“Can You Be Gay and Christian?” by Michael Brown

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Bible and Homosexuality

Book Review

Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality by Michael Brown.

The question of homosexuality keeps moving inward on Christianity. Once it was, “can you be gay and be accepted in secular society?” Later it became, “can you you be gay and be accepted in liberal churches?” Now, with the publication of books like Matthew Vines’s God and the Gay Christian (reviewed here), the question has moved inside the walls of conservative Evangelicalism. Can you be gay and Christian?

A Question for Conservative Christians

MbgcIt’s a specific kind of question, whose answer depends on what one means by being Christian. The gay Christian question has come all the way inside the church, including places where “being Christian” is understood in terms that any conservative Evangelical would accept: believing in Jesus Christ as risen Savior, accepting the Bible as the authoritative truth, and guiding one’s life and practice according to biblical teachings. Matthew Vines represents a movement that is telling Christians — Bible-believing ones — that the Bible affirms homosexuality.

The issue has torn liberal denominations apart. Conservative churches, in contrast, have tended to hold together in unity through their biblical convictions; but what if conservative opposition to gayness is rooted in cold disgust and Pharisaism, rather than biblical truth and love? What if the anti-gay passages in the bible we rely on are mistranslations or misinterpretations? What if the love of God means accepting and affirming people the way they are? What if we’ve been getting the Bible wrong?

Contrasting Views on a Common Question

Writers like Matthew Vines say we’ve been getting all that wrong, though he was hardly the first one to say so, though. While he was writing his book, released late in April, Michael Brown was writing Can You Be Gay and Christian, which came out early in May. Brown’s book was not written in response to Vines’s, but for my purposes here it seems to make sense to treat it as if it had been. Vines’s arguments echo those that Brown addresses in his book, and the two books are in strong competition with each other, currently running at number one and two on Amazon’s bestseller lists for their shared topic categories.

And they cover very similar ground. Both authors claim to represent historic Christianity. Both claim to believe in the authority of the Bible, and make biblical arguments for their positions. Both make the Bible the crux of their case. This is not a Bible-against-secularism controversy, but a dispute among those who claim the Bible as the word of God. They have that much in common.

Contrasts in Competence

Where they differ is this: given that the question is, “what does the Bible say?” Michael Brown speaks from a position of reliable knowledge. Vines doesn’t. Brown holds a Ph.D. in ancient Near East languages and literature from New York University: highly relevant, when questions come up regarding the meaning of Levitical passages on sexual morality. He demonstrates a broad-ranging and competent grasp of the Bible’s interpretive history. He demonstrates (unlike Vines) that he has read the whole Bible; for much of Vines’s argument depends for its strength on ignorance of the full Scriptural context.

Old Testament Questions

For example, Vines raises doubts about the usual interpretation for the “abomination” described in Leviticus. He quotes Phyllis Bird’s conclusion that it’s a “term of boundary marking,” setting Israel apart from other nations, and therefore no more morally relevant than the stricture against eating shellfish. It’s a common enough point in this dispute, which Brown handles in a chapter-length discourse beginning (as do most of his chapters) with a survey of literature on the pro-gay side, followed by a discussion of the broader biblical and interpretive context that gay authors have failed to include. Through careful, balanced research, he finds persuasive reasons to conclude that the prohibition against homosexuality was not merely a matter of boundary-marking, but was universal.

There were laws that God gave to Israel alone, and laws that God gave to all people, including Israel, and for the most part, using the entire Bible as our guide, it is easy to see which is which…. God said plainly [in Lev. 18:24-30] that he judged the Egyptians and the Canaanites—idol-worshiping pagans, according to the Bible—for committing these very sins…. And that’s why God tells the people of Israel not to commit these sins.

New Testament Interpretations

There’s much more there than I could cover in this space. Turning to the New Testament, he dispenses cleanly with multiple misconceptions, some of them having to do with ancient culture (no, the centurion’s servant was not his male sex partner!), some of them having to do with language and translation. Here his strongest point can be summed up,

There is strong unanimous support [for the traditional translation of anti-gay words] in all major dictionaries and translations.

and in the multiple ways it can be shown that no one ever saw anything in the Bible to support homosexuality until “after the rise of an out and proud ‘gay Christianity'”—quite the opposite, in fact.

There is much more in this part of the book, too. I haven’t begun to touch on other important points, especially his heartbreakingly disturbing quotes from gay authors who have tried to distort Jesus himself into a sexually active gay man. In my review, I criticized Vines’s book on the basis of “the tree and its fruit;” the fruit Brown tells us about here is far more damaging and disturbing yet.

The Background Question For All of Us

I must return to my earlier question, though: can you be gay and Christian? Sure, in a certain sense; any person can come to Jesus Christ for life and forgiveness! The real question raised by both Vines and Brown, though, is this: can it be Christian to be gay? Even more to the point—because being same-sex-attracted is not the issue, but rather what one does with one’s desires—does the Bible affirm gay practice? Brown’s answer is clear, comprehensive, and persuasive. There ought not be any divide within the ranks of Bible-believing Christians on this question, because the Bible definitely abhors the practice of homosexuality. Of this there can be no doubt.

The Crucial Question for Christians

I close with the question that always looms in the background of conversations like these: isn’t this bigoted? I wish you could spend some time with Michael Brown, as I have done. You would discover he’s a man of remarkable sensitivity, caring, and even tears over this issue. That might help you understand that this is not a matter of prejudice or bigotry.

In this case, though, that’s not the right question. Both Vines and Brown have attempted to show that the Bible supports their position. Those of us who accept the Bible as true and authoritative, the very word of God, need to listen to the one who makes his case successfully. We need to reject the other view. Then we need to find biblical ways to live in grace and love with the ones we disagree with.

These two books carry the heart of the question into the core of conservative Christianity: which way is more biblical? The answer, it seems to me, is quite objectively clear. In the sense that Vines and others like him want us to think of it — where the issue has to do with the rightness of certain sexual practices — it’s not Christian to be gay.

Series Navigation (Bible and Homosexuality):

<<< Review: Matthew Vines’s “God and the Gay Christian”Certainly Wrong: Are We Making Harold Camping’s Mistake? >>>

Comments 111
  1. Crude

    The answer, it seems to me, is quite objectively clear. It is not Christian to be gay.

    There ought not be any divide within the ranks of Bible-believing Christians on this question, because the Bible definitely abhors homosexuality.

    Respectfully, Tom, I think you’re making a mistake here. But it may not be a mistake of conviction, but of wording.

    The Bible condemns same-sex sexual acts. Absolutely. And I think powerful arguments can be made – Biblical, philosophical, secular, etc – that same-sex sexual desire is disordered, and the acts immoral and/or ‘that which should be discouraged culturally’. I accept those myself.

    But when say ‘you can’t be a gay Christian’ or ‘the bible condemns homosexuality’, you’re communicating something else: that ‘being homosexual’ or ‘having, through no fault of your own, same-sex desire’ is biblically condemned and deserving of punishment. I suspect that’s not what you mean, and when you say ‘being gay’ or ‘homosexuality’ you mean acts.

    If this is what you mean, I strongly encourage you – change your language. Target the acts. Differentiate between deliberate acts and unintended desires. Otherwise you’re going to be used as evidence that Christians can’t stand gays, full stop – even celibate gays.

    I know this may seem like hair-splitting. I think it’s not, and this is one of the biggest weak spots for social conservatives. This is one area where precision is key.

  2. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Crude,

    “But when say ‘you can’t be a gay Christian’ or ‘the bible condemns homosexuality’, you’re communicating something else: that ‘being homosexual’ or ‘having, through no fault of your own, same-sex desire’ is biblically condemned and deserving of punishment.”

    Do you not believe that all mankind, through no fault of our own, is tainted by the original sin of Adam, and are biblically condemned and deserving of punishment?

    Being Gay, or homosexual, or homosexuality are all defined by the fact that you are exclusively attracted to people of the same gender as yourself. Is this mentioned in the bible, or is the prohibition exclusive to the sexual act? If the latter, the question is not can you be Gay and Christian, but can you commit sodomy (or the female equivalent … is there a word?) and be a Christian?

    And the answer to that seems to be “Of course you can.” We are all sinners. We are none of us perfect. Does a Christian who commits adultery cease to be a Christian?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  3. Larry Waddell

    Does a Christian who professes that adultery is an acceptable form of Christian behavior have biblical support for their profession? Can a Christian claim to have an orientation to adultery which the bible never speaks of therefore they are excused in their proclivities and thus
    justified in their adultery?

  4. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Larry,

    The answers to both (or all three or four?) of your questions are, I believe, No. Would you be so kind as to answer my questions in #3.

    Thanks in advance
    Shane

  5. Malcolm the Cynic

    Shane,

    Crude never implied that if you sin, in general, you can’t be Christian. But, what I think he would say (he can speak for himself if he disagrees with me, of course) is that if you commit sodomy (loaded word, I understand, but I can’t really think of a better one and am trying to use it in as technical a way as possible) or you commit adultery, you’re sinning.

    And it’s important to admit, or at least realize to help you confess later, that what you’re doing are sinful acts.

  6. Kathy Baldock

    I would STRONGLY encourage you to go and visit your gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ and have a meal with them after service .

    It seems quite disingenuous to write a book about gay Christians and never go engage them. This is what Brown has done.

    I could know Chinese fluently, yet to write a book about China and its people without ever going there would be seen as foolish.

    This congregation is only a half hour from you. Visit Pastor Samuel Kader and have a chat; get the know him. Get to know some people in the congregation. Talk about this topic.

