This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things


The title of this post is a bit misleading – it actually should read more along the lines of “This is why we cannot have meaningful relationships and conversations.”

Earlier this week, singer Kim Burrell in a video, predicted that homosexuality and those “who play with it in God’s house will die in 2017.” She also spoke about “the perverted homosexual spirit” in her sermon. (She has since stated that her comments were taken out of the context of her message, and that she holds no hatred for gays or lesbians.) The comments made in her original video came to the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who cancelled Kim Burrell’s upcoming scheduled appearance on her show.

And I don’t blame her (DeGeneres) for taking that step.

Once again, someone who is a follower of Christ was found to take homosexuality out of the greater context of Scripture and twist it into a something unrecognizable. Predicting the death of anyone in this or any other year is beyond the pay grade of any disciple of Jesus.

I believe that there are several reasons behind this type of thinking:

  1. Bad teaching.
  2. Resentment
  3. A Lack of Discussion Regarding Sexuality in the Church

Let’s take a closer look at these…

1. Bad Teaching

At this point in the history of the church, there really is no excuse for this. There are more resources available than there have ever been. (You can find a list of some of them under the “Resources” tab of this blog.) For Kim Burrell to have said these things, it seems that she has spent little time in understanding how homosexuality is addressed in Scripture, and how God works in the lives of those who have experienced same-sex attractions, or any other sin for that matter.

Singer and songwriter Keith Green once said, “This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls on the earth!” We have a responsibility to learn about the issues our culture is concerned with today in order to reach the souls of those around us with the Gospel.

2. Resentment

Sometimes it seems as though Christians speak out recklessly in regards to homosexuality in particular because of a resentment of the wider cultural acceptance of those who identify as gay or lesbian. It is as if lashing out with words you would never hear applied to any other sin is done in a terribly misguided effort to take back ground in some way.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I’m thankful that people are able to be more open about their same-sex attractions in our culture – I don’t want to go back to where we were. It is good for people to be able to walk down the street without being afraid of getting beat up. It’s good for people to be able to go about their days at work or running errands on eating meals with friends without harassment. It was not a good thing to treat homosexuality as a cultural taboo.

Christians always walk in two worlds – we live here on earth as citizens of another Kingdom. It makes no sense to waste time railing against our status as expatriates. This world is not our home, and we have the privilege of showing those around us what it is like to live a life of freedom and love in Christ. When others see His love in us, they will want to join in the call to know and glorify God.

3. A Lack of Discussion Regarding Sexuality in the Church

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6

Kim Burrell lost her opportunity to meet Ellen DeGeneres, to appear on her show, and to have any kind of conversation or build any kind of relationship with her because she chose to pick out homosexuality as a sin deserving some kind of special punishment from God. Her theology was wrong, and it will take some time and effort to ever have that kind of opportunity come her way again (if ever.)

Without discussions about sexuality – whether about homosexuality or heterosexuality – within the church, room is created for bad teaching and resentment to build, instead of wisdom and contentment in Christ. Too often people are afraid to bring up the subject in a Sunday School class or Bible study, and their conversations end up being seasoned with flamethrowers instead of salt.

Salt is known to be one of the basic human tastes. (The others are sweet, bitter, sour and savory.) According to Wikipedia:

“As taste senses both harmful and beneficial things, all basic tastes are classified as either aversive or appetitive, depending upon the effect the things they sense have on our bodies. Sweetness helps to identify energy-rich foods, while bitterness serves as a warning sign of poisons.

According to Lindemann, both salt and sour taste mechanisms detect, in different ways, the presence of sodium chloride (salt) in the mouth, however, acids are also detected and perceived as sour.

The detection of salt is important to many organisms, but specifically mammals, as it serves a critical role in ion and water homeostasis in the body. Because of this, salt elicits a pleasant taste in most humans.

