"Kids' needs are rarely "convenient." What they require in order to succeed rarely comes cheaply. To raise them well will require daily sacrifice of many kinds, which has the wonderful spiritual effect of helping mold us into the character of Jesus Christ himself. God invites us to grow beyond ourselves and to stop acting as though our dreams begin and end with us. Once we have children, we cannot act and dream as though we had remained childless."

- Gary Thomas
Waco Tribune-Herald On Brittney Griner ...

... and her recent critical comments about Baylor University.

Now, as it pertains to the university’s official, much-publicized stance on homosexuality, it must be stressed that Baylor is a Christian school founded on biblical principles. So what Griner is really saying is that she doesn’t like what the Bible has to say on the topic. In my view, Baylor should be applauded, not condemned, for sticking to those principles, whether the mainstream culture considers them popular or not.


Yep. Read it all.

Trackbacks:

Trackback URL: http://thinklings.org/bloo.trackback.php/6985.

Comments on "Waco Tribune-Herald On Brittney Griner ...":
1. NHE - 03/07/2014 7:51 am CST

That seems to be a very fair article. The point about Baylor being her "choice" is especially strong.

Question: was she "out" at Baylor? Or did she wait to come out? If she waited, was it because she would have been disciplined/kicked out if she spoke up? Just curious.

Regardless, my guess is that Baylor handled the situation much better than Brigham Young would (my bias seeping out again).

2. Tony - 03/07/2014 9:08 am CST

NHE, in the article it mentions that she came out of the closet after leaving Baylor.

Here you have a case where Baylor 'loved' Brittney and because of Baylor's stance on the behavior of homosexuality, they are intolerant. The whole LGBT movement is making it very difficult on their own people (much like some supposed Christian groups make it difficult on the cause of Christianity). It doesn't matter if Christians reach out to gay person's in love and accept them or it doesn't matter if a gay person's neighbor gives them the shirt off their backs, if their belief is a disagreement with the LGBT lifestyle, they should be labeled intolerant which implies and therefore be hated. The notion of what a person believes is more important than how a person treats you is a very emotional position.

3. Bird - 03/07/2014 9:11 am CST

Well said, Tony.

4. Karl - 03/07/2014 9:25 am CST

Those are all good points and I generally agree.

At the same time, I think that in the midst of making these points it is easy to ignore what it's like for someone who is gay and in the closet to be in a Christian community where something that feels so fundamental to who they are is routinely held out as being evil. Hearing the sort of things they would routinely hear if "the gay topic" came up and nobody in the room realized there was a gay person present. If the writer doesn't have enough empathy to be able to put himself in her shoes and see how painful that would be regardless of how many back-slaps and autograph requests she got for her basketball prowess, then I think he may forfeit the right - or at least the moral high ground - to debate the (valid) points made here.

5. Bird - 03/07/2014 9:34 am CST

At the same time, I think that in the midst of making these points it is easy to ignore what it's like for someone who is gay and in the closet to be in a Christian community where something that feels so fundamental to who they are is routinely held out as being evil.

Unfortunately we are all sinners, therefore so many things that feel so "fundamental to who [we] are" are condemned rightfully as sin. That's a human problem, not just a homosexual problem.

6. Karl - 03/07/2014 9:46 am CST

Another valid point that without empathy is a clanging cymbal.

Have you ever spoken with or read the account of a gay person (celibate or not) who grew up in a conservative Christian environment? The fear, shame, self-hatred, countless hours spent weeping and crying out to God to 'take it away' and make them different? The way they felt as friends and acquaintances who had no idea, made comments about gay people?

If you can know all that and all you have to say about it is the comment #5, then I honestly don't know what to say.

7. Bird - 03/07/2014 9:53 am CST

Another valid point that without empathy is a clanging cymbal.

I don't quite understand how you can discern that roughly 30 words -- which even you concede made a "valid point" -- reveals a lack of empathy on my part?

8. Bill - 03/07/2014 10:01 am CST

Karl, to Bird's point, I wonder sometimes if it's not that you're arguing what's been said in a thread (by a real person) as much as you're battling your fundamentalist past and the stereotypical hateful Christian you percieve. It's a template that (I hope I'm wrong on this) seems to get placed upon every post and comment.

For my part, I would never have dared write this post because I knew it would turn, very quickly, into "I agree for the most part, but your hatefulness has removed all your moral authority" - Which it did, in about six comments.

9. Bird - 03/07/2014 10:09 am CST

Have you ever spoken with or read the account of a gay person (celibate or not) who grew up in a conservative Christian environment?

Yes. I had breakfast with one about two months ago. Great guy.

It's a template that (I hope I'm wrong on this) seems to get placed upon every post and comment.

I fear that is correct, Bill.

10. Karl - 03/07/2014 10:22 am CST

Bill and Bird, I was talking (at first) about the newspaper column. It makes a valid point that Griner appears to be biting the hand that fed her (and fed her well). It makes a few more valid points including the question of why did she choose Baylor if this was going to be problematic for her, and also the fact that Baylor has the right to take the stance that it does.

What it does not do, is show any empathy for what it would be like to be a closeted gay person in that environment. Instead it implies that because she was a valued and much loved mascot for the school, a public figure much adored, had friends on campus and knew going in (as a teenager when she committed) what the school's position on homosexuality was, she can't legitimately complain about anything that she heard or experienced during her time there.

There was a time I would have copied such an article to my Facebook wall or forwarded it to friends via email. Then I actually listened to people who grew up gay in the church. The points made in this article - and secondarily by Bird in the comments - are so beside the point when it comes to the fact of the pain these people experience. I think Griner's response is wrong. Many of the reasons I think she is wrong are stated in the article. But I think any Christian response to her that doesn't start with or at least include as a major part of it, an acknowledgement of what it must have been like for her, is a hollow and loveless response simply from a Christian point of view. I don't think Jesus would respond to her comments re. her feelings about Baylor by debating her and giving her the old logical smackdown. Maybe I'm wrong though.

11. Karl - 03/07/2014 11:17 am CST

Sorry, maybe I'm just touchy this morning. But I didn't think my comment in #4 was that out of line. A little strongly stated (forfeit the right/moral high ground) but I wasn't going on the attack against all the Thinklings stand for. And the initial comment was directed solely at the news article. I've had long discussions in the last couple of years with Christian (one ex-Christian, one still professing) friends I grew up with who have since come out of the closet. I also recently read a book-length account by someone else who grew up Christian and (unknown to anyone at the time and unacted-upon by him) gay. I now read such things through those people's eyes and I think empathy not just hidden in our hearts but in all our statements on this issue, is a big deal.

12. NHE - 03/07/2014 1:29 pm CST

I agree 100% of course with Karl's feelings on the issue, but I thought the article was fair when factoring in that the vantage point of the writer is a rather traditional Southern Baptist perspective on the issue.

It's just hard for me to believe that Greiner decided to go there (when she could have gone anywhere) without knowing that a Baptist school might have something in their value statement about the "sin" of homosexuality. To me, that's on her, and it's unfair to speak out against the school's policy after she's left and decided to come out....especially considering (as was stated in the article) how highly she was regarded there.

I find myself becoming more and more aligned with Andy Stanley's view on the homosexual issue - "the topic's just too powder-keg-loaded to discuss in a public forum".......sometimes even a public Christian forum. These are the kinds of conversations that your "MOOT retreats" are probably more suited for.

13. Tony - 03/07/2014 2:07 pm CST

What it does not do, is show any empathy for what it would be like to be a closeted gay person in that environment.

Karl, I do feel empathetic for them having to grow up with that kind of social pressure. I'm empathetic towards many human sufferings that cause me to pause and wonder about the bigger meaning of life. But at the same time, gays have to be intellectually honest about their situation and stop feeling sorry for themselves. It is what it is, sort of speak. Best estimates is 1 in 10 persons in the US are gay. So, the LGBT community has to realize that 90% of the population may have a hard time relating to their viewpoint.

Some of us have been bullied and it is very tramatic but we need to overcome this mentally or we will go crazy. I've heard divorce described as 'hell on earth', not to bring marriage aspect into the debate but to point out that life is one big conflict after another. This whole notion of the LGBT community 'tar and feathering' people for not completely accepting our viewpoints is going to hurt them in the long run. Nobody likes to hang around people who complain and feel sorry for themselves all the time.

NHE, I just read your post - yep powder-keg. I think I just lit the fuse. Sorry, but I needed to get that off my chest. I feel better now. Time to go love on some people.

14. dbd - 03/07/2014 2:24 pm CST

Best estimates is 1 in 10 persons in the US are gay.

Oh my gosh, no.

That number is long discredited. Kinsey's sampling methods were not the best, and he never actually claimed it as a percentage of humanity anyway - it included only men, was tied to a weirdly arbitrary age limit, etc etc.

The numbers from more recent studies show a lot of variance but are all much lower, and the percentage for women is lower than for men.

15. Tony - 03/07/2014 2:51 pm CST

dbd, I didn't mean to drudge up some 'Haeckel embryo hoax' type statistic ;) I was erring on the side of logic in that even if the gay community comprised of a high 10% population - there in the minority still.

16. Karl - 03/07/2014 3:49 pm CST

I like that Andy Stanley quote. Powder keg, indeed.

NHE, I agree that is a telling point against Griner's complaints. I hope I've made clear I generally disagree with what she apparently said and did vis a vis Baylor in her book. But I do give a little latitude on that "why go there then?" issue based on the fact that she was probably what, 16 or 17 when she was recruited by Baylor and committed to go there? I wonder how sophisticated she was at that point re. Baylor's beliefs on this issue. I also wonder whether she had at that age come to accept/believe that she was a lesbian or if she was (a) in denial, (b) confused, (c) hoping not to be and hoping a place like Baylor would help her not be, or something along those lines. All of those are at least possible answers to the "well why did you go there then?" question. But still, whatever she may have known when she was a teenager by the time she got out of college she certainly knew what Baylor stood for including on this issue and shouldn't be shocked about it or blame the institution for adhering to a standard that is not new to it. Bad job by her. I'm still not surprised she experienced a great deal of Christian-inflicted pain and isolation while there though and I wish any Christian response to her ill-considered comments would acknowledge and factor that in rather than just giving a rebuttal and chastisement.

