December 17, 2017

Chaplain Mike’s “Agenda”

In the comments on yesterday’s post, some of you questioned my motives and my “agenda” for discussing Bible verses that directly address the subject of homosexuality. Well, let me lay it out plainly for you.

To be perfectly honest, this is not something I would prefer to talk about. It has never been an issue I’ve considered deeply or had to deal with much on a personal, social, or pastoral level over the course of my journey. Like most everyone else, I have known gay friends, neighbors, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances, but we’ve never had in-depth conversations about sexuality. For most of my life gay rights wasn’t a culture war issue that had any strong resonance in the communities in which I lived, at least not in the way it has today. I’ve counseled individuals and couples with a variety of sexual questions and concerns, but never with regard to homosexuality or same sex attraction. I have had more exposure to GLBT communities as a chaplain, I’ve ministered to gay patients and their friends representing a variety of lifestyles: I’ve prayed and worked and taken communion with gay pastors and church members, I’ve wept with homosexual men and women who were mourning the loss of life partners, and I’ve served in the homes of gay patients who were thoroughly invested in immoral patterns of life. However, my experience is still slight.

Frankly, I must admit that the amount of time I have spent thinking about homosexuality and related matters has been miniscule. Gay issues have not affected me personally to any great degree. And homosexuality is not a “hot button” issue for me — never has been.

However, in ministry, we don’t always get to choose our issues, and this issue is front and center these days. As a candidate in the ordination process of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), one area of inquiry I think I should be prepared to discuss is this whole homosexuality debate. My denomination provoked a lot of controversy a few years ago by deciding to deal with the issue the way they did. Though I’d prefer not to have to devote time and energy to studying or discussing this right now, it’s what’s on the current ecclesiastical agenda for ministerial comment.

All of that probably sounds cold and uncaring to a number of our GLBT readers, because this is personal to you. Too many of you have been seriously wounded by churches and Christians who have not welcomed you, tried to understand you, or shown you the character of Jesus in the way they’ve treated you. The Gospel as you’ve heard it has not been good news for you. You have been making your voices resound in unprecedented ways in recent years, and people like me have been deaf or not paying attention. You see your situation as the arena for one of today’s primary struggles for justice and civil rights. If it’s possible that I am going to reenter parish ministry in today’s world, perhaps it’s time for me to clarify my thinking so that I can serve you better.

And then there is this: If the steady stream of studies coming out these days is any indication, the ways in which we think and talk about sexuality, especially homosexuality, is a significant concern for the young people among us. Rachel Held Evans’s recent post “How to Win a Culture War and Lose a Generation” is a good example of the kind of pushback that Christians, churches, denominations, and Christian organizations today are getting from the upcoming generations with regard to GLBT concerns. She cites David Kinnaman, who wrote,

The gay issue has become the ‘big one,’ the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimension that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgmental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays…has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”

As a Christian, and as someone who may one day be back in parish ministry, announcing the Gospel to a multi-generational community, I can’t ignore that. I had better be able to talk about these matters with love and integrity.

That is why I decided to join the discussion Jeff began last week by writing some posts of my own.

In doing so, I’m not starting from ground zero but from thirty-five years of studying the Bible as a Christian. Nor am I stepping forward to announce that I’ve received some new epiphany giving insight into these matters. My personal views on sexual morality have been and remain consistently conservative, and I haven’t “drifted” toward libertinism. Commenters on this blog have even accused me of being prudish when it comes to talking about sexual matters.

These days, too many people are suspicious when you start to talk about contentious issues like homosexuality. They think you must have hidden motives, that you represent a “side,” that you are going to try and twist the Bible to make it say whatever supports your personal or political agenda. But I believe there is a host of people out there like me, who are being drawn into this discussion because we sincerely want to know how to live and speak the Gospel in this cultural moment. We want to know how to love God and love our neighbors in the real world, not some imaginary world of “positions.” We want to serve the church so that she lives up to her calling to lift up Jesus and look like Jesus. We want to serve the world so that they know there’s a place at the table for all who are hungry.

And that, folks, is my agenda.

Comments

  1. HOW DARE YOU seek to know God’s will and how to minister grace instead of adopting a pre-packaged political agenda! Indeed, HOW DARE YOU, SIR!

    In all seriousness, I look forward to seeing how this week’s posts on this subject play out. Though I’ll probably avoid reading the comments sections …

    • I hate to admit it, but I also woll avoid reading the comment section.

      I know I will continue to read anything Chaplin Mike writes i this subject, not because I might agree with him but because I want to “walk with him on his journey” and perhaps learrn form him and leray for him.

      I see his so called agenda -why has agenda become a “cuese word “? – what he wants to acheive, and it seems all it can do is bear good fruit, ans so I thank his in advance.

      But I won’t read the comments because “I” am tired of hurt, slandered, judged, and told not to just “got to the back of the bus”, but to lie under the wheels.

      • {But I won’t read the comments because “I” am tired of hurt, slandered, judged, and told not to just “got to the back of the bus”, but to lie under the wheels.}

        Ninure da Hippie , i realize you may never see this given you won’t be reading the comments, nonetheless my heart cannot withold from posting this. Though my life’s journey and yours may differ in many ways, the first part of your last statement is one I could have taken as my own at different times in my life. The last phrase, however, hit my heart and soul so deeply with so much pain…. (but to lie under the wheels). I hurt with you and for you. I am holding you in the arms of my heart {{{{{{{{Ninure da Hippie }}}}}}}}}
        May Jesus, who Alone Knows the depths of your being bring you to dwell in His peace and to Know His Loving Embrace.

    • I completely understand where you’re coming from. Can of worms indeed. However, it must be said, even on divisive and controversial issues (and a fortiori on everything else), IMonk has better comments and commenters than anywhere else on the web I can think of.

  2. Mike, what was most helpful to me was your post late in the afternoon reminding us this was the *start* of the conversation. “…this is not the end of the discussion. Patience, we’ll get there.”
    I know it took saying that 20 different times and ways of asking us to limit the discussion for this initial post, but I believe you when you say you have no agenda.

