Eugene Cho

…the gay conversation

It’s been a busy and crazy day today. We’re rearranging our staff offices; I’m dealing with chicken pox at the home, dealing with a rock being thrown into our church office window [luckily, no one was in there because the pastor sitting there was home because of an ailment], getting ready to head out tomorrow to Sabbath for couple days, and blah blah blah. And it’s probably about to get a little crazier…

Last night, I finally had a chance to respond to an email I received from Dan Savage, the editor of The Stranger – wittingly described by a friend as “the alternative paper to Seattle’s alternative newspaper [Seattle Weekly].  As readers of this blog know, he authored what I thought to be a witty review of Quest Church in the paper’s last edition.  I was surprised that he posted my personal email and his response on The Stranger blog for the rest of the world to see.  Oh well.  My hope is not to engage in battle.  That is the farthest thing from my heart.  Most that know me will attest to this…  While many have assumptions that Christians are hate filled, bigoted and ignorant, it’s my hope that more will realize that issues of justice, compassion, and mercy are dear to the heart of Christians – because they are near to the heart of God.

I am first posting my latest email to Dan, and then posting my first email and then his response…I share this here [with some trepidation] knowing that anything can be said.  I guess that’s the beauty and beastly nature of blogs.  It’s my hope that my email to Dan will answer some of the numerous responses from his readers and because I know my email will be posted anyways on his blog.  Last week, I very much enjoyed reading the thread of comments from Scot McKnight’s [jesus creed] post about the church’s lack of compassion with the gay communityI had no idea that I’d be smack in the middle of this conversation as the culprit of that bigotry…

Related Links: Listening; Gracious as All F#*k; and The Gay Dialogue

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My latest email:

Dan,

Thanks for the prompt reply. Maybe it’s just me, but I was surprised that you posted my reply on the Slog Blog w/o my permission. I responded to your personal email with my personal response not knowing that it would move into a public venue. Perhaps, it’s just a given and thus, will take that as an OK for me to post our dialogue on my blog. So be it. However, please do not interpret my delayed response as “silence.” I’ve been backlogged on my emails which is why I responded to your first email within the hour saying that I’d get back to you in a week or so. Clearly, you are more of a brilliant and witty writer than I am. You can articulate your thoughts quickly; I’m slow.

To your email, thanks for the education on my syntactical usage of “lifestyle.” My usage of that word wasn’t to imply that you don’t have a “similar” lifestyle to me. I’m sure you go to work, eat, fart, take care of your kids, pay exorbitant property taxes, go bowling, and remove weeds from your backyard. What “rubs” [me] the wrong way isn’t the sex either. Why would that rub me the wrong way? Isn’t sex and physical intimacy an important component of the larger human need for intimacy?

You asked me a direct question: But where’s Quest on the gays? Just as progressive? Or leaning on Leviticus? Thus, I tried to answer your question directly while attempting to convey [clearly I failed] that it’s neither “progressive” or “leaning on Leviticus.” You wanted an answer and I’m saying: “I acknowledge how painful it must be for the majority of the [C]hurch to disapprove of one’s gay or sexual identity. I understand that to be gay is not to put on an accessory. It’s not an elective class; not secondary, peripheral, and may not even be a choice for most. It’s personal and speaks to the core of one’s identity. While I at times in the past have been tempted by simply looking at this from a theological or sociological perspective, I have been cautioned by friends – both straight and gay – to be wise not to dehumanize the issue. It’s not simply about academics, books, exegesis, hermeneutics, interpretation…they are real issues and real stories for many people.

That is why I am cautious and discerning how I communicate my thoughts – however firm or open they might be. That is why I don’t like to openly post my “views” on the gay issue on my blog, the church site, or elsewhere because I know that it’s not just simply an issue. It involves and affects people – feelings, emotions, and souls. I’d rather respond to people individually. By the many responses you’ve received, it’s clear that your readers are pissed off at my views and thus, pissed off at me…I am a bigot, a closed minded fool, a fundamentalist, and other nice stuff.

While it may surprise you or your readers, there are many Christians [at least the ones that I roll with] that are conflicted over the issue as I am. There are many that genuinely wrestle with issues of mercy, justice, and compassion. I have wrestled, studied, prayed, argued, listened, and wrestled more over the issue. It’s not my intent to damn people. To have my answer received in such ways is what grieves me. And the reality is that it is what folks are looking for. That is what you were looking for. On both sides of the issue, people simply seem to care about the answer to this question, “Are you for or against…” The answer is the end of the conversation.

So, here are couple questions for you. Your readers are more than welcome to post their thoughts on this blog…

  • Is it possible for a person to be in friendship with you that holds a different position on the gay issue?
  • Is a person – despite their friendship with a gay person – automatically a bigot if they don’t share your view?
  • Rhetorically speaking – can you and I be friends?
  • And here’s my last question for the time being. That is, if you’re interested in dialogue – which I wasn’t quite sure by the tone I perceived in your email. Is it possible for a person or a church to be “welcoming but not affirming?”

As for your question about marriage: I don’t own marriage or the social institution of marriage. While I personally believe marriage to be a gift that God gave to creation to be enjoyed in a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman, I don’t believe in legislating my beliefs upon you or others. So, to answer your question directly, I’m open to the gay community and their right to marriage.

The church can be so obsessed with morality and conversion that it loses out on the beauty of conversation. While I can’t speak on behalf of all Christians or even all at Quest, I can only speak for myself: I am an open book. I am both a learned and a learner. I struggle with this issue even while I have an answer to your question. I am open to pursuing dialogue, conversation, and friendship – this is my life philosophy and the manner in which I seek to influence Quest as its lead pastor. I desire to learn how to better Love God and to Love my neighbors.

Look forward to your response.

e

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My first email in response [posted on his blog] to Dan’s email asking, “I know where you’re at re: women in leadership roles.  found it on your blog…but where’s quest on the gays?  just as progressive?  or leaning on leviticus?

I really wish I was more articulate…

Dan,

Sorry for the delayed response. Not that you were waiting by your inbox waiting for my reply…

Because we are theologically so different than Mars Hill, that’s why the “Mars Hill wannabe” definitely rubbed a few of our church folks that wrong way. As you might assume, MH and driscoll can be fairly polarizing so for those on the other spectrum, it’s not the best thing to be compared to him.

Regardless, to your question about our position on gays. No matter how I answer, I know it’s going to always hurt or offend one side or the other. I say this not to be trite but it’s been a difficult issue. Always is when you’re dealing not just with an issue but one that deals with people…human souls. Quest welcomes the gay community but does not affirm the gay lifestyle.

While I can’t speak on behalf of every single person at Quest, I believe I speak for many when I share that there’s much hypocrisy in the church especially when we isolate homosexuality out of the context of the larger conversation of sexuality that needs to be addressed. Heterosexuals have much to answer to. So, while I do not affirm the lifestyle, I also believe in human rights and the rights that the gay community deserve—the most important one being the freedom to be safe. I wrestle with how a gay person can feel safe in the church—even if they are “welcomed” when their lifestyle isn’t affirmed as God honoring…

Let me know your thoughts if you have the energy.

e

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This is Dan’s response:

Is the right to marry included on your list of rights to which we’re entitled?

Re: The gay lifestyle. What you mean is gay sex, right? My “lifestyle” is probably shockingly similar to your own: go to work, go home, eat, take care of my kid, pay the bills. It’s the sex I have with my partner that rubs you the wrong way, so to speak. There is no “gay lifestyle,” Eugene. Some straight people have no kids, never marry, and sleep around—which is what the phrase “gay lifestyle” invokes. My unmarried, 45 year-old heterosexual brother Billy lives a much gayer “lifestyle” than I do.

And, yes, straight people have their own sins to answer for—but your philosophy at least allows for straight people to have fully intimate lives, loving partners, and some sexual release. Your theology disallows that for me, so… I don’t see as how that amounts to equal treatment. Copping to hetero shortcomings (“Hey, look at the way we dress!”) while advising gay people to forgo all intimacy, a.k.a. “the gay lifestyle,” does not amount to the loving tending o’ the flock that you seem to believe it does. Telling people that God disapproves of their deepest needs for love and companionship, and that they must forgo that “sin” in order to be right with God, is an act of emotional and spiritual violence.

If there was a God, you would answer for it one day. But there isn’t and you won’t.

Dan

Filed under: bible, christianity, church, emerging church, justice, religion

338 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. s.dinkins says:

    I’m not a Christian nor do I ever want to go to church. Nor do I understand you Christians but I do want to thank you for taking the time to dialogue.

    While you wrote it in your email to Dan, you need to know how much it pains me and the gay community when it is said or implied that God doesn’t love me the way that I am.

  2. clarity says:

    I can hardly belive that you cannot see how bigoted your position is. If you replace the word “gay” with “inter-racial” in the questions you posed perhaps you will see what makes your position untenable.

    “Is it possible for a person to be in friendship with you that holds a different position on the gay issue?
    Is a person – despite their friendship with a gay person – automatically a bigot if they don’t share your view?”

    Is is possible for me to be friends with someone who believes that inter-racial realtionships are wrong? No.
    Is a person – despite their friendship with an inter-racial person – automatically a bigot if they don’t share my view? Yes.

    It’s a ridiculous claim to say I accept you but not what you do, the two are intertwined. To separate the two is a false dichotomy.

  3. Eugene,
    Thank you for being so sincere. I am also a Christian and a Pastor and I am in the same boat as you. There are questions that we as Christians have to be willing to answer in love

    We have to admit that we may not even have all the answers and thank you for being that person who is willing to talk about issues and not just reject people.

    Mary Jo Hansen
    lafuentemin.com

  4. Fnarf says:

    I’m not Dan, and I don’t speak for Dan. And I’m not gay, nor am I a religious person. I do hang out on the Slog a lot, and I try to express moderate views there. I understand your dilemma quite well, because I spend a lot of time thinking about how to bring Christians (and gays) back into the public dialogue instead of just shouting at each other. I spend a lot of time explaining to people on the Slog that Christians are not always close-minded bigots, and now I’m going to try to persuade you that gays aren’t either. There has to be room for dialogue.

    What I hope I can do is explain WHY people on the other side think the way they do. When prominent public Christians express their opposition to gays, they are, as you acknowledge above, striking at the core of who they are as people. That is hurtful, and it cannot honestly be hard for a thinking person to see that.

    The reason I’m going to the trouble here is because I am impressed by your attitude. I understand the Christian attitude of searching for answers, and “learning how to love God better”. This is an aspect of Christianity that has been almost entirely lost in the public debate, which is now all about the checklist of positions and which ones you’re for and which ones you’re against, and there is no other option besides “for” or “against”, or even room to discuss things. I respect your openness on this question. And I freely ackowledge that there are just as many close-minded bigots on the “gay side”.

    But here I am not addressing the Slog readership. I’m addressing you. I hope I can make contact here and we can maybe understand each other a little better. I’m thrilled that you’re even interested; I wish my many hard-right Christian relatives were!

    I think you need to be more explicit about what you mean by “the gay issue”. You ask: “Is it possible for a person to be in friendship with you that holds a different position on the gay issue?” I’m not sure that being “friends” is the real question here, but if it is, clearly the answer is “no”. Because when you say “the gay issue”, you’re talking again about WHO THEY ARE.

    If you change the word “gay” to “Jewish”, what happens? Obviously, it would be possible for you to “be friends” with a Jew, even though neither you nor the Jew would in a million years expect the other to change his theology. You could perhaps even have interesting and fruitful conversations about what you believe, and why. But being gay is not like being Jewish.

    It’s more like being of different races. From your surname I’m guessing that you are of Asian heritage. Would you be willing to “be friends with” someone who believed that being Asian was morally wrong? Because that is exactly what you’re doing here.

    Again, what is the “gay issue” you’re talking about? You say you are “open to the gay community and their right to marriage. ” That doesn’t really answer the question, does it? The question is “do you support the right of gays to marry?” And if so, in what way do you support it? If you privately agree but thunder against it from the pulpit on Sunday, as so many of your colleagues do, that’s not going to make you any friends. Because it IS a civil rights issue, where real people are being denied actual rights that you and I take for granted — like being able to inherit property, or visit your spouse in the hospital, or a thousand other things.

    I think what I feel, and my gay friends feel, is that you haven’t taken the next required logical step, which is this: once you see that there are rights involved here, you have to then — HAVE TO — start to see the withholding of these rights as an injustice. You can’t just say “oh, yeah, gay marriage, it’s OK as long as I don’t have to perform them, let’s stop talking about it now”. I think a moral conscience is REQUIRED to see injustices, and feel them.

    Gays are not separate from you and me. They are part of us, as people, as Americans. If they are suffering an injustice, YOU AND I are suffering that injustice too. I hope you can learn to see that.

    I understand that you are conflicted over this. I can’t help you find a theological understanding of how gays can be all right, other than “God don’t make no junk”; a loving God would not make people who are fundamentally wrong. But being gay is fundamental. This is something you’re going to have to work out inside your own heart.

    I think it’s going to have to involve you coming to an understanding that certain Biblical expressions are cultural and not absolute, but I don’t know. I know that even the strictest Biblical literalist has to eventually agree that there are conflicts in the Bible, and that these may represent conflicts not in God but in the understanding of God by men. And attitudes towards homosexuality may represent one of those conflicts. I’m not a theologian, so I don’t know.

    Your next question, “Is a person – despite their friendship with a gay person – automatically a bigot if they don’t share your view?” That depends on what view you’re talking about. If your view is that they are excluded from the Grace of God because of their homosexuality — which is what? a sex act? an identity? a turning away from God? — then yes, you are probably never going to be able to avoid the label of “bigot”. If your view is “you shouldn’t be gay”, or “you should endeavor to become straight”, you’re never going to get anywhere with them at all, because you are denying them. “I think your belief about X, Y, or Z is wrong” is nowhere near as exclusionary as “I think that who you are is wrong”.

    Your next question I’ll skip, because quite frankly I don’t understand why you would want to “be friends” with Dan, or anyone else, on the basis of what you’ve got going here.

    Your last question, though is: “Is it possible for a person or a church to be “welcoming but not affirming?” “. The simplest answer from your perspective is yes, of course — you can welcome all sorts of people, and the best churches have always opened their arms to sinners of every description, because everyone is a sinner, right? But be careful here. If you’re going to say “of course we welcome sinners, prostitutes and drug addicts and homosexuals, we are all the children of God” (which I have heard people say), because you’re equating homosexuality with prostitution or drug addiction — a sinful behavior. That’s not going to make you any friends in the gay community, because that hurts people in the gay community, to say that the core of their identity is a sin, or a moral failing. Do you see the difference? We are all sinners, but your sin is not your heterosexuality. You may fall victim to crimes against God’s grace, anger, lying, covetousness, laziness, whatever, but your sexuality is not one of those. What you DO with your sexuality may be, but not the FACT of it.

    If a heterosexual member of your church deceives a woman in order to persuade her to have sex with him, that is undoubtedly a sin. You might say to him, no, that’s wrong, think what you’re doing and try to go with God instead, but you wouldn’t say to him, I welcome you into my church, but I can’t affirm who you are as a person. It would never occur to you to say that. But a gay person, who has by your lights NO OUTLET for this central aspect of his personality, his sexuality, cannot be “affirmed” no matter WHAT he does sexually.

    Consider this conundrum: how would you deal with a man who came to you and said, “I am gay, I have only homosexual desires, and have only ever had homosexual desires; I cannot bear to have a sexual relationship with any woman — it repulses me. But I know that homosexuality is against God’s will, so I have chosen to stifle my desire and remain celibate”. Would you welcome him? Would you AFFIRM him? Would your heart break to see him snuff out such a part of being alive? What would be your reaction if you realized that doing so is causing him terrible suffering? What does God want a person like that to do?

    Because that is what the traditional viewpoint of Christian pastors has been, that that suffering is God’s will. You can understand how that would annoy some people! How can God demand suffering like that? How can God demand that injustice?

    I hope I’ve helped you see the other side a little better. I don’t know if you’re ever going to persuade Dan Savage of anything; or even if you’re going to persuade him to talk to you about it. Again, I don’t speak for him. But I understand his point of view, and I think it’s a powerful one. I think you have more to gain from this conversation than he does.

    But if you want to talk to him, I think you’re going to have to open up a little more than you have: you’re going to have to actually address the issue. Explain it to him — why are you not able to “affirm” him? What is it — talk about your theological point of view. What is it, specifically, about homosexuality that you cannot accept? Don’t hide behind phrases like “lifestyle” — that’s a deeply coded word that masks a lot of real feelings, possibly very ugly ones. You have to understand that most gays have been having conversations like these for years or decades; they’ve heard all the arguments, and they’re sick of it, because when you get right down to it, at core it’s about sex, and discomfort at talking about sex. I really do believe that most objections to homosexuality stem not from theology but from personal fears and personal rigidities.

    But again I want to tell you that I think you’re brave, because you’re trying to bridge a political gap, and I want to see that gap bridged. I want to be able to talk to Christians. We’re all here, none of us are going anywhere, and we can’t go on shouting at each other forever. So, thank you for that.

  5. Fnarf says:

    PLEASE tell me that the super-long post I just typed in here and have no other copy of didn’t just disappear in a cloud of dust!

  6. e cho says:

    Fnarf: Sorry. Didn’t get posted…

  7. chad says:

    clarity, i find the position that being gay is the same as being a person of color very difficult to accept. in my experience, it is simply not helpful to this conversation. people cannot choose their ethnicity or race. do not hear what i’m not saying: i’m not saying homosexuals can just choose to not be gay. that is a position i do not hold. i do not pretend to fully understand identity formation, but as a youth pastor, i wish i did. it would make my job much easier if i could just tell kids to quit being the way they are.

    i agree with Eugene, the question of homosexuality is bigger than we “church folk” have allowed it to be and my fear is that the conversation will not happen because we are scared out of our minds that it will wreck all of Christendom. for some ridiculous reason, churches split rather than deal with issues we don’t agree on.

    my hope, and what i see as Eugene’s hope, is that we can have a conversation; have a cup of coffee; argue, disagree, cry, yell, laugh, and be better human beings. my hope is that we can all somehow draw closer to our maker by taking time to have a tough conversation about both identity and spiritual formation…

    thank God for grace!

  8. clarity says:

    Chad,

    I am confused by your response. Why is the analogy not helpful to you? If you agree that sexual preference is not a choice then it really is the same thing.

    You might not wish to admit to your inegalitarian beliefs but they are there.

  9. chad says:

    here’s where i’m coming from. i’m very sorry i wasn’t clear enough. when a person walks into a room or into a church you cannot tell his/her sexual preference. however, when an African-American walks in, he/she cannot hide their skin color; it is impossible. we can pretend to be a lot of different things and deny our true identity, but a person of color cannot hide their skin. for example, one cannot be pulled over for being gay, but many black Americans have been pulled over unjustly. i hope this helps clarify my previous comment.

  10. Julie says:

    Eugene – I want to thank you for engaging in this conversation so respectfully, even though I am someone who falls 100% in the “nothing at all wrong with gays, gay sex, etc.” camp. I love Dan, but personally wish he had been a touch more respectful in his response.

    What I want to know is, if it’s not the sex that rubs you the wrong way and it’s not because Leviticus says it is so, then, why is there any conflict at all for you with this issue? What is the rationale for not affirming the “gay lifestyle”? I am not sure you articulated your rationale for that in your letters….

    I can understand why Christians believe the seven deadly sins (or other major sins) are sins — committing them harms the sinner or others, or is generally indicative of poor character or lack of self-control. But, I don’t understand at all why homosexual sex (or homosexuality) would be considered a sin by Christians. It is truly baffling to me sometimes…

  11. David says:

    I am responding to you as both a gay man and a Christian.

    I grew up in one of the most conservative denomination in the Protestant Christian religion, Southern Baptist. I would remember that every year, the youth minister would dedicate one full month on preaching how being gay is evil. I always knew that I was gay, even before my teenage years, I knew I was gay, but was suppressing it because I was afraid of what others might think.

    It is funny that people don’t ask themselves the questions if they are gay are not. If you are heterosexual, the obvious answer is that you are not gay. You are attracted to members of the opposite sex. Can you ever change the fact that you are attracted to members of the opposite sex? Nope. Why the double standard on gay people? Sexual orientation is not a sexual preference. Sexual preference is how one has sex rather than who you have sex with. That you can choose, orientation is something you cannot choose. Also, there is some interesting data that has just come out that shows gay people display different genetic marking that would suggest it might be genetic.

  12. clarity says:

    Actually Chad, there are African-Americans who have “passed” for White so it’s not impossible for someone to hide their ethnicity…just incredibly difficult for those on the darker end of the spectrum. Also, while being gay might not be immediately obvious it is quite frequently noticable. Long before many of the gay people I know ever came out of the closet people knew. People knew in high school and gave these boys a hard time, they knew in junior high and picked on them, they knew in elementary and teased them. And as for the argument that gays dont get pulled over for “driving while gay” like Blacks get pulled over for “driving while Black” that doesn’t stand either because gays have been attacked simply for being gay. If you look at the numbers of hate crimes you cannot say that gays are not identifiable, if they weren’t identifiable then there would be no hate crimes commited against them by strangers,.

  13. Madeline F says:

    I think Julie has a good question.

    I’d suggest that whenever there is a social change, there are always people who would rather have things be as they have been than take the opportunity to ask, “Do I have a chance now to hurt fewer people?” Society has changed and the way people interact with Christianity has changed as well. Christians have a long and magnificent past to consider.

    It would be facile to say Jesus would have looked at every single change with an eye towards helping those who had previously been downtrodden and discarded… He was a human, right? And clearly of the opinion that some people were wrong and ought to be shown a better way. So who knows if he had classes of people he just irrationally didn’t like?

    Still, the image is of a guy who went out of his way to point out that the poor and disadvantaged and victims of racism and all were more welcome to him than those sitting the catbird seat.

    And I don’t think Christians should worry about social change. Gods are tough. I can’t forsee a time when “I am that I am” would have to slow his mustang down.

  14. no one in particular says:

    chad: What does the identifiability of race vs. sexual orientation have to do with it anyway? I don’t see what that has to do with whether or not it’s a valid metaphor. Also, your automatic jump to the white+black in an interracial marriage. I guess that’s that’s natural, but what about a marriage between a curly-haired jew-lookin’ white dude (like me!) and an ethnically-jewish girl. If you frown upon that marriage, yes, you’re a bigot and no, I can not be your friend.

    Same thing with gay marriage. I’m sorry bigot, I can (and will!) be friendly to you like I am friendly to everyone, but we’re not going to be friends.

  15. Jason says:

    Chad,

    Your first comment says that race and sexuality are non-equivalent – and your justification indicates such!
    You assert: “People cannot choose their ethnicity or race. ” This is your justification for why race is not equivalent for comparison. Logically, if this is the only reason offered (as it is in your response), the implication is that gays do choose. You then follow this by asserting that you do not know or believe that gays choose their orientation.

    This is cognitive dissonance!

    So I can respond in one of two ways.
    1) I can try to address the issue that sexuality, at least in the case of some, is innate. A single gene controls sexuality in flies. And while we are not flies, this supports the notion that there is a biological underpinning in sexual orientation. If you want to deny the science out there, it’s your prerogative. Obviously there’s a lot more to love than a simple gene, but at its very core attraction is a biochemical response to a visual stimulus. Not that it’s not magical or spiritual in its own right, but fundamentally, we’re in the realm of biochemistry.

    2) I can ask you what you really meant, because both in that reply, and the one that followed, you back-peddled and didn’t really progress your argument. So, either race and sexuality are a fair comparison, or they’re not. Just because you can “hide” sexuality but you can’t hide race doesn’t make sexuality any less integral to the you that is you.

    But simply suggesting that one can hide their sexual orientation and not their race, and that’s why “People cannot choose their race or ethnicity” – what you’ve really said in all this is, “People can choose to hide their sexuality, but they cannot hide their race or ethnicity.”

    And really – that’s an evil position to take.

    I’d rather accept G-d on my own terms and contribute to society as a cancer researcher than have anything to do with a religious organization that subscribes to that belief. I suspect at the end of the day I’ll have done more for humanity than those who’ve sought to prevent the inclusion of my family and myself in a spiritually rich atmosphere.

  16. kate says:

    As a Quest member as well as daughter of a gay parent–I will share a couple thoughts:

    I believe there is a deep need to respect the unimaginable heartache the Christian Right has caused among the gay community thus far. Regardless of WHAT we (individually) believe on the issue–we have to recognize that, as followers of Jesus, we have royally screwed up in loving the lgbt community.

    We need to apologize. over, and over, and over again.

    We need to speak LOUDLY against those who are responsible for the degradation of the lgbt community, both socially, spiritually, and politically.

    As Christians, it is not enough to simply welcome discussion with the lgbt community–I think we tend to make the mistake of patting ourselves on the back for being willing to engage in dialog. The hope of engaging in conversation with people who have been so deeply hurt, for so long is–in my belief–asking for too much, at this point. Though, if the lgbt community has enough grace towards a group (Christians) whom have caused them so much pain–that they would be willing to engage in such conversation–then, well,maybe we ought to take a lesson from them on what it means to show love and grace.

  17. chris says:

    Pastor Eugene,

    Sounds like you’re having an intense week. I want you to know how much I appreciate your leadership and sincerity. Coming to Quest has been incredible. You and the other pastors have done much to change my views of church. I appreciate that much of what you’ve written here is what you seek to communicate in your teaching on a regular basis. Hang in there and thank you.

  18. anonymous says:

    Dan’s statement that Christian philosophy narrowly allows for straight people to have intimacy, love, and so-called “sexual release” simply disturbs me. It isn’t so much what is written that worries me (he does have some rationale, after all) as much as the fact this argument exists. Why has our society delegated (emotional) intimacy and love to marriage? I find it simply stupid that there should be a one person maximum on the amount of absolute trust and faith we can have. Although I agree physical connections can catalyze friendship, it’s odd to equate body contact with mutual belief in the other. Maybe this is just my life experience, but I don’t understand the connection.
    I don’t like the word “release” regarding sex. I’m stealing this from someone in my memory, but it turns sex into a bowel movement. Using my own life as an example, I’ve been asked a few times, recently, why I do not have a “girlfriend,” probably on the basis of my age and social status (this seems weird and elitist to write in an anonymous blog comment, but it is honest; if I was in need of a significant other it would not be that hard). Simply put, I’m a Christian and if God wants me to die an unmarried virgin, it wouldn’t be a loss. I have greater passions in life other than being distracted by hormones, (That’s what I wish I could say, but to be honest, I am distracted quite a bit.) Nevertheless, I really enjoy my life, sans “sexual release.” I’m totally straight and I think it is likely I will one day get married, but I’m open to the possibility of there not being anyone.
    I hear about far-right or semi-far-right Christians trying to reorientate sexualities of the “broken”, and it sounds like the wrong idea to me. If anyone, heterosexual or homosexual, single or married, cannot resist sex or lust (not mere sexual<i> feelings</i>) then the problem isn’t of orientation but of magnitude.
    On a tangent: I do not have any faith in this following statement, but I have toyed with it on occasion. I’m so scared to simply suggest it, I even put it as a question. <i>Is homosexuality God’s gift to help some resist heterosexual marriage?</i> If anyone isn’t exhausted by my late-nite ramblings, I’m curious about responses.

  19. e cho says:

    FNARF: look what i found in the spam box! you wrote so much that it went in there. God answered your prayers…

    you wrote so much that i don’t know where to start in my response.

    Kate: thanks for sharing those succint but powerful thoughts.

  20. Warren says:

    Hi,

    This topic is particularly sensitive, so if you will, please bear with me as I try to paint a new landscape for our journey towards the truth about who we are.

    I identify as a human.

    And let me just say at the outset that I don’t believe we are going to convince anyone of anything concerning identity (sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender roles) unless we have a foundation of empathy and compassion. So, all you bitter and angry bloggers out there, before you read my comment, you should probably give me a call first–and we can meet over coffee so you can vent, and I can listen. Don’t read this if you don’t intend on hearing me out.

    I believe that every one of us bears the image of the beautiful, communal, life-affirming God of Creation.

    I believe that every one of us and our communities also reflects a distortion and perversion of this identity.

    And while I’m not great enough a scholar to convince everyone on everything I believe, I would hope that we can all agree that beauty and ugliness co-exist in this world. And If we can agree on that, then the next nugget that follows is that these two natures rage inside each of us, revealed in our behavior towards ourselves and others… that we are simultaneously capable of the highest good and the darkest evil. That we can say, “I love you, Mom,” over the phone and in the same breath say “Fuck you,” as we wish death on the guy who cuts us off on the freeway.

    But this is where we might disagree:

    I believe that the way I am and the way things are–my behavioral problems and the status quo–just won’t cut it.

    I believe we must recover an identity that allows us to pursue freedom and wholeness as individuals, and fairness and dignity for others without the burden of guilt and shame that society and religious people often heap upon us.

    To recover this identity, Jesus Christ says (in no weak language) that the caveat is that I must embrace my death. Yet, as I do this, I end up finding true life.

    “The gay thing” is not the issue. Although people tried to make it the issue, It never was. At the core, it is about empathy and compassion. It is about acceptance and care. It should be about a common vigilance to shed all that is lesser in pursuit of what is right and just. People were created with dignity and should be treated with fairness, but everyone (Christian or not) misses the point. We all want to feel heard and loved.

    But it is when we say we are content with ourselves with regard to this core issue of love that we lose our ability to change the world. And, whether we admit it or not, most of us who want to see social reform need some grace and mercy every now and then.

    The problem here is that we all want to demonize others so that we can feel right. I personally think it’s much more freeing to admit that we got it wrong.

    After all is said and done, who we share our lives with and who we show love to will show what we really believe.

    The gay non-Christians will tell you who the real Christians are.

  21. Julie says:

    One comment on the gay marriage/inter-racial marriage discussion… For me, the analogy is a useful one in this discussion because it’s just as totally nonsensical to be opposed to gay relationships as it is to be opposed to inter-racial relationships. I don’t think the “is being gay the same thing as being black” conversation is the point, though. The point is that opposition to being gay or being black (or gay relationships or inter-racial relationships) is completely illogical and unable to be supported by any argument or rationale I have ever heard (which is why I am curious what Eugene’s rationale is on “the gay issue”).

    I am 29. In my grandparent’s generation, it was socially acceptable to be racist. My grandfather fought the in the Pacific theater in WWII and hated Japanese people. When I was 12, my best friend’s grandfather did not want us to see The Bodyguard because of the inter-racial relationship it portrayed (Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston). Behind his back, we laughed and rolled our eyes at him. Why would you care that a black woman and a white man were dating? It made absolutely no sense, and we just wrote it off to having grown up in a different time. For my generation, though racism still exists, it is not socially acceptable to be a racist or to disprove of inter-racial relationships (well, maybe at Bob Jones University, but in most circles anyways).

    My parents are not homophobic, but many of their generation are (I am using homophobia casually to mean everything from outright hatred of gays to “love the sinner, hate the sin”). In my generation, there are fewer who are homophobic, but it certainly still there. I sincerely believe (hope?) that in 20 years, my children and everyone of their generation will be rolling their eyes and thinking, how could anyone care that people are gay?

  22. RG says:

    Eugene,

    I find this situation to be ironic of sorts. You have been the first and only Christian pastor in the years that I’ve been to church that have regularly preached love, compassion, and grace to be extended to the Gay Community. You do this while still speaking of God and the nature of sin – and all of us are sinners. So, how is it that you’re being compared to other pastors and christian leaders that preach hate and intolerance on the Slog?

  23. Sarah says:

    Wow, what a beautiful mess this is. I am really glad to see such honest conversation from so many people, especially since it’s obvious that so many have been hurt by the Gay/Christian divide.

    Fnarf, you’re absolutely right, there is a lot discussion that’s been going on in the LGBT community that Christians are ignorant of, and I really appreciate reading your response, I think I learned a lot about the psyche of the LGBT community.

    I also agree with Katie, and want to apologize here as a Christian – or rather, a follower of Jesus (speaking of loaded words) – to any gay person I’ve offended merely by claiming the religion that has come to represent so much suffering in this world.

    Finally, thanks PE for your honesty. Praying for grace-filled conversations from both sides and that it won’t be over next week.

  24. Julie says:

    RG – I think it’s because for many gay people, this is a binary issue. Do you accept me as a human being as I am or not? There’s no middle ground. Obviously, everyone understands that there is a difference between pastors who scream from the pulpit that homosexuals are going to hell and someone who wants to engage in a respectful conversation, but who still believes in “love the sinner, hate the sin”. But, for people for whom this is an intensely personal, emotional issue, who have experienced so much hatred in their lives just for being who they are, sometimes it’s just tempting to lump everyone together – are you for me or against me?

  25. Tracy says:

    Lets not talk about Bob Jones University…that is too close to home. I worked/served with alot of students from that school back in the day. (hehehe…so I will not go there)

    Back on track, Pastor Eugene addressed some keys questions to Dan, which places a reciporal responsiblity; the responsibility the gay community has to the community as a whole.

    It far harder or more of a challenge to fight against an institution (i.e. church and their beliefs) but its far more rewarding to gain a friend with someone who will accept you where you are or for who you are and that doesn’t mean they have to agree with it all.

    My only concern with a debate like this is, is this venue. Talks like this need to be more personable, in my opinion.

    Keep it simple and fair.

  26. Blake says:

    Fnarf: Thank you so much for your perspective, and even more, the respectful and constructive way in which it was presented. I too am a member of Quest and think it is odd that P.E. is getting slammed like this, so much so that it kept me up for several hours after my initial reading last night when I was attempting to go to bed. lol. I spent the time wrestling with this issue in my head and trying to reconcile, refine, re-work my personal beliefs and views so that they would be more in line with the absolute love that God’s story is about. Although I disagree with one or two minor points that you made, you have given me a good deal to chew on and consider. Again, thank you very very very much for your input on this matter.

    Thank you to everyone, especially you P.E.

  27. e cho says:

    JULIE [dang, i really wish there was a numbering system for the comments] – thanks for your questions.
    it’s clear that i need to be careful with the loose word choices i have used like “gay issue” or “lifestyle” and such… i’m still thinking of a better term or phrase to describe what I’m alluding to.
    like many at quest, i don’t take the bible in its literal interpretation. the bible is an expression of God’s love. i have no problem saying that it is the word of God but cringe when words like inerrancy and infallibality are used. i don’t worship the Bible. i worship and love God. I worship and love Jesus. in my relationship with God, i acknowledge both my BEAUTY AND DEPRAVITY. I believe that I am a sinner – wicked, depraved, and hopeless on my own. I don’t mind sharing that because the depth of God’s love and grace is that much more profound as I reflect upon the nadir of my depravity.
    when people ask me my views about the “gay issue,” i answer it from the perspective that it is asked upon me. i am a pastor. people come to me asking my views as a christian and as a pastor. i’ve found it difficult to dialogue with people with bible verses, exegesis, and such because our interpretations can be so different. even the so-called scholars of the Bible and Hebrew/Greek have varying opinions.
    the question i wrestle with is NOT “Does God love gays?” that’s an affirming yes.
    the question i wrestle with is “In God’s perfect creation, before the Fall of humanity, is homosexuality what God intended?

    JULIE and OTHERS – I’ll be in and out of town for the next few days so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m unable to regularly chime i here as I’m unsure of my internet access.
    peace…
    e

  28. Jon says:

    Like Dan Savage, my partner and I are adoptive parents. Our “gay lifestyle” is tending to our family. When choosing a church, we don’t settle for one that is “welcoming but not affirming”. It’s not healthy for us and it’s not healthy for our sons.

  29. Fnarf says:

    Well, Eugene, I personally think that YES, homosexuality is what God intended, because if he didn’t, why are there so many of them? I can’t believe that something so basic to how people are can possibly be considered a sin.

    I do understand how some kinds of gay BEHAVIOR can be considered a sin. I don’t agree, but that’s not important. As long as your position on sexual behavior is honest and true and consistent, it’s your belief. No one has ever suggested that pastors should bless anonymous sex in bathhouses or those hideous rainbow flags if they don’t like them.

    There are of course all kinds of heterosexual BEHAVIOR that various churches frown on, and non-sexual behaviors as well. But we’re not talking about behavior; we’re talking about IDENTITY.

    Look at my example again. A heterosexual man commits a bunch of sexual offenses — not crimes, just sleazy behavior that the church doesn’t approve of. He comes to you and says “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have, I won’t do it anymore”. He, I’m sure, would be completely welcomed back into the arms of the church, and no one would say anything about “well, we’re not opposed to your basic sexuality, just the way you have expressed it”. But that IS what you are saying to gays.

    You’re saying, “I’m uncomfortable with who you are”.

    You’re saying “I know it’s not a choice, but it sure looks like a choice to me, so I’m going to act as if it was one — but I want credit for agreeing that it’s not a choice anyways”.

    The person who needs to step in here and talk to you is a homosexual Christian, who can tell you from their perspective how they arrived at the position they hold. I probably can’t go any further with you here. But I know that many Christians HAVE come to a way of thinking where they can accept and embrace homosexuals.

    I think you’ll find that most homosexuals are not all that interested in having straight people agree that they have a right to exist. They don’t want your approval; they want your absolute acceptance. Homosexuals are God’s creations too. Aren’t they? There’s all kinds of people in the world.

    I struggled with this a long time ago, but not anymore. Now, it’s a complete non-issue with me. I love my homosexual brothers and sisters exactly as much as my straight ones, in exactly the same way. Look at it this way: I don’t want to have sex with them, but I don’t want to have sex with most straight people either. When I’m hanging out with my buddies, we’re not having sex; we’re enjoying life. What kind of sex we have isn’t an issue; I don’t know and I don’t care. Homosexuality is just part of life, the same as heterosexuality is. The sexual impulse is a really weird and confusing part of the brain, anyways.

    And remember this, too: when you suppress it, you damage people. You damage people when you turn them away from your heart, and when you say “I’ll accept your presence, but I don’t agree with what you are”. And one of the biggest ways you damage people is by turning them against THEMSELVES.

    Look at some of the high-profile incidents recently. Look at Ted Haggard. Here’s a man who as much as any man on earth wants to be straight. But he can’t. And he hates what he is inside, and that hate drives him to completely insane acts. Not just the sex he sought out, or the drugs, but the deeply perverted words of “Christianity” he made himself speak in his church. You say you’re wrestling with whether God intended homosexuality? What do you think God’s view of one of His spokesmen on earth using his pulpit to express self-loathing like that?

    It’s the most tragic thing on earth, seeing a man who believes that he himself is an abomination before his God. But that’s where people end up.

    A lot of homosexuals frankly don’t care. They don’t go to your church, they don’t talk to you or other Christians, they live their lives the way they want to. They’re denied some basic rights but on a day-to-day basis they are to a large extent untouched by bigotry. That’s the whole point of having gay cities and gay neighborhoods. In fact, a lot of what gets called “the gay lifestyle” was created specifically because they’ve been excluded from “the straight lifestyle” for so long, at least if they want to be honest.

    But a lot of homosexuals, closeted ones, are afraid and terrorized. They’re terrorized by their own thinking, terror that is reinforced by their surroundings, if they live in an anti-gay Christian congregation. Think about what that would be like for a minute.

    I know you don’t think the race argument is valid, but think about it for a minute. Think about a black, or mixed-race person who is light enough to “pass”. they can pass for white, but that means that when they live in the white world they are constantly denying themselves. Denying yourself? I think that’s worse, ,more painful, more damaging, than denying God. Remember, too, that in parts of the US, until quite recently, you were “black” if you were as much as 1/16 black — 1/32nd black and you were “white”. Do you really want to revive that kind of destruction of personhood?

