Letters To The Editor

Readers are an integral part of Whosoever. We appreciate hearing from our readers, whether they have praise or hot coals to heap on our heads. With the new year, we're beginning this new feature of a reader forum. Here's some of the things our readers are saying.

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Editor:

I stumbled across your article [Becoming a New Creation] because I was interested what others had to say about a Christian having an occasional beer or glass of wine. Of course, your article went on to say much more.

I admire the wisdom and insight you gave concerning other issues; gay and lesbians. I am a happily married woman who considered gays and lesbians in sin, and (God help them). Your article was very eye opening. Jesus did command us to love one another, and edify one another. How the church has missed that. I felt somewhat convicted as I read your article.

Thank you for bringing the Word of God forth in a different light. None of us would have ever come to Christ if we waited until we were the (perfect) Christian before He would accept us. I really enjoyed your site.

Gerri


Editor:

I have been on almost a four year journey to 'really' find myself and my truth and refound God. I am 51, female, partnered for 31 years, have two adopted foreign born sons. I was born and raised Catholic but definitely not practicing now. Both parents and a sister are deceased and have four other adult sisters, 3 married and another gay and partnered for 10 years+. A conversation 4 years ago with the older married sister resulted in a significant uproar and division within the family, that shook me to my very foundations and is now just beginning to heal. At the same time my sons, who are now teenagers were coming to grips with and dealing with having gay parents. In my devastation I turned to the only thing I though I had left and had to find out for myself whether I was truly an 'abomination' or a loved child of God.

I read and re-read two versions of the Bible cover to cover and searched the internet for everything I could find. What I found was that God doesn't make mistakes. He made us in his image and likeness and we all have a great purpose if we can listen and hear what it is. I also learned that writers and interpreters of the bible certainly influenced their work by their own beliefs and persuasions and force up or play down sections or concepts to their own liking and the world of others needs to understand that. I learned that if you really think about the truths that Jesus instructed us is that you do find peace and happiness and joy but not without some work and effort on our part.

In my journey I am finding how hard to live the 'true teachings of Jesus ' really are. But find as I am learning to live them how truly loved by God I am. As I am growing (it's too bad it took almost 51 years to get here) I am trying to find something I can do to influence my own world in the way of the Lord without coming across as a zealot. My immediate family is my first circle of work. I've got two sons and a partner who I want to grow with me and we're beginning to start that journey. I also am writing this since I found your web site to say your are remarkably brave for doing this and I thank you that I found your site. You found a way and have inspired me to look for ways to reach others in a down to earth pragmatic way as well.

Again thank you for your work. I have sent your web site to three other people who I know don't know you exist.

Annie


Editor:

Thank you for having the courage and the tenacity to present your Web site.

I know you get lots of unfriendly 'Christian' mud thrown at you, 'speaking the truth in love' of course!

As a Christian I admire the thoughtful, understanding and balanced approach you take in your Responses, and the way your own views come from a faith that is deeply heartfelt and heart-searching. (More than I can say for some of your dear critics).

I am personally very glad to have found this jewel on the web and I am sure it is an encouragement and a blessing to many others as well.

From my perspective as a counselor I notice the 'unconscious' hatred, hostility and judgementalism etc. that many Christians feel about GLBT issues and are only too happy to fire off in the envelope of religious zeal, unaware of their unlovingness and the blocks to their compassion.

Every encouragement to you,

God bless,

Richard


Editor:

Bert wrote:

Just reading your An Open Letter To Our Critics gave me reason to think about some of my beliefs. Reading your What We Believe section it seemed to me that you took some verses out of context and totally ignored others, such as the verses in both testaments that condemn homosexuality.

Editor Candace Chellew Responds:

Bert,

Thanks for your letter.

I don't believe I've taken anything out of context, and I haven't ignored the passages you say condemn homosexuality. You can find an in-depth treatment at What The Bible Really Says About Homosexuality

Bert wrote:

I am not saying that you are going to hell. That truly is between you and God. I believe there are adulterers who are true believers and saved, as there are saved people in any other sin-group you care to name (and everyone falls into at least on sin group). All of them rationalize and justify their actions, an all will go before the throne and give an accounting.

Editor Candace Chellew Responds:

Well thanks for not just outright condemning me. That's certainly a refreshing change. :) Here are my answers to your questions.

Bert wrote:

My recent musings have brought up questions in my mind, and since I was directed to this site by someone wondering what I thought of it, I thought I might bounce them off of you. I'm not a Bible scholar, and I don't have a concordance handy, so I won't be quoting chapter and verse (or even book).

