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Thursday, May 31, 2007
Can we have some dialogue, please?
This is my first post here, and I'm struggling with it, so bear with me.

At school (I am just finishing my first year of college), gender roles, their cultural cues, and their implications societally and globally have sparked my interest this year (coming up in classes like International Politics, Anthropology, and Psychology). They interest me probably first because I don't understand them, and second because they play a huge role in our international and domestic political systems, local cultures, and individual lives (besides churches, families, etc).

The thing is, I'm not hearing much from the church on these topics, and what I do hear seems to be mostly (I'm trying not to exaggerate) hatred and bigotry. I think it is long past time for an honest conversation to take place, but three things seem to inhibit that:
-our desire to be politically correct
-finding the topics removed from real life or irrelevant
-an unwillingness to be open

Ok, so my question for all of you is this, and please read the Newsweek article if you can before responding (unless you're like an expert, which you may well be). Not that Newsweek makes you an expert, but then we'll have a little common ground in our (my) limited knowledge.

What makes gender? What, essentially, is gendered, sans culture, environment, parentage, and societal expectations? Are there any innate differences beyond anatomy separating the sexes?

750,000-3 million Americans (less than 1%, but a huge number) "feel there is a disconnect between the sex they were assigned at birth and the way they see or express themselves." How does this happen? How is it explained? One transgendered person Newsweek references is only six years old.

Furthermore, in the Olympics during the 1960s, "would-be female Olympians were required to undergo gender-screening tests. Essentially, that meant baring all before a panel of doctors who could verify that an athlete had girl parts. That method was soon scrapped in favor of a genetic test. Btu that quickly led to confusion over a handful of genetic disorders that give typical-looking women chromosomes other than the usual XX. Finally the Int'l Olympic Committee ditched the mandatory lab-based screening, too. 'We found there is no scientifically sound lab-based technique that can differentiate between man and woman,' sas Arne Ljungqvist, chair of the IOC's medical commission."

I don't know how to pray for thes issues; I don't know how to relevantly, practically love people involved in them; I don't know what the church's response should look like (other than different from what it is now); I don't know how to follow Jesus through these issues when I'm so overwhelmed and confused and hear primarily a mute or hateful church. Let alone bestiality.

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posted by pearl at 2:33 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


63 Comments:


  • At 5/31/2007 05:16:00 AM, Blogger Miz Melly

    Nice post. Good on you for bringing it up. This is something we need to discuss. I'm going to go away and think about it but one book that might be useful (I haven't read it in a while but I think could be a start for you) is Elaine Storkey's Men and Women - Created or Constructed. She's a Christian and a very wise woman. I'm not sure she totally deals with transgendered persons but it might be a start??

     
  • At 5/31/2007 05:23:00 AM, Anonymous sonja

    Cari ... you bring up some good points and some information I hadn't seen before.

    As to your confusion ... when I'm confused, I often begin at the beginning. What is my first commandment? What is the second? Then I go from there ... God is always gracious and wonderful enough to lead me through my darkness.

    It sounds as though you might be a person to begin some dialogue in your faith community after some prayer and study with some friends. No?

     
  • At 5/31/2007 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    I'm pretty sure that this is the Newsweek article Cari wants us all to read

    (Let me know if I'm wrong, Cari. :) )

    I'm not hearing much from the church on these topics

    Have you checked out gaychristian.net? If I recall correctly they have some good trans resources (i.e. discussion threads, articles), many of which talk about it from a Christian perspective.

    I'll try to have something more substantive to say later on. :)

     
  • At 5/31/2007 11:05:00 AM, Blogger cari

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 5/31/2007 11:32:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    I haven't read the Newsweek article yet, its is in my ever growing pile of to read magazines. so I won't comment much until I read it.

    But this issue isn't fully ignored in the church, it is just a hot button issue in the evangelical church that spawns a lot of emotional (usually hatefilled) rhetoric. I first really started thinking about the issue of gender when I read McLaren's The Last word and the Word After That. A character in that book has ambiguous gender which leads to a conversation on gender itself. (Jesus talks about those who were made eunuchs and those who were born eunuchs - neither male nor female even then).

    As for confusion. It is hard but it can also be a good thing. It pushes us to learn, to think, and to grow. It may mean that our whole world seems like it is falling apart as everything we thought we knew is torn apart and rethought. As painful as it is (and as jarring as each piece is shattered) I see it as being a necessary and good thing.

    More later on the issue.

     
  • At 5/31/2007 12:21:00 PM, Anonymous agma

    Thanks for calling attention to this article. I read the whole feature.

    Please let me weigh in as a pastor this time. By the time we finish seminary, we are given a list of things we must address, with compelling reasons to do so: domestic violence, addiction, the environment, gender roles, fair trade, etc.! We might even think, "yes, I'm going to do that! I will lead the way in showing how the gospel permeates all aspects of our lives, in these areas and more!"

    Then reality sets in. Maybe there is a low level of biblical literacy, a high level of depression, a congregation caught in conflict, or something else that prioritizes more basic needs in preaching and teaching. Some may find it a poor excuse, but I think of it as a kind of spiritual Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

    However, in such churches, the best way for me to dialogue or teach is by example & what arises naturally. (So, Cari, start the discussion!) "Like a girl" is not an acceptable insult anywhere, but most especially among Christians in the church, as members recently found out. Nor do I permit gay-bashing no matter how deep homophobia runs. It's not easy being on my toes for these opportunities and trusting in that promise that the Spirit's gonna give me the words when I need them. I would sure love to have a more orderly discussion in the church rather than piecemeal, so please let me know when we're all getting what we want, ok? ;)

     
  • At 5/31/2007 03:02:00 PM, Blogger Amie

    I just finished writing a presentation for a conference that I will be speaking at June 13th and it is titled, "Peace Between the Sexes". I go into the development of gender and gender roles per the bible story, and how it is that we can all be different, and the statement in Galatians 3:28 be true ("..there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus"). As well, I will share an idea that might help build bridges between us.

    The conference is in Atlanta. If anyone is interested, here's the info: http://www.presence.tv/cms/2007brochure.php

    If you can't make it, and are interested, I'll be posting it somewhere online following the conference and will definately share it here.

    This is very important in my opinion.

     
  • At 5/31/2007 03:06:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    I have nothing to add from personal knowledge or experience, not right now anyway. Other than I ran across ,THIStoday, which is about a transgendered pastor right in my area...here is an excerpt:A year ago, the Rev. Ann Gordon received her routine reappointment as minister of a Charles Village Methodist congregation.

    Yesterday - after undergoing a sex-change operation and taking on a new symbolic name - the Rev. Drew Phoenix received another one-year contract to head St. John's United Methodist Church.


    I have not read the article but thought I'd place it here for general consumption.....

     
  • At 5/31/2007 03:13:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    http://www.rmnetwork.org/

    Here is a site that might offer some help as well, not wure. Its called the reconciling ministries network. From their site:
    The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is a growing movement of United Methodist individuals, congregations, campus ministries, and other groups working for the full participation of all people in the United Methodist Church.

    As of December 2006, the RMN encompasses 227 Reconciling Congregations, 28 Reconciling Campus Ministries, and 39 other Reconciling Communities and Ministries. There are over 18,000 Reconciling United Methodists.

    We grew out of Affirmation, United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns

     
  • At 5/31/2007 04:26:00 PM, Anonymous becky garrison

    Also check out Joan Roughgarden's book Evolution's Rainbow http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10139.html. Joan is a transgendered Episcopalian who has a real spritual depth to her.

    I haven't read this book but I did read Evolution and Christian Faith for an upcoming book that I am penning.

     
  • At 5/31/2007 07:13:00 PM, Anonymous Dan

    I think one of the big things that makes dealing with the LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual transexual)community so difficult is how deeply it's a question not just of lifestyle, but of identity. If somebody is struggling with, say, pornography, it's something they do, not something they are. But with LGBT people, their gender identity and sexuality is an intrinsic part of their identity (much in the same way as my male gender and my heterosexuality is an intrinsic part of my identity and who I think I am). Not only that, but the LGBT community is a *community* There's many people who, all their life, have felt like they've had to be ashamed of a huge part of who they are, had to keep it hidden, had to deal with being called "fag" and "freak" and being bullied and picked on and harrassed and feeling they can never be honest about it or risk being thrown out of their church and their home.
    Then they find people who accept them and love them without trying to change them, who don't make them feel ashamed or afraid to be honest about who they are, people who make them feel like they're not alone or weird.
    And they might find a person that they develop an immensely close relationship to, and have a relationship that in many ways closely reflects the beautiful romantic relationships we see in heterosexual couples.

    To be told that their homosexuality is wrong and sinful (or worse, to be told that it's an "abomination" and "disgusting") is not, in the case of something like pornography, just telling somebody that something they take pleasure in is sinful and destructful. It's telling them that the love they feel and recieve for their partner, and the acceptance and friendship they have found in the LGBT community are bad and wrong, and that they (because they are gay or transexual or whatever) are bad and wrong, and will be until they change.

    Obviously, this puts the church in a tough position, because you can't read the Bible and decide homosexuality isn't a sin (unless you decide to just ignore the parts of the Bible you don't like, which is very very dangerous). But the church is currently viewed by most LGBT people as full of hateful, narrow-minded bigots, and while most church members aren't running around quoting verses from Leviticus about how homosxuals are evil (or, using those verses as a bumper sticker: http://www.bustedhalo.com/features/ChristianBumperCars.htm), there's still a lot of anti-homosexual sentiment in the church, and it's fairly easy for the gay community to pick up on that.

    Widespread Christian opposition to gay marriage for one thing (which really doesn't make sense to me--if you want to protect the sanctity of marriage how about doing something about the 50% divorce rate or the huge number of couples who live together instead of getting married, or the parents who are emotionally abusive or distant. Gay marriage doesn't have victims. Broken familes do.), or decisions to cast homosexuals who aren't ready to leave their partners out of the church (whereas businessmen who work all the time to pull in huge sums of money and who don't have any time for their kids get placed on church board of trustees, despite the fact that their lifestyle is also obviously sinful)

    The things I was saying about how the LGBT community is the first place many LGBT feel welcomed and loved and not ashamed of themselves? The church should be the first place people feel loved. It's not and that makes me sad and angry.

    I don't think it's the Church's role to enforce morality. That's the Holy Spirit's job, because He can actually convict people of sin. The church can usually only shame or guilt-trip people into behaving, and usually just wind up driving people away. I think it's our role to show God's love to people through loving them the way God would love them, and through that letting them meet God and beginning a relationship with Him. Out of that relationship can eventually come repentance and conviction, and that's where true morality comes from, not us enforcing it.

