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01/09/2008

Group to help megachurches find 'Soul'

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 1-141Last week, we showed you how Focus on the Family's Caleb Price was criticizing the Soulforce group for encouraging a dialogue between the gay community and evangelical mega-churches.  Our beef, essentially, was that Caleb was making it sound as if the group was somehow being insincere in seeking the interaction, because, as we all know, groups like FOF can't describe any pro-gay endeavor without trying to make it sound somehow insidious.  Which actually makes sense that they'd hold such a position, as actually getting to know and listening to the gay community is the Achilles heel that's ultimately going to bring down those who prefer to issue gay-condemantory monologues.  But we digress.

What we really want to tell you about is that Soulforce has revealed new information regarding their plan to dialogue with these mega-churches and pastors, an endeavor they are calling an "American Family Outing."  Read all about it below:

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On behalf of the four partner organizations [Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), and COLAGE], Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes has written letters to:

* Rev. Joel Osteen and the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas
* Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas
* Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland
* Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia
* Rev. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois
* Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California

"These pastors are part of a new generation of evangelical leaders in America," says Lutes.  "We are calling on them and their congregations to demonstrate a new kind of leadership, one that models compassion and justice for all families, including families with two moms and two dads."

The letters inform each pastor that a delegation of families with two moms and two dads, as well as supportive heterosexual-parent and single-parent families, plans to visit each church. The letters invite their congregations to collaborate in creating opportunities for meaningful conversations. Over the next several weeks, staff from Soulforce, UFMCC, NBJC, and COLAGE will negotiate peaceful forums with members from each of the congregations.

Then, over the weekends between Mother's Day (May 11, 2008) and Father's Day (June 15, 2008), dozens of families with children will travel by air and by bus to engage in dialogue about faith, family, and the harm done by religion-based discrimination to LGBT families.

Righteous.

We'll let you know which evangelical pastors respond favorably to the request (we hope for most, yet expect few), and which stick their fingers in their ears and refuse to even listen to the gay rights crowd (we hope for few, but expect most).  While you're waiting for that, go ahead and read the full Soulforce release at the link:

LGBT Families Ask Six Mega-Churches "Can We Talk?" [Soulforce]

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Your thoughts

Can you help me to understand something? Since you have a "right" to be homosexual, why do I not have the "right" to disagree with you. And because I disagree with you, why does that make me "homophobic". I'm not "phobic". I have no fear of you. However, you cannot and will not push your lifestyle on me (and those who disagree with you) and MAKE me accept it, any more than my son or daughter could MAKE me accept something they're doing that I disagee with. I don't think you should be mistreated or abused...go on and do as you please. But please, if you have the "right" to be homosexual allow me the "right" to disagree with you. Open dialogue with the "mega churches"? What is there to talk about? Your lifestyle is unacceptable...what else is there to discuss? Love you, disagree with what you do.

Posted by: Deborah | Jan 9, 2008 6:49:54 PM

Deborah: (1) You do have every right to disagree. Nobody is trying to stop you.

(2) Nobody used the word homophobic here. Please don't create straw man arguments.

(3) Nobody is "pushing a lifestyle." That argument is soooo tired and childish.

(4) Soulforce is seeking dialogue because it is what is desperately needed within faith communities (so handily exemplified by comments like yours). Saying "Your lifestyle is unacceptable...what else is there to discuss?" is the exact problem. Your side all too often thinks you have all the definitive answers, case closed. The whole not listening part is the root of the problem, and one that Soulforce wishes to remedy.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 9, 2008 7:09:44 PM

Deborah what you are asking for us to do is to accept that you think we are sinners. We will never accept that. Being gay is who we are like it or not. We have just as much right to be open about our relationships as you are about ours. If you believe you have the right to shove your lifestyle on us you cannot then expect us to keep ours a secret. See that makes you a hypocrite.

Posted by: adam kautz | Jan 9, 2008 7:14:43 PM

Adam I think we are all sinners. The fact that you won't accept that makes you a hypocrite. I think I will admit we are all hypocrites.

