Author Topic: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?  (Read 15946 times)

John_Hannah

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #150 on: November 26, 2019, 03:22:39 PM »

At the LCMS Michigan District All Pastors' Conference back in October, one of the breakout speakers was the Rev. William (Billy) A. Brath who spoke on "Loving That Neighbor: Rethinking LGBTQ+." He first gave about a 15 minute introduction and preview of his presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh3tLA6uxJo and than an hour long presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgM_6ejcUW8 .


I strongly recommend both videos recorded at the conference. He does not really get into the argument over whether or not homosexual activity is acceptable to God. He gets into how we can love our neighbors and minister the love of Jesus to them. I'll include his bio from the program to give you an idea of his background and qualifications to speak on the topic. Please, at least view the 15 minute preview. One of the stories he relates is the ministry that was done by the LCC Comfort Dogs after the Pulse nightclub shooting.



Rev. William (Billy) A.  Brath
Rev. Billy Brath serves the church as the Vice-President of Ministry Support – East Region for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). He finds joy working with churches, organizations, and leaders to develop and produce ministries that effectively reach the culture today. He has a B.A. in secular religious studies, worked as an entertainer and dancer in Orlando, Fla., received his M.Div. from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, served as pastor and urban Missionary at Trinity Downtown Orlando, planted the campus congregation at the University of Central Florida, LiveUCF, and has worked with district and national church organizations including Lutheran Hour Ministries and NYG. As a devoted Orlandonian, Billy continues to be Pastor to his neighbors and sees it as his primary call.

Thanks, Dan. Pr. Billy Brath's approach is surely unique within the Missouri Synod. I found it compelling. I would be interested in any other opinions from this Forum about Billy's ministry?

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Dan Fienen

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #151 on: November 26, 2019, 10:02:37 PM »

As would I. He does suggest ways that we can share Jesus' love with the LGBTQ+ community without radically changing our understanding of homosexuality.


One of the stories in the intro video that I especially liked was him coming out to some of his friends and how shocked they were to discover that he is straight.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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Rev Mathew Andersen

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #152 on: November 27, 2019, 09:22:01 AM »
Well I suspect this will not be read but I will join in anyway though I have little respect for this board considering some of the things that have been done by the Forum in the last year or so.  But sometimes something needs said even on such a place as this.

First, although I come to the opposite conclusion from Roger about the sanctity of gay marriage, the argument that what the Bible condemns is exploitative forms male/male sex is a reasonable argument, though, not, I think, especially strong.  For this reason, I can not and will not claim that a person in a gay marriage is not Christian and, frankly, were the question of gay marriage to come for a vote today instead of having been established by the court, I would vote for it even though I myself would not participate in it.



Thirdly, male/male sex is always paired with adultery when mentioned in the Bible.  Even their penalties were the same.  And Christ is crystal clear that a man who divorces a woman makes her the victim of adultery and that remarriage after a non biblical divorce is adultery.  So if we are going to proclaim that a person in a same sex marriage is de-facto non Christian, then we must make the same declaration about the continued adultery of those divorced and remarried men in the congregation.  The whole nonsense that one of those two sins is worse than the other is pure non-biblical garbage.  You can not make that argument from Scripture.  Only pure eisegesis can make that argument stick.

Fourthly, yes I have chosen celibacy and for this reason am tolerated in the Church.  But that is pure works righteousness.  Let's be blunt, if I were to slip up and have sex with a guy or if I decided that I could not refrain from sex and chose commitment to one person over multiple anonymous encounters, I would probably be removed from the church within short order.  I should be accepted on the basis of the cross and faith.  But that is not the reality - the reality is that I am granted "respect" by Christians on the basis of works - and that is kind of twisted.

So those declaring that a man married to a man can not be Christian - sorry, your argument is very weak and inconsistent.
You write: "Secondly, thank God Minneapolis is poised to ban conversion therapy.  That garbage has more Freud than Christ, doesn't work and does great harm.  Would that it would be banned soon on a national level." I have no experience with this kind of therapy apart from what I've read about it, but the comment strikes me as a good lead-in to the problems associated with debating doctrine via personal stories. What if someone logged on here to share their own wonderful experience with conversion therapy? What if they told a heart-warming tale that began with their harrowing and confusing sexual awakening, continued with their journey through various takes on their homosexual desires, leading to the decision to do conversion therapy, and concluded by pointing to their happy marriage and three beaming children? I have no idea if any such person in this forum knows anyone like that, but I've certainly read articles demonstrating that such people may exist. The point is, the real issue would suddenly become lost under the matter of who was being nice and who was being mean to whom.

I happen to think that what is more Freud than Christ is the idea of sexual activity as "self-expression," lack of which is repression. It makes people think there is something unhealthy or morbid about chastity or any aspect of sexual morality beyond the issue of consent. But whatever else may be the case about conversion therapy, we know that minors are being surgically altered in this country to appease the trans lobby. Surgical and chemical sex changes are without question more Freud than Christ, do not actually change anyone's sex, and do great harm, not only to those who get them, but also to those who must somehow modify their own self-understanding as a result of encountering the very idea of a sex change, as though one's sex were malleable and up to them to determine based on their feelings. A happy, otherwise well-adjusted trans person's story wouldn't change the underlying anthropology of whether sex changes are really possible. It would serve merely to guilt everyone into a corner of having to agree with the trans lobby or be seen being hateful and mean to a really nice guy.

Your question about whether someone could be converted from straight to gay assumes an anthropology that I don't share, namely that both attractions are equally normal and natural, and the distinction merely arbitrary. By my view, mating is a natural biological function requiring a male and a female. The desire, merely as such considered in the abstract, is innocent and amoral, like physical hunger. The desire to mate with a member of one's own sex is disordered, like hunger for something that isn't food. Thus, it is a false equivalency to say that a gay man having sex with a woman is the same thing as a straight man having sex with a man. And since at least some studies indicate that homosexuality can be the result of developmental trauma, that is, that it can in some cases be a result of something happening, at least in theory it could be undone. Conversion therapy may be a total crock in that it doesn't really work-- fair enough, I don't know-- but it is not a total crock in terms of the desire that it work and the hope that it would work. Sex change operations, by contrast, are (again, by what I take to be Biblical anthropology) impossible and not desirable even it they were possible. One's sex is immutable. One's "orientation" is moot. The act of mating and the design of marriage, the two becoming one, is male/female.   
Let me answer a couple of things here.

