LGBTs Welcome Here

We like having you with us.

After five years and lots of comments, pro and con, I’ve decided to remove an old essay (“On the Gay Issue: Pray”) that ran on this page and update the message: Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans people, you are welcome here, and so are Straight people.

God loves you just the way you are.

Whatever your sins might be, they’re not related to your sexual orientation; it’s morally neutral. What each one of us does with our sexuality is certainly worth examination and sometimes repentance, but not the gender of who we love and are attracted to.

God made sexuality and said, with all the rest of creation, “It is good.” So let us rejoice in it.

It is the policy of this website that there will be no Gay-bashing here. Period.

We don’t allow racist comments in our online church; no anti-Semitism, misogyny or homophobia. Those are sinful attitudes.

We also don’t require uniformity of thought on matters of human sexuality or Biblical interpretation; we do agree on the Creed, which makes no mention of sex, so we are in communion with each other here, even if we have different views.

We don’t require you to belong to a political party, either. Indeed, we hope conservatives and progressives all get fed here. We believe the religion of Jesus Christ is worth conserving. We also believe our Christ is very concerned with the poor and the oppressed, as the Parable of the Good Samaritan clearly shows. Empathy with the poor and suffering is a hallmark of Christian personality.

It is obvious that GLBTs suffer persecution, including injustice, violence and death, at the hands of self-proclaimed religious people. The General Convention of The Episcopal Church has declared this oppression to be morally wrong. So we will not perpetuate that oppression here. Anti-Gay comments will be deleted, just like racist and sexist remarks.

A majority of Episcopalians – and increasingly, members of other Churches – believe that God is the Spirit of Liberation, now and always, just as God first led the Israelites out of slavery into freedom.

In recent years The Episcopal Church has slowly, painfully parted the Red Sea on behalf of sexual minorities – at a cost of millions of dollars and several thousand members. (That’s what my old article was about.)

In July 2012, the General Convention of this Church approved liturgies for same-sex unions, nationwide. We don’t call them “church weddings” yet, but that’s what they’ll effectively be.

Thus my headline, “LGBTs Welcome Here.” We ordain Lesbians and Gay men as bishops, priests and deacons.

This doesn’t always make us popular with other Christians, but we do it because we think it’s right; that by doing so we’re obeying God.

As you can see, this is a courageous Church.

We have sinned against GLBTs in the past, but now we are repenting of it.

As a Gay man, this is the only Church where I feel safe, physically and spiritually. As the Vicar of this site, I want you to be safe here too.

Episcopalians rejoice at the liberation movement of the Holy Spirit in other Churches, Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic. We are confident that most Christian Churches will eventually welcome Gay people, because this is already happening in many places. As Episcopalians we are happy to be among the leaders.

A majority of Americans now favor marriage equality. Young adults are most strongly in favor, and older adults are gradually coming to agree: Discrimination is wrong. It’s a sin. And the Church is obligated to say so, once God’s judgment becomes clear.

The teaching of The Episcopal Church on marriage, Straight or Gay, remains strict, strong and clear: monogamy in a lifelong commitment between partners is God’s ideal. Marriage is a covenant, a set of unbreakable promises. Marriage is a symbol of God’s covenant with each one of us in sickness and in health, forever.

A corollary is that abusive relationships are not to be tolerated. Divorce is preferable to domestic violence and abuse. The death of a marriage is something to be mourned, and then it’s something to be survived.

I quote the retired Archbishop of Capetown, Desmond Tutu, who apologized on behalf of the Church to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender persons in a BBC-Manchester radio interview on December 17, 2007.

“I want to apologise to you and to all those who we in the church have persecuted.

“I’m sorry that we have been part of the persecution of a particular group.  For me that is quite un-Christlike and, for that reason, it is unacceptable.

“Maybe, even as a retired Archbishop, I probably have, to some extent, a kind of authority, but apart from anything let me say for myself and anyone who might want to align themselves with me, I’m sorry.

“I’m sorry for the hurt, for the rejection, for the anguish that we have caused to such as yourselves.”

Archbishop Tutu, 2010, Diocese of Connecticut. (Hartford Courant)

Archbishop Tutu, 2010, Diocese of Connecticut. (Hartford Courant)

To all LGBT persons who believe in God despite all human provocation, I say: The Episcopal Church apologizes to you also. Now come and see what God has reformed in us.

Come and see why God has chosen this Church, of all others, to part the Red Sea.

The Metropolitan Community Churches first found the opening. The United Church of Christ spread the waters more widely. The Episcopal Church, uniquely Protestant and Catholic, struck the waters so that everyone may get to the other side.

I have another, related announcement. I have banned a New Testament lectionary passage, Titus 2:1-10, from further publication on this site.

I don’t take this action lightly, but soberly, reverently and in the fear of God.

From the very beginning I have proclaimed that “we are a Prayer Book site.” The Prayer Book lectionary includes the passage, the General Convention approved the lectionary, and until now I have taken those decisions as the definitive word on the subject.

But I refuse to do it anymore, so I am in rebellion against the General Convention on this one passage.

It is another of St. Paul’s imprecations to men, women and slaves; there are several such passages scattered throughout his epistles. Today people of faith find them “difficult sayings.” They take more than a grain of salt to swallow.

Of all the iterations, Titus 2:1-10 is the worst of them, because St. Paul failed to balance his warnings to women and slaves with equal warnings to men and slaveowners.

I don’t believe Paul’s intent was evil. He was in prison when he wrote it and may not have had time to develop his thoughts as profoundly as he usually did. But his expression in this case just sounds evil and misogynistic.

I haven’t edited it out of the New Testament; I don’t have that power. I am removing it from further publication on this site, because it is harmful to the Church’s mission and harmful to the human soul.

I know there are arguments for going ahead and conforming to the approved lectionary. There are few people, even in the progressive Episcopal Church, who are willing to join my protest against the inclusion of this passage. It’s scary, even to us, to think about excluding even one line of the New Testament. We end up falling into the same all-or-nothing thinking that fundamentalists engage in – that “the Bible’s either all true or all false, so therefore we proclaim it’s all true, and fight anyone who says otherwise.”

But again, I’m not taking out my scissors here; I’m asking the whole Church to think more deeply about its lectionary, its mission and its humility.

Physicians take an oath to “do no harm.” Churches ought to take that oath too. Titus 2:1-10 harms people, so why are we reading it in church?

Lectionaries are always selective. An arrangement of readings is not the same thing as Bible study. I commend Bible study to everyone here; please, read every word. Spend a lifetime, read the best scholarship and commentaries, and you’ll never get to the bottom of God’s riches. She’s infinite; we aren’t.

The Prayer Book Daily Office, which we promote and publish here, features the Book of Psalms at its heart. The Psalter is God’s magnificent hymnbook. Its themes cover every imaginable human situation, from hunger, anger, hurt and despair to acceptance, joy and spiritual triumph. Yet the Office lectionary leaves out some Psalms altogether, because they’re no longer considered helpful in bringing people closer to God.

I’m saying the same thing about that little bit of Titus; no more, no less. It is not our job to put stumbling-blocks in front of believers.

We never read Psalm 53. It’s printed in the Prayer Book, there for everyone to see – but we never read it in church. The lectionary authors were right to eliminate it; why should we have to explain this every six weeks?

Psalm 53:3

Every one has proved faithless;

all alike have turned bad; *

there is none who does good; no, not one.

Theologically this verse is impeccable. But spiritually it just beats people over the head for no good reason. So the lectionary authors popped it.

We should do the same with that passage from Titus.

Because the harm it does outweighs the good it does for us to reassure ourselves, “We read every word of the New Testament.”

You can only hear, “Slaves, obey your masters” so many times before you just throw up your hands in disgust.

That doesn’t do God’s cause any good.

“Wives, obey your husbands,” even if he’s a big, stupid, violent, vicious oaf? I wouldn’t blame any self-respecting woman for running out of church after she’s heard that 500 times. I’d run out with her!

Paul wrote to Titus hastily. It’s the only time Paul failed to balance his warnings to wives and husbands, slaves and masters. (His balancing is really quite good; too bad the promoters of Southern slavery always managed to skip over their responsibilities so they could make money and live like kings.)

My rebellion against ten verses of Titus is one of those teachable moments, as God gives me to see the light. I cannot in good conscience continue to publish those verses. So I won’t.

Someday I think the editors of the lectionary will come to agree with me. But so far they don’t, so I’ll take the consequences.

We are no longer a 100% Prayer Book site. Here I stand; feel free to comment away.

But remember, this is a safe house for sexual minorities, because it is God’s house.

Josh Thomas

Vicar

May 2, 2012
rev. April 6, 2013

P.S. I’m leaving the old comments up for now, until I have time to save and remove them. Meanwhile, check out this joyful video by Jack Montgomery.

76 Responses to LGBTs Welcome Here

  1. Hi Josh

    I do find it interesting that you accuse Arch Bishop Duncan of Schism when in reality it is the Episcopal Church USA that has moved away from being Historically Anglican and is schismatic. Without getting into the issues and back and forth simply answer this. If I were to interview any Anglican Minister 100 years ago or 200 years ago or 500 years ago would they agree with the “novel” interpretation of Scripture which you support? Or would they agree with Arch Bishop Duncan? You see if we do not have a Gospel that would have been understood and proclaimed at the start or 500 years ago or 200 years ago or even 50 years ago we have something else. The Church has always believed that a sexual relationship is between a Male and Female and any sexual contact outside of the Sacrament of Marriage is Sin. Of course the Episcopal Church USA is not the only group in Church History that has left the Faith that was once and for all delivered to the Saints. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

    In Christ Jesus,

    David Knudtson

    Like

    • josh says:

      Ho-hum, an appeal to tradition without any reason.

      Your same authorities would have upheld slavery.

      It’s an appalling thing that Robert Duncan and his deluded cohorts would try to split the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and steal Church property over such a minor issue as who’s in love with whom. Did he really think Rowan Williams would give him the North American franchise? The man’s an idiot and his followers are fools. You cannot build a 21st century church on homophobia.

      Try praying about it, David Knudtson.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bob Jones says:

        Josh,

        You make in your argument many good points, and I do believe that, as sad as this may be, homosexuality has become an issue within the church where you either are on board with it in whatever form it may be, or you are not, and therefore are tagged as having some kind of homophobia. But that is not the way we can be allowed to look at it. I have taken ample time to both pray about this issue, discuss the issue with others, and go over church history and scripture, and have been given, by God’s grace, this understanding. A person’s love for another person is the most important feeling or emotion any one of us can have, for it is in a deep, personal, and intimate love with another person that we come the closest to understanding God’s love for us, though it is nowhere near the same. In that respect, if a man loves another man or a woman a woman, that is not something the church should condemn, because it is not something they can control, and it is still an honest love, a beautiful thing. (And on that same note, the comment earlier about ‘… a minor issue a who’s in love with whom. I pray one never looks at love as a minor issue, for it is the basis and the backbone of our faith, and it is in love that we draw close to God.) However, while the church should not out-rightly condemn someone for loving another of the same sex, it is what happens with that relationship that is the concern of the church, and is what scripture notes. Scripture, as many have said, says nothing about gay people or loving another of the same sex, but it does say that what follows that, as normally follows in heterosexual relationships, is what brings sin into the fold, and that is a physical, intimate, sexual relationship. Once sex is brought into the matter, the issue no longer becomes simply about a person loving another person, but about the sanctity and holiness of marriage and sex. Sex does, as much as modern day society tries to deny it, have meaning. It is meant to be kept inside of marriage and meant to bring together the couple and make them one flesh, as God is three in one, so too they become two in one, sharing in the delight of two distinct beings and spirits becoming one, and then, by God’s grace, producing an offspring. It is not possible for a man and another man, or a woman and another woman to physically or spiritually complete this union. Men and women were created distinctly to fit together, anatomy shows us that. That is the reason why, within the church, marriage is kept between a man and a woman, because it is a special union, set apart by God, to make the two become one. (I say within the church because, I take the view of C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity that, as far as civil unions are concerned, two men or two women are perfectly within their rights as citizens to partake in such, for we are not all Christians, and this is not a Christian state, so Christians imposing their moral rules on those outside of the church is like Muslim’s imposing the rule of not drinking wine on those who are not Muslims.)

