Inclusion via Exclusion

Having spent some time years ago in a UCC church, I was curious to learn of their new campaign ‘God is still Speaking’ in which they boast of their ‘inclusion’ of all. Part of their campaign includes a commercial which shows bouncers at a cathedral type church chasing away various folks (African-Americans, gays, etc.)and only allowing others (squeaky whites, etc.).

Then the UCCers come in and show how ‘inclusive’ their churches look, with gals holding hands and such, because ‘God is still speaking.’

I contrast that with the description of Hippolytus, bishop of Rome around 225 A.D. He gives a manual on the training of Catechumens who want to join the church. A key phrase that is repeated is ‘let them cease (meaning their pagan occupations and practices) or be rejected.’ In other words, he describes a community that rehabilitates pagans in a three year process, complete with exclusion from the table during that time and even exorcism if necessary. If the potential convert refused to be a part of the rehab program, well, they were ‘excluded’ from the community.

Now pieces of what Hippolytus says is anachronistic but interestingly the church of his time grew like wildfire. The pagan rehab stuff seemed to work both in terms of evangelism and in terms of disciple-making. Is there something to learn here?

(PS, I’m not picking on the UCC, my experience with my own denomination is pretty much the same, witness the ‘Via Media’ evangelism curriculum.)

67 thoughts on “Inclusion via Exclusion

  1. The question is always, how far out can we draw the circle to be inclusive, and when do we have to say, this far and no further, which then exludes those outside the circle. Who draws the circle? Who decides how big it will be? When do we extend the circle? When do we make it smaller? These are not always easy questions, but as the good Father Neo has suggested, having a clear and rigorous boundary provides a powerful witness both to those outside the circle, and to those already in the circle. Some would expand the circle to include everyone. But where there is no circle their is no identity and no community.

  2. In my own church,we allow everyone to come, but we are crystal clear on our stand on moral issues. My Pastor teaches the traditional and Biblical stance, such as salvation is through Christ alone, marriage is between a man and a woman, etc… We want everyone to feel welcome, but people who chose to live “alternate” lifestyles come with the understanding that they are going to hear the truth of the scripture on these issues. Usually what happens is either they change their life style to line up with God’s Word, or eventually it just gets too uncomfortable for them to keep coming and not change, so they just drop off. But they can never say it was because they were turned out, or someone mistreated them. So coming from that perspective, I would say we draw the circle, they decide if they are going to stand inside of it or outside of it…

  3. Great comments from Wily and Angevoix!

    Another PS–It is good to move beyond the ‘blue state red state’ debate in this discussion. Being a good Christian doesn’t always mean being a good Republican, Democrat, or even citizen of any nation. Our citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven.

  4. I’m sorry, but being a true Chicagoan I would have to disagree with you Fr. Neo. Here both God and the dead always vote Democratic. Ha. Ha.

  5. So tell us Angevoix and/or others…was a vote for Senator Kerry a vote against God? Don’t give me that “render unto Caesar” stuff.

  6. I think a vote for a Kerry was a vote against furthering Gods commandemtns in the US.

    On the whole defining lines. I don’t agree to allowing an openly gay couple to practice in your church without them trying to change. I think it makes a mockery of the faith.

    Would you let a person who is known as a murderer with blood from his last victim on his shirt practice in faith standing next to you?

    What we don’t know behind close doors we cannot use against a person. But when someone openly defies the faith, then comes to practice it…well that is almost a protest against the faith to me.

  7. Shafter79, I posted my response to your comment on your blog under your post requesting nude picks of chicks…

  8. And in response to Constantine…”was a vote for Senator Kerry a vote against God?”
    Mine wasn’t…

  9. LOL. I’ll take your word for it…but just for the record, we don’t have gay couple’s coming to our church holding hands. What really takes place is that we have people with a weakness who want to serve God with all of their hearts who come to our church and find it is a place where they receive the love and support that they need to “Work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it is much easier for me to do right in an environment where I feel loved.

  10. I had a girlfriend when I was 18 and at her church they had a homsexual section where they did hold hands and acted as a normal couple. I always thought that would be weird.

    Does anyone know where I can get a job as a bouncer at a church?

  11. We always have to balance Hippolytus’ concepts and Jesus words that he ‘came to save not the righteous but sinners.’

    S79 and Ange, your pope said, “Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world — that let God in.”

    I think he’s on to something.

