Nov. 2, 2006
Nov. 4-5, 2006, weekend

Nov. 3, 2006


If you've read some remarks by readers here today in the comments section about the Rev. Ted Haggard resigning from the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals because of allegations that he paid for gay sex, but you haven't yet seen the story, click here.

* * *


The efforts by Democrats to learn how to talk more comfortably about religion seems to be paying dividends, it's reported. Candidates really should talk about how religion affects their views of public policy. We need that. But we hope everyone can avoid this battle: "My God can beat up your God."

* * *


In some ways, I hestitate to raise this topic because I know how passionate people are about it and how often people are unwilling or unable to hear the views of others.

Homosexuality_2But it's important, so here goes.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plans to discuss new guidelines on giving pastoral care for gay and lesbian people. Click here for the New York Times story about this.

The guidelnes are right to say that people need such care, no matter who they are, and that the church has an obligation to provide it. But somehow it's hard for me to see how gays and lesbians are supposed to feel loved and accepted when the guidelines repeat the official Catholic position (a position in harmony with many other Christian groups) that commiting homosexual acts is immoral.

The guidelines say homosexual orientation is not "disordered," but acting out that orientation is.

I have said here more than once that I believe the Bible essentially has nothing useful to say about homosexuality except for the overarching message of God's love for all humanity. My exegetical reading of the biblical prooftexts used by people who think homosexual behavior is a sin tells me that the case for such a conclusion is so weak as to be nonexistent.

I know, of course, that many people disagree with me. And I don't want to get into all the details of that here.

But what I don't understand is how a faith community can provide effective pastoral care to people if those people feel that community disrespects an important part of who they are. Sexuality is not the whole of personality, of course, but it is important. And I would find any faith community offering pastoral care to me disingenuous at best if that community believed that a central part of my humanity was "disordered." I'm trying here to draw a distinction between a core part of who someone is and being sinful, a condition that afflicts us all.

Well, I've opened up this topic here again and I expect many of you will want to weigh in on it. But I hope you will focus on the question I'm raising of whether a church can do effective ministry if the people to whom it is trying to minister believe that church does not respect them.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My column tomorrow -- and my blog over the weekend -- will be devoted to new faith-related books that I think you'll find interesting. A reminder, though: I don't always agree with everything the authors of these books say, but I think you should know what they're saying.)



“The efforts by Democrats to learn how to talk more comfortably about religion seems to be paying dividends, it's reported.”

Now, if only the Republicans can learn to “talk more comfortably” about race issues, social entitlement programs, gay rights, pro-death issues etc. the parties could once again achieve a satisfactory hypocritical and empty equilibrium and thus fully maximize these hot button issues to their complete electorate dividend potential.

“But I hope you will focus on the question I'm raising of whether a church can do effective ministry if the people to whom it is trying to minister believe that church does not respect them.”

The postings will of course devolve greatly from this intent, but to remain in the spirit of your post for today, I will limit my answer – at least until I see how today’s discussion ensues.

I found what I read of the Bishops’ guidelines to be excellent on many levels.

A) It acknowledged that “more than a few persons with a homosexual inclination feel themselves to be unwelcome and rejected.” This is definitely a problem in a lot of churches, especially those who hold homosexuality to be sinful. What needs to be better expressed by these congregations/church bodies/Christians is that 1) homosexuality is no greater or no lesser a sin than any other sin; 2) that no one person is a greater sinner than another (i.e. before God, Billy Graham and Hitler are on the same “level), 3) love DOES NOT equal a tolerance of sin on God’s part or an acceptance of a like lifestyle – no matter what the sin/sinful lifestyle.

B) “The document says the Church teaches that persons with a homosexual inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and it condemns all forms of violence, scorn, and hatred, whether subtle or overt.” This is something that must also be stressed. Homosexuals, any sinner for that matter (which all of us are) seeking sanctuary in Christ and His Church should be treated with respect, compassion and much sensitivity.

