Thursday, April 24, 2008

Liz from Idaho

Liz had the following to say in this thread, which has now been closed. That thread was closed, and I wanted to comment/question, so I'm reposting here =)

you know, reading these posts, I get the feeling that nothing is really said except "lets all be nice to each other and keep the peace". Which isn't what Jesus taught. At all. Jesus taught that standing up for the truth will make you enemies sometimes.

You are comparing different types of statements. Which is to say that "Let's be nice to each other and try to keep the peace" is not antithetical to "Standing up for the truth will make you enemies sometimes"

I think what you mean to say was that Jesus taught that "If one is put into a situation where one must make such a choice, then it's more important to 'stand up for the truth' than it is to 'be nice and try to keep the peace'." Am I getting that right?

I'm wondering if you could describe such a situation--where we must either be kind or be truthful. Cause I don't really buy it.

And it is interesting that the folks who don't want division over homosexuality have no problem creating it around other issues (the war for example or anything else they don't deem as "progressive")

Which folks are those? If by "division" you mean strife (and by implication violence), then I don't want division over homosexuality, nor over the war, etc. In fact I'd prefer kindness over violence on any of a range of issues, ideally.
I did a lot of googling after I read this thread last night. One of the sites critiquing the emerging church makes an enormously significant point. And that is that NO ONE has ever said that love and compassion for the homosexual go hand in hand with manipulating scripture to suddenly make their sin "OK". My point in bringing in other disorders was to perhaps draw a comparison to similar, if not identical situations. I know a lot of people who do some serious jail ministry. I am not talking about people who have smoked a little pot and are now cooling their heels. I am talking about people who have committed some really really horrible crimes against humanity. Yet, those who go into the prisons to love on these people and lead them to Christ are not saying...awww..gee...I love you so it's not a sin. It is PRECISELY because that love is Christian that it loves anyone and everyone NO MATTER WHAT THEIR SIN. But it doesn't dismiss the sin. When it comes to homosexuality though, there seems to be a very vocal contingent in the church that confuses loving with redefining sin to no longer be sin.

Why do you allow for the fact that some (most) people in prison are there for things that aren't really bad, like smoking some pot, while other people who are in prison are there for things that *are* really bad, like raping small children, but you *don't* allow for the fact that some (most) people who are homosexual are really rather nice people who haven't ever really done anything hurtful to other people beyond the normal things that all people do to each other, while other people who are homosexual have done really shockingly hurtful things to other people. I mean to say there are both homosexual and heterosexual really evil people, but most people don't fall into the category of really evil people, no matter what their sexual orientation.

As for DSM IV: I really do not put a whole lot of stock in the categories. Homosexuality has been removed due to extreme political pressure from gay rights groups.

While there is some truth to this, it is helpful to put it into context. The writing of every new version and every new text revision of DSM takes place by its very nature in an atmosphere of what might be called "extreme political pressure" over nearly *every* change that takes place, if for no other reason than the fact that a lot of money rides on which changes do or don't get made, and how they get made, and so forth. DSM 5 is currently being written, and it's the same deal--this group wants this in, and that group wants that out, but this other group doesn't, and so forth.
I brought up some examples from DSM such as sociopathy and BPD merely to point out that there are a number of conditions that leave secular shrinks shrugging their shoulders with no answers. The fact that these people don't respond well to traditional treatments and don't change very much doesn't cause their condition to be reclassified as "good". Homosexuality comes in for all sorts of special treatment both from secularists and "affirming" churches. The same people who would continue to love on a drug addict through relapse after relapse, all the while seeing getting clean as a goal; seem to have no difficulty treating homosexuality in a totally different manner. To love the struggler is to call their sin good when it comes to homosexuality.

Again I don't understand why you have to insist on such a large category when it comes to homosexuality, but not when it comes to other behaviors. Clearly if their homosexual behavior is causing them more problems than is desirable to them and those who love them, a person would want to stop such behavior. Just as with psychoactive drug use (including alcohol). But you seem to be insisting that *all* homosexuals fall into this category, whereas I imagine you would *not* insist that all psychoactive drug users fall into this category. There's obviously a line somewhere. For instance, I drink caffeine all the time--a psychoactive drug by anyone's description. It isn't causing me any big problems at all. I also drink alcohol socially. That also isn't causing me any big problems. While I don't smoke pot, I have friends who do, and it isn't causing them any big problems. However, there *are* those who have problems with alcohol, and pot, and even caffeine. But I think the best person to *know* whether a drug is causing them a problem is the user. Beyond that, for you or me to make blanket statements about *where* the line sits is silly. "All alcohol users are alcoholics" is silly on it's face, and "Anybody who drinks more than 5 standard shots at one sitting is an alcoholic" is tending to silliness.

