The Barna Group Channels Art Linkletter: Why Young People Are Deserting the Church

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” – C.S. Lewis

why young people are leaving the church


About 4 years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a pastor. I had just heard that my daughter’s friend had left the faith at the age of 19. His reason was tragically simple.  He was a brilliant young man and attended an Ivy League college with an interest in pursuing a medical career. He had grown up in both a church and school which pushed only a literal Young Earth interpretation of Genesis. He had been taught that scientists covered up the evidence of a young earth. He was also indoctrinated into the supposed evidence of such a viewpoint. You know, the Sunday school version of science.

As he pursued his science diligently, he began to see the discrepancies between what he had been taught, including the stuff at Answers in Genesis, and the peer reviewed studies of the greater scientific community. He believed in the evidence of an ancient earth.

Unfortunately, both his school and this church did not allow him to believe that he could be both a Christian and a believer in an Old Earth. So, looking at the evidence, he chose what he saw to be the truth. And left the faith.

When I told him that I, too, believed in an Old Earth and still held to the faith, he told me that it was too late. Too many people had told him he could only believe one way or the other.

I then went to the church ( I was still a member there at the time) and asked the man in charge of teaching the “Young Earth" curriculum if he would consider teaching that people can believe in an Old Earth and be Christians in order to give our kids a fallback position. He said he would NEVER allow such a thing.

I then called one of the pastors who said, and I quote, “My research has shown that this is not the reason why kids leave the church.” I asked him to share his research. He declined. I believe that “My research” is one of those “kiss off” statements which means “get lost.” I think it also means that he googled a couple of articles from AIG and thus concluded his “research.”

The answer of both of these men conveyed an attitude of “I don’t care if anyone leaves the faith over this. My theology of secondary issues trumps losing kids.” My question is this, “Where is the devotion to our primary directive?” I wonder if the church should adopt a line from the Hippocratic Oath. "First, do no harm."

However, there is some “real” research that is getting to the bottom of things.

The president of the Barna Group, David Kinnaman, has just released a new book titled, You Lost Me: Why Young People Are leaving the Church and Rethinking Church. Here is a link to the description at Amazon.

Here is part of the product description from Amazon.

“Close to 60 percent of young people who went to church as teens drop out after high school. Now the bestselling author of unChristian trains his researcher's eye on these young believers. Where Kinnaman's first book unChristian showed the world what outsiders aged 16-29 think of Christianity, You Lost Me shows why younger Christians aged 16-29 are leaving the church and rethinking their faith.”

This study looked at kids who were committed church attendees during their teen years and then dropped out, beginning at age 15. But here is the most worrisome staistic. Three (3) out of every five (5) young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time after age 15.

Here is how one Amazon reviewer at the same link, David Gruesel, who gave the book 5 stars, analyzed the book.

“If you were intrigued with the premise of "unchristian," a candid discussion of how the evangelical church in North America has failed to reach the younger generation of unchurched adults, you will likely find "You Lost Me" to be equally useful. If, on the other hand, you are defensive and thin-skinned about your approach to evangelism, outreach, and church growth, you will likely find this book as offensive as you found "unchristian."

Both volumes speak frankly–often using the very words of these unreached young adults–about how the church (broadly understood) has not addressed either their beliefs or their doubts. The current work, "You Lost Me," is more focused on young adults who USED to be in a church environment and no longer are. In some respects, it is even a more heartbreaking story because these are people that the church in some sense had, and now no longer has.”

Over at the Barna Group website, here, there is an excellent synopsis of the study titled “Six Reasons Young Christians Leave the Church.” Here are some highlights.

1. Churches seem overprotective.

Here is the bottom line. The world is now interconnected. Five years ago, I would never have considered writing a blog. Ten years ago, I was just discovering the marvel of Google. Our children are growing up in a world in which various world-views and philosophical ideas are easily explored. It is not unusual for a teen to be communicating with a Hindu teen in India.

My son played video games with friends from across the globe. I didn’t realize this until, one day, I walked into our game room and heard him joking with a guy who had an English accent. My son was playing a video game over the Internet with a boy in London!

Children can easily see videos from around the world of devastation from poverty, wars and weather. They also see that some of these needs are being met by groups that have nothing to do with the Christian faith.
Here are some of the concerns expressed in this category:

  • Christians demonize everything outside of the church (25%)
  • The church ignores the problems of the real world. (22%)
  • My church is too concerned that video games, movies and music are harmful. (18%)

2. Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.

This one is disconcerting. It appears that God may not be making an appearance in some churches.

  • Church is boring (31%)
  • Faith is not relevant to my career or interests (24%)
  • The Bible is not taught clearly or often enough (23%)
  • God is missing from my experience of church (20%)

3. Churches come across as antagonistic to science. 

I have been around far too many Christians who claim that scientists are deceitful, guilty of hiding evidence that the earth is young, and, in general, despise God and Christianity, etc. The problem is that my husband was one of these so-called scientists in his younger days.Yet he loved God and followed Christ but believed that science is one way that God reveals His complexity and beauty to the world. I have had people on this blog comment that my experience with such Christians was unusual and that most Christians are not like this. Well, it seems that my experiences may not have been unusual.

  • Christianity is anti-science (25%)
  • Churches are out of step with the scientific world that we live in. (29%)
  • Some are turned off by the creation -versus-evolution debate. (23%)
  • Christians are too confident that they know all the answers. (35%)

Most importantly, in this subset of those young people, who describe themselves as science-minded, we discover that they are struggling to find ways to stay faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

(Take that, Mr. Pastor, whose research didn’t show such things.)

4. Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental

We live in a culture that emphasizes sexuality and offers easy access to pornography. These young people struggle with how to live up to the church’s expectation of chastity and sexual purity in a culture that is delaying marriage into the late 20s.

(I have one thought. Could the divorce rate amongst Christians (higher even than atheist marriages as we have discussed before) cause young people to fear marriage?-but, I digress).

Statistics indicate that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers even though they are more conservative in their attitudes to sexuality.

17% say that they have made mistakes and feel judged by the church.

5. They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.

Today’s culture prizes open-mindedness and tolerance. Young people today have friendships that span a wide array of racial, ethnicity, sexuality, and religious diversity. They strive to find common ground with their peers. Gone are the days when all white, upper-class people attended the local Episcopal church and the Russian immigrants (my dad’s experience) lived in the same section of town. The observations of our young people about how our churches are dealing with differences is troubling.

  • Churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths. (29%)
  • They feel forced to choose between their faith and their friends. (29%)
  • Church is like a country club, only for insiders. (22%)

6. The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

TWW has seen this in action. There are some who have emailed us asking us to get rid of those who are questioning the faith. We have seen occasional bouts of rudeness and arrogance directed towards those who express doubt.

It seems out young people have picked up on this. Apparently they do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense to them.

  • I am not able to ask my most pressing life’s questions in church. (36%)
  • I have significant doubts about my faith. (23%)
  • Faith does not help me with depression or other emotional problems. (18%)

What is even more disconcerting, according to Kinnaman, is that some leaders ignore the concerns of this age group because they feel this disconnect will end when they get married and have kids. However, there is a dramatic shift occurring in our culture and this assumption is increasingly being called into question.

Interestingly, Kinnaman points out that far too many churches adhere to a top down, hierarchal approach to all ministries. He posits that we need to cultivate a a team of believers that span the generations. In other words, these young people need to be involved on teams with adults, allowing them to have ownership in the life of the church.

Yet, as this writer sees the faith, the current church trends seem to be locked into promoting an authority based patriarchy which marginalizes “important” decisions in the church to well-connected men who exist to support the agenda of an increasingly isolated, authoritative and anointed leadership. My guess is that this sort of solution will not gain traction in certain circles. I am sure that their "research" will show something different.

Finally, there used to be a show emceed by Art Linkletter called Kids Say the Darndest Things. The kids would say amusing things about their perceptions of life. Well, the Barna Group just pulled an Art Linkletter on the church. Unfortunately, the news from our kids is not amusing. Is the church listening?

I have provided a very funny video from Art Linkletter’s show. For those of you who are interested, around minute 4, the children start talking about Adam and Eve. I had me a good laugh. Hope you do as well.




Lydia's Corner: 2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11 Romans 7:1-13 Psalm 17:1-15 Proverbs 19:22-23


The Barna Group Channels Art Linkletter: Why Young People Are Deserting the Church — 153 Comments

  1. The term “generation gap” is very out of date, and yet, it seems very applicable to this post.

    I think it’s VERY hard for kids who’ve been raised in super-strict evangelical/charismatic and fundamentalist environments. (More so over the past couple of decades, with so many conflating religion and politics.) I think younger people who are disillusioned have every right to be so… questioning was not on the table in their churches, and in most homes.

    So sad.

  2. From my limited experience as a mid-20’s person at a Baptist church that’s conservative evangelical though not fundamentalist, many are aware of the number of young people leaving the faith. However, they think that the solution is *more* indoctrination into 6-day creationist arguments, not less of the same. It’s notable that they seem to be aware of the {ahem} genesis of the problem; they just seem unwilling to consider that their solution might be supremely unhelpful.

    On a personal note, two things were in my favor when I went to college: firstly, I studied engineering, where no one cared what we thought about origins (not necessarily true at other colleges, I suspect). Secondly, I tired of the Baptist churches by the school, and went with some friends to a nice PCUSA congregation that had a “Collegiate Forum” where questions were ok. For a period, they had a retired physicist teach about the evidence for God’s hand in the fine tuning of the universe, as shown by the [results of] … the big bang.

    Coming back home from that – to borrow a phrase – “open & accepting” atmosphere, it’s hard to reason with those who think that to stop the bleeding on their finger, they should cut off their hand completely. While I’m saddened by the prospect of even more young people from my own church leaving the faith, I’m glad that Ken Ham and friends are unintentionally giving Biologos, Hugh Ross, etc. even more exposure. As some famous person said, any publicity is good publicity, right? : )

  3. Josh

    I am batting a 1000 tonight with comments. Yours is excellent. Thank you for telling some of quiet YE observers your story. I am so glad you found such a college group. I, too, was blessed in my early years as a Christian, going to churches that taught me to think. One of those churches, Park St Church, has endorsed the Biologos site.

    You are correct. The AIG group thinks they just need to teach harder. However, it does little good. As these kids get involved with real science, they find out the truth.

    Keep speaking the truth. We are all making small gains every day.

  4. The gay issue is much bigger for our youth than most of the church is willing to accept.

    The truth that one can clearly find Bible verses condemning being gay just doesn’t matter as much as knowing sincerely loving devout Christian kids, who much to their horror, started experiencing same sex attraction and couldn’t shake it. When faced with the reality of people they grew up with, love and respect telling them they have prayed and been to counseling and worked at change for years, and it just doesn’t go away, they believe their friends.

    You know, there is Biblical support for slavery, and 150 years ago that issue split whole denominations. When people chose what to them was “the Bible” over the hearts of flesh and blood people, they too were assured that they were just being true to Scripture.

    I read a line on another Christian blog about divorce, but it wasn’t “how does a person become so hurt and hopeless that even losing the support and respect of the Christian community is not worth the pain of enduring a painful marriage?”. Nope, the questions was “why are these people unfaithful to the institution of marriage?”

    Jesus cared for people above everything. Our kids see that people are secondary to doctrine in our churches. They know that isn’t right, and we should see it too. But we don’t, because it strokes our pride to be right.

    On a side note, didn’t that Barna study also point out that the greatest group leaving the church and/or cutting back on participation was us baby boomers?

  5. Heirarchical patriarchy really is one of the main problems. In addition to the above, its restriction of women portrays God as One who arbitrarily subordinates half the human race to the other half. “His ways are higher than our ways” comes across hollow when what it really means is, “we know this looks like total injustice by a God of injustice, but don’t dare question us on this.”

  6. There are certain truths that the church cannot sway from. 1. Christ is the only way to God. Christ is the only way to heaven. Christ alone is the only way. 2. The Bible is the word of God. It is the truth. 3. Certain things are sin such as homosexuality. We are to love those who are homosexual, we are to aid those who struggle, but homosexuality is a sin against God. 4. Sin is what Christ died for. Our sin. When we have Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are justified because of what He did on the cross, not what we do, but we are also more aware of our sin, not less aware. Sin that is intentional over and over again affects our relationship with God and Christ is the only way to break from that sin.

