Monday, August 27, 2012

A Friend's Path To A European Civil Commitment Ceremony

I've talked about Bill before in this blog. I first met him 6 years or so ago I guess. He was living in Florida at that time. He was married and had grown children.

Bill's a complex guy. When we met we just kind of hit it off. I liked his easy going demeanor, his sense of humor and his ability and willingness to engage in conversation. To tell the truth, I don't remember how long Bill and I had known each other before he began to let me in on the fact that his marriage was and always had been broken. The only thing of value his marriage had brought to him was his three sons. Other than that it had been a bleak and cold relationship.

Bill had been raised in a loving solid home by a former World War II B-17 pilot who became a successful business man with a major corporation after the war. Bill's mother, who is still living, is a fascinating though somewhat charmingly eccentric woman who often deferred to her husband as was expected in that day, but who has done exceeding well in living her own life in the years since his death. Though the number of her years has increased to a level few achieve, she remains physically active and mentally sharp. She has always loved and been proud of her son and she still is. Bill's father was somewhat more stern than his mother but he loved and cared for his family. Communication was not the family's strongest characteristic. However, the children were made aware of what was expected of them and they did as was expected, except that Bill was always very much aware he did not live up to his father's ideals. He wasn't into sports and he had no fascination with most of the things that interested his father.

Bill always says he was raised at a heathen. It wasn't that his family wasn't Christian. His father and his mother belonged to a church, but it was a business thing for his father, something he felt was good for his career. The family rarely attended church and Bill had no real instruction in Christian beliefs and practices.

As a teenager, Bill found himself enrolled in a private school. He was enrolled in the private school because his father hoped it would help to steer him away from some of his more obvious homosexual like tendencies his father recognized in him. Private school was neither an exceptionally good nor an exceptionally bad thing for Bill. It simply was a fact of life and he made the best of it. However, it did little to steer him away from those things within himself that both he and his father suspected might be indicative of homosexuality.

After graduating from high school, Bill entered college and it was there his life began to take a real turn. He came to the attention of a group of students who were starting a campus mission ministry. Soon, Bill was not only a part of the mission movement; but one of the campus leaders of its ministry. For a young man who did not have a religious background, this group of people seemed caring and committed. He enjoyed their company and their discussions about service to God and ministry to others. For the first time in his life, Bill felt as if he really belonged to something important.

It was through this mission group that Bill met the woman who was to become his wife. It was a strange and unconventional relationship. There was very little, if any romance about it. Instead they talked of what they could do for God as a mission ministry team. Their relationship came to the attention of ministry leaders and the couple was encouraged to marry. Because the leadership wanted him to marry, Bill agreed.

Not long after his marriage Bill began to see that what he had first seen as a homogenic mission movement dedicated to serving God was really more of a cult in which competing factions were battling for power. This power struggle shocked him and disturbed him to the point that he began backing away from the group though he had become credentialed as one of its ministers.

He could back away from the group, but he could not back away from the marriage the group had encouraged him to enter. He was determined to make the best of it though there was very little he could use as material for building a sound and proper marriage.

In time three sons were born. That was a good thing, but the bad thing was that after the birth of the third son, Bill's wife announced she had done her duty to God and that she was no longer willing to have a sexual relationship with Bill.

Through the ensuing years the two raised their boys and managed to keep up appearances as a married couple. After the boys were away from home, the relationship became more and more strained with Bill eventually moving into a separate bedroom and more and more living his own life separate and apart from that of his wife.

It was during this period Bill began to let himself explore himself as a person and fully contemplate the differences within him of which he had always been aware. Most of his life he had known he was different, but he'd never really put a label on that difference. Now, he began to realize that the label that applied to him was that of a homosexual man. The Florida city, in which he lived was cosmopolitan and had a large and active gay community. Bill became more and more active in that community, not in a sexual way; but rather using it as a connection to find friends and causes. Bill became very much a part of the gay community's charity fund raisers. Soon he was meeting regularly to play tennis with gay friends and became very much a part of the activities within the gay community, but not sexually active within it.

Bill's new life in the gay community was a very good thing for him. It gave him fulfillment through the charitable work and it gave him new friends he enjoyed. But there was a down side too. He began to realize just how broken and hopeless his marriage was.

It was during this period that he and I met. After a while he began to let me in on the pain of his marriage and his life. He shared with me his sorrow that he had never really known love or experienced it in an unbounded and unfettered way. But he also told me that as a Christian he did not feel free to divorce his wife and begin a new life. My answer to that was one word we use from time to time here in Texas, "Bullshit."

Over the next several months, I began to push Bill to embrace new paradigms about his marriage and his life. I told him the ideal of a good Christian marriage was great, but that he was not living in such a marriage. He wanted very much to keep his vows to his wife. I told him, in fact, she had already broken her vows to him by withholding sex from him for years. I told him God appreciated a willingness to keep ones vows, but He also wanted those he loves to be happy. I encouraged Bill to see that he was in a life situation that would never allow for his happiness.

I had no way of knowing, because Bill never shared it with me; but at the same time I was working with him to embrace new paradigms within the context of his faith, another friend was coming at him hard to do the same thing within the context of his homosexuality.

I'm not sure whether it was one or the other of us that finally broke through to him or the two of us double teaming him that did it, but he did finally embrace a new outlook for his life and begin to set it in motion. The last barrier to change, which he erected, was that he hated the possibility of growing old alone, perhaps never finding someone new with whom to spend his life. He clung to that for a while, but one day he told me he had decided he would be happier living alone for the rest of his life than he would be living his present life which he had comes to see as no life at all.

He came out to his wife and told her he wanted a divorce. She resisted, but he was resolute. He told her he would be fair to her in every way, dividing all they had equally between the two of them. He gave her the choice of the house or a new apartment. She choice a new apartment. He helped her get her financial life in order and helped her to move into the new apartment. During this time he also came out to his sons and to his aged mother. They were not overjoyed with the news; but all of them, including his mother, were generally supportive. To Bill's great joy sharing the reality of his homosexuality with his mother caused her to launch into a long dialogue about the early life of the family from her point of view as well as her sharing some of her personal thoughts about religion, God, love and romance. It was a conversation Bill was thrilled to be a part of and it most likely would have never taken place if he had not shared his greatest secret with his mother.

For a while after his divorce, Bill took great pleasure in redoing his home to suit his taste and his needs. It was a great pleasure for him to do it as he wanted without having to satisfy his wife or compromise with her on style. Once the house began to take on his view of what it should be, he began to entertain his gay friends in the house and around the pool. He was enjoying his new life. Perhaps enjoying it too much.

It soon became obvious to me that Bill was enjoying his old friends, but he was not making any attempt to find new ones. I began to push him again to start looking around with an eye to finding a special guy. Somewhat reluctantly at first, he did begin to step out into dating. Being a good looking older guy with a nice home and all, he began to catch the notice of younger guys who were looking for older guys. Fortunately, he kept his wits about himself and weeded through those who were looking for someone to keep them.

