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Against Clarity: A progressive Christian opposes rating churches on LGBT acceptance

LGBT celebration at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington on June 3, 2013. (Courtesy of Elvert Barnes Photography via Flickr creative commons)

Editor’s note: The following article is a guest post from Barbara G. Wheeler. 

(RNS) —As reported by RNS senior columnist Jonathan Merritt, an organization called Church Clarity wants to label as many congregations as possible “affirming” or “non-affirming” of LGBTQ+ members.

For decades, I have been an ally and advocate for ordination of LGBTQ persons in the church and for same-sex marriage in the church and society. Though we’ve experienced significant legal and policy changes in some quarters, I hope to see ever-wider acceptance, welcome and support of sexual minorities. For these purposes, I believe Church Clarity’s approach is likely to be counterproductive. Here are some reasons why:

Untrustworthy methods: Church Clarity allows congregations to apply for affirming (or, presumably, non-affirming) status, but labels will also be affixed based on public statements of leaders and reports from “crowdsourcing.” While the group claims that its volunteer staff verifies these data points, it does not say what counts as verification. This means that volunteers who know little about particular traditions will do some of the classifying — and frankly, they may be wrong.

Organizations are already in place in many mainline denominations and coalitions of churches that have gone through a long and careful process of choosing to identify themselves as open, affirming, “More Light,” and the like.

These organizations are more dependable guides for the person or family who wants to know how they are likely to be received than lists compiled by thirdhand report. A helpful role for Church Clarity would be to collate the membership lists of such organizations, adding other congregations that choose independently to self-identify as gay-friendly.

Poor predictors: It is often difficult to know who speaks for a whole congregation. Most are mixed theological, political and social bags. Mountains of research confirm the ideological gaps between clergy leaders and many of their congregants. Members of a local church are rarely if ever uniform in their beliefs, political opinions and views of social issues.

A congregation with a pro-LGBTQ+ policy on its website may also harbor a knot of longtime members who are uncomfortable with or even hostile to gay couples. The sole congregation in a rural town that includes everyone in the area who wants to go to church is likely to be widely diverse in theology and politics. It could never pass a policy statement on same-sex marriage, but it may fully accept its “own” gay members and elect them to leadership.

Is the former fully affirming? Is the latter fully non-affirming? Because few congregations are any one thing, published policies or lack thereof are often poor predictors of what an actual LGBTQ person or their family will experience in a particular place.

Change takes time: Church Clarity says that ambiguity on matters of human sexuality is “harmful,” but uncertainty and unclarity are often signs of change, a slow process for most of us. Many supporters and advocates of LGBTQ+ causes today were opponents when I entered the fray 40 years ago. The transformation took a long time, in good measure because sexuality is a marker issue, one that determines what groups you can or cannot belong to.

On this issue, for church members and leaders, the cost of public clarity with respect to either personal identity or theological and social views can be high. Family and church relationships, lifelong friendships, even employment are at stake. It takes time to negotiate a new stance, to come to terms with the possibility of ruptures, to find new sources of community and support.

Forcing persons and congregations to adopt a label, including the “harmful” labels of ambiguous or unclear, freezes the process of forming deep convictions at one point in time. This means that Church Clarity’s approach may make eventual affirmation of LGBTQ+ persons less, not more, likely.

No single issue identifies a church: Who LGBTQ+ persons are in the eyes of God and the life of the church is not a peripheral question. On this score, most churches have been dead wrong — and deadly wrong — with untold harm done to persons. Changing churches’ teachings on this topic and even more, their ethos, is a priority in our time.

Human sexuality is not, however, the decisive issue that determines whether a church body is acceptable or not. Churches that support by policy LGBTQ+ members and leaders may be racist or classist. Do they deserve the honorific “affirming”? And can we resist the acute temptation that comes with it to think of ourselves as righteous without remainder?

