September 25, 2020

A Person Not A Label

mouthUPDATE: The comments on this post are closed. If they are opened again, I will only publish DIRECT responses to the post. Speeches about specific sexual sins and how much we need to shout about them will not be published. I am embarassed by a good bit of what is on here now, but it illustrates PERFECTLY what I wrote about in the post: we are willing to reduce sexual sinners to nothing more than behavior if it makes us feel righteous. God help us.

And I’m not sure what the gay lifestyle is, really. The gay people I know have the same boring, day-to-day, bill-paying suburban lifestyle I do. They just do it with someone of the same sex. -Jjoe, IM commenter

Categorizing people by their sins, or by any single characteristic, is a risky business. We ought to consider the dangerous edge we walk when we do it.

There’s something very uncomfortable for me when Christians begin talking about “single issue” human beings. Even when the persons being discussed are labeling themselves with a single label. It bothers me.

I realize there are times we have no choice but to talk about people in terms of a single issue, characteristic or behavior. But does anyone else have the same feeling that I do: if you aren’t careful, you are on the road to dehumanization.

There are, for example, a group of people who have decided to identify themselves primarily by their GLBT sexual behavior. I understand how, in THEIR worldview, that makes sense. In my worldview, it’s got big problems all it’s own.

Oh, I know that Paul does it in I Cor 6 and Romans 1 and several other places. I’m not going to an extreme here on the simple use of language. “Some of you were…..” can’t be said any other way.

But when you are at the lunch table with a few Christian friends, and they start saying “gays” or “liberals” or “pro-aborts,” does anyone else get the feeling that we are heading down the same road that ends up saying “Jews,” “Muslims” and “Blacks” in ways that are shorthand for thinking of members of these groups as somehow a bit less than the same kinds of human beings we are?

Language is powerful in the way it accommodates sin. And we are quick to justify what we are saying as “only words.” You can dehumanize your spouse with a few syllables, and then defend yourself by saying it was “just what I say when I’m mad.”

Commenter Jjoe hits something right on the wood of the bat: the “gay lifestyle” is either incomprehensible as a descriptive term- dozens of people are living the “gay lifestyle” around you and you probably have no idea- or it is reducing a person to a sexual act. Even if some mistaken notion of fighting their perception of dehumanization by those who disapprove leads them to own that term, does that mean that those of us who believe all people are made by God and loved by the crucified/risen Christ should adopt that language?

In my opinion, the usual reason to adopt that language is to put the human element at arms length and to over emphasize the wrong thing entirely.

Are people their skin color? Their political party? Their sexual behavior? Their age? Their religion?

Christians might want to check in with what some folks are thinking when they refer to “fundamentalist Christians.” They are a few steps away from declaring you so different from the rest of the “normal” human race that you may need to be controlled by laws. You may like the label for all the right reasons, but check out how the other fellow is using it.

I’m a human being, an American, a father, husband, employee, writer, teacher and many things. I’m also a Christian and I am not defined by anyone’s insistence that their notion of Christians as a threat determines what I will do or what my place is in the community. Let me be myself, and I’ll show you and tell you how I appropriate “Christian” into my life.

This isn’t relativism. It’s not going the easy, downhill route of making people into an accumulation of labels that allow us to dehumanize them without guilt.

Speak carefully of PERSONS. They are, after all, made in the image of God and loved by him in the Gospel. We say that is what matters most to us. Let’s listen to our own words and look into our own hearts and see if that’s true.

Comments

  1. rampancy says

    And I’m not sure what the gay lifestyle is, really. The gay people I know have the same boring, day-to-day, bill-paying suburban lifestyle I do. They just do it with someone of the same sex. -Jjoe, IM commenter

    Reminds me of a good friend I had for the first year I was in grad school (who I sadly lost touch with when he finished his Masters and went on to greener pastures for his Ph.D). He was gay, and completely understood my feelings of isolation, loneliness and separation that I had, since at that time I just moved to a completely new city with a culture completely different than my own home. He didn’t just dismiss my feelings of frustration and sadness with a non-committal smile and a condescending pat on the head, as the people I knew from my school’s IVCF group did. I really felt like I was genuinely accepted when I was around him. I wonder what that says about the state of attitudes in many Christian communities today.

