Friday, January 31, 2014

France's first same-sex wedding was held this week.  The latest New Yorker's Mother's Day cover pictures a lesbian couple reading a card from their three children in their kitchen.  Since last March, when the Supreme Court heard arguments over same-sex marriage, three more states have legalized gay marriage.  

Yesterday, Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated that "no issue defines our current cultural crisis as clearly as homosexuality." He adds: "Within a few short years, a major dividing line has become evident—with those churches endorsing homosexuality on one side, and those stubbornly resisting the cultural tide on the other."  I agree.

I could write a Cultural Commentary every day on topics related to homosexuality—that's how pervasive this issue has become.  If I did, would you soon tire of reading what I wrote?  Have you grown weary of this subject, as important as it is?

I'm grateful for every believer who is willing to take a biblical stand in this debate and defend Scripture by "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).  At the same time, I fear that we are in danger of allowing this controversy to distract us from the larger issue.  In 1973, psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote a book titled, "Whatever became of sin?" Let's consider what was happening in our culture 40 years ago that might have prompted his question.

Here's my point: Human nature doesn't change.  We are broken, for "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  Every problem we've discussed this morning is a symptom of the underlying disease.  The only cure for sin is the forgiveness of God and transforming work of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17).

David Platt was right: When Jesus set out to take the gospel to the world, "all He wanted was a few men who would think as He did, love as He did, see as He did, teach as He did and serve as He did.  All He needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world."

Has he revolutionized your heart today?

Illinois bishop: ‘Punish’ LGBT people like children if they get married

By David Edwards
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Catholic bishop who performed an exorcism after the state of Illinois legalized same-sex marriage said last week that he did it because he loved LGBT people and they needed to be punished like children.
Just minutes after Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage last November, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki performed an exorcism on the entire state of Illinois.
Paprocki told Life Site News during last week’s March for Life in Washington D.C. that he went through with the exorcism because the church was “under persecution.”
“Certainly the redefinition of marriage is an opposition to God’s plan for married life,” he explained. “So I thought that would be a fitting time to have that prayer, really for praying for God and his power to drive out the Devil from his influence that seems to be pervading our culture.”
“To be opposed to the redefinition of marriage and to be opposed to things that are sinful, that’s actually a very loving thing,” Paprocki continued. “Perhaps it’s the permissiveness of our society that people think that if you don’t get what you want that you’re somehow being hateful, if you don’t give them what they want. But sometimes, like any good parent will tell you, that sometimes you have to discipline your child, sometimes you have to say no. And sometimes, you even have to punish.”
“And when a parent does those things towards their children, they’re actually being very loving by correcting them and showing them the right way to do things.”
Paprocki reminded Life Site News that the “redefinition of marriage” came from the “father of lies,” and that the media had lied by claiming that children could be nurtured in LGBT homes.
“We are facing a lot of untruths out there,” he warned. “We just have to be persistent and courageous and stand up for the truth.”
Watch this video from Life Site News, broadcast Jan. 26, 2014.


On her radio show, Dr. Laura said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Schlesinger, written by a US man, and posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as quite informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,
James M. Kauffman,
Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,

Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

P.S. (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian.)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Meaning of Marriage Part Two of Two


That leaves us with (b), namely that marriage has always meant the union of persons (or consenting adults) who commit to romantic partnership and domestic life. Now once this is assumed then there are three further possibilities that open up to us. Either
i.   throughout most of human history all cultures have understood the institution of marriage to be the union of consenting persons (or adults) who commit to romantic partnership and domestic life;
ii.  throughout most of human history, some cultures have understood the institution of marriage to mean the union of persons, etc.;
iii.  throughout most of human history no cultures have understood the institution of marriage to be the union of persons, etc.;

Logically, these are our only three options as subsets to option #2. The first possibility can easily be dismissed on historical grounds since prior to the 20th century there have never been any people groups which believed the institution of marriage to involve anything other than sexual dimorphism.

Advocates of same-sex “marriage” do make a lot out of the fact that there were some select cases among the ancient Romans and other decadent societies where two homosexuals would compare themselves to a man and wife and appropriate other marital terms to their relationship. For example, in his taste for the bizarre, the emperor Nero reportedly engaged in a “marriage ceremony” with one of his male slaves. The Emperer Elagabalus (reign 218 – 222) also “married” a Carian slave named Hierocles.