  30. Fnarf says:

    Blake: Pastor Eugene isn’t getting “slammed”. Please step away from the victimhood a little! It’s a delicate discussion — for you guys, and for us. It’s hard for you to find a way to discuss homosexuality openly and directly without giving offense, and it’s hard for people like me to find a way to discuss Christianity without giving offense. The whole point of this discussion is that we are, I hope, both setting aside the emotional aspects of our grievances here. If you want to progress, you’ll let your toes get stepped on a little. That’s how it works, if you want it to work.

    I am willing to let you get a little offensive if you need to, as you learn how to talk about the issue. It’s like I always say, “how do I know where the line is if I don’t cross it a little here and there?” People, especially in today’s political climate, are all set to jump up at even the tiniest perceived offense. I think if you want to get somewhere here we both have to let that down a little.

    No one is getting slammed. The people who are slamming you (and they exist, you’d better believe it!) are not here on this forum.

  31. Toby says:

    e cho:
    I mean this criticism constructively: Your greatest weakness in your discourse lies in your use of allusions. “i’m still thinking of a better term or phrase to describe what I’m alluding to,” you say in your precious post.

    Stop alluding. Just say it. We’re all grown up, and dancing around the issue with allusions that are subject to misinterpretation will only lead to further misunderstandings. Just say exactly what you mean, and we’ll go from there.

    You also wrote:

    “In God’s perfect creation, before the Fall of humanity, is homosexuality what God intended?”

    I think you need to explain that more fully. If the answer to that is “No”, what does that mean, exactly, for those who are not purely heterosexual?

    Would that make them a mistake? Sounds a little harsh to me. Or do you mean to imply that homosexuality is the devil’s work, thereby making homosexuality satanic in nature? (I’m asking, not assuming that’s what you meant). Those are the only two explanations I can think of which involve an answer of “No”.

    I fail to see any productivity in even asking that question. It is a question which cannot be answered, as God’s intentions cannot be fully known by mankind. But in asking it, we invite people to answer it anyway. And as I have shown, some of the answers to that question invite bigotry of the worst kind.

    As well ask if God meant for there to be people with allergies. The question of whether or not allergies were “intended to exist by God before the fall” is a question nobody ever asks — because it is ridiculous. And I contend it is just as ridiculous to ask that of homosexuality.

  32. Fnarf says:

    Except, Toby, that allergies are a defect, while homosexuality is not. That’s the crux of the issue. But your basic point is a good one.

    A better analogy would be blue eyes and brown eyes. Chad, way up above, said about race “you cannot hide your skin color”, but you can hide your eye color. What if everyone was wearing sunglasses? The “sunglasses of homosexuality” (oh, dear, that’s bad, but hang on) is the fact that we’re not having sex. I mean, really, when someone says to me “I’m gay” or “I’m straight”, what meaning does it have TO ME if I’m not going to have sex with him or her? Frankly, I don’t even know (or care) if they’re telling the truth or not.

    But some people believe that being homosexual is against God’s perfect creation. There’s your issue.

    Put it this way: if I came into your church and said “I’m homosexual, but celibate; I’ve never had a gay sexual experience, even though I want to”, would you affirm him?

  33. Wayne Park says:

    Eugene: bravo.
    Fnarf: bravo.
    This should become a book or something. Everyone needs to read this.

    Confirmed what I suspected: Clearly there is injustice; this has become a new civil rights movement.

    After reading the other side, I see the (C)hurch is more clearly in the Pharisee tradition now more than ever.

  34. Jennifer says:

    I know this is a hard and uncomfortable conversation. But I think its an important one, and I’m so glad for a place like there were people can just try to be honest and say what they think. Thanks for creating this kind of space, Eugene.

    Fnarf – I really appreciate so much of what you have said. While I disagree with you on some points, I need to hear what you’re saying and I appreciate you taking the risk to show your heart. I’m wondering though, do you recognize the importance of the listening to the voices of those who recognize their attraction to the same sex, and yet choose to not act on it because of their Christian beliefs? Not every Christian who is attracted to the same sex is a Ted Haggard living in denial about it. Some are people with lots of self-awareness and openness about where they are – but, for their own personal reasons, they choose to not act on it. It’s not self-hatred, or denial of who they are. I think that perspective is important too in this conversation. I’d hate to paint an un-nuanced picture of Christians who are attracted to the same sex as either being fully accepting of it (and therefore healthy) or in denial about it (and looking like Ted Haggard). There is a legitimate middle ground where many Christians live of their own free choice.

    At the end of the day, I want to love people and their sexual attraction does not get them included or excluded from that any more than their eye color. I just want to point out that there is a very wide range of healhyt positions that Christians can take on this. I have friends who are Christians and homosexuals. They have no desire to change, and I have no desire to ask them to. But, I also know people who recgonize their attractions, and choose not to live by them – and that is a healthy and legit choice for them too.

  35. Toby says:

    Yes, Fnarf, you are absolutely right: allergies are a flaw, homosexuality is not.

    I chose my example on the basis that no matter what you or I say, some will still see homosexuality as a fault of some kind. In fact, the question itself implies (heck, it screams) that homosexuality may be a flaw. I was attempting to illustrate how the question is moot either way.

    Flaw or not, it makes no difference. It is still a ridiculous question to ask, as the question has no real productive answer. People with allergies are not condemned or beset upon by Christians for having allergies. They are not forbidden to have allergic reactions by their church.

    Homosexuals will still be homosexuals, regardless of the answer, and if it is a “flaw”, it is still wrong to deny them the right, the need, to be accepted.

  36. Fnarf says:

    Jennifer, I think it’s really sad to think that there are people who don’t have any sexual expression at all, because that’s what their religious beliefs tell them is necessary. Because that’s what it sounds like you’re saying: it’s OK to be homosexual as long as you don’t “act on it”, i.e., have any sex at all.

    That sounds soul-destroying to me.

    Think about it: I want to, but I mustn’t. You are still fighting yourself. And by “want to” I’m not even necessarily talking about sex; I’m talking about the freedom to love one another. A healthy Christian heterosexual marriage is about a million other things besides sex acts. Are these denied to homosexuals too? Must they say “no, I want a life companion, but I mustn’t act on it”?

    Sure, this might work for some people, but not for many.

    Is there a different middle way, that says that sexuality is part of God’s creation whatever form it takes? Obsessive adherence to the strictest possible understanding of “the rules” can get in the way of God’s love. Love is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Paul in the second letter to the Corinthians, 3:16: “the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life”. (Oh, no, I’m quoting scripture, not a good sign at all).

  37. [...] do this because Eugene’s convo w/Dan Savage of The Stranger on homosexuality and religion is an eye-opening, enlightening, [...]

  38. clarity says:

    Jennifer,
    Yes, this might be “hard and uncomfortable” for you. It is hard for people to admit that they are oppressing others…you can say all of the things that make you feel better, “I want to love people.” But at the end of the day you are still being bigoted and discriminatory towrds and entire group of people simply because of who they are. Alos, I disagree that it is a healthy and legit choice to not act on love. If you love someone and deny it in order to live up to the standards of your religion, you are not embracing your true self.

  39. Jennifer says:

    Fnarf,

    I understand that it seems outrageous, even impossible, to you. You are totally free to hold that opinion.

    I guess it doesn’t seem that odd to me because I know Christian heterosexuals who, for their own reasons, choose to live in celibacy. They freely choose it. And they are happy with their choice. Who am I to tell them they are living a soul-destroying life? I don’t see why Christians who are attracted to the same sex would be any different. The life of celibacy, when freely chosen, is a legitimate Christian option that is not an expression of self-hatred. This is a long-standing part of our tradition that some people follow for their own reasons. Who am I to say that is a choice that makes them less than whole?

    While I would never want to try and change anyone who didn’t want to change…I also wouldn’t want to withhold support from those who freely choose celibacy (or even those who, despite the presence of same-sex attractions, still pursue heterosexual marriage). I respect your opinion, and I understand that we may differ here…but I just think if we’re going to talk about this issue we should use the full spectrum of colors, not just 2 polarized ends of the spectrum.

  40. Toby says:

    “I also know people who recgonize their attractions, and choose not to live by them – and that is a healthy and legit choice for them too.”

    Jennifer, unless you were also referring to hetersexuals who chose to be celibate, I’ll have to disagree with you too.

    Celibacy, in and of itself, is fine and dandy when freely chosen. When a group of people are encouraged (by being told their sexual preferences are evil or sinful or what have you) to take up celibacy so that they will be deemed “more acceptable” to another group which does not have to practice celibacy… well that’s a double-standard, to say the least.

  41. Toby says:

    LOL

    And I see that you were, Jennifer.

    The last paragraph of my previous post is still relevant, though.

  42. [...] a breakthrough article from our colleagues down in Seattle that wrestles with this issue. And some of the more quotable [...]

  43. Jennifer says:

    Toby,

    LOL :-)

    Yes, that is what I was trying to get at. I wouldnt want to force celibcy on anyone either.

    I’m just trying to say that there is a whole lot of middle ground between Ted Haggard (has attractions, but keeps them secret) and a Christian who acts on their same sex attractions.

  44. Jeff says:

    I highly recommend that everyone read Christopher Hitchens book “god is not Great”. It is often the case that Christians get little more then a handful of the same old verses quoted to defend fundamentalist theology. Just bromides. Rather then simply studying the bible, study also Christian history, especially the history of the church. Some resources’:

    1. Any Bishop Spong’s books.
    2. “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Erman

    If you are encourged to explore for yourself and respected for doing such by your pastor, then you are in a church. If not you are in a cult. I don’t see Quest as a cult though.

    Then reach your own conclusions, not Cho’s or the popes, etc

  45. Julie says:

    Okay, so people, both heterosexual and homosexual can choose to be celibate if they want. I’m not sure where that gets us in this discussion. Particularly if we’re saying that the reasons either a Christian heterosexual or a homosexual would would choose to be celibate are the same. If for some reason the Christian homosexual has *extra* reason to be celibate because there is something in their “Christian beliefs” that indicates so, well, I think that’s what Fnarf/Toby/myself would object to.

    I’m still thinking about Eugene’s question.. “In God’s perfect creation, before the Fall of humanity, is homosexuality what God intended?” I agree that knowing what the implications of a yes or a no answer to this question would be helpful in the discussion. Or an example of something that is and is not what God intended. But, “homosexuality is not what God intended in God’s perfect creation” would be a rationale for not affirming homosexuality that I have not heard before, so I’d like to understand where you’re coming from.

    Other arguments that are given by “non-affirming” people basically boil down to, because the Bible said so, because it’s unnatural, because it’s yucky, or because it cannot result in procreation or the expression of marital love — none of which are even remotely convincing or logical to me.

  46. Justin says:

    I appreciate the fact that this conversation has been so civil and I don’t wish to be nitpicky but, using celibate homosexual christians as some sort of excuse for the behavior of most Christian churchs on the issue steams me a bit. It amazes me that “Celibate Gay Christians” are some sort of class apart. That they alone of all peoples gay or straight, christian or non have come to the conclusion that gay sex is sinful and they stay celibate for a closer walk with God. Because obviously the choice is made completely outside the context of what Christian churchs are teaching about the sinfulness of the gays. They must make their decisions based in some sort of vacumn, and having decided to be celibate they can then be used to allow demonization of gay people because if you were a good person you’d just be celibate like them. It seems like if must be back breaking work.

  47. Jennifer says:

    Julie,

    I hear your objection about Christians who have same-sex desires choosing celibacy because of those desires. And, in a very real sense, I’m with you – I wouldn’t want any group forcing that decision on any other group.

    But I also think a Christian person who is attracted to the same sex can admit that is how they are, and still decide to embrace celibacy (or even heterosexual marriage) because they are also something else besides that. Sexuality is not the only thing that defines us. I just don’t see what is wrong with a person who says that they want to put their desire aside because of their religious belief – if they are freely choosing to do so (we all agree that forcing this on anyone – subtly or overtly – is wrong). If someone says their same-sex desires are an “extra” reason they are freely choosing celibacy, who are we to say that is unhealthy? Shouldn’t people be allowed to define themselves by the beliefs they freely choose? We call could list any number of grids through which we define ourselves…I don’t see any reason to be upset if someone wants to give one grid priority over another grid. That is one totally healthy option for some people.

  48. Tracy says:

    I have question: why can’t the christian view of “welcoming but not affirming” be respected by some in the gay community?

  49. Phelix says:

    As a queer boy, growing up in a fundamentalist church north of Seattle, the message of love and tolerance were never the focus. My pastor had messages like “Is it Joyful to be Gay”, he still has that one on tape/CD. My Youth Pastor had stories of people he knew who had “come out of the sin of homosexuality”… he also had stories of people who fell back into that “sin” and contracted AIDS and died of it.

    Eventually, with the help of another online community and some good friends in my Real Life, I learned a bit more… I looked into the scriptures myself, and have come to a point where I accept the fact that I am physically attracted to men and women. I also accept that my God loves me, cares for me, and wants the best for me. Another aspect of my Faith is that I know that I am doing my best to follow Christ’s example, to love my God and my neighbors, but I also know that I fail. I’m not aware of all my failures, but they happen. No one failure, though, is larger than any other. A white lie to my supervisor is no greater than losing my temper and swearing up a storm at an inanimate object.

    I do think sex before marriage is something to be careful of, very careful. I do think God meant for people to find a mate and to live with that person, to grow with that person, to worship God with that person. In Genesis, God made Adam and Eve… he took a rib from Adam to make Eve, she was truly flesh of his flesh, his equal and his partner. That is what I am looking for. A man or a woman who completes me, who helps me be a better me, who helps me get closer to God.

    I am sorry if this got rambly.

    Phelix

  50. clarity says:

    Jennifer,

    It’s not really about sexuality, it’s about love. Love defines us. I believe that to deny love is to deny what makes us human. Embracing celibacy is denying an experience of love and thus in my opinon it is not optimal human functioning. True, there are people who have extremely low sex drives and thus celibacy fits them but that is a deviation from normal human functioning.

  51. Justin says:

    Tracy,
    Probably for the same reason Blacks in the 1950’s weren’t crazy about the policy of being welcome to eat at the diner, as long as they used the service entrance and had their meal in the kitchen.

  52. Julie says:

    Jennifer – I’m not objecting to a Christian homosexual choosing celibacy at all. They could choose celibacy for the same reasons a heterosexual could choose it – because they find themselves unable to control their desires, they don’t like who they are when they are sexually active, they want to live celibate for a time to concentrate on other things (I’m am just making these reasons up, I’m sure there are others).

    What I object to in the situation where a homosexual “puts their desire aside because of their religious belief”, is that their religious belief tells them that homosexual acts are in and of themselves sins. That’s all.

    I guess it’s possible that if a gay person grew up on a desert island free from any outside religious influences, that they would somehow come to the conclusion by themselves that homosexuality was immoral. But, I highly doubt it.

  53. Tracy says:

    Justin, I don’t think I follow and yes I am Black. Here is why, if I am invited to someone’s home and I have to respect their property or/and home. For example, they may want me to remove my shoes before I entering into their home and I do. Out of respect. Note the word: respect.

  54. Phelix says:

    Tracy:

    Try to think of it like a parent/child relationship. The church is the mother, the gay/queer person is the child. Say the child has gone off and done something like pierced their eyebrow, or dyed their hair, or had a quickie marriage in Vegas. The mother could say “I welcome you home, I love you, I still want you here, but I reject the choice you’ve made.”

    That mother is expressing her disapproval at the child’s choice, she’s trying to lean on the child to change the choice into something the mother would approve.

    Say, that child came home pregnant, or with a living, kicking baby, that child was herself a mother. That’s something about who she is, something deeper than a piercing or hair color. “I welcome you home, but I reject your choice to have this baby.”

    It’s much the same with the Church and queerness. “We welcome you into God’s home, but we reject your choice to love those whom you are attracted to.”

    “We welcome you to worship God with us, but reject a core part of who you are.”

  55. Jennifer says:

    Clarity,

    I understand that you would not want to choose celibacy for yourself. I have no problem with that.

    I do really disagree with your idea that to embrace celibacy is to deny love, and not function as fully human. I know people who have embraced celibacy and are beautiful human beings that live lives full of much love.

  56. Anne says:

    This discussion is difficult in part because it’s not clear what Pastor Cho’s attitudes actually are. Perhaps this is unreasonable, but I’m going to take a guess:

    Homosexual sex is inherently sinful. But Jesus tells us we are all sinners, and the best we can do is sin as little as we can, and do as much good as we can. He further tells us to love our fellow people, sinner or no. So how are we to deal with people whose only attraction is to the same sex?

    (I should say, though it will probably be obvious, that I don’t agree with this.)

    Is this belief compatible with a loving God? Well, it seems to me it presents no new problems. In this view, gay people must remain celibate to avoid sin, who can never have a sexual relationship if they are to be good Christians. This is cruel. But God *is* cruel – from the digger wasp, that paralyzes its prey so that its larvae can eat the prey alive from the inside out, to people struck by illnesses and accidents that leave them unable to have sex, God is that cruel any way you cut it. There are various explanations for this – it’s a test, God is mysterious, whatever, but making homosexuals for a life of suffering is not particularly exceptional.

    Even a secular point of view accepts that there are some people whose desire is sinful and who can never indulge it. It seems clear that some pedophiles are as immovably fixed on children as some gay people are on people of the same sex. We accept that adults having sex with children cannot be permitted, and in doing so we accept that these people can never have their desires satisfied. Some countries provide chemical castration in an effort to extinguish these people’s desires.

    It seems to me that it’s a perfectly consistent point of view – that some people simply need to resist their desires, no matter how immovable they are. It’s even a view that I share, in that generality.

    There is a key difference: I accept that pedophiles must suppress their desires because it does harm. I can see it in the lives of people who were molested as children, and it is heartbreaking. That desire is not okay. But I do not see that homosexuality is such a problem. I don’t see how homosexual sex, in and of itself, harms anyone.

    The whole problem arises, as far as I can see, from the idea that homosexual sex is wrong. This is stated unequivocally several places in the Bible, so I can understand that it is difficult for Christians to avoid accepting it. It is possible to weasel out of it by arguing about translations and cultural interpretations, but this is, frankly, disingenuous. The meaning is clear. This, it seems to me, is the problem facing kind compassionate Christians.

  57. Justin says:

    Tracy,
    I certainly can understand that, but the idea that a person is welcome but not affirmed leaves me with the sense that I’m being invited by someone polite enough to not want to let me know they find me offensive, but still believes that I’m less than and immoral. It’s much like the hate the sin but love the sinner arguement that is often made. I grew up in the bible belt going to Baptist churches. I was taught that meant that we were all sinners and the highest good was loving each other. If you start with the idea you’re welcome, but your less than and will have to change what’s objectional before you can even be on an equal footing and deserving of the same respect given to a straight person, well that doesn’t seem all that welcoming much less anything else.
    It may be at least partly a question of semantics, something we queens tend to be a bit sensitive about. And I certainly try to remember that Christians are people, trying the best they can and that the most vocal and hateful certainly aren’t the whole picture. They just tend to make the most noise.

  58. Julie says:

    Tracy… for me, the reason why I can’t accept the “welcoming but not affirming” view is that I want to know why. Why do you not affirm? And, every single time I have asked that question (and about a hundred more why’s after that – I’m like a 2 year old that way), I have not been satisfied with the reasons. I generally find them to be untrue, contradictory, or illogical.

    I should mention, if I haven’t already, that I am not gay. I just am really interested in the topic of why people believe the things they do, how do they come to believe what is right and wrong, etc. And “not affirming” stances in the modern era totally baffle me.

  59. Callie says:

    While I don’t have much to add to the conversation, as you are all more than aptly eloquent and each time I had a response to a post, someone else responded to said post with what I was thinking, I still want to say that this whole thread makes me SO HAPPY. Even when I was almost to the bottom of the comments and was simply going to say “Everyone needs to read this!” WaynePark had it covered. Not that it really matters here, since I’m not adding to the discussion, but for the record I stand with Dan and Fnarf and the others in my beliefs about the social injustices the glbt communities face every day. I just want to thank all of you for engaging in one of -if not THE – most eloquent and intelligent discussions on this matter that I’ve ever borne witness to. This gives me hope.

  60. Phelix says:

    Anne:

    It is not unequivocally stated in the Bible. those verses are constantly debated and reinterpreted. Their meanings are hazy at best. The word “homosexuality”, even the concept of an orientation other than men lusting after women and vice versa, is very new. It simply wasn’t around when the Bible was first put to paper.

    The link I put below looks at all of the instances in the Bible used to argue either for or against homosexuality. It lays out both the Conservative and the Liberal views, but does not reach a conclusion. The site’s goal is not to convert people to one belief or another, rather to inform people.

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibl.htm

  61. Jon says:

    Jennifer, what sane straight person would marry a gay person? (or vice versa?) They are totally mismatched. You’re essentially setting up a lifelong hurdle for everyone involved in that marriage.

    I work with a woman who was urged by her pastor to marry a struggling gay man. The marriage lasted roughly five years before they divorced. Except now there are two kids and a struggling bitter single mom and a gay man who is bitter towards the church.

    What foolishness….

  62. timbo says:

    Jennifer
    The problem with choosing celibacy, in the catholic church anyway, is it isn’t a choice. It is an either or. The option isn’t be celibate or don’t be celibate it’s either you’re in or you’re out. There isn’t a be openly homosexual having a commited homosexual relationship and be catholic.

  63. RG says:

    To tag on the house metaphor, I wouldn’t use the Mother and Child example. It’s child and child. The Church is called to be the Bride of Christ. Christians are sinners just like everyone else. They’re not perfect. They are called to be stewards. So, they are not the ones to create the rules of the House.

  64. Jon says:

    I’m all for gay men or lesbians freely choosing celibacy. Heck, Paul encourages us all to choose celibacy. But he recognizes that it is not for everyone.

    The church offers straight people the choice of celibacy vs. marriage. Overwhelmingly, most churches give gay people the choice of celibacy or dis-fellowship. And religious folks battle against most secular options that gays could make that would help them/us make positive healthy choices (monogamous marriages/civil unions/domestic partnerships/whatever; parenting options; church fellowship; non-secretive service to country through the military).

    And then they point out the dysfunction (promiscuity, drug use, STDs, depression, isolation, etc.) and cite those as justifications for denying the gay community those other stabilizing infulence.

  65. Tracy says:

    Julie-
    Likewise as a Christian I can argue the same logo as you just gave me, using reasons I believe are true, reconcilable, and logical.

    Justin-
    I understand you and hear you. I can’t speak for all Christians, Justin, however we are trying to just live out a beautiful faith in God. This generation of Christians are more sensitive and open to the social issues of world than we have ever been. It is not our intentions to hurt with our religious rhetoric.

    The gay community as well is responsible to respecting the Christian views. They may not make sense or seem reasonable but they are “some” Christian’s point of views.

  66. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    I believe I may have stumbled into the wrong place.

  67. desmond says:

    Julie,

    The conversation is going to get to a gridlock. From a human level, of course, everyone wants to affirm. Aren’t there things or choices that people make that you don’t affirm?

    I’m simply making a point here so don’t jump on me. In this conversation, many make the argument that to exclude is bigotry and hatred. Would you affirm incest? Would you affirm polygamy?

    If not, why not? If you say you wouldn’t, where does your sense of “right and wrong” come from?

  68. desmond says:

    Goodness, check out Mrs. T. D. Gaines’ blog. You’re welcome here. We’re welcoming but not affirming. :)

  69. Torrie says:

    Fnarf, So, I understand what you’re saying but if I believe – through study and prayer – that God is not pleased with homosexual relationships, isn’t it fair for a Christian to honor that conviction?

    Now, I agree that the Church is hypocritical and that they’ve been MEAN but if that’s what they believe, isn’t the best posture for them to be “welcoming but not affirming.”

  70. Kevin Lyda says:

    Tracy Says: “I have question: why can’t the christian view of “welcoming but not affirming” be respected by some in the gay community?”

    I’m not a member of the gay community and I don’t respect it. It’s passive-aggressive disapproval. People have a right to their opinions; they do not have the right to expect those opinions to receive respect.

    The bible has been used to justify a plethora of hate and bigotry. Against Jews, against blacks, against Indians and against gays.

    People go to church for community. To bring their families together with other families. To celebrate births, to mourn deaths, to affirm commitments. Where does that leave those who are welcomed but not affirmed? Where does that leave a lesbian family who just gave birth to their first child? Where does that leave a gay man mourning his life partner? Where does that leave a gay couple going through a rough patch in their relationship? Where does that leave the child of gay parents when one parent is ill?

    What does the church offer them?

    Welcome but not affirmed.

    Affirmation is a form of respect. You want gay Christians to respect disrespect. That borders on cruel.

  71. Blake says:

    Wow… lots of dialog in the past few hours. I’ll have to catch-up over the weekend.

    FNARF: My apologies for the assumption of getting “slammed.” I wasn’t referring to your words at all, just elements of this discussion in general. Again, my apologies. I want to step as far away from victim-hood as possible. Frankly this is the most intense discussion I’ve ever participated in on this particular delicate topic so my senses are not as “tempered” as I’d like them to be–hence the perceived “slamming” that truly wasn’t occurring. I wish we could discuss this in person because I believe there is a lot I could learn from you, though I fear your intellect would dominate my own. ;-)

    Everyone here has helped me open my eyes to the lgbt community’s reality and have helped me to better understand the pain that my own lesbian aunt has experienced. Thank you all so very much. I mean this in the most respectful, humble, sincere way possible. If my verbal fumblings have cause offense, please forgive me.

    Enjoy your weekend everyone.

  72. e cho says:

    Hey folks,
    Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability…
    I get it. I understand that “welcome but not affirmed” can be cruel, I don’t know of other words to somehow capture my thoughts. The motivation isn’t cruelty.
    The church has much to answer to. We have been mean, cruel, oppressive and such. But the church has also been responsible for much good as well. My desire is not to put the church on trial because we know it’s guilty already.
    As I LISTEN to this dialogue here and the numerous emails that have come to me, I want people to somehow know that I don’t revel in my conviction. I’m not gloating in my position. But while I seek to be culturally relevant and senstive to HUMAN observation, I am ultimately, as a follower of Jesus, seeking to be guided by Jesus.
    I know what Jesus would do…He would love, welcome, receive, dine, drink, etc. But I also believe he died on the cross for the sins of the world which include my own.
    I’m listening and learning…

  73. SDA in SEA says:

    I’ll start by stating that I’m gay.

    “Welcoming but not affirming” is a polite way to say “I’ll be nice to you even though I loath a core component of your being”. Or “I’ll be nice to you because God says so, but inside you disgust me”.

    I suppose it is less hateful than some of the bile that has dripped out of the mouths of Ted Haggard or Jerry Falwell, but you can’t really expect me to get too enthused about that, can you?

    I can respect that you’ve been taught that, and have not learned to think otherwise. I can respect that we may never agree on some theological issues. That is totally fine, as long as you don’t try to shove your Christian beliefs down my throat.

    But that is exactly what many Christians (not necessarily Quest or Pastor Cho) do all the time. I have lived with my boyfriend for over 20 years. By denying me the right to civil marriage, you deny me over 1000 civil rights, every day of my life. It is not atheists who are denying my partner and I these rights, it is people who call themselves Christians.

    So excuse me if I’m a little intolerant of that viewpoint.

  74. lymerae says:

    I wish I had more time to make a better contribution to this discussion, but here’s a small note for now:

    Re: “In God’s perfect creation, before the Fall of humanity, is homosexuality what God intended?”

    If it wasn’t, how do you explain the widespread, documented evidence of homosexual relations among the animal kingdom? Doesn’t that seem to suggest that homosexuality is an inherent part of creation? (Note, please, that I am not trying to imply in any way that homosexual sex is somehow more bestial than heterosexual sex. Animals engage in both. Humans engage in both. I’m trying to argue that they are both natural aspects of God’s creation.)

    And if you do try to argue that homosexuality is not a part of “God’s perfect creation,” where does that leave you on gays, if you honestly believe that homosexuality is not a choice? Either you stand by the tenet that all human beings are created in the image of God, and all equally reflect an image of the divine, or you’re saying that some human beings were created sinful. Why would God do that? Why would God create a subclass of human beings that were somehow less holy than the rest?

    I’ve seen the argument, in response to the above, that homosexuality is simply a manifestation of the tendency to sin–that it is a stronger-than-normal inclination towards evil in certain individuals. But as Fnarf has so eloquently argued, homosexuality is not an inclination so much as a profound element of one’s identity. Moreover, if you do view homosexuality as a tendency towards sin, I can’t see that you could offer any advice towards gays on how to live a moral life other than to remain celibate all their days. And despite what has been argued above by Jennifer and others, I can’t understand a God that would desire an entire subclass of human beings to live their lives celibate, not simply by choice (as in the case of priests), but because of who they are–because they are homosexual and they have no legitimate, moral way to express their sexual desires. I happen to believe that sexuality in all forms can be a very spiritual experience, and that loving sex between life partners can be one of the best ways to become closer to God. To deny that intimately holy experience to all gay people seems nothing short of cruel.

  75. Fnarf says:

    Torrie, please understand this: I understand that you disagree. But you, or rather your church, or Eugene’s church — I don’t really know who y’all are — are the ones asking for something here. You want acceptance from the gay community. Gay people are hardly breaking down the door to get into your church. In this particular instance, you are the ones asking for something. And we’re telling you what you will have to do to get it.

    I understand if you can’t do it. I don’t agree with it, and no, I will not be “your friend” (nor do I understand why you would want to be).

    If you can’t affirm people, you can’t be surprised or upset if they won’t just sit there and take it. They’re going to turn away from you. That’s just human nature.

    I would be curious to know your specific reasoning — the study and prayer you mention — that brings you to that conclusion. What do you think homosexuals are? Or are doing? That’s a serious question.

    If homosexuals are “made that way”, how can that be displeasing to God? Does he make stuff that’s displeasing to him? Why? Does God ENJOY watching people suffer? Do honest Christians believe that they are called by God to make certain other people suffer? Where’s the Christ in that?

    If homosexuals are NOT “made that way”, then what is it that makes them that way? Is it evil? Do you believe that homosexuals have been drawn into their desires by Satan?

    Think about your own life. What would it take to make you become homosexual? To have a sexual encounter with someone of your own gender, and really enjoy it? I know what it would take for me — nothing — there is nothing on earth or anywhere else that could make me do that (the enjoying part, at least). It’s just not in me. No amount of drugs or temptation (temptation of what? How do you tempt a person with a thing that he doesn’t like?) could “turn me gay”.

    Gays are the same way. That’s what it boils down to, and as long as you believe that being gay is against God’s will, there’s really no point in continuing this any further. You’re basically saying to people, we welcome you, but we can never accept that you are a right person. No one with any self respect at all is ever going to sit still for that. They’ll just leave.

    Maybe that’s what has to happen. Maybe there is no reconciliation possible. And I will leave too. I want to have a fair dialogue but I won’t stand for my fellow humans being disrespected like that. I don’t stand for it the other way, either, as anyone who reads the Slog comments knows. I defend Christians there all the time.

    I would urge you to examine your hearts again though, and see if you can find some other way to think about homosexuality than the way you have been. I believe that the attitudes of Christian churches have helped create fiascoes like Ted Haggard — Haggard was not some small-potatoes random guy, you know — he was a very powerful evangelical player, who talked to the President of the United States EVERY WEEK. I know it’s unfair to say these guys represent you — I hear it all the time, that Christians lack good leadership at the top — but they DO represent you, and will, as long as no other viewpoint steps forward. And the crippling shame-making about a natural fact of life is doing YOU harm. It’s harmed the Catholic Church, possibly beyond repair, and it’s harming the Evangelicals.

  76. [...] …the gay conversation It’s been a busy and crazy day today.  We’re rearranging our staff offices; I’m dealing with […] [...]

  77. SDA in SEA says:

    Pastor Cho,

    I can see that you are trying. I can see that you want to be open. I want to try to answer your questions politely.

    No, it is NOT possible for me to be in a friendship with a person who holds a different position on the “gay issue”.

    It is a binary issue. It is either/or, black/white. Being gay is a core component of who I am, a fundamental part of who I am, just as being heterosexual is a core component of who 90% of the population is.

    I’m presuming you are heterosexual. How would you feel if I said that I disapprove of heterosexuality. I think it is morally wrong and against God’s design to be heterosexual. I think the only way you can be free of sin and be right in God’s eye is to become a homosexual, or at the very least suppress your heterosexuality, never speak of it, and never act on your heterosexual desires. Never speak to me about wanting a female mate or companion. I don’t want to hear about your desires for the opposite sex. But lets be friends, shall we? We can still be friends, can’t we? We’ll just talk about other stuff, like work, or the weather. What? You got fired from your job because you’re heterosexual? Well, if you didn’t act all heterosexual, maybe they wouldn’t have fired you. Just act like a homo next time, and maybe they’ll let you keep your job. We can still be friends right?

    Sound absurd? Yes. It is. Welcome to my world.

    So, no we can not be friends under your conditions. And yes, a friendship where we disagree on something so completely fundamental as sexual orientation is an extreme condition. I require that my friends be my friends without conditions like that. I can be polite to you. You can be polite to me. We can make nice in public. But we can never be friends under those conditions.

    I cannot meet you half way. I cannot change my position. To do so would be to close off and deny a core component of my self, of my being, of my soul if I have one.

  78. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    If someone could define “welcoming but not affirming” to me in regards to the topic of homosexuals within the church I would certainly appreicate it.
    As I mentioned earlier, I stumbled onto this site by accident and having read several of the posts, links, and articles linked cannot tell if this is a personal blog or a church blog.
    Many thanks.

  79. Fnarf says:

    Wow, Mrs. T. D. Gaines is a piece of work. She’s upset that Christians are seen as negative and judgemental, but her blog is nothing but a catalog of enemies, from “whoress Paris Hilton” to “sand niggers” (her commenter’s words, not mine) running gas stations, to “heliocentrics” postulating lies about the solar system — obviously the idea of a solar system is a liberal plot. Is she for real? Is she a regular visitor here? I hope not.

  80. Julie says:

    Desmond,

    My sense of right and wrong comes one basic tenet. Does the action directly or indirectly hurt yourself or someone else (physically, psychologically, emotionally, etc.). There could be some additionals to that basic tenet, if we really wanted to get into it. Does the action show a lack of respect for yourself or others? Does it demonstrate a lack of self-control? But that’s the basic one.

    So, I can quite clearly say that incest should not be affirmed. Polygamy would, in theory, be moral/ethical if no one was being lied to and if all parties were completely comfortable with the arrangement. In practice, this doesn’t really happen.
    This sense of right and wrong leads me to be more lenient than traditional Christian morality on some issues (e.g., smoking marijuana is okay, as long as you don’t let it interfere with leading a productive life), while being stricter on others (e.g., I believe it is immoral to buy a dog from a breeder rather than to adopt one from a shelter).

    How is this relevant to the conversation? Homosexuality harms no one. Dan Savage’s relationship with his partner does no physcial, psychological, or emotional harm to him or others. I challenge someone to come up with a reason why homosexuality is immoral or unethical that is not based on “because God said so”. If “because God said so” is the reason you believe it is immoral (note I did not say “because the Bible said so”), then we will be at an impasse because no one can argue with that.

  81. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    A pleasure to meet you too, Fnarf. Actually, I have been trying to show the loving side of Conservative Christians. From your warm welcome I see that we have much in common.

  82. Stacy says:

    Dear Eugene,
    Thank you for continuing in difficult conversation.
    Blessings,
    Stacy

  83. Original Monique says:

    Let me start by saying I am a straight, agnostic, woman who is married. I hope to see full equality for all gay people. It breaks my heart to see the injustice they face.

    @Torrie: “God is not pleased with homosexuality”.
    Although I am not religious, I would never presume to speak for a god. Jesus sat amongst the whores in Jerusalem (unless I am mistaken, haven’t read the bible in a long time). He didn’t try to convert them, or change them. He didn’t say “I accept you but I dont affirm you”

    He loved them, and kissed their feet, for they were gods children. What do you think that means? Being a prostitute is a choice. Homosexuality is not. So even with a choice that humans made and many would see as a “sin”, your god kissed their feet and loved them, truly loved them. Unconditionally loved them.

    So how can you say “god is not pleased with homosexuality”? How can you truly speak for a creator that did what I don’t think many or any church leader would do today?

    In addition, if you truly believe (as a person, through prayer and study) that it is wrong, why does it matter? Won’t it all get sorted out in your heaven? Why not be the most loving and accepting person, emulating the teachings of jesus? Do you think that somehow when you die, if you loved and accepted you fellow man fully, unconditionally that jesus/god would be mad at you? Do you think he would be upset that you brought as much love, light, and understanding as you could in a world of hate and bigotry?

    And god is supposed to be infallible, correct? Don’t you think that he wouldn’t be making a mistake then? He would have the power to stop it, and yet that has not occurred. As mentioned above, even animals are homosexually inclined. So if it was a mistake, then god would be fallible. I don’t think you believe that.

    I think that churches have so much potential. They can bring wonderful things out in people, and make people more aware of helping their fellow man. Why focus on what you think you should “not tolerate” and instead focus on all things that tolerance brings. How does that go against your teachings?

    @E Cho: I think this is truly a great conversation, open and honest. I applaud you for opening your heart to learn new things. =)

  84. Original Monique says:

    @Fnarf:

    You are always and forever my hero. A great, rational mind who is willing to teach. I know you get kudos all the time, but I wanted to give them to you again. See you on Slog.

  85. m@ says:

    It’s been a busy day, but I want to ask a few questions, simply because I’m a little steamed as well:

    1. The dialogue occurring on Eugene’s blog is diametrically opposite that happening on the Slog. Is anyone finding this odd that, ironically, the more constructive conversation is happening on the so-called “bigot”‘s personal webspace?

    2. clarity: The fact that I live a celibate life is apparently because I have a lower sex drive, yet you take it a step further and assume that I am ‘deviant from normal human functioning’.

    Aren’t I allowed to be extremely frustrated by this comment? On one hand, you’re suggesting that I’m deviant because of a biological condition that I have no control over. Otherwise, you’re implying that celibacy is a deviant social condition. Either way, I’m a deviant.

    However, I doubt you’d base a hypothetical friendship on my choice of being celibate (and to be clear, I take immense amounts of joy in platonic relationships and don’t feel as if my existence is cheapened because of my virginity). But you certainly wouldn’t consider my lifestyle as something in which you would participate. I can understand that, but do you see any parallels here?

    2a. I want to try to understand something based on the commentary that’s occurred here (and this is probably oriented toward SDA more than anyone): I personally do not find my identity in my sexual orientation, nor my race. Those are critical components, yes, but it is my faith and my commitment to social justice that define my very core. However, I am able to befriend people regardless of whether or not we align on those two principles.

    So SDA, why are you defined most by your sexual orientation? Unfortunately, a blog doesn’t express my sincerity in asking that, because I truly have longed to ask this question of some of my gay friends yet never seemed to find the courage.

  86. m@ says:

    p.s., I’m steamed at outside situations, not this topic, shoulda clarified. This is my release for the day. :)

  87. Original Monique says:

    @Desmond:

    I know you were not talking to me, but I will reply to your questions:

    1) Would you affirm incest?
    -Depends. Is it consensual? Studies have shown that children born of incest do not post higher risk of retardation, unless a bad gene runs in their family. And we all have bad genes in our families, yet we procreate… So if both people were consensual, of age adults I don’t care what they do. I would affirm them, if they wanted no matter how “icky” people think it is.

    2) Would you affirm polygamy?
    -Depends. Is it consensual? If both people are consensual, of age adults I don’t care what they do.

