Chico, Evangelical Christians, and the So-called "Sin" of Homosexuality


(Spectrumbot) #1

I see a troubling trend in the Evangelical Christian community that I'd like to address. What much of Evangelical Christianity focuses on and what they are willing to overlook doesn’t seem in any way reflective of the character of Christ. Evangelicals seem to focus on two offenses to the exclusion of anything else: participation in an abortion or committing homosexual acts. The message seems to be that if any segment of society involves itself in either of these activities, God’s punishment will be exacted on all of society as a result. Condoning is tantamount to participation. Evangelicals act terrified of the possibility of a vengeful God’s punishment through collateral damage. They do not seem genuinely concerned about the “sin” or the “sinner,” but rather the effect that it might bring upon them.

Take televangelist Pat Robertson, who has pointed to several natural disasters as having been caused by miscreants’ “evil deeds.” Most notably, Robertson has called out the “wickedness” of New Orleans, which he was quick to assert brought God’s judgment in the form of Hurricane Katrina. The late Reverend Jerry Falwell also connected natural disasters with abortion and the LGBT community. Simply allowing the existence of these activities is said to be enough to bring about the consequence of a “wrathful” God.

While there are reasonable points to be made about reproductive rights, for the purpose of this piece, I wish to concentrate on the LGBT community.

My interest was first stimulated by the much-discussed story a lesbian couple, one of whom was recently baptized in an Adventist church in Chico, California. Same-sex marriage has been a peripheral issue for those who live in this community, but over the past few years, it has come to the fore.

Just because I am not a part of the LGBT community doesn't absolve me of the responsibility of helping to make their lives less difficult—at minimum, adding my voice to help in their struggles. I was so glad to see those in the Chico Adventist Church adding their voices, not necessarily in support of homosexuality, but in support of humanity, dignity and love for fellow humans. At Pentecost the disciples were taken aback when Gentiles (considered sinful) also received the Holy Spirit. Just as then, God must also be trying to reach the LGBT community now. Why else would people be eager to be baptized into God’s family? I think that when God brings someone through the doors of our churches, the message is,”These are my children, too.”

I find it almost laughable when people say same-sex marriage has denigrated their heterosexual marriage. How? I have been in a heterosexual marriage for almost 50 years, and I have honestly tried to understand how my marriage has been negatively impacted by two men or two women making a commitment to each other and receiving a piece of paper acknowledging that commitment. Marriage is not defined by a sexual act, it is a commitment signifying faithfulness to another individual, be they the same or the opposite sex.

The sacrality of marriage is a religious additive. Marriages have been performed by secular magistrates, judges, justices of the peace, ship captains, etc. for thousands of years, none of which necessarily have any religious affiliation. Aren’t two atheists entitled to marry in this country? The only thing that confines marriage to being between two people of the opposite sex is a religious belief. This is precisely why the courts had no choice but to come down on the side of legally affording marriage to same-sex couples. To do anything else would make the government complicit in incorporating religious values into a secular government.

Even Evangelicals have to admit there is no way to make homosexuality go away. There have been attempts through aversion therapies to try and "convert" the homosexual into a heterosexual being. But these attempts have been almost universally denounced as both ineffective and downright harmful. Even the Catholic priesthood hasn't been very effective in this area, and they are in a position to control their environment much better than secular society ever could.

Evangelicals have concentrated on pushing the LGBT community back into the closet. Evangelicals have even acknowledged that this is their goal. They say that all of the attention that is being paid to LGBT rights is causing "our young people to be more receptive to becoming part of that community.” They have never been able to substantiate this in any way but they persist in promoting this notion. What interests me is, if God is truly angry about the sexual activities of the LGBT community, how does moving them back into the closed satisfy an angry God? What about that collateral damage? Or, were their original fears, only that a public display of same sex activity is what will bring on God's wrath? Can’t God still see what goes on in secret? So, how do you appease this angry God? What seems more important to me is the question of what kind of God does that make God? I think that God's character has been tarnished enough by our hateful attempts to make Him into anything but the loving and merciful God that He is.

