Thursday, July 14, 2011

Not Being a Herd Animal

Aristotle once wrote that 'All persons ought to endeavor to follow what is right, and not what is established.' This means questioning what society merely assumes, and daring to come up with different answers. Does your province or state think the death penalty is a good thing? If you go along with them and never ask what makes a human life significant, you're just a sheep, an unthinking human herd animal, for going blindly with the mob. Do your friends, professors, or parents think prostitution, polygamy, incest, or child brides are a bad thing? It's worth mulling over what makes one sexual option better or worse than another in terms of morality. And if you think all of these are bad, but you think gay marriage is okay, it's worth wondering why you think homosexuality is better than polygamy and child brides - especially because in places like Nigeria, polygamy and child marriage is practiced while gay marriage is seen as a bad thing, and it's worth having an answer for why North American sexual ethics should be accepted while Nigerian ethics should not.

My point is that we've all got these cultural assumptions that we feel everybody else should share; from the person who thinks you're intolerant for not accepting homosexuality (but is also strangely intolerant towards other sexual options, like Ontarian prostitution), to the Conservative/Republican who denounces anyone that doesn't share their philosophy on how the prison system should work, to small-town religious figures who take strong stances against those who differ with their views of science and philosophy, everyone seems to think they're right but no one wants to explain why.

Case of Isaiah vs. The Herd

In Isaiah 8.11, Isaiah Ben-Amos wrote, 'Yahweh spoke to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people'. At the time Israel was full of lavish waste, characterized by a lack of sexual morals (they might have said 'sexual liberation'), swamped in idolatry, and bloated with greed. And God's command to Isaiah was to not follow the herd. To not become a sheep. To be called arrogant, intolerant, regressed. To be hated. To eventually -according to tradition- be murdered by being sawed in two from top to bottom with a wooden saw. Before we go on we need to stop and think about Isaiah's words. As Christians, we follow God, and God has commanded His people not to get swept up into the cultural quicksands but to follow Him and do what is right. In terms of culture, it's an exact forerunner to Aristotle's words quoted above.

Question Why You Question Authority

Also, don't get too far down the road protest thinking. Sometimes the culture is right. Maybe you won't be a herd animal by reacting against every cultural norm, but (and I hate to say it like this) you'll still be just as stupid. It's not enough to question authority. You've got to question why you question authority. Cross-examine all of your most deeply held beliefs and see what remains when the rubble clears. If you think there is no God, look at the underlying assumptions and see how strong those are. Or if you believe Jesus died for our sins and rose on the third day, maybe go back and try to figure out why you believe in that and not Atheism or Islam. Don't use emotionally-based arguments like 'I could never worship a mean sounding god like Allah' or 'a world without God would just feel so meaningless' either. Really take a logic-based, rational approach here.

The Sexuality/Gender Example

Before I deleted most of his comments, an anonymous poster replied to my last article the other day and was looking for a fight on the issue of homosexuality. The thing is, while he kept throwing prepositions like 'intolerant', 'ignorant', 'bigoted', 'biased', and 'homophobic' out at anyone who wouldn't happily endorse the LGBT lifestyle, he couldn't for the life of him explain why he thought the gay lifestyle was okay. His whole attitude was, 'I can't or won't explain the reasons for endorsing this, but you're ignorant if you don't fall in line.' That's classic herd thinking - 'just shut up and say, "baah."' There's no reason, it's just, 'this is the way it is.' It just is. And that's supposed to be good enough. But Christians can be sheep on this issue too: they can shout up and down about how homosexuality is evil and demon inspired, but they never stop to ask why that's the case (if it is the case). I know the assumptions that I have which lead me to believe that the gay lifestyle is wrong - do you? Can you explain why incest, polygamy, child marriage, prostitution, homosexuality, pornography, and heterosexuality are all different and why some of these should be allowed while others shouldn't? Christians at least can make sure that their belief in the Bible is reasonable and then work into issues of sexuality from there, but especially for the non-religious, it's worth asking why you believe certain things about sexual ethics and demand others see things the same way.

Think Outside the Herd

Whether you're a North American questioning social norms, to a conservative Christian who believes in evolution, I salute you. The world's cultures are one big box, and it's good for us to get outside of them for a bit, to question and probe what they stand for and value, and to go back in as more resolute and changed people. Philosophers and Prophets (Aristotle and Isaiah, respectively) have told us not to become part of the herd. By continually questioning our most deeply held assumptions, we can do this. Even if we come back more traditional and institutionalized, as I feel I sometimes have, we will be freer and more thoughtful people for having gone through the experience and having not settled for weak or dubious answers. Always question your underlying assumptions, and ask your friends to do it too.