    If young people are leaving because they don’t want to deal with their sin, then that would be a matter of prayer, but the church cannot OK sin.

    As for the young earth, old earth discussion, one can believe in the Old earth and still be a born again Christian as it is Christ alone, not perfect doctrine that brings salvation.

    Doctrine is important however, as we grow in Christ. What one’s doctrine is determines how one will live and interpret, view, scripture.

  7. Are they leaving the faith or leaving the church, ie: an organized local church?

    If they are leaving a local church, it may just be because they see through the hierarchical or legalistic nonsense. If they are leaving the faith, maybe it is because they don’t know Jesus.

  8. Paul
    In other Barna studies, it appears that the majority of the unchurched actually believe in Jesus.They just don’t like his followers.

  9. Paul,
    Your Oct 16 5:59 AM comment is very insighful. (Maybe I just think so because it’s exactly what I thought when reading this article.) When people leave the institutional church it may be that their faith is strong and they just don’t see what goes on around them in churches to have much to do with a vital relationship with God through Christ. When people leave the faith, we ought not to be too quick to assume that the reasons they self report are accurate.

    I have no doubt that many young people who abandon their profession of faith in Christ will claim (and may even be completely convinced in their own minds) that they did so because of being taught bad science in churches, etc. But I also have no doubt that no one who has been born of God ever completely and utterly loses their faith, since it is an eternal gift from God, not something initiated or maintained merely by their own effort or will.

    The truth (unappealing as it may sound) is that anyone who abandons Jesus, whatever excuse they may provide, never knew Jesus. Ultimately people to walk away from the faith because they are unwilling to surrender to Christ as Lord; any other reason they state is an excuse, though they may be convinced they can blame someone else.

    It is only human arrogance to think otherwise.

  10. Held
    There are far too many people who shut their eyes to the reasons that people are leaving the church. And I, for one, know that people are leaving over the creationism issue. The numbers seem to indicate that there are a fair number of people who are sitting out church while still believing. We have had many visit this blog. The church today has gotten itself into a bit of a pickle. it emphasizes secondary doctrine as “correct,” driving away the faithful. You should read the emails that I get. I agree, they have not left the faith but they are not engaged in the life of the church.

  11. Yes, there are many reasons people leave the church, including bad teachings on science and the other reasons Barna provided. But leaving the church is not the same thing as leaving the faith.

    Those who specifically and intentionally deny faith in Jesus and remain in a state of unbelief may claim and think they rejected the faith because of young earth teachings, but that doesn’t mean their thinking and claims are accurate. The human capacity for self-deception is boundless.

    We should have compassion on any unbeliever (whether they once professed to be a believer or not), as those who are outside of Christ and missing the blessings of knowing him. But we shouldn’t allow anyone to place blame for their unbelief on anyone but themselves.

  12. Loved the video. Don’t know know if the future Mrs Duggar wanting to be a nun, or the comparison of being sent to Hell with being transferred to LA was my favorite.

  13. Debbie

    It is the practice of homosexuality that is a sin against God. I know some celibate homosexuals who have not been able to overcome their same sex attraction but have decided to live chastely. However, homosexual sin is sometimes treated as a prime directive sin. We point fingers and act like we are somehow not tempted with our own sins. For example, the divorce rate in the church is higher than the divorce rate o atheists. We post evangelicals are a funny lot. We have good sins (gluttony) and the worst sins (homosexuality, egalitarianism).

    The issues of young people leaving the church do not seem to hinge on the fact that they want to live sinful lives. It is their inability to get answers to their questions. You are very blessed. You are in a church that has a wonderful pastor who openly and lovingly discusses difficult issues. I used to believe that all churches were like that until I landed myself in a situation that forever changed my perspective. So many people struggle to find a church like yours. I needed to go through a trial to understand the pain that many feel in today’s churches.

    Doctrine in your church would be a delight to study. I bet that disagreements in doctrine are met with interesting discussion. In many churches, we do not see such camaraderie.

    Good to hear from you, btw. Hope all is well.

  14. Held
    I want to challenge you on this point. “But we shouldn’t allow anyone to place blame for their unbelief on anyone but themselves.” I know of a woman who, as a child, was routinely beaten, horribly, by her father who told her he was doing this in the name of jesus. To this day, she has a post traumatic response whenever she hears the name of Jesus. So, is this a willful disobedience? Was it caused by others?

  15. Kristn
    That is an insightful comment. “His ways are higher than our ways” comes across hollow when what it really means is, “we know this looks like total injustice by a God of injustice, but don’t dare question us on this.”

    In fact, many Christians do not want to be questioned.They act like jerks to those trying to figure things out. Then, when such seekers become atheists, the “sanctified” say
    Well, they didn’t want to believe in the first place. It is their fault.” few Christians are willing to take the rap for being a terrible, awful witness for the Lord.

  16. Dee: I haven’t always been at the church I am now. For 35 years of my life I was raised in an Independent Fundamentalist church. This is something I wrote about extensively when I was blogging and on certain areas I do see your point, such as in the beating, and even divorce is something I would not always say the Bible teaches is sinful as it depends on the reason. Adultry and beatings or emotional abuse would certainly be some of the reasons to leave.

    But the Bible says in Proverbs 23:7 “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” Christ repeatedly says that if we hate we murder, one is not to just not committ adultry but to not lust, don’t just steal, but don’tcovet, etc. So it’s what is in our thoughts, our heart that can also be sin, not just the act. I think we know this from pedophiles. It’s not just the act, but the thought. Sin is a little more than you are making it to be if I read you correctly. And yes, we are all tempted, we struggle, but it’s our hearts that God is interested in. It’s what needs changed and that can be done only through seeing our sin for what it is and turning to Christ for a way of escape.

    Maybe this is what you mean by your homosexual friends. To simply be celebate is not enough according to scripture. And the church needs to stand firm on sin while being their to guide and help with the truth of scripture. That is offensive to some but the church has to or be in sin iteself and defeat the purpose of the church which is to be healing yes, but not to condone. To give truth.

    As for Old earth, young earth issue, this is where Fundamentalists get it wrong as there are many Old earthers who would affirm the scriptures as true. As you say, it’s something most churches are weak on in taking a non-Salvic doctrine and raising it to salvic. But I don’t know that will change. Ever. The answer is not to leave the church, but to find a church such as the one I now attend. They are out there, and quite a few of them too.

  17. I stress this because we were never meant to be Lone Ranger Christians, and no matter what people say about being churchless and able to maintain their level of Spiritual growth, it’s just not going to happen. The church is maintained by God to keep on just as He has the Bible. People fail, God does not. He will lead them supernaturally with His power to find the right church where they can grow. But…if they want acceptance of their sin,that just can’t be.

  18. You mention that we have pet sin, such as homosexuality. Yes that is true, but we also realize our own sin and because we are in Christ, because of the new creation we are that Paul speaks of, we do not want to be in sin. That is why John 3:16 is so important.

  19. “But the Bible says in Proverbs 23:7 “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” Christ repeatedly says that if we hate we murder, one is not to just not committ adultry but to not lust, don’t just steal, but don’tcovet, etc. So it’s what is in our thoughts, our heart that can also be sin, not just the act. I think we know this from pedophiles. It’s not just the act, but the thought. Sin is a little more than you are making it to be if I read you correctly. And yes, we are all tempted, we struggle, but it’s our hearts that God is interested in. It’s what needs changed and that can be done only through seeing our sin for what it is and turning to Christ for a way of escape.”

    Debbie, I would certainly agree that sin is a matter of the heart/will and not just a matter of behavior. But I also contend that emotions and attractions are not in themselves sin. It’s what we decide to do with them that can become sin. I am not sinning if I am attracted to another man than my husband, for instance. I am sinning if I permit that attraction to become degraded into lust.

  20. Our church does practice Biblical church discipline when necessary. But…we also rally around the person being disciplined. We do not turn our backs on them.

  21. Kristen: I would disagree. There are safeguards for such a thing not to happen. Are we forgivin? Yes. Because of who we are in Christ. But to be attracted is sin, it’s wrong, and it’s damaging to a marriage.

  22. Debbie
    I am going out for the rest of the day. I will try to respond to your comment but, for now, I respectfully disagree with you. All of us, no matter how much we try, deal day in and day out with the consequences of the fall. And, for some, certain pain will never go away. Paul himself dealt with it-his thorn in his side. I believe that sometimes we mistake positional holiness for practical holiness. I believe that homosexuality is complex issue. Each of us has a cross to bear. Perhaps you are a bit further along in your Christian walk than I am. I still have bouts of anger, frustration, doubt, sinful urges, etc. I try to bring them all under the grace of Jesus. But, until the day I die I will struggle with areas of my life. And I believe, for Jesus, that is enough. It is the “want to” that is important.

    Homosexuality is a complex issue and many evangelicals do believe that being celibate is dealing sacrificially with the issue. Do you think that alcoholics, who still feel the urge to drink, yet abstain, are doing a good thing or are they still trapped by their sin? I know many wonderful Christians who must fight this battle each day.

    Gotta go. More tomorrow.

  23. Debbie

    Every man you know has been attracted to another woman besides his wife. He fights the urge, but it is there.

  24. Dee,
    What some do in the name of their faith is horrible and inexcusable, and it is completely understandable that someone’s sinful behavior would create emotional and psychological barriers in those who have been harmed by that behavior. A person who creates stumbling blocks for another will have to answer to God, who says some harsh things about such people.

    Nonetheless, every person stands before God on their own, with no excuse for their sin of unbelief.

    There are some who experience nightmarish things, and through them come to faith in God, or develop a faith that is deeper than ever. There are others whose experiences drive them away from God — and those experiences need not be horrific, they could be more insidious things like legalism, or bad doctrine that lifts secondary matters to primary importance.

    It’s the same in other areas besides faith. One person is born into poverty and disadvantage, but through hard work, self-reliance, and determination makes a better life for herself and her children. Another person in those same circumstances spends her life in bondage to her circumstances and blames everyone and everything for her situation, feels entitled to assistance for others, and never attempts positive changes in her life. Both people have experienced genuine disadvantage and face many obstacles, but ultimately it was their own choices and responses to their experiences that made the difference.

    So, yes, I say that we shouldn’t allow anyone to place blame for their unbelief on anyone but themselves. We should love them and have sympathy for whatever experiences led them to choose unbelief over belief, but ultimately that is still a choice they have made and for which they are accountable before God, and they need to be told this unpleasant truth, with all gentleness and compassion. Allowing them to lay blame on others rather than showing them the truth on which they must act is irresponsible and cruel.

  25. Wow — an entire post with 25 comments and not a single mention of patriarchy or complementarianism!!!

  26. Young people are leaving church for the reasons above.

    Why are men leaving the church?
    How do you get men back in church?

    I don’t know.

    But I’m getting really, really tired of men blaming women and the feminization of church and society.
    [replace the DOT with an actual . ]

    I like the fact that you put up an actual study for the young people issue.
    You can only find real solutions when you search out the real reasons and not just come up with reasons base on your own fear and prejudice.

  27. I’ve noticed that many evangelicals always gravitate toward the issue of sexual orientation. Why is it such a big deal? Why are infractions of a sekshull nature always the most egregious in conservative American Protestantism?

    And yet, some church investment portfolios that exacerbate untold misery and suffering in the third world don’t even get a batted eyelash amongst conservative evangelicals. Why is that?

  28. My church has had a number of sermons that are aimed at telling people that they should join a local church and get involved. Sadly, his scriptural evidence for this seems very limited to me. Or is this sad? I find that fellowship with other Christians is much more important to me than the services – sermons are seldom very interesting, often contain “professional lies”, the music (yes I know I am not supposed to complain about the music – I am told this in church after church from the pulpit) is often poor poetry, meaning nothing, sung too loud and with too much repetition. At this point one of the main reasons to go is for communion. So what is wrong with those people who only attend church to go to Sunday School – assuming they can find a good one?

  29. Muff–

    Perhaps it’s the grown-up version of “hmmm, they’re in the in-crowd, I don’t seem to be, but at least I’m not a total loser; but just in case someone suspects I might be a total loser, I’ll just sort of hang around near the in-crowd. And then when a total loser walks by, that’s when I’ll make my move and stand right next to the in-crowd so I can join them in whatever condescending look they’re going to give the loser, just to reinforce the fact that THEY are total losers and WE aren’t.”