However, since we are talking here about cultures and people groups, little is advanced by detailing the shenanigans of specific non-representative individuals. To the degree that marriage is a recognizable cultural and legal institution, it has always been understood in conjugal terms rather than simply a union of generic persons. The fact that there may have been select individuals throughout history who may have understood things differently is irrelevant with regard to the social institution of marriage, for if there was no distinction between the purpose of the social institution of marriage and the private intentions of individuals, then the social institution of marriage would never exist in the first place, since the private ends of individuals differ greatly. (This is a point I develop in more depth in my Q&A on Same-Sex Marriage with the American Family Association.)

This basic fact rules out options i and ii above, leaving us with option iii: until comparatively recently in human history, no cultures have understood the institution of marriage to be simply a generic union of persons who commit to romantic partnership and domestic life; rather, marriage has always been understood to involve sexual dimorphism and complementarity. This was the position articulated by the third-century Roman jurist, Modestinus who wrote, “Marriage is the union of a man and a woman, a consortium for the whole of life involving the communication of divine and human rights.”

Now by itself this proves little, since truth is not determined by majority vote. It is theoretically possible that even though option iii is correct, marriage still does mean the union of persons but no one realized this until recently. Now this would be truly incredible, for it amounts to claiming that the union of a man and woman has always been a variant of the union of persons without any society ever realizing it; that biology and the possibility of reproduction were never at the core of what marriage is, but additions to it; that consummation was never central to the completion of a marriage since only practical when the “union of persons” happened to be members of the opposite sex; that being man and wife was never a core ingredient to marriage because man and wife were always a species of the genus “union of persons.”

Those who take the view that marriage always has been the union of persons are thus pushed into the corner of having to acknowledge that throughout most of human history, the laws, customs, culture and language built up around marriage was based on a misunderstanding of what the institution actually was, for until recently no society has ever understood marriage to be anything other than a union of a man and a woman. This would force us to affirm that when people recognized that there is a certain kind of relationship that is inherently sexual and uniquely enriched by family life and which uniquely requires permanent and exclusive commitment (in other words, what we call marriage), that this type of relationship was always a subset of a more generic relationship (‘union of persons’) for which sexual dimorphism was irrelevant, but no society ever understood this until the 20th century.


This raises a question: what type of evidence could, even in theory, establish the correctness of the claim that throughout millennia of human history people were marrying and being given in marriage without ever understanding the nature of the institution they were entering (having erroneously imagined they were entering an institution that was inherently sexually dimorphous)? What type of evidence could in principle prove the truth of these assertions? The reason no one has been able to answer this question is because we are dealing with beliefs which tend to be held dogmatically and not on the basis of logic and evidence. Those who hold this position have set the issues up in such a way so that option#2 is simply true tautologically, which is a species of the petitio principia fallacy (assuming the initial point).

The way you can tell if someone is holding a belief dogmatically is to ask them, “Are your claims falsifiable?” If they say yes, then you must ask them, “What considerations, or set of considerations would, if true, render your claims incorrect?” If a person admits no considerations that could, even in principle, falsify his beliefs, then those beliefs are being held dogmatically and no amount of rational argumentation will make any difference.

What about the third option, that the meaning of marriage is relative because it is entirely a social construct? We will consider that final option in the next article in this series. If it too is found weighed and wanting, the only alternative will be the traditional view that marriage is a sexually complimentary union of a man and a woman.

Next Steps
Read this article again carefully, to make sure you understand the distinctions Robin is making and the thrust of his argument as a whole. Share it with some friends, then discuss Robin’s points together in order to prepare yourselves to talk about “gay marriage” reasonably and with grace.

Robin Phillips
May 06, 2013

Edited without prejudice to reduce the length of the article without being impeded by the       described statement or proposal

The Meaning of Marriage Part One of Two

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

In my previous article about the meaning of marriage, I outlined the following three options that are available to us when asking the question, “What is marriage?” I closed the article by promising to offer a defense of the first definition.

