Our Gay Neighbors


Well, folks, this post is bound to get me in trouble.  I seldom write about controversial topics, or if I do, I elide from one stone to another, in order to not offend.  This very well may be the first time I’ve stated, unequivocally, in a non-joking matter, that I am for or against a controversial topic. Well here it is:

I believe that lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals  should be accorded the same rights and dignity as everyone else in American society. I think they should be allowed to marry, to file joint tax returns, to visit one another in their hospital deathbeds, enjoy health benefits of a family member, to be beneficiaries of estates (upon death of a same-sex spouse), and every other right accorded the supposedly-normal population of the the USA.

I know. I can’t believe I’m saying it either. Stop reading if you will. I won’t be offended.

Two Iranians, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. They were tried for being gay, at ages 15 and 16.

We in the church are so thoroughly offended by the sin of homosexuality that we’ve invested millenia ostracizing, punishing, and and executing members of the LGBT.  We’d be better served as a Church loving these people, rather than marginalizing them as half-citizens.

Not that it’s relevant in the slightest, but I’m not gay. I have always had LGBT friends. My two closest male friends are gay. I’ve hired gay employees, knowing full well it was against “the rules” at my job to do so.  I’ve one good friend who’s undergone a sex-change. He’s doing very well, thank you. In 1988, I approached my alma mater, and asked if I could form a group to minister to to victims of AIDS and HIV (back in those days, I still used ridiculous terms, like “minister” as a verb).  I was given a cold stare, plunked down in an uncomfortable chair inside a dimly-lit room full of pamphlets about “those” kinds of people, and was left alone to really learn what we were talking about. Funny, I thought they were just people; people who were dying by the thousands, in fact. Since I received such a noncommittal response to my attempt, I eventually left the room and never inquired again.

Disc Jockey Barry Scott, victim of gay bashing, July 2007.

The attitude hasn’t changed. Just this morning, I read this comment at my (evangelical Christian) Alumni forum: “Now, should you accept gay couples in churches, I dont think so, but I would never ban them from hearing the word of God.”  So what do they do in order to be accepted into the Fold? Revoke their beloved partner? Turn from the gay lifestyle? Stop thinking gay thoughts? When, if ever, do we let them in the doors?

Gay bashing, Tulsa, OK, 2009.

I’m sick to death of slippery slope arguments, like Sen. Rick Santorum’s “homosexuality –> other forms of sin –> polygamy –> bestiality.” Santorum has managed to get his due. Just Google his last name and see what the search brings up. This also seems to be a prevailing thought in other elected officials. We hear from Rep. Michelle Bachmann, how they’re living in “bondage and slavery”. It trickles down into the hearts of our churches.  Just today I read (also on my alumni forum) “So… where does this stop? Will the next betrayed and chastised group be pedophiles? Will California then pass laws saying pedophiles are okay and can marry?” I want to ask, when will you stop comparing LGBT individuals with pedophiles and goat-fuckers? Are you that fascinated by sex that you’ve reasoned this out? You really need to get laid. *sigh*

Adams Morgan, gay bashing in Oklahoma, 2008.

It makes me sick. Just look at the pictures I posted. These are real, living, breathing humans, who were given the “what for” by individuals who are unwilling to accept the fact that approximately 1 in every 12 people in the Western world is gay.  Narrowminded folk still insist it’s a simple as shutting off a switch in their “perverted” minds, and they’d be “normal”.

Damian Furtch, New York City, March 2011.

Let it be known, people, I’d rather be “perverted” than associated with a group of people who did ^^^^ that to Damian Furtch, just three months ago.

I know this post has done little good to change minds.  I just needed to put my own thoughts to rest, or I won’t get anything done at work today. If I’ve offended you? Well, frankly, good.  Ask yourself why. Don’t stop there. Ask yourself if you’re 100% sure you’re right. Are you really, truly completely right? Do you have any supporting evidence that you’re right, other than a gut feeling, and a musty two-millenium-old set of writings?

Nov. 2009. Attacked by anti-gay groups in San Francisco at a rally to feed the homeless..

Please. Think people. I’ll tell you what marginalization leads to: it leads to the six photos I posted today, and worse. Can you really love your neighbor? Or is your brand of religion only good for inciting your congregants to beat the shit out of them.

Please. Use your heads–not your reproductive organs or your bibles–to reason this one out. It’s the right thing to do.

[Note: For most of the post, for brevity’s sake, I’ll used the word “gay” interchangeably with LGBT, which I still have to look up online, to make sure I’ve got the letters in the correct order.]

[Another Note:  All the images in this post were chosen from a Google image search using the phrase “Gay bashing”. They were chosen without going to a second screen of photos.]

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42 thoughts on “Our Gay Neighbors”

  1. Whoa. Always gonna get all kinds of feedback on this subject. Believe it or not, my personal feeling is not to agree with it but to realize that I can’t judge. I leave that to the higher power. I don’t care for the increasingly high volume of messages from all sides to accept it as “natural” human behavior. Not saying that it may well be. But not for the vast majority. I will live and let live. Judge not lest ye be judged.

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  2. Why is it that certain subjects get more talk-time than others? I’m a sinner. I’m an alcoholic. I lust. I’m divorced. I drink too much Coke and eat big bleu cheese and bacon hamburgers. I lie. I wish I could spend all day sleeping. But you don’t hear people condemning much of that at the pulpit. Because our pulpits have been tied to political agenda and personal agenda. I meet more pastors in online chat rooms “looking for a good time” than any other type of male. So let’s cut the crap and just love one another like Christ loves us. Jesus made his plan pretty simple. Love. That’s it. I can’t wrap my brain around how people can’t figure that out.

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    1. None of those things you listed is who you are. Our adversary has duped mankind into believing our behavior defines us. Those things you listed may indeed be your flesh patterns but Romans 8:9 says you are no longer in the flesh, that’s no longer where your true identity is but rather it is who we are in the spirit that defines us regardless of what the world or our culture tells us.