  2. Austin stated: _”Refering to people as being “gay” is not the same nor on the same road to refering to people as black, Jew, or Hispanic. This hits a basic fundemental issue that has to be addressed. Homosexuality is a choice. Is there some indicators that certain folks might be predispositioned to homosexual activity? Possibly. But there is clear proof that certian people are geneticaly predispostioned to alcholohism too, that does not mean the alcholic has to pick up the beer. Being black, female, Jewish are not choices that people made.”_

    I hope you’re not implying that same sex attractions are a choice. If so, your comments indicate same gender attraction is obviously not something you have experienced and you apparently also fail to listen to the experience of others. As I have stated before I struggle with these attractions, and I also endeavor not to engage in the activities associated with them; because I believe them to be wrong. I definitely did not choose to be gay. Also, regardless of whether one pursues the lifestyle or not, one’s sexual orientation greatly impacts certain parts of an individual’s experience (as I can attest to).

  3. iMonk,
    Right on Brother!
    We’re ALL the Body of Christ, yet we seem more than willing to condemn rather than love anyone who disagrees with OUR Christian worldview. This post really convicted me and I know Im guilty of this behavior.

    Amen.

  4. Savannah says

    Labeling people is a big problem. I came across a blog the other day (one blog led to another, you know how that goes) where Christians were discussing the problem with “the lost”. I expected the discussion to be centered on things like how to share the Good News with unbelievers, how to “be like Christ” to them, in short, how to evangelize them.

    But it was anything but that. It was a about how those that don’t know Christ are “enemies of God”. One Christian woman, her post filled with Scripture verses, ended by saying that there is “no way that a relationship with a lost person cannot dissolve because there is no common ground”. Another stated that although “we should make an effort to be kind to people, we must realize there is no regeneration of spirit that will cause an unbeliever to have selfless love which Christ says is a hallmark of His family. Their love and friendship, must, by definition, be selfish”.

    It went on and on. I was stunned. This was not some weird fringe site. These were evangelical Christians who thought they were backing up their almost xenophobic [not a spot-on word, but that’s almost what it seemed like] opinions with dozens and dozens of verses.

    I was shocked that these people were able to proof-text themselves out of loving other people and sharing the Good News of Christ. I felt like posting and asking if maybe they had ever considered using smoke signals to communicate with the “enemies of God”, as at least they wouldn’t have to see them face to face then. But believe it or not, I restrained myself.

    The kicker was when one man posted that he found out that a Buddhist had once prayed in his (the poster’s) bathroom, and if he ever found out that he was doing that again, he’d kick him out of his house! No one even questioned him about how he came across such information. It was surreal.

    Never in my life have I seen so many labels for people that are just like me, only they haven’t yet yielded their hearts to God.

  5. Ron:

    So now Jesus isn’t enough for salvation?! Wow!

  6. Dan, the conversation assumes we’re talking about two sinners who are on equal footing age-wise and/or level of understanding-wise.

    It’s questionable whether or not a five year old is even capable of sin in general.

    I would go as far to say it’s questionable if Hitler was even sane enough to understand “sin”, and I would even go as far to say his sins may, in the eyes of God, be less than those who were fully sane, knew he was evil, but played along for political/personal gain. But that’s another topic.

    So, assuming we are speaking of two sinners who are on equal footing as far as understanding goes, why do we find it so easy and so supposedly necessary to have a label for those who may be sinning by being openly gay yet we never seem to go around vocally labeling and categorizing those of our neighbors who gossip or overeat or lie regularly?

    The truth is that it’s a little too easy for most of us to get all high and mighty and self righteous when it comes to people who are sinning in ways it’s impossible for us to sin, or who are sinning in ways that are, by their nature, obvious to the general public.