If it is proven that the LBGT person is born into this orientation rather than choosing it, how then would you feel about your continued persecution of this group? How could you reconcile a God that has either created, or allowed the creation of a being with not just the propensity, but one of man's most intense forces, their sex-drive, (the very term “drive” connotes a very powerful force) which then would supposedly causes this same God to look upon them as an abomination? Couldn’t this fall into a category similar to a sort of predestination?

It has never been established what causes an individual to have an attachment to another individual of the same sex, nor has it been determined when this process takes place. We don't even have absolute knowledge whether this attraction is caused genetically or is societal. If you speak with a homosexual person, they will tell you that they have been this way from the time they were old enough to remember. They will tell you they were "born this way.” Attempts to find a genetic explanation to this have been less than conclusive, although there are some signs of a genetic difference between heterosexual and homosexual genes, proof has been less than conclusive. On the other hand, all scientific studies within these populations by sociologists and psychologists and the mental health community as a whole, have shown an almost universally conclusive understanding that homosexual attraction is an inherited or "born with" trait. In recent years, the DSM, the bible of mental health disorders, has been modified by removing homosexuality as an abnormality and treating it simply as a human condition.

What is most troubling is that it isn't enough for Evangelical Christians to preach from their pulpits about the "evils" of the behavior of the gay community. In recent years they have set out to use the secular institutions of government to try and force those who disagree with their religious beliefs to bring them into compliance. There is an irony in this process, because these same Evangelical Christians have an almost universal condemnation of these same governmental institutions for being corrupt, ineffective, and irrelevant agencies.

Safe to say, there has never been any love lost between the "Religious Right" and the government, that is, except when it suits their purpose in bringing about containment of those they wish to condemn. These same players became the "Moral Majority" and Mr. Dobson's "Focus on the Family,” which spawned other organizations too numerous to mention. Their "majority" was very doubtful and their morality was questionable, but they persisted in systematically grabbing power at every turn. Dobson, himself has been known for bragging about how many in Congress he could control. He, in turn, provided voting blocs at election time.

Where does God fit into all of this? It is an essential question to ask in light of the suffering and outright persecution that the LGBT community has endured. The number of suicides within this community reveals the cost of "religiously shaming” these members of our society. Studies have shown that each episode of LGBT victimization increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times. While LGBT individualss make up roughly 5% of the youth population, it is estimated they make up 40% of the homeless. This is due in large part to the parents of these youth being intolerant of their children's orientation. The overall suicide rate for the LGBT community is 14 times greater than that of the population as a whole. Can you honestly say that any of these lost lives were not God's children? How many more young men do we have to watch tied to a fence in the bitter Wyoming cold and snow before we say enough? Is it a fair question to ask if one “sin” is more egregious than another in the sight of God? And is it also fair to ask if we, by our silence, hold any responsibility for their suffering and deaths?

Lynden Williams is a 71-year-old retired broadcast engineer who lives in Tehachapi, California. He has been a Sabbath School teacher for more than 25 yearscurrently as one of the adult Sabbath School teachers at the Lancaster California Seventh-day Adventist Church.

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7890

(Allen Shepherd) #2

I am not sure I want to get into an argument with Mr. Williams as he has quite a bad feeling about Ev. Christians, the Religious Right, and any who might disagree with him on this matter. They are truly evil. I wonder how the SS is handling it! But the paragraph below makes some simple assumptions that do not quite fit a logical discussion of this topic:

If marriage does not have a biological or sexual basis, then it is really not the same thing as it was thought to be in the past.

If there is no biological basis for marriage, that is it is between the two different sexual manifestations of humanity, then anyone can marry anyone and call it marriage. I can marry my cousin, my brother, my aunt, my daughter, my three sisters, or anyone else for that matter. And if there is no sexual aspect, I could even marry a friend whom I had no sexual interest in at all, and call it marriage. Now Mr. Williams and many others might find some of these unions unacceptable, but who are they to judge? Others may find them completely acceptable, and it is only society, and its laws that forbid such unions, and that was the same with homosexual unions until the recent past. Its all just a matter of viewpoint.

