Frequently Asked Questions1. Who are you?
Whosoever is basically a one woman show. Except for a few very loyal and wonderful contributors, each issue of Whosoever is compiled, researched, coded and Fetched up to the website by editor and founder Candace Chellew-Hodge. It's a big task ... time consuming, frustrating at times, but a labor of love.
Just a little about me personally: I am a professional journalist with nearly 25 years of experience in radio, television, print, the Internet and public relations. I live in South Carolina with my partner Wanda and our three cats and two dogs. I hold a Masters in Theological Studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. I am also trained as a spiritual director through the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. I currently serve as the assistant pastor at Garden of Grace United Church of Christ in Columbia, SC. I am the last of five children, raised by a Southern Baptist preacher and his beautiful and spirit-filled wife, who loves her daughter deeply. [My father died when I was a teenager, to answer that question!]
Here's the last good picture taken of me ... close to 40 years ago. It's also the last time I ever wore a dress or wore my hair long. ;-)
2. Why are you doing this?
Because God called me to do this. That's the short, basic answer. God gave me the idea, the tools and the time to do all this and it is only through the grace of God that Whosoever continues.
The slightly longer answer is:
As a Christian, I enjoy reading Christian publications ... magazines, books and such. With the magazines especially [like Christianity Today, Moody's, etc] I could not get through even one issue without being bashed. Even if the remark was paranthetical, only a small blurb about gay rights or whatever, each issue had some disparaging remark to make about a very important part of my life.
It made me angry. I decided there must be others like me out there who wanted to pursue their Christianity without being bashed, thus was born Whosoever.
The printed version of Whosoever lasted 4 issues. Once I ran out of money, I discovered the internet was cheaper, and reached more people. The website has received a lot of visits from around the world, and God continues to bring new people to the page everyday.
3. But, you can't be gay and Christian, it's impossible.
This is the biggest lie out there. So many gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered have been told by the mainstream church that God doesn't love them unless they change. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First off, Jesus says "whosoever believeth in me." There are no conditions on God's love. God does not say "change a few things, then come to me." No, God loves us as we are. We are to come to God just as we are. If there are issues of sin in our lives, God will deal with them, but we are accepted by God without condition.
Also, Paul assures us in Romans 8: 38-39: "Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
What liberating words! NOTHING separates us from God. Not homosexuality, not disbelief in certain creeds, Bible passages, litanies or opinions of other believers. Not sin, not death, not anything. My fundamentalist friends, do you realize the freeing beauty of those words??? Nothing!! NOTHING! Will you take those words to heart? Will you believe the Holy Word Of God when it says NOTHING separates you from God??? Or will you continue to thump your Bible and point out all those who *you* believe have been separated from God?
The choice is yours.
4. But the Bible condemns homosexuality. It's an abomination!
Homosexuality, as we know it today is not condemned anywhere in the Bible. Through traditions of mistranslation and prejudice, the Bible has been used as a weapon against GLBT people and others, including African Americans and women. Please read our section on "What The Bible Says About Homosexuality." You'll find the arguments there persuasive, concise and enlightening.
Also, Issue 2 of Whosoever deals exclusively with the question of being gay and Christian. It is an excellent starting place as well.
Those who cling so desperately to the legalisms of the Bible seem to love the letter of the law and not the spirit. Worshipping the Bible as the inerrant word of God is idolatry. It's dangerous and separates us from God. Rev. Rembert Truluck has put up a great website dealing with the abuses of scripture ... please, explore this site, but be sure and return to Whosoever!
NOTE: Since I have posted this in-depth look at the scriptures, I will not argue Bible passages with anyone. My position is spelled out on these pages. I have neither the time, nor the desire, to get into endless theological debates, so don't send them!
5. I've read all that and I still say homosexuality is wrong. After all, it's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.
I have to wonder if the folks who make this statement have read the rest of the Bible, y'know the stuff after Genesis. In particular, the passage that says "there is neither male nor female ... in Christ Jesus." I'm not sure about any of you, but I don't worship God with my genitals. My gender has absolutely nothing to do with my connectivity to God through Christ. The gender of my partner has no bearing on my connectivity to God through Christ.