Sour and salt tastes can be pleasant in small quantities, but in larger quantities become more and more unpleasant to taste.”*

I’ve made the mistake of adding too much salt in recipes, and the results were inedible. When we fail to use wisdom and discernment in our conversations, we make relationships with people who don’t know Jesus unpalatable. (Now, of course, we know that some people may find the message of the Gospel hard to digest – but that is not what is happening in this example with Kim Burrell.) We need to spend time learning within our fellowship groups how to address questions surrounding sexuality in a Biblically sound and compassionate way. I believe that Kim’s words would have been different if she had spoken to other mature Christians first.

Here are some suggestions:

Invest some time in learning more about what the Lord has to say about our sexuality in general, as well as about homosexuality. (Again some excellent resources are listed on the Resources tab of this blog.)

Spend some time listening to those who have experienced same-sex attractions. Ask questions just to gain insight into the perspective of other people.

Find other Christians who are interested in learning more about how to reach out to people around them who are involved in the LGBT community, and talk about your concerns and questions. Invite someone to come speak to your small group on the topic, and ask your church staff for more teaching to be made available so you can ask your questions within the Body of Christ.

There are ways to speak about sexuality without alienating people – and those conversations are best when they are earned. We need to be involved in serving everyone around us, and being ready to give thoughtful (not bland), graceful answers when opportunities do arise. Here is one example that I thought was very good – you may recall that there was an article raising a controversy about Chip and Joanna Gaines late last year, where it was noted that they attend a church in which the pastor has addressed homosexuality as a sin. Just this week, Chip has posted the following response on his blog…it is well worth taking your time to read:

Instead of decrying the state of being attacked and misunderstood, Chip Gaines has asked us all to raise the level of the conversation. He asks us to be considerate of one another and give one another breathing room. It is possible to lovingly disagree and work alongside each other in a community. Let us look for opportunities to do that in this new year.





What The Hell Just Happened In Kansas?

“But the gay rights movement, it seems to me, should tread a careful path. We should be wary of being seen to trample on religious freedom and be defined as discriminators of another sort.” ~ Andrew Sullivan
I don’t agree w/ everything Sullivan writes, of course, but I agree that sweeping legislation such as this is not the way to go. There is breathing room to be found and freedom for everyone if we will take the time to stop and listen to one another, and not be driven by force or fear.

The Dish

68 peoples drug 18'wide

The bill that just overwhelmingly passed the Kansas House of Representatives is quite something. You can read it in its entirety here. It is premised on the notion that the most pressing injustice in Kansas right now is the persecution some religious people are allegedly experiencing at the hands of homosexuals. As Rush Limbaugh recently noted, “They’re under assault. You say, ‘Heterosexuality may be 95, 98 percent of the population.’ They’re under assault by the 2 to 5 percent that are homosexual.” As its sponsor, Charles Macheers, explained:

Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill. There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that.

The remedy for such a terrible threat is, however, state…

View original post 1,058 more words

Haunted (Part 3 of a 3 Part Series)

First posted on Facebook, September 19, 2013 at 5:41pm

You’ve seen the pictures on TV, online, in magazines and newspapers – happy, tearful, sometimes surrounded by cheering crowds at a city hall, other times with a close group of family and friends.  For some, the fact that the couple is made up of the same gender may still be a bit of a shock.  For many in our culture, and a few other places around the world, it’s just another happy couple.

A few months ago I read Will Vaus’ biography of Sheldon Vanauken (Sheldon Vanauken: The Man Who Received “A Severe Mercy,” (available on It brought me back to when Sheldon was grappling with whether or not to become a Christian.  In Vanauken’s book, A Severe Mercy, he writes:

Christianity – in a word, the divinity of Jesus – seemed probable to me.  But there is a gap between the probable and proved.  How was I to cross it?  If I were to stake my whole life on the Risen Christ, I wanted proof. I wanted certainty.*

Vanauken goes on to describe coming across an illustration (in a play) of the paradox that he found himself in, and then he relays this recognition of the place he’d come to at that point in his journey:

One day later there came the second intellectual breakthrough:  it was the rather chilling realization that I could not go back…  The position was not, as I had been comfortably thinking all these months, merely a question of whether I was to accept the Messiah or not.  It was a question of whether I was to accept Him – or reject.  My God!  There was a gap behind me, too.  Perhaps the leap to acceptance was a horrifying gamble – but what of the leap to rejection?  There might be no certainty that Christ was God – but, by God, there was no certainty that He was not.  If I were to accept, I might and probably would face the thought through the years: ‘Perhaps, after all, it’s a lie; I’ve been had!’  But if I were to reject, I would certainly face the haunting, terrible thought: ‘Perhaps it’s true – and I have rejected my God!’**

[Emphasis his.]

When I’d started going to the small group in Philadelphia, I didn’t know what to expect – I didn’t know if there would be some secret knowledge that would suddenly unlock a door to attractions for men, or series of spiritual tricks to learn, or hoops to jump through.  I didn’t know what challenges would be put before me.  It turned out that there was just a group of women there who were wanting to learn and grow in the same direction.  We shared how we were feeling when we came in, discussed a topic that was brought up by the group leader (sometimes it was something I found relative to me, other times not), and we closed by sharing our thoughts about what we’d learned, and what we’d like prayer for.  And we prayed.  No secrets, no tricks, no hoops.  Just doing life with Jesus – looking through the Scriptures, talking and thinking about how this might apply to our lives.  The only difference here was that we could talk about “it” openly – our sexuality.

Although I didn’t have any mind-blowing revolutionary changes occur in that first year, I did notice a difference.  I became more aware of my own inner life, and started learning how to relate to women differently. Just baby steps, really, but steps.  And that is how Jesus worked on this part of my life – very slowly and gradually.  There was a good amount of fear, a desire to be in control, junked-up stereotypes about men, self-sabotage, along with big chunks of time that needed to be dedicated to school, work, and living life that slowed the process along the way. Yet there were also moments of breakthroughs – where I could see a glimpse ahead to where things might be going.

There were many times when I wanted to quit, to just give up.  But I knew that I was in the kind of place that Vanauken described above – I could not go back to things being just as they were before.  For, even with the little changes I was seeing, there was accumulating a growing gap behind me.  For years I had lived with what seemed like a huge chasm in front of me, with no way to get across…and that space continued to be there for many years to come.  It was very frustrating and, at times, fatiguing. But I was floating off shore, and there would be a leap required to take me back.  And I really couldn’t honestly return to where I had been before, when there was no hope of seeking or finding change.  I’d been out on the sea, taken by the current, and I would not be able to erase that from my mind.

So now, when I see the pictures and video of same-gender couples getting married, it strikes me that if I would have gone in that direction, I would have been forever haunted by the question, “What if I hadn’t quit?”  Looking back, I can see that there are fears that I would never have confronted, along with a good deal of other rather personal matters I won’t outline at this time.  There are things about Jesus that I would not have known in any other way.

CS Lewis wrote the following in Mere Christianity:

Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.  After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in.  You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.  A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later…  and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.***

To elaborate further, only those who try to resist temptation over the long haul know how strong Jesus can be in the midst of it all.  The Lord has called us to live holy lives – that’s a tall order for anyone to fill.  But He hasn’t just left us hanging on by our own strength, He empowers us and provides a way out, no matter what we’re going through.  (1 Cor. 10:13)

I love this illustration in Isaiah 42:3…

“A bruised reed He will not break,

and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.”

It comes to mind often as I’m hiking through meadows or paddling in lakes or creeks with tall grass.  I’ve seen people rip apart reeds, or bushes, or trees just for sport.  Jesus doesn’t kick us when we’re down.  He takes time to bind a support around us, to heal us. And He will take, surprisingly, the smallest effort.  Even a flickering flame about to go out – instead of snuffing it, He’ll add just the right delicate kindling and fan it into a flame.

