Tuesday, August 20, 2013

So You're Bisexual or Gay and Married - Now What?

I've spent years writing to gay and bisexual men encouraging them to look at their lives with a large dose of introspection and strive to come to peace with who they are. I'm always pleased when I get letters from these guys telling me I've been helpful to them; but I never really get to know how much they have actually accomplished because I've never met them in person and I don't have the luxury of staying in touch with them over a period of  years to see how it all turns out. Sometimes I'm pretty confident a guy has really gotten his act together and will stay on course to a better life. Sometimes I'm fearful a guy has ultimately been overwhelmed and ended up in very bad circumstances.

I have had the good fortune to have worked with a small number of men personally and one on one to encourage them to take action to change their lives. I'm happy to say none of the men with whom I've been able to work with personally have failed to make significant changes in their lives and find happiness at levels previously unknown to them. For the most part, at levels they were previously unable to imagine.

Changing one's life patterns is not an easy thing to do. It takes years of hard work and the willingness to never give up. It takes both the inner courage to step into the unknown and the emotional stability and

courage to function in a time of transition in which every value one has ever held is being rexamined, updated or jettisoned.

Such a task is so difficult that I am not surprised at all that the people who do the best are the people who have personal support to fall back upon. Changing one's life long view of himself is no easy task. Most guys simply do not have the tenacity to do it on their own. I think I was able to do it because I had the good fortune to be raised by a mother who taught me to question everything and by a father who taught me never to give up. It didn't hurt that I was inquisitive by nature and a "Type A" personality who was never satisfied with the status quo. Even so, it took me many years to affect the change because I was very much alone and had no one to talk to or to give me advice.

I don't take meddling in people's lives for granted. It often gnaws at my conscience to know that in spite of my best intentions, what I have said to someone could end up opening the doors to tragedy for him. Reclaiming one's life from the wrong path is no easy process. I'm always afraid some guy has absorbed just enough of what I've tried to tell him to get himself in even more trouble, but not nearly enough to get his life on a new and successful path.

I've spent so many years trying to get guys to change the direction of their lives, I was surprised a couple of years ago when I began to hear more and more from guys who have found renewed happiness in another way. It's a complicated thing, as it always is when human sexuality is concerned, but basically these guys have not so much changed the direction of their lives as they have reexamined their lives, their wants, needs and circumstances. They have decided to be satisfied with what they have and choose to be happy, rather than take a risk that might lead to the loss of everything they worked for all their lives.

More often than not, these guys have experienced all the pain, anger and sense of not fitting in anywhere that I experienced while trying to understand myself. However, for reasons that differ somewhat with each man, once they came to know themselves as either married gay guys or married bisexual guys, the knowing and the self acceptance were enough for them. They felt no irresistible compulsion to explore a new life style of sexual intimacy with both men and women. At first, I was skeptical. Based on my own experience, I couldn't really believe such a thing possible. But as more and more men described their experiences to me, I had no choice but to see what they were doing as a real alternative reaction to dealing with one's sexuality and circumstance. In fact, not only was it a real alternative, in some cases it seemed to be a very wise alternative.

I have often spoken of a close friend of mine in my writings, using him as an example of one thing or another. His way of dealing with his own homosexuality helps to illustrate one side of the point I am getting to. He was married for 25 years. These were, he has often told me, the worst and most unhappy 25 years of his life. For all of the 25 years he was miserable in his marriage. It wasn't that he and his wife didn't have many of the trappings of a good marriage. They had more than most. They had one of the nicer homes in town set on a large acreage. He was making in excess of 100K a year in a job he loved. In the 25 years they had conceived three living children who were bright, well adjusted and a source of real pride. I have no doubt, even today, had his wife been a different type of person, he would have never left her. But as it was, she was demanding, controlling, unappreciative, snippy, quick to see something bad in every situation and unwilling to ever see the good in any situation. Living as a married homosexual man was bad enough for my friend, but living as a homosexual man married to an unrepentant bitch was simply too much for him. His wife was exactly like her mother, and he knew that with each passing year she would get harder to live with just as did her mother. His father-in-law dealt with it all by simply giving up. He never voiced an opinion. When she told him to jump his only question was, "how high shall I jump dear?" And my friend saw that his mother-in-law still talked about her husband like he was a dog. She was simply unable to have respect for anyone or anything.  He couldn't see himself playing the role of  his father-in-law.

