Saturday, December 18, 2010

DADT is Dead!

In a historic vote a bipartisan majority voted to end a discriminatory policy that has been in place for seventeen years.  By a 65-31 vote, that included eight Republican senators, Congress has delivered a final blow to this policy that was instituted in 1993 by Congress and President Clinton -- in many ways as an interim measure.  In the past 17 years thousands of gay and lesbian service men and women have been forced to live secret lives as they have tried to serve their country.  At the same time about 13,000 service members have been discharged from the military because their sexual identity had become known.  Among that number were numerous language experts, including many of its Arabic speaking personnel. 

Yes, there is a conservative backlash brewing, but this is a policy that was on last legs anyway.  If Congress hadn't overturned it, the Courts were about to do so, and the Courts wouldn't have given the government as much leeway in implementing the change.  So, this is actually in the better interests of an orderly transition.  My hope is that the military will see this vote and suspend all pending cases against gays and lesbians, and also begin the process of preparing the troops -- most of whom I think will be quite able to adjust, even as troops had to adjust in the 1940s to integration of the military.  Besides, President Obama campaigned on this issue, promising to see it overturned.  That promise has been kept.  Later this week, then, he will sign this bill into law as a victory for justice in this land!

Back to the reason why the conservative backlash will ultimately fall flat is that a growing majority of young adults no longer see homosexuality as a deviancy.  Even a conservative Christian analysis of this trend (the Barna sponsored book UnChristian,   makes the point that one of the key reasons why young adults are rejecting the church is that they see it as anti-gay.  Well, if they're rejecting the church for that reason, do you think they'd want to join a military that continued to embrace an archaic viewpoint? 

I think that the other reason why the protests will fall flat is that our military effectiveness won't be impaired.  We'll not see troops dying or being maimed in battle, as John McCain and the Marine Commandant claim, because of this policy (this is just pure fear-mongering).  If that happens it's because the military leadership has failed to properly implement a policy that works just fine in the militaries of most of our allies!

31 comments:

Glenn said...

Amen!!

Gary said...

God hasn't changed His mind about the sinfulness of homosexuality. Neither has God changed His mind about damning those, like Cornwall and Glenn, who endorse what God has condemned. Both of you can anticipate Hell, because that is where you're going.

I would also expect God to judge both our government and our military harshly. Cornwall thinks that God wouldn't do that, but He will because He is a God of justice. May God administer justice to and withhold mercy from all those who call good what God has called evil. Your blood be upon your own heads.

Sharon said...

Gary, why would you want to believe in that kind of God? Many things are sinful--why do you get to chose what sin is worse than others? Do you condemn divorced people so harshly?
Relax and enjoy life.

John said...

Gary,

I have a series of questions for you if you would have the time or inclination to respond?

1. Have you always been so adamant in your opposition to gay rights? If not, how has your opposition changed over your life?

2. Do you have any relatives or friends who have disclosed their homosexuality?

3. Have you ever had a negative interaction with a gay person, which was the result of something they did or said to you or in your presence or to someone close to you?

4. Did you think as poorly of gays before you were born again/saved or did your think worse of them after you were born again/saved?

5. Why do you believe that homosexuality is the worst of all sins?

6. How would it affect your beliefs if you were to find that there were homosexuals that were saved and went to heaven?

7. Is there a limit to God's command to love your enemies? Or put in a different light, how do you square the mercy of a god who pleads for forgiveness for those who scorned, tortured and killed him on a cross, with the mercilessness of a god who would condemn a man who loves another man to eternal damnation with no hope of forgiveness just because the object of his love was another man and not a woman?

8. Is it possible for God's mercy to be more limited than mine?

I just want to have a rational dialogue with you about why you have such strong beliefs regarding what you perceive to be other peoples sins. I know you are as aware as I about Paul's admonition that we are each to work out own salvation with fear and loathing, so your fierce opposition to all things on behalf of homosexuals leads me to wonder at its source. And the fact that your opposition is so deeply rooted in the same bible that teaches about forgiveness and non-judgement leads me to question why such a strong Christian would be so focused on the portions of the bible which may touch on homosexuality while setting aside the more numerous biblical teachings about mercy, forgiveness and non-judgment.

