September 23, 2006

Evangelicals May Stay Home On Election Day

As hard as it may be to believe, this report tells us that there is enough dissatisfaction among conservative evaneglical voters to put their turnout at the polls in November at risk.

Although the religious right has dominated the debate on issues like same-sex marriage, the fact that they have not forced a complete surrender among it's advocates has resulted in some disappointment with the Republicans who have been at the forefront of that and other so-called "values issues."

Of course, the folks at Focus on the Family are doing their best to keep the pot stirred. They are distrubiting a DVD titled, "Why Not Gay Marriage?" The video answers ten questions such as "How will my same-sex marriage hurt your marriage?" and "Is it healthy to subject children to experimental families?"

Many churches around the nation are holding "non-partisan" voter registration drives. Anything to do with a political election that is conducted in a church, while it may not be illegal, is in my view simply wrong, regardless of the "non-partisan" focus. Do ministers go and preach the gospel at polling locations? I don't think so.

Harry Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, said religious progressives are beginning to speak out on gay marriage and other issues.

He said, for example, that the Human Rights Campaign recently launched its "Out In Scripture," a free weekly online resource to help clergy in planning their sermons and spiritual discussion groups.

"People on our side of the conversation, who have been silent for a long time, are tired of being silent," Knox said.

Amen to that!

Thanks to Jerry Maneker's site, "A Christian Voice for GLBT Rights" for the link.

September 22, 2006

"Old Time Religion With a Gay Twist"

Wayne Besen has an interesting column up on his site about a revival meeting in the foothills of western North Carolina led by ex-gay minister Tim Wilkins.

Besen attended the meeting and noticed a surprising dynamic in the audience:

"Most significant, however, was when Wilkens asked the crowd if they knew someone who was gay. A sea of hands rose and the preacher remarked that when he asked this question ten years ago, less than 10 percent of audiences raised their hands. Today, he said, the number can exceed eighty percent of a congregation. Here, in the foothills, it was becoming clear that the gay community had gained a foothold. The crowd was not there to gripe about homosexuals, but searching for ways to grapple with a loved one who had come out."

We can only pray that Wilkins' message didn't do too much harm to the relationships between those folks who raised their hands and the GLBT people that caused them to be in the air.

September 21, 2006

Changing My Policy on Comments

I do most of the talking on this blog, but I also listen and learn from the input I receive from my terrific readers. Recently, I have received some very constructive feeback, both publicly and privately, regarding the increase in negative comments being posted here.

When I started this blog, my goal was to keep it as an open forum where people on both sides of issues relating to the GLBT community could have a say. While I still think this is the ideal approach, it has become clear to me that it is not a viable one. My first priority here is to advocate for GLBT individuals, to be a place that gay Christians can come and receive the word of God and updates on issues relevant to them. I also want it to be a safe place for GLBT people who are struggling and have been deeply wounded by the homophobic religious right. I want them to be able to come here and find some word that will help them start the healing process and realize that God loves them just as much as he does me and Pastor Brenda.

The bottom line is I want this to be a safe place for GLBT people, somewhere they can come without having to worry about being attacked. In the spirit of trying to keep an open forum, I have allowed people to post some very hateful messages. Even thought they have been responded to in kind, I have grown to understand that the fact they are here in the first place can be hurtful. For anyone who has read some of those comments and been angered or hurt, please accept my apology.

It won't happen again.

If anyone wants to question scripture references and ask how I can feel a certain way, read the blog. I'm approaching nearly 300 posts and covered a lot of ground. If you're asking a sincere question, the answers are probably there. If not, don't bother posting a comment. If you want to post slanderous, homophobic, bigoted, hateful messages, take it somewhere else or start your own blog. Those type of comments will be deleted without exception.

Anybody who wants to challenge me on something is welcome to send an e-mail to I continue to hope there are people out there who will read the material here and ask questions with an open mind. Those folks are still welcome to comment and join our discussions.

Rather than stiffle discussion here, I want to encourage it. I often find the constructive comments here are better than my original post. Many readers have commented to me that this blog has been a blessing to them. Well, it works both ways--people who actively participate here have richly blessed me.

Aren't we all supposed to support and help each other grow? Isn't that what God had in mind when He first popluated the earth?

September 20, 2006

WHOSOEVER: Don't let anger make you sin

"Be angry, but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, neither give place to the devil." Ephesians 4:26,27 MOD

God knew we would have occasion to be angry. More than that, God knew we would have occasion to be filled with wrath. God also knew that being in a place of anger or wrath can potentially make us vulnerable to the devil. So, in God's loving wisdom and kindness, He made a way for us to stay clear of the devil's influence. He instructs us to get over it. He instructs us to not let a day go by before we deal with the anger. Otherwise, we leave ourselves wide open to the attacks of the enemy just like blood in the water where sharks are feeding.

God would not have given us such instructions if it weren't possible to accomplish. The Holy Spirit is ever present to give us strength, guidance, and comfort. All we have to do is call on His help..... and get over it.