  12. Much of this conversation is predicated on the notion that homosexuality is a sin. As a Bible-believin’, God-lovin’ fella, I’d have to say that t’ain’t the case.

    Much to many folk’s surprise, there are only about 4 verses in the Bible that seem to suggest homosexuality is a sin. And even those four are much open to discussion.

    What the Bible does advocate clearly is loving, just relations within and without marriages.

    And aside from the Bible, I know gays and lesbians are Christians because I worship with them at my church, I eat with them at my home, they love and tend to my kids and they are clearly following in Jesus’ steps. And it feels really weird even to refer to them as “they.” We are all God’s children, ya know.

    Finally, I find it amusing but sad how much time is spent by Christians worrying about this issue when it is clearly not a Biblical concern, whereas caring for the poor, living peaceful, simple lives in solidarity with the poor is present from Genesis to Exodus, yet you see relatively little talk in the church on this topic.

    “Now this was the sin of your sister, Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”


  13. Dan,

    If we treat Scripture as a series of ‘proof texts’ when dealing with sex of any sort, we run into trouble. However, there seems to be a clear sexual ethic (single & celibate, married and chaste, one man one woman).

    Having said that, you are right in the preoccupation that many have with the gay thing. We do need to concentrate on the ‘things that matter.’

    Having said that, I too have friends and family who are gay. I have told them that their lifestyle is a sin. I still love them, they still love me. The presence of Christian sexual boundaries does not exclude from the faith, they only define the ideal and the moral norms. In your mind are there any Chirstian boundaries around sex, and who decides what those are once you have crossed the line?

  14. I would agree entirely with what Fr. Neo has to say on the issue of homosexuality, moral boundaries, etc…The point about preoccupation is a valid one, and the one I was trying to make in a round about way with S79. Sin,is sin,is sin… If I remain sexually pure, but I’m selfish and hateful, is God happy with me?

  15. neo said:
    Dan – In your mind are there any Christian boundaries around sex, and who decides what those are once you have crossed the line?

    Yes. In my mind – based upon what I read in the Bible – sex should be reserved for loving, monogomous relationships. Within the marriage context, in my mind, but I don’t presume to define marriage too much for folk.

    The reason being, is that it is just difficult to get a clear sexual ethic from the Bible. We have polygamy that goes undenounced, fathers offering their girls up to be raped, noble prostitutes, wives treated as chattel and perhaps a touch of incest, along with the various versions of marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy.

    Which ethic to choose?

    Again, what the Bible does clearly teach is that our relationships should be loving and just. THAT is what I believe.

    For what it’s worth, having grown up in a traditional Baptist church, I didn’t come by my current beliefs on this matter easily. I had to read the Bible and get to know Christians of all stripes first.

  16. Dan,

    You said,
    “…it is just difficult to get a clear sexual ethic from the Bible. We have polygamy that goes undenounced, fathers offering their girls up to be raped, noble prostitutes, wives treated as chattel and perhaps a touch of incest, along with the various versions of marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy.”

    These don’t sound like ‘loving relationships’ at all! Neither does what passes for love in homosexual and heterosexual relationships today.

    Which is why Jesus has a clear sexual ethic that corrects the immoral practices of his fathers. In fact, even the most coservative churches don’t follow Jesus’ sexual ethic (see Mark 10).

    Jesus creates more boundaries around sexuality than the Tanakh and more than the church has been able to follow throughout the centuries. I am all for mercy and grace, but we cannot pretend the ideal doesn’t exist. We teach the ideal, then love those who can’t live up to it.

  17. That’s my point. An awful lot of what is in the bible on the issue of sex is not clear and doesn’t sound particularly loving. Jesus IS clear that we ought to love one another and treat one another rightly.

    Jesus said NOTHING – ZERO – about homosexuality. If it was as horrible as today’s church makes it out, don’t you think he might address it a bit?

    Jesus commanded men not to divorce their wives. This was because of the injustice done, in that in that time, a divorced woman was practically forced into destitution unless she had family she could fall back on. Jesus’ command about divorce is a matter of justice and in no way addresses homosexuality.

    As to the rest of the new testament, there is nothing – zero – that suggests a homosexual couple should not be part of a loving committed marriage.

    The ONE location where the NT does seem to address it (Paul’s letter to the Romans) is encouraging people not to abandon their natural desires. Paul, not knowing that gays’ natural desire would be towards the same gender, addressed it towards men chasing after men.

