The problem with “being gay”

Rick Reilly

Rick Reilly wrote an impassioned article on ESPN.com featuring the hero, Brett Major, and the villain, Nebraska football coach, Ron Brown. Coach Brown recently spoke out against an Omaha anti-discrimination law that prohibits employers from firing someone for being gay. Brett Major professes faith in Christ and also claims to be gay. The two are connected because Major says he came to faith while listening to Brown share the gospel.

I have no idea what the law was about. I don’t know Ron Brown and I don’t know Brett Major. But I do think it’s important to address the problem with “being gay.”

Brett’s parents gave the following statement about the situation,

“As much as Ron may think otherwise, gays do not choose to be gay,” Gays can be raised in the ‘perfect’ family environment with parents active and nurturing, raised in the church to become lovers of the scripture. They are Christians — Brett is such an example.”

I don’t expect much disagreement with what I believe the Majors mean when they say “be gay.” They are referring to sexual impulses people of like gender have toward one another. To describe someone as “being gay” people mean the person is sexually attracted to people within their gender. But I have a question; how many impulses must a person have to be categorized as “being gay?” Is it ten? Thirty? If someone has a passing thought did they just become gay? If a mother of two is caught off guard with a fanciful thought about another woman did she just change orientations?  Or do they have to be consistent over a long period of time? Does a month of curiosity as a fourteen-year-old that was followed by fourteen years of heterosexual attraction mean the person is bisexual? What if a self-professed gay man is drawn to a female; did he just change into a heterosexual? Where’s the line? Who defines it? What is “being gay?”

Consider these reports:

The homosexual newspaper The Washington Blade, citing a 1998 study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, reported that “the study’s data confirmed previous scientific observations that most women who have sex with women also have had sex with men.”[source] The study added that “sex with men in the prior year was common, as were sexual practices between female partners that possibly could transmit HPV.”[source]

A five-year study by the CDC of 3,492 homosexuals aged fifteen to twenty-two found that one in six also had sex with women. Of those having sex with women, one-quarter “said they recently had unprotected sex with both men and women.” Nearly 7 percent of the men in the study were HIV positive. [source]

Are they gay? Are they straight? Were they gay on Friday, but then straight on Saturday? Actually, they’re neither. These are humans engaging in perverted sexual behavior, nothing more, nothing less. Just like promiscuous frat boys, they are seeking selfish sexual satisfaction and aren’t concerned with who satisfies their urge.

I absolutely reject the notion that a person can “be gay.” A person can engage in homosexual activity and a person might have homosexual urges, but to categorize someone based on their sexual attractions is unrealistic, inconsistent, and misses the point. The point of this whole issue is healthy sexual behavior, not this mythical idea of sexual orientation.

Before moving forward, something must be said about the statement, “gays do not choose to be gay.” Properly stated it should read, “people do not choose to have homosexual urges.” Said that way, I have no disagreement. However, what the proponents mean by this type of argument is “people are incapable of controlling their sexual urges. In fact, they are so strong they are the single defining characteristic of their humanity and absolutely must be acted upon.” This is simply not true, and does disservice to an individual’s dignity.

Ellen DeGeneres has value and dignity because she is human, not because she chooses to participate in sexual behavior with other women. Neil Patrick Harris has value and dignity because he is human, not because he acts upon his sexual urges for other men. Brad and Angelina have value because they are human, not because they are into each other. There is so much more to these four people than their moments of sexual fulfillment. However, many who claim to “be gay” are consistently reduced to nothing more than the sum of their impulses. Often they do the reducing.

Brett Major is doing the same thing, “I know God doesn’t make a mistake. He didn’t put me on this earth to be banished to hell.”

First of all, no one is “banished to hell” for being anything: gay, straight, thief, or saint. A person’s eternal destination is based upon their belief or disbelief in Jesus Christ. If someone rejects Christ they won’t be forced to spend eternity with him, God gives them exactly what they desire – eternal separation in Hell. If someone believes in the life and work of Jesus, God gives them what they desire – eternal relationship in Heaven. As Reilly asked, with dangerous sarcasm, “What is he going to do with Jesus?” If someone chooses, like Major, to let his sexual impulses define him more than his spiritual condition one must question the sincerity of his professed belief.

Major bases his identity on his sexual attraction, claiming God made him that way. Did he? Did God make him that way? Let’s see what current research says.

“Despite much research there is no proven explanation of how sexual orientation is determined. However, many scientists share the view that for most people sexual orientation is shaped during the first few years of life through complex interactions of genetic, biological, psychological and social factors.Australian Psychological Society

Back in the states, the APA says,

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation. –American Psychological Association

There is zero evidence of genetic or biological ties to homosexual behavior. Even if there were, do we apply this reasoning consistently? Mr. Major believes his behavior has to be accepted because he is genetically hardwired for it. I wrote about this reasoning in the Jerry Sandusky incident at Penn State. What about the sociopath? Weren’t they genetically predisposed? The child abuser? The alcoholic? How come “being gay” permits a person freedom from moral constraints?

This is where people will accuse me of bigotry, hate speech, or unfairly imposing my personal morality on others. Rick Reilly said as much about Ron Brown,

Apparently, he can spew whatever bigoted, hateful, un-Christian message he wants, without risk of losing his job.

No, Ron Brown shouldn’t be fired. He should quit. He works for a school that welcomes homosexuals as equals. Which means he’s being paid by people who don’t share his moral values. He’s living a lie. He should retire from football and campaign full-time for our right to fire each other purely for being gay.

I don’t have gay friends. I do have friends who say they have homosexual urges, and I have acquaintances who act upon those urges. I know people who have felt and acted upon even more unnatural urges than those, but I don’t classify them by their urges or their actions. However, if given the opportunity I would address the error in their current or potential behavior. Just the same way I encourage people to avoid premarital heterosexual behavior or adultery. It’s all selfish sexual satisfaction and it’s destructive. (For a great report of CDC and medical studies about the profoundly unhealthy consequences of homosexual behavior read here) It’s a perversion of healthy sexuality. Healthy sexuality only happens within the marriage of one man to one woman until death separates them.

