jasonbwatson

February 11, 2015

Discernment and caution

In the last post, I described why it so important for churches to exercise discernment and caution when deciding who will become a member. Though not referenced explicitly in that post, it is just as crucial for individual believers to exercise discernment and caution when selecting a church to join, or when weighing a decision to stay in a church.

The extreme dangers of both are exemplified in an article in the January 26 issue of TIME entitled “A Change of Heart.” The article provides an overview of the varying positions on homosexual marriage within evangelicalism. The church that is spotlighted in the story is Seattle-area EastLake Community Church. The article’s lead paragraph describes all of the ways that the church “looks like a lot of other evangelical megachurches,” but is really praising the trendiness of the church. And before I address that church’s stance on homosexual marriage let me address this trendiness issue. The TIME article says that EastLake “boasts 13 weekly services at six locations…; the head pastor is a bearded hipster; and the main campus is a warehouse turned sanctuary where greeters serve coffee, a tattooed band rocks out beneath colored lights and attendance swells whenever the Seahawks are not playing.”

That these are the characteristics considered common among evangelical megachurches does not speak well for evangelical megachurches! None of those descriptors amount to a thing when it comes to faithfulness to Scripture. God is far more concerned that a pastor is a Bible-proclaimer than a bearded hipster. His desire is that church members actually serve each other and their communities; I suspect He could not care less whether or not the greeters serve coffee. (Actually, if the coffee becomes a focal point or a distraction, I suspect He does care, and He is not in favor). I feel equally confident that God is far more concerned with the lyrics of the songs and the hearts of the singers than He is with the bodily adornment or the colored lights. And if the church’s attendance fluctuates considerably (which “swells” would imply) based on whether or not the local NFL team is playing, I think God would have a question or two about the level of commitment to Him that would be found in the members/attendees of the church. See, I may be wrong, but the notion of church attendance swelling when the Seahawks are not playing makes me think that going to church is the next-best thing to do on a Sunday morning in Seattle for those whose presence “swells” the attendance at EastLake. If the church is a trendy, fun or “hip” place to hang out when there’s no football, there is a problem. (See also: my many previous references to the need for church to be uncomfortable).

All of that aside, the real point of the introductory paragraph of the TIME article is this conclusion: “It [all of the happenings of the church described above] is almost enough to make you miss what is really going on at EastLake this winter: the congregation is quietly coming out as one of the first openly LGBT-affirming evangelical churches in the U.S.”

I will go ahead and say it, and the fact that many will disagree with me or call me intolerant, biased, opinionated or discriminatory matters to me not one bit: “LGBT-affirming evangelical church” is a contradiction. It is something that cannot be. Once a church becomes “LGBT-affirming” it ceases to be evangelical. If “evangelical” means affirming the teachings of the gospels and the authority of Scripture, as I believe most definitions suggest, then affirming homosexuality is simultaneously ceasing to be evangelical, since the Bible is quite clear on the fact that homosexuality is a sin. In other words, one cannot both affirm homosexuality and affirm Scripture. One cannot be both LGBT-affirming and evangelical. That is, of course, unless and until one embraces the relativism of our age, when there is no real meaning to anything and one can pick and choose any combination of things and put them together, ignoring the fact that they are mutually exclusive. We are not talking about toe-may-toe versus toe-mah-toe here; these are not matters of preference or opinion.

TIME goes on to explain that the transition to being “LGBT-affirming” happened slowly for EastLake. “For the past six months, the church has played a short welcome video at the start of every service that includes the line “Gay or straight here, there’s no hate here.” Ignoring the fact that the line is incredibly cheesy, I would agree that there should not be any hate found within the church toward people. The sinful choices of people, however, should be of concern. No church can be faithfully teaching Scripture and be making homosexuals feel welcome at the same time. Beyond the saccharine tag line, the church’s other efforts at welcoming and affirming homosexuals include the facts that the church’s first gay wedding took place in December, and that “one of the pastors now sends a wedding gift on behalf of the church every time she hears that gay congregants are getting married.” (Therein, too, the TIME author unwittingly provided further evidence of the fact that the church is not really evangelical; just as clear as the Scripture’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin and marriage is between a man and a woman is the teaching that women are not to be pastors).

