[Acker] My Church's Courage | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Acker] My Church's Courage

Sept. 17, 2003

The consent on Aug. 6, 2003, to the election of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop Co-Adjutor of New Hampshire filled me with joy and hope. I am an Episcopalian and a member of the Cathedral parish of St. Andrew in Jackson. Many in my community, and some in my parish family, received the news of the decision to confirm an openly gay man as a leader of a diocese with great distress. They saw this as a negative for the Episcopal Church and for the future shape of the Christian community in the United States. I find it overwhelmingly positive—a move on the part of the leadership of the Episcopal Church that will produce both numerical and spiritual growth and will foster the spread of the kingdom of God on earth.

This decision may result in the loss of members of the Episcopal Church. Such a loss, although regrettable, would not have a unique place in the history of the church. When the replacement of the 1928 version of the Book of Common Prayer was implemented in 1979, some lifelong Episcopalians left the communion of the Episcopal Church rather than accept the changes that came with the new edition of the prayer book. Members also left when the General Convention approved the ordination of women as priests.

Some individuals prefer to leave a church home rather than risk change—and possibly spiritual growth. I regret the loss of any who leave the Episcopal Church, and I hope their journey leads them to a place where they can more easily continue their spiritual formation—and thus bring good out of grief. Those who elect to stay in the church choose to live in the tension of differing opinions and a different understanding of the teaching of the Scriptures and church tradition. For these people, I foresee a growth in understanding of what it means to be a part of a family that can love and support in spite of differences. Such growth on a personal, spiritual, and communal level can only bring good to the church and its members.

I have heard our diocesan bishop remark on at least two occasions that Robinson's election has also produced great interest in the Episcopal Church on the part of many who for too long have felt excluded from the Christian community. When St. Andrew's made a stand during the civil rights era and declared itself open to all seekers of God regardless of their ethnicity, many people from other religious traditions joined St. Andrew's because our decision resonated with what they felt in their hearts to be right. This phenomenon was repeated throughout the United States.

I believe this newest development will bring the same growth. Not only will members of the gay and lesbian community be drawn to the Episcopal Church—but also individuals who believe in the rightness of accepting all people as God created the and do not find that acceptance in their church homes.

Everywhere I look in my church's activities and long-range plans, I see emphasis on growth and moral development of young people. We teach our children from the time they are toddlers about the unconditional love and acceptance of God for them and for all people. This affirmation of human value produces those traits that inhibit the development of the negative values in human society—racism, sexism, xenophobia. When our children see an individual consecrated as the shepherd of a diocese based on his abilities and spiritual gifts—including the gift of his sexuality—they learn even more firmly the lesson of unconditional love and acceptance.

This positive step also symbolizes a willingness on the part of the church's leadership to embrace the admonition of St. Paul: that Christians not allow themselves to be pressed into the world's mold, but to let themselves be transformed by the power of God's renewing Spirit on their minds (Romans 12: 1-2). When Christianity first appeared on the scene of human history, it represented a radical change from traditional religious thought—a change so radical that many of those who espoused it were murdered for their changed thinking.

It has taken courage for our leaders to stand firm on a decision that they believe reflects God's will and the leading of the Holy Spirit, even as religious leaders and members of other denominations have actively sought to coerce the Episcopal Church to conform to their understanding of the scriptures. The willingness of my church's leaders to be transformed, to seek change where change is needed in order to conform to God's will, inspires me and encourages me to continue to seek boldly God's will for me in my church, my life and my world.
Geoffrey Acker, guest columnist for the JFP, lives in Jackson.

Previous Comments

ID
68451
Comment

Well said. Those of us who belong to other faiths and teachings can only hope that our church communities will be so courageous. Jesus was a radical--and leftist at that. He advocated accepting into the church as full members those whom society cast aside as undesirable; those people whom society deemed unworthy and untouchable. Kudos to the Episcopalean church!!! If the United Methodist church can't get its act together, maybe all the reconciling congregation members within that denomination will decide to switch.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-09-18T15:23:24-06:00
ID
68452
Comment