First, when I say conversion therapy is more Freud than Christ I mean that quite literally.  The current manifestation of conversion therapy is reparative therapy which sees the sexual drive in lesbian or gay people as an attempt by the psyche to repair early childhood deficits in the parent/child relationship.  It was introduced my Moberly in the early 80s and given a clinical application by Nicolosi soon after than.  It very much is a Freudian approach to homosexuality which became popular in the Church, not because it included Christ - in fact, in Nicolosi's case, Christ hardly makes an appearance, but because it was essentially an easy way for Christians to pass off members to practitioners who claimed they could cure them.  The harm it does is manifold.  1) it costs a great deal of money and takes a great deal of time.  The therapist can keep claiming the subject just needs more work, isn't cooperative enough, isn't trying hard enough or doesn't want to change enough and thus keep the client paying and paying and paying until the client just finally gets frustrated and quits.  2) because it is predicated on a poor parent/child relationship the therapist must identify where that relationship went wrong - and often winds up ruining and destroying an otherwise good relationship between the parent and child in the process by making up or exaggerating damage in that relationship. 3) The desire that it work is actually a large part of the damage.  It not only makes the client into the perfect target for financial gain by the practitioner, it also is often given tremendous weight by a young person's parents or Church and, when it fails, the young person believes they have utterly let a loved one down - increasing the weight of self hate and self harm.  Their last best hope to become straight, and therefore loved by mom, dad and God, fails and they are often blamed for not working the program or really being repentant.  That guilt can be deadly.

As to studies that show homosexuality may be caused by developmental factors: there really aren't any.  What does exist are studies that show a correlation between childhood abuse (often sexual) and homosexuality.  But a correlation does not prove causation.  The reality could be the exact opposite.  Because a child who does not fit in with his peers is more isolated, he is a more likely target for a sexual predator who, by necessity, must look for a victim less likely to reveal what is done to him. same with the parent/child dynamic of repartive therapy.  Did a weak child/parent relationship cause homosexuality or did a child who was significantly different from dad simply have a more difficult time forming a close relationship.  There are also studies that show there is no direct link between DNA and homosexuality.  The studies will say that homosexuality is developmental - however, biologically, the hormones are considered a developmental factor.  So these studies are NOT saying it was a childhood trauma that caused homosexuality but only that it was part of the development of the child - perhaps in the womb - that resulted in homosexuality.

I agree, I do not want kids chemically and surgically altered.  It is a bad solution.  But if we are going to change that we need to offer a better solution.  We have to face the fact that some of these things can not be fixed and so we need to ask what can we do other than piss and moan about what bad solutions the world offers.  I Would say the same thing about divorce and remarriage.  We did not fail by not adequately preaching the law against remarriage but in failing to offer assistance.  Did we offer what was needed for a young working mother who found herself divorced?  Did we really offer friendship and companionship to the man who was divorced so that he might not feel such a need to find another wife?  The church complained about divorce but did the Church really do what was necessary to make up for the missing spouse so that simple needs of life did not require a remarriage?  Today the Church does a lot of complaining but I have yet to see any pastor say "what can we do to help meet the needs of a kid who feels he or she is in the body of the wrong sex?  Is there alternatives to transition.  I honestly don't know but the Church doesn't seem to be doing squat in that direction any more than it did with divorce decades ago and homosexuality.  We have to face the fact parents are literally trying to keep their kids alive and ask how can we offer something that will be a better option instead of just whining about parents doing the best they can.  And right now the Church appears way more interested in what bathroom these kids use than in what they might need to be emotionally and spiritually health.

And maybe my place in the church is not based solely on my behavior - but the most common response I get from Christians on learning I am gay is "but your celibate right? ---well then that's OK."  Not, "but you believe in Christ" or "but you are repentant" or even "you are trying to obey God." No, what Christians really want to know is if I am celibate.  That would seem to indicate quite strongly that works righteousness is the key to membership in the body of Christ for same sex attracted people.

Michael Slusser

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #153 on: November 27, 2019, 11:17:22 AM »
Let me answer a couple of things here.

First, when I say conversion therapy is more Freud than Christ I mean that quite literally.  The current manifestation of conversion therapy is reparative therapy which sees the sexual drive in lesbian or gay people as an attempt by the psyche to repair early childhood deficits in the parent/child relationship.  It was introduced my Moberly in the early 80s and given a clinical application by Nicolosi soon after than.  It very much is a Freudian approach to homosexuality which became popular in the Church, not because it included Christ - in fact, in Nicolosi's case, Christ hardly makes an appearance, but because it was essentially an easy way for Christians to pass off members to practitioners who claimed they could cure them.  The harm it does is manifold.  1) it costs a great deal of money and takes a great deal of time.  The therapist can keep claiming the subject just needs more work, isn't cooperative enough, isn't trying hard enough or doesn't want to change enough and thus keep the client paying and paying and paying until the client just finally gets frustrated and quits.  2) because it is predicated on a poor parent/child relationship the therapist must identify where that relationship went wrong - and often winds up ruining and destroying an otherwise good relationship between the parent and child in the process by making up or exaggerating damage in that relationship. 3) The desire that it work is actually a large part of the damage.  It not only makes the client into the perfect target for financial gain by the practitioner, it also is often given tremendous weight by a young person's parents or Church and, when it fails, the young person believes they have utterly let a loved one down - increasing the weight of self hate and self harm.  Their last best hope to become straight, and therefore loved by mom, dad and God, fails and they are often blamed for not working the program or really being repentant.  That guilt can be deadly.

