If you are interested in reading what others have written to me, together with my replies, these are shown below.
Please feel free to write to me yourself with your comments or questions.
I appreciate your website and all that you are trying to accomplish. I think it will be very effective in convincing others that being homosexual is okay as you did a good job discussing the scriptures of Paul.
I feel sorry for my friends who struggle with this very issue, so I can't claim to know what they go through, but here are some facts about your teaching that differ from Christianity. You are basically saying that Paul didn't know that homosexuality was natural and if he were around today and could see the loving nature of the homosexual he's see things differently. That's like saying "the bible is irrelevant today". The "true Christian" believes that the writings of Paul or anyone else in the Bible were the inspired word of God. So the words are truly relevant today, they have true meaning and purpose then, today, and in the future. As a Christian we are to believe what Paul said AS relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. The interesting thing is what Paul saw in his day is exactly what we see in our day. As the days get "darker" and more fall from the ways of God, homosexuality among other perverted ways of our nature are revealed. Look at the fall of the Roman Empire for a little history lesson there. Yikes!
The other comment about homosexuality being in nature is probably the most irrelevant argument I have ever heard. Because it's in nature it's okay? Why don't we condone wives killing their husbands like the Praying Mantis or Black Widow kill their mate? When our kids don't leave home why don't we condone eating them to get rid of them like many fish, bears, beetles, etc (http://www.livescience.com/2264-parents-eat-young-big.html). So because these things exist in nature they should be okay for humans, huh? This comment shows a misunderstanding of the Bible and God himself who put us OVER the animals--not with them, not like them. Or are you saying that homosexuals are like animals??? I would not suggest going there I have good friends who are homosexual so your reference to them as animals was...well...offensive. I would only make a suggestion to remove that from your website.
I will compliment you. This website WILL be effective and probably is effective already. I truly think most Christians would not be able to argue these points either as most Christians do not know the Bible let alone those who are not Christian and are just looking to your website to justify their actions. So I can objectively applaud you for your work. I don't agree with it, but I see your heart in the writings. At least I don't believe you mean to cause harm."
I open up the floor for debate if you think you could help me learn something or possibly you would? My feelings today are that what you say is not Christian or of the Bible but a flawed interpretation of Christianity and the Bible's teachings. Homosexuality is clearly a sin and I can show this in at least a dozen scriptures (not just one, my friend). But as long as you write off the Bible as irrelevant we will agree to disagree. But there is NO REAL CHRISTIAN that believes the Bible is irrelevant or that there is ANYTHING in it that is lacking in any way.
On the other hand, are we not all sinners? My sins of lust, envy, and greed are no less compared to the sins of homosexuality. My belief from the teachings of Jesus is that we are to repent of our sins (which by the way I find myself doing several times a day uggghhh!). We are to be truly repentant. Your website does not provide for this path, but instead assists homosexuals in justifying their ways.
So here's the only reason I emailed you. If you are truly a brother in Christ with me, we should discuss this further. I would not wish you to inadvertently lead others down the wrong path. But if you are creating a feel good website loosely based on Christianity and to you it's not a big deal if you lead others astray from God, repenting, etc then kudos to you. It's a great website in that light. It's just not filled with truth. But neither is a McDonald's advertisement or presidential debate! Oh well.
I would love to hear your take on what I wrote! And know that I am not judging you or my homosexual friends...that is not even of topic here...we are all sinners to God, we ALL fall short, my new friend.
(PS...I noticed that you put many letters into your forum. I would bet that you don't post mine)
Thank you so much for taking the time to write in to me. I appreciate the spirit in which you wrote, especially as you disagree so strongly with the pages on my web site which cover homosexuality and the Christian's approach to understanding it. I really welcome the opportunity to discuss this vital subject with fellow Christians and would be delighted to respond to the points you raised.
I think the trunk of the tree for both of us is "What does God want us to believe about homosexuality?" If He has inspired the Bible to condemn homosexuality, then the argument is over. It would be a sin to be repented of. Now I think that you believe that He clearly has done that, while I believe that He hasn't. If you don't mind, I would like to try and explain to you why I have changed from thinking your way to seeing things quite differently.
Can I start out by saying that I believe that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness," (II Timothy 3:16). That may seem to you to have quite a straightforward interpretation, clearly showing that all Scriptures are there for us to obey and conform to.
However, I would like to show you that I suspect that you and the vast majority of Christians don't actually believe that to be true in every case. So if I can demonstrate to you that there is a scriptural verse that we don't believe now and yet God inspired every "jot and tittle" then we need to understand what it means that all Scripture is God-breathed. Actually, I find that exciting because it makes the Bible totally relevant to the 21st Century but I understand that seeing it differently can be disturbing, initially.
So, if you don't want to read on, just drop me a line and say "No thanks, I'm happy with my current understanding," and I won't feel offended.
However, if you are prepared to read on, perhaps we can look at Acts 15. (Which I address in the web site.)
This is the Bible chapter about the Council at Jerusalem which was initiated by Christian teachers from Judea telling the Gentiles that they needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. I hope that you will agree the following:
So, after all the discussion, what judgement did James, the leader of the Jerusalem congregation, give?
"It is my judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood" (Acts 15:19-20)
Now, I expect you can see where I'm going with this. Do you follow this teaching from God's leading apostle to the church worldwide today in its entirety? Of course, we must abstain from sexual immorality but what about the words in red?"
How can you justify not obeying all of this Scripture? (If indeed you do, and I don't doubt that there might be some Christians who believe this is still to be obeyed in its entirety.) You may justify it by saying that Jesus' words and Paul's writing show that the kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink. But doesn't that cause you some concern about the presence of contradictions in Scripture?
This wasn't James just saying "Well my opinion is so and so...", this was his ruling after hearing all the arguments for and against and it was authoritative for the church and was accepted as such by those present."
This doesn't cause me a problem because I believe that God has inspired the Scriptures to lead us to Christ. They show a progression - a development of people's understanding of God from the time of Adam until the early days of the church. There was never a time when God's people had complete and accurate understanding of all the truth, (even in the time of the first Christians they thought that you had to be a Jew or a Jewish convert to be saved) but that isn't what the Scriptures are given to us for. When people try to make everything in every Bible verse doctrinally compatible they end up with some pretty convoluted arguments to twist natural meanings around.
What about the Ten Commandments? Most Christians believe we are to obey the Ten Commandments but the vast majority don't obey the 4th. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" is quite specific. It doesn't say, choose one day of the week to keep holy. God sanctified the Sabbath at creation. The Jews observe it still (and have, in fact, preserved it throughout history) and some few Christians keep it but most keep Sunday instead of the true Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset). Nowhere in Scripture is Sunday presented as the Sabbath.
The point I am making here is that you can't change a Commandment of God if "every jot and tittle" is inspired for us to obey literally. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "You can keep Sunday or Friday or even Tuesday if you prefer".
I used to be a minister in a church that kept the weekly Sabbath, as well as the commanded Holy Days of the Old Testament like the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles because we sincerely believed that all Scripture was for us to obey to the letter. When I researched how the early church (which was primarily Jewish at the start) changed observance from Saturday to Sunday for the Gentile believers, I began to understand how they were free to do that because their understanding of their obedience to God and His Word was different from most Christians today. They certainly believed that God inspired the Scriptures and (of course) the only ones around at the time that Timothy wrote his two letters were what we now call the Old Testament."