    “Married” is the badge of the in-crowd in “church”. “Married with children” is the platinum version. Someone for whom these options are not available is most obviously not part of the in-crowd. In fact, the farther one gets from the idealized picture of the nuclear family, the farther their place of belonging edges out into the hinterlands of the out-crowd.

    For so-called grown-ups in church, shining the light of attention on things of a sekshull nature is a quick way to identify the in-crowd from the out-crowd. It is simply the most efficient way to confirm one’s place & stature amongst the in-crowd, standing tall and proud alongside them, while putting maximum distance between oneself and the out-crowd.

    (I absolutely hate using the words loser and total loser — & i want to make it very clear that I’m only speaking figuratively, to describe what I see as emotional immaturity on the part of many christians.)

  30. Dee, I’m not sure I get your question. One person’s lack of compassion does not absolve another person’s lack of faith. God is never lacking in compassion, but he still requires faith.

  31. Mara said:

    “But I’m getting really, really tired of men blaming women and the feminization of church and society.”

    Ditto, Mara! This afternoon I listened to two more talks given at the SWBTS Conference on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Conference, and I am so disgusted!

  32. Hi, Eagle.

    You said, “Faith is shallow. Many Christinas have a shallow approach to life. i had situations and circumstances in my job and in life that my faith couldn’t provide answers for or help. Why is that?”

    I completely concur. There are, in fact, circumstances in life for which “bible answers” simply cannot help. When I was 18 i was in a moped accident with severe head injuries. I’m tellin’ you, such things as

    “the joy of the lord is your strength”,

    “all things work out for good…”,

    “…& the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”

    …could not touch the depression & emotional devastation over many years that resulted.

    Boy, was I surprised. I was so surprised to find out that all the sweet stories i had heard in sunday school and church were entirely irrelevant to my circumstances. The knowledge I had gleaned from a lifetime in church did not work.

    Sure, had I DIED in the accident it would have been absoLUTELY relevant and would have worked. But I didn’t — I lived.

    And a lifetime of church had provided me with nothing powerful or real for living life now.

    The point that is quickly coming to the surface here is that the sum total of every sermon, sunday school class, and bible study i ever heard provided me with nothing — NADA — to get me through living life when it becomes hellish.

    You asked “why is that?” I think the focus has become intellectual, philosphical, conceptual — keeping the mysteries of an unseen God and the spiritual realm in a safe intellectual box with the label “reserved for the afterlife”. And sure, we hear about all kinds of shoulds and shouldn’ts for keeping the code. That’s very easy to talk about, very easy to keep in our intellectual control.

    But what about power…. raw power…. for the here and now.

    Never heard anything like that in all my growing up years in church.

  33. Josh UNITED STATES on Fri, Oct 14 2011 at 09:41 pm

    From my limited experience as a mid-20′s person at a Baptist church that’s conservative evangelical though not fundamentalist, many are aware of the number of young people leaving the faith. However, they think that the solution is *more* indoctrination into 6-day creationist arguments, not less of the same. — Josh, 0941 hrs 14 Oct 2011

    The Soviet Union tried the same solution when the cracks appeared in their system, only they called it “Increasing Political Consciousness”. As the system cracked worse and worse, they Increased their Solution until all schools and media in the USSR Increased Political Consciousness 24/7/365 while everything still fell apart.

  34. “they think that the solution is *more* indoctrination into 6-day creationist arguments…”

    Yeah, those pesky Bible verses in Genesis.
    We should just re-write them to better “engage” our culture.

  35. Paul, or maybe we should stop trying to make those verses in Genesis say more than they were intended to say, or elevating secondary doctrines to primary importance. As I said to Dee, no one has an excuse for their unbelief. But neither does anyone have an excuse for being someone’s stumbling block.

  36. me
    I believe Sunday school classes are the best way to find people that I really like 😉
    (Sorry folks, this is a personal response)

  37. Paul

    I know exactly what you mean. I never could understand how people could not see those verses clearly indicate an OE.

  38. Held
    I was a public health nurse for years. i do believe that severe abuse can contribute to a person’s inability to believe. I also believe that the church has not done its job in this area.

  39. Eagle
    Thank you for your kind words. But, in fact, I think we learn more from you than you do from us. Your willingness to share the pain that you underwent at the hands of the church. Your words serve as a wakeup call. Way too many Christians look at people who walk away from the church and blame them. I look at people who walk away and look at what i could have done differently to make a difference.

    Just know that there are some Christians who really do care what happened to you and hope that you will one day find peace, once again, in a God who loves you, even if his people are not so hot at showing it.

  40. Attraction is not a sin. Sin comes in when one thinks about how one could manage to get in bed with another or considers what that might be like. It is the planning, desiring, etc. that is referenced in the “as one thinks”. I admire the sunset, the starry sky, and the forest, but that is not sin, unless I am plotting how to get control thereof. So too, I can admire people and animals without being sexually involved in my thoughts. I can see and say that a man is handsome or a woman is beautiful (or if young, cute) without it being a sexual issue.

  41. Elastigirl

    I believe the church has really screwed up in the emphasis on the family unit to the exclusion of those who do not fit their preferred subgroup. We are a family, brothers and sisters. But we form little cliques that represent our preferred subgroup. And we all lose but we don’t realize it.

  42. I think there are young people who do not wish to be called Christian or to associate with those who are, because of some of the idiocy coming out of organizations and people known as Christians. I know at least one who worships on his own, goes to church when visiting with family, and knows his Bible better than 90 percent of the pew sitters, yet refuses to regularly attend any church or be associated with people who are called Christians because of the behavior of so many.

  43. Focusing on gay people and demonizing them is a very convenient way to deflect concern about other very real things:

    – abuse in marriage (emotional, physical and sexual)

    – child abuse (ditto)

    – greed (greed seems to be “good,” or at least, pretty well-accepted since the early 80s, though it’s not called that)

    – death, bereavement (whether due to the death of a loved one, an accident like Elastigirl’s, etc.)

    – chronic illness

    – acknowledging that life is hard, period

    – avoiding those who are dealing with real-life difficulties due to age, disability, poverty, etc. etc. etc.

    It’s all too easy to put the “I have a social conscience!” thing into the “short-term missions” compartment and use it as an excuse to ignore – or even vilify – those who have needs who are right in front of us, in the pew with us.

    (I won’t go into my reasons for that last ‘graph, but let’s just say I have some practical experience with it.)

  44. Hello Debbie K. and Dee.

    This post has obviously hit a nerve for all of us. Fabulously honest discussion.

    Dee, you mention those being homosexual living celibate lives; living chaste lives. Debbie, you mention that that is not enough, and that people in the church are needed to guide and help with truth in scripture.

    I appreciate your sincerity and kindess. But these statements strike me as glib — too nice and neat, for something as complex as I know you believe this issue to be.

    What weighs on me is the reality for such individuals —

    to never know the comfort of falling asleep in the arms of the one they love, to never have the resource of intimacy in unconditional love with skin on, the strength of coming home to longterm companionship born out of intimacy & ending a hard day & starting a new one with such intimate companionship…

    When christians make such settled and summed up statements with ease, do we realize the ramifications of what we’re saying???

    Regardless of the degrees of truth or untruth in these statements, they are cruel.

    Debbie and Dee, you are not cruel. But such statements have devastating implications.

  45. Elastigirl: amen!!!

    Eagle: McLean Bible. so very glad I never went there… and yes, I believe what you’re saying, based on other things that I heard when I lived in the area.

  46. I am not by any means minimizing anyone’s pain or struggles. It’s hard to convey on a blog comment section the entire picture. My own story is one filled with years of pain and abuse by the church I attended before Emmanuel. I am saying that we were not meant to go through the Christian life alone. We do need the church. God has healed me entirely of my pain and it was through Wade Burleson and the members of Emmanuel Baptist that God used to heal me. There are many such churches out there.

    No church is going to be perfect. We are there. I’m sure you have heard this before, but it’s true. As for sin, some churches have protected and minimized sin on leaders in the church, and this has been exposed by myself, Wade and this blog several times. There are some, I would say many churches that are corrupt. That is a concern of mine as Dee and Deb know as well as the abuse of those who would expose it.

    I am very sensitive to those who have been hurt by the church, but my point is that there is also healing. We can’t nor are we supposed to be lone ranger Christians. When one feels ready, one should be praying to find the right local church. They are out there. I prayed I found one of the best in my opinion.

    I can tell you from scripture and from personal experience that crying out to God in the midst of pain is crucial. To keep crying out and telling God of the pain for as long as it takes. He never deserts us. Never. I asked God to give me a relationship with him like David in the Psalms had with him and he answered my prayer over and over again. I no longer feel the abuse of the past. I am totally healed and emotionally healthy. In fact I no longer allow myself to be abused. I am no longer a victim.(2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Hebrews 4:16).

    As for the commenter who said attraction is not sin, again I would disagree. There is a world of difference between noticing that someone is attractive and being attracted to them. If one is single, no it’s not sin. But for the married or those struggling with the gay life it is sin.


    Debbie K. made my point for me! Right there in between “Christ is the only way” and “Christ died for our sin” is the idea that having same sex attractions is THE VILEST of sin! Castigating homosexuality is listed as an essential of the faith.

    Your version of Christianity is dying.

    The version where Jesus reconciled the world to God, not counting men’s trespasses against them (the apostle Paul’s words, not mine) is the gospel that will endure.

    People decided to translate the bible and Bible history the way they have because gay people are an easy target. They are “not me” for most of us. Their experience of life is “not my problem” for most of us. That’s why Debbie K. and her fellows make castigating homosexual behavior an essential of the faith.

    And you know what? It’s irrelevant. She can yell and condemn till her face falls off, and it won’t make one bit of difference in any positive way. It will reinforce that the command of Christ to love- “love one another as I have loved you” ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you” “love your enemies and do them good”- is not taken seriously at all by most Christians.

    I challenge everyone reading here to listen to the free promo and buy the DVD if you can afford it. What have you go to lose from listening to the experiences of Christian youth raised in Christian homes who unwillingly found themselves smack dab in the middle of an issue they had no desire to ever address?

    Be careful that what you practice is not Bibliolatry. I choose to be a disciple of Jesus, not of any preacher or denomination or doctrine. If all the law and prophets are summed up the command to love, it’s all I need to focus on.

    I won’t dispute the whole issue here, but I will reassert my original contention: a case can be made that the Bible allows slavery. Does that make it acceptable in light of Christ’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves? A case can be made from the Bible that unborn children are not on a par with fully functioning adults. Does that make abortion okay? A case can be made from the Bible that polyester blends are an abomination to God. Should we boycott that product as an essential of the faith? A case can be made for stoning adulterers, unruly teenagers and Hindus. Jesus never advocated anything like it, but it’s there in the law.

    People over doctrine? Or doctrine over people? THAT is the question. 🙂

  48. Debbie and Dee, you are not cruel. But such statements have devastating implications

    Which statements? I’m seriously asking.

    Nemo:I am not focusing on the gay lifestyle. It was in the OP post which is why I focused on it, no other reason. The other things you mentioned are a problem as well. God takes all sin seriously. So should we.

  49. Hi, Debbie K,

    The statements:

    “Dee, you mention those being homosexual living celibate lives; living chaste lives. Debbie, you mention that that is not enough, and that people in the church are needed to guide and help with truth in scripture.”

  50. Dee, all I’m saying is that everyone bears responsibility for the choices they make, regardless of the circumstances that led them to make those choices. You appear to be focusing on the responsibility of those who did wrong that caused someone to stumble. That’s perfectly fine, and needs to be addressed. But it isn’t an either/or; it is a both/and. One person’s wrong does not justify another person’s wrong. Yes, it is harder for someone who has experienced abuse at the hand of a Christian to trust that Christian’s God, and we should care deeply about the difficulty they face. But we cannot simply tell them they have no responsibility to believe, and we should not fail to tell them that God requires that they believe. As I said, that would be irresponsible and cruel.

  51. Elastigirl and shadowspring, you both make very good points about the practical implications (and difficulties) involved in demanding abstinence from those with same sex attraction, and about the primacy of demonstrating love to them. But I have one question — what does it mean to show someone love in this context? Is genuine love seen primarily in expressing compassion and acceptance and helping people achieve what they want, or is it seen primarily in seeking what is in their best interest and helping them achieve what God wants for them? I’m sincerely interested in how either of you see this.

