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Today was Laity Sunday, when our pastor gets to sit with her husband in the congregation as the lay members run the service. I gave the sermon, using data from a book called “UnChristian: What a New Generation Thinks about Christianity… and why it matters”. Briefly, a survey of non-Christian youth (16-29 years old when it was published 5 years ago) revealed that nearly all of them describe Christians as anti-homosexual, judgmental, and hypocritical. This is not news to the gay community, of course, but this time the conclusion comes from careful research done by an evangelical Christian organization. The book has blunt advice about what Christian churches should do about it.

My sermon used this study to talk about what is wrong with the Christian response to homosexuality, what has been going on in my own denomination (United Methodist) toward acceptance of homosexuals, my own evolution on that subject, and where I want my church to go. Note, I used “homosexual” in this sermon instead of the broader term LGBT because most of my listeners wouldn’t have understood the latter term, but that’s what I meant. Continue after the squiggle if you want to know more, including the rise of “reconciling congregations” within the United Methodist Church.

UPDATE: Thank you for the excellent comments, both friendly and otherwise. I wish to call your attention to this comment in particular, which gives details of the extent to which John Wesley & his "Holy Club" both included and defended a homosexual man, despite hostile criticism.

A few weeks ago, the Gospel lesson was the passage where Jesus asks the disciples who people say he is. Jesus didn’t need to ask the disciples who people said they were. The answer would have been obvious: we are your followers, and people think so because we follow you around!

But it’s a relevant question today: who do outsiders think we Christians are? What words do they use to describe us? Five years ago, an Evangelical Christian group that does opinion research was hired to find out who outsiders think Christians are. They published the results in a book called “UnChristian”. They focused mostly on the outsiders age 16-29 (21-34 today). They knew that there were a lot of negative perceptions, but they wanted to know details so that they’d understand how to reach this age group.

What they found was disturbing. 91% described Christianity as “anti-homosexual” – not just opposed to gay sex, but hostile to all gays and lesbians. 87% described us as “judgmental”. And 85% said we are “hypocritical”. More than 2/3 also described us as too political, out of touch with reality, old fashioned, insensitive, and boring. Over 2/3 also said we were friendly & have good values, but the top results are anti-homosexual, judgmental, and hypocritical.

Now, it’s easy to brush this off by saying that these young outsiders aren’t interested in joining a church, don’t want the discipline of trying to live a righteous life, and have heard bad things about us from the media and other second-hand sources. But those arguments don’t work. Most of these young people have a lot of first-hand experience with Christians – and they cited it in the interviews.

For example, a single mother described how ready her church members were to offer advice on how to raise her son. But a lot of the advice involved reminding her that she didn’t have a husband. And most of them didn’t follow their own advice in raising their own children! That’s judgmental and hypocritical. She is no longer part of any church. Christians drove her away from Christ.

Worse, 80% of the young church-goers they interviewed also said that Christianity is anti-homosexual, and over half said we’re judgmental and hypocritical. So, this is not just a problem with how outsiders see us.  I personally know three young people who left the church for precisely these three reasons. Of the three, one eventually went back to attending church. So far as I know, the other two have never been to church again since then.

The complaint about hypocrisy comes from the same reason that Jesus criticized the Pharisees: we say one thing and do another. That’s actually true of every one of us: none of us lives up to what we say we believe. But as the young outsiders see it, we’re just doing what everyone does: we want to make ourselves look good. That’s also what Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing. The only solution I know is to be open about our flaws and weaknesses. We need to show the world that we don’t claim to be perfect people – we are people who need Christ’s love and forgiveness.

And that brings us to judgment. Many of us older than 40 believe that the way to show that we are Christians is through a righteous lifestyle. That generally means following lists of rules, which naturally leads to judging those who don’t follow the same rules. There are two problems with this. First, the surveys showed that the lifestyles of Christians really aren’t that different from the rest of the world, except in a few areas like owning more Bibles.

More importantly, rules aren’t what our calling in Jesus is all about. Jesus always put people ahead of rules. Jesus was willing to talk with anyone and respond to their needs. What matters is not telling people what’s wrong, but helping them in their situations. And though God’s judgment of their situation is always right, ours is not. When we judge people instead of caring about them, we drive them away from Christ. And we find ourselves doing what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for: placing heavy burdens on people’s shoulders, then not lifting a finger to help.

And that brings us to anti-homosexual. The book "UnChristian" was written by & largely for evangelicals, so the author believes that homosexual intimacy is a sin in all times and places. That’s still the majority view among Christians in general. But many Christians go much farther, believing that homosexuals are incapable of acting morally, that they are all part of a subversive movement, and that it’s best to avoid having gay friends, to stay clear of that “lifestyle”.  

The study showed that majority attitudes among born-again Christians include that gay sex should once again be illegal, that gay teachers should be able to be fired, and that money shouldn’t be given to fight AIDS. As one pastor relates, during a plague in the 3rd century, Christians risked their lives to help those who were sick, and that message was not forgotten. But when otherwise healthy gay men started dying for no known reason in the 1980’s, the church self-righteously proclaimed God’s judgment. This message also, has not been forgotten.

Transforming this kind of hypocritical judgment – for we all are sinners deserving God’s wrath – is not easy. It requires changing fundamental attitudes and unquestioned assumptions. I grew up hearing and believing the same things about homosexuality that I suppose most of us my age heard. I don’t claim to have erased all of that from my heart as yet. But for me, the first step was recognizing, as Paul wrote, that it is not my right to judge the servant of another. In one of the stories in “unChristian", an Evangelical tells a gay friend, “It would be dishonest for me to pretend that I agree with or understand the path you believe is right, but I accept that you are free to choose your own life course.” That’s a good start.

For a Methodist view of this issue, we can turn to Pastor Adam Hamilton. In 2001 he published a book called “Confronting the Controversies”. It is the text of seven sermons he gave about multiple opposing Christian views of controversial topics. In the preface he wrote that “Thinking, compassionate and caring people of faith can hold opposite positions on such issues. That doesn’t mean that both positions are right, but persons on both sides… will likely have valid points to make in the debate.” For each topic, he presents the Biblical and theological arguments for two or more positions. Then he gives his own current position.

