I've omitted the author's name and email address for obvious reasons:
Sir, You are so far off on the article,'Honoring Gays'. Have you not read in the Holy Bible, Romans 1:18 to the end of this chapter. How can you preach in another article that we must not assign what we think a verse should say but take it in context and preach this about people 'are' born gay. Do you mean to say that your creator and Savior made a mistake? You cannopt be a real Christian but one of those spiritualist-types.Surrender to Him before it`s too late.
My response was as follows:
Have you not read Romans 2:1 which provides the context for the verse to which you referred? If you are truly interested in exploring this issue, I suggest you read some of the articles and sites in the Links section of my blog. I once felt the same way as you do until I studied this issue, looking at the Greek and the context of the Bible verses erroneously used to call Gay people "mistakes." Regarding my "surrendering to Him before it's too late," I won't even dignify that assertion by a response. Best wishes, Jerry Maneker.
Notice, in his email, his strong belief that: 1. Gay people are "mistakes"; 2. that I am implying that God makes mistakes when God creates LGBT people; 3. that one can't be "a real Christian" if one sees Gay people as deserving of full civil and sacramental rights; 4. that because I fight for LGBT rights, I have not surrendered to God; 4. that I must surrender to God "before it's too late."
I will return to his original email to me below, but the following is his email in reply to my response to his original email:
Jerry, I am pleasantly surprised that you replied so quickly. Give your self a pat on the back from me. How can you stand on your opinion that people are born gay,they are not. Did you not read the scripture I quoted ? Look at Lev.18:22 and 1 John 2:29. If a practicing homosexual confesses to be a Christian he is not.But if he is striving in all sincerity to break from it because he has read in God`s Word that it is sin then I accept him. [Notice, how he is placing himself in the role of God by this last phrase.] I am not judging him of my own opion but of the Word of God. Right now, I see you as an anti-christ for you are 'approving' them of their sin and going so far as to inform them that God accepts them and they`ll go to heaven. Look at it this way; picture the scene and imagine Jesus there. Can you se Him giving approval ? If you cannot then you are wrong . A friend, Jim
Notice, he sees me as an "anti-christ," but he calls himself my "friend." This kind of response that I receive from religiously based homophobes is not at all unusual.
He seems to have become a bad man, as he does say bad things about innocent members of a minority group, and he is one who truly believes that Gay people are "mistakes" and "sinners," and that someone such as me, who professes to be a Christian, can't possibly be a Christian as I am fighting for Gay rights; since from his point of view I'm working against God, I therefore must be "an anti-christ."
As suggested above, he is putting himself in the role of God; he feels that his interpretation of Scripture is infallible and he is immune to any alternate interpretations of the very same Bible verses he erroneously uses to "justify" his false gospel of vilification and exclusion; he doesn't even suggest that he read other sources that I suggested he read in my reply to him.
Clearly, it is a mistake to try to reason with such a person, as he is a true believer who is immune to ample biblical and extra-biblical evidence that run contrary to his views. (The very best book dealing with this subject is the eminently readable, yet scholarly, and comprehensive book by Rick Brentlinger entitled, Gay Christian 101, that I strongly urge you to buy, whether or not you are a Christian.)
So, Jim is not only committing the sin of "idolatry," a violation of one of the Ten Commandments, by worshiping the Bible, but he is committing an even worse sin in idolizing his own interpretation of selected verses of the Bible, thereby worshiping himself. Hence, his telling sentence: "But if he is striving in all sincerity to break from it because he has read in God`s Word that it is sin then I accept him."
He doesn't care to realize that God accepts (and loves) all of God's creation; we are not to judge anyone; he lacks faith by not knowing that God doesn't make mistakes by creating God's LGBT children. This man, like all true believers who think that they have a corner on the truth, is showing a tremendous lack of faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
This man has drunk the Kool Aid, amply served by most clergy within the institutional Church, who feel the exact same way, and teach their followers to interpret the Bible in the very same way, that Jim does.
Jim is not alone in his faulty, literalist and non-contextual understanding of Scripture; his lack of understanding of the Greek word that is falsely translated as "homosexual" also helps blind him to the reality of what it means to be Gay, just as the fact that the very term "homosexual" doesn't appear in any biblical manuscript as the term wasn't even coined until the late 19th Century.
In any case, I want to discuss his first email to me, dealing with the above numbered items that might better help us understand the fallacy that lies behind the animus against LGBT people held by religiously-based homophobes, or those who use the Bible and/or religion to deny Gay people dignity, thereby traversing one of the Ten Commandments against bearing false witness; who seek to deprive Gay people of full and equal civil and sacramental rights, thereby traversing Jesus' Commandments for us to love and not judge others.
Matthew 22:35-40 (New International Version)
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two Commandments."
