Faith or Fractions

I couldn’t be the only one investing on the relationship. But I did try hard. I called and she would cut the conversation short. I’d ask her to hang out and she was always too busy. I would offer to come over and it was always “a bad time”. Fine. I could take a hint. That was the end of our friendship. After I moved away, I found other friends. Over time she had truly faded from my regular thoughts. But one day I got a call from a vaguely familiar number. “Can we talk?” To say I was surprised would be an understatement! But I obliged her. I never would’ve guessed what she wanted to tell me. She had finally decided to end her relationship—not a friendship--but a toxic abusive relationship with a man she’d been with for over a decade. She had stopped hanging out because he demanded to know her whereabouts at all times. She didn’t have the ability to talk because it would end in an argument about why she was talking with other people. Friends couldn’t visit because he wanted to isolate her from everyone else. She tearfully explained that she had wanted to tell someone, but she was both afraid and ashamed.

The fear I understood. He was definitely an intimidating guy in terms of size. But ashamed? Really? “Of what?” I inquired. Her shame stemmed from her reluctance to admit that she had “failed” in choosing someone. That her relationship—and her abilities—were flawed. After all, we put a high value on being in relationships. We do so to the detriment of people’s mental and physical well-being. Romantic involvement is so ingrained that people are willing to subject themselves to abusive situations, maintain unhealthy boundaries, excessively lower their standards, and even compromise their principles to be with someone else—anyone!

This is why I’ve bristled at some of the conversations I’ve engaged in with some of my LGBT Christian friends. No one should be compelled to strive for congruence to beliefs they don’t adhere to. Let each be fully convinced in his or her own mind (Romans 14:5). So if someone is not Christian, Christian values don’t apply. Similarly, if one is truly convinced of a certain interpretation of Scripture, by all means, live in accordance with your convictions. Not every denomination sees texts the same way, and even those within our own denomination have sincere differences in their theological understanding. I respect that. However, what is insufferable is the argument that, “it just wouldn’t be fair for me not to be with someone”. That line of logic is incompatible with Christian thought. If one strives to follow after Christ and is convicted that Christ is asking them to forego something to be in His will, “it’s not fair” isn’t a real argument. But we perpetuate this line of reasoning when we act like singleness is a fate worse than death. When we act as if being in a romantic relationship is far more important than anything else –even God’s will. This was the same reasoning put forth by a friend who tried to justify having an affair. “Well, just because we happen not to be married to each other doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have what makes us happy. We were meant for each other. It wouldn’t be fair for us not to have this relationship.” Similarly, though she may not be a member of our church, this same rationale was expressed by a woman featured on the popular blog, Humans of New York: It’s better to have “a fraction” of a person than to be alone! I’ve known men and women, laity and clergy, young and old all suffer because of this mentality. It’s broken individuals and its broken homes.

Are the legacies of Jeremiah, Daniel, Paul—and even Jesus—somehow diminished because of their singleness? Obviously we wouldn’t affirm that notion. But we give the message in subtle and not so subtle ways—that this is the case for people in the 21st century. We owe it to our sisters and brothers to stop this rhetoric. Let’s start prioritizing individual wholeness over fractions of relationships.

Courtney Ray is a native New Yorker who ministers in the Greater Los Angeles Region. She is an ordained pastor serving in Southern California Conference.

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I found the essay difficult to grasp. the author uses the term relationship is so many contexts Relationship seems to expand Christain fellowship to something highly personal even intimate. To me relationship in its broadest sense is family. All other is friendship. Of course in business there are defined relationship according ro rank and duties,but that is beyond this essay. TZ


This is any where we are when we rub shoulders with another person. It is HOW they are with us when rubbing shoulders with us. We with them.

One of the issues being spoken here is the PRESSURE on persons 18 to 30, or even less, the NEED to find a life-partner. It is engrained in one’s psyche since a little pre-school child. Play house, learn all the right moves and words. Then to imitate “house play” by 25 [or college graduation]. If one doesn’t then the adults begin to wonder “what is wrong with her or him”. Parents want grand kids. Others want nieces and nephews.
And, as Courtney points out, this same Pressure is in on ALL persons regardless of WHO they are attracted to.

I find the views expressed in this piece extraordinary.
The author conflates being in an abusive relationship, with being In a loving supportive same sex relationship!

Abusive relationships are extremely prevalent in our denomination where the heinous, heretical headship dogma permeates so many levels of our denomination. Allowing the male head of the home, total domination of both wife and kids, fosters spousal abuse and in some cases sexual and emotional abuse of the children.

I was absolutely astonished when visiting one of the larger congregations in our division, to hear the associate woman pastor preach a sermon on spousal abuse. She is a dear personal friend, so later that week, I took her out to lunch, and enquired whether such a sermon was really necessary in an Adventist congregation. She informed me that her sermon outline had been sent to her by the North American division, and that numerous women with tear stained faces, had hugged her as they left the sanctuary that day.

This congregation is affluent, with a largely college/graduate degree membership. Apparently Courtney, your abused friend has many “sisters” in similar situations, who remain “ashamed” in their toxic relationships for the sake of the children or out of economic necessity!

To equate these relationships with wholesome supportive loving same sex couples defies comprehension. I know many gay couples who have been together for decades, in a loving supportive way.

