Posts Tagged ‘gay christians’

h1

Absent

April 27, 2009

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here on this terrestrial ball.  For me, writing is connected to spirituality, and lately, I haven’t felt very spiritual, or even like I have anything of value to say.  I know my pastor would say that I am going through the “valley of the shadow”.  I suppose this is where I find myself, but not in a despondent, depressed, or desperate situation.  Let’s say that I’m “in transition”.

Back in December, I wrote about my experience of leaving a job and church that I loved, the way in which that it appeared I was forced out by a new, and interim minister, and the betrayal I felt by the congregation.  I admit that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that experience.  I’m hurt that so many who greeted me warmly every Sunday morning do not care to know what is happening with me now, do not wish to understand what could have driven me away.  I keep asking myself “where is the love that they so freely professed?” 

I am reminded that this is not the first time I’ve experienced alienation from a group of Christians.  As a matter of fact, recalling the experiences of my parents, other ministers that I’ve worked with in my career as a church musician, and a variety of  tales that have been related to me by those who’ve been mistreated at the hands of Christians, I’d have to say that it is the natural condition of churches to destroy its own members, or at least to ostracize those who are “not our kind of people”.   Of course, this is done in spite of the clear command in scripture to Love One Another.

I’ve been absent from church services since December.  Oh, I’ve gone a few times, but you could count those on the fingers of one hand.  Two of those services were to substitute for an organist who needed time off after surgery. We visited a Unitarian church but didn’t quite feel like it met our spiritual needs.   I attended my husband’s church but found it lacking of any real substance;  it felt like they’d found something that worked at one time and saw no need to review it’s effectiveness.  Now they simply continue performing the same empty rites out of obligation. 

Where I’m not:  I’m not sad, depressed, or suicidal.  I’m also not lacking any interest in spiritual things.  Despite some snarky comments around Easter  in which I may have stated that we should reinstate the practice of feeding Christians to the lions, I have no contempt for those who find spiritual fulfillment in organized Christianity.  But I also think I am no longer one of those who can find fulfillment in the church pew.

 

So yes, I’ve been absent, from here at my blog, as well as at church.  Where have I been?  I’ve been hanging out with some people that most would consider as being on the fringes of religion, and others would say that they are just plain heathens.  That’s ok with me.  I’ve learned that those who have been persecuted, those who have lived through painful episodes in life, are the ones with deep insight and compassion.  I’m happy to be in their company, they tend to be wise people. 

I’m also no longer able to suppress my trust in my own intuition.  Since I’ve been paying attention to those subtle urges and thoughts that enter so quickly, I’ve noticed that they are becoming more accurate.  It is as if I am becoming more aware of the emotions, motives, and likely actions of the people around me.  This awareness gives me clues about how to act and respond in positive ways.  I feel as though I am connected to the whole of the universe, including the God that is omnipresent, and so much bigger than the God that is spoken of in the churches I’ve attended in the past. 

I hope that I’m not shallow, not trendy, but it seems that I may indeed be what is known as post-christian.  I can no longer participate in an organization that routinely does the opposite of its mission statement.  I’ve long hesitated to call myself Christian, but that does not mean I have discarded the teachings of Christ.  As a matter of fact, I hope I’m able to do a better job of following the great commandment than the Christians who stood silently while their new leader ushered me out the church’s door.

h1

When You Can’t Prove What is Obviously True

December 31, 2008

It all started with a phone call from the new interim pastor of Paradise Christian Church* (wink and tip of the hat to preacherlady). 

“This is Reggie Dominy.  I’m the new interim pastor here at Paradise Christian.”

“Yes. Good to talk to you.”

“I’ll be selecting the hymns for the worship service from now on.  I guess you’ve been doing that for a while?”

“I’m really uncomfortable with that.”

“Why?  That’s not typically the organist’s job.”

“Well, it’s part of my job description.  I do it well and I’m not comfortable giving it up.” 

And that’s how the battle began.  That phone call lasted more than thirty minutes, and during that time, I found myself making some strong and defensive statements to a stranger who’s face I’d never seen.  I felt attacked, especially when Reggie said that he had to pick the hymns because we needed to change the way we do things since attendance at worship had decreased.  I told him that he was making it sound as if that was my fault; as if my music were the cause of people not attending worship services.  Reggie said he wasn’t saying that, but how else could I read that implication in the context of this conversation?

In the first service over which Reggie presided, there were at least five statements that sent up red flags in my mind.  From our phone conversation, it sounded like Reggie desired to create a solemn, even somber service steeped in traditional worship and laced with long moments of silence and reflection.  Nothing could have been further from the reality of what happened that very first Sunday in November. 

The humor was abundant as well as inappropriate.  Reggie set the tone in the announcements which are made before the organ prelude and the official start of the worship service.  As Thanksgiving was approaching and the Outreach committee was planning on giving food to several needy families, a plea was being made for congregants to donate canned goods.  Reggie’s pitch went like this:

“You know that can of salsa you bought seven years ago and it’s been sitting there on your shelf and you don’t know why you bought it?  Go ahead and bring that in for the food drive.”

It was then followed up with some muttered statement about buying a new can of something to go with it.  The request for food donations was being played for laughs, while the sincere request was downplayed.   Throughout the service we learned a few things.  For instance, it became clear that Reggie loves to eat deviled eggs.  And just in case someone might not have gotten that message, Reggie repeated his declaration of love for deviled eggs in the next four consecutive worship services.  We also learned that he likes to hear jokes, and that we should feel free to tell him Polish jokes and “jew” jokes.  For some reason, as Reggie made that statement, he hesitated, as though there were more kinds of jokes he enjoys, but felt it best to edit himself as this was part of his introductory sermon.  We also learned that there is a proper way to introduce onesself, which, one would know how to do “if you’ve ever been to college.”  What an effective way to discourage the “wrong” kind of people from attending church!