    So I think that we need dialouge, but the dialouge should more between the church and the LGBT homosexual community, not as much amongst the church about the "others." It should be the church going to the LGBT community to apologize for how we've hurt them, how we've failed them, and to dialouge about how we can love them and meet their needs.

     
  • At 5/31/2007 08:14:00 PM, Blogger Linda

    Dan, I appreciate your sensitive response to this issue, and I most emphatically agree with your statement that the church has failed the LGBT community and also that we are hypocritical in making this the biggest sin of all when we let slide the workaholics, gluttons, and gossips serving on our church leadership boards and teams.

    I'm not sure how we start a better dialogue with the LGBT community, but I suspect that the church will not accomplish this on a large scale through national or international spokespeople. It seems more probable that the conversation will begin with individuals and local churches that want to bridge the gap that the broader church has created.

    Cari, last year I heard a podcast interview by Brian McLaren (and someone else, I believe) in which he (they) interviewed a number of gay Christians. It was a good start at having Christians listen to their brothers and sisters without an agenda to point out sin, and it was enlightening for the straight Christian community. I wish I could remember where I heard it and how to point you in the right direction. Has anyone else heard this interview?

    Cari, your questions are good. I am greatly encouraged by the people of your generation that are not afraid to struggle through the questions and see that they may not have the whole answer figured out immediately. This kind of humility gives me hope for the church.

     
  • At 6/01/2007 09:34:00 AM, Anonymous Karen

    As a Christian who has same-sex attractions (but is now celibate), I have been encouraged by the change in tone in many churches toward the LGBT community. I've noticed churches are more grace oriented now than, say, 10-15 years ago. Though there is still a long way to go.

    On the flip side, a different problem I have noticed is churches who don't want to talk about homosexuality from the pulpit--like Rick Warren--believing that this is more respectful by not singling anyone out. I know the intention is good, but its actually offensive. To think that our "issue" as gay people is too controversial to even mention. So many of us have suffered in silence in church because it wasn't okay to talk about--people were so condemning. Now the message is that its still not okay to talk about.

    Some months ago I spoke on homosexuality and the church in an emerging church to complement the sermon the pastor had given on what the Bible says. Later a couple of gay people told the pastor they wanted to be a part of the church because, even though the church did not condone homosexuality, at least it was being talked about in a respectful way. At least our existence was being acknowledged.

    In regards to gender--I think this is such an important topic for the church. I believe the conservative Christian community (ala Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) can actually contribute to gender confusion. As a girl who was naturally inclined to intellectual pursuits, adventure and competition, I was told by the fundamentalist culture I grew up in that there was something wrong with me. Girls weren't supposed to be that way. I was supposed to be "gentle and quiet." This caused me a lot of confusion about my gender and shame that I was deficient as a girl. The message was that if I had desires to teach and lead, etc I was somehow masculine.

    Anyway, great thread . . .

     
  • At 6/01/2007 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    Dan - you wrote Obviously, this puts the church in a tough position, because you can't read the Bible and decide homosexuality isn't a sin (unless you decide to just ignore the parts of the Bible you don't like, which is very very dangerous)."

    There are many in christianity and many here on this blog who strongly disagree with that statement. Those who do not see homosexuality as a sin are often very committed to the bible and are not just throwing out the parts they do not like. Just because someone has an intellectually valid interpretation of scripture that is different than your reading thereof does not mean that they are throwing out parts of the bible. To use such an unfounded accusation just prohibits real dialogue and promotes the continued disconnect/fear of the LGTB community.

     
  • At 6/01/2007 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Miz Melly

    Thanks for making that point Julie.

     
  • At 6/01/2007 01:44:00 PM, Blogger marilyn

    I'm not sure which churches you people are attending, but in the past 20 years of church attendance I have never heard any 'hate-filled rhetoric' coming from the pulpit in regard to homosexuality or gender issues. I have,on the flip side, heard plenty of hate-filled rhetoric coming from the gay community toward christians, the church, and anyone who does not wholeheartedly endorse alternative lifestyles. Most of the mainstream media--including CNN and Newsweek --take great delight in portraying the conservative christian community as an uneducated, bigotted, and discriminatory bunch of rednecks, while the gay and alternative population are promoted as the voices of tolerance and reason.

    It seems ludicrous to suggest that transgender disorder is an 'issue' that needs to be addressed by the church; on compassionate grounds as a severe psychological illness, maybe, as a topic for consideration as a viable lifestyle, definitely not. Science has given us direct information on many other genetic diseases such as schizophrenia, depression and alcoholism but I doubt very much that any of you would consider the manifestation of these disorders as a 'lifestyle' to be viewed as normal, or as an issue for theological debate.

    I do agree with much of what Dan says, particularly about the church not being a safe place, but I have to disagree with his comments on gay marriage; an attitude of resignation toward the destructive influences of the gay agenda is not a way for the church to promote love for the gay community itself. To argue that the high divorce rate, common-law relationships and emotionally distant businessmen somehow cancel out the problems associated with gay marriage is simply ridiculous; and to assert that gay marriage has no victims is to blatantly deny the degenerative cultural influence the gay community has inflicted on society as a whole.

    Our kids are growing up in a cultural, spiritual, moral and sexual wasteland, and we as christian parents have failed to communicate even the basics of a christian worldview. Our 'seeker friendly' churches have watered down the gospel and political correctness has infiltrated our christian schools and universities.
    No wonder Cari is confused.

    Most of us have friends or relatives affected by sexual or gender confusion. A good friend of mine who is gay said to me that homosexuality is less about relationshops and all about sex. He is honest enough to admit that he is troubled about the lack of shame he feels, because he knows intrinsically that it is wrong. (Science has still been unable to reconcile conscience with the evolutionary process--go figure.)As far as gender disorder goes, those parents who allowed their 2 year old and 6 year old children to live as the opposite sex should be tested for terminal stupidity. When my oldest son was two years old and wanted to be a mother, I did'nt go out and buy him dresses and dolls--I explained the difference between men and women. At two, most children have never even thought about gender differences, much less be considered 'gender confused.'

    Our society as a whole operates on a level of ignorance that is almost criminally negligent. For instance, there is credible research that children who have been sexually abused and come from female single-parent homes have a much higher incicidence of homosexuality than children who come from two-parent traditional families with no incidence of abuse. Exposure to pornography at an early age is also another indicator linked to sexual confusion or sexual deviance. A counsellor friend of mine who works with children has told me many times that she has never counselled a transgender or homosexual child who did not have one or more familial or cultural predictors present, and she's been a counsellor for 18 years.

    Discussion of transgender disorder
    in a church setting is all well and good, provided that the intent is for the discovery of the truth about what God says about it, or for ways to minister effectively to people who suffer from it--but not as a vehicle for promotion or acceptance of sexual diversity as a reasonable lifestyle option.

    marilyn

     
  • At 6/01/2007 02:33:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Marilyn - thank you for expressing your opinion here. But when you say - "Discussion of transgender disorder
    in a church setting is all well and good, provided that the intent is for the discovery of the truth about what God says about it, or for ways to minister effectively to people who suffer from it--but not as a vehicle for promotion or acceptance of sexual diversity as a reasonable lifestyle option.
    " and call people who think otherwise "ludicrous" you fail to understand where people who are not you are coming from.

    Dissenting opinions are encouraged here, but can we please stop name-calling and saying that no discussion is even needed because the other side is just plain wrong?

     
  • At 6/01/2007 03:42:00 PM, Anonymous Karen

    Marilyn, I agree that the negativity can go both ways. That is, there are plenty in the gay community who are hostile toward Christians just as there are Christians hostile toward gays. I did want to say though that I suspect the reason you have not heard any negative comments about homosexuals in "20 years" of church is because this is not something you have experienced personally and so don't pick up on the things that are said in a way that a gay person would.

    The odd thing is that I agree with you that homosexuality/gender confusion is not what God wants (which is why I choose to be chaste and devote myself to Jesus no matter the costs)--however, I feel quite alienated by your tone. I can tell by listening to you that you have garnered your opinions from the usual conservative literature. For example you state that homosexuality is about sex more than relationships. Perhaps for some--just as it is for some heteros, but I can attest to the fact that my past relationships with women were primarily about a deep, meaningful heart connection of which sex was a mere aspect.

    Its interesting that the first thing you do in your comment is to disregard what others have said. The experience of many is that they have been hurt by the church. Just because you haven't noticed anything yourself, doesn't invalidate other people's experiences.

    If I were going to your church, I wouldn't feel safe talking to you about my struggles, based on what you have put here. That is unfortunate, since you seem like an intelligent person with a lot to offer as a follower of Jesus.

    On another more general note, I wanted to qualify my previous comment. First I regret mentioning Warren's name since I don't think its fruitful to point out people like that. Besides Warren has done a lot of great things to be open and caring toward gay people, including having the large HIV conference. So, I am sorry for mentioning him.

    Also, even though I have experienced pain in the church at times, I also think it is so important to forgive. The church is full of imperfect people, including myself. Its not okay to hang on to the anger. That is something I had to own and resolve. And even though I have been subjected to hostile comments or jokes about gay people, there are many, many wonderful Christians who have loved me and been there for me. I have had more positive experiences than negative and for that I am grateful.

     
  • At 6/01/2007 06:20:00 PM, Blogger cari

    Ok, I'm not quite sure the rules of posting back (if there are any) when you're the person who started the thread, so I'll just make them up. Feel free to offer future advice, anyone.

    First, sorry about the 35 (hundred) or so grammatical errors. You probably noticed, but I posted kind of late, or early, if that is any excuse. Right, so.

    Miz Melly: I put Elaine Storkey's Men and Women: Created or Constructed on my book list for this summer. Thanks.

    Sonja: Beginning with a desire to love God back, or learning to love God back, or trying to figure out what on earth that means- yeah, that's a good reminder. Start at the beginning. It's really a relief, because in the end, we don't need answers, we need love. And yes, I hope I become a person who starts dialogue in my community through prayer and study and love. Dialogue over this, and dialogue over all kinds of issues. Thank you for the encouragement.

    Lydia: I spent an hour or two looking at gaychristian.net last night, and, even though I'm probably more confused, it was really good to hear from other people who want to love Jesus on sexuality, and hear about it from a different perspective. Thank you for posting the link.

    Julie: McLaren's book is on my reading list now. I agree, in principle, that confusion is good, but in practice, I'll be honest, I hate confusion. The more I learn, the more questions I seem to have- in all subjects. And I think I understand logically that this is a good thing, but sometimes I wish I thought the world was black and white, because it seems like it'd be easier... if not in tune with reality. In the end, though, I don't want to be standing on anything other than Him, and this shattering is hopefully leading to that. Thanks for the truth in your comment.

    Agma: I just learned about Maslow's hierarchy of needs in psychology this week. (ha, gotta love connections:) ) I appreciate your words (it's good to hear from a pastor!), and yes, may we be people who start dialogue and conversation, and not just depend on our leaders to.

