November 1, 2014

What We Should Do

This morning I asked the question, “Where should we draw the line in the sand concerning sexual sin?” The comments to that post have been thoughtful, insightful, challenging. This is a very difficult question, with really no clear answers. Yet it is a topic we cannot ignore. Because of President Obama’s stance on gay marriage, this will be a battle in the upcoming presidential campaign. His appearance on the cover of Newsweek as the “first gay president” is but a sample of what’s ahead. And, of course, politicians must bring religion into their decision-making, which means we must face this subject.

Outside of the Potomac Beltline, we are still faced with where to draw the line. For instance, a same-sex couple was denied entrance to a Catholic school’s prom. And a recent Gallup Poll reveals that acceptance of homosexuality is the “new norm” among Americans.

What should we as Christians, followers of Jesus, do?

Here is what we should not do. We should not disengage from this conversation, circling our wagons and talking only among ourselves. We should not—shall not—remain a part of the “good us vs. bad them” discussion. Finger-pointing and name-calling are wrong, immature and wasteful actions.

So again, what should we do?

First of all, we are to do all in the shadow of Jesus. His command to “follow me” includes walking through, not around, these issues, letting our conversations and encounters, our successes and failures, shape us into the image of Christ. This is not an easy thing to do. But it is essential as sons and daughters of the King.

We need to become listeners. Listening is an act of love. Too often we close our ears and our hearts and become one big mouth. We need to listen to those who have been hurt. Pastors, you are in a great position to listen and to encourage others to listen. What are we listening for? We need to get to know the person talking or yelling at us as an individual, not as a stereotype. Notice I didn’t say we patronize the speaker. But we listen. Jesus listened to woman at the well. We must learn to do likewise.

We must understand that we are not all going to agree. Sorry, but there are no obvious “right” and “wrong” answers here. It’s a topic where you and your closest friend may have a strong disagreement. You do not have all the right answers. Remember that Jesus did not come to judge, so we must not either.

We should make this a matter of discussion in small groups and one-on-one rather than from the pulpit. This is a matter that cannot be decided by declarations from pulpits.  Pronouncements and proclamations are ok for some things, but this is such a volatile issue, and we don’t need to be throwing gasoline on an already roaring fire.

We should realize this is not the most important issue followers of Jesus should focus on. We were commanded to “go and make disciples,” not “go and rid the world of sin.” Realize that if homosexuality runs rampant, a gay politician is elected president, gay characters on TV and in the movies continue to increase, same-sex marriage is made legal in every state, and the U.S. flag is changed from stars and stripes to a rainbow, God is still God. Jesus still died and resurrected. The Holy Spirit still lives within the souls of those who trust Jesus for their salvation. It’s ok. Let God deal with what only he can deal with.

We are to love. Period. No restrictions, no conditions, no judgment. Love. You know, the act that covers a multitude of sins. We are to love and let the Lord take care of the rest. If you have any questions about what to say or do, err on the side of love.

If each of us reading this would begin to practice these few things—listen, talk in small groups, let go of the need to be right or in control, and love love love—we would begin to see changes. No, not in our culture or among homosexuals. Those may or may not come. But we most definitely will see changes in ourselves. And that’s where it all must begin.

Comments

  1. “We are to love.” Absolutely. And that is what Christians fail to do. I have a gay friend who told me that other than his mother I was the only Christian who had ever “had his back.” Ever. To his knowledge I had never expressed my views on homosexuality to him. But I had showed him that I did care about him, and in his mind that is what counted. That is also what he encouraged all Christians to do. Love others. Show people that you care. Volunteer at a food bank.

    Where you draw the line beyond that is up to you. “But if I have not love, I am nothing.” – 1 Cor. 13.

    • Radagast says:

      I have two people in my circle of aquaintances who are gay, both are female. One is in a committed realtionship with child and goes to a lutheran Church, the other bounces around with a lot of different partners. I care about them, and they cause me to pause and think more deeply even though the subject never comes up because they are close to me.

