A Tale of Two Concerts: Andrew Peterson vs. Cyndi Lauper

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This week, I saw two concerts in three days: the first was Andrew Peterson and the Captains Courageous and the other was Cyndi Lauper and the B 52s. But first, let me backtrack a bit.

A while back for our 10th anniversary my wife and I decided to spend a weekend in Chicago – the city where we met – and enjoy some of the local culture before attending a retreat put on by Image: A Journal of The Arts & Religion. We scraped together $150 of activity money and our first adventure was to spend an evening at Second City – the comedy club that produced comedians like Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, John Belushi and others. As we walked in we were greeted by a group of well-dressed men who shook our hands, graciously thanking us for attending the evening and ushering us down the line to the place where we would buy our tickets. We were asked if we had reserved seats and when we said no, the woman assured us there was still room and that we needn’t worry. “Good, in that case, we’ll take two tickets.” Our guide to Chicago nightlife listed Second City tickets at $8 a piece, so imagine our surprise when the woman presented us with our two tickets and said, “That’ll be $100, please.”

It was then we discovered that this was a special event fundraiser hosted by Second City to benefit an AIDs hospice program. We looked at each other and counted the cost of how awkward it would be to walk back down the gauntlet of well dressed men who had just a moment ago so graciously expressed their gratitude to us. Hoping to avoid this embarrassment and realizing it was too late in the evening to do anything else, we blew 2/3 of our week’s worth of fun money, took our tickets, and walked in. And there we were, unwitting attendees of a predominantly homosexual gathering, perhaps the only heterosexual married couple in the room. We were pleased, however, to discover that it was a banquet with a good spread of appetizers and hor d’oeuvres. Whichever side of the line you fall on in regards to the issue of homosexuality, one cannot argue that they do have exquisite taste in food. And shoes. All told, it was a great night and one of our favorite memories.

Fast forward 6 years and Taya and I found ourselves in a similar situation as we walked into the Target Center to attend the True Colors Tour with Cyndi Lauper and the B-52s. I saw the tickets go on sale in March and, knowing my wife’s love for all things 80’s, decided to be a good husband and order two. We made it a date night with dinner beforehand and a stay over at a lovely old fashioned Inn in the river city of Afton. After a good meal of fish and chips at Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis, we made our way to the Target Center for our own little 80’s revival.

As we walked in, we noticed there were a lot of gay couples in attendance that night. We looked at each other and joked, “Well it is an 80’s concert. And it is the B-52s…” As we made our way to our seats we ran into all manner of people decked out in flamboyant costumes, but we still had little idea what we had gotten ourselves into.

The Cliks were the first opener, and I knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore when during a lull between songs someone close to us yelled out “Take your pants off!” Thankfully the lead singer didn’t oblige. When the emcee came out after their set, all the pieces started to fall into place: it was Carson Kressley from Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. A flamboyantly gay man, Kressley joked about the protesters outside who may or may not have been holding signs that read “God Hates Homosexuality” with the Levitical reference below it. “I like to tell them, ‘God hates shellfish, too, but you don’t see me protesting at Red Lobster!’” Ouch, that was a good zinger, I thought, and even laughed. (This joke reminded me of the book I’m reading right now about what it would look like if we followed every law outlined in the Bible. The author suspects that religious people are guilty of picking and choosing which biblical laws they embrace. But that’s another topic for a later post…)

Kressley then asked, “How many homosexuals do we have in the audience tonight?!” and when the room erupted in hoots and applause, Taya and I realized that we were the sexual minority. I all of a sudden had a curious moment where I feared being outed as a heterosexual Christian man. Would I be considered the enemy? Would they gang up on me if it was discovered that I had once attended a George Bush rally? Thankfully, the emcee, who was genuinely very funny (not to mention very well-dressed), told all the gays to make any straights in the room feel welcome.

I still couldn’t shake my uneasiness, though my unease was less homophobic than it was ideological. I’m sure I had no reason to be nervous, but something about being a Christian heterosexual man at a gathering of homosexuals – some of whom were pretty militant – was an experience I wasn’t prepared for. I was the religious, sexual, and ideological minority. I felt like I didn’t belong and I was afraid of getting busted. I wondered if this was how a homosexual would feel at a rally of religious conservatives. Or a Republican convention. I also wondered if this is how homosexuals feel much of the time in our culture – an outsider excluded from much of the American experience that heterosexuals take for granted.

I also worried that we weren’t dressed stylish enough.

As the evening went on, we slowly discovered that we were attending what was in essence a gay rally to raise awareness of homosexual related issues and encourage people to vote accordingly in the upcoming election year. I guess we would have been more prepared if we had gone to the website beforehand, where it says: “The goal of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) equality is at the heart of [the] True Colors [tour].” I wonder how many other unsuspecting heterosexuals were there that night.

The next act was the Indigo Girls-like duo of Tegan & Sara, who had a good set of catchy 3 minute folk/pop songs, peppered with gay proclamations and crude banter between songs. Following the break, the emcee – after more homosexually charged humor – introduced Rosie O’Donell who gave us a 20 minute set of her observational comedy. She shared genuinely from her heart, but though she tried to humorize painful experiences like the death of her mother when she was young, challenges in her career, and her struggles with depression, most of the jokes came off as vulgar, angry, and sad. She also made some jokes, we felt, at the expense of her little boy. It was the most offensive and heartbreaking part of the evening for both Taya and me.

Following O’Donell, the B-52s were introduced as the greatest party band in the world, and man, they still have it! Even though they are more or less an aging gimmick band, they do what they do well, and I will admit that it was fun to hear “Rock Lobster”, “Roam”, and the ultimate party song – “Love Shack” – live.

Finally – 3 hours into the night – Cyndi Lauper was introduced, and as soon as she took the stage it was clear why she is… well… Cyndi Lauper. While my reasons for being there were to be a good husband, I genuinely enjoyed her set. She’s a consummate professional who has a real authority when she takes the stage. Because of her outrageous 80’s persona it’s easy to forget that she took some genuinely great songs to the top of the charts during her reign including “Time After Time” and “True Colors”. Listen to these songs again – seriously, they’re great!

And she’s very likable. Like the singer/songwriter/storytellers we admire so much here in the Rabbit Room, she would pause in her set and casually tell stories to the arena audience. She connected and made us feel like old friends. She is obviously gifted and it was enjoyable to watch her in her element and be reminded of the theology of “common grace” that refers to those who operate in their God-given giftedness though they may not necessarily believe in God (whether she does or does not, I don’t know). Her set was also thankfully devoid of sexual jokes and references (other than what you might expect to hear from 80’s pop music).

But to be honest, other than the few virtues I mentioned above, the night for the most part was often boring to me. There was little for me to connect with emotionally or musically. It’s not like most of the artists who were represented are writing songs that mine the ultimate questions of meaning and existence. And musically, there were very few moments that strayed too far from predictable pop conventions. At an event like this, you have to keep the hits rolling and there is little time for moments that let the music breathe and become something more than merely the canvas for catchy melodic hooks. Now, I know that girls just want to have fun, but I guess I was still hoping for something a little more.

Maybe a part of what left me feeling cold, too, is that more than music the event felt like it was about sexuality.

