Thursday, October 30, 2014

WHY EVERY CHURCH MUST BE OPEN AND AFFIRMING

This is an article that I posted many years ago, delivered as a sermon, and appeared in "Whosoever," a blog that caters to LGBT people and their allies:

"…O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." (Isaiah 3:12)

"…he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry." (Isaiah 5:7)

Many years ago, I was asked by the then-pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Chico, Lynn Bolich, to speak to the congregation and community members who would attend as to why gay people should not be ordained to the ministry. Conventionally reading the Bible, I saw such words as “abomination” and “against nature” ostensibly associated with homosexuality, and I thought it was a no-brainer. To my current embarrassment, I gave that speech.
Subsequent to giving that speech, I started to think more deeply about the issue and asked myself the question, “Why would someone voluntarily choose to become part of a despised minority group?” I started searching the Scriptures, looking up the original languages to see what they meant and, more importantly, what they didn’t mean. I also read extra-biblical sources on the subject and finally decided that the Bible not only did not condemn same-sex loving relationships but, in fact, tacitly affirmed them.
I examined the relationship between David and Jonathan and saw that even a cursory reading of the biblical account of their relationship showed King David, called a man after God’s own heart (1Samuel 13:14), to have been at the very least a bisexual. (1Sam. 20:30-31; 41-42; 2Sam. 1:26; 9:1) Moreover, in Matthew 8, a centurion beseeches Jesus to heal his servant. The typical Greek word that is translated “servant,” although a more accurate translation is “slave,” is doulos. However, in Matthew 8, the Greek word that is translated in the King James Version of the Bible as “servant” is pais and, given this account as recorded in Luke 7 that says that this slave (doulos) was “dear unto him” (Luke 7:2), it may very well be translated “slave boy.”
The term “slave boy” was a term that was commonly used to describe one who was in a homosexual relationship in those times. That may well be why the centurion was so concerned about this particular slave. This being a reasonable and probable translation in Matthew 8 given the context (Such as seen in Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People.), it is interesting that Jesus never condemned the centurion’s relationship with his slave boy, and He had the perfect opportunity to do so if He felt that their relationship was in any way sinful or inappropriate. Jesus merely commended the centurion on his faith and promptly proceeded to heal the man’s slave boy.
The legalists and the self-righteous, smug fundamentalist professing Christians, who seem to monopolize the media, don’t speak for Christianity—at least not the Christianity that I know. These purveyors of a false Gospel impose their prejudices on the Bible, selectively picking certain verses that they feel affirm those prejudices, and preach a message of legalism and perfectionism that is diametrically opposed to the Gospel of grace, faith, love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness.
The Apostle Paul, who adamantly fought legalism (Acts 15; Ephesians 2:8-9), saved his harshest words for those who preach a false Gospel. He said in Galatians 1:8 concerning those who preach a false Gospel, “…let him be accursed.” He felt so strongly about those who preach legalism rather than the Gospel of grace that he repeated himself in the very next verse.
To be “accursed” is to be damned by God! In other words, he wrote, “God damn them.” (Galatians 1:8-9) Once can’t use any stronger language than that!
These preachers of a false Gospel have wittingly or unwittingly attempted to hijack the true Gospel and redefine Christianity in their own twisted image of God, the Bible, the world, and of themselves. They make Christians look like a pack of hate-mongering, harsh, judgmental freaks and I terribly resent it!
Every single church and denomination is obligated to embrace and welcome into its fellowship everyone who worships Christ as his or her savior, and afford each such person full rights of inclusion, including the partaking of every sacrament of the Church, as befit members of the Body of Christ! Yet, many denominations are struggling with issues surrounding the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (hereafter to be called GLBT) people. The struggle is said to largely center on biblical interpretation regarding gay people and their relationships, as well as Christian tradition, despite the fact that Jesus says we make void the Word of God by our traditions. (Matthew 15:3)
Many people who seek to deny GLBT people rights of ordination, marriage, and other rights and privileges that accrue to others, may be well-intentioned, but they are misinformed. The root of this misinformation is largely the religious leadership that seeks to impose their world-views that bespeak ignorance and insensitivity upon not only other people, but upon the Bible and upon God Himself.
Just as Peter’s experience of Cornelius in Acts 10 showed him that even Gentiles were receiving God’s Spirit, we must realize that GLBT Christians can receive, and many have received, God’s Spirit as well, as the reception of God’s Spirit has absolutely nothing to do with one’s sexual orientation. Many people in the Church still think of GLBT people as Peter and Paul once thought of Gentiles. Yet God told them, and us, “…What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (Acts 10:15)
Peter and Paul called the Jewish Christian church in their day to not merely tolerate Gentile Christians, but welcome their full inclusion. Similarly, in our day we are being called by God to not merely tolerate GLBT Christians, but welcome their full inclusion in every aspect of the Church and society.
Had it not been for adherence to God’s revelation concerning inclusiveness, Paul would not have had a ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47), and had it not been for Paul and his ministry, Christianity would likely be but a mere sect of Judaism, rather than its fulfillment! We must obey God; not man-made dogmas, rules, regulations, and traditions!
On June 17, 2004, Reuters reported, “The Roman Catholic Church in Massachusetts is considering firing gay employees who marry their same-sex partners in the only American state where such unions are legal, a church official said on Thursday.” Hence, even though the law in Massachusetts permits same-sex marriage, the Roman Catholic Church, viewing gay relationships as “intrinsically disordered,” may seek to discriminate against those who take advantage of that law.
Given the extensive sex abuse scandals that have rocked that denomination, it would seem prudent for it to take the beam out of its own eye before tackling what isn’t even a speck in another’s eye. Yet, sexuality and sexual orientation are such highly charged topics for them, and most others, that they may feel free to disregard the law and discriminate against people who seek to make a lifetime commitment to each other before God and the community through the sacrament of marriage.
Marriage is a matter of love, but also a matter of legal and property rights! Just ask anyone who has gone through a divorce! As citizens, GLBT people have every right to partake of the same rights and privileges, as well as the responsibilities, as other citizens.
Why would we allow a bunch of celibate men, men who seemingly choose to deny a core part of the self, a deep primal urge and vehicle for the _expression of deepest intimacy between two people, be allowed to define romantic and sexual reality for us? In this vein, we must ask, “Why are so many ‘religious’ people, clergy and non-clergy alike, so obsessed with others’ love and sexual lives that they read into Scripture, taking a few passages out of context and without regard to the original languages, justification for discriminating, stigmatizing, demonizing, and oppressing GLBT people, which judgment and discrimination is clearly un-Scriptural?” Their prejudices have clearly blinded them to the biblical mandate to love others and not judge or oppress them!
The Gospel of love trumps any particular verse or verses of Scripture, particularly those taken out of context and interpreted without regard to the original languages. In Leviticus, the men who sought to gang rape the two angels weren't gay, as Lot wouldn't have offered his virgin daughters to them. If they were gay, young women certainly would have been no inducement to them. The issue was gang rape, abusing others, not sexual orientation or gay relationships.
Indeed, whenever Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in Scripture, homosexuality is never mentioned as its sin. Rather, the sins that are dealt with are inhospitality and not taking care of the poor. Moreover, if the two angels who visited Lot’s house had been women, it is unlikely that those professing Christians who discriminate against GLBT people would be condemning heterosexuality!
The word translated "homosexual" in some translations (Such as the New English Bible: New Testament.) is arsenekoitai, an obscure Greek word, which actually means "male bed." It probably refers to male cult prostitution (See the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.) that was not uncommon in much of the ancient world, where sex was sometimes a worshipful act to various pagan deities and to have the crops grow. Paul was most likely talking about the use of sex for these purposes. In this connection, it is important to note that the word “homosexual” does not appear in any of the biblical manuscripts, as the term was coined in the late 19th century, and first appeared in an English Bible translation in the 1946 edition of the Revised Standard Version.
