group magazine: September-October, 2011
LETTERS We'd love to hear your feedback; send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
shades of gray?
I wanted to write and express my opinion on the gay/lesbian article in your July/August 2011 issue. While I'm sure it is a "hot button" issue I think it's time we stopped focusing on same-sex relationships and paid attention to other issues facing our young people. I myself am currently experiencing problems with several of my youth—one in particular who insists on eating shellfish. He says he has always had a taste for clam chowder and lobster and crab cakes and such. He says it's something he is born with. I can't help but feel that his lack of commitment to the scriptures is affecting my whole group. Whenever we go out as a group he always suggests Joe's Crab Shack or some other seafood place. He's started wearing pro-shellfish T-shirts and his favorite TV show is The Deadliest Catch.
I'm constantly praying for him and telling him he's always welcome at youth group meetings, even though our church elders have suggested his family worship elsewhere. I know if he truly wants to commit to Jesus he will give up this practice. He also occasionally wears polyester (a BLENDED FABRIC) and his mother once brought a salad to the pot-luck supper made of vegetables she grew ALL IN THE SAME GARDEN. We are, for the most part, a very open-minded church and pray frequently that this family may be saved from Hell before it's too late. I thank you for your attention to this issue. Even though sin will always be sin, there is still hope in Christ.
Steve Case Florida
Matthew 11:20-24. This was the Gospel reading during the Eucharist I attended after reading the latest issue of Group Magazine. And it couldn't have come to me in a more timely or appropriate manner. Though I appreciated most of the articles regarding sexual sin, such as the ones dedicated to porn, adultery, and so on, I get greatly agitated when people claim that being gay or lesbian is sinful. I understand that Group's goal was to address the need for youth workers to better minister to these groups of youth. But our motivation in ministering to GLBT youth shouldn't be to only share the love of God with them in hopes to cure them from their "sinful sexual identity."
Unlike alcoholism, homosexuality isn't a disease that one can choose to overcome. Yes, many GLBT individuals choose to live as their heterosexual counterparts do by living promiscuously, having sex outside of marriage, and not respecting God's holy gift of sex as the ultimate way of consummating love. However, when two same-sex people have decided that they love God, love each other, and want to live together for the rest of their lives, how, then, can we judge that as an abomination or perversion? Seriously? We are calling what is rooted in love abomination?
I get that the Old Testament and the ancients of the church spoke out vehemently against sexual deviance. Even today, most people will agree that the aforementioned debauchery has to do with lust, dominance, and greed. Orgies were, and remain, vile. The few New Testament verses regarding sexual perversion are also addressing unnatural acts of erotic fornication. In no way should we consider these verses to be relevant to determining sexual identity; that's like comparing apples to oranges.
Matthew 11:20-24 warns us, the churched, that his truth is bigger than our often-misconceived interpretation of what is right and what is wrong. And one thing I know for sure is that God's Truth is rooted in love. Why, then, would we try to snuff the light out of our GLBT friends' lives by judging them and determining them to be "abomination"? You know what is abominable? Something unworthy of love or incapable of loving. And if our hearts have hardened so much that we can't recognize love when we see it, then friends, we've got bigger problems than trying to convert a homosexual!
Melissa L. Rau New York
As a youth pastor who personally deals with same-sex attractions, and who ministers to gay teens and their parents, I want to thank you for acknowledging an issue that has gone ignored far too long. My prayer is that this conversation continues to happen without alienating either side of the debate, but also without compromising God's Word. While homosexuality from a biblical standpoint is a "black and white issue," the Church must understand that homosexuality itself is a complex issue that needs to be approached in sincere compassion and love. Too many times, we forget that we are talking about people. The gay community is more than a sexuality label and a lifestyle; they are a community of people who attend our churches, youth ministries, and family gatherings.
I think the steps that Jeff illustrated in his article are a good starting point, but we need to go further. As youth workers, we need to get educated about what homosexuality is and what it is not. We need to create youth ministries that are safe to those who are gay. We need to be willing to walk beside parents of gay teens, as a listener and a prayer warrior. We need to lay aside our theological debates in order to establish a physical presence of Jesus within the gay community. This doesn't mean that we deny what God has said about the issue, but what right do we have to speak such truth if we aren't willing to engage them through authentic relationships, first?
I had the opportunity to sit on the panel that Jeff talked about in his article. I had high hopes for the discussion, but was disappointed when everything was over. People left halfway through out of anger and confusion. Others stayed and tried to start arguments with the panel and other attendees, or so it seemed. We never really talked about gay students and how we minister to them, which is why we were there in the first place. We need to be adults about this, and we need to agree that we're going to disagree theologically about whether or not homosexuality is a sin. Our objective isn't so much that we convince each other of whose side is right, rather our main objective is helping our students, gay and straight, embrace the heart and person of Jesus Christ. If we focus on loving students into God's presence, he'll take care of the rest. My story, along with many others, illustrates this time and again.
Group, please don't let the conversation die
here. Keep it going. Thanks.
Shawn Harrison Ohio
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