    Amie: I live quite far from Atlanta but am interested in reading more from your "Peace Between the Sexes" presentation. I am also curious about how gender roles developed in the Bible.

    Janice: thank you for contributing the article and website link; both are worth checking out.

    Becky Garrison: I added Joan's book to my list, thanks (and good luck on the one you're writing!).

    Dan: (actually Daniel lives in the suite next to me, also a 19 year old- so I've kind of already told him my thoughts). First, I'm not proposing that we in the church get into a huddle and talk about "other" kinds of people, at all. I'm merely suggesting that conversation (which maybe has already started for all of you) start somewhere, and branch out. I think a lot of what you had to say was relevant, but my original question on this is actually, "What exactly is gendered?" Is a maternal instinct gendered, evolved and imprinted into human beings, human females? Is a need for conflict genetically coded into males? And if some things are explicitly gendered, what does it mean (scientifically, emotionally, spiritually) to be transgendered? How can I best understand this, and how I can most love transgendered people, without putting a great separation between them and myself? And Julie is right, many people take scripture seriously and come to different conclusions regarding homosexuality. Essentially, I think gender roles perhaps play an unequaled role in sexuality and sexual orientation and transgender(ism?) which is one of many reasons why they're worth discussing.

    Linda: if you find that interview, could you post the link? It sounds really interesting and helpful. Thank you for your encouragement. May we be people we struggle through questions and embrace mystery.

    Karen: I really appreciate your posts, maybe because you seem very tender to me, and I want my heart to be like that, too. And you're right- I don't think ignoring these issues is any better (although maybe more respectful) than attacking those involved- which is probably the reason why I'm tentatively trying to start conversations and probably offending a lot of people around me. And yeah- we do need to acknowledge these issues- I'm trying to be someone willing to do that. I read Lauren Winner's book, Real Sex, and was like, "That's totally true! I'm never discussed or prayed about masturbation with any other females in the church!" I think a lot of sexuality, especially anything other than heterosexuality, has been labeled taboo and swept under the rug. But these are real people, and real issues, and they have real effects. And gender confusion- exactly! Obviously we know that girls can be intellectual, or boys emotional, or whatever, even if these traits and others are sometimes, or in some cultures, looked down upon (or worse)- but this takes me back to my original questions- is there anything innately gendered that has not been created by society or culture? Anyway, thanks so much for your contributions and your grace.

    Marilyn: I'm slightly overwhelmed at your post (although it's good to hear from different veins) mainly because it seems to hail from one distinct Christian worldview... I could be totally wrong, but what I mean is, it seems like your thoughts have not been challenged much. Contrary to what you may have inferred, I indeed have spent some time in what you may deem "Christian worldview" (as if there is one universal Christian worldview) type churches. I am curious what you mean by "watering down the gospel," because your gospel comes off as so extremely culturally defined. Also, going back to my original question- if your oldest son, at 2, wanted to be a mother, what exact differences between men and women did you explain to him (that were not cultural)? What, in your opinion, are the innate differences between men and women, that leave room for tomboys and boys who play with Barbies, male pacifists and female soldiers, etc? Or perhaps they don't? I hope my tone here is not offensive, because I am genuinely asking what kinds of differences you see between the sexes. I'd really appreciate hearing your thoughts on that.

    In terms of "hate-filled" rhetoric, if you really want a list or something, let me know, and I'll send you the names of churches in a few different states where I have heard words of bigotry and hatred towards the LGBT community.

    As far as Newsweek, I actually find Newsweek to be fairly balanced in their portrayal and perceptions of the Christian community. Like Karen, I think hatred and intolerance has flown from all sides. And actually, there is some research right now about what exactly triggers sexual attraction and orientation, as well as gender orientation (although you're right, as far as I know, no firm evidence for a "gay gene" has been discovered). Could you quantify what you perceive the "gay agenda" to be?

    I don't think Dan meant that the problems associated with high divorce rate, common-law relationships, and emotionally distant businessmen somehow cancel out the problems associated with gay marriage. I think, instead, he was pointing out that we get caught up in hot issues- and start to label some sin as worse than other sin. I think what he was saying is that, if we really want to change, it can't begin with legislation, but with our own hearts- the whole "why look at a speck in your brother's eye when there is a plank in your own?" thing. It is interesting that your counselor friend has always seen a familial or predictor in every homosexual or transgender child she has worked with. I'm quite interested in looking at any research (apparently a lot, since most of us are "criminally negligent" in our ignorance) done on that.

    As far as your gay friend, his sentiments toward his relationships with other men being more about sex than companionship quite reflect the sentiments I often feel about dating. I think any relationship appealing to me at this point would be for sex and probably not much else- and since I decided to practice chastity a couple of years ago (until or unless I get married), for me, dating right now is just a scene I'm steering clear of. I mean really, is his confession that extraordinary? The only difference between him and me is that he practices what his flesh wants- and the only difference enabling me not to is grace (which is available to him, too).

    Thanks again everybody. I was really rather intimidated at posting here (my friend Jenelle told me I should), but I am so overwhelmed and grateful for your support and exchange. This is a great blog. peace.

     
  • At 6/01/2007 07:04:00 PM, Blogger medium guy

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 6/01/2007 09:40:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Karen, the way you shared is very moving. I am curious: if your relationships in the past were about love and connection, what about them do you think God finds distasteful?

    Philip Yancy talks about how in the OT anything outside the norm was considered unclean/an abomination. That's not anything new -- we're all scared of what seems abnormal or alien. But it seems to me that in Christ all things are conciled to God, and perfect love casts out fear. Oh yes, and wasn't there something Jesus said about if we God and love our neighbor as ourselves that we've fulfilled the law? So I think maybe Paul was stll struggling to figure out his own theology in the midst of his cultural/religious hangups, but gosh, who isn't still struggling to figure out his or her theology in midst of cultural and theological hangups? Why must we pin our lives on Paul getting it perfect?

    To me to reduce marriage-love to a matter to the proper genitals, rather than a more wholistic complementarity strikes me as rather crude and reductionist.

    I am sort of Jungian when it comes to my understanding of gender, in that I think there are male and female energies, and I think the ratios of these energies very from individual to individual. From what I have observed in gay couples, usually one is more feminine and one is more masculine, so that the energies remain in some overall balance, regardless in the ratio in each person and their sex/gender makeup.

     
  • At 6/01/2007 11:51:00 PM, Blogger marilyn

    Well Julie, why don't you tell me where you stand on this issue?

    You made some statements about my comments that were incorrect; the only name-calling I used was directed towards the parents of the 'gender-confused' children mentioned in the article and I am not inclined to be penitent for it. The words 'ludicrous' and 'ridiculous' were used to describe my own feelings, which I believe I am allowed to have.

    I did not say that the church should not discuss these issues, I said that dialogue intended to promote the viability of transgender/alternative lifestyles was not necessary.

    Karen, my heated tone was due to the content of the article Cari wanted us to consider. As a mother and grandmother I am greatly concerned about the mess we are leaving for the next generation. I'm also very tired of the militant gay community who insist on forcing their agenda on the church. The Bible is very clear on what God thinks about sexual deviance--the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was not a cosmic accident.

    You are correct in your assumption that same-sex attraction is not something I have experienced; however, I have struggled with equally serious issues, and I know what it feels like to be judged and executed by the church community.
    I also have friends and family who are gay or have struggled with their sexual orientation--and they find me compassionate and easy to talk to, and yes, they know where I stand.

    I'm asking you not to judge me by my writing style--I confess to a penchant for 'stirring the pot.' Creating debate is a good way for us to reinforce our own beliefs and learn more about each other. I'm also passionate about our youth and the difficult culture they have to grow up in.

    I'm actually unfamiliar with 'the usual conservative literature.' My information comes directly from an on-going study of the school-age children in my own community, conducted by the psychology department of our local (secular) university. I know several of the researchers personally.

    Thanks for taking the time to draft such a detailed response. I have the utmost respect for your choice of celibacy and the difficult life that entails. Your maturity and compassionate spirit are evident in the way you write.

    Thanks again,
    Marilyn

     
  • At 6/02/2007 02:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    Hi,

    I come at this topic from a somewhat different perspective to most commenters... I'm a trans woman. So what have I to say about gender? Well, surprisingly little. For much of the first 40 years of my life, gender dominated my thoughts. For the last 9 years I have been celebrating a freedom from that obsession.

    Wait for the finish of this paragraph before you jump on me... I think that there is sin involved in Transgender. First there is the sin of a fallen world, where things go wrong with the body and what we call the mind. Secondly, there has been the sin of highly seperated genders, much of it formed around the exertion of oppression and dominance.

    So I felt out of sorts with my old body and gender identity. I sensed, at a very deep part of me, that I was a woman. But why did that dissonance between my body and sense of identity hurt so much, to the point of considering suicide? I am also a thin woman trapped in a fat body, yet I can handle that... I couldn't handle the dysphoria of transsexuality. We have created a world where binaries (and gender is only one of those) divide and oppress people - that, I think, is sinful.

    Sometimes, you have to make the best of a bad job, you have to find where your pilgrimage with God goes from where you ARE not from where you wish you were..

    Now, how would I like to be treated? For, from the answer to that question, Cari, will come the answer to the question of how you pray about this all.

    I am a professional woman, I help adults learn and develop professionally. I'm good at that and many professionals are glad to have met me. I would like to be treated as a professional person, hugely flawed, yes, but someone who has much to give. I do not want to be treated as a trans woman. I'm just a teacher, a friend, a neighbour, an encourager, a fool, a crosspatch... the list goes on including many good and bad traits that all the readers and commentators will recognise from their own lives.

    I'm just a person who has struggled through more grief and confusion than most people face. But, in that struggle I met a God of grace and love. That God reached down to me in amidst the struggle, used the struggle to bless me and make 'His' grace more perfect in my weakness. I'm through the worst now, and I enjoy being treated by my friends and colleagues with the love, support, praise and criticism that my actions deserve.

    Ann Onymous

     
  • At 6/02/2007 06:38:00 AM, Blogger medium guy

    Marilyn,

    I share your concern that the world is going farther and farther astray due to lack of adherence to a particular scripture from Leviticus.

    I am shocked and appalled that so many people rationalize the wearing of garments sewn from more than one kind of thread. When my son expressed a desire to wear a poly/lycra blended shirt, I took him aside and explained the difference between "cotton" and "wool."

    No wonder people are so confused as to what to put on each day - we Christians have failed in providing good examples, teaching, and direction in this area.

    Good thing there are people like me whom God has equipped to stand up against this abomination.

