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An appeals court keeps religious freedom within decent bounds

Aimee Stephens

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Aimee Stephens

 

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court said that you can’t fire a transgender person just because you think gender is a gift from God that can’t be changed. The case, EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, was brought by Aimee Stephens, a funeral director in Michigan who was fired when she told her boss, Thomas Rost, that she had a gender identity disorder and planned to transition from male to female.

Reversing a lower court decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that 1) the ban on sex discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to transgender identity; and 2) the firing was not protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Rost claimed that he would be “violating God’s commands” if he permitted a male funeral director “to wear the uniform for female directors while at work.” I guess the applicable command here is Deuteronomy 22:5, which reads (in the King James Version): “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

Of course, that begs the gender identity question: What, exactly, is “woman” and “man”?

On that, Rost’s asserted his sincere belief that “the Bible teaches that a person’s sex is an immutable God-given gift,” and that to let Stephens transition in the job would make him complicit “in supporting the idea that sex is a changeable social construct.”

But in America it is not enough to possess a sincere religious belief. You’ve got to show that your free exercise is substantially burdened by having to do something that in your view violates that belief. In the present case, the court said it wasn’t:

Rost may sincerely believe that, by retaining Stephens as an employee, he is supporting and endorsing Stephens’s views regarding the mutability of sex. But as a matter of law, bare compliance with Title VII—without actually assisting or facilitating Stephens’s transition efforts—does not amount to an endorsement of Stephens’s views…At bottom, the fact that Rost sincerely believes that he is being compelled to make such an endorsement does not make it so.

Let’s be clear. The societal issue here is not with the sincere belief of individuals in commands from the Hebrew Bible like Deuteronomy 22:5. If so, we’d be seeing people being fired for committing adultery, violating the Sabbath, dishonoring their parents, wearing garments that mix wool and linen, etc. etc. etc. The issue is the extent to which those opposed to same-sex marriage and transgender identity get to carve out socio-economic space for the old norms they prefer.

But it’s possible to hold to those old norms without having devout small business owners turn into litigious culture warriors. Here, for instance, is what Andrew T. Walker, Director of Policy Studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has to say about the transgender debate.

Holding a biblical conviction in this debate means that individuals will find themselves in disagreements with friends, families, and co-workers—and that, however we express ourselves, we will be accused of being haters, bigots, and worse.

At a time like this, Christians need the courage to defend a true vision for human flourishing based on the biblical understanding of being made in His image. We must avoid trite explanations or knee-jerk reactions, but we must continue to say that, since God made us, he gets the ultimate say in who we are. We must put steel in our spines.

But all the conviction in the world won’t matter if we act or speak without compassion. Jesus did not aim to win debates. He sought to love people. So must we as his followers. As we ground our convictions in God’s unchanging, perfect, Word, we must speak with compassion in our hearts.

As I understand this injunction, Thomas Rost should have had the courage to tell Aimee Stephens that he believes gender is God’s immutable gift. And he should have had the compassion to keep her on the job, according to the dictates of the conscience that is hers.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

58 Comments

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  • In the military you can be reduced in rank or even lose one’s job (if uniformed service, civilians can get away with many things that uniformed members can’t) if one commits adultery.

  • Imagine a world where the beliefs of religious fundamentalists don’t automatically include the lives of people who don’t share them.

  • In this case I have to side with Aimee Stephens. His decision to pretend to be a woman is a personal decision that shouldn’t have any real impact on his ability to do his job.

  • Is that the same as what the military call a baton – and does modern parlance utilise the term for someone authorised to hold one.

    [“The baton is distinguished from the swagger stick in being thicker and effectively without any practical function”]

  • With all the thought you put into that passive-aggressive snide little remark, you’d think you would have taken the time to click on the link and found, in the first sentence of the court’s opinion, Stephens’s male birth name. Why aren’t you calling “him” Anthony?

  • Adults, both as individuals and groups, should generally have the right to choose their own names. If he wants his name to be Aimee, then Aimee it is.

  • I like the way you ended that. I have a transgender cousin who is very capable at his job.