    However, since we know that gay’s natural inclination IS towards the same gender, then Paul’s admonition would not disallow gay marriage.

    The thrust of all the sexually-related biblical passages is to stay away from unhealthy, damaging and abusive sex. Committed marriages among any do not fall under this category.

    Again, my contention – as someone who is quite serious about taking the Bible seriously – is that the Bible does not support the notion of disallowing committed, loving relationships whether they’re between straight folk or gay.

  18. Dan, you have a very unique way of interpreting Paul’s writtings,which are a very clear an admonition against a homosexual lifestyle…

  19. “Jesus said NOTHING – ZERO – about homosexuality. If it was as horrible as today’s church makes it out, don’t you think he might address it a bit?”

    Jesus said NOTHING – ZERO – about beastiality. If it was as horrible as today’s church makes it out, don’t you think he might address it a bit?

    Jesus said NOTHING – ZERO – about recreational drug use. If it was as horrible as today’s church makes it out, don’t you think he might address it a bit?

    Jesus said NOTHING – ZERO – about pedophilia. If it was as horrible as today’s church makes it out, don’t you think he might address it a bit?

    Come on, Dan, this is no criteria for the conclusion you have come up with. It is much easier to argue for denial of self and desires (“deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me”) that for the feeding of the passions. All early church fathers, including those writing from the Apostles, and what they have passed down conclusively disagree with you.

    Before being able to argue against this much more, you really ought to read perhaps the most conclusive study ever on this topic, which even others who share your viewpoint have acknowledged that the type of arguement you press forward cannot stand. I refer to Dr. Robert Gagnon’s “The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics”. A dry read, but very thorough.

    He has a few articles on his website as well.

  20. jholder,

    I know that it was not your purpose, but your last post was the best argument to date on Padre’s Blog against the notion of “Sola Scriptura.” You sounded a bit like GKC wielding the philosophy of “Natural Law” in your polemic.

  21. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have have no idea what Constantine just said, but I thank you for your post Jholder.

  22. Dan,

    Do you really think that Jesus, the 1st century Jew and perfect follower of the Torah, thought homosexual sex was OK!? It wasn’t as much of an issue for the Jews as it was for the Gentiles–which is why it gets air time in Paul’s letters–so it doesn’t get air time with Jesus.

    In terms of ‘natural inclination,’ I have the natural inclination to populate a small villiage (to steal from Lewis), but the Scripture wants avoid natural inclination. The most unnatural inclination is to have one wife for life. Again, Jesus was cutting against natural inclination (polygamy, bisexuality) with his teaching on marriage.

    As far as the 1st century and homoerotic sex, it was a part of Gentile culture. There is an old joke about an Italian and a Greek talking about sex. The Greek says ‘we are superior because we introduced the world to sex.’ To which the Italian replied, ‘yes, but we Romans introduced it to women!’

  23. Thanks, Constantine. You’re right, not my intention. But, the effect is there.

    Angevoix, he is referring to G.K. Chesterton, who wrote the wonderful “Orthodoxy” among other things (like the diverting “Father Brown” detective stories). GKC was an Anglican convert to Roman Catholicism, and influenced C.S. Lewis and others.

  24. Thanks Jholder. Also the joke Fr.Neo…what a riot. I have some very close Italian friends I will share that one with, I’m sure they will be equally appreciative…

  25. Sorry for the cryptic verbiage Angevoix. It must be some “status anxiety” floating to the surface. 🙂 Thanks jholder for cleaning up my mess.

    Hilarious joke Padre! My wife’s heritage is 100% Dago (still has family on the “boot”) and by extension my two little girls are “half-breeds.” Half Italiano and half Heinz 57. They are so fortunate to have history and roots. In contrast I’m a mutt. Sorry, I digress.

    Padre, you make mention of “natural inclination,” which is an obvious reference to the doctrine of Original Sin. What say ye about the Imagio Dei (Image of God) that resides in each and every one of us? Why does the traditional Church at large ignore, or at a minimum heavily emphasize, the one doctrine in favor of the other? Surely, we also retain a “natural inclination” that derives from our inherent God template, but I rarely, if ever, hear this from traditional corners and that bugs the hell out of me. We are so happy to give up this ground to the liberal side of the equation! Save for the Celtic “tradition,” which got the ole ramrod, I just don’t hear about our inherent worth and the “natural” consequences that follow from there too. The Orthodox at least attempt to acknowledge the flip side of the Augustinian obsession. As you know, they smother you in incense, in essence saluting the image of God that resides within you.

