Archive for the ‘homosexuality’ Category

>Science and Sexuality

December 22, 2008

>I have a few thoughts about sexuality and science. A person who comments on this blog keeps trying to say that there is no scientific evidence that homosexuality is anything but a choice.

Let’s start with some visual evidence:

Here are Roy and Silo, the most famous gay penguins.

Homosexuality is well documented in penguins and other animals.

Do oysters make a choice?

While not saying that an oyster is gay, they do change gender once or more times during their lifetime. (And, as an aside, as the article asks, how hungry did someone have to be to eat the first oyster?)

Back to the subject. The oysters aren’t gay, but they are an example of the sexual diversity that exists among the animal kingdom.

Reproductive diversity in the animal kingdom is present in seahorses as well. Again while not addressing sexuality, the fact that the male gives birth reminds us that among animals, fish in this case, things are not so simple. Watch the male having babies.

Let’s see. Same sex behaviour is observed in over 1500 animal species. I won’t post a video of every species, but this video contains images from a documentary, “Out In Nature: Homosexual Behaviour in the Animal Kingdom”.

Now lets move to human research. Here is the first sentence and the last sentence of an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, by Dick Swaab (PNAS July 29, 2008 vol. 105 no. 30 10273-10274).

Current evidence indicates that sexual differentiation of the human brain occurs during fetal and neonatal development and programs our gender identity—our feeling of being male or female and our sexual orientation as hetero-, homo-, or bisexual.

Neurobiological research related to sexual orientation in humans is only just gathering momentum, but the evidence already shows that humans have a vast array of brain differences, not only in relation to gender, but also in relation to sexual orientation.

This is but one paper from recent research that explores human sexuality from a scientific standpoint. The paper (as most scientific papers do) asserts that more research is needed, and of course, this is happening.

I only wanted to give an example showing there is evidence, contrary to what the commenter said, that sexual orientation is not a choice.

Non-human animals don’t really have the option of choosing. Or do they? If you say yes, then that gives them a quality that once was reserved for humans. It makes us just a little more close to the rest of the animal kingdom than some Christian conservatives would like. But if they don’t have a choice, then it must be science that is making them behave in the ways they do.

I could go on and on about science, but that is enough for now.

Research is in our favor. Science is in our favor.

Homosexuality and the Bible, and More Lipscomb Troubles

July 3, 2007

In Lipscomb another city official is in trouble. This time it’s the fire chief, but the Jefferson County Sherrif’s Deputy who was quoted in the Birmingham News said he did not know what the warrant was for. Seems like that would be easy enough for the guy to find out, if he was being interviewed, but that is not the story. The story is a city with a complete lack of leadership, in every major department. The mayor, the “police commissioner,” the fire chief. I hear that the sheriff’s department has been itching to get in there and clean things up.

Driving through Lipscomb on Avenue K you see a couple of new signs erected. I don’t often give free pubicity to attorneys, but here is the sign. You can read about the blasting and damage in the first few issues of the Western Tribune in May.


How about a sign that says:

Incompetence Damage

If you are damaged from lack of leadership in this area, please call…

Homosexuality and the Bible

Well here goes. I already know that certain individuals will say I am “spinning” the Bible verses to suit me, but no, what I have done is research. Some of you have heard this before, so sorry for the repeat.

I will start with the story of Sodom. The sin of Sodom was not homosexuality; it was their behavior and callous indifference toward the weak and vulnerable. Read Ezekiel 16: 49-50 (Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.), and all the other verses in the Bible that discuss Sodom and you will see that not one of them mentions homosexuality. In Ezekiel the abominable things are listed, and they are pride, attitude and refusal to help the needy. Sure, irresponsible sex is one of the elements of the story, but I hardly think God would have approved what the men of Sodom were doing if the angels had been female, so it is not just a homosexual thing. This story does not condemn homosexuality as an orientation, nor does it condemn or even speak of committed loving same sex relationships.

To follow up on Sodom, read Jude 7 ( Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire). Many assume that “going after strange flesh” must mean homosexuality, because it seems unnatural to them. But in that time, according to Genesis 6, “Sons of God” (angels) took the daughters of humans as wives. Most people think this is what sealed Sodom’s fate. Jude was talking about “heterosexual sex” between human women and male angels (pretending to be humans), or strange flesh, not sex between two men.