Tony, I think the divorce issue is a good comparison in some ways. Imagine if a person was divorced and then spent time in a Christian community where the sin of divorce was talked about a lot, where divorced people and their agenda to be allowed to re-marry contrary to the commands of scripture were frequently listed among the main things wrong with Christianity in America today and exhibit A in the unraveling of the fabric or America, where it seemed that every time a divorced person appeared or was depicted on TV some Christian in the room felt compelled to make a comment about how sad or sick or wrong or awful or lost they were or how their positive portrayal in the media or allowing them to have a talk show even though they were divorced, was a sign of America going down the tubes. And because nobody at the church knew this particular person was divorced, they would hear a LOT of talk about how awful for America the acceptance of divorced people in mainstream society was - much more than they'd have heard if the people speaking realized that they actually had one of THOSE people right there in the room with them (of course they'd have tempered their comments some, then).

I mean - that would suck. Not just suck, it would take the ordinary "pain of divorce" (which I'm sure is awful and isolating enough) to a whole new level and make life within that Christian community frequently a living hell, probably the spiritual low point of that person's existence and the biggest barrier to their coming close to God. I think Christians often make gay people feel that way - especially the unknown closeted gay people in their midst like Griner was.

I agree the PC crowd is over the top on this issue looking to tar and feather anyone who in good conscience believes homosexual behavior to be a sin. But the Christian crowd can do a better job of showing love, empathy and compassion without surrendering beliefs. I'm with Andy Stanley re. the powder keg.

17. NHE - 03/07/2014 4:04 pm CST

Karl, I have a hard time believing there wasn't someone in Griner's support system at age 16 to tell her "um, that's a Baptist school, you sure you're cool with that?" Even if that's not the case, publicly throwing stones at your alma mateur is just not easily justified in most cases.

18. Bird - 03/07/2014 4:28 pm CST

Griner claims she came out of the closet in high school, I think her sophomore year. Meaning she came out to her mom (and maybe other family members), but not to society at large.

I think she chose BU because we're close to her home town and we gave her a reasonable chance to win a National Championship (which she did).

19. Bird - 03/07/2014 4:30 pm CST

But the Christian crowd can do a better job of showing love, empathy and compassion without surrendering beliefs.

I think that's what BU did, and that's a big reason why this has touched a nerve.

20. Karl - 03/07/2014 5:02 pm CST

Good point, NHE. I didn't know that she apparently came out to those close to her that young. That does make the decision to go to BU seem a little more of a head scratcher. Bird I didn't know that local context. My impression from afar (and not being much of a follower of women's college basketball) was that she only came out toward the very end of her career or after leaving BU. If it was basically a known thing at BU and she was well treated there (not just as a celebrity athlete and fun gal but in the context of this aspect of her as well) then I agree that does make this a lot less understandable.

21. NHE - 03/07/2014 5:47 pm CST

But the Christian crowd can do a better job of showing love, empathy and compassion without surrendering beliefs.

So, are you saying that Baylor knew she was gay and either accepted her anyway, or found out she was gay after she was enrolled and didn't confront her on it?

Because if you breathe on the opposite sex at Bob Jones or Brigham Young (let alone the SAME sex) you're hung from the rafters of the gym, not your number! :)

22. Bird - 03/07/2014 9:58 pm CST

So, are you saying that Baylor knew she was gay and either accepted her anyway, or found out she was gay after she was enrolled and didn't confront her on it?

When Brittney came out to the world at large (post BU) she said that in HS she came out to her mom. I know she wasn't "out" to Baylor until her career was over, but I would assume that close friends and probably coaches knew about her same sex attraction. That's just conjecture, though.

23. NHE - 03/07/2014 10:11 pm CST

cool.....I applaud the friends and coaches Bird, even if just speculation

24. Bill - 03/08/2014 8:44 am CST

Good discussion everyone, possibly saved from going over the cliff by the gracious responses ;-)

NHE - you know I have a peeve about scare quotes. :-)

So I was wondering, what's your thinking behind scare quotes here? It's just hard for me to believe that Greiner decided to go there (when she could have gone anywhere) without knowing that a Baptist school might have something in their value statement about the "sin" of homosexuality.

I'm not challenging you, if you think homosexuality is improperly categorized as a sin in scripture, though I disagree. But I'm curious - I think more and more Christians are wavering on this topic, and I think there are at least several reasons why this may be happening. Here are a few:

1. After careful scriptural study they have concluded that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior. This is the stance I have the least respect for - the Bible says what it says on this topic, clearly, and I find it very difficult to come to the conclusion that it means something else without throwing out a whole lot of good theological and hermeneutical baby with the bathwater

2. They feel that as Christians we have ranked sins improperly and are way more tolerant of divorce, adultery, gluttony, gossip, etc, than we are of homosexual behavior. That doesn't make homosexual behavior any less a sin, but there is a sense here that we need to apply our standards evenly and with much more grace. I would agree with this (although I wouldn't have used the scare quotes above)

3. They don't care what the Bible says on this topic, because this is, after all, the 21st century. I disagree quite a bit with this viewpoint, but I think we're going to see it more and more.

4. They believe what the Bible says about homosexual behavior but are afraid of the cultural repercussions of standing for that belief (the "powder keg"), and are also further cautious and/or confused because they are not sure if some people are legitimately born this way, etc. I have sympathy for this, because there is overwhelming cultural pressure these days for not just tolerance, but active acceptance and celebration of the homosexual lifestyle and it is very hard to swim against a tide, especially when doing so will label one as hateful or bigoted, regardless of what is really in one's heart. This pressure and accusation has even been applied in this thread, among long-time blog friends. Imagine what it's like to stand up for Biblical standards of sexuality among those who perceive our faith as the enemy.

It's a very difficult topic. For example, what is the proper, loving, Christian response as a friend of a gay person? Of course, baseline it should be love and grace and complete lack of patronization, etc. We are all sinners. But what then? Is there any way to do the very hard work of restoring a brother/sister to the Lord, as we (hopefully) would want our friends to work to restore us if we were contemplating divorce or an affair, or had a real problem with gossip or bitterness, or had an addiction of some sort? Or is the loving response simply to pretend like there isn't a problem at all, so as not to offend our friend?

It's very difficult to know how best to approach any of this. Because the sin of homosexual behavior is both a) not considered a sin at all in the wider culture, unlike many other activities (gluttony of alcohol, gossip and slander, hatred of our brothers, etc) where there still is agreement between the church and the culture and b) because it is, rightly or wrongly, now linked with iron chains to "who the person is in their deepest self" - in other words, for many people they see it as their defining characteristic. So the desire to see a friend be aligned with God's design for sexuality is now seen as a desire to destroy the very person they are.

It's tough. The church is in for some very tough sledding on this topic, I believe.

Interested in your thoughts (but hopefully not your flamethrowers).

25. Andrew - 03/08/2014 11:45 am CST

Not sure if it is germane, but I was at Baylor for the whole of Griner's career there. All of the students, at least everyone in my social circle, knew that she was gay during her stay there. She was "in the closet" only to the extent that she did not make public comments about it. It was not a secret, though. The university may claim that they didn't know, but I don't think that's possible. For whatever it's worth, I never sensed that Griner was treated unfairly because of her sexual preference.

26. Bird - 03/08/2014 1:30 pm CST

Good insight, Andrew. That's what I sort of figured.

27. dbd - 03/08/2014 2:48 pm CST

The university may claim that they didn't know, but I don't think that's possible.

Has the university in fact made this claim? The article doesn't say.

What would have been the consequence for Griner and the team had her orientation been acknowledged as known by Baylor? Is there a set policy?

28. NHE - 03/08/2014 3:21 pm CST

Bill, I don't know what scare quotes are.

I do believe homosexuality to be a sin, but I put it on equal par with other "deadly" sins. If we are disqualifying gay people from leadership in our churches, then we should be disqualifying overweight (gluttonous) people, envious people, etc. Much wisdom is required here.

That's my view. This is why I think it's such a powder keg topic, it just can't be resolved to be agreed upon in a forum setting.

29. Bird - 03/08/2014 4:02 pm CST

What would have been the consequence for Griner and the team had her orientation been acknowledged as known by Baylor? Is there a set policy?

Yes, there's a policy against "homosexual behavior." Not sure what the consequence would have been, but I would think it nearly impossible to prove homosexual behavior -- as opposed to orientation.

30. Evan - 03/08/2014 5:02 pm CST

"much wisdom is needed here"

I don't agree with that. If you agree that homosexual conduct is a sin, as I think scripture clearly does, then it is required of you and every like-minded Christian to avoid it. Period.

Sure it may be tough, even incredibly tough to do so for some Christians. It may feel unfair because of the implications of avoiding it. Your church or other Christians might overemphasize this particular sin, versus other sins they might seem to tolerate. None of those things matters, as your personal obligation is clear. And any church or Christian that tells you otherwise is committing a sin themselves.

So what great wisdom is needed here?

31. Bill - 03/08/2014 5:36 pm CST

Bill, I don't know what scare quotes are.

Sorry, I thought we'd discussed those before. Often times when a word is put in quotes of a particular kind (when there is nothing actually being quoted) it can be said the word or phrase is in scare quotes. Scare quotes are usually short hand for "so-called". In other words, your statement could have been read as "the so-called sin of homosexuality" because you quoted the word "sin" without it being a direct quote of anybody.

I do believe homosexuality to be a sin, but I put it on equal par with other "deadly" sins. If we are disqualifying gay people from leadership in our churches, then we should be disqualifying overweight (gluttonous) people, envious people, etc. Much wisdom is required here.

Well, the Biblical pattern for church leadership is to be "above reproach", so I can't argue with you. The answer isn't, of course, to relax the standard. Of course we need wisdom when selecting church leaders, and discernment, and many other things. I don't think we need to agonize about whether to ordain practicing homosexuals. At least I don't - that activity is not above reproach, biblically, regardless of what our wider culture says.

A few other things that make this conversation difficult:

1. There is a difference between same-sex attraction and homosexual activity. There are a number of Christians who are attracted to the same sex but are living in purity. We tend to conflate the two, and they shouldn't be.

1a. There are also a number of heterosexual Christians who are unmarried and have chosen to live in purity. Again, that's a good choice for them.

2. There is a misunderstanding as well (or a jumping to conclusions) that disapproval of an activity means violating a persons rights. Many Christians believe homosexual activity to be a sin. Very few that I've seen or know think homosexuals shouldn't be able to hold a job or go to school or enjoy all the other rights and responsibilities the rest of our citizens enjoy (with the obvious sticking area of the current redefinition of marriage that's going on). I can say that homosexual activity is a sin without thinking that Griner should be banned from Baylor athletics. Just as I don't think that we should say that gluttons shouldn't be allowed to be employed or play sports or whatever.

32. Karl - 03/08/2014 9:25 pm CST

"This pressure and accusation has even been applied in this thread, among long-time blog friends."