Ryan Meeks, the pastor of EastLake, says that a “turning-point” for him came when he learned that “one of his staffers had been afraid to tell him she was dating a woman.” Says Meeks, “I refuse to go to a church where my friends who are gay are excluded from Communion or a marriage covenant or the beauty of Christian community. It is a move of integrity for me–the message of Jesus was a message of wide inclusivity.” Sadly, there is no integrity in the “move” at all, since it denies the authority and teaching of the very Scripture it purports to support and uphold. The message of Jesus was widely inclusive in one way–that salvation is a free gift for anyone who believes. At the same time it is incredibly narrow and intolerant in all other ways. After all, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.” There are five resounding statements of intolerance there; Jesus said He is the only way.

I could say plenty more about the contents of the TIME article, and at some point I may. (I have, after all, addressed only the article’s first two paragraphs!). I believe, however, that I have made my point: churches need to be careful about who can become a member, because the members determine the direction of the church. Believers need to be careful about the churches they join, too, so that they do not unknowingly join themselves with a body that does not affirm and teach the Bible. (Encouragingly, the TIME article does point out that EastLake has lost 22% of its income and 800 attendees in the last year and a half, signaling that at least some of its members were unwilling to remain part of a church that no longer taught the Bible). Discernment and caution are imperative.

November 4, 2013

Loud and Clear

Though I took a hiatus for a few posts from talking about education, I still have more to say about the subject, so I turn again to that.

One unfortunate reality of public education is the overwhelming influence of the National Education Association (NEA). The NEA describes itself as “the nation’s largest professional employee organization” and its purpose as “advancing the cause of public education.” That troubles me, and it should trouble you. Why? Because the NEA’s focus seems to be on almost everything but student learning. That is not to suggest that the NEA never addresses learning, but it certainly does not seem to take the focus.

Last July the NEA held its annual convention in Atlanta. At that convention the NEA adopted this resolution, listed as New Business Item 30: “NEA will encourage all states and NEA Affiliates to use existing means of communication to promote developmentally appropriate instructional resources in order to help all educators integrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history, people, and issues into their instruction such as, but not limited to ‘Unheard Voices’ an oral history and curriculum project for middle and high school students created in collaboration by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Story Corps.”

There were ninety-three new business items on the convention’s agenda, all of which can be seen on the NEA web site. Here are a few examples of those items that were adopted…

* The NEA shall encourage the Obama administration to ensure all legally married people have equal access to federal benefits regardless of their state of residence.
* Using existing resources and publictions, the NEA shall educate its members about the problem of homelessness among U.S. military veterans and publicize the work that organizations including “Soldier ON” are doing to combat it.
* A lengthy resolution on what the NEA could do to end the cholera epidemic in Haiti.
* NEA will gather stories of members who have been victims of age discrimination and other workplace harassment, share them using existing communication vehicles, and provide members with a toolkit they can use in this situation.
* NEA will support efforts to fully restore and extend to all states the effective protections of the Voting Rights Act, to fight state legislation that assaults voting rights, to support state legislation that expands voting access, to mobilize our members, to partner with other organizations to maximize civic participation, and fight voter suppression.
* NEA will use existing resources, assist state affiliates in urging policy makers on the district and state level to push for legislation similar to California’s FAIR Education Act (Senate Bill 48) that requires schools to integrate factual information about social movements, current events, and history of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities into existing social studies lessons along with all historically underrepresented groups.
* NEA will write an article through existing digital communication to elevate awareness around the need for state laws to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
* The NEA RA commend Texas State Senator Wendy Davis for her courageous filibuster to protect women’s rights and her continued ongoing advocacy on behalf of students and staff who serve in great public education.
* NEA stands in solidarity with striking Bay Area Rapid Transit Workers. NEA supports Service Employees International Union 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 now on strike against Bay Area Rapid Transit Management and will send a letter of support to them acknowledging the just demands of striking workers….
* The process for NEA’s approval of sponsors of major giveaways and corporate partners of the NEA shall include a preference for companies who have an active union presence among their workforce unless labor unions are not actively organized in an industry.

Not much in there about actual teaching and learning, is there? Now, there were a few things in the new business items addressing teaching and learning, but most of them were about high stakes testing, Common Core State Standards, and support for making physical education a mandatory subject nationwide.

By the way, what did Wendy Davis do in Texas? She filibustered for thirteen hours, attempting to derail a law that imposes some of the toughest regulations in the country on abortion clinics. A proposal submitted to the NEA convention to “prohibit the use of dues money to support abortions,” by the way, was squashed, after attendees booed that pro-life educators introducing the proposal. The NEA kept in place, though, its support for “school-based family planning clinics.”