Moreover, prohibitions against homosexual activity in ancient Israel was done in the context of a tribal society living on the edge, surrounded by enemies, that had to "be fruitful and multiply" in order for it to survive. Therefore, all types of sexual activity had to be geared to procreation. The sin of Onan, coitus interruptus, was to do otherwise. (Genesis 38:9-10)
Romans 1:21-32 that is erroneously used to condemn gay people talks about those who turned their backs on God. Even though many professing Christians and clergy have turned GLBT people away from the church, many of these people still worship God. Many of them have long, fulfilling relationships. For example, one gay couple who attend our church has been together for 40 years.
In any case, what those who quote from the first chapter of Romans to erroneously condemn gay people apparently don't read is the very next verse: "Therefore Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things." (Romans 2:1)
The word "abomination" frequently refers to anything the Gentiles did. For example, eating fish without scales was an abomination. Also, the Greek words that are translated "against nature," para physin, are also used in reference to God when He brought the Gentiles into the covenant relationship with Him. (Romans 11:24) Hence, the term “against nature” is not necessarily meant to be pejorative; may well refer in Romans 1:26-27 to heterosexuals who engage in homosexual acts as seen in cult prostitution.
In 1Corinthians 6:9 the word "effeminate" is used. The Greek word is malakoi, and it means "soft." It's used elsewhere in Scripture to denote soft clothing. In this connection, it probably means people of soft morals or people who lack courage.
It is important to realize that homosexuality is never mentioned in the Ten Commandments, never written about by the prophets, and never discussed by Jesus. If it were that important, it would have likely been dealt with in at least one of these contexts!
Yet these facts, and many others that have been put forth, are not likely to change the minds and hearts of those who actively discriminate against GLBT people. Those who spend a great deal of their time condemning other people “in the name of God,” by picking and choosing selected verses of Scripture without seeming regard to context and original languages, may well be materially and psychologically gaining a great deal from these endeavors, all the while claiming that they are being faithful to the Bible.
Just one example as to how these people don't seem to be as ‘Bible believing’ as they would have us believe: Jesus specifically condemned divorce and remarriage, saying that those who did so, absent fornication, were themselves committing adultery. (Matthew 19:9) I don't hear many homophobic clergy condemning these people and telling them that they should leave their current spouse and either reunite with their previous spouse or remain single. Nor should they! My point is that many of their constituents are made up of these people who give them tithes, offerings, and contributions and they don't want to bite the hands that feed them. They have, however, helped drive many GLBT people away from the church, so these people become viewed as “safe” targets to persecute.
The Gospel of love negates any attempt to misrepresent, stigmatize, demonize, or oppress other people. Those who seek to exclude GLBT people from partaking fully in the life of the Church and society have missed the message of the Gospel!
In any case, it's inappropriate to blindly apply the cultural practices of ancient societies to contemporary society, as it does not do justice to the Bible; the Bible makes no such claims for itself; to do so cheapens the Bible. As Peter J. Gomes wrote in his superb book, The Good Book: Reading The Bible With Mind And Heart, when we read the Bible we must take account of what it says, what it means, the text, the subtext, the context, what we bring to the text, and what we take out of the text. Without such examination, we have the egregious example of many Black churches, ministers and lay people, aligning themselves with the KKK to fight against same-sex marriage.
What is interesting in this context is that the KKK has demonstrated against same-sex marriage. So, the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (that, even with its checkered sexual history, talks of traditional family values) and others who oppose equal rights for gay people are aligning themselves with the KKK that opposes equality for all citizens. And these professing Christians have the temerity to do so "in the name of God."
For far too long we have listened to people who just uncritically assume that what they heard from the pulpit or Sunday school, as ignorant and hateful as it may be, regarding GLBT people is true. Being gay is not a lifestyle! It's a life! It's not a choice, any more than being straight is a choice!
Moreover, although each minority group has its own particular history, each has suffered from misinformation, discrimination, stigma, and oppression. Unfortunately, the Church has been the last institution in society to accept the disenfranchised and "least among us." As has been noted for many years, the Church has been, and continues to be, the most racially segregated institution that exists on Sunday mornings in our society. In addition, the major justification for oppressing minority groups has been appeal to the Bible. Witness the subjugation of women, slavery, and segregation.
Even the most "Bible believing" Christian would not condone such biblical practices as stoning to death adulterers, stoning to death those who work on the Sabbath, requiring all women to wear long hair, women not talking in church, women not teaching men, not wearing mixed fibers in our clothes, etc. Yet these are all taught in the Bible!
The Bible is part of God's revelation to us. It gives us a glimpse into a small part of God's heart and a few of His many dimensions. God didn't stop talking to His children 2,000 years ago! He still speaks to us regarding His will for our lives, and to proclaim in each generation, in and for His name, the cause of justice, and to manifest Jesus’ love toward others.
God bless the work of Soulforce that seeks justice for GLBT people, the United Federation of the Metropolitan Community Churches that largely minister to GLBT Christians, the Online magazine, "Whosoever," for which I have written a great deal, that is primarily geared to GLBT Christians, and to the work of Rembert Truluck who points out the destructive aspects of Bible abuse and how misuse of the Bible has caused the untold suffering of GLBT people. They have excellent web sites! It is these, and other such ministries, that have undoubtedly saved, and immeasurably enriched, the lives of countless GLBT people, Christian and non-Christian alike, who were previously wracked by feelings of guilt, shame, self-loathing, and condemnation, hitherto believing the lies and ignorant pronouncements emanating from much of the Church.
The seemingly oracular pronouncements regarding GLBT people and their relationships by those who parade their ignorance as “Godliness” have helped lead to the suicides, bashings, and murders of countless GLBT people. Indeed, in this connection, it is estimated that gay youth have at least three times the suicide rate of non-gay youth.
Make no mistake, every drop of blood shed by GLBT people either through suicide, bashing, or murder, are on the hands of all those religious leaders, their followers, and their allies who spew forth their ignorance, prejudice, and hate against GLBT people and their relationships! These wolves in sheep’s clothing take the Bible, God’s love letter to His children, and selectively and perversely use it as a club to condemn others, and deny GLBT people full inclusion in the Church and in society.
The tradition-bound parts of the Church have so indoctrinated people, many of whom have never even set foot in a house of worship, that many people even disown their own children when they “come out” and divulge their sexual orientation to those whom they thought unconditionally loved and cherished them. There are many children living on the streets because their own parents trusted ignorant clergy and their followers over their God-given duty and privilege to nurture and embrace their own children!
The Church should concentrate on the real sins that deserve our attention and that cry out to God for redress, such as invading another country on false pretenses; the working poor who can't afford medical insurance; the Supreme Court ruling that people can't sue their insurance company in state court for denying needed medical services; many elderly people having to decide whether to buy food or medicine; the gigantic rip off perpetrated by drug companies, hospitals, and the medical establishment on sick and vulnerable people. Why not focus on and address issues such as these, instead of obsessing on who loves who and who sleeps with whom? Such obsession tells us much more about the pathetic and moribund state of much of the Church than it does about the reality of the lives of GLBT people.
Indeed, those who seek to exclude others from full fellowship in church, and in secular society, commit the greatest sin of all: the sin of pride. Jesus “…spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
Through out our lives, we have been bombarded with ignorant, homophobic messages from much of the Church world that don’t resonate with, and do contradict, the revelation of God in the Person and words of Jesus! Let’s not let the ignorant, the haters and hate-mongers, many of whom gain psychological, social, and financial advantages by their condemnation and exclusion of GLBT people, define Christianity for us.
We must rise above their ignorant and hateful pronouncements, cynically made "in the name of God," "tradition," "church law," and "family values," and finally practice Christianity. Hear Jesus' call for inclusion of all of His people, and let's fulfill His mandate for us to love our neighbor by embracing in every facet of our lives His GLBT children, whom He gave as a gift to the church and society to be cherished every bit as much as He cherishes us.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