All that aside, I think the question is where does a faith get its beliefs from. Usually somebody or some writings. How can you look at a faith's teachings and be open and unbiased when you use words like "we will never..." and "... like it or not"? Those kinds of words sound pretty close minded.

Also, I think Deborah's approach from above is not helpful, she sounds so defensive not very open to talking.

Posted by: Ryan | Jan 9, 2008 10:18:59 PM

Deborah,

You have the right to disagree with whatever and whomever you want just as I have the right to disagree with you. However you don't have the right to deny other people their fundamental human rights just because you disagree with them. Do I have the right to stop you from participating in your religion because I disagree with it? Of course not. I also have no desire to interfere with your right to your religious freedoms so long as they don't interfere with the fundamental human rights of others.

You claim that GLBT people are pushing their "lifestyles" on you but nobody is doing that. However Christians are forcing their religion on everybody by pushing Christian beliefs into law. Gays and lesbians cannot get married because Christians believe it is wrong. GLBT people don't have equal rights under the law because Christians consider them unworthy. Why should you feel free to force your beliefs on everybody else? You have full human and civil rights so why can't we?

Posted by: Buffy | Jan 10, 2008 3:04:13 AM

Deborah says: "What is there to talk about? Your lifestyle is unacceptable...what else is there to discuss? Love you, disagree with what you do."
--
"Lifestyle" of course being code for "promiscuous."

Deborah slanders every gay person on the planet with the accusation that we are sexually promiscuous, and then claims she "loves" us.

Tell me Deborah, do you always bear false witness against those you love?

Posted by: Emproph | Jan 10, 2008 6:11:30 AM

Just curious - if the churches you plan to visit consider practicing homosexuality a sin, but welcome you into the congregation as just everyday people would that be acceptable? Would they need to change their beliefs that being an active homosexual is sinful? I'd like to think that our church would welcome these families in as guests, but while living in what we would consider open, unrepentant sin based on the way we interpret Scripture we probably wouldn't allow full membership any more than we'd welcome someone living another lifestyle we considered sinful. Welcome to attend? Yes. Be a member and represent our church body? No.

Buffy - something to consider on the whole "pushing a lifestyle". One reason a lot of people may be upset with the whole same-sex marriage thing is that the whole process is circumventing the system by fighting through the courts. Most people don't want some judge to say "you have to do this" - that's what we have representatives for. If a state puts this up to a vote and wins then the people have spoken. Until then, a lot of people will continue to be pretty upset.
Also, the whole process of law is imposing someone's morality on everyone. Is it right or wrong to have sex with a child? Some groups would like that to be legal, but most Americans (regardless of faith background) don't agree. Should we help people who have no employment from the public coffers? Once again - some would disagree, but the law dictates that we help through a wide variety of government programs.


Just one other question - is this about tolerance or acceptance? I can tolerate that people may live in what I consider a sinful lifestyle and love those people. I would consider, based on the Scripture I've read and yes taking it in context, that living in a way that promotes homosexual behavior could be considered sinful in a similar manner to living in a way that promotes drunkenness or gossip. (And yes, we have a lot of gossip issues in the church at large and our pastor speaks out about it.) If we had a member living what we see as a sinful lifestyle and not accepting that he/she should change, then we would probably ask that the person remove him/herself from the fellowship, even if only for a time. It would take a LONG time to get to this point, but I can see it happening.

Finally, it's quite possible to love the person, but not accept their sin. There are tons of homeless shelters, 12-step programs, etc where people practice just that. We don't accept that drunkenness is someone's natural state just because they have a tendency towards it. We will love that person and help them if they want help, but will also work with them to try to help them overcome that natural tendency towards drunkenness.

I get the feeling that this will be an interesting dialogue and we'll see more about it in the future.

Posted by: Peter | Jan 10, 2008 10:47:59 AM

Peter: But see, I think this is the point that you and Deborah are missing. What Soulforce (not affiliated with this site, by the way) wants is a dialogue on the constant assertions that being gay is a sin, the likes of which can be compared with things like alcoholism. While those on your side of the fence see the Bible as containing a lock-solid gay condemnation, many religious folks on our side do not see it this way at all. Soulforce wants you to consider that maybe, just maybe, the so-called "clobber passages" have been interpreted inaccurately. They want you to actually listen with an open mind rather than act as if you have all the answers and have the right to deny God to gays on the basis of your own interpretations.

