The New Christians

The New Christians


Should Christian Leaders Be Outed?

posted by Tony Jones

Do you think that Christian leaders who publicly support same sex marriage, gay rights, etc., should be pushed out of the closet?

Last fall, I publicly affirmed gay marriage as a Christian and biblically virtuous lifestyle. Of course, not all Christians agree with me. But some do. In fact, some Christian leaders do.

marriage.jpgLast weekend I was on the phone with one such leader (don’t even try to guess). He supports gay couples in his congregation — he’s a pastor — and he answers questions honestly when asked. But he also knows that as his influence rises (speaking, book deals, etc.), he’ll suffer consequences for telling the truth.

Another friend of mine who has never made a public pronouncement on the issue of homosexuality recently had a two-book deal nixed by a publisher, in large part on the issue of homosexuality. When he asked them to point to one instance of his positioning on this issue, they could not. But they said it was enough that he hadn’t spoken out against homosexuality and that he hung around people (ahem) who do support gay marriage.

And yet other Christian leaders on the progressive side of evangelicalism consistently tap dance when asked about homosexuality. Because, you see, if they indicate in any way that they’re softening on the issue, they’ll get Ciziked.

And then, goodbye Zondervan, Baker, and Thomas Nelson. So long Q, Catalyst, and NPC. See you later Origins.


But my friend on the phone pushed back at me when I said that to stay silent about an issue on which someone has gained a conviction lacks integrity, especially when there’s book contracts and speaking gigs on the line. He said that it’s an issue of calling. Some, he said, are called to speak out about contentious issues like same sex marriage, but others are not. Their roles are pastors, not prophets.

I see his point, but it rings a bit hollow to me. On the other hand, I admit that I am in no way neutral on this issue, and just a year ago I was on the other side: I kept quiet about my emerging viewpoint because I didn’t want Emergent Village to get tarred-and-feathered because of me.

So, I put it to you? Does a Christian leader who supports gay rights and gay marriage, but refuses to say so in public, lack integrity? Or is it an issue of calling? Or is it yet something else that I fail to see?

(This is NOT a debate about same sex marriage, per se. It’s about how those of us who are Christian “leaders” (yes, I say that with a smirk on my face) should act publicly.)



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Ryan K.

posted May 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm


Tony while I may not agree with you on the issue of Gay marriage, I respect your willingness to state what you clearly believe. I think you hit the nail on the head of saying it rings hollow to say some are called to say what they believe to be true and good and other pastors are not; really I fail to see the logic behind that thinking.
If one believes that the Bible teaches something they should not refrain from teaching it and communicating it. After all, if we believe the Bible to be true and good for humanity to abide by we should no cower from its content because of possible consequences.
As a complementarian (I know a different issue) I have had to suffer consequences and rejection in certain circles from other Christians because of what I see the Bible commanding.
Though I may disagree with someone on what the believe the Bible says, I find it even more unsettling that some would be ashamed or be willing to suffer (if need be) for what they believe the Bible says.



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Aric Clark

posted May 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm


Integrity is individual. Every person has to do the work of determining whether their particular choices and behaviors in public reflect the truth of their private convictions. It can be hard to judge if someone is being hypocritical by refraining from public comment on a given issue – perhaps that issue just isn’t as important to that person. It would require a certain amount of mania to be unflinchingly public about one’s every opinion. Indeed, it would be egotistical to assume that every thought I have is worthy of public debate. On many matters discretion is indeed the better part of virtue.
That being said, I HAVE taken a public stand on this very issue as a matter of integrity. I did it when my ordination was on the line because I felt that I would not be able to speak in good conscience at a later time if I had failed to do so when there might be consequences for me personally. That was MY personal choice. I do not advocate the same for all people.



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Tim Mathis

posted May 21, 2009 at 6:32 pm


I say yes – it does lack integrity.
To my mind this is exactly equivalent to ministerial leadership during the civil rights movement. Better to have the courage of your convictions than to end up on the wrong side of justice, love and history. Speak so that as many people can hear as possible, but silence and denial can’t be seen as viable options.
Easy for me to say, in the Episcopal Church in liberal Seattle.



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Kester

posted May 21, 2009 at 6:33 pm


I don’t think a pastor needs to be silent on this, either way. They don’t necessarily need to dedicate a sermon series to it, but we shouldn’t adopt a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in church. I think pastors ought to adopt a general practice of openness and transparency. While I can see instances where a pastor might refuse to address an issue because they realize it is being asked by someone looking for an uncomplicated sound bite, I don’t see how a pastor can dodge this issue because they worry about the trouble their stance might get them in, whatever that stance might be.



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Ted Seeber

posted May 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm


Intellectual Honesty is the best policy.
In all things, Intellectual honesty is the best policy. That includes actually taking the lumps for heretical beliefs held.
In fact, I find it highly interesting that a community that wishes so much for tolerance, is equally intolerant in the other direction.
So I have to support, in the end, primacy of the informed conscience. IF a preacher has actually looked at all the evidence and brought himself to a moral conviction, then yes, he should be preaching that moral conviction. But he should also be honest enough to first leave behind the right to be a preacher in a community that came to the opposite conclusion. He should resign. And then make quite public the reason that he resigned.
I have looked at all the evidence presented, and I am not convinced homosexuality is either inborn nor “a virtuous lifestyle”. Biblically matters very little to me, 2 million years of human history and evolution matter more, as does an understanding of Marriage as a Sacrament. I’m not even convinced that a heterosexual couple who is infertile should be allowed to be married.
But that doesn’t mean I want to stifle the free speech rights of those who do.



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Dennis Coles

posted May 21, 2009 at 6:51 pm


Let’s not skirt around the bigger issue here: Tony Jones thinks he’s a “Christian leader”!
How is this the case? He’s a Christian author certainly. But a “leader”? Who are his followers (and please do not bring Twitter into the conversation here).



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Jesse Phillips

posted May 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm


Well, I disagree with you on the issue of homosexuality, but I agree that it does seem hollow to hide your true opinion for fear of the people – especially if you’re afraid of losing book deals and etc.
That sounds very much like the idea we see in the Prophets, where God says these false prophets only tell the people what their itching ears want to hear – they want to “please man” as Paul says.
I think probably most Christian leaders struggle with this (at least a little). I think it’s the reason we’ve gotten to the point we are with Christianity in America – operating in a way that’s safe and easy, avoiding the hard truths of the bible. maybe.? =)



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Jim

posted May 21, 2009 at 6:54 pm


But Ted, what about submitting to church authority? Suppose I say, “Hmm, it seems to me (biblically) that homosexuality is a virtuous lifestyle, but the pastor/bishop/church creed/whatever says otherwise. I choose to submit to the church’s teaching rather than defecting on account of my own convictions.” Isn’t this a viable option?



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Angela Harms

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:03 pm


Zondervan? Really? Bummer.
Tony, this is amazing. Are you really asking whether Christian leaders should lie or not? Should remain silent in the face of something *they see* as being hurtful (homophobia, I mean)? Should protect their career by misleading people about who they are and how they love God?
How can this question even come up? I feel nauseated.



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Jake Meador

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:05 pm


It seems like there’s a few different issues involved here:
First – Your church’s understanding of authority will inform your approach on some level. For example, if I’m someday looking to get ordained in the PCA (I say someday b/c right now that’s about eight years away, at least…) and support letting children take communion, I would need to respect the denomination’s authority on that issue and be very careful in my remarks on the issue. If someone asked me personally about my beliefs, I’d be honest about what I think, but it’d be dishonest and wrong for me to preach a sermon on why we should let children take communion when I’ve agreed to submit myself to a denomination that teaches otherwise. I think there’s a similar issue involved here, although it’s possible that disagreement on the morality of homosexual behavior is a significant enough disagreement to merit leaving the denomination.
Second – Biblically speaking, a Christian leader is serving in the church (broadly speaking) and is accountable to their local church and ultimately to Christ. They are not accountable to publishers or people in other denominations, or at least not in the same way. So if your primary reason for not addressing a given issue is fear of losing a book deal, my concern is you might be thinking about the issue like a capitalist rather than as a Christian. Then again, that’s easy for me to say since I haven’t been put into that situation.
It’s an interesting question Tony, I hope more people comment.



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Benjamin

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:14 pm


i disagree with your hermeneutic Tony, and especially when it plays out in same sex relations but….
maybe book deals and the praise of mere men shouldn’t be what we as people in the world and not of it should be concerned about.
just saying



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Benjamin

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm


furthermore
if you believe something, have the balls to say it.
Coward is exactly the right word



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Mandy

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:21 pm


I think this question can be broadened to include anyone who is employed any in way by a Christian ministry organization. It’s one thing to be a prominent voice in the national or international Christian community, but what of those who are trying to just survive in their church job? This issue along with my views on women in leadership was the primary incentive for me to leave church ministry all together. I simply could not reconcile the divisive, hurtful and politically active stance my church was taking. I recognized that as an individual, I did not represent the views the church was insistent on having defining us. I still volunteer with the kids I used to work with and left on good terms, but I could not live in the closet anymore, so to speak.
I think Christian leaders, whether their influence be great or small, need to come out of the closet. It doesn’t have to be a protest or a pride parade, it just needs to be an honest dialogue. The unfortunate part is that you will probably lose your job.
Going through the difficult process time and again of having this conversation with family, friends and ministry partners helps me to empathize with those who have abandoned Christianity completely because of their sexuality. The conversation is one-sided and close-minded and we are eliminating those who support SSM as soon as they dare voice their opinion. (See Dennis Coles’ comment)



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Mandy

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:22 pm


grammar fail: *having define us*



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Mike Hickerson

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:44 pm


Tony said: “… to stay silent about an issue on which someone has gained a conviction lacks integrity, especially when there’s book contracts and speaking gigs on the line.”
I suppose several questions need to be answered first. How strongly does a person feel this conviction? Is it a doctrine they are willing to die for? Do they normally announce publicly all of their convictions on various controversial topics? Have they been asked for their position by someone who deserves a straight answer (pardon the pun)? Do they have a larger “meta-narrative” for which this position serves as a keystone, or have they come to this position more or less by intuition? How important will this conviction be in 15, 25, or 50 years? Will their public stance on this conviction enhance or impede the reception of the gospel?



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Ted Seeber

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:56 pm


Dennis: My cousin’s wife Theresa may yet post here- and she’s *definitely* a follower of Tony’s. He’s got followers, a small flock of them, he’s as much a Christian Leader as any unaffiliated pastor can be.