C) The guidelines even go as far to instruct the clergy to examine themselves and ask for God to purify the potential prejudicial hurdles that might exist in them. “Those who would minister in the name of the Church must in no way contribute to such injustice,” the guidelines state. “They should prayerfully examine their own hearts in order to discern any thoughts or feelings that might stand in need of purification. Those who minister are also called to their own ongoing conversion. In fact, the work of spreading the Good News involves an ever-increasing love for those to whom one is ministering.” Again, excellent.

D) The document parallels the sin of homosexual and heterosexual sex before marriage - both are wrong, both are sin.

E) “It is crucially important to understand that saying a person has a particular inclination that is disordered is not to say that the person as a whole is disordered. Nor does it mean that one has been rejected by God or the Church.”

F) “There is currently no scientific consensus on the cause of the homosexual inclination,” the document asserts “There is no consensus on therapy. Some have found therapy helpful. There is, however, no moral obligation to attempt it.”

G) Also the RCC guidelines on its clergy following the church’s teaching, adoption/foster services, etc. all are excellent.

I apologize for merely cutting and pasting comments from the article, but I thought they were good points. It would be interesting, and perhaps result in a more fair treatment, if the entire document were avaliable for us to comment on and read. I am glad the Catholic Church is addressing this important and growing issue in our culture with much care, concern and yes, love.


In today's news, Rev. Ted Haggard, "one of the most influential evangelical Christians in the nation" (KC Star, page A4) resigned as head of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and as head of the National Association of Evangelicals amid accusations he had a homosexual affair with a male prostitute in monthly trysts over the last 3 years.

My first reaction was amusement-Rev. Haggard's been at the forefront of the "gay marriage ban" amendment effort in Colorado. According to the LA Times, Haggard regularly consults with the White House on policy matters and has lobbied for a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

It took me about 5 seconds to realize that I wasn't displaying a very Christian attitude toward Rev. Haggard. (It's ok...I'm Jewish).

I write this now in the sadness that so quickly followed my amusement. Haggard is married with 5 children.

Haggard has already done a "I did not have sex with that man." Should he be impeached, like Bill Clinton? Stoned in accordance with the Old Testament? Sent to rehab like Mark Foley? (It was the prostelyzing in gay bars that made me do it!)

Enough jokes. I'm saddened for his followers, though I don't agree with their position on homosexuality at all. I'm saddened for his family, for the public shame they will have to endure. I'm saddened for those who have followed his leadership and been betrayed.

Yet part of me rejoices, sadly, in his downfall in hypocracy. At least Bill Clinton didn't use his bully pulpit to demand a Constitutional Amendment making adultary a Federal crime.

I guess the lesson for today is we ALL err in our lives. We ALL make mistakes, betray trusts, violate what we state are our beliefs and principles. It's a consequence of being human.

But there remains that tinge of laughter when someone who tries to tell everyone else how to live their life, in faith or politics, is exposed as being not so wise after all.

Maybe I'll try to start each day remembering the first 7 words of Catholic confession..."Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned."


Guilty until proven innocent.