I don’t want to be guilty of bigotry, nor do I mean to be dismissive of homosexuals – we have enough friends who are homosexual to know that the issue is much more complicated than most religious conservatives take into account. But the whole evening was so laced with sex-soaked humor and bawdy talk that I kept thinking of Christian author Phillip Yancey who expressed to a gay friend that one of his main issues with homosexuals is the way many of them define themselves almost strictly by their sexuality.

Almost every word from the stage, to my ears, conveyed an often militant homosexual agenda. And it pains me to say it, but many of the attendees we saw around us affirmed unfortunate gay stereotypes. Most of the people in our immediate vicinity seemed clearly troubled, confused, and broken. I suppose the relevant question is: was it their brokenness that led them to homosexuality? Or was their brokenness the result of being a homosexual in a world that often marginalizes – or worse, demonizes – people of varying sexual orientation? Hard to say.

(In all fairness, I know intelligent and decent homosexuals who would have been as bothered as Taya and I were by some of the behavior we witnessed there. I suppose it’s akin to certain religious rallies that we hear about and then try to assure people that, “Not all Christians are like that.” Every group has its unruly adherents that must be apologized for.)

All told, it was interesting to have the experience of being a minority. I’m not assigning a value of “good” or “bad” to our being there, except to say that I think it was useful to gain perspective of what it’s like to be a sexual minority as well as eavesdrop on what homosexuals think of the rest of us – especially religious conservatives. Say what you want about the issue, but I think it’s safe to say that evangelical Christianity as a whole has often failed to address homosexuality in either a loving or compelling manner. The church is more famous for drawing lines in the sand and shouting than engaging in a thoughtful and compassionate conversation.

Speaking of compassion, the word literally means “to suffer with.” Christian author Frederick Buechner defines compassion as the “sometimes fatal capacity to know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.” Our attendance of the True Colors tour gave us a chance to be a sexual minority and to experience what those shoes feel like. I choose to believe that we were there for a reason, and I hope that our experience will help us understand better how to show the love of Christ to a community of people who often feel exiled beyond the reach of Christian grace.

At the very least, we came away with another great memory.

The evening ended with Cyndi Lauper bringing everyone on stage as they all sang “True Colors.” In spite of ourselves, Taya and I were both profoundly moved as they all sang together in true 80’s fashion (think “We Are The World”) this beautiful anthem of love and acceptance. And it occurred to us both that this is all that every human being longs for – to be seen for who we truly are and to be loved and accepted anyway. “I see your true colors, and that’s why I love you…” I actually cried and found a moment that I could resonate with. At its heart, this thought is what the gospel is all about – being seen for who we truly are and being loved anyway. The gospel ultimately takes us one step further, though, going beyond mere acceptance to transformation.

The homosexuality issue is such an explosive topic in the culture wars now that it dominates our political and religious conversations, obscuring nearly everything else. I don’t want that to be the case here, so I would like to put aside the sexuality issue and close with an altogether different observation.

As you may have read in my earlier post, I attended Andrew Peterson’s concert just two nights before this one, and in the last analysis I guess one of the more disheartening issues with the True Colors tour is this: it cost us over a $100 for the cheap seats and there were thousands of people there. The music was mildly entertaining at best and never really touched or stirred the deeper places in me. It left me unchanged except for the weird hangover of culture shock that still lingers.

Two nights previous, however, we attended a modest concert where a crowd of little more than a hundred people attended and the ticket price was $24 for the two of us. That night, I heard songs and stories of real life struggles with no easy answers, but a deep abiding hope that we all must answer to and which has miraculously survived centuries of doubt, fear, cultural shifts, mishandling and misrepresentation. The night was at once musical, stirring, and thought provoking. In the end, I left different than when I came – wanting to love better, to live more fully, and to be more engaged with my own life and the mystery of the God who I believe called it into existence. I left feeling more alive.

My wife made the observation on our way home the day after the True Colors show that we live in a culture where people are more likely to pay $100 to be mildly entertained than we are to pay $24 to be changed.


40 Comments

  1. Matt Algren

    I also wondered if this is how homosexuals feel much of the time in our culture – an outsider excluded from much of the American experience that heterosexuals take for granted.

    To answer your rhetorical question, yes, that’s how it feels much of the time. If I were married or otherwise in a relationship, I wouldn’t be able to hold my husband’s hand when we walked down the street without people looking at me disgustedly. Having a picture of him on my desk would be considered “publicly flaunting my homosexuality” when in reality, it’s just doing what you would do without giving it a second thought. Allow my hips to sway ever so slightly in the grocery store, and tongues begin to wag, and not in the good way.

    Already in the last thirty seconds, you’ve winced at my calling him “husband”, when that is what he would be, in effect. You’ll wince again when I say that I’m also a Christian and have no problem reconciling the two.

    I think that feeling of exclusion from the culture is a reason for some of the flamboyancy that you mentioned. Since I came out about eight months ago, I’ve really had to struggle to stay out of the closet. It’s far too easy to hide again when I meet someone new (I have 25 years of practice, after all), so I have to force myself to purposely be me. Taken to a further degree, you have dramatic lisps on men and butch haircuts on women.

    Or who knows, maybe that’s just who we are naturally.

    To answer another rhetorical question, no, brokenness is not a root cause of homosexuality, being a homosexual is. You’re viewing gender preference as a sickness with a cause and a cure rather than just an aspect of our being. We control the gender we’re romantically inclined toward to the same degree you do, which is to say, not at all.

    As for the sexualized environment, well, it’s a Cyndi Lauper concert. That’s just the norm. It has little to nothing to do with homosexuality. We aren’t any more of an autonomous collective than you straights are.

    I realize that you’re struggling with this, so I would gently invite you to go back and count the number of times in your blog post you rationalized or apologized for being in a room full of gays.

    Finally, on a much lighter note, I agree with you; I’d much rather go to a modestly sized concert than a big event with all the bells and whistles. Especially an AP concert. He’s rad.

  2. Wes

    …thank you for an excellent post

    …Cyndi and crew will be here on July 5 in Denver at Red Rocks (home of the infamous U2 concert from years back

    …and so will the “fag hating” folks from Topeka (ugh…!) holding up their signs in the name of Jesus

    …I’m grateful for your vulnerability in what all you said

    …Andrew was close by months ago in Castle Rock in a snow storm, and we wouldn’t have missed the evening for anything

    …having good friends who are gay, this is always an issue with some of our friends who wonder outloud why in the world we would even have gay friends

    …go figure

    …and I bet you think of your next new shoes a bit differently… 🙂 …but don’t let the recent concert hold you back from getting what you want/need

    …I really enjoy the rabbitroom

    …thanx to all of you!!!

  3. Profile photo of Jason Gray

    Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    Hey Matt, so glad you posted, thanks. I imagine it took some courage to post what you did.

    Sorry to hear that you feel like I apologized for being in a room full of gays. I don’t feel apologetic, and I certainly didn’t intend to sound so, and as I read back through my post, I m not finding any references that sound apologetic (granted, I could be missing them). In fact, I tried to be very sensitive in the way I worded everything for just such a reader as yourself. If I failed, I do apologize for that. Just as I was aware that I spent an evening eavesdropping on the conversation of the gay community at the True Colors concert, I always try to be conscientious of others who may be eavesdropping on my conversations and try to be sensitive.