    It’s easy to strike a pious attitude and comment on the two guys holding hands as they walk down the street because a) they’re not us and b) we see the outward “evidence” of their supposed sin.

    Not so easy to do that with the mom of four who looks demure and sweet and attends church regularly but is, say, hitting married-but-curious chatrooms when hubby’s off on a business trip and the kiddies are off to bed, right?

    That’s why this particular label is so very, very dangerous. It creates a sense of those who fall into the category as something “other”.

  7. rampancy says

    Speak carefully of PERSONS.

    That’s something that I find Christians in my experience find difficult to do. Deciding that you want to view someone on “the other side” – be it a Muslim, your biology prof. teaching about Evolution, a “Pro-Choice” activist, that person you knew who voted for Obama, or even that person you know from that denomination you’ve been taught to hate in church for daring to call themselves “a Christian” – is an astonishingly hard thing to do, because to do so means that we might have to change, or even let go of our own presuppositions about how God and Christ work in our lives, or in the greater universe in general. For instance with LGTBQ, if we have to love them and treat them with respect as fellow human beings (as opposed to sexual deviants and tools of Satan to destroy the American family) – doesn’t that mean we have to give up our assumptions of who God is supposed to love and who God is supposed to hate? If God doesn’t work in the way we’ve always assumed, in the way we’ve been taught to accept, where does that leave our faith?

    If you’ve been taught to base your entire foundation for your Christianity and even your belief in your own eternal salvation on those presuppositions, then any idea of letting go of them or even changing and expanding on them is almost unthinkable. I’ve seen this in how Christians in my experience engage with not only with LGTBQ, but Muslims, scientists, women’s rights activists, atheists and agnostics, people with any socio-political or socio-cultural left leanings, Catholics or people outside of their own church/denomination…the list goes on and on.

    The process of excluding and stigmatizing people – “othering” – is a powerful unifying force, and it’s also a very reassuring force. It’s like we as a collective whole are the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, proud that we’re not savage terrorists like the Muslims, sexual deviants like the LGTBQ, idolaters like the Catholics, or socio-political/economic barbarians like people on the Left. I’ve found that a lot of (but certainly not all) Christians I’ve met are so good at slapping labels on people and judging based on that label whether they’re worthy or not of being treated decently as a human being, but don’t seem to think about why they’re doing it or if it even has any rational basis.

    Maybe it’s a rotten and vacuous excuse for me to seriously rethink my position as a “Christian”, but if Christianity is really more about labelling, hating and excluding people than loving and accepting them, I don’t see how anyone can believe in something like that and hope to make a positive contribution to humanity as a whole.

  8. Only 55 comments into the thread and the “yeah buts” are flying and we’ve had our first mention of Hitler already, and I’ve learned a whole bunch of new words and phrases to describe people. Yeee-ha.

  9. So now Jesus isn’t enough for salvation?! Wow!

    You see, this is why many people are so concerned about the condition of the church. Jesse, do you believe people can profess Christ and openly continue in rebellion? I’ve been a Christian for almost 20 years, understand I am a work in progress, and will be until I die. I understand that I sin everyday and constantly need the gospel. I also understand that if I were to openly reject the call to obedience and sanctification that I would be putting myself in peril for the work of Christ is not to be trifled with. Does the cross have the ability to cover any sin? Yes. Does the cross cover those who reject the call to be santified? No.

    We need to move away from easy believism and selective calls on what is clearly sin.

  10. rampancy says

    @Jesse So now Jesus isn’t enough for salvation?! Wow!

    I’m tempted to say that many Christians haven’t rejected Jesus – they’ve just conveniently remade Him in their own image.

  11. Wow! I was talking about generalizations with someone the other day, and they pointed me to Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America.” We discovered a passage that’s so germane to this discussion. I know it’s long, but it’s SO worth the read (P.S. I haven’t already read the comments, so sorry if someone else has brought this passage up). By the way, it was written in the mid-1800s.