Pretty simple, huh?
Yet so many professing Christians refuse to understand the only Gospel to be found in Christianity, the Gospel of grace; refuse to exercise faith, without which it is impossible to please God; refuse to love and not judge others!
In reference to Jim's first email to me, he states:
1. "Gay people are mistakes": He is suggesting that God makes mistakes by creating Gay people; being Gay is a freely taken choice, which contradicts virtually all of the scientific literature. Here, he is setting himself up as an arbiter of "the truth," appealing to his own interpretation of the Bible to affirm his position on this matter. Moreover, he is in "good company", in that most of the people who claim to be "Bible-believing Christians" would heartily agree with him. They may be sincere, but they are sincerely wrong!
2. "I am implying that God makes mistakes when God creates LGBT people": Actually, Jim, and others like him, are actually stating that God makes mistakes when God creates Gay people. Even forgetting the scientific literature that shows that sexual orientation is not a freely made choice, who is Jim, or anyone else for that matter, to suggest that any other human being is "a mistake?" That assertion alone contradicts Jesus' Commandment to us to "Love your neighbor as yourself." I don't see much love coming from homophobic professing Christians! Certainly, there is not much love in the Jims of the world who would call me "an anti-christ"; assert that I'm not "a real Christian"; make the judgment that Gay people are sinners, and by being Gay are not in the will of God, and will, therefore, not go to heaven. It should be clear to anyone with an ounce of sense that Jim is placing himself in the role of God in deciding who is acceptable to him; who is acceptable to God; who is a Christian; who is a sinner; who is going to heaven! And, on top of all that, he is clearly wrong in his understanding of the Scripture verses he uses to deny dignity to Gay people.
3. "One can't be 'a real Christian' if one sees Gay people as deserving of full civil and sacramental rights": Jim, like many other like-minded professing Christians, seems to need a sense of certainty in life and impose that sense of certainty onto others. Their need for certainty in a very uncertain world, and the fear that is engendered in them by the many changes, gray areas, and ambiguities of life, is what largely drives them to tenaciously dig in their heels, and fight to impose their view of the world onto others. Their need for certainty also provokes in them the need to create an out-group in order to enhance in-group solidarity with other like-minded people. And their need for in-group solidarity often provokes in them the need to paint themselves as "victims" of others (e.g., portraying Christianity as being under attack by "the Gay Agenda."), as they unconsciously and/or consciously reason that there can't be an "us" without a "them." So, no matter how irrational their pronouncements in the context of Christianity, the Gospel becomes subordinate to their psychological and social needs for meaning in life that often results in the oppression of others "in the name of God," akin to those of White Supremacists who often partake of the very same mind-set as do strident homophobes.
4. "Because I fight for LGBT rights, I have not surrendered to God": The fact is that it is God Who put, and still puts, in my heart the need to fight this good fight of faith! (1Timothy 6:12) The reason I have a fire in the belly for equal civil and sacramental rights for LGBT people is that I am a Christian, and a theologically conservative one at that! No one who is a Christian can oppress people, either rhetorically or by action or by silence amidst the oppression of others! No Christian can advocate discrimination against others! No Christian can assent to second-class citizenship for anyone in civil society and/or in regard to fellowship in any institution that calls itself a "church!" As Jesus says: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35) One can be a decent and loving human being and not be a Christian! However, one can't be a Christian without being a decent and loving human being! If a person is not a decent and loving human being, he/she has no right to call him/herself a Christian! And no one who calls Gay people "mistakes," who says that one can't be Gay and be a Christian, who advocates denial of full and equal civil and sacramental rights to Gay people, who says that Gay people and advocates for equality for LGBT people are not going to heaven, is clearly not a decent and loving person. And a tragedy is that Jim's sentiments are shared by many, if not most, within the institutional Church that has blood on its hands due to homophobic rhetoric and actions that are, in my opinion, responsible for most of the untold sufferings, suicides, assaults, and murders of LGBT people!
5. "I must surrender to God 'before it's too late'": Given the fact that the disciple of Christ is assured that he/she was chosen by God to be God's possession, for God's inscrutable reasons, before the worlds were formed, as can be seen in many parts of Scripture, such as Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 1:4, not only does Jim show himself to be ignorant of one of the most basic features of Christianity, but he is playing God in asserting that by my advocacy of LGBT rights I cannot be "a real Christian" and that he judges that I have not surrendered to God, and that I'm not going to heaven when I die.
Talk about chutzpa!
As I've taught my children, and my students when I was teaching:
Never let other people define your reality for you or put you into bondage to their ways of thinking!
To live the "abundant life" that Jesus promises us, we must remember that in the Christian life, as in life itself, one size doesn't fit all!
And, tragically, there is no reasoning with the homophobic Jims of the world, of which there are all too many!