I just found your Web site today. What a blessing this will be for me. I am 40 this summer with two daughters. I have just made the decided to follow my heart. I have always been deeply religious. I look forward to what this will bring to me
Thank you for your reflective and worthwhile article on forgiveness. (Love the Sinner, Forgive the Sin)
I agree that the authors of the Gospels understood that forgiveness was a reality.
Your strong point was the forgiveness that was exercised by Jesus and he taught his disciples/followers to forgive as well.
This point is central to your viewpoint, and it is in stark contrast that teaches forgiveness is given only by God (whatever that means, except that one looks at a rigid understanding of God’s law that denies justice, mercy and grace.)
By extension, the community forming after Jesus’ death and resurrection had to struggle with judgment and possible hatred. For example, this struggle was illustrated by the conflict between Peter and St. Paul over how to follow the customs, rituals, and laws of Judaism and whether the Gentiles had to adhere to them. St. Paul and Peter took opposite views, agreed to disagree, and ended their visit with a cool toleration of the other.
Sometimes, I think that forgiveness, like different forms of love, has several expressions. So the context of forgiveness may help to image forgiveness as contrasted to a general definition for all contexts.
I look forward to your continued writings, and consider this article to be insightful, helpful, and worthy of further development. Have you considered developing a curriculum on forgiveness to foster an experiential model for various contexts?
I am a 27 year old gay man in New York. I just stumbled upon your site while I was doing a search on the topic “Bible and homosexuality.” I just wanted to tell you a little bit about myself and my situation.
My parents refuse to accept my homosexuality on the grounds that “The Bible says that is wrong.” They refuse to have any further discussion on it because they are so convinced that it is sinful. I want to tell them how hypocritical they are in saying this because they do a lot of things that the “Bible says are wrong” if you want to read it literally without taking into consideration the historical context of the passages.
I made the decision to leave the Christian church because of the attitude towards homosexuality. I just finally had enough of hearing that I am evil and that I am going to hell. I am tired of hearing my mother tell me that she has “given me to Jesus, and I am sure he will knock you down hard and make you see the error of your ways.” She tells me she “doesn’t want to get to Heaven and find out later that I am not coming.” I am now a Unitarian Universalist. This church is so friendly and welcoming. They don’t try to make me change my ways with threats of eternal punishment and separation from God.
I would appreciate it if you could give me any feedback or suggestions on how I can deal with my parents. I am trying to get them to accept me. If I don’t make progress soon, I am just going to have to write them out of my life because I just cannot have a normal relationship with them. How can I include them in my life when they have attitudes like the ones I described? I intend to eventually settle down with a partner and I will go to their home if he is not also welcome to go with me.
Thanks for reading my email. I am going to go back to your site now and spend some time looking around. I’ll see if I can find anything to send to my parents.
Editor Candace Chellew Responds:
Thanks for visiting the magazine. I’m glad you found material here that is helping you through this tough, emotional time in your life.
Your parents are not all that atypical among gays and lesbians. Give them time. They have to work through their own issues and grief because suddenly you are not like THEY wanted you to be. They may never “accept” it — my mother will not ever “accept” it — but we have come to a place where our love for each other overcomes our differences. We love spending time together and she loves my partner. It’s just a topic we can’t really have serious discussion around. So, we “accept” one another as best we can. Sometimes that’s the best we can expect from our families.
Don’t write them off, but don’t put yourself in a place where you constantly have to hear their preaching either. That’s demeaning for you and does nothing to edify your spirit. Search out people and places that build you up, but don’t totally disconnect from your parents. Just give them room to grieve and deal.
I have a couple of friends who have put together a great Web site for parents of gay kids. Go to http://www.familyacceptance.org — you may want to direct your parents there as well. Patti and Jeff Ellis know how to talk to parents who are experiencing the feelings your parents are having because they’ve been there themselves. Tell your parents to feel free to write to Pattie and Jeff. Their ministry is helping people like your parents accept their gay and lesbian children.