  3. That is the standard line from the ELCA, but it’s a much larger issue. It goes back to how the ELCA views Scripture. The ELCA has adopted historical critical methods of interpreting Scripture, which opens up everything in Scripture to debate and speculation, and undercuts any truth-claims regarding Christ and his teachings.

    The old ELCA website used to have a section explaining that one didn’t really need to believe in a historical resurrection, virgin birth, Adam and Eve, or the devil, and the church allows for diverse views on abortion and homosexuality. It also de-gendered God, and many ELCA churches perform invalid baptisms by using the names “Creator-Redeemer-Sanctifier,” so as to avoid gendered references to “Father” and “Son.”

    How does the church operate as a church when people make up whatever goofy thing they want to believe about Scripture, and bend it into whatever shape they want to fit their cultural or philosophical agenda? There’s no assurance in that; it’s just another type of wilderness.

    • The spirit of frustration can often be confused with the spirit of anger, especially on the interwebs. If you are frustrated then I agree with you, but your tone takes a more hostel turn to it which may not help your point.

    • Boaz, with all due respect, that’s one of the worst straw-man comments I’ve ever received.

      • Chaplain Mike, please elaborate rather than being abruptly dismissive. How is Boaz’s comment about facts pertaining to the ELCA, a group with whom you have aligned yourself, a “straw man”? I don’t understand what you are saying. It sounds a great deal like “My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts” — a position admittedly found on both sides of the issue.

        • An example of a straw man argument is when you fail to deal with the actual subject as expressed by a person. Instead you focus on a group he or she is aligned with, make assertions about that group (which may or may not be true), and assign all the characteristics that you don’t like about that group to the person you’re criticizing.

          My involvement with the ELCA has never had anything to do with the subject of homosexuality and I’ve made that abundantly clear on this site. The things being criticized in the comment above have nothing to do with the subject of the post, which is solely about my personal views.

          What I have said here has nothing to do with the ELCA and would be said no matter what group I was aligned with.

  4. Chaplin Mike…

    Looking at the clock in the kitchen it’s 2:20 and I should be in bed. I am not…why? Becuase I love to check your posts, and read your insight. I really love this blog. I do. reading it each day is an educational experience. You have some profound insight and warmth, along with curtesy which I admire. In regards to your work as a Chaplin I think there can be no better person for it than yourself.

    Here at I Monk and through an email here and there, you’ve shown me a lot of love, grace, and compassion. I admire that.. I also love how you say what you say. You get me to think, you challenge, and it gets my nerve cells clicking. You are not Michael Spencer… But that’s okay. You hold up well and you do a good job at it. You and Jeff and others have carried this blog forward. And some of the posts I’ve read these past few years are classic. While Michael Spencer is known for the concept of “Wreteched Urgency” from my perspective you’re known for the concept of “The Disneyization of Faith..” I think that was the best essay you ever wrote. Straight, and to the point. I loved it.

    When I saw what some people said yesterday I cringed. Why? Becuase you have shown so many here….myself included a lot of love and grace. You are your own person and do not let others detract. I appreciated the article you wrote as it gave me a lot to think.

    But hang in there, and don’t let the naysayers confront “your agenda.” There’s nothing you need to apologize for or explain. I understood what you were saying yesterday. And if the Hypers get wind of you and you need a place of refuge…I’ll open up my condo and you take blog from here!! 😀 Just don’t ask to attend Mark Dever’s Church 😯

    • When I read the un-moderated comments, I saw a lot of names I didn’t recognize spewing a ton of venom, as well as some finger-pointing from people who are here fairly regularly.

      CM, I think whenever we discuss homosexuality, we must get linked to all sorts of searches that send us, for lack of a better term, “Non-I-Monks” who are only here to argue this one issue.

      Also, understanding your pastorial struggles helps me understand your need to wrestle with this.

      Like you, I have known and been a nurse to many homosexuals “in reall life” and feel for them as humans equally loved by God. From a Christian perspective, I don’t need to look any farther than my Church and 2000 years of teaching to know that what was a aberration from God’s plan…..still is. There are probably as many critques of the Catholic Church as there are stars in the sky, but changing with the whims or norms of a culture is NOT one of them.

      And remember, as you work through this yourself, noli illegitimi carborundum!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        CM, I think whenever we discuss homosexuality, we must get linked to all sorts of searches that send us, for lack of a better term, “Non-I-Monks” who are only here to argue this one issue.

        And it IS (in the words of Malcolm X) an “Automatic Bright Red Murder Flag” for a lot of people.

  5. But I believe there is a host of people out there like me, who are being drawn into this discussion because we sincerely want to know how to live and speak the Gospel in this cultural moment. We want to know how to love God and love our neighbors in the real world, not some imaginary world of “positions.” We want to serve the church so that she lives up to her calling to lift up Jesus and look like Jesus. We want to serve the world so that they know there’s a place at the table for all who are hungry.

    Not to get all Jonathan Fisk but you can’t speak the Gospel without acknowledging the Law. I don’t think we need to beat people in the head with it but siding with those who reject God’s moral standards cannot be a real option. This is who the ELCA is or is becoming. I know for you its more about your local parish but it just feels wrong.

    I guess this is the point of the wilderness. I cannot keep communion with those who ignore the call to holiness (or obedience to the law) but I cannot stand with those who ignore the call to grace and compassion. This is why we are here Mike, we are misfits who don’t fit in either the left or the right. I don’t accuse you of having an agenda but rather it appears you are doing what so many of our friends are doing…losing the balance of grace vs truth. Some say to fault toward grace is the better option but it’s not, its just as destructive as legalism. Grace means nothing without the Law. You cannot have be a minister of grace with confessing (proclaiming) what sin is.

    • Honest question. How does grace mean nothing without the law.

      • Tim Heebner says:

        John MacArthur came to speak at my old church once, and one thing he said just blew my mind in disbelief. He said you have to preach the law before you can preach grace.

        Grace does not need the law for it to have its power. Saying that the law needs preached prior to preaching grace is putting grace and law on the same playing field, when in actuality, grace is like being flushed from the matrix – a life in grace is a totally different reality.

