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Are We Welcoming Of Those Of All Sexual Orientations?

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In alluding to inclusivity, Point 4 says that we are Christians who are welcoming of "those of all sexual orientations". Given a recent book discussion that we are having on this forum, I thought it would be good to ask: does this stance apply to:

 

1. Pedophiliacs?

 

2. Rapists?

 

3. Those who commit incest?

 

4. Sadomasicists?

 

What do you think? Should we really be open to "those of ALL sexual orientations" or should lines be drawn? If you think lines should be drawn, where should those lines be? Would you be comfortable worshipping or fellowshipping with someone who has the above mentioned "sexual orientation" for the sake of inclusivism?

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Bill,

 

In my view, I think all the points have to be considered as a whole. Obviously, if someone was currently practicing a sexual orintation that expressed behavior that did harm to others or was in principle in direct oppossition to the other 7 points, the answer would be no. Fellowship would definitely not be of mutual benefit.

 

Joseph

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I do not see such statements as extending to extreme or harmful behavior, sexual or otherwise. Points 2 and 4 are inclusive to people of all walks of life, but I still would not like worshiping next to a neo-Nazi, a KKK member, a drug peddler, or a mobster. 'Mutual respect' as a guideline to me does not mean stating categorically that all ways of living are equally accepted or acceptable. We have to use judgment in who we associate with in that such is the condition of the real world. There is discretion implied in these points, as no general principle or point we can ever formulate would survive when pushed to an extreme to wring out an exception.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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There is discretion implied in these points, as no general principle or point we can ever formulate would survive when pushed to an extreme to wring out an exception.

 

I understand what you are saying, Mike, but Point 4's use of the word "ALL" implies that there are no exceptions, no extremes. If I say ALL the cookies in the cookie jar, that means ALL the cookies. If I say ALL the cookies except for peanut butter, then peanut butter becomes the exception to ALL.

 

What concerns me is, because Progressive Christians stood/stand at the forefront of welcoming gays into our community, will the community do the same for child molestors or rapists or sado masochists or those who commit incest?

 

If not, why not?

 

After all, the same arguments of "it's against the natural order of nature" or "it's sinful" or "it's denegrates human life" were all once used against the gay community. But PC's no longer believe that to be true. So what is to prevent PC's from "progressing" to where these other forms of sexual expression won't simply be seen and accepted as an "alternate lifestyle"?

Edited by billmc
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Bill,

 

I think point 5 says a lot as regards to point 4 and to bre truthful I think it is good not to over-define principles. You ask....

 

"So what is to prevent PC's from "progressing" to where these other forms of sexual expression won't simply be seen and accepted as an "alternate lifestyle"?"

 

It seems to me that nothing prevents such a thing though it seems highly unlikely. All things seem to me to be subject to change. However, personally, i don't believe hypothetical questions such as this need to be addressed by Progressive Christianity at this time, nor does it , in my view, have a basis in current reality. While it may be interesting to discuss or think about, in my view only, i see no meaningful purpose for PC to be concerned with this until and unless it becomes an issue to do so.

 

Just my opinion,

Joseph

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I agree. I think this problem happens to exist within the very framework of any ethic that is not rooted in an absolutist, black-and-white viewpoint. That there is a subtlety and relativity within ethics should be of no surprise to PCs. There is more to life than what exists at either extreme, and I think an ability to recognize and appreciate this is one of the great achievements of the Western mind.

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Bill,

You have a way of asking questions that challenge me. When I read the topic, my first reply was YES!! However, that is because I was assuming you were talking about sexual relationships that involve real love, wanting what is best for an equal, rather than hurting someone or taking something from someone else.

 

" So what is to prevent PC's from "progressing" to where these other forms of sexual expression won't simply be seen and accepted as an "alternate lifestyle"?"

Of all those, the most likely would be incest between loving adults. I recently read of a case where a married couple did not know they were half-siblings, because one of them had been born through an affair. I have to say that the standard should be LOVE.