    You see, sexuality of other people does not affect me. It doesn’t affect my community. Non-consensual relationships do harm people, and they harm the community which is why it is not tolerated. I do not believe in heaven or god, but if I did I would still feel the same. It is not my place to judge what happens between 2 (+) people in the privacy of their own home. 2 people on the other side of the world having sex does not affect me. It does not threaten my values, doesn’t make my marriage different, etc. It truly, truly is not my concern.

    And if there is a heaven, I don’t think I would be excluded because of my acceptance of other people, not matter how “weird” others thought them, or their relationship was. Period.

  88. chad says:

    is it possible for Christians to enter into this conversation without pissing people off! it seems to be a no win situation. i guess i’ll keep trying…

    honest question: a few people have noted that denying their sexuality denies a “core component” of their identity. is this true? is, or should, our sexuality be a “core component” of our identity whether straight or gay?

  89. Fnarf says:

    What about love, Chad? Is love a core component of your personality? Shouldn’t people be free to love someone, when they feel love for that person?

    I have to say, if you’re going to back into a corner where you end up having to claim that sexuality isn’t important, you’re going to lose some people, and not just people on my side.

    And Chad, on a subject like this, in a forum like this, it’s OK to get pissed off, and to piss people off. That’s what’s good about it. It’s a neutral zone, a DMZ. If a Christian gets pissed off at me here, I’m going to let it go right on past me, and I hope you will do the same if I piss you off. You have that freedom. But try, here at least, to carry on with it. We can all go off and yell and scream our frustrations elsewhere afterwards.

    m@, I don’t think you’re a “deviant”. Well, let me rephrase that: yes, you ARE a deviant, because you deviate from the norm. But that’s OK. Everybody is deviant from the norm in some ways, and not in others. I do not see your celibacy as PEJORATIVELY deviant, if that makes any sense. You make peace with who you are, and if you do I’m happy for you. I want you to be happy a lot more than I want you to conform to somebody else’s plan.

    See, I want people to be happy. I want my gay friends to be happy, AND I want my Christian friends (if I have any after this) to be happy too. And what makes me happy is seeing the happiness of others, if that doesn’t sound too sappy.

    You know, in many ways I envy my gay friends, because unlike most straight people they’ve had to confront who they are in a difficult way. It’s got to be damned hard to take that step and admit it, yes, that is what I am, that is what I want. Whereas an awful lot of straight people never think about it, they just go through the motions of life, and it works pretty well for them most of the time. Gay people are, oftentimes, more aware, and it makes them a little bit more free. Sometimes.

    But you know, we grow up thinking all these things, and hearing all these things that make us fearful and doubtful. Not just anti-gay stuff, just all kinds of stuff. And I think that’s heartbreaking. In my own life accepting the gay in my gay friends has been liberating to me, as a straight person, in a way that’s hard to explain.

    I’m going to confess something painful in my own life here. When I was growing up, I was basically TERRIFIED from the time I was, I don’t know, twelve, thirteen, until well into my twenties, that I might be gay. I wasn’t even remotely interested in men sexually; I like girls. I like girls a LOT! But I was never a very manly man. I was physically small, and I liked to read, and I liked to hang out with girls sometimes, more than I liked to hang with boys, and I was terrible at any kind of sports, I cried easily and got all emotional easily, and I was a weird, shy, frightened oddball kid. And I liked girls, but I was scared to death of them. I couldn’t talk to them. I never had girlfriends, I never dated in high school OR college, and if the subject even came up I would blush brightly enough to read in the dark by.

    And at night I would lie in bed scared to death that I would never have a girlfriend and no matter how much I YEARNED for the chance to love a girl I would never be able to, and I would have to be gay instead, and if gay sex was disgusting to me, that was too bad, I was going to have to just learn to like it, dammit (which I can laugh about now because really, it’s incredibly stupid, no one’s going to MAKE you be gay against your will just because you run like a girl). But that was just really an awful, awful thing in my life, and it was EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m not talking about just as a teenager either.

    Eventually I had some girlfriends, and some of them were not very good for me, and some of them were VERY good for me (and I’m afraid I was appallingly bad for all of them), and now I’m very happily married to the lovely Mrs. Fnarf and that’s all the distant past. (I do still like show tunes, though).

    But I still remember how that felt. And you know what it was? It was homophobia. And it was taught to me, not explicitly in so many words, but by the world I grew up in, by people who loved me and meant the best for me, but where being gay was the worst possible thing that could happen to a person. And the stupid thing was, I WASN’T GAY, and it was STILL hurting me.

    And that should never happen. Nobody should ever have to feel like that. Nobody, nobody, nobody. And what I see in the Christian community — not everywhere, not always — is that same thing. I know what it is, and I don’t like it. And I don’t think most of you would like it either, if you really understood what the anti-gay attitude, even the questioning, open, respectful version of it that I’m seeing here, feels like on the other side.

    You can see what it does to people like Ted Haggard. Over in the gay world you’ll hear people tear him apart casually, but I can’t do that. I feel his pain, in a way, and I’m really sorry that he never found a way to be who he really was, until it was too late, and he hurt all those people.

    But I still hear it, all the time. I’m sorry to say I hear it here, in some of you, when you say “but not affirm” — it’s like a little bell, pinging. I hear it from Ken Hutcherson, like a foghorn, and from Charles Dobson. I don’t think you always mean it — you don’t have that awareness of the source of the hurt — but it’s there. And when you see gay people get all righteously pissed off, and when they lump you all in the same boat, where every Christian who ever lived is no better than Pat Robertson — that’s what they’re reacting to. They hear that little bell too.

  90. kd nyquist says:

    regarding sin and consequences – http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=2433

    original monique – I think you are correct in your statement that you shouldn’t be concerned with what goes on between two plus people separate from you, and the implication that Eugene or religious people shouldn’t be either is also correct (if this wasn’t your implication, forgive me). However, as a pastor, Eugene does have the responsibility of leading the members of Quest Church (not separate from him) towards God’s Will for them, whether or not he understands it (for the time being). Note his statement in the post that he doesn’t believe in legislating his beliefs upon others.

    Also, regarding many of the comments I’ve seen: word subbing (“homosexual” for “multi-racial” or “incest”) is a quick yet inspired way to ask questions or express doubt, but it really doesn’t prove anything.

  91. Cashima says:

    Fnarf,
    you are right about one thing and that is the whole homophobia thing in the church.
    If these issues were talked about more we would perhaps produce less Ted Haggards who are probably scared to death to share their feelings. They are scared of being rejected and it is wrong.

    If there are sincere Christians who struggle with a Biblical question about homosexuality do they have to be thrown in the same boat as Pat Robertson or called a bigot?
    ( Yes, you know me and no I can’t keep my mouth shut : )

  92. m@ says:

    Fnarf, I wish I could tell you how closely I resonate with your story, not just on the battlefield of my teenage struggles with sexuality but also in my own faith journey. Thank you.

    I’ll make one comment:: I think even straight people have had to ‘find’ themselves, although not necessarily in the realm of sexuality. And those who have had to make a decision that will attract ridicule and scorn (like myself) will resonate quite well with what you’ve typed.

    I think you bring up a fundamental paradox (even if you didn’t intend to!): what IS happiness? The Christian defines it as joy (although more often than not my faith is more of a burden than a warm fuzzy), whereas others may view it as being self-content. We could wax philosophic all we want, but it may reveal some aspects of why the whole gay “issue” has been a prevalent topic in the church these days.

    I’m gonna go watch a Disney film now. :)

  93. [...] One of the best discussions over the topic of Christianity and homosexuality can be found at Eugene Cho’s blog as he responds to Dan Savage of the Stranger.  Unfortunately the discussion on Savage’s blog [...]

  94. SDA in SEA says:

    m@ and chad both ask: is or should our sexuality be a core component of our identity.

    I don’t know if it should or should not be. That is a judgement, and I’m trying as hard as I can not to judge. But I can tell you with certainty, without question that sexuality IS a core component of our identity. Not the only component, of course. There are lots of other big important aspects of our lives. But sexuality is for sure one of the biggies. And lots of straight people are completely oblivious to it.

    As a little boy, mostly we all played with other little boys. We did not play with girls. Girls had cooties. You could get girl germs playing with girls. Ick. But as we grew older, things changed. Most of my friends started looking at girls in a different way. They were no longer worried about girl germs or cooties. They found attractions that changed their outlook. I stopped worrying about girl germs too, and made friends with girls, but never acquired that attraction that my friends did.

    It was about this age that the word faggot entered my vocabulary. I didn’t know what a faggot was, exactly, but it sure was bad, whatever it was. Faggot was about the worst thing you could call a boy. Those were fighting words.

    I remember an afternoon when I was about 12. Our Sunday school group went to the river to float on inner tubes. One of my friend’s mother drove a vanload of us. I respected her almost as much as my own mother. I got a sunburn on my legs. On the way home I was whining a bit about my sunburn. Other boys in the van started calling me a fag. My friend’s mom piped up from the driver’s seat. “Stop that,” she said, “when we were young, we used to call them queers. Hahahahaha!” Every one laughed. I laughed too, of course, because I didn’t want anyone to think I was a fag or a queer.

    I learned that it was not okay to call a black person a nigger, or a jewish person a kyke. But it was perfectly acceptable to call someone a faggot or a queer.

    And a couple of years later, I realized I was one. I was one of the most loathsome kind of people. The kind that it was perfectly acceptable to mock. I didn’t want to be, but I was. I tried to deny it, even to myself, but I was. My friends all started getting girlfriends, but I didn’t, no matter how hard I tried to talk myself into it. They just didn’t attract me in THAT way. I begged god. No answer. I pretended. I buried my secret attraction.

    But you’ve all been to school. You know that is all everyone ever talks about when you hit puberty. Who’s dating who. Who’s hot and who’s not. They talk about it all day long. How can you think for a moment that sexuality isn’t a core component of your being? Adolescent’s take sexuality into consideration when making choices about what classes to take, what after school activities to participate in, what parties to go to. Dating is the biggest drama of their lives at that point. Sexuality dominates every aspect of their existence.

    And it is all perfectly normal, perfectly natural, and perfectly acceptable… as long as you’re straight. It isn’t natural, normal, or acceptable if you’re a faggot, a queer. If you are a faggot, you are mocked, teased, and/or beaten. The church was no salvation. They promoted this intolerance.

    I lived in fear for even thinking the wrong thoughts. I lived in terror every day that my secret would be revealed. Every class. Every day. Is sexuality a core component of my identity? You bet your ass it is. Whether I want it to be or not.

    When I made it through the nightmare that was highschool, I joined the military. Both of my grandfathers served in WW II, and I couldn’t think of a more honorable thing to do. Plus, it would make a man out of me, right? Ridiculous, in hindsight. Boot camp was a worse nightmare than highschool. There is no more homophobic subculture than the military (with the possible exception of Ted Haggard’s church). This was before “don’t ask, don’t tell”. So if anyone found out I was a faggot, a homo, a queer, I wouldn’t simply be discharged, I would have gone to jail and been “dishonorably” discharged (which is the equivalent of a federal felony, which means I’d loose my right to vote, and probably never be able to get a decent job).

    Is sexuality a core component of our identity? The military sure thinks so. Faggots are incompatible with military cohesion and morale.

    I left the military after 8 years, knowing that to stay any longer was becoming too risky. One career, flushed down the toilet. I had come out by then. I had to either accept who I was or become suicidal. I found a boyfriend. Everything was happy. It shouldn’t be that big a deal, right?

    Except that it is. Sexuality infringes on little things every day. Whenever I meet a new woman, she looks at my right hand. She does not see a wedding ring. She wonders: is he available? Is he gay? And the discussions about who is dating who doesn’t end after high school. What do people talk about at work? They talk about work, and they talk about their husbands and wives and children. Do I remain silent? Do I tell them I have a boyfriend? If I tell them I have a boyfriend, will I be shunned? Will I be fired?

    My boyfriend’s mother died a few years ago. We’d been together about 15 years by then, and I knew her and loved her. My boyfriend was able to get a relatively inexpensive “bereavement” flight to fly home for the funeral. I had to pay full fare. Legally, we are strangers.

    I could go on and on with a hundred stories. But hopefully you get my point. Yes, sexuality is a core component of my being. I can’t ignore it and I can’t avoid it. And it comes up one way or another in a dozen subtle ways every day. I’m pretty sure that sexuality is also a core component of your existence too, even if you are oblivious too it most of the time because your sexuality is normal, natural, and acceptable.

  95. desmond says:

    To those who responded to my question,

    I don’t get it. You’re saying that a person can do whatever they wanted – incest or polygamy – as long as it’s between two consensual adults? Who defines adulthood? In my opinion, just because there’s a lot of gay people doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s clear evidence that it’s what God intended.

    Just because there’s lots of pain in the world doesn’t mean that in God’s “original design” or whatever Pastor Cho said, that it is God’s plan.

    Homosexual behavior in animals? We’re looking to animals for support? There are animals that are asexual. There are animals that eat thier children.

  96. LS says:

    Thanks m@ for your comment about the conversation at the SLOG. Eugene isn’t getting slammed here but he’s getting slammed there. The gay community is asking for tolerance and acceptance which is important. Is it being practiced on their end? There’s been some mean things being said there.

    This is why I so much respect Eugene as my pastor. He’s willing to engage in difficult conversations and engage it with humility.

    Thank you Pastor.

  97. desmond says:

    I’m not even from Seattle. Just checking in. So, here’s another dumb question:

    If you were a Christian and you were gay, and you felt convicted that God did not approve of homosexuality, what would you do?

    Dumb question but since we’re having open and safe chatting here…

    Desmond

  98. jessie says:

    many people don’t know that the influential christian author henri nouwen was homosexual. he chose celibacy.

  99. Jennifer says:

    Desmond,

    I would encourage you to check out Jamie Arpin-Ricci’s blog. He is a Christian man who realized he was attracted to the other men since he was a kid (I forget the age), but his Christian convictions led him to not not follow those attractions. You can read his story (and the 150+ comments) here http://emergentvoyageurs.blog.com/1485527/

    There are other people I know personally who have walked through the same scenario.

  100. Robert says:

    Eugene, Have some backbone and speak the truth. Contend for the GOSPEL! At least Driscoll is willing to take the heat but still speak the truth!!!

  101. Jennifer says:

    Robert,

    I think Eugene’s stand here has spoken the gospel for him :-) I’m damn proud that he’s my pastor.

  102. David Lauri says:

    * Is it possible for a person to be in friendship with you that holds a different position on the gay issue?
    * Rhetorically speaking – can you and I be friends?
    It’s difficult. When Ohio voted on Issue 1, its anti-gay marriage amendment, I talked to a classmate of mine with whom I was friendly, urging him to vote against it, and he said that because of his religious beliefs, he had to vote for it. We remained friendly (hello, how are you?) but I did not count him as one of my friends. Imagine if someone met you and your wife and told you pleasantly they were going to vote to make your marriage illegal. Could you be friends with that person?

    * Is a person automatically a bigot if they don’t share your view?
    No, not automatically. I’ll grant that there are people who for reasons of personal and religious conviction believe that homosexuality is wrong. It’s when you add hatred and hypocrisy that it becomes bigotry. Don Wildmon, for example, is a bigot (and a liar).

    * Is it possible for a person or a church to be “welcoming but not affirming?”
    No, it’s not possible for a person or church to be welcoming but not affirming. I don’t feel welcome at churches that don’t affirm me as a child of God made in God’s image, an image that reflects the wide diversity of creation, male and female, old and young, gay and straight, black and white, etc., etc.

    I appreciate that you are civil in your discourse, that you seek to grow, that you question your own positions. We can be friendly. We could even work together on shared goals (eliminating racism, for example). But we can’t be friends.

  103. Lee Gibson says:

    Tracy,

    The question answers itself. Why should gay people affirm a church that does not affirm them?

    At the end of the day, people are going to believe as they choose. The church isn’t going to “get rid of” the gay population, and the gay population isn’t going to “get rid of” the churchgoing people.

    (let’s ignore for a brief moment the fact that these two populations are impossibly diverse and overlapping)

    It’s a question of respect. I disagree with the people who argue that people shouldn’t be religious. I also disagree with people who argue that people shouldn’t be gay. I respect both peoples’ perspectives, but I believe that from an ethical and legal perspective (leaving morals aside), all persons should be afforded maximum liberty to do as they each will, without harming others.

    Religion in and of itself is not harmful. Homosexuality in and of itself is not harmful. Misapplying either can be devastating.

  104. Phelix says:

    Desmond,

    Your first question… Who does incest hurt? As long as you have rational, thinking adults involved in it, who agree and are there willingly, why should we oppose it? The same for bigamy or polygamy. Adulthood is set by the state, the government. Currently, it’s 18/21 depending on what it is you want to do.

    Why are there so many gay/queer humans and animals in the world if queerness wasn’t in God’s plan? And yes, we can look to animals for support because they’re just as much God’s creation as we are. He spoke them into being in Genesis (or created them through some other means if you’re not a literalist) just like he molded Adam from the clay and formed Even from Adam’s rib. God created everything, so everything shows his plan.

    Now, the argument I’ve heard before is that homosexuality in both men and animals is because of the fall, original sin entered into the world and so now things are cursed. Weeds, brambles, toil, labor, pain, death, and sin… all from that one fruit. Now, that said, I don’t necessarily buy that argument. It’s just one I’ve heard.

    Question 2-

    As a christian, when I wasn’t sure if I was gay or bi or straight or whatever, I was fairly sure God didn’t approve of queerness, so I prayed. I fasted. I sought God day and night. I asked for prayer from pastors, from friends, from my parents. I studied his word, and sought my answers there. I tried desperately to be straight. It sort of worked… or so I thought. I was attracted to girls, but I was also attracted to guys. So I prayed, fasted and sought more.

    Chad- Is sexuality a core component of who a person is? Yes. Should it be, that’s a value call and values change from person to person.

    Are you married? Do you have children? Do you plan on either? Those two things will drastically shape the rest of your life, and both of those things are highly influenced by your sexuality. Who you marry, decided by your sexuality. If you procreate the old fashioned way, or adopt, decided by your sexuality.

    Beyond that, when you wake up in the morning, were your dreams of men or women? When you’re walking down the street, who catches your eyes? Is it the person who attracted you or is it that bright, shiny penny on the ground?

    Sexuality is very much a core part of who a person is. It was not good for Adam to be alone, so God made Eve for his help-mate. Job made a covenant with his eyes to keep them pure before God. There are countless examples of men and women in the Bible whose stories involve their sexuality. The Song of Songs is entirely about sexuality. God told man to be fruitful and multiply. Direct orders to be sexual.

    I’m not saying God meant people to be horny little rabbits who do nothing but give in to their fleshly impulses. What I am saying, though, is that God gave us sexual implulses, they’re not afflictions from satan, or tests for our souls.

  105. m@ says:

    SDA: again, thank you. I won’t waste words — what you just shared affected me very, very deeply. Perhaps in a few days I can collect my thoughts and try to respond appropriately. Maybe we need to sit down and chat offline (e-coffee’s on me! ;) )

    LS: Well, I just find it strange that the blog of a magazine that prides itself upon tolerance and openness displays little on both sides — while the discussion occurring here is messy and heart-wrenching, yet beautiful in its honesty.

    Robert: It’s very, very clear “truth” is being spoken here. Read SDA’s and Fnarf’s stories. Our history IS truth because it’s concrete. To belittle the truths being shared and this dialogue in general angers me. Good God man, we’re talking about the personal journeys of a multitude of individuals and you want to start a preacher war?

  106. gar says:

    hello dialogue-rs,

    I don’t have much to add to the conversation except to say that i appreciate everyone’s willingness to dialogue publicly in a way that’s both honest AND civil. Reading people’s stories and their thoughts on the issue have given me a lot to think about the issue, and thanks again to Pastor Eugene for being open to hosting a dialogue like this on his corner of the WWW.

    (peace)

  107. Anne says:

    Phenix: Thank you, the Bible is more ambiguous on the issue than I remember. So, then:

    Pastor Cho, what do you mean when you talk about “the gay issue”? What stops you from simply welcoming gay churchgoers and treating homosexual sex just as you do heterosexual sex?

    * Is it that you think homosexual sex is sinful? (As I said before, I think this is perfectly consistent and reasonably well-supported by the Bible. I also think it’s repellent to queer Christians.)

    * Is it that you think that anonymous sex, bathhouses, drugs and one-night stands are sinful, and that you think gay people inevitably do all these things? (This attitude would, I’m afraid, be encouraged by most Pride parades… but do take note that Dan Savage met his beloved husband and coparent this way.)

    * Is it that you think homosexual people are defective and are failing to do God’s will? (Who made us then? Are other ‘defective’ people similarly sinful?)

    * Is it that we are theologically neutral but there is a strong cultural tradition that says we should be denied affirmation? (There certainly is such a tradition, though it is weakening, and it means we tend to make some people uncomfortable.)

    Perhaps it’s not proper for me to be including myself here – I do have a choice. I could leave my girlfriend of five years, whom I love, and hope someday to meet a man to settle for, and with. Other people do not have this choice. Is it God’s will that I destroy this love?

    Sorry, I’m not trying to be confrontational; as you can imagine, this is an emotionally loaded topic. I am pleased that you are trying for an exchange of views on this difficult topic, and I hope to learn something myself. These are not rhetorical questions; I really don’t understand why kind, liberal, understanding Christians like you have a problem with gay people.

  108. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    Since no one has answered my polite question about your definition of “welcoming but not affirming”, I find myself forced to draw my own conclusions. From the posts, I have read the majority of people here believe that the homosexual visitor to your church is welcome to attend a church service, but that their lifestyle choice will not be affirmed. Well, if that is the case then we share the same belief, homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle that the church will not recognize as Holy or morally acceptable.
    My church doesnt question people at the door about their sexuality as we rightfully assume that someone attending the house of God strives to live a Godly life. However, on the rare occasion that someone from that lifestyle has visited our church we welcome the opportunity to share God’s plan for him or her and pray that they will turn away from their sin and walk in the path of the righteous.
    The fundamentals of your beliefs and my own are essentially the same. Love the sinner by bringing them to Christ, but do not condone their sin. I am glad that I stumbled onto this site. It is evidence that there is a growing presence of compassionate, caring Christians on the internet looking to bring hope to the lost.

  109. lawrence clark says:

    To Mrs. T.D. Gaines- Crockett, when exactly do you ask what a visitor’s sexual orientation is? Or, most probably, when do you figure it out on your own? I am trying to be nice, but you have to realize that SDA in Seattle’s comments on gay life make your opinion on gays completely stupid.. I am gay and Christian. ( Go figure that one) Your opinion on homosexuality makes me sick.

  110. Chris says:

    Eugene asked: “In God’s perfect creation, before the Fall of humanity, is homosexuality what God intended?”. This question betrays a common misunderstanding of the metaphor of the fall. We “fell” because we began to perceive good as separate from evil, and right as separate from wrong. God transcends human judgments, and we “rise” every time we transcend them. The bible is poetry, not prose. Psychology, not sociology.

    Follow the golden rule. That’s all you need to do. For those who like to gather on Sunday and rejoice, that’s cool too.

  111. lawrence clark says:

    Sorry that I was so candid (and pissed). May God bless us all.

  112. Tracy says:

    The Bible can be understood as poetry, prose, psychology, sociology, and as therapy.

  113. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    Lawrence Clark,
    To answer your question, it really isn’t all that difficult to spot the sin of homosexuality in a person. Quite honestly, it is the most transparent of all sins. That said, I would invite that person to sit right beside me on the church pew and I would pray that the Blood of Jesus Christ cover them during the service.
    I don’t doubt that you believe yourself to be a Christian because you know in your heart that the Lord is telling you something. If you allow Him inside your heart and earnestly repent of your sin, by walking away from that lifestyle choice, He will take away the stain on your soul.
    Your being upset tells me that you genuinely want to know the Lord on a personal level and that in time you may even accept His invitation for eternal salvation. I pray that when He calls you will listen.
    God Bless you, dear. I will be praying for you.

  114. SDA in SEA says:

    To Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett,

    I’m leaving for a class in a few minutes, so I don’t have time for a lengthy reply or explanation.

    But let me say that your saccharin words of false love are every bit as painful, damning, judgmental, and destructive as any of the hateful bile that spilled from the mouth of Jerry Falwell. But I’ll grant that you sound nicer.

  115. Chris says:

    I should clarify the use of the word “betray” in my post above. Betray can mean “to deceive”, but it also means “to reveal”. In other words, “This question reveals…”

  116. Julie says:

    I have definitely enjoyed waking up and reading through all the new comments before I go out and enjoy this beautiful day. The comments have been interesting, and Fnarf, that was a great story.

    But… seriously guys. Can someone tell me WHY you believe that homosexuality or homosexual acts are wrong? Why? Just tell me it’s cause God said so and I’ll be quiet. If there is some other rationale, I want to know about it.

  117. Julie says:

    For those who have made comments about how the nature of the dialogue here vs. on Slog… I wouldn’t read too much into it. It’s not like on every other topic but the “gay conversation”, Slog commentors are respectful and do not swear or mock anyone,. That’s the environment there – when you comment, be funny, be insightful, and flame your enemies to shreds.

    The difference between the two is the same difference between the language and tone I use with my grandmother if I was telling her a story (or trying to convince her that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality) and the language and tone I would use with a friend in a bar telling that same story.

    Pastor Cho’s blog = church or your great aunt Mildred’s house
    Slog = A bar with your buddies

    The culture and appropriate behavior used in each is totally different.

  118. e cho says:

    folks, i’m sorry. i’m supposed to be on vacation and i’m typing this on my phone. don’t tell my wife. i’ll post later this day.

    mrs. brown, you’ve been warned. please be genuine and not condescending…

  119. Aden Mott says:

    I am a gay man and some people i just dont understand. How can there be so much hate in the world!?

  120. Dave C says:

    Like everyone here, I’ve really enjoyed reading this dialogue and thank everyone for being so insightful. I’ve been over this kind of thing so many times that I wasn’t sure how much “new” stuff I could read about it, but I have to say I have gotten a lot here.

    One thing I wanted to highlight, as a gay person (and a nonreligious person, but one who respects my religious friends) is that the question and meaning of “sexuality” is far from simple, and we all probably have quite a different picture of it. This has been alluded to by Fnarf and others who talk about the nature of “love” and ask for the definition of “the gay issue,” but I do think it’s at the heart of the matter.

    If you assume that people are born with homosexual inclinations but that they should still fight against them, where do you draw that line? I get more out of hugging a man I love or am attracted to than I do out of sex with a woman–and that’s not just in terms of “sexual pleasure” (sorry to be blunt, but I think this is a lot of what’s being talked around here) but in terms of full-body involvement, validation, the “charge” and “spark” of being close to someone you love.

    I get more out of holding hands with a man than I do making out with a woman. I have often thought that, were I to feel the need for religious or other reasons to abstain from homosexual sexual activity, I would rather spend my life living with a man I loved and never TOUCHING him than I would attempting to have a sexual relationship with a woman.

    If homosexuality is somehow sinful, is somehow not what God ultimately intended, than would I need to abstain from those activities as well? Where does expression of a “less than valid” sexuality begin, and where do I need to cut it off? Would my desire to live with a life partner whom I never touched be “welcomed but not affirmed?” Is it just the sexual activity that is the sin, or the whole prospect of emotional closeness with someone of the same gender as well?

    Similarly, I don’t think that anyone here is really arguing that homosexuality is only about sex, but one of the common views in our culture does tend to be the “whatever they do behind closed doors is their business, but I don’t want to hear about it.” That’s never worked for me logically: sexual orientation is about so much MORE than what you do in bed. It can come up in how integrating a partner into your life means you talk about them, do things with them, have an emotional relationship and a social network with them that extend far beyond the bedroom. It can come up in the way many homosexual people tend to have an unorthodox gender expression, whether they are radical queers or simply somewhat effeminate/masculine for where they are.

    I don’t feel that I’m defined by my sexuality, but I do feel that being gay touches and influences everything I am, even areas not involving sex and romance. It informs my outlook on the world. The way I love influences all of my other emotions. If I felt the need to excise “the gay thing” from my life, frankly I would have no way to start, and the idea that abstaining from a particular act would accomplish that just seems absurd.

    Love is about more than sex. Being gay is about more than sex. Even sex and sexuality can be about more than sexual activity. And Fnarf, while I think that just about everything that you wrote is amazing (and I don’t actually think you’d disagree with me on this next point), what you’re saying about hanging out with gay friends and not caring because the question of sex between you is irrelevant is true, but could seem to suggest that that is all being gay (and accepting someone who is gay) is about, which I just cannot see.

    I’m not really sure who or what all of the above is specifically directed towards, but I just wanted to highlight how I think the questions being dealt with here–“the gay issue” in whatever sense–are not necessarily separable from really any aspect of a person’s life, nor is it possible to put them away in a little box about what people “do.”

  121. e cho says:

    Julie, Fnarf, and others:

    i know that we’re not “friends” per se, but thanks for extending your kindness to me and others here. Seriously, I really do appreciate it.

    I’m going to take a little time next week to answer some of the questions that have been posed but I really do feel like the church really needs to lower their bullhorn, shut up, and listen to the stories of the gay community. Again, I want to remind people that this is not just a blogpost issue – it’s about real human beings…

    One thing that I do want to say here is while there are some that have made the “Homosexual Issue” their life pursuit, this is not the case for the majority of Christians. I sincerely believe that – at least the ones that I roll with.

    I do not revel in telling people of our human depravity. I do not revel in my own human depravity. When I teach and preach from the Scriptures, I speak not only of SIN but also of GRACE. Ultimately, I wrestle and rejoice in the Cross – not just the Resurrection but the Crucifixtion as well. The God and Jesus I write of here is a God that I believe truly loves each of us…

    As a pastor and wanna be theologian, I speak of human sexuality – both heterosexuality and homosexuality – only as it comes up through the Scriptures that we’re studying. Currently, we’re studying Jonah in the Old Testament so there won’t be any conversations about sexuality unless I missed something in my reading. In my opinion, there’s great stupidity when the Church chooses to isolate homosexuality and pound out weeks of preaching on that. That is cruel, mean, and just plain stupid. We can’t speak about homosexuality without talking about the larger issue of sexuality. Here’s a quote that I’ll eventually link that I’ve enjoyed reading:

    “The traditional Christian understanding of homosexual conduct is but a small portion of a broader understanding of sexual morality, which in turn is imbedded in a broader understanding of human sexuality, which in turn is imbedded in a broader understanding of what it means to be human, which in turn is imbedded in a broader understanding of humanity in relationship with the Sovereign God of the universe…”

    Thanks again for everyone’s contributions. I’ll share more later. And post what I’m imagining to be a long post next week.

  122. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    Now that would get an old-fashioned Amen! I imagine you are a wonderful speaker in person.

  123. Fnarf says:

    You know, they’re not really demonizing Mr. Cho over there. Unless “But I think we all need to give a little credit to E. Cho and the other commenters” and many similar remarks is a slam.

    Also remember that there are no unified blocs here. No one speaks for everyone. I certainly don’t; I’m speaking for myself. And I recognize that none of you singly represents all of Christendom. There are nuances.

    I’m not a supporter of incest or polygamy, for one thing. But note that there aren’t millions of of people demanding the right to incest; there isn’t a real constituency there. It’s not a basic condition; it’s a kink, a rare and rather unappetizing kink. Homosexuality IS basic, and does have a broad constituency. There are millions of them. And while Mrs. Gaines-Crockett’s ability to detect sin at a thousand paces is remarkable, the rest of us might be surprised to see who the gays are. They really are everywhere; it’s not just tattooed weirdos with purple hair and scary face piercings parading naked down Fourth Avenue.

  124. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    Was that really necessary, Fnarf? You haven’t seen me resort to name calling. The only thing I said remotely close to that was when I stated the fact that homosexuals are indeed easliy identifiable. There is a similairity in voice, mannerisms, and overall appearance among homosexuals. I will admit though, that with this new trend of “metrosexuals” and homosexual empathizers it is getting difficult to know who is who sometimes.
    I wasn’t trying to be smart, I was stating a fact as nicely as I good.

  125. lymerae says:

    Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett:

    I would like to point out some reasons that Lawrence, and others, might be “upset” over your comments besides, in your words, their desire to come to eternal salvation.

    Your comments reveal two deeply-ingrained assumptions that you seem unwilling to reconsider or look at logically. One, that homosexuality is merely a lifestyle “choice” that gay people can turn away from as simply and as easily as someone who loves to eat ice cream can stop eating ice cream. On the contrary, the best scientific studies and psychological interviews show that homosexuality is an unchangeable, profoundly integrated aspect of gay individuals’ human natures–one which is largely influenced by genetics, and therefore not a choice at all. For you to make the assumption that it is entirely choice, therefore, is not only irrational but hurtful. As many others have pointed out in this debate, for individuals who are both gay and religious, and who believe their homosexual impulses to be contrary to God’s will, the only viable option is to lead an entirely celibate life. They cannot turn straight; they cannot simply walk away from being gay. It is who they are. It is how, in my belief, God created them.

    Secondly, you assume that being homosexual is inherently offensive in the eyes of God. It’s your right to believe that, and there are certainly biblical verses to back you up; but you also have to recognize that there are many religious individuals who struggle with both the word of God and the spirit of the divine and come to the conclusion that God is not offended by homosexuals, that God in fact loves all human beings of all sexual identities equally as bearers of the divine image. For you to assume your views are the only correct ones ever possible, and to offer to pray over people you see as covered with the “most transparent of all sins,” is astoundingly condescending. Saying something like “I would invite that [gay] person to sit right beside me on the church pew” to support the idea that you’re not homophobic–you only want to help gays find the way to God, is no different than saying, “I’m not a racist, some of my best friends are black!”

    I’ve tried to write this as civilly as possible, because I think that in your mind, you’re trying your hardest to come across as loving and compassionate. I’m just trying to point out that to those of us who don’t share your two assumptions, you come across as quite the opposite: judgmental, hateful, condescending, and fake. I don’t think that’s how you want to be seen. So I beg of you, really, honestly beg, that you reconsider the assumptions you carry surrounding homosexuality and make an effort, in the name of your faith, to understand what it might be like coming from the other side.

  126. lymerae says:

    Also, Mrs. T.D., I really don’t see where fnarf called you any names. He’s been remarkably classy and polite throughout this debate–as has Eugene Cho, for which I would sincerely like to commend both of them. It’s really hard to talk about this kind of issue in a real debate, especially when people invest their personal emotions and spiritual beliefs when expressing their opinions. Fantastic job, on both your parts.

  127. Chris says:

    People who believe that homosexuality is a choice are confusing homosexuality with bisexuality. Studies indicate that many people who choose to live straight lives are bisexuals who have made the choice to play straight. Because they had a choice they assume everyone has a choice.

    It’s a solipsism.

  128. Martha says:

    What a wonderful conversation. It’s refreshing to see such a tender subject argued with such decorum and finesse. Thank you all for this reunion of manners and intelligent discussion!

    Mrs. T.D. – Please reconsider your broad statement that “there is a similarity in voice, mannerisms, and overall appearance among homosexuals.” Perhaps you feel that all gay people look alike because you perceive that all people that look a certain way are gay. If that’s the case, let me assure you that gays are much more pervasive than you could ever imagine.

    As a queer woman who unintentionally passes for straight, vanilla, conservative, and a number of other qualifiers on a daily basis, I also have to say that I’m marginally offended that you would presume to pray for me and others like me. I’m not a lost lamb, but another human being – aware of religion and morality – forging her own way, constantly trying to do the right thing. Does that make me special? No. It makes me human. Trying to “get it right” is what humans do. And when you tell me that you’ll pray for me, you’re also telling me that you’ve progressed further in your efforts than I have. In effect, you’re telling me that you’ve found the right path, and that I (even though we have both been given the same amount of time on Earth, the same access to history, education, community and civilization) have chosen the wrong one.

    So here’s what I would like to know: what makes you so sure? Why are you so much smarter than I am? If we’re both trying to lead just and kind lives, why have we been led down two such divergent paths? I’ll go out on a limb and say that, perhaps, your way of life is no better than mine. Just different. So let’s shake hands, move on, and keep in mind the fact that most people aren’t bad or stupid or ignorant. We’re all just trying to do the best that we can.

    For now, though, I’ll enjoy the thought of you praying – not for God to change those who surround you, but for God to guide you as you do like the rest of us humans and try to figure out the best way to get by.

  129. Fnarf says:

    Mrs. Gaines-Crockett, are you still friends with the good ladies over at the Landover Baptist Church? How is your old friend Betty Bowers (America’s Best Christian)? Are you a member of Baptists Are Saving Homosexuals?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landover_Baptist_Church

    Sorry to out you, dear. But these people here at Quest deserve better.

  130. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    Dear Fnarf,
    Actually I am a member of First Baptist Church of Atlanta. Charles Stanley is a close and lifelong friend of the family. As much as I would love and chat with you I am heading out the door for a weekend away.
    I pray that everyone has a safe and sin-free weekend.

  131. Tracy says:

    Thank you Fnarf. This is discouraging to read/know.

  132. Clara says:

    Okay, I have not had time to read all of this, but I want to say a few things.
    I am a lesbian Christian who recently cam out to my parents. Their stated veiws fall very firmly in the “I still love you but you are living in sin” camp of Christianity. Mine are in the “I need to live as a moral and respectful person beofre the Lord” camp. For me this means I live as married with my partner and before we comitted oursevles to eachother in a marrage before the Lord we did not have sex.
    Here is the problem I keep running into in this debate, I weclome my parents into my life but I refuse to affirm their belife that my “lifestyle” is sinful. This is possible for me to do within the bounds of loving and honoing my parents because their views do not touch every aspect of their lives. They welcome me into their lives but do not affirm my attractions, my relationship, my love, and my choice of spouse. This to me is not loving all of me, it hurts me deeply.
    I have a close friend who is Muslim. As my religon states that unless she believes in Christ she will go to hell I grieve and wrestle with the fact that idolitry is unarguably a sin according to the Bible. Islam is (according to the biblical definition of idolitry) idolitry. How I reconsile my love and friendship with her with the teachings of “the Church” does not affect the way I behave or feel about her. It does not affect our relationship or who I believe she is as a person or weither or not she is a good person who I respect and admire. We both know that our religions are mutally exclusive on the point of who goes to heaven and it doesn’t matter to us. I believe that I both welcome her into my life and affirm her relgion because although I cannot imagine being a muslim and she cannot imagine being a Christian we niether of us feel that the other is inherently wrong in some part of their being for believing in their relgion.
    Is religion the same a sexual orientation? No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that to be able to affirm you must be able to say that is a perfectly reasonable and fine thing for you even if I could not ant would not join you in it.

  133. lymerae says:

    Clara,

    First of all, I’d like to congratulate you coming out.

    Secondly, I’m a little confused. You seem to say that you affirm your Muslim friend because you respect her religious beliefs as reasonable and acceptable, even if you don’t share them yourself. Yet you also say that you “grieve” over what you see as her idolotrous views, which implies that you disapprove of her beliefs on some level, and that you wish that she believed otherwise. This doesn’t seem affirming to me. Welcoming maybe, but not affirming. Affirmation in this religious scenario would seem to me to involve accepting that neither of you can penetrate the mysteries of the divine, and that neither of you have an exclusive understanding of the “right” path to God. Therefore, you respect the other person’s religious beliefs to be equally valid as your own, and don’t wish to change them in any way, instead seeking the common humanity and spirituality that you share.