These are the three definitions that I gave, which I developed after dialogue with people on all spectrums of the “gay marriage” debate:

Although the concept of marriage involves a degree of cultural relativity, at its core marriage is something specific, namely a sexually complementary (or dimorphous) union publically recognized because of its potential fecundity;

Although the concept of marriage involves a degree of cultural relativity, at its core marriage is something specific, namely a union of consenting persons (or adults) who commit to romantic partnership and domestic life.

The concept of marriage is entirely culturally relative; therefore marriage is a social construct and can mean whatever we choose for it to mean.

In this article and the article to follow, I will offer a defense of option #1 by a process of elimination as I consider the problems inherent in the other two positions. This article will be concerned with the problems of option #2 while my next article will tackle the problems in #3.

It may be helpful to acknowledge on the outset that in the real world the above positions are not always as clearly demarcated as I have implied. For example, champions of same-sex “marriage” will frequently assert the second position above when developing positive arguments for “gay marriage”, yet they will invoke the third when trying to answer the arguments of their opponents. Let me explain about that inconsistency before moving on to address the problems with option #2.

“Gay Marriage” Realism
When advocates of same-sex “marriage” make statements about the importance of not denying a certain group access to the institution of marriage, they are being realists, since they are implying (perhaps without realizing it) that marriage has a definite meaning that transcends the contingencies of culture and language. For if marriage did not have a fixed meaning that could in principle include certain classes of people, then there would be no way we could meaningfully speak of those classes being unjustly excluded, just as you could not meaningfully speak of tennis players being unjustly excluded from an athletic club unless you first knew that the category “athletic club” had a specific objective meaning that made possible the inclusion of tennis players in a way that it did not make possible the inclusion of, say, chess players or musicians.

In this respect, champions of same-sex “marriage” are realists. They think marriage has objective content that is fixed and specific, namely the union of two persons in some kind of love relationship. Because of this (so the argument goes) we should not exclude any person from such unions, whether that exclusion is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or something else.

The realism of this position coheres with the first view of marriage given above since both option #1 and option #2 hold that marriage has a specific objective meaning. The only difference between the first and second option is on the question of what marriage actually means: is it a union of sexually dimorphous persons or is it simply a union of persons?

“Gay Marriage” Nominalism
In my experience, often the same champions of “gay marriage” who are realists when asserting that marriage is a union of persons will quickly switch to being nominalists when interacting with their opponents. That is, they will move from asserting that marriage has an objective meaning that is specific and fixed (namely the union of persons) to suggesting that the meaning of marriage depends entirely on arbitrary naming acts.
For example, in arguing against option #1 above, they frequently point to the fact that past cultures have sanctioned things like marriage to children or polygamy, as if this shows that marriage is entirely culturally relative, and entirely a matter of definition. This moves us to option #3 above: marriage has no intrinsic meaning, but achieves its meaning through external will; therefore, the primary questions we should be looking at are questions about what social outcomes will result from defining marriage in a certain way.
The only problem is that if the champions of same-sex “marriage” were to be completely consistent with this nominalist turn, they would have to deny any objectivity to the claim that marriage is a union of persons in general (over and against a union specifically of a man and a woman), which mostly they are unwilling to do. This unwillingness is not surprising, because the entire argument about needing to “expand the pool of people eligible to marry” assumes that marriage has objective meaning and refers to a union of consenting adults who commit to romantic partnership and domestic life. But if marriage is an infinitely malleable social construct, then we cannot claim that its existence as the union of two persons is fixed and objective any more than we can claim that its existence as the union of a man and a woman is fixed and objective.

…. Two leaky buckets
Have you ever tried to have a discussion with someone who used two faulty arguments interchangeably? You go to address the first faulty argument, and the person switches to the second faulty argument; and then, when you go to address the errors of this second argument, they switch back to the first. Each argument is invoked to patch up the problems of the other, but never stays put long enough to answer the critique.

When I’ve been involved in discussions like that before I explain to my interlocutor that it’s like having two leaky buckets. If you put one leaky bucket inside another leaky bucket, it’s still not going to hold any water.

Similarly, two faulty arguments, added together, still do not equal a sound argument.

