Author Topic: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism  (Read 6639 times)

totaliter vivens

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #45 on: September 30, 2010, 12:29:53 AM »
Is this a trick question?  ;D

Not at all.  I say it is.  If I'm not homosexual and I engage in homosexual relations, apparently that's a sin according to the comment above.  So if I'm heterosexual and engage in sex outside of marriage (pre-marital or extra-marital), is that a sin?  Honest question I believe.

My pastoral answer is that sex outside a covenant of love and faithfulness is not the fullness of God's gracious will for our gift of sexuality (gay or straight). Such a covenant is the heart of what a marriage is. If the covenant exists but is not legal I would be slow to call it sin. On the other hand, if the legal status exists without the covenant, then I would lean in the direction of thinking it sinful.

SPS

By what authority do you discard former (and for many Christians, current) understanding of what "the heart of marriage" is, and what God's gracious will is for our human sexuality?  As I have said here before, I believe you accurately capture the unitive purpose, that is of expressing love and in uniting the two, but I believe you reject the procreative aspect of the marital act.  It is the rejection of one of the fundamental purposes of sex within marriage where I believe you are in error.

For an explanation far better than I can explain, see the USCCB 2009 document on Marriage:

http://www.nccbuscc.org/loveandlife/MarriageFINAL.pdf

Page 11: The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage

"Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both."

Any sexual act can be understood in this context.  Is it unitive (selfish or giving), and is it procreative (open to and capable of creating life).

Anything which denies either of these, denies God's full intention.

  masturbation (not unitive or open to life)?
  contraception (not open to life)?
  adultry (not unitive)?
  pornography (not open to life nor unitive)? 
  homosexual acts (not open to life)
  ... add your favorite here..

I believe until fairly modern times (last century) there has been universal understanding of this by all Christians.  So either the Holy Spirit is opening our minds to a new understanding, or some other spirit is once again at work to deceive us from the fullness that God truly intends for us.



Nope, I would not say that I deny the procreative purpose of sexuality, although I hold it subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function. I was asked if sex outside of marriage was sinful...that question can be definitively answered on the unitive purpose alone. In addition, like the ELCA in its social statements, I do not hold the procreative function to be mandatory. The authority btw, is the witness of Scripture, nature, and reason.

SPS


P.S. If I thought the Roman Catholic Church to be the best witness to Christianity, I would be part of the Roman obedience. But I don't, so I'm not.

cssml

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #46 on: September 30, 2010, 12:52:33 AM »
Is this a trick question?  ;D

Not at all.  I say it is.  If I'm not homosexual and I engage in homosexual relations, apparently that's a sin according to the comment above.  So if I'm heterosexual and engage in sex outside of marriage (pre-marital or extra-marital), is that a sin?  Honest question I believe.

My pastoral answer is that sex outside a covenant of love and faithfulness is not the fullness of God's gracious will for our gift of sexuality (gay or straight). Such a covenant is the heart of what a marriage is. If the covenant exists but is not legal I would be slow to call it sin. On the other hand, if the legal status exists without the covenant, then I would lean in the direction of thinking it sinful.

SPS

By what authority do you discard former (and for many Christians, current) understanding of what "the heart of marriage" is, and what God's gracious will is for our human sexuality?  As I have said here before, I believe you accurately capture the unitive purpose, that is of expressing love and in uniting the two, but I believe you reject the procreative aspect of the marital act.  It is the rejection of one of the fundamental purposes of sex within marriage where I believe you are in error.

For an explanation far better than I can explain, see the USCCB 2009 document on Marriage:

http://www.nccbuscc.org/loveandlife/MarriageFINAL.pdf

Page 11: The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage

"Marriage has two fundamental ends or purposes towards which it is oriented, namely, the good of the spouses as well as the procreation of children. Thus, the Church teaches that marriage is both unitive and procreative, and that it is inseparably both."

Any sexual act can be understood in this context.  Is it unitive (selfish or giving), and is it procreative (open to and capable of creating life).

Anything which denies either of these, denies God's full intention.

  masturbation (not unitive or open to life)?
  contraception (not open to life)?
  adultry (not unitive)?
  pornography (not open to life nor unitive)? 
  homosexual acts (not open to life)
  ... add your favorite here..

I believe until fairly modern times (last century) there has been universal understanding of this by all Christians.  So either the Holy Spirit is opening our minds to a new understanding, or some other spirit is once again at work to deceive us from the fullness that God truly intends for us.