AN OPEN LETTER TO POTENTIAL STRAIGHT ALLIES OF LGBT PEOPLE


There are to be no second-class citizens in the United States!  We established a long time ago that “separate is not equal,” and all American citizens are entitled to enjoy equality under the law.  Any society that presumes to refer to itself as “decent” and “civilized” must not in any way discriminate against any group of people through its laws or their enforcement.

We should have learned this painful lesson during the struggle for African American civil rights, and we must now apply that lesson in this struggle for full and equal civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (hitherto referred to as LGBT) people. LGBT people are entitled to the same rights and privileges that accrue to all other citizens of the United States

Gay people are certainly entitled to full and equal civil rights, including the right to marry!  The lies and other nonsense purveyed by many self-proclaimed arbiters of “morality,” often cloaked in the guise of religion, that same-sex marriage destroys “the sanctity of marriage” is ludicrous on its face! 

I have been married to my wife for fifty two years, and I can’t see how same-sex marriage will in any way negatively impact my marriage or in any way destroy the sanctity of my marriage!  No rational person can believe that same-sex marriage in any way compromises the institution of marriage, an institution that has taken many forms in our history.

As a Christian, I am profoundly embarrassed and outraged by those professing Christians who are in the vanguard of discrimination against LGBT people; who spew hateful rhetoric, borne out of their ignorance and/or their hatred and/or their avariciousness, that is diametrically opposed to anything Jesus said, lived, or taught to all who would claim to be His disciples!   Indeed, Jesus saved His harshest words for those who claimed to be “godly” and yet sought to put yokes of bondage onto others!

Christians love other people, and the only Gospel to be found in Christianity is comprised of: grace (God’s unmerited favor to us), faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances), love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness.  There is no other Gospel! 

Jesus makes it abundantly clear that we are to love and not judge or condemn others!  Any professing Christian who thinks that he/she is representing Jesus by doing the very opposite of what Jesus told us to do is not only seriously misled, but is woefully misleading the public, many of whom are gullible enough to take the purveyors of the false gospel of legalism and perfectionism seriously.

Moreover, we are under the Constitution of the United States and we are not a Theocracy!  Since when are we to take a group of people’s understanding of the Bible, an “understanding” far more informed by their preconceived prejudices than it is by anything else, and enshrine those prejudices into our laws of the land; impose those prejudices onto a minority group that all too many professing Christians and others view as being relatively “safe” to persecute?

The discrimination against LGBT people in the names of “Christianity,” “morality,” “tradition,” “the well being of our children,” and any other specious reasons given for this oppression has many of us saying: “Enough is enough!”  We’re not going to take it anymore!

For those of us who are Christians, we are sick and tired of having those who would hate and/or discriminate against others presume to speak for us!  For those of us who are heterosexual, we are sick and tired of watching our LGBT sisters and brothers be oppressed!  For those of us who are LGBT, we are sick and tired of being viewed and treated as second-class citizens, denied marital and other rights and benefits that heterosexual tax paying citizens are given and take for granted.

In sum, LGBT rights activists demand full and equal civil rights that every other citizen of the United States possesses, and we won’t rest or stop until that goal is achieved!








                                                                           
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

THE ROLE OF CAPITALISM IN CREATING HOMOPHOBIA


I'm a disciple of Christ first and foremost!  Actually, I'm very theologically conservative in that I believe in the Resurrection and ascension of Jesus into heaven, the virgin birth, that Jesus is God incarnate, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God (if seen contextually and accurately translated), and in virtually all theological and Christological contentions that conservative theologians support.

Of course, I vehemently disagree with homophobic clergy, be they evangelical or mere haters who seek to frame their hate in the name of "Christianity."  And, it must be acknowledged, that there are many self-defined and self-deluded evangelical Christians who speak from the hateful preconceived prejudices that exist in their hearts!

However, secondarily, I also agree with Marx’ analysis of capitalism, save for his dismissal of God.  As much of organized religion does serve as "the opiate of the masses," and that many people create God in their own image, Marx was unfortunately correct.  He was dead wrong, however, when he proffered that there is no God and that God is a mere fiction created by the gullible.

