes. It means also getting the church to endure suffering. Because we know those white affluent churches are scared of sending their younger folks or themselves into the innercity. We know that there is a huge racial and classist divide in our American Christian culture and we have yet to address any of it. p>



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Payshun

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:35 pm


Bill, The reason I ignore is because its known that his arguments are based off of ideology. Why spend time belaboring the point? p>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:16 pm


Ralph Reed has shown us his stripes on many, many occasions. He has shown himself to be duplicitous and a very able spin doctor. Disingenuous is a mild term. The Christian Coalition is steeped in Right Wing ideology. They hide behind it because their theology couldn’t stand up to any kind of real scrutiny, and the Right Wing hides behind Christian Conservatism because, on its own, couldn’t stand on its own either. Indeed you are known by the company you keep.>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:24 pm


Regarding racism, how can we understand people’s plight if we can’t even talk with them? Ignorance breeds fear, which breeds hate, which breeds violence. Is it any wonder we aren’t able to come to grips with racism and proverty? The same could be said for our international issues. How well do we really understand the issues concerning our perceived enemies? We won’t even talk with them, because we don’t like them?? We fear what we don’t understand! Wasn’t that the lesson of the Cold War? Misunderstanding almost caused nuclear winter. Are we condemned to reliving the past. I pray not.>



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kevin s.

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:37 pm


Kevink, So, do you think government can eliminate the problem with the working poor? There will always be some economic stratification. Raising the minimum wage isn’t great solution you make it out to be. It invariably costs jobs, and also often benefits high-schoolers and college students working side jobs. See the problem? You exchange unskilled jobs for a wage increase that often benefit teenagers. This is why leading economists such as Milton Friedman oppose the notion that this will lead to economic growth.>



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Aardwizz

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:12 pm


Abortion is a moral issue. But as Jim Wallis asked in his first post – whose morals? The real question, the one that NEVER gets brought up in any debate about abortion is, DOES A FETUS HAVE A SOUL? If it does have a soul, then Ralph Reed and the religious right are correct: there can be no greater crime in the universe than preventing that soul from having an opportunity to know God and receive Grace. If it does not have a soul, then the removal of the unwanted growth carries no more moral weight than removing a benign tumor. (This would also hold true if the Buddhists are right, and that the soul would just be re-incarnated, but this is not the forum for such a belief). So, does the fetus have a soul or not? I don’t know, and I know of no way to find out. The Bible doesn’t say ANYTHING about it. There are a few references to “the breath of life’, which might imply that the soul enters on birth, not conception, but it certainly is not clear on the subject. The abortion debate usually turns secular (since it is being regulated by the state, which is supposed to have separation from the church), and bogs down into ideas like “viability”. The Supreme court, in Roe v. Wade also muddied the moral issue. Although it’s not clearly stated, the basic premise of that decision is this: The Constitution says that a citizen cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. If the state allows the abortion, it is depriving a person (but a citizen?) of life. If the state disallows the abortion, it is forcing the woman to labor for up to 9 months, in short, slavery. It reasoned that at the beginning of the pregnancy, the woman has lots of freedom to lose, and the cell mass has very little life to loose. At the end of the pregnancy, the woman has almost no freedom to loose, but the unborn child has much life to loose. Somewhere in between, the two competing rights balance. Magic number – 22 weeks (which, coincidently, is about viability). “The right to privacy” is mostly smokescreen to hide the true reasoning. So again, whose morality do we use? Is slavery less repugnant than death? And before you answer and automatic “yes”, take a quick look at you own religious beliefs. The reason you would say ‘yes’ is because “Slavery ends, but Death doesn’t” But is Death eternal? So again, we are faced with the question that Ralph Reed ignored in his reply – Whose morals? And always keep in mind the Law of Unintended Consequences. Yes, tens of millions of abortions have been performed since Roe v. Wade. What if they had been allowed (forced) to come to term? If you believe the numbers, you’re looking at increasing the U.S. population by as much as 50%. Would the economy have grown like it did, grown even more (more workers, more consumers), or been worse, perhaps even declining (too many mouths to feed, more welfare babies straining the system)? Again, there’s no way to know, but if I were to guess, I’d say that America would not be the leader of the free world that it is today if it had a population 500 million. (Then again, the Social Security solvency issue would likely be moot). Whenever you have an unwanted pregnancy, by whatever the cause – incest, rape or carelessness), you have a no-win situation. Either the child suffers, or the mother suffers. Sometimes both. I see much effort spent on saving the “unborn child”. I don’t see an equally strong effort to save the mother. It’s not non-existent, but it’s not very strong, either. If instead of “informing” the woman of the evils of abortion (“Silent Scream”), EVERY ONE were to be offered a place where she would be protected, and cherished, and taught how to care for the child AND HERSELF, helped to get off drugs, make smart reproductive choices, help turn the father into a dad, and give the woman a REAL CHOICE, that’s a Religious Right I could get behind. Until then, I will always see them as hypocrites, unwilling to do Good Work. P.S. The Religious Left have a share in that hypocrisy. “Choice” is also taking the easy way out.>



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Steve

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:23 pm


Don, I have no interest in a theocratic state, nor do I subscribe to the Republican party as being “God’s party.” Our government is full of corruption at every level in both parties. Self-righteous people do not acknowledge their sin. I am amongst the chief of sinners to be sure. I have broken God’s laws innumerable times. That is why I need a Savior – and so do you. God loves us and will forgive and accept anyone who comes to Him with a humble, sincere heart, wanting to be forgiven and free of the sin that enslaves him/her. Praise God because He has shown me the truth in Jesus Christ and that truth has set me free!!! I am far from perfect, but I am no longer a slave to sin. Yes I still sin, but I don’t want to and don’t have to, and as a result sin less and less day by day as I get to know God better and better and learn to rely on His strength to overcome the sin that besets me. I can take no credit for this (which is what self-righteous people do) rather I give all praise to my God and Savior Jesus Christ. I now live for Him – to honor Him because He loves me and I obey Him because I love Him because He has redeemed me from sin and death and hell. Praise God! Will you accept His offer of forgiveness Don? Or continue to use the excuse that Christians are just part of the “political right.” On judgment day, God won’t be asking you Don about what other people did or did not do. He will be asking something more like “What about you Don? What did you do with my Son Jesus?” We can accept Jesus sinless life as God in the flesh. We can accept His death for our sins and resurrection that we may be forgiven, or we can reject Him and bear the full consequences of our sins alone in hell forever. Salvation is a free gift – it can’t be earned, but we have to accept the gift. Jesus is the gift. What will you do with Him Don?>



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KevinK

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:26 pm


Aardwizz, A very thoughtful commentary. Abortion is a tragedy. Just legislating against abortion will do little to solve the underlying problem. Leaving a woman alone with no resources or alternatives has little chance of solving the problem either. In a culture that values quick and painless solutions to everything, this places the issue with lose-lose options at this point. My belief is that God only knows the about the soul’s existence, the heart of the mother and the anguish she may or may not feel. God is the good Shepherd and will not let these things slip through the cracks and is always the ultimate safety net. That being said, if we can’t face up to the difficulties posed by our society, then we are not being the proper stewards of God’s grace and are part of the problem, instead of part of the solution.>



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Payshun

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:57 pm


My problem with idea is that I don’t see jesus stopping people from always making bad decisions. I see a Jesus that would hold her hand during an abortion procedure and instead of walking out of the room in disgust crying and telling her how much he loves her. My question is right or left would you do the same? p>