  • It’s amazing isn’t it?! The more I learn about our LGBT+ community, the more I appreciate everything they contribute to our overall community and society as a whole. I look forward to that glorious day when the homophobes and those who aren’t able to appreciate the contributions of ALL God’s children can take off their blinders and see how beautiful and diverse our world is. Fly free dragonflies ❤

  • Interesting

    technically POTUS is a civilian but also an officer in the armed forces

    “commander in chief definition. The role of the United States president as highest ranking officer in the armed forces.”

    Can you be an officer in the armed forces without “de facto” being a part of the military?

  • Technically, and legally, the POTUS is NOT an officer in the armed forces.

    The Constitution establishes civilian control over the armed forces, and the President is the civilian Chief Executive and Commaner-In-Chief.

    That answers your last question, btw, since the President is not an officer IN the armed forces, but the Chief civilian OVER the armed forces.

  • Whenever any confusion or perplexity is apparent, this helps provide a solution —

    Man’s ways are of the Lord, how can we understand our own ways ?…..Proverbs 20:24

  • I’m a Christian fundamentalist and so I disagree with the personal choices made by those in the LGBT movement. But my faith isn’t the only issue here. Society is made up of people like me, other kinds of Christians, and those who aren’t Christians. And the ultimate question for people like me is, how should we share society with others? Should we share it with them as equals or will we seek some place of privilege so we can exercise some degree of control those who disagree with us? We should share society with others as equals but sometimes we feel compelled to do otherwise

    One of the reasons we religiously conservative Christians sometimes feel compelled not to treat others as equals is that we have learned to overuse punishment when responding to actions we don’t approve of. And thus, some of us might be dealing with guilt if we don’t try to punish those who perform actions we disapprove of. Stopping the overuse of punishment is a battle we must win if we want to both treat people the way they deserve and share the Gospel with them.

    The above article gives an illustration of how a Christian like myself felt the need to puniosh someone whose actions he disagreed with. Fortunately, the Court stopped him from doing that.

  • Curt, I know you mean well, and I agree with most of what you are saying. But I have to disagree with this: “I disagree with the personal choices made by those in the LGBT movement.”

    You might as well disagree with pizza or air, for all of the sense that statement makes. We gay people have two choices: we can choose to live our lives, authentically and fully, AS WE ARE MADE.

    Or not. We can live our lives according to the dictates of a people a universe away from us in time, knowledge, morals, outlook, language, and culture. We can live our lives according to the limited understanding of fundamentalist Christians people now, in a manner that, for the vast majority of gay people, is completely in opposition to health, happiness, authenticity, truth, kindness, compassion, facts, logic, and experience.

    And love.

    THOSE are the choices your statement offers us, and they are simply poison. I have never been heterosexual, other than briefly and behaviorally only, in two very brief, purely sexual “things” as a young man. I could never “choose” to be heterosexual, not in any meaningful sense of the word choice, or of the word heterosexual. My experiences as a young man only taught me that I really was gay, not heterosexual, not even bisexual.

    Christian fundamentalists often don’t live their own lives in accordance with the gospel. Anita Bryant, who said that divorce was against everything she believed, nevertheless, got divorced; so apparently not. Then there is this: Matthew13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Or as my oldest friend in the world says: “Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say, “Follow the Bible.”

    Instead, he says, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19). Christians are
    not called to follow the Bible, but Jesus Christ. They are to follow him in the
    example he set — gladly willing to sit down, chat with and dine with
    prostitutes, tax-collecting turncoats and others deemed “sinners” by
    “decent, God-fearing society” — and in the commands he gave:
    “Love thy neighbor. Love thine enemy. Treat others the same way you want to be treated.”

    As for “sharing the gospel”, there are plenty of gay Christians who already know the gospel. They disagree. There are plenty of Christians who are not gay, and who can claim the gospel just as easily and as well as you can, and who have no more issue with gay people than they do with air or pizza, BECAUSE THAT IS NOT WHAT THE GOSPEL IS ABOUT FOR THEM.

