2.16.2006

black church conference creates network to fight anti-gay bias

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At the first Black Church Summit, participants formed a new national network to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians in African American churches.

More than 200 African American ministers and gay activists from across the country gathered at the two-day meeting near downtown Atlanta to discuss how to make black churches more accepting of gays.

Participants said bias within black churches has not only led gays and lesbians to feel excluded, it has contributed to the "down low" phenomenon -- of men having sex with men while maintaining a heterosexual identity. Bias has been seen as increasing the incidence of AIDS and HIV infection among African Americans, especially women.

Many attendees agreed that churches are the largest and strongest institutions in the black community and that everyone should feel welcome in them.

The new Black Church Social Justice Community Action will work in churches throughout the country to promote a black, faith-based movement that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and opposes bans on same-sex marriage.

Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been vocal in his support for including gays in faith communities and for same-sex marriage since his run for president in 2004, said he welcomed the effort.

"It's not a question of bringing gays and lesbians into the church," Sharpton said. "It's about having a discussion because they are already there, and not just in the choirs. We can't ignore part of the congregation. I'm willing to take whatever criticism is necessary to start the dialogue."

The Rev. Ken Samuel, pastor at the Victory for the World church in Stone Mountain, Ga., said he condemned homosexuality when he started his mega-church, and his membership grew. One day Samuel had a revelation, remembering a childhood friend who committed suicide because he felt ostracized by the church for his sexuality. When he started preaching inclusion, he said, he lost about half of his 5,000 members.

"There is a disconnect between religion and reality, and it contributed to the death of a young man," Samuel said. "That set me on this path to try and figure it out. We have to find ways to incorporate it with the Bible the same as was done with slavery. The Bible condones slavery. We have to interpret rather than exclude."


What are your thoughts on this?

34 comments:

Crissi said...

When we start looking at people and judging them according to their sin, we are doing no good. As Christians, our responsibility is to teach about Jesus' love, and include EVERYONE. When we exclude because of bias, we are not acting as Christians. This was not Christ's way. He did not die on the cross so that we could point our fingers at other people and tell them how to live their lives. He asked us to spread His News. How many souls are saved by pointed fingers? Would I want to be a part of a faith that looked down on me? No. I'd go the other way. I'd turn towards anything that embraced me as I was. And more homosexuals need to hear that Christ accepts them as they are, loves them as they are. This is a message EVERYONE needs to hear, not just the "elite". The whole gay fights over who's right, who's sinning, who's doing what in their bedrooms, it's all ridiculous. I don't know what God thinks of homosexuality. I do believe that he created some people this way, and I couldn't imagine them any other way. And besides, I look at my life and all the sins I have, and I could never tell someone else the "right" way to live their lives.

I love that there are some churches beginning to embrace those that are homosexual. I do not think it needs to be glorified. Sex doesn't really belong in the church, not in sermons or in any other form. But people are people, and they all need Christ. And those that are leaving the church because of it need to look at their lives a little closer. Like John 8:7, "...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..."

Katie H said...

i think what sharpton said about it not being about bringing homosexuality into the church because it's already there, is key. We can't ignore homosexuality, and we shouldn't.

UGO4GOD said...

"There is a disconnect between religion and reality, and it contributed to the death of a young man," I think that is a very powerful statement. In the way that we try to make God fit into our lives and if he doesn’t fit into the way we want then we kill our selves. I think God loves the sinner but hates the sin. If we are born an alcoholic, child molester, drug attic, self mutilator, homosexual or any other type of sinner, then thank God we have the chance to be born again in Christ! As we get closer to God the rules make sense. Homosexuals should be welcome in any church but not the act or sin of homosexuality. My Jesus would accept, feed, clothe, shelter and visit the person in prison. No matter what their sin. And then on top of it die for them. I guess the question is, are we willing to die for him? Meaning, are we willing to let our sinning lives die to get closer to him and be born again in him.

38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Mathew 10:38-39

What are we willing to do for Jesus? I think he has already done enough. And to ask him to change his rules because we think we have evolved is wrong. The slavery remark is ridicules. I go to work every day and serve a master. I am not any better than the sinner next to me. I just want sooo very much to get closer to God every day it hurts and would give up any thing for him. Even my sins. I might never reach righteousness but I owe it to my Lord and Savoir to try.


Semper Fi in Christ
Rudy

Thomas Costello said...

