December 23, 2006

"Lesbians of Mass Destruction"

One of the wittiest yet fundamentally sound arguements in favor of same-sex couples having children can be found in this column in Slate. Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts:

The 30-year search for proof that gay parents are destructive looks a lot like the hunt for WMD. The American Psychological Association has compiled abstracts of 67 studies. Some are plainly biased, and only the latest two or three have avoided the methodological flaws of earlier investigations. But after 67 tries, you'd expect the harm of gay parenting to show up somewhere. Yet in study after study, on measure after measure, kids turn out the same.

If you're going to base family policy on averages, the chief problem isn't stepparents; it's men. That's what "pro-family" groups keep covering up. According to Focus on the Family, "Increased risks of physical and sexual child abuse at the hands of non-biological parents are another serious concern for same-sex families." Nope, not for lesbians. The latest study cited by the group actually concludes that the "key risk factors are living with a stepfather or the mother's boyfriend." Of 55 child deaths reviewed in the study, zero were caused by a stepmother or by a biological mother in a stepfamily or live-in relationship. Other studies show the same pattern in child abuse generally.

As we've recently been reminded, James Dobson really hates letting facts get in the way of his rhetoric of discrimination. It's nice to see someone on a national platform setting the record straight. I'm personally sick to death of hearing about Mary Chaney's baby, but it her pregnancy can focus some positive attention to same-sex couples raising children, that's a good thing.

December 22, 2006

Pope: Gay Relationships "Dismal"

Pope Benedict showed the world again on Friday that he just doesn't get, he isn't likely to get it, and he doesn't WANT to get it. This from the report on

He (the Pope) said that those who support gay unions endorse "dismal theories" that strip all relevance from the masculinity and femininity of the human being as though it were a purely biological issue."

That is either nonsensical or impossibly rigid and closed-minded. Then again, the Catholic Church isn't exactly known for being progressive now, is it?

"And so joining a man and a woman, and two people of the same sex becomes the same," Benedict said. "With that, the ominous theories that deny any relevance to the human person's masculinity and femininity are tacitly confirmed."

Given the well documented problems the Catholic Church has had with its priests and, shall I say gently, their own masculinity, this approach to the issue of same-sex marriage seems particularly flawed.

It is this kind of leadership that has the Catholic Church heading toward inevitable irrelevance.

December 21, 2006

"Why Defense of Gays Matters"

As you can imagine, the title of this column by Leonard Pitts, Jr. Like myself, Mr. Pitts is not gay so he is asked this question. He answers it very well in his column. He writes:

I have yet to learn how to segregate my moral concerns. It seems to me if I abhor intolerance, discrimination and hatred when they affect people who look like me, I must also abhor them when they affect people who do not. For that matter, I must abhor them even when they benefit me. Otherwise, what I claim as moral authority is really just self-interest in disguise.

I can't put it any better than that myself.

Thanks to Dr. Jerry Maneker for the tip.

December 20, 2006

"Episcopalians Against Equality"

That's the title of this op-ed piece in the Washington Post regarding the succession of nine Episcopal parishes in Virginia from the U. S. Episcopal Church. This part really struck me:

In slamming the door on their American co-religionists, the two largest parishes, which are in Fairfax City and Falls Church, also announced their affiliation with the Episcopal Church of Nigeria. The presiding Nigerian archbishop, Peter Akinola, promotes legislation in his country that would forbid gays and lesbians to form organizations or to eat together in restaurants and that would send them to jail for indulging in same-gender sexual activity. Akinola's agenda so touched the hearts of the Northern Virginia faithful that they anointed him, rather than Jefferts Schori, as their bishop.

That goes a bit further than the "hate the sin, love the sinner" line many anti-gay churches spout off. Check out the rest of this excellent column.

December 19, 2006

Episcopal Parishes in Virginia Break Away Over Gays

From The Advocate:

Two of the most prominent and largest Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted overwhelmingly Sunday to leave the Episcopal Church and join fellow Anglican conservatives to form a rival denomination in this country. Truro Church in Fairfax and the Falls Church (located in the city of Falls Church) plan to place themselves under the leadership of Anglican archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has called the growing acceptance of same-sex relationships a "satanic attack" on the church.

I respect the right of these and other churches to follow a different path, but the reason for it saddens me. The further splintering of God's people--that's Satan's work.

December 18, 2006

Book Review: "The Rainbow Kindgom: Christianity & the Homosexual Reconciled

There have been several books written in recent years with the purpose of reconciling homosexuality and Christianity, but if you want an easy-to-understand version that covers the basics, David W. Shelton’s “The Rainbow Kingdom: Christianity and the Homosexual Reconciled” (129 pages, Lulu, $12.95) is an excellent choice.

Shelton, who has covered this topic extensively on his blog, “Skipping To The Piccolo, wrote in the preface of his book:

"This volume is not meant to be an exhaustive resource for the theological and Biblical study on the topic of homosexuality. It’s not even meant to replace other volumes that have covered this topic so well. Most of the book is based on my own life and studies of Scripture."