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  3. I don’t know Brian. I came to his blog through one of the comments to it, and I’ve read them all. I feel compelled to say that for many years, with my conservative church upbringing, I believed the common teaching that homosexuality was a sin. Through grace, through a loving United Methodist congregation, through obtaining an M.Div. at Fuller, through being ordained in the United Methodist Church, through years serving congregations in four towns, and especially through growing, deepening friendships with lesbians and gay men IN THE CHURCH, and through careful Bible study, this old, straight, married and retired pastor saw the light: No one chooses to be gay; no one chooses this so-called “lifestyle.” Gay men and women who love and serve God have tried to honor God by becoming straight. They tried harder to change than most of us would try to do anything. They got married to opposite-sex partners and had children, hoping that would make them straight. They went to Christian counselors; they prayed; they tried all kinds of therapies. Yet their orientation is gay, and try as they might, they could not change. I hear that some people have said that they know gays who could change. I think the jury’s out on that. It could be so, or it could be that they’ve driven their orientation deeply into the closet. The gay people I know were never happy in the closet. Eventually, they learned to accept their being gay, and began to accept themselves as God accepts them.

    We don’t know all there is to know about human sexuality. Certainly the Bible isn’t a book about sexuality, but is about our relationship with God. Hating oneself doesn’t leave much room for a healthy relationship. The gays I know are faithful, loving Christians who want to serve God, but many of them don’t feel safe in our churches. Who can blame them? Is it hitting them over the head with Romans 1:18-32 helpful? Wait a minute! Romans 1 is talking about people who turn away from God, and the gays I know in the church haven’t turned away! Those of you who want to judge, go to the next verse, Romans 2:1 “…you have no excuse to judge others…” Now, that will preach!

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    1. I fully agree that homosexual or heterosexual orientation is largely (though perhaps not completely) innate, and very difficult to change. I also agree that there are very different ways of practicing ones sexual orientation, and that some of them are much less pleasing to God than others. Someone who stays faithful to their partner for a lifetime, with all the self-mortification that any long-term, intimate relationship entails, is presumably doing less damage to their soul than someone who indulges in frequent promiscuous sex – whether the sex is heterosexual or homosexual. And I would also agree that if someone concludes that they are homosexual and unlikely to change, and that for whatever reason, neither chastity nor heterosexual marriage will work for them, a long-term homosexual relationship may be their best choice before God. But that’s about as far as I can go, and remain faithful to Scripture.

      I see this as something akin to polygamy in many African cultures. If I were a missionary, and a man with three wives wished to join the church, I would welcome him and his wives. I would encourage all of them to be involved in the church: to sing in the choir, to help out with VBS, to prepare meals for the pot lucks, to serve as ushers. But it would not be appropriate for them to serve as elders or deacons, nor to teach Sunday School, nor would it be appropriate to ordain them for full-time ministry. And I would encourage all of them to reflect critically on the ways that their culture and circumstances had led them to fall short of the divine standard. That doesn’t mean they’re going to hell: it means that, like everyone else, they are sinners, and fall short of God’s glory: and meditating on this fact, on a regular basis, is certainly good for ones spiritual health.

      (And for what it’s worth, I’m not sure that I would ordain *myself* to full-time ministry, since I’m divorced and remarried. I see it as a very similar situation. So far as I read the Bible, second marriages are just as much a departure from the creational norms as homosexual behavior.)

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  4. One gentle suggestion. It’s worth considering that our understanding of Scripture changes over time. The most obvious modern instance is the shift away from state-mandated slavery despite the absence of Biblical condemnation of the practice, and today almost no one would argue that slavery is morally acceptable (though I did have that argument with one Bethany student). Also, Pauline literature directs churches in the first century to keep women out of leadership, remain silent in church services, and cover their heads. This is not what a strong majority of contemporary Christians would do. None of this means Scripture lacks authority; it means that our understanding is imperfect and (we trust) will grow as the Holy Spirit prompts us. Perhaps our understanding of God and homosexuality is developing even in this discussion.

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    1. I very much agree that we learn more about Scripture, and about the God who is its source, as time passes. However much Protestants have criticized it, I like Newman’s idea of doctrine growing like a tree in the soil of Scripture. And hence, it always behooves us to be cautious and humble as we exegete, interpret and apply the Bible.

      That said, I can’t bring myself to see how homosexual activity fits into the same category as slavery or women’s rights. When the Bible talks about slavery or women’s rights, it points in a variety of directions. Paul will hardly get done saying that women should be silent in the church than he gives directions on how they should speak. 1 Timothy says that women can’t exercise authority, and then in Romans, Paul calls one of them an apostle.

      In contrast, the Bible speaks with one, undivided voice on homosexuality. More than that, so does the entire Church throughout history. And apart from a few Western denominations that have been in the decline for decades, so does the universal Church. Neither the Scriptures, nor Church history, nor the voice of the Spirit as uttered through the contemporary Body of Christ, gives me any room to move on this issue.

      I may very well be wrong about this: and perhaps in a hundred or five hundred years, even the most faithful, orthodox Christian will wonder what all the fuss was about over homosexual ordination. But the more likely outcome, I think, is that the Church in five hundred years will breathe a sigh of relief that the antinomian and latitudinarian trends in certain early 21st-century Western Christian circles were as short-lived and narrowly circumscribed in their influence as the Cathars were in the 13th.

      As I put it to Brian, I would be very interested in hearing an exposition of Scriptural authority that both (a) allowed for Scripture to exercise real, significant authority, especially in areas that go against our natural or cultural tendencies, and yet (b) still allowed the Church to ordain homosexuals. I certainly haven’t heard it yet; but if someone were to do this convincingly, I might change my mind.

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      1. I agree with you Ken. I have yet to read something that presents an accurate exegetical study of scripture that 1) embraces the homosexual lifestyle, 2) demonstrates where pastors can be Ordained as such. Now, if somebody would like to present a logical approach that would be a great debate.