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Lindsay Cullen

posted May 21, 2009 at 7:57 pm


One of the (many) things which really attracted me to my current denomination (The Uniting Church in Australia) is its Code of Ethics for Ministry practice and in particular these two points: “Ministers shall… (c) accurately represent the degree to which experts in a discipline support their views; (d) accurately represent opposing views;”
What this means is that REGARDLESS of my personal views (which actually accord with Tony’s), I have an ethical obligation to let my congregation know that this is an item of genuine controversy and to fairly and accurately represent both sides of the question.
This means that whether I feel ‘called’ to a prophetic role of change agent, I need to be enabling people to see more than one point of view and supporting them in thoughtfully working through their own decision on the issue.
If people took this approach, then I’d be ok about them not creating a big stir about it publicly. What I have no time for is people who pretend that there is only one adequate Christian answer.
And speaking personally, I think we need a lot more people like Tony who are OPEN to hearing the call to be prophetic about this issue.



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Ted Seeber

posted May 21, 2009 at 8:03 pm


Jim wrote:
“But Ted, what about submitting to church authority? Suppose I say, “Hmm, it seems to me (biblically) that homosexuality is a virtuous lifestyle, but the pastor/bishop/church creed/whatever says otherwise. I choose to submit to the church’s teaching rather than defecting on account of my own convictions.” Isn’t this a viable option?”
I believe it to be somewhat of a viable option. But it would depend on how strongly one felt his conviction.
For a Catholic, it comes down to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (how wonderful of John Paul The Great it was to give us this universal Catechism!), canons 1795-1801. This is often called the Doctrine of the Informed Conscience- and until one’s conscience is formed on a subject, submission is in fact the *only reasonable option*. But once formed, once a person becomes morally certain, then it becomes much more black and white- and at that point, for the ordained individual, one has to make a choice whether to speak truth to power or keep one’s job. Primacy of Conscience (Canon 1800) rules, not necessarily being submissive.



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Kenton

posted May 21, 2009 at 8:34 pm


Doesn’t Jesus speak of the wisdom of counting costs (Luke 14)?



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Liz

posted May 21, 2009 at 8:34 pm


I am not a minister and don’t earn my living that way so my opinion doesn’t really count for much imo…but it seems to me that the question should be “is it necessary for Christians to stand with people that we believe are being treated unjustly.” If you are a Christian and do believe that gay marriage is okay then I would think you probably believe that gay people are mistreated.
I stayed silent for a while (after I discovered there was not enough evidence to support the idea that homosexuality/gay marriage is a sin)until I was reminded that sometimes all it takes for a good person to do evil is for them to do nothing. I don’t know if I would have spoken out about it if it would’ve affected my livlihood but what I would do and should do are two different things.
Mike – I think you are asking the wrong questions…does conviction come in degrees? what degree of conviction makes it necessary for us to do something? doesn’t everyone deserve a straight answer? (let your yes be yes and your no be no) I could go on but I guess what I am saying is that it sounds like most of those questions are just a way to get someone off the hook.



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jim

posted May 21, 2009 at 8:58 pm


I’m pretty much in agreement with Lindsay.
As a minister within a denomination in which the issues are not settled, as a leader in a particular church where the majority are more conservative than me (I did not talk with my congregation about these issues when they called me, nor was I of one mind on them at the time), and as a thinker who has until recently been in personal state of flux on these issues, I think I’d simply do more harm than good by just standing in the pulpit and “outing” myself or having someone do it for me.
There is a sense in which the pastoral role is more important than the prophetic role. Or I should say until the pastoral role is exercised you cannot be prophetic. Meeting people where they are and not discounting their perspective and acknowledging that there are a variety of possible Christian options gives you more integrity to speak honestly and frankly about these issues and to perhaps address them with others in a way that is winsome instead of off putting.



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Liz

posted May 21, 2009 at 9:28 pm


Jim – When I read the gospels it appears to me that Jesus took a stand against injustices even when it rocked the boat and I think he was an excellent pastor/shepherd.



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Steve K.

posted May 21, 2009 at 9:33 pm


Tony,
Your nitpicky editor friend here: “Do you think that Christian leaders who publicly support same sex marriage, gay rights, etc., should be pushed out of the closet?” Shouldn’t the word “publicly” be removed from that sentence? If they are already “publicly” supporting same sex couples, aren’t they already “out of the closet”? I’m just saying … You might want to edit that ;-)
That is my only comment at this time,
Steve K.



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Jules

posted May 21, 2009 at 9:35 pm


I speak from not being “out” to my parents, but to pretty much everyone else I say this with a deep understanding.
I don’t think they should be outed. I think for all of us in the LGBTA (add the “A” Tony, y’all are important too!) have our own path to follow and what it must look like. how can I tell a minister, pastor (or whatever institutional label they carry) to out themselves when I, myself, struggle with when to do it myself.
On the other hand, I think at some point, just with anything, you must poop or get off the pot, as it were. ;) For me, I’m prayfully seeking how the “how and when”. I would hope these men and women are doing the same. I think to hold on to titles and all that it holds because of fear of loss is wrong. Why do we hold to these, yes, ok, fine, its an income and who wants to lose that. However, the church itself was never meant for that in the first place. So I think to take a stand on where you stand on any issue and to come out becomes this, are we going to be completly and utterly authentic even at the cost of losing it all. I had to answer that question as I worked on my sexuality. And I would hope that our allies are doing the same.



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NS

posted May 21, 2009 at 10:28 pm


Yes, it lacks integrity, without question. And who’s “calling?” Brett Favre? Jesus? The Universe? Yahweh? The Buddha? Obama? James Taylor? Bruce Springsteen? George Bush?
First, to remain silent because of a spiritual/religious/God/Jesus “calling,” is hypocritical. If the “call” is from Jesus, the “call” is to be a voice for those who do not have a voice, love where love is absent, protect where fear is persistent, move beyond social constructions and challenge the collective status quo. There is no other “call.” Silence indicates conformity to social norms.
I hold so many stories from people who were hurt by the silence of their pastors and prophets (leaders).
Second, it seems to me, it is imperative that we lead by example. Pastors and prophets speak about collective, human issues not about contentious issues. Social construction has made same sex attraction a contentious issue. Pastors and prophets provide opportunities for understanding, education, reflection, redirection, reconciliation, growth, and movement on mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical experiences. Leaders should speak. It is a matter of diminished humanity and the words of leaders start movements for justice.



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Your Name

posted May 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm


I am suprised over and over again at the grace and compassion that gay people like Jules show towards those who have mistreated them either overtly or through our silence.
It was the love and grace of my own son, who is gay, that finally made me think that I had to find out for myself if scripture really said that homosexuality was a sin.
I wonder if there had been a pastor who would have “come out” if perhaps I would have looked into the issue on my own earlier, if perhaps my son may have felt that he could talk to someone about what was going on with him (he spent so many years dealing with being gay alone)? People like me need you to stop being silent – people like my son need you to stop being silent – people like Jules need you to stop being silent.
Do you realize that there are young people committing suicide because they are so full of shame and guilt because of what their churches and families believe about homosexuality?
Your silence is NOT helpful. Your silence is harming us.



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Liz

posted May 21, 2009 at 10:34 pm


Sorry – the “Your Name” post was me – you know the story…the capcha expired and I forgot to type in my name the second time around.



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Albert the Abstainer

posted May 21, 2009 at 10:43 pm


Appropriate Edmund Burke quotes:
No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
And if I do not stand up for what I know to be right, I am the most contemptible of people, having surrendered courage for cowardice and integrity for hypocrisy. — Albert (in the spirit of Edmund Burke)



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Your Name

posted May 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm


Great comments so far! As an openly lesbian pastor (UCC), I have certainly had some colleagues be privately supportive and publicly neutral, and this does smack of an inauthenticity.
I do believe, however that each of us has to discern carefully when we are called to “go public” with any sort of social justice/prophetic statements. And there is a similar discernment for LGBT people in regards to being out. I’ve always taught that Esther is our biblical model– closeted in the gentile king’s court, and when she realizes she is in the position to make a difference in “just such a time”, she comes out as Jewish.
Part of the discernment has to be question is “Who is being helped and who is being hurt by what I am doing now?” And another inportant part of discernment always has to be, of course, our friends inviting us to consider if we are avoiding God’s call by trying to hold onto our priviledge (jobs, contracts, etc.) or trying to avoid dealing with any negative fallout (people we love being hurt or angry with us,etc.). The question to keep coming back to in sincere discernment is “What is God calling me to do in this matter and when?”



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Lindsay Cullen

posted May 21, 2009 at 10:54 pm


Let me build on my first comment to make clear that I am NOT saying that christian leaders should be pastoral before being prophet. I think the two are intertwined. What I WAS saying is that as a MINIMUM FIRST STEP, we should be helping our congregations to understand and have tools to evaluate both sides of this (or any other) question openly. This kind of openness will then hopefully create an atmosphere where EVERYONE – leaders and others can be honest about their own opinions, doubts or journeys.
I also think that those of us with clear convictions ought to be clearly articulating them, and certainly not holding back from proclaiming this as an issue of justice and of the gospel.



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Jules

posted May 21, 2009 at 10:59 pm


thank you! I’m assuming this is Liz? If not I apologize, you sound a lot like her.
You bring out a good point. I struggled with finding a minister, pastor, ect to talk to. I had fear to do so, because the last thing I needed was a lecture. I didn’t need to hear, “well, it is a sin” and you just assumed most are “against you” because of their silence and of course, their not so silent view.
I sat in my therapist office, who was not a “christian” per se, and I remember him saying that he didn’t know how I did it. How I kept my faith, fought for it with all that is taught from the pulpit. I kept it because it was my number one. I refused to be another LGBT casuality of sorts, walking away totally from their faith. It would have been a lot easier had I known someone in the evangelical world was supportive. That would have help me up in prayer. So yes, to this end, our supporters need to come out. We need you to listen, we need you to pray with us and so much more. Heck, I STILL need it.
On the other hand, like my original post states, how can I ask them to do something I’m still mucking through. Still praying through. I only hope on the journey we all come to a place where we do come out and a new face to this discussion is brought to light.



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Your Name

posted May 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm


I’m wondering where you got that interesting photo to go with this post. It must be widely available, for I ran across it on the homepage of http://www.MarriageNewsNow.com (Why gay marriage law matters – http://tiny.cc/lnBTe)
Are all photos these days just public domain because the Web can’t regulate all the activity?



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Your Name

posted May 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm


Link mistake. Sorry. Try again.
“Why gay marriage law matters” – http://tiny.cc/lnBTe
It’s still an interesting photo.



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Kirk Moore

posted May 21, 2009 at 11:11 pm


It’s easy to be public when you have the support of the congregation or denomination. It’s not so easy when to be public affects your livelihood — your ability to support a family, pay bills, etc.
I don’t think “outing” someone for their silence is the right thing to do. Each person owns their privacy. But encouraging all to be authentic in their public and private opinions is a good thing.
And in case I haven’t been public enough, and in case someone is itching to out me . . .
I’m Kirk Moore – and I support marriage equality.