There were one or two guys more his own age who came along at first seeming like possibilities, but time revealed they weren't. Bill mentioned to me that he might just have to make good on the possibility of living alone for the rest of his life.

Then one day, he revealed to me he had met an interesting guy on line who lived in Europe. He was close to Bill's age. He had been in a 30 year partnership with another man who had passed away. As the days and weeks passed the two of them became more and more interested in each other. Soon, John suggested that he wanted to come to Florida to meet Bill in person. Bill agreed and the trip was scheduled. Bill was atwitter with excitement about the visit, but he didn't want to appear to be over excited, so he put John in one of the guest bedrooms.

During the visit John tried to make it clear to Bill that he was physically interested in him. Bill was very much physically interested in John, but was terrified of misreading the situation. He lay awake in his bedroom hoping John would take it upon himself to come in. John lay awake in his bedroom thinking he must have not made any impression at all on Bill because he remained seemingly aloof.

I never knew about this stand off; but fortunately, Jonathan did because he and Bill happened to connect on line right in the middle of it. Jonathan gave Bill some rather blunt instruction; and fortunately, Bill had the courage to put it into play. The rest is history as they say. The first meeting was not only saved, but John extended his visit beyond the planned departure date.

But the departure date finally did come and John left to go back to Europe telling Bill he would make arrangements for him to visit in Europe soon. That, I did hear about. Bill called me in great consternation. "What was he going to do?" he asked. John had asked him to visit him in Europe but he couldn't afford to go just then. John had told him he would bear the cost of the trip, but Bill didn't feel he could accept such a generous offer.

"Didn't you entertain John with all the resources you had at hand when he was in Florida?" I asked. Bill replied that he had. "Then why are you going to forbid him to do the same thing to facilitate your going to Europe? I asked. The point was made and Bill saw it. John had enjoyed his trip to Florida and felt they ultimately got along very well there, but he wanted Bill to come to Europe to see if they got along well on his turf. It seemed to me a very logical thing to do, and though I had not yet met John it impressed me that he recognized the need to get Bill to Europe to insure that any future relationship could span the Atlantic and take root on both continents. The trip finally took place. Bill was introduced to John's friends across Europe and they had a great time just as they had in Florida. I still had no personal contact with John at this point, but I heard a great deal about him through Bill, and I certainly could hear in Bill's voice and not just in his words that he (Bill) was very very happy.

I was later to find out that though I didn't have contact with John, Jonathan did. And Jonathan, being a partnered homosexual man and very much aware of and a part of the homosexual community had no problem in asking John directly just what his intentions were toward his friend, Bill. The reality was, I wasn't really very worried about John's intentions. Once I found that he had been partnered with a man for 30 years who had passed away, I was pretty sure his intentions were to find a similar relationship. Nothing else made much sense to me. Studies have shown that, contrary to popular belief, those who are in solid happy relationships are quicker to enter into new relationships on the death of a partner than are those who were in unhappy relationships.

Other visits back and forth across the Atlantic took place. They also traveled together to a resort in the Americas. They traveled together to a resort island off the western coast of Africa. Soon I was told they were planning a civil commitment ceremony in Europe during August, 2012. I was thrilled. Bill was so happy he was like a different person. I determined right away I would like to attend the ceremony and began trying to make it happen from my end. For a while it looked like it just could not happen but in the end it all worked out.

Two days before the August date for the ceremony, my wife and I flew to Europe. The ceremony was planned to be held in an old 19th century mansion which had been turned into a hotel overlooking the sea. It was a beautiful place. The rooms were large and furnished with antiques. My wife loved it. The grounds were expansive with formal lawns and flowered gardens and wooded walks. I loved that.

The ceremony day dawned bright and clear. Temperatures were in the 70's. It was a perfect day. John's family and friends gathered. Jonathan and his partner flew in from their home in another European country. My wife and I were there from the States.

Ceremony House And Grounds
The ceremony itself was lovely and brief. It was followed by a formal luncheon and then the guests took advantage of the first warm sunshiny summer day and sat out on the lawn of the mansion talking and drinking. It was a wonderful day. Jonathan and I talked together for a long time getting acquainted with each other. He's a great young man and a true friend of Bill's. I also had time to talk with John's friends and family. They were interested in the United States as I was in their country. The celebration moved to a local restaurant for dinner and then to the bar next door for the rest of the night. It was a grand and wonderful day.

I was pleased to learn that in much of Europe homosexuality is not a big deal. Even Catholic countries like the one in which the ceremony was held have largely abandoned their unquestioning loyalty to the Pope in many personal matters, and started making up their own minds on things. As one straight friend of John's told me, "I wouldn't question John's choice to marry a lady, why should I question his choice to marry a man?" It seemed a rather apt question to me. John lives in a small traditional village. The fact that he is well liked and accepted there was evident by the straight couples who were invited to attend the ceremony. It was also evident the night before when we all went out drinking in the village and Bill and John were congratulated all night as people came in for their evening drinks.

John and Bill on Their Commitment Day
John and Bill have begun a new life together. Like the lives of any new couple, there will be challenges, victories and defeats. There will be good times and bad. There will be laughter and tears, sadness and joy, but there will also be awesome opportunities, some of which Bill has never before experienced. Most of all there is already love which with nurture from the two of them will grow stronger and pleasantly mellow with age. With any luck, they'll have a long and happy life together. John has what he wanted, another good partner. Bill has the life he's never had, someone to love him and need him. They are two very different types of people, but their differences will add character and excitement to the partnership. It will also make it stronger as each influences the other through the best parts of his own personality.

It was a long journey for Bill. Jonathan and I had to spur him on from time to time, but the success was his. As I have told him often, "I only offered you suggestions, you did all the work of implementing them." And that is the truth. Implementing the suggestions was not always easy but was always necessary if Bill was to have the life he wanted. He had the courage to step into the unknown. As one of Bill's gay Florida friends said, "I've been gay all my life and have no partner. Bill's been gay for 5 minutes and has already found his."

Perhaps it was a little more than 5 minutes, but the point is he had the courage to go for it. It's what life is all about.

As Americans, we like to think we lead the world in every way. We like to think the world looks to us for protection, help in time of crisis, culture and the freedom of person as well as freedom of  ideals. Unfortunately, in many ways, America is no longer an unchallenged world leader. The freedom to choose one's life partner is a basic human right. It is a right recognized and accepted in much of Europe. It is a right recognized in only six American States and explicitly denied by the Federal Government of the United States of America.

This country was founded by our forefathers on the ideal of religious freedom. That means, as citizens we have the right to believe and the right not to believe in God. We have the right to see God in the light of our own individual experiences of Him. However, in this country we have reached the point where one group, Fundamental Right Wing Christians, have come to believe that only they have the right to interpret God and define His will. They expect the rest of us to accept that we are bound to their view of God and what He blesses and what He does not bless. This group has become so strong that national laws are passed to support their agendas and their viewpoints. The National Defense of Marriage Act is one such law. It denies a basic human right to millions of Americans because Fundamental Christians have the power to make it the law of the land. The founding fathers would be aghast.

