New Breed of Evangelicals Supports Marriage Equality

[Listen to a podcast with Evangelicals for Marriage Equality spokesman Brandan Robertson.]

Imagine it: The Evangelical Christian church in America is a place of extravagant welcome for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians.

Not the kind of welcome that we have right now. You know, the one where we’re welcome to sit in the pew, sing songs and put our money in the plate as it passes by, but we are not allowed to lead Sunday School, youth groups, or, heaven forbid, be church leaders such as deacons or preachers.

No, really. Take a moment to imagine the Evangelical church welcoming LGBT Christians with no conditions — with the unconditional love of Christ — just as they are. And while you’re lost in that fantastical fantasy, imagine those church leaders embracing you in your same-sex marriage and celebrating your relationship.

This is the vision of a new organization called Evangelicals for Marriage Equality.

Founded about a year ago by Josh Dickson, the former Deputy Director of Faith Outreach for the Democratic National Convention and Michael Saltsman, vice president of a Washington, D.C., research firm, the fledgling organization has big plans for the future of the Evangelical church.

“As Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, we believe you can be a devout, Bible-believing evangelical and support the right of same-sex couples to be recognized by the government as married,” reads the opening line from the statement posted at their Web site. “Our commitment to following Christ leads us to speak out for equal treatment under the law for others — whether or not they share our religious convictions.”

Those are fighting words to leaders of the right-wing evangelical church. The statement was found so revolutionary that three Christian magazines — Christianity Today, Relevant and World Magazine — turned down a full-page advertisement for the launch of the new group in September.

The organization has also been attacked by other evangelical leaders such as Andrew T. Walker, director of policy studies for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who accused the group of not making its case for marriage equality.

“I saw a lot of emotion. I saw appeals to injustice and craven caricatures of Christianity, but I didn’t see any real arguments,” writes Walker.

Brandan Robertson, the spokesman for EME is not surprised by the backlash.

“We expected that because the sad history of Evangelicalism shows we have become bogged down with a political agenda,” Robertson told Whosoever in a recent interview. “Everyone who has responded to us has missed the point saying things like we’re trying to redefine marriage or water down theology. But, our statement explicitly says we’re not asking anyone to change their theology but rather we are saying, ‘you have a right to hold that theology but are you called by Christ to work to Christianize our government or are we called to love our neighbor?'”

EME has some heavy-hitters among on their advisory board ready to help make that case including well-known author and theologian Brian McLaren and Richard Cizik, the former vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. Cizik resigned that post in 2008 after saying during an interview on NPR that his views on same-sex marriage were “shifting,” and that he believed civil unions should be available for gays and lesbians.

In a post on the EME site he now writes: “While I haven’t come to a conclusion on gay marriage within the Church, believing sincere people will reach different answers on that question, I am convinced that we cannot deny basic societal and constitutional rights — equal protection and due process under the law — to people based on their sexual orientation or practice.”

This is the fine line the organization is walking — urging evangelicals to leave marriage to the political arena and reclaim the gospel of Jesus for the religious arena.

“We hope that as we change the hearts and minds of evangelicals through these conversations that our posture toward the LGBT community will improve because for far too long the church has been on the wrong side of history,” Robertson explained. “Once again, with this issue we have put aside the call of Jesus and picked up political agendas. It’s really harmful and oppressive to the LGBT community and we don’t believe that should continue.”

In October, Robertson and others from the organization will try to begin that heart-changing dialogue with Southern Baptist leaders at Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Robertson hopes to sit down with some of the leaders speaking at the convention to make his case for evangelical support of marriage equality.

Robertson hopes to make it clear to those leaders that their anti-gay message is not resonating with millennial members of the congregation. A 2014 Gallup poll revealed that 45% of young evangelicals support same-sex marriage, while only 19% of their elders over 50 do.