  52. Part of the problem (imo) is the tendency to label all the aspects of what it is to be human – especially whatever causes us to suffer – as “sin.”

    (See bereavement and grief, for example – also sexual attraction that isn’t even wanted by many who experience it, regardless of their sexual orientation.)

    I’m being kind of cryptic, I guess, but I am just not up for getting into an argument about views on homosexuality and LGBT people.

  53. numo,

    Cryptic or not, many of us out here feel the same way. LGBT are no longer black & white issues for many of us. I might as well come right out and say it, I couldn’t care less about a person’s sexual orientation, I’m far more concerned about the content of their character, and I will continue to treat them the way I would want to be treated.

  54. Finding someone is attractive is the same thing as being attracted to someone. And it is not the same thing as having a sexual desire for them. The former is NOT SIN, but focusing on the latter is. Attraction can mean a lot of different things, including that someone would be an interesting partner for conversation, or to work with. It does not necessarily mean anything sexual. I can appreciate that a woman is beautiful without having a desire to have a sexual relationship with her. Similarly, I can observe that a man is handsome and I would NEVER think of a man as a possible sexual partner. The last time I remarked about a man being attractive, it motivated me to support his campaign for office, for his attractiveness included his obvious intellect and his use of that to develop a platform that was well-thought and would improve governance over the then incumbent. Was that a sin on my part???

  55. Held

    What role does mental health play in the ability of the person being able to take responsibility for his/her decisions? PTSD, schizophrenia, Borderline personality disorder, etc may prevent people from responding to a normal recitation of the Gospel. It is also cruel to use standard methods for witnessing that can cause a person more harm. Such circumstances require thoughtfulness and gentle approaches.

    I would never tell anyone that they have no responsibility to believe. I was merely challenging glib techniques for sharing the faith. Jesus, for example, did not first witness to the man who had demons. He healed him so that the man could hear. Sometimes, our witness may be a longterm commitment to a person who is in pain, loving and supporting them before they can understand.

  56. Eagle

    That is bizarre. But, remember, if you throw Christianity out, you get rid of me. And I kind of want to hang around. 😉

  57. Elastigirl, Muff, Numo, Shadowspring, Eagle, Arce et al

    I want you to know that I have been thinking about your comments and i would like to answer them in the form of a post tomorrow. You all made such good points and a brief response from me would look shallow, as if I am blowing off your thoughts. I want to address the issues of fairness, the kingdom and the world. I hope to do it in a way that demonstrates that I get it. Sometimes, I think it is semantics that are to blame and defining what we mean becomes very important. So, tomorrow, I will open up my heart and share with you all some of my thoughts that I have wrestled with over the years.

    Thank you for sharing your concerns in such an open and thoughtful manner.Today i got an email from a person defending her Christian idol who has taught her so much about the Bible. This well taught individual called me, and I quote, an “idiot” along with a few other choice words. As I shook my head, I thought of all of you and your kind manner, even when you disagree. You all have much to teach some of the “good” Christians out there.

  58. Held writes:

    “But I have one question — what does it mean to show someone love in this context? Is genuine love seen primarily in expressing compassion and acceptance and helping people achieve what they want, or is it seen primarily in seeking what is in their best interest and helping them achieve what God wants for them? I’m sincerely interested in how either of you see this.”

    I do believe that expressing compassion and acceptance is a key component of love. However, the rest of that sentence is nonsensical to me.

    I just finished watching Through My Eyes, stories of evangelical youth who, much to their horror, are only attracted to same gender people. They didn’t WANT to be gay. They very much WANTED and expected to be straight. Several of them wen through various counseling programs, ex-gay residential treatment programs, trying to get what they WANTED, which was to BE STRAIGHT. No one can help them get that, apparently.

    It very much reminds me of going to charismatic churches, being told that I could/would/should be healed of asthma if I only trusted Christ to heal me. My mom took me to a Kathryn Kuhlman seminar, and I remember praying desperately over and over, concentrating with all my might, pick me Jesus. Change me. Heal me. I empathize very much with people being told that their miracle will come if they just believe hard enough. Then, when nothing changes, you are left wondering why. Why don’t you love God? Do you want me this way? Did I not pray hard enough? Years later I had a bad car accident, because I couldn’t breathe. I thought I could force God’s hand if I quit taking my medicine; that would prove I had faith in Jesus. I cried when they gave me medicine at the hospital, tears of shame because it showed I was not worthy/faithful/good enough to be healed.

    So, if you have the power to give them what they want, you have a supernatural gift no one else I know or have heard of possesses. And, as far as what God wants for them, what do you suppose that is?

    I think what God wants for them is what God wants for all of us, to know that He loves us, that everyone is precious to him, just as they are, that they are reconciled by the blood of Christ and presented holy and blameless before him in love. I think he wants them to rest in the truth that all they need to do is draw near to God, and he will draw near to them.

    I think they need to STOP hearing that they are wrong, intrinsically evil because the personality/humanity they were born with doesn’t fit the heterosexual standard.

    And beyond that, I think there is plenty of true evil in the world for the church to ostracize and demonize. Why not take a stand against slave trafficking? That’s the true meaning of the word in Revelations 22:15 that denotes no admittance to the kingdom of God. “Whoremonger” is the KJV translation, but even that is a mild word for a person who forces other people into sexual slavery, and it is happening all over the world and right here in America.

    What not preach loud and proud against violence? Forcible rape? Torture? Murder? Those are the obvious sins of Sodom; the gender of the intended victims is irrelevant.

    People just pick on gays because they haven’t taken the time to get to know a gay Christian. It is hard to do, because they sit in church and hear that they are damned and the worst of sinners, so if one of our youth discovers same-sex attraction, who are they going to tell? By our loud, proud anti-gay preaching, we make sure they will never feel safe enough to share about their pain.

    People used to think cancer was the judgement of God for some sin. It used to be that getting divorced meant you were immediately ostracized. Why? Because it’s easier to condemn than to understand.

    But if you can figure out how to truly give them what they want, if you can honestly grant them the gift of heterosexual attraction, then please do so. That would save us all a lot of pain.

  59. Eagle,

    You don’t have to throw everything out. Faith does not depend on OEC, YEC, inerrancy, sekshull orientation, or any other constructed belief system.

    I spent years in a fundagelical regime and have lived to repudiate most of it. The tsunami of real life so to speak rolled over me and through it all I have clung tenaciously to the essentials of the faith.

  60. Dee: You said “every man out there has been attracted to someone besides their wife. They fight the urge but it’s still there. ”

    Again I would disagree.There are many men who have not been attracted to anyone but their wife. Many women who have been attracted to no one but their husband. I will even go further and say that is simply not true. But, for those that do, and it does happen, there is John 3:16. It is sin.

    Christ said in Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”

  61. You want to hear something really outrageous. A few years back I was helping an old Bible study leader from McLean Bible move. He was in the orchestra of the church and scheduled to be married. The orchestra director or Bible study leader (I forgot which…) pulled him aside and spoke to him about sex. In the conversation the Bible study leader told him that when married he and his wife were to pray about sex. Pray about how to have sex and pray about which sexual positions to use. He was telling me this and talked about how it was the most creepy conversation he ever heard.

    That creeps me out on two levels.

    1) Ever heard of the phrase “Our Duty to The Party”? (Ref 1984 by G.Orwell)

    2) “Why is it that fundagelicals have to focus so much on what consenting adults do in their bedrooms?” Because stuff like this is the closest thing they can get to indulging in porn without breaking the rules. (Just like “Praying for So-and-So’s Sin” is a way to indulge malicious gossip without breaking the rules.)

    I suspect that Bible Study Leader had a pull towards porn and this was his way of indulging it while still being squeaky-clean — by having others “share their burden” in sexual detail. (And if you’re the next Anthony Comstock, well, why should THEY have all the fun doing all these fun erotic things *I* cannot because I’m Christian (TM)! I suspect there’s some of that dynamic in play — “I’m Not Allowed, So Why Should You Be?”)

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Fundagelicals are just as screwed-up sexually as everybody else, just in a very different direction. (And I say this having seen a LOT of sexual screw-ups during 20 years in-country in Furry Fandom.)

  62. “What not preach loud and proud against violence? Forcible rape? Torture? Murder? Those are the obvious sins of Sodom; the gender of the intended victims is irrelevant”

    But, according to your beliefs, they cannot help it. God loves those who do these things…. just as they are. I guess this means pedophiles, too.

  63. Hi, Dee. Thank you so much for going the distance to give a reply from the depths of the wrestlings of your heart. This is one issue where nothing else will do.

    I myself have been trying to reply to Held in a way that does justice to this multi=faceted & painful issue, & to my own perspective. Not easy. Still working on it.

    You’re great. Perhaps one day we can have that picnic with home-made pie that was touched on several posts ago. Either here in Ca. or in NC. If you’re ever out here, I could meet you in Yosemite for the day.

  64. One the most brillant man I know in the field of Christian Counseling pinned an idea of “locating” a person in terms of where they are in their faith and how they are being triangled. Most of what I am seeing about young people deserting church seems to be coming from a lack of proper mentoring and empowerment in essentials of a least having a trade to fall back on. One of the things that drives me nuts with what I was seeing in conservative circles in their squable on what counseling should be like is not really examining what compentent mentoring for teens a should look like and way too much.

  65. Something interesting Dee, I actually was sort of semi accepting of some old earth ideas until it hit me about plants/animals and their need of oxygen and carbon dioxide. In the element of time of space, God could have suspended it in the action of his creation where things could may have been much longer than they appear as well. In an interesting side remark, the early church did hold on to a reflection of the Jewish calendar as the AD/BC calendar was not developed until around the end of the fifth century. The Jewish calendar holds to a young age view.

  66. Held,

    Concerning your question: “Is genuine love seen primarily in expressing compassion and acceptance and helping people achieve what they want, or is it seen primarily in seeking what is in their best interest and helping them achieve what God wants for them?”

    I’ve been working on this off & one all day. Not easy.

    Hmmm “seeking what is in their best interest” makes me think of tough love, like what one would adopt if in a close relationship with a substance abuser. In such a situation, it is empirically clear what is in their best interest.

    To justify what “empirically clear what is in their best interest” means, I can qualify it with such things as:

    •keeps the person alive, physically healthy, emotionally and mentally healthy,

    •keeps their loved ones alive, physically healthy, emotionally and mentally healthy

    •fosters the person’s ability to care for themselves and their dependents (able to work, able to provide healty food for self and dependents, able to protect and nurture self and dependents)

    •promotes the person’s natural abilities and talents, so they have something that they uniquely can put back into the world during their lifetime instead of only consuming.

    These are clearly things that promote life, healthy living, community, hence the human race. Therefore, I assume that there is no argument that such things qualify as being “in a person’s best interest.” It’s not comprehensive list, just what came to mind at present.

    In additon, there are spiritual considerations. Where does a person stand in how they view God, Jesus, Holy Spirit. But I see this area as not a concrete one. People grow in God without ever going through the processes and steps that some christian groups prescribe. It’s not formulaic. God meets people where they’re at. He’s not bound or limited to agendas and processes that are the product of deductive reasoning.

    To seek what is in a person’s best interest (as a way to genuinely love a person), to me, is to go down a road that is fraught with opinion. Almost like meddling, getting too involved. Same with helping them achieve what God wants for them. My husband and I have been given very wrong advice where this is concerned. If we had heeded it, we would have gone down some very problematic roads that would have killed our relationship, among other things.

    Perhaps you were thinking in terms of the more basic things of what God wants, like being honest, having integrity, being kind, generous, not worrying, finding ways to commune with God, maintaining healthy relationships such as marriage, family, and friends.

    Perhaps you were thinking about the verses that portray homosexuality as contrary to God.

    At this point, let me say that I have reservations about that conclusion, based on a number of things I’ve observed and deep thinking done in response. However, I don’t see how I can continue here & now – I’ve said too much already (although I don’t see how I could have left anything out).

    But I did my darnedest to answer your question. I think I did well.

  67. As a church ‘leaver’ who didn’t escape until I was 31 years young, the answer is simple. All folk need to individuate and ‘break free’ psychologically from the perceived restraints of their parents/church/pastors etc.

    Young folk sense when an atmosphere of fear permeates a religious institution no matter how ‘freeing’ the ‘gospel’ proclaimed in it claims to be.

    Thankfully Divine Love pursues each of us through life whether in or out of religious institutions – it will ultimately have its benign Way with us all.

