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by Mike Edwards

The political divide in our nation is obvious, but shouldn’t people who claim to follow Jesus’ teachings get along? Yes, plenty of people are leaving the institutional church but they aren’t leaving God. It is hard to make a big impact in the world alone. A movement though can! Why isn’t a Following who claims the importance of loving others as themselves having more of an impact on our culture?

It is human nature to not always get along.

The wife and I got along pretty well when dating, but that didn’t exactly prepare me for the first years of marriage. Love doesn’t make go away having to share bathrooms, finances, closets, in-laws, etc. I didn’t learn soon enough that love requires learning to disagree well so to live happily incompatible. You got to learn some skills as differences arise. But Christian divisions run deeper than nature.

One’s belief if the Bible is inspired by God may be the greatest divider among Christians.

Some believe God inspired all of the Bible thus is God’s final word on guidance; others believe the Spirit may guide us toward even a higher view of God than the writers always had. One can still be a God-follower though their view of the Bible is different than yours. Besides, literature requires interpretation whether you believe God inspired all of the Bible or not. More churches are forming than uniting because of differences in interpretations and no one is admitting they may be wrong. Christian opinions can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving way.

Can we get along despite a helluva lot of differences?

It has been suggested despite the challenges of translation and interpretation the central message of the Bible is clear to all. I respectfully disagree. One’s belief about Hell supposedly impacts everyone born into this world. Views on women’s roles impacts half the population. Gay differences impact millions and millions of people. Can I get along with one who is convinced God condemns gays for attractions they can’t control? I may never know because we are quick to demonize one another when we don’t share the same convictions.

What first steps can we take to show true love?

We each have to decide what is the first big step we can take in our relationships. As my beliefs were forming and changing over the decades, I wasn’t always respectful in sharing my passions. If I had it all to do over, I would have sought to understand first before being understood. This is the best way for relationships to not end up demonizing one another. Standing side by side may in time allow one to be persuaded for the right reasons. Christians acting loving toward one another could change the world!

 

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By Mike Edwards

I can’t prove God exist but millions including me aren’t irrational to think a Creator created the world around us. Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in is a perfect God. We can only understand perfect love through the lens of human love. We don’t always agree what such loves looks like but human love is a reasonable starting point. The main reason many oppose views below is out of devotion to God because what they believe the Bible says about God.

God couldn’t be a Bible worshipper

First, we can’t prove the biblical writers always understood God perfectly unless you take their word for it. Secondly, literature requires interpretation so no one can claim their view is the right one. We can’t ask the writers what they meant. Thirdly, the Bible isn’t likely a Creator’s main communication, because the majority born into this world never had a copy or knew of Jesus.

God couldn’t have created Hell

God is not a sadist. A God who teaches forgiveness seventy times seven couldn’t possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever. Such pain serves no lasting purpose anyway. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. The word hell, a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible, appears to have been invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience.

God couldn’t only let Christians into heaven

A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. Secondly, one’s religion, or rebellion against a certain religion, is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?

God couldn’t condemn gays

A loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men. Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?

God couldn’t be a sexist

God surely wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. Like many views about God, the Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. God can lead women and men in trying to out serve one another. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted, whether male or female, be appointed CEO, preacher, or priest?

God couldn’t be an extremist or terrorist kind of God

Terrorists seldom are Jesus-type individuals who seek to love others like they want to be loved. Doesn’t true religion seek to serve not be served? Loving spiritual or human parents bring children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love for authentic relationships. Forced love is an oxymoron. God couldn’t possibly want to control beliefs through fear.

God couldn’t be a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking

Even atheists believe One claiming to be God must be perfect. We must question biblical writers’ understanding of God if interpretations are contrary to people’s ideas of a perfect, loving God. When the Bible challenges us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), the assumption is we can know what perfection is. Godly and human perfect love must be one and the same.

God can’t control evil and suffering without help

The magnitude of evil in the world is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even God can force true love. It can be misleading when we say God “allows” evil, as if God stands by when God could stop evil. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom.