 

It would NOT be comfortable for me to be welcoming to a pedophile, but we may need to even if it is outside our comfort zone. Do you think that Jesus would have had a meal with a pedophile? I do. The "church types" (like myself) would have objected, but he would have done it anyway. If a pedophile wanted to talk about God on this site, wouldn't we respond? Loving our enemies? It's super-hard. We don't have to condone behavior to invite a person into relationship with God.

 

Janet

Edited by AllInTheNameOfProgress
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Janet,

 

I think you make a good point that Jesus, from what we have read in the Bible, would have talked to anyone that was truely interested in the things of God. I think that says much. If they were interested in hearing and discussing such issues and questions which are raised here it would seem to me good and who are we to withhold what we are freely given.

 

Of course, continued fellowship with one who is not interested in love and respect for other humans would not be wise and i doubt that one who does harm to others would remain interested for long in such conversation as we have unless he/she had the desire to change. Besides, if their posts were of a lack of respect for others or hurtful or offensive nature, they would be appropriately excluded here as i would think they would also be excluded in other progressive church meetings. Perhaps each case is different and needs to be considered as it arises.

 

I think Mike also makes a good point with black-and-white viewpoints. "There is definitely more to life than what exists at either extreme". It seems to me enough to deal with one day at a time.

 

Bill, thanks for raising the question for consideration as I think it might have been in the back of the mind of others also.

 

Joseph

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Bill, thanks for raising the question for consideration as I think it might have been in the back of the mind of others also.

 

Joseph, don't thank me for raising the question after you have already decided, "I see no meaningful purpose for PC to be concerned with this until and unless it becomes an issue to do so."

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Joseph, don't thank me for raising the question after you have already decided, "I see no meaningful purpose for PC to be concerned with this until and unless it becomes an issue to do so."

 

 

Sorry if I have offended you Bill,

 

I haven't decided anything. I was just expressing my opinion as you can see if you will look at the entire sentence you took it from in post 5 here. And I stand by my statement of appreciation for you bringing up the issue not only for yourself but for the benefit of others who might have that in the back of their mind.

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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We just need to be careful about excluding, because God loves us all the same. I'm sure a pedophile would be excluded from my church gathering if they were not trying to change. They would probably end up in jail, because they would be reported by church members. But then, continuing the fellowship behind bars would be the Christian thing to do IMO. It would be VERY difficult!!! Isn't that where Jesus calls us -- to radical places.

 

Janet

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What I'm trying to say is that we couldn't in good conscience let habitual rapists and pedophiles roam free to hurt more victims, but when they have been removed from society, God would ask us not to ignore them, but love them. That's not to say I've been involved in prison ministry, but Jesus said, "I was in prison and you visited me." Is there a way to be welcoming given these guidelines?

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I do think Bill’s is a valid concern, but I think it is one that is not at all unique to the beliefs of PC. His question seems to be about a slippery-slope scenario. If you allow for A, then there is no reason for B and C, and eventually Y and Z, not to follow. As such this is not simply a PC issue, but a huge problem that, if definitively answered, would pretty much put the whole branch of philosophy known as ethics to rest. It seems the best we can do is use our cumulative moral knowledge to figure out what defines a good and healthy sexual relationship. Unless we are coming from an absolutist’s point of view, we have to settle for some relativity and ambiguity and cultural context in the process of our deciding. I am not a total moral relativist, mind you, but I do admit to the presence of a strong element of relativity within any moral system.

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Perhaps I’ve missed Bill’s point in bringing this up?

 

Bill, perhaps you are arguing for a better defined 4th point? Or wondering if PC has or would have the chutzpah to actually draw a line and exclude somebody if and when the situation arises?

 

If I have misunderstood your point I apologize.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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G'Day Bill and g'day everyone,

 

I have been reading this topic and I think it is a very important point which Bill has raised and which needs to be analysed. From my personal take, I think I see a middle ground.

