The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Gift from God

Be sure and read my column about Marley and Me from The Western Tribune, which follows this post.

This is how I have felt since coming out. It was a spiritual experience for me. From time to time I have tried to convey this through my writings. But there it was on Oprah! , as part of her Best Life Series...yesterday.

Sedrick, the guy they are speaking with, is from rural Alabama, although he lives in Georgia now. Reverend Ed Bacon from All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, and Reverend Michael Beckwith (author of Spiritual Liberation) explain it. Sedrick gets it. Oprah is getting it. There is nothing more I need to say.


Anonymous said...

So, sinning against God, living contrary to what the scripture says is a 'GIFT FROM GOD'? This obviously makes gay people feel more comfortable with their DECISION, but what blasphemy this is.
Neither Rev (and I use that term loosely) Ed, or REv Michael or even Oprah 'get it'....but oh they will ONE DAY. Boy will they ever.

Joe said...

God is a god of love. He does not create people just to hate them. All love comes from God, even the love between same sex couples.

Anonymous said...

The All Saints Episcopal Church is a pro-gay, gay marriage, activist church. It is true that God is a god of love and that He loves everyone. But if you believe the Bible, you also understand that you must love him back which means following his Christlike teachings.

God loves murderers, He loves liars, He loves cheaters, but He also expects you to repent and turn from your wicked ways, not to accept them as a way you were born. That is what repentance is all about. Making a change. What is being taught here is that it is okay to love God AND to do what you want to do at the same time. It doesn't work that way.

Joe said...

Ok Bill, and following "Christlike teachings" means to love one another and not to judge others. But "Christlike teachings" do not include anything anti-gay, since Christ did not say anything of the kind.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on Joe. God didn't mention many things. But the holy scripture says many things. I've read your previous postings and I know your arguments, but they are not what most mainstream clergy would agree with. Most of those thoughts are held by ministers of 'gay-is-okay' congregations. My church accepts homosexuals, but we minister to them and help them come out of that lifestyle. We have been successful on many occassions. We have several former gay, now straight married couples in our church and on our ministry team.
Homosexuality is a sin, not a gift.

Joe said...

Most mainstream clergy agreed with Jim Crow. Most mainstream clergy were against women's right to vote. The mainstream is not always the correct stream.

You are doing a terrible disservice to the gay people in your church. You forget that changing behavior is not changing orientation. Those who have changed their bahviour must be tormented every day and I feel for them.

I do want to clarify something. yes, my sexuality is a gift, but it is no greater than the gift that straight people have in their sexuality.

Anonymous said...

No, they are very happy and testify about their 'healing' on a regular basis. One couple, of which the man lived the gay lifestyle for over 12 years, now has 3 kids and they are the most well-adjusted family I have ever seen. The man sincerely feels FREE. The other couple has been married for 3 years and the woman is in the process of writing a book.

I think you are tormented Joe. Because, while you seem to be a well educated person, deep in your soul you know that the lifestyle you are living is wrong. You come here and blog all of these 'pro-gay' comments in order to justify what you know is wrong. Again, you must be tormented.

Joe said...

I am not tormented, I feel that my life now is the best there can be. Much better than when I was denying who I really am.

But i didn't think of this when I posted what I did, and your post reminded me. Some people are bi-sexual, in other words, they are attracted to people of either gender. Those who are happy in changing their behavior, are obviously bisexual in nature, and so it is entirely possible that they are happy in their current life. so I wish them all the happiness that I have found in my current life.

Anonymous said...

I knew my gay son was my gift from God. I didn't even need someone on Oprah to tell me. He is a blessing to me every day of my life.

Joe said...

Tnaks Dianne. I didn't need to hear it either, as I said, but isn't it refreshing to hear it anyway and uplifting to know that now the world has heard it.

Anonymous said...

I also know my son is a gift from God. I love him as much as always especially when he decided to come out with his sexuality. We knew before he did. He had gone through some pretty tough things when he was younger. I will never be ashamed to say he's ours.

Anonymous said...