One issue that is NOT in the book is women serving as pastors. That’s a controversial subject in many denominations, but United Methodists settled it long ago. Still, I remember when sincere people would complain that Scripture clearly states that women cannot be leaders in the church. Of course, there’s also the place where Paul said there is no male or female in Christ. But that’s not why we have women as pastors. As our former Pastor Barbara Heber said to me, when God calls you to the ministry, you don’t reply “I can’t because I’m a woman:” you find a denomination that lets you answer the call.

Our founder John Wesley went through a similar transformation, first deciding that lay men could be preachers, then allowing women to lead Methodist Societies so long as they didn’t preach, and finally authorizing women to preach, on the grounds that God could not object to anything that is a blessing to his people.

I don’t know of anything John Wesley wrote about homosexuality, but I do know that as a young man he risked his reputation and got a lot of criticism because of ministering to such men in prison – at the time it was a serious crime. So clearly Wesley felt that God’s grace extended even to this despised minority – and so does Adam Hamilton.

In the final chapter of Adam’s book, he presents the arguments for and against same-sex intimacy being a sin. The argument in favor cites all of the Bible verses we’ve heard before. The argument against points out three main things. (1) We already reject many of the rules in the Old Testament, so why not reject the ones on homosexuality, (2) Jesus said nothing on this topic, and (3) Some Biblical scholars have concluded that the Greek word Paul used that we translate as homosexuality actually refers to the common Greek practice of men taking young boys as lovers.

Adam Hamilton’s own view in 2001 was that it’s a sin. To justify this view, he explained that human anatomy is clearly designed so that sex between men and women is more natural than any other combination. To me that sounds like saying that the natural way to get around is by walking upright on your own two feet. That’s great advice for most of us, but if your feet or legs or back don’t work that way, that advice is at best pointless, and at worst is a profound rejection of the nature of the body God gave you.

By then I knew that the science was pretty clear: some people are born without the ability to feel sexual attraction for people of the opposite sex, and with the ability to feel sexual attraction for people of the same sex. And for such people, it cannot be changed: it was genetic or part of fetal development, not a choice, and medical science can’t fix those things. If homosexual intimacy is a sin, their only choice is celibacy – which is a burden that many are happy to impose on them.

Many years ago, my wife said something that crystallized the issue for me. She pointed out that we as a society condemned homosexuals as promiscuous – but we did not allow them to form stable couples. In my limited observation, making the commitment to get married – and being accepted as such by those around you – is very different from just living together. But even that was often denied to homosexuals. It is still the case in many places that to be known as gay or lesbian risks social censure, loss of your job, or even physical danger. And it’s not as if heterosexuals are not intensively promiscuous, even married ones. So in this attitude we combined anti-homosexual, judgmental, and hypocritical in one nasty package. This is why I finally concluded that I must support gay marriage. How could I deny them what has been such a blessing to me? How could I impose that burden?

I don’t know Adam Hamilton’s views on gay marriage. But in 2005 he reissued his book with just one revision. After the chapter on homosexuality, he wrote to pastors that some day a gay couple may walk into their church and say that they are married. Adam wrote that whatever your views on homosexuality, you must accept them and minister to them as a married couple, because legally they are.

Since then, Adam’s views on this issue have gotten more complex. He has now served as a pastor long enough to have baptized numerous babies who grew up, were confirmed, and then came out to him as gay. It’s amazing how knowing people who are affected by a principle challenges our black & white assumptions. It encourages us to treat them as individuals, as Christ did. I think Adam’s view is now that even though heterosexuality is God’s normative plan, it may be that God provided a backup plan for gay people. So he is now no longer sure of the answer he was certain of for so long.

For this reason, last May Adam Hamilton co-sponsored a petition to the UMC General Conference (a world meeting held every four years). I’ll cite two key paragraphs: A significant minority of our church views the scriptures that speak to same-sex intimacy as reflecting the understanding, values, historical circumstance, and sexual ethics of the period in which the scriptures were written, and therefore believe these passages do not reflect the timeless will of God. They read the scriptures related to same-sex intimacy in the same way that they read the Bible’s passages on polygamy, concubinage, slavery, and the role of women in the church.

We commit to disagree with respect and love, we commit to love all persons and, above all, we pledge to seek God’s will. With regard to homosexuality, as with so many other issues, United Methodists adopt the attitude of John Wesley who once said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.” The final answer was “we may not”: the petition was voted down, 53% to 47%.

I want to close by telling a story about the son of a friend who attended our church for a brief time. Later he attended a praise service at another United Methodist church with my wife & me. Each week during the prayer time, a certain woman gave an impassioned prayer to save the church from the sin of homosexuality, to defeat the evil of gay marriage, and so on. I don’t remember what all she said, but I always responded with a plea that God would teach us all to love each other.

It wasn’t enough. You see, my friend’s son is gay, though few knew it. He stuck it out for a few weeks, and then he quit going. So far as I know he has never returned to a church. I feel that I failed him, though I’m still not sure what else I should have done. That woman’s judgmental words drove him away from God. Jesus said that it is better to tie a millstone around your neck and be drowned in the sea, rather than cause one of these children to stumble.  I’m sure that woman has no idea of the evil her words accomplished.

And yet, this has been the ministry of most of the Christian church to the gays and lesbians among us for many years. But there are other choices. A year ago last July, my wife and I visited the church we attended when I was in grad school. We learned that it had become a “Reconciling Congregation”. Such a United Methodist church welcomes all people, explicitly including people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The goal of the reconciling movement is to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.

For today, I ask that we accept Adam Hamilton’s petition that we commit to disagree on the issue of homosexuality with respect and love. I ask that we reflect on the ways our words and actions may turn people away from God, and commit to love all persons as Christ loves them. I pray that this church may be a place of welcome for all God’s children. And what we pray here on earth, may God establish in heaven. Amen.

Originally posted to TheMeansAreTheEnd on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:16 PM PDT.

Also republished by Angry Gays, Milk Men And Women, and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks (5+ / 0-)

    for putting together such a thoughtful diary!