Most telling was the one particular family that Rev. Dr. Dominy made sure to mention in his sermon.  It was the one family in which the husband has a great job, the wife is a SAHM, and the two daughters are involved in dance lessons, baton twirling corps, and kiddie pageants.  They also happen to be the family who left the church in a huff, refusing to return until the full-time minister was either fired or resigned.  Dr. Dominy made sure to say their names, or compliment the beauty of the daughters, or involve the family in most of the services during November. 

On my last Sunday as music director, December 21st, Reggie did something that was at best unethical, and at the worst, creepy in the sense of looking too much like a child molester.  As part of his sermon, he asked the two little girls, both under the age of 12, to come forward and model their new Christmas dresses.  Embarassed, they walked to the chancel, where Reggie had them put their forefingers on their heads and do a ballerina turn for all to see the new outfits.  Then, in spite of smaller children moving back and forth between the sanctuary and the nursery, Dr. Dominy gifted the two “models” with presents, to be opened there in front of everyone. 

The weeks between that initial phone call and my final service were stressful. Communication between Dr. Dominy and myself was archaic.  He would leave handwritten notes, in the most screeching hot pink ink, on the piano.  I asked our secretary why he didn’t use email.  She replied that he wasn’t very computer savvy.  That statement that was refuted in the coming weeks when, during a sermon, Reggie mentioned looking things up on the internet.  It was countered again in a meeting of the church committees in which one member spoke of the email exchange that he and Dr. Dominy had. 

The hymns that Dr. Dominy chose were ancient, plodding tunes with dated language.  Although one of his stated reasons for taking the hymn selections away from me was the need to match the hymn texts to the scriptures, I seldom saw how the two aligned themselves.  Several times within those few weeks that Reggie and I worked in the same building, he repeated hymn choices.  I was left wondering if he selected hymns the way he selected the Psalms for our worship services:  numerically.  On his first Sunday in worship at Paradise Christian Church, Dr. Dominy selected Psalm One for our call to worship.  In subsequent weeks, the Psalms were used, in numerical order, regardless of the sermon topic, and regardless of the scheduled readings from the Revised Common Lectionary

The final straw came on the morning of December 19th.  I received a text message from our secretary asking me to call her asap.  I replied with a request that she email me, as I had students all day (with my teaching position at a public school) and would not have a break to make a phone call until late in the day.  The email arrived quickly, and in it, was a message from Dr. Dominy that said:

Ok  here goes.    Reggie left me a note to ask you if you got a brass ensemble for Christmas Eve.  If you did, please get the name of the group and names of their songs to me on Monday.  If you did not, please contact the band director at local school district.  She has some names of students who might be available or some other musicians in the area.  She can be contacted at local middle school xxx-xxx-xxxx  Her name is middle school music teacher her e-mail address is someteacher@someschool.

I am sending you the bulletin stuff so that you can give me the song titles by Sunday (or Monday morning at the latest)  The ones in pink he would like the brass ensemble to do  and he would like the choir and the brass ensemble to join in on the other carols as well.

Reggie said to contact him if you had any questions or suggestions.  xxx-xxx-xxxx

Thanks Dana

Interesting thing about this email:  I do not recall having a conversation with Reggie in which firm plans were ever made about the Christmas Eve service, let alone such an important detail about hiring or assembling a Brass Ensemble for the service.  At my first opportunity to call, I phoned Dr. Dominy.  In that phone call, I was verbally pushed around.  During a break from ministry, Reggie had been a car salesman, and a good one according to some accounts.  I could tell that I was being manipulated by his words.  He objected to my statements about why it would be impossible to assemble a brass ensemble just five days before the performance.  He interrupted me.  He cut me off.  He dismissed my professional musical advice.  Then I figured out what was going on.  I was being placed in a “catch 22” situation:  fail to assemble the ensemble, and Reggie could claim I’m not doing my job;  get one together in short order with no time to rehearse, no many to pay them, no music to give them, and have a disastrous performance on Christmas Eve and he could say that I didn’t do my job as well as I should have.  For me, given all that I had witnessed in the previous weeks, my only option was to resign.  My plan was to do so immediately, leave them without a musician for Sunday morning as well as Christmas Eve, but friends talked me out that plan. 

I learned that the committee charged with finding this interim pastor had failed to check his references.  They hadn’t bothered to call his former churches and talk to them about his strengths and weaknesses.  After handing in my resignation letter, and feeling crappy for about 24 hours, I decided that I’d look to see what I could find on this guy.   I did a search for “Dr. Reggie Dominy”  on Google and discovered that the guy is pretty computer savvy, contrary to previous claims. 

I also found one particular piece of information that confirms what I suspected from that very first phone conversation.  Reggie seemed to have some contempt for me from the very beginning.  It didn’t make sense that an interim pastor would walk in and start changing things before ever experiencing a worship service in the way that the members were accustomed to worshipping.  Interim pastors usually keep things going, the status quo, until the permanent pastor is hired.  This bit of information explains why he and I could never work together.