However, I don't want to deal with this particular issue here, but I do want to deal with the role of Capitalism that Marx correctly said "contains the seeds of its own destruction."  Some of those seeds in the U.S. can be seen by the fact that capitalism requires many workers to live lives of exploitation, and that exploitation has as one of its results the need for affirmation that often comes by creating one or more out-groups, constructed enemies, so that one can feel better about him/herself and feel morally superior, as well as cement in-group solidarity that shared hate can bring to those who are exploited.

Wealthy people can, of course, be homophobic, but that homophobia may in great part be used to influence the exploited workers to cast as the enemy groups other than those who are, in fact, exploiting them.  Workers are needed in order for capitalists to be successful, so they must be lulled into believing that they have a stake in capital property, as well as a stake in the values of the capitalists, the power elite; what better way of deflecting workers' animus against capitalists who are exploiting them than to monopolize the media, manipulate the media, to get many Straight people to think that Gay people are somehow a threat to the well-being of children, families, "our American way of life," and religion?

The capitalists, the owners of the means of production and the media, have a vested interest in having workers fighting against each other rather than direct their resentment where it should belong.  Outsourcing, diminishing of workers' salaries in proportion to the economic gains of the corporate elite must be subordinated in workers' psyches by encouraging a war of all against all, be it against Gay people, Jews, African Americans, immigrants, women, etc.

This is not to say that homophobia doesn't occur in the absence of capitalism, for I am a firm believer in Original Sin!  It is to say that in developed countries such as in the U.S., where survival of the fittest, the hallmark of Social Darwinism without which it is impossible to understand much of the values and fabric of the U.S., and in the ideology of many workers who have no vested interest in believing this sociopathic axiom, an axiom that can be heard on a daily basis on most of talk radio, leads to the seeking out of scapegoats against whom to vent their frustrations and resentments borne of their own economic oppression and exploitation.
Marx called this phenomenon, "false consciousness," where people act against their own best interests because they are misdirected by the media and other institutions ruled by the capitalists.  Homophobia is one such manifestation of false consciousness!

Let's face it, why would anyone care if two adult people of the same sex love each other?  Why would there be people making a veritable career out of condemning Gay people unless there was money to be made by doing so, and/or unless they were fearful of being Gay themselves?  Why would most churches have such animus against Gay people unless they were acting as agents of the power elite and/or were comprised of clergy many of whom are self-loathing Gay people?

When there is relative scarcity of goods and services that capitalism demands for the owners of the means of production to maximize their profits, workers become frustrated and angry, and they seek out all sorts of constructed "enemies" against which to direct their anger, so that they can remain safer than they would if they directed their frustration, anger, and aggression against those creating their exploitation; direct that very frustration, anger, and aggression against groups that they feel are safe to persecute, and seek to justify their persecution of that constructed enemy by lying about them, often doing so in the name of God.

Now, the major scapegoats that serve to assuage the frustrations and consequent aggression of the exploited are Gay people!

Carl Jung once said that only the tortured are torturers!  And one doesn't have to be a Marxist to understand this truth!




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Saturday, March 8, 2014

SNAKES IN THE GRASS WHO PROFESS TO BE CHRISTIANS

Some right wing "evangelical Christians" have poured a ton of energy and money to criminalize LGBT people and have blood on their hands in their fight to realize the "Anti-Homosexuality bill" that just passed in Uganda, affirming life imprisonment for Gay people.  These haters, and their followers, and all those who seek to deny LGBT people full and equal civil rights in society, are snakes in the grass who pass themselves off as Christians.  Just reading the Sermon on the Mount would show any reasonable person that they are diametrically opposed to Jesus' claims upon His disciples' lives.

For the last five years, human rights advocates around the world been discussing how U.S. conservative figures were integrally involved in the creation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (originally called the “Kill the Gays Bill”). Vast amounts of research have been produced on the involvement of conservatives such asRick Warren (who posted a YouTube video supporting California’s Prop 8 only to later take it down and deny it ever happened), and hours of undercover footage were taken of Scott Lively (famous for claiming the Nazi Party was really a gay club in his book The Pink Swastika) in Kampala, Uganda, advocating the bill’s creation with local political and religious leaders.
As evidence of their involvement has spread throughout the U.S., the public’s sentiment on these characters’ involvement has soured considerably. This was exacerbated when, last month, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, ascribing life-in-prison sentences to LGBTQ people in the African nation, criminalizing advocacy of homosexuality, and requiring authority figures (parents, teachers, doctors, etc.) to report LGBTQ people to the government.
The American public is finally taking notice. Story after story in major media outlets (The GuardianReal News NetworkThe Rachel Maddow Show, and the National Journal in just the last few weeks) is running about these right-wing evangelicals’ involvement, and the millions of dollars they’ve poured into Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and elsewhere in carefully crafted campaigns to train local pastors and political leaders how to use culture wars-talking points for an all-out attack on LGBTQ people.
[For the full article see here.]
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Friday, January 31, 2014

A MOTHER'S LETTER CONCERNING HER GAY SON AND ALL OTHER GAY PEOPLE

My good friend, Don Charles, on his excellent blog, "Christ the Gay Martyr," quoted a letter from a woman with a gay son, and it's worth repeating here.  This sensitive, intelligent woman speaks the truth to ignorant and/or hateful homophobes who make Gay kids' lives unbearable, and even drives many of them to attempt or actually carry out suicide.  Religious bigots pervert understanding of the Bible to condemn Gay people, and falsely parade their bigotry and hate as being "righteous."  Professing Christians who in any way condemn LGBT people are witting or unwitting tools of the devil, and it's high time that that fact was broadcast in any and every venue possible.

Here is that mother's letter:

Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a Gay son, and I’ve taken enough from you good people. I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda”, and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant! You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.

My firstborn son started suffering at the hands of the moral little thugs from your moral, upright families from the time he was in the First Grade. He was physically and verbally abused from First Grade straight through high school because he was perceived to be Gay. He never professed to be Gay or had any association with anything Gay, but he had the misfortune not to walk or have gestures like the other boys. He was called “f*g” incessantly . . .

In high school, while your children were doing what kids that age should be doing, mine labored over a suicide note, drafting and redrafting it to be sure his family knew how much he loved them. My sobbing 17-year-old tore the heart out of me as he choked out that he just couldn’t bear to continue living any longer, that he didn’t want to be Gay, and that he couldn’t face a life without dignity.

You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair! I don’t know why my son is Gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that!