Churches that have not adopted any policy may be in the midst of a profound process of discernment. Should they be labeled “harmful” for not yet declaring themselves? Churches that have decided that, for whatever reasons, they will not host same-gender marriage ceremonies at this time and make that known may still be firmly rooted in the faith and contributing to the welfare of their communities. Should they be assigned to a category that begins with the prefix “non”?

If every church had to be unanimously clear, at every moment, on every confessional and practical topic, none could be affirmed as Christian. Church Clarity should back off and let churches live into faithfulness, supporting the inevitable confusion along the way as well as the insight at the end of the process. Putting churches into classificatory boxes makes it more likely that they will stay in them.

(Barbara G. Wheeler is the former director of Auburn’s Center for the Study of Theological Education, which she founded in 1991 while serving as Auburn’s president — a post she held for 30 years. She is co-author of “Being There: Culture and Formation in Two Theological Schools” and a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

116 Comments

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  • Yes this rating is preposterous. Then of course we must acknowledge that those who do not support LGBT lifestyles are going to be targeted which of course this is what the rating intended. I am all for basic human rights regardless, but the militant wing of the LGBT movement will not rest until everyone accepts fully what they do. We will be forced to make a choice between what we believe is sinful against God, or suffer the consequences. It’s rather ironic that as a species when a group suffers (large and small) they usually never commit to ending that suffering for all, but instead turn and enforce it on the other instead. Humanity lacks forgiveness and embraces retribution.

  • I’d be interested, what about this looks like it targets people? Isn’t it just their position centralized so people can see what they think?

  • Oh no! Churches who advocate treating LGBT as less than human are annoyed that stance is made public. What will they do?

  • “Then of course we must acknowledge that those who do not support LGBT
    lifestyles are going to be targeted which of course this is what the
    rating intended.”

    You have that reversed. The purpose is to know which churches are targeting LGBT people. This way one knows whether they will be welcomed as people or publicly by the given church attacked for the class of people they are.

    “those who do not support LGBT lifestyles”

    Cute euphemism for what is more plainly, “Discriminates against LGBT”.

    “We will be forced to make a choice between what we believe is sinful against God, or suffer the consequences.”

    Nobody is asking those churches to change their stance. Its just some people like a little honest disclosure on their take on the given subject.

    “Humanity lacks forgiveness and embraces retribution.”

    Interesting words coming from someone who is clearly looking for religious reasons to ostracize and attack an entire class of people. Rather ironic.

  • If what makes a church acceptable is that they follow the homosexual idol, then they are not a church. One attends church to worship Jesus and glorify Him – not an idol that opposes Him.
    They, and the author, need to get their priorities correct.

  • Thank you for this opinion piece and sharing your understanding of the complexities involved with church identities when it comes to LGBT issues. Grace shown is grace taught, thank you for the lesson.

  • “Human sexuality is not, however, the decisive issue that determines whether a church body is acceptable or not.”

    Ummm, for those who obsess about the sex other people may or may not be having, who reduce faith to an obsession with, who sex hide their prejudices behind their religious belief, who cannot possibly extend to gay people the same courtesy and respect that they routinely extend to all of he other people they think are going to burn in hell forever…

    yes it is.

  • “I am all for basic human rights regardless, but the militant wing of the LGBT movement will not rest until everyone accepts fully what they do. ”

    That is simply not true. It is simply slanderous, an attempt to make YOU the victim and refuse to recognize what has been done to gay people for the past 2000 years.

    You don’t have to accept anything except this: we have the right in a free society to live our lives after the fashion in which your god created us, free of prejudice, disenfranchisement, and legal disadvantagement. If you don’t like gay people, don’t be my friend. If you think gay marriage is wrong, don’t get gay married, don’t attend my wedding. I won’t be expecting a gift.

    You have no problem accepting, living with, and not disenfranchising and disadvantaging people who reject the ENTIRETY of your religious beliefs. You probably have no problems with laws protecting people form discrimination on the basis of religious belief, but I would guess most likely believe that an exception is allowable in THIS case, and this case only. That alone should tell you what this is really about.

