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Being gay at church

William Crawley | 10:18 UK time, Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Irish Peace Centres have released the report "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Communites' Experiences of Faith and Church in Northern Ireland" (read the report in full here). We've asked Pádraig Ó Tuama, from Irish Peace Centres, to introduce the report. Please feel free to discuss the report on this thread and, if you feel comfortable, to share your experiences too.


I was speaking with a church leader about this report yesterday. He said to me "I'm sure it'll be a damning condemnation of the church". Actually, it isn't. It is a multi-layered report that represents many different experiences of church and faith. Many of the most difficult stories are made more difficult because the people who had been asked to leave churches loved that church. At times it is full of love, and at other times, that love is full of sadness.

Dr Claire Mitchell & Dr. Gail McConnell have written a compelling piece of research. The stories speak of the lived-reality of what is sometimes called the "gay debate". Participants describe having to come out as gay to their Christian friends, and come at as Christian to their gay friends. The participants speak of how they wish to be named, and how they wish to be treated. The participants define themselves, with their own words, and with their own faith stories. The participants tell the stories of what it's like to be on the receiving end of "Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner".

Why is a peace organisation like the Irish Peace Centres concerning itself with questions of LGBT discussions with Religious leadership? Part of the answer comes from the priorities set by the SEUPB, who tasked IPC to address divides - the traditional ones, as well as emerging "social and psychological divides".

At the end of his year as moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rev. Dr. Norman Hamilton spoke with Alan Meban about religious conservatism in Northern Ireland. His words are enlightening. "There's just an in-built conservatism in our DNA and I think that has been accentuated by the Troubles. The need to be protective of who we are and what we stand for."

Clearly some people wish for more inclusion of LGBT people, and others are dismayed by it. What interests me is the following question - how do we speak with each other?

What has often passed for public discourse has been little more than the mutual exchange of insult. Accusations of bigotry and perversion can be exchanged from one side to another. What is achieved through this? It seems to me that little is achieved. Furthermore, the ones who bear the fallout of this mutual exchange of insults are the ones whose lives are most affected - the ones who may have to fear for the safety of their own home, their jobs, and their relationships.

The word 'fear' is an important one. There are some who fear that society-wide inclusion of LGBT people will bring with it things that are fearsome. There are others who fear that ongoing secrecy and exclusion of LGBT will continue to affect peoples' lives detrimentally. Whatever it is that we may fear, we must talk to one another. We must find ways to speak, using our own words for ourselves, and using words to describe someone else that are generous to them, rather than insulting to them.

In this report, there is an abundance of faith. There is a deep sense of hope for inclusion and for the way forward. There is a rich sense of love - love for partners, love for faith, churches, and love for a flourishing life.

The report will be launched at 3.30pm on Wednesday 7 September at the Crescent Arts Centre. You can contact Pádraig Ó Tuama on faith@cooperationireland.org.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    It was disappointing to read in the report that people who told their pastor that they were gay were promptly dropped from performing church-related activities. As long as religion organisations retain "special status" concerning equalities legislation the situation is unlikely to much improve for members of the LGBT communities who are religious. As detailed in the report, it does seem largely to be a case of "don't ask don't tell" for them.

    This morning on Sunday Sequence Norman Hamilton appeared to have marbles in his mouth when asked whether, say, a choir member who publicly declared him or herself to be gay could continue to sing in the choir. He stock rose when he rightly criticised a minister who "outed" someone from the pulpit, but his words offered little support to those who need it most. Ministers should keep their hate-filled bile to themselves.

    I accept what he says about their being an in-built conservatism in our DNA, but if this has been accentuated by the Troubles why has the number of homophobic attacks increased in Northern Ireland since 1998? It was very disappointing to read that one NI politician used the phrase "in your face poofters" - this points less to conservatism and more to unbridled contempt for the lives of others.

  • Comment number 2.

    In exactly the same way as being a truly loving parent does not consist in giving children only burgers, chips and ice-cream, it is not the task of a truly loving Church to merely tell people what they "want" to hear. Not that ANY Church has been infallible in its approach to all people, all the time. Everyone is entitled to respect and understanding.

  • Comment number 3.

    In this report, there is an abundance of faith. There is a deep sense of hope for inclusion and for the way forward. There is a rich sense of love - love for partners, love for faith, churches, and love for a flourishing life.

    I've read the report and the presumption seems to be that if ecclesial critics of homosexuality only understood aright they would drop their opposition. This is a rather gratuitous and question begging presumption. To which the obvious rhetorical reply is to tip the scales in the opposite direction. But not only would this be ineffective it would also be uninteresting.

    There is also a naivety with respect to a given church's response in either direction. I suspect this is owing to a general ignorance of the ecclesiastical and confessional differences between the churches mentioned, from at least the authors and perhaps, also, from the contributors to the case studies.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This might be a useful resource- Rev. Dr Mel White- ' Anti-gay rhetoric, White believes, "leads to the suffering and death of God's lesbian and gay children." '

  • Comment number 6.

  • Comment number 7.

    Re #4

    I'd like some clarification - is the Christian position, according to the Bible, on this subject now to be censored from BBC blogs? As far as I am aware, I used no inflamatory or offensive language, but simply re-stated what the Bible said, and how it relates to a local church situation.

    I thought this blog was open to all views? Is the Christian view to be excluded simply because some find it uncomfortable? I'd be interested to know.

  • Comment number 8.

    @pastorphilip

    It's pretty clear that on this blog the mods are not biased, but barking.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good post Will and Padraig-

    I like what was said about the debate often being a mutual exchange of insult from BIGOT to PERVERT and back again.

    It's probably best, as with many things, to imagine yourself in the opposing side of the argument..

  • Comment number 10.

    I think the moderators have a thankless task and do a very difficult job in testing circumstances. (That's "Theophane": T, h, e, o, p, h...)

  • Comment number 11.

    I would like to suggest that, in practice, there is a very fine line between a "belief that homosexuality is wrong" and "homophobia".

    As a Christian I must admit that I struggle with this issue, but I refuse to jump on the evangelical anti-gay bandwagon (the kind of sad state of affairs that seems to be evident in Uganda and Nigeria, and among a group like "Reform" in the Anglican Church).

    As Christians we can have a mature discussion about the issue of sexuality, and have disagreements, but there is a difference between that, and the terse blanket condemnation of a highly sensitive and personal matter, on the basis of "the Bible clearly says" (without any honest and in-depth exegesis of the relevant passages).

    I am no obsequious defender of the mods, but I can understand that, on this issue, there are perhaps certain "grey areas" in terms of moderation decisions (especially considering the devastating effect that moral condemnation has had on certain gay people, leading to assaults and suicides).

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm of the opinion that you should be able to say whatever you likes, but be prepared for the other guy to say something you don't like. Unfortunately, today we live in a smothering culture of pseudo-liberalism which is anything but liberal, which is possibly why one contributor has complained about having what he calls the Christian position on homosexuality censored. The rest of us, of course, do not know if it actually IS the Christian position, since it WAS censored. However, as somebody else says, Christians are not here to tell you whatever you want to hear (well, maybe the Church of England...)

    My own position is that I tolerate homosexuality; I do not celebrate it and I make no apologies for not doing. I wonder if this post will make it through the BBC "right-on" filter.

  • Comment number 13.

    Casur1 (@ 12) -

    I'm of the opinion that you should be able to say whatever you likes


    Of course you can. Trouble is that there may be "freedom of speech", but there isn't "freedom of publication". The BBC has its policy and exercises its freedom to not publish certain views.

    If you are going to champion freedom, then you should champion all forms of freedom, including the freedom of a media organisation to refuse to publish certain comments.

    Or is it a case of "freedom for you, but restrictions for someone else"?

    Gosh, I don't know why I'm defending Auntie (I don't work for her, honest!!)
  • Comment number 14.

    As a hetrosexual does my faith in Jesus Christ determine how I express my sexuality? The answer is yes! Why, because Jesus said, "If you love me,keep my commandments."
    Is involvement in homosexual activity in line with keeping Christ's commandments? The answer is a resounding NO.

  • Comment number 15.

    To quote-

    This is not just one more commandment He added to a list. This one commandment summarizes all the others: "Love one another as I have loved you."

    NOTE: "Love one another" means "love all people," not just "love other Christians."
  • Comment number 16.

    Robertrev,

    In what way does that address the situation ?

    What is your position - are churches right to throw out people who are homosexual ? Do they only get thrown out if they act on their nature ? Are the same sanctions placed on adulterers and fornicators ? Should gay people just stay in the closet and lie their way through life (including to the spouses they take to hide their true orientation) just so they can express their faith in the way they want to ? Is your solution to homosexuality a chaste, celibate and loveless life or do you think it can all be prayed away? Do you think homosexuals have no place in your church and should just be shunned the way some churches do.

    So Robertrev - instead of hiding behind your preaching and your resounding NO why not engage on the subject. What would you say and do to any offspring of yours who was homosexual ? Do you even understand homosexuality ?

    LSV, I think if more people approached as you have outlined there would be more reasoned discussion and less harm - all parties may never agree fully but at least we should all be wanting to see the harm minimised.

  • Comment number 17.

    I woudn't like to accuse the moderators of being 'barking' (they did, after all, allow my second comment to stand), but perhaps I should give them another chance to 'lick my hand'!......

    As a Christian Pastor, one of the guidelines I try to follow is to be clear on principle and to be compassionate with people. Getting the balance right is not always easy!

    But it does seem to many Christians that the Bible's teaching on Homosexuality is very clear. Since it refers to sex outside the bonds of marriage, it is therefore morally wrong, and God neither sanctions nor blesses such relationships.

    While we cannot be faithful to the Bible and deny that, we do want to acknowledge that there are a small number of people who struggle with same-sex attraction. However, the correct pastoral approach - according to Scripture - is not to pretend that sin is anything other than sin, but rather to help such people come to a place of repentance. (ALL of us are sinners, and each of us must begin there if we are to find forgiveness through Jesus Christ and the blessing of God on our lives.)