At the core of all your misguided beliefs is the belief that this could never happen to you, that there is some kind of subculture out there that people have chosen to join . . . if it can happen to my family, it can happen to yours, and you won’t get to choose. Whether it is genetic or whether something occurs during a critical time of fetal development, I don’t know. I can only tell you with an absolute certainty that it is inborn!

If you want to tout your own morality, you’d best come up with something more substantive than your heterosexuality. You did nothing to earn it; it was given to you. If you disagree, I would be interested in hearing your story, because my own heterosexuality was a blessing I received with no effort whatsoever on my part. It is so woven into the very soul of me that nothing could ever change it. (Here's a question) for those of you who reduce sexual orientation to a simple choice, a character issue, a bad habit or something that can be changed by a 10-step program . . . are you saying that your own sexual orientation is nothing more than something you have chosen, that you could change it at will? If that’s not the case, then why would you suggest that someone else can?

You invoke the memory of the brave people who have fought on the battlefield for this great country, saying that they didn’t give their lives so that the “homosexual agenda” could tear down the principles they died defending. My 83-year-old father fought in some of the most horrific battles of World War II, was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart. He shakes his head in sadness at the life his grandson has had to live. He says he fought alongside homosexuals (sic) in those battles, that they did their part and bothered no one. One of his best friends in the service was Gay, and he never knew it until the end, and when he did find out, it mattered not at all . . .

You religious folk just can’t bear the thought that as my son emerges from the Hell that was his childhood, he might like to find a lifelong companion and have a measure of happiness. It offends your sensibilities that he should request the right to visit that companion in the hospital, to make medical decisions for him, or to benefit from tax laws governing inheritance. "How dare he?" you say. These outrageous requests would threaten the very existence of your family, would undermine the sanctity of marriage. You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant! God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin!
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

"Duck Dynasty: Hollywood, Go Screw Yourself"

The relative acceptance of homophobia is part and parcel of the relative acceptance of racism, which has been allowed to again rear its ugly head. When we fight against discrimination of one minority group, we are fighting against discrimination of all minority groups. Therefore, it is in everybody's interests to fight against homophobia and racism, and boycott businesses and media outlets that in any way support such discrimination.

Too many people are dismissing the action of A&E at reinstating Phil Robertson so soon after suspending him from Duck Dynasty. It's just a TV show, they say, and we have all of these wins on marriage equality -- and look at Utah! But this is not about, "Oh, we're 'winning,' so who cares about Duck Dynasty? As long as our so-called "friends" in Hollywood promote and tolerate this kind of hate for money, we've not won much. Tomorrow they'll throw an AIDS benefit to assuage their guilt, or come out and say some wonderful things about LGBT people, while making millions of dollars by promoting hate against us, shrouded in religious beliefs, and raising America's kids on hate. And the racism they're promoting with Phil Robertson, who posited that blacks were happier under Jim Crow, while they claim to be so inclusive and anti-racist, is appalling, and shows the height of Hollywood hypocrisy.

 [For the full article, see here.]
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Saturday, December 21, 2013

"UTAH MAY BE THE 18TH MARRIAGE EQUALITY STATE"

This turn of events is particularly compelling, given that this ruling is applicable to Utah, the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which, along with the Roman Catholic Church, are the largest homophobic religious organizations that have put out tremendous amounts of money in seeking to defeat marriage equality.

Utah may be the 18th marriage equality state, although it is becoming difficult to figure out how to number them.  Today, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby granted an injunction to the plaintiffs in Kitchen v. Herbert, a federal constitutional challenge to Utah’s statutory and state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.  Shelby, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is a “fundamental right” under the 14th Amendment, and that the state had shown no rational basis to deny this right to same-sex couples.  Shelby did not stay his order, and the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples shortly after the decision was announced, although the state might still file an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Two Utah lawyers, Peggy Tomsic and James E. Magleby, filed suit on behalf of three same-sex couples, two of which had been denied marriage licenses by county clerks, while the third couple was married in Iowa and is seeking recognition of their marriage in their domicile state of Utah.  The case moved quickly to summary judgment, the cross-motions being argued just weeks ago.  Judge Shelby’s opinion may be the first ruling to reference yesterday’s marriage equality ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court, in a footnote listing the states that have adopted marriage equality through court decisions.  It is definitely the first federal court ruling since the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor to hold that same-sex couples have a federal constitutional right to marry, guaranteed by the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses.


[To read the full article, see here.]  This article is worth reading in full.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

"NEW SCIENCE CONFIRMS HOMOPHOBIC MEN HAVE INTENSE HOMOSEXUAL IMPULSES"

[The study] asked heterosexal men how comfortable and anxious they are around gay men. Based on these scores, they then divided these men into two groups: men that are homophobic, and men who are not. These men were then shown three, four-minute videos. One video depicted straight sex, one depicted lesbian sex and one depicted gay male sex. While this was happening, a device was attached to each participant’s penis. This device has been found to be triggered by sexual arousal, but not other types of arousal (such as nervousness, or fear – arousal often has a very different meaning in psychology than in popular usage). When viewing lesbian sex and straight sex, both the homophobic and the non-homophobic men showed increased penis circumference. For gay male sex, however, only the homophobic men showed heightened penis arousal. Heterosexual men with the most anti-gay attitudes, when asked, reported not being sexually aroused by gay male sex videos. But, their penises reported otherwise. Homophobic men were the most sexually aroused by gay male sex acts.
[See here]

I wrote about this phenomenon a few years ago.  Whenever I hear a rabid homophobe, the first thing I think is that that person is gay him/herself!

Sigmund Freud called this phenomenon "Reaction Formation."  Reaction formation occurs when one has an internal conflict and seeks to resolve that conflict by vociferously asserting the very opposite of what he/she actually feels.

So, whenever you hear a rabid homophobe, realize that that person may very well likely be gay!
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Monday, October 7, 2013

CHURCHES MUST FORFEIT TAX-EXEMPT STATUS


As I’ve often contended, there are two venues in which civil and sacramental rights for LGBT people must be fought: the courts, and homophobic churches the influence of which cannot be underestimated. In the latter venue, peaceful and continual picketing during services of selected homophobic churches in each city or jurisdiction, showing how their false gospel of exclusion is antithetical to the Gospel of grace, faith, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness, should be undertaken.

When you hit, or threaten to hit, discriminatory institutions in the pocketbook, we might reasonably expect them to tone down their hateful rhetoric and discriminatory actions; withholding funds, such as removing churches’ tax-exempt status, can be a major way of gutting the homophobic rhetoric and actions that exists in many, if not most, denominations and churches, because those churches would then lack sufficient funds to bankroll the prevention of equal civil rights as has hitherto existed. For the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to give just two examples, to enjoy tax exempt status is, in my opinion, a profound injustice!