Another favorite quote, again from Lewis:

I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations.  It is not serious provide self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience etc. doesn’t get the upper hand.  No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time.  We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we each reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard.  The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up.  It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of His presence.****

We’re going over the book of James in our Wed. morning study group, and verse 4 of the first chapter reads, “…and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (NRSV)  I thought about how my clients who are long distance athletes guard their endurance base – it’s a great concern when they’ve got an injury.  Often it takes months of grueling work to build – getting up early in all kinds of weather every day – in the dark, the heat, rain, hail, what have you.  I made it a priority to give them as many options as possible on how to keep that base going while at the same time allowing their injury to heal.  These athletes know how valuable allowing endurance to have it’s effect is on their performance in meeting their goals.  You can’t complete an Ironman without putting some serious miles in the water, on the bike or on your feet.

When I look over my own wedding pictures, I think about how I would have missed out on so much if I’d given up, if I’d not allowed endurance to have its effect on me.  I’ve completed a 100 mile bike ride, but in truth dealing with my sexuality seems to be the greatest endurance event in my life.  And I’m continuing to grow.  Especially as I’ve been traveling more over the summer with a variety of people, I’ve noticed deeper changes in this part of who I am.  It’s hard to explain, but I know that I belong here – there are no haunting questions of “what ifs.”

There is a classic Christian book by Eugene Peterson entitled A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. That is a great description of the Christian life.  I read recently that author Wes Hill turned the wording a bit to “a long repentance in the same direction.”  In this series of essays, really in anything I write or do or say, I hope that I’ve not left the impression that I’m a finished work.  I’m far from it – in this area as well as many others in my life. There is far to go.  But I’m thankful for how far He’s brought me, and I’m all the more confident that He who began this good work will be faithful to complete it.  (Philippians 1:6)

And I’m thankful, too, for you who have taken the time to read through these words.

DSCF2729He’s a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are “pleasures for evermore”. Ugh!…  He’s vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least – sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel ‘disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.*****

~ C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter 22

*Vanauken, Sheldon; A Severe Mercy, pg 98, Harper & Row, first paperback edition pub. 1987.


***Lewis, C.S.; Mere Christianity, pg 126, Macmillan Pub. Co., first Touchstone edition [paperback] pub 1996

****Lewis, C.S.; from a letter to Mary Neylan, Jan. 20, 1942

*****Lewis, C.S.; The Screwtape Letters, pg 112, Barbour and Company, Inc., Christian Library Edition pub. 1990

The Art of Living Outside the Box (Part 2 of a 3 Part Series)

IMG_6521First posted on Facebook, September 19, 2013 at 12:58pm

So what about the legalization of gay marriage, and how does that affect me?  Well, I think it will eventually become legal in all states, and I’ve not spent time or effort in keeping that from occurring.  I don’t believe that this new law of the land in and of itself will affect me, however, some the assumptions being used to usher it in, do.  And yet I don’t believe that is necessary to crowbar the masses into that box of assumptions and presuppositions in order for all of those who hold differing views of homosexuality to move forward.

Here are a few illustrations gleaned from the past month to shed some light on what I mean…

On Aug. 22nd, the Huffington Post relayed this headline:

“More Than 30 Percent Of Americans Think Gays Can Become Straight”*

My personal response was, “More than 30% of Americans believe I exist! Hoo-rah.”  (I refrained from buying a cake or building a parade float to celebrate.)  Once I set aside my own sarcasm long enough to read some of the responses to the article, I came across this in the comment section:


Sorry, but there’s a fundamental flaw in the absolute nature of the posing of this question. How many people DON’T know people who used to be straight and are now gay, and people who used to be gay and are now straight? If you don’t think a person’s sexual orientation can change, are you living in a cave somewhere? Naturally, that doesn’t support a belief that ALL people’s sexual orientation can be changed, which is the way the ‘Po [Huffington Post] — and obviously a large number of posters — are attempting to interpret the survey. The survey asked:

“A gay or lesbian person’s sexual orientation… A) can be changed, B) cannot be changed.”