      I would like one day to just sit down and ask a lot of questions, in fact my personality generally drives me into more riskier conversations, but really not from a judgemental view but a curiosity view. I want to understand, but I don’t want to offend, or even change the friendship, and want to know what I can compare things to so that I could better view from their eyes.

      I stayed out of the last conversation because my view is the Catholic view and yet I am trying to understand. And the only way to do it is one-on-one because then it makes it more human and not an abstract issue.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        If I had it in me to gamble, I think that if you came to your gay friend and, with a genuine spirit, asked him to open up to you, you would be welcomed.

    • Good opening comment, Michael Bell. Thanks.

  2. Really like the last point about love. That above everything.

    For me, the issue is one of “splinter in your eye, board in mine”. I realized some time ago that people are generally not interested in my opinion and in those cases where what I believe clashes with what they believe, the debate is not worth the futile effort and often hurt feelings.

  3. David Cornwell says:

    Thanks Jeff, this is a good point of view for this very divisive issue. However even I have a problem with that rainbow flag. I mostly like my rainbows in the sky.

    And this isn’t the most important issue, just as you said.

  4. We are all sinners and broken. I believe marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. I think gay committed couples should have a legal standing I have known a few gays and lesbians in my long lifetime, several died of AIDs. I have treated them as individuals and as I would like to be treated. This is hard with the militant in your face personalities one comes across.

    • Thanks, Vern. Somehow we’ve lost the idea of treating others as we want to be treated, huh?

      • Yes, are my sins of pride,judgement andarrogance less than someone in a committed relationship? I will leave that up to God. I can’t speak for HIM!

  5. cermak_rd says:

    How about if all the Christian churches in any community were to agree that they are all part of the Christian community in that community. Then people who don’t believe that partnered gay people are sinning by being so could be directed to churches that suit them and people who do believe it would be directed to churches that suit them? It seems to me it’s the most logical way to deal with the problem for now. Of course, churches would have to be willing to send those churchgoers and $$ out the door to a more suitable church, but it’s not about the BitP or $$ anyway, is it?

    • You are using a different kind of logic than what most Christians use. They think Greek and you are thinking Hebrew . I do not think your logic would work in this case (tongue in cheek)

  6. Brother Bartimaeus says:

    Jesus tells us a parable about the wheat and the tares.  That a farmer sowed wheat in his field, but during the night his enemy planted tares or weeds amongst the crop.  The farm laborers’ first impulse is to pull the weeds immediately to make sure the crop is pure, but the farmer tells them to wait.  It is believed that the tares were a plant called darnel, which looks very much like wheat when it is young and undeveloped, and planting it among wheat was a common act of revenge among farmers.  So the wise farmer warns his laborers that if they begin ripping out the weeds, they are likely to cause destruction of the whole field, that they will throw out what they think are the bad, but that might really be good.  The wisdom of the farmer is to allow both the wheat and the tares to grow and mature, to run their course, and eventually to be revealed for what they are at the time of harvest.  It is for the wheat and the tares to live together whichever one we may be (and not what we think we are or they are), reconciled together until the end. 
     
    Do we have the patience and love for one another to do the same?  Do we have the wisdom of Gamaliel, the Pharisee who spoke up for tolerance of the first Christians saying, “keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!””

    I hope so.

    Peace

    David

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Bartimaeus, I could not imagine a more perfect verse than the one you used to close your post. Unfortunately, there is something about our human insecurities that causes us to get defensive about these issues, to a point where we cannot think rationally. Let’s keep that verse in mind, shall we?

  7. Tears in my eyes. This morning’s post and many comments were discouraging for any number of reasons, but this one gets the train right back on the track on IM. Thanks.

  8. And here is what you are actually going to do: Complain about how the controversy distracts from the central message of Christianity…but post on the topic whenever some famous person talks about it, or you want to boost the number of comments.

    Call for a “big-tent” Christianity inclusive of various denominations, but ignore liberals as obviously not forming part of your tradition.

    Approach homosexuality as a problem to be solved–if not by counseling, then by discussing it in some sort of Encounter group.

    Just today, Obama took some steps to stop prison rape. Even though we all know this goes on, and agree (I think) on its absolute wrongness, for some reason the issue isn’t as compelling as consensual gay sex. Cudos to Obama for addressing this unpopular, but important issue.

