A womens blog on apologetics. Soon I will do a list of places I love. Here's a start.Read more!
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
I was born into a "christian" home; and attended church regularly until I graduated from high school. I put christian in quotes because the church teaching gave me no grounding in the Bible, theology or doctrine; and my parents dropped the kid's off at church on Sundays so they could be alone - so our home was not really christian based. I was very active as a youth in my church: was a junior deacon; chancel assistant; attended the national church organization's annual convention as a youth representative; and was the youth representative on the committee that selected our new pastor.
Racism, since I can remember, has been wrong to me. Some of this was my mom's lessons - although while I drew anti-racism beliefs from what she taught, my sister's drew the opposite. I take this as gifting from God to me. I grew up in southwest Missouri. Joplin was racially divided: Jasper County was 99% white, all 1% of the blacks lived in Joplin, all in the same geographical area with the only paved road being the one that went through the neighborhood. Luckily for me I always seemed (at least after grade school) to be in the school with the black kids. One of my best friends was black (no thats not a joke). Roland B. and I attended Jr. High and High school together. On weekends during high school, he and I plus John W., a catholic friend of mine, would go out to a 5 acre farm and hang out and have fun. More on Roland in a minute.
The National Council of Community Churches (of which my church was a member) as a whole was about 70% Black (my church 100% white). As a youth representative I was a minority white. There were some interesting experiences in this: cross burnings, black girlfriends (with accompanying threats by my mom), etc. The most important thing for this thread is attending a church conference in Gunnison, CO - and seeing how the minister there had dealt with racism in a mixed church population (fairly rare now, real rare then).
The threads came together to blow me out of my church. Our church needed a new pastor and one of the candidates was that "great pastor" who combated racism in Gunnison. In a close vote, my support for him on the racism issue gave him the job. Back to Roland: John W., Roland and I would come into town on Sunday mornings from the country and hit our respective churches. I didn't have to attend every week; but Roland and John W. did. So I would go to both of their churches sometimes before we went back out to the farm. When it came time for me to serve as junior Deacon, I told my pastor (the anti-racism one) a week in advance that a black friend of mine would be attending. I did this because I did not wish to create a controversy (it would) without the pastor knowing about it in advance.
BOOM!: The pastor begged me not to bring Roland: the church wasn't ready, but would be some day; we needed to have a plan; blah blah blah. I left the church that day telling the pastor that when the church was ready to welcome Roland - they could welcome me too. The church I had attended and been active in for 17 years did not bat an eye on my leaving.
Teenagers are rightfully on high hypocrisy alert; and the lack of Biblical grounding didn't allow me to separate the human teaching and mistakes of christians (and indeed expect them) from the teachings and love of Christ. I had placed my faith in men rather than God and, of course, been let down.
Next Post: It's All Downhill for a Ways
Two themes govern the next part of my life: politics and sex. There was quite a bit of drug use but it was never really a key to my development. I graduated from high school in 1970. My senior year I had won a debate taking the pro-war side of the Vietnam War. By late April 1971, I was in Washington, DC as part of the Mayday Demonstrations. I had rolled far past being a "peacenik" - by this time I was very radical; and was there to "shut down the government" by blocking traffic in Washington after all the nice people had gone home.
By August of 1972, I was demonstrating from the left against both the Republican and Democratic Partys at their conventions in Miami. Of course, I got a floor pass to the Democratic to watch the show; and was part of the group getting tear gassed outside the Republican so that the gas got sucked into the ventilation system and emptied the hall. I put a paper bag over my head and voted for McGovern that year; after demonstrating outside his hotel in Miami because he blocked a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party platform (plus a few other things). It would be a long time until I voted for a person again.