Good heavens. Nobody here said that our children are not a gift from God. Of course they are. But if they are homosexual, THAT is NOT a gift from God. God is not going to 'bless' someone with something that obviously goes against his word. How stupid to even think this way. But based on most of Oprah's views and political ideas, is anybody really surprised by this video?

Joe said...

Dan wrote "But if they are homosexual, THAT is NOT a gift from God. God is not going to 'bless' someone with something that obviously goes against his word. How stupid to even think this way."

I can't believe you made this statement. I am blessed to live in this country, to have two wonderful children, to be able to avoid (so far) the brunt of the economic crisis, to have wonderful people around me, family and friends, and more. Yet if one of my conservative Christian friends claims the same blessings, you would no doubt agree with him that they are from God. Pure hypocrisy.

olin blankenship said...

This conservation is an example of the blind leading the blind.

Religion has always been a control mechanism for priests to keep the masses subjugated by judging them in the 'eyes of god' or 'in the words of the bible' in the Christian Faith.

Anyone wishing to stop wasting his breath on these conversations about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin would be advised to read Christopher Hitchens well researched and respected book 'God is Not Great'. In it he demolishes 'faith' with intellectual pursuit.

In the Oprah piece one of the man said the conversation came from a basis of 'spirituality' not religion. Having thrown all religion I have ever seen out with the morning paper, I have yet to consider if 'spirituality' is religion in drag.

Anytime anyone approaches me with a religious message, I run like hell, knowing it is to 'join', 'believe as we do', 'accept our faith', and ultimately contribute money or time to 'the cause'. People grow angry that I am not a religious person. Who in his right mind would bow down to a god that says you are damned to hell?

Are you people crazy?

Read Hitchens, do your homework, then talk among yourselves. Don't we have more important things to worry about?

Joe said...

You are right, there are more important things to talk about.But then again, Phil Rivers and the Chargers or Brangelina's babies aren't that important either, but people talk about them.

I don't expect to change the beliefs of people like Dan, Rev. Bill or John, but I know that conversations like this can help influence others who may vote on things like equal rights in marriage or adoption. Let's not base things like that on religion.

Your view, that religion can be tossed out, is not likely to become the dominant view anytime soon, so the conversation will continue in hopes of making religion a softer issue.

As for spirituality, I feel it is much more important than religion. I don't think of it as religion in drag. I think it's more like religion being man's misuse and mis-direction of spirituality, usually for the benefit of the individual as he or she seeks to control others, as you point out.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I too see your point. However I did not say 'talk' about, I said worry about. If there is a 'supreme being' it is probable that that being has the ability to determine for itself who is blessed... or whatever. Trouble is too many ill informed speak with presumed authority (claiming it is god's word) and in their ignorance do horrific damage. Re-phrasing what I wrote above, why can't we just leave well enough alone, do the best we know how, and get through the day? If there is a god, I daresay she can make up her own mind. I'll bet dollars to donuts that many in this conversation have not done a truly selfless good deed in memory. They are too busy judging others, ignoring the plank in their own eye, and keeping the downtrodden downtrodden, in the name of Jesus, sin, and hellfire.

I once saw a bumper sticker that read 'Jesus is coming soon. Look busy!' I suspect if the bible had a different reading and were used as a guidebook for kindness, acceptance, and love that the world would be a far better place. Instead, it is selectively quoted and used as a bludgeon. But as you wrote, my opinions about religion are not likely to become the dominant view anytime soon.

When I said worry, I meant address the condition of the planet, our sorry excuse for a government, the catastrophic state of the economy which is dragging down the whole world, wrenching world poverty and illnes.

Rather than pointing fingers of accusation and guilt it might be better if each of us could know we are truly loved and respected in the eyes of another. And here I don't mean Jesus Christ.

Yes, certainly, vote for equal rights for everyone, including marriage and adoption. But I contend that if we stopped ASKING for christain acceptance the point would soon become moot. Equality under the law has no room for religious comment. Passage of Prop. 8 in California is a perfect example of religion forcing its will on others. We are who we are whether the preachers and the hate mongers give us their permission, or not.

Joe said...