    “It’s rather ironic that as a species when a group suffers (large and small) they usually never commit to ending that suffering for all, but instead turn and enforce it on the other instead. Humanity lacks forgiveness and embraces retribution.”

    Pot. Kettle. mirror.

  • I will also add this. I have to echo what Mr. M says below: ”

    “And your comment is why I as an LGBT person will never step foot in a church again.”

    I will probably enter a church again, both as a tourist, because I am interested, and because I have friends and relatives who will get married in a church. But the idea that the egregious sins of 1900 years against our right to live our lives, perpetrated by the hyper religious under the guise of sincere religious belief, is somehow excusable, and merits no anger or resentment, is nonsense.
    As I have often said, if the religious would just shut up on the subject, they would be surprised about how little hostility they would generate. And if they could ever manage to leave it at “We believe it is a sin”– well, they won’t, and they haven’t, because it really isn’t about religious belief, but about the prejudice, fear, ignorance, and stupidity hiding behind religious belief.

  • Umm, the annoyed writer here, Barbara Wheeler, is on YOUR side. So you’ll have to take up this “make the churches’ stances public” issue with her.

  • It’s not that simple as the author points out. She may not be able to influence the opinion of people outside the church who agree with her, but inside the church she understands what attitudes will hurt the cause she advocates. Those same attitudes are the inverse of the ones she battles. I’m pretty sure she would have no tolerance for any church that treated LGBT as less than human, she does have a tolerance for churches who could not merit church clarity’s LGBT affirming status, as would many of the LGBT who attend those churches.

  • I have spent a number of days of my personal time this past week as a Church Clarity volunteer scorer. I have three decades of non-profit experience and began my career in ecumenical media outreach. I have been on a national office staff of a faith-based organization, which required that I be familiar with the range of denominational beliefs and policies.

    I have been impressed by how the organizers of the Church Clarity effort have trained scorers and are listening to our feedback about the evolving rubric for verifying ratings. No one involved is taking this responsibility lightly. When we feel like we don’t know enough, we don’t approve a rating, and we research to increase our understanding.

    I am done waiting for change. I have been hurt when I moved to a new city and assumed that every congregation within a denomination held to expressed beliefs. No more.

    The ratings verification process is demanding. It is important to hold churches to using information that scorers can verify in online public space (a church’s own site and the media).

    If the information is unclear, that’s how the church is rated by Church Clarity. If the position is undisclosed, that’s how it’s rated. If a church demonstrates active discernment, that rating is applied. Any church that objects to their ratings has a published online method to make an appeal of their rating.

  • I’m sure the author would agree with you, but you completely changed the context that she made that statement in. A very fundamentalist tactit, surly there are broader understandings on this than simply fundamentalist ones.

  • I did change the context, and thus the meaning. But I think what I said is more accurate. I agree with her: it SHOULD not be the sole factor. but for so many, it actually is.

    Reject the entirety of fundamentalist Christian belief: no problem except for the most rabid of fundamentalists.

    Challenge the itty bitty part about gay people: watch out. The sky is falling.

    The problem is that THEY have made it the Waterloo they are going to make their stand on.

  • progressive Christian makes about as much sense as a progressive supremacist
    Christians believe their god is just, even if he tortures unbelievers…
    Matthew 10
    14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

  • “One attends church to worship Jesus and glorify Him . . .”

    Your comment reminds me that terms such as “worshiping god,” “glorifying god,” and “praising god” are nothing more than euphemisms for “kissing god’s butt” . . . in a desperate effort to avoid his infamous wrath. There really is no other reason to do those things.

  • Thank you that’s way more fair.

    The greater need here as far as the church is concerned is to replace non forgiving, non loving, non grace communicating character with forgiving, loving, grace filled character. That character, has to be protected within affirming LBGT churches. If it is not we will end up with affirming LBGT churches that are non forgiving, non loving, non grace communicating churches. LGBT is not a reflection of a persons character, love, forgiveness and grace are. The character of the church is where the need is, LGBT is the mirror it is being forced to look at itself in.

