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3379Re: Digest Number 384

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  • nyguy_1225
    Feb 3, 2005
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      <<I will also argue that their sincerity and well-intentions are
      undermined by their interest to defend and promote religious
      fundamentalism.>>

      I agree with much of what you said. And as you know all too well, I
      would be the very first to admit that far too many hold to antigay
      theology for all sorts of unethical reasons.

      Perhaps most significant of these is the fact that evangelicals have
      been notoriously prone to withdrawing financial support from
      organizations that demonstrate even the slightest open-mindedness to
      this question. As a Jewish believer, I've witnessed this time and
      again over the past 20+ years with rabbis and other Jewish leaders
      I've spoken and met with who were unable to demonstrate even the
      slightest open-mindedness to Christ as Messiah, knowing it would
      almost certainly have meant their financial and social ruin,
      destroying not only their careers but their standing in the Jewish
      community as well. I dare say Christians and especially Christian
      leaders are in a similar position and under similar pressure.

      For some, their Bible institute teachers may not have known better.
      But there are other better educated evangelicals who should and some
      cases do know better. Some deny, without any basis, the information
      referenced in the much scholarly research that's been done on this
      issue. And some are obviously not above intellectual dishonesty and
      chauvinism, often exercised under political and economic pressures.

      As F.F. Bruce candidly observed in a `Christianity Today'
      article: "A [biblical scholar or Christian leader] who always has to
      be looking over his shoulder, lest someone who is in a position to
      harm him [in terms of "personal comfort, income and the like"] may
      be breathing down his neck, has to watch his step." Bruce says that
      he was fortunate enough to always earn his living as a biblical
      scholar employed by a non-religiously affiliated university. Very
      few evangelical scholars and leaders are so fortunate.

      However, what I don't hear in your post, or in most of the others
      that appeared this week, is an acknowledgment that there are also
      many innocent and sincere people who ascribe to anti-gay theology
      because they sincerely believe it to be the truth of scripture. I
      think if we're going to be fair and balanced it's critical that we
      acknowledge that these people exist too. When we do not, can not,
      or will not acknowledge this, we stifle, if not completely being to
      a halt, opportunity for open and respectful dialog among us. And
      that hurts everyone.