So if you will and you can take the time I want to know more about why you believe as you do.

John

Brian said...

I felt pride in my country yesterday. This is a positive step for civil rights.

I suspect that Gary is as sincere in his understanding of how the scriptures are authoritive as I am in my understanding. I believe he is in error, as he believes me to be. Surely, however, God will not cast away someone who's honestly doing the best they can. What if I'm wrong? Will God cast me into hell for misunderstanding?

I pray for, and proclaim, a God who is much more compassionate than I am. If Gary is correct, God is less compassionate than the average murderer. After all, murders are rarely commited over honest heart-felt opinions.

I rejoice that yesterday our representatives decided to throw out the old wineskins. Let us drink our fill of new wine!

Gary said...

John,

1. There is no such thing as "gay rights". God does not grant people the right to be "gay" anymore than he grants them the right to be adulterers or thieves.

I am more opposed to homosexuals, and what they want, than I once was because of the increasing acceptance they have found in society. That acceptance makes them a greater problem.

2. No, not to my knowledge.

3. Yes, several times.

4. I have been opposed to them since I learned that God condemns them. That was before I was saved.

5. I don't necessarily believe homosexuality is the worst of all sins. It happens to be the one that people are saying that it isn't a sin, and demanding acceptance for.

6. If a homosexual gets saved, they must repent of their homosexuality, along with their other sins, and try to live holy. That means they will admit that homosexuality is sinful and not something to be proud of, or to demand acceptance for. No one who contends that homosexuality is good, or that "God made them that way" is saved.

7. Loving my enemies does not mean that I endorse their sin, or deny its existence, which is what is being demanded of me. One of your problems is that you refuse to believe what God has said, in the Bible, about homosexuality. That's the same problem the sodomites have.

8. Yes. God damns people who I might not. I have had relatives and friends who died in their sins and are now in Hell. They deserve to be in Hell, as do I, but I might have spared them from the justice they deserve, if I had the opportunity.

I would like to think that if people were demanding that thieves had "rights" and demanding that I consider them to be moral, when I know very well that they are not, I would have the same response to them as I do to the people advocating for the homosexuals.

Gary said...

Brian,

Your views are unBiblical.

John said...

Gary,

Thanks for responding. I hope we can keep up the dialog.

1. Can we agree that "Gay rights" are not from God but are items which our government grants to us and which it attempt protect and secure from interference by itself and by other people? This is not to say whether the government is wise to grant particular rights, only that they are political and civil in nature and not theological in nature.

If we can agree on that understanding, can we also agree that the government has no business monitoring who we love? And if we are appropriately discrete and private, and not abusive, can we also agree that the government has no business monitoring how we express our love?

And just to make sure I understand the rest of your answer to this question, it appears that your opposition to gays became especially strong when you were taught that they were condemned by God which teaching came to you even before you were saved.

Finally, your opposition became even more strident as you witnessed homosexuals becoming increasingly accepted as full members of society, with more and more allies, and less an object of automatic scandal and rejection.

I am working this through in baby steps, making sure I understand your answers. I don't expect to change your mind, I just hope to better understand where you are coming from and why this aspect of these people who are not a part of your life causes you so much anger and distress.

John

John said...

Gary,

3. I am curious about the nature of your negative interactions with homosexuals. I can understand if this is too personal to share. (I have a dear friend who was abused as a boy, and it took many years before he could share this.) Were these interactions simply responses to your hostility?

John

Gary said...

John,

The government has no authority to grant rights to sexual perverts. And no, I would not agree that the government has no business monitoring who we have sex with. The government has the authority to prohibit incest, polygamy, pedophilia, and homosexuality.