I could write so much on this topic, because it seems that we discuss this more than anything else in the church. I guess it is a sign of our times, and it needs to be discussed, because more and more this is the face of Christianity. Let me say this: People need to stop refering to themselves as a sin. And we as Christians need to stop refering to people as a sin. I would be upset if you called me Porny because of my past indiscresions, so why do we add to peoples shame by telling them that the way they sin is who they are. Homosexuality is not who anybody is just like Porn isn't who I am. I am not a big fan of classifying humans ingeneral. I am equally frustrated that this all took place at a "Black" Church Summit. Lets drop all of that stuff. There is no such thing as Black History Month...it is our history even if we aren't black...but i digress.
God loves everyone exactly where they are, but the moment we decide to make him Lord over our lives we no longer have the freedom to live by any standard but his. It is tough to make a credible case that homosexuality (not homosexuals) is acceptable in his sight so we need to tell people of faith that this isnot OK. Look at the way Jesus lived his life. To the people outside of the religious community he was compassionate and had grace despite their sins. We need to be the same. But inside the community of faith (the pharisees and later his own followers) it is hard to say he was anything be ruthless with them. He constantly criticized their actions and called them on their sins. So in conclusion to those out there on a journey looking for the real purpose to this life, K say come just as you are, we'll figureit out together. To those of you in the faith, you are dead to sin so how can you go on living in it?

The Rev said...

I just heard this topic on focus on the family. Let's see what a conservative Black Pastor has to say...Wellington Boone in what he calls the The Rape of the Civil Rights Movement.Wellington says he is offended as a black man that gays, or what the Bible calls sodomites, would make a civil rights issue out of their sexual preference. He calls it the rape of the civil rights movement. Wellington explains that God made him black. He cannot change the color of his skin, which to God is something good, but gays can change their lustful behavior, which to God is an abomination.

What blacks have gone through to gain their freedom relates to their culture and race. What gays are dealing with is a result of their behavioral preference and a desire for sin. Wellington indicates that there is no biological evidence that homosexuality is inherited. There is no identifiable gene for homosexuality. It is a sexual preference, not a permanent state. There are homosexuals who have converted and are now married to someone of the opposite sex. But no black person ever became a white person.

The drive of blacks for equality was called a "civil rights" movement, but the justification for striving to regain their rights was the fact that inalienable rights come from God and are guaranteed by our founding documents. Laws and practices had come into force in America that were contrary to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution with its amendments. Blacks who were oppressed had not broken any laws of nature or of nature's God. They were entitled to live as free citizens, but their just rights had been taken away from them by unjust laws. Sodomites are people who willfully break the laws of God and the laws of the land. The two situations are not at all equal.

Black Pastors Dignifying Gay Marriage

Wellington says that many blacks, including black ministers, are dignifying what the gays are saying about gay marriage instead of rejecting it outright as an abomination against God. They are ignoring Scripture. Genesis 18 and 19 tell the story of Sodom (the origin of the term "sodomy") and Gomorrah and define the illegal, perverted behavior of a same-sex relationship. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 say that homosexuality is an abomination. The list of those who will not inherit the kingdom on God in 1 Cor 6:9-14 includes homosexuals.

Wellington says if you follow the same-sex marriage to its logical conclusion, it would bring an end to our society as we know it. It would mean the annihilation of the human race. Gay marriage is the opposite of the nuclear family as God created it. God created a woman as the helper for the man (Genesis 2:22-24). The man is responsible for his wife and family. When men lie with men, and women lie with women, if they don't yield to God and stop their behavior, God gives up on them -- "for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections." (Romans 1:26)

God created the nuclear family and it is the devil's goal to disrupt the family. Gays have no right to redefine marriage or to pressure politicians to redefine it according to a definition that is contrary to God and His Word and the opposite of centuries of American jurisprudence. Adam declared in Genesis what a family should look like -- a man would leave his father and mother and the two would become one (Genesis 2:24). The weight was on the man to be responsible for his wife and home following God's creative order. Gay men are trying to justify a behavior based on lust and make it legal. Gay marriage makes a home unfit for saint or sinner. The home is to represent the relationship between Christ and the Church. There have been state laws against sodomy from the time of our founding -- Virginia in 1610; Plymouth in 1636. And the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island made sodomy a capital offense.

Where Same-Sex Marriage Has Been Legalized

Wellington says that after laws were passed to legalize same-sex relationships in Scandinavian countries, social scientists documented the effects on the deterioration of the family. In Denmark, where civil unions have been legal since 1989, sixty percent of first-born children are now born out of wedlock. In these nations there is a growing separation between the concepts of marriage and parenthood. Fewer people ever marry, including heterosexual couples, and marriage is seen as something for the pleasure of adults, not for the procreation and raising of children.

