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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Pastoral Response: Gay Teenagers in the Heartland
Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
# 310

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The ONLY things I am prepared to preach against in the pulpit are (occasionally) heresy and (appropriately ... ie., in accordance with the lectionary), unloving or unjust attitudes or actions. Personal ministration under either category does not belong in the pulpit.

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
TheOrthodoxPlot™

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ChastMastr
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# 716

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quote:
Originally posted by Ender's Shadow:
There is nothing wrong with a conservative church preaching occaisionally about homosexuality, as it is an issue on which the church's view is in direct contradiction with the view of the world.

This is true. The church's teaching on loving one's enemies, and on the tax collectors and prostitutes entering Heaven before the Pharisees, and on reaching out to those who are outcasts -- all of this would lead to a very different approach than the world's, when so many gay people are being and have been persecuted worldwide, police turning blind eyes to gay-bashing, gay people jailed and even killed, the list goes on and on. So I would welcome sermons which explain that people shouldn't treat us gay folks (or anyone else) as pariahs, but reach out in love and care, perhaps not agreeing with some of the things we do, but not beating us over the head with it either, or treating us as enemies -- though I suppose if we are the latter, then sermons on loving us as one should love one's enemies would be apropos.

Yes, the church's way is so different from that of the world.

[Smile]

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by ChastMastr:
So I would welcome sermons which explain that people shouldn't treat us gay folks (or anyone else) as pariahs, but reach out in love and care, perhaps not agreeing with some of the things we do, but not beating us over the head with it either, or treating us as enemies -- though I suppose if we are the latter, then sermons on loving us as one should love one's enemies would be apropos.

Yes, the church's way is so different from that of the world.


David, I couldn't agree more with this. And IME of British evangelical churches (and maybe this is because we don't have a moral majority type group here) that IS the message I have been challenged with on many occasions. Sadly, I must admit, to my own shame that because of my own insecurities, I am not as good as I should be at putting it into practice. But that is my fault, and certainly not the fault of the churches I have attended.
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Ender's Shadow
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# 2272

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Thank you Chastmast for reading what I ACTUALLY said, not what people thought I said. The church's position is (should be) a subtly nuanced mixture of being clear that certain behaviours are wrong whilst maintaining a clear willingness to be truly loving to all those who struggle with the temptation in that direction. The message that this teenager was probably(!) hearing was total rejection - from both his immediate environment and the 'Christians' he knew, mixed with an unconditional acceptance of gay sex from the liberal media. The sermon SHOULD have hit a different note - though the way that his mother reported the way the pastor approached her, one may well wonder.

I'm wildly impressed by Leprechaun's story - that is indeed what we should see as the church's response to such pain. And I like to believe that a gay person would get that response from me - certainly the few I've had dealings with have not run screaming, despite what the expectations of board members might be! [Eek!]

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Test everything. Hold on to the good.

Please don't refer to me as 'Ender' - the whole point of Ender's Shadow is that he isn't Ender.

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Suze

Ship's Barmaid
# 5639

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quote:
Originally posted by ChastMastr:
Even if you think they're doing wrong, the time for that can come later, but while someone's emotionally bleeding to death is not the time to tell them how wrong they are.
David

[Overused] Exactly. Nothing more to add.

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' You stay here and I'll go look for God, that won't be hard cos I know where he's not, and I will bring him back with me , then he'll listen , then he'll see' Richard Shindell

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The Bede's American Successor

Curmudgeon-in-Training
# 5042

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quote:
Originally posted by Ender's Shadow:
Thank you Chastmast for reading what I ACTUALLY said, not what people thought I said. The church's position is (should be) a subtly nuanced mixture of being clear that certain behaviours are wrong whilst maintaining a clear willingness to be truly loving to all those who struggle with the temptation in that direction....

So, how does "embarrassed" get into the mix of "subtly nuanced mixture" and "maintaining a clear willingness to be truly loving"?

In case you forgot, you said:

quote:
In reality the church should be as embarrassed at the unmarried mother sister as the gay.
While I don't know this, but I suspect you are not embarrassed over one unmarried mother--Mary (correct me if I'm wrong, please). After all, Joseph, as an honorable man, was going to quietly have the engagement broken (put away).

Maybe Joseph gives us a hint of the proper reaction here?
  • He didn't make a scene.
  • He went about doing what was called for in a private manner so that Mary would not be killed (stoned).
  • While doing it, he listened to God's direction to accept the unacceptable.

I don't see "embarrassed" used anywhere in the biblical description of what Joseph did.

Of course, maybe you think Joseph did wrong in the eyes of the law. Mary was pregnant outside of marriage, therefore she should have been stoned to death. The law is so unbending, isn't it?

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This was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride of wealth and food in plenty, comfort and ease, and yet she never helped the poor and the wretched.

—Ezekiel 16.49

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Sarkycow
La belle Dame sans merci
# 1012

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quote:
Laura asks:
How should we pastorally respond to a moral dilemma?

I guess, if someone is hurting enough to consider suicide, then we should respond simply with love. Not with telling them what to do, what not to do, what we think, what is right, etc. Love them. Let them know that they are loved.

In fact, I would suggest that's how we should respond to anyone we come across.

Particularly if you want them to change. People may change out of fear, or to conform, but they are simply modifying their behaviour to be acceptable, to earn the love. If you want to produce true, internal change, then that comes from unconditional love and acceptance.

And you only earn the right to give them your opinions when they know you love them, and when they ask for your opinions.

And I can already hear the question "But if they are sinning, then allowing them to continue in that is not loving."

If they are sinning, then that's between them and God to sort out. Me ppinting the finger, or even simply stating that what they are doing is wrong, isn't going to make them change.

