Archive for the ‘homosexuality’ Category

We all know that Russia in general and Putin in particular is not exactly leading the way in LGBT rights at this time in the world.  In response, the Colbert Report did a fun set of pictures on Putin.  They noted that the president is totally straight based on his shirtless hunting, shirtless fishing, and of course, his shirtless horseback riding.

Nothing could be more heterosexual.

It is too hard to resist coming up with log lines based on his photos.  So as an exercise in creativity (and perhaps immaturity), let’s begin spoofing one of scariest, most powerful men on planet earth:

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After crash landing in the wilderness, a head-of-state and the leader of opposition party discover each other. –Rivals on the River

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A wealthy dom seduces male submissives in a game that involves the wilderness, a head start, and tranquilizer darts. –The Most Dangerous Love

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Vladimir Putin rides in the gay pride parade. –Vladimir Putin rides in the gay pride parade.

There you have it everyone.  Gay male erotica isn’t my genre, but it might be yours.  Feel free to run with any of these log lines in your own blog.

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>After a few days of following the recent “scandal” of Anne Rice’s departure from the RCC, I feel like I can comment.

Her interview at CNN revealed a few things beyond what was on her facebook page. A nice article from Crosswalk gave some solid admonishments to react to her as something other than a turncoat.

Anne Rice, as is known to most people by now is frustrated by the anti-gay/feminist/democrat tendencies in Christianity. I think this is pretty common among a lot of Christians. The loudest voices in churches tend to be part of that group, but for every speaker that is vilifying homosexuals, feminists, and liberals that are a likely a dozen Christians who fall into at least one of those three categories. If not, I know that there are many more who are equally annoyed with our approach.

Christians who are thoroughly annoyed with the conservative Christian platform, usually find churches that do not endorse the conservative Christian platform.

Anne Rice sounded rather protestant when she was mentioning that she could not find in scripture a basis for the church’s political platform. Now in fairness to her opposition, I do not think they ever claimed that it ever was. The RCC position on that matter uses scripture and is also guided by reasonable philosophy and tradition. Rice’s detractors, as irritable as they might be, are right to criticize her on this point.

The impression I get from her interview is that Anne Rice is frustated/exhausted, and I can actually sympathize. She’s angry because she is a celebrity Christian and probably getting more chaff than she ever wanted. I suspect that a huge motivating factor is a desire to be left alone and not feel the pressure anymore. I do not think she wants anyone getting in her face(book) when ever she posts an article that advocates for things that are close to her heart. Fame, I think, is a bit of killer when it comes to dissenting with Christian authorities.

As POD once angrily sang:

I can’t do anything right!
You don’t know me. Stay out of my life!
Kick me while I’m down, I don’t want you to.
I can’t be like you.
I don’t want to be like you.

But do watch the video if you care. What is your reaction to Anne Rice?

>

Every once in awhile, in the world of American politics, someone comes a long and shows us how absurd we all we are. To paraphrase Neitzche, some one does politics with a hammer. The activist with a hammer today is John Marcotte who is starting a grass roots campaign to rescue marriage from the evils of divorce.

Marcotte is confident that those who defended traditional marriage with Prop 8 last year will be just as supportive of his ban divorce. To do otherwise, would be hypocritical.

I am sure many Christians out there don’t appreciate the joke. Snide remarks on his website like “hell is eternal, just like your marriage was supposed to be” are likely to get under people’s skin. Yet he has a point he is trying to get across and it wouldn’t be right to ignore the issue that his project raises. Such would seem to affirm his accusation of hypocrisy. Instead, I think maybe we need to think carefully about the problem reflect on our own social ethic. While I don’t think the charge of “hypocrisy” really sticks, I think there is a serious question about consistency on this issue.

The problem is this: What exactly does defending marriage mean? Conservative Christians have fairly clear idea of its definition: marriage is between man and women. Thus, many Christians felt that it made sense to vote “yes” on Prop 8 because that affirms the traditional view. The reasoning behind the social ethic was fairly simple for most:

1. Christians believe that marriage is between man and a woman.
2. Therefore, we should make sure that is the law.

Now, there are many other arguments that were added, but I don’t think there is much doubt that at the root, it Christians defended traditional marriage because this is the way God intends it. Defending it means protecting it with secular law.