The problem with “being gay” is no one is actually gay. We all have sexual impulses that must be controlled, and those impulses do not define us. We cannot continue to allow people to dehumanize themselves to purely sexual beings.

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26 comments

  1. The problem is that progress in this issue is connected to progressive (although not consecutive) agreements on several foundational assumptions. Are we created by a good and loving God? Is “good” and “loving” based on our definition or his? Can we trust the authority through which he has been revealed? Has this One revealed what “healthy” sexual behavior is? What image of this God have his followers reflected to the on-looking world?

    Is there more to this issue than defining what “gay” is? Love is an Orientation is a deeply affecting book that “seeks to elevate the conversation.” Thank you for this perspective. There are voices (like Rick Reilly) that incite, confuse and pander. You have done none of these. Thanks for responsibly communicating one better way to see this issue.

    1. That’s all very true, which is one of the reasons I found Major’s claim to devout faith so ironic. As an authentic believer in Christ, the answer to each of the questions you posed would be yes. Except the last one, which would be, broken, lacking commitment, unforgiving, and unpredictable. Thanks for chiming in.

  2. Ryan,
    I think your major points are sound and well-reasoned. I’d like to raise a couple of concerns on some tangential issues, however.

    1. “Gender” used to be, and still properly is, a linguistic term pertaining to certain words in certain languages, where those words carry an association (whether real or arbitrary) to a sex. “Gender” does not refer to human sex or body parts—as do the words “male”, and “female”. Instead, it refers to words such as Hund (German for “hound” or “dog”). In German, this word is used with the masculine article “der” (der Hund–the dog) , the article itself having a masculine gender and the noun (Hund) having been arbitrarily assigned a masculine gender, even though roughly 50% of hounds are female. The article has no “sex”, as it is not an animal, but it has “gender”, as it is a word. (English has no such gender. The closest we come to this is when we refer to a ship as a “she”.)
    People, therefore, do not have gender, but they each have a sex. This misunderstanding is one of the latest degradations along the slippery slope from Standard English to “American”, such as with the current noun “hate”–which was properly “hatred” when I was a child.
    2. As to this sentence: “If someone rejects Christ they won’t be forced to spend eternity with him, God gives them exactly what they desire – eternal separation in Hell. ”
    If you will look into the matter, you will find that the word “Hell” does not belong in the Bible whatsoever as it is neither a transliteration nor a legitimate translation of any Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic word found therein. The original word most often mistranslated as “Hell” is gehenna, which is on its face, a reference to a literal valley immediately outside the walls of Jerusalem. This was apparently used as a figurative reference to the Lake of Fire, which was “made for Satan and his angels”. Only of those angels does it say that their punishing/torment was to be eternal. Of humans who are tossed therein, no such thing is said. In fact, there are places that refer to humans being “destroyed” therein, which is considerably different from being eternally punished therein.

    I mention this because of the very reasonable objection made by many nonbelievers who cannot “do the math” that a few years of bad behavior on earth could justly equate to an eternity of conscious punishment at the hands of a loving God. They have a very good point on this, and sadly, most Christians don’t study their own book enough to figure out that this “eternal torment” idea is erroneous. Humans are destroyed in that fire—consumed, and there they cease to exist. Indeed, God is said to be the sustainer of life in the afterlife, and the tree of life is in the Holy City. By what agency, therefore, could any human soul have eternal life in the Lake of Fire, which is, by definition, separate from God? God annihilates them there, which is quite a merciful end for those who have not sought to enjoy his company for eternity.

    Further, you state that God, in sending people to “Hell” “gives them exactly what they desire”. This is exactly false as no person, when asked, would opt for eternal torture. I believe you are reaching for a way to make God out to be the “good guy” here, which is very hard to do with an eternal torture for a temporary crime. The truth serves this end much better: God dispatches the unfaithful, annihilating them completely.

    I apologize for taking the quick route on this post and neglecting to cite references for my points. If you are interested in them, email me and I’ll tell you.
    Jack

    1. Jack, thanks for taking the time to comment. 1) Thanks for the linguistic lesson, sincerely. It is interesting how words are derived and how their definitions fluctuate over time. I’ll certainly keep the gender / sex distinction in mind for future writings. 2) I’ll tell you what, you’ve got me thinking. I’ve not believed blindly, but I’ve also not questioned thoroughly. This is a doctrine I’ve yet to spend a great deal of time on. I did a quick glance at a bunch of scriptures pertaining to the after death judgement and was surprised to see phrases that were less clear than I expected. There’s no doubt about punishment for the unbeliever, but it’s specifics require a further look. I’m curious for your take on Matthew 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” And I’m also curious to know your understanding of Luke 16:19-31. I’m going to do a bit more digging myself. To your last reference, I didn’t say people desire eternal torture. I said people desire separation from God. Whether it’s eternal misery or instant abomination, it’s separation from God either way. I did include the qualifier “in Hell,” but the thrust of the point people will ultimately get in eternity what they sought on Earth.

      I enjoy your input, please don’t be a stranger.

      1. Very interesting comments, Jack. I’ll look forward to future comments from both you and Ryan!

      2. ====I did a quick glance at a bunch of scriptures pertaining to the after death judgement and was surprised to see phrases that were less clear than I expected. ====

        That is EXACTLY what I experienced when I first looked into this a few years ago.

        ====I’m curious for your take on Matthew 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”====

        Let’s look at a bit more of the context:

        Matthew 25:33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: …46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

        Note that this was not just any old fire; it was the one that had been prepared for “the devil and his angels”. For the righteous, however, they would be ushered to a place that had been “prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. So we have a place specially prepared for “the devil and his angels” and we have a place prepared for the righteous. Note that this narrative mentions NO place specifically prepared for unrighteous humans. Nor does any other passage that I’ve ever found. Rather, the unrighteous humans are tossed into Satan’s place….which is totally fitting since they were being judged over their answer to the question of whose world it was.