If they know that I love them, really truly know this, and they really truly know that God loves them, then they will see what they are doing wrong, where they are falling short (assuming that they are, and it's not just my opinion that they are). And they will correct their behaviour, secure in the knowledge that they are loved despite it all.

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“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”

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Kyralessa
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# 4568

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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
It's just that there are so many gospel readings in the Lectionary that lend themselves to preaching about homosexuality, such as when our Lord said, um, when He said, ahhh, well....

Come to think of it I guess He never mentioned it, did He?

Holy smokes! He's right! What a mindblowingly original and creative thought Mousethief has had here!


(Note to self: Confirm with priest whether he is allowed to preach on epistles, or only on gospels.)

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In Orthodoxy, a child is considered an icon of the parents' love for each other.

I'm just glad all my other icons don't cry, crap, and spit up this much.

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Kyralessa
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# 4568

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quote:
Originally posted by MadFarmer:
quote:
but they aren't hearing the opposite view anything like as often, at least through the liberal media
[Killing me]

I'm sorry- [Killing me]

did you actually just seriously use the term "liberal media?"

It is rather redundant, isn't it?

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In Orthodoxy, a child is considered an icon of the parents' love for each other.

I'm just glad all my other icons don't cry, crap, and spit up this much.

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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You misspelled "oxymoronic", Kyralessa.

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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John Donne

Renaissance Man
# 220

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quote:
Laura:
What struck me in is is the total failure of the attempted pastoral intervention. It won on several accounts some sort of insensitive outreach award. Relying on gossip, his pastoral response was to take the mother aside and tell her that his upcoming sermon "isn't directed at you", then preaches a humdinger against homosexuality and same sex marriage. This is, it seems to me, missing the boat on so many levels.

...

It just seems that, even within the context of the anti-gay evangelical church that basicf Christian charity would compel a better response than this festering pile of crap.

The only pastoral response that cons-evo churches can offer that is consistent with their theology, yet loving (or at least, not as destructive as other courses of actions [Roll Eyes] ) is to encourage and support gay people to remain celibate while treating them as they would any other congregation member.

Lep's story is very touching. But that can never be the end of the story in a cons-evo church. Because you can not let your brother continue in his sin if you know about it. You are compelled and obliged to say and do something to snatch him from the fire.

So uh, eventually the happy laissez-faire tea parties with the poofs and lesos have to stop, and the business of repentance and conforming of one's lifestyle to Christ's (cons-evo version thereof) has to start.

So after the initial honeymoon period: there are 2 choices for a cons-evo pastoral response: try to change the person's orientation or encourage them to be celibate.

That, necessarily, is it, as far as pastoral responses are concerned. Everything else is inconsistent with Scripture and lacks integrity for those who hold that homosexual acts are a sin.

(Then of course, you must exercise the judgement of the Church and expel your immoral brother/sister if he/she keeps on sinning. I'm surprised they didn't shun his twice divorced mother though)

Salvation and God's Grace just aren't as transformative as we thought they were.

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
# 310

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Dear Coot

You are absolutely spot on of course. However, having a church mark out a formal position is only part of the story. The minister might be gay friendly and the congregation or parts of it not or the other way round and all sorts of other combinations.

I think that it will take a long long time for some Christians and churches to take on board the realities and gifted-ness aspects of human life in all its diversity ... what shall we say .... from a more humane and scientific perspective.

Of course, for those who think that humane and scientific perspectives are more or less incompatible with Christianity, such sentiments are downright heresy and an abomination. Their problem, not mine. I will do my best though to ensure that where I am Christians do not pile suffering upon suffering. Mercifully, I am not currently in a position where I have to do that.

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
TheOrthodoxPlot™

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Tau
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# 614

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quote:
Originally posted by Sarkycow:
Particularly if you want them to change. People may change out of fear, or to conform, but they are simply modifying their behaviour to be acceptable, to earn the love. If you want to produce true, internal change, then that comes from unconditional love and acceptance.

If they know that I love them, really truly know this, and they really truly know that God loves them, then they will see what they are doing wrong, where they are falling short (assuming that they are, and it's not just my opinion that they are). And they will correct their behaviour, secure in the knowledge that they are loved despite it all.

[Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused] [Overused]

Tau

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There is no fear in love.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Coot:
The only pastoral response that cons-evo churches can offer that is consistent with their theology, yet loving (or at least, not as destructive as other courses of actions [Roll Eyes] ) is to encourage and support gay people to remain celibate while treating them as they would any other congregation member.

Lep's story is very touching. But that can never be the end of the story in a cons-evo church. Because you can not let your brother continue in his sin if you know about it. You are compelled and obliged to say and do something to snatch him from the fire.

So uh, eventually the happy laissez-faire tea parties with the poofs and lesos have to stop, and the business of repentance and conforming of one's lifestyle to Christ's (cons-evo version thereof) has to start.

Quite why I suddenly find myself defending evangelicals is beyond me, but here goes.

Coot, this isn't really fair. It is a characterisation of some evangelicals that you are using to whitewash everyone else.

Many, many evangelicals struggle through, like everyone else. Many, many do not expect others to meet some sort of impossible standard of imperfection. Many of us, in short, believe that healing can take a very long time.

There are good reasons to make friends with people who are doing things that you consider to be sinful.

For a start, you only have the right to point out their 'sin' when you are in a loving relationship with them, they are able to listen to you and you are able to listen to them whilst they point out your foibles. Sin is something between individuals and God - if we went around pointing out everyone elses' sin all the time we would just be condemning ourselves.

You are not compelled to say something to snatch them away from the fire, for the very good reason that saying something may push them further away. We all live in hope that Christ has entered into the mess of our lives and is slowly tidying up.

For the record, I believe this to be completely different to expressing something in a sermon. People hear all sorts of painful things in a sermon (in fact, that is partly what it is for - ie challenge) and we should be open to that.