    I say this because when we turn to affirming homosexuals in a church, I think it is clear from the commentors above that it is not enough to say, “I respect your homosexuality and think it is a valid identity for you to have–after all, we are all sinners–but I still wish you were heterosexual and therefore moral in the eyes of God.” It’s still a hurtful attack on the person’s identity, and it makes them feel neither affirmed nor welcomed. To feel affirmed, they have to feel that they are equal in the eyes of God, not singled out and demeaned because they are gay.

    And that, I think, comes to the heart of the “welcoming but not affirming” issue. A church might be welcoming on the surface, as a cheerful facade, but once it becomes clear that they are not affirming, then they are no longer welcoming. Everything falls through, and it’s because the “not affirming” makes it clear that the church still wishes the person could change. And that’s hurtful to the core of one’s being. Why would anyone go to a church where they constantly felt that kind of pain?

  134. Robert says:

    You shall know the fruits by your labor. Look at Mars Hill and the fruit of their labor. I’m not trying to make it so simplistic but every church I know of that deviates away from the Truth of God’s Word falls flat on their face. Driscoll preaches the Bible. Period. And God honors that even despite people slamming him or MH. I’m damn glad he’s my pastor!

  135. one reader says:

    Eugene, I read your post on Silence Racism –

    http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2007/03/02/silent-racism/

    and was moved by it. As a minority, you should know what gay people experience – even a little. You understand and have experienced it. Don’t you understand that your views are another form of this PREJUDICE?

  136. Phelix says:

    Chris, could you clarify how you mean bisexuals have a choice?

    Do you mean they have a choice in who they sleep with, as in which gender their partner(s) are. Or are you meaning it in a broader meaning, say that bisexuals have a choice in who they’re attracted to?

    The first I could support, because it’s true. Bisexuals, as well as heterosexuals and homosexuals have a choice who they sleep with. Everyone chooses who gets into their bed with them, unless they’re raped or coerced but rape and coersion aren’t a part of a person’s sexuality.

    The latter I’d definitely be opposed to, disagree with. Sexuality isn’t fixed for heteros and homos but under a bi’s control. Bisexual people are attracted to the people they’re attracted to, just like anyone else. I cannot control if the leggy latina walking down the street catches my eye any more than I can if the tall dark and handsom waiter turns me on. People are simply attracted to what they’re attracted to, no matter their sexuality.

    Ms. Gaines-Crockett,

    There are many sins that are much more transparent than homosexuality, if it is indeed a sin. Hypocrisy, Pride, Dishonoring the father and mother, taking the lord’s name in vain… all of those are more transparent than living a sinful homosexual lifestyle. Honestly, it’s pretty transparent when someone calls out “God damn it!” Or when a person sits there critiquing, complaining, and blaming their mother for everything wrong in their life.

    Besides that, I think it’s a bit presumptuous of you to assume it is your place to identify a person’s sin, ask them to sit next to you so you can pray the blood of Christ over them. I know a man, in my parents’ church, who comes across as flagrantly gay. His mannerisms, his voice, his speech patterns, everything says “Gay!” but he’s not. He’s heterosexual, married, and planning a family. That said, I truly believe him when he says he’s hetero. He doesn’t set off my gaydar, but he does fit all the stereotypes. You, and people like you, would assume he’s homosexual and pray for him. I can’t say it would be wasted prayer, because I doubt any prayer is truly wasted, but it’s prayer not spent getting closer to God.

    Lastly, I am going to try to say this as kindly as possible, but I find it rather offensive that you can tell anyone:

    “I don’t doubt that you believe yourself to be a Christian because you know in your heart that the Lord is telling you something. If you allow Him inside your heart and earnestly repent of your sin, by walking away from that lifestyle choice, He will take away the stain on your soul.
    Your being upset tells me that you genuinely want to know the Lord on a personal level and that in time you may even accept His invitation for eternal salvation. I pray that when He calls you will listen.”

    Your doubt about anyone else’s christianity doesn’t matter. Christianity is a personal thing between a person and their lord, their maker, their savior. No other person can know the status of your soul. Each person knows for themselves if they’ve accepted Christ into their lives, if they’ve asked for forgiveness of their sins, and taken his salvation, and they’re the only person who knows that. Who are you to question the status of someone else’s soul? Honestly? Who are you to question someone’s relationship with God?

    By your words you probably doubt that I am a christian. You weren’t there when I accepted Christ into my life. You weren’t there for the hours of prayer. You’ve not been in my life, seeing me seek God’s guidance, seeking his wisdom, trusting him in faith. You were not there for my life, nor were you there for the life of the person whose christianity you doubted above.

    The only christianity you should doubt, or question, is your own. That’s the only one you can directly experience, it’s the only one you can feel and know. I have no doubt that you mean well, but I do doubt that you’re achieving your intentions.

  137. Desmond says:

    Original Monique and Whoever Else can Follow this Damn Long Thread:

    Your thoughts about consensual adults and their choices are interesting, You cite that the government indicates what age is proper for adulthood. You now want the government to dictate responsibility for morality? Some countries have legal drinking at 14, 16, 18, or 21. My point is that whether we want to admit it or not, our sense of right and wrong comes from somewhere.

    Is that sense something that is a part of our human origins? As a Christian man, I believe that God has given us the right to understand between right and wrong. While I can’t speak for Eugene Cho, my accountability doesn’t just come from the government, from blogs, from Frnarf, from Dan Savage, my parents, etc. I have a higher person to look to. And that would be God.

    Julie, you asked “Why do you not believe in Homosexuality?”

    The simple answer is that it is against God’s plan for humanity. It is part of the larger problem of human sin. That would be the simplest way I can answer that. So, I’m not hating on gay people. That would be sin. I’m simply trying to honor the convictions I believe God states through the Bible. And I know that most of you think that Christians are idiots who read the Bible literally… That’s not me. That’s not alot of Christians I know.

  138. Torrie says:

    Clara,

    Thanks for your post. Let me hear this correctly. You’re gay and Christian which is cool. But you said that you don’t like Christians who disagree with your views. You shared about your parents. But you also shared about your Muslim friend and how you want your friend to change from her Muslim faith to Christian.

    Is it just me or did you contradict yourself?

    I think many people will disagree that sexual identity and faith identity are different. They are both core elements of one’s identity. To use your logic, then, what would be so bigoted for a Christian to want (NOT FORCE) a homosexual person to change?

  139. Desmond says:

    So, no one answered my question earlier. I ask this sincerely:

    If you’re gay and your a Christian and you believe that homosexuality is against God’s will for your life, what would you do?

    I’ve read Fnarf and others say that repressing feelings and such are harmful for people and society? Huh? If we don’t repress some things, our society would be even more screwed up than it is. You’ve never felt like punching someone? Cheat on your wife? Piss outside the urinal? Whether it’s homos or heteros – if we don’t exercise some level of repression – we’re in trouble.

    Incest and scientific evidence that there’s no higher level of retardation? I’m no scientist but please post that link for me. I’m shocked but if that’s the truth, there’s a cousin I have my eyes on. :)

  140. SDA in SEA says:

    “I stated the fact that homosexuals are indeed easliy identifiable. There is a similairity in voice, mannerisms, and overall appearance among homosexuals.” – Mrs. T.D. Gaines

    Oh good grief. At the risk of sounding impolite, this has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read.

    I will grant that you might be able to identify lisping, flaming, campy, effeminate gay men. Although you’d probably incorrectly assume that an effeminate straight man is gay.

    But there is no way you can easily identify all homosexuals on sight. I am a completely ordinary middle aged man who happens to be gay. I don’t effect any of the stereotypical mannerisms that you probably use to identify homosexuals. I’m a bit on the skinny side, and my nose is a bit large, but I don’t think those are gay identifiers. I guarantee you that I could walk into your church and sit down beside you, and you would assume I’m straight. You would have no clue about my sexual orientation unless I chose to reveal it to you. I could easily round up a hundred or more gay men and lesbians from my own circle of friends who are perfectly ordinary appearing, that you couldn’t possibly identify on sight.

    The fact is that with the exception of a few flamers, a vast majority of gay men and lesbians are completely ordinary looking. Just like a vast majority of heteros are ordinary looking.

    That is, in fact, a large part of the problem. That is one reason why for many people racism is not acceptable, and discrimination against gays IS acceptable.

    We can hide among you.

    Ted Haggard hid among you for decades.

    Racial minorities don’t have that luxury. With the exception of really light skinned african-americans who might be able to pass, we can all identify most people by their race. We don’t blame people for their skin pigmentation. Most of us understand that discrimination based on skin pigmentation is wrong. Racism may not be gone from this country, but because skin pigmentation is an obvious identifier, we can’t ignore the issue, and must deal with it.

    But because I can hide among you, you can pretend I don’t exist most of the time. Really, it’s easier for both of us if I maintain this charade. It is an automatic defense mechanism for me. I learned to pretend to be straight before I even understood what it meant to be a faggot. Pretending to be straight, blending in, going with the flow has saved me from a lot of grief, ridicule, lost jobs, and physical violence.

    There are two problems with pretending to be straight. First, it is incredibly depressing and demoralizing for me. Try pretending to be something, anything, that you are not 24/7 for years. It is a soul destroying thing to do, I can assure you. Second, it allows people like you to remain in blissful ignorance.

    Because I can LOOK heterosexual if I want, you assume that I should be able to BE heterosexual if I want. That if I just pray enough, I’ll become straight. And I play right into that absurdity by pretending to be straight so I don’t offend you or get myself beaten. If I try really hard, I can pretend to be straight, just like Ted Haggard.

    But just like Ted Haggard, I can pretend all I want, but it changes nothing inside. It only changes the exterior. The shell. When I walk down the street and encounter a good looking man and woman, deep inside it is the man I am attracted to, no matter how much I pretend, or pray, or wish otherwise. I can choose whether or not to act on my attractions, but none of us can control what those base desires are.

    This is why the “love the sinner, hate the sin” attitude is so destructive. It is based on two falsehoods. First, it falsely assumes that I can choose to be straight if I just pray enough. Second, because my innate sexual orientation is an inextricable part of me, you cannot both love me and hate my orientation. They are part of each other.

    You can think I’m a sinner, or you can think I am not. You cannot separate me and tell me you love part of me (the part that pretends to be straight) and not another part (the part of my true attraction). Because I cannot separate those two parts. Trying to separate those two parts does not work, and is self destructive.

    You can accept me fully, or you can not accept me. That is your choice. But to partly accept me and call that love is a falsehood and a lie.

  141. Jennifer says:

    Several people have asked something like : Why do you believe God’s original plan for humanity did not include homosexuality?

    For me, the answer is found in the symbolism of Christian marriage.

    When God created humanity, they were made in his image – male and female. I don’t want to take on traditional thought on how men and women are different, but we all realize they are (or else the question of who you are attracted to wouldn’t matter). When man and woman come together in Christian marriage, they are somehow representing two different parts of the image of God. It takes a man and a woman to do that.

    However, having said that, I support the rights of homosexual people to have civil marriage. By definition, its not Christian marriage. But if they desire civil marriage, and all the benefits that includes, I don’t see why they shouldn’t have it. I just think there should be a distinction between a the two understandings of marriage.

  142. ck says:

    mrs. gaines crockett,

    you’re a member of charles stanley’s church? you guys are good friends? what did you tell him when he was divorcing his wife?

    he/she who has no sin cast the first stone… have you read that in the bible?

  143. lymerae says:

    I’m sorry to be writing so much, but this debate has really been occupying my thoughts lately.

    Re: “Is it possible for a person to be in friendship with you that holds a different position on the gay issue?”

    It really depends by what you mean by “a different position.” If I come across a person who, for religious or cultural reasons, sincerely believes homosexuality to be immoral, but is willing to engage in an honest and polite debate about the subject, who is actually open to opposing views, and who struggles mightily with the issue–yes, I can be friends with that person. In fact, I am friends with many people like that. I know that they are still fighting to work out what they believe–as am I–and that they really are trying to work out a consistent ethical system. If we disagree on those ethics, I’m ok with that. I don’t see them as bigoted; I might consider them misguided, but not bigoted. This presupposes, of course, that these individuals who are morally opposed to homosexuality never use anti-gay slurs at any point, or are ever less than polite to a gay person–that they value the humanity of every individual they come across, whether gay or straight.

    It’s when a person stubbornly sticks to discriminatory beliefs, refuses to hear evidence to the contrary, tries to strip rights from certain groups, and engages in hate speech and bigoted jokes that I can’t be friends with them. And this stands whether the views in question are anti-semetic, sexist, racist, or anti-gay.

    To Phelix:

    I think that bisexuals cannot control who they are attracted to. I think it’s very important to remember, however, that they can choose who they marry. They can start a family with a member of the opposite sex and live a “normal” life under the dictates of society, and still be happy. Completely gay men and women don’t have that option. Of course, bisexuals can also reject a normative lifestyle and participate in a same-sex relationship, and I see that as a valid choice as well.

    To Desmond:

    Could you clarify whether you take the bible as literal or not? In either case, I promise I will not consider you an idiot. If you do take it as literal, how do you reconcile the myriad discrepencies and contradictions found in the text? If you don’t take it as literal, why do you believe the prohibition against homosexuality to be a direct revelation of God’s will, and not one of the ways God’s message has been warped as it has passed through human hands?

  144. Desmond says:

    Lymerae:

    I don’t take it all literally. There are parts I do and parts I don’t. I know that doesn’t sound all that great. While there are ambiguous aspects about homosexuality and forced rape in certain parts of the Bible, there are other parts that I believe speak very clearly. When Jesus speaks of marriage, he speaks of it between man and woman. And I also echo Jennifer’s comment about how God created humanity in his image.

  145. Chad says:

    SDA in Seattle:

    Ok. I’m biting the bait. What does SDA stand for?

    I’m a Christian. I don’t hate you because you’re gay.
    I also have a high view of Scriptues and want to honor the convictions I have about sexual morality – fidelity, monogamy, heterosexuality.

    So, in order for you and I to be friends, am I right in assuming that there are only two options under your framework that you posted?

    1 either you renounce your homosexuality
    2 i renounce my faith and convictions

    another Chad

  146. Jennifer says:

    Desmond,

    One of the books that has really helped me is William Webb’s “Slaves, Women and Homosexuals” http://www.amazon.com/Slaves-Women-Homosexuals-Exploring-Hermeneutics/dp/0830815619/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-7822640-9326517?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183238232&sr=8-1

    It’s thick reading, but it really helped me think through why I interpret some verses literally, and not others.

  147. lymerae says:

    To Jennifer:

    I’d like to say that I can completely respect that explanation. It’s actually quite poetic.

    However, you do realize that it does nothing to draw homosexuals closer to the church. In your system, gays can only find partnered fulfillment through a secular venue. You’re enforcing the idea that gay couples are not welcome in a church, and that they should stick to secularism. Are you sure you want to be that exclusionary in your faith?

    To Desmond:

    Yes, but repressing the urge to punch somebody or cheat on your wife does not involve denying a central part of who you are, constantly, for your entire life. It merely involves supressing a momentary urge that you recognize will be detrimental to yourself and those around you. Repression of something as large as sexual identity, for years and years on end, causes irreparable psychological trauma. It means that that person will have an immensely difficult time ever finding happiness. It’s a matter of scale. Repression on a small scale can be socially desirable. Repression on a large scale results in neuroses and grief.

    And by the way, I don’t support incest either.

    Re: “If you’re gay and your a Christian and you believe that homosexuality is against God’s will for your life, what would you do?”

    To me, it seems like the only options would be 1) celibacy, or 2) a severe questioning of one’s faith, possibly leading to a renunciation of some elements of Christian doctrine in favor a more personal, and individualized, relationship with God.

    Finally, based on what you just said of your beliefs regarding the bible, would it be possible for you to be accepting of homosexual relationships, just not of homosexual marriage?

    By the way, here’s something I find offensive about all the “gays shouldn’t get married because it doesn’t fit a Christian marriage” argument:

    Christians do not have a monopoly on marriage in this country. Athiests can get married. Jews can get married. Muslims can get married. Those marriages don’t seem to fit the definition of “Christian marriage” either. Why should Christians be able to dictate for the entire country who can and can’t get married? Holding a majority isn’t enough. We have a democratic duty in our society to protect the rights of the minority. I can respect that you wouldn’t want gays to get married in your particular church. But what right do have to say that they shouldn’t get married at all? It becomes not a religious issue, but a legislative one. And legislating the dictates of your own religion is only appropriate in a theocracy.

  148. Jennifer says:

    Lymerae,

    I agree with you…Atheists who get married are not practicing Christian marriage either. In some countries, people practice a civil ceremony as well as a religious one, if they choose. The civil ceremony seals their legal rights and responsibilities, and the religious one seals their spiritual rights and responsibilities to each other. An atheist (or people of many other faiths) would have no interest in promising to bond themselves together in the Christian practice of faith. Nothing is being withheld from them by not having a religious ceremony, since it not something they are basing their life together on.

    My heart is saddened too when I hear stories of life-long partners who are not allowed at their loved one’s hospital death-bed. I want homosexual people to have those kind of basic human rights.

  149. Moe says:

    I’d just like to say, spending a long time reading every comment here from first to last, how refreshing it is to see this kind of maturity used in discussing this topic. I try to find the same maturity but being just 16 years old, there’s not many around me who are willing to engage in it.

    There were questions about incest and polygamy earlier, somehow used in connection to homosexuality. I’d just like everyone to keep in mind that polygamy and incest aren’t an entirely separate scientific classification of human sexuality as heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality are. There’s no specific sexuality where one is exclusively attracted to their sibling, to my understanding. The question of polygamy isn’t even a sexual one, putting religious beliefs aside it’s just saying to bang every person you like. It’s more an offense to our societal beliefs of love, and truly loving one soulmate more than anyone on planet earth. Incest wise, I’m pretty sure it’s clear that it can cause biological harm to offspring as someone here claimed it didn’t. I’ve never seen anything to the contrary.

    Um, that’s all. Please continue.

  150. tercermundista says:

    As an atheist, homosexual man raised in a home that was often militant in its traditional Mexican Catholicism, I cannot tell you how damaging the stigma is. And I was lucky my parents grew up in a generation that was radically less machista and religious. The horror stories I could tell on behalf of relatives and friends…

    It saddens me that, after centuries of study and philosophical revolution, religion and basic world views are growing more and more extremist. Racism, xenophobia, homophobia and extreme nationalism have the same basic underpinnings. I can very easily understand why someone thinks homosexuality is unnatural, I can very easily understand racism and distrust of my Mexican heritage because it all comes down to primal distrust of people and ideas different from our own. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s hard wired, but we’re also very lucky in that our species has the ability to deviate and suppress innate traits. A bit of understanding and objectivity is all that’s needed in this situation. All this sensationalism is disgusting… and very disheartening.

    To answer one your questions:

    I am friends with multiple people who are less than accepting of homosexuality, but whom absolutely and whole-heartedly embrace me being a homosexual. It’s only one aspect of who I am and I’m not going to lose a good friend because i feel i have a need to parade my sexuality in front of them. They give me an impressive amount of support in exchange for a little sensitivity on my part. They’ve become more understanding and i’ve become more tolerant of opposing view points. People just need to get off their pedestals, stop lecturing and listen attentively!

  151. Chris says:

    Phelix: I agree with you. I was referring to latent bisexuality, not self-identified bisexuals,

    To everyone: The bible does not, in any way, or in any place, condemn monogamous homosexual relationships. Leviticus condemns pagan sex rites, and Paul condemns bisexual promiscuity. In biblical times, homosexuals naturally tended to the priesthoods, where their intimate relationships were left unexamined. Heterosexual “Christian marriage” was idealized because children increased the wealth and the power of the church and tribe.

    Those who talk about God making us in His image need to beware of making God in their image.

  152. [...] and that’s it 30Jun07 there’s quite the dialogue happening on my pastor’s blog… a far cry from the mud-slinging happening on the slog. the gay conversation is always [...]

  153. Warren says:

    Concerning Desmond’s post:

    ***

    Julie, you asked “Why do you not believe in Homosexuality?”

    The simple answer is that it is against God’s plan for humanity. It is part of the larger problem of human sin. That would be the simplest way I can answer that. So, I’m not hating on gay people. That would be sin. I’m simply trying to honor the convictions I believe God states through the Bible. And I know that most of you think that Christians are idiots who read the Bible literally… That’s not me. That’s not alot of Christians I know.

    ***

    I think this is right. For Christianity, it is a moral issue…

    I believe there is often a double standard in the Church, and this is not fair. All moral issues should be brought to light…

    But let’s not stop there… Jesus was always more concerned with restoring and redeeming the worth of a person (think of the woman the Pharisees wanted to stone).

    Julie, you asked if someone could simply say that, “God told me so,” that’s kind of it… although Jesus would never stop there, much less answer that question the way we would want him to answer (he seemed to answer questions with questions a lot).

    Love God and love your neighbor… make disciples, follow Jesus. I think the core of the Christian faith has less to do with behavior modification and more to do with the heart of God that beats for his sons and daughters in depravity.

  154. Chris says:

    Saying that homosexuality is against God’s plan for humanity is taking God’s name in vain.

    One could read the bible and make a strong case against wealthy people. One could claim that rich people are against God’s plan for humanity.

    For centuries, bigoted Christians quoted the bible in order to argue that Indians and Africans were against God’s plan for humanity.

    It i’s probably best to tend to individual selves and let God tend to God’s plan.

  155. jklam says:

    i see two (problematic) ways the church related to lgbt’s: consumption and rejection. in consumption, we try to coerce those who are different to act and think as we do. we eat ‘em like food and they become part of us — we use what we like and dump out what doesn’t jive with our dogma. this isn’t persuasian via dialogue — it’s a battlefield victory, nothing short of colonization. on the flip side is rejection, where we simply treat the other as the enemy. by evoking religious discourse, we label the other as an enemy of god himself, providing justification for the other’s oppression.

    the church, i think, must bypass this consumption/rejection binary in favor of a third, more constructive way, which i think is actually demonstrated quite nicely in my pastor’s blog. the “welcoming, but not affirming” platitude is unhelpful because it’s inadequate in describing an institutional church’s relationship with homosexual members/visitors. it just falls flat, devastating people along the way. instead, i think the church must be a place where everyone’s views of sexuality can be challenged, while also affirming it as a safe place for people of all sexual orientations, thereby making the church welcoming and affirming in a way that ought to be true for everyone. by creating a safe place for all spiritual seekers, we can throw a wrench in the consumption/rejection binary by moving toward humble dialogue.

    there’s been some discussion about whether a generative friendship is possible between people with opposing views on sexuality. many think its impossible. but i would posit that at the heart of paul’s message is a call for the church to be minister’s of reconciliation, and that anything short of a loving relationship between diverse people is an affront to the gospel itself.

    this is all to say that i believe a church service’s “message” to all people — regardless of sexual orientation — ought to be you are welcomed here… omitting any and all caveats. moreover, a friendship between individuals with opposing viewpoints does not make any requirement on one’s beliefs, but how those beliefs are held.

  156. Phelix says:

    Lymerae,

    Yes, everyone has a choice who they marry. But it still goes to the same issue. If I were to fall passionately, deeply, madly in love with a man, yes, I could give that up and try to find a woman and have a “normal” marriage that matches society’s parameters of normal. It would also match the Church’s definition of “normal”. But would it be honest? Would it be honorable?

    That said, I could fall just as passionately, deeply, madly in love with a woman, and live that typical, normal life. No one would expect me to give up that relationship and find a man. Well, no, I take that back… some of my gay friends would assume I’m lying to myself and think I should give it up to find a man. But they mean well anyway.

    I’m not trying to be confrontational… this is an issue I’ve had to think long and hard about and I still have some doubts and questions. Because I *could* be happy with a woman, should I avoid relationships with men? Because I *could* have a typical marriage and family, should I only look for women to date and form relationships? I don’t have the answers to those questions yet. I don’t know if I ever will.

  157. jklam says:

    i’d recommend checking out soulforce.org. the founder was a fuller theological seminary professor for 10+ years. it’s a noteworthy christian lgbt organization and offers thoughtful reflections on everything being discussed here.

  158. ¿ Que Tal Tercermundista?

    I´m glad you can be tolerant of friends who think differently than you. We can all learn a lot from your attitude and acceptance.

    Gracias,
    Mary Jo

  159. SDA in SEA says:

    “I’m a Christian. I don’t hate you because you’re gay.
    I also have a high view of Scriptues and want to honor the convictions I have about sexual morality – fidelity, monogamy, heterosexuality.
    So, in order for you and I to be friends, am I right in assuming that there are only two options under your framework that you posted?
    1 either you renounce your homosexuality
    2 i renounce my faith and convictions”
    – Chad

    Ummm… I’m a little unclear exactly what your views on scriptures, sexual morality or heterosexuality are, so I can’t really give you a yes or no answer. But since we are going deep in this conversation, I’ll go there.

    I’ll broadly group Christians into 3 categories (I know that there are a lot more subtle views, but just go with me for a moment to simplify the discussion):
    (1) Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin. Who further actively advocate to deny civil rights to gay people.
    (2) Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin. But who nevertheless feel that homosexuals deserve all the civil rights that heterosexuals enjoy.
    (3) Christians who believe that homosexuality is NOT a sin, that gays are every bit as acceptable to God as heteros.

    I know there’s overlap, and people who fall between these groups, and there are lots of other aspects of Christianity, but I would guess that a high majority of Christians fall into these three broad categories of belief. And from my perspective, these particular views are what are critical to my life.

    I find it difficult to be even civil to members of the first group. Every bit of discrimination that I face every day of my life lays at the feet of this group of people. How anyone can reasonably expect me to be friends with someone with these beliefs baffles me.

    The second group is harder to peg. I can be quite civil with this group. I can be polite. We can get along fine in a social setting. It pains me that they believe my existence is a sin, but I generally find this type to be decent people even if we disagree on that one issue. And, most importantly, even if they think of me as a sinner, they support my right to exist and to have the same civil rights as heterosexuals. In some circumstances, I could be friends with people in this category. It might be a delicate friendship, but it could happen.

    I was once friends with a Pentecostal minister. He was very passionate in his belief that for HIM to go to heaven, HE needed to be heterosexual, which he was. But he also just as passionately believed that it wasn’t his place to judge whether or not I’d go to heaven. He couldn’t promise my I would, but he also wouldn’t promise me I couldn’t. He maintained that since he couldn’t say for certain whether or not I’d go to heaven, it was best left to God, and that he would treat me with complete civility and love. As a Pentecostal minister, he would not marry me in his church, but he fully supported my right to a civil marriage, or a marriage performed by another minister of another church that was more affirming. It was an odd friendship. I refused to attend a church that was unwilling to marry me, or at least grant me a domestic union. But we mostly got along well. He moved to another city about 8 years ago, and didn’t remain in contact, so I guess it wasn’t a strong deep friendship. We had some very interesting discussions.

    I have lots of friends who fit into the third category. No problemo.

  160. SDA,
    I have really enjoyed reading everything you have shared here. Thank you so much for being so open and honest with us. You add a lot to the conversation.
    Mary Jo

  161. lymerae says:

    Phelix,

    I agree, bisexuality is a very difficult issue, especially with so many people (gay and straight) not even believing that it exists–thinking that it’s a phase, or an excuse, or simple confusion. I happen to believe, along with many sex researchers, that the majority of human beings on this planet are somewhat bisexual–it’s just a matter of how far along the spectrum they fall, and what they supress as opposed to what they express.

    I’m a female who is very attracted to guys, but still a little attracted to girls. Where does that leave me? Am I bisexual, or simply a poser? I don’t claim the bisexual label, because I don’t want to be a “college bisexual.” And I’ve never been in a relationship with a girl, simply because being in relationships with guys is easier. I haven’t admitted to most of my friends, or my parents, that I’ve even considered a relationship with a girl, even though I’m fully (and vocally) supportive of gays and gay rights. Does that make me a coward? I don’t know. Will who I date change as I get older? Possibly.

    I think all any of us can do is be as honest as we can with ourselves about our feelings and attractions, and then try to reconcile that with our concept of morality and our sense of the divine. Sexuality is a strange and complicated thing, no matter what your orientation.

  162. Jennifer says:

    Lymerae said, “Sexuality is a strange and complicated thing, no matter what your orientation.”

    And I think is something we can all agree with :-)

  163. Chad says:

    SDA in Seattle,
    Thanks for your last post. It was indeed very helpful.

  164. DH says:

    So folks, what I’m hearing some of you say is that,

    “You church folks can do what you want to do. I don’t agree with it and think (some of you) an example of bigotry and hatred. But you have freedom of religion. Go for it.

    But the problem I have is that you church folks see it as your crusade to make sure that gay folks know how sinful they are and so, you’ll do all that you can to make our lives miserable.”

    Since people keep bringing up Haggard, it wasn’t just his personal ministry but the fact that he took his ministry public against the gay community. Thoughts?

  165. [...] and affirming? given the blog-eruption between eugene and the slog, i thought i’d jump on the bandwagon and share some thoughts- some of which may [...]

  166. qlma says:

    lymerae,

    I am in a similar situation. I’ve been in long term relationships with guys, but I’ve always had feelings for women as well, as long as I can remember. I have been too chicken to talk about it for fear of freaking my female friends out, and not wanting to deal with the extreme homophobic fundamentalism in my family. I have somewhat recently become very close to another bisexual woman and these feelings are overwhelming and intense and not going away. I can choose to wrench myself out of this relationship, to avoid the enormous losses it would incur in my life, but that isn’t going to guarantee that I won’t fall in love with a woman again. Suddenly the “homosexual issue” isn’t a theory about a secret, or something I can support my gay friends from a safe distance about. This is heart-wrenching and fundamental to the most basic relationships in my life (my family) not to mention questions of faith… How are you supposed to have any hope if there is not support somewhere? (I also find it difficult to “come out” to my already very out gay friends who question the idea of “bisexuality”) I think who you are attracted to is not the only issue. Who you resonate with in that deepest way… I don’t know what to do. It certainly doesn’t leave much room for hope.

  167. Phiilip says:

    There seems to be a lot of debate over whether or not homosexulaity is a sin or not. I can save you a lot of trouble and tell you right now that it is but you can be saved from it. I lived the homosexual life for seven years before meeting someone who told me point blank that I was going to hell. After the shock wore off I got mad. Very mad. But when I looked at the reason for my anger it was all coming from within. I spent the next few days thinking of how I cold get back the person who was so blunt in telling me that I was going to hell. By the end of the week I found myself face to face with God in the most powerful prayer of my life and begging for forgiveness for my sins. God healed me! God forgave me!

    It hasn’t been easy but I have been out of that lifestyle choice, and yes it is a choice, for seven years and thank God every day that someone had the guts to tell me the truth – if I didn’t repent of my homosexual life, and other sins that I was going to hell.

    I thanked that person eventually and owe them my current new life and my eternal life with God. If you ask me there seems to be two people at this forum willing to tell the truth Chad and Mrs. Crockett. If they make the homosexual mad it is for a good reason – they are telling the truth.

  168. blondein_tokyo says:

    Something I have noticed that is missing from this debate is viewpoints from non-Christians, so I thought I’d add my thoughts.

    I’m an atheist and bisexual, and just FYI, I choose to freely express my bisexuality by dating both men and women. I also have a gay brother, many LGBT friends, and am active in the gay community.

    * Is it possible for a person or a church to be “welcoming but not affirming?”

    I think not, but as I personally don’t want or need to be “confirmed” by the church, this is a moot point for me. Personally, I could care less what people like Jerry Fallwell or Mrs. T.D. Gaines or any other person, Christian or not, thinks of me or the way I choose to live my life. And, because I respect everyone’s right to their religion, I also don’t expect them to ever be accepting of me or my lifestyle. If they want to exclude me, then by all means, they should be allowed to do so. I fully support their right to live their life according to their personally chosen values.

    So Mrs. Gaines, feel free to pray for me. And I’ll feel free to ignore you. :)

    * Is it possible for a person to be in friendship with you that holds a different position on the gay issue?

    NO.

    *Is a person – despite their friendship with a gay person – automatically a bigot if they don’t share your view?

    YES

    Here is what I believe to be at the crux of the issue and the reason for the divide between the LGBT community and the Christian community: the forcing of religious values into politics.

    Christans need to understand that while the US does have a Christian majority, the seperation of church and state is necessary for everyone-including Christians- to have true freedom..

    We need a truely secular government, and to have that, we need Christians and non-Christians to cooperate. But, we have in the US a powerful Christian lobby that is doing their best to get laws passed that are discrimnate against LGBT people- laws that are based on their personal Christian beliefs. The Christian religion is therefore, being forced onto me in the form of LAWS. Laws that I am forced to obey, even though I do not share the religious viewpoint they are based on.

    If you do not believe in gay marriage, then don’t get married to a gay person.
    If you do not approve of gay sex, then don’t have gay sex.

    But do not tell me that I can’t, and do not attempt to pass laws that force your value system onto me

    This divide is NEVER going to be breached if If Christians continue to insist on using their personal religion as a means of a moral yardstick to judge other, non-Christian people’s behavior.

    So NO: I can’t be friends with someone who holds different views on the gay issue, and YES I think anyone who supports a government that passes discrimnitory laws is a bigot.

  169. lymerae says:

    Phillip, I ask honestly, because I have no idea–are you for real or are you trolling? If you’re not just a troll, and you’re honestly a gay person who has decided to abandon the “gay lifestyle” because you believe it to be wrong in the eyes of God, have you now successfully formed a heterosexual relationship? Or is it a matter of you coming “out of that lifestyle” by becoming completely celibate?

    I don’t think I need to mention to anyone on this forum how offensive it is to have a single individual state, point-blank, what is and is not a sin for every human being on this planet, as if they had a ticket-reader for the will of God. And I don’t think I need to point out how ludicrous it is to claim that everyone who has not taken a fundamentalist religious stance on this issue is somehow lying about their beliefs.

    BTW, Blodein_tokyo: I’m religious, but I’m also a non-Christian. It’s better not to assume these things.

    Eugene Cho, I am intensely interested in hearing further response from you in all this debate. I think the real issue is that most Christians, due to their personal moral convictions, can grant gays considerable civil liberties outside of the church, but can never see gays functioning in any moral system besides pure secularism. And mostly because of persecution on the hands of some Christian groups and leaders, gays are more than happy to stick to the secular realm and abandon Christianity altogether. It seems to me like a sad impasse where both groups have completely abandoned each other.

  170. MRC says:

    Phillip

    Your post is very interesting, because it opens up a question I have long had. As a “senior citizen” gay man, (who was raised in the church) I, too, have prayed and thought about the fact that something inside me always has attracted me to other men. All the praying and thinking did no good whatsoever. I’m still attracted to men and continued to be attracted to them in the past, no matter how much I “tried” at various times not to be. So the description of your situation poses me with some problems. If you were truly changed from “gay” to “straight” simply by asking for it, why not me? If God truly wants me to be “straight,” and I sincerely asked Him for help, why didn’t He instantly grant my request? Perhaps you are actually bisexual and simply pretending a portion of your nature does not exist. Only you and God know the answer to that one. But if He gave you the “rebirth” you asked for, and denied it to me, it will certainly be a major topic of conversation when I someday knock on His front door (despite your belief that I won’t be allowed in to see Him).

    I’m still left on the side of the general issue opposite from yours. God made me who I am, and apparently wants that person to be gay. As long as the church insists on encouraging its members to pass laws making me “less than equal,” I will certainly turn my back on it, which I have done. (Not, of course, turning my back on God Himself, with whom I regularly hold, admittedly one way, conversations. Not, of course, on my upbringing and views about loving others, performing acts of charity, following the ten commandments, and the like.) But I truly cannot understand the concept of “Christians” who would read, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and then vote to make them “less worthy than I.” How many “Christians” would raise their hands if asked, “Would you want someone to vote to deny you the right to marry?” “Would you want to be denied civil rights available to most others?”

  171. Jennifer says:

    Lymerae,

    I don’t know Phillip, and he can speak for himself, but I know others who have identified themselves as homosexual (not bisexual), lived in that life and had relationships, and then later, found their way to heterosexuality because of their faith. One man I know who has had that experience talks about how it is not a perfectly clear-cut thing where now, even after 15 years of marriage (with a gaggle of kids now), he still has the occasional homosexual thought, but that he has strong relationships with his wife and friends who support him, and he can admit that, and move past it, because that’s what he wants, and that’s what makes him happy.

    I don’t think “cured” is a helpful word because that implies that there was some kind of clean break, and from what I can tell, its just not that way. But, he says he happy and feels whole in the life he has now. I’m not sure God ever “takes away” the feelings entirely (and, frankly, this is true about everyone….I pray for God to take away a lot of things about me, and he doesn’t do it in any automatic kind of way. I have to struggle through them) but I think, at least for some people, they can use their faith as a way to struggle through their feelings.

  172. SDA in SEA says:

    Phillip, the ex-gay, the reformed gay. Ahhh… I’m not surprised this came up.

    For right now, I’ll leave aside the issue of you deciding for me that God views my life as a sin. Suffice to say I disagree, and I’ll move on.

    I don’t for a minute believe your assertion that you are no longer gay or that homosexuality is a choice.

    If you were attracted to men before, you are still attracted to men now. And deep down, you know it. You may not act on it. You may repress it. But the attraction is still there. And it always will be.

    The threat of hell is a powerful threat, and fear is a powerful motivator. In your fear, you have made a choice not to act on your desires. But even you say “it hasn’t been easy”. Why? If God “healed” you, those attractions would have disappeared. You aren’t healed. You don’t feel any differently now than you did before. You just act differently. You may choose not to live a gay lifestyle, but that doesn’t change who you are attracted to deep inside.

    Really, all you’ve managed to do is go back in the closet.

    The closet is where most gay people start out. With the exception of a few gay youth who can’t hide, or are extremely brave, all gay youth hide. We hope more than anything that we’ll change, that maybe we’re just a late bloomer, and eventually we’ll get attracted to girls just like all the other guys. We pray that we will. We see how gays are loathed, and pretending to be straight is a skill learned very early.

    Some gays stay in the closet their whole lives. Most these days come out. Once out, it is pretty hard to go back in. For most of us, being out, despite the discrimination, is less corrosive than living a lie, and suppressing our attraction. But as I said, fear is a powerful motivator, and can drive some people back into the closet.

    Phillip, if you are truly bisexual, if you honestly are attracted to both genders, then you may be successful in repressing the part of you that is attracted to the same gender for the rest of your life. You can ignore that part of you, and find solace in the part of you that is attracted to the opposite gender. You can even call yourself cured, if it will make you feel better.

    But if you were truly gay, then you are probably pretty frustrated right now. Because that attraction to guys isn’t gone, is it? You can try to ignore it, but it doesn’t go away. You can shut off physical contact, but you can’t shut off the desire. You can go back in the closet, but you cannot become straight.

    You can pretend to be straight, but deep inside, you are just as gay as you ever were.

    Do you really think that is what God wants? Sure, I could pretend to be straight. I could fool you or Mrs. Gaines if I want. But surely I can’t fool God. God would know I’m pretending to be something I am not.

    Are we to separate the attraction from the act? It is okay to be attracted to men, as long as I don’t act on it? I can be gay as long as I’m celibate? That seems a bit absurd, if you think about it. That means that God gave me the attraction and desire for the same gender. That the attraction is acceptable in God’s eye. But that it is not acceptable to do anything about it.

    That is akin to saying it is acceptable to like the color green, so long as I never look at the color green. Liking the color green is not a sin, only looking at the color green is a sin.

    Shall I go around the rest of my life, shielding my eyes whenever in the presence if the color green? Pretending the color green does not exist? Pretending all the wile that I really like the color red? Even if the color red is completely uninteresting to me? That God will let me into heaven if I live this sham, and toss me to hell if I don’t?

    Phillip, if you are truly, deeply happy right now, that’s great. If you are truly deeply frustrated right now, I feel sorry for you.