  •  The Means - a very moving diary (3+ / 0-)

    Thank you.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:34:04 PM PDT

  •  The founder of Methodism is John Wesley (5+ / 0-)

    This is how Wesley dealt with homosexuals in his midst:

    Wesley's ministry is exemplary in the context of the present case. In practice, Wesley shunned bigotry, controversially including an actual homosexual (14). The Holy Club's ministry with Blair a protégé of Wesley who was also a homosexual and imprisoned for sodomy provides context for the Judicial Council's current deliberations. Members of Wesley's Holy Club "showed an unconventional and unpopular sympathy" for Blair. Nowhere in fourteen journal entries does Wesley judge Blair; instead, Wesley read to him, contacted his attorney, and wrote his legal case. On November 14, 1732, however, some Methodists met at a local inn to discuss Blair's case. People criticized Wesley and the Methodists, believing it would be better for Blair to suffer in prison than to associate Methodism with homosexuality. Despite hostile criticism, Wesley and the Holy Club maintained their ministry with Blair (15).

    Wesley embodied the doctrinal belief in God's prevenient grace, justifying us in Jesus, and refused any temptation to commit bigotry when he encountered a homosexual. Although his own church used Blair as a pretext for gossip, coercion and conformity, Wesley demonstrated an abundant sense of grace and reckoned the homosexual as his protégé. Both Wesley and Jesus urged a faithful response to those in need, regardless of their status, and in firm resistance to human religious authorities.

    •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shawn Russell, Oh Mary Oh

      I thought there must have been something more specific about Wesley's attitude to such a major issue, but I couldn't find it.

      We want to renew our church and my basic suggestion was that we get more aligned with Wesley's views. I didn't realize just how far ahead of his time (and most times since) he was.

      From what I've read, Wesley's personal life was messed up in many ways. It only goes to show what amazing things God can do with imperfect tools -- and is all the more reason to resist judging those around us.

  •  On not judging (8+ / 0-)

    (Just to let you know where I'm coming from: I'm not a Christian, so I don't write this with the New Testament in mind.)

    It would be dishonest for me to pretend that I agree with or understand the path you believe is right, but I accept that you are free to choose your own life course.
    When we agree to withhold judgement, we agree to stop needing to agree. So, I'd suggest this as a better start towards non-judgement:
    It would be dishonest for me to pretend that I agree with or understand the path you believe is right, but I accept that you are free to choose live your own life course.
    We do not choose everything in or about our lives; all we can do is make the best of them -- and make the best of our relationship with one another. And working towards understanding starts by acknowledging what we don't currently understand.

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:50:26 PM PDT

    •  You are right of course... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      ...which is why I called it a "good first step". Given the tradition and attitudes that he presumably grew up with, I think it's a huge step to reaching a point where he linked not agreeing with not understanding and accepted his friend's right to go a different way. It's one of the steps I went through in shaking off my upbringing on this issue.

  •  Jesus leave us with only three "rules": (6+ / 0-)

    Love God

    Love your neighbor

    Do unto others as you would have them do to you

    2 and 3 seem to be the hardest for most "Christians".

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:51:30 PM PDT

    •  And if you aren't doing 2 & 3 (6+ / 0-)

      You cannot do 1.

      As I understand it,  2 & 3 are actually more important than 1. It is what allows 'heathens' to be redeemed.

      And because so many 'Christians' (in power and loud) do not follow 2 & 3, I rejected being a Christian. "If that's Christian, it's not me." I imagine many interviewed for "Unchristian" would feel the same.

      I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

      by WiseFerret on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 09:53:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I also like Micah's list (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WiseFerret, Oh Mary Oh

        He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
            And what does the Lord require of you?
        To act justly and to love mercy
            and to walk humbly with your God.

        Micah 6:8, NIV

        I (and others) interpret this as a three-fold ministry: first fix yourself by learning humility, then fix how you relate to other people by learning to love mercy, and then you are fit to treat people justly.

        BTW, I was taught this verse & interpretation as part of a UMC program called "Walk to Emmaus", which is a reference to Jesus "opening the minds" of some of his Disciples after the crucifixion as they want to the village of Emmaus. Other denominations have their own versions of this.

  •  Amongst many messages. (3+ / 0-)
    This message also, has not been forgotten.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 08:54:06 PM PDT

  •  Thank You - N/T (2+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 09:17:18 PM PDT

  •  why not a schism? (7+ / 0-)

    Or at least the threat of one?  I grew up in the Reform Jewish tradition, a reconciling denomination, if you will. I also wrote a diary about the resolution you refer to, Congratulations, Intolerant Methodists, in which I suggested that the reconciling congregations should think about finding another home within Protestantism, if not actually striking out on their own.

    It's not like schisms aren't traditional within Protestantism, after all. Go where you're appreciated!

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 09:22:33 PM PDT

    •  The schism is coming (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge

      It is unavoidable, Methodists detest the appearance of conflict. They use  Methodistspeak at their occasional witch trials, trying to root out the  homosexual pastors, who  avoid being defrocked only when  Methodist inquisitors frame the charges in such a way that the accused are never asked if they are actually having physical sex. Because sex outside of marriage is no-no for all pastors.  Someday enlightened United Methodists will become sick of this sham. That day will come when they look honestly at the numbers & realize they will never win in this denomination.  They can hang all the "Welcoming" signs they want on individual church doors,  but the UMC is not congregationalist; the truth is that LGBT are not welcome by the UMC.

      "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

      by DJ Rix on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:43:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, there was a church trial a year ago... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DJ Rix, Oh Mary Oh

        ...that established that they do indeed have to prove sex happened to throw out a pastor under the rules. The pastor of my grad-school church led the defense, so I heard the story. Since they had no proof, they had to ask her, and she replied "I won't answer such a question from someone who means me harm". The jury acquitted her on that charge. Yes, she was found guilty of conducting a same-sex marriage, but the penalty was to (continue to) not serve in a church for a brief period and then present a report on the issue to the conference, which I was told she is very glad to do.

        Whether we can convince Methodists in more conservative cultures overseas to change their cultural pre-conceptions is an open question. But it is no small thin when the pastor of by far the largest UMC church in this nation (16,000 members, I think), which is in Kansas, of all places, calls on the church to change our ways. And this church is in Kansas, so culturally conservative people CAN change their views on this.

        Whether or not you are right about where the UMC is going, it is still the right thing for us to seek changes. This is more in the open every year.

        BTW, Sister Wendy predicts that even the Catholic Church will change on this issue, as they have changed on so many issues in the past. (It's in her book on prayer.)