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Future Pastor

posted May 21, 2009 at 11:20 pm


You know, this is the very issue that is the crux of my discernment on where and how I do ministry. My denomination is split 50/50 on the issue. There are some areas of the USA that are safe to be “out” as an LGBTQ ally. And where I come from, pastors have to be “in the closet” or be vilified by our peers. I understand that being an ally means I have to stand up to bullies, speak against homophobia from the pulpit, and advocate for civil rights for LGBTQ persons. So what to do? Go back “home” to be a “prophetic witness” in a dark place? Or go someplace where I can “let my light so shine?”
This is probably the biggest barrier to ordination for me right now.



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Jim Marks

posted May 21, 2009 at 11:22 pm


EVERYTHING always comes back to real people. REAL PEOPLE. Real people being pushed out of the church, or pushed away from the church because no matter how hard G-d tugs at their heart, Christians throw up walls of hatred and rejection.
We ALL have a DUTY to show love to everyone. EVERYONE. This means if you have a conscience, you have a calling, to speak out about these real people. This isn’t an “issue”. This is REAL PEOPLE. People who are hurting, and wandering lost, because WE PUSH THEM AWAY.
It isn’t even about integrity. Its about the fruits of the spirit. Even if you think homosexuality is a sin and are completely against gay marriage, you still MUST LOVE everyone, and welcome them and minister to them. If you are pro-gay rights and pro-gay marriage and you keep silent, your faith is drying up.
Period.



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Liz

posted May 21, 2009 at 11:26 pm


Jules – that was me – you remind me of my son – he has never given up on his faith either.
To the person that asked about the picture (since Tony doesn’t usually chime in here)…I have seen that picture or something similar on Flickr in the Creative Commons section – that section has photos that are legal to use. There are other sites also available that have Creative Commons pictures. Most people I know use these legal pictures for their blogs.



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jim

posted May 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm


thanks tony and all the rest: I’m not going to sleep tonight thinking about this post and the responses, along with my own feeble response. I’d like to write more but I just need to wrestle with this.



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Rachel H. Evans

posted May 21, 2009 at 11:57 pm


Great post. I’m so glad someone is talking openly about this!
I wrote a spiritual memoir, (to be published in 2010 by one of the Christian houses mentioned above), and I found myself wrestling with how best to address homosexuality. My audience is fellow twenty-somethings, and we can smell insincerity from a mile away, so I wanted to speak honestly about my friendships with gays and lesbians and how those friendships have made me rethink some of my old positions. However, I felt I had to stop short of spelling out my own perspective on the issue –mainly because I’m still piecing together my perspective, but also because I don’t want to deal with the backlash that would inevitably result.
The truth is, a lot writers are just as afraid of alienating our friends and readers who support gay unions as we are of alienating our friends and readers who do not. As a creative writer, I try to let my characters tell the story and my readers reach a conclusion. I’d like to think that I do this is because I’m a good writer…but most days I fear it’s because I’m just not bold enough to come out and say exactly what I think.
Hopefully we will advance in the dialog to a point that no one is afraid to speak openly. I think this is a step in the right direction, Tony. Few are brave enough to start difficult conversations.



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Liz

posted May 22, 2009 at 12:08 am


Rachel – I love your honesty and transparency. I got a little worked up tonight because I felt like some people here in the comments were trying to justify being silent with all the talk about being pastoral or being “called” etc. I understand the fear – I don’t have a job or a book deal that will be affected but I still tremble about speaking out about this issue – afraid that I will be misjudged, misunderstood, rejected – and I know a lot of gay people who also understand the fear and can relate (like Jules said here earlier). But it is another thing when people try to make it sound noble or right. I just wanted to say how much I respect you for being honest about your position and the things you struggle with. In my book that is a demonstration of integrity.



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Tony Myles

posted May 22, 2009 at 12:39 am


To even write a response to this blog, using my real name, is a risk. It links back to my blog, which in itself is a risk for any pastor to have… it exposes my thoughts on good days and bad days, from 3pm to 3am.
And that’s my point – I am aware that my life is most turned up when I think it’s turned down. The time on a Sunday morning that I teach is a challenge to the church to be sure, but it is also an invitation to watch my life and see if I live like I lead… which is the only place you truly ever lead anyway.
So when I walk in the video store, I feel the eyes of people on me, wondering where I’ll stop and what I’ll look at. If I contact my internet provider, I wonder if they wonder why I did a Google search on “teenage sexuality.” You get the point.
I think you ask a valid question, but it is incomplete. There’s a context you are missing, and I see it because I stand against this issue on the other side. I am against homosexuality as much as I am against heterosexual sin. I am also for the people who struggle with either. But I do not recognize gay marriage as a Christian and biblically virtuous lifestyle.
Which is why I believe in the next 20 years people like myself will be “outed” by Christians who have shifted into power on this issue. I/we will be seen as archaic and traditional, and our churches will suffer in attendance because around the corner there is another church with a more inclusive stance on such matters. I get asked all the time by email from people who want to know “What kind of church are you when it comes to homosexuality?” I never know how to answer, because I want both categories of people who would ask that question to know that God loves them and there is a place for them in our church community.
And yet doesn’t it seem that as time goes on we will want to include everyone in the book of life? Yesterday, my sons asked, “Why can’t the devil have another chance? Maybe we should get people to make pictures for the devil and ask God to forgive him.”
I know this is a question of if leaders should be forthright about their stance on this matter. My point in writing what I have is to simply say that it may be difficult now for those who support gay marriage, but it’s only a matter of time before conservatives start putting tape over their mouths instead.



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Theresa Seeber

posted May 22, 2009 at 1:03 am


The thing is, will we stand up for the oppressed? I know “What Would Jesus Do?” was a really popular catch phrase for a while, and had its benefits, but really it is theologically unsound. Jesus dwells among and within us, and we need to be asking right now, “What is Jesus doing?” and “How can I join in?” Not everybody will have an opportunity to stand up for every injustice in this world, so I don’t think we need to go on a scavenger hunt. But I think there is a need to call each other into accountability when it comes to injustice. This is one injustice of which I speak. But there are many, many more. Where is Jesus leading you? Will you be bold enough to follow?



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Sandra

posted May 22, 2009 at 1:23 am


I am pleased to see people in the evangelical community struggling with these issues. Twenty -one years ago, my own denomination, The United Church of Canada, struggled with the question of whether sexual orientation was a significant enough factor to determine who was fit to be ordained to ministry. At that time we concluded that the Spirit blows where it wants and that fitness was not determined by orientation. The decision to openly welcome gays and lesbians into the order of ministry (many were already there but not open) was not an easy decision and many people left the denomination as a result. But we survived.
Two decades later it seems like a no brainer. We live in a country where gay marriage is possible. In the church in which I worship on Sunday morning, our minister and her partner (also clergy) are present with their two young sons. To everyone gathered, hetero or homosexual, they are just another young family struggling to get everything together in time for Sunday worship.
It’s the quality of our relationships and not our sexual preferences that is important. I don’t think Jesus gave a rat’s ass about this issue.



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Johnny Brooks

posted May 22, 2009 at 3:07 am


I don’t know. Seems to me that not saying something you believe to be worth saying to protect a book deal, conference speaking invites, and a pastoral position, is just plain dishonest.
Yet what do I know? Apparently to be a Christian leader you need book deals, to be invited as a speaker in a conference, and have a large church to rule over.
Perhaps we need to change our definition of leadership? Then what would it matter what these guys/gals say or do not say?



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Dan Hauge

posted May 22, 2009 at 3:19 am


In general, I think it is a good thing for anyone, including Christian ‘leaders’, to come out and be forthright about what they believe on important, controversial issues. But I would also say that you, Tony, got the opportunity to choose how and when you made that public profession, and other Christian leaders should have the same opportunity.



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John van de Laar

posted May 22, 2009 at 4:17 am


I write as someone who has lost a book deal over this issue – I ended up self-publishing and glad I did. I also write as one whose wife (also a clergy-person) was invited to be resident minister at a vibrant suburban church, and then had the invitation rescinded because of a chapter she wrote about the church’s pastoral care (or lack of) for homosexual Christians.
I understand the costs that can be incurred when taking a stand like this, and I don’t believe that anyone else can make the decision to bring those sacrifices on another person. It is simply wrong and manipulative to force another person into a public position that they may not yet be ready to take. Compassion should make this an easy call, I believe.
That said, I do believe that those who have come to a position of conviction should be prepared to make their position public whatever the cost – isn’t that what taking up your cross is all about? If we’re not prepared to stand for what we believe, I can’t help but question whether we really believe it. I also find myself thinking of the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller: “And then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak…”
For what it’s worth.



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Nathan

posted May 22, 2009 at 5:21 am


I agree with Dan and John… people need opportunity for ideas and beliefs to gestate before embracing, let alone sharing or living them.
Expecting expression of someones views prematurely is unfair.
Coercion and manipulation…? How ’bout rather patience and understanding… encouragement?



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Your Name

posted May 22, 2009 at 7:15 am


I would pose a very different question. When confronted by injustice, intolerance and bigotry, if a man stands silent, can he even call himself a christian leader, a christian or even a righteous man?



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Husband

posted May 22, 2009 at 8:40 am


“Another friend of mine who has never made a public pronouncement on the issue of homosexuality recently had a two-book deal nixed by a publisher, in large part on the issue of homosexuality. When he asked them to point to one instance of his positioning on this issue, they could not. But they said it was enough that he hadn’t spoken out against homosexuality and that he hung around people (ahem) who do support gay marriage.”
Um, Tony, I’ll answer your question about whether or not Christian “leaders” who support equality should be outed shortly, but first, howzabout ‘outing’ this anonymous publisher for such a scurrilous attitude?
Surely the religious reading market should know that pro-equality voices – and they are numerous – are being silenced.



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Your Name

posted May 22, 2009 at 8:44 am


Aric Clark said:
“Indeed, it would be egotistical to assume that every thought I have is worthy of public debate.”
Tell that to Rod Dreher ;{O)



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Tony Jones

posted May 22, 2009 at 9:15 am


Husband, I wish I could, but it’s not my story to tell. You can probably narrow it down by reading my post…



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Robert R.

posted May 22, 2009 at 9:28 am


For heaven’s sake, getting published by Zondervan is not an inalienable right. And if your friend really has convictions that push him or her away from Fundamentalism, why not take the cue and go where their work will be valued? Sheesh. Whinygelicals.



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Your Name

posted May 22, 2009 at 10:03 am


Hey Tony I would love to have some of your resources that support your affirmation of gay marriage as a Christian and biblically virtuous lifestyle. I totally understand the frustration of two faced religious people and the hypocrisy they infect the world with. I’d just like to see how you landed on the Christian biblical part. Any resources would be helpful.