1. Scripture tells us that, in the Spirit, we can overcome anything. If homosexuality is a genetic trait, then is it possible that God allows it so people will come to Him for the strength to overcome it?

Editor Candace Chellew Responds:

I can't really believe in a God that "afflicts" us so we'll come to him for strength. That seems a bit ridiculous to me and not any kind of God I'd care to believe in. But, for the sake of your argument let's look at an example. Left-handedness is a genetic trait, and was once considered a sign of evil or mental problems and many lefties were forced to go against their nature and learn to be right-handed. It didn't mean they weren't left-handed anymore, it meant that society tried to dictate what it felt was "right" and even had biblical backup that being left-handed was "of the devil." Homosexuals face the same demonization. We are told we must go against our nature because society says we're wrong and they have biblical "proof" to back up their assertion. Your question is grounded in some shaky and, to me, offensive theology.

Bert wrote:

2. To my knowledge, Scripture never says that attraction to the same sex is a sin, only acting on that attraction. Could that be evidence that the answer to my first question is yes?

Editor Candace Chellew Responds:

Some acts of homosexuality are condemned in the Bible, on that we agree. Those are acts of idol worship, rape, or other ways of misusing sex to dehumanize or abuse others. However, you seem to see all forms of homosexual sex as falling into these condemned categories. You seem to be confusing sex and love, or denying that homosexuals have the capacity to use sex as an expression of their love, just like heterosexuals do, and reducing all homosexual sex to acts of "lust." Nothing could be further from the truth.

When two women or two men are in love and in a committed relationship, their acts of sex are not idolatrous, forced or dehumanizing, they are physical expressions of love on par with heterosexual physical expressions of love. The Bible condemns many heterosexual acts, like adultery, but it does not mean that the orientation of heterosexuality is condemned. The same holds true for homosexuality. While some acts may be condemned, the orientation itself is not.

The crux of the matter in the Bible is whether sexuality is used correctly ... within the context of loving, committed relationships. Acts that contradict this edict are condemned, both for heterosexuals and homosexuals.

Bert wrote:

3. Is it possible that homosexuality is not genetic, but a warping or misinterpreting (for any of a host of reasons) of the normal male-male, female-female camaraderie?

Editor Candace Chellew Responds:

I suppose anything is possible, and some people who engage in homosexual behavior may suffer from some manner of pathology or neurosis that makes them act in such a way. But, there may be many more people who are genetically predisposed to be homosexual. Science has given us clues that this may be true, but no definitive answers.

I can only tell you that from my personal experience I knew from very early in my childhood that I was different from everyone else. My earliest memory is of the thrill I experienced when I was five and got to hold the hand of a female classmate during a field trip where we had to "buddy up." Was I born gay? I don't know, honestly, and in the long run it really doesn't matter that much. I have found peace in my life with my sexual orientation and have honored my sexuality as God-given and God-blessed. I try to use my sexuality responsibly and am currently in a long-term monogamous relationship. Whosoever, through its ministry, tries to promote such responsible and moral use of sexuality.

I know that I am not alone in my experience. A vast majority of gay and lesbian people tell the same story of always, from their earliest memories as children, feeling different. No one talks about the day they made the "choice" to be gay or lesbian. In every instance these people feel that it is *normal* for them to be gay or lesbian, just as heterosexuals feel their sexual orientation is normal. Among these people you may find the stereotypical pattern of absent father/strong mother that psychologists, in the past, have sought to hang the cause of a homosexual orientation on. But, I dare say you'll find many more gays and lesbians who come from stable straight homes, who suffered no sexual abuse as children and had good relationships with both parents. The gay experience is not a single experience and the community is not monolithic. It is just as varied and diverse as the straight community.

So, no, I don't find that homosexuality in general is any way a "warping" of same-gender camaraderie. I believe, for the majority of people who identify as gay or lesbian, their attraction to the same gender is intrinsically and utterly normal for them.

Bert wrote:

Asking questions is never a sign of stupidity, it is a sign of ignorance seeking to be cured.

Editor Candace Chellew Responds:

Thanks for your questions ... I hope I've helped to cure some of your ignorance on these matters.

To learn more, may I suggest this link to Walter Wink's excellent and well-balanced article on Homosexuality and the Bible.

Blessings,

Candace Chellew
Editor


Editor:

I have been writing letters to gay Christians in order to thank them for the impact that they've had on my life. I hope you realize that in doing what you do, you actually save lives. People who would otherwise put themselves through all kinds of masochistic, psychological (and sometimes physical!) tortures in order to make themselves acceptable to God, have hope because of the work of LGBT Christians like yourself.