I am a Christian who is quite theologically conservative, and not only don’t I see any warrant to prevent same-sex marriage, or justify any type of homophobia, in the Bible, I am also adamant about the need for the separation of Church and State.

Currently, the Church and the State have become so enmeshed with each other that most “conservative” churches extol as virtues Americanism, patriotism, militarism, and capitalism. Indeed, most of the institutional Church is a handmaiden of the State, and often parrots the ideology of the power elite in secular society, and does so by calling it “biblical.”

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth! If anything, the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, subscribes to anything but capitalism, as can be easily seen when reading Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-37.

In any case, it’s a profound tragedy that it’s quite likely that if you ask the average person to say the first word that comes to his/her mind when the word “Christian” is said, “Love” is not likely to be that word! We’re far more likely to hear words such as “sin” and “discrimination,” thanks to the perversion of the Gospel of grace (the only Gospel to be found in Christianity) that exists in most of the institutional Church.
It is crucial that discrimination, be it in the religious or secular arena, be taken to the judiciary, and not pathetically taken to the public to win their votes on this or any civil rights matter! And, we must do our best to remove public funding of church and para-church organizations.

After all, if clergy within denominations and churches really have faith in God to provide for their needs, they don’t need tax-exemption to help fund their operation!
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Monday, August 12, 2013

WE MUST BOYCOTT RUSSIA AS HOST OF THE OLYMPICS


Mr Putin signed a new bill into law in June banning "homosexual propaganda" - making it illegal to give anyone under 18 information about homosexuality.

Anyone deemed to be promoting gay rights, or "non-traditional relationships" to young people in Russia could now be arrested and fined, or in the case of foreigners, detained and deported.
Critics say the law is intentionally vaguely-worded and part of a broader crackdown on gay rights in Russia.

The country’s sports minister has said the law will apply to athletes and spectators at the Sochi games, due to be held in the Russian Black Sea resort next February.

In his open letter, Stephen Fry said: "The IOC absolutely must take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent against the barbaric, fascist law that Putin has pushed through the Duma.

"An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 on Sochi is simply essential.
"Stage them elsewhere - in Utah, Lillyhammer, anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.

[See here.]

Despite moral weaklings like President Obama who thinks that we should still participate in the Olympics to be held in Russia the homophobia of which matches that of many backward African countries, I think it is essential that we make a definitive moral statement that once and for all takes the moral high ground.  And the only moral high ground one could take is to boycott Russia's hosting the Olympics!

Should we participate in the Olympics in Russia, we would be complicit in lending legitimacy to Russia's systematic and legally enshrined imprisonment of LGBT people and allies; giving tacit permission for its citizens to bash and even kill LGBT people.

The best way we can show our revulsion at Russia's legalized homophobia, as well as support all LGBT people and allies everywhere, is to make a definitive statement that we will have no patience with any country that would cause untold harm to its LGBT citizens.  Moreover, by holding the Olympics in a place other than Russia would cost Russia a lot of credibility, and we have seen in the past that one of the best ways to make a definitive statement, and even some gains, about matters of equal rights is to publicly embarrass the oppressor.

And to put an additional and finer point on it, any LGBT athlete or ally, despite their rationalizations, who participates in, or attends, the Olympics should they be held in Russia, is the equivalent of an Uncle Tom during the eras of slavery and segregation in the U.S.
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

THERE MUST BE NO HOMOPHOBIC CHURCHES

Now that the Supreme Court has struck down DOMA, and stated that the proponents of Prop. 8 had no standing in the matter, thereby paving the way for same-sex marriage in California, I can imagine that many professing Christians will harp on their mantra that they are being persecuted; that religious liberty has been threatened by these rulings.  In this connection, I want to reprint an article I wrote several years ago, that I also gave as a sermon, that puts the lie to those assertions:

                                        
"…O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." (Isaiah 3:12)
"…he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry." (Isaiah 5:7) 

Many years ago, I was asked by a pastor of a Presbyterian Church to speak to the congregation and community members who would attend as to why gay people should not be ordained to the ministry. Conventionally reading the Bible, I saw such words as “abomination” and “against nature” ostensibly associated with homosexuality, and I thought it was a no-brainer. To my current embarrassment, I gave that speech. 

Subsequent to giving that speech, I started to think more deeply about the issue and asked myself the question, “Why would someone voluntarily choose to become part of a despised minority group?” I started searching the Scriptures, looking up the original languages to see what they meant and, more importantly, what they didn’t mean. I also read extra-biblical sources on the subject and finally decided that the Bible not only did not condemn same-sex loving relationships but, in fact, tacitly affirmed them.
I examined the relationship between David and Jonathan and saw that even a cursory reading of the biblical account of their relationship showed King David, called a man after God’s own heart (1Samuel 13:14), to have been at the very least a bisexual. (1Sam. 20:30-31; 41-42; 2Sam. 1:26; 9:1) 

Moreover, in Matthew 8, a centurion beseeches Jesus to heal his servant. The typical Greek word that is translated “servant,” although a more accurate translation is “slave,” is doulos. However, in Matthew 8, the Greek word that is translated in the King James Version of the Bible as “servant” is pais and, given this account as recorded in Luke 7 that says that this slave (doulos) was “dear unto him” (Luke 7:2), it may very well be translated “slave boy.” 

The term “slave boy” was a term that was commonly used to describe one who was in a homosexual relationship in those times. That may well be why the centurion was so concerned about this particular slave. (If he was a young boy, this would be considered pedophilia, and not condoned by the Bible.) This being a reasonable and probable translation in Matthew 8 given the context (Such as seen in Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation in the Language of the People.), it is interesting that Jesus never condemned the centurion’s relationship with his slave boy, and He had the perfect opportunity to do so if He felt that their relationship was in any way sinful or inappropriate. Jesus merely commended the centurion on his faith and promptly proceeded to heal the man’s slave boy. 

The legalists and the self-righteous, smug fundamentalist professing Christians, who seem to monopolize the media, don’t speak for Christianity—at least not the Christianity that I know. These purveyors of a false Gospel impose their prejudices on the Bible, selectively picking certain verses that they feel affirm those prejudices, and preach a message of legalism and perfectionism that is diametrically opposed to the Gospel of grace, faith, love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness. 

