A few days ago, on May 17, Democrats in the House of Representatives passed what they call The Equality Act of 2019, which is breathtaking in its scope. If it survives a vote in the Senate, this legislation will represent one of the most egregious assaults on religious liberty ever foisted on the people of this great nation. It therein imposes a thinly veiled death-sentence to the First Amendment to the Constitution and takes away the protections against tyranny handed down to us by our Founding Fathers. It was this unyielding commitment to religious liberty that led to American Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783. The pastors and the patriots of that day died to free themselves from British imperialism. Thank God for the men who stood courageously against the most powerful military in the world, because freedom meant more to them than their own lives.
Let me speak candidly and passionately to people of faith throughout these United States of America. We must not remain silent as our historic liberties are gutted by Democrats and their friends in the LGBT movement. They will enslave us if they prevail. We must let our voices be heard, first in the U.S Senate, and then to the world.
Viva liberty. Viva the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Viva biblical values and beliefs. And woe to those who would try to take them from us.
There is a staggering lack of Biblically-based knowledge and impact in America’s public square. Secularism, Christianity’s chief competitor, thrives solely in the absence of morality, and Christians have handed over the culture and its mountains of influence to those in rebellion against God. Any casual observer will recognize that secularism’s dominance of academia, newsrooms, sports, the Courts, big business, Hollywood, and medicine isa direct result of Christians ‘not doing politics’. It would seem that modern Christianity is ‘not doing education’ either, given that the secular worldview now is being spoon-fed to 85% of America’s youth. Until Christians step into the public square, reestablishing a Biblically-based culture, the ‘sexualization’ and secularization of youth, allied and abetted by Hollywood and media cliques, will continue to bring the nation to ruin.
Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons clamor for a Bible-based culture. In their minds, the Bible is the moral and ethical standard by which all of us should live. If only the United States were governed by the dictates of the Bible, all would be well. Several years ago, a local Fundamentalist Christian wrote a letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News (behind a paywall) extolling the wonderfulness of living in a country governed by the Bible. He went on to say that no one should fear Bible-based rule. “Christians,” he said, “only want what’s best for everyone.” Sadly, there are a lot of naive believers who think just like this man; that Christians only want love, joy, peace, and ice cream for everyone. However, history tells us differently; that when church and state are one, blood is shed, people die, and freedoms are lost. And make no mistake about it, theocracy is the goal. Christian apologists might hide their theocratic beliefs with flowery words and philosophical verbiage, but the naked truth is that, in their minds, there is one Lord, lawgiver, ruler, king, and potentate, and his name if Jesus. There is one perfect and infallible law book — the Bible. Knowing these things to be true, perhaps we should ponder what a Bible-based culture would look like?
One need only look at the frontal assault on abortion and Roe v. Wade to see what a Bible-based culture might look like. Anti-abortionists, using an incremental approach, have been chipping away at abortion rights for decades. Their efforts have reached the point of critical mass, and now abortion is effectively and totally banned in numerous states. These bans, of course, are meant to be a vehicle by which to relitigate Roe v. Wade. Now that President Trump has put two conservative pro-life judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, it is likely that the Court will, when given the opportunity, overturn Roe v Wade. This will, then, return the regulation of abortion to the states, and when that happens, many state legislatures will quickly move to ban and criminalize abortion — including abortions in the case of rape and incest. This will not be the end of the matter either. Emboldened by their win, Fundamentalist Christians will demand that birth control be outlawed and public-school students be taught Bible-based abstinence-only sex education. These zealots will also tirelessly work to enact laws that give fertilized eggs constitutional rights — demanding personhood for zygotes. The culmination of their efforts will come when doctors, following the dictates of their conscience, are prosecuted for performing abortions and mothers are arrested and imprisoned for “murdering” their unborn “children.”
Several years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. The same people who tirelessly worked to ban abortion are the same people who strived to criminalize homosexuality and deny LGBTQ people the same constitutional rights afforded to heterosexual Americans. Don’t think for a moment that these people are sitting at home licking their wounds as they watch lesbian porn. Convinced of the rightness of their beliefs and interpretations of the Bible, these Fundamentalist Christians are plotting to force gays back into closets and recriminalize sodomy and other “perverse” sexual behaviors. Now that the makeup of the Supreme Court skews to the right, I have no doubt that these zealots will do their best to afford the Court another bite at the same-sex-marriage apple. Believing that the Bible condemns homosexuality, theocrats demand and work towards a Bible-based culture where the Good Book®, and not personal morality and preferences, determines who may fuck whom when, where, and how. Failing to fuck according to God’s Holy Word would lead to arrest and imprisonment. And if these theocrats are consistent, they will demand that “sodomites” be executed for their crimes against humanity. This, dear readers, is what a Bible-based culture looks like.
In a Bible-based culture, other sexual “sins” such as adultery and fornication would also be banned. In fact, in the Old Testament alone, there are 613 laws. Of course, no Christian has ever kept all of God’s laws. Most Christians, including those clamoring for a theocracy, regularly and with impunity ignore God-given laws. Can anyone say, HYPOCRITES?! That said, even limiting a Bible-based culture to the Ten Commandments, is dangerous. In both versions of the Decalogue — yes there are two versions and they differ from one another — the Christian God demands total and absolute fealty and worship. According to numerous Bible stories, worshipping other gods was considered a capital crime punishable by death. I am quite sure that if Fundamentalist Christians ever gain the power of the state, the first people rounded up and sent to Franklin Graham Reeducation Camps will be atheists and Muslims. Fundamentalist Christians have a deep-seated hatred for the godless and worshippers of Allah. It chaps their testicles that we roam free on the Internet and in public. Every time the Freedom From Religion Foundation successfully litigates a church-state issue, their email inbox is filled with hate mail from offended followers of Jesus. Imagine these same people having the power of the state at their disposal. In a Bible-based culture, there’s no freedom of/from religion. There’s one God — Jesus — one religion — Christianity — and one lawbook — the Bible.
