Archive | December 2014

The End of the Year, And New Beginnings

And so we come to the end of the year. Traditionally this has been a time for reflecting on the past year. It’s also been a time for making all kinds of resolutions for the coming year, resolutions which generally last until we sober up sometime in the afternoon on New Year’s Day.

For me, though, it’s a time of looking forward, although I suppose that in a way, that’s what resolutions are all about. Except I’m not making any. I’ve already quit smoking, and I don’t drink, so what else is there?

No, instead, I’m changing the way I blog. Or, to be more exact, I’m changing the way I organize and manage my blog posts.

Windows Live Writer is my blog editor of choice. With it, I can create new entries and see pretty much how they’re going to look before I post them. I can even retrieve previously-published posts. More importantly, I can use it to manage several different blogs. This is important because I maintain a few blogs, each dealing with separate topics.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a very good job of organizing my posts on disk. All of my drafts are saved to the same folder, which Live Writer conveniently calls My Weblog Posts. SO while I have a copy of what I’ve posted, it doesn’t let me know where I’ve posted. And I do need to know where I’ve posted what, so I don’t inadvertently duplicate myself on one of my blogs.

Enter Scrivener. I plan a much longer article on the software, but for now I’d like to share with you how I’ve started using it as my main blogging tool.

Scrivener is organized around projects. A project can be anything you want it to be: a novel, a poem, a screenplay, a short story. In this case, I chose the blank template when I started. After some thought, I created folders for each blog, and within each of those folders, another folder for the year. Eventually, I’ll add month folders inside each year.

Here’s how it looks:

blog setup

As you can see, this entry is named Final Post and is in the December folder, which is in the 2014 folder, which is inside the V&J folder. Just like those nesting Russian dolls! Simple enough so far, right?

Besides being an excellent organizational tool, Scrivener is also perfect for writing. And as you can see from the graphic above, I’m using it for this article. What I like best about it is when I’m on the writing screen, there are no distractions. And unlike other editors, I can control what my background is when I’m writing. I can choose either a color or an image, or I can even set the writing screen width so that there is no background at all: just a plain white screen without even a menu bar.

Once I’ve written an article, I can copy & paste it into Live Writer and upload it from there. Or I can copy & paste it directly into the blog itself. Finally, I can copy it into any of the other blog folders. But that’s not really necessary, as it takes up disk space. Instead, I can make use of Scrivener’s corkboard feature and simply make a note in the other blogs of the title of the entry and the date I posted it. That way I’ll still have a record of what I’ve done, but it won’t take up much disk space. Which is also important, because Scrivener makes a backup copy of your project whenever you close it. The default is 5 backup copies, but this (like most options in the program) can be changed.

So if you’re just getting started in blogging, or if you’ve been doing it for a while and are looking for an excellent way to get or stay organized, you could do a lot worse than Scrivener as your blogging tool.

Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing

This article originally appeared in http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thegodarticle/2011/10/clobbering-biblical-gay-bashing/
The author concluded it with the statement that Permission is granted for limited distribution “as is” with no altering.

Clobbering “Biblical” Gay Bashing

October 11, 2011 by Mark Sandlin

This is a bit long for a blog post, but some may find it to be a helpful resource. I wrote the piece for another project and it just wasn’t a good fit. Honestly, if you are well read on the issue of the Bible and its take on homosexuality (or lack thereof), there is little new in here. For you, I hope this can be a quick reference. If you are not well read on such things, this may be a bit of a bumpy ride, but bumpy rides can be a lot of fun. Either way, I hope I was able to take what is sometimes thick reading, albeit important reading, and make it at least bearable and mostly straight forward.

Christianity and “Biblical” Hatefulness

We Christians are good at a lot of things. Helping others. Dressing up on Sunday.  Quoting scripture. Pot luck meals. Taking care of church members. Weddings. Funerals. Worship. But perhaps the thing at which we are the most persistently exceptional is misinterpreting the Bible then running amuck in the world because of it. Honestly, mad skills. And history backs me up on this one.

We have used the Bible to support, promote and act upon some pretty un-Christian things: slavery, holocaust, segregation, subjugation of women, apartheid, the Spanish Inquisition (which, no one ever expects), domestic violence, all sorts of exploitation and the list could go on and on. Oddly, if you ask theologians to pick one biblical theme to rule them all, most of them would say “love”… well, love and grace. Okay, love, grace and forgiveness. Fine. They probably would not specifically agree on a single term, but they would most likely name something that is, in every way, the opposite of the oppression, belittlement, hatred and marginalization represented by the numerous atrocities committed by the Christian Church.

