The New Christians

The New Christians


Comment(s) of the Day

posted by Tony Jones

As usual, lots and lots of mean-spirited commentary around GLBT issues here yesterday, but a couple of poignant comments stuck out under yesterday’s Comment of the Day and Sunday’s Announcing Queermergent. First, Kristi:

done talking? done listening? i don’t understand what preson is done doing, i guess.

and after looking at the original post, i do see that you were merely posting a link to someone, not giving your opinion on it.

i just chatted for an hour yesterday with a childhood friend who is
a christian and who is currently raising her 3 kids with a girlfriend
and is still recovering from a horribly abusive marriage. i have
already been working on trying to love people where they are, but this
has seriously challenged my thinking regarding people who are living
differently from me.

right now, i am just torn apart that she has had to endure a life of
abuse and suffering, and i’m also confused because what i would want to
label as wrong based on my upbringing, i see as an extremely healthy
and safe life for her and her children compared with the “hetero” life
she was leading before.

so this leads me to think: we should not worry about alienating
people who are already part of this conversation, part of the in crowd;
we should be worried and focused on trying not to alienate people who
are part of the out crowd, bringing people together to further
conversation. no one said we have to be accepting of everything
everyone says or does. but neither do we need to sit in condemnation
over people.

it’s not our jobs to decide what kind of faith people are living out
in their lives. i, for one, am relieved that God is the One who does
all the work in that department.


Next, Mark:

To all who have been posting, I am a gay male. I was born gay, by God.
I did not have a domineering mother nor a passive father.
I was not sexually abused by a male at an early age.
I was not raised as a girl.
My family life was essentially like “Father Knows Best” – the perfect example of a nuclear family.
I grew up going to church each Sunday.
I was popular and dated girls in school.
Every part of my life supported and promoted a heterosexual life.

In my late 20’s, I realized I was not a heterosexual. I sought out
counseling and prayed to God to “take this cup away”. Fortunately, I
had a loving family and supportive group of friends. I avoided the
pitfalls (and escapism) of alcoholism and drugs.

I am a medical professional who has been in a 17 year old relationship with another man, whom I love dearly.

God does not abhor me, He does not condemn who I am, He blesses my life every day and is a constant presence.



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Blake Huggins

posted January 21, 2009 at 11:00 am


Wow. That’s powerful.



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Preson

posted January 21, 2009 at 1:46 pm


That was interesting to see my comment thought of as “outrage”, and then to see the explanation of “we’re not promoting it, we are just announcing it”.
Also Tony’s (somewhat snide) remark of “simply acknowledging the existence of a gay Christian” (of which there are several in our church) was adorable.
Nobodies outraged (I’m actually a little buzzed). It it helps, read the comments with a teletubby voice. Maybe that will sooth.
First things first: what is the definition of “promoting”? Is it not announcing? If I stand up in a place of influence and “announce” a gathering or a new this-or-that… am I not promoting it? Can something be promoted without being announced? I know that “Joe the Pastor” said I am just some fundamentalist trying to have my cake and eat it too… I would forward that over to those who would like to announce things without promoting them (sort of a “I’m trying to play both sides of the issue without actually having an opinion so I’m still cool with everyone… right?”).
Are we really defined by our actions in that sense? Namely calling people who practice homosexuality “homosexuals”. This is an issue that I have wrestled with. I have wrestled and prayed and sought… and firmly believe (ALERT… I am about to be shunned for coming to an actual decision on something!!!) that this is a destructive behavior… it promises what it cannot deliver (namely, a healthy purpose filled sexual relationship). And here’s part of the puzzle:
I came to find that someone whom I support in ministry monetarily and through discipleship struggled with homosexuality. They had studied the scriptures for themselves and had come to the conclusion that they desired to live a holy life and have holy heterosexual relations (their words not mine). All it really takes to discourage someone in that way is for someone to tell them “God doesn’t want you to change”. The answer I heard was “How can God be pleased with the way that I am, when I am not even pleased with the way I am?”
Is the answer to help people feel better about who they are? Or is it about helping them become what they know God wants them to be (for THEIR OWN happiness, not His).
If you tell the man who has destroyed his own life (through whatever vice) that God doesn’t want to change him, he will want nothing to do with God because he can’t even stand who he himself is. He WANTS a God who will change him.
Why is it okay to tell an entire conservative generation that they need to change, to look at things differently… and then in the next breath tell everyone else that they just need to be “okay with who God made them”. Don’t we all need to change?
Isn’t that the story of God? The one who changes us despite how happy we are with who we are?
So what is it? Are we encouraging change? Emergence? Or do we just want people to emerge out of fundamentalism (but beyond that, keep the change)?
Color me disillusioned.



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Rob

posted January 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm


thanks for those words Kristi. One thing that I would like to challenge though is the sense I get that your friend’s “hetero” abusive marriage was wrong because it was “hetero”. I understand that leaving that abusive relationship was needed and necessary, and I’m glad that she has found comfort and relief, but I think there is a false underlying assumption there that the relationship was wrong because it was abusive AND “hetero”. Why else point it out? Abuse can happen between anyone, within any relationship, and is not the sole domain of the heterosexual community.