Homosexuality is wrong because God says so. If God did not consider it immoral, I would have no reason to.

My negative interactions with homosexuals have occured on the streets and on the internet. On the street when I have been with some street preachers as they preached, and when I have protested at "gay rights" events.

John said...

Gary,

You said: "The government has no authority to grant rights to sexual perverts. And no, I would not agree that the government has no business monitoring who we have sex with. The government has the authority to prohibit incest, polygamy, pedophilia, and homosexuality."

I am sure that you have said more than you intended. If rights are granted and protected by the government, then you cannot say that the government CANNOT grant rights to a certain group of people. Of course it can. I think what you wanted to say is that the government cannot (or should not) grant people the right to engage in perversion. But that doesn't mean that those persons have no other rights.

Furthermore, your list of sexual regulations is off the mark. Recall that I said: "if we are appropriately discrete and private, and not abusive" he government has no business monitoring who we love or how we love them.

Pedophilia (sex between an adult and a child) is unlawful because it cannot be anything other than abusive. Incest (sex with a close relative) is unlawful for two reasons, one having to do with the inherently abuse which gives rise to very near family incest and the other reason having to do with the health reasons prohibiting procreation with relative with too near relatives. Polygamy (more than one lawful wife) has to do with who can enter into a state-sanctioned marriage, not with who one can love or have sex with. You left out rape and prostitution. But the same principles apply - such conduct is illegal because it is inherently abusive.

The fact remains that the government does not and cannot regulate how we have sex or with whom we have sex so long as the sex is not abusive to the participants. And I for one would not want that kind of interference in my life.

I just want to confirm that your negative interactions with homosexuals occurred in response to a provocation from you. I agree such is still negative, I just wanted to know if you had even been wronged by a homosexual without provocation.

John

John said...

Gary,

4. How did you come to understand that God condemns homosexuals before you were saved?

Did your saving experience lead you to understand that God was more compassionate and more merciful than you had previously understood? Or did it lead you to a clearer understanding of God's justice?

Did your saving experience lead you in your own interaction with people in general to want to be more compassionate or to be more just.

Someday we will have to talk about our disagreement over the content of God's justice, but right here I am assuming that as you use the term justice, you mean justice as you would define it and not necessarily as I would define it.

John

Gary said...

John,

Abuse is not the criteria for whether sex is moral. God alone defines morals. No one else has the authority to define it. God has said that fornication(sex between people who are not married) is a sin. Fornication can occur without any abuse. Both parties can fully consent, both parties can enjoy it and want to repeat it, but nevertheless, it is still immoral because God said it is.

The government does not have the authority to endorse what God has called immoral anymore than individuals do. And they place themselves in peril of God's judgment when they do.

When the homosexuals, or their enablers, face opposition to their goals, which they have from me at times, they usually become hostile. But their hostility has not prevented me from voicing my opposition to their wickedness. They need to be confronted and told that they are wrong, and I do that when I can.

Gary said...

4. I read the Bible.

John said...

Gary,

The issue was not what is moral but what is illegal. What the law regards as legal has nothing to do with what God regards as permissible or impermissible for God's followers.

What Jesus teaches about God's morality is what we Christians should be concerned about as regards our own behavior. But those who are not followers of Jesus are not bound by Jesus teaching, until they too are converted. When we try to follow Jesus teachings Christians are always going to disagree on what to do when there is a conflict between various teachings. For example, and meaning no disrespect, even you clearly feel released from his teachings on anger and abusive language and on forgiveness and love of enemies. And at the same time you clearly feel empowered to call out those whom you perceive to be violating God's laws. No one is perfectly obedient, we all fall short in our own way.

I can't imagine you want the government legislating morality. If that should happen then what is legally enforceable as moral will shift every time there is a change in party in office. And if an extremist Muslim majority should get elected, then you can look for Sharia to become the law of the land for awhile. And what if ultra liberal democrats gained a majority?

John

Let the government worry about criminal behavior and let our churches and our families teach about morality.