That’s how it is with option #2 and option#3 above. Both are faulty, and used together they are like one leaky bucket set inside another leaky bucket.

The analogy actually breaks down, however, since it implies that the two leaky buckets can fit inside each other. But actually, option #2 and #3 above are contrary. Defenders of “gay marriage” try to make them co-inhabit, so that each position can bring in the dirty laundry of the other, even though in a purely logical sense they are contraries (meaning they cannot both be true, even though they may both be false).

I’d like to now address why I think option #2 is faulty….
If we say that marriage is a union of consenting adults who commit to romantic partnership and domestic life, there are two things we might mean. We might mean either that

(a) this is what marriage does or ought to mean now even though it hasn’t always meant this;
(b) this is what marriage has always meant;

If the meaning of marriage can change as dramatically as implied by (a), then how is this anything other than acknowledging that marriage is entirely culturally relative, that it is a social construct and can mean whatever we choose for it to mean? When you think about it, option (a) is really a different species of the same Nominalism represented by option #3 above, and therefore it can be considered later under that rubric.

Robin Phillips
May 06, 2013


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I really think The Salvation Army is getting undeserved bad press here. I am a very obvious transsexual woman. I live in a redneck backwater where everyone knows me and knows exactly who and what I am. Though I consider myself agnostic, have never been active in any church, 70 years ago my grandparents were the national Commanding Officers of The Salvation Army in America. Both are gone, but they left me with the one thought that they lived their lives by: Love One Another.

The discussion here advocating boycotting of the Christmas kettles has been most disturbing. The Salvation Army described in so many posts is not The Salvation Army I have known and loved. I arranged a meeting with our local Commanding Officer to discuss my concerns. I wanted to know the official policy. She provided me the current policy statements.

For those of you who do not know, The Salvation Army is indeed an evangelical Christian church with the mission of saving souls. Taking the position that it was easier to save a soul that was not worried about eating, the Army adopted as its mission what is now one of the largest private charitable organizations in the world. But the church and charity are two separate functions. While the church operates the charity, involvement with the church is not requisite. The church has funding sources separate from the kettles. The kettles support only the charity.

As a church, as many churches do, the organizations policy is that “Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex”, therefore "Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to or as an alternative to heterosexual marriage. Likewise there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation. The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse. In keeping with these convictions, the services of the Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation. The Fellowship of Salvation Army worship is open to all sincere seekers of faith in Christ, and membership in The Salvation Army church body is open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army's doctrine and discipline."

Now please note that as a church, The Salvation Army does not condemn homosexuality, it recognizes and accepts as a reality, but it's literal reading of the Scripture forbids homosexual sex.

With regards to human equality, The Salvation Army's position is: "As an international branch of the Christian church, The Salvation Army has been concerned from its inception with the spiritual and social needs of all people, recognizing that all bear the divine image and are equal in intrinsic value. "God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female" (Genesis 1:27) "From one person God made all nations who live on earth"(Acts 17:26).

"The Salvation Army affirms its full support on all levels, to the biblical and Christian imperatives of human and civil rights. We oppose unlawful, unjust, or immoral discrimination and seek to promote sensitivity, understanding, and communication. Christ-like attitudes compel and empower the building of strong cross-cultural relationships. Shared values and common goals shape and positively influence the broad culture of Salvation Army ministries. Diversity strengthens those ministries. Christ brings unity within diversity.”(From my perspective, I wish that all churches were as supportive!)

"All Salvation Army social welfare services are provided on a nondiscriminatory basis: such services shall be equally available to all persons on the basis of need and capacity to benefit from the service."

"All Salvation Army positions of full-time service, lay leadership, employment, and volunteer service are open to qualified persons, with exceptions dictated only by the religious purposes and moral positions of The Salvation Army." Please note that one of those conditions is that practicing homosexuals may not be officers. Officers in The Salvation Army are ordained ministers. So practicing homosexuals cannot be ordained in the church that is The Salvation Army. Celibate homosexuals can. The restriction is not homosexuality, but homosexual acts.

Having said all of this, the local commander advised that if one feels that they are being denied appropriate social services they should file a a complaint with the regional command, the national command, and/or if necessary, international command in London, England. All are easily accessible through the Internet.