But you seem to be doing this sort of thing for homosexuality: "Anybody who has homosexual intercourse has a huge problem which we shouldn't dismiss." or something like that. Am I mishearing you? Because that seems either silly or arrogant or both.
Many many people who secular shrinks would write off as "hopeless" have been cured by God. why should homosexuality be any different?

There it is again--the implication that all homosexuality is so problematic that many secular shrinks would write it off as "hopeless".
Part of the problem with ex gay ministries is they are so freaking formulaic. The people I know who have had real lasting change almost invariably did it on their own, seeing counselors, applying principles from other recovery programs to their issues and simply asking GOD for wisdom instead of trying yet another workbook that is the thinking of man rather than the wisdom of God.

I hear you, sort of. As a recovering person myself, however, I've found that lots of parts of "the wisdom of man" have been extremely helpful to me. "Formulaic" has it's advantages and it's drawbacks, as do most things. My experience is that large chunks of the church can be so anti-formulaic and anti thinking-of-man that they would deny the person in recovery access to stuff that is actually pretty helpful. But you're right in that the eclectic approach to recovery can be a great one--take what works for you from a variety of sources. Just getting plugged into a variety of sources/resources is a helpful step, as I'm sure you know.
As for what DSM classifies as disorders, while they were busy normalizing homosexuality, they also made "math impairment disability" an official diagnosis. Can you believe it? Sucking at math is now an official "disability". Millions of adults could probably retroactively get SOME kind of compensation under the Americans with disabilities act were they so inclined to do so.

I think you must be referring to "mathematics disorder". You seem to be being very dismissive about it. I wonder if your dismissiveness inducts up to all learning disorders (of which mathematics disorder is a subcategory)? Here's DSM on learning disorders in general:
Demoralization, low self-esteem, and deficits in social skills may be associated with Learning Disorders. The school drop-out rate for children or adolescents with Learning Disorders is reported at nearly 40% (or approximately 1.5 times the average). Adults with Learning Disorders may have significant difficulties in employment or social adjustment
Are you saying you think it's unhelpful in general to ... talk about learning disorders? Or that this language is not a useful language for talking about them--are you suggesting that "I, or you, suck at learning" would be a more useful langauge to talk about them?

I disagree. My 6 and 4 year old daughters attend a super amazing school called the EEU here in Seattle. It's a preschool and kindergarten, and half of the students are "typical", while the other half of the students are "atypical", which means that they are on the autism spectrum, or have some other physical or mental disability. The classes have about a 1 to 3 or 1 to 4 teacher to student ratio, and all the teachers are either graduates or graduate students of master's level and above education programs at the University of Washington. Which means, among other things, that these teachers are *steeped* in the language of which you are so dismissive. And the school is simply amazing. Many of the atypical students are able to go on to mainstream 1st grade and so forth, because of the amazing atmosphere and environment of the EEU which has helped them make super awesome progress in learning both academic skills and social skills. There are long queaus of parents waiting and wanting to get their kids into EEU--parents of both atypical and typical students, because it is such an amazing place. I am *super* thankful that our two got in, and among other things I think it has helped prepare them early on to be able to interact with atypical kids, and people, in a kind, ... normal way. I mean they're already way better at that than I am.


Pam Hogeweide said...

thanks for continuing this thread, ben. i just put up the link at my post so hopefully you'll get some folks, especially liz, to follow on over and talk about these things some more.

i am working really hard on some writing projects right now so i do need to limit my time on the blogs these days. i'll pop back by when i get a chance to see if anybody showed up......hey to megs and e and c!

Janice said...

Well, hi all! I just read through Pam's post and thread but have't yet read Benjamin's but I just want to say thanks to both blog hosts for entertaining the discussion (up to whatever point they are comfortable). I might be back with comments but for now will continue to read. Thanks again to both of you (and the commentors)

Anonymous said...