As to studies that show homosexuality may be caused by developmental factors: there really aren't any.  What does exist are studies that show a correlation between childhood abuse (often sexual) and homosexuality.  But a correlation does not prove causation.  The reality could be the exact opposite.  Because a child who does not fit in with his peers is more isolated, he is a more likely target for a sexual predator who, by necessity, must look for a victim less likely to reveal what is done to him. same with the parent/child dynamic of reparative therapy.  Did a weak child/parent relationship cause homosexuality or did a child who was significantly different from dad simply have a more difficult time forming a close relationship.  There are also studies that show there is no direct link between DNA and homosexuality.  The studies will say that homosexuality is developmental - however, biologically, the hormones are considered a developmental factor.  So these studies are NOT saying it was a childhood trauma that caused homosexuality but only that it was part of the development of the child - perhaps in the womb - that resulted in homosexuality.

I agree, I do not want kids chemically and surgically altered.  It is a bad solution.  But if we are going to change that we need to offer a better solution.  We have to face the fact that some of these things can not be fixed and so we need to ask what can we do other than piss and moan about what bad solutions the world offers.  I Would say the same thing about divorce and remarriage.  We did not fail by not adequately preaching the law against remarriage but in failing to offer assistance.  Did we offer what was needed for a young working mother who found herself divorced?  Did we really offer friendship and companionship to the man who was divorced so that he might not feel such a need to find another wife?  The church complained about divorce but did the Church really do what was necessary to make up for the missing spouse so that simple needs of life did not require a remarriage?  Today the Church does a lot of complaining but I have yet to see any pastor say "what can we do to help meet the needs of a kid who feels he or she is in the body of the wrong sex?  Is there alternatives to transition.  I honestly don't know but the Church doesn't seem to be doing squat in that direction any more than it did with divorce decades ago and homosexuality.  We have to face the fact parents are literally trying to keep their kids alive and ask how can we offer something that will be a better option instead of just whining about parents doing the best they can.  And right now the Church appears way more interested in what bathroom these kids use than in what they might need to be emotionally and spiritually health.

And maybe my place in the church is not based solely on my behavior - but the most common response I get from Christians on learning I am gay is "but you're celibate right? ---well then that's OK."  Not, "but you believe in Christ" or "but you are repentant" or even "you are trying to obey God." No, what Christians really want to know is if I am celibate.  That would seem to indicate quite strongly that works righteousness is the key to membership in the body of Christ for same sex attracted people.
I find that all very helpful.
What I fear about laws against reparative therapy is that they might intimidate therapists from working in this area with young people, lest the outcome not conform to expectations. A law would have to be very carefully worded to avoid that danger, IMO.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Rev Mathew Andersen

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #154 on: November 27, 2019, 11:57:30 AM »
Let me answer a couple of things here.

First, when I say conversion therapy is more Freud than Christ I mean that quite literally.  The current manifestation of conversion therapy is reparative therapy which sees the sexual drive in lesbian or gay people as an attempt by the psyche to repair early childhood deficits in the parent/child relationship.  It was introduced my Moberly in the early 80s and given a clinical application by Nicolosi soon after than.  It very much is a Freudian approach to homosexuality which became popular in the Church, not because it included Christ - in fact, in Nicolosi's case, Christ hardly makes an appearance, but because it was essentially an easy way for Christians to pass off members to practitioners who claimed they could cure them.  The harm it does is manifold.  1) it costs a great deal of money and takes a great deal of time.  The therapist can keep claiming the subject just needs more work, isn't cooperative enough, isn't trying hard enough or doesn't want to change enough and thus keep the client paying and paying and paying until the client just finally gets frustrated and quits.  2) because it is predicated on a poor parent/child relationship the therapist must identify where that relationship went wrong - and often winds up ruining and destroying an otherwise good relationship between the parent and child in the process by making up or exaggerating damage in that relationship. 3) The desire that it work is actually a large part of the damage.  It not only makes the client into the perfect target for financial gain by the practitioner, it also is often given tremendous weight by a young person's parents or Church and, when it fails, the young person believes they have utterly let a loved one down - increasing the weight of self hate and self harm.  Their last best hope to become straight, and therefore loved by mom, dad and God, fails and they are often blamed for not working the program or really being repentant.  That guilt can be deadly.

As to studies that show homosexuality may be caused by developmental factors: there really aren't any.  What does exist are studies that show a correlation between childhood abuse (often sexual) and homosexuality.  But a correlation does not prove causation.  The reality could be the exact opposite.  Because a child who does not fit in with his peers is more isolated, he is a more likely target for a sexual predator who, by necessity, must look for a victim less likely to reveal what is done to him. same with the parent/child dynamic of reparative therapy.  Did a weak child/parent relationship cause homosexuality or did a child who was significantly different from dad simply have a more difficult time forming a close relationship.  There are also studies that show there is no direct link between DNA and homosexuality.  The studies will say that homosexuality is developmental - however, biologically, the hormones are considered a developmental factor.  So these studies are NOT saying it was a childhood trauma that caused homosexuality but only that it was part of the development of the child - perhaps in the womb - that resulted in homosexuality.

I agree, I do not want kids chemically and surgically altered.  It is a bad solution.  But if we are going to change that we need to offer a better solution.  We have to face the fact that some of these things can not be fixed and so we need to ask what can we do other than piss and moan about what bad solutions the world offers.  I Would say the same thing about divorce and remarriage.  We did not fail by not adequately preaching the law against remarriage but in failing to offer assistance.  Did we offer what was needed for a young working mother who found herself divorced?  Did we really offer friendship and companionship to the man who was divorced so that he might not feel such a need to find another wife?  The church complained about divorce but did the Church really do what was necessary to make up for the missing spouse so that simple needs of life did not require a remarriage?  Today the Church does a lot of complaining but I have yet to see any pastor say "what can we do to help meet the needs of a kid who feels he or she is in the body of the wrong sex?  Is there alternatives to transition.  I honestly don't know but the Church doesn't seem to be doing squat in that direction any more than it did with divorce decades ago and homosexuality.  We have to face the fact parents are literally trying to keep their kids alive and ask how can we offer something that will be a better option instead of just whining about parents doing the best they can.  And right now the Church appears way more interested in what bathroom these kids use than in what they might need to be emotionally and spiritually health.

And maybe my place in the church is not based solely on my behavior - but the most common response I get from Christians on learning I am gay is "but you're celibate right? ---well then that's OK."  Not, "but you believe in Christ" or "but you are repentant" or even "you are trying to obey God." No, what Christians really want to know is if I am celibate.  That would seem to indicate quite strongly that works righteousness is the key to membership in the body of Christ for same sex attracted people.
I find that all very helpful.
What I fear about laws against reparative therapy is that they might intimidate therapists from working in this area with young people, lest the outcome not conform to expectations. A law would have to be very carefully worded to avoid that danger, IMO.

