Monday, February 17, 2014

Are you, am I, are we doing our part? LGBT Part One

The social media is the fastest tool of communication man has ever known. It has completely changed and upended the way people communicate and interact. Social media provides the opportunity to have the world at our fingertips sharing opinions instantly.

Seventy five per cent of the world’s population, four billion of us, use social networks regularly and it has overtaken email as the number one activity and the web. Ours (FSAOF) is but one of 200 million blogs posting nearly 1,000,000 blogs announcement and articles per day.

Since the inception of the FSAOF blog six years ago we have posted 1,419 articles and as many as 15,000 visitors per month have viewed more than 335,000 pages and left 9,000+ comments.

The FSAOF LGBT series sought to expose, for the third time in 4 years, the reckless dismissal by so many in fundamental and more conservative religious communities including the Salvation Army of this divisive issue. Families, communities and religious fellowship have been and continue to be divided, ostracized and pushed to utter despair, even suicide. Many within our movement have sought clarification on the LGBT issue from leaders in the Salvation Army in the form of a revised positional statement as promised these last several years. However, not a word nor promises of one to come! Does the SA assume that we've all bought into their entrenched position? Or was Shaw Clifton's excellent prophetic introduction to the LGBT debate the last allowable treatise?

Many along with the FSAOF are translating their position on LGBT issues, but not enough! Many Christians (and others) are stuck in a 1980s mind set, stuck behind decades old prejudicial conversations, condemnations and blind discrimination. Some though, with assistance from Christian groups, including the FSAOF, are looking for answers and solutions.  And we continue to post articles from the most respected and verifiable experts on the subject including our own members.

I resonate with the idea that some of our more fundamentalist and conservative Christian and cultural minorities have been "left behind", and not by choice. As a consequence those folk not up-to-speed with the more ‘sophisticated and liberated' among us, mass collections of Christians, have turned their focus inward. And we have shamefully allowed them to band about, back and forth, in a mire of illogical half-truths, prejudice and unbiblical judgmental attacks without seeking to patiently engage with them; or at least to the extent God would expect.

The LGBT conversation is for many so deeply personal, familial, moral, and provincial that, while there will be inevitable overlap between all communities, the conversation will take different turns, emphases and adoption in various forms and we need to be in the midst of it. And I believe only the Holy Spirit can change hearts and open eyes; many of us are a rebellious people. By earnestly seeking to be in the Lord's presence and to want to understand and obey His every word, the Holy Spirit will reveal that to hearts and open eyes. We all need to catch up to where the middle of the road Christians now circle their wagons. In too many quarters minds are closed and in others  jury is still out and they need our assistance in moving forward. Why the SA hasn't done more is anyone's question? Silence or simply saying our position remains unchanged is not enough.
Homosexuality is one of the most divisive issues within churches and across our nation and in many where the SA colours signal a welcome to all. For some in the SA the divide is seen as a rift between the progressives, moderates and conservatives; the 21st century liberated soldiers versus those refusing to consider or support anything not specified in their preferred authorized O & R and their well worn doctrine book autographed by their favourite Senior Major or Brigadier; the generational divide, with younger Salvos seeing this issue differently than the older veterans.
In my first officer appointment at age 39 stepping in to the work directly from my position as CEO of an airline I was stationed with my then wife as the corps officers of the New York Central Citadel Corps in midtown Manhattan. One of our program initiatives was establishing a residential high school graduate for some of the city’s then 60,000 ‘street people’. Each quarter 10-15 persons graduated and received their Graduate Equivalency Diploma. We scheduled a regular visits to the Adult Rehabilitation Center in Arlington, Va. in conjunction with the graduation celebrations. 

The long weekend visits always included taking in the key Washington D.C. sights, and one even included a private White House reception. While in Washington, in that all the majority of the graduates were African Americans, we always took them to the Lincoln Memorial. This iconic structure stands as a reminder of America’s great dream of equality and President Lincoln’s role in the emancipation of America’s slaves and the abolition of slavery in America. The words to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address are inscribed on the north wall of the memorial’s interior. In them Lincoln noted that at the center of the conflict over slavery were very different interpretations of the Bible. Lincoln said of the two sides in the war, “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.”
“Southern preachers and slave owners believed the many references in the Bible permitting and regulating slavery in both the Old and the New Testaments, were clear evidence that the institution was a part of God’s social and moral order. Abolitionist preachers argued in their sermons that the verses related to slavery in the Bible were a reflection of the cultural context and times in which the Bible was written and did not reflect God’s endorsement of slavery. They argued that there were “weightier” scriptures on justice, mercy and love that superseded those on slavery. This was the position that Lincoln himself adopted.” (Adam Hamilton, United Methodist pastor)   
In Luke O'Neil's "The Year We Broke the Internet" at Esquire, his piece pleads for media to rethink their approach in presenting a more honest and truthful message, it’s also a clear plea for much needed apology for increasingly considering the truth optional. Hoaxes are a big part of a business plan driven by the belief that big traffic absolves all sins, that success is a primary virtue. Consequently, the web sites and blogs drawing the largest numbers are deemed virtuous.
Let me quote a couple of salient passages: This, he says, is how online sites operate: "Give me the viral pictures, and I’ll give you the truth. And then, after an appropriate waiting period, I’ll give you the other truth, and capitalize on that traffic too.” 
It’s almost a callback to William Randolph Hearst’s infamous declaration on the eve of the Spanish-American War, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” Further: "We’re barely even apologizing for increasingly considering the truth optional. Any print or online publication that merits your attention will struggle to produce verified, edited prose, factually sound and as clear as an editor can make it with the tools and time available. It will acknowledge and correct errors. It will be skeptical. It will attempt to look before it leaps. It will value editing, because editing is one of the means by which a publication attempts not to waste your time. 