And just to touch briefly on your issue with the courts -- The courts have historically been the places where civil rights battles have been decided. The rights of a minority should not be thwarted by the tyranny of a majority. It is not circumventing any law when a court finds current practices to be unconstitutional; it is righting a wrong.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 10, 2008 10:56:33 AM

Deborah wrote:
“Can you help me to understand something? Since you have a "right" to be homosexual, why do I not have the "right" to disagree with you.”

In short, you do have that right.
Consider, however, your question. The right to be GLBT is a right to “be”, while the right to disagree is a right to “think and speak”. Both are rights, but they are as different as night and day. They are, however, not mutually exclusive. I can have the right to be as God made me AND you can have the right to disagree with my views. What is not acceptable is for one of us to deny the right of the other, based on what we think. That would be idolizing our own opinions.

Also Deborah wrote:
“And because I disagree with you, why does that make me "homophobic". I'm not "phobic". I have no fear of you. However, you cannot and will not push your lifestyle on me (and those who disagree with you) and MAKE me accept it, any more than …”

Phobia = irrational fear.
You seem to think that we want to “push” our lifestyle “on you.” Does that mean you think we will seek to make you gay – to force you against your will to be something you are not? Is that rational?
Or are you saying that you think we want to force you to accept us as we are? Can we do that? Is thinking that we can rational?
Actually what we want is for you to understand that it is not appropriate to force us, by the powers of law and majority, to deny who we are. If you think that might be irrational, consider the many ways in which the majority have denied us the right to “be” – to live in accordance to the way God has made us.

Also:
“Open dialogue with the "mega churches"? What is there to talk about? Your lifestyle is unacceptable...what else is there to discuss? “

Obviously, if it were up to you – nothing. Not a damn thing. Thankfully, it isn’t up to you.
And as to my lifestyle – let’s see: I cook, I work, I take walks, I do laundry, I eat out sometimes, I enjoy woodworking … These are lifestyle choices. I happen to be straight, but if I were gay, my choices in lifestyle would probably be pretty much the same.
It would be my right to live as created by God that would be different – that ain’t a lifestyle, it’s a need to live authentically absent the restrictions imposed by a straight majority.

Posted by: andrewlittle | Jan 10, 2008 12:47:25 PM

Peter wrote:
“Buffy - something to consider on the whole "pushing a lifestyle". One reason a lot of people may be upset with the whole same-sex marriage thing is that the whole process is circumventing the system by fighting through the courts. Most people don't want some judge to say "you have to do this" - that's what we have representatives for. If a state puts this up to a vote and wins then the people have spoken. Until then, a lot of people will continue to be pretty upset.”

Hmmm. Excuse me, but I thought the courts were part of the “system”. One of the reasons for a tripartite balance of powers in our constitutional government is to ensure that people do not lose rights simply because of the opinions of the majority. Relying solely on the legislature would mean that only those rights with which the majority agreed would become law. The constitution’s writers knew better.
And, the last time I checked, no judge is going to say to a heterosexual, “You have to marry someone of the same sex.” Neither would a judge be able to say, “You, ABC church, must marry people of the same-sex.” Marriage is a civil process that commonly, but not exclusively, includes religious ceremonies or rituals. The last time I checked, it was not illegal for atheists to marry, and allowing atheists to marry does not force churches to perform marriage ceremonies for them, nor does it force Christians to marry atheists.

Peter also wrote:
“Also, the whole process of law is imposing someone's morality on everyone.”
The problem you seem to have with this is that, while using the legislature imposes the will of the majority on the minority, the process of law seeks to ensure that the rights of the minority are protected from the will of the majority. The majority, at this point in the situation, IS imposing its will on GLBT folk.