    It follows that someone who is deliberately continuing in behaviour that the Bible calls sinful has not come to real repentance, and therefore cannot be a Christian. How then can they be admitted to membership or given an official position within a Christian Church?

    (There.....let's see if the moderator's tail is wagging!! - my guess is his bark is worse than his bite!)

  • Comment number 18.

    @pastorphilip,

    Is what you are saying is that there is no role for actively homosexual people within your church? Is it the same for fornicators and adulterers (which would include those divorced and remarried).

    Do you accept that other christian churches disagree with you or are they not christian by your definition ?

  • Comment number 19.

    Well said Pastor Philip, I agree....

    Just wait and see a few other wagging tails appear now.

    Oh....I see that ones appeared already.

  • Comment number 20.

    I dont know if I'd connect 'wagging tails' with Pastor P's brand of religiosity. 'Wagging tongues' maybe.

  • Comment number 21.

    William said;-

    "What interests me is the following question - how do we speak with each other? What has often passed for public discourse has been little more than the mutual exchange of insult. Accusations of bigotry and perversion can be exchanged from one side to another. What is achieved through this?"
    I have to say that I have been on the receiving end of a fair amount of abusive language on this blog (really straying into hate crime territory at times), though I have never meted it out Will ;-)


    Anyway...I listened to the stories of the some of the Christians on Sunday Sequence and was interested to read a little more about their stories. On the one hand, I know Christians can be ignorant and hurtful because I have suffered it myself and have doubtless inflicted it on others too at times.

    I reach out the hand of friendship to anyone who loves Christ, regardless of their sexual history and identity and I want to affirm that the NT teaches that nobody can pluck you from God's hand if you are his, so anyone who communicates otherwise by word or deed is mistaken.

    I also want to state that I too have a sexual orientation that is not accepted at my church. I am a married heterosexual man with children who has never had homosexual feelings. But I can assure you my natural sexual orientation is not "holy"; no heterosexual male is natually inclined to be monogamous for life by nature. And I have never found a "permenant cure". We are all sexually broken people (all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God).

    I think part of this debate relates to a setting aside of the gospel, when it is actually the primary issue. It appears many people in these discussions assume that man is inherently good and that if we are nice people God accepts us. Now certainly the bible shows that God applauds good motives and honorable character and that he judges all men fairly according to their lights, imo.

    However the starting foundation block for the gospel/bible is that man is completely fallen and cannot be accepted as he is by a Holy God (genesis). The good news is that through Christ's sacrifice and resurrection we can be made right and Holy in God's eyes; there is no longer any condemnation and we are free to be cleansed when we fall.

    Many people reading that last paragraph will think it is a red herring in this discussion. But it is absolutely not. Man's nature is not made right in God's eyes by accepting ourselves, forgiving ourselves or persuading others round to our point of view on theology.
    Furtherm

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi RJB

    Long time since we talked! I hope you are well and that the job front has worked out for you...

    Looking forward to a civil and gracious conversation on the topic which Will has invited us to discuss - playing the ball and not the man

    :)

    Best
    OT

  • Comment number 23.

    Some of the saddest experiences of my life have been speaking with gay people (male and female) who have turned their backs on Christ, not out of malice, but because of churches, churchmen, and christians.

    In Matthew 16:18 Christ did not say, upon this rock I will build my churches, Christ instituted 1 Church, and it prevails to this day, and needs no building, nor hierarchy to survive, the oldest church, all the rest are playing catch-up.

    There is nothing in the ministry of Christ to reject gay people, and any church that does is not of Christ. If a gay man or woman loves his/her God with all their heart mind body and soul and loves the neighbour likewise, have fulfilled all of God's law and broken none. Romans 13:9-10 ... if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    And to those who call upon leviticus etc to condemn gay people, The epistle writer to the wayward church in Galatia holds nothing back when he writes, " if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."

    What is significant about most of those churchmen who quote leviticus is that they stand before the bathroom mirror in the morning and taking a razor reject the gift from God on their faces. Thanks God but no thanks, I look better without it, or words to that effect. and break levitical law into the bargain.

    But I cannot believe that God is not a Just God, I cannot believe that a Just God will accept into heaven anyone who has driven redeemable souls away from God, by their erroneous biblical utterances, if those souls driven away are destined for hell.

    Being gay or loving as gay violates not 1 of the 10 commandments, neither does it violate the 2 commandments given by Christ, some say it is covered in Do not commit adultery, without understanding that adultery does not include sex, adultery including sex is fornication and adultery, but adultery can be committed without any sex act at all, adultery is the violation of a marriage covenant. There is not scripture for marriage of gay people therefore there is no covenant to violate. When a man marries a divorced woman he commits adultery, it is the marriage that is the adultery, not any sex within the marriage.

    I believe Christ had in mind people, like gay people, who are on the receiving end of erroneous murmurings supposedly based on scripture, when He said "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. "

    Gay people are most welcome in Christ's Church. "Come on to me 'ALL'...." Gays are included in ALL. and if any extra proof is needed that Gays will be in heaven, the scripture tells us that upon the second coming, among the other examples of taking and leaving, Matthew 17 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

    Two men in one bed, there are none so blind as those who will not see, or refuse to see

  • Comment number 24.

    A Pdf by Soulforce - What the Bible says

    A small quote from it

    We’d like to believe that no person of good will would misuse
    the Bible to support his or her prejudice. But time and time again
    it has happened with tragic results.
  • Comment number 25.

    OT

    Firstly, well done on sharing, that took courage.

    I am not going to engage in any of our last spats, biblical references, etc.. Pointless.

    However, your above post does beg a question given the quantity of time you used to spend on here condemning gay people. And that is, were you aware of your own 'brokenness' when you were criticising gay people?

  • Comment number 26.

    @pastorphilip

    couple of issues you raised I have a problem with,

    You use the vowel 'a' before church as in 'within 'a' ...church? How many churches did Christ establish?
    the answer is one. so it should be "within the ....Church",
    When Christ announced that He was building His church, where in the Bible did he call it 'Christian'? answer is nowhere.
    You mention christian as in person seeking membership, Where in the bible did Christ call anyone to be a christian? answer is no where.
    He did call for disciples though. I can say that from a personal standpoint with authority being a disciple of Christ but not a christian. I havent got the foggiest idea what the word 'christian' means, for example the pope is a christian, and leader of one of the largest christian churches on the earth, and the minister of any Presbyterian or free Presbyterian church is christian also, yet they by their opposite beliefs cannot both be christian, yet, they say they are.

    You use the term and I quote "ALL of us are sinners", So when you say, and again I quote "How then can they be admitted to membership or given an official position within a Christian Church?" How can one sinner or group of sinners decide whether an applicant is more of a sinner than they are, and so rejected, or less of a sinner than they are and therefore accepted? Does not Christ cover that situation very well when he talks about the one with the plank in his eye talking to another with a twig in his eye?

    Its a bit like that gay parade in Belfast, and there are two protesting Christian groups, (and it is strange that there are the two groups who cant agree and form one united group), but we have as you say "ALL of us are sinners" two groups of sinners complaining about another parading group of sinners, and the reason for the protest, 'sin'

    I think it is up to God to judge whose sin is lesser or worse than any other, for no matter what any given sin in anyones life is, it is for that sin, small medium or large, that needed the death of the of the Son of God to cleanse. For none, neither the applicant nor the interviewer could themselves live a life commensurate with that which is necessary to cleanse that small medium or large sin away.

    you also say and again I quote "it does seem to many Christians that the Bible's teaching on Homosexuality is very clear" It seems, I agree, it seems, but it's not. I used in the past to offer a reward, that I would pay for the persons next holiday, anywhere in the world, 2 weeks at my expense if anyone who would show me in the king James version of the bible, what many refer erroneously as the authorized version, where it mentions Homosexual, Homosexuality or even just the four letters at the start of each of those two words. It was easy to offer that reward because the words are not there. ( King James authorized a translation of 'The Great Bible' to be carried out. But the finished article was not officially authorized by him, it was the 'work' of translation was authorized, not the finished book)

    So far from it being clear, all we have is an interpretation of actions mentioned, which could in all probability have been the actions of perverted heterosexuals going against their nature rather than ordinary homosexuals loving in accordance with their nature.

    coincidently and slightly off topic, on the subject of reward, there is a catholic bishop in the U.S. offering a $1000 reward for anyone who can show from scripture alone, where anyone has the authority to change the Sabbath from the 7th day of the week to the 1st day of the week. the reward is long standing and unclaimed. To the christians here who are so sure of themselves, go and claim it, it will cover I am sure the airfare if nothing else. details are in the Sabbath - stunning admissions video on the Restored Church of God (RestoredCOD) on youtube

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi RJB -

    AOWWW THAT WAS MY SHIN!

    I would ask that you read again - slowly - Will's words in the first paragraph of my post 23.

    Do you think your post to me is closer to respectful discourse or insult and accusation?

    I have never in my life condemned any gay person and I have never condemned or insulted you.

    What are your views on the thread subject under discussion RJB??

    As for brokenness, I know you have problems with original sin and the term 'sinner' RJB.

    But these are how the church has always viewed human nature in the context of Christ's loving sacrifice and redemption, as you know.

    It is has always been a clear teaching of scripture and your church.

    A theology without original sin, sacrifice justification and sanctification is necessarily a theology of self righteousness.

    But neither of us want to go down that route, do we RJB?

    Please dont try and make this a thread about how broken a person I am - I am completely broken and lost without Christ. That is why Christ is the gospel - Good News. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.

    In fact I would say that is fantastic news!

    I feel you have wholly vindicated my point about why the setting aside of the true gospel is at the core of this discussion.

    Lets play the ball and not the man RJB!

    What are your views on the report and Will's comments???

    :)


    -------------------------------


    Hi Gerry

    I hope you dont mind if I ask you a few questions, please.

    What principles do you use to decide which parts of scripture to accept as divine and which parts to reject?

    What principle should we use to decide what sexual relations are acceptable to church members?

    (Every book of the NT teaches that sexual propriety is important for church members).

    Which epistles teach how the church should view the old testament law on issues such as those you discuss?