Everyone has heard the verses in Leviticus that are used to condemn homosexuals, but let me put them in context. Leviticus 18:22 (Thou shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination) and 20:13 (If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them) should be understood after considering what was going on at the time. Three different times we are told that these and other rules in those chapters are meant to prevent the Israelites from doing what the Egyptians and Canaanites did, in this case, homosexual temple prostitution. Many sexual practices, along with other things, are mentioned in these chapters, and these are practices that were going on in the other cultures as parts of fertility rituals and a desire for immortality (semen was thought to be the essence of life, and depositing semen into the body of one of the priests was believed to gain the favor of the goddess of love and fertility, Ishtar or Astarte, to guarantee immortality.) This is not a condemnation of homosexuality in general, or of loving same sex relationships, this is a condemnation of practicing temple prostitution to seek the favor of a false god.

Even more commonly used as a condemnation of homosexuality are Paul’s writings in Romans 1:21-28 (because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up into vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not covenant.). Briefly, Paul is addressing people who refuse to acknowledge and glorify God (v. 21), who began worshiping idols (v. 23), and were more interested in earthly pursuits than spiritual pursuits (v. 25), and gave up their natural, or innate, passion for the opposite sex in an unbounded search for pleasure (v. 26-27) and lived lives of covetousness, malice, envy, strife, slander, disrespect for parents, pride and hatred of God (v. 29-31). The model of homosexuality that Paul addresses is associated with idol worship or temple prostitution and people who in their search for earthly pleasure broke away from their natural sexual orientation and participated in promiscuous sex with anyone available. He does not address people whose natural orientation is homosexuality, or their willingness to enter into committed relationships.

The last two verses that are often used against gays are 1Corinthians 6:9-10 (Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.), and 1 Timothy 1:10 (for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine). The Greek word in 1 Corinthians used to refer to homosexuals is malakoi, and is translated “effeminate” in the King James Version. Some theologians think this word, taken in the context of the time it was written, meant soft, like a woman, or traits like vanity and self indulgence, traits unacceptable to men at the time. Others carry it further, thinking the term refers to male prostitutes. Another Greek word used here and in Timothy is arsenokoitai, a combination of two words meaning “bed” and “male.” In other writings of the time that discuss homosexual sex, or one of the partners in gay sex, this word was never used, and other words were used. Paul would not have needed to resort to this ambiguous compound word, which other writers used to describe instances when one male used his superior power or position to take sexual advantage over another. Newer versions of the Bible seem to suggest that to commit the sin referred to in 1 Corinthians one must use homosexuality in an aggressive or offensive way (NIV – “homosexual offender” and NRSV – “sodomite” and as we have seen, the men of Sodom were the ultimate example of sexual aggression and oppression.).

These verses have been mistranslated, misinterpreted, misapplied, and mistakenly singled out as proof that God does not approve of loving and committed same sex relationships, where in fact, none of those verses address the subject, rather they address particular sexual acts committed by certain people who have turned away from God, or who are seeking favor from other gods.

Want to hear more?

>Homosexuality and the Bible, and More Lipscomb Troubles

July 3, 2007

>In Lipscomb another city official is in trouble. This time it’s the fire chief, but the Jefferson County Sherrif’s Deputy who was quoted in the Birmingham News said he did not know what the warrant was for. Seems like that would be easy enough for the guy to find out, if he was being interviewed, but that is not the story. The story is a city with a complete lack of leadership, in every major department. The mayor, the “police commissioner,” the fire chief. I hear that the sheriff’s department has been itching to get in there and clean things up.

Driving through Lipscomb on Avenue K you see a couple of new signs erected. I don’t often give free pubicity to attorneys, but here is the sign. You can read about the blasting and damage in the first few issues of the Western Tribune in May.


How about a sign that says:

Incompetence Damage

If you are damaged from lack of leadership in this area, please call…

Homosexuality and the Bible

Well here goes. I already know that certain individuals will say I am “spinning” the Bible verses to suit me, but no, what I have done is research. Some of you have heard this before, so sorry for the repeat.

I will start with the story of Sodom. The sin of Sodom was not homosexuality; it was their behavior and callous indifference toward the weak and vulnerable. Read Ezekiel 16: 49-50 (Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.), and all the other verses in the Bible that discuss Sodom and you will see that not one of them mentions homosexuality. In Ezekiel the abominable things are listed, and they are pride, attitude and refusal to help the needy. Sure, irresponsible sex is one of the elements of the story, but I hardly think God would have approved what the men of Sodom were doing if the angels had been female, so it is not just a homosexual thing. This story does not condemn homosexuality as an orientation, nor does it condemn or even speak of committed loving same sex relationships.