In the eight weeks in which both of us, interim pastor and music director, tried to do our duties, there was rarely a moment of kindness, of friendship, even an attempt to understand each other.  Attempts by Reggie to put up a facade of respecting and valuing me, at least in front of the congregation, fell flat.  At one service, Dr. Dominy said that he appreciated the “beautiful competency” that I brought to the services.   Competency?  Well, I must have some adequate skills when it comes to music.  It’s like saying “I love you” to someone and hearing “and I’m fond of you as well.” 

What could make us resist each other like oil and water?  The search results contained a major clue:  a letter to the editor of an online denominational magazine, written by one Dr. Reggie Dominy.   Here are some relevant excerpts:

I have no problem deleting statements from the Barman Confession (ah, another confession) that are editorial additions and weren’t originally there. Make it pure! I do have problems with ignoring cogent statements in the New Testament regarding homosexuality (Romans chapter 1 seems rather clear.) The Scriptures have to be our final authority about the actions and directions of God. What makes an action a sin at the time written but not in the present? More people lie and cheat others than participate in homosexual activity, and we all seem born with that narcissistic trait (this makes it a natural act); maybe the Church should support, or at least condone, lying and cheating.

            I hurt for gays and lesbians who have in the past been wrongly excluded from the Church. I also hurt for those devout Christians who believe the Presbyterian Church has abandoned them in this decision. They feel NO peace, NO unity, NO purity in the General Assembly decisions. Our voted inclusivity feels like exclusivity for many devout Presbyterians. They feel the Scriptures have been ignored. Many will leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Whole churches will leave. We do not now exclude homosexuals from church membership; but our ushering in their ability to be church officers and ministers will usher out other true believers from the whole church.

          There were times in the past when portions of our Presbyterian Church supported slavery. There were times when we excluded folks from the Lord’s Table because they weren’t of our ilk. There were times when we Presbyterians haughtily looked down on those who were not like us in faith and practice. There were times when women could not be ordained. We overcame and grew through those parochial sins.

There’s so much there that I could write about, and perhaps I will examine more of this letter on this blog at some point.  The important thing to notice is that while attempting to sound compassionate, even loving toward the “homosexuals”  it is clear that Dr. Dominy does not like gay and lesbian people.  Nothing else explains his immediate dislike for me, nothing else explains why he felt the need to change my job description, nothing else explains why he created a situation with the purpose to tarnish my integrity with a congregation who felt I was doing a fine job for them. 

Dr. Dominy believes that my orientation is a choice, and as such, is a sin, much like lying and cheating.  For him, the scripture about such things is clear, although, he’s managed to find some grace in the Bible for himself, being a divorced man.  There are many more scriptures concerning divorce, than there are homosexuality.  Reggie hurts for gays and lesbians who feel excluded from the church, but then goes on to reinforce that exclusion.  Homosexuals are welcome to be members in the church, but if they are given positions of authority, church officers and ministers, then true believers will leave the church.  Did you catch that?  Whether Reggie admits it or not, whether he would claim his words as his own or deny them, it’s stated clearly in that letter, gays and lesbians are not true christians. 

My mind goes back to that phone call.  I recall Dr. Reggie’s claim that if he had known I was going to be so opposed to his removal of my job duties, that the phone conversation was going to go so poorly, he would have come to my house and visited with me and my…friend.  He choked on the word “friend.”  I didn’t correct him and say “husband” because I felt like I had said so much that was in direct confrontation that I didn’t need to add to the tension of that phone call.  I can never file charges of discrimination because I resigned voluntarily.  Even if I had been fired, the situation created by Reggie would have appeared to be a legitimate reason to do so.  Discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry is seldom blatant, but at church it is couched in the language of love and compassion, making it all the more painful. 

A final word to my friends at Paradise Christian Church:  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said  “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

*all the names have been changed

h1

Finally, the Honeymoon!

November 26, 2008

Way too long ago, I promised that I would report on the events that took place after the Big Gay Wedding.  After much procrastination, here it is!

Monday morning, following our Saturday evening nuptials, Scott and I headed out to the airport, boarded our plane for Boston.  We took a water taxi to the dock where we would find our ferry.  In spite of some rain in Boston and gloomy skies while we were on the boat, we eventually arrived safely in Provincetown MA. 

on the bay

on the bay

 

Skies cleared as we pulled into PTown.  We found our bed & Breakfast, the Black Pearl, and checked in with no problems.  Soon we found ourselves walking Commercial Street, enjoying the sights and sounds of what is quickly becoming a home away from home for us.  Of course, we grabbed some seafood for dinner, and we planned our evenings, deciding which shows we might want to see. 

Most days, we spent our time at the beach.  We would pack our bags, grab the bus to Herring Cove, and make the trek through the moors to get to our destination.  This particular part of the beach is unofficially “clothing optional”  so we managed to tan some parts of our bodies that don’t see much sunlight! 

Scott took this from atop the dunes

Scott took this from atop the dunes

 

One day, we were concerned about the weather forecast.  The local stations were predicting rain.  For most of the morning, it looked like it the skies might open up and drench us.  We hesitated to make the trip to the beach, but hated to miss a day of fun in the sun.  We opted to rent bikes and ride through the Cape Cod National Seashore, a National Park.  This was one of the best things we did while on our honeymoon.  The dunes are incredible, the bike trail is enjoyable, and at times, a bit challenging. 

The Dunes

The Dunes

 

Scott entering the tunnel

Scott entering the tunnel

Steve coming out (again???) of the tunnel

Steve coming out (again???) of the tunnel

 

However, the very first thing we did when we arrived in Provincetown, was to visit the Town Hall, where we registered for our marriage license. 

