The New Christians

The New Christians


Breaking News: Rod Will Debate Same Sex Marriage

posted by Tony Jones
blogalogue_bar.jpg

It just turns out that he won’t debate it with me.

Last fall, Rod and I agreed, at the behest of our then-editor, Patton Dodd, to hold a friendly “blogalogue” on same sex marriage.  It was in the aftermath of California’s Prop 8 passage.  I went to Dallas and met Rod, and even shot this video on his front porch. 

We started earnestly but quickly petered out.  I wrote, Rod didn’t respond.

When we finally reconnected, Rod said that he’d decided to bow out. The antagonistic comments on his blog were too much, he confessed, and he just couldn’t keep the pace with deleting all of those that didn’t meet his standard for civility.
Well, Rod has jumped back into the fray.  But not with me.  With Andrew Sullivan.

Now, listen, I don’t begrudge Rod his right to blogalogue with Andrew instead of me.  All of us in the blogosphere know that an inbound link from Sullivan is, “Gold, Jerry, gold!

So I’ll just take this opportunity to continue the blogalogue in my little (tiny) corner of the Interwebs by reflecting on their posts.

It all started when Damon Linker wrote that Rod, and other conservatives, have a gay fixation.  Like me, Damon takes Rod at his word that his animus toward gay marriage has nothing to do with the “yuck factor” — in fact, some of Rod’s best friends are gay.  So Damon wonders why Rod is so adamant that regularizing gay marriage in our culture would tarnish, and even destroy, his own heterosexual marriage.

Rod responded that he’s actually not that hung up on gay issues, or on sex at all, but that, as a Christian, (homo)sexuality is a hinge issue:

Sex, especially homosexuality, is a big deal because how one comes downon those related questions has a lot to do with how you view theauthority of Scripture and Tradition. There’s a reason why the churchestoday are breaking apart over homosexuality, and it has to do with theplain fact that there can be no compromise on this issue, as it goes tothe heart of how believers understand ourselves, our relationship toGod, and to the nature of truth.

Rod went on to argue that he’s being chastised primarily because he’s an outside-the-Beltway conservative Christian.

Damon replied that to cowtow to scripture and tradition is ludicrous, since scripture and tradition are firmly contrary to other issues that Rod accepts. 

That’s when Andrew Sullivan chimed in, with one of his brilliant mega-posts.  Sullivan thoroughly deconstructs Rod’s argument that the legalization of gay marriage would reify the libertinism of the 1960s sexual revolution. On the contrary, says Sullivan, what gays want is all of the societal incentives that monogamous heterosexuals enjoy.  That’s why Sullivan want same sex marriage, while Dreher wants only civil unions. (Interesting that some of the conservative readers of my blog find even civil unions odious.)

The thing that really gets under Sullivan’s skin is that Rod says that legalization of SSM is a bold step toward nihilism. In fact, Sullivan says it’s just the opposite. Since that, Rod has responded again, and Sullivan has promised another post addressed to Rod — can you see why I’m feeling left out? :-)

Okay, after that extended recap. Here are my initial thoughts.

Like many conservatives, Rod’s fall-back position is, essentially, “This is what the church has always held.”  He defers to tradition, to the conventional reading of scripture, etc.  The problem that conservatives have when they do this is that they’re inevitably selective in their cherrypicking of tradition. The immediate response has to do with slavery, head coverings, etc.  This has been my response, as well, in many cases.  It’s a big hermeneutical conundrum: which passages are eternally normative, and which are culturally bound?  Make no mistake, 150 years ago, pro-slavery churches argued that slavery was acceptable in 19th century American because is was normative in the Old and New Testaments.  And there are a lot more passages regarding slavery than homosexuality in the Bible.

Secondly, I think that Rod’s conversion to Orthodoxy plays a bigger role than his interlocuters realize. Rod converted to Catholicism in his 20s, after a hedonistic youth.  In other words, it was a pretty radical conversion.  Then, after reporting on the pedophilia scandals of the Catholic church, and almost losing his faith over it, he converted to Orthodoxy.

So what? Well, I had a talk with Frederica Mathewes-Green a couple years ago that shed light on this for me.  She, too, converted to Orthodoxy after years as a pretty radical feminist.  We talked about my appropriation of the Orthodox “Jesus Prayer” in my writings and my personal prayer life.  And, while she appreciated my admiration of this Orthodox practice, she told me that it could not be truly understood outside of Orthodoxy.  One had to embrace Orthodoxy in toto, she told me, to really appreciate the Jesus Prayer.  To emphasize her point, she said this meant the whole Orthodox enchilada, including a 3rd century hermeneutic and cosmology!

“You mean demons and a flat Earth?” I asked.  “Not a flat Earth,” she said.

I don’t want to over-psychologize Rod or Frederica, but I have known a number of people who’ve converted to Orthodoxy, and it does seem to attract a certain type of person who, at some deep level, is looking for an enclosed system of belief — the most-bounded of bounded sets.  And systems like these have an answer for virtually every exigency.  Further, they often tend to revel in taking positions that cut against the grain of contemporary society and are even doomed to failure (as Rod has said his opposition of SSM is).

Honestly, I don’t begrudge Rod, Frederica, and other conservatives of other flavors.  Their desire for a system of belief that is bounded by practices and language that has been forged through the centuries is a natural progression of the Aristotle-Aquinas-MacIntyre-Yoder-Hauerwas stream. 

But for my part, this is neither an intellectually nor spiritually compelling move, because it mitigates against the ongoing work and revelation of the Holy Spirit.  In fact, methinks, instead of maintaining an openness to the Spirit, it tends to enshrine the opinions of men — particularly dead, white ones.

The Orthodox don’t call their current seminary professors “theologians.”  The theologians of the Orthodox church are a bounded set, and they lived in the patristic period. 

That tells you something, doesn’t it?



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Your Name

posted April 3, 2009 at 10:51 am


It seems to me that the key is this idea of “the ongoing work and revelation of the Holy Spirit”, which you have mentioned before in regards to the SSM issue. The over-arching question here is, to what extent can we identify the ongoing shifts in cultural values as revelations of the Holy Spirit. So (for one example) if Jesus believed in demons and expressed his belief in such in the Scriptures, does that constitute a revelation of “how things are”? Or, do we more reliably find the work of the Spirit in the evolving thought forms of contemporary culture, which would seriously doubt the existence of ‘demons’ in the sense of malevolent spiritual beings(at least today, in developed Western culture)?
It seems to me that an ‘open system’ actually does not escape the problems of the ‘bounded system’–it just comes at them from the other end. If we can reliably look to the evolving values and worldviews of the culture we find ourselves in as the “work of the Spirit”, to what extent is recourse to Scripture or tradition valuable at all? Why believe in a ‘personal god’? Why believe in the resurrection? I am not trying to make the traditional ‘slippery slope’ argument, where “if you deny one facet of Bibllical literalism you deny the whole thing”, rather I am honestly asking the question: what grounds do we have to trust that the Spirit is at work in the views of the cutting edge of contemporary culture? Are there more grounds to find revelation there, than there are to find it in the theological forms and ethics in the Scriptures?
To try and put it a little more clearly, when certain teaching of Scripture or tradition comes in conflict with teaching of contemporary thought, how do we determine between the two? How do we decide which ought to have pride of place in answering important questions?