My mistake Olin. You did say worry, not talk,and you are right, there are more important things to worry about. But it does seem that for the most part, those who preach against gays are also those who ignore the earth, ignore the poor, etc. They make preventing same sex marriage the most important issue, while ignoring that the real enemy of marriage is divorce, and to "save" marriage they should outlaw divorce. Jesus had a lot to say about that.

Anyway, I agree that religion should not play a role determining equality, but it does and always will. History shows us that inequality often has its basis in religion.

Plus, you are right with your last sentence. I don't need their permission to be who I am, and my relationship with my partner is just as meaningful to me as theirs with their spouse is. In fact, more so, probably.

Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

Joe, indeed all of those things you mentioned are indeed blessings. Being gay is not. It is a sin.

Olin, dude you have serious issues.

Anonymous said...

My guess would be that Olin has rarely if ever studied or been part of a God fearing, mission-minded church. If he had, he would know that there is such a thing as absolute truth, that the church does not try to hold one down, and he certainly would not be encouraging you to read anything by Hitchens.

Christopher Hitchens is antitheist and antireligious. He often speaks out against the Abrahamic religions, or what he calls "the three great monotheisms" (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). In his book, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitchens expanded his criticism to include all religions, including those rarely criticized by Western antitheists such as Hinduism and neo-paganism. His main argument is that the concept of God or Supreme Being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom.

Anonymous said...

dan: Re: my 'issues': Judge not, lest ye be judged. I am taking this as good natured thought provoking discussion. You seem to be addressing the matter quite differently. Does a person who challenges your dogma make you nervous? I think I may see an attack coming, just over the horizon!

Joe said...

Olin,you beat me to it. A lot of judging does seem to go on here.

Discussions on this blog do get heated sometimes, but I don't really think Bill, Dan, John or any others really believe they are going to change my beliefs.

Dan..."Being gay is not. It is a sin." I really don't know anyone who today says "being gay" is a sin. I hear that ...uh..."doing gay," so to speak, is (which is a whole other discussion, about translations and culture and interpretations and all). But "Being gay"? That's a bit much.

Anonymous said...

Reverend Bill: Re: Hitchens being antitheist and antireligious; and? so? Does he have less right or credibility to express his opinion than you? Do I have less right? What I am seeing here is a suffocating, narrow minded view of the world that is safe as long as it is not questioned or challenged. Of COURSE Hitchens is antireligion! That is precisely why I brought his writing up. Pulling the covers over your head and shouting 'FOUL' when your version of reality is questioned does nothing to further this conversation. You mention absolute truth... According to whom? You? Your beliefs? Your baseless puffing about all this is just that: baseless puffing. How like your kind to pass judgment on me when you know absolutly nothing of the man about whom you speak. Get a grip. The whole point of this is that you disapprove (for whatever homophobic reason you concoct) of two persons of the same sex loving each other. I think you are making the mistake of confusing love with sex. Would you have a case if I loved a man and did not have sex? Or is it 'the nasty' that bothers you? It is just this simple: How can you say from one side of your mouth that god is love and then, out of the other side, say EXCEPT when that love exists between two same sexed persons? Your reasoning is so faulty as to be laughable. If god IS love, how can love - in any form - be godless? Huh?

Anonymous said...

Who is doing the attacking? Olin, you seem to be much more defensive than anyone here. Rev. Bill has not attacked you in any way. But your points make no sense whatsoever.
And yes, there is absolute truth. That has nothing to do with religion, but with right and wrong.
You are rambling my friend.

Anonymous said...

FACT: higher occurance of diseases among gay community.

FACT: higher occurance of suicide among the gay communty

FACT: lower life expectancy in the gay community

FACT: higher percentage of gays come from broken homes.

FACT: there are many medical reasons why gay sexual activity is dangerous

FACT: there are people on here who still want to justify this unnatural sinful lifestyle and accept it as a gift from God. How sad.

Anonymous said...