    I do disagree on one thing, though – and that is that I’ve been to many secular concerts, more than the average person I imagine. This was by far the most sexualized event that I’ve been to, and I suspect that it was in large part because it centered around a sexual agenda. (Perhaps the same would have been true if the event had had a heterosexual agenda)

    Thanks again for reading and sharing, Matt, and again I apologize if I insensitively came off as apologetic or in any other way condescending.

  4. evie

    What a thoughtful, sensitive, thorough, and thought-provoking post.

    “Say what you want about the issue, but I think it’s safe to say that evangelical Christianity as a whole has often failed to address homosexuality in either a loving or compelling manner. The church is more famous for drawing lines in the sand and shouting than engaging in a thoughtful and compassionate conversation.”

    Oh it’s true, it’s sadly true. You have hit the nail squarely on its head. Thank you, Jason, for so bravely tackling this subject. I am awed.

  5. Stella Maris

    thats so nice……………………. but when can i see YOU personally………………….i mean all of you here in rabbit room…i wish you would drop by here in our country…………………………. PAPA JESUS! Make a way for this guys to come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    AMEN!

  6. Lori Broach

    Just wanted to touch on a very small part of what you said…

    I am thrilled that you brought up True Colors. It’s a life-changing song for me. My first dance with my husband at my wedding was to that song. It’s a true gift when someone loves you “as is.”

  7. Mike

    In a weeks time a few years back I experienced both ends of the spectrum of ‘christians’ dealing with homosexuals. One, on one of the news magazine shows, the camera got a Christian carrying a sign that said “God hates fags” and a young homosexual man with tears streaming down his face asking “why do you hate me” the “christian” said “I hate you because God hates you.” On the other end I heard a story about a preacher who to make ends meet did funerals for those that no one else would do. When he got to one of these funerals he noticed that all thirty in attendance were men and it didn’t take long to realize that they were all gay. At the end of the funeral one of the young men told him that he remembered something from his youth about the bible saying that nothing could separate you from the Love of God and asked the preacher if he could read it. The preacher did. Another asked as the men began to weep if he could read the 23 Psalm. Again the preacher obliged.

    I made up my mind then and there which type of Christian I wanted to be. I’m not there yet. So yes I winced at parts of your post Matt. But I have sense enough to know that Jesus didn’t. Being a Christian Matt I hope you understand that we are being conformed into His image.

  8. josh

    I wince not at the thought of a man calling another man husband, but at the thought that we live in a world where people who claim to be children of a loving God have become militant and violent dealers of hate and prejudice. “I hate because God hates”. That makes me wince. The thought that people are capable of such dark dark hatred towards people simply due to their sexual orientation. And they defend their position with garbage like “homosexuality is a sin and an abomination in the eyes of God”. Well it may be true, but so is a persuasion towards pornography (the straight kind), but nobody holds up picket signs that say “god hates regular people who are addicted to porn”. That woul be absurd, but somehow it’s totally common to see “God hates Fags” banners flying high. That’s what makes me wince.

    The fact that people hide behind sexual identity makes me wince. It’s like we completely ignore the fact that we have an identity in Christ that makes which gender we’re sexually attracted to pale to invisibility in comparison and that makes me wince.

    I am passionately attracted to women in a way that crosses the line over into obsession sometimes but when I talk about being overcome with lust it turns into something to laugh about. If a gay person simply tells someone they’re gay then the pseudo-christians come out of the woodwork to lambast them and tell them they are hated by God and have no hope whatsoever to cling to. That makes me wince. If we’re gonna be militant about sins, let’s at least be fair.

    I thank God for the fact that we have been blessed with a savior that doesn’t see gay, straight, black, white, tall, short, fat, skinny, american, democrat, republican, nazi, communist, facist, good, or bad. He sees children and he sees them covered in a disgusting mess called sin. He sees them running away and he goes to the ends of the earth to bring them back home. He leaves the 99 to find the one that wandered far away. He says to the theif, “this day you will be with me in paradise”. He says to the widow who gave her last scraps of money “this woman has given more than any of the rest”. He says “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing” on behalf of the human race. When no suitable man could be found among the prophets, priests, and kings of earth to stand in the gap between mand and God, He proved to be the one worthy and willing to do so. And He did it at the expense of His own life. And when someone writes “God hates” on a picket sign, they might as well go ahead and defocate on everything He has done out of love for us. And that makes me wince.

    Who you are sexually attracted to does not define who you are, and to live as such is a sad state of affairs. If i lived my life around the fact that I am attracted to tall brunette women with green eyes and a voluptuous figure then what kind of person would I be? So why does it make any more sense for someone to define their existence based on the fact that they are attracted to the same gender? There’s so very much more than that to life. We have an identity in Christ that doesn’t leave room for us to swell ourselves up with self-righteous pride simply based on our sexual orientation. To do so is to cheat ourselves out of what Christ died to give us. Do not define yourself as “John, the man who sleeps with other men”, embrace the fact that you are defined as “John, the sinner Christ loves dearly”. I think you can imagine the implications of the latter. Does it make you wince?

  9. Matt Algren

    Hey Jason, sorry to reply and run, I knew I should have waited till this morning!

    I want to be clear about something. I’m not offended or anything like that by your post. This is an issue that has such baggage (on both sides) that we (both sides) have to be careful not to be over-sensitive in the conversation.

    And the conversation is the important part. For a very long time, being Christian and being gay have been considered mutually exclusive, and the only way to get past that is to engage in open dialogue. So when I see questions (rhetorical or not) like you have in your post, good, honest, fair questions, I have an almost unnatural need to answer them.

    I’m not worried about you being ‘offensive’, Jason, because I think you get it. I was re-listening to your interview with Michael Card last night. (Yes, I re-listen to interviews. It’s almost a sickness.) In it you said:

    I exert so much energy trying to hide from people, and my greatest fear is always being found out. But the Bible says “Confess your sins one to another that you may be healed,” and it seems unfortunate to me that it’s oftentimes in the church among other believers that we learn how to perfect hiding our weaknesses, our sins from each other.

    And I think that everybody loses. I think that we lose because as we hide our sins, our weaknesses, they gain power over us. And also as we hide them I think we deny the people around us a chance to see how God’s grace works in a real person’s life.

    For a long time, being gay was my greatest weakness, the one thing I needed to hide from everybody, the one thing that kept me from full communion in the church. Only by making a conscious decision not to hide have I been able to find any peace in relationship with Jesus.

  10. jeremy

    matt,
    i have had several friends and mentors that i respect that were gay…and one i particular who was a Chrisitan. i once had a candid, sincere conversation with her and asked her about her relationship with Jesus. but she struggled with answering my question of how she reconciled her gay relationship with being a Christian. it seems that the Bible is pretty clear about all this, i told her. she responded that she couldn’t easily explain, but in many ways she thought that God had “allowed” her to be gay (and thus released her from “hiding”). i can’t remember the exact words interchanged, but this is my best reiteration.

    i also remember a story i once read in a Phillip Yancey book about how Nouwen, a great devotional writer, was gay…but never actually “came out” because (as i remember the story) he wanted to be true to his relationship with Christ.

    so my question for rabbitroom people is this…how do you reconcile a gay relationship with what seems to be sin according to the Bible?