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SimonC

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:59 pm


One word that seems to get lost in these “discussions” is “tolerance.” It is absolutely fine for your Church to teach that homosexuality is wrong. Its fine for you to believe it. Its fine for you to teach that belief to your children. But is it right to legislate it? People of faith always say that they have to “vote their faith.” I disagree. Religious freedom means not only the right to believe as you choose, but the right to not believe at all if you choose. Every debate about Gay marriage always comes down to a religious belief, the same can be said for abortion. If a woman does not believe in God, and does not believe that a fetus has a soul, than obviously she will not believe it is wrong to abort it … as someone said, it would be the same as having a benign tumor removed. And she has the right to believe that. If I vote to restrict abortion solely on a religious belief that “God says it is wrong,” then I am attempting to force other people to live by my religious beliefs. Thats wrong. Gay marriage? Same issue. You can make a secular argument against murder … it infringes on the rights of another human being. Therefore its wrong. There are no valid secular arguments against Gary marriage or abortion, only religious ones. I don’t choose to live in a theocracy. To all those of faith who vote to have their own religious beliefs codified as law of the land, that practice only works as long as there are more of “you” than there are of “them.” If there were more non-believers than believers, would it be okay for them to restrict your religious beliefs because they were “only voting their conscience?” Tolerance.>



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Michael Devitt

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:07 am


It is interesting that Mr. Reed feels it is unfortunate that we too often focus on controversy, rather than reconciliation. Isn’t Mr. Reed the man who lead the campaign that defeated Sen. Max Cleland by morphing this war hero’s face into that of Osama bin Laden? Isn’t this the same Mr. Reed that bragged he, “Delivered So. Carolina for Mr. Bush” against John McCain? What could he have done to do so? SOMEONE push-polled So. Carolina voters into thinking that Mr. McCain had fathered an illegitimate child while captive in Vietnam. These calls, “Delivered” So. Carolina to Mr. Bush. I think I will ignore the moral lecturing from someone who conned indian tribes with Jack Abramoff’s money, then kept it for himself. No, Mr. Reed, you are not fit to tie Mr. Wallis’ sandals. Keep your self-righteous hyperbole to yourself, thank you. Michael Devitt, Boise, Idaho>



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Doug & Shirley

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:11 am


I must kindly disagree with your comments. I was raised in a very religious or in what I would now consider a very Conservative family. Many would consider it a disfunctional family from the views that were frequently expressed by my parents. That was a long time ago and now approaching 73 I have realized how wrong it is to have such a bias toward so many people, their actions or how they were created being different from the mainsteam public. I can only say shame as the Jesus I know welcomed all regardless of their personal actions or beliefs.>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:15 am


KevinK, I would never abandon my child and neither will God. The problem is we were not born into this world as His children. Yes God created us, and caused us to be born, and in that sense we are his “offspring” but we are by nature “children of wrath” the Bible says. We are of our spiritual father – the devil himself – taken captive by him to do his will (that is what the sin nature we are each born with wants to do). This is true of all human beings born on the planet until we repent and trust in Jesus Christ, who will then adopt us into God’s family when we are born again and given a new nature that hates sin and loves God and His righteousness. Once God’s child – yes – I agree with you – He will never let us go. We need to respond to His love with faith/trust and obedience to the gospel and then we become His children (not because we are “good enough” but because of His grace). What you are doing I think Kevin is making a “God” to suit yourself. This is idolatry and is the oldest sin in the book. We all have experiences that we can claim are from God, but only God really knows who are His adoptive children. Satan appears as an angel of light and he loves to impersonate God with every lie imaginable including the lie that no matter what you do or how you live we will all be accepted by God. The idea that God rejects our rejection is also a lie. The only unpardonable sin is rejecting God’s offer of forgiveness as it is uniquely offered through trusting Jesus Christ by a repentant faith in Him evidenced by an earnest desire to follow and obey Him the rest of our lives. Rejecting God in this way is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit – because it is rejecting God’s testimony about His Son and the way of salvation. That is what you are doing, and if you persist in this, I fear for you on judgment day. God has a kind of “wrath of abandonment” where he gives a person over to the lusts of their flesh, homosexual wickedness, etc, when they have rejected him repeatedly (read Romans 1). I do pray that you are not seeking to justify your sin by pretending to believe that God will just “reject our rejection.” That is a lie from hell, and I just hope you will seek His forgiveness for this if it is still possible for you. “Don’t be deceived” the scriptures warn repeatedly! Jesus said “Enter through the narrow gate, because broad is the path that leads to destruction and many are there that go that way.” Cry out to Him Kevin. God is rich in mercy. I think even if we start down the road of rejecting Him as He proclaims Himself to be, He will still forgive us – if we repent and come back to the narrow gate. But if we persist in our rejection of Him, we evidence that we never really had any desire to be a part of His family. Ephesians 1:3-5 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– Have you been adopted into God’s family Kevin? If you have been, you will be sure of it – because God will know you personally, and you will love God by obeying His commandments. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord – Hebrews 12:14>



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Elaine

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:22 am


KEVIN STATED: “The question of marriage is a legal one, and, potentially a Constitutional one, should we choose to amend the Constitution. The government has some role in sanctioning marriage, yes?” Unless it relinquishes that role entirely, then this is a legal issue. Christians are merely advocating for what they believe the law should be. Nearly everyone agrees that someone should not have three wives, but there are those who vehemently disagree, and we legislate accordingly.” MY REPLY: If I didn’t clearly get the point that the issue of marriageis a ‘legal’ matter across then pardon me as that is my point. Here’s what I was saying, I do NOT agree that the Christian Right (not all Christians as I am one of them that opposes the Christian Right’s madness) should be legislating their interpretation of God and country onto the citizens. Remember that type of so-called Christians has a history of doing just that. Ergo, barbaric enslavement of Africans was justified. The slaughter of Indians was justified, segregation and whatever evil they wanted to wrap around their so-called version of Christianity was justified. What that batch doesn’t get is this is why people resist their evil for it’s springing from that same, racist, sexist, devilish spirit that established the U.S. in the first place. As a side note, funny how the ‘less government’ bellowing Christian Right keeps using right-wing government to intrude into these matters and over step their boundary. Hypocrites! This is dangerous. This is the danger of the Christian Right. ‘Government kill, steal, or destroy everyone who doesn’t think like us.’ KEVIN STATED:”As a side note, everyone is saying that it is obvious that Christians care about two issues more than anything. Elaine, I have addressed a number of issues on this board. Which one did you jump on first? Just an observation.” MY REPLY; Cheap shot Kev, cheap shot! And to be exact, the one “I jumped into first” had to do with the overall hypocritical views of ‘REED.’ Hey, there has to be a starting place and since this was the ‘subject matter’ I ‘subjected’ it..:-) Oh, and for the record, everybody, not just the Christian Right, but every Civil Right group or Democratic voting person concentrates with a host of issues. However, what I think you are purposely blinding yourself to is that the Christian Right picked two major issues and ran with it i.e. abortion and same sex marriage. Now that people geniunely come forth to address those 2 MAJOR issues will the conservative so-called Christian Right play ‘cat and mouse’ deception with regard to the matter. Yes, I watched as the Christian Right made sure they ‘covered all their bases’ and began to emphasize other issues. Mind you, in their so-called ‘emphasis’ on other issues, they made sure they denigrated all their opposition while feigning a piety for the poor, and other issues that they began to throw money and TV and radio time towards. Every intelligent person saw it for what it was. How much more the God the Christian Right alleges to serve?>