        God created, but Satan interloped and called all men to worship him as the creator. Indeed, at the time of Jesus’ first visit, he said at least three times that Satan was “the ruler of this world”. See John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11. Satan had effectively won over the world by his godlessness, but Jesus had come to reclaim it for its rightful owner. This is similar to the point you made about people’s CHOICES. It wasn’t that anybody was polled as to whether they’d like to suffer forever, or be annihilated, but their choice as to who to worship as the king of creation was being honored when they were assigned to Satan’s eternal destination.

        How could Satan and his angels continue to live in the Lake of Fire “forever and ever”? It’s because angels are eternal spirits. Humans, however, are not. Those who would be rewarded with Heaven would have to have God’s eternal sustenance to keep them going. Hence, the Tree of Life in the Holy City, which is a sign of immorality. (Revelation But we don’t have to count on the figurative sign of the Tree of Life; we have it in much clearer language from Paul:

        1 Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

        You could not have eternal life without having been raised “incorruptible” and without having “put on immortality”. No such promise was made for the unrighteous, however—not in any passage anywhere. So if the righteous had to have this special transformation in order to enjoy eternal life, then what would happen to the unrighteous who were not so transformed? Naturally, they would perish.

        And this is called “the second death”. First the body dies, and then the spirit. Here it is:

        Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

        Why would he call it “the second death” if it was REALLY an eternal LIFE of punishment? The word “death” is exceedingly plain to us with regard to the physical body. Yet so many Christians get utterly ethereal about the same word when applied to the spirit.

        ====And I’m also curious to know your understanding of Luke 16:19-31. ====

        The parable of “The Rich Man and Lazarus” I believe is an accurate depiction of what was happening, and not some ethereal story in which most of the elements should be dismissed as unimportant. But here’s the thing: this was not a story about the Lake of Fire; it was a story about Hades. (Sheol in the Hebrew.) There were two sections in particular; one for the righteous (Abraham’s Bosom) and one for the unrighteous (“torments”). These folks were all awaiting the Judgment/Resurrection, where they ALL would be raised and some would go to eternal life while others would go to the Lake of Fire. And we don’t have to wonder about this, for we are told plainly here:

        Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[d] 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

        So Death and Hades were no longer after this, yet Hades is where the story had taken place. This story, therefore, MUST be of a time before the Judgment/Resurrection. Hades was never taught to be an eternal place. Indeed, its destruction had been long awaited:

        Revelation 6:9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

        The dead were most certainly aware of what was to come. The unrighteous among them dreaded it, and the righteous anxiously anticipated it. Hades was only temporary and everybody knew it. Hades, by the way, was also known to the Greeks—in fact, it is THEIR word and is the same in their mythologies. This makes many Christians uncomfortable, but what it shows is that these facts were NOT obscure, but were well known among mankind. They are obscure to THIS generation, however, for a number of reasons that I will not venture to mention at this time.

    2. Jack, I’ve got a couple more passages for you to consider.

      1) 9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” – Revelation 14:9-11, specifically vs. 11.

      2) and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rev. 20:10

      3) “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ – Mark 9:42-48 (Hell is Gehenna in this passage, but the words “unquenchable” in 43 and the imagery in 48 seem pretty straight forward)

  3. Ryan,

    You asked about: Revelation 14: 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.

    First of all, let me start by suggesting that we probably do NOT want a view of this passage that contradicts what we can establish from OTHER passages in the Bible. When we consider this passage outside of the greater context of ALL passages on this subject, it might well be taken to suggest an eternal torturing, but another view is altogether plausible. On the question of them having no “rest”, we might naturally think, “Aha! They’re conscious day and night in their agony.” Yes, but how do we view it in light of these passages that had LONG been on the record?:

    Psalm 95:11 “Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”
    Hebrews 3:11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”
    Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “ AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.
    Hebrews 4:5 and again in this passage, “ THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.”
    Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

    With all these passage in view, we understand that the “rest” being spoken of was the reward of eternal life. Those cast into the Lake of Fire would have no such “rest”. Had we not heard a billion times in our lives that man’s torment “in Hell” is everlasting, this would be even easier for us to see.

    As to “the smoke of their torment” going up “forever and ever”, this doesn’t have to be taken to mean that the tormenting that was causing that smoke was going to go up forever and ever. Indeed, such a view suggests physical items being burned in a fire and producing smoke. there is nothing in your house or mine, however, than will smoke “forever and ever” if tossed into a fire. So we can tell that something figurative is in play here. Note this prophecy from Isaiah regarding the judgment that would come upon Jerusalem at about 70AD:

    Isaiah 34: 8 For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance,
    The year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
    9 Its streams shall be turned into pitch,
    And its dust into brimstone;
    Its land shall become burning pitch.
    10 It shall not be quenched night or day;
    Its smoke shall ascend forever.
    From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
    No one shall pass through it forever and ever.

    We can visit Jerusalem today, but we’ll find no literal smoke “ascending forever”. That does not disprove the passage, however. Rather, it suggests quite strongly that God intended it in a figurative sense, as in “the smoke from its destruction will be forever before me, and shall never be forgotten.”

    Here it is again, this time in the Revelation:

    Revelation 19:After these things I heard[a] a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord[b] our God! 2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” 3 Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!

    Again, we can visit Jerusalem today and we find no such smoke there. So this must simply have been a figurative expression from God. Seeing that he does express himself thus from time to time, we have no basis to insist that the “smoke of their torment”, therefore, is literal smoke from an ongoing torture.

    You asked about this:
    ====and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rev. 20:10====

    This one’s easier, for the passage itself tells us WHO “will be tormented day and night forever and ever”. It was “the devil” and “the beast” and “the false prophet”. No one else is mentioned here. So we dare not apply it to anyone else without being specifically told. Now, in other passages, we ARE specifically told that this Lake of Fire was not only for “the devil”, but also for “his angels”, so that significantly increases the number of inhabitants beyond just the three mentioned here. Yet in no place are we specifically told that HUMANS will be actively tormented forever.

    And let me mention at this point that a careful reading of such passages shows that the punishMENT was eternal—that is, it was irreversible, with no chance for reprieve. The punishING, however, is in no place said to be eternal.