The next time you hear the cacophony of Fundamentalist Christians demanding the United States adopt a Bible-based standard of behavior, ask them exactly what they mean. Peruse the list of Actions Prohibited by the Bible on RationalWiki, and then ask them if their Bible-based culture would include some or all of the listed prohibitions. I think you’ll find that few zealots really want to live by all of the laws found in the Bible. Damn, talk about a miserable life! No, most theocrats just want to legislate and criminalize the big stuff. What they want, most of all, is a return to the 1940s and 1950s — a time when women were submissive keepers of their homes, people of color knew their place, LGBTQ people were not seen or heard, and the only fucking going on was that between monogamous heterosexual married couples. They want a culture where everyone goes to church, loves Jesus, and school children read the Bible and pray every day. In other words, Christian Fundamentalists want to roll back a hundred years of social progress. Never mind that their vision of a Mayberry-like world exists only in their Bible-sotted minds. Does anyone really believe Andy wasn’t fucking Helen and Gomer wasn’t smoking weed in the gas station bathroom?
The other day, I wrote a post detailing why Evangelicalism is dying. Let me be clear, Evangelicalism IS, most certainly, dying, but it has stage-one, not stage-four, cancer. One need only watch the machinations of Evangelical culture warriors to see that they have no intentions of going quietly into the night. There are times when I tip my cap to Christian Fundamentalists. They know what they are fighting for and are willing to metaphorically and, at times, literally kill everyone who gets in the way of their goal of establishing God’s kingdom on earth. Far too often, liberal and progressives are way too nice and polite. We can learn something from the tactics of Christian zealots: that social progress will only be achieved by stomping the beliefs and demands of theocrats into the ground. Until we understand that we are in a battle for the soul and future of American secularism, we will continue to have our asses handed to us by those demanding King Jesus rule over us all. Way too many secularists, religious or not, sit on the sidelines shooting the breeze while Christian Fundamentalists, in White Walker fashion, wage war against our Republic.
If we don’t wage holy war against theocrats, who will? Passivity is deadly, and if we refuse to fight, we have no one to blame but ourselves when President Billy-the-Baptist and a Christian Congress demand Americans everywhere bow and worship the one true lawgiver, Jesus.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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‘History’ Stephen said, ‘is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.’
That is one of Jonathan’s favorite quotes. Knowing what I’ve come to know about him, it’s not difficult to understand why: the history from which Stephen is trying to awake in James Joyce’s Ulysses is the same history in which Jonathan (not his real name) came to be. To some extent, it is also my history.
Jonathan is a co-worker of mine, and we have been working on a project. That is how I have come to know a bit about him, and he’s come to know a few things about me. It shouldn’t have surprised either of us to find parallels in our backgrounds.
We both grew up in communities where nearly everyone went to mass in the same Catholic parish. My education was remarkably similar to his, though I received mine in a Catholic school across the street from the church and his took place in a “public” school. Most of my teachers were Dominican sisters. I got a heavy dose of religious instruction and was brought, with my schoolmates, to confession every Friday in the church. We now chuckle about standing on line at the confessional and thinking about what sins we would confess — at age eight.
As an altar boy, I served in the First Holy Communion mass for one of my schoolmates. A couple of weeks later, I served at the funeral of her older brother who was killed in Vietnam. I also served at my brother’s confirmation and, a few days later, the wedding of an older sister of a boy who was confirmed with my brother. I always felt that much in the lives of our community centered on the church.
I would later learn that there are many such communities all over the United States. The churches at their cores might be Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist or some other denomination. They nonetheless dominate the social as well as spiritual lives of those hamlets, villages, towns and urban enclaves in much the same way my former Catholic church cast its net around my old neighborhood.
Even so, those communities, numerous as they are, could never compare to what Jonathan lived in. It’s something that, even with my background, I have difficulty imagining: a whole country in which everyone belongs to, if not the same parish, then at least the same church. “In Ireland, you didn’t just go to church,” he explains. “You were always in the church, wherever you went, whatever you did.”
Jonathan grew up in Ireland during the 1980s and early ‘90s: two decades or, if you prefer, a generation, after my upbringing. At that time, the Catholic Church was still the de facto government, education system and provider of social services. “There really wasn’t any secular education in Ireland at that time,” he observes. Even most “public” schools, like the one he attended, were run, in fact or in essence, by the church. He got an hour a day of religious (indoctrination) instruction, as I did. That teaching was compulsory in all Irish schools of the time, he says. On the other hand, had my parents enrolled me in the public school of our urban American neighborhood, religious education would not have been part of my curriculum.
Another striking similarity between my education and his is that, while instruction in most subjects was rigorous, it included nothing about our bodies—or, of course, evolution. Had I attended public school, I might have learned something about Darwin’s ideas though, to be fair, given the times, I might not have had anything resembling sex education. In contrast, there was really no way Jonathan, in his country, in his time, could have learned anything about the way humans or other animals evolve, reproduce or take care of themselves.
Jonathan left Ireland in the mid-90s, just before it experienced its first (and perhaps only) economic boom — and the church started to lose its grip. He’s been back a few times, mainly to visit family and friends, but has no regrets about leaving, he says. For one thing, he pursued graduate studies and a career that would have been all but unavailable in the Ireland of his youth. Oh — and he met and married a beautiful biracial woman.
Also, he says, even though many of Ireland’s young today find the Church, and religion generally, “irrelevant,” there is still a “residue of religiosity,” mainly among older people and in the countryside. That is one reason, he says, the country was “convulsed” by the sex abuse scandals in ways that people in other European countries or the US can barely imagine. While the young don’t attend church and many don’t believe, the Church still runs schools like the one Jonathan attended. And hospitals. And orphanages. And many other organizations and institutions on which people depend for finding employment and housing, getting healthcare and other things most people consider part of living.