     
  • At 6/02/2007 10:19:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    Marilyn - thank you for clarifying your thoughts. But when you say things like - I did not say that the church should not discuss these issues, I said that dialogue intended to promote the viability of transgender/alternative lifestyles was not necessary." it's kinda hard to have a conversation. You say that the conversation is not necessary, and to even consider it is ludicrous. You are welcomed to your opinion. I was asking that you explain your ideas instead of essentially telling everyone to shut-up because the conversation shouldn't be occuring in the first place. But obviously (as with many things in christianity) the permission giving conversation that allows questioning and thinking outside of traditional cultural boxes (and still very much inside the faith) needs to occur first.

     
  • At 6/02/2007 05:37:00 PM, Blogger cari

    Ann Onymous,

    Thank you for posting. Thank you for your vulnerability and for being graceful toward me as I ask these questions and struggle through shades of grey. It's humanizing and valuable and beautiful to hear a real story. Will you pray I learn to love people better, wherever they are coming from?

    May His peace cover you and His love dwell between your shoulders.

     
  • At 6/02/2007 06:10:00 PM, Anonymous Karen

    Jemila--you ask a good question. Indeed, if there was love and connection in my lesbian relationships--what is the problem? That is a question I wrestled with for about 10 years. Ultimately, my decision came down to this: the Spirit of God in me is telling me not to engage in homosexual relationships. You can read more of my story at:

    http://pursuegod.wordpress.com/2007/05/12/how-far-will-we-go/

    In essence, I cannot ascribe to the Jungian/unisex view. In fact, for me it presents the same dilemma as the fundamentalist position. The fundamentalist culture said that my attributes of ambition, competition, intellectual pursuit etc--were male. So also the Jungian view forces me to attribute aspects of myself as being somehow male/masculine to account for who I am.

    I believe that I am 100% feminine/female and all those traits that culture tries to discount in me as male are simply primitive understandings of what male and female are. I am ambitious and adventurous not because that is a masculine part of me, but because those are human traits and as a female I can be those things.

    There is something profound and mysterious about male and female that I cannot explain. I too believe that reducing it all to genitals is primitive. Male and female is more than biology. Recently, I was speaking with a Jewish lesbian rabbi. She and her partner had a small son. She reported that when she found out they were going to have a boy she was a bit scared because she knew he would need something in addition to what she could provide. She knew he needed male influence. She worried how, in her primarily female social group, how she could make sure her son had men in his life. Why did it matter? Because gender matters. Even psychological research bears the evidence of this. In some mysterious way that I don't understand fathers in their maleness contribute to the development of their daughters and sons in a way that is different than mom. Likewise, women offer something different than the man. This is the profound beauty and value of gender in that they each contribute something.

    I see homosexuality in some sense, a rejection of the opposite gender. There is a disharmony in it. A spiritual imbalance of a yin/yin or yang/yang, so to speak. In some mysterious way the yin and yang of male and female in relationship has balance and meaning. Because maleness and femaleness is not just resident in the body nor only resident in the inner self--but is both found in body and inner self as a whole.

    The problem with fundamentlist view is that it reduces male and female to body parts only and so resorts to primitive stereotypes about masculinity and feminity. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Jungian view ignores the body and reduces male and female to the inner self/spirit. We are both spirit and body. The Self is comprised of both. Lilian Calles Barger in her book "Eve's Revenge" makes the point: What do our bodies tell us about our Selves? I think transgenderism is a form of self-rejection. A rejection of the body Self. What is needed is not surgery to artificially change the outside to fit the inside, but to reconcile one's inside with what our natural created bodies tell us about ourselves.

    I saw a very moving photo exhibit called "Transformations" of post surgery transgendered men and women. A common theme of the male to female participants is that they felt they could not express their sensual, caring nurturing sides as men--that they needed to become women to do this. I think this is the fault of our culture denying men their natural human needs. In other countries men can hold hands, cry openly, etc. When one of my co-workers was living in micronesia, he saw men "cuddling" on the beach--not because they were gay, but because men also have the need for touch and nurture. Men are not somehow female or feminine because they have this human need or ability anymore than I am somehow masculine for being ambitious.

    I believe the unisex theories and the fundamentalist theories both devalue the amazing creation that we are. Male and female cannot be reduced to primitive stereotypes--they are too mysterious for that. Yet, in its mystery, it is also evident that gender matters. The challenge then is to embrace who God made us body *and* spirit both and not to detach them from each other in some kind of gnostic way. Christianity teaches the inner self and body are both good and both are to be regenerated. We do not escape our bodies. Our bodies matter, just as our inner self does. We are not whole isolating one from the other.

    Male and female is good--its just hard to see that with how much it has been distorted, damaged, and abused in our world.

     
  • At 6/03/2007 05:22:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Disclaimer - I do not know any transgendered people personally, I don't not know their personal struggles, so I am only speaking from my uneducated opinion.

    I do have to wonder if a part (not everything, but a part) of the gender identity issue does have to do with the cultural assumptions regarding gender roles. So many more men seek sex changes than do women. more and more these days, women are not restricted to cultural stereotypes regarding gender roles but men are. Men are expected to be certain ways are face ridicule if they are not. So I have to wonder if men were given the same freedoms of identity as many women are these days, if there would be so many men wanting to change genders. But I have seen how much resistance there is to changing gender stereotypes (for women and men). People assume that gender roles are god given and absolute, and its a slow uphill battle to change those opinions. So can we really ever expect culture to change to the point where men as men can participate in life in ways that are labeled feminine without facing ridicule and pain? What is more loving to force them to live as outcasts because they don't fit a stereotype or to allow them to live culturally in peace doing the things they were born being passionate about?

     
  • At 6/04/2007 08:14:00 AM, Blogger Lori

    Julie, I think your final question highlights a central issue to this entire discussion. Regardless of the source of gender conflict (inborn, conditioned, a result of the fall, etc.) God's shalom is available to all. How do we, then, as individuals and as a community, help create a space in our own "sphere of influence" which fosters that shalom?

    It's clear from Cari's post that there's a whole spectrum of discomfort with gender identities--starting with my 8-year-old daughter wishing she could be a boy for simple reasons (girls can't melt their initials into the snow as easily as boys, you know) to significant internal conflict resulting in switched sexual orientation to surgical reversals, etc. At each step along the way, relational and societal pressures can either exacerbate the problem, or at the very least relieve it a bit. Most frequently, we won't know if an individual suffers with these questions. But how can we be the sort of person who contributes to a sense of freedom for others?

    For my myself, and my daughter as well, I've tried to think of myself first as Lori, then as woman. And I'd like to be able to extend that beyond our family--allowing each person to be fully who they were created to be, with gender a part of that, but not the sum of it.

    What are other ideas you all might have?

     
  • At 6/04/2007 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Well, it looks like I have missed a good discussion. I admit, that I have just skimmed the comments this morning. I hope to read it more deeply later. I thought I would throw out my 2 cents. I too have thought in the past that "the Bible was clear" about homosexuality etc. However, I have read many books about this topic, and I personally feel it is not as obvious as we would think. McLaren's book certainly made me think in a different direction. I have also read a book "What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality" (sorry can't remember the author). There are a few other books where this is not the main topic, but it is still discussed. Some of the books I have gotten a lot out of are those that are written by Biblical Scholars. My favorite right now, and who we are reading in August is Bart Erhman who wrote "Misqoting Jesus".

    I realize that in the Christian world there are many diverse opinions and translations etc. That in itself makes me think that maybe "we" as Christians/Believer's etc. have gone to far in many areas. I personally feel with all of the knowledge available these days, it is really difficult to sort through many concepts. I don't feel everything in the Bible is as "Black and White" as many think. When translations are compared or even differences are pointed out (such as in "Misquoting Jesus") a very different picture can emerge.

    I agree with the comments that there is a difference between a struggle with porn vs. homosexuality. I also know that homosexuality has been demonized and fought against in horrible ways in many places. I was raised in a family that "boycotted" any company that seemed to support it. I remember we couldn't go to Disney Land for many years or buy anything Disney because they held a "Gay" day and extended benefits for partners.

    Personally I have known gay people with families and very quiet lifestyles. They have had more normal, healthy lives, than the religious family members I have. I just have a problem thinking that God would want my friend's "partnership" to dissolve and their child to be pulled away from a loving home environment because they are gay. I also have a problem because the family members that fight it the most, have the most disfuctional, abusive situations! BUT, I guess they are right and are Chritians...it's just doesn't settle well with me these days. I would rather love everyone, and let them lead their own lives, it's between them and God.

     
  • At 6/04/2007 10:59:00 AM, Anonymous Karen

    I am sorry for being a bit verbose in this discussion. It touches on what is at the core of my own issues, so please bear with me.

    Michele--its true--with all the different voices out there its hard to tell what is what. I have to say though that as someone who has a very vested interest in affirming homosexuality that I found the book "What the Bible Has to Say About Homosexuality" to be quite uncompelling exegetically. Biblical exegesis is something I love, which is why I am finishing up my master's degree in exegetical theology (just three more weeks!). So I take exegesis seriously.

    I would encourage people who want to do sound research on the issues to read literature on both sides of the issue. For example, if one reads "What the Bible Says About Homosexuality" be sure to read Robert Gagnon's very scholarly work "The Bible and Homosexual Practice."

    Additionally, if one reads Bart Ehrman (who is still trying to get over his fundamentalist upbringing), be sure to read other literature like "Reinventing Jesus." As one proverb says, an argument is convincing until you hear the other side of it.

    As far as having gay friends who lead quiet, normal lives. Does that make it right? I wasn't a promiscuous, whacked out lesbian. I had "quiet" ordinary relationships too. And, many of my gay friends are your usual average bunch. In the same way, many unmarried heterosexual, cohabitating couples can have functional relationships. Or, even someone having an affair can have an enjoyable, stable relationship.

    The Bible says sin can be fun for a season. And as Ecclesiastes states, even those who are not in the will of God can prosper while godly people suffer. Just because something seems ordinary or "functional" in our eyes doesn't mean that is what God's will is for us.

    We all base our reality/truth on something. Perhaps on a book we have read, what our friends say, what culture says or Scripture. We have to ask ourselves how we come to the conclusions we do. What do we base our reality on--and is that foundation solid or does it shift with the fashionable opinions of the month? How many of us are truly seeking God's face with desperate love and willingness to obey him even when it doesn't always make sense to our human minds?

     
  • At 6/04/2007 03:22:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    Karen,

    I wanted to thank you for your posts in this topic. You seem to be able to express some things that I have tried to state before but could never get out. You said: Why did it matter? Because gender matters. Even psychological research bears the evidence of this. In some mysterious way that I don't understand fathers in their maleness contribute to the development of their daughters and sons in a way that is different than mom. Likewise, women offer something different than the man. This is the profound beauty and value of gender in that they each contribute something.

    and:
    In some mysterious way the yin and yang of male and female in relationship has balance and meaning. Because maleness and femaleness is not just resident in the body nor only resident in the inner self--but is both found in body and inner self as a whole.

