Saturday, April 14, 2012

I'm Christian--If You're Gay, and If You're Not Gay

Since a number of people have been responding to the blog "I'm Christian, unless You're Gay," and the response to it, "A Teen's Brave Response," I thought I'd better take a look at them.

The articles are well-intentioned. The blog author is right that it is important to love. But there are so many misconceptions in both of the posts, and pretty much every point of view expressed by the various people in those two posts is wrong.

The author is wrong in his understanding of what it means when a person says, "I'm Christian."

The mom is wrong in how she felt as a Christian before she knew her son was gay.

The mom is also wrong in how she felt after she found out her son was gay.

And the teen is wrong about how he expects Christians should treat him as a gay.

First, saying "I'm Christian" doesn't mean, "I'm going to be kind to you." It also doesn't mean, "Hey, whatever you do is your own business; it's OK by me; I love everyone, so let's just be friends." And it doesn't even mean "I try to adhere to the great moral teachings of a wise teacher." No, "I'm Christian" means "I have been saved from the consequences of my sinfulness by Jesus Christ, and I now have a personal relationship with him." And if that changes when we encounter people who are different from us, then we are not truly Christians. The examples of so-called Christians cited in the blog, who are unkind to gays or who say they hate them, are very poor examples of Christians.

Second, the mom, as a Christian, was wrong to feel hatred towards gays or to think they were evil just because of being gays. Christians ought to know that every single person on earth, gay or not, is sinful; there is no difference between them. They ought to know that every single person, gay or not, needs Jesus Christ. Christians ought to know as well that no one is any worse than anyone else; that no one deserves to be hated. Without exception, Christians ought to know that everyone deserves to be offered the love of God. Jesus died for gays and Jesus died for heterosexuals. He loves them all and does not think of people in categories. Hatred against people, gay or not, is not open to Christians. It is a sin for Christians to hate.

Third, when the mom found out that her son was gay, she was wrong to suddenly totally accept everything her son did. She was right to want to express love to him. But she was wrong not to want to guide his actions. Christians, if they truly follow Jesus' teachings, should not suddenly change their minds about what is a sin just because they know someone nice who does it. Christians can love people while still expressing disapproval of sinful behavior. Parents do this all the time with their children. It is no different with sexual behavior than it is with anything else. One can express disapproval of a child's sexual behavior and guide the child away from it without hating the child.

Fourth, the teen, and many other LGBTQ people, expect that Christians (and everyone else) should treat them not only with love, but with approval of everything they do. In essence, LGBTQ people are asking Christians to change their beliefs so that LGBTQ people can live their lives the way they want without having to hear that anyone thinks that they are wrong. This is unfair and, in fact, hypocritical, because the LGBTQ people are telling Christians that the Christians are wrong. In a truly tolerant society, everyone would have to put up with hearing someone say that they were wrong, and no one should feel hated just because someone says they are wrong.

I would actually like to know where Jacob, and this teen, live, because I certainly do not know any towns where everyone hates gays. But I do know that in Western culture recently there has been a vociferous effort to make Christians stop stating that they believe that homosexual sex is wrong.

"I'm Christian, unless You're Gay" says this: "...sin is a very personal thing! It always has been and it always will be! And it has nothing to do with love. Absolutely nothing. Disparity and difference have nothing to do with love. We shouldn't choose who we will love and who we won't."

This makes several incorrect assumptions about Christian beliefs about sin. First, it assumes that it is only disparity and difference that constitute sin for Christians. Instead, Christians view as sin what the Bible has called sin.

Second, it assumes that when Christians call a behavior sinful, they have chosen not to love the person engaging in that behavior. There are two parts to that assumption: 1) the assumption that one could not love a person if one says their behavior is wrong; and, 2) the assumption that it is not loving to correct someone.

The first part of that assumption is proved wrong by all the times a loving parent tells a child their behavior is wrong. Since the parent has told the child about the wrong behavior, has the parent chosen not to love the child? The statement, "We shouldn't choose who we will love and who we won't," referring to disapproving of homosexual sex, is incorrect.

The second part of that assumption is proved wrong if you take into account the Christian belief that living one's life the way God has designed it to be lived will lead to greater happiness. In that case, telling people how to live the way Christians believe God has told us to live is indeed loving--Christians are trying to show people a happier way to live. It is not the case that urging people not to sin has nothing to do with love. Instead, seen from the Christian point of view, it has everything to do with love.

