Tag Archives: Homosexuality

The Article Every Liberal Needs To Show a Conservative

BoehnerCries-300x162by Allen Clifton – Forward Progressives.
When you’re like me, and I’m assuming there are quite a few, sometimes you hit a point where you can no longer sugarcoat your political arguments.  As you hear the same asinine statements constantly repeated, you just hit a point where you want to stand up and say, “Look you babbling buffoon, let me spell it out for you very simply.”

Now, most times we can’t do this because the person who we’re debating is a friend or relative and we don’t want to be overly rude.

Well, I’ve decided to do it for you.

Here are a few of my simplified responses to the ignorance by many on some key topics being debated in our country (and probably others as well):

*Side note: I’m not going to cover most of the lies against President Obama, I did that previously here.

Gun Rights:

I love when I see Republicans showing off some image of a group of “good ol’ boys” holding shotguns and hunting rifles with some caption like “Want to take our guns? Good luck!”  That or someone holding a handgun with a caption along the lines of “Liberals, come and take this!”

Attention all Fox News Sheeple:

Obama never said he was going to take your hunting rifles or handguns away.  He said he wants universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and a ban on assault weapons (a ban that every Republican President in the last 30 years, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush has supported).

So, when you share these pictures, acting as if you’re “getting at liberal ignorance,” all you’re really doing is spreading an image around the internet that showcases how you–and any other Republican who sees it and thinks “EXACTLY!”–don’t know a damn thing about which you’re speaking.

We’re Out to Preserve the Sanctity of Marriage

Unless you want to make divorce illegal, don’t tell me about same-sex marriage “ruining the sanctity of marriage.”

Divorce did that long ago.

Marriage is a Sacred Bond Before God

Alright you religious radicals, I’ll take you on too.

Let’s assume marriage is a “sacred bond before God”.

First, that would eliminate any government involvement to define marriage.  So your push for a government “ban” on same-sex marriage would be pointless.

Second, there are millions of Christians who support same-sex marriage and many churches that would marry gay couples.  So isn’t that up to that particular congregation?

Or do you feel your congregation should control all others?

Which, if you feel your congregation should control all other religions (and rule every American), isn’t that a GIANT violation of the First Amendment, which gives Americans freedom of (or from) religion?

Then if you feel your religion should control all others, and all Americans, you then support a theocracy and apparently oppose the United States and our Constitutionally protected freedoms.

Because this country was largely founded to prevent, not strengthen, theocratic rule.

Same-sex Marriage overall

Honestly, I’m exhausted with the same-sex marriage “debate.”  There is no debate.

Procreation is not a requirement for the right to marry, nor are those who procreate required to get married.

“Homosexuality is a sin” comes from religion.

The term “traditional marriage” is defined from religious text.

Our country does not establish laws based on religion.

Therefore your “arguments” are invalid.

The end.

Republicans: The Party for Christian Values

ENOUGH!

If you want to say you’re the party of “Christian values” and you worship Jesus Christ…

Start by helping the sick, the poor, the needy—not opposing programs that do.

Republicans are for Fiscal Responsibility

Not even close.  There hasn’t been a Republican President that’s balanced the budget since Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served from 1953-1961.

Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all drastically increased our national debt.

Republicans are the Party of Small Government

Big government regulations, they’re un-American!  They’re unconstitutional and ruining your way of life!

Unless that big government regulates:

  • What language to speak
  • Religion to follow
  • When life is created
  • Who can marry
  • Who can serve in the military
  • Invasive health procedures on women
  • That we have prayer in school
  • Mosques aren’t built in certain locations
  • Corporations are people
  • The Patriot Act
  • Unions don’t have rights
  • When alcohol can be sold
  • The requirement of an ID to vote

Then those government regulations are just fine.  How “small government” of you, Republicans!

Abortion

Abortion is a Constitutionally protected right.  That isn’t debatable.

You might not agree with abortion, you might think it’s murder, you might think life starts at the moment of conception.

It really doesn’t matter.  Abortion is a Constitutionally protected right—end of story.

So when you, and the party that you support, openly attempt to infringe on that right (or outright says they want to end abortion) you’re supporting a stance that violates a Constitutionally protected right.

For more on the overall hypocrisy of the right wing’s “pro-life” stance, check out this in-depth article.

The Debt Ceiling is About More Government Spending

No, it’s not.  The debt ceiling is about our government paying our bills on money we’ve already spent.