That has to change and change quickly if we are to remain the land of the free. I've been married to my wife for almost 50 years. She and I attended John and Bill's Commitment Ceremony. By doing so we got much closer than many married Americans will ever get to same sex marriage. You know what? It had no ill effect whatsoever on our own marriage. Those who say it does impact marriage between a man and a woman simply lie.

My thanks to John and Bill for allowing me to blog about this very personal part of their lives and even use their real pictures in the piece. They did it for one very simple reason. It is their hope that by allowing me to tell their story, others will be helped to see the possibilities in their own lives. Bill once thought that any change in his life was impossible. What he found, when he had the courage to look, was that change was not only possible, it could come very quickly from the most unexpected places.

Jonathan and I made a few suggestions to Bill. He had the courage to think about the suggestions and then implement them in a way that changed his life. I hope his courage appeals to those of you who would like to see a change in your lives. I hope it makes you aware of new possibilities in your own life.

As a liberal minded Christian it is my belief that God does not love Bill and John any more than He loves anyone else. He does not give John and Bill opportunities He is not willing to give to others. The only limiting factor on God granting us opportunity is our willingness to see them through. John and Bill were ready and willing. Are you?

Jack Scott

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back Home in Texas

I enjoyed my trip to Europe so much. It was great to see, for the first time, the land my ancestors left more than 250 years ago for a new life in America.

As I flew over the North Atlantic, my thoughts turned to what it must have been like for those brave people to set out from their homes knowing they would never see the land of their birth again. Unlike me, crossing the Atlantic at 40,000 feet in great comfort in only 7 hours, they had to cross it on the surface enduring storms, food hardly worth the title; and most significantly, the unknown at the end of their long, horrific journey. It's almost unimaginable to me the courage such a journey would have taken.

There was much I enjoyed about the land of my ancestors. There are ways life there is better than the life we live here in America. Everywhere I went there was an obvious sense of community. The people I met seemed to live life at a slower pace and with a more obvious sense of enjoyment than we do here in the U.S.A. I found that a wonderful thing.

I had the chance to talk at length with a few locals and I was charmed by their attitude of willingness to  live their lives and let others live theirs. It's a virtue, we've somehow forgotten here in the U.S.A.

I was greatly surprised that in a country which I thought of as very Catholic,  many seem to have thrown off Catholicism while retaining a real sense of spiritualism and faith in God as they define it for themselves, refusing to accept the definitions the Pope would have them abide by.

It occurred to me that the people I met there were, in a very real way, doing what gay and bisexual men should be doing, coming to self acceptance of the realities of their lives and living their lives on their own terms, not on terms defined by others.

Like my ancestors, these people possess a remarkable will to carry on, and they have learned to meet the hardships of life with a remarkable philosophy of self reliance, a can do attitude and a determination born of necessity.

Again, it occurred to me that these are the very same qualities required for a guy to meet the demands of successfully living the life of a bisexual or homosexual man.  I think it important to note that these are all qualities and not rules. There are no hard and fast rules for living one's life successfully as a bisexual or homosexual man. There are many paths to success which vary by individuals and their circumstance, but the qualities that insure success are, more often than not, universally applicable.

As many of you know, I went to Europe for a purpose that included more than just returning to my ancestral home for the first time. I'll have more to say about that in an upcoming blog piece.

Jack Scott

Friday, August 17, 2012

So You Want To Hear From Someone With Credential Huh?

Helping married guys with their homosexuality or their bisexuality started out as an avocation for me. It sprang from my own struggles with self-hatred and despair over my own sexuality.

I'm sure it seems crazy to some of  you but in the early years of my adulthood I didn't even know what I was. I knew I wasn't "normal" in sexual terms as compared to other guys. I knew I was attracted to certain types of males and I knew I had sexual dreams about males.

At the same time though I knew I absolutely loved straight sex and I knew I could never get enough of it. What did that make me other that queer? Or weird? Or crazy? Or damned?

In those days there was no internet to turn to for information. In the small town I lived in there wasn't even a library to turn to because the librarian had known me most of my life. Over almost 30 years I worked out my own redemption. It was a long difficult journey. As the song says, "I Wouldn't Take Nothin for My Journey Now," but at the time the journey almost killed me.

But the school of hard knocks has a long record of esteemed graduates. It also has a longer list of those who failed to make the cut. Many don't graduate, but those that do are generally recognized experts in their field of study.

It was from this perspective that I began my avocation of helping guys cope with sexual desires and drives they did not understand. Early successes must have been more the result of a benevolent God that me; but nevertheless, there were successes. That spurred me on.

After I retired from my career, what had been a mere avocation began to demand more and more of my time and energy. That was a good thing. It kept me busy and it kept my mind off my own health problems.

But on a fairly regular basis I come into contact with guys who want credentials other than those offered by the school of hard knocks.

Fortunately those credentials are fairly easy to supply. The following is a case in point:

Jay Michaelson is a writer, scholar and activist whose work addresses the intersections of religion, sexuality, spirituality and law. He is the author of "God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality," available on from Beacon Press.

Jay is is the author of three other books and more than 200 articles, essays, and works of fiction. He is the Associate Editor of Religion Dispatches, a Contributing Editor to the Forward newspaper, and Founding Editor of Zeek magazine. His work on behalf of sexual minorities in religious communities has been featured in the New York Times, CNN and NPR, as well as several anthologies.

Jay has held teaching positions at Boston University Law School, City College of New York and Yale University. He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Hebrew University, an M.F.A. in writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and a B.A. magna cum laude from Columbia, and is completing his Ph.D. at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has been a scholar-in-residence at dozens of universities, synagogues and other institutions.

In 2009, Jay was included on the “Forward 50″ list of “the men and women who are leading the American Jewish community into the 21st century,” and in June, 2010, he won the New York Society for Professional Journalists “Deadline Club” award for opinion writing.

This man has credentials on his credentials commonly known as credentials out the wazoo! For more information on Jay see the web site at

Don't get me wrong. I hope you'll read my blog regularly, but if you need supporting references this guy can provide them.

The fact of the matter is that if you are reading this blog you are more than likely a married homosexual or bisexual man or married to one. The other facts that go along with that is you sexuality is not going to change and more than likely you are not going to be able to ignore it. You're going to have to deal with it in some manner.

Doing that is not going to be pleasant, easy or free of feelings of guilt. But it is necessary and you might as well have help. Help is available in many places. Reach out and grad some. You'll be a better man for it. You'll also be a happier man and a healthier man.

Jack Scott

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Tale of Two Men

No one ever said living as a bisexual or homosexual man was easy. Even in this relatively enlightened era, its a damn hard thing to do.