  1. Can I post a comment here or will it be deleted after we get 1/2 way through a good conversation??

  2. I think that would fair; after all, part of this post IS a reply to some of the things that were said the other day under the I Don't Believe In Agnostics post. The one condition I would make is that you don't use the 'Anonymous' option when posting. Use the Name/URL option. The anonymous nature of commenting on blogs really makes, or can make, for an unhealthy conversational atmosphere.

  3. So do you stand by your statement that if you had a son that wanted to date a boy you would force him to stay away from him? Or did you delete that comment because you want to retract that statement?

  4. I still stick with that. For a lot of reasons. We all have desires that don't mesh with Christian sexual ethics, but for a variety of reasons not all of us give expression to them. So it's worth taking a time out to go over what makes him -at the tender age of 16 or 17- decide that this is just the way he is and that he's going to live that out. And it's not as if I haven't dealt with similar situations: I bring, what, maybe four kids out to church on a good week. I'd say 3/4 of them struggle with their sexual identity. Of course we all wrestle through that with them together.

    But to the main point (at least it's the main point for me): What we believe about sex is super culturally conditioned. The rules on what's right, what's wrong, etc. are different with almost every human civilization, with some cultures including some options that you're clearly not comfortable with either. How do you know that what you believe about sexuality is right? What assumptions are your beliefs based on?

    By the way, 'Nicole' is a nice name. Even if it's not your actual one, I like it. Good to be able to call you something other than 'Anonymous'.


  5. So you would forbid your 17 year old son from dating a boy, but you'd let your 17 year old daughter date a boy. How is that anything less than discriminatory and unfair?

    Just because they are dating doesnt mean they would be having sex.

    Isnt the risk of your dauther dating a boy and having sex with her boyfriend just as high as your son dating a boy and having sex with his boyfriend?

    Isnt premarital sex just as wrong as homosexuality?

    If you're banning your son from dating a boy to prevent "sinful" sex acts, then shouldnt you ban your daugther from dating a boy for the same reason???

  6. Just because they are dating doesn't mean they would be having sex.

    That's just the thing, though. If he's willing to ignore Christian principles regarding homosexuality, what's stopping him from having sex with the other boy? Not much. Once you move past a certain point it's a whole world of possibilities. Not saying that everyone who isn't a Christian is having sex indiscriminately all the time, just saying without faith in Jesus there's really no reason not to. I mean, no reason besides STD's and pregnancy. And that didn't stop many of my friends in high school.

    Isn't premarital sex just as wrong as homosexuality?

    Yeah. I don't want to single out homosexuality as the only thing, it's wrapped up in whole larger issues of marriage and family too. We could put it in there with premarital sex, divorce (except in cases of abuse, abandonment, or adultery), whatever else.

    If you're banning your son from dating a boy to prevent "sinful" sex acts, then shouldnt you ban your daugther from dating a boy for the same reason???

    I'll bet almost every father has wanted to say yes to that question - "You can't date until you're 35." But the truth is I'd rather still be in the role of guardian and father when she starts dating. If it weren't so early in the morning I'm sure there's some shot-gun related joke I could make, but insert your own here.


    Have you got an answer to my question? I think it's really important to the conversation, but if you don't know how to answer it or you're working your way up to answering it, that's okay too. But at some point we need to go there.

  7. I wont pretend to have all the answers, but I think a good rule of thumb is that victimless crimes are no crimes at all.

    And one thing I do know is that people dont choose to be gay. It is so sad to me that you are advising young peple who are LGBT, because you dont realize that what you tell them is hurtful and damaging. LBGT teens grow up fearing their family and friends will reject them, and here you are telling them even God rejects them unless they hate the way they are and try to change, which most mainstream psychologists say is not possible. The suicide rate for gay teens is almost 5 times as high as for straight kids, and its for two reasons: 1) Bulling and rejection and 2) Wicked teachings from the church

    The only people in society that still think being gay is a choice are the hardcore religous folk that refuse to look at the evidence and science because it would cause them to question their religious beliefs.

    Have you eve wondered, "what if I am wrong on this? What if i am interpreting this issue incorrectly and preaching damaging things to these kids"??

  8. I wont pretend to have all the answers, but I think a good rule of thumb is that victimless crimes are no crimes at all.

    For starters, that rule of thumb is straight wrong. I may speed in my car 20 miles over the posted speed limit, it affects no one outside the walls of my car, and yet this is a crime, even if it is "victimless".

    As for your assertion that we "religious folk refuse to look at the evidence and science because it would cause them to question their religious beliefs" is total bull. I want to use an example I heard of recently, and you can look this up on YouTube. Pastor Rick Warren (Saddleback Church, Cali.) gave an interview to Ann Curry on NBC regarding homosexuality. I'm paraphrasing here, but she asked him if science could prove that homosexuality was indeed not a choice, but a preferred condition, does that still make it wrong or sinful? Warren's response was "Yes, it is still sinful." Curry goes off on him and he calmly responds with, "That is like saying because I'm a man I am inclined to sleep with every beautiful woman that I meet. That's my condition. But that doesn't make it right." I use that illustration because as believers in Christ and in the authority of God's Word we are sticking to our guns regarding homosexuality. That doesn't mean that we are compassion-less or heartless towards those who live in that lifestyle, but it also means we preach the Gospel to them in order that Christ may heal them from their lifestyle.