If you know someone who used to be gay and is now straight, you MUST answer A. That is NOT the same as expressing a belief that ALL gays’ sexual orientation can be changed.

Thank you, “pgaert” for that dose of common sense.  As a side note, I think that the primary reason that more people wouldn’t answer “A” to that particular survey question is because people like myself who have experienced a difference in their sexual orientation have been silent about it.  Our bad.

A few days earlier, I came across this article on identity – and the freedom to acknowledge the fluidity of sexual orientation, with or without faith, by Peter Ould on his blog:

Much of what is contained in that blog post resonated with me.

I think that for many, the assumption that one’s sexual orientation is a permanent, immutable characteristic has become a cornerstone in the fight for the legalization of gay marriage across the country.  That is simply a denial of reality.

For my part, I don’t find that it is necessary to hold that presupposition in order to see the laws change.  And, unfortunately, it puts those of us who have experienced fluidity in our sexuality in the place of being a wrench in the wheel by default.  (I promise that I did not seek change in my attractions in order to wreck anyone’s plan to achieve recognition of their relationship in the eyes of the law.)  On the other hand, the cultural pressure to believe that “once gay, always gay” is not helpful for those of us who due to our faith or other reasons are willing to work towards living a different way.

In This World…

In the first part of this series, I mentioned the contrast between the world I lived in growing up, and the world we live in today.  And, for the most part, I do believe that it is a safer environment, although I think that it is still not one that would be understanding, or open, to what I went through in seeking to reconcile my sexuality with my faith.

But fortunately I’m not a teenager now, and in this world that I do live in, I’ve been blessed with great relationships with people whom I know do not agree with me.  And these are deep matters to be in disagreement over.  It cuts to some huge questions in life – about love, our identity, who God is, and what it all means or could mean in the future.  It can be very hard to live within the tension of polar opposite ideas, to be willing to take time to listen and to try to build a bridge even while it may feel that you’re in the middle of a white-water river. It’s much easier to blow people off, to arrange your life so that you’re not going to run into those you disagree with, to be polite but keep your distance.

In my first job as a PT, I worked with a lesbian couple.  One day one of these ladies came up to me in the clinic and said out of the blue, “I can see a difference.”  I thought she was referring to the progress of the client I’d just finished working with.  “Yes, she’s been working on her balance exercises at home and you can see a difference in how she’s walking…” I replied, until she cut me off.  “No, I mean I can see a difference in your life – you’re more comfortable around men.”

Hearing her say that blew me away.  It had been six or seven years since I’d been involved in the small group at Harvest USA, and I was just then starting to experience changes in my attractions.  I wasn’t dating anyone at the time, or making a big deal about the newness of it all. (Actually, I was being cautious – I remember how those experiences felt fragile, easily breakable…as if it could or would all blow away.)  Yet she not only noticed, she had the guts to say something about it to me.

There are many men and women who have simply accepted me at face value, that I am who I am and they have never questioned me about my sexuality. (At least to my face…)  There are people whom I know disagree that seeking change was something that was needed in my life, and who would have been just as happy for me to be standing at the altar with a woman, but they came to my wedding and wished me and my husband well anyway.  And that means a great deal tome.

I know through these friendships that it is possible to be supportive (or at least not oppressive) of someone who seeks change in their orientation, and still be “pro-gay” in one’s own political beliefs.  You don’t have to pick one side or the other, choosing to only associate with that particular set of individuals.  It’s possible to not just be tolerant, but to be engaging – to become involved in another person’s life, and actually care about them.  There is an art to living outside of ideological boxes, even in a politically polarized atmosphere.  I’m thankful to be surrounded by many of these artistic people.  These relationships are of great value to me – I appreciate that at times it has taken extra effort, or caused some to have to re-think their stereotypes or prejudices.  (And I pray that I’ve not stumbled into actualizing any of the more negative ones too often.) It would be wonderful to see a world in which this art of living was more widely put into practice.