 

I think the TCPC point, in using the word 'orientation', should be looked at. What is 'orientation?'. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is defined as: 1 a : the act or process of orienting or of being oriented b : the state of being oriented; broadly : arrangement, alignment

2 a : a usually general or lasting direction of thought, inclination, or interest b : a person's self-identification as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual <sexual orientation>

 

However I am not sure if this is the presumed definition of TCPC. For me, when I read the word 'orientation' I read, I guess, 'biological and sexual inclinations present from birth'. So when I read that point I take as its parameters those gays and lesbians and even trans-gender people who have innate inclinations, as innate as my inclination to be straight for instance, but are margainalised and excluded by some elements of society. If this definition is the definition one applies to 'orientation', I have no problem with the point whatsoever. BUT, if the definition is more "a usually general or lasting direction of thought, inclination, or interest", then there may, as Bill points out, be an issue, as this can indeed include various sexual practices which may be considered against generally held morals etc. Orientations are different, say, from deviancies! So where do we go then?

 

If the second definition stands, then I think it becomes a matter of consent. So to use some of Bill's examples, pedophilia and incest are not sexual 'expressions' which contains the consent of the other party, well not usually. Sado-masochism could, I guess, be considered to be okay if both parties consent to the activities. Ultimately, it is the consent which makes the activity fall within the parameters of an acceptable orientation.

 

I have gone on a bit but that is how I see it. With my own definition of orientation, the point is fine. With the dictionary definition maybe there is scope for clarifying the point, perhaps even being more specific (open to heterosexual, homosexual and trans-gender seekers) or choosing another word than 'orientation', maybe 'identity'?

 

Thanks for this Bill, this is is a great point you have brought up!

 

Adi

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Hi Adi and all,

 

I have included an official TCPC.org statement on the eight points by Bob Ryder, a former executive council member. As you may note the 8 points were written to avoid a dogmatic and literalistic understanding. In my opinion, when they are all taken together as a whole, Point 4 in general becomes clearer as any orientation that is not a 'matter of consent' would in my view, violate a general principle of other points. I would think there are probably rapists and other categories that presently exist in present day churches that the people are unaware of. But it seems to me, that once such behavior is exposed and deemed harmful or at risk to others, whether PC or otherwise, proper action will be taken to protect others. I do not personally believe that we need to break down point 4 into a more legal or dogmatic understanding in light of TCPC stated intentions and the 8 points as a whole. Where PC goes from here is in my view, any-body's guess. Fred Plumer, TCPC President calls this a "progressive experiment" in an article which can be found here.

 

As far as the original question goes that Bill posed and specifically mentioned in Post 1 being

1. Pedophiliacs?

2. Rapists?

3. Those who commit incest?

4. Sadomasicists?

 

I think it is presently generally accepted that those Bill mentioned above, if believed to endanger others by taking the 8 points as a whole, would not be welcomed in PC community. What the future will bring in change concerning that point is something that to me is best left, at least to me, to the future.

On the 8 Points

 

"From the beginning of TCPC, the intention of the '8 points' has been to present an inviting expression of a particular approach to the practice of Christianity. Our hope is that this series of ideas will be appealing especially to those who do not find a comfortable fit with traditional understandings of Christian faith, and result in thoughtful conversation on basic themes throughout the Progressive Christian network and beyond.

 

We will continue to present the original version along with other more recent versions for comparison in our various printed and electronic venues. As always, we want to avoid a dogmatic and literalistic understanding, including in our own written articulations of the faith.

 

You will no doubt find your own ways of articulating the nuances of Christianity expressed in the 8 Points. We encourage you to find creative ways to live out those expressions in your daily relationships and routines."

 

Bob Ryder, Former TCPC Executive Council member

 

Joseph

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People commit sexual crimes because they are troubled. I feel some people want to serve, counsel and help these individuals so they may progress to a better place. They should be given the opportunity to change their lives and be accepted if they show a sincere effort to understand and change a behavior that is harmful to others. People in the general population who might have had an experience as a victim might be traumatized by their presence. They have a right to progress and forgive at a safe place without being forced to accept something before its time. I think a medium can be worked out in acceptance to both situations.