God couldn’t be a prayer genie

Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Did I not pray or beg enough? Prayer isn’t about manipulating for gain but pursuing a relationship with our Creator for self-examination, sharing concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. God is not a Genie in a bottle who can singlehandedly all by themselves make things instantly happen without our help to change the world for good.

God couldn’t be a future fortune teller

Most probably don’t think much about whether God knows the future or not. The truth is not even an all-powerful God can do the impossible such as change the past or know an undetermined future until it happens. God isn’t failing to communicate a “known future” so we can avoid bad relationships or decisions. God suffers with us rather than simply gaze into a future crystal ball. God created freedom and seeks to partner with us to make for a better world.

Notice I didn’t suggest what I think God believes when it comes to issues such as immigration, taxes, climate change, etc. Total certainty, unless beheading people for not sharing your beliefs, is an illusion. What we need is honest, open dialogue. Opinions must stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Problems often begin when we claim moral superiority either from our own moral intuitions or our understanding of a Book.

See here for further defense: http://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/why-and-what-i-believe-series/

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by Jim Gordon

I grew up in the institutional church and was always of the persuasion that being gay was a sin. I felt I was pretty open since saying I hated the sin but loved the sinner, I was doing better than most. Yet, either way I was saying being gay was a sin.

I never treated those who were gay in a bad way. I never treated any of my friends or relatives who were gay any different than I treated anyone else. I saw them as normal everyday people….but with a great sin in their life.

Things changed on this subject, and amazingly it was after leaving the institutional church. I started to see that God loves people, all people. There was no ‘I love you but’ when it came to God. I started to read some on the subject (something I never dreamed of doing before). I read Justin Lee and Matthew Vines. I really thought about a God of love and how could that God condemn people for the way he made them.

I finally began to see the LGBTQ community for who they really are….people. Take away the labels and you have human beings like everyone else. Just because they were born with different sexual views does not make them second class citizens and does not make them deserving of the awful ways they are treated, especially by the christian world. They are doing nothing more than being themselves the way God made them.

Today I seem to have a special sense of wanting to show those who are LGBTQ that all christian people are not the same. I want to help promote information and acceptance between christians and those who are LGBTQ (1). I know many who are LGBTQ (a few personally but most online) and who are christians who love God and serve him. I can no longer say I believe being gay is a sin. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation by the church and evangelical christians.

I do admit I do not understand the attraction of two men or two women. Of course, that is because I am straight. I bet those who are gay or lesbian do not understand me and my attraction to the opposite sex (well, just one person of the opposite sex, my wife).

I recently read a book by Amber Cantorna called Refocusing My Family. It is such an interesting read, telling of her questions, struggles and hardships in her walk with God and her family. Her traditional christian upbringing and her dad being an employee of Focus on the Family made it extremely hard on her when she realized she was gay. What terrible struggles and treatment she received. It is so hard for me to understand how parents can disown their children, yet I know it happens all the time.

I also believe that the christians who do believe being gay is wrong, they are still handling it all wrong. Whether you agree or disagree, our instructions from Jesus are to love God, love our neighbor and love our enemies. We are to love, not judge and condemn. I have read so many articles about the abuse the gay community takes, beatings, exclusion, disowned by their family, suicides. It is terrible. No matter what stand we take on the issue we are not to judge and condemn. As followers of Christ we are to be known for our love and treating everyone equally.

I personally am tired of the way the christian church has treated those who are LGBTQ. Whether they agree or disagree they should be treating everyone with love. For me I have concluded that being gay is not a sin and I fully love and accept all people just as they are. I hope I can show that love and acceptance to others in some way.

I do not completely understand it but for some reason this topic has taken on a new meaning for me. I am tired of seeing the abuse, the exclusion and the discrimination against those who are LGBTQ. Not sure where this will lead but hopefully, I can be a help by showing love and acceptance to those I meet who are LGBTQ.

(1) https://www.reddit.com/r/LGBTQ_Acceptance/

** UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s understanding of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different.  Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others? God surely loves, not condemns, gays!