        To me, we have to realize this prior to even beginning to discuss homosexual issues.

        • I heard something similar at the mega fundagelical church (McLean Bible) I used to frequent. The pastor was like..”I know you want to hear about grace, talk about grace, etc… But we’re not going to talk about grace until you know how wretched you are…” I sat there in the seat…thinking of all my faults, mistakes, demons, everything else… and I felt sick. It was like dangling a carrot in front of someone only to tease them. But I knew where I stood, why they had to be so anal is beyond me. But that’s classic fundagelicalism.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            i.e. Utter Depravity and the Beatdown Sermon.

            This might have a point when preaching to someone who’s so full of himself that he sees Utter Perfection every time he looks in the mirror, but it has the opposite effect on someone who HAS been beaten down hard in the past.

            Or maybe Beatdown preachers just like to beat up and bully their inferiors and this is a Godly (TM) way to indulge that.

        • BTW…after reading Philip Yancey I became convinced that evangelicals do not know what grace is. Many like the law becuase it allows them to compare themself to each other, to others, etc.. After reading Yancey I really hunger for grace yet I’m confused as to why after almost 10 years in evangelicalism…it was so elusive.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Many like the law becuase it allows them to compare themself to each other, to others, etc.

            i.e. It allows them to play One-Upmanship games on everyone else.

    • Pastor Brendan, appreciate your comment, but please: this post is about me, not about the ELCA.

    • Phil M. says:

      Regarding the issue of proclaiming what sin is, I guess I’d ask to what degree must we point out the sins of others? Certainly a pastor can’t touch on every issue that everyone in the congregation is dealing with on any given Sunday, so there will always be some who could say they have gotten a pass that week. To what degree do we rely on ourselves to declare certain things sinful, and to what extent do we depend on the Holy Spirit to convict people? I’ve got to say that in all my years in the church and in ministry, I can think of very few times where someone said they realized they were in the wrong because a pastor, or even a friend, told them so. However, I can think of a lot of times where people have said they knew what they were doing was wrong because the Holy Spirit convicted them.

      • 1. I wasn’t aware we were relying on pastors to tell us what sin was.

        2. It just seems weird to me that we have to all really agree on if LGBT people should get married before we move on to grace.

    • A little bit of law? Doesn’t that leaven the lump?

  6. Adrian Z says:

    Chaplin Mike

    Both sad and happy about this post – sad that you had to write it, and happy that you did.

    Keeping the spirit of Michael Spencer’s journey alive here is a blessing. Eagle’s comment that you are not Michael Spencer is so true and so important. You bring you, and the honesty in that continues the legacy

    Thank you

  7. Chris from Oz says:

    Thanks Mike for your honesty, as a Pastor for more than 30 years this is a subject that I have not had to deal with as much as in recent years. One of the reasons I am being drawn into the debate is that the younger generation do not have the black and white attitude to this subject that their elders did.
    To simply say the Bible doesn’t accept it does not work and it is something that needs to be grappled with. Coming from a conservative background means that changing my understanding of scripture takes some time and I’m not sure I can do that just yet. But how to minister to a younger generation that is asking honest questions.

    • humanslug says:

      By giving honest answers — even if it means fessing up to the truth that you’re not 100 percent sure about something … or not quite as sure as you once were. An expression of honest uncertainty is a great way to strike up a meaningful conversation with young people. They’ll be glad to hear anything except the pat, party-line, preapproved-for-official-press-release answers they tend to get from the adult world.

  8. Love has always been the most radical of agendas.

    • …and always the most impossible to pin down.

      • Really, you have problems identifying love? You may need to find someone who is good at it, and rely on them.

        • I already have that person in my life, I married her precisely for that reason. But anyone can identify love, or rightly label some actions as “loving”. Defining it specifically is much more difficult. Love doesn’t fall within anyone’s boundaries, rather it transcends them all and challenges us to be considerate in ways we never considered before (like you said, radical). You aren’t seriously suggesting there are nor grey areas in life, when it comes to the expression of love, are you?

          • Love shares the qualities of being impossible to define specifically, and having grey areas, with almost every other thing. I think, in the matter of love, this is neither more difficult than with most things, nor is it a common source of confusion.

  9. ‘I believe there is a host of people out there like me, who are being drawn into this discussion because we sincerely want to know how to live and speak the Gospel in this cultural moment.’
    You speak for me when you wrote the above. Yesterday’s post was spot on and I know it won’t be the end of the discussion. Thank you for addressing this issue and standing firm on the way it needs to be discussed.

  10. Mike,

    I found imonk back when Michael Spencer was alive & this community changed my life by letting me know I was not alone. I wept hard after receiving his book, over & over, for that same reason.

    This community continues to thrive because of the work you & others do. It remains a safe haven in the storm of life. A place where I can come to refresh myself from my work as a hospice on-call RN and believer. The daily emails with a hot cup o’ joe, are my AM routine and helps get me to thinking and find peace.

    Although I would label myself a conservative, I have long suspected that there was far more to understanding Scripture than what the Church generally acknowledged. Change is rarely fun or easy. Realizing that how things have been in the past may not be right can be embarrassing for believers.

    And grace makes religious people terribly uncomfortable, especially for those who find their business as a Christian is to stop sin rather than disciple.

    I worked with a male RN who was a former charismatic worship leader, who had been badly wounded burt Church people. He told me I was the “first Christian who didn’t tell him he was demon possessed!” He was and is a great nurse and one of the kindest, most open and honest people I have ever known. And working with him allowed me to see the Church as the instrument of pain, NOT conviction, that he had encountered.

    I want to thank you for being honest with your examination of the issue at large & the specific scriptures. It is obvious that your “agenda” is exactly as you have described in this post. And that is a wonderful, wonderful thing!

    The vileness of some of the responses to the 1st examination of scripture is textbook, knee-jerk reaction by some who just refuse to go beyond their comfort zones to even give consideration that maybe we dont know everything. And maybe some of what we “know” is wrong…or maybe it isn’t.

    One thing for sure is that our approach to people, as a Church at large, continues to desperately need to change as what is in place now is NOT working to reach the lost or serve to disciple believers. THANK YOU for helping show how we can make things better without compromising our faith.

