Monthly Archives: July 2011

“Biblical” Divorce and Homosexuality

I’ve long struggled with the church’s stance on same sex marriage myself, so I was interested to see this article by Jonathan Dudley.  While in no way do I agree with everything Mr. Dudley has ever said on the topic (or others)..some of the things here I most definitely DO agree with. One of them being the issue of divorce. The bible very clearly states that divorce is wrong:

Jeremiah 3:1, “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers – would you now return to me?” declares the Lord.

 Malachi 2:16, “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

 Matthew 5:31-32, “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

 Matthew 19:8,  Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

 Luke 16:18,  “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.  And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? “

 Mark 10:11-12, He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Yet..the divorce rate among Christians is exactly the same as that among non-Christians. Why? I’ve heard differing opinions on the validation of divorce. “It was a culture thing back then..culture has changed”, “that was Old Testament..the New Testament is all about forgiveness and redemption through Jesus..the old laws are not in effect” (guess they are ignoring the New Testament scriptures themselves..and if God is “the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” how could He change his mind on that? And then there is “Yes you left your husband/wife unscripturally, but there is forgiveness and renewal in the blood of Jesus. Man is not meant to be alone.”

When I remarried, I got attacked by someone in the church (I’ve since parted ties with her) who proclaimed loudly (via Facebook) that it was wrong to do could I pick and choose which scriptures I followed? And..I have to agree with her..the bible is very clear on the issue of divorce and remarriage. Some people share her views at my church but most were very supportive of my remarriage, excited even at what “God had brought together”. What then of homosexuality? Why is divorce/remarriage accepted in the church but not that?

If I am an “adulteress” and “unclean” for remarrying..according to the bible..why is that “sexual sin” any less than the “sexual sin” of homosexuality?  If all sins are the same. And if even thinking of sinning is the same as the actual act. Are those with homosexual feelings born that way? Or do they choose their path? That’s a silly question I think. We ALL choose our paths regardless of what goes on in the womb. We all choose to either act or not act on our sexual feelings. Now where those sexual feelings come from or which sex they are projected towards, I believe that is something that you do NOT get to choose. Yes some have the “college experience” where you “dabble” and “experiment” but that isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the love, the chemistry and desire you have for someone else…is it better to be alone and long for the companionship and family? Or to admit what you were created to be? If God “knew us in our womb, created us perfectly” and “doesn’t make mistakes”…did he create the homosexual person to desire the same sex? Did he create a “weird” personality in me? Did he instill in Einstein his theories long before birth? (though..there are differing opinions on whether Einsten actually accepted this as a gift from God, or pretended to for the sake of one of his wives who was a believer) Did he purposefully create the child with Downs or the conjoined twins that way? The church says the “imperfect” happenings in utero are a product of “living in a broken world, full of sin”. But they also say “He is in control, nothing happens without His hand in it”. Which is it? Did he create me the way I am? Was any of it a mistake? Is it a mistake because someone else claims it to be so but was really His intention all along? Do we really know His plan for us or do we only know someone else’s interpretation of His plan for us?

My dear cousin is getting married tomorrow. Her and her girlfriend have lived together for many years and have to travel outside of their home state to obtain a legal marriage. Would it have been better for them to “live in sin” unmarried? Or to never live together at all? Or to never have dated? I think….no. And I may get bashed for this by my Christian brothers and sisters. is what I believe. She has found companionship and love..acceptance and trust. She just wants to celebrate that. And I fervently pray that their special day is filled with joy. That their life together one of peace, adventure and unconditional love. Unmarred by those with differing opinions. Standing strong in the waves of discontent that are splashed upon them  in the name of “God”.

And no..I do not feel convicted or condemned for my divorce and remarriage. I do not choose to follow those verses. Is that wrong? I guess it all depends on who you ask. Whose interpretation of the Bible you believe. Until I learn Hebrew and can decipher the original scripts myself..I’m not going to live my life believing I am “covered in sin”.

Enough about me..let’s read what Mr. Dudley has to say…

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Editor’s Note: Jonathan Dudley is the author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics.

By Jonathan Dudley, Special to CNN

Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven’t read their Bibles closely enough.

Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards.

I don’t doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them “unnatural.”

Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Few Christians would answer that question with a “yes.”

In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.

I also don’t doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition.

But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian named Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D. — merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors — he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the church.

How does that sit with “family values” activism today?

Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s “pro-family” activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.

The community opposed to gay marriage has also departed from the Christian tradition on another issue at the heart of its social agenda: abortion.

Unbeknownst to most lay Christians, the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed life begins at conception.

Although he admitted some uncertainty on the matter, the hugely influential 4th and 5th century Christian thinker Saint Augustine wrote, “it could not be said that there was a living soul in [a] body” if it is “not yet endowed with senses.”

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint and a giant of mediaeval theology, argued: “before the body has organs in any way whatever, it cannot be receptive of the soul.”

American evangelicals, meanwhile, widely opposed the idea that life begins at conception until the 1970s, with some even advocating looser abortion laws based on their reading of the Bible before then.

It won’t do to oppose gay marriage because it’s not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional.

And then there’s the topic of divorce. Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

A possible exception is made only for unfaithfulness.

The community most opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example, featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for “adultery,” “emotional and physical neglect” and “abandonment and abuse.”

The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: “It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies.”

Indeed it is.

On the other hand, it’s not at all difficult for a community of Christian leaders, who are almost exclusively white, heterosexual men, to advocate interpretations that can be very impractical for a historically oppressed minority to which they do not belong – homosexuals.

Whether the topic is hair length, celibacy, when life begins, or divorce, time and again, the leaders most opposed to gay marriage have demonstrated an incredible willingness to consider nuances and complicating considerations when their own interests are at stake.

Since graduating from seminary, I no longer identify with the evangelical community of my youth. The community gave me many fond memories and sound values but it also taught me to take the very human perspectives of its leaders and attribute them to God.

So let’s stop the charade and be honest.

Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Dudley.


God’s promises..but did He really promise this?

I used to work with a woman who left her job to follow God’s plan for her life in the Mission field. Then..she has a baby with special needs and her world is turned upside down. Following her blog, you see the ups and downs of being a Mom to a special-needs little boy. A Mom who is so desperately holding on to what God has promised her..but then..has he? I love her honesty, and hope that she doesn’t mind the copy/paste action here..

Faith and all that

I’m starting over a Bible study that I got half-way through several years ago and never finished. Believing God. Not believing in God. Believing God. That He wants to bless us and all that. That if we have faith that He will heal us, then He will heal us because we have faith.

And I know Abraham had faith and it was credited to him as righteousness. But… Abraham had something I don’t. A specific promise from God. God told him he would have a son, so Abraham believed (although it seemed impossible) that he would. God told Noah that it would rain, so Noah believed (although it seemed impossible) that it would rain. You know?

I mean, I know that the bible has lots of promises for us. It says in general that God works out all things for good, that He is always with us, and on and on. So, in general, I believe those things. But… because of my life experience and the experiences of those around me, I don’t think God’s picture of good always looks like our picture.

I had lots of people who, after hearing about our pregnancy, came up to me in the last months before Patrick’s birth and told me with absolute certainty that they just wanted me to know that they knew Patrick was going to be born perfectly healthy without any issues and that they were just believing God for that.

Um. Ok. Thanks? I really didn’t know what to do with that then. I knew they just wanted me to know they were praying for me and wanted to tell me something to make me feel better. Which was nice, I guess. But… I mean, obviously the thing that they believed with absolute certainty didn’t happen. I know too many people to have believed God would do something that they wanted to happen and it hasn’t happened the way they wanted it to.

I do believe God. I believe that He wants good for me. And I believe He is healing Patrick. Quicker than the doctors thought. It’s just… differently than I would have wanted… and slower… and sometimes agonizingly slow and not the way I wanted.

So I want Patrick get his trach out by this fall. Great. SO… I should just have faith and believe God will do it and just expect it to happen?

I mean, I haven’t heard a specific promise from God that that’s His plan for Patrick and me.

Not in a loud booming voice.

Not in a whisper.

Not even in a stirring in my heart.