  • Thank you for your mostly kind words, but I have to point out that whatever you think about “personal choice”, I didn’t not choose to be lesbian. I didn’t even know lesbians existed when I finally fell in love, and had to ask someone if it was possible to fall in love with another woman. This was 1975. I then understood what my ex fiancé meant when he asked me why when we made out he ended up all hot and bothered, and I seemed unaffected, and why we had to use lube to be able to be sexual at all, as my body produced nothing. I do choose to live a life full of love, laughter, family, authenticity, and the love and intimacy my wife and I have shared for 25 years. Same choices made by my 5 straight siblings, except our marriage has lasted longer than any of theirs. We are the favorite aunts of 19 nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews, and all of them call us first when they want someone to pray for them.

  • Curt, thank you for being a fundamentalist Christian voice who wants to find a way to live in and respect civil society and its rules. We need to hear voices like yours. But, more importantly, I think there are fundamentalists who haven’t heard the voices from within their own community who see a different way to respond to a gay person or a trans person they may work with, who may live next door, shop in the same stores they shop in, be of service to them in businesses they frequent. Lots of press about the “kick ’em out” side and not a lot heard of the side supporting the need for civility in the civil world.

  • Our Constitution is not contingent upon http://www.dictionary.com.

    Only the Congress has the power to declare war.

    The direction of an actual war, or in the case of non-declared action in response to a clear and present danger, is conducted by the President, who is a civilian.

    I am sure all this separation of powers stuff is a major confusion to someone in the UK.

    Btw, we also do not have a Crown.

  • To My Friend Ben,
    Eating Pizza does not always involve the moral choice as some of our sexual decisions. At least that is what the Scriptures say. And I would say the same about heterosexual sex outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage though I can relate to the temptation to do that.

    As for whether Christian fundamentalists live their lives in accordance with the Gospel, the answer to that is both yes and no. No because, like everyone else, we are sinners. Yes, because living according to the Gospel means trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. After that, we are charged to treat others in the same way God has treated us in Christ. And we certainly do not always do that eiher.

    As for whether we are called to follow Jesus rather than the Bible, I have to ask who is the Jesus you are following. How do you know about Him? Is He just a name that is associated with a set of ideals? The Jesus of the Scriptures says something different about the Scriptures than what you are saying and it convicst all of us, not just some (see Matthew 5:17-20):


    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Jesus raised some of His Disciples to become Apostles so that His passiion and resurrection could be properly interpreted.

    Much of the hypocrisy you noted is more concerned with what I wrote about how we Christians should share society with others as equals. And for more than one reason, we have done horrible job at that.

    At the same time, we all share society those who disagree with us. The question becomes whether we will share society as equals or not. Can we disagree while protecting each other’s equality in society?

  • Daulphin,
    The personal choice I am referring to is the choice to engage in sex outside of certain bounds, not your orientation. I am heterosexual and so there is a part of me that would like to have sex with more than one woman. To choose to do that would also be an example of the personal choice I mentioned.

    THere is one more point to mention and this affects all of us though in different ways. I am not certain as to whether sex orientaion occurs because of nature, but that isn’t the issue for me. Why? It is because all have a sinful nature because of the Fall. We all have a inclinations to sin in particular ways because the Fall has corrupted not just our human nature, but all of nature. That is why there is death.

    One of my hopes is that we can discuss our differences while guarding the equality of the other person in society. After all, society is made up of all sorts of believers and unbelievers. Unfortunately, most of my fellow religiuosly conservative Christians don’t see it that way and that has cause so much unneceassy pain for so many people.

  • Despite my limited knowledge I suspect I have a clearer idea of your Constitution than does your current CinC.

    I am sure all this separation of powers stuff is a major confusion to someone in the US.

    You have a 6(?) times bankrupt who is putting out feelers about removing the term-limits for POTUS, is involving his equally unqualified extended family in matters of state and has delighted in appointing people who know nothing relevant to important positions whilst fast running out of people who can stomach working with him.

    You might do well to reconsider that unwanted-by-the-majority, smuggler-led revolt against the Crown (and I, FWIW, am no monarchist).