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Kerri

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:57 am


I am a christian seminary student at a Conservative Presbyterian Seminary. As a liberal, I worked in partisan politics for a decade before responding to God’s call in the ministry. I choose to attend a conservative school because God calls us to see the face of Christ in all people, including those we disagree with. God calls us to love our neighbor and we don’t do that well enough. Conservatives are guilty of this. Liberals are guilty of this. In my politics I support liberal candidates and causes. However, I have to agree with Rev. Greg Boyd (Myth of A Christian Nation) that the way in which politics has come into the church is idolatry. The divide that is taking place in the Body over the political issues is not a divine one. God does not wish to see a divided church… (One Body…) I also have to strongly agree with Rev. Boyd on another key point: “America is not the light of the world; the light of the world is through Jesus.” It seems so simple that Christians should embrace this… Why is it so difficult?>



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Elaine

posted September 21, 2006 at 1:01 am


KEVIN STATED The goal of our economic policy should be to enable everyone to make as much money as possible, not about punishing the sinister (to use your word) top 1%. MY REPLY: Pretty words, now answer the question. Again, “Or, do you mean, ‘entitlement’ as the Christian Right’s proclamation, “We should give all the ‘entitlement’ power to the 1% white male elitist as they alone, know how to garner jobs?” KEVIN STATED: You say that I am lying to myself for saying that Clinton’s welfare reform act helped the poor. That’s namecalling, not evidence. Clinton certainly takes credit for the measure welfare reform MY REPLY: Oh Kevin, you re tired and rambling. I said no such thing. For the record, Clinton s welfare was pushed forth by conservative outrage and railing to the point that if he didn t do something they would have had another issue to use as a political football. Funny, how the so-called CHRIST-LIKE ones purposely forget to mention that oh so real, reality with regard to the CLINTON welfare reform. KEVIN STATED: w/r/t tax cuts, they have helped to reduce unemployment, and increase the GDP. That’s not a lie either. Beyond that, Bush has initiated a gigantic new entitlement (Medicare D). MY REPLY: Heh..heh, no fair showing your comedic skills to mask the fact that you conservative right wing, so-called Christian Right are hatemongers who targeted of all people, the very poor, wage earner, widow, fatherless of which Scripture repeatedly says God is the Father of and will get those who violate them in the deceptive way the so-called Christian Right has done. (Ps. 12:5; 10:14; 68:5; etc.). Nonetheless, we all get it Kevin, Clinton did it, Clinton did it! Uh-huh.>



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Anna Masterson

posted September 21, 2006 at 1:33 am


WHY do conservative Christians (CCs) focus so heavily on abortion & gays, to the exclusion of so many more? EASY answer. They can raise TONS of money focusing on these issues because they use these issues to SCARE people. I love when a gluttenous televangelist talks about gays being sinners. I guess you can’t raise a ton of money appealing to those who agree gluttony is a sin….>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 1:40 am


Steve, It is clear that I do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, nor believe it literally. I wonder if you would, had by the luck of the draw, you were born in a nation that was not Christian. Because those people believe in their faith as fervently as you do yours. And what makes you think that your belief is the only right one? The Bible? That becomes a circular argument. Literalist constantly use the Bible to prove itself. You make God too small. God is much larger than can be contained in one book. God alone knows our heart. I refuse to believe out of fear. The God I worship desires otherwise. I simply can no longer agree with your theology. I can no longer follow the kind of Christianity where God would ever allow evil to have the final word…for anyone of his children. Your concept of original sin doesn’t wash with my belief. God is the Creator. I don’t believe in eternal damnation, Satan (or any other malevalent spirits). The God I worship doesn’t either.>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:49 am


Ok I need to respond to the idea of tolerance. Tolerance is for the world we are called to love. Love is radical not this hollow empty tolerance crap. In the words of Chris Rock “We tolerate things we don’t like.” We are called to love. If Christians practiced the commandment to visit the prisoner… we would be in much better shape. p>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:00 am


Steve, Your theology is way off when it comes to describing the sonship of believers and non believers. The fact is Christ saved the world. He did and died and rose again. That’s it. Believing in him not merely his actions helps to make us aware of what he did but our belief is not necessary for God to save. The only thing that was and is still necessary for Christ to save is Christ himself. It’s that simple. If it were about anything we could do or say then we would be under the law. The fact is God can and will do what he wants when she wants to do it. No theology or understanding can determine how he will act. No amount of human wisdom or intelligence can begin to fathom his choices so please don’t speak to Kevin about something God alone will decide. Be careful when you speak even Michael the Archangel knew when to shut up when facing satan over Moses body so too should Christians when it comes to saying who will or will not go to Heaven. I wonder about this and I will say this very clearly. God requires our belief because it is love. To believe to trust is love, to love is to share in the divinity of Christ. It’s that simple all this other stuff you said is merely Christian theological rambling designed to give you a false confidence in standing on God’s word at the expense of removing condemnation. Your job on this world is to remove condemnation not heap more on people. Scot said: God has a kind of “wrath of abandonment” where he gives a person over to the lusts of their flesh, homosexual wickedness, etc, when they have rejected him repeatedly (read Romans 1). I do pray that you are not seeking to justify your sin by pretending to believe that God will just “reject our rejection.” That is a lie from hell, and I just hope you will seek His forgiveness for this if it is still possible for you. “Don’t be deceived” the scriptures warn repeatedly! Jesus said “Enter through the narrow gate, because broad is the path that leads to destruction and many are there that go that way.” Cry out to Him Kevin. God is rich in mercy. I think even if we start down the road of rejecting Him as He proclaims Himself to be, He will still forgive us – if we repent and come back to the narrow gate. But if we persist in our rejection of Him, we evidence that we never really had any desire to be a part of His family. The fact is God has a long history of rejecting our rejection and fighting in us for us. Have you not recieved the Holy Spirit? Have you not accepted Christ? That is God rejecting your already born rejected state. Have you read the prophets? Or is your theology so incomplete that you missed out on the very masters that trained and disciple both Christ and Paul, Peter, the Mary’s and the rest. The prophets whole theology is all about God rejecting our sinful rejected states and loving us in spite of ourselves. You really need to study your bible more. The fact is Kevin believes in Jesus. That belief justifies everything else. It is not for you to remind him of something God alone can judge. Jesus had the wisdom to not judge. Maybe you should follow him a little bit and choose out of that. p>



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Don Whitehead

posted September 21, 2006 at 3:27 pm


Does everyone know who Ralph Reed is ? I am so disappointed in Jim Wallis for this dialogue with the ‘enemy’. Despite his halo, Mr. Reed recently lost his election bid due to his acceptance of funds from gambling interests. Mr. Reed used these funds to organize Christians against a competing gambling interest ! Mr. Reed is also a co-founder with a rabbi of a Pro-Israel group that is really a cover for a Judeao-Chrstian supremacist organization. Mr. Reed is a racist political hack. Christ weeps, Mr. Wallis, for you having him on your blog ! Peace ! Don W.>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 4:52 pm