    Seraph, I wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts on this too. I’m cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

  26. Hell? Pelagius? Rat? Sort of??? One should be more careful about their wishes. Seraph, you must not have read some of my previous posts about where you deign to consign Pelagius and me. To summarize those posts in brief, Hell proper ain’t all it’s cut out to be. But onward and forward. I shall let Calvin serve as my proxy in this round. No, not your beloved Augustine “wanna-be,” or the precocious tiger from “Calvin and Hobbes,” but the young Calvin Becker (see the book “Portofino” by Orthodox adherent Frank Schaeffer). It’s my suspicion that you’ll be familiar with this novel. It illustrates who the real rat is.

    Set up: a young PK (preacher’s kid) finds himself daydreaming at the dinner table while on vacation on the Italian Riviera with his wildly dysfunctional family. The context of the daydream is a story from a “tract” meant to serve as an evangelistic tool. Below are the boy Calvin’s divergent thoughts about the tract and one of the characters that finds himself at the judgment seat of God.

    “The Lord might say, ‘I never knew you,’ and the man would say, ‘But I invited you into my heart,’ and the Lord would say, ‘Maybe, but I never came in, see. You are a goat. Once a goat, always a goat. You were never one of the Elect.’ Then the man would get mad and say, ‘What the hell are you talking about!’ Then the Lord would say, ‘Too bad she (a person who told him about the gospel before he croaked) didn’t study Calvin’s Institutes more, then she would have known.’ And the man would shout, ‘Known what?!’ Then the Lord would say, ‘About Reformed theology, that’s what pal!’ Then in my head the story got weird because I imagined the Lord saying, ‘But you’ll be able to study all about it now,’ and the man said, ‘Where?’ And the Lord said, ‘In the Lake of Fire of course.’ And the man said real sarcastically, ‘How’s that?’ And the Lord said, ‘Because Calvin’s there too.’ Then the man said, ‘I thought he was a great and godly man and explained everything about God and all to everybody so we could be real Christians instead of Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics or Baptists!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Yeah, but he’s not one of the Elect, his mind was unregenerated, he is the original Vessel of Wrath.’”

    “And a child shall lead them.” 😉 J/k. Sort of.

  27. Constantine,

    You must forgive Seraph. I happen to agree with you about the ‘natural inclination’ matter. What I meant by that is more in line with patristic thought. While Augustine and Calvin stressed the ‘state’ of sin, i.e. guilt, the fathers stressed the ‘condition’ of sin. In other wrods,the Imago Dei is marred but not eliminated–sin is more like a sickness than a state of being. Luther said that human nature was like a pile of shit (his words not mine)and Christ’s work is like fresh fallen snow on that pile. God sees the fallen snow and not the shitty reality.

    In patristic thought (which I think is more bibilical), human nature is like a mirror, dirtied by sin. Through the work of the Holy Spirit within (and of course the work of Christ without), the mirror becomes more and more clear until our nature reflects what it was intended to be–the pure image of God. This seems to be a better account of things and not Pelagian at all. It still takes seriously original sin.

    I heartily recommend “Portofino.” It will keep you in stitches. Go Calvin Becker!

  28. “Portofino” is highly entertaining, I borrowed it from Fr. Neo for in-flight entertainment when I went to India last fall. Great quote, Constantine.

    Fr. Neo, I agree. The problem with Luther’s picture, is no matter how white the snow, I’m still just a pile of crap. But the fathers did believe that through the process of theosis, (becoming like Christ, literally, “deified”), we could reach a state where our life was so aligned with God’s will that we might no longer sin. Imageo Dei indeed!

    For those who the word “deified” worries, picture theosis kind of like an enchilada. Just as the plain tortilla becomes “en-chilated” or in-chiled, we could become in-Godded – literally aligning ourselves so much with God that one might not be able to tell our actions from God’s actions. This is what the “deified” of theosis is really implying, not that we become deities. Of course, full theosis usually doesn’t occur to one in this life, only as we are saved at our death. But, in accord with the fathers, I’m sure a few souls have “made it”. It certainly seems to provide hope for following Christ’s ideal — “be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect”.

    Alas, a sinner like me has so very far to go.

  29. jholder said, a bit sarcastically:
    “Jesus said NOTHING – ZERO – about beastiality.” (…and then he and others proceeded to say a bunch of other stuff that this poor Kentucky boy just didn’t understand.)