Bill, in your #8 you used a hate-derivative (hateful, hatefulness) word twice. That's the only place I see an accusation of bigotry or hatred (actually it's an accusation of having made such an accusation) in the thread. I also don't see anyone advocating for an active acceptance and celebration of a homosexual lifestyle. In case you think I was, I wasn't.

Showing empathy doesn't mean condoning. Failing to show empathy doesn't necessarily equal bigotry or hatred. I wasn't claiming to know whether the author of the newspaper piece or Bird harbor empathy somewhere deep in their hearts for the pain of gay people in general or for Griner specifically. I was observing that up until that point there was no evidence of empathy for Griner in the article or the comments. Even a halfhearted nod in the direction of empathy, a regretful admission that she probably heard some hurtful and ugly stuff said about gay people in the name of Christ while at BU before going on to take her to task for what she says in her book, and I probably wouldn't have commented at all.

For what it's worth I'm in Bill's category #2. I also agree it sounds like Griner has been unfair to Baylor. Christians have a right to point that out. I wish that when they feel compelled to do so, they also would place themselves in her shoes.

How would I discuss this issue with a gay or lesbian person who I knew? First it would depend on the context and the relationship. But basically I would hope to treat them the same as I would treat a heterosexual friend who was sleeping with their significant other, someone who was divorced and remarried, or a fellow Christian who I believe to be in thrall to the love of mammon and materialism. In most cases I wouldn't make it a priority to ensure that they knew I disapproved of their behavior, their spending habits or their sleeping habits - nor would I say that I approved. I'd try to just be a friend to thtem. Unless they have lived under a rock, gay people know that Christians disapprove of homosexual behavior and in fact they'll probably take it farther than that and believe that Christians hate gay people, period. I'd rather try to disprove that latter assumption than continue to reinforce a disapproval they are already aware of. Ask them. Ask them their perceptions of Christians. Ask them where those perceptions came from. Ask for examples of things that have been said to them personally by Christians or that they have heard Christians say. It might help develop empathy. Even if it doesn't, they'll appreciate being listened to when they expected to be preached at or scolded.

33. Bill - 03/08/2014 9:55 pm CST

Well said Karl. I agree for the most part (heh, I need to code a keystroke combination that writes that out since we both tend to say it a lot)

I probably overreacted, because I know Bird and know his heart and you called him a clanging cymbal. I personnaly think you maybe should apologize to him because in context you were saying he has no love and that's just not true. I get maybe a bit over defensive of my friends, but, again, I know him. If you had ever had a steak with the guy you'd see what I mean.

But, bottom line, I think you are correct in the gracious manner that we should talk to friends struggling with or who have embraced and acting on same sex attraction. Never disagreed there, and have even put that into practice myself - tried my best at least - in conversations about Jesus, church, etc with a friend I care about who has same sex attraction.

34. Evan - 03/09/2014 12:06 am CST

"Showing empathy doesn't mean condoning."
Never?

"Failing to show empathy doesn't necessarily equal bigotry or hatred."
But usually does, right?

35. Tony - 03/09/2014 7:06 am CDT

I also agree it sounds like Griner has been unfair to Baylor. Christians have a right to point that out. I wish that when they feel compelled to do so, they also would place themselves in her shoes.

Hi Karl, Individually what you and Bill are saying I agree with - we need to love our neighbor as our self (even if they are gay) but corporately , like the angle the article is coming from, the LGBT community and their 1984ish thought police tactic of labeling people as intolerant if you don't holistically embrace their thinking, needs to be called out. Can I not love and empathize for every individual gay person that make up the LGBT community but disagree with their corporate message? Yes, I believe I can especially if your corporate message is to try to build up your own group by tearing down other people. That is not a good tactic for any group. There are persons in the gay community that disagree with this intolerant message themselves and think that they shouldn't be messing around with the whole marriage issue either but the LGBT 'movement' is pushing the envelope sort of speak and I believe culturally we need to let them know that they just crossed the line. Brittney Griner actions reveal how much trouble in the long run gay persons will have by throwing this intolerant label around. Am I a bit over zealous about this or am I logically flawed in this thinking?

36. Andrew - 03/09/2014 8:06 am CDT

"Showing empathy doesn't mean condoning."
Never?


Often it doesn't. Anyone who works with children knows that empathy does not have to equal approval.

"Failing to show empathy doesn't necessarily equal bigotry or hatred."
But usually does, right?


No. I often fail to empathize with my dog (sometimes by choice), but I certainly don't hate my dog, nor do I harbor any bigotry towards canines in general.

37. Karl - 03/09/2014 10:41 am CDT

Bill, you are right that I owe Bird an apology. Bird, I apologize for the way I replied in #6.

But to both you guys - to clarify, I wasn't saying that Bird himself IS a clanging cymbal (i.e. that he has no love). I was speaking strictly of comment #5. I was saying that if a gay person reads the article, asks "how about some empathy for what a gay person might experience in 4 years on a Baptist campus?" and receives back a theological truism, then that exchange - those theologically true words delivered that way (with still no discernible evidence of empathy) - might well be nothing but a clanging cymbal as far as the gay person is concerned. Saying "I don't think you are showing the love that you probably do have" is different than saying "I don't think you have any love to show."

But in the context of an internet discussion on a powderkeg topic, and given the history of the discussion here recently, I should have been more careful in how I said what I did.

Empathy: the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else's feelings

2 : the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this

38. Evan - 03/09/2014 11:26 am CDT

I'll try it a different way:

"Showing empathy doesn't mean condoning."
""Failing to show empathy doesn't necessarily equal bigotry or hatred."

Which of these two assertions contains a qualifier and which doesn't?

39. NHE - 03/09/2014 4:15 pm CDT

Evan and Bill, Re: comments #29 and #30 -

Perhaps my example of "church leadership" is poor.

I just mean that much wisdom is required in addressing the issue of homosexuality in our churches. Simply, if we have someone in our church who says they "practice" homosexuality, we need to tread lightly. If we tell them they can't come to our church unless they stop acting on those impulses, then we need to tell the fat people that they need to stop eating cake, or find another church - I really do mean that!

You may respond - "the fat person knows he's in sin, the gay person doesn't!" True, in most cases. However, to me, all the more reason why the gay person needs to be loved toward that understanding, rather than preached to about it. They are usually part of a cult-like subculture that gives them love they've never experienced from the church. Time for us to start now.

Additionally, rehabilitating a gay person is much more complex than rehabilitating a fat person. Corresponding grace should be given (I believe) to the person who has the more challenging behavior pattern to overcome. I just don't think the, especially conservative, American evangelical church handles this well at all.

That's what I mean by "much wisdom is required". Hope that helps.

40. NHE - 03/09/2014 4:24 pm CDT

Sorry, I meant comments 30 and 31

41. Bird - 03/09/2014 4:33 pm CDT

Bird, I apologize for the way I replied in #6.

Accepted. No worries. ;-)

42. Bill - 03/09/2014 5:59 pm CDT

NHE,

I agree - as a churchman I know that we need to greatly improve how we handle this issue. I feel like my church is currently heading in the right direction on this but it's a thorny and difficult issue

Karl - thank you for your gracious response to Bird!

43. Andrew - 03/09/2014 8:27 pm CDT

"Showing empathy doesn't mean condoning."
"Failing to show empathy doesn't necessarily equal bigotry or hatred."

Which of these two assertions contains a qualifier and which doesn't?


I think the two constructions are basically correct.

Empathy literally does not mean condoning, and failing to empathize does not always mean hatred. Failure to empathize is often the result of ignorance or holding false premises, and does not always entail hatred.

Actively rejecting empathy with another human being, I think, is the same as choosing not to love. Making that choice is a denial of the other's humanity. (This idea gets really disturbing when we start to think of rapists, murderers, pedophiles, etc., but I believe it holds up.)

Whether not loving is the same as "bigotry" is not an issue I care to explore right now.

44. Evan - 03/09/2014 10:16 pm CDT

I think the constructions are clearly inconsistent.

If you are going to use a narrow definition, then yes, showing empathy does not mean condoning what someone does. But to stay consistent, you have to say that the opposite is also true. Failing to show empathy does not mean condemning what someone does either. To put the words "not necessarily" in there is a cheat and inconsistent with a strict definition of the word.

On the other hand, if you are going to use some expanded meaning of empathy to essentially equate it to love, then I suppose in some sense that choosing not to love means hatred. But then you need to apply that definition to the first statement, and it essentially reads you are loving someone's actions, which definitely would be condoning them.

The only reason I pointed this out is that I see something similar over and over again on this issue. Christian doctrine is to "hate the sin, but love the sinner". I don't say that Christians are always successful at following that doctrine. But homosexual activists and sympathizers instead want it both ways. When it supports their arguments, they have no problem arguing that you cannot distinguish homosexual acts from the homosexual person, because they are so closely entwined. Therefore, condemnation of homosexual acts is the same as condemning them as persons, and any rules or laws prohibiting homosexuality are purely done out of hatred of them as persons (as the Supreme Court has now agreed). But yet, raise the fact that the Bible clearly does condemn homosexual acts, and then they are for "hate the sin, but love the sinner" and you get all the arguments about empathy over truth, other sins not being addressed, singling them out, etc.

45. Andrew - 03/10/2014 4:23 am CDT

If you are going to use a narrow definition, then yes, showing empathy does not mean condoning what someone does. But to stay consistent, you have to say that the opposite is also true. Failing to show empathy does not mean condemning what someone does either.

I would agree, but I don't see how the two are connected. Failing to empathize does not mean condemnation. I often fail to empathize with my wife due to ignorance or stubborness. When I empathize with her, I am not condoning everything she has ever done, and when I fail, I am not condemning her. There isn't a conflict here that I can see.

But then you need to apply that definition to the first statement, and it essentially reads you are loving someone's actions, which definitely would be condoning them.

Why does it have to mean that you are loving someone's actions? If you replace the word empathy with the word "love," you simply get, "Loving does not mean condoning," which any good teacher, parent, or spouse knows is true.

But yet, raise the fact that the Bible clearly does condemn homosexual acts, and then they are for "hate the sin, but love the sinner" and you get all the arguments about empathy over truth, other sins not being addressed, singling them out, etc.

Who is talking about empathy over truth?

46. Karl - 03/10/2014 8:54 am CDT

Evan, I wasn't parsing the phraseology that closely when I wrote it.

If you prefer:

"Showing empathy doesn't necessarily mean condoning. Failing to show empathy doesn't necessarily equal bigotry or hatred."

I am ok with that as it still largely makes the point I was driving at.