  11. Tony Heringer

    Abortion.! Just wanted to get another lightening rod issue out there. 🙂

    I appreciate Matt’s posts. I am happy to hear he loves Jesus. His posts don’t make me wince. Matt is where I’d expect him to be if he is to live out his convictions. I very much appreciate that sort of honesty over someone who is going to hide what they live and believe.

    At the end of the day, our stance on this issue and any other in life best square with Jesus and the Bible (the Truth that sets us free). I think homosexuality is sin and I can make a case for it biblically. I am certain Matt can make his case that homosexuality is not sin as well. However, we would likely agree that adultery and fornication are sins.

    I can attest as an elder in my local church that there is a lot more of those sins going on inside and outside our church than homosexuality (which is also present). Which is why most homosexuals can point and laugh at the obvious hypocrisy of any condemnation directed to their sin as it is a spec of sawdust compared to the 2×4 protruding from the eye of the Bride of Christ—the visible Bride that is, Christ does clean His true Bride completely and fully at the culmination of all things (think of sanctification as a long spin cycle in your washer :-)).

    The Church visible has done a very poor job in this area. We have expressed vitriolic hatred for homosexuality, but not all sexual sin. Last time I checked God hates sin – all of it. That is not the same as you and I hating sin because God is completely just and completely loving. We try to slice and dice the Creator by His attributes but every attempt to do so, by default is “reductionary.”

    We can’t comprehend fully how loving and just He really is and probably never will this side of heaven. Even then, I’m sure I’ll be in the remedial class asking Paul “repeat that again, please!” as I don’t think we’ll be omniscient in heaven — work was pre-Fall guys, so we likely will be learning and growing from here to eternity or as Buzz Lightyear would say “to infinity and beyond!”

    You and I are sinners through and through. So, when I’m in doubt about how to react to a particular sin, the best default position I have is to love. So, if Matt is claiming the name of Jesus then I’m going to love him as a brother. I’m not going to let him go unchallenged on what I see from Scripture as sin, nor would I expect him to do any less with me with my sin. That is what love does. It has the courage to speak the truth not to hurt but to heal. Proverbs 27:6 tells us “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

    One of my favorite stories of Christ is when He is anointed by “a woman who lived a sinful life” (Luke 7:37). The punch line is Jesus saying

    “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give Me any water for My feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give Me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing My feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

    This woman could have been a lesbian. Most assume she was a prostitute or adulteress based on the phrase “sinful life.” But maybe she was just a liar and a cheat like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and me? I don’t know, but I do see this, Jesus is the friend of sinners because those who recognize themselves as sinners know they have a deep need for a Savior. That is what makes grace so amazing, it doesn’t depend on what you or I do for Jesus, but thankfully what Jesus has already done for us.

    Thanks again for the posts Jason and Matt. The Rabbit Room is a very cool place where we can share just about anything on our hearts. Let’s take this attitude back to our communities as it is the kind of love that needs to be spread far and wide.

  12. Matt Algren

    jeremy,
    That’s a huge question, and I’m not sure this comments section is the place to answer it, but I’d point you to this link and this link for a good primer.

    Before and above that, I think that God’s first rule is to love people and love God above all. His rule isn’t “love the sinner, hate the sin,” as I hear all too often connected with this issue.

    At its root, I think the real issue is our very human desire to be in charge. This is an area where 90-95% of the people in the pews won’t have a personal stake in the decision. It’s not that it doesn’t matter to them, it’s that it doesn’t matter to them in a personal way, like decisions about divorces and affairs and stealing do. And because they don’t have a personal stake in it, people can, completely accidentally and without malice, lose sight of the big picture.

    The big picture is such a simple one, isn’t it? Above all else, love. No qualifiers or disclaimers, no exceptions or exclusions. Love, but love in a way that we can’t understand.

    Isn’t it love, this rain that falls on the sinner and the saint?
    Isn’t it love, this well that won’t run dry?
    Isn’t it love, these mercies are made new every morning?

  13. Curan

    It’s so sad when Christians hate homosexuals and brought the notion that Jesus hates them too…

    It’s true that homosexual activity is a sin but that doesn’t mean you have to hate the sinners too…

    here in my country people tend to marginalize these people as being the minority and most christians don’t even talk to them. How can they know the love of Jesus if the Jesus people doesn’t even gave a damn…

  14. Tony Heringer

    Like I said, Matt can show you his position on this issue, but rather than play theological tennis here, I’d rather agree to disagree with Matt on the “homosexuality is or isn’t a sin” argument and meet Matt where we can agree and that is on love.

    To go along with Barliman’s** song lyrics quoted by Matt, I’ll add this thoughtful article by Steve Brown: http://www.keylife.org/magazine/christmas-magazine-love-is-a-lot-stronger.html

    Steve is a great teacher and over the last year has challenged me to build an “orthodoxy of love.” Coming to the Room is a great place to put that orthodoxy into practice.

    Cheers!

    ** – Barliman, as in Barliman Butterburr, is my name for AP who loves Lord of The Rings. It beats “The Proprietor”)

  15. jeremy byrd

    thanks matt! i look forward to reading the articles to better understand your perspective.
    jb

  16. whipple

    I must say that I really, really love the fact that there’s a platform for discussion of issues that would tend toward conversational explosion in any other venue.

    I don’t know how many of you read other message boards on the internet (probably most of you, come to think of it). The handful of times I’ve strayed onto a message board linked to some highly public website, I’ve been grieved over the smallness and malignancy that pervade the posts.

    Thank you all for being kind. I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but still, merci beaucoup.

  17. Travis Prinzi

    Excellent, thoughtful post. This conversation hit home a few months ago when I had a similar experience being a heterosexual “sexual minority” at an Ani DiFranco concert. What a disorienting and then reorienting experience!

  18. Bruce

    Jason, you had left Atlanta Fest but Justin Lookadoo on Friday evening asked why Christians boycott Disney on gay pride day, why not attend and meet them. Build relationships, not walls. Isn’t that what Jesus did? Only walls Jesus seemed to build were against the religious leaders.

    When Susan and I saw Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco during 1995, it was a Gay Pride Week performance. We didn’t have to pay the ticket surcharge like you did in Chicago, they were steep enough as it was.

  19. marty

    The Luke 7 passage that was brought up is great because it shows repentance. She HAD lived a sinful life, and now out of repentance she was washing Jesus’ feet with her tears.

    Let’s face facts, here people- Homosexuality is a sin. It’s a lifestyle that says the world’s opinion is higher than God’s Word. A Christian living a Homosexual lifestyle is not living a life of repentance and thus is not w/ God, but against Him. a “Christian homosexual” is an oxymoron.

    We have grown soft as Christians in the 21st century. We have bowed to political correctness and tip-toed around the law in order to embrace the Gospel. The Gospel is useless w/out the law! If we are not sinners, we do not need Jesus.

    The Bible is clear- Romans 1:24-17, Romans 8:5-8, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Jude 1:7- none of them Levitical law, all condemning homosexual relations. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 reminds us sins of sexual nature are sins against the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should honor God with our bodies.