The idea of unitivity and complementarity, of only being made complete through the joining of male and female, is a purely man-made idea. Neither God, nor Jesus, ever makes the claim that we must be joined with partners of different genders before we can enter the gates of heaven. What about single people and those who choose to remain celibate? Are they any less "whole" because they haven't found an opposite gendered partner? As for gay and lesbian couples, they find their sense of wholeness with partners of the same gender. They experience the same sense of unitivity and completeness as heterosexuals do, and they don't need two distinct sets of genitals to do it.
How sad it is to only be able to choose someone who makes you feel complete, based solely on the genitalia they possess. It amazes me how some Christians will reduce the entire relationship to God to gender. My worship of God has little to do with sex, or the sex of my partner. It has everything to do with following the example of Christ, of striving to love God with all my heart, mind and strength, and my neighbor as myself. It has everything to do with attempting to embody God on earth through Christ ... and nothing to do with my gender.
Another thing to ponder ... The Rev. Jan Nunley asks "WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHO *DID* MAKE STEVE????"
6. I don't hate homosexuals. I live by the creed, "love the sinner, hate the sin."
Here's another strange religious creature. Love the sinner, hate the sin. "I don't hate homosexuals, I just hate what the DO!"
Here we have the Christian that has not learned Jesus' lesson of unconditional love. Those who love the sinner and hate the sin forget that Jesus calls us to love the people we see. The challenge then is to love people as they are, not as we would like them to be.
For example, I received a letter from Anthony Falzarano, famous ex-gay and leader of an ex-gay ministry. One of the lines of his letter was this:
"whether you believe it or not...we do love you or we wouldn't spend the time debating this."
I find this line offensive, and I've realized why. I can't help it, but I must quote Soren Kierkegaard from Works of Love.
"There is always the desire, and a worthy desire, too, that the person we are to love may possess endearing perfections; we wish it not only for our own sake but also for the sake of the other person. Above all, it is worthy to wish and pray that the one we love might always behave and be such that we could give our full assent and approval. But in God's name let us not forget that is is not to our credit if he is such a person, still less to our credit to demand it of him -- if there should be any talk about anything being to our credit ... then it should be just this, to love with equal faithfulness and tenderness in either case. ... he does not love the man he sees and easily makes his love as loathesome to himself as he makes it difficult for the beloved."
This is why Anthony's use of the word "love" makes my skin crawl. He does not love me as I am, he loves me for what he believes I can be ... ex-gay. That makes his love loathesome to me, because he cannot love me where I am, he only loves me where he wants me to be.
That is not the love of Christ, that's the love of Anthony.
We must love people as we see them, sin and all.
As for that word sin, let us look more closely at that. Sin is defined as those thoughts, feelings or actions that separate us from God.
A good friend of mine defines sin thusly:
"Biblically understood, Sin has nothing to do with the morality of right and wrong; good and bad. Rather Sin is seen as a condition of life that human beings have allowed into their lives. It is, however, a condition which exacts a price. In this case the price is the death of the human spirit, a withering away of divine aliveness under the continual onslaught of the the desire to win the power struggle by being firmly in control. Sinful acts -- and here is where morality comes in -- arise out of the condition of dwelling in Sin. Acts of hate, violence, abuse, dehumanization, etc. all occur because contact with divine compassion has been lost. "
Seen in this way, I believe homosexuality in and of itself is no sin. Sexuality in itself, be it hetero or homo, can be sinful when it is used for hate, violence, abuse or dehumanizes those involved.
I believe the acts of violence, hatred, abuse and dehumanization of the homosexual by the mainstream church and her followers are, however, sin.
Shall we, then, love the sinners [the religious right] and hate their sins of hatred, abuse, violence and dehumanizing actions toward us? No ... we must love them in all their sin. We must strive to understand what makes them act in this fashion.