    But (A) I don’t think you are in a position to tell me what God thinks of me, and (B) just because you chose to go back in the closet doesn’t mean that the rest of us can. Or should.

  173. lymerae says:

    SDA, fantasticly said.

    Jennifer, I know that some people try to change themselves from homosexual to heterosexual in the name of their faith. Often they have the support of their religious leader. Some psychologists (rare and far between) will support the endeavor, and give advice on behavior modification.

    I believe that the majority of gay people renounce their faith before they turn to such a drastic method, and I believe the majority of gay people who do try such a method fail, and fail miserably. I don’t doubt that it “works” for some, if by works we mean leads to lifelong struggle and repression, but a normative family life.

    The best examination I’ve seen of the “gay conversion” phenomenon actually comes from the documentary “Trembling Before G-d,” which concerns gay individuals among the Orthodox Jewish community. I know it’s Judaism and not Christianity, but Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews cite the same verses in Leviticus to justify why homosexuality is not acceptable in God’s eyes, and to try to force gay Orthodox individuals into heterosexual marriages. It is an insightful and painful film. I wept while watching it.

  174. Jennifer says:

    MRC,

    Thank you for speaking up. I know it can be a painful story to say: God has not heard my prayer. We all have been there before. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share that.

    I don’t want to argue particulars, but can I very gently suggest that it seems pretty rare that God ever instantly grants inner change in our lives. I think that happens sometimes (and you can hear lots of “suddenly, I was cured” stories out there…) but I think, more often than not, we all have to walk a path with God on things. The depressed person (depressed due to no fault of their own, but still deeply struggling) may pray for instant healing, but God, in his mysterious ways, does not grant it. And that person is called to walk a path with God through the depression. I’m not trying to apply this to homosexuality, but just to the experience of being human in relationship with God. That person’s depression may never go away 100% and they have to struggle with the tension of walking with God when they were not “cured” automatically. That is a hard thing to do. But, I think it’s the path we all walk in some areas of our lives, rather we acknowledge it or not.

  175. Jennifer says:

    Lymerae,

    I imagine I would weep at that too.

    I would never want anyone to feel forced to change, but there are some people who do desire that, and who say they are happier because of it. I cant doubt them on that. Just like I wouldnt doubt someone who says they have no desire to change and are happy just as they are. Trying to change is one option among many and it should be respected too.

  176. lymerae says:

    Jennifer,

    Yes, I agree that they should be free to try to change if they want to. What I don’t like is the pressure to change–the pressure from religious leaders and religious groups–that says that you can’t be a full human being in the eyes of God, that you can never lead a fulfilling moral life, if you don’t try to make that change to heterosexuality. With all the evidence of how painful it is to try to go through that process, and of how often it fails and leaves the person unhappier than before, I can’t condone it as a “solution” for gay religious individuals. It’s not so much that any gay individual is ever forced to make this attempt at conversion; it’s that they’re pigeonholed into a choice between 1)become straight or 2)leave the religion. I think that’s a false dichotomy, and an unfair choice.

    Besides, the idea of gay conversion therapy implies as a basic assumption that there’s something wrong with being gay–that if the world was perfect, there would be no gay people to begin with–which is not what I believe. I realize that this is precisely the conviction that many religious people hold, but it’s not one that I can share.

  177. Phelix says:

    For those who try to change… I do respect their choice, because that honestly is a choice. They’re choosing to repress their nature in favor of another. If it works for them, if they’re happy, more power to them. All I know is that every “ex-gay” I know has never truly been “ex”. They’ve always told me that they’re living each day as it comes, fighting temptations and lusts every moment of their lives. Most of them eventually give up that fight.

    When they give up though, their original “sin” is compounded now… they were living a lie, another sin, and they will lose everything in their lives if they don’t keep the lie. I find that difficult to support. I also find it difficult to believe God would want people to live a lie for him.

  178. Jennifer says:

    Lymerae,

    I think that the choice of “become straight” or “leave the religion” is a false dichotomy too. I think there are a lot of shades in there too.

  179. lymerae says:

    Jennifer,

    I’d just like to commend you on your politeness and your continual efforts to find common ground. The world could use more people with your sense of common humanity.

  180. SDA,
    You sound mature and like you have been around the mountain on this issue so I do not want to in any way be condescending. I have really enjoyed reading all that you have written here.
    If anybody has ever made you feel like God does not accept you for exactly how you are they are wrong. You know this ,but he meets us right where we are at and so should his people. I think you said in an above post that you believe in God so I hope I´m not offending you by even brining that up.
    Jesus spent most of his time rebuking the religious people who gave pat answer and then those people killed him.
    I have not studied it all out but I do believe he used the equivalent of cussing when he rebuked them, calling them vipers, wicked and even murders.
    A problem that some of Christians are having is the question of what is sin?
    Gluttony is sin but we Christians do not rag on that from the pulpit. How many obese Pastor´s have you met? Good grief the Bible says that Gluttons will not enter the kingdom of heaven, that is very serious but there is not a sermon out there about gluttony. How many singles are fornicating and we see Pastor´s pat on them on the back and say ok, don´t do it again and they are fine. This stuff drives me nuts and has for years. We have acceptable sins in our little church worlds but if you mention the word homosexual they are intolerant. I have been in ministry for 24 years and I have seen it concerning a lot of things. I wont go on or I will get on a tangent.
    But…. some of us have a question about homosexuality and if is that God´s best (I´m ducking for cover here, I know that sounds offensive) I do not think it has to be any different than any other struggle any other Christian has! I know that is not a good enough answer for you and I wish i could give you a better one.
    I´m not the best writer SDA and cyber space is difficult sometimes.
    I really appreciate you and if you ever come to my church you are welcome. I know that is not enough but you would be welcome and not condemned.

  181. Chris says:

    If Phillip is truly happy, I’m happy for him.

    On the other hand, it is a sin to live a lie. If a person places being part of a Christian community ahead of his own integrity, he has chosen a worldly concern over God.

  182. Julie says:

    I thought SDA’s three categories of Christians was a very insightful post. There have been a lot of analogies thrown around in this discussion thread so far, and I’m going to add another one to the fray. Maybe this will resonate with people on the board here, because I’m sensing that most of the Christians are not Catholic (which is my religious background), and may find the Catholic Church’s policy that using birth control is a sin to be, well, ridiculous. Or, at least, a little wacky. So, to introduce the analogy, I present an imaginary (greatly simplified) conversation with the Pope:

    Pope: God says that using birth control is a sin
    Me: But, birth control can help a couple plan to have children when they are financially, emotionally, and physically ready to do so. Even within a marriage, couples are not always able to support children, and having children when parents are not ready can damage the health and well-being of the child.
    Pope: But, God says it’s a sin.
    Me: But, the regular use of condoms could save literally millions of lives around the world from the devastation of AIDS
    Pope: But, God says it’s a sin.
    Me: Umm. No he doesn’t?
    Pope: Yes, he does.

    I think the homosexuality debate (with people in the first two of SDA’s categories) at some point reduces down to this level. No matter how many rationale, well-thought-out reasons we articulate about homosexuality doing no harm to anyone, being a characteristic that someone is born with, etc., the response will always be “but, God says it’s a sin”. So, where do we go from that point? What hope do we have of changing the minds of Christians who think that God says homosexuality is a sin? I’d like to think there is hope, which is why I even spent time here in this discussion, but the pessimist in me thinks that nothing I say will make a difference.

  183. TJ says:

    “Quest welcomes the gay community but does not affirm the gay lifestyle.”

    I’ve never been to your church, but I was involved with similar churches when I was in college 20 years ago. Many churches “welcome” gay people so your “progressive” view isn’t very original. The fundamentalist church I was involved in “welcomed” me, but made it clear that my homosexuality was a sin and I would never be able to live a life with the person I’d fallen in love with. In their words: “It’s ok that you’re gay, you just can’t act on it.” I was singled out and “watched” as I might stumble if I demonstrated any type of affection toward anyone in my church. I was constantly being “counseled.” Even though I knew about my attractions toward the same sex from a very early age, I knew that God would change me if I truly believed it. I spent many days and nights praying to be a “normal heterosexual.”
    What exactly does it mean that you “don’t affirm the gay lifestyle”? What is the “gay lifestyle”? I suspect that somehow my relationship with my partner is viewed as a lesser, more evil version, of my heterosexual counterparts who are affirmed in your church. In other words, I’m not truly welcome to your church within a same-sex relationship. Basically, anyone is “welcome” to your church as long as they abide by your rules. I respect this, which is why a majority of the gay and lesbian people I know have turned their backs on the established, self-righteous churches because, for years, they’ve been made to feel that God somehow created them as inferior, wrong, dirty or sinful. Being singled out in one’s church as the worst kind of sinner is somewhat hard on us. The church’s attitudes toward GLBT people has lead to the self-loathing “lifestyle” they have propagated. Is it any wonder why the suicide rates of gay teens is four times higher than heterosexual youth when the churches’ message is that God despises you and your so-called “lifestyle.”? Many churches’ message about the AIDS epidemic being “God’s curse” on gay people for the past 20 years probably hasn’t helped either.
    And what is it that makes you feel as if we need more “compassion” than others in your congregation. Those poor disgraceful gay sinners. You know what we want? We want to be complete part of your congregations, as families and couples. We want our relationships respected and, yes, affirmed. We don’t want to be part of your special “christian” compassion projects so you can tout yourselves as being “welcoming.” Indeed, the church helped to create the “gay lifestyle,” a life and community where we struggled to learn not to hate ourselves, to undo the damage done to us by our “loving Christian” brethren, and to find affirmation in our relationships and self-worth.

  184. Jennifer says:

    Lymerae,

    Thank you so much. That really touches my heart.

    I think the world can use a lot more people like you with passion for justice and mercy.

  185. Fnarf says:

    I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as that, Julie.

    First of all, I don’t know a lot about Quest, but I know it’s not Catholic, and I’m pretty sure it’s not heirarchical; I don’t think Pastor Cho is transmitting the received interpretations of a higher (earthly) body to his parishioners. They are in a sense “on their own”, trying to find the way to God, with his guidance. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    So there isn’t any Pope to say “yes it is, end of discussion”. People have to come to that understanding — or a different one — on their own. I think a lot of public evangelicals, along the lines of Jerry Falwell, have made a career out of making it seen like there was a fixed position on every issue, and that there was no point in even trying to figure out what you believe — I’m TELLING you what’s what. But that’s not really true to how most people find their religion, I don’t think. The whole point of the evangelical movement in America is moving away from earthly authority to a godly one, DIRECTLY revealed.

    An awful lot of people are too tired and afraid to really look for answers; they want a done-up package they can buy. I might add this as a fourth category to SDA’s list, at the beginning. But I don’t think Eugene and those of his flock who are here in the forum are like that.

    Not everyone — in fact maybe a big majority — of the people on my side of this argument don’t really understand that. You see it in the Slog comments sometimes, where people don’t grasp the difference between a Catholic perspective, an Anglican one, and a fundamentalist or evenagelical one. I don’t pretend to know all the distinctions either, but I’ve tried to learn. It’s surprisingly difficult to find anything about ANY religion that isn’t designed to convince people who already believe that they’ve made the right choice, that “don’t worry, we’re right and they’re wrong”. I ran into this when I was researching my family history, and I wanted to find out more about what, say, Presbyterians believe, and all I could find was stuff on GOVERNANCE, not belief.

    I also know that it’s very common, indeed natural, for someone with very rigid thinking (or more accurately an internal agreement to STOP thinking), to suffer when the foundations of that rigidity start crumbling, and to become MORE reactionary and close-minded as the awareness of failure nears. No one likes to have the edifice of their world view fall out from under them.

    I think a lot of very hard-line Christian conservatives are experiencing this. I say this just because I know that for every “ex-gay” who has successfully become heterosexual, there are several ex-fundamentalists who have come to see the error of their ways.

    I don’t mean ex-Christians. I know for absolute fact that it is possible to be in SDA’s third category, and be Christian, and not just grudgingly accept but celebrate gay people.

    Philip’s testimony is sadly not very convincing to me, because it seems rote. It reads like it was copied off the pamphlets that he got in the “ex-gay” camp. Whether that’s because he’s new to it, or because he’s bad at saying what he really feels, or because he copied it off the pamphlets, I don’t know. I’ll judge him on my own time, maybe, but not here. I’ll just say that it’s not convincing.

    I’m not saying it’s not possible, just like I’m not saying that a lifetime of celibacy isn’t possible. But I think it’s not a realistic solution for most people. Part of accepting gays is understanding that almost nothing works for everyone.

    I know that the guys who founded Exodus, the most famous ex-gay organization, have recently admitted that their program doesn’t work and is profoundly hurtful and damaging to people.

    Mrs. Gaines-Crockett is a fake, and she’s having a little game with you, I’m afraid. She’s winding you up. I mean, seriously “Taffy Davenport Gaines-Crockett”? And she doesn’t believe in the solar system? I have stacks of internet evidence, if you don’t believe me. It’s a clever joke, and again — I’d love to play it, but not here. It’s not appropriate, as long as there are people here who are genuinely trying to understand each other.

    I think SDA answered Chad better than I can, but I’m going to add my own, which is to reiterate that there IS a third way between your absolutes. I just can’t believe that the prohibition against homosexuality is being interpreted correctly. And I don’t believe that strict adherence to the law trumps the fact of millions of people. If it did, then there are millions of people created by God who are an abomination to him, and I don’t understand that. OK, sure, “mysterious ways”, but still. These people are our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews. They are our friends. They’re all abominations to God?
    If you believe that the words in the Bible are the literal truth, straight up, then this discussion isn’t for you. Not just on homosexuality, but Adam and Eve, the flood, Jonah and the whale, all of it. But I think the Bible is much more subtle, much more complex than that. Parables don’t have to be literally true to speak to us. It doesn’t matter whether a guy named Androcles really pulled that thorn out of the lion’s paw. It matters what the words mean to us, and what inspired them. It is possible to be inspired by God, and to believe that the Bible was inspired by God, and still believe that it is the work of men trying to write the word of God, and of their culture. Other things in the Bible are recognized as being temporal and restricted; why not this? Especially in the face of the people it has been claimed to address – people who didn’t even exist back then?

    Think of it this way. How could you be gay? If you’re straight, imagine having gay sex. Yuck, right? Disgusting, a total turnoff, not going to happen. If you’re a man, it’s not technically possible, because you can’t even become aroused. It’s going to set off zero signals in your brain or in your groin, and it’s probably going to make you profoundly uncomfortable and miserable. That’s straight sex for gays. How are they supposed to live any differently? It’s HOW THEY ARE.

    Where does the sex impulse come from? If God made us, didn’t he make our sex impulse as well? That impulse manifests itself in some of us one way and some of in another, but it’s still coming from God, right? It has to.

    Now, some of you have asked, why is sex so important to gays? Why do you say it’s the “core of their being”? It’s not the core of MY being. But think back to my paragraph above about what gay sex would be like if you were straight. How important would your straight identity be THEN? Very darned important, I think. You’d be panicking, you’d be terrified, you’d be disgusted. That sex impulse is there. Maybe it’s not strong in you, but I’ll bet the opposite would be.

    That’s the kind of reaction that you’re asking gays to endure. And since it comes from inside, you are asking them to be revulsed by themselves. That’s just shocking and horrible, to ask people to live with disgust and denial at themselves? God cannot have created us for that, unless you believe He is a total sadist.

    So, anyways, I don’t know how much more we’re going to accomplish here. I’m about done. I don’t know if I’ve changed anybody’s mind or not, but I hope I’ve put a seed of an idea in your mind, and that some of you will start to realize that you CAN celebrate and affirm your gay buddies. They are not just grudgingly “sort of OK”; they are AWESOME. They bring life and spirit back into my life, and they can to yours if you let them.

  186. Jennifer says:

    Fnarf,

    I really do appreciate that you are trying to see the differences between various Christian groups. I am forever feeling like I want to say, “I’m a Christian, but not the Jerry Falwell type…” just to try and show that there are differences.

    I think, at the end of the day, we (and many people who have posted here) would have a lot in common and could have a good time over a cup of coffee (and Quest’s Q cafe serves a great cup). I’ve really appreciated hearing so many people’s stories here.

  187. e cho says:

    TJ: Thanks for your post. Quest nor I pretend to be perfect. I believe – for both you and me – we are both depraved and beautiful. I believe that Jesus has done enough; he has done the work of forgiving us and our lives are a journey of transformation.

    Lymerae: I’ll write more about the questions posed on Friday. There’s been some good thoughts from Jennifer, Jeff, David, and others that I think seek to capture the gray areas.

    All 400 people at Quest are not of one mind. Even amongst the staff, couple folks have been bold enough to post their thoughts [and linked their blogs] to come out of the closest – if you will – to share their views and support for the gay community.

    I’ll also post Dan’s letter when it arrives likely tomorrow.

  188. TJ says:

    I should add that it is refreshing to be able to dialogue about this issue, something that would have been impossible to do 20 years ago.

  189. Chad says:

    I understand the legislative support for gay marriage and why’s that so damn important. But here’s some questions for anybody:

    How does the government legislate anything? Who determines what’s appropriate? Why is polygamy illegal? Where’s the gay community fighting for the rights of polygamists?

  190. CL says:

    while it’s not the church’s job to change people, it is the church’s church to try to humbly communicate god’s heart. i think that is what eugene is merely trying to do. whether i agree with him or not is not the biggest issue for him. i want to know how he does that. i’m sick of the church and their downright bullying. why? because they can. that’s the point i want to share.

    i also think we need to be open to homosexuals that choose to be celibate or choose to “force” themselves to be heterosexual. i know it’s hard for the majority of the gay community to believe, these things do take place.

  191. Fnarf says:

    The reason I’m not fighting for the rights of polygamists is because there aren’t really any polygamists to fight for.

    There’s the ex-Mormon breakaway sects, but if you take a closer look at them, they are REALLY, REALLY SCARY. Their polygamy isn’t really about the freedom to love differently; it’s about sexual control, starting with very young girls. And the boys are just discarded, told to hit the highway and get the hell out with no money, no skills, not even any real schooling. It’s also tied up in an extremist anti-government political ideology that has a lot more in common with people like Timothy McVeigh than it does the LBTG community center. So, no, I’m not too excited about fighting for them.

    Other than that, there just aren’t polygamist groups, except possibly for some recent Arab immigrants, and I don’t think they’re pushing that issue at all.

    I understand what you’re getting at, Chad, but I just don’t think the situation is comparable.

  192. CL says:

    sorry, i meant to say “church’s job” and not “church’s church in the first line.

  193. Chad says:

    Fnarf,

    I’m glad you see what I’m trying to say.
    But think about it.
    Why are you judging these extremist polygamists? It’s illegal in our country. Who’s to say that I won’t take for myself couple additional wives if I know that it’s legal.

    As for the question someone post about Christians and legislation…it’s too late. Everyone has lobbyists now including the gay contingency. Let’s be honest. The gay contingency is strong as hell which is probably the reason why the right wing Christians Robertsons are so damn scared and insistent that it needs to go away.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Politics is a dirty game and everyone’s playing mean – not just the Christians.

  194. Fnarf says:

    Chad, I’m trying to meet your mind here. I’m sorry that you’re not interested in reciprocating. You’re being flippant. To me that, and your attempt to bring politics in (which is a different issue) suggests you either don’t care or don’t have any real arguments left.

  195. thkim says:

    194 comments! this is more popular than the IPHONE!

  196. Julie says:

    Chad – some of the earlier posts about polygamy talk about how in many cases polygamy does hurt people. That’s how we know extremist polygamist are wrong and why we can judge them. Because of it’s impact on the people involved.

    Fnarf – I realize that most Christian demoninations do not have a Pope-like figure who they believe is infallible and directly interprets the word of God. I was just trying to give an example of a “sin” that many people on this blog may not believe is a sin, and show that when someone says “because God says so”, the discussion can’t go very far. With many Christians(even many of the Christians on this blog), the discussion of homosexuality goes like:

    Me: Argument #1 why homosexuality is not immoral (e.g., it does no harm to any parties involved)
    Christian: But, God says it’s a sin (i.e., I believe, through my study and prayer, that God is not pleased with homosexual relationships)
    Me: Argument #2 why homosexuality is not immoral (e.g., homosexuality is a characteristic people are born with)
    Christian: But, God says it’s a sin.

    Ad infinitum.

  197. blondein_tokyo says:

    Re. Polygamy.

    Speaking of alternative lifestyles someone always brings up polygamy. But as Fnarf said, the people who practice it are doing so under the rule of their relgion rather than choosing it freely.

    What you may want to throw into the discussion instead is polyamory. Polyamory refers to couples who freely, and with mutual consent, accept a third or even fouth person into their relationship. http://www.polyamory.org/

    These couples also face similar problems as us in the LGBT community, ie. marriage rights, right to visit spouse in the hospital, adoption of children, and so on.

    Personally I think the LGBT and polyamorits would be smart to campaign together for their rights, but as they don’t really understand or identify with each other’s lifestyles that is not very likely to happen. (It would be like African Americans campaining for Asian American rights)

    And polyamorists aren’t swingers….that’s a whole ‘nother category of misunderstood people who also regulary get lampooned by the church….actually, the list of people lampooned by the chruch goes on and on…and on.

    I have another question: Since there are churches that do accept LGBT and other “alternative” lifesyle couples, why don’t LGBT people attend those churches? If there isn’t one in their area, they can either travel, or start their own?

    While I don’t think it’s right for churches to condem LGBT people, it’s also not MY place to dictate their beliefs to them.

    You see, seperation of church and state works for both sides- I won’t campaign to force churches accept me, and I won’t protest against their beliefs- IF they are willing to give me the same freedoms that they themselves enjoy. Namely, marriage.

    But I feel that the majority of churches are not willing to do that. They continue to legislate their Christian views by forcing them into politics. So the debate continues, and the gap widens.

  198. Jennifer says:

    Julie,

    I agree with you that some Christians can only analyze this at that level. I hate that kind of shallow thinking as much as you do.

    But, I do think it’s important to acknowledge that there are Christians who are thinking this through more than that. One example was offered (waaaay back in the middle of this conversation – I wish the comments were numbered) about how theology of God and gender shapes ideas about homosexuality. Another idea was alluded to in mentioning William Webb’s book (which, in summary, looks at the hermeneutics of what he calls the “redemptive trajectory”). Another point of view has to do with the testimony of people who have gone through change. And there are other points of view. It’s hard to really go into detail on some of this (Webb’s book especially) because of the limitations of blog-commenting.

    Actually, you might be surprised at the depth of theological thought that some people put into birth control options. I don’t want to get into that here, but it goes waaaay beyond “because God said no.”

    I know its easy to be frustrated with the Christian community on this issue – and the truth is I get frustrated with Christians who don’t think too! – but please don’t paint us all as simpletons who blindly follow things and have no idea why.

  199. Cascadia says:

    What a thoughtful and refreshing thread. I am a member of one of the most unique sexual minorities there is and it is amazing how often people make assumptions about me since I am not easy to type-cast. was raised in a Christian home, went to Young life and other Christian summer camps and have always attended church. (usually Methodist or Presbyterian)

    I am one of those rare “straight” women over the age of 30 who is still a virgin (no intercourse). No one actually believes me and men often hit me in the shoulder and laugh when I tell them. I have no problem with desire or arousal but for me personally sex is or can be something sacred and intensely intimate. It can also just be fun or a physical release but I am spoiled and want more. I teach most of the men I date Tantra to keep them satisfied and I know that oral sex is in fact “sex” but for me it is okay.

    In college one of my female roommates fell in love with me and although I loved her and was even with her (yes in bed) a few times I could tell I was essentially straight. Shortly after-ward I dated a Mormon man who was the descendant of a polygamous family and was surprised to learn that in the LDS faith it wasn’t this horrible patriarchal system meant to oppress women. So many people are so quick to look at the sexual aspects of intimate relationship versus the heart.

    After college I worked a a local non-profit that serves the Gay community, and dated a Mormon man (and not had pre-marital sex as a result) at the same time. I used to wonder what would happen if I ever brought my Christian, gay and Mormon friends all into the same room at the same time.

    So today rather then simply judging from afar I actually went to Quest for the first time. No one asked me what my sexual orientation was. A few weeks ago I went to a Methodist church in Wallingford and it was so welcoming and affirming that as a straight single women I felt left out. So in the end, I don’t know that God really cares all that much about my sexuality nor that of my friends. I do believe that s/he does care how much we show one another the true love of Christ. That love is asexual and it requires me to love everyone as Christ loves me. I try to not judge anyone else and hopefully no one will judge me either. Perhaps we will reach the point were it is more important to ask if someone loves their neighbor then if they had sex with someone. It is encouaging to see a congregation and group of people who not only admit at times that they don’t know but also are willing to take a stand that might not be politically popular here in Seattle. No one at Mars Hill questions their faith or their doctrine but Quest seems to have the foundation and strength to not only reach out but look within. Thank you for welcoming the last remaining virgin on the West coast to your home today.

    Cassie

  200. Wraith Pilot says:

    I’m not religious, Christian, or gay so it was really insightful to see the views from both sides which I’m not a part of. After reading through the intelligent discussions that has been going on, it was easy for me to agree with the gay community on this issue because it was not easy for me to really understand the Christian’s frame of mind, since I don’t believe that there’s a God and I have my logical reasons for believing so, but that’s another topic entirely. However, I did try to look at the issue from a Christian point of view.

    Let’s just say as an example that there is a God and that in “God’s perfect creation”, homosexuality was not intended. If that was the case, it should be reasonable to say that people with disabilities, birth defects, allergies, etc. was not intended by God either. Now, would it be morally correct not to affirm someone because they were born with a disability? I know it’s not same as being gay since that’s not a disability but it’s not a choice either. Just like the unfortunate people who were born without the ability to walk, see, hear, etc. Those people already have life as hard as it already. Would it be God’s intention not to affirm those people because they aren’t His/Her/Its perfect creation? The same can be said for the people of the gay community since they too have gone through hardship because of their difference.

  201. kc says:

    Thank you, Wraith Pilot – I was wondering the same thing – am I as a disabled person excluded from “God’s perfect plan”? I tend to think that if there is a God who is involved in such details, and is about the love that followers of Jesus claim to espouse, the circumstances are incidental to the heart. How you love is more significant than who you love. The heart matters more than the body parts involved… Isn’t that the sort of thing Jesus talked about so much? That people weren’t supposed to get so caught up in the details?

  202. Chad says:

    Fnarf,

    sorry to have riled you. not my intent. but the comment about politics was sincere.

    wraith: I think it comes down again if one believes it’s a sin or not. it has nothing to do with the question of God’s love. of cousre Jesus loves all but didn’t he also tell the woman caught in sin ‘Go and sin no more?’

  203. Torrie says:

    KC,
    I do think it’s a different situation. Jesus clearly loved all people. But don’t you believe or want to believe that one day, all sickness, tears, and disability will be no more?

  204. SDA in SEA says:

    “So today rather then simply judging from afar I actually went to Quest for the first time. No one asked me what my sexual orientation was.”
    – Cascadia

    First, I have very carefully not made any judgements about Quest or pastor Cho. I have tried to answer questions he posed, and people on this blog posed. He may or may not be my personal ideal of who I might want as my pastor/minister/priest (I don’t really know yet), but I have found him to be open to discussion and deep contemplation, which is refreshing. Likewise, Quest church doesn’t have any clearly stated policy or viewpoint, one way or another. The very point of this blog post is that they appear to be grappling with the issue, which is also refreshing.

    Second, “No one asked me what my sexual orientation was” is really oversimplified. Of course they didn’t. They assumed you were straight. Almost all of us do that all the time. Unless we encounter a very effeminate man or very masculine woman, we automatically assume people we encounter are straight. Even most gay people assume most people we meet are straight (unless we’re in a gay bar). Statistically, there’s about a 90% chance that assumption will be correct.

    Most Christians, even the most virulently right wing Christians, are unfailingly polite when you first visit their church. I can’t imagine even Pat Robertson asking me about my sexual orientation if I walked into his church some Sunday. Polite people simply don’t inquire about someone’s sexual orientation. They assume you are straight, and if you’re not, they probably don’t want to know otherwise.

    So the simple fact that nobody asks about my sexual orientation does NOT necessarily make me feel safe or even welcome.

    Knowing that people are generally polite, and knowing they will by default assume I’m straight, sets up an automatic conflict for me whenever I meet someone I don’t know. Do I let them continue to assume I’m straight (a lie of omission)? If I decide to tell them, when do I tell them? Even if I meant well, it would be incredibly crass for me to simply introduce myself: “Hi, I’m SDA and I’m a homo.” So how long do I wait? The longer I wait, the more foolish and deceived you will feel for thinking I’m straight. It’s safer and easier, at least initially, if I simply remain silent and let you assume I’m straight. I have to play it by ear. I have to evaluate. Is it relevant? Is it safe? And by safe, I mean physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

    If I were to walk into an unknown church, I have to be honest and tell you that my defenses would be on extremely high alert. There’s a lot of bad history there, and I’ve spent more than 40 years honing my defenses. I’ve never been discriminated against by an atheist. Every bit of discrimination I’ve experienced every day of my life has been at the hands of religious people, mostly those who call themselves Christian. Yes, there are accepting and affirming Christians, but they are clearly outnumbered by Christians who believe I’m going to hell. Some of the loudest and most powerful Christians in the country have blamed me for causing 9/11, hurricane Katrina, the general collapse of morals in this country, and purple teletubbies.

    So a church has got to go way beyond simply being polite before I would feel safe enough to burst your bubble by telling you your assumption that I’m straight is wrong.

    I could have walked into Quest this morning too, and experienced the same polite people you did. That would not have given me any reassurance whatsoever. Unless I heard or read something, somewhere, from someone there, clearly indicating that they fully accepted and affirmed gay people as part of God’s family, then I would have very politely let everyone continue to assume I’m straight, and walked out at the end, and they’d never hear from me again.

    Is that fair? Probably not. But given the history of Christian churches in this country, I feel the onus is on the church to give me some sort of clear signal of their acceptance (not simply polite tolerance) in order for me to feel safe. In the absence of any clear signal, I’m going to assume the church is not a safe place for me, spiritually.

  205. Wraith Pilot says:

    Chad,

    Yes and I was trying to make a connection as to why it is believed to be a sin. It’s not a sin to wear glasses because one was born with the inability to see properly, it’s not a sin to use a wheelchair because one can’t walk, it’s not a sin to receive aid from a person because of a disability, and so forth. Then why would it be a sin to have sensual love with someone of the same sex because one was born with that orientation? Where in the Ten Commandments does that violate?

  206. e cho says:

    I don’t want to self-elevate myself here. I feel like I’ve made the most significant contribution to this conversation by changing the template so that the comments can be numbered…

  207. DH says:

    julie,

    so as long as an action doesn’t hurt another person, it’s acceptable, right? and because homosexuality is between two consensual adults, it’s perfectly healthy, right? using that logic of course makes sense.

    i think some christians are just trying to communicate that our sense of ethics don’t come from just that thread. i think it’s a legitimate thought but there’s more to what constitutes the moral ethics for the xtian worldview.

    and just because something isn’t included in the 10 commandments doesn’t mean that it’s not important to jesus.

  208. Desmond says:

    SDA,

    Thanks for your posts again. They’re very insightful. So, the ONLY way for you to feel safe at a church is for the church to be completely AFFIRMING of your homosexual lifestyle, right?

    I may have missed it. Are you religious? Do you go to church?

  209. Mary Jo says:

    SDA,

    You are so right… nobody is ever going to ask anybody what your sexual orientation is when you go to Church.
    I have worked in churches for 23 years and I have never heard of anybody asking that at the door.

    I am one of the main Pastor’s in our church and I have never looked around the room trying to spot a gay person. I would not presume or know, I have no idea if this good or bad but i never know! For one thing I have several male friends who are effeminate and they are not gay
    I’m sorry you have been hurt by churches SDA.
    Mary Jo.

  210. chad m says:

    what an amazing conversation! as a Christian and a pastor, i am frustrated by the Church’s dealings with homosexuality on a few levels. however, i don’t necessarily feel the freedom to speak openly WITHIN the Church about sexuality. i must admit, we church folk have a tough time speaking about sexuality, period! i suppose it has something to do with a fear of vulnerability…

    moving on to my bigger frustration: somehow we have arbitrarily decided which sins are the worse; we have decided that God hates certain sins more than others. but my reading of Scripture does not allow me to say sexuality doesn’t matter just as my reading of Scripture does not allow me to say how i spend my money doesn’t matter.

    i believe homosexuality is a sin in the same way gluttony, pride, greed and envy are sins. it saddens me that the greedy, arrogant, wealthy, divorced, etc are welcomed with open arms (are encouraged) while others are scorned and judged the minute they show up. i just wish we spoke as openly and fervently against these vices as we do with an issue such as homosexuality. that might just level the playing field and we may finally all realize we are all sinners, all depraved, all in need of a Savior. yes. even us church folk!

  211. Phelix says:

    Yay for numbering system!

    Ahem… on another note, I too decided to actually visit Quest and see what “welcoming but not affirming” was like, and to be honest, I felt oddly affirmed.

    The service was good. Friendly… the praise and worship hit something that I’ve not found in other churchs in Seattle. Pastor Leah’s preaching was easy to get into, easy to follow… I especially loved her conclusion though. She wrapped up her section of Jonah, and then began speaking on what it meant to modern Christians… and one thing leapt out at me. She was listing off things we, as christians, should oppose. Things we should stand up and fight against. She listed off poverty, homelessness, sexism, and homophobia. I honestly didn’t expect that.

    Now, it’s not like I walked in wearing rainbows, a pink shirt and a pair of dasisy dukes with a guy on each arm, but I felt comfortable there. I smiled at the attractive men, and there were quite a few, I smiled at the attractive women too… chatted a little here and there. Maybe it would have been different if I’d brought a man with me. I saw several hetero couples holding hands, arms draped casually around each other. Would I have been as comfortable if I’d brought a boyfriend with me and draped my arm around him? I’m not sure.

    That said, I’m fairly certain I’ll be back next Sunday.

  212. Jennifer says:

    Phelix,

    I thought of this conversation too when I heard Pastor Leah say that we should be agaisnt homophobia. :-) I’m right with you there.

    Leah rocked this morning :-)

    I’m glad you came and glad it was a good experience for you.

  213. Julie says:

    DH @201. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in that my sense of morality and ethics is derived from a different place than most Christians. I think humans are capable of creating viable systems of morality/ethics, independent of religion and God’s word. I fully understand that Christians derive their sense of morality from something greater than the tenets I follow. Most Christians use “what the Bible/God says” to inform their sense of morality (either 100%, or in combination with some of their own individually derived tenets). I do not, and doubt that I will ever accept something as immoral/unethical solely because it says so in the Bible or “it’s wrong in God’s eyes” or as moral/ethical because the Christian tradition has no problem with it.

    And, Jennifer, I’m sorry, but I think all the examples you raised, when you follow them all the way to their logical end, at their simplest form reduce down to “because God said so”, though obviously said in a more complex way than that (though, the “theology of God and gender” one may reduce to “because the pieces don’t fit together”, if you’re referring to the comment I think you are).

    Anyways… will people with secular ethics systems ever accept things as moral/immoral that cannot be derived from human logic and rational thinking? Will people with religious ethics systems ever accept things as moral/immoral based on logical and rational arguments that contradict what the Bible says (or what they understand God to say)? Who knows.

    While this conversation has been excellent, I wonder whether anyone’s minds will be (or have been) changed. Lots of people have said that the discussion has given them something to think about, but has anybody’s stance on the core issue moved even a little bit?

  214. jklam says:

    phelix — very happy to hear you felt welcomed at quest. i really hope you find a home in this community.

  215. clarity says:

    I’d also like to add that the “welcome but not affirmed” stance that most Christian churches take isn’t just an issue for gay people. It is an issue for straight people as well. I believe in equality, and love. Until the church accepts and affirms everyone I’ll avoid it all costs.

  216. SDA in SEA says:

    Desmond (@202), yes, of course the only way for me to feel completely safe at a church is when I am in a church that is completely affirming of my life. Why would I feel otherwise?

    I do not believe that being gay is a sin. You may feel free to agree or disagree as you like. I do not wish to argue specific Bible passages with anyone, but I think we can all agree that well meaning Christians disagree about the interpretations of the Bible. Some churches say that being gay is a sin, some churches say that being gay is NOT a sin, and some really don’t say much on the subject one way or another. So of course I am going to feel most safe to express my spirituality in a church who’s beliefs most closely match my own.

    This is true of all sorts of issues. Some women feel called by God to be ministers. Some churches allow women to be ministers, and some do not. So if a woman feels called by God to be a minister, she probably will affiliate herself with a church that affirms her beliefs. Or perhaps she will stay in a church that does not allow that, hoping to influence them to change (personally, I think that would be a highly frustrating endeavor, but more power to her). Likewise, an evolutionary biologist would likely feel more at home in a church that does not hold a strict creationist viewpoint. And so on.

    There are so many places where I do not feel completely safe. Gay people as a whole are bombarded daily by messages from society that we are immoral, that we destroy family values, that we are incompatible with military service, that we are sinners, and so on. I live in a country where it is acceptable political discourse for Ann Coulter to call a presidential candidate a faggot on national television. Within the last 5 years, something like 15 states have changed their constitutions to specifically deny me the right to marry the man I love and have spent more than 20 years with. Think about that for a moment. That many states haven’t acted that quickly to change their constitutions in this country since the end of prohibition. I feel that palpable oppression as a constant drain on my soul daily.

    Like an infant who craves acceptance from it’s mother, I crave acceptance too. And I sure don’t get it from society. So I have to put extra effort into surrounding myself with friends who fully accept me, love me, and affirm my beliefs, just to stave off the daily societal oppression. I need to have people in my life who aren’t simply polite to me or nice to me, who simply tolerate me, but people who encourage and nurture the relationship I have with my partner, just as a married hetero couple would want friends to support and encourage their marriage. I need people who love that I’m gay, not people who tell me they love me in spite of the fact that I’m gay.

    I know that’s a lot to ask, and of course I don’t ask that of everyone. But I need a few people around like that for my emotional well being. And I need that in my church for my spiritual well being.

  217. clarity says:

    Bravo SDA in SEA.

  218. El says:

    One more on polygamy…

    It’s just a different issue. Many of the arguments used in the gay marriage debate, for and against, might apply – but it’s hardly the same thing. If polygamists ever do want to organize and fight for their rights to legal marriage, they are free to do so. Most likely, there would be gays and straights on both sides of the issue. But if it happens, they’ll have their own set of arguments; some people will probably be convinced, and others won’t. It wouldn’t be an easy battle. So far, I haven’t heard any actual arguments from anyone wanting to make polygamy legal – just a lot of anti-gay groups using potential polygamy as a reason gay marriage shouldn’t be made legal (the slippery slope).

    Also, great discussion.