  • You really do a wonderful job, in fact I cannot imagine you doing a better job, of selecting topics about which you know absolutely nothing at all to comment on.

    If the President is appointing people who know nothing relevant to important positions, you should throw your hat in the ring.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone knowing less about more than you do.

  • Be sure to put that on your resumé that you send to the White House. In fact, you might to append the best of your on-line humour to confirm your bona-fides along the lines I suggested.

  • I was married to a psychopath for twenty years – I wouldn’t work in the current WH for a million pounds a day.

  • ATF45,
    Part of the problem we fundamentalists have is that we are raised to embrace certain personality problems that interfere with hus sharing society as equals. Another problem is that, except for the young people, we can be a very insular community and thus we do not realize how many contributions that people from the LGBT community have made to our lives both personally and in society.

    Thank you for the encouragement.

  • Thanks for your response, Curt. My response comes from being continually told by people who say they are christians, that my choice to marry someone appropriate for me, will have Jesus throwing me into a lake of fire when he returns. That somehow, my “sin” is far worse than any sin they have ever committed, or ever could.

    I, personally, can not see sin in my love for my wife. Nor does anyone who knows us. And, like yourself, I do find other women attractive, but my vows to my wife mean more to me than anything else, even if they weren’t legal when we first made them. I would never disrespect her, or myself, enough to act on any desire for anyone else.

    I had a woman ask me 7 years ago if this a new relationship. When I replied, “No, we’ve been together 18 years, why do you think it’s new?” She said, “Well, you treat each other with such love and respect.” My response was perhaps that is why we were still together after 18 years. I understand others disagree that my marriage is no sin, that disagreement causes me no issue, until someone tries to make my life illegal, or thinks they should be allowed to discriminate against me in the public square for what they perceive as my sin.

    I believe that loving one another is the one thing we can do to change this violent world in which we live. In that I follow the golden rule, around long before Jesus but he is accredited for calling it the second greatest commandment, to love others as ourselves. To discriminate against someone who believes differently than we do, is not loving them, it’s not even “tough love,” it is fear and hatred of something not understood, and certainly doesn’t give anyone any reason to want to change their behavior to suit the opinion of the one judging them. Well, except for young people who are still trying to understand themselves, their wild hormones, and the world around them. They often try to please everyone and hurt themselves trying. And I include we LGBT in this, when we get way to harsh in putting our opinions out there. I understand why we do, years of being told you are trash, no good, and having personally been gay bashed, can leave a person angry at any straight person telling them what to do. But it isn’t effective, and it doesn’t help create the world of loving, caring people in which you and I would both prefer to live. Only forgiveness of others who have wronged you, and treating them with the loving kindness they may deny you, can make that change. At least that’s what I have seen in my 42 years living life as an open lesbian.

    Like you, I try very hard to really listen to what people are saying, and try to speak with thoughtfulness and care. Listen first, not run through my head what I want to say while they are talking, then take a moment to think about what they said, and formulate my reply. Conversations are slower, but real, not debate competitions for points.

    Thank you for your willingness to listen, and thank you for reminding others that christianity is not monolithic, and not all denominations of it agree with each other on this issue, as well as other issues, but we all need to find a way to respectfully disagree, without imposing our beliefs on others.

  • Daulphin,
    I hope I didn’t miscommunicate. I agree that the orientation is not a choice, but acting on the orientation can be outside certain bounds. I am still speaking from the bounds that religiously conservative Christians hold to. I hope you understood what I meant by those bounds. I got the feeling that I didn’t communicate it clearly.

    My concern is not necessarily to try to challenge the LGBT community on their orientation and actions, what I want is for all of us to see ourselves as equal members of society.. If we do that, we have a chance to make society better and to learn from each other areas outside the one we disagree on. And maybe learning from each other is what many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians are most afraid of.