By this time I was becoming a Marxist (Chinese version). I worked in a radical bookstore in California (so I got to read a lot of theory). I left California heading north in spring of 1973; and lodged in Oregon after getting arrested for violating the H. Rap Brown Act for attempting to get to the AIM siege at Wounded Knee, SD. I became active in a group whose primary radical role was running a very left print shop. People in the group had come together from the Black Panthers, Revolutionary Union, and the Patriot Party. My spiritual slide was complete - at least the philosophical part of it. I never called myself an atheist. When asked I said I felt that made God too important still - I called myself an agnostic not because I didn't know, but because I didn't care and thought it an unimportant question to even pursue or think about.
By 1978, for a variety of reasons my political activism was over - but not because of any real disagreement with Marxism. My first marriage, and the responsibilities of four step-children, and the dismal sectarian state of radical political organizations all put an end to it (the left has always been self-destructive: might have something to say about the validity of the politics).
I was the nerd in school: glasses, "98 lb weakling", good grades, asthma - so no sports. Most of my friends were jocks. I admired guys that had "the pretty women". It was my goal to be able to do that too; and of course I thought they all were "scoring". I dated the same girl on and off from the summer before my sophmore year in high school until the summer before my senior year in high school. She moved to Ohio.
We lost our virginity together in honor of that event. I went off to church conference in Florida; expecting to be able to see her for about a month before her family left for good. Undying love spoken, she had my ring. After I got to Florida, I found out that her parents found out we had sex - and that she had missed her period and might be pregnant. The mature young man I was, ready for a serious relationship, and wanting to be there to support my girlfriend - I cashed in my ticket home and flew to Ohio to "visit" a friend of mine there and to stay close to a girl I met a conference that I was "in love' with now. I hid there about two weeks until the mother on that end called mine - and they escorted me to a bus. Susan wasn't pregnant.
The summer after my senior year showed the transition. I went to church conference for the last time to see the girl I had met the previous summer. The situation with Roland happened that summer. I would head to college that fall and flunk out by Christmas - much too much time drinking to study. Then, I ran into the guy I won the Vietnam War debate against the year before. Let the politics begin. By April I was at Mayday
Growing my hair long improved my looks. I had a string of sexual relationships in Missouri and beyond. There were any number of bad endings. I met my first wife in the movement in Oregon; and we lived together for about a year before we got married. She was Chicana - freaked my mom out a bit but not bad. She was 11 years older, she had four children. We stayed together for 11 years.
I blew that marriage apart by adultery. I became a sexual addict for nude dancers, massage parlors, and prostitution. I got caught, I got divorced. Within six months of the divorce, I met my second wife. In that six months I had had two more sexual relationships. The plunge was complete.
Next Post: The Road Back to God
My wife and I had our first date on July 28, 1988. There is a funny story here (which I will not do) except to say we knew of each other, had no desire to even meet, and were forced together by a snoopy friend who thought we were perfect for each other. Our friend's marriage was a horrendous train wreak - and we both thought her matchmaking advice highly suspect. She figured out a way to get us to her house for the same dinner; and I asked my wife to go out in order to get our friend off my back. My wife accepted for that same reason. I picked a really romantic movie - Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
My state prior to this date: I had become a near pathological liar while committing adultery on my first wife; I would have been an atheist if I cared enough; and my only reason for going out with women was to get laid - but I was looking for a permanent relationship. And I thought I was great. I had been philosophically and morally opposed to God for 16 years. I had some good points (and some threads holding me to God). I went to a revival meeting in Joplin sometime in my teens - and came forward at an alter call and accepted Christ as my Savior. My church left that seed to be choked by weeds - but the thread was there. All during my radical years, there was one song I loved (regardless of how agnostic or atheist I was) - I loved "Amazing Grace". Those were the two threads that I believed I hung by; and kept me from completing denying God for those 16 years.
During the movie (what can I say - my wife was good looking and I would sleep with anyone) I put my arm around her and then held her hand; and God took a hand in our life. My wife and I both experienced electricity when we held hands (notes compared two days later). I say we were welded together by God at that point. We were never apart after that.