    The rainbow, incidentally, is a biblical symbol.

  9. humanslug says:

    Good stuff Jeff.
    The recent and totally unexpected coming-out-of-the-closet by one of my best friends has really put me in exploration mode regarding this issue — and, honestly, I’m not sure what to think or believe at this point.
    But there’s no denying that this issue has spawned an extensive and sometimes passionate discussion within the broader Christian community — and, like it or not, that discussion will probably still be going on without final resolution when both me and my friend have gone on to be with the Lord.
    One thing that I think would help with the discussion is to recognize that it contains numerous elements that need to be addressed extensively one at a time. There are so many aspects than one needs to explore — from varying Biblical interpretations of particular passages to the various possible meanings of specific words in scripture to modern versus ancient cultural views on sexuality to varying church policies, views, and practices throughout history to scientific studies (just to name a few).
    And we need to slow down and really listen to everyone on every side of this issue. We like to listen when people express views and beliefs congruent with our own, but it’s a little harder to keep open ears and an open heart and mind when someone is poking holes in what you’ve always seen as truth and reality. Hearing a homosexual Christian giving a testimony about their life journey and struggles will just naturally be offensive to some. inspiring to others, and confusing or troubling to the rest. The same thing would apply to a Christian who shares a testimony about how Christ freed them from the homosexual urges and lifestyle that at one time nearly destroyed their lives. But both have a legitimate stake in the discussion and both should be listened to and honestly considered.

  10. I am impressed by the latest posts which is the hot button of our culture. I am challenged by all the discussions and views. My question: is there any other website where the freedom to discuss pros and cons with the Truth of Scripture is the anchor? I am drawn daily to read and ingest all that is provided. This is the actual “iron sharpening iron” Thanks for the courage to engage instead of the “end-around” approach. My history is in the Nazarene flavor if you will. The amazing part of grace is the challenge to be graceful in our world without allowing the world to creep in. Sometimes these issues seem to us as a backside of a tapestry often confusing. Yet we know we will see clearly what is often a distorted metal mirror of life issues.

    • Jerry, that is why so many of us come here and stay here as part of our “everyday church” [little "c"]

      Despite the occaisonal troll, here we can speak the truth but NOT beat anyone else up with ugliness or name calling. I continue to learn and grow so much from talks here.

      Jeff, CM, and crew….don’t stop the hard questions. You do a great job of layering questions and concerns so we talk about everything under the sun….and everything under the Son. Thanks.

  11. Jeff, I agree with all your points under the “what we should do” section except for the one about not preaching on this from the pulpit. Anything that is addressed in the Bible is potentially to be preached about. Would you just skip over those parts in Romans 1 that deal with homosexuality on the basis that they are too hot to handle? How about showing the people how a sensitive issue can be discussed? How about making several of the helpful points you make there?

    DSY

  12. One thing we can all agree on: Christian or not, we all have a tendancy to equate love with approval, and vice versa. That is,
    I take your approval of what I do as a sign that you love me.
    I take your disapproval of what I do as a sign that you are a “hater”.
    I’m afraid that if I give you my love, my friendship, or my vote, you will think I agree with you or endorse every choice you’ve made. So I think I must give love in small doses, and/or refuse to acknowledge your happiness.

  13. As this topic is an extension from Jeff’s previous post on the subject, I would like to offer a link to some previous comments from here and here and here that some may find helpful. If not, just ignore.

  14. Food for thought

    What is the difference between culture over Scripture in relation to God’s word and it’s relevance here

  15. It’s actually very simple what we should do despite all of our hand wringing and navel gazing…

    “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”

    There is one important distinction to be made.

    Those who struggle with homosexual sin and accept its sinfulness should be treated as any other sinner. Those who, inside our churches and in our culture, who seek to claim it is not a sin and thereby deny the very Word of God should be met with rebuke.