  • I understood you, Curt, and I understand that for some christians, including you, my marriage is out of bounds. I will never agree with you about that, but I don’t argue your right to think that. I am agreeing we need to treat each other with love, tolerance and care, regardless of our opinions about other people’s choices.
    I lost my sister and best friend when she converted to the LDS church. I held her hand through the births of all three of her children of different fathers, (my wife with us for two of them), attended her three weddings, changed her and her children’s diapers, helped home school her kids. Yet when we could finally marry legally on our 21st anniversary, she could not even send a text that said I hope you have a great day. I did not approve of either of her first marriages, I thought she was too young for the first, and the second man she married was a social welfare project who ended up killing himself and leaving her with two of his kids, one of whom also committed suicide a few years later, the other is in jail. I thought they were bad choices, but it wasn’t my life, and my job is to love support my sister.
    I was always proud of her ability to love me and be my best friend, and to be able to say that she had a moral issue with my being lesbian, without ever treating me any differently than her other siblings or friends. But when she started to treat me differently than my other siblings, we lost that friendship. Opinion became judgement, which is not our job. I still love her, will do whatever she needs, but I no longer trust her to support me in my life. She drove her entire family 11 hours to go to a brother’s second wedding, of which she did not approve, as his now ex was 25 years younger than he, and she was sure the marriage wouldn’t last, as it did not. But after my wife being a member of our family for 21 years, we didn’t even get a phone call. My father came to our wedding via Skype at 85. To this day I have no idea what he thinks of my lesbianism, but he never gets off the phone without saying “give our love to (my wife.)” To me, that is what we should be doing. I should not be assuming anything about how you think about me because I am lesbian and you are christian, nor should you assume anything about how I think about you, as a conservative christian. Those labels don’t help us know each other as the people we are, and I really don’t think god cares about anything except that we love each other, and treat each other with loving kindness, regardless of our personal thoughts about how others should live.
    Best of luck to you.

  • It’s pretty much what Andrew Walker said there, Curt. When the challenge comes to your door —and it’s gonna come to ALL of our doors sooner or later — then we gotta do both biblical grace and biblical truth. Gotta do the biblical clarity AND the biblical compassion.

    (But do not look for the LGBT activists to compliment you on your compassion-level once you communicate the biblical clarity. Just doesn’t work that way. Oh no no.)

    Meanwhile, employer Rost has ONLY been turned down from firing Stephens. Rost would still get to share the biblical truth from Gen, Deut, Matt, etc. Stephens could not shut him up, nor stop him from praying & fasting, nor alter the employer mission statement.

  • “As we are made.” Okay. Made by who or what? Certainly not by genetics, for decades of science have yielded NO gay gene. Certainly not by SSA “feelings”, because some gay men will have fun with women sexually, even if they already self-identify as gay.

    That just leaves God as the culprit. But we already know how God and Jesus feel about homosexual behavior, because in the Bible they weren’t shy about discussing gender, marriage, sexuality, and God’s will for it all. No hate from them, but no jive either.

    Ben, I’m just saying what we both know and seen. You’re right, Jesus says “Come, follow me” (Matt. 4:19). But if you follow Jesus on Matt. 4:19, you get to turn it around and follow Jesus on Matt. 19:4 (and 5) as well. Are you ready to follow Him THAT far?

  • Daulphin,
    Part of what I think about you is that you are a very loving person. And we can always learn from those who are loving peple.

    THank you for sharing so much here.

    Curt

  • Floydiee,
    I only look for those in the LGBT community to look at me as an equal which is how I look at them. I cannot understand the pain that many in the LGBT community have gone through because of prejudice. I cannot understand it because I have not experienced it.

    My hope here isn’t that we agree, but that we work together as equals for a more just society.

  • Substitute “gay activists” for “religious fundamentalists”, and you’ll arrive at the current situation in America.

  • Let me offer this, Curt. Your postings in this thread are a pretty good reflection of your last sentence there, no joke. And yet, you saw how Ben and Dauphin reacted to what you said. That was no accident.

    In 2018, when you say the word “equals”, you ain’t really saying that word, unless you are in FULL & OPEN agreement with everything on the LGBT plate.

    You know what I’m talking about. Same thing when you say the phrase “a more just society.” You ain’t really calling for it, unless it’s FULLY, OPENLY on their terms.