 

When I was young I taught meditation and philosophy at a prison. The members of the class when they came up for parole had no one to support them. I had a business so I set up a half way house so they were released to me and I gave them a job. I could only afford to hire them for a month then they had to find other employment. I did set up a house for their living needs. It was a small number, but most became productive citizens. I have to admit that most were in prison for drugs, but they did rehabilitate. I found that when they were released they mentally were still in prison because they had a complex and a record so it was hard for them to find a job. It was a severe test that most without support fail because they feel they are outsiders. I lived in the house with them and we set up a schedule that was strict with two group meditations daily. They even did community service by attending classes and giving classes at the mental hospital. I learned from them. They changed and helped me change too. In the prison class there was a man who murdered his wife and he was becoming very devout, but he was in a more structure situation of prison and was not going to be release. I watched one native American who was in prison for a minor crime of stealing the American flag from a sheriff's office. It was the sixties. He was very sensitive and didn't belong there. At one point he had to go to a holding tank with other hardened criminals for defiance and when he returned he had a hard shell that was hard to break through. People can change and deserve a chance, but people who are not ready to accept them need respect too and the time away from them to change their attitude.

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I feel everyone has some talent to offer the world and their unique purpose is an agreement with their soul. They come to earth to heal, but also to contribute in specific ways. It might be to help people that were in similar situations as themselves, start a business, raise a family, or just be a friend in need. When the soul succeeds in reaching a goal the person is empowered and fulfilled. When we don't follow the soul, I feel we become confused and try to fill the void with a physical power that usually gets us in trouble. I feel eventually people hunger for the energy of their soul, the fulfillment and joy of the path or special agreement with their spirit. The people engaged with their soul mentality and work agreement have an energy and love that is positive. They delight in their work and it is contagious bringing an awareness to the special purpose and meaning in others. I don't think the soul awareness is easy as we have to face our demons and fears, dealing with sexual predator might be one of them. Moving through our experiences we grow and develop only to grow closer to our soul and the numerous paths and choices that have to be made for fulfillment. I feel we know those who are sincere and need our encouragement and those who will ignore our help at a certain time. I feel when Jesus said, "Don't cast your pearls before the swine," he was saying give your energy to those who will appreciate, use it, and enact their own purpose with awareness and optimal efficiency. No one can help and individual that doesn't want to be helped. The downtrodden are usually open for change because they have been broken by society while the arrogant might need a few more physical experiences to make them more aware of what is available spiritually.

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I just wanted to thank everyone who has contributed to this topic and this thread. When I opened the topic, I wasn't really trying to recruit bouncers for the PC movement, I trust that all of you know that. :rolleyes:

 

But in following this thread and reading the responses, even the questions have somewhat morphed in my own mind and maybe underneath my direction question a deeper question surfaced of how we look at and decide these often complicated issues.

 

As most of us know, religions often appeal to a sacred text, to some tradition, or to some kind of direct revelation to give guidance for addressing some of the more difficult issues in life. We PCs are a mixed lot and probably tend to employ a number of methods and viewpoints, as is evident in this thread. Personally, I think that is healthy. I find it encouraging when a community doesn't shy away from hard issues or hide behind religion and can come together and share views in order to find a way to move forward. And I am also impressed to see that compassion seems to stand at the heart our responses, certainly compassion for victims, but also compassion for those who want to change or grow.

 

It is fairly easy to quote a scripture or a church father or a tradition in order to give us "easy answers" to our personal and social struggles. It is much more difficult to do the hard work of trying to decide how we should address these struggles and I'm encouraged to see that we are not afraid of the hard work.

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I just wanted to thank everyone who has contributed to this topic and this thread. When I opened the topic, I wasn't really trying to recruit bouncers for the PC movement, I trust that all of you know that. :rolleyes:

 

Aw, and I was getting ready to bust some noses. I wonder if I can get a refund from the gym. :lol:

 

Seriously though, I appreciated the responses here too. PC's mixture of different approaches and methods is definitely a strength, especially when combined under the umbrella of respect and love.

 

I was impressed by what Soma shared about his experiences working with prisoners. That Jesus welcomed and showed compassion to the social outcasts is repeated so often that it risks being a cliche. It is nevertheless always moving when his example is actually practiced and realized.