    Finally, you asked about this:

    ====“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ – Mark 9:42-48 (Hell is Gehenna in this passage, but the words “unquenchable” in 43 and the imagery in 48 seem pretty straight forward)====

    Noting again that the word “Hell” does not belong here, we are forced to deal with the original word, GEHENNA. And at this, we do well to note that it was almost undoubtedly a reference to a ever-smoldering trash heap in a valley immediately outside the walls of Jerusalem. But here is where the literal meaning of it begins to lose relevance. Indeed, what good would it do for God to toss all the bad guys’ spirits into a trash heap outside of Jerusalem? It is VERY likely, therefore, that this was but an IMAGE, for instructive purposes, of the nature and intent of the Lake of Fire. That is, it was a reprehensible place where the “trash” was to be thrown and disposed of. Indeed, if you visit the literal Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Gehenna) today, you will not find trash still burning from 2000 years ago. No, that would have all burned away by now. Only if trash were being CONTINUALLY added to such a fire would it remain eternal.

    But again, there is little reason to interpret this as a literal fire. Indeed, the Lake of Fire is explained well enough for us that there is little serious reason to believe it exists outside Jerusalem’s walls.

    Now, having said all that, the fires of the Lake of Fire are indeed eternal. There is no dispute about that—not from any scriptural basis, at least. But this says nothing of what is tossed INTO that fire. Having considered the entire body of evidence I could discern from the scriptures, I’m forced to conclude that angels tossed therein remain living spirits eternally, suffering without cessation, but human spirits are indeed annihilated in that “fire”—whatever the true nature of it is.

    I note that this study would be a lot easier if the Bible were indeed a complete record of everything that had been prophesied and taught. Many like to believe that it is, but an investigation of the matter shows that such a belief is utterly unfounded and is contradictory to a great number of evidences to the contrary. We simply are not told everything—-not even enough to explain many of the topics the Bible DOES address.

    Whatever the reason for this, this is indeed the state of things—as bitter a pill as that may be for us to swallow. Modern teachings on the state of the dead are about 90% tradition and 10% Bible. The Bible is USED to support the traditions, but hardly anybody is trying to understand these issues SOLELY from the Bible and independently of whatever traditions are in play. THAT is a different endeavor altogether, and has little place in modern churches, unfortunately.

    Through such study, I have overturned so many of my former beliefs that I have to chalk up the traditions in which I was raised (as well as those I later took part in on my own volition) as being predominately erroneous and unconcerned with the actual facts! It used to rock my world to find out I had been wrong about something, but now it doesn’t surprise me in the least. Indeed, I welcome it, for every piece of the puzzle that gets put into its rightful place puts me one step closer to understanding these things that I really want to understand. I only wish that all believers had a healthy curiosity about the actual FACTS of things. Apparently, my paradigm in regard to this is quite an unpopular one. It is certainly much harder to deal with than the paradigm that assumes that I’ve already got a handle on the stuff that’s REALLY important, and that anything else that might come up can be put off until later!

    You might find some of these articles helpful. This is a work in progress: http://www.bibleinvestigation.com

    1. This is very interesting and I’m anxious to hear Ryan’s response. Meanwhile, Jack, what do you do with this? Jude 1:7

      7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

      1. Pat,
        You asked about:

        ====Jude 1:7 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.====

        The fire itself (if it is even a literal fire, which it probably is not) is indeed eternal. No passage in the Bible even hints otherwise. Consider for a moment that a person might go to Arlington Cemetery, to JFK’s “eternal flame” and drop a tissue into it. The tissue would burn in the eternal flame, but only until it was consumed. Nothing in such a scenario would argue against the eternal duration of the flame. Similarly, if unrighteous humans are consumed/annihilated in the Lake of Fire, that fact does nothing to negate the eternal existence of that Lake.

        The reason the Lake of Fire is eternal is likely two-fold.
        1) It remains a perpetual witness against the evils that Satan espoused—not only for humans, but also for angels. Indeed, in the passage you cite (and starting in the verse before), the unfaithful among the exodus-ed Hebrews, the angels who had sinned, and the likes of Sodom and Gomorrah are all “set forth as an example”.
        2) Satan and his angels are themselves eternal beings; their invasion of the earth (which is the rightful realm of mankind and the place for which these unruly angels left their “proper domains”) was such an affront to God as to merit eternal torment. Thus, the necessity of an eternal PLACE of punishment.

        So again, in Jude’s quote, “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire”, we must be careful not to rearrange its words thus in our understanding of it: “suffering eternally the vengeance of fire”. Such a rendering would constitute the only passage in the Bible that would necessarily mean that humans in the fire were to suffer endlessly. But that is neither a proper rendering here, nor a proper interpretation of the original.

    2. Ryan,
      I forgot to mention in all this yet another model in which the “smoke” could “rise forever and ever”. If the Lake of Fire was to be in constant use, generation after generation, for the dispatching of unrighteous humans, then the “smoke” from that could indeed rise continually. A common trash fire will continue to smoke as long as trash is continually added.

      So this could well be the intent of the “forever” smoke comments in the Bible. Most tend to view the Lake of Fire as an event to occur at “the end of the world”, but I think I can soundly refute that idea. Instead, it was to co-exist with continual generations of humans, the spirits of the unrighteous among them being cast into it upon death.

  4. Is there such a thing as eternal punishment for a human or only angels, in your opinion? Are you saying you believe humans who are not granted eternal life (non-believers) are annihilated? Just trying to clarify and make sure I understand what you are saying.

    1. Pat, I’m sorry I haven’t been crystal clear on that already. Let’s take it one line at a time.

      =====Is there such a thing as eternal punishment for a human or only angels, in your opinion?====

      Let me first distinguish between “eternal punishMENT”, which is what was repeatedly promised for the unrighteous, and “eternal punishING (or torture)”, which is the idea that is so popular today. The latter is NOWHERE mentioned in the Bible for humans, but IS mentioned for evil angels.