        So what is really necessary for the church is not to do what ACNA has done and split away, tearing apart the Body of Christ, refusing to continue to discern the issue, and instead just go form their own body, but we also cannot do what TEC has done overwhelmingly embracing homosexuality, trying to make it okay, and make TEC look like it’s with the times, thereby conforming the church to the changing social world, instead of conforming the social world to the church. We must meet in the middle. We must always continue to dialogue on issues of great spiritual warfare, heartache, and difficulty. We must continue to discern God’s will. But we cannot simply look at the past two thousand years of history and just say no they were wrong, because for two thousand years people have been discerning God’s will; and while they may have been misguided at times, saying that the Church has been wrong for two thousand years and suddenly is right now is saying that, in effect, God has changed his mind, and that he was wrong before but is right now. It is the responsibility of the church to stand on reason, scripture, and tradition, not simply one or two of the three. We should embrace homosexuals as Brothers and Sisters in Christ, for they are, but they are struggling with sin, just as each and every one of us is. We cannot bring homosexuals into the church and just say ‘it’s okay to marry another man/woman, or it’s okay to have a physical relationship with them’ when it’s not. We must struggle with them, weep with them, pray with them, and anguish with them. We must open our doors and say, ‘Ah, you’re struggling with sin too? Come in, for we all are, let us struggle together.’ God, when he created the world, put order in it, and, though it seems harsh, in that order, man was meant to be with woman. However, the world is now broken, that order is broken, and so that is not solely the case. So we must deal with that, as we deal with all the other brokenness in the world, through prayer, love, compassion, and the common struggle which brings us all closer to Christ.

        Like

    • I’d hate to think that we’ve changed our position on issues over the last, say, 200 years. For instance, slavery is still totally cool…..right? I mean, there’s a biblical basis for it and slaveholders are good as long as they don’t beat their slaves excessively, right? Oh and women voting, well, again, 100 years ago….not so much.
      Look, times change. We don’t still use bloodletting (for the most part, occasionally it’s medically warranted [cf chromahematosis]); likewise, our definition of “homosexuality” is less than 200 years old. Live and let live, dude. Let God sort it all out. In other words, here’s a pile of stones, start stoning me, a homosexual sinner.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharon Smith says:

    You had me interested in reading more of your views and your blog, until you zinged the line: “The man’s an idiot and his followers are fools.”

    Whether or not they have gone astray on the gay or any other issue, still, they are our brethren, members of the community of saints, fellow members in the body of Christ. You may not like their views nor the decisions they have made, but what is the point of descending to name-calling? You just reduced what could be an intelligent discussion on important issues to something not worthy of anyone’s time.

    Like

    • josh says:

      I suppose we should feel the same about those engaged in the slave trade – “Oh, they’re our brothers and sisters anyway, so of course we can never describe what they’re up to, criticize them in any way or call them what they are, like slaver, bigot, thief or fool.”

      Justice draws distinctions, like it or not.

      Like

    • Doug says:

      In my opinion there is a place for righteous anger. Even assuming each divisive word in Romans or elsewhere is literally true, one cannot reconcile those words with Jesus’ chief commandments and new covenant that I paraphrase, ‘Love God……, love each other….’. I believe Josh is correct, pray on it, seek for yourself outside of the world and in God’s kingdom. To found a new church on excluding others is contrary to our fundamental beliefs as Christians, and particularly repugnant when being done by those we are supposed to uphold as leaders in the Church.

      Like

    • Ruth Rocchio says:

      Sharon we cannot be blind to injustice and honor opinions that cause great harm and give some biblical or doctrinal reasoning to uphold our own lack of compassion. Justice sometimes speaks with a loud and uncomforting voice. I say GO JOSH! Speak the truth. Jesus is our brother in revolution and He is a tough act to follow, loving us all the way to the cross and the tomb as He did.

      Like

  3. Steve says:

    Truth is progressive. Conversion is a progressive experience (Peter had at least 6 conversion experiences listed in the Gospels). Perhaps part of Christian beliefs do not come from the Bible, but from Greek thought, perhaps from Indian thought to Greek thought, and through the Greek church fathers to the church at Rome and not from the Hebrew fathers like Paul. We have to be careful about accepting long standing “traditions” that are not Biblically based.

    Like

  4. josh says:

    This is for Bob Jones above, today’s date, in response to my reply to David Knudtson. Our format here doesn’t permit endless nesting of replies to replies.

    Thank you, Mr. Jones, for your many good points and balanced views. I am glad for your C.S. Lewis citation and the conclusion you draw regarding civil unions.

    Still, I find some flaws in your thinking, which I’ll respectfully detail here.

    TEC didn’t change its policies on homosexuality to be trendy, but out of a long, drawn-out and halting process of discernment – and I regret your imputing such a motive to the Church. You politely accuse us of being less faithful than you are. And you sound like you’re just echoing a talking point you heard somewhere, instead of applying your own reason, as you’ve otherwise tried to do.

    God wasn’t wrong 2000 years ago and hasn’t changed her mind; she’s always loved Gay people. We’re just now finding it out. As the scales finally fall from our eyes we find the Scriptures replete with veiled blessings for LGBTs and all other minorities.

    As for all your struggling, weeping, praying and anguishing with my kind, sorry, we don’t need it or want it. There’s nothing wrong with how we are – God’s told us repeatedly if we have ears to hear – so why are you, Mr. Heterosexual Traditionalist, going through all this angst?

    The root of your argument is the biological one, but get this: God put us on earth so we would NOT be fruitful and multiply, and thus be a brake on heterosexuals’ unbridled, ungoverned passions that threaten to turn this whole Earth into Easter Island. Have you seen population projections for the end of the 21st century? We can’t afford all your babies, the Earth can’t sustain them all.

    Lesbian and Gay people, because we’re less likely to reproduce, are free to become caregivers for communities, not just our own brood like you folk have to do. You have responsibilities we don’t have, so we take up the slack, because we’re at least as loving and faithful as you are; sometimes more. That’s why you find us overrepresented in service occupations and community leadership.

    We’re not “reproductive failures,” as the evolutionary biologists like to say, but “nonreproducing successes” – which is the same reason we’re represented in hundreds of species and more to come.

    As part of biology we’re part of God’s creation, and he doesn’t hate a thing that he has made. He knew all this from the very beginning – all the ways we’d deal with body parts, finding every possible combination. He also gave us humans a need for love, so let us express it in monogamous, committed relationships blessed and sanctified by the Church.

    These are some of the things TEC is discovering in its 40-year agony, Millions of other Christians in every denomination look at us in agreement, admiration and even envy, because *our democratic structures enable this conversation faster than theirs do.* All mainline denominations are moving this way, and keeping an eye on what happens to us because they know we’re the leaders. (UCC got here first, but they’re small, and MCC never came from where you do and always knew LGBTs are no better, worse or different from anyone else.)

    I’m sure you’d agree that if reason disagrees with scripture and tradition, reason wins; you listed it first in your three-legged stool. It’s reason that’s winning here, sir, not trendiness. TEC seeks to transform the social world for Christ just like you do.

    More than reason, it’s the Holy Spirit, that Person who lives inside our bodies today, who enlightens our minds, who corrects human errors and assumptions and yes, misinterpretation of the scripture and the tradition.

    She’s the one who frees the slaves from bondage. She’s the one who says women are created in the image of God and able to do everything a man does in the Church and the world. The Church didn’t start ordaining women to be trendy; it cost us dearly. But we did it because (after more agony) the Spirit said to. And TEC was so faithful it was willing to enter into persecution, which was exactly the result. “Take up your cross and follow me.”

    Of what other church in the United States can that be said these days? You have to go overseas for examples of people putting their whole faith and fortune on the line. In parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, even Latin America, they sometimes lose their lives for their faith, but not in Europe or the USA.

    I appreciate your faithful, thoughtful, prayerful response above. The one thing I was hoping to hear from you, and did not, is that you prayed, “God, could the homosexuals be right?”

    I know you don’t want to persecute us, but I still think you’ve got a little work to do. If you pray that prayer and get a different answer than I did, please write back at once.

    Josh Thomas
    Lay Vicar

    Liked by 1 person

  5. josh says:

    This is for Bob Jones above, today’s date, in response to my reply to David Knudtson. Our format here doesn’t permit endless nesting of replies to replies.

    Thank you, Mr. Jones, for your many good points and balanced views. I am glad for your C.S. Lewis citation and the conclusion you draw regarding civil unions.

    Still, I find some flaws in your thinking, which I’ll respectfully detail here.

    TEC didn’t change its policies on homosexuality to be trendy, but out of a long, drawn-out and halting process of discernment – and I regret your imputing such a motive to the Church. You politely accuse us of being less faithful than you are. And you sound like you’re just echoing a talking point you heard somewhere, instead of applying your own reason, as you’ve otherwise tried to do.

    God wasn’t wrong 2000 years ago and hasn’t changed her mind; she’s always loved Gay people. We’re just now finding it out. As the scales finally fall from our eyes we find the Scriptures replete with veiled blessings for LGBTs and all other minorities.

    As for all your struggling, weeping, praying and anguishing with my kind, sorry, we don’t need it or want it. There’s nothing wrong with how we are – God’s told us repeatedly if we have ears to hear – so why are you, Mr. Heterosexual Traditionalist, going through all this angst?

    The root of your argument is the biological one, but get this: God put us on earth so we would NOT be fruitful and multiply, and thus be a brake on heterosexuals’ unbridled, ungoverned passions that threaten to turn this whole Earth into Easter Island. Have you seen population projections for the end of the 21st century? We can’t afford all your babies, the Earth can’t sustain them all.

    Lesbian and Gay people, because we’re less likely to reproduce, are free to become caregivers for communities, not just our own brood like you folk have to do. You have responsibilities we don’t have, so we take up the slack, because we’re at least as loving and faithful as you are; sometimes more. That’s why you find us overrepresented in service occupations and community leadership.

    We’re not “reproductive failures,” as the evolutionary biologists like to say, but “nonreproducing successes” – which is the same reason we’re represented in hundreds of species and more to come.

    As part of biology we’re part of God’s creation, and he doesn’t hate a thing that he has made. He knew all this from the very beginning – all the ways we’d deal with body parts, finding every possible combination. He also gave us humans a need for love, so let us express it in monogamous, committed relationships blessed and sanctified by the Church.

    These are some of the things TEC is discovering in its 40-year agony. Millions of other Christians in every denomination look at us in agreement, admiration and even envy, because *our democratic structures enable this conversation faster than theirs do.* All mainline denominations are moving this way, and keeping an eye on what happens to us because they know we’re the leaders. (UCC got here first, but they’re small, and MCC never came from where you do and always knew LGBTs are no better, worse or different from anyone else.) Then there are all the pro-Gay Catholics, Orthodox, Pentecostals, Baptists and others who are outnumbered in their churches at present. Who do you think has been streaming to TEC while the homophobes left? Most of our new converts wouldn’t know a Cranmer from a cranberry, but they come anyway to hear the Gospel and try to live it out.