Nope, I would not say that I deny the procreative purpose of sexuality, although I hold it subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function. I was asked if sex outside of marriage was sinful...that question can be definitively answered on the unitive purpose alone. In addition, like the ELCA in its social statements, I do not hold the procreative function to be mandatory. The authority btw, is the witness of Scripture, nature, and reason.

SPS


P.S. If I thought the Roman Catholic Church to be the best witness to Christianity, I would be part of the Roman obedience. But I don't, so I'm not.


When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?


totaliter vivens

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #47 on: September 30, 2010, 01:06:33 AM »

When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?



You'd like me to defend my "false position"? How could I possibly decline so gracious an invitation? I think, nevertheless, I will not rise to the bait. I have read some of JPII's writings on the theology of the body. Some of it I found helpful, even beautiful. I also found faulty premises that diminished the impact for me. In general I like his poetry more.

SPS
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 01:08:46 AM by totaliter vivens »

cssml

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #48 on: September 30, 2010, 01:24:38 AM »

When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?



You'd like me to defend my "false position"? How could I possibly decline so gracious an invitation? I think, nevertheless, I will not rise to the bait. I have read some of JPII's writings on the theology of the body. Some of it I found helpful, even beautiful. I also found faulty premises that diminished the impact for me. In general I like his poetry more.

SPS

I did not intend the comment to be ungracious.  However, I do believe that this subtle shift in our modern focus, from the importance of both purposes of sex, to one being 'more important' that the other is the root of the problem.  I don't understand how if both are good, that we deem one can be excluded?  I was not attacking you personally, only what I believe is the false position which was given without explaining how and why that shift in Christian understanding has happened.

So again, you said:  "I hold it [procreative function] subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function.".

I do not believe any Lutheran social statement or other writing makes this claim, does it?





totaliter vivens

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #49 on: September 30, 2010, 01:32:32 AM »

When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?



You'd like me to defend my "false position"? How could I possibly decline so gracious an invitation? I think, nevertheless, I will not rise to the bait. I have read some of JPII's writings on the theology of the body. Some of it I found helpful, even beautiful. I also found faulty premises that diminished the impact for me. In general I like his poetry more.

SPS

I did not intend the comment to be ungracious.  However, I do believe that this subtle shift in our modern focus, from the importance of both purposes of sex, to one being 'more important' that the other is the root of the problem.  I don't understand how if both are good, that we deem one can be excluded?  I was not attacking you personally, only what I believe is the false position which was given without explaining how and why that shift in Christian understanding has happened.

So again, you said:  "I hold it [procreative function] subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function.".

I do not believe any Lutheran social statement or other writing makes this claim, does it?



I did not think it an unfair characterization of ELCA teaching on the subject, since the social statement countenances contraception. If contraception is a moral (and faithful) option, then it follows that procreation is optional.

SPS


A. Prevention of Unintended Pregnancies
Prevention of unintended pregnancies is crucial in lessening the number of abortions. In addition to efforts within church and home, this church supports appropriate forms of sex education in schools, community pregnancy prevention programs, and parenting preparation classes. We recognize the need for contraceptives to be available, for voluntary sterilization to be considered, and for research and development of new forms of contraception.

« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 01:52:09 AM by totaliter vivens »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #50 on: September 30, 2010, 01:50:31 AM »
Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

What defines a relationship as "marriage"?
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

cssml

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #51 on: September 30, 2010, 01:54:21 AM »

When and how did we decide that God's procreative purpose for sex was subsidiary to the unitive?  I did not expect you to agree with the Catholic understanding, but on the other hand, just arguing from a position of "I'm not obedient to Rome" can be used as a quick tool to discard anything.  Rome does not say everything out of the mouth of Luther or today's Lutherans is error.  If you could provide something more definitive to back up your position of the unitive aspect being somehow more important/primary, I would like to here how that 'new understanding' came about?  I do not accept the false position that the procreative aspect of sex has become less important and is a secondary purpose, and I hold fast to the belief that God's purpose for the good gift of sex within marriage is meant to be both unitive, and life giving.  I'm curious, have you read John Paul's writings on the Theology of the Body?



You'd like me to defend my "false position"? How could I possibly decline so gracious an invitation? I think, nevertheless, I will not rise to the bait. I have read some of JPII's writings on the theology of the body. Some of it I found helpful, even beautiful. I also found faulty premises that diminished the impact for me. In general I like his poetry more.

SPS

I did not intend the comment to be ungracious.  However, I do believe that this subtle shift in our modern focus, from the importance of both purposes of sex, to one being 'more important' that the other is the root of the problem.  I don't understand how if both are good, that we deem one can be excluded?  I was not attacking you personally, only what I believe is the false position which was given without explaining how and why that shift in Christian understanding has happened.