so you are assuming that one cannot show kindness and love without being firm on what is sin and what is not? I am not saying make it part of every conversation, but know that if you are point out blank asked, be ready to give the biblical answer. And not be afraid that if you tell that biblical answer that the person will "turn from Christ". If they turn from Christ because you gave them an honest answer about the sinfulness of their lifestyle, it is not because you were not kind (unless you weren't kind about it),it is because the price that God asks of them is too high. Continuing on in what is comfortable for them is more appealing that the possibility of struggle, dying to self and wrestling with God. By making kindness and truth mutually exclusive, you play a little language game that plays on peoples emotions. Frankly Benjamin, I don't think you are very mature at all. I realize you are young. I was somewhat disturbed by your story about how you were thrown out of the ministry where you met your wife. Yes, a bunch of silly rules. To be honest, I think an overseas mission organization has no business putting a mixed gender group of young single people on a boat, in the middle of nowhere. It is a no win situation. But for you to broadcast the whole thing proudly and smear their name isn't really terribly Christlike to me. My husband and i were asked to leave a church over a petty appearance issue. I am sure it would resonate with you and other emerging church types. It was dumb, stupid and legalistic. Not to mention rooted in the pastor's control issues with his own kids. But for us to put it up on the web, with names places etc would be probably even less Christlike than what this guy did. I think it is meanspirited and vengeful for you to post stuff about this ministry. Did you take it up with them before you broadcast it? Yeah, there are situations of extreme spiritual abuse that probably warrant this (such as say the folks in Texas or the branch Davidians or the boston church of christ or something) but not your ordinary every day ministries making a mistake sort of thing. We privately hinted at people who told us they were going to this pastors church that "they might want to keep their eyes open' but that's about it. That is the Christian way.
You are so full of pointing out the faults of other Christians and the church at large that you fall into that very same sinfulness. You have a lot of spiritual pride at how "Christian" you are compared to the garden variety one's of us who don't self identify with your movement. Deriding people who liked the "purpose driven life" and then going to say that YOUR Christian reading material is oh so much more intellectual..yeah...real Christian. Nauseating is more like it. I suggest instead of focusing on the faults of other Christians, that you look inward at yourself and your own pride and smugness and yes, judgementalness. If you need to compromise what god says in His word to prove you are not judgemental, all the while being VERY judgemental towards your own brothers and sisters in Christ, then you have a serious problem. I have noticed among the wishy washy emerging church people, there is a disproportionate number who grew up around or were themselves ridiculously hardass and cruel about their judgements on the world. Now that they have grasped they were too harsh, they have just flip flopped. No middle ground Just flip flop. And switched their judgemental hearts onto more mainstream Christians instead. there is no critical thinking. no dealing with heart issues. Just being as nasty and derisive to Christians they see as "old school" as they once were to people trapped in sin. the devil must love you.

Anonymous said...

my God. I have never seen a more prideful rant in my life as your blog. You have no CLUE how judgemental it is to sit around and judge people for spending money on Xmas. Are we not as Christians supposed to be evaluating our OWN lives, our OWN hearts instead of deciding on the basis of externals where everyone else around us is at. yay for think you are "kewl" because you don't think taking a stand on homosexuality when point blank asked is biblical. But you apparently have no problem whatsoever with ripping other Christians a new one because you have made casual observations about what you "think" are their priorities. I do think American culture, as a whole, is way too materialistic. And i hate messages that tie achievement/financial gain into the kingdom of God. Because they are NOT the same thing. But who are you to be deciding what any individual may or may not be spending on holidays is appropriate. Do YOU buy your kids any unneccessary goodies? Do YOU ever spend money on something purely for pleasure? Probably you do. You do not know that the person spending a lot on a holiday may be making a far far greater contribution to a third world country than you would dream of. Are you their personal accountant who has examined their records??? Hmmm..I thought not. And freely throwing around cusswords and using "kewl" every other sentence "doesn't" suddenly make you "real" and "relevent". An examined, humble life is what makes you relevent. Not peppering everything with the f-word.

Liz said...

my point with the math thing is that everything gets pathologicalized in our culture. Some people are just not good at some things. But usually good at others. Its called working with your gifts. No one is good at everything. I do believe some people have reading disorders. Because reading is such a part of everyday life, not to mention traditional school situations,yes, it can be devastating if you visualize words inaccurately.But if someone simply can't write well and is more technical in their skills, I am not sure its a "disorder". I suppose if someone cannot add or subtract even with much coaching, it could be a "disorder". But most people who stink at math can add and subtract, even if they use their fingers. Its the more abstract stuff they have trouble with. And I am not sure that's a "disorder". .you are on a slippery slope about where it just stops being ones strengths and weaknesses and starts being a "disorder". I say ditto too on "clinical depression"> No question some people have long term ongoing issues about which there seems to be no external cause. Often though "depression" is simply part of the human condition that becomes something to be medicated and fixed away as quickly as possible.instead of worked through.What ISN'T normal is a life devoid of struggle and sadness at times.Every day is not a happy day. Except of course with prozac... Even secularly, a lot of people have found relief through changing their thought patterns. Anyone remember David Burns (the "mood therapy" guy) Obviously this doesn't apply to every single person diagnosed with depression but I think it does apply to a lot of them. They don't have ANYTHING wrong with them: its just life. Or they need to replace defeatist thinking. every hurdle isn't a "disorder". I suck at languages and I am totally and completely tone deaf. Does that mean I have a "disorder"? I am athletically impaired. Is that a "disorder" even though I have had some self esteem issues over it? I think not.
You seem to think I dismiss anything that is not the bible. On the contrary. But a lot of these "workbooks" distill everything down to such unbelievably simplistic terms (such as "birth order" or "tempraments")and I have found I am better off just going directly to God in an awful lot of cases.