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Ryan

posted April 3, 2009 at 11:07 am


Tony,
I appreciate your pastor’s heart and generosity in dealing with people in this argument who come from the “other side.” We could all learn a great deal about what it means to have an honest and respectful dialogue from watching your example.



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jhimm

posted April 3, 2009 at 11:23 am


Rod said “There’s a reason why the churches today are breaking apart over homosexuality, and it has to do with the PLAIN FACT that there can be NO COMPROMISE on this issue, as it goes to the heart of how believers understand ourselves, our relationship to God, and to the NATURE OF TRUTH.” (emphasis mine)
he’s exactly right. if you believe in plain facts and that compromise runs contrary to the nature of truth, then you cannot under any circumstances validate homosexuality in any way.
its the same old fundamental debate. if you’re a modernist, you believe the Bible contains a known, well defined, single truth that is immutable. nevermind the fact that this particular known, single truth involves skipping many verses and hyper focusing on others, the tradition tells us this is how we read the book.
if you reject modernism (and the 20th century offered many extremely compelling reasons to do so), then you must reject this approach to reading the Bible, and once you do so, this entire line of reasoning to reject homosexuality completely collapses.
but most people who embrace this modernist approach have not actually read any post-modernism and so cannot actually have the fundamental debate between their views and its, and focus instead of the specifics of symptomatic topics such as homosexuality, which are easy for them to argue because they can resort to the language Rod uses above (“plain fact” &c). it boils down to the “if you just read the Bible its obvious” defense. thus, they conclude that those who accept homosexuals either do not read the Bible, do not understand the Bible, or are attempting to build a Christianity without the Bible, and this is their counter-attack, which is on its face nonsensical.
this isn’t even ships passing in the night. its airplanes flying over ships and neither have radar to know the other is even there.
it’s futility at its finest.



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bob c

posted April 3, 2009 at 11:25 am


tony,
this is some of the best thinking & writing on this angle I have seen – thanks so much for sharing !



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Jonathan Brink

posted April 3, 2009 at 11:58 am


There is actually a new petition in California, coming out of a group of college students in San Deigo to change the constitution in CA. It would render all new marriages as legal partnerships with an option to choose marriage as a distinction. Was on NPR yesterday.



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Sara

posted April 3, 2009 at 12:21 pm


On this day I am proud to be an Iowan. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality! Props to all my friends and family.
http://www.gazetteonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090403/NEWS/704039928/1001/NEWS



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Makeesha

posted April 3, 2009 at 12:28 pm


really well said and very gracious Tony. And jhimm is right, we’re just going to continue talking past each other on this and other issues because of our differing views on Scripture and “literalism”. Which is why I tend to avoid such debates, it’s so frustrating to me.



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Darren King

posted April 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm


Tony,
I agree with your assessment of many who turn to Eastern Orthodoxy. I think it does arise out of felt need for unchanging absolutes. The mere fact that the EO Church claims to be virtually the same as it was in the first few centuries of the church is a huge draw to such people. Personally, EO has really fed my faith, but, like you, I am troubled by this claim, from those within, that you must take it “all or nothing”. Even icons, for instance, are said to loose their essential value outside the other traditions of EO.
You mentioned Frederica Mathewes-Green. I spoke with her last year about some of these issues. I remember that, at the time, she was a little surprised that you were so quick to dismiss the idea of demonic possession. She felt that was a little “modern” of you. I remember partly seeing her point there. As postmoderns, it’s true that we don’t reject such things outright. For me, it’s a question of nuance. I grow frustrated with those on either extreme of the issue – i.e. these issues are always tied to demonic possession, or, these issues are always nothing more than mental illness related to chemical imbalances in the brain.
One thing Frederica said that kind of crystallized our difference in worldview came when she spoke about the church fathers. She pointed out to me that they really believed that what they had perceived of the Faith, and of the world, was meant to be for all time. I have no problem with that assertion. I think they did think that. It’s fully understandable that, within their particular context, that’s how they would have perceived themselves – and what had been passed down to them – in relation to history.
I just think there were wrong.
Again, this speaks to people’s tendency to hyper-spiritualize our ancestors. People act as if these people experienced the Spirit to the degree that somehow trumped the human condition. As I’ve said before, I just think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of how human beings interact with the divine – period. In any time period, culture, etc.



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aroll

posted April 3, 2009 at 12:36 pm


tony,
thanks for your continued voice in this debate…even if you’re on the outside. it is important to many of us – as pastors, human beings, believers in Jesus, and missionaries of the message of Grace.
i do believe in the ongoing revelation of the Holy Spirit, and if anyone finds new understanding in the words of any theologian (no matter which side of the various theological debates) then so must you. so the question then becomes, how do we judge to whom the Spirit speaks and who is just making things up? even the literalists don’t argue over the reinterpretation of the passages regarding slavery…so how does that work? the Spirit spoke on that issue but isn’t now speaking to us on this “issue?” you can’t have it both ways.
beyond the theological debate, it comes down also to the issue of humanity. it’s not an “issue” that is being debated…it’s people. and as someone who has been debating this with countless people as we battled prop 8 here at groundzero in san diego, i have moved more toward helping people understand the humanity of this issue than simply the academics of it. don’t get me wrong, i have spent hours and days reading and researching the academics of it. but i land more and more on the account of the church at antioch when the peter, paul, and the council of jerusalem acknowledged after debate that the presence of the Spirit was evident in the lives of gentile believers, even without them following the law.
come and spend a week with my church (full of gay and straight alike), spend a day with me (a gay pastor), and then let’s talk about the ongoing revelation of the Spirit and her fruit in our lives. thanks tony for continuing to bring understanding and fighting for recognizing ALL people as equal in the eyes of the law and helping those ostracized by the church find home again.