Many people of faith only condemn gays because they think the Bible does?  

Many of us were taught to believe God condemns gays because the Bible says so. Some may be unaware biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures do not condemn gay monogamous relationships. See here. The truth is literature require interpretations which are not infallible. We must not condemn gays because of a Book. Ever moral fiber in my body thinks a loving God can’t condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can.

It just isn’t natural!

Why would anyone choose a lifestyle subject to rejection and abuse? None of us decided one day to be attracted to the same or opposite sex. It is proven or we can at least say science isn’t conclusive why we have desires for the same or opposite sex (Karen Keen, Scripture, Ethics And The Possibility Of Same-Sex Relationships, Chapter 7). It is a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives. If we don’t know why one has feelings for the same sex, we mustn’t speculate or judge but love instead.

God can’t be a psychological abuser. 

We know the psychological harm done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. So, shouldn’t we be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices? The harm isn’t in being gay, the harm is in condemning others for being gay. Mental health problems aren’t because one is gay but because one is force to hide their true identify or face rejection and condemnation.

God can’t be a family destroyer.

It is impossible to not feel unloved and rejected when someone says “I love you but I hate your sin.” Most parents’ hearts break when they think their devotion to God requires them to give their child some version of “love the sinner, hate the sin” speech. Our moral intuitions tell most that God is not bias against females, people of color, or gays. A parent need not reject a gay child according to the Bible. The Bible is silent on monogamous same sex relationships, while supporting relationships that show love and concern for one another.

What does the most common biblical passage used to condemn gays say?

In Romans 1 the motivation for same-sex relations was because of excessive lust not love. The writer possibly had in mind what he saw around him – men having sex with boys or sex with male slaves. Sexual behaviors that are abusive, unequal, controlling, mindless, selfish engagements, as opposed to consensual monogamous relationships, are immoral to any rational human being. The church acts as if all gay relationships are the same; opposite gender relationships aren’t!

What did Jesus say?  

Matthew 19 and Mark 10 are said to suggest Jesus condemned homosexual relationships by using Adam and Eve as the original intent and norm for marriage. The context is Pharisees citing Moses to justify divorce. Jesus used the example the audience were familiar with – Adam and Eve. Jesus spoke out against casual attitudes about marriage. Isn’t permanence in marriage, if couples continue to act loving to one another, in the best interest of couples and children? We cannot say definitively Jesus is condemning same-sex relationships who don’t have a lackadaisical attitude toward marriage. Jesus is an advocate for commitment and keeping two together. Male/female marriage only is not the issue.

What about Sodom and Gomorrah?

The Sodom and Gomorrah story may be the easiest to dispute when it comes to biblical interpretation. Genesis 19 and Judges 19 are stories about men seeking to assault male guests receiving hospitality in a local household. In both stories women horribly are offered as an alternative for sexual pleasure which should caution us against applications of these stories. Besides, the story is about gang rape and as has nothing to do about loving, consensual, same-sex relationships (David P. Gushee, Changing Our Mind, Chapter 11).

Calling out gays is hypocrisy anyway even if believing Bible condemns gays.  

It is common to refer to Paul’s list of sins to call out homosexuality but fail to call out the greedy and slanderers (I Cor. 6: 9-10). Unless you are homeless chances are you have been greedy more than once this week by keeping more than you need and not giving the rest to those struck by tragedies. When I see you, remind me to say “I love you, but I hate your behaviors.” Church folks condemn gay relationships but they get divorced half the time. Let’s spend our time getting the log out of our own eye before condemning gay couples who are committed!

So, anything goes!

Let’s don’t insult others by comparing homosexuality to pedophilia, bestiality, etc. Sex with children is not the same thing. Friends are coming to us about themselves or their children about a very personal matter, and they are speaking about consensual, adult relationships. There are no victims in consensual love. So, we can’t hate any sin? Hating homosexual sex is only loving if homosexual sex is sinful. Hating alcoholic behavior is loving because alcohol abuse really is harmful. 

