April 08, 2006

The Truth Is Out There

I was struggling a bit trying to come up with a good post this morning. Being called a heretic and "a hell born child of Satan himself" as I was over on the Charisma message board I posted about on Wednesday had something to do with that. I reject their labeling, but it also doesn't give one a warm fuzzy either.

I then found a post while visiting Wes Ellis' wonderful blog "Living In the Kingdom" that I needed to see, titled "the truth is out there." After getting beat up because I didn't agree with the "absolute truth" subscribed to by the Charisma posters, Wes' words were very refreshing. Here's the part that really spoke to my heart:

"The problems don’t come when we’re uncertain of our faith. Real problems come when we are so certain that we start to think that our faith is the only faith that has any access to truth. We really enter the danger zone when we begin to think we have the market on truth. What was once faith becomes dogma, and not the good kind of dogma, but the kind that we feel must be protected at all costs. This dogma now becomes the center of our faith. Only by a subscription to this dogma, we believe, can someone really hold truth. This is a gravely dangerous thing. "

Wes is currently a theology student at Asuza Pacific University. We've corresponded before and he is still undecided about the place of homosexuals in God's kingdom. He has written about that on his blog and invited me to share ideas regarding that and other issues. Wes is a seeker searching God's ultimate truth. I believe I am also, and hope that something you read on either of our blogs encourages you to take that path yourself.

April 06, 2006

Racial Separation in the GLBT Community?

I've pondered that quesiton since I patricipated in Equality Maryland's lobby day rally earlier this year and noticed the only African-American faces I saw were invited speakers. I wondered if that was a fluke, then I heard that Julian Bond, one of the more respected African-American leaders, would not attend Coretta King's funeral because she had come out in support of gay rights. I then knew there was a deep seeded issue at work here.

This article from the Southern Voice delves into the issue of racial division in Atlanta, a city with one of the largest concentrated groups of African-Americans, GLBT people, and one could presume African-American GLBTs. While this piece does not come up with any firm conclusions, it is at least a good exploration of the issue.

I have heard two theories, neither of them scientifically researched. The first one, especially among Christian African-Americans, focuses on the strong "fundamentalist" teaching they receive in primarily African-American churches. The idea is that even as many fall away from the church as adults, they remember some of the basics drilled into them by the sermons they heard as children. We all know how "fundamentalists" feel about GLBTs.

The second theory deals with resentment. At the rally I attended, one of the primary themes put forth by the speakers, especially the African-American ones, was a push for civil rights. There was even a point where we were led in a couple of songs from the civil rights marches in the 1960's, which I thought was a bit over the top.

Anyway, the theory I have heard is that there is resentment among some of the prominent African-American leaders who could really help push for issues like same-sex marriage. Resentment derived from a feeling that the GLBT community is not entitled to ride on the coattails of civil rights icons like Martin Luther King. I can't help but find some merit in that. I believe those who are leading the fight for GLBT rights need to set their own tone and not try to hitch their wagon to civil rights battles fought long ago.

I am very interested in your thoughts here. It is an issue I will continue to study and post on from time to time when I have something of substance to share.

April 05, 2006

Visiting the "Other Side"

I mentioned in a recent post that I had visited a message board tied in with "Charisma Magazine" after they had published a strongly anti-gay column. After six days, 159 replies, and almost 2,000 views (some of whom then visited this blog), the discussion finally seems to be winding down. The experience has been illuminating and I think worth sharing some thoughts here.

Fellow blogger Bill Ware jumped in and helped me carry the debate about the place of homosexuality in Christianity. Bill and I both believe a person can be both homosexual and a christian who can have an active fellowship with God. We both feel the bible speaks very strongly about the sinfullness of promiscuity and that some of those scriptures have been interpreted in a way that makes many Christians believe the practice of homosexuality is an abomination (among other things) under any and all circumstances.

As you can imagine, Bill and I got beat up pretty badly over there. Bill shares some of his posts on his blog if you are curious, but not enough so to plow through that entire thread. I believe we had the same intent about participating, and that's what I want to share here.

When I posted my objections to the key points in the Charisma Magazine column, I did so with no realistic hope of changing minds of the hard-core members of that message board. Several of them, while staying civil for the most part, still hammered at their points to prove the sinfullness of homosexuality, and rejected out of hand the mere consideration that there could be another vaild interpretation of scripture. Bill and I have several of the regulars over there praying our salvation, since we obviously can't be saved in their eyes with our beliefs, so at least we've got that going for us.

I suspect that many Internet sites and message boards that lean to the left or the right, as most of them I've seen do, also attract vistors who have not put a stake in the ground on either side. If this issue was polled, they would be undecided. That's the group every politician campaigns to, and those are the people I was taking a verbal lashing for.

I am not a preacher, nor do I play one on TV. I only hope with my writing here and the work I do through my church to reach someone enough to get them to say "hmmm, that is worth considering." Whether I help them consider the ideas I have put out there, which I believe with my heart and mind are inspired by God, or they hear them and go off on their own to ponder and investigate them doesn't matter to me.

If I can help people just stop and think, I'm already shaking the "fundamentalists" up because it is painfully obvious to me they don't want anyone to do that.

Instead of wanting people to follow me like sheep, I want to direct them to the love of Jesus so they can follow him and be fed by the Holy Spirit. If I can help get them pointed in that directions, the next step is between them and Jesus.

I would encourage any of you who can stomach it to participate in forums that may be hostile to your viewpoints, and even to you personally. In order to spread the enlightenment that can only come from opening your heart and mind to the love of Jesus, sometimes we need to go and meet people where they are, then see if they will follow us back to where we are.

April 04, 2006

World War on Gays

I am extremely pleased that this blog has an international readership, having been visited by people in 66 nations since I began it a few months ago. I usually keep my commentary on news events to those in the United States because I stick to what I know.

Given the international flavor of my visitors, I thought it was well worth linking this column by Andrew Sullivan in The Advocate magazine. He writes about discrimination and persecution against GLBTs running rampant across the globe. From refusal to allow a gay pride parade in Moscow to a prohibition of public speaking in favor of gay equality in Nigeria to gay teens being hanged in Iran, Sullivan brings home the point that GLBT equality, even safety, is not an issue restricted to the borders of the United States.

The saying goes "Think globally, act locally," but GLBT individuals and their allies need to make sure to both think and act beyond our own borders whenever possible.

April 02, 2006

What Has Happened to America's Jesus?

I recently ran across a piece that speaks to a lot of concerns I have about Jesus' position in American society.

The columnist, Rob Borsellino, went to Sicily, Italy to visit family. His piece was based on how he would tell his family about how Jesus is viewed in this country. This excerpt in particular struck me:

"Several times during the week, I thought about telling my family what's happened to Jesus in the United States — how he's been kidnapped by politicians and preachers who decide what he does and doesn't think. They speak for him, and it doesn't always make sense.

They say Jesus is "pro life," but he doesn't seem to have a problem with the death penalty. And he thinks stem cell research — something that would save lives — is no different from murdering babies. They say he's the embodiment of kindness, love, decency and compassion. But he hates gays, lesbians and Muslims. And he's not too crazy about Buddhists, Hindus and the rest. Jews? He can put up with them if he has to.

The Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka claims to speak for Jesus and goes around the country talking about how "AIDS cures fags." Pat Robertson says it would be a good idea if the United States killed the president of Venezuela. It would be a lot cheaper than starting another war.

All week I went over that stuff in my head and decided not to mention any of it to the family.
It would make America look ridiculous."

It sure would. Too bad it's true.