“We’re trying to show the older evangelicals that this is a generational issue and instead of pushing us out of the church because we support same-sex marriage, we want to show that we are people of integrity with biblical values, but this is where we’ve come to on this issue,” Robertson said.

He is going to Nashville optimistic that he can made a difference.

“If I can, as a millennial, sit in a room with evangelical leaders and have this discussion and show that dialogue is possible, that witness to evangelical millennials will be powerful and will allow them to come out in support of these issues,” he said. “As long as people of power don’t talk with millennials, there will be fear mongering language used and young evangelicals will shy away from speaking out on things they actually believe in and we’ll stay in our theological box. We want to be an example that these conversations can happen and you don’t have to give up your evangelical credentials to do it.”

Robertson does not approach his task with rose-colored glasses, however. He realizes that those evangelicals with political power, especially, will not move easily on a message that has served them well and kept organizational coffers full. In addition, he knows there are fences to mend with the LGBT population hurt by the evangelical crusade against the community.

“If you say the word ‘evangelical’ to the LGBT community, one of the first things that pops into their minds is “anti-gay” or homophobic and we’d like to correct that,” Robertson said.”I’d like them to see that there is a different kind of evangelical that is not working to deny them rights but there are actually people that look like Jesus.”

In the end, Robertson’s vision for the church is one of welcome for LGBT people, without strings or a hidden agenda to change LGBT people or champion legislation against them.

“If we can figure out how we can rediscover the root of the Good News and really center ourselves back around Jesus, the church is going to become a place that has tremendous potential for good,” he said. “It’s going to become a safe haven for LGBT men and women. It will become a place of safety and dialogue as well as a place for doubt. That’s a church I really envision and want to cultivate.”

America’s Religiosity: A Gut Check of Its Christianities

It’s hardly news anymore that a growing number of Americans are checking the box “none” on surveys of religious belief. According to Pew Research Center polling, one-fifth of the public and a third of those under thirty are unaffiliated with any religious entity.

Among those left who still report being affiliated, the percentage of fundamentalists and other conservatives is increasing. It’s the pie that’s shrinking and leaving the right-wing to have a bigger share.

Relying on figures publicized by denominations is problematic. There are convenient ways for memberships to be counted.

But even the granddaddy of right-wingers, the Southern Baptist Convention, reported this year that it’s losing members and baptizing fewer people. Their response, of course, wasn’t to question their teachings but to assume they needed better marketing.

Those who are religiously addicted never question what they’re teaching. They’re so invested in it that to do so would be a real downer for their high of righteousness.

They always assume that it’s the packaging that needs up-dating. Hence the stagings of hipster churches, or prosperity mega-churches like Joel Osteen’s and Rick Warren’s that refuse not to smile.

These fundamentalist-with-a-positive-attitude approaches have become multi-million dollar empires. Many drawn into them cherish those positive feelings without commitment to their worn out hidden theologies.

They eschew the language and public demeanors of the Fred Phelpses or other regressive clergy who get national media attention for their otherwise insignificant congregations through outrageous anti-gay acts, burning Qurans, or rantings about divine punishment ready to rain down on the country for whatever cultural fears they can stoke in the gullible who feel they’re losing in the victories of American oligarchy.

It’s still this Christian movement that, like the addict in a family, gets most of the attention, steers the agenda, and keeps progressives in a defensive posture. There are a number of reasons for that.

First, and foremost, right-wingers are the religious category with the most money to spend on their causes. How many pastors would take a more progressive stand on numerous issues, believing that it’s what Jesus would do, if they weren’t afraid that key people would leave their churches, particularly the wealthiest givers, who’re usually conservative?

Conservative theology attracts many of the rich because it justifies the accumulation of wealth. It preaches that wealth is as a sign of divine blessing.

Look at the right-wing Green family that owns Hobby Lobby. Their recent Supreme Court victory seemed to have little to do with their faith because they profited from selling what was made in a country that mandated abortion and had previously funded the contraceptives they discovered to be against their beliefs only when a president they wanted to destroy backed them.