So why not do the same thing with divorce? Jesus condemns divorce explicitly in the Gospels. While we all know many divorced Christians, few Christians say that divorce is concept we want to endorse any more than gay marriage. So consider this reasoning:

1. Christians believe that marriage should not end with a divorce.
2. Therefore, we should make sure that’s the law.

What is preventing us from taking this route? If defending marriage means making secular law that affirms what Christians think about it, then legally recognizing divorce is just as much of a problem as legally recognizing gay marriage. Many of the anti-gay marriage arguments apply here too. Non-divorce is clearly better for procreation and raising children. How might this charge of inconsistency be resolved?

I know that many thoughtful Christians will offer good reasons of how to resolve this issue. Here is mine: Traditional, Christian, ideas about the religious sacrament of marriage cannot be defended by appeals to secular law. I do not think that secular law has the right to define marriage at all, whether “marriage” accepts gays or not. I would happily take a “civil union” if that means my religion -and only my religion- defines my marriage. It was on this principle that I abstained from voting on Prop 8 last year. If Christians want to defend our religious practices, than we need to do it with our own religious institutions and not hold hands with secular law.

This may not be convincing to some, and that’s okay. My way may not be the best way. But I still feel there needs to be a way out of the inconsistency. If you have another and better way, please post it!

After all, someone has to shut up the activist with the hammer.

And if you liked this little blog, go ahead and re-post on facebook!

>A slower-to-judge friend of mine posted a this interview with Rick Warren in one of my comments. It appears that I, and others, may have been quick to pass judgment on Rick Warren regarding the whole double-speak thing.

Rick Warren defending himself (and successfully, I might add), explaining that the video in question was not a public statement, but video was intended for his congregation alone. He said:

The truth is, Proposition 8 was a two-year campaign in the state, and during those two years, I never said a word about it until the eight days before the election, and then I did make a video for my own people when they asked, “How should we vote on this?” It was a pastor talking to his own people. I’ve never said anything about it since. I don’t know how you take one video newsletter to your own church and turn that into, all of a sudden I’m the poster boy for anti-gay marriage.

He later explained that part of his beef is that the homosexual community does not believe that someone like Warren (and by extension, other Christians) can love them, be friends with them, yet disagree with homosexual (“gay is the new black”) political platform. In this, I actually empathized with him. It is frustrating but perhaps expected: Christians are taught to love those who are different from them and their own, but we do not always get the same treatment in return.
There were other statements that Warren made that I was happy about it. For instance, he took a stand on non-interference and refused some government money. Wisely, he did not want strings attached. I cannot support him enough in this. I do not have, in principle, a problem with many para-church organizations that do accept federal money, but there is often a cost of identity that I think may make it not worth it.

If I could ask Rick Warren one question it would be this. Refusing government money, because you don’t want the government to mess with your religion, is sound and classical libertarian principle. The government does not get its fingers into the church’s businesses. On the same token, why endorse a “yes” vote on prop 8? The Christian definition of marriage is something that Christians should defend. Why should we allow the government to have its fingers in it? The opinion of the body politic means little to me for what marriage is, for the same reason that the opinion of the body politic means little when it comes to baptism. Such is a similar classical libertarian principle that makes accepting money from the government a bad idea. So why care about prop 8?

>As many of you know, Rick Warren recently denied, on Larry King, that he ever supported California’s prop 8. Yet it is quite obvious that he did when he, was very clear about it that he did. You can read a whole article about it here*

His denial very much bothered me. He seemed to be back-pedaling from a corner he stuffed himself into. He wants away from the gay issue now (not on his “agenda”), which one can completely empathize with, but still a lie is a lie. I can understand him if he wishes to recant some statements, re-think some actions and opinions, or apologize to those he may have offended. This isn’t it though. He seems to by lying and trying to play politics in order to appease the masses.

Some have suggested a nice, charitable reading of this action: maybe Rick Warren forgot what he said. This seems unlikely. Churches run like companies, and Warren is the CEO. The issue of gay marriage probably came up many, many, times in meetings. He and others likely spent either a long time discussing this issue. The prop 8 question could not have escaped Saddleback church. How likely is it that he could ‘forget’ what he communicated to his congregation on this incredibly hot issue, which was campaigned for and debated about for months?