September 19, 2006

"I Hate Being Gay"

I found this gut-renching essay on The written by a young man named Kyle Rice in Washington State. Kyle is fighting a battle in his heart and soul that he appears to be losing. For example:

"I focus on fighting efforts to force the "gay agenda" on those of us who know God does not accept homosexuality. Although I do not condone discrimination, I also do not support gay marriage laws or many of the other issues backed by gay rights groups. I am a proud conservative Republican, and I support political candidates who feel the same way I do."

Kyle is so indoctrinated by the religious right's message of condemnation that he supports legislation that restricts his own rights. He's also deep into self-loathing, writing:

"I know God would not approve of me acting on my gay feelings, and I have no right to question his directive. I know that in the end I will be happy I lived my life according to God’s standards the best that I could. That means refusing to accept being gay."

People like Kyle are one of the primary groups my church and this blog are trying to reach out to. It appears he has never been taught that he doesn't have to choose between being a Christian or accepting himself for who he is because God accepts him.

Sadly, I very strongly believe that he is mistaken in his belief that he can deny who he really is and still live a happy life. He and many others like him have allowed Satan to speak to him through those who don't understand or intentionally misrepresent God's word and prevent him from experiencing the fullness of life as a gay Christian.

I hope you will join me in praying that Kyle Rice can soon accept himself for who he is and discover the life that God has planned for him.

September 18, 2006

The Hypocrisy of James Dobson

I write a lot about Dr. Dobson and his campaign of hate and discrimination against the GLBT community. Here is another piece about Dobson that echoes many of the sentiments I have expressed on this blog. The writer, Robert Parham, is the executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

He writes, "Dobson may have finally gone too far in pushing a political agenda under the guise of morality. Sincere pastors may finally turn him off for transgressing the boundaries between conservative Christian values and political conservative leaders."

We can only hope.

September 17, 2006

Series on Christianity and Homosexuality

David W. Shelton, a gay Christian who is pastor of Christian Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, was kind enough to let me know about an in-depth series he is writing about Christianity and Homosexuality.

David is meticulously going through the key scriptures that are often used by the religious right to condemn homosexuality. It is some excellent work that is worth taking time to read.

Thanks for the head's up David.

Click here to read David's series on his blog, "Skipping to the Piccolo"

Clarifying Where I Stand

Some of the regular readers of this blog have probably followed the discussion between myself, a man who posts as “Stuffed Animal,” and Jerry Maneker. Both of them, particularly Stuffed Animal, have taken me to task for being willing to engage in dialogue with those who feel that homosexuality is a sin. I have found Stuffed Animal’s comments to be driven by a deep, perhaps even visceral, anger at injustices done to him and other GLBT people. He has taken offense to my toleration of anti-homosexual comments on this blog, a view which Jerry appears to share.

I have written that I disagree with an approach that, in my opinion, too closely resembles that of the bigots that cause such pain and draw GLBT people into self-loathing and other negative views of life. The anger that comes across in Stuffed Animal’s comments troubles me and I have commented to him that I don’t feel he’s channeling it in a positive, constructive manner. The response from Stuffed Animal has been that by tolerating views that do not directly and strongly support the place of GLBT people in the Kingdom of God, I am doing a disservice to the community and compromising the effectiveness of my advocacy.

Fair enough. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of how to most effectively advocate equality for GLBT people in politics and the church.

Over on Jerry’s blog, Stuffed Animal continues to write about this blog, dialoging with Jerry. He refers to me as “Rev. Jim” when I am not in fact an ordained minister or have ever claimed to be. My wife is, but not me. No big deal, in fact I took it as a compliment.

He got another fact very, very wrong that has angered me and needs to be corrected lest anyone draw the same incorrect conclusion.

Stuffed Animal posted, “Deep down, I believe Jim accepts the lie that God condemns homosexuality as sinful, and that's why he can't see it for the damaging thing that it is. He thinks that if the Bible bullies will just stop being so virulent, and the Gay activists will just stop being so militant, then we can all find common ground and sit quietly together in church.”

That is simply a load of crap. I was disappointed that Jerry agreed with it since he and I have shared numerous constructive exchanges over the last few months.

It is beyond me how any reasonable person can read this blog and draw that conclusion. Nonetheless, just in case someone else could, allow me to state how I feel very, very clearly.

I believe that all people are equal in God’s eyes regardless of the sexual orientation they are born with. We are equal brothers and sisters who have redemption available to us because Christ sacrificed Himself for our sins. I believe couples of the same-sex should have equal rights to marry just like Brenda and I did. I believe God blesses monogamous, covenant relationships regardless of the genders of the partners. I believe God loathes promiscuity regardless of the gender of the participants. I believe GLBT people need legal protections, not “special rights” to protect their ability to hold down jobs, adopt children, and do anything and everything I can do as a straight person without having to stay in the closet.

My wife, Pastor Brenda, believes the same things. She has ministered to the GLBT community for nearly 20 years and is one of the people who continue to enlighten me about the injustices and ministry needs of GLBT people.

If anyone doubts that I feel this way, please check out anything I have posted on this blog. If you see something I wrote that makes you think Stuffed Animal is right, I would sincerely like to know. Perhaps I misstated something or put it in a way that was not clear, that’s always possible.

Just show me the courtesy of telling me directly, either by commenting on the blog or by e-mail. I’d rather not stumble across negative comments about me on someone else’s blog.