If society can accept them, the laws can be changed to fit the circumstances, as they already have been in regard to homosexuality.

So, although a man down the block marrying his partner legally, may not affect Mr. Williams’ marriage, it completely changes what marriage is. It becomes just a ceremony ending with the signing of a piece of paper signifying that one has some sort of relationship with another individual.

Thus the word marriage becomes meaningless. That seems a significant change to me. But I can’t speak for Mr. Williams and his marriage…

Edit:

Peter below said:

My answer:

  1. There was a biological basis for your grandfather’s marriages: he was a man, the ladies were women. My point was not that procreation had to be necessary.
  2. Two people can live together in any number of relationships. We do not have to call these “marriage”. When we do, we make the word “marriage” mean nothing but two people living together in some relationship. If I lived with my sister, with sex or without, that would have to be called marriage by this definition.
  3. Two gay men with a relationship that is “FAR, FAR more than about sex” can live together in any manner of ways. Just don’t call it marriage, or marriage becomes meaningless.
  4. You have not really answered my objection.

Edit 2.

Note, I am speaking about the meaning of the word marriage, not whether two people can have a meaningful relationship. A man and a women who have a deep love for one another, but do not wed, even if living together, are not called married (and most that do so do not want to be called married). But if any two people (as Steve says below) who have any kind of commitment can get a “license” saying they are “married”, then the word marriage means nothing. Society made marriage mean something for a reason, there were societal benefits. The other things being touted as marriage do not do so.


(Jeffrey Kent) #3

In all frankness, evangelicals are terrified of much these days:

(1) muslims
(2) immigrants
(3) terrorists
(4) gunlessness
(5) fake news (negative coverage of White House)
(6) abortion
(7) LGBT individuals
(8) same-sex marriage
(9) evolution
(10) Hillary Clinton
(11) environmental protection
(12) taxes
(13) Obamacare
(14) Hollywood
(15) liberals
(16) China
(17) Mexico
(18) free trade
(19) globalism
(20) women outside the home
(21) Jason Bourne

I could add more to the list, though Russia has recently dropped from it. We live in frightening times when we need a strong man sent from heaven (or perhaps a tall tower in New York) to protect us from all these threats and straighten everything out before we drive off the Carson cliff.


(john) #5

People can do whatever they want and live whatever lifestyles. The problem here is when a minority is pushing their whims as norms down the throats of a majority that thinks differently…


(Peter) #6

My grandfather, a retired Adventist conference president outlived three wives. He married the second time at the age of 86, and the third time at 94. Why did he bother to get married, Allen, at an age when “there was no biological or sexual basis” for that? How would that weaken or invalidate your marriage? Why couldn’t he and these women have just been friends? So were his last two marriages meaningless? There are thousands and thousands of “straight” marriages that will never have a biological or sexual basis - yet no one calls for the denial or invalidation of those marriages.

Marriage between two men is FAR, FAR more than about having sex! They can love each other as deeply as a husband and wife. (Yes, really!) I know married gay couples for whom there is no sexual basis in marriage, yet they share their lives intimately in other fulfilling ways that are different than mere friendship.


#7

I personaly think it is a irresponsible debate and articles in spectrum that create division unless we hear the pastors side of story and there perspective on the meaning of babtism .

This is the crux of the issue
Babtised in the LAW + HOLYSPIRIT
some may be putting cart before the horse or chicken before the egg.

PAUL did re babtise in HOLY SPIRIT but JOHN did LAW 1st
So it comes down to pastors interpretations and there educations and theological understanding
Thats why it would be great to get pastor in question perspective

Pre babtism work is key so we dont know what went on between pastor and these ladies but its up to leadership to ask not us


(Pagophilus) #8

Closets are exactly where shameful and immoral acts should be. People can do whatever they want behind the closed doors of their own homes, but these things should be kept out of public sight and knowledge.

What exactly is the “LGBT community”? An agglomeration of people whose only commonality is deviation from historical sexual norms? Interesting concept.