PTown Town Hall

PTown Town Hall

 

Massachusetts requires a 3 day waiting period for marriage licenses.  We wanted to be sure to get ours, and allow an extra day for any glitches that might arise.  Monday afternoon we applied with no problems, and returned on Thursday morning to retrieve our official, legal, marriage license. 

We like to think of our legal wedding ceremony as the yin to the yang of our sacred celebration.  It was everything that the sacred ritual was not.  Our ceremony was performed by the Justice of the Peace, outside on the lawn of the Bed & Breakfast.  Our witnesses were the innkeepers, and the guests of the inn, a group of women on vacation together.  We asked the JP to use our vows from our wedding back home, and she added some additional, beautiful words about equality, and her personal joy of presiding at the weddings of gay and lesbian couples.  Champagne was poured, the license signed by the JP, and now, Scott and I are joined in both sacred and legal matrimony.

Steve and Scott with the JP

Steve and Scott with the JP

Repeating the Vows

Repeating the Vows

A Kiss Seals the Deal

A Kiss Seals the Deal

 

We are legally, sacredly, and happily married!  Each ceremony holds a special joy for us, the formality of one, the casual atmosphere of the other; the friends and family witnessing our love at home, and total strangers sharing the joy of our love at the b&b.  The elaborate meal and dancing to celebrate the sacred ritual, the sharing of wine with temporary friends who toasted our life together, followed by an intimate meal at a nearby restaurant, all of these weave themselves together to create a seamless memory of the week in which we got married, twice.  God grant you the same joy that we have found.

h1

Today’s Sermon: Creation: God Starts it All Off with a Big Bang

October 12, 2008
I was honored to speak as a layspeaker at church this morning.  Here is a copy of my sermon. 
In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness and some gas. The Bible says the Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, “Give me a light!” and someone did. Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.  Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something. 

Right from the beginning, we are confused on the creation story.  And if this is what a child hears when we read today’s scripture, is it any wonder that even the theologians can’t agree on what really happened in Genesis?  “Oh, Steve, We aren’t tackling Evolution vs. Creationism today, are we?”  No, we’re not.  We don’t need to.  As Disciples, we have members who accept the creation story as historical fact;  we also have members who believe it to be metaphorical, a creation story unique to Christians, but in many ways similar to creation stories from other cultures. We find that many of us fall somewhere in between. As Disciples, our tradition has been to encourage each other to study the scriptures, and respect each other for where we are on our individual journeys. So I’m not going to tell you what you must believe about God’s first actions.  However, let’s look at the beliefs we hold about these early chapters of the Bible and why they can cause such controversy. 

Christians who accept the Genesis 1 account as historical fact, must have a strong faith in God.  I mean this in the most positive way.  They look at the events of each day: separation of day and night,separation of the waters to create an expanse known as the heavens, and the water and land; and in these events they witness a powerful God, speaking a word and the elements of the universe moving to obey. In 3 days the stage is set for life to begin.  In the next 3 days, God speaks the planets, ocean life and birds, and animals and humans into being. God pronounces all of it good, and takes a day off.  We need only to look around us to find the witness of nature to God’s awesome power. 
 
For some of us, it’s too much to take in, we just can’t believe that something so big, so majestic, so amazing as our universe could come into existance in a mere 6 days.  In our quest to learn more about our selves, our environment, our planet, our galaxy and our universe, we have questioned everything. And we’ve found some clues that it may have taken more than 6 days to put this place together. As humans developed methods for studying every aspect of our planet and beyond, and learned that scientific methods could indeed yield answers about where we come from, the 6 day creation account has been called into question.
 
One of the most famous inquiries in the science vs. faith debate was the Scopes Trial in 1925.  John Scopes was a science teacher in Tennessee who openly defied the law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, made popular by Charles Darwin in his book On the Origin of Species.  The case went to court, and very quickly, instead of John Scopes being tried for breaking the law, the Bible seemed to go on trial.  Clarence Darrow, the famous attorney, questioned William Jennings Bryan relentlessy about things most Christians consider miracles that which could not be explained scientifically.  Mr. Bryan died 5 days after the end of the trial, and the enmity between Christians and Scientists has lingered since then. 
 
If we could begin that discussion again, how would we bring together the opposing sides?  Where would we find agreement?  How could we find a current in which faith and knowledge flow together? 
I say that we should begin with God’s love.  I say that no matter what you believe about the creation story, it very simply demonstrates God’s great love in that God creates a world, an amazing universe for humans to occupy and share with the rest of the creation. It appears God’s motivation for the creative act is to receive honor and glory from beings who have a choice to do so. 
The creation story comes to us, presumably through Moses, in a way that these early people could understand.  The story was handed down in an oral tradition and finally put on paper by Moses, although I’m sure you’ll find some people who would argue that point with you.  In doing some research for today’s sermon, I discovered a theory I’d never heard before:  That the creationism vs. evolution argument is not about Science, it’s about literary genre.  This makes sense to me.  Did the original author intend to write, or recite history?  Or, did the author intend to write something more like poetry?   Could it be that giving the story somewhat of a symmetrical structure would make it easier to retell?  A look at the structure of the text reveals that the first three days of creation MIRROR the second three days of creation:

  • On the first day of creation God said “let there be light,” as well as darkness, and on the fourth day of creation he made the moving inhabitants of those realms (the sun, moon, and stars).
  • On the second day God separated the waters above the earth from the waters below the earth, and on the fifth day he made the moving inhabitants of those two realms (the birds and sea creatures).
  • On the third day God made the dry land and plants appear, and on the sixth day he made the moving inhabitants of that realm (the animals and man).
 In the first 3 days, the stage is set, and in the following 3 days the actors appear.  The story is set up to describe the things that “are” and the things that “move” – the living creatures. Is it possible that in the years this story was told in the oral tradition that it developed this form?  Is it possible, like that old game of “telephone”, that with each retelling of the story the details were nuanced?  When humans are involved, we need to acknowledge the opportunity for such changes, even error, but that does not negate the main idea:  God loved and God created.
 