To follow up on Sodom, read Jude 7 ( Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire). Many assume that “going after strange flesh” must mean homosexuality, because it seems unnatural to them. But in that time, according to Genesis 6, “Sons of God” (angels) took the daughters of humans as wives. Most people think this is what sealed Sodom’s fate. Jude was talking about “heterosexual sex” between human women and male angels (pretending to be humans), or strange flesh, not sex between two men.

Everyone has heard the verses in Leviticus that are used to condemn homosexuals, but let me put them in context. Leviticus 18:22 (Thou shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination) and 20:13 (If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them) should be understood after considering what was going on at the time. Three different times we are told that these and other rules in those chapters are meant to prevent the Israelites from doing what the Egyptians and Canaanites did, in this case, homosexual temple prostitution. Many sexual practices, along with other things, are mentioned in these chapters, and these are practices that were going on in the other cultures as parts of fertility rituals and a desire for immortality (semen was thought to be the essence of life, and depositing semen into the body of one of the priests was believed to gain the favor of the goddess of love and fertility, Ishtar or Astarte, to guarantee immortality.) This is not a condemnation of homosexuality in general, or of loving same sex relationships, this is a condemnation of practicing temple prostitution to seek the favor of a false god.

Even more commonly used as a condemnation of homosexuality are Paul’s writings in Romans 1:21-28 (because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up into vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not covenant.). Briefly, Paul is addressing people who refuse to acknowledge and glorify God (v. 21), who began worshiping idols (v. 23), and were more interested in earthly pursuits than spiritual pursuits (v. 25), and gave up their natural, or innate, passion for the opposite sex in an unbounded search for pleasure (v. 26-27) and lived lives of covetousness, malice, envy, strife, slander, disrespect for parents, pride and hatred of God (v. 29-31). The model of homosexuality that Paul addresses is associated with idol worship or temple prostitution and people who in their search for earthly pleasure broke away from their natural sexual orientation and participated in promiscuous sex with anyone available. He does not address people whose natural orientation is homosexuality, or their willingness to enter into committed relationships.

The last two verses that are often used against gays are 1Corinthians 6:9-10 (Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.), and 1 Timothy 1:10 (for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine). The Greek word in 1 Corinthians used to refer to homosexuals is malakoi, and is translated “effeminate” in the King James Version. Some theologians think this word, taken in the context of the time it was written, meant soft, like a woman, or traits like vanity and self indulgence, traits unacceptable to men at the time. Others carry it further, thinking the term refers to male prostitutes. Another Greek word used here and in Timothy is arsenokoitai, a combination of two words meaning “bed” and “male.” In other writings of the time that discuss homosexual sex, or one of the partners in gay sex, this word was never used, and other words were used. Paul would not have needed to resort to this ambiguous compound word, which other writers used to describe instances when one male used his superior power or position to take sexual advantage over another. Newer versions of the Bible seem to suggest that to commit the sin referred to in 1 Corinthians one must use homosexuality in an aggressive or offensive way (NIV – “homosexual offender” and NRSV – “sodomite” and as we have seen, the men of Sodom were the ultimate example of sexual aggression and oppression.).

These verses have been mistranslated, misinterpreted, misapplied, and mistakenly singled out as proof that God does not approve of loving and committed same sex relationships, where in fact, none of those verses address the subject, rather they address particular sexual acts committed by certain people who have turned away from God, or who are seeking favor from other gods.

Want to hear more?

Anderson Cooper examining spirtuality, and the Trevor Helpline

April 6, 2007

Anderson Cooper on CNN is currently doing a series on spirituality, and on Wednesday night the discussion inlcuded science and global warming. He showed a clip of Jerry Falwell,saying that global warming is “phony baloney.” “It is Satan’s attempt to redirect the church’s primary focus,” he said in a videoclip. Does he mean that Satan is causing global warming, maybe by cracking open the gates of Hell and letting some heat out? Or does he mean Satan is making up the science of global warming. Falwell needs to get his head out of the sand and …well.