More times than not, these atrocities are the result of trying to play God, pretending as if one group of people has complete knowledge of God’s will and is more blessed or chosen by God. Not surprisingly, the people who see the world this way are always exactly the people who also happen to belong in the group they believe to be the uber-blessed. Lucky them.

Time and time again, Jesus made it clear that we should not put ourselves in the place of playing God and that, unlike far too many humans, God welcomes and loves us all equally. Period.

But we keep doing it. We keep doing it even though each time after we argue, name-call, suppress others and fight for centuries, falsely playing the role of heavenly judge and jury, we slowly realize that we got it wrong. We realize that, in fact, Paul was not promoting slavery. We learn to contextualize his statements and letters. We become more skilled at interpreting the original Greek and, over time, we decide to stop quoting the Bible to support slavery (or the subjugation of women, or racism, etc.) because we finally come around to realizing that, as Rob Bell’s book points out, biblically love wins. Always.

And so we find ourselves here again. Doing the thing we do best: misinterpreting the Bible and ruining lives with it. We are, once again, ignoring the biblical bias for those who are marginalized, abused, belittled and negatively judged. Ignoring the biblical directive to show all the children of God love (and grace… and forgiveness).

Hate By Any Other Name

Oh sure, this time around we have “softened” our approach, saying things like “hate the sin, love the sinner,” but we fail to recognize that what we are calling a “sin” and the person we are calling a “sinner” are one and the same. A person whose sexual orientation is homosexual, or bi-sexual, or queer can no more separate themselves from their sexuality than a heterosexual person can. It’s like saying “hate the toppings, love the pizza.” It’s just not the pizza without the toppings. We just aren’t loving the person if we don’t love the whole person.

I suspect the “softening” of the language we use has everything to do with making us feel better and very little with making LGBTQ folk feel better, because it certainly doesn’t make them feel any better. As a matter of fact, the love/hate (emphasis on hate) relationship that the Church continues to push on this group of people only serves to push them into closets and into even darker places, which sometimes leads to suicide. The Church and its approach to this issue are at fault for most of the hurt, anguish, self-doubt, abuse and death associated with being LGBTQ. Not very loving. Not very grace filled. But it certainly leaves us in need of forgiveness.

Many Christians have lost their way in this twisty, turny maze of how to practice our faith. We would much rather reinforce the things we want to believe than believe the sometimes difficult teachings of Jesus. Who, on a side note, never said a word about homosexuality but did tell us to gouge out our lustful eyes. Which seems to me is more likely to leave us all blind than the “eye for and eye” thing.

The Bible As A Sex Manual

So, as others have pointed out before, we use the Bible as if it is a sex manual, telling us what is and isn’t acceptable in the eyes of the Lord your God. Thereby delineating out those whom it is okay for us to judge, and toward whom it is okay to direct all kinds of nastiness and holier-than-thouisms.The reality is that the Bible is not a sex manual. I know, shocker. Right? Actually, it’s a good thing (depending on your particular level of sexual prudishness – personally, compared to the Bible, mine is pretty high). You see, the Bible not only promotes marriage between a man and a woman, but it insist that that marriage be within the same faith. Not only should a wife be subordinate (Ephesians 5:22), but she should also prove her virginity… lest she be stoned (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). Oh, and the whole thing would probably be much better if it were arranged (Genesis 24:37-38). And that’s just the warm up act.According to the Bible, if a woman’s husband dies and she hasn’t had a son, she must marry his brother and have intercourse with him until she has a son (Mark 12:18-27). Sometimes, biblically wives are good, but concubines are better. Many of the “men of God” were not only married, but at least three of them had more than one concubine (Abraham, Caleb, Solomon) and they remained “men of God.” But like I said, “biblically wives are good” and there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. Right? So, why not have may wives? God frequently blessed polygamists (Esau, Jacob, Gideon, David, Solomon, Belshazzar).

As far as sexuality and the Bible’s perspective on woman as property and as slaves… well, as you can imagine, it does not get any better.