Peace,
Michael
And this is one of the areas where the church could be pro-active.  We could acknowledge the damage reparative/conversion therapy has done and be on the front lines of helping write legislation or policies ending it while leaving open the possibility of an individual choosing an alternative like celibacy or mixed orientation marriage in spite of sexual desire.  Here, the identity therapy developed by Yarhouse and Throckmorton might be a great option.  In brief, in identity therapy the client acknowledges that two parts of his identity are in conflict and chooses which he wishes to make the central factor of his identity and then explores how handle the other factor to bring it into line with what he has chosen as his central identity.  So, for instance, if he believes his faith and the doctrine it holds to be central, he will explore how to handle his sexuality to fit with his faith.  Now the outcome might not be what a pastor would necessarily like to see.  The person might choose to make sexuality the defining factor and, therefore, accept an interpretation of the Bible that sees the condemnations as only applying to the abusive relationships of the past.  Or he might choose to make his faith the central factor but knowing he is unable to maintain celibacy, choose to have sex with just one other person through some form of commitment or marriage relationship.  Or he might decided that, his faith being of utmost importance, he wishes to achieve celibacy or form and maintain a marriage with someone of the opposite sex. Or the person may choose not to form any part of his identity around sexual desire and find a means to deal with it as an alien part of his experience.  The therapist's job is to help resolve the conflict, not to predetermine which direction that resolution will go.  Obviously the pastor may not approve of some of those options.  But if the pastor is willing to listen and learn and gently discuss, I think most pastors would be surprised at the amount of weight a same sex attracted member will give to the pastor's input.  So pastors could do a lot of good by being proactive, helping to write laws that forbid the kinds of counseling that are often dangerous and dishonest, while being involved in and protecting those kinds of counseling that allow the clients the freedom to make choices central to their lives.  But knee-jerk reaction to regulations against conversion therapy simply because the pastor agrees with the stated goals of such therapy are not helpful and will be counter productive.

Actually to add to this, churches could really be proactive in a number of areas in terms of LGBT issues.  Just as an example, if the Church, during the AIDS crisis, had said, while we do not agree with the direction some people have chosen to live in their sexuality, people are dying.  What can we do to apply our fundraising efforts to assist those who need medical care or whose medical bills put them at risk of losing their homes or going hungry?  Even some quilts sent to victims dying of AIDS would have made a huge difference in the way the church was perceived.  Had the Church been active in showing compassion and in helping the helpless we would have a lot more say today in public policy.  Some areas we can still be proactive today would be in coming up with ways to prevent and end bullying.  Working WITH rather than talking ABOUT transgender students in developing bathroom and locker room policies.  A new form of the AIDS virus is being found that is resistance to current treatment.  Preparing now to help should that be necessary would be a good idea.  Employment and housing are sometimes a problem for gay people - helping to develop laws that protect people and yet also allow for religions to hold to their values would be a good place for us to be working NOW rather than reacting to laws that protect these things for LGBT people written by others.  There are really a lot of things that could be done in terms of helping develop public policy.  No, they would not be appreciated by the extremists in the LGBT community but those represent just as small a portion of that community as the Westboros do in Christianity.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 12:13:40 PM by Matt Andersen »

peter_speckhard

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #155 on: November 27, 2019, 12:37:13 PM »
Well I suspect this will not be read but I will join in anyway though I have little respect for this board considering some of the things that have been done by the Forum in the last year or so.  But sometimes something needs said even on such a place as this.

First, although I come to the opposite conclusion from Roger about the sanctity of gay marriage, the argument that what the Bible condemns is exploitative forms male/male sex is a reasonable argument, though, not, I think, especially strong.  For this reason, I can not and will not claim that a person in a gay marriage is not Christian and, frankly, were the question of gay marriage to come for a vote today instead of having been established by the court, I would vote for it even though I myself would not participate in it.



Thirdly, male/male sex is always paired with adultery when mentioned in the Bible.  Even their penalties were the same.  And Christ is crystal clear that a man who divorces a woman makes her the victim of adultery and that remarriage after a non biblical divorce is adultery.  So if we are going to proclaim that a person in a same sex marriage is de-facto non Christian, then we must make the same declaration about the continued adultery of those divorced and remarried men in the congregation.  The whole nonsense that one of those two sins is worse than the other is pure non-biblical garbage.  You can not make that argument from Scripture.  Only pure eisegesis can make that argument stick.

Fourthly, yes I have chosen celibacy and for this reason am tolerated in the Church.  But that is pure works righteousness.  Let's be blunt, if I were to slip up and have sex with a guy or if I decided that I could not refrain from sex and chose commitment to one person over multiple anonymous encounters, I would probably be removed from the church within short order.  I should be accepted on the basis of the cross and faith.  But that is not the reality - the reality is that I am granted "respect" by Christians on the basis of works - and that is kind of twisted.

So those declaring that a man married to a man can not be Christian - sorry, your argument is very weak and inconsistent.
You write: "Secondly, thank God Minneapolis is poised to ban conversion therapy.  That garbage has more Freud than Christ, doesn't work and does great harm.  Would that it would be banned soon on a national level." I have no experience with this kind of therapy apart from what I've read about it, but the comment strikes me as a good lead-in to the problems associated with debating doctrine via personal stories. What if someone logged on here to share their own wonderful experience with conversion therapy? What if they told a heart-warming tale that began with their harrowing and confusing sexual awakening, continued with their journey through various takes on their homosexual desires, leading to the decision to do conversion therapy, and concluded by pointing to their happy marriage and three beaming children? I have no idea if any such person in this forum knows anyone like that, but I've certainly read articles demonstrating that such people may exist. The point is, the real issue would suddenly become lost under the matter of who was being nice and who was being mean to whom.