I agree that some people are going OTT about sex. But that is the way of society in general. I'd like to hear more challenges on the sins that affect me - selfishness, gluttony, self-righteousness, indiscipline. I do not want to cut off that just because it says something I don't really want to hear.

C

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arse

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Coot:

So uh, eventually the happy laissez-faire tea parties with the poofs and lesos have to stop, and the business of repentance and conforming of one's lifestyle to Christ's (cons-evo version thereof) has to start.


Well, I'm glad we're not being pejorative. [Disappointed]

I'm not sure if you have ever been to a conservative evangelical church Coot, I assume you must have. But it must have been a very strange one if the coffee time consisted of people wandering round saying "Can I point out this sin in your life? Thanks ever so much."

At my CE church, people are above all loved in whatever state they come to us, and over time the preaching, Bible study and Christain friendship brings people to discuss and bring before God their sin. Whatever it is. In the context of my church family, some good brothers and sisters are more than welcome to do that for me. But they love me all the rest of the time too.

With issues of sexuality (not just same-sex attraction but the whole gamut) we usually find that the person raises the issue with us well before we raise it with them, because being in the Christian community raises the question for them. As Prelseyterian has said, the attitude of the large majority of the church to that issue is hardly a secret.

The love doesn't stop at that point. We don't love them simply till they realise that they are sinful, neither do we hold inquisitions as to what people's sins are.

Repentance, in short, is to do with attitude more than action. My church is a church full of sinners who's attitude to sin is that they have repented of it, but who still do it all the time.

And even those who over time do not see it as something they want to repent of (more often this has to do with being sexually active outside marrige) well they usually make their own way away, sadly from the processes of the church, but I can't think of a single one who was then "discarded" by the members or the leadership of the church, and who we haven't remained friends with.

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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Hmm... I'm not sure that is totally fair either, Lep. I know of many people who have been 'rejected' and/or 'thrown out' of the church for certain sins. And we do not go around pointing things out over coffee. That normally happens in the comfort of your own home.

The most extreme example I personally know of is of someone who was divorced (ie the other partner left) and was seen with a 'new man' in church. That person was kicked out quicker than blinking an eye.

C

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arse

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Cheesy*:
Hmm... I'm not sure that is totally fair either, Lep.

I was merely using the example of how we attempt to work it in my own church.
I wasn't making any claim that evangelicalism is a perfect little world where no one ever messes it up.
Neither was I claiming that we have it all sorted.

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
# 310

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Dear Lep

For all the welcome aspects of your post (I suppose to do with abjuring personal intrusiveness) this cannot be right ....

quote:
Repentance, in short, is to do with attitude more than action. My church is a church full of sinners who's attitude to sin is that they have repented of it, but who still do it all the time.
.... for the following reasons ....

(1) "Well, we do understand that you are an active gay person but what is really important is not what you do but what you are doing to fight those sinful inclinations of yours."

This is a fast track to mental breakdown in my opinion. Sin>guilt>repent>sin>guilt>repent etc. etc.

(2) Most churches that teach against homosexuality do not condemn homosexual orientation but rather homosexual acts. "Repent is attitude rather than acts" is a curious violation of that principle.

Sexual orientations come pre-packaged with feelings and desires. The assumption here seems to be that if these can be conquered then the actions will (eventually) take care of themselves.

Needless to say (I hope!) all the evidence points to the impossibility of replacing same sex desires with other sex desires. Those who choose to be celibate (gay or straight) do not become sexless or sex-indifferent.

[ 29. September 2004, 09:46: Message edited by: Father Gregory ]

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
TheOrthodoxPlot™

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:


(1) "Well, we do understand that you are an active gay person but what is really important is not what you do but what you are doing to fight those sinful inclinations of yours."

This is a fast track to mental breakdown in my opinion. Sin>guilt>repent>sin>guilt>repent etc. etc.

Rephrase this sin, repent, find grace, sin, repent, find grace I think you have the pattern for the Christian life described say in 1 John 2 or Romans 7 and 8.

You see, in the Christian life what we do is a reflection of our attitudes. Thus while we won't say to anyone - you are too sinful to join our church - we do want them to profess repentance - that is to say that they renounce sin. (If they really have or not, is of course between God and them) However, over time, if this issues in no change to patterns of behaviour, then there is a valid question about repentance is there not?

quote:

(2) Most churches that teach against homosexuality do not condemn homosexual orientation but rather homosexual acts. "Repent is attitude rather than acts" is a curious violation of that principle.

Hmmm. Not really. All its saying is "What is your attitude to your sinful acts?" Is it one of repentance, mind change, renunciation? As I said, over time that will lead to behavioural change, but I don't believe Christ was demanding perfection when he commanded repentance. Do you?

quote:

Needless to say (I hope!) all the evidence points to the impossibility of replacing same sex desires with other sex desires. Those who choose to be celibate (gay or straight) do not become sexless or sex-indifferent.

I do not know how this came out of my post. I made no suggestion of "replacing" desires. Merely that our ATTITUDE to desires we know are sinful is to be one of repentance.

[Edited for UBB typo - dur!]

[ 29. September 2004, 09:57: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
# 310

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I don't buy it Lep. Your characterisation of repentance has given confession a bad name in the western tradition. Making repentance an attitudinal thing so exclusively makes a big assumption ... that ALL sinful actions are (albeit eventually) susceptible of reform by interior change. That might be true for "kicking the cat" but not for "healing homosexuals."

Coot is right. No matter how tolerant a tradition is in practice, if the formal teaching is in place and the church leadership expects it to be applied (directly or indirectly, actively or passively communicated) then a gay person has either to face up and face down with a robust conscience or get out if he or she wishes to avoid deception and closetry. Of course the church could opt for deception and closetry ... at once adhere to the formal teaching and ignore it in practice.