    They saw you balking on a few important points there, and so the response was, well, predictable. I only ask that, even as you keep your empathetic, even-keeled attitude, you don’t give up those valued points that you’re holding onto.

  • Floydies,
    First, what is on the LGBT plate?

    Is it the legalization of same-sex marriages in society? I fully agree. In fact, I said that to my fundamentalist church in the 1990s

    Is it for anti-discrimination laws that protect the LGBT community at work, in the market place, and in public places? I fully agree. in fact, I get hammered on some Christian blogs because I defend the court actions that challenge Christian businesses that refuse to provide goods and services to same-sex weddings.and I try to make my fellow fundamentalist Christians aware of the fact that there is no legal protection for the LGBT community against discrimination at the work place in the majority of states.

    Regarding the case in the article, I am for the federal appeals court decision in favor of the EEOC described in the article above.

    If there is anything else I am not aware of, then ask.

    What did my statement about not agreeing refer to? It wasn’t referring to the case but to the comments I was responding to. It was referring to the acting out on orientation. So when I responded to you, that is what I was referring to. I appologize for the confusion.

  • Nonsense, of course. We’re not the ones advocating to destroy our marriages, discriminate on the basis of religious belief, or any of the rest.

    You’re just afraid we are going to treat you the same way you have treated us for the past 2000 years: prisons, punitive laws, degradation, suicides, murders, and bigotry.

    Sorry, dear. we’re not you. And thank the god I don’t believe in for that.

  • Your god is too small. A very small god for a very small minded set of worshippers, looking for a god who is a reflection of them, and not one that they could be a reflection of. If I were going to believe ina god, I would try to pick one with more intelligence and compassion, one that did not resemble a small minded, icky-sex-obsessed bigot.

    Clearly, your “god” is an entity who approves only of you, and you feel that approval by that “god” is all that matters in the world. You are empty people who have no being outside of your own little circle. I think you need to find a better class of god, or he needs to find a better class of worshippers. Oh, wait! he did!

    They’re called liberal Christians”, compassionate Christians, educated people.

    Now, how does thatproposition sound to you?

  • Friend curt: Sorry it has taken a day to get back to you. We’ve been busy.

    There is a difference between heterosexual sex outside of heterosexual marriage, and sexual orientation. It is what makes your first paragraph factually wrong. I am not heterosexual, not even a heterosexual “gone bad”. I’ve never been heterosexual, not in any meaningful sense. So comparing being gay to heterosexual sex outside of marriage in not apt. Proper comparisons would be heterosexual vs homosexual, heterosexual sex vs. homosexual sex, heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage, and sex outside of both of the latter. The whole of the gay rights movement is built on the semantic, social, legal, cultural, sexual, and yes, faith based equality of the terms.

    Your second paragraph we absolutely agree on. The problem comes when the burdens laid upon gay people by conservative Christians are not the same burdens laid upon heterosexuals, whether religious or not. A heterosexual can get married, and according your beliefs, should wait until marriage. Gay people are told no sex, love romanc,e family, marriage whatsoever unless it is to someone of the opposite sex. The restrictions are the same irregardless, BUT THE PEOPLE ARE NOT.

    A comparable situation would be antimiscegenation laws. Yes, everyone has exactly the same rights. To marry someone of the same race, not t marry someone outside of their race. But the people are not being treated equally. You can marry a white woman, but my friend Tyrone cannot. you really don’t have to same rights at all. You do have the same restrictions.

    More later. I don’t have time right now.

  • Ben,
    My first paragraph wasn’t about you, I was using me as an illustration.. My point is this, the Scriptures are clear as to what God wants and we are both equally vulnerable to not doing what God wants. Even though our orientations are different, we are in similar boats. Though the boats are not identical they have more in common than many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians care to admit. . That was the point of my first paragraph.

    As for you 2nd paragraph, I know the Scriptures go against your orientaton and I know that has to feel unfair. But again, we are in similar boats when using the Scriptures as our guide. And I think using the Scriptures as our guid is the core disagreement between us.