The church had an even tighter grip on Ireland during Jonathan’s youth, not to mention in earlier times. In few other countries was Catholicism as much a part of a person’s identity as it was in Ireland until a generation or so ago. One reason the Church was able to take such a hold of the populace is that, for centuries, their British occupiers tried to obliterate all signs of native culture. Speaking, let alone teaching, Gaelic became illegal. As in Poland during the Cold War and earlier occupations, the Church was the only organized opposition to oppression, mainly because it was the only opposition that had help from outside the country: Priests could go to France, Spain or Germany for their training. Thus, for the people, their religion became a bulwark against a foreign power that sought to subsume their identities. That, from what I’ve read — and what Jonathan has told me — is the reason the Irish held so fiercely to a religion that did as much to oppress them as any occupying army.
If a hierarchical structure like the church can use its representatives’ putative relationship with God to exploit those who are younger, weaker, poorer or in any other way more vulnerable than themselves in a country like the United States, the horrors they could inflict on poor Irish people are unimaginable to most of us. Even the most devout or impoverished American Catholics have never depended on the church for their identity or even sustenance in the way an everyday Catholic in Ireland did just a generation ago, i.e., in Jonathan’s time.
The “residue” of which Jonathan speaks was left by that captivity. Let’s call it what it is: slavery. Just as African-Americans still must extricate themselves from the detritus of their ancestors’ bondage, the Irish today are still living with the debris of the Church (and colonialism). And, although the young have made great strides (for example, four years ago Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote, largely because of the young), they are still awakening to the nightmare of their history: their parents’ and grandparents’ oppression by the church.
Waking from a nightmare is difficult. It is not — contrary to how it may seem — the waking itself that’s difficult. Rather, it’s the nightmare that causes difficulty because it terrifies and tires us. At least the nightmare can end if we wake up.
And so it is with the church sex-abuse scandals, in Ireland and elsewhere. People see it as a tragedy or scandal when it comes to light. But the real tragedy, the real scandal, as Jonathan points out, is that the sex abuse went on, in the Magdalene orphanages, in the monasteries, in the schools and, of course, in the parishes, for centuries—during Jonathan’s lifetime, my lifetime, his parents’ and grandparents’ lifetimes, their grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ lifetimes, and during the lifetimes of their forebears. They lived the nightmare; we have lived it; now we are waking from it. Jonathan knew he had no other choice. Nor do I.
Sexuality in Western culture is a mess. Within the last hundred years or so, we’ve devolved from a society that had, broadly speaking, a general understanding of, and compliance with, the Bible’s parameters for sex to today’s sexual mores that barely stop short of child molestation and bestiality, and permits – even encourages – nearly every other form of perversion.
It can be difficult to know how to approach these issues which have been suddenly thrust upon us, and with which the average person – Christian or not – has very little experience. How are Christians to think about, believe, and address these issues in our families, churches, and communities? Do we just go with the “live and let live” flow of modern society? No. As with every other issue in life, our thinking, our words, and our actions must be shaped by and in submission to the authority of Scripture. Not public opinion. Not political agendas. Not our own personal feelings, opinions, and experiences. Scripture.
The Bible makes sexuality and gender identity very simple for us. God created two sexes of people– male and female¹. God created marriage to be between one man and one woman. God created human sexuality and confined its use to a man and a woman who are married to each other. Every form of gender identity or human sexuality that falls outside these parameters is sin.
Christians should not attend same sex weddings (or receptions, showers, bachelor parties, housewarmings, etc.) for any reason. (When it becomes legal, this will also apply to plural marriages and other unbiblical forms of “marriage”.) Regardless of your motives for attending, it appears to others and to the same sex couple as though you approve of their sin.
Often, the reason Christians will give for feeling they should attend a same sex wedding is that they are afraid declining to attend will cause the couple to cut off the relationship with them, closing the door to any future opportunity to share the gospel. But if you’re close enough to the couple to be invited to the wedding, shouldn’t you have already shared the gospel with them? Do you not trust that God can save someone, either immediately or in the future, from one instance of sharing the gospel? This person’s salvation does not rest on your shoulders. It can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit, and only in His timing. And whether you have or haven’t yet shared the gospel with the couple, what could your attendance at the wedding accomplish other than creating confusion? How can you support their “marriage” by attending the wedding and then turn around later and tell them they need to repent of this sin?
Additionally, attending the wedding sends the message to your children, family, church, friends, co-workers and others that you approve of the sin of homosexuality. We all have people watching us to see whether we stand with Christ or with the world. It’s imperative that we set a godly example.
Yes, if you decline to attend the wedding, you might lose your relationship with that homosexual friend or loved one. But Christ calls us to separate ourselves from the world and be loyal to Him even if it costs us everything — including those we love the most.
Warning! This post contains snark and cursing. You have been warned. Now ignore this warning and enjoy!
This post could also be titled, Why Pastor Shane Idleman Hates LBGTQ People but Loves Shrimp and Pork Chops.
Evangelicals are fond of saying that they are Bible-believers; that they believe every word of the Protestant Bible is true, straight from the mouth of God. Shane Idleman, pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Leona Valley, California, is one such Evangelical. According to Idleman, the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. As a sold-out, on-fire, sanctified follower of Jesus, Idleman purports to believe and practice all the teachings of the Bible. However, much like ALL Evangelicals, Idleman is a hypocrite, choosing instead to select some verses to believe, while ignoring others. Evangelicals are what I call Buffet Christians®. Buffets offer all sort of food, giving diners an opportunity to eat foods they like and skip those they don’t like. So it is with Idleman and Company. There are hundreds and hundreds of commands, teachings, laws, and precepts in the Bible. I actually set out one time to write down all the commands found in the Bible. I developed paralysis in my left hand from writing, so much so that I had to stop. This exercise taught me that the commands of God can wear a person out, especially if you take each of them literally and diligently attempt to live your life according to what they say.
