January 02, 2009

Are "Religious" People Morally Superior?

Columnist and activist Wayne Besen takes a crack at that question in his latest column:

If 2008 taught the world one lesson, it is that religious people are not morally superior to those who are non-religious. Indeed, faith often shelters the shameless and provides cover for the most corrupt among us.

This is not to say that religious people are necessarily more corrupt. But, the myth that faith makes one less fallible and more pure must be punctured. This fable comes at a great cost to the holy who keep getting hosed. Charlatans are acutely aware that when religious institutions confer credibility, it is easier to con the credulous. Needless to say, churches, temples and mosques are often a refuge for reprobates. As escaped slave turned abolitionist Frederick Douglas noted in his tome “Autobiography,” the most devout Christians made the most brutal slave owners.

I'd love to send Wayne an e-mail ripping him a new one for such a negative view.

I would too if I didn't think his observations correctly reflected what's going on in today's soecity.

Much of Wayne's essay was about the Jewish faith, but his points are just as applicable to those who portray themselves as Christian. I put it that way because the only exception I take with this essay is replacing the phrase "faith" with "those portraying faith." People with true faith ARE different.

Those who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and receive the Holy Spirit go through a process of "sanctification," defined in this excerpt from the website Bible-Knowledge.com.

The different Bible dictionaries and commentaries define the word "sanctification" as follows:

  • The state of growing in divine grace
  • To set apart for holy purposes
  • The process of being made holy resulting in a changed lifestyle for the believer

Noted Bible scholar Jack Hayford, in his excellent book titled: " Hayford's Bible Handbook," defines sanctification as follows:

"The work of God's grace by which the believer is separated from sin and becomes dedicated to God's righteousness. Accomplished by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, sanctification results in holiness, or purification from the guilt and power of sin. Sanctification is instantaneous before God through Christ and progressive before man through obedience to the Holy Spirit and the Word."
If you can't sort out Christians from non-Christians, then those professing faith with their mouth are NOT walking it out with their life. Unfortunately, this type of failure makes it much more difficult for those who ARE sanctified to make a difference in the world since people can understandably be very skeptical of good intentions these days.

If Christianity looks a lot like not being a Christian, why should someone bother?

Sadly, a lot of people don't these days.

January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

What a difference a year can make!

When Brenda and I began 2008, we were struggling in several areas. She was fighting some serious health issues, had become recently unemployed, and was facing one roadblock after another in searching for a new home for us to rent. I was angry, frustrated, and at times resentful of my work situation.

As 2009 opens, Brenda's health is significantly better, she is settled into a new job close to home that she loves, and we are in a huge, beautiful home in a very nice neighborhood that as I write this is full of lovely Christmas decorations. I found a new job which has afforded me opportunities I had long since resigned myself to never having in my career.

There is some really good stuff going on in our lives, and as we ended 2008 with a lot of positive momentum, Brenda and I have expectations that we will continue to build on that and make 2009 the best year of our lives.

We both feel very strongly that this is only possible through the blessings of our Lord. We stayed faithful even when we were dealing with some serious issues in early 2008 and before. I'll never forget literally feeling my blood run cold when Brenda told me the year before that the growth in her breast was cancerous. Fortunately, it was caught very early and, even though she had to endure three procedures, there was not a need for chemo or radiation and she is completely clear of cancer today.

It is critical to remember in tough times that the Bible tells us we will be tested. Just because we accept Christ and are willing to serve in His ministry doesn't mean there will not be adversity in our lives:

1 Timothy 3:10 And let them also be tried and investigated and proved first; then, if they turn out to be above reproach, let them serve.....

I now understand why I had to wait until my 50th year to be presented with the career opportunity I have now--I wasn't ready. I was tested and came up short. Now, being stronger in my faith, having a deeper relationship with the Lord, and having developed a character more pleasing to Him, I'm ready. I must be or else he would not have pointed me in this direction.

I share this with you today to not only tell you how blessed Brenda and I are, but to remind all of my readers that this is available to you too. We haven't done anything special, only sought out the will of the Lord, stayed obedient, and kept our faith strong even when it wasn't easy.

Anyone can do this. If you need to change the direction of your life, I hope our story helps you consider turning to Christ, taking His hand, and letting him lead you in a better direction--toward Him. If you're not sure how to do that, drop me a note and I'll be glad to help.

Have a blessed 2009 everyone!

Who Needs a Savior?

So, who needs a savior anyway, and why?