Also:
“Is it right or wrong to have sex with a child? Some groups would like that to be legal, but most Americans (regardless of faith background) don't agree.”
The classic sleazy, back-handed obfuscation of the issue. We are talking about relationships here in which both parties are adult, competent and able to decide how to live authentically. Comparing that with pedophilia shows two things: first, that you seem to miss the point that adult-child relationships are based on the adult having power over the child – that’s why they call it abuse; and, second, that you may lack the ethical underpinning to care whether you use dissimulation or not. Would you stop to any lie or sound byte to “prove” yourself correct?

And still:
“Just one other question - is this about tolerance or acceptance? I can tolerate that people may live in what I consider a sinful lifestyle and love those people.”
But you don’t. Because you consider it “sinful”, you will not allow same-sex couples to marry. That isn’t tolerance, it’s LORDING over, which is Christ’s job.
In reality, GLBT folk want neither your tolerance nor acceptance. What they want is for you to realize that legally restricting a group of people’s rights, based on your intolerant religious views, goes against the constitution. GLBT are after their civil rights – not their religious rights – and seek to enjoy the same rights as other productive, self-conscious, law-abiding, consenting adults. You want to protect your church’s right not to marry GLBT, have at it. You want to civilly legislate according to your church’s doctrines – you have a little thing called a constitution in your way. This is a civil issue – not a religious one.

“I would consider, based on the Scripture I've read and yes taking it in context, that living in a way that promotes homosexual behavior could be considered sinful in a similar manner to living in a way that promotes drunkenness or gossip.”

As a Christian minister, I would consider abandoning the message of the prophets and Christ to promote your own restrictive Pharisaic interpretation of scripture is unholy and the furthest thing from Christ-like. Here’s news- not all Christians agree that homosexuality is a sinful state. Why is your particular “brand” of Christianity the only right one?

Posted by: andrewlittle | Jan 10, 2008 3:22:44 PM

Andrew, I think that you misinterpreted several things that I posted. First of all, Law is legislating morality. How about Drunk Driving? Usury? Contractual Law? Criminal Law? All of those are a form of legislating morality. Sure the courts exist to put some balance in place, BUT their place is only to say that something is or is not within the bounds of the law. The place of the courts is not to make those laws or even to tell the legislature that they must put certain laws in effect. It is all about balance and their job is to put that balance in place.

As for the idea that someone can be forced to provide services for someone - that's all over the place. A UMC retreat center is being sued because it doesn't want to host a same-sex marriage, even though it's a privately owned facility for the church body. Is that right? Is that tolerant of that particular church's beliefs? Don't thinks so. These people could very easily find somewhere else and not bring a suit, couldn't they? Nope - they want to impose their beliefs that they are in the right on this organization.

I'd also suggest that you look at the definition of tolerance. Tolerance <> Acceptance. I don't have to think that something is wonderful to tolerate its existence. Drunk people abound, sometimes even close to me, but I tolerate them. I'm often around people who have political and/or religious views completely offensive to me. I tolerate them - they can have those views.

Let's also look at the idea of "hate speech". Some people really do read the Bible and see there that homosexual acts are sinful. Yes, not all people read this and I'm well aware of that. I may not agree with that, but I realize that you do. Fine - neither of us is likely to budge on our beliefs. However, we can agree that God loves people and hates sin. However, in Canada, pastors cannot preach from the Bible on homosexuality anymore because it's considered hate speech in Canada. So much for freedom of speech. We're heading the same way now. Imposing beliefs on others? Yep. You don't have to listen to it any more than you have to listen to a Neo-Nazi or KKK member and I'd say they're far more hateful in their speech than someone teaching from the Scriptures (again - in most cases - I freely admit that some pastors go way overboard).

I really do disagree with your idea of the way legislation works. Sometimes religious beliefs and legislative action go hand in hand. Sure, I can't make a law saying that the official religion of the USA is Buddhism any more than I can say it's Secular Humanism. There's no official religion. If I want to allow a prayer before a game, I have to allow prayer from anyone who wants to prayer whether it be to God, Allah, YHWH, or Satan. However, students can legally pass out a Christmas, Kwanzaa, etc card if any cards can be passed out - Free speech. Also, people such as William Wilberforce were driven by their faith to create laws respecting human dignity and ending the slave trade. Those beliefs that creating these laws was the right thing to do came from their faith.