    Both Will and yourself appear to define the standard for acceptability of sexual relationships in church as "love".

    But what do you mean by that? Can Christian love cut across clear teachings of the new testament on sexual relations?

    And is this credible for churches if it has to turn the meaning of language on its head to do so?

    Would such love wish to exclude or allow group sex, casual sex, open marriage, adultery, sex before marriage, serial marriage.

    If the people concerned are consenting adults you have no grounds for excluding these%

  • Comment number 28.

    Will

    I have seen this blog *many, many* times give platforms to arguments as to why churches should affirm homosexual practise.

    But I have yet to see a devoted platform given to the views of Christians who have come out of a homosexual lifestyle and become heterosexual, or who identify with same sex attraction but decline a gay identity.

    Any chance of some BBC impartialty on this one?

    ;-)

    OT

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Well, ref post 29

    It seems Will is allowed to host discussions on many taboo forms of sexual orientation, ie his interviews with Peter Singer, but we mere mortals are not allowed to broach the subjects.

    More nanny than aunty!

    OT

  • Comment number 31.

    OT

    Wow wow wow! I am not getting into this nonsense again. We have been through it all before without managing to come to agreement.

    My intention was not to kick you in the shin but to ask you to consider a different aspect to this debate i.e. For the life of me, I cannot understand how a person can come to a genuine sense of their own brokenness/sinfulness/need to be forgiven, yet point out the sins of others, especially with regard to sexuality.

    I am past the stage of giving an ounce of credibility to the dogmatists. Whether there is such a thing as original sin is utterly irrelevant.

    I suppose what I am getting at is posted on another thread. Protestants attend the funeral of a murdered Catholic and the religious minded go into overdrive with their opinion about it.

    Did any of these people actually see the family sitting in the front rows, inconsolable with grief?

    Can any of these people ever get past their own prejudices to see the real pain of others and connect with suffering human beings - whether they be Catholic, Protestant, homosexual or whatever - and respond in love without the moral judgement?

    I cannot think of one occasion where Jesus condemned a sinner, but there are examples on every page of the gospel where he reserves utter condemnation for the religious who feel it is their 'duty' to point out the perceived sins of others.

    And on the subject of 'sharing' as William asked, here are two experiences.

    Four years ago I was living in Co Cavan. I used to tune in to the phone in/studio talk show (NI's version of Question Time.) I was utterly gobsmacked, week after week, at the disgusting and hateful views expressed against homosexuals on that programme. I could have been living in Iran or Nigeria. What on earth are churches preaching over there? Certainly not the love of Christ. It was appalling.

    That impression was tempered negatively two weeks ago when Celtic were playing FC Sion in Sion. I joined the train to go to the match half way from Geneva Airport to Sion. There were alot of Celtic fans in my carriage.

    As the train stopped at Montreux, to young men were kissing each other goodbye on the platform - right outside our carriage. The comments of disgust were so bad that I had to warn the young man getting on the train to go to another carriage. These people would have slaughtered him.

    I realised in that moment that such vicious hatred is not confined to NI, Iran or Nigeria. Its in Scotland too. And in many other places.

    It is unenlightened and perverse and needs

  • Comment number 32.

    OT,

    I have come to a recent moment of clarity with regard to moderation. A few days ago, MCC was moderated. A couple of other posters were too. The first - long post - to be moderated that day was my own.

    MCC went off in the huff, others complained bitterly that they werent getting to say what they wanted to say about named individuals.

    My suggestion is that you either forget it and move on or rewrite your post making sure that you are not stating an opinion which could be actionable/slanderous etc..

    The world is not going to end because I didnt get to give my opinion, no matter how deeply held.

  • Comment number 33.

    31 (continued)

    It needs to be challenged. Do you think that the views you express on here challenge such hateful attitudes or give tacit permission for them to be acted out?

  • Comment number 34.

    OT,

    "...Christians who have come out of a homosexual lifestyle and become heterosexual",

    You must have missed Core and Exodus on Sunday Sequence - I am sure they have been on a couple of times and we discussed their conference on here too.

    Even Exodus and Core no longer claim to make someone heterosexual all they claim is to try behaviour modification using prayer and drama therapy to get gay men to sleep with women.

    To be honest homosexuals know this can work and requires no god either (all it requires is negative social pressure and systemic homophobia which the people carrying out ex-gay treatment seem to have in bucketloads).

    You only have to look at the number of gay people (christian or not) who have been married (the wife is affectionately known as a beard) and have kids to know that it is not impossible to get over the sexual acts - but there is no credible evidence of changes to sexuality - so it mostly comes back to bite later in one way or another.

    You also need to look at the mental problems, alcoholism, drug dependency, risky sexual encounters and domestic violence which all to often comes from it to see why such dissonance is dangerous. It is for these reasons that the medical profession describe ex-gay therapies as "at best ineffective and at worst dangerous" and why certified practitioners in psychiatry and psychology can get suspended or struck off for doing them. Unfortunately they can do nothing about unregulated snake oil salesmen who do psychodrama. Look how often these people fall off their own wagon !

  • Comment number 35.

    Thanks RJB


    You said:

    "For the life of me, I cannot understand how a person can come to a genuine sense of their own brokenness/sinfulness/need to be forgiven, yet point out the sins of others, especially with regard to sexuality."

    Its quite simple RJB.

    I feel my own brokenness and come to Christ for forgiveness, cleansing and grace for the journey.

    But by NT standards many others are denying the brokenness of various exual practises outside of marriage (by NT standards) and instead presenting thems as righteousness to Christ.

    The attempt to subvert the authority of the church, scripture, and impose new and alien concepts on it causes great concern to many church members. That is why people challenge such views.

    In a "tolerant" postmodern multicultural society, why must gay lobbyists essentially deny the right of Abrahamic faiths to hold traditional views on sexuality, held the world over for 4000 years plus?

    (I wonder why Sunday Sequence only challenges "churches" on homosexuality and not muslims or Jews in NI, BTW? Perhaps because only churches are an acceptable poltically correct target).

    It would seem more tolerant for gay activists to agree to have certain churches where their views are endorsed and allow others to disagree. But the debate is framed so as to ensure no such tolerance will be ever be allowed.

    Because only homosexual truth is absolute....?

    What we *appear* to have is a very intolerant, even fundamentalist and attitude, which insists that no churches have any moral right to hold traditional Jewish-Christian views on sexual stewardship which is solidly based on scripture and has been for 4000 plus years.

    And what is the truth about homosexuality? This is the question it is now taboo to ask.

    Scientifically we know there is no gay gene and that studies of identical twins have shown that homosexuality is not fixed before birth. Social and familial factors have been shown to be crucial, which also point to the way into heterosexuality for many, though not all.


    There is a wealth of science of these topics, but the spotlight is very firmly on the "moral failure" of the churches in refusing to accept homosexual practise.

    This is the sign of a "fixed" debate with a one way agenda.

    You wont agree with me but you cant not understand where the other side of the debate is coming from.

    You have NEVER seen me "pointing out the sins of others".

    As a general rule I dont use emotive, threatening or pejorative language about or towar

  • Comment number 36.

    Meanwhile back on the topic,

    @gerry, I have asked simialr questions about what true christians are, there are so many different competing denominations, beliefs and approaches and the only trueism is that only one or none is right.

    If modern day N.Ireland free Presbyterians are the ones who are right I hope god didn't make heaven too big as there will be hardly a soul there yet (and even fewer who will want to spend eternity there with them).

    From an outsiders perspective (having been brought up in 'a' christian tradition) I have to say that the most 'christ' like people I know may or may not be christians but they are the most kind and altruistic people around.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi Dave

    I think you are knocking down a straw man there. And in my understanding you have misrepresented the two organisations you name.

    As you know, the moral necesscity of changing sexuality is NOT an argument I have made. See for yourself.

    There is no failure in God's eyes for someone who finds they cannot become heterosexual. There is no evidence for such a view in scripture.

    What God is looking for and gives the loving grace to achieve, is holiness.

    Mike Davidson of Core says he wishes to maximise his heterosexuality and that he is in a very happy place at this time. Fine with me. Free country.

    Are you going to deny him his right to make his choices and choose his identity? That would be a breach of ethical, medical and human rights.

    I have met a number of people who say they have changed utterly, one of them gave his extended testimony on this very blog. He said he only got persecuted when he changed to become heterosexual!

    Check it out - a former leader of NIGRA went straight and is now very happily married with children. Fact.

    Peter Tatchell is on record as saying this does happen and he has no problem with it. Google "gay gene" on his website for more info.

    Alfred Kinsey's opus magnus found many people changed their sexuality over time and that sexuality was not black and white but extended over a spectrum.

    There are thousands of scientific papers, many of them in accessible online databases (see Medline), which provide evidence that secular treatment of homosexuality has been very effective in changes to heterosexuality from 1930 until late 20th century.


    The NT says that some Christians in Paul's time had been homosexual but were no longer so;-

    I Cor 6.
    9Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.

    11Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    You will also notice - THE BIBLE NOWHERE CONDEMNS HAVING ANY SORT OF SEXUAL FEELINGS, GAY OR STRAIGHT. What it does say is that we are accountable for how we act on those feelings.

    But coming back, True Freedom Trust say

  • Comment number 38.

    Dave

    It would be wrong to identify Free Presbyterians as being uniquely homophobic. Something Iris Robinson said is referred to in the Report: "gay people made her sick".

    This is strong language indeed from a sexagenarian who not long ago was in the news for having a teenage lover.

  • Comment number 39.

    OT, Perhaps reading the Pdf in post 24 might help to give you further insight, although I remember reading your comments in Feb & thinking your outlook was mature & well thought out.

    So often it appears that Christians present their faith as though it is anti-gay, but in reality it is pro-Jesus of the oppressed, despised and outcast.

    I am saying that the traditional gospel message has nothing to say about sexual identity at all

    Do I have your liberty to stand separate from your values if I so choose Dave? The liberty to say that 'you may, but I cannot?'

    Again, my point is that the traditional gospel message, as seen in the hymn amazing grace, has nothing to say about sexuality.