    You may be surprised. I was. Knowing gay Christians and witnessing their lives and the Spirit in them forced me to rethink my beliefs on this issue.

    I hope you consider this option in getting to know those you talk and write about, but I perceive do not know.

  7. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Billy,

    If you think his comments are in any way a response to my points then feel free to clarify.

    Also, your own answers to my questions are always welcome.

    Is homosexuality labelled a sin in the bible? (Or just homosexual sex?)
    Is homosexual sex a worse sin then lying, stealing, blaspheming, adultery or murder?
    Does committing any of these sins preclude someone from being a Christian?

    I believe the answer to these questions is also No, so the title of the book is answered in the affirmative pretty easily. The real question I want to know is why does any heterosexual care about this issue? Why are straight Christians so fixated on the apparent sins of others? Surely it has nothing to do with you.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  8. Billy Squibs

    I think that Larry answered your question by drawing a parallel with something the majority of people would hopefully think is unacceptable behaviour.* Although his comment was somewhat indirect, I think his intended meaning is clear. I don’t know how else to explain it to you.

    Is homosexuality labelled a sin in the bible? (Or just homosexual sex?)

    I have always thought the latter.** This would primarily be because in the NT I see a distinction being made between temptation and giving yourself over to temptation.

    Is homosexual sex a worse sin then lying, stealing, blaspheming, adultery or murder?

    I don’t know. I’m not sure, for example, how to understand blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But I would generally think that sin is sin. This said, it seems to me that certain sins appear to be more intoxicating and therefore more damaging than others. Perhaps sex can be a gateway sin. It certainly has been in my life.

    Does committing any of these sins preclude someone from being a Christian?

    It depends. If we return to Larry’s comment and to the Christian who decided that adultery was an acceptable form of behaviour for any and all Christians (most of all themselves). I think that such a person is living a lie – at least with respect to Christian principles. Warrant is given in the NT for intervention and even expulsion from the congregation an individual persists in unacceptable behaviour. If a husband tells his wife that he loves her after each time he beats here then that man is lying.

    I recognise that religions like Christianity have a fairly clear stance on what is expected of a Christian in terms of behaviour. This includes sexual conduct.

    The real question I want to know is why does any heterosexual care about this issue? Why are straight Christians so fixated on the apparent sins of others? Surely it has nothing to do with you.

    OK, let’s ignore the “fixated” remark. Shane, you were a Christian for four decades (which is longer than I’ve been alive). Do you honestly not know why Christians are concerned about actions they perceive to be sinful? Really? One doesn’t have to be a Christian to understand this.

    I may be of the opinion that gay people should be allowed to avail of civil unions and state marriages but even then I can understand why some Christians are so passionate about this topic. Firstly, they think homosexual behaviour is sinful behaviour and speaking out against sinful behaviour is something that Christians have done (with some serious omissions along the way) and should do. Secondly, they fear a cultural backlash. Sometimes this might be scaremongering about the big bad gays and their agenda. At other times I think the is truth in their fears. A recent case in point would be that of Brendan Eich. (I don’t know his religious affiliation or if he even has one.) I’m inclined to think that this is just the beginning.

    It is not a case of live and let live. It’s very much a clash of beliefs. There are no rules! Two men enter! One man leaves! Only time will tell who is the Max Max of these worldviews.

    * Though I think that on naturalism there isn’t anything morally wrong with adultery. Indeed, it might actually have tremendous benefits in terms of pleasure (I dare say Gorillas enjoy a good rooting (to use a charming antipodean phrase) and of gene transmission.)

    ** In principle I’m open to correction from either those who say homosexual attraction itself is a sin or those who say a committed homosexual relationship is supported biblically.

  9. Billy Squibs

    OK. I’ve said far too much on a topic I have traditionally stayed away from. (I fall uneasily between two camps on this issue.)

    I’ll probably keep any further responses brief. Or maybe I’ll retire to the stands.

  10. Anne Marciani

    Shane It has everything to do with everyone of us! The homosexual aganda is being crammed down our throats in every arena of society by their attempts to normalize and mainstream the behavior. Adultery, as commonplace and just as sinful, is not being marketed as an alternative normal lifestyle. At least not yet…

  11. TFBW

    You can do almost anything and be a Christian. Whether or not the behaviour in question is appropriate for a Christian is an entirely different matter. (1 Cor 10:23) Can you be gay and Christian? Yes. Ought you practice homosexuality if you are Christian? No — nor should you engage in any other form of sexual immorality.

  12. Tom Gilson

    Kathy, Dr. Brown has not written about gay Christians without engaging with them. (And for my part, I have not written a review of his book without engaging with them.)

    It seems quite disingenuous for you to criticize his book for something that it isn’t without having read the book. This is what you have done.

  13. André de Kock

    Hi Shane Fletcher,

    I believe you have touched on a pertinent question, but I think you are missing a truth as well.

    I am a reforming homosexual, in other words, I’m an ex-gay man who is living in repentance and does NOT indulge in gay sexual acts or thoughts or sins of the flesh.

    In answer to your question, God does NOT condemn gay people for their proclivity to the same sex because they did NOT CHOOSE to be that way. However, God certainly DOES condemn gay people should they live in sin by CHOOSING to be sexually actively. God also condemns other people for their sexual sins committed outside of marriage, either before getting married, or for indulging in extra mural sexual activities once they are married.

    Can ANYONE be a Christian and live in CONSTANT sin? This is the question that SHOULD be being asked. There is a belief that it is NOT possible for us to live sin-free lives and so it seems that you are suggesting that even though gay folk commit sexual sin, they can still be Christian. But the answer is simply this: Anyone living in habitual sin is NOT a Christian.

    I’m sure you are asking on what I base my statement and here is the Scripture that I base it on:

    1 John 3:5-10 5) And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
    6) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
    7) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
    8) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
    9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
    10) In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

    So can you be gay and a Christian? Yes you can. Can you be a Christian and live in constant, habitual sin? No you CANNOT! I believe there are millions of misguided folk out there living in unrepented, habitual sin and who are of the opinion they are saved. I think the above verses say something VERY DIFFERENT and this should be a wake-up call to the Church at large.

    Kind regards,

    André de Kock

  14. Keith

    “Writes like Matthew Vines” -> “Writers like”
    “Vines raises doubts usual” -> “Vines raises doubts about the usual”

  15. BillT

    Does a Christian who professes that adultery is an acceptable form of Christian behavior have biblical support for their profession? Can a Christian claim to have an orientation to adultery which the bible never speaks of therefore they are excused in their proclivities and thus justified in their adultery?

    This, I think, asks the correct question though it contains some very erroneous information. The question is adultery, that is, sex outside of marriage. That is what is forbidden in the Bible. It applies to everyone of any sexual proclivity. It’s forbidden quite specifically, of course, in the Seventh Commandment.

  16. Holopupenko

    @8 – fallacy alert

    A doctor doesn’t have to “experience” cancer to know what to do about it or know what it is. In fact, the doctor’s knowledge of cancer far outstrips (in the overwhelming number of cases) what patients “know” about cancer… including not engaging in activities that bring about cancer–like smoking. Kathy is promulgating a fallacy by implicitly equivocating between experiential knowledge without understanding what the causes and effects of (in this case) homosexuality are (which is NOT scientific knowledge) and experiential knowledge that is subjected to reflection and scientific analysis.

    Kathy also implicitly promulgates another fallacy (not bad for one comment, eh?)–basically, an argument based on emotion… which is no argument at all. No one on this blog–least of all the proprietor–are suggesting anything other than loving those who suffer the deep disorder of homosexuality. (What Kathy desires, it seems, is not for us to accept and love the sinner, but to accept and love the sinner AND the sin itself. By the way, an inclination to homosexuality as a disorder is not a sin: the acted upon inclination is sin.) The same applies to any physiological (genetic or otherwise) or psychological (say, sociopathy) disorder, or whether that disorder has natural precursors (like Alzheimer’s), or to common multi-precursor disorders such as alcoholism, obsession and dependence on pornography, drug addiction, etc., etc.

    What Kathy misses, of course, is dealing with homosexuality as a deep disorder against human nature (as an evil) is not a moral judgment against the person suffering from homosexuality… anymore than dealing with alcoholism or similar disorders. Unless, of course, the homosexual (or alcoholic or drug addict or…) intentionally disregards the anti-human nature phenomenon it is, or worse… imposes personal opinion to reclassify homosexual acts as “natural” or another “lifestyle choice” or whatever mental gymnastic of the day suit their whim.

    The upshot is, Kathy’s position is far more cruel: for all intents and purposes it condemns the homosexual to “celebrate” and “empower” and “validate”–literally to give into–extremely dangerous and destructive behavior because it seems to suit her personal emotional needs. Her position fails the deeper test that love demands: sacrifice of personal whims to the greater good of those suffering homosexuality. Can you imagine employing the same “logic” (which Kathy emotionally tries to impose) wrt to the alcoholic? “I would STRONGLY encourage you to go and visit your [alcoholic] brothers and sisters in Christ and have a meal with them after service.” … as if Christians don’t? As if AAA isn’t largely a faith-based… well… kind of ministry? As if Christians don’t understand they themselves they suffer from sins?

  17. chapman55k

    I think Holopupenko is spot on with his comments about Kathy’s comments. Still, I think it is worth restating what Tom has already said. Dr. Brown has had extensive engagements with the homosexual community from one on one interaction to scholarly debate. It is all quite well documented, even on the internet (Bing is your friend).