And then there are those crazies out there who, even today in the light of readily available information from psychotherapist and other expert conclusions, claim that homosexuality or bisexuality is just a choice.

As the best friend I ever had said about his own homosexuality, "Who in their right mind would choose such a thing and give up almost all of everything he's worked for all his life?"

It's just not easy and even in spite of the continued progress that is sure to come in the next several years as gays and bisexuals continue to gain legal acceptance, I doubt that it will ever be an easy thing.

That said, my Dad taught me early in life (taught is a euphemistic word for "beat into me") that any thing that is worth anything is hard. He also taught me that anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Unfortunately, I know too many guys who didn't have a father like mine to compel them to learn those two vital life lessons.

Two Men on a Road, One Prepared. The Other….
Over the last year or so I have been working personally with a couple of guys here in Houston. These two guys have much in common. They have never met and neither knows of the other. Both are professional men. Both are almost the same age, about 30 and 31. One is in a public service profession which can be rewarding but it will never provide him with much more than the necessities of life. The other works for a multi-national company in an industry which has made Houston the 4th largest city in the United States, is vital to our National economy and to our way of life. As such, even as a 30 year old relatively new to the job, he earns a six figure salary.

These two guys were referred to me by mutual friends because they were having extreme difficulty accepting their homosexuality. Actually, neither man felt he could live as a homosexual man and certainly neither man wanted to live with it. One was depressed and withdrawn, almost incapable of functioning socially. The other was in a full blown panic attack which was interfering with his ability to carry out the demands of his job, interfering with his ability to sleep and causing him to think in circles which left him physically and emotionally exhausted and frustrated. Both men were in deep trouble and needed professional help at the time I met them.

It's been approximately 18 months since I met these two guys. The coincidence of meeting two guys seemingly dealing with the same problem yet affected in two different ways has left me with a striking opportunity to observe and compare their struggles and the resulting outcomes.

White these two guys have much in common, as I pointed out above, the way they have responded to their problems has nothing in common. Neither does the way they have responded to me as I attempted to intervene and get them pointed in a direction that would mitigate their current dilemmas and lead to a level of self understanding and self acceptance, allowing them to live active and productive lives.

I should add at this point that each of the guys are genuinely nice guys. Even though they are both doing well in their professional lives, each has the potential to do much more simply because they are so young and so new to their professions. Both are guys any one would be glad to have as a neighbor.

The first guy who is in the public service profession I will call Kyle. The other guy in the multi-national company I will call Dave.

When I first was introduced to Kyle, I thought he was a nice guy, too shy for his own good; but likable. He has boyish good looks and a pleasant though elusive smile. My first meeting with Dave was much different. Meeting him was an event, both a social and a physical thing. He was a physical and an intellectual force. He was not shy. He had a firm handshake, a pleasant but no nonsense manner about him and a first class ability to communicate. Physically, he was imposing. He had cold black hair cut short, muscled arms, wide shoulders and broad chest. I later found he works out every morning before work in the company gym and every afternoon after work in a commercial gym. He isn't muscled like a muscle man, but he is definitely defined and toned. This guy is very easy to like. He is personable and outgoing.

As my relationship began to develop with each guy there was nothing in common at all between the two. Kyle always said he wanted to get together and work on his problems, but actually getting him to commit to showing up or picking up the phone was another thing entirely. When he did show up or make a phone call, I supported the conversation. To simple questions he would take a long time to answer, "yes" or "no." To complex questions, he often wouldn't answer at all, until I could drag an answer out of him after pulling on it for an extended period. Even with his answer in hand, I never felt confident of the extent to which it represented his true feelings or paradigms. Working with Kyle was not easy and it was not something I enjoyed. I alternated between feeling sorry for him and being angry at him for being such a lump of negativity and indolence. It frustrated me that I could clear see that a life of frustration, pain and self hate lays ahead for him.

Dave is much different. He took complete charge or our schedule working out a day that was best for both of us, putting that day on his calendar and keeping his appointments without fail, even calling ahead to confirm the day before that the scheduled meeting was on. At first, he used these meetings to grill me about exactly who I was and what my background was. I could tell exactly what he was thinking and doing and I appreciated it. I liked the fact that he was careful and concerned about his safety and well being.

He knew he needed help in a very sensitive part of his life. He had a recommendation concerning me from a mutual friend; but he wanted to do his own checking. Establishing my background and my bona fides with him took several weeks. Once he was satisfied with the background check, he became an open book. I had no doubt in listening to him that he was telling me the truth as he knew it to be. He was also leaving no doubt about the issues that confused, frustrated and even angered him. He told me though he feared he was a homosexual man, homosexuality just didn't fit into the life he had planned; and he told me while he had always enjoyed looking at the male body, it had never been a problem until recently. He had had a string of young women through college and after, performed well with them and enjoyed heterosexual relations greatly. He was currently dating a young lady to whom he intended to propose to soon; but with that decision, it seemed his homosexuality had raised its head and began causing mental and emotional problems for him for the first time in his life though he had never personally acted on his same sex attractions.

After several months, Kyle and I were really getting no where. I had suggested he needed professional help on several levels and with several issues. I could tell making the suggestion was a waste of my breath; and now, after a year and a half, he has yet to seek professional help. His situation is steadily deteriorating. I think the only progress he has made is he now accepts he is a homosexual man and is not going to change. However, in spite of being with a great young man who is a Doctor and has much to offer, Kyle is not ready to commit to a relationship. I don't think he ever will be. There are problems with the relationship between the two of them as it exists in its present casual mode. Kyle is selfish and childish. He never gives anything to the relationship. It's difficult for his friend to even get him to take anything from the relationship. There is a sexual relationship of sorts; but Kyle seeming could take it or leave it, can't quite bring himself to make up his mind. His friend has talked with Kyle of ending the relationship. Kyle cries and promises to do better, but nothing changes. His friend is a great guy, but actually too kind hearted for his own good. He hates to hurt Kyle by ending the relationship.

At this point I need to mention, one of Kyle's several problems is he was raised in a particularly fundamentalist church by a particularly unyielding fundamentalist father who is still living. His father knows nothing of Kyle's homosexuality though his mother does. His mother's advice to Kyle has been that it is not a sin to be homosexual only to act on homosexual impulses. There is no doubt this is the cause of much of Kyle's inability to get off the fence and start living his life.

In addition to talking with Kyle myself, I gave him information on books he should read to help him understand himself and help himself to envision new paradigms of faith, hope and self-understanding. He never read a single book I mentioned to him.

In what tuned out to be a final  attempt to help Kyle consider new ideas about faith and religious values, I had a long frank discussion with him about the Bible. I asked  him to tell me what portions of the Bible made him feel homosexuality was a bad thing. He couldn't do that. I asked him if he felt alienated from God or if God was angry at him. He said he didn't. I asked him to describe to me what sin is. He could give nothing beyond what a six year old would say. I went though and read to him several parts of the Bible which assure the believer of the constant never ending love of God for all of his creation. I explained to him why one had to be very cautious in interpreting books like Leviticus which seem to condemn homosexuality. I explained carefully to him that I could not show him a passage in which Christ, himself, condemned homosexuality because Christ never did condemn it.