    Peterm2, in reply to your posts, stated-
    So if we want to communicate something about the faith we believe to be important... even if people don’t notice, even if people continue not to care - we are called to keep on loving them anyway - that’s my definition of grace.

    Or, to use the words of Sally lloyd Jones - Jesus Storybook Bible - “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”
  • Comment number 40.

    As I was saying before the mods got me, True Freedom Trust says there are as many people with same sex attraction inside the church who do not choose a gay identity or lifestyle as there are those people outside who do.

    The views, values and choices of such people must be respected, on both sides.

    But it goes to show you that there are a huge number of people inside the church who have started their journeys from the same place as those in the report above.

    However the True Freedom Trust constituency make very different choices to the dear people in the above report.

    It should not be assumed that those people in the report are the majority constituency; why did the report not interview other categories of people with same sex attraction who hold different beliefs and values?

    Seems rather skewed.

    If the people in the report succeed in forcing churches to embrace homosexual practise what is that likely to do to the morale and faith of those with SSA already in the church who reject homosexual practise?


    The World Health Organisation recognises a mental health disorder of ego dystonic sexual orientation ie unwanted homosexuality, and says that sufferers are free to get counselling for it.

    I have never heard of any professional in the UK ever being struck off for this (which is quite different to an allegation being lodged).

    I will certainly agree with you on this Dave. Nobody should be pressed into marriage under any circumstances.

    One last point is on holiness. I have read Mario Bergner and Andy Comiskey, who very much found that this was a process and not an experience.

    Theologically this would be the process of sanctification.

    I dont think any Christian should beat themselves up for failing repeatedly but rather see this as a learning experience to grow through the grace of God.

    OT


    In fact, by my understanding it would be quite unethical to refuse someone treatement for this conditions when this is requested.

  • Comment number 41.

    Thanks Ryan

    Thats grace from you right there in post 39 thanks.

    Will read pdf and come back but got to take my daughter to swimming lessons right now.

    OT

  • Comment number 42.

    OT,

    your mention of the WHO is not quite correct here it is

    Forward to the group of disorders

    "F66 Psychological and behavioural disorders associated with
    sexual development and orientation
    Note: Sexual orientation alone is not to be regarded as a disorder."


    "F66.1 Egodystonic sexual orientation
    The gender identity or sexual preference is not in doubt but the individual
    wishes it were different because of associated psychological and
    behavioural disorders and may seek treatment in order to change it"

    The cause of the psychological and behavioural disorders is homophobia in society, conservative religions and peer pressure. They are the disorders which require treatment. The WHO say they may seek treatment - this is not a permission it is statement of what they might try to do and it no way condones or endorses the treatments. It's a bit like a someone who's disorder makes them feel they need to amputate their leg (such as morbid Body dysmorphic disorder), the job of the medical professional is to make them comfortable with having two legs as that is their default non-disordered condition not to chop it off because they believe they have a right to whatever treatment they want.

    The last time I heard Mike Davidson speak (which was about 6 weeks ago in the Europa) he was much less unequivocal about the change as you would like to project. He seems to regard it as an ongoing struggle although he seems to be coping with it. George Rekers was not so lucky. Will was chairing the conference so maybe he can comment if I am doing Mike a disservice.

    OT - my problem with ex-gay organisations is not what they wish to do for themselves but the way they proselytise their abilities to vulnerable people in many cases creating the disorder you quote from the WHO and then jumping in with their 'cure'

    As for people who's sexuality changes it is difficult to verify the claims as they would have had to be profiled before and after to ensure that they were not simply bisexual or growing a beard to fit in.

    If you have never heard of anyone in the UK being suspended or struck off for conversion therapy then let me help you

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/27/gay-conversion-therapy-patrick-strudwick

    This is the same Lady who attended the recent ex-gay conference in Belfast.

  • Comment number 43.

    Dave

    My representation of the WHO diagnosis and Mike Davidson's position were completely fair and nothing you have said contradicts this.

    I affirm that the WHO diagnosis does not define homosexuality per se as a disorder, only unwanted homosoexuality (or other unwanted orientations).

    The counsellor you refer to was suspended, not struck off, at least at that time. Please check your facts.

    I cant see whether she was suspended for offering help the Patrick went out of his way to ask her for .... or for the manner in which she did it. I certainly agree she should be fully accountable to her professional body.

    What does it prove?

    Your analogy with body dysmorphic disorder is allowable here in discussion but would be rejected by many many mental health professionals. The WHO diagnosis stands, for anyone who wishes to avail of it.

    Internalised homophobia is a circular argument without actual foundation. I will be corrected but I understand that there are still major mental health problems amon g gay people in the European country which legalised all their activities many years ago.

    Do you think every single counsellor helping young people confused with their sexuality would be squeaky clean in their approach ie the ones who encourage young people to embrace a gay identity and "come out"???

    I wonder what a sting operation like Mr Strudwick's might reveal there? Who knows.

    Yes many ex-gays have fallen off the wagon, as you put it, but W&T never reports all the successes, only the failures. Its a simple game of smoke and mirrors both ways and proves nothing.

    We could play it forever.

    I think I have tried to be clear. I take at full face value the reports from many people who say such therapies have not worked for them. Love believes all things.

    You on the other hand appear to insist that everyone who says it has worked for them (or who have changed without formal therapy) are either deluded or lying. That seems like a very corrosive form of cyncism to me Dave. Maybe that can be explained in part by painful experiences you have had with people who have not know what they were doing and treated you badly?

    (BTW my understanding of such therapy as it exists today is not that it tries to correct a disorder, rather that it attempts to complete a halted emotional development which is often linked to some sort of disconnect with a father during formative years).

    DO you think Kinsey was a closet Christian fundamentalist? Changes do happen for some people. Lets accept it in the broad context and move

  • Comment number 44.

    Ryan

    I had a read through the leaflet from post 24 as requested.

    Its seems Dr White's key argument is that homosexuality as we know it today only manifested in the past century or so and because it is not like the homosexuality addressed in various parts of the bible, criticism from that source does not count.

    My problem with that is this. If I create a new type of relationship not mentioned in the bible does that mean I have licence to get away with it?

    For example, say my wife and I formally enter an open marriage where he formally sign off on one night stands or extra-marital short term relationships for each other in religious ceremonies.

    You get the picture. I am not saying that to insist I am right, with a closed mind. Its just that I dont personally think Dr White's reasoning is solid, though I do commend his humanity - and sense of humour.

    I also think he is incorrect in suggesting that there is clear consensus on this issue among mental health professionals now. I just dont see this as being accurate at all, although I certainly accept that most of their professional bodies have been nobbled through pretty intensive political action (not historical scientific research ).

    If he was right Patrick Strudwick would not need a campaign to seek scalps of counsellors (see my previous post and that of Dave's) and the head of the gay special interest committee in the Royal College of Psychiatry, Prof Michael King, would not have needed to launch a massive broadside on the issue after finding one in six therapists believed in offering reparative therapy.

    Nor do I think he is being fair or accurate in his take on homosexuality in 1 Cor 6.

    As I see it there is a very clear consensus on the issue in conservative circles eg John Stott's position.

    The other passages on various types of homosexuality do not equate to criticism of civil partnerships for example, but the story of Sodom is not an endorsement of them either, it must be said.

    The flip side to the coin is what the bible proactively teaches about sex and marriage. it seems very clear what the purpose and intention was for sex in this regard even from Eden. And it is tied in quite deeply in reflecting the glory of Christ and his bride, as I understand it, in the last book of the bible.

    Homosexual practise jarrs with this imagery at so many levels, as I see it; the only context in which homosexual practise is mentioned in the bible is when it is being forbidden.

    Honest opinions there Ryan, and a little blunt I'm afraid

  • Comment number 45.

    Dave

    The end of my post was cut off (you might be glad to see :) )

    In conclusion I said I would vote for a society where Mike Davidson and his constituency are given the same respect rights and support as those dear people in the report above.

    I believe in a live and let live society in this regard.

    OT

  • Comment number 46.

    OT, If someone is comfortable with their sexuality & has a level of self-acceptance, then why would anyone argue in favour of them rejecting who they are? There should be no impetus to change a person's perfectly legitimate sexuality to satisfy the approval of a self-appointed sector of the 'collective'.

    It reminds me of the Borg in Star Trek- Individual Borg rarely speak. Instead, they send a collective audio message to their targets stating that "resistance is futile", followed by a declaration that the target in question will be assimilated and its biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to their own.

    There are of course people who are less comfortable with their sexuality for a variety of reasons. Everyone should have the legitimate right to explore options if they're unable to accept who they are. If you can, read this article in the New York Times. I posted the link just a few weeks ago, but It provides quite compelling evidence that conversion therapy is ineffective: Living the Good Lie

    There are also Churches where the convention is to have a healthier, less damaged dialogue between sexuality, religion & spirituality & there are people within the spectrum of 'conservative' Churches who accept gay people as they are, as God made them.

    Ultimately, a person's sexuality is no-one else's business but their own. Homosexuality is part of & reflects the heterosexual world- it's interwoven & a part of the same society. If someone has the self-assurance to feel comfortable in their own skin, they should be accepted. If they're unhappy, they should be given the support they need to move on with their lives. It is irresponsible to emotionally torture someone on the basis of their sexuality when they would otherwise thrive & contribute within a more supportive, nurturing, gentler society.

  • Comment number 47.

    Well OT, you're not here to be convinced. You're here to learn to accept & appreciate difference- like the rest of us

  • Comment number 48.

    OT,

    I said "suspended or struck off", the lady in question will be struck off unless she changes her stance what I said was perfectly in line with the article.

    Your description of the WHO position is not fair as I have already pointed out which is why I posted the actual position.

    You are twisting it to suggest that what they are describing is unwanted homosexuality when the disorder describes dissonance between a non disordered condition (homosexuality) and the outside world and points to the problem as behavioural and psychological issues other than homosexuality as the area which requires attention. If homosexuality is not the disorder then the answer to the disorder in question lies in affirming that and negating the dissonance. Conversion therapy does not do this which is why it is unsuccessful, unapproved and harmful.