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 3, 2009 at 1:59 pm


I would urge you in this, and pray you hear me (all of you, but especially you Tony in this time):
This debate is not about sex. It’s not. I have had the hardest time convincing my husband that this debate is not about sex. Many people only see it as a who-can-I-have-sex-with-and-not-be-sinning issue. Tony, you obviously are NOT one of those people, but I feel perhaps that since there are obviously MANY people who think this is about sex, and who just can’t figure it any other way, something should be said about it before you begin again. I am saying it now, but do not have nearly 10% the readership you do.
The same sex marriage issue, as well as the is-it-a-sin-to-be-gay issue, and the is-it-a-sin-to-be-ACTIVELY-gay issue, is not about sex. Yes, it involves sex. Much of life does actually. But it is about a person’s identity. A gay person is so much more than just one who is attracted sexually to the same gender. Surely we have all noticed that their are personality traits in certain gay people that make it obvious outwardly they are gay. They are part of who that person is, and cannot be simply trained away. They are not sinful in and of themselves, and whether or not God made them that way, or perverted ole’ Uncle so-and-so in childhood did (this is a reference to the whole what-is-the-origin-of-homosexuality debate), it is now an inseparable part of who that person is. That opens up an entire conversation that frankly I rarely see, but must be discussed. Possibly, it must be discussed before the issue of gay marriage can be addressed.
Change takes time, and we are only just now as a society beginning to barely see that maybe gay people are not just choosing to be perverts but actually might be something that is out of their control, and they are being oppressed because of it. I don’t feel I have accurately spoken my mind, which frustrates me, but I promised my kids I would get off the computer this morning and spend extra time with them. But this is important and I have come here to share first. Tony, you can do this so much better to me. So I am asking you to take this before the Lord and see if there is anything you can do ….



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Liz

posted April 3, 2009 at 3:59 pm


Tony,
Thanks for pointing out the conversation between Rod, Andrew and Damon – I did not know that it was going on and would not have wanted to miss it as I have been working through this “issue” over the last couple of years.
As I have mentioned here before, I have a son who is gay and have put a lot of study, thought and prayer into this subject. I come from a conservative Christian background and had always accepted what the church had taught about homosexuality.
As I have studied, prayed, read, conversed and thought through this issue I have moved from believing that any same sex relationship is wrong, sinful and against the will of God to having to admit that I cannot find substantial evidence to support that belief. Believe me, that was a shock to me. The idea that homosexuality was a sin had been taught to me with such certainty that I was sure there must be evidence to prove that…but when I took a long, honest look I couldn’t find it.
So I had to ask myself a lot of questions: “Without sufficient evidence to support this belief what should I do?” Does a “yucky” feeling mean I know something deep inside myself or am I just reacting to years of conditioning? Does “different” mean wrong? Why do I feel so afraid? If I have no evidence to support the belief that homosexuality is wrong how should I respond to this issue? What would be the loving and just response?
I had a lot of motivation to approach these questions honestly – on one side I had my relationship with my son and on the other side I had my relationship with my faith community. Both were totally integrated into the very core of my identity – who I was and what I valued and loved. I know a lot of people will think that I am prejudice because of my son but the truth is that before I began asking these questions I was prejudice because of my faith. It seems that my faith had been an obstacle to me seeing clearly and that my son being gay helped remove that obstacle. You can’t imagine how ironic that sounds to me.
In your post you said:
“Honestly, I don’t begrudge Rod, Frederica, and other conservatives of other flavors. Their desire for a system of belief that is bounded by practices and language that has been forged through the centuries is a natural progression of the Aristotle-Aquinas-MacIntyre-Yoder-Hauerwas stream.
But for my part, this is neither an intellectually nor spiritually compelling move, because it mitigates against the ongoing work and revelation of the Holy Spirit. In fact, methinks, instead of maintaining an openness to the Spirit, it tends to enshrine the opinions of men — particularly dead, white ones.”
Recently I discovered I was very afraid of being open to the spirit. I have a personality that would much rather someone tell me what scripture says and give me a list of beliefs to believe. The spirit of God seems to blow like the wind in whatever direction he chooses and often confounds me with what seems to me to be contradictions (those contradictions usually come because of some preconceived idea I had). The process of trying to maintain an openness to the Spirit has been humbling to say the least – first, I had to admit that I was wrong to be so certain about my beliefs (then and now) and now I am trying to put that humility into practice before God and others. It’s not easy but it is good.
Most recently I am trying to decide if I should or shouldn’t begrudge (your word) Rod, Frederica and others opinions about homosexuality. Do the opinions that homosexuality is wrong bring about injustice and oppression? Do I have some sort of duty to speak out, to do something? After all, it seems to me that it is only these opinions that are keeping a whole group of people from being able to serve in their church, to be ordained as ministers, to marry their same sex partner, to be able to work with children and the list goes on. Perhaps begrudge is too strong a word for me to use as I do believe that everyone should have freedom of thought and I do not want to make it illegal to believe that homosexuality is wrong. But I do “resent” their opinions and the unfounded fears that they elicit. I am angry about it. Can I resent them, be angry and still be respectful? I think I can and that is my goal.
What I know for sure is that I can no longer be silent.
I like what Hugh Hollowell said about this recently in a post here: http://queermergent.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/from-homophobe-to-straight-ally-part-1/
He said: “Because others were silent, I thought I knew what God was like. Because others were silent, it gave me permission to hate. Because others were silent, it allowed me to hurt people. I cannot be silent.”



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Liz

posted April 3, 2009 at 4:08 pm


Theresa – I agree wholeheartedly with you that this issue is about so much more than “sex” and that it is about people and that we need to stop making homosexuality the whole identity of a person. I also agree that it is obvious that it isn’t a choice. But I respectfully say that I am cautious about talking about gay people having certain personality traits and believe that line of thinking can cause some confusion for both straight and gay people. I know gay people who don’t have what would be thought of as “gay” traits and straight people who have what would be thought of as “gay” traits. I believe that homosexuality is all about what sex a person is sexually attracted to, period.



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Liz

posted April 3, 2009 at 4:10 pm


Theresa – I agree wholeheartedly with you that this issue is about so much more than “sex” and it is about people and we need to stop making homosexuality the whole identity of a person. I also agree that it is obvious that it isn’t a choice.
But I respectfully say that I am cautious about talking about gay people having certain personality traits and believe that line of thinking can cause some confusion for both straight and gay people. I know that it caused some confusion for me and for my son.
I know gay people who don’t have what would be thought of as “gay” traits and straight people who have what would be thought of as “gay” traits. I believe that homosexuality is all about what sex a person is sexually attracted to, period.



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Panthera

posted April 3, 2009 at 4:41 pm


Liz and Theresa,
I am deeply impressed when I read the postings from both of you.
Won’t say much else tonight, but the difference between your Christian charity and the hate which one otherwise so often finds here at beliefnet is enormous.
Thanks.



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 3, 2009 at 6:23 pm


Panthera, hearing you say that (okay, reading it) makes all of this dialogue worth it to me. Liz, I should clarify where I am coming from about the identity thing. A close friend in a “straight” marriage is struggling with their bisexual orientation and the spouse just does not get it, and cannot fathom that this friend of mine would be on such a campaign to bless and love the gay community when it is so hurtful to said spouse that they make such a journey. Spouse holds the typical conservative views but admits that orientation is not the sin, practice is. Friend says that is not enough, and spouse cannot see anything beyond the sexuality issue, which should be a non-issue since they are happily, heterosexually married. So what is missing? This friend of mine (who is absolutely forbidden to reveal their orientation, hence my care here) has just realized that a lot of the problems they are having due to this gay-question journey is due to a non-acceptance on part of spouse as to the aspects of the bisexuality that affect my friend on a daily basis – that have nothing to do with sex.
Maybe if I have to be so careful I should not share at all, but I think it is important. Can anyone give a little help to me here?