But guess what?  Ronald Reagan raised it 18 times and George W. Bush raised it 7 times.

I Want Big Intrusive Government–That Never Does Anything Good–Out of My Life!

Did you drive today?  Did you take your children to public school?  Did you enjoy a safe commute as you traveled thanks to traffic signals and signs?  Did you whisk through your city or state on an Interstate Highway?  Did you enjoy running water and plumbing that properly, and safely, disposes of waste?  Did you get a college degree at a public university because it was much cheaper than a private one?

Hey genius, that’s all government.

Tax Cuts Create Jobs

No, they don’t.  The rich don’t need more tax breaks, they want more tax breaks.

But guess what?  After you give them those breaks, they’ll want even more the next time.  Isn’t that what Republicans are basically saying now?  They had the Bush tax cuts for a decade, but now they want even more tax cuts.

Their argument will always be, no matter the economic climate, they “need” more tax breaks to create jobs.  Good economy?  “Cut our taxes and we’ll create even more jobs.”   Bad economy?  “Cut our taxes and we’ll create jobs and save the economy.”

Tax breaks don’t create jobs, demand creates jobs.

It’s an endless cycle, and it’s why Trickle Down Economics is a failure.

I’m going to stop there.  I’m sure there are more, and one day I’ll probably do another article covering those as well.

But I highly encourage any liberal/progressive/Democrat (or anyone that’s simply sick of right-wing rhetoric) to share this article so that those who’ve driven you to the brink of insanity when discussing these issues can see a simple counter to their Fox News-fed bullshit.

____________________________________________________________

About Forward Progressives:

We are Forward Progressives working for positive change in our communities and our country. We just started up as of March 2013, and we look forward to sticking around and making our presence known!

Our team of writers posts original content intended to strike up conversation and make you think. We do not want to be known as “just another liberal blog,” because we firmly believe we are much more than that. If you want a site that posts a video with no opinion for cheap clicks, look elsewhere. We always aim to bring our unique viewpoints to whatever we post, whether it be the news of the day or anything else! You can read a little about our team in the author boxes beneath each of our articles.

Stick around a while and check out some of our work. If you like what you see, please “share” and tell others about us as well!

You can find a list of our writers, links to author archives and contact information for each individual writer listed on our “Contact” page.

If you’d like an opportunity to write for Forward Progressives, or if you just have general comments, compliments or complaints, send us an email to editor@forwardprogressives.com and we’ll do our best to get back to you in a timely manner. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter as well. Thank you for your support, we truly appreciate it!

– The Forward Progressives Team

Advertisements

The Pain to Gays in Africa Through the Evolution of Joel Osteen

joelfoxBy Melanie Nathan | Reblogged from O-blog-dee-o-blog-da

The Public Relations office of Joel Osteen sent a huge Timeline Memograph asking me to post it here on my BLOG. It was titled, The Evolution of Joel Osteen. I read it and all it did was brag about how he has evolved into the biggest Church in America, how many millions of books he has sold and how he is impacting the rest of the World, including Africa.

But has anyone heard Osteen and his ministry speak out against the anti-Gay fervor in Africa generated by the export of Christianity? Now one may argue that it was not Osteen’s brand of Christianity that hit the streets of Africa – that it was not his Church or denomination which caused the anti-homosexual fervor and the current new laws that target LGBT Africans for condemnation through arrest and persecution. However, one can argue that each and every Church,notwithstanding its brand or form, has a duty to speak out very loudly to vehemently condemn the new laws in Uganda.

People like Osteen have had five years to intervene, since we first learned of the pain caused in the name of Christianity to the Africa’s LGBT community, and yet there has been very little to zero outreach, be it quiet diplomacy or noisy protest. And now look at what is happening.

A great amount of publicity has been in mainstream press speaking to the genesis and evolution of the hate in Africa, touted in the name of Christianity. Yet people like Osteen have not only failed to speak out forcefully or at all against it, failing the LGBT populace, but they have actually failed Christianity itself, by allowing this type of anti-gay sentiment to prevail- to such a fever-pitch extent – in the name of Christianity.

Yes, I assert that Osteen’s silence hurts not only gays, but also Christianity. Especially since Osteen is now bragging that he has the largest ministry in America, and since he now asserts its growing influence in Africa.