Jesus was not a radical leftist. It was the Pharisees that were rebelling against God's Law. Yes, he did accept all that would call upon His name and trust in Him, but to do that they then have to turn away from their own sin (repentance). What you are advocating is acceptance without repentance. No where in the Bible can you find where Jesus advocated this or defended a sinful life. Jesus did defend sinners infront of their accusers much like the adulterous woman that was about to be stoned to death. Most forget that He went to the woman after her accusers left and said, "Go and sin no more." He never defended her life style. "I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it." -- Jesus Christ "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail." -- Jesus Christ

Author
Mingo
Date
2003-09-22T17:02:25-06:00
ID
68453
Comment

Touche, Mingo. But in at least one verifiable sense, Jesus was indeed a radical and his teachings have far more in common with the liberal left than with the conservative right. Jesus' teachings on healthcare, poverty, and wealth were radical in his day and sadly are still so today. Conservatives then and now do not by and large advocate universal healthcare; nearly all Republicans and their conservative Democratic counterparts consistently vote against it. Leftists however do support universal healthcare. Jesus admonition to "give all you have to the poor" bears no resemblance to conservative public policy on tax and welfare reform. President Bushís tax policy takes disproportionately from the poor and gives to the ridiculously wealthy. I donít think Jesus would look well upon that. Liberals however support a redistribution of wealth in America and welfare (in one form or another). The death penalty, which statistically most Republicans support, is not something Jesus would condone. Liberals are decidedly against the death penalty, of which Jesus was a victim. And recent U.S. foreign policy and military action is in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus, an ardent advocate of nonviolence. But back to the matter at hand: homosexuality. For the record, I don't advocate acceptance without repentance. If I advocate anything, it would be acceptance without judgement. Wasnít it Jesus who said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone"? And it was manís law, not Godís, that judged homosexuality to be wrong. PS: Jesus did tell the woman ACCUSED of adultery to "go and sin no more"óbut only after asking her who had accused her and hearing her reply: "No man, Lord." His reply? "Neither do I condemn thee."

Author
Nia
Date
2003-09-24T12:07:11-06:00
ID
68454
Comment

Man doesn't judge, that's God's job. But acknowledging sin isn't judging sin, it's acknowledging sin. No matter how you rationalize it-- homosexuality is sin, just as lying is sin and stealing is a sin. Again, not judging, acknowledging. Most churches don't allow leaders who are habitual thefts. Now they might have stolen in the past, but not currently practicing. This Bishop is practicing something that is a sin. If he wants to give up homosexuality-fine, let him be a Bishop. Some believe that the Bible is out-dated culturally and that if we lived by the word, woman wouldn't vote and we would all be goat herders. However, sin is something that is never subject to the changes of culture. Whether it's divorce, abortion, homosexuality, or gossip-- according to the Bible, it's sin.

Author
Jersey Jerry
Date
2003-09-28T01:24:05-06:00
ID
68455
Comment

The only laws that God passed down are the Ten Commandments. And they don't include "thou shalt not be homosexual." Viewing homosexuality as a sin is a human cultural thing, just like the Bible's condoning slavery and servitude of women. No one today would argue that slavery is okay because the Bible says so (and it does say so). And few people would argue that women should be sold into marriage because the Bible says so.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-09-28T15:27:28-06:00
ID
68456
Comment

Nia, please-- what are you talking about? The Bible condons slavery of women?!! Oh yeah, I forget about the woman slavery and bake sale event I read in the bulletin last week. Regardless of your misinterpretation of the scriptures to say the least, you missed my point entirely. I never homosexuality is a law, I said it was a sin. Laws and sins are not the same thing.

Author
Jersey Jerry
Date
2003-09-29T06:29:54-06:00
ID
68457
Comment

Well said, Jersey Jerry. I am a former member of St. Andrews and my family was an active part of the St. Andrews family for several generations. I would guess my dad is rolling in his grave over this departure of the Episcopal Church of the US from the standards of the world-wide Anglican community. Why has the standard of what is acceptable in the Episcopal Church gone from what is understood from the Bible to a general "whatever makes you happy" and " we don't want to offend." I think Nia would be hard pressed to disavow the Bible, Old and New Tesaments, as the basic document for the Church. (I would be sad for Nia if Nia couldn't agree on that basic premise.) One of the best friends I had growing up now lives with another guy - do I love him less? Not at all - but I recognize that you can hate the sin and love the sinner at the same time. Mr. Acker, God's love does transform - I am witness to that on a regular basis. However, God also hates sin - and that is what Reverend Robinson is practicing. He left his wife and two children to go live with another guy. He went from a life of fidelity in marriage to the practice of unchastity outside marriage. How does this reflect on his stature as a leader of Christ's Church? Not well. And I feel that bringing politics into this discussion is merely a red herring - a distraction. It doesn't matter to God what party you belong to - He cares about your spiritual health - not your politics. In closing, I will continue to pray for the Episcopal Church and the members who stay. It will be interesting to see what happens in Texas in a couple weeks.