I do witness widowed Adventist pastors/teachers/administrators, who are so devastated by the loss of their spouse and the resulting loneliness, that they marry the first “bimbo” who comes along, not for the sex, but for the COMPANIONSHIP.

God said, tellingly, "it is not good for man to live alone "
This applies equally to straight and gay men and to lesbians.

As my friend Pastor John McClarty of Green Lake Church Seattle, said in a recent post to his parishioners: “it is possible to run shoeless and shirtless to the top of Mount Ranier, but unlikely. In the same way to expect gay/lesbians to live in lifelong loneliness is possible, but unlikely!”

Adventists need to learn how it is to “walk in someone else’s mocassins”


One should use discernment and smarts when choosing a partner for the long haul. For Pete’s sake these are not the days when fathers can command their daughters as to whom to link up with or get married to. Women , by and large, have freedom of choice, even if certain pressures intervene (social status/class, racial, religious, personality, ad infinitum), but to be free to choose, make a bad choice, then bawl about the choice one made is not the action of a responsible adult in my opinion. On top of that, to also bypass even the legal protection offered by civil society , namely a contract of marriage is reckless in my opinion. In choosing a partner one looks for what one can live with. What works.Traditional roles can be thrown out in private. “What a lovely couple” some may say. “OOH the guy is absolutely HUNKY a woman’s dream”. Its not THEIR business if the plain wife applies corporal punishment to the hunk if he forgets to do the shopping list or if he stays out late or if she just feels like it, or vice versa with male dominant. If It can’t work, there is divorce. Even Jesus, some theologians now say got married to the strongheaded woman Mary Magdalene( suspected to be a divorcee moreover and thus hated by Judas Iscariot) to fulfil his responsibilities to leave heirs to the Judean throne . She was however a zealot , as was Judas,and left the marriage after failing to persuade Jesus to take up arms against Rome. The new group of Christians forced her into exile on the Herodian estates in France and the eucharist commemorates her carrying the messianic bloodline into Europe where her third child Joseph and his descendants made a most notable impact . The chalice represents the womb and the wine represents Jesus bloodline. Jesus did not believe in divorce, but where one party left the the marriage , the blameless other was free to act. Theologians now say Jesus subsequently married Lydia of the Thiatira virgins ( a bishop and seller of purple) This move provoked INTENSE criticism at the timed as bordering on polygamy as then understood. So NO relationship is w/out problems.

This piece leaves me confused as to what it’s about. Intimate partner abuse? Unwise romantic pairings? Adultery? LGBT couples? These things are not the same, & yet they’re all attributed to shame about singleness.

Most people do yearn to pair off in committed relationships. The Bible admits that celibacy is a gift that only some have. If we want to help people have healthy relationships, let’s do that. If we want to support people in being vibrantly single, let’s do that. I’m concerned that instead this piece (unintentionally, I believe) replaces shame about singleness with shame about the normal desire to be coupled.


What some theologians speculate about is astonishing. Where is the solid biblical and corroborating historical evidence for such stuff? Sounds more like The DaVinci Code, or the gospel of Judas, than solid, factual accounts.




The Bible says Jesus was tempted in all things as we are.So He must have been married how else would he have been tempted to kill his mother-in-law. A common temptation of most married men.


Too much emotional “arguments” for me on the LGBT side. If you say that a pedophile could use that same argument, no rational answer will be given. Instead the attack follows: “are you comparing LGBT people with pedophiles”? Which is not what follows from that argument. It is not about comparing people it is about the logic of the claim. According to this logic, how could we deny a pedophile to use the same argument?
I am against discrimination, that should go without saying. And against hateful treatment of people who have a different conviction. But I ask for the right to express my concerns without being labled homophob or so…

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Except a rational answer can be given to deny the claim of the pedophile who thinks it isn’t fair to deny him his baby rape. Pedophilia causes harm, gay marriage doesn’t. Overall, it is reasonable for a society to deny actions by individuals that harm others, and ignore those that don’t, even if they are different from what we might do.

I’m not much for labels too, but if the opinion you express has the power to cause harm to others if enough people share it, then you are going to experience blowback (sometimes indelicately expressed). You certainly have the right to express your opinion, but others have the right to vigorously tell you your opinion, if followed, causes unnecessary harm to them and to their friends and loved ones.

What has changed about all this is that previously those who thought lbgti people should be treated differently had societal support, but now they are being marginalized. The view that used to be common and respected is now often seen as harmful. It’s been a very rapid shift, and that can be tough for all of us to figure out.

I think the term “consenting adults” has a great deal of meaning for many people in deciding their stand on LGBT vs pedophiles.

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Yes. I mean, slippery slopes are wonderful things, but some are more plausible than others. I mean from a silly perspective, eating plants is a slippery slope to cannibalism, and drinking water is a slippery slope to alcoholism. But these are so different in kind as to be ridiculous.

Having sex with a sentient consenting adult, no matter how strange the sex may be, is probably qualitatively different than having sex with a child or with a crocodile or an umbrella.

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But isn’t then the real question: “does it harm?” and not: “it wouldn’t be fair for anyone not to have his wishes fullfilled…” Are we even allowed to investigate if gay marriage does harm or doesn’t?

I’d be happy to discuss this further, but you are going to have to come to the lounge. Your comment is going to be deleted (just like your last one was) since you already posted one earlier up thread :slight_smile:

oh, okay…I understand. Thank you!

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