I happen to think that what is more Freud than Christ is the idea of sexual activity as "self-expression," lack of which is repression. It makes people think there is something unhealthy or morbid about chastity or any aspect of sexual morality beyond the issue of consent. But whatever else may be the case about conversion therapy, we know that minors are being surgically altered in this country to appease the trans lobby. Surgical and chemical sex changes are without question more Freud than Christ, do not actually change anyone's sex, and do great harm, not only to those who get them, but also to those who must somehow modify their own self-understanding as a result of encountering the very idea of a sex change, as though one's sex were malleable and up to them to determine based on their feelings. A happy, otherwise well-adjusted trans person's story wouldn't change the underlying anthropology of whether sex changes are really possible. It would serve merely to guilt everyone into a corner of having to agree with the trans lobby or be seen being hateful and mean to a really nice guy.

Your question about whether someone could be converted from straight to gay assumes an anthropology that I don't share, namely that both attractions are equally normal and natural, and the distinction merely arbitrary. By my view, mating is a natural biological function requiring a male and a female. The desire, merely as such considered in the abstract, is innocent and amoral, like physical hunger. The desire to mate with a member of one's own sex is disordered, like hunger for something that isn't food. Thus, it is a false equivalency to say that a gay man having sex with a woman is the same thing as a straight man having sex with a man. And since at least some studies indicate that homosexuality can be the result of developmental trauma, that is, that it can in some cases be a result of something happening, at least in theory it could be undone. Conversion therapy may be a total crock in that it doesn't really work-- fair enough, I don't know-- but it is not a total crock in terms of the desire that it work and the hope that it would work. Sex change operations, by contrast, are (again, by what I take to be Biblical anthropology) impossible and not desirable even it they were possible. One's sex is immutable. One's "orientation" is moot. The act of mating and the design of marriage, the two becoming one, is male/female.   
Let me answer a couple of things here.

First, when I say conversion therapy is more Freud than Christ I mean that quite literally.  The current manifestation of conversion therapy is reparative therapy which sees the sexual drive in lesbian or gay people as an attempt by the psyche to repair early childhood deficits in the parent/child relationship.  It was introduced my Moberly in the early 80s and given a clinical application by Nicolosi soon after than.  It very much is a Freudian approach to homosexuality which became popular in the Church, not because it included Christ - in fact, in Nicolosi's case, Christ hardly makes an appearance, but because it was essentially an easy way for Christians to pass off members to practitioners who claimed they could cure them.  The harm it does is manifold.  1) it costs a great deal of money and takes a great deal of time.  The therapist can keep claiming the subject just needs more work, isn't cooperative enough, isn't trying hard enough or doesn't want to change enough and thus keep the client paying and paying and paying until the client just finally gets frustrated and quits.  2) because it is predicated on a poor parent/child relationship the therapist must identify where that relationship went wrong - and often winds up ruining and destroying an otherwise good relationship between the parent and child in the process by making up or exaggerating damage in that relationship. 3) The desire that it work is actually a large part of the damage.  It not only makes the client into the perfect target for financial gain by the practitioner, it also is often given tremendous weight by a young person's parents or Church and, when it fails, the young person believes they have utterly let a loved one down - increasing the weight of self hate and self harm.  Their last best hope to become straight, and therefore loved by mom, dad and God, fails and they are often blamed for not working the program or really being repentant.  That guilt can be deadly.

As to studies that show homosexuality may be caused by developmental factors: there really aren't any.  What does exist are studies that show a correlation between childhood abuse (often sexual) and homosexuality.  But a correlation does not prove causation.  The reality could be the exact opposite.  Because a child who does not fit in with his peers is more isolated, he is a more likely target for a sexual predator who, by necessity, must look for a victim less likely to reveal what is done to him. same with the parent/child dynamic of repartive therapy.  Did a weak child/parent relationship cause homosexuality or did a child who was significantly different from dad simply have a more difficult time forming a close relationship.  There are also studies that show there is no direct link between DNA and homosexuality.  The studies will say that homosexuality is developmental - however, biologically, the hormones are considered a developmental factor.  So these studies are NOT saying it was a childhood trauma that caused homosexuality but only that it was part of the development of the child - perhaps in the womb - that resulted in homosexuality.

I agree, I do not want kids chemically and surgically altered.  It is a bad solution.  But if we are going to change that we need to offer a better solution.  We have to face the fact that some of these things can not be fixed and so we need to ask what can we do other than piss and moan about what bad solutions the world offers.  I Would say the same thing about divorce and remarriage.  We did not fail by not adequately preaching the law against remarriage but in failing to offer assistance.  Did we offer what was needed for a young working mother who found herself divorced?  Did we really offer friendship and companionship to the man who was divorced so that he might not feel such a need to find another wife?  The church complained about divorce but did the Church really do what was necessary to make up for the missing spouse so that simple needs of life did not require a remarriage?  Today the Church does a lot of complaining but I have yet to see any pastor say "what can we do to help meet the needs of a kid who feels he or she is in the body of the wrong sex?  Is there alternatives to transition.  I honestly don't know but the Church doesn't seem to be doing squat in that direction any more than it did with divorce decades ago and homosexuality.  We have to face the fact parents are literally trying to keep their kids alive and ask how can we offer something that will be a better option instead of just whining about parents doing the best they can.  And right now the Church appears way more interested in what bathroom these kids use than in what they might need to be emotionally and spiritually health.

And maybe my place in the church is not based solely on my behavior - but the most common response I get from Christians on learning I am gay is "but your celibate right? ---well then that's OK."  Not, "but you believe in Christ" or "but you are repentant" or even "you are trying to obey God." No, what Christians really want to know is if I am celibate.  That would seem to indicate quite strongly that works righteousness is the key to membership in the body of Christ for same sex attracted people.
Allow me to reiterate how valued your presence in this forum is. You consistently offer a lot to think about.

I'd like to address your last paragraph first because I think it captures some of the difficulty involved with the issue. If you're meeting Christians as a Christian, my guess is they take for granted that you believe in Jesus. And if the topic is the fact that you are gay (which it would be if they are learning it just then) would naturally go to the distinction between orientation and behavior precisely because that is NOT a given anymore. There are churches that think same-sex behavior is to be celebrated, and churches that think it should be condemned. There are people who identify as gay with the assumption that accepting them means accepting same-sex behavior. So the people asking about celibacy are finding out something important about an important distinction. If they think gay sex is a sin but don't find out where you stand on the issue when you tell them you're gay, they could be setting up the whole relationship for a serious sense of betrayal. So it might be awkward, but it isn't like it is self-explanatory how to be on the other side of that conversation in our cultural context. 