    I’m sure you’d agree that if reason disagrees with scripture and tradition, reason wins; you listed it first in your three-legged stool, and I admire that. It’s reason that’s winning here, sir, not trendiness. TEC seeks to transform the social world for Christ just like you do.

    More than reason, it’s the Holy Spirit, that Person who lives inside our bodies today, who enlightens our minds, who corrects human errors and assumptions and yes, misinterpretation of the scripture and the tradition.

    She’s the one who frees the slaves from bondage. She’s the one who says women are created in the image of God and able to do everything a man does in the Church and the world. The Church didn’t start ordaining women to be trendy; it cost us dearly. But we did it because (after more agony) the Spirit said to. And TEC was so faithful it was willing to enter into persecution, which was exactly the result. “Take up your cross and follow me.”

    Of what other church in the United States can that be said these days? You have to go overseas for examples of people putting their whole faith and fortune on the line. In parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, even Latin America, they sometimes lose their lives for their faith, but not in Europe or the USA.

    I appreciate your faithful, thoughtful, prayerful response above. The one thing I was hoping to hear from you, and did not, is that you prayed, “God, could the homosexuals be right?”

    I know you don’t want to persecute us, but I still think you’ve got a little work to do. If you pray that prayer and get a different answer than I did, please write back at once.

    Josh Thomas
    Lay Vicar

    Like

  6. Bob Jones says:

    Josh,

    Again I would like to stress that I do not believe that God does not love gay people, our Father loves all of his creation. But just because he loves all of his creation does not mean that we should condone all actions done by members of his creation. You say that there is nothing wrong with how you are, and the reason that I go through all this angst on your behalf, is that you don’t see that there is. I’m not saying that you are somehow a lesser part of creation, or that a gay person is any less loved or less faithful than a straight person, but that homosexuality does in fact go against the natural order God created. We see that in the garden that Adam and Eve, man and woman, were made for each other, when Adam needed a helper God did not make another man, but a woman. One who complimented him both spiritually and physically. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’ As I said in my last comment, homosexuality came out of the fall, out of a breaking of God’s natural order. I struggle and weep for those homosexuals who wish to belong fully to Christ, and recognize this, for this is their cardinal struggle, this is the sin they must struggle with all their lives, but it is something, as all sins and struggles are, they shows us God’s power and mercy when we turn to him for help.

    As for the biological argument, I don’t think that your interpretation of homosexuals being put on the earth to put a brake on heterosexual unbridled passions is just. I would say first of all that much of the unbridled passions of the world come from a population that has not come into a relationship with Christ and a faith in God. And as for those Christians who are fulfilling the command of be fruitful and multiply, do you not have faith that God will provide for his people? We are making great strides in the science and technology of food production and healthcare for a growing population. And we have no idea what new advances are around the corner. Not only that, but simply having homosexuals on the planet does not suddenly curb reproduction in heterosexual relationships. Homosexuals are just as much a part of the population as any others, and many choose to use donors in order to have children of their own, thereby facilitating the growth of population; as such I would say that your argument is hardly one that is unbiased or fair.

    In regards to the Holy Spirit speaking to you, would you not agree that if a heterosexual and a homosexual are in a room together praying and one hears from the Holy Spirit that homosexuality is a sin and the other that homosexuality is acceptable, that neither one of them has actually heard from the Holy Spirit, but only from what they wish the Holy Spirit would say? God’s mind is made up on all issues, and so if half the church prays and believes to hear that homosexuality is sinful while the other hears the opposite, then both groups clearly have not heard from God, for if they did he would tell them all the same thing. On issues such as this, just as on the issue of women’s ordination, prayer and discernment done together is what is necessary. If the Holy Spirit tells people contradicting things, then that in fact was not the Spirit, and continued prayer and discernment must be taken, even if that means centuries of effort. God does not work on man’s time, and man cannot simply get fed up with waiting – as did happen with women’s ordination when those women who wanted to be ordained simply found a bishop willing to do it and went ahead with it, even when the entire church had not come to agreement or condoned the action – and push ahead anyway. For that shows that those people are not in fact waiting to hear from God, but wish to be gods of their own lives.

    I do not believe that reason outweighs scripture and tradition, for if you have one leg of the stool longer than any other, it wobbles and falls over. It is a balance of the three which brings about proper change in the church, accepting any one over the other two only promotes what man wishes to do with the church based on his own personal views.

    I have prayed that prayer many times, and I honestly have had times in my prayer when I really felt that homosexuals living in monogamous relationships could be accepted by the church, but with further discernment I have always seen that this would in fact go against the natural order, and go against what is the purpose of sex and marriage. I hope you do not think that I am simply another outrightly denying your cause, for I am not. This issue brings me immense heartbreak, for it tears at the fabric of the Body of Christ, and brings great pain to God’s people on both sides of the issue. But even so, it is not simply an issue any side of the church can plow ahead on with their own beliefs, it must be one tackled together, as one Body, discerning and praying together, no matter how long it takes.

    P.S. Though you may not have meant it to sound so, I shall say just in case. It struck me that you seemed to consistently drive a wedge between heterosexuals and homosexuals in the church, using phrases that bring up an us vs. them mentality. I recognize that this is in fact an issue that separates two groups of the church, but it should be approached with the constant remembrance that we are all one Body in Christ. Regardless of what our opinions and beliefs on matters such as these may be, we all recognized Christ as King and God as the Father of Mercy, and these issues should never be so divisive as to bring up hatred in us for our fellow Christians. I would still gladly take communion with you, and still respect and love you as Christ has taught.

    Like

    • josh says:

      “The natural order, the natural order.” Dude, we’re part of the natural order! Even if you can’t get that through your head. Don’t keep making the same argument and expecting a different outcome, as if I will suddenly see the light.

      According to you, discernment of the Holy Spirit’s will requires the entire Church’s consensus, “even if it takes centuries.” I don’t think so; neither do the prophets who demanded justice now, not tomorrow, not centuries later, but now.

      I’m not the one driving a wedge between Gay people and Straight people, you are, insisting over and again that heterosexuals be privileged while homosexuals are denied. “It’s the natural order,” you say, “the natural order, the natural order.”

      —The biological argument, when we’re the ones with biology on our side. Learn the science of how female human fetuses turn male. You and I both started out female, and we have evidence of this right in the middle of our chests.

      The timing and extent of the testosterone rush determines gender and sexual orientation. Are you to be deemed moral because you got the rush six hours faster than I did? Am I to be deemed immoral because I was a little late, and your ancient Scriptures don’t account for that variance?

      The Holy Bible is not a biology text, but a record of humanity’s halting response to God. We’ve always been halting, we always will be.

      And yes, I maintain that when Scripture and Tradition maintain one position, but Reason maintains another, Reason wins. That’s not making one leg of the stool too long, it’s recognizing when two legs of the stool are too short.

      I repeat, for your own comfort as well as my own, that LGBTQ people really don’t need your agonizing. We find our way to God without you. S/he finds her way to us whether or not s/he has your approval.

      I suppose it’s nice of you to agonize over our immortal souls, but I think you’re wasting your energy. We’re just people like you are, as capable and incapable of committed relationships and genuine human love as you are or aren’t.

      Meanwhile I’ve seen the damage that homophobia does, and I assure you it’s deadly. Prejudice — “we’re better than you are” — is always deadly. I’m glad that you favor civil unions and approach my people with respect.

      I would take Communion with you too. I don’t need us to agree on this, nor do I intend to engage in endless argument. To me God has answered this issue; to you, God has not. Fine, I can live with that.

      I do believe that the Centurion loved his païs, and that Jesus called that Roman soldier the most faithful man is Israel.

      Of course I could be wrong, but nothing you’ve written convinces me of that; it’s all “natural law, natural order, natural law.” The pope makes the same argument over birth control, which the entire world supports based on Reason, not Scripture or Tradition.

      God gave us minds and expects us to use them. That’s why Reason is one of the three legs of the stool. I am sorry that you think Scripture and Tradition trump Discovery, but at present this can’t be helped.

      “God, could the homosexuals be right?” Throughout the churches, s/he’s saying yes, despite all the resistance s/he encounters. God really is beyond gender, even as Jesus prayed, “Our Father.”

      If he’d prayed, “Our Mother,” they’d have crucified him before he even got started. So he submitted to Tradition, then let the Holy Spirit go to work.

      You and I don’t have to agree on anything beyond the Creed. Since I’m sure we have that in common, all is well.

      josh

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth Rocchio says:

      Bob,
      YOU SAID IT YOURSELF: God loves His creation. PERIOD. It is humans who lack love and understanding. Open your heart and pray. God answers prayers but often not as we would have it done – dwell in the uncomfortable place of intellectual and doctrinal uncertainty and dwell wholly in the love of God for everyone, everywhere. Challenge your unloving nature and your intellectual judgements. Please. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • josh says:

        Ruth, thank you for reminding us to be open to “the uncomfortable place of intellectual and doctrinal uncertainty,” and to “dwell wholly in the love of God for everyone, everywhere.” LGBTQ’s need that reminder as much as anyone. We all need to “challenge our unloving nature and our intellectual judgments.”

        I’m just glad to be part of a church that supports the quest.

        josh

        Liked by 1 person

  7. kennieb says:

    I have those kind of eyebrows, too! I have read your letter often and I keep getting something from it. Got something I read from Catholic Answers. An answer to a question about homosexuality being a choice. The response is supposed to be the official Roman position. Human Sexuality is not entirely understood, so for a person to be attracted to an individual of the same sex is not necessarily a choice, but acting on that attraction is a voice and, therefore, can be sinful. That is a paraphrase of the response, but I believe I have kept the idea of the answer. Thought the answer was rather interesting. Do you have any comments?
    Again, thank you so much for the Daily Office East.

    Like

    • josh says:

      Guys should instruct their barbers to trim their eyebrows and ear hair for them. (GQ recently advised, “Learn to pluck, fellas,” but I refuse to.)

      It seems there have been all kinds of “official” Roman positions over the years, including some hateful ones; the one you cite is a little more rational and humane. But I don’t believe that Gay sex is sinful, nor that any Church or individual has the right to say, “We get to have sex but you don’t.” What kind of a God would create 200 known species where homosexual behavior has been documented, then say, “For 199 of them there’s no morality involved, but for human beings, don’t do it or I’ll destroy you.” That assertion is based on a faulty understanding of God.

      “By their fruits ye shall know them.” A bad tree can’t produce good fruit, but LGBTQ people produce good fruits all the time. That’s why TEC has made its decision; same-sex blessing rites will be introduced next year at General Convention in Indianapolis.

      Glad you’re with us, kennieb.

      josh

      Like

  8. Rick Powell says:

    Josh Jesus loves and died for all sinners. My sin, your sin and the sin of the woman caught in adultery. What did he say to her after her accusers left? Neither do I condemn you; go. and SIN NO MORE! Homosexual conduct is a perversion of God’s created image of Man & Woman and the estate of Holy Matrimony. Jesus loves all sinners including GLBTs but calls them to cease such sinful conduct, come to the cross and be healed, delivered, &set free. Just like Lazarus who was called out of his tomb of death and his grave clothes were unwrapped ; each of us are called forth from our tombs including those trapped in homosexuality. Jesus is doing that today. Just ask Leanne Payne and her ministry.