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #10

Peter,
Your grandfather was like many bereaved pastors and church administrators I have observed in my eighty one years on this planet.

Most bereaved males are re-married within a year of their widowhood.
They are not marrying for the sex, but because of the intense loneliness, companionlessness, and desperation for a “soul mate”.

Sex, though important for a relationship, is far overshadowed by the love, loyalty, trust, devotion, companionship, caring, support, and enjoyment of shared activities, that constitute most good unions.

These Adventist pastors who precipitate themselves into hasty and sometimes unwise second marriages out of sheer lonely desperation, are the very ones who would condemn gay/ lesbian pre-teens and teens to a LIFETIME of loneliness and celibacy!

Most people equate celibacy with the lack of sex, but the greatest loss is the EMOTIONAL DEPRIVATION and there is also a significant ECONOMIC component. I know of many couples, both gay and straight where one partner lost a job and without the economic support of the spouse, would have become HOMELESS!

Those who glibly advocate celibacy for our gay/lesbian offspring would be the last to advocate it for themselves " if the shoe was on the other foot"!

LYNDEN WILLIAMS, your loving inclusiveness radiates through your message.

The Lancaster SDA church should be PROUD to have you as a member.
I am tempted when in Pasadena, to rise early on Sabbath, to make it to your Sabbbath School class!

Most men of your generation are homophobic and distrustful of the LGBT community, so I applaud your openness, your tolerance, and your Christlikeness!


(Kevin Paulson) #12

I too am troubled by the near-exclusive focus of many evangelical Christians on one set of sins, with very little mention of others. But it isn’t a question of either/or, but rather, of both/and. The Bible speaks at length of sexual immorality and God’s displeasure regarding it, but it speaks at even greater length of injustice to the poor and socially powerless, and God’s equally fervent displeasure at such actions.

The Christian’s responsibility is to embrace the entire counsel of God (Acts 20:27), not just a part of it. All it takes is one sin, unconfessed and unforsaken, to keep any of us out of God’s kingdom (James 2:10). Too many in this controversy seem inordinately focused on either one or another category of moral concern, without realizing that the Word of God requires that we focus on both.

I have always been a strong advocate of keeping church and state separate, and have long recognized that to permit freedom of choice in a non-theocratic state is not equivalent to the endorsement of anyone’s consensual choices. (After all, freedom for Roman Catholics, evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, secularists, or any number of others to practice their faith or the lack thereof does not represent an endorsement by the state of any of the above persuasions.) What is unfortunate in this article, however, is the indiscriminate mingling of the church-and-state issue with the dilemma faced by the church itself regarding such questions. While a non-theocratic government cannot rightfully discriminate between various marital constructs involving consenting adults, the church most assuredly can—and must, on the basis of inspired counsel—do so.

Frankly, I share the outrage of this article’s author regarding the notion that practicing homosexuals should be driven “back into the closet.” That isn’t the place for any sin. Transgression committed in the proverbial “closet” is every bit as offensive to God as transgression committed in the light of day. Irrespective of what the sin may be, the solution is the merciful pardon and transformative power promised by the Gospel of Holy Scripture (I John 1:9). Whether in or out of the closet, the answer to sin of any kind is divinely-empowered confession and conquest, not concealment.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #13

This topic is the third rail. Touch it at your own risk. But here goes–I strongly. Believe in Civil unions to protect property rights and other civic activities. I believe the church should welcome any and all into worship. The issue. Of Membership may be more limited either denominational or congregational. I decry militancy on both sides. TZ


#14

Studies that lead to disconfirmation bias are resisted and unpopular.


(Drhoads) #15

Wouldn’t it help a lot if the State were to confine itself to enacting civil unions with their attendant tax benefits, and let churches define marriage for themselves and their adherents?


#16

Just a few random observations about using the the term “marriage” for legally registered, 'til-death-do-us-part, covenanted, same-sex unions:

What was the difference in relationship between Solomon and his 700 “wives” from the relationship between Solomon and his 300 “concubines”? Could it be said that he was “married” to the 700 but not “married” to the 300?