Failure of the Church

Wellington says that while proponents of the gay agenda have become more vocal, the Church has been quiet. Even when the American Psychiatric Association deleted homosexuality from its list of disorders in 1973, the Church was virtually silent. The Church has not challenged gays about their vile affections. It has not taken a stand for God according to the Scriptures; therefore, it has allowed the advance of sin, which, left unchecked, will result in the ultimate destruction of society.

Sodomy causes the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and natural and spiritual uncleanness that result in sickness, disease, and death. By contrast, Christ calls us to holiness and a consecrated lifestyle. We are called to be like Jesus in every thought, word, and deed. "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves" (Romans 1:24). "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16).

UGO4GOD said...

So, I suppose I've had a lot of opinions about this throughout my life~ Now, I think it comes back to re-learning my child-like faith~ that faith that my girls teach me and remind me of constantly...like when they see a homeless person they don't see someone who has "maybe" made bad choices...but rather they see someone who's hungry...and then they ask me and Rudy to go and feed them...looking at us like...duh, don't just look at him, feed him... it's so simple...So, I'll have to ask them what they think about a "homosexual" person being in church...and I would hope as their mom that they would say something to the effect of: "are they saved? do they know Jesus? if they don't know mommy, go and tell them, mom...that they are loved...and when they know that, really know that, they will see that God will be in the details of their life...and that it really isn't my job...I don't need to be in their details...It's not my job to "change" them...but love them as we are commanded to do...God will take care of the rest. God's commandments are meant to bring hope and a prosperous future...not to do harm...but if gay/straight whomever doesn't have a relationship with a loving God...then the commandments make no sense. So, if this church is going to bring all people to have a relationship with Christ, praise God! If this church is going to turn away people from Christ, then I hope they find JESUS in a different church or a different way~
Thank you JESUS for your amazing grace that reigns.
Lori

ben said...

This is a very tough issue that is simplified completely by the words of Christ himself..."Let he without sin cast the first stone."

We (as followers of Christ) are not to judge others, that is God's job and judgement is his/hers/its alone.

To ignore homosexuality is not the answer either, but if you really examine the words and actions of Christ; perhaps bringing attention to it may not be the answer either.
To paraphrase one of the fellows who claimed at one time to be more popular than Jesus Christ; Can we "whisper words of wisdom" from the bible, yet simply "Let it be" and let God be the judge?

If Sin is Sin is Sin and all Sins are judged the same; I do not want to be judged by anyone other than God for a nature (of sin) that I was born into either.

Great topic bro

Jeremy said...

I hadn't tried to gather my opinions on this matter before now, but after reading the comments above mine I'd say that I identify with what Thomas has said.

A side note, (a dumb jokey one) didn't Michael Jackson change from black to white? or is he still 'black on the inside'?

Thomas Costello said...

This is a first. Someone agreed with me on Jimmy's Blog. Thought it would never happen. Guess I have to find a new place to be rejected over and over again.

jimmy said...

No Thomas, I promise the rejection will resume momentarily...

First, let me say that I didn't post the story because I agree with it in its entirety, but to start the discussion.

For the sake of this discussion I will call people that have same sex attraction homosexuals. They sometimes refer to themselves and each other as "queer" but somehow I doubt that they would appreciate me calling them by that name. Also for the sake of this argume... I mean discussion, let's assume that homosexual activity is a sin.

I understand that the goal of every follower of Christ (even homosexual followers of Christ) is to live without sin, but can any of us claim to have acheived this? Of course not. We will commit sins. No matter how hard we try. It's almost like the very thing we don't want to do, we end up doing (that reminds me of a verse somewhere, Apostle Paul I think. Surely he didn't have problems with sin?). And even if we could completely avoid sin then it would be all about us and our strength and would effectively make grace a moot point. So if it was really about us "buckling down" and "just not sinning" then why did Jesus have to die anyway?

Anyway, assuming this is a sin, shouldn't the church be accepting of these sinners? That's what the church is all about right? We accept sinners, right? Why do we make these particular sinners feel uncomfortable in our churches? Why do we speak out about these sins with more fervor than other sins?
Thomas and I have had many discussions about the "ranking" of sins, and which ones are "worse" but I kind of think that sin is sin.

Jesus never said anything specifically about homosexuality, but he did specifically say that divorce and re-marriage was a sin. Jesus actually said that if you divorce and re-marry you are comitting the sin of adultery! Why do we not speak about this sin in our churches?
Is it just that this sin is much more pallatable to our tastes?
In our church we celebrated a 30 year anniversary today. During the service Thomas asked, "can anyone beat 30 years?" One man replied, "between both my wives?" And good hearty laughs were had by all.
Is that real? Did we really laugh at sin? Oh yes, we laughed, at this one, but not the other sin, not the bad sin...

