Thursday, January 31, 2013

From:Gay Salvationists GLBT Series 2013

I am a sinner. A jerk who daily struggles with lust, pride, envy and anger. What is worse is that I’m also a Pharisee. I follow strict laws of moral conduct; I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, gamble, swear, etc. and despite my being raised to believe in the inherent goodness and equality of people I feel this entitles me to look down on people. Waiting until marriage I look at people who have premarital sex with equal parts contempt and envy. And yet… this is who I am. This is who Jesus died for. This is who he loves, warts and all, and is changing into a better person on a daily basis when I give him control of my life. So the question I have for you is do you want me in your church?

I know I am not alone in this struggle. I also know that when we look down on other people it’s really us battling our own inner demons. The problem is that when I go to church or converse with most of my friends they’re presented with ‘Christian Darryn.’ With ‘Christian Darryn’ everything is sunshine and lollipops all the time, nothing bad ever happens, and my faith is never shaken. The only problem is he’s not real. I, like everyone who is being honest with themselves, battle with hurts and hang ups and long for a place to be honest and rest. This used to be called Church. Now it’s called therapy.

For those of you who don’t know Salvation Army history very well, it was never intended to be a church. It was always a Christian organization, meant to clean people up and set them on the right path toward God as they dealt with the issues that plagued them. Initially it was believed that once the gamblers, alcoholics, prostitutes, etc. began reforming their ways they would be welcome back to their churches with open arms. What happened was that the doors were slammed in their faces. So the founder William Booth started his own church. It was filled with every type of untouchable he could find, very much like the island of misfit toys. It reflected the first group of Jesus’ followers. People from all different walks of life, current and former addicts, sinners all, banding together to make sense of their life and the world. Now look at the churches we go too.

Being welcoming is not just about homosexuality but sharing God’s message to everyone who will listen, even if it makes you uncomfortable. It saddens me to be seeing The Salvation Army dying, but in my short life I have seen that gradual progression in my own denomination and other churches.

We’ve gone from winning souls for Christ to raising our kids in Sunday School and hoping they will stick with it when they get older. Of course we welcome everyone into our sanctuary as long as they are ‘church people.’ Those who look, act, think, speak and smell the right way are welcomed happily, the rest are tolerated. This is not an indictment of all churches, but too many have I gone to where I would be uncomfortable taking friends. Too often have I heard that drug and alcohol treatment clients would spook the horses as it were. Much can be said of different worship styles and theology but ultimately people want a place to come with their questions and burdens. A place to belong.

I’m thinking of a church. This is a very big church with a lot of people in it. There is every race and colour here, intellectuals and the mentally ill. There are unwed teenage mothers, prostitutes (both former and current), families with children and people devoted to a life of celibacy. Men, women, and everyone else comes here to worship. We have biblical scholars and people who are 99% sure that there is no God but come to hear otherwise. The rich and the poor, teatottlers and addicts, miserable and spiteful human beings and the cheeriest fun-loving people you’d ever want to meet. Those who were born in the Christian faith and those who have no idea what Good Friday even is.

Everyone is here for three reasons.
1. To support one another in love.
2. To work more on themselves and become better people.
3. To learn more about Jesus.

It is messy and chaotic and maddening and there are times we feel like we are falling apart at the seams and yet God keeps us together. To live authentically and see things truly, providing and protecting one another. Not a ‘gay church’ or a ‘straight’ church but just a place of peace that actively goes out in the community and drags people in off of the street who want to come. Have you seen this church? If so, let me know. I’ve been looking for it a long time.

Galatians 3:28 says “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The path to salvation is narrow enough without our help, we need to get out and talk to those people who make our skin crawl because that is what we were commanded to do. Despite being generally perceived by friends as a loving and kind person I do believe my judgemental attitude must have hindered someone’s walk with God at one point or another. This makes me physically sick to my stomach. I don’t have a monopoly on God or faith, and just because I don’t agree with how someone lives their life it does not mean that I have any right to sit in judgement or keep the redeeming message of Jesus from them. This will be my daily prayer and I hope you will join me.