When I was fifteen years old, I came out to myself and those that I knew. But I was raised in a family, who though they love me very much, is so wrong about religion. They believe in the Bible and its inerrancy and they flatly told me that homosexuality was a sin. Whosoever and other gay Christian writings helped me immeasurably during my tumultuous high school years. They helped me realize, at a time when it was necessary, that there is another side to the story and that Christianity and homosexuality were compatible.

But then I began to clash head on with the homophobia that was around me, and the place where it hit the hardest was at home. The words of LGBT Christians helped reaffirm my beliefs and gave me the confidence to fight on. I have to admit, however, that my "battles" weren't perfect. In my anger and hurt that they would not accept me, I said and did obnoxious, hurtful things to my family that I now regret. But despite my shortcomings, I stood by my convictions thanks to you and others like you.

If this were the 1970's or 80's, it's possible that I would be dead --or be living in such a private hell that I would wish I was dead. But I was fortunate enough to live in the 1990's, where at the click of a button, I found hope. I am convinced that the Internet has saved the lives of countless LGBT youth. People who would otherwise never know that there are people like them all over the world, can meet and have contact with people who are going through the same things they are going through.

But I read about the suicides and the anguish that people went through when they subjected themselves to so-called "ex-gay" ministries, and I realized that people of God were responsible for this. When it finally hit me that Christians -- God's children -- were responsible for these atrocities, it was a fatal blow to my faith in God. If there is a Holy Spirit that lives within each Christian, how can Christians get away with this without a prick of conviction? Isn't the Holy Spirit supposed to convict people of sin? Yet, many Christians do these hurtful things without batting an eyelid! Were people going to argue that anti-gay Christians didn't have a relationship with God? Were people going to dare suggest that Christians, who read their Bible daily, pray and are dedicated to God, but are convinced homosexuality is a sin aren't true Christians? But if they were true Christians, where is the Holy Spirit? Why would God convict anti-gay Christians of some sins, but! not this destructive sin against LGBT people. The Holy Spirit cannot exist I concluded, and that is where I am now. I no longer identify as a Christian but I am an agnostic Unitarian -- a distant cousin of Christianity. Though I am at that point now, I continue to keep an open mind and realize that life is a journey and that I am only nineteen years old.

In solidarity,

Brian

Editor Candace Chellew responds:

Brian,

Thank you for your very touching and moving note.

As you might imagine I get a lot of hate mail, and unfortunately very little mail thanking me for the magazine or encouraging me to continue it. Sometimes it gets daunting to go on in the face of such hatred out there, but letters like yours make it all worthwhile.

I always said that if I give one GLBT person hope in God then it's been all worth it. The people who have gained hope, as you have, have been vast and letters like yours prove that Whosoever is God's work ... succeeding often despite me! :)

The last part of your letter, concerning the Holy Spirit, concerns me, however. Now, don't take this as preaching at you because that's not my goal. I've felt very much at home with the Unitarians and I support them fully. I refer to myself, actually, as a Christian Agnostic ... since there are many Christian doctrines I cannot bring myself to believe in (Virgin birth and physical resurrection, to name a couple of biggies!). So I understand your agnosticism. But, the Holy Spirit is something I believe in with all my heart.

I understand your frustration with anti-gay Christians, believe me. I, too, wonder why God does not change their hearts and why they cannot see the light on this issue. But, then I have to remember that we are granted the gift of free will. Often that leads to stubborn denial. Remember that the Holy Spirit is not coercive. It will not force you to do anything you refuse to do. Anti-gay Christians, in my opinion, have many reasons to ignore the Holy Spirit on this issue. Peer pressure, the fear of being "wrong" in their doctrines, or going against societal norms topping the list. They also want a very "cut and dried" Christianity that has all the answers. They can't tolerate gray areas ... so if their religion says homosexuality is wrong, then they believe it without investigating it further.

Besides, giving in to the Holy Spirit is frightening. It makes you do things you'd never think of doing. It empowers you to stand up for justice when injustice is the "societal norm" ... it empowers you to speak against the powers of oppression no matter what the consequence. People don't want to abandon their comfy place in the pew and risk being a social pariah to stand up for justice for all of God's children when it's easier to keep their mouths shut.

I don't think their reticence proves that the Holy Spirit doesn't exist more than it proves the power of evil over people ... even good people. Heeding the Holy Spirit requires action, and more often than not, unpopular action. Why would your run of the mill, church on Sunday and forget about God the rest of the week Christian, want to be bothered by that? It's easier to ignore the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit than to give in to it and be moved out of compassion to act for justice.