      So, to be super clear, unrighteous humans are annihilated in the Lake of Fire, which constitutes an “eternal punishMENT” in that its effects are endless and irreversible. And evil angels are also tossed into that same Lake of Fire, but they do not perish in it. Rather, being immortal beings, they suffer in it endlessly. I suppose you could call this my “opinion”, but if I were to try to prove otherwise from the Bible, I know of no responsible way to do so.

      ====Are you saying you believe humans who are not granted eternal life (non-believers) are annihilated?====

      Yes, but I do not limit the list of non-recipients of eternal life to “non-believers”. I refer to this:

      Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

      The “unbelieving” are certainly on the manifest for the Lake of Fire, but they are not the only ones. This is why the BELIEVERS were constantly being warned by the apostles to avoid sin, because their belief alone did not qualify them for eternal life. (Yes, I know this is a wildly controversial and upsetting statement to many believers today, but passage after passage makes such warnings and I know of no responsible and honest way to disregard those passages when formulating an understanding of the scriptures.)

      Indeed, it was not to those who merely “believed” that eternal life was promised, but to those who would “overcome”:

      Revelation 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’

      Revelation 2:11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’

      Revelation 2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

      Revelation 2:26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—

      Revelation 3:5 He who overcomesshall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

      Revelation 3:12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

      Revelation 3:21 To him who overcomesI will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

      Revelation 21:7 He who overcomesshall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

      This particular teaching is all but lost to most churches today; they believe that “belief” is enough, and they do not expect to be held accountable by God if they do not “overcome” the temptations of the world. King James helped some with this by insisting that the word “faith” be kept in the KJV (along with other ecclesiastical words already in popular use—including “hell”). Otherwise, the Greek word PISTEUO would have been responsibly translated as the active “to rely upon” rather than the considerably-weaker and passive “to believe in”. This contemporary idea that mere mental assent would satisfy God’s qualifications for eternal life is certainly unique to the scriptures and I wouldn’t know how to prove it responsibly and honestly therefrom.

      But back to the main point…

      It certainly COULD be true that unrighteous humans are tortured forever and ever, but I know of no place in the Bible that ACTUALLY says so. And since there are not just humans, but also angels involved in this Lake of Fire business, then it’s easy to see where we might easily misunderstand something or other if we’re not careful about it.

      All things being equal, however, certain atheists do raise a very compelling objection about a “loving” God assigning eternal torture to people who do not overcome temptation. If God is “just”, as the scriptures say, it is very difficult for us to imagine how such an eternal sentence for a temporary crime could truly be just.

      Yes, many attempt to defer to “mystery” or to the loftiness of God’s wisdom, claiming that it could still somehow be just, even if it is beyond our reach to grasp the justness of it. I have always found such notions disappointing, however, as God seems to speak so matter-of-factly about principles such as truth and justice all throughout the documents in the Bible—as if he expected them to be clearly and plainly understood. To think that is own view of one of these things is beyond our ready understanding is itself a puzzling notion. Indeed, are HUMANS not charged with, among other things, behaving “justly”?:

      Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

      If man is required to “do justly” and man’s mind cannot grasp God’s standard of justice, this would represent a cruelty of God, would it not?

      Since the apostles and prophets are no longer given today, what can we do for such answers but to consult the scriptures carefully and honestly? Should we ASK for more information, there is no one to answer. So must we STUDY—which is the very thing so many are disinterested in doing. Indeed, it seems that many would rather ask someone who does not and (perhaps even cannot) know himself rather than to look into the matter for themselves! And even when they are told “we do not know”, many take it as fact without looking for themselves.

      So yes, I wish there were a passage that says “God annihilates the unrighteous in the Lake of Fire, and there they cease to exist.” But there is none. There is one that calls that Lake of Fire “the second death”….actually there is more than one of these. But that doesn’t seem to be good enough for everyone. So we can reason about immortality, that those going to eternal life had to be specially “clothed” with it and “transformed”, and we can reason that no such clothing or transformation of the unrighteous is ever mentioned. But that is not good enough for everyone, either.

      Sadly, however, even though they demand an explicit passage on annihilation, they are quite willing to believe in an endless torture session, even though they cannot show a single passage that teaches such a thing explicitly for humans. So they carry a double standard, which, while obvious to me, is invisible to them. I don’t know how to help people with that.

      OK, I’m sure I’ve written far more than enough to make my view of the matter clear. (But don’t hesitate to ask if on some point I need to give more information.)

      Jack

  5. So, Ryan and Pat, what do you make of all this about annihilation? Do you find it convincing? Do you have further issues with it? I’m curious to know your take on the conversation so far.
    Jack

    1. Well, Jack, you certainly present a compelling case. And frankly, I don’t know what I think about this issue. I’m confident of this, Hell, be it eternal punishment or eternal punishing, exists and is the destination of those who reject God. I’ve not put anywhere near the amount of thought and study into it that you have and I really have no authentic, reasoned response. I could offer Grudem’s thoughts, or something similar, but it’s simply not a doctrine I’ve contemplated with much effort. I certainly hope you don’t receive this as being dismissive, but I don’t think I’ll dive too deeply now either. There are other areas that have my mind and heart at the moment, but you’ve certainly made me think and I’ll pay more attention when this subject comes up in scripture, from the pulpit, or in conversation. Thanks for sharpening me.

  6. Yes!! I was waiting for Ryan to respond first so if what he said sounds intelligent I can then say, “ditto.” And, since what he said sounds intelligent, so I say, “ditto.” Ha On a serious note, Jack, you have definitely given me food for thought as well and I will be paying better attention as I continue to study the word. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Ryan,
    I wonder if I could make some gentle challenges to your thinking here. We do not know each other, yet I can tell from your posts that you are generally concerned with righting wrongs and with telling the truth. I will write, therefore, as if we were friends and partners in the pursuit of truth. Please pardon me if I seem presumptuous.

    My disappointment in your reply generally centers around the missed opportunity to nail down a point of doctrine. Here’s what I mean. We have looked at this particular issue from multiple angles, noting certain problems with “orthodox” theology along the way, showing those problems in the light of sound scriptural support to the contrary. We have noted that in NO PLACE does the Bible explicitly teach eternal torture for ungodly HUMANS.