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Ted Seeber

posted April 3, 2009 at 6:35 pm


I added the link above for a reason- for at least one relatively Orthodox strain of Christianity, the Patristic Period hasn’t ended. In fact, it’s stronger than ever- calling for an end to moral relativism and a need for rational religion in Europe today.
Thus, I make my challenge to emergence: Does Christ really need another Bride in his Harem?



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Ted Seeber

posted April 3, 2009 at 6:40 pm


Some of us aren’t out of the Patristic Period yet. In fact, the Patristic Period is stronger than ever- calling for an end to moral relativism and a renewal of rational religion while having priests and nuns beheaded merely for saying that religion needs to be rational!
Which is why I wrote the blog posting linked to- as a challenge for emergence movement Christianity- does Christ really need another Bride, or can you find what you’re searching for IN Orthodoxy?



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Panthera

posted April 3, 2009 at 7:29 pm


Theresa,
There are many excellent resources – both Christian and secular available for families dealing with this situation.
There are also some real jerks out there – on both sides of the spectrum.
My suggestion would be to consult with some folks whom you know to be moral – Pflag and the Metropolitan Community Church come to mind and ask them for a list of references.
There are also several books which have been written on the matter, some outstanding, some pretty dreadful.
I would very much stay away from anyone who demanded the marriage be split asunder, just as I would stay away from anyone who demanded the marriage be adhered to at all costs.
Personally, I don’t have a clue about bi-sexuality. Opinions, yes, but I won’t trouble you with them.
Nothing would threaten me more, than for my husband to come home one evening and announce he’d stopped buying Playboy for the articles. Nothing. It would shake me to the very foundation of my heart. I’d stand by him, however things were resolved and be very very thankful that, tho’ we have neighbors and family kids in and out of the house constantly, we have none of our own. After 24 monogamous years of committed love, it would be something I could not adjust to overnight. Probably take the dawgs and go riding for a couple of days.
The main thing is, to find competent resources which are not trying to force a predetermined path on your friend, but to help them both. As married partners.
Oh, and idea. Ray Boltz (the Christian singer) and his wife have written extensively on this. He is gay, not bisexual, but several kids and a 20+ year marriage which was not a lie but true, counts I think. He has a great interview over at the gay christian network radio site…recorded October 24, 2008. Well worth listening to, I think.
God bless.



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Panthera

posted April 3, 2009 at 7:33 pm


I understand links help…
Just click on their “audio and video” link, then on “gcn radio”.
Some good discussions and resources there.



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Liz

posted April 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm


Theresa – thanks for clarifying. So sorry that your friend is in such a difficult situation. So glad that Panthera could give you some resources. BTW I have read Carol Boltz’s blog and it is good.
You can find her blog here: http://myheartgoesout-carol.blogspot.com/



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cp

posted April 4, 2009 at 12:08 am


Thanks to all for mentioning Ray Boltz. I had not heard about this, googled him and found some great stuff.
A powerful quote from Boltz in an interview about coming out: “I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”
What a travesty for someone to hate her or himself because s/he THINKS his/her immutable, natural way of being is ugly. Did not all of us struggle with that thought for some reason or another in our formative years?
But the truth is–Each of us is God. Each of us holds God within. However one chooses to say it–we are divine. We are beautiful. Let us not hate the divine. Let all be free to love themselves, for this is the only path to truly loving and caring for others.
Those who sit in a seat of judgement of others most likely have not reached a place of loving themselves.



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budcath

posted April 4, 2009 at 3:31 pm


The Orthodox Church in America is a very small church and largely ethnic, Russian, Serbian, etc. I’m not clear if the Greek Orthodox consider themselves part of this. They do have American converts, but even as Rod has said, the ethnic folks who have been Othodox for generations have a different attitude toward things. As such they have very little political or social power to change things. I’ve read these posts about SSM on Rod’s site and here. And it is the same circular arguments over and over. It does get old after awhile. My take is to let God sort this out. We’re not supposed to judge. So maybe we are getting in God’s way. From a Calvinist perspective whatever happens was meant to.



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Your Name

posted April 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm


Are you sure he’s Rod Dreher, you don’t seem to be able to grasp basic facts about your opponents ages, I’m a little worried if your can get their names right.



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Albert the Abstainer

posted April 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm


My view concerning SSM is a very simple one: SSM is an issue for the church, and civil union is a matter for the state. As soon as all marriages are civil unions from the frame of the state, with exactly the same rights and privileges, the happier I will be.
If Rod really is online with civil union, then there rapidly becomes nothing to discuss. Perhaps this is where this issue may also be resolved in larger society. The state needs to take full ownership of civil union, declaring marriage (to avoid rewriting existing law) as being legally synonymous with legal union. Issue resolved.
Marriage is an issue for the church not the state. (There are churches which will sanctify a gay couple in the vows of marriage. Come to Toronto, Canada and see for yourself.)



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Albert the Abstainer

posted April 5, 2009 at 12:59 pm


Errata: Word changed as shown in italics
My view concerning SSM is a very simple one: SSM is an issue for the church, and civil union is a matter for the state. As soon as all marriages are civil unions from the frame of the state, with exactly the same rights and privileges, the happier I will be.
If Rod really is online with civil union, then there rapidly becomes nothing to discuss. Perhaps this is where this issue may also be resolved in larger society. The state needs to take full ownership of civil union, declaring marriage (to avoid rewriting existing law) as being legally synonymous with civil union. Issue resolved.
Marriage is an issue for the church not the state. (There are churches which will sanctify a gay couple in the vows of marriage. Come to Toronto, Canada and see for yourself.)



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 5, 2009 at 5:51 pm


Thank you Panthera for all the resources! I have copied them all down for my friend. I am hopeful there can be resolution and a continued hope in their marriage. Am working on encouraging friend to blog using a pseudonym in order to work thru this issue anonymously. Perhaps this post is getting too long for such a thing, but there are many many more places where they might do such a thing. We will see. And again I thank you. You too Liz! Nice to see you here and there. :-)
I think if ten years ago – before SSM was even anywhere near my radar – someone would have suggested that you get married thru the church but only legally united thru the state, I would have been really confused. I would have been sad that people not comfortable marrying thru the church would have to be less than married, or would be denied the term. Today I realize I am probably misunderstanding something, so rather than jumping to a conclusion, can I get some clarity please? This is in response to some of the comments made above. Thanks.



