The Book I Can’t Review

UPDATE: Ok. Moderation on. Keep your comments civil. We are not bashing anyone here. Don’t make me impose a two-drink limit.

MOD NOTE: Comments are closed for the time being. Sheesh, I leave for a few hours and return to find a bar fight!

It might be comforting, to those Christians who doubt the current indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our damaged, compromised selves, to tell ourselves that our failures are because Jesus is now far, far away.

It might be reassuring, to those tired of dealing with our violent, scary, or just unpleasant neighbors, to think that we can worship God by turning our backs on them. That we can’t do much anymore about our lives or the lives of other people, except gaze at the sky and pray to a disembodied spirit. That Jesus was alive once, and we remember him fondly, but now we’re left with nothing more powerful than plastic crosses, Christian rock bands and church committees. WIth Jesus safely tucked away in heaven, we’re off the hook.

But he’s still breathing in us.

Sara Miles–Jesus Freak: Feeding, Healing, Raising the Dead

In a literary landscape littered with memoirs–mostly overwritten, self-serving examples of why most memoirs should be approached with great caution, if approached at all–it is really fun to come across one that is well-written, and written about something worth reading. This is the case with Sara Miles’ Jesus Freak: Feeding, Healing, Raising the Dead. Miles, a lay minister in an Episcopal church in San Francisco, relates how her church reaches out to the homeless, mentally-challenged, drug-addicted population of the inner city–the very people Jesus  came to seek and save–in radical and unique ways. More than this, Miles presents Jesus to us in his raw, real form as found in the Gospels, and does it as well as anyone I have read in quite a while. For instance, she writes:

In stories that still have the power to scare us, Jesus tells his disciples to live by the upside-down values of God’s kingdom, rather than the fear-driven values of human society. He shows how family, tribe, money, violence, and religion–the powers of the world–cannot stand against the love of God. And he tells us that we, too, are called to follow him in breaking down all worldly divisions that get in the way of carrying out his instructions. Sure, it’s impossible to feed five thousand people, make a deaf man hear, bring a dead girl to life, as long as you obey human rules. So do it God’s way instead, Jesus teaches. Say yes. Jump right in. Come and see. Embrace the wrong people. Don’t idolize religion.

Good stuff, isn’t it? As the iMonk himself would have said, this is Jesus-shaped spirituality. As I read the first pages of Jesus Freak, I thought this would be a great book to review for the iMonk community. But then I came across three words that told me I wouldn’t be able to do so. Three small, short, powerful words.

My wife, Martha.

Those three words were written by Miles, referring to herself. Sara Miles has a wife, Martha. Sara Miles is in a same-sex relationship. (I knew this before I read the book, but it was actually reading those words in print that made me realize there would be trouble in River City.) And because of those three words, I knew that anything good that we could discuss from Jesus Freak would be buried in the avalanche of comments about the author’s homosexuality. And that is a real shame.

(Do you doubt me? Michael ran into the same problems when he reviewed Miles’ first spiritual memoir, Take This Bread. And in his review of Andrew Marin’s Love Is An Orientation.)

Before you start hurling those rocks in your hands at me, let me say this right now. Homosexuality is a sin. And I am as straight as a knife’s edge. There. That’s said. Happy?

Yet it frustrates me that because Sara Miles refers to her homosexuality in passing I know that the content of her book will be of little or no consequence. The entire discussion would be made up of, “Should we listen to anything she says?” kind of comments. Or at least the comments would center around her sexual orientation much more than they would the stories of feeding the poor. I shared this with a group of friends recently–shared the topic of the book and read a few passages. I asked if it was a book they might want to read, and the overall response was positive. Then I mentioned that the author is a homosexual. Everyone of those I asked changed their tune: “No, we would not read that book. Not if it was written by a practicing homosexual.”

So we are going to take very good content, very good stories of feeding those in need, and toss it away because…because…because why, exactly? Is it not possible that we can reach a point where we say, “I have no idea what God thinks of someone who professes to love Him, yet continues in sin”? Or, maybe better yet, “I’m glad God still loves me even though I continue to sin daily.”

Again, loose your grip on that stone. You’re going to pop a blood vessel in your hand. I am not advocating an “anything goes” morality. But I would like to ask just how far God’s grace can go. Does it cover every sin? Really? Even continuing homosexuality? Is God’s grace scandalous, as Robert Capon would put it? Capon, after all, takes grace to extremes that can be very frightening. From his book, The Mystery Of Christ–And Why We Don’t Get It, he writes,

There is no sin you can commit that God in Jesus hasn’t forgiven already. The only way you can get yourself in permanent Dutch is to refuse forgiveness. That’s hell. The old baloney about heaven being for good guys and hell for bad guys is dead wrong. Heaven is populated entirely by forgiven sinners, not spiritual and moral aces. And hell is populated entirely by forgiven sinners. The only difference between the two groups is that those in heaven accept the forgiveness and those in hell reject it. Which is why heaven is a party–the endless wedding reception of the Lamb and his bride–and hell is nothing but the dreariest bar in town.

Ok, let’s forget whether a practicing homosexual can be a follower of Jesus or not, at least for the moment. (Michael Spencer wrote about the topic of Evangelicals and Homosexuals a couple of years ago, and presents his case much better than I can. You should read that post for his wise insights.) Let’s change the question. Can we possibly receive anything good from one who is a practicing homosexual? Is it possible that we can read a book like Sara Miles’ Jesus Freak and focus on what is good–the feeding of the poor and outcast and forgotten–and ignore what makes us uncomfortable? Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is for the friends I asked about the book.

Or am I wrong? If I did a review of this book, would the comments stay on the content and not the author’s lifestyle? Not according to very, very recent past. In this past weekend’s Saturday Ramblings, I mentioned Jennifer Knapp is in a same-sex relationship. How many of the 110+ comments do you think were about something other than Knapp’s sexual orientation?

So, instead of reviewing Jesus Freak, I will return the book unreviewed. But I read it, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I learned from it. I was encouraged and entertained. I was not offended, but at the same time I do not condone all that is talked about in the book. I pray that the grace God extends to Sara Miles is extended to cover my sins as well.

218 thoughts on “The Book I Can’t Review

  1. You talking about the ones who are not showing love?

    More likely the ones who don’t agree 1000% with him.

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  2. Ah, your a 5-point Calvinist? Well, this just got a lot easier. Why in the world are you wasting your time debating with us non-elect?

    Because he was Predestined to do so since before the Creation of the World,

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  3. Debbie, but Jesus and Solomon don’t agree on the meaning of life (to say nothing of the action of sin) do they?

    At the end of the day, I feel Solomon, but I’m trying to live like Jesus.

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  4. Back when her first book(take this bread or whatever) came back, my interest was peaked… I never bought the book but I did listen to one of her sermons… and I wasn’t too impressed…

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  5. Ah, your a 5-point Calvinist? Well, this just got a lot easier. Why in the world are you wasting your time debating with us non-elect? I’m horribly confused as to why you are at all surprised that so many on this board think you are graceless and arrogant.

    If your Calvinist view is correct, the *only* reason you believe and have, in your mind, correct theology is b/c of God’s grace **ALONE**. Did you realize that?

    If you are correct and someone doesn’t agree with you, that isn’t their fault, now is it? God simply hasn’t shown them the same grace and mercy given to you, allowing them to believe what you do.

    Mark, your graceless arrogance is why so many people associate Calvinist’s with “pompous jerk”. And the said thing is, you’ll likely take that as a compliment.

    If you stop and think really hard, I bet you’ll be able to recall the exact year that the width of knowledge in your head outgrew the depth of love in your heart. You’ll talk big here and deny all of this of course, but it’s a cold and lonely place to live. You’ll dismiss these words now, but will someday need to remember this, “God has grace for all. Even the pompous, arrogant Calvinist who believes he’s the one who finally has inerrantly interpreted scripture”.

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  6. You know Mark…..That’s exactly what was stated by pastors throughout the south less than 50 years ago when one would say, “I know you interpret the Bible differently, but I actually think we are all equal and shouldn’t be segregated based on race.”

    Reply, “Oh, you’re one of THOSE types.”

    Mark, are you repentant and truly remorseful of your pride and graceless treatment of other Christians? Do you look at the posts you have made, the words you have spoken and weep at your pious arrogance? If not, you are under the very judgment you brought to this conversation.

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  7. Mark – I’d be interested, but honestly also a little scared, to hear what you believe is the Gospel of salvation. How cleaned up must someone be? How repentant must one be for salvation?

    Hypothetical….Let’s say I walk the aisle, say the sinners prayer, and start living my life for Christ. Years later, I find that I’m living in a way that I don’t see as wrong, but you see as a black and white issue. .

    If I worship God in all other areas of my life, feed the poor, give away my time and money, memorize the Bible, and pray without ceasing….Am I still outside the bounds of Christ’s salvation b/c I don’t agree, or perhaps just haven’t been brought (by grace) to the same understanding of scripture that you have?

    Can I speak really honestly with you for a moment? As lovingly as I can say it, Mark, you come across as an arrogant jerk in your posts. I have no doubt you are extremely intelligent and have great zeal, but you still present yourself as a pompous, graceless man. I hope you take this to heart, Mark – all the theological intelligence in the world, minus grace and love, makes you a clanging cymbal.

    Let me assume you are correct, which is always possible given how many times in life I’ve been wrong…..Do you think that you could ever reach a place to show grace and patience with those who haven’t reached the spiritual heights you have?