Some people might argue, completely apart from any faith, that a family with a mom & a dad work better than 2 moms or 2 dads or 2 moms and a dad. Some would argue the opposite. Everyone has a study to back it up, though. :-)

I am a little saddened that as a Christian minister you don't seem concerned with truth. What is the real truth? Either something is sinful to God or not. Maybe I'm completely wrong in what I've read of the scriptures and I'll admit that I don't really get hung up overall on sexual activity. I do want to know the truth, though. And that means that I'll look throughout the Bible to see what the truth is. I don't consider that Pharasaic. I seem to remember one statement of Jesus being somewhere along the lines of "go, sin no more". That is important, along the same lines as "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself." Both are important. I can't ignore the desire to be rid of my sin nature and focus purely on love. That doesn't produce the fruits of the Spirit. nor can I focus on avoiding sin while ignoring love, that leads to that Pharisaical interpretation you mentioned. There's a balance and both sides are important.

I think we can agree to disagree here. I read in scripture that sexual activity with those of the same sex is sinful. You don't. I don't think arguing is going to change either of our minds. I think you'd agree on that. I don't want to try to pick fights and am not trying to come across that way. You bring up good points that not everyone believes the same way that I do. I accept that and believe that is true. Likewise, not everyone believes the same way you do.

-Pete

Posted by: Peter | Jan 10, 2008 10:55:08 PM

One last thought and then I'll disappear for a while. Does this dialogue also include listening to why people on one side of this whole argument believe that these "clobber passages" as you put it actually hold some weight and might, just might, be what God desires for our lives? If not, then it's not a dialogue. It's a monologue, just delivered from people who think that homosexual activity is not sinful instead of from people who think it is.

For the record, I do not believe that "being gay" is a sin any more than being an alocholic is a sin or being a gossip is a sin. However, once we act on that inner nature - that's where I'd say it's sinful. (Yes, that's where we differ - I know, I know.) You can argue all you want that we may have a natural tendency towards certain behaviors. However, God does not call us to live naturally, but supernaturally. I have a quite natural tendency towards obesity and would easily tend towards gluttony (a definite sin in the Bible). I struggle with that nature quite a bit and want to overcome it, though my obesity isn't excessive by current US standards. I know that this doesn't please God. Should I give in to my natural tendencies towards gluttony and thus defile the temple of God? No. I ask God for strength to help me overcome that natural state and live in a way that pleases Him.

I appreciate you letting me post my thoughts and I've read the responses of others thoughtfully. I hope that there is a true dialogue that results from this where both sides listen thoughtfully.

-Pete

Posted by: Peter | Jan 11, 2008 3:29:24 PM

Peter: OF COURSE! That's why it is a dialogue! Our side is not the one that has historically been resistant to such. In fact, I honestly think you would find that many gay people have studied religion and the Bible (especially the "clobber passages") more than many heterosexuals who profess to be such good Christians. It's the same with atheists -- most have a strong awareness of the Bible and of religious history.

At this point, we've all pretty much heard the anti-gay Christian lines. The problem is that all of our ideas are completely written off a "liberal propaganda" or us glossing over truth in favor of an agenda. It's maddening to feel like you are talking to a brick wall, which is often how we feel when trying to have a dialogue with our religious opposition.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 11, 2008 3:39:20 PM

So tell me Peter, what problem would you have with homosexual "activity," in and of itself, if it were not a sin?