Making Choices

The point is this: most of us have matured enough theologically to recognize that we need to contextualize the writings of the Bible, and because of it we have moved passed using these examples as the end-all-be-all on acceptable practices of sexuality.  However, somehow, we have not managed to apply the very same understanding to the Bible verses that have become known as the “clobber verses” in the Bible. “Clobber” because they are the verses most used to clobber people who are gay or who support gay rights.

That is really interesting when you consider that, of all the topics I just mentioned, sexual orientation is the only one that is not a choice. Polygamy, concubines, marrying your brother’s widow? All choices, and we have decided to “get over” the biblical directives for them. Sexual orientation? Not a choice. (There are those who still argue otherwise, but the science is clear, so I’m not even having that discussion). So many Christians just aren’t able to get past that one. Equally interesting to consider: it is actually more of a choice to judge and marginalize people over being homosexual, or, bi-sexual, or queer; than it is a choice to be homosexual, or, bi-sexual, or queer. Yet we judge them and not ourselves.

Since we clearly have a difficult time letting go of the clobber verses, let’s take them one by one and very briefly consider what is really going on in them. It should help us arrive at a clearer picture of what the writers of these scriptures were trying to tell us. What we will find is this: as we get caught up in judging others over what we want the verses to say, we miss the opportunity to understand how to be the people God is calling us to be.

As we get started, we all need to be on the same page on one thing. When the Bible was written, the earth was flat, the sun orbited the earth and the idea of a person having a sexual ‘orientation’ was completely foreign. There is some debate about who actually kick-started the understanding of sexual orientation (Heinrich Hoessli or Karl Heinrich Ulrich – personally, I am on Team Heinrich), but it is clear that the concept of people having a sexual orientation was first introduced in the 1800?s making it a thoroughly modern construct.

Clearly, there are a few Bible verses that involve same-sex acts (and of those, almost all of them are male-male sex), but given the modern advent of recognizing the existence of sexual orientation, we must accept the reality that the writers of those verses were in no way trying to, let alone capable of, acknowledging, understanding and addressing homosexual orientation. What then, might they have been trying to tell us in the clobber verses? Let’s take a look.

The Clobber Verses

Let me just say right off the top, three of the verses that are sometimes considered clobber verses have nothing to do with the question of homosexuality. Putting Genesis 2:21-25, Deuteronomy 23:17 and Jude 1:6-7 in the category of anti-gay verses is nothing more than an attempt to beef up the number of verses that are supposedly “against” homosexuality. They have nothing to do with it. So, I am simply going to ignore them. If someone attempts to use them as proof of the “abomination” of homosexuality, I suggest you simply ignore them as well.

Genesis 19:1-11

The great thing about defending the Bible against people who want to use Genesis 19:1-11 to gay bash is that you really don’t have to do any work. The Bible does it for you. For better or for worse, this is also the verse with which the general population is probably most familiar in terms of what they think of as verses about homosexuality. Even the term “sodomy” is linked to this Bible passage.

It is the story of two travelers (messengers from God) being given shelter by Lot and his family. Hospitality was a very big deal in those days. In this story, the men of Sodom decided to approach Lot’s home and to make less than hospitable demands on him and his guest. To get a sense of how important hospitality was, when the men of the town say they want to force themselves (most likely sexually) on Lot’s guest, Lot actually offers up his daughters instead. Despicable, deplorable, a great way to permanently damage your relationship with your daughters and the rest of your family (to say the least), but a sure sign that hospitality was a big deal.

In the end, the men of the town did not get what they wanted. They wanted to exert their dominance of the guests. They wanted to humiliate them, as warriors after conquering a foe might do in those days, sexually putting another male into the position of a woman (who after all was thought of as property, as weak, and as soft and therefore less than a man).

Even though the men never actually exerted their power over Lot’s guests in a male-male sex act, people still insist on using this text as proof that homosexuality is an “abomination.” Well, like I said, “the great thing about defending the Bible against people who want to use Genesis 19:1-5 to gay bash is that you really don’t have to do any work. The Bible does it for you.”

Sodom is referenced multiple times in the Bible as an example of great sinning. And what might that sin be?

In Isaiah 1:10-17 it is thought to be injustice, not rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, pleading for the widow. In Jeremiah 23:14 it is adultery. In Ezekiel 16:48-49 it is the sin of not aiding the “poor and needy.” In Zephaniah 2:8-11 the sin is bullying, boasting and pride. In the Wisdom of Solomon it is “the bitter hatred of strangers.”