John said...

Gary,

4. Just reading the bible would not by itself had led you to conclude that you should embark on a sustained war against homosexuals and their civil rights as well as their place in the church. Something had to nurtured your focus in this regard. I suspect it was someone in the church you attended at the time, because it doesn't come from Jesus, whose teaching is all about love and forgiveness.

But you were certainly open to this teaching so it has become your own. What I am trying to understand is how you came to latch on to teachings about condemnation rather than forgiveness and to by pass all the teachings regarding love and forgiveness.

John

John said...

Gary,

5. As I understand you a major compulsion behind your opposition to homosexuals is their theological premise that homosexuality is not a sin when it seems as if it was a sin for thousands of years. You believe that what was once a sin is always a sin and the very attempt to reclassify homosexuality as not a sin is itself a sin. You are confident that God's laws remain fixed, now and forevermore.

I don't suppose you are unaware of all the laws which were at one time unquestioned but have long since been declared no longer binding on Christians. It is a hard task to discern God's will and disagreement is bound to occur.

John

John said...

Gary,

6. It would appear that you believe that God is only permitted to save those who have earned salvation? If this particular behavior can cost one's salvation, what about violations of Jesus explicit teachings from Matthew Chapter 5?

John

John said...

Gary,

You didn't respond to the core of query No. 7, that is squaring the incredible and indisputable forgiveness of Jesus on the cross, with the notion that God would condemn eternally someone whose sin was to love someone of the same gender. The forgiveness from the cross did not require repentance on the part of the forgiven nor were they required to agree that crucifying an innocent man is wrong before they were forgiven.

John

Gary said...

John,

You're making this more complicated than it has to be. There are only two important questions:
1. Is homosexuality immoral?
2. Is it wrong for individuals and governments to endorse immorality?

The answer to both questions, based on the Bible, is clearly yes. The sinfulness of homosexuality is clearly established in Scripture. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:26,27, I Corinthians 6:9-10, and there are other Scriptures that confirm it. And, there are several Scriptures which confirm that it is wrong to disagree with God about what He says is sin.

This is not hard to understand. The defenders of sin are trying to justify what they want. They will receive what they deserve from God.

John said...

Gary,

All of these issues that we are talking about demonstrate that the subject is very complicated. I am very familiar with the verses you cite and we could debate what they mean until we're blue in the face and not get a better understanding of each other. You and I already know what we believe about those scriptures and what we believe about the proper Christian approach to homosexuals.

My purpose in our dialog is to unmask the you and I so that we can see why you came to read those scriptures one way and I came to read them in a very different way. Almost as important to me is figuring out why this issue has come to be so important to both you and I. Neither one of is gay and neither one of us is aware of having any close relatives who are gay, and yet both of us, on opposite sides of the issue, have taken up the flag for this cause. So what motivated us and what led us to our respective sides on this issue. How come you and I can't just keep our own counsel on this matter and ignore the proponents and opponents - there are a host of other issues and a host of other ways we could actively live out our lives of faith- why do we choose this issue area to express ourselves?

We both have a deep and sincere belief that we are speaking as God wills, and we both believe that our positions are deeply scriptural. And we both think that the other's position is immoral and anti-scriptural. And neither of us would want to find ourselves aligned against God on this or any other issue, yet it appears that one of us is. Unless of course God cares little about rules governing human sexuality or about compassion, in which case you and I are doing little more here than playing a game of dialogical chess.

So yes, I think the subject is very complicated. Not why is our own position the only moral position - you are right, that is simple to explain, and in fact we could both make each other's argument - the complex question is why do we see each other's position as immoral?

John

Gary said...

John,

Your position on this matter is wrong because it is contrary to what the Bible says. Simple as that. Your pretending otherwise is futile. Every Scripture that deals with homosexuality contradicts you. You need to ask yourself why you are in rebellion against God about this, and about other things because this issue is a symtom of other problems you have with God.

John said...