So really it’s just something I want. Actually, I want him to get his trach out today. I don’t want to suction anymore. I don’t want to worry about trach care anymore. And I want to take the kid swimming. And to the beach. But I think it would be foolish to sit here and say, “Ok, God, today is the day – I’m believing you that today is the day you are going to heal Patrick and magically remove his trach. I’m believing. I’ll just sit here and wait for the doctor’s to call and give us the go ahead.”

That’s not believing God. Because God didn’t tell me that today was the day for that.

That would be like me saying “Ok, honey, I’m trusting and believing that you will bring me home a diamond bracelet when you come home from work today just like you said.” He would look at me like I was crazy and say, ”Uh… when did I say that?”

Am I making any sense? I feel like I’m rambling and going in circles.

All I’m saying is… I’m having a hard time understanding this concept of believing God for specific blessings in your life… and how it’s different from trying to manipulate God into giving you what you want with a bunch of rhetoric.

And I do know that God does sometimes give us very specific direction on what His will is. He’s done it for me before. But I just don’t think we should put words in God’s mouth if He hasn’t given us that direction.

Ok, I’m done rambling.


Job Journey #3 – Video Rentals!

..from Long John Silver’s to (can’t remember the name) privately owned Video rental store. I got the job mostly because of my (then) charming personality and (then) cute teenage physique. It may have had something to do with the fact that I was dating the owner’s nephew..but of course that’s purely coincidence.

Side story here: the nephew (and via genetics of course also the Aunt and Uncle) hailed from Pakistan. Not directly, they had just lived in England. England apparently has a very large population of Pakistani. Who knew? So they had these adorable Pakistani/English accents that were just wonderful. Until I visited them at home. Rahim (the nephew, aka my boyfriend) lived with his Aunt and Uncle so he could “get an American education, and live the American dream.” Though I’m suspicious of that now, looking back. English educations are significantly better..but maybe that’s just the private sector? Moving along..I would visit Rahim at the home of his Aunt and Uncle. Mostly we would go there after tennis practice (we were on the same High School team). So I would walk in sporting my tennis shorts and a tank top..and his Aunt would scream something at her children, followed by them running to their rooms. Dodging her death-glares, the first time I encountered this I whispered “What??” to Rahim. His response? “She’s telling the children “do not look at the white woman! go to your rooms now!!!”   We retreated quickly to his room to listen to music and hang out. her standards apparently I was not a “nice young lady” (I’m paraphrasing for her to keep this PG) because I showed arms and legs..but mostly because I was in a room alone with her nephew. Really, I’m surprised she didn’t check my virginity on the way out. He was a perfect gentleman though, and I was a lady despite what she inferred.  We didn’t date long ..we both just sort of ended up going separate ways.

Back to work: Best job for a teenager to have, hands down. Or..up if you’re doing the wave in the wake of it’s awesomeness. I watched movies and occasionally waited on the 3 or 4 customers we had per day. We did get pre-release copies to view at home, to report back and give him our opinions on. We got to keep all of those because they were stamped with the big “NOT FOR SALE, PREVIEW ONLY” nastiness across the front. Part of the job I didn’t like: the “adult” room. I wasn’t allowed in there and I was completely ok with that. Skeevy folks ventured back there, only to return 30 minutes later looking flushed and trying to discreetly hand me a movie like it was a soda from a convenience store. “nothing to see here folks, just getting my soda…” but the whole time their eyes were darting around the store, outside to the parking lot, sometimes they would flash up at me but quickly back down again…”who is looking? who is seeing me buy this? Does this girl know what it is? She has to! This is embarrassing”. I’ve never worked at a convenience store but I’m pretty sure that’s not the reaction you get when ringing up a soda.

Aside from that part…good job. At night I would work in the store alone (not the best part of town..looking back..but I was never afraid. The fearlessness of youth 😉 ) I would turn the music up really loud and much so that I would get looks from the “gangstas” walking by. I say “gangstas” in parentheses because this is Brazoria County here..not Houston’s 5th Ward. No one ever messed with me though. I think they all thought I was a little “off” in the head. They came in a lot, right before closing. Walk around not really looking at anything, trying to watch me from the corner of their eye. Trying to look in the security mirror so they could look at me without “looking” at me..sometimes venture to the adult section..most of the time just leave without getting anything. Rahim would come a lot if I worked in the evenings. I think he was worried. So he would help me close up and walk me to my car. Unless his Uncle came by, then he would hide because he wasn’t supposed to be there.