    Like

    • Ruth says:

      Rick,
      You and I are not qualified to judge anyone or anything, quite frankly. The tomb we are called from is also the tomb of our ignorance of what love and transformation really are. Your view is your view – you may claim it is God or Christ’s view according to the Bible but if you are any kind of student of history or the Bible you will already know it is a document that was very much fought over, changed and not the infallible word dictated by the almighty but created by flawed human beings. This being said, while I can honor your view, I cannot honor your judgement. To which you have no right. Compassion is the only response to hatred and judgement. I therefore apply that balm of compassion to you and your ilk, and pray for a great opening of your mind and heart.

      Like

    • josh says:

      Oh, Rick, so you get to have sex but I don’t. And this is according to God, you say.

      God’s “created image of male and female” somehow results in homosexual behavior in 400+ known species. Are they allowed to have sex (there isn’t a morality of animal sexuality), but Gay humans aren’t?

      I’m not the least bit trapped in homosexuality, I feel liberated in it. The people who are trapped are those who get stuck with anti-Gay charlatans and so-called faith healers. Believe me, there are millions of Gay people who would “pray away the Gay” if only it worked. But it doesn’t. That’s just science, pal, like it or not. “CURE FOR HOMOSEXUALITY FOUND” would make headlines worldwide – but it’s never been printed because there isn’t any cure.

      I’m not about to tell any group of loving human beings, “You may not have sex because God said so.” I don’t have the right to control people like that. Instead I say, “The best form of sexuality takes place in a context of love and commitment – that is, marriage – with a consenting adult you’re in love with.”

      Rick, I’m sorry to say you’re the type who can’t admit he could be wrong – while I’ve done that very thing in the article above. Did you read it? Or are you just afraid to discover that the earth revolves around the sun, no matter how many popes said otherwise?

      Fundamentalists are so weak in faith. They think that if one single comma in the Bible is wrong, the whole thing could be wrong, which sends them into a total panic.

      Mainstream Christians know the Bible isn’t a science text or a history, it’s a giant series of allegories; Jesus himself taught using parables. But no, the fundamentalists think the world was created in seven days “’cause it says so right in the Bible!” They don’t have the education to know that Creation Story #1 was tacked onto the front of Creation Story #2, and in Hebrew they read like Hip-Hop tacked onto Shakespeare; two different eras. When translated into English they read seamlessly – but that’s only in the translation.

      If you ever care to understand the prohibition against (male only) homosexuality, read the story of Onan; masturbation, which is universally practiced whether churches like it or not, was made illegal because Israel needed the population growth. That’s why female homosexuality doesn’t even deserve a mention; the Hebrews didn’t realize it takes both sperm and egg to make a baby.

      The morality they taught, though, is utterly sound: Do not commit adultery. If you make a commitment, keep it. That’s the very morality I teach, making me not all that popular among hedonistic, heedless Gay men.

      I’m an Episcopalian because I believe in Jesus Christ and we’re not afraid of the truth. The earth is part of a SOLAR system. Four hundred years later the Pope apologized to Galileo, once he was safely dead.

      Four hundred years from now, let fundamentalists apologize to my kind for all their injustices and lies, murder and mayhem.

      Josh Thomas

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Charlotte says:

    PROVERBS 6:

    16These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

    17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

    18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

    19A false witness that speaketh lies, and HE THAT SOWETH DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN!!!

    Sadly, this site cannot glorify God as long as there is discord among the brethren here.

    Good-bye :(

    Like

    • Ruth says:

      Charlotte, as long as there are people like you, there will be people like me who disagree with and openly will oppose you. May you find peace.

      Liked by 1 person

      • josh says:

        (Charlotte could at least have used a non-sexist translation of the Bible for her Proverbial proof-text.)

        I didn’t soweth no beans, corn, potatoes or discord among brethren, both of whom know I’m Gay. I do raise strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and onions, and my herb garden is especially prolific. I had to yank up half the tarragon before it ate the air conditioner.

        I just wish anti-Gay people would pray about it before they go Gay-bashing, but they never do. Oh well; whatever it takes to make this a safe place for LGBTQs.

        Thank you, Ruth, for safeguarding my people.

        josh

        Like

  10. Jaan says:

    This is an issue that I struggle with admittedly. I like to consider myself a progressive anglocatholic and have gay friends but I do struggle with the issue and have bounced between rome and canturbuary on the issue. I guess I come by it honestly my dad is a southern baptist pastor. My current position would be a liberal anglocatholic position concerning the development of tradition and what is central to faith. For a tenant of the faith to change it begins with a prophetic witness which is usually initially condemned by most catholic faiths ( churches that hold to apostolic succession). If it is a movement of the spirit the movement continues to gather storm until it finally is agreed upon by a local church in this case the Episcopal Church which begins a storm that spreads through a whole communion until accepted by the majority of those churches within that particular communion until it becomes universal. My point here is that we are really at the beginning stages still when it comes to this issue and alot of work needs to be done. My generation and I am in my 40’s are going to look for black and white answers and proofs when this is really about compassion, love and the development of doctrine which is always a painful process.

    Like

    • josh says:

      Jaan,

      You’ve given a succinct summation here of where things currently stand, and I respect this a great deal. My only qualm is with your statement, “a lot of work needs to be done.” What work, by whom? You’re surely right but you leave those questions unanswered.

      I point this out because Lesbigay Christians have done a great deal of work, theologically, in prayer and liturgy, and politically within the Church, to reveal and proclaim Good News to our brothers and sisters, yet we’re constantly accused, by anti-Gay opponents and searchers for black and white truths, of “only having begun.” As Archbishop Tutu has often pointed out, we’re fighting a kind of heterosexist apartheid here, so the issue is bringing the structures of oppression down so people can live free. It’s a messy process; people die doing this work. But eventually the walls do fall because they were built on the sands of falsehood and deliberate lies.

      It was not the job of the prophets of old to lead giant international campaigns to gain worldwide consensus that the current structures are unjust; their job was to speak the truth, regardless of consequences. That’s what we are doing, led I believe by the Holy Spirit. She is the master campaigner here. She is the one with the work to do, which is mostly calling and calling and calling us to respond. Fortunately for us, she’s indefatigable.

      josh

      Like

  11. Seeker Mom says:

    I am a political liberal and theological conservative. I have an openly gay son who I love dearly and for whom I wish a life full of joy and happiness, free of discrimination and full of Christ. (Ooooh, look, a conservative idealist!!) I have told him that his journey in Christ does not have to look like my journey in Christ. I am not in the least threatened by the idea of his attending a church that is gay-friendly.

    And I pray all the time that if I am wrong in any area of my belief, that God will reveal that to me and change my heart & mind. This has happened to me, often in ways I have not particularly welcomed.

    So the only point I want to take issue with (since on all other points discussed here, I have yet to see anyone argue another into changing a viewpoint) is this: “the opponents of Gay Christians never, ever ask God about it. They don’t have to; they’re full of rectitude. That’s a red flag. They assume they know the mind of God. They never have the courage to say in prayer, “God, your Church is of two minds about this. What’s up with that?””

    I have known many theological conservatives who *have* asked God about it. Some of those have not changed their mind from their original position, and some have. But the ones who hold a different position from yours are not necessarily bigoted, virulent anti-gay traditionalists who can’t open their minds one tiny crack. (Of course there are such people, just as there are people on the opposite end of the stereotype spectrum. But I’m not talking about extremes here.) Such an opinion leads to an ever-widening schism. Can we not love each other as brothers, even as we admit our lack of complete knowledge of the mind of God on this (and many other) issues?

    Grace to you, brother, and peace, in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Like

    • josh says:

      Thank you for your contribution, Seeker Mom. You have drilled down to the absolute point of the essay: asking God if we could be wrong.

      I take your testimony at face value, that’s you “have known many theological conservatives who *have* asked God about it.”

      I’ve never known one such person who, after prayer, maintained their anti-Gay position. So I’m glad to be corrected on this vital point.

      I’ve known many who asked God in prayer and did change their minds as a result. The Episcopal Church as a whole has experienced this shift in positions.

      I have not seen any of these people you describe as being on the opposite end of the stereotype spectrum; I think you’re repeating something you postulate to be true without knowing that it’s true; it seems logical that there would be such people, but I doubt you can cite any actual examples. GLBT Christians who take God seriously have invariably wrestled with these questions, and usually continue to do so throughout their lives. Certainty is an enemy of faith.

      But your point is that anti-Gay conservatives “are not necessarily bigoted, virulently anti-Gay traditionalists.” That assertion is patently wrong. Bigotry isn’t just about a person’s attitude, but her behavior.

      You’d have us believe that a person who votes for, say, Proposition 8 in California, taking away a right to same-sex marriage already established (and thus causing harm to real LGBT lives) didn’t mean anything personal about it – though the effect of her vote was extremely personal. She took away a human right for a whole category of citizens, but she’s not a bigot? Ha.

      She voted for a constitutional amendment in another state to prevent same-sex marriage, but she was only thinking about God’s will, not the round of Gay-bashing her vote set off? “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

      She supports a Roman Catholic hierarchy willing to shut down *government-funded* adoption services for all children and all families rather than follow anti-discrimination laws. But no, you say she’s not a bigot.

      She wants to maintain a system in which heterosexuals enjoy 1500 Federal rights, including tax breaks, but homosexuals are denied them and forced to pay money to support her heterosexual marriage? That’s exactly like apartheid, where Blacks were taxed at 60 rands a year in annual income, but Whites weren’t taxed until they earned twice as much – where Black pupils were funded at 200 rands a year and White pupils at 900 rands a year. But you say she wasn’t a bigot.

      God doesn’t tell one seeker one thing and another seeker the opposite. Racism is wrong. Sexism is wrong. All forms of discrimination are wrong.

      Now we have Rick Santorum, one of the most virulently anti-Gay presidential candidates in history, claiming he doesn’t hate Gay people, he just wants to enact policies that will destroy Gay lives. He makes this claim now because he’s been caught so many times making outrageously bigoted remarks. It isn’t what he says today that matters, it’s what he does.

      As for your “can’t we all just love each other” plea, I hear it as sentimental treacle. I don’t love Rick Santorum. If that makes me a sinner, you can see why I belong in church.

      Josh Thomas

      Like

  12. Seeker Mom says:

    Josh,

    You have just pinpointed exactly why I am a political liberal. I do not feel that my theological beliefs should be allowed to cause discrimination for others. To be most specific, then, I support legal gay marriage, and all the federal benefits that accompany it. AND I believe that individual congregations, whose reading of Scripture maintains that sexual activity between people of the same gender is not what God intended sexual activity to be, should not be forced to perform gay marriages. AND I further believe that people in churches should be as outspoken against adultery, pre-marital sex, and use of pornography as they are against gay sexual activity, or rather, that they shouldn’t primarily speak out *against* aspects of sexuality, but promote the benefits of living in the Spirit, and how our souls are bound up in our bodies, and using our appetites (sexual and otherwise) responsibly brings us into greater freedom in Christ. AND I believe that churches should be as welcoming to people who identify as gay as those who identify as straight. AND I struggle with the notion that perhaps I am splitting hairs that can’t be split. I’m not at all sure that I’m right. However, I’m not at all sure that you are, either.