The sin is not about being gay. It is not about non-straight sexual orientation. The sin of Sodom was lacking hospitality, not being just, bullying, hating strangers, not caring for those marginalized.  Funny, they are all things Churches (and individuals for that matter) sorely need to keep in mind and be better at practicing when it comes to how we do or do not welcome LGBTQ folk into our lives. After all, in today’s society, who is more marginalized, more bullied, more treated like a “stranger,” than them? Come to think of it, not so funny.

Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13

If someone were to canonize a buzz-kill, it would look remarkably, and uncomfortably, like the book of Leviticus. Honestly, this three-thousand plus year old holiness code is not exactly a big ball of fun. For starters, just try reading it. On second thought, I like you, so don’t. Fortunately for you, I’ve done it for you. (I know, nice. Right? I’m just that kind of guy).

Among the jewels you’ll find in it are a mandate to kill disobedient children, a dietary restriction to not eat shellfish (God Hates Shrimp!), a law that would prevent bowl-cuts (or “rounding off the side-growth of your heads” – and to think I liked the Beatles), direction to not touch or eat the flesh of a pig (no bacon and cheddar soup for you!), and a prohibition on the rhythm method of birth control (you know who you are!). Oh, and presumably, gay sex (which, of course, is why I bring it up).

The section of Leviticus where we find the clobber verses is often called the Purity Code. “Purity” was mostly about two things. First, it was about keeping things the way they “should” be. “Should” is in quotes because the guidelines they used for what should and shouldn’t be were mostly made up. Said differently, they arrived at their conclusions in a time that didn’t have any science or at least not science like we have today. Which is to say, they didn’t have any science.

What they had was mostly superstition based on observation. A big part of this purity code was the idea that the world is consistent or follows particular preset rules. For the Israelites this meant things like: all fish have fins, animals with divided hooves chew cud, and male sperm contains the whole of life (women provided the incubation chamber). When things didn’t adhere to this particular three-thousand year old way of understanding the world, they were considered an abomination or more precisely impure.

The second thing the purity code did was define the Israelites as purely not Canaanites. That is, much like many Christians receive the mark of a cross on their forehead on Ash Wednesday or give something up for Lent, the codes in Leviticus helped define the people of Israel as the people of Israel. For the Israelites it was particularly meant to define them as not Canaanites. Basically, it’s a way of showing “we are not them.”

It is true that there are other reasons for many of the laws (just like there are many other reasons to give something up for Lent), but these are two of the larger ones, and they are ones that most directly apply to these clobber verses.

So what do we, presumably enlightened Christians of a scientific age, do with this code? Clearly shrimp are good to eat (for most of us).  For that matter, as far as I’m concerned, to borrow from an old Benjamin Franklin quote, they are proof that God loves us* – that’s just how darned delicious they are.

What we do is recognize Leviticus for what it was: a good thing for the people of God based on how they understood the world some three-thousand years ago. Interestingly enough, when it comes to things like shellfish, eating and touching pigs, cutting our sideburns and beards, and stoning children who mouth off to their parents, we have already managed to do exactly that. Why? Because we understand that they are just flat out silly laws. Not all “fish” have fins. Some come in the shape of pink commas and are delicious with a nice Riesling. Because not all split hooved animals chew cud. Some roll around in the mud and make breakfast just that much better. For that matter, wrap them around a shrimp, throw them on the grill. I promise you, God will not smite you and once you bite into them you’ll agree, they are not an abomination (they might, however taste slightly “impure” if you do not devein them well).

What many people have not been able to do is extend that simple understanding to these clobber verses. We have already established that it would have been impossible for these texts, or any biblical text, to be about sexual orientation. However, they do clearly describe a male-male sex act (sorry ladies, this one’s just for the guys). But what we have to begin to understand is that the issues which these specific laws presumed to address within their society, much like the other laws I’ve mentioned here, are no longer recognized as true.

Scholars have pointed to various reasons for ancient Israel’s seeing male-male sex as taboo in Leviticus. It may be the same reason the rhythm method was thought to be wrong in the eyes of God, which presumably is that, as I have mentioned, they thought sperm contained the whole of life (how typically male-dominated-society of them). Therefore, in their way of seeing it, “Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great. If a sperm gets wasted, God gets quite irate.” On the other hand, it may be that they thought it was taboo because it went against their understanding that mixing of kinds, just like the mixing of two kinds of cloth was taboo. Male-male sexual relationships, in that way of seeing things, mixes up their understanding of gender roles.