Recently, Idleman wrote a post for Charisma News titled 10 Things You Need to Know About the LGBT Agenda. Idleman, as most Evangelical pastors are wont, has an obsession with human sexuality — especially unmarried/LGBTQ people. Idleman has frequent compulsive urges to write and preach about sex, so much so that it makes me wonder about what is hiding in the deepest, darkest corners of his closet. Idleman has convinced himself, along with his disciples, that preaching at/against LGBTQ people is an act of LOVE. That’s right, LOVE! Much like child molesters who convince their victims that being sexually violated is an act of love, Idleman has convinced himself that verbally attacking gays is his way of showing them how much he loves them. Imagine for a moment a husband who beats his wife every day, and when he is finished with his physical assault he smiles and says, Honey, I love you. Absurd, right? So it is when Idleman harangues LGBTQ people. When called out on his hateful speech, Idleman is puzzled. Referencing a recent speaking engagement at a local community college that was protested by gay activists, Idleman wrote “My wife and I were perplexed—when did a message of love become a message of hate? We love the LGBT community….”
In Idleman’s aforementioned post, he lists ten things everyone should know about the LGBTQ agenda. None of his ten things, by the way, mentions civil rights and equal protection under the law, except to deny that such arguments are valid. Idleman’s “loving” solution for same-sex attraction is, in this order: Jesus, non-sexual singleness, or heterosexual marriage. Why? Because the B-I-B-L-E — yes, that’s the book for me — says so. Idleman writes:
3. The Creator made His plan obvious. Jesus said that since the beginning of creation, God created them male and female in order that they would be joined together and become one flesh—to be fruitful and to multiply. He adds, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). Males and females were created purposely and are complementary by design.
5. There is no scriptural support for homosexuality. Some argue, “The Bible is not an ethical textbook—culture changes and so does truth.” Not so. Not one moral law that God gave is obsolete, from adultery to fornication to homosexuality. Things that were harmful then are harmful now. They are never painted in a positive light. They caused deep pain then as they do now. Some have even suggested that Naomi and Ruth and Jonathan and David had same-sex relationships. This gives the phrase “grasping for the wind” new meaning. This is exegesis in its purest form—reading things into the text that are not there.
Some parents change their view when they find their son or daughter in an LGBT lifestyle; confused, they “accept” the lifestyle, but feelings are not a gauge for truth. Instead, offer hope and remind them that we all struggle with something. If a child sins in the area of anger, infidelity or addiction, we don’t change the Scriptures to fit their behavior; we offer hope in the midst of the struggle. Why should homosexuality or transgenderism be any different? No matter how many laws are passed in favor of gay marriage, it will not change God’s mind. Times change; truth does not.
6. The Bible is crystal-clear on the issue of sexual sin. As a famous teacher once said of the Bible, “If the plain sense makes good sense seek no other sense lest it result in nonsense.” I cringe every time I hear misguided statements in an attempt to support homosexuality, such as misinterpreting “abandoning natural relations” in Romans 1:26-28. Or that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was only neglecting the poor. Or that Corinthians is outdated and Leviticus is talking about rape. Indeed, neglecting the poor is/was a sin, but it was not the only sin. In addition to rampant homosexuality, they were drunkards, gluttons, covetous, profane and wicked. The context of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction was much more than neglecting the poor: “they were haughty and committed abominations.” (See Ezekiel 16 and Jude 1:5-8.) Additionally, early church fathers, as well as creeds and confessions and Reformers, all echoed the same truth.
Idleman appeals to the Bible (and history) as his final authority. God has spoken, now shut the hell up and get back to having Evangelical-approved, missionary-position, married heterosexual intercourse that hopefully brings a lot of new potential Christians into the world. According to Idleman’s bio:
Today, as we continually drift away in a current of moral decline and relativism, many believe that the battle is too advanced and that we cannot make a difference. Shane, however, believes that we can, and offers his books as contributions to that commitment. He stresses: “If we encourage truth, yet fail to relate to our culture, the church can seem formal and dead. This fact fuels the postmodern movement. But when truth is sacrificed for the sake of relating to the culture, as we see today, the very foundation is destroyed. Truth, the foundational beliefs clearly outlined in Scripture, must remain unmoved and unchanged. Times change, but truth does not!” (emphasis mine)
The “foundational beliefs clearly outlined in Scripture, must remain unmoved and unchanged. Times change, but truth does not!” Sounds like Idleman is a committed, true-blue, one hundred percent Jesus-all-the-time Bible believer. Yet, right after saying the unalterable, eternal, unchanging Bible condemns adultery/fornication/homosexuality, Idleman writes:
7. God can advise against eating shellfish as well as homosexuality. Although the dietary laws of the Old Testament do not apply today, they are still beneficial. For example, we now know why things like pork and shellfish were forbidden—they are unhealthy. God’s wisdom is sound and purposeful in guiding relationships as well.
Idleman says the dietary laws found in the Bible DO NOT APPLY TODAY! Shades of outrage, man! Is Idleman saying that some parts of the Bible are no longer applicable (binding, in force)? I thought the big man upstairs said, I am the Lord Thy God and I change not. I thought the Bible said of Jesus — who is also the big man upstairs (figure that one out) — that he was the SAMEyesterday, today, and forever. I thought Jesus said in Matthew 5:17,18:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Have the heavens and earth passed away? Has Jesus returned to earth and made a new heaven and earth? No! So this means that God’s law — all of it — is still valid and in force. This means that Pastor Shane Idleman, along with all of his Evangelical colleagues, are double-minded hypocrites. And we all know what the Bible says about double-mindedness: A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8)
Shane Idleman despises LGBTQ people, despite saying otherwise. His behavior tells the truth about the man. Idleman is preoccupied with who does it with whom, when, where, why, and how. This makes me wonder if Idleman is afflicted with a malady commonly found among the species Evangelicus preacherus homoerectcus — sex addiction. Evangelical men, taught that women are Jezebel’s out to fuck them, are known for being unable to withstand even the slightest bit of exposure to female flesh. Let a woman’s cleavage, legs, or erect nipples show, and Evangelical men are reduced to dogs running wild, sniffing for bitches in heat. These poor weak and helpless men, already aroused by worldly slutty women, can’t even surf the world-wide web without being accosted by scantily (boner-producing) clad women.