Maybe by never making a public statement, Warren had something in mind like a press conference or some kind of “on the official record” court testimony. However, but a pastor of his influence should understand that he is under public scrutiny, whether by pulpit or press conference. These days, youtube is enough to make anyone eat their words.

Of course, I have never been a fan of Rick Warren. Neither do I count myself as one of his detractors, but if he continues to pull dishonest, insincere, political double talk, I believe that he will find himself disliked by the sides he tries to appease.
============
*thanks, Allison

>Much of Mel White’s article talks of civil liberties. Prop 8, the prop to ban Gay marriage (again) in California, is on the next ballot here in California. I can kill two birds with one blog, as well as hammer the Gay-issue done for now, at least for purposes of this blog. When I go vote, I am not voting “no” on prop 8. I am not voting “yes” either. If I do anything with that section of the ballot, it will be to take a black pen and scrawl “category confusion” across it. The best thing I can do is abstain on Prop 8.

Let me frame it in some context and background. There are two competing groups with two competing, but not necessarily mutually exclusively agendas. On one side of the ring, we have the homosexual couples that would like all relevant economic, medical visitation, and other legal benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples. On the other side, are religious conservatives who believe that their definition of marriage should protected against secular encroachment. What I think, along with a few others, is that both groups should be reconciled according to a certain principle of liberty –“one group may believe, speak, and practice whatever it wants to, as long as it does not intrude on what another group wishes to believe, speak, or practice.”

Additionally, I also think that definition of marriage is the proper domain of religion, not government. I have never like this scenario: when at a wedding the pastor is obligated to say “by the authority of the State of California” in the same breath as he says “by the authority of God.” Am I really the only Christian who thinks this is strange? Whenever I get married, I don’t really care for the “authority of the State of California” since I think marriage is a sacrament from God, administered to Christians, for the life of the Church. It is not a driver’s license or passport. The state has no authority in this matter anymore than it does to legally define a Baptism.

This is part of the reason why I refuse to vote on 8. Either way I choose, I imply that I believe the government has the right to do something it doesn’t. When people ask the government whether or not gays should marry, (or whether or not only heterosexuals should marry), the government should scratch its head and reply, “Why are you asking us? Go to a church.” This places the religious sacrament where it belongs. Churches/Denominations can then decide the gay-marriage issue according to their own polity, ecclesiology, and leadership.

Now of course, there are several legal aspects attached to marriage as it understood right now. If a couple is married, they file their taxes differently. They also have hospital visitation rights. There are plenty of other aspects that need not be expressed here. For all these, I support the parallel concept of a civil union. I believe that homosexual couples and heterosexual couples should have to get these civil unions for whatever legal benefits need be. I think that the rights in question should be the same for both. There is no reason to deny a homosexuals hospital visitation rights or force them to still file as “single.”

In the end, this model is simple. Do you wish to be married? Find a church for your wedding. Do you need legal benefits? Go to the courthouse for your civil union. This reflects the principle of liberty I mentioned earlier in this blog. Both groups do as they please so long as they do not intrude on other’s toes.
Some may object to this because it still reflects anti-gay bigotry. After all, I have not allowed gays to get married. This is a misunderstanding, as I want gays to have the same legal rights as heterosexuals. Yes, I think they should be legally barred from marriage, but that is because I think that marriage is not legal concept. If homosexuals want to be married, there are plenty of churches that will do it. But even if homosexuals can’t find one, they will have to accept that they are not accepted. Legislation cannot change the beliefs of religion. But I think that most of the homosexual lobby is concerned with getting the legal rights. I don’t think they really want to “change marriage” or trespass on someone’s religious beliefs.

Others may say that even though I don’t like it, I should still vote “yes” on Prop 8 to “protect marriage.” There are many reasons for this: the proper rearing of children is a common argument. Another is that marriage will simply lose its meaning if homosexuals get married.

To this I reply that I don’t think gays getting married could harm marriage any worse than heterosexuals already have –especially evangelical heterosexuals. Even though there are plenty of great Christian marriages out there, the divorce rate among evangelicals is actually higher than it is in the general populace. I have not even hit thirty yet, and I have had to see half a dozen divorces in between Christian couples younger than me. Furthermore, simply because a marriage gets the genders right, doesn’t mean it is everything a marriage ought to be. Does anyone out there doubt the occasional sham of a Christian marriage does less harm than two gay people? I think not. Maybe instead of blaming the judicial branch or the “gay others”, Christians should look at their own community and figure out what it is that we are doing so wrong that it causes these problems.