The conservatives’ choice of Biblical passages to take literally is never “It’s harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of god” or “Give all you have to the poor and follow me” or the numerous passages in the Hebrew scriptures about usury that say never loan money and ask for ANY interest. And the dominant religion in any culture is the one that supports the status quo and its powerful.

Second, progressive churches regularly fail at acting progressive. They have progressive theologies, but aren’t sure what to do with them, often out of nervousness about upsetting the very status quo that marginalizes Christian progressives.

This has left challenging regressive Christianities to atheist, agnostic and skeptic organizations along with non-Christian religious movements. The established baptist-inspired Americans for the Separation of Church and State has been joined by more anti-religious groups such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation. And to the original American Humanist Association a growing list of others have been added.

Progressive churches have instead taken up charity activities. In the light of strategic conservative attacks on the government safety net, compassion seems to demand it.

But two observations need to be made here. Right-wing defunding of government assistance programs is a deliberate strategy intended to move liberal money away from politics into making up the difference through funding charities. This gives mega-rich corporations and right-wingers even more of an advantage in buying the political arena while progressive funds are diverted into charities.

But conservative churches do charity as well, and with their major goal to convert recipients to their brand of sectarianism. So, doing charity work, as admirable as it is, doesn’t distinguish progressive churches from fundamentalist ones.

In the mind of younger generations from Generation X to the Millennials, then, there is little reason to come back to a progressive church. These generations are looking for actions that speak to a sense of justice, not what goes on Sunday mornings inside some pious-looking building.

For the progressive church to grow, it will have to move beyond charity to taking a public place in the front line of justice work. For the ten years I was president of the board of a campus ecumenical ministry, what attracted students was exactly that.

Only when convinced we practiced justice, did they ask what we believed and how it fit. Did we march to stand for LGBT rights? Did we support the dignity and power of working people? Did we fight for ecological justice and the future of the planet? Did we live as if all oppressions are offensive and intersecting?

So, when the United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit to protect it’s first amendment right to perform same-sex marriages in North Carolina, that was a belated example of progressive Christianity standing out from all the regressive sectarianism. Their progressive action even led a Baptist alliance to follow them.

And that contradicts the third reason why the religious addicts have dominated national attention. Progressive Christianity has been defensive, always having to respond to what it isn’t, rather than on the offense.

When any position leads, people take notice. Then they see it as a real option, one that real people really believe, walking their walk not just talking some talk.


Robert N. Minor, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, is author of When Religion Is an Addiction; Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to Be Human: and Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society. Contact him at www.FairnessProject.org

Gays Force Religious Right to Lose All Sense of Morality

My goodness, how the impending threat of “gay tyranny” in God’s country, the United States of ‘Murica, has gotten Peter LaBarbera hot under the collar.

The founder of the laughably named Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, has penned a screed worthy of the Bigot Hall of Fame, located somewhere in the South, I’m sure (hey, now, I’m a born and bred Southerner, so I can say these things).

The “gay hysteria”-fueled rhetoric begins in the first couple of sentences as LaBarbera bemoans “how decades of court-imposed favored legal status for homosexuality have already stolen away our ‘freedom to be moral.'”

Really, Peter? The fact that gays and lesbians can get married in 17 states and judges are falling over each other to strike down state constitutional bans on gay marriage has left you bereft of a moral compass? So, I expect we can read the news reports of how you’re now knocking off banks, snatching purses and cheating on your spouse? Please, your “freedom to be moral” is a personal choice. Courts, and their decisions, have nothing to do with it.

Ah, but the right-wing blah-blah “criminalization of Christianity” rhetoric train wreck has just begun. He, of course, drags out a couple of tired examples of why gays and lesbians have no right – NO RIGHT, YOU HEAR ME? – to compare their “sin” with the “skin” of black people.