In the end, he saw all of this as just a challenge on my part to the literal word of God; and was offended by it. I suspect he was conveniently offended because it gave him an excuse to tell his friend why he would no longer be talking with me. Since that conversation, he has refused to talk further. I know his life continues to spiral downward from talking with his friend.

At this point,  I'm not angry with Kyle. I feel sorry for Kyle and I am very concerned about him. He will not accept help from friends and he will not seek help from professionals. He cannot live as a straight man; He realizes that. But he cannot live as a homosexual man either; and so he just exists. From my own experience as a younger man, I am afraid he exists in a middle world of anger and self hate. He is in hell in this life; but sure, in his heart and soul, if he seeks happiness in this life through expression of his homosexuality, he will be in an eternal Hell in the next life. I am concerned Kyle will eventually turn to suicide; but at this point I know of no way to help him. He simply will not accept help. He refuses to consider that there is any kind of belief system other than his father's.

Fortunately, Dave is a completely different story. Dave too is a religious man. He was raised Catholic and is still a practicing Catholic. But Dave is also an intellectual. He is without doubt one of the smartest men I have ever known. Dave's faith is important to him without doubt, but Dave has the intellectual capability to see that faith has to coexist with reality. With a little help and a great deal of work on his part, he has been able to establish new paradigms which support both his faith, his sexuality and his psychological health. He's still working on caring for his physical health. He tends to be consumed by his work ethic, his sense of responsibility to others and his unquenchable desire for knowledge that he too often sacrifices sleep for work and reading. Recently we have been working towards his setting priorities and making difficult choices concerning which of his many interests are most important to him.

Because Dave has been so open with me, I was quickly able to see he was in panic mode. Several major issues had all converged and insinuated themselves into his life at the same time, and they had simply overwhelmed him. As intelligent as he is, Dave is quick not only to recognize issues to but recognize every possible adverse and/or beneficial permutation that might accrue to him from those issues. Add to that, he is somewhat compulsive; and there is an easy recipe for trouble.

Dave is eager to seek help wherever it can be found. He was quite happy to find my wife is a psychotherapist and asked me to get her recommendation for someone he could see concerning some of his issues. She listened to my thoughts about him and recommended a Doctor. Dave immediately made and appointment and has found the Doctor to be  helpful in supporting him as he works to overcome some of his problems and issues.

As with Kyle, I mentioned books to Dave I felt would help him understand himself and his relationship to God and others. Not only did he read these books, he looked for other books of the same nature and he continues to read voraciously. He puts me to shame in the amount of reading he does. I simply can't keep up with him.

By listening to Dave talk about his past, his present and his hopes for the future I was able to see that more than likely he is not a homosexual man. He simply has none of the characteristics of a homosexual man other than the appreciation of the male body. He appreciates deeply and responds eagerly to the female body as well. He seems to have a quite healthy appetite for straight sex and to enjoy it immensely. At the same time Dave does not really seem all that interested in the things that male/male sex usually entails. As regular readers of this blog know from  things I have written in the past, I believe that men are hard wired to engage in strong bonded relationships with other males. Such bonds are a biological imperative. Without them mankind would hot have survived its evolutionary period.

In today's America, such strong male/male bonds are discouraged and when they do occur, the are looked at with a suspicious eye. Men who have such relationships feel a very real need to explain them to their wives and friends. Worse, their wives and friends feel such explanation is warranted. These bonded relationships are often not sexual at all. Sometimes they become sexual in a way that has nothing to do with love as between a man and a woman. It is difficult to explain other than to say it is just a guy thing. By definition, such a bonded relationship that comes to have a sexual component makes a man bisexual. But often he is not bisexual in a way that would cause him to seek sex or even want sex with just any male. The sex such a man engages in is a result of the bond. At worst Dave is a bisexual male in this manner. But at this point I'm not sure even sure of that. He simply may, at this point in his life be bi curious.

Dave did propose to his young lady a few weeks ago. They will be married in the next few months. With a little help from me, from his Doctor and a lot of work on his own, he is again confident in who he is. He is confident in his ability to lead the life he dreams of living.

I have encouraged him to look to the future with confidence. I have also talked with him of the issues that might arise as he gets older. He understands those issues and is confident he can deal with them if and when they arise. In my opinion he's ready to scale the grand peaks of life and conquer them.

Two men, seemingly much the same, yet ultimately two very different men. One, like all of us, facing an unknown future full of challenges and opportunities confident in his ability to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. The other man much different, withdrawn, unable to meet even ordinary social obligations, stuck in a limbo world where he can neither step forward nor step back, facing a world of challenges and opportunities he cannot handle. Caught in a dark zone between the layers of his own life with no where to go.

Neither man had a choice about the issues that have confronted them at this point in life. Each man had a very real choice about how he would deal with those issues! The one man took the difficult road and faced his issues head on seeking help and guidance from any trusted source he could find. The other took the easy road, a road which has a bench on the side of the road where he can sit and do nothing. He doesn't go forward, he doesn't go backward. He just sits in his misery while his life runs out at his feet.

Which man are you? It makes a difference.

Jack Scott

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where Does Hate Begin - Where Does It End? II

With my Sunday blog piece still fresh in my mind, I found this cartoon published in the Tuesday August 7, 2012 Houston Chronicle quite funny.

It's probably also true if I know anything at all about Harry.

Poor Harry. Bless his heart!  He don't know no better.

Jack Scott

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Where Does the Hate Begin - Where Does It End?

It's a rainy Sunday afternoon in southeast Texas. My wife and I just got home from church. I turned on the television only to hear that a gunman near Milwaukee, Wisconsin has entered a Sikh Temple and gunned down at least six people before he was gunned down himself by a responding police officer.

As I write this, it is much too early to know anything definite about this Wisconsin shooting, but it appears it may very well be a hate crime or a tragedy at the hands of a deranged individual who has decided to express himself in a hateful and violent way.

The temporary memorials have not yet been cleared away in Aurora, Colorado; certainly the grief, the physical pain, not to mention the emotional pain of the Aurora murders have not even begun to heal as we find ourselves emotionally assaulted by a new mass murder who has physically assaulted our fellow Americans.

Where does this anger, this hatred, this total disregard for human life come from? Where does it end? The knee jerk reaction of many is to blame it all on the availability of guns and ammunition. Yet, never in the history of mass murders has a gun carried itself into a theater, a school or a temple and pulled its own trigger and snuffed out the lives of a group of innocent human beings. It is so easy to blame guns but we might as well blame airliners for the 9/11 mass murders. The fact is airliners did not kill anyone on 9/11. Men filled with hate and anger, incredibly thinking they acted for God, brought down the twin towers killing thousands.