I am incredibly tempted to comment further on the NEA, the influence it has on public education, and the warning sign that should be for any parent truly concerned about their children are taught at school, but I think I am going to take the less-is-more route here; I think the NEA has pretty well spoken for itself…loud and clear.

May 30, 2013

Intended to be fun?

Earlier this month, in a post titled “How Do You Feel?”, I addressed my concern over a growing movement around the country to provide “gender identity counseling” to young children in order to help them determine whether they feel like they are a boy or a girl, and to then provide services necessary to help them achieve that identity, even when that involves hormones and other changes to the body.

Now, just last week, a school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin asked its elementary students to dress as members of the opposite sex for a day as part of a week of special activities at the school. Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities originally dubbed the day “Gender Bender Day,” though it changed the name to “Switch It Up Day” after a flurry of opposition and criticism from parents. Changing the name of the day was about the only concession that was made, though; one school board member basically dismissed parental concerns, accusing parents of “using the kids for political purposes.”

A number of parents ended up keeping their children home from school for the day, and I commend them for doing so. According to MyChristianDaily, one parent described the day’s theme as “ridiculous” and “creepy,” though the principal of the school said it was all meant to be in fun and was, in fact, a suggestion from members of the school’s student council. Student councils are a great idea; providing students with the opportunity to make suggestions to school leaders and to contemplate how different decisions and activities can impact the school is a valuable exercise. But–as unpopular as it may be to say–there is such a thing as a bad idea, and it is the responsibility of the adults involved to tactfully say no when students suggest them. Even if the original idea did come from the students, the decision ultimately had to be made by the principal, and I find it unimpressive to say the least that he would pass the buck to the students.

The area’s local FOX affiliate, WITI, reported that when the day came it was unable to find many students actually participating–but found faculty and staffers who were doing so. Indeed, WorldNet Daily posted a photo of two male staffers dressed in female attire. Perhaps even more troubling is that the attire they were wearing would not have been appropriate for a school setting even if they were female. This would surely have been confusing and troubling for young children who saw male adults dressed that way, even if the children themselves were dressed normally. (In fact, The Daily Caller reported, “In a pretty massive letdown after all the hubbub, WITI reported that it couldn’t find a single cross-dressing student at the elementary school. Only some teachers and staffers were caught up in the transvestite spirit of Switch It Up Day.” If that is true it does cause one to wonder how there were no students who chose to participate in an idea that supposedly originated with students).

The Education Action Group, a conservative group in Michigan which runs a news site at EAGnews.org, quoted a parent saying, “They might as well call it ‘Transgender Day.'” EAG shared this opinion on the story: “We are concerned about student comfort. There are undoubtedly children at the school who felt like they had two bad choices today: either dress up as the opposite sex, which might make them feel uncomfortable, or dress normally and be out of place with the rest of the school, which might also make them feel uncomfortable.” Of course there was also a third choice, which was to stay home from school, but students should not be put in a position where they either go to school and feel uncomfortable and are therefore unlikely to be able to focus on learning, or stay home and miss a day of learning.

Now, I should say that I am inclined to believe the school’s principal when he says the idea came from the student council, and therefore I am not suggesting that the dress-up day was some devious design of the LGBT movement to make elementary students comfortable with crossdressing and blurred gender identities. I am also not suggesting that Tippecanoe was the first school to ever have such a day as part of its spirit week activities; I am sure it was not. Neither of these things, however, make the facts any less disturbing.

Perhaps the most astute observations on this event that I have found come in an article posted on Catholic Online, which I feel worthy to quote at length:

There does not seem to be any specific evidence that the day represents a deliberate effort by agents of the homosexual equivalency movement or the gender identity movement to undermine the concept of gender as a given within the minds of impressionable children.

Rather this appears to be the innocent design of enthusiastic, fun-loving school kids, supported by their school’s administration.

Yet, this is a troubling sign of a growing problem. When children conceive of “Gender Bender Day” as a normal part of their planning routine for spirit week, and responsible adults think so little as to rubber-stamp the event, shrugging and saying “it’s not illegal,” then we see just how far the problem has gone.

There is a Gender Identity or Gender Expression Movement which is actively seeking recognition in law of some new right to choose one’s gender. Already, the homosexual equivalency movement and the gender identity movement have gone so far in their efforts to change the culture that nobody thinks twice about cross-dressing children as part of school-sponsored activity.

We need to maintain vigilance in our parental oversight of the schools we send our children to.

I don’t think my Catholic friends will mind if I say “Amen” to that.