The Apostle Paul, who adamantly fought legalism (Acts 15; Ephesians 2:8-9), saved his harshest words for those who preach a false Gospel. He said in Galatians 1:8 concerning those who preach a false Gospel, “…let him be accursed.” He felt so strongly about those who preach legalism rather than the Gospel of grace that he repeated himself in the very next verse. 
To be “accursed” is to be damned by God! In other words, he wrote, “God damn them.” (Galatians 1:8-9) Once can’t use any stronger language than that!

These preachers of a false Gospel have wittingly or unwittingly attempted to hijack the true Gospel and redefine Christianity in their own twisted image of God, the Bible, the world, and of themselves. They make Christians look like a pack of hate-mongering, harsh, judgmental freaks and I terribly resent it! 

Every single church and denomination is obligated to embrace and welcome into its fellowship everyone who worships Christ as his or her savior, and afford each such person full rights of inclusion, including the partaking of every sacrament of the Church, as befit members of the Body of Christ! Yet, many denominations are struggling with issues surrounding the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (hereafter to be called GLBT) people. The struggle is said to largely center on biblical interpretation regarding gay people and their relationships, as well as Christian tradition, despite the fact that Jesus says we make void the Word of God by our traditions. (Matthew 15:3) 

Many people who seek to deny GLBT people rights of ordination, marriage, and other rights and privileges that accrue to others, may be well-intentioned, but they are misinformed. The root of this misinformation is largely the religious leadership that seeks to impose their world-views that bespeak ignorance and insensitivity upon not only other people, but upon the Bible and upon God Himself. 

Just as Peter’s experience of Cornelius in Acts 10 showed him that even Gentiles were receiving God’s Spirit, we must realize that GLBT Christians can receive, and many have received, God’s Spirit as well, as the reception of God’s Spirit has absolutely nothing to do with one’s sexual orientation. Many people in the Church still think of GLBT people as Peter and Paul once thought of Gentiles. Yet God told them, and us, “…What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” (Acts 10:15) 

Peter and Paul called the Jewish Christian church in their day to not merely tolerate Gentile Christians, but welcome their full inclusion. Similarly, in our day we are being called by God to not merely tolerate GLBT Christians, but welcome their full inclusion in every aspect of the Church and society. 

Had it not been for adherence to God’s revelation concerning inclusiveness, Paul would not have had a ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47), and had it not been for Paul and his ministry, Christianity would likely be but a mere sect of Judaism, rather than its fulfillment! We must obey God; not man-made dogmas, rules, regulations, and traditions! 

On June 17, 2004, Reuters reported, “The Roman Catholic Church in Massachusetts is considering firing gay employees who marry their same-sex partners in the only American state where such unions are legal, a church official said on Thursday.” Hence, even though the law in Massachusetts permits same-sex marriage, the Roman Catholic Church, viewing gay relationships as “intrinsically disordered,” may seek to discriminate against those who take advantage of that law. 

Given the extensive sex abuse scandals that have rocked that denomination, it would seem prudent for it to take the beam out of its own eye before tackling what isn’t even a speck in another’s eye. Yet, sexuality and sexual orientation are such highly charged topics for them, and most others, that they may feel free to disregard the law and discriminate against people who seek to make a lifetime commitment to each other before God and the community through the sacrament of marriage. 

Marriage is a matter of love, but also a matter of legal and property rights! Just ask anyone who has gone through a divorce! As citizens, GLBT people have every right to partake of the same rights and privileges, as well as the responsibilities, as other citizens. 

Why would we allow a bunch of celibate men, men who seemingly choose to deny a core part of the self, a deep primal urge and vehicle for the _expression of deepest intimacy between two people, be allowed to define romantic and sexual reality for us? In this vein, we must ask, “Why are so many ‘religious’ people, clergy and non-clergy alike, so obsessed with others’ love and sexual lives that they read into Scripture, taking a few passages out of context and without regard to the original languages, justification for discriminating, stigmatizing, demonizing, and oppressing GLBT people, which judgment and discrimination is clearly un-Scriptural?” Their prejudices have clearly blinded them to the biblical mandate to love others and not judge or oppress them! 

The Gospel of love trumps any particular verse or verses of Scripture, particularly those taken out of context and interpreted without regard to the original languages. In Leviticus, the men who sought to gang rape the two angels weren't gay, as Lot wouldn't have offered his virgin daughters to them. If they were gay, young women certainly would have been no inducement to them. The issue was gang rape, abusing others, not sexual orientation or gay relationships. 

Indeed, whenever Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in Scripture, homosexuality is never mentioned as its sin. Rather, the sins that are dealt with are inhospitality and not taking care of the poor. Moreover, if the two angels who visited Lot’s house had been women, it is unlikely that those professing Christians who discriminate against GLBT people would be condemning heterosexuality! 

The word translated "homosexual" in some translations (Such as the New English Bible: New Testament.) is arsenekoitai, an obscure Greek word, which actually means "male bed." It probably refers to male cult prostitution (See the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.) that was not uncommon in much of the ancient world, where sex was sometimes a worshipful act to various pagan deities and to have the crops grow. Paul was most likely talking about the use of sex for these purposes. In this connection, it is important to note that the word “homosexual” does not appear in any of the biblical manuscripts, as the term was coined in the late 19th century, and first appeared in an English Bible translation in the 1946 edition of the Revised Standard Version.

Moreover, prohibitions against homosexual activity in ancient Israel was done in the context of a tribal society living on the edge, surrounded by enemies, that had to "be fruitful and multiply" in order for it to survive. Therefore, all types of sexual activity had to be geared to procreation. The sin of Onan, coitus interruptus, was to do otherwise. (Genesis 38:9-10) 
Romans 1:21-32 that is erroneously used to condemn gay people talks about those who turned their backs on God. Even though many professing Christians and clergy have turned GLBT people away from the church, many of these people still worship God. Many of them have long, fulfilling relationships. For example, one gay couple who attend our church has been together for 40 years. 

In any case, what those who quote from the first chapter of Romans to erroneously condemn gay people apparently don't read is the very next verse: "Therefore Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things." (Romans 2:1) 

The word "abomination" frequently refers to anything the Gentiles did. For example, eating fish without scales was an abomination. Also, the Greek words that are translated "against nature," para physin, are also used in reference to God when He brought the Gentiles into the covenant relationship with Him. (Romans 11:24) Hence, the term “against nature” is not necessarily meant to be pejorative; may well refer in Romans 1:26-27 to heterosexuals who engage in homosexual acts as seen in cult prostitution. 
In 1Corinthians 6:9 the word "effeminate" is used. The Greek word is malakoi, and it means "soft." It's used elsewhere in Scripture to denote soft clothing. In this connection, it probably means people of soft morals or people who lack courage. 