Their understanding of the Scriptures was that they point us to Jesus. They understood that Jesus is the full revelation of God and His love for us and that we are to fulfil the spirit and intent of every Old Testament law but that sometimes this means changing the letter of the law. (I.e. the teaching about clean and unclean foods for us isn't about not eating pork or crayfish but rather not letting "unclean" thoughts into our hearts, because that's what makes a person unclean. (It was literally about what they ate for the Jews, of course). Do you see, I'm not throwing out the teaching in Leviticus 11, I'm saying that it's a part of God's Word for us today, but not as literally referring to clean and unclean meat but rather to our mental and spiritual diet.
Before you might begin to think I'm going to try and spiritualise everything in the Bible away, I want to try and show you that that isn't what I am trying to say at all. (I believe keeping the spirit of the law is even more demanding than keeping the letter.) But, if you are honest, you surely can admit that there are teachings both in the Old and New Testament that we don't believe. For example:
The Israelites were commanded to kill men, women and children. The Bible actually records this as being something that God instructed them to do through the prophet.
"Samuel said the Saul, 'I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants..."(1 Samuel 15:1-3)
Today we see ethnic cleansing and genocide going on and rightly condemn it. But the Old Testament writers believed that God commanded it. That was their understanding at the time, of course, but do you, John, really believe Jesus instigated ethnic cleansing and genocide?
Both the Old and New Testaments legitimise slavery.
Both the Old and New Testaments frustrate equality for women. "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent", wrote Paul (1 Timothy 2:12). Unfortunately many Christians still believe this, so perhaps that's not the best example for me to use to help you see that we don't accept every teaching as something we have to accept today.
I don't want to belabour the point. I could give you so many examples from both the Old and New Testament. Blind adherence to verses in Scripture that were recorded for us so that we could understand God's dealing with His people from darkness and ignorance through to enlightenment, have led to tragic acts of inhumanity and unnecessary suffering throughout history. (The Inquisition, ethnic cleansing, subjugation of women, "holy wars", prohibition of the use of condoms leading to tragic deaths as a result of aids infection, refusal to accept medical aid, as well as the abuse of LGBT people.)
The people who wrote the books of the Bible were children of their age and culture. They had no concept of two gay men who loved each other and formed a monogamous and faithful, loving relationship. Homosexuality was seen as a perversion of someone's natural instinct (which of course was how God made everyone, they assumed) or a way of humiliating and dominating those who you defeated in battle. Yes, the writers of the Bible didn't understand that God makes some people gay, but that was just one of many things they didn't understand."
I honestly believe that is the main reason why Christians can't accept that some people are by nature homosexual. They believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality, so how could it be natural? That would be cruel of God, to make people a certain way and then condemn them for it."
The trouble for you though, is that mainstream medical opinion is firmly on the side of it not being a choice for the majority of gay and lesbian people."
But I'm drifting away from answering the points you made in your e-mail."
Yes, I do believe that the Apostle Paul didn't understand that some people are by nature gay. The point I made about homosexuality occurring naturally in the animal world is simply to show that gay people aren't acting contrary to nature. By nature they are not attracted to the opposite sex but rather to their own. This was not meant to suggest that anything and everything that occurs in the animal kingdom is okay for us to follow or that gays are animals - as I am sure you actually realise.
I would be very happy to record our correspondence on the forum page of the web site as long as you give your permission. I don't do that unless someone specifically agrees and would only include as much of your name as you are happy with."
I do applaud you for challenging me on this important subject. If you, as a sincere Christian, believe that a practicing homosexual cannot inherit the kingdom of God, then it would only be loving to speak up when you find someone encouraging them in their perceived error. May God bless you for that!
Thank you sincerely for this opportunity to discuss this vital issue."
I am really sorry for the delays. I have had some" (family difficulties)" that have led me away from living a normal life the last couple of months. I can't say all is good now in the natural, but I can say God will make it right. Maybe he has already."
I wanted to address your email, but I think in the end we will just leave it at "we agree to disagree" and here's why. You believe the scriptures are God breathed on the one hand and on the other you see them as irrelevant. And yet on the other hand you have created your own revelation (sounds like Mormonism if you study that out...man having "fresh revelation" on something that doesn't need it!). I also believe you have opened a dangerous spiritual door in saying that because Paul didn't have an understanding of the nature of gay that this has some way of giving you a blank check to act as you wish. Paul may not have known, Bruce. But God knows all. He makes NO mistakes!"
I don't have to read too far into your email to get that you have missed the point of the Bible completely and everything Jesus came to earth for! You mentioned, "...clearly showing that all Scriptures are there for us to obey and conform to." speaks volumes about your faith and knowledge of who our God is. To even reference the Bible as a literature that we "conform to" shows me you've only touched the surface. Later you say, "How can you justify not obeying all of this Scripture?" like that is something we are supposed to do???"
No offense, Bruce, you are missing the entire point of Jesus coming to earth, my friend."
In other words, the ENTIRE premise of your email is Biblically flawed. Your big argument is this:
That doesn't work. Look, I am a sinner such as yourself and every now and then God does a work in me and I repent of my evil ways. I will be the first guy to help you try to find a way that I can sin repeatedly and feel good about it. I am human and being human we are depraved to begin with so you can see that coming a mile away."
The sins I struggle with are no less than yours. I am no better than you and I can't even imagine condemning you or anyone ever. I am the worst daily. But let me share with you how I work on myself and my heart. I turn it over to God. There are some sins in my life that I repeat daily, Bruce! And daily I give them to God because I am not big enough to defeat them. I believe we are all born with something that makes Christianity hard. That is what Paul's thorn was I totally believe!"
But as a Christian I cannot just change the Bible to suit my lifestyle. If that were the case I would be like David or Solomon and have lots of wives or something, right? ha ha ha!!!"
People that spout Bible verses as a "to do" list of how to be a Christian have totally lost sight of what being a Christian is. We can't do that, although MOST self-professed Christians do! I believe what Jesus said that "On judgment day" many will say" to me, 'Lord!" Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name." and what did the Lord say? That's scary!"
What is the purpose of the Bible? Don't miss it. It's a love letter to you, Bruce. It's not a "do this or do that" book. When you read the entire Bible and understand the love of God you will understand why God loves you to death (literally) and also built you in a way that you need to repent of daily."
What did I say? Blaspheme! Did God screw up how he built you??? No. He built you perfect, gay and all. What you don't want to hear is that God built you flawed or that your lifestyle is flawed and for that all I can do is pray that someday you see the truth. I am afraid for you because you are taking others with you. You are a leader. There is a more severe punishment for those who take others down that path and yes that is biblical as well, my friend."
I don't need to look past Genesis to know that being homosexual is not the way God intended me. It is not natural for humans to be this way. And you can say all you want about this animal or that animal being gay, but they don't have a Lord to answer to so I don't really care if my boy dog has sex with the neighbor's boy dog, you know? We have a higher calling above the animals, Bruce. And like I said to use an animal as an example is ludicrous. It's simple."