    And I realize that humans aren’t going to reach any true agreement on this because for every argument, there’s a counter-argument, and for every strong emotion on one side, there is an equally strong emotion on the other. I’m not even sure you’re right that God doesn’t tell one seeker one thing and another seeker something different. For example, we have people in the Church who believe strongly in free will, and dismiss verses about predestination. We have others who believe just as fervently the other way around. I can’t be sure they aren’t both right, that in God’s infiniteness, there could be room for both His choosing us and our choosing Him.

    I am certain you are right when you heard Jesus say to you that He loves you just as you are. And I applaud an open, blunt discussion of this issue. I want to be a person who can truly listen, truly try to understand, and then continue wrestling to discern what God wants to say to me.

    And please don’t twist my words to say that you have to love Rick Santorum! :) Argh. I’m straight & I’m not sure I could love him either! I’m not being treacly and asking “why can’t we all just get along?” This is far too important to just paper over. I’m asking, “Can’t we agree that there is enough substance on both sides of this issue that it is not a black & white, clear-cut decision?” As you correctly noted, Jesus never said anything about this issue, at least not recorded in Scripture. And He surrounded Himself with people as diverse as a Zealot and a tax collector. So in my circle, there is room for you and yours. I may not always agree with you, well, clearly I don’t always. But I respect you and can staunchly defend you as a brother in Christ, praying not for you to be changed on this issue, but for you and me both to be transformed by the mind of Christ, showing His love forth.

    And I agree with your sentiment of “if that makes me a sinner, you can see why I belong in church.” I cling to Christ and His church because of that very sentiment echoed in my heart. People can be very hard to love.

    Like

    • josh says:

      Seeker Mom, I will be happy to attend Holy Communion with you, as I’m happy to converse with you here.

      I am glad you support same-sex marriage in civil society. I do point out that there isn’t a marriage law anywhere in the country that forces congregations, ministers or priests to marry any two people. That’s a red herring; you seem to me fond of such tactics. Why do you criticize something that doesn’t exist? You act as if you’re making a point, but in fact you’re perpetuating fear; “what if they make us marry these people?” They never have; why would they start?

      I’m an Episcopalian; our clergy are adamant that they won’t marry any couple, Gay or Straight, off the street, with no faith or church ties, or who exhibit incompatibility or wrong motives or coercion or any other disqualification. They’d be the first to complain if a government tried forcing them to officiate at a wedding they didn’t believe in.

      I completely agree with promoting the benefits of living in the Spirit and expressing sexuality in the most godly and responsible ways in a context of permanent commitment. Most Gay men don’t agree with this position, but I don’t mind being a minority voice in my own community. I think Jesus is the way, the truth and the life; they don’t agree with that either. Oh well!

      We could debate your assertion that “humans aren’t going to reach any true agreement” on LGBT civil rights. Look at the demographic breakdowns of opinion polls on these issues. Young adults are overwhelmingly for full civil rights. No, it’s not unanimous; yes, there are still members of the Flat Earth Society. But there’s no doubt, in this country and others around the world, that Gay rights are here to stay.

      This has important implications for the Church. We do not want to get stuck upholding bigotry (which is how young people see us), because that will have very negative impacts on Christian evangelism. This is already evident in the Gay community, who once again are social innovators.

      Your citing the free will vs. predestination argument is seldom heard in my church, so it strikes me as an odd comparison here. Episcopalians don’t care how you come to Christ, we care that you come to Christ. It isn’t something we need to explain. We’re comfortable in the ambiguity.

      You wrote: “I’m asking, ‘Can’t we agree that there is enough substance on both sides of this issue that it is not a black & white, clear-cut decision?'” I guess I’m saying no, we really can’t. At God’s direction Moses led the people out of slavery, no matter how many 18th-21st century racists tried quoting the Bible to support it. God is just; discrimination is unjust.

      I must say I’m proud of young adults, and LGBT people, for choosing justice over churchy arguments. They’re completely right about it, and taking God’s side whether they know it or not. My job as I see it, a particular task within my commission as an evangelist for all persons, is to teach these seekers of justice not to throw baby Jesus out with the bathwater. When all they know is what they hear in the media, Bad News out of the Pope, Gary Bauer and Rick Santorum, they want to toss the whole mess overboard. I would too, if those people accurately represented Christianity; but they don’t. I think media culture is a huge part of the problem. Good News can’t get through when there’s so much money to be made in Bad News.

      josh

      Like

  13. Seeker Mom says:

    Josh,

    I would enjoy sharing with Communion with you. You are, from what I can surmise from a website, a thoughtful, committed, passionate Christian. I hope that you have enjoyed this discussion as a good-natured give-and-take, as I have. That is my intention in writing these posts, and I hope that’s been clear.

    The slavery analogy seems perhaps as much of a red herring to me as my musings on theological doctrine seemed to you. Slavery was not an attitude or discrimination. Slavery was ownership of other human beings, depriving them of *any* choices in whether, or how, to work, travel, worship, participate in society, or form meaningful relationships. While I know my own son feels that he encounters prejudice and sometimes even hatred, he has never complained that he has been chained to a post and whipped for refusing to follow others’ will for him.

    For the record, he & we have come to the agreement that we don’t “get” each other’s sexuality. He doesn’t understand heterosexual attraction any more than we understand homosexual attraction. But what we do get is that we love each other, we are family, and we’re going to keep plugging away at our relationship. He knows we love him as he is, and we’re not making any attempt to change him. We set some limits for him when he lived with us, like no sleepovers with his boyfriend, that we will also have in place for his siblings, straight or gay.

    While I have, of course, encountered hateful anti-gay rhetoric, it has almost exclusively been in media portrayals. Most of the “certain I am right” people I have encountered are ignorant, having had no firsthand experience in close relationship with a GLBT person. In contrast, many of the theologically conservative people I have known are not ignorant, nor unaware of how they may be perceived. Their thought process is along the same lines that we have as parents: we are not going to encourage what we see as less-than-Godly expressions of sexuality. The church has a poor record in proclaiming this as a positive rather than a negative – we used to (and in some circles, still do) ostracize people who divorced, rather than welcome people, acknowledging that their broken relationship was merely a more obvious outward sign that we all live in a fallen world. We used to make pregnant teens feel even more ashamed of their mistakes, driving them underground instead of reassuring them of Jesus’ far-reaching grace.

    But teaching people that divorce is not optimal, that teen pregnancy is not the ideal, is not the same as hating divorced people or teen moms. That’s the point I’m trying to get across. It is possible to love people and disagree with their behavioral choices. (I’m not arguing that gay attraction is a choice, by the way, just that what one does to act on the attraction is.) We have, in our family (by family, I mean people in our home or in our immediate families of origin, people who we actually see and stay in regular relationship with), divorced people, teen moms, far-right Republicans, left-wing Democrats, gay people, straight people, mixed-race couples, multilingual people, people who have amassed major debt, people who won’t spend anything but cash, and people who’ve never left the state they were born in. We love them all, and frankly, don’t offer our opinions on any of the ways they are choosing to live their lives (agree or disagree) unless we’re asked for advice.

    I don’t know for sure if I’m right or wrong. I continue to ask God to guide me to be a good steward of the Spirit, offering Christ to others. I’m going to make mistakes. I’m not going to be right on everything. But I hope, I dearly hope, that loving people will be more evident in my life than judging them. And I hope that continuing to take part in discussions like this one will enhance understanding, not discord, between me and people I disagree with.

    I pray God’s richest blessings on you, Josh. I am thankful for you.

    Like

  14. josh says:

    Thank you for everything, Seeker Mom.

    Of course you’re right that discrimination isn’t the same as human slavery; at best it’s somewhat analogous. But it is the clearest analogy we can think of.

    Does discrimination against women kill? You bet it does. Does anti-Gay discrimination? Same answer. The means are not the same as being tied to a whipping post – unless you happen to be Gay or Lesbian in a Muslim country, in which case that’s exactly what will happen until you’re dead.

    In this country physical violence is not state-sponsored; instead families and schools and churches implant a self-destructive electrode in every LGBT head. The result is Tyler Clementi jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

    You want to maintain we have a theological difference; that’s the least of it. I want to see the dying stop.

    I’m glad you brought up divorce. The single best day of my life was the day my parents got divorced. No more domestic violence; no more living with a suicidal/homicidal drug addict! But here come churches like yours, pointing at Scriptures as if they had anything to do with surviving in my family. Know what happened when my mother divorced my father? The Episcopal Church excommunicated her, “’cause it said so right in the Bible and the Canons.” I was livid. The divorce was when we needed the church the most!

    How many married women have suffered in silence, dead inside, over how many centuries, because somebody said somethin’ somewhere? If the Church actually taught people how to make a marriage, how to choose a spouse wisely, how to be sexual, it might have a claim to our attention. But it doesn’t; thanks to some of your friends it never will.

    You make me aware that this really is in part a discussion of Biblical interpretation and, more importantly, how one ought to regard Holy Scripture. I think it’s 99.99% right – but when it’s wrong it’s deadly. Some people regard it as infallible; they’re afraid that if even a comma is wrong, others will chuck it out the window. But all-or-nothing thinking is childish; adults see issues and truths in shades of gray, “this is what we know now, this is what we think now, but we await further developments.” (This is why the current ad campaign of the United Church of Christ features a big comma; there’s more to come.) Episcopalians and others have a different approach to Holy Scripture. First we acknowledge that we’re dealing largely with human translations of ancient languages, and there are bound to be errors, mistranslations and misunderstandings. We don’t have a pristine manuscript in ancient Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic to consult; there isn’t one anywhere in the world. That induces a little humility in us.

    Nearly all Anglicans approach theological difficulties as resting on a “three-legged stool” (Richard Hooker) of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. We start with the best scholarship we can find about what the Scripture says and means. To that we add an examination of what the Church has traditionally taught and thought on the topic. Finally, we filter it all through human reason; God gave us brains, even if we don’t use them very often or very well. If Scripture and Tradition say one thing, as seems to be the case regarding sexual orientation and ethics, but Reason contradicts them in light of current knowledge, Reason trumps the other two, because the stool can’t stand on two legs.

    Resolution of the controversy comes over a long period of time and study, as scholars, clergy and laypeople seek stability and balance among the three legs. We don’t homogenize the faith; we seek to discern it in its purity and goodness. At times this means, a few decades or centuries later, we change our minds.

    Let me point out that this discussion we’re having takes place on a blog devoted to four-times-daily, non-sectarian prayer and scripture – The Daily Office. Our 1.6 million visitors come here to praise, read and pray. We believe what we pray (in Latin, lex orandi, lex credendi), including the ancient statement of faith called the Apostles’ Creed. You and I are able to converse because we agree on the essentials of the faith. No view of sexual orientation is an essential; I resent when some people try to make it one, and seek political power, money and spiritual dominance by exploiting fears of others who are “not like us.” That’s called scapegoating, and the Testaments are full of condemnations of it. Were Jewish widows and orphans somehow at fault because they didn’t have a man around? The prophets shout No!

    So I am glad we can talk in this context of prayer. I am glad that you try your best not to judge others, and don’t impose your faith in the secular voting booth. I am glad that you and your Gay son live and let live in ongoing relationship. I am glad you have reached out to me, and others reading this, in such considerate and articulate ways.

    As we agree to disagree while meeting at the Holy Table, the only thing more I can offer is this; I find Episcopalians to be incredibly faithful Christians, and the same is true of the thousands of members of other traditions who come here to enjoy and be nurtured by the Daily Office. We have a healthy approach to the Bible, the Sacraments and the pronouncements of prelates; we’re not “giving in to the culture” but hoping to see it transformed over time in the image of God. We don’t park our brains at the door; we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; we don’t do all-or-nothing thinking; we’re not afraid of the questions or the mysteries or the God-statements we might personally reject, at this point in our lives. We know that all will be revealed in time. We even look forward to growing older for that reason.