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
TheOrthodoxPlot™

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:
big assumption ... that ALL sinful actions are (albeit eventually) susceptible of reform by interior change.

Yes. This is what I believe. Even about so-called "big sins", which I assume was the point of your comparison with kicking the cat.

quote:

Coot is right. No matter how tolerant a tradition is in practice, if the formal teaching is in place and the church leadership expects it to be applied (directly or indirectly, actively or passively communicated) then a gay person has either to face up and face down with a robust conscience or get out if he or she wishes to avoid deception and closetry.

If you really bleieve that the church cannot teach a standard of moral behaviour without forcing people out, then I do not know either:
1) what you say in your sermons
or 2) how there are any sinners in your church.

I'm also not sure what "face up and face down means."

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
# 310

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It may be what you believe Lep but with specific reference to homosexuality (and other entrenched aspects of sections of humanity) you are wrong.

Consider the leopard with his spots. God does not carry a paint brush neither can the leopard wish those spots away by "right thinking", prayer or anything else.

I do not accept at all the healing of gay people toward straight. The evidence does not support this at all. Untold misery and death indeed have been caused by this.

What IS possible is that a person might voluntarily choose celibacy. But, this is a choice given and received only by some and it is entirely their own contract with themselves and God according to his grace and their desires. It is not something that can or should be visited upon anyone by any external, 3rd party, pressure. In this the single straight and gay person are in exactly the same position (even without gay marriage). I will never say to someone, gay or straight ... you must choose chastity because you are not married. I don't want to have someone's else's life on my hands at the day of Judgement; nor do I want to be guilty of hypocrisy. Did you read of that lady at Greenbelt who at 41 was an unmarried virgin and doubting her "sacrifice." That's sad.

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
TheOrthodoxPlot™

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
# 310

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As to your last point .... I don't believe that we should saddle people with burdens they cannot bear. I don't want anyone to forsake the Church on account of something they cannot change.

I have deliberately moved as close as I can to you to maintain the dialogue here Lep. I actually think that Christianity has got it wrong about homosexuality. I maintain my integrity as a priest in a Church (like yours) whose formal teaching is that homosexual acts are wrong by not prying into peoples' lives, exercising pastoral sensitivity and not judging or putting anybody off. I have a good working definition of sin: "Anything that is opposed to the love we see in the person and work of Jesus Christ." That is what I preach. That is what I try to live out in my own life and ministry.

PS ... "face up and face down" means stay and be what you are with a good conscience. That takes a lot of guts if the atmosphere is, at times, uncomfortable.

[ 29. September 2004, 10:48: Message edited by: Father Gregory ]

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:


I do not accept at all the healing of gay people toward straight. The evidence does not support this at all. Untold misery and death indeed have been caused by this.

Right, this discussion is well off base now. And the thought of leopards praying is just too weird. I reiterate again, I am not advocating the "healing" of gay towards straight. I am advocating the power of God to help anyone live within his guidelines for holy conduct. No matter what sin we are talking about.


quote:

Did you read of that lady at Greenbelt who at 41 was an unmarried virgin and doubting her "sacrifice." That's sad.

What is sad is that she had been taught that celibacy is some pathetic woe is me sacrificial way of living. But this is off topic, and going to get rantish.

I've attempted to outline what I think a pastoral response would be in the situation Laura described. Unsurprisingly there are those here that think the only pastoral response is to validate the person's desires.

Until I have something on topic to say I will back out of this discussion.

[ 29. September 2004, 10:47: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
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Dear Lep

quote:
I am advocating the power of God to help anyone live within his guidelines for holy conduct. No matter what sin we are talking about.
I am always trying to find common ground. That, I can certainly agree with. It's just how it works out in practice that divides us.

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
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Scholar Gypsy
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quote:
If they are sinning, then that's between them and God to sort out. Me ppinting the finger, or even simply stating that what they are doing is wrong, isn't going to make them change.
I think Sarkycow has a good point here. However much you think you should 'snatch your brother/sister from the fire', you should do in the most effective way possible, and telling a suicidal gay person that what they are doing/feeling is wrong really isn't it.

A non-homosexual example here

Several of your 'friends' (church friends, acquaintances from a CU, whatever) think you're having sex with your bf, which they think is...unadvisable to say the least. They have a 'quiet word' to you 'in love', based on this assumption.
Result: You pay absolutely no attention to them, get upset that they've made that assumption (whether it's true or not) and storm off grumbling about busybodies.

You also have good, close friends whom you trust and you know won't 'judge' you. You choose to have a conversation with them about whether sex before marriage is a Good Thing or not.
Result: you discuss the issues and are more likely to be persuaded towards their point of view (or, if you weren't actually having sex in the first place, you have a good chance to discuss boundaries or whatever with them).

EBx

Just to be clear, I am not at all suggesting becoming friends with someone so you can then proceed to discuss their faults with them. Rather like you shouldn't become friends with people so they can become your conversion project.

[ 29. September 2004, 11:05: Message edited by: evangelical_backslider ]

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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
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The very idea that someone could be trying to make friends with me and all the time they are really scalp hunters! [Mad] [Projectile] [Mad]

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Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
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Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
# 5647

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quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:
I actually think that Christianity has got it wrong about homosexuality. I maintain my integrity as a priest in a Church (like yours) whose formal teaching is that homosexual acts are wrong by not prying into peoples' lives, exercising pastoral sensitivity and not judging or putting anybody off.