Since President Museveni of Uganda and President Jonathan of Nigeria signed their respective Jail the gays Bills, Osteen and other mega pastors have not been seen or heard of on the issue. In case they do not know, here is the result: – Tabloids are outing gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people and others perceived as such,  and people believe they have license to attack in the name of Christianity.

Christian families, neighbors, employers and landlords are seeking retribution against this small minority and the wrath is palpable. People are in fear of their lives and have gone into hiding, with little to no resources. We now have hundreds of gays that we know of and possible many more, and an entire country of LGBTI people scrambling into hiding, some already lynched and beaten, and all are struggling to find shelter and food. Many want to leave their countries and have nowhere to go.

Now Osteen are you ready to talk EVOLUTION?

And all the while this so called Christian Nation ( as per Yoweri Museveni) has done little more than perpetuate the persecution. And Osteen’s evolution by virtue of its silence on the issue and bragged influence, is complicit.

And the Public Relations Office of Joel Osteen has the audacity to ask my BLOG – which stands for Human Rights and advocates against the persecution – to publicize Osteen’s Evolution?

Here was my response:

Dear Aniya

What has Joel Olsteen and his Christian Ministry said or done about the export of hate by Christians to Africa against the target gay group?  – Now That would be an evolution right?

Have you read my BLOG and the nature of its work?

I fight Christians and others who export hate to Africa – and now I will fight those who do not speak out vehemently against it.

Has Osteen come out and spoken against the Jail the Gays bills – the handy work of Christian Evangelicals in Africa- namely Uganda and Nigeria.

Do not speak to me about the evolution of Osteen until he has the guts to speak out very LOUDLY in the name of Christianity to thwart the anti- gay fervor in Africa.

People are dying in Africa right now – all LGBTI – in the name of Christianity and you want me to promote it further?

Osteen can brag as much as he likes about his church, but until he does something concrete to undo the harm of Christianity, albeit other denominations, as far as I am concerned he is complicit.

Take care

Melanie Nathan.

Please note that I understand it is the fringe group of Evangelical extremists that have exported this form of hate. However what people need to know is that while the people in Africa have responded to  that fringe notion, as exported,  to promote the anti-gay laws and to to persecute, to them it is simply “Christianity.”  So all this persecution is being done in the name of Christianity, without any regard for the fact that it may be fringe. This places a much larger duty on the “good” Christians to come for ward to counter the harm.

Lest we forget that part of the BRAG that speaks to money. How about Osteen hit up his membership for the much needed dollars to help Africa’s LGBT fight the harm perpetuated by Christianity,  on the Continent.

______________________________________________________

melMelanie Nathan is the publisher of the “O-blog-dee-o-blog-da” blog, and is a lawyer, mediator, equality activist, and human rights advocate who speaks and writes on issues impacting LGBTI communities around the world, with a focus on the U.S.A. and Africa.

Nathan and her guests highlight their work in a world where gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, intersex, and gender-free people are the subjects of persecution and discrimination.

The Problem With Evangelicalism Is Not Evangelism

1262587_332378626908049_1879140176_oI have to admit, I’m a fan of Benjamin Corey. Who is Benjamin Corey? Glad you asked. He writes the “Formerly Fundie” blog on Patheos. Click the link, bookmark the site, spend some time, show Ben some love.

Seriously. Do it now. I’ll wait…

On 14 January 2014, Ben wrote an article in the form of a “Break-up Letter” to Evangelicalism. Titled, “Dear Evangelicalism: I Don’t Think This Relationship Is Going To Work.” it remains one of my top-ten blog posts in the history of the known universe.

The first half of his blog is wonderfully poignant regarding his personal feelings about the Evangelical movement, and is sprinkled with wit and wisdom. It will give you a chuckle, which is a quality that is somewhat lacking in most faith-based bloggers.

The second half is where my split between smiling and nodding my head went from even-keel to mostly and vigorously nodding my head in what would have appeared (if there were anyone watching) as if I were being violently shaken by a massive pair of invisible hands.