    Now, this is not some obscure doctrine. This is no matter of whether the Last Supper was on Wednesday or Thursday—the question of which hardly ever comes to anyone’s mind. No, this is an issue that is probably mentioned at least once in the average assembly as congregants are urged to save themselves from eternal agony. And I’m sure it is central to Bible studies with potential converts as well.

    So we have here the opportunity to right ourselves from teaching a thing that is mere assumption, and for which contrary evidence exists in the scriptures. How could one determine, therefore, that now is not the time to nail this down? And if it CANNOT be nailed down, now troubling ought THAT to be?

    You wrote: “…it’s simply not a doctrine I’ve contemplated with much effort.” OK, but you are already TEACHING on this subject, are you not…and writing as if it is so? Ought one not avoid putting the cart before the horse? Ought we not become expert on a subject before teaching it and writing about it and speaking about it as if it is established fact? Is this not what it means to honor TRUTH? I’m not getting acrimonious here with charges of “false teacher!”; I’m just pointing out what should be the prime directive of ANY teacher: If you can’t confirm it’s true, you ought not be teaching it. Do we not all make this same charge against those who teach things that we think are unfounded? It applies to all, therefore, and even to US.

    There’s a very troubling trait in human nature to dismiss what is inconvenient—whether to our schedules or to our existing beliefs or to the societies to which we voluntarily belong. I know that you don’t view your response as dismissive, for you say, “There are other areas that have my mind and heart at the moment, but I don’t think I’ll dive too deeply now either.” The problem with this is that it is like having a tire blow out while you’re driving. Reason compels you to pull over because you can’t go any further without doing further damage, but you reason with yourself that you don’t have time to deal with it right now—that other things are more important.

    So here are the challenges that arise when putting a thing off. Now that you are duly uncertain as to the topic of eternal torture, what will you say, think, and do every time you hear it mentioned as unassailable fact? Will you “let it slide”? Will you mention that there may be good reason to doubt the eternal torture view? Will you correct it outright? The first, of course, will be the easiest. But is that the BEST course of action?

    You say, “Thanks for sharpening me”, but have I REALLY sharpened you? Have you really whittled down any of your beliefs or your understanding to a sharp point? Perhaps not as much as you think. For example, I asserted that the word “Hell” even appears in the Bible, since it is no transliteration or proper translation of any Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic word appearing therein. You did not challenge this assertion, and offered no evidence to the contrary, and yet in your most recent response to me, you wrote: “I’m confident of this, Hell, be it eternal punishment or eternal punishing, exists and is the destination of those who reject God. ” By your continued use of the word, I can see that I haven’t changed your thinking on this most granular point of fact. Have I really “sharpened” you on the whole, then, when I have failed to change your thinking on even the most obvious and manageable of points? Indeed, even on the initial discussion of gender/sex, you say that you’ll keep it in mind for future writings. OK, that’s a start, but it’s certainly different from how *I* think about such things. If it were *me*, I’d go back and edit my original article, making the corrections retroactively. And why? Because truth is always important–even in the “small” matters.

    I understand that you are busy. I hear you when you say, “There are other areas that have my mind and heart at the moment…” What I wonder, though, is just what it takes to have a “stop the presses!” moment. What does it take to get the undivided attention of the teacher and to get him to grasp the full significance of such an error? Indeed, what better does the teacher have to do but to get it right?

    I read Grudem on the subject last night and was quite disappointed in all the hand waving he does, glossing over obvious difficulties as if they were not there. For instance, he makes NO distinction between “Hell” and Hades. None. He wants to take accounts of Hades and read “hell” into them and vice versa….as if they are unquestionably the same. This is absurd, of course, for in the END of the story, Hades is tossed into the Lake of Fire. How could they possibly be the same? And I note that he does the same rough-shod work equating Satan and the evil angels with demons…as if the Bible writers couldn’t possibly have had different beings in mind when they used different words to describe them. Indeed, this is the kind of sloppiness that is required to make a tidy “systematic theology” in some cases where the natural contents of the Bible alone do sometimes make things far more messy than is convenient to the casual student. Grudem is adamant that the Bible contains “everything we need to know”, but this is simply not true. No matter how many times you read it, it’s not going to tell you how many elders a congregation may or ought to have, how many cups to use in the communion, or whether the women (who were not to speak in the assembly) may speak at “Sunday School”. This is a whole “nother” can of worms, and I don’t mean to get into it here, except to show that Grudem’s work is habitually sloppy on certain points, showing that he is more concerned with making a defense of a certain tradition than he is in weighing ALL the evidence in the scriptures.

    The difficulty that arises when insisting on the truth on such a matter as our present discussion addresses is that very FEW are willing to walk down that investigative road. It takes courage, therefore, to make this venture. If you travel it, you will find that some will be disinterested altogether. Still others will say, “you think too much” (which is a “thought stopper” technique used in politics, business, and religion.). Still others will say things like, “One can only marvel at the arrogance of one who believes that he has an almost unique understanding of a biblical theme that has eluded the greatest minds of Christian history.” (From a negative review of the book “Afterlife” by annihilationist author, LaGard Smith: http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/799-lagard-smiths-new-book-after-life

    Never mind the fact that you are showing them SCRIPTURE that tends to contradict their erroneous beliefs about scripture! No, they will take it as coming from a mere man, and not from the Bible. Ironically, they have got this backwards in regard to the very tenets they DO believe—things they got from a mere preacher in a mere pulpit, rather than from a careful and honest investigation of the Bible itself. Ours is a hearsay culture and I have never seen a church that provides an exception to this rule. Never.

    So the way I see it, this is a great opportunity to look tradition honestly in the face and find it wanting. I would re-emphasize that in NO PLACE does the Bible teach that ungodly humans will be tortured forever, yet MOST churches teach this without the slightest hesitation over the fact that they must in EVERY case merely ASSUME it from passages that do not say so outright. This does not mean that it’s wrong, of course, but it means that it is DISHONEST to teach a maybe as if it were fact.