    Frankly, I’m a little tired of hearing about how “put upon” homosexuals who are seeking to radically reshape not only our churches but our culture feel. This is not a battle that Christians sought out, it is one that was brought to us. And I know very well that this strong language and words like “battle” will be seen by some as part of the problem, but, and I’ve said it before, if you do not think that there is a concerted well organized effort by militant forces of darkness to promote as normal something the Bible condemns in the strongest of language then you are being willingly ignorant of reality.

    My latest example- I teach public school. Our librarian receives all sorts of magazines. One was Teaching Tolearance. Without purusing it she just stuck it on the shelf, probably seeing the cover that was about anti-bullying and thinking it would be a good thing for our middle school kids to read. I was in there the other day and it caught my eye and I picked it up and thumbed through it. It was full of articles promoting the acceptance of homosexuality. One thing that really disgusted me was the “recommened purchase” book list for educators and librarians. The worst one- “My Princess Boy- a mothers recounting of her son who liked to dress up.” It was billed by the author as the story of a boy who expresses his “gender” creatively and with the help of his accepting mother was able to teach his classmates lessons about acceptance. This was geared for lower elementary grades.

    Wake up people. We are not talking about two old gray headed gay guys living in Key West with their dog, we are talking about a militant movement to capture the hearts and minds of your children.

    You can call this scare tactics or whatever you want, but it happens every day.

    • Radagast says:

      The activitst minority of any group, gay, straight, whatever the agenda, must always be monitored, met straight on and not caved to because of intimidation tactics, which may come in the form of the latest buzzwords. These groups usually do not represent the majority, feel that everyone should ‘experience’ whatever it is they represent so that one fully understands the issue, in other words go a mile over the line.

      For the gay issue this manifests itself in gay pride parades where a subset perform lewd bahavior and think its OK. Understand that i would be equally offended if heterosexuals, liberals, conservatives, people who love dogs, did the same thing – not appropriate and does not in my mind further the cause. But I continue to stress that this is the vocal minority of any group pushing the limits.

      I even see this behavior in government where there are more than a few examples of minority groups in the HHS throwing out obsene material for children to consume – if it wasn’t coming from the government these folks would be thrown in jail for distributing it.

      OK… done with my rant – just saying I relate to your librarian story….

    • sigh.

    • Phil M. says:

      This is not a battle that Christians sought out, it is one that was brought to us.

      I don’t buy this. I’ve been with groups of Christians where people raise the subject of the horrors of homosexuality for seemingly no reason at all, and by doing so it gives other people in the group a platform to start making jokes or other horrible statements about homosexuals. Homosexuals are a convenient scapegoat for many Christians.

      The fact is I’ve been hearing similar arguments since I was in elementary school. I remember hearing people talking about gays trying to recruit young boys, etc. Somehow, though, the vast majority of boys I went to school with and grew up with still managed to turn out straight.

      • PHil M.

        Unless you are a pre-teen boy your experiences in elementary school are not relevant as neither or mine. We grew up in a different time. I see it everyday in my interaction with children.

    • Isn’t this a case of saying we will tolerate homosexuals as long as they are back in the closet, or like Rosa Parks, at the back of the bus?

      • I allow myself a glimmer of hope that we can all exist in love and stop with the persecutions, and then I read Austin’s comment and Radagasts reply and I just want to throw my hands up in the air, or sit down and cry. We are so far away from Jesus while this conversation takes place in this tone.
        I say I’m done with IM, then I find myself coming back to see how the conversations may have changed. I try lurking, but then I find I can’t remain silent. I suppose Austin may be right in that this is a battle of sorts, but I can’t see it going anywhere. I am secure in what I believe, and Austin certainly is, so we seem stuck in this stalemate. What’s next? Shall we take up arms, perhaps a bag full of stones and meet in the public square? If not for this little box of anonymity called the internet we would be there by now. I wonder what I would see if I could look into Austin’s eyes? Would I see love or condemnation as he looked upon my butch appearance? What would Jesus see as He looked into the eyes of both of us? God help us all.

        • Debra,

          I don’t it is love to tell someone that their destructive and rebellious lifestyle is ok and should be accepted and promoted by society. Nor do I think it is love to tell someone it is ok to continue in their sin.