As is the case with so many, unfortunately a few bigots in the organization are getting a good organization painted with a bad brush. The Army's policy is to help all in need. As a religion, yes, they do advocate celibacy in a homosexual relationship, but they also have a very strong human rights equality statement condemning violence, marginalization and disenfranchisement and promoting love. As a church, homosexuals are not to be Officers, aka ordained as ministers, but all are welcome and invited to join in worship. As a social service agency their help is available and freely provided to anyone in need who can benefit from their assistance. If anyone in need encounters less they should file a complaint with the regional command.

In my personal experience in disaster management, I have repeatedly seen The Salvation Army freely give in times of disaster, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and counsel the grief-stricken without so much as advertising their presence, let alone asking for a donation. Many soup kitchens and other services are wrongfully credited to the Red Cross when actually provided by the Salvation Army - think about that when you hear the Red Cross or United Way soliciting your donations. I have been in the cafeteria's when an officer has asked for a moment of silence as he led a prayer of grace, but I have never heard proselytizing or preaching there. If that's what you want, they'll be happy to have you to their prayer service.

If you are concerned about where your red kettle donation goes, it goes directly to social services - the food, the blankets, the clothes and the housing, with the lowest overhead expense of any major charitable organization, and with no questions asked. I now work for an agency that uses HUD funds to provide emergency shelter. When we get one that we cannot help either because we are full, or they are somehow ineligible, or beyond our scope, the first call is to the Salvation Army. Day or night, 24/7, I have never heard them say no. They always find a way to rent them a room in the hotel, or put them on a bus, fill their gas tank or feed them, or all of those things if that is the need. Come watch the Christmas gift program that provides the only Christmas gifts some children will ever get, in addition to the food to feed the family, and even a Christmas tree, never with a question as to anything other than need and probability to benefit. That is where your kettle donation goes, please don't jeopardize the good they do by confusing religious conviction with bigotry. The Army may not agree with your lifestyle, but accepts and appreciates you as a person of value, and agrees to disagree. They don't condone us, but they certainly do not condemn us! Personally, I don’t know any agency, public or private that has done so much for so many.

They are out there every day, 24/7 doing what they do, in a spirit of Christian love. Except for the bell ringers this time of year have you ever heard a plea for donations? Have you ever heard one of the bell ringers say more than "hello" and open a door for you whether you gave or not? Have you heard them say more than thank you or Merry Christmas when you did make a donation? No. That is the way they do business, with love and genuine smile, and never a big sign proclaiming their greatness.

For the one who said bell ringers get paid, understand that many of the "volunteers" are in dire need of income. The Salvation Army does "pay" it's bell ringers and other "workers" so that they might have the benefit of the satisfaction of work rather than being dependent on welfare or charity, and the benefit of insurance for both the individual and the property owner where they are posted - most businesses require the insurance before they will allow placement of a kettle. Insurance companies only insure employees. Most "volunteers" never pick up their "pay", or they just put the money in the kettle. That is their choice.

I am sorry if you find the ringing bell a dunning. Traditionally bells are symbolic of the harmony existing in the society. Their pitch and rhythm indicate joy, warning, or sorrow so that the community might rejoice with the joyful, and mourn with the sorrowful. Bells act as a medium between heaven and earth, bells and especially their clappers, represent communication and suspension between humans and God. The sound of bells announces the birth of Christ on earth. And so they are used to remind us of Christ Commandment to “Love on another”.

Please support your Salvation Army charity. Your donation goes directly to the neediest in your community. It doesn't go for fancy buildings, advertising, or officers salaries, and it does not support the church. Give what you can, there are many in need this year. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:39-4)

Oh yes, like so many large organization, The Salvation Army is somewhat lumbering and slow to respond to changing social norms. My grandmother religiously wore the old fashioned bonnet, full coverage blouse and floor length skirts until the “new” uniform was introduced in the late 1960s. As with so many organizations, their policy toward alternative lifestyles is under review.  I would not expect them to lead the movement to full acceptance, but I would expect their modernization much faster than other “Christian” organisations.