We tried to have sex the next two or three days; but I couldn't. We had time to talk, and hug, and bond. I asked her to marry me within two days and she said yes. We set the date for a year later to make sure we were not crazy; but we could have gone to the courthouse then. My wife was a fallen away Catholic, still a believer but unchurched, with a permanent disability and an 8 year old daughter. She was so honest you could almost call it a fault.
I had confessed to her in those two days the reason for my first divorce - and told her things I had done that my first wife never knew about. Since the moment of our coming together, she has been the only women I have been sexually attracted to - and my lying was under control. Her permanent disability began to improve. I have considered it to be like neuroreceptor molecules - once plugged together an affect occurs.
God put my wife and I together; and we caught each other and lifted each other up. My wife was in the grips of a disability which my love helped break. My moral and ethical free fall ended in her loving arms. She was unchurched; grew up Catholic and didn't read the Bible; and had no christian friends and support - just her Lord. I was an enemy of God - with tiny threads holding me to Him still. Both my wife and I think this was God's work in our lives, but it would be 1995 before I accepted Christ as my savior.
Next post: And We Shall Be as Children
Posted by JCHFleetguy at 9:17 PM
Seven years. One of those significant Biblical numbers - God does a lot of things in periods of seven. Remember, my wife was not a Bible reader (nor ever had been) but for the next seven years did this:
1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, wives, be subject to your own husbands. Then, even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, 2 when they see your pure and reverent conduct.In seven years, we had two discussions on religion:
- the first two days when she and I found out where we stood;
- when my wife found out she was pregnant four years into our marriage she said she wanted to raise our child christian.
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3 There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people, 5 yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas..'"God just got tired of listening to her.
I used to bone up all week at the library in Joplin; and then go to a "coffee house" they had at Ozark Bible College to evangelize hippies so I could bash on students about evolution. My friend John W. went once and saw them "save" a Catholic - so he boned up on Catholic apologetics and went and bashed on them about Catholicism. For 16 years, I spent lots of time preparing to, and hammering, christian belief and theology from a variety of positions. I now am just able to argue with me then.
A women moved in next to our apartment: Ok K., A Korean women enrolled in seminary; and somehow she had gotten by the test on her English skills to get admitted. I was in school at the time, and she asked me to edit her papers for her Old Testament class. I agreed, and could keep my opinions out (or they would have expelled her) - and God had me in the Word.
Alan R. was a business associate of mine. Successful, loving, with a wonderful wife and children. He was the first person I had ever met that I would have preferred to be. He had fruit - and he gave all credit to God. Three years before I met him his wife and him were strung out on cocaine and ready to divorce. They met Christ. After the hypocrisy that blew me out of the church, I had to see a christian man walking the walk. That was Alan R.
My daughter was two years old. I knew that my wife needed the church; and wanted my daughter to attend. I also knew she feared going to church will a daughter, and not a husband. She knew she would get attitude either with no husband; or a pagan for one. She had experienced this with her first daughter - having never married that time. I offered to help her find a church; and would attend with her. After all, God didn't exist so He wouldn't strike me with lightning when I walked in the door. We went to Alan's church - and it was expositional. God had me back in church; and deeper in the Word.
Four months later, at a weekend business seminar in Spokane (Alan and my wife were there) the organizers put together a Sunday morning non-denominational service for the attenders that were christian. I went with my wife. I would not have said going in that I was any closer to accepting Christ than I had been four years before. She got sick halfway through the service; and finished out the service in the car. She told me to stay - she would be right back after some air - and I did. At the end of the service, there was an alter call (accompanied by "Amazing Grace" of course) and my pride broke. I found myself weeping on my knees in front of the stage; admitting the failure to run my life; and giving my life and myself to Christ. If my wife had been there I might never have gotten out of my seat.
I said at the time that my heart had written a check my head could not cash. I have certainly cashed it since.
My first service as a new christian was Easter. The next week I was baptised by Alan R. Two weeks after that I had the honor to baptise my wife; who saved my life. Four years later, I had the priviledge of baptising my daughter. Two months ago I celebrated my tenth birthday. God is Great.