Looking back over the last week, indeed over the last few years it is easy to see where much of the hate and anger that fuels these mass murders and these acts of utter depravity against innocent people originate. You won't see the source identified by the mass media as they keep us informed of every other possible detail of the Sikh Temple shooting. They will find out about the life of the gunman and report every detail they can find of his life, but they won't touch the the real things that more than likely helped to propel him to mass murder.

Why is it the mass media will cover up this important detail? Simply put, the media has met the enemy and it is they! Journalism has been dead now for years. All that is left of it is a rotting stinking corpse, a corpse that revels in spreading its stink as far and as wide as it possibly can in a depraved chase of ratings and cash.

They spread their rottenness by reporting their own personal biases as news. They care nothing about the truth. They care only about advancing their own agenda and hyping whatever they can to make a buck.

But I must hasten to add that the mass media is not alone in bringing about the hate and anger that spurs mass murder over and over and over again in this country, not by a long shot. They are only one of several co conspirators. Many of the co conspirators have names, names most of us are very familiar with.

In the last week and for much of the last few years, one of these co conspirators has been a very powerful man who long ago made a conscious decision to use his power for personal gain rather than for its intended purpose of serving the citizens of this nation. That powerful man is Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate. Reid is a living example of the old maxim that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. He wields his power as a weapon for his personal gain and for the promotion of his own twisted ideal of what is best for the Democrat Party and the People of the United States.

I have no problem whatsoever with Reid, over the last week or so, trying to convince Mitt Romney to hand over his tax returns; but what I do have a problem with is Reid, himself, building and promoting an illegal attack on Romney by using the power of his office to proclaim the "word is out, Romney has not paid taxes in 10 years." There is no way anyone could ethically have such knowledge and provide it to Reid unless the provider of the information to Reid was Romney himself. That did not happen. The word was out alright. Reid put it out using the power of his office. And of course the supremely hypocritical Harry Reid didn't bother to tell the people of the United States that he, himself, has NEVER released his own tax returns at all in his Congressional career.

What was the medias reaction to this unfounded claim by Reid? The press played it for all it was worth without a single question to Reid about his source. I can say with certainty at least equal to Reid's  that the "word is out" Harry Reid likes little boys. It's not true, as far as I know, but I've used the same standard to make the accusation that Reid used to make his hateful accusations against Romney.

I don't hate Harry Reid. More than anything, I feel sorry for him because he has allowed himself to become a hateful, angry and unhappy old man, all over the pursuit of power and money.

But Reid is not the only politician to use his power for evil and to spread hate. Many local mayors across the blue (liberal) cities in the last week or so, including Rahm Emanuel Chicago, have used their power to try to keep Chick-Fil-A out of their cities. Boston and Washington DC and San Francisco mayors followed the same path. What happened to freedom of speech and freedom of religion in this country?

I don't agree with Chick-Fil-A's Dan Cathy's religious views by any means, but I'll defend his right to have his private views all day long. He doesn't give up his right to have his private religious views just because he is a successful business man. If he had said that he was not going to serve gays one of his chicken sandwiches based on the fact that they were sinners in his view, then Cathy would have deserved to be boycotted and put out of business. He did not even get close to saying that. The mayors of several major cities did get close to the opposite side of that same line, very close. They had no right to do so. Cathy, on the other hand has as much right to state his beliefs as those gays who chose to picket him have to their protest lines.

But of course, it is not just the liberal politicians who use their power to whip up hate.  Republican politicians have done the same thing including George W. Bush who used "enhanced" intelligence reports to incite anger and hate against Iraq to initiate his personal war with Saddam Hussein.

And then of course, there are those who are perhaps the most experienced at whipping up hate and anger. I am speaking of fundamental Christians who use their worship services, their publications and their networks to whip up hate and anger against homosexuals whom they are, in fact, commanded by their God to love along with everyone else. These Christians claim to love the sinner and hate the sin, but that is a weak defense. Somehow the hate always seems be directed at homosexual human beings rather than to a perceived sin.

One would think homosexuals, who experience hate often, would not make the same mistake; but they seemed to be expressing hate and anger against Mr. Cathy of Chick-Fil_A fairly skillfully last week. How is it homosexuals can demand respect for their sexual orientation and their own view that their sexuality does not separate them from the love of God while at the same time directing anger and hate at another American for exercising his own right to an opinion. Mr Cathy didn't even imply that he hated gays. He simply said a gay life style was not compatible with his view of the life God calls us to live. What Christian gay or bisexual guy has not struggled with that issue himself? I certainly struggled with it for years. Fortunately, I was able to struggle with it as citizen of America and as a Christian who was free to come to a different view that Mr. Cathy.

Where will it all end? When when will be break the circle of hate and anger? For better or worse (and that is another debatable subject) it is no longer possible to easily get our mentally and emotionally fragile citizens off the streets and into appropriate institutional care. Those of us who are mentally and emotionally strong can live in and even thrive, though scarred, in a society which bombards us daily with hatefulness and anger and still remain personally polite and calm. Most of us can agree to disagree with our friends and family about political, sexual, and religiously charged opinions. The fragile among us simply cannot do this. Bombarded daily by a corrupt media and corrupt politicians and corrupt and hateful religious zealots, these fragile Americas simply are overwhelmed and eventually resort to acting out the hate and anger that has consumed them.

Our society has degraded to far over the last few years. When I was a boy, men cursed. They just never cursed in front of women and children. Now everyone curses everywhere including the women and children. In decades past, people had different political views but they managed them with a veneer of statesmanship and a binding mutual agreement to always work for the good of the country. Now, statesmanship is dead and forgotten; and politicians work only for self enrichment. Few of them care at all about the country or its future. They have, much like the mentally and emotionally fragile allowed them to be consumed by partisan politics and the special interests of K Street.

Interestingly enough, it is in the area of sexuality, that we have progressed somewhat as a people and not declined.  Only a few years ago a homosexual man could not dare admit his status and expect to work as a professional. Often he could not even expect to enjoy the support of his own family should he admit his homosexuality. He certainly could never expect to have a family and kids of his own.

Now, all those things have changed. Most Americans think homosexuals should be able to have recognized partnerships. Most believe homosexuality should have no impact on ones career. Most Americans now feel one's homosexuality is for God to judge not anyone else. All of that is the way it should be and it is clear fundamental Christians understand they are loosing their hateful battle against gays. Unfortunately, it is not  yet clear to the fundamental Christians themselves that they are now hurting themselves worse than they are hurting gays with their hatefulness and anger. They are also hurting the very faith they hope to sustain, indeed to promote.

Most of us simply do not have the power or the influence to affect the views of the world. But each of us is affected daily by the hate and anger that surrounds us. Some of us take our lives and the lives of our family in our hands simply by going to church or going to the movies.