    Exactly. And the Bible, taken at face value, does not condemn slavery. In fact, it SEEMS to endorse it in the same way that Paul SEEMS to oppose homosexual relations.

    So, when one of y’all refers to Sola Scriptura (taking a guess, I’d say that means “scripture and scripture alone”), I would have to concur with others when they say that we need to make room for God speaking to us, just as God spoke to them Bible folk.

    God’s revelation to me plus the scarcity of any clear teaching against homosexuality in the Bible tells me that God not only loves the gay fella or gal, but God is cool with them joining in marriage.

    Again, let me point out that I was one of you in regards to this issue. I was in favor of loving the homosexual but not loving the “sin.” I understand that this is a difficult teaching.

    But take an honest look at the few references that even SEEM to address homosexuality. Paul’s CLEAR point in Romans is not abandoning natural sexual inclinations. The problems in Sodom and Gommorha were about attempted rape not homosexuality. The two references in Leviticus are part of the Holiness Code which we do not accept in toto today (do you wear polyester? Eat pig? Bank? Invest? Have a tatoo? All disallowed in the Holiness Code. Additionally, the HC calls for us to stone the two men found lying together – whatever that means – are you prepared to begin killing sinners?)

    Again, I’m just calling for an honest look at the Bible. Tell me THREE verses that you can find in the Bible that clearly call homosexuality a sin. I’m betting you can’t do it IF you read it well.

  30. Stop whining about Portofino. I hope this doesn’t make anyone blush, but I would rather decant than recant. Now, don’t get Sideways with me. I never went to the Vinyard

  31. No forgiving is necessary Padre. You see, that’s what I like about Seraph (you hear me out there Seraph, you weasel!!). He’s like Luther. I disagree with both on much, but I’d have a beer with either of them any day of the week. (I get the feeling that Luther might be my guide in Purgatory when the time comes. J/k, sort of.) There’re both real. And frankly, in our “circles” so to speak, that’s a hard thing to come by. As to your “natural inclination” f/u (follow-up) I say bravo! I’m much more comfortable with that version of your explanation (you call it Patristic, but I call it EO, maybe even a tad Celtic), not that it matters whether I’m comfortable or not. I’d personally tweak it some, or at least lean more the Celtic way, but it basically reflects how I see things as well. The whole sin, guilt, and Hell thing is where I’ve adopted in some measure a more liberal, let’s say forgiving, attitude. Yes, sin is real and a very bad Popsicle to eat. Fortunately for us, God is real too, even though His favorite game is hide and seek. We can’t afford to give the other views and nuances up and allow certain theological predispositions to continue unabated. That’s why the West (they define themselves, and hence everyone else does too, as either liberal or conservative, and that’s a problem in my estimation) is losing ground, in addition to the having those “Left Behind” screwballs on the loose. (Don’t get all bent out of shape on this one Seraph. I’m sure you’ll still be raptured and then you can laugh at me down here below.)

    Jholder, nice exposition on the alternative proposition from our 2000-year history (union with God, eventually anyway, vs. plain old adoption). More importantly it’s a healthier way to look at things. The EO (Eastern Orthodox) Tradition was/is very attractive to me. As a matter of fact, there was time when I considered going that path, but many things converged that thwarted that from ever becoming more than a private thought. A lot of carnage would have been the result. Enough said there.

    Mr. Coyote, I’ve been missing your LSD (opps, I meant Jungian) trip on Padre’s Blog (don’t get all bent out of shape now, j/k). Don’t worry, God is present here and with me too believe it or not, whether bidden or unbidden. If you think my “Portofino” entry was whining you should check out my pissin’ and moaning on Morpheus’ Blog under his “sign and wonders” entry. You’re a slippery fellow to be sure Coyote. I usually read folks pretty well, but I’ve yet to figure you out. You’re an allusive, wily one. Decant vs. recant and the Vineyard (no barking or roaring please)? Did you already read my other ranting? Elaborate por favor. Btw, check out the novel. It might help you. Also, you’d be hard pressed to make me blush.

    Dan, I’m staying out of your particular debate. That’s a hot war. Btw, check out “Tinker Creek” and let me know your thoughts. The last I heard Dillard was a convert to RC (I’m sure not of the Opus Dei genre though).

    Go Calvin Becker indeed!!

  32. the good Padre said:
    … Through the work of the Holy Spirit within (and of course the work of Christ without), the mirror becomes more and more clear until our nature reflects what it was intended to be–the pure image of God.