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jesinrhineland

posted January 21, 2009 at 4:19 pm


I know I could not begin to condemn someone for their sexual orientation when there is so much sin in my own life that needs to be sorted through. I am not sure about this condemnation and what God thinks of the issue but I believe everyone should have a place to begin to sort out their salvation. That place should be the open door of the church.



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Florin Paladie

posted January 21, 2009 at 4:23 pm


Tony,
good selection of poignant comments. They definitely bring some points we need to carefully and prayerfully reflect on.



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Your Name

posted January 21, 2009 at 4:25 pm


I am always confused by Christians who give and take away with a grace that is not theirs to give. Ultimately grace is a blood bought asset of God alone. I find it interesting that many American Christians have the nasty habit of ignoring Jesus’ ministry to those who were considered unclean, or outside of ‘normal society’. Jesus had no issue breaking bread and meeting people where they were at. What I found interesting is that in many cases the persons actual healing was something totally irrelavant to what one might suspect.
As Christians we have NO RIGHT or PRIVILEDGE to judge. Our role is to be Christ in the world letting them know that the kingdom is at hand and that God blood bought sacrifice is enough to cover all. Getting people to love one another is hard enough. Getting people to interact with everyone regardless of who they are as people worthy of God’s love and thus our love as well is harder than judging the behavior itself.
Lets remember though that Jesus argues in a parable of the adulterating woman that we who judge should beware lest we who are of equal or greater sin find ourselves in trouble. If in doubt love.



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kristi

posted January 21, 2009 at 5:20 pm


hi rob, just to clarify, no i wasn’t thinking that her marriage was wrong because it was hetero. i was trying to point out that as uncomfortable as i feel about the fact that she has a girlfriend now, i am torn between wanting to think “oh, that’s wrong” and thinking, “wow, i can understand why she would want to run away from men and be with a woman.”
just didn’t want you thinking that i was having that train of thought…



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panthera

posted January 22, 2009 at 12:02 am


Preson,
Your assumption that homosexuals are incapable of satisfying loving relationships is incorrect.
I am not the only gay man in a monogamous, committed (outside of the US, married) relationship. There are many of us, gay and lesbian.
Perhaps your assumption is based on the false information disseminated by so many fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative/followers-of-ancient-creed’s Christian groups. Perhaps it is true ignorance of what medicine and science have long since shown: We are neither disordered nor in any way abnormal or incapable of forming loving relationships.
Whatever the reason, your assumptions are false. Demonstrably so.



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Tony Jones

posted January 22, 2009 at 7:55 am


Preson:
I understand what you’re saying, but I do think that a blog is a bit different vehicle. When I stand up and announce a gathering or an event in our church worship gathering, I am clearly trying to promote it. However, I find that lots of bloggers (take, for instance, Andrew Sullivan) point to other posts and news items with which they agree and disagree. I’ve been known to link to Justin Taylor on occasion, as well as others with whom I disagree.
That being said, I do know and like Adele. And, regardless of my feelings on GLBT issues, theological and otherwise, I am glad that she has created a space within the emergent landscape for a group of persons to feel safe to discuss theological and other issues. As someone else noted, you don’t really get to hang around emergent and be open to conversation…except when the persons with whom you disagree show up, and then you’re out. If that’s the case, then I suspect that you were never really “in.”



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Your Name

posted January 22, 2009 at 10:11 am


whatever happened to you Same Sex dialog with your friend, I am very interested in hearing both of your takes on the issue.



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Joel

posted January 22, 2009 at 11:17 am


Why is this the one sin listed in the Bible that people take on personally? Of all other things listed in the Bible as sin, this seems to be the one that people attempt to defend. Alcoholics, for instance, don’t attempt to say, “Accept us as we are, it’s a genetic thing.” What do we tell alcoholics, even if their condition is biological/genetic? We tell them to avoid alcohol.
Likewise, even if people are born gay, why must we promote that they be in relationships?
To me, this undercuts the entire viewpoint of marriage within God’s economy. Now maybe God is changing, maybe He’s changing His mind on things. Maybe what He once viewed as a sin He now finds perfectly natural. Of course, if God is changing then I’d say we have quite a bit to worry about; who’s to say He won’t change His mind about grace?
Now, of course, none of this justifies the “offish” attitudes that conservative Christians have toward homosexuals. As I said, homosexuality is listed as other sins in the Bible, some of which are accepted in conservative churches (mean-spirited, gossip, arrogance, etc). However, I see the reaction to these attitudes – the acceptance of the lifestyle – as quite perplexing and an overreaction in the end.



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Panthera

posted January 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm


Joel,
Nobody is asking you to promote my SSM. All we are asking is that you stop discriminating against us in the secular sector.
Have you stopped to consider that condemning me to a life of solitude, although you admit the possibility that my being gay is part of God’s plan is really a very viscous, de-humanizing thing to do?