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Panthera

posted April 5, 2009 at 6:27 pm


Theresa,
I am sure you can find what your friend needs, the main thing is just to be aware that this is one of those hot button topics in our culture which, unfortunately, is used by people – on both sides – to push their agendas, instead of helping the folks actually involved. That is one reason I recommended Gay Christian Net and Pflag, as well as the Boltz family.
You and Liz both really give me hope for American Christianity. Think first, pray first, pronounce judgment not, what a novel concept.
Not my own strong point, unfortunately.
I can tell you the European concept of civil and religious marriage, I suspect it is similar to what many here are referencing.
Those rights and responsibilities arising from marriage which are regulated or privileged by the State are governed by the civil marriage ceremony in most European countries. In the eyes of the law and to many religious institutions, the Civil Union is marriage. The sacrament of marriage granted by the Church has nothing to do with the State or Civil Union and it is only in very few places except the US that you find the situation where a religious ceremony conveys both the State recognition (by the power vested in me by the State of Georgia) and the Christian sacrament.
What most gay rights activists (myself included) are working towards is a situation in which gays can be married either by the justice of the peace or in a religious ceremony by those denominations which do recognize gay marriage as a Christian rite.
My own marriage was done by our Lord Mayor. My husband is Irish and Catholic, so that was out, titles and all that nonsense are meaningless in our democracy (thank goodness!), but it is a tradition in my country (Ireland did not yet have gay marriage)that titled people have the right to be married by the Lord High Mayor, so I went down to city hall and asked hizzoner would he be so kind and he said, yup – but we’d better have the local protestant church marry us properly or he wouldn’t feel like it was proper in God’s eyes.
OK, so first we had the civil ceremony which was fun, I wore my great-grandfather’s morning coat and for one of the few times in my life (except when I was in trouble with my mom) got addressed with all seven names. My husband was equally formally dressed, except it was calving time in the neighborhood and he had muck across his face and neck. Never mind, he never looked more handsome. The church ceremony was private, ’cause the then current priest in the village was on the outs with the local archbishop who just needed an excuse, so we didn’t want to make a scene. He came and stood in the back, which made me feel really good and later, at the party we had which everybody except for a few left overs from the National Socialist era came to, we realized how normal and natural things were.
That was four years ago. When dealing with the State, we refer to our civil union, as would any man and woman joined in matrimony. Sadly, the nice priest was replaced soon after with a man who makes our Mr. Inc== look loving and tolerant and the local archbishop is trying to have my husband ex-communicated. So far, without progress. The Vatican has a public face and a considerably more reasonable face.
When we are in the US, of course, we are discriminated against and take great care to never go through customs in the same line as we both have the same name and title and we have heard some horror stories of what the Americans do at the border to married gay couples, especially when they have kids.
As we have seen over the last days, the issue is increasingly coming down to one of the courts ruling that the equal protection clause just plain counts for everybody and if the conservative Christians in America don’t want us to marry in their churches, no problem. Stopping us from having civil marriage is a violation of a constitutional guarantee.
Ultimately, I expect to see the federal government step in and regulate things (in our favor) to prevent a genuine culture war from breaking out.
But that is way beyond your question, a very valid one at that.



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Korey

posted April 5, 2009 at 11:44 pm


Great post. I was interested to read your analysis of a type attracted to EO or any enclosed system of belief. Perhaps you recognize some attraction to this thinking yourself and have resisted it? I see indications of this in your thoughts on pacifism a year or so ago.
Anyway, I had been reading Dreher’s back and forth with Sullivan and Linker and thought the same thing about his backing out of the debate with you. Seems a bit disingenuous as he was prepared to deal with the issue with another discussion partner.



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Ted Seeber

posted April 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm


Here’s the fear, right out in the open- and I’ll acknowledge it’s largely an unwarranted fear, but:
Same Sex Marriage, Gay bashing, racism, Birth Control, Divorce, Abortion, Single Mothers, Euthanasia, the Death Penalty, War, and now thanks to Obama’s newest proposal for universal health care, Rationed Health Care, and thanks to the effects of an economy overburdened by the financial sector, Fractional Reserve Banking- are all the SAME issue in the eyes of an Orthodox Christian, the same slippery slope towards extinction of humanity.
That issue has NOTHING to do with exclusion or hate- it has to do with denying the essential *normal* human lifestyle that has gotten us through a million and a half years of social evolution, the sustainable way for human beings to behave.
You can’t have a flock of sheep with all the rams having sex with each other- or in five or six years, you’ll have *NO* sheep. You can’t encourage a level of violence in the sheep where they’re constantly beating each other up either. You want your sheep to breed- because that’s the only way you get a next generation of sheep to continue the process.
Yes, the thing that has all of us conservatives scared isn’t mere “the end of traditional marriage”, and nor do we support any form of discrimination just because somebody’s outside of the norm (we’re all sinners in some way, we need to be accepting of everybody). But to go so far as to call the sin the normal way to be, to call evil good, could very well mean the end of our SPECIES- the genocide to end all genocides. THAT is the fear you need to address if you want us to accept Same Sex Marriage- no matter how unreasonable that fear is, it still needs to be addressed.
I see NOTHING yet that would quell that fear for me. In fact, if anything, the cries that we don’t need to have traditional families anymore make the fear of the slippery slope WORSE, not better.
Also note, I didn’t frame the problem as Biblical- but rather, Biological. That’s because the problem is MUCH bigger than just Christianity or even Humanity- it goes to the very heart of what it means to be a part of a continuing species.



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Panthera

posted April 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm


Ted,
Sorry, you lost me there.
First, homosexuality has now been considered a normal, non-deviant form of human sexual orientation for over 35 years by the American medical profession, longer, far longer in Europe.
Second, except for the Islamic countries and the US, no single, solitary country has any other official policy towards us as their law. None. It is only the Muslim fanatics and the Americans. That ought to tell you something, right there.
Third, sexuality is both immutable and the ratio of gay to straight is somewhere between 3 – 10%, depending on who is making up the numbers. If that 3-10% of us who don’t reproduce are really that big a survival threat, then I suggest it is only because you haven’t been doing your duty and making babies.
Fourth, not only do we now have firm evidence that homosexuality is innate and present in all high-order species, more to the point we have several studies which indicate strongly (give me another five years and I will drop the “strongly” and take it as given) that there is an evolutionary advantage to having us around. It turns out that human families with a steady record of gays in each generation also bring more children successfully to child-bearing age. That, as you know, is what Mother Nature wants.
There are numerous studies of gay animals in herd or social populations in the wild and they come to the same conclusion. Among wolves and dolphins, we tend to be the warriors, babysitters, jacks-of-all-trades, extra den-mothers, hunters and basically those who find the creative solutions…including not infrequently being the alpha leaders.
So take your fears that we are somehow a threat to you through our existence and our marriage and calm them. Read up on this, follow the science on it.
If nothing else, ask yourself why the only people on the entire planet who discriminate against us happen to be you, the conservative American Christians and the evil, twisted Muslims leading hell-holes like Iran and Iraq. Where, last week alone, six gay men were murdered for being gay.
Frankly, any group of people who are advocating life-long, committed, monogamous, loyal, true and faithful relationships and only ask of you that you give us the same rights others have to make these relationships possible should be seen as your allies against the decline and fall of marriage, not your enemies.
If this sounds strong, sorry. I understand you are afraid. Well, counter your fear with knowledge.