      -Alex


      --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, "Norm" <nojam75@y...> wrote:
      >
      > James' and Alex's discussion about the chracterization and motives
      > of "ex-gay" promoters and participants has been interesting. I
      try
      > to be fair when characterizing the few "ex-gay" leaders I've met
      by
      > describing "ex-gay" people as sincere, well-meaning people of
      > faith. I don't believe most "ex-gay" promoters hate gay people
      > (i.e. "Love the sinner, hate the sin).
      >
      > However, I will also argue that their sincerity and well-
      intentions
      > are undermined by their interest to defend and promote religious
      > fundamentalism. I also argue that the "ex-gay" movement
      contributes
      > to a literal homophobia -- not by hating gay people, but by
      > negatively stigamatizing anything associated with homosexuality.
      >
      > I have to agree with James' point that fear is a major motivation
      of
      > the "ex-gay" movement and fundamentalist Christianity. I believe
      > that the desire of most "ex-gay" participants is to confront their
      > fear of being a "bad Christian" and find a way to control their
      > sexuality and ultimately control their spirituality.
      >
      > Although I recognize Alex's description of the "fear of God"
      > = "reverence and awe" in the conservative Christianity I was
      raised,
      > I struggle to dismiss the idea that there wasn't a more basic fear
      > underlying my and most other Christians' faith. It's hard to
      > explain-away fear as "reverence" when you also believe in eternal
      > hell/seperation from God.
      >
      > Norm!
      >
      >
      > --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, JC <roo7861@y...> wrote:
      > > I feel like my point has been totally misunderstood.
      > >
      > > I never implied (and certainly did not mean to) that people who
      do
      > not believe that Christianity and homosexuality are compatible are
      > not loving, sincere, well-meaning, etc. Many of them most
      certainly
      > are. I have known scores of them. But their need to control
      others
      > does not issue from a place of spiritual wholeness. Anytime any
      of
      > us try to manipulate or control (even if we genuinely believe that
      > we are being led by the Spirit), we are somehow less than we could
      > be, and less than we ought to be. That could also be said of me
      if
      > I tried to manipulate or control someone who thought my sexuality
      > was sinful.
      > >
      > > I was in no way casting a blanket judgment on those who disagree
      > with me (like my own, dearly loved parents with whom I have a
      > wonderful relationship). But I do stand by my original point that
      > the desire to control is based in fear and fear is based in
      > something less than God's best for us.
      > >
      > > James
      > >
      > > nyguy_1225 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
      > >
      > > That may have been your experience which is valid and to be
      > > respected. But to imply that was or is the experience for
      > everyone
      > > would be an error. I was not only an "ex-gay" Christian but I
      was
      > > an "ex-gay" ministry leader. In that capacity I got to know
      > scores
      > > and scores of gay Christian people who through a variety of
      > > circumstances had come to know a powerful and loving God and
      > > sincerely wanted to walk "rightly" before Him and were led to
      > > believe that Christianity and homosexuality were incompatible.
      It
      > > was a community of caring and sincere people who were seeking
      > after
      > > God with honest and genuine hearts. I know that because I was
      one
      > > of them.
      > >
      > > Becoming a Christian for me was life-changing experience in many
      > > positive ways. And God placed wonderful and sincere Christians
      in
      > > my life as a new believer who enveloped me with the love of
      Christ
      > > and did everything they could to help me get firmly planted in
      the
      > > faith. And I, like a sponge, soaked up everything I could from
      > > them. And since they were loving and God-seeking people they
      > taught
      > > me wonderful things about God and the Bible. But they also told
      > me
      > > that one could not be both gay and Christian. They
      > didn't "clobber"
      > > me with Lev 18:22 or the few other passages often used to
      endorse
      > > antigay theology. They were loving people. But they shared
      with
      > me
      > > what they had been taught about these passages from those who
      > taught
      > > them Christianity. And since the statements seemed clear enough
      > on
      > > the surface neither of us had reason at the time to question
      them
      > > further or to better understand the historical context or
      > situations
      > > and circumstances to which they were written. The simple fact
      is
      > I
      > > took my Christianity seriously and wanted to walk obediently to
      an
      > > awesome, loving, gracious and merciful God -- like a child would
      > > want to do with a loving father. Once I came to see, however,
      > that
      > > anti-gay theology rested entirely on a prejudicial and
      uninformed
      > > reading of Scripture rather than sound exegesis and it did not
      > > reflect the heart of God or his word, I had the courage to not
      > only
      > > embrace this for myself but to teach it to others. And frankly,
      > > I've seen scores of people, both straight and gay, slowly change
      > > their thinking on this issue when given the chance to look
      closer
      > > and more deeply.
      > >
      > > Some of us understand "the fear of God," a phrase we repeatedly
      > come
      > > upon in the Bible, not as a cowering terror, dread and
      trepidation
      > > before a vengeful, ruthless and hardhearted God, but rather as a
      > > reverent awe of an incredibly loving and wonderful God. It
      would
      > be
      > > incorrect, if not insulting, to imply that everyone who embraced
      > > anti-gay theology did so for the same reasons you did.
      > >
      > > -Alex
      > >
      > >
      > > --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, JC <roo7861@y...> wrote:
      > > > Sorry Alex, I cannot agree here. I do believe that many of us
      > > held onto anti-gay ideologies out of fear. I know I certainly
      > did.
      > > I was scared to death of what might happen to me should I open
      my
      > > mind for a second to the idea that I could be Christian and
      gay.
      > > What I (willingly) believed (anti gay theology) was a way for me
      > > to 'feel in control' of a situation that was definitely out of
      my
      > > control. It was *only* when I let go of my own need to control;
      > > when I fell back into the arms of God, not at all sure that I
      > would