Dolores Lear

I do not think any religion or a Society that has a Heterosexual Birth Basis, can treat other sexual orientations with Equality, because they accept this is the Way God meant Humans to reproduce, since the Fall to Original Sin. All the problems/sins come from genetic imbalance.
The Adam and Eve Colony were perfect or Pure-bred people. They were reproduced Asexually in a High Tech Womb. How did Humans become so Genetically Mis-bred as they are today. What Sin did Adam and Eve do to reproduce Genetically Mis-bred Cain, a human Killer? Eat an apple?
Did GOD make Humans in all these sexual orientations, and all these diseased bodies? Or did Man with Heterosexual Mis-bred Body Birth? GOD does join the seed of Man in High Tech Science reproduction or in Heterosexual Body Birth reproduction.
This GOD is the One True GOD of the Universes, not our HTA, called Man Gods by Fallen Man.
Fallen Humans lost the Original Asexual Birth 'nature' of Pure-bred Humans with Mis-bred Body Birth. With the loss of High Tech Science, Fallen Man called our HTA that flew in the air, Man Gods. Some natives, without knowledge of the High Tech of today have called pilots they had contact with Gods also.
For as long as Humans do not Accept the Asexual Birth Basis, as the Perfect Way Man was Created 'in the beginning', we will have all these disagreements in religion and government about Homosexuals, and with the High Tech Science of stem cell research.
Today, with the return of High Tech Science Knowledge Reproduction, Heterosexual Birth Humans are making a fetus in a dish and inserting it into the female womb. We do not need the Heterosexual sex act to make a child anymore, it is being accomplished with High Tech Science.
Our HTA went through this process on their planet and used their resources to advance to High tech Sciene Human Birth, and then Colonized planets with this type of Humans. We are using our resources to make nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction instead of using our resourses for LIFE.
Stem cell genetic disease correction technology is on the ballot, to allow High Tech Science to use stem cells to correct genetic and accident defects. will it pass?
Our HTA cleaned the egg and sperm during the process of developing a person in a High Tech Womb. Our HTA did reproduce the Adam and Eve Colony on Earth, in their High Tech Lab in the Garden of Eden. They were all Created Equal Human Beings.
High Tech reproduction is the High Tech Science 'higher nature' Asexual way to reproduce Pure-bred Humans. Heterosexual Human Body Birth is the 'lower nature' way to reproduce Mis-bred Humans.
I hope Missouri passes the stem cell amendment. My son has spinal damage from an accident, and walks with two canes, and my Great Grandddaughter has a heart defect and does have a pig valve to keep her alive.
Any progress with High Tech Science will help them in the future, and also for most families that have someone with a birth or genetic defect or an injury from an accident.
Until Man accepts that there is Asexual Pure-bred Bodies to live in, they will keep on fighting in religion, and in civil government, about who has the right God, the right government, and who is a sinner and who isn't.
It's all in the genetic makeup each person receives in the egg and sperm that made them, to have genetic defects and to be all the sexual orientations, abusers, killers, etc. No one is Created Equal in Heterosexual Body Birth.
Heterosexual Body Birth was the Original Sin of the Pure-bred Colony of Adam and Eve.
With all the Flesh Lusts of Heterosexual Body Mis-breeding, sex, food, drink, drugs, etc., which are in the seed, and if not removed before making a Human Being, it results in the type of Lifestyle we have on Earth since the Fall to Mis-bred Body Birth.
There is a Peace and Agape Love Lifestyle in Asexual High Tech Science Birth, that passes the understanding of Heterosexual Humans.
Can anyone see how Heterosexual Body Birth male can accept that all the Mis-breeding all the Sexual orientations of Fallen Man, can be blamed on Mis-bred Body Birth? Whatsoever the male sows so shall we reap.
Unless we understand how these Humans became what they are through their Mis-bred genetic makeup and environment, disagreements will continue in government, religion, and in families.
Peace and Agape Asexual Love.

Ruth from Tucson

You are right to keep introducing this sex stuff. I personally have dropped out of these discussions because I have nothing else to say. I live in Baja AZ the "liberal" fring of an uptight conservative state. But there is a lot of hate here too - like the Mexican flag burners etc.

There are so rays of sunshine. We have a good shot at getting our gal in Congress to replace Rep Kolbe. The GOP spent lost of money trying to keep the extreemest from winning the primaries to no avail. The GOP moan and the Dems cheer.

I can't vote for her because I am one of the "whole lot of people for Raul Grijalva" and of course will vote for him. When things get really grim, I can go get a hugh from my congressman or his wife.

there are some blessings.

Good bye for now Rhs


WOW! THE leader of Evangelicals. Snorting meth and having regular gay sex. I don't need the cinnamon in my oatmeal this morning.

Keith is right. This isn't about accepting sin or not accepting sin or the way in which homsexuality is defined. This is about whether or not a church should practice hypocrisy. In the case of the Catholic church, it's codifying it. (And hypocrisy is just a nice way of saying, "lie".)

