My Story About Gender, Sexuality, and Perspectives on “Successful” Transformation

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.  Mother Teresa

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St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke, VA  Wikicommons

 

TWW is not a blog of two women. It is a blog started by two women and it is made up of its readers and commenters. It is a community, which was well-demonstrated by the incredible outpouring of support for Eagle. When I wrote that I was planning on doing a series on the gay issue and the church, Brad contacted me and said he would like to tell his story.

Anyone who has read this blog know, love and respect Brad and his thoughtful and intelligent comments. (As I once commented to him, "You are smart.") So, this is his story and it is well written. I am grateful to him for being willing to share one aspect of his life with all of us. Brad, not only are you smart, but you are strong. Thank you for gracing us with your presence.


If you’ve read my “brad/futuristguy” comments on various stories here at The Wartburg Watch over the past, you may recall that my professional work is mostly in cultural interpretation, strategic foresight (futurist skills), and organizational systems design and development.

Much of my “personal work” over the past 40 years has dealt with gender and sexuality, and that may be even more complicated than my interdisciplinary work in research and writing. I’ve come to see gender identity and sexuality as two of the most complex aspects of being human. I served as the first Resource and Publication Specialist for Exodus International from 1991-1996. I also taught in 2000 at the International Bioethics Conference at Trinity Seminary, on the topic of transgenderism as an emerging bio-medical ethics issue. Because of this background, I got in touch with Dee and offered to share some of my own story and perspectives on what I’ve learned through the years.

SAME-SEX ATTRACTIONS AND MY THEOLOGICAL VIEW

In high school in the early 1970s, I became aware of having mostly same-sex attractions. But, having a traditional moral upbringing in a mainline Christian denomination, I didn’t act on those attractions. Since becoming a born-again Christian my first year in college, I’ve done far more biblical studies and considered gender and sexuality as part of that. In my overall understanding of God’s moral revelation in Scripture, same-sex attraction is a form of brokenness that results in temptation, and acting out on homosexual attraction is a form of sin. That view means the activity of homosexuality and the adopting of gay, lesbian, bisexual identities are not honoring to what God wants. Thus, I still haven't acted out on homosexual attractions, and don't intend to – I’ve done what I can to train my conscience to choose the other direction. [I saw this expressed a whole lot more succinctly in an acquaintance’s Blogger profile. He wrote: “Interested in men, but interested in following Jesus more.”]

Over the last 40 years, I’ve considered alternative views on Scripture in general, and different interpretations of passages specifically on same-gender sexual behaviors. It seems to me that many of these views start with the assumption that our feelings and attractions are the ultimate value, and then find ways to interpret in favor of our attractions the questions we wrestle with about moral revelation, and why would God “make us this way” and then condemn us for it, and such like. I started with a different working assumption – that God is Lord and He reveals things we would not otherwise know, and He sets the standards for personal morality and social ethics.

And that means it’s actually irrelevant to my obedience as a follower of Jesus whether these attractions are from nature, nurture, both, or neither. If the Almighty says a specific behavior is sin, my response should be to trust the Spirit’s empowerment to avoid it. So, I haven’t found these other interpretations intellectually or spiritually viable, even if at times they might make life seem emotionally or relationally easier. To me, they lead in another of the many broken, sinful ways that God never intended for people to go.

I am, however, also a proponent of each person – Christian or not – being responsible to determine his/her own paradigm of values, beliefs, and behaviors, and being accountable for them. As a follower of Christ, I interpret this as a part of everyday discipleship and the “priesthood of every believer.” So, I’m not here to dictate my presuppositions and paradigm to anyone else, but as a sojourner in a host country, to share my viewpoint when the opportunity or necessity arises.

That said, I define my identity as a Christian male, I choose to remain sexually abstinent, and I actively avoid pornography of all kinds as much as possible in our sex-saturated culture. This is the specific path I’ve chosen for four decades to deal with temptations toward same-sex activities. Some might say I’m suffering for nothing, but again, I’m not working from their paradigm. I see suffering as inevitable, perhaps even anguish as inevitable. But despair and futility are not. The pathway I have chosen is one I consider the way of the cross. It is a way that acknowledges/embraces and redeems suffering to generate beauty in the midst of ashes. In postmodern terms, this is how I've constructed a life/lifestyle that embodies radical discipleship, as best I've come to understand that as having great freedom within biblical boundaries.

As to marriage, I never saw that as “the great fix-all” for SSA. (Actually, I’d go so far as to say that anyone who suggests marriage as “the cure” for homosexual orientation is not only naïve, but inflicting spiritual abuse.) However, the idea and even the possibility of marriage has been on my radar occasionally. Unfortunately, the women I was interested in at various times were not interested in me, and vice versa – the relational weirdness of the latter being more difficult to deal with than the unrequited love of the former. Is there still a “bachelor's til the rapture” club? (Then again, I'm not sure I'm a pre-millennialist or yadda-yadda anymore anyway, so whatever …)

GENDER AND IDENTITY

My basic conclusion about gender identity is this: “Gender has more to do with what’s stored in the attic than how the plumbing works.” You can be male, but not feel masculine. You can be female, but not feel feminine. How we deal with the integration (or disconnection) between physical and emotional can send us in very different directions – I believe with both our gender identity and our sexuality.

And I have dealt with some significant gender identity issues, basically having viewed myself as “non-gendered” or in “gender limbo.” Proverbs talks about how foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, and in retrospect, I realized that at a very young age, I withdrew from masculinity. I never felt I fit in with the world of boys and men. I didn’t know what to do about those feelings, so in my understandable foolishness, I tried to extinguish what I thought was the source. (But I also did not attach to femininity, or I would likely have dealt with something within the transgendered spectrum.) So, as a young adult, I ultimately identified more with being a “person” than with being a man.

That has changed, thankfully, and I see my main identity as being a Christian man. Over the years, though, I’ve run into a fair number of men and women with a similar problem. While emphasizing “personhood” may seem like a relatively productive choice, it is still based in wounds and emotional pain that need to be healed.

On that line, one of the more dramatic learning situations I’ve heard was shared by my friend, Jeanette Howard, author of Out of Egypt: Leaving Lesbianism Behind. (I was her project manager, editor, and writing coach for that book, for which she dubbed me “an honorary ex-lesbian.” I’m sure I have the official wall certificate somewhere still …) When she was a very young Christian, Jeanette constantly referred to herself as a “Christian person.” Those who were discipling her gave her a rather radical assignment: To stand in front of a mirror, look herself in the eyes, and thank God aloud that He’d made her a woman. It took her days before she could stand before a mirror without just dissolving into tears. More weeks before she could even look herself in the eyes. Months, finally, before she could do as she was asked. The learning process there was important, but her actions were, too.

My own gender dissociation manifested in some peculiar behaviors that afterwards made sense in light of my level of uncomfortability with masculinity. For instance, when I got to college, I stopped shaving – not because growing a beard was a “manly” action, but, actually, the opposite. If I didn’t shave, I didn’t have to look in a mirror every day as one more reminder of being male. For me, the turning point came in 1989 in a Christian men’s support group where all the guys were dealing with gender and/or sexuality issues. During one prayer time, I simply told the Lord that I really didn’t understand what it meant to be a man but was willing to find out and asked Him to lead me in that. That began a different fork in the road on the journey I’m still pursuing.

ASPECTS OF OBEDIENCE AND TRANSFORMATION

Early on in my college experience, I became a born-again Christian. I’d been raised in a traditional mainline denomination, but it was more about religion than a relationship then for me. When I chose to follow Christ, part of my paradigm shift was to see the Bible as God’s revelation to us of things we wouldn’t necessary conclude on our own. And sexuality was one of those moral issues with social and ethical ramifications. I began studying those aspects of what the Scripture had to say, along with everything else. (As it turned out, I spent more time in Bible and theological studies during my college years than I spent in all my classes combined.)

Eventually I began working through the sexuality side of my identity. I’ve never called myself “gay,” or had a “gay identity,” or identified with LGBT movements or cultures.  Since I wasn’t “gay,” I’ve never really identified with the “ex-gay” label either, though I got in touch with Exodus International in the mid-1980s, a few years after I learned of the network’s existence. There weren't all that many recovery/transformation print resources on overcoming unwanted homosexuality back then, and the closest ministry was about 250 miles away. So my “process” was mostly just general, everyday Christian discipleship, carried out in the usual context of local church and peer groups.

As far as dealing with specifics of my homosexual attractions, that was mostly on my own, at least until the late 1980s. That was when a Christian counselor friend of mine and I started a support group for Christian men dealing with the entire range of gender identity and sexuality issues. (This is the group I mentioned where I prayed about accepting the reality of being a man and asking God to help me understand masculinity.)

The 15 to 20 guys in the group were working on overcoming personal issues and/or fall-out related to: heterosexual addictions, homosexuality, bisexuality, transvestism, transgenderism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, pedophilia, hiring prostitutes, addiction to pornography, adultery. These weren’t really issues that local church staff seemed willing or equipped to address in those days. (Are they even now?) And, for many of these specific problems, there were nearly no resources from a Christian perspective anyway.

So, we went a different route instead of trying to create a specialized program for each different category of issue and go in rotation – what we chuckled at as “the perversion of the week.” We focused together on our common need: “What is Christlike masculinity, and how is Jesus a role model for us?” Our slogan for this was, “Same root, different fruit.” And indeed, it was intriguing to see that as we focused together on our common ground of Christlike masculinity, every man seemed to experience an increased ability to reject whatever specific kind of sexual temptations they were prone to. That was all happening at least two full years before Promise Keepers burst onto the scene and suddenly, discipleship resources for men – some good, some awful – started flooding the market.

“GENDERIZED MINISTRY” AND TRUE COMPLEMENTARITY

My friend's counseling agency affiliated with Exodus, because some of us were dealing with same-sex attractions and Exodus had resources available. I went to my first Exodus conference in 1989, and taught on writing to get published at their 1990 conference. During my workshop, I met Jeanette Howard, who was writing what turned out to be the first counseling/recovery-oriented book for women coming out of lesbianism (the other books were mainly personal testimonies). As I mentioned earlier, I helped her with Out of Egypt as project manager, editor, and writing coach.

The entire project was a deep lesson in collaboration in the Body of Christ, and not just between myself and Jeanette. I’d like to share about that, since I think it has something crucial to teach us all about true complementarity – the kind where women and men work together as peers, using their different perspectives and gifts to create something far more relevant and enduring than could be done by either gender or background type working alone. How often do we see that happen in the Body of Christ? It was my first mega-experience of crowd-sourcing. Here’s what happened.

The first and second drafts for the whole book (almost 300 pages) were completed in just four months, which is amazing all on its own. But it wasn’t just because Jeanette spent a kazillion hours writing (though she did). It’s because she and I brought together a very unusual structure of four teams to help.

(1) I’d mail out the first drafts of chapters to a group of a dozen or so “outside readers.” They would send back corrections, questions, and comments. I’d compile them and present editing options to Jeanette for her to decide how she wanted to handle it. (2) Then we met weekly with a critique group of experienced writers who gave their input on next drafts. (3) At the end of the revision process, we held a pizza party where another group took on the next-to-last draft.

That may not seem so revolutionary, but here’s why it was. The target audience of Jeanette’s book was women who had decided to come out of a lesbian lifestyle and wanted an introductory book to get them started on that journey. However, the overall group of 20 people involved in these four teams included:

  • Women and men, ranging in age from their 30s to 60s.
  • Singles, individual married people, and married couples.
  • Those with homosexuality attractions and those with heterosexual attractions.
  • Everyday disciples, counselors, and local church ministry leaders.

Everyone said they learned something important for their own spiritual growth from reading Jeanette’s manuscript. It didn’t matter their gender, orientation issues, age, marital status, or occupation. It was a personal growth experience for each participant. It also shows how people with a particular “besetting sin” problem as the Puritans would call it, can work side-by-side with those who don’t have the same problem, in a symbiosis that brings healing and strength to everyone involved. We are all so much more than just our sexuality, our gender, our “issues.” What could be done in and for the Kingdom if we worked together in this kind of REAL complementarity all the time?

(4) The fourth team was actually the foundation to the whole process, and that was our prayer team. A letter went out every 10 days to two weeks with a combination of progress report and specific prayer requests. That helped Jeanette and me make sure we were taking time to stop, reflect, and evaluate how things were really going – but also to remember how deeply we were being supported. And perhaps most important of all, these newsletters were reminders that this was at its core a spiritual enterprise to bring resources for transformation to those who wanted it, not just a writing project or a ministry program for the heck of it.

EXODUS AND AN IDENTITY BEYOND

Anyway, the Exodus staff saw how I worked with Jeanette. (We all worked in the same office suite, and some of them were on her review and critique teams.) Bob Davies, who was the Executive Director then, asked if I wanted to join their staff to work on newsletters, other resources, and conference organizing. It made spiritual sense to me. So, I said yes and moved there about six months later.

And that's how my Exodus connections came about. I’d already been studying gender issues and producing resources on HIV/AIDS ministry since the mid-1980s. (I sensed God calling me to AIDS ministry in 1987, before I knew a single person infected or affected by HIV.) I intuitively felt that gender identity, transgenderism, androgyny, misogyny, and misandry would become increasingly important personal and cultural issues, so I sought to incorporate those in my resourcing work at Exodus and as suggestions for expanding the teaching components of its annual conferences.

Exodus moved its headquarters to Seattle in 1996. I had the opportunity to move there, but chose to stay. I felt I’d done what I could to get Exodus’ resources catalyzed, and felt it would be better to turn it over to someone else to maintain that momentum. And, basically, I had done nothing but talk, write, and edit material about sexuality, homosexuality, gender identity, and personal transformation for six years full time – seemingly more than enough for a lifetime, since I didn't see that as my long-term calling. As I noted before, I am more than my gender and sexuality issues and my ministry after all – as are we all.

So, I started work at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. And for ministry, I shifted back to social transformation, which is what I started out with as my focus in college almost 25 years earlier. I got involved with church planting, strategic foresight (futurist skills), and cultural analysis. I’ve occasionally taught guest lectures to seminary students on all those subjects, as well as on gender and sexuality. I work with an international team that’s producing The Transformational Index, a missional ministry system of planning tools and measurable indicators of social impact.

I last taught at Exodus conferences in 2000, and have occasionally blogged comments (mostly on Dr. David Fitch's blog in the category on women/GLBTQ ministry) and specifically about a “welcoming and mutually/redemptively transforming“ stance, as opposed to the “welcoming and affirming” gay-affirming approach and the “rejecting and condemning” ultra-conservative isolationist approach. But other than that, I have been writing mostly about spiritually abusive leaders, malignant ministries, and dystopian societies – and how we MUST understand the destructive human impact of these sick systems if we want to shape organizational design/development for churches and ministries to be safe, healthy, holistic, and sustainable … that is, “welcoming and transformational” for all.