God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. God said "be fruitful and multiply." How can you misinterpret that one, Bruce??? How do you and your friends procreate? And you think that is nature as God intended, huh???"
God's original design was" perfect" and he didn't need a revelation from you to make things better nor does the Bible need fresh revelation from Joseph Smith! I love Romney, but I am sorry he's part of a cult! Why? Because he doesn't believe in the Bible. You have created your own club like Mormonism in that you have figured out something about the Bible that NO real Christian would agree on. You need some revelation outside of the Bible much like Mormonism. It's wrong."
Now if you created your own religion I have nothing to say to you. Go with it until God convicts you, right? But I will tell you that when you stand before God you will wish that you created your own religion than defile a perfect one that needs no extra-interpretation from some guy who wants to feel good about what he does at night or whatever."
You say, "How can you justify not obeying all this scripture?" This is spoken from someone who understands very little of what he is reading. If you were a true disciple of Christ and into his word daily and studying his word out, for one, we wouldn't be debating such a simple topic of obvious sin, but for two you would know that you are NOT to obey all scripture. Again you repeat this over and over through your whole message. Bible 101 will teach you to read the Bible IN CONTEXT. That's the first thing they teach you in Bible school when you crack open your new Bible you never read. The 2nd thing they teach you is why the Bible was written. And if you believe it's just a whip cracking into the air I don't blame you for bending the truth."
Bruce, we are wicked at our core. That is in the Bible too. We are human. We are evil. The very good inside of us is God not us! The Bible is a love letter to YOU! If one of your struggles is homosexuality then ask God for clarity on this as to what the truth is. Do not create your own doctrine. Go to God in humility and ask him to reveal the truth to you. He'll do it over time. But at some point you are accountable for your sins, and I am sorry but everything in the Bible points to this being a sin.
You are right, though. Some Christians can't believe you are homosexual by nature and this is a huge argument. The truth is you ARE most likely homosexual by nature! It is your thorn just like Paul had his and I definitely have mine. It's what keeps us humble. My pastor friend struggled with homosexuality and freedom only came by recognizing it was a sin, repenting, BUT (that's a large BUT) turning it over to God! In his "man" he didn't TRY to make things differently, for by his nature he was homosexual! He had no choice! One day God did a supernatural work in his life and his life radically changed and he was free of this and many other things that he felt was his "nature"."
God gave everyone a flaw like Paul's thorn, something that would drive them to their knees for God. I believe that's why God allowed Adam to fall, it was all in the plan.
So yes, you should feel relieved that I believe you. I am a Christian and I believe it is in your nature to be homosexual. Hallelujah a Christian who agrees with you!!! But your very nature is flawed, Bruce. Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"
In other words I am saying we are born full of sin--anger, envy, greed, pride, homosexuality, drunkeness or whatever you want to say is your struggle, your thorn."
This is biblical!"
Bruce, the Bible is relevant and the scriptures are alive but you have to know HOW to read the Bible, but you'll never do that without knowing the very purpose of it. Don't miss that point, brother. I am sure I come off attacking in this email and I apologize if that is the tone. It probably feels like a personal attack no matter how carefully I write this. It's like someone coming to me and saying, "By the truth of the Bible you are sinning because your name is John." That would hurt me no matter how delicate you put it."
So let's part on this right here. If you have any valid arguments to my original email please do share them. I haven't seen one yet, but I am curious what else you have left in your pen and quill. If you don't have any other arguments than what you have made previously, and I totally see those as invalid, then let's just part ways as two guys who agree to disagree. It's not my job to get you to see the light. I must allow God to do that and if nothing I said resonates as truth with you then just turn me away as a liar and don't reply."
Can I say one other thing. My friend S is like a brother to me. One of my best buddies N I would trust with my life. R is an absolute sweetheart and one of the most reliable and trustworthy people I know. EW...I still mourn his death. These are just a few of my dear friends who I love and I think love me as well. I don't judge them for having the thorn of homosexuality just as they don't judge me for the 457 thorns I carry in my side! But I fear God more than I fear man, Bruce. So if any of my good friends started speaking as you did in your letter I would rebuke them as I did in mine above. So please don't think I singled you out and I hate gays. I think those people that walk around bashing gays and going as far as saying God hates them are not true Christians. The irony is that someone like you will go to heaven and the Christian bashing you will possibly end up in hell. Now that is biblical! And God's justice! I felt like I had to add that as I am in a sense using the Bible to attack your very lifestyle. I am so sorry."
Thanks for at least reading my email. :)
Thank you for your e-mail. I was pleased to hear from you again but sorry to hear of your family troubles. I pray that the Lord will give you all the strength you need at this time.
I have been undecided about how to reply to you, or in fact, whether it would be better to just agree to disagree and part as friends. My web site is written to help those Christians and non-Christians who want to understand more of the wonderful love of God and his all-surpassing plan of salvation for us all. It's not just erroneous teachings about homosexuality but a number of other false ideas that are believed by Christians today which can hurt them and can lead them to hurt others.
I'm not out to change your mind if you are happy with your beliefs. You come across as a very caring person with friends who are both gay and straight and you have taken quite a bit of trouble at a difficult personal time to point out to me the error of my ways. May God bless you for that! But I honestly don't see either of us saying, "I was wrong - I will begin to believe as you do", in the near future.
On the other hand, despite saying maybe we should call it a day, you then went on to raise new issues and ask me if I had any more answers. I have prayerfully considered how to respond to that and it has occurred to me that as a very thoughtful Christian, there may come a day when you begin to question some of the things you have been taught and have so innocently accepted.
For some people, as they grow in their understanding and begin to question what they once relied upon as foundational, it becomes quite traumatic for them and they start to question their very faith. Now, I don't believe that's always a bad thing, but if, in the future sometime, you begin to question some of the things you have written about so confidently then I hope you will remember what "that old guy from England" wrote to you back in 2012 and it may encourage you to know that God's word is true and all his promises are sure but we haven't always understood the spirit of the law while being so zealous about the letter.
I know it's difficult to understand what someone says to you when they are looking at a situation from a different viewpoint. I certainly don't understand some of the things you wrote about the Bible. They seemed mutually contradictory to me and I don't believe you understood that I gave you some good solid biblical answers (from my viewpoint, of course) to your original questions."
We could frustrate each other going on about our own ideas and I want to avoid that. So I thought I might just try to set out an overall picture for you, perhaps to show you that it's possible to love the Lord with all your heart and soul, to be trying to live for him each day, (yes and failing daily, of course) and at the same time to accept gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as being as genuinely pleasing to him as we are.
You write that the Bible is a love letter to me. Well, I believe that the heart of the gospel is about God's love for us (hence my web site's name - "love-amazing"), but the Bible isn't just a sweet love letter, and that presents a bit of a problem for you John and from what you wrote, I'm unclear about how you will try to resolve it. You may have heard or read about the controversy there was in the UK just recently because the Church of England failed to accept women as bishops. Why was this? Not because it's not patently obvious that a woman (who is made in the image of God as much as a man) can be an excellent and effective bishop. Not because God isn't calling and equipping women to that ministry either. No, the problem is that many cannot square women becoming bishops with certain Scriptures. Such verses as, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent" (1 Timothy 2:12) cause sincere Christians to believe that God doesn't want women to be bishops.