Do the media know or care that Blacks who believe Scripture that homosexuality is wrong repeatedly have been victimized by “gay” activism — which posits that approval of “gayness” and same-sex relationships trumps one’s personal religious and moral beliefs about sexual morality and marriage?

Does Peter care that there are black people who believe Scripture and don’t believe homosexuality is wrong and see, quite clearly, thank you very much, that discrimination against LGBT people, simply because of who they are or who they love is very much akin to the struggle for black civil rights?

Also, does Peter even realize that what LGBT people are fighting for is not the right to have a sexual relationship (Lawrence v. Texas already solved that problem), but to attain the same right to form life-long relationships that are legally recognized by state and federal governments and have nothing to do with “one’s personal religious and moral beliefs about sexual morality and marriage?”

I personally know married heterosexual couples who participate in a “swingers” lifestyle. I personally disapprove on a moral basis, because I believe in monogamy. But, they’re lovely people and their sexual proclivities have nothing to do with me so I live and let live because, hey, my “freedom to be moral” remains intact no matter what they do.

But, he buries the lead deep in his screed. What Peter is really, really afraid of is that if LGBT people are recognized as “normal” and given “special rights” as, y’know, equal, American, tax-paying citizens, then we’ll no longer be one nation “under God,” never mind that many LGBT people are also people of faith, who understand that religion is a personal thing and have no desire to, um, lord it over others, or cry “discrimination” when someone doesn’t believe like they do.

But, anyway, here’s the money shot:

[I]f true liberty is to survive in this Republic that professes to be “under God,” a boldly conservative state like Oklahoma or Texas will need to stand up to the judicial elitists and pronounce that it will not follow tyrannical SCOTUS or federal mandates imposing legal “equality” for manifestly unequal homosexual behaviors. Such a state would assert that our First Amendment freedom as Americans is sacrosanct — and superior to unnatural, man-made “gay rights” — because “inalienable” rights means not having the dictates of one’s faith and conscience squashed by the secular, soulless State.

Which, honestly, when you get right down to it, sounds an awful lot like a man named Theodore Bilbo, a Mississippi segregationist who wrote a book in 1947 called Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization. I invite you to replace words like “racial integrity,” and “race,” and “racial purity,” with phrases like “traditional marriage,” and phrases like “the social equality of the races and to sanction intermarriage,” with “LGBT equality and ‘gay marriage'” (in scare quotes).

Nothing is more sacred than racial integrity. Purity of race is a gift of God, but it is a gift which man can destroy. And God, in his infinite wisdom, has so ordained it that when man destroys his racial purity, it can never be redeemed. This should be sufficient to show that any statement which says our Christian religion forces us to accept the social equality of the races and to sanction intermarriage as the private affair of the two individuals concerned is utterly and absolutely fallacious. If God gave the Negro the inalienable right to social equality and intermarriage with whites, then we must go further and say that He gave to the black man the right to destroy the white race. –Theodore Bilbo in Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization, 1947

Which is to say that right-wing homophobia is simply the red-headed stepchild of right-wing racism. What Peter and his ilk really fear is the end of the divine right of white, straight men to make all the decisions in this country. White men who happen to be gay are seen as the worst traitors to their race, I mean, sexual orientation, which is why the right wing is so obsessed with not just their marginalization, but their utter and ultimate destruction. Do not be fooled, the opposition to LGBT equality is exactly the same as opposition to black civil rights all those years ago, a dying majority’s last ditch effort to retain its power and influence.

But, perhaps Peter is right all along. I fear that the re-emergence of the thoroughly immoral Jim Crow-type laws popping in state legislatures around the country, without any sense by their sponsors of the historic irony or stench of desperation they emit, really does prove that the right-wing has finally succumbed to its own madness and no longer has the freedom to be moral.

Candace Chellew-Hodge is a recovering Southern Baptist and founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians, and author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians, published by Jossey-Bass. She currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle, a progressive, inclusive community in Columbia, South Carolina. She is also a spiritual director and is currently taking on new directees. She blogs regularly at Religion Dispatches.