Good night one and all. I will sleep soundly tonight but as I doze off I will wonder who exactly appointed all these 'Reverends' as MY moral guardian, keeper of MY conscience, MY judge, MY parole officer and the decider of whether I am qualified to go to 'heaven' or not. Does their version of god have no say in the matter, or has she entrusted them as her sole earthly representative? If so she probably made a BAD mistake! I suspect that all their blustering, disapproving, finger pointing and judgmental hogwash is destined to make the world a very miserable place - unless they repent their ways, loosn up, and have some fun for a change! SERIOUSLY practicing what they preach might help them relax a little. Finally, if their version of heaven is what I am to hope for, I will think VERY strongly if it is really worth it, especially if they will be there.

Anonymous said...

LOL.....I cannot stop laughing. I've been reading this blog for a while and have NEVER seen anyone as defensive as Olin. First of all, little of what he says makes any sense at all, and then sounds like everyone has just been on his case. Olin, your first post brought most of this on yourself. If you ask me, and you didn't but I couldn't care less, you are the one with the closed mind. You refuse to see if what some of these posters are saying is true. You have no grasp on reality whatsoever. I'll assume that you think the earth was formed as a result of a 'big bang" which has proven to be mathmatically impossible. And you probably assume that we evolved from apes. Your eyes are closed to the CREATION that is all around you.
If you can sleep soundly with all of that, good luck.

Anonymous said...

Kristi: If you want to quote facts, please quote facts.

FACT: Higher occurance of diseases among gay community. EXACTLY WHAT DISEASES? Diptheria? Whooping Cough? Actually, the highest incidence of AIDS, if that is what you refer to, is in Africa, among hetrosexuals.

FACT: Higher occurance of suicide among the gay community. Actually, this is partly correct. The highest suicide rate in the gay community is among teen agers who are rejected by their parents and society. Worldwide, the highest suicide rate is in Sweden. All the Swedes who kill themselves cannot statistically be gay.

FACT: Lower life expectancy in the gay community. Wrong. Curiously, the lowest life expectancy rate is in the dental profession!

FACT: Higher percentage of gays come from broken homes. Think that might be because of broken marriages? Don't blame straight marriage failures on the gays. Blame it on the parents of gays and their crappy marriages.

FACT: There are many medical reasons why gay sexual activity is dangerous. What reasons? A person - gay or straight - who does not use condoms for anal penetration during sex? I think using or not using a condom cannot be called a medical reason but falls in the category of common sense. See disease rates in Africa, above.

FACT: There are people on here who still want to justify this unnatural sinful lifestyle and accept it as a gift from God. How sad.

As a gay man, I am not attempting to justify anything. I am who I am, period. As to being unnatural and sinful that is your opinion, no more valid than mine. Whether it is a gift from god or not, since I don't beleive in god your perspective has zero bearing on me. Next time try to get your FACTS straight (no pun intended), okay?>

Anonymous said...

Ah....Olin is Gay. LMAO..again, is anyone surprised???

Anonymous said...

Ah....Dan is Straight! again, is anyone surprised?

Gay... is that an accusation, a condemnation, a damnation to hell? If you will send me the exact day, date, and time YOU decided to be straight I will desist. It is more than tedious that anyone would be expected (by you straight christians) to explain, defend, apologize, be expected to change, shut up, or regret who he or she is. Isn't there something in your bible about throwing the first stone? When the words you guys use to define us (gays) are considered, maybe you should apply them to yourselves. This smirking, superior, 'I'm better than you because you're GAY' just doesn't wash any longer in that part of the world that knows the earth is round, the sun does not rotate around the earth, and it is not the mid-13th century. The Inquisition is over baby-cakes.

When I point out that FACTS - as quoted by Kristi - are all totally WRONG AND INACCURATE what do you do - all too predictably? You accuse me of being gay! Do you have any other drum you can beat? Try logic, intelligence, reflective thought, anything that is not that one note tune you constantly harp on, gay. Try imagining anything greater than what exists inside your head. Like acceptance of others maybe? You might actually enjoy that.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that I'm the only one among this set of blogers that actually attended Bible college, Southern Missionary College, '74. Here is an excellent chance for you to reach out with love and healing. Yes, there are a lot of Gay children who are put out of their 'Christian' home at the young tender age of 16. Yes, sometimes they kill themselves. Be a modern day missionary and help other Christians to love their childern even if they do feel like their child is living in sin.