Instead of owning their sexuality and acting like normal, healthy humans, Evangelical men such as the good pastor, condemn, attack, and rail against those who “cause” them to lust. Perhaps Idleman should practice — in totality — the teachings of Jesus; you know the verified words of the son of God found in red in the Bible. Jesus told his lustful followers how to cure their horniness:
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:8,9)
Have a problem with lust? Pluck out your eye. Still have a problem with lust? Pluck out your other eye. Have a problem with masturbation? Cut off your hand. Have a problem typing youporn.com (I did not make this a link lest any of the Idlemans of the world reading this post be tempted to click, look, and masturbate) into your internet browser? Cut off your other hand. Why not take Jesus’ words to their logical conclusion? Have a problem with anything related to sex? Cut off your penis. Still have lustful thoughts? Get a lobotomy. How far are you willing to go to show your loving devotion and commitment to Jesus?
Idleman hates the very idea of LGBTQ people having sex because the very idea of man-on-man sex disgusts him. Many gay haters loathe the very thought of two men doing it (though far fewer of them have the same loathing for woman-on-woman sex). Other gay haters preach against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the LGBTQ agenda, because, — deep down in their heart-of-hearts where the Holy Spirit supposedly lives — they have gay inclinations — à la Ted Haggard. Instead of admitting and acting upon their same-sex/bisexual attractions, Evangelical men of God holler and scream, hoping to use their sermons and blog posts as distractions from the real issue — their unBiblical sexuality
I have no idea what Shane Idleman is or isn’t sexually. I do know, however, that he is a buffet Christian, choosing what Bible verses to believe and not believe. Another word for this behavior is hypocrite. If Idleman can pick and choose which verses to believe, why can’t the rest of us?
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (The Apostle Paul to the Church at Corinth, I Corinthians 5:1-5)
Earlier this year, Evangelical Kim Higginbotham, a member of the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, Tennessee, wrote a blog post detailing her decision to give her wayward, sinful, Jesus-hating son over to the devil. Higginbotham wrote:
It has been said that in marriage, the pain and stress of divorce is greater than even the pain of losing a spouse to death. I believe the same can be said of breaking ties with your child. Unless one has experienced this kind of loss and grief, they cannot fully understand the depth of pain experienced by a parent.
Someone may ask, “Why would anyone break ties with her own child?” The answer is, “loyalty to Jesus.” Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children (Matthew 10:37).
I pray that you never have to make such a sacrifice, but I also pray that you love the Lord enough to choose Him over your children. This is where we find ourselves. This is our life. Our oldest son has turned his back on the Lord, and in spite of all our attempts, he refuses to repent. Consequently, our relationship has changed. It cannot remain the same and be loyal to Jesus (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Our contact with our son is now limited to attempts at restoration. We have no fellowship. We used to share holidays, regular phone calls and texts, family events, etc. but now, all that is gone. Our son has completely turned his back on everything he ever believed. He has no respect for the Lord or His church. He has chosen a life of sin rather than the hope of salvation. And because of his rebellion against God, we as parents must make a choice. Do we overlook his practice of sin and maintain our relationship, or do we withdraw ourselves from him as the Lord instructs?
I believe that the blood of Christ is more important that the physical flesh and blood that I share with my son. Unfortunately, my husband and I know the pain of “giving our child to the Devil.” Those words are sharp, shocking and grim, just as Paul intended them to be when he wrote them (1 Corinthians 5:5). Perhaps I am writing this is for myself more than for those who are reading. I have not seen my son in nearly two and a half years now and there are days that the pain is just as fresh as ever. Until now, I have kept this pain inside and shared with only a couple of my closest friends. I am not sure that a day has gone by that I have not shed tears. Sometimes it is a single tear and other days are gut wrenching cries of despair. I have pulled into my driveway with tears blinding my eyes, only to find myself literally screaming and wailing in grief. I’m devastated by our loss; his loss.
I feel desperation and hopelessness. I’m scared. What probably began as harmless flirtation with sin has now become a quicksand that pulls my son deeper and deeper toward Hell. Sometimes I feel jealous of other parents who have close, loving relationships with all their grown children. I feel embarrassed by what my son has done.
The fact is, I don’t know this person that I once thought I knew so well. Was I blind to things that I should have seen? I believed our relationship was so close. I adored this child. Was the love our son expressed to us all a lie? How does one go from being a respectful obedient child to flagrantly disregarding everything we taught him and everything that we stand for?
Mother’s day and Father’s day are so hard. While we used to receive the most precious cards and notes of love and appreciation, now any correspondence from him are filled with anger, blame, hateful words. Even worse are the sarcastic and blasphemous words used toward his heavenly Father.
Self evaluation, guilt, despair, fear….I have felt all these emotions. Who is a perfect parent? Who doesn’t have something that they would change if they could go back. Even so, I know that we were good parents. We loved our son, spent time with him, encouraged him, and taught him God’s word.
I don’t know what the future holds for our son or our family. What I do know is that God is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He will do what is right (Genesis 18:25). He will reward those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). More than I could have ever understood before, I long for the promises of heaven, namely that God will wipe away every tear…there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).