The Inevitable Will Take More Effort

As of this writing, 17 states have legal marriage equality. Six got there by a court’s decision, eight by legislative action, and three by popular vote.

It’s fun to say “as of this writing” because the political landscape is changing more quickly than most of us who’ve been working for human rights would ever have expected. It’s exciting.

The excitement also includes pleasant surprises along the way. Just this past month a federal judge in Utah, Robert Shelby – a registered Republican endorsed by Utah’s Tea Party Senator, Mike Lee, as an “outstanding judge” – ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

This so shocked a state beholden to one dominant militantly anti-gay religious empire that its acting attorney general was unprepared to request a stay of same-sex marriages — and that judge didn’t order one! Last December Utah’s actual, duly elected Mormon attorney general had resigned over numerous charges of misconduct and unethical behavior.

The Utah panic began. On the one hand, the Utah State Tax Commission decided that married same-sex couples in Utah may file joint state income tax returns — a change from an earlier state position that wouldn’t have allowed them to file as married.

On the other hand, Utah’s acting attorney general began lawyering-up. After a two-week search, he hired three outside counsels who know what they’re doing according to Utah’s local right-wing think tank, the Sutherland Institute, which seems to be calling the shots for Utah’s state government,

Then another surprise on January 14th when another federal judge struck down as unconstitutional Oklahoma’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. US Senior District Judge Terrance Kern, a life-long Oklahoman educated at Oklahoma State and with a former 24-year private practice in Ardmore, described the ban as “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit.”

“Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed,” Kern’s 68-page decision says. “It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights.”

Oh, oh. If this can happen among the conservative judges of Utah and Oklahoma, then who’s next? Missouri? Alabama? Texas?

And make no mistake about it — the right-wing is running even more scared that this can happen in their own backyards. It’s ready to play even more serious hardball to keep its cultural relevance apparent and its fund-raising up.

It can’t rely on “Duck Dynasty’s” bigotry alone. That national fad is soon to run its course.

Mat Staver, Dean of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University Law School and radical right-wing Liberty Counsel, feels this threat along with all the other well-worn threats to his culture war crusades and fundraising that are coming at him. The courts cannot be trusted, he responded.

“They have no right to act as dictators to undermine not only the will of the people but something that is part of our constitutional history and even beyond that, part of our natural created order.” (Unless they agree with Mat.)

That was one of the saner, less panicky, responses. One headline read: “Obama Judge Invents Constitutional Right to Gay Marriage in Utah” You knew the right-wingers had to make this all Obama’s fault too.

All of this fun for progressives doesn’t call for complacency or major celebrations. The very panic all this puts the radical right-wing in means there are battles ahead no matter how inevitable the victory of justice seems.

The radical right-wing expects that the battle is at state and local levels. And as it did before with school boards, low-level judgeships, city councils, and county legislatures, its strategy is to fight under the largely nationally-focused media radar.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter are just as popular with them as they always were. And the Republican Party and many state legislatures and governors remain tightly in the grip of the Christian right-wing.

As C.J Werleman wrote last month: “the Christian Right now holds a majority of seats in more than half of all Republican Party State Committees. Nearly half of the Senate, and half of all congressmen have an 80-100 percent approval rate from the three most influential Christian advocacy groups: the Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum and the Family Research Council.”

As if giving up on the Presidency and counting on the redistricted House of Representatives to stifle progress, the Republican strategy is to control state politics with super-majorities. Note what’s happened in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Missouri and elsewhere.

The Christian right remains well-funded. Its media and grassroots organizational structures have gone nowhere, its think-tanks are well established, and it’s still convinced it’s playing a long-term strategy.