Each of us, however, does have the power to affect our own hatefulness, our own anger and our own fears. I think it may have been Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness." We can each light own own candle against hatefulness and anger. With enough single candles, we can light a new day for the world. We can never stop all the hate and anger, but we can make it known that we will not tolerate nor succumb to it. We can make it clear we will challenge the hateful and angry wherever they may appear. We can make sure that we respect the right of every American citizen to have views that differ from ours on controversial issues. When we must disagree, we can disagree on the issues and not devolve into personal attacks.

As the poet says, we each can say, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

Jack Scott

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gore Vidal: October 3, 1925 - July 31, 2012

Gore Vidal was one of the great polemicists of our time. I'll never be in his league of course but he was a hero to me and an influence in my life long love of polemics which has served me well all my life. That love continues to serve me well in writing this blog. I owe a great debt to Gore Vidal for being a role model and a standard setter even though I could never match the standard he set.

Gore Vidal died on July 31, 2012. The world is a better place because he lived a long and influential life. The world will miss his talent and the prolific thoughts from a first class mind.

Vidal was an accomplished author, essayist, screenwriter, playwright, and political activist. He often angered political conservatives with his liberal views and opinions. As a young man, I shared many of his liberal views. Even as I grew more and more politically conservative in my midlife, I continued to share an appreciation for Vidal's liberal views on human sexuality. Long before it was as tolerated as it is today, Vidal lived openly as a bisexual man. Like me, he held the opinion that bisexuality is the biological norm for human males and that homosexuality and heterosexuality are variations from that biological norm.

Vidal's father was a West Point graduate and later served in the Roosevelt Administration. His mother was a socialite and an actress. Gore, himself, could have followed his social class and have attended any of the Ivy League Universities, but he chose to enter the U.S. Navy because of his great love for the country and his desire to serve it.

The competing interests and influences in Vidal's life could be seen in the way he lived out his life. Always a fighter for liberal causes and a life long participant and apologist for the Democrat Party, he never the less thought of himself as a conservative. As he saw it, his family had been a major force in the building of this country throughout its history and he was determined to protect it at all costs.

Never married, Vidal had numerous sexual affairs with both men and women. Some of them were well known. In 1950 he met Howard Austen and the two of them lived together until Austen's death in 2003. Vidal claimed that he and Austen were not sexual partners because sexual activity between people spoiled relationships. Never the less their bond was tight and when Austen was buried Vidal bought a plot next to him for himself.Because he lived his life openly as a bisexual man long before bisexuality was even recognized to exist, he always felt that society penalized him and kept him from having all of his achievements fully recognized.

Upon his death, the New York Times described Vidal as, "an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed and he was probably right."

He was, no doubt a great man, and all of us as bisexual men stand on his shoulders.

Rest in peace Vidal.

Jack Scott

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Running From Hell

I have mentioned Westboro Baptist Church and its pastor (the reverend Fred Phelps) before in this blog. In case you don't remember the name of the church or the name of its pastor, Westboro is the Topeka, Kansas church which has become nationally known because of its picketing of funerals of American Soldiers. The church members believe that soldiers are killed because God is angry with the United States of America over its increasing support of homosexual men and women.
If you are not already familiar with this group of wing nuts you can get a feel for their mentality by just reading the address of their church web site:
A few weeks ago I ran across the following blog which was published by the Huffington Post. I think it is an interesting look at the inside of the church and its pastor by an unimpeachable source, his own adult son.
I have mentioned before that has a Christian one of my great sorrows is that Fundamental Christianity has become the face of American Christianity for those who are not church members or are not Christians. That is a tragic thing. Fundamental Christians are as different from liberal moderate Christians as day is different to night. As for the people at Westboro Baptist Church who hate instead of love as Christ commanded in His gospel, they have nothing in common with other Christian Churches whatsoever.
If your a homosexual or bisexual man who sees Christianity exemplified by Westboro Baptist Church or other Fundamental Churches, I urge you to take an open minded look at moderate Christians who try to live by the Gospel of Christ and who are opening their hearts, minds and church doors to all persons regardless of their race, sexuality or the strength of their faith.