You wrote on one hand "You are NOT to obey all scripture" in your e-mail to me and "the Bible is a love letter to you!" But on the other hand you wrote such things as "I don't need to look past Genesis to know that being homosexual is not the way God intended me", and "...everything in the Bible points to this being a sin." So, what are you saying? This "love letter", does it have authority in your life or not? Jesus said, "...Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."(Matthew 4:4). He also said, "... and the Scripture cannot be broken." (John 10:35) referring to the Old Testament. Now that's a bit more than a love letter, isn't it? It's an authoritative document for those who want to obey God.
That's why it's such a stumbling block to Christians who try to understand God's will for them when they are told, "God doesn't make mistakes, every doctrine in it is correct." The trouble with that teaching is that the Bible presents to us the history of God's dealing with his people and how their understanding of his will has grown. The doctrines in it aren't consistent! I know that's hard to understand when you have been taught a simplistic view of the Bible, but honestly, it's not meant to be consistent or God would have made a better job of doing it. I agree with what you wrote that it's meant to be read in context.
John wrote his gospel, "...that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name, (John 20:31). But the Old Testament wasn't written for that reason was it? Yet it's just as much the inspired word of God, isn't it? The early church understood the Scriptures (and all they had then was the Old Testament) as pointing to Jesus and all their interpretations of them were Christocentric. For example, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:4, referring to the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt,".......They drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ."
In the Bible we see a progression of God's people's understanding of his will for them, culminating in the revelation of Jesus. For example, at the time of the exodus, Exodus 34:7 records the Lord himself saying that he "does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." Yet at a later date Ezekiel chapter 18 records how God changes this doctrine to "The soul who sins is the one who will die," (verse 20).
Honestly John, it's not choosing to believe what we feel comfortable with, so that we can carry on in our sins. It's using our God given minds to prayerfully understand God's will for us today."
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think what you believe is that God made us all evil - all with "thorns in the flesh" of one kind or another and that some people's tendency towards homosexuality is one of these thorns which they are to resist with help from God so they can live a holy life in accord with Scripture. Well, I think that Paul's thorn in the flesh was something that was given to him to keep him humble because of all the revelations he had been given and that isn't something many of us have to contend with, but I accept your point that we all are subject to temptations of the flesh and the spirit."
However, I don't believe that one's natural sexual orientation, something which one doesn't choose and can't change despite man's well-meaning but misguided efforts, comes into that category and I would like to explain why. (Could I just say that I understand that there are situations where heterosexual men engage in homosexual activity (such as in prisons) and that this resonates with what Paul wrote in Romans 1 and it is a sin to be repented of?)
But this isn't the case with the majority of gay people. The majority didn't choose it -who would? For whatever biological / environmental reasons they are born gay or lesbian and all the repenting in the world isn't going to change them. Unless a person has been confused by fundamentalist religious teachings, this is pretty much understood today in the western world. The evidence of the broken lives of those who have suffered at the hands of the ex gay ministries (well-meaning as it is) is apparent to most except those who hang on to their interpretations of Scripture which blind them to the truth.
Can we really change gay people into being straight? Organizations that claim to help homosexuals change their sexuality can be generally divided between those that use psychological 'reparative' methods and those that use religious 'healing' methods."
Some people believe homosexuality is an illness and that it can and should be cured. Many of these 'cures' revolve around psychological therapies (often called reparative therapy) which try to re-orient a homosexual sexuality to heterosexual. The little scientific data there is available seems to indicate that reparative therapy is ineffective. The American Psychological Association (APA), the world's largest association of psychologists has stated that: "Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation."
Are you aware of just how ineffective Christian ministries are in trying to make gays straight? Like with reparative therapy there has been little to no scientific evaluation of the healing and prayer techniques used to attempt to change people. What evidence is available suggests that the success of these techniques is restricted to three areas:
You don't think of yourself as homophobic, of course, because you have gay friends who you accept (albeit as flawed, but then, aren't we all?). But what about gay Christians who don't believe (like you do) that they are doing any wrong by living in a gay relationship? Do you accept them fully as brothers and sisters in Christ? If not, then your views are homophobic."
You wrote the following to me, John,"
"...The ENTIRE premise of your email is Biblically flawed. Your big argument is this:
Now, I must be honest and say I was saddened when I read that. I love the Scriptures and try to live my life in obedience to the true spirit of every word of God. I have shown you how God has inspired the Scriptures to show us how men's understanding of God has grown from law to grace and how this was still not complete in the time of the apostles. From laws about food and clothing, ceremonial uncleanness, the observance of days and the 10 commandments, which were required under the Old Covenant, God shows how he has revealed a New Covenant, written in men's hearts.
Even the early Christians didn't understand it all.
For example, I have quoted the apostles' teaching in Acts 15 that they should teach the Gentiles to abstain from "food polluted by idols" and "from the meat of strangled animals and from blood". Yet later the Apostle Paul writes to contradict this and Jesus, himself, had already said that it's not what goes into a person's mouth that makes them "unclean" but rather what comes out, i.e. the unloving thoughts of their hearts. Jesus taught that love is the fulfilling of all law and that is the full revelation of God's law."
Yet you don't answer any of the facts that I have presented to you. You just conclude sadly that I must be gay to believe as I do in order to justify my evil lifestyle. Nevertheless you have been caring enough to write to me at length with your views, for which I do thank you. I pray that the Lord will bless you and give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that your knowledge of him will be deeper and cause you to bear spiritual fruit for him in your life.
Thank you for your response. I thought it was really good and well put together."
Can I begin with saying something if I have not said it before? I look at you as a brother no different than my own brother A who I am going to visit today, a devout Christian with his own set of challenges. A and I will sit around a table for hours on end sharpening each other. We know better than to rebuke each other, per se, but sometimes the truth (granted you see at as my truth and I respect that) comes across that way, painful at times. I just want it to be clear that I don't think there is anything wrong with you more so than me. We are both flawed humans. Period. You and I could just as easily turn the debate to my friend who claims that because Jesus made wine it is okay to drink himself into a stupor. I don't believe that. But he has enough "evidence" to rationalize his position in his own mind. In the end, I believe we will stand before God and he will say, "Good and faithful servant, Bruce (or John or Bill or Mike etc.), you really blew it most of the time...but get in here, you (as He rubs the top of our heads)!"
I don't think I did enough of a job stating my beliefs in my first response and your response reflects this as well (I am sure you are thinking the same thing as I am). I think what happens with me is I write freely without edit and in my mind I feel like I made sense, but upon further reading what I wanted to say was there, just not completely. So this partial meaning leads for more interpretation which is not what I had intended. So I thought I would start fresh and make my points more succinct...in other words I'll be less wordy, Bruce! ha ha ha!!! Not really. I swear, I have a simple thought and it ends up in 22 pages when I could just state the simple thought and that alone is good enough. So I will attempt to do this now. I hope. Okay not."
To backtrack a bit, I want to address why we are talking at all. I think we both knew we weren't going to convince the other. I believe that wholeheartedly. I believe that only God could give us revelation into what is truth or not, and we each feel that God has done that to each of us respectively. So I could only ask you, God, to make your presence known here to Bruce and me, step up even more in both of our lives to speak the truth to our hearts."