This is Auguste Rodin’s Gates of Hell. Commissioned in 1880, the Gates were largely complete by 1900, but were not cast in bronze until after the artist’s death in 1917. Photo link: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/rodin/rodin.html. See the “thinker” sitting there? I wonder what he is thinking about. “Maybe he’s contemplating how not taking care of God’s creation landed him here at the gates of hell.

Rev. Joel Hunter is an evangelical, who was once considered to lead the Christian Coalition, has seen the light, and since proclaiming that humans have a responsibility for taking care of the earth, he has been virtually demonized by other evangelicals.

On last nights show they talked about homosexuality, and had this liar on there saying that all homosexual males were that way because of a bad relationship with their father, or because of abuse of some kind, and that all homosexual males could escape homosexuality and become heterosexual. Of course, he is ignoring all that is known about homoseuxality from a scientific, medical and psychological perspective. Think of the damage people like this are doing to people struggling to accept themselves. No wonder kids who are questioning their sexuality are more likely to attempt suicide. A government study found that homosexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people. Several researchers suggest that bisexual and youth uncertain of their sexual orientation may be at higher risk for suicidal behavior than self-proclaimed homosexual teenagers. Instead of confusing them with misinformation that may cause them to kill themselves, why not teach them to embrace themselves and accept them for who they are. The blood of these adolescents who kill themselves is on the hands of preachers like this who drive them to it.


The Trevor Helpline was established in 1998 to coincide with the HBO airing of the award winning short film Trevor, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. The Trevor Helpline is the only national 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention hot line aimed at gay and questioning youth. http://www.thetrevorproject.org/staging/helpline.aspx (this picture comes from their site so I am not “outing” anyone)

And I will not even get into the irony of Anderson Cooper interviewing a preacher about the evils of homosexuality and whether or not its a sin.

Today is Good Friday and this Sunday is Easter, and maybe I should be writing about how jesus died for all of us, not just the straight ones. But you probably already know that. The ones who need to hear it are unlikely to be reading this blog anyway. Happy Easter!

>Anderson Cooper examining spirtuality, and the Trevor Helpline

April 6, 2007

>Anderson Cooper on CNN is currently doing a series on spirituality, and on Wednesday night the discussion inlcuded science and global warming. He showed a clip of Jerry Falwell,saying that global warming is “phony baloney.” “It is Satan’s attempt to redirect the church’s primary focus,” he said in a videoclip. Does he mean that Satan is causing global warming, maybe by cracking open the gates of Hell and letting some heat out? Or does he mean Satan is making up the science of global warming. Falwell needs to get his head out of the sand and …well.


This is Auguste Rodin’s Gates of Hell. Commissioned in 1880, the Gates were largely complete by 1900, but were not cast in bronze until after the artist’s death in 1917. Photo link: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/rodin/rodin.html. See the “thinker” sitting there? I wonder what he is thinking about. “Maybe he’s contemplating how not taking care of God’s creation landed him here at the gates of hell.

Rev. Joel Hunter is an evangelical, who was once considered to lead the Christian Coalition, has seen the light, and since proclaiming that humans have a responsibility for taking care of the earth, he has been virtually demonized by other evangelicals.

On last nights show they talked about homosexuality, and had this liar on there saying that all homosexual males were that way because of a bad relationship with their father, or because of abuse of some kind, and that all homosexual males could escape homosexuality and become heterosexual. Of course, he is ignoring all that is known about homoseuxality from a scientific, medical and psychological perspective. Think of the damage people like this are doing to people struggling to accept themselves. No wonder kids who are questioning their sexuality are more likely to attempt suicide. A government study found that homosexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people. Several researchers suggest that bisexual and youth uncertain of their sexual orientation may be at higher risk for suicidal behavior than self-proclaimed homosexual teenagers. Instead of confusing them with misinformation that may cause them to kill themselves, why not teach them to embrace themselves and accept them for who they are. The blood of these adolescents who kill themselves is on the hands of preachers like this who drive them to it.


The Trevor Helpline was established in 1998 to coincide with the HBO airing of the award winning short film Trevor, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. The Trevor Helpline is the only national 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention hot line aimed at gay and questioning youth. http://www.thetrevorproject.org/staging/helpline.aspx (this picture comes from their site so I am not “outing” anyone)

And I will not even get into the irony of Anderson Cooper interviewing a preacher about the evils of homosexuality and whether or not its a sin.