  18. Holopupenko

    André de Kock @15:

    You are a heroic man acting virtuously… which is the definition of a saint. Your witness is worthy of the attention of all Christians regarding any sin. My sense is (correct me if I’m wrong) you may experience–or have experienced–vilification by the LBGTQ community and its supporters even more than we do because you are perceived as a threat by them–a threat that directly challenges them to live virtuously rather than succumbing (difficulty notwithstanding, hence Grace desperately needed) to baser “needs”. A threat because there is objective good based on our nature as humans created in the image and likeness of God… rather than evil that tries to reinvent created reality in its own image. Bless you.

  19. Holoopupenko

    chapman55k @20:

    I stand corrected for not emphasizing enough the good point you raise. Thanks!

  20. Billy Squibs

    So much for comment #12

    André,

    Are you familiar with Wesley Hill and Henri Nouwen? There was also a discussion fairly recently on the Unbelievable? radio show between a Christina in a committed gay relationship and a minister who abstained from same sex sexual relationships. (If that link doesn’t work then look to the show from the 25th Jan 2014.) These resources might be interesting to you.

    On another note, I wonder how people who identify as ex-gay, post gay, celibate and so on are seen by the LGBTQ community? Are the seen as oddities within a very broad sexual spectrum, as an affront to common values held by the community, individuals who are to be pitied because they lead impoverished lives or something else? Have you had any experience, André?

  21. Crude

    Shane,

    And the answer to that seems to be “Of course you can.” We are all sinners. We are none of us perfect. Does a Christian who commits adultery cease to be a Christian?

    This isn’t an issue of ‘does a person who commits a sin cease to be a Christian?’ It’s an issue of ‘does a person who no longer regards sin as sin cease to be a Christian – or at the very least, do they now preach something unChristian?’

    Go for the extreme example. Are violent race supremacists Christian? Can you say ‘people of race X are superior, and all else are mud-people, who should be wiped out’ and still be a Christian? Is it enough to say ‘well, that person is a sinner, but they’re still a Christian’? That seems to oversimplify it. Maybe they are still Christian, but what they’re preaching is certainly not Christianity.

    There’s always the complaint of how non-gay Christians are focused on the sins of homosexuals. Frankly, that focus has come into being alongside the obsession of the culture at large and LGBT activists in particular with those very topics, with an eye on declaring the acts in question not to be sins, and in fact to be entirely moral and pure, etc. So there’s a big difference between obsessing about this or that particular sin that everyone admits is a sin, and talking about a sin that a large group of organized people are hellbent on declaring to be anything BUT a sin.

  22. Holopupenko

    Billy @23:

    I knew Henri Nouwen personally: my roommate and I at Harvard house-sat his furniture while he was away pursuing work elsewhere (with L’Arche). I was not aware of his sexual orientation then, but I do agree (partially) with Ford that he was profoundly depressed… although I think Ford short-shrifts the impact of Nouwen’s (possible) homosexual orientation upon his emotional state. Moreover, I read Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son in 1987… and I recall being disappointed by his imposed interpretation upon Rembrandt’s painting of “male and female” care based on the difference in the hands of the father in the painting. If one looks at the painting, the hands are different because they are at different angles to the light–not (likely) because Rembrandt was trying to send a mixed message or that there are sexual-orientation undertones in the painting. A lingering sense I have from this and many other interpretations of reality that supporters of homosexuality have is they look for validation in all sorts of place where the evidence is next to nil.

  23. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Billy

    #10

    I don’t want to paraphrase you or quote you incorrectly, but it seems that you agree that you can have same sex attraction and sin (which we all do) and be a Christian and in general sins are the same in the eyes of God. The grey area is in intent, frequency and somewhat in knowingly choosing/flaunting the sin. If same sex attraction is not prohibited then Tom’s comment “it’s not Christian to be Gay” is just blatantly false. This is what prompted me to post originally.

    The probably with choosing adultery as an analogy is that all people can choose to commit adultery. No-one chooses who they are attracted to.

    And I do understand why Christians are concerned about actions that are sinful. But it only seems important in how they relate to themselves, and possibly other Christians. They don’t want themselves to sin. And they want other Christians to know about sinful actions. But why do they care what the heathens do? Brendan Eich (assuming he donated because of Christian beliefs) gave money to enforce his religious beliefs on other people that do not share them. There was a backlash from these other people. That is what happens. Christians are more than happy to believe and do what they want. The problem is with Christians wanting the rest of the world to do what they want as well.

    You say that Christians should speak out against sinful behaviour in non Christians? Why? Even if these people no longer commit what ever sin the Christian is against, these people are not saved. They are not adding to God’s glory. Christians should focus on converting people to Christianity. Then the converted won’t want to commit the sin.

    And the real reason for this is that it is better for the religious if people are truly free to practice what ever religion they choose. I do appreciate the Mad Max reference. 🙂 But I think it’s misplaced.

    Cheers
    Shane

  24. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Andre,

    #15

    “I am a reforming homosexual, in other words, I’m an ex-gay man who is living in repentance and does NOT indulge in gay sexual acts or thoughts or sins of the flesh.”

    Then I think this book is probably aimed at you. But I don’t understand why anyone else would find it pertinent. This is the point I am making. A book about being gay and a Christian seems to be aimed exclusively at Gay Christians. Especially as I think the real title of the book should not be asking about who you are attracted to, but the physical act connected to that attraction.

    Now possibly you are correct in that you yourself can choose to be celibate. But Paul himself made the concession that some people cannot be, and these people should be married for those times when their passions take control. So what is the consequence for you or any gay individual when they are subject to their desires?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  25. Tom Gilson

    Shane, maybe you saw the post before I edited the last line. Now it reads, “The answer, it seems to me, is quite objectively clear. In the sense that Vines and others like him want us to think of it — where the issue has to do with the rightness of certain sexual practices — it’s not Christian to be gay.”

    They don’t want themselves to sin. And they want other Christians to know about sinful actions. But why do they care what the heathens do? Brendan Eich (assuming he donated because of Christian beliefs) gave money to enforce his religious beliefs on other people that do not share them.

    Pure spin. Wow.

    First, he gave his money to prevent others from usurping centuries of established practice on account of their religiously-related beliefs, shared by only a minority.

    Second, you’re imposing your religious beliefs by this very statement. You’re teaching us (or trying to) that religion is only a matter of private belief and practice. My religion doesn’t say that, though, and neither does any other form of responsible Christianity–yet you’re telling us that’s what I should believe.

    Christians are more than happy to believe and do what they want. The problem is with Christians wanting the rest of the world to do what they want as well.

    Do yo see the contradiction? If part of believing and doing what I want includes working for a just society, and if part of my conception of a just society is one that includes stable homes and families, and if that entails a proper man-woman definition of marriage, then you’re telling me I shouldn’t believe and do what I want!

    Tell me, Shane: who has the right to believe and do what they want? Why did the gay insurgency of the last few decades have the right to turn culture upside down, while Christians don’t, in your mind?

  26. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Crude,

    #24

    “It’s an issue of ‘does a person who no longer regards sin as sin cease to be a Christian – or at the very least, do they now preach something unChristian?’”

    There is a large distinction here between these two things. No longer being a Christian, damned for all eternity, is massively different to being incorrect in something I believe or preach. Tom asserts that sexually active homosexuals are damned. I insist that they are merely sinners and like us all are capable of receiving the gift of salvation. Your wording in that post tells me that you don’t believe they must be irretrievably lost either.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  27. Tom Gilson

    Shane, you say,

    Now possibly you are correct in that you yourself can choose to be celibate. But Paul himself made the concession that some people cannot be, and these people should be married for those times when their passions take control.

    There’s a problem with taking that principle too far, and applying it indiscriminately.

    At different times while I was a single man, up until nearly age 31, there were a couple of women I was really hung up on. I pined for them. I longed for them. I had a real problem over wanting them. Throughout that period I had no ability to marry–they wouldn’t do it. I had no way of knowing whether I would ever marry.

    To say that the solution for me was “I should be married” would be to say that I should do the impossible. So I think if you take that principle as an absolute, you find it proves way too much.

    Second, if you’re going to pull one principle out of one place in the Bible, why not bring in other principles found throughout the Bible? One of these is that homosexual sexual practice is immoral. Another, which Brown covered in depth in his book though I didn’t mention it in the review, is that marriage is decisively and emphatically heterosexual, and never homosexual, throughout Scripture.

    So you’re taking a principle that has clear and well-established boundaries around it applying it indiscriminately, even though it’s clear that the principle only works within reasoned boundaries.

  28. Tom Gilson

    Tom asserts that sexually active homosexuals are damned.

    I do?

    Really?

    That’s news to me.

    Maybe, Shane, you don’t know the meaning of sin, salvation, redemption, repentance, and grace, and how they all interact. Would you like to know?

  29. Gavin

    Tom,

    who has the right to believe and do what they want?

    Protecting people’s rights always involves limiting everyone’s ability to stomp on other people’s rights. You can marry whomever you like. Now more people in many states can do the same. They don’t get to veto your marriage, you don’t get to veto theirs. That’s freedom.

    I think Shane could have been a little more precise on this point.

    The problem is with Christians wanting the rest of the world to do what they want as well.

    The problem is actually laws that discriminate against gay people with no rational basis. That is the problem that advocates of marriage equality would like to fix, and that is the problem that judges are fixing in many states.

    You can advocate against it, give money to groups that try to stop it, vote to abolish it, boycott companies that support it. Supporters of marriage equality can criticize you, ridicule you, and refuse to do business with you. None of that is a problem. But judges are realizing that there is no reasonable basis for a law preventing two men or two women from getting married and judges are acting to protect people’s rights.