          If you looked in my eyes you would see someone who, like any one else that is honest, struggles with their own sins, but not one who is out trying to force folks to accept their sin, celebrate their sin, or who is trying to change Holy Scripture so as to make it support their sin.

          Austin

          • Congratulations Austin, you seem to have it all figured out!! You have a comeback for everything. Impressive, really.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            What would Christ do at the Sheep/Goats Judgment without Austin there to advise him on sexual morality?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            This is Jihad.

            And there are Homosexual Supremacists (the word that best describes them) who are also calling Jihad. Hearts-and-Minds, Witnessing for Converts, Get them by 18 or they’ll Apostasize. Christian Culture Warriors and Homosexual Supremacist Culture Warriors — reflections of each other in a funhouse mirror, like Communists and Objectivists. Take over America and recast it in Our Perfect Image, while all the rest of us (straight and not) just want to be left alone and live our lives.

          • Really? You are going to cast yourself as a tolerant enlightened person while you try to cast another who disagrees with you and has some biblically shaped views as a Jihadist and white supremacist? Your name-calling and tone do not honour the spirit of this discussion. I wonder what names and innuendos you might use on me now? Am I hateful and bigoted against gay people because I am resisting your rudeness?

        • Radagast says:

          Debra,

          If you read my comments carefully I said “any” (emphasis on any) group can have an activist element and they can push the envelope. My example about the parade focuses on the lewd behavior and could be any group (think Mardi Gra). My point is that there are some that will push past the limits whatever their orientation or political agenda.

          As I’ve said before I am older, and I am trying to understand, and making the efforts to do so. I am compassionate about this, but I will not throw out my Catholic beliefs or fall into relativism over it. Nor will I make it a huge deal.

          In reality Debra, I am watching the world change, and I am simply an observer. Good or bad I believe we will have gay marriage because of changing attitudes, and then will come divorce and all the other tragedies enjoyed by heterosexual unions.

          And then I will watch for the next challenge to the definition of marriage. I will pray and again try to understand. And that is the best I can do for now… sometimes you have to meet folks half way ; )

          • Radagast, you are correct about meeting folks halfway. And I can appreciate the challenge of our older citizens to find acceptance on this subject. My grandmother, rest her soul, was a funny woman. She was raised in Mississippi in the early 20th century, limited education, poor but happy family. She was walking with a friend in Huntsville while in her 80’s and found a magazine on the side of the road, a nude magazine. In it were women together in sexual positions, and when she told me about it later she said, “Debra, I never heard of such, women loving on women”. Later when she noticed certain behaviors with me and my girlfriend, and when she saw me kiss my girlfriend goodbye one day, she didn’t say anything at the time. But, in all the years we had together after that, she only loved me more. She made a reference one day about me dating boys or girls that let me know she didn’t care about that. She only loved me, and she loved my girlfriend as well. I know, no one will ever love you like a grandparent.
            One thing I would say to you, those pride parades can be embarrassing for me at times as well. I’m in my 40’s now, so it seems to be a young persons place to play.

          • Radagast says:

            Thanks for the response Debra – and if you lived close by we’d have a beer and I would ask you a thousand questions so I could better understand – because it is much easier when we bring it down to a personal level. We might not agree on everything (kind of like my relationship with my running partners – we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum) but at least we might be able to visualize from each others shoes.

            Peace….

          • I would love that, Radagast. If you are ever in Nashville, reach out through here and we will do just that. It’s easy for me to love because of the gift God has given me. It may not always sound like love when I type words online, but it is what guides my life….Love. And I know our conversation would be spectacular. I am an open book.

      • Michael,

        Your comments are usually well thought out and intelligent on this forum. This one is not. If I was a person of color I would be offended by your equating my blackness with homosexual activity and I would insist that I can do nothing to change my skin color but people are responsible for their actions.

        Austin

        • Austin,

          I did pause before I submitted that comment.

          To be clear, I was not equating “blackness with homosexual activity”. I was equating the attitude towards blacks in the 50s and 60s with the attitude towards homosexuals today. My brother-in-law made the comment to me a number of years ago that “Isn’t it interesting that the arguments that are being used today to keep gays out of the military are the same arguments that were used to keep blacks out of the military?”