    So, if the homosexual lifestyle is a sin, then repentance is needed- a turning away from that sin and a following of God. 2 Corth. 5:17- If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
    In Jesus, all things are possible, even the changing of one’s sinful sexual orientation into one that is God-pleasing. Of course this process is not easy, and it is a struggle- just as a heterosexual person deals with lust and an alcoholic deals with cravings, so too a homosexual has to deal with the sinful world. But as Proverbs 1:10 says, if sinners entice you, do not give into them.
    We are to Fix our eyes on Jesus, as Hebrews says. The world tells us Homosexuality is OK- and the “true” nature of God is love. The Bible tells us Homosexuality is a sin, and God is a just God- repent and be baptized and you will be saved. Repentance- true repentance is needed.

    Now, of course we are to treat all in love- regardless of their sinful nature. I love you because I struggle with sin just like all of you do, BUT we cannot condone sin and call it love. In love we are to point out sin- in a loving way- Matthew 18 applies… So, out of love for our brothers and sisters in the homosexual community (the only “community” defined solely for their sexual preference… which is odd)- we cannot say their actions are OK. If we do that we forget the law….

    Alright I’ve rambled on enough… I apologize for my lack of eloquence…

  20. aletheia

    I echo marty on this topic…I couldn’t have said it better. We all may be sinners, but the Christian lives a life of repentance. You can not defend your sin and live a life of repentance.

    I wont only say that I can say that God hates sin, as He does…but God hates unrepentant sinners.

    “Six things the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers.”
    -Proverbs 6:16–19

    “The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers.”
    -Psalm 5:5

    “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates him that loves violence.”
    -Psalm 11:5

    It may be true that a man may be more prone to be attracted to men, but it’s also true that some people’s genetic make up make them more prone to violence, rape and murder. It is sad, and it is a tragedy that Satan attacks us from every angle but it isn’t an excuse to go against God’s will of command.

  21. Profile photo of Jason Gray

    Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    I have purposefully remained neutral in my post, opting to let others talk about this issue, but for the sake of argument I would like to submit that at the heart of the issue are sincere and intelligent believers who believe they can argue that the bible doesn’t necessarily call the kind of homosexuality that we’re talking about as sin. They would argue that in the original language of the text the word that is translated for us as homosexual is a word that refers to male temple prostitutes. As Buechner has pointed out the parameters by which this kind of sexuality is wrong can also be said of heterosexuality – an animalistic, self worshiping kind of lust that diminishes us rather than makes us whole (as sexuality was intended). It’s an interesting loophole that may be worthy of consideration.

    All that to say that the two previous posts that quote scriptures denouncing homosexuality most likely mean very little to the homosexual who is well-versed in the original language of the text.

    There are, however, other creational aspects of our sexuality that provide another layer of hurdles that make it hard for me to unequivically abandon the traditional view of homosexuality as sin, or as an expression of brokenness. With great compassion I’m trying to understand the issue and hope that the church – even if she comes to the same conclusion of homosexuality as sin – will at least engage in a loving conversation about this and engage in the hard, hard work of wrestling with the more difficult aspects of the issue.

  22. marty

    Well friends, I’ve heard that too- that the original language paints a different picture. Thankfully, I have my masters degree in classical languages. Let’s look at a couple verses:
    Jude 7 supports the interpretation that homosexual acts in general were also condemned at Sodom and Gomorrah, not simply the rapist lusts that accompanied them: “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” The Greek here for the NIV’s “gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion” (toutois ekporneusasai kai apelthousai opiso sarkos heteras) reads literally: “having engaged in sexual immorality and having gone after ‘different’ flesh.” The “different flesh” would be persons of the same sex — a kind of “flesh” that is “different” from what is normally the object of sexual desires, namely the opposite sex, with which God designed sexual activity to be carried out in marriage, and with which most cases of sexual immorality (in thought or deed) are involved.

    I understand the difference between prescriptive and descriptive passages. But the account of Sodom and Gomorrah, taken in the context of all of Scripture (including the Jude passage, as well as everything mentioned specifically in this board on homosexuality, and everything else in the Bible on marriage and sexuality in general… both prescriptive and descriptive passages), is certainly credible in lending weight in the condemnation of homosexual acts in general.

    In Romans 1 we see God allowing sin to run its course as an act of judgment, which is a terrifying thing (cf. Hebrews 10:31). There are several sins and their consequences listed in this section (vv.18-32). The repetition of the words is worth noting:

    The sets of sins and consequences are parallel in substance: they didn’t glorify God (21a) so their hearts were darkened (21b); they worshiped idols (22-23), so God gave them over to their sinful sexual desires and actions (24); they worshiped idols (25), so God gave them over to shameful lusts, which consisted of homosexual (unnatural) acts (26-27); they abandoned knowledge of God (28a), so God gave them over to their sinful actions (28b, and 29-32).

    The connective in the middle of verse 26 indicates that what follows (about women and men abandoning natural heterosexual marital relations) is explaining what exactly the “shameful lusts” were that God gave them over to.

    Though it doesn’t explicitly say the women had sex with women, since it is parallel to the men having sex with men (which is also referred to as abandoning natural sexual relations), this is the most logical conclusion.

    In these passages the unnaturalness is not attributed to an association with idolatrous orgies. The unnaturalness is attribute to the essence of the homosexual act — abandoning sexual relations with women and exchanging them for sexual acts with men.

    In addition, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul has already condemned general sexual immorality with “pornoi,” and adulterers with “moixoi.” Then he proceeds to condemn both the passive “malakoi” and active “arsenokoitai” partners in homosexual acts. He means to encompass the whole of homosexual activity, so as to leave no doubt that none of it is acceptable to God…. reaffirming the specific condemnations in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as not simply specific to that time period, but as general moral laws for all time (though not demanding the civil punishment of 20:13, since the people of God were no longer under Israelite civil law, but under Roman rule).

    Also, Romans 1:26-27 is quite clear, if we do not try to inject our own agenda into it. It says what it says. Women exchanged natural relationships for unnatural ones. Men likewise. They committed indecent acts with other men. These acts were not indecent because of their context (i.e. not in a committed relationship); they were indecent because of the act itself — because God condemns homosexual acts; because these acts go against the order and will that God has established for his creation when he created them male and female and instituted marriage and the family as the basic unit of society for procreation and propagation of the seed of the woman, through whom he would bring forth the Savior of all mankind. There was no place in his order for homosexual activity of any kind…

    Now, I hate that we as Believers argue about such things- and if it were something of non-consequence I would not be wasting my time and yours by writing paragraphs… But this is a major issue. We must define what is acceptable and what is detestable (to be spat out) to God. Unrepentant sin is detestable to our Judge. If we as a church condone sin, there is no reason to repent of it, thus we lead people astray. By condoning what God has spat out, we deny the work of the conscience, and allow sin to go un-repented. Homosexuality is one such sin. If one does not turn away (repent) of such sin, he/she is not in line with God, and thus detestable to Him. So is true with ALL unrepentant sin- hetero or otherwise (I don’t want to sound as if I’m “ganging up” on Homosexuals, but it IS the topic at hand).

    So to hide behind the “translation” defense or the “cultural atmosphere” excuse or whatever human thought we’ve allowed to seep into our sinful minds, is causing people to condone their sin, and thus continue a life of separation from their Savior.
    The Bible is clear. Who are we to say that WE have a “greater understanding” of what God has already made perfectly clear?