      > > be caught; that I experienced true freedom and started to come
      > into
      > > the light.
      > > >
      > > > I put us all in the same boat. We are *all* fear-driven
      > > creatures, grasping at those things that we can never have.
      This
      > > remains true for me and I suspect will while I am alive on this
      > > earth. I am not judging the anti-gay Christian any more than I
      > > judge myself for my (current) inabilities to 'let go and let
      God.'
      > > >
      > > > And I do believe that perfect love casts out all fear - every
      > time.
      > > >
      > > > Peace,
      > > > James
      > > >
      > > > nyguy_1225 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > <<Sorry guys... but I cannot even "come to the table" with the
      > > idea
      > > > that anti-gay Christians are often very well intentioned. They
      > may
      > > > *believe* that they are, but that does not make it so. Their
      > > actions
      > > > are based in the desire to control; and this desire to control
      > is
      > > > based in fear. "Perfect love casts out all fear.">>
      > > >
      > > > Not all the time. Let's remember that most, if not all, of us
      > > were
      > > > also anti-gay Christians at one time. We were Christians who
      > were
      > > > misled and believed the lie that any and all expressions of
      > > > homosexuality were categorically incompatible with
      > Christianity.
      > > We
      > > > believed this lie because we believed that the people who
      taught
      > > it
      > > > to us knew what they were talking about. We didn't believe it
      > and
      > > > hold on to this theology for reasons of malice or control. We
      > > > believed it because we sincerely believed at the time that it
      > was
      > > > the truth.
      > > >
      > > > Fortunately, when we realized Christian hostility towards
      > > > homosexuality and homosexual relationships rests entirely on a
      > > > prejudicial and uninformed reading of Scripture rather than
      > God's
      > > > revealed word, we adjusted our thinking and our theology. But
      > if
      > > > you can't "come to the table" with the idea that some anti-gay
      > > > Christians are very well intentioned, you're not being
      objective
      > > or
      > > > fair. If we all bought into it, and we have personal
      > experiential
      > > > knowledge of being gay, and it took many of us a long time to
      > > > realize that anti-gay theology is not biblically sound, how
      much
      > > > more difficult is it for those who have no personal
      experiential
      > > > knowledge of being gay to see the errors of their theology.
      > Don't
      > > > put them all in a box. You'd only be guilty of doing the same
      > > thing
      > > > that many of them erroneously do to us.
      > > >
      > > > -Alex
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, JC <roo7861@y...>
      wrote:
      > > > > Sorry guys... but I cannot even "come to the table" with the
      > > idea
      > > > that anti-gay Christians are often very well intentioned.
      They
      > > may
      > > > *believe* that they are, but that does not make it so. Their
      > > > actions are based in the desire to control; and this desire to
      > > > control is based in fear. "Perfect love casts out all fear."
      > > > >
      > > > > Having grown up in a fundamentalist family, and having been
      > > > educated in an evangelical college and seminary, I say from my
      > own
      > > > experience that some of our more conservative brothers and
      > sisters
      > > > are often not ready to let God do the saving of individuals
      and
      > of
      > > > the creation. There is this need to manipulate that is based
      in
      > > > doubt and fear and not the sovereignty of God.
      > > > >
      > > > > When I rest in the idea that Jesus is the Lord of all, then
      I
      > > let
      > > > go of my own desires to control what does not belong to me.
      > > > >
      > > > > My Two Cents,
      > > > > James
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > nyguy_1225 <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > <<If you were to be able to just take every viewpoint he has
      > > > (except
      > > > > his view on homosexuality), you would have to conclude that
      he
      > > is
      > > > > pro-family, pro-God, and advocates love. I challenge you to
      > > remove
      > > > > his viewpoint on homosexuality and see if you would not
      agree
      > > with
      > > > > his position on most everything else. If not, then who is
      > > > following
      > > > > Christ's teaching and who is not?>>
      > > > >
      > > > > Jerry, take a closer look. The arguments of the anti-gay
      > folks,
      > > > > like Dobson, are often very well-intentioned, but their
      goals
      > > and
      > > > > objectives seem to be different from those of Jesus. The
      > > > arguments
      > > > > have to do with very secular concerns: control over chaos,
      > > > majority
      > > > > rule, fear of the other, fear of the unknown, and an
      > > idealization
      > > > of
      > > > > a family unit that Jesus himself never lived or idealized.
      > > > >
      > > > > -Alex
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, "Jerry"
      <BearJER@J...>
      > > > wrote:
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Once again my point was proven over and over again because
      a
      > > > > person cannot express anything but left-wing views on this
      > site
      > > > > without being attacked. Do you think Jesus would respond in
      > > such
      > > > a
      > > > > fashion? Definitely not! You talk about James Dobson
      > spreading
      > > > > hate? How so? For a person to speak about his
      understanding
      > of
      > > > > what the Bible teaches is not hatred, unless it contains
      > hatred
      > > in
      > > > > words or deeds. It may be wrong, but it is not hatred
      unless
      > he
      > > > > hates people and advocates hatred. I see no evidence of
      that
      > at
      > > > all
      > > > > in what he teaches. If you were to be able to just take
      every
      > > > > viewpoint he has (except his view on homosexuality), you
      would
      > > > have
      > > > > to conclude that he is pro-family, pro-God, and advocates
      > love.
      > > I
      > > > > challenge you to remove his viewpoint on homosexuality and
      see
      > > if
      > > > > you would not agree with his position on most everything
      > else.
      > > If
      > > > > not, then who is following Christ's teaching and who is not?
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Jerry
      > > > > >
      > > > > >
      > > > > > THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH: Jesus said it: "Do unto others as
      you
      > > > would
      > > > > have them do unto you."
      > > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
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