    You “get” get grace and I know that makes for uncomfortable comments from believers. But I NEED grace as I KNOW how fallen I am. Grace is scandalous and wonderfully so!

  11. Ten years here as a Hospice nurse…..thanks for you turn in carrying the torch!

    I have said before that in all that time, and hundreds of deaths, all but one person died with a look of joy and rapture and recognition, and many had angels or relatives taking them “home”. BUT….the one EXCEPTION convince me that if a human cuts themselves off from the love of God and others and refuses to look for grace or the last chance on earth to grow…..it ain’t pretty. Never want to see that look of horror again, or go where he went!

  12. “We want to serve the church so that she lives up to her calling to lift up Jesus and look like Jesus. We want to serve the world so that they know there’s a place at the table for all who are hungry.

    And that, folks, is my agenda.”

    CM, we are on the same page. This is such a challenging question, one I wish I didn’t have to deal with either. As a part of the ACNA, and now attending the UMC, it’s one that can’t be swept under the rug, though. Thanks for your eloquent thoughts.

  13. Phil M. says:

    I, for one, appreciate the transparency. I can relate with a lot of this. Other than a few discussions online over the years, this issue isn’t one I’ve dealt with all that much. Honestly, when I see it debated elsewhere, I tend to stay out of the debate.

    Here’s where I’m at now, though. I think a good case can be made that the highest “Biblical” ideal for the expression of sexuality is one man and one woman in marriage. Jesus also said that some choose to be Eunuchs, or celibate, for the sake of the kingdom. So, there you go, those are the rules for everyone – the only way sex is ordained by God as good is in the context of marriage.

    Here’s where I get hung up on things, though. As a straight man, I know that I have an outlet to deal with my sexual urges, and that’s through getting married. However, if I were someone who grew up with attraction to someone of the same sex, I’m basically told that the only choices I have to walk in God’s path me is to somehow force myself to be straight or to be celibate for my entire life. Those don’t seem like very good choices to me. There seems to be an inherent unfairness there to me. It’s like take someone with multiple food allergies to a buffet and telling them to eat up. Meanwhile, the person knows there’s only one thing they can eat off the buffet without getting sick. So even though we tell the person they have options, they really have none.

    And when it comes to the spiritual disciplines, it seems to me that forcing one another to live them out isn’t how they’re supposed to work. I can’t, for example, force someone to pray for a certain period of time. It won’t work. But there’s a whole lot of Christians who seem to be wanting to force celibacy, which is a spiritual discipline, onto another group of Christians. In the long run, I question if that’s the best way to approach the issue.

    So that’s my feeling. I don’t think I’m a liberal, but I also don’t think I have it all figured out.

    • The spiritual fruit of self-control is required by everyone when it comes to limiting ourselves at the “sexual buffet,” not just homosexuals. I don’t know of any man who was born to be naturally monogamous. Face it, even for the heterosexual guy who marries a beauty queen; 30 years, 30 pounds, and three kids later it has to be about more than physical attraction. So at the very start of this discussion, let’s get rid of the idea that it is primarily about what makes us happy, how we are wired, etc. I’ve recently seen too many of my contemporaries use that sort of BS reasoning to leave their wives and families for something more exciting.

      It has to be exclusively about, “what does God say?” Because whatever He says, that is what is going to be best for us, His Church, and His creation.

      • Phil M. says:

        I don’t believe I said it’s primarily about what makes us happy. What Im saying is that it’s easy for someone who does have an “escape valve”, if you will, to tell others in a different situation that they have no other way out. Im not even saying I disagree with that sentiment, necessarily. All I’m saying is that there is a stunning lack of empathy on this issue.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That anything like the pastor who married at 19 and already has a quiverfull of kids lecturing the 40-year-old single about singleness and abstinence uber alles?

        • Ichabod says:

          Right. I find much of the criticism coming from those unable to sniff the unmistakable odor of their own idolatry. I mean any number of preachers equating Christian sex with Gospel proclamation. So many are preoccupied with their own sex tropes, and without mentioning names, it begins to sound like a modern-day phallic cult. Oh Lord, please come and draw in the sand for these people.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            So many are preoccupied with their own sex tropes, and without mentioning names, it begins to sound like a modern-day phallic cult.

            Why am I thinking of a pudgy MMA cage fight fanboy from Seattle with a kewpie faux-hawk and a Mickey Mouse T-shirt?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            P.S. I have long claimed that Christians are just as screwed-up sexually as everyone else these days, just in a completely-different direction.

      • J.Random says:

        Let’s also get rid of the idea that it has *nothing* to do with what makes us happy, how we are wired, etc. That’s simply the opposite error.

    • Danielle says:

      This nicely sums up my own uneasiness when celibacy is made “the solution” for all persons with same-sex desire. It makes complete sense to me that some homosexual persons are called to celibacy, just as some heterosexual persons are. Or that they are not called, but may choose it out of personal preference or life necessity.

      But saying that all homosexual persons are meant to be celibate is about as mad as saying that all heterosexuals who desire to draw closer to God must immediately embrace celibacy. Think of the damage such a doctrine would cause. The experiment would be over in short order, when the fruits became evident.

      Also, there’s something disingenuous about people for whom at least some expression of their sexuality is accepted telling other people just to get over their sexual problems by renouncing their desire for intimacy altogether. It’s a little like someone with a sound mind and a sunny disposition telling someone with chronic depression to look on the bright side and pray more often. The suggestion is either adorable or worthy of a slap across the face. And in fact, it’s worse, because unlike the depressed person—who likely has a known dysfunction of the brain—it is very unclear, and in fact unlikely, that a person’s sexuality can ever be compared to a mere mental condition. It is an aspect of personhood. It runs deeper. So employing a language of “fixing” is far more problematic. You are, in point of fact, asking someone to take their inherent desire for not only sex acts but also the mental, spiritual, and social intimacy that can accompany marriage (or other relationship beyond ‘hooking up’) and say it doesn’t really matter to them and they don’t have a right to it – even though contemporary evangelicals and many Roman Catholics are eager to tell hetereosexuals they ought to celebrate this aspect of themselves and integrate it into their spiritual and worldly lives, even to the point that I suspect marriage has consequently been subjected to a set of standards to which it rarely lives up.