Stacey B. Gray
For years, Facebook posts, forwarded emails and rumors have been leading some people to believe that The Salvation Army does not serve members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. These accusations simply aren't true. Since its founding nearly 150 years ago, The Salvation Army has lived out its mission: To meet human needs in His name, without discrimination. People who come to the Army for assistance will be served according to their need and our capacity to help - regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Some Internet postings originate in remarks made in a radio interview by Australian Major Andrew Craibe reported by the Truth Wins Out organization. It is emphatically noted that Major Craibe's comments do not reflect the views, policies, beliefs, or teachings of The Salvation Army anywhere in the world at any time in history. We acknowledge that because of our size and scope, occasionally one of our millions of employees and volunteers might say or do something that does not reflect our values. We address these incidents as soon as they arise. The Salvation Army believes that all people are equal, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factor, including race, gender and ethnicity.
The People We Serve Each year, thanks to generous donations, The Salvation Army serves nearly 30 million Americans - or one person every second - from a variety of backgrounds. People who come to us for assistance will be served according to their need and our capacity to help - regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The People We Hire The Salvation Army embraces employees of many different faiths and orientations. Our hiring practices are open to all, and we adhere to all relevant employment laws, providing domestic partner benefits accordingly.

The People Who Support Us Many people - including those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community - support us with time and financial resources because of a common cause and commitment: To serve people in need. br />

"I called (Harbor Light) and told them everything - that I was on a fixed income, disabled, transgendered and trying to get away from my ex. It wasn't even an hour later that they called back and said they'd hold a spot for me. I arrived with nothing but a hope to start my life over and a desire to be strong again. A year and a half later, I was back on my feet. Living there was drama-free and I was never disrespected. They started a community service bug in me that's kept me active to this very day." - Jacquelynn Massengill, Salvation Army volunteer and former transitional housing resident Questions? Don't hesitate to follow up with your local Salvation Army or email its National Headquarters at <


-- To dispel rumors, the Salvation Army has developed a page on its website called "Debunking the Myth of LGBT Discrimination," which is leading some to conclude the nation's second-largest charity now approves of homosexual behavior.

The issue, though, may be more nuanced than the gay lobby realizes.

"For years, Facebook posts, forwarded emails and rumors have been leading some people to believe that The Salvation Army does not serve members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community," the website states. "These accusations simply aren't true."

In a report Dec. 23, the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News said the Salvation Army's reputation within the gay community has been "greatly damaged" because of several "half-truths."

"It's sad to say that in this fight for equality the gay community has sometimes not stayed ethical in the fight," SDGLN said, adding that comments by a Salvation Army employee in Australia in 2012 have "turned into a tabloid lie of 2013."

The Salvation Army USA, SDGLN said, removed from its website the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. "This was after many in the LBGT community called out the organization for stating this on the website," SDGLN said.

On its "debunking the myth" page, the Salvation Army says people who come to them for assistance will be served according to their need, "regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation."

The charity, which serves nearly 30 million Americans each year, also "embraces employees of many different faiths and orientations" and provides domestic partner benefits.

"Many people -- including those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community -- support us with time and financial resources because of a common cause and commitment: To serve people in need," the website states.

Fortune magazine, in a blog post Dec. 20, said the Salvation Army still doesn't permit its clergy to conduct same-sex marriages.

"According to a spokesperson, 'as a Christian church, the Salvation Army holds theological beliefs that direct the actions of our officers and church members. Our beliefs are based on our interpretation of the Bible. As a result, our officers officiate traditional marriage ceremonies between men and women who are in committed relationships,'" Fortune reported.

The Salvation Army's website explains that the charity "is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination."

Though the Salvation Army's recent actions could be construed as embracing the homosexual lifestyle, being willing to serve people from the LGBT community does not necessarily equal celebrating their behavior, a view also held by Southern Baptists and numerous other evangelical denominations.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


'Gays in the Family - SDA

'Gays in the Family': An Inside Look at a S
eventh-day Adventist Presentation on Homosexuality
You don't have to be intentional to cause damage. That's something I've learned in the past few years as I have journeyed in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and witnessed so many attempts by pastors and theologians to explain and defend the church's current position on homosexuality.