So why should I even reply to your email a friend might ask me. Let me share with you who I am by telling you why, as I think it is important:
Wow. I am long winded. Go get your reading glasses now ha ha ha!!!"
I'll respond to what you wrote in detail because I felt by your response you think I didn't give an adequate response and to that I am sorry. I'll stay on task by using your email as a template. If I miss anything would you just let me know. I am a guy so I only use half my brain (so says my wife ha!). Seriously, if you think I missed ANYTHING please respond back with that. I think I have overcome every one of your objections and did it using the Bible. I am curious at how you will respond:
My web site is written to help those Christians and non-Christians who want to understand more of the wonderful love of God and his all-surpassing plan of salvation for us all.
I hope you will remember what "that old guy from England" wrote to you back in 2012 and it may encourage you to know that God's word is true and all his promises are sure but we haven't always understood the spirit of the law while being so zealous about the letter.
...it's possible to love the Lord with all your heart and soul, to be trying to live for him each day, (yes and failing daily, of course) and at the same time to accept gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as being as genuinely pleasing to him as we are.
...but the Bible isn't just a sweet love letter, and that presents a bit of a problem for you John and from what you wrote
...Such verses as, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent" (1 Timothy 2:12) cause sincere Christians to believe that God doesn't want women to be bishops.
You wrote on one hand "You are NOT to obey all scripture" in your e-mail to me and "the Bible is a love letter to you!" But on the other hand you wrote such things as "I don't need to look past Genesis to know that being homosexual is not the way God intended me", and "...everything in the Bible points to this being a sin." So, what are you saying? This "love letter", does it have authority in your life or not? Jesus said, "...Man does not live on bread alone, but one every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4). He also said, "... and the Scripture cannot be broken." (John 10:35) referring to the Old Testament. Now that's a bit more than a love letter, isn't it? It's an authoritative document for those who want to obey God.
The doctrines in it aren't consistent! I know that's hard to understand when you have been taught a simplistic view of the Bible, but honestly, it's not meant to be consistent or God would have made a better job of doing it.
Honestly John, it's not choosing to believe what we feel comfortable with, so that we can carry on in our sins. It's using our God given minds to prayerfully understand God's will for us today.
Well, I think that Paul's thorn in the flesh was something that was given to him to keep him humble because of all the revelations he had been given and that isn't something many of us have to contend with, but I accept your point that we all are subject to temptations of the flesh and the spirit.
...but this isn't the case with the majority of gay people. The majority didn't choose it - who would? For whatever biological / environmental reasons they are born gay or lesbian and all the repenting in the world isn't going to change them.
Can we really change gay people into being straight? Organizations that claim to help homosexuals change their sexuality can be generally divided between those that use psychological 'reparative' methods and those that use religious 'healing' methods.
You don't think of yourself as homophobic, of course, because you have gay friends who you accept (albeit as flawed, but then, aren't we all?). But what about gay Christians who don't believe (like you do) that they are doing any wrong by living in a gay relationship? Do you accept them fully as brothers and sisters in Christ? If not, then your views are homophobic.
Do you want to know the truth? Would you receive it knowing the consequences??? Some thoughts that I'd be curious how you approach with your Christianity:
Homosexuality is under the moral law category. The moral aspects of the Law are still in effect, but not the civil or ceremonial. Again, there were things addressed to Israel only where God said "speak to the sons of Israel saying..." These things included atonement for unintentional sins, eating habits, uncleanness, feast days, rest days, etc., which do not apply for us today.
Here's my final opinion and summed up so well by www.GotQuestions.org:
His love is amazing that two guys with different viewpoints can debate thousands of miles away civilly!
Thank you so much for your latest e-mail. You come across as such a caring, loving brother in Christ, it is a privilege to be writing to you. Thank you for the time you took to research and write it.
As I said, "My web site is written to help those Christians and non-Christians who want to understand more of the wonderful love of God and his all-surpassing plan of salvation for us all". I don't see what I have been writing as being effective in doing that for you, unfortunately. I wish I were more able to express things in a way that would help you to see what I believe are the inconsistencies of your thought processes. I fear that we are beginning to repeat ourselves, both feeling that the other person doesn't understand what is patently obvious to the other.
You are starting from the foundational assumption that the Bible is the inspired word of God that has no contradictions in it, no mistakes and each teaching in it is as relevant today as it was when it was written. I used to be there too. "God said it, I believe it and that settles it" was our motto. But I have shown you repeatedly how the Bible (inspired as it is by God for us - to lead us to Christ) has in it a progression of doctrinal understanding revealed both within the Old and New Testaments.
You have failed to accept that because it goes against your foundational view of the Bible. I understand, but oh dear John! You wrote, "I have a running wager with all my atheistic friends. Find me ANY inconsistency with God's word and I will pay you. I am going on many moons now and have had many debates and won all of them to their satisfaction." I used to believe the same as you and read all the stuff about how we can explain away all the so-called inconsistencies. But even when I still desperately wanted that to be true, I had to admit it wasn't.
This isn't a fruitful line of discussion for us John. I am sure you're aware of all the arguments on both sides - freely available on the web. I know I can't convince you of inconsistencies because I have already shown you inconsistencies in the Bible and you certainly haven't been able to answer the points I raised. In Acts 15 there is a meeting of the worldwide leaders of the church (Apostles there no less). They are meeting at the mother church in Jerusalem and agreeing to make a ruling for what is to be taught to all the Gentiles. James, leader of the Jerusalem church says in verses 19 & 20
"It is my judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood..."
That is Apostolic, biblical teaching John. But we don't follow it today do we? Why not? The apostles believed it was for the Gentiles (they were already sure that it was for the Jews). At the time, it was their understanding that this was God's will. But we know that's not the case don't we? It is contradicted by things that Paul wrote - also in the Bible - such as in Romans 14:17
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
Paul also knew that an idol was nothing and it didn't render meat offered to it as "unclean". Jesus showed that it's not what goes into a person that makes them unclean but what comes out of them. Now I know that this isn't giving you carte blanche to eat anything that might harm you or to drink yourself stupid. We are talking about our hearts because God looks on the heart. It's acting out of love to yourself and others and poisoning your body is contrary to that. In fact "love" is the fulfilling of all law and that is what Jesus showed was the full revelation of God's laws throughout time."
So there, in Acts 15, is an inconsistency John. Explain it away if you can. Are you obedient to this apostle's teaching or not? Now I think it is quite legitimate for me to say that just as this was the apostles' understanding at the time and recorded as an instruction in the Bible to teach it to the Gentiles- (but it isn't valid for Gentiles today) - so their understanding in both the Old and New Testaments about homosexuals were limited and therefore this led them to write their condemnations - referring to situations they were aware of in their day but without saying "But there are also gay couples living together in faithful, permanent loving relationships and we recognise that's in line with God's law of love."