        •  I followed that trial (0+ / 0-)

          & read the transcripts, & it took a legal song & dance to get her off the hook.    It was shameful from beginning to end, a typical exercise in UMC passive-aggressive mentality where the right wingers call you brother or sister as they stab you in the back & then everyone joins  together & sings. Where's Beth Stroud now? Thank God I observe this nonsense from the outside now.   Rev. Hamiliton's substitution lines for the Book of Discipline were a typical toothless "Let's agree to disagree" solution  that would have changed nothing concerning marriage equality & ordination, just delayed the  whole matter until the next Conference.   I wouldn't trust that guy or most of his megachurch congregation  as far as I could throw my old hymnal.   The longer the delay, the more difficult the reckoning will become.

          "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

          by DJ Rix on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 10:19:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, it was shameful... (0+ / 0-)

            that Beth Stroud was defrocked in 2005. The trial in 2011 was also shamefully conducted, but the result was different.

            Rev. Hamilton's proposed change was a positive step along the way -- a step that its opponents obviously did not consider toothless. I also was skeptical about Adam Hamilton until I started studying his words -- and his changes on this issue (linked in my diary).

            You of course are entitled to your judgment that he is untrustworthy. I submit, though, that the UMC in the US has changed since 2005. And I have changed. The longer the delay, the more opportunities we will have lost to be gracious to people we have mistreated.

    •  Better to pull the rest along, don't you think? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Rogers, Oh Mary Oh

      I've been told that it was the delegates from Africa who tipped the balance. As my Pastor put it, we're trying to discuss this theologically & their talking about their culture.

      In the meantime, there are Methodists who choose to fully include LGBT people in in their own churches -- including pastors who defy the rules to perform same-sex marriages.

      And there are many who are seeking to change the heart of Methodism, to bring us closer to the faith that John Wesley preached. Adam Hamilton grew up in a conservative church, but he changed to be a United Methodist because he realized that personal holiness wasn't enough -- it had to be linked with social justice. And that link is what led him and so many of us to start throwing off the bigotry we were raised to accept.

  •  Unfortunately for you, and for the reputation of (10+ / 0-)

    America's Christians, you can't be "just opposed to gay sex" and NOT be "hostile to all gays and lesbians."

    Sex is part of loving, intimate relationships for most people (excepting, of course, the celibate and many asexuals, among others).  These relationships form the basis for people's lives, for partnerships that sustain them, for the basis of family units with or without children.

    Some Christians try to "love the sinner but hate the sin."  But this isn't a sin like a white lie, or even an act of violence, over and then done and repented.  a) it's a lifelong thing and b) it's not a sin to LGB people or their allies.  LGBT people don't think they are doing anything wrong by loving who they love, and many, if not most, of them, have had to fight through a virulently homophobic socialization, cheerleaded by (some) Christian denominations, which says they are and they were, which in some cases cast them out, or demanded they "repent" lest they lose God's love.

    The only way -- the ONLY way -- for churches to truly overcome this past of exclusion is to STOP being "anti-gay sex."  You yourself note the theological support for this view.  

    © cai Visit 350.org to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 09:37:05 PM PDT

    •  If I were religious . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      librarisingnsf

      I'd give you an "amen" for this comment.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 10:41:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  By the same token (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Rogers, TheMeansAreTheEnd

      Sex is also no one else's business. No one else has a right to know, or even to speculate, how often or even if my wife and I have sex. Why don't gay couples get the same degree of privacy about their private lives?

      People who don't like gay sex spend way too much time thinking about it.

      Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

      by Nowhere Man on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 04:39:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a process, and learning to love comes first (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Rogers, Oh Mary Oh

      It is entirely possible to love someone who is doing something one things is wrong. Parents do it all the time.

      Change in the church's attitude toward gay sex must happen. But it will follow, not lead, a change in attitude toward LGBT of NOT judging, of NOT rejecting, but instead seeking to understand and love those who are different & don't follow the same set of rules.

      I know this, because it is the path that I and many others have followed toward acceptance of LGBT.

      Also, "hate the sin and love the sinner" is a crock. It always looks like "hate the sin and hate the sinner", as "UnChristian" notes. Those Christians who shout against gay sex are not" loving the sinner". They certainly aren't behaving like Jesus.

  •  The scriptures (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cai

    that most anti-gay christians cite that they believe deal with same sex intimacy actually don't deal with same sex intimacy (for the most part). They are about male on male rape and/or temple prostitution (fertility cult worship). There are some, however. There is the story of the romantic relationship between David and Jonathan as described in I and II Samuel, the romantic relationship between Ruth and Naomi as described in Ruth, and the story of the Roman Centurion and his male servant/lover in Matthew and Luke. All those relationships are viewed and written of in a positive light.

    What is needed is for christians to become educated about these biblical issues. I rarely discuss this topic with a christian who has any more than a superficial and shallow understanding of how to interpret these passages. I am simply led to the conclusion, therefore, that they are trying to hide their own bigotry behind their religion. It's truly sad.

    •  It's amazing how often... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      ...people think that God hates the same things they do.

      This isn't just a flaw of religious people. Some do the same thing in the name of patriotism, natural law, and even economics (I don't like higher taxes so they are bad for the country).

      Ultimately, I don't think arguing about Scriptural interpretation will change most of us, though it's a helpful step. It's learning to know and accept LGBT people that I think is the best way to get people to question the hates and bigotries that they grew up with.

      I read in DailyKos that the organizer of the NOM "summer of marriage" tour came out in support of gay marriage about 9 months later. This coupe was pulled off by "protesters" who, instead of arguing or condemning, simply introduced themselves to him as gay couples & had friendly conversations. After a whole summer of this, he saw gay couples in a completely different way.

  •  I find all this rather condescending. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Williston Barrett

    May I ask, who gave you so-called "Christians" the right to judge anyone?  This entire diary -- however well intentioned it may be -- is written from the perspective of superiority.  That is, it is for Christians to decide what to do or think about us "homosexuals."  (I note that that's a word most liberals have banished from common use.)  

    But we gay people (not "homosexuals") shouldn't need your permission to be who we are.  We shouldn't need your "tolerance" to love whom we love.  And we certainly shouldn't have to be subjected to discrimination because many of you so-called "Christians" lift a few lines out of a book written in the Bronze Age to justify the simple fact that you're bigots.