    Do we not ALL–regardless of our particular doctrines—make this charge against others as we see them abusing the scriptures to their own agenda? Does it not then count against US when we commit the same malpractice?

    It’s about intellectual honesty, Ryan. Let it never be said that we were willing to lie, exaggerate (which is lying), sandbag (which is lying), or fudge (which is lying) in advancement of the cause of Christ. If the gospel is not conveniently sewn up in every detail, let us not PRETEND it is so. Indeed, many do this arrogantly, as if the lesser people around us will “struggle” if we don’t just smooth over the rough spots of doctrine in order to make it easier for them to understand. But if indeed God has arranged and delivered the Bible as something of a message or instruction book to this present generation, then we charge God with wrongdoing when we gloss over the hard-to-understand parts in an attempt to present it better to our audiences (whom we assume are not as sharp as we). Indeed, whatever we may make of why the Bible is presented as it is, we must all deal (or not) with the untidy points of doctrine that are not explicitly stated therein. It is silly to pretend that it’s all tidy when it obviously isn’t.

    If nothing else, I have presented enough proof to put an end (among honest people) to the teaching of eternal torture altogether. It ought never be taught as a certainty again. Sure, let it be mentioned as a possibility, and let the typical passages be quoted in support of this possibility, but let it nowhere again be stated as fact, for such is irresponsible and dishonest in light of the evidence.

    And that brings us down to the question of just what we are doing when we teach and preach. Are we just keeping the machine running? Are we just keeping “people in the seats”? Are we striving to keep the collection plates filled? Are we striving to protect the traditions, or even the reputation of “the church”?

    Or are we continuing the tradition that was started by God’s prophets who boldly challenged falsehood wherever it was found? Are we the type who will humble ourselves and our “flocks” as did Josiah when he discovered important matters in the Law previously unknown to him?

    Is the most important paradigm “the show must go on”? Or is it “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, wherever it may lead.”
    (continued in next post)

  8. Ryan,
    The remainder of my post above won’t upload for some reason. I get no error message when I click “post comment”. I just get a blank “leave a reply” field, just as I saw before typing anything. I even cut it in half (that is, 1/4 of the total post) and that won’t work, either.
    Jack

  9. (continued)
    Many today presume that God is “leading them” in their pursuit of truth, yet error persists to such a degree as to be undeniable by honest means. Many claim that the Spirit is guiding them, yet among them is undeniable disagreement. Some argue, therefore, that the others are not TRULY being led by the Spirit, else they would have reached the same conclusions by now. Yet these very same people, who also believed they were being so “led” a decade ago, have indeed changed their understandings on at least a FEW points of doctrine (unless they are particularly incorrigible).

    I’ll let others argue as to who is “leading” them, while I continue to study the written words, drawing from them what logic, fact, and sourcing will dictate, and honestly surveying as to whether sound conclusions can be drawn on any certain topic from only the extant evidence. Under the latter paradigm, I have learned so much more than under the former. Indeed, God never once “led” me to investigate the Bible; I had to do that myself. And God never once forced a correction on me, even when I was clearly in the wrong. No, I had to “turn myself in”, admitting my own error and deliberating changing my mind in deference to the newly-discovered facts or logic.

    Sure, you can find all manner of people who will assure you that no such personal reform is truly necessary or worthy of your time. You can even turn for support to folks like Grudem, whose doctrines frequently contradict those of your own camp. But what manner of investigation is this to go shopping for someone who agrees on a matter when the ACTUAL issue comes down to what the words in the BIBLE are? That’s not investigation, but merely argumentation. It is the logical fallacy of “appeal to expertise”, or perhaps “appeal to consensus” or “appeal to popularity” or “appeal to tradition”.

    I know that you know this, and I’m not hammering you on Grudem. I point it out to highlight just how many are so irresponsibly content to leave the particulars of the doctrines they so adamantly and dogmatically teach in the hands of “experts” whose “math” they have never checked. Grudem, as so many others, is wrong on a multitude of points.

    And while I’m on the subject, his church-institution bias is clearly seen in the sections immediately preceding his treatment of the eternal torture question. On his buildup to his discourse “Hell”, he says these things:

    1. “The doctrine of the final judgment provides a motive for righteous living.” (Page 1148)
    2. “The doctrine of final judgment provides a great motive for evangelism.” (Page 1148)

    I thought that it was the love and appreciation of Christ, and even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that was supposed to instill in people the same paradigms that were operating in Jesus’ life. With such a “carrot”, who needs the “stick” of eternal torture to motivate him? Thus do we see that Grudem’s model was missing something of the positive motivation enjoyed in the original ekklesia. I do not mean to suggest that all its members excelled in the paradigms—nor that the sternness and justice of God was never called into view. It was God’s great MERCY, however, that was the highlight of the “good news”, was it not? But Grudem sees negative reinforcement (and the threat of it) to be necessary for the proper motivation of Christians. He does, by the way, fail to show any Bible writer making the same assertions. This lack of support from the texts, however, does not seem to give him pause.

    Many, of course, are utterly ill-equipped to examine such things, for they are not in the regular business of examining ANYTHING. Not only would they not know where to begin, but they will have no idea when they have discovered something important. They are like the man Churchill described:

    ” Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.” [On Stanley Baldwin, as cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), Ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 322 ISBN 1586486381]

    So who will be a champion for what is true, reasonable, and honest? Who will insist on having the time for it? And who has the courage to swim against the tide of public opinion in defense of what is true and reasonable?

    I have learned many things in my years, but none so useful as that which I have learned the hard way—by my own toil and research. I have overturned so many of my previous beliefs that I could not count them up if I tried. Most of it, of course, was arrived at through mere hearsay, but the corrections of it, through actual investigation. So many, however, are general hearsayers, just as I used to be. And while it takes quite some time and devotion to work oneself out of such a paradigm, it most certainly can be done. And most are in between, stuck in the “gap trap” (http://www.jackpelham.com/2011/09/05/the-gap-trap/) —knowing better than SOME of their former beliefs, but not making anywhere near the progress they could be making in their understandings of the world.