  23. Matt Algren

    A couple things, marty and althea. First, my alarm bells start going off when someone starts with “Well, friends…” or “Let’s face facts…” Both are attempts to shut down dialogue and shut off thinking. So I read your posts carefully and with the heads up that I’ve become used to. Secondly, please don’t call use the word “lifestyle”. It has the effect of dehumanizing in order to condemn someone without actually saying it outright.

    You’ve drawn a line by saying that gays are necessarily and in all cases against (that is, hate) God, a statement that is false on its face. Althea, I wonder if, when you talk to non-Christians, you tell them that God hates them. The truth is that Jesus died in a radical, sacrificial expression of his love for us. All of us, including the unrepentant sinners.

    And I’m sure you didn’t mean to liken my liking dudes to violence, rape, or murder.

    Anyway, let’s look (briefly) at each of marty’s prooftexts, but without the mistaken inherent assumption that homosexuality is defined as a sin in the Old Testament.

    Romans 1:24-17: Keep reading. Paul’s point becomes clearer in Romans 2. Hint: It has nothing to do with condemning gay folks.

    Romans 8:5-8: Doesn’t mention homosexuality.

    Galatians 5:19-21: Doesn’t mention homosexuality. (It does mention hatred, though…)

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Translating the Greek phrase “malakoi arsenokoitai” into “homosexual” is a questionable and recent decision. Other translators have preferred the word “pervert” or “masturbator”, both of which would include heterosexuals. The second word was used for hundreds of years, until people were convinced that masturbating isn’t a sin. Forced to come up with a palatable alternative, the translator made a decision that has caused much pain.

    Jude 1:7: The great sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, it was the intent to rape a foreigner.

    It still amazes me that this is the line that many Christians draw in the sand. It amazes me that people rush with such glee to hate someone they think they’re allowed to hate. Because EVEN IF homosexuality were a sin, wouldn’t we all be called to show compassion and love toward each other?

    Jason, I’ve seen these escalating statements before, and I’m afraid this is on its way to getting ugly. That helps no one, and it isn’t fair to you or the rabbit room. If you feel I’m contributing to that, please delete my comments.

  24. aletheia

    Matt wrote:
    [Althea, I wonder if, when you talk to non-Christians, you tell them that God hates them. The truth is that Jesus died in a radical, sacrificial expression of his love for us. All of us, including the unrepentant sinners.]

    If you can say without a doubt that Christ died for unrepentant sinners in the same way as repentant sinners, then what’s to stop everyone from going to Heaven? Christ died for those who believe so that they may come to righteousness.

    Matt wrote:
    [And I’m sure you didn’t mean to liken my liking dudes to violence, rape, or murder.]

    What I said before about our genetic makeup was more of an answer to the all to often used excuse “I cant help what I like”.

    Anyway, thought I’d answer those questions before saying that my post was more about Christian acceptance of sin, rather than homosexuality in and of itself. However, if one chooses not to believe that homosexuality is sin (which, in my mind is an incredible statement that is obviously false) then my statements are null and void in that situation.

  25. aletheia

    Sorry for two posts, but I forgot something…

    Matt wrote:
    [EVEN IF homosexuality were a sin, wouldn’t we all be called to show compassion and love toward each other?]

    Yes, we would. But loving someone is not the same as accepting someone’s sin. If my best friend were cheating on his wife and I knew it the answer would not be to pretend it doesn’t happen, it wouldn’t be to rationalize it into being okay, it wouldn’t be to chalk it up to the depravity of man. The answer would be (if this person claims to be a Christian) would be to make sure they know what they are doing is wrong first and helping them fight the sin second. If the person were not a Christian, then obviously we should be talking to them about Christ and helping them see that Christ is the answer and rescue from all sin.

    Loving someone entails helping them come closer to God. Acceptance of sin is pushing them the other way.

  26. marty

    I don’t understand why accepting homosexuality is “open-minded” and calling it a sin, as the Bible does, is “close-minded”. I don’t understand why not taking a stand is OK, but taking a stand is, as Matt said, is “shut[ing] down dialogue and shut[ing] off thinking”. Those who liberally interpret the Bible want everyone to be accepted, but yet they angerly reject those who have a counter-opinion. Cruel irony, I guess.

    It doesn’t matter if you look at the original Greek, it’s all about the agenda you have going in. If you want to justify something, you’re giong to. As a single man I REALLY wish sex outside of marriage is OK. But it isn’t. I’m sure if I tried I could go back to the Greek and find ambiguity in passages. But I won’t. God’s law is perfect, and God’s law is clear.
    I really hope for the sake of the thousands of folks who call themselves Christians, yet are still engaging in the homosexual lifestyle, I hope for their sake that their interpretation is correct. But I simply cannot see it, and as such the wages of sin is death. It’s simple law and Gospel.

    I am sorry that you took my words as hateful. They were not written as such. If I hated you, I wouldn’t post anything and allow you to believe what you want without giving my 2 cents. But I, as a sinner in need of a Savior, love all people, and as such I just thought I would weigh in. My apologies if I lack tact.

  27. keltic

    Jason,
    Thanks for doing a good job with this topic. You seem to have navigated a minefield without tripping one of the mines, at least from my point of view.

    Let me say right up front that Matt A. invited me to take a look at this conversation. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel ambushed.

    As the discussion escalated, as Matt predicted it would, I have noted 2 things. 1) aletheia seems to think that God’s love is conditional, at least that’s what I’m reading in her statement [If you can say without a doubt that Christ died for unrepentant sinners in the same way as repentant sinners, then what’s to stop everyone from going to Heaven? Christ died for those who believe so that they may come to righteousness.] This seems to say that Jesus died only for believers. What would be the point of Jesus’ death if he dies for only those who believe in him already? It also ignores a key scripture that says that God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (romans 5:8) it also seems important to you, aletheia, that some people don’t go to heaven. this seems to be a hallmark of evangelical/fundamentalist christianity; there must always be a group of people, some “other” who do not make it to heaven. This group is not only the scapegoat for a nation or world’s problems, but allows christians to feel superior to those who are being scapegoated.

    point 2) Marty makes it clear that he knows what he’s talking about, and backs it up with some good academic research.
    marty said: [The Greek here for the NIV’s “gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion” (toutois ekporneusasai kai apelthousai opiso sarkos heteras) reads literally: “having engaged in sexual immorality and having gone after ‘different’ flesh.” The “different flesh” would be persons of the same sex — a kind of “flesh” that is “different” from what is normally the object of sexual desires, namely the opposite sex, with which God designed sexual activity to be carried out in marriage, and with which most cases of sexual immorality (in thought or deed) are involved.]

    The problem is that Marty makes a leap from his academic research and defines ‘different flesh” according to his own bias. If the flesh was human flesh, there would be no need to describe it as “different flesh” with the possible exception of engaging in sexual activities with other races. (I’m sure this verse was used to oppose interracial marriage.) However, if we are to accept marty’s claim that “different flesh” means homosexual activity, how then could one man pursuing another man be considered “different” when in reality, they would be of the “same” flesh? Since the term ‘different flesh” is not explained very well, marty has done so for us, according to his own prejudice. He also neglected to point out that many theologians believe this could be a reference to spiritual beings, perhaps angels. In such a case, “different flesh” would indeed be different.

    and now, off to listen to music by this guy, Jason Gray….I’ve just heard of him.