Ben gives his reasons why he had decided to split from Evanglicalism, as follows:

  1. I’m tired of the way you view people as objects.
    It’s been my experience that you often see people as objects to be converted instead of people to love, and I just don’t like that. It’s dehumanizing, and I can’t associate with it. In fact, Jesus doesn’t like that either– he once chided religious leaders of his time for their ability to go to great lengths to win a “convert” only to turn them into something that God never intended. First, learn to love people simply because they are PEOPLE, and then all the other stuff will work itself out.
  2. I’m tired of the way you treat women.Call me a heretic, but I think men and women are equal and that God gives individual gifting regardless of gender, and I know you don’t always share the same belief. I had hope you’d come around on this issue, but I’m realizing more and more that we just have irreconcilable differences when it comes to this, and that it’s a non-negotiable for me. I want to encourage women to use their skills, talents and abilities to be whoever God created them as individuals to be, and I just can’t be with someone who won’t support women embracing their full identity. Plus, every time I log onto Twitter you’re doing something to bully female bloggers, and if you treat them that way in public, what does it say about how you treat other women in private? So, until or unless you start treating women like equals at home and at church, it’s over between us.
  3. I’m tired of the way you treat my gay friends.I don’t care if you always believe that being gay is a sin– that’s your prerogative– but I do care how you treat my gay friends and the ways in which you express your beliefs on this issue. I think it is important for you to realize that there are in fact, Christians who are gay. They are people just like you and me who are busy trying to follow Jesus the best they can. However, the way you treat them is having the opposite effect that you claim to want– I think the way you treat them is actually driving them further from the wonderful message of Jesus instead of closer to it. As one of my readers told me yesterday, there is a large gap between Christianity and the LGBT community, and we need people to bridge that gap in loving ways– something you don’t seem interested in doing. So, until your culture is one where my LGBT friends will find a safe place to connect to God, I just can’t claim to be part of you anymore.
  4. I’m sick of your gun obsession.Seriously– have you tried to step back and look at your gun obsession through the eyes of an outsider? You look like a 12 year old collecting video games. I’m tired of it, and I’m quite sure that Jesus is tired of it too. You act like Jesus had a tattoo of the second amendment and sported a mullet, and quite honestly, I can’t be with someone who has that bizarre a view of Jesus. The more you continue this obsession the more you actually participate in a never ending system of violence, and I want nothing to do with that– because Jesus wanted nothing to do with that. I mean really- whenever we’re on the phone you end up talking more about guns than homelessness, which really seems backwards. So, until I see some growth in this area, it’s just not going to work.
  5. I find your insistence that Jesus was a Republican almost unbearable.You do know that there were no such thing as Republicans back then, right? When we first started spending time together, this issue wasn’t a big deal to me but as time goes on, I now see how silly this is. Jesus invites us to follow him, but you seem more concerned with following the platform of the Republican National Committee. I used to think there was a chance you’d grow out of this, or at least embrace that not all of us identify with conservative politics, but now I see I was wrong about that. I don’t know how to be in a relationship with someone who has meshed faith and politics together like a grilled cheese sandwich.
  6. I’ve had it with your obsession with power and control.I need to be completely honest: I’m starting to think you have a power addiction. The next time you hear Mr. Brownstone by Guns n’ Roses, pay attention to the line: “I used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do it so a little got more and more”, because that’s the way I experience your relationship with power and control. You keep feeding the beast, but the beast keeps getting more hungry. As if the power you already have isn’t enough, now you talk about “taking the country back” which makes me think you’re more concerned with the pursuit of power and control than pursuing the Jesus guy who said “blessed are the meek”. It just feels like we have different goals for the future of this, and that’s not going to enable a healthy, life-long relationship.
  7. I’m tired of arguing over finances.I know that finances become an issue in a lot of relationships, and it did in ours too. I tried to look past this, but I just can’t anymore. Have you even looked at the checking account lately? We’re actually LOADED with dough, but whenever we talk about finances it feels like you’re more interested in building funds than feeding the hungry in the local community. Seriously, are you even aware of the tone you take with me when I bring up “social justice”? Whenever I say those words you get instantly nasty with me and when that happens I don’t even want to be in the same house as you. I just can’t continue sharing my finances with someone who wants to blow so much of it on building campaigns and installing life-size Noah’s Arcs in church sanctuaries. I won’t even bring up how much must have gone into that foolish Creation museum with the cave men riding dinosaurs. You’re free to spend to spend your money however you’d like, but I feel like our financial priorities are too often incompatible.

Ben goes on to point out other, not necessarily lesser, reasons, and touches a bit on what makes or breaks a healthy relationship and “laments” about his dashed hopes of he and Evangelicalism being able to live in peace and mutual respect; hopes dashed due to Evangelicals not open to being “content with diversity of viewpoints in the areas where we don’t see eye to eye” and being “more interested in changing me, than actually knowing me and loving me for who I am.”