    Can you supply the evidence for all the successes because all the evidence produced by Narth and Exodus has been debunked. I did not say the people who claim it are deluded or lying but the research does show that the tiny number of people (4%) who claim long term change in orientation nearly all still work as ex-gay counsellors which would at least point to a conflict of interest.

    As I said Mike Davidson is quite within his rights to do whatever he likes to himself - it is quite another thing to support offering this 'treatment' to vulnerable people many of whom are young and have been sent by their parents (under threat of expulsion from the family). It is very close to encouraging self harm.

    Who cleans up the mess these counsellors leave in their wake ? They don't and it is left to the those in the approved counselling services to work with harmed people through affirmative therapy.

    I do not understand your comment about internalised homophobia - which is a dislike of one's own homosexual orientation due to dissonance with societal and religious values. Seems to me that it is just a less scientific phrase for Egodystonic sexual orientation. Can you please explain why one is a circular argument and the other is the justification for reparative therapy?

    and

    "(BTW my understanding of such therapy as it exists today is not that it tries to correct a disorder, rather that it attempts to complete a halted emotional development which is often linked to some sort of disconnect with a father during formative years)."

    You do know that this was debunked years ago by research and is no longer accepted by the psychology professions and it is only religiously inspired ex-gay ministries who cling to it.

  • Comment number 49.

    The question that really gets to me concerning the fervent condemnation of what's called 'homosexuality' (a fairly modern term!) within some sections of the Church is this: why the constant emphasis on this issue?

    This is an issue that affects a small percentage of people who engage in a certain kind of relationship with each other on a consensual basis. These people are not condemning the sexual orientation of anyone else. The gay 'movement' is not a campaign against heterosexuality. It's a very personal matter, so why can't it be kept that way?

    For goodness sake, what is the reason for this constant, unending, unremitting, unhealthy, voyeuristic obsession with people's private bedroom lives?!

    I would like to challenge you lot in the Christian anti-gay brigade as to why you don't expend at least as much time and effort on other moral issues. What about the way the church handles money, for example? I mean that affects huge numbers of people - and often the methods of extracting finance from hard up Christians does not involve respecting their free will!

    You may not approve of homosexual practices, but at least they are performed within (I assume) the context of consent. Which is more than can be said for a great many things that go on in the church!

    I know that this thread is about homosexuality, and so, of course, you are responding. Fair enough. But I am making a general observation that is true quite irrespective of responses on threads specifically about this issue. It is not so much always what is said, but what is NOT said. Where is the strident moral condemnation of other evils?

    to be continued...

  • Comment number 50.

    ... continued from post #49 ...

    Let's look at a list of sins from the NT. What about the list from Romans 1:29-31 -
    ...unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful...

    I count 23 evils here. OK, some are very general like 'unrighteousness', 'wickedness' and 'evil-mindedness', so let's say there are 20. Of these 20, only ONE refers to sex.

    So 5% relates to 'sexual immorality', and of course, heterosexual immorality would dominate that category anyway, based on the general witness of the Bible (as well as common sense, of course). Homosexuality is mentioned earlier in Romans 1, but within a specific context and those verses can be interpreted in different ways.

    The point is that homosexuality - even if regarded as immoral - is a fairly minor issue in the Bible. So why the constant emphasis on it?

    Why are you not getting "hot under the collar" about, for example, mercilessness or backbiting? What about speaking out against violence or pride? I could go on.

    But no. There is a guilty silence on a whole range of issues, but mention the minor issue of homosexuality and you all crawl out of the woodwork!

    Ask yourself: WHY?!

  • Comment number 51.

    Thanks Ryan

    I am not and have not argued that anyone should reject "who they are".

    If you read everything I have written in this thread you will see I have very firmly been arguing a pro-choice position.

    I believe anyone with same sex attraction should be free to be out and gay without fear of violence or abuse in our society.

    I also believe people with same sex attraction should be free to be informed about what choices they have, in terms of their identity and lifestyle.

    In essence I have argued that Mike and his friends have the basic civil, religious and ethical freedom to research this subject for themselves, speak freely about their experiences, values choices and be fully respected for them.

    I am not preaching orientation conversion "at" anyone and have never done so. Freedom of speech and choice regarding sexual and religious values and identities. That is all.

    Dave-

    IMO Internalised homophobia means that someone cannot accept their homosexual orientation but that a value judgement has been made (usually for them) that they should.

    Ego dystonic homosexuality is where an individual rejects their homosexual orientation and accepts the right of the indvidual who "may seek treatment in order to change it". I concur the WHO diagnosis finds no fault with homosexuality per se.

    The first label implies the subject should embrace their orientation and the second gives them the right to choose not to. If the impetus to change identity or orientation comes from within an individual then I think that should be respected.

    I would be strongly against anyone being pressed into any type of counselling for anything because of the wishes of a third party.

    Ryan, I do find it a little disagreeable that you set me so many reading assignments and then refuse me the liberty to express an honest opinion about them.

    I am here to "learn to accept and appreciate difference" sounds rather prejudging of any discussion which you might enter here.

    Is your purpose here also to "learn to accept and appreciate difference" Ryan or is it only conservative Christians that have anything to learn here?


    OT

  • Comment number 52.

    I note that Ryan and LSV suggest a person's exuality is nobody's business but their own. Except when they go on national radio to demand that every clergyman in the country come round to their way of thinking, perhaps?

    And yet it is being made the business of many people in just about every aspect of life through law.

    Only today Will quizzed a senior COI cleric about a split in his church over the matter on national radio. A senior cleric unilaterally approved the matter apparently contrary to the policy of his church and now it is causing national debate.

    On Sunday Will gave a platform to the compilers of this very narrow and selective report to challenge core values of every church in the land on national radio.

    Will repeated asks people on his blog to consider the arguments in favour of homosexuality (never the other way around).

    And then anyone who does so gets lambasted for sticking their nose in as they are told it is a non-issue.

    What a jolly jape.

    :)

    I dont spend my days pondering homosexuality I assure you LSV but campaigners are obviously using it to challenge the authority of the bible in Christian tradition on a serious international basis and also challenging many basic elements of freedom of speech; even personal freedoms of people like Mike Davidson in the most intimate parts of their soul are being challenged.

    So please dont ever suggest to me it is none of my business.

    Where is the respectful discussion that Will asked for above everybody?

    Mike is a brother of mine in faith and I stand beside him and honour his right to be who he is and make his choices.

    But as per normal on this blog, there is only one direction arguments on the threads are pointed; and there is only one acceptable outcome for the discussions; homosexuality must be embraced without questions or qualification.

    Dave

    I accept your point you did say suspended or struck off, sorry.

    You were asking for evidence.
    Did you access the database online I mentioned above?
    More recently there is a study by Jones & Yarhouse.
    Have you examined Kinsey's landmark work on sexuality as suggested?

    You are conceding a 4% change rate, albeit with "a conflict of interest"? That could also be seen as a committment to help others who desperately want help, flying in the face of a society insists change is not possible.

    I dont have personal knowledge of this Dave but it is not hard for me to see how people pressed into counselling they dont want could be distressed by it. I d

  • Comment number 53.

    OT

    I'm intrigued by the way you come on here when the thread is about homosexuality. You then always lead the thread into a discussion on changing gay into straight etc..

    I'd say that if you asked anyone on here - who's RJB? Most would say - he's the guy that's got a bee in his bunnet about abuse. They'd be right. I admit I have an emotional/psychological investment in the subject.

    What is your 'investment' in the idea of making gay men straight? Why is it such an important subject for you?

  • Comment number 54.

    Dave

    You say that the theory of disconnect with fathers has no bearing on the formation of homosexuality, that this has been debunked.

    Sorry but the campaigns by Strudwick and Prof Michael King against mental health professionals practising in line with these theories paints a very different picture.

    Many argue this is a critical factor, but which will not have the effect alone; I understand it must also be combined with other factors, such as predispositions in terms of refined intellectual potentials that may be seen as feminine by some "men".

    I would be interested to know if there are any men or women reading this who had close, loving and empathetic relationships with their fathers but still find themselves on this path today...

    A very sensitive question, I know and one that nobody may feel free to comment on in the heat of this debate.

    ------

    I reflect that perhaps a significant factor in this debate might be an attitude of lawlessness, as scripture puts it.

    Whenever I hear people asking churches to embrace homosexuality, I normally hear between the lines that they believe there should be no church laws regulating sexual practise at all, qualified by the consenting adults rule. However, increasingly even this seems to be coming under pressure.

  • Comment number 55.

    LSV

    I do agree with the points you are making. The Bible is clear on what it says about sin and Romans 3 verse 23 reminds us that we all have sinned.

    I think the problem has been exacerbated because of the change in how society views homosexuality.

    They certainly have more freedom to express themselves publicly and they have been allowed more civil rights.

    What, of course, has happened is that it is seen by Christians as lending credibility to a sinful lifestyle.


    It has become a major issue for many reasons, one of which, is the fact that Christians are being seen to oppose the freedom that homosexuals now have.


    The other issue is..is that some churches denominations are split.

    One group holds to the clear Biblical teaching on homosexual practice as sin
    and the other disregards its teaching so that it can be seen to please everyone.


    As I said, it has become a big issue because of the change in societies view of homosexuality and this does mean that Bible believing Christians will get harangued as a result.


    As you said LSV, there are lots of other 'sin' problems that are not spoken of or addressed and we need to reflect upon these also.

  • Comment number 56.

    Here is the link to an interesting programme that features a set of identical twins, one of whom is homosexual and the other heterosexual.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01460f1

    More than half of identical twins do not share the same sexual orientation and the evidence shows that the "common environment" (influence of friends and family etc) does not explain the variation in sexual orientation. Other biological factors such as hormonal factors appear to be key - different exposure to testosterone of each twin.

    "There is no nature versus nurture in sexuality. It's predominately nature and very little else."

  • Comment number 57.