I don't reject Scripture as you seem to think and I am grieved to think that my understanding of the Bible is insulting to you and my comments about God appear blasphemous. Hopefully, I have helped you not to be offended now. I have shown you that all Scripture is there for us. Preserved by the church through the ages so that we may come to trust in Jesus and grow in love and faith in him. But you believe we must accept all the beliefs presented there as true for us today and I don't. I believe that love is the fulfilling of the law - all law and that was what Jesus came to show as the fulfilment of all the doctrinal development that God's people had gone through. Yes, we may get things wrong, but God looks on the heart and will judge us accordingly. That's why I am happy that you are a sincere brother in Christ who has gone out of his way to admonish a brother (me) who you see as having lost his way.
It's our understanding of how to interpret the Bible that causes us to see things differently. You will not accept that a woman should lead spiritually in the church because of the Bible, pure and simple. Not because women can't, because clearly they can and do! My interpretation of the Bible says "that was the understanding at the time but we understand differently today." You aren't free to see this. That's sad but not a sin!
As long as we accept each other in love in Christ, I am happy to disagree with you. I don't believe God will be displeased with anyone who genuinely is acting in line with their conscience to serve him in the best way they know how. I expect that this is somewhat more difficult for you because of your biblical convictions but I hope that by writing as we have been doing, it will have helped you to be happier about me and others like me who want to support their gay loved ones.
You wrote in your first e-mail that you would bet that I wouldn't put your letter onto my forum page. Our discussion has been polite and heartfelt, sincere and interesting and I would like to put the whole sequence on with your permission. Of course, I will take off all names and anything that might identify someone but would keep your name as "X" unless you prefer an alternative.
Sincerely with thanks and genuine affection in Christ,
I am okay with you posting whatever it is you would like to post. When I send an email I figure it's public knowledge. Sure, if you could withdraw my name that's fine."
I am going to make this email much shorter, only because I think you missed the point of my last email. But it's all good. I am sure if we sat over coffee face to face it would be clearer. We always think what we write will be appropriately understood but we are each having an issue reaching the other so what can you do? :)
With God, I would always err on the side of caution. Here's where I think you are really off the mark. Let's take a look at the scripture you provided:
"It is my judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood..."
Here's the faulty logic you are living your life by and it was the point of my 20 page email last week--"because the other things like eating certain foods are irrelevant in today's modern world, I can therefore be sexually immoral."
Isn't that what you are saying? You don't mean to admit that but you just did. Here's why. You know that biblically homosexuality is clearly "sexual immorality" as it says in the above scripture. I provided DOZENS of scriptures and their meaning on our last email campaign. How do you explain those? You can't. Not without sacrificing your beliefs! So you must single out some scripture that has some irrelevant things for today."
If you read my last email you would KNOW that there are some things that were relevant back in the day. But I can't call D now and say, "D! Guess what? Bruce showed me it's okay that you played with M's peepee! It's all good! You can be sexually immoral. There are so many inconsistencies in the bible we can't really trust what it says."
Come to think about it, honoring your parents is irrelevant in today's society as well, isn't it? I think it should be okay to murder as well. Back then they were so opposed to murder but, Bruce, that's all irrelevant. They didn't know about the 21st Century, my friend!!! Oh and stealing isn't that big of a deal. I don't think Paul or Moses or God could have known the struggles of some people in the 21st Century. That's all irrelevant BS, Bruce. Don't believe a word of it nor should you preach it from the pulpit. I am so glad we talked. You know what else is irrelevant--committed marriage. That whole sexual moral thing is so "yesterday". With all these hot girls at my work I really think that as long as I have sex with them lovingly and show them how much I can love them that would get them to see the loving Christ."
Surely you see this tirade is foolish. It's called opening Pandora's Box. You just did it. I can't be a part of these conversations anymore unless you start addressing MY scriptures that are INCONSISTENT with YOUR lifestyle."
Oh my Bruce,
I just came across your website and just had to have a look at your link on Gay Christians. It is so sad to see that another person has been so gravely deceived by the homosexual lie that being "gay" is innate, intrinsic or genetic in the same way as the color of one's eyes, skin, etc. So very sad indeed. I read your entire page on it and all your flawed arguments. I am very familiar with what the Bible teaches, having spent countless hours over 28 years studying it. I feel I can only pray for your enlightenment at some time before your physical death. I am sure you mean well, as do I, but there is no unity here on this subject.
When I was young I wondered how society would get to the point of rampant homosexual activity described as occurring during the last days. I have seen how what was once abhorrent, like abortion and homosexuality, has now become not only accepted but vigorously defended and by, of all things, so called Christians. Surely Jesus weeps, as do I.
If you have not yet found something you are willing to die for, you have not yet found your reason to live!
I apologise for the delay in responding to your e-mail. Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I appreciate that and praise God for the zeal for the Lord that you have. Hearing genuine concern in your words, I understand where you are coming from because I used to hold similar views.
I am pleased that you have written because this is the very purpose for which I set up the Web Site.
Perhaps one in fifteen of us (regardless of nationality) are gay or lesbian. Whether this is due primarily to nature or nurture it is nevertheless not a choice and it is not something they can change any more than you or I could change our heterosexual orientation. This is an established fact and if I could influence you to do any one thing, Gerry, it would be to check that out for yourself. Talk to some gay Christians if you are able.
We have many gay and lesbian Christian brothers and sisters who love the Lord and yet find themselves rejected by a hostile or uncomprehending Church. I believe the Church has a responsibility to offer homosexual couples a positive theological understanding of their relationship as well as practical acceptance and support, just as we would offer these to heterosexual couples in marriage, to help them honour God and fulfil the same ideal of permanent, faithful, stable love.
P.S. Are you happy with me including your e-mail and my reply on the Open Forum page? I will not do so without your consent.
Thank you for your reply. Before I forget, yes you may post my email on your site.
Bruce, I have spoken with 'gay' 'Christians' at length. The most notable time was quite a few years back, before gay pride parade days were as common as they now are. The name of the mayor of Calgary at the time was Al Duerr. He was being asked to sanction an official Gay Pride Day and parade for Calgary. The Lord pressed upon my heart to do something I had not done previously and that was to protest this policy before being sanctioned by the city.
I made a large banner that read, "When it comes to perversion, Al says doer!" Needless to say I had a lot of opportunity to speak and pray with many gay Christians who approached me to discuss my banner. Not a one, after speaking with me for a time, left believing their gay lifestyle choice was a morally acceptable one by either themselves or Jesus. One can be gay and be a Christian because practicing the gay lifestyle is no more or less sinful than practicing any other less than perfect lifestyle in which all Christians live in to one extent or the other.
I would have no less an issue with any other 'recognizable by their behavior' segment of the church, apart from gays, who, rather than conform their lifestyle to the clear teachings of Scripture, tried to legitimatize and normalize their behavior through various means, such as the gay community has and is clearly continuing to attempt to do.
The divergence of opinions is truly based on the truth or error of one clear belief. Either homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, controllable by the freewill of a person, no more or less than any other tempting lifestyle choice OR it is innate, genetic and completely separate from one's freewill. You have equated it with the latter and I with the former. Nowhere in Scripture does God condemn or even disapprove of anyone based on their innate and/or genetic attributes. EVERY instance of God's disapproval and condemnation is based on behaviour, attitude, lifestyle, homosexuality included, etc. All of these condemned things are 'sins' and can only be sins if they are within our power of choice i.e. freewill. I have yet to discover anything outside of our power of freewill condemned as a sin. Homosexuality is unequivocally categorized as a biblical sin and if your belief is true, then it is the ONLY innate or genetic behavior classified as a sin. I do not believe my God would or has created any being that would be born with an unchangeable attribute, such as you claim homosexuality is, and then condemn it. If you do not agree with that then you must somehow finagle your way out of the box by trying to claim that God does not condemn homosexuality. Bruce, you cannot make such a claim without doing a total butcher job of the exegesis of Scripture.