This is probably the most I’ve *written* on gender and sexuality in over 10 years. That doesn’t mean I’ve ignored processing those personal issues. It’s just that there are now smaller parts that fit into a far more comprehensive and coherent paradigm. They are not the life-dominating questions that they were in decades past. And in all things, I am still seeking to live out what I have long understood to be the definition of “success” in terms of personal transformation from homosexual attractions: Following Jesus Christ with all my life and for all of my life, in radical obedience to what I understand the Scriptures say about who I am in Him, and what it means to be a godly Christian man.

brad/futuristguy

Comments

My Story About Gender, Sexuality, and Perspectives on “Successful” Transformation — 128 Comments

  1. I’m honored to have been allowed a glimpse into your life, brad. Words fail me, but with tears in my eyes, I can say thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Pingback: Guest Post at The Wartburg Watch on Gender and Sexuality « futuristguy

  3. Brad- I am blown away by your article & I’m pretty close to tearing up too. I just feel overwhelmed by the level of wisdom & knowledge & lived experience that you have on these issues, a sense of hearing the real thing, a sense which I have when reading Justin’s work too. I feel really honoured to read your story, especially when I have already learned so much from you recently on thought forms & closed systems etc.

    Thankyou so much.

  4. Brad, what an amazing post. I love your perspective, your courage, and your love of the lord. I gained from it the contrast between rejection/shame based as a conservative to accepting and transformation focused. WHAT a difference!

  5. THANKS!! Brad. You have pulled in so many ideas into one comprehensive post. Thanks for being willing to put yourself ‘out there’ in the public forum by sharing your mind and heart with the community here.

    I trust that the care and clarity presented on this topic will continue to have a ripple effect as many are helped by your words found here.

  6. Brad

    I love this comment. “And that means it’s actually irrelevant to my obedience as a follower of Jesus whether these attractions are from nature, nurture, both, or neither.” Many people fear that GLBT attributes will be found to be biological. But, even if it is (and I think that all will be found to be biological in nature), we still must be obedient. The hard part lies in correctly, and faithfully interpreting the Scriptures.

    As usual, you are challenging. You also offer yourself up as a role model, a most hard thing to do. I admire you greatly. Thank you.

  7. I’m a Brad-ophile! An incredibly insightful post which took courage, wisdom and God! I love how you crafted this: ” . . . the Bible as God’s revelation to us of things we would not have concluded on our own.” This is the core of discipleship under the benevolent care of Jesus. Thanks for caring for me and my bride all these years!

  8. Brad -

    It is amazing what God has/is doing in your life! Thank you so much for sharing your life (really!!) and the process you are going through as you walk out your sanctification. I see you exemplifying Christ’s life — thank you.

  9. Thanks *all y’all* (which I understand from my Southern friends to be the correct plural form of *y’all*) for your kind comments.

    I will plan to respond to comments and questions when I can, as best I can. But just so you know and can have realistic expectations about that, I’m in the middle of finishing two grant proposals and starting a deadline writing assignment on (“Oh, joy – hoorah!”) chocolate! Plus some other responsibilities that will stretch my time and energy to the max over the next few days. (I am sincerely hoping, however, that multitudes of chocolate samples will help soothe and smooth the work that’s on its way.)

    Also, as I noted near the end of my story, this is probably the most I’ve written on sexuality and gender for over 10 years. (I’ve been focusing on paradigms for church planting, missional ministry, and customizing ministry for post-Christian cultures for over a decade.) So there are many subjects I simply haven’t kept up with and may not have the research book resources, time, or energy at this point to come up with an answer. But I’ll be glad to respond to what I can, though.

    That said, thanks to you, Dee, for hosting my guest post and your great intro (love the quote from Mother Teresa and relate to it all too much), and to both you and Deb for your life-saving work here at The Wartburg Watch. I appreciate who you are and what you’ve taken on for the sake of a safer and healthier church life for all those who wish to follow Jesus into spiritual freedom …

  10. Brad – I really enjoyed reading your post. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sure just as your work in spiritual abuse, your story here will most certainly reach many and be very beneficial. Every time I read something from you, I feel like my time reading has been well spent and I have taken away something of value. I don’t say that about many people.

    This sentence really struck me: “Actually, I’d go so far as to say that anyone who suggests marriage as “the cure” for homosexual orientation is not only naïve, but inflicting spiritual abuse.” Ouch. This is definitely a topic that should be discussed further. The church needs to do better.

  11. Brad, I’m so glad you shared this. You are very admirable. I appreciate your perspective on suffering:

    “Some might say I’m suffering for nothing, but again, I’m not working from their paradigm. I see suffering as inevitable, perhaps even anguish as inevitable. But despair and futility are not. The pathway I have chosen is one I consider the way of the cross. It is a way that acknowledges/embraces and redeems suffering to generate beauty in the midst of ashes.”

    Of course my reasons for my views on suffering differ from yours – I’ve experienced child loss twice and devastating financial loss which my family will feel the effects of for decades. And you are right: Despair and futility are NOT inevitable, no matter what one suffers, if one believes that God is Love, that He is good and merciful, that He creates beauty from even the most horrific circumstances – beauty that actually does benefit us. For me the beauty He created in my pain was drawing me out of my self-hatred, my critical dismissal of others, and my wrong views of Him (which had me living in despair even before my son died last year), and showing me that He really does love me.

    As far as I can see, the beauty He has made from your suffering is a deep understanding that has helped many. I am grateful to have been benefitting from the wisdom God has given you on a regular basis over the last several months.

  12. Brad, my friend, thanks for letting us share in your story. But mostly, thanks for letting Jesus REALLY be Lord.

  13. Brilliant Brad. Your amazing ability to communicative ideas and feelings never cease to amaze. And thanks you so much for a peek into your life — not an easy thing to do.

  14. Brad,

    Wow, thank you for opening up in this way and sharing with us. You are a true follower and lover of Jesus Christ. Your life inspires me.

    Best wishes on the chocolate writing!

  15. Brad, you are the only person I’ve ever read who self-described as a “futurist” and still made any sense to me. Maybe that means I’m shortsighted? : ) Also I see you used the word “misandry” in the article. I’ve read a little about it, but most of the discussions were very angry and (when conducted by men – mostly jilted/divorced men) devolved into outright misogyny pretty quickly. I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say about it.

  16. First, to the peeps who’ve known me for a while and dropped in to wish me well, thanks again! There may not necessarily be anything new in this, but maybe my thoughts have continued developing more than I realized. And for those who haven’t known me as long, well, this is not a bombshell but still you may be surprised at things you didn’t know about me. It wasn’t so much I was exactly hiding stuff, or hiding my stuffing. But think about this: I spent pretty much a full five work years “processing” while writing and conference organizing in my role at Exodus. That’s over 7,500 hours immersed in details related to my own and others “issues.” So, I just got tired of talking about it.

    Okay, so I’ll try responding to some comments that start a string of “divine dominoes” … and remind me of things I think will be broadly helpful.

    DEE SAID, [[I love this comment. “And that means it’s actually irrelevant to my obedience as a follower of Jesus whether these attractions are from nature, nurture, both, or neither.” Many people fear that GLBT attributes will be found to be biological. But, even if it is (and I think that all will be found to be biological in nature), we still must be obedient. The hard part lies in correctly, and faithfully interpreting the Scriptures.]]

    A thought: I do wonder how much of what any of us struggles with as temptation is a result of brokenness from the Fall. Maybe overall tendencies come from human genetics, and specifics are affected by experience. (I heard my friend Kathy Koch teach on brain research, and if I remember right, it suggests 17% of our brain synapses are “hard wired,” which accounts for human universals such as normal infants the world over typically start crawling and walking within particular age ranges. Which means the other 83% is “soft wired” and influenced by experiences.)

    At any rate, it all needs to be touched by God’s grace and empowerment for transformation, regardless of the kind of temptation. And so, learning that part of general discipline skills involves putting off the old and putting on the new. It’s a life-long task for each and all of us.

    One of the most intriguing books that’s relevant here has to do with the brain biochemistry of addiction. It was written by Harvey Milkman and Stanley Sunderwith. I read the first edition, *Craving for Ecstasy: The Consciousness and Chemistry of Escape* (1987) and the second (1998). They’ve updated it about every 10 years (link is to newest version, but older versions have the basics if you’re on a budget). Their basic thesis is that the core way we deal with stress affects our brain chemistry, and that also helps understand why we may lean toward very specific kinds of addiction. There are three typical ways people deal with stress: aggression (getting pumped up), depression (slowing down), and dissociation (zoning out). So, think about types of drugs and types of visual entertainment, for instance:

    * Aggression – coffee, stimulants, uppers – watching movies on the big screen with super-surround-sound, everything larger than life.

    * Depression – alcohol, barbiturates, downers – watching TV on the little screen, couch potato, everything withdrawing into a shell because the smaller the target the less likely to be hit by life.

    * Dissociation – hallucinogens – engaging in fantasy-based video games where you can side-step your own life and live someone else’s totally epic life.

    This doesn’t explain everything, but it’s worth thinking about for some things. Hope I’ve captured the essence of their argument … I found it helpful in figuring out some of my own triggers for all kinds of actions, and being more conscious of avoiding them or stopping before I go too far.

    And for those of us here at The Wartburg Watch who are survivors of spiritual abuse, you might want to think through the kind of people who’ve been malignant ministers.

    * Were they aggressive, leaning forward, in your face, talking loud, yelling? Huge on vision and activity and ministry impact and The Next Big Thing Out There?

    * Were they somber, melancholy, moody, withdrawn? Perhaps thoughtful, but maybe even so cold at times that they lashed out in cruelty?

    * Were they melodramatic, sucking you into their “Epic Drama of Me,” as if they are always center stage and you’re just one in a cast of zillions that empowers their make-believe world?

    What differences could such knowledge make in how you seek to understand the situation you were in? Are there things you can watch for as indicators of a safe or unsafe environment, if you’re in a process of re-engaging in a local church community but are feeling gun-shy because of the past? Thoughts on how various styles of coping with stress might relate with, say narcissism, sociopathism, other profiles that seem to show up regularly in “bully” pulpits?

    http://www.amazon.com/Craving-Ecstasy-Natural-Highs-Alteration/dp/1412956730/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345598937&sr=8-1&keywords=craving+for+ecstasy

    Well that was … umm … more than I thought it would become. But okay, tis what it is. More on additional comments/questions soon as I can get to them …

  17. JULIE ANNE SAID, [[This sentence really struck me: “Actually, I’d go so far as to say that anyone who suggests marriage as “the cure” for homosexual orientation is not only naïve, but inflicting spiritual abuse.” Ouch. This is definitely a topic that should be discussed further. The church needs to do better.]]

    Thanks for this, Julie Anne. Thought it was kind of bold of you to say “Ouch!” and I’m glad you did. There are things here to talk about …

    There’s a reality in all of us being broken that means we all hurt each in various ways, very often unintentionally. And suggestions about marriage given to anyone who’s single for any reason, may come from someone who has a totally sincere heart of compassion. But too often, it just plain hurts anyway. That’s understandable, that’s forgivable.

    I should maybe have been a bit more careful in the statement I made. In my thinking, spiritual abuse typically has a much stronger level of intentionality where it isn’t about sincerity but has gone the way of interference. Or maybe even to control and compliance, as one friend of mine in a Shepherding Movement cult was set up by his overseeing deacon to marry a woman he’d met only six weeks earlier, and it led to disaster.

    But one particular community I lived in had several … uhh … “dominating” I guess would best describe them, these churches and parachurch ministries where the leaders and others were constantly trying to set up the singles to get hitched. A lot of us who were single were friends and we’d just roll our eyes and cringe at the latest story. It wasn’t just annoying, it was over the line and relentless!

    Finally, fed up, my friend Elaine and I hatched us a plan! We practiced and got all ready for the very next time someone tried to set either of us up with one another or some other “poor single soul” they knew. During the announcement time at church, we would stand up and obviously hold each others hands and giggle and gaze into each others eyes and say, “WE have an announcement! After much thought and prayer, we had decided … NOT to get engaged!” And then we would smile artlessly at each other, plop down on our seats, and let the church chips fall where they may!

    Way too bad that people slacked off for a while. Our stunt would have provided an epic piece of punk’d-theatre turnabout for that get-everybody-married group.

    When the Psalms share every so gently about how God cares for the fatherless and widowed, and puts the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6), I don’t think that necessarily means getting married and having kids to start your own family. And I found out the heart of that verse from experience.

    As it turned out, a group of about 10 singles – men and women – from two different states, and three different towns, and about four or five different churches formed a virtual family of the heart. One was a divorced survivor of domestic violence, another had given up her baby for adoption instead of having an abortion, another who’d been pressured by her husband to have an abortion and it led to the dissolving of their relationship, one’s spouse had died in a tragic accident, me with my mountains of stuff, others who were just single and felt like “damaged goods.” Was marriage going to “fix” any of these heart-wrenched conditions, and memories, and longings?

    The misfits, the outcasts, the fodder for others’ engagement games.

    No, these were some of the most courageous women and men I have ever been privileged to know …

    This grouping indeed became “church” for all of us “Slinklings.” We were bonded without pretense and with great presence. Together we experienced profound grace, and wondrous joy. Laughter, and tears. Processing and prayer, and worship and music, and gourmet snacks and hot cups of cocoa. And talks about favorite scientists and theologians and movies. And trips to the fair together. And walks along the waterfront. And saying nothing when that actually said, and meant, everything.

    You know … in this group, I actually felt normal. (And I don’t mean *normal* like we defined it in the recovery movement of the 1980s and ’90s. As in, “You know the definition of *normal* – the opposite of healthy!) It wasn’t all about “my issues” but about “our community.” About slowing down the rush to “find healing” or “reach sinless perfection.” It was about simply taking time to listen, learn, love.

    That’s what I think would be the antidote to our perhaps sincere but often hurtful suggestions for people with any kind of sinful or social anomaly. Remember that we’re all also more than our temptations, that God is bigger than any of our theologies, and that together we can help one another find real healing, and wholeness, and grace in the midst of any grief or loss or whatever it is that we are suffering. The real “welcoming and transforming” spirit integrates us into relationships that start with where other people are, not where we wish they were, and each of us moving forward from there toward Christlike character.

    Actually, I ran across a fitting quote for that: “A journey may be long or short, but it must start at the very spot one finds oneself.”

    “Welcoming and transforming” is NOT about leaving people alone to do their own thing. It’s not about pulling them over to where my trajectory toward Jesus is so they can do it my way even if that is utterly irrelevant to who they are and what they’re dealing with. (That’s the problem in Acts 15 that nearly wrecked the Church – the Jewish believers demanded that gentiles become Jews first before they could be considered saved/Christians. Thankfully, the council said, “Nuh-uh-uh!” to that.)

    “Welcoming and transforming” is about journeying toward the same goal, even if we have to start from different points of reference in relation to that goal. It’s about redemptive challenging of one another (gently as needed) to stop any “orbiting” – getting stuck around a particular point and with lots of motion and activity, but tethered to somewhere that ultimately means going nowhere. And most of all, learning to listen.

    About that quote: I found it recently in my research for a curriculum segment I’m writing on the process where someone at real risk of becoming a hardened bully can experience an interception before it’s too late. It comes from the book, *The Ultimate Gift* by Jim Stovall (Chapter One: In the Beginning, page 9). Maybe the book and the movie made from it have a bit predictable plotline, but hey, what other narrative storying source do you know of where we can track how someone goes from the brink of bullyhood with incremental steps back to softer conscience, more civility, and restored humanity? Worth a think, I think.

    http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Gift-1/dp/0781445639/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345605240&sr=1-1&keywords=the+ultimate+gift

    Okay, gotta write something about misogyny and misandry – definitely – and something on beauty from ashes. But I felt like it was important to share this first. Don’t know which of the others will emerge first, or when. But I will get to them, Lord willing.