Although I have to say I think Andrew is technically correct. I also think the way I originally typed it is closer to the heart of the issue: we should be able to (or at least try to) empathize with everyone. I think it's a subset of the love we are called to show everyone. Empathy and condoning are not synonymous. However, when we fail to show empathy that doesn't necessarily mean that we hate the person. We may be incapable of empathy. We may have been well meaning but ignorant of what it's like to be in their shoes so unable to empathize, we may have just been thoughtless or careless or more focused on being right than on showing love. Or any of a number of things. If I say that I think a Christian's words about a gay person lack empathy, I am neither asking them to condone homosexual practice nor am I accusing them of bigotry or hatred.

47. Bird - 03/10/2014 9:00 am CDT

It's green!

Oh, sorry. With all these comments I thought this was the Gatorade thread.

:gbird:

48. Evan - 03/10/2014 10:37 am CDT

If you replace the word empathy with the word "love," you simply get, "Loving does not mean condoning," which any good teacher, parent, or spouse knows is true.


So back to the two original statements by Karl.
Showing empathy doesn't mean condoning.
Four possible interpretations:
1) Showing empathy for a homosexual person doesn't mean condoning homosexual acts (PERSON/ACTS)
2) Showing empathy for homosexual acts doesn't mean condoning homosexual acts (ACTS/ACTS)
3) Showing empathy for a homosexual person doesn't mean condoning a homosexual person (PERSON/PERSON)
4) Showing empathy for homosexual acts, doesn't mean condoning a homosexual person (ACTS/PERSON)

#1 is classic "hate the sin, but love the sinner". Numbers 2&3 are repetitive or logically false. #4 would be "hate the sinner, but love the sin". So I am pretty confident that Karl meant #1.

So on to the second statement in the same order:
Failing to show empathy doesn't necessarily equal bigotry or hatred.
Four possible interpretations:
1) Failing to show empathy for a homosexual person doesn't equal hatred of homosexual acts. (PERSON/ACTS)
2) Failing to show empathy for homosexual acts doesn't equal hatred of homosexual acts. (ACTS/ACTS)
3) Failing to show empathy for homosexual person doesn't equal hatred of homosexual persons. (PERSON/PERSON)
4) Failing to show empathy for homosexual acts doesn't equal hatred of homosexual persons. (ACTS/PERSON)

So which one does Karl mean here? This one is not so clear cut, but I am pretty sure he doesn't mean #1 or #4 here. I believe he probably means #3. But that is not separating homosexual persons from their acts anymore, and it is not consistent with the first statement like it seems to be.

Which was my point about how homosexual activists have largely succeeded in shifting the meaning of words whenever/wherever it suits their agenda.

49. Karl - 03/10/2014 11:00 am CDT

Evan, I think the fallacy in your #48 is the assumption that the relation should be the same in the 2 statements.

We are called to love (a subset of which is to empathize with the person where and as much as possible), period. Yet when we fail in a given instance to act lovingly toward (or empathize with) a given person, that failure doesn't necessarily mean we hate that person. So yes, person/person is the appropriate way to look at that statement.

We are also called to show empathy (and to love) the person, even when we don't condone some of their acts, choices or beliefs. So in that case and statement, yes person/acts is the way to look at it.

You seem to believe the above is evidence of some nefarious plot to shift meanings of words or else proof of a damning inconsistency, when in fact we are just talking about two somewhat related but separate and equally true statements.

Going to the gluttony example: You might think your fat friend is gluttonous and that he should be more temperate in his eating. But hopefully you would still feel badly for his pain if he heard fat people derided, made fun of and spoken ill of. You would empathize with his pain and how much it must hurt to be overweight and to hear fat people derided and made fun of, without condoning his gluttony. And if he talked to you about the pain of hearing fat jokes and instead of empathizing at all, you jumped right to trying to correct him on his gluttony, then you'd be lacking in empathy in that particular instance - but it wouldn't necessarily mean you hated him or hated all fat people.

50. Evan - 03/10/2014 12:16 pm CDT

We are called to love (a subset of which is to empathize with the person where and as much as possible), period. Yet when we fail in a given instance to act lovingly toward (or empathize with) a given person, that failure doesn't necessarily mean we hate that person. So yes, person/person is the appropriate way to look at that statement.

Empathy is a subset or type of love. Equally then, lack of empathy is a subset or type of hate. So I'll now simply substitute the word 'hatred' in the second set for 'failing to show empathy':

1) Hatred for a homosexual person doesn't equal hatred of homosexual acts. (PERSON/ACTS)
2) Hatred for homosexual acts doesn't equal hatred of homosexual acts. (ACTS/ACTS)
3) Hatred for homosexual person doesn't equal hatred of homosexual persons. (PERSON/PERSON)
4) Hatred for homosexual acts doesn't equal hatred of homosexual persons. (ACTS/PERSON)

What this shows is that #3, which is now what you claimed to have meant, really is logically false. The true statement is #4 which is a simple restatement of "hate the sin, but love the sinner".

And therein lies the point. There ARE nefarious plots to lie to society and Christians about sin, including homosexuality, gluttony, and others. Word games are rampant, with a common refrain of "do not judge anyone for who they love", as if love is the same as homosexual acts. Success with these word games in the public sphere is dominant already. In the Church, you can see it in routinely where there is very little preaching on sin of any kind anymore. And taken even further, you have churches like the US Episcopal Church which not only condones homosexual acts, but actively celebrates them.

And yet, what you would have me believe is that the Church must be very careful in plainly preaching what God says about sin, because of deep seeded pain that society has put on them?

51. Tony - 03/10/2014 12:59 pm CDT

Andrew, Karl & Evan, I appreciate this technical discussion on this topic. Also, this topic is worth 200+ comments if it can afford it.

some nefarious plot to shift meanings of words
There is somewhat of a nefarious plot when you can call someone a hater when they treat you with kindness. The bottom line is that we all have unkind thoughts about any given topic (even our spouse) at some point in our lives but what ultimately matters is if we can control our thoughts / emotions and respond with the appropriate attitude (kindness, love, gentleness)- what we actually do (action). We have to be careful about the empathize topic as well. Isn't love more of a choice than a feeling? Do humans really have the capacity to empathize all the time? How do we even watch the news then? I would also make a point that some personalities (sensing vs. intuition & feeling vs. thinking) can contribute to a humans ability to empathize more than others, so my point is that it should not be relied upon as a norm for human interaction. But with our feelings based society upon us, I'm afraid the logic (or lack thereof) that Griner finds herself in can only be explained that 'she feels like Baylor didn't / doesn't like her' because of an overall Christian policy.

52. Karl - 03/10/2014 1:34 pm CDT

Evan, that might be true if saying:

"you failed to act lovingly toward your wife today"

was the same thing as saying:

"you hated your wife today"

or

"you failed to not hate your wife today"

or even

"you showed hate toward your wife today"

It isn't.

The leap from the observation that empathy is a subset or a way of showing love, to the assertion that therefore a lack of empathy in a given instance = hatred, is unwarranted and incorrect. Not every failure to act with love = hatred.

I "would have you believe" that plainly preaching what God says about sin isn't the sum total of your obligation under God toward sinners. Yet for many Christians, especially with regard to this particular sin, they seem to believe that it is.

[edit] I just noticed the St. Augustine quote at the top of the Thinklings page today. Was that coincidence or intentional? It's pretty apropos:

"Compassion is your pain in my heart"

- Augustine

53. Evan - 03/10/2014 2:46 pm CDT

Karl,

OK, I'll go along. You say that:

"you failed to act lovingly toward your wife today"
and
"you hated your wife today"
are different.

Not every failure to act with love = hatred.

So as a Christian, how exactly are they different? I would assume you accept James 4:17 about sins of omission. So what exactly distinguishes the two statements?

54. Tony - 03/10/2014 3:25 pm CDT

Here is a rebuttal opinion column to Brice Cherry's piece that this blog links:

http://www.wacotrib.com/opinion/columns/guest_columns/catherine-osborne-guest-columnist-living-in-brittney-griner-s-skin/article_af26565f-db5a-5f72-b057-e3c394cbc96f.html

Quote from article

But to assume that the adulation (not love) she received more than made up for the judgment she felt about her sexuality is only something Ms. Griner can attest to, not Mr. Cherry.

55. Andrew - 03/10/2014 9:31 pm CDT

Empathy is a subset or type of love. Equally then, lack of empathy is a subset or type of hate. So I'll now simply substitute the word 'hatred' in the second set for 'failing to show empathy'

And

So as a Christian, how exactly are they different? I would assume you accept James 4:17 about sins of omission. So what exactly distinguishes the two statements?

I will repeat what I said earlier (and echo what Karl said) that failing to be empathetic and actively rejecting empathy are not the same thing. Lacking empathy is often (maybe usually) the result of ignorance, laziness, or holding false suppositions. Active rejection of empathy is a conscious choice (a la James 4:17), and is, I think, necessarily a rejection of love.

If holding the above makes me the victim some vast homosexual conspiracy, then I'm content to be a dupe.

56. Evan - 03/10/2014 11:13 pm CDT

Andrew,

My last question to Karl related to these two statements which he asserted were not the same thing. I'll still let him answer why he thinks they are different.

"you failed to act lovingly toward your wife today"
and
"you hated your wife today"


I honestly do not know how those two statements are different. I am not talking about situations involving ignorance or a lack of facts, which James 4:17 clearly does not condemn. The knowing to do good is obviously essential.

But every Christian knows he has a duty to love his wife (as well as his neighbors and even his enemies). He cannot claim ignorance. So if he still doesn't love his wife, whether out of laziness or malice, how is that not hate?

Active rejection of empathy is a conscious choice (a la James 4:17), and is, I think, necessarily a rejection of love.


I think you are violently agreeing with me here. That is why I substituted "hatred" for "failing to show empathy" in post #50. So what is your objection to that? That "failure to show empathy" could be because of ignorance, while "hatred" can not? But how can any Christian honestly claim ignorance of their duty to love?

57. Karl - 03/11/2014 8:24 am CDT

Evan, you write as if love and hate are the only two options for defining one's actions or inactions toward another. Elie Wiesel has written that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. There are other options as well besides that trio (love, hate, indifference) when it comes to our defining our posture towards others, our actions or inaction.

Given that none of us love perfectly or consistently and given your binary love/hate definition of how we interact with others, would you say that you hate a lot of people on a rather frequent basis?

I honestly do not know how those two statements are different.

Sinning against someone doesn't necessarily mean that I hate them. If I fail to act lovingly toward my wife in a certain instance I have sinned against her; that doesn't mean I hated her in that instance. If you don't see that, then there's no point in my trying to convince you differently. This semantic discussion strikes me as kind of pointless. I think you are tilting at windmills here.