Fallacious arguments “can” arrive at true conclusions if you allow them to run in circles long enough. - an informal fallacy of relevance. The host of issues dependent on fallacy will in time become relevant if presented from the receptor’s preferred position; ‘right let’s try it from another perspective’. G.K. Chesterton said that bigotry is “an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition”, so it becomes simply a matter of time; make it proposition more palatable than the previous one.


Enable with patience

Written and consolidated by: Sven Ljungholm


Anonymous said...

I look forward with interest to reading the rest of this series.

Active UKT

Anonymous said...

I will follow this series with interest.


Anonymous said...

Is there a way the TC could be made aware of this series following some of the discussions that were shared at Officers Councils last October.

Active UK

Timothy McPherson said...

I appreciate this frank and honest discussion and look forward to the rest of the series. I agree that there must be some sort of dialogue with the entire Salvation Army body to discuss this. I come from the more liberal viewpoint of wanting to include LGBT into our ranks as soldiers and officers. To read this is a breath of fresh air because you are honestly trying to create a viable dialogue.

Timothy McPherson, Captain
Corps Officer
Ludington, MI USA

Anonymous said...


What you've written so far is very good and I too look forward to reading the rest.

Your readers should also know that the Red Kettle effort in the U.S. this year is down by over 11 million dollars nationally for the first time ever. (almost 148 million USD last year down to 135.9 million this year.)There's been a gay boycott for several years but the kettle amount kept going up in spite of it until now.

If one checks on-line the rhetoric of hatred toward TSA has radically increased over the last two years and particularly in response to the PR Major's comment in Southern Australia back in June of 2011(?). Word has gotten out and exponentially it has snowballed into something like an avalanche of bad publicity for the Army with each passing month.

Unfortunately, the Major was too dense to realize that he was being set up by an astute though biblically ignorant herself radio host---and he was apparently also too dense to know how to respond!

It is NOT going to get any better either, as millions of people worldwide now think that everyone in TSA believes all gays should be put to death, including the straight membered families, friends and allies of gay people. This untruth will probably continue to haunt TSA for decades to come, thanks to the internet.

Of course some officers are blaming a shorter Xmas season this past year but 4 or so less shopping days could hardly be the cause of such a large shortfall in contributions.

The leadership of TSA needs to take action and very soon on a new policy and statement concerning gays or the future could be very bleak indeed.

I love TSA but worry about its fundamentalist element taking over the complete reins of it, much as the fundies have done in the Southern Baptist Convention, to the dismay of many former Southern Baptists.

No one is proposing that TSA turn into a Unitarian Church, forsaking its doctrines or its taboos for soldiership (e.g. prohibitions on smoking and alcohol) as those taboos can always be looked upon as part of the discipline for joining a religious order---and they are very good taboos indeed. But it
IS time for TSA to graduate into the 21st Century when it comes to both science and understanding that to believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament being the Divine Rule of Xian Faith and practice does not mean what fundamentalists mistakenly think it means!

If the leadership of TSA does hand the reins of the Army over to its fundamentalists entirely, besides maligning gays under the guise of Xian love, they might as well also make a unified statement about the world being made in 6 24 hour days, complete the process and let the chips fall where they may!

Daryl Lach
USA Central

"You Must Go Home By the Way of the Cross, To Stand With Jesus in the Morning!"

Anonymous said...

The article says 'Homosexuality is one of the most divisive issues within churches'. If TSA changes its positional statement on LGBT issues, do you honestly think there will be no more division? Can't see it myself.

Anonymous said...

This article reads like a manifesto for a totalitarian coup.

Anonymous said...

I find that it's a good thing to have a frank and open discussion of the LGBT issue.


I can't help but to snicker a bit when reading comments from visitors after posting just Part 1 of a yet undetermined number of subsequent articles in this series… Sounds much like: “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

Here's a guarantee - where this series will take us is for now, as far as east is from west with reference to your assumptions and announcements - with respect.

Kjell Edlund said...

Such thrilling experience... :-)
I'm sure the rest will be as interesting as it has developed so far...

Iva L. Samples, Former, USA South said...

For several years now, I have followed the different blog series of articles here on different subjects. The LGBT discussion is one of those I have followed. We all know the scripture verses quoted and commented on by loving concerned Christians. One of the things that makes this discussion interesting is those who will contribute will base comments and opinions on beliefs which all come from the same wonderful Book, the Bible.

This year, the discussion will likely be a bit different, and perhaps one of the most important of those in the past because of the Supreme Court of the U.S. ruling that Same sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states here in America.
For many that decision was the worst decision the SCOTUS ever reached, for many others that decision was the most wonderful decision the SCOTUS has ever reached.

For me it was the latter. I am Christian, married, and gay. I do not have an agenda, and I do not live a "gay lifestyle". I live my "life", as do you, with family, friends, my faith; in honesty, truth, commitment, and strive to live with the Love of Christ that surpasses all understanding.

My prayer is this discussion can be honest, loving and respectful. We may not agree on some things, we may not agree on anything, but as Christians, we all belong to the Family of God. I pray when all is expressed, and written, there is still respect and Christian love shown.