I think it is a mistake to dismiss it as whining and complaining when Christians condemn one solution without having a better one of their own. The teaching of the church needs to be Biblical. If you don't know the right answer, but know for certain that the proposed answer is definitely wrong, you have to say so. I don't know what to do about the homeless who are mentally ill. But I do know that euthanizing them is not an acceptable answer. So if I condemn some program of euthanizing the mentally ill, that condemnation is perfectly necessary, Biblical, and salutary even if I have no idea myself what to do about them. So it is with sexual immorality. I know for certain that treating a man having sex with a man the same as a man having sex with a woman is wrong, bad, and in all other ways unacceptable. It is part of my vocation to teach the 6th Commandment properly. And I can't wait until I have a solution for all the difficulties that people tempted toward that behavior face before I teach what God has revealed. I can try to nurture a community within which all know they are welcome as forgiven sinners. But the rest of the community is comprised of sinners, too, with other problems besides same-sex attraction. If I preach against, say, spousal abuse, I can't wait until I have the perfect community to compensate for whatever it is that makes someone feel the urge to abuse their spouse, which might be cultural, psychological, or medicinal at root, but which needs to stop. The behavior is condemned by the Commandments. The community that nurtures such sinners is an ongoing project.

In my situation, anything I say or do, short of demonstrating that I don't think sodomy is immoral or calling people to repentance, will be taken as unfeeling, uncaring, hateful, un-pastoral, or whatever. I can't avoid the topic because it is overt and nonstop in the lives of the people I shepherd. And there are Lutheran pastors who have practically devoted their lives to contradicting me at every turn, and my people have access to what they say. So every time it comes up, there needs to be constant clarification. It isn't nearly as simple to navigate from the "straight Christian pastor" side of the equation as you seem to think it should be. The first gay couple ever to adopt a child in the state of Indiana is (well, one of the partners is) a member of my church. We've had long discussions. They haven't gone well, but not for lack of listening, caring, and trying. When there are churches out there thinking gay marriage is great, he can't understand the contrary position in any terms other than our refusal to accept him as a person as he is.

At a recent gathering of our school's graduates from five years ago, one has left the church because he is bisexual and doesn't like what we teach, though he remains on good terms with everyone personally. Another is a former girl who now identifies as a man. It is paralyzing to try to address anything, or teach anything, without either just burning bridges or getting swept away by insanity and immorality. That's why I appreciate your input here. It is more helpful than you might realize, to more people than you might realize.   

What you say about the origins of homosexuality I can't really dispute. The science is all over the map, and yes, definitive proof is tough to come by. I've  generally said the point is moot whether the attraction, genetic, acquired, chosen, or whatever. I only brought up the one view that it is acquired to make the point about why people might have reason to think conversion therapy could in theory work.

As for conversion therapy, I don't really know the ins and outs of how it is supposed to work. Your explanation is helpful. Taking as read that it doesn't work, of course it should not be done. But the people doing it were obviously not taking as read that it didn't work, and were not bad for wanting to do it. There are body parts meant for sex and procreation the way eyes are meant to see. When there is a tragic problem inhibiting a normal biological function, it is perfectly natural to want to fix it. It might not be fixable, agreed, but the desire to fix it is innocent. Parents want their children to have children because they love their children and want to love their grandchildren. The parents' desire might cause hurt when it isn't going to happen, but it is a genuine, natural, normal, and loving desire.       

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #156 on: November 27, 2019, 12:39:28 PM »
Here is a great video detailing the experiences of gay Christian young people growing up in the church.  It's very much worth the watch all the way through, and it forms a great way to begin group discussions of how Christians have historically treated gay people in the church.
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #157 on: November 27, 2019, 02:03:47 PM »
Here is a great video detailing the experiences of gay Christian young people growing up in the church.  It's very much worth the watch all the way through, and it forms a great way to begin group discussions of how Christians have historically treated gay people in the church.
Very interesting.

As a bonus, the importance of Lutheran sacramental theology comes out even more clearly than anything to do with sex.

The video linked by Yak is the sort of thing (kind of) I had in mind in 2014 when I wrote the following as part of an article in Forum Letter:

My two main prescriptions are first, that the LCMS listen to our worst critics as though they are speaking the truth. True, just because people say you are treating them hatefully doesn’t mean you are, but it is also true that just because you say you are treating them lovingly doesn’t mean you are, either. Let’s not kid ourselves; the heart is deceitful above all things. We ought not claim to understand our own motives so much more clearly than do the people who impute bad motives to us. We have the evidence of our own thoughts that remains hidden from them, but such evidence can deceive us. And they have other evidence hidden from us, evidence which is also not infallible but still to be taken into account. Speaking the truth in love is so much easier when there is a clear proof text to establish the presence of truth and no evidence required or admitted to establish the presence of love, or even to establish a bare minimum of understanding and sympathy. It can just be speaking the truth with a tacked on assertion of love, which takes no effort and requires no harsh introspection and generally fails even to be true.

So something I think would be helpful would be a seminar or convocation, possibly at one of the seminaries, at which formerly LCMS homosexuals simply describe their experience with LCMS churches. The rules for the audience would simply be no argument or contradiction, no embattled defensiveness—we aren’t admitting to the truth of the charges just by listening to them, but we are considering the possibility of the truth of the charges, or if not charges, at least negative experiences. It would just be a genuine, face-to-face explanation from homosexual people who have left the LCMS of their reasons for leaving. There could then be a panel discussion led by sem profs or President Harrison or DP’s or some other recognizable LCMS leaders, with or without the homosexual former LCMSers present. It wouldn’t be a matter of “What should our position be?” but “How shall we go about holding this position effectively in our new context?” I think such an event, if widely attended, could not only help on this issue but also be a step toward a positive change in the general culture of the LCMS.

« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 02:07:26 PM by peter_speckhard »

David Garner

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #158 on: November 27, 2019, 02:18:06 PM »
Regarding conversion therapy, from a Christian perspective the greatest issue I see with it is that it views celibacy as something not worth pursuing, something "lesser than," when St. Paul says it is greater.  The saints rejoice that they are called to suffer for Christ.  We seem to reject that idea.  What I mean is simply this -- conversion therapy is not a Christian approach to helping a gay person struggle, and more to the point struggling WITH the gay person.  Conversion therapy tells them "something is wrong with you, let's try to make you not gay."

Which is not to say there is nothing wrong with gay people, but rather to say there is something wrong with all of us, but we single out gay people for this idea that "you have to become what you are not, you have to order your desires according to our desires," rather than "you suffer, let me suffer with you, let us struggle against our desires together, let me confess my sins to you so you know you are not alone."

Nobody gets through this world without sexual sin.  The proper Christian response is to confess, take the log from our own eye, and  assist, providing consolation, comfort, empathy, and forgiveness.  And Mr. Anderson rightly notes, it is to do these things not of our own volition, but in view of Christ, Who suffered for us all.
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David Garner

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #159 on: November 27, 2019, 02:23:32 PM »
To further that last point, a while back I wrote this:

"We call all to repent, and to get in line behind us in that endeavor.  We see ourselves as chief among sinners, and we are to defend and speak well of our neighbor instead of slandering him.  This means that when my neighbor is slandered for being a homosexual, I must defend him.  I must stand between him and those who accuse him and lay my own sins bare, for they are worse than his.  I must speak well of him and demand that others do the same.  I must refuse to allow him to be mistreated, or marginalized, or slandered."

I honestly think one way we as heterosexual Christians can help our gay brethren is to simply let them know they are not alone.  That we too have sexual sins and disordered desires.  That we too sometimes fail and act on them in inappropriate ways, whether it be the simple "Sermon on the Mount" version of what our right of confession calls "lustful watching" or something like pornography, fornication or adultery.  We too struggle.  We too fall.  And the reason I think that is helpful is because to my observation, too often homosexuality is singled out as some "super sin," when the truth is it is no different in scope or kind than the sins I mention above.
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #160 on: November 27, 2019, 03:47:34 PM »
Regarding conversion therapy, from a Christian perspective the greatest issue I see with it is that it views celibacy as something not worth pursuing, something "lesser than," when St. Paul says it is greater.  The saints rejoice that they are called to suffer for Christ.  We seem to reject that idea.  What I mean is simply this -- conversion therapy is not a Christian approach to helping a gay person struggle, and more to the point struggling WITH the gay person.  Conversion therapy tells them "something is wrong with you, let's try to make you not gay."

Which is not to say there is nothing wrong with gay people, but rather to say there is something wrong with all of us, but we single out gay people for this idea that "you have to become what you are not, you have to order your desires according to our desires," rather than "you suffer, let me suffer with you, let us struggle against our desires together, let me confess my sins to you so you know you are not alone."

Nobody gets through this world without sexual sin.  The proper Christian response is to confess, take the log from our own eye, and  assist, providing consolation, comfort, empathy, and forgiveness.  And Mr. Anderson rightly notes, it is to do these things not of our own volition, but in view of Christ, Who suffered for us all.
Being single for the sake of undivided work in the kingdom is greater. Being single for the sake of self-absorbed attention to one's hobbies and passions is not. The issue is undivided work and attention to higher things, not whether celibacy per se is better than having sex. Someone whose devotion to watching sports on tv precludes living up to the demands of marriage has not chosen the better portion by (wisely) remaining single.

I'm with you entirely, except that I don't think you've accounted for the real offense, at least in many of the cases I've come across. You offer to bear with someone in their struggle, but what if that offer is itself the offense, and having to entertain such offers is the real burden? Treating same-sex attraction as a burden or something to be struggled with or otherwise lamented rather than treated as a matter of indifference, seems to be what many gay people object to. Compare it to alcoholism, or kleptomania, or blindness, and you have offended them, as though people with those other afflictions were beneath their dignity. No, you must treat homosexuality as something perhaps unusual but morally and biologically neutral, like having red hair, or else you are being unloving.   

David Garner

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #161 on: November 27, 2019, 03:52:03 PM »
Regarding conversion therapy, from a Christian perspective the greatest issue I see with it is that it views celibacy as something not worth pursuing, something "lesser than," when St. Paul says it is greater.  The saints rejoice that they are called to suffer for Christ.  We seem to reject that idea.  What I mean is simply this -- conversion therapy is not a Christian approach to helping a gay person struggle, and more to the point struggling WITH the gay person.  Conversion therapy tells them "something is wrong with you, let's try to make you not gay."

Which is not to say there is nothing wrong with gay people, but rather to say there is something wrong with all of us, but we single out gay people for this idea that "you have to become what you are not, you have to order your desires according to our desires," rather than "you suffer, let me suffer with you, let us struggle against our desires together, let me confess my sins to you so you know you are not alone."

Nobody gets through this world without sexual sin.  The proper Christian response is to confess, take the log from our own eye, and  assist, providing consolation, comfort, empathy, and forgiveness.  And Mr. Anderson rightly notes, it is to do these things not of our own volition, but in view of Christ, Who suffered for us all.
Being single for the sake of undivided work in the kingdom is greater. Being single for the sake of self-absorbed attention to one's hobbies and passions is not. The issue is undivided work and attention to higher things, not whether celibacy per se is better than having sex. Someone whose devotion to watching sports on tv precludes living up to the demands of marriage has not chosen the better portion by (wisely) remaining single.

I'm with you entirely, except that I don't think you've accounted for the real offense, at least in many of the cases I've come across. You offer to bear with someone in their struggle, but what if that offer is itself the offense, and having to entertain such offers is the real burden? Treating same-sex attraction as a burden or something to be struggled with or otherwise lamented rather than treated as a matter of indifference, seems to be what many gay people object to. Compare it to alcoholism, or kleptomania, or blindness, and you have offended them, as though people with those other afflictions were beneath their dignity. No, you must treat homosexuality as something perhaps unusual but morally and biologically neutral, like having red hair, or else you are being unloving.   