Ben finishes up his “Dear John” letter with being tired of “the way you’ve always forced me to the margins and isolated me when I didn’t meet your expectations or asked questions that made you uncomfortable. I’m tired of the way I experience your culture and your tone, especially with people you disagree with. More than anything, I’m tired of the fact that I don’t believe you even care about anything I just told you.”

Ben does leave the door open for a reconciliation, but with the caveats of a cease and desist of bullying women, ditching the guns, apologizing to LGBTs and keeping its hands off the checking accout.

A tall order, and one that shows no signs of being fulfilled. Still, my hat’s off to Ben, for another predictably marvelous piece of prose.

Brilliant, Ben. Just freaking brilliant.

_______________________________________________

benBenjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus (Release date, August 2014), tells the story of his journey out of lifeless religion and into a fresh expression of Christianity. He is also a contributor for Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is currently a Doctor of Missiology student at Fuller Seminary. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his Peruvian Princess, Johanna Grace.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Dear Arizona – A Letter From George Takei

George_TakeiDear Arizona,

Congratulations. You are now the first state actually to pass a bill permitting businesses–even those open to the public–to refuse to provide service to LGBT people based on an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” This “turn away the gay” bill enshrines discrimination into the law. Your taxi drivers can refuse to carry us. Your hotels can refuse to house us. And your restaurants can refuse to serve us.

Kansas tried to pass a similar law, but had the good sense to not let it come up for a vote. The quashing came only after the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and other traditional conservative groups came out strongly against the bill.

But not you, Arizona. You’re willing to ostracize and marginalize LGBT people to score political points with the extreme right of the Republican Party. You say this bill protects “religious freedom,” but no one is fooled. When I was younger, people used “God’s Will” as a reason to keep the races separate, too. Make no mistake, this is the new segregation, yours is a Jim Crow law, and you are about to make yourself ground zero.

This bill also saddens me deeply. Brad and I have strong ties to Arizona. Brad was born in Phoenix, and we vacation in Show Low. We have close friends and relatives in the state and spend weeks there annually. We even attended the Fourth of July Parade in Show Low in 2012, looking like a pair of Arizona ranchers.

The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear.

So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know–from large corporations to small families on vacation–to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent.

And maybe you just never learn. In 1989, you voted down recognition of the Martin Luther King holiday, and as a result, conventions and tourists boycotted the state, and the NFL moved the Superbowl to Pasadena. That was a $500 million mistake.

So if our appeals to equality, fairness, and our basic right to live in a civil society without doors being slammed in our face for being who we are don’t move you, I’ll bet a big hit to your pocketbook and state coffers will.

George Takei

WWGD: What Would Galileo Do?

galileoBy Rev Susan Russell 

Here’s a question from an email I received not long ago. The subject line was, “The Clear Truth of Scripture.” The question was, “What we’re asking for is a straight answer out of you people on where in the Bible you find a passage that shows God approves of same sex marriage. Can you do that or not?”

Finally a question I can answer without hesitation.

And the answer is “no.”

There is no single text, no specific chapter and verse, that I can point anyone to and say, “Here it is: the clear truth of scripture in support of same-sex marriage!”

Nor is there any “clear truth of scripture” in support of the equality or ordination of women.

Nor is there any “clear truth of scripture” on the sanctity of interracial marriage.

Nor is there any “clear truth of scripture” opposing the death penalty, supporting the abolition of slavery, or proving that the Earth revolves around the Sun — which you may remember got Galileo in all kinds of trouble with the clear-truth-of-scripture crowd in his generation.

And yes, Galileo’s opponents also cited biblical references in defense of their position that the Sun revolved around the Earth, including Psalm 93:1, which states that “the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved”; Psalm 104:5, which states that “the LORD set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved”; Ecclesiastes 1:5, which states that “the sun rises and sets and returns to its place”; etc.

Meanwhile, Galileo defended the science of heliocentrism to the point of being condemned by the Catholic Church for “vehement suspicion of heresy” — and of course history eventually proved him right. In 1992 the Roman Catholic Church issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Church, and in 2008 Pope Benedict XVI praised Galileo’s contributions to astronomy.

They say that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it — and an excellent example of that theory is the folks who, 400 years later, are throwing around isolated scripture passages to support outdated understandings of human sexuality, just as others have done through the ages, on everything from slavery and integration to equality for women.