  • I think you understand the problem exactly. Thanks. But like certain posters here at RNS, it’s not a mirror they are willing to look in, and I think THAT is true because I doubt it is about faith or belief at all, but what hides behind faith.

  • The argument is something on the lines of “if people get angry, then we can’t change things”. It is an argument for feckless and ineffectual responses.

  • bears repeating:
    “As I have often said, if the religious would just shut up on the
    subject, they would be surprised about how little hostility they would
    generate.”

  • Sure, we Christians would avoid “hostility” if we just shut up like Whipped Dogs.

    But all that worrying about other people’s “hostility” for refusing to bow & kowtow on these important issues? That ain’t for me. Sure it’s a tough issue. Sure it can go right to the core of a person’s emotions, and folks do get angry. I know it’s no joke.

    BUT…. me skulking around the Back 40, mysteriously kidnapping a few good people from Gay Goliath’s little plantation, quietly wrecking the gay-marriage gig by purloining a partner or two, now THAT’s the kind of Halloween hullabaloo I like.

    (Really, I oughta put up some ads on the Dark Web, something like “The Masked Evangelist” replete with a dark cape and Transylvania outfit, and see who I can snag down there without getting myself assassinated. But I know I ain’t THAT brave!!)

  • I’m not sure that “Waterloo” will in fact be the correct analogy in the end, but I’m prepared to wait and see. “Waterloo” is such a classic example, I simply couldn’t let it pass.

  • If your saying Ms Wheeler has been feckless, ineffectual and afraid of upsetting people you need to bring some evidence with your arguement. I think you may have her pegged wrongly.

  • i wonder how many decades or centuries Ms. Wheeler would encourage gay people to sit back and wait for churches to “evolve”? We’re in 2017 not 1917 for crying out loud. There’s no reason for any gay person to wait even one minute for their church to grant them full and equal status. Just leave. There are plenty of churches that are already granting full and equal status. Or, better, don’t even bother with church. It’s nor necessary for a good life or a life well lived.

  • Alternative would be the status quo or a rolling back of the advance of human rights. Neither are likely.

  • It is my take on her objections in this article. My take on your interpretation of said objections. Evidence is right here.

  • TAGPOE! TAGPOE! TAGPOE!

    Wow, the wages in Canada must be pretty low for you to be doing cheap trolling for the Ruskies like that!

    ROTFL.

  • No, you really are bowing and kowtowing, to your mythical skydaddy, and using your myth to support your petty prejudices and bigotry.

  • “The hill on which they choose to make their stand” is a better analogy. “Waterloo” implies that the side in question was viewed as unbeatable but proved otherwise. Here, the pro-affirming forces already have the momentum. It’s they that are perceived as unstoppable at this point.

  • There was another famous battle where someone made their last stand that I wanted to cite, because it was more apropos. I just couldn’t remember it. But I’m old. That’s my newest excuse, when I remember it.

  • You sound proud of yourself, sort of like a cut-rate vampire that only feeds on rats skulking in the back 40, being afraid of the prey that carries a hammer and a large stake.

  • It may seem like the purpose is just to centralize a list of positions on LGBT church issues. In reality it appears the real goal is to pressure churches into being publicly pro-affirming.

  • I don’t understand how it could be. How is saying “this is what you believe” pressure. You believe it, own it. If a group feels pressure to change because their position has been stated, then I’d wonder if the issue is with them and not the label.

  • “lol”

    Were you properly referring to yourself as having lots of looniness?” Or did you experience a moment of rationality whereby you recognized me as having lots of logic?”

  • I was about to bless you for helping an old man out, but then I realized, that wasn’t it, either.

    I was thinking of a battle fought for all of the wrong reasons, that didn’t need to be fought at all, and the cost for which was far greater that whatever gain would have been accomplished.