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Matt Boehm

posted May 22, 2009 at 10:05 am


I agree with the tone of Husband but having worked in Christian retail a while back (a circumstance conductive to wanting nothing to do with Christians anymore BTW) I wonder what kind of thing that says about Christian publishing as a whole.
Market forces drive the decisions that Christian publishers make. Unammed Publisher might not even have been asking because they give a flying fig one way or another on the this debate. Instead it’s more a “how likely are you to get protested and make our investment in you worth nothing?” question.
If I’m right then what does that say about Christians and especially their leaders? We can’t agreeably disagree on an issue? Why is it that so many Christians can’t have a nuanced view of important issues?
That’s the bigger question (maybe so big that I’ve completely blown off the initial question, but I think my question definitely informs the question under discussion).



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Matt

posted May 22, 2009 at 10:49 am


I can’t help but thinking, again and again and again, that people’s assumptions about sexual orientation are wrong.
We are told endlessly that sexual orientation is inherent, something akin to skin color. This is not true. It is what we are told and it is what being gay FEELS like, but it is not true. There is a difference.
I fear that there will never be constructive dialogue around this issue because neither side can agree to the ground rules.
Of course, IF sexual orientation is unchangeable, permanent, God-given, beautiful… then we MUST protect and celebrate and fight for it. Just like civil rights. I totally get that.
If you DO believe that, truly believe that in your soul, then by all means proclaim it.
But I know that I’ll never be able to believe it, no matter how much I “want” to for the sake of loving my neighbor and fitting in to the emergent conversation.
I’ll have to figure out *my* path of integrity, which is to be WELCOMING and LOVING to all, but not AFFIRMING of behavior that God can never bless.



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hootie1fan

posted May 22, 2009 at 10:51 am


Christians, especially conservative Christians, seem to be suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. They know what they want their values to be, but too many of them & their leaders have proven to be closet hypocrites.
They must also confront the very real possibility that many in future generations may not believe in the message they are giving or living and therefore look for their religion/spirituality elsewhere.
Do “Christian” retailers have the right to out certain people they disagree with? Certainly, but they should also understand that this may very well make them irrelevant to the point of bankruptcy.



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Darren King

posted May 22, 2009 at 12:28 pm


Matt,
Are you saying that no amount of evidence could ever sway you? Or that you just don’t believe conclusive evidence will ever be found? Clearly these are two very different questions.



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Rachel H. Evans

posted May 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm


For me, it’s not simply that I’m afraid of losing my book deal. It’s that I’m afraid of being wrong – and having it in writing for the rest of my life. On the one hand, I see that if this is indeed simply a civil rights issue, I am obligated (in fact, called) to defend the defenseless and stand up for justice. If this is the case, I fear that I may one day look back and be ashamed that I did not speak up sooner. On the other hand, if the homosexual lifestyle is indeed sinful, I cannot in good conscience urge the Church to embrace it wholeheartedly. Sometimes I tell myself that at 27, I shouldn’t have to make up my mind just yet…but I can see where this might look like a cop-out.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m wondering if there are more people out there who are genuinely still trying to figure things out, who are just not ready to take a stand because they’re still not sure exactly where they stand and are afraid of misspeaking. Perhaps this post struck a cord because a lot of us are insecure about our own positions. I know that I am.
(For the record, I do believe gay marriage should be legal, and I believe the Church has grievously mishandled this issue. I’m just trying to figure out how we can do it better.)



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Anon

posted May 22, 2009 at 4:09 pm


Their roles are pastors, not prophets.
Remaining strategically silent about what role (if any) LGBT people should have in the church (and society) seems like a shirking of pastoral care as well.
Pastors have LGBT members of their flock, not to mention family and friends of LGBT people. With the current cultural tumult about the place of gays in the church and society, LGBT folks, their friends, and their families need pastoral guidance even more urgently, particularly since much anti-LGBT agitation comes from ostensibly “Christian” circles. With more and more gay folks being out of the closet and with gay rights being a major political issue, pastoral silence on gay issues is inconsistent with providing proper pastoral care.



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Scott Kushigemachi

posted May 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm


I don’t have an answer, but I have one quick thought.
I remember seeing an interview with Bono recently where he talked about how Michael Moore took him out to lunch and gave him permission to focus on AIDS in Africa and global poverty, and to NOT feel the need to address other more divisive issues (Iraq, etc.) even though he might have strong convictions in those areas. Moore recognized that what Bono’s trying to do requires that he focus on consensus building, which, as a public figure, has involved him remaining silent on a number of things. Moore felt that he and others could address those things.
Is there a legitimate kind of “teamwork,” that allows people to discern who will speak out and who will abstain? In the case of Bono, I think this makes a lot of sense. How similar or dis-similar is the homosexuality issue? And where would you draw the line–that is, are there some things that require everyone to speak up, no matter what their position, and some things that don’t?



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Matt

posted May 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm


Darren,
I am saying I don’t believe conclusive evidence will ever be found. I truly believe that gays and lesbians who really WANT to change, in the power of Jesus, can change. Probably not completely or quickly, although I believe that God can do that too… but measurably. And I believe that out of my own study and my own experience.
But even in saying that, I know there will be those who say gays and lesbians shouldn’t even *want* to change, that our wanting to change has to do more with societal pressure than anything else.



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Matt

posted May 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm


And furthermore, I am saying that gay/lesbian sexual behavior is always sin… and that this is something foundation and unchanging. Not like it used to be sin and now it’s not…Not even that we used to *think* it was a sin and now we know better. I think it’s always been sinful and in need of redemption and it always will be.
I know that’s not popular.
But I think we give up on the transformative power of Jesus when we give in on this one. It’s real. God wants to heal us. And yes, I believe those of us who are attracted to the same sex need healing.



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Geoff

posted May 22, 2009 at 5:44 pm


the thing that upsets me the most is how much attention the issue of homosexuality gets from christians!!!
look how many responses there are to this post compared to the others from this week…
i don’t get it. it is hardly mentioned in the bible, the things that are most mentioned (like justice, inclusion…) are mostly ignored by mainstream christianity, but this issue is so latched onto?!?
to me the issue about weather or not homosexuality is a “sin” or not is irrelevant. that is between the people and god. i would hate for all of christianity to be arguing over weather or not i could be a christian because of certain things in my life!
jesus tells us to follow his example. that is to include and love everyone, regardless of anything. infact, the only people we see jesus get mad at in the bible are the people who are getting in the way of including and loving everyone…
so to me the issue of right or wrong is a waste of time…the issue is why does what jesus teach seem to not apply to homosexuals?



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Theresa Seeber

posted May 22, 2009 at 9:12 pm


Your Name
May 22, 2009 10:03 AM:
http://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php
Homosexually as acceptable by a Biblical standpoint.



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Jules

posted May 22, 2009 at 10:20 pm


talk about weird. I was just about to post Justin’s side of the Side A/Side B debate.
I also posted on my blog some thoughts. It weak right now, but I posted it right now, as is.
Blessings!
PS: I say this about GCN, they have a strict commenting policy. If you try to go there to make statements such as, “it is a sin”, it will not be allowed. Please respect that community. It has been a kind place for me.



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Steven Sandlin

posted May 22, 2009 at 10:23 pm


How in God’s name gay sex preferences and being black or a woman came to be equated is beyond me. It’s so illogical that it seem almost purely propagandistic.
Race and gender are 100% heritable, absolutely immutable, and primarily non-behavioral conditions of life, and therefore, intrinsically benign. Homosexuality and transsexuality are none of these things.
And Obama and Miss California agree that gay marriage makes no sense at all:
“Strange Bedfellows: Obama and Miss California Views Identical on Marriage”
http://marriagenews.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/strange-bedfellows/
Obama has spoken. No gay marriage means no gay marriage, not ever.



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LutheranChik

posted May 23, 2009 at 6:53 am


Progressive movements in the Church need both activists and the persons who work quietly behind the scenes to promote change. I don’t think it’s a matter of “integrity”; it’s a matter of using all the tools in the toolkit to acheive the goal. I’m old enough to have lived through the Sturm und Drang in Lutheranism over the role of women in the Church, and it was a combination of “out front” activism and quiet retooling of patriarchal systems and assumptions that finally won the day in what became the ELCA.
Speaking as a gay Christian in an affirming faith community, I appreciate all the help we can get. While I’m not an Evangelical and don’t have a dog in y’all’s fight, I can see no point in “outing” someone whose advocacy for gays and lesbians in the Church is done quietly and locally; it seems that the only purpose that would serve would be to further lather up some of the angry young men represented by some of the respondents here, eager for a witchhunt.



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deb mason

posted May 23, 2009 at 8:02 am


If you read our HOly Bible, you will find in God’s Word there will be no feminist in Heaven, this means gays, . It is not right in Gods eyes, or in mine , this is the way of man’s wicked world. I’m ready for Jesus’ return, I suggest you get your soul ready also, It won’t be long because this world is like, Sodum and Gorhmora( can’t spell)Jesus will be returning. Get ready.



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Panthera

posted May 23, 2009 at 8:05 am


Tony,
Thank you for providing a forum to discuss this very important topic.
Part of my profession is to meet with young professors and pass on my “experience” and “acquired skills” to them under the rubric of “knowledge transfer”. Instead of the week long seminar I lead, I could probably have told them everything of real value in two minutes. “Listen first, speak not” being 99%.
The venue this week was a Catholic university which, being accredited, participates in our exchange program.
I hadn’t been there since shortly before my marriage four years ago, but have kept up our acquaintance. It may be hard to believe, reading the comments posted here on beliefnet by many purported Doctors of the Church, yet there is a strong history of academic excellence in the Church and her Universities. Yes, Ted, I mean you. You are one smart cookie, but your cherry picked doctrine is unworthy of you. I’m not going to engage you on that in this forum, but sometime soon, we are going to have to have a look at your two million years of “history”.
Barely had I arrived when the senior Administrator swept out of his office and gave me a bear hug. The 70 some-odd year old sister responsible for all the support work associated with our conference was right behind – she shook hands firmly (and yes, I do believe everything my Irish husband has told me about how strong the nuns were and how well they could wield the rod whilst not sparring the child), then took my hand and looked at our wedding band. “Pretty, she said. Understated, hand-made, masculine but not pretentious. Suits you just fine. And how would your husband be?” She wanted to see the inscription and approved of it, too. Here in Europe, we inscribe a special verse or statement inside the wedding bands, they are usually the same but not necessarily so. Latin has its uses, still, and ours(…anima my initial conligata est animae (his initial)…) is a statement which still rocks me to my very core.
Fascinating, how the conservative American Christians have committed the sin of false witness when rewriting 1 Samuel in modern English.
Now, the Church still opposes gay marriage, even here in Europe. But the Church in Western Europe has learned the lessons of the Nazi era: Human dignity is innate and untouchable.
I was made welcome; my conference was granted every possible support and every single person on the staff, whether lay or called made very clear to me how glad they were to have me: An open, gay Christian, in their house. On the last day of the conference, my host took the time to have breakfast with me. He gently pointed out that the Church was growing and becoming ever closer to Christ’s call and he looked forward to the day when I would join my husband in the Church.
What a contrast to the situation in the Christian body in America.
I know there is a firm core of conservative American Christians who will never accept my marriage. I know there are many who will never accept the scientific and medical consensus that homosexuality is innate, present in all high-order mammals and of value to society.
Fine. I do not need or desire anyone’s acceptance of my marriage; this nonsense that I seek approval by marrying is reductio ad absurdum.
We have now come to the point where many Christian communities and money-making institutions (and yes, that compound adjective very much grates on my nerves as a Christian) reject those Christians who find Biblical support for treating me and other gay and transgendered (especially those of us who are Christians) with Charity.
Think about that for a moment. Christians are placing financial interests ahead of God’s clear words to us on Charity.
I thought Niemöller’s complete statement might be worth citing here – those of you who have fought to defend us, my thanks:
Zuerst haben sie die Juden geholt
Und ich habe geschwiegen-
Ich war ja kein Jude
Dann haben sie die Kommunisten geholt
und ich habe geschwiegen-
Denn ich war kein Kommunist
Dann haben sie die Gewerkschafter geholt
und ich habe geschwiegen-
denn ich war kein Gewerkschafter
Dann kammen sie mich holen-
Und dann gab es keinen mehr
der protestieren konnte
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945