  219. Used2Believe says:

    This has been fascinating to read from both sides of the issue. Thanks to all for their polite and well-reasoned comments; as Fnarf said in the beginning, this is the first time I’ve witnessed gay people and born-again Christians try to have a conversation without shouting at each other. May there be more of this in the world.
    As both an ex-‘straight’/ex-Christian and a gay man (not the other way round) I have some thoughts on this subject. First, I spent 13 years in a born-again fundamentalist Christian group, doing ALL within my power to live a straight life. I married a sweet church woman, had two children, ministered the Word in the church, and prayed as much as I physically, mentally and spiritually could, because I believed that being gay was sinful and not in God’s plan for man or for me. I knew way before accepting Jesus that I was gay, but did not want that for myself. At the same time I accepted Christ, I quit smoking cigarettes. After 13 years, I could honestly say that I no longer craved a cigarette at all, but my desire for intimacy in spirit, mind and body with a man had become all-consuming. My wife was sick of my unhappiness spilling into our life together. No matter how much she tried to please me in every way, I was never at peace with our life, though I tried with all I was. Was more attracted to men at 29 than I’d been at 15, without once indulging my desires, other than to form very intimate friendships with men. Not physical, but very emotionally intimate. These too were against church teaching, though nothing physical had occurred, and I was counseled to terminate them by church elders. The scripture quoted here was “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable” I Cor. 6:12.
    In the end I knew if something didn’t change, I would end my life. So I came out, left Christ and the church, my wife and two young sons, my home we’d bought to grow old together in and went away to ‘indulge’ my sinful gay nature. I have lived as an out gay man for 21 years now, have been married for 15+ years (not legally yet) to the most good, kind, generous and loving man I have ever known. I was fortunate in that my ex-wife did not persecute me as many ex-wives of gay men do after the breakup, and we remained close friends, able to raise our sons cooperatively and peacefully. The three of us are able to work together in any occasion required for our sons. I am happy now, but for the loss of my dear friend Jesus, from whom I never felt the least bit of judgement or condemnation. Only His followers condemn me, not Him.
    The question has been raised about glbt folks and christian spirituality. My experience in the church taught me that I was inherently sinful, not only after I’d left the church to be out, but even before I’d left, as I desired men the whole time I was there. I was unable to fulfill my life as a christian, even with God’s grace, blood and spirit, because I was never granted a moment’s peace, free of my gay nature during the entire time I walked with the Lord. Those who claim to be ex-gay have signed up for a similar life, and in their deepest, darkest times know they are not ex-gay, but only denying who they are for Christ’s sake. I no longer walk with the Jesus I knew, because I still believe that God condemns my very being. Do I think God made me this way? Yes, as I’ve never known any other way to be. Perhaps the evil-one lied to me in-utero about being gay, but there was never a time when I chose to be gay. I just am. To the ‘type 1′ christians above, I’m simply indulging my sinful nature as a gay man, and need to return to Christ. I was (and still would be) a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin christian, my belief is that deeply grounded. I do not attend church, nor am I comfortable in any group that worships the great I AM, Jehovah, YWEH. Who I am is not safe there, among God’s chosen. I am not safe among christians for all the well-articulated reasons listed by others above.
    It is my belief today that there are christians out there who are comfortable with me, exactly as I am, who do not understand gay, but who also believe that God did not make millions of mistakes, and are happy to leave that mystery up to God to resolve. They are few and far between in my experience, but they exist. Will I attend church and worship the Lord with them? No, because the God I know may be loving, but is not affirming, and neither are most christians.
    I know that Mrs Gaines-Crockett and others believe with all their heart that they are loving christians speaking the truth to sin and un-righteousness, who would bring me back to Christ by His blood and promise of eternal life. But what good is eternal life when a daily life in hell exists for the gay man walking with the Lord in this one? That is what Welcoming but not Affirming is to believers who love Jesus but are gay. Until His people are able to both love and accept, leaving this as a mystery like so many others in the christian faith, one that only God can sort out, but is way beyond our mortal understanding, I see little common ground between glbt folks and christians.
    I sincerely hope that somewhere in all this discussion, a christian has glimpsed just a bit of humanity and God’s creation and glory in glbt people trying to explain on this blog. We do not wish to be offensive to God or to you. We just simply are who we are, and would like to have basic human rights, the ability to persue happiness, peace and joy with our families and those whom we love and who love us in return.
    Peace and joy be with you all who have read or contributed to this (I believe) divinely inspired discussion.

  220. Tracy says:

    Used2Believe…wow to your post. As an imperfect Christian I really appreciate your respect and the tone of your thoughts and expressions. Quest is just one church of many churches that have a heart for God and not religion (at least I hope).

    As a non-traditional black christian female (who didn’t embrace the Charismatic teachings…o don’t get me wrong I am EXCITED to be in the Lord…big smiles…) who took some courses at one of most conversative theology school I believe in the Northwest (back in the day…hehehe) I have first hand experience in legalism and fundamentalism at it’s worst (people in fundamentalism arena would as at it best…but hey EVERYONE has an opinion…hehehe). Yet, I do respect differences. It is not my agenda to change people’s views more so than it is my agenda to love.

    I do believe in God’s Grace…and not in condemnation. I do believe as some christians I am not “affirming” (for a lack of a better word). But on a more important note: thank you for your post.

  221. Jennifer says:

    Julie (in #207 – Lovvvvve the numbering, PE!)

    I really appreciate your perspective. Thank you for saying how you see it.

    There are a number of difficulties about listing reasons “why homosexuality is wrong” in this conversation. The most basic one is that there are so many various causes.

    Science has made some advances in helping us understand how homosexuality can have a genetic component. But, if you’ve looked at that information at all, you know we’ve still got a long way to go. The problem is that people want to over apply this information. Just because science can find a correlation (and remember that correlation is not causation) in a some people, does not mean that experience applies to every person who ever had a thought of attraction toward a member of their same sex.

    Honestly, from a “what is wrong” perspective, the genetic information is the hardest to explain – but, science has only scratched the surface on this and is still far from proving any one specific person is homosexual or not. They can show that the possibility for two monozygots to both be homosexual is higher than for two dizygots, or regular siblings. But that does not prove all homosexual attraction in every person is genetic. So, while this is hard to explain, we’ve all still got a long way to go in understanding. And while I’m keeping an open mind, I’m also not wanting to over apply what we know so far.

    So, for a moment, lets put aside the genetic question. I acknowledge that aspect is there, and that I don’t have a response to it that you would find compelling.

    There are other homosexual people, who by their own admission, would say that they found their way to homosexuality through some sort of difficulty home life, or through what happened to them in sexual abuse, or through very deep emotional deprivation they have had to endure. The reason why I would say homosexuality is wrong in those cases is because it’s coming from a wounded place in them. A place that might not be there if they had not had a rejecting family, or been abused, etc. [I am not saying this is the experience of all homosexual people, some had lovely families and never faced any particular trauma in their lives.] But, many people have had to endure such painful pasts, it is no wonder their sexuality has been shaped into something it might not otherwise have been. This is every bit as true for heterosexual people as it is for homosexual people, by the way. And for those people – heterosexual and homosexual – I would strongly say I have trouble affirming their sexuality because it is the result of brokenness. I believe that if the brokenness from the past can be dealt with, the sexual brokenness (and other types of relational brokenness) in the present begins to look like what it once might have been. How can I affirm homosexuality, or broken heterosexuality, or difficulty relating, or bad self-esteem, or disordered eating, or the many other things that come from living through a broken past? For me, personally, I have had a very broken background, and this is where my faith comes in and re-forms me (slowly, slowly) from the deprivitiations of the past.

    I’m running out of time, but maybe that gives a little glimpse into another perspective. You dont have to agree with it by any means, but I hope you see that it is compassionate, inclusive (we all can be broken, not just homosexuals), and contains hope..not hope for “blessed heterosexuality”, but hope for healing of past wounds.

  222. m@ says:

    re: #209.

    clarity, I think I certainly agree with you in principle on this. But I wonder how far we can extend the “affirming” clause, because not all behavior can really be affirmed. I know I go to extremes when I say that serial killers can most definitely NOT be affirmed. :)

    So, where’s the boundary on that? At some point, becoming a community of completely affirming people means that we consider all behavior acceptable and not in need of correction, and that unfortunately comes into direct conflict with the central theme of my faith: Christ died for something…

  223. Fnarf says:

    Serial killers? Really?

    We’re talking about love here. The boundary is another kind of love, which is ultimately no different than your kind of love.

    Homosexuality is not a kind of damage. It’s just a different expression of something YOU feel too.

  224. SDA in SEA says:

    Oh good grief. If you affirm gays, next you’ll have to affirm serial killers? That if we affirm gays, that means we have no boundaries whatsoever?

    Heres a pretty simple boundary: If it hurts someone else, it’s probably bad and probably a sin. Serial killers hurt people (duh). Stealing hurts people. Cheating on your spouse hurts people. Bearing false witness hurts people. Stuff like that.

    A loving committed relationship between two consenting adults of the same gender hurts no one.

    That doesn’t sound like a particularly difficult boundary to draw.

    (Yay, my shortest comment yet!)

  225. DH says:

    Fnarf & SDA,

    m@ can speak for himself/herself but i don’t think that’s what he was talking about. c’mon! he wasn’t comparing serial kilers to homosexuals. he was responding that a church should be loving, welcoming, and accepting of all.

    while a church can and should be those things, don’t you agree that any healthy community should have expectations? can’t we say we love one another as we are but love each other in such ways that we want to see people transform and grow?

  226. Torrie says:

    Anyone have any comment on Jennifer’s post at #215?

    I think the general consensus that I’m hearing many are saying is that “If you’re gay, then you were born gay.” It is what it is. I think that’s quite possible but am uncomfortable that there aren’t other scenarios that are considered such as the one mentioned by that post.

    I don’t know where I read it. It was earlier on in this thread and I’m too lazy to look it up but there was a metaphor about two people on an island.

    So, if a person’s homosexual and that person is on a remote island of someone of the opposite sex. we’re thinking that no GENUINE relationship will take place, right?

    #213…Thank you. That post needs to be saved.

  227. clarity says:

    Thank you Fnarf and SDA in SEA. m@’s comment was so ridiculous I hardly knew where to start. And DH, re-read DA in SEA’s post #218. Yes a community should have expectations, hurting others is a pretty clear boundary.

  228. m@ says:

    Woah, alert alert! My ability to type and speak in similar tones sometimes doesn’t go over so well. :)

    I was using the serial killer reference as an extreme example, most definitely, but I think SDA provides a good launching point. Does the boundary occur when others are hurt by someone’s actions? Possibly — but I can think of a lot of examples in which I’ve hurt someone by actions I didn’t intend to cause harm.

    What do I suggest by this? Our concepts of pain and suffering are often diverse and non-uniform. We can all agree upon murder, of course, but what about stealing from someone who’s stolen from another or is unfairly oppressive?

    I wanted us to try to steer toward a dialogue where we examine what kinds of boundaries a church community is allowed to espouse — I do this because…well, in the Christian context, Christ’s cycle of ministry, death and resurrection is paramount. I don’t think there’s any movement on that.

    Fnarf/SDA — apologies if my analogy went a little overboard or was misconstrued.

  229. [...] of course, the email exchange with Dan Savage leading to the first installment of the “gay conversation.”   It’s tough hearing your name associated with bigotry and hatred but [...]

  230. m@ says:

    Let me further expound — for Fnarf, SDA, clarity, et. al.: I don’t ask these things to back you into a corner or try to create division. By no means. These are questions I ask myself daily, because I’m a card-carrying member of the most paradoxical, contradictory institution that exists in America today — outside of the government, of course. :)

    And we’ll just check something else off the box here: I believe the church needs to spend more time countering the homophobia that’s welled up over generations than we do on figuring out where we stand on the “gay issue”. The hatred needs to be remedied, and that right soon. Maybe, uh, we all need to carry this discussion to the midwest — there’s a whole slew of megachurches out there that could use a dialogue like this!

  231. Dan says:

    This whole discussion would make more sence to me if christians followed all the strange little rules in the bible. But they don’t. They cut their hair & beards, they eat shellfish, children who curse their parents should be put to death, etc. If you believe that the bible is the literal word of god then this whole discussion is pointless (’cause you’re crazy) The bible is filled with contradictions and horrible things allowed and incouraged by god.

  232. e cho says:

    posted couple pdfs that might be worthwhile reads…

    while no one’s thoughts r changing nor is it my motivation to change someone’s views, I am thankful for the conversation we are having. I hope others feel the same way.

  233. jklam says:

    some questions from a prominant pastor. this pretty much sums up the confusion in my head….

    “For example, if you are certain without a shadow of doubt that homosexual behavior is always wrong, where do you draw the line: Do you let a homosexual person be a member of your church, or an attender? Does your exclusion apply only to “practicing” gays, or to celibate people of gay orientation? How many weeks can they attend without being given an ultimatum? How do you find out if a supposedly nonpracticing person is hiding their secret behaviors? How many failures do you allow before excommunication? And do you allow heterosexual people who attend your services to have gay friends? Must they confront those friends in order to be faithful Christians? What if they don’t? What if your leading elder comes to you to say his daughter has come out as a lesbian? What if your daughter comes out? Or conversely, if you are an “open and affirming” congregation, do you require fidelity or do you allow promiscuity? How do you enforce that? Do you accept people who think homosexuality is wrong? What if they repeatedly share their opinions publicly and in so doing scare away gay people whom you seek to receive? Are you then open and affirming of homosexuals, but not of people who consider homosexuality a sin? If you don’t find at least some of these questions agonizing, I’m not sure what to say.”

    the original article:

    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/01/brian_mclaren_o.html

    the follow-up:

    http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2006/01/brian_mclaren_o_3.html

    been pondering this insightful but tricky quote from another well-known pastor, too —

    “The question of humanity is inexorably link to sexuality and gender. Issues of sexuality can be among the most complex and convoluted we need to deal with. It seems to me that the theology of our history does not deal sufficiently with these issues for our day. I do not mean this a critique, but as an acknowledgement that our times are different. I do not mean that we are a more or less sexual culture, but one that knows more about the genetic, social and cultural issues surrounding sexuality and gender than any previous culture. Christianity will be impotent to lead a conversation on sexuality and gender if we do not boldly integrate our current understandings of humanity with our theology. This will require us to not only draw new conclusions about sexuality but will force to consider new ways of being sexual.”

  234. Dan says:

    I don’t mean to be contrary, Mr. Cho, but I can tell you at least one person’s views have been changed by this astonishing thread: mine.

    I’m going to have to stay late at work for the time I’ve spent reading this blog, but I cannot think of time better spent.

    I’m a gay man raised by fundamentalist christians, sent to a rigid baptist school. The lonliness and desperation of childhood, the self-hate of my early adult years, the resultant (nearly cliche) self-destructive behaviour this engendered in me coalesced over the years into a hotly smoldering rage against christians.

    I have been guilty of a bigotry against people of faith just as egregious as the bigotry exhibited against me. This thread has opened my eyes to the fact that there are thinking, sincere christians out there who can engage in a real and respectful dialogue. I feel like the Grinch listening to the whos in whoville singing carols in the absence of their presents. My heart has swelled to 10 times the size it was before I read these posts.

    Kate’s post (@16) literally brought tears to my eyes, and I don’t cry. Not about this topic. Not for 15 years or more.

    I am so grateful for the thoughtful discourse taking place here. It’s been a bucket of water on the lingering coals of a rage I almost didn’t realize was there anymore.

    Thanks for allowing this discussion to take place. It has the potential to change more hearts than you may realize.

  235. Jennifer says:

    Dan,

    And your post brought tears to my eyes!

    I know that I too am changed by the stories I have heard here. I feel like it’s my responsibility to listen to the voices of people who take offense at an opinion I hold, even if I hold it as gently and responsibly as I can. I still feel like its my responsibility to know what that opinion does to others.

    Thank you to the many who have opened their hearts here. You have made an impact.

    Dan – are you in Seattle? Maybe you might stop by for church sometime? :-)

  236. Blake says:

    I’ve been changed by this as well: a whole new dimension to this topic has been opened to me in a very very real way. Thank you all. I know that I haven’t contributed much, but I have been reading and pondering. Thank you.

  237. m@ says:

    I sent an email to Eugene suggesting this, but I figured I’d paraphrase it in the public domain:

    I don’t want this discussion to be limited to cyberspace, because I think it does the topic a bit of injustice to merely pore over typed words and not see the faces that are affected by this conversation. There’s something lovely about the anonymous nature of it all, but it would garner a whole new wave of respect and understanding if we all discussed this face to face.

    I’m in favor of forming a roundtable forum on this topic, to dialogue and share ideas of how Quest, and the Seattle church community, can become a better ally in countering homophobia. Let’s share some ideas on this, how it may work, etc.

  238. Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett says:

    So there is hope for this world after all. In all seriousness, blessings to all.

  239. Jennifer says:

    M,

    I’d be in :-)

  240. Fnarf says:

    One of the things that you folks may not be aware of is some of the history of the words and arguments you use. I’m sure the same is true of us, on the “gay side” — I’m sure that I have, and am probably about to again, said some things that are offensive or hurtful for reasons that just never occurred to me. That’s one reason why I’ve tried to let any feelings of rancor pass, and try to see the kernel of the argument behind them. I think y’all have been doing the same thing, which is why this conversation is proceeding without the descent into madness that we all know it’s capable of. We all have our weapons ready to go, and our culture lately has tended to encourage us to use them at the first opportunity.

    If you have examples of where I’ve stepped on your toes without knowing it, let me know.

    That said, here’s an example of where your side steps on ours.

    I know this isn’t deliberate; and this is the frustrating thing — we know it’s not deliberate on anyone’s part. Even the most objectionable Christian anti-gay bigots are not deliberately offensive people. They have their charms, just like anyone; in fact, presumably more. You don’t get to lead a worldwide church of millions if you’re just an unvarnished jerk. But that doesn’t mean the ideas don’t hurt us.

    Eugene posted a link to a very thoughtful paper published by a professor at Wheaton College, Stanton Jones. It’s not a radical hit piece on gay rights; Jones is seriously trying to examine the issue, as we are here. And he’s a smart man, and presumably a very decent one. But he makes a couple of very serious errors, one of fact, and one of association.

    The error of fact is that he says that just because the American Psychiatric Association has removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, that doesn’t mean that they have said that homosexuality is natural. Here he is telling an untruth. The APA, and every other major health and mental health professional society, HAS, in fact, said exactly that, and further, has said that reparative therapy such as practiced by Exodus International not only doesn’t work, but has the potential to cause great harm.

    His error of association is to then recommend Exodus International for further information, reading, and “clinical help”.

    Virtually every gay person or gay ally regards this organization as ineffective and offensive. THIS IS ONE OF THE PLACES THAT HARM COMES INTO YOUR ARGUMENT. Exodus’s poor track record of success, and unethical methods, hurt people in many cases much worse than idle use of the word “faggot” or other demotic slurs.

    It’s not the just the idea that being gay is something that needs to be repaired. It is the suggestion, the demand, in their therapy, that a homosexual orientation must be the result of very specific types of damaged families, unmet fathering needs and so forth. It simply isn’t true, and this kind of “therapy” damages the souls of many of the people who endure it.

    This has been acknowledged recently by Michael Bussee, who founded the organization, and other former top officials, who recently apologized for the hurt that they have caused.

    So when you use this argument, which may have spread unchallenged through your church or your reading or your social networks, spread by well-meaning but uninformed people, you’re going to raise some hackles on my side.

    Now, I understand that some of you believe in Exodus, or other “reparative” techniques, but you should be aware how they are regarded, not just in the gay community but by the medical and mental health professions. Gays, and friends of gays, think “reparative therapy” is harmful, full stop. We think it’s homophobic, and is borne out of an internalized self-disgust or self-hatred. In fact, we generally go further than that, and regard it as a sick, pathetic joke, with mean-spiritedly hilarious results when yet another top ex-gay is revealed in his hypocrisy and failed self-awareness (one stereotype that’s got a lot of truth in it is the gay attraction to snarkiness).

    So that’s an issue that we’re going to have to get around if we want to get any further. Obviously, a lot of you aren’t going to agree, and that’s OK. But you should know how we feel.

  241. e cho says:

    Fnarf,
    Thanks for your thoughts as usual. And no, you haven’t said anything offensive.

    As I wrote earlier, there’s some things that I disagree with or things that I just don’t know enough about. The thing that you commented about would be one of that. I don’t know anything about E I. As I’ve shared here and at the SLOG, I have no motivation to change a gay person. I’ve been slammed by evangelicals for saying that publicly but I don’t. Mainly, because that’s not my job. And the idea of having a “ministry” dedicated to changing homosexuals weird me out as well. But, I don’t dismiss the work of the Holy Spirit in the live of a person over the course of their entire lifetime and beyond. My job as a pastor is to love, encourage, teach, and aid in the work of reconcilation, etc. My personal ministry fellowship can be summed up by the words that help guide our church ministry: Soul. Community. Compassion and Justice. and Global Presence.
    I asked a friend who’s a professor who’s well respected for his fairness in speaking and listening to difficult issues such as this for a list of books [included his very brief comments of each book] that speak to the issue from both sides. I have not read all of these books but share this list – again – as sources to better aid our deeper understanding:
    <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Loving-Homosexuals-Jesus-Would-Christian/dp/1587431211″ rel=”nofollow”>Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would </a>by Chad Thompson. Best book for lay readers.
    <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Out-Order-Homosexuality-Bible-Ancient/dp/0801021146″ rel=”nofollow”>“Out of Order”</a> by Donald Wold. A very good historical book on biblical and ancient world stuff.
    <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Homosexual-Practice-Texts-Hermeneutics/dp/0687022797/ref=pd_sim_b_1/002-6420055-8139234?ie=UTF8&qid=1183425967&sr=1-11″ rel=”nofollow”>The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics </a>by Robert Gagnon. Gagnon is obsessed with this issue, but his book exhaustively examines the evidence in the Bible and all the arguments of the pro-homosexuality viewpoint.
    <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/What-God-Has-Joined-Together/dp/0060834544/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-6420055-8139234?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183425897&sr=1-1″ rel=”nofollow”>What God Has Joined Together?</a> – Myers and Scanzoni. Best light that supports homosexuality and gay marriage.
    <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Christianity-Social-Tolerance-Homosexuality-Fourteenth/dp/0226067114/ref=sr_1_1/002-6420055-8139234?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1183426152&sr=1-1″ rel=”nofollow”>Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality </a>by John Boswell. Book that has turned the issue upside down.

  242. e cho says:

    m@ at #230 wrote”

    “I don’t want this discussion to be limited to cyberspace, because I think it does the topic a bit of injustice to merely pore over typed words and not see the faces that are affected by this conversation. There’s something lovely about the anonymous nature of it all, but it would garner a whole new wave of respect and understanding if we all discussed this face to face.”

    It’s a good idea as long as folks feel safe. I’d be more than happy to set something up if folks would be interested. It could be a low key thing over a cup of coffee at the Q in the evening when it’s closed since it closes at 5pm over the summer.

  243. Fnarf says:

    For me, it’s not a question of being safe — you church people don’t seem very dangerous! It’s a question of articulateness. I can type what I think, as fast as I think it, and I can edit my words, but in person I’m rather stupid, and ridiculously easy to defeat in argument!

  244. SDA in SEA says:

    m@ (#230),

    Your suggestion of continuing this discussion face to face is an admirable one.

    But since I’ve been one of the most vocal commenters on this thread, I have to tell you that I don’t think I could participate in such a forum face to face.

    My comments on here have been much more civil than I think I’d be capable of in person. This is me on my best behavior. I have felt every bit as much rage in my past as Dan (#227) expressed. I’m pretty much past that now, maybe because I’m a bit older, and more time has passed to allow healing. But I am nevertheless EXTREMELY defensive about this subject.

    It is only through the anonymity this forum provides that has allowed me to open up to the degree that I have. I cannot imagine any circumstances where I would be able to feel safe enough to express some of these feelings face to face in a room full of Christians I don’t know.

    I can also be much more thoughtful in writing than I can be in person. In person, in public, if I feel threatened or attacked (verbally), I get angry, my blood pressure spikes, my jaw clenches, and my two typical responses are to say nothing or to lash back angrily and stupidly. In a written forum, I can take a deep breath, take a moment (or a half hour) to try to understand where the other person is coming from. I can take more time formulating a civil response. I can review what I said and edit my words, I can take out anything I might have said that might cause offense before I hit the “send” button. For example, the serial killer comment misunderstanding was able to be resolved relatively civilly here. In person, that probably would have gotten ugly.

    I have sort of known Fnarf in the cyber world for, what, a year, maybe two. We are both frequent participants of the Stranger SLOG (I’m not nearly as polite there). We are largely in complete agreement on this subject, although we have disagreed on other subjects (hello viaduct *waves*). I would probably consider him as much of a friend or ally as one can be in the anonymous cyber world. Yet I would probably feel a bit foolish meeting even him face to face, much less any of the rest of you.

    It has been very emotionally draining for me to participate in this discussion, but I have done so because most of you here seemed sincere in wanting to learn and understand and grow, and I thought I had something to contribute to that end. I don’t know what else I have left to add to this discussion, but I will continue to try to answer questions and be as open and thoughtful as I can on this anonymous forum.

    But a face to face meeting is akin to walking naked into the lion’s den. I am far too fragile and not nearly brave enough for that.

  245. Bless you SDA I really like you even though I have never met you!
    Fnarf, this is something I cannot imagine… You being inarticulate NEVER stupid well maybe sometimes : ) In a fun stupid kind of way… I think you are awesome.
    Mary Jo

  246. Jennifer says:

    Fnarf,

    I really appreciate hearing your reaction about Exodus. I really did hesitate before jumping in on that one because I know they are such a controversial group (and rightly so on some counts!) I hear your voice and I am very glad to know your opinion.

    Regarding the APA’s stand on what they call “re-orientation” therapy. Actually, last year, the president of the APA announced that they would support therapy for *unwanted* homosexual feelings. In other words, if a person comes to a therapist, and says they have homosexual feelings they do not want, the therapist can ethically work with them to eliminate them (success is a different question). The rumor is that when the new edition of the DSM comes out, the language will be changed to allow for a diagnosis for people who have same-sex desires that they find troubling. I think this is a good thing which reflects some of what is going on in psychology regarding giving clients more power to define what their concerns are, instead of therapists having all the power and being the only one who can say what is wrong with the client.

  247. kc says:

    This conversation is the first time I have ever seen the pain addressed so openly and for the most part, respectfully. It has been intensely affecting for me as well. I left the church more than half my life ago, and have not thought it possible for there to be this combination of openness and care at any level. I am not as articulate as are so many here, but I would like to add my thanks for all of your willingness to engage. I wish it were possible to continue this dynamic in person, but I wonder if the same voices would be heard, or the same courage would be possible…

  248. e cho says:

    SDA – totally understandeable. but I think u would still maintain your anonymity unless u walk around with a ‘SDA in Seattle’ nametag. :)

  249. [...] For example… even though I haven’t been able to formulate my thoughts just yet, there is an interesting debate going on at my pastors blog regarding the “Gay Conversation“. [...]

  250. kate says:

    M@ and Eugene–I’ve been emailing a bit with some of the other staff on getting an open forum type thing set up….perhaps combined with a screening of For The Bible Tells Me So (forthebibletellsmeso.org), if I can get a hold of a copy of it. I’ll email you both the conversation we’ve had on it so far.

    Dan (227)….very stoked that you came across this thread. TJ (@177) is part of my family–so, it’s a pain that hits close to home. much peace to you.

  251. Fnarf says:

    Hey, SDA — we can switch nametags. Then when you blow your top they’ll blame me. Unless I go off first! I totally understand your feeling on this, and share it — I’ve got a very thin skin in public. Maybe we could have a blood pressure contest!

    I jest. I guess I’d want to know more about what this get-together was for, first. Also, I’m enjoying putting forth my thoughts here, but I’m not sure I want to be the “official straight spokesman for the gays”, ’cause that’s kind of weird.

    Eugene, I understand you have family matters to attend to. Please do! The internet will survive without you for a day or two!

  252. P. says:

    I have a simple question, perhaps a little off-topic, perhaps not:

    What is Quest’s position on transsexual people?

    If I walk in to a service and sit listening, if I want to talk and find support in an hour of need, will I be facing someone who thinks I am a poor mad misguided boy mutilating his own body? Or will I be facing someone who can believe that I am a woman in spite of the evidence on my face, who can hear in my voice the pain of years of denying myself?

    This is really a rhetorical question – I am an atheist, due in part to attitudes like those that started this discussion – but I do know that transpeople are all too often in pain and in need of help, psychological, physical, and maybe spiritual. When I hit the bottom of my self-inflicted pit of drug abuse and agony, and I had tried everything else I could think of, I went to church. It was a Unitarian church, not a Christian one, but they were kind to me and helped put me on the path to finding myself. Ultimately I don’t agree with what they believe, but I cannot argue the good they bring to the community.

    Part of the reason I ask this is that when I read “coming to Jesus” stories like Pastor Cho’s, they hit close to home. I spent years trying to be someone else, trying to bury who I knew I was in work, in sex, in drugs, in self-destruction. What it took to setting my feet on the path to a real life was accepting who I was and what I needed to do to be myself. My mission – become a real person – is a much smaller and more selfish one than building a church and helping others, but it nevertheless feels like a redemption.

    I was lucky to find a friend with a sympathetic ear who was willing to support my delicate resolve to accept who I am. Had I, at that moment, walked into a church and met someone who listened sympathetically, understood my pain, and told me that I had to turn away from this idea that I was a woman and instead accept Jesus, I could easily have been convinced, and let myself in for another decade of agony. I’ve been at that cusp before, ten years ago, and I made the wrong choice and it cost me ten years of suffering. In a way I’m glad I have the scars I cut into my arm during those years; I look at them when I begin to think this path is too hard, and remember what the alternative is like.

    So for the sake of the next person like me who walks into Quest, freezing to death in the cold, will you show her the door to herself, or will you slam it shut?

  253. clarity says:

    Dear Jennifer,

    If the APA truly said that it only solidifyies my stance against them. I choose APS (the Assosciation for Psychological Science) over APA becase APS stands for Science and APS is willing to accept less rigorous standards. When you listen to the APA know that they are less adherent to scientific standards than other professional organizations.

  254. Jennifer says:

    Clarity,

    Ohhh…APA vs APS. That is a fun topic, but probably not for here. Shoot me an email (my blog is linked) if you’d like to go into that one :-) I’ve got reasons to like both…and reasons to like neither.

  255. Phelix says:

    I’d love to sit down and chat over coffee, especially if you show For the Bible Tells me so. That movie had me in tears when I saw it. The film managed to hit on a lot of my personal fears about coming out to my parents, and being queer in the church.

  256. m@ says:

    hmm…

    to be honest, I wasn’t even thinking along the lines of an event at the Cafe. I was thinking somewhere, I dunno, a little more neutral like on UW’s campus. How about the Viaduct — we’re all united against that, aren’t we? ;)

    SDA: The moment I hit ‘send’, your very thoughts popped up in my consciousness: what if anonymous typing IS the best way to discuss this issue? Soon after that, though, I was reminded of a video we observed during last year’s Faith and Race class:

    it was essentially a very ethnically diverse mixture of men seated in a circle; one was a professed racist white man, a vietnamese man, a former black panther member, etc….and they really just LACED into each other at moments. And as verbally violent as it was, some good came out of it — some dialogue occurred, and reconciliation was present in places it was once unexpected.

    Perhaps I’m utopian in hoping the same beauty would emerge from a face to face dialogue. But I agree — we’d all have to be willing to come to the same table willingly and confidently.

  257. jklam says:

    P. —

    as an intern at quest, i know there is no official statement/position on transgender people. i don’t speak on behalf of the quest staff, or any of its members, but one of the foundational values at quest is “the human soul.” i hear you asking — if i come to quest, will my soul be cared for?

    yes. i really think so. and no, the door will not be slammed on you. our church is not a utopia with perfect people (and many may not understand what it is for your sex and gender to not “align”), but one reason quest exists is so that people like yourself (a marginalized person in society) can know christ’s love. i know we would do our very best to walk along side you in your journey.

  258. e cho says:

    P. | Jeff did a good job answering that question. Quest isn’t perfect. Far from it. LIke others, I sound much more gracious in this thread than I probably am in real life. I can’t guarantee that you won’t get looks or that gay visitors won’t get looks. When homeless visitors come in, they may get occasional looks. When new people come in, they get looks. Why? Because people look. In fact, I can guarantee you will get looks because I can’t control each and every single person. But as a church body and leadership, we seek [or try to seek] to model the graciousness of Christ. And having said that, we fail…or at least I do.

    Regarding a possible get together: Watching the film might be good. I haven’t seen it so look forward to that. other possibilities: 1) just take a few of these comments and just talk more deeply about them, 2) just read out loud some of the stories here, 3) what does it mean to be against homophobia?, 4) discuss or hear how a christian with traditional views about this conversation can still be an advocate for the human rights of the gay community, or 5) screw this conversation and just play board games together.

    If we did meet, i’d vote for q cafe. I can vouch for that place. they even have a rack of newspapers called The Stranger. :)

  259. SDA in SEA says:

    Jennifer,

    I would be even stronger than Fnarf in my view of Exodus.

    Exodus to most gay people is like what Guantanamo is to most Arabs: a symbol of torture and utter moral corruption.

    When the APA first removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses over 30 years ago, it did for the first few years retain a category like what you describe (I don’t remember its exact phraseology), where there was still therapy for gays who didn’t want to be gay. But numerous studies have shown re-orientation therapy has an extremely low success rate, high recidivism rate, and more often than not is harmful to the patient. So they removed even that category. I’m surprised to hear from you that they are considering putting it back.

    I have known quite a few men (and Exodus is aimed almost entirely at gay men) who have tried Exodus or some other variant on the theme. I have never known anyone for whom it worked. I have never known anyone who chose to try it for any other reason than guilt. I suppose it is theoretically possible for someone to organically be uncomfortable with their orientation. But I’ve never seen it in real life. In real life, gay people are subjected to almost unimaginable guilt.

    Sometime we equate racial discrimination with discrimination against gays. And on some levels I agree with that. But racial minorities are never blamed for their skin color, are never made to feel guilty for the pigment in their skin, or expected to change the color of their skin. Racial minorities are often unfairly harassed or prejudiced against, but nobody expects them to change the pigment of their skin through prayer.

    The entire premise that being gay is a sin, and the false belief that we have “chosen” this “lifestyle”, and can therefore simply choose to be straight if we want to badly enough, sets up an enormous guilt trip. If I would just choose to be straight, all my problems would disappear. If I would just be straight, God wouldn’t hate me. If I would just be straight, the morals of this nation would not collapse. If I would just be straight, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened, nor hurricane Katrina. If I act straight, I don’t have to worry about being verbally abused or physically assaulted in public. If I just choose to be straight, I’ll be accepted by my family and my church.

    The implication is that if I don’t choose to be straight, I must therefore be weak, or stupid, or perverted. Evil. If I try to be straight (and we ALL try to be straight, at least when we’re young, trust me), and we don’t succeed, then we are just too weak, or just don’t want it bad enough, or don’t pray hard enough, or there is too much evil in us. We are then a failure on top of being a faggot.

    Try that guilt trip on 24/7 for a few years and see what that does to you. I’ve never met a single gay person who didn’t wish they were straight, at least in adolescence. Most of us get past it and accept who we are (or commit suicide), but the pressure to change and the guilt is huge, HUGE! It is peer pressure like no other.

    And it is just peer pressure and guilt that compels gay people to seek out therapies like Exodus. Can you imagine anything more attractive to a nearly suicidal guilt ridden gay person? Come pray with us, and we’ll fix you! But in the absence of this enormous societal and religious guilt trip, I can’t imagine why anyone would seek out Exodus naturally or organically.

    So getting back to my Guantanamo comparison… Most out gay people view Exodus as near torture. Their methodology is basically to lock us in isolation, increase the guilt level ten fold, and scare us into being straight. It not only doesn’t work, the added guilt just makes us more depressed, more suicidal, and more likely to reject religion entirely. This isn’t a minor thing. People kill themselves over this “therapy”. That isn’t love. That isn’t therapy. That’s just cruelty. And the people who run these places are well aware of their grim statistics for failure. Yet they do it anyway.

    And this is the most polite way I can think of to describe it.

    Exodus is extremely notorious in the gay community. If you are trying to have an open civil discussion with a gay person, bringing up Exodus won’t score you any points. Like throwing gasoline on an open flame.

  260. Jennifer says:

    SDA,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    My main reason for responding about Exodus is that I like the position they have moved to because it seems more relistic. But, I understand your reaction to even their name being mentioned :-)

  261. SDA in SEA says:

    Exodus seems more realistic?

    *bangs head on desk*

    More realistic than what? An ice pick lobotomy? Waterboarding?

    This is what truly scares me about some Christians (I emphasize some, not all). The ability to repackage horrendous cruelty and make it sound loving.

    I’ll be blunt. Exodus doesn’t work, and it’s dangerous.

    Despite their claims of success, they’ve never produced a shred of empirical evidence that their methods work. All they’ve ever offered as proof are a handful of anecdotal stories.

    All of the scientific studies have shown that the success rate for conversion therapy is extremely low, the relapse rate over time is extremely high, and that in many cases the therapy is harmful. ALL of them. And success isn’t measured as eliminating gay feelings. Success is measured as not acting on the feelings.

    Given that success (permanently burying your desires through guilt) is so rare, and relapse so high. And given that most people who undergo conversion therapy feel worse about themselves as a result, and are more likely to abandon religion entirely. How can you see this as “more realistic”? How can you call this the intent of a loving God?

    I have seen the aftermath of unsuccessful conversion therapy. I have personally known three people who have killed themselves over it. I have seen the destructive trainwreck of self loathing and destroyed self esteem. I can’t even bring myself to relate any specific story. But this is the painful ugly underbelly that Exodus doesn’t talk about.

    Even if you subscribe to the notion that homosexuality is a sin (which I do not), I would think that you would at least desire not to make gay people worse off than they already are.

    The few anecdotal stories of success that Exodus offers cannot possibly be worth the devastation of failure, ruined self esteem, and sometimes even death that is left in its wake.

  262. Jennifer says:

    SDA,

    I see that my hurried response was not enough to make my point. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    What I meant was that in recent weeks, the director of Exodus has come out (excuse the pun :-) ) to say something like “I dont think I’ve ever met an ex-gay person”…and what he means by that is the title “ex-gay” is too neat and tidy, and that if a person is convinced their homosexuality is sin, they will have to walk the same path of change that all Christians walk when trying to leave something they have become convicted about – which is full of missteps, relapses, difficulties, etc. And that its nearly impossible to claim “full recovery” over just about anything. Yes, God could change someone in a miracle – but, for the vast majority of Christians – that is never the case.

    I think, if I hear them right, they are trying to say that their practice in the past of claiming people can be 100% of their desires is just not realistic. I know they still might not be what you want them to be, but isn’t that at least a step better?

    I’m not expert on Exodus (and Exodus is a clearinghouse of many regional ministries all over the place – they are only a network of ministries who can claim association, they are not the ministries themselves), and really have no desire to defend them. But I do like that they are describing the path of a person who decides homosexuality is a sin as pretty much the same path as I have to walk on sin issues in my own life.

    Does that help?

  263. Kat says:

    I want to thank each person here for the sincerity in having this discussion. I’ve simply been reading – quite “religiously” over the past few days and have been deeply touched by the conversation. I’m neither gay nor religious but have been interested in “Christianity” but have been turned off by its attitudes. This gives me hope.

    If there is a meeting, I think it would be great if it was open so that others could come to hear and listen and learn.

  264. DH says:

    Greetings all.

    This has been a great conversation and it apears it’s near the end of its life span. I’d also be interested in coming to a chat.

    It’s been humbling to read the personal stories of the gay posters here. Honestly, I don’t know many gay people. So, this has been enlightening in that regards.

    As a Christian, I have these convictions. If someone asks me a question on this issue, I can lie and give them a politically correct answer or I can be honest. I choose to be honest but now see, that being honest will basically get any possibility of dialogue slammed in my face.

    I believe despite my sinfulness that God still loves me. I believe that though homosexuality is a sin, God still loves. Maybe this sounds like a paradox. I don’t know…

  265. SDA in SEA says:

    Ah, I didn’t realize that Exodus had made any recent statements changing their practices.