      This is why I am fairly content to question the morality of promiscuous sex, despite the common (and perhaps “natural”) desire of people for it. As the comment above points out, some things we commonly want aren’t necessarily good. But when someone wants to establish a committed sexual relationship to someone else, along with the commitment, vulnerability, and self-sacrifice that entails, it’s not so clear to me that they aren’t wishing for one of the most important—messy, but important—human experiences in the world. I hesitate to deny that, not because I believe people have a “right” to pleasure, but because people have a right and a divine calling to be human in the fullest sense that they can.

      I understand that there are assumptions in the paragraphs above that no everyone shares, so I understand why some disagree with my conclusion. I’m merely saying that this is how I see things, at this time.

      • it is very unclear, and in fact unlikely, that a person’s sexuality can ever be compared to a mere mental condition. It is an aspect of personhood. It runs deeper.

        I realize that this is going to come across very emphatic, but it is such an important point. The above quote cannot be true. There are forms of sexuality that go MUCH further afield than homosexuality and if what you say is true then those with such sexual inclinations have no hope since there would be an aspect of their “personhood” that was fundamentally evil and could not be changed. A person’s sexuality (heterosexual, homosexual, or other) is a TEMPORARY aspect of who they are. It is manifested in life for a limited portion of years. It can change or even go away completely.

        • Danielle says:

          Hmm. Well, without going too far afield, I doubt that the conditions you have in mind are necessarily equivalents to either heterosexuality or homosexuality. They also may not be moral equivalents, since it is possible to imagine expressions both of the former that reflect what many of us would identify as moral or “Christian” virtues. There are some desires, deeply rooted or not, that don’t meet this criteria.

          As for hope of people do be freed from destructive/unjustifiable but deeply rooted desires: I don’t profess to know which can be changed, and which can’t. That’s a tricky clinical question and probably one on which the research is thin. But jumping from that realm to the world of theology, it does seem clear (at least in Paul’s writing) that in the new creation people have bodies, but are free from a great deal that is now party of the created order (both good and bad).

          My purpose in saying that sexuality is an aspect of personhood is not to say that nothing about sexuality can be changed, or that people are “stuck” for eternity with true disorders, but rather to dignify sexuality as something more than a transient urge & to be somewhat open-minded about the dignity of desires that are not very unusual and which in fact appear to be quite common in the human population. As physical beings, sex part of our basic programming; on other levels, its intregal to human society and life. Therefore one should proceed very carefully, before stripping it of import and dignity.

          I hope that makes sense. I do not pretend that this is not an extremely muddy issue, if you bring up particular case studies.

        • Donalbain says:

          You are probably thinking of pedophilia. And yes, I happen to think that pedophilia IS a part of who someone is. But the difference between a pedophile and a non pedophile is that the pedophile will use someone who is not able to offer their consent to engage in sex (IF they act on their desires, not all pedophiles do). They will force themselves on another person. That is an ENORMOUS difference between them and a homosexual person who acts in a loving, consensual partnership with another.

        • I’ll let my previous comment stand to be understood or even misunderstood since I don’t feel it would be beneficial to get any more specific. I’ll just make one clarification; I’m not trying to strip human sexuality of import and dignity. I’m just trying to put it back in its proper place instead of exalting it as our society tends to do. Although sexuality is programmed in at birth, that programming doesn’t kick in until we begin to mature and it tends to dull and fade later in life. But as a society we so identify ourselves with our sexuality that we will take all sorts of drugs to try artificially bolster it long after it should have faded, we will label ourselves according to it, and make enemies of others because of it. Really it is just one aspect of our lives that comes and then goes and even changes in between; it isn’t who and what we are.

          • Danielle says:

            I think we more or less agree on the points you mention directly above.

            Just as a minor clarification, I don’t think you were removing dignity from sexuality necessarily; I was just explaining the thrust of my comments and I was I was stressing how ‘fundamental’ it is.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Thanks Danielle. Your voice is one of sanity.

        The idea that every Christian homosexual should be practice celibacy shows a complete misunderstanding of human need for intimacy. Are they to live away from any other persons? Are they allowed to share a home with another homosexual person that they may love? What if they don’t have a gift for celibacy? Is their love for another person somehow unholy because its of the same sex?

        I would hate to have lived my life alone. I’d probably have died many years ago. I dread thinking of a possible time when I may be forced to live alone away from the one I’ve loved for so many years. And I think she feels the same way. Life will never be the same again.

        So then– does God pronounce judgement on each and every homosexual Christian who chooses to live with a life mate?

        If we insist on such standards, then I’m afraid that most gay persons will choose to live apart from Christian community. And in that case they have a perfect right to pursue a civil agenda to make their lives better.

        Looking at these questions is a necessity, even if far from our comfort zones. And it must be from a position of love and understanding, not judgement and disdain.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        But saying that all homosexual persons are meant to be celibate is about as mad as saying that all heterosexuals who desire to draw closer to God must immediately embrace celibacy. Think of the damage such a doctrine would cause.

        Historically, that exact doctrine DID hold sway during the Middle Ages, when Monks and Nuns had the Godlier-than-the-Rest-of-Us cachet now bestowed upon Megachurch Pastors, P&W Superstars, and Missionaries to Africa. You ended up with a LOT of sworn celibates who weren’t cut out for it but figured they HAD to be (or were forced into it by political or family pressure). It’s no coincidence that the “Temptations of the Devil” from stories of this period usually centered around (admitted or unadmitted) sexual fantasies.

  14. Well if that’s your agenda I’m right there with ya. Continue on! Thanks to you and Jeff for taking on a complex situation that some, on either side, see as black and white. Rough waters. I’m worn out from reading about it.

  15. Reading these posts and comments over the last few days leaves me with the thought: If going by the book causes you to hate, throw the book away.

    Love and grace are the most difficult things for us humans to grasp. (I am human. I checked the box)

    Keep loving and keep showing grace Chaplain Mike.

