Thinking Out Loud

January 19, 2013

Weekend Link List

Weekend List Lynx

Weekend List Lynx

Lots of stuff that can’t wait until Wednesday!

  • This one is must reading. Matthew Paul Turner asks former Mars Hill Bible Church pastor Shane Hipps all the questions I would have asked about the church, hell, Love Wins and the man he succeeded at MHBC, Rob Bell.

    “This is one of the biggest misunderstandings.  Rob doesn’t have a position or a concept of hell, he is an artist exploring possibilities and making unexpected connections, not a theologian plotting out a system.  In other words there is nothing to agree or disagree with.  It’s like saying I disagree with that song or that painting.”

    Read more at MPT’s blog.

  • CT’s story of the week concerns gay students at Christian colleges. That’s not a typo.

    “Leaders at Christian colleges and universities around the country told Christianity Today their schools are rethinking the way they address the needs of [same sex attracted] students on campus.”

    Read more at Christianity Today.

  • If you’ve been around the church for any length of time, you might remember “visitation” by pastors and church elders. These days, you’re more likely to get a house call from your doctor.  David Fitch’s guest author Ty Grigg thinks you might not have anybody drop in these days:

    “It is not a cultural norm to have neighbors or even friends over to our homes for dinner.  If we want to be with people, we go out.  The restaurant has replaced the space that home once occupied in society.  Typically, for younger generations (40’s and under), a visit will be at a coffee shop or to grab lunch.  In our suburban isolation, the home is too much of an intimate, sacred space for most non-family members to enter.”

    Read more at Reclaiming the Mission.

Other links:

  • Canadian readers will remember a national pre-Christmas story involving the theft of $2M worth of toys from a Salvation Army warehouse in Toronto. Here’s a follow-up on how the organization is working to protect itself by having a solid ‘whistle-blower’ policy
  • Want a taste of that theological educational experience you missed? RegentRadio.com, the internet broadcasting arm of Regent College, frequently offers free lectures by its professors. Currently it’s wrapping up a twelve-part series with Gordon Fee on the Holy Spirit in Pauline Theology with a new lecture available each day.
  • We linked to this about six months ago, but it’s worth a revisit. Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed links to a 9-minute video where an orthodox priest explains various theories of atonement.
  • Sarnia is a Canadian city across the river from Port Huron, MI.  Pastor Kevin Rodgers blogs at Orphan Age and reminds us how a shared meal is a great way to build community.
  • USA Today religion editor Cathy Lynn Grossman looks at the larger religious issues in Monday’s Presidential inauguration ceremony.
  • A New Jersey substitute teacher is fired for giving a student his personal Bible as a gift after the student kept asking where the saying, “the last shall be first” came from.
  • New blogs we’re watching this week — okay new to us:
  • Talk about California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day: Our closing shot this week is from a Facebook page dedicated to books. The picture combines two of my favorite passions: a day at the beach and reading.

Beach Library

July 16, 2009

Sexual Preferences in the 21st Century

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:40 am
Choosing Your Sexual Preference in the 21st Century

Dan: Hey, whaddya say you, me, Pamela and her sister go on a double date tonight?

Don: C’mon, eh; you know I’m gay.

Dan: Know what?  I didn’t know any such thing.  How did you decide you were gay?

Don: I wasn’t sure, so I took a survey online.

Dan: Okay… By any chance did the survey have ten questions?

Don: Yeah!  How did you know?

Dan: Everybody knows that survey.   It asks some dumb questions, and then, no matter what answers you give, it says, ‘You are definitely gay.’

Don: It doesn’t matter?

Dan: Not at all.   Actually, they took that site down about a month ago.   When did you do the survey?

Don: Over two years ago.

Dan: [long silence]  Oh, my.

Don: [longer silence]

In a world where psychologists would have us believe that being gay is a matter of genetic predisposition, in many cases, it’s actually the product of much more random factors.

I’ve developed this idea more fully in things I’ve posted to other blogs, but you can read the original germ of the idea in a chapter of my book, The Pornography Effect.  (Click the header when the chapter appears if you want to read the whole thing from beginning to end; it takes only 45 minutes.)

If you’re reading this, and you believe you are same sex attracted, consider the possibility that we all start out somewhat asexual (not bisexual) and that preferences are formed as a result of “who gets to us first.”    I’m not trying to undermine what you believe you are, or try to preach to you about what you could be;  I’m simply asking you to think back and reconsider what might have been. I’m just wanting to ask the question, “Is it possible that more random factors were at work?   That some early sexual fulfillment was used as the basis as for a broader statement as to who you are?”