Its own ranks are "honeycombed" with gay priests. (At least according to a story a few days ago.) By admonishing homosexuals to reveal their sexual orientation only to a small group, it amounts to sort of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. That may be OK for the U.S. military, but not for a church.

Haggard is a perfect example of what happens when homosexuality, which is here to stay, is pushed underground. It doesn't stop the homosexual behavior, it just causes the kind of damage that only secrecy and hypocrisy can cause.

Time for gay and lesbian adoption, rights, and church recognition. Anything less is discrimination and a failure to practice God's directives.
I take no joy in the Dems finding religion. It just opens them up to the same sort of bigoted practices and hypocrisy that the Wrongists practice. The fact is that no political party is more inherently moral than the other.


Perhaps some of the best exegesis from a gay theologian is from James Alison. Two of his books, "Faith Without Resentment; Fragments Catholic and Gay" and "On Being Liked" are quite dense and quite insightful.

Dave Miller

Bill, I appreciate you disclosing your reluctance to broach this topic. I hope we can build and maintain an "interpersonal infrastructure" which is strong and supportive enough to bear heavy traffic across it. So far, so good, I'd say.

You asked, "But I hope you will focus on the question I'm raising of whether a church can do effective ministry if the people to whom it is trying to minister believe that church does not respect them."

I would say that this question must be answered by those people. Actually, there are two questions here: 1) do you believe the church respects you as a human being? and 2) is the church's ministry to you effective?

Answering these questions "on behalf of" these individuals would be disrespectful and ineffective, it seems to me.

SC in KC

“But what I don't understand is how a faith community can provide effective pastoral care to people if those people feel that community disrespects an important part of who they are.”

Well, you first have to understand that homosexuality is a behavior, not an identity. A faith community provides effective pastoral care for homosexuals the same way a faith community deals with alcoholism, drug addiction, or any other behavior that is inconsistent with Biblical admonitions. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Through careful instruction in sound Christian doctrine, and through a thorough hermeneutical, not just exegetical, examination of Scripture, the sinner is brought to an awareness and acknowledgement of their sin. Through prayer and the accountability of loving brothers and sisters, the sinner is edified and encouraged. Only through abandonment to Christ does the sinner have any hope of seeing their sin overcome.

Dave Miller

"So far, so good, I'd say."

Oops. Sorry. I posted this before I read your comment, Patricia.

Dave Miller

Patricia, let me clarify. The cinnamon substitute wasn't was just a little too strong, I thought. I apologize for (probably) offending you there!

Pax to all, including Patricia.


Ah, the old "lifestyle choice". A bit of the right faith and a little retraining and your lust is redirected. Amazing science hasn't invented a pill to do this for us. I understand viagra won't change your sexual orientation, which is sad, but a marvelous opportunity for Pfizer to enhance their product line.

As an oft-times heretic, I wonder if we shouldn't also be working on other lifestyle choices like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and Muscular Dystrophy.

Joe Barone

Our small Unitarian Universalist congregation does provide full active membership and pastoral care to homosexuals. That happens because UU affirms homosexual rights and offers training for congregations to become open an affirming. I don't see how it could happen any other way.

SC in KC

“This is about whether or not a church should practice hypocrisy.”

No church should, but every church does. Then again, no person should, but every person does. Any time a person promotes a life or world view, religious or secular, a careful examination will ALWAYS reveal an occasion or occasions where that person has acted inconsistently with that world view. In the case of Christianity, the Bible codifies it. In one verse we are told that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In another verse we are admonished to be perfect as Christ is perfect.

You will never meet a perfect preacher. You won’t meet a perfect Christian. There has never been a perfect atheist, a perfect Buddhist, or a perfect Muslim. There has only been one perfect person, and He was Jewish. That doesn’t mean we can’t instruct and edify one another, and that doesn’t constitute hypocrisy.

Dave Miller

"Well, you first have to understand that homosexuality is a behavior, not an identity."