I too believe you genuinely care for the gay community but you are doing them a GRAVE DISSERVICE by accepting their lifestyle no matter how loving, gentle, kind, sweet, etc. some gays may be. The negative statistics for homosexual unions are even worse than for the general population as far as social, mental problems, etc. These problems are NOT caused by society's non-acceptance (at this time) of their lifestyle. If the definition of homophobia is "fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men /or being a homosexual" then I postulate that it is the homosexuals themselves who are the most homophobic. This is because this fear is clearly demonstrated in their insatiable and relentless pursuit to 'normalize' their behavior and have it 'accepted' by not only 'mainstream society' but ESPECIALLY by Christians. Will they succeed? For THEIR sake, I hope not.
Thank you again for your reply. I apologise in advance because this is quite a long e-mail.
We are in agreement that the root of our disagreement is the one issue that you mentioned. Either homosexuality is a lifestyle choice or it is not. You are convinced that it is and I am convinced that it is not. This is an oversimplification of our respective positions, I know, but essentially it is where we stand.
One aspect of that oversimplification, for me, is that I believe that people don't all fit neatly into discrete "straight" and "gay" boxes. Sexual orientation is much more of a continuum and whilst the majority of us can be described as heterosexual there are huge differences between individuals. Also we can identify homosexual and lesbian people as well as transgender and bisexual individuals, for example, and there are those whose orientation is best described as in-between some of our definitions."
I am describing their sexual orientation here but there is also one in about every two thousand babies born with an intersex condition of congenital mixed sex anatomy. (This is slightly off our main point, I know, but much unnecessary suffering has been caused for such individuals and their families because until recently doctors though that sexual orientation was determined by "nurture" rather than "nature". They consequently assigned a sex to the child, with the best of intentions and then performed surgery and tried to get them to grow up as the "male" or "female" that they had decided. This is now understood to be wholly in error and that the sexuality of the child cannot be determined by society. All of this is documented and you can find much useful information on the Internet.)
But now, the main point. The evidence is overwhelming that we do not choose to be either heterosexual or homosexual. (This is true regardless of what has determined that sexual orientation, i.e. the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors.) The reason that you don't accept the clear preponderance of evidence of this is exactly what you stated in your last e-mail."
You believe that God condemns homosexuality."
And, quite rightly, if God did condemn it then it would have to be something that individuals could change. If you believe that the Bible condemns it then whatever arguments the scientific and medical community bring forward to show you the truth, will be rejected.
The evidence that sexuality is not a choice is conclusive and is there for you to examine. Let me just quote from the Wikepedia article "Ex Gay" to make the point.
The ex-gay or exodus movement is a controversial movement that consists of several groups that seek to alter the sexual orientation of homosexual or bisexual individuals to a heterosexual orientation. Most, though not all, of these groups believe that all homosexual or bisexual individuals should attempt to make this change. Ex-gay groups offer counseling, prayer, and other techniques to achieve this. The method in general is called reparative therapy. Most ex-gay organizations extend this to include people who identify as transgender, on the basis that they consider such feelings or behaviour to be related to homosexuality.The movement is primarily based in the United States (though it exists in other countries such as Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and is largely led by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians (see also Homosexuality and Christianity).
"The modern ex-gay movement has been broadly condemned by nearly all major psychological, psychiatric, and medical associations. Today, these associations point to a lack of scientific evidence suggesting that homosexuals can change their orientation and argue that homosexuals have no reason to do so aside from societal pressure. They say repressing those feelings may cause future psychological damage. These assertions are vigorously disputed by those in the ex-gay movement."
Because of the differences of opinion between modern medicine and fundamentalist Christianity's views on what homosexuality actually is, establishing a dialogue between the two groups is difficult at best.
Ex-gay groups and changes in sexual behaviour
From the point of view of ex-gay groups, a change in the sexual behavior of an individual from homosexuality to either celibacy or heterosexuality is generally regarded as "change," irrespective of any actual change in the underlying sexual orientation. Many ex-gays live celibate lives. Although the wisdom and moral necessity of doing so is hotly contested, the capacity of homosexuals to do so if they so choose is not disputed. Other ex-gays marry opposite-sex spouses and remain faithful to their spouses within their marriages. As a matter of morality, it is generally regarded that the spouse must be made aware of one's past and/or ongoing struggles with same-sex attractions before the marriage takes place. Some married ex-gays acknowledge that their sexual attractions remain primarily homosexual, but seek to make their marriages work anyway.
Because of the way that ex-gay groups regard homosexuality and because of the way they define the term "ex-gay" itself, "relapses" into homosexual behavior are hardly surprising to ex-gay groups. Since one may be "ex-gay" without having experienced a total, or even any, change in sexual orientation, that some ex-gays may "fall back" into "old patterns of behavior" is seen as something to be expected. Ex-gay groups regard embarrassing exposures of their leaders engaged in homosexual behavior in the same way that an Alcoholics Anonymous or similar group might regard the exposure of one of its leaders to have taken up drinking again."
"Ex-gay claims concerning changes in sexual orientation
Many ex-gays claim that their sexual orientation has been altered as a result of their treatment. Most say they have experienced a decrease in same-sex attractions coupled with an increase in opposite-sex attractions, and a significant number claim that their sexual orientation is now predominantly heterosexual-that is, that their opposite-sex attractions now exceed their same-sex attractions. Very few, however, claim to have completely eradicated their same-sex attractions such that exposure to homosexual imagery would pose no temptations.
These claims of an alteration in one's underlying sexual orientation are hotly disputed by the scientific and gay communities, and there is scant scientific evidence suggesting that any actual changes in sexual orientation have taken place. Ex-gay groups rely heavily on testimonials, and the scientific evidence they cite are generally survey results of reported change among ex-gays. Those changes in reported sexual orientation are generally dismissed as the result of denial, wishful thinking, sexual repression, or willful deception. At most, the body of scientific evidence supports the assertion that it may be possible for a small percentage of persons with a homosexual orientation to modify that orientation."
Not surprisingly the neutrality of this article has been disputed by some who realise that it shows the futility of trying to make gay people straight."
You have to admit, however, that it is now generally acknowledged by the psychiatric community that homosexuality is not, after all, a disease which can be cured.
In December 1973 the American Psychiatric Association pronounced that homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder or a disease. Consequently the American Psychological Association has taken the official position that it would be unethical to try to change the sexual orientation of a homosexual.
However, many people who are homosexual have been so indoctrinated with the prejudices of our society that they cannot accept their sexual orientation as normal. Your exercise with the "When it comes to perversion, Al says doer!" banner has sadly contributed towards this. Of course, I am sure you meant well, but please, let me urge you to study the facts on this and not just listen to fundamentalist Christian propaganda."