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  8. Oh Debbie, I will pray for your son. I can feel the concern and love you have for him. It doesn’t sound like he thinks this is a problem, so he wouldn’t be a candidate for NA. But if it gets to that point, NA is the best organization I know to help addicts.

    In my own situation, I don’t know if I’m particularly emotional, but here’s my trouble. I don’t think that his homosexuality was ever a choice for my son. I saw the tell-tale signs of same-sex attraction for him from fairly early on in his childhood (hence my lack of shock at his telling me). I simply think that’s how he’s wired.

    I can be of the opinion that you can have same-sex attraction, but not act on it in the same way that I can have opposite-sex attraction but wait until marriage to consummate my relationship and begin creating a life with my husband/life partner.

    As a heterosexual, I have that option. But my son doesn’t. He can’t be married in the eyes of the Church, so he is precluded from a licit lifetime partnership. (Not that he’s playing by the rules of the RCC, but if he wanted to, he would have to forswear any partnership).

    So that’s my dilemma. And I just met the young man my son is seeing, and I think he’s delightful.

    Sigh.

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  9. Jesus is real, and so, praise God, are we. Every single thing the resurrected Jesus does on earth he does through our bodies. You’re fed, you’re healed, you’re forgiven, you’re pronounced clean. You are loved… Go and do likewise.

    – Sarah Miles, Jesus Freak

    Do you think Jesus steps out of our bodies every time we do things that conflict with His purity?

    I was reading the first pages of the book and she speaks of Jesus’ parables as ‘good tips’ and says that Mary doesn’t need a man to have a baby. That she isn’t going to follow worldly norms.

    I may have interpreted her intent incorrectly so as the lady before said you can read the first few pages at Amazon. To me Sarah has an agenda that could even fool the elect.

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  10. This must be a very emotional time for you PL, my eldest son has just started smoking marijuana, my heart breaks for him yet I know I do not have the power to raise the spiritually dead – I pray the One who does has mercy on my (his?) child. In the interim my boy and I talk a lot about a lot and I always tell him that when the bottom comes and he finds he cannot set himself free there is One who promised.

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  11. My friend believes God made her gay as well and I asked her why would God make her gay and then tell her it is a sin that prevents her from entering the Kingdom of God. I told her that didn’t make sense to me. She said that those parts of the Bible were written by men and are not to be trusted plus her dad is a pastor and he doesn’t believe in hell. She is happy with the way God made her and told me that I should be happy for her too. We ended up agreeing to disagree.

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  12. I don’t think Jesus saved him “because” the dude stood up for Jesus to the other criminal. The theif confessed he deserved to die for his sin and then asked Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. He asked for mercy. Remember it isn’t our sin that is like a filthy rag before God it is ‘our’ righteousness.

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  13. Well, MY own child recently came out to me as gay. I was not particularly surprised, but I am conflicted. I love this child more than life. He is a wonderful young man in every way, but I am mindful of the words of warning in the Bible concerning the practice of homosexuality.

    My child’s eternal welfare means more to me than anything, but it’s not my job to save him. My job is to be his mom and to love him as much as I can. I’ve totally handed over the task of his inner conversion to God – what else can I do? I’m not the Holy Spirit.

    It would be the same if he were a gambler or a habitual liar. I would love him as much as I could and leave the rest to God.

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  14. I am not God and I will not 100% whether Karl Barth is in Abraham’s bosom or Hades right now. I will say this: those who willfully and unrepentantly engage in adultery will not inherit the Kingdom.

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  15. I can understand that. I think it is most definitely a sin to be someone or something God did not create you to be.

    I used to be a “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” kind of guy.

    But then I had a very, very close friend recently come out to me. A Christian friend. Someone who has struggled with his own sexual identity for years. He’s gay–and he was made that way. He did not choose a kinky lifestyle, figure he “might as well be” gay, and he was never molested. His biology has just been hard-wired to be attracted to men instead of women.

    I fully and completely trust this friend, and I know that he would never have even mentioned it to me unless he was absolutely, 100% certain.

    Yes, there are those out there who choose to “be gay” to get attention or to fit in, and I would agree that this is sin. But my friend falls into neither category. He is a Christian man struggling to find his place in the Kingdom of Yahweh. And Jesus Christ accepts him as he is.

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  16. So, yeah. Solomon’s not really sorry so as much kind of just dead inside. And he likes to philosophize a little.

    Repentance is something different than that – remember?

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  17. Kind of a lukewarm repentance, huh?

    “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

    But even Solomon at this point can surmise with me and some of the other folks on this thread:

    “Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
    Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the whole duty of man.

    For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.”

    Not, of course, that Solomon or you or I or any of us are really going to keep God’s commandments all that scrupulously. We’re all on the same page – life is meaningless and kind of grotesque and miserable even when the pleasure’s flowing, and if God wants anything from us it’s to try to channel our discouragement in such a way as to make us work hard and die well. Everything else is vanity and chasing after the wind.

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  18. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Some guy dying on a cross in Luke 23:40-41

    For those of you playing along at home, that man did a work.

    He stood up for Jesus against an enraged enemy (and spoke up for justice, which happened to be killing him at the very moment) with the last of his strength, defending God with his lips because his arms were stretched to a plank

    He did, incidentally, a work that Jesus’ beloved disciple Peter DIDN’T do, which is why Jesus saved him.

    He saw Jesus, a man who of all men looked LEAST likely at that moment to be the Messiah, and with his dying breath he looked to Him and believed, and he showed him love.

    That’s agape, folks.

    Needless to say, none of us love God like that, and so it’s quite likely that in spite of our belief in universal salvation or our deep syrupy sympathy for gays or Catholicism, we’ll probably go to hell.

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  19. Thank you, Debbie – that is remarkably perceptive.

    We all certainly agree that we are forgiven, but we so often want to argue about just what it was – or is – that we are to be forgiven from. It seems that there has been a paradigm shift – in past centuries many Christians, especially those of an ascetic or mystical persuasion, had a very keen sense of their own sinfulness and were often begging God for forgiveness of things that we would think quite irrelevent. Today the focus seems to be not on finding fault or weakness within ourselves but rather justifying ourselves and finding fault with traditional notions of what is righteousness or propriety or duty. While I am sensitive to the fact that some people suffer tremendously with guilt feelings and have no wish to magnify that, I’m not always certain that on the whole we have made a wise trade.

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  20. Bless you Mark & bless my other brothers and sisters on here too 🙂

    “What! At peace with the Father, and at war with His children? It cannot be.” ……..said Flavel.

    Trouble is not everybody is His child……………..

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  21. So if two obese homosexuals who insist they love Jesus brag to me about having sex with one another, my only question should be, “what did I do to deserve this?”

    Speaking of which, is an obese, gossiping, lazy homosexual guilty of ANY sins I should speak to her about? Or is the fact that I’d even notice those traits merely PROOF! PROOF! that I have a giant plank in my eye and should feel mortified for even thinking such nasty thoughts about a Child of God?

    Just askin’.

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  22. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love”. John 15:10

    +

    ” If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” Hebrews 10:26-27

    =

    “….but that seems to be in complete contrast to the Gospel.” chad m: April 24, 2010 at 2:14 am

    ??????

    I don’t think God cares how sorry we FEEL, but that we.. em…

    =

    “So they went out and preached that people should turn away from their sins.” Mark 6:12

    No, it’s not necessarily supposed to be this cathartic, Shawshank Redemption-esque moment of finally being free of our sins and exulting God and living happily ever after – sometimes it’s saying no to yourself and being obedient to God even if it feels at times like you’re carrying lead in your soul. You are: you’re carrying your chains and running for your life because God’s breaking you out of prison. Trust that He’s going to have the door unlocked before your demons catch up with you.

    Or, don’t. I guess. You’ve got lots of friendly company.

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  23. What do you think the Prodigal did once the feast/party was done. Do you think he may have went on living at his father’s house with a whole new attitude? That maybe everything he did from that day forth was in response to such a great love? Just something I think about – we read of his great homecoming with joy and miss that his life went on. I am not advocating a works salvation yet I do believe that being reconciled to God brings about a new attitude from a new heart. And yes the theif on the cross was taken to paradise without any ‘good works’ but seriously – where was he? On a cross and his life was not about to go on in this earthly plain.

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  24. “. Solomon was a polygamist and owned prostitutes, but G-d never got angry at him for either of those practices (and he is still called a wise man nonetheless).”

    Um…

    “17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.” Deuteronomy 17:17.

    This is the more intriguing, because some scholars think that Deuteronomy and Kings may be a single work – making Solomon’s story a kind of a commentary how NOT to follow the Law.

    I guess you and the Bible can agree to disagree about whether God approved of Solomon’s polygamy though?

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  25. Maybe we could tweek it to ‘Unlimited Atonement’ does not mean ‘Unlimited Acceptance By The Peasants’.

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  26. Very true. I read a bit of Sara’s story on her website, in one interview she talks about what she thinks of the Bible and it seems to me that there are a lot of people on the planet right now who think the ‘books of God’ we have right now are not God’s final say and what they do say has been corrupted therefore we can interpret them however we wish. Ever notice that the only part of the Bible that everyone agree’s is still pure is the forgiven factor. Plus she hasn’t always been in love with a woman. She has a daughter. In saying that I am not going to not read her book because of her sin – we all sin – some feel a Godly sorrow for it and some don’t plus feeding the hungry is not a distinct christian thing – many who don’t believe in God are doing a good job at providing for the poor and hungry.

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  27. …let’s try to get past your comment, “I know that I am in the circle of the true and faithful,”

    And that kind of circle just keeps getting smaller and smaller, from “Us Four, No More, Amen” to the last verse of Bob Dylan’s “Talking John Birch Society Blues.”