Every living human being needs a savior. No living human being can measure up to God’s standards on their own. Even if someone lived a perfect life and never did anything wrong they would still require a savior. Why? Well, it goes back to the beginning……………………..

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God it started a chain reaction that would require divine intervention to fix. Disobedience became part of human nature. It was passed from generation to generation in the blood line; in the genes – the “sin gene” became a reality. Also, God had said that if this should happen, death would come out of it. But God didn’t mean a physical death. God was referring to eternal death.

You see, God created us to be eternal beings. Things only got messed up when Adam and Eve disobeyed. Gradually, they started to get old and sick and show the signs of age. The earth started growing weeds and pests. Everything got very difficult. It would require someone who did not possess the “sin gene” to make things right again. So, God decided to make it easy.

First God decided that since only one person caused the “sin gene” in the first place, that it would be acceptable for one person to stand in on behalf of everyone. But, there wasn’t any human being who could do it. That’s why God decided to turn into human form and be born as a human being, from a virgin, not born of the seed of man, but of the power of a perfect God. And they called him Jesus.

Then God decided that if anyone believed in Jesus and what He came to accomplish that it would count for them as if they did not have the “sin gene” any more. Pretty good deal, eh?

So, Jesus was born and lived a perfect life, and then was falsely accused and put to death in order to complete the process of fixing the blood line. Well, it wasn’t enough that God took care of the “sin gene” and then took care of the death penalty. God wanted to be able to give us the ultimate victory; the victory over eternal death. So, God raised Jesus from the dead to prove that everything was fixed and made right again once and for all.

Now, God gives each of us the opportunity to choose whether to believe in Him or not. We can choose eternal death, or we can choose eternal life.

Who needs a savior anyway? WE DO!!

If you would like to tell God that you believe in Jesus and what He did for us then just say this prayer.

God, I believe that Jesus is the Savior I need. I accept Him now and receive the eternal life that you promised. Thank you for making it so easy. Amen

If you prayed this prayer and believe it in your heart, please get in touch with us so we can rejoice with you!

December 30, 2008

Research Shows the Harm Done By Rejecting LGBT Kids

This sounds like a story from the annals of DUH, but there are far too many people who need to see cold, hard evidence of the harm they can do to kids to dismiss this research. From Bilerico:

For the first time, researchers have established a clear link between rejecting behaviors of families towards lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adolescents and negative health outcomes in early adulthood. The findings will be published in the January issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a peer-reviewed article titled "Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Young Adults." The paper, authored by Dr. Caitlin Ryan and her team at the César E. Chávez Institute at San Francisco State University, which shows that parents' rejecting behaviors towards their LGB children dramatically compromises their health, has far reaching implications for changing how families relate to their LGB children and how LGB youth are served by a wide range of providers across systems of care. The study and development of resource materials was funded by The California Endowment, a health foundation dedicated to expanding access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities.

"For the first time, research has established a predictive link between specific, negative family reactions to their child's sexual orientation and serious health problems for these adolescents in young adulthood--such as depression, illegal drug use, risk for HIV infection, and suicide attempts," said Caitlin Ryan, PhD, Director of the Family Acceptance Project at the César E. Chávez Institute at SF State and lead author of the paper. "The new body of research we are generating will help develop resources, tools and interventions to strengthen families, prevent homelessness, reduce the proportion of youth in foster care and significantly improve the lives of LGBT young people and their families."

"This study clearly shows the tremendous harm of family rejection, even if parents think they are well-intentioned, following deeply held beliefs or even protecting their children," said Dr. Sten Vermund, a pediatrician and Amos Christie Chair of Global Health at Vanderbilt University.

If anyone you know is in a family situation where there is a struggle to accept a GLBT youngster, please make sure they read this story so they can understand the consequences of not finding a resolution.

Click here to read the rest of the detail of this study at Bilerico.

December 29, 2008

"Is Gay the New Black?"

That's the title of an essay African-American GLBT activist and journalist Keith Boykin wrote a few days ago. Among the issues he discussed were the level of homophobia in the black community and how best to get more of them to support same-sex marriage. Here are a couple of excerpts: (hat tip to Freedom to Marry)


The issue is not whether blacks are homophobic or not. Of course we are. We all live in the same racist, sexist, classist, misogynist, homophobic, heterosexist, culturally imperialistic society. Everyone is affected by those prejudices at some level. The question, though, is whether blacks are more homophobic than others, and that depends, of course, on how you measure homophobia.