So again, you said:  "I hold it [procreative function] subsidiary to the unitive (companionship) function.".

I do not believe any Lutheran social statement or other writing makes this claim, does it?



I did not think it an unfair characterization of ELCA teaching on the subject, since the social statement countenances contraception. If contraception is a moral (and faithful) option, then it follows that procreation is optional.

SPS


Yes, but do you agree that until about 1930 every Christian body held that contraception was not a moral and faithful option?  This began to change in 1930 when at the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church ruled that contraception would be allowed in *some* circumstances (http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp).

In my belief, the Anglican and ELCA statements (and others) simply document the slow erosion and de-emphasis of God's full intention for human sexuality being both procreative and unitive.  I do not believe they consciously and willfully cast aside the importance of the procreative aspect of sex in marriage, but that has been the effect over time.  I doubt you and I will come to agreement on it, and I can respect you conscience being bound to the ELCA statements.

Blessings


totaliter vivens

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #52 on: September 30, 2010, 02:07:56 AM »

Yes, but do you agree that until about 1930 every Christian body held that contraception was not a moral and faithful option?  This began to change in 1930 when at the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church ruled that contraception would be allowed in *some* circumstances (http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp).

In my belief, the Anglican and ELCA statements (and others) simply document the slow erosion and de-emphasis of God's full intention for human sexuality being both procreative and unitive.  I do not believe they consciously and willfully cast aside the importance of the procreative aspect of sex in marriage, but that has been the effect over time.  I doubt you and I will come to agreement on it, and I can respect you conscience being bound to the ELCA statements.

Blessings



I would agree with your timeline, but not your interpretation of the causes. I think the driving forces were changes in familial, social, and economic structures and somewhat later than that awareness of the explosion of the world's human population (1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999). I am not one of those who views procreation as the root of poverty, or humans as a disease on this planet. But we must steward our procreation as we steward the use of every other resource and gift from God. In the Genesis creation myth, God not only tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, but also that the beasts and vegetation are theirs for food. Yet we must learn the limits on consumption so as not to eat ourselves to death. In like fashion, we must learn the limits on our procreation lest we multiply ourselves to death.

SPS
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 02:10:10 AM by totaliter vivens »

kls

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #53 on: September 30, 2010, 07:27:31 AM »
Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

What defines a relationship as "marriage"?
I'll accept any definition of marriage in response to the question, though I personally accept only one kind.  I believe there is a reason the Church is called the Bride of Christ and not the Groom (but then again I hold that Jesus was a man).   ;)

James Gustafson

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #54 on: September 30, 2010, 07:34:31 AM »
Interestingly enough, I would agree that refusing to accept (faithful) instruction is synonymous with rebellion. But I fear, that in this thread you have disqualified yourself as faithful instructor. You also misunderstand the change I pray for. I do not ask God to change (although God does from time to time), I pray that God will change you, my brother.

SPS


We agree then that refusing to accept instruction is synonymous with rebellion, that is good common ground.  I have not and did not present myself as your faithful instructor, disqualified or otherwise, all I've done is point to the Apostolic and Church Fathers as authoritative and as the sum and norm of Traditionalism, and why it can not now, after the fact, be changed as you previously stated was your hoped for outcome.  In as much as the Apostolic and Church fathers point to Christ, and the Book of Concord points to Christ, and I point at Christ and to them for explanation, I have not attempted to give you instructions of my own, the instructions come from others, we either accept them as authoritative or we do not.

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #55 on: September 30, 2010, 07:56:07 AM »
And the key is to move from the Tradition's proclamation of Christ the Groom and the Church the Bride to an understanding of human marriage, rather than to extrapolate from notions of human marriage to fill out what we think it might mean for the Church to be Christ's Bride. This is analogous to not projecting human notions of fatherhood upon God the Father.

Is sex outside of marriage a sin?

What defines a relationship as "marriage"?
I'll accept any definition of marriage in response to the question, though I personally accept only one kind.  I believe there is a reason the Church is called the Bride of Christ and not the Groom (but then again I hold that Jesus was a man).   ;)
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Scott6

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #56 on: September 30, 2010, 08:37:26 AM »
I've asked many times for those who hold that all homosexual behavior is sinful to show how the Scripture used for that conclusion is an accurate description of what is going on today.  The only answer I've received so far is that it is the clear Word of God.  If anyone chooses to respond, can we start with the New Testament, please, so we don't get bogged down in holiness codes?  Dueling blogs won't do it either.  Your thoughts, your interpretation of what you believe God is saying.