    I can see why you might think that this change in their outlook might be a softening of their stance, and that this might make it more palatable to gays.

    But all they are really doing is agreeing with my assertion that you can’t really make anyone “ex-gay”. That success for them is merely the suppression of the gay sex act.

    In other words, they are simply lowering expectations.

    That does not mean that their methods of conversion therapy are being changed. It doesn’t make their program any more successful. And it doesn’t in any way lessen the damage that their practices cause. It won’t prevent any of their former patients from committing suicide or any other self destructive behavior as a result of their failed practices.

    I suppose at best I could hope that if they lower expectations, fewer people will be deluded by their claims to be able to help, and perhaps be less devastated when it doesn’t work.

    I understand you may think homosexuality is a sin, and perhaps you’d feel better if you thought there was some way to reduce or eliminate that sin. And even though I don’t think it’s a sin, I wouldn’t object so strenuously to Exodus if their methods actually worked with any reliability, or at least didn’t harm people in the attempt if it didn’t work.

    Leave aside homosexuality for a moment.

    Gluttony. It is condemned in the bible at least as often as homosexuality. We all know that being overweight is unhealthy, and we all know that obesity is growing in this country at an alarming rate. Most people think obesity can be overcome by willpower and determination, if they just try hard enough.

    But let us imagine that dieting and exercise don’t work. Ever. That we believe that the root cause of obesity is sin. That all scientific attempts to reverse obesity have proven to be failures.

    But there is a clinic called Fataway that promises to be able to cure obesity through prayer and moving closer to God’s ideal. Let’s say your daughter was obese. Would you send your daughter to Fataway if you knew that there was only a 5% chance of long term success? And that if Fataway wasn’t successful, your daughter would likely become more depressed and possibly suicidal, and shun God? That even if it was successful in the short term, that most likely she would not succeed in the long term, and eventually become more depressed and suicidal and shun God? If she fails, Fataway and society will blame her for being too weak, not praying hard enough, and not wanting it bad enough. Fataway will deny any responsibility if she kills herself. It is her own fault for being weak.

    Now lets say that after 30 years of this kind of track record, Fataway says that they can’t really make people any thinner. All they can really do is scrunch your daughter up in a really tight suit so that she looks thinner in public. She will not actually weigh one pound less, she will not actually live one day longer, she will merely appear to be thin to the general public, and therefore be able to bask in their adoration, so long as she never takes off the thin-suit. Despite her artificial thinner appearance, she will still feel like a glutton in her heart her whole life. This is now considered success by Fataway. It doesn’t in any way change their success rate, or the likelihood of damage to your daughter if it doesn’t work.

    Does that make Fataway any more palatable?

  266. Jennifer says:

    SDA,

    I really appreciate your perseverance in connecting on this. You could have easily thrown up your hands and written me off long ago. :-)

    For me, the sin aspect of homosexuality can most easily been seen, not in the sex act (honestly, why would I care what 2 people do?), but in the fact that sometimes, in some people, in some circumstances, by their own admission, their homosexuality emerges out of the pain and brokenness of their life. This is completely untrue for many many homosexual people who grew up in wonderful homes and have never even had so much as the grief of a pet’s death. But, for some people, the sexual abuse, or neglectful parents, or overbearing parents, or life circumstances that make them feel alienated, helps to form their emerging sexuality in such a way that it is not what it might have been. This is every bit as true for heterosexual people too. I think Evangelicals (which I don’t really claim to be, but they’ve got the loudest voice) have kind missed half of their understanding of sin, and you can see it plainly here. If a person’s sexuality (homosexual or heterosexual) is shaped by their wounded past, that is an issue of sin – not the person’s sin, but the affects the sins of others have had on them. I’m not using “sin” here to mean “the person in question is guilty of bad behavior”, but more in a metaphorical sense where the sin of the world affects us all because it forms our lives in ways they otherwise would not have gone. And when people have gone through painful childhoods, they bare the brunt of someone else’s sin, and it shapes them. So, for me to say that homosexuality is a sin in people who otherwise might not have felt that way is to say that they are living out the affects of sin that has been done to them. That’s not to say they are sinless people and have no culpability in their own actions. But, from a Christian perspective, I think if you look past the sex acts, you can (in some people, sometimes) see that they are living a life in reaction to their past hurts.

    To get more personal, I grew up in the church, and was sexually abused by my youth pastor for a few years. His sin has shaped my life, shaped my sexuality, shaped my marriage and friendships….and the degree to which I let it shape those things is my sin. When I am living as if I am reacting to his sin against me, I am living with the affects of his sin. I am not in way responsible for his sin, but I can have my own sinful reactions to it.

    One thing I really believe is that our (the Church’s) understanding of sin is really limited to making sure we have correct behavior and not in the wider sense of dealing with the affects of sin (ours and others) in our lives. We don’t follow our own Bible’s teaching of confessing our sins to one another, and most churches don’t even confess them corporately, which I think is a shame because it raises the level of thinking and conversation to be about things that are too often kept secret (either behaviors or pain/mis-formation from someone else’s sin)

    I’m not sure if that is helpful in the discussion at all. I know that many homosexual folks would not resonate with this at all, and would say they’ve felt homosexual from the day they were born, and have never really seen anyone’s sin be a big deal in their life. I hear that and I respect that.

  267. Fnarf says:

    Jennifer, that’s a great perspective. I think you’ll find a lot of homosexuals, and heterosexuals, who have a lot of familiarity with the kind of pain you describe. Everybody’s got a lot of pain they carry around with them. You have suffered a lot. I think everyone with a heart, Christian or otherwise, can feel that, and empathize, and wish there was a way to just wipe it all out, clean that slate and make all those terrible things that hurt our friends and loved ones, and people we don’t even know, go away forever.

    The problem is that some kinds of helping hurt even more. Maybe not for everybody; I have no doubt there are people who have genuinely found a way to happiness through programs like Exodus. But many, many more have been crippled by them. And often — not always, but often — the initial hurt, the thing that broke the family, was the homophobia itself.

    I think that a lot more homosexuals would live happier and healthier lives if they weren’t told starting at a young age that anything gay is evil. And if the fear of homosexuality didn’t course through the veins of so many people, whether they’re trying to hurt or trying to help, and instead people were able to accept it, and indeed celebrate it, not just homosexuals but heterosexuals too would be more free.

    I also think that a lot of the indisputably bad sexual behavior — abuse of children, abuse of power — that seems to be everywhere in our society (but was always there, never talked about), is caused by the suppression of love in our hearts. Homophobia kills, it causes abuse, it causes misery.

    I want to thank you for telling us what you told us, about your abuse. Hearing stories like that makes my heart want to leap out of my body. It’s so awful, and the pain just spreads and spreads. I’m so sorry.

    I agree with you about the effects of “sin” — I’m not a religious person but I feel the presence of these horrible acts and the way they linger on in all who are touched by them, and how they so often go on to create fresh new horrors. Sometimes people are oblivious, and don’t realize how long these things last within us, and the people who come into contact with us. We’re all living with this “sin”, whether we’ve experienced it directly or not.

    Whether homosexuality would still exist in a world of perfect and total emotional and sexual openness, and in which hideous abuses didn’t occur, I don’t know. I suspect it would; it happens in nature often enough (in virtually every species). But I know that I’ll never live in that world. I live in this one.

    SDA’s point is a good one: where does the homosexuality as sin paradigm leave homosexuals? Assume it IS a “sickness”. But they CAN’T be “cured”; they really were made that way. Is it possible that God would deliberately make millions of people who have no hope of redemption? A strict Calvinist in the 17th century would say “yes”, but do we? How do they live then? I can’t get around this obstacle; I just can’t see how it could be the truth. God is not a sadist.

    And the homosexuals I know are for the most part not damaged, not suffering, not looking for a way out. They’re looking for a way IN, into our world, which is their world too. They might feel discrimination or opposition, curtailed legal rights and so forth, but they have pride in who they are. I think this is the origin of the use of the word “gay” — it’s “gay in spite of all this crap I have to put up with”. And I celebrate their joy, their gayness, too. I think it’s AWESOME, really I do.

  268. SDA in SEA says:

    Jennifer,

    If I understand you correctly, you appear to be making a distinction between gays who became gay as a result of some sort of childhood trauma, and gays who were born that way. I can assure you that Exodus, and similar organizations, make no such distinction. They don’t care how I got this way, they just want me to stop it, or at least repress it.

    I have no doubt that childhood trauma, sexual abuse, or physical abuse does all manner of damage to someone. Severely traumatized youth can grow up to do all sorts of self-destructive things, to act sinfully as a response to the trauma. I suppose it is even theoretically possible to become gay as a result of a childhood trauma (although I’ve never met anyone who literally became gay as a direct result of a childhood trauma who would have otherwise been straight).

    But in reality, I suspect that is extremely rare, if it happens at all. The whole “weak father/domineering mother” myth has been debunked ages ago. I had an entirely ordinary childhood until I hit puberty and realized I was attracted to boys instead of girls. I had entirely ordinary school, family, and church experiences. That is pretty much true of all gay people I know. I have known people who had experienced sexual abuse as an adolescent, but their sexual orientation was already there, and didn’t change as a result of the abuse (the way they lived their lives undoubtedly changed, but not the underlying sexual orientation). That is just anecdotal, though. I’m no expert in child abuse.

    The only trauma most of us experience comes AFTER we realize we are different than our hetero peers. And that trauma and abuse comes at the hands of society, some Christians (again, I stress some, not all), and sometimes our own families. Lots of gays act out in unhealthy ways: drug abuse, runaway promiscuity, suicide, etc. These are classic symptoms of low self esteem which really shouldn’t surprise anyone.

    But if someone were truly abused or traumatized as a child, and were truly uncomfortable about their orientation as a result of it, I fully agree with you that they deserve all the help we can give them. Exodus, however, is not the place to find that help. Exodus is no more an expert in child abuse than I am. And in fact their strong mission to make people ex-gay, or at least repressed-gay, blinds them to the possibility that there are other therapies that are more helpful. I would think it would be much more useful to seek a therapist or a minister/pastor/priest who has some experience or expertise in matters concerning childhood trauma or sexual abuse.

    If you accept the premise that a heterosexual child could be made gay by a childhood trauma or sexual abuse, then you must also accept the reverse. That a homosexual child might made straight by a childhood trauma or sexual abuse. I doubt Exodus would be as enthusiastic to help such a child on the path back to their true gay orientation.

    And even if I accept that your motives in suggesting Exodus are completely genuine and well meaning, and even if I accept that there may be true heterosexuals who have somehow been traumatized into being gay (a possibility, but I’m dubious), the fact remains that Exodus has a terrible track record. Their methods have an abysmally low success rate and are cruel, and most people who try it come out of it worse off for the experience. If I had a friend or relative who suffered a childhood trauma or sexual abuse, Exodus is the last place I’d send them.

  269. djh says:

    I’ve been a passive observer of the conversation up til now–these last three posts by SDA in Seattle, Jennifer, and Fnarf have been the most helpful so far. As a Christian who has held a position more or less close to Pastor Eugene’s originally stated position, I’ve found this whole dialogue incredibly helpful and has at least nudge my position somewhat.

    I also want to say that I recognize how offensive and hurtful some of my reflections will be. But I feel that since they are my feelings, and my real questions, they need to be set out, hopefully as respectfully as possible. I want to second Jennifer’s thanks to SDA in Seattle, and the rest of you from the gay community (and allies), who have ‘hung in there’ in spite of the pain that perspectives like mine cause.

    So. I still hold, at this point, to the possibility that the sexuality of all people, straight or gay, has elements which are biological/genetic, and aspects which are shaped by our relational environments. I suspect (at least I do today; I’d consider myself agnostic on the issue) that much of this shaping happens in our earliest years, in ways that we are neither conscious of nor have any control over. For myself, at least, as a straight male, I know that much of what attracts me to certain people and not others has a huge amount to do with emotional family-of-origin issues growing up. I know this is not the same thing as homosexualtiy, far from it. But from what I have read in the past, even on the APA website (over a year ago, I admit), we are not competely certain what the factors are in determining sexual orientation. Much research defintely points toward genetic factors, but our genetics interact with our relational environments in all kinds of ways, as our brains are developing, and as we receive healthy attention, or unhealthy attention, or lack thereof, from our family and people around us in our earliest years.

    Could any of you send me a link to more information, as far as how science has ‘closed the book’ on the question of whether homosexuality is inborn and fundamental? Most of the comments on this thread have stated unequivocally that that is an established fact, which is a little different than some other things that I’ve read. Granted, most of those ‘other things’ have come from an evangelical perspective, so I need a broader reading list.

    However, in some ways it’s a moot point. If (and I emphasize IF) homosexuality could be attributed to relational environment factors, practically speaking that makes it every bit as ‘unchosen’ as if it is inborn, and makes it practically just as difficult, if not impossible, to change.

    I hesitate to just say ‘impossible’ to change, because it does not seem respectful for me to deny out of hand the experience of people who claim to have changed, and found happiness that way. If it is not legitimate for me to deny the experience of a gay person who has intrinsically felt that way as long as he or she can remember, how can it be legitimate for me to deny the experience of a gay person who claims to have either changed (or as many suggest, suppressed certain attractions) in a way that they find to be healthy for them?

    On the other hand, it seems excruciatingly clear, mostly from SDA in Seattle’s posts, that the philosophy and actions of groups like Exodus have been misguided and damaging to the vast majority of gays who have tried their approach. So even though my overall perspective on the issue of homosexuality at this time is still offensive to the gay community, you can count me as a convert on at least the issue of the damage that ‘ex-gay’ organizations do. SDA in Seattle’s head banging against his desk has not been completely in vain.

    Again, I apologize for how offensive many of my thoughts are, and I know that my apology means extremely little. This is where am at in my thinking today. For what it’s worth, this conversation has further convicted me of the need to be on the side of the gay community as they fight for equal civil rights (which, yes, I would include marriage). Thanks.

  270. SDA in SEA says:

    djh, what you are saying is not offensive to me at all.

    I think it is perfectly natural for people to wonder: what makes someone gay? Humans are curious creatures. I wonder what causes it, myself. It would be silly for me to get upset at you for wondering what causes it. Is it a weak father/domineering mother? Is it purely genetic? Nature or nurture? Did God make me this way?

    The truth is, I don’t know. And believe me, I wish I knew. In recent years, there have been a few different studies that seem to indicate some sort of genetic link, but it is far from certain or specific (I’m sorry, I don’t have any specific links to reference off hand). It seems entirely likely that, as you suggest, it may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. That would certainly explain why nobody has been able to figure it out yet.

    It doesn’t seem to be purely genetic, or identical twins would always be the same orientation. There is plenty of documentation of twins where one was gay and the other straight. And if it were purely genetic, it seems logical that it would have been bred out of the gene pool long ago.

    It doesn’t seem to be purely upbringing. There have been gay people in every culture in all of human history, every continent, every religious background, every tribe, every country, no matter how affirming or how barbaric gays were treated. If it were upbringing, it would have to be something so basic that it would occur in every human culture ever known. And it occurs in all sorts of other species all over the globe. So it cannot be caused by some sin or flaw of human child rearing.

    This I can tell you. I have never in all my life felt the remotest physical attraction to a woman. No matter how much I tried to change it or deny it or pray it away or ignore it, nothing has changed that fact for even a moment. Never. From the earliest vaguest memories I have of any type of physical attraction, it has always been toward men. It has never changed, through childhood, adolescence, my military and college years and well into middle age. I adore women as friends. I’ve had offers. They just don’t do anything for me sexually.

    This is also true of every gay or bisexual person I’ve ever known. How we act or behave can change. But the basic attraction is there from our earliest memories, and it is constant and unchanging. There may be exceptions to this. My evidence is entirely anecdotal. But I’ve known a lot of gay people over the last 4 decades, and I’ve never met an exception yet.

    I have never, ever heard of someone simply “deciding” to be gay. Nor anything even close to that. I don’t believe that could happen. The notion seems frankly preposterous to me.

    Whatever the cause, it seems clear that it gets hard wired pretty early, and it’s pretty permanent.

    And as strongly as I believe that, and as strongly as I believe it isn’t a sin, I, too, would hesitate to say that it is impossible to change. Only that the likelihood of true change being successful is vanishingly small, and the damage caused by the attempts is widespread and extreme.

    I don’t really have a problem with someone who is struggling with their orientation talking to a minister/pastor/priest and seeking guidance, so long as the minister/pastor/priest doesn’t engage in guilt or coercion to try to force them to change if change is not in their nature. If the minister lovingly guides them to a place of happiness, regardless of where that happiness lays, well that seems like a pretty good thing.

    It’s the judging and guilt and coercion that gets my hackles up. Not a sincere desire to understand and help.

    And if you do decide to help, I think you have an obligation to try to understand the form of that help, and not to make things worse.

  271. Jennifer says:

    Fnarf,

    There is so much you say that I agree with.

    Honestly, I could quibble with some of it, but I think it’s stuff that I’ve already said, and they probably dont need to be repeated.

    I do have to admit, I am tempted to repeat them only to carry on the conversation :-) I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through this format, and will be a bit sad to see it come to an end.

  272. Jennifer says:

    SDA,

    Yes, I am making a distinction about how different people come to homosexuality. I know there are others in this larger conversation that do the same thing – these thoughts are not original with me. Actually, this may amuse you, but I learned them from a man who has a ministry where he speaks about his journey out of homosexuality (he is not affiliated with Exodus, however).

    I really do appreciate hearing your thoughts on “ex-gay” ministries. I share your concerns.

    And, just like I told Fnarf, I am tempted to repeat much of what I’ve already said, not because I need to have the last word, but because I have so enjoyed getting to know you and I will miss conversation with you.

  273. djh says:

    Thanks, SDA in Seattle.

    I don’t really have much to respond to what you said. I think what I was trying to respond to earlier, was a sense I was feeling from some of the posts, that if anyone even would suggest that there may be other factors to homosexuality besides 100% genetic, then that was inherently offensive. I wanted to be able to ask about other options, and you gave me that freedom in abundance.

    The last two sentences of your post are the crux, I think, and what I will commit to take with me through the rest of my life and (possible) ministry.

  274. Fnarf says:

    For me, when SDA says “I have seen the aftermath of unsuccessful conversion therapy. I have personally known three people who have killed themselves over it. I have seen the destructive trainwreck of self loathing and destroyed self esteem” — and he is not the only person I’ve heard that from — the question is kind of closed.

    As for what causes homosexuality, ultimately, I have to say I don’t really care. I mean, it’s INTERESTING, as a subject of science, but it doesn’t affect what I believe, whether it’s as genetic as blue eyes or caused by some family dynamic, or just a choice (I’m not sure I understand choice, though; I know that I could never choose it). As you say, it’s moot.

    Personally, I think the sex urge is genetic, in the most literal sense: not a particular gene, but our genetic code talking to us. Our genes only care about reproducing themselves, period. But genes are not sentient, and do not tell us how to express this urge. That comes from our personality. The genes are just saying “sex, sex, sex”, or more accurately “copy me, copy me, copy me”, and natural selection ensures that this is reflected in a sex drive that tends to be heterosexual — and not just heterosexual, but attractively so. There’s a reason why people like to look at pretty people — prettiness is a mechanism to attract sexual partners.

    But again, it’s not sentient, and it’s not explicit. Our personality can lead our sexual urge in many, many possible directions. Some of them are grotesque, and illegal; the attraction to children. Some of them are normative, and unremarkable: guys who think Angelina Jolie is hot. some of them are homosexual. Most of them are not. The thing that’s important to realize is that none of these is NATURALLY superior; it’s all the same urge. We think of deviations from the norm, because the norm is the most common, but really they’re all branches of the same tree.

    We can criminalize some expressions because they harm others — no one is suggesting that child abuse should be legalized. Polygamy is almost always an abusive relationship. Animals do not have the moral power to agree to our actions. But homosexuality harms no one. If it harms no one, and the only prohibition is obscure, and buried in contradictory documents from thousands of years ago, what’s the harm?

    It has the same motive power behind it as my desire. It is not a deviation from my way of loving, but a different form. In a sense, my heterosexuality is just as deviant from them. And I use this distinction, whenever I hear people say something about homosexuals; I will change it to “heterosexuals” and see if it makes sense. It usually doesn’t.

    Did you choose your heterosexuality, or was it caused by a problem in your childhood home life? What does the Bible say about heterosexuality — does it approve? Should heterosexuals be allowed to marry? Would you want a heterosexual to live next door to you? Are heterosexuals going to burn in hell? Did you hear about the heterosexual penguins in the zoo?

    Sometimes this is just a matter of changing your perspective. You can do this same exercise with black and white. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in the newspaper, and other places, there are “people” and then there are “black people” — white people are never identified, they’re assumed. If I say “I saw this guy at the gas station with a red hat on” you think “white guy” unless I say “I saw this black guy at the gas station with a red hat on”. This is how black people are sometimes made invisible in our culture. You may think it’s a big deal, but to black people it very often IS a big deal, because the underlying assumption is they don’t exist unless you have to point them out.

    It’s the same with gays. “A man walks into a bar” and “A gay man walks into a bar” start off two very different jokes. Sometimes this is just a matter of shorthand — most people aren’t gay, most people aren’t black — but even in the most innocuous cases it can de-identify a person a little.

    I’ve always thought this is a major reason why both gays and black people are often seen as “thin-skinned” or “touchy” or “loud” — it’s because they have to assert their identity and their existence more than the majority does, in ways that the majority is often blind and blundering about. We go through life sometimes hurting people we don’t even notice are there.

    If this identity wasn’t so unnoticed in the world, because “gay” was no longer this unmentionable, shameful, embarrassing thing, but just an accepted fact of life, you might see a reduction in gays who feel obligated to trumpet their orientation so loudly. You wouldn’t need “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” anymore, because we’d be used to it.

    I think a lot of conservative straight people are afraid of what being gay says, not just about “those people”, but about themselves. It’s bringing a sexual question into the open — not just gay sex, but sex. And a lot of people are very uncomfortable talking about sex. Heck, I’M uncomfortable talking about it. Though ironically talking and thinking about what gay means to people has helped me understand and come to terms with my own sexuality. I think that’s a huge gift. Being afraid to talk about sex in public is one thing, but being afraid to think to yourself about your own sexuality — now THAT is a real perversion, one that’s shared by a lot more straight people than gays.

  275. Fnarf says:

    Happy Fourth of July, everyone. 221 years and we’re still hanging in there!

  276. Used2Believe says:

    At the risk of overstating the obvious and offending everyone, I’d like to share what I observe to be at the heart of things.

    From the christian view of life-
    We are all sinful, because of the fall of man. Christ (the perfect man) died at God’s hands to redeem us, to make us pure in God’s eyes. Without Jesus, we are nothing, only a sinful human being. With Jesus, we are still sinful humans, but his life inside us helps us to overcome our sin and walk the path of righteousness.
    From this perspective, homosexuality is just another sin, like gluttony. (granted, some christians are obsessed as if it were the cardinal sin, but I believe them to be the minority of christians) When a gay person tells them they’ve been this way all their lives, it makes no difference- it’s still a sin that can be overcome with the life of Jesus. Unbelievers cannot grasp the concept of sin, therefore the christian appears to be rigid, dogmatic, un-persuadable in many areas, not just this matter of homosexuality.
    To expect a different view from a born-again christian is to expect them to deny their Lord, their faith and all that they have come to view of the world since their conversion. (when they were born-again in Christ) This is extremely threatening to a christian, and something the faithful can never do.

    From the gay view of life-
    Many spent much of their lives believing what I’ve stated above, or not, depending on their upbringing re: the christian faith, whether they became a christian at some point and so on. Some gay folks have never felt a pang of guilt over being gay, they just wonder what all the fuss is about. Many more spent years in guilt, shame and despair over their desire for the same sex. At some point they abandoned that position out of necessity and came out, put away their guilt and shame, and accepted who they are- glbt, in order to move on in their lives. Some are still wracked with guilt if they allow themselves to be. Most put the guilt away and will fight to the death to remain where they are and who they are, because a very high price has already been paid.
    To expect a glbt person to go back to feeling guilt over something they cannot change is extremely threatening, and something most will not do.

    Hence, the impass between GLBT and Christian. Christians believe gays have seared their consciences to live as gay people. Gay people wish christians would just live and let live, quit ‘welcoming but not affirming’ and for pete’s sake quit trying to legislate morality. Christians view the collapse of morals (ie: societal acceptance of homosexuality as normal) to be something they must stop, else the world become pure evil and they be overwhelmed. Gay people cannot view themselves (obviously) as responsible for the collapse of civil society- they just need to live as the folks they are, with as many rights as the rest of Americans have. And on and on and on and on.

    This conversation has helped us all to return to our common humanity, and realize that The Other (as Eugene coined) are loving, feeling human beings. For that we’re all grateful. But at the close of the day, we are each still in our own camp, unable to cross the divide.

    Does anyone have any idea (no matter how small) of a single scrap of common ground between these two camps? A single shared item to begin working out a peace, rather than the cultural war that seems to be escalating?

    Thanks again for everyone’s civil discourse and enjoy the holiday!

  277. P. says:

    @249, @250:

    It’s nice to hear that people will try to be polite and kind. But I am used to stares, and I can handle hostility. What I worry about is what I would have been told if I’d gone to Quest, not how people would have handled it. It’s actually easier to reject toxic advice if it comes in a hostile package than if it comes packaged with smiles and compassion.

    I think this is part of the disconnect in this whole conversation: the Quest members are reassuring the queer participants that they will be treated with kindness and compassion, but what we queers are worried about is not your manners but what you are telling us. Telling us homosexuality is a sin hurts us, no matter how kindly and compassionately you do it. Telling me transition from male to female was wrong or impossible, particularly in a friendly way, could have set me on the path to suicide instead of the path to wholeness. Most gay people are not so delicate as I was, but a lifetime of telling your young daughter that she must bury her capability for love because it is sinful will leave her scarred for life, no matter how kindly you do it.

    It is perfectly possible for kind, gentle people to do great harm. It is the message that troubles us, not its expression.

  278. e cho says:

    hey folks,

    Jennifer at 258 wrote: “If a person’s sexuality (homosexual or heterosexual) is shaped by their wounded past, that is an issue of sin – not the person’s sin, but the affects the sins of others have had on them.”

    I think that’s the crux of how I try to communicate sin. I’m not trying to perpetuate the mentality of victimization. We definitely live in a culture where it’s easy to do that. But, while we need to face the music, if you will, we also need to understand that we simply don’t exist on an island to ourselves. Our sins have an impact on others. This is why forgiveness, grace, mercy, and reconciliation ought to be forefront in the hearts of all – including Christians.

    When I speak of racism and white privilege, I always get a handful of very intense emails from white congregants or listeners who are upset that I’m calling them a racist. I’m not calling them a racist – I’m simply pointing to the fact that we live in a structure of systemic racism.

    Because I was “confronted” with a specific question [which I’m wondering if I should have answered to begin with], I answered that question. The issue, genuinely, is much larger. I wonder if folks – who aren’t Christian – believe in a concept similar to ‘sin’ or a fallen creation. My desire is not to isolate homosexuality as the worst sin. That would simply be wrong. My main understanding speaks to the larger issue of a ‘fallen world.’ This is why I asked the question earlier about God’s creation – before the Fall – if sexual brokenness was intended. I do not believe that. I do not believe that my sexual brokenness was what God intended…

    In many ways, there’s a complete disconnect from my initial dialogue with Dan Savage. He doesn’t believe in God and consequently, he doesn’t believe in beauty and depravity; that humans are created in the image of God and he doesn’t believe in the profound nature and consequences of human sin.

    Trust me: From a humanistic level, it’s easy for me to accept homosexuality. Who’s not for saying “Everything goes as long it doesn’t harm anyone…” Who enjoys being a party pooper? Certainly not me.

    The most common question I get as a pastor is, “Do you really believe in heaven and hell?” My answer is, “Yes” but perhaps not in that traditional image of a red, horned, devilish dude overseeing the burning lake. I believe that all will live forever – either with God or apart from God. And of course, not to get myself into another situation that will elicit 300 comments on a post, many will disagree with me. But folks actually think that I revel in that conviction…

    Some day, we’ll find out. And let me just say that if I’m wrong, I’ll be one happy camper. So, to connect this to the conversation about homosexuality…If I’m on the wrong side of this fence, I’ll be one happy dude. Many have spoken here about LOVE. If you love someone, you’ll accept someone. If you love someone, you’ll yada yada yada.

    I agree.

    But if I love someone, I also want to [attempt] to be honest and truthful. As a pastor, don’t I have an obligation to speak honestly and compassionately. Depending on who you speak to, I have a reputation of being brutally honest in my teaching. I enjoy that because the grace of God becomes that more profoundly experienced…

  279. e cho says:

    P @ 269:

    I have had gay congregants – past and present. Not many but several. Most have not been active in the church. Most in the church do not know that they are gay. After some time, they have come and asked me of my thoughts. In the context of a larger relationship where I have built trust, I feel ok sharing my views. In the past, some have left and some have stayed. I think – the only reason – they choose to stay is because they see that despite their orientation not being “affirmed,” they experience that mercy, grace, and love is taught and imperfectly practiced.

    As a pastor…as their pastor, I have communicated that while I can’t control peoples’ looks, I covenant to love and protect them. I don’t seek them out. I don’t have an agenda with them. I don’t try to de-homosexualize them. The work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of EACH person is by far more powerful and mysterious than I can ever comprehend. I am liberated by that truth.

    When they seek me out, we chat about normal life stuff – social networking, why the Mariners need to seriously get a new starting pitcher, the music scene, blah blah blah. The only time we speak about homosexuality is when they bring it up.

    For more homosexuals, I can see why the “welcoming but not affirming” is a joke. It’s not meant as a joke but I understand why it is received by the majority of gay community as such. I wonder – if that is placed in the context of a caring community and relationship – if it’s possible? It’s clear that for most, it’s ‘no.’

    I understand why but it sure is depressing.

  280. TJ says:

    Before we can ask what “causes” homosexuality, we need to better understand what “causes” heterosexuality. Anti-gay sentiment is that we somehow “choose” our sexual orientation, while heterosexuals, I guess, don’t choose. Or do they? Would any heterosexual like to share their own coming out as a heterosexual story?

  281. m@ says:

    Used2Believe,

    I’d like to give it a shot: what do we have in common? The desire to see justice.

    I want injustice leveled against gays eradicated, and the gay community wants the persecution to be mitigated. (Oooh, that rhymed!) Regardless of whether or not a Christian believes that homosexuality is a sin is, for this point, moot — I say that only because the topic of morality isn’t centered around homosexuality, but prejudice and discrimination.

  282. SDA in SEA says:

    This conversation seems to be winding down. I can’t think of anything more to add. I’ll be out of town until next week, and won’t be checking internet till I return, so I’m done here regardless.

    Have a great week everyone, and happy 4th of July!!!

  283. Toby says:

    Jennifer (@215):

    I have had similar thoughts concerning sexual orientation. I have no proof beyond the anecdotal, but I think there are people who are (1) born with their particular sexual preferences — whatever they are — and that (2) severe, traumatic events in their lives can sometimes modify that.

    The problem with refusing to affirm people who fall into category (2), is that once again, they are being victimized. In a very real sense, they are being punished for not having had a safe, relatively happy childhood. Furthermore, there is no way to know for certain that, for example, a gay man is only gay because he was molested when he was 6 years old by his uncle. Maybe if he’d never been molested, he’d still be gay. There really is no way to determine this. Also, I doubt you’d be wondering if the straight man who was molested by, say, his aunt when he was 6, was actually supposed to be gay.

  284. DH says:

    Eugene, I commend you for your pastoral sensitivity in addressing this incredibly sensitive issue and for hosting this conversation.

    I think you addressed this in an earlier post where many people are addressing this from a different worldview. Some see it purely from a humanistic persepective and others with the addition of a Christian/biblical/moralistic worldview. Perhaps this is the heart of the discussion and why it will always be a discussion.

  285. Chad says:

    From your original post, I was reading through the link from Jesus Creed and really enjoyed this quote:

    “Fifth, I’m a Trinitarian — and for me that means I believe fully in the Holy Spirit. And while I firmly believe it is the Christian’s responsibility to teach orthodoxy and the Bible and what we believe the Bible teaches (with both firmness and sensitivity), I know that most people don’t change simply by arguments. People change behaviors as a result of a complex of factors: Bible, tradition, authorities, friends, time, counseling, loving relationships, experiments … and let’s not forget that we believe that humans are only made whole as a result of the Spirit of God’s refreshing re-creations. But it’s pretty obvious to most of us that gays and lesbians who follow Jesus don’t all of a sudden — and they too have the Spirit — find it easy to become heterosexual. Do we believe in the Holy Spirit? If so, let’s let the Holy Spirit transform people and let’s wait for the Holy Spirit to do Holy-Spirit work and let’s not try to do what is not ours to accomplish.

    Sixth, a blog-friend of mine (Jamie Arpin-Ricci) reminds me that a fear of affirming homosexuality permeates the Christian community whenever one of us encounters a gay or lesbian. Trust me when I say this: the homosexual community isn’t worried about Christians affirming homosexuality. (I’m a bit back to the fourth point, but this point deserves to be addressed.) Jesus, after all, was not known for being soft on sin but he was known for being big on loving relationships. Jamie writes me this: “I don’t feel the need to make it clear to my gay friends that I don’t approve of their lifestyles anymore than I feel the need to make it clear to my Muslim friends that I disagree with their beliefs. When it comes up, each situation is unique, requiring sensitivity and grace.” I agree.”

  286. Julie says:

    I have been quite for some time in the discussion, mostly because I felt like I’d said everything I wanted to say and just wanted to listen, but I’ve also been out of town for a few days. I did want to share a story from my trip, though.

    At the very beginning of this conversation, Pastor Eugene asked if it was possible to be friends with someone who held a different view on this topic than yourself. I immediately thought of an old friend of mine, who several years ago became very religious and, as a result, now definitely believes homosexuality is wrong. Because we are still friends, I really thought about that question, and came to the conclusion that we are friends today mostly because of our shared history – if I met him today, we would not be friends.

    So, on our car ride together, within the context of a larger conversation about Christianity, the topic of homosexuality came up. After it was mentioned, I thought, what the hell, why not try to have a similar conversation to the one we’re having here? Well, let’s just say it didn’t go very well. Partially because, just as Fnarf and SDA have alluded to, I am a bit more hot-headed in person than I am when I am writing my thoughts down. But, mostly because the things coming out of his mouth were so patently absurd, I was generally struck speechless. For example, his response to my thoughts about homosexuality not being harmful to yourself or others – “But, it does hurt them, anal sex has been proven to be harmful to the human body.” ……. What? Homosexuality is wrong because anal sex is bad for you?? So much wrong with that, I didn’t even know where to begin. So, I’m glad that the conversation on this blog has taken place, but you can see how it’s easy to get discouraged and not even want to engage in the conversation, if you are someone who sees no difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality.

    In a moment of delicious irony during this conversation, we were listening to a CD of some of his favorite songs, one of which was The Smith’s song from the 80s “How Soon is Now” (The Smith’s lead singer, Morrissey, is widely believed to be gay, but has never spoken publicly about his sexuality). The lyrics from the chorus?

    “You shut your mouth
    How can you say
    I go about things the wrong way
    I am human and I need to be loved
    Just like everybody else does”

  287. TCBATL says:

    Such a thorough and impressive conversation! I’m only sorry to have arrived so late – I regret that I probably haven’t been able to give every part of it the thorough reading it deserves.

    The phrase “welcoming but not affirming” seems to go right to the center of all this. I think that Fnarf expressed this the most eloquently (@86) when he described the “little bell” that rings when that phrase is used.

    P.E., why not be simply “Welcoming”? Christ obviously withheld affirmation of many things, but in describing him, I would never say he was “but not affirming.”

    As TJ can probably attest (@177), how a church behaves is far more important than what it calls itself, anyway. What you believe about gay congregants is far less important than how you treat them. Affirmation is the more important part; people do not come to church simply to be welcomed.

    As you await Dan’s answers to your questions, perhaps you can consider these. They are, I guarantee, the questions any gay person would consider about joining Quest.

    If a gay couple in your congregation were to celebrate their commitment to one another, would you pray for them as you pray for other newlyweds or as you pray for prostitutes? Who are gays equal to in your eyes?

    How big a deal, I suppose, is homosexuality to you? (I’m gathering that it’s not very.) Why, then, be so bold about “not affirming” it? There are a lot of things I am sure your beliefs do not affirm, but would you feel compelled to tell a congregant before he or she joins your church that you would “not affirm,” say, double-parking?

    Gays want from a church the same kind of affirmation that straight congregants want. Would you bless Dan’s relationship to his boyfriend? Would you baptise their child?

  288. Scott Hille says:

    Lord-A-Mercy!

    Me: Born/Raised Lutheran (Bastard Catholic), who has actually READ the bible from front to back several times…have YOU? Seriously. I’m talking FULL context now, not merely picking and choosing a bit here or there in order to support an ideology, which is the crux of the argumentative biscuit here.

    Have you?

    I challenge all of you engaged in this “Discussion” to actually…READ THE BIBLE…then do some research about how it came to be in print before getting all uppity about subjects which are not understood.

    E?

    Eat any pork products lately?

    Do you follow ALL of the laws set down by God in the Old Testament or merely pick-n-choose?

    Hey, what about Sacrificial Doves?

    Done much of that lately? It’s required by God’s Law for His Sake! He DEMANDS it!!!

    I press my magic finger against my magic forehead and pre-predict that you are going to become reactionary against something you have not taken into consideration in depth.

    Oh crap…you already have

    Randomly take biblical quote all you want and attempt to apply them externally…have a ball…but please either READ IT and do EXACTLY what God has commanded you to do or shut up. Well, unless you like being completely deluded and massively hypocritical, which it seems like you do.

    I believe that somebody once said “Love thy neighbor as thyself”…Now who was that?

    Oh, I just pulled a quote from the same text…my bad.

  289. DH says:

    Scott Hille: Why do you and others assume that just because someone doesn’t agree with your position, they haven’t read the Bible. Is it wrong to read it precisely from your lens?

  290. e cho says:

    TCBATL #278:

    Thanks for checking in. Not sure who you are but figure you come out to Quest.

    While I’ve enjoyed this dialogue, let me reassure you that in many other ways, I have NOT enjoyed being in this situation. When I responded to Dan’s question, I did not expect it to be posted on the Stranger blog and did not expect 280+ comments on this thread. I don’t enjoy being called a hypocrite, liar, gay hater, bigot, liberal, fundy, and whatever.

    Clearly, I could have answered Dan’s question with “We’re welcoming…” and he would have asked, “What does that mean?” If I had to do it over again, I’d explain how I feel about the issue without what obviously is perceived as a hurtful phrase.

    But, yes, I do like your suggestion of just “Welcoming.” As a pastor and a Christian – with humility and openness – I also don’t want to shy away from expressing my convictions – however unpopular they may be from both sides of the fence.

    As to your specific questions about Dan, his boyfriend, and their child:
    My conversations wouldn’t be about homosexuality. They’d have to bring it up to me. The most important question is “Who is Jesus?” Since Dan has made it very clear to me that he doesn’t believe in God, that would be the most pertinent question.

    What pains me is that people are sending me email after email instructing me, telling me, scolding me, encouraging me, affirming me, rebuking me…all with the gist of “be more like Jesus.” Clearly, I’m failing but that’s what I’m trying to do.

    Thanks for your comment. Enjoyed it much. See you at Q…

    Scott at #279:
    Geez, glad you weren’t part of the conversation last week. You would have certainly added some punch. Let me drink a beer first before I respond to your post.