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  28. Oh, you’re one of THOSE types.

    As in “You’re One of THEM”?

    Remember Lenny Bruce’s “Thank You Masked Man”? After Masked Man (a very offbeat version of the Lone Ranger) outs himself, there’s this one townsman who spends the entire rest of the skit standing there pointing at Masked Man and screaming over and over “FAAG! FAAAAG! FAAAAAAAAAAG!”

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  29. As for the rest, “a bruised reed he will not break.”

    For breaking bruised reeds, there’s always Matt & Mark and all our other Betters in Theology and Righteousness.

    You dudes can fight it out amongst yourselves — I’m going out to romp and play with the critters in Aslan’s Land. And hope that Resurrection extends to imaginary critters, Resurrected into reality.

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  30. And here we go again, throwing around Theological techspeak..

    Didn’t IMonk have a couple rants about those who Theologize about anything & everything? Showing off their Theological Correctness point-by-point while pastors’ widows have to eat out of dumpsters?

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  31. Choice or Not? I’ve heard it both ways. You want my take on it?

    I think it varies from individual to individual.

    Some have it so deeply ingrained on their nature that if they weren’t “born gay”, they might as well be. Don’t we know people with “besetting sins” of other kinds that seem to overwhelm them no matter what?

    Others have a behavioral overlay of varying depth and strength; it’s probably those whose homosexuality was an overlay that are responsible for the “ex-Gays”. These would be those who were hetero at the core, whose overlay was not held that strongly, and could be removed or dissipated on its own.

    (I don’t remember the author’s name, but I remember a book whose author — a Christian counselor in Canada years ago — recounted his being molested by a (Protestant) youth pastor around the time he was going through puberty. He remembered that for a year or two after the molestation, he was sexually aroused by male bodies instead of the female bodies that aroused him before the molestation. This overlay faded over a couple years, until he gradually became interested in girls again. Now imagine what would have happened if after the molestation, he was diagnosed as Gay (TM) and immersed in the Gay Pride Culture. It’s likely the overlay would have strengthened until it locked in completely like he was “born that way”. This being decades before Queer Studies and Pride Parades, the overlay was not reinforced and faded over time.)

    And still others are basically hedonists who want their orgasm and don’t care how or with whom. WIth them, it IS a choice. A choice of self-indulgence and damn the cost/collateral damage that results. THAT was the type of sexual-predator hedonist homosexual I first encountered, and which colored my view of Them for decades.

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  32. Yeah, we had a temporary hiatus to clean up the joint after the bar fight.

    Let me guess… Matt & Mark vs All Comers?

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  33. At the same time, nothing hoists the Bright Red Murder Flag and starts the screaming Jihad like Homosexuality, Abortion, or Evolution.

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  34. I was quoting his words. I didn’t miss the point.

    I’m disappointed that we still find ourselves in a faith culture so backwards as to reject proven science–homosexuality is not a choice. And how can someone be sinning if they are not given a choice?

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  35. @guy from knoxville – I missed the brawl – they all got cleaned up before I got a chance to read them so my reply wasn’t really in direct response to you.

    The thing to me is all our ‘sins’ are only symptoms of our deeper need. For those of us whose symptoms show in the blantantly outward ‘don’t do’s’ it is easy to say, ‘they are sinning’. For those of us whose symptoms are more subtle in all the ‘good do’s’ we do to please God it is not so obvious we are sinning.

    Regardless of what symptoms sin produces in us the cure is across the board the same – The Gospel – or we perish. That is what Jesus said. He has conquered sin and its symptoms. and has given us the power to do the same. To overcome. Yet we overcome in Him. I don’t really understand how it works just that it does.

    I am yet to work out how just loving people gets this message to them clearly. That is where I am at – I am not sure how to ‘act out’ The Gospel without words – to me it seems to put the focus on how well ‘I’ can love rather than talking about how Christ has loved us. When the focus is me it becomes subjective not objective.

    John Piper gave an interesting message a few weeks ago on that Pharisee that thanked God he was not like the tax collector. Mr Piper pointed out the guy was actually thanking God, he believed it was God who had kept him from all the nasty symptoms of sin and it was he who went home ‘not’ justified. The tax collector prayed for mercy and was justified. I thought it was a very insightful sermon from Mr Piper and something I had overlooked in believing that all Pharisee’s were trying to earn their way to God. Not true – some of them thanked God for being God’s people and for being kept from the worst symptoms of sin yet they remained blind to the Truth.

    I think those who thank God for making them the way they are sexually are treading dangerous ground – sin always blinds us and in defending our sin, (our ‘how God made us’), we will always brawl against each other. Satan likes it that way.

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  36. Let me see if I can find a quote. It’s been a year since I read it.

    My opinion is not based on any doctrinal wrangling. It has more to do with her encounter with Christ in the bread and wine, how it changed her and her view of others. Lutherans are very proud of how their view of communion is superior to Catholics and reformed, but the practice lacks something. I know Lutherans who are all into revivalistic and charismatic worship experiences, but receiving Jesus in and under the bread and wine seems to be less than a life-changing experience.

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  37. I read and loved “Take This Bread”. I think Sara gets sacraments and their purpose way better than even many Lutherans I know. From what I have read from “Jesus Freak” on Amazon, I think this next book is just as good. I think she sees people the way God does.

    Can you share what Sara says re: the sacraments, esp. the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist? Thanks!

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  38. Debra,

    I agree with you 100%! I don’t necessarly disagree with Mark – all he said was spot on for the most part however, my issue was with his approach. Example – if I called up the two guys next door and asked to come over they would be more than glad for me to and once there in the course of conversation I came on strong on them being gay, being unrepentant, unsaved, going to hell etc I would be asked to leave and ushered to the door very quickly and they would have nothing to do with me again period. My approach, which others were trying to point out too, is the approach that living my life out daily as a christian, living Christlike is more apt to open the door for discussion and perhaps an opportunity, in love, to share the truth of the situation and present the gospel to them.

    I agree completely with what you said in the third paragraph – encouraging each other to sin insted of real love…… I can identify with that more than you could know but that’s for another time. I told Mark in both posts that I believe homosexuality to sin – scripture is crystal clear (to me anyway) in both old and new testament but so is a host of other things – many listed in scripture and I agree that willful, continual, habitual sin no matter what you say otherwise is definately indication of not being truly saved or indication of having wondered far, far, far from God. I think most all of us agreed on that for the most part.

    Hope that clears things abit – my issue was with the approach…… in love versus blasting hell fire at every opportunity – that might not be what Mark actually does but it came across that way at times hence the responses that he got. At any rate – all is fine and Chaplin Mike’s clean up was due, partly, to Mark and I sparring on this issue – sometimes those bar fights get a bit rough and tumble. One thing for sure, as you said above, it does take a bit of bravery on all sides to write here. If you’re really feeling it read BHT sometime – those guys can lay it and each other out (LOL!).

    Blessings and Peace.

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  39. Debbie,

    You seem to have somewhat of a highbrow attitude towards “this bunch”, as if somehow you have the moral high ground on being nonjudgmental (ergo the irony of your post). Also, feedback from one of your “prayer group” affiliates calling us “tiresome” does not really contribute all that much, in my opinion. I am not trying to attack you, but just like you have expressed your dislike for some posts, I am telling you that you also can be misinterpreted (for instance, I don’t really believe you think you are better than us, but it is coming across that way).

    I appreciate your take on grace and love, but the point can be lost when we are “spoken down to” – I may not be the smartest guy, but I think there are a lot of smart people here who have given thought to this and have made meaningful contributions.

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  40. I’m going to pop a comment in quick while comments are open. I want to read this book; it will have to go on the list for now, because budget is a little tight.

    I read and loved “Take This Bread”. I think Sara gets sacraments and their purpose way better than even many Lutherans I know. From what I have read from “Jesus Freak” on Amazon, I think this next book is just as good. I think she sees people the way God does.

    I know, I know, but does anyone REALLY want to go there? Does anyone want to talk about Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirschbaum?

    I don’t know. When all this cultural war name calling gets going, does anyone else get a little nervous? I really do get the feeling that all this talk about grace is a sham, and that the behavior police will come after me next for whatever imperfection my life bears.

    I agree that our lives need to bear witness to Christ and that holiness really does matter; but in the end, people need Jesus, not me. I will never be an adequate substitute. I could be the holiest man on the planet and still be no substitute – not even close. But there, too, we put piety ahead of love and think somehow by our actions that we are proclaiming something about God. I’m ranting. I’ll stop.

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  41. P.P.S @ Mark – I think you are very brave and I thought maybe Proverb 28:4 would be encouraging to you to remain brave.

    Love is the fulfillment of all the law so if we are going to be loving people I think the Holy Spirit will help us keep all the laws.

    I used to profess to be a christian and I was sleeping with a man and had two children out of wedlock, I believed it wasn’t so bad – after all I loved him. Then God showed up and I saw that I wasn’t loving this man at all just encouraging us both to sin. The consequences of that sin will reverberate for years as our two children suffer the fallout of my misguided christian love.

    I felt like Job – “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes!

    @Debra – may He grant you eyes to see.

    Guess I felt like a fight after all – ’cause I’m a Rock star.’

    I can only pray God’s continued mercy on us all.

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  42. I’d probably start another brawl if I say what I was going to say anyway 🙂 Reading blogs like this though help me wonder if it was like this in the days of Noah, everyone eating, drinking and getting married all the while discussing, “Did God really say.”