You may find people willing to stand on their arguments for or against the Creation story based on the words used.  The simplest telling of the story teaches us that God made a man named Adam and a woman named Eve.  Research tells us that those Hebrew words ‘adam and havvah may be more symbolic terms meaning mankind and mother of all life.  For those who wish to discredit the literal or historical creation story, it’s a simple move to then ask about the children of this couple.  In fact, it is a question that was asked by Clarence Darrow, back in the Scopes trial that I mentioned earlier:  Where did Cain’s wife come from?  Maintaining that Adam and Eve were the only 2 humans from which life springs, takes us to a place we’d rather not go when explaining how the earth became populated. Using a symbolic interpretation of Adam and Eve as “the people” that God created solves that problem, but makes many more for us.  It becomes much easier to simply dig in our heels and lock horns with our adversaries, rather than do the research and discern what God wants us to learn from such a story. 
And if this isn’t enough controversy for you, we’re given a second account of the creation in Genesis 2:4-25.  The second telling of the creation doesn’t match the first telling in Genesis 1.  In the first chapter of Genesis, humans are the last thing created by God; in the second chapter, humans are created before the other animals.  In chapter one, the man and woman are created simultaneously; in chapter two we get the famous “adam’s rib” story. 
 
At this point, do we get hung up on the controversy, or do we look beyond it to discover what God wants us to know?  I’ve seen some of the arguments over these scriptures.  They go off into tangents on issues that don’t matter, but all sides want to claim these words as proof that God agrees with them and not their opponent.  We place our own prejudice and our own bias on top of the Word that we’ve been given.  We can suddenly find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be.  For example, in chapter two, Adam is alone.  God says “it’s not good for man to be alone” so God creates the animals and brings them to Adam to be named.  From the scriptures, it’s clear that Adam is to choose a helper from the animals. It seems that it is only after Adam fails to choose a helper, that God creates Eve.  For those reading these verses with a literal viewpoint combined with a skewed agenda, it could sound like God expected man to have a working relationship with animals beyond what we already experience.  
And we haven’t even gotten to the “Fall” of humans.  Was it really an apple?  What did the “serpent” look like before God made it crawl on its belly?  Are the tree, fruit, and serpent literal or symbolic?  Believe it or not, I even found a website that believes Cain was not Adam’s son, but Satan’s.  Controversy!  From the very beginning!  
Does it make a difference in our daily lives if God spent 6 days working and 1 day resting?  Do we lose our salvation if God’s day means thousands or millions of years instead of 24 hours?  Is God’s love negated if the creation story is told as a narrative with some details changed to make it easier to remember as well as for better drama?  More importantly, how does it benefit any of us to deride each other for holding the literal or allegorical view of the creation story?  The Disciples slogan certainly is appropriate “In essentials, Unity; In non-essentials, Liberty; and in all things, Charity.” 
From the very beginning, God has interacted with humankind. Whether it was through a booming theatrical voice to speak the world into being, or the voice of God as the Big Bang Theory, we may never know.  The universe is an amazing place, full of things our human minds will never comprehend.
When Albert Einstein was asked if he believed in God, here was his response: “I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws.”

  

 

h1

Wedding Wine

August 2, 2008

This is my last weekend as a bachelor.  Next week at this time I’ll be married to the man I love, my anam cara, my soulmate.  The big drive is on to accomplish all the plans for the Big Gay Wedding.  I also note that I’ve not written nearly as much these past few weeks.  There will be at least one more post before the celebration, I know this because I’ve got it filed away, waiting to be posted.

Here’s some of what has been achieved this past week:

  • more cookies have been baked.
  • food for the rehearsal dinner has been purchased.
  • the guest room has been painted and reassembled so that it now reflects a mature point of view.  No more bunnies.
  • flowers for boutonnieres and corsages have been purchased.
  • we’ve bought clothes for the rehearsal, and for the kids to wear to the wedding.
  • I’ve transcribed a piece of music for my daughter to play on French Horn for our ceremony.
  • a singer has backed out on us, but the other, Daniel, has learned one of her songs, and my daughter has learned the other. 
  • Centerpieces have been prepared, but not completed.

Today.  Ahhh, today I was feeling peaceful, relaxed.  Then the stress got to my future husband and that got transferred to me.  We’ve been walking around with chips on our shoulders since about 4pm.  At the moment, a truce has been called.  In light of the peace treaty, a few more things were accomplished.   Scott works for a factory that creates envelopes and greeting cards, and has access to overstock inventory.  We had a choice of place-cards, so this evening, I got to work on that excess card stock.  It is a lovely white card embossed with a wave and starfish.  They were just a bit too big, so I cut them down, and scored them so they fold easily. 