  291. john says:

    man says scripture says homosexuality is a sin…………but scripture doesnt say homosexuality is a sin.

    gen ….sexual rape

    lev not all the prohibitions of themselves were sins

    num 15: 32 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

    romans specifically mentions abandoning an existing relationship motivated by a spirit of shame based lust. what does this have to two people involved in human bonding motivated by mutal love, respect and attraction with the intention of devotion and commitment to each other.

    cor and tim literal translation is (kjv) defiling themselves with mankind. how is there defiling in relationships that embrace mutual love and respect not to mention the fruit of the spirit (galatians5)

    go back to romans 1:22 ( romans the book whose misunderstanding is responsible for a millenium of persection will be the book that will restore homosexuality to complete equality with heterosexuals)

    romans1:22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    those who think that homosexuality is a sin are exchanging the essence of god’s glory which is love
    love of your brother in christ with whom you share the same inheritance
    love of your neighbor as yourself
    love one another as i have loved you

    for an image about the created of what you think is or is not god, based on your understanding and influence of 2000 years of christian culture.

    1thess says test everything but keep the good. our test is thru fellowship of walking in the light and acknowledging in that felowship as to spirit of their human bonding.

    if we are not believers then we only have to look at that active homosexuals have never been found wanting in any sector of society compared to heterosexuals. not as brothers, neighbors, friends, counselors, doctors,teachers, soldiers etc.

    surely if the nature of the essence of their coupling was less than heterosexuality it would show up in their capacity to interact with rest of society. that has been true of every behavior society has found deviant.

    if love and human bonding is the intent, where is the negative? the mass supreme court said there was no evidence to show why they shouldn’t be given equality with heterosexuals. to date that is still true.

  292. Anon says:

    I have attended quest for several years and am very appreciative of this conversation. I am especially interested in this discussion as I am considering entering into a same-sex relationship and wonder what the quest community and my Christian friends and peers will think of me…it feels like a very lonley journey.

    Thanks to everyone who has shared their various viewpoints as I try to hear what Jesus would actually say to me if I asked him what he thinks. I struggle to differentiate the voice of God from the voices of my culture.

    It’s interesting to me how much time is spent on this topic when so little, and I mean SO little of the bible speaks of homosexuality. And of course the little that is even spoken can be disputed that it isn’t even about homosexuality.

    I have a book recomendation for you Eugene (can’t imagine you have much time tho- answering all these blogs!) and anyone else wanting to look deeper into scripture and a different perspective. It is written by a pastor who was firmly against homosexuality and his suprising discovery when he delved more deeply into scripture (he was pretty much forced into the discussion-sound familiar?). It seems he had no alterior motives as he was acutally trying to support his idea that homosexuality was wrong.

    The book is Jesus, The Bible, and Homosexuality. Explode the Myths, Heal The Church. The author Jack Rogers.

    I know this isn’t adding anything really to the debate but just thought I’d share…love anyones prayers for me.

  293. Jennifer says:

    Anon,

    I will pray for you.

  294. Steve Liu says:

    A pastor at grx sharing his thoughts on gay pride day in SF.

    http://www.grx.org/messages/20070701.m3u

  295. [...] week I wandered over to Dan Savage’s column in The Stranger and was led to this lengthy, yet generally respectful debate. After reading that, reading the Dorff/Nevins/Reisner paper was quite a relief. I must say my heart [...]

  296. Anne says:

    Anon@284:

    Love is rare and beautiful. Don’t let them tell you it’s a sin.

  297. e cho says:

    Anon @ 284,

    I’ll read that book.

    If you’ve been coming out to Quest for several years, you should know that the Quest is a church that does not have an ethos of coercion.

    As for time devoted to the conversation, I’m not sure if you’re referring to Quest or the larger culture. It can’t be of Quest because we rarely speak about it since it’s discussed in the larger conversation of human sexuality – a topic discussed on two instances in the past three years.

    Thanks for journeying with us at Quest.

  298. Fnarf says:

    Eugene @282: I’m just checking back to see where the conversation has been going. I’m sorry to see that you’re getting emails like that. But really, it’s inevitable. You’ve opened yourself up to it, which is a very, very impressive thing, but you’re going to get a lot of thoughtless grief too. That’s just the nature of the internet. Not all of the unthinking bigots and pinheads are on the “Christian side”, not by a long shot!

  299. [...] he asked about our church’s position on homosexuality.  My email and answer led to an intense but thoughtful conversation [nearly 300 comments on my blog] about Christianity and homosexuality.  I would encourage you to [...]

  300. e cho says:

    Not sure how many folks have the comments on RSS here but if you do and you’re interested in joining me for some conversation, you’re more than welcome to join me as long as we can engage in respectful conversation…

    “But I’m not writing this to merely state a position but to invite you for thoughtful and respectful conversation [and to LISTEN] around the “gay conversation.” This is obviously a relevant and sensitive issue. There are numerous at Quest that wrestle with the Christian response to homosexuality as I do. Some have siblings, parents, and friends that are gay; some wrestle with the Bible’s context and commentary about homosexuality and have differing views about the issue; some wrestle with their personal sexual orientation; and some have no clue what I’m talking about. Everyone is welcome.

    I don’t have all the answers but this is a good opportunity to learn, chat, discuss, engage, and listen. Join me on July 25 and August 1 [Wednesdays] at QCafe from 7-9pm.

  301. Cat Bismuth says:

    Following is a quote from the ancient texts of Welsh mythology. It has always struck me deeply as one of those pivotal considerations that we all need to integrate more deeply into our processes in order to optimize the “image of God”-ness that we all bear:

    “… for none of them yet breathed that rare air wherein (He) moved, FORGETTING NOTHING and FORGIVING EVERYTHING, weighing expiation against wrong and cancelling both. For wrongs that are forgotten are generally remembered again at a fresh irritation and forgiveness is incomplete, a weak and cowardly evasion, if it cannot FACE FULLY the memory of what has been.” FROM The Mabinogion Tetralogy; The Fourth Branch, Book Two: Llew; translations by Evangeline Walton

    For those of us (Christian or non) who still wrestle with such issues as how to interact with AN OTHER (one who is different from my group of choice), I really think that we have not yet come to terms with four main points:

    1) the completely offensive nature of our own personal sin (read deliberate failure/refusal to do the right thing, ignore for the moment the things we did in ignorance or desperation)

    2) the completely fatal consequences of those deliberate acts (when was the last time you read the Torah — or any ancient code of human conduct — with a willingness to see the indictments against yourself, never mind people whom you can’t or won’t embrace with selfless love?)

    3) the utter and thorough FORGIVENESS/PARDON that Jesus extends to us on the basis of God’s loving commitment to REDEEM humankind

    4) the strength and power of what it was that Jesus accomplished during His time on Earth — cuz it isn’t just the seeming madness of martyrdom; it’s His choice to become the LIVING PROOF that God is for us, no matter how many people and great powers condemn us and no matter how severe the indictments that are written against us as in Deuteronomy 21:23 ‘ANYone WHO HANGS ON A TREE IS CURSED OF GOD’ (i.e., He did the right thing, the non-violent thing that God approved when everyone else was wrong, He did it without committing any sin or offense, God raised Him up to life because of it AND THEN — He didn’t turn His back on these savage humans, but continues to this day to make intercession for us and to invite us to CHOOSE LIFE along with Him)

    4) the reality that God has designed the process of human transformation to play out over human timespans (rarely do we see the kind of miraculous or instantaneous changes in ourselves that we seem to typically expect from others)

    The debate concerning gay rights is one that I have engaged with from time to time over the years and have spent much more time considering reverently in the “house of prayer and much study”. To borrow from an online debate I joined in 2003, I previously quoted Philip Yancey (“The Jesus I Never Knew”):

    In short, Jesus moved the emphasis from God’s holiness (exclusive) to God’s mercy (inclusive). Instead of the message “No undesirables allowed,” He proclaimed, “In God’s kingdom, there are no undesirables.” …

    By going out of his way to meet with Gentiles, eat with sinners, and touch the sick,

    HE EXTENDED THE REALM OF GOD’S MERCY.

    One of Jesus’ stories, contrasting a pious Pharisee with a remorseful tax collector, captures the inclusive gospel of grace in a nutshell. The Pharisee, who fasted twice a week
    and tithed on schedule, piously thanked God that he was above robbers, evildoers, and adulterers — and far above the tax collector standing to the side. The tax collector, too humiliated even to raise his eyes to heaven, prayed the simplest prayer possible, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

    Jesus drew the conclusion, “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.”

    Can we infer from Jesus’ story that behavior does not matter, that there is no moral difference between a disciplined legalist and a robber, evildoer, and adulterer. Of course not.

    Behavior matters in many ways; IT SIMPLY IS NOT HOW TO GET ACCEPTED BY GOD.

    The skeptic A. N. Wilson comments on Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and tax collector, “It is a shocking, morally anarchic story. All that matters in the story appears to be God’s capacity to forgive.” Precisely. [end of excerpt from Philip Yancy]

    Replace tax collector in the above excerpt with homosexual and you see how similar these issues are, though they are separated on the time-space continuum by gad-zillion minutes and souls and generations and continents and oceans.

    The basis of “Christian public opinion” on the matter of gay rights stems from the verses that prescribe behaviors within a community that has holiness as its aim. The reason so many believers struggle with inner conflicts on these issues is that they are not clear about their own standing with God and/or they are not clear that Jesus changed everything about our human dynamic.

    Before Jesus came, every human had the choice to condemn others OR forgive and accept them, even though such action was almost without precedent in all of human history. Before Jesus came, no one ever did that.

    After Jesus came and extended the realm of God’s mercy, we have no excuse for the grudges and prejudices and unforgiving thoughts/behaviors that we exercise against one another because we have that example of the more excellent way in His life and His choices.

    We each have the choice to stand with the Pharisees or to stand with Jesus and love our fellow humans into the kingdom a life at a time, sacrificially if need be.

    Evil has a limited shelf-life and the days of the adversary are already numbered, so why make a debate about what is evil into the focus of discussions on this topic?

    Only what’s done WITH God will last…

    I’ll write more in a separate post because this one is pretty long already, so please don’t react against these words in haste.

    And if any readers/bloggers out there want to hear Pastor Eugene’s own words from the pulpit, I recommend the sermon from Apr22, 2007 (Love Wins is what I call it). You can play it from Quest Church website sermon archives.

    Peace, Cat

  302. DH says:

    Cat #291:

    You wrote: “We each have the choice to stand with the Pharisees or to stand with Jesus and love our fellow humans into the kingdom a life at a time, sacrificially if need be.

    Evil has a limited shelf-life and the days of the adversary are already numbered, so why make a debate about what is evil into the focus of discussions on this topic?”

    Why is it that if someone believes that homosexuality is sinful = that person stands with the Pharisees? is that what you’re saying?

  303. Cat Bismuth says:

    DH #292 — Not at all, in fact, almost the opposite. What I’m saying is that it seems to me from the text of Jesus’ story that as soon as we start to behave as though we are superior to others in some way OR somehow cooler/more acceptable than other types of people, we have broken the image of welcoming acceptance that we are meant to bear.

    That happens to all of us — Christian or non, gay or straight, indigenous or immigrant or invader — on one issue or another from time to time, doesn’t it? Pharisees of all persuasions are constantly measuring themselves and others against an idealized standard that makes no allowance for the process of individual development.

    Humans are not static beings. We all change, grow, develop our ideas and convictions, sometimes even devolve into monstrous creatures (I’m thinking of the Hitlers and Dahmers of the world with that comment). Some of we humans have been given false/prejudicial data, some of us have never questioned the things that we have been taught, some of us just don’t care that much. But all of us are in a process of development and the final word has not been proclaimed over any of our lives at this point.

    So it seems to me that the smartest and most beautiful thing that we can do is to allow one another the room and the time and the grace to grow. Respectful, humble dialogue, even intellectually challenging discussion, is useful in facilitating that development if we allow it.

    For those who aren’t ready to lay hold of a growth opportunity, perhaps it’s best to let them lie dormant for awhile. But when people begin to prescribe/legislate behaviors for others in matters that ought to be private, personal and harmless, then thinking people of all persuasions need to stand up and make sense out of the non-sense.

    There have been many autocratic societies in the history of the world and organized religion can be terribly autocratic. Autocracy always seems to fail grotesquely to inspire the best in humanity.

    The democratic process is still quite young by comparison, but it is meant to be different from the autocracies that preceded it. It is meant to preserve individual freedoms for peaceful/harmless citizens, whatever their personal choices and beliefs. No amount of religious conviction — whatever the religion or conviction may be — is meant to destabilize the democratic process in this country. It’s not a perfect system and people pervert it all the time, but it is the system that we have today and it aims for fairness in a historically new way. Let’s not allow that to be lost while we are working out our personal/social issues.

  304. [...] want to forget while the coffee is hot. Maybe I should be talking about other things like this . But it’ll have to wait. Back to San [...]

  305. Cat Bismuth says:

    So it appears that this discussion is over now. Oh well, I can’t be online ALL the time, but I’m sorry that I was absent during the excitement. Still, since my comments are in the public domain, I just feel the need to finish my thoughts on this matter.

    When it comes to non-governmental organizations like the local church or the neighborhood gay bar, doesn’t it seem fair to recognize that these are self-selecting groups of people? The bar is generally completely unregulated as to social structure (apart from peer pressure, anyway), but the local church is more structured. It has leaders who bear a responsibility to their in-house community AND often to denominational leaders, as well, to provide a certain form of “social security” to the members.

    I’m actually VERY mature under all this henna and youth serum. I’ve also lived all over the US and visited some more exotic places abroad. I CHOOSE to worship and, hopefully, fellowship at Quest Church precisely because the kind of security that this group of adults are striving for is one where people can feel safe to explore their ideas, commitments and principles without coming under a heavy burden of guilt or peer pressure.

    Believe me, Dan, there are so many places in the good ole USA where much less controversial choices are scrutinized. I’ve been in a church where women were required to wear head-coverings and forbidden to wear slacks, the Pope was denounced as the anti-Christ, people prayed out loud for the fires of holy judgment to rain down on our generation and a woman was ex-communicated for adultery (at that grand height of hypocrisy, I left and never went back).

    In a different church situation, I actually had pastoral staff show up on my doorstep one day and tell me that they knew that I was involved in an illicit (and I don’t mean extramarital at all) relationship, so they wanted me to know that I was not welcome in their community until I was ready to repent.

    These are just a couple of personal examples from my half century of experience. I admire anyone who is willing to fight the good fight for principles and personal freedom and social equality.

    I just want to be on the record pointing out that, however strange or narrow you may think the Quest Church leaders are OR however willing you may be to challenge a thinking, responsible leader like Cho in a microcosm, across the panoply of current cultural trends, he and the Quest Leadership Team are doing a truly amazing job of maintaining a safe and open environment where people can meet, discuss, learn and grow — where we can meet God on our own turf and wrestle with Holiness if need be, but ultimately, come to know God better because we are NOT denied access while our frames are being stretched.

  306. justme says:

    It’s shocking to find out about the Exodus international news from reading Fnarf’s posts. But then I realized that while some people (such as myself) may believe that programs such as Exodus international “works”, however, we often forget the foundation of our existence.

    In this world, we are so caught up on success rate or performance measure; and yes people fail, programs fail, even church fail us sometimes; but God, never fails.

    If one doesn’t know God or love God, there’s no need for them to change. It isn’t about changing homosexuality to heterosexuality, but it’s about changing from where we are, however we are (because God simply meet us where we are), to where God wants us to be. My realization came from, I can’t change through programs (I have attended Exodus conference before) or counseling or accountability in church, but, I can only change when I have experienced God’s love for me.

    I am a learning child of God (I no longer like to call myself a “Christian” because it’s a label in general) because I want to love Him through obedience and faithfulness. Even though I do struggle with homosexual feelings (and I have been in the gay lifestyle), but I don’t believe homosexuality is my identity. My identity is in Christ and only through Him, can I become who He wants me to be. The basic teaching of Jesus was “to love”. When we (so-called Christians) love God enough, we will welcome those who seek Christ and support those who want to know Christ, but we (so-called Christians) can’t do any of it, without loving God first and foremost.

    To my gay friends, I love them as who they are. To my Christian friends, I also love them as who they are. There are no differences between them in my point of view, regardless of what they choose to do. My opinion isn’t God’s prophecy or words to them. And my opinion shouldn’t get in the way of loving others. I am not here to judge, nor does the Church have the right to judge (the gay people), nor does the gay people has the right to judge (the church), but only God has the right to judge. My job here is on earth is to love others by loving God first then I can truly love others.

    At the end, what I have done or choose to do lies between me and God. Not the church, not the gay community, or anyone else. Just me and Him because only He knows my paths of struggle, my way of being, my heart of faithfulness, and my love for Him; change is inevitable when we have a personal relationship with our Abba Father.

    But you have got to know Him first. If you don’t have a relationship with Him, everything else is just debates and opinions in vain.

  307. M says:

    Hmm

    What’s the difference between a homosexual that has “no choice” on being homosexual, than a sinner that is depraved and has “no choice” in being a “slave to sin”?

  308. [...] six months have been somewhat intense.  Much of it has been because of three posts on this blog:  The Gay Conversation, Prayer for Korean Hostages in Afghanistan, and Make Sense of Virginia Tech.   On the most part, [...]

  309. Daughter-in-Law of a Gay Person says:

    I’ve come too late to this conversation. But I have to say that the two people who have given me the greatest unconditional love, affirmation, and fellowship, after so many years of trauma and tragedy, are my husband’s gay mother and her partner of over a decade. My journey to God has been THROUGH them, not because they are religious themselves, but because they have shown me that agape exists. How could I say there is something wrong with my mother-in-law, when she raised the person whom I chose and whom I love, the man whose gentle spirit and deep kindness helped me heal?

    There is, simply, no depravity in love. None. God is love. Simple-minded folks might ask, Well what about the love a pedophile has for a child? Such a question betrays a deep and profound ignorance of what love really is.

  310. Miles says:

    I believe in a God that loves all. I believe in a God that loves me even though I have said and done some hateful things in my life. I don’t understand why things always have to be so divided. There are a lot of hateful things that Christians have said about the gay community. I don’t believe that Pastor Eugene has had any part in that message what so ever. I feel that those are more based on those individual’s feelings rather than God’s view point. There are also a lot of hateful things that have come from the gay community about Christians. I say it’s time to break the barriers and start living together as a community because we are all loved by God. I have been a Christian for about 7 years now and I have several friends who are gay and even have some friends who are gay Christians. I can’t say that the subject of homosexuality and the church has never come about; however most of our conversations that involved faith were based on one’s personal goal to know God more. I’m glad to see that some effort has been made by both sides to try and get closer to understanding each other’s view points.

  311. ryan says:

    Not on either side here but man homosexual movement has become highly intolerant. Why don’t you accept the beliefs of Christians? Or does tolerance and acceptance only extend to that which you agree with? I mean get a grip people, this is America all of us cast judgments every day about other people’s behavior, are all of them bigots?

  312. John says:

    Why is it that people assume that because God is love, there’s no right and wrong? I think – at least, for those that believe in a God, we all agree that God is love and as such, we should practice that love. But, at the same time, we’re not called to be blind to His hopes and plans for his creation.

    Ryan: I totally agree. You rarely ever hear about the intolerance of the gay community.

    Maybe I am a bigot but I still don’t understand why it’s not possible in the eyes of some to “be welcoming but not affirming.”

  313. Forum Visitor says:

    Eugene,

    I just wanted to drop a note to thank you for the forums you hosted. They were very helpful, insightful and challenging. The discussion from the 2nd chat has given me much to think about.

    I was especially “tripped” by your comment that everyone, including Christians AND the gay community, have an agenda. It’s easy to just put Christians on trial…

    I still remain true to my belief that homosexuality is NOT a sin but respect the manner in which you have spoken, listened, and created space.

  314. [...] Eugene Cho. Cho and Savage emailed back and forth to discuss that article and other subjects; Cho discussed it on his blog, and there were plenty of responses. (HT: Bob [...]

  315. Aaron G. says:

    Rev. Cho, I commend you for your courage in engaging this conversation. One of the reasons why Christians are ill equipped to both talk and engage with grace is because church leaders have no clue whatsoever. They simply approach it from their biblical perspective and have no connections with the actual GAY COMMUNITY. God bless you.

  316. [...] gay dialogue This was THE POST, entitled “the gay conversation” that got it all started.  One church visit led to one article which led to one email exchange [...]

  317. GW staff says:

    Reading the comments here in a Java hut coffee house made me late for an appointment.I dont think I ever have seen so many responses.!

    As a human, a pastor, a parent, and a reader of the Bible and servant of God, there is little I can add to the feelings that this thread engendered.

    For those of us who follow Christ and who have dedicated our lives to the God in the heavens, we have no choice but to follow his directions.

    Does God love me or anyone for who they are? Yes he does. Does he love what we do if it runs contrary to his protective prohibitions? No he doesnt.

    My actions are not approved if I steal, lie, cheat, rob or murder. Neither do I gain approval if I fornicate, act ruinously to my brothers and sisters, or practise homosexuality.

    For whatever reason a persons sexuality is, as a heterosexual I am not allowed to have sex outside of marriage. Period. and as a homosexual I am not allowed to have sex with a person of the same sex. Period.

    I have this one life to lead, and, one God to follow. We have to do as he directs, and I admit that many of the things I am asked to do or not do, are difficult to comprehend and more difficult at times to follow through on.

    My heart is human. He knows better than us.

    I grieve for those of us that have a tough servantship.

    It will be worth it though

  318. Gary Davis says:

    I spent last night reading all the comments on this particular entry…I had read some of it a few weeks ago, and wanted to comment, but I refrained until I was able to take the conversation in enough to really be able to partake in it.

    First thing I notice, a lot of you are working off assumptions (both the “gay” side, and the anti-gay side) that put you in an indefensible corner, and put others in an indefensible corner.

    For example: fnarf is fond of painting being gay as being that in totality of identity. So therefore, any attempt on my part, or anyone else’s part to say “I disagree” can never ever be addressed in an open forum. In other words, you have already decided the issue…you are right and everyone who disagrees is wrong, therefore I will only listen to you if I feel I can move you out of your corner.

    The versa of that is true as well: If you, as has been said here, view that being a homosexual (not just the sex act but the identification portion as well) is inherently wrong and against God’s design in a way that makes it a more amplified sin (which is the fundamentalist position) that renders you un-saveable until you change, then you have backed yourself into the same corner where you are right and everyone who disagrees is wrong, and therefore you will only listen if you believe the other person is movable towards the Gospel.

    The only way to truly have this conversation is to suspend your position, on the pro-gay side you have to accept that it may be an error of humanity, that it just may be a sinful choice (a complex choice mind you)…on the anti-side you have to give up on the idea that you can play God and pronounce judgement on anyone for anything they have done, or thought of doing. You have to give up on the idea that you have the power, capacity, knowledge, and sovereignty to know what truly “is” .

    Here is the problem…It’s friggin hard to do that.

    So what is the remedy?
    Don’t pretend that you are open minded on either side, stop playing mental games and admit that what you believe is what you believe and you will defend it even if it is indefensible, arrogant, stupid, etc… On either side, have the faith that the truth will come out.

  319. Daughter-in-Law of a Gay Person says:

    GW Staff,

    I am glad that you are NOT God, but a human *interpreting* the Bible. I am equally glad that I too can read the Bible, and that my skills in exegesis are well developed, so that I can, for instance, read passages on Sodom and understand that the real sin was sexual assault, and that Jesus (New Testament, anybody?) was decrying inhospitality in reference to Sodom, not homosexuality.

    The problem that I have with church leaders, not all, but many, is that they *selectively* bring a literal-mindedness to the Bible, when it suits them. They seem to forget that the Bible is literature, written by human beings who use specific rhetorical devices (often beautifully done) and as such, NO HUMAN can say “this text is written on the palm of God, and I know EXACTLY AND LITERALLY what it means.”

    Finally, I cannot believe that in one sentence, you talk about God’s love for people, and in the next sentence, use that very same word–love–to describe God’s judgment of behavior. Really, is God’s love for people nothing more than an assessment of how people live*?

    Really, God’s LOVE is that and only that? Say yes, and you have completely diminished God and God’s love. Say no and you admit that you have employed equivocation to make a point. That is, you have equated God’s infinite LOVE of beings–the ultimate love, for which a son was sacrificed!, a love that TRANSCENDS particulars, such as who each of us is and what we have done in our lives–to God’s specific judgment of specific behaviors. Should God’s love be so manipulated?

    *You would no doubt say, but God tells us how to live! He sits in judgment of us and that judgment is as important as his love! And I would say, did Jesus not teach us that sin is sin BECAUSE IT HURTS AND DEGRADES OTHER HUMAN BEINGS? And you may say in response, “Yes, and homosexual sex degrades human beings!”

    No. No and no again. Why?

    Jesus’ ethics are teleological in nature. Jesus is concerned to teach what makes a moral human being. A moral human being he teaches us again and again is one who brings love to his or her dealings with others. Who is just and compassionate (hence, his argument with those who will not practice hospitability). Now, are you going to argue that two men who are in love are not in love? Because that is the only way that you can actually argue that homosexuality is degrading in the New Testament sense.

    Don’t mistake my semi-mystical pronouncements (what? huh? um, read St. Theresa of Avila) for a lack of knowledge.

    Proud DinL of a Gay Person

  320. Daughter-in-Law of a Gay Person says:

    GW Staff, I followed the link to your web site. There on your homepage you say this: “We realize the information here, will not coincide with a few of your taught doctrines. We simply ask that you open your bible and research books and do your own digging into the scriptures to deepen your faith and belief, correct erroneous doctrines where necessary and continue with proven truths. Keep on knocking, keep on seeking and it will be given to us.”

    So I see that we agree. You are not the final arbiter of God’s word.

    Finally, this: I feel I should address why I am so angry (I’m sure it is detectable in my post) about a “harmless” post of yours in which you merely assert your thoughts about God and God’s love.

    The reason my ire is raised is because, in speaking about love and God’s love, you are addressing my post (who else has provided a tale about the ultimate immutability of God’s love and the meaning of that love in my life, specifically as shown to me through my GAY in-laws?). Yet you fail to actually come out and speak to it–to me–specifically. Instead, you end your post with the old saw about how aggrieved you are for those who are so burdened by their homosexuality, Or something like that. It’s not entirely clear. All I can say is, should you chose to actually address me, don’t play the pity card.

    I am tired of churchmen (usually men, yes, I know many women who are leaders in their denominations who are not nearly as obsessed with other’s sex lives or what that means to their faith, and prefer instead to focus on real social justice issues, in the manner of, oh, say, JESUS) professing pity (or some strange neutered version of it–“welcoming but not affirming”) for gay people.

    Everyone: save it. Because that pity is basically a socially acceptable form of bigotry. It says: “Who you are is NOT OKAY, but rather than spit on you, I will look beyond your particulars and just love the abstract you, the fact that you are human, basically, and isn’t that enough?” It’s not enough.

  321. [...] conversación gay Para quienes entienden inglés vale la pena leer el post de Eugene Cho sobre la temática gay, pero no solamente el post sino todas las reacciones al mismo. En el blog de Jesus Creed, también [...]

  322. [...] The Gay Conversation [What more do I have to write?  It was easily the most intense dialogue with 320+ comments.  This is a must read - not because of my post but because of the comments.] [...]

  323. LT says:

    Ughh. My friend told me this church was socially liberal. but if you can’t accept homosexuals just the way God created them to be, then you’re just posing.

    I used to be unsure about whether homosexuality was a sin, but after I took a Fuller Seminary course by Balswick and Balswick (I think you recommend their The Family book on your website) I became convinced (through scripture reading and social and scientific studies) that homosexual orientation is not a sin.

    How many people actually distinguish between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior? Often when people say ‘homosexual’ they are referring to both, when there is a clear distinction between the two. Homosexual orientation is where a person’s longings lead. I don’t think this is much under our control. Most people don’t just look at someone and say, “I am going to choose to be attracted to this person today.” Attraction is not much of a choice, but what we do with it is a choice. That’s where behavior comes in. Both homosexuals and heterosexuals can choose to have healthy or unhealthy sexual relationships. Healthy being a committed relationship where love abounds and unhealthy where selfish desires and lack of commitment define the sexual contact. I think God wants the sexual relationship we’re in to be healthy, whether it’s a homosexual or heterosexual relationship.

    Onto a related subject, there are numerous studies out there that show that reparative therapy does not work. Look at the founders of Exodus Int’l. They claimed to be ex-gay and started the organization, only to fall in love with each other a couple of years later. Also, this organization does not have any scientifically valid studies that say people can change. Another great website to check out is http://www.respectmyresearch.org. Look under Robert Spitzer. Many anti-gay groups look to this researcher as the poster child for reparative therapy working, but if you watch his video, he personally says that he only thinks maybe 1% of the gay population can change. Is 1% of people changing the definition of success???

    Lest you wonder what my background is, I grew up in the church, went to a conservative Christian college (and really enjoyed it) and have been working as a youth director for the past five years. The last church I worked at was a megachurch (9,000 members) in the suburbs of the Midwest. If you want to talk about how a community REALLY deals with this issue, I know how. It’s through pastors that listen and don’t ask leading questions (which some of the questions that you posed are). It’s through a community that focuses on worshiping God and loving people just as they are. It’s through welcoming people with all social viewpoints (both very liberal and very conservative) and not feeling like the church has to take a stance on divisive social issues. That discussion is more important, and that focusing on our relationship with God (whether we’ve got it perfectly right or not) and loving Him is what is most important.

    I encourage you, Eugene, to keep the discussion going and to listen much more than you share. Maybe, don’t share at all. Just listen.

  324. j says:

    God created Adam and Eve…not Adam and Bruce!

  325. Wayne Park says:

    Respectfully, LT, I think you should take a bit of your own medicine.
    If you knew Eugene you’d know he listens more than he shares, and doesn’t get a kick out of asking leading questions.

  326. LT says:

    Wayne,

    I do not believe I suggest that Eugene gets a kick out of asking leading questions. I understand your statement to mean that you think I think he enjoys asking those questions. How did you arrive at the assumption?

    Also, if you have thoughts to add to this issue, I will read/ listen to them.

  327. calvinlawson says:

    Eugene,

    Love your blog, just found it and added it to my favorites. I’ve seen the billboard for Quest Church, I just kind of assumed you guys were another fundamentalist nut job unit, just example of the distressingly similar Evangelical New Religious Movements.

    Obviously, categories like that don’t apply to most people in the real world! So sorry for the hasty judgement and bigotry…

    As someone who used to think the Bible was innerant, or at least infallible, I sympathize with your difficulties on the gay issue. By the most strict interpretation, the Bible commands us to kill those who practice sexual deviancy, including homosexuality. Similar commandments instruct us to kill people for working on the Sabbath.

    Of course, Jesus was supposed to remove this burden of law, but sexual deviancy was not included. From Acts 15: “abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.”

    You have to ask yourself; what would you do if the Bible commands you to do something that you consider immoral. By this I mean, if your wife is caught sleeping with another man (ALSO Sexual Deviancy, on par with homosexuality), is it your duty as a Christian to kill her? Obviously this is oversimplified, for every “kill the cheating wife” passage there are numerous that would seem to counteract this in spirit (blanket statements like the Golden Rule). But say you have a complex and thorough heurmenetics, and the passage still commands you to do something you consider abhorrent?

    What do you do in this situation? You might scoff that this is a purely hypothetical situation, but I would refer you to the long and bloody history of the Christian Church. You might counter that this violence and aggression was due to improper heurmenetics, but if that is the case then why is the Bible so hard to interpret correctly? If it is the perfect law of God, why does it seem so contradictory and hard to understand.

    Of course, these questions are fairly rhetorical at this stage. Once you understand that it was actually Jewish montheists who wrote the OT and not Christians, the discrepencies become clear. To put it bluntly, Christians appropriated the OT and appended to it, then re-closed the cannon. And of course, any Christian groups that attempt to re-open the canon are declared heretics, starting with Gnostics and ending with Mormons. Does any of this strike you at all odd?

    It did me. I did a thorough study of Biblical and Christian History and these issues became impossible to ignore, eventually causing me to “lose my faith”.

    You see, if you believe a holy book is telling you to act in an immorral way (Yes Virginia, there is morality without religion) and then you do it, YOU ARE STILL RESPONISBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS. Believing weird things might explain your actions, but it does not excuse them.

    It was at this point I realized that I had no choice but to listen to what EVERYONE around me had to say, then make my own decisions based on the best information available.

    So I really empathize with your hard choices here; good luck!

  328. Wendy says:

    I am also one who is not totally accepted by the church crowd … so gay fellow humans you are not the only ones, so sit your self centred selves down.

    Why are you gay people so concerned about being accepted into church gatherings. They barely accept each other let alone the likes of you.

    Eugene

    Compromise will not work here … there will be talk until the world ends and God decides the outcome. Judgment is later … Jesus did not come this time round to judge but to save.

    If you are going to share from the guide book you cannot exclude Romans 1.

    So I guess you are going to have to make up your mind as to where you are going to stand on the issue. There is no fence sitting here … they will pummel you until you agree with them … they will settle for nothing less.

    There is more love and compassion in telling the truth than getting all confused and caving to the ever popular political correctness of our day. Christ and Him crucified.

    From one heterosexual woman who your church would not allow to do anything except sit in the pew and throw you money, I, like the gay, have left the organized church over its never ending hypocrisy in favour of those who are sold out to the one and only true God spoken of in Romans 1.

    But it is good … I didn’t like it at first, but I see much more clearly here.

    As Matthew 24 plays out, it is going to be harder for us to know who to trust so trust in God alone will be our lighthouse. I trust you are preparing your people. The delusion is around the corner the elect will not be deceived.

    PS
    I am a big fan of anyone who will try to eradicate world poverty. I am a WV volunteer.

  329. Two Channel Station says:

    There is no difference in sin, God holds no sin below or above another. Why do we as Christians usually come down hard on social issues like drinking, smoking, or even extramarital sex, yet we won’t say that homosexuality is a sin? There is evidence in both the Old and New Testament for this (Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

    I think it’s possible to say we believe homosexuality is a sin, but then counter that with the fact that those who choose to follow such a lifestyle are more than welcome to talk with us, and we should actively seek friendship.

    While I think we often get the temptation to become politically correct in the hopes of gaining new attendees to church, we should be following Christ’s example, and everyone knows that He wasn’t politically correct.

  330. Tom says:

    GOD’s heart desire is not a doctrine, not church buildings, not church programs, not even church singing.
    • The object of GOD’s desire is, and always will be people,
    • He will not settle for a substitute.
    • Not a movement, not success, not even bible quotations, not bible studies.
    • But when He gets people, they will study scriptures, they have their bible studies, they’ll sing their songs, they’ll start movements, and say their prayers, and they’ll partake of the Lord’s Supper.
    • They will do all those deeds that need to be done.

    A resurrection may or may not mean anything, except that since its Christ resurrection, … it means everything.
    • A crucifixion means nothing unless its Christ’s crucifixion.
    • A kingdom only counts for something, if it’s Christ’s Kingdom.
    • A church means nothing, … unless Jesus is Head of the Church.
    • Christians don’t believe in a cross, … we believe in a crucified Christ.
    • Christians don’t believe in a kingdom, … we believe in the King of the Kingdom.

    This whole issue of Christianity that we hear and talk so much about, must have at it’s center…, not a movement, not a doctrine, and not even a church… but Christ Jesus.

    While we are in the world we are the object of God’s desire and He wants us to His.
    He chose us to reflect His character and His spirit.

    But there’s more o it … because what the world needs is … is “His” people.
    • His People are people who’s hearts have been seized by something that’s outside of themselves. And it has gotten inside of them and changed their whole life.
    • His people, are people who are inspired to make a difference, to change the world around them, to turn it upside down.
    • But we are NOT some idealist revolutionaries, but we ARE servants to other people.

    But, what kind of servants?
    Servants who realize it’s their destiny to serve. Doers not talkers. Because the world doesn’t need just talkers… the world is already full of opinionated “right-wing” wind-bags. For people do a lot of things with their bodies without their hearts approval. You see… you can do the deeds of a servant, without the heart of a servant. If you do that, you won’t be serving GOD, instead you’ll be serving yourself. To be His, starts with your heart. Look at the heart of Jesus, look at the character and nature of his actions. He understood His destiny …a servant.

    Matt. 12:20; A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.

    Jesus was in the “people business” because he believed in people.
    • We need to believing in people if we are going to be like Christ.
    • He took a bruised reed like Mary Magdeline and changed her whole life.
    • He took a bruised reed named Simon Peter, and Saul, and he wouldn’t turn loose of them, and he changed their whole life.
    • He has a hold of you and me, and won’t let go of us!
    • And it was expensive for Him because it cost Him everything,
    • Nevertheless, He doesn’t turn loose of us, because He believes in us.

  331. [...] Links: The Gay Conversation; Listening; Gracious as All Fu*k; and The Gay [...]

  332. kk says:

    It is amazing to me that Christians worry about homosexuality at all. It would be interesting to find out whether so-called Christians welcome but do not affirm remarried heterosexual persons. Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18 NIV). The seventh commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18 NIV). I have not heard of a single church pulling remarried persons aside, encouraging them to stop committing adultery by leaving their second (or third) spouses. In fact, I would guess that virtually every “Christian” pastor aids and abets adultery by performing remarriages. A remarriage is a voluntary act. Remarriage is the source of major heartbreak, broken homes, delinquency, poverty. Yet, for some reasons, homosexuality is the litmus test “sin” of virtually every “Christian” church. Well, Jesus had a lot more to say about Pharasaic hypocrisy than He did about homosexuality.

  333. [...] The number of verses in Scripture speaking to the Conversation of Abortion or Homosexuality [Gay Marriage] can be counted on your hands.  The number of Scripture speaking to the treatment of [...]

  334. [...] I’ll share more specific thoughts tomorrow about marriage but wanted to repost some of this stuff I’ve shared before regarding church and the gay community: [...]

  335. [...] those that have read my blog, you know where I stand on homosexuality, but without any reservation, I stand and remain silent and enraged…  I know, that for some, [...]

  336. [...] you’ve been reading my blog for some time, this post (w/ its 330+ comments) explains why I hold to a ‘traditional’ view of homosexuality.  But  having said, I think its preposterous that same sex couples in monogamous relationships [...]

  337. [...] marriage: i’m a coward and give christianity a bad name While I hold to “conservative” views on homosexuality & gay marriage, I support everyone having full benefits associated with civil unions.  While [...]

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Today is the last day of my 3 month sabbatical. That went by so fast... On the first day, our family went to Santa, Cruz, California. The first thing we did after we arrived at the San Jose airport was to go straight to In-N-Out. If these kids grow up and feel like they need counseling because their Dad didn't show them love, I'm gonna show them this picture as well and say, "I'VE GOT PROOF. I TOOK YOU TO THE BEST BURGER JOINT WITH NICE CHRISTIAN VERSES UNDER THE DRINK CUP." My prayer life always becomes a little more active when I go fishing. #NameItAndClaimIt #ComeOnSalmon Seattle. Home, sweet home. And home of the Super Bowl champions. Thank you, New York and NJ. You're beautiful. Appreciate your warmth & hospitality. Morning hike. My features over at @miir are hosting a book.giveaway + their world.class  tumblers. "Hot off the press! Eugene Cho, founder of @onedayswages, has a new book titled Overrated that will challenge you to actually change the world. We've got two signed copies to give away. Like this post AND tag a friend for your chance to win both copies and #MiiR tumblers."

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