    You mean, I can just sit here surfing the net and “get my mirror cleared”? Cool.

  33. Dan wrote:
    And the Bible, taken at face value, does not condemn slavery. In fact, it SEEMS to endorse it in the same way that Paul SEEMS to oppose homosexual relations.

    Re: slavery – you’ve read Philemon, haven’t you? It is the ‘last word’ in the Bible on slavery. Onesimus was Philemon’s slave, and Paul implies that Christians should not keep slaves, but rather, if they have one, to treat him “as a dear brother”. One cannot do that and keep the person a slave. So I do not agree with you that the Bible “seems” to endorse slavery.

    Regarding the view you have of Leviticus, and your other points, please read the Zenit interview of Dr. Robert Gagnon here. He addresses every contention you have made so far, and addresses them very well, although in brief – as he says at the beginning, “It is not possible in so short a compass to do justice to 500 pages of research.”

    Aside: Padre, my previous comment should be take cum grano salis.

  34. I must also bow out of the D.T. debate as I don’t do the back and forth with the Word thing, as I think I explained in a previous post.

  35. Wily,

    What the hell are you talking about?


    I am neither a Calvinist nor a blasted dispy. My role is to keep all of you honest. I am your darker sides, I say what all of you wish you could say…

  36. jholder,

    Eat drink and be merry and your mirror is clean. J/K. Sort of.

    Theosis is hard, painful work both for God and for us. It reminds me of the ‘River of Fire’ article we referred to earlier.

  37. Seraph,
    My dark side, huh? Maybe you’ll be my guide in Purgatory too when the time comes. I did finally see Sith, and I must say that up until Anakin killed the younglings I had quite a bit of sympathy for him. He seemed to be the only one on the Council that was following the Jedi Code. It reminded me somewhat of the RC Church. They obsess over sexual morality except for their own. The only cost they see for their own failings is the paperwork they need to process to transfer their perverts to other parishes. I feel I have the right to speak harshly of this Institution regarding this issue since I was “born” into the Church, subsequently raised (one small detour), and remain still, however lukewarm I may be. Believe me, they do obsess. My confessional experiences confirm it.

    Padre and jholder,
    You are right. Theosis is a hard nut to crack. I make it out to be easier than it is and, of course, that’s not right. Can you imagine “turning the other cheek” and all the other SOM imperatives?? I can’t. I try, but my efforts are baby steps at best. Theosis too reminds me of the wonderful “River of Fire” article.

  38. Constantine:

    First I appreciate your prayers.

    Secondly, I think your wrong about the way you speak of the priests of the Catholic Church. Lumpiing an entire church in with some bad seeds is unfair. Not to make excuses or condone what some rogue priests did, but pedophelia is as rampent in other denominations/religions as it is in Catholicism. The diffrence is the Cathoic Church has money.

    I will say it, I think Homosexuality is a sin, as much as murdering, stealing and coveting. Those who are prone to do those things have crosses they must bare. As a popular saying goes; Hate the sin, not the sinner.

    Agne: If I am generous and Loving but not sexually pure, and I make no bones aboyut it, is God happy with me?

    Fr Neo: I fully agree about loving those who can not live up to. Who can live up to being worthy of the love God has bestowed upon us.

  39. Shafter79 — I’m in love with Jesus, straight out and napologetic.Because I want all He has for me, I try as much as possible to avoid willful sin. I want to walk in the closest communion with Him that is possible this side of glory.If I am in sin, He doesn’t turn His back on me, but I beleive that I block the blessings that would flow into my life through the channels of obedience, the greatest of these blessings being Himself. And I want Him more than anything.

  40. S79,

    You said, “Lumping an entire church in with some bad seeds is unfair. Not to make excuses or condone what some rogue priests did, but pedophilia is as rampant in other denominations/religions as it is in Catholicism.”

    Btw, I’m glad you’re back. I missed your comments for a spell. You add color and candor here. I appreciate and enjoy that.