    When I first came to this blog I did so because I grew up just being 'me' and I was now exploring more what it means to be created female. In coming here there was a discussion about females authoring and someone mentioned writing like a man and I said I said why write like a man, I want to write like a woman! Someone challenged that, which is fine, but I couldn't answer what I meant. You have nailed what I was thinking back then.

    When I look to creation, to Genesis, and I see humankind being created male and female that the female was the suitable partner/counterpart/helper....I see that as being not physicality gender related but so much more. There is something about the way God created woman, to be that counterpart. Not an interchangeable human, but distinct and with a role, purpose, something to offer, something necessary....that the kingdom needed.

    As you said, its mystical perhaps...but there is that something. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for sharing.

    And everyone else. Its been a great discussion to read and think and pray on. Thanks all. :)

     
  • At 6/04/2007 04:40:00 PM, Blogger marilyn

    Hi Cari, thanks for taking the time to respond to all of us, that was really thoughtful--and interesting.

    Let's address your worldview comments; you mentioned that it appears as though I hail from 'one distinct worldview,' but failed to explain what that 'one view' was.' I would be interested in hearing what you meant by that. To me, a worldview is undefinable in terms of 'one distinct;' it's a template, or set of biases by which we view the surrounding world and the society we hail from. We've all developed a perspective based on a variety of influences; the beliefs our parents held while we were growing up, books, music, TV, our peers, favourite teachers, an innate need to conform or belong, religious experience, education, etc. To me, a christian worldview is more intentional; a deliberate, consistent 'creed' to live by in order to make sense of this life we have and to be able to give a rational defense of our faith to a fallen world. For example: I believe that God is real and his word is inerrant; I believe he created the universe and everything in it; I believe I was created for a purpose and that all human life is sacred; I believe in absolute truth--you get my drift. The very fact that you would consider the information from the Newsweek article 'fair and balanced' proves that your worldview is relative, and decidedly secular in nature. Even Karen's comment--'the usual conservative literature'-- is an indication of a secular bias; it implies that a conservative institution is incapable of providing an accurate, impartial viewpoint. Since when are left-wing liberals the harbingers of all truth? Sounds like legalism to me.

    The comment I made about 'watering down the gospel' was in reference to those churches who deliberately 'dumb down' or do a 'sensitivity edit' of the content of sermons and Bible studies, so as not to consternate or offend anyone. Most of the people in our current evangelical churches think 'apologetics' is a list of ways to say 'I'm sorry.' Our youth are being swept away by the wind, having no moral or spiritual compass to guide them, while we sit around and worry about who's going to be offended. What kind of gospel is that?

    As for my son, I actually got it wrong--it was my youngest son who wanted to be mother. (when my oldest son was 2 he wanted to be a shepherd) At 2 years old it's pretty easy to explain the differences between men and women. Men can't bear children, and so therefore it was physically impossible for him to become a mother. I told him he could become a father, which was just as wonderful as being a mother. He seemed to understand my explanation and accepted it well. As for your question about what I believed the cultural definitions were, I don't think they were relevent at the time--I'm not even sure they are now. There was no mandate in our home over what the boys could or couldn't play with, there were no activities that we labeled 'girly' to discourage them from doing, and there were never any questions about what gender entailed--they knew they were boys. I doubt very much that any one of them ever questioned 'why' they were boys, or what it was that made them different than girls--other than anatomy. What would be the point?

    We live in a corrupted world. Because of sin, there are many physical and mental abnormalities--genetic, environmental, etc. When we start accepting these as 'normal' we degrade our humanity and our culture. Transgender disorder and homosexuality have been--and still are-- regarded as emotional and behavioral issues that need fixing. Most reputable mental health professionals agree that evidence of one pathology is often a predictor for another, and sexual deviance such as homosexuality and transgender disorder are often accompanied by other psychoses. Cari, there is a plethora of information on same-sex attraction covering several decades if you just look for it. When I said we are criminally negligent in our ignorance, I meant it. We blindly accept media propaganda as gospel and never bother to find out if what we're being fed is poison or pizza. Since the dawn of the 'gay rights movement' we've been duped into believing that homosexuality is just a parallel of heterosexuality when that is simply not the case; your comments to me about the correlation between your own biological urges and those of homosexuals are proof of your own gullibility. My friend who said "it's all about sex" also said that it's fairly common for gay men to have between 250-500 partners a year--and that is not a parallel statistic to heterosexual males or females. If you are in university, you have access to more study material than the average person. Start with Kinsey if you want. I guarantee you'll have a better understanding of the issues and your eyes will be opened to the biggest lie of the 20th century--maybe it's time to challenge your own thoughts.

    Marilyn

    medium guy--Let me guess, your spiritual gifts are judgment and sarcasm?

    How you managed to extrapolate a correlation between adherance to mosaic law with an explanation of gender differences is beyond me. Was that inductive or deductive reasoning behind your simile?

    Marilyn

     
  • At 6/04/2007 04:42:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Karen,
    I completely agree with "your balancing" comment. There are always other opinions. I come from a very fundamentalist backgroud, and have chosen to read things on the completely other side because I personally have had enough of the side I was dished...my own issue. I too, am interested, and will continue to read, however, I am on the burn out path right now. It is never ending, and I am starting to feel that the dialog is great but will go on forever. Not that it is a bad thing.

    I am at a place where I want to not ALWAYS be struggling with "the right perspective".
    I am burned out with religion in general, not just Christianity. It is tiresome, and for the first time in my life (and something I never thought I would do) I have considered walking away. I envy those who have faith, but enjoy life and are not burdened by the "guilt" in their heads.

    The God I believe in at this time knows my heart, knows my struggles as well as yours. The biggest impact on me has been realizing the differences even within current Biblical translations, not just between languages. When reading "Misquoting Jesus", a few passages were pointed out. One in particular was a passage I have "known". However, he made a reference to "time". I remembered thinking "Huh, I don't remember that?". Just to check (because it had to do with the resurrection, pretty important) I pulled out the few versions I have in my house. I was very surprised to see that they all differed. One had the exact time (which Erhman stated as in our oldest copies) and the most acceptable version, did not. In my mind that could be very significant. It doesn't take much of those senario's to make me think about the rigidity of our beliefs.

    I just believe our faith and following shouldn't be this hard. I don't see God as a "Study and Hope you choose the right version" kind of God. We could spend a life time focusing on all the little details and barely scrape the surface of knowledge. Even if we could, what about those who can't. Obviously many here have great knowledge about Biblical concepts etc., but what about those who don't have the means to do it. Many out there have barely just enough time to support their families. I for one am a fairly intelligent, bright person, but even I struggle with many of the concepts out there (and I am lucky enough to have the time to read on my own).

    I venture to guess that there is only a small fraction of this world that is truly educated and studied enough to grasp a lot of this on their own. Most people have to go by the opinions of who they respect, and it gets passed down time and again. Those opinions are impacted by so many things (culture, lack of science, wealth/position, etc.)

    It is difficult to explain my thoughts these days, and I am probably not in the majority in my concepts either. I just view God and faith in a much different way.

    Karen thanks for being so open.

     
  • At 6/04/2007 05:21:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Marilyn,

    Maybe I a perceiving your comments in the wrong manner, but it seems like a decent amount of venom within them.

    I just wanted to make a few comments:

    I am confused on the implication about "physical and mental abnormalities". What other way should we view these other than normal? Are you saying that every "abnormality" is due to "sin"? So you believe God randomly decides to inflict (or allow) certain people to deal with these things because somewhere someone sinned? I think it is easy for us to view these hard things, especially when it doesn't affect us.

    The areas that CAN be tied to homosexuality (though I feel is a different thing all together): abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, etc. are horrible situations that victims do not ask for. When you quote the numbers that gay men have for sexual partners etc. that is not taking into consideration many of these other factors. I think you have to consider that gay people are still very oppressed, judged, looked down upon etc. Then when you add in feeling left out, being abandoned by friends, family, churches, or worse, many other things occur. There is a lot of guilt involved. Even those with severe church backgrounds etc. can have a tendency to be more promiscuous.
    I am not sure if there is even data out there, but I would be curious to see how parallel stats would be with heterosexuals if you used only homosexuals that were raised with a stable environment. Find gay people who have loving, accepting environments and compare.

    I guess my point is that seems to be a big generalization. Promiscuity is affected by many things gay or straight. We should be careful when drawing those conclusions. There are still many today that look at homosexuality as a perversion and wouldn't leave their children in the care of a homosexual, but again that is two very different things. Just because you are a homosexual, doesn't mean you are a child molester, but those conclusions are still drawn.

    I am sorry if I have misunderstood what you were saying.

     
  • At 6/04/2007 07:47:00 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Chapin

    I'm about halfway through the comments and am thankful that this topic has been opened up for conversation. Our sex is a complex interplay of biology, genes, hormones and culture affecting our race over centuries. I am looking forward to finishing the comments and reading the article. Perhaps I will have more to say then...

     
  • At 6/04/2007 08:12:00 PM, Blogger medium guy

    Hi Marilyn,

    In terms of spiritual gifts, I actually have many, and why not, considering that before Mosaic law was written, I AM!

    OK, no seriously, while you shake your head and picture me broiling for eternity for what I'm sure you'd consider to be a blasphemous comment, I want to thank you for challenging me spiritually. Indeed, reading all of your contributions has been an experience of seeking to have compassion and understanding for one who has crafted writings that really have angered me, so it's been a good exercise for me.

    I was deciding if and if so, how to respond, especially since you addressed me personally, and I mulled over the possibilities of exploiting the holes in your treatise large enough for a Hummer to drive through, but I chose not to for 2 reasons. 1) It would be way too easy and, more saliently, 2) I have unfortunately had many experiences of such dialogue becoming counterproductive, and almost without exception this is due to the other (in this case you) steadfastly using scripture as a pedestal upon which to stand while proclaiming righteous judgment, and at the same time staunchly denying that it is occurring.

    So, in the vein of pointing out the big issue, Marilyn, [in the words of Justin Timberlake and co.] "Where is the Love?" I can just picture an individual person entering your church and taking a seat, perhaps next to you and your family. The sermon includes a lot of ranting and railing against sin, with some callous remarks shot out against homosexuality. Following the service, you and others congregate around the new person having coffee and pastries. You ask this person how the service was, etc., trying to welcome this individual who is honest and says that the sermon was troublesome because, "I am homosexual." Marilyn, you can choose to act as friendly and welcoming as you want, but given what you have expressed about your views on this issue, there is no way that you will be able to pull off agape love. The best you might be thinking is, "Poor sinning person. I'll pray that God melts this person's heart and that will change the wayward path of his/her heart." Perhaps you'll feel pity. But the bottom line is, you will not be able to love and accept that person as is. To me, that is the saddest and at the same time frustrating aspect of conservative and fundamentalist Christian "insitutions." No matter how you slice it, that just doesn't represent the unconditional love manifested in Jesus that is beyond the mystery of mysteries for us to even begin to comprehend. Jesus is our hope eternal, and if we take on the mantle of judgment that belongs solely to God [yeah, I think there are some passages about judging not, come to think of it - and no, it doesn't work to throw up one's hands and say, "Hey, I didn't make the rules, I'm just the messenger," and then happily proceed to judge others anyway] then we've really limited and handicapped our own ministry.