Gays of course can marry.  

Procreation isn’t a criteria for marriage. We don’t deny infertile couples the right to marry. It is argued the world could not have populated in the beginning! We are no longer in that situation and the world will continue to populate because not all couples are gay. We have unwanted children who need loving couples. Is adoption by a same sex or different sex couple not a better situation than groups homes or orphanages? Many gay couples are far better parents than many opposite sex parents. Don’t worry! Loving couples don’t try to scare a child straight or gay.

The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament doesn’t encourage celibate life as some holy grail.  Paul in fact offered marriage as an outlet if unable to control passions (I Cor. 7). It is hard to deny most of us wish to enjoy the pleasure of marital sex and have a hard time being faithful otherwise. Why would God condemn same-sex marriages if the Bible doesn’t condemn or consider same-sex, faithful relationships?

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions!

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed  To Anyone After Death!

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real!

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by Jim Gordon

I am certainly no expert on LGBTQ issues but I am one who cares for LGBTQ people. I have seen so much abuse, hatred and discrimination by others, especially by other christian people against LGBTQ. I have seen them treated like second class citizens or worse. I have to say these things should not be.

LGBTQ is a label. We all have some type of label. There is the label of black or white, male or female, gay or straight, American or foreign, christian or atheist. We need to remember that behind the labels are human beings who were created in the image of God.

LoveOneAnotherheart

Why is it we cannot see the human being being the labels? Why do christian people, who are to be known for their love for God and for people seem to be the ones who all to often are the main offenders?

I understand the misunderstandings and the personal views. We are never going to have people agree on everything. But because we have disagreements and differences in opinions there is no cause to show hatred, discrimination and condemnation.

For those who are gay I am sure you do not quite understand how people of the opposite sex can have an attraction and romantic relationship. Just the same, those of us who are straight cannot understand how people of the same sex can have an attraction and romantic relationship. Yet because we are straight or gay and cannot understand the other, there is no reason for the hatred that is shown. There is no reason that each should not be treated fairly and with equal rights. We are all human beings.

As christians, whether gay or straight we are to be known for our love. Even in differences of opinion we are still to treat one another with kindness, love and acceptance. Even when we do not agree with the actions of others we still act in love. Put your prejudices aside, put your personal opinions aside and let the love of God flow through you to be loving and kind to everyone. God loves each of us, he created us and wants the best for each of us.

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By Mike Edwards

I recently wrote here why a fair-minded person may think God approves of women being restricted from roles men are offered. Many opposed such equity because of bigotry but bigots don’t read spiritual blogs. It is so important how God-followers represent God.  The good news is what is often said about God may not be true. There may be similarities as to why fair-minded people think God favors roles according to one’s gender and why God condemn gays.

Many people of faith only condemn gays because they think the Bible does?  

Many of us were taught to believe God condemns gays because the Bible says so.  Some may be unaware biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures do not condemn gay monogamous relationships. See  here. The bigger argument though is that no one can claim God condemns gays because the Bible says so. Literature require interpretations and we disagree. One main reason fair-minded people condemn gays is because of a misunderstanding of the Bible, thus misguided devotion to God.   

Some may also argue God condemns gays because homosexuality just isn’t natural.

You don’t have to be gay to understand one can no more control their feelings toward those of the same sex than you can control having feelings toward the opposite sex. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You aren’t gay. Let’s don’t cause others to keep secrets at the expense of their mental health. God-followers must always use their hearts and minds when loving others by being non-judgmental and putting themselves in another’s skin.

It is argued the world could not have populated in the beginning! We are no longer in that situation and the world will continue to populate because not all couples are gay. We have unwanted children who need loving couples. Is adoption by a same sex or different sex couple not a better situation than groups homes or orphanages? Many gay couples are far better parents than many opposite sex parents. Don’t worry! Loving couples don’t try to scare a child straight or gay.

How can we know what God thinks about gays?   