Heaven will be a place of great reunion with those who have gone on before. There is an old hymn that invites everyone to “come to the feast”. I just wish we didn’t have an empty chair at our table.
More than a few readers of this blog know the pain of having a child choose a path that is harmful to them. Higginbotham refuses to name her son’s sin, saying that the particulars don’t matter; that she would have turned her son over to Satan regardless of the sin. I know she wants to desperately convince herself (and others) that she is an equal opportunity banishment parent, but the “feel” of her article suggests to me that her son’s “sin” is sexual in nature — perhaps he is an out-of-the closet homosexual. (My “feel” was correct. According to Tim Rymel, Higginbotham wrote her diatribe on the day of her gay’s son’s wedding.) Regardless of the specifics, whatever the sin, it was worthy of her son being cast of out the family. Of course, Higginbotham puts the blame squarely on her son. He’s the one who sinned. He’s the one who chose to live a life contrary to Higginbotham’s interpretation of a bronze age religious text — the inspired, inerrant, infallible Christian Bible. He’s the one who loved the wrong person. He’s the one who married the wrong person. IT IS ALL HIS FAULT! screams Karen Higginbotham.
Higginbotham’s post is a sad reminder of the fact that many Christians, when forced to choose, will choose Jesus over their family. Zealots willing to abandon family members over slights to their beliefs find justification for their anti-human behavior in the Bible:
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-37)
My oldest son went through a divorce a year ago. While the reasons for his divorce are many and his alone to tell, one reason I can share is that his ex-wife loved Jesus more than she loved her husband. If forced to choose between her husband and Jesus, the big-hunka-love Jesus wins hands down. A lot of Christians think similarly. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. He is the one true God, the savior of the world. He is, metaphorically speaking, better in bed than any flesh and blood person could ever be. Jesus is the perfect boyfriend, husband, and friend. No one can measure up to Jesus. Thus, when the Karen Higginbothams of the world find their love for Jesus challenged by maternal instinct and familial connection, they cast aside Satan’s temptation and run into the safe embrace of the man with all the moves, Jesus, the Christ.
Sharon Hambrick, a Christian woman who blogs at Sharon’s View, had this to say about Higginbotham’s banishment of her gay son:
Recently I became aware of a Christian mother who is bemoaning the loss of her son to the quicksand of sin that is taking him inexorably to Hell. Turns out he’s gay and Mom cannot even deal. In fact, she used the occasion of his supergay wedding to release a blog post in which she details her agony. You see, son’s gayness means she can never ever see him again. Because Jesus.
Jesus says (apparently) if your kid goes all gay on you, you have to yell at him all the time, or at the very least litter the house with “Gay Blade” Chick tracts when he comes over. Which he doesn’t. Because Chick tracts are gross and porny.
“I pray,” this mom says to her readers, “that you never have to make such a sacrifice, but I also pray that you love the Lord enough to choose Him over your children. This is where we find ourselves. This is our life.”
It’s their life not to be pleasant to this adult man who happens to be gay. No, they must lob Gospel bombs at him. Also, crying a lot is required. All the time and everywhere, but most especially it’s necessary to publish a hate-piece about his gayness on his wedding day. Awkward!
Speaking of choosing your children over Jesus, what does that even mean? Does that mean we won’t hang with our kids if they take to drinking? Or will we turn our backs if they are preggers-sans-marriage? What if they embezzle? What if they speed? Of course not, you judgy thing you! Not just any sin will do. It’s just the creepy gay sins that break the ties that bind, amirite?
Cuz, seriously, gay sex is so gay, she can’t even.
“In spite of our all our attempts, he refuses to repent.” What this means is simply, “He won’t stop being gay, so we’ve washed our hands of him,” which allusion doesn’t pull up images of Pontius Pilate with her, no one knows why.
I wonder if this dear lady has read any of the literature. Any of the testimonies of tormented gay kids who strive with all their hearts to please God, who beg God to make them straight, toggle the hetero-switch, fix them. No one gets fixed. Gay people stay gay same as hetero people stay hetero and bi people stay bi. You is who you is, all your parents’ “attempts” (translate: screaming, hauling you to pastoral counseling, various invasive therapies) notwithstanding.
What Mom should do here, of course, is realize that her son is an adult, adult enough that one of the 50 states granted him and his husband a marriage license, and she should treat him like any other adult with whom she comes in contact: with civility and pleasantness. There’s no need to be super-duper-closies, but by the same token there’s no need to vomit your sobbing broken heart all over the internet on your son’s wedding day. Why not just send a card?
“We have no fellowship,” Mom continues. “Fellowship” is a churchy word that indicates hanging out. They used to hang out. Now they don’t. Cuz son is too gay for words. They don’t even text! He’s so gay she can’t even trade emojis with him!
“Now any correspondence from him are filled with anger, blame, hateful words. Even worse are the sarcastic and blasphemous words used toward his heavenly Father.” Aside from your syntax freaking me out (is correspondence plural?), I have an inkling of an idea why he might be angry. For starters, he was the perfect child—he sang harmony with you in the kitchen, for crying out loud—and you tossed him out for being who he is.
You’re the loser here, you realize that, right? You missed his wedding, and you’re going to miss his children, his successes, his hopes, his dreams. He would have participated in your family memories if you’d been kind, but you weren’t kind. You decided God didn’t want you to be kind. You decided Satan was at your beck and call to “take over” the life of the son you birthed out of your own body, and you made the call.
I mean, seriously. What kind of spiritual clout do you imagine you have: “Yo, Satan, my son is gay. Can you whack him around a little?” Seems Satan is a little too busy these days to deal with your son, or maybe he’s waiting til after the honeymoon. And anyway, why are Christian people talking to Satan? What is up with that?
“Self-evaluation, guilt, despair, fear . . . I know we were good parents. We loved our son, spent time with him, encouraged him, and taught him God’s word.” Yeah, sure, and good job, Mom! But this isn’t about you. I think we’ve covered that.