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Brian

posted April 6, 2009 at 3:40 pm


What about trans-specied people? You know, people who feel on the inside that their physical bodies are not representative of who they really are and who are really animals (be it an ox, yak, squirrel, etc) on the inside. Where is the outrage for trans-specied people?
And what about people, like my Uncle Ferg for example, who is not really Uncle Ferg, but is really Napoleon Bonaparte on the inside? He is a trans-historical person. His argument, by the way, is identical to a “trans-gendered” person except that he feels he is Napoleon on the inside, as opposed to being “Aunt Ferg” on the inside. From the time he was a small boy he knew he was Napoleon and has struggled with this. Where is his affirmation?



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Panthera

posted April 6, 2009 at 4:11 pm


Brian, dear – believe it or not, this is (or was) a fairly thoughtful discussion amongst adults.
Now, why don’t you take your dolly and go play in another sandbox.
There’s a luv.



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Basil

posted April 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm


Ted
You really should not have used sheep as an example.
Did you know that when artificial insemination technology came about, it was a godsend (no pun intended) to the field of animal husbandry. Apparently, about one third of rams are gay, and with the new technology, they could be utilized for … more breeding.
There was also a study, in Montana I believe, comparing the brains of “gay” and “straight” rams, apparently there are some noticeable physical differences.
Let me echo Panthera’s (better written) point: Reproduction is not as straightforward as you may believe, and given the frequency of homosexual behavior in the animal world (and the lack of activist judges or glittering gay bars), it would appear that homosexuality is innate and serves a useful purpose in nature, otherwise it would have evolved out as a trait eons ago. Nature suggests the same is true for humans.
Should same sex couples be penalized for being same sex? How does that help the children of those couples (I read that there are 8-10 million kids being raised in same sex households)?
Shouldn’t the conservative position be to promote marriage for everyone, gay or straight?
Basil



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Panthera

posted April 6, 2009 at 5:35 pm


Basil, I wish. Everytime I try to explain what is perfectly clear and obvious to me around here, I feel as tho’ I am trying to explain color to someone colorblind. Ted really is interested in engaging gays, so that makes it even harder.
Thanks for your explanation.



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Ted Seeber

posted April 6, 2009 at 5:42 pm


Panthera:
“First, homosexuality has now been considered a normal, non-deviant form of human sexual orientation for over 35 years by the American medical profession, longer, far longer in Europe.”
The medical profession also thought that Thalidomide was a great way to cure morning sickness. Calling evil good, and abnormal normal, by medical professionals is the PROBLEM, not the SOLUTION.
“Second, except for the Islamic countries and the US, no single, solitary country has any other official policy towards us as their law. None. It is only the Muslim fanatics and the Americans. That ought to tell you something, right there.”
Also completely not quelling the fear. American culture is widely seen as the “culture of death”.
“Third, sexuality is both immutable and the ratio of gay to straight is somewhere between 3 – 10%, depending on who is making up the numbers. If that 3-10% of us who don’t reproduce are really that big a survival threat, then I suggest it is only because you haven’t been doing your duty and making babies.”
And we haven’t been. Or rather, we haven’t been raising those babies correctly- the first thing to go with the separation of sex from procreation was fatherhood. Notice above I put Same Sex Marriage as EQUAL threat as War and Divorce. There’s a reason for that.
“Fourth, not only do we now have firm evidence that homosexuality is innate and present in all high-order species, more to the point we have several studies which indicate strongly (give me another five years and I will drop the “strongly” and take it as given) that there is an evolutionary advantage to having us around. It turns out that human families with a steady record of gays in each generation also bring more children successfully to child-bearing age. That, as you know, is what Mother Nature wants.”
Also failing to quell the fear- since this is a study done by the *very people* that conservatives don’t respect, and actively suspect want to kill off the next generation.
“So take your fears that we are somehow a threat to you through our existence and our marriage and calm them. Read up on this, follow the science on it.”
And that’s the link you’re really missing. Science is not the friend of the pro-life Orthodox Christian; especially NOT on life issues. EVERY scientific advancement with respect to reproduction, has been towards destroying the historic “family unit” that has seen us through the last million and a half years of being human. Why, given that record of abortion and stem cell research and birth control, should we believe the SCIENTISTS of all people on homosexuality?



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Ted Seeber

posted April 6, 2009 at 5:53 pm


Also, Basil, I wish. In my own church, I’ve supported in the past a group called Dignity, which is about being Catholic, Gay, and Monogamous, because I believe *everybody* deserves that right. Would I rather gays join the sister group more accepted by all Catholics including the Pope, Courage, and take a vow of celebacy? Sure I would, but that’s not possible for everybody.
Now having said that, some specific answers to your questions:
“Should same sex couples be penalized for being same sex?”
NO. That isn’t what this is about. This is about teaching normalcy, asking for the ideal, then being satisfied when we don’t get it.
“How does that help the children of those couples (I read that there are 8-10 million kids being raised in same sex households)?”
All men having heterosexual sex, for whatever reason, should know that the price of doing it properly is denial of selfish motivations for the next 18 to 30 years. Artificial insemination of humans should be banned, along with birth control and abortion and divorce. If you have heterosexual sex to create the kid, the least you can do is deny your own selfish motivations long enough to raise the kid.
“Shouldn’t the conservative position be to promote marriage for everyone, gay or straight?”
NO. In fact, there’s a lot of cases where marriage, gay or straight, should be discouraged from the start. Marriage, like sex, should be about procreation and the unification of husband and wife for the purpose of raising children.
Now having said that, I think we do need, especially given the failure of capitalism and extended family life in the United States to provide for each and every citizen, some method of unifying the households of single people for the purpose of saving money, providing power of attorney, group health insurance, making medical decisions, raising children from broken homes, etc. But that is NOT marriage- that’s purely the materialistic merging of households. And I don’t think it deserves any tax breaks whatsoever.



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Ted Seeber

posted April 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm


P.S. Panthera- check out my blog http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/2009/04/homosexual-doctors-cant-do-math.html
For a spinoff of this. I quoted you indirectly but I’ve heard this same argument enough times to know you’re not the only one doing it and that yes, it’s the whole bloody medical profession that can’t do math.



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Panthera

posted April 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm


Ted,
I’m going to bail out of this one. There is no way for me to discuss the matter at hand if you feel the natural sciences are a threat to our Christian belief. I just don’t see it that way – they are an attempt to understand the natural world God made.
Basil, I don’t post on Rod Dreher’s blog because he asked me some time ago not to. Given the level of whack-jobs and wing-nuts running their mouths over there, I am probably well out of it. My tolerance for people who see my oppression as a good thing is less than null and my claws are very sharp.
But you, dear sir, have made some seriously good arguments and thoughtful comments. There are some brilliant minds, on both sides, all over beliefnet. I just have reached the point where I need a serious break for a bit.