I’ll keep you in my prayers, Dennis. Remember to keep loving your parents no matter what. If you model that kind of love toward them, hopefully, one day they’ll return it in kind.
First, let me apologize for giving you a disease which has caused you to outgrow your hats (Editor’s Note: He had called me one of his “favorite theologians” in an earlier e-mail exchange). Fortunately, summer is upon us and you have time to replace them before the seasons when they are really necessary. That is, unless you use a hat to protect yourself from the sun, in which case I am doubly apologetic.
Now, in explanation of my calling you a theologian, let me explain that I look for two things in my theologians. The first is a willingness to be labeled a heretic (in the traditional sense) in their efforts to oppose heresy (in the epistemological sense.) The Greek meaning of the word “heretic” is one who promotes divisions and sedition in the community. Of course, one who works to expand the circle is working against these divisions. Yet, those who like the circle where it is, or would wish it a little tighter, respond with the accusation of heretic, one who teaches false and even damning doctrine. I am old enough to recall that Martin Luther King Jr. was branded as a communist by those who opposed his work.
Even more important that that, as important as it is, is that I prefer a person who is looking upon the task of theologian as an explorer instead of a tour guide. My favorite, Saul renamed Paul, was an explorer. Without his willingness to go beyond what he knew, what was comfortable, you and I would not be calling ourselves Christian today. More contemporary names include Harry Emmerson Fosdick, who said that the doctrine of the trinity is nothing more than an attempt to explain intellectually something that truly must be experienced spiritually and defies intellectual explanation. If you get a chance to read any of his work, I would highly recommend it. Of course, Martin Luther King Jr, previously mentioned, must be included, for obvious reasons. Add to this Bishop John Shelby Spong, especially in his later work. Most of those who wear the label of theologian only want to rehash that which has already been established. Indeed, the neo-orthodoxy movement was just that, taking the old “tried but true” and attempting to redefine it in a manner which is more acceptable to contemporary understanding. I do not consider this to be true theology.
However, you, in your article: Daring to be a Heretical Follower of Christ, have shown a willingness to join the ranks of Paul, King Jr., Fosdick and Spong, even in this willingness was unconscious on your part. I was already impressed with you because of your work with Whosoever, but when you wrote the above, I decided that this was a person worthy of the title of theologian and one worth watching. Keep up the good work and, give yourself time for this new disease to stabilize before you go out and replace your hats.
It is not my habit to be brief, but I will try. After all, the whole of the New Testament is not a thick book.
I am approaching my 15th year of being an out homosexual and my 10th year of being an out Christian. I am more and more involved in my church community, recently being ordained an elder and more importantly for me having a more personal relationship with God. I am meeting more gay and lesbian Christians and heterosexual Christians who see the soul as being more important than the sexual orientation. My dream would be for people to know that I am a Christian by how I treat them. I am also becoming less concerned with denominational differences while respecting and appreciating the theology or culture which spawns each.
My journey as a developing Christian, a practicing Presbyterian, and a humble child of God is long but is one of the most wonderful things about my life.
Thanks so much for maintaining and editing this excellent site. The content is so rich and very well done. I first visited the site back in the late ’90s and was delighted to find it still going strong when I brought it up again for the first time in several years. One of my sisters holds forth with a literalist interpretation of the Bible and I plan to refer her to your site so she can be exposed to some other perspectives.
I hope you don’t mind if I express my experience with reading the text in the format in which it is displayed. I’ve found that the Whosoever gray images that run diagonally across the pages makes the text more difficult to read than the plain backgrounds I am accustomed to. I find the content so nourishing, but I get somewhat fatigued in trying to read with all those images in the background. I may be the only one with this experience, but I wanted to pass it on to you. Because the stuff you are writing about is so important, I don’t want anyone to have even the least impediment to accessing this valuable information.
Again, thank you for your extraordinary work. Myself and so many others are indebted to you.