    Life is short, Ryan. It’s far better to seize such opportunities when they arise. Sure, we can tell ourselves we’ll get around to it, but the further the current sweeps us downstream, the harder it is ever to return. Frost had a good idea:

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both….
    I kept the first for another day,
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back….

    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    So if not today on this present issue, then when? Will it, unlike sour milk (http://www.jackpelham.com/2011/12/07/sour-milk/“), get better when left for another day? Funny, how we conjecture that God has put one thing “on our heart”, and how we use that to justify putting off something else where nothing less than scripture itself bids us to re-analyze our understanding.

    I do hope you will reconsider your priorities. You have before you an opportunity to do the right thing, which will set you on an even better and more-honest course than before. People cling to so many trivial things as edification from God—the aroma of a certain flower, or a reassuring smile from a friend—and while these things may have some meaning, they can’t hold a candle to the edification that comes from having wrestled with the scriptures and emerged from it with a corrected understanding. The latter is the stuff of which fortified hearts are built, where the former is generally at best, but an exercise in sentiment.

    Has there ever been a greater need for champions of truth than there is now? Indeed, there are a hundred such topics, if not more. So much is in need of reform. One has but to observe that NO church fulfills its own natural expectations for itself—things it assumes should happen in its quest to emulate the original ekklesia. They all bemoan–to one degree or another—the sad state of their members and their low aggregate level of commitment to the state goals of the organization.

    The phenomenon is not without a reason. It is not some ethereal mystery that is beyond solving. It exists exactly because so very, very few have any understanding of their own doctrines at any more than the most superficial of levels. No wonder so many are so wrong about so much—and don’t even realize it.

    Many strive to “carry on”—to be “good troopers” about it all, but who is striving to FIX it? Nothing builds a heart like looking for actual solutions to actual puzzles, mysteries, and problems.

    I cannot imagine Jesus being a casual and passive observer when a wrong or an error is in play. How then, are so few of his followers so content to leave things be when they could fix them but for some honest and determined effort?

    Respectfully yours,

    Jack

  10. OK, I figured it out. It didn’t like my hyperlinks. I coded them as below, but it turns out that all you have to do is to paste them in and it automatically turns them into hyperlinks.
    Jack

  11. I’m going to let you in on a little secret,, yes we are born this way and no we didn’t choice to be this way.. this is the way we were made and the way we live our lives.. No one told you that you were straight, & that you were suppose to marry a women,, you were born to do that. Just like gays, transgenders and lesbians. We were born this way.. We didn’t chose to be like this.. I wish you people that profess to be Christians would remember one things. The one thing that god tells all ” do not judge one another, Yet you be Judged at the gates of heaven”. So I will say it to you like I have told others.. BACK THE HECK OFF AND LET PEOPLE LIVE THEIR LIVES THE WAY THEY SEE FIT AND SHUT THE HECK UP. PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF RELIGION BUTTING INTO EVERY OUNCE OF THEIR LIVES. WE LIVE BY GODS RULE NOT MAN… SO BACK OFF

    1. HI T.S. Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and the courage to comment. I appreciate your candor and willingness to engage in the conversation. I want to start at the end of your comment and work to the beginning. You said we live by “God’s rule, not man,” and I couldn’t agree more. However, this principle is working against your position. The Bible – the written evidence of God’s rule – explicitly denounces homosexual activity. It’s man’s rule that is attempting to undermine with this issue. If we were truly seeking to live by “God’s rule,” the conversation would not be about justifying a Biblically out of bounds behavior but learning who to conform more to his holiness.

      God told us many more things than do not judge one another…” And the verse does not mean what you are implying. We are repeatedly told to redirect people from their sin, judge what is right and wrong, etc. For me to outline the sinfulness of a behavior is using judgement, not being judgmental, there’s a difference. I enter the realm of being judgmental and violating the scripture you referenced when I begin to assume a person’s motives and discredit their entire character. This is not the same as saying stealing is wrong. The “sexual Orientation” myth fuels you frustration here because we’ve allowed individuals to be defined by a sexual attraction. You are more than the sum of your sexual urges, T.S. Don’t let our culture reduce you to nothing more than hormones.

      Finally, I can appreciate your belief that you were born the way you are now but I must point out a couple of things. First, the psychological and medial world disagree with your belief. Now it’s entirely plausible they are both incorrect, it wouldn’t be the first time, but they are searching hard to determine an inherent cause for sexual preference and they are coming up empty.Second, even if you were born with those attractions it doesn’t justify your acting on them. I was a very, very violent child, from as long as I can remember. As a mature human it would be ridiculous to act out in violence and claim “born this way” to justify my behavior. We simply do not accept this line of reasoning in other areas of life.

      I don’t expect to be change your heart or mind with a few blog comments. Nor would I expect you to turn your back on your friends and support network due to a blog article. I can appreciate the many layers one would have to work through in an effort to reconsider something like this. I hope you will continue to read, think, and add your voice to the discussion. You’re always welcome here.

      1. I am replying back to you. If you read the bible the way it was written then you would understand it is a story of things that happened in that time period.. yes the heavenly father spoke and peter, paul, john and the others wrote their stories about what they heard and understood.. There isn’t a thing not a blessed thing in the and not one word that say’s HOMOSEXUAL it isn’t written in the bible no where does it appear.. and yes Medical doctors are wrong all the time. just because YOU can’t understand that people are born this way doesn’t mean that it dosn’t Exist. And yes what you and others in the general Practice of religion are doing is judging others for their beliefs.. just because it don’t conform to your beliefs.. That is why this country was founded on. you and everyone else in this world put your pants on just like everyone else. Leave people alone and let them live their lives.. know one is stepping in on your joyous life. let us have ours. we aren’t coming into your home and telling you not to have sex with your wives or to sin and have an affair.. so leave us alone and butt the heck out of our lives. if you want to live your life the way you see fit let others live their lives the way they see fit too. ok life is short enough with out someone in the religous back ground telling everyoone their going to die and go to hell because you read the bible wrong. read it and stop read into it.

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