    You get at the heart of the matter in your diary, although you don't seem to realize it.  The issue is indeed "judgment."  The problem, though, is that like so many Christians, you seem to think that you are somehow inherently empowered to pass judgment.  That your judgment may be kinder and gentler than that of your evangelical brethren doesn't make it any less a judgment.  By passing judgment, you presume a right and entitlement to do so.  

    As a lawyer, I would simply ask, "Quo warranto?"  By what right?

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Sun Oct 14, 2012 at 10:57:07 PM PDT

    •  Wow, FCJ. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheMeansAreTheEnd

      I am looking for a path--any path--that can take me to a place where I don't hear your post as judgmental. Can you help me understand your assumptions a little better?

      I guess my first question revolves around what seems to be your assumption that "Christian" and "gay" are categories that don't overlap. That is a big deal for me for a variety of reasons and because of a long list of people who I've been challenged by and learned to love dearly. But please, I would like to hear more.

      There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect... --William James

      by oslyn7 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 02:21:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Judgmental? (0+ / 0-)

        I don't think you've understood what I wrote, so let me clarify.  My comment asks a fairly simple question.  That is, by what right do Christians (be they straight or gay) arrogate to themselves the authority to judge gay people, our behavior, and our relationships?

        As I pointed out, whether Christians' judgment of gays is a favorable one or an adverse one, the assumption is that it is Christians who have the authority to judge.  I dispute that claim.  I find it arrogant that Christians would presume to hold such power.  

        Again, by what right do they assume such authority?

        And I'm well aware that there are gay Christians.  I'm not sure what relevance that has to the question I pose, however.

        "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

        by FogCityJohn on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 10:42:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Let me try again, too (0+ / 0-)

          I was arguing against that very assumption of a right to judge. As Paul wrote, "who are you to judge the servant of another?"

          So it isn't about Christians deciding to judge gays positively instead negatively. It's about what Jesus said: "judge not, lest you yourself be judged." It's about loving and caring instead of judging.

          This readiness to judge is not, of course, just a failing of Christians. Most people I've met seem willing to judge others negatively for doing or thinking things they disapprove of. But who am I to judge them? My message was intended to call Christians to recognize our own harmful, unChristian behaviors.

          •  You're illustrating my point. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Paul Rogers

            The very fact that you have to argue against it shows that many Christians, including some with whom you affiliate yourself, believe it is up to them to judge others.  I simply dispute their authority to do so, and I find their position presumptuous.  

            Yes, we all judge others, but what makes religious judgments so dangerous is that they claim a basis in a divine, indisputable authority.  If you believe your judgment is one mandated by a deity, then that judgment is unimpeachable and immune to reasoned argument.  Who can quarrel with the supposed will of God?

            Even the moderate clergyman whose views you cite cannot avoid the influence of homophobia.  He claims sex between men and women is simply more "natural" because of what he views as the inherent compatibility of the male and female bodies.  As a 51-year-old gay man, I can assure you that men's bodies are perfectly sexually compatible with one another.  Again, he simply assumes the authority to decide what is natural and what's not, and quite unsurprisingly he reaches a conclusion infected with antigay bias.  

            This is not a minor point.  We gay men are constantly treated as lesser beings where sex and intimacy are concerned.  Our natural desires have been called sinful, criminalized, and subjected to social opprobrium.  In truth, however, my desires are as natural and legitimate as the reverend's.  It is not his place to decide what is natural and acceptable and what's not.  It is not for him to decide what he will "tolerate" and what he won't when it comes to my sex life or that of any other gay man.  

            That Christians presume to judge me at all is an insult.  You are no better nor more human than I.  But that's the assumption you necessarily make when you decide judgment -- whether positive or negative -- is your prerogative.  It isn't.  It just isn't.  

            "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

            by FogCityJohn on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:28:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Well, that is part of my bewilderment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TheMeansAreTheEnd

          with your post. I don't have the right to assume the authority to judge GLBTs or others, anymore than anyone has the right to inflict (inevitably damaging and disrespectful) judgments on others.

          The core of my spiritual practice is to see others--all others, even knee-jerk conservatives and right-wing fundies, currently my biggest stretch!--as people who deserve my open-hearted consideration, compassion, and respect.

          There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect... --William James

          by oslyn7 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 11:15:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That may be the case. (0+ / 0-)

            But when churches debate what their position on "homosexuality" should be, they are presuming the authority to judge gay people.  Why should churches have a position on "homosexuality"?  Do churches have official or unofficial positions on heterosexuality?  

            When churches do this, they necessarily presuppose that gayness presents some kind of moral question or problem.  But it doesn't.  There is no moral or ethical question for churches to grapple with when it comes to my sexual orientation, any more than when it comes to a straight person's sexual orientation.  

            Are you now a bit less bewildered?

            "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

            by FogCityJohn on Tue Oct 16, 2012 at 09:45:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  You are right that we are wrongly judgmental (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Rogers

      Yes, the problem is Christians who think they have the right to judge.

      No, I was not claiming that right. Quite the contrary, I was making the most impassioned plea I could that my fellow church members should recognize the wrongs we have done to you and repent of our anti-homosexual, judgmental, and hypocritical ways.

      I am quite certain that there were gay or lesbian people in my church that day listening. It made me afraid of saying something stupid (I'm still very ignorant on LGBT issues, though I am trying). But I felt that some lay member had to say this.

      Also, many members of my church have LGBT family members and are very accepting. But there are some who are, ahem, extremely conservative in their outlook.

  •  "How Christian of you." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheMeansAreTheEnd

    I occasionally hear stories of ostracism and exclusion and hatred given towards people who no longer believe in a religion that a religious community holds.  This sort of activity also happens against gay people, who will lose everyone important in their life to them if they come out.

    I am fortunate enough to never have had to deal with this on a personal level (always atheist, always had a mostly atheist family, atheist friends), but I understand that not everyone is so lucky.  It seems every time I hear of christians I hear of persecution, ostrasizing and bullying (politically, any hate-crimes legislation is condemned by the most powerful christian leaders as being anti-christian).