I've been reading this discussion with great interest as it relates rather closely to some research I did for a course a couple of years ago. Although my research didn't deal specifically with pastoral responses, it did address the question of how people in the counselling profession whose own religious background is conservative Christian (and who are likely to believe or at least have been taught that homosexual sex is a sin) can best relate to gay and lesbian clients. The broad category of "conservative Christian counsellors" would probably include pastors in their counselling role, although the people I interviewed were all professional counsellors working in conservative Christian institutions (mostly colleges).

Their response reminded me of yours, Fr. Gregory, in that they all said, "It's not my role to judge my clients' life choices; I offer support and guidance, but I do not assume that their moral decisions should necessarily line up with my personal moral code, and thus I don't judge them." While some might see that the pastor's role differs from the counsellor's in that the pastor is sometimes called to "judge," i.e. to point out sin, I suspect there are many pastors whose approach is similar to yours and to that of the counsellors I interviewed: "I love and support and accept; I don't set myself up as judge."

What I found interesting, though, in my research was that the reading I was doing about counselling gay and lesbian clients was saying something very different from what the Christian counsellors were saying. The clients were saying, "We don't want a 'nonjudgemental' counsellor; we don't want a null environment, we want an affirming environment, a counsellor who will affirm our choices and even advocate for us." In other words it seemed they did not want to hear the message "I don't judge whether your relationship is right or wrong, but I accept and affirm you as a person and leave you to make your own decisions." They wanted to hear, "You are a gay (or lesbian) person and you should embrace your identity and pursue positive loving gay relationships."

I suspect this is the dilemma for the church as well. It may not be enough for a church to be open and nonjudgemental--a "null environment" -- gay and lesbian Christians may be looking for a church that affirms and openly celebrates their sexuality and their relationships. And that poses a problem for those churches whose theology will never allow them to go that far. There are times when simply "not judging" is not enough.

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Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

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Arabella Purity Winterbottom

Trumpeting hope
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Trudy is absolutely correct. After all, our straight brothers and sisters have their relationships celebrated and affirmed. They have all sorts of church possibilities for singles, which are often places to meet prospective partners.

I used to belong to a church that describes itself as gay-friendly. When my partner and I decided we wanted to celebrate our relationship, we couldn't believe the barriers that were thrown up. We couldn't announce it in the paper, we weren't to call it a marriage, and we couldn't include it in the parish register, just for starters.

So, in a supposedly supportive church, there was still that condemnation that said, "You are less than the rest of us." As long time elders within the congregation, who had supported lots of people through engagement and marriage, we were both on the edge of leaving.

The minister however, came up with a lovely suggestion and we celebrated our commitment to each other in a Sunday morning service as part of a series he was doing on pastoral themes - the theme for that day was love. The congregation gained four new (heterosexual) families that day, who had come along and were so impressed that they signed up on the spot. And what was really fabulous was that we had asked some of our families and friends to be our supporters, but when the minister asked for those who were our supporters to come forward, almost the entire congregation came forward - the photographs are quite amazing, because you can hardly see us.

There isn't really any such thing as a null environment in a church setting.

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Hell is full of the talented and Heaven is full of the energetic. St Jane Frances de Chantal

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Presleyterian
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Sounds like a lovely ceremony, Arabella.

Coot's reference to repentance compels me to bring out that good ol' reliable one-size-fits-all hypocrisy detector: a church's approach to divorce vs. homosexuality.

The evocongos with which I'm familiar are pretty clear on how a gay person "repents" from the sin of homosexuality: lifelong celibacy.

And yet when faced with people who divorced for reasons other than a spouse's adultery and then remarried, many of those same evocongos suggest that the appropriate measure of "repentance" is an admission of wrongdoing -- followed by a long and happy life with Spouse #2. Never once have I heard a pastor suggest that the "fix" for the purported sexual sin of a straight person is lifelong celibacy.

No, I'm not saying that the Church should be equally inflexible when it comes to homosexuality and divorce. I'm just suggesting that if a church exhibits a different pastoral response to the two situations, it's probably a good sign that one should count the silver after the cheese course.

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Ender's Shadow
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I've heard the pope quoted as saying that a good Catholic remarried divorcee (i.e. without an annullment) should live as 'brother and sister'....

So in thoery Rome does do what you expect; but I admit to not having come across it amongst evangelicals.

The thing that is interesting me in this is the issue of where conviction of sin and repentance comes from. It's my reading of John's gospel that this is the role of the Holy Spirit, and we should be channels by which the message of repentance is articulated. If the 'conviction of sin' over whatever issue is truly of God, by the work of the Holy Spirit, then things will fall into place. Otherwise it is unhealthy for the church to impose informal pressure (though there MAY be a case for formal discipline). But in the absence of that discipline, we should be wholly accepting, much of the problem comes from our unwillingness to leave God's work to God.....

As a side line, I should point out that in the original article the 'ex-gay' minister claimed that his orientation had completely altered - thus he is a counter-example to the general pattern shown by 'ex-gay' ministries.

--------------------
Test everything. Hold on to the good.

Please don't refer to me as 'Ender' - the whole point of Ender's Shadow is that he isn't Ender.

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Presleyterian
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quote:
Ender's Shadow wrote: But in the absence of that discipline, we should be wholly accepting, much of the problem comes from our unwillingness to leave God's work to God.....

I agree with you, Ender's Shadow. But being the 3¾-point Calvinist that I am, I would, now wouldn't I? [Biased] We seem eager to take over as His Deputy Assistant Undersecretary for Judging & Smiting, but as for the feed-my-lambs stuff? Not so much.
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Father Gregory

Orthodoxy
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Dear TrudyTrudy and Arabella

Of course I understands the distinction and indeed I recognise that I cannot go as far as many would want. (I do not accept the characterisation of the Orthodox Church as "conservative" though. Although I know it was contested, remember where Boswell got his information from).