58. Tony - 03/11/2014 9:49 am CDT

Pull back a little on the details of this love/hate conversation and state the macro implications for following through with said belief. Your guys graduate degrees are getting in the way of communicating ;)

59. Evan - 03/11/2014 12:58 pm CDT

OK - probably my final post. Here is why I think all that matters. I believe the biblical requirement is "hate the sin, but love the sinner".

There are obviously examples of people that do not believe that. The people that call themselves the Westboro baptist church obviously hate the sin and the sinner. The US episcopal church has changed its official stance to love the sin and love the sinner. I would point out the former is correctly condemned on a near universal basis, while the later still has millions of Christian members and near universal acclaim in popular culture. And considering attitudes toward other sins, such as divorce, gluttony, greed, etc. it seems pretty obvious which way the overall Church is likely to drift going forward.

Saying that, I think the majority of Christians (and all that have posted here thus far) still agree on "hate the sin, but love the sinner".

My linguistic points are that I do not think either of those words is too strong. I feel we would be well served to leave the words at "hate" and "love" to be as clear as possible what we really mean and must do, and work to ensure those words do not lose their meaning.

We must hate sin. Not mildly disapprove of it, not ignore it, not politely tolerate it, not leave it for discussion at some future date.

Likewise, we must sacrificially love sinners. Not just show them adulation (in an otherwise vapid column, that psychologist was right on this point), not just be kind to them, not just show them affection, not ignore what is for their good because of emotions.

Of course, the theory is easy, but both of those things are hard to do in practice. I am sure Karl and NHE would argue that is much easier to hate the sin (especially if it is one you are not tempted by), than to love the sinner. Possibly so. But as I pointed out with divorce, gluttony, greed, and increasingly homosexuality, the Church is more than capable of losing its hatred of sin.

Karl may feel this is all just tilting at windmills, but I believe that clear, consistent, and strong words matter. Homosexual activists clearly have learned the public relations game and poll tested all sorts of words and phrases to sway opinion. And on occasion, they not only change the strength and emphasis of words, they change their meaning entirely.

60. Karl - 03/11/2014 2:11 pm CDT

Tony, I don't really know how to expound in short-form on the macro implications of treating another human being with kindness and trying to empathize with the painful parts of their situation.

But for instance, I would say to Griner some of the following "I may agree with Baylor on the definition of marriage and the boundaries of sexual expression for Christians. But that doesn't keep me from realizing that the Baylor campus was probably often a very hard place for you to be, not only because of that policy but also because of how people talk and act. While there you probably overheard a lot of hurtful things said about gay people that don't (in my opinion) reflect the heart and love of Jesus. You probably heard hurtful stereotypes perpetuated and broad-brush "us-vs-them" statements made about people like yourself - even if those things weren't directed AT you by the speaker. I bet it's a much easier road to be a promiscuous heterosexual at Baylor than to be a celibate gay person, do you think that's true? And I can see how enough of that over 4 years might turn your feelings against Baylor, even though you were a beloved icon (mascot?) on campus, had a circle of genuine friends, and were considered a fun gal to be around. It probably sometimes seemed as though people felt the school's policy on same-sex relationships gave full license for however they wanted to talk about gay people. I am sorry for that. I bet even in the midst of being a celebrity figure you sometimes felt isolated, lonely and like it wasn't even safe to talk about that part of yourself. I don't think that's how Jesus made people feel. Can we talk? Would you be willing to share some of your story with me? Would you tell me what your impressions are of Christians? Of Christians at Baylor? What have you been told or overheard that was hurtful to you? Are there any examples of Christians who believed differently than you do about sexuality but who you were still comfortable around? What made those relationships different?"

I mean - if we take that approach individually and at least acknowledge some of those things in the public sphere (as I don't think was done in that newspaper article), I think it makes a difference. First, I think it comes closer to obeying the command to act in love. That by itself is enough. But it also might preserve and build some relationships that will otherwise be severed if all the gay community (and individual gay people) continue to hear are more instances of Christians plainly preaching what god says about (their particular) sin.

Sure there will always be a subset - and it is substantial and active - who will label Christians as haters simply because they hold to a traditional sexual ethic, no matter how careful or kind or genuinely loving you are. But there are others who won't. And I think the call to love and empathize applies regardless.

61. MzEllen - 03/11/2014 6:01 pm CDT

> Showing empathy doesn't mean condoning.

what does showing empathy without condoning look like?

62. Andrew - 03/11/2014 8:36 pm CDT

what does showing empathy without condoning look like?

I do my best to empathize with my elementary students, even though I've witnessed many behaviors I consider unacceptable. I've been cursed at, hit, bit, openly mocked, etc. I don't condone any of those behaviors, but I find it is better to try and understand these kids than to wash my hands of them.

That is a personal example, and a very imperfect one. Many times, I fail, and lose my temper. I've even said, "I hate that kid" before, and kinda sorta meant it. But other times, I believe I succeed.

63. Karl - 03/12/2014 8:29 am CDT

MzEllen, the imagined words to Ms. Griner in my post #60 are an example of what I think it might look like to show empathy without condoning.

Besides that, the example I gave several posts ago about a person who is fat because of gluttonous eating and no exercise, is the easiest answer I can give to your question.

If you had a friend who fit that description you would hopefully not condone their gluttony and laziness but I also hope you would feel badly for them if someone told fat jokes in their presence or went on a long rant against stupid fat people and how they are a drain on the American health care system and how they should be made to pay extra to ride on airplanes and buses and to sit in stadiums where they take up too much room and make other people uncomfortable. Even if you agreed with some of the points made in the rant, you would (hopefully) find the angry ranting tone inappropriate, realize how hurtful those words spoken that way were to your overweight friend, and you would empathize with the pain and shame of the friend. Maybe you would even stick up for your friend and ask the angry anti-fat ranting person to be quiet or back down. Probably you would be a friend to the overweight person and sit down at meals with them, without frequently feeling the need to remind them what the Bible says about gluttony and to make sure repeatedly that they know you disagree with their eating and exercise habits.

A non-empathetic person would feel none of that and just say "you are fat, it's your fault, and any slight or insult or hurtful comment that comes your way is no more than what you deserve. Grow a thicker skin or else lose some weight. I will not ever eat with you and refrain from telling you what I think about your obesity and eating habits because I'd be condoning sin if I kept silent."

Which approach sounds like Jesus?

64. MzEllen - 03/12/2014 7:37 pm CDT

Probably you would be a friend to the overweight person and sit down at meals with them, without frequently feeling the need to remind them what the Bible says about gluttony and to make sure repeatedly that they know you disagree with their eating and exercise habits.


And when the discussion does come up, how is it handled? Silence? Since we are discussing "the gay topic" - it will be put in your face.

I have friends who now have the "gay pride" flag (or "marriage equality" symbol) as their facebook profile page.

For these, silence or capitulation is what is demanded of me. Capitulation, then endorsement, then celebration.

65. Andrew - 03/12/2014 9:06 pm CDT

And when the discussion does come up, how is it handled? Silence? Since we are discussing "the gay topic" - it will be put in your face.

Don't bother with the unteachable. Don't waste time conversing with people who have closed themselves completely to persuasion. Don't try to have honest conversations with people who have no interest in having honest conversations.

66. Karl - 03/13/2014 9:03 am CDT

MzEllen, if the person brought the topic up and "put it in my face" I would probably say something like "As a Christian I can't reconcile supporting you on this issue, with my belief that the Bible says sex is intended to be reserved for a marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Can I disagree with you about this and still be your friend? I have other, heterosexual friends who I know are living with their partner without being married and while they probably know my stance on sex and marriage, that difference in beliefs isn't the defining element in our friendship and I don't feel compelled to tell them over and over that I disagree with their choices. Could it be the same between us?" If they say no, then so be it - as Andrew says, further conversation will probably be a waste of time. But I know a number of people who have said yes and the relationship has been preserved.

What about hetero friends who have a Facebook profile picture of themselves with a boyfriend or girlfriend with whom it is pretty clear or at least quite likely they are sexually involved? Do you feel the same need to speak out against that relationship? How close a friend do you feel you need to be before you opine to someone on the fact that they are having sex outside of marriage, without them asking your opinion directly? If you don't push the issue with them to try to get them to break off the physical side of their relationship, do you feel like you are caving in to silence/capitulation/celebration? What about friends who support a different political party than you do? When they post about it on Facebook do you worry that if you don't actively oppose them, your silence will signal agreement, capitulation or celebration? Maybe it's just tact and valuing the relationship and the person more than the issue you disagree about? Showing them the love and grace of Jesus and trusting God to bring them around if they are dangerously wrong about something?

A young gay man who grew up in conservative Christianity and still professes faith in Christ recently wrote a post regarding ways Christians can show love to gay people they know. Among the things he said:

"Be the conservative Christian in my life who doesn’t quote the Bible at me. I know; you’re worried that not expressing disapproval will make me think you approve of all my decisions. It won’t. It just shows me that you care more about me than about our differences.

"You know why LGBT people have such a bad impression of Christians? It’s not because of protesters with “God hates fags” signs. We know they’re extremists. It’s because of daily being dehumanized by the Christians who lecture and preach at us, treating us as issues instead of as human beings—and because of the Christians we know who stand idly by, thinking that if they’re not actively hating us, that counts as loving us.

67. dbd - 03/13/2014 9:17 pm CDT

"Be the conservative Christian in my life who doesn’t quote the Bible at me."

I wasn't raised among conservatives, so I can't share Justin Lee's perspective entirely. But this seems to me like a pretty big demand to make of people for whom the Bible is central to their faith.

68. Tony - 03/14/2014 11:44 am CDT

Karl, It took me a couple of days to think about my response before doing so. You appear to have a big heart and what you are saying makes a lot of sense. I appreciate the encouragement to reach out in love to these persons individually.

I think your first approach in post #63 is more like what Jesus sounds like but wouldn't Jesus end the conversation with 'go and sin no more'. This response doesn't have any place in our culture today, does it? Wouldn't Jesus have a confrontational conversation with a gay person similar to the conversation He had with the woman at the well? I also believe that this type of intellectually honest talk that Jesus lived would be rejected by the gay community in general.

I would have to agree with what Evan was driving at with how gay activists will use even words to drive their agenda. What I struggle with is the offensive the LGBT movement as a whole is taking. I'm going under the assumption that a majority of gays line up with this 'movement'. If I assume incorrectly, I would appreciate being corrected on this. It would appear that Karl's quote from a gay Christian above could be an exception. Also, I use LGBT movement and gay activists as synonymous groups. Again, please correct me if I'm wrong with doing that.