With this approach, Shelton delivers a book that contains a good depth of research but also reaches readers on a personal level, one where both straight and gay people alike can walk through the steps he lays out and understand how he reaches his conclusions. As I read it, I felt like I was taking that step-by-step walk with Shelton which made it easy to invest the time to read the book and also to buy in to his message.

Shelton is a pastor and gay man who lives in Tennessee, yet he is careful not to be defined by either label and cautions his GLBT brothers and sisters to avoid that pitfall. In what I found one of the more profound and moving passages in the book, Shelton wrote:

“Any part of our lives, whether it’s our job, our favorite food, our music, and our sexuality…..hetero or homo…..can be allowed to become something so important in our lives that it becomes the very thing that defines it.

I believe that when we start looking at those who have spoken such verbal violence toward us in recent decades with a kind of dismissive disdain that we start to judge them, then our sexuality has become a master. In other words, when our sexuality becomes so important that it’s the filter through which we judge others, then it’s exactly the kind of thing that we accuse “them” of doing."

I think this is a point that sometimes gets lost in the struggle for GLBT rights. I have run across a number of gay people who are so caught up in being gay and fighting the good fight that they lose track of everything else around them. I have a deep respect for the work that activists do, but everyone needs an anchor to reality—there is more to live than any one thing, even our sexuality.

“The Rainbow Kingdom: Christianity and the Homosexual Reconciled” is broken up into two parts. In the first half, Shelton goes through the “clobber passages” of Scripture, giving a thorough analysis of the key verses. He does so in an easy to follow style, telling a story rather than writing a scholarly essay.

Shelton then systematically walks through the issues of context and the factors of society at the time Biblical events occurred that have been misinterpreted and misrepresented through the centuries and comes to the well-supported conclusion that these passages do NOT condemn homosexuality as sinful. He points out that there were many sinful acts committed by homosexuals, but they were actually cast in the same net as heterosexuals, a critical point many scholars and Christians have missed over the years.

Shelton starts the second half of the book by reviewing some of the pertinent Biblical stories, starting with David and Jonathan. He presents some very clear evidence to support the view that they had a homosexual relationship. Shelton points out that this relationship did not diminish the stature of either man in God’s eyes or that of the church.

The book concludes with Shelton’s thoughts on how a GLBT person should walk out this knowledge that he or she can reconcile their homosexuality and Christianity. He urges the community to rise up:

"It’s time for us to end our denial, come out of the closet, and to embrace our faith. We can reconcile. We can hope. We can live, dream, and love. We can worship, sing, pray, and yes, even have faith.

We can be gay. We MUST be gay. And we must be Christian. And most importantly, we must be OUT. In doing so, we can begin to show the world around us that we are not a contradiction at all. Instead, we’ll show that we are men and women of God who happen to be gay.

We need to reclaim the promises of Christ. As we leave the closet and reenter the Church, we do so with our heads held high and our hearts turned toward God. We should live as examples of stability, integrity, and honor."

I believe Shelton’s points here are critically important. I have written here time and again how no one can fully serve God and utilize the gifts He gave us if we don’t accept who we are. If you are gay, you must accept that to realize the full potential of the life that God wants you to have.

It is also important for gay Christians to set the example Shelton writes about to serve as a beacon of light to draw others from the darkness that life without Christ sentences them to. He emphasizes that point at the conclusion of the book:

"We can stand tall with confidence before the throne of grace, and before the judgements of others and know that God has not only called us, but empowered us. He called us to love, to show mercy, and to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations.

That, dear friend, is how we should live in the Rainbow Kingdom."

David W. Shelton has painted a wonderful picture of the Rainbow Kingdom which is worth your time to check out. You can order a copy at the book's official website.

December 17, 2006

Shameless Plug for the Music of Apostle Dale

Over the year and a half I've written this blog, I've shared about my church, Believers' Covenant Fellowship, and our pastor, Apostle Dale Jarrett, on a fairly regular basis. I'm proud to call Apostle Dale my pastor and my friend, and I want to show you another side of him here today.

Dale is a gifted musician who leads the worship music every Sunday. I have never seen him need sheet music to play his piano--he does it entirely by memory! He is also a great singer and has recently recorded a wonderful CD of big band/swing music titled "By Request."

Dale has just put up a website to celebrate his work, Dale Jarrett Music, and you can click through there or just click here to sample "By Request." Dale told me he came up with the title because the songs he selected are ones he has been frequently asked to play over the years.

You can also read Dale's biography on his website and realize he is a multi-dimensional man, a committed minister to both the GLBT and senior communities, a gifted entertainer in several genres of music, a committed partner and a wonderful friend.

I encourage you to check out his music, not just his current release but his previous dinner music CD, a Christmas collection, and a worship CD which Pastor Brenda also sang on.

They'll make lovely stocking stuffers.