*For those interested, the survey data may be found here:

Gay Marriage – A Reflection (A Three-Part Series)

DSCF7660First posted on Facebook, September 18, 2013 at 8:37am

I’ve not commented on the issue of the legalization of gay marriage here on Facebook, for several reasons.  But lately I’ve been nagged by the thought that if I don’t share my perspective, no one else will do it for me.

In a World…

There is a film (currently released on a small scale) set in the behind-the-scenes sphere of movie trailer voice-overs.  That title, and the familiar opening line, started me thinking about the various worlds I’ve lived in during my rather brief spin around the Milky Way. If there was a trailer of my life, you’d see that I’ve gone from a world of feeling like an outcast, at least in this one area of sexuality, to a different world that has made some great strides, yet has still left me with a sense of being written off as a non-entity in our culture.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with stories of people with same-sex attractions feeling isolated, afraid, and confused as they were growing up, and my life has not been an exception.  I was guarded in the public school system, not wanting anyone to know for fear of ridicule or worse.  I had friends who asked me a hinted question from time to time, but I quickly dove into the sea of denial that was my main refuge.  With my mom, I was afraid that if she found out she’d take me to a psychologist who would have me stare at inkblots, force me to answer questions I was not comfortable with, or worse –I’d heard the rumors about electric shock “therapy” that just seemed macabre.  (Dad lived elsewhere, and I was confident in my ability to hide this part of my life from him.)  And in the church – well, they never mentioned the subject at all, which was better than the abusiveness I’ve since learned was often heard by others.  Yet not hearing anything from the pulpit about homosexuality left me wondering if my faith was genuine, or if I was somehow disqualified from following Christ, because this issue seemed to be completely off the table.

That world of fright, with the efforts and energy it took to hide, is not one I would wish on anyone else.  And I got off easy.  I know that, and I’m thankful.

But this is a different world– one in which you hear homosexuality spoken of all the time.  One in which there is great effort being put into teaching kids not to bully someone who is different than the masses, in which people celebrate celebrities who speak out about their same-sex attractions, and anticipate the day when the next active athlete in one of the premier sports will do the same.  It is a safer world than the one I grew up in, and I’m very glad about that.  Of course there is quite a way to go, but there is a tremendous difference in the atmosphere compared to even a few years ago – not to mention the decades since my youth.

And, although I am thankful for the ability to speak openly about same-sex attraction, and the increased sensitivity regarding safety, it’s still not a world in which I’m quite at home.*  I wonder what it would be like to grow up in this environment – trading the fear of being “outed” in school, for the pressure to conform to a new normative ideal that still continues to conflict against my faith.  Are the kids who are like me still making huge efforts to hide?  Are they having to wrestle not only with deeply personal questions of their faith and sexuality, but also having to fight against a well-meaning culture that fears that the concept of seeking change in one’s orientation is a dangerous undertaking?

As I’ve mentioned before,** I am very fortunate to have found a safe and sane place to talk about my attractions and to think through questions about what I wanted to do with those feelings and what it all meant in light of the pursuit of a deeper relationship with Jesus, at Harvest USA in Philadelphia. Harvest USA is about to celebrate their 30th anniversary next month.  I’m very grateful for their approach, the fact that they didn’t charge me a dime while I was there (I couldn’t have afforded a charge at the time anyway), their consistency and commitment to excellence in the work they do.

I am compelled – with a sense of responsibility, if you will – to do what I can to provide the opportunity for others who are like me to have a place to go, people to talk to, a chance to work things through, to learn and to grow. Of course, some people will choose to walk away in a different direction.  (There were those who did that to Jesus in person, how much more so when we’re following a God we cannot see?)  Yet some people will choose to walk in much the same direction I’ve been heading.  It’s not impossible, it’s not always easy, but it’s always been worth it.

(More to come in parts 2 & 3.)


*Part of that is because ultimately, it’s not.  There is another place – another home where we all have the opportunity to spend a lot more time in after our brief lives here, and this world will never live up to that.

** See prior post.