    Okay the rest of you can bring on the lectures about how important the book is…

  16. I did not read the comments on yesterday’s post — that’s one of the advantages of reading mostly via Google Reader, I don’t even get to see them unless I decide to go to the site.

    I appreciate your explanation today, but would like to share a certain uneasiness I had reading yesterday’s post.

    It seems that on certain topics those of us from an evangelical background who feel drawn back to the Great Tradition are very adamant that Scripture must be interpreted with the church, in keeping with the Tradition, with “a hermeneutic of continuity” to borrow a phrase from one much more famous and learned than myself, and from another context.

    Then we come to this subject, and suddenly there seems to be a stress on “what does the Bible say”, with the take the church has traditionally had on the subject almost being discounted.

    And I feel uneasy, and I wonder why, and while I am reassured by posts like today’s, I still feel uneasy.

    Anyway, just sharing how it struck me.

    • Wolf Paul, thanks for your comments. I think we all feel uneasy.

      • +1

        • humanslug says:

          I’ll second that.
          Most current religious debates are just re-hashes of age-old disagreements packaged in new ways. But with this issue, we may indeed be sailing into unchartered territory. These are truly unsettled waters, and who knows what monsters might be lurking beneath the surface.
          Then again, you can’t discover new lands of promise without crossing the blank spaces on the map.

  17. Thanks for this particular set of discussions. I didn’t jump in yesterday because everything I wanted to say had already been said by someone else. I agree that in this climate this topic needs to be discussed. It isn’t enough to condemn with our fingers in our ears as we shout “la la la la.” And if homosexual sex is sin (and I believe it is) then we need to talk about how we reach out in a society where it is clearly accepted. The culture war is not the answer and condemnation isn’t the Gospel. Although I do agree that there is no grace without acknowledgement of our sin.

    This is one bear of a topic you are trying to tackle! Grace to you as you wade into this.

  18. Marcus Johnson says:

    I don’t think your agenda is anything anyone needs to be scared about, Chaplain Mike. However, so many people have taken a position regarding this issue (ON BOTH SIDES!) which acts as a mask to hide certain unresolved insecurities. What are we so afraid of? If our position is right, conversations about homosexuality which test the foundations of our position should be welcomed. If our position is wrong, shouldn’t these conversations draw our attention to the cracks in our logic and ask us to repair them?

    Yesterday’s post responses were an unfortunate example. Respondents ranged from “don’t you dare ask us to reconsider our interpretation of Genesis 19 or the Levitical law; otherwise, you are condoning blasphemy” to “don’t you dare ask us to consider whether the Bible may make some valid condemning statements about sexual orientation.” The problem with each of these statements is that they indicate that there is a problem with just raising a question and asking for open dialogue.

    • humanslug says:

      To be realistic, uncovering the truth or maintaining sound logic are not real high up on a lot of people’s priority list — and it’s certainly not what motivates them to argue so passionately from one position or another.
      Most people just want to win — or, at least, score enough points to justifiably think of themselves as the winner. Rational, polite, honest, and comprehensive discussion undercuts the likelihood that either side will be able to claim complete victory and vanquish their enemies once and for all.

  19. Chaplain Mike
    I appreciate your tone and your willingness to engage this conversation. This is a huge issue today.

    This topic does seem to provoke many violent emotions, among evangelicals, and I am not really sure why.

    I appreciate the opportunity to engage in a conversation filled with grace where I can work things through. I appreciate not being called names, having my faith questioned (on one side), or being called a bigot (on the other side), or something worse. I appreciate the opportunity you provide to ask questions in a safe setting. I appreciate your willingness to take on the chin for the rest of us, and keep the conversation on high ground.

    • “This topic does seem to provoke many violent emotions, among evangelicals, and I am not really sure why.”

      I think a lot of it might come down to. I believe X. You believe Y. I believe the Bible. My belief in X comes from the Bible, therefore you don’t believe the Bible.

      • The heart of what I don’t get is the anger.

        It’s like when I talk with my kids. Yelling at them,, being condescending and sarcastic, or calling them names, rarely results in a good outcome. If it doesn’t work with seven year olds, why do we think it will “work” with adults.

        Where and Why have we lost the capacity to speak with one another and simply disagree with grace.

        • Ichabod says:

          Anger is closely connected to another negative emotion, fear. One can tick off any number of evangelical leaders who are studied experts in the art of emotional manipulation, prodding people in desired directions. Their fingers are on the pulse of their audiences. Most importantly, they know what dangerous enemies, real or imagined, make them lie awake at night. Anger is learned, and we are taught anger towards them as being different from us. Ultimately, we fear them because they expose us for who we really are, just like them. Meanwhile, Scripture teaches that both anger and fear are bondage. Nevertheless, we feel right in our being wrong. And we feel protected by those enslaving us.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I think a lot of it might come down to. I believe X. You believe Y. I believe the Bible. My belief in X comes from the Bible, therefore you don’t believe the Bible.

        You forgot the next sentence in practice: “DIE, INFIDEL!”

  20. Mike, I can easily understand being torn on this issue. I am a middle of the road conservative in the very liberal Episcopal church. We are always being told that love is the only thing that matters even at the expense of the truth. It seems that Pilate is alive and well in asking the old question of truth. Sometimes you need to tell a heroin addict that what he is doing is harmful to himself and others. Just loving without the truth does nothing but enable.Everything does need to be done with compassion. The problem I see with this issue is that we are confusing truth with justification. That comment will open a whole can of worms but that is how I view it. Hang in there, keep plowing and don’t look back.

    • humanslug says:

      Good point about truth and justification.
      A quest for justification involves defining the parameters of what we can or can’t get away with by dissecting scripture the same way lawyers dissect civil law.
      A quest for truth involves searching scripture for help and guidance in living a life that is pleasing to God and in close relationship with Him.

    • J.Random says:

      Speaking as a liberal voice on this issue, I’d agree completely that sometimes you need to tell someone that what they’re doing is harmful to themselves and others.

      I’d just ask that people actually go to the trouble of *discerning* that, first, rather than leaping to the conclusion that it’s harmful just because it’s a same-sex relationship — absent any other evidence.