We are at a point where grace intervenes in history GBLT SERIES 2013

I wonder what Peter thought when he realized he had to explain his vision to the other church elders. You know, the vision mentioned in Acts 10. “The next day as the three travelers were approaching the town, Peter went out on the balcony to pray. It was about noon. Peter got hungry and started thinking about lunch. While lunch was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the skies open up. Something that looked like a huge blanket lowered by ropes at its four corners settled on the ground. Every kind of animal and reptile and bird you could think of was on it. Then a voice came: “Go to it, Peter—kill and eat.”
14 Peter said, “Oh, no, Lord. I’ve never so much as tasted food that was not kosher.”
15 The voice came a second time: “If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.”
16 This happened three times, and then the blanket was pulled back up into the skies.[1]

The story ends with Cornelius arriving to see Peter, and Peter and the believers telling them about Jesus. The Holy Spirit falls on them, and Peter declares they should be baptized. A great story of inclusion. A great story of the universality of the gospel message. Except that, in Chapter 11 Peter has to explain his actions. Peter has to explain why gentiles have been admitted to the church. Why he admitted gentiles to the church, you know, gentiles who did not live according to God’s law. Those gentiles.

I think there are parallels today with the movement towards a more inclusive church and away from some of the rigid understandings of the past. What does this story tell us about working towards an inclusive church? About explaining why we are including those who have previously not only been excluded but actively chased away.

Firstly, unbeknown to Peter, the three men were already on their way. They were already on the road to faith, God had already met with them, they were coming to Peter for Peter’s benefit far more than theirs. They needed to hear the gospel set out, yes, but they had already had an encounter with the living God. Peter was confirming the witness they already had. Similarly, those who have been excluded from our communities of faith but who are accepted by God as his children are already on their way to meet with us. God has called them, He has blessed them and He has sent them to us.

Next, Peter was praying-  he had a heart receptive to God’s action and call. He wanted to hear from God, and expected to hear from God. He was waiting to hear how God wanted him to engage with his world. We too need to be seeking God, and listening out for his call to us, with a receptive heart, one that expects God to constantly do new things. A heart that responds to the call of God with “Yes!”

Peter was surprised by what God said. It challenged his theology, it challenged his understanding of the scripture and it was completely unacceptable in the faith community to which he belonged. Peter pointed out that he would NEVER do what God suggested. Who has God called us to accept and integrate into our community of faith that challenges our theology, that we see as unholy, that we would NEVER tolerate? Might we need to hear the same message as Peter. “If God says its OK, its OK” Who has God called into the community of faith that we are sure, should be excluded?

Lastly Peter did not allow his pre-existing theology to stand in the way of his experience of God’s acceptance of those considered unholy and outside the community of faith and his advocacy for them with the rest of the church.

“if they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have”  (Acts 11: 17) He recognized the signs of God’s acceptance and took them at face value. Why don’t we do that?

So often our “good” theology blinds us to God’s “best” grace. God was saying that something which was once considered sinful and able to separate you from God, was in fact okay. God had clarified his calling, and His all encompassing love won out.


Lord Mayor Clover Moore last night launched a bid to repaint major crossings on Oxford St in time for next year’s 35th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.

The church has been through this many times, in the acceptance of  women, in the acceptance of gentile converts, in its treatment of divorce and those who divorce, in the full ministry of women or people of colour, of people of diverse sexuality and gender. We will continue to go through and have to work through these issues until we meet in heaven, but we can learn from Peter’s experience.

I am sure there were those amongst the disciples who threatened to leave the church if the gentile agenda was advanced. I am sure there were those who did leave. But here’s the thing: it was those that left that missed out on God’s best, not those who stayed and worked through their discomfort.

We are at a point where grace intervenes in history. It is exciting, how we respond to God’s call to people who are same –sex attracted, how we integrate what God is doing within our understanding of what God has said, will be key.