“I don’t know what the future holds for our son or our family.” Oh, but I do. He’s going to be fine, and you’re going to be fine, and what is keeping you from being fine together is your insistence on being separate, on being unwilling to talk, on hating his gayness so much that you refuse to see the sweet, caring son who adored you and sang harmony with you in the kitchen.
Your belief that God wants you never to see your son again unless he stops being gay (he won’t), is what keeps you from peeling those potatoes with him ever again. Keeps you from hearing that infectious laugh. Keeps you from making those memories.
The empty place at your table is there because you haven’t invited him to sit there, and frankly you don’t get to now. Unless you put out two chairs and say, “Come, both of you. We love you and want you in our lives.”
Many of us raised in Evangelical churches were told by our pastors that the family of God (the church) was more important than our flesh and blood families. We were told that our church families would stick by us through thick and thin, unlike our non-Christian family members who distanced themselves from us over our resolute, unwavering stand on the Word of God. Sinners are the problem, not us, we were told. Chosen by God, Christians are lights in darkness, voices that shout to the rooftops and mountains the good news — Jesus Saves! What former Evangelicals learned, however, was that their church family’s love was contingent on them believing the right things and living life a certain way. Break this pact, and your church family will divorce you quicker than it took uber-righteous Karen and Steven Higginbotham to throw their gay son into the gutter.
I walked away from Christianity almost nine years ago. In doing so, I lost most of the relationships I had with Christian friends, family members, and colleagues in the ministry. I quickly learned that the people who were going to be there for me no matter what were my wife, children, and a handful of dear friends. Sadly, in Higginbotham’s son’s case, not only did he lose his connection to the church of his youth, he also lost his relationship with his Christian family. In other words, he was thrown overboard, coming to rest on a barren, forsaken island. The good news is that instead accepting that this was how things had to be for him, Higginbotham’s son forged new relationships with people who love him just as he is. And that’s the key, isn’t it? Loving people as they are. Accepting differences. Learning that there are boundaries in relationships; one of which is that who has sex with whom, where, when, and how is not our business.
Karen Higginbotham has set her house on fire, and she blames her son for having to do so. If only he had met a nice Evangelical church girl and married her, all would be well. But, no, he is gay, so he is to blame for all the familial turmoil. Until Higginbotham realizes that she, not her son, is the arsonist, there is little that can be done to repair the parent-son relationship. Until Higginbotham is willing to admit that she is wrong, she will remain estranged from her son. Such an admission would mean her admitting that what Karns Church of Christ and her minister husband believe and teach is wrong. Rare is the Evangelical who is willing to admit that her beliefs are harmful. The Bible is what stands between Higginbotham and her son. If she truly loves her son, she will tell Jesus to return the Bible to the dusty back catalog shelves of the library. The Bible’s teachings on sexuality are out of date and out of touch with modern understandings of gender and sexuality. Gays are here to stay. Out of the closet, they have no intention of returning to a closet that is every bit as dark and void of love as Karen Higginbotham’s mind.
It’s up to Higginbotham to repair the broken relationship with her son. I hope she will do so. If not, it looks like Higginbotham’s son is willing to say goodbye to Mom and Dad, choosing to embrace and love those who have the capacity to love him for what he is, and not what they want him to be.
Higginbotham’s husband, Steve, is a preacher at the Karns Church of Christ. You can read his sermon on homosexuality here.
This is the twenty-first installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section. Let’s have some fun!
Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip from a sermon preached by Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona.
The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society — the media arm of the Jehovah’s Witnesses — recently released a video on their Becoming Jehovah’s Friend channel that is meant to educate children about Jehovah’s view of same-sex marriage. No surprise here. The God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses disproves of same-sex marriage. Enjoy!
The First Amendment guarantees our rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion. Yet, college campuses have implemented speech codes and created “safe spaces” to protect people from opinions they find disagreeable. Corporations have followed suit, as have governmental agencies. Increasingly, differences of opinion are labeled “hate speech,” thus ending reasonable debate.
Now the Indiana legislature, through Senate Bill 100, is on the verge of weaponizing this politically correct movement by giving protected-class status to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. People with differing worldviews can coexist as neighbors who care for one another. This, sadly, is not where the politicized LGBT movement is leading. Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla Firefox, was stripped of his position simply for supporting a traditional marriage amendment. Kelvin Cochran, an African-American fire chief, lost his job for writing a book on marriage. ESPN commentator Craig James was fired for expressing his views on traditional morality. Government agencies and corporate America have grown inhospitable to people of faith.
I believe in marriage equality, but I hold to the definition of marriage that has itself defined civilization. Every child has a reasonable right to a father and a mother.
Parents are equal but not interchangeable. Not every couple has a child, but every child has a biological mom and dad, and for that there is marriage. While some disagree, this position is based on reason and love.
Meanwhile, as our society moves from same-sex marriage to legalized polygamy, polyamory, temporary, open and even incestual marriage, we do well to encourage public discourse. Together, we need to ask, “What is marriage?”
Our opponents seem to think that marriage is a societal construct, something we can change as we please. But any type of marriage that purposefully deprives a child of a mom or dad is unjust.
SB 100 is called a compromise by offering certain protections for churches and religious institutions. There are two basic problems to this approach.
First, SB 100 turns our inalienable rights into privileges and exemptions. Second, rights belong not simply to groups, but to individuals. The free exercise of religion is more than the freedom of worship; it is the right of every single person to live according to his conscience.
While Scaer doesn’t directly mention the Bible (he is much too smart for that), make no mistake about it, it is, for Scaer and his fellow Missouri-Synod Lutherans, God’s infallible word that has the final say on human sexuality. The Lutheran Church-Missouri-Synod (LCMS) denomination officially espouses Evangelical beliefs such as creationism and Bible inerrancy. Missouri-Synod Lutherans vehemently reject homosexuality and same-sex marriage, considering both to be sinful rejections of God’s version of Masters’ and Johnson’s book on human sexuality (see LCMS position papers on human sexuality).