    So for me, the moral of the story is that I completely validate and respect viewpoints very radically different from my own [and there's no shortage of those, believe me] but I am concerned about the corruption of Jesus' teachings and how God is being represented by all Christ followers today.

    Many blessings,

    medium guy

     
  • At 6/04/2007 09:23:00 PM, Blogger Linda

    Medium Guy,

    I loved your original comment. It made me chuckle and brought home the difficulty of a strictly literal interpretation of scripture.

     
  • At 6/04/2007 10:03:00 PM, Blogger cari

    Marilyn,

    Thanks for posting back. It's finals week for me so I may be unable to respond for some time.

    Just to address Newsweek though- no, of course I do not think that Newsweek (or any other news source, including conservative institutions) is totally objective. I was referring to Newsweeks' decided moderation in comparison to Time (more to the left) and US News and World Report (on the more conversative side).

    Since you seem to hail from another country ("favourite" and "university"), possibly England, you may have been unaware of that. Of course, quality-wise (in journalism), these sources simply do not compare to The Economist and others, in my opinion.

    Really, I'm unsure why we're discussing news sources though. I don't think Newsweek holds as much sway as the Bible, and Newsweek isn't the only thing I read.

    Nor do I understand what it means to have a "secular," "relative" worldview, because I certainly believe many things are relative, and I also believe that the glory (kavod) of God fills and soaks the earth- meaning some truth exists everywhere, and it's mine. (That's Robb Bell's concept, and a very true one, I think).

    And yes, I just started studying pyschology and Kinsey, which is one reason why I'm so interested in these subjects and willing to hear other people's opinions on them. That's good advice to take advantage of the research available to me right now. Challenging my own thoughts, or allowing them to be challenged, is exactly what I'm trying to do.

     
  • At 6/04/2007 10:54:00 PM, Blogger marilyn

    Michele, thanks for your post and your questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

    First of all, it's not venom you detect, it's frustration. The lack of genuine spiritual knowledge and maturity exhibited by many of those who use this forum is almost frightening. It's supposed to be a christian site, recommended by Christianity Today, (also disappointing) but seems to be more of a new age melting pot. The values and belief systems presented are closer to humanistic philosophy than christianity.

    The Bible is pretty clear that sin is responsible for the degenerate state of the world, which would seem to include the various afflictions we've been discussing. God has neither inflicted it nor allowed it--we made that choice for him in the garden.

    Part of my frustration stems from the seemingly blind ignorance that accompanies the subjects of gender interference and same sex attraction from this 'christian community.' Research from the last 40 years shows that homosexuality is a choice. Yes, there are predictors that were no fault of the person, but those facts alone don't give credence to or justify a gay lifestyle. We don't give the same latitude to other diseases of the mind that can actually be linked to genetics or the overt sins of the parent. Take for instance the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome; victims of FAS usually have serious addictions, trouble with relationships, irresponsible behavior, risky sexual liasons, legal problems, among other things.
    All of these 'symptoms' can be tied directly to the sins of the mother; the child is in no way at fault for his condition, yet do we justify and accept the behaviors of the 'victim' as normal or acceptable? Of course not. In truth, these victims have more of a platform for an 'FAS rights movement' than does the gay community.

    The truth is Michele, that when we make the choice to sin, we suffer the consequences. The abandonment of friends and family that some gays experience is always unfortunate, but most of the oppression and possible violence they might incur will probably arise from within the community itself. (also another media ommission)

    Interestingly enough, I'm not the one separating homosexuality from any other sexual addiction; I consider it in the same category as promiscuity, pedophilia, etc. It's just another form of sexual deviancy.

    Your suggestion that I look at gays from good backgrounds is (please don't take offense here) woefully naive. You are one of many on this forum who have swallowed the propaganda gay lobby groups have been forcing on us since the eighties. The gay lifestyle generates promiscuity, and cases of 'gay monogamy' are extremely rare--and yes, there is research that backs me up.

    I'm going to sum up my participation on this site with a few things for all of you to think about. Before you make any decisions or judgments about the legitimacy of transgender or homosexual lifestyles--please educate youselves on exactly what you're considering to validate.
    Check out the research from a variety of sources. We haven't even discussed this issue, but it deserves to be brought up--check out the sexual practices of homosexual relationships and the very real health risks they produce. Look up the statistics for domestic violence and suicide. Please, just educate youselves, and while you're doing it, ask God what he thinks.

    One last thing Michelle; you said
    'that it's easy for us to view these hard things, especially when it doesn't affect us.' Your assumption that these issues have not been a part of my life is a false assumption. My first husband was sexually molested as a child and he battled sexual addiction and depression for most of his life. He eventually killed himself, leaving our 3 little boys and me behind-- so don't tell me I don't know about the hard things we're talking about.

    I've enjoyed talking with all of you and I hope that at least some of you will actually seek out the truth--and find it.
    Marilyn

     
  • At 6/05/2007 09:25:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Marilyn,

    Thanks for your comments. I am sorry for your husband, but that explains a lot to me. Our experiences very much color our perception of how we read and understand things. I am not naive, I may not have studied "great things", I just do not view the Bible like you.
    I tend to focus mostly on what we have available about how Jesus acted (our prime example in this world). And, as Medium Guy stated "Where is the Love"?
    Regardless of position on this topic, my feeling is, even if you view it as a sin...sin is sin. God doesn't have levels, it is sin. AND, none of us are without sin! We each have our battles. We will never be without sin. However, we like to focus on some sins more harshly. WE do that, not GOD.
    Jesus spends time caring for and loving some of the worst of society. He meets them where they are at. Sure he compels them to change in some cases, but he doesn't treat people in the manner even you are here. Many of us may seem "New Agey" to you, but even the position you have is blessed by knowledge and change. Not so long ago your voice as a woman WOULD NOT be as strong. AND, back then that was also backed Biblically. The "Truth" and knowledge you have at this point HAS changed from the early times. Our generation is NOT the "arrived" generation for all time. There will always be struggles with our understanding of the Bible and God. To imply that many are naive is quite arrogant. That would imply you are of higher education, knowledge, etc., which may be true in cases, however, as I said before, I don't believe that faith and favor in God's eyes is directly linked to "knowledge". Those things existed for many years before literacy.

    If you are right, what do you think will happen? Is the majority of the world of all time going to Hell? Is a homosexual who loves God and seeks God daily going there? Many in your position feel that way, but to be honest, it is a small fraction of the world that thinks exactly like you, and exactly like me. You can take a church community as a whole, and if asked in private their understanding of many "topics" there would be huge variations. What ever opinion one has, the "typical" is that their understanding is "right"...that is until they are convinced "that understanding is right". I have beliefs, but hold them loosely. I realize I may be shown something else in time. I lived in the "rigid" beliefs. When I changed "and became more new agey...I guess" I felt the power of God like never before. I spent 20 years in the church wondering how everyone else got the connection they did. That is just my experience. I would just implore you to change your tone when dealing with people. Having an opinion is fine, but you would make it further with people without the condescending, attacking tone.

     
  • At 6/05/2007 10:15:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    Marilyn - are you willing to dialogue or are you content to just label and dismiss everyone who expresses their faith differently than you? What you scoff at as new agey and immature is a deeply committed Christianity for many of us, you just don't happen to play that way. Perhaps sex isn't the best place to enter a discussion, it is too personal and emotionally charged. But please don't tell us that we aren't believers without being willing to attempt to understand where we are coming from without automatically judging and dismissing.

     
  • At 6/05/2007 02:27:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Know

    Medium Guy--After reading all of the comments, I 'd have to say I doubt very much that you could win any argument with Marilyn. I also found your little exercise in malice exceptionally tasteless and completely irrelevant. Instead of making her look bad, which was obviously your intent, you succeeded in validating her opening comments.

    Linda--Mean-spiritedness is never funny. I'd have thought that someone with your credentials would have more character. As for what you said about 'literal interpretation; if we don't believe in the inerrancy of scripture, we can make it say whatever we want--which is what you seem to be doing.

    Cari--I'm impressed with you, I sense a tender heart in you--you handled Marilyn very sensitively. I picked up on the possibility of her being from another country as well and I'm willing to bet you also perceived the deep woundedness that her passionate writing revealed. I'm guessing that she knows much more about this subject than she's letting on. Keep up the good work.

    Michele--It might be a good idea to actually ponder the answers to the questions you ask.

    Julie-- I found your last post to Marilyn very insensitive, considering her candid revelation.
    In essence you are criticizing her for something you are unwilling to do yourself.

    Marilyn--if you do come back to this blog, drop me a line, as a 'mental health professional' myself, I'm very interested in the research your local 'university' is conducting. I also sense that you have some unresolved anger toward your husband, and I might be able to help you with that. I also want to apologize for the way you have been treated here, not all Americans are this rude.

     
  • At 6/05/2007 07:46:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Dr. Know,

    Thanks for your comments. I would say before you think we are all "rude" here, I would get some background. In general those that are here on this blog for the most part have had very "respectful" dialog. There are a few times when emotions are fueled, but in general, the the tone has been respectful. Many of us have been on here awhile, and "the rudeness..as you feel" is being tired of those who drop in and attack with arrogance, "knowledge", and condescension.

    The point of this blog is to "dialog" about where each person is at, to hear other ideas, opinions, sides, etc. Understanding that we all come from different places.
    For instance, I unlike you do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, I used to, but due to "research" and growth, have come to a different opinion. I have no interest in convincing you of my position, but would like to be respected that it is my opinion, and not a "bending" of Scripture. I know in general why you stand on that position (or at least the typical reasons for that position), however, I disagree.
    One thing many misunderstand about people with ideas like mine is that I haven't just chosen to believe the way I have because I am sinful, uneducated, or trying to make life easy for myself. As a matter of fact my change in beliefs has made my faith very difficult and hard. Trust me, it is much easier to stick to "traditional" ideas. The "easy" answers, what I was fed. Within that, though, I didn't feel very connected, just robotic.

    There is a reason that there are sooo many branches of Christianity...it is "Not Black and White".