  30. Tom Gilson

    Gavin, your answer to your excised snippet of my “rights” question doesn’t answer the real question I asked. I recognize that it expresses your opinion, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking it answers the question it quotes from.

    There is no rational basis for your statement that marriage laws discriminate against gays with no rational basis. (That’s a bald, unsupported statement, I know, but no more so than yours.)

    You can advocate against it, give money to groups that try to stop it, vote to abolish it, boycott companies that support it. Supporters of marriage equality can criticize you, ridicule you, and refuse to do business with you. None of that is a problem.

    Really? Ask Brendan Eich if it’s a problem. Ask Craig James. Ask the Benhams. Ask Ilene Photography. Ask Frank Turek. Ask Crystal Dixon. Ask Angela McCaskill.

    What was that about stomping on other people’s rights again?

  31. Billy Squibs

    Shane @#26.

    I think I probably disagree with just about everything you said. But as Tom has addressed some of your post in #27 I think I’ll leave it there.

  32. Gavin

    Tom,

    Really?

    Yes.

    What was that about stomping on other people’s rights again?

    I was saying that it runs both ways. Boy Scouts of America does not have to accept gay men as leaders. They don’t even have to accept people who publicly advocate for gay causes. Firefox doesn’t have to hire a CEO who publicly opposes marriage equality. Those policies may be stupid and hurtful, but they don’t stomp on anyone’s rights.

  33. Holopupenko

    Gavin:

    Your interpretation (and imposition, in fact) of what you perceive human freedom to be is typical atheistic ignorance and emotional drivel. Freedom is NOT an end in of itself nor to do what one pleases: it is (or should be) ordered to an end.

    You support evil ends–that’s your affair. But please don’t waste anyone’s time or insult anyone’s intelligence by suggesting your position is reflectively thought through or scientifically supported. It’s merely a subjective, personal opinion… that’s all it is. It is duly noted… and rejected not only because of the repugnance it promulgates, but because opinions aren’t truths. (Don’t bore us with “it’s true for me…”) Your goal isn’t truth–it’s remaking reality to suit your personal emotional needs.

    Furthermore, your view of reality is warped because it you believe all things (not just artifacts) but ALL things–including natural things, i.e., those things with immanent ends–can be made to suit your personal, subjective whims, and for you your will and desire have primacy. This means you actually fear and reject reality as it is. Nature and natural things are ordered to ends–ends that can be investigated and known, which means an approach to reality that leads to a primacy of reason, which in turn opens ones mind and heart to faith. The “arguments” you present are sophomoric and silly… and mere personal opinions, because at the end of the day you are all about will to power.

  34. Gavin

    Just in case anyone thinks that Holopupenko knows something about me, his description is complete fabrication, and mostly false.

    Holopupenko,

    It’s merely a subjective, personal opinion… that’s all it is.

    The opinion that there is no rational basis for marriage discrimination and that these laws are unconstitutional is also a widely held legal opinion. The judges striking down marriage discrimination explain this opinion in their rulings.

  35. Gavin

    Tom,

    I will try again.

    Why did the gay insurgency of the last few decades have the right to turn culture upside down, while Christians don’t….?

    Because LBQT people were not receiving equal treatment under the law as required by the Constitution. Christians do have that right. If Christians are not receiving equal treatment under the law they should certainly challenge the unfair laws in court.

  36. JAD

    From where do human rights originate? God or Gavin? I know, I could have said God or man, but Gavin is a human being and therefore is a representative of the view that human rights were invented by man. IOW even if Gavin didn’t invent human rights personally, on his view, some where at some time someone who thinks like him did. Indeed, modern autonomous secular man apparently thinks he can arbitrarily invent any kind of “right” he wishes and then impose it on others whether they recognize it or not. But think about that. What kind of right is it if it needs to be imposed?

    Same sex marriage is an artificial man-made right that didn’t even exist 50 years ago. It was created whole cloth by fiat by progressive activists who think they know what is best for everyone else. You certainly can’t say that SSM comes from God, unless you’re making that up too.

  37. Gavin

    JAD

    What kind of right is it if it needs to be imposed?

    Rights are protected, not imposed. Lots of rights need to be protected, that is why we have a Constitution guaranteeing the right to equal protection under the law.

    The right to marry who you chose has existed for a long time, but because same sex couples were not treated equally under the law, they were being denied that right. Now that is being fixed.

  38. Tom Gilson

    The right to define marriage as what it is not: where was that written into the Constitution?

    The right to presuppose that marriage’s definition is irrelevant here: where is that written into good thinking practice?

  39. Gavin

    Tom,

    I want to be polite by answering your questions. However, they seem completely rhetorical, so I’m going to pass. Let me know if that is not appropriate.

  40. Gavin

    Tom,

    Ok.

    The right to define marriage as what it is not: where was that written into the Constitution?

    It is not.

    The right to presuppose that marriage’s definition is irrelevant here: where is that written into good thinking practice?

    It is not.

  41. Tom Gilson

    But you’re speaking as if marriage’s definition can be assumed to include same-sex relationships. It can’t. You have to establish that position before you can claim that gays have any right to marry.

    I would say that same-sex couples have a right to marry just like bachelors have a right to sleep with their wives.

  42. Holopupenko

    @37

    You’re not really good at this, are you?

    Fabrication? Nope. Based on your comments here and some of the silliness you spout on your site–especially the pseudo-rational account “based” on science (ha!) on why you left the faith.

    False? See immediately preceding paragraph. Check out especially the very last thing you said to Tom above (including context). And, JAD is correct: you could not honestly define “right” or “freedom” if you tried–that is SO clear.

  43. Tom Gilson

    This is a blog. It’s a great place to post arguments, not such a great place to draw sweeping conclusions about people we only know through the snippets they write here. If you’re going to draw a personality-related conclusion, please tie it tightly to some objective reasoning. Thanks.

  44. Gavin

    Holopupenko,

    …the silliness you spout on your site…

    My site? I don’t have a site that I am aware of.

  45. Gavin

    Tom,

    When the founders wrote “….that all men are created equal….” They chose a gender specific word, “men.” When we interpret this phase today we don’t think of it as gender specific. We didn’t redefine “men,” we just broadened our interpretation of that phrase to cover all people, even though “men” remained gender specific in other contexts.

    When women won the right to vote we didn’t create a new right, we extended an existing right to more people so that men and women received equal treatment under the law. We didn’t have to redefine “men” in the law to do that, just recognize that in order to provide equal treatment under the law, “men” should be inclusive when interpreting those laws.

    Advocates for marriage equality have made the argument that in the legal context “marriage” should include same sex couples in order to provide equal protection.

    I don’t expect to convince you that this is the right thing to do, but we have convinced many people, including many Christians and judges, that this is the right way to interpret marriage in the legal context.

    Some Christian groups are arguing that “person” should be redefined to include people who are not yet born. They have the right to make that case both to the people and in the courts. We will see what happens.

  46. Tom Gilson

    When women won the right to vote we didn’t create a new right, we extended an existing right to more people so that men and women received equal treatment under the law. We didn’t have to redefine “men” in the law to do that

    Exactly! And we didn’t have to re-define “vote,” either. We took an existing right and expanded it, without the slightest redefinition, to include others.

    I’m glad to see you’ve caught my point–even if you didn’t catch the fact that you’d caught my point.

  47. scblhrm

    Gavin,

    Your appeal to Law as the Good is disappointing.

    One of the Truths which ground my Faith is the actuality of both Love and Truth. As a Christian I find I need not fear truth nor fear following the offensive inclusiveness of Christ’s Cross. My Ex-Gay friends and my Gay friends are neither Lies nor a threat to my Metanarrative. The narrative of the “Immutable Self” is built atop deception, discrimination, and the employment of power for institutionalized disenfranchisement of an inconvenient Minority. Our precious transgender and ex-gay friends suffer a subtle but brutal fear-based dehumanization because they desired – sought – and finally changed their sexuality. Such mutability – while coherent to the Metanarrative of Christianity – is a dire threat to the false metanarrative of “You can’t change! built on branding lived lives as lies. For the same reasons of Truth and Love I find the Good of embracing my Gay friends – their lives never branded a lie and never disenfranchised on my end. The liberation from being afraid of Truth and of being afraid to openly embrace and value all lives and their felt-realities is one of – there are more – the reasons I am a Christian. Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. would disagree with your appeal to Law and Majority opinion as the end of regress. Good clearly transcends us – another reason Christ’s Metanarrative of Immutable Love is more coherent with reality. Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self – high atop His Cross – defines both Truth and Grace.

  48. Holopupenko

    Gavin @48:

    I just caught this: I misattributed the web-site reference to you: that was wrong and very sloppy of me when cobbling together notes I keep in the margins. I apologize.

    The remaining comments stand. Tom: I stand by those comments because they are based not just on “snippets”, as I explained above…

    The reference to a “pseudo-rational account “based” on science (ha!) on why you left the faith” is true and applies correctly to Shane.

  49. OS

    Billy Squibs,
    You asked how people who identify as ex-gay are seen by the LGBTQ community. I certainly can’t speak for the entire community, but my experience is that gays who are comfortable in their identities are disbelieving (that they can refrain from sex and relationships indefinitely); concerned (because so many gay people who are not able to be open and accepted struggle with depression and suicidality); and baffled (why would anyone choose not to be out and happy in this day and age, especially as there are so many denominations that are welcoming, and it’s so much easier to change your religion than your core self.)