    However, society isn’t obligated to follow the Scriptures. That is becaues society has to make room for both Christians and nonChristians. And too many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians are afraid of both those in the LGBT community and not acting with enough righteous indignation against certain sexual sins. We can compare burden they feel to the burden Martin Luther put on all Germans regarding what to do about the refusal by Jews to believe in Christ. Luther told all Germans that unless they worked to punish Jews for their unbelief, they would be complicit in the Jews’ refusal to believe in Christ. Similarly, IMO,, many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians feel compelled to make a show of their opposition to homosexuality in society without caring about the damage they do. Note that what follows Romans 1 and its statements about sex is Romans 2:1-. Paul states there that we are not to judge because we too are guilty of sin. But we should note that God does judge all of us.

  • Now I have time to finish.

    Your last paragraph is where I was planning to go with the rest of my response. Why is it that I can reject the totality of conservative Christian belief, and this bothers no one but the most rabid of fundamentalists? Why are there no significant political campaigns promulgated against Jews, atheists, Mormons, SDA’s, Muslims, and Hindus? Why is it that gay people cannot get the same courtesy, respect, and accommodation of spirit the so many fundamentalist Christians– present company excluded, of course– routinely extend to all of the other people that those Christians live with in our society?

    I think there are two answers. First, of course, is the obvious one: homosexuality is the sin that these fundamentalists have no intention– or every intention– of committing. But that doesn’t explain everything. What does explain everything is that this prejudice is an ancient, vicious, and durable one, so deeply engrained in our psyches that fathers are afraid to kiss their sons lest someone think that they are queer. Gay people, by our very existence, and unfortunately, completely imaginarily in the hearts of religious antigay people, strikes at the very center of sex, sexuality, reproduction, male and female, and what all of that means to them as RELIGIOUS PEOPLE, whose thinking on the subjects of sex and gender is very rigid, and informed by what people 2000-3000 years ago may have thought on the subject.

    Of course, it really doesn’t, unless you believe a priori that it does. All it really says is that people are not all alike. Sexual orientation, bio sex, and sociological gender are independent factors. I am a very masculine gay man; most people don’t know unless I tell them. I have not even the smallest heterosexual bone in my body, and not even the remotest desire to be anything but a man.

    And that is what offends religious antigay people: I stand in opposition to their preconceptions about sex, gender, and sexuality. As a respectable homosexual, I never know whether I am supposed to be a simpering effeminate man, weak and ineffectual, or a hyper masculine, hyper muscular psychopath. I’ve heard both, sometimes simultaneously from the same person.

    Of course, that isn’t about me at all. It’s all about THEM and their issues, not about the reality that is me. The end of Romans 1 is the perfect example. The context is idolatry, not sex. But that’s what it is made into, a condemnation of sexual orientation, when in fact it is a condemnation of idolatry AND heterosexuals engaging in homosex in the context of idolatry.

    Corinthians is another example. “religiously conservative Christians feel compelled to make a show of their opposition to homosexuality in society without caring about the damage they do.” Not concerned at all about the lies, the slanders, the abuse, the reviling, equally sinful in that famous passage. Yet fundamentalists will say that we only wish to get married to attack marriage, that our very presence endangers society. We get blamed for sexual abuse of children, when the data overwhelmingly shows that we are at worst no more responsible for it than our proportion in society, and probably, far less responsible than that. Jerry Sandusky, Ronnie gorton, Eddi Long, Melvyn Iscove, and a good percentage of the catholic priesthood are perfect examples of this.

    Don’t-ask-don’t-tell, heavily supported by conservative Christians, is yet another example. Unit cohesion, military preparedness, sexual predators, hairy men in pink tutus– It all turned out to be a lie, not that it wasn’t obvious to anyone paying any attention to it.

    THIS is what you have out deal with. Jesus said to take care of your own sins before you presume to deal with the alleged sins of other people. When do hyper conservative fundamentalists EVER do this?

    We are their scapegoats.

  • What a sad response

    a) Clinton is not currently CinC so why waste your time?
    b) You would have been entitled to direct the question to him sixteen years ago – today it comes across as just a pathetic attempt to excuse having a psychopath in the WH.
    c) Two wrongs do not make a right.