Author
Fielding
Date
2003-09-29T13:21:34-06:00
ID
68458
Comment

I didnít misinterpret the Bible, Jersey Jerry/Fielding. I just read it. According to the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments are God's "laws," and they are generally accepted as such, the breaking of those laws being sin. You said that God judged homosexuality a sin (ie, it's against God's law). Where in the Bible does God, not man, say that? The places in the Bible where homosexuality is mentioned as a sin are man's laws, not God's. And there are many places in the Old and New Testaments where slavery is mentioned and condoned, particularly of women (Levitivus 25:44-46; Exodus 21:20-27; Ephisians 6:5-9). The fact that you didn't read about slavery in your church bulletin is just one example of how at least your church has moved away from a literal interpretation of cultural norms in the Bible that are no longer acceptable or morally defensible. Maybe your church bulletin should include more scripture lessons and fewer culinary social events. And Fielding: No one here, certainly not me, has said that the Bible is not the primary religious text for Christianity. And no one here (or anywhere else that I know of) advocates accepting homosexual people into the church as full members due to a "whatever makes you happy" attitude. On the contrary, they advocate a "however God in His majesty made you" approach. God likely couldn't care less about our politics. But people's politics can certainly betray and offend God's laws. And that isn't a distraction. It's the essence of human spirituality: living a human life that will be judged by God's standards. When you go to the voting booth, do you vote your religiion or your politics? If you've ever voted for a politician who espoused the death penalty, then you've sinned. If you've ever voted for a poltician who doesn't support universal healthcare, then you've betrayed your faith. Jesus never asked anybody if they had insurance before he healed them. And he never sent them an impossible-to-pay bill afterward.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-09-29T16:15:24-06:00
ID
68459
Comment

Nia, I appreciate your reply - you know, I have looked in my Bible and in the concordance and I just can't find any mention of universal health care. Can you point me in the direction of the appropriate verse? sarcasm off> Just to make sure I understand you, you're stating that the Ten Commandments are the sum of God's LAW - and the rest is filler - examples of cultural norms of those times and not really meant to be taken seriously - useful suggestions perhaps, but not really meant to be taken literally... And the crack about culinary events shows you're biased... "God in His Majesty" - made all of us. Both sinners and saints - it is not in that context that I made my above statement. Perhaps rephrasing it would be helpful. Any interpetation of God's laws and the Bible has to occur in context. Depending on the context in which it is looked at makes a difference in how it is applied. Moral relitavism has no place in analyzing God's Word. It is my firm belief that the Bible should be interpeted as a whole, not piecemeal - choosing to follow one statement because it fits what you want to hear and ignoring another statement because you don't want to face up to it. God hates sin. If you are sinful, then God hates that sin. It doesn't mean he hates you - but it for certain means he hates that sin. I hope that is clearer. As Christians, we are not called to live lives as humans, we are called to be as Christlike as we can be - we all sin, but we must ask forgiveness and - this is the key to the initial subject - turn away from sin. Otherwise, we cannot be accepted by God as one of His children. Finally, by your standards of equating votes with sins, any vote for Bill Clinton killed hundreds of Bosnians and Serbs due to the then President's lack of stopping the fighting. Any vote for Richard Nixon makes you complicit in the legalization of abortion, because he appointed those Supreme Court justices that made up the majority of that vote and even wrote Roe v. Wade. Any vote for Jimmy Carter makes you complicit in the takeover the US Embassy in Tehran. In other words, you're making a specious argument.

Author
Fielding
Date
2003-09-29T17:39:37-06:00
ID
68460
Comment

And one added coment, when I go in the voting booth - I vote for the man or woman that will do the best job - regardless of party affiliation or religion.