When he made the decision to come out of the closet and live his life openly as a gay man, he first told his siblings, then his parents. Next he told his children saving his wife until the last. He had expected support from everyone except his father and his wife. Much to his surprise, his father was also supportive. He had not misjudged his wife however. Her anger and rage knew no boundaries. She physically assaulted him. She screamed and cried and carried on simply refusing to accept any of it. The problem was, she made it clear she was more concerned with what their friends would think than she was concerned with anything else.

My friend is a big strong guy. He could have easily defended himself from the physical assaults, but he knew better than to touch her and give her cause to involve the police, a situation that would likely land him in jail. Instead, he simply walked away from it all with just the clothes on his back. He left her the house, the cars, the bank accounts, everything. He left the house with a single suitcase of this things. 

In the over six years of their separation, he has continued to send money every month. In fact, he sends the major part of his income to his ex wife and his kids. He has put one through college. The middle child will complete her college studies in 2014 and the youngest will begin college that year. Mike has sacrificed to get them through college and keep their mother in the house in which they grew up. Not every man would have been so generous with her. I'm afraid I fall into that category. But he was determined to be more than fair.

Had she been a different type of woman, I'm convinced he would have taken a different route, as I mentioned above; and that is exactly what I have heard from other men.

Over the last couple of years a number of men have shared with me their own reactions in the aftermath of coming to understand and accept their homosexuality or their bisexuality. Denial, or failure to
understand that they were different, had been a lifelong bitter pill for them. Strangely though, coming to know and to accept, in and of itself, seemed to bring peace to these men. Just knowing somehow seemed enough. As usual in this era, these are men who always knew they were somehow different from other men; but who, 40 to 50 years ago had no choice but to get married and raise a family if they wanted a successful life. It was what society expected and demanded at the time. Luckily for these men it had, in many ways, worked out for them. They loved their wives, they loved their kids and grandkids. They had a successful career and a place in the community. In return, they were loved and respected by their wives.

They had come to realize, they were married gay or bisexual men; but they did not feel their new born acceptance of it gave them license to chuck it all and go on a spree of any kind. Their were people they loved, people who looked up to them and respected them for whom they had real love and concern. This included their wives who had loved them, supported them and stood buy them through the years and been a mother to their children.

In the end, these men had been wise enough to do a simple risk-reward analysis of their options rather
than just run head long into the unknown of a new life. It didn't take them long to see that the risks they would incur far outweighed the possible rewards in a new and unknown path. It is not that there are not long term successful gay relationships, there certainly are; but they are certainly not yet the norm. Why, these men reasoned, give up a happy long term relationship for the unknown at a time in their life when sexual performance and stamina was on the downturn anyway?

For the bisexual men, the reasoning was much the same. Some I talked to had very enjoyable and substantial sexual relationships with their wives; and they loved their wives. Others were in marriages in which, for both partners, sex had become less than necessary; yet the partners were still committed  and loving companions who enjoyed each other company and the entitlements of being the parents of grown children as well as the joys of grandchildren. Why rock the boat? The risks simply outweighed the possible rewards.

My friend was not the only man I knew well who would have made a different decision had he been blessed with the benefits of a loving and supportive wife. My friend Bill was in the exact same position. From the first, Bill had know that his marriage was not a real marriage in any sense of the word. There was nothing common to a husband and wife that he and his wife had except for the fact that they lived in the same house and had children together. But the children were long gone and he and his wife lived in separate parts of the house. They had no contact with each other except what was necessary for the running of the house. They lived separate lives together. There was no love, no emotional closeness, no joy. No mutual support. Had it been different, Bill more likely than not, would have lived out his life as a married gay man.

As it is both of my friends are now out and happy for the first times in their lives living with their gay partners. Bill is finding out daily the common joy that comes with living with someone who loves him. It is a life he had never known in the past.