All of the recent setbacks we’ve been celebrating have only made its members more fearful and far angrier. They feel as if they are the righteous rats who’ve been cornered. And it’s more likely that because of this, the most vulnerable individuals among us will get mauled by their anger.

Out of our common humanity we must take responsibility for being prepared for all that’s about to come. We can’t let down our guard nor compromise our principles.

We can’t abandon other groups because we’ve already gotten ours. And we can’t start acting as if because something is inevitable, we can opt out of the rest of the process toward it.

There are miles to go before we sleep, and traveling them requires no naiveté now. With eyes wide open, Chris Hedges reminds us: “All ideological, theological and political debates with the radical Christian right are useless. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. Its adherents are using the space within the open society to destroy the open society itself. Our naive attempts to placate a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to it that we too have “values,” only strengthen its supposed legitimacy and increase our own weakness.”

Robert N. Minor, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, is author of When Religion Is an Addiction, Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to Be Human, and Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society. Contact him at www.FairnessProject.org.

Never Let Other People Define Your Reality

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

From the time my children were born I exhorted them to obey as a mantra the title of this article. God is to be our Revelator, not mere man! As Isaiah said, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? (Isaiah 2:22)

The verse of Scripture that preceded this article tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God to those who “…call upon the name of the Lord.” (Romans 10:13) We are frequently hammered over the head by perhaps well-intentioned people within and without the Church as to how to think and behave in order to be a Christian. Preachers and evangelists frequently bombard us with guilt-inducing sermons designed to make us feel fragile and fallen. Of course, we are fragile and fallen creatures, and that is why the Church is a hospital for the spiritually sick.

One example of seeking to define others’ realty is that on this very day, a Methodist pastor, Rev. Frank Schaeffer, who blessed the union of his gay son’s marriage was told in a “church trial” that he must renounce same-sex marriage or be defrocked as a minister in the Methodist church. This pastor has stated that he will continue to bless same-sex unions, and it’s very likely that he’ll be defrocked by that denomination. This courageous man refuses to let anyone or any institution define his reality for him!

What a travesty that this church would seek to define his reality and punish him for showing love and acceptance to God’s gay children. It is an outrage that bespeaks the loss of credibility to a church that claims to have “open heart, open hands, open doors.” It is attempting to usurp the conscience of Rev. Schaeffer and enact punishment that violates its very stated tenets.

There is nothing that we can do that takes God by surprise! God is not stupid! He has known from the foundation of the world what each of us would do and how each of us would respond to the free gift of His Sacrifice on our behalf. Moreover, He knows us better than we know ourselves! “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down and art acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:2-3)

Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! Not even our sins! That’s the Good News of the Gospel!

We even see this type of God’s unmerited favor to us in the Old Testament. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who dealeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who croweth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies … As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressioins from us … For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:2-4, 12-14) And that is what we all are: mere dust whom God has inscrutably chosen to use to fulfill His will on this earth.

The easiest way to go astray is to let others, including denominations and other professing Christians, tell us what to think and how to act and, thereby, put us into bondage to their views of the world and their view of how a Christian is to think and act. Clearly, we don’t want to cause a weaker brother or sister to stumble or cause hindrance to the proclamation of the Gospel. Moreover, we are to struggle to live up to God’s will for each of our lives. However, it is a struggle, not an accomplishment. Even the Apostle Paul said that with his mind he served the law of God; “…but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25)

You must not be inauthentic, manifesting seemingly desirable attributes as peace and sweetness when you don’t possess these attributes. God has called us all to be authentic so He can use us as we are and as He and He alone can mature us in the faith. You may solicit others’ advice regarding problems in your life, but if these people love you they will respect your choices, even if they disagree with them.

There has been a long tradition in Catholicism that one’s “informed conscience” trumps any papal pronouncement, Church dogma, and teachings from the Magesterium, or teaching arm, of the Church. There is good reason for this tradition, and that is that in Christianity one size doesn’t fit all. You aren’t a Christian on the basis of what you do as much as you are a Christian on the basis of what you are; what you are is comprised of God’s imputation of His righteousness to you because you trust Him.