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cbenoist

posted May 23, 2009 at 10:57 am


if you are a christian leader and you support gay marriage then you are NOT A VERY GOOD CHRISTIAN AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! gay marriage is wrong and goes againist every thing that a christian believes in!! so yes in my opion the leaders should be outed that believe in gay marriage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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Panthera

posted May 23, 2009 at 11:06 am


cbenoist,
Actually, it is possible to be gay and Christian.
Question: Is poor orthography a symptom of or a result of a fundamentalist Christian orientation?
Every single time I read one of these “Teh GaYs are comming! Teh gAys are comiing!!” posts, an image comes to mind of Rumpelstiltskin jumping up and down and demanding the sun orbit the earth.
And these are the people who claim to know God’s will? The mind boggles.



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LutheranChik

posted May 23, 2009 at 11:27 am


If you are a christian leader and you support gay marriage then you are NOT A VERY GOOD CHRISTIAN AT ALL…
Hmmm…I’m a gay Christian leader, a lay minister working under the authority and with the approval of my pastor within our congregation; and he, our congregation, my spiritual director and numerous other Christian laypeople and clerics of my acquaintance would disagree with you.



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Hugh

posted May 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm


The Bible is the word of God. The Bible in both the Old and New Testaments forbids homosexuality as “despicable” and “unnatural”. Since we are called to love the sinner and hate the sin, I would not expel anyone from the church for being homosexual. But the Church as an institution is supposed to be Bible-centered. The Church therefore cannot “affirm” or “welcome” homosexuality as a “Biblically-affirmed behavior” and still remain in accordance with the Scriptures.
Sincerely,
Hugh
Yorktown VA



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William Mays

posted May 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm


LOL. It amazes me that every time an issue like this comes up, people approach it from an intellectual and circular point of view.
A Biblical, spiritual question can and should only be answered from a Biblical, spiritual view. God, The creator of heaven and earth is against this lifestyle. The bible is clear on this. Homosexuality is a sin against God. It is a rebellion against God.
Citing intellectual opinions of man, some religious guru, an animal or animals, professors, scientists or whoever or whatever is irrelevant. When you cite people’s opinion, no matter how well placed in society, be it now or five thousand years ago, is to contradict God. It is to call God a liar and the bible as untrue. A repeat of Satan’s clever move thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden.
I realize been gay is an emotional issue, because it has to do with the heart. It has to do with lust and pleasure. Not everything that feels good is right. Not with our society and not with God. God is God. He is not man. His words and directions are final.
The debate on homosexuality and other hot button issues remind me of a song that goes:
“Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies
(tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies)
Oh, no, no you can’t disguise
(you can’t disguise, no you can’t disguise)
Tell me lies
Tell me sweet little lies”



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LutheranChik

posted May 23, 2009 at 12:49 pm


On our side of the street Jesus Christ is the Word of God.



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LutheranChik

posted May 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm


William Mays: If your own heterosexual marriage relationship is focused on “lust and pleasure,” then I feel sorry for you and your significant other. My and my partner’s relationship is grounded in mutual respect, service and a shared vision of partnership as a family; the [i]eros[/i] is a gift of God, but not our primary raison d’etre as a couple.



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Jules

posted May 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm


It is sad that this discussion always dissolves into this stuff. It stops conversation and cuts people off.
Tony, thank you for your post. It was good to have the early discussion and to see people truly working through all of this. As I’ve shared, I continue to pray for those who are struggling through this issue with humility and honesty. Not from a place to condemn, but to work to an end that we all have fellowship with one another.
Blessings to all!
Jules



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Your Name

posted May 23, 2009 at 4:22 pm


to be honest with whoever reads this,why is this a conversation?
why is this news? the bible CLEARLY states that ANY deviant lifestyle
is a rebellion to GOD.stop trying to justify who you are as a person
because you live a lifestyle contrary to GOD.personally i could not
sit in a congregation where my pastor is gay. to me he’d be sending
mixed signals. JESUS had twelve disciples,and i don’t remember reading
about any of them telling JESUS about their sexual preference.the
same nonsense satan pulled on eve,he’s pulling on the churches.i don’t
think you understand just how intelligent satan is,to pull this off
just remember,people change,GOD NEVER CHANGES!!



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Panthera

posted May 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm


The fascinating thing about dealing with fundamentalist Christians is their inability to realize that their hatred of homosexuals and transgendered has come to define their entire relationship with God.
Or am I being overly generous?



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surveyor

posted May 23, 2009 at 8:37 pm


you should change your mind back to what it was a year ago



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David Anderson

posted May 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm


I’m finishing up my first novel. I think it will have obvious appeal to the Christian market, but I’m shying away from that market because I’m afraid once they find out I’m in favor of same-sex marriage, they’ll drop me like your friend. Of course that’s assuming a Christian publisher is actually interested in it. If they are, however, you’ve just given me a taste of what’s facing me.
I’d love to say your friend is a coward for not speaking up, but I can relate to his dilemma. But for those who say that homosexuality IS a sin, END OF DISCUSSION, no it’s not the end of discussion. If you really want to understand why some Christians like me agree with Tony, read a book called Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? I forget who the author is, but she backs EVERYTHING with scripture.
Tony, thanks for bringing this up. This is an issue that’s not going away, as much as Zondervan, Baker, and Thomas Nelson would like for it to.



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donald preston

posted May 23, 2009 at 9:46 pm


I think Christian leaders who publicly support same sex marriage, gay rights,etc., should be pushed out of their leader ship. Marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman not same sex.



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Mary Shepp

posted May 23, 2009 at 11:38 pm


Whatever one thinks of American Idol’s popularity contest, the ruling in California is going to have a real impact nationwide. It’s set for Tuesday!
Mayday, Mayday: What’s at Stake on 5-26-09?
http://marriagenews.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/mayday-mayday/
source: MarriageNewsNow



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Panthera

posted May 24, 2009 at 4:16 am


Ah, yes, donald preston – and God ordained that we should distinguish between the races by giving us all different colors and putting us on different continents, no?
That way we should never run the risk of, gasp!, marrying “outside of our race”.
You are being more than arrogant to assume you know God’s will on this matter.
Anytime and in any place where people are oppressed, it is the role of Christians, including the leaders, to show the world the fruits of the spirit.
Remember them? Oh, right, you fundamentalist Christians never worry about manifesting God’s love for us, all you care about is hating gays and transgendered.
For the rest of us, here’s a little comment from Paul on the matter regarding the way we Christians are to deal with each other when we disagree. And, no, Paul didn’t say you got to exclude gay Christians from this:
Colossians 3:12-16
12Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.



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Chris Scharen

posted May 24, 2009 at 6:52 am


T, Christian leaders should out themselves for the sake of those who struggle with self-hatred and who worry the Lord of heaven and earth hates them as well. I kept quiet on this issue at Yale b/c so we wouldn’t offend potential funding sources. But by that time I’d already written one book and lots of articles on this so I was pretty far out on the subject. But here at Luther Seminary the faculty seems in avoidance mode so I’ve struck out on a blog series working through the basic logic that unfolds from the primary conviction that God loves gays gay, that is, that homosexuality is not a ‘deviation’ from God’s good intention in creation, but an integral part of that original goodness. Here’s the tread: http://faithasawayoflife.typepad.com/blog/2009/05/god-loves-gay-desire-on-lutheran-debates-part-three.html
I’m proud you’ve spoken up and I admire you for this and many other reasons.
Peace,
Chris



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Panthera

posted May 24, 2009 at 7:55 am


Chris,
Thank you for that very useful and courageous post. I am going to look through your linked site.
I have certainly lost employment opportunities, been physically attacked, my husband nearly killed and otherwise discriminated against directly by fundamentalist Christians. I understand what it is like to be attacked by people who make such a pretense of your being part of the Christian body and then turn around and hurt you in the manner they do.
What makes this all even worse is that the most hateful of their leaders, men like Rod Dreher, admit that they are losing the battle to oppress us and see their impending loss as a reason to scorch even more earth, do even more harm to us and Christ’s body.



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Carol Boltz

posted May 24, 2009 at 9:07 am


As a former fundamentalist, I still have church friends who can’t see how or why I would support gay people in any way, and in my small way, I’m speaking up.
I believe it is imperative that leaders who follow Christ’s example of love to come out and speak of their support. It is not only speaking their conscience, but it will save lives. It is wrong to stand silent in their pulpits (or where book deals are involved) as gay young people (and older) think they have no hope in the church, and walk away from God. When there is no hope, many fall into depression or worse, loss of faith. And rather than know they are accepted by the faith communities they love, they are abandoned. We who support the lives of gay people MUST speak out.
Thank you, Tony, for speaking up. What will it take for the leaders to stand up?



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Jules

posted May 24, 2009 at 11:52 am


Carol!
I’m so glad you found this. I didn’t think about how your voice and Ray’s would speak so wonderfully to the tension of coming out and the loss of various “worldly things” in the ministry.
I know I appreciate your voice and the support you give those of us in the LGBTQ community! Thank you!
Jules
PS: Panthera and others, I’ve appreciated what y’all have shared as well. Thank you!