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  43. Dan, in case you were referring to my post saying that the Pharisees were legalists, let me qualify that by saying that many, but not all, Pharisees were that way. I think Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and Gamaliel were pretty open to the Gospel. And I do think that Paul, when he was Saul, was very legalistic. At the Damascus Road conversion he saw the light, and from that point on you are right about Paul and grace.

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  44. I tried to post another comment here yesterday and it said the comments were closed. ?. Nevermind.

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  45. Antinomianism (from the Greek ἀντί, “against” + νόμος, “law”), or lawlessness (in the Greek Bible: ἀνομία,[1], “unlawful”), in theology, is the idea that members of a particular religious group are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality given forth by that religion, and that salvation is by predestination only.[2] Antinomianism is the polar opposite of legalism, the notion that obedience to a code of religious law earns salvation.

    Main Entry: an·ti·no·mi·an
    Pronunciation: \ˌan-ti-ˈnō-mē-ən\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Medieval Latin antinomus, from Latin anti- + Greek nomos law
    Date: 1565
    1 : one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation
    2 : one who rejects a socially established morality

    Antinomianism

    (anti, against, and nomos, law)

    The heretical doctrine that Christians are exempt from the obligations of moral law. The term first came into use at the Protestant Reformation, when it was employed by Martin Luther to designate the teachings of Johannes Agricola and his sectaries, who, pushing a mistaken and perverted interpretation of the Reformer’s doctrine of justification by faith alone to a far-reaching but logical conclusion, asserted that, as good works do not promote salvation, so neither do evil works hinder it; and, as all Christians are necessarily sanctified by their very vocation and profession, so as justified Christians, they are incapable of losing their spiritual holiness, justification, and final salvation by any act of disobedience to, or even by any direct violation of the law of God. This theory — for it was not, and is not necessarily, anything more than a purely theoretical doctrine, and many professors of Antinomianism, as a matter of fact, led, and lead, lives quite as moral as those of their opponents — was not only a more or less natural outgrowth from the distinctively Protestant principle of justification by faith, but probably also the result of an erroneous view taken with regard to the relation between the Jewish and Christian dispensations and the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Doubtless a confused understanding of the Mosaic ceremonial precepts and the fundamental moral law embodied in the Mosaic code was to no small extent operative in allowing the conception of true Christian liberty to grow beyond all reasonable bounds, and to take the form of a theoretical doctrine of unlimited licentiousness.

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  46. I am a staunch supporter of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. I am also a staunch opponent of the New Perspective on Paul. I also have serious problems with the perfectionist theology found in Wesleyan circles, the progressive view of justification in Roman Catholicism, and the “in-and-out” soteriology of classical Arminianism. I hold to the five points of Calvinism (though at times I struggle with the L of the TULIP).

    So your insinuation that I reject the precious doctrine of sola fide and God’s freely saving love is totally unfounded. I take great comfort in those Protestant doctrines too. However, I also know that Scripture gives us repeated warnings that not all who profess the Christian faith are truly saved. That many on the last day will find themselves outside of the saved company because their faith was superficial. Whether you like it or not, Scripture declares in many passages that those who are truly saved will live transformed renewed lives. This renewal is not only external but affects the core of our being. True saints persevere in this newness of life and bear fruits in accordance in repentance, though they fail, sin, and give into temptation time to time.

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  47. Ted,

    External legalistic righteousness is antinomian if you look closely. People who put so great an emphasis on external rules (i.e., no drinking, no dancing, no playing cards, etc.) or exclusively on external morals (i.e., it doesn’t matter how you feel about someone as long as you don’t physically murder them) are antinomian because they neglect the more weightier matters of the law (i.e., helping the needy, genuinely loving your neighbor, being compassionate to the lowly, etc.). Focusing so much on external rules and morals may sound legalistic on the surface but it is actually antinomian to the core.

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  48. Paul was not a legalist. His letters to the Corinthians are about grace, written to the church under the New Covenant. At some point in our lives, all of us are going to read First Corinthians Chapter Five, and it is FINALLY going to hit us like a two-by-four.

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  49. Thanks, Mark.

    But I’m still holding that the Pharisees were legalists. Antinomianism, being the opposite of legalism, would not have led them to challenge Jesus on each and every letter of the law.

    Often legalists will insist upon the law while claiming that it doesn’t apply in their particular case. At times they could be right, but usually it’s just hypocrisy. Rather than antinomianism, that’s where I think many of the Pharisees were at.

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  50. I am by no means a Bible scholar, but I have a passing knowledge of theology and I’ve never heard such an interpretation. You say its a recent development though, so maybe I’m out of date.

    I see a few problems,

    1) Who has authority over what the Bible says? Who has authority over the law? I don’t see any logical or meaningful way for you to claim that your view of what actions are sins is the capital T “Truth”. Deferring to tradition is in no way satisfactory in itself, consensus can change over time, personal inspiration is not provable…

    2) What about biblical figures who (I assume) made it into heaven just fine in spite of their unrepentant “sins”, like any example of OT prostitutes, slaves, etc.

    3) I worry whenever anyone puts contingencies on what my “faith in Christ” must do. That sounds like a break from sola fide.

    4) How does one show compassion? or tolerance? I understand your view that to truly “love” someone you must at times be critical, but where is the time for understanding and compassion?

    5) I’d also like to reiterate that you are making a claim that has not been made by any church I am aware of (except, of course, westboro baptist church, which i assume you’re not a part of).

    I reserve the right to be wrong, of course. Its just that sola fide and G-d’s love and grace upon even the unrepentant sinner is something I take great comfort in, and your complete dismissal of such a notion is jarring.

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  51. As a confessional Lutheran, I can affirm what @Patrick Kyle has spoken, and regard the doctrine predestination to hell as a leap that the Bible never makes. This is what happens when we look at the hidden God and not the God revealed in Jesus Christ.

    Soli Deo Gloria

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  52. Ted (this is in response to your earlier question above),

    You were wondering why I told Chaplain Mike: “Our Lord condemned the Pharisees not because they are self-righteous legalists but because they were self-deceived antinomians to the core!”

    Many evangelicals today still have this faulty notion that our Lord was condemning the Pharisees because they were self-righteous legalists who thought they were morally superior to all others. This is laid out in Matthew 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount) and Luke 6:17-49 (Sermon on the Plain). When many evangelicals read these two sections they naturally assume: 1) that Jesus was condemning the Pharisees and their legalistic religious system; or 2) that Jesus was presenting the stringent demands of the law so that people can find an alternative way to salvation by grace through faith (the traditional Lutheran view).

    Biblical scholars are now finding these two views problematic. What Jesus was saying in those two sermons is that a person who already is in the Kingdom of God (and will enter the fully consummated Kingdom in the future) possess a righteousness that goes much deeper and meaningful than the superficial righteousness of the Jewish religious leaders. In other words, if a person’s righteousness does not exceed or surpass the righteousness of the Jewish religious leaders they will not enter the Kingdom of God. Yes, we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone but that faith must constantly express itself in practical ways of righteousness from the heart. In other words: how you live and what your attitude is to God and other people truly does matter whether you enter the Kingdom of God or not.

    That is why I said in my previous posts that those who willfully, habitually, and unrepentantly live in sin show themselves to be unregenerate sinners who will not enter the Kingdom of God. That not only includes homosexuals who continuously engages in unrepentant homosexual behavior but also straight people who unrepentantly and willfully engage in other non-homosexual sins.

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  53. And the transcript of the whole Larry King show, including Ted Haggard’s joining the rest of them:

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1004/23/lkl.01.html

    The transcript has obvious typos (e.g., “inherent” instead of “inerrant”), but those are easy to figure out.

    The show, though, IMO, is a complete mess and did nothing to illuminate things other than to convince me (as did the Christianity Today interview) that if Jennifer Knapp is going to talk about this subject and her lesbianism vis-a-vis Christianity and the Scriptures, she needs to “study to show herself approved.” Her arguments and statements are incoherent and rambling. The pastor’s were not much better.

    Complete.Waste.Of.Time. (But, hey, it’s Larry King, right? Why should I expect anything else?)

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  54. Mark, let’s get past The Guy from Knoxville’s comment, and let’s try to get past your comment, “I know that I am in the circle of the true and faithful,” –even though that sort of comment could be why others object to your point of view .

    Getting past all that to a related topic, I’m interested why you would say, in an earlier post to Chaplain Mike, “Our Lord condemned the Pharisees not because they are self-righteous legalists but because they were self-deceived antinomians to the core!”

    Care to explain? I just don’t get it.

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  55. But, truth be told, I sometimes wish it didn’t — or I wish there really was a mix-up in translation from the orignal Greek that gets us all of the hook.

    Not necessarily a mix-up in translation from the Greek, but a possible mix-up in the interpretation and application of the Greek and the perhaps improper wholesale application of arsenokotoi and malakoi to modern-day “homosexuals.” I’ve mentioned in earlier posts in this thread some things that some scholars say about the clobber verses. There are a number of scholarly and other works out there that tackle these questions from a Greek language and 1st-century cultural perspective. Read, e.g., Sarah Ruden’s new Paul Among the People. Some complementarians/patriarchalists/masculinists feel that the egalitarian rethinking and rejection of the women-be-quiet-and-subservient-to-men verses will lead to rethinking the “traditional” teaching on homosexuality. That may be true. Or the two may not be related.

    I think an issue that needs to be explored related to this is the purpose of male-female and marriage in the New Creation. If it’s no longer about, or primarily about, or supposed to be about, procreation, then that understanding impacts a lot of things.