  50. Holopupenko

    @54

    Does the studio audience see how delusional OS is… especially in his parentheticals?

  51. OS

    I answered another commenete’s question based on my experience, and you are responding by making negative comments about me. What happened to all that “treating each other as humans” you espoused, Tom?

  52. Tom Gilson

    I think “delusional” is wrong, and I said so. I should say it more strongly, and I will: it’s wrong, it’s scornful of the person and not just the ideas, and it’s demeaning. I don’t think it should have been said.

    I think “deluded” describes your personal experience, however.

    That is, I think that while your experience tells you what it tells you, what it’s telling you is not entirely true. It’s not entirely false, either, but it’s politically charged (as these issues always are these days), one-sided, and therefore neither the whole story nor an accurate picture of reality, outside the minds of those who think it is.

  53. OS

    I am accurately representing the views of the LGBTQ community in regard to this issue. You are attempting to make a subjective issue (the opinions of others) objective (truth).

  54. Holopupenko

    The participle adjective “deluded” means tricked or deceived. This applies in terms of OS kidding, first and foremost, himself. Why does he do this?…

    … Because the adjective “delusional” means believing things in spite of indisputable evidence to the contrary. Consider only OS’s first parenthetical: that [those with homosexual inclinations] can refrain from sex and relationships indefinitely. Huh? Um… that is being out of touch with reality.

    (And, let’s even ignore OS’s hypocrisy in making morally absolutist claims against me.)

    My comment stands.

  55. Tom Gilson

    I am accurately representing the views of the LGBTQ community in regard to this issue.

    Granted

    You are attempting to make a subjective issue (the opinions of others) objective (truth).

    I am commenting on the accuracy of the views held by the LGBTQ community in regard to this issue. I assumed, perhaps rashly, that you were in agreement with those views. If not, then I retract everything I said about your views, with my apologies.

  56. Gavin

    Holopupenko,

    If OS said he met a guy who thought pigs could fly, it would make no sense to call OS delusional, unless you are claiming that the guy was just a hallucination.

    This is the quality of your attack on OS. He said that, in his experience, members of the LGBT community have these views. You may think the views are delusional, but that has nothing to do with OS, unless you think that he is having some sort of long-term hallucination that causes him to believe that he is hearing these views from members of the LGBT community when he actually is not.

    While we are on the topic of over-active imagination, your description of me in 36 is a complete fabrication, and mostly false.

  57. Tom Gilson

    I am in complete agreement that personal attacks are out of place here. Holopupenko, you may stand by your beliefs, but I think you’re over the line with respect to judging based on unknown information and unsupportable assumptions.

    We can assess what others say here, and we can draw conclusions about who they are to the extent that they make it known who they are by what they say. I don’t think it wise to do so until they’ve made it abundantly clear who they are, and even then not without explaining what led us to that conclusion.

    Both those factors are essential if we’re going to give people the respect they deserve.

    I stand by that.

  58. OS

    Tom,
    Instead of dismissing the opinions I represented as “inaccurate,” why not engage in dialogue about them? The second in particular deserves attention.

  59. Holopupenko

    OS didn’t meet a guy who claims pigs can fly [homosexuality is natural]. OS is the one claims pigs can fly [homosexuality is natural]. Tom makes that analogous point @50.

  60. Tom Gilson

    OS, do you have any statistics on how many suicides have been averted through people finally being relieved of the pressure of their homosexually-related guilt—and not by deciding it’s okay after all, but by moving into other ways of experiencing their lives, their identities, even their sexuality?

    Has the thought ever even occurred to you?

  61. Holopupenko

    @67: “No, I don’t have those statistics. Do you?”

    @54: “(because so many gay people who are not able to be open and accepted struggle with depression and suicidality)”

    He’s playing you, Tom–not just with his unsupportable assertion, but with the attempt to fallaciously turn the table…

    … the deluded aspect is OS actually seems to believe reality IS what he asserts it to be without substantiation: this is will-to-power, pure and simple.

  62. OS

    Holo, re-read Tom’s comment. He is asking whether I have stats for suicides averted, which is not the assertion I made.

  63. Tom Gilson

    Okay, then, let’s re-ask the question in terms of “suicidality.” Do you have the statistics for both sides if the question?

    I don’t. No one, to my knowledge, could possibly have the political temerity to risk asking it from both sides. You can only do research that supports gay-friendly assumptions. In California it’s even illegal to give professional counseling to a minor against gay-friendly assumptions.

  64. Holopupenko

    OS:

    You know exactly what Tom and I meant, and you know very well that you’re trying to weasel your way out of the point. This is apart from your unsupported assertion of “so many gay people”…

  65. OS

    I agree that it’s very diificult to gather statistics for suicides averted. I think it’s possible that there are people who have are relieved to find ways to refrain from acting on their homosexual feelings. But I think many more are relieved to find people who accept their homosexual feelings and homosexual behaviours.

  66. Tom Gilson

    Of course you think that. Who gets in the news for saying anything else?

    In other words, OS, your opinion is completely evidence-free.

  67. Holopupenko

    And, yet, he IMPOSES his evidence-free, personal and subjective opinion as correctly reflecting reality. Like I said, will-to-power: welcome to emotional atheism… and so much for truth.

  68. OS

    Actually there is research that supports my opinion, as I’m sure you’re aware. And which I’m sure you’d find reasons to dispute, so why bother to direct you to it?

  69. Holopupenko

    So, even if true that such research exists, the implication is that research results are equated to truth, i.e., no need to challenge those results (which, by the way, they HAVE been challenged… which I’m sure you’d find reasons to dispute, so why bother, eh?). You’re not very scientific, are you OS?

  70. The original Mr. X

    Gavin @ 49:

    “When the founders wrote “….that all men are created equal….” They chose a gender specific word, “men.” When we interpret this phase today we don’t think of it as gender specific. We didn’t redefine “men,” we just broadened our interpretation of that phrase to cover all people, even though “men” remained gender specific in other contexts.”

    Actually, no, “men” has been used to mean “people” since at least Anglo-Saxon times. (Old English legal documents might say things like “Emma was the second man to own this property; she inherited it from Alfred.”) I’m not sure which meaning came first, “males” or “people”, but they were both very well-established by the eighteenth century.

    On another note, it’s not true that I have the right to marry whomever I want. I cannot, for example, marry a close relative, or someone who’s already married, or two people at once, or someone who doesn’t want to marry me, or…

  71. Tom Gilson

    OS, I’m aware of the research supporting your view. I’m on mobile so I won’t try to expand on this, but you’re right about my opinion: your research isnt what you claim.

  72. OS

    Tom, I’m not interested in a dispute about the research. I accept that you and I will disagree about its validity. All I set out to do was answer Billy Squibb’s question, which I was glad to see posted as I thought it indicated a desire to seek out others’ perspective. I think it’s unfortunate that you and I can’t engage in a respectful dialogue about that perspective, but I’m hardly surprised.

  73. Gavin

    Holopupenko,

    Since you are a champion of evidence based reasoning, please show us how it is done by providing evidence for these statements that you made about me (not about ideas or positions, but me) in 36 above. I will number them for easy reference.

    1) “…you believe all things (not just artifacts) but ALL things–including natural things, i.e., those things with immanent ends–can be made to suit your personal, subjective whims….”

    2) “…for you your will and desire have primacy….”

    3) “…you actually fear and reject reality as it is.”

    4) “…you are all about will to power.”

    As it stands, these appear to be evidence-free, personal and subjective opinion based solely on emotion. Show us how you base your statements on evidence.

  74. Holopupenko

    @80:

    Nope – won’t take your bait: you bailed @51…

    … Wait, on second thought, first clearly and succinctly either deny or affirm the four you listed, defining your terms AND include the other points I raised (which you conveniently did not list), and then I’ll decide whether to take it from there. The way you formulated the challenge permits you later to weasel out of no matter what I write.

    Moreover, the onus is on you to rigorously provide a defense of your redefinition of marriage (which was one of Tom’s points), which you also conveniently not done. So, trying to deflect by turning the table on me isn’t going to work.

  75. OS

    Tom, in addition to calling me “deluded,” I find your presumption that my opinions are derived from “what’s in the news,” as though I don’t think for myself, disrespectful. You have no idea from what my opinions are derived. You have no idea what my experiences are. You don’t even know what news sources I access. You are not, I think, interested in hearing others’ perspectives, but only in devaluing them.

  76. OS

    Tom, in addition to calling me “deluded,” I find your presumption that my opinions are derived from “what’s in the news,” as though I don’t think for myself, disrespectful. You have no idea from what my opinions are derived. You have no idea what my experiences are. You don’t even know what news sources I access. You are not, I think, interested in hearing others’ perspectives, but only in devaluing them.

  77. Gavin

    Holopupenko,

    The four statements are all false, but now that it is clear that you have no evidence it is time to call them what they really are: lies.

    I found your lies quite annoying until your last comment. You demand that I define your terms for you, as if you are unsure what your lies even mean. Then you demand that I address everything else you wrote before you will defend your lies. Finally, you hide behind Tom. Honestly, at this point it is just adorable.

  78. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Tom
    #28

    “First, he gave his money to prevent others from usurping centuries of established practice on account of their religiously-related beliefs, shared by only a minority.”

    #50
    “Exactly! And we didn’t have to re-define “vote,” either. We took an existing right and expanded it, without the slightest redefinition, to include others.”