    You might want to have a wee look at my own story ‘The Prodigal Prophet’ to see where I’m coming from – I do speak from painful experience and not from theoretical brain storming.

  68. hello,

    This thread covers a lot of topics, but one thing that stands out as I read is that there is a certain naivete among the women of the blog as regards how the male sexual drive has been created. That naivete is shown by those that seem to think that mere visual attraction is the kind of thing Jesus was speaking of when he said “if a man lusts after a women in his heart”. “In his heart” are the critical words.

    (most) Men are involuntarily attracted, even aroused, simply by seeing an attractive woman, even more so a seductively dressed attractive woman. This is a biological response, he is not able to stop it from happening. What he is able to control is his response to it. This is the “in his heart”. A godly man can avert his gaze or try to deal with the issue some way that keeps his thoughts from fixing on what he has seen (provided the environment will allow for that)

    But any man with a normal sex drive will be attracted to a beautiful woman simply by seeing her. It is virtually instantaneous. So women who think their husband is never attracted to another women – well either his sex drive is not normal OR he defines ‘attracted to’ as something MORE than the normal visual attractive response a man experiences.

    So women need to understand, a godly Heterosexual man who is a good husband is a man who willfully fights these natural attractions and remains faithful to their wives in spite of them – not a person that simply doesn’t have them. This is to be praised. To be admired. To expect that they are simply never attracted to anyone but you is naive and harmful – for most men you are asking him to basically be something he is not physically, and for most men something he simply can’t be no matter how hard he tries. It encourages deception of a sort – and creates unnecessary insecurity for the wife. Better to simply be honest and faithful. I love my wife, I have chosen to spend my life with her, over all other women in the word and if I am attracted to another women visually I do not pursue that response, I remain faithful to her, I avoid situations where I might be tempted, and if I find myself in a situation that is trying to cross the line between biological response and actual lust, I get myself out of the situation. But it is silly to pretend a pretty girl is not attractive. I simply say in my mind “well yes, she is pretty, but so is my wife and I love HER.”

    As perhaps another way to point out the obvious, why do we suppose the word in our wedding vows is ‘forsaking’. Do we forsake what we do not want? No – we ‘forsake all others’ because there ARE others that might be attractive to us and we are vowing to chose this person and STAY with this person regardless of whether there are others out there we might be attracted to or even compatible with.

    Our society flaunts sexuality and idolizes physical beauty. This adds to the difficulty of being Godly in this area. So wives should pray for their husbands and do what they can to be attractive physically to aid him in dealing with that. But the man is also, and primarily, responsible to be faithful in spite of all the overt sexuality that is around him – and in spite of whatever physical limitations his wife might have. And to love his wife first and foremost for who she is, not her physical attributes. We men should also be reminded it is not hard in our world to make a personal idol out of female beauty. We are to have no other gods before Him.


  69. Zeta: I disagree. Christ was saying that anger equals murder, lust equals adultry. What you are giving is a world view and in my opinion is degrading to both men and women. Christ always pointed to himself as the answer. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We love what God loves and hate what God hates. That too is a sign of a truly born again Christian. We struggle, but we hate it not excuse it. This is where the true Biblical church comes in to aid in that struggle while not accepting the sin, but the person.

    That would also delete spouses with children, home, job who aren’t always going to be so attractive. Growing older would be left out as well. I am sorry, but I cannot agree with your statement.

  70. Zeta

    As always, awesome and thoughtful reply. I am on my way to a doctor’s appointment and hope to respond more in depth to these statements today. I think J. A. would also have a way t view this which juxtapositions very well with your comment. You must write your book!

  71. Debbie

    Attraction is not lust. Lust is focusing on the desire to have sexual relations with someone. One can be attracted to someone and not lust for them. I find many women attractive, but I do not have a sexual desire for them, nor do think about having sex with them, and contrary to what Zeta said, I do not have a biological physical response, aka sexual arousal, to a woman just because she is attractive. And my wife would allow that, in the 33 years she has known me, my sex drive has been normal for a man of my age.

    Lust is a consuming desire to have sexual relations with a person. It can also be a consuming desire to own or have something or experience something. That consuming desire makes that person, thing or experience an idol.

    Once I was asked to give an address to a convention and my host invited me to go with him to his “club” for dinner. I thought it was a country club or social club, but it was a “gentlemans” club and the waitresses were not sufficiently dressed to be on the street, and there were dancers in an even lesser state of dress and removing some of what they had on. When I realized what the environment was, I informed my host that I would not stay, walked out and got a cab back to my hotel. I can say that some of the women were certainly beautiful physical specimens, but I did not desire nor lust for them. I knew it was likely that I was losing a client in the process, but I also knew I did not belong there.

    again, attraction is not lust. Lust involves thinking having sex with the person, or thinking about how to get to a situation in which that could occur. It is not recognizing that a person is attractive.

    BTW, earlier in my life, I decided that there were some men with whom I would not associate. Men who say things about women suggesting that they would like to have sex with them based solely on their appearance. It is depersonalizing women to do so.

  72. “I do not have a biological physical response, aka sexual arousal, to a woman just because she is attractive.”

    Careful. I did not say ‘sexual arousal’ I said there was a biological response to an attractive woman. I would define the response I am speaking of as a precursor, something that if left unchecked would lead to what I think you refer to with the term.

    I was perhaps a bit vague, but then again, I was trying NOT to be gratuitous in my post. The issue is, when a pretty girl in a bikini walks by at the beach – we notice. And if we do not consciously avert our gaze our bodies will continue to respond. That initial response that pulls our gaze toward the girl in the bikini is what I am talking about, that response is biological and will lead to lust if an effort is not made to control it. That response is not itself what I believe Jesus refers to.


  73. It seems to me that evangelical culture has this unsettling tendency to paint men as Prisoners of Their Bodily Appetites – and women as having none.

    That’s so old – and so, so wrong.

    If anything, both Zeta’s and Arce’s recent comments show that there is probably more diversity within a given gender than most people would assume.

    And yes, people – of both genders – struggle with lust. In other words, “and women, too.” (Which is usually tacked on in the way that I just used it.) Women have never (imo) been the naive, childlike, sexless creatures that some Victorian literature makes them out to be (cf. Dora in “David Copperfield”). If we were, how in the world would the human race have survived this long?! 😉

  74. “It seems to me that evangelical culture has this unsettling tendency to paint men as Prisoners of Their Bodily Appetites…”

    And to paint women as the perpetrators.

    This is the reality of what a woman can experience.

  75. This: The version where Jesus reconciled the world to God, not counting men’s trespasses against them (the apostle Paul’s words, not mine) is the gospel that will endure.

    Powerful. Stopped my heart beat for a second.

    I would go on and on about how I disagree with Debbie and Held on both their many points. But having worked with many struggling homosexual and sexually addicted Christians for so long, Debbie has no idea even how, when, what, who and why people are even homosexual. Her main concern is them being responsible for their sin, their “attractions”. It’s people with statements and beliefs like that, and their lack of understanding on a very complex issue regarding the psychological, physiological, and sexual nature of people that make the jobs of ministries who WANT to minister to, i.e. LOVE and understand and support, those who are struggling VERY HARD.

    For every struggler, they have had to endure those types of statements from Christians almost forever, and sometimes, you see no hope in your ministry of love to such an individual, because you wonder if God is powerful enough to heal that person from the devastation and damage caused by other Christians, moreso, than society at large.

    I dont know what the worst part of being gay is, as I am not gay, but if I were, I’d think it would be Christianity and Christians. There would be no way I could be both gay and a Christian, at least not here in America, where people think they know fucking everything about the struggles of others. Excuse my French, but it makes me VERY mad–the crap people say like that and they have NO IDEA the implications of what they are saying. But they also have no idea of WHO God really is!

    It is my firm belief, from witnessing the experiences and trials of others, that not many people choose to be gay, yet many come into this world with those issues and struggles, and orientation already in place.
    The thing about commetns like Debbie’s is it doesn’t account for the following:

    -hermaphrodites (people born with both sexes)
    -hormonal physiology and genetic issues that contribute to sexual orientation and attractions
    -familial influences
    -external influences

    If people can be born straight, then people can be born gay. A person doesn’t “decide” to be straight, they just are, just as a person doesn’t “decide” to be turned on by those of the same sex, they just are.

    If people are born imperfectly and with issues, why can we born with all sorts of issues other than being gay? Are we saying that God, who allowed us to be born into a fallen world, created people with all sorts of struggles, issues, disorders and leanings yet he didn’t create anybody that woudl come into the world with same-sex attraction?

    Everything wrong in the world is a result of sin and the fall of man, but not everything is the result of a person’s individual sin or is some cause for something that person has done.

    Debbie posts her experience of healing and it’s a wonderful one. But her angle is that this is what I did, I did the right things, it worked. And so therefore, other people are NOT doing that. They aren’t crying out to God. If they are, they aren’t doing it long enough until he heals or fixes the issues.

    God doesn’t promise our complete healing this side of heaven. And many of the issues we struggle with will be there until we turn back to dust adn see him face to face when he shall wipe it all away. I’m glad Debbie’s issues went away and Jesus decided to heal her of her issue in the here and now, but Debbie can’t speak for everyone. And she certainly cannot speak for those who have also cried out to God and He has yet to answer, and may NOT answer or fulfill that need or issue until they leave this earth.

    I’m glad that God’s understanding is far beyond our own. And that his compassion for our issues is far beyond those who sit next to us in the pews. What Debbie describes as compassion adn understanding, I describe as assuming and ignorant tolerance. It comes with a smile and a prayer, but it truly has no knowledge or healing power of who God is in relation to broken people and people affected by the many things of being born into an imperfect world that not only affects our behavior, etc… but our biology, our DNA and many other aspects of being human that’s beyond our own knowledge and reason.

    I think it would benefit more Chrsitians to truly humblel themselves and learn how to really love others.

    If my brother and sister in Christ is attracted to the same sex and is struggling, the best I probably can do for them without effing up their minds is hug them, tell them I love them, and acknowledge that their struggle is beyond me and difficult to bear. I can also build relationship with them. Telling them that gay sex is a sin is redundant. They know that. But so is fornication. The fact that I woudlnt’ say that to them is not me abdicating my resopnsibility as a Christian to tell someone what sin is. Moreso, I need to help them to see Christ’s compassion, enduring love and hope for them, and the future they have in eternity. Love does cover a multitude of sin.

    It’s funny that these are the same people, like Eagle said, who will eat a hearty meal with others starving in their community. I met many of those people. Living on the Hill in their nice million dollar row houses. Driving their nice cars. Wearing their nice clothes. People wanna rail on gay people because it makes them feel like no sin they could ever commit could be worse than gay sex–but I think it a greater sin to falsely represent God in a way that causes peopel to turn away from the faith.

    I am truly sorry, from the bottom of my heart, for how I have treated those with same-sex attraction in my youth. It disgusts me. And I need forgiveness for that probably more than the actions of those who were my object of disgust and contempt.

  76. I meant to say that those people in thier nice homes etc… will eat a hearty meal WHILE there are others starving in their community. Not WITH.

    Other note: When Christ says that this equals murder, that equals adultery… The poster should probably study and get a handle on the literary devices being used to convey the message to the hearers, particularly, the hearers of that time. Surely, we know that being mad with someone or angry at them is not the same as murdering the person. Christ was trying to make a larger point there. If your’e going to quote that stuff, you should understand deeper the structure of the text, particularly, the original text and why it was written that way.

  77. Anonymous

    Surely you know that I don’t mean such a thing. I believe pedophiles should be locked up so they cannot harm others. Within the prison system there are chaplains to address the spiritual aspect of their crimes.

  78. Casey
    Let me challenge you on the oxygen thing. One thing i learned, when I had a crisis of faith many, many years ago, is that great theologians had thought of all of my objections and had answers. I recommend that you spend time at these various websites doing some reading on this particular issue.-Answers in Creation, Reasons to Believe, and Biologos.
    Think about it this way. The vast majority of scientists ,who are Christians, believe in an OE. Why? Do you think they haven’t thought of the issue you have just raised? They have and extensively.

  79. Zeta–

    Thank you. What you said was on point. And believe it or not, in fundyland and these particular churches where people think this way, it’s funny to see how the men act. It’s also funny to see how the women act. It all blends right in with the courtship culture, the marriage idol culture that these churches perpetrate, oh and let me not forget the unreasonable focus on sin culture.