  9. See Ryan, the problem with what you said is "but it also means we preach the Gospel to them in order that Christ may heal them from their lifestyle."

    There is no concrete proof that you can be "healed" of homosexuality and go from gay to straight. In fact, every mainstream psychological group in the Western world would dispute your claim that homosexuality is a sickness from which you can be "healed."

    These are wicked, wicked things you are preaching, with no basis in reality.

    Even Rick Warren would not say he has been "healed" of wanting to sleep with women.

    Its one thing to hold onto a personal bias against homosexuality and never engage in it yourself. But its a WHOLE different thing when you take your bias and preach these wicked lies to LGBT youth that they need to be "healed" from being gay.

  10. @Nicole and Ryan:

    I think we're all getting stuck on the word 'lifestyle'. Nicole is reacting and saying 'homosexuality is not a choice,' and we're using the word lifestyle to mean something different than the orientation itself. No one here believes that having a homosexual orientation is a choice.

  11. You both sure make it sound like its a choice when you say "If he's willing to ignore Christian principles regarding homosexuality, what's stopping him from having sex with the other boy?"

    Its not a matter of choosing to "ignore" or comply with some set of rules, because its simply not a choice.

    And its definitely something you cannot be "cured" of. And why would you want to? Love is a beautiful thing.

    LGBT teens who fall into the trap of believing the wicked lies they hear at church live their whole lives struggling between accepting themselves as they were created and the torment of not understanding why Christ never "cured" them as they were told. Of course, its not something that can be "cured" or reversed. But they bought into the belief that it could, and will live lives of isolation and torment. These are the people you see turn up getting caught looking for sex in a public restroom like so many conservative pastors and politicians do. The closet is a very lonely and damaging place to live.

    LGBT teens that learn to love themselves and accept that they are wonderful just the way they are go on to live happy, fulfilling lives. These are the people that not only find happiness in their own lives, but also help other people find happiness in theirs.

  12. @Nicole:

    I know, I sometimes have trouble communicating when I'm talking about homosexuality as an orientation or as a lifestyle. (Example: I, and apparently most men, are polygamist in orientation, meaning that we are either attracted to more than one woman or that we have to maintain some pretty significant effort to keep from being attracted to more than one woman. But in lifestyle we are monogamous. And happily so - I love my wife.) So when we connect 'choice' with homosexuality, we're talking about how that gets lived out.

    Seth, one of the original bloggers for this site, is openly homosexual and a practicing Christian. He is homosexual in orientation, but in lifestyle he is celibate. He has a group of friends and family around him who love and respect him, and who encourage him, and this prevents him from ever coming to the point where he might fall off the wagon. He does not think of himself as cursed or sick or evil, except in the way that all of humanity is sick and evil (including me and ryan), which sort of makes Seth, well, really as normal as everyone else.

    Does that sort of flesh out some of the nuance in our thinking on the subject?

  13. *truth be told, for fundamentalists we're a pretty progressive bunch. We've had gay bloggers, some of us (me) are pro-evolution, all of us are pro-beer (in moderation). Don't knock us till you get to know us. The images of Christians you see on TV are pretty one-dimensional; I know I don't want to be grouped in with a lot of what I see there.

  14. **also, on rare occasions gay Christians do find themselves no longer attracted to people of the same sex. But this is always an exception to the rule. One of the kids I take to church has experienced this. (I always ask him, 'are you sure? no one is telling you to be something that you're not - you don't have to pretend to be heterosexual, we love you.' He tells me he's not putting on a show - he really likes girls. It's weird, but now I'm counseling this formerly-gay youth through his lust issues with, and sometimes messups with, girls.) At the same time, this always happens miraculously by surprise and we don't tell anyone to expect it to happen for them. It still hasn't happened for Seth, and he's fine with that.

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. Hey Nicole, I wiped your comment because (a) your comment came off as mocking towards the really brave choices that Seth has made in life; (b) because Seth is busy completing his third degree and stopped blogging here a while ago, and so can't respond; (c) because Seth is not on the verge of 'falling off the wagon' as his loving and supportive community gives him all the love that he feels he would ever need - he lives a content, happy, and celibate lifestyle. Also, we've already established that this issue is not whether you can be 'cured' of homosexuality but whether you choose to embrace the lifestyle (remember the whole 'lifestyle/orientation' talk and how those mean different things). Let's move past that now.

  17. You cant believe every thing you hear, including testimony from youth that claim to magically change sexual orientations. There is always a huge desire for approval from your peers and your family, and most gay people go through a phase where they try to "fake it til you make it." They figure if they profess they are changed and try to will it into existence, then maybe they really will change. They want it that bad.