    “THE deity does not regard the human race collectively. He surveys at one glance and severally all the beings of whom mankind is composed; and he discerns in each man the resemblances that assimilate him to all his fellows, and the differences that distinguish him from them. God, therefore, stands in no need of general ideas; that is to say, he never feels the necessity of collecting a considerable number of analogous objects under the same form for greater convenience in thinking.

    Such, however, is not the case with man. If the human mind were to attempt to examine and pass a judgment on all the individual cases before it, the immensity of detail would soon lead it astray and it would no longer see anything. In this strait, man has recourse to an imperfect but necessary expedient, which at the same time assists and demonstrates his weakness.

    Having superficially considered a certain number of objects and noticed their resemblance, he assigns to them a common name, sets them apart, and proceeds onwards.

    General ideas are no proof of the strength, but rather of the insufficiency of the human intellect; for there are in nature no beings exactly alike, no things precisely identical, no rules indiscriminately and alike applicable to several objects at once. The chief merit of general ideas is that they enable the human mind to pass a rapid judgment on a great many objects at once; but, on the other hand, the notions they convey are never other than incomplete, and they always cause the mind to lose as much in accuracy as it gains in comprehensiveness.

    As social bodies advance in civilization, they acquire the knowledge of new facts and they daily lay hold almost unconsciously of some particular truths. The more truths of this kind a man apprehends, the more general ideas he is naturally led to conceive.

    A multitude of particular facts cannot be seen separately without at last discovering the common tie that connects them. Several individuals lead to the notion of the species, several species to that of the genus. Hence the habit and the taste for general ideas will always be greatest among a people of ancient culture and extensive knowledge.

    But there are other reasons which impel men to generalize their ideas or which restrain them from doing so.

    The Americans are much more addicted to the use of general ideas than the English and entertain a much greater relish for them…

    Men who live in ages of equality have a great deal of curiosity and little leisure; their life is so practical, so confused, so excited, so active, that but little time remains to them for thought. Such men are prone to general ideas because they are thereby spared the trouble of studying particulars; they contain, if I may so speak a great deal in a little compass, and give, in a little time, a great return. If, then, on a brief and inattentive investigation, they think they discern a common relation between certain objects, inquiry is not pushed any further; and without examining in detail how far these several objects agree or differ, they are hastily arranged under one formula, in order to pass to another subject.”

  12. Maybe it’s a rotten and vacuous excuse for me to seriously rethink my position as a “Christian”, but if Christianity is really more about labelling, hating and excluding people than loving and accepting them, I don’t see how anyone can believe in something like that and hope to make a positive contribution to humanity as a whole.

    rampancy, I don’t think your problem is with Christians hating people, it’s with the idea that God does exclude. Christianity is exclusive. It is inclusive in its invitation and welcomes the sinner to the front row (or it should), but the sinner should not be comfortable remaining in sin if they are hearing the Word of God, and those who refuse to receive the truth are not part of it. This isn’t about people who live in different ways, it’s about people who twist sin into somthing acceptable. I can love the person who rejects the truth, but to say I would accept them if they continue to revile God would be contrary to what the Bible says about those who do.

  13. >…the majority of the time when we are dealing with the Gay community you are dealing with people who are not saying “I have sin problem” but you are dealing with people who are saying “What I am doing is not a sin.”

    1. Statements about the “majority” of gay persons are pretty meaningless. That’s how I talk when I want to tell you my opinion.

    2. What do conservative Bible Belt Christians know about the “majority” of gays? What they saw on Fox news? I don’t see a lot of Dinner 8’s happening that include Gays.

    >…Refering to people as being “gay” is not the same nor on the same road to refering to people as black, Jew, or Hispanic.

    3. True. The point of my post is that it is less compatible with what we believe. It reduces people to a sex act and is dehumanizing. Hispanic doesn’t.

    >…Homosexuality is a choice.

    4. Like my choice to be attracted to women?

    Either you have solved one of the great psych-biological debates of all time, or that’s your opinion again.

  14. Ron:

    >….condoning…

    Not being snarky at all.

    DO you consistently treat all people according to principle of not condoning their sins? Consistently?