    First, there are plenty of goods folks, clergy and otherwise, in the Roman community, but…

    What these pedophile priests have done is unspeakable, and with them in particular, more than anyone else, the role of benefactor should reside, but my biggest problem ironically lies not with them per se, but with the RC leadership. The U.S. Bishops, AND THE VATICAN (if a centralized power structure is impotent in this case we should shudder as laity as to what might follow in our future), were wimps and cowards when their own were under scrutiny. Salt and light they were not. And this for a Church whose basis is focused authority. The claim Rome makes regarding their position of final authority creates one hell of a self-imposed spotlight (it cuts both ways), but alas they couldn’t even make the swift and proper condemnations AND necessary judgment and actions that our secular society was able to discern as obvious. If the RC Church wants people to consider its truth claims, it needs to demonstrate that morality is a two lane road! Then, and only then, will consideration be given by outsiders, and many insiders for that matter, as to Rome’s potential authenticiy and message. If the modern Church of Rome on a daily basis, in full view for all to see, continues to cloak itself the way it has regarding the American priest scandal, then what’s a pagan or otherwise to think. No wonder people are predisposed to the spurious Da Vinci Code. Rome has History. Some of it beautiful. I think of the late Mother Teresa and there is Rome at her best, but it’s time to quit making excuses. It’s time to fess up to the sin of the Crusades and stop publishing apologetic works on why they were justified (yes, I’ve seen these books and fairly recently!). It’s time to stop blaming the Eastern Orthodox for the 1054 Schism. It’s time to quit blaming Luther for the Reformation. It’s time to stop blaiming the media for their own pedophile scandal. Start taking some responsibility Rome! That’s what “authority” demands, and they should remember that respect is not granted but earned. The price of admission for the leadership Rome presumes to assert is integrity. Not perfection, but integrity that has continuity. Let’s face it S79, there was absolutely no need to deliberate about how to respond to the American Church scandal. Anyone and everyone with a modicum of reason, saint and sinner alike, knew what the response should have been. If the RC Church wants to assert that everyone else should submit, then it it should start with some of its own submission. Take the log out of your own eye Rome before you start trying to snatch splinters from the rest of the world.

    Also, I question whether this problem is as rampant elsewhere as in Rome. Pointing the finger to the failings of others is the surest sign that the defendant is guilty. When your own don’t exclaim your innocence or demand accountability, but instead point the finger at others as their defense, the truth is already revealed, and worse still an afterthought when it should be what guides next steps.

    So, to Rome and BXVI especially: You wanna be tough? Stand up Papas and show you have what it takes to be the Vicar of Christ and BE the defender of the “least of these.” Let’s see some papal ass kickin’ as Padre once commented here. No excuses either about being too old or transitional (or that JPII was as well). If that’s a problem, then stop electing those who can’t step into the ring! Don’t continue to bear witness to the world that you are THE case in point as to the axiom: “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I’m watching, and from the inside too, and so is the rest of the world.

  41. What the heck is going on here??? Look away for a minute and y’all get weird.

    First, just to be clear, Portofino is a cheese!

    Second, I think the definitive proof of the practical inadvisability and unnaturalness of male/male sex is that without latex, it eventually results in disease. Could it really be that what the church thought about this sexual morality for several thousand years has suddenly become cloudy? Or is this lack of clarity wishful thinking.

    Third, if this perspective was of God, why are so many of its practitioners and adherents so consistent in condemning the church and insistent on rending it asunder? A local ECUSA congregation has gone so far as to say that they have a “new gospel”. Excuse me?

    Fourth, I read the Gagnon piece, Dan. And, I’ve heard the broad brush arguments you enumerated more than once. Jholder called your well-couched bluff. Give it up. Being attracted to same sex activity (or to adulterous activity) and acting on it are two different things. I suffer from the latter, but by the grace of God do not act. I do not sympathasize easily with those who yield to temptation, unrepentantly. Neither did Jesus. To the woman at the well he said, “Go and sin no more”, not “you can’t help yourself, honey, what with the cost of living and all, but I love you anyway.” Unconditional love is a biblical myth. God’s so-called “unconditional” love is always ready for anyone who submits and in doing so claims it, bringing them near to the hope of glory. God allows unrepentant sinners their reward, too. It involves weeping and gnashing of teeth last I heard.

    Third, see some of you tomorrow at 2610 Fairfax in Denver at 6:30 PM for more of this. We will report here our discussions for the benefit of all. The local gendarmes have been notified and intend to double their presence in the immediate area in case of loud talk or fist fights.

  42. Constantine,

    I agree that the Church did not handle the problem correctly. I think the zero tolerance policy should’ve held true for those who molseted children in the past, not only the future. I also think they should’ve come to that policy alot sooner.