I'm okay with any group standing up for what they believe in, but they seem to be going on the offense against Christianity and even gay persons that disagree with their suppositions. Yes, this group will 'eat their own young' if they have to and that should speak as to how radical this group is. A prime example of this is Camille Paglia, who was 'the mother' of the LGBT movement back in the 60's and 70's is now scorned by this group because of her intellectually honest beliefs / discussions that homosexuality is more of a choice than being born with it. Mind you, she is gay herself. The gay activist movement has caused a political whirlwind out of this topic that one cannot have an open conversation that maybe social upbringing contributes to homosexual tendencies. It is taboo to speak of nowadays, is it not? The political pressure LGBT puts on the culture and legal system to force Christian business owners and clergy to provide services for gay marriages is despicable. How about the laws like the San Antonio city council passed that if a man or boy feels like a woman he can go to the bathroom in a woman's restroom? This movement knows no end and I believe Griner, in the name of this movement, decided to make a stand because the political climate allows her to.

Is this the annoying pattern that this group is going to churn out? I dare say that gay persons should be annoyed at this as well. Let's see, 60% of American's call themselves Christians (pulling statistic out of thin air) and we are generally going to label them as a hate group - I would steer far and clear from that logic/group, if I had homosexual tendencies. This group has politically hijacked the gay community and tends to make this people group uglier to the average person by the day.

Now us who are devout Christians have a tremendous burden of overcoming this culture war. We have to make a voice against this group but at the same time love some of its members.

69. dbd - 03/14/2014 12:40 pm CDT

Camille Paglia, who was 'the mother' of the LGBT movement 60's and 70's

?

I'm sure Paglia did have her own scene going on back in her college days, but she was in no way a public figure in any movement until her first book was published in 1990.

70. Tony - 03/14/2014 1:47 pm CDT

OK, so I used the phrase 'mother' a bit loosely. However, she claimed to be the only lesbian in Yale graduate school from 68-72. She was one of the few persons coming out of the closet in a time when it was not hip to do so. So in a sense, she was one of the one's who paved the way for others to be public about their less than popular sexual preference.

71. NHE - 03/15/2014 12:52 pm CDT

Just an observation from reading the last 15 posts or so. Karl is coming at this from an apolitical/non-political vantage point, which IS the Christ-centered approach imho.

Anytime we start talking about gay people "having an agenda" we're disqualifying ourselves from the discussion before we start.

OF COURSE they have a political agenda. I just see nothing grace-filled or Christ-centered about debating this from a political perspective. It just doesn't do anyone any good, and it ticks off both the Christians and the gay people.

72. Bill - 03/15/2014 12:59 pm CDT

NHE,

Seems to me that once we start arguing about the "meta" of a thread, the thread's pretty much done.

:gsmile:

73. NHE - 03/15/2014 1:35 pm CDT

I know, Bill, just had to get my last dig in.

I hate that "agenda" stuff, as if we are suddenly the first "enlightened ones" to not have one. Of course we do - too!

74. Bill - 03/15/2014 3:21 pm CDT

"Of course we do - too!"

Who's "we"? You talk as if we're all on the same side with the same agenda (however you might define that word), after a 73 comment thread with not (to my knowledge) one gay person taking part. It's just us Christians here and we've done nothing but disagree the entire time, calibrating how much empathy we have, and whether we're on the Karl side or the - as yet unnamed - three-piece-suit-scowling-with-a-big-black-Bible side of the empathy scale.

As Christians, we also haven't (at least from a quick scan of the thread) any of us even referenced any wisdom on this topic that we might get from Scripture, other than a single quote Karl left by a gay Christian saying they'd prefer we not mention scripture at all.

I give this thread a D+ (C- at best).

We can do better.

75. Bill - 03/15/2014 3:35 pm CDT

I'd suggest this as an agenda:

. . . so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16 ESV)

This discussion of empathy has (can you tell? :-) ) struck a bit of a nerve in me, because it seems to place truth and love in opposition to each other.

Why on earth?

Truth and love go together. If we want to be Christlike, that's where we need to be on this topic. Jesus was the master (well, He is the Master) of speaking truth in love. My concern is that truth becomes so toxic to us that we begin believing the lie that real love doesn't include truth. But love can't stand without truth, at least real love can't.

I don't say this in specific opposition to anything Karl, or Tony, or NHE, or Bird, or whoever has said in this thread. I found something to agree with in almost everything that was said - truly. I found the thread depressing as a whole, though. Hard to explain why without getting extremely into the "meta" of it, which I guess I've done these last two comments anyway. ;-)

A question, though - does the Bible have any wisdom for us on this topic? If so, what would you suggest?

76. Karl - 03/15/2014 5:28 pm CDT

Bill, of course truth and love aren't in opposition to one another. That's a false dichotomy. But neither does love always call us to speak every truth in every instance or every encounter. How often do you lovingly tell your fat friends their gluttony is sinful with a Bible verse appended to make sure all concerned know it's a scripture-based conversation? Quote scripture with grave and loving concern re. the worship of mammon and the fact that we can't serve two masters to your materialistic upwardly mobile and career-ladder-climbing friends? Talk about sex being reserved for marriage to people in your neighborhood or workplace who are living together but not married? How long would you have to know those people before you'd invite them to have coffee so you could address with them your opinion of the sinfulness in those areas of their lives AT ALL? And then having spoken the truth in love, assuming you did so wholly appropriately with grace and in the context of real relationship and friendship, how frequently would you continue to bring it up (unasked) afterward in your day-to-day, week-to-week friendship if their behavior didn't change in that area?

Yet gay folks get it all the time from Christians who know they are gay - the need to repeatedly make sure disagreement (on this one issue) is clear, lest someone think the Christian condones that particular sin. Like a reflex, whenever the subject comes up, as if silence THIS time might indicate the Christian has changed his/her mind. If you aren't doing it that often, rest assured they probably know plenty who are. And if they are fortunate enough to not get it quite that much in person from folks in their lives they will in most instances (especially in Texas or Virginia) still overhear and read more than enough in the general millieu of culture to keep them aware of conservative Christians' opinions on the matter. What they won't experience nearly as often, is grace or active love.

"You know why LGBT people have such a bad impression of Christians? It’s not because of protesters with “God hates fags” signs. We know they’re extremists. It’s because of daily being dehumanized by the Christians who lecture and preach at us, treating us as issues instead of as human beings—and because of the Christians we know who stand idly by, thinking that if they’re not actively hating us, that counts as loving us."

I have a good friend, a former pastor and Bible school graduate and current church elder, whose young adult son is gay. He has shared some of their pain and struggles with me. One thing he told me that I've read elsewhere too, is that when a Christian parent finds out a child of theirs is gay (and I'm talking just attraction/orientation, not necessarily and not even usually an attraction that has been acted on physically at the time) the single most common reaction is fear for how the church - other Christians - will treat their child if the fact becomes known. Because they suddenly see with new eyes and realize the answer is "probably not well."

The example of Jesus is a great one - and it's in scripture. That's where I'd go primarily in answer to your question re. whether the Bible has wisdom to share on the topic of how we ought to relate to gay people. When it comes to sexual sin and especially when it comes to homosexuality, most gay people's experience with Christians looks more like an encounter with the religious leaders of Jesus' day than it looks like an encounter with Jesus, IMO. He spent so much time with sinners (and apparently without waving red flags to indicate to all and sundry that he that of course he disagreed with the sinners and wasn't *condoning* them) that he was accused by the religious of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners. Yes, he also said "go and sin no more." I'm not Jesus so I am slow to presume I have the standing or the calling to make that a primary part of my communication to anyone except in unusual circumstances. In context of relationship or if asked I'll make my position on the morality of some aspect of someone's life known as respectfully as possible if I feel like it's right to do so.

Do you not get what that gay Christian (I'll take him at his word) guy is saying when he asks "Be the conservative Christian in my life who doesn’t quote the Bible at me"? Or was that an intentional misrepresentation of what he meant in comment 74? He - like most any other gay person in America - will know that a conservative Christian friend of his believes the Bible says gay sex is wrong. He (this guy in particular) also was raised a Christian and knows the text of scripture as well as you do. So as his friend, how often will you feel the need to (lovingly) remind him of a disagreement of which he is already aware? If the opening is there and the spirit moves you to speak in grace and love and truth then by all means go for it. But many Christians seem to believe that light is always green. It's been a long time since I saw a Bible-thumper in a three piece suit. But I see and hear Christian suburbanites and average Joes and Janes be tone-deaf, lacking in love and/or apparently incapable of empathy when they speak about and to gay people all the time.

77. Karl - 03/15/2014 6:40 pm CDT

I'm not against digging into scripture on a given topic, Bill. Not at all. But I think everyone who participated in this thread did so from what they understood to be a scriptural position, and could probably proof-text to back it up. If you didn't have various passages and themes from scripture echoing in the back of your head as you read the thread and comments from various folks then I bet you could if you tried; you are plenty Biblically literate enough.

Speak the truth in love is easy to quote, harder to know how to apply. What truth do you speak, when do you speak it and how often? What does love look like toward your unsaved neighbor? Toward your saved neighbor who is knowingly in sin? Toward your saved neighbor who knows every argument you could make but disagrees with you that she is in sin?

I think one "interpretive key" that helps in all of the above situations, is the ability to empathize. To put yourself in their shoes, not just as you would react and feel if you were them but as THEY react and feel (as best you can be aware of that). To acknowledge areas where you think they might have a valid point or grievance. And so on. I'm sorry if my lack of ability to find the word "empathy" in a concordance (I haven't looked but doubt it's there) invalidates all I have said on the topic in your eyes. But in my mind it's an important part of discerning what walking out "speak the truth in love" actually might look like.

Speaking the truth with no evidence of empathy doesn't look all that loving nor will it be receied as loving - no matter how much love one professes to have hidden away in one's heart. Which brings me full circle to the original point I was trying to make in comment #4.

78. Bill - 03/15/2014 7:21 pm CDT

Thanks Karl,

We're arguing about multiple different things and arguing past each other. I don't even know where to start.

For what it's worth: here's how often I have pulled aside a gay friend, or a gluttonous friend, or *name your sin* friend and dressed them down, uninvited, with my Bible.

Zero

Here's how often I've recommended that as a Christian our main duty is to go accost people, without love, about their sin, or even in love but without relationship, without any empathy (however you want to define that), and just to - as you put it - "make sure everyone knows we disagree with the sin" (because, of course, there couldn't be any other motives, could there?)

