March 04, 2006

One Person's Story--Repairative Therapy Does Anything But Repair

I'm linking to a deeply moving letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This was timed to conincide with a "Love Won Out," event being held in the Gateway City, an event co-sponsored by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. This event promotes "repairative therapy" and "transformational ministry," both designed to "cure" homosexual desires in people.

This letter shares the experience of one individual who desperately wanted to believe in what these people were trying to do, but saw where it failed miserably and brought on deep depression and thoughts of suicide.

"It's Less About Change and More About Money"

This is another reminder that a person's only chance for true piece and happiness is to embrace and develop the gifts God gave us. Hetrosexuality and homosexuality are both gifts that we are born with, just like the ability to sing, do complex mathematics, etc. God gave those to us for a reason, and if we don't use them, we will never be within His will and His plan for our lives.

March 03, 2006

Don't Speak for Me as a Christian

I was pointed to this piece on the website. It is titled "Loving Your Gay Son." Here, their Dr. Linda makes a sincere attempt to offer advice to guide parents toward being loving and, at least to some extent, accepting. I don't have any major issues with the advice she offers. She seems to be seeking the path Jesus would take, and that's a great foundation for doing anything.

The second sentence of this piece, however, is deeply troubling. Dr. Linda states as fact regarding homosexuality that, "Christians still believe the lifestyle is spiritually and morally wrong. "

I beg your pardon.

Generalizing statements like this, which ignore the fact that there is a dissenting opinion among people like me who consider themselves card-carrying christians, is what puts forth the message of intolrerance.

All the helpful advice in the world will only go so far if it at least partly based on ignorance of the facts supporting it.

Church and Supreme Court--Not Very Seperate

This week, Dr. James Dobson acknowledged receiving a thank-you letter from recent Supreme Court appointment Justice Samuel Alito. Dobson has taken bows for his successful push to have Alito's nomination confirmed by the senate, and he appears to have made a friend in a very high place.

What's the big deal? If you are a sports fan, how would feel if an umpire had sent a thank-you note to Barry Bonds for supporting him through a political process. Would opposing pitchers think they would get an even shake on balls and strikes when they are pitching to Bonds with that umpire behind the plate?

How about an area of critical importance to a large portion of America-the judging on American Idol. If Simon Cowell had sent this type of letter to one of the contestants, wouldn't that give at least the appearance of impropriety?

In the situation with Justice Alito, we are talking about someone in a position that is supposed to be, dare I say, the supreme bastion of impartiality. The ultimate defenders and interpreters of the U. S. Constitution are supposed to be as unbiased as a human can be. There's only nine of them at any one time--the bar needs to be set exceptionally high.

How impartial do you think Justice Alitio will be on cases of great interest to Dr. Dobson and his ilk. Do you really think cases involving same-sex marriage, abortion, or anything Dr. Dobson doesn't like will get a fair shake from this justice? Will that title become an oxymoron?

Of course, I don't believe the "fundamentalists" want justice. They want their agenda to become the law of the land. Judges who don't agree with them are branded "activist judges." In Maryland, there is even a movement in the state legislature to impeach the judge who ruled that the prohibition of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional (the case is currently under appeal).

It's bad enough when politicians are beholding to someone who helped them get elected. It's much worse when the final line of defense in protecting citizens from those politicans, the Supreme Court, is tainted with the same agenda. And it was all done in the name of God.

Do you actually think Jesus wants money spent and arms twisted in His name to gain conformation for a Supreme Court justice?

I sure don't.

March 02, 2006

Who Can Throw Stones

I ran across this yesterday in my bible study and thought is was very appropriate for this forum.

John 8:1-11 (NIV)
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Jesus did not excuse the sin, but he made it clear who had the right to judge it.

I don't think I need to add anything else here.

February 28, 2006

Shelving Homosexuality

I came across a story today that just leaves me shaking my head in wonder at the effort people are willing to put into being homophobic. This post on the blog "My Quest" summarizes a year-long battle some parents in Oklahoma have waged to take age-appropriate books about homosexuality out of the mainstream library shelving among children's books and put them on a "parenting shelf."

These books are now safely tucked away with those regarding child molesters, alcoholics, drug users, and all those other nasty things people do. Nice subtely here, not labeling this information evil but very clearly categorizing it as such.

Ignorance is the primary weapon of bigots. If they can keep the kids ignorant and unaccepting toward GLBT people, they can grow up and hate just like mommy and daddy.

Discrimination is not genetically passed down from parents to their kids--it is taught. Even subtle messages like this can seep through young minds and help form their values.

That's why those of us who have a different set of values need to make our voices heard and teach children and adults alike that GLBT people are just that--PEOPLE. As card-carrying members in full standing of the human race, they are entitled to all the rights, opportunities, and respect that everyone else enjoys and expects.

February 26, 2006

Five Steps Toward Making Godly Decisions

These came to me during our worship service today, and I believe they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. There needs to be a process to deciding how we are going to walk with Jesus. He's not going to send you an e-mail or write a blog. We have to expend some effort to learn his will for our lives. Here is my approach.

1) Listen. As I've written before, this is becoming a lost art in American society. People are often too busy talking to hear what anyone has to say, especially if they believe the other person might disagree with them. We generally don't learn very much with our mouths open and our lips flapping, however. We learn when we listen to what information people are disceminating, be it one-on-one, through the media, or via the written word.

2) Ask. Once you have received information, you need to question it. This is something painfully lacking in many of our churches. If the preacher says it, many of the people sitting in the pews accept it as fact. I've learned, however, that the people talking the loudest are often the ones who either have not done their homework and are not well versed on their subject or, even worse, they are intentionally misrepresenting information and counting on people not questioning their facts. Ask the questions. This needs to be done respectfully without challenging anyone's position of authority. We all should be on the same journey seeking truth.

3) Research. If someone gives you an interpretation of scripture, go back and read it yourself. It's even better if you review more than one translation, and review the context of the scripture. If somebody tells you that there is absolutely only one way to interpret a particular section of the bible, there is an excellent chance they are wrong. The bible is not an easy book to understand. Otherwise very intelligent people studying it through the filter of their own prejudices can still get it very, very wrong. When we stand up on judgement day, WE are responsible for the choices we made. If we accepted someone else's word at face value and they were wrong, then we're wrong and WE have to suffer the consequences along with them.

4) Pray and discern. Now it gets tough. It's hard to get into the habit of praying, and even harder to discern answers. One thing you can know, however, is that Jesus is listening. Our words in prayer will NEVER fall on deaf ears or be ignored. When we ask for wisdom or courage in deciding how to follow God, he will provide it to us. We may have to look very hard for the answers, however, and the more we pray and get into His word (the bible), the more accurately we will be able to discern his will.

5) Decide! Okay, now you've heard teachings and opinions, you've questioned them, done your homework, and prayed about them. The Lord is showing you what path to take. The hardest part is often stepping out in faith and following that path. Sometimes God will want us to give up things, other times he'll lead us to do things we don't think we want to do. Count on this, though--something I've learned the hard way--His will is a lot better for us than our own. If left to our own devices, we will ultimately self-destruct because that's how Satan can keep us away from having a nourishing relationship with Jesus. It's up to us as individuals to follow the path that God lays out for us.

We only have everything to gain by doing so.