    But I’m still drawing a blank.

  • Problems which are completely a product of your homosexual obsessed imagination, with just enough fact thrown in that you don’t look like a total bigot some of the time.

  • Now I’m thinking of New Coke. But even that left Coca-Cola Co. in a better overall position than it started with. Which has fueled the conspiracy theories that it was all a publicity stunt to begin with.

  • Not “proud,” because my little activity has been quite tiny, as in “nothing to write about.”

    Now courageous people like Rev. Joe Dallas, former County Clerk Kim Davis, Dr. Robert Gagnon, THEY should be proud of themselves (though their humility would prevent it of course.) They are game-changers.

    But some of us gotta start small. Not trying to defeat HRC or GLAAD (“hammers & large stakes”).

    Just trying to offer a few alternatives among the locals, and one or two forums. “Back 40” is actually good practice, good people.

    But, though not proud, I’m OK with a little boldness. I don’t mind openly chuckling “Mwahahaha”, and putting on a dark cape for all to see.

  • Kim Davis– It amazes me how much immorality you’ll endorse– no, it doesn’t amaze me at all– as long as it’s “Get The Gays” time.

  • How much grace is a homosexual-styled assembly showing by denying these people their salvation that God has for them?

    Revelation 21:8 ESV

    But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

    Revelation 22: 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

  • You fail again. Calling a person a name is not only a sign of disrespect but a failed argument. The lgbt crowd is good at doing this.

  • When you start to speak and act respectably, I’ll be happy to respect you.
    I wasn’t making an argument, but an observation.

  • No you won’t because I already speak with respect. Its your bigotry that stops you from treating people with respect.

  • Sure I will.

    I have no problem being respectful to respectable persons.

    But wait!!!! you just called me a bigot. You’re calling me a NAME.
    According to you, your argument just failed. and it is so typical of the fundelibangelist crowd.

    Tsk. and possibly…tsk.

  • John 21:21 Peter said what about him?

    So what is it to you how a “homosexual-style” assembly worships God.

  • The time period the world is in, leaves the word ecumenical pssay. If you are in a church, it is because you have not learned about the time periods in the Bible.

  • smiles….no….I would say to teach people what Christ commanded is more important and humility and no self serving would be telling the people the truth about what Christ taught – homosexuality is a sin that will send one to Hell and we don’t want them to go there. That also includes love. (And it leaves the sugar coaters still wondering what to say to not offend anyone, while they hold the person in sinful bondage)
    They can attempt to have all the humility Christ had, but if not a love and desire to assure the homosexuals are in a positive relationship with Jesus, where they are learning and following Him, it is worth nothing.
    The next step is for Christ to help them to become born again – a new creature in Christ – where the old has gone and the new has come – and they no longer need to identify themselves as filthy sin, but a new creation in Christ. They are then seen as the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
    This is where the real test of whether they allowed themselves to be born again, comes in. Do they sill have the desire for their sin, or has Christ, and pleasing Him become more important?
    He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us of our sin if we give it to Him.

    1 John 3: 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” In essence, Christians do not unrepentantly sin against Christ. We fall back at times, dust ourselves off, repent, and maybe even recommit, but we never forget who bought us with His blood and Who we owe our existence to, so we don’t continue in our sin, bringing His name to shame.
    And, the converted ex-homosexual even gets to spend an eternity with Jesus
    Double crown me. 🙂

  • “This is where the real test of whether they allowed themselves to be born again, comes in. Do they sill have the desire for their sin, or has Christ, and pleasing Him become more important?
    He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us of our sin if we give it to Him.“

    I’m not born again if I still have a desire to sin? That’s not checkers. That’s a different game. You’re playing Sandi says.

  • Even in light of their putative momentum, the pendulum of history swings in both directions and its arc is a long one.

  • While I agree that no single indicator should be used for evaluating churches, the LGBT Affirming status acts as a very significant indicator for how a given church approaches interpreting the Bible. But besides that, I find that the rating of churches even on this one indicator alone in inadequate because it lacks nuance. What about those Christians who believe in the full equality of the LGBT community in society but believe that the Church should not accept members who are practicing homosexuality? They seem to be unrepresented by the current rating system.

    One other point should be noted. We should not be as concerned about a given church is acceptable to us or others as we should be concerned about whether a given church is acceptable to God. And though the LGBT affirming/non-affirming status is an important indicator as to whether a given church is acceptable or non acceptable to God, there are many other indicators as well. And many of those indicators involve political conservatism such as whether a church is affirming or not affirming of our nation’s foreign policies, our nation’s approach to climate change, our nation’s approach to exploitive economic systems. There are too many conservative churches that are smug about their LGBT stance but are found wanting when they support many a flawed conservative political approach.

  • I thought it might have been LBH for a while, too. But I keep drawing a blank.

    We’ll Just blame the whole thing on age.

  • Do you have children Richard Rush? If YES………….are there rules of the house? Can your children just grab the car keys and drive off in the car? Can they eat junk food and stay out all night? Is there “Order” in your house?
    This is no different than a “Heavenly Father”. I don’t obey my Heavenly Father because I’m trying to ‘kiss his butt’ as you so eloquently stated. I obey Him because I respect Him and love Him and wish to spend eternity with Him.

  • So, as I’ve said elsewhere today, we do not do wrong to show right. No. I’m giving you what God says. Big difference.

  • I’m not sure I understand so just to be sure.

    God says, if the desire to please him is greater than the desire to sin the desire to sin is removed. This is real test of salvation. Cleansing and forgiveness not only removes the “stain” of sin but the desire of it also.

  • At times it does, GJ, at times we have to be more interested in Christ than our sin.
    When I quit smoking, something had to be more important than the cigarettes, or I would still be smoking. Same with sin.

  • The author is incorrect about what Clarity Church seeks to do. They do not seek to label a church as ‘affirming’, ‘non-affirming’, etc. They seek to state how CLEAR the church stance is stated. So, a church can be fully affirming, but their stance is “unclear” on their website. Conversely, a church can by non-affirming and unequivocally clear about being “non-affirming” on their website.

  • “What about those Christians who believe in the full equality of the LGBT community in society but believe that the Church should not accept members who are practicing homosexuality? They seem to be unrepresented by the current rating system.”

    This church should be labeled as “unaffirming”. No human being has the right to judge another human being as undeserving or unqualified to serve if called by God. This is not ‘full equality’. God does the calling,God does the judging.

  • Nope. Churches that are clearly and proudly non-affirming will not be pressured to be affirming. The Nashville Statement is proof of that. Those non-affirming in the name of Jesus are loud and proud.

  • Whether they will be pressured is a separate question from my point, which is that the Church Clarity project is trying to pressure them.

  • JinJoo,
    And yet, isn’t the Church suppose to use the Scriptures to determine what is right and wrong? And if someone is doing what is wrong according to the Scriptures, then shouldn’t the Church point that out?

    We aren’t bound to follow the Scriptures in society. Therefore, in society I would fully agree with you. But the Church is not society. And if the Church doesn’t use the Scriptures to determine what is right and wrong in the Church, then how is the Church different from the Scriptures?

  • Well, you’re free to draw your own conclusions. How I see it is that there are an increasing number of allies and I would rather attend a church with like-minded people who love our LGBTQ Christian kin as I do.

  • That’s fair. Then let’s point out all the people who are divorced living in adultery, gluttons, drunks, people who steal office supplies from work, etc. No sin is greater than another, correct?

  • JinJoo,
    If all sins are equal, then either believers must live perfect lives or not even believers in Christ are saved.

    Some sins show a greater state of sinfulness than others do. For example, In I Cor 5, Paul talks about the sin of the one man who was sleeping with his stepmother in ways that strongly indicate, if not implies, that his sin is worse than homosexuality. We have to look at how bad sins are on a case by case basis noting that just one sin merits damnation. So things are a bit more complicated than I can describe.