Joe said...

OK, I'm a plain guy and I shoot from the hip: What right have any of you people to decide that someone else's sin is more important than your own?

There is a biblical answer and it is this: WE'RE ALL SODDING SINNERS. Homosexual sexual sin is no worse and considerably better than a lot of other sins, which confusingly we don't want to talk about. Maybe because it might actually affect us, and we might have to change and repent rather than being able to castigate a whole group of other people.

And then you have the gall to come here and tell Benjamin to grow up? Excuse me? He has decided he cannot call himself a Christian. Which seems to me to be a very responsible action and something many others could learn from when their lives are demonstrably a long way from the Christ of the Gospels.

Once you've taking your digit out of the place where the sun-don't-shine, you might like to look in the mirror and repent for the unchrist-like lives that you live and the hypocrisy you display.

Benjamin Ady said...

(... saying to self "Maybe I can feign naivete"...)



What exactly does it mean to have a digit where the sun don't shine?

Please note the delightful repentance of the anonymi here

Liz said...

Problem is Joe: you just did the same thing. You jumped all over ME. The problem is, it is not immediately apparent that Benjamin doesn't consider himself a Christian. Because of his involvements online, at first glance, it appears he IS a Christian. You have to follow all his links, read all his posts, to get the big picture. I didn't even know the type of church background he had until I googled him and an interview appeared. So you yourself are guilty of the very thing you accused me of Joe. I don't think Jesus pulled any punches when it come to telling people the truth, but he also wasn't nasty about it. Since Jesus was God, I doubt he was ever in the situation of not knowing everything about a given situation, so he wasn't in this exact place. But I can understand WHERE Benjamin is on his journey now that I know the type of distorted background he had. At the same time, it would really be wrong to tell someone..oh you had a messed up life so really its okay to not embrace truth. God is patient though, while we work out our stuff.

Joe said...

The difference is that I know these things are true about me - and I also cannot call myself a Christian.

Nice apology though.

crystal said...

"they will know we are christians by our love, by our love...."

just thought i'd throw that one in the ring.

i think, benjamin, joe was referring to what doctor's diagnose with "head up the ass" when he was referring to digit where the sun-don't-shine. maybe his version is the latin terminology. ;)

"I suggest instead of focusing on the faults of other Christians, that you look inward at yourself and your own pride and smugness and yes, judgementalness. "

if we could all, including you, take your advice....

i don't know benjamin, but i do know this is his BLOG. aren't you supposed to write about what you are going through and the happenings in your life? some of you have jumped on here, i think just to rip him to shreds over HOMOSEXUALITY and SWEARING. are you SERIOUS!?!

can i propose something? granted, who am i but a...wait, what was i referred to....oh, yeah, angel of light=devil....anyhoo...hopefully i'm not twisting any scripture around (again) or dismissing sin (again) or being mamby pamby (again), but....what if and JUST what if, we had dialogue, where we didn't mudsling and use God as a weapon or "the Jesus I SERVE" or the "GOD I SERVE" as a weapon to hurt each other???? Can we have open all means, use some friggin' scripture, whatever the hell turns you on, but come ON! we all, yes have differing opinions on certain things, but from what i gather we do claim to serve the same God....i know that makes some of you cringe, but get over yourself. i know this topic is touchy because some of us have been in the trenches and up close and personal with the topic at hand. but, and you can call me a wussy christian all you want, i truly don't give a damn. i will take it. WE ARE CALLED TO LOVE. LOVE GOD, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, LOVE YOURSELF. THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT. so, if you wanna bust balls on rules and religion and commandments and "the LAW", let's begin with this one. because, and i truly do believe this, if we are coming in love, as WE ARE TOLD TO DO BY THE JESUS WE SERVE, confrontation, conviction, and understanding will come out of it, but it does not look like the words in these strings. it doesn't. put your verbal fists down. take a breather and knock it off.

also, dogging on someone because they are young is ridiculous. one name comes to mind, timothy. and, Jesus told us to have the faith of a child. Jesus respected youth. He respected people in process. He DID NOT respect the religious public figures pointing fingers, ready to throw the first stone. humility. selflessness. no where have i read Jesus saying to attack each other when someone bumps into our ideologies or become vicious wolves to people we know IN BLOG LAND. are you kidding me? it seems like there is A LOT of growing up to do and his have very little to do with age.

liz, i would truly love to hear more of your husband's journey and yours, for that matter, but i can't hear you through your anger. i'm actually being very serious. i love to hear about people's process and how they got to believe what they do or become who they are--we ALL have amazing and brilliant stories of great triumph and great failure, through grace, we are able to listen and respect without throwing stones....

Benjamin Ady said...

Thank you Crystal =)