So here’s the “takeaway” from this today’s object lesson on life, the universe, Galileo, and heresy: the Bible is no more a textbook on human sexuality in the 21st century than it was a textbook on astronomy in the 17th. And the folks who get that part confused repeatedly end up on the wrong side of history as the arc of the moral universe continues to bend toward justice.

And here’s the good news: we live in a country where the First Amendment protects not only your right to read the Bible any way you choose but your right to be on the wrong side of history. It does not, however, protect your right to write your theology into our Constitution and take away the equally protected rights of all Americans from some Americans because you’ve gotten the Bible confused with a textbook on human sexuality.

We begin this new year with anti-gay rhetoric in the presidential primary debates escalating while we await a decision on California’s Proposition 8 to come down literally any day now and watch the move to repeal DOMA gaining support on Capitol Hill. There is therefore every indication that gay and lesbian Americans will continue to experience the collateral damage of seeing their lives and relationships treated like sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics by those firmly planted on the wrong side of the history of LGBT equality.

It is a time of opportunity for everyone who holds fast to the fundamental American value of liberty and justice for all to remember that the First Amendment is both a protection of and a protection from religion, and to say so loud and clear.

It is also a time of challenge for people of faith to stand up and speak out in rebuttal to those who presume to speak for “traditional Christian values,” which have nothing to do with God’s values of love, justice, and compassion and everything to do with their own homophobia projected onto biblical texts taken out of context.

Galileo didn’t live long enough to get the apology he deserved from the institutional church, and neither will we. But we’re not in it for the apology. We’re in it to win it — as we work to make “justice roll down like waters” and to turn “liberty and justice for all” from a pledge to a reality for LGBT Americans.

***************************************************

Copyright �2012 Rev. Susan Russell. All rights reserved. Rev. Russel is the Senior Associate for Communication and Inclusion at All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena, CA. Originally published on January 11, 2012 in the Huffington Post . Follow Rev. Susan Russell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/revsusanrussell 

On homosexuality, many Christians get the Bible wrong

Good-Samaritan-Ministries-Portland-Oregon-Bible-StudyBy Adam Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor and author of “When Christians Get it Wrong” (Abingdon, 2013)

Homosexuality is one of the most divisive issues within churches and across our country today. The issue has become, for some, a litmus test on fidelity to God and the scriptures. The divide is not just between the progressives and conservatives. It is also a generational divide, with younger Christians generally seeing this issue differently than older Christians.

I recently delivered the sermon for the National Prayer Service at the presidential inauguration. While in Washington I took my family to the Lincoln Memorial. This iconic structure stands as a reminder of America’s great dream of equality and President Lincoln’s role in the emancipation of America’s slaves and the abolition of slavery in America. The words to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address are inscribed on the north wall of the memorial’s interior. In them Lincoln noted that at the center of the conflict over slavery were very different interpretations of the Bible. Lincoln said of the two sides in the war, “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.”

Southern preachers and slave owners believed the many references in the Bible permitting and regulating slavery (well over 100 verses), in both the Old and the New Testaments, were clear evidence that the institution was a part of God’s social and moral order. Abolitionist preachers argued in their sermons that the verses related to slavery in the Bible were a reflection of the cultural context and times in which the Bible was written and did not reflect God’s endorsement of slavery. They argued that there were “weightier” scriptures on justice, mercy and love that superseded those on slavery. This was the position that Lincoln himself adopted.

At the center of the divide over homosexuality today is the Bible. Conservatives and progressives “read from the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.”

There are a handful of Scriptures (five or eight depending upon how one counts) that specifically speak of same-sex intimacy as unacceptable to God. Conservatives or traditionalists see these as reflecting God’s timeless will for human relationships. Progressives look at these same scriptures in much the same way that progressives in the nineteenth century looked at the Bible’s teaching on slavery. They believe that these verses capture the cultural understandings and practices of sexuality in biblical times, but do not reflect God’s will for gay and lesbian people.

In my own life, it was both reading the Bible’s passages on same-sex intimacy in the same light as passages on slavery (and violence and the place of women) and coming to know gay and lesbian people that led me to see this issue differently, particularly children who grew up in my church who loved God and sought to serve Christ. As I listened to their stories I saw that they did not fit the stereotypes I had been taught about gay and lesbian people. The love they shared with others looked very much like the love I share with my wife –a deep friendship and companionship. And their faith was as authentic as that of anyone else in my congregation.