Today is Good Friday and this Sunday is Easter, and maybe I should be writing about how jesus died for all of us, not just the straight ones. But you probably already know that. The ones who need to hear it are unlikely to be reading this blog anyway. Happy Easter!

Pace is off the Mark

March 13, 2007

The top U. S. military officer, Gen Peter Pace, was quoted yesterday by the Chicago Tribune as saying “”I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts. So the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ [policy] allows an individual to serve the country … if we know about immoral acts, regardless of committed by who, then we have a responsibility.”

Pace was stating his opinion as the debate over the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy continues. The majority of Americans believe that homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly, and many retired and current military officials agree.

Two problems. First, according to many, adultery and even divorce, as described by Jesus, could be considered immoral. Pre-marital sex is also a common practice that many consider immoral. Should all divorced or sexually active applicants for the armed services be turned down? If their divorce or their extra-marital sex occurs during their service, should they be discharged? Some consider actions of “self pleasure” immoral. Soldiers, watch out.

Second, we often hear that our moral authority comes from the Ten Commandments. While homosexuality is not mentioned, killing certainly is. Is it not hypocritical for someone who makes their career based on war and killing to be making arguments based on morality? This is not the time to debate the morality of war or of this war in particular, but many religious leaders came out against this war in particular as being unjust and un-biblical. That would make the killing in this war, immoral.

According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (http://www.sldn.org/templates/index.html) there are over 65,000 gay and lesbian troops now serving in our armed forces. From 1993 to 2005 there were 11,092 gay and lesbian service personnel dismissed. The cost for administering this policy has been reported to be between 200 million and 364 million dollars. The lower figure comes from the GAO (http://www.gao.gov/htext/d05299.html) and the higher figure from the Center for Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. (http://www.gaymilitary.ucsb.edu)

What a waste of taxpayer dollars, and what a waste of qualified personnel. Oh, but this administration is not concerned about taxpayer dollars (other than returning them to the richest of the rich) or qualified personnel (from the top down).

>Pace is off the Mark

March 13, 2007

>The top U. S. military officer, Gen Peter Pace, was quoted yesterday by the Chicago Tribune as saying “”I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts. So the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ [policy] allows an individual to serve the country … if we know about immoral acts, regardless of committed by who, then we have a responsibility.”

Pace was stating his opinion as the debate over the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy continues. The majority of Americans believe that homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly, and many retired and current military officials agree.

Two problems. First, according to many, adultery and even divorce, as described by Jesus, could be considered immoral. Pre-marital sex is also a common practice that many consider immoral. Should all divorced or sexually active applicants for the armed services be turned down? If their divorce or their extra-marital sex occurs during their service, should they be discharged? Some consider actions of “self pleasure” immoral. Soldiers, watch out.

Second, we often hear that our moral authority comes from the Ten Commandments. While homosexuality is not mentioned, killing certainly is. Is it not hypocritical for someone who makes their career based on war and killing to be making arguments based on morality? This is not the time to debate the morality of war or of this war in particular, but many religious leaders came out against this war in particular as being unjust and un-biblical. That would make the killing in this war, immoral.

According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (http://www.sldn.org/templates/index.html) there are over 65,000 gay and lesbian troops now serving in our armed forces. From 1993 to 2005 there were 11,092 gay and lesbian service personnel dismissed. The cost for administering this policy has been reported to be between 200 million and 364 million dollars. The lower figure comes from the GAO (http://www.gao.gov/htext/d05299.html) and the higher figure from the Center for Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. (http://www.gaymilitary.ucsb.edu)

What a waste of taxpayer dollars, and what a waste of qualified personnel. Oh, but this administration is not concerned about taxpayer dollars (other than returning them to the richest of the rich) or qualified personnel (from the top down).