          The Rosa Parks reference came from a gay friend of mine. He said (and I paraphrase), “we are tolerated if we are willing to go the back of the proverbial bus, but if like Rosa Parks, we make a stand for our rights, then we are accused of stridently pushing a gay agenda.”

          Having said that, I do have a high view of scripture. I don’t think that verses about homosexuality can be easily explained away.

          Right now I feel trapped in a “no man’s land” somewhere between you and Debra.

          This is a very difficult topic for me. If you go back and look at past posts on homosexuality you will notice that I have generally stayed out of the fray. While at seminary, as part of an ethics class assignment, I read probably seventy books on the topic. It did nothing to clarify my thoughts on the matter.

          So to you I say, “I accept what the Bible says about homosexual actions being sinful.”

          To Debra I say “keep following Jesus as best as you can and see where that leads you.” I hope I can say it with as much love and care, that she knows I mean it from my heart.

          Why don’t I say something stronger to Debra? My fear is that 20, 40, 60 or even 100 years from now we will look back on this position and say “like attitudes about slavery, we got this one wrong.”

          • Michael, I appreciate the spirit in which you speak on all issues. I can feel the love.
            I have a simple litmus test for the reading of literal interpretation of scripture, not directed to you specifically, but to the reader in general: 1 Corinthians 14:34 says literally that women should be silent in church. If they hear something they don’t understand they should wait until they are home and ask the question of their husbands in private. That doesn’t fit today, does it? Why does the scripture argument continue to take the homosexual word, which Paul never heard in his lifetime, and quote verbatim while making allowances for the intent of all other scriptures?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            1 Corinthians 14:34 says literally that women should be silent in church. If they hear something they don’t understand they should wait until they are home and ask the question of their husbands in private. That doesn’t fit today, does it?

            You haven’t been listening to the Complementarians, have you? Latest I heard, one of them said very magnanimously that a woman does not need to ask her husband’s permission to go to the bathroom. When THAT sort of fatwa is felt to be necessary, we’re in South Park territory.

    • The worst one- “My Princess Boy- a mothers recounting of her son who liked to dress up.”

      Seriously? This is what you are worried about? I have a big secret to tell you…no one became gay after reading a children’s book. *sigh*

      • When an activity becomes accepted by society you will have more of it. That doesn’t seem like a hard thing to understand.

        *double sigh*

        • What do you mean? do you really think kids are recruited to homosexuality by reading children’s literature like “King and King” or whatever the new scary book is?
          Also, of course you have more people ‘coming out’ now because being gay no longer, most of the time, gets you beat up, or fired, or kicked out of your flat.

        • cermak_rd says:

          I don’t know that that’s true in the case of something like homosexuality where there seem to be so much intertwining of genetics and environment and possibly other things as well. What you will get by it becoming more acceptable is more people being out and open about themselves. And that strikes me as much better than expecting them to live in a closet for the rest of their lives.

          Living life as an ostrich (put our heads in the sand let’s not notice that there are gays) is silly. We all share our common culture. Heck there are states in the US and nations in Europe and North America where gay folk marry. In IL, both straights and gays can get civil unions (which are functionally equivalent to marriage at the state level). There have been gay mayors and gay governors. They’ve headed national political parties. For a while, the Prime Minister of Iceland was a lesbian (she still is, I’m just not sure if she’s still PM). In that context, a child today needs to learn that gay folk exist and are equal under the law, whatever private reservations his parents wish to instill in him regarding sin and such.

          • There is a lot of evidence that sexual expression is mostly cultural, and rates of same-sex sexual behavior do vary a, lot, from time to time and place to place in the world. Now, I don’t think this is a problem, because I think people should have exactly the amount of consensual sex they want to have. So I feel that lots more men engaging in same sex activities, is like, lots more men taking up hockey, a matter of personal taste.

        • No, no, he’s right.

          If we ignore/condemn homosexuality, more gay teens will commit suicide. (Yes, there is actually a study about this- there is a roughly 20% drop in suicide attempts by gay youth in more accepting areas.)

          Voila! Less gay people.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      First, Austin, thank you for authorizing responders to your post to refer to your comments as “scare tactics”; I was going to do that anyway, but it feels good to have permission.

      Scroll up to Brother Bartimaeus’ post; he has found a great verse that may be very applicable in your situation:

      Do we have the patience and love for one another to do the same? Do we have the wisdom of Gamaliel, the Pharisee who spoke up for tolerance of the first Christians saying, “keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!””

      If you are working in a public school environment, you do not have to accept the argument that homosexuality is a healthy identity. I would wonder, though, where your insecurity is coming from, given that above statement from Gamaliel. If the gay rights movement is not of God, then it will fail, but if it is, it will succeed. In the meantime, I would point out that even in the public school system, students can still graduate after being exposed to a gay-friendly argument and still be capable of rejecting homosexuality as a legitimate identity.

      • “If the gay rights movement is not of God, then it will fail, but if it is, it will succeed.”

        Slightly off topic but….I have to push back on that a little bit. Think of all the major world religions(for example) that have been around for thousands of years. Are they “of God”. Certainly God allows them to go on but that does not mean they are right. I just don’t think we can take Gamaliel’s words as a definitive test. Just because scripture records something does not mean it is for prescriptive purposes.

        • “I just don’t think we can take Gamaliel’s words as a definitive test. Just because scripture records something does not mean it is for prescriptive purposes.”

          Do you hear what you just said? Just because scripture records something does not mean it for prescriptive purposes? That’s how I feel about much of what Paul writes of sex and marriage.
          Besides, I don’t believe God’s time is anything we can ever perceive. Just because a thing has been around for thousands of years doesn’t mean it won’t eventually fail….in God’s time.

        • Brother Bartimaeus says:

          Can we take Gamaliel’s words as directly applicable within the church? Gamaliel was a Jew who was protecting other Jews that interpreted scripture radically differently than he did. Our GLBT brothers and sisters aren’t from other religions, they are Christ professing, Holy Spirit in-dwelling, God worshipping, Fruit of the Spirit struggling Christians.

          Peace

          David

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        I don’t know, ASF-Brian, I kinda disagree, but I think Austin might chew you up on that one before I would. I would first suggest that every statement and story in Scripture is there for a specific purpose, to reveal a certain truth. We still need to place that statement in context, which is what I think you’re getting at, but I would argue that all Scripture has a prescriptive purpose. We may debate about what that purpose is, but it does have a purpose.

        On to the comment about other world religions. Do I accept that their faith traditions are consistent with the word of God? No. Do I think that they are succeeding? No, probably because I have a different definition of success. Just because God allows a faith tradition which is inconsistent with His word to thrive, doesn’t mean it is successful. I’m reminded of that parable of the wheat and tares, in which the sower allows both wheat and tares to grow together until “the harvest,” lest the good crop gets tossed out with the scrap. I take that same principle to Austin’s concern that the gay rights movement is a threat to the mission of the Church or the will of God. I’m okay with letting them grow together for now. The tares won’t destroy the wheat, and God will sort everything out at the harvest. Make sense?

        • Radagast says:

          Very thoughtful reply Marcus….

        • Well, I hope that no one would chew me up over what I said… :) I absolutely agree that all scripture is there for a purpose and reveals some kind of truth. What I was trying to get at was that sometimes scripture describes things that happen that are not necessarily what we should follow or imitate. Another example might be the casting of lots to replace Judas. Does that reveal some truth? Yes, but I don’t think it’s something scripture tells us to do. Rather, it’s part if the story of what happened.

          But back to what I think is your main point – yes it definitely makes sense. And I agree that nothing is a threat to God’s mission and that He will accomplish everything He intends to – not necessarily when we think it should be done. We tend to get worked up about things that God has firmly in control. It doesn’t mean that we do nothing. But figuring out what the response should be is none too easy sometimes.

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            Wow, it’s so cool to have a religious discussion with someone and come out on the other side in unity!

            However, how cool would it be if we just cast lots in church instead of those long, drawn-out search committees for new pastors, budget meetings, etc.? We could knock out difficult church agendas in a matter of minutes with some good, old-fashioned lots-casting :)

        • Cassandra says:

          I’vealways wondered about God”s promise to Hannah that He would raise up a grat nation under Ishmael. Is this discussed any other place in scripture?

    • David Cornwell says:

      “I’m a little tired of hearing about how “put upon” homosexuals who are seeking to radically reshape not only our churches but our culture feel.”

      Actually you are sounding a little “put upon” right now.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    First impression of that cover:

    “First Gay President? What’s Michelle gonna think?”

  17. humanslug says:

    What should we do?
    As far as our official positions and policies on homosexuality in our various churches and denominations, the best we can do is fully explore and consider every argument or point with a valid root in scripture, church tradition, and in what we understand to be the character and nature of Jesus — and once everyone has put in their two cents and every stone has been overturned, we can only try our best to come to an agreement or a majority decision or a council ruling or a papal decree or however your church does such things and then move forward from there.
    One thing we shouldn’t do is to carve our present positions and policies in eternal stone, silence all dissent, and denounce everyone with different positions and policies as heretical and unChristian.
    What we indeed seem to be doing is to split up our churches and denominations over this issue and then fortify our positions on either side of the cultural divide.
    As individual Christians, we can do our best to love like Jesus … or not.

    • What should we do?

      “Christians cannot afford any more emotional responses. We must finally settle down to a Biblical, Spirit-controlled and Christlike response to these difficult issues. We must thoroughly abandon the idea that we are right with God because we oppose any person’s sexuality. We must find a way to be one beggar telling another beggar where there is bread. Our deep disagreements with those who seek to establish an identity by way of sexual expression must bring about a response that shows who we know ourselves to be–truly repulsive to God now and always–but that also shows the wider mercy of a God who loves such people at the greatest cost to himself.”

      Michael Spencer – “In The Gay Ol’ Summertime”

  18. Hiding Behind a Pseudonym says:

    Today’s witch hunt is brought to you by…

    • Radagast says:

      …sorry, I don’t see this as a witch hunt, just people with differing views trying to be heard and understand one another.

      If you read the responses for this post and the prior one, there is alarge number of posters who are in favor of gay marriage, others who are on the fence, and still others who are not ready to jump on the bandwagon but still want to love. The point is that people are talking. For those of us who are older, change will take longer, if ever. For those of us who are younger and have grown up with the TV and media, there is an attitude of what’s the big deal, or accusations that the older generation is intolerant. For those who are gay, there is much more acceptance these days than at any time since the Roman empire.

      So no witch hunt here.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I agree, no witch hunt here. Some comments, on both sides, come close, but we are just chatting here, sharing stories, asking questions, getting answers. Unless someone gets online and starts being crazy irrational, this is what open dialogue is supposed to look like.

      • You certainly have not read every post in this thread. The Headless Unicorn likened people who graciously but clearly express their views on a difficult subject as Jihadists and white supremecists. Not only is it crazy irrational, it is manipulative. He should be called out for that by people on both sides. It is hypocritical of those who call for gentleness and loving acceptance of gay people to remain silent on this.

  19. Donegal Misfortune says:

    And the first Kenyan born president of the United States…wonder which country will be next to make an American president…

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/05/17/The-Vetting-Barack-Obama-Literary-Agent-1991-Born-in-Kenya-Raised-Indonesia-Hawaii

  20. @ Marcus J

    Dialogue continued here.

  21. A few years back my wife and I were dining in West Hollywood, and I overheard the table next to us plotting about which preacher they were going to bully and intimidate and marginalize next for his position against homosexuality. I remember thinking, wow they’re pushing back with the same tactics of power that were used to hurt them and keep them in the closet. They’re JUST LIKE the people they despise. Which side of the debate they were on was irrelevant, because the tactics of both sides were all the same: shame, intimidation, isolation… Not love, joy, or peace.

  22. Peter McNaughton says:

    I think the verses toward the end of 1 Corinthians 5 are relevant here:
    “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

    I would take this to mean that how we handle the sexual sins of unbelievers and those of believers is allowed to vary, with the stricter standard being held for those who call themselves brothers.