    And so do you, which is how you and I can be friends in Christ. You tell that boy of yours I said he’s got a good Mom.

    Blessings on you both,

    josh

    Like

  15. Seeker Mom says:

    Josh,

    I’ve been thinking about you and praying for you frequently since our exchange. Thanks for your honesty as we wrote to each other. I came away having learned from you, for which I am grateful.

    I pray God’s rich blessings on you today and each day.

    Like

    • josh says:

      Seeker Mom,

      I think it’s out of dialogue that we come to a greater understanding. No one has a monopoly on the truth.

      You wrote:

      While I have, of course, encountered hateful anti-gay rhetoric, it has almost exclusively been in media portrayals. Most of the “certain I am right” people I have encountered are ignorant, having had no firsthand experience in close relationship with a GLBT person. In contrast, many of the theologically conservative people I have known are not ignorant, nor unaware of how they may be perceived. Their thought process is along the same lines that we have as parents: we are not going to encourage what we see as less-than-Godly expressions of sexuality. The church has a poor record in proclaiming this as a positive rather than a negative – we used to (and in some circles, still do) ostracize people who divorced, rather than welcome people, acknowledging that their broken relationship was merely a more obvious outward sign that we all live in a fallen world. We used to make pregnant teens feel even more ashamed of their mistakes, driving them underground instead of reassuring them of Jesus’ far-reaching grace.

      But teaching people that divorce is not optimal, that teen pregnancy is not the ideal, is not the same as hating divorced people or teen moms. That’s the point I’m trying to get across.

      This is still problematic to me, but I do try to listen to you. Here are my problems with the above: 1) “Media portrayals,” as opposed to “hateful things said in public, in front of cameras and microphones, by politicians and preachers.” The media don’t invent these things, they simply record them. They can always depend on Pat Robertson and the pope to go off; the older they get, the more likely the eruption. You continually downplay the effect of this public hatred. To you it’s all a media portrayal, as if that somehow means it didn’t happen. 2) After pointing out the role that ignorance and unfamiliarity with LGBT people play among many in the conservative audience, you go on to discuss those who are not ignorant – and who know how they will be *perceived.* My jaw drops at this. Are you trying to turn them into courageous heroes? Do you think the perception that someone is hateful is the most important consequence of the positions they take? I do not. I think the death they cause – the restrictions on human freedom and human rights – is by far the more important consequence. So you quite amaze me, as you worry about my misunderstanding their motives. What I look at is their results!

      Think about the ethics of it. “Dr. Schmoe” has a truth he feels compelled to speak. The result of his speaking is that tens of thousands of Californians lose the right to protect their beloved in civil marriage, an objective evil. Should Dr. Schmoe speak his truth anyway?

      Yet what happens in California pales in comparison to what happens in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Uganda. Or let us say he can confine his remarks to Indiana, Arkansas, Utah, South Carolina, where there isn’t state-sponsored murder of LGBT people, it’s done by private acts instead. Should Dr. Schmoe continue to speak? Do his godly motives outweigh his satanic effect?

      “By their fruits ye shall know them.” I don’t care about Schmoe’s motives, only the results of his actions. They call into serious doubt the truth he tries to speak. I don’t think it’s true at all.

      Should the Danish newspaper have published the anti-Muslim cartoons? People died from that paper’s decision, no matter how much it wrapped itself up in the free speech flag.

      I do grant this: Nothing LGBT people have ever said about those who set themselves up as our enemies has caused nearly as much teeth-gnashing as our accusation that they’re motivated by personal hatred. This drives them crazy. They keep saying, “But we don’t hate you! We’ll kill ya, but we don’t hate you.” As if there is a difference.

      It’s astonishing to watch them try to get out from under the consequences of their actions. I’ve never seen a more irresponsible group of adults in my life. They insist their motives are pure; and you defend them in this.

      The difference our dialogue has made in me is that I can see that your motives are indeed okay – and I have to therefore extrapolate from you to some of them. But I also note that the positions you take – favoring civil marriage, for instance – are not identical to those of leading Christian conservatives. You are not running around saying that human civilization will be destroyed because New York legalized LGBT marriage. You are not saying that the entirety of the Catholic faith depends on giving the bishops their way in everything to do with human sexuality.

      So I grant that some of our opponents’ motives are not personal or motivated by hatred. They’re still responsible for the family-destroying effects of what they say and do, but that’s their problem.

      Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” was directed primarily to the Episcopal Bishop of Alabama. He wanted Dr. King to go slow, ease up, give the racists more time in the name of “peace.” King didn’t do it, and history’s judgment is that he, not the good bishop, was right.

      I’m sure that bishop was a nice man; that’s who Episcopalians elect as bishops, broad-minded, well-educated leaders, who try to bridge social divides. “Pontiff” means bridge. Still, the man was wrong. No one defends his position anymore; the people made their moral judgment.

      They’ve done the same thing with GLBT rights. We are the aggrieved; our opponents are the oppressors, and no amount of good motives changes the essential fact.

      Finally, you have stated carefully and well that, as parents and Christians, “we are not going to encourage what we see as less-than-Godly expressions of sexuality.” Fair enough, I suppose; it’s your house.

      My position is different; I believe that within a committed, loving relationship free of exploitation, homosexual relations can be indeed a Godly expression.

      I believe that God makes LGBT people for good reasons; primarily to act as a brake on wanton, unlimited heterosexual reproduction; to serve as leaven that makes the bread rise, through our creativity and kindness; and, because we’re less likely to reproduce, to be caregivers for those who do.

      I can’t number for you how many Gay men and women are the primary caregivers for elderly parents; it’s a job that seems to fall on two groups in society, middle-aged women, Straight or Gay, and middle-aged Gay men. It’s not the heterosexual men who do it, by and large; it’s “the sensitive one.”

      Beyond that, we somehow perform the same nurturing function for sisters-in-law and women friends; for nieces and nephews; for schoolchildren, neighborhood associations, non-profit groups and even governments. We’re over-represented in those roles. For every Gay guy who’s a hairdresser or a waiter, there’s a Lesbian social worker, a Gay nurse or physician, a “queer” member of city council. Face it, we’re the ones who have the time; we’re the ones who notice the need.

      How heterosexual parents manage all their demands is quite beyond me; I admire but don’t understand them. I do think I get why God gave them Gay people to help.

      If so, there’s no logical reason GLBT sexuality can’t be Godly; we deserve the gift of holy relationship too.

      So the ultimate question is do we focus on seven clobber passages in our Bible, or do we ask what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches? I’m certain of this fact, that God is a Liberator.

      Let all faithful people pray this little passage I found in the Prayer Book and selected as the closing sentences in my little set of Prayers for Alcoholics and Addicts above:

      Prayer of Rejoicing
      (BCP p. 451)

      Now there is rejoicing in heaven; for you were lost, and are found; you were dead, and are now alive in Christ Jesus our Lord. Abide in peace. The Lord has put away all your sins.

      Thanks be to God.++

      Like

  16. William says:

    Josh,
    Your annotation “I do believe that the Centurion loved his païs, and that Jesus called that Roman soldier the most faithful man is Israel.”, seems to have many translations. The Aramaic indicates a father/son relationship and the other 17 translations seem to indicate a superior (officer/centurion/captain)/(servant/soldier) relationship. Of the 18 texts reviewed none indicate a sexual relationship which many, and you also, may be eluding to.
    Being a retired commissioned officer of the US Army, I understand the context of the 17 translations and how officers in charge of troops become greatly committed to the health and welfare of those they lead to the point of even willing to die for them. I have even wept over my soldiers physical and emotional injuries. As a father of 5, yes I am one of those creating Easter Island, I can surely identify with the Aramaic version of this story also, if we choose to use it’s interpretation. Though the case for love can be argued for strongly, via the actions of the military leader, his sexual relationship(s) cannot due to the lack of evidence. pais παῖς servant – as referenced in Matthew 12:18, another non-sexual use of the term by Matthew gives a hint of the Aramaic usage (son). Your evidence must be without question or your mission fails due to lack of credibility.

    Like

    • josh says:

      The obvious thing lacking here is “I, William, believe God created Gay people and loves them just the way they are.” Or even, “I believe God disapproves of homosexual behavior.” We don’t know what you think, do we?

      Instead we get the military argument, “men are so close in battle,” “I have even wept over my soldiers,” etc. Did it or did it not matter to you what their sex lives were like?

      That’s the place to start, not your tortured exigesis and your claims of expertise.

      Josh Thomas
      Not a Scholar, just a Guy Who Prays

      Like

  17. William says:

    What I think or believe is not relevant to your technique of debate. If you can be picked apart on small inconsistancies it effects your cause/mission. Just trying to help you chief. I like good clean debate.
    Now about my beliefs, I believe God created ALL people and really sometimes He hates the way we think and behave. No, he doesn’t like us just the way we are but like a father he loves us in spite of our sins. ALL of us.
    As to my personal interactions with those of differing sexual orientation it is like with any heterosexuals of my acquantance. I judge all by actions and the character of those actions. Yes I have served with gay men in the Army and like with ALL others I only have a problem when something effects the positive mission outcome. In 1987 my gay brother at age 44 died of AIDS contracted due to unprotected sex, regardless of what kind and his sexual orientation the facts are I loved him and he is missed to this day. This and those deeply personal experiences I and others have shared with you are important to your and our development in Faith. Be careful, those who usually discount the experiences of others usually have none of their own. Real life application of Faith, education and love beats talk any day. Just trying to give you a glimpse in to the experience of one soldier/leader. I’ve got the scars and 201 file to back it. God is a living God. Dynamic and not static. Empty your cup every once and awhile and watch your references, dude. You’ll do fine.

    Like

    • josh says:

      William, if I could decipher this I would. I’m not discounting anyone’s experience; you didn’t write of experience until now. As for a “real life application of Faith, education and love” beating talk, I have kept up this task of providing prayers for people twice a day on five different websites for 7 1/2 years, reaching 1.7 million viewers, answering their e-mail, their questions, their comments, their prayer requests and even their emergencies – which seems to me like the real-life application you suggest.

      The essay above is the only place in all these years where a few people feel a need to give me grief. That’s because of the subject matter; a few people like to argue the Bible with me. I don’t have a need to convince anti-Gay people that God loves us; I have a need to convince LGBT people that God loves us, because of the experience at seminary which I related at the top of this screen.

      My only other reply is this: don’t anthropomorphize God by taking this “Father and his children” thing too far. You say God sometimes really hates the way we think and behave. I say God knew we were going to be like this in the moment of creation, and it would be really foolish for God to waste one second of a day in hatred. Sadness – now that’s different; pain, certainly. But a God who hates what we think or do or are isn’t much of a God at all. We’re the ones who spend our time in hatred, not God.

      A wise judge maintains justice with compassion; God can do no less.

      Josh

      Like

  18. anonymous lesbian Episcopalian says:

    So… I’ve just decided that I really like you.
    So there.

    Like

  19. Patience says:

    you are only deciving yourself, trying to justify your sins. Homosexuality existed in the bible even in the land of Sodom and Gomorah (search your scriptures in Genesis) that was the reason why God decided and actually destroyed the land of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people (men of the city) demanded that Lot should bring out the Angels (Men) to have sex with them.