Gary,

I beg to differ, the issue is not whether the government endorses conduct which is explicitly precluded by the bible. The government endorses (or takes no action to enforce) all manner of biblical violations, such as remarriage, the sale of pork for human consumption, working on the Sabbath, abortion, short hair on women and long hair on men, the presence of non-Judeo-Christian worship within our borders, keeping the Sabbath, respecting one's parents, adultery, hatred of one's enemies, etc, etc.

Our government is not supposed to legislate morality.

The questions we are considering have to do with how we as Christians are to behave towards each other and towards others who are not Christians.

John

Glenn said...

John,

In this case I think Gary might be right. You are making his doctrinal position more complicated than it really is. If I'm not mistaken, Gary's position on the sinfulness of homosexuality is rooted in biblical inerrancy. If one's presupposition is that the bible in the literal word of God and inerrant, then scripture is pretty clear and at least the act of homosexuality, in contrast to same-sex attraction, is unquestionably a sin. Now I obviously don't think biblical inerrancy is a logically defensible position to take for obvious reasons, but if I were to read the bible with an inerrancy mindset I too would have no choice but to argue that homosexuality is sinful.

I think your questions are centered around the more psychological aspects of Gary's position. In other words, I think you're asking why some people are so fixated on a particular sin and why they react so strongly to people who feel differently about that issue. After all, I would bet that most of Bob's posts are outside of what Gary would consider to be biblically correct, but the only topics that he responds to is Islam and homosexuality. I referenced a scientific study in Bob's previous post on DADT which suggests one possible answer to this question, but I'm not saying that it applies in Gary's case. I just don't think you're going to get a lot of introspection on his part which is what your questions would require.

John said...

Gary,

You are not responding to issues 6 and 7.

Are you saying that you will go no further with this dialog?

Joh

John said...

Glenn,

The problem with your statement is that biblical inerrancy mandates a conclusion that homosexual sex is a sin. There are many exegetes who would differ with that position based on the fact that the word homosexual doesn't appear in the bible, the argument that when reference is made to same gender sex it seems more concerned with male prostitutes and men who use them, and the rather strained argument that natural sex does not mean opposite gender sex but sexual conduct which run counter to one's true nature, whether that nature is heterosexual or homosexual.

But there is also the fact that scriptural injunctions which come into play on this issue are in conflict, leaving one to have to make a choice as to which scriptural approach one is going to take toward the issue, one which focuses on rules or one which is focused on grace and mercy. Or one could accept the teachings of Paul, that for Christians all is permitted but not all is beneficial, and we are each called I our own circumstances to discern the beneficial course of action. One could seize upon the words of Isaiah and Jesus as to eunuchs and the story in Acts of the Ethiopian Eunuch as scriptural support for the openness of the Church to homosexuals.

And finally, it seems pretty clear to me that one can be a scriptural inerrentist and still choose the path of compassion which would compel one to ignore the question of gender attraction (leaving any ambiguity to be resolved by God's mercy and justice in God's own time) and just embrace a homosexual for the child of God which they are.

Gary is as introspective and self-reflective as any of us - otherwise he would be posting on this site. I am attempting to honor those reflections in this dialog.

John

Glenn said...

John,

I agree with most of what you said. However, very, very few inerrentists will acknowledge the evidence for those scriptures being applicable to same-sex prostitution. I'm well aware of those arguments, and I agree with them for the most part, but I would bet my last dollar that Gary would not grant you that point. I also understand what you are doing with your line of questioning, but Gary has repeatedly stone walled your attempts at eliciting meaningful introspection by essentially repeating his position that the Bible says what it says. I never said that he couldn't be introspective. I am doubtful, based on his answers to your many questions, that he has any intention to be regarding this maatter.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

John,

I think that Glenn is right that if you follow a very strict inerrantist line, you will come out with a position declaring homosexuality to be a sin. Now, how you respond to homosexuality can differ from group to group.

Gary seems to be of the position that not only should the church condemn homosexuality because it is sinful, but the US government should also use its power to keep it at bay.