On the personal level for many black gays and lesbians, the black community certainly feels more homophobic for those who face the slings and arrows of insult from their friends, family, church members and co-workers. But on a political level, it's hard to prove that blacks are any more homophobic than whites.

Even back in the 1990s, when I wrote my first book, polls showed blacks were more supportive than whites of outlawing employment discrimination against gays, but blacks were still far less supportive of same-sex marriage than whites. How do you explain that?

Same Sex Marriage Support: Many critics of black homophobia fail to grasp the difference between the politically progressive and the socially conservative streaks in the African American community. To communicate effectively to blacks, you need to know how to frame these issues.

If you can figure out how to frame the gay question as a political issue for basic rights instead of a social issue about acceptance, then blacks are much more likely to support it. That's a hard sell for same-sex marriage because many blacks see marriage as a religious structure, not a civil institution. But it creates opportunities to learn effective messaging.

It's important to remember the messenger is just as important as the message. Straight black people are not likely to sympathize with white people preaching to them about the evils of gay discrimination. That's a message that can most effectively be delivered by other blacks, straight and gay. Until the white LGBT movement learns this obvious point and implements strategies to include many more LGBT people of color in positions of visibility and responsibility, they are doomed to repeat the same tragic mistakes of their past failures.

It's also not helpful for gays to equate one movement with another. The civil rights movement is not the same as the gay rights movement, racism is not the same as homophobia and blacks are not the same as gays.

Although there are similarities between the two movements, there are also major differences. But why do gay activists feel the need to prove the struggles are the same in the first place?

I think Boykin's point about the need to raise up black LGBT leaders to mobilize the black community is dead on. Let's face it, any minority will respond more to someone that looks like them and has a similar cultural heritage. Where are those black leaders, either gay or straight, with enough courage to go against the tide and help push their people into becoming stronger allies in the fight for equality?

Click here to read the rest of Keith Boykin's essay.

December 28, 2008

Another Convert in the Fight for Same-Sex Marriage

Caifornia Attorney General Jerry Brown has changed his mind. The former governor (once known as "Governor Moonbeam") and presidential candidate originally supported the legality of Proposition 8 which added discrimination against GLBT people to the state's constitution. He has recently changed his mind. From Time magazine:

With an 111-page legal brief that has surprised legal scholars, Brown reversed course and repudiated his previous statements indicating he'd likely support the legality of Prop 8. Instead, on Friday, he urged the state's Supreme Court to overturn the vote, a move that would infuriate conservatives who are still white-hot mad over the court's historic 4-3 decision that earlier this year prohibited all forms of discrimination against gays, and mandated the state issue marriage licenses to gay couples. In a wide-ranging interview, Brown told TIME that his view of the legal merits of the case had evolved over the past several weeks, and explained why he now thinks the right to gay marriage in California is as fundamental as such bedrock principles as the right to property and to liberty itself.

"Right from the beginning, it looked like the only question was whether the vote was an amendment to the state constitution or something more, a revision," Brown told TIME, explaining his original stance in favor of Prop 8's legality. "But the precedents for saying that the vote was a revision were very few. Based on that, I didn't think we could call it a revision, and therefore Prop 8 looked valid."

But as his staff of more than 30 lawyers began researching the case, Brown said a few urged him to look at the question from a much broader perspective. "Some of the staff said 'wait a minute, there is another way of looking at this.' The idea was that gay marriage involves a basic liberty interest, rights that formed a foundation for our Constitution, that we enjoyed even before California became a state. That was a new way to look at this." Rights like that, he came to believe, can't be taken away, at least not by something as simple as constitutional amendment by popular vote. Instead, those rights he said, are "inalienable" in the same sense that the Declaration of Independence speaks of inalienable rights.

"The issues raised here go far beyond the issue of same-sex marriage," Brown wrote in his brief. "The question is whether rights secured under the state Constitution's safeguard of liberty as an 'inalienable' right may intentionally be withdrawn from a class of persons by an initiative... This litigation, perhaps for the first time, poses a more fundamental question: Is the initiative-amendment power wholly unfettered by the California's Constitution's protection of the People's fundamental right to life, liberty and privacy?" In other words, aren't some rights so sacred that they can't be taken away?

Yes there are, and the right to legally marry the person with whom you have entered into covenant and want to share the rest of your life with is clearly one of them.

Click here to read the rest of the Time article.