Author
Fielding
Date
2003-09-29T17:42:25-06:00
ID
68461
Comment

Thank you for proving my point, Fielding: Reading and taking the Bible literally is silly. Of course the Bible--created over the course of several thousand years, drawn from the writings of several different cultures (all of them at war with each other at the time), and completed a couple of thousand years ago--does not contain a phrase that only entered the lexicon of one of the world's cultures just a few years ago (relatively speaking). The point, the principle, is that Jesus never asked the sick for compensation; he healed people regardless of their socioeconomic status. And how does my response to Jersey Jerry's sarcasm show that I'm biased? By your logic, then you also are biased by respondig sarcastically to my post. And I don't disagree with your statements about votes for various politicians. The argument isn't specious. It's analogous. My point in drawing the paralell is that people who draw lines between their religion and their politics do a great disservice to themsleves, their communities, and their faith. If your religious beliefs fit neatly into a box that only comes out on Sundays/Saturdays, or disappears/changes when you enter the voting booth, or takes certain parts of the Bible literally but not others (ie a whatever makes you happy approach, an I'll take homophobia but leave slavery) then you're not being honest with yourself about your beliefs. Or, you don't really believe what you feel comfortable admitting you believe. Either is lame and, ummm, specious. Either you take the Bible literally--all of it--or you don't. Church doctrine asserts that the Ten Commandments are God's law handed down to Moses. (Interestingly, He doesn't give a specific Earthly punishment for each transgression; He just lays down The Law. Man later decided that Earthly punishments were also in order and made up a set of judgements to be handed down on Earth.) And neither you nor Jersey Jerry has fingered the verse in the Bible where God says homosexuality is a sin. Where is that?

Author
Nia
Date
2003-09-30T12:32:24-06:00
ID
68462
Comment

And re the larger volume of the Bible being filler: I don't think so, but that's my opinion. I would hardly call the lessons Jesus taught "filler." The love poems of Solomon are underserved and undervalued if they're called filler. Luke's historical survey is invaluable in understanding the grass roots movement that helped spread Christianity across the Middle East and Asia and into Europe. And the inconsistencies among the four Gospels also give us telling clues about the motives, methods, and perspectives of their authors. The enormous change in tone--not to mention language, literally and figuratively--between the Old and New Testaments provides telling clues to the historical and cultural changes taking place during the first several hundred (thousand) years of the beginning of Christianity.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-09-30T15:00:41-06:00
ID
68463
Comment

Please do not take my statement about your views on the Bible as agreement. I will certainly grant you the privilege and right to interpret the Bible in whatever manner you wish; but, that doesn't mean I have to agree to your viewpoint. I have been thinking about how to reply to your latest submital to this board, and haven't had time to compose a properly organized answer to you. I hope you excuse me and let me do so tommorow. In the meantime, as per your request, the following is a verse that looks like fairly plain language about homosexuality: ìKnow ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.î (I Corinthians 6:9-11) Under these standards, there are lots of people who won't make it into heaven. Ultimately the scripture tells us to break communion with these individuals [Eph. 5:6,7,11]. Thank God that we can get forgiveness through Jesus Christ if we confess and turn away from sin. Otherwise, I know I would never make it myself.

Author
Fielding
Date
2003-09-30T16:31:06-06:00
ID
68464
Comment

"nor effeminate" Poor hermaphrodites and men with hormonal disorders... Sad that your G*d would "create" something all the while damning it to hell including the jolly ol' drunks! Afterall, the definition of effeminate is as follows: -Having qualities or characteristics more often associated with women than men. - Characterized by weakness and excessive refinement (Hello Metrosexuals and girly-men!). Really! The Christians and their G*d are an abusive and destructive bunch! I thought Christ taught love without judgement.... Might I suggest some meditation, Zen Buddhism, Tai Chi, Martial Arts, cycling, running, or even a little gardening to soften that negativity? Better yet stop thinking like sheep and form an independent thought free of the pulpit and pastor and full of "the Spirit."