Payshun, What does it mean to “believe” in Jesus? I can say I believe in a parachute, but if I don’t put it on when I jump out of the plane I’m going to die. Many “believe” in Jesus, but don’t “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” with a saving faith that involves complete surrender of sin and self to Jesus. They believe in his existence and have a head knowledge that He “died for their sins” but they have not received Him personally as Lord and Savior. They want Him to be “Savior” but not Lord (master) – but the truth is He’s either both or neither. How do I know this? It says “by your fruits you will know them.” These are people who claim to be Christians but don’t obey His commandments. They are deceived. I point this out not to be judgmental but because I care about every person who claims to be a Christian but does not obey God. It’s like they are walking into a burning building and they say “It’s okay, I believe in firemen.” But keep walking right into the flames. I am saying “Hey – listen to the fireman – follow His orders, otherwise your going to burn man, He is saying turn around don’t go in there, please!” And if I didn’t warn in this way when I see it then the person who perishes will in part be my responsibility. 1John 2:4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. I agree that God rejects our rejection of Him for a time (we have all rejected God by sinning against Him). But if we persist in our rejection, there is a point where God abandons us. Read Romans 1 “Repent, or you will perish,” the scripture says. Repent means, stop rejecting God.>



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Clark Gabriel Field

posted September 21, 2006 at 4:52 pm


I am relieved to hear from Ralph Reed that the religious right are involved in a number of charitable/justice issues other than same sex marriage and abortion. But what is abundantly clear to me is that the Republican Party, consistently manipulates US voters with these two value issues before each election (With the blessing of the religious right?) — issues that the GOP does nothing about… but gain votes. I’m glad to hear from Ralph; however, someone will have to convince me that the religious right and the Republicans are not engaged in an unholy relationship, based on “power over.” Salam & Shalom, Clark G. Field>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:33 pm


Scott, No Repent means believe in my love. It does not mean stop from sinful action. The prodigal son did not stop from his sinful rejection of his father. As a matter of fact he was still sinful the minute he started to walk up to him. The father rushed and hugged him restoring him to greatness. He never was going to apologize to his father for what he did. The prodigal son did nothing to get his father’s love and acceptance. The coin did nothing to be searched for it while it was lost. The sheep was in a crevice doing nothing. THe point of those three parables is to show that man can do nothing get God’s love. They were lost and God saved them. The idea that God rejects mankind for their lack of obedience is heretical. Mankind rejects God, not the other way around. The land rejects man and man the land. God will then hear the land and remove mankind but He always saves some. THe only time he ever fully rejected mankind was during the flood myth. When Israel fell repeatedly and their nation was destroyed repeatedly he always saved some. when Peter sinned against Jesus and rejected him God the father saved him from his sinfullness. I understand that you are talking about blaspheming the holy spirit and anainais and Saphira did that in stunning fashion. But no where is there salvation ever in question. It’s their life that they forfeited and its foolish for any Christian to talk of standards of obedience when none of us will ever live up to them. I am mainly talking about sexual sin and the personal vices here. You really think that because you are slowly learning to obey God that God will count your deeds as righteousness and then and only then save you? Your deeds don’t make you righteous. Nothing you do will make you righteous. The spirit does that. Have you read Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel? Their theology is complete on how God saves and what his salvation looks like for mankind and the world. Ezekiel 36:24 reads for I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will Sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. v 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and a put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a hert of flesh. I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in My Statutes and you will be careful to observe my ordinances. I could get real personal here but I won’t. But the next time you fall into some sin that you have been doing for years ask yourself then was it your righteousness and attempts to stop that saved you or God’s grace? Cuz what you are saying doesn’t match up to how much God’s love saves. What you are saying weakens the depth to which God loves. That’s just not cool. p>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:40 pm


One more thing it sounds like Kevin is obeying Christ’s words to love the poor, abandoned and the weak. It sounds like Kevin is trying to be a loving human being and do best by his God just like you. Just because he may not live up to your standards or for that matter the bible’s standards of righteousness doesn’t mean that he loves God any less than you do. Jesus is indeed lord and Savior. Of that there is no doubt. Kevin has a complex/nuanced view of the scriptures. It doesn’t sound like you do. The fact is you don’t obey God’s commandments all too perfectly. Has he rejected you even though you are just as big a hypocrite as Kevin is? I know he has not so why then do you focus on Kevin’s obedience or lack thereof when your own is not perfect? p>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:44 pm


Early Christians followed Jesus as “the Way”. It wasn’t until a couple of centuries later that people began focusing on belief in Jesus the man, as Saviour instead of his Way to salvation. Christ himself advised that he came to show us the Way to the Father, life and salvation. He wasn’t it, his way was it. If we take up Christ’s mantle we are on “the Way”. Christ’s manifesto, the Sermon on the Mount, is the roadmap. Formulaic approaches to salvation miss the point, IMO. Instead of judging others because they don’t fit the “formula”, why not do as Jesus did and move from simple tolerance to acceptance. I love the wisdom of Chris Rock’s statement as stated by Payshun above. I believe we follow Jesus as we offer grace to those who we find the most unappealing and evil. Regarding Jim Wallis having discussion with Ralph Reed, I see no harm in this at all. On the contrary. Refusing to get into meaningful discussion with our “enemies” is not loving them, is it? How can we know the hearts of others and work toward reconciliation without attempting to understand them? How often are our mute assumptions wrong? We see the result of this kind of thinking everyday on the front pages of our newspapers and the soundbytes on newscasts. We can and must do better.>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:09 pm


Well to be fair there was a great deal of lengthy debate as to exactly what you are saying but they believed that Christ was one w/ the Father making him divine. Jesus even says so a few times. p>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:14 pm


Payshun, Everyone who names the name of Christ has imperfect obedience. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What Kevin is saying is saying is that God accepts everyone – no matter what they do. That is a common heresy known as universalism (all will be saved). The scriptures plainly teach that this is not the case. If we say we love God, but we don’t try to obey His commands in any way, or just live continually in some flagrant violation of His law (i.e. sexual sin) then we are deceiving ourselves and headed for judgment. Occasionally falling into even grievous sins – yes, a saved perosn can do this. But a saved person will not persist in willful sin day by day, month by month. Such a person who professes to be a Christian is only deceiving themself. Once again – continually the scriptures exhort us to obedience to God’s precepts – not to earn God’s favor, but as evidence of our love for God and trust in Him that He knows best. How do we know we are saved? 1 John 3:3-6 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. Hebrews 5:9 (speaking of Jesus) 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. I can’t convince you or Kevin of anything. Only the Lord Himself by His Spirit can lead us into all truth as we submit to Him. We each need to examine ourselves in light of the scripture as we prayerfully seek to know our Creator and what He expects of us as His creatures. This I do daily and am learning every day how to put to death my sinful tendencies and grow in holiness and obedience to my Lord who redeemed me from the way that leads to death. He loves us all very much – so much, that He will change us into righteous holy saints – not perfect, but following a gerneral pattern of obedience, if we repent and believe (trust) in Him. We must repent and believe (which means trust/surrender/obey) or we will perish the scriptures say. Jesus said “If you love me, obey my commands.” Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Romans 2:4-16 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness–indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. You said “Repent means to believe in God’s love.” That’s only part of it Payshun. Remember the parachute? I can believe in it but unless I respond with obedient faith (put on the parachute and trust that it will save me when I jump) then I am not going to make it. Repent means believe in God’s love AND respond to it by loving Him back. If we don’t obey God’s commandments, we are just mocking God’s love and treasuring up for ourselves wrath on the day of judgment.>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:27 pm