It is sad to me when I see articles such as "I'm Christian, unless You're Gay." This is not only because there are so many hurting people like the teen in the response. It is also because there are so many misunderstandings that lead to discord. If only people would truly listen to those who differ with them, rather than reacting with their first emotions. There would be much less hurt, even if we didn't all agree.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

E-mail with Kattie Coon

"Kattie Coon", a blog commenter who claims she is orthodox but who relentlessly takes the progressive point of view, had an e-mail conversation with Viola Larson, and when Viola cc'ed me, I joined in. (Kattie Coon is not her real name, and she says her employer requires her to be anonymous on her personal blog.) Kattie has been complaining on her blog that Viola did not post the entire e-mail conversation, but only parts of it, and she thinks that Viola must be trying to hide things. So I am posting the whole thing here.

Read from the bottom. And notice that Kattie set up proposal to do something, with a condition attached, and when Viola chose not to participate, but remain in the status quo, Kattie called that Viola wanting war.


Oh, what a surprise, my comment was deleted. So asking why your employer wants you to remain anonymous is some form of not respecting what your bio says about your employer not wanting you to divulge information? I don't get that at all. Things sure do get intricate. I guess there is no explanation you are allowed to give? It's apparently a very strict employer? I think your rights are being violated. You ought to consider that. If it's true, that is.

Subject: RE: talking
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 15:18:43 -0700
Kattie, looking for your answer on your blog, then.

> Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 15:42:13 -0500
> From:
> To:
> CC:;;
> Subject: RE: talking
> Debbie,
> Don't walk into my private domain and pick an argument with me. This
> email account was set up for a conversation between Viola and myself.
> She chose to have you all listen in, not me. I made that concession
> to her. I wouldn't have done it on my own.
> The ball is in Viola's court. Either she wants to make peace or she doesn't.
> If it's war she wants, then this is just the kind of thing that will
> turn my conservative friends away from the Fellowship. I have good
> friends in leadership in another large congregation of the NAP that is
> sending representatives to MN too. There are also people in their
> congregation, not in leadership, interested in hearing my report. What
> would you have me tell them? The truth I hope. Don't answer that
> Debbie, it was rhetorical.
> Quoting Debbie Berkley :
> >
> > But that's the whole question I asked, Kattie. Why should it be
> > secret, even just between you and Viola? You are dodging that
> > question. I'm not asking you to tell me your name, just to tell me
> > why your employer requires you not to have freedom of speech on your
> > own time.
> >
> >
> >
> >> Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 13:43:02 -0500
> >> From:
> >> To:
> >> Subject: RE: talking
> >>
> >> Debbie,
> >>
> >> I'm sure you noticed that I'm trying to negotiate all this with Viola.
> >> Let it be between she and I.
> >>
> >> The blog problem has me baffled. I can administer my own blog, but I
> >> can't make comments without logging in as Name/URL. When I log in to
> >> make comments with my blogger ID it says I don't have access.
> >>
> >> Kattie
> >>
> >> Quoting Debbie Berkley :
> >>
> >> >
> >> > Kattie, I just asked you this question on your blog, and here it is,
> >> > in case you delete it. Notice I'm not asking who you are, only why
> >> > you can't say.
> >> >
> >> > Kattie, why does your employer want you to be anonymous? Surely you
> >> > can answer that question while remaining anonymous. Do you work for
> >> > a CIA-type employer?
> >> >
> >> > We know you live in the USA, and employers in the USA are legally
> >> > required to give their employees freedom of speech on their own
> >> > time. I worked at Microsoft for 11 years, and while being a
> >> > Christian did not help me there, and may have even subtly harmed me
> >> > (it is a determinedly secular corporation), I was not forbidden to
> >> > speak of it on my own time.
> >> >
> >> > Many of us are wondering if you perhaps actually work for an
> >> > evangelical church or organization where you do not want the others
> >> > there to know about the disdain in which you hold groups such as the
> >> > Fellowship. It's hard not to think that unless you explain yourself.
> >> >
> >> > It's also weird that you said I was welcome to comment here, and
> >> > then apparently blocked me. I'm having to use "anonymous" to take
> >> > you up on your welcome.
> >> >
> >> > Debbie Berkley
> >> >
> >> >
> >> >> Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 12:39:19 -0500
> >> >> From:
> >> >> To:
> >> >> CC:;;
> >> >> Subject: Re: talking
> >> >>
> >> >> Viola,
> >> >>
> >> >> Wow,rebuffed even before the details are spelled out.
> >> >> One of the things I was going to suggest was that we become facebook
> >> >> friends with full access. I have facebook friends who cover the gamut
> >> >> also, and our interactions aren't insulting to each other.
> >> >> Oh well, I guess you can't put the past behind us. I am making
> >> >> overtures of being willing to try, and find a way that we might be
> >> >> able to do that. I won't beg, but I really don't think you
> >> >> appreciated the offer, and I say that because you didn't know where I
> >> >> was headed with this.
> >> >>
> >> >> I'm still willing, but I need your promise first.
> >> >>
> >> >> Sincerely, in Christ's name,
> >> >> Kattie
> >> >>
> >> >> Quoting Viola Larson :
> >> >>
> >> >> > Dear Kattie,
> >> >> > I appreciate the offer but that would mean aligning myself with one
> >> >> > person who
> >> >> > dislikes the Christian brothers and sisters I am close to. It
> >> >> would create a
> >> >> > separation in real friendships that I care a great deal about. I
> >> >> > don't live in a
> >> >> > secret world and do not want to now.
> >> >> >
> >> >> >
> >> >> > I wish you all the best with love in Christ, but I feel extremely
> >> >> > sorry for you.
> >> >> > I have other friends, even on Facebook, who are extremely
> >> >> > progressive. They do
> >> >> > not feel the need to insult me nor I them, we simply disagree and
> >> >> debate the
> >> >> > issues. If you have to hide yourself that is one thing-but to hide
> >> >> > yourself and
> >> >> > at the same time make snide remarks on other blogs about people I
> >> >> care about
> >> >> > puts you in a whole different category.
> >> >> >
> >> >> >
> >> >> > Sincerely in the love of Christ,
> >> >> > Viola
> >> >> > ________________________________
> >> >> > From: ""
> >> >> > To: Viola Larson
> >> >> > Sent: Fri, August 12, 2011 9:22:47 AM
> >> >> > Subject: Re: talking
> >> >> >
> >> >> > Hi Viola,
> >> >> >
> >> >> > Thanks for writting.
> >> >> >
> >> >> > I am willing to share information about myself with you, and you
> >> >> > alone. But I
> >> >> > require a promise from you that you will never divulge any of that
> >> >> > information
> >> >> > with anyone else without first getting my permission.
> >> >> >
> >> >> > Kattie
> >> >> >
> >> >> >
> >> >> > Quoting Viola Larson :
> >> >> >
> >> >> >> Hi Kattie,
> >> >> >>
> >> >> >> What did you want to say in private?
> >> >> >>
> >> >> >> Viola
> >> >>
> >> >
> >>
> >>
> >