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-09-30T17:31:32-06:00
ID
68465
Comment

When I thanked you for proving my point, Fielding, I thought it was understood that you did so inadvertantly and presumably without pleasure. I'm assuming that's what you're referring to when you say "Please don't take my statement about your views...." And re Corinthians (We'll forget for the moment that this is one of Paul's letters to a city and a people he didnt like; it was not God's proclamation): If interpreted literally, Paul was a tormented man, as he admits later in the gospel, while he was writing it. He came to Corinth from a very different culture, spoke a different language, and had been tortured (literally) by the city's government. Do you think his torture at the hands of the Greek government/military made him biased against their culture, maybe just a little bit? Even if it didn't. His judgement, not God's, of Corinth as a culture of immoral people has the appearance of someone biased (if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, etc.). Corinth was then the center of the known world. It was an intellectual and mercantile capital. It was the seat of the world's most powerful government and economy. It was an artistic and architectural hub as well. Yet Paul can find nothing good to say about Corinth. His indictment of the priestesses of the temple of Aphrodite is a perfect example. You'd think his criticism would have centered on the worship of a god other than his. But it doesn't. Instead he concentrates on labeling the various types of immorality. He calls the women of the temple fornicators (early modern Europeans misinterpreted the original Greek word as prostitute). For Paul--who came from a culture where the only socially acceptable sex for a woman was with the husband that was chosen for her without her consent or input--women who chose their own sexual partners (plural) were the epitome of immorality. He didn't get that from God. He was simply raised that way. But this is a mute point anyway. Either you take all of the Bible literally or you don't. You can't have it both ways. Later on in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that these WERE the sins of the people of Corinth before Jesus died for them; and that after His resurrection, they were made clean and whole, without sin. As is by extension anyone who professes a belief in Christ. I'll wait for your next post.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-09-30T18:00:06-06:00
ID
68466
Comment

Later on in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that these WERE the sins of the people of Corinth before Jesus died for them; and that after His resurrection, they were made clean and whole, without sin. As is by extension anyone who professes a belief in Christ. That's right Nia. Good job-- but then he doesn't follow up with-- " So keep up the sinning!!" Also, getting back to our original argument. This is a leadership issue, not a going to church issue. A person who engages in homosexual activity can go to church, so can someone who commits adultery. However, the hope is they would be convicted and change. Jesus meets us where were at, but he doesn't expect us to stay there.

Author
Jersey Jerry
Date
2003-10-01T07:25:03-06:00
ID
68467
Comment

Jersey Jerry, if you're going to take pot shots at people, the least you could do is follow the discussion. We've never left the original argument concerning who is qualified to lead the church. You say gay people aren't qualified because homosexuality is a sin. That's a shallow argument as best because by the church's own admission everyone sins. The next line is usually that since gay people won't ask for forgiveness, their sin isn't forgiven, unlike the philandering minister who might beg for remission of sin. Neither of these deals with the issue of whether homosexuality is really a sin or whether it was simply a prejudice of some of the people who wrote some of the books that were complied in the several hundred years after Jesus' death to form what is known today as the Bible. Stop dodging the issue and face the central question squarely, Jerry: If homosexuality is such a horrible sin, on par with murder, why didn't God include an eleventh thou-shalt-not-be-a-homosexual commandment? He thought enough of envy to label it a sin. Why not homosexuality?

Author
Nia
Date
2003-10-01T12:25:26-06:00
ID
68468
Comment

Sin is sin, yes. We know that scripture teaches that if we have broken one law, we are guilty of breaking them all. (James 2:10) So then, the church decided to define levels of sin. Indeed, sin is still sin. As for this whole issue of homosexuality, I know Jesus loves everyone. But the interesting thing about the "CALL", when we give our life over to Jesus, we become transformed to draw nearer to His Perfect Love! That includes giving up as many sins in our life as we can possibly think of as a sin. Indeed, we will stumble and fall short of the glory (Rms 3:23), but we keep trying to draw nearer to the LORD. There is a contagious effort in a true believer's soul that will create the desire to be pure and holy before God. In response to the last posting, "why didn't God include an eleventh thou-shalt-not-be-a-homosexual commandment? He thought enough of envy to label it a sin. Why not homosexuality?" If we would study scripture, we would see that actually there are 613 commandments, the LAW, that are contained in the TORAH, or Pentatuech, otherwise known as the Levitical Laws. These laws were handed down from God to Moses and carried out through the Judges. Leviticus chapter 18 (and reiterated in chapter 20)is a very clear description of the laws concerning sexual relations. The language used in scripture is to the point and very specific. Given an understanding of a even the most basic of English language, any child can understand Leviticus 18:22 (also Lev 20:13). Further, Jesus himself is recorded as having taught that every tiny part of the LAW is to remain until the end of time (Matthew 5:18). In the ministry God has called me to be in, just as with every Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the very next verse 19 holds a special warning to all ministers. I pray for God's mercy on the clergy and church leaders who openly support homosexuality. For they will be considered the least by the standards of God's Kingdom. They will not inherit the earth. May we all be forgiven of our sins, and may our church leaders be more attentive to what scripture declares. I pray this in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ, AMEN.