I try to avoid theological debate over things that we cannot and will never know for certain, in this life at least. I have found certainty in most ways to be a capricious notion. I have opinions, but everyone has those. History is the past viewed through a glass darkly. However, I believe I can trust my experience of God in my life. Indeed, it may be the only thing that is totally trustworthy. Some aspects of my belief remain personal, but my faith is not private. I don’t believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, but I do believe in their Truth. You have commmented that my view of the Bible is “complex/nuanced”. I must admit to that. I believe that God works his/her will for the creation through his/her creation, and therefore it will inevitably be “messy”.>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:42 pm


I know you can’t convince us of anything. neither am I trying to convince you of this. I know universalism and its a bit more complicated than what you described. Repent doesn’t mean loving him back. Repentance is accepting God’s love. No amount of right action can save us. Read the Prodigal son. Did he ever have the chance to love his father back? In case you did not know he did not. The father did not care. he loved him lavishly. When the older righteous brother was jealous and frustrated w/t love the Father showed his younger brother. The father then made a statement. His brother was alive again. It was about his brother being alive again not his actions and loving him back. No amount of us acting on God’s love will bring us salvation. Our obedience is from the deep belief that God loves. Our actions are a result of that. For they are one. Kevin does believe and it is only fit for one to judge him and where he is going and how he is going to get there and that’s not you. The next time you lust after a woman or masterbate or… are you going to hell for willfully indulging in sin you should not do? If you are then you are disobeying Christ’s commandment of not lusting after a woman in your heart and by the standards of the law you shall be put to death for the wages of sin are death. Sexual sin is a sin that we do against ourselves that can hurt other people. It is the only sin that is listed separately from all the others. So for you to bring it up in this context shows that you focus on verses that support your claim while ignoring how much God seems to wink at sexual impurity. From the old testament to the new God shows deep kindness toward the abuser and the abused. He forgave the prostitute even though she deserved stoning, winked at David’s sexual sin, did not destroy Solomon even though that man was a freak, redeemed Rahab the harlot and made her an ancestor of Jesus. I could keep listing points here and you will respond w/ counter points. That’s fine. If you ignore the poor, don’t visit the inmate, love the abuser then by Christ’s very own words you will be condemned. I cannot condemn you but by your own actions you will. I can play the bible pick up game too. I can show all the verses that support my point and show you the context that your verses speak of. Obedience comes from love. You got that right. But condemnation is something we are born into. Condemnation is something we are called to end. You don’t know Steve’s heart and where he stands with his God. You don’t. You don’t know God’s plans for him. But you still have not answered any of my questions. p>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:42 pm


Sorry I meant Kevin. p>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:58 pm


KevinK, You are right, the God you worship doesn’t believe in eternal damnation, Satan, or original sin, because the God you worship doesn’t exist. You have invented a God to suit yourself which is idolatry – the oldest sin in the book. Belief that the Bible is God’s Word is not a circular argument. Example: Volvo writes a manual for their car and you own a Volvo with the manual that the manufacturer gave you. You tell me it says in it to turn the ignition key forward two clicks until the engine starts. I could say to you “Kevin, I don’t believe that the maker of that car wrote that manual. Just because you said they did doesn’t mean they did, you’re using circular reasoning.” But my lack of belief in the Volvo manual doesn’t change the simple fact that Volvo did in fact write that manual and give it to you so you would know how to work the car properly. We can test its claims by doing what it says, and if when we trust what it says and obey it, we see results – then we have confirmation that the manufacturer indeed must have written it. That is “internal evidence” – or experiential evidence. The same goes for the Bible. We know it is from God not only because God said “all scripture is God breathed” but because when we put it into practice, it proves itself to be true – infallably. External evidence including the Bible being written by 40 men in at least 3 different languages most of whom didn’t know each other over a 1500 year period and having a perfectly consistent message is pretty hard to compete with. No other book can make such a claim. It is truly a supernatural book written by Almighty God Himself as His Spirit moved men to write it. Fulfilled prophecy is another area I could get into to prove the Bible’s infallibility. Look up Lee Strobel – a great book is “The Case for Christ” also “The Case for Faith.” The guy was an atheist who set out to disprove the Bible and Christianity and then became a Christian when he realized that Jesus was real, the Bible is from God, and is His infallible Word. Some parts of the Bible are meant as allegory to describe a deeper truth (parables, etc), but some parts are meant to be taken literally. All of it is God’s infallible and inerrant truth, but we need His help to undestand it and apply it to our lives. What if I were born in another nation that was not Christian? I would likely believe what I was taught. This does not change truth though. So, just because I am raised Muslim, that does not mean that Allah is who God is. God is plainly revealed in Creation (Psalm 119, Romans 1). All men have an “awareness” of God but don’t know Him because their sin separates them from Him. We need Jesus to bridge that gap. Whoever seeks to know God – whoever cries out – “God who are you really? – show me please!!” with an earnest and sincere heart – not just blindly following what they were taught, will find Jesus, no matter if they were raised Buddhist, Mulsim, Hindu, or whatever. There is only one name under heaven by which men may be saved – Jesus Christ. Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Primitive peoples have called out to the “Creator” whoever he is, and then days later, a boat landed with missionaries giving them Bibles. Is this a coincidence? I think not. That’s God’s providence – He will reveal who He really is and how things work (the manual for knowing Him and for life itself – the Bible) to whoever really seeks Him. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. God doesn’t want anyone to perish. We must repent (turn from serving sin and self to out of love serving God and others), or we will perish, the scriptures say. We are to serve God out of love, respect, and awe. He is to be greatly feared among the saints. Man doesn’t fear God as he should. This is a big part of his problem. Once we fear His very real wrath that IS coming, we have a chance to repent and enter into His family and be loved and known by Him. Then we will learn to love Him and respect Him (godly fear). Words of Jesus:Mt 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Job 28:28 And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ “>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:04 pm


Steve, I attempt (imperfectly to be sure) to place my total trust in the grace of God. You are correct that I do believe that it is God’s will to save all persons. I have total faith that his will be done. I don’t believe that Jesus must protect me from the wrath of my Father. I once believed as you do. My personal experience has transformed my former and closely-held beliefs. My experience as a father myself, has only served to strengthen my belief. God is perfect love. Perfect love would never condemn anyone for any reason to eternal damnation. Some attempt to prove the literal verity of Scripture through the Scripture itself. To me, that is unreasonable and an unfortunate misreading of it’s message. Being reared in a “Bible-believing” church, as well as serving to introduce me to Jesus, unfortunately also introduced me to intolerance, self-righteousness and the fear of God. I was a willing follower of that way for much of my life(even if uncomfortably). Fortunately, God intervened in my life with his marvelous grace and transformed my faith. I believe I am subject to judgment everyday. The final judgment will be an opportunity to review where I veered off the Way, and the overwhelming persistence of God’s grace in my life …not to review God’s ledger book and tally up my behavior with either a thumb’s up or a thumb’s down. As as sidenote, if you wish to understand a bit more about my personal belief, I could suggest a couple of books. “If Grace is True”, and “If God is Love”, both by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland (Quaker pastors). Not heavy theology, but full of God’s love and, I believe, truth. As a perennial student of religion, I have explored in depth, the underlying theology of their writings, but Gulley’s books offer a great distillation of the heavier stuff.>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:07 pm