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robroy

posted April 7, 2009 at 5:29 am


“Interesting that some of the conservative readers of my blog find even civil unions odious.”
Perhaps, it is because civil unions are simply transparent sham, a precursor to homosexual “marriage.” Look at the situation in California, they already have civil unions, so why anti-Prop 8?
Show me a country where buying into the “Gay is OK” line hasn’t had devastating effects on Christianity. Show me a denomination where it hasn’t had the same effects. The most liberal denominations in terms of homosexuality are the same ones that are disappearing. I put Christ first above political agendas. Gene Robinson doesn’t.



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Panthera

posted April 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm


Taking a break from my break to note that Vermont just recognized gays as human beings and citizens of the United States.
robroy,
Haven’t you got anything else to say, or can’t you at least package your hate anew every few months? It does get so weary-making reading the same old, same old from you.
Four down, the Supremes to go!
Back to lurk mode…



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Jennifer Williams

posted April 7, 2009 at 1:57 pm


I am trying to understand just where you derive all your thoughts, it seems to me lookiing from the outside that you dont believe the bible, so what do you use the bible for? Just trying to understand.
Jennifer



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Panthera

posted April 7, 2009 at 2:27 pm


Jennifer,
We’ve had some pretty tiring discussions here the last few days, so forgive me if I bow out for a while.
To whom were you addressing your question?
Which Bible, which translation?



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kablamo

posted April 7, 2009 at 2:54 pm


Jennifer, many gay Christians and their supporters would find their belief in the truth of scripture best summed up by Paul in 2 Corinthians, and I think it most poignant to think of myself as a letter, a living witness to the Christian community of the dignity and love God gave me by creating me, gay-and-all:
1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.



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Bill Samuel

posted April 7, 2009 at 4:21 pm


1. We are called to relationship with God. Jesus kept telling those that were focused on the “rules” that they were missing the point. Doesn’t mean the “rules” are wrong, but it does mean that our lives are meant to be constant interaction with God guiding us, not a set of rules.
2. We are primarily responsible for being faithful ourselves. As a person of pronounced heterosexual tendencies, I don’t face the issue of having attractions to others of my gender. My primary relationship to those who do face that issue shouldn’t be one of judgment, but of embodying the love of Christ to them.
3. Faith communities don’t need to get hung up on the issue. Mine isn’t. We have people with a variety of views on same sex relationships. But we are united in being centered-set not bounded-set and not being quick to judge those among us who are in same sex relationships. And those of our number have their gifts used and recognized the same as the rest of us. So we seem to feel welcoming to them, although we are not an “affirming” congregation in the parlance which means formal acceptance of SSM.
4. The Bible is an immensely valuable text to relate to and listen to the Spirit with. But it is not well served by treating it primarily as a rule book. We have to accept that different followers of Jesus aren’t always going to understand everything in the scripture the same way. That’s really OK. We should be in loving, respectful dialogue with one another, not using the Bible as a weapon against fellow believers.
I personally am uncertain about SSM, and can accept as my brothers and sisters in Christ those with different views.



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Ann

posted April 7, 2009 at 6:44 pm


robroy- “The most liberal denominations in terms of homosexuality are the same ones that are disappearing.” Be careful not to associate church growth with the work of the spirit. If you remember in scripture, God often is at work in unlikely places. He chooses Sarai, who is barren, to be the mother of the Jewish nation. Come to think of it, He seems to love to work through barren women…. Hannah and Elizabeth are another 2 that are coming to mind.



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Andy

posted April 7, 2009 at 8:54 pm


The whole issue of gay marriage is one I just don’t get. Is marriage governed by religious belief or civil law? It occurs to me that it’s both. So why can’t gays have a civil union called a marriage that any individual church is completely free to accept or ignore according to its own doctrine?
Most gay couples I know are interested in governmental, federal, and insurance benefits, the ability to freely visit each other when in the hospital (against policy in many areas, unless you are “family”), etc. All of this could be legislated as a package of “rights” but then heck…it becomes no different than a civil marriage. Just lots of laws to get it there.



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 8, 2009 at 12:35 am


And now for something completely different….
Lord I thank you for the privilege of coming together in this place to share ideas and stories, thoughts and testimonies. I thank you for the love that occurs here in between the hateful comments. I thank you that there are some in this world who are willing to accept people on the basis of your love for them, regardless of where they stand on this issue or any other. Lord, that there may be more of your love spread throughout your Kingdom; yes and even throughout this world that more might enter into your Kingdom. Thank you for the heart-wrenching testimonies that have been shared here, for they took great courage and vulnerability, and were not without fruit. Regardless of where each one who reads this stands on this issue, regardless of where we each think you stand on this issue, let there be peace, reconciliation and love, please. As you have repeatedly called us to in your word, your Spirit, your life, your sacrifice, your very being. Thank you again Lord for the very chance to question the teachings that have been handed down to us. Thank you that you can handle our questionings, and love us right through all of it. And thank you that you desire mercy. So do I. So much it hurts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