    I don’t see how anyone condones anything to give someone human dignity, stop reducing them to sexual behavior and treating them according to the example of Jesus.

  15. sue kephart says

    I like this little story; When you get to the pearly gates get in the line that says “the lost” because Jesus came to save the lost.

  16. Ron:

    Please tell me where I can find the person that does not openly live in rebllion. I think he’ll be riding a unicorn with a leprechaun at his side shouting greetings to the Loch Ness monster while Big Foot has a tea party with Tinkerbell nearby.

    We are ALL in open rebellion, as God sees all of our thoughts and actions. My rebellion is counting on myself instead of God, coveting material things and looking at beautiful women in ways not pleasing to God. But since it is not as public as living with another man, I get the “Well, we all struggle” pass from other Christians.

    I’m not trying to remake Jesus or turn Him into my buddy. My resistance to change my comfortable life is just as strong as the average gay person’s. I love God because he is pure, because he equates “raca” with murder. How many people have you killed today? I’ve killed dozens, but at least I’m not gay (snark).

  17. DO you consistently treat all people according to principle of not condoning their sins? Consistently?

    Monk, I fail in a certain sense with each person. No, I am not perfectly consistent with how I treat people, but neither was Jesus. Some he called vipers, some he dined with, some he forgave their sins, some he scolded for their lack of thankfulness.

    When I see someone displaying sin, I don’t think to myself what a wicked sinner. I desire that they would know what they do. and confess their sin. The fact is I’m human and whether it’s two men holding hands or a shifty businessman I see that and I have thoughts. I don’t despise them, but I do see the acts, and if either of them try to justify their acts or if others do, I respond, and I hope with a loving heart and an even hand, but yes, I fail at being consistent and I do pray that I get better at it.

    If I seemed snarky I apologize.

  18. NO snark at all. I think it’s a major point. If I am in the break room at work with 3 friends, one gay, one a tax cheat and one with a load of porn on his computer, am I consistent in dealing with all three?

    Personally- and no snark here- I don’t feel that’s what Jesus has us here doing. At least not in most situations.

    I guess I don’t have enough Fox News outrage 🙂

  19. I’m curious if any one here (particularly you, Imonk) believes in different levels of human responsibility. I feel confident that there are areas of my life which I see as pure that after death will be revealed as contrary to the perfect will of God. Some Christian traditions, though, make allowances for ignorance (e.g. if you weren’t trying to rebel, it may not have been sin). Just like we make allowances for our children: If my child picks flowers from the neighbor’s garden innocently, it’s not the same as if they understood theft and purposely stole the flowers “with malice aforethought.” If someone is actively having physical, same-sex relationships and does not know it is sin (and surely there’s a difference between hearing something is sin from someone you’re unconvinced by and actually knowing you’re sinning), is he/she as responsible as someone who intentionally flaunts his/her sin to God, sinning and relishing it, knowing it’s sin? Who’s better off: the “practicing homosexual” who claims the blood of Christ and truly believes he/she is not living a sinful lifestyle, or the practicing heterosexual who claims the blood of Christ and maliciously gossips? Do we mortals have the ability to determine the answer to such questions? Any thoughts??

  20. rampancy says

    @ron: rampancy, I don’t think your problem is with Christians hating people, it’s with the idea that God does exclude. Christianity is exclusive.

    The Pharisees and others thought that God was exclusive too.

    This reminds me of a post I once read on Slacktivist talking about how some Christians very cleverly take the idea of doing good works from being something worth aspiring to within a Jesus-shaped framework into something to be hated and despised within religious framework. All of a sudden, I’m doing evil because I decided that I wanted to give a homeless man a meal instead of shoving a Bible in their hand and giving them an invitation to join me at my church on Sunday.

    I feel like I’m in a similar bind. It’s all of a sudden wrong for me to think of a gay person as someone with legitimate things to say about life, morality, and Christianity. And it’s perfectly alright to heap on them as much arrogant righteous indignation as I can.