    Just some thoughts….

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  56. Mark, please read Michael Spencer’s essay “Why They Hate Us”. Sometimes people have problems with Christians because of the gospel, and sometimes they hate us because we’re just plain un-loving and obnoxious.

    I probably have had hatred or anger directed at me for both reasons, but I do know that people just stop listening when we stop taking responsibility for our unloving words and actions and blame people’s understandable reactions to them on the gospel.

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  57. Mark,

    I’m not liberal at all, not emergent either. I, like so many others here, have become so sick/tired of the this kind of judgmentalism that goes on amongst, so called, evangelicals. Listen, I said that I don’t approve of the lifestyle, I think it is a wrong choice and a choice to be avoided but I honestly do not think that anyone is going to be reached via the type of things you are saying. The guys next door to me would totally shut down and be non-receptive to this kind of approach to share the gospel. Both these guys know clearly where we stand on things but we don’t go over with a big leather bible beating them over the head shouting sinner, sinner you’re going to hell! You just will not reach them or anyone for that matter with this this straightforward confrontational, judgmental, looking down your nose approach.

    Like I said, they both know we are christian, regular church attenders (don’t go there Mark!) that we are definitely conservative in many matters including this one but if trying to live life before them as Christ would as he did is a wrong approach – what else is left??

    It may not be said publicly but in private I do not doubt that there is not some struggle with this issue among persons in this lifestyle – even those who seem most at ease and comfortable with their decision to stay in the relationship. You and others (I’ve been guilty of this too) do pick and choose sins whether or not you admit it – it’s not all homosexuality and abortion…… what about alcoholism, gossip, greed, adultery, fornication, sex addictions, lying and a host of other things that you could add are any of these any less/more serious than another or any other? I think not. One thing I have learned is that love and living Jesus out before people daily has a far, far greater impact than screaming hell, fire and brimstone at every person committing you list of chosen sins.

    Do you have the same tenacity and outrage at the pass that adulterers get in churches, that persons in intimate relationships outside of marriage get etc? Mark, humanity is broken and all because of one singular bad decision – Christ fixed that but he did not take the raging mad man approach that so many evangelicals (fundamentalists) do. As has been said, Christ did get angry and it was the religious that took the brunt of that when it happened. What, for example, of the woman at the well? 5 men she had been with yet he didn’t blast her into oblivion – no, he sat and talked with her, loved her and presented the simple and uncompromised gospel to her and from that she went and compelled the entire town to come and see/hear Jesus – don’t you think that was/is a better approach? You can’t compromise the gospel or take sin lightly – there’s a time to deal with it – and it does have to be dealt with and when that time comes you won’t have to fight about it……. live your life as Christ would and let God prepare the hearts of folks and things will go much smoother.

    Mark please do quit playing the victim/martyr/persecuted – it gets so tiring after awhile and it’s getting to a point that most here are shutting you off and moving on to read other resonses and posts so, stop it already – you’ve been heard, it’s been noted now move on!

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  58. Mark, I’d be interested in a more substantive response to this part of “Guy’s” post:

    “but the bottom line is you’re not ever going to have a chance to win these guys or any other gay/lesbian by beating them into the ground at every opportunity – it takes time, patience and much, much prayer, love and living out Jesus before them daily – only then will you have any chance to reach them – that’s what we’re supposed to do. There will be an opportunity to deal with the sin issues and the hearts will be far, far more prepared and receptive by the time this comes around and you won’t have to beat them in the ground either – they will, in many cases, be ready and receptive.”

    Unfortunately, we do live in a post-Christian culture. Homosexuality is accepted and is not uncommon. Both at my current job and my last, there are gay employees. There are also employees living together, drinking themselves silly together, and heavily involved in the hookup culture – and there’s the manager who disappears into the liquor closet every night. Our cultural soil is rocky, and thorny, and neglected. Not good ground to just scatter seed on; we waste the seed and we waste our effort. “Guy’s” point, as I’m taking it, is that we may need to spend time preparing the soil before we even attempt sowing any seed. It may feel good to proclaim the Word and be rejected and know that the “right” people are angry with you (which is a far, far cry from the Apostles rejoicing because they had been found worthy to suffer for Christ). But does it *do* any good?

    Further question: do you actually know, interact with, have as co-workers, any homosexuals in your day-to-day life? How does your approach work with them?

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  59. “And I found that Jesus does not, anywhere in the Gospels, spend too much time calling his people to have feelings, or ideas, or opinions. He calls us to act: hear these words of mine, and act on them.” (p xiv)

    “Being the body of Christ didn’t allow a lot of room for sentimentality or waffling, and didn’t depend on my ability or failure to like any particular individual. It just demaned a new heart from me, a new way of seeing other people.” (p xvii)

    “There is no other authority on earth we have to wait for, no permission we need in order to act on his words. All it takes to be a Jesus freak is to follow him.” ( p xx)

    All from Sara Miles’ book Jesus Freak. Amazon lets you read the first twenty or more pages of the book. Sara is a very honest, committed Christian, in my opinion.

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  60. Mark said: “You missed the point entirely, Jenny”

    Which was? I apologise for being of lower intelligence than yourself, but need help here, what are you getting at? I still don’t see what point I missed.

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  61. Mark, it’s interesting that, for the most part, you evaluate the “anger” directed against you here by stretching it across three groups that you seem to think don’t have anything of worth to say to you anyway. Can’t people who you truly believe are wrong still have a point, sometimes, when they point out something problematic in your words and/or tone?

    If you want, you can dismiss me, because I happen to be sincerely struggling with basic Protestant assumptions. In your mind, that fact might put me into one of the above three groups. However, it’s still the case that there really has been a problem with how quickly you jump to conclusions about people and become harsh with them here. Please take this seriously. Not very long ago at all, I was a Reformed “contending for the truth at all times” sort of person. I know all too well about making quick assumptions and speaking harsh words that just might not be merited.

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  62. I just got through watching Larry King Live with Jennifer Knapp, Pastor Bob Botsford, and Ted Haggard on the issue of homosexuality and Christianity.
    First off, I have to commend Knapp, Botsford, and Haggard for the high level of civility in their discussions. It’s very rare that you see the law of love holding sway over speech in the media — especially when they’re talking about and even disagreeing over an issue as volatile as homosexuality in the church.
    And I have to admit, I found myself convicted by the Spirit as I watched — particularly as I watched Botsford apparently struggling over his loyalty toward what he sees as scriptural truth and love toward someone I suspect he genuinely views as a sister in Christ (even if a wayward or backslid sister). And Knapp seemed to see, understand, and even share in his inner turmoil. Strangely, I found myself overcome with grief with real tears flowing (which is very rare for me). And I felt a strong desire to see them step down from their opposing stances, embrace in tears, and beg and grant each other’s forgiveness right there in front of Larry King, God, and everyone. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
    Maybe my emotional reaction stems from the fact that I am a huge fan of Knapp as a master musician and lyricist — and I also share Botsford’s conviction that scripture clearly identifies homosexuality as a sin. But, truth be told, I sometimes wish it didn’t — or I wish there really was a mix-up in translation from the orignal Greek that gets us all of the hook. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m very open to being wrong (or only partially right) on this issue, and I think we would all stand to gain from more open, transparent, and love-guided discussion.
    By the way, I’m sorry, Mike, for not addressing Miles or her book, but I thought this was relevant to the post.

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  63. Chaplain Mike, here is a quiz for you: do you know why our Lord condemned the Pharisaic view of righteousness? Because the righteousness that they promoted was merely external and not deep down into the core of their hearts. Our Lord condemned the Pharisees not because they are self-righteous legalists but because they were self-deceived antinomians to the core!

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  64. The fact is, the anger directed towards me on this forum is usually from 1) evangelical antinomians like yourself and many others; 2) emergent postmodern types; and 3) plain liberals who are angry with conservative Christians.

    In a way, I am glad that I am being shot down here by these types. It makes me feel comfortable that I am in good company. When you’re being attacked by people who twist Scripture and promote things that are abominable in God’s sight I know that I am in the circle of the true and faithful.

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  65. Chad,

    First Corinthians 6:10 states that habitual drunkard will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Don’t take this up with me but with the Lord.

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  66. did you, or do you, still post over at a forum on evolution, religion, philosophy, etc? i realize that’s extremely vague, but i can’t remember what it is called now, but i once was over there in the conversation and remember this name…just wondering!

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  67. so if i have some beers, or many beers, in the confine of my home, get a little tipsy and fall asleep next to my lovely wife only to wake up the next morning in that same bed next to my same wife, i’ve sinned and should feel bad about the fact that i got drunk? is it really the getting drunk that’s bad, or the things that people tend to do while drunk that are bad? not a silly question at all.

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  68. Mark,
    do I hear you correctly in that salvation is conditioned on rule following? i could be wrong, but that seems to be in complete contrast to the Gospel. what do we do with the prodigal son? sometimes the scandalous love of the Father is too much for us religious folk, just as it was too much for the Pharisees.

    so if a homosexual feels bad enough about who they are, the can still be saved? exactly how bad must they feel? i’m not just asking these questions to provoke anger or be sophomoric. seriously. how bad do we have to feel for our sins?

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  69. and then Jesus told the criminal on the cross next to him that he would be with him in Paradise for simply confessing his belief in Jesus as Lord. hmmmm.

    well Mark, i’m glad you have it all figured out!