Posted by: Emproph | Jan 11, 2008 4:30:17 PM

Thanks for responding, Peter. Largely, your response reads as if it was written in the spirit of dialogue, which I appreciate. I may well have misinterpreted some things you posted – it’s not the least bit difficult to imagine.
Does law legislate morality? The examples you cited are examples of legislating criminality and punishment for things that harm individuals or society. A system of morality or ethics is one that establishes behavioral patterns based on achieving outcomes that are “good” or positive. Law does not generally, if ever, do that. Law says, “if you do X we will punish you by doing Y.” Our system of law is punitive or reparative – but, in either case, the deals with punishments for acts that harm others. The courts, as one of establishments created to balance power, were put in place to administer civil and criminal justice AND to examine the laws of the land to make sure they do not infringe on the rights of individuals or groups. It isn’t an either/or proposition – they are inherently intertwined with the legislative process, including instructing the legislature when laws are discriminatory. Do they make law – no, and they haven’t.

Your choice of the retreat center is unfortunate. The retreat center in question is owned by The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, not the UMC church. It is a privately held facility that, while requiring board members be UMC members, is not a church. They had tax-exempt status because it was a facility that was open to public use, not because it was religious. The Center’s claim that religious doctrine meant they could not host a same-sex marriage became their downfall, since it removed the one condition that allowed them tax-exempt status – it was not open to all of the public for events allowable under NJ law. The battle was also not about their right to restrict use, but about their right to do so while keeping tax-exempt status. Since they are not a church, and want to restrict usage, they lost their tax status.

You state that in Canada pastors cannot preach on homosexuality anymore. We don’t live in Canada and we’re not talking about Canadian law. Why not cite Kenyan, Australian or, even a favorite for this kind of argument, Swedish law. This dissimulation – we are not talking about international law, since they do not have the protections of the U.S. Constitution – is a weak attempt to say, “look, there but for the grace of God, go our freedoms.” It’s fear-mongering through misinformation.
Has anyone been denied the right in the U.S. to believe or preach in a church as they will? No! Has a group of people been denied the right to live under the equal protection of the constitution based on religiously held belief? Yes! Marriage being limited to opposite sex partners is just that – a civil law based on religious doctrine. Absent the religious notion of “sin”, where is the basis for a civil restriction?
The dissimulation is that you cry that secular interests will erode religious freedom while, in reality, religious interests have eroded civil freedom.

“Some people might argue, completely apart from any faith, that a family with a mom & a dad work better than 2 moms or 2 dads or 2 moms and a dad. Some would argue the opposite. Everyone has a study to back it up, though. :-)”
Show me the people who argue that “completely apart from any faith”. I can show you that religious organizations, or those with very deep religious ties, use “studies” that all the recognized mental health and scientific communities decry as bogus.
“I am a little saddened that as a Christian minister you don't seem concerned with truth. “
Thanks for the ad hominem attack. On what basis have you decided I am not “concerned with truth”? You have shown clearly that I not concerned with your notion of what constitutes truth. I am not a relativist – I do believe there is such a thing as God’s truth – but I do not think you are the arbiter of what God’s truth is. Hearing God’s truth is the quest we are all on, hopefully, and it won’t be found while idolizing our own interpretation of that truth. I allow that scripture contains God’s truth, but that truth is easily understood by human minds and that we are to be open to the continued revelation of God and scripture. You posit that you know God’s truth. Which of us is blocking the agency of the Holy Spirit, and setting aside the desire to know more about the truth of God?
“I seem to remember one statement of Jesus being somewhere along the lines of "go, sin no more". That is important, along the same lines as "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself."”
How about, “judgment is mine, says the Lord.” Or, “judge not, lest you be judged.” Just because I do not want to force people to accept what I believe, at this time in my pilgrimage towards God, to be God’s truth, does not mean that I have no interest in truth. I just don’t want to force my understanding of truth on everyone else.