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Cylest Brooks

posted May 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm


I have two thoughts on this question:
1) I find it somewhat appalling that Christianity has become such an industry today– that people are sell their morals and values, for fear that they will lose money and prestige if they do not. It is also disheartening for me, as a person with a deep relationship with God, to see people in places of high power blatantly walking away from the truth which God revealed in their hearts. Mostly, it is shameful because they have chosen money and power over the truth of God– they are, through their words and their actions– worshiping idols.
2) There are many religious leaders in our country who have come out of the closet, only to find that their reputations were not [read: only mildly and temporarily] shattered– and that God has blessed their honesty and convictions by giving them opportunities they never would have dreamed possible. Mel White once considered himself a fundamentalist– now he is the founder of an organization that sits on the forefront of reconciliation between churches and LGBT people. In general, I believe that a call to ministry can only be truly enjoyed when you are ministering in line with the word of God. Coming out as an ally– or as an LGBT person– might just make their lives a whole lot better.
Those are my two thoughts.



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Panthera

posted May 24, 2009 at 1:51 pm


I suppose one of the hardest tasks we, as gay and transgendered Christians have is to be patient with those who know nothing of us except the hateful lies and false witness they have heard and read.
Every time a Christian leader comes out and says: “These people are God’s children, too”, it makes a difference. Not a big one, just a little one. Eventually, tho’, the tremendous isolation which Americans in general suffer from and conservative Christians in particular, is breached. Canada, Western Europe, Australia…most of Western Civilization grants us human status and human rights such as marriage. The more people learn of how other countries deal with us and how these countries are doing quite well, thank you, the harder it gets for the hateful christianists to maintain their lies.
I wouldn’t force someone out of the closet who is one our side but neutral. I would gladly and with loud trumpets playing shove a pig like Haggerty out into the public eye.
On a side note, I don’t think I will ever resolve myself to American political correctness. All these abbreviations remind me of ordering sandwich plates in diners – BLT, SoS, etc. So, is the “Q” in GLBTQ “queer” or “questioning?”. I’ll stick with gay and transgendered. Gay means both men and women who are homosexual, transgendered folks can be gay or straight. Since I don’t believe in bi-sexuality, I’ll just give that one a pass.



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Cylest

posted May 24, 2009 at 4:03 pm


I believe I read somewhere that “transgendered” is not the appropriate tense… and that we should use “transgender”, as in to denote the present.
I can’t say any more than that on the subject, though, since I can’t remember where I read this or why it was important.



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Panthera

posted May 24, 2009 at 4:22 pm


Good point – I’ve read four different names in the last two years and each was supposed to be the most appropriate.
I’m happy to use whichever feels right to the person I’m addressing.
My main concern is that we, as gay Christians not forget that there is a group of people who are treated even more like dirt than we are – those whose biological gender is not in line with their real gender.
I just don’t get it. I’m a man, and my husband completes me. I can’t imagine anything more unpleasant than being stuck for life in a woman’s body (be fun to try it for a bit, tho’). How can anyone demand of a person whose real gender doesn’t line up with their anatomy that they stay in that anatomical configuration?
Even more unfair than all those jerks around here who say I do have the right to marry – as long as its a woman. Which speaks volumes about how little they regard women…



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Mordred08

posted May 24, 2009 at 6:09 pm


Panthera: “On a side note, I don’t think I will ever resolve myself to American political correctness. All these abbreviations remind me of ordering sandwich plates in diners – BLT, SoS, etc. So, is the “Q” in GLBTQ ‘queer’ or ‘questioning?’. I’ll stick with gay and transgendered. Gay means both men and women who are homosexual, transgendered folks can be gay or straight. Since I don’t believe in bi-sexuality, I’ll just give that one a pass.”
I’m bisexual, so I’m pretty sure it exists whether you believe or not. Then again, people who limit themselves to a single gender when it comes to relationships are weird to me.



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Panthera

posted May 24, 2009 at 6:55 pm


Mordred08,
Well, I suppose my exclusive focus on men would seem weird to you if you truly are capable of building a relationship with someone of either sex.
I haven’t a clue as to female sexuality and should have more clearly phrased my remarks to mean “I don’t believe in male bi-sexuality”. I’ve read a far number of studies which indicate that the arousal patterns of gay men and “bi-sexual” men are similar and radically differ to those of heterosexual men.
My personal experience, both among my friends and acquaintances as well as in 17 years of listening to heart-broken students is that there are a number of men who like to have sex with other men but really want the socially recognition and security of their “true” relationship being with a woman. Never once have I seen the opposite. In every single case, when a decision had to be made, the bi-sexual chose to hurt the gay partner.
I’m sorry to sound so harsh, but that’s been my experience and the natural sciences seem to back me up. I know this isn’t politically correct and if you can show me that there really are bi-sexual men who consciously set out to establish a monogamous, faithful, true and life-long partnership with another man, forsaking anyone else – including women – then I’ll be more than happy to hear it.



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non-metaphysical stephen

posted May 24, 2009 at 8:06 pm


> “It is sad that this discussion always dissolves into this stuff. It stops conversation and cuts people off.”
This article was mentioned on GCN, and after reading it, I scrolled down through about 2/3 of the comments and noticed how nice it was that everyone was arguing with Tony’s main point and not about whether churches can be pro-gay. But it seems all the anti-gay folks found the post at the same time. How sad.
I almost wonder why they didn’t show up here earlier (maybe those folks don’t normally read Tony’s blog?). But I think I’ll celebrate the fact that for the first two days, there was respectful conversation over a difficult topic. ‘Twas lovely while it lasted!



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Mordred08

posted May 25, 2009 at 12:22 am


Panthera: “Well, I suppose my exclusive focus on men would seem weird to you” As does a straight man’s exclusive focus on women. “if you truly are capable of building a relationship with someone of either sex.” Well, personally I doubt I could build a relationship with anyone right now, but that’s more from being socially inept than my sexuality.
“I haven’t a clue as to female sexuality and should have more clearly phrased my remarks to mean ‘I don’t believe in male bi-sexuality’.” Well, I’m also male, so that doesn’t mean anymore to me than someone who says “I don’t believe in male homosexuality.”
“My personal experience, both among my friends and acquaintances as well as in 17 years of listening to heart-broken students is that there are a number of men who like to have sex with other men but really want the socially recognition and security of their ‘true’ relationship being with a woman. Never once have I seen the opposite. In every single case, when a decision had to be made, the bi-sexual chose to hurt the gay partner.”
So basically what you’re suggesting is…bisexuals aren’t really attracted to both genders. They’re just confused, or pretending. Hmm…where have I heard that argument before…?
“I’m sorry to sound so harsh” Well at least you realize how you come off. “but that’s been my experience and the natural sciences seem to back me up.” I guess I can’t argue with that. Carry on.
I guess I should be grateful that you didn’t throw transgenders under the bus as well. I have a few trans friends and I had an MTF (male-to-female) girlfriend in college, so they’re a minority whose safety I’m greatly concerned about.



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Panthera

posted May 25, 2009 at 1:51 am


Mordred08,
Either I said far too much or not enough.
First, I very much include transgender in our group, and always have, beginning back in the 1970′s when most folks, me included didn’t even know we knew anyone who had re-aligned their anatomy with their real gender (or wished they could).
You’re not going to knee-jerk me on that.
I don’t really think anyone in 2009 is going to pretend that women and men are identical in our sexual makeup. I am not denigrating either gender by saying I don’t understand female sexuality – from all I have read over the last years, most research until very recently just assumed women were the same as men in their sexuality – an assumption we thankfully no longer make.
Am I conflating bi-sexuality with multiple partners and unfaithfulness? It certainly is an eternal fight around here, with the conservative Christians charging that gays don’t want monogamy. I may very well be making an assumption based on decades of personal experience of gay men I know being hurt that is not valid for all bi-sexuals. Or, perhaps is and that is an aspect of sexuality I just have never personally accepted. So enlighten me, please.
It does take things off-topic and I apologize to Tony for it.
As long as I’ve kicked open that can of worms, all I can do is hope to have put them back in and hope not to have derailed the topic completely.



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Aideen

posted May 25, 2009 at 6:36 am


Tony, just wanted to say God bless you, it means so much to us LGBT folk to have allies like yourself. And I know how difficult it can be to come out as an ally.
To the people arguing over male bisexuality – relax. It exists. And just because you don’t happen to personally know any who have committed monogamous relationships doesn’t make that a fact (I happen to know one myself). That’s like taking a glance at mainstream gay culture and deciding all gay men are promiscuous, whereas I know from my time on GCN that there are scores of gay Christian men who are committed to abstinence until (same-sex) marriage.



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Panthera

posted May 25, 2009 at 10:18 am


OK, Aideen, I do admit – this is one of the biggest unspoken conflicts in the gay-lesbian-transgender-bi-sexual-questioning-queer and allied world.
I used to think it was a generational thing – bisexuals were too cowardly to admit they were gay, so used gay men and abused women. I figured, once we had human status, this would stop.
But dealing with university students (ranging in age between 19 and early -40′s) over the last 17 years has shown me nothing has changed.
I can intellectually conceive that one might be attracted to both sexes, tho’ the more exacting our scientific tools get, the less anatomical basis there is for making the claim. What I don’t get is all these purportedly bi-sexual relationships which work as faithful, monogamous marriages. I have yet to see even one.
I think it far more likely that what we have are gay men who are suffering their way through straight marriages at enormous cost and a large group of people who want to have their, um, cake and eat it, too.



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Cylest

posted May 25, 2009 at 11:05 am


Personally, I like the idea of pansexual over bisexual. The word bisexual, in its very core, upholds the idea of a gender binary– which inadvertently excludes transgender and gender-deviant people. When I hear someone self-identify as “bisexual”… I assume that it means that person is attracted to those who identify as men OR those who identify as women, but would not be attracted to those who identify as transgender or who do not claim a gender title.
Pansexual embraces the idea of gender fluidity… I like it because it recognizes the concept that we are drawn to people not because of their physical anatomy, but because of their inner being, their spirit. I would consider myself politically pansexual (although I believe my orientation is lesbian, I would never rule out the option of a long-term sexual relationship with a person who identified as male. This is no longer an issue, since I am happily committed in a long-term relationship, but you get the point.)
Bisexuality is a self-identification. We should be careful whenever we suggest that someone’s identification “doesn’t exist”…



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Panthera

posted May 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm


Cylest,
I am not quite sure how transgender and gender deviant people are excluded, but agree that pan-sexual has a much nicer ring to it.
But then, I probably know every Torchwood episode by heart…
I’ve spent a great deal of time this last day thinking about the whole topic of bi-sexuality. As a gay man, happily married to the man who has been my true, faithful loving and monogamous mate (goes both ways) for nearly one-quarter century now, I know that I should be tolerant and all politically correct here. After all, if you’ve followed our conversations here over time, I am one of the fiercest defenders of transgender people as well as those who do not fit in the neat little box of “male” or “female”.
I’ve come to a few conclusions. First, transgender doesn’t bother me a bit today because I have two colleagues I like who have switched to their true gender during our working acquaintance. Interestingly enough, they both are like me – European, but grew up in the US, and, like me, decided to return to Europe because we have no human status in the US. But that isn’t quite right,either, because it also didn’t bother me back in the 1970′s, and I didn’t knowingly have any friends or acquaintances who were coping with being stuck in the wrong body.
Did I start out more tolerant of bi-sexuals and lose that tolerance over time as I encountered more and more (and more and more) people whose lives had been torn to shreds by making the mistake of falling in love with a bisexual? I just don’t know. I’ve yet to encounter a bi-sexual who evidenced the slightest remorse at the damage they’d done, seen far too much attitude reminiscent of my cats’: “If you didn’t want me to tear it to shreds, you shouldn’t have left it within my reach. It’s my nature.”
I certainly have no problem with young people who stop by our offices on campus who are “questioning”. We always tell them the straight party line, but I always add “just don’t you dare have kids or commit yourself to marrying anyone until you really are clear whether you want them for all your life.” Nor do I have any problem with folks who bounce back and forth (well, OK, it’s not my lifestyle) between partners as long as they are absolutely clear to their partners about what they are getting themselves into.
This is a tough one, my Charity doesn’t extend very far here – and we have now had five posts which are completely fascinating and totally off-topic because I broke the party line…maybe we can all just postpone this discussion until a more suitable thread and let Tony get back to his more important topic?