    This isn’t about people who live in different ways, it’s about people who twist sin into somthing acceptable. I can love the person who rejects the truth, but to say I would accept them if they continue to revile God would be contrary to what the Bible says about those who do.

    What happens when people take it on themselves to define what that sin is? I’ve met people for whom my Catholic baptism is automatically a sin for which I need to repent. For others, it’s that I dare to even sympathize with gay people.

    With all due respect, it just seems specious to me that people can say that they can “love” gay people while at the same time readily justifying that they’re not beholden to any responsibility to treat gay people and what they have to say with any civility, respect or dignity.

    If wanting to do that is against the spirit of Christianity, that its source is in fact a God of Partiality – then I suppose there’s nothing I can do about it, and all of time I spent believing in and praying to what I thought was a God of love and acceptance all went to waste.

    I can’t imagine myself being part of a religion upon which its foundation involves hating and marginalizing any one group of people, on the basis of ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation. If that disqualifies me from being called myself a Christian, then I simply don’t know what I can do. It seems petty for God to want to condemn me to Hell because I don’t hate gay people.

  21. Jesse, Do you love God because of his wrath and judgment, and his mercy and grace. They are all there my friend and we do not get to pick and choose what characteristics he has. You are shifting the argument from the text. There will be a myriad of people who will be pleading that they did things right as Jesus prepares to cast them away in the last day. Ones who seemingly did many things that would convince the average human that they must have been godly people, yet were. I ask myself that question frequently, and pray that I am held tight by the Father’s hand. Do you?

    That being said, you almost seem to be indicating that there is no measure of righteousness in this life other than not bearing any judgment about what people do. Clearly we are not to hold ourselves as better than, but that does not exclude our call to address sin. You sound as if you’re saying I have wicked thoughts therefore who am I to say anything about what people do. I would say we are best focused on ourselves, but if we ignore the sinful actions of others we do them a disservice.

  22. Homosexuality is a sin condemned by the Bible? Gee, I wasn’t aware of that – thanks to all of you that have straightened me out on that one.

    But seriously – What do all of you hope to accomplish with all this righteous indignation and moral outrage? Do you honestly expect to effectively share the gospel message if this is the type of rhetoric you engage in or have you suddenly decided that God has anointed you as his earthly judge, jury, and executioner?

    Are you the type of people that decry the ongoing moral decline of the world and believe we need “to stand up and do something about it.” Good luck with that. It hasn’t worked up until this point in human history and I’m reasonably sure it won’t in the future.

    Why don’t we leave the conviction process to the Holy Spirit?

  23. I can’t imagine myself being part of a religion upon which its foundation involves hating and marginalizing any one group of people, on the basis of ethnicity, culture or sexual orientation. If that disqualifies me from being called myself a Christian, then I simply don’t know what I can do. It seems petty for God to want to condemn me to Hell because I don’t hate gay people.

    My goodness, listen to yourself. Who says anything about hating? There may be people who hate certain people or groups, but they have no room in the Christian faith. I do hate injustice, and lies, but Jesus does not call me to hate people.

    We do need to call things what they are. It seems you have a distaste for certain things that the Bible says are sin, especially when it involves homosexuality. I don’t hate homosexuals (nor terrorists or gossips, etc.), nor do I spend my days dwelling on homosexuality, but I do not back away from the fact that scripture calls it sin.

  24. Stop it Ed. The self-righteous indignation is as distasteful as those who spew hate towards gays.

  25. Ron,
    These are my opinions and I have specifically avoided calling out anyone personally. I welcome your comments to anything I have said but “Stop It” doesn’t seem to me like a reasonable request.

  26. OK– This is exactly what I was afraid of.

  27. One thing that particularly strikes me about the debate over homosexuality, in contrast to other (possible) sins, is the level of certainty and fervor people assign to their opinions. We never get this sort of stridency over the issues of sabbath observance or just wars, for example.