Posted by: andrewlittle | Jan 12, 2008 10:09:10 AM

Andrew, just one quick response to a couple of points. I brought up Canada because I see the US heading that way if we pass this new hate crimes legislation. Sure it won't happen overnight, but there are a lot of attempts right now to silence voices who claim homosexual activity is sinful. The fact that preachers cannot do so in Canada because of a law makes me think that this will happen hear. I am probably mistaken, but thought that Canada had a definition of free speech as well in their constitution.
Surely you know that the judgment mentioned in the Bible refers to the final judgment. I'm not condemning people to Hell - not my position. However, my reading of the Scriptures would indicate that homosexual activity is sinful and as such I would probably work towards encouraging professing believers not to follow through on that behavioral inclination. You, not believing it to be sinful, would not. I wouldn't say they're doomed forever for it, but I wouldn't agree with them.
Also, we are called to be fruit inspectors. That does involve making judgments based on a person's actions. If someone claims to have no issue with alcohol, but shows up to work every Monday morning seemingly hung-over, I may make a judgment that he is either lying or deceived. If someone claims to be a believer, but gossips every time there's a chance, I'd bring it up to that person.
I apologize for the truth comment - you seemed to be ignoring the concept of truth in your dialogue. I do disagree with your idea of not forcing your understanding of the truth on anyone else, though - isn't that slightly what we're supposed to do as Christians? Or do I mistake the idea of "make disciples of all the earth"? (And please, I don't mean to forcibly convert them at gunpoint or be obnoxious, but we are commanded to share that truth with people, whether or not they want to hear it or do you believe that they don't need to hear it?)
I'm not a relativist either. I believe in absolutes. In this case, we may not know the absolute, but from what I've read, the truth lies with homosexual activity being sinful - on the same level as any other sin in God's eyes. You disagree with me on that and I understand that you disagree. I don't believe you're right, but I acknowledge your freedom to hold a position that differs from mine. I don't claim to have a special revelation, just what I've read and what I understand of scripture.

G-A-Y - I wonder if I feel slightly as if I'm talking to a brick wall? Would you consider changing your view of the the sinful/non-sinful nature of homosexual activity as a result of any of these dialogues? Would you accept that people feel this way and then leave them alone in their beliefs because they'll never change? :-)


Emproph, if homosexual activity is not sinful, then it falls into one of those areas that we'd just disagree on. It wouldn't be sinful and as such it falls wholly in the civil realm. However, I don't think that homosexual activity is something that should define someone at the sort of level that civil rights are necessary - simply because it's a right defined by an activity. Race, Ethnic Origin, Skin Color - these can't be changed. Behavior can be changed and I'll never know that someone is, for example, a stamp collector unless they tell me so or otherwise publicize it.
I also don't think it's helpful for families. I do believe that God created marriage for one man and one woman and that this is the ideal situation in which to raise children. Quite a few studies seem to back this up (acknowledging that there are studies stating the opposite). Same-sex unions cannot produce offspring without outside assistance (at least I haven't heard of any except one case where a woman became pregnant without the help of a man). Having offspring is generally considered a benefit to the state because it means the country will continue.
I'm also concerned about where this leads us. Two Men? Two Women? Two men and a woman? Three women, two men, and a dog? If being able to marry those you love is the end result, where does it stop? And please, don't treat this as a throw-away argument. Where does it really stop? People have already attempted to "marry" their pets. Stories pop up all the time about polygamous marriages. How do these factor in once the one man, one woman definition is gone purely because of a desire to be married to those one loves?

I realize that we completely disagree on the basic premise and will not change each others' minds here. Is this the sort of dialogue that is expected from this project? :-) Would it be acceptable if it boiled down to a long talk with neither side changing any opinions? Is that considered a success or a failure then or just an attempt?


I do want to say that coming from my point of view, this feels an awful lot more like an attempt to force these churches to accept your beliefs on homosexual activity than an attempt to start a dialogue. Please note that I'm not saying it is, but it really comes across that way. I read the release quoted above and it does read as if they're calling on these pastors and their congregations to change or to be "the leaders" in holding the position you favor. If they don't hold that position right now, that reads as wanting them to change, not just wanting a dialogue.

Posted by: | Jan 12, 2008 1:15:34 PM

Response to Peter (presumably, since the handle was left blank):
http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2008/01/self-declared-i.html

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 14, 2008 9:23:46 AM

Peter says...
"Emproph, if homosexual activity is not sinful, then it falls into one of those areas that we'd just disagree on."
--
I would ask then, how is this disagreement different from any other heterosexual that 'disagrees' with "homosexual activity?"

Posted by: Emproph | Jan 15, 2008 6:43:03 AM

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