    Someone I knew a while ago claimed to me that the ending of don't ask, don't tell was implemented by Obama to damage and punish the military.  They told me that the surveys on military effectiveness performed by the military on itself was done so the military commanders could find out which people to bully and harass.  I demanded they back that accusation up.  I looked at reports, I looked at the numbers.  I asked for evidence.  I told them I thought they were incorrect.

    That person no longer speaks to me.  I did not end our friendship, they did.  And over something incredibly stupid and obviously false (Don't Ask Don't Tell has been long over with and it has not changed military effectiveness).  It pains me to think of people who have to endure that kind of cold-hearted evil (and it is as close to evil as does exist) from their family, their friends, and their entire communities, but from what I've been told it does happen, and it is done by religious communities.

    This diary is completely on the mark for me.  It seems to me that when I hear of christians, I hear of persecution, hatred and hypocritical judgemental people proud of their own ignorance.  I hear about people being cut off and excluded from communities, and left with no life worth living.  All the behavior that people enjoy critiquing in religious cults like scientology for exists to some degree in most religious communities.

    I have no personal interest in saving the christian community, as I don't particularly think there's much worth saving in it.  But what I do occasionally tell christians for their own community is that they need to fight back harder against deleterious elements in their own community harder and more viciously than any atheist.

    The way I commonly see things, I see atheists throwing the hardest punches, and the more liberal theologians willing to stand by and complain that they are unfairly being maligned by the atheist people who are actually trying to make a positive change in society.  But if the christian religion has any hope for a future, it must be willing to reform its behavior for the better.  It must be willing to tear down, defame, defund and discourage groups like Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, the Family Research Institute, Creation Ministries, etc...  (There's a huge list of terrible religious groups)

    Because if history teaches us anything, it teaches us that time brings with it a slow progress in the advancement of human rights.  Christianity will either change with society, develop into something more inclusive, more loving and more equal...

    Or it will be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with the other religions that have failed.  Human rights will win.  The only question is, when it does, will christianity still be around?

    I suspect not, and I'm not particularly concerned if it is, but to christians, these politically active, hateful, anti-scientific religious groups are coming to represent what christianity is to the public culture.  It would be prudent to change that.

    Or the people of the future will do as I do, and when we witness or hear something hateful, ignorant, arrogant, bigoted or hypocritical, we will say, "How Christian of you."

    •  On the other hand, consider John Wesley (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Rogers, Oh Mary Oh

      He caused major changes in his society through advancing a different kind of religion -- one that works to improve everyone's lives and is more accepting of other people.

      I'm not saying that this proves there is worth to religion, just that there are religious groups and religious people who have caused changes for good. And who have advanced human rights.

      •  Religion is a complex phenomena, but good luck. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TheMeansAreTheEnd, Oh Mary Oh

        Religion is a complex phenomena that is difficult to explain, but I think the sum result of its impacts are more negative than not.  Mostly because it hurts members of its own communities while harming members of other communities.

        Tithing (even when impoverished), demands to conform to social norms (anti-gay, anti-science, anti-woman), and spreading malicious rumors about people outside the community (atheists are commonly referred to as a disease, other religions are led astray by evil forces and are themselves evil).  These sorts of ideas are common in religion, but it isn't required for a religion.

        I don't particularly have an interest in reforming religious groups.  But I do wish you luck in your endeavour.  Your heart appears to be in the right place, and that's about as good as I can ask.  Religions are firstly, about community, and if you can drag your community into some kind of social progress, that's a good thing.

        •  My small church is a good place to start (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Paul Rogers, Oh Mary Oh

          Even our very conservative members are generally willing to listen to me. :-) There's already been talk about how we need to be more open, including more open to gay people. So I'm going to start asking people to consider starting the Reconciling process. First reform oneself, then reform one's community.

          Re tithing, as an enforced rule it is bad, but as a voluntary discipline I've found that it can be very good. No matter how badly off one is, there is always someone who is worse off, and I've found it empowering to be able to help people. I suppose you are talking about "tithe to the church". I don't give all of my tithe to my church -- we save some of it out for worthy organizations & for direct giving when called for.

          George M. Cohan told a story about how he never realized he was poor when he was growing up because his Dad always filled his pockets with nickels, dimes & quarters to give to people in need. So after he got rich, George M. filled his pockets with 5's, 10's and 20's to give to people in need -- "the softest touch on Broadway."

          •  On tithing in particular. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Oh Mary Oh, TheMeansAreTheEnd

            My principal problem with tithing has more to do with the doctrinal belief that it's implicitly good to give to the church.  It really depends on what the money is used for, but mostly that question is side-stepped as the duty to perform self-sacrifice is seen as the good.

            If the money goes to oppress gay people, then it's not a good thing.  If it goes to misinform, miseducate people, then it is not a good thing.  If it goes to deny women the right to personal health choices, then it's not a good thing.

            The other problem is the prosperity gospel, but I suspect that in your church that is not really a common doctrinal belief.  The prosperity gospel is flat out evil.  It harms people by making them believe things that just aren't true.  People like Pat Robertson hammer this belief out into the public on a daily basis with his self-serving money-grubbing tv show.

            In theory, tithing can serve a good and useful purpose, but like many things in religious institutions (and everywhere in life, really) the problems come with the matter of how it is actually put into practice.  At the end of the day, I just don't trust religious institutions to handle charity.

            As I've said in my original post, there are also problems with hate groups posing as churches as a means to provide themselves money and funding in order to spread hate and harm people.

            Religions just drive me up the wall.  It's not meant as a slight against you or your group, but I hope the somewhat aggressive rhetorical arguments you occasionally hear from atheists (such as myself) can at least be understandable on that basis.  I wouldn't be talking to you if I didn't think that I had something important to say.

            Anyway, I hope for a more honest, free and civil society for you and everyone else.  I may not agree with you all the time, but the least we can do is to still treat each other as decent human beings worthy of civility.  When that happens, it won't matter whether or not one is an atheist, a christian, a gay person, a woman, a muslim, etc...

            •  Thanks, Paul, especially for your last paragraph. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Oh Mary Oh, TheMeansAreTheEnd

              My toddler (now in university) completely got that...We had just moved, and our toddler decided she was too big for her high chair anymore.