A straight choice faces those in churches that do not teach the exact equivalence of hetero and homosexual relationships ... to stay and maximise opportunities for care and support ... or leave and remove those opportunities and encounters. I have good reasons ... many of them! ... to remain Orthodox. I cannot envision ever being anything else. Such belonging though is not always easy ... nor should it be. Perfect situations do not exist in any church. My idea of perfect is a fantasy of course and a dangerous one. Many gay people who are Orthodox couldn't imagine being anything else either. I know this from personal experience.

--------------------
Yours in Christ
Fr. Gregory
Find Your Way Around the Plot
TheOrthodoxPlot™

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Alogon
Cabin boy emeritus
# 5513

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Just two points come to mind that I haven't seen others make eloquently already.

First: As often happens, the recommended evangelical approach evinces too much individualism. It is probably reasonable to expect a gay person, like anyone else, to repent and abstain from relatively anonmyous and promiscuous one-night stands. But once one has found a "significant other" and is in a mutually loving continuing relationship, the only way he or she can sincerely repent of homosexuality is to abandon and shun that other person forthwith. No way can I see this in general as a Christian response to one's own new-found "virtue". Pardon me if someone else has already made this objection, I missed it.

Meanwhile we're told that it's okay to have wings but we should never even try to fly.

Secondly, I do think that apparent or self-described gay teenagers (well, "straight" ones too for that matter, in all fairness) should be encouraged to keep their options open and not label themselves too soon. And neither should we label them. Many boys go through a homosexual phase even into their early twenties, but then
settle down into a fulfilled heterosexuality.

I would always celebrate and support a relationship with either sex that a young person finds meaningful. That this happen is far more important than the question whether it is with a male or a female. At the same time, the opposite sex is half of the human population and this is an important period for one to learn what they're like and how to live with them.

They should pray not for "change," but for self-understanding and discernment.

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Patriarchy (n.): A belief in original sin unaccompanied by a belief in God.

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Arabella Purity Winterbottom

Trumpeting hope
# 3434

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Good points Alogon. And I agree about labelling yourself too early, but on the other hand, don't spend a whole lot of time going out with girls if you're scared of your interest in boys! And that is a deliberately ambiguous statement.

Gregory, I would put the value of a sympathetic minister/priest very high, even if the congregation isn't friendly. One of the friends I mentioned in an earlier post, was blessed by having an entirely encouraging and supportive minister - in an extremely anti-gay Baptist parish. So while there were exorcisms going on to get rid of the demon of homosexuality, the minister wasn't party to them and tried to stop it happening.

My point was simply to say that even in very "welcoming" parishes you still get that negative feedback - so churches aren't null spaces. I know I have always valued the supportive and encouraging people I have met within the church.

And it may be heresy to suggest it, but homosexuality isn't the entirety of church doctrine, nor is it really that important in trying to bring about the reign of God. Most of the work I have done in the wider church has been with people who come from less lesbian and gay friendly churches. That doesn't mean I couldn't or shouldn't work with them.

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Hell is full of the talented and Heaven is full of the energetic. St Jane Frances de Chantal

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Alogon
Cabin boy emeritus
# 5513

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quote:
Originally posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom:
I would put the value of a sympathetic minister/priest very high, even if the congregation isn't friendly. One of the friends I mentioned in an earlier post, was blessed by having an entirely encouraging and supportive minister - in an extremely anti-gay Baptist parish.

So would I. One must bear with the fact that even a perfectly gay-friendly congregation (if one exists) is somewhat constrained by the policies and attitudes of its denomination. I know at least one Episcopal priest, and supposedly his parish, who would have no problem themselves in solemnizing a gay marriage, but there is no rite in the prayer book for it; and even more troublesome, whether to do so is such a controversial issue in the larger church that he would probably need to demur.

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Patriarchy (n.): A belief in original sin unaccompanied by a belief in God.

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Weed
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quote:
Originally posted by Ender's Shadow:
I've heard the pope quoted as saying that a good Catholic remarried divorcee (i.e. without an annullment) should live as 'brother and sister'....

So in thoery Rome does do what you expect; but I admit to not having come across it amongst evangelicals.

On the contrary, the lifelong nature of marriage and the moral prohibition on remarriage after divorce used to be very commonly held to in evangelical circles. The book Jesus and Divorce, Towards an Evangelical Understanding of New Testament Teaching by William A Heth & Gordon J Wenham comes to the conclusion that (p198)

quote:
It seems unlikely to us that Jesus 'permitted' divorce for a particular sexual sin via the exception clauses, for this would conflict with His absolute prohibition of divorce in Matthew 19:4-8 and the loyal covenant love exhibited by Hosea for unfaithful Gomer...And should the hard-heartedness of one of the partners result in an unfortunate divorce, lack of forgiveness and a refusal to be reconciled, Jesus requires His disciple to remain single.
Their solution is pastoral support too, and reminding people that

quote:
Life can go on apart from marriage; and those whose marriages have been broken must remember their citizenship in God's kingdom.
Having gone through that and received pastoral and unconditional family support I can tell you that I don't think it has made me a better Christian. Having had a high Christian view of becoming one flesh it took me over seven years after my divorce to feel a whole person again and not the butchered and bloody remains of that one flesh. It broke me emotionally and mentally to have failed to keep my marriage together and live up to what I believed Christ demanded of me. As a touchy-feely, huggy person the absence of physical touch (and I'm not talking about sex here) made me feel ill for years.

I live with it and have done for a long time now but after all this time I am really not convinced that it has advanced the Kingdom of God one iota. My experience is what I think of every time someone suggests that we should tell homosexuals to live without sex, without hugs and cuddles, without that deep bond to another person, for the whole of their lives. No doubt it can be done but the effort may so cripple them that they have nothing else to offer God or their fellow human beings.