  18. HESTER SAID, [[Brad, you are the only person I’ve ever read who self-described as a “futurist” and still made any sense to me. Maybe that means I’m shortsighted?]]

    I’m really looking forward to addressing the problems of misogyny and misandry soon. (Those terms may not be familiar to a lot of readers. They’re about how we can develop antipathy against, or even hatred of a particular gender – whether it is generalized to everyone of the *opposite* gender or even toward everyone of our *own* gender. And I think I can offer some specific Bible-based concepts and real-world examples of how God can bring redemption into those dark, damaged, and damaging situations.)

    Meanwhile, thanks for the encouragement on my “futuring.” I actually had the amazing opportunity to work one-to-one for a full week with a trained futurist. He got his master’s degree in that profession from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. (Not sure they still have that degree program, but when he got that in the 1990s, there were only, like, 2 or 3 places in the world with that as formal training.) Anyway, if people are interested in some of the core skills of this kind of “strategic foresight” and futuring are about, I wrote an overview of it a few years ago. It’s sort of technical, but it isn’t always easy to find ways to explain something that’s really only been a formal academic discipline for maybe 40 years. Anyway, you can check out the “Futures” tutorial here:

    http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/tutorial-10/

  19. P.S. Hester. Of course, if I’m really as farsighted or foresighted as you think, how then could you really be as shortsighted as you say? [Inserts here a Phyllis-Dilleresque cackle, in honor of our recently departed comedienne friend.]

  20. Brad–

    Thank you for sharing so much. You are an amazing person. And my GOD are you brilliant!

    If I may ask, how do your parents deal with this? (I think I read everything and didn’t see that info). Just curious but only if you wish to share.

    Thank you!

  21. “I actually had the amazing opportunity to work one-to-one for a full week with a trained futurist. He got his master’s degree in that profession from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.”

    I had no idea that futurism was actually a profession. The ones I had read (admittedly, very few, and I don’t mean what follows to be offensive) sounded more like they picked up the term and splashed it on their blog to make their readers think they were some kind of “visionary.” And what was really ironic was that one of these guys wrote an article about misandry!

    My exposure to misandry has mostly been through reading about the “men’s rights movement.” It’s been a long time since I read anything about it, but in essence it seems to state that women are (allegedly) now favored by divorce courts, scholarships, etc. and the men need to “push back.” A pretty typical statement is: “So your college has a women’s studies department? That’s discriminatory! Where the MEN’S studies department?” Lots of the male commenters/bloggers who latch on to this idea (that I’ve seen, at least) have had really bad experiences with vindictive women, and sadly many of them fall into blatant misogyny. So the solution to hatred of men is…(drum roll please)…hatred of women.

    The “futurist” I read who wrote about misandry was, I’m sorry, a misogynistic pig. He essentially claimed that porn will get so high-tech and realistic in the next decade that most men will start picking porn over real women, and then the women (all vindictive b****es who only want your child support, of course) will finally be forced to give men REAL reasons to sleep with them. He also went on and on about something he called “the Venusian arts” – basically, when you really got to the bottom of it, emotional manipulation of women to get sex – which is allegedly the ONLY way men of the future will be able to manage their women. And in the comments section, when people criticized him, before answering their arguments he demanded to know whether they were a man or a woman. Thank God he didn’t call himself a Christian.

    So needless to say, I am relieved to know that not everyone who labels themselves a “futurist” on their blog is like that guy.

  22. My dear Friend, It’s such a joy to read this blog. Your true gifts are not merely your mind and humility, but your authenticity. Thanks for not hiding your stuffing. Blessings on you and enjoy the chocolate.

  23. @ Trina … well, I pretty much know where I land on the intelligence bell curve, but actually I’d rather be known as kind rather than smart. Over the years I trust I’ve developed at least three pieces of what’s hopefully wisdom on this.

    Most importantly, if “only smart people count” which is the basic lesson in Dan Brown’s *The DaVinci Code*, then were Gnostics and not Christians. We stand before the Lord in account of what we ourselves have thought and done and left undone, not based on what some intelligent person told us to think, pressured us to do, or guilt/shame/fear-tripped us into abandoning.

    Second, it ain’t about capacity, but about capacitors … how we’re providentially gifted and wired. That is truly the unique and brilliant thing about every single person as God created him or her, and becomes a delight to explore with them!

    Third, it is nigh unto evil to be smart but not wise, calculating but not compassionate, intellectualé but not real. Not all “malignant ministers” are brilliant intellectually, but sadly, use whatever they’ve got for self-centered purposes of pleasure and power. And their corruption corrodes others and the Kingdom.

    There. I.Said.It.

    Will respond to your question about my parents later … good question.

  24. I hope my previous comments about intelligence didn’t come across as the serrated kind of sharp that harms. It’s just that I have this thing about intelligence, or any other ability or opportunity – including any role of authority over others – where I wrestle with “To whom much is given, much is … REQUIRED” (not simply “much is expected”) [Luke 12:48]. A mind may be a terrible thing to waste, but it’s also a horrific thing to misuse.

    That’s why I don’t take issues of spiritually abusive leadership – or truly troublesome congregants – lightly … misusing one’s realm of authority for misguided purposes of power. And that’s why I seek to go beyond just intelligence, theory, and theology to find and embody a concrete, redemptive edge to life’s difficulties. It means using my own pain, and angst, and questions, and umm … shall we say screamings at God … as a turning point for something positive and constructive. (Make that, “an EVENTUAL turning point”!)

    Actually, it’s pretty amazing, since at some times in my life, I’d have considered myself a nihilist. You know what nihilists are …. they’re the people who think pessimists are too optimistic. The optimist sees the glass as half full, the pessimist as half empty, and I’d have said, “What? There’s a cup?”

    For me, gender identity and what it means to be a “Christian man” has been one of the most difficult puzzles – utterly consuming at times, even. Perhaps more details of that problem another time. But let me say this much for now: The understanding I have come to in 40 years of intentional thinking about gender is that the essence of gender is *generation*. There are ways to express that generative power at the core of humanity without it being about sexuality and/or procreation. Creativity is one way. Service is another. Mentoring is yet another. I think these are examples of a fertile, prophetic imagination that can bring forth or call forth something new that would not have been there otherwise. It’s creating a type of generation that can last as a legacy through how we positively affect others.

    Celibate for over four decades as an adult, and likely to remain so for the remainder of my days, this is how I choose to live my life with simplicity that releases creativity. And while I will never have children, I do find great satisfaction and joy in pouring myself into my spiritual family of brothers and sisters. I think through this means, I get in touch with what was once almost an extinguished sense of masculinity, and be in a sense paternal without having to be a biological father or be a patriarch in the most negative connotation of that term. For me, this is part of what I described in the main post as returning beauty for ashes …

    And with that, time to wrap it up. Will see if I can post something about misogyny/misandry/misanthropy another day soon, and also about some of the other points raised.

  25. Brad, after not thinking about you for a decade or so, just last week I scanned your book Exiting Generation Q and OCR’ed it so that my computer could index it. And now here you are again. Alan Chambers pointed us to this article. It’s a good one. You’re still as long-winded as ever. :-)

    Glad to be your brother in Jesus. I’m going to forward this link to a friend with the subject line “Suffering is inevitable, despair is not.” That was worth the price of admission.

  26. …and I went to the library and got out “The Promise” instead of “The Chosen” didn’t I. No matter, it looks even more interesting. I’ll start with the second novel and work back !

  27. Eagle,

    It’s so good to have you back at TWW! I continue to keep you in my prayers. Infections can be incredibly debilitating, and I will be so grateful when you are 100% healed!

  28. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH?

    “and I think that all will be found to be biological in nature….” -Dee

             Hello,

        Are we witnessing the total breakdown in complex social behaviors today? Are we not seeing a a breakdown in social structure and in normal human social behavior? Are we not witnessing aberrations in human behavior? Is there a correlation between human sexual behavior and population? 

    Was John B. Calhoun correct with his “Secret of NIMH”?

    Something to consider?

    IronClad

    —-
    P.S. Welcome back Eagle, hope you are feeling better, TWW is not the same without you.

  29. Has anyone thought about the increase of vaccines(with various animal DNA included) the GMO’s that people consume on a daily basis in their food supply or the huge amount of chemicals in the products people use every day as perhaps some of the reason that homosexuality is much more common these days?

    Look at all the balding guys in their 20′s-30′s…..didn’t used to be like that.

    Sometimes we get caught up in psychological and spiritual causes for something when it may be physically related.

  30. Brad:

    Thanks for this post. There are actually too many good quotes for me to pull out one or two and comment on them.

    The main point of your post that I found important was in the beginning – your orientation toward the issue. You start from Jesus and Scripture and not from feelings. When we start from feelings and experiences we always run the risk of making Scripture say what we want it to say and finding things in the Scripture that are not there.

    Inner peace comes through complete surrender to Christ. We all have parts of our lives that we want to hold back and keep in our private domain. Those parts are different for each person.

    But most of our inner conflict, I believe, can be traced to the decision to hold back like that.

    It doesn’t mean that our life will be pain free or trouble free if we surrender all to Jesus, but it does mean that Jesus gives us an inner strength and peace to deal with the pain and trouble when we are in full communion with him.

    I noticed that you became a Christian in your early college years. I have a theory (nothing provable, of course), but I wonder if it is easier for people who come to Christ as adults or near adulthood to see the clear lines on this issue. For you, it’s clear that to have that real relationship with Christ and true communion, it meant that your were going to pursue sexual purity, despite your internal longings.

    Many of the Christians I read who advocate gay relationships were brought up in church and had the gender struggle all of their lives. They usually professed Christ at an early age and continued to struggle with identity as they matured, and later in life, they came to an understanding that living as a homosexual was o.k.

    Have you found this trend in your own dealings with people? Again, my thoughts are not based on anything but general observations. But I wonder if you have found a correlation between where one falls on the dividing line with respect to this question and the age or circumstances related to conversion to Christ. I would be interested in your thoughts and observations.

    The other question I have is what type of professional dealings you have with people who hold the opposite view. Are they cordial?

    In the Baptist world, a moderate/liberal Baptist group just had a conference on sexuality. I did not attend, but read summaries in various forums. They had a speaker or two who advocated for the biblical standard for sexuality, but they had several who argued for the normalization of gay relationships and interpreting the Bible that way. They did not, to my knowledge, have someone such as yourself – a person with same sex attraction, advocating for the biblical approach and being chaste.

    My question is how are you treated by professionals and other Christians who advocate a normalization of gay relationships?

    Are you ignored (e.g. you don’t exist for purposes of discussion), acknowledged but laughed at or labeled a confused person or fraud, or openly opposed?

    What can people like me, who agree with what you are saying, do to help you gain a wider audience, especially to groups (like the group I mentioned) who might benefit from your experience and insights?

  31. Ironclad

    I believe that homosexuality has always been around. However, there was a social stigma attached to it and so it wasn’t discussed. That doesn’t mean that it was absent. 

    A long time ago, we didn’t hear about diabetes because it wasn’t understood. People just wasted away and died and it got all sorts of names. The same goes for infections. People died until vaccines were introduced and antibiotics were discovered less than 100 years ago.

    These days we rarely hear about syphillis. The reason is that it is treatable with a quick visit to the doctor. Same with many other STDs. I believe a cure will be found for HIV as well. Already the life spans aresignificantly increasing.

    I don’t know, Ironclad, the answer to the following question. Was it better in the 1950s when people went to church and acted so nice but underneath the hypocrisy spawned the revolts of the 60s? Abuse of children was present, but it wasn’t talked about. Alcoholism was rampant butwe ignored it(I am not aopposed to alcohol,BTW).

    I look back over every age and see sin, along with problems that we just disn’t talk about and realize that I would rather it be more open. At least we know what we are dealing with.

    For the church, an understanding of the issues surrounding those who are gay is essential so that we deal with it with love and compassion instead of disdain.

  32. Welcome back, Eagle!! So glad you’re feeling up to commenting. I hope your leg and the infection in your body is healing.

    Brad,

    I was thinking of some things last night and wondered your (and any others’) thoughts on the following:

    Like homosexuality, the bible has little to say about divorce and remarriage. Yet homosexuality and divorce are two huge issues in the Church. I commend you greatly and sincerely for choosing to live a celibate life despite having attraction to men. Many (most) evangelicals would absolutely agree that you’ve done the right thing in relation to your SSA.

    The bible also says that divorced people should not remarry or else live in adultery. The bible also says that a previously unmarried person is living in adultery if he/she marries someone who is divorced and has a living ex-spouse. In my mid-twenties, I married a man who became abusive and apparently relapsed. (I honestly didn’t know he’d struggled with drug addiction, and I believe he was clean when we actually married.) It was a horrific situation, and we actually only lived in the same house for a year and a half. No children. When I was almost 30, I remarried a wonderful Christian man. We both knew what the bible said about divorce and remarriage, but we simply didn’t believe that applied to my situation. We certainly didn’t interpret it in black and white terms.

    Several years ago, my brother (a SEBTS MDiv student at the time and now a senior pastor in an SBC church) pointed out to my husband and me that we are both living in adultery. He sent us a letter and a copy of John Piper’s paper on divorce and remarriage. My brother explained that my husband should have never married or chosen someone who hadn’t been divorced. He said he didn’t blame me for getting divorced from my abusive ex-husband, but to honor and obey God, I should have stayed unmarried and celibate. According to Piper, God has never (or cannot) break the covenantal relationship between my ex-husband and me and that my current marriage is not a covenant with God and thus God does not recognize it.

    When we received this package in the mail with the letter and Piper’s paper and when I discussed this with my brother, my husband and I had been married for several years and had three young children. (We now have four children.) My little girls had a very early understanding of Jesus’ love for them, their sin, and His work on the cross. We had talked with them a lot and answered lots of questions. One afternoon in the minivan, after a long conversation to an out-of-town destination, they both said they wanted to pray and receive Christ. At the time of this letter/discussion, my little girls were already followers of Christ. So, I brought that up to my brother – how do you explain a godly marriage and home, two people who are growing in Christ, two children who earnestly love Jesus, and another little blessing (our son who was a baby at the time)? He replied, “God blesses the just and the unjust. He causes the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

    Obviously, we can’t leave our adulterous relationship/marriage. (I say that sarcastically, though maybe that is accurate to some folks like my brother.) We are legally married and have four children to raise. It’s a healthy, happy marriage. Then again, so are lots of gay and lesbian relationships/marriages.

    You discussed your friend, Jeannette, and her departure from lesbianism. I truly do commend her for her relationship with Christ, following her convictions, and living a celibate life. My questions are – Would you advocate that all LGBT folks leave their current relationships/marriages/civil unions/families with children to live a celibate life? What is the difference between my husband and me and a gay or lesbian couple who have been together for 13 years and have children to raise? If we interpret scripture in black and white, my husband and I and gay and lesbian couples are living in perpetual sin. God does not recognize either type of marriage/relationship, and He does not have a covenantal relationship with either. The only difference I see is, in most states, the lesbian or gay couple is not LEGALLY married, thereby giving them greater flexiblity to leave the relationship/union.