              So, in the day or two before we found a booster seat, she insisted on sitting on a regular dining room chair, which meant that much of her face was below the level of the table. And, because she couldn’t see, she began to stand up on her chair, point at what she wanted and demand it; behavior I found unacceptably rude.

              After this had happened several times, I was pretty firm with her: “Honey, you know that you won’t get anything you ask for if you demand it while you are standing on your chair!”

              Still standing, she looked at me out of those dark eldritch eyes and said, “Not even love and respect?”

              Now, if only we adults can learn this as thoroughly...

              There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect... --William James

              by oslyn7 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 11:00:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The "prosperity Gospel" is a heresy, IMO n/t (0+ / 0-)
              •  By which I mean... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Paul Rogers

                ...that unlike many Christian groups who I think are doing terribly wrong things in their interpretation of what it means to be a servant of Christ, I think the "prosperity Gospel" is fundamentally a different religion that has the trappings of Christianity but denies its most fundamental characteristics.

                That's just my view, of course. Others may see only minor differences (sigh). And others (some commenting here) see all of us as so wrong & harmful that we're better off disappearing. I see why they think that, even though I obviously think otherwise. It's why I wrote the sermon, after all.

                •  I trust you're using your best judgement on that. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TheMeansAreTheEnd

                  I understand.  I just wanted to reinforce the thought you had that this public perception thing might be a big deal.  My main interest in politics is social justice and science.  Religion bothers me when it's used as an excuse to prevent just causes from being actualized, or to hold back science and education.

                  I'd say more, but our conversation has already gone on a while, and kind of is a distraction from the site's main goal.  I'd prefer atheist politicians, but I'd vote for a Barack Obama over an Ayn Rand any day.

                  I would've used a progressive christian leader in place of Obama for my comparison there, but I can't really think of a modern, relevant outspoken christian preacher progressive leader...

                  Martin Luther King Jr.?  Yeah, him.  Anyway, I appreciate being able to read your sermon.  It serves as a useful reminder that there are still good people in the christian religion.  I wish you well.

                  •  Thanks. And of course it's not just perception (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Paul Rogers

                    The perceptions are completely justified, in general though not in all specific cases. I want my church to sign up as one of the vocal exceptions.

                    Re religion & politics, I like a politician in the mold of JFK, who said that he would resign the Presidency if his duties as a Catholic ever conflicted with his duties as a public servant. Biden touched on the same point when he said that he believes Catholic doctrine but refuses to impose it on others. Rather the opposite of Ryan's view.

                    It was a tragedy in so many ways when Martin Luther King Jr. died.

                    •  BTW, I'd vote for an atheist (0+ / 0-)

                      To me, an atheist who is tolerant of religion is in the same category as a religious politician who acts in the public interest rather than impose his religious views on others. Admittedly, they approach the same position from different "sides", but finding such accommodations is what a pluralistic society is about, IMO.

  •  The UMC is not going there (0+ / 0-)

    The denomination is becoming more conservative.  The only "growth" is outside the United States. These conservative non-American Methodists now comprise 1/3rd of the UMC  & the percentage will increase at each  General Conference while the  minority moderate/liberal  percentage will never muster enough support to change the Book of Discipline. It doesn't matter how much you preach about Wesley & Methodist  social values &  shifting  American demographics.  You're losing the UMC.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 01:29:50 AM PDT

  •  Thank you so much! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul Rogers, TheMeansAreTheEnd

    Clear, succinct, offering the possibility of graceful ways to open up conversations in the church. Your congregation is lucky to have you sitting among them in the pews...and lucky to have you up front occasionally.

    There is no worse enemy of God and Man than zeal armed with power and guided by a feeble intellect... --William James

    by oslyn7 on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 02:03:53 AM PDT

  •  I liked this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheMeansAreTheEnd

    However, as history has noted, things can be edited out.

    I'm certainly glad that reconciling congregations exist, and polls seem to indicate that many of America's Christians are slowly coming around to being okay with same-sex marriage, but why not just scism and change the dern bible? There's a long tradition of doing so since the religion evolved and in this day and age, it won't get you killed (at least, not here in the United States)

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Mon Oct 15, 2012 at 05:56:12 AM PDT

    •  Why not schism? A good question (0+ / 0-)

      There were schisms after John Wesley died between those who wanted women to continue as preachers and those who didn't. So it has happened before.

      I guess the short answer is: I haven't given up yet. Not for my church in the US and not for the ones overseas as well. Maybe this is our chance to try to change them by our presence among them. Or maybe that's wishful thinking. We'll find out in time. I found that I could change, and we did finally start ordaining women again. We'll see, globally and in my own small church.

  •  I have a lot to say in response to this. (3+ / 0-)

    It was very well written, but some big points were missed by the book if your assessment of it is complete.

    The biggest reason there is such a negative perception of Christians by nonChristians -Gay or other, is a very basic issue. When one is not Christian, we are not really seen as wholly human. We are not perceived as authentic agents of religion or spirituality in our own right, because we are not part of Christianity.

    This is the root of allowing or excusing poor treatment of nonChristians. This is the root of the perception of Christians as hypocritical, judgmental, and even inauthentic as Christians [unChristian].

    You see, your rules as Christians exist within your church. But your church exists in a wider world that doesn't necessarily recognize your doctrinal authority, nor does it respect all of your rules in a context you as a Christian would recognize.

    So even calling the rest of us "Sinners" is a bit arrogant. Because you are assuming with that phrase that we should be playing or living by Christian Rules.

    Other religious and social groups have no problem with homosexuals. They have no problem with women who "speak up in church" or at work, or anywhere. They have no problem with the behaviors that Christians, or other religions might define as a sin, because the concept of sin and sinner are relative, are contextual, if even applicable.

    I don't want you to reach me with Christianity. I have no interest or desire of being converted. I only want you to treat me as an equal human being. I only want you civility, and the basic respects you offer anyone you perceive to be human, and equal.

    •  The book does cover some of this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Rogers, Oh Mary Oh

      The bottom line is that we should treat people the way Jesus treated people -- and Jesus was willing to talk with & eat with anyone. I once read a "joke"that Jesus spent so much time with people who were despised by his society because they were more genuine and honest than the righteous! I think that contains an important lesson.

      The definition of evil I like best is the one Terry Pratchett gave to Granny Weatherwas: treating people as things.