    Or maybe the kid you are counseling has a crush on you. He likes getting attention from you, so he plays along and tells you what you want to hear. I did that was young. I had a friend and so I made up stories about liking the opposite sex so they wouldnt catch on that I a crush on them.

    Bottom line, testimony of someone going from gay to straight is unreliable at best. If you check on those people in a few years they will admit they were trying to force themselves to be something they're not.

  18. So you're allowed to bring Seth's personal life up as 'exhibit A' but when I provide an alternate viewpoint then I am deleted?

    This is the problem with talking to fundamentalist Christians/Muslims/Jews/anything. They are incapable of having a conversation. They are incapable of having an exchange of ideas. They can only make pronouncements of their beliefs, and anything that challenges their beliefs they reject or in your case, delete.

  19. 'Testimony of someone going from gay to straight is unreliable at best. Check on those people in a few years...'

    I hear you. And ultimately, this is how we end up at the aforementioned pastors and politicians who mess up. If that's the case with this kid, at least he knows he's got a group of friends who loves him no matter what his sexual orientation turns out to be.

    'I made up stories about liking the opposite sex...'

    There we have it. Thanks for really coming forward and sharing that; it really helps, I think, understanding where you're coming from and why this issue has so much resonance with you. And also, I think, why you're quick to get defensive - you've gone through a bit, maybe even with Christians, haven't you? That's why you've got this already-formed picture of what we're like in your mind?

  20. @Nicole: You're free to bring up an alternative viewpoint. Just don't mockingly talk about people you've never met - it's crass and I won't stand for it.

  21. As for the exchange of ideas, we could go back to the philosophical, scientific, ethical, and theological underpinnings of this whole thing. And I still want to do that. But I think the issue is more personal for you than anything - before we go there, you have to be able to not see everything I say as an attack or the result of a flippant attitude. We're not at that point. Right now, to you, every word I write is laced with hate-filled innuendo. This is not yet a calm, rational discussion between equals; your mindset is still pretty adversarial.

  22. I am merely responding to what I am reading. I've read now that gay people need "cured," that they are willfully choosing to ignore God, that there must be something wrong with them that needs fixed, that young LGBT arent really gay they're just at a 'tender age', that gay people can go from gay to straight, that they shouldnt be able to date who they choose, etc.

    And then I take the time to pour my heart into responses and half the time they are deleted. Gee, do you suppose that might cause someone to be flippant with you? You bet. A sane person would not bother continuing this with you. The only reason I do is because you said you are not only spreading these wicked lies to me, but to young people. If something I say can open your eyes and your heart and prevent these wicked lies from being fed to young LGBT people and prevent just one suicide then I know that my time was well spent.

  23. I think you're twisting the words the you read, in some cases (in others your pretty accurate).

    Gay people *need* to be cured.

    Haven't I spent my last few replies telling you that I don't believe this? Are you only cursorily scanning my replies before reacting to them? I feel like you keep telling me, 'this is what you think', and I keep having to say 'well... err... no... remember how I laid out the difference between an orientation and a lifestyle...?' I just don't know what it is that I'm failing to communicate.

    There must be something wrong with them that needs fixed

    There's something wrong with all of us that needs fixed (see the doctrine of total depravity), but I don't think that's what you're referencing. How many times do I have to tell you that I don't expect a person to be cured of their gay orientation?

    Young LGBT aren't gay they're just at a 'tender age'

    I didn't say this. I said 16 is an awfully early age to embrace the gay lifestyle, especially coming from a Christian background. Even if they are gay, there's still the option of celibacy - walking away from your faith is a serious decision and the surrounding factors need to be worked out. (Some are even pressured to embrace the lifestyle, even if they are alright with celibacy; gay kids can be brutal to other gays who refuse to flaunt and indulge in their sexuality. I guess all kids are pretty rotten to each other regardless of sexuality.)

  24. Dont forget that you're not the only person who has commented here. Ryan said he wants to "cure" gay people of their lifestyle. And you say you wouldnt even let your son date who he wants, even as a 17 year old.

    All of this adds up to the message that there is something wrong with gay people, something that needs fixed, something that needs changing, something that needs "cured."

    There is nothing to be cured, because there is nothing broken, and there is nothing wrong.

    And that is total BS when you said good Christian gay kids are bullied into acting on their sexual orietnation or bullied into "flaunting" it. Thats the exact opposite of reality.

  25. Yeah, Ryan had unfortunate wording there. But if you read him a little closer you'll see he wasn't talking about curing gays of their orientation. His Pastor Rick Warren bit sort of makes that a little more clear, though it took me a couple tries to make sense of it. Notice that he connected 'healed' to 'lifestyle', which for us is distinct from the orientation itself. It would be like the same as me being 'healed' from my polygamist lifestyle (if I had one) even though my polygamist orientation remains.