Author
Rev. Ken Neuhaus
Date
2003-11-13T06:51:36-06:00
ID
68469
Comment

Double standards and rubbish... When the church starts embracing the Levitical Laws, I will stop being a homosexual. As well, I will be there ready to stone the adulterers, those wearing mixed fibers (polyester lovers watch out), and to topple the abundant icons that flood the churches including the holy of holies -- the Vatican. Oh, wait, I'm not Christian... Go about your business -- just make sure you keep your Levitical Laws away from my personal rights as a homosexual, human and an American. Christ taught, as did the other great human prophets of mysticism and religion, to live by example not by controlling others through practice of selectively picking scriptures with political purpose... Maybe when the priests, preachers, and hypocrites start setting examples by being examples their flock would follow suit. Until then, I expect the churches will steadily lose those of honest faith and continue to gain those willing to pay for salvation with their Visas and Mastercards online. A homosexual in the church is the least of the church's worries. Namaste.

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-11-13T10:56:44-06:00
ID
68470
Comment

You can't bait and switch Bible verses. There were only ten commandments handed down to Moses, not 613. Every child knows that. The 613 "laws" that make up the cannon known as Levitical Law are typically observed by Christians only when they need justification for their fundamentalist, homophobic views. Otherwise they're ignored. It's worth noting that Christian supporters of slavery used the Torah to justify slavery, all the while maligning Jewish followers of the Torah. I'm assuming you don't read Hebrew or we wouldn't be having this conversation, so you're relying on the English language translation. If you observe the Torah, how can you call yourself a Christian as opposed to being Jewish? Many laws in the Torah are in direct conflict with what Jesus teaches in the New Testament, namely that if you believe in Christ then you cast aside the old law and live not by law but by grace (aka love for everyone). You forget that Jesus announced that his teachings would bring an end to the "old laws" (aka Mosaic law, Aaronic law) and would bring us closer to God. Jesus was crucified partly because he directly challenged the validity and holiness of Mosaic law. Come on, Reverend, don't be daft. Be honest with yourself even if not with your congregation. The Levitical laws weren't written in English; they were wriiten in Hebrew so a basic understanding of English won't help you. It's been acknowledged by no less an authority than the Catholic church that the King James version and all its succesors have major translation errors. (Ever read "Born of a Woman" by Spong?) I believe God gave us all--ministers included--a far more important warning: Beware of the leaven of the fundamentalists (Matthew 16:6).

Author
Nia
Date
2003-11-13T12:25:22-06:00
ID
68471
Comment

I pray for God's blessings to be with you Nia and Knol Aust. Peace and greater understanding of God's will for us comes from intense prayer and seeking His Word. Indeed we have a New Covenant with God. However, even Jesus Himself would "pick and choose" scripture to make His point. For example, Luke 4:4 shows Jesus saying "scripture says man cannot live on bread alone." What He is referring to is Deuteronomy 8:3. "....God did it to teach you that people need more than bread for their life; real life comes by feeding on EVERY word of the LORD." So, that is my point, we need to go and search scripture, and seek Him in it. Yes, God desires that you live a long healthy fruitful life. Please understand though, that this involves following His commands. Doing your own will is idolatry. And I pray for peace in your lives as well. I sense a lot of hostility and resentfulness. I do agree, a homosexual in the church is just one of many concerns that a church has. God is so displeased with church. It isn't, and hasn't been for a long time, anything like what God had intended. Please, pray for each other, and me, as we are all seeking the LORD in our own lives. I pray that each of us will receive the call of His Salvation, and we answer it positively. Shalom, Ken

Author
Rev. Ken Neuhaus
Date
2003-11-13T13:25:59-06:00
ID
68472
Comment

"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing." --Mark Twain Ken, your prayers for me amplify the reasons for my exodus from Christianity. Through them, you suggest I am faulty or need your god in my life to be whole... I must certainly clarify that I have had the Christian god in my life and knew very little peace. It was denouncing the religions of the Christian faith that brought me peace. While I can eagerly and intuitively follow the teachings of Christ (just as Buddha), I can also choose to reclaim my own spirituality without some second-handed information from Miss Cleo in the pulpit claiming to know G*d's will. When/if you find a direct connection with G*d, there is no need to attempt conversion of others.... It should spill from your core and radiate just as it did with Christ and the Buddha. That being said, please dedicate your prayers for me to Iraq and the children that may never know peace; believe me, I have plenty of "good Christians" already throwing my name in the fire of the Gods to be remedied of my paganistic nature. Namaste.