You go Kevin. p>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:11 pm


Revertial awe and fear come when one faces the depths to which God Loves. It’s that simple. I won’t recommend this book for many but it is a great one. Try reading the Cloud of Unknowing and see where love is. It is in being w/ God not merely doing. It it were about our deeds there would have been no reason for Christ to come. p>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:18 pm


Payshun, I sense deep understanding in your comments, from one who has been deeply involved in the struggle and complexity of faith and life. These kinds of conversations, at a gut level, and from the heart are the kinds of conversations that have to take place in our broken world. Even though Steve and I have strong differences in our views of God, I can relate to his love of God. There is some common ground.>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:20 pm


Payshun, I agree that the prodigal son was loved unconditionally by his father and nothing he did changed that. But in order to be restored to his father and receive his fathers lavish love, the son had to “come to his senses” it says and stop eating pig slop (living in sin) and come home! If he stayed with the swine to eat “pods” and never came to his senses – would he have in fact “accepted his father’s love?” No! In order to accept his father’s love he had to drop the slop and come home to his father. Do you agree Payshun? I agree that repentance is as you say “accepting God’s love” – the way we accept his love is by “coming to our senses” getting out of the pig slop, and going home to our Father in heaven through Jesus. That is who we accept God’s love. When Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, His last words to her were – “go and sin no more.” And after he made a lame man walk, He also said “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” God loves us unconditionally, not based on performance. That does not mean that our sin doesn’t have consequences including condemnation for those who never repent. Yes – I believe God loves even the people He will consign to eternal hell – His holiness and perfect justice demand that He reject those who through their lack of love for Him as evidenced by their continued willful disobedience reject Him. God shows us mercy time and time again – this is the goodness of God which is designed to lead us to repentance. Repentance is an attitude of the heart that loves God and as a result does not want to offend him by sinning. It is an attitude that agrees that sin is wrong and dishonors God and leads to death. So if we really believe that, then we don’t want to sin anymore and we’ll fight against our sin as if our lives depend on it (they do). Does God forgive sexual sin? Of course! We’ve all done it. He forgives, and doesn’t want us to do it again! If we do will he forgive us again? Of course He will! That doesn’t change the fact that He doesn’t want us to keep doing it “lest a worse thing come upon us.” Peace,>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:29 pm


KevinK, I love you man. I condemn you not – I leave that up to God. We each have to make our own pilgrimage. Everything I said is because I care about you. I wept in prayer for you last night in my prayer time. May God bless you Kevin.>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:31 pm


Steve Well considering the son came to still live in sin then no I don’t agree w/ you. His sin was taking his inheritance and proclaiming his father’s death. he never repented of that ever. He did not come to his senses completely. He just did not want to eat pig slop. He still was dead. He never acknowledged what he did and was not even going to. All he was going to say was beg for a servants place in his father’s house. But the father in his love and wisdom saw his son restored to him despite the evil that he did. He did not come back expecting his father’s grace or forgiveness. The man was a fool. But the father, the father was love and wisdom. He restored a fool that settled for nothing more than servanthood even when he deserved nothing but death. I agree w/ what you say about sin and the worse thing coming upon you. I was living that last nite. but my father in his lavishness saved me from making a terrible mistake and restored me and healed a friend at the same time. The fact is by focusing on what we should be doing and what we are not doing we miss the boat. Let us focus on love and let that be the goal. p>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:37 pm


Kevin, Your comments touch my soul so thank you. I don’t deserve them. I am a wretch and I say that not because I hate myself but because its a fact. I say it openly because the more I proclaim my weakness the spirit dwells more powerfully in me. So again blessings and life. p>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:40 pm


Steve, The point is, that even if the son had not “come to his senses”, his father would never have stopped loving him. Ever. God loves us unconditionally, but…if we don’t repent, he will condemn us to damnation forever. If we replace “but” with “and” I believe we would be closer to the truth. God loves us unconditionally, and will never abandon us. You say that God has no reward and punishment system, however from your last comments it appears that you, in fact, do. You refer to God’s “holiness and perfect justice.” What is perfect about a justice that would subject a child to eternal torment for being incorrigible? Would you do that to your child? How much more loving is God than you? I admit to having little patience with that kind of retributive justice. That brand of Christianity has justified untold suffering on this world. As for Holiness…holiness is God’s absolutely unconditional, unquenchable and persistent love. Sin is a condition, not a sentence.>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:49 pm


steve, “Is it only wrong if you believe it is wrong? No. “Where do we draw the line?” At the point of one person’s words or actions cauing HARM to another. ALL of your examples cause HARM, which is WHY they are wrong. P.S. What version of the Bible are you quoting from. The word “homosexual” was only coined about a hundred years ago. I’ve heard that only 2 versions that attempted to use that word, and one later apologized. curiouser and curiouser… Steve’s response: That was NKJV. The word homosexuals was originally translated “Sodomite.” The word describes the men engaged in homosexual sin in the city of Sodom which was destroyed by God for its gross wickedness including both heterosexual and homosexual lust. …and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 2Pe 2:6 …as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 1:7 It is not only homosexual sin that invites God’s wrath (Jesus said “whosoever looks at a woman to lust after her has commited adulter with her already in his heart). But since you asked, the Bible most explicitly describes God’s disapproval of homosexual sin in Romans chapter 1:24-32: 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, F4 unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Sexual sin causes harm to oneself and others around us – though we might like to fool ourselves into thinking it is okay because it feels so good (yup – sin is pleasurable, but leads to death). How does it cause harm? It dishonors God and self by going against the indended use of our bodies. You may not like the idea that God knows best how we are to use our body, but He made us – He ought to know. If we rebel for so long, the Bible says “our conscience becomes seared like a hot iron” so we no longer believe it is wrong (but it still is). If we go that far, we are in grave danger. There is still hope for anyone trapped in sexual sin. They must repent, and trust in Jesus Christ. His blood will cleanse us of all unrighteousness and give us a clear conscience before God along with the power to obey God and be free from the sinful passions that blind us from who God really is and enslave us. Peace,>



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Payshun

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:02 pm


Steve, You’re being silly again. God doesn’t destroy cities and nations for sexual sin and Sodom and Gomorah were destroyed for not showing justice. You need to read the bible more. I tell you now that there were other nations involved in heterosexual and homosexual sex. Rome and Egypt lasted for centuries despite the fact that incest happened among its royalty and murder was the norm. The same thing could be said for all the royal families of europe. Again I tell you sexual sin does destroy especially promoscuity and other things. But they destroy the people that do them and the victims of them. I should know its taken me years to overcome the molestation down to me and yet God has given me the grace and love necessary to forgive and move on with my life. I still have issues and am working thru stuff but again who isn’t? They were not touched. Even Christ said that it would have been better for Sodom in his day because they would have believed on his word more than Israel so you might want to be careful more. God only destroys nations for huge sin like say genocide, trampling the poor… p>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:10 pm