  • JinJoo,
    We are told not to judge others. And yet we are also told what the presence of certain sins indicate. Examples of the latter can be found in I Cor 6:9-11.

  • First, curt, i don’t practice. I pretty much have it down.

    Snark aside, the are Christians of your sort who believe gay people deserve and require civil equality. Thanks for that.

    My oldest friend is a minister in a denomination somewhere to the right of Attila the hun, but thinks any proscription, even within his church is wrong.

    The problem is that i suspect such nuance is not only lacking among conservatives, but isn’t sought. And the reason for that, i am increasingly convinced, is not faith, but 1) prejudice hiding behind faith, and 2) a fear that if Christianity fails to “hold the line” here, because they have staked so much on it, their credibility will be lost. That proposition of course, produces the feared result.

  • So for Sandi the real test of her salvation was that she quit smoking?
    Do you feel that your life was not, could not, be pleasing to God if you smoked?

  • The real “test” of my salvation is that I am a new person in Christ and that I care about trying to help people not go to Hell. That’s what Christians do
    I had thought for a minute, silly me, that perhaps you had wanted a discussion on this matter, rather than just fodder for silly comments. God bless.

  • “Do you have children Richard Rush? If YES………….are there rules of the house? . . . This is no different than a “Heavenly Father”.”

    It’s entirely different. The father of a child is a scientifically verifiable fact. A “Heavenly Father” cannot be verified to be anything more than a fantasy/delusion/myth or a fraud. And the rules you obey were created by the men who invented him.

  • When you say a new person in Christ, do you mean like this?

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

    And when you say, trying to help people not go to hell, you mean like this?

    20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    I think I might need a cigarette.

  • Ben,
    You shouldn’t thank me, equality is what the LGBT community should demand from everyone. I am simply giving what I owe to you and others.

    Part of the opposition to equality for the LGBT community is because American conservative Christians too often wear their religion on their sleeves. Thus they have to prove religious faith by how they oppose equality for the LGBT community in society.

    Another reason for the opposition is that they are ignorant of how the have benefited from the LGBT community both in their private lives and in contributions made to society by the LGBT community.

    Finally, too many of us religiously conservative Christians have surrendered to authoritarianism. That spurs us to be hostile to those who don’t follow the rules.

    At least that is what I see. I think you are correct in what you say about prejudice. And what I said about wearing religion on our sleeves corresponds with point #2 that you made.

  • But, Curt, I DO THANK YOU. It is rare to see someone who identifies as a Christian conservative who does not also identify as an authoritarian and dominionist.

    I think your observations are definitely true.

    1) Gay people are easy to attack, or at least, used to be, so it’s very easy to prove one’s Christian cred by doing so. The Boy Scouts did this for years, until they could no longer get away with it, and actually had to address the mo.estation problem in their organization.

    2) Frankly, they don’t care about the contributions of gay people to society, any more than earlier societies cared about the contributions of black people, or of Jews. Bigotry doesn’t work this way, whether it hides behind religious beliefor admits what it is.

    3) authoritarianism is easy, and to my mind, demonstrates a complete lack of faith. “Believe what I believe or I’ll hurt you.”

    Thanks again.

  • Ben,
    Thank you very much for the kind words. It is difficult for us religiously conservative Christians to break that authoritarian trap. That is because authority structures are so very much a part of almost every relationship we have. And thus we don’t know how to turn off the authority button and that causes us to be authoritarian.

    I got out of the authoritarian part by reading people outside our bubble. And I started to read outside of our bubble because the person who has since become my best friend for 22 years showed the kind of love towards people that I rarely saw Christians show. So I figured that I should read other people and I started with MLK and Noam Chomsky. So the reason I am where I am now where I can make contributions is because of the people God put in my life. I do have a lot of faults though.