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  70. “sin is still sin,” except that Jesus’ death and resurrection has defeated sin, so sins consequences for those who confess “Jesus as Lord” aren’t the same, right?

    is there a real urge or pressure for the sins you mentioned to be repented of? again, it seems some are wiling to say that homosexuality is a “continual” sin while all other sins allow for repentance. most of the greedy Christians i know [myself included] aren’t encouraged by their churches to change and aren’t all that guilty. in fact, as long as people tithe, greed is likely to be praised. let’s not speak of gluttony in America. are we calling people to repent of these sins with the same fervor some want homosexuals to repent? that’s my beef!

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  71. One other thing Mark…………. before you even get started don’t you dare start down the road on COCs – you know nothing about the one we attend and you wouldn’t believe me if I told you but suffice it to say they teach salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone! That one thing sets the at odds with a great many old hard line fundamentalist COCs around the southeast US – if you don’t believe me on that then visit one and see what response you get!

    Just wanted to nip this one in the bud before you start speaking about things you no nothing about. Now I’m done!

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  72. Mark,

    You know, I have my issues with this subject and I have two neighbors (guys) who live together – they are gay (homosexual if you prefer) and quite honestly they are the ones I go to for assistance moving something, borrow a ladder, tool or sometimes, we (my wife and I) just enjoy the company and friendship we have with them and a friendship that we do not share with our other neighbors or at least not to the degree we should – these guys are great friends and I gladly call them such. When we’ve had sickness in the family they have been there to offer assistance, they have given of their resources in assisting us in raising funds to help our oldest grandson (12 yoa) who has cancer and a host of other things to numerous to mention here – this is already going to be a long post. Many times it was them long before our own church family who were in the know regarding our situations – go figure!

    Now, all that having been said – I still think the lifestyle is less than desirable and fraught with many problems not the least of which is attitudes from self-serving folks like yourself. It is just that very reason that I could never ask these guys to come to the church I was attending (church organist here). If I had and folks knew they were gay the phone wires, cell towers and carrier pigeons would have been working overtime because of the gossip that I believe would sound much like you Mark…… not to meniton what would be said of me – not that I would have cared about it – point is I would not have put them through that. My wife and I left the baptist church April 26th last year and right now, outside of filling in at the organ for a select few churches, I probably won’t go back anytime soon and partly for this reason and others. We attend a COC now that I would be more apt to invite them to than the baptist church I was last at. The COC folks, at least the one we attend, would love these guys, show kindness, not be judgemental etc – does COC approve of the lifestyle? No – but the bottom line is you’re not ever going to have a chance to win these guys or any other gay/lesbian by beating them into the ground at every opportunity – it takes time, patience and much, much prayer, love and living out Jesus before them daily – only then will you have any chance to reach them – that’s what we’re supposed to do. There will be an opportunity to deal with the sin issues and the hearts will be far, far more prepared and receptive by the time this comes around and you won’t have to beat them in the ground either – they will, in many cases, be ready and receptive.

    I agree with Chaplin Mike – Jesus’s harshest words were directed at the self righteous and in a very pointed way. Lord, have mercy on me a sinner got God’s attention and mercy was granted or given…… I thank thee that I’m not like this sinner statement got God’s attention too and what was given was judgement. Should we make a stand on sin yes but we need to be inclusive of all sin not just our select few and the current day whipping boys are homosexuality and abortion – both wrong – but it’s clear that what evangelicals say and the way we approach these folks, more often than not, drives them away – not so much from the church but from Christ himself! You think yourself the keeper and protector of all that is righteous all the while shutting out those who would be saved from ever knowing Christ. What have we done? God forgive us…….

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  73. Why does this kind of topic always bring the Gospel Reductionist out?

    We can learn something of the law from a person that is a sinner that is outside of orthodox Christianity. Christians don’t have a monopoly on the law, we have a monopoly on the gospel.

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  74. I’m going to a gay wedding a week from Sunday. It’s not like it’s a legal wedding and I’m not sure where they found a Rev., but still it should be interesting. It’s kind of a secret.

    One of the women is like my sister and was there for me when I suffered suicidal depression. We used to play Christian music and pray together. The couple live together now and have taken in someone in our church who got a bad staph infection and had to have two or three surgeries. It would freak me out, honestly, to have staph in my house. They’re more Christ-like than I in that respect for sure.

    If there’s a wickedness scale and they fall into the Hell-bound side, I imagine 90% of the country will be there with them, because I know very few people who love God and neighbor more.

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  75. Thank you to the writer of this post (I forgot to look who it was) for convicting me of my judgmental attitude. This post has helped me to see better how to pray for and continue in relationship with a friend who recently came out. Thank you.

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  76. Some churches, wholeheartedly, view drinking in the same way that you view homosexuality. Don’t be so casually dismissive of Jay’s comment, or else you risk satirizing yourself.

    As you’ve said elsewhere on this thread, you think homosexuality is an uncontroversial sin, and that all unrepentant homosexuals are unsaved. However, there have been Christians who, after having examined the arguments for and against (as you have with drinking), have come to the “not a sin” conclusion.

    Or take a case like slavery. The church has no Biblical reason to outright ban slavery, but I don’t think we’d disagree that it is an uncontroversially evil practice. Solomon was a polygamist and owned prostitutes, but G-d never got angry at him for either of those practices (and he is still called a wise man nonetheless).

    I’m not trying convince you homosexuality isn’t a sin, I’m willing to just agree to disagree, I just think that a little skepticism about our dogmas could help us all be more loving, Christian, people.

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  77. Jesus reserved that kind of talk for one group alone—the self-righteous and and those bound by religious pride. As for the rest, “a bruised reed he will not break.”

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  78. Greg,

    I don’t have answers, only more questions.

    I have a high view of scripture, and I think scripture is pretty clear on the issue.

    Having said that, we are just beginning to understand human genetics, and we don’t yet have all the answers about what makes someone sexually the way that they are.

    I am afraid this might be one of the issues, like slavery, where the church might look back in time and say boy did we ever have it wrong.

    So for know, I honestly don’t know what to think. As for me, I will chose to love the Lord my God, with all my heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.

    Some of the other issues, like greed, gluttony, neglect of the poor, are all issues which I can speak to. I know that I have failings in my own life in these areas and am seeking to rectify them.

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  79. For what it’s worth, John 11:49-53 proves the old adage that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
    Back to Jeff’s original point, you may still have major, can’t-bridge-the-gap disagreements with someone, and yet God may ultimately be able to use their words for His greater purposes and glory. (And no, that doesn’t mean you have to accept everything they say.)

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  80. Why is that “silly territory”? Where I live, almost all Christians believe that to drink alcohol at all is sinful, full stop. Where I originate from, drinking (in moderation) is not generally believed to be sinful. Many evangelicals say all homosexual activity is wrong, but others will interpret the bible differenly, and do not see a faithful same-sex relationships as sinful. What’s so silly about the comparison?

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  81. I’d read it. I’d just read it with a grain of salt. But that’s true for any book I read or review, from Donald Miller to Chuck Swindoll to Brennan Manning, all sin sometimes clouds the view of perfect truth. So this woman is no different. Doesn’t mean, even in her sin, that she couldn’t see truth as well, perhaps in a way I don’t.

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  82. SOOO many words for you right now, Mark. I just can’t imagine how Jesus was able to be around those with attitudes as pious as yours without commiting a felony. He flipped tables rather than lash out at individuals physically I suppose, because He was without sin, and by my understanding, committing a felony would indeed be a sin.
    There is no one righteous, no not one…..

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  83. Eclectic Christian – Michael Bell says:
    April 23, 2010 at 1:48 pm
    Debra,
    Debra.
    .
    That is why many of us are on here, because it does provide an opportunity to think outside of ourselves. Don’t let your voice go silent.
    .
    When I was at seminary, for an ethics course, we had to research and and present as a group, the issues concerning homosexuality and the church. I read 50 books on the topic, looking at both sides of the issue.
    .
    It had to be the hardest think I have ever done, interacting on that topic for about a month. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be having to interact on that topic for a lifetime.

    So, what are or were your conclusions after doing all that reading and research? What did you “present” as your presentation/conclusion(s)?

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  84. Of course. The new covenant inaugurated by Christ has CONDITIONS. Though we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, the new covenant has stipulations that must be followed for us to enjoy its blessings (read Jeremiah 31:31-34). One of the stipulations is that we become obedient children of God. Not perfectly, and we stumble many times along the way, but towards the ultimate goal of becoming completely Christlike in our behavior, attitude, and mindset. This means that if a person professes to be a Christian but willfully and habitually engages in homosexual behavior he or she is not in the new covenant and will be cast into hell unless he or she repents of that sin and turns to Christ in faith and repentance.

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  85. You can’t love God when you’re unrepentantly engaged in willful sin. Jesus told us that if we love him we will obey his commandments.

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  86. No. Talking about those compromising lukewarm types. Telling an unrepenting practicing homosexual, glutton, adulterer, thief, idolater, etc. that he or she is not under the condemnation of God despite what they are habitually doing is one of the most unloving things you can do.

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  87. I think if some of the portly Evangelicals I know were to be confronted with the Eastern Orthodox fasting practices (or even Jesus’ words, “WHEN (not if) you fast….”), they’d suffer such extreme cognitive dissonance that their brains would short-circuit and they’d stroke out.

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  88. At the risk of inciting a riot, I’m both surprised and saddened by where the majority of the ungracious posts appear to be coming from.

    I need to go get some stuff done.

    “The Lord, he is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness…”
    “Be excellent in what is good; be innocent of evil. And the God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet.”

    “His love endures forever.”

    “May the Lord bless you and keep you;
    and may he make his face to shine upon you,
    and be gracious to you,
    and give you peace.”