It is rare, but not impossible, for someone to come to faith knowing they were gay. It is much more likely that someone with faith comes to understand they are gay. How we respond to either situation is the mark of how we have understood the gospel.

To quote Bishop Barbara Harris

“How can you initiate someone into the Body of Christ and then treat them like they’re half-assed baptized?" - The Rt Rev Barbara Harris

Former SA Officer

[1] Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: The Bible in contemporary language (Ac 10:9–16). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Apologies Due GLBT Series 2013

Apologies Due

For some ways people have been treated in the precious movement known as The Salvation Army, they deserve an apology. This is not about me. The Salvation Army doesn’t owe me anything, but I know quite a few others that would do well to receive an apology.
Is it the movement that has offended? Sometimes. There are systemic flaws that affect people and do harm. More commonly, there are individuals in The Salvation Army that have hurt others in the name of The Salvation Army, and they need to apologize.
If that’s you and you’re in the Western Territory, please trust me enough to contact me and see if we can give you the apology you deserve. We may not be able to fix the situation, but we may facilitate the healing. I believe that’s what Jesus would do.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35 NIV
Commissioner James Knaggs

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Boy Scouts of America 
Monday, Jan. 28, 2013

Attributable to: Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations 

“For more than 100 years, Scouting’s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.  

“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.  

“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”   

Atheists however, remain banned...

The potential policy shift raises a question about another group shut out of Scouting: atheists, who decline to say the Boy Scout Oath because it begins: "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law."
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said Monday, "If they are considering lifting the ban on gays, that's a good thing, that's progress. If they lift that bigotry from their requirements, I would hope they remove the rest of the bigotry and admit atheists as well."
Refusing to admit atheists who decline the oath, Silverman said, "tells boys that atheists are immoral. If local groups want to behave in an ethical way, I'm confident they will make Boy Scouts about Scouting, not about bigotry."

The Girl Scout Promise is similar in committing the girl to "serve God and my country."


The following opinion was written by Justin, a GayChristian.Net member who believes God blesses same-sex marriages.  
Four Traditional View Arguments: The Big "Why?"
Before examining the problems I believe are inherent in the Traditional View, let's take a look at the various reasons people give for condemning same-sex relationships.  Not all Traditional Views are the same, and some of the arguments are better than others.
Of course, some people hold the Traditional View simply because it is the traditional view.  I've heard people say, "Two thousand years of church tradition can't be wrong."  But this approach ignores just how often church tradition has been wrong:  when astronomers challenged the traditional interpretations of 1 Chronicles 16:30 and Psalm 104:5; when abolitionists questioned the Biblical support for slavery; when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses in defiance of the Catholic Church; when liberal Christians began suggesting that interracial marriage was not a sin in God's eyes - in these and many other cases, social pressures were the catalyst for reforming the church's traditions.  We are the body of Christ, to be sure, but we are an all-too-human body, and we're still growing to spiritual maturity.
That's not to say that there haven't been some misguided reformers as well.  It should go without saying that not everyone who questions tradition is right.  But when we do question tradition, we need to be able to ask "why":  Why does this tradition exist?  What is the point of this rule?  Where does this belief come from?
Here are the four most common answers I hear to the question of why.
Argument #1: "Our bodies were designed for heterosexuality."
This argument is phrased different ways, from the cliche (e.g. "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve") to the vulgar (e.g. various comments about "plumbing").  The argument is the same: God designed our bodies to interact in a certain way, so we shouldn't use them in any other way.
It's certainly true that God designed our bodies with heterosexuality in mind; that's how new human beings come into the world.  I don't think anyone can deny that heterosexual sex is the way our bodies were built to function.  But does that mean that using our bodies in any other way is sinful?
God designed our ears and mouths so we could communicate - we listen, and we talk.  Every culture on earth communicates this way.  But some people are deaf, maybe because they were born that way or maybe because of something that happened to them.  Either way, they can't communicate the way the rest of us do, so they have to improvise with what they have.  Most deaf people today use sign language to communicate, and even though that's not what our hands were designed for, it gets the job done.  None of us would call that "sinful."
The argument that "you shouldn't do that because that wasn't God's design" is really more of an excuse than a real argument.  If anything becomes sinful just because it wasn't part of the original design of creation, we'd have to condemn wheelchairs, makeup, open-heart surgery, bicycles, acrobatics, pre-packaged foods... well, you get the idea.
 End Part One