    The other question I have deals with personal or personality differences. I have two close friends, one a lesbian in a long-term marriage with her partner, and the other a gay man in a very long-term relationship with his partner. The gay man and I met when we were graduate counseling/seminary students at Liberty University. When we met, he was in counseling himself with a very renowned Christian counselor/author/professor. He and his family continued this counseling relationship for numerous years. He also went through Exodus International programs three separate times. In fact, you and he were at Exodus at the same time on at least two of these occasions. My gay friend loves God and His Word. I don’t know anyone who had read the bible cover to cover as many times as he has. He was/is constantly reading and studying. I often wondered if his chosen graduate work and profession was due to his SSA. I also don’t know anyone who tried as hard, went through as much counseling and as many programs, spent every dime he and his family had, and spent as much time in prayer trying to resolve this issue.

    Paul said that it is preferable for Christians to remain single, but he knew that many folks couldn’t maintain that ideal due to their personal needs. I’m not at all suggesting that folks with SSA are any less desirable of intimacy, but is it possible that those who choose to never act on their SSA or those who leave gay relationships or the lifestyle behind are stronger in some way like Paul?

    *If there is anything I’ve written or conveyed or if I’ve used any words or terms that are offensive to you or anyone here, please let me know and please forgive me. I want to be as compassionate and understanding as possible.

  33. Tem

    After exploring this issue for awhile, I believe there is a biological component. For example, Justin has 3 other sibling who do not struggle with being gay. Every gay person I have met has straight siblings with the exception of one who had a gay brother buthis  other siblings were not.  I also know people who know Justin’s family. Justin is not pulling the wool over our eyes when he said he had warm, loving parents who were deeply committed to the faith. Justin discussed a conversation in which a man was convinced he would find the ‘reason” that Justin was gay. He could not find any “cause” and was most frustrated. 

  34. I agree there is most likely a biological component – probably a very strong one. Studies that compared male identical twins, fraternal twins, and adoptive brothers found that the highest percentage of the brother groups who identify as gay were identical twins, the next highest percentage are fraternal twins.

  35. A lively discussion?

    “For the church, an understanding of the issues surrounding those who are gay is essential so that we deal with it with love and compassion instead of disdain.” -Dee

    Q: Is there the possibility of stimulating discussion on the topic of those who self-identify as practicing gays and lesbians (the homosexual issue) -that is stimulating discussion among  Baptists, and others, these (gay) issues?

    Dis-enfranchisement & mis-understanding?

        Currently it is understood in general terms, in the Southern States, that only about one-third of all  independent Baptist churches would welcome individuals who self-identify as practicing gays and lesbians. Non-independent Baptist churches are seen as about the same ratio. The other three-fourths  in any category, however, would not accept them at all. This is seen in some circles as not unlike the issue of the acceptance of the Hispanic among their members. If one can accept it, some African Americans still find themselves, a certain type of dis-enfranchisement experienced in many a Southern Baptist congregation. 

    Stimulating Discussion?

        As far as stimulating discussion on those who self-identify as practicing gays and lesbians (the homosexual  issue) among independent Baptists, the answer is currently only about 1% of the Southern States Baptist clergy would favor a discussion on any level. 

        The “attitude” among Baptists ( independent or other) in many states in the union, is love the sinner, hate the sin. Since homosexuality is viewed as a Biblical sin, no discussion is therefore required, nor desired, but rather not un-like the practice of adultery or fornication, for example, with the view that “repentance” (the changing of one’s mind and direction)  is scripturally required, the member being in violation of scripture.

    (As an aside, many christians in today’s world, are generally afraid that a negative discussion of the homosexual  (gay) issues in the secular work place would ultimately result in termination for them. It is assumed that while this climate continues, no discussion for the Christian in the secular workplace will develop anytime in the near future.)

    Legal sanction & social acceptance.

    If those who self-identify as practicing gays and lesbians  are going to be legally sanctioned and federally subsidized on a national level in the future, (as reproductive services have) many Christians believe that this would have an un-favorable outcome/effect upon religious organizations. Sexual (orientated) discrimination laws will necessarily be enacted. Religious organizations will be forced by law not to practice sexually (orientated) discrimination in their hiring practices. Private organizations such as the Boy or Girl Scouts would be required by law to accept homosexual (gay) troop leaders among their ranks. Private educational institutions would be required by law to accept both the homosexual (gay) student and the homosexual (gay) faculty member. The distinction between public and private organizations would as a progression, find themselves blured. 

    For the church, an understanding of the issues surrounding those who are gay is essential so that we deal with it with love and compassion instead of disdain?

    The church doors are open?

    Something to consider?

    IronClad

  36. Brad, thank you so much for this article. May God bless you in all you do, as you are doubtless a blessing to many.

  37. This was great, with a lot to ponder.
    You speak of finding your identity in manhood, not personhood – that confused me.
    You see, I am a Christian woman (straight, single) who find my identity in personhood, not womanhood. There is no trauma to it, only confusion. The stand-before-the-mirror exercise was easy for me.

    I looked in the mirror and said: “Thank you, Lord, for making me a a woman. Because somehow You must have had some reason for it. I just have not found it yet.” A few years ago I’d have done it with no emotion, negative or positive, it would have been a simple fact. It would have been no different than saying: “Thanks for making me brown-haired. I don’t know why You did, though.”

    But since I heard so many so-called “complementarians” about it the past few years, I say it now with slight exasperation. So many believe it makes me a totally different person who has to live a totally different, pink version of Christianity.

    Any comments, Brad? You think something is wrong with me for not identifying as a Christian woman?

  38. Brad–thank you so much for this posting and your replies.

    I especially appreciate the fact that you don’t play the nature card.

    One of my children was born with a constellation of biological issues that verifiably tend to produce antisocial behavior.

    It is from him that I have learned that when he walks yielded to Christ he is able not to act on those tendancies despite the physical component to his particular temptation. It is from him I learned that we don’t get to pick our temptation, just our response.

    As to the reply that raises the question of gay couples or those who believe their remarriage after divorce is not scripturally allowed:

    First, I believe abuse of one’s spouse is “not being content to dwell” and therefor is a form of “pornea” (sp?) and so the believing spouse is allowed to remarry, only in the Lord. Remember, not all who claim to be Christian believers are, and abuse certainly allows consideration of the person as an unbeliever.

    Let’s reframe the question. If a married man is having an adulterous affair that produces children, would we tell him it is a-ok to continue that sin because there is a family involved? Or would we urge him to refrain from further adultery and still support the children and be active in their lives?

    There are certainly options open to gay couples with children to stop the sinful behavior without abandonment of of the other parent or the children.

  39. Brad,

    I am truly in awe at your Christ-centered maturity. You have the kind of peace, hope and clarity that is evidence of the Holy Spirit, and that most people hope to have, regardless of the “issues” they struggle with.

    I am in awe of you right now :D

    On the question of whether homosexuality is nature, nurture, or both, I have been led to believe that most of the research (apart from any spin from either politics or religion) suggests that it can be both, but to differing degrees for different people. In other words, some people may be hard-wired that way and feel it from childhood. Some people may be hard-wired but it doesn’t become apparent until something in their environment shapes/influences them that direction. Etc.

  40. This sentence really struck me: “Actually, I’d go so far as to say that anyone who suggests marriage as “the cure” for homosexual orientation is not only naïve, but inflicting spiritual abuse.” Ouch. This is definitely a topic that should be discussed further. The church needs to do better. — Julie Anne

    This is just another manifestation of “Salvation by Marriage Alone”, where Marriage is suggested as “the cure” for just about anything and everything.

    Kind of like the attitude around me in my college and young adult days that “Getting Laid will solve everything”. But then, I’ve long thought that “marriage” is Christianese for “getting laid”, with the same accompanying baggage and craziness.

  41. He also went on and on about something he called “the Venusian arts”… — Hester

    Hester, you DO know the actual adjective form of “Venus” is “Venerean” or “Venereal”? Makes that asshole’s rantblog even funnier — “the Venereal arts”…

  42. Brad,

    When I was at a large contract R&D organization in the late ’70s and early ’80s, we did significant futures work on “water supply, demand, and technology”, on distributed energy systems (rural, neighborhood and home generation), and automotive and personal transportation technology (>70 mpg). Social, political, technological, economic, etc. It was hard and fun. Also did an emerging copying tech and counterfeit prevention research project for the Federal Reserve and the Secret Service.

    I truly loved the work, and did a lot of the legislative, regulatory, and political assessments and projection work, often calling in a variety of academic specialists as part of the project.

  43. The emergence of the Marriage Movemnet and the push by James Dobson of marriage has created a “salvation by marriage” culture. I think that has intensified the sufferings and difficulties of those who deal with homosexulity. Case in point….a while back I checked out an evangelical church who was starting a series on marriage. Thinking of this topic, I asked someone, “What does someone do in this church if they are widowed, divorced, single or dealing with homosexuality?” The guys response to me…. “They can get married…” — Eagle

    In which case, I sure hope that church has a source of Third World mail-order brides (with absolutely NO choice in the matter) on speed-dial. Because after decades of rejections, that’s the only hope a guy like me has to shed my single-cooties sit with the other grown-ups at that church.

  44. Brad, An Attorney –

    Just so long as Futurists like you remember that Reality has a way of throwing a wrench into all your Futurist Projections.

    Three-word example: SECOND RUSSIAN REVOLUTION.

  45. Linda,

    First, I believe abuse of one’s spouse is “not being content to dwell” and therefor is a form of “pornea” (sp?) and so the believing spouse is allowed to remarry, only in the Lord. Remember, not all who claim to be Christian believers are, and abuse certainly allows consideration of the person as an unbeliever. -Linda

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. Incidentally, my first husband was content to dwell with me, as long as I wasn’t asking him to go to counseling or stop using drugs or change his abusive behavior. That was my situation, but what about the countless other Christian marriages out there (some of them in John Piper’s own church) that didn’t experience abuse or adultery but they divorced for any number of myriad reasons and then remarried. I know LOTS of Christian remarried couples who fit that description.

    You suggested that we offer gay and lesbian couples the option of not abandoning the other parent and to continue raising their children together but to “stop the sinful behavior”. Do we tell the divorced and remarried couples to “stop the sinful behavior” but still raise their children together?

  46. What about remarried heterosexual couples who don’t have children or whose children are grown? Can they still live together and not have sex? Or do they need to part ways without getting a divorce and remain celibate?

  47. I don’t know, Ironclad, the answer to the following question. Was it better in the 1950s when people went to church and acted so nice but underneath the hypocrisy spawned the revolts of the 60s? Abuse of children was present, but it wasn’t talked about. Alcoholism was rampant butwe ignored it(I am not aopposed to alcohol,BTW). — Dee

    To IFBs and Evangelical Culture Warriors, the answer is YES!

    As for the rampant alcoholism, a big chunk of that was self-medication for WW2-related PTSD. At the time, only the most extreme cases of PTSD (“Shell Shock” and “Combat Fatigue”) were acknowledged, and after surviving the Great Depression you learned to handle your problems by sucking it up and self-treating whenever possible.

    This also relates to the “acting so nice” of the Fifties. After suviving two decades of global economic collapse and world war, it was time to decompress and relax. Rebuilding the world after WW2, America was untouched and prosperous, you could afford your own car and individual house in the new suburbs (increasing your independence), time to kick back and enjoy. It’s Miller Time, and you don’t want anyone to rock the boat and maybe disrupt your decompression.

  48. My exposure to misandry has mostly been through reading about the “men’s rights movement.” It’s been a long time since I read anything about it, but in essence it seems to state that women are (allegedly) now favored by divorce courts, scholarships, etc. and the men need to “push back.” — Hester

    Communism begets Objectivism.

  49. dee/deb-

    No one can ever say TWW is boring…I applaud the conversation you are having right now.

    Brad-Thanks for being so open and honest about your journey.

  50. @ HUG:

    “Hester, you DO know the actual adjective form of ‘Venus’ is ‘Venerean’ or ‘Venereal’?”

    Why, yes, in fact, I do. : ) I’m not about him, though. If he did, I’m pretty sure he knew better than to use it. Would have made it way too easy to figure out what he was actually saying.

  51. Wendy–

    Hard as it may be to hear and really believe, not all of us would accept Piper’s teaching. And many churches, despite your husband being willing to live with you on his terms, would have declared him an unbeliever NOT content to dwell (dwell includes the idea of peace) so you would have been considered well within your right to remarry.

    But let’s invent another situation. If your current husband came to you and said he was having an affair with another woman, they had a child together, and he wanted to stay with you as your husband but continue to love and sleep with her for the sake of the child, what would your response be?

    You seem to suggest that since celibacy is a hard roe to hoe, no one should have to go down that road.

    We seem so quickly to want to rip the book of Ezra right out of the Bible. God did indeed order the Israelites to send away their pagan wives and children.

    I would contend that once a person sins, sometimes the cost is indeed heavy to bear in attempting to rectify the situation.

    It would be far better if we humans chose our spouses according to God’s law, if all of us obeyed him, and we avoided these situations.

    But I do not believe one sin and its consequences give any of us a free pass.

    In your situation, I believe it would be adultery for your ex to remarry since he was the one abusing and thereby with that sin caused the divorce.

    There is no easy way around it: sin begets sin which begets more sin. Is there forgiveness at the cross? Yes, but first there must be that change of mind that agrees with God that sin has been committed. I doubt seriously any of us would get far standing and arguing with God that what He calls sin is not really sin, or the lesser of two sins. Simply agreeing with Him, seeking forgiveness, and moving on to strive for obedience seems the only sane way.

  52. I’ve made somewhat of a promise to myself to avoid the gay debate anymore — just too many friends lost through the past few months with NC Amendment One and then the Chick fil A thing. My convictions are strong but I’m tired of talking about it and watching friends drop like flies.

    HOWEVER I break my self-imposed silence to say what a great, honest, thoughtful article. Might not agree with it in some spots but what honesty and integrity!

  53. Lindsey

    I hope that at TWW we can have a community that hangs in there during disagreements. For example, the only thing that would cause me to dump a friend is if said friend insisted in putting tomatoes in clam chowder. That is a heresy!

  54. Linda,

    If my husband wanted to do that, he’d have to do it without me.

    My whole point is that homosexuality has become this major pet sin within evangelical Christianity. I’m not saying that every one of us doesn’t have a “cross to bear”. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive for celibacy if we’re born with or experience certain temptations or if we’ve created ourselves a situation that requires it. But if we interpret the verses on homosexuality in black and white, shouldn’t we interpret lots of other directives and commands in scripture in black and white? If we want folks in the LGBT community to leave their relationships/unions/lifestyle, then shouldn’t we want the same for Christians who divorced and/or remarried without the specified circumstances outlined in scripture? I’m not saying one excuses the other. I’m asking why we seem to seem to make an enormous issue out of homosexuality and look the other way when it comes to other issues.

    Speaking of Chick-fil-A, I know personally plenty of folks who stood in line on CFA Appreciation Day to support free speech (NOT!) and “God’s definition of marriage” that don’t come close to living exemplary lives for various reasons. Yet they play church and send their kids to expensive Christian schools and drive their Mercedes and vote Tea Party and all is well with them in their Christian circles. Yippeee!!

  55. Brad, you da man ;)What a wonderfully written article. I value your honesty, discipline, and example of how to live based on what you believe to be truth. And, you do it without judgement or bitterness! I wish the world had more examples of radical obedience and discipleship but I sure am glad we have you!