So there is my explanation. Neither a “yes” nor a “no” vote on prop 8 truly reflect my views. Both of them imply something I disagree with. I believe that people should have the legal rights conferred to them regardless of their orientation. Above all, I think the definition and defense or marriage is the role of the church.


With this blog, I mark the end of the homosexuality discussion. Feel I’m completely wrong? Totally full of it? A bigoted religious blowhard? A spineless liberal Christian? Then feel free to email me at uberbeanmail@gmail.com I plan to post responses in a later blog.

>In this third blog I must deal with a seemingly straight foreward appeal that Dr. White makes – the appeal to science. His claims are twofold: the Holy Spirit can use science to correct Christian viewpoints on sexuality, and that science, those it does not yet know why, shows that homosexuals do not have a choice in their orientation. I must confine my response to the first claim. I believe that Dr. White’s appeal to science makes the serious mistake of oversimplifying it, and in the end it gets Soul Force no traction.

White is clear on the role of science. He writes, “Often, the Holy Spirit uses science to teach us why those ancient words no longer apply to our modern times.” After that, he cites a psychological study that concludes homosexuality is not a mental disorder. Instead, it something caused by yet unknown pre-natal and post-natal conditions. He also appeals to a 19th century social scientist, Karl Ulrichs, who showed that homosexuals “are a whole class of people whose drive to same-sex intimacy is at the very core of our being.” He even further explains that science, not scripture, is the proper tool for judging homosexuality and sexuality in general.

There is good reason why White appeals to science. Science, in our context, is enshrined as objective, unbiased, and unquestionable. As Rorty said, Science is the religion on the Enlightenment. It is pursued with the same zeal. It claims to have the same scope of explanation (everything). Some have even described scientists as the priests of our society. Most importantly, science is free from religious (and more broadly philosophical value) concerns. Science must be all this things for Soul Force’s argument to work. If White can make a good appeal to science, then we (good citizens of western civilization) must concede.

The problem is science is not so simple. Science (following Thomas Kuhn), is never done as objectively as we thought it was. Science is always done from a specific paradigm: a set of rules, assumptions, and questions. These paradigms come before the conclusions of science. They influence what it looks at. They decide what science will talk about. They set the parameters for what counts as a “proof.” They exclude data that does not fit the paradigm. Something other than the (high school textbook version of) the Scientific Method decides what makes up these paradigms. Most importantly, paradigms may not be neutral in the sense that Mel White needs them to be. This understood, how should Christians approach psychology? What will show us what “ancient words” no longer apply?

Consider the following examples. The famous psychologist Jean Piaget concludes that it is natural for children to believe that everything has purpose and/or is guided by God, but as we grow into maturity we learn to forego these notions and think scientifically. A more recent scientist, Herbert Simon, argued that altruism (helping others instead of reproducing yourself), is best understood through survival traits: our survival ability to learn from others (in this case, altruism) accidentally overrides the more rational need to reproduce our own damn genes.

These are appeals to science. It is a similar discipline that White appeals to. Now, what Christian sees these conclusions and says to them self, “I see! It is good to know that the Bible passages about altruistic behavior no longer apply, since science has shown it does not really come from God. In fact, the idea that religion is for grown-ups seems wrong now too. Christianity should now be properly restricted to children. I am glad I am an up-to-date Christian who knows that science corrects ancient words.” I do not think many people would. But why are we justified in doing so?

To be clear, I do not believe that science cannot inform faith. What I believe (and credit Alvin Plantinga for) is that science, especially the social sciences, are not wholly neutral and free from philosophical value judgments as Mel White may believe. Many “conclusions” about science may demand a philosophical commitment to atheism. Plantinga argues that science often makes its allegedly neutral conclusions (such as Piaget’s and Herbert Simon’s), from the perspective of certain philosophical values (what makes a person “mature”) that are in conflict with faith. When science does influence faith, it must be done from the perspective of faith.