Running from hell
Growing up in America’s most hated family
by Nate Phelps
The mattock, a close cousin of the pickaxe, is used to dig through tough, earthy surfaces—it loosens soil, breaks rock, and tears through knotted grass. Its handle is a three-foot wooden shaft, twice the density of a baseball bat and its dual-sided iron head is comprised of a chisel and a pick. It was Pastor Fred Phelps’s weapon of choice when beating his children, said his son, Nate Phelps. 
“The Bible says ’spare the rod, spoil the child,’” Nate explained, “and he would be screaming that out as he was beating us.” One Christmas night, Pastor Phelps hit Nate over 200 times with a mattock’s handle, swinging it like a baseball player.
Nate would hide out in the garage with his siblings, where he could escape his father’s wrath. What he couldn’t escape, however, was the fear of going to hell. He suffered much abuse growing up under the roof of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church (WBC)—he still suffers today.
The church, which believes that “God is hateful,” hasn’t changed its grim outlook since Nate’s time there 30 years ago, but it has expanded its fame. WBC has become well known for picketing funerals, where its followers, predominantly Phelps family members, proclaim that God is punishing “fags and fag enablers.” To further the damage, the church frequently targets military funerals.
“WBC will picket the funerals of these Godless, fag army American soldiers when their pieces return home,” their website says. They believe God is punishing America for facilitating homosexuality, which, according to the church, ought to be a capital crime.
More recently, WBC planned to protest the funeral of Tim McLean, the young man who was beheaded on a Greyhound bus. However, they were barred from crossing the Canadian border. It is little wonder that Louis Theroux’s BBC documentary on the Phelps’ was titled The Most Hated Family in America.
Incidentally, it was when I mentioned this documentary that Nate introduced himself to me.
It was a Monday in September and I was on my way to the Cranbrook Airport. Cranbrook, a modest city of about 25,000, hides in BC’s Kootenays. It rests behind a shroud of mountains, clean air, and restful silence.
I began a conversation with my cab driver, who looked to be in his late forties, with a trimmed beard and kind eyes. He told me that he once owned a chain of print shops with his brother, that he liked the BBC, and that Pastor Fred Phelps was his father—only after I had mentioned WBC, unaware. Following this coincidence, he agreed to an interview.
Nate’s story tells of the “shadow—the dark, ugly thing at the back of their minds.” The fear of burning in hell never goes away, said Nate, who is still struggling with it himself. “It’s destructive. It’s hard to live life with that stuff in your head.” But he’s doing his best.
His conditioning began over 40 years ago in Topeka, Kansas, where WBC was formed and still exists today. As its pastor, his father very quickly alienated himself from most of the people who had seeded the church.
“A young lady got pregnant by a solider at Fort Riley,” Nate explained, “and [my father's] response to that was to kick her out of the church…and that sent most of the people packing. There was already that siege mentality developing: us against the world.”
Sundays were particularly strict. Nate was expected to dress formally and present himself in the church auditorium by a certain time. The sermon that followed was always “fire-and-brimstone preaching….
“I know that very early on [my father] was under the influence of those drugs,” Nate said. Pastor Phelps was attending law school and would take amphetamines to stay awake and barbiturates to come down. “It spiralled out of control [and he] was prone toward violence….He just wasn’t tolerant toward the presence of all of us kids running around—and the accompanying noise….He would beat the kids with his fists and kick them and knee them in the stomach.”
Nate doesn’t know why his father was such an angry man; he didn’t know his father very well. “I just know that that’s the way he was and I stayed as far away from him as I could.”
He remembers when his father would force him and his siblings to run five to ten miles around the high school track every night. One evening another boy was riding his bicycle along the outer lanes of the track, and Fred began yelling at him to leave. The boy’s response was to keep riding on the track, and Fred’s was to push him off the bike. The boy left, screaming, and 20 minutes later a truck came screeching into the parking lot. The boy had brought his father, who approached Fred and knocked him to the ground.
“The man was threatening to sue him,” Nate said. “Then my old man yelled at us all to get in the car and we went home, and [my father] ended up beating my mom that night.”
Nate left home the day he turned 18. For a while he worked for a lawyer in Kansas City, eventually moving to St. Louis to work for a printing company with his brother Mark. He and Mark opened up their own print shop soon after. But then, after three years and despite his brother’s disapproval, Nate returned home.
“My sisters were trying to convince me that things had changed….I attended college for a semester and realized that while he may have been less prone to physical violence, he still was the same person. He just used different techniques to violate people—with his words and his deeds.”
In October of 1980, Nate left for good. He found residence above a Volkswagen repair shop, where he went through about six months in a drug and alcohol haze. He eventually ran into Mark’s wife and she suggested that he and his brother reconcile their animosity, which had been caused when Nate returned to WBC temporarily. Nate then moved to California to work with his brother again.
Late one night over a decade later, Nate found himself listening to his father being interviewed on a radio station in LA—it wasn’t long after Fred had gained national attention with his protests. Nate called in under the impression that the interview was a rerun, but realized after calling that his father was on the air live.
“I was freaked out. I got on and I challenged [my father]….That lasted about maybe a minute, and it devolved quickly into him calling me every name he could imagine, and then he handed the phone to Shirley, and she delivered a few diatribes.”
Shirley Phelps-Roper, Nate’s sister, has gained her own reputation for being the church’s other loud voice. Nate said that she has always been their father’s favourite. I contacted her to ask about her brother, and she responded with the following.
“Nathan Phelps is a rebel against God,” she said. “He has nothing to look forward to except sorrow, misery, death and hell….Great peace fell upon our house when Nathan left….He spit on the goodness of his mother and father. In spite of that, his father and mother loved him and did their duty to him…and required of him that he behave while he lived in their house. They loved him in the only way that the Lord God defines love! They told him the truth about what the Lord his God required of him. He was not going to have that!”
Shirley also claimed that Nate “left when he was a raging disobedient rebel with selective memory,” and asked, “What in this world is he doing in Canada?”
Nate met his ex-wife in ‘81 and married her in ‘86. They had three children together and he helped raise a fourth. They moved to a new, pre-planned city, Rancho Santa Margarita, nestled at the foot of Saddleback Mountain in California.
“It was like paradise,” Nate said. “It was a perfect little town, and we were young and starting a family. It all just seemed so ideal.”
They joined a church, where they met many other families, five of which they became close with.
“Every Sunday, I was listening closely and trying desperately to find something in the preaching or in the words that would convince me that this was right. Even while I was doing that, I was always skeptical…but I never voiced it. I was very good at playing the apologist for the Christian faith. In fact, I had quite a reputation for writing and talking in defence of Christianity.”
The turning point was one Christmas, when Nate decided to teach his children about God. In the end, his son Tyler began crying in the backseat of the car, saying that he didn’t want to go to hell.
“He wanted to believe because he didn’t want to go to hell,” Nate said. “I was just stunned because I didn’t know what I had said or how I had left him with that fear. I thought I was doing a good job of presenting it without the fear.
“Thinking about it after the fact, I realized you can’t do that. With a young mind it doesn’t matter. You can try as much as you want to talk about how good God is, but the bottom line is there’s this intolerably frightening punishment if you don’t accept it. And how does a young mind deal with that?”
Nate agrees with prominent atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins, who has said that religion can be “real child abuse.”
Dawkins tells the story of an American woman who wrote to him. She was raised as a Roman Catholic and was sexually abused by her parish priest in his car. Around the same time, a Protestant school friend of hers died tragically.
“Being fondled by the priest simply left the impression (from the mind of a seven-year-old) as yucky,” she wrote, “while the memory of my friend going to hell was one of cold, immeasurable fear. I never lost sleep because of the priest, but I spent many a night being terrified that the people I loved would go to hell. It gave me nightmares.”
“The threat of eternal hell is an extreme example of mental abuse,” Dawkins says on his website, “just as violent sodomy is an extreme example of physical abuse.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Nate asserted. “In so many different ways we have abused children with religion over the centuries.”
Nate said that he is being contacted by nephews he’d never previously met who have made the same choice he did 30 years ago. One of them was Tim, who told Nate that he spends many nights crying himself to sleep. He’s scared. “Once he made the choice, he’s cut off. Everything that he grew up with is taken away from him, and he gets to wonder if he’s going to burn in hell….[He's] living with that shadow.”
Eventually, Nate told his wife that he couldn’t continue believing. Then he told the men from the five families that they were close to, and they responded by disappearing from his life.
“As far as they were concerned, I was a traitor—well, that’s how they behaved.”
In 2005, Nate’s marriage failed. Around the same time, he met another woman online, Angela. She lived in Canada, and Nate knew that he had to make a tough decision.
“The decision was that I was going to come here to her,” Nate said. “When I left, one of the first things [my wife] did was blame the failed marriage on us leaving the church.”
He moved to Cranbrook in December of ‘05. Since then, he’s been doing a lot of reading and thinking.
“I do declare myself an atheist now,” Nate affirmed, “although I’m willing to admit that there’s stuff in life that I’m not real clear on yet.”
Despite this, he still lives with anxiety caused by his experiences over 40 years ago.
“I spent the first 25 or 30 years of my life denying that anything was wrong with me….Then bam: all this weird stuff just starts coming out.
“It’s so, so difficult to go back and look at stuff and try to make sense of it, especially being this far removed from it. I’ll immerse myself in it for a couple weeks, and then I got to back away because it’s too destructive. But I have to believe it’s going to turn out.”
I asked Nate what he wanted for his future.
“I think the best way to answer that is what I said to my wife when we were fighting at the end.” He paused for a moment. “That I just want peace. I want to not wake up fearful every morning.”


In my opinion Nate Phelps has a much better chance of getting into Heaven than does his father. Fred Phelps is not going to Hell. He's already there! He'll be there for a long long time.

Jack Scott
Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott