August 23, 2017

A Conversation We Must Have

Exit Sign, Hyatt Moore

By Chaplain Mike

Thanks for a great discussion, everyone. To be continued… Comments are now closed.

I have avoided this for a long time, but at some point, we are going to have to talk about it.

I haven’t wanted to bring it up because, like most hot-button issues, trying to have a conversation about this subject usually only leads to arguing and fighting, with those on the extremes yelling the loudest and drowning out voices that want some space and time to work through their thoughts and feelings. When people are screaming at each other from opposite sides of the room, it’s hard to sit in the middle and discuss something calmly.

What prompts me to bring up this subject? There is a new book that has been getting a lot of press lately. This book discusses the American religious scene, where we’ve come from and where we find ourselves now. It is called, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell. One of its findings was summarized in an article by Anthony B. Robinson with these words:

“Religious Right Drives Young from Churches.”

Based on their research, Putnam and Campbell found that in the past several years there has been a significant decline in religious participation among younger Americans (those who have come of age since 1990). About 30% of them are now classified as “nones”—people claiming no religious affiliation. Folks, these are my children (my youngest was born in 1990), so this finding got my attention immediately.

What lies behind this shift? The research supporting the findings of American Grace led its authors to conclude that the “culture war” approach and conservative political agenda of evangelicalism over the past 30 years has turned young people off and prompted them to walk away from church. And the one issue that has been particularly troublesome for them is the church’s attitude toward homosexuality.

Robinson reports the authors’ findings:

“The association between religion and politics (and especially religion’s intolerance of homosexuality) was the single strongest factor in this portentous shift.”

…this trend is most evident among those coming of age in the 1990s. While some of the twenty-somethings do hold deeply conservative views, as Seattle has seen with the growth of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland and Mars Hill, a majority of the Millennial generation are liberal on most social issues, particularly homosexuality. According to Putnam’s research, the percentage of twentysomethings who said homosexual relations were “always” or “almost always” wrong plummeted from about 75 percent in 1990 to 40 percent in 2008.

This is significant. Our young people are telling us that we have been wrong with regard to homosexuality. Perhaps they are seeing this in the same terms as my generation saw the civil rights movement—when we told our parents and grandparents that they had been wrong to exclude a group of people from full participation in society. Our children, now young, idealistic adults as we once were, are making their dissatisfaction known by the sound of their footsteps walking out the church door. Nearly a third of them—a third of them!—have decided that church and religious practice is not for them.

I’m not here to make any pronouncements today. I’ve just written this to say to all of us, “We’re going to have to learn how to talk about this issue, which is apparently front and center on their radar.” We have to figure out a way to think, pray, and act like Jesus with regard to our homosexual neighbors. I’m not saying we need to come to an answer that will make everyone happy. But I think findings like those recorded in American Grace must get our attention, drive us to our knees, and get us talking with one another.

Frankly, I don’t have an answer that I’m satisfied with right now.

  • The more conservative among us focus on truth, and want to make sure we all understand the issues involved. They are concerned about sin and what they perceive to be the clear teaching of Scripture advocating sexual purity and the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. They see any concession in this matter as moral compromise and disobedience to a holy God. They advocate for the church to be a strong, unyielding prophetic voice of truth and moral sanity in a world (and a church) that they see coming apart at the seams as it denies and transgresses the most fundamental boundaries established by natural and biblical theology.
  • On the other hand, the more progressive among us express a greater concern for love and relational integrity. They emphasize Jesus’ radical attitudes of hospitality and the inclusion of sinners. They point out that the church has mercilessly shunned and condemned homosexuals in the past, and recommend instead that we get to know them as our neighbors and build new bridges of understanding and acceptance. Even those who think the practice of homosexuality is not God’s original design are willing to set that position to the side for the sake of reaching out and befriending those in the GLBT communities. Others have become convinced that the Biblical injunctions were designed to speak against idolatrous or abusive practices only, and not the lifelong monogamous unions that some gays are seeking to establish today.

This issue is dividing churches and entire denominations today. Apparently, the young adults in our midst have much different perspectives and feelings about it than those from older generations. Because “coming out” has been more prevalent over the past twenty years, young people are more likely to have openly gay friends and acquaintances than their parents and grandparents. It’s one thing to have opinions about “the gays.” It’s another thing to think about my friend, ____________, and know how to relate to him or her. And it’s another thing altogether to know how to be the church in a community and serve our GLBT neighbors in both truth and love.

Warning: I’m ready for an avalanche of responses. I will be moderating. If I get busy and have to stay away for a little while, I will come back and clean things up if the discussion gets ugly. If you think I’m letting people get away with murder, just be patient. If your comment gets deleted, don’t even think about protesting. Please check all weapons at the door and keep your contributions civil. This is one time your normally gentle host is going to be very, very intolerant of misbehavior.

Comments

  1. “To those who say Jesus said nothing about it, I point to Matthew 19:4-6. There Jesus says that God’s differentiating us as either male or female is the reason for (heterosexual) marriage.”

    The point of that passage is the idea of “one flesh”…God creates one spiritual being out of two different genders. The impact of the illustration is the way God is able to create unity (marriage) out of disparity (gender difference), and so the act of divorce becomes an issue of real spiritual violence. In other words, divorce is held up against the beauty of God’s creative uniting of two people, which makes it all the uglier for the comparison. Making a point contra homosexuality stretches the content and context of the passage beyond the breaking point I think.

    That said, I do think that the biblical witness for marriage as a covenant is male-female. That is the meaning that the word is the signpost for and is thus the reality that the covenant creates. Philosophically speaking, in order to permit gay marriage you’d have to come up with a different word AND a new covenant. As a pastor, my answer to “would you preside over a gay marriage ceremony” would be , “no”…because I don’t have a biblical covenant to give you. I can’t make one up, and the bible doesn’t give it to me.

    “Also, in Matthew 5:17-19 Jesus upholds the OT law.”

    I’ll reiterate what I said above, because I anticipated that someone might make this point. If you’re going to say that, then you’re on the hook for the whole thing, every jot and tittle so to speak, from Exodus through Deuteronomy. You can’t be picky here. You can’t obey only the laws you want to obey and discard the rest. Of course, I don’t think Jesus is making that point at all here. He’s saying that he IS the fulfillment of the law; that faith in him (and ironically NOT rigid, exclusionary adherence to Torah) is what it means to obey the Law fully. Furthermore, if you make this point then you’ll place yourself in tension with much of the Pauline writings including Romans (which you also cited).

    “Moving to Paul, there’s the obvious Roman 1. But 7:14-25 paints a vivid picture.”

    Galatians 6 puts Romans 1 in perspective. Romans may represent a more developed perspective, or even changed cultural mores. There’s a whole book just in the tension between those two passages. I’m not quite sure where you’re going with 7.14-25. Gay people are sinners. So am I, all 170 heterosexual pounds of me. We’re all excluded through thought word and deed, by what we’ve done and by what we’ve left undone (to quote the liturgy). If we stick to the usual “grace by faith” point that reformed thought tends to make of Romans, then Romans 7 is an obvious part of a larger sense unit. I think that over simplifies Romans tremendously, but that’s another post for another day.

    The point about placing Jesus in a position where he’s arguing from silence is a good one though. You’re right, at least to some extent. The fact that Jesus never mentions it could be nothing more than an indication of the way opinion on the issue was taken for granted in the first century. Then again, we find Josephus mentioning the issue (Against Apion, 2.199) just 60 years later (or so), so it couldn’t have been so obvious that it bore no mentioning at all. I say that to make the point that Jesus’ silence also does not mean that he DIDN’T think about it and simply find it a low priority. Certainly Greco-Roman forms of sexual immorality were well-known (and detested) throughout the Ancient Near East all through the Koine period and beyond. I find it odd that, living in that period in that culture, Jesus wouldn’t have been exposed regularly to the issue…and he didn’t say a word about it. It’s certainly not a stretch to think that at least Peter dealt with the issue, if somewhat euphamistically, in 2 Pt. 2.4-10. Jude may be alluding to homosexual behavior in Jude 1. The Greek is rather cryptic, but given the wording used it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Both were written around 35 years after Jesus’ ministry.

    I write all of this not to be argumentative; you’re all my brothers and sisters, and I so appreciate the civil, even loving tenor of this discussion. I’m simply trying to assert more clearly the real complexity of the bibilcal issue. Like most things in the bible, it’s just not as clear as we want it to be.

    • People miss the real force of Paul’s argument in Romans 1 because they stop reading at the end of the chapter. Chapter divisions weren’t part of Paul’s original letter. And guess what words come next, right after Paul’s description of the wrath of God coming on pagan practices (including homosexual behavior)? Romans 2:1—“Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”

      Makes me want to pause.

      • Shawn Guenther says:

        I wholeheartedly agree, Mike.

        Not to diverge off topic, but I think Paul’s entire story is a sad one, because he’s a man with a very complex idea in his head that he was not great at conveying to people of his time. I think his letter would have read quite a bit differently today. While there is the “I have been all things to all men that I might save some” Paul, the main purpose of his message was always: Love Jesus, emulate Jesus, give yourself to Him and everything else falls into place. This implies a level of trust in people that we, generally speaking, are terrified of. We want to cling to the rules and regulations because they give structure, but he’s trying to delicately get across that you have to do what your Spirit tells you is right, because that’s God directing you. If you aren’t following that then nothing you are doing is really Good.

        Anyway, to the point of what says what, this is where I get enormously frustrated because we take the bible in our hands at face value. The word Paul used was not one of the common Greek words for homosexual. The word Paul used technically was not a true Greek word at all; it was slang, and badly constructed slang. The best we can tell as etymologists is that it meant either man-bedder, or (more likely) man of many beds, neither of which directly imply or deny reference to homosexuality. I believe this was wholly purposeful; I believe he wanted it to be ambiguous because there is a very fine line between homosexuality as depravity and homosexuality as love.

        In truth, Levitican law is really the only chapter that holds up to any scrutiny. Corinthians was homosexuality cursed on a people for rejecting God, and the rejecting came before the punishment. The whole of Romans is tainted with questionable translation. Levitican law is very clear. But Peter tells us in acts that Jews and Gentiles are now one in God’s eyes, which releases the Levitican law, which was only ever intended for the Jews.

        But really all of this is semantic arguments that miss the point in my opinion.

        To me this is a very simple issue. I know God exists and loves me because when I stare out my back porch at sunrise and see the light through the trees I feel Him calling to me in every cell, I feel the love and power of Him. I also know God exists because when I look at my wife I feel the very same thing; that he placed this amazing woman here for me.

        So when I see my cousin look at her girlfriend with that same longing, that same heartbreaking love not only for this woman, but for the God who put her into her life… I cannot reject that. I cannot dare to cross what God has constructed in these two women and say that it’s wrong, no matter how much it kind of makes my skin crawl. To me, doing so is the deepest kind of affront to God.

        Lust I could condemn. Love I believe is beyond reproach, as it is of, by, and for God alone.

      • What an amazing point.

  2. Randy Thompson says:

    What matters most, it seems to me, is that we need to affirm one of the Christian basics, “love your neighbor,” more than we affirm what I believe the Bible teaches on homosexuality. In other words, what matters is maintaining an ongoing, respectful and caring relationship with someone you disagree with. “Loving your neighbor” doesn’t mean agreeing with your neighbor.

    I’m a pastor and my background with this issue comes out of a liberal, social-activist mainline church that endorsed and embraced gay marriage. I could not support this, and ended up leaving the denomination, at no small risk, professionally. Yet, I have no interest at all in being part of various anti-gay crusades, of whatever sort. If a gay couple moved in next door, they would be my neighbors, period. I would hope that we would have a friendly enough relationship so that at some point, down the road, if or when the topic came up, we could be honest with each other about what we believe. When I took a stand in the context of liberal protestant denomination on this issue, a mentor advised me to “raise your flag, let people see it, take it down, and move on.” That’s what I did.

    I also find it helpful in this matter to remember that I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God before I am a citizen of the United States. My primary job is to serve Christ by loving others, not trying to re-establish American Christendom so American evangelicals can feel comfortable while waiting for the rapture. Christendom is about crusades. The Kingdom is about loving and serving others in the name of Jesus Christ. The religious right is a disastrous exercise in missing the point and has. sold its Kingdom birthright for right-wing pottage. To reduce the Kingdom of God to Christendom is to turn the Gospel into a weapon against real or perceived opponents. The question is, how do we “empty ourselves” and “take the form of a servant” vis a vis our gay friends.

    I have disagreed face to face with gay people I love very much. It’s painful. I wish it isn’t that way, but it is. I arranged once to meet a lesbian colleague for lunch, the purpose of which was for me to say, “Since we deeply disagree on some some very important issues, I thought it would be a good idea to sit down and get acquainted.” Not easy to do, but now, I am so glad we had the meeting. This meeting didn’t change her views or mine, but that meeting affirmed something more important which is profoundly rooted in the Gospel. If God loves us “while we are still sinners,” shouldn’t we offer the same courtesy? And, finally, isn’t the One who does the judge in the Kingdom someone other than me (or you)?

    By the way, since people are sharing birth dates: Mine is 1950. Is there anyone here who can beat that?!

    • Randy: Your comments are very well said. I too have several gay co-workers and for years my wife and I were vey good friends with a lesbian couple who owned a neighborhood coffee bar. I have found, more and more, that as I extend honest love and respect to them, we can disagree on some key issues but still stay in a loving and caring friendship. By the way, mine is 1949, so I am really old, compared to you.

    • “My primary job is to serve Christ by loving others, not trying to re-establish American Christendom so American evangelicals can feel comfortable while waiting for the rapture.”

      Randy — well said! May I borrow that?

  3. I was born in1935. I grew up in a fundamental legalistic church. Joined the army at 19yrs. of age and worked very hard at breaking all the commandments except murder,{well if you think it, it’s the same as doing it, that one too} pride and lust were big in my life,and homophobia was part of the culture of the day. Over the years I have met quite a few gays and lesbians, most of them people I considered good people. Six years ago I started back to God. I was and am a bigger sinner than many GLBTs., but God forgave me too. Jesus paid for our past, present and future sins. We are all habitual sinners, Mark, whether we admit it or not. I will try to love all sinners and leave judgement to God.

  4. Dealing with this issue is an ongoing process for me, but here’s where I find myself now:

    Perhaps I can look in the Bible and see that it identifies homosexual behavior as sinful. So what? Does that change anything? No. Even if everyone in the world were straight, we would all still be just as guilty of sin before the Lord.

    If I recognize someone else’s behavior as sinful, does pointing that out accomplish anything? No. I don’t have the power to do anything about the sin in my own life, much less anyone else’s. Healing sin is the responsibility of Christ and Christ alone. Given my own helplessness – my absolute dependence on Jesus to fix me – how can I possibly look at someone else and condemn them for their sin? What qualification do I have to look into another person’s life and evaluate how well they are responding to Christ’s redemptive work? Christ works in each individual in a unique way, to accomplish unique goals, at a unique pace, and He’s under no obligation to share the details of that plan with me. The most I can do is take the hand of my fellow sinner and fall on my face before God pleading for His mercy and pouring out my gratitude for His unimaginable grace to both of us.

  5. Chaplain Mike,

    I think this touches on a broader issue. Is there anything the church can do to help facilitate the work of Christ in healing our sinfulness. Sadly, I think the most common method used by the church is to isolate and condemn, or even cast out identified sinners. That just puts all the responsibility on the shoulders of the individual to “fix” himself. Don’t we have an obligation as the community of faith to build on another up? How do we help each other get rid of sin? Is it even the church’s job to fix sin, or is the church’s job just to get the broken people to Jesus so He can work on them (like the guys lowering their crippled buddy thru the roof for Jesus to heal him)?

    • M.B.

      As a Catholic, we have a different approach to a person’s sin at Mass. One of the first things that happens is a recognition that we have sinned and need help and forgiveness. We say the Lord’s Prayer, and then one of the most meaningful responses. “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.”

      Do we, as a community, do enough, Probably not, but that takes time to know and to love each other. That doesn’t happen very much, unfortunately.

    • I like the last line of your comment. There’s too much “fixing” going on in American evangelicalism.

  6. Greg Hogan says:

    Yes, this topic has to be brought up. I was born in the 50’s and grew up in the 60’s in a fundamentalist church. The “Culture Wars” was part of my religion through the 80’s & 90″s, until I made a mistake (not a moral failure), and because I was not perfect I was expelled from my fundamentalist denomination. Then I began to see my life as a journey, and wanted to discover God on the path. To make a long story short, I had to reject fundamentalism for the way it judges people. I have been shocked as a non-fundamentalist, main-line Pastor, to find so many people who feel the church outright rejects them because of just having homosexual thoughts.
    We are becoming irrelevant to society, not because they are more liberal in their morals, but because we are less and less compassionate in the way we approach people. The way we treat homosexuals is the way the rest of the unchristian world expects us to treat them. Who needs that kind of rejection?

  7. Christiane says:

    REGARDLESS of one’s beliefs concerning homosexual people, young people have noticed that some religious viewpoints have engaged in demonizing LGBT people. The language alone is a give-away.

    Maybe THAT is why some young people are backing away from the Church.
    They see the ‘demonizing’, the ‘language’, the ‘stridency’, and they know that it’s not fair.
    Most young people today know someone who knows someone who knows a gay person that doesn’t fit the demonic mold cast for them by Christian conservatives AT ALL.

    The demonizing of many minority groups is also now known to be a big money maker among right-wing speakers, still another sign of lack of integrity. Kids pick up on that stuff. No wonder many kids are walking away. Actually, somehow THAT gives me hope for the future: we might someday have a group of adults that can resist the pressure to accept intolerance of minorities as the ‘norm’.

  8. For what it’s worth, I think that the reason that this particularly flammable issue comes up so often and violently has NOTHING to do with the behavior in question. Like all hobby horses of the religious right, it all comes down to a harmitological issue: Evangelicals, plagued on one side by fundamentalists legalism and the other side by freedom denying antinomianism, have absolutely no clue how to handle sin. In their lives, or the lives of others. They have no idea how to apply the gospel to their lives and how the law relates to them as a believer. Our own personal failures are just too hard to deal with. So by running after other sinners with our tar and feathers, we deflect attention away from our own guilt. Jesus said “judge not” and Paul said “by their fruit you will know them” and we have no concept of how to reconcile those two statements.

    Many argue the morality of homosexual behavior on a hermeneutical level: Bigotry is a factor in how some people bend scriptures to condemn others, but at the same time rationalization skews our perspective on God’s word to deny that it forbids what our evil and corrupt hearts want.

    Homosexually ought not to even be a issue of scriptural interpretation, and NOT because the scriptures are definitively clear here. The issue is marriage.

    Terry Mattingly says that you can classify all Christians by their response to three questions:
    1. Was the resurrection a literal, bodily, historical event?
    2. Is Jesus Christ the only way of salvation?
    3. Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

    If 3 is a yes, then the issue becomes gay marriage. There is no hermeneutical debate on that one that I’m aware of. It is an issue of authority: As Christians, are we submitting ourselves to God’s word and revealed will? Are we seeking to find it through all our preferences and presuppositions? Not if we’re using the Bible as a weapon against others, and not if we refuse to see our own sin called out in scripture through the use of a hermeneutic that undercuts all principles of communication.

  9. As a young, leftist, atheist I have to ask. Even if you guys went all out in acceptance of homosexuality (up to and including complete support of gay marriage and adoption) do you really think young people would return to the church?

    I don’t

    • I agree Andy (except for a few who were particularly alienated by that issue). The reasons the “youth” have left the Church are multi-faceted. This is just one of those facets.

    • I don’t think it’s the exact position on the issue that causes problems so much as how the issue is dealt with regardless of stance. But of course, as a young, leftist atheist, you probably don’t see much rational incentive for any religious involvement, and you may perceive more young people coming over to that perspective as the reason why resolving this issue won’t help.

      • I’m certainly prone to bias, but the 30% who identify as “nones” have plenty of opportunity to join denominations that deal with LGBT issues in every possible way. Yet the number of “nones” has continued to climb higher and higher.

        Which is why I don’t believe this “problem” is with stance, or handling.

        • Good points. I wish more of us Christians would honestly confess our biases as you just did.
          That being said, it’s possible that you are just dead right regardless of bias.

          However, consider the tendency of humans to throw out the baby with the bathwater. We all do it at times. A person burned out with church or deeply offended by the overly pietistic doesn’t typically resolve the conflict by trying a new denomination. It’s easier to just opt out. Why bother taking another chance in a remotely similar environment?

          Also consider the statistics concerning people who leave the church in their youth only to return as adults. It has tended to be pretty high, though it certainly is not irreversible.

          The number of “nones” has continued to rise indeed. However, so has the number of Presbyterians. Remember, there are three types of lies: White lies, damned lies, and statistics.

        • Honest question for you (meaning I really want to know what you think and will use it to change my own opinion), what do you think are the major reasons that people are leaving the Church? Don’t mean to side-track a very useful discussion.

          • I don’t know if it’s the leading reason, but I think finances are part of it. Church membership is associated with requests for tithing and/or financial support; few people are willing and able to set aside an amount that would infringe upon their lifestyle. If you quit going to church, you don’t hear the appeals.

          • To answer my own question, my kids’ friends say it is the “phony-factor” of Christianity. (btw, After which, my son’s band is named “Caulfield and His Magical Violin.” as in Holden Caulfield). Several of the kids (in their twenties) in his band came out of Evangelical households . . . but never darken the doors of church anymore. Back to the original topic, one of them’s sibling is gay and didn’t like the way they were treated by the church.

          • This is my opinion and I can’t speak for everyone but here are my 2 cents.

            1) It’s more acceptable to be an open atheist now. What was once considered evil. amoral. hedonism is now a regular thing. Nonbelievers are everywhere, we write books, we’re your neighbors.

            2) Religion (and I’m including everybody here) is such a divisive thing. And for what? So we can argue about what the Bible, or Koran, or whatever holy book actually means over and over and over again? Who is going to heaven and hell? What are heaven and hell? Ultimately we have a lot of people making a lot of claims, with no real substance for why anyone should believe any of it.

            I think the openness of information is the biggest cause of these. No longer do people just have a couple churches in town, we’re exposed to a lot of different beliefs.

    • Andy, I don’t really think that’s the point. It’s a matter of being willing to have conversation with people about how the church may have contributed to its own poor reputation, taking seriously what people say, and trying to do a better job of loving our neighbors.

      • I don’t mean to be rude, but I think you’re being a little short sighted. Talking about admitting fault, and loving your neighbor are great things. But geez, how many times have I heard an evangelical tell me these things before?

        Anything short of full acceptance is never going to be taken as loving your neighbor, but its not like we can ignore all those anti-gay passages either. Which raises the immediate and glaring question that I believe is actually leading people away from the church…

        Why should I believe any of this?

        • I said in my article that, “I’m not saying we need to come to an answer that will make everyone happy.” We need to take care of OUR business, Andy, that’s all I’m saying. And when I see the casualties of the culture war, I think it should prompt a little self-examination. We shouldn’t just dismiss this out of hand.

        • Hi Andy,
          If I may comment on your statement : “Anything short of full acceptance is never going to be taken as loving your neighbor, but its not like we can ignore all those anti-gay passages either. ”

          Full acceptance does not equal full approval. Example : a good parent will love their son or daughter no matter what. If a wrong choice is made, an act of bad behavior, a sinful choice is made, no mother or father that truly loves their child will stop loving them because of these. They love them fully with all the good and bad and ugly. That is full acceptance. However, they do not have to approve of the choices that were made. This is the God of Love who has made Himself known through the words of scripture and especially in the life of Jesus.

          The ‘anti-gay’ passages you are referring to, if I’m understanding you correctly, are passages in the bible that speak of homosexuality. They are in the scriptures because God wanted it so. However, remember that Jesus gave us what He called a New commandment (which supersedes all previous ) which He says is the Greatest commandment with 2 parts : Love God and love your neighbor. This loving others is above all what a true follower of Jesus will keep in the forefront. Love must be the goal and focus of a christians life. Sadly, many christians do not know how to love.

    • Honestly….I think they’d be less likely to return if the church was approving of homosexual lifestyle. If the church did this, once a young person read the Bible for themselves, they would understand that the church had bent scripture to gain attendance. That would drive people away just as quickly, if not more so, than what this blog discusses above (not the approval of homosexuality, but how we deal with those living in sin).

      Having said that, I absolutely believe if churches began living more in line with scripture in how they treat others then people – even the young, would return. Hypocrisy is a difficult pill to swallow. Hearing, “God is love…Love neighbor…Christ died for sinners” from the pulpit, and then seeing the way churches treat a particular type of sinner makes the whole church appear as a fake, smoke and mirrors setup.

      This gets especially disillusioning to the young (and the not-so-young like myself…33), as we see the way an evangelical church will turn a blind eye, not address, and even allow to a person to lead who is caught in some other sin – such as being morbidly obese. Or how about the divorce rate in evangelical churches? On and on we could go.

      What people want is something real. Something that addresses the brokenness in us. Something that actually works, as opposed to watching other peoples sins to avoid your own. Get that right and people will return. People of all ages.

  10. I think the generation coming of age now has made their decision and this issue will be a litmus test for churches going forward. Personally, once I concluded that homosexuality was biological, I had to give up condemning it. It’s as if someone said to me, “I know you’re an introvert and I know you were born that way. It’s not a sin to be an introvert, but now you have to stop acting like one….”

    • As an introvert I can speak to this one: Introversion itself is not inherently sinful, but can be linked to un-loving behavior, such as avoiding people and selfish use of my time on myself, hobbies, and pleasures to the neglect of important relationships. Let him who fears the crowd beware of solitude.

    • Suicidal tendencies are genetic. Is it okay to commit suicide?

      • On that track…. SIN is genetic. Does that make it as equally acceptable as breathing?
        I have an inborn natural desire to sleep with every beautiful woman I see. That does not exempt me from God’s demand of monogamy. Who is the authority, desire and subjective emotion or designer and supreme being?

        • I guess I didn’t make my point very well. We all have selfish desires and acting on them can hurt ourselves and others. However, no one has ever told me I was going to hell because I left a party early. No matter how hard I try, I won’t ever be an extrovert and the more I try to change, the more miserable I will be. It helps me understand what those struggling with homosexuality must be going through.

        • But … to be fair, asking a gay or lesbian person never to have sex with someone of the same sex isn’t analogous to the church asking you having sex with one woman. Its analogous to the church teaching that your very sexual impulses toward woman are wrong, and that you ought never to act on them at all.

          • Well it may not be perfectly analogous, but not two different sins truly are in the long run. The church does not deny all sexual impulses to anyone unless all their sexual impulses are to sinful acts. Are you saying that the church, or anybody for that matter, has no right to label ANY sexual impulses as something that ought not to be gratified? I’m not saying homosexuality is on the level of necrophilia or anything like that. I just want to point out that it is not necessarily tyrannical to draw the line of appropriate behavior somewhere. In fact, to deny that such lines even exist is the most tyrannical and unjust approach imaginable. Nobody disagrees that a person with pedophile impulses ought not to act on them. Is that unfair to the pedophile? The answer is no because molesting children is wrong. So whether or not the church is being fair by commanding people not to act on homosexual impulses, even if the necessary consequence would be absolute celibacy, is determined by whether or not homosexual relations are sinful. That question will be answered by deciding whether or not you believe sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful.

          • I think the flaw in the argument is your equation an impulse, or any inborn tendency toward sin, with a person’s sexuality, which (arguably) is an essential part of themselves. If you have a compulsive proclivity to steal (genetic or not), and are told not to, if might be difficult for you to stop, but stealing is not an essential part of your nature.

            Your sexuality, hetereosexual or otherwise, is an essential part of yourself. Its rather more burdening to argue that something integral to you personhood is wrong and cannot be expressed in any way.

      • cermak_rd says:

        I certainly wouldn’t call it a sin. Doing so is useless anyway if the person is dead and monstrous if the person has survived the attempt. In every case I’ve seen, the person who committed suicide has simply hit a wall where he or she could not go any further because the pain was so grueling. I’ve known two rape victims who killed themselves as a result of an inability to process what had happened to themselves. Did they sin in so doing? Did they hurt others? Obviously, their families were devasted. Does that equal sin? If someone has to sit in judgement and state they sinned by taking the only exit they could find from the pain, it’s not going to be me.

        Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of suicides. Some from mental illness, some from life difficulties and one to escape physical ailment. In no case was my first thought or evel last thought that these were people who had sinned.

    • Yeah, I get what you’re saying but it doesn’t hold up if you really think about it (no offense intended). If we follow that logic, how can you say anything is wrong if you simply prove you were born that way? And if you believe we are all born broken (as scripture says), it becomes impossible to approve of something simply by proving you were born that way.

      A few examples for you….

      1. What if science proved a pedophile was born with an attraction to children? If it’s proven to be biological, does it at that point become acceptable?

      2. What if science proved a person was born with a predisposition towards alcoholism. At that point, does it mean you can not speak against drinking in excess? To point that person away from the behavior of drinking, aren’t you speaking against the way they were born and wired at birth?

      3. My son is 3. He was born sinful, no question. When he was two, he started biting if he didn’t get his way. I know this wasn’t learned behavior as I had never bitten him (or his mom). From birth he had a bent that said, “If you do not get your way, lash out and cause violence”. But this isn’t acceptable to me, regardless of how he was born.

      On and on we could go….slippery slope…

  11. Wow what a discussion!

    From my european dutch perspective it all looks a bit different…. unlike the USA where the religious right persecutes GLBT ppl, over here it tends to be the reverse. Some years ago a christian member of parliament who said homosexuality was sinful was sued and brought to justice for hate crime.
    I think the bible considers homosexual behaviour sinful and I’m a mild complementarian… yet I feel mostly at ease in churches that are not too legalistic and judgemental on the topic… I AM dutch after all and a product of the seventies and eighties in this country.
    In this discussion we all got something right and something wrong. I can self identify with pro gay pro female pastor christians for I grew up with that mindset being an unchurched youth… yet my bible doesn’t allow it and I simply am unable to bend it that way.
    I guess that every christian generation has its major challenges and it has always been a mess… be it for legalistic judgemental hateful behaviour or an ‘anything goes’ mentality where nothing seems to matter as long as we all just get along.
    I just can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a nation where GLBT ppl get denied basic human rights by the ‘religious right’…. sounds like the tales of Mars or the european Middle Ages…

    • A little rectification: as an unchurched youth I wasn’t in favour of female pastors of course for I wasn’t involved in any church… I mean that the normalcy of women in leadership positions leads one to accept female pastors.

    • What rights are they being denied?

      • Women are being denied a man’s right to marry a woman.

        Men are being denied a woman’s right to marry a man.

        (Marriage has been established as a civil right by multiple U.S. Supreme Court cases; the 14th Amendment guarantees that no state shall deprive any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws; men are being denied the marriage protections afforded to women; women are being denied the marriage protections afforded to men.)

        • Oops, my reading comprehension on Hans’ post just failed. 🙁 Sorry for the nonsequitur.

        • That’s silly. It’s like being denied the right to have a square circle. There is no such thing as a marriage between two men or women. They are not being denied it because no such right exists.

          • It’s like that old joke about infant baptism.

            “Do you believe in gay marriage?”
            “Believe in it? Man, I’ve seen it!”

            I would suggest your definition of marriage is based on who you want to exclude from it, rather than any logical underpinning.

    • Seen the responses I guess my unknown dutch cultural setting should urge me to be more explicatory in my posts… yet I often don’t know what is and what isn’t different between here and ‘there’…
      Let me put it another way: the USA has a ‘religious right’ that wields some considerable power…. over here in Holland we have a ‘secular left’ that wields some considerable power….
      I live in a post christian country where stating anything could be a sin is frowned upon as ‘not done’ and something that hopefully soon will fade away once humanity has gotten rid of all tribal religions…
      Being a dutch christian, it goes without saying for me gay ppl are to be treated as all ppl that is with respect.
      Being a dutch christian, it’s difficult to say I see the homosexual lifestyle as sinful for it could be seen as a breach of article 1 of the dutch constitution (the ‘anti discrimination’ article) and what I say could be interpreted as a hate crime….
      Yet we still do have freedom of religion….
      In other words, over here it’s the other way round!

  12. There is no difference with a homosexual and, for example, any other type of sin … sin separates us from God. We are all sinners. Our heavenly Father wants obedience. “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only Begotten Son, what WHOEVER believes in Him with not perish but have eternal life.
    Yes, definatly homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord — it says it in the Bible. But getting drunk is as well … ANYTHING that is no in obedience to what the LORD says is SIN. Look at ourselves, did I not SIN today?
    As believers in Christ we are called to LOVE the sinner — Jesus DID — He DIED FOR ALL OF US. THat’s what HE says.
    If we believers don’t LOVE, show compassion towards or judge someone who is gay, then we are WILLFULLY sinning.
    All I can say is “ask God to show you”. My heart goes out to those who are gay — just because they get ‘nailed’ (no pun intended) — and they are no different than any of us. And it’s not just Christians but many people condemn what they do. Personally God did not make us to be together we the same sex — look at our physical characteristics. Marriage between man and woman leads to life between to men or women … does not lead to life.

  13. As with so many other great discussions on this site, this one also misses the deeper issue. We skirt it all the time yet never come right out and say it. Or maybe we really do still believe that the institutional church has a place in God’s kingdom. Yes of course God can use it to His glory. Stories abound in His Word of how something evil was turned to good by God. But that does not justify the means. It does not condone the very existence of this entity we call the institutional church. Others call it the local church. Whatever, it simply does not exist in God’s Word either as a doctrine or as an institution. Therefore, whatever function it plays is at its core derived from the religious tradition of man. In God’s kingdom there are only two groups – the Church Body of Jesus Christ and the world. Wheat and tares. Sheep and goats. Saved and unsaved. And they are all mixed together. Sadly, this mixture prevails within the local church where things just get confused. This post is one example.

    The question is not, what should the local/institutional church do about homosexuals. The question is, what should the Church Body of Jesus Christ do? We are the only organism that can do anything without the worry of pragmatic, dogmatic, or theocratic approach.

    The two focus bullets – truth and love, are both accurate. But within the context of the local church they make no sense. They divide. Truth is, within the Church Body, they divide too. Only in the latter case, the division is because of both truth and love at the same time. Forget homosexuality for a moment. Choose any sin that someone of the Body chooses to yield to. That sin puts the believer at enmity with both God and the Body. Repentance is required. Sometimes it comes. Sometimes it doesn’t. Loving members of the Body minister to the one out of fellowship to help restore him.

    But while that person remains willfully in sin, the Body is to also keep him separate. Not for the Body’s sake, but for the Lord’s honor. Why is this? Because the sole purpose of the Body is to worship God. That is the first and greatest commandment. Neither sinners (unbelievers) or willful, unrepentant believers can do this. It is a spiritual impossibility. Just as we were once dead in sin before salvation, so it is whenever the old man arises and sin comes between us and God again. Only the blood of Jesus cleanses, forgives, and restores us to the “one” relationship with God.

  14. Great provocative article!! I so thankful that Jesus said, “For God so loved the WORLD …”, not “For God so loved only those who attend church…”

    It is unfortunate that many churches (not all) are incapable of knowing how to disagree with something, but still love, embrace, welcome and respect. Frankly, I think the whole world struggles with that – only Jesus (full of grace and truth) knew how to model it best!!! To respect, love and welcome does not mean that I agree with something – it means that I’m willing to extend the same invitation I received when I first walked into a community of believers – we all need the love and truth of God.

    If churches can welcome sinners like me, as Paul said, the chiefest of sinners (and that’s all of us, by the way), then our churches need to have the same attitude. If not, close the doors and let those who can do it carry the flag of hope (Jesus) for ALL mankind – whatever our lifestyle and situation!! If the issue with some churches is their religious pride against the homosexual lifestyle, then chances are they are that way in MANY other areas as well – it’s time for them to read the message of Jesus to the churches of Revelation: “This one thing I have against you…”

    I truly believe that the message of Jesus was intended to be INCLUSIVE, but we’ve made it EXCLUSIVE by our prejudice and self-righteous attitudes. It’s okay, God knows how to burn out the chaff…ouch… because he STILL loves the world!!!

  15. Buford Hollis says:

    I have this cynical, pessimistic thought that young people don’t REALLY care about gay issues–at least, not as much as they say. It’s a big like environmentalism in that respect. Or even civil rights. (White people don’t REALLY want to go to churches with a lot of black people in them, any more than they want to live in the ghetto–they’d just like to have a few around to present the appearance of diversity, and make them feel good about themselves.)

    This means that if churches can offer young people something they really, really want–career help or health insurance or child care or rap concert tickets, I dunno–they might succeed in persuading them to compromise or abandon their morals. (The opportunity to stand around and sing once a week is not going to cut it, though.)

  16. I think a good part of the answer lies in part of the question/issue: the ‘religious right.’

    How did we ever get to the point that any part of Christianity is tied in with politics?

  17. Great conversation!

    I agree with many of you that homosexuality is no different than any other sin and how we need to love gays as we would love anyone else who is struggling. I feel that anything I say would pretty much be a repeat, but I am posting a link to my church’s position paper on homosexuality- which provides a lot of good Scriptural support. Our church seems to be well respected by much of the GLBT community, even if they disagree with the basis for our position.

    Read it here:
    http://sojournchurch.com/wp-content/uploads/Lee-Lewis.Sexuality-Track.Homosexuality.pdf

  18. I worked in a Christian residential drug rehab (women’s center) for years. Each Sunday we would visit a different church. Many times we would go to a church and the pastor would hammer on some “top” sins….prostitution, abortion, homosexuality….and I would cringe. I am sitting on a row of ladies who may have experienced all that and more. Now they’re here, seeking relationship with God – hoping that He may be the answer to a new life with freedom and victory….and the pastor is mutilating them emotionally with the things shared about these “major” sins. So yeah….I’m a little touchy about the way these situations are approached within the church. We worked within our ministry to share the love of God as a means of healing and restoration…not berating them about their past or present. We found that they only genuinely responded to the love, grace, and mercy of God.

  19. No one will probably see this here at the end, but here’s a perfect example. These comments by a School Board member in Arkansas on facebook are getting a lot of attention. Would I dare facebook a link to any article about this on my church’s facebook page? Not a chance. The members would have my job before the end of the week.

    “Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”

    … “I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone.”

    http://advocate.com/News/News_Features/Arkansas_School_Board_Member_Thinks_Fags_Should_Die/

    • This is despicable and tragic.

    • How does one answer this? If the prodigal son was a sodomist would his father have rejected him? Did Jesus reject the thief on the cross? We tend to be like the pharisees,” thank God I am not like those people”, but is pride less a sin than sodomy,seducing your friend’s wife or girl friend less than murder? We are all sinners. Please don’t reject Jesus’s gift because there are hypocrits in the church. They don’t care about you, but Jesus does.

  20. Just a few days ago, blogger Andrew Sullivan (who is gay, married, and Catholic) posted a short piece, “I Came Out to God.” Sullivan regularly speaks up on homosexual issues and religion. He’s a voice worth hearing out, if nothing else:

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/10/the-first-person-i-came-out-to-was-god.html

    BTW, I am not sure if outside links are kosher to the discussion. If not, feel free to delete, Chaplain Mike.

    • Thanks for sharing the link and video. I never knew what Andrew Sullivan looked and sounded like.

  21. I think in the past it was socially acceptable to attend church if you were a true believer or not. It was a “normal” thing to do. Many were attending for respectability. Today, with many voices putting down religion as unnecessary at best and for the intellectually challenged at worst, those who, in the past, would have attended a church to be respectable do not feel that need.
    I think there are no less Christians, only less people compelled to attend churches. The influence is more so in college.
    My 20 year old has no interest in attending. He sees no relevance.

    • Sadly, yes.
      C. S. Lewis talked about the same phenomenon earlier in the 20th century in England.

      Today, with so much of it being churchianity – the teachings of Christ taught superficially, cultural issues given prominence – the ties that bind may not bind too long. Besides, too many kids are learning in their own homes that commitment only lasts until one parent walks out the door. Is it really surprising that many young people walk away?

      Yes, they could find a different church. But unless they really believe there is something worthwhile, it is easier to walk away.

    • Buford Hollis says:

      I’ve heard this compared to the collapse of Communism. In the old days, everybody had to be a Communist (or at least pretend to be) if they wanted to get ahead. Now that the old society has fallen apart, a lot of people are nostalgic for what was actually a pretty brutal social order. Oh yeah, and the ideology was a bunch of nonsense too.

  22. The Seeker says:

    Here in Canada we have the opposite problem.

    A few years ago the government legalized gay marriage.

    But long before then gay activists were persecuting Christians. Canada has human rights commissions to which people can complain if they feel they have experienced discrimination. That person will have their legal fees paid for by the government. The person they complain about has to pay their own legal costs.

    It has been a heyday for activists. One youth pastor wrote a strong letter to his local paper when we were debating same sex marriage. Someone who was offended made a complaint. For years that pastor had to pay expensive legal bills. He was found guilty and ordered to pay $5000 and was told he could not preach or talk about it. His name is stephen boissoin and he is on youtube.

    A Christian printer Scott Brockie refused to print radical Gay literature. He had years of expensive legal battles. Only he just got a letter from the human rights commission and told to pay $5000, they did not even ask his side of the story!

    I find I have to ask God for grace not to get bigoted the longer it goes on.

    I will say that most Canadian Christians have no interest in a culture war like you have in the USA, but they are rapidly being pushed into a corner by the left. And they claim it in the name of tolerance, which in Canada means you have to agree with everyone.

    The stories are too many to list here, but it has been really quite bad. So there are two sides to this issue, and you Americans really need to wake up to it.

    If you want to educate yourself on it, read Canada’s national newspaper at

    http://www.nationalpost.com

    • The Seeker says:

      The reason I mention waking up to it is that most Americans are unaware that a lot of these issues float back and forth across the border we share.

      Our lawyers, judges and legal professionals read the same magazines, share conferences, read one anothers judgements, train in each other countries.

      A lot of the legal precedents set in Canada will soon enought make there way south.

    • The above comment contains some factual distortions. Steven Boissoin won on appeal in December of last year, and the member of the Human Rights board who had originally ruled against him, was kicked of the board. In the case of Scott Brockie, the courts ruled that he did have the right to refuse objectionable material.

      As for the National Post… It’s circulation ranks number 9 in Canada, barely half of Canada’s “other” national paper, The Globe and Mail.

      Here is the press release from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada who had intervenor status in the Scott Brockie case:

      The Ontario Divisional Court has granted a right to freedom of conscience for business owners in the controversial case of Brillinger v. Brockie.

      “This is the first time this kind of right of freedom of conscience or religion has been recognized for business owners under human rights codes,” says Janet Epp Buckingham, general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, an intervener in the case. “This is a significant step forward for religious freedom in Canada,” continues Buckingham.

      The case arose when Toronto printer Scott Brockie, owner of Imaging Excellence refused to print letterhead and business cards for The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (Archives) on the basis that the cause of homosexuality was offensive to his religious beliefs. Ray Brillinger, of Archives, filed a human rights complaint under the Ontario Human Rights Code alleging that Mr. Brockie discriminated against him on the basis of his sexual orientation. A Board of Inquiry appointed under the Ontario Human Rights Code found that Mr. Brockie did discriminate and fined him. Mr. Brockie appealed to the Ontario Divisional Court on the basis that the decision infringes his freedom of religion and conscience.

      The Ontario Division Court ruled that the Board of Inquiry decision is overly broad. Mr. Brockie has a right to refuse to print material that infringes his conscience or religion. However, he does not have the right to refuse to print material for an organization whose mandate infringes his conscience or religion. Unfortunately, Mr. Brockie is not able to make use of this “right of freedom of conscience or religion” in this case.

      The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada intervened as part of the Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance (CRFA), which also included the Catholic Civil Rights League and Christian Legal Fellowship. The CRFA intervened in this case to argue that the right to freedom of religion and conscience, as guaranteed in section 2(a) of the Charter, must be recognized in the Ontario Human Rights Code.

      The Court ruled, “The objectives under the anti-discrimination provisions of the Code must be balanced against Mr. Brockie’s right to freedom of religion and conscience.”

      The Court gave examples of materials that it would agree infringed Mr. Brockie’s religious conscience, “If any particular printing project ordered by Mr. Brockie (or any gay or lesbian person, or organization/entity comprising gay or lesbian persons) contained material that conveyed a message proselytizing and promoting the gay and lesbian lifestyle or ridiculed his religious beliefs, such material might reasonably be held to be in direct conflict with the core elements of Mr. Brockie’s religious beliefs.”

      • Well, at least this sounds a bit more like the situation in the Netherlands where no one dares say anything against GLBT ppl for fear of being ostracized by society or at times for facing a law suit.
        Michael I agree we shouldn’t exaggerate the situation yet I understand you Seeker.. it IS the other way round.
        I find it tragic that it’s always about power: either the american ‘right wing’ takes away human rights from LGBT ppl in many states in the USA or a GLBT lobby supported by the ‘left wing’ or ‘leftist church’ as we say in dutch does everything to bulldozer all resistance and introduce gay marriage.
        At times I fear that with all those nice evangelicals being so understanding of GLBT ppl in the States, it will lead to the same thing happening as in Canada or the Netherlands.
        I am not too sure that is a good alternative.

        • ahumanoid says:

          “At times I fear that with all those nice evangelicals being so understanding of GLBT ppl in the States, it will lead to the same thing happening as in Canada or the Netherlands.”

          I hope I’m missing the sarcasm.

          • This entire conversation now deeply saddens me. I do not think it is unloving to lovingly uphold biblical truth and it is no sign of love toward GLBT people to act as if it’s all just fine.
            Seen the direction internetmonk is taking I simply decide to leave this blog and focus on better things that are more godly.
            All of this just makes me want to cry…

            • Hans, with all due respect, Internet Monk is NOT “taking a direction” here.

              We are having a discussion. This discussion involves people with various viewpoints. As authors, we know right from the beginning when we raise a subject like this that everyone involved will not all agree, but we think it is worthwhile to have a conversation. No matter what convictions a person may hold regarding a controversial issue, we believe it is important for us all to humbly listen to others and respect their views. It is an integral part of loving our neighbors and one another.