This is why the appeals to psychology and such cannot help Mel White’s case. Value judgments about homosexuality precede the conclusions of science. They make up part of the paradigm. Many more value judgments –free will, the mind, human origins, etc- also make up the paradigm. These hidden assumptions need to be dealt with before we jump on board with Ulrich. For Christians, these values are informed and influenced by the Bible and Christian tradition. Using science to tell Christians what Bible verses don’t apply puts the cart before the horse.

Far more could be said here. It is short for sake of brevity. What I am showing here is that Mel White needs an objective, value-free, and neutral basis (“science”) in order to make his appeals here on homosexuality strong. The problem, he doesn’t have that, because science [i]isn’t[/i] that. If Mel White wishes to invoke Ulrich and expect us to follow, why would he not also follow Simon and Piaget? Certainly, there are ways to bring science into the debate, but not simply on the “science says this ‘is,’ therefore, this ‘ought’” type of argument.

Mel White makes one last appeal to Science. It is mixed in with the emotive appeals that are run throughout the article. He of course, references the familiar story of the Copernican revolution. I intended this to be a fourth blog, but it feels superfluous. Besides, I am growing tired of dealing with this subject. My final blog will contain a very timely (thanks facebook!) explanation of how I feel about Prop 8. You know, that proposition that I want to abstain from voting on.

Thanks for reading. Now go read Kuhn. 😀

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>Having dealt with the rhetorical appeals, I cautiously move onto Mel White’s talk about scripture. I will write mostly on his fourth through sixth premises. I had lousy adjuncts as my Bible professors, so this section will be short. This section might be entitled “What Mel White shows, and doesn’t show, about homosexuality.”

Mel White’s first premise is this:

The Bible is a book about God–not a book about human sexuality. The Bible is a story about God’s love for the world. It tells the history of God’s love at work rescuing, renewing, and empowering mankind. It was never intended to be a book about human sexuality. Certainly, you will agree.

Certainly this is questionable? Obviously, all people think the Bible is a book about God’s relationship with humanity, but why on earth should we believe that this excludes a discussion about our sexuality? A wise Bible professor (who is on the other side of the debate) once said that sex is not bad, sex is powerful. Since the Bible is about “God’s love at work rescuing, renewing, and empowering mankind,” wouldn’t we expect it to deal with something as powerful as sex? Is White’s first premise not as strange as “The Bible is a book about God –not economics and money” or “The Bible is a book about God –not governments and rulers”?

To support this claim, White proceeds to list off a series of obscure, agreeably out-dated, passages from the Old Testament. White wants to remind us that much of what the Bible says about sex we do not follow. Yet in this assertion, he defeats his first claim: the Bible is not a book about human sexuality. Perhaps he means “The Bible is not a book primarily about human sexuality.” Yet this still doesn’t mean that we should simply be dismissive when we find in the Bible discussing it. It is true that much of the old laws that White cites are obscure and strange –and we should not follow them literally, but this does not mean that God no longer uses scripture to inform our sexuality.

From here, Mel examines several verses from the Bible. I think he does a good job with most of them, however, I must take issue with interpretation of Genesis creation story. Mel uses his first premise (The Bible is about God, not sexuality) to completely dismiss a priori any discussion the creation story might say on sexually. I do not think that this is fair. Maybe the creation story does not condemn homosexuality, but I think it affirms heterosexuality.

The reason I believe this is because of the work of Catholic philosophers like Peter Kreeft. In short, human heterosexual romance and sexuality is a reflection of God’s self-contained love within the Trinity. This extends to his love for creating. Heterosexual romance points us towards a “sharing” in the creation of the pinnacle of God’s creation through reproduction. This is a type aesthetic beauty that cannot be found in homosexual relationships. What makes this point even stronger is that there was no logical need for God to create two different genders in order to reproduce. For some reason, God saw fit to create male and female.

Mel White does not address this well. His counter arguments of older couples or sterile couples still ignore a connection between heterosexual romantic feelings and our joining with God in the creation of new life. His treatment of the creation story is simply far to reductionist. It is Mel White that misses hearing something here, not the conservatives.

Mel White’s treatment of Sodom is much better. You do not have to be liberal to think that this passage is not a condemnation of homosexuality itself. One general rule of interpreting scripture is that “scripture best interprets scripture.” So if Ezekiel tells us that Sodom was destroyed for pride, greed, and arrogance, then the conservatives ought to concede that point. Now of course, this may not be an either/or issue. God had plenty of problems with sexual sin that went on there too. But violent rape is not an essential element of homosexuality. Therefore, I do not think that Christians should appeal to Genesis 19 to condemn homosexuality.