I also created our guest book.  It’s really a high end photo album from Hallmark.  It has interchangeable pages so that it can be customized and expanded.  We’re using it not only for our guest book, but also as a wedding album.  I created a few photos to go into the pockets of the lined pages.  I lifted a few of the pictures from photobucket, but added the text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each page will feature one of these photos with room for a number of guests to sign beneath the picture.  Later, we’ll add the photographs from the wedding. 

Finally, the whine, I mean, wine.  We’ve made a beautiful white zinfandel with exotic fruit flavoring from a kit.  We’ll be using this wine as our favors for our guests.  It really is a lovely color, and has been somewhat hassle-free from start to finish, but it took a lot of patience.  [Here comes the whine] We bought 2 kits and started both at the same time.  For some reason, one was cloudier than the other at the earliest bottling date.  I stirred it vigorously again and let it sit another week or so.  Everything is fine.  We ordered 100 5oz bottles and some fancy shrink wrap capsules.  Months ago, I made the labels with our clipart and wedding date on them.  Not one step of the process has been overwhelming, but there have been a lot of steps!  Today, I wiped the bottles clean and applied the labels.  The wedding wine is done. 

 

Now, I am reminded of this:  the first miracle that Jesus performed was at the Wedding in Cana.  We offer this gift of wine in celebration of our wedding, honoring a tradition that Christ himself endorsed as he began his public ministry. 

Slainte!

h1

Bible Predicts Gays and Lesbians Will Take Over the Church

June 11, 2008

“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  That is the big fear of many fundamentalist christians, isn’t it?  This scripture verse from Matthew 18:18 teaches them that whatever they permit to happen here on earth, God will permit to happen in heaven.  All I can say is “Praise God!”  I was afraid there’d be no internet, no Starbucks, and no cell phones in heaven. 

 

But Donny wasn’t talking about those things; he was talking about the biggest threat the church faces today: gay people.  Donny came to Soulforce, where I am a moderator, and joined in the discussions on our forums in a polite enough manner.  He made it clear that he thinks homosexuality is a sin.  We heard the same platitudes that we hear from others who wish to rationalize their hatred:  “hate the sin, love the sinner” and “I am a sinner too.”  I always brace myself when I hear certain phrases coming out of christians‘ mouths.  “Now don’t be offended, I’m just speaking the truth in love”  is usually the preface for a big insult or condemnation.  Donny’s “hate the sin, love the sinner” entrance line was the prelude to 37 public posts and a number of private messages to me, that can best be described as crazy-making. 

 

 I sat down with some of those posts and private messages that I had printed up and tried to make some sense of them, find a recurring theme, anything that gave me a clearer idea of what Donny was saying and why.  I found that Donny, and others like him, have a lot of fear going on in their heads.  The fear causes them to engage in inappropriate behaviors to justify their behaviors and rationalize their poor treatment of people who differ from themselves. 

 

One of the big fears appears to be change.  Donny often referred to the neologism being promoted by Soulforce.  I had to look it up.  Neologism often refers to newly coined words or phrases, but can mean new doctrine or new interpretation of sacred writings.  With this neologism that Soulforce is promoting, Donny sensed an attack.  He believes that Soulforce and other gay organizations are attempting to force the church to change the faith that was “delivered only once to the saints.” 

 

Gay christians, their organizations including Soulforce, do believe that recent theological study reveals a neologism:  Homosexuality as we understand it today based on scientific, medical, psychological, biological research, is not condemned by the Bible.  New interpretations of doctrine do not immediately indicate heresy, as many fundamentalists would have us think.  Consider that at some point doctrines concerning abolition of slavery, the sinfulness of racism, equality for women, and approval of divorce were all neologisms.  In our history, christians have supported slavery, racism, subjugation of women, prohibition of divorce by quoting the Bible and proclaiming all of these things to be God’s will.  In short, we like to think God is on our side so we use the Bible to support our prejudices. 

 

An early private message from Donny, in response to my request for him to adhere to our guidelines, revealed that he wanted to use proof-texting to denounce our stand about homosexuality.  Proof-texting involves using a verse or two as stand alone proof that the Bible supports or doesn’t support an issue.  It is always taken out of context, and therefor may or may not be referring to the issue being debated.  Later, when I bring up the issue of proof-texting on the public board, Donny claims that context is everything!  The contradictions began flowing after that.

 

Another tactic that is often used by the religious right is the “slippery slope” argument.  Slippery slope is a logical fallacy.  It is not a valid technique for proving a point.  Slippery slope says if A happens then B, or C, or D will happen, very often skipping over any of those intermediate steps, the debater will simply jump from A to D.  Donny’s favorite slippery slope was stating that if gays are allowed to marry, people will marry their pets.  Proof of this, for Donny, came in a claim that animal brothels exist in Europe.  He even defended his use of the slippery slope argument, apologized for comparing homosexuality to bestiality, then stated that ‘slippery slope’ is still a reality, which reasserted his original insult. 

 

Other logical fallacies committed by Donny in this exchange included ad ignorantiam, spotlight fallacy, begging the question, and burden of proof.  Donny claimed that because the Bible does not speak of loving homosexual relationships, nor does it mention same-sex marriage, that it must then condemn all such things.  That is ad ignorantiam.  A good example is the fact that the Bible also does not mention cats.  Following Donny’s logic, it is important to rid the world of all cats.  Donny offers up Pride parades and the outrageous behavior displayed at such events, generalizing that all gays and lesbians must behave this way (Spotlight fallacy.) 