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-11-13T14:07:34-06:00
ID
68473
Comment

Ken: You sense "a lot of hostility and resentfullness"? Bwahahaha! More like hilarity and incredulousness. You just can't see your way clear to admit that man's law does not equal God's law. It's a hurdle to be sure, but if you're truly faithful, it won't be hard to best it. So yes, I agree that doing your own will is idolotry. And if I were you that would be a hard pill for me to swallow. I can see why you're having trouble with it. The challenge I laid down a few weeks ago still stands: Show me in the Bible where God, not man, says that homosexuality is wrong or a sin. I'm just curious: How do you know how God feels? Do you have some kind of "red phone" to God? Has told you personally that he's displeased with the church? I wonder if it's because the church is hurtling fast toward fundamentalism and further away from Him? Next time that phone rings, ask Him will ya'? My Hebrew is patchy, but this phrase (also a popular Jewish hymn) is memorable: Hineh ma tov uma naim chevet achim gam yachad. (It is good when brothers and sisters dwell together in harmony.) It's the motto of my United Methodist church, and we challenge each other to live up to it. We are particularly proud of our gay brothers and sisters. And we'll pray for you, too. Knol: Don't let people like Ken hijack Christianity. It's a short trip from where we are now to the kind of fundamentalism that hijacked Islam.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-11-13T16:36:13-06:00
ID
68474
Comment

Me, I love the part where we're condemned for idolatry by thinking for ourselves. By people who worship the BIBLE, rather than it's teachings (sounds like idol worship to me). The Bible is not what is important here. As I just finished reading an essay by Marcus Borg, the Bible is a lens through which we attempt to discern the divine. The lens is not the important thing. What is important is the acknowledgement of the divine. God is sorry for our pain and suffering. God rejoices when we fall in love, no matter who that love is for. The notion that loving someone is a sin is just wrong.

Author
Kate
Date
2003-11-13T18:04:47-06:00
ID
68475
Comment

Nia, you are the s#|t!!!! Very impressive. You too, Knol. I love it when fundamentalists have to run off with their tail between their legs (hey Fielding, when are we getting your manifesto on why Nia is wrong?), because they can't adequately defend their rationalizations of bigotry. I am constantly bewildered by the inability of fundamentalists (from any religion) to see the forest for the weeds... by their obsession with the minutiae of doctrine, most of which is ignored by all but the self-appointed arbiters of man's iniquity (like our friend Rev. Ken -- gee, thanks for the prayers for all us sinners Ken... I am straight, but you can count me with Knol on everything he said)... these selfsame arbiters who completely fail to grasp the real and OBVIOUS meaning of what Jesus was trying to tell us. Tell me, Ken... what's it like to be a Pharisee? Do you get health benefits with that? It really comes down to this: sure, keep the homosexuals out of the pulpit. Not that I consider homosexuality a sin, but EVEN IF I DID... while you are at it, keep out the guy who ever coveted his neighbor's wife's ass (pun intended)... or the woman who plays tennis or shops or any other secular activity on Sunday instead of remaining supine to her husband and God... in fact, keep anyone who ever sinned out of the pulpit... which might mean that we will have to keep anyone at all who sins out of the pulpit... which means that it might be hard to find anyone -- even you, Rev. Ken -- to stand in that pulpit. Which, after all this, might be the point. -s-

Author
Scott Albert Johnson
Date
2003-12-23T03:38:49-06:00
ID
68476
Comment

Boomshakalaka...you nailed it Scott. Perfect 10's from all judges save the pharisees, but your lowest score is thrown out anyways. Happy Holidaze to every last one of you, whether a lover or a hater.

Author
dvc
Date
2003-12-23T12:22:25-06:00
ID
68477
Comment

Thanks Scott..., I think. :-) Cool name, anonymousPrime.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-12-23T13:07:02-06:00

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