      You may discern instead that the relationship is actually a really beautiful, healthy and loving thing for those people, their families and their community.

  21. CM –

    I appreciate your willingness to talk about this topic, as it is indeed something that is front and center these days and needs to be dealt with.

    I didn’t read the comments either (Google Reader!), but I didn’t think there was any “agenda” behind the post. Although after reading Wolf Paul’s comments I can certainly understand why some felt uneasy. Now that I’ve read the “cleaned up” version of the comments though I have to say that I like them and they address some of the concerns I have regarding your treatment of the NT passages, Miguel’s 1st one and Glenn’s in particular.

    Your “agenda” of trying to figure out to relate to the LGBT community in the real world and present Jesus to them is the aspect of this issue that I am currently dealing with as well. My views concerning what the Bible says are pretty much settled, but what isn’t settled are the practical aspects of relating to this community in real life and their position in the church.

    I’m asking myself the question: Where do I draw the line between helping someone and showing them the love of Christ versus endorsing their lifestyle, which I believe is wrong? Unfortunately there are so many factors playing into answering this question that it isn’t as easy to answer as it would be for alcohol, drug, or gambling addicts.

  22. humanslug says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing where you go with this series, Mike.
    One thing I think needs to be addressed is the broader sexual chaos in our culture and the difficulty that chaos creates when trying to clearly define terms and positions while discussing this issue.
    One way of dealing with it is to oversimplify the issue. On one side, the temptation is to lump all homosexual practice and behavior into one pile and judge it all as the same. On the other side, the temptation is define and explain everything through the lens of sexual orientation — to say that everyone is genetically predetermined as either gay or straight or bisexual. Unfortunately, I think the reality of the issue is a lot more complicated and convoluted than can be accurately and honestly dealt with from either of those simplified positions.
    Of course, taking the complicated route means trying to answer all kinds of difficult questions.
    Is being in a loving, monogamous gay relationship just as displeasing to God as casual or group homosexual sex?
    Should the church deal differently with a person who says they were born gay than with a person who says they “converted” to homosexuality at age 30 after numerous failed heterosexual relationships?
    What about someone who switched over during a long prison sentence or someone who has gone through different seasons in life when they were both exclusively gay and exclusively straight in their sexual behavior?
    What about certain codependent people to whom sex is more about trying to fill deep emotional holes and looking to someone else for their identity than it is about an innate physical attraction to one gender or the other?
    What about those people whose adult sexual practices can be traced back to sexual abuse as a child or to extremely disfunctional family environments?
    Of course, these questions only cover a small fraction of the possibilities regarding sexual preference and practice to be found in our culture.
    So how, in light of so much sexual chaos and variation, do we as the church adopt any kind of certain policies and positions regarding sexual behavior?
    Can the church really just butt out of people’s private lives when sex is such a big part of who we are and so deeply effects every aspect of our lives, including our relationship with our Creator?
    Where is that balancing line between being hypocritically judgmental and just sitting back and doing nothing while we watch brothers and sisters in Christ slowly destroyed by sexual immorality and addictions?
    I hope you address some of these issues and questions in your series, Mike.

  23. tigger23505 says:

    From a conversation that I’ve been participating in on another forum —

    Q: How do we separate respect for the individual created in God’s image from approving of the distortion of that image, when the distortion is so pervasive it seems normal?

    A: A good start is to remember:

    That from Pol Pot to Mother Theresa; Adolf Hitler to the Dali Lama … every human being on the planet was created in the image of God.
    6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Rom 5:6-8; The Message)

    It wouldn’t hurt to accurately assess our own indictment and list some of the heinous offenses against God the we have been pardoned from by the blood of the Lamb.

    21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

    22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

    23-25 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

    26-27 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

    28” The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’

    29-31 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

    32-35″ The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.” (Matt 18:21-35; The Message)

  24. Judy /Ca says:

    I’m pretty new to this site but want to say how much I appreciate this post. You’ve articulated so well what many of us are thinking, feeling and struggling with. This issue touches my extended family in a very real way and we deal with it mostly by silence as the spectrum of opinion has sadly split us down the middle.

    These are hard questions in difficult times. I do not believe we can even begin to address them until we recognize that we are ALL sinners in need of the wonderful grace of God.

  25. Danielle says:

    Chaplain Mike, whatever conclusion you reach, thank you for being so transparent, and for providing space for dialog on these issues. Predictably, the result is a firestorm. But dialog is also so desperately needed. I am thankful for the calmer and earnest comments made from all sides.

  26. cermak_rd says:

    Good luck on your ordination path. I did not read the comments yesterday (busy day in Chicagoland) so I can’t say anything about that. I tried to read them today, after they had been cleaned up, and without the context of what people were talking about it was a bit like walking into a party and hearing comments randomly from different groups having conversations.

    I met my first gay person in college. He and I were quite close and he told me. I participated with him in various anti-voilence activities up on the north side of Chicago. At that time we were having issues with gay-bashing (literal bashing–with baseball bats) so a group of us would wear whistles and if we saw an attack we were supposed to blow the whistle–the idea being the attackers–who were cowards and liked to attack in isolated areas–would either run away or otherwise be distracted by the whistle-blower.

    So in this regard, that the argument has just become one of different people’s judgment of sin is a tremendous improvement!

  27. We are all broken. We have all sinned and will sin again. So are your sins worse than mine? We need to remember that without Gods grace we are doomed. So treat others as you want to be treated. Let God be the judge, He doesn’t need your help.

  28. CCsoprano says:

    The previous post, today’s post, and all the comments are really good examples of trying to answer Pilate’s and humanity’s age old question of truth. This is a good thing. The thoughtful and civil approach taken by CM and the commenters here will be needed in the not so distant future. These discussions about homosexuality, although they’ve been going on for the past 30-40 years, are just the beginning. Eventually, the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church must wrestle with the flood of information that will arise from the human genome project and the neurosciences about the origins of human behavior.