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Weed

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Zwingli
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# 4438

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quote:
Originally posted by Presleyterian:
Sounds like a lovely ceremony, Arabella.

Coot's reference to repentance compels me to bring out that good ol' reliable one-size-fits-all hypocrisy detector: a church's approach to divorce vs. homosexuality.

The evocongos with which I'm familiar are pretty clear on how a gay person "repents" from the sin of homosexuality: lifelong celibacy.

And yet when faced with people who divorced for reasons other than a spouse's adultery and then remarried, many of those same evocongos suggest that the appropriate measure of "repentance" is an admission of wrongdoing -- followed by a long and happy life with Spouse #2. Never once have I heard a pastor suggest that the "fix" for the purported sexual sin of a straight person is lifelong celibacy.

No, I'm not saying that the Church should be equally inflexible when it comes to homosexuality and divorce. I'm just suggesting that if a church exhibits a different pastoral response to the two situations, it's probably a good sign that one should count the silver after the cheese course.

I would say, wihout hesitation, that the modern Protestant church is wrong here, and I would affirm lifelong celibacy. We are not all hypocrites. Mind you even my fundy friends and relations think I am a bit extreme. [Frown]

BTW what is the 3/4 of your 3 3/4 point Calvinism?

Dear Leprechaun,

I agree almost entirely with what you have said. It is a shame if you think you need to back out of the discussion. You responded well and calmly to posts which would only have made me angry.

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Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
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quote:
Originally posted by Weed:
quote:
Originally posted by Ender's Shadow:
I've heard the pope quoted as saying that a good Catholic remarried divorcee (i.e. without an annullment) should live as 'brother and sister'....

So in thoery Rome does do what you expect; but I admit to not having come across it amongst evangelicals.

On the contrary, the lifelong nature of marriage and the moral prohibition on remarriage after divorce used to be very commonly held to in evangelical circles.
Used to be? Still is. You just need to know where to look.

About ten years ago, a whole raft of people left our church when they found out that the (last but two) pastor was remarried after a messy (wife left for another guy) divorce and had written a book on why remarriage was OK.

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Narcissism.

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Paul Careau
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# 2904

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I doubt that conservative churches are able to cater for the needs of gay/lesbian teens. I have heard numerous stories of depression, self-harming, suicide attempts and successful suicides of teenagers and youngsters who have had to confront this issue in a conservative church. The only solution I can see is for the youngster concerned to the leave such a church. The trouble is that a large number of Conservative Evangelicals DO suffer from serious homophobia and are in no way able to relate in any meaningful sense to gay people.

In point of fact, a group calling themselves “Christian Voice” are apparently planning an “anti-gay” march in Bournemouth in a couple of weeks for what they are calling “Harry Hammond Day”. The details are in their July newsletter…

http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/index.htm

A number of things concern me about this group:

1) Their version/story of what happened to Harry Hammond is grossly misleading and contains certain details that are in fact completely untrue. For example, they claim that he was “beaten up” by a mob of gay people – something that is a total fabrication on their part. If they express this view to people in Bournemouth who are more familiar with the facts, or even perhaps with gay people who witnessed what happened first hand – what impression will they create? That Christians hate gays so much that they are willing to fabricate false stories about them for propaganda purposes?

2) I understand they intend to carry posters that will display certain well known verses from Leviticus about “abomination”.

It seems to me that this group are deliberately setting out to provoke confrontation and stir up hatred. They have given their supporters an inflammatory and exaggerated story about what happened to Hammond & they are encouraging them to carry an inflammatory and provocative message onto the streets of Bournemouth.

I really can’t see what Christian Voice could possibly hope to achieve with this other than to provoke anger, division, alienation and deep mistrust.

The reputation that Conservative Evangelicals have as hateful, unfeeling bigots is very strongly reinforced by the actions taken by groups such as these. Under such circumstances and as things stand at the present there is absolutely no way that these people can reach out in any meaningful way to gay people in general, let alone vulnerable gay teens.

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Bye for now. Paul.

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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Paul Careau,

Your last post is the argumental equivalent of saying:

"Homosexuals are inherently anti-church because Peter Tatchell protested by climbing into the pulpit with the Archbishop of Canterbury"

No one doubts that conservative churches often don't offer adequate pastoral responses to homsexuals, the question we are discussing is can they.

Your post about this Christian Voice group adds nothing to that discussion.

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Newman's Own
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quote:
Originally posted by Father Gregory:
The ONLY things I am prepared to preach against in the pulpit are (occasionally) heresy and (appropriately ... ie., in accordance with the lectionary), unloving or unjust attitudes or actions. Personal ministration under either category does not belong in the pulpit.

This has been a most absorbing thread. Josephine, Jajehu, and Father Gregory's posts have been especially thought-provoking.

I have highlighted the particular quotation above because Father Gregory has touched on a very critical matter in pastoral response. It is unfortunate, in my experience, that some churches (small 'c') seem to have no real personal ministration in place. The minister's approach here is far from pastoral - it seems more a matter of "I am going to be sure I bring up a topic that is currently hot" (though why, from what I have read elsewhere, obsessions with homosexuality and abortion seem to be so prevalent in the States that one would wonder if there is ever a sermon on some trivial matter such as the Trinity or Incarnation).."and hope you are not offended if it seems your son is the example."

Of course, one is fortunate to find solid, individual direction anywhere, but, where the Orthodox/Catholic (latter inclusive - not just Roman) traditions stress individual pastoral care, some of the more evangelical/reformed churches focus so on preaching that it seems that the 'call to holiness' must inevitably mean a sermon. Not that sermons are not valuable, of course, but they can become far too general (and therefore seem condemnatory) or, as I sense in this case, at least partly political platforms.