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  89. Debra,
    Debra.

    That is why many of us are on here, because it does provide an opportunity to think outside of ourselves. Don’t let your voice go silent.

    When I was at seminary, for an ethics course, we had to research and and present as a group, the issues concerning homosexuality and the church. I read 50 books on the topic, looking at both sides of the issue.

    It had to be the hardest think I have ever done, interacting on that topic for about a month. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be having to interact on that topic for a lifetime.

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  90. Sigh. Christian evangelical hysteria over homosexuality is one of the primary reasons most of my friends have abandoned the church and consider us utter morons. And rightly so. Unfortunately, the legion of us who either accept our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as they are or believe the interpretation of homosexuality as a sin to be an incorrect one are rarely given a platform. So, the vitriol reigns supreme, and intelligent, compassionate, beautiful souls flee the church en masse for saner pastures. I don’t blame them, but it breaks my heart.

    Thank you for the non-review review. I will definitely take a gander.

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  91. Greg…there was no reply tag to your reply below about compassion. I appreciate your words for what they are, but I don’t need assurances from you or anyone here. I never have. I only hoped to further the dialog among believers about judgment of others, etc. in hopes we could all work together to do the Lord’s work. It’s ok for me it hasn’t turned out as I had hoped. My hope is in Jesus who has redeemed me, and who guides me daily.
    Peace brother.

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  92. I am sometimes appalled by the many people who come to iMonk and post things that make their claims to be Christians as liars.

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  93. this may sound odd coming from me, but one thng we might agree on is that gays need compassion and knowing they are accepted RIGHT NOW probably more than the truth that this lifestyle does not please GOD; I know with my workmates, I have yet to tell any of them anything that smacks of “turn or burn”. I think they’ve already heard that a ffew thousand times already.

    God’s health on your journey thru the ev. wilderness
    Greg R

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  94. Okay, I should also add a homosexual who keeps bedding his one life partner without repentance demonstrate their lack of salvation.

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  95. There is a difference between having a beer and getting wasted by beer. Let’s not take this into silly territory.

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  96. well noted;

    I don’t trust Benny Hinn because (last time I heard him preach) he was unashamedly GREEDY, had no problem milking a lower to middle class audience for his “ministry needs” , which at the time (8 months ago) were running at about 1.2 million per week. This does not disqualify everything he says and does, and as I said, his forgiveness is not an issue to me, but I’m not looking to get ministry cues from him either.

    I hope this makes my position on him clearer.

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  97. So it’s OK for Jeff to presume that everyone who reads this article is the worst blood-vessel popping freaked-out picketer that you’ve ever seen on MSNBC?

    My point, for anyone who cares, is that if one who writes actually intends to communicate with readers and persuade them in any way, it is perhaps better not to presuppose that they are consumed with irrational anger and predisposed to respond with a hail of stones. When I read commentary, I look at it as if the writer is trying to communicate to me, He is trying to involve me in the conversation. If it seems that he presumes that I am stupid, hateful, or potentially unhinged, that turns me off.

    Respect your audience. Or not. You choose.

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  98. It’s ok Greg R….it feels like a lost cause to me, making any attempt to engage anyone here to think outside of themselves. It seems that with the passing of IMonk, my time here has passed as well.
    Godspeed.

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  99. I’m not sure what your point is except to say “Greg R, you are self-righteous”. That may be…..at times I’d even say “That’s DEFINITELY true……” but your post does nothing to answer my legitimate questions, and I don’t think I’m the only one here who has them. At what point does a lifestyle that goes against God’s stated will goes BUMP with that person’s teaching credibility ?? I don’t doubt for a second that Miles has many great things to say. But I’m also 53 and in a little bit of a hurry to see the Kingdom lived out: who will I make my teachers, my mentors, my guides ?? Is my time best spent with her book, or one slightly less insightlful, but written by someone without a known area of rebellion in their lives ?? These are individual decisions we all make.

    I hope the above helps, even slightly
    Greg R

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  100. I forwarded this article to my friends I gather with each week for a supper club/prayer group. This was the reply from the most positive minded of us all…the one with the biggest heart:

    “Truth? I tried reading the comments and these people are mostly tiresome (present company excluded, of course!). Amazingly (or not?), it seems like MOST of the commenters are terribly, awfully, certainly sure of themselves and their judgments about about their fellow travelers . Very quick to judge.. finding it easy to throw out Sara Miles’ great insights over one issue.. Gee, one person even attacked Amy Grant!
    By and large, it’s pearls among the swine, my dear, pearls among the swine!”

    Does that answer anything for you? You (and others here) appear as self-righteous as those Jesus confronted through parables all throughout the NT. It’s heartbreaking to those of us you point your fingers toward and label sinners. There can be no civil recourse on what the Bible does and does not say about the issue of homosexuality and the judgment of that as sin.
    Your minds are made up, and you feel justified in your judgments. That’s ok. I love you as I love myself….completely.

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  101. Uh, have you seen what these so-called Christians look like when they are picketing against gay issues/people? They definitely appear to be of the blood-vessel-bursting variety. Yeah, getting out on a street corner and calling people names and calling them pedophiles and all the rest is really rational and balanced.

    Not that anyone here would do that, of course, but how could Jeff know that?

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  102. So we are going to take very good content, very good stories of feeding those in need, and toss it away because…because…because why, exactly?

    To Jefff: this is an excellent question, and for me , the simple answer is “breach of trust”. It’s not an issue of forgiveness, of course her sin(s) are no worse than mine or anyone else’s. I don’t doubt the power of the Blood for her. She may be 100% forgiven, but should I put stock on what she says about ministry and following Jesus while spurning the clear teaching (for me at least) on her sexual sin ?? If this seems petty or trivial, I don’t have a quick rejoinder or comeback. Understandd that I read a wide variety of authours, from a wide variety of traditions. I’m trying to learn from everyone.

    But at what point does givng in to sin make a person’s credibility take a hit ?? I don’t trust Benny Hinn (also forgiven 100%) for basically the same reason Does this make sense to you ??

    Greg R

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  103. Less than a day on the blog, 86 comments and counting — nothing packs ’em in like Homosexuality or Evolution!

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  104. Not to further derail these comments (suuurrreee!!! 😉 ), but I’d like to humbly point out that obesity is not a sin – GLUTTONY is. Obesity is simply the condition of being overweight – which may or may not be caused by gluttony. It isn’t always, you know.

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  105. (and let me reiterate, I’m paraphrasing Fr. Neuhaus above, from memory – please don’t condemn him if it turns out I accidentally misquoted him! thanks!)

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  106. We reserve the most Righteous Indignation for the Other Guy’s sins. Especially the ones we figure we have no chance of ever committing.

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  107. I don’t have the exact quote, but the late Father Richard Neuhaus once asked the readers of FIRST THINGS to be patient with the novelist Anne Rice. You may remember that she recently reconverted to Catholicism, yet still supports gay rights (undoubtedly because her beloved son, Christopher, is gay). He reminded his readers that Ms. Rice was still a fairly new Christian and not a theologian, and as such could not be expected to be 100% doctrinally pure just yet. Perhaps Sara Miles fits into that category as well. It sounds like her heart is in the right place, even if her doctrine isn’t. Give her some time to grow up.

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  108. Because that sort of doctrine of the ‘elect’ quickly degenerates into Spiritual One-Upmanship: “Me Elect, You Not! Me Sheep, You Goat! Haw! Haw! Haw!”

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  109. Chad M, I have had the same thoughts as you stated..

    However, I have never heard a selfish, greedy, adulterous pastor mention those attributes in his life with a casual flair as Sara Miles did about her “wife.”

    I lean toward believing that God’s grace is greater than we can imagine and He uses people we cannot imagine, in spite of ourselves. And yet, sin is still sin.

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  110. COWARD! This has got to be the most ridiculous post I’ve ever read on iMonk. WHO CARES what the commenters say! By all means, if we are going to throw out what she says, lets at least do it because she’s a woman so we can really get medieval Christianity right. If you want to post a discussion on homosexuality, then just do it. Don’t disguise it as a non-book review. Or are you just being a agent provocateur, opining so that we might read it in spite?

    I’ll probably read it, but that ain’t why. If this woman is preaching the gospel, we all need to hear it! Plus, I’d love to hear an Episcopal preach an anabaptist message! And to all you judgers, let me remind you that pointing out someone elses sin is just as much a sin. What is it to you? Get the log out of your own eye and just follow Him!

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  111. there does seem to be a difference in which our life decisions play in our role as spiritual guides or leaders, isn’t there?

    Great question, this is what I’m wondering and trying to work out.
    Thanks
    Greg R

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  112. Regarding comment #4:
    I don’t understand why people see in the gluttony, greed, pride, etc. comparison, and here’s why:

    Yes, many people who are christian leaders are also gluttonous, greedy and prideful. And quite possibly, deep down in their heart, they know it and they don’t want to change. They may lead duplicitous lives. They may even give acknowledgement that this is a “struggle” in their lives.
    However, very few of them could say (in a “Gordon Gecko voice”), “greed is good”, without being questioned as to their orthodoxy by someone who is seriously trying to read the bible at face value.
    When I read that someone has made a public, lifelong vow/commitment to something that many would interpret or understand to be “sin” (therefore against that which God has come to redeem / set right,) then it is more difficult for me to understand their paradigm of justice in other areas of life.
    I’m not implying that what they say has NO value and should be dismissed, I’m just saying that I anticipate revisting their values system while processing their comments.