That is one example of a sin that has become so accepted by the prevailing culture that the church wouldn't dare speak up about it.

Do we really get the luxury of picking which sins we are willing to deal with in our congregants, or should we show the same level of acceptance and love to all sinners?

Erin M. said...

I thought I'd butt in and point out that Jesus did say (in Matthew 19:9) that divorce due to unfaithfulness was acceptable and not considered a sin.

Also... How many gay jokes have you (or anyone else) made in their lifetime? Seriously, I think we take it just as lightly if not more so.

jimmy said...

Granted, but remarriage was still considered adultery if I'm not mistaken.

Also, "The Rev", in your comment you said, "Wellington says he is offended as a black man that gays, or what the Bible calls sodomites, would make a civil rights issue out of their sexual preference."

Rev, I'm not sure if it was you, or Reverend Wellington that was saying that the Bible refers to gays as "Sodomites" but I wanted to point out that the term "Sodomite" was only used in the Bible to refer to the people who lived in the city of Sodom. This term was not used to refer to any particular sin, or group of sinners.

Also, people assume that Sodom was destroyed because of homosexual sin, this is not the case.
Sodom was destroyed because it was "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." Ezekiel 16:49

So, it could be said that Sodomites are people that are arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, and unhelpful.

Sister Mary Hasta said...

First of all, what are you doing up so late commenting on my blog, young man? :D

Let's not discuss why I'm up late to get the comments, it involves a Russian Orthodox, an agnostic, and a double espresso...

Second of all, I really, honestly and truly, wonder what would happen if churches threw wide the doors and said, "Hi, you're gay! That's nice, here's a cookie and a cup of coffee, let me tell you about my relatonship with Jesus and how you, too, can have a relationship with Jesus. We're going to bless your long-term, committed relationship with your partner, and really strongly suggest you don't have sex outside of one of these blessed, committed relationships."

I have a sneaking suspicion one thing wouldn't happen and two things would: First of all, the roof of the church will not fall in. Then, I have a feeling that the 'gay culture' of promiscuity for the sake of promiscuity would lessen (heck, we can't even keep all heterosexuals from promiscuity), and the pews would fill up, not just with homosexuals, but with all sorts of hurting people of any orientation who really need to feel the love of Christ.

But that's just my kooky thoughts.

Jeremy said...

Two thoughts. Surely to be a christian you need to have a desire to live as sinless as possible? If homosexuals are accepted into the church and left to continue their lives as they were then the sin is embraced and even celebrated?

Secondly, isn't homosexuality also included in the 'no sex before marriage' scriptures? If you accept the homosexual practice in the church then are you also accepting sexual activity before marriage?

Erin M said...

Are you saying that our God would want a woman to stay with a husband that tries to beat her to death, or consistently cheats on her? Or if she leaves, she doesn't deserve to experience what real love between a man and a woman feels like? I'm sorry, I can't see it that way.

Are you/we honestly going to ignore the fact that it is quite popular (even considered humorous by some) to crack jokes about homosexuality? How many guys do we know who are guilty of the occassional "flamer" voice and pretending to want another man. Even women do that now. It's not right, I'll admit that, but it happens all the time does it not? How is that not making light of sin?
And Jesus may have not outright called homosexuality a sin. But Paul sure did. And I thought he was a pretty popular person to debate on. He specifically lists homosexuality on a list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9, it reads "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulters nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders...." It goes on from there. But there it is, pretty clear isn't it? Yes, sin is sin, but do we accept it? I'm not talking about slam dunking people who struggle with homosexuality, that falls under loving the sinner but not the sin, which is something God calls us to do. But when the church begins to embrace the sin, to support homosexual unions and look at them the same as a marriage. That's when I see it going all wrong. It is a perversion, just like any other sin. So why glorify it? I'm appalled by the liberal standpoint of many churches today, don't they know that God holds them to a higher standard?
Paul also speaks about homosexuality in Romans 1:18-32.
Why should people get to be comfortable in their sin at church? We don't say "Oh he/she was born a liar, a thief, an adultress, a murderer... that's just the way God made them." That would be absurd! Why then is it okay to say that about this particular sexual sin? Because it's popular now? Because we live in California and it's a rough place to stand firm against such things? God forbid we get a taste of what persecution really feels like, right?
I shudder for my fellow believers the day we start accepting these things (again, the sin, not the people) as "okay".
We all struggle with sin, it's the curse of our disobediance but as Christians we are NOT bound by it nor encourage others to be bound by it.
I refuse to let this fall through the cracks of apathy.