 

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Speaking as a gay man, I think the difference between accepting homosexuality and accepting something like pedophilia is that a child is incapable of consenting to sex. Homosexuality doesn't hurt others but rape and pedophilia do because the person who engaged in them didn't consent, but I think it depends on how one defines acceptance. Does it mean accepting their actions or accepting the person that wants to change while not endorsing the actions of their past? If we mean the former, I don't think it's dogmatic in itself to set limits to inclusiveness where it's reasonable but I don't see it so much as setting limits to inclusiveness as much as I see it as making sure people are safe and protected from harm. It's sort of like the question of should we tolerate homophobia or racism or other harmful actions. I think it's an oxymoron to tolerate intolerance and likewise I also think it's an oxymoron to tolerate harmful acts.

 

At the same time, I think if someone had a dark immoral past but served their time and is willing to change, they should be accepted while we also make the precautions of keeping people safe from harm. It's like in the early church, Paul was an ex-murderer and used to persecute the church, but he changed his way and he's since been accepted almost universally by the majority of Christians, but people still have difficulty accepting other people with dark pasts that are willing to change. But even in the early church, Paul was not automatically trusted and people showed caution before accepting him because of his past actions towards the church. I know 1 Corinthians 6:10-11 has been abused in the past to justify gay conversion therapies, but I think it still makes a powerful point on different issues.

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Edited by Neon Genesis
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Edit: I accidentally clicked quote when I meant to edit. Sorry for this.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Would a sin by any other name be as rancid?

 

I think we're all in the same boat, when it comes to our relationship with God. In Christ, there is no male or female...and I think that includes no straight or gay. I am less interesting in who someone chooses to love in committed relationship than what their relationship with God is. I think that we walk the razor's edge when we worry too much about what we are in the flesh than what we REALLY are in the spirit. Sexual immorality is not gender exclusive. Gay men and women can love and be committed and guess what they're normal too! They can also be given over to unnatural desires which separate them from God.

 

But frankly, I don't care about who you choose to love, so long as you love the way God made you to.

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Most of this discussion took place long before i entered this forum. I don't think I've even read it before.

 

Quite simply, I do not see the offensive behaviors toward others listed in the original post here as having anything to do witg "sexual orientation." They are violent, disrespectful, and unloving acts of violence against another weaker than oneself.

 

Can I "love" a pedophile, rapist, etc? No. I can love a person that may have engaged in such behavior and action, but not "as" a defining element of who they are. To hate the sin but love the sinner, all that line of stuff. Even in that, to allow of love of the person, does not mean allowing for their unrestrained contunance in offensive behaviors, of this nature or any other. Love for the pertetrator of serial rapes does not negate or over ride love for the victims/potential future victims. It would not be a failure to love the rapist or pedophile to restrain such a one from further offense, to protect others from further assault. Love for all demands that effort at restrain.

 

Jenell

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But we're supposed to be able to love those who are deemed to be unlovable. That's doesn't mean that we will. But Jesus loves us for our failings, numerous as they are. I don't think there is a spectrum of what sin is worse than another. Every sin is an offense to God - no matter if we think it is a sin or not, no matter how minor we think it is.

 

JenellYB you write "I can love a person that may have engaged in such behavior and action, but not "as" a defining element of who they are." I agree, I think. Saying that I love someone who commits a violent crime doesn't mean I think that they did was okay and that they should be released from prison. I don't think, though that anyone deserves the death penalty.

 

I think what Jesus does is to challenge how vulnerable to others we are willing to be. If we see the sin as he sees it, what choice do we have? Compassion and forgiveness or condemnation? Which does God choose? I think forgiveness. Even for those who are supposedly going to hell, there's God right there, pouring out His mercy (or wrath) on them until they are cleansed. If God forgives everyone, maybe we need to try to. God knows that it's tough or downright impossible for us to, but if we really allow the Holy Spirit to infiltrate our souls to conform us, then, I don't know, maybe it will be possible for us to forgive and love.

 

How radical is God's love in that He can forgive us for the sins we commit to other people, though, as I think, all sins are offenses to God.

Edited by matt67
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