    God cannot change His mind to support sin HE IS A HOLY GOD!!! twist it anyhow you like HIS STANDARDS ARE STILL SURE…HIS EYES ARE TOO HOLY TO BEHOLD INIQUITY…

    be warned… whatsoever a man soweth.. so he shall ripe..

    AN ORDAINED PRIEST OF GOD BE CAREFULL.

    ALL WHO PROFESS CHRIST MUST BE HOLY!!!!

    HOLINESS IS A COMMAND. YOU MUST ATTAIN HOLINESS!!!

    BE WARNED! BE WARNED!! BE WARNED!!!

    THE GOD WHO DISTROYED SODOM AND GOMORRAH IS STILL ALIVE TODAY!!!!!

    Like

  20. Ruth says:

    Oh my the hysteria of the religious right is getting quite predictable and may I say, quite boring. I think the New Testament says it best – Love your neighbor as yourself, do good to those who hurt you. I doubt it will make any difference in the lives of the “wingnuts” but I think it will make me feel better. Jesus is weeping at the ignorance and uselessness of this conflict.

    Like

  21. William says:

    Josh, It appears you spend much time not reading what people write you, but “reading into” what people write you. My first annotation was regarding the translations of your quote and then secondly about my EXPERIENCE regarding that quote as a leader in the military and the emotional attachment and responsibility leaders feel for their troops, sailors, marines and airmen. This was done to give you additional perspective into a possible relationship of the centurion and the servant.
    Though you and I are old toots, we are not old enough to have 1st hand evidence either way regarding the event, so one must rely on the texts, translations of them, other writings and techniques of the authors cited and similar modern day events and the human behavior that may relate. The sexuality of a subordinate or a leader should never over-ride the basic Godly ethics and morals that beckon us to treat each other with concern, compassion and dignity.
    Sex and sexual orientation seems to be the drum beat of a failed “religious” message here. A broader stroke would focus on the fact that while all have sinned, God loves us through the sacrifice of our Savior and through our individual choices and faith in Jesus Christ. All of us.
    Regarding your experiences, I appreciate your sharing those with us and salute your service to your fellow believers in God. I find myself reading it over and would love more details into the the experiences you have had and the blessings to have gained good and bad. Those details could spark others to listen, receive and act. We all have experiences and serve as examples of what to do or not to do. Educate through experience and parables. You must have many great stories to tell.
    I will concede 1 issue to you sir, God’s reaction may very well be more sadness than hatred or we wouldn’t be here to discuss this. I may be misinterpreting a part of your faith but it appears you believe in predestination.

    Like

    • josh says:

      William,

      Do I read or “read into”? Who can say?

      You are determined to believe that homosexual behavior is always sinful, and I am determined, by spiritual experience, to believe otherwise. We have to leave it there, because after awhile I get tired of discussing this, as if my job is to prove a point. It isn’t. My job is to offer public prayers, online, four times a day, for thousands of members, followers and visitors. Yet this one essay, which offers a different perspective on one issue of faith, provokes hundreds of comments from professed Christians. I find that strange. But then Christians are always arguing over trivia, starting with the Great Circumcision Debate.

      You write, “God’s reaction may very well be more sadness than hatred.” Why would God be sad about homosexuality in a thousand different species? Why be sad when the Gay and Lesbian humans are so generally kind, loving, generous, creative and spiritual?

      What makes God sad, I think, is the oppression by one group over another, and the violence that results. That can’t at all be what God intended, though it certainly seems to leave you unmoved. You’re all about parsing Bible verses, rather than caring for your neighbors.

      At any rate I’ve said my piece and the endless discussion of it bores me. Neither of our beliefs is part of the Creed, so they don’t matter much. The violence does, but not the content of our beliefs on this question.

      I’ve never believed in predestination, nor any of the other Calvinist claims, though I concede there is some Scriptural basis for them. To me predestination is an answer without a current question; I don’t feel called to explain how some people come to believe in God and the Trinity, and other people do not. I don’t know how this happens; I’m simply glad I do believe, and am part of a huge congregation of people who agree that God exists and Jesus is his Son. Again, it’s not a Creedal issue, but one very much rooted in its time and place, late medieval/early modern Europe, which was very concerned with whether priests dispense grace through sacraments or God dispenses grace through faith. I’m an Episcopalian; I’m both/and, not either/or. I believe in the Reform and in the Catholic religion together. My church (our church?) is unique in that position, and I’m happy here. I do not believe in the Reform by itself, nor in the Roman version of Catholicism, with its distortions, accretions and monarchic polity.

      If you called me a simple believer, you’d be right. I’m just a layman, and though I’ve studied hard, it takes a lifetime and I’ll never finish my degree. What I don’t know is a great deal more than I do; what I do know is pretty solid. (And yes, that includes God’s attitude about LGBTs.)

      Finally I note with some pleasure and gratitude your comments about my work here and my experiences. I like what I do here for the most part. It’s occasionally tedious and frustrating (especially the technology, and occasionally the humans), but what I’ve gained by simply posting the prayers, coming up with art and trying to speak some truth about it is infinitely rewarding, in the same way, I expect, your life of faith is for you. We “do this” because it helps us become who we are, who we want to be, who we’re supposed to be, in love with the Father, Son and Spirit, and to some extent in love with the rest of humanity and nature. I don’t know, I’ll never know, how this happened, that I should get to participate in this, except by grace, that God loved me first and somehow a lightbulb fired up in me. I’m permanently grateful for the people who taught me to live this life, and to God who taught them.

      So one day when I complained, “Why isn’t this all online?”, God smiled and said, “Good idea. I nominate you.”

      So here I am, encountering William and thousands more of you, and overall I’m glad despite the occasional arguments and criticism. I’m a human being, what else could one expect?

      Josh Thomas

      Like

  22. shirley bouvier says:

    Gays bashing heterosexuals and heterosexuals bashing gays. I don’t go around justifying my sexuality….. why does the gay community continuously defend their sexual orientation.

    Like

    • josh says:

      Where in the above – quote it out, now, Shirley Bouvier, cite the sentence – are “gays bashing heterosexuals”? Do we shoot you in Iran? Do we hang you in Saudi Arabia? Do we imprison you in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria? Do we tie you to a fence and leave you for dead in Wyoming? Do we beat you up at parties? Do we taunt you in the schools? Do we knife you in the streets? Do we fire you from workplaces? Do we campaign for president claiming that if you are allowed human rights, civilization will come to an end?

      We defend our right to exist because of people like you, creating false equivalencies to justify your own mistreatment of people.

      Like

  23. Pingback: Sometimes You Have to Speak Out « Gay Spirit Diary

  24. William says:

    Josh, at no time have I in any of my comments said that homosexual behavior is a sin. Please read all my comments above, annotate where and I will submit a correction. Wait, you tricked me, you were “reading into again”, LOL.
    I am not the One who determines what is and is not a sin. I know the actions God has convicted me of as sin and that is plenty enough for me to deal with. I throw no stones and disapprove of those who do. Again we need bring aid and comfort to those in need as you do, witness while surrendered to God that we become His instrument and observe our behavior and the human behavior of others for lessons learned and make corrections. Oh and laugh a little. The things we humans can get ourselves into make for funny comment.
    Paul in Acts 17:22+ paved a great way for us to work with our fellow humans and their religious beliefs and norms. Listen, find similarities (we are all His humans and we have plenty) and develop a plan to witness that encompasses your audience and their perspectives. Paul was careful and accurate with his references and words. He won souls as a instrument of God and Christ.
    “You’re all about parsing Bible verses, rather than caring for your neighbors.” was an interesting and ignorant comment. Both are interactive. God expects us to be studious bibically and care about one another and the two experiences combine to again make is into his instrument. I say ignorant because you know not what experience have have had regarding caring for others. I shared my military which allowed many opportunities to witness and aid others with physical and emotional strife. I have also worked indepth with high school dropouts in a very effective program that has touch my soul many times and allowed me to share hope. To date God has allowed me to interview and work with 10,000+ young people, 16 – 18, regarding their lives and their futures. Today, I am graced with the hugs of doctors, service people, teachers, psychologists, maids and friends that were these dropouts. God has allowed me to referee a older men’s sunday school class for better than 20 years so I know the true meaning of being humble.
    It would truly be a pleasure if God one day would give us the opportunity to have coffee. We wouldn’t always agree but it would be educational. Bless you, sir. OUT.

    Like

    • josh says:

      How utterly dishonest. You don’t have to type the words “Gay sex is a sin” when everything else you type assumes that, because, you claim, “the One decided it.” Take responsibility for once.

      I’m glad that in your offline life you do good works. HERE, all you do is parse Bible verses. So parse this one, Deut 22:20-21:

      “But if the accusation is true and the young woman was not a virgin, the men of her city must bring the young woman to the door of her father’s house and stone her to death.”

      That one we no longer believe – but you do insist on the passages from the same Torah and same era that you’ve deemed anti-Gay, because they match your prejudice. Don’t blame God for humanity’s murderous intent.

      Like

  25. William says:

    Josh, “assumes” – we both know what that makes you. You are asking others to “open their minds” to the experiences of gay folks so they can understand your struggle while you pelt them for asking you to open yours. Please do not assume for anyone sir. You do not know the hearts and minds of those around you. If you think you can read them you are a bigger fool than the last statements above. People young and old constantly surprise me. I have surprisingly misjudged myself here on your page. I believed based upon your words of concern for those around you, gay, straight, black white, red, and us green and blue that you were a man of reason but I was wrong. As I stated earlier your actions speak volumes.
    You, in this state of mind cannot read and listen. You constantly site statements your visitors did not make which is a indication of a mental disorder or a intentional attempt to deceive. You have the symptoms of one that is trapped and striking out. Yes, striking out from your cage even to the ones that are supporting your cause and throwing you tips to be more effective. A fool does not study the past, learn and apply lessons learned to future thoughts and actions. Scripture is our text book. I have developed a understanding of the Old Testament and sometimes an appreciation of it. “I hear the bleating of rams Saul”. It is full of man’s failures to God and his fellow man and his false clinging to a failed system of laws as a means to governance, deliverance and salvation. I made no references to this “Torah”, which one should read for its futile humor and again learn from. “Those sad humans we are, past separated from present, but not very far”.
    I have referenced only the New Testament if you will note. It provides us a salvation not based upon the feable attempts of man and his laws fostering injustice, but upon a faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. While some are asking others to please put down the stones, you act as one that has been hit with a stone or 2 and is picking them up to cast them back and even more stupidly at allies. Brilliant.
    One last thing to note, my brother again was gay and died a death in the ’80s that was difficult for him and at times demeaning in the way it took his mind and body but at no time did he sound as failed and defeated as do you. Your so call battle does nothing but dishonor people. Pray you find some aid from your torment and you find peace with who we humans are and our failings. We have nothing further to discuss.

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  26. Pingback: The Gay Issue: Pray « and sure stars shining . . .

  27. speakwitness says:

    Hello, I am a former lesbian who prayed. I am now in Christ, no longer haunted by thoughts of self harm constantly. I am member of AMiA. It is fairly arrogant of you to assume that the leaders who chose to conservative interpretation the scriptures, did not pray about it. I am new to this communion and not a Bible scholar. I read the Bible as a common person of no great intellect. I am a woman who led a wicked life that was by grace redeemed. I found it much kinder of Christ to lead me to understand my sin (homosexuality among others) and grant me redemption upon repentance, than to allow me to remain in sin and apart from him. I had heard the voices of those who said being a homosexual was fine with God and it only brought me misery. I was not truly free until I accepted that I was in sin and that I needed to turn from it.