UGO4GOD said...

I think satan has a great big smile on his face. See the more we argue about sin and who can and can't be in our churches more people are dying and going to hell. Let's stop talking about who can get into our church and start worryng about who doesn't know Jesus. It makes me sick how we focus on our christain clubs we call church.... when even Jesus can't get in. Most everyone who we pass by on a daily basis are hurting becuase the are a slave to sin. Jesus said to GO and make disciples. Not bring them to church and hope someone else will save them.
Also if you think the gates to our churches are narrow.... I think there is a scipture somewhere about how narrow the gate to heaven is and that few will find it. Get out of church, put your hands to the plow and sow the field.


Semper Fi in Christ

Rudy

ron said...

If we are truly Christians, we are to "repent" for our sins. I'm sure we all have heard that to "repent" means to turn 180 degrees , meaning to stop what you're doing and go in the exact opposite direction.Allow homosexuals into the church? Of course, they need to be saved like everyone else. Allow them to continue the homosexual lifestyle? NO! Where's the repentance? Where's the turning and going in the opposite direction? If you want "numbers", continue to accept everyone and expect no one to change their lives and don't preach any lifestyle changes. It's the Hope Chapel way.

jimmy said...

I'm not that interested in numbers, and I've heard plenty of speaking about how you need to change your lifestyle recently! I think that we hear about sin and how bad it is a lot. I wonder what would happen if we spoke as much about living life the way we are supposed to? Instead of saying "don't do this", how about we say "do this"?
If we focus on living the life that God intended for us I think the sin would kind of "take care of itself". What would happen if we focus on the positive rather than the negative? If we see ourselves the way God sees us and live like it I think we would have much less sin problems.

Maybe it's just a silly dream.

Sister Mary Hasta said...

I like your silly dream.

Somewhere I read once, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions."

Can't remember where, exactly...


Also wonder what the young and old women will be doing. I have some ideas, but my ideas don't seem too popular.

Gina said...

"I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it--the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. You are my friends if you obey me." --Jesus

Love does not have an agenda.
How many of you heard "You are my friends if you obey me" and thought, "Yeah, THEY should obey?" Take out the plank. When is the last time you loved someone the way Jesus did or loved God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? We are ALL disobedient. Drop your stones, we ALL sin EVERY day. We've got such a long way to go. Jimmy, I thank God for your heart. Keep at it.

ron said...

In speaking on homosexuality, this is a lifestyle that people think is "living the life that they are supposed to." And do we confront and say , "No it's not." or do we hope that "someday" they will come around? If speaking the truth in love is offensive, the church needs to be more offensive.Both on the offensive & offensive for righteousness sake.Much of the church teaching now is inclusive, offending no one & effecting no one. Lukewarm, I believe Christ called it.It's Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?" Sonoma County is the "lukewarmiest" place I have ever lived. Spiritual darkness..no, spiritual greyness rules here. No power in the pulpit = no power in the people. Someday, the gifts of the Spirit will be taught in power and truth here and people will say, "Why haven't we heard this before?" Some pastors that tried to change hearts and lives in this county in the past saw the "greyness", wore themselves down trying and left when they couldn't affect the change they knew was needed. Now, most pastors "adapt", meaning they fit the culture instead of affecting the culture. The church is "California cool", which translates "lukewarm". God bless you who stay and try to affect change through the power of the Holy Spirit. For those who choose to continue to play church, there's coffee and pastries in the back, 25 minutes of bulletin announcements that you are incapable of reading yourself,and 5 minutes of unoffensive spiritual content that only took 2 hours to put into Powerpoint ( "I know nobody brings their Bible anymore so I've included every scripture verse I'll use. Just follow the bouncing Bible.")

Crissi said...

I know this topic is being beaten to death, but I have one more thing to add....

Romans 14
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written:
" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.' " So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Erin M. said...

There is still something to be said for accountablity. Yes it comes down to you and God on judgement day, but in the mean time... Here on earth. We are still accountable for what we do. Christianity has never been a "let sleeping dogs lie" kind of deal. Our example is Jesus and I hardly think he's shown himself to be one who keeps quite about sin. If I recall correctly he thrashed some money changers stuff and kicked them out of the temple for their disrespect, that's just one example. Yes he was always perfect, but that didn't mean looking the other way and keeping his mouth shut just so he didn't "offend" or seem "judgemental" to someone. Why are we so worried about what the world thinks when that's not who we answer to?