This post is designed to briefly show that Fundamentalism is not only the domain of Baptists and Evangelicals. Every Christian sect has a wing-nut division.
The supernatural monster who orchestrates the kidnapping, enslaving, and thousand-fold drugging, selling, raping, and killing of girls around the globe, is the same one who has masterminded the murderous cultural delusion — from the highest court to the lowest porn-flick — that the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly. John Piper, August 3, 2015
Charismatic Calvinist and Christian hedonist John Piper recently said Satan, a fictional being from the Christian Bible, is out to deceive and destroy the masses. But praise be to Jesus, we have John Piper, former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, watching out for us and ever ready to let us know what this fictional Satan is up to.
Like many fundamentalists, Piper is enraged over the recent U.S Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. What this decision has done is flush out the homophobes and bigots. Unable to contain their outrage, preachers such as Piper expose for all the world to see the hate that lies underneath their theological beliefs:
Lie: “. . . the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly.” Behind all the relational descriptions of so-called same-sex marriage is the unspoken fact of “anal or oral copulation,” and in particular, “copulation with a member of the same sex.” That’s the dictionary.com definition of sodomy.
Someone will say: Choosing that word signifies your belligerence toward people with same-sex attraction. No, it signifies my hatred for what can destroy people with same-sex attraction. What destroys people is not same-sex attraction, but the lie that same-sex copulation is delightful, and not deadly.
What is truly belligerent is the promotion of shameful acts as beautiful acts. Belligerent is the right word, because the Bible says that you should “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). So those who encourage the indulgence of these passions (whatever they are) are making war on souls — they are literally belligerent.
The word sodomy has two advantages: it refers to the act of same-sex copulation, not same-sex orientation; and it still carries the stigma of shamefulness. Those who love people with same-sex attraction should want to preserve the stigma of shameful practices which destroy them — just as we should try to preserve the stigma of stealing and perjury and kidnapping, and fornication, and adultery. It is a gracious thing when a culture puts signs in front of destructive behaviors that read: Don’t go there; it is shameful.
…Lie: “. . . the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly.” The second word in this sentence that may be twisted is “practice.” When the Bible links “men who practice homosexuality” with “thieves,” and says that neither will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9–10), it is important to note two crucial things.
One is that the warning is not sounded against those who are tempted to steal, but who practice stealing — thieves. Similarly the warning is sounded not against those who are tempted to practice homosexuality, but against those who actually do practice it. To be sure, there are all kinds of inward heart-lusts that are sinful, but the focus here is on the practice…
…Lie: “. . . the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly.” The third word in this sentence that may be twisted is “deadly.” I am not referring to AIDS or to hate-crimes against people with same-sex attraction. I hate hate-crimes, and I would love to see a cure for AIDS. I am not talking about the painful fallout of sodomy in this world — as real as that is (Romans 1:27).
I am talking about “the second death.” All unforgiven and unforsaken sin is deadly in this sense. It leads to the second death. “As for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8)…
While Piper would like to be thought of as a man who desires to love homosexuals all the way to Jesus, his insistence on using the word sodomy reveals what he really thinks about homosexuals. He knows this word is patently offensive, yet he uses it anyway. How then is John Piper any different from the Phelps clan and Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas? Just because Piper doesn’t stand of a street corner with a sign that says God Hates Fags doesn’t mean he disagrees with the sentiment.
Piper, like the Phelps clan and Al Mohler, is a Calvinist. The Calvinist God has the world divided into two categories, elect and non-elect, saved and lost. Since Romans 1 intimates that homosexual behavior is a sign of a reprobate mind, why not just come out and say God Hates Fags? Instead, Piper pretends to have love for the sodomites’ souls, deeply desiring to see them come to Jesus:
…In other words, not all practice of sin excludes from the kingdom of God. “All sins will be forgiven the children of man” (Mark 3:28). The sins that exclude from heaven are the sins we keep on pursuing without regarding them as God-dishonoring, and without seeking forgiveness through Jesus, and without making war on them as the enemies of our souls….
…For all those who trust in Christ, Satan is disarmed (Colossians 2:15), because the only thing that condemns us in God’s court is unforgiven sin. And in Christ, sins are forgiven (Acts 10:43). Satan’s accusations against Christians come to nothing. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” (Romans 8:33).
Therefore, we have the happiest and most horrible news in the world. In Christ there is light and freedom and life. Outside there is darkness and bondage and death. Failure to name the beauty of the light and the dreadfulness of the darkness is an abdication of truth and love…
According to Piper, there will be no homosexuals in heaven. Since our eternal destiny is predestined by God and no homosexual shall inherit the kingdom of God, doesn’t this mean God predetermined that the homosexual would have same-sex attraction?
Piper may say he loves the sodomite, but his theology tells a different story. Surely Piper would agree that the Christian should love what God loves and hate what God hates. Does God hate homosexuals? Does God hate same-sex anal sex but not heterosexual anal sex? Does God hate same-sex oral sex but not heterosexual oral sex? Why does God hate the one and not the other?
Here’s what I think. John Piper is a 69-year-old man who can’t wrap his fundamentalist mind around two men loving each other and desiring to have sex. Like many men of his generation, the very thought of homosexual sex repulses him, and since it does this means God also must be repulsed by it. The Bible gives Piper cover for hating what he can not or will not understand.
Like others of his ilk, Piper thinks “sodomy” is akin to “kidnapping, enslaving, and thousand-fold drugging, selling, raping, and killing of girls.” Here’s an educated man who can’t qualitatively tell the difference between two people of the same-sex loving each other and enslaving and raping girls. I am at a loss as to how to respond to such stupidity.