    OT (@ 52) -

    I dont spend my days pondering homosexuality I assure you LSV but campaigners are obviously using it to challenge the authority of the bible in Christian tradition on a serious international basis and also challenging many basic elements of freedom of speech; even personal freedoms of people like Mike Davidson in the most intimate parts of their soul are being challenged.

    So please dont ever suggest to me it is none of my business.


    Firstly, the point I was making concerned emphasis. There is an unhealthy emphasis in some parts of the church on this issue, and a concomitant lack of concern about other important (in my view, far more important) issues.

    Secondly, the issue of the authority of the Bible is a controversial one. You say that gay campaigners are challenging the authority of the Bible in Christian tradition. Why the phrase "in Christian tradition"? "Christian tradition" encompasses a range of interpretations, and so how can this establish the authority of the Bible? Are you not really talking about the authority of your particular interpretation of the Bible?

    I remember writing to the Anglican group 'Reform', which takes a hard line against homosexuality. I asked them why they claimed that the Bible "clearly" condemns homosexuality, while they brazenly ignore one of the most unequivocal statements of scripture (far clearer than any statement about homosexuality), namely 1 Timothy 2:4 concerning God's desire for all people to be saved. On their website they featured a defence of the blasphemous doctrine that states that God has deliberately created certain people with no intention of even offering them the chance of escaping the eternal tortures of hell. I received a very smarmy initial response to tell me they would follow this up, and they never did. Several years later I checked their website (which was a few weeks ago) and the offending article was still there.

    What hypocrisy! They do not submit to the authority of the Bible, but rather use the Bible for their own purposes. But I suspect that most evangelicals would just shrug their shoulders and say that their spurious views on predestination are just a legitimate traditional interpretation of the Bible. Well if that is the case - and we are permitted to brazenly ignore the indisputable clarity of 1 Timothy 2:4 - then why the complaints about people who interpret the less clear verses about homosexuality in a way that makes allowance for gay people in the church today??!
  • Comment number 58.

    As I said OT 'like the rest of us'. We all have to appreciate difference. This is a question of boundaries & as Lsv points out, it's the 'constant, unhealthy, voyeuristic obsession with people's private bedroom lives' that is at issue here. You have responsibilties to your own life. Your personal dialogue with God/religion is your contract, no-one else's. Everyone has a slightly different take on belief, this is why we have so many religions & so many sects within religions. People are different, society has to function & we must find a way to accept that while keeping a degree of personal integrity. If people find a way to reconcile their sexuality to their religion so be it. As you said once before 'you may, but I cannot'. We could probably take turns saying that to each other :)

  • Comment number 59.

    Newthornley,

    I feel so privileged that we have been 'allowed' more civil rights by society. Where do you get this stuff ? Civil rights are for everyone we are not allowed them we have them by right - that's what it means. In reality we are exercising our human rights both it terms of our sexuality and in terms of our freedom of conscience and religion (which protects us from the imposition of unwanted religious influences). How this is seen by christians should be irrelevant as we do not live in a theocracy.

    OT

    The only database I can find is massive and you would need to be more specific for what I am supposed to be looking at.

    The Jones & Yarhouse study, whilst having a good plan, was executed very badly with a tiny sample which did not even meet the requirements of the study in terms of representation. Moreover the data did not support the conclusions given and even then it does not support the spin put on it by exodus who commissioned the survey. The best comment is try better next time.

    Kinseys Landmark work was a useful starting point that creditable peer reviewed scientific and medical research has expanded and refined since then.

    Let me give you an example of the problem we have :

    You say

    "Scientifically we know there is no gay gene and that studies of identical twins have shown that homosexuality is not fixed before birth. Social and familial factors have been shown to be crucial, which also point to the way into heterosexuality for many, though not all."

    We do not know there is no gay gene, neither do we know there is one and the studies on identical twins do not show what you describe (there is significant debate amongst geneticists as to this but no conclusive evidence one way or the other). Social and familial factors have not been shown to be crucial. The most honest answer is as stated in the APA document FAQ's on sexuality

    "Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors."

    You may chose to believe what Narth and Exodus say but that does not make it true. You make a series of unsubstantiated claims with debunked evidence and try to appear reasonable. If you haven't the capability to see the bias and downright manipulation of statistics by such organisations then you really shouldn't be quoting them as fact.

  • Comment number 60.

    Same old Dave...lets hear a new song.

    We know where you stand...we've heard about your past and how you feel discriminated against.

    Its just a constant anti- Christian blurb that doesnt allow them freedom to say anything at all.

    Why not get over it and learn to forgive...the Bible teaches that, but then of course you dont agree with the Bible so you'll struggle to understand.

  • Comment number 61.

    Newthornley

    My impression on here of Dave has been that he is intelligent, logical, at times courageous, honest, compassionate, non-judgemental and that he often displays the values I read in the gospel.

    My impression of some of the Christians on here has been that they are often petty, narrow-minded, bitter, prejudiced and do not reflect the love of Jesus Christ in any way whatsoever.

    Just sayin!

  • Comment number 62.

    You havent been exactly gracious either romejellybeen so please dont try and call the kettle black.

    I would agree with you that there are Christians who dont reflect the love of Jesus in their responses and there are others who become just frustated that they are not allowed to freedom of respect for their beliefs.


    In my response to LSV, I offered what I thought was something of an understanding of both sides but then Dave jumps in...with his usual blurb.

    In was, in fact, Dave, who stated in another blog, what his particular agenda was, through these conversations with Christians.


    He has also expressed, quite regularly, his bitterness because of experiences from the past and, although I would be very sympathetic to his circumstances, I feel he uses these blogs as a platform to harangue Christians when he can.

  • Comment number 63.

    Newthornley,

    Can you explain why it is not hypocritical for an evangelical christian to accuse another poster of having an agenda given that evangelism is an agenda in and of itself.

    Your other statements are not even worth a reply.

  • Comment number 64.

    Newthornley

    I think Dave has responded fairly temperately to some pretty insensitive, provocative and downright cruel posts on here. Again, just my opinion.

    When you say that I am the pot calling the kettle black, do you mean that I myself am narrow minded, etc..?

    I certainly hope that I remain ungracious and outspoken against people who choose to remain blind to the sexual abuse of children and who continue to blindly support those who covered up. "Brood of vipers" and "whitened sepulchres" werent very gracious comments and to be cast into the sea with a millstone round your neck mustnt be a pleasant experience either.

  • Comment number 65.

    Come on Dave, stop trying to pull the wool over everyones eyes.

    You know exactly what your on about and now you're hiding behind your wounded persona.

    Why not be truthful and say what you really feel for a change.


    Romejellybeen..

    You are absolutely right in your condemnation of child abuse and I totally agree....but this reflects the problem with mankind once again....'SIN'


    But don't ask Dave to agree with you on this one Romejellybeen but he doesn't believe sin exists.

  • Comment number 66.

    Love is not a sin. It is a basic human right

  • Comment number 67.

    Here are details of a shocking case of Christian bigotry that make me doubt whether homosexuals will be welcomed by churches any time soon. In this case a Christian extremist pleaded guilty to threatening to shoot dead the chief executive of Stonewall, Ben Summerskill, because of something he wrote.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/08/threatened-gay-rights-campaigner-sentence

    A disgracefully lenient sentence in my view.

  • Comment number 68.

    Newthornley,

    RJB and I may disagree on many things, such is life and the discourse we have, what I find interesting about your posts (and OT's) is that they try to marginalise people away from the people who support them as people and make them dependant on you and your beliefs. The scientologists do this much better than you but it takes a trained army where incompetency is not tolerated. Don't ever join them.

  • Comment number 69.

    LSV

    I asked them why they claimed that the Bible "clearly" condemns homosexuality, while they brazenly ignore one of the most unequivocal statements of scripture (far clearer than any statement about homosexuality), namely 1 Timothy 2:4 concerning God's desire for all people to be saved.

    It's hardly unequivocal. There is a voluminous literature on the back and forth on 1 Tim 2:4 and similar texts.

    Simply stating it's unequivocal or indisputable does not make it so. As with the clarity of scripture with respect to homosexuality, it comes at the end of an argument not the beginning. Exegesis is unavoidable.

  • Comment number 70.

    If that whats you think Dave, then we'll just have to disagree. Just feel free to stop responding to my posts.

    I'll avoid offending you if you avoid offending me.


    Ryan...you are right, love is not a sin, but why not consider those things that are.

  • Comment number 71.

    This is a valuable article from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew-
    How can you be gay and Jewish?

  • Comment number 72.

    Newthornley.

    Why would I stop responding to your posts, that is what discussion is all about, if you want to preach without feedback then perhaps you should get a pulpit in a church. I welcome your input and the opportunity to debate.

  • Comment number 73.

    RJB

    ref your question post 53 - read my answer post 52.

    I ask again - when did this thread become about *my* psychology ....and why did it?

    :)

    You asked earlier if my comments would not encourage violent attacks on homosexual people.

    I read that the Gay Police Association got into hot water for making such claims;-
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-410967/Gay-Police-Association-banned-using-Christian-hate-crime-advert.html

    Is there any credible research to support your suggestion?
    I have personally seen nice pagan heterosexuals giving out 'homophobic' abuse in an office setting and the only person who stood up to them was the bible believer.
    This is reflected in the fact that only the countries of the world where the bible has played a foundational role in culture and thought give freedom for gay marriage and gay pride parades. Think Europe and the USA, Israel.

    Now if you want to see what happens where the bible has not been such a cultural foundation think former communist bloc and muslim world, certain African states, where gay folk are still facing the state death penalty.

    Let's be honest, genuine Christians are obligated to love and forgive even their enemies - not kill them. I think history and geography testify that traditional Christian faith and freedom of speech are the best friends of the gay lobby in the world today.


    Newlach ref 56.
    I have seen this evidence interpreted exactly the opposite way before. It is most common when one identical twin is gay for the other not to be....
    This appears to confirm that people are not "born gay" and that it is not genetic. Otherwise there could be no such thing as an indentical twin with a straight identical sibling. Makes good sense?
    I dont think anyone is arguing that a "common environment" causes homosexuality. But unique personal interactions for an individual with other family members and the way an individual reacts to these due to personality differences would make sense as causitive factors.
    Putting it simply, identical twins often have very different personalities indeed, which may cause them to gel in different ways with their other family members or parents.
    There has been too much research done throughout the 20th century to say we have no idea at all what causes homosexuality, imo. Not credible.