I also don't understand why no one can bother to answer any of the questions posed here, by myself and other's, directly. Is it really that offensive or hard to answer?

If you're a leader, then lead.

jimmy said...

Erin, I've never claimed to have all the answers. Many times when I' am trying to figure out exactly where I stand on an issue, especially a hot button issue, I will get involved in a discussion about the issue. That was the intent of the post. I appreciate the discussion that has gone on so far.
I do want to be more like Jesus. I do want to speak the truth in love. I do want to love on sinners the way that Jesus did.

Relating to the passage that Child in faith posted, I can say that I am certain that I will answer to God for My sins, not yours, nor anyone elses'. The part of the passage that says, "So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another." seems pretty clear.

Conviction is not my job.

I brought this up to start a discussion. I think this has been fruitful. I pray that I haven't offended you Erin, or anyone else either. I'm looking for the right way to be the best follower of Jesus I can be, as I'm sure you are too.

grace and peace, jimmy

Erin M. said...

So far I haven't gotten any kind of answer. Every time it deviates from the question, there is no attempt or thought. I didn't expect you to be some know it all. But an attempt might have meant something. I was not aware that this issue was so complex, it's in the Bible. What's the huge hang up? Is that suddenly not the word of God?
We wouldn't agonize this much over murder for goodness sake.

Sister Mary Hasta said...

I'm honestly wondering, Erin, who put you in charge of this matter, why you care so much about someone else's sin.

We wouldn't agonize this much over murder? What about a woman who killed the man about to strangle her child? What about a man who killed a woman who was feeding drugs to him? What about a woman who killed the woman who was beating on her? What about the child who was playing with a loaded gun and shot his friend in the head? That child deserves the death penalty, right? Because God Says So.

There are more things on heaven and Earth, Horatio.

jimmy said...

Erin, like I said, I haven't got it all figured out and I'm trying to find my way too. You asked if I've made gay jokes, or "flamer voices", yes, I have. I'm trying to keep myself from doing that kind of thing.
You asked if I thought that God would want a woman to stay with a man who was beating her, or if I really thought that she shoudln't remarry. My point in bringing up the re-marriage issue is that this is one of the rules that Jesus did specifically talk about. On this topic you said, "I'm sorry, I just don't see it that way." So just because you don't see it that way it's OK for this particular sin to go on without accountability, or without the church speaking up about it? That is exactly my point Erin, you proved my point. I'm talking about equal opportunity acceptance of sinners.
I have a friend who divorced (not because of unfaithfulness) and then remarried. When I see him should I remind him, "oh, by the way, according to Jesus' own words you are currently living in adultery"? Of course not.
Erin, if you are the same Erin I think you are, you are involved in classical dance, ballet. I know from visiting your website and looking at the comments section that you are friends with another ballet dancer who is a gay man. Do you remind him that his lifestyle is a perversion every time you talk to him? I doubt it. If you did I don't think that he would come back to hear anything at all from you. I think it's great that you have a relationship with him and I hope that the love of Christ shows through your life, and I hope that it will spark some sort of interest in this young man. Hopefully he will ask you someday, "Erin, tell me about this whole God thing, it seems to make such a difference in your life." I don't think the best way to propogate the gospel is to beat people over the head with the sin that they struggle with.

You also mentioned that even though Jesus didn't say anything specifically that Paul did. I have been reading a lot on this topic because, like I said, I've been trying to figure it all out. Theologians have different opinions on what exactly Paul was referring to in these passages. There is some debate that Paul was speaking directly to a pagan temple practice that involved pedophilia and that his words didn't relate to a committed, monogamous relationship between two people. I'm not a biblical scholar, and I don't read Greek so I don't know exactly what Paul meant in these passages. But I'm reading everything I can find on this subject because I think it's an important issue that the church needs to deal with. Personally, I think that the church's response to the "gay issue" has been very poor. It seems that the church would rather make gay people so uncomfortable within the walls of the church that they won't come back. Out of sight, out of mind. "Oh well, we spoke the truth and they didn't want to hear it so it's their bad." It's so much easier than actually dealing with people and their issues in a loving and compassionate way. That's just too much work!
I think that the people of the church need to talk openly about this issue and come up with a loving, compassionate, God-honoring response.

I had two family members that were gay men. They have both died of AIDS. At the time of their deaths they were both completely estranged from the church and anyone having anything to do with the church. They would have nothing to do with God, or any of His people, because of the way they were treated by the church. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if someone from the church had shown them unconditional love and acceptance. I wonder if they would have made peace with God before they died?