    Debbie is two words from saying that the thoughts shouldn’t have even entered the persons mind. I had this crazy chick I was friends with tell me that over and over again about sin. “But noooo… the thought shouldn’t have even ever materialized and entered my mind.” It’s impossible to reason with unreasonable people like that. Yet, they think God wants them to measure up to that–to not even have those thoughts enter their minds.

    Your girl here is quite misinformed if she thinks there are many men and women who NEVER have an eye for anyone else. Many people I have met like that in these past two years are not only repressed weirdos, but they have issues, and oftimes, of a sexual nature. The problem is it that everyone else around them is on the same sh*t, so they dont notice. You can’t notice you’re a cow around a bunch of cows, when being a zebra is what you need to be because the lions are coming in to devour you and you need to get the hell outta there. They think it’s normal for a guy to say stuff like that. Me, I think, if he’s born a man and he’s anything near normal as far as his sexuality is concerned, then he is a liar. If not, if that be true about him, then something else ain’t right and he isn’t normal.

    I agree with Arce–not all men are going to be aroused instantly by other women, but in fact, some simply are and it does catch them off guard. It’s instantaneous for some and not for others. I dont believe that is sin. Like Arce said and I think you were saying too, it’s the focus, the constant lust that makes it sin.

    I’m a woman and yet, sometimes I see a man who makes my heart skip a beat or makes me break into a sweat. Sometiems I even feel dizzy. It just happens. I”m not always thinking about sleeping with him or anything, sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. But I dont have to be thinking about sex with him for that to happen–which is generously instantneous. I happen to be a woman with a pretty healthy drive and boys give me the goo-goo- ga-ga- eyes. I honestly like that about myself. It means I’m alive. If I marry, my husband will surely appreciate that and it will be reserved only for his enjoyment. But being a sexual creature and having biological responses to the other sex doesn’t make me a sinner for the response. Not to be too TMI here, but I have simply had an attractive man brush my arm or touch my hand, and it was enough to send chills through me. Am I sinning because of that response? How do you control that?

  80. Lastly, to add, I think we all have different biology, different DNA. Some of us are wired like sea cucumbers with an interwebbed linking of nerves and sensatino that drive us crazy, while others of us might be more docile, and then there are those of us who don’t have pretty much any drive at all. We are as different and unqiue as we look, as our origins, as the world is. Our sexuality, our biological and sexual response, and physiology is just as unique and individual as anything us that is remarkably different about us. That’s why some of us CAN be in certain situations or environments and not sin, while others of us need to be on a freight train getting the heck outta dodge.

  81. I’m an occasional poster; but this is a different psyeudonym (for reasons of confidentiality). I am writing on behalf of a good friend who doesn’t know I’m recommending this. But please check out his book on Amazon called “God Loves the Freaks” by Stephen Weese. I have nothing to gain from this. Nothing financial; nothing substantive at all in that regard. Just the fact that after reading this book I believe you will feel a freedom in Christ like you might never have before; and you will remember why Christ came in the first place and for whom.

    Dee and Deb, you do not have to post this if you feel it’s inappropriate advertising. I wouldn’t do this normally, but this book is so freeing. I promise you I’m not doing this on my friends behest; and I’m not doing this for any profit at all.

  82. Debbie

    i would like to address your concern in a different way. It is very important to see what was going on in Jesus’ world when He made this statement. Remember, Jesus had not yet been sacrificed. He was dealing with the Pharisees who had made up a bunch of rules based on the Torah. For example, did you know they were not allowed to spit on dirt on the Sabbath because the spittle could bring water to seed in the ground and cause the seed to start growing which constituted work? They also had to wear special shoes that would not break up soil as they walked because, if they disturbed the soil, it might help a shoot to grow and that is considered work!

    Jesus was the bridge between the Old Testament Law and the Age of grace brought on by the Cross and Resurrection. His goal was to show the Pharisees just how far off they were in their sin. They believed if they followed all these little rules they were “righteous.”

    Jesus totally turned the status quo on its head and freaked out the Pharisees. So, if you have lust in your heart, you have committed adultery was to show them that in their perfect little lives, following all the rules, they were still sinners. They just looked good. See the other things Jesus said. If you are angry at your brother, you are guilty of murder. (that does mean the guy who cut you off with his car and you got mad). If you do not care for the poor, then you won’t go to heaven. If you don’t forgive, then you won’t be forgiven and on and on.

    His point: We are all so screwed up that we needed what He was about to do on the Cross. In fact, we can never be good enough or perfect enough to earn our way into heaven so we needed Him to be our living sacrifice. His extension of the Law from outward into our inner man was to help us to see that we can never, ever measure up.

    Debbie, the true Christian is one who understand his fallen nature and leans on the grace of Jesus to forgive him. The Holy Spirit now convicts us and gives us the “want to” to do what is right and Jesus gives us the forgiveness when we fail, which is every day. I worked for a summer in an alcoholic/substance abuse hospital. These men and women were there because they wanted to become sober. And many did. Did you know that, for almost all of these folks, every day they deal with a craving for their substance of choice? They fight that craving, many of them with the help of Jesus.

    I may be mistaken but it seems to me that you would argue that their very craving should go away if they were “real” Christians. But, for most, it does not. Every day they make the hard decision not to give in to their temptation. But, they are tempted nonetheless.

    I am impressed with the example that Arce shared with us. Like Joseph in the Potiphar’s wife situation, he ran from an environment that could cause temptation. But he also recognized another problem with the situation-the objectification of women.

    Let me close with a quote from CS Lewis-It is not the first look that is the problem, it is the second look.

  83. Iglew

    Did you know that Bible Study Fellowship does not allow participants to share names of books with one another, even in their socials? I find that ridiculous. I believe that more knowledge is better than less knowledge and that most Christians are smart enough to figure out what is good or bad without me being their filter. Thank you for sharing.

  84. Eagle–

    Interesting about your Bible study leader. Funny thing is that in the two years I had been at my last church, I observed many men whom I thought may very well struggle with homosexuality. And it wasn’t the “normal” clues either, like overtly effiminate, etc… It was all the other not-so-obvious behaviors, attitudes and actions.

  85. NLR
    They want to “control” the environment. They certainly wouldn’t want anyone’s nose to get out of joint if someone shared a book that taught something different than what they deemed to be “Biblical.” Instead, they turn it into a vanilla group that assures a baseline of biblical and leave it at that. Me? I didn’t do BSF because of those rules. I would have been thrown out within 1 hour.

  86. RE: dee on Mon, Oct 17 2011 at 02:21 pm:

    I know you guys, blog queens, Zeta, and others are firm OEC’s and Christian evolutionists (please correct me if I’m wrong here).

    The links to the blogs of science and medical professionals who are like minded are duly noted as well.

    Would you guys be willing to put the New Testament texts beyond the synoptic gospels (Pauline & others) under the same microscope of empirical scrutiny you’ve placed the Genesis accounts?

    If you guys feel that they are what they are (Canon) and that they’re not on the table for scrutiny, I fully understand and respect your beliefs. ===> (smiley face goes here)

  87. That whole “I am perfected now that I am a Christian” thing (could come from Wesleyan holiness/sanctification theology, maybe?) is so very misleading.

    God does NOT “deliver” us from being human, or from the human condition. Ironically (to some), I find that some of the mainline and high church denoms (Protestant and otherwise) are FAR wiser about this than most evangelicals (though not all – there are some pretty nifty evangelical churches and folks out there, like our blog queens).

    I find it comforting to know that the church where I grew up has a clearer take on what it is to be human – to fail, sometimes to fall, to experience pain and heartache and disaster – than the churches where I spent many years on a kind of hamster wheel, trying to become “”good enough for God.”

    didn’t work.

    Love, otoh, as Paul says, keeps no record of wrongs (though I firmly believe it recognizes that there are wrongs). That is grace, and love, and mercy – knowing that I am cared for beyond all measure by a loving Father, rather than being condemned by the wrathful God whose Son supposedly died to placate him.

    Bad theology hurts people, sometimes immeasurably – and so many things will never be fully understood, let alone fully healed, in this earthly life.

    (OK, I’m rambling now, but I feel better for having typed this! :))

  88. Sorry about the enter key folks, the above comment is Muff’s. I wrote it out of my own belief that although the Bible may be a good starting point for sexual mores, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the ending point in this discussion.

  89. numo,

    You must have been reading my mind. I was just gonna comment on how real life and the spark of divine in my own humanity caused me to reject the doctrine of penal substitution in favor of the Christus Victor approach.

    If I, a human father cannot imagine being somehow placated by planning and executing the horrific torture & death of my own beautiful son, to satisfy my own perfection, I refuse to believe the same about God who is far bigger than I am. It really is all about spin and the viewing angle of the relevant texts. Augustine, The Holy See, Calvin, and Luther have theirs, and I have mine.

  90. numo: I completely agree with you – that bad theology hurts people! You are spot on about the Wesleyan perfectionism – also check out higher life teaching and Keswick theology. Here’s a pretty good article on some of this:

    I was VERY affected by this type of thinking/teaching, and I was in mainstream evangelicalism, not some extreme group or anything. Gothardism is one of its worst expressions, and i’ve been working through the orange notebook, revisiting it now that so many years have passed since i was affected by Gothardism.

    Reading Martin Luther is a fantastic antidote to clear one’s mind of this theology. He was just so real, so earthy. He was honest about our human condition in this life, including his own, and always brought everything back to the Gospel!

    (It’s heart-breaking to hear you copmare a previous church to being on a hamster wheel. This is how former Jehovahs WItnesses describe what it’s like to be in the Watchtower!)

  91. Muff

    Actually I have been looking at some resources in this exact area. I promise i will try to read as much as i can and write something on this after I finish out on the psychology and dominionsim stuff.

  92. this is totally off topic…and addressing such a minor point in the post that I am hesitant to even ask…but what studies indicate that the divorce rate among genuinely religious people (not even just Christians) is the same or worse than unbelievers? I have recently seen studies that indicate otherwise. Secular studies btw…I can look up the article I read a few months ago if anyone is interested.

  93. Joey
    You can start here. We have written about this.

    Do not get excited about the link. They are quoting a well-known study by Barna and others.

    Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.
    George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented:

    “While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages.”

  94. As a counselor, as well as a friend, I know many people who are homosexual. I also know that Gender Identity Disorder is very real and devastating. Several have tried to live mainstream lives to be accepted by their families and churches. One close friend tried everything it seems. He desperately wanted to be free of his same-sex attraction and went to exodus type residential programs to try to heal. Unfortunately, after many years of struggling, loads of individual and group counseling, and supportive friends and family, he eventually left the church in his twenties. He felt a tremendous disconnect with the church. As others have mentioned, he felt he couldn’t reconcile what was going on in his life with the church. I don’t know if he actually “left the faith”. I’ve never known anyone who read his bible as much as this man did. He must have read it through numerous times. I don’t have the answers, but I appreciate this discussion and others’ thoughts and experiences.

    Off the present topic, I’m wondering what the Family Integrated Church folks think about Barna’s latest research. The reasons for young people leaving the church don’t seem directly tied to the failure of age-segregated ministries.

  95. Eagle–

    I thought for a minute to see if I could find the words. It’s very hard for me to describe, but it’d something I recognize when I see it. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful than that. What I mean by not-so-obvious is this: when people think gay, they think some guy who has mannerisms like a woman and lisps and so forth. I have known various men who were married and had kids who showed none of those traits but they struggled with same-sex attraction and some with homosexualtiy as well (as in having actual physical relationships withi other men). What they did have though was experiences, issues, sexuality issues that aren’t apparent to many but Reslly is to those who know what to look for that made it obvious to me. But for many, they don’t know what it is when they see it. So far at least twice I believe I have guessed correctly based on info I received at a later time. Unfortunately, those men are now married : /.

  96. Some men marry to “fix” their issues. Others marry to have a legitimate outlet for their sexual needs, and to try and get rid of the guilt they feel for their same-sex attraction. It isn’t that they desire their wives, but that they “settle” to meet their needs and also to look like the normal successful Christian man. If they act out, they tend to use fantasy and other outlets to satisfy their same-sex attraction.