  • Where’s a Christians equality when they want nothing to do with the lgbtq flaunting their sin for all to see? And then states that their sexual sin is fine with God.
    Romans 1:32. For you.

  • Where does that say anything about the physical expression of love between two committed adults?

  • D.M.S.,
    The question I ask my fellow religiously conservative Christian is this: How should we share society with others? Democracy demands that we share society with others as equals. But our authoritarianism and the American trend of wearing one’s religion on one’s sleeve begs to differ.

    BTW, I look at Romans 3:9 as the main point of Romans 1-2.

  • But AFTER Paul quoted what others were purportedly saying about homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27, Paul stated in Romans 2:1, “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” For instance, many heterosexual marriages become idolatrous and abusive.

  • Ben,
    For those who believe that they are saved by God’s grace alone, when we judge others, it is because we have forgotten about being saved by God’s grace alone. Our faith is imperfect.

  • Where are the Christians when they claim they want nothing to do with heterosexuals flaunting their sins?

    They vote for Trump.

  • I have yet to read or have seen on television ONE.
    Adulterous, Divorcee, Pride Parade. Flaunting their Sin.
    HAVE YOU!!!!!
    And I’m sure that MSNBC, CNN, ABC and Huffington Post would of covered it for the world to see or read.

  • But notice that in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Paul tells the Church TO judge someone committing incest, but when homosexuality is mentioned, he tells them NOT to judge in Romans 2:1. But perhaps 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 is where you derive the idea of not condemning homosexuality in the larger society, but rather within the Church. But remember that passage was about incest as well as greed and reviling and not homosexuality. Paul defines incest AS porneia in 5:1 and there when he talks about pornos in verse 11, he is talking about incest. He never specifically called homosexuality porneia, like he did incest in 5:1.

  • You have trump instead, flaunting his sins.

    Do you know why there are divorce pride parades? Because you have absolutely no problem with divorce. It’s not illegal. No one has been put in jail for getting divorced, denied a job for getting divorced, lost custody of their Children for being divorced, kicked out of the military for being divorced, not elected to high office for being divorced, call a threat to e erything good and holy for being divorced…

    Or verbally assaulted by self righteous a-holes hiding behind their religion for being divorced. The only thing divorced people are ever subjected to is a resounding tsk tsk.

  • And you have obammy’s sins and Clintons sins for your world.
    It was their choice to become gay, bi, and trans. And now you and them are whining about the consequences.
    If we check history I’d say there was a time when a divorce and or adultery could have people lose their job, and or children in custody cases.
    I’ve even read about children custody cases where a parent has kidnapped a child or children and headed for Arizona.
    Arizona won’t extradite in those cases.

  • So, in short, when confronted with the obvious fact that all of your whining about values, morals, and sin is really just a sham, you change the subject. Good job.

    Once again, you me of the last places I would ever look for morals is someone who proclaims himself a bible believing Christian and who is always pointing his fingers at sinners— other people, of course.

  • Of course that’s what you think but in reality.
    I’m a sinner.
    I’m a sinner,
    I’m a sinner.
    I can repeat that if you like.
    I’m a sinner.
    Just like everyone else is a sinner.

  • It’s not about “those supporting” or not. It is about the the Word of God says. The Scriptures are clear. Homosexuality is an ABOMINATION, a mockery of God’s glory, order, purity and design. Please do not come with your Gods blaming attitude. After the fall, men became sinful and mortal. And the consequences are out there. Once a church walks away from the Scriptures, anything goes. It’s all about peoples feelings, sensitivities, sin desire, lifestyles, addictions, opinions and cultural pressure. Jesus loved all and invited all to be TRANSFORMED by him. Not to have their fallen sinful state embraced by Him. He ever did that. In fact Jesus was very upset and rough with those cherishing their sin. Either tax collectors, religious leaders and all the rest. To the prostitute he said. I do not condemn you now. I forgive you. BUT goes and SIN NO MORE. TRUE CHRISTIANS WILL NEVER BOW DOWN TO SIN!!!

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