Thomas Costello said...

SO much has all ready been said here but that has not left me with nothing to say. Let me say a few things.
1. I am not a fan of tossing atround the old "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" arguement here because no one to my knowledge is advocating the stoning of homosexuals. Recognizing sin is and speaking up about it is something completly different from casting stones. In fact I believe that recognizing sin is exactly what Jesus did with his "Go and sin no more" conclusion to the account we are all familiar with. So by that token, we are most like Christ when we call people on there sin and instruct them to get out of it.
2. My mission in life can be boiled down to multiplying and magnifying God's worship. When I apply my life mission statement to this scenario I am going to do two things. I am going to love people just as they are to multiply the worship of God. I am also going to call people to go and sin no more because I believe that Our God is worshiped when we live according to his standards. With the Homosexuality issue I encourage you all to love them exactly where they are but also add to God's worship by encouraging them to live a lifestyle of worship which is free (I should say as free as possible) of sin. Please join me in doing exactly that.
3. Understanding the Bible can be so hard in this day and age because Jimmy is right there is a brilliant person on each side of the aisle telling you the opposite about each passage of scripture. There are smart mormons, JW's, Pentacostals, Baptists, and even smart people who believe the di vinci code to be fact (well maybe not on the last one). We need to seek the Lord on this stuff and prayerfully read the word of God. We all need to know that we ourselves will be held accountable to God for the decisions we make regarding this issue. If you are stoning Gays then watch out. But if you are preaching acceptance of a Gay lifestyle, I would watch out too. No matter what we do we can expect to be held accountable, so choose wisely.

Erin M. said...

Thomas, that is where I was trying to go but without the eloquence with which you just put it. Thank you, really.

Jimmy, I didn't announce that I had a gay friend because it isn't some Christian badge I try to wear "look I know what I'm talking about because I associate with this guy." if we're going to do that then let's consider that my father is on his 3rd marriage now. Maybe I know something of divorce as well. Maybe I know something about being treated like total crap by the church, gee.. That's been happening for the past 7 years, and yes it has been from different leaders of Hope Chapel from all of the branches in this area. But we're not swapping scars here. We don't have the kind of relationship where these issues would come up and I would share what's happened to me. Nate and I are friends because when he told me he was gay and asked what I thought, I was honest. I told him that what he was doing was not right. The guy still claims Christianity to this day, how are we still friends? Because he knows where I stand and I know where he stands and we don't go there anymore. I don't feel badly for telling him the truth, because I do honestly still love him to death and he knows that. The other gay men I've known weren't Christians, I don't try to hold them to that standard. If they were to ask my thoughts on the issue I'd give them to them.

*sigh*

Jeff Nash said...

I cannot be told by another Christian that this is something that I "chose," or along those lines. Why the hell would anyone choose to live a life that is so lonesome and leads to nothing but degrading remarks from most others?

I can also not be told that I need to "pray more" or "become closer to God." Those who say such things have no idea how much time I spent on my knees, those nights spent crying and begging God to take this away, or those nights spent out in the desert just screaming at God at the top of my lungs for failing to completely make me into this "new creation" that several of my brothers and sisters in Christ promised me. No matter how much we pray or how much we read Scripture or how intimately we try to commune with God, we will never on this earth come close to the level of intimacy with God that Adam had in the Garden with God. God and Adam were there, together, talking face to face and sharing time. Even in that closest intimacy with God that any man has ever experienced, God still said, "It is not good for man to be alone." God recognized this need for companionship, for relationship, and held Adam, His creation, in his heart when he created a partner, Eve, for him to be with. This was the natural order of things, and I do believe that heterosexual relationships are the only intended natural order of things. However, sin did enter this world shortly thereafter, and I believe that sin has become so entrenched in the very fabric of human existance that it does cause some people to be born with a different agenda, a different orientation that is woven into their fabric.

I am one of those people.

I cannot turn from it. Yes, I have heard stories and heard testimonies of how people have been turned from homosexuality by God's grace. I do believe that that miraculous redemption from sin was part of God's plan for some, but not for everyone. I do believe if God had intended to remove homosexuality from my life that he would have done it by now. But now I do believe that God has allowed it to remain, to be a reminder to me of how much I need him and to use as a reminder of how I can help others. As a Christian homosexual, I think God has called me to a particular ministry and service that some people will not understand.

I do not expect them to. It is not for them.