    Of course gays would be expected to have a natural enthusiasm for the issue, and their straight friends might be motivated out of a general concern for human rights. But what about the antis? Do they really think that this issue is clearer than other ones, or that it poses a greater threat to society and/or the church? Protestants in particular come from traditions in which individual believers are urged to interpret the Bible themselves–which makes it seems so odd that they should insist on this one issue (well, along with abortion and for some, perhaps creationism) so strongly.

    I suspect that being pro- or anti-gay has itself become a marker of religious identity. Churches (and with them individual believers) have come to define themselves by this criterion, at least in part. So when these beliefs are challenged, they react with greater defensiveness and less openness than they would on other, equally significant and debatable issues.

  28. I’m sorry Ed, I should not have wrote what I did. It was petty.

    Monk, maybe debate has devolved because as much as someone like I may be at fault for over-labeling, I hear labels assigned to people who have a strong opinion about homosexuality and sin as if we’re gay haters. You posited an idea that we shouldn’t label and some disagree, and dare I say the ones who hate labeling, label themselves.

    Listen, I thoroughly understand that homosexuality is only a bit piece of mankinds fall. I would say that the frustration arises when defense of homosexuality becomes evident. It is not defensible. It makes no difference whether by choice or disposition (which I’m pretty sure the latter exists). When I read people on your blog say they haven’t been convinced homosexuality is a sin especially in a committed relationship, I sit in my chair in near disbelief. An over-reaction against the terrible acts by some towards homosexuals is not excusable.

    I know I get too excited at times and fire off comments that I wince at, but I wince more for those who are deceived by calling evil good and good evil. I believe they will be More accountable for their lack of discernment the ones they are purporting to protect.

    I know that God’s mercy is more vast than I can fathom. He is able to cover sins stretching from beginning to end. Praise Him! But we cannot fall into a place where we dilute any sinful behavior for it cheapens the work of the cross.

  29. Imonk said,

    “>…the majority of the time when we are dealing with the Gay community you are dealing with people who are not saying “I have sin problem” but you are dealing with people who are saying “What I am doing is not a sin.”

    1. Statements about the “majority” of gay persons are pretty meaningless. That’s how I talk when I want to tell you my opinion.

    2. What do conservative Bible Belt Christians know about the “majority” of gays? What they saw on Fox news? I don’t see a lot of Dinner 8’s happening that include Gays.

    >…Refering to people as being “gay” is not the same nor on the same road to refering to people as black, Jew, or Hispanic.

    3. True. The point of my post is that it is less compatible with what we believe. It reduces people to a sex act and is dehumanizing. Hispanic doesn’t.

    >…Homosexuality is a choice.

    4. Like my choice to be attracted to women?

    Either you have solved one of the great psych-biological debates of all time, or that’s your opinion again.”

    I respond:

    1. The majority of the gay community I deal with personaly, and have dealt with personaly say it is not a sin, as do a sizable portion of the responders on this blog.

    2. Again the majority of the gay community I have experienced. Perhaps you have had a different experience than I and have encountered a majority of gays who admit their sinful lifestyle.

    3. I think you point was like many to try to associtate the Civil Rights struggle of unchoosing minority groups with the agenda (ooo loaded word) of a action-defined minority.

    4. I said that homosexaul activity is a choice. I fully admitted that there may be some due to all sorts of genetic or environmental situations so inclined, but the act of homosexuality is just that, an action committed by choice.

  30. This thread is a pefect example of how you cannot talk about this issue in america. We can fall all over ourselves declaring how we love homosexuals, that we feel they should be treated equally by everyone, that people who don’t do so are not being christian, and that we feel our own sins are just the same as homosexuality BUT if we don’t agree with them that homosexuality is NOT a sin then we are haters and bigots.

  31. Scott:

    I agree this conversation is difficult, but I think you’ve gone a bit overboard on both sides. Or someone has.

    Christians do need to affirm that those who differ with them are not renouncing Christ. I believe sexuality (esp among males) is almost entirely genetic and I support civil unions. I would accept anyone as a Christian brother who affirms that Christ calls us to sexual faithfulness in marriage- as Biblically defined- and calls all of us to celibacy/marriage and repentance from sexual sin.