Joe said...

Dan is not the only to have made a comment like that. They seem to think that when they discover someone is gay, it discredits everything that has been said.

You also may have noticed that when you bring up something that is blatantly obvious, but counter to their argument, such as the god is love, how can love between two men be wrong concept, they don't repsond. they change the subject. I have brought that up before and never had a response. another example is the subject of divorce and what Jesus had to say about that. Completely ignored.

As for the "FACTS" that Kristi brought up, John first mentioned those here: . Kristi took the ball and ran with it.

Then I tried to educate them about marriage here:

The thing is, they do not believe in science. They do not believe in history. I just doesn't count.

Dianne, I did not receive a degree but I did attend Earlham School of Religion. You are right. If people really believed in God, his love would triumph everything. But as has been said before, most modern day Christians are more interested in control and money.

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys and an especial thanks to Joe for letting me express my opinions. Having read other blogs of Joe's, I have concluded that the majority of people (gay and straight) who agree with Joe generally do not express themselves as stridently - or frequently - as the few fag hating bible thumping 'christians' who do.

For now, I am choosing to join that quiet majority since it has become apparent that 'the few' are locked in an archaic mindset, choosing to ignore anything of science, reason, or just plain old common sense that sheds any light on a subject. Fortunately they are a dying breed. I am not a bible scholor but I think there is something there about it being better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. I observe that 'the few' prefer it dark. Good luck to you all and thanks to Joe for the blog. It is inevitable that equal rights will come. Hopefully that will be in my lifetime.

Joe said...

Olin you are certainly welcome. I hope you will continue to visit Bessemer Opinions, even though you do not live here (I think).

You are right. Many gays visit my blog, but most do not post comments. And of those that do, I am sure several have tired of the back and forth between the thumpers and themselves. But they do continue to fight for equality, and the fight is not always easy, here in the bible belt.

I think I remember you from some posts on the NYT web site and the Advocate site. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Olin, before you attempt to argue against what the Bible says, why don't you try READING one.

Dianne, no one here wants to throw all the gay people into the ocean. What we want to do is to try to reach out to them and show them the TRUTH about homosexuality.

But you can't. Their hearts are hardened and they don't want to hear it. Olin is a perfect example. He is typing his posts RED FACED because how DARE anyone tell him how to live. Olin refuses to search for TRUTH. He has 'made up his mind' about his 'decision' and if you try to debate him, he belittles you. I am surprised that Joe has not deleted a couple of his posts. But wait, while not nearly as argumentative, Joe agrees.

And so it goes...

Joe said...

Bill,did I miss something? Did Diane say anyone was wanting to throw gays in the ocean (or do away with us by any means)? All she said was that everyone should love one another, particularly their children, regardless.

I don't agree with everything Olin said. But I do not judge him because of it. But why would I consider deleting his posts? He didn't break any of the "rules."

Anonymous said...

"God is not going to 'bless' someone with something that obviously goes against his word"
can you point this out to me somewhere?
"Olin, before you attempt to argue against what the Bible says, why don't you try READING one."
i read it..all of it ....couldnt find that in it.
good fortune

Anonymous said...

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. I John 2:15-17

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (LIKE BEING GAY!!!!) ; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. IThessalonians 4:2-8

Want me to keep going Lipscomb. Go ahead Joe...start spinning the scripture.

lipscomb bohemian said...

well in everything you quoted it didnt mention "gay"
"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (LIKE BEING GAY!!!!) ; "
lets that gods quote "(like being gay)" or are you speaking out for him..helping him figure out what he is trying to say. i cant say i ever read that.
now i speak only formyself but i dont stake my life on much that paul says anyway. after all he was just speaking for hisself too. i dont think paul ever even saw or spoke to jesus did he? i could be wrong. i do know that he fell on his head when god knocked him off his horse for not paying attention.and i know he was arrogant.
if you reply to this ill read your reply but ill not respond to it probably. we see the world through different glasses. thats all.
we will do well to consider what we all have in common rather than focusing on our differences
good fortune to you