  56. A very thought provoking essay. I respect your openness and vulnerability in writing it. A couple of thoughts came to mind.

    Especially as I read through the comments and got to the one from ‘About 40′. I think she hit something important: not all SSA and non-normative gender identities stem from personal trauma, abuse, or other psychiatric issues. While they may be a real ’cause’ for some minority of people who have SSA or a-typical gender identities, they are not the whole, or even the largest part of the story. The perspective shared in the essay could lead the reader to presume a sort of “medicalized” view of SSA and a-typical gender identities (statistically) as “deviant” (morally) and in need of a “cure”, a view that was prevalent in the 1970s certainly, but is no longer. Certainly Brad didn’t use that language and his argument is more nuanced, talking about “spiritual” brokenness rather than disease. But it is a nuance that many will miss. And certainly organizations like Exodus properly exist for people who feel this way about themselves and want to be restored/repaired/fixed (if such a thing is possible). But, and I think it is a big but, there is potential harm done when this limited perspective (limited in the sense of the number of people to whom it legitimately applies) becomes the church’s predominant story line about SSA, Homosexual identity, and other non-normative gender identities. Of course the LGBT community reacts strongly to the Cathy family’s (Chick-fil-A) philanthropic giving to orgs like Exodus. Why wouldn’t they, if all they see is the constant broadcast in Christian circles of the narrative that folks with SSA, Homosexual identity, or other non-normative identities (in the statistical sense) are really “broken”, deviant (in the moral sense), and in need of their repairative program to fix it. When the right solution for the few becomes the only acceptable solution for all, we’re back to church abuse. That’s a danger I see.

    There is a sort of gender essentialism in Brad’s argument as well. A presumption that men, if they are healthy, are masculine and healthy women are feminine. I might be misreading (please forgive me if I am, I mean no harm). It’s as if there is only one right way for the “software” (the psychological, cultural aspects of gender) to be installed along with the hardware (one’s biological sex). But a reading across history and cultures shows pretty clearly that gender is socially constructed. What it means to be “masculine” or “feminine” or even “other” depends on where and when we live. Different configurations of the software and hardware are possible, happened historically, and continue to happen all the time. The fact that different configurations can happen, and people can be healthy and happy and culturally values with them poses a strong challenge to us.

    I, and I’m sure many others, am often tempted to say that all differences from the proscription of scripture are just after-effects of the “fall”. But the more I think about it, the less I feel like that response takes the historical and anthropological record seriously.

    Sorry to ramble. I really enjoyed the essay Brad.

  57. I too would like to compliment Brad and thank him for his honest and thoughtful article.

    Re the divorce and remarriage issue, there is a school of thought adopted by both Reformers such as Thomas Cranmer (I believe) and 20th century evangelicals such as Francis Schaeffer which suggests that divorce and remarriage are justified on the grounds of either adultery or desertion. This is not to say that divorce should automatically be sought, but rather that it would not be sin under those circumstances since the marriage covenant had been broken, including in the case of desertion if attempts at reconciliation had failed (eg if the abandoning partner would not return).

    Jesus’ words on divorce and remarriage are no doubt tough. It is often said that they were a rebuke to the easy mentality of his day where a man could simply give a woman a bit of paper and divorce her for fairly trivial reasons. Today the situation has become sadly similar where people (apparently over here anyway) seem to prefer to abandon a marriage rather than try to work on it. Cases where there is physical abuse and criminal behaviour are in my opinion a different category.

  58. Thanks everyone for your continued comments and encouragement. I’m working on responses to post here, but it will be a day or more still to get them all done and posted, as I was out of town all day on a writing assignment (Yes, the one about chocolate etc. … which, though energizing, cannot totally recharge one’s batteries!) and I have additional deadline tasks tomorrow. So … will be back … ~ Brad

  59. This post and the replies have been life transformative for me.

    We have helped raise one granddaughter. When she was a toddler, grandpa would sometimes take her out to play in the snow (or mud) while I cleaned and mopped the kitchen. I would explain to her that when she came in, she had to stop at the back door and remove her snowsuit or coat and boots so as not to mess up the house.

    That would trigger what we came to call the “what if” game. But grandma, what if I’m cold and want to do it by the stove? What if I really need to go potty? What if the house is on fire and I came in to warn you? What if grandpa fell and is hurt? What if. None of the evil effects she imagined obedience would bring ever happened, but as soon as she heard rules the rebellion started in her mind. Thankfully she has outgrown that for the most part now.

    Have we? Have I? God’s Word is truly not that hard to understand. It lays down some pretty clear rules as to gender behavior and as to sexual behavior.

    But we always want to start the what if game. What if I prefer same gender sex? What if my husband/wife is a jerk? What if I think I am really gifted at some role and feel called to it and the scripture forbids it to me? What if?

    For me, this post and the replies have brought conviction that I too fluant the rules of gender. It has brought repentance and a determination to trust that when a child is born, male or female, God already knew the answer to those what ifs.

    No more what ifs. No more trying to find a way to avoid what scripture clearly teaches be it about gays, adultery, fornication, gender roles in marriage, or gender roles in church.

    What if? What if God truly knows better than we dom, and the peace and joy we seek comes through obedience.

    What if.

  60. linda-

    So you’ll be absolutely silent in the church wearing a head covering? You’ll be giving away all your possessions to the poor? You’ll be gouging out your eye if it causes you to sin? Possibly a hand cut off?

    Not trying to be sarcastic, but I find absolute conviction in one’s view of scripture to be dangerous. The above questions are based on clear teaching of scripture.

  61. Linda, what does the Bible teach about the female gender role in church? It is rather hard, because 1 Cor 14:26 say everyone (not just men) should bring their speaking gifts to church – a teaching, a song, a prophesy, and all those gifts – not just those of the men – should be used to build up the church. Some church people, I know, refuse to believe those texts and pretend only men – or even worse, only the pastor – can bring a speaking role.

    So what is my gender role in church? What kind of gift should I bring that a man may not?

  62. Several comments and questions dealt with issues of nature versus nurture. This is one of the technical areas that I’ve not kept up with since the 1990s, in terms of specific studies, theories, findings, etc. However, there are a few things worth noting about the framework we use for thinking about research questions and findings on the subject of sexual orientation (as well as gender and transgender, and I may address that later).

    First, twin studies have often been used as a genetics-based argument for biological causation of homosexual orientation. However, one of the counter-arguments about genetics and twin studies is whether it is typical for one twin to have relational dominance over the other – regardless of whether they are fraternal or identical – and what the implications of that could be on the development of behaviors related to sexuality. If the idea of a dominant partner in twinship is accurate, then it potentially puts a nurture-oriented behavioral twist on what we would think is purely a nature-oriented genetic fact.

    There were research studies in the 1990s about differentials in the hypothalamus area of the brain between males who were long-term practicing homosexuals versus those who were heterosexuals. If I remember right, the results showed that part of the brain proved statistically larger among the homosexual than heterosexual males. The problem in this and many kinds of research is: When several factors are proved to be present, that only tells you that they co-exist in the same system. It does not necessarily explain the *relationship* between the factors, or the *causation*.

    For instance, if A [practice of homosexual behaviors] and B [larger hypothalamus] co-exist, did B cause A? Or is it possible that A caused B? Or is it possible that some other factor C caused both A and B? In both cases, just because there may be *apparent* evidence for genetic/biological causation of a homosexual orientation, that does not mean the research results have *validity* in terms of identifying what the researchers think they identify. Or perhaps the findings may even prove spurious, if they cannot be repeated to show conclusive statistical evidence of *reliability*.

    In research, *validity* is when something actually measures what you say it does, and *reliability* is when you get the same (or highly similar) results when you run the same experiment multiple times. Do these research studies into genetic/biological origins of homosexual orientation have validity and reliability? Do the theories drawn from the findings also explain relationships of co-existence and causality among all relevant factors?

    Anyway, as I said in the article, I haven’t based my lifestyle decisions on research findings about whether same-sex attractions “are from nature, nurture, both, or neither.” It’s been based on my understanding, developed over time, of relevant Scriptures in the overall context of Christian discipleship. And my conclusion has been that homosexual behaviors are sinful, despite multiple kinds of arguments made to the contrary – some in scientific research, or cultural-linguistic re-analysis of key passages, or in alternate direct revelations from God that some people claim receiving (an example of which is, if I remember right, is something Troy Perry of the welcoming and affirming Metropolitan Community Church denomination wrote about in an autobiography).

    I use this same overall process of discernment and decision-making to reach these relevant conclusions:

    (1) Because of personal priesthood of the believer, I am responsible and accountable before God for the way I choose to live my life in light of my same-sex attractions.

    (2) I believe church and state relations should be used to promote freedom of conscience instead of social control, because Christians are sojourners in a host country, not pseudo-Israelites creating a theocratic nation-state. (That doesn’t mean disengagement from politics or culture, just not using them to impose biblical moralism under the guise of “salt and light.”)

    (3) I choose to relate with as much grace and forbearance and conviction as possible with other people, regardless of their decisions on these same issues.

    Other people come to different conclusions, and are responsible and accountable before God for their own choices.

  63. Remarkable article Brad – you clearly chart a course for a “higher way” than historic options offered by the church and others…and a way that is rooted in radical discipleship that can only be understood as “alien to this world.” You have much to say to all of us – and in particular to the organized church – when it comes to issues of gender identity and sexuality – i so wish the church structures had the courage to dive into the pool of healing in which you clearly swim :) All of us should join you there! I am honored to have been included in this refreshing read!

  64. EAGLE asked me for my take on the Living Waters Program.

    Over the years since completing my work at Exodus International, I haven’t kept up with the developments in the Living Waters Program or other recovery/discipleship resources for people who are addressing sexuality issues, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Also, I never went through a Living Waters Program myself, though I read some related materials about 20 years ago. So my opinion isn’t current and not helpful on that. Is there a larger question that was embedded in the rest of your comment? I couldn’t figure out a connection, maybe because I’m out of that loop.

    But I can say that my long-time impressions of Andy and Annette Comiskey of Desert Stream Ministries/Living Waters are that they have always seemed to be thoughtful people, highly observant about their individual lives and their life together as a married couple. They are open-souled in sharing their lives with others, and give well-considered and prayerful opinions into their understanding of what it means to follow Jesus Christ as disciples. I have always admired that in them, as I typically do in anyone I know who follows Jesus.

  65. Brad/futuristguy,

    I really like your post. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us. You are brilliant and I commend you for choosing the way of obedience to the Scriptures. You wrote:

    “Since becoming a born-again Christian my first year in college, I’ve done far more biblical studies and considered gender and sexuality as part of that. In my overall understanding of God’s moral revelation in Scripture, same-sex attraction is a form of brokenness that results in temptation, and acting out on homosexual attraction is a form of sin. That view means the activity of homosexuality and the adopting of gay, lesbian, bisexual identities are not honoring to what God wants.”

    I am inclined to think same-sex attraction reflects one of the many damages from Adam’s fall when sin entered the human race. Sin pollutes the total being of man: spirit, soul, body, mind, will, emotion and body. About 15 years ago, when God, in His grace to me, opened my eyes to see the problem of MY SIN and its awfulness, I came to appreciate the salvation that is in Christ much much more than before. God gives so great a salvation! I am forever grateful for what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross and His resurrection life set me free from the power of sin.

    You also wrote: “I am, however, also a proponent of each person – Christian or not – being responsible to determine his/her own paradigm of values, beliefs, and behaviors, and being accountable for them.” I say “Amen” to this as well.

    Brad, I have a lot to learn from you and other folks and hope you will share with me your thoughts on misogyny and misandry. I can’t figure out why there is so much antipathy between the genders and within a given gender. Many blessings to you and thank you so much.

  66. ANONYMOUS on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:22 AM asked: […] What type of professional dealings you have with people who hold the opposite view. Are they cordial? […] How are you treated by professionals and other Christians who advocate a normalization of gay relationships? Are you ignored (e.g. you don’t exist for purposes of discussion), acknowledged but laughed at or labeled a confused person or fraud, or openly opposed? What can people like me, who agree with what you are saying, do to help you gain a wider audience, especially to groups (like the [Baptist] group I mentioned) who might benefit from your experience and insights?

    Hi Anonymous 9:22 … There are a couple key things about the overall context of my life that drive my answer to your questions. First, I have two overlapping chronic illnesses that have plagued me for about 90% of my entire adult life the past 40 years. It has been especially difficult for me health-wise the past 5 years. Fatigue is constantly at my door – in Boomer-talk, “This is such a bummer, man! But actually, parameters are necessary for creativity, so this situation forces me to focus on discerning and deciding how I can best use whatever stamina I do have, in creating something constructive via what I’m gifted for and called to do.

    I mentioned in the article that it was the most I’d written on gender and sexuality subjects in 10 years. Back then, I moved into other areas – culture, church planting, paradigm analysis – because that is where I was led. That doesn’t mean the topic of homosexuality and the Church is unimportant. It’s just not where I’ve been called for a long time. Basically, I completely withdrew from that arena over a decade ago and haven’t really engaged in it much since. So there’s nothing to say on how I’ve been treated.

    And although I suspect I could contribute something important to the ongoing sifting in the Church on this divisive subject, I also suspect my overall time is short, and my presence there is not a providential priority. There are likely others who have similar views to mine with the calling and energy to enter the fray. So I thank you for your interest in helping me gain a wider audience, but my focus needs to be elsewhere until I complete that assigned task.

    So that explains why I’m NOT DOING certain things. But you may also find the following of interest for understanding why I AM DOING what I’m doing. (I think everyone should have a sense in their own life of both of those bookend parameters! Knowing BOTH what we’re doing AND not doing and why will help us focus, and engage in our most creative possibilities for the Kingdom.)

    The rest of what’s here is from a piece I wrote a while back about being a “philosopher” and a “polymath.” And if you’re interested in the mega-project I’ve been working on, see the following link and all the pages on the top section of my “futuristguy” blog that deal with “Opal” stuff. [And who knows, after these three curriculum courses are done, maybe I will write a book on the dynamics of gender identity, sexuality, gender roles, and gender relationships in society.]

    http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/opal-design-introduction/

    In July 2001, I had a most intriguing conversation with my church planting strategist friend Linda Bergquist. She identified me and two other people we know in the San Francisco Bay Area as “Christian philosophers.” Linda felt the Church doesn’t particularly like philosophers, but she believed it still needs them. Specifically, she sensed these three people were being raised up to help the Church transition into what we then were calling the *post-postmodern* era. Ahh, how terms change over time!

    Linda told me a story about what this kind of philosopher is. She’d recently read a biography of Thomas Jefferson. She found it intriguing that Jefferson was offered all kinds of military commissions and other strategic jobs during the Revolutionary War. Instead of taking any of those opportunities, he went back home and worked diligently on the background for creating the American Constitution. He had confidence the Revolution would succeed, and that those with other kinds of leadership gifts would step up to their challenge. And so, he was free to do the philosophizing that he knew was necessary for the establishment of long-term goals and sustainability of this new union. As a “renaissance man” and philosopher, Jefferson trusted that his abilities matched this historic opportunity, and he knew where he should invest his time in order for a larger payoff in the long run for everyone.