>Who I would not like to be

March 1, 2007

>One person I would not like to be is Katherine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. She has the unfortunate, but very important, task of leading the Episcopal Church through the debate that could end up seeing the church break away from the worldwide Anglican Fellowship over the role of gays and lesbians in the church. To her credit, Bishop Schori has been supportive of inclusive polices regarding gays and has said she does not support efforts to remove Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop from New Hampshire, from his post. Now the church faces an ultimatum from the Anglican leaders to unequivocally pledge not to consecrate another partnered gay bishop or authorize prayers for same sex couples. The Anglican Church of Nigeria, leading the way of religious intolerance, in 2006 issued a statement affirming their “commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity…”

The Episcopal Church has a history of social justice, although at times having to play “catch up”, for instance, issuing a condemnation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1979 and declaring the practice of racism a sin in 1991. And they have been a leader in the inclusion of women in all roles in the church, culminating with the election of Schori last year as the first woman to ever hold the position of presiding bishop although there are still dioceses that do not allow women priests. So it is no surprise that the Episcopal Church would be a leader in the inclusion of homosexuals, nor is it a surprise that they can’t just put their foot down and say “No” to the Anglican demands. Episcopals are never quick to do anything, to make decisions, or to develop new policy. And maybe that is as it should be, to prevent knee-jerk decisions and pop-cultural influences.

But this issue has already been decided. In 2000 the Convention affirmed “the variety of human relationships in and outside of marriage,” and in 2006 affirmed “support of gay and lesbian persons and children of God.” In fact, way back in 1975 the Convention declared that homosexuals are “children of God” and are “entitled to full civil rights.” And of course in 2003 The Right Reverend Gene Robinson was consecrated as the first openly gay bishop in the Church.

And if policy is not enough, across the country gay and lesbian persons are serving in numerous positions in the church, from lay leaders to deacons to priests. If one looks at the work that these people do, and the results of their efforts, there is no doubt that God is blessing their work and is pleased with their inclusion. In fact, the very diocese that Robinson is leading continues to be blessed and to bless others. Would God continue to allow His blessings to flow forth from homosexuals if He was not pleased with their work?

Last night Schori led a webcast in which she addressed the issue of homosexuality and the church. Her call for “a season of fasting –from authorizing rites for blessing same sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions” puts the brakes on full inclusion as she attempts to buy time for reconciliation. This is just putting off the inevitable. No one believes the Nigerians are going to reverse course from calling for criminalization of homosexuality to acceptance and full inclusion. And while Episcopals endure a season of fasting, gay and lesbian parishioners and friends are left hanging. They are the ones suffering, as they are being denied full inclusion and participation. Gene Robinson’s response to Schori’s webcast can be read at http://www.nhepiscopal.org/artman/publish/article_426.shtml. He points out that Jesus calls on the greater whole to sacrifice itself for those on the margins. He responds to her call for forbearance by wondering “ How will we explain this “forbearance” to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to The Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them AT God’s table, not simply BENEATH it, hoping for fallen scraps? Are THEIR souls not worthy of salvation too? Does anyone relish the notion of trying to explain all this “forbearance” to GOD?”

1995 was The International Year of Tolerance and that year I was asked to submit a Lenten Devotion for a booklet my church was printing. What I said yesterday about tolerance not withstanding, I want to share what I wrote:

The reading was Luke 6:27-37 and the key verse was verse 37: Do not judge
and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.

Nineteen ninety five has been designated as the International Year of Tolerance. Amara Essy, president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, says that intolerance leads to isolation of individuals, violations of human rights, and ultimately poses a threat to international peace and security. Intolerance is unacceptable.

Birmingham author Lynn Duvall in her book Respecting Our Differences, gives several reasons to become more tolerant. 1) The more one learns about others, the less one has to fear. We can learn about other people, and respect them, even though we may not agree with them. 2) Tolerant people are more self-confident and comfortable in all situations. If we are to effectively share our lives and faith with other people we must be able to relate to them in relaxed ways that do not threaten or in which we do not feel threatened. 3) Tolerance makes life more interesting. Without diversity the human race would be “bo-ring.”

Jesus showed tolerance in his ministry and He shows tolerance with each of us today. He did not limit his teachings to those of one faith, even though He lived in a world of religious intolerance; or only to those of His gender, although He lived in a sexist world; or to those who lived a good life, even thought it was unpopular to associate with sinners. Jesus said to love your enemies, to be merciful, to be non-judgmental and to be forgiving.

My prayer is from a hymn by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson.

Let their be peace on earth, and let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God, our Creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other, in perfect harmony.

From 1995 to 2007, and during this season of Lent, this message still holds true. Leaders of the Anglican (and Episcopal) Church, as well as leaders of our nation, need to develop tolerance and understanding. Peace.