As for my other friend, he has very little money of his own now, but he has a good job and a partner he loves. He does not regret the loss of the material things he walked away from. He feels he got the best end of the deal by far. His life is far from perfect, but it is a life which makes him happy.

One of the things I have come to see clearly over the last 20 years is, there is no supreme rule for married guys who are gay or bisexual which, if they follow it, will assure their happiness. Instead I have come to see every man should be wise enough to do his own risk-reward assessment and make very careful decisions concerning the rest of his life. I have seen all to often the tragedy that comes from failing to do such an assessment.

I have done few things in my life without careful assessment and lots of thought and planning. Handling my own bisexuality was no exception. Unlike the two friends I have mentioned, I was blessed with a very happy
marriage and a wife who loves me dearly. We enjoyed a sex life that rocked our worlds. It never seemed to get old or boring. I did make the decision to experiment with my desires for male/male sex. I found it to be enjoyable, but I found it did nott hold a candle to what I had at home. For me a male/male relationship was much more about having a valued and trusted male friend than anything else. I was lucky enough to have a couple of long term relationships in which the bond between us was important. But in the end it was not lasting. I was also blessed to have a wife who I knew would cut me some slack, if she ever found out my secrets. I was not wrong about that.

Now, I have reached the point in my life due to health issues beyond my control in which sex of any
kind is not possible for me. I would have once thought I'd rather be dead than be in this position. I was wrong about that. Life is still good. My wife and I are still very much in love. We've found that love really has little to do with sex in the long run. It has much more to do with true friendships, mutual interests and a common outlook on life.

In addition, I still have close and intimate friendships with the two friends I've mentioned and a couple of other guys. These are not sexual relationships but just true friendships built on their own type of love and the mutual benefits that spring from such relationships.

Had I given up my "straight" life, I would have given up way too much indeed. Had I not come to understand my bisexuality and come to be at peace with it, I would have settled for way too little in my life. As it was I achieved the right balance for me.

One guy put a lot of it in perspective for me when he told me he had come to realize that millions of straight men see a lot of women whom they are sexually attracted to; but they don't pursue the attraction because they take their marriage vows seriously. Further more, they genuinely care about their spouses happiness and peace of mind. They care about retaining her trust. Therefore they make do with, just enjoying the eye candy and continuing to get their needs met at home. It can be the same way with a married gay or bisexual man. There is nothing wrong with looking and appreciating. Really nothing wrong with even a little lust. It can add fire to the primary relationship with the wife.

My wife and I travel a lot. In a few days we will be heading to Europe to see many of the treasures there. I'll never own art treasures or treasured antiquities; but fortunately, I don't have to own them to enjoy them. I can look for free. So it is for married gays and bisexuals who have decided that acting on their male/male desires is just too risky. They can look all they want for free and maintain the enjoyment and bonds of love and trust in their marriage when the marriage is a good one.

When I was sexually active with other men, I was a careful as I could possibly be to ensure my health and safety. But as it seems to be with everything these days, things are just getting more and more complex and difficult. There was once, not so long ago, comfort in the fact that if one did slip up, miracle antibiotics would put all back right. Now there are more and more of the super bugs which have increasing levels of resistance to even our most powerful antibiotics.

Once, not so long a go, a careful guy could spot the signs of STD's and steer clear. That is no long possible. For many of the present day STD's there is no sign whatsoever. They hide in plain sight ready to destroy one's life, maybe soon or maybe years down the road. It is a risk which simply cannot be accurately assessed, a risk which is better just avoided.

More and more, I talk to gay guys or bisexual guys who are joining their partners in complete medical workups before they have unprotected sex. I think these guys are doing the right thing these days. At the same time, I see a bigger number of guys who simply live for today thinking they are bullet proof. It's a fools game. I'm old enough to have lost a number of friends to AIDS. The threat is mitigated now, but it is not absent and even if the right against AIDS is won, there are plenty of other life changing or life threatening STDS out there to take its place.

To me it all simply adds up that simple risk-reward assessments should be the norm for any sexually active person. It is so much easier to ruin one's life that it is to put it back together.