    Similarly, Linda was convinced that these three church planting philosophers in the Bay Area needed to NOT feel pressured to be “The Theologian” or “The Practitioner,” but to invest in the most important roles they could play right now for the future of the Kingdom – research and development, and philosophy. This encouraged me then, and it remains comforting now, over 10 years later, while I am still working on the same massive set of trainings in paradigm and cultural systems for growing Kingdom Culture organizations whose participants manifest in society the character of Christ.

    Around that same time is when I found out that I am a *polymath* – someone who naturally absorbs multiple different domains of learning and practice, and synthesizes them into something new. I see myself as stewarding something important for the long run of the Kingdom. It requires complex thinking and dense communicating. The concepts in the Opal Design Curriculum have been steeping for over 20 years, and the writing/editing phases have already taken four years. Still, I know at a deep level that pouring myself out in these tasks will have paid off in the long run for what God is doing in His world. It is a privilege, within God’s providence, to be called into being this kind of philosopher.

  67. ANONYMOUS on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:22 AM said: [I noticed that you became a Christian in your early college years. I have a theory (nothing provable, of course), but I wonder if it is easier for people who come to Christ as adults or near adulthood to see the clear lines on this issue. […] Many of the Christians I read who advocate gay relationships were brought up in church and had the gender struggle all of their lives. They usually professed Christ at an early age and continued to struggle with identity as they matured, and later in life, they came to an understanding that living as a homosexual was o.k. Have you found this trend in your own dealings with people? Again, my thoughts are not based on anything but general observations. But I wonder if you have found a correlation between where one falls on the dividing line with respect to this question and the age or circumstances related to conversion to Christ. I would be interested in your thoughts and observations.]

    Actually, I was reared in a mainline denominational church, was highly spiritual at a very young age, and aware of falling short of Someone perfect. But, by the end of high school, I got burned out on “religious Christianity” that didn’t seem to have much to offer in the way of meeting the deep personal longings I had to know God. So, although it wasn’t an evangelical upbringing, there was much conscious knowledge of God, learning the creeds, and exposure to a lot of Bible narratives over the years.

    That said, I wonder if what young adults choose about their same-sex attractions has more to do with what kind of Christianity they were brought up in as kids. Was it legalistic and guilt-inducing, making it basically impossible to talk openly about any kind of problem with temptation or sin? Was “discipleship” a white-knuckling kind of rule-based system for earning points from God for being “nice”? Or was it about living a real and grace-empowered life despite difficulties? Did it encourage a life of trusting God so you could “Run toward your fears” as my friend Bud had on a note over his computer, instead of retreating into what is comfortable, or hiding and acting all “moral” and “nice”?

    But I’m not sure one’s decision on something as deep as sexuality can be predicted from what kind of church we attended, or age when we professed Christ, or denomination, or theology, or temperament. Actually, I doubt it is predictable. Going a different direction from the view that homosexual behavior is sinful [and any similar issue of life and lifestyles] is likely just as complex as most spiritual trajectories we humans choose.

    And if there’s no formula for how we get to a particular doctrinal view or faith practice, then it makes sense (to me at least) that there’s no exact formula for how we get anyone’s or everyone’s “issues” resolved and their life restored.

    It might even be that a person has other deeply human issues of brokenness that need to see some healing before God deals with that person’s sexual behaviors which disturb us. And that lesson in particular is some of what I learned from relating with my friend Lanny. It seems to me that his homosexual addiction issues were driven by a horrible self-loathing such that anyone who offered what seemed like “love” and acceptance could trap him into sex. So, if he’d stopped the sexual behaviors, but never dealt with the self hatred, some people might have felt more comfortable but the trigger to those behaviors wouldn’t have been removed. Wouldn’t he then have been “doomed” to fall back into the same old patterns?

    You might want to read about his story in “The Power of the Powerless.” This is how it starts: “The past few days, I’ve been thinking about restoration, what it means for someone to return to a functional life after deep brokenness, how that comes about, and what it means for the Kingdom. This turned my thoughts to my friend Lanny, who passed away a decade ago. …” Hope these observations give you food for thought, Anon …

    https://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2009/03/16/redemption-and-restoration-part-1/

  68. P.S. On the subject of helping someone at the level of deepest human needs, even if they are not at a place to yet consider issues about sexual behaviors, you might consider watching the movie, *Stage Beauty* and also watch the special features. This is the story of Maria/Margaret Hughes, the first woman allowed as an actress in the British theatre of the 1660s by King Charles II, and Ned Kynaston, one of the actual last men who played female characters on the stage (as only men were allowed to do until a decree by the king forbade it).

    Somewhere in those features, probably in one of the interviews if I remember right, there is a fascinating exchange about how Claire Danes’ character (Maria) helps Billy Crudup’s character (Ned) become a better, more healed PERSON, even though he doesn’t yet deal with his immense sexual confusion as a MAN. In the movie, Ned Kynaston reveals the treatment that brought about gender and sexual confusion, but the point is far more on what happens in this couple’s journey that brings about personal transformation.

    This movie is rated R for sexual content and language, so be aware of that, and decide with caution to see if this is a movie you should watch or not. I’d strongly suggest checking out the information available at Internet Movie Data Base and Amazon and other review sites. I have not yet found another movie that I think could substitute for the themes address here. (If all y’all out there have any suggestions, I’d gladly hear them!)

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368658/

  69. Final P.S. for today … I’m still working on response to a few more questions, including about misogyny and misandry. That one in particular is taking longer than expected, in part because there is just so much there – need to work on making it accessible/understandable. Thanks for your patience …

  70. Pingback: Misogyny, Misandry, and Pathways of Peace « futuristguy

  71. Well, I have finally finished a response to the questions about misogyny and misandry, and I know I tend to write long rather than short, but yikes! It turned out as long as my original guest post! So, rather than post it in the comments here, it seemed better to put it on my blog and put link and a short explanation here instead. I tried to tie in the concepts of misogyny (hatred of women), misandry (hatred of men), and misanthropy (hatred of everybody) with relevant topics like extreme complementarian and the problems of patriarchalism, gender identity, and transgenderism.

    http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/misogyny-misandry-and-pathways-of-peace/

    Meanwhile, I have a few other questions to address, but those must wait until I’ve gotten work-related deadlines done. Thanks again for your interest, and hope you find the material of help …

  72. Brad,

    Thank you, thank you; I will read your piece on misogyny. You are fast. Have a great weekend.

  73. Double J on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 07:41 PM said: [There is a sort of gender essentialism in Brad’s argument as well. A presumption that men, if they are healthy, are masculine and healthy women are feminine. I might be misreading (please forgive me if I am, I mean no harm). It’s as if there is only one right way for the “software” (the psychological, cultural aspects of gender) to be installed along with the hardware (one’s biological sex). But a reading across history and cultures shows pretty clearly that gender is socially constructed. What it means to be “masculine” or “feminine” or even “other” depends on where and when we live. Different configurations of the software and hardware are possible, happened historically, and continue to happen all the time. The fact that different configurations can happen, and people can be healthy and happy and culturally values with them poses a strong challenge to us.]

    The question of “gender essentialism” is important. I believe there may in fact be some “human universals” related to gender, but they are not necessarily related to gender roles. The key one that I have thought about and need to study more has to do with the connection between brain lobes. As best I can recall, in prenatal development, there is a particular stage when a final “hormonal wash” in male babies typically occurs and it works to break down that connective pathway. If that is the case, it could explain a biological basis for some statistically significant differences between the way that men’s and women’s brains work, and how this affects various aspects of learning styles and information processing.

    From the last go-round in my readings on that subject, which was quite a few years back, this meant that women generally think more holistically because both sides the brain are cross-wired to process simultaneously, whereas the pathway was broken for most (but not all) males while in the womb. Perhaps there’s also been technical research to study the differentials of percentages of women and men who are “global” (big-picture) versus “analytic” (detail-oriented) in the cognitive style/field orientation assessments of Herman Witkin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Witkin

    On “social construction of gender roles,” I’m probably in general agreement with that concept. It makes sense to me in terms of how emerging subcultures and social groups are created. Relating this to gender, I did several go-rounds of research reading on *psychological androgyny* in the 1990s. Psychological androgyny is the idea that there are culturally defined roles that are different for men and for women. However, in research studies on both men and women whose vocations were in business (e.g., sales, management), those individuals who were able to draw from the characteristics found on BOTH lists were shown to be more effective in their abilities to carry out their jobs. These men and women did better at relating, at selling, at managing, etc., that their counterparts who drew only from their matched-by-gender, conventional, “socially prescribed” gender roles.

    So – for a Christian like me who zooms in on these questions of gender identity, roles, and character qualities from a starting place of “non-gender”/“gender limbo,” I tend to start from the outside contour of larger generalities (i.e., gender universals) rather than from the inside details of gender roles. So, for me, the larger issue has been whether there is “gender-specific Christlikeness” or if we are meant to develop the equivalent of “Christlike spiritual androgyny” in terms of our personal character. For instance:

    (1) Leaving aside all issues of gender roles for the moment, is the list of fruit of the Holy Spirit meant for ALL followers of Jesus Christ, just men, or just women?

    (2) Are the “one another” commands unambiguously split in the New Testament, with some specifically assigned to men only and others to women only, or are ALL the “one anothers” applied to BOTH men and women disciples?

    (3) What other aspects of Christlike character are specifically applied to both men and women? (And I would assume that unless they are specifically delegated to men only or women only, then they apply to both equally.)

    Once you’ve made up your lists to answer those three questions about the “universal” aspects of sanctification for all Christians in all places at all times, then start taking a look at the so-called men-only and women-only passages gender role BEHAVIORS in the New Testament. Do any interpretations of gender-specific roles contradict any of the conclusions from the studies of CHARACTER QUALITIES commanded of ALL disciples? Do any of these universal Christlike qualities have to be explained away or removed from the list by interpretations that support the opinion of gender-specific roles and their associated behaviors?

    To paraphrase that eloquent philosopher on the topic of philosophizing (okay, so, it’s The Oracle in *The Matrix* trilogy) – “That’ll really bake your noodle!” (To which should be added, “Here, have a cookie. By the time you finish it, everything’ll seem right as rain …”) (I wish!)

    Speaking of films, a final thought on my starting from a position of gender limbo. That doesn’t mean I started from zero on masculinity, because there were some very specific events that happened and decisions for paths that I followed away from relating with my father. So there is residual knowledge, but it really has been like seeing “in a mirror darkly.” Though that situation represents personal brokenness and mostly of my own making, it also yields a redemptive edge. I come at gender with questions and perspectives that are very different. So I’ve sought to sound out the larger contours of gender issues with my spiritual sonar. And bit by bit, I’ve been reconstructing the face of what gender looks like to me.

    It’s quite like what Truman goes through in *The Truman Show* and how he remembers “Lauren” – the young woman he met in high school and fell in love with. They weren’t around each other for very long, but he has enough of a memory of her face that he buys women’s fashion magazines under the pretense that they’re for “Meryl,” the second-choice woman he eventually married when those in power spirited away Lauren from the TV show. But in actuality, Truman is ripping apart photo pages when he sees hair styles, or ears, or lips, a nose, etc., that remind him of Lauren. Gradually, he constructs a composite head shot, pasting the rough-edged photo sections together. The human puzzle piece that proves most difficult is find eyes that remind him most of Lauren … the right color, the right shape, the depth of “soul” behind them.

    Similarly, when it comes to reconstructing my gender identity in the image of God, and learning to live it out in dependence on Him, that is a task that is ever before me. But then, isn’t that actually a lifelong task that all of us who follow Christ must negotiate? It’s maybe just that my journey starts from somewhere farther away. But when I see the eyes right, I’ll know I’m closer than I’ve ever been …

  74. I’m just passing through tonight. Way too much reading the last few days to ever catch up, but a couple of things in this article jumped out at me.

    You can be male, but not feel masculine. You can be female, but not feel feminine.

    All references to sexual attraction aside, I’ve never understood what (or who) defines “masculine” and “feminine” or exactly what it means to “feel” one or the other. We’re either male or female (intersexed individuals notwithstanding), but it seems to me most people fall somewhere on a continuous spectrum between what would be considered “ultra masculine” and “ultra feminine” (both extremes personally repulse me, but that’s probably just me) with most males clustered nearer the “masculine” end and most females nearer the “feminine” end, but with a lot of people on the fringes (i.e. closer to the middle). When I think of “masculine” I think of “air-headed beast.” When I think of “feminine” I think of “air-headed doormat.” Somehow I don’t think this is what you mean!

    So, as a young adult, I ultimately identified more with being a “person” than with being a man.

    That has changed, thankfully, and I see my main identity as being a Christian man. Over the years, though, I’ve run into a fair number of men and women with a similar problem. While emphasizing “personhood” may seem like a relatively productive choice, it is still based in wounds and emotional pain that need to be healed.

    Where is this coming from? Are you saying that just because someone doesn’t fall exactly at one end or the other of the spectrum (as defined by whomever) it means they must have “wounds and emotional pain that need to be healed”? Maybe you had issues, but your experience doesn’t apply to everyone. In spite of what people like Al Mohler and the other “comps” tell us, other than biological ones, there are no “pink and blue roles.” We are free in Christ to be who we are without being defined by someone else. (I hate that term “who I am” or “who we are,” but here it applies). We are not free, as you have said, to live in sin. On that we agree.

    My eyes are about to fall out. I’ll finish reading this interesting article later.

  75. Brad -

    Naa! You just think more than many of us and that is the way you were put together! It is a wonderful gift that you have chosen to use to the best of your ability (extreme gift + extreme ability + faith in action = extreme output). It is a thing of beauty! Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  76. Hi notastepfordsheep on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 01:10 AM.

    “What is the answer?” [I was silent.] “In that case, what is the question?” (The last words of Gertrude Stein as told by Alice B. Toklas in her book, *What Is Remembered*.)

    I like questions. I see questions all around me. They tug at my brain and my heart. They draw me in and push me forward because I want to solve the puzzle they pose.

    For me, communication is all about the questions. And much of what I attempt to do in my much ado over everything is to clarify the questions more than dictate The Answers. And from your questions, *notastepfordsheep* (love that handle, by the way!), it looks like we had a cross-cultural communication problem. To illustrate what I see as the specific problems, let me launch into this with a story about linguistics. (These are always among my favorites, as my academic training was in linguistics and teaching English as a second language!)

    A friend of mine had an international exchange student from Europe live with her family for a year. The exchange student’s English skills were fairly good, but she always had trouble with words dealing with a particular human experience: feelings. “You Americans have so many words for emotions! What are the differences between words like angry, enraged, and livid? You guys must have hundreds of words like this, we only have about 30. I don’t know how to translate what you say into what I know.”

    That’s part of what seems to be going on when we (the general populace, but maybe Christians especially) talk about gender and sexuality. We don’t have enough categories to cluster the issues around, and there are so many real-world problems that people actually struggle with that we don’t have vocabulary for. Our job is to listen carefully and figure that out before we can actually get to what people mean by what they say. So this comment is a sort of tutorial about terms to help in that process. It may seem like a lot of razzle-dazzle, but it’s not about sounding impressive or learned. This is ultimately about real people and their real concerns. So, let’s jump in …

    When I wrote “gender” in the section you referred to, I meant “gender identity” but it looks like you read it as “gender roles.” In my word usage, *gender identity* answers questions about mind-body integration or split like:

    * Am I at peace with the birth gender of my body? Does my heart accept that my body is male/female, or am I at odds with myself over this biological reality?