Kevin, Heaven and hell are not sentences. They are places – final destinations. Both real and final. A more truthful way to put that statement is: God loves us unconditionally, AND…if we don’t repent, he will condemn us to damnation forever. Not willingly, but because we refuse His grace. Grace is offered and must be accepted through saving faith in Christ evidenced by obedience to the gospel. It says God takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. Yet it does not say he will not destroy the wicked. Eternal destruction is not annihilation. I don’t want to argue this point. I just state it as I understand the Bible. God is love yes, love confronts wrong behavior and helps one to see the error of their ways – giving them another chance – many chances even, to do the right thing. God will forgive all our sin if we come to Jesus – more than that though, He wants our hearts. He wants our love. If we don’t obey Him, we don’t love Him. No one obeys perfectly, but if we know Him and love Him we will obey. God is holy – perfectly set apart and without sin (As a pefect being He can’t violate His own righteous character). We must also be made holy or we will never see Him or know Him. We are made holy by faith in the sinless Son of God Jesus Christ and His sacrifice of Himself on the cross and His resurrection. God wants a relationship with us – this is only possible as we lay down our sin and come to Him on His terms – He does not force us. We must come to our senses. Some will, some won’t. Why? I am not smart enough to answer that. I only know what God has revealed to me personally through prayerful reading of His Word. And this I will faithfully live and proclaim. Living for Jesus,>



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Steven Riggs

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:35 pm


Ralph, I know your techniques from a mile away. You immediately label anyone who doesn’t agree with you a “liberal” because you know your followers have been conditioned to dislike liberals and stop listening. But, your group has stolen the word conservative and twisted it into something it isn’t. More importantly, when I ran for office your Christian Coalition, an effective political organization, endorsed the Republican candidate even though I was considered “Pro-Family” by many. I beat your endorsed candidate soundly in a Republican district! The problem is your folks believe they can usher in the kingdom of God by endorsing candidates (mostly far right). This splits the community of faith and makes go backwards. All candidates are fallible. The guy you all endorsed got in serious trouble with the law six months after your endorsement. He sexually molested six little girls at the mega-church who helped you. Now he is sentenced to 50 years in prison. I forgive you Ralph. But, never endorse candidates or parties again.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 21, 2006 at 9:37 pm


Sure a lot of Bible quotes and talk of “Sin” here. For those of you who do this, a question: Since America is NOT a theocracy, since America has freedom of (and from) religion, please tell us why YOUR religious beliefs trump those who are not of your faith? Why should YOUR religious beliefs be forced on others? Why should THEY become law, and not, say, the religious tenets of the Buddhists? Jains? Universalist/Unitarians? The Quakers? Pagans? Muslims? Mennonites? Etc. You sound like God’s bullies more than God’s followers to me.>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:42 pm


Curiouser… America is not a theocracy (thank God!). Christianity (or any other religion)should never be forced on anyone. Hence, the reason why specific religious viewpoints must not hold sway when it comes to constructing legislation. No religion should ever become the law of the land (or we would be a theocracy), although it would be naive to think that those governing would not be informed by their faith values when legislating. The policy of separation of church and state was conceived by our founders to make sure this never happened. Those who believe that this country was founded as a Christian nation should review history more closely. I say this being a Christian myself.>



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mw

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:53 pm


About being “pro-life.” Hmmmm. I see life being destroyed everywhere, every day, that we as Christians don’t do a thing about. I see lives destroyed in Iraq, in Africa and in our own country. Some of the death comes directly as a result of US policy, some indirectly. Some of it doesn’t have a thing to do with us, but we could probably stop it we wanted to. We’re tough and powerful, right? And our president really listens to God. Yet, the only “lives” that “pro-life” Christians seem to care about are the unrealized ones – the lives of people not close to being born, or people who are so ill that death may actually come as a blessing? I work in the social services field, and every day I consider again the vast numbers of children in this country – half a million each year – in foster care. Some of them are damaged beyond belief. They’ll never be adopted; no one wants them. Add to these kids the much larger number languishing in poor homes, in drug-riddled and violent neighborhoods, with parents who can barely get though the day, let alone provide adequate care for their children. They’re real, living human beings, already manifested in actual flesh. And yet, we hear breast-beating about Terri Schiavo and the unborn. Civilians dying in Iraq? The impoverished children dying a spiritual death in our own country? They’re not sexy enough, I guess, to make good religious theater.>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:55 pm


Payshun, The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were many and varied to be sure, but the Bible specifically mentions sexual sin as one of the key symptoms of the fallen rebellious hearts living in those cities and as a key reason for their destruction. What does the word sodomy mean? Why do you suppose we even have the word sodomy in our language (where does the word originate)? Jude 1:7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:13 pm


You know, mw, as you point out, the solutions are not so clear-cut are they. You encounter daily, the narrow view of the Right-to-Life folks. Abortion is a symptom of a much deeper dilemma. I am certain that many abortions are for the sake of convenience or as after-the-fact birth control, but the problem is much more complex than it appears on the surface. Your comments are compelling and worthy of our deepest thought and support. May God bless your efforts.>



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Steve

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:33 pm


Kevin, I looked up the Phillip Gulley book you mentioned (If Grace is True) and the first review on Amazon says it all: “When I ordered this book, I had hoped it would give me a good, solid Biblical argument for universalism; not only presenting scriptures that seem to support that position, but also giving an explanation of scriptures that explicitly go against the universalist doctrine. This is not that book. Here is how the book deals with seemingly anti-univeralist scriptures: it simply says those scriptures are wrong. So much for wrestling with the text. The authors make no pretense of accepting the Bible as the Word of God, well, that is unless it’s those passages that seem to support their position. Instead, “experience” takes precedent over scripture. That’s pretty dangerous ground. And if there was any chance in me being won over to the authors’ position, it totally went south when later in the book they explicitly denied the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and the substitutionary atonement. About the only thing that distinguishes the authors from the most radical liberal is their belief in Jesus’ literal resurrection. I would love to be a universalist, but there are too many scriptures, even from the mouth of Jesus, that teach just the opposite. I gave this book a chance to convince me, and it failed miserably. – Tom Hinkle” Steve’s comment: the key here is – “experience” takes precedent over scripture. Indeed feelings alone are as Tom says “dangerous ground” to be on. Feelings are not necessarily grounded in truth. You said in one post that you don’t believe that the Bible is inerrant, but you believe that it is Truth. How is it Truth if it contains errors? What part is true and what isn’t? Can we pick and choose? If God wrote it and God is perfect, do you think He made some mistakes? Do you think God wrote any of it? How can we know which parts? Just whatever you feel He wrote? If God didn’t write any of it, then what’s the point of it? You also mentioned that God will review your life to show you where you veered off the “way.” What is the way? Are you sure it’s God’s way or is it just your way? If it was just your way and not God’s what will you do when Jesus says “Depart from me, I never knew you, doer of iniquity?” What are you doing when you “veer off?” And how do you get back on? I get the idea you are espousing a “live and let live” type of attitude. Free love – God is all love and no justice. Love everybody and if nobody is offended or “harmed” (at least according to Kevin’s definition of “harm”), then everything is cool right? The problem with that is that God’s standard of right and wrong is not the same as man’s. We can be nice people but still be living a life far from God – even while claiming to know Him. Let me ask you this Kevin. Should God punish evil? And if so, how? Do you believe we should try to stop people from committiing crimes? What should we do with say a serial killer or a repeat offender rapist? Also, how do you think we know right from wrong? Where does that standard come from – from God – or do we each do what we “feel” is right even if those ideas conflict? Perhaps the most important question is – who is God? How can we know Him? How can we be sure it is Him we claim to know and not just a fancy of our own invention in our minds? Does God answer your prayers? If so, how? God answers me most directly even acting on my behalf and reveals Himself more experientally as I obey Him more. Experiencing God is fine as long it is really the one true God in Christ. And this experience will not contrdict His character as He has revealed Himself to us in the Holy Scriptures. If all will be saved, why evangelize? What is it that Jesus died to save people from Kevin? If hell is not real, why did Jesus warn us so often about hell and desperately plead with us not to fear man who can destroy the body but instead to fear God who can destroy both the body and soul in hell? Why did Jesus say these things Kevin? Why didn’t He just say “love God and love your neighbor” and leave it at that? Is it not love to warn people that they are headed for disaster? If we just sit back and say “no one will go to hell” when in reality they will isn’t that the most grievous form of negligence? God’s justice is not the same as human justice. Vengeance is mine I will repay, sayeth the Lord. He’s going to repay! It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God man! Not fire and brimstone, but love! A love that warns, pleads, and endures wrath in the place of those who deserve it, but only for those who truly want the gift of forgiveness no matter the cost. If He died for us so all would be saved, then why did He bother warning us “flee the wrath to come?” Why didn’t He just say – it’s taken care of guys. Don’t worry – you’ll all make it – just try to get along with each other as best you can for now. He didn’t say that because it isn’t true!!! Who is Jesus? And what did He do for you? And why? You only need to answer the above questions for yourself. I don’t expect a response as it would be volumes to answer. Just hope and pray that God might use this to get you and others reading this prayerfully thinking.>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:52 pm