For many Christians today, particularly young adults, the handful of Bible verses related to same sex intimacy seem more like the 100 plus verses on slavery than they do the teachings of Jesus and his great commandments to love God and neighbor. Their gay and lesbian friends are people, just like them, in need of love and community. I believe that in the years ahead an increasing number of Christians, not only progressives, but also conservatives, will read the Bible’s passages regarding homosexuality as all Christians today read the Bible’s passages on slavery. And the sermons preached from America’s pulpits decrying the rights of homosexuals today will sound to future generations much like the pro-slavery sermons sound to us today.

Some Talking Points on Christianity and Homosexuality

Paul on Homosexuality Picby Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker 

About a year ago, after my giving a talk on how the Bible doesn’t condemn, but actually affirms, same-sex love, a roman with a gay brother, raised in a Christian family, asked me to write out “talking points” on the subject of the consistency between Christianity and homosexuality, so that she could share that information with her brother. This article is the result of my answering her request.

Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbles, stated what is, unfortunately, a profound truth. He said that no matter how big the lie, if it’s repeated often enough, people will come to believe it. Just as that axiom proved true in Nazi Germany, it certainly proves itself to be true regarding the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality. For centuries, we have been repeatedly told from assorted pulpits throughout the world that homosexuality is a “sin,” so that so many professing Christians and others come to think that it’s a no-brainer, that it is, in fact, a “sin.”

The fact is, as the Reverend Troy Perry has said, “Jesus came to take away our sins, not our sexuality.” In addition, as I have said for many decades, “Never let other people define your reality or put you into bondage to their ways of thinking!”

Simply put, if we remove the patriarchal and legalistic trappings of “Christianity,” that presents the false gospel of legalism perfectionism, and exclusion, we see that the only Gospel to be found in Christianity, the Gospel of grace, faith, love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness demands that we embrace all of God’s children, we be authentic as God created us to be, and we recognize that we commit a grievous sin when we reject the wonderful gift bestowed upon us by God, the gift of being able to love another person. As Rev. Troy Perry has said, “God didn’t create someone whom He could sit around and hate!”

You also commit a grievous sin if you reject the sexual orientation given you by God! We are to never chafe under the sovereign choices of God, and so many LGBT Christians fail to recognize that they are God’s gift to the Church and to society! Always remember, God has gifted you with the capacity to love and that you are God’s gift to the Church and to this world!

As I read a while back, “We are not here to prove ourselves to the world, but to be ourselves in the world!” This is a good point and truth worth meditating on each and every day of our lives. Read Isaiah 2:22 and Galatians 1:10 for further confirmation of this truth!

I hope these talking points are of help, not merely to address the prejudice of others, prejudice that, unfortunately, rationality and facts are frequently unlikely to penetrate, but that they affirm all of us as God’s children, and once and for all erase any possible reason for anyone to have shame or self-loathing because of sexual orientation, or for any other reason. God is not stupid and God doesn’t make any mistakes!

Here are the talking points that I hope you find useful:

  1. All of the Commandments are fulfilled by loving God and loving others. We are never to judge others. (Matthew 7:1; Romans 2:1) Read Romans 1 in detail and then Romans 2:1. 
  2. The “clobber passages” in Leviticus and Deuteronomy concern the “Holiness Codes” that have been fulfilled in Jesus. “Toevah” means “abomination” or “detestable” as related to idolatry and cult prostitution that were engaged in by the Canaanites. 
  3. The Bible also contains prohibitions against eating shell fish; there are also the cultural practices of stoning to death those who commit adultery, stoning to death those who work on the Sabbath, stoning to death recalcitrant children, women not being allowed to talk in the Church, women not being allowed to teach men, women always keeping their heads covered in church, not wearing mixed fibers in one’s clothes, etc. Why not picket Safeway for selling shell fish and picket K Mart for selling shirts made of cotton and polyester? 
  4. The “sin of Sodom” (Genesis 19) has nothing to do with homosexuality. It deals with gang rape. Whenever Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in the Bible, homosexuality is never mentioned as its sin. Its sins are primarily inhospitality and not taking care of the poor. 
  5. In a tribal society, living on the edge, surrounded by enemies, homosexual activity is condemned because in this way people can’t “be fruitful and multiply.” However, we are no longer a tribal society living on the edge; it’s inappropriate to blindly translate the cultural practices of ancient societies to contemporary society as witness as a widow having to marry her husband’s brother. If she loved that man, that’s wonderful. But if she didn’t love that man, she still had to marry him and one can’t legitimately argue that God is in favor of serial rape! 
  6. If homosexuality was so important, why is it not mentioned in the Ten Commandments; why did the prophets never write about it; why didn’t Jesus ever condemn it? If it were that important, don’t you think that it would have been mentioned in at least one of these contexts? 
  7. Why was the centurion so concerned about this particular slave as recorded in Matthew 8? After all, slaves were a dime a dozen. As it says in Luke, this is a slave who was “dear to him.” (Luke 7:2) Why is the Greek word “pais” translated as “servant” in English, when this Greek word is best translated “slave boy?” “Doulos” is the Greek word for slave! A slave boy was frequently one who had a romantic-sexual relationship with an older man; that may well be why the centurion was so concerned about this particular slave boy and asked Jesus to heal him. If such a relationship was a sin or in any way inappropriate, wouldn’t Jesus have taken this opportunity to condemn or censure the centurion for having such a relationship? Instead, Jesus merely commended the centurion on his faith and promptly proceeded to heal the man’s slave boy. 
  8. Same-sex love is certainly affirmed in reading of the relationship between King David (called “a man after God’s own heart”) and Jonathan. See 1 Samuel 16:12;20:1-23;35-42;20:41;28:32-34;20:12-17;42; 2 Samuel 1:26. If one reads the account of Deborah, a Judge and esteemed warrior in Israel, one comes away with a feeling that she may well have been transgendered, as she certainly didn’t live up to the cultural expectations of how a “woman” is to behave. (See Judges 4:1-24) 
  9. Particularly in the New Testament, same-sex love is never condemned! What is undoubtedly condemned is male cult prostitution, as seen in the fact that in Corinth, where the Book of Romans was undoubtedly written, there were many religions, one of them being the fertility cult of Aphrodite. Here, sex was frequently a worshipful act in homage to various pagan deities for purposes of fertility, having the crops grow, etc. 
  10. The word “homosexual” never appears in any biblical manuscript, as it was a word coined in the late 19th Century and first appeared in an English Bible translation, the Revised Standard Version, in 1946. The Greek word used for “homosexual,” arsenokoitai, is an obscure word that doesn’t seem to appear in any other ancient writings, and may very well have been only used by the Apostle Paul. Its literal meaning is “male bed.” No one knows what Paul was referring to but, if he wanted to denote same-sex love, there were other words available to him that he could have easily used. 
  11. The word translated “effeminate” in 1 Corinthians 6:9 is malakoi. It means “soft.” It’s used elsewhere in Scripture to denote soft clothing. (Matthew 11:8) In this context it probably refers to people of soft morals, or people who lack courage. In any case, to translate it as “effeminate” in a pejorative way would contradict Paul’s assertion of the equality of men and women in Christ. (Galatians 3:28) 
  12. Regarding the word “para physin” that is usually translated “against nature,” this phrase is also used in regard to God’s welcoming the gentiles into the fold. (Romans 11:21-24) The phrase is probably best translated, “unexpected,” or something not done in the usual way. 
  13. Biblical principle must always trump biblical practice! The biblical principle is the Gospel, the Good News, of God’s grace (unmerited favor) to us that we appropriate through our faith in Him. (Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9) As Peter J. Gomes writes in his excellent book that I strongly urge you to read, The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart, when we read any passage of the Bible we must try to discern what it says, what it means, the subtext, the context, what we bring to the text, and what we take out of the text. Much of the mind-set and many of the words that appear in Scripture don’t mean what we think they mean from our perspective. 
  14. As Christians we are to show forth the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and live out the Gospel of grace, faith, love, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness. We are in no way to align ourselves with wolves in sheep’s clothing who stigmatize and oppress gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people for their own psychological, political, social, and financial gains, particularly when they have absolutely no Scriptural authority to do so. 

There is much more that can be said on this matter! There are many other web sites as well that deal with the integration of Christianity and homosexuality, such as the web site of the Metropolitan Community Churches, and my blog, A Christian Voice For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, And Transgender Rights, that has many relevant links that you may find of interest and might be of help.

*********************************************

Copyright © by Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker – May 1 2006 – Used with Permission