    I guess if I have a polygamist orientation, that puts us on more even footing doesn't it? Scripture says that both of us have sexual desires that don't match up with Christian ethical teachings. I guess I've just learned to embrace that and be happy with it, and not feel like I need to live those desires out in order to be a real person. Like I said, polygamist in orientation, happily monogamist in lifestyle.

    Also, about the BS on Christian gay kids being bullied. It's not as if I'm talking about something I heard about one time from a source I can't remember. The Christian community has lots of celibate gays, and these are some of their stories. Just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it didn't happen; your experiences are not definitive.

  26. I still object to the description that gay people need "healed" of their lifestyle. That implies being gay is a sickness. It is not.

    You never hear people say "you need healed from being an athiest" or "you need healed from telling that lie" or "you need healed from saying the lords name in vane." No, they only use the language that you need "healed" when you're gay. Liars only need to stop lying. Athiests only need to start believing. But gay people -- they need "healing". They're sick. They're broken.

    The language you choose to use says a lot more than you think.

    You also think you're clever to try to link polygamy to homosexuality, but its a false connection. First of all, you're referring to polygamy as if its the same thing as promiscuity. Its not. Polygamists take their vows seriously, and if they cheat on one of the wives they've vowed to be faithful to, thats just as bad as you cheating on the ONE wife you've said your vows to.

    You dont have a polygamist orientation. No one does. Polygamy is a living arrangement, not a sexual orientation. You could say you want to be promiscuous and sleep with lots of different women, but thats not the same thing as making solemn vows to four different wives and never straying from them.

    So when you or Rick Warren claim "look at me! Im giving up my polygamous lifestyle so gays should be able to give up theirs too!" its a false analogy. You're confusing promiscuity with polygamy.

  27. It's a little more common than you think actually - Christians use 'healing' language for everyone and anything, including some of the examples you mentioned. Sin and unbelief is even referred to in sickness terms in the Bible. But it's also been used in a very negative, 'what the hell is wrong with the gays' way, and for that I apologize and see your concern and will not be using that kind of language. I'm aware of the idea of Freudian slips and the idea that language reflects unconscious attitudes.

    Fine, so let's say I have a promiscuous nature. That's still an inward sexual desire that I have to admit is not in line with Christian ethics. According to the Bible, I'm filled with sinfulness and wicked desires (not limited to sexual desires though). One, in your opinion, why shouldn't I try to satisfy that through a polygamous living arrangement, assuming my wife is willing? Two, if I deny myself that experience, am I somehow being brainwashed by Christianity and denying a fundamental part of my identity? Three, is the government discriminating against me by not allowing me to live the polygamous lifestyle (though, both U.S. and Canadian courts are currently deciding cases that could legalize polygamy)? Four, if I deny my son the opportunity to express those same desires, am I discriminating against him and looking down on him? Five, say he really wants to get rid of his desire to be a polygamist and the inability to do so leads him into guilt-induced depression characterized by massive weight loss and sleeplessness (certain Church Fathers experienced something similar to this)?

    With all that in mind, is the only option just to give the Thumbs Up to polygamy? You expressed distaste for it yesterday or the day before - has that changed? Is there no alternative message of hope and understanding that we could give to someone suffering from the kind of depression that I mentioned?

  28. I think you need to understand that polygamists are not promiscuous. Maybe they are promiscuous to you, since anything 1+ is your view of being promiscuous. But most polygamists are in that arrangement beause of their religion. They hold their oath to their wives to be as sacred as your oath to your one wife. If they were to cheat on their wives, it would be just as wrong to them. So polygamy does not satisfy a promiscuous desire. A truly promiscuous man would not be satisfied with 5 wives... he'd still want sex with other women. Promiscuity means no commitment. There is commitment in polygamy, just to more than one person.

    The entire basis of your line of questioning is based on the false assumption that polygamy is a convenient arrangement to satisfy promiscuity. Its not. Polgamyists must live within the bounds of the vows they have made just as you do.

  29. I think your view of polygamist marriages is because your knowledge of the practice is limited only to fundamentalist Mormonism, in which a minimum of three wives is required. In the vast majority of religious (and non-religious) contexts, polygamy is permitted but not required. This means that those men who enter into polygamist marriages are satisfying a desire that is not met by having only one wife. They are not being required to do this by their religion (except in the case of fundamentalist Mormons); they are merely being allowed. You seem pretty ignorant of cultural practices beyond your North American context. You also seem to think that I don't know that, quote, 'Polygamists must live within the bounds of the vows they have made'. While I congratulate you for knowing this -not many secular people do- I don't need you to educate me on polygamist practices. I knew this already.

    Also, I got in contact with Seth. He said he would be willing to talk about this issue more with you on a personal level. How would you like me to put you in touch with him?

  30. '*I think the reason for your view of polygamist marriage...'