  97. Hi Dee,
    Thanks for letting me share the name of that book. I just finished reading it for the second time. My friend is a former SGMer and the book is partly as a result of an epiphany he had after he left that group. He started a group called Fans for Christ, which reaches out to the “freaks” of our society; nerds, geeks, sci-fi fans, LARP fans, goths,etc., most of whom have a very low opinion of Christianity because of the constant judgment and the desire for so many Christians to want to turn everyone into the same vanilla robots. He preaches Christ, and His love for all, and all of the unique and wonderful things that make people so different. He preaches that people do not have to change who they are, what they like, what they wear, to be a person who is saved and loves the Lord. It is not a freedom to sin doctrine, but it is a book about loving those who are different, accepting them, loving them, letting them be themselves, because God loves them and loves all the unique things that make them who they are.

    I also mentioned his book because it seemed relevant to this thread. Also, if anyone wants, I can put you in contact with Steve; he’ll most likely give you a copy of the book for free.

  98. shadowspring, thanks for your reply. I’m sorry that my words were nonsensical to you. In my brevity I may not have been clear.

    I didn’t mean that people want to have same sex attraction. I was simply assuming that some do have it. When someone is attracted to someone or something, whatever it is they are attracted to is what they want. (Not that they necessarily want to want it, just that they do.)

    With that in mind, my question was asking if loving someone with same sex attraction means helping them have a same sex relationship, or does it mean helping them refrain from acting on same sex attraction because it is something God does not want them to do?

    I realize that my question assumes that homosexual behavior is morally wrong and not something God ever wants people to do. I personally don’t think anyone can seriously believe the Bible is God’s authoritative word and is binding on our behavior but also believe that homosexual acts are not sin, or maybe believe that, yes, it is sin, but sin isn’t all that big a deal and we shouldn’t expect Christians to even try not to do it.

    I’m not saying that’s where you are, because I don’t know you or what you believe about all this. But it does sound like that may be the position of many people commenting on this topic. If that’s the case, it’s hard to take attempts to discuss issues in the church seriously from people who have no commitment to basic Christian concepts like the truth of the Bible or God’s desire for Christians to grow in holiness (not to become sinless, just to sin less).

    To truly love people is to love them in the same way God loves them, which includes expressing his desire for them not to violate his commandments (as well as his love and forgiveness when they do).

  99. Elastigirl, yes you did answer my question. See my response above to shadowspring. I take it that you are among those who deny that homosexual acts are sin. You are free to believe as you will, but I consider that a sub-Christian position, unsupportable from the Bible.

  100. Held and EVERYONE else.

    I’m tossing up a yellow card. Held has some strong opinions on this subject. She/he has every right to those opinions and we want to let her/him express them.

    But we’re getting too close to personal insults with the phrase “sub-Christian”. So we all need to tone it down.

    If you feel I’m being a bit to harsh we let this get out of control a few weeks ago and don’t want a repeat.

    Also as a note to EVERYONE. Once you’ve made your point once or maybe twice, stating it over and over is not needed. “did to, did not, did to, did not” is not an acceptable debating method here.

  101. Held–

    It’s not the case here. No one in this thread has stated that they believe that homosexual acts aren’t sin, and that sin isn’t a big deal. Attraction and desire is different from an act or action that is sin.

    Also, you should be slow to state that if someone doesn’t agree with an interpretation or concept you believe the Bible to be saying regarding Scripture, that they do not take the Bible seriously and are not committed to basic Christian concepts. Many of us believe the Bible to be authoritative and binding on our behavior, yet how we read the Bible, and how we interpret it’s commands may be different.

    If you dont feed the homeless in your community; if you don’t give away all of your worldly goods to the poor; if you don’t give away your money to any brother who asks; amongst many other things that Scripture says that I could assume you don’t do, then anyone could easily say that you don’t take the Bible seriously regarding sin (which those things are) and that you have a sub-Christian (your words) view of life.

    I didn’t notice when I was younger, but having gone through the experience of legalism and a terrible church experience, I have come to recognize that as Christians, we really do have our pet sins. Have you ever thought that the same amount of energy you believe one should put into a struggling homosexual or same-sex struggler to NOT sin, is the same energy you should put into sins of greed, lust, covetousness, jealousy, anger, rage, selfishness, materialism, lying, gluttony, etc… Do you seek out, with all your might, to integrate those in your community and your church who are hard to love? Who aren’t as social? Who might be loners? Do you persist to love them in the way you say we are supposed to, as God loves them?

    How many people have you helped not sin at your church who over eat? Are you just as committed to help them not sin as you would be the homosexual struggler?

    How many people have you helped not sin at your church to give away their worldy goods and to feed the poor? I don’t mean going down to the union mission either. I mean REALLY feeding the poor. Adopting families, children, making them your priority along with your own family.

    Can we say that these sins don’t anger God just as much as the homosexual acts that one could commit?

    Maybe it’s just obvious to me that many of us really honestly think the sin of having sex or sexual activity with someone of the same sex is more abhorrent or wrong than any other thing a person can do, like forget about the widow or foreigner, or the homeless, or fatherless.

    Maybe it would be more helpful if Christians stopped focusing on sexual sin, particularly homosexual sin, as much as they do, and focus on Christ period and his love for others. Because I dont think anyone realizes their own hypocrisy and how stinking their own sin truly is: Abhorrent. Gross. Filthy.

    Here’s one exchange you might not ever see in such churches: The same-sex struggler holding hetero’s accountable for their sins of glutony, pride, lying, deceit, materialism, spousal abuse, neglect, selfishness, narcissim, etc… in the same way that everyone else believes they should LOVE the homosexual by telling them their acts and desires are sin. You know why? Because people don’t want to submit to the truth from someone they believe in their hearts either not to be a Christian, or a “bigger” sinner than they. I dont know anybody who would let someone they know who struggles in that way come in and correct THEM on some crap they’re doing in their lives that are just as wrong. Complete double standard.

  102. NLR

    Do NOT make it personal. Maybe that wasn’t your intent but your post could be read that way.

  103. Hey Guy–

    Naw, it’s not personal and I’m not making it so. You might detect my passion on the subject ; ) I understand that it could be read that way but it’s really not being said that way. I’m not gay. But I’m a Christian. And so my point is to help Held and any others who view it that way to see that what he/she believes to be an error or misapplication of Scripture, or lack of committment to God’s Word, and the remedy for that could be applied to other sins (both intentional and sins of omission) that are just as abhorrent in the eyes of God. My overall point: WE (all of us) need to stop judging others and focus more on ourselves and loving people because we are truly unaware at how our own sin and filthiness offends God just the same as same-sex attraction or sex. It’s VERY hard to get Christians to see that because we want to believe that our sin isn’t bad, ,or that we are living more correctly or more appropriately so. It’s just not true. We simply arent.

  104. In the English language “we” is taken very differently than “you”.

    We’re not against stating views here. Well 99.999% of the time. We have decided though that the name calling, even when only implied or mistakenly done via a poor choice of words needs to be stopped. Or it can escalate.

    Just think a bit more on how you word your comments.


  105. Guy–

    I’m not sure I know exactly what part of my post you are finding fault with. Please point that out to me. I don’t want to miss the point here. Also, I’m not aware that I was name calling? Was I? I have read my post three times since your initial comment and I dont see what you are talking about. If you woudln’t mind highlighting the particular portion you are speaking of, I would appreciate it. That way, I’m on the same page with you. Thanks

  106. “many people have you helped”

    The word you in American English can be either a group or a single individual. Depends on the mindset of the reader in this case. I’m assuming now that you were referring to a general church going “you” not Held specifically. And the specifically is what I’m talking about.

  107. Oh okay, I see. So you think it’s inappropriate or not proper form to ask someone if they have done something taht Scripture would say is also sin who has specifically stated that other Christians aren’t taking the Bible seriously , in order to show the double standard or hypocrisy in their statement? Or at least help them expand their viewpoint regarding what sin is? If so, then I won’t do that if it violate the rules of the forum.

  108. NLR

    I am just jumping in here. I don’t think “guy” was referring to you. It was talking about another commenter who used the term “subChristian.” We don’t mind sharp debate, we just want to stop name-calling. This is all my fault, anyway. I should have stopped some of this stuff a long time ago but i wanted to have an open forum.

    I thought it would be illuminating for others to see how some people within the faith communicate. But, sometimes it gets to be too much. I got an email yesterday from a woman who extolled how much she had learned fro a particular Christian leader as she studied the Bible. Then she proceeded to call me “an idiot.”I told her that I was amazed that she learned to act that way from her Bible study. 🙂 That got her even more mad and more vitriol ensued.

  109. Oh, okay. I was so confused! I was like WHERE did I call someone a name?!! Is calling someone “you” name calling?!! Whew. (wipes forehead). Yes, I saw that “subChristian” comment and that’s why I was challenging that poster regarding what they would consider “subChristian” to be.

  110. Held
    I understand what you are saying. But, we have got to be careful with our labels. If you want to get doctrinally pure, I think you would have to call mist people in the pew “subChristian.” Here is what i mean. I have often threatened, and will probably do this someday, to do a “man on the street” interview with people coming out of some of our well-known mega churches with doctrinally correct pastors. i would then ask them a series of questions pertaining to the doctrines that we confess in our churches. For example “describe the Trinity.” I am betting that we will hear more heresy in 30 minutes than we could have imagined.

    Here is the other thing. I became a Christian at the age of 17 during an episode of Star Trek. If you have asked me about doctrine on many of these issues within that first year, I think you would have thought I was nuts. I was pretty much on my own. I knew few Christians and didn’t even know where to find a “good” church. But, God was working in my life and I can assure you, I was not a subChristian.

    Do you know how many people go through times of questioning the faith? Or how many people go through times of wrestling with God about issues. I would guess the vast majority of honest Christians would say they do. I, too, went through a period of questioning the validity of the Canon amongst other things. This was about 15 years ago. Would you consider my questioning “subChristian?”

    There are many honest people who visit this blog, questioning the paradigm after spending many years marching lockstep with their churches. Now, they ask questions honestly. They are on a journey through the wilderness and I want them to wrestle openly with these question. Far too many people “stuff it” and leave the faith or sit in pews and pretend. I prefer honesty. I also believe that I am truly loving the people who come here. Most of them know, very well, what the Bible says. I am here to let them openly struggle and know that I care deeply about them and pray for them.

  111. Dee,

    Again I apologize for the late response…this place is hopping! And I am having a busy beginning to the week…but here are a couple links to consider when lending credence to Barna’s studies.

    The second link is an article by Frank at the pyromaniacs (who you are familiar with I am sure). He links to a study that has very different conclusions than Barna’s when it comes to religious practice affecting divorce rate. He also highlights a Wall Street Journal article that exposes some flaws in another of his church studies. (Frank has some interesting things to say otherwise, but the point is that Barna’s work may not be all that good, or accurate)

  112. Joey–

    That’s interesting. But even still, if Barna were wrong and Frank right, it doesn’t tell us what’s more important than couples staying married, is who, within that context, are truly happy? It’s cool to think that as Christians we have a lower divorce rate. I’d hope Barna was wrong and Frank correct. But the rate of divorce doesn’t tell me anything regarding the actual quality of relationship. I, personally, am not impressed that many Christians are married. what would impress me is if they were in satisfying happy marriages. From what I have seen, many stay married to honor their vows, yet are miserable. I guess the quality of life would be another study and another pole, but it seems like it’s implied that because we, as Christians, have less divorce, then naturally we are happier or more fulfilled. I dont know what those overall numbers would be. But hanging around these ex-fundgelicals sites and listening to the many stories of sour marriages and abuse, I’d think the acutal number of people who are truly happy and satisfied in their Christian marriage may not be much better than those of the secular world. Just a thought. No concrete evidence, obviously. But just a thought.

  113. In some cultures, divorce is quite rare, espeically in Islam, but yet the women are miserable. Sometimes, I see Christianity the same way.

  114. Survey research is very sensitive to the sampling method (who gets surveyed and how you deal with non-responders or replacing them), the language of the questions, the perceived source of the survey (who is doing or paying for it), the perception of the surveyor (accent, appearance, tone of voice, gender, etc.), etc. Even the order of the questions can influence the answers. So, when a difference is seen in the results reported from two surveys, it may or may not be the case that the reality is clearly aligned with either of them, or both of them. Takes a lot of digging to get to what the differences may or may not mean.

    Barna is a recognized and highly regarded survey research scientist. I have no knowledge of the competence or expertise of Frank. So my initial response would be to place more emphasis on the Barna results, until shown some serious methodological error on his part.