Whatever the reason, the perspective in these clobber verses were based on an understanding of sex and sexuality that was just as misinformed as their understanding of the earth in relationship to the sun, of fish, of pork and of reasons for stoning children. In our scientific age, it is time to let go of archaic perspectives and start recognizing the things that are truly an abomination in the eyes of God: lacking in compassion and love, exercising judgment against others, and practicing and encouraging hate.

(*The actual quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin is, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Sadly, while Ben most probably enjoyed a mug of beer from time to time, the actual quote is, “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” In a happy coincidence, the same rains nourish the barley and hops that are changed into beer. In an even happier coincidence, wine and beer both pair exceptionally well with shrimp. God is good).

Romans 1:26-28

Good news ladies! Up until now, all of this clobbering has been about the guys. In Romans, you get to join in. Lucky you.

Romans is the one place the Bible speaks specifically about a female-female sex act. If you listen to Bible Thumpin’ Gay Bashers, you’d be surprised to learn that, while the counts vary on how many places the Bible directly address heterosexual relationships, it is a lot. Then again, compared to the precisely one verse the Bible has about female-female sex, even two is one hundred percent more.

The number of heterosexually oriented verses isn’t exactly clear. One thing is really clear, there’s plenty of them and, much like the Levitical purity code, we’ve managed to ignore many of them. So, if you aren’t also denouncing the divorced, then get off your lesbian judging high-horse, because otherwise you are just picking and choosing who to judge out of your own accord, and then quoting the one Bible verse that seems to support your choice. And even then, as we will see, it doesn’t actually support your argument. It actually does just the opposite.

In Romans, we have the most extensive discussion of same-sex intercourse in the Bible, a whole two seemingly specific verses – astounding.

There are plenty of approaches to understanding what Paul is trying to teach us in these texts. Any good exegesis ultimately points to the reality that what Paul is talking about and what people who use these verses as clobber verses want Paul to be talking about aren’t the same thing. That is, this is not about homosexual people having consenting homosexual relationships.

One convincing analysis of these texts looks at the fact that one of the most prevalent forms of same-sex sex in the Greco-Roman world was male prostitution which frequently involved boys. In that analysis, the texts become a condemnation of pederasty and prostitution, things of which most Christians (conservative to liberal) disapprove even today. There is also the perspective that Paul’s pointing to same sex intercourse as being idolatrous could be referring to the practices of priests and priestesses of Mediterranean fertility gods who regularly practiced that type of prostitution but elevated it, within a religious context, to the state of idolatry. Those approaches are valid and mostly convincing perspectives, but they do require a small leap of logic to arrive at their conclusions. Much less of a leap of logic, mind you, than believing that these texts are about something of which people at that time had absolutely no comprehension, but slight conjecture all the same.

The analysis that I find the most convincing concerns itself with the word “natural.” It is the word that has led many to speak of LGBTQ behavior as “unnatural” acts even though they occur throughout nature (in one study they were found in more than fifteen-hundred species).

As it turns out, the word is actually not “natural.” Not surprisingly, Paul did not speak English. While Paul performed a number of miraculous things, speaking English (which wasn’t around even in its earliest Prehistoric Old English form yet) was not one of them. Not to bore you too much, but the word Paul used was the Greek word, physikos. (Now that didn’t hurt too much, did it?).

It’s important to know the word in Greek because when it is translated into English, it loses a little of its original meaning. Without even knowing it, Lady GaGa has provided a better modern and contextual translation of physikos than the frequently used translation of “normal.” We will get to that in a minute. It doesn’t mean “natural” or “nature” so much as it means “produced by nature.” Those who use these verses as clobber verses tend to understand “natural” to mean something closer to “normal” than “produced by nature.” Not surprisingly, they also then define what is and isn’t “normal” based on their personal biases rather than on science or the reality of the world around them (e.g.: “I think gay people make me feel creepy, so I  henceforth do hereby dub it as an act of not-natural.”).