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Basil

posted April 8, 2009 at 9:23 am


Panthera
I don’t much care for Rod’s blog either — I think he just is riding the same-sex marriage issue for publicity, but despite that, yesterday I felt highly motivated to comment on the Iowa Supreme Court decision. It really speaks for itself, it is not written in legalese, and the reasoning is clear and quite persuasive. Thank you for the compliment, I am very flattered!!
Go take a well earned break! Today will be my last day of commenting for awhile as well. It’s good practice for me, eventually I want to have a blog of my own and do some serious policy research (but I digress)
Ted
Where to start: Well, I am glad you are familiar with Dignity, I know something about it because one of my friends is an active member. His partner died; he was the one who nursed him for years, and he still visits his in-laws. Now, several years later, he is with a new person — it is good that he has someone to love and be loved by, because he is a great and caring person. I want for him what I want any of my friends…happiness, and I don’t think that he, after all he endured for the sake of love, should have to be burdened with legal discrimination. Is that so difficult to understand?
You describe homosexuality as abnormal, sinful, which I guess means you believe it to be voluntary somehow. Let’s think about that: What if we passed a law forbidding Catholics from marrying. If Catholics want to live together, maybe have a few contracts and a commitment ceremony — that’s ok, but having a legally recognized marriage of two Catholic individuals, with the attendant social recognition and legal rights — forbidden. We would justify this by saying something like “Catholicism is a deviant religious practice, and the state should not encourage it as it violates all our Anglo-Saxon Protestant customs and traditions. Catholicism is a choice, and the government should not encourage it, and Catholic marriage should remain illegal”
You would be justifiably outraged. You may marshall scientific arguments for equality of Catholics, but I, as a bigot would tell you it is a choice and not an ideal to be encouraged.
Fortunately, religion, even though it is a choice, is a “protected class” in legal parlance, meaning the discrimination by religion is very much unconstitutional, in the same way that even discrimination by race or ethnic origin are, and how discrimination by sexual orientation is increasingly being seen, both legally and socially.
Maybe for you, a world without gay couples is some sort of ideal. But I know a lot of gay couples, some with children and some without. I think their love and commitment is the expression of an ideal and deserves the same legal and social protections afforded by marriage that heterosexual couples enjoy. I’ve seen that ideal lived. There is no useful purpose served by handicapping those couples. Discrimination against homosexuals doesn’t make any heterosexual spouse love their partner any more. That is what the Supreme Court of Iowa ruled, and what the legislature of Vermont affirmed.
You compare homosexuality to Thaladimide, and then call for a “solution” other than accepting homosexuality as normal. That’s a pretty hateful (and illogical) comparison — homosexuality to a dangerous drug.
So what is that solution? Should we deny them employment, housing, equal legal rights, and impose extra taxation upon them? Well, we do that now. In many states, it is perfectly legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and same sex couples pay thousands of dollars in extra taxes that their heterosexual counterparts don’t pay
Should we ban homosexual initimate acts? We did that until 2003, when the Supreme Court struck down the remaining sodomy laws (Lawrence v Texas). Should we overturn that and lock up homosexuals for being homosexual? Should we send them off to camps to re-educated, made straight? That was tried as well in the Second World War by the Nazis — thousands were murdered. Here is the link from the National Holocaust Museum, here in Washington DC:
http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/focus/homosexuals_02/
Is this where we want to go as a country — vilification, discrimination, persecution, driving people underground? Is this the moral response, the compassionate and/or Christian approach?
The problem I have with all this anti-gay rhetoric, from conservative talking heads, from clergy and from politicians is that it creates an environment of social bigotry, and it makes violence against gays, lesbians and transgendered people more acceptable. According to FBI statistics, hate crimes based on sexual orientation are the 3rd most “popular” kind of violence, after race and religion. Sexual orientation even beats out ethnic origin as a driver for hate crimes. It should be noted that the FBI statistics are incomplete, many states don’t collect information on hate crimes based on sexual orientation (typically states that don’t give a crap about hate crimes against LGBT persons). We need legal equality for the LGBT community, so that we can discourage this ongoing violence
You would restrict marriage to being a procreative union. I might accept that, provided that marriage first becomes illegal for any women who is post-menopausal, or any man over the age of 50, or any child molestor, or convicted felon. When you get all those laws rewritten, let me know, and then maybe I would be willing to accept a ban on same sex marriage. To do otherwise would be hypocritical.
The fact is, many same-sex couple procreate (adoption, surrogacy or previous heterosexual relationships) — there are millions of children being raised by same sex households (and guess what, most of them come out straight). How is it in anyone’s interest to disadvantage those (largely straight) kids? Why should they bear an extra financial, economic and social burden? How is that ideal — so their parents divorce and enter sham heterosexual marriages. Or maybe get sent to “therapy” to be made straight?
People marry for all sorts of reasons (good and bad), and, with very few exceptions, we don’t legislate what they should be. To do otherwise is just oppressive and un-American.
What’s interesting about this whole debate is that we had it already. We had this debate in the 1960′s when states began to overturn their laws on mixed race marriages. All the same arguments — that inter-racial marriage violated God’s laws, was a dangerous social experiment. We’d be without a President today if that had held. It took a very brave couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, to fight that battle, here in Virginia…it ultimately went to the Supreme Court (Loving v Virginia) where the anti-miscegenation laws were finally struck down in 1967. Mildred Loving passed away last year, but in 2007, she gave a rare interview, and she said it best:
“Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”



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Andrew Tatum

posted April 12, 2009 at 2:50 pm


You wrote:
“Honestly, I don’t begrudge Rod, Frederica, and other conservatives of other flavors. Their desire for a system of belief that is bounded by practices and language that has been forged through the centuries is a natural progression of the Aristotle-Aquinas-MacIntyre-Yoder-Hauerwas stream.
But for my part, this is neither an intellectually nor spiritually compelling move, because it mitigates against the ongoing work and revelation of the Holy Spirit. In fact, methinks, instead of maintaining an openness to the Spirit, it tends to enshrine the opinions of men — particularly dead, white ones.”
Interestingly, none of the folks you mentioned in this “stream” of thought are actually orthodox (a fact which, no doubt, has crossed your mind). And the idea that a system of belief “mitigates against the ongoing work of the holy spirit” is a classic red herring. It assumes that God cannot work within human frames of reference. It assumes that the skepticism you display embodies greater intellectual integrity than a thoughtful belief in a system which dares to have “answers.” And it denies the fact that all thought – even “emerging” skepticism of meta-narratives – carries with it presuppositions and assumptions about the way the world works.
In other words, there is no such thing as “unbounded” belief. We are all bound to those things which we find plausible and I think it takes more courage to admit that human reason is limited (and needs limits) than it does to take the “high road” of skepticism that God can’t possibly work within prayerfully discerned boundaries.
Oh, and very few – if any – of the “theologians” of the Orthodox (or even the broader non-Protestant Catholic) tradition would be considered “white” by today’s standards (red herring # 2).



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My Blog Has Moved
Dear Readers, After a year with Beliefnet, I've decided to move to my own domain for my blogging.  It's been a fine year -- some things worked, other things didn't.  But in the end, I'll be a better blogger on my own.  My thanks to the Bnet editorial staff; they've been very supportive. Ple

posted 12:13:57pm Nov. 13, 2009 | read full post »

The Most Important Cartoon of the Year
By Steve Breen, San Diego Tribune, October 18, 2009

posted 8:51:22am Oct. 25, 2009 | read full post »

Social Media for Pastors
Following up on Christianity21, we at JoPa Productions are developing a series of boot camps for pastors who want to learn about and utilize social media tools like blogging, Twitter, and Facebook.  These are one-day, hands-on learning experiences, currently offered in the Twin Cities and soon

posted 10:45:52am Oct. 22, 2009 | read full post »

Ending Christian Euphemisms: "Fundamentalist"
I've taken some heat in the comment section for using yesterday's post on "unbiblical" and a "higher view of scripture" as a thin foil for my own disregard of biblical standards. To the contrary, I was pointing to the use of the word unbiblical as a stand-in for a particularly thin hermeneutic. Ther

posted 10:15:41am Oct. 21, 2009 | read full post »

Why You Should Get GENERATE
Last week at Christianity21, GENERATE Magazine debuted. With the tag line, "an artifact of the emergence conversation," it fit perfectly at the gathering. When I actually got around to reading it last weekend, I was truly surprised at how good it is.There have been several efforts to begin a paper j

posted 3:14:37pm Oct. 20, 2009 | read full post »




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