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi LSV
    As for my "interpretation" of the bible, you cant make the new testament endorse homosexual practise without turning the meaning of language on its head - same for any other form of sex outside of marriage.
    Never in the history of abrahamic faiths have any branch of them embraced homosexual practise, up until the historically unique western homosexual culture of the past few decades has started to make certain inroads through arguments that cant seriously be sustained, in my experience.

    Ryan has backed off a serious theological discussion about this issue into rhetoric. But certainly let me see you take up the challenge where he declined. See above.

    I dont dispute that God wishes all men to be saved - but I see no clear connection with the issue we are discussing.


    Ryan - I fully accept your point that you applied your comments to yourself equally - sorry. However I cant easily accept another person defining what my purposes should be on this blog or elsewhere.

    I am not actually here "to learn to accept & appreciate difference".
    I am actually here to listen, to learn, to question, to challenge and to speak the truth in love.

  • Comment number 75.

    Dave
    Bingo. The database IS massive. And hat tip for looking it up.
    Trying searching for homosexual(ity), gay and any variation of that you can think of.

    Also look up Kinsey on wiki and see what he found about sexuality; it is not black and white (gay/straight) but a broad spectrum which for many people is fluid at different times.

    As for Jones and Yarhouse, the most important thing the study found imo was that social sciences cant come to an absolute conclusion; to say sexuality is immutable for all people at all times is just that. And such a conclusion is incompatible with social science.

    I therefore dont find your complete dismisal of Jones and Yarhouse out of hand as credible. The theories and conclusions I present were the mainstream of science through countless studies and treatements throughout the early 20th century. Way before Narth and Exodus.

    You have airbrushed Kinsey out of the argument without addressing the issues. His research gives a clear foundation for all treatment on orientation which followed, ie he proved sexuality was spectrum based and changeable for significant numbers of people at certain times.

    Another key point in Jones and Yarhouse is that all psychological research of subjects are based on the assumption of honest self reporting among the people studied. But only in modern sexual orientation studies is this assumption now flipped over to assume that those reporting orientation change are lying or mentally ill.

    Why is that? Go figure.


    Hi Newthornley - I request you show a little more agape to Dave please.


    Dave
    I havent tried to marginalise anyone away from their support base. I have affirmed your freedom of thought, freedom of choice, freedom of identity, freedom of expression. I also ask that for myself and those you disagree with.

  • Comment number 76.

    Dave

    I am also pressed to challenge you to produce evidence that attempting orientation change is harmful. It certainly appears to be true that APA were putting this line out for a long time as fact without any empirical research.

    Has any such research been done since?

    The flip side of the coin is, what research has been done to test the damage to people through refusing to treat them in line with the WHO EDO diagnosis? ie what distress does not treating people cause if they wish to be treated?

    I think Kinsey's spectrum model is a key point in this debate. His work has dated but is still without question a landmark text.

    Everyone is somewhere on a heterosexual / homosexual spectrum.

    So it sure makes sense to me that anyone with some homosexual or heterosexual side to their personality should logically be able to boost that side of their psyche, if that is their desire.
    I think that very much fits in with Mike Davidson's personal testimony.


    OT

  • Comment number 77.

    A Pdf by Soulforce - What the Bible says

    I've had a look through this. I must say its pretty weak.

    The best book on this issue is Robert Gagnon's 'The Bible and Homosexual Practice'.

    On biblical ethics in general don't look further than John Frame's 'Doctrine of the Christian Life'.

  • Comment number 78.

    Hi OT,
    I certainly take your point on agape.

    Even though it may not appear like it, I do, in fact, take the perspective of 'love the sinner but hate the sin'

    My attitude to Dave has been very pointed and hurtful and I would apologise.

    Unfortunately, I find it extremely difficult, to advocate something that I believe is wrong.

    It has made further difficult because a young member of my family was groomed and then abused by a homosexual.

    For me , it just gives further credibility to what I believe, and I find it difficult to converse with those who advocate it.


    Sorry...but thats the way I see it

  • Comment number 79.

    OT (@ 74) -

    As for my "interpretation" of the bible, you cant make the new testament endorse homosexual practise without turning the meaning of language on its head ...

    Never in the history of abrahamic faiths have any branch of them embraced homosexual practise, up until the historically unique western homosexual culture of the past few decades has started to make certain inroads through arguments that cant seriously be sustained, in my experience. ...

    I dont dispute that God wishes all men to be saved - but I see no clear connection with the issue we are discussing.


    I was discussing the concept of biblical clarity. The claim is that the Bible "clearly" states that "homosexuality is wrong" (never mind the fact that the concept of "homosexuality" is a nineteenth century invention). I made the point that there are Christians - even those who take a strong anti-gay stance - who trangress the idea of "biblical clarity" when it suits them in order to promote their favoured doctrines.

    It's difficult to find many biblical verses as clear and unequivocal as 1 Timothy 2:4 (irrespective of what Andrew says on this thread). You don't need a doctorate in Koine Greek to work out what "pantas anthropous" ("all people") means, and any Greek word for "type of, class of, category of, flavour of etc" is conspicuous by its absence. You talk about "turning language on its head". I don't know whether you have ever had the misfortune (or fascination, depending on your theological orientation) to read R C Sproul's acrobatic attempt to make this verse say the opposite of what it actually says. It needs to be read to be believed! Apparently the word "desire" somehow magically morphs into its antithesis with regard to those damnable reprobate!!

    So basically the evangelical world has some serious "form" when it comes to "turning language on its head" and ignoring "biblical clarity", when the Bible is not "playing ball" with them theologically!

    And my point in using this example is... if this methodology is permissible with regard to 1 Timothy 2:4, then why is it impermissible with regard to Romans 1:26-27?
    (By the way... you might like to know that I do not accept the idea that I am not allowed to interpret the Bible for myself, because previous generations have done all my thinking for me. Thus I reject the idea that "tradition" forces me to think in a certain way.)
  • Comment number 80.

    Andrew it still begs the question why is this relevant to you when you were 'reluctant' to speak in Christian Biblical terminology about money issues related to the PMS?

    To paraphrase 71-How can you be Gay and Christian-
    "This question only needs to be answered to those who are part of a subset of a subset of Christians: religious Christians who feel themselves bound or in some way affected by the Bible. Of course, the majority of Christians do not believe themselves to be bound in any such way. For them, the issue is much simpler: any prohibitions which may exist are historical in nature and far less important than conscience, ethics, culture, and other values

    The Bible does not forbid homosexuality. 'Homosexuality' is a modern term, a pseudo- scientific category created in 1869. It refers not only to sexual acts, but to a sexual orientation, an identity, and is today used (imprecisely) to describe a range of sexual behaviors, attractions, and ideas about the self. This way of looking at sex acts was unknown both to the Bible and to the Talmud. Where the Bible does speak of sexual acts, it has no conception that these acts relate to personal identity, or to love. It expresses no belief that such acts are indicative of an inborn proclivity, and no conception that acts "make you gay," or even that one type sex act is necessarily related to another. Those who say that the Bible forbids homosexuality are simply wrong. There is no such thing as Biblical homosexuality.

    In any case, the onus should be on those who would prohibit same-sex relations to explain their theology, the grammar of the verse, and the place of gay men (remember, none of the above applies to lesbians) in the Christian community if their souls are to be cut off in this way. After all, they are the ones who are causing irrefutable and grievous harm in the name of their reading. Therefore, rather than placing the burden of proof on those who would alleviate harm, our default position ought to be that the Bible is never supposed to hurt anyone, even in a trivial way.
    Consequently, those who would read the ambiguous verse in a way that would cause repression and distortion must meet a heavy burden for their reading to be theologically and jurisprudentially tenable.

    In fact, I would go further. Given that negative attitudes towards homosexuality cause up to 8,000 deaths each year in the United States alone, I believe those who propound such views are complicit in death and suffering. I believe God is present in love, and know from simple empiricism that God has created a spectrum of loves for a purpose we cannot understand. For these reasons, I believe it is a profanation of the Divine Name to say that God desires self- mutilation or self-annihilation. To say "the Bible forbids homosexuality," knowing the consequences of saying so, is the true abomination. It leads unknowledgeable people astray, giving them false and destructive ideas about the Divine will, leading them to reject the Bible, or Christianity as a whole. And it leads impressionable young people to mutilate their souls. To say "the Bible forbids homosexuality" causes error, suffering, and misunderstanding, and yokes the name of God to the suppression of the Godly. It is, in a word, blasphemy."

  • Comment number 81.

    Newthornley "It has made further difficult because a young member of my family was groomed and then abused by a homosexual."
    I understand. I was abused by a neighbour when I was 6. It sexualised me from a young age. This is a position many young people of both sexes have found themselves in. So we now have people whose sexuality is so deeply environmentally conditioned that it is unchangeable alongside people whose sexuality is genetic. If let's say the member of your family turns out to be, like me, gay you would want society to be as protective towards them as it is to heterosexuals. You wouldn't want him punished any more, or treated like a second-class citizen. You would just want him to find peace, happiness and be able to in some way reflect a love of God in his life.
    What needs to be tackled by these religious institutions & society in general is ABUSE (of all kinds) & not attacking the self-acceptance, peace & the love people may find despite it all

  • Comment number 82.

    LSV

    For all the disputes of whether the Bible advocates homosexuality or not, it has to be reconciled through what we read of in Genesis about creation.

    The God 'ideal' was that he created a man and then a women...for marriage....to enjoy sexual union and produce children.

    We then read of how sin entered the world...it reveals how God's ideal was rejected by man.

    He turned away from God to fulfil the desires and lusts of his own heart.

    I believe it provides the foundation for what is said in other passages.

  • Comment number 83.