Your earlier statements about Sharia do fit here, I think. If morality is to be defined by the majority religious tradition then should conservative Muslims gain a majority in the US -- not likely considering that Muslims of all persuasions make up maybe 2% of the population then would they not have the right to institute their own religious understandings?

The Constitution may have emerged from a Christian majority context, but its philosophical foundations are found in the Enlightment, which favored reason over dogma.

Gary said...

John,

Glenn and Cornwall seem to understand what I believe. I am a Biblical inerrantist, and I believe the Bible is crystal clear as to the sinfulness of what we now call homosexuality. I realize that term is not in the Bible, but the concept is.

I don't think exploring all the nuances of our positions is worthwhile. To me, and I believe to God, the issue is black and white. Good verses evil. There are no circumstances in which adultery is ever moral, and likewise, there are no circumstances in which homosexuality is ever moral.

I do agree with you, to a degree, that the government does not enforce morality, but it sometimes does. We have laws against murder, theft, fraud, rape, etc., which are immoral things that are also illegal under our civil laws. On the other hand, coveting is immoral, but not illegal, and so are many other things.

My problem with things like repealing DADT, and legalizing same-sex marriage is that they are a direct contradiction of God's moral laws. Doing that is very foolish and puts those who do that under the judgment of God. And, those who endorse such things, like you do, are guilty of calling good what God has called evil, which puts you in trouble with God.

John said...

Gary,

I can accept all of that, except the part where it's all black and white, good versus evil. We are all sinners. We were all created good, and we have all wandered into evil territory, some deeper than others. Because we have wandered into evil realms does that render us evil? I think not, it renders us human.

And I believe that God is a god of nuance - one need only look at the complexity of creation to realize this - nothing is simple; one need only look at scripture to realize this - nothing is simple, that is unless one closes one's eyes to the marvelous complexity of God's work.

With all due respect, in using the term "inerrantist" I think Bob and Glenn intend a catchword for those who look at scripture with a jaundiced eye, clinging to a perceived preordained orthodoxy and searching out texts which will lend support. I think they intend to deny inerrantists the capacity for nuance or the discernment to see ambiguity in scripture and to comprehend nuanced solutions not driven by pre-existing orthodoxy.

I will admit that I have encountered many such people, but I have also encountered those inerrantists who see ambiguity, and with due regard for scripture, seek to puzzle out solutions which honor the text and the God who propounded the text.

I will admit that I am not an inerrantist. Instead, I see scripture and it's interpretation as organic and dynamic. We are in a different place than we were 2,500 years ago, and 1,500 years ago. We need to hear a new message which speaks to us where we are. Scripture shows that God is willing to speak out again and again so that God's people will have other chances to come near to the burning bush. I believe that the scripture we have been blessed with is God's voice, that the voice is supple and more than capable of adapting it's message to the changing circumstances which God's people find themselves in. I will continue to believe this is true until God sends a new prophet or until Jesus comes again.

For me that obviously means that scripture and it's interpretation a not fixed once and for all. Look at the work of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, where 1,000 years of explicit scriptural injunctions, and Torah interpretation were thrown out in favor of a new set rules, which could be stated in a single, much less burdensome, sentence. Look at the teachings of Jesus himself, who while chiding his followers not to change the law a jot or a tittle, freely reinterpreted and revealed scripture to underscore his message of grace, forgiveness, and compassion.

Scripture, like the Sabbath, was made for humankind, not the other way around. It was gift, not a burden. Furthermore, Jesus is lord, not the scriptures. Is it not fair and reasonable to apply the same hermeneutic to interpretation of scripture that Jesus applies? Should we not apply Jesus teaching to scripture instead of filtering Jesus teaching through scripture?

The point is scriptural inerrantists are not necessarily wedded to a singular medieval interpretation of scripture, even though many inerrantists claim to be.

John

A friend of Christ said...

Praise God for the appeal.

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