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Cylest

posted May 25, 2009 at 2:44 pm


I doubt that Tony minds a slight deviation, as long as it continues on a path toward reconciliation. I have enjoyed this little segment of the thread greatly– it has given me much to think about.
I always enjoy having conversations with people who have been gay for a very long time. Personally, I am a 24-year-old lesbian in a very loving, committed, monogamous 2-year relationship (don’t laugh… you have to start somewhere). We are far more settled and mature than most of our gay friends… I find refuge in conversations with older, wiser gay families. So I appreciate your feedback immensely, Panthera.
Back to the original point of conversation, though, I’d like to add this:
I hate looking at religion from a business standpoint– but since it is obvious that others are happy to do so, I will counter with this thought: The conservative bandwagon isn’t going to make it through the Oregon Trail. The wagon is slowly losing members– it’s time has almost come. I would say that these undisclosed religious leaders should consider changing directions for BUSINESS reasons as well as personal ones. The future is equality. Soon, there will be no more room for discriminatory viewpoints. So, while they may fear temporary exclusion from their current group of friends, they might want to consider the money that could be made from being leaders on the march toward equality.



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Melissa

posted May 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm


Well, they recently outed Carrie Prejean’s mom. Do you think this has any impact on the discussion?
“Anti-marriage Activists out Prejean’s Mom”
http://tinyurl.com/q6995d



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Panthera

posted May 25, 2009 at 3:36 pm


Well, since I’ve been gay forever, and love to hear myself speak, that should certainly endear me to you:-)
On one level, Cylest, you may be making a subjective error. Gay men who are deep tend not to do the “scene” at all, but are pretty focused on the things which matter, even in their mid-twenties. We now know that gay men and straight women share the same brain anatomies, just as lesbians and straight men have the same brain structures. Kinda takes the wind out of our sails when we want to claim superiority, doesn’t it?
Where I fear you are right, is in your analysis of the fundamentalist Christian leaders (yay! I managed to get back on topic, thanks to you).
Of course all they care about is power. This is why they are so shamelessly willing to manipulate the naive and non-cosmopolitan Americans living outside of cities into playing their hateful games. It is no co-incidence that people like Caribou Barbie play up their disdain for everything urban. Like 250K$ worth of designer clothing is to be found at Walmart…but the simple folks buy into it because they have no other source of information. Worse, thanks to the knee-jerk idiots who took over the Democratic party (together with some pretty nasty feminists) most straight, white, poorly educated, semi-rural men are quite well aware of just how much we “librals” look down on them.
And we do. Boy, we do.
Personally, I think there is a lot to be gained by seeing how vehemently the fundamentalist Christians reject the relationship between David and Jonathon. They pervert translations, twist meanings and will go to greatest lengths because in their minds, nothing – absolutely nothing, is worse than a man giving himself to another man. Since they consider women barely human (at best) it doesn’t bother them for a man to penetrate a woman. But for a man to enjoy offering his body willingly to penetration by another man freaks them out beyond belief – if a man can still be a mighty warrior and enjoy physical love with another man, then a woman must be regarded as equal to a man as well.
Church leaders, if they truly believe what they say about “loving the sinner and hating the sin” must take action. Assuming they mean it (like hell they do), then this scorched earth policy is the last thing they should desire.
Not going to happen, I fear.
The good news is, your generation has a genuine shot at achieving the freedom of fully-human status in the US which my husband and I enjoy here in Europe. Everytime we get on a plane and fly to the US, we go from being fully human to sub-human. It is appalling.



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Cylest

posted May 25, 2009 at 4:52 pm


I certainly never meant to assume that all young gay people are immature. However– my partner and I have found considerable trouble making gay friends who share our settled lifestyle and are under the age of 30. As a matter of fact, I can only think of one couple I know under the age of 50. I’m sure it exists, just not in our circle. And so it is refreshing to speak with you.
There is another part of this story– the part where I can relate completely to these undereducated Christians who are being manipulated. I grew up in rural Indiana. My grandfather is a well-known Republican politician in the state. My community is deeply, deeply religious. I grew up in a community that was (and is still) entrenched in the manipulation that these Christian leaders are exuding. I have seen the damage. My grandmother was cast out of the church after her daughter committed suicide, and was left with the Christian radio station as her only means of religious study. It was on this station where she became a victim of James Dobson and the rhetoric of Focus on the Family. *Luckily for my grandmother and I, she is a wise woman, and has since learned to see through the lies.*
Being on the other side is an eye-opening experience. From this side, I can see all the damage and heartache that was shielded from me before. These Christian leaders need to know that, in addition to ruining their own lives… they are destroying families and ripping apart relationships all across the country every day they deny the truth.



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Melissa

posted May 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm


I think the outing of Prejean’s mom is an interesting development in light of this post on outing Christian leaders.
Prejean’s Mom Outed
http://marriagenews.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/prejean-mom/
What is the impact of being outed?



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Theresa Seeber

posted May 25, 2009 at 10:20 pm


Panthera, you simply must contact me on facebook! I have exciting news coming up soon. I want you to be there for it. If you don’t facebook, just drop by my blog at eyesofhope.wordpress.com and leave a comment, then I can – if you tell me I can in the post – email you with my news. If you prefer to remain anonymous I understand. I am sure I can find you when I have a link to offer. :-)



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Panthera

posted May 26, 2009 at 2:21 am


Hi Theresa!
Will drop by soon’s I can.
You’re right – I don’t do facebook.
I’m nobody, but my parents have suffered for my activism in the past, so kinda walk very cautiously around sites which are not as anonymous as here.
I hope you are well!



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Your Name

posted May 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm


I am so saddened by Cylest’s grandmother being cast out of the church because of her daughter’s suicide. The “church” lost an opportunity to surround that woman and her family at a time when they especially needed it. It makes me wonder how many local gatherings of people in church buildings are actually functioning as the church was intended.
A book that talks about that issue is “The Church Where the Hardest Things Happen” by Kate Caley. She talks about when her mother was told to leave their church because she had to work at a restaurant that served alcohol in order to support her family. What encourages me is that Kate did not give up on God or the church in general just because of the way her family was treated.
I feel that not only do leaders need to be honest about their standings and feelings about issues and people, but all Christians need to be honest about how they feel. Unfortunately though sometimes when that happens the person who has the courage to speak out gets hurt by those who are supposed to be Christian family. But should that stop us from being honest? Where does wisdom come into play in these situations? I have for many years and continue to try to find Christians with whom I can be open and honest about my opinions. For me it’s happened just a several people at a time. I think as more and more Christians speak out it will encourage others to do the same. I think God wants authenticity and honesty in our relationship with God and with people. But it is a process, particularly when it come to people.



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Joe White

posted May 26, 2009 at 1:30 pm


Those who support homosexual marriage from a Chrisitan viewpoint have a duty to articulate that position from the scripture.
It has never and will never be done, because it cannot be done.
Tony, if you support homosexual marriage, be honest enough to say that you do so IN SPITE of Biblical teaching, not BECAUSE of it.



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Tony Arens

posted May 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm


I think pastors should be open and honest about it if they choose. However, if I CHOOSE not to support a church because I have a differing viewpoint, I should not be called a homophobe or mean spirited. It’s my choice as it is a pastor’s choice. I remain unchanged – I can love the person, but not the lifestyle, and all the legal rights that I enjoy in this country should be available to all, regardless of gender. race, or sexual preference. However, marriage is for a man and a woman – a gay couple can have their own institution, and are free to call it whatever they want.



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Panthera

posted May 26, 2009 at 3:37 pm


Tony Arens,
I would feel much more comfortable with your position if you were to acknowledge that secular marriage and marriage as seen by your branch of Christian faith as a sacrament are two different things.
Joe White,
Actually, we can and we do – but it is irrelevant. Your hateful, bigoted persecution of us is coming to an end.



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James Beidler

posted May 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm


Hard to imagine a better outcome for children and minorities in California — http://tiny.cc/Lp2KY



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Panthera

posted May 26, 2009 at 4:25 pm


Oh, I don’t know, James Beidler – if my rights are subject to mob rule what makes you think yours aren’t?



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Denise

posted May 26, 2009 at 7:51 pm


I didn’t lose a book deal, but I definitely gave up a job in part because I felt I couldn’t be honest about my views on homosexuality. I am straight and was a part-time lab teacher in a Christian elementary school. At one point I gently suggested that my employer revise their employee contract which required agreement with “standards of sexual purity” that forbid “adultery, homosexuality”, etc. I didn’t think homosexuality was a sin. The principal gently suggested that I take a closer look at the usual gay admonishing scriptures. For three more years I shamefully signed that damn contract. Finally, the contract, along with another more benign job issue prompted me to leave. Though I doubt anyone ever noticed, I always put a “?” next to the anti-gay clauses in my contract. In my exit interview I did not fully state why I left. I felt bad about that. I guess I wanted to keep a good reference, although now I wonder if I will ever work for a Christian ministry again. Honesty is a deep principle with me….



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Panthera

posted May 27, 2009 at 3:30 am


Good for you, Denise.
My family moved to the ‘States when I was a kid, I elected to stay in Europe and only moved over for a longer period when I went to high-school.
After high-school, I went straight to a good American university.
Did my teaching certificate at the same time.
My two semesters of student teaching received the highest evaluation of our group. I graduated summa cum laude…
The local school district in my parents’ area needed teachers for the sciences and languages desperately. When I interviewed, the school board, in a closed session, told me they would love to have me. Unfortunately, I – together with most of the applicants was disqualified.
They couldn’t hire me because I was openly gay (this was 1980). The other applicants were the wrong skin color for teaching in the all-white schools of the district or, worse even than being dark-skinned or gay – they were (gasp!) Jews.
Even then, the district was ranked poorly. Today, that part of Georgia barely has functioning schools.
Never mind – returned to Europe, studied at a very good German university, was taken on with open arms by a rural school district.
Of my graduating class, by 1983 – only three years later – only one was still teaching in the United States. All the rest were either abroad or had abandoned the profession.
Quod erat demonstrandum – fundamentalist Christians are even more ignorant than they are hateful.