    Bill Clinton redefined marriage to exclude same sex unions in 1996 when he signed in the “Defense of Marriage Act”. We had a similar thing in Australia early this millennium when PM John Howard added the phrase “Marriage can only be between a man and a woman” to our laws. These things are new and a redefinition. And perhaps they were beliefs shared by only a minority, but they are no longer. The changing consensus of the majority is how these things, well, change.

    “Second, you’re imposing your religious beliefs by this very statement. You’re teaching us (or trying to) that religion is only a matter of private belief and practice. My religion doesn’t say that, though, and neither does any other form of responsible Christianity–yet you’re telling us that’s what I should believe.”

    I’m not trying to tell you what to believe. I’m trying to stop your beliefs from imposing on the freedoms of others. I don’t understand how anyone else’s freedom impinges on yours? Does it impose on your religious beliefs if Muslims live next door to you? Does it impose on your religious beliefs if Gay people can get married? Please explain how?

    “Tom asserts that sexually active homosexuals are damned.”

    “I do?

    Really?

    That’s news to me.”

    You said, “It’s not Christian to be Gay.” I took that to mean it was incompatible to be Christian (saved through the grace of Christ) and Gay (attracted to the same gender). If that’s not what you meant, please clarify.

    “Maybe, Shane, you don’t know the meaning of sin, salvation, redemption, repentance, and grace, and how they all interact. Would you like to know?”

    Sure.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  79. Gavin

    X @77

    You make a good point about “men” having been used as both a gender specific and a gender neutral term for a long time. Certainly the United States did not act as if it was a gender neutral term, since women didn’t win the right to vote until 1920. In practice “people” was often a gender specific term meaning “men.”

    I also agree that those qualification to the “whoever you want” exist. They aren’t what we are debating.

  80. scblhrm

    Gavin, OS, Shane ~

    One of the advantages of being Christians is that we need not fear the real world, people’s real, lived lives. We can embrace truth and need never – in fear, ignorance, or both – desperately stand atop a false narrative built on lies, oppression, and discrimination. Whether one is Gay or Ex-Gay or Transgender or Heterosexual, we find the offensive inclusiveness of Christ’s Cross. Unlike those who hate Ex-Gays by calling their lived-life, their felt-reality a “Lie”, the Christian can embrace their lived life along with all other lived lives. We need never brand a lived-life a “lie” merely because that life’s story is an inconvenient “statistical minority” threatening to our own false narrative – for ours is a narrative of the real world as it actually is, of real lives as they actually are.

    Through a slightly more focused lens: The inhumanity and abuse which Ex-Gays are faced with is troubling, even disturbing, even offensive. Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. accurately analyzed the status of, the experience of, all that is Minority in his brilliant descriptive of the sorts of dehumanizing institutionalized disenfranchisement which societal groups suffer should they be defined out of humanity itself by majority groups peddling their particular narrative of deceit. Ultimately the experience of every-man’s humanity rises to the surface, victorious. Inside of Immutable Love’s embrace we find, coherently, that in fact both changed ex-gays and unchanged gays are found inside the walls of Love’s embrace, and those who only love our dear friends who are unchanged gays and yet continue to reject, even hate and silence, our dear friends who are ex-gays, and continue to seek to oppress and ridicule those dear gay friends of ours who in the freedom of their own will merely desire to seek change are themselves the inhumanity which the human spirit has always sought freedom from. Such exclusivity and discrimination always, eventually, comes down on the wrong side of history. Any narrative which must depend upon lies, upon deception, and upon violence to sustain its influence in society has, history is teaching us, time and again, come down on the wrong side of history, of humanity.

    This is by no means a typical story and is a story that is representative of only a very, very small minority of our dear Gay friends: an Ex-Gay had died, and, it is interesting to note the reaction of some of his gay friends as they sat by. I’m not sure they were really his “friends”, though. That he was atop his death bed seemed to them an irritation, as, at his death, he could no longer offer to them what their narrative, built on un-truth, needed. He left his world having had (in the past) an appetite for the male, and, having, years later, changed, truly, and, upon leaving our world, enjoyed, wanted, the female, with children having been born out of such delight. That his “friends” sat by his death bed hoping he’d make a last-minute announcement that his ex-gay status had been, all along, autohypnosis, and, upon his death, betraying a visible disappointment that such never materialized, is not merely offensive, but is actually frightening. The hatred which this reveals is troubling and speaks of a kind of illness in both motive and narrative in those who react this way, as if the man’s life was just a bit for their story, and not a human being, but rather a non-person. Clearly this is not the reaction which most of our dear gay friends have at such a deathbed of an ex-gay friend, but, just as Christian’s must be introspective in motives, so too must those who find such an interior set of emotions at the sight of such ex-gays. A motive check is called for in all of us. Will we embrace reality, or, will we seek a false-narrative which secures power even if such disenfranchises an inconvenient minority which we feel threatened by? Will we invite everyone to the table, or, we will only invite the “statistical majority”? Will we only permit this dear minority of ex-gays to the table if they agree to wear a name badge with Red Lettered shame stating, “My Name Is Liar”? Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. spoke quite descriptively of such institutionalized power-plays, and fought, on the side of right, against them. As Christians we must not return hate for hate here, but we must instead do as Immutable Love does and embrace all people and let dignity win out. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” (Pastor Martin Luther King, Jr.)

    Man’s violence against , oppression of, and silencing of the human spirit’s thirst for hope, of Love’s Truth, can only end up sounding like a kind of ill-tasting incoherence, as history has taught us that, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” (Pastor Martin Luther King, Jr.)

    In Christ, in Love’s Ontology, we find the embrace of all men everywhere, as churches are but hospitals for all of us, both changed and unchanged, in whatever arena one wishes to foist. William Lane Craig reminds us, “If you find yourself feeling glad when some affliction befalls a homosexual person or you find feelings of hatred welling up in your heart toward homosexual people, then you need to reflect long and hard on the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew: “it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you” (Mt. 10.15; 11.24).”

  81. OS

    I’ve known both gay and straight people who have changed their orientation later in life and been happy with their choice. Theory is that sexual orientation is a continuum along which people can and do move. I knew one man who had had exclusively gay relationships into his forties, then married a woman. He said he’d met the only woman in the world he could be with.

  82. scblhrm

    Yes, the false narrative of the “Immutable Self” is simply a kind of hiding one’s head in the sand. Unfortunately the majority seem to seek power rather than truth – betraying a concern for agenda rather than truths about our humanity. The narrative of the “Immutable Man” is built atop deception, discrimination, and the employment of power for an institutionalized disenfranchisement of an inconvenient Minority. Naturalism alone – even void of God – reduces all that is in Man to simple biochemistry, and thus easily mutable, and rejects the false narrative of the “Immutable Man” ipso facto, though, of course, God Is, and thus again we find the narrative of the “Immutable Man” to be wholly incoherent, though for a different set of reasons. Our precious Gay, Transgender, and Ex-Gay friends all suffer a subtle but brutal fear-based dehumanization because they desired – sought – and discovered full and final change in their sexuality or because they don’t find full and final change and continue to house various appetites despite seeking that change. Ebb and Flow. This and That. It’s different for all of us. Such variability, such mutability – while coherent to the Metanarrative of Christianity – is a dire threat to the false narrative built on branding lived lives as lies – such as our dear Ex-Gay friends experience as they are an inconvenient and thus expendable minority, their story a threat to the false-narrative of the majority who seem to be content with sticking their heads in the sand and hum to themselves, “There is no variability.There is no mutability. Not ever. No No.” Perhaps cognitive dissonance theory may offer some help there. Denying reality (Ex-Gays who found full and final change in appetite) to preserve emotional calm or to advance an agenda are both marks of illness both in motive and in narrative. For reasons of Truth and Love Christians are not afraid of the truth and so find the Good of embracing the real world as it actually is, embracing every last life – their lives never branded a lie and never disenfranchised, as the Christian Metanarrative is quite comfortable with such mutability. The liberation from being afraid of truth and from being afraid to openly embrace and value all lives and their felt-realities is one of the benefits – joys even – of being a Christian.

  83. Gavin

    scblhrm,

    I too know people who have changed. People are complicated, unique, mutable individuals. It is important to respect them in all of their variety, and it is especially important to recognize their autonomy in finding the path that is best for them, including gays, ex-gays, transgendered and others. Thanks for supporting such an inclusive compassion.

  84. scblhrm

    Gavin,

    Yes we can and do change and in varying degrees one from another though unfortunately that reality of mutability/variability is deemed a sort of lie by far too many. Tom’s mention of a law in Ca. forbidding people from seeking change reflects such fear-based thinking (the law, not Tom’s mention of it), but, ultimately, the truths of lived lives wins out over the employment of various forms of deception. Moves like that (calling mutability/variability a lie) are quite understandable though, as mutability and variability are incoherent with a certain false-narrative of the current majority while coherent with Christianity’s statement about Mankind in general. Fortunately there is an Immutable Self – our loving God. Or – ontologically speaking – we would call Him Immutable Love for necessarily Trinitarian reasons. Unfortunately the wide open inclusiveness of His Cross offends both the Anti-Gay and the Pro-Gay on some level. The former for embracing the lesbian and the latter for embracing her mutability – and/or – the former for embracing those of us who don’t all change in areas others want us to (are any of us exempt from that group?), and the latter for embracing those who actually have been changed completely in this particular emotionally charged area. Either way Christ’s wide open inclusiveness offends.

  85. Tom Gilson

    That study could lend significant support to my position, but I am not ready to accept what Lifesite news has written about it. I’m looking into it further.

    Here’s my problem with it so far. I downloaded the research article that was reference in this new report, and it’s a very small-n study. More importantly, I don’t find anything in it to support the news report’s major contention, that it’s about relationship problems with gay partners.