When Donny appeals to scripture, his reasoning is somewhat circular, thus begging the question.  He even offered several purposes for the existence of the New Testament:  to define the Christian life and to defend against false teachings about it that entered into the Gospel and Apostolic community of believers; to combat false teachings creeping into the Church; in fact ALL of the New Testament was written to explain the way the believers in Christ should behave;  the New Testament was literally written to define what is and what isn’t Christian culture and community.  There is a sense of circular arguing in which we ask why we should base our societal standards on a first century writing and the answer seems to be because the Bible says we should. 

 

In all of this discussion, Donny made accusatory statements and wild exaggerations and failed to offer proof for any of them, thus committing the “burden of proof” fallacy. 

  •  I’ll take this experience as great enlightenment and validation about the Gay Agenda and its relentless attack on the Church and its people.
  • There have already been Churches burned to the ground for their “holding fast to that which is true.”
  • Anything goes is a reality for many people in the sexual abandon realm.
  • A billion-plus[sic] Christians have problems with supporting homosexuality and all that comes with it.
  • Christians are being outlawed and hated for their Biblically[sic] accurate stand in opposition to approving homosexuality. It is the Christians being threatened.

 

 As I write this entry, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of rhetoric that Donny was able to spew forth on our Soulforce forums.  The accusations, the innuendo, the contradictions, the projection, and the hysteria is appalling.  Donny doesn’t believe christians should accept as valid principles that all the major medical, scientific and psychological organizations that proclaim homosexual orientation as normal as heterosexual orientation, and that orientation is unchangeable.  He believes that gay and lesbian people wish to destroy the christian church.  He even believes that the Bible predicts gays and lesbians will overrun the churches.  Donny does not believe that gays and lesbians can be christians. He has implied that all homosexuals are promiscuous.  He claims that he does not care what secularists do, and even states “I do not care about legalized gay marriage as it is not a Christian concept and does not concern the Church at all, except for things to avoid doing”  but later says “Marriage is a man and a woman. And in Christian truth, that is immutable. It is through gay activism of gay rights that you find this gay cause of gay marriage. Marriage shouldn’t be redefined as same-gender. Call it something else but “marriage” is not available.”  His arguments against gay and lesbian people included discussions of anti-discrimination laws, and hate crime bills. All of which seems to boil down to one thing:  fear, which is where we started this entry.

 

Well, I have a fear.  I am afraid that Donny’s most hateful opinions are exactly what religious right leaders are thinking but won’t say publicly. I am afraid that their projection of violence won’t be seen by our society.  Remember that religious leaders blamed 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina on LGBT people.  Donny claimed that LGBT people are burning christian churches to the ground, but the only news stories I found about burned out churches were attributed to racism and bigotry. Many churches have experienced vandalism caused by their support of LGBT people and issues.  I fear that Pastors will continue to speak lies about homosexuals, granting their congregants tacit approval to commit physical violence against gays and lesbians. 

 

Most of all, I fear calling myself a Christian.  That title is now so corrupt that I can not use it to describe my relationship with God.  And I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I belong to the same club as Donny. 

 

h1

For Kyle

May 15, 2008

Recently, I engaged in some discussion on a blog that is less than gay-friendly.  In the interest of being polite, instead of calling them homophobic, I’ll just say that these good people are worried that some folks they don’t like, just might end up sitting beside them in heaven.  This particular blog and most of its readers are doing their best to make sure none of the “wrong kind” of people slip into not only heaven, but churches here on earth as well.  After I stated that I believed being gay is not a sin, and not addressed in the Bible, one commenter had some questions for me.  Here is Kyle’s essay question for me, and I will attempt to address it, as best I can, following the quote:

Keltic,

What academic research claims that your lifestyle is not sin?  Do you honestly believe that gay male sex is physically compatible?  You really think God would create your system to accept this lifestyle?

Look at your body which was brilliantly created by the creator.  Look at the natural purpose of each system in perfect harmony.  There is no way from physical evidence that you can say that homosexuality is correct.  None!  The male and female anatomy is perfectly fitting, with mutual pleasure, and purpose beyond mere pleasure.

Gay male sex introduces the body to disease and illness because the system which was designed for the removal of such is being damaged and results in fissures opening up the body to microbial[sic].

As for your desires and same sex attraction I am sorry that is how sin manifested itself in your life.  And guess what your [sic] not a victim because many people have suffered from SSA but that never gave them a license to engage in such.  Rather, like ALL sin in our nature some went to the cross of Christ and laid everything down at the feet of the cross.  Surrendering everything and repenting resulting in the healing process regardless of the manner by which sin manifested.  What do I mean by this.  Your SSA you felt at whatever age is no different than any other desire to sin.  Sin is sin and without the cross you are dead in it.  Why should you have the luxury of claiming yourself saved and gay while others had to repent of EVERYTHING?  Do you understand what I’m saying?  Why should the alcoholic, the murderer, the abortionist, the liar, the thief, the adulterer, the fornicator, the porn addict, the boaster, the arrogant, the idolater, the pagan, etc, etc have to repent but you do not? What is so special and holy about homosexuality that you put it on an untouchable pedestal while Christ died for every other sin “except” homosexuality?  you think WE are close minded. No my friend it is you who are close minded to the truth.  Who are you to tell God that just because you “feel” a certain way that it is OK.  I have a lot of “feelings” too but I am not about to engage in them.  There is this girl at work in which I have certain “feelings” which come about but I wont [sic] engage in them.  I have a lot of “feelings” my friend.  My flesh is so corrupt and wicked that if I wasn’t saved and I didn’t have the Holy Ghost restrainer within me I would be quite a wicked individual.  Thank God however I am saved.  I look forward to the day when I am given a new body fashioned like the Lord and Savior and will never “feel” or desire any sin.  What an awesome day that will be.