You may not be getting many takers because this topic has been discussed to death on ALPB.  Really.  To death.  I could link literally thousands of posts around "The Issue" (which is ultimately about scriptural interpretation, btw).

But to enter this discussion again, let's just look at one passage for now, Rom 1:26-27:

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας, αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

Here we note that vs. 26 speaks of women giving up of "natural relations" (τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν) for those "against nature" (εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν).  Though vs. 26 doesn't explicitly say this is women having relations with women, vs. 27 does make that clear with the particle ὁμοίως ("likewise") when it explicitly indicates that men engaged in relations with men.  Further, a judgment is given on these relations that are "against nature" -- such relations are "the shameless act" (τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην) and "their error" (τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν) for which they receive a penalty in their own bodies.

Note that no mention of the quality of their relationship is in view.  Only the engaging in relations "against nature" is.  And those are described as the "shameless act."

Further note that it doesn't say "against their nature" as if such activity would be wrong only if they were truly heterosexual and then engaged in homosexual relations.  Rather, it simply calls them "against nature" in general.

And also note that while the specific sin in view is idolatry (and yes, we have plenty of our own idolatries today, worshiping what is created rather than the Creator, but let's leave that obvious point aside for the moment), the description of the appropriateness of homosexual behavior in no way hinges upon whether or not they are idolaters.  Rather, such relations are said to be "against nature" and the acts themselves are called "shameless," and that they are a punishment for the specific sin of (crude) idolatry but the judgment regarding such activity is not so bound.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 08:48:11 AM by Scott Yakimow »

kls

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #57 on: September 30, 2010, 09:49:28 AM »
I know that this issue has been talked to death, but I still thank Dcs. Schave for starting the thread.

I personally grew weary of it creeping into threads that had nothing to do with the issue, so I thought I'd build a new sandbox for people to play in.  I'm new to the forum and I'm sure there are others who are new to it that haven't had the benefit (or not!) of seeing the arguments laid out.  By all means, I'd be happy to stop the discussion right here.  I stated before we run the risk of sounding like a bunch of Lutheran pervs fixated on sexual matters to the outside world as much as it keeps coming up in so many discussions.

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #58 on: September 30, 2010, 10:08:45 AM »

Yes, but do you agree that until about 1930 every Christian body held that contraception was not a moral and faithful option?  This began to change in 1930 when at the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church ruled that contraception would be allowed in *some* circumstances (http://www.catholic.com/library/Birth_Control.asp).

In my belief, the Anglican and ELCA statements (and others) simply document the slow erosion and de-emphasis of God's full intention for human sexuality being both procreative and unitive.  I do not believe they consciously and willfully cast aside the importance of the procreative aspect of sex in marriage, but that has been the effect over time.  I doubt you and I will come to agreement on it, and I can respect you conscience being bound to the ELCA statements.

Blessings



I would agree with your timeline, but not your interpretation of the causes. I think the driving forces were changes in familial, social, and economic structures and somewhat later than that awareness of the explosion of the world's human population (1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999). I am not one of those who views procreation as the root of poverty, or humans as a disease on this planet. But we must steward our procreation as we steward the use of every other resource and gift from God. In the Genesis creation myth, God not only tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, but also that the beasts and vegetation are theirs for food. Yet we must learn the limits on consumption so as not to eat ourselves to death. In like fashion, we must learn the limits on our procreation lest we multiply ourselves to death.

SPS

Yes, but there are also two sides here.  Are you familiar with the concept of demographic suicide?  Many would argue that certain populations (Europe) are contracepting themselves to death.  In his discussion of the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, John Allan observes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/opinion/27allen.html

"No country in Europe has a fertility rate above 2.1, the number of children each woman needs to have by the end of her child-bearing years to keep a population stable.

Even with increasing immigration, Europe is projected to suffer a population loss in the 21st century that will rival the impact of the Black Death, leading some to talk about the continent’s “demographic suicide.”



kls

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Re: Homosexuality Within Lutheranism
« Reply #59 on: September 30, 2010, 10:28:11 AM »
I actually think the deeper issue is -- as it usually is -- the authority and interpretation of Scripture.

I don't think we should ever stop such discussion although widening it off of the specific topic of homosexuality may or may not be wise.

Agreed on both counts, but the gory details get old just as they would if the topic was pornography, pedophelia, prostitution or heterosexual relations.  It seems the least we could do is honor the thread title or at least keep to a more generalized discussion of the issue.  Of course it could just be that I've entered my instinctive motherly PG mode  . . .

By all means, keep the discussion going or not.  I can at least choose whether I come back to this thread or not if I can no longer stomach it.   ;D