The remaining passages that Mel White cites I do not feel competent to comment on (like I said, two lousy adjuncts), so I will be silent on them. From here, let us temporarily concede all of Soul Force’s remaining points about scripture. Let us also ignore the Genesis issue. I’ll even feign agreement to White’s point that the Bible authors knew nothing about homosexuality, since it wasn’t “discovered” until the 19th century.* How far has White taken us?

What White has done, and what I think is the best that liberal wing can do with scripture, is show that scripture does not explicitly condemn homosexuality. What he has failed to do is show how scripture affirms homosexuality. This may not seem like a problem for some, but it ignores Christian tradition. Throughout history, when Christians have broken with tradition (say, the debate about woman in church) they usually point out to how scripture affirms their (newer) viewpoint (Jesus, a radical Rabbi, spoke to women). Why is Soul Force, in this huge pamphlet, not pointing out the affirmation? Is this silence the real reason behind premise four? I, for one, would love it if the liberals could produce an affirmation of homosexuality.

The liberal wing has a lot against them. They have, thus far, an unanimous agreement of all Christian Doctrine so far –even post reformation. They also have much of Christianity outside Europe and North America in disagreement with them. Until they can produce a very compelling affirmation for homosexuality, the lack of a “yes” from scripture remains their Achilles’ Heal.

Throughout the article, Mel White used science to affirm homosexuality. It will be this subject I deal with in the third blog.
Thanks for reading.


*Although I find this view absurd. Google “homosexuality in history” to see why.

>As promised, I have will now be dealing Soul Force’s article on Christianity and Homosexuality. Dr. Mel White is no fool, and I respect him and think what he is doing important, as I implied previously. I hope to be as fair as possible to him in these next few blogs, but let the reader be the judge. In this blog, I will deal with his first three premises.

White’s first premise is very well put: “As you know, Biblical ignorance is an epidemic in the United States.” He goes on to say that his relates to homosexuality in particular. On this, I am in complete agreement. Biblical ignorance is an epidemic in American Christianity. This ignorance does show its head quite well in the homosexuality debate.

I offer your average Christian retail store as evidence. Like any businesses, a Christian bookstore sells what the public is buying. The books that sell the most are something like a “Christian Self-help” or devotional books for prayer life. You may also find books that target people by their strata in life: college student, parent, teacher, man/woman, businesses professional etc. However, commentaries, hermeneutics books, etc are almost always in a small section in the back –if indeed at all. Bottom line, if you look at the simple volume of what a Christian book store presents, it’s evident that most Christians are more likely to buy “Power of a praying wife/husband/child etc” than they are “Social World of Ancient Israel.”

No one is saying the former “popular literature” is wrong. No one is saying that all Christians need to become great exegetes. What I am saying is that I am doubtful whether most Christians are even aware of the complexities of interpretation. Thus they are not in a position to discern what is written in the more popular books. Much more could be said on this point alone. For purposes of this blog, it is enough for me to reiterate that I think that Mel White is correct in this assessment.

White’s second premise is “Historically, people’s misinterpretation of the Bible has left a trail of suffering, bloodshed, and death.” He then goes on to cite the various tragic examples from church history. He believes that the tragic hate-crimes against homosexuals are also an extension of this same trend.
This is a highly emotional appeal that must be dealt with carefully. Clearly, I am not in doubt that these things have happened, nor do I think that they good. Hate crimes against homosexuals are not right, on any grounds. They are not justified, no matter what scripture says or does not say about sexuality. This goes the same for racism and such. These emotive appeals give the hetero-sexual Christian community insight into how the homosexual community sees the issue.

The problem is this: it takes a lot more than an interpretation of scripture (right or wrong) for someone to commit acts of hatred or even to endorse them. Does White really believe that anytime someone disagrees with homosexuality that he also wants to go out and shoot homosexuals? No, in fact he says so. Therefore, I think this premise is mostly a rhetorical fear appeal that adds little to the real weight of his argument. Truthful though it may be, it serves only to grab the reader’s attention through sympathy.