If the term “marriage” can legitimately be used to describe the relationship that exists between one man and 700 women, wouldn’t that suggest that the term has been used, and can be used, rather elastically?

As for preferability of the term “civil union” over “marriage” when it comes to legally registered same-sex relationships, have we forgotten the intense opposition to any form of legalization of relationships that “the Bible condemns”? It was only when conservative religions realized that permanent same-sex relationships were getting very close to being granted all the prerogatives of marriage, including use of the term “marriage,” that many suddenly became great advocates of “civil unions” for same-sex couples. “Let them do what they will as long as it isn’t called ‘marriage.’”

Had conservative religious people been at the forefront in advocating for equal legal rights for same-sex couples, conservative Christians could have to a great degree set the agenda. There was a time when having conservative Christians advocating for a legally-equal-but-differently-named official status for “permanently connected” same-sex couples would no doubt have seemed like Christmas, New Year’s and the Fourth of July all arriving on one day. But the window of opportunity for conservative Christians to significantly influence the evolution of this crucial social issue effectively closed a long time ago.


(Steve Mga) #17

Legal Term For Marriage.
When two [2] consenting adults live together, and to receive certain LEGAL BENEFITS they HAVE to be able to produce a Marriage Certificate that has been recorded at a Court House.
Otherwise they are ONLY living together as 2 Single Persons with no rights outside of themselves.

Society, in many places [the U.S. and overseas] has now agreed and authorized that two [2] consenting adults, whether man and woman, man and man, woman and woman who plan a long-term co-habitating relationship have permission to get a Legal Marriage License and be recorded at the Court House as legally married, and allowed ALL The Legal Rights and Privileges of Married Individuals.
And many have also been accorded legal adoption rights. [I personally know a number who have adopted children].

It is true there ARE Religious groups and organizations around the world that reject what many nations are allowing at this time – the expansion of “Legal Marriage” to include men and men, women and women. Some of these groups just ignore same-sex relationships and offer no legal status, while other religious groups are actually active in Exterminating Same-sex attracted persons by putting them to death in horrifying ways.
On the other hand there are Religious groups who believe that God honors long-term relationships whether they are male-female, male-male, female-female.
Most [not all] of the Seventhday Adventist church members and pastors still consider that long-term relationships, other than man and woman, are dishonoring God, and that God is very displeased by those co-habitating relationships. And so these persons are actively discouraged from either being Baptized into Jesus Christ, and/or requsting [and maintaining] one’s membership in the Seventh day Adventist church body.
So, it makes it very, very difficult for Same-Sex Attracted individuals who grew up SDAs to remain SDAs, and in some cases, even associate with friends who are SDAs, and with parents and other family members who are SDAs.

In a case like mine, who know quite a few same-sex persons and couples in Sunday Keeping churches, it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to invite them to become Seventh-day Adventists. Several of whom have adopted children.
Maybe Allen could give advice on how to do that!
Otherwise they have to stay – as using Adventist Terminology – in Babylon.

WHERE DO SAME-SEX ATTRACTED INDIVIDUALS COME FROM?
Hetero-sexual Parents.

Longevity Fact:
Single persons do not live as long as 2 people who are in a relationship together.

DRHOADS-- ALL marriages ARE Civil Unions.
All the Preacher does in a ceremony conducted by a Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, Imam, etc is BLESS the Union of the Two. During the Ceremony the person conducting the ceremony IS acting as the State Representative, in place of the person at the Court House.
So ALL marriages ARE Civil Unions.

EDIT-- The “ACT” of Marriage, and the “LEGAL DOCUMENT” of Marriage signifies 1. the Emancipation of each party from Parents and All Relatives. 2. It provides for the Legal Control of each other’s Bodies and Possessions to Each Other.
These 2 factors are VERY IMPORTANT in two ways. 1. In the case of serious illness. A. Visitation rights. B. Signing for treatment as necessary. C. Disposition of one’s partner’s body at time of death. 2. At time of death, becoming the sole ownership of ALL community property. Relatives CANNOT evict the married partner from the home. Relatives CANNOT claim the married partner’s accumulated property and force the surviving partner out on “the street with nothing”.
EDIT-- There is the TERM “Common-Law Marriage” between a man and woman which can be declared after so long a time. But IT STILL requires going to the court house, verifying the fact, and receiving a Marriage Certificate eventually in order to be Valid Marriage for LEGAL Reasons. As noted in No. 1 and No. 2 above.