Who I would not like to be

March 1, 2007

One person I would not like to be is Katherine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. She has the unfortunate, but very important, task of leading the Episcopal Church through the debate that could end up seeing the church break away from the worldwide Anglican Fellowship over the role of gays and lesbians in the church. To her credit, Bishop Schori has been supportive of inclusive polices regarding gays and has said she does not support efforts to remove Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop from New Hampshire, from his post. Now the church faces an ultimatum from the Anglican leaders to unequivocally pledge not to consecrate another partnered gay bishop or authorize prayers for same sex couples. The Anglican Church of Nigeria, leading the way of religious intolerance, in 2006 issued a statement affirming their “commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity…”

The Episcopal Church has a history of social justice, although at times having to play “catch up”, for instance, issuing a condemnation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1979 and declaring the practice of racism a sin in 1991. And they have been a leader in the inclusion of women in all roles in the church, culminating with the election of Schori last year as the first woman to ever hold the position of presiding bishop although there are still dioceses that do not allow women priests. So it is no surprise that the Episcopal Church would be a leader in the inclusion of homosexuals, nor is it a surprise that they can’t just put their foot down and say “No” to the Anglican demands. Episcopals are never quick to do anything, to make decisions, or to develop new policy. And maybe that is as it should be, to prevent knee-jerk decisions and pop-cultural influences.

But this issue has already been decided. In 2000 the Convention affirmed “the variety of human relationships in and outside of marriage,” and in 2006 affirmed “support of gay and lesbian persons and children of God.” In fact, way back in 1975 the Convention declared that homosexuals are “children of God” and are “entitled to full civil rights.” And of course in 2003 The Right Reverend Gene Robinson was consecrated as the first openly gay bishop in the Church.

And if policy is not enough, across the country gay and lesbian persons are serving in numerous positions in the church, from lay leaders to deacons to priests. If one looks at the work that these people do, and the results of their efforts, there is no doubt that God is blessing their work and is pleased with their inclusion. In fact, the very diocese that Robinson is leading continues to be blessed and to bless others. Would God continue to allow His blessings to flow forth from homosexuals if He was not pleased with their work?

Last night Schori led a webcast in which she addressed the issue of homosexuality and the church. Her call for “a season of fasting –from authorizing rites for blessing same sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions” puts the brakes on full inclusion as she attempts to buy time for reconciliation. This is just putting off the inevitable. No one believes the Nigerians are going to reverse course from calling for criminalization of homosexuality to acceptance and full inclusion. And while Episcopals endure a season of fasting, gay and lesbian parishioners and friends are left hanging. They are the ones suffering, as they are being denied full inclusion and participation. Gene Robinson’s response to Schori’s webcast can be read at http://www.nhepiscopal.org/artman/publish/article_426.shtml. He points out that Jesus calls on the greater whole to sacrifice itself for those on the margins. He responds to her call for forbearance by wondering “ How will we explain this “forbearance” to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to The Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them AT God’s table, not simply BENEATH it, hoping for fallen scraps? Are THEIR souls not worthy of salvation too? Does anyone relish the notion of trying to explain all this “forbearance” to GOD?”

1995 was The International Year of Tolerance and that year I was asked to submit a Lenten Devotion for a booklet my church was printing. What I said yesterday about tolerance not withstanding, I want to share what I wrote:

The reading was Luke 6:27-37 and the key verse was verse 37: Do not judge
and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.

Nineteen ninety five has been designated as the International Year of Tolerance. Amara Essy, president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, says that intolerance leads to isolation of individuals, violations of human rights, and ultimately poses a threat to international peace and security. Intolerance is unacceptable.

Birmingham author Lynn Duvall in her book Respecting Our Differences, gives several reasons to become more tolerant. 1) The more one learns about others, the less one has to fear. We can learn about other people, and respect them, even though we may not agree with them. 2) Tolerant people are more self-confident and comfortable in all situations. If we are to effectively share our lives and faith with other people we must be able to relate to them in relaxed ways that do not threaten or in which we do not feel threatened. 3) Tolerance makes life more interesting. Without diversity the human race would be “bo-ring.”

Jesus showed tolerance in his ministry and He shows tolerance with each of us today. He did not limit his teachings to those of one faith, even though He lived in a world of religious intolerance; or only to those of His gender, although He lived in a sexist world; or to those who lived a good life, even thought it was unpopular to associate with sinners. Jesus said to love your enemies, to be merciful, to be non-judgmental and to be forgiving.

My prayer is from a hymn by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson.