Granted, for those who suggest we ought not treat it as a sin like any other, one cannot take the approach I suggest.  But I think Mr. Anderson was speaking of those who seek to be faithful to the teachings of the Church, to conform their lives to the life of Christ, and to attempt to live, imperfectly, as God wills, I think my approach still has merit.
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Dave Benke

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #162 on: November 27, 2019, 04:36:11 PM »
perhaps unusual but morally and biologically neutral, like having red hair,

Pick another biological marker.  Having two brothers with red hair, I have heard the various theories of why through the course of world history "red" was viewed as "bad."  Just because, well, biology be darned, those redheads were different, weird, and frankly heretical.  So this:  45,000 women were killed between the years 1483 and 1784 for witchcraft. All of them had red hair. Why? Well redheaded women were believed to be practitioners of dark magic (for no other reason than their appearance) and would be “hunted” and burned at the stake in front of discriminating audiences.

Although not on point to the discussion, it does make the point that biology was destiny for redheads for a long time.

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #163 on: November 27, 2019, 06:09:05 PM »
Pondering Points

Thanks to all of you who offered their comments both pro and con to my posting. In reading all of them carefully, I want to offer a few more observations.

I hope that we can all agree that it is good to not judge which I think is the underlying theme of this thread. I ran across this meme in Facebook and I think it is a good one: “Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you.” This is almost a modern-day variation of Matthew 7:3: “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?”

I do find it interesting that there is not a scintilla of any mention of homosexuality in the Gospels. That doesn’t mean to give a green light to the issue at hand, but if this were an overriding big deal, you’d think that there would be at least a mention. There is plenty however on divorce — remarriage — adultery but look how easily these are dispensed with in this day and age. To use the Roman Catholic definition of sin, why is it that these are often viewed as almost venial and homosexuality has always been seen as mortal (death to the soul)?

Pastor Speckhard, in your response to my posting, you said, “What if homosexuality really is contrary to God's will, as the near-universal witness of Christendom would say?” Was it not that the “near-universal witness of Christendom” once sanctioned slavery, women as chattel and so forth? Can there not possibly be an evolution of thought applying modern scholarship to prickly issues.
                        
Pastor Preus countered my observation that the Bible is seen as an obstacle. Those who suffered under slavery could say that the Bible was an obstacle because the Christian Church for centuries was slow on the take to say that slavery is incompatible; even the Jim Crow laws since the Civil War had the blessing of many church bodies and now new Jim Crow laws are itching to be enforced by those who want to curtail any rights to LBGTQ+ people. (By the way, I am not a big fan of this alphabet soup, but I guess it is an accepted acronym by most nowadays.) The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, many of whom are clamoring at the courtroom doors to say that their profound religious beliefs are being compromised to serve those same sex couples who want to get married. (Many of these frivolous suits are from those who have not even been asked to supply services to them, but simply to start something to make sure that LBGTQ+ rights be curtailed in every which direction.) These same folks, have they applied these same profound religious beliefs to those couples that are knowingly cohabitating?

Still under the aegis of the Church, there are the haters of anything relating to homosexuality. Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, Brian Fischer and their ilk, Roy Moore wishes that there was still the punishment that goes with the crime that Gay people commit. There are some who even think that capital punishment should be imposed. Chick-fil-A, well-known for its anti-Gay stance, recently came out and said that it would no longer espouse anti-Gay rhetoric and the haters came out of the woodwork to attack the fast food service (after years of praising its virtuous stance). I would think that the concern should be more of the sandwich’s caloric intake with its waffle fries.

I appreciate Matt Anderson’s input in the discussion although I certainly have not agreed with everything he has said over the years. I feel that Pastor Speckhard’s take on conversion therapy needed to be challenged head-on and Matt Anderson did that quite ably and far better than I could ever put down on paper. So many families have been destroyed when a member has been subjected to this bogus therapy. Even if there was a “happy marriage with three beaming children,” it is a chimera. Such a person could certainly have bisexual leanings and thus be able to function in a marriage but at great risk. Ed Smart whose daughter was infamously kidnapped years ago in Utah but thankfully found recently came out as Gay. He had been hiding this side of himself all his life and it was doubly hard on him because of Mormon theology in which one could only get into heaven through a celestial marriage. He destroyed his family all over again. I myself could tell you stories of acquaintances of mine over the years who have went the self-denial route only to have all these stories end very badly.

The Church likes to call LBGTQ+ folks “intrinsically disordered.” I don’t even know what that means and neither does 99% of anyone else. Psychology rarely uses the term and besides that, it is far more of a biological phenomena (cells, microorganisms, etc.) than a psychological one. To further add insult to injury, many in the Church call Gay sex intrinsically disordered while non-spousal sex is only disordered.

I do not know enough about transgenderism to add to this conversation, but I do think that more study needs to be done to help us understand it better. To me there is however quite a demarcation between the physical body and the mind. The body is merely a shell in which the mind is encased. Also, it is far more than a male who might be what one would call a sissy or a female, a tomboy. There is a real condition called gender dysphoria. Again, what should be considered for those people who are greatly troubled by the gender that their body betrays. Unfortunately there has been a hyped-up gender transfer with a Kardashian flavor with Bruce/Caitlin Jenner with his/her exhibitionistic proclivities. This has made transgenderism look almost superficial.

Again, I’ve gone all over the board with these thoughts. As I had mentioned before I am not a writer.

Happy Thanksgiving.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Can Someone Wrong about a Teaching Still Be Christian?
« Reply #164 on: November 27, 2019, 06:11:45 PM »
perhaps unusual but morally and biologically neutral, like having red hair,

Pick another biological marker.  Having two brothers with red hair, I have heard the various theories of why through the course of world history "red" was viewed as "bad."  Just because, well, biology be darned, those redheads were different, weird, and frankly heretical.  So this:  45,000 women were killed between the years 1483 and 1784 for witchcraft. All of them had red hair. Why? Well redheaded women were believed to be practitioners of dark magic (for no other reason than their appearance) and would be “hunted” and burned at the stake in front of discriminating audiences.

Although not on point to the discussion, it does make the point that biology was destiny for redheads for a long time.

Dave Benke
The real question is why so many red heads turned to the dark arts? Come to think of it, I’ve never seen your brother and Lord Voldemort at the same time. Gives a person to think....