In reality, physikos has more to do with how things naturally occur in God’s Creation.  At this point, you may have begun to guess that physikos is based on the same root word from which we get the word “physics” which is, of course, the study of the realities of nature. Conveniently, the way Paul uses physikos here in Romans, it also means something very similar to “the realities of nature.” It is concerned with what is of our nature and not with what is defined as acceptable. That is to say, Paul is concerned with how God created something or someone to be. He is concerned with people going against their nature or in the words of Lady GaGa herself, if they are “born that way” he’s concerned with them behaving as if they were not.

That is the sin here in Romans, acting against the very nature of who God created you to be. In this case he seems to be addressing the idea of a same-sex sex act in which at least one of the two are not attracted to someone of the same sex; they just are not born that way.

Understood this way, it would be equally sinful for someone who is only attracted to someone of the same sex to have sex with someone of the opposite sex. It goes against their nature; they just weren’t born that way. Ironically, those telling LGBTQ folk that these verses mean they have to stop being LGBTQ folk are actually telling them to commit the very sin against which these verses warn, going against their nature. God has a wicked sense of humor.

Because these texts have been used so much to address homosexuality, it was important to address the issue directly, but the worst thing we could do is to think it is primarily about homosexuality. It is not.

Immediately following verse 28, Paul provides an extensive list of sins. It is so extensive that we all fall into at least one of the categories. “So there you have it,” says Paul, “we all sin. Don’t try to deny it.” And let’s face it, we all go against who we know we were created to be. How many times have you done something, felt guilt or shame, and then said, “I shouldn’t have done that. That’s not who I am.”?

As Paul says in the very next chapter, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” As he also says to start that chapter, “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 & 1 Timothy 1:9-10

So, remember back a few paragraphs ago when we talked about a Greek word? And remember how it didn’t even hurt one little bit? Good. We are going to do it again.

I have put the 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy clobber verses together because they both use a particular Greek word in a particularly similar way. The word is arsenokoite-s and it means “male prostitute.” (Behold the Greek scholarship. See that it is good and rejoice).  Actually, it could also mean “the customer of a male prostitute,” or  “boy molester” or  “someone who abuses themselves with a man” or  “using sexual manipulation to acquire money” or … (eh hem, “Behold the great and powerful Greek Interpretation!” <insert flashing light and crashing thunder>).

So, the word in these two verses, that is frequently interpreted as “homosexual” (which is absurd because, in Greek, it is clearly only a word referring to men) or “sodomite” (which is absurd, among other reasons, because that was not the sin of Sodom, as we have already discussed), is really difficult to translate. Why? In part, because it is only found in these two places and also, in part, because it is entirely possible that it is a made up word. It is very likely that Greek speaking Jews created this word to port a Hebrew word to Greek and over time the meaning has been lost. So, it is just hard to translate. So difficult, in fact, that scholars can’t agree on a single best translation. What most biblical Greek scholars can agree on is that it is not meant to be a blanket statement about a male-male sex act. Moving on.

There is another word used in 1 Corinthians 6:9: malakos. The good news about this word is that it is found in lots of literature, so there are plenty of references about its typical intended meaning. It literally means “soft.”  Some say it means “soft” as in “effeminate, but not in terms of sexual orientation.” Others, say it is connected with being wasteful of sexual and financial resources. Still others convincingly point to it singling out a particular type of male prostitution involving young boys. Also in the list of contenders: sexual perverts, sodomites, weaklings, the self-indulgent. (“Behold the great and powerful Greek Interpretation!” <insert flashing light and crashing thunder>). Like with  arsenokoite-s there really is no expert consensus on this.

Malakos was a word that could be used to refer to things as diverse as men who were weak in battle (or who were “soft”), to men who lived extravagant and pampered lives (or who were… well, “soft”). It was not specifically about sexual relationships. If Paul was actually trying to describe something about a submissive male in a male-male relationship (which is still not the same as homosexuality as we understand it today), it’s very likely that he would have used kinaedos, which was frequently used to describe that very relationship. But he didn’t. So, stop acting like he was.

Clobbered

In summary of my look at the Christian Church’s use of the clobber verses, if you want to call homosexuality a sin, go ahead. But you are going to have to admit that it is not biblically a sin. Which means you are also going to have to admit that you are calling it a sin simply because that’s what you want to do. Because of that, you are going to have to admit that you are a sinner for using God’s name for false pretenses (it’s a little thing we like to call using God’s name in vain). And then, Paul has something to tell you, “…you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” (Romans 2:1).

Permission is granted for limited distribution “as is” with no altering.