    Newthornley

    A young member of your family was groomed and then abused by a homosexual. So now we know what 'investment' you have in this subject.

    OT

    I ask again, what's yours?

  • Comment number 84.

    I listened to the podcast concerning the current subject, and was absolutely disgusted by the behaviour of several ministers of Christian religion i.e. when outed, people were asked to leave the choir, but it was ok to sit in the pews and such like.
    I won't mention what Institutional religion it was because it does not matter, but I think the parishes concerned should have voted to remove their pastor.
    Were these pastors giving witness to Christ? I think not.
    I have long, long since given-up on taking a lead from institutional religion and try to be more focussed on Christ.

  • Comment number 85.

    Romejellybeen.

    I would ask you to be careful how you interpret what I have said.

    I would like to make it clear that this is not some kind of vendetta.

    The issue that I am addressing is the 'sin problem' that I believe everyone one of has.


    In my dissussions with Dave, he has highlighted his own bad experiences because of predjudice and discrimination from Christians and I do recognise his hurt.

    I did, however, feel it necessary to explain my point of view through my own experience in order to show that none of are exempt from tradgedies and pain.


    As I said before...it just added credibililty to what I already believed about mans problem with sin.


    I know that Dave doesn't believe it exists...and maybe this is as a result of what he has personally gone through...I don't know.


    All I do know is...is that for me...I believe sin does exist and that absolutely no one is exempt from it.

  • Comment number 86.

    Newthornely,

    Grooming and abuse are horrendous crimes (whether homosexual or heterosexual) but to tar every homosexual with your response to the experience is OTT. If it had been a heterosexual grooming and abuse would you have the same response. Is it possible that you are using the incident to justify your beliefs ?

    My non belief in sin is nothing to do with my experiences. Sin is a christian or religious concept - being neither means I do not accept that sin exists. I am exempt from it because you do not have the right to project it on me. You can believe what you like about sin but I do not have to give it any notice. You just have to deal with that (this is the danger of projecting your beliefs onto others - they can just chuck it back at you).

  • Comment number 87.

    OT,

    If you want to understand the damage which reparitive therapy can do I suggest you talk to the people who clean up afterwards. Talk to Carafriend in Belfast - they may even introduce you to a few people who have been through it.

    The APA position on this is a reflection of research into the casework of psychiatrists and psychologists across the USA dealing directly with the aftermath of ex gay ministries - it is not a line it is the result of that research.

  • Comment number 88.

    Newthornley -

    How do you define the word 'sin'?

    To preempt a possible predictable answer (that "sin" is simply breaking the law of God), then please also define what you understand by "law", particularly, the "law of God" and its purpose.

    I would be interested to see whether your understanding of the Bible corresponds with mine.

  • Comment number 89.

    Newthornley

    I think the experience of your family member is obviously a significant influence on you. And why wouldnt it be?

    However, like Dave, I dont think the focus on sin is helpful at all here. Life is not an obstacle course where we journey along trying at all costs to avoid sin. That is a life thrown away.

    Living life to the full, loving as best we can, will necessarily mean that we will face challenges about what is good and what is not. Sometimes we will heroically and self-sacrificingly do what is virtuous. Other times we may not.

    Every single one of us has that potential. To single out one group of people and target them as sinners - and corrupt the scriptures in doing so - is not virtuous.

    I long for the day when ALL churches will get out of people's bedrooms, see the good in all loving relationships and start focussing on the real evils of this world - poverty, injustice, - and stop reading the gospel with "the gimlet eye of a Cannon Lawyer."

    There is a freedom and liberation in the gospel which fundamentalist Christians have never been able to perceive, so fixated are they by snatching at texts here and there to bolster their own agendas.

    What is arrived at is exemplified by something you wrote earlier along the lines of, "I'll stop slagging you, Dave, when you stop slagging me."

    (And dont forget, Dave is not the one on here who is claiming to be a Christian - you are.)

    If that was Jesus' attitude, Christianity would have fizzled out and been buried centuries ago.

    We are asked to go the extra mile, to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, to pray for those who treat us badly, etc.. etc... etc.. etc.. We (me too) break these absolutely central pillars of our faith on a daily basis and opt instead to make ourselves feel better by telling ourselves that at least we are not as bad as those tax collectors over there.

    By all means be angry, but save it for the deserving targets, the hypocrites and Pharisees who would stone the perceived sinner to death, the same sinners that Jesus would certainly have counted among his friends.

    When a person claims to have experienced a powerful sense of their own brokenness/sinfulness and that is accompanied by a finger pointing at the sin of others, forgive me but I simply dont believe that any metanoia has taken place, just a very significant step towards self righteousness.

    Its a hard ask.

  • Comment number 90.

    Dave
    re post 87
    Apologies for commenting because I am an infrequent visitor to W & T and will probably remain so but I just want to make a comment 1) on the research and 2) on spiritual motivation.
    1) The Schidlo and Schroeder 2002 study which is often quoted in connection with harm being caused by change "therapies" was based on a sample that was every bit as biased as Spitzer's later study documenting change reported by people who had been thru some ex-gay programme. Schidlo & Schroeder advertised " Documenting the Damage" and invited people who felt they had experienced harm as a result of conversion or reparative therapy to contact them. It took almost 3 years to gather a sample of 200 people. They at least acknowledged the bias as did Spitzer in his study of people who said they had experienced change. Undoubtedly becuse of crude therapies or the raising of overly high expectations of change much harm has been done in some people but that does not mean that harm is inevitable. If the goal is not change to heterosexuality but management of sexual attractions in line with religious convictions then degrees of change do seem to occur, as well as in some cases increasing contentment with refraining from sexual relationships. And it may indeed be that some of those who experience change are people with a mixed pattern of sexuality ( so called bisexuals).
    Asking the question do change therapies work ? is like asking does General Practice work. So much gets lumped in and what happens is so different that there is no way of knowing what is going on.
    When it comes to Homosexuality, either causes or change, scientific objectivity has little hope of survival. The subject is so heavily politicised. The 2009 APA report does allow for management of SSA in line with religious convictions as long as change to heterosexuality is not the goal. In the process of managing it people may experience at very least a lessening of SS attractions and maybe even a emergence of latent opposite sex atttraction.

    2) A person’s motives for pursuing spiritual wholeness in any area of personal struggle needs to be a love for Christ and his glory, not simply a desire to “fix myself.” The Spirit of Christ may work patiently over many years or he may work quickly. Helping a person nurture godly motivations for his or her efforts in what is known in religious circles as "sanctification" will help. A person’s chief end in every area of "sanctification" is the glory of God and that person's communion with Him.

    BTW I am with Orthodox Tradition on most of what he/she has posted on this thread.

  • Comment number 91.

    Dave,

    My conclusions on what I believe about sin is really not based on one or two experiences and it is not strictly pointed at homosexuals either as you appear to be implying.

    As I have said, it is problem that we all have.

    Now, I know you dont believe it exists and I think I have said to you before that you are entitled to your opinion but I'm still not sure that you will allow me that privilege.

    I must say to you that I am not trying to project my beliefs upon you. You make it appear like I am trying to force feed you like child but then, at the same time how many times does a child spit out something he doesn't like.

    Romejellybeen,
    It is interesting that you should want me to refrain on my reference to sin on one hand and then ask for a refocus on other issues such as poverty and injustice.

    Do you know why we have poverty and injustice?....you guessed it...because of sin.

    The perfect scenario would be that everyone would live and behave like Christ.

    He loved the sinner but didn't condone sin and this is why he had to die on the cross.


    LSV.
    I don't think that 'sin' is merely breaking God's law. I consider it more like rebellion towards God.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    They were excerpts from an article already highlighted above - showing both angles a Catholic one & an Evangelical Christian one
    Well tbh, this is all too much of a waste of time. Society here gets what it deserves. Britain shouldn't subsidize this religious culture any longer. A waste of Tax payers money. Id rather the money went into Education & Science initiatives & let UN peacekeeprs look after the place. The Orthodox communities here have been indulged too much already

  • Comment number 95.

    I will just keep posting the words in the article in ever smaller tranches

  • Comment number 96.

    Newthornley (@ 91) -

    I don't think that 'sin' is merely breaking God's law. I consider it more like rebellion towards God.


    That's a rather minimalist answer to an important question that I posed concerning a subject that you introduced.

    "Rebellion towards God" doesn't really tell us very much, does it? And it is difficult to see how that is any different from "breaking God's law". Perhaps you could expand a bit on this theme.

    Let me get you started: rebellion against what sort of God?
  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    It was an excerpt from the article. Can the moderator explain why it allows the link, but not excerpts from the link? Why don't you just take the link away too? In fact, why not take all of them away :o) I shall keep posting excerpts. It can take 500 postings if needs be.

  • Comment number 99.

    To quote-

    Flanigan chose Maynard, who had been teaching at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic school, to supervise his work again. More and more, he was coming across religious gay men who felt forced to make a choice between their faith and their sexual orientation. Maynard had a doctorate in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. A onetime charismatic Christian, Maynard felt that it was her mission to undo the damage many churches inflicted on gay men and lesbians. As she told me, the “hate the sin but love the sinner” ethos that is the norm in many evangelical churches “doesn’t seem very loving to someone who is G.L.B.T
  • Comment number 100.

    To quote

    Flanigan consulted with Maynard to help him challenge his closeted clients’ view that the Bible condemned homosexuality. She once had lesbians and gay men in a therapy group perform the story of Sodom and Gomorrah — “a clobber passage within evangelical circles” she told me — to suggest to them that it wasn’t necessarily a story about men trying to have sex with one another (as many on the religious right claim) but, more likely, a ghastly rape scenario. With Maynard’s help, Flanigan began studying alternative interpretations of Leviticus (“You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination” could be read more generally as a call to reproduce) and the letters of the Apostle Paul. (Even Maynard sees those as “not so easily untangled.”) He found himself in discussions with clients about whether God was vengeful and angry or loving and forgiving. Sometimes Flanigan had success in getting clients to try “reconciling” churches that were open to gay people. There were times, however, when the client held fast to the evangelical faith in which he was raised.
 

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