    As for saying I should ponder my own questions, I have. I was only asking Marilyn because of the position she represented. I personally don't believe in Hell, at least in the sense of "fire and burning" separation. Again, conclusions I have come to within my own growth, studying, reading etc. However, I have learned it is a journey. I believe we all will change in many ways throughout our lives. I know with science, knowledge, etc. there may be "new" enlightenment in future years, that convince me otherwise.

    Both yourself and Marilyn seem to have just started this blog area (at least based on your profile). I would encourage you both to feel things out a little longer before diving in with opinions of many of us.

    I may be speaking for only a few of us, but after awhile here, you get to know eachother's personalities and are somewhat forgiving (usually) if a nerve is hit.

    Anyone can have a voice, but we are "open-minded" and maybe that seems too "new-agey" to you. Then maybe this is not somewhere you want to read. Anything goes here...but it is supposed to be respected. Opinion and dialog is going to go much further than attack mode.

     
  • At 6/05/2007 09:04:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Dr. Know - if you are going to show up out of nowhere to tell us why we are all wrong at least have the decency to say who you are. It is easy to name call from behind a mask. I ask to that you take the time to engage here, get to know us, get to understand the emerging church movement, get to understand the history of Christianity, and learn some blog etiquette. It is hard to dialogue when others are just shouting at you that you are wrong. Engaging the actual issue here would be nice, instead those of us wanting to discuss have been told we are not real christians, are ludicrous, and new agey. This isn't dialogue, or constructive disagreement.

     
  • At 6/05/2007 11:12:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Know

    Julie I am quite aware of blog ettiquette; as an outsider, looking in at the whole 'story,' it became quite obvious to me that Marilyn was being bullied for her conservative beliefs, and contrary to what this site is supposed to stand for, none of you are very open to different ideas and opinions.

    You had an opportunity to minister to someone who is obviously deeply wounded, someone who has endured unbearable suffering, someone who was reaching out. Why do you suppose she spent so much time here? It was so obvious that she was testing you for safety. Because I am an outsider, I held back, waiting for one of you to at least try to bridge the gap, now I wish I'd jumped in sooner.

    You accused me of showing up out of nowhere, wearing a mask, to tell you that you're all wrong. I guess that's true--somebody had to.
    As for the mask and the suggestion I get to know you before I comment,
    I've actually been reading your posts for quite some time, trying to decide if this is a place I want to hang out. I always wade in slowly before I give out any information, so I never fill out a profile until there's been some level of trust established--I won't be filling one out here. If I ever decide to revisit, not only will I wear my mask, I'll invest in a whole suit of body armor.

     
  • At 6/06/2007 09:14:00 AM, Blogger Nancy

    I've been so busy I've not had time "be here" in some time. I'm making time this morning.

    I am repeatedly amazed how discussions of gender ignite such raw emotions and without exception a plethora of comments. No other topic seems to rally such interaction. And I am really sad to see how things have evolved on this thread. Why do you all think this is such a hot topic? Why does it seem to be so divisive? And why is it that true open dialogue seems to be kind of elusive in this regard?

    Nothing is truly certain or absolute in our understanding of gender. Many good points were made about how complicated a question this is. Not one person who has commented is without their absolute right to an opinion based on their own set of experiences and research on this topic. And it should come as no surprise that we find conflicting ideas posted on the topic as a result...gender assignations are highly influenced by biological, cultural and environmental factors and their expression is inherently unique to each individual. Questions that arise from the transgendered experience are maybe more challenging in some ways but are ultimately just part of the collage of what we think we know and the bigger vista of what we can aspire to understand on this topic.

    I will say that as a mental health professional, I am not aware that homosexuality is considered pathological. It once was included in the DSM (which is under revision every so often), but a group of professionals held to the task of participating in the continual refining of and defining criteria for psychological disorders decided to exclude homosexulaity as a disorder quite some time ago. So, it is not a psychological disorder and there is no "treatment" to "fix it". There are counselors who specialize in helping people understand their sexual orientation and to make personal decisions based on their understanding of their orientation. This is not the result of an "agenda", liberal or conservative or homosexual in nature. It is based on research and clinical experience from academicians who commit their lives to asking questions and seeking answers on human nature.

    Personally, I'm with Jemila on this one...I see feminine and masculine energies in ALL of us and it is up to us to understand what the balance is in our own lives and to determine if we are in "healthy" balance or whether certain aspects of our beings are being repressed, suppresed or flat out denied. I'm thinking Adam and Eve were in total balance within and between one another prior to the fall. After the fall, there has been nothing but separation: between God and ourselves, between male and female, between me and you/us and them and within our own psyches. No wonder the pain and suffering!

    Finally, it is so disheartening to read comments that reflect some sort of superiority in spiritual maturity and knowledge of the word of God. If you disagree with me, you must indeed be less mature and discerning. It should be obvious to anyone how smart, wise and "right" I am and immature, unwise and plain wrong you are. And then we can present this all as righteous by wishing everyone else well and hoping they find the "Truth" one day. It is really, really frustrating.

    Yes, there is "Truth" and it is Jesus. How much more simple could he have made it? Knowing truth is not about learning and following a set of rules or doctrines...it is getting to know Jesus and allowing Jesus to make us more and more like him. I believe that involves a healing of all these separations and takes the rest of our lives to accomplish.

    If someone feels hurt from this whole discussion, I can understand it. If you feel confused, I can really understand that. Angry? I'm with you. Sad? Oh, you bet! But what does dumping and running away accomplish? How about truly committing to understanding one another without this compulsion to categorize on the basis of political leanings, educational level, faith orientation, etc? How about allowing ourselves to sit in the tension that is created when we come across views that do not resonate with our own? How about TRULY letting that stretch us...in our understanding, in our ability to love and in our ability to forgive? Running away does not allow for such a process but I do understand the temptation to kind of hit and run.

     
  • At 6/06/2007 09:20:00 AM, Blogger medium guy

    Hey Dr. Know and Marilyn,

    While it is clear and indisputable that your attitudes and expressions are the problem, and not this forum, which in contrast is a supportive, engaging place to be, I hold respect and compassion for you as fellow human beings.

    Sincerely,

    mg

     
  • At 6/06/2007 09:51:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    Dr. Know - I am always amazed at how conservatives get all upset when anyone disagrees with them. They cry persecution and wag their fingers at how unchristian the rest of us are. If this is to truly be a safe place hit and run namecalling cannot be tolerated. Sincere questions, open dialogue, and willingness to learn are all welcome even when that involves intense disagreement. To keep such a possibility here, comments that express hate and unthinking condemnation need to be moderated and called out. This isn't about not permiting someone to express their opinions, it is calling that person to stop telling others that their opinions are stupid. You are welcome to be offended by that, continue in your finger wagging and pointing, and spread rumors about us here (obviously you can't be held accountable), but it would be healthier if you engaged with the issues.

     
  • At 6/06/2007 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Nancy, I appreciate your comments. I meant to say something about the DSM but got sidetracked. I certainly felt Marilyn was making implications that are not in line with current classifications or research.

    Julie, I appreciate you stepping in. This happens, and you certainly have been put in this position many times.

    I went back and reread the comments again. I felt maybe I had not read though it closely enough. To be honest, and maybe I am wrong, I still feel that Marilyn came out firing. I didn't feel that she commented and then everyone attacked. I still think it is all about tone. Had the tone been different maybe I would have completely listened to her position. This seems to be the ongoing battle. I personally have been through this more than a few times. Whether it is believed or not, I am usually attacked by my more "conservative" family for "my wrong thinking". I am usually bombarded by their position, and then when I ask them to hear some of the reasons I think the way I do, I am shut down. I have gotten to where I don't discuss anything, it doesn't go anywhere anyway. BUT, I have tried to make the same point to them, Tone is everything...you will get further if you just express your opinions in a dialog (and yes, hear the other views also).

     
  • At 6/06/2007 11:26:00 AM, Blogger Janice

    AFter reading all the comments, more than once...I have to say that I agree with Dr Know to some degree. If Emerging is REALLY going to be what it says it wants to be, then it MUST learn to engage with conservatives, evangelicals, "Marilyn's", etc in a different way. Its not a matter of the tone, or who is right or wrong in HOW they engage.....in fact, IN MY OPINION, we should be MORE empathetic and compassionate rather than standing so firm in our 'right' to be 'fed up', 'tired', 'weary' of being told we're wrong, 'new-agey', etc. We should be able to turn the cheek more, sit on our fingers, respond without animosity, sarcasm, biting back, etc.

    I've found myself on both ends on this blog and I do far more reading than commenting anymore, so I'm not innocent, and I'm not naiive. I hope I've learned from those interactions as I hope we all continue to learn and grow.

    I have found more and more (from reading here and blogs that are linked from here, as well as elsewhere) that many in the emerging camp are now saying things - coming at topics and people with comments such as 'yes I was there once too but now I've learned...' or 'we don't all grow at the same pace so we have to make allowances for others as they grow' (the prsumption of course is that eventually the growth to where the writer is now) And how much does that sound like the 'other side' has sounded for years? I've commented before about becoming that which one has fought to break free from. I urge all of us to continue considering that.

    Dr. Know, I personally feel convicted, I should have probably stepped in - I may or may not agree with Marilyn, but I definitely don't agree with the way her posts were received.

    One other point - just because the medical community has classified something as textbook or not in the DSM shouldn't bear a lot of weight - especially considering the lobbying associated with the removal and the entire premise of the DSM in terms of standards, international harmonization and the grouping of behaviors into syndromes etc. all mixed up with political pressures, pharmaceutical lobbying, formularies, etc. A change in terminology from 'homosexuality' to sexual orientation disturbance or other sexual 'deviant' classification really changes little. The book is a guide to help professionals and insurance companies alike.

     
  • At 6/06/2007 03:03:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Janice,
    I agree with you, tone goes both ways, however, the discription of the blog is:

    "a space for women involved in the emerging church conversation to use their voice. This is a space to voice your thoughts, express your opinions, and practice your theology. This is a safe community where we can complain, deconstruct, brainstorm, network, dream, and encourage. Let your voice be heard."

    and while any voice is welcome, the description does describe the obvious. "Emerging" obviously is hard to define, but this is a safe place (which to me means not to be "name called" or talked down to). We have all "not turned the other cheek" to moments where we should have, but IMHO the turn came with Marilyn's "tone". There are many other people who commented here that I disagree with, and I read and contemplated, because of their tone. I don't feel the same way as many on this blog, if I am not compelled to share my thoughts I don't. I didn't call Marilyn any names, and responded in an honest way about how I felt.

    The reality is we are all sensitive to the "opposition". Regardless of which part of the spectrum you lie, it is not fun to feel like someone is questioning your faith or beliefs. Throwing education or knowledge out there isn't helpful either. If we are truely honest, almost every position has 2 or more sides/versions. None of us can read/hear every available argument. The one's we choose, we choose for reasons. Again, each is impacted by many factors. That is why tone is important.