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Bob

posted May 28, 2009 at 8:02 am


“fundamentalist Christians are even more ignorant than they are hateful.”
Nice. What a wonderfully pithy pot-calling-kettle kind of statement. Well done, sir! QED indeed!



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Panthera

posted May 28, 2009 at 9:57 am


Glad you liked it, Bob.
Your imputation I am both ignorant and hateful (more the first than the latter) fascinates me.
Any basis for your statement or simply incapable of voicing your narrow-minded bigotry more clearly?



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Sofia

posted May 29, 2009 at 9:26 pm


MarriageNewsNow Weekend Debate! What are the best arguments for traditional marriage? http://tinyurl.com/laqcsj



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jonathan edmund

posted May 30, 2009 at 12:49 am


Hmm. As a gay Christian, I wish that more Christian leaders would speak out to give a stronger voice for marriage equality among Christians, especially evangelicals. However, personal interests aside, I’m not sure if it is fair, if it’s everyone’s callings. I have personal opinions on issues such as abortion or once-saved-always-saved but I don’t often go telling people those because they’re just that: my opinions. I don’t think they affect a person’s salvation and I choose to let others be guided by the Holy Spirit or their own moral compass, or both. Still, I wonder if pastors should speak out on a controversial issue such as gay marriage, since it directly affects the lives of so many people. Were certain pastors not called to speak out against slavery? (Note: I am NOT saying that gay marriage rights and slavery are equal, but it’s an interesting thought concerning a leader’s place in making a stand for human rights).
Re-reading what I just wrote, I guess I don’t really answer any questions. Oh well. It’s food for thought.



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Husband

posted June 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm


Sofia,
“What are the best arguments for traditional marriage?”
If you don’t know, there’s no hope for it I’m afraid. Ths site you linked to didn’t offer much help either. (And why is it that these pro-traditional marriage site suthors never have the balls to sign their, ahem, ‘editorials’?) All I found there was a bunch of quasi-religious hooey.
Eg.: “All major religions denounce same-sex marriage as against God.”
Hmm, in my country, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination (the United Church) is very much in favor of same-sex marriage. Odd, too, is how both the Reformed and the, er, Conservative branches of Judaism do too. Oh, and the Quakers. (Agreed, not really a “major” religion, but America used to pride itself on freedom of religion, so any appeal to religious prejudice holds no weight. OR at least shouldn’t, in a secular society.
Or, “The State has a definite interest in protecting by law the unique heterosexual union that creates, feeds, nurtures, and educates its massive citizenry from infancy to adulthood.”
R-i-i-i-g-h-t. No homosexual has EVER had or raised a child. In the history of the world.
Or, “Children need a long-term stable home that marriage law helps to ensure.”Except, of course, for the children of homosexuals. The heck with them, eh Sofia? I mean, bein’ the child of a homerseckshul is maybe worse than actually being a sodomite.
Or, “Marriage law protects dependent spouses and children from economic destitution and poverty arising through spousal departure.”
And queer spouses and their children need no such protection, eh, Sofia?
Or, “Families formed without marriage contracts dissolve easily and repeatedly, leading to high rates of child neglect, abuse, and juvenile delinquency.”
So let’s forbid gay couples from even having marriage contracts, thus virtually guaranteeing their so-called “marriages” will “dissolve easily and repeatedly.
Does the right not even know about the concept of logic? Or justice?
Or, “Same-sex marriage threatens American democracy via judicial imposition of laws contrary to the democratically determined will of the American people.”
Which merely ignores the several States that have passed same-sex marriage laws in their Legislatures. And, which conveniently also ignores the very role of the judiciary in determining the Constitutionality of laws that were purportedly “democratically determined”. I wonder who else’s rights “the American people (TM) can now put to a vote?
Etcetera.
Really, Sofia, you should think twice about linking to such easily disprovable sites. It discredits your arguments.
Oh, and the best/most laughable:
“Gay marriage defies nature’s own design; the parts don’t work that way.”
They’ve ‘worked’ just fine for me and my husband for going on near 25 years now. How silly.
Really Sofia, your side must do better if you hope to have even a modicum of believability.



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Husband

posted June 1, 2009 at 5:37 pm


Matt,
“I truly believe that gays and lesbians who really WANT to change, in the power of Jesus, can change.”
Then you are, simply, wrong. I have known I was attracted to other males since the age of 5. I was raised in a very strict Salvationist/Pentecostal household, and I prayed fervently for 12 years for ‘deliverance’. It did not come. I do not think God made a mistake.
” And I believe that out of my own study and my own experience.”
Are you saying you are/were gay? If so, you do nto have the “experience”. I do. And I know that you are wrong.
“And furthermore, I am saying that gay/lesbian sexual behavior is always sin… and that this is something foundation and unchanging. Not like it used to be sin and now it’s not…Not even that we used to *think* it was a sin and now we know better. I think it’s always been sinful and in need of redemption and it always will be.
I know that’s not popular.”

Not only is it not popular, it is not true. The Scriptural passages that you are probably relying on (I know them all), are not referring to same-sex love and attraction, committed, loving relationships between consenting adults that we know today. They refer largely to lust, to rape, to cult temple prostitution practices, but not to what we understand of homosexuality today. BTW. I believe that homosexual lust, homosexual rape and homosexual cult prostitution all are “sins”, but it isn’t what we are discussing.
“But I think we give up on the transformative power of Jesus when we give in on this one. It’s real. God wants to heal us.”
Sorry, Matt, but God’s gay and lesbian children aren’t “sick” and hence are not in need of “healing”. IF God wanted to “change” me, shurely God could have done it by now, and I’m getting close to 58.
“And yes, I believe those of us who are attracted to the same sex need healing.”
That is not only sad, it is the most UN-Christian thing I’ve ever read or heard. I will pray for God to heal you of your own self-loathing and your homophobia. Those I know can be healed.



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Husband

posted June 1, 2009 at 5:59 pm


Melissa,
Your spin is funneee…
“Anti-marriage Activists out Prejean’s Mom”
Interesting that people who are fighting for equal access to marriage are, in your worldview, “anti-marriage”.
As the kids used to say, ‘This does not compute.’



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Husband

posted June 1, 2009 at 6:04 pm


Joe White,
“Those who support homosexual marriage from a Chrisitan viewpoint have a duty to articulate that position from the scripture.
It has never and will never be done, because it cannot be done.”

Not only has it been done, it has been done repeatedly. In books, in articles, on the net, and even right here on Beleifnet (complete with links that you, apparently, feel free to ignore).
You just don’t like it, so it ‘never happened’. Try actually reading some of the blogs here. You will be surprised (though not necessarily pleasantly).



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Yemi Ogunbase

posted June 2, 2009 at 5:13 am


I just don’t see how people can look past what the word of God says to find what they want to find. If parts of the Bible aren’t accurate, or if some expert needs to interpret it, what about the rest of it? If all Scripture is inspired by God, why would a perfect and holy God inspire error?
All those on the fence need to read 2 Peter Chapter 2. All kinds of false prophets these days.



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Denise

posted June 4, 2009 at 1:02 am


I’ve noticed that the Bible contains stories of specific biblical characters and some of their sexual behaviors. And then, more broadly, the Bible also describes whole cultural patterns and sexual behaviors.
What I find interesting is that wherever the Bible focuses on specific biblical characters it doesn’t necessarily make moral judgments as to the written sexual practices and behaviors of those people (ie palace concubines, conceiving an heir with a mistress, etc.) Here, the story of God at work on a larger purpose seems to relatively minimize the particular sex behaviors (and one could argue at the expense of women).
On the other hand when the Bible (usually Paul) describes a mass cultural mindset which is hostile towards God, it often correlates this hostile thinking with a host of wrong behaviors (ie drunkeness, slander, fornication, adultery, prostitution, pagan sex rituals). Here we understand that from the spirit comes certain fruit; also strict proscriptions emerge to keep the sinful nature in check.
In the matter of homosexuality, I think it’s good that church people are increasingly shifting away from regarding the gay community as a mass culture who are hostile towards God, ungodly, and in need of proscriptions. I think it’s wise to shift towards personally knowing gay individuals and trying to be more understanding of their specific situations and mindful of a larger work God may want to do. I think that the varying tones and emphases we notice in scriptures could be helpful with that.
The kingdom of God is ever at hand — and the church’s mission/ministry is to foremost be asking the Holy Spirit to reveal, situation by situation, what Jesus would do; and then trusting that God is working as He wills. And we should all begin by saying to each person we encounter, whether gay or straight: Jesus dearly loves you.



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Mary Davies

posted June 5, 2009 at 9:56 am


What’s the best reason explaining why traditional marriage should be the law for society? That’s the question MarriageNewsNow dot com is asking in its friday vote marriage poll.



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Vicki Hesse

posted September 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm


Yes, I agree that Christian leaders should come out of the closet. Thank you for a good post!



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David Smith

posted September 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm


I don’t believe leaders should be outted, it is a personal intergrity issue, but I invite everyone to reread The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s “Letter From the Birmingham Jail” writting to the white pastors of the major congregations in Birmingham on the spiritual condition reflected in their silence. It does not appear that Jesus was as concerned about book deals as too many of his followers and leaders of followers are today.



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Tanya

posted September 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm


I think Brian McLaren wrote a very moving description of exactly what this might look like in a particular pastor’s life.

I doubt it is always about the money. Furthermore, can’t we imagine that money questions could be wrapped up in more complicated motives?

http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/this-is-not-actually-a-blog-post.html



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David Foreman

posted September 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm


No. I don’t think they should be “outed.” They should speak their convictions when asked. I think, eventually, unless they flat out lie, their support of GLBT equality WILL become known, and they will be rejected by many. They may not need make a public statement initially, but sooner or later, they will end up taking a stand, or folding.



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Rowlandville

posted September 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm


Remaining silent on an issue of persecution is sin. There is no “not my calling” involved here. What do we now call those Christians who remained silent on slavery?

I call them cowards, as these Christians are.

Be brave. Speak out. Your silence is killing children, one child at a time at their own hands.



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Elise

posted September 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm


One of the reasons that any conversation, let alone constructive, respectful conversations, are so hard to find regarding homosexuality is that there’s a wall of silence surrounding it in the church. You have people on either end of the ideological spectrum shouting and maligning people on the other end, but the vast majority of Christians are in the middle, staying silent. If church leaders remain silent, then they are assumed to be condemnatory, like it or not. If they care about this issue and want to see church stances change, someone has to break the silence– not someone special or anointed, just someone whose love outweighs their fear.



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