The parent who suggested the day might as well be called Transgender Day, Deidre Hernandez, also stated that she had never before complained about a school event, even though, “Every time something is bothering a liberal or an atheist, they come forward to complain. And somebody always has a problem with Easter or Christmas.” Ms. Hernandez certainly has a point there; those in the ACLU and on the liberal wing of the political spectrum seem to be all about protecting anyone from feeling uncomfortable at the sight of a Bible or the utterance of a prayer, but apparently there is no concern about encouraging elementary students to dress as the opposite gender or exposing them to adult males doing so very explicitly. My fellow WordPress blog katenews2day opined, “America is experiencing a double whammy – its public schools are not only producing illiterate graduates and drop-outs in massive number every year, its public schools are becoming boot camps in turning Americans into either gay or confused gender in the future.” She may have a point.

February 20, 2013

No scientific support

On February 15 My Christian Daily ran a piece entitled, “Panel calls therapy for gays ‘a human rights violation’.” The article was a brief overview of the issue of conversion therapy and a meeting of a panel of individuals for what was advertised as “the first ever UN discussion on the legalities, ethics, and science behind the movement promoting [efforts to change sexual orientation].” The meeting, though, was held at Church Center, a known gathering place for “left-wing groups” and not on UN property. Further, according to the article, the event was “sponsored by non-government organizations, and did not feature representatives of any UN member states.”

The controversy over conversion therapy is not new. In fact, just a few months ago California passed a law banning conversion therapy for minors. That law, however, is on hold, following an injunction from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals until the matter can be argued before the courts.

The premise behind conversion therapy is that individuals can be “converted” from homosexual to heterosexual with therapy. The American Psychological Association says on its web site that there is “no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective.” The APA also says that “the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons.”

On the other side of the argument are groups like the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which argue that the conversion therapy is legitimate, safe and effective. Exodus International used to advocate the therapy as well, though its president, Alan chambers, made news last summer upon announcing that Exodus would no longer use the therapy because it “sets the person seeking therapy up for failure by giving him or her unrealistic expectations.” Chambers told the Gay Christian Network last summer than 99.9 percent of all of the people he has met through Exodus International are still attracted to individuals of the same sex and still struggle with temptation.

Never wanting to miss out on an opportunity to address a hot-button social issue that has nothing to do with its founding, the Southern Poverty Law Center has stated that conversion therapy “is a dangerous practice based on the premise that people can change their sexual orientation, literally ‘converting’ from gay to straight.” Of course the SPLC also calls many conservative Christian groups “hate groups” because of their “intolerance.”

ReligiousTolerance.org is “a multi-faith group” claiming to include members that are Atheist, Agnositc, Christian, Wiccan and Zen Buddhist,” and includes on its web site a study of studies, purporting that conversion therapy fails 99.5% of the time.

Now, what point am I trying to make? First of all, there is no therapy known to man that is always effective. Secondly, I doubt that there is any way to accurately measure the “success” of conversion therapy. After all, if someone “cured” if they never engage in homosexual behavior, or only if they never think about engaging in homosexual behavior? Temptation, may I remind you, is not sin. Third, no one is suggesting that homosexuals should be forced to endure conversion therapy. If an individual wants conversion therapy he or she must surely be unhappy with the homosexual tendencies he/she is feeling. Why would we argue against, even suggest banning, a form of therapy that someone wants? After all, people go to therapy to address all kinds of behaviors they do not wish to continue, from smoking to shoplifting to fill-in-the-blank-with-the-troubling-behavior-of-your-choice.

So part of my point is that it makes no sense to ban conversion therapy, and any attempt to do so should be considered a violation of a number of constitutionally-protected rights.

What I found most interesting about the article on the “UN discussion” though was that Rebecca Jordan-Young, a researcher at Barnard College who addressed the group and was “deeply in agreement with the premise of [the] meeting, that sexual orientation change efforts are in fact a human rights violation and a problem” also said that no one should use science to defend such a position. Why? “We don’t really know how sexual orientation develops” she said, despite the fact that many people “think of sexual orientation as something that’s fundamentally biologically driven….” Specifically, Jordan-Young stated that there is no modern scientific research to support such a position.

So, if sexual orientation is not a “just born that way” issue, then it cannot be a civil rights issue. What then should it be? Maybe something more like religion, Jordan-Young suggested, “the freedom of conviction, the freedom of one’s conscience….”