Come Along For The Ride…

…and let’s see where we go.  I did say this is about writing, remember?  I wish there were a secret formula to writing, but if there is, I haven’t found it yet.  Well, that’s not true: I have found the secret formula, but it’s not what I wanted, and so for most of my life, I’ve just ignored it.  My own system hasn’t worked very well, and so I’ve decided to go back and give The Writer’s Secret Magical Formula® a try.  What’s that?  Just what is the magic formula?  Well, that’s the catch, isn’t it?  The formula itself is quite simple; it’s the doing it that is where most of us have trouble.  But since you’ve asked, I suppose I’m obliged to tell you, so here it is:  Writing is hard work!

I told you it was trouble.  How much hard work?  Well, that depends on you, really.  How do you define “hard”?  How about it I just tell you what’s involved, and then you can decide if it’s too much for you.

  1. “A writer writes.”  Billy Crystal’s character in Throw Momma From The Train had that advice for his writing students.  Overly simplistic, perhaps.  But let’s face it: books don’t write themselves.  They require an author.  If that’s you, then you need to accept a few realities besides this one.
  2. Writing requires a commitment.  And often, that commitment involves sacrifice.  Do you have a full-time job?  Are you a full-time student?  No, I’m not going to tell you to quit; I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid!  But I am going to tell you that unless that’s all you do in your life (your job or your school), you’re going to have to give up something.  It’s simple physics: you only have a specific number of hours in a day, and every minute you spend doing something else is a minute you take away from writing.
    So you’ll need to examine what it is you spend your time doing, and decide what you can give up.  Do you spend 3 hours a day on Facebook?  World of Warcraft?  SecondLife?  Are any of those more important to you than becoming an established writer?  Or are you willing to make the sacrifice (there’s that word again), leave the virtual world for a couple of hours every day, and accomplish something in the real world?
  3. If you’re willing to do that, then you need to decide how much time you’re willing to invest.  In her excellent book, How To Write an eBook in 40 Days, Brandy Miller says
    I recommend targeting 1500 words per chapter, which gives you a finished book length of 60,000 words.  Then make a commitment to hit that chapter word count every single day.  If you think you can’t hit 1500 words every day, but maybe you can do 500, commit to doing that.  If you want to write your book in less time, obviously you’ll need to increase your word count commitment.
  4. Put away the books.  I can’t tell you how many books I own that tell how to write a book, but I will tell you this much: they are all a great distraction.  They’re perfect for when I want to “research” for my novel.  At least that’s what I tell people I’m doing when they ask me “How’s the novel coming along?”  And since none of them are writers, they just smile and nod and say “Good luck!”  And I go back to reading, instead of actually writing my book.  Besides, do you really need a book to tell you how to write a book?  I will go out on a limb here and say NO!  You DON’T need to read a book to tell you how to write a book.  Just make the commitment and start writing!
  5. “But Robyn,” you say.  “What about all those books that tell you how to set up your work area, and what style guides and dictionaries to keep at hand?”  Hey, I have no problem with any of them—except when you spend too much time reading them instead of actually writing.  (Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Can you sum it up in three words? I can: “A writer writes.”)  Yes, those books are full of excellent advice, and you really should read them…but read them before you start writing.  That’s not to say not to keep your dictionary handy, but even so, stopping to look up the spelling of a word can derail your train of thought.  Besides, doesn’t your writing program have a spell-checker?

Look, you’re not reading this because you want to learn what you have to do to start to get ready to write your book.  You want to know what you need to do to actually write it.  Everything else is just getting ready.  Or, as Adolph Dietrich Friedrich Reinhardt said, “Art is art.  Everything else is everything else.”

However, if you are looking for information about learning how to write, I’ll be adding a page with links to tons of resources for you.  When I do that, I’ll post the link here.

A Rant (but a gentle one, I promise!)

Like too many other people in the world, I spend waste way too much time on Facebook.  What can I say? It is a convenient way to keep in touch with people. Of course, it’s also like ancient Egypt, where people wrote on walls and worshipped cats. And it’s also like being in jail: you have no privacy, people write on the walls, and complete strangers poke you.

But on the whole, I usually enjoy it.

But.  There are a lot of people on Facebook who must think they’re politicians, because they say a lot of things that aren’t true, they spout off their mouths without regard for the truth, and they don’t do the least amount of fact-checking.

So for those reasons, I’d like to share with you a web site that I refer to when I read something on Facebook that sounds just too outrageous to be true: Snopes. The site bills itself as the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.

In fact, I just made use of the site tonight, when someone had just posted a warning about carjackers sticking $100 bills under your windshield wipers in Walmart parking lots. Then, when you got out of your car to get it, they stole your car. Well, I couldn’t understand why the carjackers didn’t just grab your keys before you got in the car in the fist place, but I wanted proof. So I went to www.snopes.com and found out that this urban legend has been around since 2004. I also found out that there has never been a single case of this happening that was reported to any police department in the country (for the complete story, see http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/carjack.asp).

Okay, so this has nothing to do with the usual topics on this blog, but I just wanted to unload.

Christmas for Queers (like me)

A Letter To My Boyfriend’s Homophobic Parents On Christmas

By Caleb Woods on December 22, 2014
(Reposted from http://www.liberalamerica.org/2014/12/22/letter-boyfriend-parents-homophobic-christmas/)

Categories: Family, LGBT Pulse, Religion

Congratulations. You’ve won. You’ve earned your ticket into Heaven by showing your son God’s love.

You’ve shown your son God’s love by not allowing him to bring me to your home for Christmas. You’ve done exactly what Jesus would do – shun others. After all, Jesus didn’t let JUST ANYONE at his table. It’s sad that on a day you celebrate the birth of Christ, you’ll be acting in the complete opposite way that Jesus acted. Alas, you must show your son God’s love and not condone “our behavior.”

It worked last Christmas. You manipulated him into coming home and he was treated as if he were a leper. He was called names, harassed, and told he was going to Hell because I was dragging him there myself. He was in mental anguish over your treatment of him. You tore him apart with your words. You degraded your only son.

But this Christmas….. He’s over it. He’s over the threats, the lies, and the bullying. Since you don’t recognize him and I as a couple and since you’ve said you won’t treat us like part of the family, he’s decided to choose love over hate this Christmas. He’s choosing to NOT go back to what he once called home. His home is with me and it has been for three years. He’s become an integral part of my family. While you were shunning your son away, he found a family of his own. He found people who love him without conditions. He found a table he was welcome at.

During your Christmas celebration when you try to justify your actions, please remember that you gave your son an ultimatum – for him to get rid of the love of his life or to leave your family. I know you blame me for taking your son away, but whether I’m in the picture or not, your son is still gay and you must face this realization.

You’ve made it abundantly clear that you think I’m demon-possessed, a bad influence, and a sinner. Your judgment of me has no effect, but your treatment of your son causes my heart to bleed. I’ve had to sit by and watch you throw stones at the person I love most. I’ve watched as you and the rest of his family have disowned him. I’ve thought of every scenario to get you to love your son again. I’ve blamed myself because I felt as if I personally caused him to lose his family. I know this isn’t the case and that your son chose me because he recognized true love. I’m writing this to say that I have your son’s love and that’s all that matters. Your son and I love each other and that love is eternal and unconditional.

While you’re feeling comforted knowing that you’ll be rewarded in the next life for “not condoning the gay lifestyle”, I’m consoling your son in THIS LIFE. I’m the shoulder your son cries on today. I’m the person who will hug him tight tomorrow. I’m the one who will apologize on your behalf until the day I die. I’m the one who wants to scream at you and say, “Stop! You’re hurting your son! You’re hurting your only son!” But deep down, I know where your heart lies. Your heart beats to that of a literal interpretation of the Bible. Your heart beats to Fox News. Your heart beats to discrimination and treating other “sinners” the way you think they should be treated – condemned to Hell. Your heart beats with hatred to the things you fear and do not understand.

This Christmas, your son and I are surrounding ourselves with people who love and care about us. We understand what true love is. So this Christmas when you think to yourselves, “He’s abandoned his family for the gay lifestyle,” just know that your son didn’t abandon you. He’s been the same person he’s always been. You are the ones who changed. You’ve deemed certain people unworthy to sit at your table. You’ve put conditions on your love for your son and that is the worst Christmas gift of all.


Caleb Woods is a Communications and English major. He is a reader, a writer, and an activist for LGBT rights, women’s rights, and the rights of the American people. He has lived in Alabama for his entire life and has experienced first-hand discrimination and bigotry. He hopes to change hearts and minds across the world so that people may show more compassion and empathy for their fellow man and woman.