Let God have His way with you and never let others define your reality or put you into bondage to their views of the world. Their views may be right for them, but not necessarily right for you.

Some Christians are more mature than others. However, it is God Who does the maturation process within each of us—an accomplishment that no human being can achieve. Before we can mature, we must become broken before God; unfortunately, others may likely home in on our frailties and brokenness—the very qualities that God can use to mature us in the faith and enact His will upon the earth.

Therefore, practicing this article’s title will set you free to be more fully used by God! “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) And LGBT, and all, Christians are free, if we truly internalize the Gospel that Jesus taught and epitomized!

NOM: Shame on Me … Not

My partner and I often play a game called, “So, what I hear you saying is …” In this game, we take a statement and turn it into something completely opposite of what the other person said. For instance, if my partner says, “I like the way you fill out those jeans,” I would reply, “So, what I hear you saying is, I’m fat and need to drop a few pounds.” Or, if I tell my partner, “I love doing things for you,” she may reply, “So, what I hear you saying is, you think I’m high maintenance.”

The folks over at the National Organization for Marriage know this game we play very, very well. NOM has always been known for turning what an opponent says completely on its head in an effort to make themselves look better and their opponent worse. So, it’s no shock that NOM, which only has a passing relationship with the truth, plays this little game while trying to get in a personal attack on me.

Their first shot across the bow is to be too lazy to actually fact check how to spell my name. There is one “o” in my name, not two. It’s Chellew-Hodge – two “e’s,” and one “o.” Hello, cut and paste is your friend!

Then, they get on to their “So, what I hear you saying is …” portion of the game by quoting a piece I wrote in Religion Dispatches:

“To win civil rights, one of the last steps is to make it shameful to be against the rights of the group fighting for recognition.”

Anyone who is not bent on reading demonization and hatred into every little thing written about them would find that sentence quite clear. But in their little game of “So, what I hear you saying is …” the sentence apparently means “it must become ‘shameful’ for people to believe that children deserve a mother and a father, and that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Not even close.

Instead, since they can’t fathom my meaning, let me spell it out simply for them (Note to NOM, read slowly and several times if you must for it to sink in):

I am saying that marriage rights for gays and lesbians will be won when those who oppose it are shamed by their belief that gay and lesbian couples are somehow “less than” a heterosexual couple raising children. No one should ever be shamed for believing children deserve a mother and a father – hell, I wish my own childhood had not been destroyed by the heterosexual shame of divorce. Every child deserves two parents – or even one parent – who loves them beyond all measure, who provides for them, and is dedicated to raising them with integrity and pride in who they are.

What is shameful is that anyone would deny a child the love (and the protection of that child that marriage currently offers) to any set of parents simply because of the gender mix of said parents.

So, NOM, what I hear you saying is that the only way you can make your argument look good is to distort and lie about the arguments of your opponents.

The “Yuck” Vote Strikes Again

Well, the dark forces have prevailed again, this time in Maine. Voters there, by a narrow margin, vetoed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The narrowness of our loss is not much comfort. The “Yuck” Vote strikes again.

Basically, the argument of the anti-equality crowd was the same as always: “Eeeewww, those scary, icky gays wanna do WHAT?!”

Though they try to cloak their revulsion in religious terms, in truth it has nothing to do with moral rectitude.

Straights have been obsessed with sex for at least the last forty years. They have shown — time and time again — that NOTHING: not their own marriages, not their human dignity, not even their supposedly-so-precious children, is as important to them as their own gratification. Which must neither be delayed nor dampened by anybody.

Especially the likes of us.

Everyone and everything must please them. Must entertain them. Because, you know, for them it is always all about themselves.

This is the deep, dark heart of why these people behave as they do. We have cramped their self-indulgent style. Instead of the sexual, sensual “yum” for which they so voraciously hunger, we — quite unforgivably — make them go “yuck.”