    There is this:

    The high incidence of interpersonal conflict in the lives of LGBT people who have died by suicide in the present study is remarkable, with 65.7% having experienced some form of relationship problem prior to death.

    And this:

    Table 4 presents the findings in relation to life events. In terms of relationship problems overall, LGBT individuals experienced such problems in the majority (65.7%) compared with exactly one-third in comparison cases, the difference being statistically significant (OR = 3.76; P = 0.002). Within the category of relationship problems, relationship conflict was significantly more common in LGBT than in non-LGBT cases (31.4% in LGBT versus 9.5% in comparison cases; OR = 3.73, P = 0.005). While family conflict was less common among LGBT suicides than non-LGBT (5.7% versus 17.1%, respectively; Fisher’s exact test = 0.160), the difference was not statistically significant. Interpersonal conflict, however, was revealed to be more frequent among LGBT individuals (14.3%) than in comparison cases (4.8%), with the difference approaching statistical significance (OR = 3.00, P = 0.082).

    The easiest way to interpret the numbers in parentheses is to look at the P values. The researchers chose a significance threshold before running the numbers, as researchers are supposed to do. They chose 0.05, which is one standard level typically used in social research. When a P-value reaches 0.05 or lower, that means there’s a reportable finding, unless you’re a Bayesian or logical probabilist statistician, in which case things get really complicated.

    The lower the P-Value, the more significant the finding; but “significan” doesn’t mean important, it means “the findings we got from this small sample are likely to be close to the findings we’d get if we researched the entire population” (or something a lot like that, I don’t want to get all the way technical here).

    Anyway, some of the findings are in that high likelihood range: LGBT individuals who committed suicide had more relationship problems than straights (P=0.002), and this was in the form of relationship conflict (P=0.005). They did not, however, have more family conflict.

    That last line of “approaching statistical significance” should be interpreted as, “there’s a really good chance this finding wouldn’t hold up in subsequent research, though it might be interesting to find out.”

    In fact, from what I see here, the same could be said for the whole article. It absolutely does not support the idea that family conflict contributes to LGBT suicide, but it sort of does support the possibility that other relational conflicts might; and yet it’s a correlational study, so conclusions are hard to draw in any event; and yet it’s suggestive of something that would be worthy of further inquiry.

    I say all that to caution my fellow believers not to make more of this than is there. It would help support our position if it were true, but I won’t accept it merely for convenience; I want more solid information.

    I have contacted the Lifesite news reporter to ask if he has more information supporting the quotes he made in that article.

  86. Larry Tanner

    Does anyone think the question itself would be better as “Can I Be Gay and (insert -ian/-ist)?” rather than “Can You Be Gay and (insert -ian/-ist)?”

    Isn’t it more in line with avoiding smug religionism simply to accept people — particularly people who profess the same religion — as friends and let them decide for themselves whether they can be both one thing and another?

    (Not that I see much smug religionism on this thread, just curious about the title of the book and the difference in approach from “You” to “I.”)

  87. BillT

    Theory is that sexual orientation is a continuum along which people can and do move.

    More along these lines:

    Are gays and lesbians born that way? Surprisingly, at least to me, many LGBT scholars are answering with a resounding “No.”

    An overview with links here.

    Original article here.

  88. Tom Gilson

    Larry @97, you’re proposing a breakdown in language, wherein each person can decide, “I can be ____ and ____.” That’s where your idea is heading, if people can say they are both one thing and another.

    I can say that I am taller than my wife and shorter than my wife, if I can define those words to make them simultaneously true. I can decide that I am an American citizen and an Iraqi ruler, if I can define those terms to suit.

    The point of this post was to define terms. It’s one thing to disagree with a definition, it’s another thing to say that people can claim whatever they want, without regard to definitions.

  89. Larry Tanner

    That’s not what I am proposing. I am stating that it is not your call to tell someone that s/he cannot be both a Christian and openly homosexual. You simply do not have the authority to decide who is or is not a Christian. What’s more, if a legitimate Christian denomination (or several) accepts homosexuals as homosexuals and embrace them also as Christian, what business is it of yours?

    You are, of course, welcome to hold to your view that Christianity and open homosexual love are in conflict. You don’t have to join the LGBT alliance. Your view can be acknowledged and respected, but your view is not the only one and not necessarily the prevailing one.

    Sidetrack (feel free not to respond if this will derail things): Defining terms can be funny business. Based on your view that one cannot be both Christian and gay, I assume you would also agree that one cannot be both Jewish and Christian (like Jews for Jesus). Full disclosure: Although I consider Jews for Jesus to be a scurrilous movement, I have no problem that some should want to call themselves Messianic Jews or Jewish Christians.

  90. Tom Gilson

    Larry,

    The question, “can you be gay and Christian” was on the cover of the book. It wasn’t exactly my question. I specifically avoided it because I’m not about to pronounce certain gay friends of mine not-Christian. I agree that I have no business making that kind of judgment.

    If you want to know my question and my answer, it’s summarized here, right at the end of the OP.

    These two books carry the heart of the question into the core of conservative Christianity: which way is more biblical. The answer, it seems to me, is quite objectively clear. In the sense that Vines and others like him want us to think of it — where the issue has to do with the rightness of certain sexual practices — it’s not Christian to be gay.

    What you’re objecting to, in other words, is a conclusion that I did not draw.

    However, I do think that if, for example, “a legitimate Christian denomination (or several) accepts homosexuals as homosexuals and embrace them also as Christian,” I would say that this is good to the extent that they embrace them as sinners redeemed by grace, but wrong to the extent that they say that homosexual practice is right and good in God’s eyes.

    And who am I to say that, you ask? I ask back, who is Matthew Vines to say otherwise? Who are you? What bleepin’ difference does it make who he is, or you are, or I am? It’s the wrong question. Matthew Vines says that the Bible supports homosexual practice. The reasons he gives for this are all identifiably weak at best, completely false at worst. In other words, he’s wrong. And that’s not based on who I am, it’s based on what the best scholarship has to say about what the Bible says.

    So here are two more of your typical red herrings: you’ve implied that I’m saying something I’m not (yet another misrepresentation), and you’ve made it a personality question when it’s actually a question of objective fact.

    Sidetrack (feel free not to respond if this will derail things): Defining terms can be funny business. Based on your view that one cannot be both Christian and gay, I assume you would also agree that one cannot be both Jewish and Christian (like Jews for Jesus).

    No. In the one case I’m talking about whether a certain set of sexual practices is morally justifiable according to the Bible, and in your case you’re talking about whether a member of a certain group can be a Christian. The two cases have nothing to do with each other.

    I’m glad you asked that question, since it helps me clarify my position.

  91. Larry Tanner

    Tom,

    I am not going to get into it with you. I understand your view to be “it’s not Christian to be gay,” as you say.

    That you and “the best scholarship” think Vines is wrong in his view of Christianity is irrelevant. You and the best scholarship hold no moral authority. Neither does Vines, by the way. Yet he and others of like mind can gather together and proclaim themselves both Christian and gay (in any senses they like), same as anyone else. And there’s not a thing that can be done about it.

    I think you are wrongheaded on the Jews for Jesus thing. It’s about who can be Jewish, not who can be Christian. Orthodox Jews say that one who claims Jesus was anything more than a man is a Christian, not a Jew. My question was whether you feel it is right for Jews to deny that Messianic Jews are Jewish, that they are both Christian and Jewish?

    As I said, I won’t get int it with you. I don’t need to. If you want em to clarify something I said, I will. But otherwise I have the luxury of not needing to say any more, even if you try to bait me with your usual indignation schtick.

  92. Tom Gilson

    You say,

    You and the best scholarship hold no moral authority. Neither does Vines, by the way. Yet he and others of like mind can gather together and proclaim themselves both Christian and gay (in any senses they like), same as anyone else. And there’s not a thing that can be done about it.

    Moral authority?

    Larry, read the blog post. Read my lips. The question Matthew Vines and Dan Brown both asked was, “Does the Bible support homosexual practice?”

    It doesn’t.

    That’s not a moral question, that’s a “What do the words on the page say, in proper historical and literary context?” question.

    Yet he and others of like mind can gather together and proclaim themselves both Christian and gay (in any senses they like), same as anyone else. And there’s not a thing that can be done about it.

    Sure they can, except for this: if they pronounce themselves Christian and gay in the sense that “The Bible is fully supportive of homosexual acts,” there is something I can do about it. I can tell them they’re wrong. Which I have done.

    My question was whether you feel it is right for Jews to deny that Messianic Jews are Jewish, that they are both Christian and Jewish?

    No, that wasn’t your question, you eel. Your question was, based on my understanding of the definitions I was working with, can a Jew be a Christian. Why would I have an opinion on the right answer from an Orthodox Jewish perspective? Why am I at fault for not thinking “Orthodox Judaism” when you answered, when you didn’t even mention it until you pronounced me wrong for not making it the heart of my answer?

    Anyway, they can say what they want to say, it would be their answer from their perspective. My answer is my answer from my perspective, which is well-informed by knowledge of what it means to be Christian, but not well-informed on what Orthodox Jews would think. Who am I to say that one has to give up being a Jew to be a Christian, in the sense of family heritage, customs, and so on?

    (Read the book of Hebrews for more on that…)

    My “indignation” is no “shtick” (def.: “a gimmick, comic routine, style of performance, etc., associated with a particular person.”) It’s no gimmick. It’s no “style of performance.” It’s certainly not intended to be comic. I don’t even think it’s “indignation” (def.: “anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment”). My annoyance is not about “unfair treatment.” It’s about your evasiveness, misrepresentations, and other generally rude and unfriendly ways to treat another human being.