  28. aletheia

    Well, keltic, I would defend my statements but there is no sense. Like I mentioned previously, my arguments for loving others by challenging them are meaningless in this sense. Because you do not believe that having intimate relationships with the same sex is contrary to scripture, it doesn’t matter anyhow in this conversation and continuing on would not be productive. The battle here seems to be if homosexual relationships glorify God or not – let it be known that I do not believe they do, that’s all…

  29. keltic

    aletheia,

    My question about your statement could be answered regardless of your or my stance about sexual orientation. Why did you choose to ignore my question about the people for whom Christ died? I also note, that while the comments do seem to be about homosexuality, the particular paragraph addressed to your statement contains no mention of such. Could you please reply to my statements? Did Jesus die for only a few people? Is God’s love conditional? What is the point of Jesus’ death if he died only for those who believe in him (as you seem to say here)? Is there a particular emotional payoff for believing that you are part of a group that is better than some other group? very often in christian circles we hear “I may not be perfect, but at least I’m not like________ (fill in name of person or group)” In order to avoid putting words into your mouth, it would be helpful if you responded to my interpretation of your statement.

  30. marty

    Keltic-
    I’m not an Evangelical, nor a fundamentalist- I’m a Lutheran (some might consider us fundamental, I suppose, but that’s besides the point)-

    Anyway, the Bible is pretty clear that Jesus died for all people- from Hitler to Gandhi (to use stereotypes of “evil” and “good”) all the sins of mankind were washed away in Jesus’ blood. But not all people are saved. Ephesians says we are saved by grace through faith. Faith is key. John 3:16 says that whoever believes in Him will be saved, and then in verse 36 says whoever rejects the Son will parish. Are you inferring that belief is not necessary for salvation? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so please clarify.

    The issue then, is sin. Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached a Gospel of salvation through belief through faith and repentance. As we see in Matthew 11:20-24, Korazin and Bethsaida did not repent and Jesus condemned them and told them they were going to Hell because of their lack of a contrite heart.
    Repentance is the “turning away” from sin. Certainly this is a struggle because as Luther said we are at the same time “sinner and saint” and there’s a constant struggle between Heavenly grace, and human pride. This pertains to homosexuality in that there is dissention in Christians as to whether or not it is indeed a sin. If it isn’t a sin then que sarat, if it is, however, then one living in a homosexual relationship would be on par with the people of Korazin or Bethsaida as unrepentant sinners. I hate to focus on one sin in particular – because sin is sin and we are all sinners. The key is repentance, and if you refuse to believe that what you are doing is sinful it’s hard to be repentant. If I’ve rationalized that smoking weed is OK then I have no reason to repent. But just because I don’t think it’s a sin, doesn’t mean it isn’t. It’s still illegal, it’s still a sin against God.

    So that is the issue that I wish to bring forth. The necessity of defining sin so that we as Christians can mark and avoid it and live repentant lives, lest we end up as the people of Korazin, Bethsaida, Sodom, or Gomorrah.

  31. aletheia

    Okay…fine. I wasn’t going to get into this because of the fact that it goes in a different direction than this topic was about…but since you want to take it that way, it’s fine with me.

    Jesus died for all humankind, but not all in the same way. He purchased my salvation and all other Christian’s salvation on the cross, he did not purchase the salvation of unbelievers. The question of God’s love being conditional is kind of an absurd one, in my opinion. God is love. If you are talking about God’s love saving a person from the eternal damnation that they deserve I still cant say that is conditional or unconditional. Why? God is God, to say that His choice on something is conditional is to say that he doesn’t have power over whatever conditions he wants to invoke. To say that it is unconditional goes against scripture.

    Christ died for all of humanity. Christ purchased salvation for those whom believe. Those whom he purchased the price are to be conformed to his image. Christ died so that we would be able to have repentance. Christ said that he came to fulfill the law, and that’s exactly what he did.

    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

  32. Roman

    I know that there has been some discussion as to the sinfulness of homsexuality by both sides of the issue. Let us clarify that if homosexuality is a sin the wages of sin (unrepentant sin or otherwise) is death. God came offering his gift of salvation and love to both sinner and saint. Those who believe in God and turn from their sin are given the additional gift of eternal life in Christ. Jesus’s work on the cross is unconditional and a gift that was freely given to all.

    If homosexuality is a sin than just like any other sin we as believers are called to repent and turn from it so that we can live in right relationship with God. I would like to echo Martys thought that it is important to define sin from a scriptural perspective so that we can avoid sin and challenge one another in love to do the same.

    One of the questions that has been swimming in my brain as I have read these responses is:

    What was God’s intention when he created sex (pre-fall) ?
    -was it procreation?
    -was it intimacy?
    -was it both?

    As prideful as is sounds to infer that we, the sinful beings that we are, can try and determine the intentions of the uncreated one it may shed some light on our discuusion.

  33. Tony Heringer

    And we still haven’t gotten to abortion? 🙂 At this point, I think the two choirs have sufficiently been preached to and the horses are all but dead.

    I concur with the spirit and conclusion of Mr. Gray’s comments. He and I had a heartfelt conversation about this topic shortly after our initial posts on this topic. He cares a great deal about understanding this matter fully. My recommendation to both sides is continue this dialogue in person with someone on the opposite side of the issue. You might even be able to meet each other as Matt’s name is a link to his blog.

    I think it is very important to respect all who gather here. When we reach an obvious impasse, then please agee to disagree and move on. This is not the forum for extended diatribes. There are way too many sites for that on the web. Let’s not clutter up this fine establishment…please. Don’t make me call in our bouncer — Rob Block (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRr4tLs9ri4 )

  34. Marty

    Hmm… that killed a wonderful dicourse between interested parties… what a bummer. I thought we were playing nice and there are still points to discuss… Oh well, a little passive agressive censorship never hurt anyone.
    So much for a safe place to talk about relevant topics.

  35. J

    I’m a Cliks fan and was just introduced to Jason’s music recently, and I knew The Cliks were touring with Cyndi Lauper, so this blog title caught my eye. I wasn’t going to post anything at first because I didn’t want to stir things up even more than they already are, but I decided I might bring something new to the table being a straight person who is a Christian and who also happens to think being gay is perfectly fine even though I’m not. This response is not really directed at Jason or anyone in particular…just some general thoughts. I think it’s wonderful that he is trying to take an approach of compassion and understanding. Not enough do, and I think it is absolutely shameful for a Christian to hold anything but love in their heart toward someone. I like how the one responder said it’s like defecating on everything Jesus stands for when we take an attitude of hate. And by the way, it’s very tough to “win” an argument and make anyone believe you’re “right” when it’s done in anger anyhow. I skip over all the angry stuff because I’m not going to waste my time and energy getting caught up in it. It’s futile to argue with Scripture with people who may not see it as black-and-white because they aren’t going to see it as proof for your argument. When people go around self-righteously quoting verses that they believe are applicable, all it does is irritate people and push them away from God and from believing he exists…it irritates ME, and I’m a Christian. (If not done with a self-righteous attitude, then that’s different.) If I were gay and someone told me they “hate the sin, love the sinner,” I wouldn’t know whether to be angered by that or laugh at them because I wouldn’t see it as a sin in the first place; I would think they probably meant well, but I’d be pushed away by their total lack of understanding. And why does there really have to be an argument to begin with – why can’t we just let people be?