Zero again.

I agree that a lot of people, I'm sure myself included, have missed out on the Biblical injunction to both speak the truth in love and to speak directly to people in respect, rather than sideways to them via social media rants. But I do not believe that the church's duty is to remind sinning people, every day or to whatever absurd degree you have conjectured, of their sin. We are however, to remind ourselves and preach to ourselves constantly about our collective sin and Jesus' perfection and God's redemption and new life and new hope and resurrection. Hopefully that's what we're known for.

Some other (hopefully closing) thoughts:

I can't imagine how hard it would be to struggle with same sex attraction. I am not belittling that struggle. I've seen it.

I also know that it is hard, very hard, to be the loving and concerned friend of someone who is drifting away or in rebellion, for whatever reason. I deal with that often and have experienced rejection, not because I was hounding anyone about anything, but simply because - as best I can discern - I represent to them something that they don't want any part of anymore.

Truly, the one leaving the 99 for the 1 needs to have some guts and courageous love because the 1 will often detonate a claymore when they see the under-shepherd coming

I didn't mean to misrepresent the young man, but you aren't understanding me on this: Do you know that he was claiming to be able to read minds? When someone is in rebellion (I include myself here) any overture, any expression of concern, etc, will often be received as "What am I, a project to you?" or "Who are you to tell me what to do?" etc. My guess is that in that young man's life there are some very loving, very concerned Christians who don't know what to say or do. Surely they've made mistakes, I don't know. And surely there are other people who have been unbalanced and unloving. But my sense is there is always a much fuller picture here and grace is needed on all sides.

So - if there are people who truly, nearly every time they see the young man, are quoting Romans 1 to him, my advice to them would be to cut it out. It's counter-productive and, to your point, it is not a loving response, really. If the young man wants the church to jettison Biblical teaching to accommodate him, I would also say that he asks too much. For the people in his life who truly love him, but also are concerned about his lifestyle and what that will mean to his relationship to the Lord and glorification of same, well, they have my pity because they have a very hard row to hoe and they are going to be accused of a lot of motives they don't deserve to be accused of.

For what it's worth, I've seen a great example, just recently, of how the topic of speaking truth in love with someone struggling with same sex attraction can be handled - with lovingly administered truth and true, unconditional friendship and with the softened heart in a young person struggling with SSA. It is not a one time thing, it is a long journey and it is a journey of love always and truth spoken as needed, and especially when invited.

So, for perhaps the hundredth time in our relationship I'll say it again: Our agreement level on this topic is probably north of 90%. I'm willing to stop quibbling about the remaining 10% if you are. I confess I sometimes (well, almost all the time) am biased toward defense of the church, because the standing meme in our culture and definitely in the blogosphere is what I call the "Christians are cr_pweasels (present company excepted, of course)" viewpoint. I don't share that - I think the Bride is beautiful. Still flawed, still being sanctified, but beautiful nonetheless. Family.

On that note, in another old thread we got a comment recently accusing us (and by "us" the commenter meant all of us Christians) of rape and murder, and - ironically - judgementalism. But I digress.

I hear your heart on this, Karl, and I applaud it. I hope that the Lord will provide you many opportunities to bring redemption to the relationships you have with people around you who are struggling.

We are not opposed on this. Just looking at it (I think) from different angles.

79. Bill - 03/15/2014 8:34 pm CDT

Another passage that I think I should/we should strive to apply daily, relevant to this.

I'm struck by the very first line: "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." - difficult. But worth it. What does that look like?

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Romans 12:9-21 ESV)

80. Bill - 03/16/2014 7:37 am CDT

Ah, one more note.

Karl, you wrote: "[Jesus] spent so much time with sinners (and apparently without waving red flags to indicate to all and sundry that he that of course he disagreed with the sinners and wasn't *condoning* them) that he was accused by the religious of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners."

Yes. Yes!

I haven't expressed this well or enough (or possibly at all) in this thread, but you have repeatedly made the point that Jesus wasn't worried about what people thought of him as he associated with sinners.

You are absolutely right, and if we want to be like Jesus we need to get over the fear of "what will people think".

I just wanted to let you know that this is part of the "north of 90%" that I not only agree with, but loudly applaud in what you said.

I wish they'd invent teleportation. When we get cross-wise in a thread I'm quite certain getting beamed up to a hot grill, camp chairs and a cooler would make the conversation flow so much better.

So, agreed: our deepest need in relating to this issue and all issues is to do things the way Jesus did. May that be our life's mission.

81. NHE - 03/16/2014 12:25 pm CDT

I wish they'd invent teleportation. When we get cross-wise in a thread I'm quite certain getting beamed up to a hot grill, camp chairs and a cooler would make the conversation flow so much better.

I suggested this (basically) in comment 12....which was when the thread was still at a A-/B+ level :)

82. Evan - 03/16/2014 12:31 pm CDT

Quoting a part of Karl's hypothetical approach to Ms. Griner:

I bet it's a much easier road to be a promiscuous heterosexual at Baylor than to be a celibate gay person, do you think that's true?

Question: When you approach one of those promiscuous heterosexual persons in an equally empathetic manner, what group of sinners will you identify to help make them feel better about themselves?

Do you honestly feel that Ms. Griner (or any other person) would view this as empathy, or just patronizing?

83. NHE - 03/16/2014 7:28 pm CDT

Evan - that's actually a very fair question. The simple difference between the promiscuous heterosexual and the celibate homosexual is that the former will be (generally) much quicker to see their depravity.

Which begs the question - how long do we hang in there with the "misguided, deceived, culturally vindicated sinner"? By culturally vindicated, I mean that (for the most part) the only people who are telling them that they are deceived and misguided are Christians (well, and a handful in the hip-hop culture).

I think that's the question for Bill's talk around the fire with a cold one - he need to anti up for half of the plane ticket btw........just sayin'

84. Karl - 03/18/2014 8:27 am CDT

Evan, I know there is a significant subset of gay people who will interpret any disagreement on the issue of their sexuality as bigotry and any attempt to act loving toward them while continuing to hold a traditional understanding of marriage, as hypocritical or patronizing. I don't have much hope for changing their mind on the issue. Empathetically, I can see where they are coming from given what they believe to be true. I still believe I am called to treat them with love and empathy rather than embattled scorn when we interact but I don't expect they'd have much interest in long term interaction or friendship.

And there IS a subset like the young man who I quoted, who are more open to "agreeing to disagree" on the morality of same-sex behavior while still asking to be treated with greater compassion and empathy and just normal human kindness. That young man wrote a book that I read. I didn't agree with him theologically but his personal account of growing up in the church, loving Jesus yet having this secret about himself, and what he experienced after finally coming out about it - that was pretty hard to ignore and along with other personal friendships and conversations, has definitely increased my empathy for folks in that situation.

I'm not sure I understand your question re. "what group of sinners" I would identify to make a promiscuous heterosexual feel better about themselves. It seems as though it is meant to be a telling comment but I just don't understand it. If I have a friend who is promiscuous and heterosexual, I would try to put myself in their shoes - to see the world as I believe they see it, to look for places of common ground, to affirm what I can affirm about them while not affirming things I don't believe I can affirm but in the context of my relationship with them focusing more on the former than on the latter, unless very clearly invited or led to speak about the morality of their sex life.

One thing we haven't talked about much is the fact that Christians far too often talk as though simply feeling attraction toward someone of the same sex (I would call it being "gay" in orientation) is a sin. They say things like "it is a sin to be gay." They cause people like the young man I quoted above, who grew up as "god-boy" in his high school and witnessed to his peers but had this horrible secret of attraction to guys - an attraction that he NEVER acted on physically! - to feel rejected and judged as dangerously outside the pale, for internal feelings they didn't choose and have no control over. Especially within the church, there are many people like that who experience that orientation/attraction and who are basically violently shoved by the church, into the accepting arms of the gay community because as soon as they say "I am gay" the church for the most part will treat them like a dead slug no matter whether they are celibate or not.

85. Karl - 03/18/2014 8:28 am CDT

Bill, I agree with all you said there. Thanks.

86. Karl - 03/18/2014 9:27 am CDT

Justin Lee, the young man I quoted earlier, has an article published in the Huffington Post (your favorite I'm sure!) on "4 Ways Christians are Getting the Gay Debate Wrong."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/justin-lee/4-ways-christians-are-getting-the-gay-debate-wrong_b_3219665.html

I think it's worth a read I hope you'll take a few minutes to check it out. And I wish more Christians would read such things with an eye toward what they can learn from it and how it might help them understand and interact with gay people more empathetically, rather than primarily with an eye toward spotting things they disagree with and ways to attack it or come up with their own counter-list of "ways gay people are getting their interaction with Christians wrong." There may be a time and place for that last one. But not as the first, defensive response. In this and many cases I like the Steven Covey "7 Habits" maxim: "Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood."

87. Bill - 03/18/2014 10:34 am CDT

Karl,

I read the article - one thing that he points out that I definitely think we always have to keep in mind is that having same sex attraction isn't the same as having homosexual sex.

There are homosexual Christians who have chosen to remain celibate (or - possibly more controversial with some - get married heterosexually) and I think we should celebrate this long obedience in the same direction.

One small quibble - I have trouble with the black and white ways people talk about SSA. I personally have friends in the gay lifestyle and I'll eat my car's transmission if they were born that way or will always be that way. I think there is an environmental component. I'm not ready to say that it's always a choice (because I know other people who just seem naturally to have SSA - I don't claim to understand all that). I think that this is an extremely complex issue and the ways environment, upbringing, the general fall of creation, past abuse, etc manifests itself in sexual confusion is something that I think we need to understand.

88. Karl - 03/18/2014 11:41 am CDT

Bill, I agree it's a complex issue and to say that it's either all genetics or all environment or all choice is to oversimplify. I am pretty confident that most people who are gay (which Justin Lee defines fairly simply for his purposes as being at least primarily attracted to the same sex rather than the opposite sex) don't choose to be that way - however and whenever they arrived at that place. Many are horrified when they realize it, and try desperately but unsuccessfully to change that basic orientation.

I notice that you consistently speak of same sex attraction instead of saying "gay." I will not tell you how to speak (and I have read Yarhouse/Jones, Gagnon, and some of the ex-gay literature) but in case you didn't know it, I hope you'll be aware that many if not most gay people find the use of that term (same sex attraction/SSA) as a substitute way to refer to that aspect of themselves offensive. Most of us probably feel fairly comfortable acknowledging we are "straight" without the need to re-term ourselves as "having opposite-sex-attraction" for example.