              I hope you will continue to participate.

      • The Seeker says:

        Are you saying the decision with Scott Brockie was reversed? I hope so, but that does not help for the thousands he spend defending himself. In about 2003 I heard it from his own lips that he was already $40,000 out of pocket and was fighting it. He said at one point when him and his father were sitting in the board of inquiry room looking at all the fine oak furniture and lawyers that his father turned to him and remarked that they were the only 2 in the room that were not being financed by the government.

        And the case of Stephen Boissoin,again, huge out of pocket costs than can bankrupt a young man, all because he dared to right a strong letter to his newspaper. I told him I thought the letter was strong and I would not word it that way. He basically said I was not there so should not judge.

        And then there is the case of Delwyn Freund in Alberta who worked as a TA for a Christian college where he had to sign a code of conduct. And when he started to be openly gay they dismissed him. His complaint to the Human rights commission brought an order that the school had to reinstate him.

        And then in Vancouver recently the lady who went to work temporarily for a private Catholic school and then asked for maternity leave (she was not pregnant, her wife was). When the parents found out about her lifestyle they objected. She was not fired, but put on reassigned duties. So she went shouting to the press about it. I have not heard the outcome.

        My point is that this systematic harassment of Christians is going on in Canada. Interestingly enough one of the only people doing anything about it is a Jewish lawyer. The man’s name is Ezra Levant (you will find him on Amazon)

        BTW, the National Post may be smaller than the Globe and Mail, but it is much more varied in the viewpoints presented, there is something to tick off everyone left, centre and right. They publish some interesting attacks on Christianity (and allow some defense). They allow Christopher Hitchens to write, but also a Catholic priest, so there is some good debate.

        The Globe and Mail is good as well, but is somewhat left of centre and rarely publishes contrarian viewpoints, but pretty well sticks with the Toronto viewpoint.
        Toronto is Canada’s largest city and seems to operate under the assumption that the world stops at city limits.

        So Michael, thanks for the correction, but it is as bad as it sounds

        • Hi Seeker,

          I do not disagree with you as to the experiences that you talk about. There are those in Canada who wish to repress Christianity. In fact, one of the first pieces that I contributed to this website made that same point.

          I am familiar with Ezra Levant. I drop in on his website from time to time and have sympathy with his positions. There is an issue with the quasi-judicial human rights boards in this country, but their poor rulings have consistently been overturned by the courts.

          The Scott Brokie decision was not reversed, but as noted above, “Mr. Brockie has a right to refuse to print material that infringes his conscience or religion. However, he does not have the right to refuse to print material for an organization whose mandate infringes his conscience or religion. Unfortunately, Mr. Brockie is not able to make use of this “right of freedom of conscience or religion” in this case.”

          The whole financial aspect of this needs to be looked at, because of the very valid points that you raise.

          The fact is though, there have been a handful of cases in the past 10 years. The majority of which have been settled in favour of the Christian, and now we have significant precedent established by the Supreme court for future reference. I do not see it as systematic persecution.

          As to the Globe and Mail being left of center… Not in my books. But I do agree with the city limits quote. By the way, I live in Ontario, but have lived in Saskatchewan as well.

  23. Is homosexuality the root of the problem or is it focus?
    Is Satan once again attempting to defocus us?
    It seems to me that if we focus on the problem then the problem increases. If we focus on the solution then the solution increases.
    What is the only solution to the challenges of being born human?
    I bet you know!
    That’s right – Jesus Christ.
    Who were His most committed followers?
    Were they the holy folks of the day?
    Nope!
    Were they the religious right or left?
    Nope!
    Were they the whores, poor beggars, blind, sick, deaf, dumb, and maybe even people with lots of sexual struggles?
    Yep!
    We all have sexual problems – I certainly have my share. I am confronted with lust nearly every day. I believe most humans do or have faced a sexual challenge in their walk on planet earth.
    What was it about Jesus that drew these troubled humans to Him?
    What draws you to Him?
    I believe His magnetic power resides at the heart of the words He used to describe Himself in the Scriptures. God is Love. God is Light.
    As we walk with Him on these paths and lift Him up we will be healed and used by Him for His purposes.
    Let us keep our focus on Him.
    Can we change someone else?
    No!
    Can we be a loving light in a world of darkness?
    Oh yea!
    Help us Lord. We wish to become more beautiful reflections of Your precious Love-Light.

    • Here’s the deal with so-called “lust”:

      God’s first blessing (or command, if you will), per the order of the Scriptures, to the humans He created was to be fruitful and multiply. He endowed them with the hormones and physical attributes to make them physically attractive to each other and wanting to mate with each other.

      The OT commandment not to covet (same word as “lust”) was against coveting another man’s WIFE. She belonged to him. It was wrong to want to take another person’s belongings, including his spouse. Note that the commandment is next to the other “do not covet another person’s etc. etc.” commandment.

      The OT commandment against adultery also has to be understood in light of the fact that it was the woman’s marital status that determined whether adultery was involved. For a man, whether married or not, to have sex with another’s betrothed or spouse was to commit adultery. If the women he was having sex with was not betrothed or married to another, it was not adultery even if he was married. See David Noel Freedman’s book The Nine Commandments or Donna Rosenthal’s book The Israelis for support for this.

      Now Jesus maybe extended adultery to include both a married man’s and a married woman’s acts. However, the Greek word for woman is the same as the word for wife, and because of the OT meaning of adultery, Jesus very likely meant “everyone who looks on a wife to lust for (covet) her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” It’s not wrong to be physically lusting for a member of the opposite sex. God made you that way so you would want to be fruitful and multiply. They’ve scientifically shown how pheromones and certain body shapes stimulate sexual interest.

      What’s wrong is for you to covet another’s spouse. She or he is not yours to have or take. Put a damper on your lust for another’s spouse and don’t worry about the sexual arousal an available person might cause you to feel. I’m not saying to engage in sex with that person outside of marriage, just saying that I don’t think Jesus is condemning the “be fruitful and multiply” instinct and urges that cause many to feel guilty for having because they may be misunderstanding Matthew 5:27-28.

  24. I’m coming late into the discussion, but I am wondering why you have not talked about repentance? I have had many gay friends and before I turned my life back to God, there was never any inkling or talks of homosexuality being wrong. When I decided to educate myself on the truth of Jesus, it was the first time I had seriously considered that. I had spent all my non-christian life loving them unconditionally and even exalting them. It was uncomfortable for me to now be told that their lifestyle was an abomination before God. It was perhaps my first re-introduction to recognizing sin. The fact is, homosexuality IS a sin. You must first truly see it as that. When I was completely honest with myself, I could not ignore the fact that many homosexuals did not have it in them to repent of something that is as natural to them as their pinky finger. Why repent of your pinky? God put it there, right? God doesn’t make mistakes, so homosexuality must not be one either? It makes sense to those young people that don’t have a theological foundation. God is confused, not them. So they turn away.

    • I have spent the majority of my adult life repenting of the sin of homosexuality. I’m same-sex attracted. I felt this was a fundamental expression of the wrongness in me, and I did everything I could think to be delivered from it, for years and years.

      All my repentance failed to produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Instead I was sinking into a pit of despair, trying not to feel, resigned to unanswered prayers.

      Eventually I decided that if my repentance was not producing the fruits of the Spirit in me, I must be on the wrong path. I found the faith to step out onto a path where I could accept my sexual orientation as a blessing rather than a curse.

      Love, joy, peace and the rest followed.

    • Addie, good point. I have said numerous times that I did not write the book (Bible). It is clear that homosexuality is a sin and that God (and Him alone) condemns those to hell that continues in this sin. Now if gay people want to attend my church and I hope they will, I hope that they will find some help with thier problem, get into right relationship with Jesus, and get their theology straightened out.