        I think James Moriarty below, spells out a convincing approach using scripture to negate people’s idea that homosexuality can be sanctioned by God. I have yet to hear any reputable theologian give convincing proof to the world it’s practice can be sanctioned. Instead what I’m seeing is many people embracing “circumstantial faith.” It’s the sort of faith that bends with cultural pressure rather than stands on something as authoritative and unchanging as the Word of God, even if it’s uncomfortable, even if it’s unpopular, even if it offends and goes against our American culture.

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  5. Brian, I have only a few moments and I confess I haven’t read everyone’s responses. I will later. But thank you for posting this. People who have used the Bible to beat people up and do it self-righteously often do so not because they’re bad, but because of a frame of reference–they do not know people that are gay. I have a million things to say about that, but I’ll default to one for now. My brother is gay. He will never again walk inside a church because of the way he was treated the last time he went there. That cannot be what Jesus had in mind, but it is often what happens. When I posted in response to a couple of people two days ago, I didn’t want to, but I could not in good conscience let the parade of misinformation and self-righteousness continue. And candidly, I felt angry and defensive on behalf of my brother. Based on his experience, he believes that Christians hate and that many of them are, to put it as nicely as possible, underinformed on this complex topic. Brian, thanks for your impassioned words and for having the courage to post the photos of what results when people find ways to justify hatred.

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    1. Hello Craig – just so you know, a sibling of mine is a recovering homosexual. This person is married, still struggles with same-sex attraction, but by the grace of God has overcome. The good news is every person who wants to overcome this can in Christ. Most of the managers I hired at Costco in Santa Cruz, were gay or lesbian. My hometown is near San Francisco. I have many friends who are in the lifestyle. The bad thing about blogs is you can’t read somebody’s “tone.” It’s just too easy to read a person’s post and assume they are angry, screaming, mad, etc. When in fact, it could be a very unemotional and logical post. The issue itself is very emotional indeed. But to assume somebody is quoting the Word of God as “self-righteousness” might be a stretch. The reality is, there are many things in the Word of God where we all blow it. I don’t take issue with people struggling in life and “working out their salvation with fear and trembling.” Where I take issue, is when people propagate the sin, even call it normal, want to teach it as mainstream, and then make the majority accept their sinful lifestyle. I would have the save problem with people who were open liars, then wanted to lie all the time in society, and even have God accept their lying behavior. I would have the same issue with any number of sins. My points are being lost in the emotion of the debate…

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  6. ok… this radical California hippy can no longer keep her mouth shut… or rather, can no longer keep her typing fingers still…

    There have been several obviously well thought out comments both agreeing with and disagreeing with Brian’s theses. And there have been some posts that show the very symptoms he is railing against: the hatred, vehemence and vitriol displayed regarding homosexuals and homosexuality in some of the responses (both here and on FB), is decidedly un-Christ-like. It’s the tone of these arguments, rather than the content that get to me. If the subject matter incites that much rage in you, it may, as Brian suggests, be time for some self-contemplation.

    One person commented: “[Jesus] isn’t some feminized “guy” the media or so-called intellectuals would have you believe. And He didn’t come skipping in the tulips or handing out rose petal.”

    1) Not sure which media you’ve seen, or which intellectuals you’ve listened to, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen Jesus characterized in this manner. I have, however, seen Him characterized as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed lily-white man in a red, white & blue t-shirt; I have a real problem with that…
    2) ‘ feminized “guy”?’ You do realize you’re insulting women, right? By inferring that feminine qualities are somehow less important or less desirable or less godly than the implied manly qualities you feel this Christ-caricature you’ve created lacks, you imply that women are “less”. Thanks so much for that. Christ as a manly-man just doesn’t cut for me, though.

    For some reason this comment really got to me. Maybe it’s because I consider myself a “so-called intellectual”. Maybe it’s because of the implied insults to women. Or maybe it’s just the ridiculous-ness of the windmill the writer is tilting at.

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    1. Thank you Jude (sp?) for your comments. I stand by every single one. That would probably make me a “feminist, anti-intellectual (even though I have a BS and Masters), an insult to women (have one happily married wife and FOUR girls :), etc. My implied statement is that Jesus was/is a “man’s man.” He was not how many portray him today, “make love not war” kind of craziness out there. I understand that it may not cut it for you. But it doesn’t change the fact that he was a radical, provoked people to anger, took very controversial sides with subject matter, was a psuedo-feminist in His culture (although he “broke the law” at the time with the woman at the well), caused riots, drove people out with whips from the church, railed against religious people, was a friend of sinners (but never embraced nor condoned the sin), and died for all. That’s an incredible “man’s man” in my book. Have a great weekend and enjoy the debate.

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  7. You wrote: “This post is bound to provoke a firestorm of anger from my more conservative friends.”

    Well, I don’t know many people more conservative than me (in fact, I think Rush is getting soft in his old age…)

    ….and after reading your essay, my biggest response is: been there, done that. “Be nice to people.” “Don’t beat up people who are different than you.” “Give peace a chance.” *yawn*….. *BIG yawn* umm, didn’t we learn those things in kindergarten?

    I’m not trying to dismiss your passion, Brian. But I don’t know where to go with this. In the 60’s, it was “we don’t need a piece of paper to justify our relationship!”. Now, it’s “We need a piece of paper to justify our relationship!”

    If you dismiss “Ultimate Authority” as “a musty two-millenium-old set of writings” (YOUR WORDS)….. then, where do you go for answers? Feelings?

    =========

    On another topic, the faker “Westboro Baptist Church” that protests military funerals to demonstrate “God’s Wrath on America” for homosexuality? 10 will get you 20 that they have a LOT of secrets in their closets! I’m from Utah, I know about sex secrets, laws, oaths, hiding what is wrong… or is marrying 12 year old girls and having sex with them ‘wrong’? Who are you to say?!?