    Also, don't miss the part about Seth. How can I put you in contact with him?

  31. Look, we both understand polygamy, so lets not talk down to eachother. But it just seems like you keep assuming polygamy is this convenient way for a man to get to have sex with lots of women. Its not quite like that. He doesnt get to have sex with lots of women with no strings attached. There are strings attached - marriage. A truly promiscuous man would not be able to honor a commitment to one woman, let alone more than one woman. He'd always want more.

    I dont know what your fascination with polygamy is anyway. You seem to want to make it like homosexuality for some reason. Polygamy is a living arrangement, not a sexual orientation.

    Why do you want me in contact with Seth? Tell him to join the conversation here. You're already discussing his private life. If he wants to discuss this then lets do it here.

    But to let you know... I've already talked to people like Seth, and I've already seen them come around to "the other side" and learn to love themselves and find happiness.

  32. Thanks for pointing out that 'He doesn't get to have sex with lots of women with no strings attached. There are strings attached - marriage.' You didn't need to point that out though, since, quote, 'we both understand polygamy' and I've already pointed out that, quote, I knew this already. You still haven't really explained why a man would enter into a polygamist marriage if it's not related to sexual desire or religious compulsion, though, which suggests that you fail to be sympathetic for the felt needs of these men. Except in the case of fundamentalist Mormons and Levirate marriage, no one's compelling them here. They are fulfilling a need.

    I'm using the example of polygamy because I want to prove something to you. Namely, one can control whether they give expression to their sexual or emotional/relational needs, and still be fulfilled and happy people. I could have used the example of celibate heterosexuals, but I wanted to name a lifestyle that you wouldn't agree with. And I still think it's a good example, because you haven't really explained it away under circumstances where no one's really compelling these people to be polygamists.

  33. As for having talked to celibate gays, from the comments you tend to make I'm sure you've talked to lots of ex-Christian gays who were taught to hate themselves and think of their orientation as a sickness they had to cure before anyone would accept them. I'm sure lots of them were bullied and harassed and discriminated against even though they didn't have same-sex partners or hit on other guys. That kind of experience would probably make me want to kill myself, if I had been subjected to it.

    But for gays who have accepted who they are, and are part of a loving and supportive community, and aren't subject to that kind of abuse, it's a different kind of story. And I don't think you have a category in your mind for gays who are celibate and happy. Or celibate heterosexuals either, I'm sure. That's probably because you put too much importance on romantic love. While romance does produce a fantastic dopamine rush (responsible for that 'in love' feeling), romance isn't the only kind of love available and not having it doesn't need to result in not learn[ing] to love themselves or not find[ing] happiness. Being celibate certainly doesn't have to result in your wild-eyed scenario of, quote, suicide, either. That was probably one of your more distasteful comments.

    Still, here's a quote from one of Seth's early posts:

    Many Christians would prefer to ostracize people like me that experience same-sex attraction and assume we're possessed by demons or we chose this sin for ourselves and thus have to suffer the consequences. Others would audaciously embrace our sexuality and stifle what scripture reveal. There are few who are willing to find middle ground and face the tough questions that arise in the issue. Did God make him or her gay? What does God expect of gays and lesbians? Can we really tell these people to give up the opportunity to find love? The answers may seem simple, yet when one experiences the struggle or knows and cares for one who does, these are uncomfortable questions that are not as easy to answer. Yet the questions should be brought up. Thinking and grappling with these issues are healthy for our growth.

    If this sounds like someone who goes around hating themselves and thinking they are evil and being always on the verge of suicide or an unfortunate encounter -I don't want to even write the scenario that you mentioned last time you wrote about Seth, it's so ignorant and insulting- then fine. But maybe he deserves a fair chance.

    As for getting involved in this topic thread, he wrote, 'I can correspond with her; probably not at the level she would want, but I'm open to talking.' So constantly following the time-consuming discussion of a comments section is outside of the amount of time that he can dedicate. Like I said, he's working on his third degree right now. And I think he's also doing some limited teaching right now, I should ask him. But personal correspondence is the best way for him.

  34. Hey, it's fine to communicate here. I'm working crazy hours this summer, so I can't comment every day.

    I definitely understand where you're coming from, Nicole. I was one of those people you've described. I used to believe that it was certain I could change my sexual orientation. I went through counseling, I tried pursuing women. No change. I was so disappointed that for a time I did seek out relationships with other gay men, though I chose never to be physically involved.

    I have chosen to live out my sexuality through celibacy. Love is a broad reality that transcends just romance. Is it a sacrifice? Sure. But I love my life. My family, friends, and church know about my issues and have never tried to change me. I'm allowed to be me. My sexual orientation factors among many other descriptors that piece together a picture of my identity.