    I have a topic to raise just to provoke some thought…and I hope this comes across in the spirit I intend it. God makes people who are born as hermaphrodites, and it’s no fault of the baby and not something they can help to have parts of both sexes and eventually find out that maybe one hormone overtakes the other – some of them begin life believing they’re one gender and it’s not until they hit puberty or even adulthood that the other gender takes more of an influence. I just finished reading a novel about it (Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, which is a wonderful book), which led me to looking up stuff about intersexuals – the preferred term for hermaphrodites – and transgenders so that I could understand more, and that’s how I came across The Cliks (headed up by a female-to-male transgender) and discovered I really like their music. When you think about the fact that people can be born as intersexuals, it sheds some light on being born gay or transgender, rather than choosing to be, at least in my opinion. I just can’t reconcile myself to believe that someone is bad or wrong for following what their whole self has been telling them to do ever since they can remember, before they even understood what it meant. Most people don’t wake up one day and suddenly decide to be gay or be another gender; I know some people think they want to experiment and such (and I don’t believe in casual sex regardless of orientation, just for the record), but it seems that most people have always leaned toward one way over the other without having to think about it at all. And in fact, most of the time, they spend years hiding it and fearing people will ridicule them, yet it doesn’t “go away.” After reading stories of how transgendered teenagers have been murdered simply for being who they are and seeing how gays are continually persecuted (people think they’re funny on sitcoms but maybe are not so accepting if it is their own child), I just don’t think people would risk spending their life scared or not being accepted if there wasn’t a really good reason. It’s not like it’s an easy thing to be all the time. They do it because it’s just who they are. It’s very difficult not to be accepted, yet they continue on, and I think that takes a tremendous amount of admirable strength. Little boys later known as transgenders may be two and three years old and get frustrated over not being allowed to wear dresses and play with dolls and tell their parents they were born in the wrong body even at that young age and never “grow out of it”…I just don’t think that’s something you can argue could be so-called helped. Most intersexuals don’t even choose to have an operation to be “fixed” later in life because they do not see it as a deformity but just who they are. My main point here is that I don’t believe someone can “help” being gay or transgendered any more than someone can “help” being born an intersexual. I’m not saying all of those things are the same thing; I’m merely making a comparison. It’s true that hermaphrodotism can be physically proved while being gay or transgendered cannot…but I don’t think that makes any of it less real. We should all mentally put ourselves in the shoes of someone going through life against the mainstream and recognize their courage. After all, isn’t that what Christians are – people going against the mainstream?

    I have a friend who’s a musician who happens to be gay. When my boyfriend and I go to her shows, we are often one of the only straight couples there. While there is a sense of realizing you’re in the minority, it isn’t something that makes us feel uncomfortable. We can all joke about it and it’s no big deal. We’re all just PEOPLE, there to enjoy a fantastic concert. I don’t know this for sure, as I have never asked anyone, but I imagine one of the reasons things may get a little bawdy with lots of sexual references at a concert like that is because they are just so freakin’ relieved to be in a place with other people who understand them and they don’t have to hide, so it’s easy to relax and make jokes about something that they normally can’t talk about in the general public. At one concert, one of the other musicians (who I’ve also become a big fan of) pointed us out in the middle of the show and said, “Look at that adorable couple over there in the corner!” and then dryly joked, “You’re not gay, are you.” Everyone, including us, laughed and it was no big deal…we were welcomed graciously by everyone we talked to, and it didn’t matter who was gay or straight…it was kind of a non-issue. I do know people who are gay that seem to have their entire identity wrapped up in being gay, and they talk about it non-stop and constantly make references to it…and sometimes I wish they would stop trying so hard to prove themselves and just relax because it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that they’re gay…but when you go through something personal in your life that the general population hasn’t, it is very easy to let it become your identity and define you to the point where you always bring it up – I know, because my mom passed away at a young age and it has affected me more than anything else, and I am only now (after a few years) getting to the point where I don’t tell everyone I meet that my mom is dead…I couldn’t help it; it explained me, and it is also an attempt to reach out to see if it brings me anyone else who has been through it, because when you find someone else “like you,” it makes the journey a little easier. That’s probably part of why I’m mentioning it now, in fact!

    If I have a child someday that tells me they are gay or transgender, I will do everything in my power to support them and show them unconditional love no matter WHAT and not try to bend them to my own preconceived notions. The worst thing a person could ever do to their child is not accept them for who they are, whatever that entails. I mean, how would it make YOU feel? I would never want my child to feel they had to hide their true self from the world. I want them to be happy and fulfilled and live honestly, without fear or shame for being who they are. I personally struggle with truly liking who I am and really letting people in because I fear they may not like me so much if they really get to know the real me. I think that’s part of the human condition. So I admire any person who is living honestly and without fear. We’re not so different when it all comes down to it – we all crave love and acceptance. People tell their insecure teenage daughters when they don’t think they’re as pretty as the other girls, “Be proud of how God made you. He made you just like you are on purpose.” It’s a double standard not to apply the same statement to everyone else. Christians like to talk about the “love of God” and “God is love” and “God so loved the world”…and there’s nothing wrong with that because he IS love, the truest form there is. But his love is not exclusive, and neither should ours be. And by the way, I don’t think feeling sorry for someone who’s gay because they “just haven’t seen the truth yet” is at all the same thing as showing compassion!

    I was raised hearing that being gay was wrong. Even several years ago when I believed it was wrong just because that’s what I was told, part of me still always struggled over it because I didn’t think it was right to shun or judge anyone and I felt people should be allowed to be who they are. I do think some things in life are black and white; I do not believe that everything is relative. I don’t think people should live it up and just do whatever they want. But I don’t think this is one of those areas. Let people be who they are as you would want people to let YOU be who YOU are. It should not be your personal mission to direct people into being who you think they should be – shift the focus back to yourself and whether or not YOU are living honestly, whatever that means for you, and stop spinning your wheels worrying about what everyone else is doing. It’s easy to think we’re soooo good compared to other people who do things we consider to be worse than what we do – when in reality, all we’re doing is fooling ourselves. People tend to like tidy, neatly-wrapped little boxes and are afraid of what will unfold if they allow their views to bend even slightly. I think people like to fit God into a neat little box as well. I wonder if he sometimes sighs when he watches us get all distressed over petty things that don’t matter. Don’t miss out on some potentially wonderful friendships because you’re afraid. Being gay is not something contagious you can CATCH, for crying out loud. 😉

    Some resources if anyone is interested are…

    – Middlesex, the book by Jeffrey Eugenides
    – The Barbara Walters 20/20 special on transgender children or abcnews.com
    – the made-for-TV movie and true story of Gwen Araujo, a murdered transgender teen

    To any intersexual/transgender/gay person who may be reading this, I’m sorry if I sound ignorant on any of the subjects…I am trying to educate myself and be more aware and do not intend any offense. I would be glad to hear your take on anything I said.

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