    And I will speak for Julie myself (even though she may disagree), I have watched her "virtually" go through this time and again. I can only imagine what her daily life must be. I personally think turn the other cheek is important, but I also feel we have a right to respond to people "who have attacked". I don't see anything wrong with the way she responded. Initially, it was just bringing to light the "organization of this blog". She put it together, she can decide. The others, if they don't like it can go create their own blogs, and have their rules. It's ok to be loving and kind, it's another to be walked all over.

     
  • At 6/06/2007 04:13:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    Michele, I can appreciate your "rising to the defense of", been there done that, and although I 'get it' I still stand by every word I typed.

    "emerging" TO ME, has always meant engaging, even if it is those in opposition and in fact that this is one great way we learn about ourselves and this 'movement'. (least thats what many on the forefront of emerging used to say) Emerging has also meant embracing others, again, TO ME it has meant this.

    "attack" is subjective. FEELING attacked is a personal thing and we each respond differently to it, and yet there is always a 'best' way or a 'better way' (one from another). I continually search for 'the better' way. You may think sarcasm and 'attacking' back, or fighting fire with fire is the better way. I disagree.

    I do agree, no one needs be 'walked all over' and yet one also has a choice in how they set down their boundaries. They even have a choice as to whether they perceive 'an offense' as an offense or as being walked on.

    Unforunately many people seem to lose their compassion when, as you put it, their beliefs are questioned. THEY become the primary concern, their self becomes the focus.

    The blog is set up to allow comments, it is naive to think that there won't be dissenting comments offered. Again, I stand by what I said about the way those dissenting comments are responded too. Its something I'll probably be irked by each time I see it. Especially the sarcasm which is employed. Frankly, I find it sad and completely without merit. And it still 'surprises me'. And since Jesus found Himself 'surprised' or astonished or amazed at times, I find myself in okay company there. lol.

    From my perspective, there is a distinct barely (and sometimes not at all) covered contempt for not only the conservative faith but people who hold ideals of a 'conservative' or 'traditional' faith by many here. TO me, thats very far from 'emergent'. There are many in the emergent community AT LARGE, if not on this blog, who do hold to 'mainstream' or 'conservative' or 'traditional' doctrines/beliefs/ideas, etc. but the general tone of this blog really discourages their participation. Emergent does not adhere to a set of doctrinal statements but one would hardly know that at times in reading here. That is part of the reason I agree very much with Dr. Know's perspective. Marilyn can't be engaged when she's virtually seen as the enemy. And if you think I've gotten 'you' (anyone who happens to be reading this and thinks it may even possibly apply to them) wrong then perhaps that might be a reason to consider if you're coming across the way you would like (are you accurately portraying what you really feel inside? )

    You of course are entitled to your viewpoint on the matter Michele. :) I don't love you any less. I can agree to disagree.

     
  • At 6/06/2007 04:15:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    Oh, and for the record, I never mentioned Julie. :)

     
  • At 6/06/2007 06:26:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Janice,

    I should have separated my comment. Some was directly to you the rest was general (ie. comment about Julie.)

    As for "Emergent" vs. "Emerging"...
    at least where I am from there is a difference. So again, context and surrounding greatly affects that. This is the only "Emerging Blog" I choose to read. I am actually not involved in anything else "emerging" except for here. Because the label's make things hard, and why "Emergent" has fought that, the community I am involved in shies away from labeling ourselves anything. We welcome anyone from atheists to conservative. However, my experience is, the more conservative the less likely they are to stay in our community. They are welcome to be there, but we have had everything from "Satan rules our community" to we're taking the "church to hell with us". Pretty strong language. The frustration lies in that we have turned the other way, but where I live, it is amazing the gossip that gets around churches. I have run into many people who I knew in the past "that has heard about OUR community" (usually said in disdain).

    I guess we differ and that is fine on what "attack" is. I will take it as an attack personally when names or labels are placed on me in a way that demeans me and raises someone else (or at least in their mind) to a higher level. I didn't (or at least tried not to) respond in and 'eye for an eye' manner, but I do feel it is ok to question someone about their response. Just as you have done here.

    I appreciate the "dialog". I get enough battles in my daily life. This blog was an escape for that-most of the time. I honestly don't care what people believe. I am here to learn, hear other sides, and dialog. When I share I share for thoughts, feedback, and discussion. I am not hear to "convince" anyone of my position or to "save" anyone from their "messed up" version. I completely believe we are "all messed up" and we are "all right". :) (AND I try hard not to be, but personality wise, I am a walking sarcasm ball!- I try not to, but hard habits to break!)

    Let's get a new topic! Actually, I should be studying for the GRE...maybe I should focus there! LOL

     
  • At 6/06/2007 06:40:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I think the trouble comes when EVERYONE has wounds they bring to the conversation, and these impact our ability to respond in a grace-filled way to those who pour salt in said wounds. Marylin has wounds, Medium Guy has wounds. And so do the rest of us. I certainly have been very hurt by fundamentalism. My ex-husband suffered from depression and sexual addiction and nearly killed himself, along with the rest of us BECAUSE the church was not a safe, accepting place where he could be vulnerable and air both struggles and profound doubts without being condemned, judged or given simplistic bible answers to complex problems and questions.

    We need to be mindful of saying healing words when we accidentally are the salt-pourers, even if someone else poured first. Marylin, I am so sorry for your loss, and clearly you are not lacking in personal experience or naivete'

    I agree that generically we are called to be as understanding and grace-filled as possible, even when it's irritating beyond belief we feel persecuted for following Jesus as best we can, with what we have. I also agree with Michele that this is an Emerging Women blog, which means by definition those who consider themselves members may range considerably in beliefs, backgrounds and places on a conservative-liberal-neither spectrum, but my understanding is that this is pretty much not a blog for ultra conservative Christians to impose ultra (in my opinion) conservative beliefs on others. You can say, "I don't think homosexuality or gender ambiguity is a viable Christian life style based on my biblical understanding" or, "I think inerrancy is true and important because..." without saying, "anyone who doesn't see this is being ludicrous, deceived, etc"

    So yes, where is the love? Where is God IN THIS DIALOGUE? God, we are desperately in need of your love, grace and presence in this discussion. Please come Lord Jesus, come. Amen.

     
  • At 6/06/2007 06:51:00 PM, Blogger medium guy

    Amen - the key concept, thanks to Jemila and Michele, is tone and intent to engage and not reject or dismiss the value of everyone's input. We're all learning.

     
  • At 6/07/2007 10:50:00 AM, Blogger cari

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 6/07/2007 10:08:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    Cari: I guess you pray for understanding. I guess you pray that the people who study these kinds of questions do so with honesty and an openness and with great wisdom. I guess you pray that the folks who feel they are one sex trapped in the other sex's body find their true self and that they would look to their Designer for understanding in this regard. Pray they feel loved. Pray for wise, compassionate and loving people to walk along side them.

    That article did not even touch on hermaphrodism...the condition of being born with BOTH sets of sex organs. Typically, hermaphrodites are assigned a sex but it is a crap shoot because an infant can't speak for itself and let the adults making these choices know which gender they feel most aligned with. Some people are left to make the choice later in life and I can say that one person I know chose to stay just as they were. They embraced their situation. So, what are they? Man or woman? Hetro or gay? How does a hermaphrodite fit in with Genesis and all the assertions made above? Oh...that's right...a result of the fall. Still does not resolve the dilemma regarding whether they are sinning or not for their conjugal choices, does it?

    As for the spin off discussion on homosexuality, for it is a distinct and separate issue from the question of being transgendered...the change in DSM was not to another diagnostic label that felt less threatening, they simply dropped it. Check it out. All you will find is a label that identifies folks struggling to understand their orientation. As far as the "official" stance where mental health experts are concerned, there is nothing "deviant" about homosexuality. Yeah, maybe some nefarious lobby like insurance companies tired of paying for therapy that does not work (ie, therapy to correct "deviant" homosexuals) won out when these experts decided to drop it as a dysfunction but you can't pin it on drug companies because they stood to make far more money with homosexuality as a "disorder" or "disease" than they did with it off. In fact, think of the lost income to psychotherapists across the globe! So what real gains were there for the people in charge (a combination of psychiatrists and psychologists) to drop the diagnosis? Right or wrong, that is how it is. We can write it off as some sort of conspiracy or we can entertain the notion that maybe people actually thought it was the best empirical option based on the present data. Or some combination of both.

    Cari, I can understand your confusion. Some insist on discarding mystery. Some eventually learn to accept it as a part of this life. Others even embrace it. I struggle myself with not being too flip about the Word and where it stands on such issues but at the same time try to come to terms with the fact that our understanding of what the Word says does seem to elude us more often than we like to acknowledge. The Word is alive and our confusion seems perhaps to be the result of this fact.

    In the end, your desire to pray and understand strikes me as the humble expression of your compassionate heart. I appreciate you for asking your questions and sense a genuine desire to understand what might not be ultimately understandable from the here and now. Maybe one day, there will be faith communities for everyone. Right now...I'd have to say the sad fact is that while all are invited, all are not accepted as they are.

     
  • At 6/09/2007 10:12:00 PM, Blogger marilyn

    Dr.Know--I've just come back from a brief holiday, and although I thought I was quite done with this article, I decided to take one last look--and found myself a trifle irritated. If you were thinking of cashing in on your psychic abilities, I suggest you keep your day job. Any fool with an IQ over 12 could have figured out that I don't live in the U.S. As for the rest of your deductions, you're way off. I did'nt feel bullied, because I intended to make people angry--I wanted them to be so angry that they would do research on their own even if it was just to prove me wrong.

    There is no 'residual anger' toward my husband that I need help with, there never was. And your perception that I was reaching out, or that any of these people could 'minister' to me is completely false. The anger I feel is directed solely at the spiritually ignorant, politically-correct, left-leaning, fall for everything but stand for nothing, so-called 'christians' who frequent sites like this.

    Presumably, your interest in the study I mentioned is your way of 'bridging the gap,' and even if the study was finished and I was allowed to share it, I probably would'nt. If you ever feel the need to counsel someone online again, wait until you're asked.

    Now I'm finished.

     
  • At 6/09/2007 10:15:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Wow...OK. Moving on...

     
  • At 6/10/2007 08:03:00 AM, Blogger medium guy

    Marilyn,

    Hmmm..... making people angry in the hopes of causing them to do selective and biased research...not exactly a "Jesus turns over the tables at the temple" kid of moment now is it? Nice try though. You do score points for the smackdown of Dr. Know, though - can we have you on call as a mercenary?

     
  • At 6/11/2007 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    I'm with you Michelle. moving on, stop wasting time...

     

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