I try to recognize this and not be too hard on our anti-gay folks. They're fighting a mighty battle keeping the Holy Spirit at bay. It's one I hope they ultimately lose, and I think they will ... but we must have compassion for them while they struggle, and try our best to gently prod them into heeding the Holy Spirit's urgent call.

It's hard to stand firm in the face of raging homophobia ... believe me, I know. But, don't ever let them take your faith from you Brian. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Romans 8:38-39 has been a stronghold in my life. Whenever I feel discouraged I read it and realize I am "more than a conqueror." Nothing can erase God's love for me ... no matter how hateful or sure of himself the attacker is.

I encourage you to stand firm in your walk with God, Brian. You've done so well so far and I pray your faith holds strong and grows stronger with each passing day. Please keep in touch and let me know how things are going for you.

You will be in my constant prayers.

Blessings,

Candace


Editor:

I decided to write this after reading that you are open to and welcome all criticism. First, allow me to apologize for all of the Christian who have openly persecuted you and your ministry. They are wrong! I'm sorry for the spiritual immaturity that they show. It is disgraceful to see Christians parading around the globe judging others for their sins and telling them how wrong they are. These individuals will never rise above those they are accusing. I write not to accuse you or to judge you.

I don't question your salvation experience, and I don't question that you are a well-intentioned Christian. However, if you are participating in the lifestyle that you present on the website - you are sinning. (I'll spare you the scripture because I'm sure that you have heard it thousands of times from other well-intentioned Christians.) I say this not to judge you but instead to help you see your sin for what it is, as I have been instructed by God in Galatians 6:1.

I ask that you truly seek God's face on this matter and not only seek HIS response but wait silently and patiently until you hear it. The part that bothers me the most, is not that you have sinned, or are living a life of sin, but that you openly embrace it. It would be no different for an individual to open a website for Christian Adulterers or Christian Murderers.

I ask that you prayerfully consider all that I have shared and seek God's answers for your website and lifestyle. If you think that you have prayed about it enough and you are sure that you are not living in sin, I encourage you to pray again - pray with the expectation of not getting up until you have GOD'S ANSWER.

In HIM

Name Withheld by Request

Editor Candace Chellew responds:

Dear Anonymous,

Ah, yes ... you're the "I'm sorry others have persecuted you so bluntly, *I* however will persecute you gently."

You can't really be serious when you compare being homosexual to being an adulterer or a murderer. It's a ludicrous comparison. I'm sorry that I have to point out to you what should be quite obvious. There are victims when adulterers and murderers act. Adulterers break covenant with their partners when they cheat. Murderers leave a trail of victims. Gay people engaged in loving, committed relationships do not have victims ... but often they *are* victims of misguided folks like yourself who believe they have every right to call into question the speck they think they see in a neighbor's eye while forgetting the board in their own. Or maybe your eye just hurts less when you're pointing out all the bespeckled eyes around you.

Also, when Jesus was faced with a woman taken in adultery he told those present that those without sin may cast the first stone. No one did ... and Jesus ... the only one there who qualified by that statement, since he was without sin, ALSO refrained from throwing stones. He told the woman "I do not condemn you either." The words "go and sin no more" were later additions to this story according to biblical scholarship. The words were not found in older manuscripts, so they are not authentic to the story.

In short, Jesus didn't play the "love the sinner, hate the sin" game that folks like you are so fond of ... his philosophy, so plainly revealed in the gospels, is "love the sinner, forgive the sin." My sins, whatever they are, are forgiven.

You don't get to have a say in what my sins are ... they are between me and God. You're more than welcome to believe that I am sinning. It doesn't change the fact that Jesus said "whosoever believes" is saved. That, much to your chagrin, includes me. Nothing separates me from the love of God, least of all your opinion of what my sin might be.

As for your instruction to pray until I get God's answer, I have. God has clearly shown me the path God wishes for me to walk. God has given me a ministry as a lesbian Christian to minister to others like myself in the GLBT community. God has answered my earnest prayers. However, since you don't agree with my mission then, in your eyes, I must not have prayed enough. What you are encouraging me to do is pray until I get the answer YOU believe I should get. How completely arrogant of you. I listen to God's direction in my life, not yours.

I hope one day you'll see how misguided your "rebuke" to me is. You have no standing here, for you do not have a say in what "sins" I may be committing or not committing. I don't judge you. I ask for the same respect in return.

Blessings,

Candace Chellew
Editor


Editor:

I would just like to thank you for your lovely site. I stumbled across it, which is the way I usually encounter the most worthwhile things in life. I have just browsed your site, and shall return to it when I have a little more time. But I thought that I ought to get off a quick word of thanks for the hard work you do. Keep it up.

Thomas


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