Monday, January 28, 2013

Life as a Chaste Canadian Virgin

It’s difficult, and downright countercultural, for me (as a Salvationist) to live to the standards I have set for myself in my faith and walk with Jesus. The majority of people my age, Christian and non-Christian, Gay and Straight, are having sex. Or they’re trying to have sex. Despite what you may think I’m not about condemnation of that choice but simply expressing how difficult it is to live the way I do.

Any guy who shows any romantic interest in me whatsoever is told early on that I’m a virgin and believe in waiting until marriage.

Exactly what constitutes sex has been argued with me as a matter of semantics, so let me put it like this; I’m unwilling to do anything that I would feel mortified of my parents walking in and seeing. The standard reaction is none at all, 6/10 guys I tell that too I never hear from again. Another 3/10 respect my beliefs but don’t share them. 1/10 either share my attitude for waiting or are open to the conversation. Sadly 98% of these people live far away. And so my pool of potential applicants starts narrowing into a puddle. This is not a particularly gay phenomenon, talking to some of my straight female Christian friends they share a similar frustration, however, I find it difficult to feel sorry for them as a) they’re dealing with 20X the amount of guys and b) most of these guys haven’t been hurt by the Christian church at large nearly as much as LGBTs.

I’ve discovered early in my life that expecting another person to fulfill some sort of desire, to fill some sort of hole, that was meant for God isn’t going to work. It’s like tossing a drop of food colouring in the ocean and hoping the waters will turn yellow. God gives me strength, comfort and purpose. In as much as finding a nice gay Christian guy to share the rest of my life with would be, finding the one is supposed to be the icing on the cake and not the cake itself.

In my 24 years on this planet I have had the opportunity to do some amazing things. I have prayed in ancient churches in Jerusalem, trekked through jungles to see crumbling temples in Cambodia and driven from coast to coast across Canada. I have had the opportunity to help people by serving meals to the homeless, teaching English to children from poor rural areas and organizing canned food drives for victims of natural disasters. I have friends, who make me look sane by comparison, dragging me out to do completely nerdy and utterly fun activities. I have a family and a God who love me, and, a calling; to help people better their lot. My life is full and rich and generally happy. I’m sometimes left wondering if it’s meant to have more though.

I often snicker to myself how much of a ruckus my non-existent romantic life causes. I went on a few dates in my life so far, even had a serious boyfriend for a time, but for one reason or another none of it panned out. In many respects it has been good not to be tied down as it is has opened me to service elsewhere. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7: 8-9 “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” I’ve always had a very deep sense of respect for single officers (Ministers in the Salvation Army). It’s only been recently that they instituted the rule in Canada that an officer can marry a non-officer, but up until then a person’s choices were highly limited. Many people entered training college (seminary) knowing that they were devoting their entire lives to God and his service and this meant they would never get married or have children. Therein lies the difference between chastity and celibacy in my own mind.

I’m chaste to the point of thinking I could die at the age of 90 in a slum somewhere doing God’s work and never having been intimate with anyone… but I’m open to the right man if God brings him into my life. Exactly why I chose chastity over celibacy is a whole different post in itself.

I’m not going to say it doesn’t get lonely. There are often times I wonder if it’d be easier asking for the moon than finding a guy who’s a) Christian b) Chaste c) Available d) Attracted to me e) Attractive to me. You know, all those things that I feel that would form the basis of a healthy relationship with me. And I wonder sometimes if I just gave up, let sex occur naturally or give it to whoever wants it, if my life would be any better.