Just sitting in the pews as an LGBT person can be one of the most uncomfortable situations of our lives, as we're spoken about in a theoretical and theological fashion, but seldom are we actually asked or allowed to share our perspective. You see, we are people of faith too, but the church has a de facto "don't ask, don't tell" approach (at best), even in most of its educational institutions, so we often linger in the shadows, in silence, hearing the most outrageous assumptions said about us by learned and well-meaning people who want to "minister" to us.

This past weekend was one of the worst examples of this "talk about" instead of "talk with" spaces, and it happened in Portland, Ore., at a "Gays in the Family" conference sponsored by the North Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The "Gays in the Family" conference headlined pastors, a therapist and five ex-gay* and/or now-celibate (all older) presenters handpicked by the North Pacific Union College to represent the official stance of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. As in most denominations, Seventh-day Adventists are beginning to realize that we have LGBT** people in our homes, in our churches, in our schools. Our administration is beginning to realize that we can no longer talk about homosexuality in a theoretical fashion; we need to humanize the subject in order to connect with the community. The realization is there, which I appreciate, but the execution is failing.

To open the weekend, Cheri Corder, the director of family ministries for the Oregon Conference, said, "Not every voice will be heard this weekend." In other words, only handpicked voices that present and justify the Adventist status quo are being promoted.

She was absolutely right. The weekend wasn't a dialogue; it was a presentation. All five of the ex-gay/now-celibate speakers had traumatic childhood experiences to which they attribute the cause of their "same-sex attractions," most of them having been sexually abused or even raped. One speaker stated that he had had up to three partners a day for over 20 years. Lives of drug use, prostitution and promiscuity were presented as the norm for LGBT people.

There was little diversity: All were in their 50s or 60s, all had had incredibly sad and traumatic childhoods, almost all had lived very broken and destructive lives when they were accepting their gay identities, and all now live the "ideal lifestyle" as a "person redeemed from the homosexual lifestyle."

But none of these labels fits my life or the lives of the hundreds of LGBT people I've met. It's like having a conference on women's ordination (another current hot topic in our church) and having only Caucasian men as speakers, or only selecting (the few) women who agree with not ordaining women. Why weren't there voices of same-sex, healthy, monogamous Christian individuals like those portrayed in Seventh-Gay Adventists: A Film About Faith on the Margins? How are we supposed to have a dialogue when only a select few are chosen to promote a very biased presentation?

But one of the most disturbing parts of the whole weekend was the presentation by the licensed therapist, Dr. Lucille Ball (and no, she doesn't joke about her name). Her talk was one I was looking forward to, because it was titled, "The Myths About homosexuality." Sadly, it just perpetuated the worst myths out there, and from a "scientific" perspective, which made it all the more damaging. The premise of her presentation was that homosexuality comes after a traumatic experience in childhood, most likely sexual abuse. Dr. Ball said, "We are not born gay," alleging that there is a "negative environmental factor which leads the person to think, 'I am gay.'" She added:

The bad news about that is that when we have that attitude that "I am born this way, and there is nothing I can do about it," it become so fatalistic: "I might as well give in to it. I might as well live the gay lifestyle, because there is nothing I can do about it." And you know what's something I discovered? It's that gay activists actually use that to get money from people, to fight for the gay agenda.

Dr. Ball continued her hour-long presentation with a string of statements that are shocking to anyone who has read any real research on homosexuality. She insisted that "67 percent of gay men were sexually abused," and that once gay people are able to cope with whatever traumatic experience they encountered in childhood, they would be "healed" of their homosexuality. I couldn't believe my ears. It was as if I had stepped back to the 1950s, when such propaganda was used to institutionalize LGBT people.

During the Q-and-A portion of the event, my question was selected and directed to Dr. Ball. I had asked, "What do you say to the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the rest of the legitimate scientific community, which believes that same-sex relationships can be healthy, and that attempting to change someone's sexual orientation is in fact damaging?"

She responded, "[The professional organizations] receive much pressure to conform to the gay rights activists. I'd tell them that I take the Bible above any man-made organization."

Setting aside the outrageous conspiracy theory of the "gay agenda," I was speechless that a licensed physician was outwardly stating that she had picked which facts from the scientific community to agree with based on her own personal religious views. How are you ministering to LGBT people when you're calling them sick and using misleading "science" to back it up?