    It is terrible how ex-homosexuals are treated by homosexual supporters. We simply want to live in the freedom The Lord Christ grants us but are humiliated at every turn and with no biblical basis. I hope that is not your intent.

    Perhaps you should consider that you are not the only one who prays. The heard my cry and I am free. I am not wealthy, well born or particularly bright…but he heard my cry.- Angela

    Like

    • josh says:

      So why is it you can pray away the Gay but nobody else can? Why does God grant you this grace but is heedless of everyone who prays just like you did?

      If you think “it’s terrible how ex-homosexuals are treated by homosexuals,” you should see how the Africans in AMiA treat Gay people – and “with no biblical basis.” How exactly are you “humiliated at every turn”? Or do you just like claiming victimhood like the rest of the fundamentalist bullies?

      I have yet to meet a single Straight person victimized because of his or her sexual orientation. They don’t get fired from their jobs, burned out of their homes, murdered for being Straight; none of it happens. Gay people just aren’t mean enough for all that.

      Go “live in your freedom” all you want. Just stop trolling around here, okay? Go “speak your witness” somewhere else.

      Like

  28. Chemitz says:

    Your argument that the Bible says nothing about gay people is incorrect since gay people are sinners and the Bible condemns homosexual behavior. Your argument is anachronistic or commits the chronological snobbery fallacy. Moreover, you argue to pray before seeking what the Bible says. My perceived revelation is greater than the revealed revelation of God? I do not assume the Scriptures are the Word of God only after I conclude that the text that speaks of Christ is historically reliable. I stopped reading your article when you said to pray before reading the Scriptures. I will listen to the Scriptures then pray like Jesus teaches us… Our Father who are in heaven… lead us NOT into temptation…

    Like

    • josh says:

      The Bible can’t possibly say anything about Gay people, Bucko; homosexuality wasn’t even invented until about 1860. Or do you think the Bible also expounds about telephones and the Indy “500”?

      What amazes me about trolls is that they have to click past the most orthodox and beautiful devotions to get to this page and enlighten us all with their opinions.

      They have no comment whatsoever on Morning Prayer, with its psalms, three Bible lessons, canticles and prayers; but to give us their two cents’ worth on whether God loves or hates Gay people, they line up.

      Like

  29. ??? says:

    In response to all the above: Is it no wonder, then, that the suicide rate among us Christian (all denominations) GLBTs continues to increase?

    Like

  30. Jane Smith says:

    Well, Josh, you’ve certainly taken the bull by the horns (in excluding the Titus passage)!

    Perhaps, in fairness to St Paul, it’s good to remember that he wrote what he wrote when he was in prison, chained between two Roman guards, day and night. So what am I saying? Only that he wasn’t in a position to check up for himself on what was really happening at Corinth etc. If some bored and harassed slave told him that the ladies were running riot (I doubt they were), he “over-reacted” in the way he did. It’s also worth remembering that St Paul, bless his sexist socks, was on the defensive: it was his idea, after all, to let the Gentiles into this new set-up, and he’d never been one of the original disciples. I don’t think he wanted to see women beaten and abused by violent husbands anymore than he wanted to see slaves beaten and abused by violent masters.

    But I take my hat off to the fact that you’ve had the courage of your convictions.

    As far as traditionalists are concerned, I could say so much. I’ll limit my remarks here by pointing out, quite accurately I think, that they have so many choices which we horrid liberals don’t have. They can go to Rome, to the Eastern Orthodox and, of course, to any of the numerous biblical Protestant churches. And, with all due respect to David Knudtson and others like him, it is simply not true that there is some timeless tradition that we can all safely call upon. The creeds themselves have a history and you don’t need a PhD in church history to know that the church itself has been awash with quarrels and schisms almost from the word “go”. Even the divinity of Christ is a bone of contention: look up the Assyrian Church of the East and you’ll see what I mean.

    I call myself a “conservative liberal” – and a good example of my conservatism is that I think we should stick with Jesus in calling God “Father”, so don’t join you with “She”. (And me a feminist!)

    What’s happened to the video clips of church services, with the lovely music? Why should the conservatives get all the good tunes?!

    I’ll be visiting more often.

    Jane Smith (Pretoria, South Africa)

    Like

    • josh says:

      Thank you, Jane, we welcome conservative liberals. That’s what I am too, and all my Christian friends.

      My argument is with the lectionary and the Standing Commission. Since we’ve excised “dashing babies against the rock” (Ps. 137:9), can we please let go of Paul’s worst mutterings? If it isn’t Good News, get rid of it.

      Like

  31. ???? says:

    This probably isn’t the right venue for me, but I keep visiting your site and reading through the Daily Office and comments posted here, followed by personal prayer that there is someone out there who might offer words of encouragement to a person who has frequent suicidal thoughts and who has done self harm because of homosexuality. Am I searching in the wrong place? Apologies if I am and I will no longer post comments, but my sincerest thanks for making the Daily Office available.

    Like

    • josh says:

      ????, E-mail the Vicar, like it says at the top of every page. You won’t want your private information visible to others. I’m glad you spoke up. I’m Gay and I’ll do my best to help.

      Josh the Vicar

      Like

  32. KK says:

    I pray for you and all who read this that you will be free. The truth will set you free – the whole proclaimed Word of God

    Blessings in that Name,
    KK

    Like

  33. Rob says:

    (This comment has been removed.)

    Like

  34. Joe Stoddard says:

    What a wonderful commentary! Thank you for standing up for full inclusion for LGBT people!

    Like

    • Josh says:

      Thank you, Joe. Your support inspired me to add the joyful video above. I found it a few days ago and knew I wanted to post it, but it didn’t really belong with the daily prayers; then you came and reminded me I do have a place to put it, exactly the right place.

      Josh

      Like

  35. Eugene A. Koene says:

    I haven’t had time to read all these comments thoroughly, so I post this just in case it hasn’t been mentioned: there is a virtual consensus among biblical scholars (except for the most conservative) that Paul did not write the Letter to Titus (nor I and II Timothy). Of course they are canonical Scripture, but clearly “not all Scripture is created equal.” You did well to delete the Titus passage from this site.

    Like

  36. Richard Powell says:

    Comment removed.

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  37. Eugene A. Koene says:

    “self-serving?”

    Like

  38. Katrina Soto says:

    Hmmm- so if marriage is for male/female sex, but I’m a woman married to a man and we don’t have sex anymore, guess that makes me some kind of an abomination, eh? ;-) Though I’ve been on this site for a long time, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at this page. Very interesting viewpoints. Scary, in some cases, but interesting.

    Like

    • Josh says:

      If a “license to have sex” is all marriage is about, we’re doomed. The State and the Church don’t get to license it (with an exception to prevent abuse), they don’t have the power.

      Marriage is about what happens AFTER the sex. People who treat each other well can make a marriage; those who don’t forget about it as fast as they can.

      As for me, God doesn’t try to regulate the sexual lives of trees or butterflies, so why would he care that much about mine? (Because of how I treat people; that’s what determines the morality of sex.) God isn’t obsessed with it, people are – especially preachers of a certain kind. I guess it’s easier for them to worry about someone else’s sex life than to work on bringing more love and justice to the world.

      Episcopal priests don’t take the easy way out, which is why I love and respect them. They actually do bring more love and justice, which gives them much more satisfying ministries.

      Katrina, I hope you watched the video. Any couple, Gay or Straight, who spend their lives doing something for others are A-OK in my book, and I bet they are in God’s too.

      Like

      • Katrina Soto says:

        I only just now saw your reply. You hit the nail on the head about the meaning of marriage. I wish that your insight was instilled into the heads of those who think otherwise. Such hypocrites. They want government to leave them alone (“too much interference in our lives – we have a right to live as we like – bear arms and such”) and then in the next breath “but the government MUST intervene when my neighbor is not living his life the way I see fit.” As you wisely say, the government should protect us from others, not protect us from ourselves (as some seem to proclaim) The government should not be in the business of saving souls! And let’s for a moment forget that pesky separation of church and state (she says with tongue in cheek) – Let’s just for a moment pretend we are a nation founded on Christianity (which anyone whoever went to 5th grade should know we are not) and we want “traditional marriage.” I think you know where I’m going with this!! You don’t need to do a whole bunch of Bible-readin’ to know there ain’t no such thing. Or, rather, there’s a myriad of traditions, so take your pick. I often say, Bible-thumpers need to be Bible-readers.
        Peace to you, my brother.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Josh says:

          I would like to be part of a discussion in church sometime where we discuss sexual morality – not so much the Gay/Straight thing, which can be a red herring, but actual sexual ethics whoever one’s partner is, whether single, married, divorced or widowed. The Church has some powerfully good things to say about this – real Good News – but it doesn’t simply come down to a ist of do’s and don’ts; those come after one wrestles with the ethics of sex, starting with a radical respect for the other person’s physical and emotional integrity, their dignity as a person and their right to control their own bodies.

          Sex is easy to misuse; that’s why it’s a proper topic for the Church to discuss. Most sex, married or not, involves using another person for our own ends. That’s not right or just or loving or ethical. But we can learn to make real love in the context of a relationship, where “my” desire is for “your” pleasure; that’s when sex starts to be holy. We have to learn how to do this; it doesn’t come natural to us. The Church should teach us how (though it never does).

          Selfish sex is generally immoral, whether you’ve got a piece of paper or not. Lovemaking that is caring and mutual and deeply affectionate is generally moral – though it raises questions of commitment and marriage, because the best sex takes place where two people decide to be together no matter what (“for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health”). Monogamy provides some real emotional safety, where “I” can be myself with “you” exactly as I am, and show you that I love and accept you exactly as you are. That’s why the Church likes monogamy – not just so a man can guarantee he’s the biological father of a woman’s child, or to make sure he supports the child he’s begotten.

          Any priest who actually taught these ideas would have standing room only.

          Finally, on same-sex marriage: one thing that’s so inspiring these days is how many couples have been together for years, through thick and thin and discrimination and social disapproval, and stayed together and loved their kids and made a home and done their jobs and now, years later, are eager for a public commitment to go with their private one. The legal and financial benefits are icing on the cake to them. They don’t care whether they get 100% public approval, but they do want their rights to enter into a permanent commitment like anyone else.

          I downloaded a photograph which encapsulates the latter to me, and this discussion inspires me to go ahead and publish it on our site. (Everyone knows I’m pro-Gay but I do hesitate to be too “out-there,” especially after doing LGBT Pride Month up big.) Two guys, together 20 years, got married in church a couple of weeks ago. They’re kneeling at the altar, asking for and receiving the blessing of God for themselves and their kids. It’s as beautiful a photo as I have ever seen; marriage “done right” according to me. So I will put it up and take the consequences if there are any.

          When I was a kid I was an acolyte at scores of weddings. That was a formative experience for me. A few years ago I finally wrote a novel about what marriage can and should be. I can see my two characters in the photo I’ve described – if they’d had to wait 20 years for Church and state to approve. But they don’t wait – they commit to each other in private before they ever get naked. And because they’re young they don’t have to wait as long as the couple in the picture. I wrote about their private ceremony and subsequent life, but not about the big church wedding still to come.

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  39. Leo Finzi says:

    I ask you to please eliminate the comments that degrade or deride another person based on their sexual identity. Please do this immediately. Would you include comments that included the word N****r in your posts here? The attitudes that characterize LGBT people in a negative light are doing to them what racists mean to do to people of recent African origin when using the N-word. Neither group deserve your website as a podium from which to speak hurtfully.

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