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  8. As a, finally, openly gay 45-year old man, former A/G minister, and graduate of a very conservative Bible College, I happily declare that if you are AGAINST equal rights for gay people, you are on the LOSING side.

    I’m a high school teacher (vocal music….duh!) & today’s youth just don’t care about whether people are gay or not. I intentionally leave my sexuality, religious, & political beliefs outside my classroom door yet everybody around me knows I’m obviously gay…and they just don’t care. What’s SO cool is to watch a young man or woman as they struggle to find their place in life, being open and loudly exhibiting their emotional struggle with their peers who, 9 times out of 10, encourage them to follow their truth.

    If I could, I would buy a book and mail it to my Brother in Christ, Steve Long. The book is called “Is The Homosexual My Neighbor.” Two authors; one gay and the other straight – I wish that this book were read by every minister because the authors really struggle through the typical scriptures regarding homosexuality.

    Philip Smallwood

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    1. Hello Phillip thank you for adding to the debate.

      I believe in the ultimate authority of scripture; that in it’s original form it is without error. In addition, I believe what God says in the Bible isn’t something that is changed from generation to generation. In fact, I don’t believe a person can change the meaning of scripture from one cultural fad to another. In summary, there are no new revelations, only new understanding. If however we agree the Word of God is the absolute, inearant truth, then we can debate the merits of it’s teachings.

      However, if you come from a position that the Bible has some really good things to say, but that the culturally insensitive parts need to be re-interpreted, there is no debate. You make an interesting reference in your post about students finding “their truth.” That statement would assume you believe (or student’s believe) there is no absolute truth. We are worlds apart if that’s the case.

      Homosexuality isn’t new. It’s been around since the beginning of mankind. God’s word on homosexuality isn’t new… He’s made it very clear what he thinks about it both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Theologians out of the mainstream don’t get the luxury to re-interpret what 95 – 98% of Theologians understand for the past 5000+ years. Instead of relying the Holy Spirit to “teach men all truth,” pastors, teachers, and theologians are too busy trying to come up with their own spin on “Truth” in order to sell books, etc. Not all mind you…

      I have two seminary degrees and while I like to read what others’ think, I really don’t need a book to read on how to interpret original Hebrew and Greek. I can literally just pick up my Hebrew/Greek Lexicon and read. However I do appreciate the offer and the heart in which you recommend it. I believe we can have an ethical and moral debate without anger and I appreciate what i read as a tone of respect and love in your writings. I too have that same respect and love for you.

      I realize this subject matter is very emotional and hotly debated in society. And you’re right that one day America will probably grant all the rights to the GLBT community like other Americans. But please don’t take offense when I or thousands of others preach against the sin of Homosexuality. It is not because we “hate” homosexuals, but rather we love them enough to confront the lifestyle… even if we pastors are chastised as “intolerant,” or “sexist,” or worst yet, “propagating hate speech.” That is where this argument will eventually end. One day, America will pass a law that forbids me to teach the whole counsel of God on the matter. And when they do, I will be the first to preach the whole counsel, be fined and or arrested, then ride it up to the Supreme Court… 🙂

      I love watching how God transforms a person who truly wants to be set free. It’s just as powerful as when God transforms somebody who’s struggling with adultery, abuse, lying, etc. In God’s eye, all sin breaks His heart and He wants to set every person free. If God can change one of my siblings and give that person victory, He can do the same for any one who truly wants to be free. As a point of reference, we have many gay and lesbian people attending our church – in fact many of them have commented how they feel accepted and loved just as they are. There are some who are struggling to break out of abusive relationships, others who have overcome the struggle itself. Still others who don’t feel the need to even separate. Now, we don’t hold back talking about what the Word of God says, nor do we condemn or hate people in the lifestyle.

      In any event, I appreciate you posting your opinions and standing up for what you believe Philip. I think it’s cool that we can even talk about such issues and not worry about living in a place like Iran where both you and i would be killed for our lifestyle or profession. Be blessed my friend and enjoy your weekend.

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  9. The real issue that very few have touched on and that needs to be addressed is: how do we reach these people and let them know they are loved? Jesus came for people, they were and always will be His priority. We can yammer about doctrine and debate our orthodoxy, yet these precious people die while we do nothing. I believe in the inerrancy of scripture but I know if I stand on the Word while God’s most marvelous creation, made in His image, perishes, I am an accessory to the crime.

    And no, I don’t have all the answers. Just more questions.

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    1. How do we reach them? First of all, those advancing and embracing this agenda don’t believe they need to be “reached.” Paul says in Romans this is what happens to a mind… it gets handed over to a depraved state. Until the power of the Holy Spirit invades a person’s thought process, they cannot be set free. The first point in any recovery program (and I’m not referring gays/lesbians to recovering addicts) is to admit that you have a problem. Therein lies the problem… many who perpetuate this do not believe they have a problem. In fact, they believe “we” have the problem for not accepting their sinful lifestyle. So how does any one reach any person caught in sin? First of all, nobody does the reaching. We are merely called to cast seed, water, and pray for the harvest. Only the Lord Jesus Christ causes all things to grow. So like any other person caught in the lie and trap of sin, the Holy Spirit must break that lie in order to save them. We should befriend, love, encourage, plead, pray, and even serve people in the GLBT community. We don’t preach hate we preach love. Love says I care enough about your future as much as your present; even if it means putting the relationship on the line. If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t care about your future. But people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. I would say: 1) relationship/friendship 2) serving 3) love. This is how God has called us to reach any person trapped in sin… not just those in the GLBT community.

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  10. As an addenda to my previous posting I offer the following thoughts.

    My previous comments have more to do with what is happening in our nation wrt codifying sin into ordinance, celebrating it and it’s eventual consequences.

    I believe Jesus deals with individuals and nations separately. Judgment of nations happens through time and history as well as a final judgment at the end of time. It has always been this way and until Jesus returns, it will continue to be this way. Judgement has come and will come to this country in many ways. We all know this.

