I wish Christians would stop calling homosexUALITY a sin

Kelvin is a respectable church-going single man. Kelvin appreciates church involvement more than most, because he would be even more lonely without it.
But Kelvin has a secret: He is not actually attracted to women. He is attracted to men. No, Kelvin is not sexually active. But he knows that, were the church to know his attraction is to men, they would reject him. God, Kelvin knows, does not reject him. God loves him with his struggles and all, the same way God would love a straight man or woman, or a lesbian, with all of their struggles.
Kelvin believe God calls him to be involved at church, but the church is a lonely place in itself. Kelvin would never be accepted there if they knew about his sexual attraction to men. The others members of his church continually talk how sinful homosexuality is, and how God hates it.
Somewhat ironically, there is an understanding community where Kelvin’s loneliness will be silenced, somewhat: A gay teen usually grows up with many peers not wanting to play with him, and often with his dad rejecting him. In the gay community peers will play with him and older men will give him attention…
Julie is a 14-year-old girl in Sunday School and realizes that she likes girls, not boys. She is ashamed of that – her church calls it sinful. It is hard enough to be a teenager already, without hearing she is (without ever having acted on her desires) more shameful than her peers.
The gathering of believers is supposed to be a family for the lonely, but Kelvin’s church, and Julie’s church, are not. Churches does not have room for the Kelvins and the Julies to be honest, to admit their circumstances and feelings. If they knew the truth about Kevin, he would be stripped of the church tasks he currently does well. If they knew the truth about Julie, she would be ostracised at an age where finding a way to fit in is the big identity struggle. Is this the reflection of a Christ who would not break a bruised reed, who gives life and hope, who calls us to give honour to all members?
The church’s actions needs to change, but so does it words. For a start, I suggest to never use the words “homosexuality is a sin”. What you are probably trying to say is that homosexual intercourse is a sin, so say that instead.
Why? What is the difference? The difference is that “homosexuality” is a part of a life outlook which most likely also have non-sexual components, like an interest and aptitude for things the culture associate with the opposite sex. But God-given gifts – even if we associate it with the other sex – is irrevocable. (Rom. 11:29)
Calling a certain act (homosexual intercourse) wrong is one thing. Calling someone’s way of being human, with its combination of good and bad qualities, sin in its entirety, is very different.
Even better, do not say it at all. The gay community already know what you think of their actions. “Love the sinner, hate the sin“, you say? Fine. Let us learn to love the sinner.
Maybe you know want to say now: “It is loving to point out that what someone does is wrong…” Depends. If he don’t know what he does is wrong, and you can get him to stop, it may be. But there is a gazillion other things that are also loving, like – for a start – having a friendly conversation with him, the same way you would with anyone else. Or inviting him to your home for dinner – not to lecture him, but the same way you invite any other friend. The other people you invite for dinner certainly have their own sinful desires too, and God does not see the sinful desires of the gay man or lesbian as any worse.
And when you hear anyone else say “homosexuality is a sin”, be quick to tell him that he should stop trash talking a gay person’s personhood, character and (even non-sexual) desires. Insist that the trash talker should at least limit his judgement to the sexual acts he regards (by his Bible understanding) as sinful. Straight people also have sinful sexual desires (and many of us act on it), but we never say “heterosexuality is a sin” when we hear of sinful heterosexual desires. We do not make people unwelcome in a faith community when we hear they are heterosexual, when we suspect they may have a propensity for illicit acts with the opposite sex.


Please do not, from this article, try to deduct my opinion of gay intercourse. This piece is aimed at those making church a place where homosexuality cannot be admitted, not an opinion in the debate on whether the texts used to denounce gay acts apply to the gay community as it exists today.

Religious trama syndrome? What?

A new idea is doing the rounds among atheists: They claim there is something called “religious trauma syndrome.” (From here on, I will call it RTS for short.) Well, that proves “religion” is bad, does it not?

But it is wise to question what you hear, so I will ask what evidence exists for these claims.

1) Is there actually a condition named “religious trauma syndrome”?