Still, I know there are people who will look at this just now and tell me it is because of my lack of faith that I am not "healed." They will say I put God in a box, or I put a time limit on God's work. Oh anything but, my Brothers and Sisters. I am confident that God can and will use this in ways that even the most visionary of you cannot and willnot imagine. And if it is because of a lack of faith, then I must tell you that, according to Scripture, that is not for you to judge, not even on the sidelines, disguised as duitful discernment. If one of you is to claim the gift of prophecy and tell me that God will save me from this hideous sin, do so fully aware that God's judgement may fall on you if your words prove in error. No, if it is an issue of lack of faith then that is something that I will personally be faced by God about, and which I will be very, very, sorry for. But no less, I do have redemption in Christ, even if Christ Himself someday points out to me how things could have been different, had I prayed so intensely just a little bit longer. But even in all that, in all that lack of faith that you presume, how then does that justify you, the Church, in your lack of love? Are you not called to love the least of these? Where will my relationship with Christ come to your defense when Christ asked you why you withdrew His love from the people whom you were surrounded?

I do not know if the way my life is going is correct. But I have to move, and decide what this all means and continue moving, lest I let Satan wrap my life around his finger even tighter by doing nothing but contemplating theology and interpetation of Scripture for the rest of my life.

I would be of no service to anyone.

And it is of a life of service I am called to, not to a life of judgeing others. Perhaps the homosexual could put his life to better use then the Pharisee.

ben said...

I was going to send my brother this personal email but I decided to post it here instead.


You lit a fire bro, that "gays in the church" discussion on your blog is really going off, lots and lots of great points from all around...but, sadly, still too much condemnation and judgementality coming from the standpoint of "pointing out sin"..., what happened to the Holy Spirit? We don't need him anymore? To me, "pointing out sin" equals gossip at all times EXCEPT for where the sin is being pointed out to the person/people/group in question...anything else is pomposity and chest-thumping in the name of God...I think Jesus called these types of people out on the carpet for their public prayers and street corner holiness exercises...what a load of shit. The church needs a reformation now more than ever...where is this generations Martin Luther with hammer, nail and cut-through-the-BS-letter to the masses?

Personally, I'm more accepting of gay people now than I've ever been, especially where my faith is involved, probably because I have found humility and brokeness in my spiritual life with Christ and I know that my sin is no lesser but also no greater than any other sin...homosexuality especially so in the case of these latest discussions.
True, If it's sin, than let's see it as sin, and let God judge it...Just as God will judge me for every sin that is a part of me and the nature I was born into.

How dare we try and judge the severity and/or level of sin? Who do we think we are anyhow?
We cheapen Christ's sacrifice with these types of discussions...he died ONCE and for ALL sin, and if that's not enough than Jesus died in vain and we should all be judged for our sin in a pre-John 3:16 world.

Shame on all of us, we've missed the point entirely.

jimmy said...

Jeff, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I appreciate the insight from the "other side" of this conversation.

Erin, I'm sorry for the hurts you have experienced in the church. I'm glad that you have continued in your relationship with Nate. This is exactly what I think more Christians should be doing. Love without an agenda.

Thomas Costello said...

Jeff,
I am so sorry you have to go through this life dealing with this issue. I can't imagine how difficult it must be. It seemed to me that you have a tough time understnding why people in the church would say you choose this lifestyle. I think that many of us believe that you deal with nothing more than a sin. As I said in an earlier we are reluctant to use the term Gay or homosexual because it identifies you with your sin. Instead we see it as someone walking out there life who has a temptation to sin everyday. In that sense it has to be a choice. No one (well i guess some do, so I speak for myself here) is saying that you have chosen to take on this temptation, but like all sins we believe it to be a choice weather or not to commit each act. I didn't choose to be heterosexual but each time I participate in a heterosexual act it is still a choice.
Let me finish with a statement in regards to jeff's post but directed at every one of us. Don't ever assume you are done growing. I don't care if you are 17 or 77, God is still working you and has giant plans that start with the inside. Don't ever assume that you will never be able change. If you are fat (as I am) don't ever resign yourself to being fat for life. Don't give up. If you deal with porn adiction don't give up. If you deal with homosexuality, don't give up. My favorite quote is by Smith Wigglesworth and he says "If you are the same today as you were yesterday, you are backsliding."
I have prayed and will keep praying for you Jeff.

Wasteland Ministries said...

Aw, I'm such an awful hippy. I just want to tell everyone I love them and give them a big hug.

I am pretty sure that should be a constant in my relationships here on this side of the sky.

Everything else: I take it one person at a time. I like to think I am like ... a custom builder when it comes to relationships.

One size doesn't fit all, and I just have to listen to the holy spirit the best I can and set my heart to do the best I can and let God sort out the rest.