June 9, 2009

Same Sex Attracted

It is sweeping North America.  It is a cause of contention within families.   It’s a condition based on lifestyle choices that are rooted in sin and lack of self control giving way to desires and passions.   The behavior becomes addictive and consuming.   The worst result, of course, is a disease that can be severe and debilitating and even bring death.

The condition is obesity, the sin is gluttony, and the disease is diabetes.

(Inspired from reading chapter 5 in unChristian.)

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Today’s post is a continuation from yesterday’s, where I tried to explain the influence of the internet in shaping sexual preferences, so that regular readers of this blog — mostly interested in Christian news and opinion — will better understand the rapid growth of same sex attraction.

Dave Kinnaman in his book unChristian (Baker Books) suggests a number of ways in which the Church (capital C) and local churches (small c) can do better when interacting with people who are ‘out’ in the gay community, as well as people struggling with same sex attraction:

unChristian borderedAcknowledge the Complexity

“The biblical response to homosexuals should be to deal with the fundamental needs that all men and woman have.   We just acknowledge that everyone has sexual baggage but also the potential for sexual wholeness.   There are major problems across the spectrum of sexuality that the church needs to address…

“Being “against ” gays and lesbians is not a flag to wave… Sexuality should not be seen as dualistic — all good or all bad — but as a good part of our created nature that is constantly in need of repair…

Open Doors With Conversations

“A vital element of engaging homosexuals is to elevate the importance of conversations.   Christians expect overnight results and are impatient with the need to develop deep, candid relationships and interactions of trust…

Treat Other Christians With Respect

“Christians need to downgrade the importance of being antihomosexual as a “credential” proving that we are more faithful to God than anyone else is…   We need to be more concerned about reaching those who need Jesus than “proving” our faith to those who already claim to know Jesus…

Have the Right Perspective

“We should not give up channels of influence, such as politics, just because our stand might cause negative perceptions, but we must pursue our efforts in those arenas with integrity, respect and love for people.

“…Despite widespread mobilization over the last decade, most Christians have become even more isolated from homosexuals…  Gays and lesbians should not be surprised to find us working side by side with them to address HIV/AIDS and to end workplace discrimination in nonreligious settings.

Express Concern for Kids

“…It’s offensive to homosexuals to say that a child needs both a father and a mother; it’s a difficult part of what Christians believe.   However, though this is an important conviction, Christians have to avoid rhetoric that dehumanizes people, especially in interpersonal interactions.   Our most important concern must be the response of young people to Christ, not merely what type of home they grew up in.

Have Compassion

“…Our words in an us-versus-them world can be weapons we use against outsiders, especially Gays…  It is easy to decry political correctness, but it is much more difficult to abide by the biblical concept of guarding our tongues and being accountable for what we communicate to others.   It is easy to learn what words are offensive and simply avoid them; it is much harder to find meaningful ways to speak the truth in love…”

~from unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity, by David Kinnaman with Gabe Lyons, 2007, Baker Books

If addiction to internet pornography is a factor in the life of someone you know and care about, be sure to check out my own resource, The Pornography Effect which is posted online for free reading.

If you are someone who is same sex attracted: Again, as I said yesterday, some  Christians have not been at all charitible in dealing with this issue, and maybe dealing with you personally.   For that, I am sorry.   I think that many in the Church thought that with enough opposition, this issue would simply go away.   It didn’t, and in the Western world, it’s here to stay.   Please be patient as we who are older, as well as the next generation of Christ-followers learn what it means to have the compassion that Jesus had in caring  for those who came to him; as well as dealing with the issues that we have in our own lives. And re-read yesterdays post with an open mind, considering the possibility that where you find yourself today may have actually been somewhat random; a consequence of who got there first at a vulnerable time in your life.

June 8, 2009

Same Sex Attraction

Filed under: parenting — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:20 pm

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten months since I gave up on seeing my crisis book on pornography in print and posted the book online for people to read for free.    It was never about money in the first place.

The problem is that the book was written to fit the paradigm of crisis books, which are generally short.   And it was written to be distributed in packs of four or five, for pastors and counselors to have to give away.    At 22,000 words, this one is too big to be a booklet, and too small to be a standard pocket book.    So if I want to get it published, I need to add some major sections to each chapter.

I think the book has a lot of good things to say that other people aren’t saying, but if there’s one chapter I would want to expand right now, it would be the chapter titled “Orientation” which deals with same sex attraction.   I think there’s a lot more that needs to be said on this topic, both online and in print.    Also, although I’m not a psychologist, I have some opinions on this subject, some of which may contradict what the dominant voices are saying.