  93. scblhrm

    Larry I have to say I enjoy the skill in your writing, but overall here you are making this topic more complex than it really is at bottom.

    At bottom is what Tom described: “That’s not a moral question, that’s a “What do the words on the page say, in proper historical and literary context?” question.” Hermeneutics on X.

    That’s pretty simple. It’s not hard.

    There is no need to ever so subtly equivocate…. or smudge or hedge to ever so subtly work in an equivocation in Tom’s wording which really isn’t there in wording or intent.

    It would be an honest – and respectable – move for anyone, you or I or Tom or whoever, Etc., to just make a hermeneutical case Ya / Na: Scripture’s weight is towards X being viewed by Immutable Love as Good, Lovely, Willed by Him – or – Scripture’s weight is towards X being viewed by Immutable Love as Man in his fragmentation – that privation of the Self which is called sin – and so on and so on – via those means of that discipline which is called hermeneutics – the “science of interpretation”.

    None of us come to His offensive Grace void of our own painful awareness of our own moral failures and somehow void of sin, and thus anyone who is awake to one’s own humanity will know that the question therefore cannot be, “If X is a sin, can the X-er be a Christian?” We’re all X-ers today. And we’re all His beloved today. To the Accuser who charges us before the God Who is the Lover of our Being, we say, “Yes, that’s correct, and what of it?” as we hand in an All-Sufficient resume’ filled in by All-Sufficiency Himself.

    To think that the question on the floor before us is, “Can X be a sin or if X is a sin – can the X-er be a Christian?” betrays a complete gap in an understanding of Grace in its uniquely Christian sense and is equally revealing of a complete lack of all of us daily X-er’s finding – to our astonishment – the firm grounding of the unthinkable – that He calls us His beloved – sourced wholly to the Immutable Goodness of His Love – and expressly void of any ground whatsoever hidden somewhere within the Self that He calls His beloved.

  94. scblhrm

    Typo:

    “….and is equally revealing of a complete lack of all of us daily X-er’s finding – to our astonishment – the firm grounding of the unthinkable – that He calls us His beloved – ….”

    Should have read,

    “….and is equally revealing of a complete lack of understanding of all of us daily X-er’s finding – to our astonishment – the firm grounding of the unthinkable – that He calls us His beloved – ….”

  95. Larry Tanner

    At bottom is what Tom described: “That’s not a moral question, that’s a “What do the words on the page say, in proper historical and literary context?” question.” Hermeneutics on X.

    That’s pretty simple. It’s not hard.

    Pretty simple, that is, unless interpreters disagree on what makes the context proper and on what is and is not the relevant/important part of the context.

    For example, many of the stories in what are now the first books of the Pentateuch are carry-overs from an earlier era, an era in which there was no “Bible” per se but rather a library of narratives, legal codes, rituals, and so on. Do these stories mean what the original writers/recorders of the stories took them to mean, or do they mean what the biblical compilers took them to mean?

    You might think I am going off on a tangent, but my question goes to the core of the issue: who decides what the proper meaning, proper context, proper background is? It’s just not as simple as “what the words on the page say.”

    Even in the best scholarship and the consensus scholarship, when we deal with very old texts in very old languages, there’s always reason for lack of confidence in any reading we have. Hermeneutics is useful, but it’s never been a way to the one true definitive authoritative no kidding no changing it meaning of any text.

    (And no, I am not claiming anyone said hermeneutics was this. I simply offer my own view of the matter for consideration. Indeed, this same caveat applies to the entirety of my post except for the quote.)

  96. Tom Gilson

    Some things are harder to interpret, some are easier.

    Your skepticism would seem to suggest that nothing can be known with any degree of confidence. Is that what you’re saying?

    Recall that this is a question about the meaning of the Bible being asked by people who think the Bible has a meaning that can be discerned. Your position would seem to entail that everyone here is wrong.

    Is that what you’re saying?

  97. Larry Tanner

    Tom,

    Some things are harder to interpret, some are easier.

    Your skepticism would seem to suggest that nothing can be known with any degree of confidence. Is that what you’re saying?

    No, I am not saying that ‘nothing can be known with confidence,’ and my ‘skepticism’ (I would not call it skepticism) does not suggest this.

    I am not talking about passages that are difficult. Degree of difficulty has nothing to do with what I had stated earlier, which was this:

    Pretty simple, that is, unless interpreters disagree on what makes the context proper and on what is and is not the relevant/important part of the context.

    For example, many of the stories in what are now the first books of the Pentateuch are carry-overs from an earlier era, an era in which there was no “Bible” per se but rather a library of narratives, legal codes, rituals, and so on. Do these stories mean what the original writers/recorders of the stories took them to mean, or do they mean what the biblical compilers took them to mean?

    Then, you say:

    Recall that this is a question about the meaning of the Bible being asked by people who think the Bible has a meaning that can be discerned. Your position would seem to entail that everyone here is wrong.

    Is that what you’re saying?

    No, I am not at all saying that ‘everyone here is wrong.’ Quite the opposite, actually. I am saying that there can be several different ways to be considered right.

  98. Tom Gilson

    Gandhi was considered right. Pol Pot was considered right. Lamarck was considered right. Trotsky was considered right. Mengele was considered right. Lincoln was considered right. John Wilkes Booth was considered right.

    My goal is not to be considered right.

  99. Larry Tanner

    My goal is not to be considered right.

    Of course.

    I assume you mean you prefer to be right over being considered to be right. How do you think that happens in interpretation, being right?

    (Lest I be accused of misrepresentation, I add a caveat that my assumption and questions derive from my own perspective of what’s being discussed and said. In no way am I trying to articulate your view or describe what you believe.)

  100. scblhrm

    Calling people’s lived reality “lies” is never “being right”. The discrimination against and institutional disenfranchisement of an inconvenient “statistical minority” is one of the reasons I embrace Christ’s offensive inclusiveness in this area of mankind’s sexuality. The “Immutable Man” narrative isn’t coherent with reality, with real, actual, lived-lives, and everyone matters. Prayerfully, hopefully, our soon to come Gay Pastors will embrace their Ex-Gay brothers and sisters, and their narrative, and encourage those who freely desire to explore change to do so. Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. has profound insights on the horrific plight of all that is Minority, especially a Minority whose narrative is threatening to a false-narrative held by a Majority, and such thought-lines are helpful here in helping us in healing hate and in embracing real lives actually lived.

    It seems that we will have – perhaps in the future – the “average Christian Church” embracing the reality of Gays who have tried to change and cannot, and the reality of those who have desired change and found change, as well as the value and worth of all of these dear children. In that mix will be the decision that some physical acts therein are in fact worked out between man and God, rather than between rational, consenting adults alone, and so on, God not really being “silent” on this or that paradigm. And then there will be another branch of Churches where – perhaps – our Gay Pastors teach that – overall – physical acts of any kind between rational, consenting adults are pretty much the business of them alone, and not ever – really – worked out between “them and God”, as God would seem to be (perhaps) sort of silent on the matter, not really leading us Himself in those areas but rather having it sort of “set up here on earth” so that drive or desire or some other similar something sort of leads us instead. Or something perhaps similar. Probably over time such lines will be amorphous and slowly morph into something more definable. We will have to wait and see what the narrative of the Ex-Gay and the Ex-Gay herself experience inside those ministries of the latter form, if their narrative is declared to be some sort of lie or a kind of autohypnosis, or if they, and their narrative of their lived-reality, are welcomed in, and so on. It seems that – perhaps – in both of those Church forms Christ’s wide open inclusiveness, Immutable Love’s wide open Grace will – either way – offend us as – either way – His Church will not fully mirror His Grace. After all, how could His Church mirror Him, being comprised of imperfect seekers?

    Christ comes to us full of Truth and also full of Grace. As fragmented persons unable to perfect either Grace or Truth in our interactions with one another, as history has painfully taught us, we ought to err on the side of Grace. Using Scripture as a hammer to unlove one whom Christ loves only makes of us a sort of unsightly alien in His Kingdom. His House ought to be a place quite unlike the violent, competitive world outside, a hospital for all of us, a respite free of the daily fight kicking us in the face, free of the devaluing and exhausting “Try Harder Or Else” knocking out our teeth. Where, in Grace, we can all walk with Christ for three years only to then deny Him three times, and then walk with Him again, where we can walk out our particular journey of amalgamation with Immutable Love.

    A Pastor I know has his entire music ministry comprised of outsiders looking in, of working prostitutes, of members who – on Saturday night – play the clubs, womanize, and so on. Several addicts come in to play and sing as well. In and out of therapy. And jail. It’s packed every service, a graceless world finding that Pearl of great price. Its members fully aware of the how and the why and the who. Christ surrounds Himself, fills up His traveling city, with the likes of these. All of whom denied, deny, Him ultimately – which He knew, knows, would be the case, will be the case. His – Love’s – methodology for these outsiders looking in was, is, simple: Grace outreaches Truth and gets us all where we need to be. For the Legalists, for the defenders of the Faith, His methodology was, is, a harsh inverse: Truth outreaches Grace and gets us all to see what we all need to see, gets us all where we all need to be.

    That is Christ’s – Immutable Love’s – methodology as He and His traveling city of lawbreakers and Christ-Deniers X 3 crisscross the world.

Comments close automatically after 120 days. Comment numbering may be incorrect due to a temporary bug.