Thich Nhat Hahn writes in "Living Buddha, Living Christ"
"Even if our enemy is cruel, even if he is crushing us, sowing terror and injustice, we have to love him. This is the message of Jesus. But how can we love our enemy? There is only one way -- to understand him. We have to understand why he is that way, how he has come to be like that, why he does not see things the way we do. Understanding a person brings us the power to love and accept him. And the moment we love and accept him, he ceases to be our enemy."
We are called to love those we see, God deals with any sins that may be present.
7. Why aren't straights included in your title?
It seemed to me the answer to this has always been self-evident, but I've been asked this a few times, so let me clarify.
Straights are welcome at Whosoever. Indeed, God's word is for everyone and excludes no one. Whosoever does not seek to exclude by calling itself "An Online Magazine for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians. Instead, we are trying to create a safe space where such folk can worship God in spirit and in truth.
GLBT people are often "tolerated" in more liberal churches, here at Whosoever, there is full acceptance of GLBT Christians.
I apologize if heterosexuals feel excluded by our title, but we must create our own safe spaces where we can recharge our batteries for the battles in a world where we are not openly welcomed.
8. May I reprint the articles I find here?
We urge you to reprint the articles contained in Whosoever. You are free to print any and all articles for personal use. If you plan to repost them or print them in a publication, we only ask two things:
- Notify the author that you will be using the article.
- Notify us where the articles will be reprinted.
Contacting the author of each article is easy. We've included their personal e-mail addresses along with the articles. Each author has final say since all rights to articles remain with the writer, not Whosoever.
Anyone has permission to reprint articles written by editor Candace Chellew-Hodge ... just let me know where you're printing or reposting them.
9. How do I subscribe to Whosoever?
Often people write to me asking for a sample copy of the magazine or asking for details on how to subscribe to Whosoever. Unfortunately, Whosoever is not in print. We are an exclusively online magazine and as such there is no way to "subscribe" to the magazine. We post new issues six times a year and the only way to read those issues is by visiting the Web site.
We can let you know when new issues are posted if you join our notification email list.
10. Do you get a lot of hate mail?
It comes and goes. The letters I most often receive are along the lines of "it's not my job to judge you, but you're going to hell." I just shake my head and hit the delete key normally.
Some want to tell me how hot hell will be for gay folk, or that there is a special place in hell for all of us. Again, the delete key is a beautiful creation, since I try my best never to return flame for flame. We are told in the Bible not to return reviling for reviling. To that end we began Reverent Responses.
Several pastors, theologians and lay people take the time to respond to critics of this magazine and addresses their common questions about how one can reconcile their spirituality with their homosexuality, bisexuality or transgendered identity.
Early in the magazine's life I made it a habit to respond to negative mail personally. At this point, I normally don't respond to common negative remarks because it's covered elsewhere in the site, or by our gracious volunteers at Reverent Responses or by Rev. Paul Turner in his Seeds of Hope column if they actually take the time to read over these resources. If they obviously haven't read the site, responding to them is useless, because they don't care to understand.
Unique and obviously intelligent remarks of dissent usually get a response. I've made some friends this way in the past! You can view some letters to the editor that we have received over the years.
11. How Do I Contact You?
The easiest way is to send e-mail to editor, Candace Chellew-Hodge.
If you need to send us something by snailmail, the address is:
Whosoever Ministries, Inc.
PO Box 727
Camden, SC 29021
12. I wrote to you or sent a survey and never heard back from you. What gives?
I get a lot of mail. Being a mainly one person operation, it's tough to get back to everyone. Just for the record, I receive all surveys and the feedback has been very valuable. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to fill out a survey and help Whosoever be a better resource.
I am always grateful for letters of encouragement and thanks. I try to reply to all of them, but if I missed yours, I apologize. Please know that I am uplifted by all letters of thanks that I receive.
If you have sent a submission and haven't heard from me ... that is a problem, for both of us. I always respond to those who want to send something in to the magazine. If you have sent something and haven't heard from me ... send it again, please! E-mail is more reliable than snail-mail, but sometimes it can end up in the cyberspace twilight zone!