    Jesus said His Father judges no one but that all judgement has been entrusted to the son. As individual believers, we will all appear before the judgement seat of Christ where the issue is reward or lack of reward NOT sin. Sin has been dealt with once for all.

    The Lord has given us instructions for dealing with those who practice sinful behaviors as a means of discipline and correction. I think we’d all agree the Church is really bad at this. What needs to be distinguished , I believe, is this.

    We are NOT our behavior. What we do is not who we are.

    We tend to get tripped up in the same way our progenitors did. We think we derive our identity by our choices, by our actions, by our behavior or the results of them. Satan tricked Eve into thinking there was something she could DO to BE… like God, forgetting that she was made in His likeness and image… she identity was locked in… she was already like him. Satan lied to her about her identity and confused her about where her identity was derived. In one fell swoop all of mankind has been living from the wrong tree ever since. The tree of our choosing… we decide what is good or bad, right or wrong, moral or immoral, rather than living off of the tree of LIFE… Jesus Christ himself!

    How tragic would it have been for us had Jesus paid the penalty for our sin and then returned to his Father’s side to wait for us to join him one day. Saved from the penalty of sin but left to our own resources to live out our lives; a time to roll up our sleeves and show him how much we love him; bound for heaven one day but hopelessly inadequate for earth.

    “If while we were enemies we WERE reconciled to God through the death of his dear son… how much more, having been reconciled, are we being saved… in an ongoing way… by His life!!!”

    This, of course, is the good news of the gospel. We have the spirit of the indwelling Jesus Christ within us making himself available to us as the source of our very life moment by moment. The very life he lived 2000 years ago, a life utterly dependent upon his Father, for he said he could do nothing of his own initiative; is the same life that can be lived now, by him, in us.

    This is the genius of the Gospel and why we all need to be born again, to get new identities. Try getting a passport by furnishing your diplomas or certificates of achievement or membership cards to any group our organization. They want to see your birth certificate, why? because they want proof of WHO you are not WHAT you do or HOW you behave.

    All born again believers live in one of two ways. At any given moment we are living from our own resources, our own techniques for getting our needs met OR we are living from the spirit of the indwelling Jesus. There is no 3rd option. We either walk in the flesh as evidenced by it’s deeds or we walk in the spirit with it’s proof.

    Our flesh patterns, however, do not define who we are. They’re just flesh patterns. Some of us have religious flesh patterns that can look pretty good (Prodigal son’s older brother) others have more carnal flesh patterns and look pretty gnarly (Prodigal son). The world says we are defined by our abilities, actions, appetites, achievement… what we do; but that’s not who our gracious Father says we are or where our identity is derived. He say’s I’m a new creature, I’m a partaker of his very nature, holy, righteous, sanctified, seated in heavenly places, in Christ. That’s who I am… and by extension, I am NOT my actions, behaviors etc. My identity is seated in the actions and behaviors of Jesus Christ.

    Our true identity is who we are in our Spirits not our souls or our bodies. We are spirits that have personalities (souls) who live in bodies. Our true self is who we are in our spirits. (Romans 8:9).

    We all struggle with indwelling sin, however, and that is reality. We feel lousy when we sin because we are behaving in a way that is not consistent with WHO we are. We have indwelling sin in us but it is NOT who we are.

    My belief is that once we begin to get revelation from the Holy Spirit about WHO we are, our behavior begins to change permanently.

    Paul says that if we live from the indwelling spirit of Jesus we won’t carry out the deeds of the flesh (Gal 5:16) Our adversary likes to scramble that and we read it backwards…. if we cease from certain behaviors we will be walking in his spirit. That’s not what it says. If we live from the only source of true life our old behaviors will fall away… it may take time… but it is his word and I believe it.

    I believe I am who He says I am. I reject the lie that my flesh pattern is who I am.

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  11. Thank you for quoting me. Let’s continue your line of argument. You say my comment comparing the acceptance of the gay agenda and a pedophile lifestyle is off base? Really? Tell that to our grandfathers who never spoke of such things publicly. In 10 – 20 years, we’ll be having this same discussion for pedophiles. Now, am I comparing gay people to pedophiles? By no means! And to suggest that I was is a MAJOR stretch of my post. I was simply using your argument against you… because if your argument is okay for the GLBT community, why isn’t it okay for Pedophiles? Finally, you’ve stated your position about the Word of God when you said, “Musty two-millinia-old set of writings” and this phrase… “use your heads…not your Bibles.” Very sad Brian… you have abandoned the faith my friend and now are defending a lifestyle that God can neither accept nor condone. Plead all you want, cry all you want, your argument is not against us pastors and teachers of the Word of God… your argument is against God. Last time I checked, you cannot “reason” yourself to be smarter than the Lord. I do applaud you for taking a stance for your belief. At least it shows that you have enough conviction to stand up for what you believe.

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    1. @Steven – I’m not sure I agree with your tone, but I do think you ask some appropriate questions about Brian’s take on Scripture. Brian, it’s been a while since we hashed this stuff out. How do you currently understand the nature of Scriptural authority? Or another way to ask this question: If you wanted to critique a particular strand of contemporary ethical norms, on what basis would you do so? Let’s say you lived in the 1840’s, during our war against Mexico, during our genocide against the Indians, and during our enslavement of blacks. All of these things were as broadly popular at the time as they were immoral. If Christians want to critique contemporary social norms, and if the Bible isn’t authoritative, on what basis can we do so?