Kids Surfing the NetThe big one in this chapter is my “stem cell analogy.”   Stating at the outset that I’m not a scientist,  I make the case that just as stem cells are useful in research and applied medicine because they can pick up their orders from surrounding cells — I’m told it’s like the way soy beans pick up the flavor of the food they’re being cooked with — so I believe that pre-teens and early-teens are also “in formation” and their sexual identity is largely shaped by early exposures and experiences.

I know there have been exhaustive research papers written on the predisposition of some individuals toward homosexuality.    I’m not suggesting that much of that is not valid.    But there are, I believe, many who fall into a vast middle ground; some of whom see pictures online of people of the same gender and wondering why they’re getting aroused.

I think that some of that arousal is normal.   Especially for young, healthy adolescents whose hormones are in overdrive.    (When you reach my age, however, I’m sure the pictures of either sex don’t have the same effect, if any, that they do for those younger!)    Certain responses are not a matter of normal or abnormal, they’re just what happens when the ‘surprise factor’ of certain images produces a response.   Or a result of aesthetics, just as the Greeks felt that the male body represented the apex of God’s creation and therefore had the original Olympic athletes compete naked. Or confirmation from other media, such as the girls at the slumber party discussing songs liked “I Kissed a Girl.” Or a matter of context:   A man can be in a change room with other men and not be as predisposed to think anything of it, while another man — similar in every way —  looks at internet pictures of men in the same change room and is consumed by them.

And there’s a lot of those pictures on the internet right now.   And there’s a lot of technology available to deliver those pictures.    And there’s a lot of people looking at those pictures.    Which brings me to…

I think that where pre- and early-teens are concerned,  a lot of orientation right now is a matter of who gets to them first:  The people putting up pictures of women and girls; or the people putting up pictures of men and boys.   The people putting up blogs and sites with a heterosexual orientation; or the people putting up blogs and sites with a same-sex orientation.

I say that because everybody who has a blog or a website has an agenda.    Sure, there’s lots of people using cell phones and flip cameras to take pictures of themselves or their friends, but the number of actual sites on which people come to view those pictures, while it is in the hundreds of thousands, is still finite when compared to the number of individuals thus displayed.

Each one of these people has a purpose in starting their particular site and determining what goes on it.    It’s a matter of their personal tastes and preferences.

teen with computerSo, I’ll say it again, a bit differently:  If you’re the parent of an early-teen or particularly a pre-teen, a lot of what they come to believe about their own sexuality is a matter of what kind of websites, blogs or photo galleries they and their friends see first.   It’s a race.   Who gets to them first?  What ideas, images and worldviews got to their friends first?

Let me try it one more time even more directly so you don’t miss the point.   If you have a child that is still relatively innocent, and you put that child with someone like myself who has done some research on this and knows where different types of things are located online, and then I ask you to choose site type “A,” or site type “B,” and then you give me one hour, I guarantee that after that hour your child would emerge with their innocence lost, their sexual worldview already shaped, and the direction of their personal sexual interest largely settled.   One hour.  Or less.

Not that I plan on trying this out.

I’ll say it again.   I think some kids are like stem cells.   Awaiting programming.   Being programmed.    A large percentage of them — even in our churches — now dealing with same sex attraction.

Tomorrow, I want to look at a half-dozen responses that Dave Kinnaman, in his book unChristian, suggests Christ-followers should remember when they encounter gays at church and in the broader marketplace.

And yes, they’re going to be at church.  Your church.   If they’re not there already.  But “they” are more like you than you realize.  “They” are really part of your “we” and “our.”  Same sex attraction is huge right now and it intersects church life just as it does the wider society.

So let me rephrase that:  The issue is coming to your church.   If it’s not there already.

Graphic:  The kids in the upper picture are a little younger than what I envisioned for this article, but given the looks on their faces, who knows what they’re seeing!

Personal to SSA readers:  If you got here from a Google or WordPress tag, I know that you’ve possibly put up with a lot of harrassment from church people already, and you may now have them stereotyped as much as they’ve stereotyped you.   All I can say is:  Stay tuned.   There is a tide of change happening out there.   Not the kind that will rewrite the Bible or re-cast God as a hippie from the 1960s or eliminate all bias and bigotry in every church forever, but the kind that will bring us together in dialog less characterized by antagonism and hostility.   ‘Cause really, we’re all sinners.   And we’re all hurting in various ways.   And we all want to be loved.

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