SC, I'm not sure I agree with you there. In standard usage, anyway, "homosexuality" is an orientation, not a behavior. It may prompt a behavior, but one can have the orientation without behaving in any particular way.

What are your thoughts?


What UU congregation is that?


Churhes are not social work institutions. Churches minister to homosexuals and everyone else by proclaiming the gospel and adminstering the sacraments. The beauty of this is that all of us are in need of exactly the same ministrations..proclamation
of God's law, being convicted that we all fall short of God's law, contrition for our sins, and the good news that Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins and our sins have been forgiven.

The most important work of the church does not involve support groups, guest speakers, book reports, etc. The church should not be a social institution that tries to make people feel better about themselves, at least until they are contrite and broken because of their sin. Then the gospel can be proclaimed and God's forgiveness and grace announced to all.


Do you think that the latest guidelines would fit well with Alison's thinking, Betsy? I doubt that any of us know his work.

Kansas Bob

Too bad so many are deeming Haggard guilty before the facts are really known. Says more about us than it does about Haggard.


No, they wouldn't. He is quite visionary is seeing the Gospel for what it is. And although very faithful to the Church, he is able to see through this current "pogram" to what the Gospel will ultimately teach us all - Church and all. His original work - "The Joy of Being Wrong" was quite well thought of, but when he "came out" in his South American Dominican congregation, he was asked to leave. He has become the scholar to read about gay issues, thought they are by no means the only focus of his scholarship. I heard him speak to a packed house at Creighton University. Several of his lecture are online - google James Alison to find the site. He uses the work of Rene Girard and Raymond Schwager as well as others to fill out his rather passionate theological ideas. A first class mind and heart. His new book will be out in February.


The whole Rev. Haggard thing sounds very fishy to me. Its timing too convenient, the location (Colorado Springs) too important. Karl Rove has been known to do such things and for some reason I am suspicious of that now. The man has already been judged by those who would wish to "get those hypocrites" and I find that disturbing among Christians. Althought, I probably disagree with Haggard in almost every single way, I do not wish for this to be true. I simply hope that truth comes out and that healing becomes part of it all.


Haggard may be the "leader of the evangelicals" in his own mind and some others, but I've never heard of him. Sounds like he's the leader of a non-denominational mega church. These churches tend to be very dependent upon their leader, rather than doctrine. In fact, I doubt they have any formal doctrine. It's all based on emotionalism. When everyone can believe pretty much whatever they want to believe, things can get messed up in a hurry.



Haggard's accuser claims he spoke up now because of Haggard's involvement with the Colorado constitutional amendment banning "gay marriage". While Rove-ian, it wasn't Karl this time. Your suspicion is correct on the timing.

That said, Haggard made himself the leader of the amendment movement, not his accuser. Haggard chose his location in Colo Springs, not his accuser.


I had heard of him. Very charismatic. He was the minister in the film, "Jesus Camp" which tells me a lot about him.
What is interesting to me is the very idea of God's mercy being some sort of cosmic payback for you wrongdoings. How can anyone who has read the Gospels or experienced the mercy and compassion of God ever think in those terms. Social justice seems to be outside of many Christians knowledge and experience. I have taught people who firmly believe Jesus taught obedience to the government and social justice just isn't in the picture for them. Weird and selective kind of reading of the words of Jesus. Gandhi understood them perfectly. Too bad so few Christians do.

Dave Miller

Very interesting comments today, as usual. But of course none of us would be here reading these comments or posting them if it weren't for Bill. So what about paying some more attention to the question he put before us today:

"But I hope you will focus on the question I'm raising of whether a church can do effective ministry if the people to whom it is trying to minister believe that church does not respect them."

Earlier, I ventured:

"I would say that this question must be answered by those people. Actually, there are two questions here: 1) do you believe the church respects you as a human being? and 2) is the church's ministry to you effective?

Answering these questions 'on behalf of' these individuals would be disrespectful and ineffective, it seems to me."

Anyone else care to venture some thoughts on this?

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