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    2. Also – people in the GLBT, would have you believe they were: 1) born that way, 2) wasn’t a choice 3) had DNA inside that made them that way, etc. The argument goes, ‘I am not responsible for who I am therefore I should be accepted as I am.’ That would be the same line of argument a liar could use, a pimp, a drug addict who was addicted because their mother was an addict, and the list goes on. Essentially the argument says, “It’s not my fault therefore God won’t hold me accountable. And because it’s not my fault, therefore it’s not a sin.” The reality is, the Bible is crystal clear that homosexuality is 1) unnatural, 2) not God’s intended order, 3) sinful, and 4) something that will ultimately separate a person from God. This is true of any “sin.” It’s one thing to be a sinner and then be saved by grace… to fight against such urges and live “in Christ” and under the Spirit’s control. It’s an entirely different thing to say, “I was born this way therefore I’m not responsible and God loves me just the way that I am. Therefore He must accept me.” Please show me in the Bible where God and Jesus have less than a literal disgust for sin? You cannot produce one scripture. In addition, I can produce many scripture passages that show what I’ve outlined above. Your choice to rebel against His written Word… that’s “your right.” But then be man and woman enough to accept the consequences of not only defending but advancing the agenda and sin. Reason won’t solve the debate… healing will.

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      1. It’s not just folks in the GLBT community who believe that they were “born that way”. I think there’s a great deal of both anecdotal and scientific evidence that direction. I find the idea of an inborn predisposition quite plausible, if only because I can no more imagine myself tempted to that particular sin than I could imagine myself being tempted to eat raw slugs. Folks who are tempted that direction are made of different stuff than I am.

        That said, I agree with your underlying critique, that “I was born this way” is entirely irrelevant to a discussion about the morality of a certain kind of behavior.

        But I would disagree with the tone of your last point, Steven. You ask: “Please show me in the Bible where God and Jesus have less than a literal disgust for sin.” I very much believe that Jesus would have agreed with you that homosexuality was a sin (he was a reasonably orthodox first-century Jew, after all). But I don’t think the existing evidence shows that he would have shown a great deal of disgust towards its practitioners. The evidence at hand, quite to the contrary, indicates that Jesus would have gone rather out of his way to welcome and love those subject to this particular temptation. Of course, he wouldn’t have excused their actions: “Go and sin no more” is canonical, and perhaps even historical. But so is, “Neither do I condemn thee.”

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      2. Jesus also said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34-36 (NASB). Sorry folks, Jesus wasn’t a California radical hippy with a beautiful face, long hair, glowing halo over his head, kind of God. And He didn’t come to make every one love each other. He came to save humanity and to call to Himself those who will be saved. He isn’t some feminized “guy” the media or so-called intellectuals would have you believe. And He didn’t come skipping in the tulips or handing out rose petals. He died for our sins… and every time we advance and embrace sin, we are nailing Him on the cross one more time. Am I trying to please man or God? Offensive or not the truth cuts quick to the heart.

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  12. Brian: Loved your post, but what is the “sin of homosexuality?” Homosexuality is an identity associated with a person’s sexual orientation. So it isn’t really associated with a particular behavior. I always wonder what people mean by the terms “sin of homosexuality” or “homosexual lifestyle.”

    I don’t really identify myself by my sins. For example, I don’t say I’m a middle-aged white female glutton complainer. If I were a lesbian, I suppose that gluttony and complaining would be “sins of homosexuality” since I would be a homosexual and those would still be the sins I would battle against. I would be miffed by anyone who suggested that my sexual orientation would put me in a separate category spiritually and would automatically define my sin.

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    1. As a middle-aged white male glutton complainer, I thank you for your post, Cindy!

      One reason “homosexual lifestyle” pops up a lot: it enhances the credibility of the argument that a gay person has made a choice about their sexuality. Similarly, “Sin of homosexuality” marks it again as a sin, and thus a “choice”–you *choose* to sin, therefore you can, and should conquer that sin (especially if you’re gay). If you don’t buy that line of thinking, you haven’t even agreed on the question, and anything the other party says can be refuted. Essentially, you’re using two different meanings for the word “gay”.

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  13. I agree with you, Brian. My experiences bear out the truth of what you’re saying. And to those against polygamy, the Bible is way more clear in supporting that than it is in condemning homosexuality.

    Bestiality? You can’t have a consenting animal. There is no way for them to communicate consent. Adult relatives marrying? That’s in the Bible too.

    I swear to God that I feel like Huck Finn damning himself to hell for going against Scripture by not returning N-word Jim to his rightful owners. I cannot go against my conscience and against people that I love and say that there is “no such thing as gay”, or that God created gay people, but doesn’t want them to express the sexuality he gave them. He gave me my sexual orientation, too, and I get to express it. Why not what he gave to my brothers and sisters?

    There is an ass-load of stuff in the Old Testament that we dismiss as “under the law”, and the main portion in question in the New Testament is referring to lust, which is a sin for anyone.

    If you WANT the Bible to say homosexuality is a sin, you can choose to interpret a paucity of verses in a particular light. But that, my friend, is a choice.

    And if you say I’m wrong? Well then, I’ll GO to hell.

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    1. Nah, nobody’s talking about going to hell. Or if they are, heterosexuals are at least as likely as anyone else. And as an old theology prof of mine used to say, “Nobody is saved by the correctness of their theology.”

      I really would like to buy the idea you propose, that I can live under the authority of Scripture, but still believe homosexual behavior to be innocuous. It would make life much easier for me conceptually, since it would let me buy into our society’s reigning ethical theory, that anything that doesn’t hurt someone else physically is permissible. Going against that prevailing set of ethical norms without descending into fundamentalism is costly and difficult.

      Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to justify the idea your propose. It’s certainly not a choice, and it’s a great deal more than just a few Bible verses here or there: it’s the entirety of the various Biblical perspectives on human sexuality that weighs on me. But beyond that, it’s the unanimous perspective of the Christian tradition, and the all-but-unanimous perspective of the contemporary Church (a few declining Western denominations aside). I simply don’t see how I can remain an orthodox Christian and believe that homosexual behavior isn’t spiritually damaging in some fashion. (Of course, I also think that divorce or adultery is just as much a violation of our creational norms, and perhaps even more damaging spiritually: and I’m saying this as someone who has been divorced, so I’m not arguing for any special heterosexual exemption here.)