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Joel

posted January 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm


I fail to see how it is discrimination if the act is wrong. Just as I believe there should be harsh penalties for adultery, I also believe that homosexuals should not be allowed to wed. Both acts are wrong and against virtue and therefore shouldn’t be allowed.
Likewise, where did I say it was a part of God’s plan? Genetic defects and biological weaknesses aren’t part of God’s plan (though they can be used in it), they are a part of our sinful nature. If a man has a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, he shouldn’t drink his life away because “God made him that way.” Instead, we live in a fallen world that will always leave us with “faulty wiring” in some way. Likewise, just because someone is predisposed to homosexuality doesn’t mean that person has to engage in it.
Furthermore, the only dehumanizing act done is when you have sex with a member of your gender (or even of the opposite gender if it’s outside of the proper confines). When we sin, especially against our bodies, THAT is when we are being dehumanizing.



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Panthera

posted January 22, 2009 at 7:46 pm


Joel,
There is no basis for discourse between us. You perverted God’s word to justify your hatred.
At this point, I think the oft asked question here: Why don’t more gays participate? has been answered. There is no possible discussion with people who reject science and medicine, replacing them with cherry-picked verses from the Bible which the pervert to meet their hateful purposes.
I am glad that your reign of terror has ended, now those of us who are capable of love must use this window of opportunity to undo the harm to civil and human rights you perpetrated over the last eight years.
Joel, you had best hope that God is more merciful to you than you have been to your fellow Christians who are gay.



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Joel

posted January 24, 2009 at 10:55 am


The problem is your argument is illogical. By attacking me and ascribing motives to my belief without first finding out if said motives are true, you’re able to dismiss my entire argumentation without actually having to deal with it. If someone came out and said, “I don’t like Ford cars, they’re not made well” and a Ford executive responded, “Well, that’s because he actually hates America, so he’s just trying to justify his hatred,” then everyone would look at the exec in quite a perplexed way. The reason is his argument is completely abusive ad hominem and a non sequitur.
Likewise, your response to me is equally both. You attack me (abusive ad hominem) by ascribing motives to me that do not follow from what I said (non sequitur). I also said alcoholism is a sin, so is fornication, adultery, and the list goes on. Now, do I hate every single person who engages in those acts? If I call something a sin and say that living in that sin is unacceptable, does that necessitate that I hate that person? When I say, “You shouldn’t do that because it’s wrong” am I just saying, “I hate you”?
No, instead you’re basing your argument (whether wittingly or not) off of the Nietzschean view of ethics. He taught (as many have after him) that we say something is moral – or immoral – based upon our own tastes and cultural upbringings. Of course, this ignores the fact that in Christianity we declare many things immoral that we also prefer to do (like getting drunk…I wish that wasn’t a sin, but it is). Thus, when I read the Bible and see what God says about homosexuality (along with a handful of other sexual sins that the church just doesn’t seem as fervent about, which is wrong), there’s a huge part of me that wishes it wasn’t a sin.
You see, my high school years were formulated by two different cultures – the drama department and the the debate/forensics department. If you’re not aware, both of those traditionally have many homosexuals in them. I became friends with many homosexuals and even after I came to Christ well after graduating, I kept those friendships up (still do with some). Now why is that? Is it because I have some hope that I’ll turn them from their “Sodomite ways and to the light of heterosexual Jesus”? No, of course not. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see them abandon the lifestyles they’re living, but I’m friends with them because they are human. I’m friends with people who are dedicated to getting nothing but pleasure out of life, to drinking the night away, to doing drugs, guys who are violent, and homosexuals. I think all of the above is sinful, but I don’t hate anyone.
So my question to you is simple: Why is it whenever someone says, “I disagree with homosexuality and the Bible is very clear about how God feels about it” you ascribe that to hatred? You’re right, we can’t discuss this issue quite simply because anyone who disagrees with you is automatically labeled a “hater” and has to hope for God’s mercy (do you see the irony?). The verses aren’t cherry-picked either – it’s quite clear that God is against the act of homosexuality. That’s just the way it is, because you’ve made your sin such a part of your identity, anyone who challenges that sin – in your mind – is automatically challenging you. All I’m doing is calling sin what it is, but also acknowledging that we all struggle with it in differing forms. What is so hateful about that?



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Joel

posted January 24, 2009 at 11:01 am


Also, one thing to add – science hasn’t proven anything on the morality side. It hasn’t even proven that homosexual behavior is genetic/biological. However, even if we assume it is that means nothing. There is nothing saying you have to act on that tendency. There are people who are genetically and/or biologically predisposed to drug use due to what their mothers did while the people were in the wombs. There are people who are predisposed to alcoholism. There are people that are predisposed to anger and violence. None of this, however, justifies acting on those predispositions. We don’t give drugs to the person predisposed to drug use, nor do we give alcohol to the alcoholic or simply brush aside a violent man’s anger.
Science and medicine literally mean nothing in this discussion. To say that we HAVE to follow our genetic dispositions is hard determinism, likewise we would have to accept any actions suspected or shown to belong to genetics. Thus, if a man rapes a woman, but it is shown that there is a history of rape in his family, we could hardly blame him or put him in jail just for acting out on his genes. If a man kills someone in a drunk driving accident, but we see that alcoholism runs in his family, then why punish him for being who he is? Do you see where this line of thinking takes you?



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