    Here is why I say it is unfair to lump all clergy of the Church in the same cxategry

    “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a national study in 2004-FEB which concluded that about 4% of all U.S. priests since 1950 have been accused of sexual abuse of children.”

    Also I wasn’t pointing the finger, I was showing the reason why the Catholic Church was pointed out among all the rest. Simply put, Money.

  43. Also, I’m sorry but I would have to disagree with you about God’s unconditional love Morpheus. God’s love is unconditional, but his convenant relationship is not.We never lose His love, but we do lose the benefits that come with walking in obedience to His covenant with us. Some of the benefits are natural, such as protection from desease…etc. Some of them are spiritual, such as supernatural and divine protection.But learning that God doesn’t love me more today when I am acting like a “good child” than He did yesterday when I really messed up was a huge milestone in my Christian journey…

  44. For the record, I’ve read Gagnon, as well. Not impressed.

    I have Christian friends who happen to be gay and lesbian. You can spend a great deal of energy trying to find biblical reasons to condemn them, just as slaveowners found biblical reasons to agree with slavery. There are some FEW verses there that will help your cause.

    Ultimately, though, I know they are Christians by their love. By the fruit of the Spirit. By God’s witness to me through them.

    Believe what you must. Just don’t act unjustly or unlovingly towards my friends or I’ll open a can of Christian whoopass on ya (see morpheus’ latest post at loingirders).


  45. And I also have Gay friends as well Dan…and just as I have to “beat my body” as Paul said to make it submit to the will of God and not give into fornication and other types of sexual immorality, they also have forsaken the pull of their flesh to follow after the Spirit as they are adamant that one is not conducive to the other.

  46. Its called self control…anther fruit of the spirit… albeit an unpopular one in this generation….

  47. It’s only fornication if it’s outside the context of marriage, which the church is refusing to allow. At least some churches. Not mine.

    And so we have some holy unions that are blessed and wonderful. And the marriages and families and commitment that happen within them are truly holy. Set apart. Divine.

  48. How can any church allow sam sex marriage when the bible clearly defines marriage between a woman and a man?

  49. I’m quitting after this’n.

    The Bible offers many models of family. Polygamy, which appears often in the OT. The deliberate marriage to a prostitute. Paul’s advocacy of celibacy.

    No where does it say that a couple of guys can’t be married. It says things such as: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife” but this does not disallow a same sex marriage. It does endorse what was the commonly held notion of marriage at the time.

    At our church, we’ve come to understand that homosexuality is not a sin, as many of us grew up thinking. It is the way God created some of us. And so for our gay friends, we gladly embrace their marriage when they’re ready for such a commitment.

    And there you have it. God’s blessings upon you all.

  50. Dan,

    “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife”

    Does not endorse, it defines a marriage.

    Now by no means am I a Bible Scholar. But I was always had the understanding that some of Laws in the old testament were ment srtictly for the jews of that time in that place. COuld polygomy be one of these laws? Maybe I am off base.

    What if somebody really love his horse and wanted to marry it?

    By your definition this would be accceptable because the bible only endorses and does not define.

  51. …Since when did having the blessing of man become synonymous with having the blessing of God? I don’t know about anyone else, but I am running this race to win. We are to conform to the Gospel, not conform the Gospel to us. God does not bless what he does not sanction. There is no Biblical provision for the covenant of same sex marriage period. “Blessed is he who is not condemned by the things that he approves…”
    I am taking my final bow out of this conversation which is careening haphazardly towards lunacy if not heresy…

  52. Dan said, “You can spend a great deal of energy trying to find biblical reasons to condemn them…”

    I’m not interested in condemning them Dan, I’m interested in saving them, and loving them. I have had many gay and lesbian friends over the years. Here is an article by one of my current friends with whom I coorespond.

    Dan, it is one thing to love those who are in a state of sin (i.e. all of us). It is another thing to pretend that sin isn’t sin because of that love. Morpheus nailed that one above.

    It is loving to support “sex acts that cause bleeding, choking, disease and pain … You might start by explaining the meaning of the medical term ‘Gay Bowel Syndrome,’ or how people get herpes lesions on their tonsils”? (an article from Boundless webzine)

    (actually, I don’t want you to explain that!)

    But I’m not out to convince you Dan. I’m done.

  53. You notice when discussing homosexuals, everyone has to admit they know some one who is, there family member, a good friend ect.

    Does this some how validate thier views on homosexuals?

  54. Whatever it is, I ordered it from…I like books and cheese so either way I figure I’m good…

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