  115. Thanks, Dee, for allowing the open forum to continue thus far. All comments have been thought-provoking, in a deeply satisfying way.

    It can get messy — topics which people have heavily invested their mind and heart in are naturally that way. Honesty is messy, but I think much good comes out of it, generally speaking. “Tempered” honesty is most productive — the “Guy”s interjection was a good reminder.

    And I can say is I’ve been in turbo mode here in working through my own thinking on these very heavy topics. The process has been speeded up, and it’s a great thing — i feel I’ve moved ahead by leaps in working through things.

    It’s great to not allow oneself to be content with pat answers and the slogans of the party line of an institution. Very few things can be truly summed up in such ways, with such black & whiteness.

    It’s such a good feeling to face head-on one’s philosophical quandaries instead of ingorning them while smiling.

  116. NLR,

    Interesting the point you raise about being ‘happy’ in a marriage. I would say that this is a scary measure. Although I would not advocate staying married in an abusive situation, there are lots and lots of gray areas between ‘abusive’ and ‘happy’. Further, I would almost guarantee that a choice made in the early 20’s is very, very unlikely to be the ‘best’ choice out of all the people one can meet over a lifetime. Especially if one factors in the fact that ‘the grass is greener on the other side’.

    There is an element of ‘happiness’ that is self made. Paul touches on this by talking about how we find contentment and rest in Christ, and not in worldly things. In Christ, marriage is more than just a union of two people with the goal of happiness for both. And I know for sure that no matter how compatible two people are, there will be times, even years, when the level of ‘happiness’ in the relationship may not be particularly high. We change, we go through seasons. And often to get through these times we must rely not on ‘happiness’, but commitment and character.


  117. Hey Zeta–

    Yes, I am aware of those things, but that’s not my argument. Like you, I believe that marriage has it’s ups and downs, and that a marriage shouldn’t be based solely on happiness. But my comment was regarding the fact that as far as how we make comparisons to a secular world and say we have less divorce or longer marriages doesn’t say anything about the quality of our marriages, yet, Christians imply that they are. Our marriages might last longer because of vows taken or fear of breaking them because of rejection, etc… But I, personally, am not impressed with that when I see people suffering through difficult marriages that are quite longstanding. I’m not talking about a bump in a marriage. I’m talking about longstanding issues and discord. I think if we made a fairer comparison on quality of life and relatinoship, that just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we have it better. I think it might be about the same. I dont see a huge difference between the two cultures.

  118. Survey research is very sensitive to the sampling method (who gets surveyed and how you deal with non-responders or replacing them), the language of the questions, the perceived source of the survey (who is doing or paying for it), the perception of the surveyor (accent, appearance, tone of voice, gender, etc.), etc. Even the order of the questions can influence the answers. So, when a difference is seen in the results reported from two surveys, it may or may not be the case that the reality is clearly aligned with either of them, or both of them. Takes a lot of digging to get to what the differences may or may not mean.

    Barna is a recognized and highly regarded survey research scientist. I have no knowledge of the competence or expertise of Frank. So my initial response would be to place more emphasis on the Barna results, until shown some serious methodological error on his part.

  119. And I know for sure that no matter how compatible two people are, there will be times, even years, when the level of ‘happiness’ in the relationship may not be particularly high. We change, we go through seasons. And often to get through these times we must rely not on ‘happiness’, but commitment and character.

    I think you would get a lot of “amens” on this from people who are not Christian but who do take marriage – and their partners – seriously.

  120. Joey

    Barna has been viewed as one of the pollsters with much credibility. He, as you may know, is an evangelical Christian holding an advanced degree from Dallas Baptist. So, he should show a bias towards Christians. Yet, he calls it as he sees it.

    I think some Christians have an underlying assumption that, if one follows Neo-Calvinism, does Bible studies, gets disciplined, believes in pastoral authority, raises kids in homeschool and spends a lot of time at church, then marriages will hold together, your kids will follow the Lord and be healthy and happy and the church will overflow with milk and honey.

    It doesn’t work that way. But some Christians still think it should. In fact, I have found that there is much turmoil in churches who believe that certain actions and doctrines indicate the holier than thou living. Joey, the numbers prove it. People are fleeing from the churches and yet certain groups want to turn the screw even tighter.

  121. OK!

    I’ll be sure to wear my “habit” (Abbess Numo), and Elastigirl can don her superheroine gear.

    I expect you to be wearing Versace, Dee, or maybe a vintage Givenchy outfit. 😉

  122. NLR and EVERYONE

    “Oh okay, I see. So you think it’s inappropriate or not proper form to ask someone if they have done something taht Scripture would say is also sin who has specifically stated that other Christians aren’t taking the Bible seriously ,”

    Yes. But. It’s a fine line. And very fuzzy at the same time. I discussed this with Dee and here’s our position. And it will be updated into the moderation policies for the site.

    Personal debates are frowned upon. In other words, discuss the position but not the person.

    In American English the word you can be a corporate you which refers to a group of people or a personal you which refers to a specific person. And on the internet without facial or verbal clues it can be hard at times to tell which it is. And without those same clues “conversations” can get out of hand very quickly. It has happened here before, most recently in the last few weeks. And I’ve seen it happen on other blogs where people take comments meant to discuss a point as a personal attack based on the words and grammar used.

    So if you disagree with the positions someone takes, debate the position, not the person. And as I used to tell my kids (and still do at times) it does not matter who started it, don’t continue it. In the specific comment you could have made your points just as well by asking if a church or congregation should have done those things.

    And yes we are being a bit picky just now due to the recent dust ups that appears to have driven some visitors from the site.

    And just so everyone knows, just now I could not articulate the positions of Held or NLR. I am just referring to the tone and words used to express those positions.

    Thank You

  123. Dee – well, that works! (since it’s my “habit,” too, but we should probably touch base beforehand so that we’re not wearing the same color…)

  124. Guy, NLR, Dee, and others, I thought I was being careful to say that a particular position was less than that to which a Christian should hold (“subChristian”), but apparently my wording was taken as a personal reference or attack and not as a statement about a position.

    NLR, I took no offense at your use of “you” or in your questions and comments to me. I thought what you said was a fair response to my comments (although perhaps you assumed too much about me and my intent). I don’t want to make this about me personally, so I’ll just say that I do attempt to serve and minister to others in a variery of ways and in a variety of circumstances, and I do not and have not singled out homosexuality in any way as worse than other sins or than my own. It was just the topic being discussed and I asked questions about what other commenters meant, then shared my own thoughts on the matter.

    Since my phrasing caused a stir, I will restate my opinion in other words. I don’t know for certain that anyone is espousing the view that homosexual acts are not sin, but it sounded like some may be sympathetic toward that viewpoint. It is my opinion that such a viewpoint is not taught in the Bible and that it is not an appropriate position for a Christian to espouse.

    I suspect that no matter how carefully I chose my words, the political incorrectness of my position will make it unpopular on this blog. But I really don’t care if anyone likes my opinions or agrees with me. I was only seeking to counterbalance what seemed to me to be a rather one-sided discussion.

  125. Held
    Actually, there are many here who are sympathetic to your position. I have made Deb and my position on homosexuality acts saliently clear in a number of posts. You would agree with them. Many people who comment would also agree with them as well but object to the disgusting display of holier than thou by some in the Christian community towards this issue. We are getting to a far deeper issue than homosexual acts.

    This blog is attempting to do something that is very rare in Christian circles. We all have a tendency to hide in our various subgroups, self-talking and demonizing on another.

    These two blog queens want something different. We may disagree with one another but we need to hear one another and we can do it with love and respect. As for being popular, do you have any idea how much grief we have taken on this blog for calling out those who take secondary doctrines, such as the age of the earth, as primary-especially the young earthers? This week I was called an “idiot” by a person who says she learns so much from bible studies by a certain leader. Yeah, right.

    I think if you were to really read through all the posts on this blog, you would find that you agree with us on the vast majority of issues. We just say it differently than you do. I belong to a conservative church which holds to orthodox viewpoints which you most likely would agree with/

    This blog welcomes all points of view, even if we personally do not agree with them. I believe our stand is far more fruitful than some bloggers who shut down everyone who do not toe the line. We, at least, are discussing and contending. We ALL have much to learn, no less me.

  126. Held–

    I see your point. Consider it taken. I’m also glad to hear that you minister to others in various situations in life. I also second what Dee said. Many of us would agree on what we think is right or wrong. I, personally, do not think that gay marriage or homosexual acts are approved in the eyes of God–as we can see that in Scripture. But as Dee pointed out, we are debating attitudes and position, and not if homosexual acts or gay marriage is right or wrong. I think we can all agree that it’s wrong. Even still, I think as Christians, the church can do a better job in loving others, and being more humble as we do not know what makes a person gay or straight, and we do not always understand the struggles of others. Of course we can poitn to them and say it’s wrong, but so are a million other things. I think many you might find here are disgusted at the attempts of the church to act holier than thou and pardon other sins while holding in contempt those who commit others. That’s where there’s injustice. That’s where we don’t see Christ–at all.

    And regardless of my religious viewpoints and what I know to be wrong, I understand that it is not the intent, purpose and right of a government to sanction who can love whom, who can sleep with whom and who can marry whom. Especially if we do not live in a theocracy, and it seems like Christians think that’s where we are when we are not. This nation is not a Christian nation. Period.

  127. Elastigirl

    Red spandex. Darn it. This must mean you are fit. In that case, I shall wear “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans” jeans.

  128. Well, since having retired from hero work, there’ve been certain “changes” that I’m choosing to accept. And feel great about the good things — like my hair. That way, I can still wear my supersuit & feel good.

  129. First of all, let me say that I’m new to your blog and I really enjoy it. I found it while googling around and trying to find some info on CJ Mahaney 🙂 So, thanks for what you do here.
    I just want to comment regarding the points of the book in mention that refer to Christianity being anti-science. I hear this quite often and frankly, I bristle at the oft made suggestion that we Christians are stupid hicks who still think the Earth is flat. There are plently of secular scientists who realize that the theory (yes, that’s the correct word to use) of evolution is filled with holes. As far as who’s afraid of what the other side believes, just watch the movie “Expelled” to figure that one out. Finally, a brief story. There’s a guy at my church who came to Christ as an adult in his 40’s. Prior to that he was either athiest or agnostic (I forget which). He has a PhD in a scientific field and works at the local state university here in my city. He told me that the dirty secret within the scientific community, that everyone knows but nobody discusses, is that traditional carbon dating methods are a complete fraud. Take it for what it’s worth.

  130. “I bristle at the oft made suggestion that we Christians are stupid hicks who still think the Earth is flat. ”

    Then we Christians need to stop going around telling everyone that any science that doesn’t agree with a 6000 year old earth is bogus. Like many do. Or make such interesting statements like “You can’t trust Carbon dating”. And so on. We created the problem. We can fix it.

  131. Gary
    This was a survey made of young people. The book was merely illuminating their opinions. And frankly, until I arrived at my former church, I would never have believed that the church is anti-science. Well, I do now.

    As for the conspiracy theory and perpetrating fraud, I outright reject that. Do you really think a bunch of people are meeting in a basement somewhere to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone else?

    As for dating methods, be careful when you use the words carbon dating. Those words date your information. Please go to some sites such as Reasons to Believe or Answers in Creation and read about dating methods.

    I, too, went to the movie Expelled and enjoyed it. There is a vast difference between atheistic agendized humanists and true scientists. By making your statement, you condemn people like my husband, and two of my closest friends who have been involved in the scientific community. They are deeply committed Christian and OE/TE/ Do you think they are part of the conspiracy? Why are the vast majority of Christian scientists OE/TE?

    Please do some research on this and don’t take the word of an isolated PhD.

  132. “He told me that the dirty secret within the scientific community, that everyone knows but nobody discusses, is that traditional carbon dating methods are a complete fraud.”

    I’ve heard this several times from people with a YE perspective. But I’ve never seen any reasoning of why this is so. But I understand the principles behind carbon dating and how it works. And why it does not work for anything after 1945.

    So where’s the information that shows why carbon dating doesn’t work? Other than a chain of XXX quotes YYY who quotes ZZZ.

  133. Lynn
    In a Sunday school class I was in, I heard a man declare that the “Discovery Channel” has proof the earth was young but was sitting on the evidence!! Yep, and Proctor and Gamble excecutives are into Satan worship, too.