I would actually be comfortable with that analogy, because, while I believe that homosexuality is a sin, I do not believe that it should be criminalized. (I do, however, believe that homosexual marriage should not be permitted). If someone wants to think that homosexuality is okay, he or she has that right. If someone wants to engage in homosexual or bisexual behavior, he or she also has that right. But insisting on redefining marriage based on that thought–conviction, even, if you want to go that far–would not be permissible…for exactly the same reasons that I have argued here before: if we are going to redefine marriage based on what one group of people thinks or believes, we have absolutely no defense against redefining it how any other group may think or believe.

What’s more, the idea that homosexuality is a “freedom of conscience” issue throws wide open the door to allow conversion therapy and efforts to persuade individuals that homosexuality is wrong. After all, the freedom of speech protects my right to try to persuade anyone else to believe the same way I do, whether my ideas are popular of “scientifically verifiable” or not. Even the UN’s own Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief said last October that member states should protect the freedom of religion as well as the right of individuals to convert to another religion and “the right to try to convert others by means of non-coercive persuasion.”

And Toiko Kleppe, the UN’s senior counsel on LGBT issues at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the sole UN representative at the gathering mentioned at the start of this entry, stated that conversion therapy is “unscientific…potentially harmful…and definitely a violation of human rights” before also saying that such therapy would not be a human rights violation “if the patient was able to give informed consent to the therapy.”

Therein lies the rub…the opponents of conversion therapy are making waves and drawing attention to an issue that does not even exist. No one that I know of or have ever heard of is suggesting forced therapy for homosexuals. I do not know of anyone that would condone such practice. No intelligent person wants to go back to the United States of the 1920s when states passed laws permitting forced sterilization of the mentally handicapped, and I do not know any intelligent person that wants to make homosexuality illegal or force conversion therapy on anyone.

So…look beyond the headlines, because usually those who are screaming the loudest are spinning the story for their own benefit. The UN rep makes headlines for saying that conversion therapy is a human rights violation, but little attention is given to her statement that it is not a violation when consent is given. A college researcher tells the group that conversion therapy is a human rights violation, but her statement that sexual orientation is not an innate quality people are born with is ignored.

August 2, 2012

“A Culture of Hate”?

Unless you live in a remote location with no access to television or Internet (which you obviously do not, since you are reading this!) you surely knew that yesterday was proclaimed “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” by former Arkansas governor, GOP presidential candidate and current FOX News contributor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee launched the idea after the media circus surrounding Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy’s comments confirming that he and his (privately held) company support the biblical definition of marriage, and thereby do not support homosexual marriage. I addressed this issue already in a previous post [see “Tolerance (Again)”] so I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about Chick-fil-A directly. Rather, I have to address another example of intolerance and, in fact, ignorance, announced to the world today on The Huffington Post.

Noah Michelson, editor of HuffPost Gay Voices, posted a column today entitled “Chick-fil-A: This Is Not a First Amendment Issue.” Now, I want to begin by saying that, given his position, it will not come as a surprise to you that Mr. Michelson and I disagree on the topic of gay marriage. However, I am not even going to address that, specifically. Instead, I need to address several specific comments Michelson makes in his post.

Note first of all that he states early on, “I fully support [Dan] Cathy’s right to say whatever he wants (and, in fact, so does the ACLU).” On this, we–Mr. Michelson, the ACLU, and I–agree. I support Mr. Cathy’s right to say that he supports the biblical definition of marriage, and I support Mr. Michelson’s right to say that he does not. As I have stated in this space before, the right to state our opinions, whether or not they are popular, whether or not many others will agree, and, indeed, whether or not they are even correct, is a large part of what makes America great. And the freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment.

Why then, does Michelson argue that this is not a First Amendment issue? He feels so strongly that it is not that he began his column saying that if he heard one more person state that the Chick-fil-A brouhaha was a First Amendment issue, “I’m going to jump out of one of the Huffington Post’s fifth-floor windows and swan dive into oncoming traffic.”

So how does Michelson go about suggesting that Cathy’s statement, Chick-fil-A’s position, and Huckabee’s day of support is not a First Amendment issue? By suggesting that all of the above is actually hate speech. Immediately after stating that he supports Cathy’s right to say whatever he wants, Michelson writes, “But just because someone can say something doesn’t mean they should — or that we should celebrate him or her for doing so, especially when what they’re saying is, at its core, promoting a culture of hate against a group of people.”