The main part of my Web Site was dedicated to understanding and interpreting of Scripture because this is the root of the matter. Once you see that the Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality, you are free to begin to see that some of our brothers and sisters are gay by nature.
Now, what they (or we) do with our sexuality is a different thing altogether. We can use it to glorify God or to act selfishly and harmfully towards others. You write about the negative profiles of the gay community in relation to the straight community and say "These problems are NOT caused by society's non-acceptance (at this time) of their lifestyle."
That is so tragically false. I spoke to one young gay man just recently who was brought up in a Christian home and began to discover he was gay as a teenager. Believing that his thoughts and urges were sinful in the extreme he cried himself to sleep night after night and suffered from depression before finally talking to his parents. If anyone could have changed their sexual orientation, this young man would have. He prayed and fasted, he accepted counselling and all help that was offered. But eventually he came to accept the truth. He was gay and that was the way God made him. He is now happily pursuing his chosen career and enjoying a positive, fulfilling life.
It really saddens me to read your confident assertion that society has not caused problems for homosexuals. If you could see it from their point of view for just a moment you might begin to understand the pressures they are under. For example, when a young couple walk down the road hand in hand, people will smile and accept that public show of affection as natural and healthy. But gay and lesbian couples are largely unable to show any signs of affection in public. They risk causing offence, and getting abuse which, in some cases, is extreme.
I'm afraid that I cannot accept your statement that homosexuals themselves are homophobic. Homophobia means fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. Opposition to same-sex activism on religious, moral or political grounds may also be referred to as homophobic. To my mind, that makes your words homophobic, Gerry. Can you not see that any group that is demonised and ostracised by their community (and especially those they look to for spiritual guidance) would naturally seek to be recognised and accepted for who they really are?
We don't know why people are homosexual, but we know that there always were, are, and will be homosexuals. Some estimates suggest that 7 to 8% of the population in the United States and throughout the world is lesbian or gay; at least one member out of every four families. (You may question that figure and I would not be dogmatic regarding numbers.) For them, homosexuality is their true nature. To ask them to behave otherwise would be to ask them to behave unnaturally.
So what about the Scriptures?
In fact, nowhere in the Bible is there mention of those whose true nature is homosexual. The Bible talks about homosexual acts. The apostle Paul was writing in Romans 1 of heterosexual men who committed homosexual acts. For them, they were committing acts against their own nature. Homosexuality, however, is not unnatural since it exists throughout nature. It is just as natural for one person to be heterosexual as it is for another to be homosexual.
I have tried to demonstrate in my Web Site that a simplistic searching of the Bible to obtain the definitive list of "do's and don'ts" for Christians is not satisfactory. The Old Testament has a plethora of commands that are not applicable to Christians today. From dietary laws, to ritualistic laws to Sabbath keeping, there are commands that Christians today do not follow literally. We have generally come to see that these have spiritual application for us but need interpretation for the current times.
However, many Christians don't realise that we are to do the same with the New Testament Scriptures. Jesus condemned the Jews of his day who stuck rigidly to the letter of their law yet missed the spiritual point of it. Too many Christians are doing the same thing today with the New Testament.
Look at what the apostle Paul says about women. He plainly commands that women must wear a head covering in church as a sign of their subordination, (1 Cor 11:5-9); that women must be silent in the churches 'for they are not permitted to speak but must be silent as even the Law says'; that no woman may teach or hold authority over men, 'for Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through child-bearing ...' (1 Tim 2:12-15)
Today, these passages, which are so clearly demeaning to women, are highly embarrassing to those who defend a literalist view. Paul himself lays far more stress on them than on his references to homosexual acts. Yet in practice few even of the most so-called biblical churches now enforce the veiling of women or keep them silent in church. If challenged on this, biblical conservatives will use exactly the same sort of arguments which on other matters, not least homosexuality, they condemn as 'getting round the plain meaning of Scripture' or 'capitulating to the spirit of the age'."
In the case of Paul's teaching about women, they have to admit to making a distinction between temporary, 'culturally conditioned' teachings in certain passages, and wider biblical principles of justice and love with which those texts are now understood to conflict. Or else they will argue that Paul's teaching on women was conditioned by special circumstances in the churches he was writing to (though in fact more than once Paul says his teaching about women is binding on all the churches)."
On these points, even hard-line fundamentalists have been forced to recognize that certain biblical teachings must be weighed against other biblical principles and changed social conditions, and must sometimes be set aside. It is for this reason that I have proposed looking at the spirit of every command and prayerfully seeking God for the way to apply the spirit of the law in our personal circumstances."
If we do that, will there be mistakes of judgment made? Of course! We are only human. But Jesus came to bring grace and truth. It is precisely as we recognize our absolute need of his help and the guidance of his Holy Spirit individually and continually, that we grow in grace and knowledge."
Christians eventually came to see the evils of slavery, despite the lack of any Biblical censure and in fact, its tacit acceptance in both Testaments. Yet the understanding of the spirit of the law of love finally broke through. I pray and believe that the same will be true of our treatment of gays in this century.
Thank you for the obvious effort you put into your reply. If for nothing else, it at least has helped me to ascertain the methodology you have employed in order to arrive at your current beliefs. I do not doubt for a moment your genuine empathy and concern for practicing homosexuals. Never-the-less I am not persuaded by any of the arguments presented. The credibility of the omniscience of the psychiatric profession is not a source of authority and/or truth for me, no matter how well intentioned they may be. I apologize if my position's arguments were simplistic. I wasn't in the frame of mind to thinking we would be exchanging lengthy email discourses on the subject.
I just want to mention one point for now, regarding your argument about fundamentalist Christians picking and choosing which Scriptures may or may not apply to any given circumstance. The point in question is the keeping of the Sabbath. The Sabbath has always been Saturday (Friday sunset - Saturday sunset) and this has never changed. I personally believe that the Christian church, as a whole, should be keeping the Sabbath and should not have substituted Sunday in its place. The Sabbath is eternal and is consistent throughout the Old and New Testaments and well into the future as clearly expressed in Revelation. Just because "Christians" are not keeping a commandment, because of social mores or changing customs, does not mean the commandment is not meant to be kept as instructed. The commandments were given to us out of love from our Heavenly Father and are not burdensome but liberating.
A quick mention of my banner "headline". It was not meant to do anything other than garner attention, which it most certainly did. Also, if you had witnessed the lewd public behaviour of the gay protest participants, you would have had to concur that my banner message was in no way inappropriate. Let's just say the homosexuals were NOT just walking down the streets holding hands affectionately. If gays truly want acceptance by mainstream society then may I suggest they work on themselves to curtail their gross behaviour during their so called gay pride events.
Thank you for your sincerity,
Thank you for your thoughtful e-mail. I have appreciated the opportunity of corresponding with you over these past few weeks. Your point about Sabbath keeping is well taken. You want to be consistent in your application of all Scripture and I can have nothing but respect for that position."
Also, I want you to know that I would in no way condone lewd behaviour in public on behalf of gays or anyone else. I believe that it is important not to cause offence and in that vein I hope that my forthright views have not upset you. I do want to be able to challenge people's ideas but not to cause anyone to be troubled in their faith."
May the Lord richly bless you as you serve him.