The problem is that I’m awesome. I’ve worked hard to become this awesome and any guy worthy of me should be willing to wait if that’s what I desire of him to do. I’m not saying it isn’t hard but regardless of the life of service I lead, single like Mother Teresa or coupled like Martin Luther King Junior, I want my life to be one of impact that God can use to heal a hurting world. Plans are in place, pieces are in motion and all that is left for me to do is move forward and let God take control over how my life is going to play out. Although between you and me… it’d be awesome to find someone to share the journey with.


Crisis and Process Part TWO

Ours is but one of 6,790,000 google listed sites (Jan 27, 2013) with a focus on the GLBT issue, and between 75 googlers per day will find their way to us in addition to 50+ other visitors. Some 4,000 persons in total will be provided insights, some perhaps for the first time, into the most contentious issue facing the church today.

Our blog will again be focusing on this controversial and divisive issue through the posting of some 20+ primarily SA relevant articles. We’re doing so for several reasons.

·      First of all it’s to keep this most important issue front and center of the church’s focus; teaching and debate. 

·      Secondly, it’s to allow our newest 200 FSAOF members, those who joined our fellowship in the last 24 months, the opportunity to gain a more immediate insight in FSAOF members’ views, without having to backtrack and sift through the almost 1,500 earlier blog postings.

·      Important too is to introduce our ‘crisis and process’ format. It’s one that we used unwittingly in our earlier attempt at introducing and studying this divisive issue. We witnessed transitions on many levels of understanding, respect and attitudes, even if no changes in positions were shared. Comments to our blog and the many I have received personally would suggest that few visitors will readily, if ever, change their strong held moral views on the GLBT issue. However, if a sufficient number of people express their positions relative to ‘inclusivity’, an ethical provision, perhaps the structure of our church can adapt to the fullest and freest life possible. Our paramount intent is to explore where there might be breakthroughs of inclusivity.

Without vigilant examination of what we are doing, it is easy to evince more interested in our causes or dogmas than in persons.    Elton Trueblood

Is Trueblood’s admonishment sufficiently provocative enough for us to believe that TSA (we) ought to change our position on the GLBT inclusivity issue?

No contemporary Christian can claim a merely inherited faith and live without conflicts in the present age. Nor does it become a requirement to choose between traditional and the contemporary. It is the acknowledgment that in our spiritual lives boundaries of conduct and expectations may differ.
We respect and admire any and all who through convincing intellectual search justify a new insight and approach on traditional SA positions, as we do those who through the same type search hold fast to traditional ethical values. Acknowledging and respecting differences in theological question and positions are a significant leap for all towards closing the gaps of indifference and prejudice.

Ethics are culturally and society driven.

Is the church's historical and traditional ethical position (teetering on many fronts) driven by its own theological research and time-tested Truth, or by acquiescing to the societal and political influence and demands of the world? Is the church being ambushed through political expediency and are we being simply being swept up in its wake? It’s imperative that we seek our own direction and that any changes be made freely and not be forced on us and the church generally.

Ought we to allow politically charged voices outside our sacred walls to redefine the Church’s  (Army’s) traditional ethical Bible grounded value positions?  A brief glimpse into the government’s role in the USA, Canada, the UK, Sweden, etc reveals just how rampant, spirited and powerful their takeover bids have become.

John H.W. Stott said at a seminar I attended in Nyack, N.Y.; "The greatest indictment that can be levied against the Christian and the church is that; you are no different than the world." The gap between the people of God and the way those in the world live continues to grow wider.
General Eva Burrows said to me on one of her visits to Moscow; "TSA has only one tradition. We have no traditions"! Our (SA) capacity and ability to change, adapt and adopt are among our noblest traditions.  Salvationists have always been able to discern when God wants to do a new thing in our midst.  But this reminder; exploring the GLBT issue, may not necessarily lead to any immediate or major mindset turn-around. Maybe God’s new thing is simply a wake up call to be a genuine Church; a place of healing, reconciliation and inclusivity. What is needed now is a readiness in which committed Salvationists and SA supporters take the lead. 