    I would feel far more depressed to give up my faith and community to satisfy romantic yearnings. Do the feelings linger? Of course. But every feeling and thought needs to be evaluated in context of God's Word. We're all broken by the fall of Adam and experience our fallen humanity in sundry expressions. We all need sanctification to work daily work in our lives to make us more like the image of Christ. A huge part of Christianity is dying to self throughout our lives. Thus we embrace the biblical, not social, roles God has given men and women. One must either ignore many passages of scripture or deny that God's Word is literal to biblically support gay relationships. I refuse to do either.

    I am actually tolerant of LGBT individuals and I have a friend who embraces her lesbian identity. I lovingly disagree with her behavior, but we're still friends. I want people to be happy, but I don't believe one can have a complete relationship with God when it's defined by a man or woman's terms regardless of the sinful behavior involved. Obviously we choose to ignore this issue in our friendship. I respect others; I don't force my opinions on people. I only ask that people respect my choice to believe what I feel is right in accordance with scripture and my conscience.

  35. On a completely different wave-length, when I didn't know God, I pursued relationships with men and/or women. It didn't quite matter to me, and I never saw the importance of making a distinction between genders when 'love' was involved. As I often used to say: "you love the person, not the gender." A common idiom for LGBTs.

    However, almost four years ago, I met Jesus Christ for the first time. I had no idea what the Bible was; I had never heard of a preacher/pastor before that day. Yet, as soon as I gave my life over to God, there was a distinction made between genders. Women were no longer suitable for romantic relationships, and I didn't know why. After reading Scripture, though, these thoughts and feelings were confirmed.

    Though I may still struggle with lust, it's unromantic. It is purely for the sake of lusting after someone "peu importe le gendre"-- French for, 'no matter the gender'

    I echo Seth's comment though: I only ask that people respect my choice to believe what I feel is right in accordance with scripture and my conscience.

  36. Seth, welcome to the conversation. I think we can learn two things from your post:

    1) BEING GAY IS NOT A CHOICE. You didnt choose to be gay - you went to all the right Christian counselors, you went to all the right Christian therapies, you jumped through all the hoops you were supposed to, but no change. In fact, you readily admit you still have romantic feelings for the same-sex. You're still gay.

    2) BEING GAY IS NOT A CHOICE, BUT CHOOSING TO THINK THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH YOU IS. You are choosing to interpret Biblical passages as condemning loving, gay couples. You are choosing to believe that you must supress your natural desire to spend your life with another human being. Not all Christians interpret those passages that way. Many devout Christian churches fully embrace the LGBT community; they welcome them to worship, they allow them to serve in leadership roles within the church, they allow them to marry.

    These churches know they will be attacked by other churches as "abandoning traditional theology" or judged as being "too liberal" or even calling them "not true Christians". But they believe in their hearts there is nothing wrong with you if you are gay, and that traditional interpretations of those clobber passages are not accurate.

    I was really saddened to read your comment: "I would feel far more depressed to give up my faith and community to satisfy romantic yearnings."

    To begin with, you are confessing that your suppression is leading you to feel depressed. But you think that giving up your faith and community would lead you to be "more depressed," so you choose what you see as the lesser of two depressions. It is sad to me that anyone sees their lives that way.

    The other reason that comment really stuck out to me is that you think you have to give up your faith and your community in order to live a full life in loving, committed relationship. You see it as a choice between the two: find love with a spouse or keep your faith. You think they are mutually exclusive.

    That is not the case Seth! There are wonderful faith communities all over the United States and Canada that do not judge you for being gay or being in a gay relationship. You can worship freely and openly and honestly. You dont have to live alone for your entire life. You can find a soulmate to spend your life with, you can maintain and celebrate your faith in a welcoming community, and you and your spouse could even open your home and provide a better life to a child in need. Now THAT would be making a sacrifice - giving up signifcant financial resources to open your home and support one of God's children that didnt get a great start in this world. The possibilities for your life are endless!

    But let me ask you, Seth, who was it that told you the wicked lie that you could pray the gay away? Who told you that you could change your sexual orientation? Who told you that you just needed a little therapy to get fixed? Who told you these things, and why did you believe them?

  37. I've definitely considered integrating my sexuality and faith. It's certainly the easiest solution. I would be lying to say that celibacy is effortless. But God's knowledge extends far beyond our shattered and angled perspectives of life and reality.

    A holistic look at scripture shows me that this issue is more than God setting the factors up that led to my sexual orientation--just to slap my hand and tell me like a kid in the cookie jar, "no, you can't have that." There's more at stake. God set up specific roles for men and women to manifest Himself to the world: in church, the family, etc. Homosexuality distorts the order God has created. While marriage may not be an option, singles still participate in God's narrative.

    Scripture itself is quite clear on the issue of homosexuality:

    Romans 1: 26-27 (ESV) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    There is no precedent for God-honoring homosexual relationships. It is foreign from a biblical sexual ethic.