Let their be peace on earth, and let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God, our Creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other, in perfect harmony.

From 1995 to 2007, and during this season of Lent, this message still holds true. Leaders of the Anglican (and Episcopal) Church, as well as leaders of our nation, need to develop tolerance and understanding. Peace.

>The Western Star and Tim Hardaway

February 22, 2007

>The Western Star in Bessemer, AL has once again published inaccurate information on its opinion page, in a column titled “Hardaway ban a bit extreme,” authored by editor Dale Jones. Most of you know that former NBA star Tim Hardaway recently said “I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people, and I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic (who knew?) I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.” In the column Jones asserts that “I, Dale Jones, DO NOT HATE GAY PEOPLE. (Emphasis his). I have acquaintances who are gay. I don’t hate them. I am in total disagreement with their choice of lifestyle, but I don’t hate them.” He goes on to comment on Hardaway’s apology, in particular Hardaway’s comparison between the bigotry that African-Americans experience because of race, and the prejudice against homosexuals. Jones counters that homosexuality and race can not be compared because no one has a choice about their race or sex.

Homosexuality is a choice.”

That is Jones’s statement on the issue. That is what I take issue with.

It is true that Tim Hardaway has a right to hate whomever he wants to, and to say what he wants to in this country. It is also true that Hardaway was stupid to make those remarks in a public forum, and maybe the NBA was right in not allowing a controversial figure represent them on a weekend that is supposed to be all fun and games. It is also stupid for this paper to defend him, even in the roundabout way that it did.

Many noted professional basketball players (and former players) including Charles Barkley have come out against Hardaway in this debate. Just because one person on ESPN says that the majority of players in the NBA feel as Hardaway does, does not make it so. I don’t doubt that homophobia exists in all professional sports, basketball included, but I doubt the majority feel that way, just as the majority of Americans don’t feel that way.

But my biggest beef is with Jones’s statement that homosexuality is a choice. The sentence, standing alone in his column, not surrounded by other sentences as part of a paragraph, is a gross and glaring example of this writer’s ignorance on the subject of homosexuality. If Jones had any friends who were homosexuals, he might understand. Oh he admits to having “acquaintances” but not any friends. Friends you talk to, you understand, you learn from. Any educated person in 2007 knows that there is a spectrum of sexuality and while various decision making processes may play a role in how humans express their sexuality, it does not play a role in who one is innately attracted to. If it were a choice to be homosexual, then it would also be a choice to be heterosexual. That would mean we all at some point had to make a choice of whether to be attracted to members of the opposite sex, or the same sex. So if you think it is a choice, think back to when you made your decision. Did you think, “Well let’s see, I need to be deciding which I’m gonna be….” I didn’t think so.

Certainly there are homosexuals who choose to behave in heterosexual ways, possibly even getting married and having children. And some heterosexuals find themselves in situations where they choose to have homosexual relations. But in these cases, the person is not choosing their sexual orientation, they are choosing their behavior. There is a big difference.

Jones says that Hardaway’s comparison of sexuality to race in unwarranted, because homosexuality is a choice and race is not. Mr. Jones, homosexuality, just like heterosexuality, is part of one’s innate being, just like race, gender, eye color and left and right handedness. The American Medical Association agrees, as does the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Psychiatric Association, The American Psychological Association, and the American Psychoanalytic Association. Even most American Christian church denominations now agree that homosexuality is not a choice, while they may argue (wrongly) that the behavior is sinful, most realize that homosexuality is innate and can not be changed (if anyone wants my views on homosexuality and Christianity, I will be glad to share…drop me an email metrocat10@aol.com).

It seems that Jones has gone out of his way to criticize homosexuality in the last few months. What is that really about? Aren’t there more important issues in Bessemer that The Western Star could be reporting on? I get more information from the Birmingham News Western Section on Wednesdays (thank you Robert Gordon) than I do from the Western Star. In this week’s Birmingham News we learned about Bessemer judges, about the school board’s plans for the new high school, about Eddie Bevelle returning to Downtown to open a new restaurant, about the utility board’s plan to buy out Coventa Energy’s contract, about certain streetlights being replaced and other actions of the city council. I hope The Western Star can return to printing relevant news that concerns our city and it’s citizens, and less inaccurate opinion and syndicated columns (especially when they express the opinions of writers who live 600 miles or so away from here).