What is needed is a large number of us in sufficient agreement in order that we can make a statement truly representative of the consensus of our Christian judgment.

Sven Ljungholm
Birkenhead Corps UKIT

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Crisis and Process PART ONE

International Mission Statement of The Salvation Army:
‘The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based upon the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination.'
The Salvation Army teaches that sexual acts should take place only in a monogamous heterosexual marriage, believing that this reflects God's intentions for sexual behaviour and provides the best environment for raising children.  Marriage is a covenant between God and wife and husband, ideally providing resources of grace, forgiveness and love to sustain a lifelong faithful relationship.
Once again the FSAOF blog will focus on what is currently the church’s most controversial, contentious and divisive issue; the GLBT community and their relationship to the church.

The FSAOS has focused and received more comments on this issue more than any other in our five and half-year history. And, I can safely say that no other topic has garnered even half as much interest and debate as we watched the number of visitors double and even triple in excess of three hundred per day. Opportunity was provided for all in and outside our fellowship to participate by submitting articles and to offer rejoinders.

When we began posting articles on the GLBT issue we were alone in doing so in SA related blog sites. And what made ours unique is that the FSAOF is primarily a public venue as our audience profile reflects that more than 60% of our visitors have no identifiable SA affiliation.  Consequently, many who read our exchanges would have encountered their first ever introduction to the SA’s theological position on the GLBT and other issues The general public knows little about our theology and it was rewarding to note the many return visitors.

All the postings were very respectful and helpful with none rejected or edited. Irenicism reigned; from the Greek word ειρήνη (eirene) meaning peace.  It was the FSAOF’s attempt to unify our apologetical system by using reason and inclusivity as the essential attributes.  Theologians  who affiliate themselves with irenicism identify the importance of unity in the Christian church, and we sought to declare the common SA bond we share in and under Christ.  It was a welcome opportunity to defend the Army’s position while acknowledging the strengths, emotions and realities of the opposing views, new to many.

The tradition of the SA on the question of GLBT issues has, until our public discussions, been largely ‘ignorant’, curiously silenced and naïve, many would add. We (TSA) have not actively opposed homosexuality, we’ve simply been silent and actively covered it up when necessary. It’s been of only marginal concern until the FSAOF and a few other SA affiliated groups began to speak out on ‘coming out”.

As expected there were a fair number of responses that were emotionally-driven. Yet, the blog comments suggested that our presentation of opposing viewpoints provided all with a good model for how logical level headed disagreement and debate can best be executed. I believe that as a result of the blog series many, including me, picked up their spears and re-drew their line in the sand.       End part One

Sven Ljungholm
Ethics - The formation of Human Values
Moscow State University

Former SA officer

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Much of the renovation-repair-material necessary was provided by the FSAOF

Adding beautiful handcrafted gifts from Renee DeMoranville
Florida Her mother was a key and very generous donor.
(Renee was one of Sven's Jr. Soldiers 30 years ago)
Captain Aizan and I sort out the wiring - two promising technocrats!

Glad, Dima and his wife Ilona, the OC, examine the gifts
designated for their Sakarni corps' kids.


Appropriately the festivities began with the telling of the Christmas story told by Major Glad, translated by Lt. Dima
The Seda children shuffle to a Christmas tune...

And finally - what they've all waited for!

Lt. Dima directs the Sarkani children in a Bible story drama-

Monday, January 21, 2013


06:05 departure from London's Stansted -
$4.50 for questionable quality coffee!

Our friends Aizan and Sergeys met us on our arrival
Glad is welcomed by these colorful characters -
wanted to take them home; they are unsecured 24/7 ! 

Riga, the city of steeples

One of the many colorful Christmas markets

We stopped for a coffee on our arrival in Riga and were served
with a smile by a waitress who it turned out was a SA soldier
at Riga I Corps
Arrival at FSAOF Mission Central

houses 20 persons