RTS is not an accepted psychological definition. It certainly does not appear in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals). By my understanding, psychology tends to not need syndrome names like “religious trauma syndrome” or “rape trauma syndrome”, because they learn to recognize and deal with trauma, whatever the source. Continue reading

Marriage, health and wealth – which is cause, which is effect?

Does anyone have data to say if this argument is the right way round?:

“Marriage is the greatest ‘program’ to end poverty, child abuse, child sexual abuse, school dropout, college failure, health problems, drug problems, depression, out-of-wedlock births to teenagers, reduce abortions, increase homeownership and savings…” – Ken Blackwell and Pat Fagan

They say that if people marry, they are less likely to encounters all these negative things. But is there anything to prove either that, or the opposite idea. The opposite will be:

“Child abusers, the kind of people who are school or college dropouts and/or won’t encourage their (future) children to stay in school, who are ill or prone to drug problems and depression, who have nothing to save, who will waste the money of a partner rather than manage it wisely, are less likely to find marriage partners, or stay married.”

In the first idea, marriage is the cause and safety, health and wealth the effect. The married could say singles have only themselves to blame for their bad luck – they could marry and have all the same good things married people do.

In the second one, safety, (physical and mental) health and wealth causes good marriage prospects. In the first picture, the woman in the poor, crime-ridden neighbourhood could simply marry instead of having her kids out of wedlock, and everything will be better. In the second, she may be worse of with her baby’s daddy, and it could be sensible to not marry him.


Another reason why consent is not enough to make BDSM okay

This quote by C. K. Egbert shows why we cannot make “consent” our only standard of whether an action is moral or not:

“Let’s presuppose that we live in the world the BDSM people would like, where the “physical details really only matter in the contexts of safety [sic]…and consent…” There are several problems with the idea that we should divorce harm from wrong. The first is that there is no longer any way to conceptualize bodily integrity (including the harm of pain or suffering); consent by itself cannot differentiate between the harm of rape and the harm of a stolen pencil. Any attempt at putting limits on the violence, or adding in additional constraints, will be merely arbitrary and ad hoc.

As a result, there are no limits to the abuse men can inflict upon women (even to the point of murdering women through sexualized torture, as happened in the Cindy Gladue case). It will be even more difficult for women to prove assault or abuse (in addition to the inherent problems with proving non-consent) because it will be presumed that a woman could have consented to anything.

… The only harm that is recognized is when the woman herself sees it as a harm, and yet she is being told every day of her life (through pornography, socialization, and through our social responses to violence) that she deserves to be hurt, used, and violated. This is especially pernicious given that women already minimize and deny their experiences of abuse…

We already know how “fantasy” plays out in real life. Many men would be willing to rape using physical force or intimidation, if they think they could get away with it (if we include emotional coercion, bullying, pressuring, and manipulation, no doubt the numbers would be much higher). Thanks to increasingly violent pornography and the mainstreaming of BDSM, men are coercing women into more painful, dangerous, and violent sex acts.

“Consent”, while it is certainly a part of ethics, cannot distinguish between rape (or murder, for that matter) and a stolen pencil. Our ethics certainly need to go further than that. And it does not become okay to violate and torture a woman when you (and society) convinced her she deserves the bad treatment.

Where is God when bad things happen? How could God allow it?

It is a very old question: Where is God when bad things happen? How could God allow it? The topic even has a big name – theodicity.

Now, I have read a lot of head answers to the theodicity question. I am sure that topics like free will and the fact that humanity was made in such a way that our actions, good or bad, affect each other plays a role. I have read C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” long ago and found it good.

But this is not just a head question, it is very much a heart question. In my opinion, the apologists who treat this as only an intellectual problem miss the point. Most of their their brainy answers are probably right, but most of the askers are people with broken hearts, asking this from the heart and not the head. Continue reading

Good News Clubs and their critics, part 3: Is calling the child a sinner a way to deny his inherent worth/ intrinsic dignity?