My experience has taught me that identifying and coming to terms with our sexuality is a must. However, once that task is accomplished, there are many paths to happiness and fulfillment. The problem is, for any given individual, there is, more likely than not, only a single path that will lead to personal happiness and fulfillment. For a married man who has come to understand and accept his sexuality, the second task is to carefully assess and examine the possible path to determine the best one for himself and for those he loves.

Men of a certain age, made choices years ago. It is not too late for them to make wholesale changes in their lives without wrecking or damaging the lives of others. I'm certainly not adverse to men making the changes when their situation is no longer bearable, but that is not usually the case. For me, I would be lost now if I had chosen to end my marriage. I could have never replace the love and support I enjoy with my wife. It would have been so sad for me to give up what I spent a life time building simply to die alone.

So, you're married; but you're not straight. What now? Well, the answer might be closer to home than you think. It might also involve a brand new start. Think carefully, for men over 50 you'll probably live out your life with the choices you make now, good or bad!

Jack Scott

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Prayers for Bobby

Prayers for Bobby starring Sigourney Weaver was released in 2009. It had long been on my Netflix list
and it came to the top of the least this last weekend. It is based on the true story of Mary and Robert Griffith's reaction upon finding that their young teen-age son was a homosexual.

In many ways Bobby Griffith was the perfect son. He was loving and kind hearted with a quick smile. He dreamed of one day being a writer. Perhaps because he was the oldest of her two sons, he was his mother's favorite among her fours children.

Bobby was outgoing and popular in his school, but as he started dating his personal doubts about himself began to wear on his mind more and more. When it became clear to him that the girl he was dating had reached the point of wanting more from him than he was interested in giving, he abruptly ended the relationship shocking her and their mutual friends as well as his family.

In the ensuing weeks Bobby's demeanor continued to deteriorate to the point that it became noticeable to his friends and family. Finally, in desperation, Bobby confided in his younger brother and told him he was gay. He extracted a promise from his brother to keep his secret. His brother was supportive and tried to reassure Bobby that he was too young to know for sure that he was in fact gay.

In reality his brother was shocked and concerned. Bobby obviously was in a personal crisis and he had no idea what to do, so in spite of his promise to Bobby, he told his mother what Bobby had admitted to him.

It was 1982; the public perception of homosexuality was far different than it is today. Bobby's mother was a devout yet lazy unquestioning fundamental Christian. She took the Bible, at least the parts of it she was familiar with, literally. She depended on her preacher to tell her what she should know of God and what she should believe and not believe. In other words, she was typical of the tens of thousands of fundamental Christians who have no desire whatsoever to think for themselves and look for a personal relationship with God. Like all people who are content with their fundamentalist view of God, it never occurred to Mary Griffith to question anything about her faith. To do so, in her mind, would be to question God himself. It just wasn't done.

Robert Griffith, Bobby's father, and Bobby's three siblings were all supportive of Bobby. At least as supportive as they could be without incurring the wrath of Bobby's mother.  Just as Mary Griffith blindly followed the pronouncements of her preacher on spiritual matters, the family bowed to Mary Griffith in matters of theology. Even Bobby could not really bring himself to question his mother's views on homosexuality. He wanted to be a good son. He wanted his family to be proud of him. Most of all he feared going to Hell. It didn't seem fair to him that he would be condemned to an eternal hell for something he simply could not change. Bobby was trapped between an irresistible force and an unmovable object - his mother's religious view of homosexuality. Because he respected his mother he felt she was right in thinking he was bound for Hell.

The Griffiths were a well to do middle class family. They had the resources to get Bobby help, and they did so. The only problem was that in spite of the fact that the American Psychotherapy Association had declassified homosexuality as deviate behavior in 1973, nine years later there were still plenty of so called therapists who subscribed to the idea supported by Mary's church - homosexuality was a choice and homosexuals could be healed. All they had to do was pray earnestly to God for healing and have an earnest desire for healing. The therapist, instead of helping Bobby was just one more nail in his coffin. No one was truly on his side. Everyone and everything was  either aligned against him or unwilling to offend the religious culture or polite society's perceptions of what was acceptable.

Though Bobby wanted nothing more than to please his mother, it reached the point where they could not have a normal conversation. She vowed that she would not have a homosexual son. All Bobby saw was hate in her actions. He did not understand how his mother or other Christians could separate their hatred of homosexuality from hatred for homosexuals.
The Real Life Bobby Griffith
Every time she saw him his mother peppered him with Bible verses she saw as condemning homosexuality. Every time he came home she grilled him about where he had been and if he had been with homosexuals. She pasted Bible verses warning of the wrath of God all over his room. In reality, she was doing all this out of misguided love for her son.  She had no idea, at the time, that her misguided love would have tragic consequences.

Things at home kept getting worse and worse. Bobby finally dropped out of high school and moved to a new town to live with a cousin. This cousin was very openly supportive of Bobby, but it was not enough. Bobby continued to be haunted by the disapproval of the people who meant the most to him, his mother and his family.  In 1983 Bobby jumped from a bridge onto a busy freeway to end his torment.

His family was devastated, for their love for Bobby had been as real as their desire to see him healed of his homosexuality. Among Bobby's things, Mary Griffith found literature from the Metropolitan Community Church. Tormented and broken by genuine grief, Mary Griffith sought out the paster of the church. She was amazed that a Protestant minister did not share her views on homosexuality and even more amazed that unlike her and her own pastor, did not see the Bible as the literal world of God. She was utterly unable to believe that he encouraged the members of his church to question God and thought that such questioning was pleasing to God. She was repelled from this first meeting with the MCC Pastor in shock and revulsion. But her torment drove her back for a second meeting. The Pastor encouraged her to look into PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). At first she could not imagine families who were actually proud of their gay sons; but again, her torment and grief drove her to investigate the organization.

Gradually, Mary Griffith began to comprehend that there were other views than that of her church on homosexuality. But with this new comprehension came the bitter realization that she had killed her own son with her rigid, blind, unyielding and uninformed views on a subject she really knew little about  and about which she had sought information from only one source until it was too late to help the son she had loved so dearly.

Fortunately for Mary, she found the understanding and forgiveness she had denied to her son. She had not been able to save her own son because she had not thought to look beyond the ignorance enshrined in her faith. Over and over Bobby had pleaded with her to just listen to him, but she never did. She just assaulted him over and over with the Bible and her own misconceptions of the Gospel (Good News) of Christ. To her credit, after Bobby's death, she vowed to do all she could to prevent other such useless deaths.

She became a member of PFLAG. She addressed school boards, state legislators and the Congress of the United States. She wrote books and cooperated in the filming of Bobby's life story. But 30 years after Bobby's senseless death and the loss of what would have surely been a productive life, suicide by young homosexual men continues at tragic rates. In spite of the fact that many main stream Protestant Churches now genuinely welcome gays and lesbians into their memberships and support them in their search for a loving rather than a hateful God, the face of Christianity across the United States and the world is the face portrayed by the right wing judgmental fundamentalist Christians who, like Mary once did, cling to their worship of a hateful God who just happens to hate the same things they do and ignore the sins they commit just as they themselves do.

Fortunately, in our society at large, much has changed since 1983. There is hardly a home across America that has not been touched by a gay person who has come out of the closet. There are sons, grandsons, fathers, brothers, and nephews who have acknowledged their homosexuality to their families. Homosexuals are no longer those people. Instead it is now clear they are  the people we love most in the world. Homosexuals are our family members.

I had an aunt whom I loved dearly. After my mother's death at a much too young an age, my aunt became like a mother to me. But like Mary Griffith she was a fundamental Christian and rigid in her beliefs. When her daughter married into an emotionally and physically abusive relationship and then had the good sense to divorce, my aunt, for the first time in her life, began to question the tenets of her faith and how they impacted the real life situations of those she loved. As a result, she became much less rigid, more open to the nuances of faith and less sure she knew the mind of God. So it is with homosexuality. When parents are confronted with the homosexuality of a child, they often begin to really examine their rigid views and often change them. That has happened recently with a U.S. Congressman. A Republican Conservative was told by his own son that he was gay. It changed the way the Congressman felt and the way he voted.

Unfortunately, many fundamental Christians do not have the courage to follow my aunt's example; or, like Mary Griffith, they continue to force those they love most in the world into committing some tragic act before they really examine their opinions and beliefs. They continue to remain ignorant about homosexuality, what it is and what it isn't.

My friend Mike is a good example of the type of young man Mary Griffith often spoke of after Bobby's death. Mike was big, strong, handsome and athletic. He was a popular student who was also the valedictorian of his graduating class. He was the all-American young man. Since Bobby's death, Mary Griffith has warned fundamental Christians, "Before you echo 'Amen' in your home or place of worship, think and remember…a child is listening."

Mike was one of those listening. When I met him almost 20 years ago, he was just about to become another of those tragic suicides carried out by homosexual young men. For reasons I still do not fully understand, God intervened in Mike's life and arranged for me to meet him though we lived more than 1500 miles apart. I now believe my entire life had been preparation for meeting Mike and ultimately saving his life by introducing him to the loving God I had come to know in my own life's journey - a God utterly different from the Baptist God who had been used to assault me over and over again in my youth and also utterly different from the Presbyterian God who had convinced Mike that, like Bobby Griffith, he was destined for the fires of Hell.

The truth is, there is no Baptist God and no Presbyterian God. Those Gods are the boogy men of the ignorant, the lazy unquestioning and those uneducated in true faith. Those Gods are the false idols of the God about whom the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8: 38-39:

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The words from Romans are in plain English, but fundamental Christians, instead of accepting the grace of God, of which the words speak as a simple fact, still insist on responding, "Yes, but…." That response continues to tragically cost the Bobby Griffiths of the world their lives and their futures. It is a sin for which they, more than likely, shall eventually be judged.

My faith is and always has been important to me, but even as a child, the time came when a child's faith was no longer adequate for me. I began to question, to doubt and to search.

Now as an old man, close to the time when I shall meet my maker, I continue to question, doubt, search and wonder. I have no idea what God is really like other than that if he exists at all, he exists in the spirit of love, compassion and understanding.

It does not bother me that people question or even refuse to believe, for as a life long Christian, I too continue to have my doubts and my questions. The God of the Bible, as the fundamentalists interpret it, simply fails to meet test. Yet even in my doubts I have never felt that God is angry with me or is threatening me with eternal hell fire. Indeed, my life is and always has been richly blessed. God or fate has been unbelievably kind to me. Romans says "nothing" can come between me and God. Nothing has to include, by definition, my doubts, fears and questions.

At the times when I dwell most on my questioning, it never fails that God reassures me of his presence and his love. Either that or my life has contained an entirely improbable number of coincidences. Over the last several weeks I have been very concerned with the fears of a friend who nearing the end of his life. He has expressed his fears to me several times. I have told him how I avoid such fears, but I'm just his friend. My words are just my words, based on my faith.

I asked God to help me know how to help him to allay his fears. This week that request was answered in the most unusual, improbable and entirely unexpected way. Either it was God answering that request or it was one of the grandest and elaborate coincidences I have ever seen in my long life of seeming grand and elaborate perfectly orchestrated coincidences. From what I have seen in my life, God does not mind our questioning. He sees it as a proof of our interest and our desire for faith and assurance.

The Bible is an important book, but it is also a dangerous book in the wrong hands. For those who blindly try to follow it, led by those who are also blind by choice, the Bible often brings untold tragedy. Bobby Griffith was just one of the tragic victims of a misused Bible and a misguided faith. There have been millions over the course of history.

The Bible was written by men who were influenced by the times in which they lived and the events that shaped their lives. Thus, just as does humanity as a whole, the Bible encapsulates the worst of man as well as man at his best and everything in between. It offers examples in life and in allegories of life. Parts of it are truly inspired, yet much of it is  truly depraved.

Because it was written in another time, it makes heroes of men and their deeds who would be arrested and convicted of the most heinous crimes today. The story of Abraham and his son is but one of several examples.

Those who would truly follow God should make sure they are following the God of grace and love and not a God of hate, vengeance and wrath. The true God commands us to love one another unconditionally. It's not a hard concept to understand. Elvis Presley put it in modern language when he sang, "Clean up your own back yard. You tend to your business and I'll tend to mine." Jesus said it differently, "Ye who is without sin cast the first stone."

Those who would avoid the worship of a false God, must be willing to think for themselves, to question and study on their own. They must get second opinions from other recognized theologians.
There are innumerable views of God. It's wise to bet on the God of Grace and Love, not the God of hate and vengeance. When deciding on a church home it is wise to choose one where the members support each other and support their community in a spirit of brotherly love. A church where a particular "sin" is not the main topic of discussion. The Bible says sin is sin and we are all sinners. People who believe that simply cannot get hung up on one "sin" such as homosexuality. Mary Griffith, saw her son as a sinner. She did not see her sins as equal to his. It is a universal failing of all fundamental Christians. God saw the sins of Mary Griffith and her son as equal, because in his eyes all sins are equal. Mary's failure is a universal failure of all fundamental Christians, both Protestant and Catholic. In Catholic theology there are moral sins and venial sins. Venial sins are forgivable. Mortal sins send one to Hell. The only problem is, the Bible makes it clear there are no such things. There is simply sin and all sin is forgivable by the Grace of God.

Homosexuality is real. It is not a choice. There is no clear theological evidence that homosexuality is inherently sinful. Homosexuals can live productively and contribute greatly to society. All that says to me that homosexuality is a gift of God, created for a purpose. Homosexuality can not be prayed away. It cannot be cured. In her overwhelming grief, Mary Griffith came to see God had not healed Bobby of his homosexuality because He had given it to Bobby as a gift and for a purpose. He did not need to be healed because he was not ill. In the depths of her grief, Mary Griffith came to understand that she was the one who had sinned by not supporting her son, letting him live in peace and come to be the exceptional and productive person God had meant for him to be.

Bobby Griffith died because his own mother and his own church decided to cast stones at him rather than love him unconditionally. It is most likely not lost on Mary Griffith that her son would have been better off had she been a non-believer than he was being raised by the Christian she was in the 1980's. How utterly tragic for Mary Griffith! How very tragic for Bobby!

Jack Scott

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pope Frances and Gays

Pope Frances' rhetorical question recently, "Who am I to judge a gay person?" was a refreshing development. I am under no illusion that the Catholic Church is about to abandon decades of discrimination against gays, but the new Pope's statement offers a bit of hope that things may get better, even in the Catholic Church.

God knows more Christians and Christian Churches should be asking themselves the same question the
Pope asked. I simply cannot understand how anyone who reads the Gospel of Christ can harbor hatred for gays. The gospel makes it clear that Christ, were he physically alive in the world today, would be found in the company of gays on a regular basis. He would also be offering them unconditional love and acceptance.

But some Christians seem never to cease acting like they are God's little helpers in deciding who to condemn for their sins and who to persecute. In today's paper, Pat Robinson, is at it again. Robinson has a bad habit of publicly proclaiming to know when and why God is going to punish a person or group of persons. Today, he said that America and the American people will feel the wrath of an angry God if the United States helps to broker a Middle East Peace by allowing Jerusalem to be divided by the Christians and Muslims. I am a life long practicing Christian and I believe God does speak to us from time to time; but I absolutely do not think God tells Pat Robinson who is in line for punishment and who is not. Robinson is just another religious nut who has caught the attention of the press because he can be depended upon to represent all Christians as nuts. In the collective mind of the national press, all Christians are nuts and Robinson proves their point.

The new Pope also made news recently by proclaiming that he was sure there would be people in heaven who had been atheists during their lifetimes. It is another indiction of the change Pope Frances might bring to the Catholic Church should he live long enough.

My experience has shown me there are, in fact, atheists who exhibit all the characteristics of Christians. They just can't rationalize a transcendent God. I can't imagine a loving God condemning someone for using the power of their mind to reach a decision that is inarguably justified by any rational standard.

As I told one of my atheist friends recently, "If I'm right in my faith you and I will both die and find ourselves at peace in God's Kingdom. If you are right in your lack of faith, you and I will both die and be at peace in oblivion. Either way, there is nothing to fear."

As a Christian I continue to value my gay and atheist friends and I do not try to hide them from my Christian friends. I'm elated to know that Pope Frances approves of that.

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