      • Buford Hollis says:

        Henry, maybe you didn’t write the Bible, but you sure as hell interpreted it (or gravitated to some church whose interpretation you accepted). How’s this for a rewrite:

        “The promptings of my conscience make clear that homophobia is morally wrong. Now if right-wing bigots want to attend my church, I hope that they will find some help with their problem, learn some compassion, and get their theology straightened out.”

      • Henry—And would you seek them out and invite them to your church? If they come would you be willing to take the lead in helping them? Will you befriend them in such a way that they will know you truly care about them? Will you be willing to sacrifice for them? Will you be patient with them as they deal with their struggles? Will you be willing to walk with them for a lifetime, if necessary, to show them Jesus’ love?

        It’s great to hold a position. It’s another thing to relate to people.

  25. George in AZ says:

    I know the Genesis story of Sodom and I know about Jude’s comments. But Ezekiel shared some of God’s observations concerning Sodom that should be considered:

    “As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.” 16.48-50

  26. One of my Facebook friends posted the following as his status some time ago: Either he discovered that his son was gay, or his son came out to him–anyway, the father disinherited his son, and the son is having nothing to do with the family. He ended with, if you love people, tell them the truth!

    More recently, a friend shared with the Bible study group I’m part of that their child is gay. In order to keep the lines of communication open, my friend has even gone to gay bars with their child.

    I’m NOT sure if *I* would wind up in a gay bar . . . but I ask you, which is the more Christlike response? Cutting off communication? Or trying to keep communication open?

    • I can only say that cutting off communication was clearly the wrong thing to do. I would go into a gay bar with a son if, for some reason, it really meant a lot to him . . . but I can’t imagine that it would.

      I had a full time Christian worker friend (staff of a parachurch organization) who found pot in his 16 year old son’s dresser. He threw his son out into the street with just a suitcase because the father had a “zero tolerance of sin” policy. His son ended up living in the garage of one of his buddies parents’ house. The boy was killed three weeks later in a car accident, ironically, in route to a church youth group function.

      The accident had nothing to do with the father throwing his son out, but the whole story (in my opinion) was tragic. The father though, felt like everything was according to God’s plan. That he, the father, had disciplined his son by throwing him out of the house. Then he believed that God knew that his son would not be able to resist temptation, so “God brought him home to be with Him.” It was sick.

      But now that I’m a parent, I couldn’t imagine dealing with something that way. The father above, in my humble opinion, had a screwed up perspective of sin and grace.

      • It makes me wonder if the father would have reacted so strongly had he not been a Christian. Clearly a little secular humanism was in order here, rather than religious-based morality. Perhaps a dash of post-modernism would have helped, rather than relying upon the absolute truth that sinners must be disowned.

        I wonder what God will say about being used as a principal actor in this tragedy.

  27. MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

    Why would our kids stay in church when they see so many in the church who clearly don’t believe what the Bibles says. Our actions say that the Bible is not a holy canon but a resource from which to cherry pick whatever suits or current desires/agenda.

    Hate gays? Yeah buddy!

    Give a rip about the poor? COMMUNISM!!!

    Then, don’t even get me started on things like adultery/divorce/remarriage/fornication within the church…. We think God’s going to wink and nod at that, but gays are going to hell? Pfft.

    It’s not a wonder the kids are leaving. It’s a wonder any of them stay.

    • You’re right. The cherry picking, is picking sins that OTHERs are doing . . . not those that I’m doing in my private world. Please . . . don’t even bring those up. Example: “Let’s go on a pro-family march on the state capital to ban same-sex marriage (while I beat the hell out of my wife in the privacy of the parsonage bedroom).”

  28. My thirty year old son asked me once what all of us Christians were doing that allowed for prayer to be taken out of school. My reply was to ask his grandfather since I was only six years old. My point is that if good people do not speak up….well the devil runs free. If God calls something sin then I will agree with Him, whether the sin is in me or someone else. Sorry, I did not write the Bible…. By thw way, I do not have the wherewithall to condemn anyone. I’m not God. An illustration: as a male I don’t have the wherewithall to give birth to a baby. So because I agree with the scriptures please do not say that I condemn.

  29. Well, here I am way at the bottom where no one will ever read what I post. But, oh, well.
    I just asked my 19 year old college student daughter if she thought young adults left the church because of church’s stands against homosexuals. She said she did not think that was the case at all. She thinks it is because many young adults do not agree with the leadership or get along with them and feel like they have no way to make their voices heard. Young adults are not treated as adult members of the church.

    • I read your post, Kathy 😀

      I would also agree with your daughter in saying that we young adults do not feel we can voice our thoughts. That is not to say everything we say is good; rather, it would seem that you’re not really an “adult member” of the church until [enter age here].

      This frustrated me at my old church a lot- I was confirmed, and therefore “considered” a full member of the church. However, I wasn’t let into any meetings, and the only “meeting” I could get into was the “Youth Board”. I was always confused when they would say “Oh, you can sit in on meetings and say your piece, but you can’t actually vote on anything of importance”. Seemed like a contradiction to me, being a “full” member without “full” rights.

  30. “I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree” said Whitman.

    I think that I shall never see a church that demonstrates Christ’s love for me.

    Could not an excellent case be made that the Spirit has appointed Christ’s followers to be dispensers of His love and grace to all people? Why do so many imagine themselves sin inspectors instead? Who appointed them?

    I stood with a minority couple outside the door of the church after services. Only I stood with them. The Christian club was mobbing a new couple that the club had just discovered were both doctors, with presumably good incomes and high social status. The two previous Sundays that couple had also been ignored, until their true status had been ascertained.

    The rules for inclusion were not be be found in the bulletin or on the church web site. Nor were they mentioned in the new members’ class. Nor were they to be found in the church Bylaws.

    But I knew those rules excluded people from the wrong neighborhood, from the wrong social status, from the wrong economic status, from the wrong sexual orientation, and those who believed in the equality of men and women.

    Somehow it irked them that I flaunted their rules and cared not a bit whether or not I belonged to their club.

    Their stand on any one particular issue, such as homosexuality, was not why I left. There was a vast a varied panoply of reasons, which I might best sum up as “These people have formed some sort of social group disguised as religion that excludes everyone they don’t like. Occasionally someone could buy their way into the group. I’m not interested, even if admission is free.”

    My “punishment”? When I e-mailed the pastor that we would no longer be attending, we were removed that day from all communications with the group. When we crossed their path in the grocery store, we were invisible.

    When the money is gone and they can no longer pay for their multimillion dollar property and multiple staff positions, that inner circle will still get together for parties. They will still meet at Starbucks. Perhaps they will give the barista a Bible tract.

    How long will it take them to figure out that they are the ones standing alone by the door and not even I am there to stand with them?

  31. J.Random,
    I am often confused as to what repentance should do in different circumstances. I was refering to humbling yourself before the Lord. Homosexuality is definitely a “tricky” sin because it asks one to attempt to change from an apple to an orange. That is why I placed my post with an emphasis on repentance. I don’t think God wants you to become worse off than when you first repented, ESPECIALLY if it means becoming separated from our loving Father that just wants you to know him. When complete obedience is just not possible without becoming a basket-case, you can at least continue to (like we all should) admit we are broken. In His own good time (or not) He will do the rest. Let the Holy Spirit fill you. Sometimes, God uses our sins to teach us very important lessons that we could not otherwise learn if we weren’t in a certain condition. Listen and learn from the Lord, I say! We are ALL guilty of sin. Do your best and God will answer your prayers as he sees fit!

    • If what you are saying is – change happens over time as we humbly surrender ourselves to God’s transforming power (too many try to change on their own power) through an attitude of repentance – then yes I agree because the “basket case mentality” is created by our own striving to change – it just doesn’t work!!

      Yes, God does use sin to teach us very important lessons, but WHY not let him teach you lessons through his word and relationship with him? Avoid the pain … ;-(

      Great comments…