It is important to realize that homosexuality is never mentioned in the Ten Commandments, never written about by the prophets, and never discussed by Jesus. If it were that important, it would have likely been dealt with in at least one of these contexts! 

Yet these facts, and many others that have been put forth, are not likely to change the minds and hearts of those who actively discriminate against GLBT people. Those who spend a great deal of their time condemning other people “in the name of God,” by picking and choosing selected verses of Scripture without seeming regard to context and original languages, may well be materially and psychologically gaining a great deal from these endeavors, all the while claiming that they are being faithful to the Bible. 
Just one example as to how these people don't seem to be as ‘Bible believing’ as they would have us believe: Jesus specifically condemned divorce and remarriage, saying that those who did so, absent fornication, were themselves committing adultery. (Matthew 19:9) I don't hear many homophobic clergy condemning these people and telling them that they should leave their current spouse and either reunite with their previous spouse or remain single. Nor should they! My point is that many of their constituents are made up of these people who give them tithes, offerings, and contributions and they don't want to bite the hands that feed them. They have, however, helped drive many GLBT people away from the church, so these people become viewed as “safe” targets to persecute. 

The Gospel of love negates any attempt to misrepresent, stigmatize, demonize, or oppress other people. Those who seek to exclude GLBT people from partaking fully in the life of the Church and society have missed the message of the Gospel! 

In any case, it's inappropriate to blindly apply the cultural practices of ancient societies to contemporary society, as it does not do justice to the Bible; the Bible makes no such claims for itself; to do so cheapens the Bible. As Peter J. Gomes wrote in his superb book, The Good Book: Reading The Bible With Mind And Heart, when we read the Bible we must take account of what it says, what it means, the text, the subtext, the context, what we bring to the text, and what we take out of the text. Without such examination, we have the egregious example of many Black churches, ministers and lay people, aligning themselves with the KKK to fight against same-sex marriage. 

What is interesting in this context is that the KKK has demonstrated against same-sex marriage. So, the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (that, even with its checkered sexual history, talks of traditional family values) and others who oppose equal rights for gay people are aligning themselves with the KKK that opposes equality for all citizens. And these professing Christians have the temerity to do so "in the name of God." 

For far too long we have listened to people who just uncritically assume that what they heard from the pulpit or Sunday school, as ignorant and hateful as it may be, regarding GLBT people is true. Being gay is not a lifestyle! It's a life! It's not a choice, any more than being straight is a choice! 

Moreover, although each minority group has its own particular history, each has suffered from misinformation, discrimination, stigma, and oppression. Unfortunately, the Church has been the last institution in society to accept the disenfranchised and "least among us." As has been noted for many years, the Church has been, and continues to be, the most racially segregated institution that exists on Sunday mornings in our society. In addition, the major justification for oppressing minority groups has been appeal to the Bible. Witness the subjugation of women, slavery, and segregation. 

Even the most "Bible believing" Christian would not condone such biblical practices as stoning to death adulterers, stoning to death those who work on the Sabbath, requiring all women to wear long hair, women not talking in church, women not teaching men, not wearing mixed fibers in our clothes, etc. Yet these are all taught in the Bible! 

The Bible is part of God's revelation to us. It gives us a glimpse into a small part of God's heart and a few of His many dimensions. God didn't stop talking to His children 2,000 years ago! He still speaks to us regarding His will for our lives, and to proclaim in each generation, in and for His name, the cause of justice, and to manifest Jesus’ love toward others. 

God bless the work of Soulforce that seeks justice for GLBT people, the United Federation of the Metropolitan Community Churches that largely minister to GLBT Christians, the Online magazine, "Whosoever," for which I have written a great deal, that is primarily geared to GLBT Christians, and to the work of the late Rembert Truluck (Steps to Recovery From Bible Abuse) and Rick Brentlinger (Gay Christian 101) who point out the destructive aspects of Bible abuse and how misuse of the Bible has caused the untold suffering of GLBT people. It is these, and other such ministries, that have undoubtedly saved, and immeasurably enriched, the lives of countless GLBT people, Christian and non-Christian alike, who were previously wracked by feelings of guilt, shame, self-loathing, and condemnation, hitherto believing the lies and ignorant pronouncements emanating from much of the Church. 

The seemingly oracular pronouncements regarding GLBT people and their relationships by those who parade their ignorance as “Godliness” have helped lead to the suicides, bashings, and murders of countless GLBT people. Indeed, in this connection, it is estimated that gay youth have at least three times the suicide rate of non-gay youth. 

Make no mistake, every drop of blood shed by GLBT people either through suicide, bashing, or murder, are on the hands of all those religious leaders, their followers, and their allies who spew forth their ignorance, prejudice, and hate against GLBT people and their relationships! These wolves in sheep’s clothing take the Bible, God’s love letter to His children, and selectively and perversely use it as a club to condemn others, and deny GLBT people full inclusion in the Church and in society. 

The tradition-bound parts of the Church have so indoctrinated people, many of whom have never even set foot in a house of worship, that many people even disown their own children when they “come out” and divulge their sexual orientation to those whom they thought unconditionally loved and cherished them. There are many children living on the streets because their own parents trusted ignorant clergy and their followers over their God-given duty and privilege to nurture and embrace their own children! 

The Church should concentrate on the real sins that deserve our attention and that cry out to God for redress, such as invading another country on false pretenses; the working poor who can't afford medical insurance; the Supreme Court ruling that people can't sue their insurance company in state court for denying needed medical services; many elderly people having to decide whether to buy food or medicine; the gigantic rip off perpetrated by drug companies, hospitals, and the medical establishment on sick and vulnerable people. Why not focus on and address issues such as these, instead of obsessing on who loves who and who sleeps with whom? Such obsession tells us much more about the pathetic and moribund state of much of the Church than it does about the reality of the lives of GLBT people. 

Indeed, those who seek to exclude others from full fellowship in church, and in secular society, commit the greatest sin of all: the sin of pride. Jesus “…spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14) 

Throughout our lives, we have been bombarded with ignorant, homophobic messages from much of the Church world that don’t resonate with, and do contradict, the revelation of God in the Person and words of Jesus! Let’s not let the ignorant, the haters and hate-mongers, many of whom gain psychological, social, and financial advantages by their condemnation and exclusion of GLBT people, define Christianity for us. 

We must rise above their ignorant and hateful pronouncements, cynically made "in the name of God," "tradition," "church law," and "family values," and finally practice Christianity. Hear Jesus' call for inclusion of all of His people, and let's fulfill His mandate for us to love our neighbor by embracing in every facet of our lives His GLBT children, whom He gave as a gift to the church and society to be cherished every bit as much as He cherishes us.

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