Steve, I think it time that we simply agree to disagree. May God bless and keep you.>



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Payshun

posted September 22, 2006 at 2:26 am


Again Steve read your bible more clearly. Ezekiel 16:49-50. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haugty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it. The first thing God mentions here is not caring for the poor and needy and out of their greed they did horrible things like trying to gang rape people. Again God could and should have destroyed Israel when the same thing happened again in Judges but instead he allowed for a civil war between them. The story happens again. Yet the same thing occurs. For all this emphasis on puritancial ideas of sexual sin you really have no idea about the riches of God’s grace toward broken people if you did you would not be preaching hell you would be preaching freedom. Steve, You have never seen heaven and you don’t know what hell is. Has God in his love given you visions or transported you in his spirit to the holy temple? has God in his love seen fit to show you the gaping chasm and the separation between the two states of being? Has God revealed himself to you past what you read in the scriptures? My guess is not. I could be wrong and forgive me if I am but all you are doing ultimately is hiding behind the bible. You are using it to enslave people to legalism and you don’t even realize it. Christ and John were right when he says obedience is key but obedience w/o trust is legalism. For all this talk and rebuke you have shown that you trust your knowledge of the scriptures more than experiencing the living God. Guess what man that’s gnostic and heretical. The scriptures are given to lead us into experience w/ the Holy Spirit so that we can live in union with the Father. That’s the goal. What you are doing is not the goal. What you are doing is judgemental and self righteous. You have the greatest of intentions but what’s the saying again. The Road to hell is paved with good intentions. You have a great heart and there is knowledge in it but knowledge w/o grace and love is nothing but clanging cymbal. Stop worshipping the bible and worship the living one written in its pages. p>



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Payshun

posted September 22, 2006 at 2:29 am


Before you say anything I have to say this I am not righteous. As a mattter of fact I am broken beyond measure. No act I do will ever make me righteous. Only trusting in God covers me in his righteousness. That is all. p>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:09 pm


Payshun, I, like you, am no saint. Just when I think I see a halo in the mirror, it turns out to be mist from the shower. When I think I can soar with the angels, I find my wings have arthritis and my flight path is wayward. In all seriousness, it has been in my brokenness and life’s low spots that I have experienced God’s persistent grace.>



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Anonymous

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:13 pm


There are many logical fallacies besides the “strawman” argument. Unfortunately, Mr. Reed uses many of them. I accept that many Christians, conservative and liberal in political orientation and belief, support a broad range of social justice issues. But, it is still true that the wedge issues of abortion and marriage are used as the litmus tests. All else falls by the wayside. That is intentional in the Republican Party leadership, which has appealed to and found willing and active partners in the faith community to make these matters into wedge issues and the only focus of debate and choice. In addition to this, many who could be described as ‘conservative’ have requested respectful dialogue, while using false ‘either/or’ choices and ad hominem attacks on the integrity, character and motives of those they opposed. To call someone a name, present a false choice and then call for respectful and reasonable dialogue is hypocritical. It prevents the very thing you say you want, Mr. Reed. And it works. It separates us. We stop acting as neighbors and divide into opposing camps. I have found myself angered and put off by such alleged “dialogue” over important social and religious issues as abortion. As most Americans, I am troubled by abortion. But I can’t find any sincere debate at your level of Political-Religious discussion. It is sad. Many do yearn for genuine dialogue among those who claim and seek leadership. A debate that does not unite us will not lead to laws that have a useful life span.>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:46 pm


Anonymous, Thoughtful and insightful. Many of us do yearn for genuine dialogue. Why is it so elusive?>



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Payshun

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:27 pm


Then let’s stop the cycle and begin now. Kevin I am in the same boat. p>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:55 pm


What are the impediments to genuine dialogue? Why would those who are influential avoid having them? Let’s list some possibilities: 1. Intellectual laziness 2. Don’t see a problem. 3. Sense of hopelessness. 4. May put them at cross purposes with their true motives. 5. Lack of knowledge of the issue. 6. Don’t really care. 7. Position compromised due to commitments made that could conflict. 8. Ideological differences(worldview) Any others come to mind? How can we engage others who may be subject to one or more of these impediments. How can we bridge the gap.>



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Payshun

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:28 pm


Don’t forget fear. Fear and apathy are the two biggest hinderances. p>



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Al

posted September 26, 2006 at 12:22 am


I agree>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 1:03 am


Yeah, they are a problem. Passionate leadership can snap the cycle of apathy…and fear as well.>



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JG

posted September 28, 2006 at 7:02 pm


“Here are some hard numbers: The number of live births each year (in recent years) has been about 4 million, and the number of abortions has been about 1.3 million per year. I don’t see any evidence that Reed is “spinning the numbers” . . .” Got any elementary reproductive biology? 65% of all pregnancies are spontaneously aborted by the body of the mother, usually before any signs of pregnancy (other than morning sickness, perhaps) are extant. Add stillbirths–the number of which I don’t have at my fingertips–and the 1 in 4 figure is certainly being spun. Lies, damn lies, and statistics, as they say. Sorry for the late response to the above quoted post, but I joined this conversation late, and scrolled through.>



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JG

posted September 28, 2006 at 7:06 pm


Let me append my above post–the original abortion statistic reference was to 1 in 4 pregnancies. The quoted poster used a familiar conservative tactic fondly known as “moving the goalpost” by citing statistics related to abortions vs live births. Dishonest.>



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KevinK

posted September 28, 2006 at 11:14 pm


The rate of abortions has been in decline in America…without indiscriminate and intrusive legislation. This ought to be great news for us all.>



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gurufrisbee

posted October 13, 2006 at 10:45 pm


1) Don’t say you are “pro-life” as you push for the continued slaughtering of Iraqis and as you lead the on going support of the death penalty killings. 2)Don’t say you are “pro-family” when you don’t do all you can to see middle class families get the majority of the tax breaks, or to see that the environment is as healthy and preserved as possible, or to see that education is as well funded and logically supported as possible, or to see guns being taken out of private homes and away from vulnerable children. The world is a bigger place than just abortion and gay marriage and stem cell reseach and it’s long overdue for ALL Christians to wake up and realize that.>



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