Finally, there is White’s third premise: that we must be open to new interpretations of scripture. To this premise, I think all Christians can give a qualified yes. More importantly, we should be humble enough to be corrected. The conservative wing should be careful about their own viewpoints, bias, and prejudices and not simply recourse to “the Bible clearly says…” But this should go both ways, correct? The “liberal wing” should also be aware of their own viewpoints, bias, and prejudices. Appealing to the Holy Spirit “leading us to all truth” will not erase these things, and neither will the few fear appeals that White sprinkles in here, as he did with the previous premise.

I think White’s first few premises were more rhetorical than logical. The purpose of these things is to get the reader’s attention and subtly move the reader towards agreement with soul-force. He does this largely through appeals to fear and sympathy. While I do not think these things are wrong, I think it is very important to point them out. While we certainly should all recoil in aversion to the hate crimes other things, we should not automatically recoil in aversion to the conservative position. Sympathy and understanding are important, but they are not the sole arbiters.

Of course, I think the author knows this. His further points show this. They are specific views about scripture and about science. I will deal with both, but I will deal more strongly with the latter.

>I didn’t want to do it, but I have to do. Homosexuality is too much of a hot button issue to avoid. I need to make a few blogs about homosexuality and Christianity. With prop 8 on California’s ballot next month, I have to say not just something, but several things. The first of these, will be some ground work on the subject.

First, I am primarily concerned with homosexuality debate within the Christian church. This eventually spills out into politics, but what these blogs will be mostly about is homosexuality and a Christian conscience and from Christian symbols, traditions, and other authorities. To this end, I’ll be responding to Soul-force article I recently read.

Secondly, within this context, I believe the burden of proof is on the “liberal” or “pro-homosexual” group. Both sides of the debate believe in the authority of Holy Spirit, traditions of the church, and Scripture and the complex interplay between them all. The “liberal” side of the argument has not only the majority of history against them, but the majority of the Christians world-wide against them. This debate takes place primarily in America and Europe. It is not taking place in Africa. As far as I know, the liberal side is not willing to deny that the Holy Spirit moves in both of those sources. Note, neither of these reasons mean the “liberals” are wrong, only that they have the burden of proof.

Third, I do not hate homosexuals. Is it is understandable that many people believe that if you disagree with homosexuality that you are hateful to homosexuals. After all, there have been highly publicized hate crimes on the subject. I am sure many people reading this have perhaps experienced hatred or anger. Despite these highly emotional and tragic experiences, it is still unfair to generalize the hatred to all Christians, or to assume that the conservative position must lead to such hatred. I do not generalize that all homosexuals started off as psychologically troubled teenagers (perhaps “troubled teenager” is redundant), even though I’ve meet plenty who were. All conservative Christians should be afforded the same courtesy.

Furthermore, members of the “liberal” group should not be derided or falsely caricatured. Accepting gay marriage does not make someone un-Christian. It does not someone make stupid, sinful, or brainwashed by the sexual revolution. The liberal group is trying to live out the Gospel as best as they can in relation to one of the most difficult issues the Church faces. The debate about homosexuality is one that is needed and should be handled charitably.

Fourthly, I am going to avoid the use of the word “tolerance.” I am going to avoid this term because I am never sure of what it actually means. Some say it is “accepting people who practice a life style you do not affirm.” But is it possible for me to “accept” someone in the sense they desire without also “affirming” their lifestyle? I do not know. Rather than wrangling over this definition, I will instead use one of my own: liberty. I will use this is the classical, John Stuart Mill sense. Liberty means that “One can speak, believe, or do whatever one wishes to do so long as it does not interfere or prohibit what someone else wishes to speak, believe, or do.” Notice that this is a two-way street. The logical implication of this principle is that we all have to put up with people whose opinions we find frustrating and perhaps abhorrent. Our commitment to such values goes only as far as we extend them to those we do not agree with.

Finally, I need everyone to understand that this will not be the entire content of this blog. My blog is for personal reflection on Christian spirituality, philosophy and theology. The gay marriage issue is only one subject. God forbid it should be otherwise.

So that’s my ground work: I will discuss the homosexuality issue within Christianity, but with some secular political principles. I will write at least three articles in response the article from soul force. Of course, my next update will be a review of “Watchmen.” You know, I really don’t want my blog get bogged down…

Thanks for reading!