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spiritual Violence

A certain Presbyterian minister says it is spiritual abuse to tell people that if they don't accept God's free gift of love offered through Jesus Christ, they will die in their sins, and they will not live eternally in heaven. This minister says that it is essentially spiritual violence to warn people that the consequences of not turning their lives over to God is eternal death--a loss of the joy they could have forever with God.

What a strange definition of spiritual abuse!

Let's look at an analogy. Suppose there were a road that everyone needed to take. This road has a fork, and one direction leads to a sudden hidden precipice. Suppose further that someone wants to place a warning sign at the fork saying "Look out! If you continue along this direction, you will fall off a precipice and die." Would placing that sign there be mental abuse? Would it be mentally violent? Or would it actually be helpful and saving to the people taking that road?

That is the case with those who want to tell people about God's offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. They want to be helpful and offer what is lifesaving to those who don't have it.

Moreover, it is actually spiritually abusive to deny this offer to people. The minister who claims that God does not exist (he says, "No deity exists. Not Jesus Christ, not Yahweh, not Baal, not Marduk, not Allah, not Zeus, not the Flying Spaghetti Monster, not the Wizard of Oz. None of them exist. All figments of imagination. They are fun. But none are worth the spiritual violence they cause.") does not have a shred of proof to back up his assertion. It all rests on his own faith claim that this world is all there is, his own 21st-century weltanschauung.

He is like the stubborn medieval people who couldn't see that the world was round, so they insisted it was flat. This minister can't see or feel God, so he insists God is not there. And so he becomes spiritually abusive toward his parishioners, and the readers of his blog and newspaper articles, by denying them the saving knowledge of all that God has to offer them.

True spiritual violence is done to people when God's love is kept away from them.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Passion Week

There is a moment in the St. John Passion by Bach when, after Christ has been arrested and Peter has denied three times that he even knows Christ, the Evangelist (narrator) says that Peter went out and wept bitterly. This is sung in a hauntingly beautiful tenor voice, with a long, slow melody on the German word for "wept".