Good job, but the busines was not booming. He had to end up letting everyone go and close up the store. Last I heard, Rahim was working at his brother’s convenience store in Houston. I have no idea what happened to the Aunt, Uncle..or their many children that I corrupted with my barren legs.

Farm Dog: different in Korea than here in Texas

Came across this article today regarding the cancellation of a dog meat festival near Seoul:

“Animal rights activists put up such a stink that the organizers, from the Korea Dog Farmers’ Association, said there was no way they could go through with the event.”

There is actually a Korean Dog Farmer’s Association? I lived the majority of my life believing the whole “Koreans/Chinese eat dog” thing to be a myth, Urban Legend. Until I met A…

One day in the lab we were talking about something random as we tend to do..and the topic floats around to a local Chinese restaurant. It had recently closed down and someone said it was because there were no more dogs in the neighborhood (what with Pat Sajak’s “spay/neuter” campaign success of course). Then they realized that A was standing there and had been listening. Background: A is Chinese..moved here as a young adult and has lived in America for about 25 years now.  Everyone involved in the conversation got very quiet..afraid that they had hurt her feelings. About a minute of awkward silence ensued…crickets were chirping and a door squeaked somewhere down the hall as it caught a random indoor breeze. Until A says “Actually, dog is very good.”    …..  . …

Here we are not wanting to hurt her feelings by insinuating they DO actually eat dog in China and her reply is “Actually, dog is very good.” I love her so much.

Anyway, back to the article:

“Organizers of the festival had wanted to showcase the positive side of the dog meat industry in South Korea, where there are about 600 farms that raise dogs for meat, according to Ann.”

Where have I BEEN?? Apparently living under a rock. So, if anyone else was cohabitating there with you go. It is NOT a myth..or Urban is a fact. Dogs are food. Not fish, little Nemo..but dogs. Who knew? Well, I suppose the folks that run any of the 600 farms in South Korea may have had an inkling. So the next question of course is…how do I feel about this?

When I was in high school my mom and step-dad raised goats. They had a couple dozen at the time, and some would have actually had triplets that made the local newspaper (very small town).  My step-dad was from Louisiana where they pretty much eat everything (yes I am generalizing swamp town, LA). He once ran over a rattlesnake, stopped, reversed the truck and picked it up. Fried it that evening for dinner. You could peer into his pot of turtle soup and spot the shell bobbing around. Same for squirrel gumbo except instead of shell, it would be tiny skulls that the meat had fallen off of. So of course it would reason that he had a hankering for baby goat. Apparently it is good on the pit. I couldn’t bring myself to try it. It’s hard to dissassociate yourself from the “pet” image. If it weren’t for Charlotte, Wilbur would have made it to the dinner table as well, but “Some Pig”  apparently transcends “food” and suddenly it’s “pet”. If I lived in a society that did not see dogs as pets..could I eat them? Of course. But I don’t. I live in America. More than that, I live in Texas where almost everyone has a pet or working farm/hound/coon/hunting/cattle dog. As a pet. That helps them get dinner a lot of times, but still..a pet. So I don’t think I could ever knowingly eat dog meat. I don’t think less of anyone who does, it’s just a different culture. If I were to visit, and someone asked “Hey there, would you like a dog taco?” I would probably politely decline. But then again, I am a huge proponent of “Intestinal Adventures while Traveling” …not a book (yet) but an idea that when traveling one MUST indulge in the local flavors to get a true experience. I probably would try it at least but it all depends on the breed… 😉

“As William Saletan wrote in Slate a few years back:

In the country, they raise “meat dogs,” also known as “junk dogs” and “lower-grade” dogs. But you don’t become a “lower-grade” dog by flunking an IQ test. You’re just born in the wrong place. Then you’re slaughtered and fed to a man who thinks he’s humane because he pampers a Golden Retriever that has half your brains”