      And of course, it’s critical to distinguish between “homosexual orientation” and “homosexual behavior”. I admit that having a homosexual orientation would be a sore trial and a heavy cross to bear. It seems to me very much like being trapped in a horrible marriage, or being genetically inclined to alcoholism or schizophrenia. I’m not saying that gays or lesbians have it easy. I’m thankful I have not been called to bear that cross, and folks who have deserve our sympathy and compassion. But I would be less than honest with myself if I tried to understand or express it as anything less than a cross.

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  14. After re-reading the responses to his original blog on another site, I re-read Brian’s blog. His general premise was “don’t hate them” and give everyone “ the same rights and dignity as everyone else in American society”. How does doing this go against a message of God’s love and redemption? Adulterers, porn addicts, divorced people, lusters, (along with alcoholics and fat people) get those “rights and dignity”. Why is someone choosing to love the opposite sex a Christian exclusion? If “gayness” is a sin, why is it not treated equal to other sins and why don’t we treat all “sinners” equally? What if these people actually did get a document from the government saying they were equal to the other “sinners”, does that is anyway make my vows under God, to my wife, any less sacred? (These aren’t rhetorical questions, I am actually wanting to get thought-filled answers).

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  15. James Moriarty Jesus died so that heterosexual and homosexual sinners might be saved. Jesus created sexuality, and has a clear will for how it is to be experienced in holiness and joy.

    His will is that a man might leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and that the two become one flesh (Mark 10:6-9). In this union, sexuality finds its God-appointed meaning, whether in personal-physical unification, symbolic representation, sensual jubilation, or fruitful procreation.

    For those who have forsaken God’s path of sexual fulfillment, and walked into homosexual intercourse or heterosexual extramarital fornication or adultery, Jesus offers astonishing mercy.

    Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).

    This salvation from sinful sexual acts was not what we as a society embrace. Instead we celebrate sin.

    The Bible is not silent about such parades. Alongside its clearest explanation of the sin of homosexual intercourse (Romans 1:24-27) stands the indictment of the celebration of it. Though people know intuitively that homosexual acts (along with gossip, slander, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness) are sin, “they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32). “I tell you even with tears, that many glory in their shame” (Philippians 3:18–19).

    This is what we are doing… knowing these deeds are wrong, “yet approving those who practice them.”

    Not only that, we are moving from celebration to institutionalization or codifying sin into ordinance. On June 24 the New York legislature approved a Marriage Equality Act. This makes New York the sixth state where so-called homosexual marriages will be institutionalized: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, (and the District of Columbia).

    To me, like abortion and other “ordinances” this is a clear example of becoming friendly or at peace with iniquity (Genesis 15:16). The meaning of “iniquity of the Amorites was not full or complete” is seen in the hebrew word “Shalem” usually translated as “full” but is better understood as “friendly or at peace”. Furthermore, the Israelites were warned to not walk in the ordinances of the Canaanites of whom the Amorites were named. My sense is that we do not realize what a calamity is happening around us. The new thing—new for America, and new for history—is not homosexuality. That brokenness has been here since we were all broken in the fall of man. (And there is a great distinction between the orientation and the act—just like there is a great difference between my orientation to pride and the act of boasting.)

    What’s new is not even the celebration of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and reveled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity.

    My main reason for writing is not to mount a political counter-assault. I don’t think that is the calling of the church as such. My reason for writing is to express the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man.

    Christians, more clearly than others, can see the tidal wave of pain that is on the way. Sin carries in it its own misery: “Men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:27).

    And on top of sin’s self-destructive power comes, eventually, the wrath of God: “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6).

    Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions—they are all troubled because of our sins.

    The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them or make ordinances for them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

    And in our best moments, we weep for the world. In the days of Ezekiel God put a mark of hope “on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in Jerusalem” (Ezekiel 9:4).

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  16. Hi Brian,

    As you requested, I’ll re-post my Facebook response to this blog here. And thanks again for your graciousness in being open to it.

    OK, I‘ll take the bait. I will not tell you what my stance on homosexuality is because what I have to say doesn’t depend on that. And whichever side I identify with (or somewhere in the middle), on such an incendiary topic as this one, pre-identification gets me written off by half the room before I even get started.

    First, let me say I’m glad you posted what you did. It was passionately and eloquently stated. But you hurt your argument immeasurably by making several outrageous assumptions. So here goes…

    DO NOT ASSUME that if someone disagrees with your post they are living “unexamined lives”, (this was in your FB intro to the blog) thereby implying that only you or those who hold your views on the subject are the enlightened ones. I know very smart, thoughtful, compassionate people on both sides of this. (And no, the “other side” does NOT include roving gangs of gay-bashers. More on that later).

    DO NOT ASSUME that everyone who interprets homosexuality to be a sin based on biblical passages is against equal rights for LGBT people. Thinking lustful thoughts (yes, even straight ones) is also listed as a sin, but no one is calling for a loss of civil rights for horny teenagers.

    DO NOT ASSUME that people who interpret the Bible conservatively have anything but heartache and compassion for the people in the photos you posted. As with the horrific torture and murder of Matthew Shepard, Christians were blamed for the attitudes that led to that heinous act, only to find out that the perpetrators were a couple of hooligans with no church background whatsoever. (of course)

    DO NOT ASSUME that your alma mater, or those associated with it haven’t grown in their approach to ministering to people with HIV/AIDS since 1988. I guarantee there are MANY Bethany alumni working to alleviate HIV/AIDS suffering right now. 23 years is a long time. You’re not the only person who’s moved beyond a lot of things a lot more significant that using “minister” as a verb.

    DO NOT ASSUME that everyone who disagrees with your stance on this automatically agrees with a false moral equivalence between (consensual) homosexuality and (always non-consensual) pedophilia.

    DO NOT ASSUME that your use of terms like “goat-f*****r” will advance your argument. There are a LOT of people who will read your intelligent, passionate arguments only to be lost to any further persuasion at that point.