Wow! Promoting a culture of hate? By openly and unashamedly stating that he supports the biblical definition of marriage–meaning that marriage is between one man and one woman–Dan Cathy is promoting a culture of hate? Against whom? Apparently, according to Michelson, against any gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered individual. Apparently it is promoting hate to say that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but it is not promoting hate to say that marriage–as it has been defined for the entirety of human history–should be redefined so that men can marry men, women can marry women, or any one of however many other combinations there may be within the LGBT community.

Unfortunately, though, Mr. Michelson does not stop there. He continues, and in doing so he plunges headlong into the uninformed and in-no-way-accurate suggestion that homosexuality is the equivalent of race, or that the denial of the right for homosexuals to marry is the equivalent of supporting female slavery. Find that hard to believe? Read his column for yourself. Furthermore, Michelson claims that Cathy’s and Chick-fil-A’s financial support of organizations that support traditional marriage is the equivalent of donating “millions of dollars to white supremacist organizations.”

Again, I have argued here before that sexual preference is in no way equivalent to race. Our race is genetic; we cannot change it. And while I do not agree that sexual preference is in one’s DNA, even if I were to grant, for sake of argument, that it is, sexual activity is still a choice; the color of one’s skin is not.

Michelson isn’t finished yet, though. He continues by stating that those of us (and I say “us” because I am in the category of people to whom he is referring) who support the biblical definition of marriage, ” still thinks [sic] that it’s OK to treat us like we are, at best, just not quite as worthy to have all the rights afforded straight or cis-gendered people or, at worst, just plain evil.” Now, I don’t even know what “cis-gendered” means, and neither does dictionary.com, so maybe it is a typo in Michelson’s post, or perhaps it is some sort of slang I have never seen, but it is safe to state that it somehow refers to those in the LGBT community. And the truth is, Mr. Michelson, I think you are every bit as “worthy” of the right to marry as I am, or as anyone else is–just so long as you do it within the legally defined limits of marriage. And as for evil, that’s just not true. I cannot speak for everyone, of course, but I certainly do not consider homosexuals, or those who support the redefinition of marriage, to be evil. I consider them to be misguided, yes, and even wrong. But they are no more evil than I am. After all, Scripture makes it quite clear that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and that little word “all” includes me, too. It may be cliche, but I hate the sin, not the sinner.

Oh, and speaking of Scripture, that is the next target in Michelson’s piece: “Many of these statements are bolstered by religious arguments using the Bible as ammunition, but, as it’s been pointed out time and again, the Bible demands we do or don’t do a lot of things that we no longer do or don’t do (like that we should own slaves and we shouldn’t eat popcorn shrimp), and Jesus himself never uttered a single word about being queer (and if he wanted us all to be “traditionally married” so badly, you’d think the guy himself would have gotten married).”

Okay, one step at a time here. The Bible, specifically in the Old Testament, does contain a lot of instructions that the Israelites were commanded to follow that we no longer need to, both because we are no longer under the Law, and because of improvements in preparing food that make laws against eating popcorn shrimp no longer necessary. Next, Jesus never explicitly referenced homosexuality, but He did say, in Matthew 19:4, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?'” That’s a pretty clear embrace of God’s design for marriage. Furthermore, the Bible is explicitly clear in several places that homosexuality is a sin (Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26-27 among others) and Jesus never refuted that; everything He ever said was consistent with every other portion of Scripture.

Michelson continues by saying, “When you buy food from Chick-fil-A, you’re basically saying, “Here, take this money and see to it that queer people can not only not get married, but that they also can’t adopt, can be fired simply for their sexuality and/or gender identity and continue to live in a society where they are regularly terrorized, mutilated, murdered and driven to suicide.” Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. First of all, it’s not as if every penny that Chick-fil-A makes goes to groups that support traditional marriage and/or oppose gay marriage. Second, supporting traditional marriage is not the equivalent of supporting terror, mutilation, or murder. I suspect Mr. Michelson would be hard pressed to find a single group that Chick-fil-A supports that explicitly or even discreetly supports or in any way does anything but oppose violence, harassment or intimidation of homosexuals.

So, sorry to say Mr. Michelson, but you’re wrong–there’s just no other way to say it. Supporting traditional marriage and advocating violence toward homosexuals are not the same thing. Opposing gay marriage and hating gay people is not the same thing. Eating at Chick-fil-A or contributing financially to groups that support traditional marriage and supporting or rejoicing over violence toward homosexuals such as you suggest at the end of your article is not the same thing.

So just how is, exactly, that those who hold a position different from yours are promoting a culture of hate? That’s a bold and dangerous accusation to make, and I’d like an apology.

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