Who does not know the same kind of wretched despair that Peter felt at that time? We do things wrong. We fail again and again. We resolve to do better, and yet we find ourselves repeating our mistakes. Well we know what this music expresses. If not literally, then figuratively, we weep and weep and weep. We are trapped in our human failings. Even Peter, who has just been with the living Christ, repudiates him. How can we ever do better?

Miserable sinners that we are, who can rescue us from this body of death, from this pattern of repeated failure?

But there is one who can. It is for this that God became man in Jesus, came to earth, and took upon himself the punishment for all our failings, endured the denials, the mocking, the pain, the weight of all of everyone's sin. Who can rescue us from this body of death? Who but God? Thanks be to him through Jesus Christ our Lord! May we never take this lightly!

(Romans 7:24-25a)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Assuming Intentions

Suppose Pat, a Christian, believes that a certain group of people (Group X) should be able to do things that haven't previously been allowed, and that it's a matter of human rights for Group X. Suppose that such a belief by Pat would require interpreting the Bible in a different way from how it has been interpreted before, but Pat believes that this new interpretation is legitimate. Furthermore, Pat is passionate about giving Group X what Pat believes are human rights.

Meanwhile, suppose that Lee, also a Christian, does not believe that the new interpretation of the Bible is legitimate, and, although Lee is sorry not to be able to give members of Group X what they want, Lee cannot in conscience go against what Lee believes the Bible says. Lee believes that to do that would not only be wrong, but would also encourage the people in Group X to do things that are actually sin and thus harmful behavior, according to Lee's interpretation of the Bible. Therefore Lee believes that allowing these things would not be doing the people in Group X a kindness.

When Pat and Lee are discussing this issue with each other online, not knowing each other personally apart from the discussion, would it be legitimate for Pat to assume that Lee has malicious reasons or motivations for holding Lee's beliefs? Would it be legitimate for Pat to flatly deem Lee a bigot or prejudiced?

Similarly, would it be legitimate for Lee to assume that Pat has malicious reasons or motivations for holding Pat's beliefs? Would it be legitimate for Lee to flatly deem Pat is immoral or loose in Pat's beliefs?

I contend that none of the above assumptions is legitimate. Without evidence otherwise, both Pat and Lee should be assumed to have arrived at their beliefs sincerely and with good intentions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why an Angiogram Doesn't Scare Me

I'm having an angiogram in the morning, and it doesn't worry me. I had one almost 4 years ago, and it spooked me that time. But this time I feel quite different, and it's all because of what happened the day of that first angiogram.

The angiogram I'm having tomorrow is a precursor to probable open-heart surgery for me in perhaps a few weeks. I have a couple of heart valves that just aren't up to the job any more. But even the prospect of the open-heart surgery is not daunting to me in the long run, and it's all because of what happened the day of that first angiogram.

Maybe you'd like to know what that was. If so, take a look here:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blogs from "Cops": Don't Hurt the Kids!

I'm now at the fourth and last of my blog posts on things I've observed on the TV show "Cops." This time I'm not going to write about a specific thing I've heard anyone say, but instead about a general attitude. And it's about an attitude of the cops themselves.

What I've found, from maybe 25 years of watching this show, is that cops hate it when kids get hurt. That makes them madder than anything else. They have a special kind of anger towards the people that do bad things to children.

They are also always on the lookout for protecting children. When they're chasing some guy, and he throws his gun out the car window, later when they've caught the guy, they often say to him, "What if some little kid had picked up that gun?" Or when they go to someone's house to arrest him, and they find drugs lying around openly, and there are little children in the house, they usually give the adults a thorough enraged lecture about what could have happened to the kids if they'd gotten into the drugs.

Sometimes when they have to arrest a guy, and his little kids are nearby, they ask the mother to take the kids inside so that they won't see their dad in handcuffs.

The cops really care about the safety and well-being of children.

I got to thinking that we are God's children. If cops care that much about kids that aren't even their own kids, how much more must God care about us, his own children? He must hate seeing any of his children suffer from injustice, or poverty, or war, or terrible disease, or broken relationships.

What a powerful motivation for us to help others! They are God's children that he loves. I recently stood in a grocery checkout line and looked at all the other people around me, and as I looked at each one, I thought, "God loves her as much as he loves me. God loves him as much as he loves me."

It's easy to get caught up in our own lives, not caring about others. But just like the cops, God wants all his children to be safe and protected. God doesn't want his children to be hurt. God doesn't want them to be victimized. I know that I need to remember that God loves all his children and cares about their safety and well-being. When I remember that, then maybe I will do something about it.