    This isn’t the same position as other Christians, but it would be irrational at a very high level to say I am not a “brother” because I differ on some specifics.

    I join you in deploring the “agree with all our views or be a hater” response, but I have to agree with Andrew Marin that a great deal of this seems to come from a very similar script where the agony of discovering one is gay is never heeded as legitimate while a person is a teenager, and the result of owning a gay identity is being put out of family and church. These experiences are so common, and so ignored by Christians, that I can see why they inspire a lot of anger.

    Marin’s book does a wonderful job of showing us how to talk about this, and how to understand what we are talking about. No disrespect, but the Fox News version of gay/Christian dialog is the domain of people who have NO desire to listen to anyone, but just to commandeer attention and create havoc.

    We can all do a lot better, on both sides, and I think many people are.

    peace

    ms

  32. sue kephart says

    The first thing is we have to accept that homosexuals exist. Railing against them isn’t going to make them go away. It isn’t going to make them into heterosexuals. It isn’t going to get them to change. Like it or not ‘they’ are part of society. Calling other people sinners is being judgemental. We are called to examine ourselves not others. How have I sinned against my homosexual brother or sister? That is the question we need to be asking.

    To paraphase, it is easy to love those like ourselves even the evil do that. What separates Christians from the evil hatefilled prejudice person is we have a God who while we were still sinners died for us. No greater love.

    I can go to Him in prayer for forgiveness of my own sins. And He will give me strenght to love those I find unacceptable to me. Through His act He has made unaccetable me acceptable to God.

  33. Believe me when I say that understand the struggle that they have, and I would not reduce it or make light of it. I agree with what you are saying here, but what I see is people being as acommodating as they can be and that doesn’t matter to the militant part of that issue, and my point is that it will never matter to them.

    I did read the post on Marins book and I am going read it.

    Thank you, I’ll calm down:)

  34. I agree with the overall idea of imonk’s post. I agree that we need to be careful about dehumanizing people, and that we, as Christians, need to show Christ’s love to all.

    However. We are also to speak the truth, in love.

    Homosexuality is a choice. I agree that some people grow up in circumstances that influence greatly that choice, but it’s still a choice. Everyone is born a heterosexual person, because that is how God created us as a human race. We are born into a SIN nature though, so we make choices throughout our life that are sinful. That is why we need Christ, all of us. If a gay person is shown the Truth, and accepts that, then God will work in their heart to help them stop committing the sin of homosexuality, along with their others sins, just as he works in the hearts of the rest of us and our sin, whatever that may be, from hatred, to idolatry, to adultery, etc. It’s all the same. Sin is sin.

    However, on that note, we need to make sure that we talk about gay men, and that lifestyle, for what it truly is. Many people believe that most of them just keep to themselves and we should not intrude into that private area. I agree, as long as they aren’t hurting others. [MOD EDIT: I’m sorry Matt, but that sort of general statement just goes beyond what I want in the comments here at IM. I don’t think making the majority of gay men into child molesters gets us anywhere but rightfully accused of ignoring heterosexual sins.]

    I realize by writing this statement, I instantly attain homophobe status by people on both sides of the line. That is fine. Think what you will, but make sure you do your research before you etch that attitude in stone.

    It’s of paramount importance that we heed Christ’s example and show His love to these people, regardless of their sinfulness. That doesn’t mean we should tolerate their behavior though, and allow it to harm others.

  35. Matt:

    >….Everyone is born a heterosexual person.

    I appreciate that this is your opinion, but I and many others do not agree.

    As I said earlier, the experience of discovering same sex attraction is, in general, one where a person goes through agony, self-hatred, begging God for change, etc. Ignoring this, no matter what we believe, has deeply hurt our credibility.

    If you want to believe this, that’s up to you. But millions of people living the experience disagree. It’s useless to debate it, and I cannot agree with you that the fall does not extend to fallen forms of sexual attraction.

    The Bible’s view on sexual morality does not presuppose that everyone starts out at the same place.

    ms