(rodney smith) #18

The problem with this post is that the writer is sharing his personal views , and not a thus said the Lord. In the beginning, marriage was both made and designed for one man and one woman .If we don’t accept that as Seventh-day Adventist , than we are without a compass to talk about this topic. When Adam sinned , all his children were predestined to sin . Again, the law of nature, and this cannot be changed till Jesus comes. Our only hope is a changed life through accepting Jesus as Lord. Our personal feelings that everyone should be accepted and love is fair . But like the woman in St. John 8:1-12 , Jesus told her to go and sin no more . Is Mr. Williams gone so far in his thinking that now he feels that homosexuality is not a sin ? God loves people. His motive is to always save before judgement should come . This point is brought out in Gen18&19. Abraham requested that two sinful cities be saved if 10 righteous could be found. The number 10 is never used in the bible to refer to a number less than 10. So Abraham knew that 10 righteous resided in those cities because they had left out from his tent. Lot had two single daughters, and three married daughters Gen 19:12-14 (sons in laws). I said all that to say that it is the lives we live as Christians that God uses to protect others. Thousands died because Christians did not live up to their calling. Marriage is only between one man and one woman . Amen.


(Patti Cottrell Grant) #19

Dear Lynden Williams, thank you so much for this beautiful article that absolutely pulsates with the love of Jesus Christ. These are questions that I have been asking for many years. He requires that we Love One Another as He Has Loved Us. How do we dare to shame and shun LGBTQ people and deny them acceptance, fellowship and baptism? They are the Children of God as are any of the countless millions that He created in His own image, including us.

To those concerned about determining what is and what it not “the meaning of marriage” I say don’t worry. God knows the difference and He will work it out in His Own Sacred Time. Where in the Bible do we read that He needs our pathetic human efforts to determine which of the others do or do not “deserve” Heaven? NONE of us deserve Heaven. God alone can read the impulses of our hearts, and we continue to judge one another at the peril of our souls.


#20

So which is it? You cant advocate for it on the first quote and then say thats not what its about in the second.


(Bb Yeaton) #22

That is so not true.

In 1970, way before Focus on the Family even existed, the first lawsuit on behalf of gay marriage was brought by the ALCU, I believe, and was practically laughed out of the court. The gay movement beat the drum for over 25 more years, and finally won a trial case in Hawaii. It was non other than The Supreme Court that overruled and nullified that case. It was Congress and William Jefferson Clinton who instituted the Defense of Marriage Act. Very. Secular. Entities.

Please, try to be more accurate.

And what has been said here about judging is also false. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “judge not less ye be judged” and several moments later he implores His followers—“You better judge those false teachers”. Judging in the sense of rendering the final verdict on a soul is what is prohibited. Not the healthy practice of discerning truth from error! In a fellowship of believers, the Lord tells us to go to the believer who is in error, confront the sin, bring witnesses, etc. Reason and counsel that you may win them back to the truth. This is the proper definition of judging that Jesus calls the believer to engage in. It is how we corporately stand for and maintain truth and how the church meets its mission of being a pillar of truth. A teacher and a church who refuse to do this loses its saltiness and its Lampstand.


#23

Baptism in Romans 6:6 says 'that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin '. If one goes into baptism with no repentance of a sinful lifestyle, and with plans of continuing that lifestyle after baptism, then I would suggest that the baptismal candidate only got wet, not baptized. The pastor, committed with the responsibility of instruction about what baptism means, failed there calling.


(Kim Green) #24

“Where does God fit into all of this?”

“God is love.”

I don’t see “God” in your response at all and that you think that you are representing Him is perfectly frightening and sad. But then, again, there are other commenters here that think/feel the same…