89. Bill - 03/18/2014 12:06 pm CDT

I had no idea that was offensive.

Frankly, I can't keep up with what terms offend what person these days, though I definitely try to not offend needlessly. I understand why it's important to try. I generally use SSA so that I am specifically differentiating between behavior and thought-life. Oh well - will need to come up with another way. Hopefully it won't take fifty syllables to do so.

For what it's worth, I really dislike the term "gay" - perfectly good word co-opted and redefined in my lifetime.

Maybe I can find another word to use.

Most of us probably feel fairly comfortable acknowledging we are "straight" without the need to re-term ourselves as "having opposite-sex-attraction" for example.

What if we just started acknowledging that we are people?

Our culture is obsessed - obsessed - with labeling. Even being gay (there, i did it, rather than using the other word . . . small victories) doesn't define a person. Or at least doesn't need to. And I say that as someone who holds to the Biblical definition of homosexual behavior as sin.

I've met people who - in their introduction - say "Hi. I'm bi-polar".

That doesn't define who they are in my book. Any more than "I'm white", or "I'm African American" or "recovering alcoholic" or name your label.

Sorry for the mini-rant.

90. Karl - 03/18/2014 1:34 pm CDT

I hear what you are saying, Bill. I am not crazy about the morphing of language re. that particular word either. I read aloud to our kids and am always momentarily flummoxed when I come across that word in its older, original usage in a book that was written more than a generation ago (I've come across it while reading CSL, Watership Down, Tolkien, etc.). But at this point I don't think the usage of the word is going to change and knowing that people who primarily experience attraction to people of the same sex consider "gay" to be the most acceptable term to use to describe that fact about themselves (and that they find other substitute words like SSA - which primarily comes out of the largely discredited ex-gay movement literature - and technical terms like homosexual mildly to moderately offensive), I have decided to go ahead and use the word. I'm not scolding you if you don't. But I thought you'd want to know that because I figured you probably didn't, and I know it's not your goal to offend.

I think Justin Lee would agree with you in wanting to be seen as a person first, rather than as an issue or as someone defined primarily by the type of attraction he experiences or by whether he acts on it or not. I think he says pretty much the same in that article. I realize not all gay folks would phrase it that way or be as understanding of disagreement as Justin is. But I think he speaks for many, especially many who grew up in the church or who are on its fringes. But while those folks may not lead with that fact about themselves, I don't think they ought to have to hide it either any more than someone should have to hide any of those other labels you list at the end of your post. I know you aren't saying they should. But I think they often feel like they do need to hide it in Christian circles, even if they are sexually abstinent. They hear plenty of comments that seem to reinforce the idea that it's not safe or acceptable to be honest about that part of themselves. Justin speaks to that in the article:

“Living as an open homosexual is open rebellion to God.”

"I hear these kind of statements every day. But think about it for a moment. If “living as an open homosexual” is rebellion against God, what choices do I have? I’m already gay; I can’t change that. I could choose to lie and not to be “open” about it, of course, but I don’t believe in dishonesty. Other than that, the only way I could avoid “living as an open homosexual” would be to stop “living.” I don’t have to tell you where that kind of thinking leads.

"Is that what the commenter intended? Of course not. But that’s how the message comes across, day after day, to gay people across the country and around the world."

I find it a little telling that my suggestion Christians should show folks like Griner a little empathy before or at least while they refute her, generated an 80+ comment thread and still has participants who I believe think my suggestion was an unreasonable namby-pamby one that coddles sin. While I bet if I had said something relatively harsh and unloving about gay people but not TOO over the top hateful, there wouldn't have been pushback and the thread wouldn't have made it to 20 posts. Speculation, I know.

91. Bill - 03/18/2014 2:22 pm CDT

Thanks Karl,

I don't know how to answer your last paragraph. It's one reason I've tried to bail on this thread (repeatedly, though I keep getting dragged back in).

I think I can sum up some of the disagreement this way: Everyone here (from what I can tell - including you and NHE, despite the aforementioned scare quotes) acknowledges that gay behavior (is that the right way to put it?) is a sin. I don't think anyone who commented here spends any time at all getting in the faces of gay people about their sin.

But this is one of the only items we'd put in the category of sin where there appears to be a real underlying accusation: these people are victims of the church. There's no other category of sin that I can think of where this is the working (and increasingly accepted) assumption. The gay community and their Christian apologists now - culturally - hold the high moral ground, and it's the church that is on the dock, accused, convicted, and condemned.

For example: one rebuttal that's been lost in the thread was the one, early on, that many people made: Griner wasn't mistreated at Baylor, most people knew her orientation, and she was a beloved and celebrated (for her basketball skills) member of the student body. But that is no longer enough.

This is one reason I tried, unsuccessfully, to ask what Scripture might say about this. Your rebuttal to me was well taken, but I still have the suspicion: we have spent most of this thread as Christians discussing and thinking about things Christianly, but that doesn't always translate to Biblically. And - Lord knows - this is a topic we need to think about Biblically.

Finally. People are human. I think this has also been lost in the thread: it's one thing entirely to get into semantic cognitive dissonance over the word "empathy" ("should I show empathy to my friend who's cheating on his wife? Or my friend who has anger issues with his kids? What does that look like?") - from people who, I'll bet you a steak dinner - would treat Brittany Griner quite nicely in real life. I think, bottom line, some of us just got defensive. The idea that you just floated that if you had just thrown us some hateful red meat about homosexuality to placate us the thread wouldn't have gone very far . . . Speaking of feeling misunderstood. That's how I feel - but as a Christian, I'm getting used to it.

We're good. We're all still friends. It's been a beneficial conversation, but I think it's run its course.

92. Bill - 03/18/2014 3:35 pm CDT

Just saw this on twitter - seems to fit: "Public faith means going public with what’s in your heart, with humility and respect for others, as we speak of the truth of the gospel." - Tim Keller

93. NHE - 03/18/2014 6:11 pm CDT

Can't disagree with that Bill, but I wonder if we really feel the full weight of Keller's statement.

It truly means to take conservative/liberal politics out of the equation. It also means taking our non-nuanced "the Bible says homosexual sin is abominable" bias out of the equation. I have a hard time doing that, as I think most of the rest of us commenting here do.

It's a lofty thing to claim to come at something w/ Biblical humility.

94. Karl - 03/19/2014 10:40 am CDT

For example: one rebuttal that's been lost in the thread was the one, early on, that many people made: Griner wasn't mistreated at Baylor, most people knew her orientation, and she was a beloved and celebrated (for her basketball skills) member of the student body. But that is no longer enough


Bill, I tried to speak to that rebuttal at least a couple of times.

Without equating race and homosexuality (but recognizing that we've agreed it's not a sin to be a homosexual - the sin if there is any present, lies in acting on an inclination not in having the orientation) I think the experience of someone like Griner at Baylor was probably not wholly dissimilar to that of a star black athlete at Ole Miss or Alabama in the 70's. Celebrated for their athletic prowess, a desired companion and invited to parties, probably didn't experience hatred directed specifically at them, probably even got some preferential treatment not available to the average student. Not "mistreated" personally, in short. But would they really be unaware of the undercurrent of racism that permeated much of the institution and student body? Wouldn't it still probably affect them and their feeling about the institution and their time there? And wouldn't so many Mississippi white folk be just shocked, shocked I tell you, to hear that their beloved athlete for whom they did so much, expressed anger post-graduation regarding the racism he detected while attending their institution when he was treated so well personally?

And hear me - I'm not equating Baylor's moral stance itself with racism or saying I think there's anything wrong with Baylor's policy on marriage although I realize Griner and some other gay folks would. I am not talking about that policy (and I know Griner did) but rather talking about the almost certain presence in a Baptist institution, of a culture (whether it's the majority or just a noticeable minority) that fails to make the distinction that a few posts ago you agreed was so crucial - distinguishing an orientation from the behavior. Even a celibate gay person would almost certainly still come out of 4 years in a Baptist institution (or my alma mater Wheaton, for that matter) having many times overheard opinions that "people like them" were awful, gross, abominations, all-that-is-most-wrong-with-America, operating with an agenda, committed to a sinful lifestyle, etc.

All I am saying is - I bet that would be hard. I bet it would be hard even if you were a celebrated athlete and invited to parties and had friends and people avoided saying those things to your face. I bet it would be hard even if Griner's personal "agenda" went beyond that of someone like Justin Lee (who is fine with other Christians disagreeing with him about same-sex unions, as long as they do it in love and don't feel compelled to make changing his mind the centerpiece of the friendship). Even if Griner is militant and unreasonable now. I bet there were plenty of times when she picked up not only a carefully crafted moral stance about sexual behavior but an undercurrent belief held by many that people with whom she identified, people like her, were uniquely awful. And that shouldn't have happened and probably fueled her hurt and her anger. The pushback I've gotten against even acknowledging that much and regretting it as we take her to task for her unreasonable position vis a vis Baylor, is difficult for me to wrap my mind around.

But I agree there's probably not any fruit to be harvested by continuing to go around on the issue. I typed something like this yesterday, then deleted it. Slept on it. Wasn't sure if I should reply or not. I'm not trying to be combative just for the sake of it. I think that's all I should say and you can have the last word if you want. But I think one of the main cruxes of the issue lies in that claimed rebuttal and the fact that ALL of that rebuttal could be true, yet a person (like the Mississippi athlete) might still come out of the institution with some significant understandable hurt. I read these things through the eyes of my conservative Christian friend who has a gay son, of the lesbian woman and star basketball player I grew up with whose parents were on staff at a large southern baptist church, of the celibate gay priest who befriended us when we were new to town, of Justin Lee and many like him. When they tell me they don't expect conservative Christians to change their position on the morality of sex outside of heterosexual marriage but nevertheless say that the church is often a hurtful and unsafe place for them for reasons that go beyond the church holding that particular stance, I believe them.

95. Bill - 03/19/2014 11:03 am CDT

Thanks Karl,

I believe they feel that way too.

But at this point, I agree, we've gone on too long on this thread. Every time you post (and I'm sure this is visa-versa) I start thinking "yeah, but" it irritates me when people do that to me, so I'll quit doing that to you.

We may be more like 85% at this point. :-) But to go into some items that are starting to make me rethink some things I said earlier that were points of agreement (and probably still are, but with some important caveats than I have time to type) would be a lot of work and not beneficial.

I don't often do this, but I'm going to close comments. Not because anyone's been offensive or anything (it's been a remarkably cordial conversation, imo) but because I fear this thread will never die if I don't ;-)

If you want to talk about it some more, feel free to email me.

Let's leave it here. Peace.

Comments are closed