    While my life isn't perfect, I wouldn't change anything. God made me as I am for a reason. Celibacy is quite esteemed in scripture. We're not all created to have sex and experience romantic love. We all labor to promote God's kingdom in different ways. I am content and happy with my life; I can't change the circumstances, but I have control over my perspective and behavior. So there's no point acting like my life's a tragedy when there's so much love and meaning in life. Participating in the growth of the kingdom of God trumps everything.

    I have found that as my perspectives have changed, and as I have learned more about homosexuality, so have the people around me. No one has forced me to be a person I'm not. Everyone knows I'm attracted to men and will likely never marry a woman. I am still loved and accepted. My church and friends treat me like family and that fills my void. I'm not lonely. I'm so incredibly loved by a great group of people. I'm married to the church. My parents and siblings are awesome about everything as well. It's hardly depressing. Hard? You bet. But so worth it.

  38. Seth, if you feel called to live a monk's life, then by all means abstain from human intimacy and relationships that we all crave. But it sounds like you're doing it for the wrong reasons. You're doing it because you still hold onto the beliefs you were told that being gay is sinful, even though those people who told you that you could pray it all away and become straight were clearly wrong all along. You tried praying away the gay, and you think same-sex marriage is wrong, so you're left with one option... the path of least resistance - be celibate. You dont want to shake up your family or the church and live happily with another man. Its easier to be compliant with the beliefs of everyone around you.

    Allow me to be direct- the interpretation of that passage in Paul's letter to the Romans you were told is not accurate. Yes, popular wisdom is that Paul is condemning the LGBT community in that passage, but that is really and oversimplified and uninformed view of the text. The sin of the Romans that Paul was referring to is idolatry, not being gay.

    When Paul visited the Romans, he witnessed idolatry on a grand stage. Everything about the Roman culture was about worshiping objects, worshiping the state, worshiping traditions, worshiping anything but the one true God. He felt compelled to write to them. In the passage you posted, Paul was talking about the sex rituals he witnessed in pagan temples. Because they were gay?? No. Because they were committing idolatry - performing all kinds of strange sex acts in groups in the pagan temples to please the gods of fertility. Yes, it was men with men, women with women, men with women, and men and children. Group orgies in the name of pleasing a false god. You cant get more idolotrous. The point Paul was making was to rail against the gross idolatry he witnessed, not to rail against committed, loving same-sex couples that werent even present in those pagan temples.

    If you think Romans 1: 26-27 is about gays, you are missing the point.

    But Im still curious Seth, who was it that told you that you could pray away the gay originally, and why did you believe them?

  39. Hardly. Romans 1 deals with mankind's universal depravity, not merely the sin of idolatry. Homosexuality is a case study Paul presents as an example of the extremes of humanity's brokenness. Homosexuality is on equal footing with any other sin mentioned in the passage: Atheism, idolatry, unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

    Corinthians 6: 9-11 also gives a strong warning against homosexuality and an encouragement to that other have changed their behaviors to align themselves with scripture.
    "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [3] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And 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.

    3 ESV note: The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts

    No one ever worded "pray the gay away" in that form. People have said that if homosexuality isn't in accordance with God's Word, then it is within God's power to change my sexual orientation; to perform a miracle. My faith says it's still possible; I believe in an omnipotent God. But I'm content if He never does.

    See, I'm not a monk. I live in community, not cloistered in isolation. It's not just suppressing certain desires for the sake of others; it's far more than that. It's what I believe. I believe I would sever my connection with Triune community and accept a lesser form of living, a broken reality of love, rather than embracing kingdom living.

    I'm happy, so why make myself unhappy to satisfy one component of my being when there are many other compartments that are content? This is earth--not heaven. Everything won't be optimal. Happiness is itself subjective, especially seeing we live in a postmodern world. If anyone, LGBTs should be most understanding of living out what makes one happy and not changing to satisfy others. God gives us the choice to live the way we wish, but He calls us to something better. And when He works in our hearts He reveals deeper truths that eclipse all rivalries.

  40. What Ryan said: Dead on, Seth.

    @Nicole: Remember when you said 'that is total BS when you said good Christian gay kids are bullied into acting on their sexual orietnation or bullied into "flaunting" it. Thats the exact opposite of reality.'? Far from it being the exact opposite of reality, it's pretty close to what you're trying to do to Seth. That's not a flattering role to take on.

  41. @Seth: I'm kind of interested in this, actually. Up until you came on, Nicole didn't really mention Christianity at all except to trash it. But if she's willing to open up the Bible with us and challenge her own assumptions about what it does or doesn't allow... then we could all be getting somewhere. After all, the post that this comment thread is attached to is all about asking the question 'How do you know for sure what's right or wrong?' Getting somewhere on the road to a legitimate answer would probably be helpful for all of us.


Start or join a conversation! Please do not use the 'Anonymous'; option; use the Name/URL form and leave a first and last name (or last initial). Thank you.