      Treating non-Christians, or indeed anyone, as less than human, is a terribly evil thing to do.

      And BTW, I'm not trying to "reach you" or "convert you". That is a concern of those who wrote "UnChristian", it is true, but I encourage you to read the book before you decide you know for certain what they mean.

      My goal was to reach my fellow Christians, in particular the ones in my church. I shared these words here because I thought some people would be interested and I'd get good feedback -- which is what has happened.

      Thanks for responding.

      •  I didn't feel the tentacles of conversion :) (3+ / 0-)

        I just wanted to make sure and put that out there.

        I spent some years in the military, where the Chaplains and local ministers/etc., felt that there was an ongoing Open Season on what they referred to as "The Unchurched." And that phrase pretty much covered anyone who was a member of a "religion" that wasn't considered authentic or normative. And it also included the usual suspects, Agnostics, Atheists, Gays, Feminists, Homosexuals, etc., that hadn't been sufficiently reached.

        This made sure that deep, and abiding friendships could never form. One learns quickly that people who feel this way are waiting for the first serious life-crisis, to catch you when you are down, insecure, or unsupported, to make yet another pitch. It was their sincere inability to see how unethical their own behavior was, that made it so sickening.

        As if--if only you would convert, then your cancer would be cured, your marriage saved, your children plucked out of bad vices, your job will get better, you will become famous and wealthy, and healthy and wise. Til then it sucks to be you...

        How can you be friends with someone like that? How can you be emotionally intimate when really it's just a waiting game. It isn't about you at that point, but what you can do for them, if you convert. Suddenly you go from being a person to a trophy-soul.

        Yick.

        So I am glad that the book didn't leave some of this out. It needs to be said. I have friends who are of different religions. Some Christian, Some Jewish, some Pagan, Buddhist, etc., and I take great care not to ask them to do things I know run counter to their faith. And I make sure when I am talking to them about their problems, to not hinge success or cures, or acceptance on their willingness to adopt my views.

        I just want to be friends with other People. Their other titles are important, in so much that it gives me further insight into who they are, but not what they are. Their humanity is irreducible.

        •  The book calls out "trophy soul" behaviors (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Paul Rogers, GreenMother, Oh Mary Oh

          As you expected, a lot of such complaints came up in the interviews.

          The book also calls out mass evangelism as at best ineffective and at worst actively harmful, driving away far more people than it attracts.

          I haven't read it all yet, but I've read parts when they recommend simply engaging with people. You know, actually care about who they are & what their problems are. I'm not sure whether the book puts it this bluntly, but I read it as "stop trying to convert people and stop judging them -- just try to be a genuine loving friend". Hopefully whatever discussion of religion happens would be sort of like my friends who have become yoga instructors: they encourage people to try it & talk about how great it is for them, but there's no implication that I'm any less of a friend or less worthwhile for not thinking that yoga is my thing.

          As for the military chaplains, YUCH. The extremists have apparently taken over there as they have in so many other places. I suppose many of us who haven't experienced modern military chaplains still imagine a Father Mulcahey-type figure: devout in his own faith but ready to serve whatever religious needs he comes across, within any tradition. I wonder what the chaplains were like during WW2 and the Korean War? Is Father Mulcahey (from the MASH TV series) a myth or were they once like that?

          •  I don't know. I grew up watching MASH, so I had (3+ / 0-)

            a fantasy about who the Chaplains would be too, and you nailed it! Father Mulcahey. They were all such disappointments, and mean--and some were just plain weird!

            I often wondered how these people got into the Military with such serious mental problems. Man I could tell you some stories, but I don't want to tell them here, now like this.

            I encountered blatant misogyny from the Chaplains too. As subtle as a sludge hammer. So it wasn't just weird and disappointing, it was hurtful too.

            •  Nobody paid by the public should be doing that. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GreenMother, TheMeansAreTheEnd

              It might be worth writing a diary about that sort of thing.  I encountered someone in the comments a while ago that seemed the think the military chaplaincy system was doing just fine and nobody had any serious critiques about it.

              I linked them to this article about it, but it couldn't hurt to have more voices out there speaking about this.  This seems like a problem that we ought to address.

              I can understand if you'd rather not write about it, though.

            •  Re military chaplains, what i read in DailyKos... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GreenMother, Paul Rogers

              ...is that "dominionist" Christian groups deliberately took over. As they've taken over several denominations & tried to take over a political party.

              The rest of us apparently didn't know there was a war on until they'd taken over the territory. I don't know how to fix it.

              •  Well that would certainly explain a lot (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Paul Rogers, TheMeansAreTheEnd

                I know that back in the 90s, there was even a turf war over advancement, between different ecclesiastical endorsing agents via their chaplains. It appeared to be between Catholics and Protestants, though it was also between Congregational and nonCongregational Chaplains.

                The word Dominionism wasn't in regular use back then, not even within their own literature, not what was published anyhow.

                They were blatantly hostile to nonChristians in general, but especially those that didn't fall into the big three: which included "The People of The Book" basically.

                You didn't just deal with no having a Chaplain to turn to, you sometimes had to deal with them doing stuff behind your back. They didn't even want to appoint lay leaders, or allow meeting space for some groups. It was some seriously petty bs.

                I know for a fact that some of the problems did come straight from Shrub's office. He was thick as thieves with dominionists, and well there were issues with that.

                The problem for women in the military was two fold. First you were deviating from conservative Christian norms for being in the military, which made you a questionable character, but if you were also a nonChristian, then it was even worse. People would assume all sorts of things about your character, your morals and such.

                It sucked. When a pastor or minister, or priest or chaplain uses their office to promote bigotry, what they are encouraging is harassment and bullying. There are sadly, always people in a congregation who will infer things from a sermon or lecture, and then act on it, like marching orders.

                Some pastors know this, and use it, and some seem to just stumble onto this knowledge. Either way, it stinks for the targeted or scape goated minority.

  •  A book some may find of interest: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheMeansAreTheEnd, Oh Mary Oh

    Dirt, Greed, & Sex Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today.

    I live in rural Arkansas - the heart of the Bible Belt - I and my partner (Othniel who recently passed away) we had to seek out a church 40 miles away to find one that was not only gay accepting but welcoming.  Thankfully, we were confirmed into the Episcopal church before he passed.

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