    As to b) – I don’t recall there being any lead up in the form of bragging, divorce after cheating or unmistakable evidence of mental impairment prior to Bill Clinton’s election. Those who voted for Trump either don’t have that excuse or are dead from the neck up.

  • Heard it all before, Ben. Nobody’s offering any legislation to put you in prison, (and you ain’t in physical prison anyway).

    Meanwhile, God mourns on every suicide equally, for whatever reasons, straight or gay.

    But I can and have looked suicidal youths and adults in the eye, and said with all my heart that it ain’t too late for them, that it ain’t over yet, that God **will** make a way outta no way for them specifically, even if there ain’t no way out AT ALL.
    I tell them what God says in Jeremiah 29:11, and I see its direct impact hit them and ignite one more spark of hope.

    Atheism can’t do that. Gayness can’t do that. The God you reject, is real.

  • Nen,
    You know that I oppose the abuse that my fellow fundamentalists have visited on the LGBT community. And I have gotten hammered in some Christian blogs because I have challenged that abuse. If we fundmentalists were honest with ourselves, we would readily admit that there are parts of the Christian Fundmenatlist culture that are not Biblical as well as harmful to ourselves. And we pass that harm on to others.

    You are right that many of my fellow fundamentalists have made the LGBT community into scapegoats. I apologize for that. I can’t offer any excuses but hope to offer some insight that would allow you to understand the mental dynamics involved.

    First, the reaction to the LGBT community from many of my fellow fundamentalists, and I do share much of their theological beliefs, comes from the intersection of fear and authortarianism. What comes with that authoritarianism is the compulsion to want to punish those who do wrong. Some of us will avoid punishing ourselves while others almost revel in mental/spiritual self-torture that rivals how the faithful in some religions beat themselves.

    There are actually three fears involved here. One is that some of us are afraid that they share your orientation and so they try to prove that they don’t by taking it out on the LGBT community.. Others are scared to death of the growing secular culture and what will society allow next. To put it musically, they sing Anything Goes in style of music that starts Carmina Burana–btw, I am a musician. The authoriatian personality types we often suffer from amplifies that fear by causing us to practice all-or-nothing thinking. Thus we lack any kind of nuanced response to the sins ofthers and the LGBT community bears the brunt of that. There is also the fear among some of my fellow fundamentalists that the practices of the LGBT community will produce an American sequel to Sodom and Gommorah.

    Finally, if you read Martin Luther about how he wanted German society to punish Jews for their unbelief, you get a picture of how some of my fellow fundamentalists feel compelled to treat the LGBT community. For Luther told his fellow Germans that unless they punished the Jews for their unbelief, they would be complicit in the unbelief of the Jews. And so some of us are trying to prove our faith or avoid being complicit. in what the LGBT community practices.

    There is no need for me to repeat my beliefs here about the practices of the LGBT community. You know that I have some disagreements with your interpretation of Romans 1. But, that isn’t what I want to focus on in this comment. I just want to apologize for the centuries of abuse the LGBT community has had to suffer through because my fellow fundamentalist chose not to share society with yous guys as equals. In fact, many of my fellow fundeamentalists are still fighting the notion of sharing society with yous guys, and others, as equals. I hope this comment helps.

  • Thank you, Curt. I know that your a good man. You have demonstrated that repeatedly.

    I agree with your analysis. What amazes me is that what all of the things the Bible says about sodom, the least likely is homosexuality. And in their efforts not to become the sodom of their imaginations, they have instead become the sodom that is depicted in the Bible.

    The utter hypocrisy of that position is illustrated by a story of one of my best friends, who Was going to become a priest some 25 years ago. There was a national council of Churches, or some such very multi-denominational conclave which he attended. These various types of Christians had no problem sitting down with each other, but they objected to the presence of the Metropolitan Community Church. It was the one place where they agreeed, including the RCC, his own denomination.

    It began the process of abandoning his vocation. Six months later, he left the RCC, and six months after that, became an atheist.

  • No one is offering legislation? Not now. But read Bobby Joe and Joe Bob. They,re not going to object.

    And neither would you

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