If God exists even atheists agree God must be morally perfect. The best way to understand God’s moral perfection is through our thoughts of human perfection. How we think we ought to treat gays is how to know what God thinks of gays. The test for human or godly morality is if treating others like we want to be treated. Let’s not defend our position only because the Bible supposedly says so. We do not have to check our moral conscience at the door. Be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices. I hope one doesn’t think I approve of pedophiles for such love is not between two consenting adults. 

How must we treat gays or anyone?

Psychological harm is done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Monogamous relationships, as opposed to mindless, selfish, uncommitted relationships, are in our best interests, though I am not suggesting we all should impose our views of consensual, sexual behaviors on others. One’s sexual orientation is personal and between them and their Creator. Personal relationship decisions are not violating anyone’s personal rights as do immoral behaviors as stealing, murdering, etc.  I hope more may stop judging others about their personal relationships because God supposedly condemns them through Scriptures.

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After being on Facebook for some time and following articles and comments on social media, it does not take long to realize everyone has an opinion. There is nothing wrong with that, it is quite normal. Yet when people start trying to force their opinion on others it becomes a problem.

FacebookOpinionsI have found it best to listen to others opinions but not to dwell on them. We all have an opinion on life issues, a way of interpreting the bible and views on living for God but very seldom do we agree on things.

We each need to follow the leading of the Spirit within us and stick with what we feel is right for us. Obviously this does not mean we are always right, but at the time it is best to go with what you feel is the correct way until the Spirit leads you to a different view.

Do not take the view of any person as gospel, do not let any person guilt you or shame you into seeing things their way. Listen to others opinions and respect them, but listen more for the soft, quiet voice of the Spirit to teach you the truth. Always be open to changing your personal views according to what the Spirit teaches.

So often we read an article that says one thing on a particular subject, then find another article that says just the opposite. It is not long until a heated argument begins in the comments and things can get ugly. Name calling and getting mad because of differences of opinion and interpretation is just not the way it should be. We need to learn to accept that we all have different views and we can all be wrong at times.

Sometimes people argue over bible doctrine or subjects that are highly controversial in our world today. We seem to think we have to defend our view and prove our point or we are not being faithful to God. I personally think God can take care of himself and we do not need to defend our interpretations. We are not called to convert people to our way of thinking, we are only called to love them.

In the christian world today, one of the major areas of arguments and differences of opinion seems to be in regard to marriage equality and gay people.

Many christian people seem so hateful toward people who are gay. I am not sure why we tend to make gay people our enemy. I know many gay people who love God and want to follow Jesus. To say they cannot be christian because they are gay is just plain wrong. Yet whether christian or not, gay or straight Jesus calls us to love all people.

Christian people will say being gay is a choice, yet I never remember making the choice to be straight. I was born that way. Is it not the same with people who are gay?

I think so often people only look at the label and do not see the human being. The fact is there is no difference between straight and gay people other than the people we are attracted too. We all want to find that one special person to love and to enjoy life together.

Rather than forcing our opinions on others whether they are gay or straight, christian or atheist, muslim or jew, black or white, republican or democrat, male or female we should be able to show the love of Christ to everyone and accept them as our fellow human beings who want the same things as everyone else. We all want to be happy, enjoy life and be accepted and loved.

It is fine to have our individual opinions, yet we need to remember that not everyone will see things the same way. We are all entitled to have our views and opinions without having love and acceptance being withheld.

BeKind

Jesus said to love God and love one another. He never said to love only certain people or only people who believes the same. We can have our different opinions yet we can love and respect each other even in those differences.

Once we can get past insisting our way is the right way and everyone else is wrong, it will be easier to accept others. When we realize none of us have it all together and we are all learning, then we can accept people with different views and opinions without the hatred and condemnation.

No matter what interpretation, opinion or view you have, we should be able to believe what we feel is right and still accept the differences of others and love one another with the love of God.

A few verses on loving one another:

Mark 12:30-32 — and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Luke 10:36,37 — Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.

John 13:34 — A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Galatians 5:14 — For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

1 John 4:20 — If someone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

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