Posted by JCHFleetguy at 8:56 PM
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Matthew 7:3 "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eyeWhat if homosexuality is always sin? The only distinction would arise in comparing a heterosexual couple in a monogamous lifetime relationship with a homosexual couple in a monogamous lifetime relationship. Biblically, any sexual act outside a monogamous lifetime relationship is sin. It doesn't matter whether it is with the same gender or the opposite. However, we will not get to gay marriage or civil unions until the third post.
Right now, let's look at sexual sin. What is more serious biblically - homosexuality or adultery? I am personally an "all sin is equal" kinda Christian - but if ranking is valid then adultery has to be hands down worse than homosexuality because you have betrayed your spouse, a vow to God, and of course committed a sexual sin. Certainly, adultery constitutes a far more serious threat to Christian marriage than homosexuality on any level
Matthew 5: 27 "You have heard that it was said, `YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart . . . 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.and:
Matthew 19: 9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." 10 The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry." 11 But He said to them, "Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 "For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.I personally committed all of those. This should land enough logs in enough eyes to quiet almost all condemnations of homosexuality by Christians. Been dropping into internet pornography sites? Do you and your spouse have a damaged sexual relationship, and you masturbate to images and/or fantasies of others? Maybe you have sexual fantasies about that women with the low-cut tight blouse or the guy with the tight jeans; and go out of your way to get the best view of the body you "admire"? How about the sensitive and kind person at church (the office, etc) that you compare favorably with your emotionally distant spouse; and feel the heat of a rising passion? Perhaps you are meeting for coffee or lunch (have you mentioned it to your spouse?) with that funny someone who "really understands you"; and your thoughts are becoming sexual about them (or soon will be)? Is this your second marriage, or are you divorced? Was the divorce caused by adultery? If not, are you committing adultery now? If your spouse left you tomorrow, for reasons other than adultery, are you prepared to be celibate for the rest of your life? This last one I had to face last year - it was a bleak and difficult future to envision.
These are the verses closely following Romans 1:26-7:
Romans 2: 1 Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. *I am not really trying to engender guilt. I am trying to engender humility; and an understanding that we all stand in front of an Almighty God imperfect and unable to say much about anything but our own sin.* Romans 1: 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;Romans 2: 2 And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
"Should opposing the cultural acceptance of gayness be a central task for the Church? Because of the teaching of the Scripture about the task of the Church, I say no."Does it help the mission of Christ's church to be perceived as hateful representatives of a hateful God when it comes to homosexuality? No.
Homosexuality is not the worst sexual sin, and is only equal to heterosexual sex outside of marriage (how many are doing that right now); and sexual sin is not the worst sin overall. C.S. Lewis:
The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither. -- Mere ChristianityFinally, what if we are wrong? What if Paul really had no clue about committed, loving relationships between people of the same gender, and all he could see was temple prostitution and pederasty? What if gays do feel that orientation from the youngest of ages and that is all right with God? Remember, Paul and the other apostles thought Christ was returning in their lifetime. They had Jesus's revelation to lean on (He of course said only His Father really knew) - and we should live like Christ is returning tomorrow - but still they were wrong about this. How will God feel if we have persecuted gays in His name and He doesn't feel that way? We should always approach judgment and/or condemnation of people based on scripture with "fear and trembling" - or better yet just leave this job to God. I think the wisest thing for Christians to do about homosexuality is to love the sinner; and hate the sin - but keep their mouth shut about the second part in most cases.
Next: Homosexuality Part III: Gay Marriage and Civil Unity (comments allowed at end of series) Read more!
Monday, June 13, 2005
This is really two issues: internally in the Christian Church; and externally in a puralistic, democratic society.
On the Christian church side of the issue: I could not support, based on scripture, sanctifying gay marriage (or civil unions) within my church - or even saying that gay permanent relationships are equal in God's eyes. As Richard Hayes said (quoted by Walter Taylor):