    There will be a seismic shift on the nature of sin. Just like the previous seismic shifts of heliocentric solar system, the theory of evolution, and the big bang theory this one will rock deeply held beliefs to their very core. No one is really prepared for this. Given the anti-science and anti-intellectual stance of some Christians, I don’t think this will end well, but discussions like these give me some hope.

  29. One thing that has not been discussed by anyone is the medical aspect of being homosexual. You would have thought that God would have given them a way to have relations that did not harm and kill many. All my gay friends have told me that one partner is the male and one the female. It is an imitation of hetrosexual sex. But any medical doctor and all studies show the anus was made for waste elimination and not sex. Look at the death rates and disease within the gay community and I am sure this is not what God had intended. Having had close friends die who were gay was not what God intended. The medical evidence alone should be in any consideration of the issue.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      There’s a lot wrong with your statement, David, primarily when you factor in the American Medical Association’s patient-centered statement on homosexuality. However, I don’t see how your comments relate to the above post which Chaplain Mike posted. There are other posts regarding homosexuality in which your comments might have a little more relevance.

      • Could you link to the study for me? Not finding it on Google. I was under the impression that Sodomy was legitimately destructive to the body. Thanks.

        • Marcus Johnson says:

          It’s not a study; I was referring to the AMA’s official statement regarding homosexuality and their patient centered approach to same-sex orientation. That statement is published online; a Google search can find it quite easily.

          Also, even if we assume that sodomy is a “destructive act” (not sure what that means), it only appears to be a sin in homosexual intercourse, and only male-male intercourse at that, which means lesbian intercourse does not factor into David’s statement. In other words, sodomy in married male-female couples would not be considered a sin, and lesbian intercourse would be sinful, but healthy.

          The main point of my earlier statement, however, was that this is a discussion best reserved for a different post. The main thrust of the most recent posts on homosexuality dealt with the literary and spiritual interpretation of the Biblical passages on homosexuality, not with the physical or medical aspects surrounding it. I would wager good money that most folks, including myself, are ill-equipped to grapple with the medical aspects of homosexuality with any real authority other than “I read this on a website somewhere.” Let’s keep the discussion focused on the original post that Chaplain Mike made. If we want to talk about the medical aspects of sodomy, we need to look for another forum.

    • J.Random says:

      “All my gay friends have told me that one partner is the male and one the female.”

      This statement alone tells me you don’t actually have any gay friends; let alone the rest of your badly misinformed comment.

      If I’m wrong and you do have gay friends, please, please, talk to them about this. If they can refrain from being insulted I’m sure they will correct your mistakes.

  30. Chaplain Mike,

    I appreciate the tone of today’s post, and confess I was overly short with you regarding the previous day’s post. For that I am sorry and ask your forgiveness.

    I would rather discuss something other than issue as well, but whenever it comes up, it really gets me.

    In my life I have known and ministered to one gay man who also considered himself transgendered. The profound broken-ness of his life, which I discovered through visiting him and hanging out with him, really disturbed me, but nonetheless it was a faith-forming experience for me.

    It prompted me to begin to read more about the physiatric issues relating to homosexuality, because frankly I was at a loss as to anything I could say to my friend that might be of use. My experience has shaped my view of the issue, in that I think that our gay neighbors need us to listen to them and help them overcome the mire that is homosexuality. When I see others, such as Rachel Held Evans, essentially sweep all that under the rug and call me bigoted for my views, and deny that there is any problem with homosexuality whatsoever, it really gets to me–because to me it’s a denial of reality, a “washing of the hands” that doesn’t address the real problems of real people.

    But in my passion over this issue I think I probably directed ire toward you that you did not deserve. Hopefully this helps you understand where I’m coming from.

    • *pyschiatric, can’t spell today

    • J.Random says:

      Please don’t judge all LGBT people on the basis of your experience with one broken individual.

      And when you read up on the psychiatric issues, please rely on sources that real psychiatrists would actually use… not on “Christian” sources that pick-and-choose data in service to their “biblical” worldviews.

      (“Christian” and “biblical” scare-quoted because I don’t think they are either.)

  31. Chaplain Mike, thank you so much for making the need for this discussion so evident. It isn’t going to get resolved today. It gets to the heart of things, it involves matters such as is God great, sovereign, just, righteous, holy, or is God love? Not that those things are mutually exclusive but we seem to make them so. If it is better to marry than burn, where does that leave my two best friends within a fifty mile radius who have been together longer than I have with my present wife and are the only people around I can discuss things of God with, including my evangelical friend. They are both men and they are legally married.

    I am on my third wife. I think the scriptural evidence saying that this is not an ideal state of affairs is a lot plainer than the evidence regarding loving same sex relationships. I think the evidence that a single, celibate life is of a higher order than the married state is plain enough, witness Jesus, but it is also plain enough that you need to do what you are called to do, which for many people involves being married, gay or straight.

    I don’t think very many on either side of this complex issue would hold that promiscuous behavior is within God’s order. I don’t think that many would hold up predatory or exploitative or abusive or addictive behavior as acceptable. Certainly very few of any persuasion would be comfortable with child abuse.

    I dunno. All I know is that my two married friends love each other and I love them like sons, like brothers, like Jesus apparently loves me. This won’t be the end of this discussion. We have to get this figured out. Thanks for stepping up to the plate.

  32. Beakerj says:

    It’ll be a pleasure to walk through this difficult subject with you on iMonk Chaplain Mike. I really want to be able to look at the central issues, without getting utterly distracted by the agendas that go with it…thisis such a hard subject as I’m (currently) one of, I suspect, many many people who’d like to utterly affirm homosexual marriage, but don’t feel able to, yet, with integrity.
    I’m also someone who spent my late teens, 20’s & half of my 30’s celibate due to being a Christian, in which I was about 99% successful with an enormous amount of prayer, gritted teeth and hard work. I also didn’t marry a man I loved as I knew he’d lead me away from Christ. I don’t hear a lot in this discussion yet about sex being something we may need to sacrfice in order to be faithful, & I certainly haven’t heard much yet from those many many people with SSA who are celibate for this reason.

  33. Becky Behrmann says:

    Put on your seatbelt, Chaplain Mike, this ride is gonna get bumpy. Someone with a brain needs to address it… tag, you’re it!