I hate the little Red Riding Hood story. I have studied at least 40 different Little Red Riding Hood Books or volumes of collected fairytales, and the story always have the same theme: It is about a girl and grandmother getting eaten by a wolf, about vulnerable people losing against the bad guys. The message of Little Red Riding Hood is that we will always lose against the wolves preying on us. – Little Red Riding Hood Info

That is roundabout how the sites “Intrinsic Dignity” and “Good News Club Info” (what a misleading name! These sites spread negative propaganda, not objective info) look at Good News Clubs. Even though there is a wolf gobbling up a girl and old lady in the story, Little Red Riding Hood is not a story about a wolf winning. The wolf loses.

And if I put GNC teaching in a diagram form, with gold, black, red, white and green squares representing the 5 oft-repeated messages, and the other colors some less used messages, the clubs looks about like this: Continue reading

Perhaps we argue about Calvinism/ Arminianism because we don’t understand time as God does

Imagine a world that is flat like a piece of paper. Two-dimensional characters live there. They can go forwards and backwards and left and right, but not up or down. They don’t have any words for “up” or “down.”

Flat world1


You are standing close to the edge of their world at one corner, looking at 2 inhabitants named Pancake and Paper. You start talking to them. All they see is your waist. You describe to them your head and feet and general shape, and how your waist is at the edge of their planet. Because they don’t understand up and down, they imagine you lying down flat in their world. Pancake believe, by the explanation you gave, that your feet is closest toward them and your head furthest. Paper believe the opposite. They start arguing about your position.

Flat world


The problem is that Paper and Pancake don’t understand the up-down dimension you also live in.

I think the problem with Calvinism/ Arminianism can be solved in a similar way.

Time is a dimension in which we can only walk one way – forward, but can only see one way – backward. We know the past, not the future. We go towards the future, not the past. We cannot see or go to any era we choose.

But, by what is said in the Bible, God knows both past and future. He is omnipresent, and without beginning or end. As such, God was/will be present in both the past and the future. This diagram shows, in light yellow, where God sees, and where God is, in time. It shows, by contrast, a human being walking towards the future too.

god sees and is

How does this relate to the Calvinism issue? Well, according to Calvinism, God elected some people before the foundation of the world. From our human perspective, that means God chose some people – and neglegted to choose others – without them even existing yet.

But within this perspective He could have chosen us before the foundation of the world – while actually looking at us, while seeing us respond to God’s message.

Basically, Calvinists say it happens in the order of: 1) God saves you. 2) The world began. 3) You were born. 4) God worked in your heart to accept him, and you did.

Many other believers say it happens in the order of : 1) The world began. 2) You were born. 3) God worked in your heart to accept him, and you did. 4) God saves you.

But if God is not limited to our time, then he could save in His time, a time which we cannot figure out if it is first or last, the same way the Flat World inhabitants cannot figure out if your feet is closer or further than your head from them.

Most objections to Calvinism seem to be meaningless when we understand that God don’t see time as we do:

Two objections to Calvinism, and how God seeing all time and being in all time seem to answer them:

Objection 1: What is the point in evangelism, if God already decided who will be saved?* God may have decided to save Sipho and Fatima and Hans and Elma and Juan because he saw Sipho and Fatima and Hans and Elma and Juan responding to evangelism.

Objection 2: Election makes God cruel and arbitrary. Not so, if He elects while seeing and knowing, and being in, the past and present and future, if He elects those who chose Him.

My conclusion

Calvinism/ Arminianism is probably not worth debating over. There is not a right or wrong answer here. Where a belief or nonbelief in election leads to wrong actions, then it becomes a problem. But election itself, if God knows and sees past, future, and present, should not be the problem it is. It should not cause church splits.

At least this is how I see it.



*Before making the argument above, I used to answer “What is the point in evangelising, if God already decided who will be saved?” this way:

It matters a lot to the elect. Knowing Jesus is it’s own reward in this life, and it inspires a meaningful life of “loving others as yourself” and making a difference in other lives by the power of God. It makes a difference to the life of the elect on earth if he is saved just before dying or live his life for God. Similarly, to the elect it makes a difference how much they walk, day by day, with God. Christianity also has an effect on the lives of others among whom the Christians live – Christians introduced literacy to most languages on earth, started hospitals, etc.

So yes, the gospel do make a difference in this world -directly to those who accept it, indirectly to others – whether people can go to heaven without hearing it or not.