I have seen how damaging that narrative has been in my life, my family members' lives and the lives of other LGBT people. Just this past year I've had friends attempt suicide, kicked out of their homes, disfellowshipped from their churches and been made second-class citizens at our schools and churches, all due to the overwhelming narrative that we have received from our churches. But none of these friends I'm referring to were abused. None have been living as sex addicts or doing drugs. None come from traumatic childhoods. Some of them even come from highly supportive homes. This narrative of "we need to heal the homosexuals" is toxic, has been proven to be damaging and does not contain an ounce of love. It's spiritual and psychological malpractice.

This spiritual and psychological malpractice does real damage. I recently read a moving letter from an older brother to his younger gay brother, who attempted suicide just this last fall, overwhelmed by what the church said about him. In the letter the older brother pleads, "Please do not ever give up on your Jesus. You may have brothers who turn against you, friends who cause you to bleed tears, and churches that can't legally bar their doors but yet still bar their hearts against you. Please do not let these people dictate the character of your Jesus."

My generation is not tolerating this idea that LGBT people are sick, broken and second-class citizens. The image of the "gay lifestyle" that is preached at our schools and from our pulpits doesn't bear any resemblance to the real lives of LGBT people. What this does is create negative stereotypes that force our young people to be damaged, not from their sexuality but from the responses received from their Christian brothers and sisters.

When the Christian community approaches the LGBT community with an "accepting yet redeeming" model (what a pastor advocated at the conference) instead of an "accepting and affirming" model, we render the Holy Spirit useless. We actually don't have to have theological unity about whether or not committed same-sex relationships are biblical in order to lean into unconditional love. But we have to begin listening to all the voices that need to be heard instead of hand-selecting a few that fit neatly into our current worldview. We have to see each other as equals at the foot of the cross.

In the comments section of a blog post on "change ministries," the mom of a young lesbian woman talked about what really needs to change. Her revelation? That she was the one who needed to change:

There is no need for "Change ministries". God says that with even the smallest faith, we can say to a mountain to move.... and it will move if it is inside God's will. If God really wanted gay people to change, a prayer made in faith.... should be all that it takes. I have found that my crying and praying in earnest for God to change my daughter led me to realize that it was ME that God wanted to change. I am the one who needed to learn to love more. I was the one who needed to change. I also think I have an obligation to NOT attempt to change LGBTQ people but to love them and let them know that God loves them and wants them for his own.

We need to change our approach. If this is what is going to be offered as a "conversation," then it's no wonder that LGBT youth that come from rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who come from accepting homes. A church like the Seventh-day Adventist Church is very much a home. It's a very close-knit community, and it is incredibly damaging to kids to grow up thinking that they are entirely unwanted unless they twist themselves into some sort of heterosexual lifestyle or can imagine, at 17 or 18, living alone for their entire lives.

Isn't that what we're promoting? "We love and accept you as long as we visibly see you trying to change." This isn't the love I read about in the Bible. This love comes with all types of conditions, requirements and deadlines. We are loving LGBT people straight to hell. There are thousands of LGBT Adventists who live Christ-centered, healthy, monogamous lives. We're here, and we sit right next to you in the pews. And we'd love to tell you our story. If you'd only open your eyes and listen to our stories, you would see the damage you are causing to people like me, however unintentionally.

*In Torn: Rescuing the Gospel From the Gay vs. Christian Debate, author Justin Lee makes an interesting discovery on ex-gay ministries: "In ex-gay circles, I learned, the word 'gay' didn't mean 'attracted to the same sex'. At ex-gay conferences, I often ran into ex-gay leaders who publicly testified that they were 'no longer gay' even while privately confessing that they still had same-sex attractions." I believe this change of definition shows the focus of conservative Christian communities. It has nothing to do with the sexuality and everything to do with "gay sex."

** I'm using "LGBT," but this conference hardly ever used that language. They didn't even acknowledge bisexual or transgender individuals at all. The only actually gay and lesbian people allowed to speak were described as "people redeemed from the homosexual lifestyle."


President, Intercollegiate 

Adventist Gay-Straight Alliance Coalition; 

student, Andrews University