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Cheers,
Elizabeth
“History as Revelation is seldom very revealing, and histories of holiness are full of holes.” - Dermot Quinn

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Careau:
In point of fact, a group calling themselves “Christian Voice”

Oh come on! You can't blame evangelicals in general for these loons.

Not British ones, anyway. The first article on their website is a speech by John Ashcroft of all people - someone who I would think is politically well to the right of every single one of the 150-odd members of the church I'm at.

They go on about the importance of having only male succession for the monarchy - not only don't I think I know anyone who agrees with that, I'm pretty sure I don't I know anyone who thinks it important enough to bother to have an opinion on it.

They have an article about how Foot & Mouth disease is God's judgement on the evil British government.

They rail against child protection policies in churches, which they think are a government plot to lock up Christian parents.

If you can knock evangelicals in general because of these tinfoil-hat-wearers, then read what they think about the Kerry campaign:

quote:

John Edwards,chosen by Democrat Presidential contender John Kerry to be his vice-presidential running mate,attended the Bilderberger conference last month,as did Ralph Reed,past Vice-President of the Christian Coalition.One interesting name from the 9-strong 2004 Great Britain Bilderberg contingent is that of Ben Verwaayen.Verwaayen is now CEO of British Telecom,but before that he was a director of Lucent Technologies,a spin-off from the American telecommunications giant AT&T. Some have drawn attention to the similarity between the name ‘Lucent ’and the name ‘Lucifer ’, and suggested that Luc-ent means ‘Lucifer Enterprises ’.Unarguably,the logo of Lucent Technologies is a flaming red circle with a slight gap in it,rather reminiscent of the occultish serpent swallowing its tail and also of the enso,or sumi circle,beloved of Buddhists.(Cricket followers will have noticed that Vodaphone have a similar logo.) The latest Lucent computer operating system is mysteriously called ‘Inferno ’.British Telecom are customers of Lucent Technologies,which itself has been involved in developing the ‘Mondex ’smart card electronic money transfer system.(Mondex is short for ‘Mondus [world ]Exchange ’.)



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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Paul Careau
Shipmate
# 2904

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All well and good Ken BUT when idiots like that take to the streets in Bournemouth with their "Homosexuality is an Abomination" posters they inevitably send a message out to gay people as well as the general public that gives an impression of what conservative evangelism is all about. The same can be said of the activities of organisation such as the Christian Institute.

It is the impression they create that is the problem, regardless of how representative or otherwise they might be. The only way to avoid it is to find a way to overtly demonstrate clearly that their actions are absolutely condemned by mainstream Conservative Evangelicals.

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Bye for now. Paul.

Posts: 92 | From: London | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Isthmus
Ship's Super Flumina
# 8171

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Originally posted by Weed:

quote:


My experience is what I think of every time someone suggests that we should tell homosexuals to live without sex, without hugs and cuddles, without that deep bond to another person, for the whole of their lives. No doubt it can be done but the effort may so cripple them that they have nothing else to offer God or their fellow human beings.

This has got to be one of the best empirical arguments I've read on this thread so far. Thank you for sharing your experience, Weed.

Isthmus

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Heresy is back in style!

Posts: 187 | From: Proudly sporting a vehicle without a "W" sticker in Houston | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fish Fish
Shipmate
# 5448

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quote:
Originally posted by Weed:
My experience is what I think of every time someone suggests that we should tell homosexuals to live without sex, without hugs and cuddles, without that deep bond to another person, for the whole of their lives. No doubt it can be done but the effort may so cripple them that they have nothing else to offer God or their fellow human beings.

Does any conservative evangelical suggest that anyone should live without hugs or cuddles? Or say that a deep bond (friendship) with another person is sinful? I've never heard such a suggestion. Close friendships are a God given gift - and commended in the Bible. To say such friendships were wrong would be cruel. We need intimacy and relationships. To deny people this would no doubt "cripple them that they have nothing else to offer God or their fellow human beings."

However, is the same true about sex? I think its one of the lies of our culture that says abstaining from sex is destructive and leads to mental or physical problems, or indeed that "the effort may so cripple them that they have nothing else to offer God or their fellow human beings."

(I know this isn't strictly in the topic - but I thought it a fair response to what Isthmus says above!)

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Thought about changing my name - but it would be a shame to lose all the credibility and good will I have on the Ship...

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iGeek.*

Resident alien
# 3207

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quote:
Originally posted by Alogon:
...Meanwhile we're told that it's okay to have wings but we should never even try to fly.

like the residents of Bendo in "Pottage" by Zenna Henderson. The problem isn't with the person and his/her gifts and differences -- it's with the surrounding social context that can't deal with it.

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.sig on holiday

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Adeodatus
Shipmate
# 4992

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Posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Does any conservative evangelical suggest that anyone should live without hugs or cuddles? <snip> I've never heard such a suggestion.
I have, I'm afraid - often. Sorry, but I have.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

Posts: 9779 | From: Manchester | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged
Fish Fish
Shipmate
# 5448

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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
Posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Does any conservative evangelical suggest that anyone should live without hugs or cuddles? <snip> I've never heard such a suggestion.
I have, I'm afraid - often. Sorry, but I have.
Blimey. I can't believe anyone would think that. I must be going liberal. [Eek!]

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Thought about changing my name - but it would be a shame to lose all the credibility and good will I have on the Ship...

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Paul Careau:
The only way to avoid it is to find a way to overtly demonstrate clearly that their actions are absolutely condemned by mainstream Conservative Evangelicals.

Weasel words. Just like those people saying all Muslims are murderers unless someone speaks clearly against murder - when we all know that they are never going to listen to any Muslims whatever they say.

From now on shall I refuse to listen to what any Roman Catholic says on any political issue until I have heard a clear denunciation of Franco, Opus Dei, child abuse, and the rack?

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged



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