    * How strong or weak is that inner sense of “congruence” between the physical part of my being and my psychological acceptance of it? How strong is the bond between the material and immaterial aspects of being me?

    * If my body is male but I don’t like that I’m male, what will I do about that? Accept it anyway? Reject or ignore that I am male? Act as if I’m female? Change my body through surgeries so I have a female body?

    However, *gender roles* answers questions about what males/men typically do (or should do) in the world versus what females/women do/should do. Check out what I said in my response to Double J on “gender essentialism” and “human universals.” Here are some other related questions on gender roles:

    * Are gender roles based in BIOLOGY (and therefore appear the same everywhere and at all times – but it seems clear enough that this is not the case or it would be researchable, measurable, and predictable)?

    * Or are they based in BIBLE REVELATION (and therefore *should* be the same everywhere and always, but we don’t see that happening because of our ignorance and sin and culture)?

    * Or are they based in SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION (and therefore differ over times and places, based on what groups of people value and believe).

    When we start putting all of this together, there are lots of questions:

    * Polarity – Beyond genitals and other physiological differences between males and females, what other typical differences are there, such as differences in brain lobe connections and the resulting learning styles or perception abilities? (Some people say there are no essential differences other than “primary plumbing” – other than genital differences, everything else is based in social construction.)

    * Parity – Whom do we value in our culture and why? Are men and women on par with how we value them – in theory and/or in practice? On what basis do we decide that value – culture (social construction) or revelation (biblical) or biological (genetics).

    * Complementarity [NOTE: This word existed before the patriarchalism movement coined Complementarianism to label themselves.] – How do those polar opposite differences work together, if at all, to “complement”/complete one another? Are these complementary aspects based in biology-genetics-evolution and are naturally known; or in Bible-revelation-divine dictation because we wouldn’t know otherwise; or in culture-social construction-collective wisdom because there are no standards and we get to do what we want?

    Okay. So that was all the build-up to considering some additional categories and vocabulary in the contours of issues dealing with gender and sexuality. Hold on to your seat belt … I did not create all this vocabulary. Many of the technical terms were gleaned over years of searching. The key problem is that I did not find much at all about the specific issues (non-genderism) that I discerned I was dealing with, so I kept searching.

    PHYSICAL ISSUES. Am I male, female, intersexual, hermaphrodite, eunuch. Are the sources of any anomaly found in issues that are genetic, developmental, hormonal, accident, other?

    GENDER IDENTITY. Am I in congruence between physiology and psychology? Yes (masculine or feminine identity)? If no, have I retreated from gender altogether (non-gender, “person”), or cross-identified with the opposite gender from my birth gender (transgender), or bi-identified (androgynous)? If I am transgendered, is that cross-identification episodic (transvestite or drag queen/drag king), consistent (transvestophile), or permanent (transsexual)?

    GENDER ROLES. (See the sections above for general questions of biology, Bible revelation, and social construction; as well as polarity, parity, and complementarity.) How does these questions and components relate with SYSTEMS of describing gender roles: complementarianism, patriarchalism, mutualism, egalitarianism? What other well-formulated systems are missing from this list?

    ADDITIONAL IDENTITY AND ORIENTATION ISSUES. With Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly called, Multiple Personality Disorder), many if not most men and women experience “alters” (distinct personalities) that are opposite gender, and sometimes alters that are

    SEXUAL ORIENTATION. If I have gender identity congruence, am I sexually attracted to the opposite gender (heterosexual), same gender (homosexual), both genders (bisexual)? If I am non-gendered, do I have any sexual attractions? If I am bi-identified/androgynous, what are my sexual attractions? If I am transgendered, am I transheterosexual (for example, male who identifies self as female and is attracted to heterosexual men) or transhomosexual (for example, a female who identifies self as male and is attracted to homosexual males)? Other orientations: self (autosexual), no one (non-sexual), anything goes (pansexual)?

    SEXUAL EXPRESSIONS. Practices, partialisms, fetishes, dysfunctions, amplifiers, addictions.

    One could make a flow chart out of all of this … and actually, years ago, I started doing flowcharts and Venn diagrams and other kinds of visual tools to try to show the associations among body, soul, and spirit when it comes to gender and sexuality. The “big picture” point to keep in mind here is that these issues are not on a simple spectrum between polar opposites, like “masculine or feminine” or “heterosexual-bisexual-homosexual.” It’s a three-dimensional system with multiple factors to consider. I also think it’s important to see the entire field of issues and combinations of issues that people can have. Gender and sexuality are close to the core of who we are as human beings, so the actual range is more complex that what we may have expected.

    And here is the biggest “so what” point of all: THESE ARE REAL PEOPLE WHOM GOD LOVES, NOT “CASE STUDIES” IN SEX AND GENDER ANOMALIES, NOT “MINISTRY PROJECTS.” Yes. I am, umm, talking extremely loud here. I am personally acquainted with Christians in all but 2 of the 35 or so subcategories above of physical, gender, and sexuality issues. Their hurts and concerns are real. Their desire to follow Jesus is also real. Don’t they deserve our compassion – and not condemnation – as they seek to do the same thing we do, which is find Christlike transformation? A good deal more GRACE TOWARD AND PERSEVERANCE WITH “PEOPLE IN PROCESS” is in order in our churches. That is … if we truly want to demonstrate Christlikeness ourselves, and disciple others into transformation to become more Christlike themselves.

  77. NSS

    I think that Justin can speak to this issue from his own experience at GCN. There are people who have deep wounds in this area. He did not mean to imply all people have deep wounds in this area. I asked him to speak to this issue in regards to his life and GCN, not the entire world.Justin was kind in his response and is attempting to educate people to his experiences. There are not many like him in this world and I appreciate his kindness to me.

  78. Brad,
    The writing process you describe with Jeanette, and the Slinklings, remind me of why I spend too much time here on TWW. Been camping in the Idaho mountains this week with virtually no Internet and suffering withdrawal. Did bring several good chocolate varieties along, however. Too cold to sit here by the lake any longer and read more comments. Great article, and still trying to recall times I might have met you in Pullman, close to 40 years back!

  79. You raise some interesting questions, Brad. Thank you for the thoughtful response. Maybe it is just a difference in semantics, but I’m not a particularly deep person nor am I all that into “feelings.” I’m concrete. I tend to think, not feel. I try to keep it simple, and my question was meant to be simple. I don’t really get any insight into your thoughts on the subject from your answer as it went way deeper than I wanted to go. (I think the term is “asexual,” not “non-sexual.”) I still would like to know “who” gets to define “masculine” and “feminine” and why not living up to “whomever’s” expectations of one or the other is such a seemingly threatening thing to many people. This isn’t a personal “attack” against you or anyone else (I hope I didn’t come across that way), just one of those “I wonder who gets to make the rules” things I sometimes ponder. I don’t expect anyone to have the answer. Fair or not, that’s just the way things are.

    Dee, I was just responding to what he wrote:

    So, as a young adult, I ultimately identified more with being a “person” than with being a man.

    That has changed, thankfully, and I see my main identity as being a Christian man. Over the years, though, I’ve run into a fair number of men and women with a similar problem. While emphasizing “personhood” may seem like a relatively productive choice, it is still based in wounds and emotional pain that need to be healed.

    His later response addressed this to some extent, but it still sounds as if “emphasizing personhood” instead of strongly identifying with one end or the other of the pink-blue spectrum is a condition that he believes always needs to be “healed.” I could be wrong about his intent, and it could just be semantics again, but it seems to me the world, and even more so the church, would be much more pleasant places if we all treated each other first and foremost as fellow “persons” with the same respect with which we’d like to be treated instead of making one set of rules for females and another for males. A good example of this is the whole “women need love, men need respect” movement (and believe me, it’s a whole cottage industry these days). I strongly disagree with their premise. This idea that men are such fragile creatures women have to constantly stroke their egos is ridiculous as is the notion that men have to coddle and patronize women. (Some days I think if I’m addressed as “hon” or “sweetie” one more time by some man who doesn’t know me from Adam I’m going to snap!) I can’t speak for all women (so I could be completely wrong), but I don’t see how you can love someone you don’t respect first. I desire respect above everything because if someone doesn’t respect me, they sure as heck can’t love me. I don’t see how you can separate the two.

    There have been some excellent comments on the subject I was addressing on today’s post from people who expressed my sentiments much better than I.

    (I sure wish your man behind the curtain would reinstate the preview function!)

  80. Stop confusing me, Dee! Brad or Justin? I’m not sure who I was talking to or who is answering now.

  81. brad – i’m confused as to why you’re pairing “bi-identified” with “androgynous.”

    They’re not at all the same thing.

  82. Looking back, my original question included the disclaimer, all references to sexual attraction aside.

  83. @ numo Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:08 AM: “Bi-identified” maybe wasn’t the best term for me to use, but I don’t recall that there really was any technical term available. I was thinking mostly of a paradigm of “fusion” so that there is simultaneous identification with both male and female, fused into one.

    And I guess “androgyny” can actually apply both to gender identity and to gender roles.

    Is this why they call all this stuff “gender confusion”?

    I don’t know if there’s even a need for a book on this, but I just know from lots of conversations with friends that there are many nuances that just don’t seem to show up in any popular-level of professional-level resources. (Or at least not up to 10 years ago.)

  84. @ notastepfordsheep, Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 01:04 AM.

    Who gets to make the rules about gender roles?

    Freud and complementarians would both answer with a form of “Anatomy is destiny.” Of course, the complementarians would add something like, “… because God made us that way.” But then the garden, the Fall, the curses, etc., mess up biology the way they mess up everything.

    Some theologies might suggest that God gives a few guidelines, but the rest we fill in ourselves. Other theologies don’t have (or don’t want) any differences between men and women in how they behave.

    Probably a lot more people these days want to fill in gender roles and behaviors according to whatever their hearts desire.

    There may be other approaches to all this, but I guess it all comes down to who ultimately is God or who plays god. It’s an especially dicey problem in Christian circles any time we attach “God says” or “the Bible *clearly* states” yadda-yadda about gender behaviors. A lot of people want rules and checklists to live by – assuming the best of them, it’s because they want to do the right thing; assuming the worst of them, it’s because they are slackers and don’t want to think for themselves. Either way, it brings fear and loathing into the picture.

    With the idea of self-determination, you’ll figure out for yourself who decides what constitutes “appropriate” gender roles/behaviors, or you’ll let someone else decide for you. That’s the way these things go, eh?

  85. With the idea of self-determination, you’ll figure out for yourself who decides what constitutes “appropriate” gender roles/behaviors, or you’ll let someone else decide for you. That’s the way these things go, eh?

    Nah, I think I’ll just continue to “be myself” and not give a hoot how other people “define” me. I’m confident in “who I am.” If someone has a problem with my choices in life, it’s their problem, not mine.

  86. @ About 40 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 12:08 PM said: [You speak of finding your identity in manhood, not personhood – that confused me. You see, I am a Christian woman (straight, single) who find my identity in personhood, not womanhood. There is no trauma to it, only confusion. The stand-before-the-mirror exercise was easy for me. I looked in the mirror and said: “Thank you, Lord, for making me a a woman. Because somehow You must have had some reason for it. I just have not found it yet.” A few years ago I’d have done it with no emotion, negative or positive, it would have been a simple fact. It would have been no different than saying: “Thanks for making me brown-haired. I don’t know why You did, though.” But since I heard so many so-called “complementarians” about it the past few years, I say it now with slight exasperation. So many believe it makes me a totally different person who has to live a totally different, pink version of Christianity. Any comments, Brad? You think something is wrong with me for not identifying as a Christian woman?]

    A few thoughts … At a young age, I had some experiences where I decided that being a man wasn’t safe, wasn’t good, wasn’t what I wanted. And yet, I was male. I rejected not simply a role, but also the whole biological framework of my being. In a way, it was a body image problem, taken to the utmost extreme. I retreated from my God-given gender and lived as if my maleness wasn’t true. So, for me, “healing” required acknowledging that I was living my life out of hurt, anger, and lies, not embracing healthy possibilities God had for me in truth and in the reality that I was born male.

    It sounds like from your comment that you are living with frustration over the demands of other people for you to live the way they want you to live. Seems they are the ones living the lie that they have authority and power over you. But you aren’t buying what they’re selling. So, you aren’t living a lie. I was.

    Also, we aren’t here by chance, at least, I don’t believe we are. And part of discovering the trajectory of our destiny is exploring the whole providential package that God created in each of us as individuals, and the composite of giftings and resources we find in groups of people He brings together. Perhaps any particular feature we possess doesn’t seem to hold any great significance – gender, hair color, body type. But sometimes the seemingly smallest feature does.

    For instance, as a child, Amy Carmichael wished she had blue eyes instead of brown. But the color of eyes she had, turned out to be a monumental asset, because it gave her easier acceptance when she established an orphanage among the people of India, who mostly have … brown eyes. In one story I heard about her, she rescued a number of young girls from temple prostitution. Would she have gone unnoticed if she had blue eyes? Sometimes physical features prove providential.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amy_Carmichael

  87. Wendy on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:45 AM asked: “Paul said that it is preferable for Christians to remain single, but he knew that many folks couldn’t maintain that ideal due to their personal needs. I’m not at all suggesting that folks with SSA [same-sex attractions] are any less desirable of intimacy, but is it possible that those who choose to never act on their SSA or those who leave gay relationships or the lifestyle behind are stronger in some way like Paul?”

    I’m not sure I have an exact answer to your question, Wendy. But I would say this: Displaying a “perfect record” of not engaging in immoral behavior doesn’t demonstrate a perfect record in one’s heart. Just because I didn’t murder anyone doesn’t mean I didn’t sin through my anger. So, I don’t know that “strength” is always indicated by lack of sin; I wonder if a better indicator is tenacity in perseverance despite temptations.

    Also, obedience as a disciple is a learned discipline. For me, there were other things than just will power at work. For instance, one deterrent to “acting out” on same-sex attractions was the thought that if I started, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to stop. That can just be the nature of addiction. All that to say, “success” is not a mere matter of will power and self-discipline. It must include giving ourselves grace, mercy, and space for transformation because “recovery from” or “avoidance of” such life-dominating issues never goes quickly. What we want is, “Snap, zap, the end of the crap.” What we get – no matter the particular deeply rooted issue – is a long arc of change that requires more than we can manage by ourselves.

    In fact, perhaps part of the reason why I could learn to deal with the same-sex attractions in the way I did was that the pastor of the church where I became a born-again Christian in college emphasized that, to paraphrase, “God has no skyscrapers of sin where some are better, others worse. No matter how high our righteousness goes, it still never reaches the horizon of God’s perfect righteousness.” At least his teaching “normalized” any and every temptation. He left no one with room for self-righteousness because of the kind of sins they struggled with. At the foot of the Cross, they’re all the same, so we’re all the same – sinners in need of salvation – and sanctification! That doesn’t excuse anything, doesn’t make the behaviors moral. It just makes the struggle to overcome temptation a normal part of everyday discipleship. Okay, so … I’m no super-epic-mega-hero kind of follower of Jesus, but I guess I can work at doing at least that …

    Ultimately, I wonder how many people end up going full force into all kinds of sinful choices and lifestyles, simply because the strong message conveyed in churches only focuses on the fact that the behavior is sin – and this leaves people without any hope or help. It basically gives no truly biblical alternative to sin, because there is no empowerment to resist the “besetting temptations,” no equipping to survive for the long haul, no relationships for support. This is not genuine community, it’s just control. I understand … I’ve spent my share of time in the role of the hyper-righteous judge.