    DO NOT ASSUME that anyone reading your post would want to be, or is in any way associated with “a group of people who did (the photo you posted) to Damian Furtch” simply because they disagree with you. Life is not so simplistic as to think people have to pick between “gay is not a sin” on one side and “let’s beat the living crap out of them” on the other. Come on, Brian, you’re too smart not to recognize that.

    DO NOT ASSUME that the Bible, when properly interpreted (as OUR alma mater taught us to do very well) is just a “musty two-millenium-old set of writings.”

    DO NOT ASSUME that the Bible has EVER incited anyone to perpetrate any of the violent acts you have passionately and correctly condemned. Yes, crazy people have proof-texted the Bible to justify horrific acts. But the Bible wasn’t any more responsible for those acts than the neighborhood dog was responsible for David Berkowitz when it “told him” to go on the Son of Sam killing spree in the 1970s. Crazy is crazy. Evil is evil. The Bible stands today, and has stood for over two millennia and counting, against any such treatment of our fellow human beings – ALL of whom are made in God’s image. And there’s nothing musty about that.

    And finally,

    DO NOT ASSUME that people who use the Bible aren’t using their heads – and hearts – as well.

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    1. FYI – I wasn’t making a “false moral equivalence” between homosexuality and pedophilia. I was taking his logic out further than our society socially accepts today. Point being – where does his logic end? It doesn’t…

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      1. Steven, I hadn’t read your post when I wrote mine, so that reference wasn’t directed at you. I know that’s not always easy to tell in blogs. When I do refer to someone else’s opinion directly, it’ll be obvious, cuz I’ll cite them.

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    2. Good comments, Karl. I get the impression that Brian was responding to some rather harsh statements on the Bethany Alumni Facebook forums, and I can sympathize with Brian’s anger, if not precisely with the details of his arguments. His passion and compassion, in other words, is more convincing to me than his moral philosophy. I should note that I’m in exactly the opposite position with Steven Long: I generally agree with his arguments, but I’m in less sympathy with the spirit in which they’ve so far been delivered. But perhaps that’s merely a cultural thing on my part.

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  17. From probably the most conservative reader you have- well done Brian!!!! Well said. I recently saw a bumper sticker that said “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians. They’re nothing like your Christ.” It is so true!!! Far too many self-proclaimed “Christians” are nothing like Christ.
    I count myself a Christian. I try to follow Christ in all I do (and I’m the 1st to admit I am far, far from perfect in it!!!). That includes believing in a “musty 2-millennium-old set of writings”. I believe living a homosexual life-style is a sin. That’s *my* belief, I have a right to it and I will never push it on someone else. I also believe that people are born with attractions whether hetero- or homosexual. Acting on one’s attractions is a choice. I’ve chosen to act on my attractions to men. Everyone else has to make their own choices.
    I have a brother-in-law and a step-son who are gay and choose to act on their attractions. I love them and accept them the way they are. I don’t agree with their choices at all. They know that and they accept me as I am as well. They are always welcome in our lives if they choose. I have worked with and associated with quite a few LGB people. I have never had anyone try to push their choices on me although I’ve had a few women hit on me in my younger days. 🙂 Flattering but I’m just not interested. That’s my choice. I don’t think anything less of them and I didn’t avoid them or anything like that.
    I choose to look past the fact of people’s sexual choices and look at their hearts and intents. Are they good people? Are they good citizens? Are they obeying the laws? Are they productive citizens? Do they try to be kind to others? Those are some of the questions that are important to me. Sexual orientation is far, far, far down the list!!!
    Thank you, Brian, for being willing to be controversial. 🙂 And I hope my comments are clearly enough written. So many thoughts running through my head sometimes leads to jumbled writing!

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  18. You have no idea how proud I am to be married to you right now! I know how hard it is for you to “be controversial”, and am proud of you for putting this out there. Or, should I say “Loud and Proud”? 🙂
    Love you

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  19. Well done. The other bashing is when one bashes oneself because they have same sex attractions. This is why gay kids and adults kill themselves because the pain of being who they were born is too difficult to bear in an unloving “Christian” society. We must love one another whether we are religious or not, love thy neighbor as thyself and do unto others as you would have them do unto you are the way we should all live.

    I am finally a happy Lesbian Christian and that took over forty years to do.

    Love your guts Brian!

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  20. Either LGBT or GLBT is correct (or any other configuration for that matter.)

    I would like to say to all of those out there that keep harping that being Gay is an abomination – you better never eat any kind of pork or shellfish of any kind or break any of the other “abominations” in Leviticus.

    For a group of people who are advised to love their neighbor as themselves, Christians have so much hate in their hearts.

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  21. The traditional Christian response is, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” For all its hackneyed associations, I think that’s a wise response. But its wisdom lies precisely in the fact that it’s harder to do than it sounds, and not just for conservative Christians. If we think the sin is really bad (e.g., beating up someone because they’re gay), it’s hard for us to love the sinner. Conversely, if we actually find ourselves loving the sinner (e.g., our gay friends), we can usually find a way to convince ourselves that the sin isn’t that bad. Actually loving the sinner, and hating the sin, is harder to do, and is therefore a much better response, than it sounds.

    On a side note, and for what it’s worth, I do buy the slippery slope argument. Look at the reasoning behind this article (http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/pornography/index.html?story=/mwt/feature/2010/05/20/twincest), and you may get a glimpse of what I mean. But I’m not so naive as to believe that our society is simply and straightforwardly getting worse and worse, as some conservative commentators would have us believe. Rather, as fallen human beings who are nevertheless made in the image of God, I think that any given human society can only get a small number of things right at a time. We’ve managed to mostly fix some of the sins that have plagued our society for generations (slavery and racism, for instance), but because we can only juggle so many aspects of morality at once, we’ve dropped others. Our current moral logic says, in effect, “An it harm none, do what ye will.” And by that logic, I can see no particular bar to polygamy (see http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2011/07/12/kody_brown_of_sister_wives_is_challenging_utah_polygamy_law.html, for starters), adult incest, or even bestiality. If you don’t want those things, you’ve got to start from a different set of moral principles.

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