Kyle

Well, let’s be kind and not mention the run-ons, fragments, and lack of punctuation.  Kyle’s passion more than makes up for his lack of writing skills.  So let’s just concern ourselves with his concepts.

Academic research that claims my homosexuality is not sin: 

McNeill, John, The Church and the Homosexual 4th ed., (Boston: 1993, 1st ed. 1976)

Scroggs, Robin.  The New Testament and Homosexuality.  Philadelphia:  Augsburg Fortress Press, 1983.

These are but two sources, but one that might help you understand is a website, A Letter to Louise.  This open letter was written to a woman who believed her gay brother was doomed to hell by God because of his orientation.  It explains things in much less academic terms. 

“Do you honestly believe that gay male sex is physically compatible? You really think God would create your system to accept this lifestyle?”  Oh, dear, I’ve got several questions of my own for this one.  For instance, physically compatible with what?  Why, Kyle, are you only concerned with gay male sex, and not female lesbian sex?  And as far as what God was thinking when he made gay people, I’ll ask God when I get to heaven. 

I think Kyle is addressing the notion that a penis is supposed to be inserted into a vagina.  This is a weak argument.  Physical intimacy among the heterosexuals is comprised of quite a variety of activities.  For straight people, I’m certain that there isn’t just one sexual position and a sole sexual activity.  Kyle, are you a breast man?  Leave those alone, those are created to give nutrition to babies.  Do you like oral sex?  No! No! NO!  there is no way procreation can be achieved by doing THAT.  I’ve even heard that some straight people are doing what the gays like to do:  take it up the butt.  I’m assuming from your questions, that this too is wrong. 

Now, as for your assertion that “Gay male sex introduces the body to disease and illness.”  Heterosexual sex does the same thing.  AIDS is not a gay plague, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes and the like know no gender or orientation.  Medical studies that say gay men have shorter lifespans and experience more illness, including MRSA, have been proven to be flawed, thus not reflecting the reality of the health of homosexual men.  Again, for some reason, women are ignored.  Let me add here, that women experience fissures or tearing as a result of vaginal intercourse.

And since I’m addressing this part of the comments, microbial is an adjective.  What was the word you meant to use after “microbial.”

 

I do not suffer withSame Sex Attraction, I enjoy it because it is natural for me.  I resent the implication that you think I have not “been to the cross.”  I am a Christian, I have made a public statement of faith.  Living as God made me, a gay man, is honoring to God.  Trying to live as a straight man would be living a lie, and as such, would be sin in God’s eyes.  It’s not a feeling, it is the truth that God has revealed to many, not just me.  The six verses that some Christians use to clobber homosexuals have been proven to be speaking about other issues.  The Levitical code was for a certain time and place, which becomes clear when we see Christians wearing poly-cotton blends (forbidden in Leviticus 19:19)  or eating shrimp (forbidden in Leviticus 11:11) and when they don’t stone their sassy children (commanded in Leviticus 20:9).  Sodom and Gomorrah was condemned by God long before the men of town came to rape (that’s right, rape, not have sex) the strangers that were staying with Lot.  In Romans 1, Paul is setting up the intended readers, he’s allowing them to feel smug and self-righteous because they don’t do as those idolaters he describes.  The letter continues in chapter 2, (chapter and verse were assigned randomly in 1205 by Stephen Langton) to say that we have no excuse when we judge others:

For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:1a-5, English Standard Version)

And Kyle, if you’re thinking impure thoughts about that young woman at work, Jesus has something to say about that: 

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 English Standard Version

I’m troubled by your final sentences, Kyle.  “I look forward to the day when I am given a new body fashioned like the Lord and Savior and will never “feel” or desire any sin. What an awesome day that will be.”  How very sad for you that you want a body that feels nothing, you look forward to feeling nothing, and assume that Jesus felt nothing.  I don’t believe it for one moment.  Jesus felt and continues to feel our pain, the pain that is heaped upon us by well-meaning, but misdirected Christians who judge others.  Jesus feels the pain of the outcasts, the disenfranchised, the people who are standing at the door of the church asking to be ushered in, while people like you, Kyle, continue to slam the door in their faces. 

Loving the person that I love, honoring him in our sacred commitment to each other, and simply being attracted to people of the same gender is not a sin.  In your list of sins, each vice results in harm to someone, either one’s self or another.  My love harms no one. 

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:16-21 English Standard Version

 What is it that you fear, Kyle?  Could it be that you fear allowing homosexuals to be part of the family of God that you and others will lose their place of honor in the Kingdom of Heaven?  Do you agree that calling me a phoney and a hypocrite was hateful?  How do those words, spoken by the owner of the gcmwatchblog align with the verse in red above?  I asked if gcmwatch would feed me if I was poor, or visit me if I was in jail, and the response was “If you requested it.”  THAT is nowhere to be found in the Bible.  What version of Christianity are you following over there?  You and so many others like you, live in fear of a God that will strike you down for committing the slightest sin.  You live in fear that you will forget to do something, or accidentally commit a sin and neglect to fall on your knees to repent.  You throw God’s grace right back in his face, then look around to find someone whose sin is worse than yours, and heap even more burdens upon them.  You are a modern day Pharisee. 

I’ve been delivered from that kind of thinking.  Praise God and Amen.