    So, for all of us with any particular life-dominating problems, we need the strength of the Lord, we need to be strong in the Lord, and we draw strength from community. And that kind of triple-strong support will help us move along a trajectory toward Christlikeness …

  88. Has anyone thought about the increase of vaccines(with various animal DNA included) the GMO’s that people consume on a daily basis in their food supply or the huge amount of chemicals in the products people use every day as perhaps some of the reason that homosexuality is much more common these days?

    Look at all the balding guys in their 20′s-30′s… didn’t used to be like that.

    Sometimes we get caught up in psychological and spiritual causes for something when it may be physically related.

    Excellent point, not to mention the epidemic of obesity, wheat bellies, and Type 2 diabetes. Could there also be a connection to the increase in allergies (how often did you hear about peanut allergies 40 years ago?), autism, and ADHD?

    Of course, homosexuality has always existed. People just weren’t so open about it. But there seems to be some evidence that exposure to certain hormones during fetal development can influence sexual orientation. How much of a role is our modified food supply having on that, and is the incidence of homosexuality actually increasing?

    Speaking of Chick-fil-A, I know personally plenty of folks who stood in line on CFA Appreciation Day to support free speech (NOT!) and “God’s definition of marriage” that don’t come close to living exemplary lives for various reasons.

    I, too, support Dan Cathy’s right to free speech (and agree with what he said which was not “hateful”). I did not stand in line to eat at CFA and wouldn’t because I don’t care for their food. Even food I like wouldn’t be worth fighting the crowds that showed up at CFAs around the country on August 1st. I wonder if all those rah-rah supporters of CFA would have stood in line to support “free speech” if it was free speech they didn’t agree with.

    Kudos to “Double J’s” comments of August 22nd which I just read. That was my reaction as well. S/he just stated it better than I.

  89. Notastepfordsheep,

    “I wonder if all those rah-rah supporters of CFA would have stood in line to support free speech if it was free speech they didn’t agree with.”

    I wondered the same thing. What if Dan Cathy had discussed what Jesus said about greed, materialism, and concern for our own possessions and wealth? Would Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck have organized a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day then? Would there have been the crowds? My facebook blew up that day with anti-gay and “God’s definition of marriage” links and comments.

  90. Brad,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response to my questions. I agree that there need to be drastic changes in the way the church and community supports and empowers gay people.

  91. It just occurred to me where I lost you (Brad) in a lot of what you wrote. You’re using the term “gender” in place of the proper term, “sex.” For example, you wrote:

    If I have gender identity congruence, am I sexually attracted to the opposite gender (heterosexual), same gender (homosexual), both genders (bisexual)?

    A heterosexual is attracted to the opposite sex. A homosexual to the same sex, a bi-sexual to both sexes.

    “Gender” is a description of where someone, regardless of his or her biological sex, falls on the masculine-feminine spectrum or the “roles” society (or whomever) constructs to pigeonhole people into neat “pink” and “blue” boxes. (Or grammatical gender which is something entirely different all together.)

    More and more these days I hear the two terms used interchangeably when they mean different things, often when people seem embarrassed to say the word “sex.”

  92. @ notastepfordsheep. That’s probably been part of the problem behind not connecting … sorry we didn’t catch that sooner.

    A couple thoughts. Yes, *sex* and *gender* are sometimes used interchangeably, and they probably shouldn’t be, which adds to the confusion, and I’m not certain that there’s been general agreement on the proper definitions and usages of the terms.

    Also, I had been researching and trying to understand some very technical stuff that people I knew were dealing with that was such a mixture of variations on both those terms that it was even more convoluted in terms of vocabulary. [I'll leave out the examples.]

    So, some vocabulary that I used in my article and comments probably carried over some nuanced meanings from that research and conversations with friends that was too technical for what I was intending to do here. Ah well, live and learn.

  93. Bisexual: more of a “can be attracted to people of both sexes” thing, I think.

    The Kinsey Scale is a well thought-out tool in terms of looking at some of the nuances of sexual attraction.

  94. @ numo on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:09 PM.

    Yes, that was better stated about bisexuality – - thanks!

    My vocabulary and ability to describe clearly have gotten rusty. As I mentioned somewhere in all of this, it’s been a long time since I’ve written on these subjects or updated things I wrote before. Not an excuse, just a reality. And if I ever go back into these topics to write about them, I’ll have to work on those skills …

    Actually, at one point I was thinking about writing a book and was doing a significant amount of work on taxonomies of sex and gender. I knew so many people whose concerns were very real, but their conditions also were so rare that they weren’t showing up in any or many resource books. I was trying to find what clues I could and would talk with my friends to see what we could figure out. For instance, I read a lot of books by John Money, and both advocates and critiques of Kinsey, and gender identity development theory by Gerard van den Aardweg, and many other authors – both from secular and Christian worldviews.

    As a sidenote, I can agree that the Kinsey Scale does deal with a lot of nuances in the basic range of sexual orientation, but seems to leave out some factors, such as asexuality. Where does that fit on the Scale? Does it make more sense to develop a quadrant system with an X and Y axis, rather than a unipolar system scale like the one Kinsey et al created?

    And what about people with cross-gender identities? In describing their sexual orientation, do you use their external physiology as the reference point (i.e., their sex), or their internal psychology of who they see themselves as (i.e., their gender identity)? (For instance, transhomosexual male-to-females see themselves as lesbians.) It gets very complicated very quickly. Does it make more sense to develop a three-dimensional system that takes into account both sexual orientation and gender identity, in order to capture the actual contours of the populace? Or maybe a set of quadrant systems, with a different chart for each category or form of gender identity congruence?

    So, for what the Kinsey Scale does, it’s okay, but I consider it too limited because it doesn’t seem to me to cover other real orientations.

    Those were the kinds of technical questions I was asking. But it was for very practical reasons. I was working on this because of the “relief factor” it provided to the men and women I talked with who were trying to address these kinds of complex issues in their own lives and work out discipleship in following Christ. I didn’t understand everything about their situations, or where their conditions came from. I wasn’t offering therapy, just a willingness to listen in order to learn and not judge. And as we talked and struggled to put things into a framework that made sense, there was often that response of “Thank God – somebody finally ‘gets it’ about me!” (I’d experienced the same kind of freeing “ah-ha” revelation and “ahhh” relief myself when I got insights about some of the things I’d been dealing with that I couldn’t find in the reference books.)

    Listening, bearing one anothers’ burdens, advocating for people and being supportive as we “work out our salvation/sanctification with fear and trembling.” Aren’t all of those generic parts of what we are called on to do for one another as siblings in Christ? It’s just that my specific calling frequently turned out to be helping someone process these kinds of gender and sexuality issues. Who knows … maybe when I finish the mega-project I’ve been working on, I’ll be led back toward writing on gender and sexuality again.

  95. – Wow . . . , Brad . . . , dude!

    I read top to bottom & am SO GLAD Alan posted a link – woot!

    I’m tired, my eyes are burning, but reading everyone’s posts has been a blessing!

    Thank You, PAPA, for Brad, & for all of Your image-bearers who are represented on this forum – woo-hoo!!!

  96. Brad – I’ve just read through your responses to comments on your post, & once again I’ve learned more about these issues in a few paragraphs than ever at any point in all my years of church going. Please please please write something on a christian understanding & response to transsexual & especially transgender people.
    What an incredible mind you have. Thank you so much.

  97. brad – thanks for your reply!

    I didn’t mean to suggest that Kinsey (or the Kinsey scale) are the be-all and end-all; only that the KS can be helpful in showing people that there is a lot of range in terms of sexual attraction(s)/orientations.

    Personally, I think there is a *lot* of fluidity; also that a whole lot of people who view themselves as exclusively straight re. attractions actually fall into one of the “greyer” categories… but that’s not something that society seems willing to address, let alone the vast majority of churches out there.

  98. @ numo on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 03:39 PM.

    Hello again numo … and sorry if my response came across as defensive … wasn’t meant to, and I didn’t take your comment that way either. It’s difficult to try to get the “tone” in writing “right” – especially when “stream of consciousness” writing can end up sounding like “SCREAM of consciousness”! (I need to be more careful, “rants” can too easy sound like “vent without repent”!)

    Actually, it was very helpful to the overall discussion that you mentioned the Kinsey Scale, as it brought up random information about trying to find (or create) tools that could help people understand themselves and others.

    And speaking of random information related to the Kinsey Scale, vocabulary evolves, and in the mid- to late-1970s, one of the terms in use occasionally was “stray” – which stood for “not quite straight, not quite gay.”

    Also, you said, [Personally, I think there is a *lot* of fluidity; also that a whole lot of people who view themselves as exclusively straight re. attractions actually fall into one of the “greyer” categories… but that’s not something that society seems willing to address, let alone the vast majority of churches out there.]

    There are a few key things that seem to have emerged from the “crowd-sourced” themes in the comments on this TWW series on homosexuality. One of them is that the Church is inconsistent on what it deems “bad” sins and “acceptable” sins. Inconsistency means lack of integrity and hypocrisy. So, that’s a key take-away. If a church wants to have a witness of integrity about both faith and practice, we’ve got to “file off the excesses” and “fill in the gaps.”

  99. @ Beakerj on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 03:25 PM, said: “Please please please write something on a christian understanding & response to transsexual & especially transgender people.”

    I truly will be praying about that, and would ask you to pray, too, and we’ll see what emerges. If that’s the way I’m being led, it would likely be done sometime after I complete at the least the first of three curriculum pieces I’ve been working. I’ve felt compelled to finish that before picking up more projects. But one never knows – the Lord has the first and last word on directions and directives.

    And certainly, something going in favor of my doing something sometime is that I’ve had at least a dozen Christian friends – both male birth gender, and female birth gender – who have wrestled with transgender issues. Some dealt with transvestism, others transsexuality. Some dealing with transsexuality had no hormone therapies or surgeries toward “sex-reassignment,” others had partial surgeries and other therapies. One underwent complete reassignment surgeries and then determined eventually that this was living a lie. That realization came simultaneously with realizing the need to follow Jesus into the truth. So, insofar as humanly possible, they reverted to their birth gender through a series of reconstructive surgeries.

    Who knows … perhaps one or more of my friends would be willing to co-author something.

  100. brad – no worries! I didn’t take your response as being at all negative; it sounds like you’re really mulling over a lot of things that I can only touch on in a superficial way. (Especially per trans and intersex folks and non-gender-conforming behaviors and feelings in general.)

    I appreciate your willingness to tackle some of the most “difficult” topics, though at this point, I think too much of the American church’s response (if it even *is* a true response) to LGBTQ people is more on the order of Lester Maddox’s fevered campaign to continue Jim Crow (among other things). Interesting – and more than a little ironic – that he, too, owned a fried chicken place…

  101. Time for a wrap-up comment, as the series comes to a close.

    First, thanks again to Dee for hosting this topic, and giving me an opportunity to share my story and perspectives, and to Dee and Deb for all they do for the community here at The Wartburg Watch.

    Second, thanks to all who participated in commenting here. The discussion went much farther, wider, and deeper than I expected. With the other article I posted on Misogyny, Misandry, and Pathways of Peace [ see link below ], the total word count went over 30,000! I know I didn’t get to every question or nuance, but hopefully your found our interactions helpful in reaching toward better questions, clearer thinking, more compassionate actions.

    http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/misogyny-misandry-and-pathways-of-peace/

    Finally, a special note of thanks to friends of mine who dropped in to read the post and left a comment here, or messaged me via other methods. These men and women, singles and couples, are some of the many, many individuals who have kept me going through “the dark days” that we all have now and again. I seem to have had more than most, because of my dealings with “malignant ministries” along the way. I don’t know that I would have survived without you, my friends! If only each of us had such an incredible group of spiritual siblings for support along the way, the Kingdom would be a far more safe and healthy place for following after Jesus …

  102. “I see suffering as inevitable, perhaps even anguish as inevitable. But despair and futility are not. The pathway I have chosen is one I consider the way of the cross. It is a way that acknowledges/embraces and redeems suffering to generate beauty in the midst of ashes.”

    To me, THAT is the definition of following Christ. Taking up your cross and dying to self daily.

    Now, if you need any help researching chocolate for your article, I am most definitely available. :)

  103. @ Vicki in NC. Thanks for your comment. This perspective and the pursuit of it aren’t always fun or easy, but I think I could honestly say that, in the long run, there’s been fulfillment in the Way.

    And there are those moments … speaking of which, as to chocolate research, well, I don’t know if the samples would melt in the mail, but who knows … The business I may be writing for creates some of their own chocolate and cocoa treats. And they also used historical research to find and update “drinking chocolate” recipes from the colonial period in the U.S. All I can say is, “I’m in … so bring it on!”

  104. We eat a little dark chocolate every evening. Usually get the large Hershey special dark bar, and it will last the two of us 3-4 days. And since we have been doing that, we have been losing a little weight each week.

  105. Brad, it gives me such joy to see your blend of intelligence, faithfulness, and compassion. This is a brilliant thoughtful yet heart-inspiring testimony for which I rejoice! (I so hope I get to visit with you in person again, and soon!) These two paragraphs resonated especially:

    “Over the last 40 years, I’ve considered alternative views on Scripture in general, and different interpretations of passages specifically on same-gender sexual behaviors. It seems to me that many of these views start with the assumption that our feelings and attractions are the ultimate value, and then find ways to interpret in favor of our attractions the questions we wrestle with about moral revelation, and why would God “make us this way” and then condemn us for it, and such like. I started with a different working assumption – that God is Lord and He reveals things we would not otherwise know, and He sets the standards for personal morality and social ethics.

    And that means it’s actually irrelevant to my obedience as a follower of Jesus whether these attractions are from nature, nurture, both, or neither. If the Almighty says a specific behavior is sin, my response should be to trust the Spirit’s empowerment to avoid it. So, I haven’t found these other interpretations intellectually or spiritually viable, even if at times they might make life seem emotionally or relationally easier. To me, they lead in another of the many broken, sinful ways that God never intended for people to go.”

  106. P.S. I also appreciated this part about “radical discipleship”:

    “Some might say I’m suffering for nothing, but again, I’m not working from their paradigm. I see suffering as inevitable, perhaps even anguish as inevitable. But despair and futility are not. The pathway I have chosen is one I consider the way of the cross. It is a way that acknowledges/embraces and redeems suffering to generate beauty in the midst of ashes.”

    Thank you, and hugs with admiration at your flexible strength of mind, matched only by the amazing pretzel-flexibility of body demonstrated years ago to the audible gasps of others present. :-)

  107. Thanks for your comments, Sonia … much appreciated and they made me smile. Actually, I’d nearly forgotten about contortions, although I make sure to keep in practice and stretch enough to prove I can still do the splits at least once every five years.

    And Dee, there are many little-known facts about me, one of which is that I used to entertain with contortionist tricks (far too early in life to have made it onto *America’s Got Talent* though). Another is that I do “operatic whistling,” which my Italian grandfather taught me to do at about age 8, so I have about 50 years of practice in on that in case I do decide to try out for AGT.