It isn’t their sterling morality we violate by wanting to marry for love and properly care for our loved ones. It is their demand for — their obsession with — their own, insatiable pleasure.

Marriage is never what they cared about. It is their own fun. Quite simply, we bum their trip.

They protest that they don’t like imagining “what we do” in bed. Inquiring minds must ask, why do they spend so much time imagining it in the first place? We never invited them on that trip; they took it on their own.

We need to stop allowing these sexual obsessives to hide behind their make-believe morality. THEY are the ones who want the issue of our marriages to be about sex. WE are the ones who want it to be about something much, much more.

Until we reveal our tormentors’ twisted little psyches for what they really are, we will not be able to give our love the protection it deserves.

Oh, No He Didn’t! Obama Defends DOMA

I am beyond angry at the Obama administration for the Department of Justice brief defending the despicable Defense of Marriage Act. The brief is odious and an insult to gays and lesbians who seek nothing more than equal treatment under the law and the enforcement of the United States Constitution that, under its full faith and credit clause, would make DOMA unconstitutional.

I have found one very well written and reasoned article about this betrayal of our community by Obama.

But the brief then proceeds to defend DOMA “on the merits” — using language that is factually incorrect, and arguments that (if adopted by the courts) would damage future attempts to secure gay rights. The Administration argued that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not bar states from denying out-of-state gay marriages, and they cited prior cases of out-of-state marriages that were between (a) an uncle and niece, (b) a 16-year-old and adult and (c) first cousins. Comparing same-sex marriage with incest and pedophilia is what one would expect from a Republican Administration, and for a court to agree with such reasoning is unhelpful.

The problem is, attorneys have been prattling on about how the DOJ just HAD to file a brief defending what is currently law, no matter if they disagreed with the law. Too bad that’s a specious argument:

Richard Socarides, a former top Justice Department official in the Clinton White House, argues that they did. “I know and accept that one of the Justice Department’s roles is to (generally) defend the law against constitutional attack,” he wrote this weekend. “But not in all cases, certainly not in this case — and not in this way … Where there are important political and social issues at stake, the President should make a policy decision first and then the lawyers figure out how to apply it to actual cases. If the lawyers cannot figure out how to defend a statute and stay consistent with the president’s policy decision, the policy decision should always win out.”

Read the whole article. Truly, it’s the best one I’ve read and it gives a full, balanced view of this matter. I’m still pissed off, however. I expected much more from Barack Obama who, after all, has declared himself a “fierce advocate” of the LGBT community.

Note to Pres. Obama: Look up the word “fierce” because this ain’t it.

“First They Came For Us…”

This past Tuesday, the California Supreme Court instituted mob rule. In their 6-1 ruling to uphold Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage, they set a dangerous precedent. It is unclear that the people of America yet understand how dangerous it is.

What the ruling does, in effect, is surrender the rights of the minority to the mob. They think they’ve only put gays and lesbians in their place. But what they have actually done is enable any minority’s rights to be taken away by the majority. Theoretically, the majority of voters in California can decide, at any time, to deprive the members of any minority of their rights.

Which of our rights are expendable, according to majority opinion? Which of their own rights would they regard as expendable? Will they draw the line (at least for others) at all — and if so, where? First they came for us. For whom will they come next?

There’s an old parable that goes something like this: “First they came for the Jews. Nobody else protested, because they weren’t Jews. Then they came for those with dark skin, and others said nothing because their skin was white. Next they came for those who spoke foreign languages, and no one objected because they spoke the native tongue. Then finally they came for me, and there was no one left to protect me because they had all been taken away.”

Many people know this parable. Very few ever seem to learn from it.

Is there a way to take away the rights of anyone without taking them away from everyone?

Californians intend to find out. And as we all know, they are the nation’s trendsetters. Let’s all watch very closely to see how this turns out.