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  113. I don’t know how many more ways I can say my relationship with Christ has never been stronger, I have never loved him more, and I am in a same-sex relationship. It just can’t be heard by most here. They seem to prefer to think me a willful sinner rather than a child of God created in Their image (God’s image, that is).

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  114. I may be totally screwed then….My church teaches that drinking is a sin. Not just getting drunk, but drinking any alcohol.

    And yet, I had a beer last night and I don’t feel bad about it.

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  115. To the man who mentioned his drinking – I sense that because you feel bad about the excessiveness of your consumption you are obviously sharing the heart of God with God about it. Conviction I guess. If you do what I do when I am convicted you will possibly struggle for awhile. When I get convicted I believe that I must then do something about it – and I believe God is not going to be happy with me until I do and I try real hard and fail miserably. Yet in my despair if I cling to Him who has the power and believe I can do nothing without Him I fair better. I have to let go of trying to control the situation myself and trust myself fully to His Love, Mercy and Power. That is what transforms me – nothing else. And He usually does it in His timetable not mine – giving up control is the hardest thing but not hopeless. AA is successful because they too teach the need to give up control and the paradox is that in giving up control you find you have control with the help of a power greater than yourself. Anyway I am always very reluctant to enter His Throne room as I am – all dirty and messy – I want to clean myself up first,( put on my fig leaves) – He calls “Come to Me”, “Come as you are” I try and remember Joshua when he stood before God in his dirty rags, with satan in his face ragging on him and God shut up the demon and provided the clean clothes and clean hands, clean life etc. In Him freedom is found. Believe. His blood already covers you to enter boldly into God’s presence to receive the power you need to break the bondage you are in. A bruised reed He will not break. True Kaci ? 🙂

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  116. Mike – I think you misread the post. It never comes close to “celebrating sin”. The post entirely centered on whether a book should be read, let alone considered and even admired, if it is written by a practicing homosexual. Not even a hint of celebrating sin though….

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  117. there are two categories of people: my neighbor, whom I’m to love, and my enemy — whom I’m to love….

    I think that’s one the most insightful things I’ve read in a long time.

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  118. this , for me, is really a rubbing point; and I write as one has several gay friends, two of whom I work with 2000 hrs a yr…..so it’s not like I’m uninvolved with the question. Can we learn from them ?? Sure….. but whatever attitude or approach reflects Jesus here should be what we use for ANYONE living a lifestyle of unrepentant sin……OR is there nuance here ?? I’m painting the house of a woman with six kid’s whose husband thought it a good idea to split and go to another woman: what if Mr. Splitsville wrote a book ?? Would I take time to read it ?? Does he have something to teach me ?? Well, probably, but I’m not sure he’s on my “must read list”. Does this make sense to anyone else out there in the ev. wilderness ?? I’m a huge Yancey, Brennan Manning, God is having a party kind of guy, but are there AnY lines here to be drawn ??

    Just wondering
    Greg R

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  119. *Homosexuality vs Obesity*

    I’ve asked what the difference is between the homosexual Christian and the obese Christian. Both are actively choosing to live in a way that, as best I can interpret, is not inline with the Gospel and would be defined as “sin”. Can someone who is overweight, continues to choose to eat unhealthy food, and does not exercise be a Christian even though they are making an active decision to live in a manner not consistent with the Gospel? (btw….insert pretty much anything else for obesity…pride, lust, anger, sloth, greed….all of which are rampant amongst Christians, myself included).

    When I’ve asked this, I’ve been told the difference isn’t whether you are actively living in it, but whether it bothers you and you would like to change. Personally, I think this is a load of crap since I have a hard time imagining most in the church being more accepting of a practicing homosexual if they just publicly stated, “I’m still doing this, but it bothers me and I don’t condone it”. Yeah, good luck getting the same deacon position as the overweight 50 year old man….

    It’s just interesting how we choose which “sins” carry more weight, and even more compelling, how it somehow works out that those truly evil sins are the ones we don’t struggle with.

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  120. I think I only read one person who equated the blood of Jesus to the forgiveness of sin. His blood is what is applied to our sin. Grace is altogether something different. I don’t know this woman so I share with utmost humility. I asked myself what do I think is the intention of her heart for writing her book? Is it more about the ministry she does even though she is homosexual? Is there a rebuke there for those of us who believe and don’t reach out to the ‘lost’? I dunno. I recall a passage, Lord did we not blah blah blah in your name and He will say, ‘I never knew you’. Yes, Grace is more than just being forgiven. Titus 2:11-15 comes to mind for starters. Romans 5:6, …when we were still powerless…I am not sure if we remain powerless once the Holy Spirit indwells us.

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  121. So, we Christians debate whether we should read or listen to or learn from a Christian woman who is a lay minister and accepts homosexuality and is married to a woman. This is wrong at so many points to many, many Xians – a woman teaching or being in authority over men in church, being homosexual and in church leadership, etc. And she no doubt can argue from the Scriptures and scholarship for her egalitarian and gay beliefs and practices.

    What about reading a book by someone who is condemned by the Trent anathemas re: the Eucharist and several other points Trent asserts, and willingly and with full knowledge and intent says and affirms things that Trent anathematizes persons who say such things for? And similarly fully and with full knowledge rejects and renounces and disbelieves re: the Eastern Orthodox Church and its mysteries (sacraments) its anti-Protestant doctrines and practices? Such a person is an anathematized and reprobate heretic and schismatic with respect to the members of the two largest Christian bodies on earth. Wouldn’t reading what such a person writes be arguably far worse than learning lessons about Christ from Sara Miles?

    Just sayin’….

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  122. My comments have gotten a little buried, having been said early on. Moreover, several people have better articulated them. I have been pondering this awhile, and still am not past feeling somewhat baited.

    Earlier:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s just as difficult to listen to someone actively in a heterosexual, extramarital relationship. Whether we like it or not, our lives speak louder than our words. And whether we like it or not, people hold people in leadership positions to a higher standard. Let’s face it, if I counseled you, and then you found out I was a compulsive liar, would you trust me again? If I offered you a lengthy, in-depth exposition on the Sermon on the Mount and mesmerized you with my brilliance (insert humor here), but then you found out I was cheating in school, or being verbally abusive to people, that would change things, wouldn’t it? Clearly, my interpretation of “love your neighbor” and “live with integrity” would be a bit on the skewed end of things.

    I’m all for giving people grace; don’t misunderstand me. But if I can’t trust a preacher’s interpretation in one area of Scripture, doesn’t it stand to reason I have to wonder about the rest? People may have great insights, but they can also disqualify themselves.

    I’m unfamiliar with Miles beyond this post, so that’s all I’m going to say.

    Sixty-plus comments later:

    1. See, here’s what’s been placed before me: While, yes, people can realize some form of truth regardless of their religious affiliation (religious, not to be confused with denominational or the Catholic/Protestant/Orthodox divide), no one is asking me to question the validity of my thoughts on their sin.

    2. I quite understand not all homosexuals agree that what they’re doing is a sin; but, quite frankly, that doesn’t change reality. No rudeness or condescension intended, just matter-of-factness.

    3. I’m quite capable of reading a book and appreciating what I find in it regardless of the source. The source, however, may never reach “mentor” status in my life if they disqualify themselves. I reserve the right to pick my teachers, oh insane church brat that I am.

    4. Please don’t compare drunkenness and gluttony with sexual behavior. I quite understand that they’re both sins. I also understand that Paul said himself that sexual sins “are the only ones committed against your own body” (slight paraphrase).

    5. Struggling a sin and nursing it are two different things. We do not love our sin.

    6. Unfortunately, Scripture does have a few things to say about your words and life not matching up.

    7. The strangest part about this is, I was fully prepared, when I read this, to discuss the actual book and its contents. The post itself appears to have demanded we discuss the writer’s life.

    8. Per sin, Scripture is quite clear on some things, and a bit fuzzy on others. Some of it’s a bit descriptive instead of prescriptive (ie, clear on not getting drunk, but as Jesus drank wine, we can’t legitimately say drinking wine is a sin, because Jesus was sinless). I strongly advise against this as justification for something.

    I realize I’m just a twenty-something, and I’m assuredly not trying to be rude or malicious. But after careful thought over the past 24-hours, this initial perspective has not changed.

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  123. Joanie,

    I agree with your point about love. As far as I can understand the Bible (not very far, often!), there are two categories of people: my neighbor, whom I’m to love, and my enemy — whom I’m to love. What other categories are there? True, love can be hard to do rightly, as St. Paul lets us know, but it is the starting point — and the ending point — in all relationships. And as far as loving sinners, um, who else am I going to love? It’s not my job to save them, although I must want them to be saved, nor am I going to be the judge on the last day. Thanks be to God.

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  124. “If you don’t understand the Bible the way Jesus did, you’re damned.” That’s a difficult statement for me to accept. First, Jesus didn’t have the Bible, of course; it was compiled as a book several centuries later, and none of the NT accounts had been written during his lifetime. The Bible is not something separate and above Jesus; he cannot be judged by his understanding of it. Second — and this seems a little point, but I think it’s important. J. Random says “did” — past tense. Jesus DOES, not did; Jesus is alive and intercedes for us at the right hand of God. I get the sense that the poster thinks the Bible is the eternal Word of God and Jesus was a nice historical character. I may be over-reading here . . .

    But my final problem is the poster’s implication that salvation is through understanding the Bible. If that’s true, that means that no mentally handicapped people, no children, no poor scholars can be saved. Not only that, but everyone who lived during Jesus’ lifetime on earth can’t be saved, nor can those who lived in the next couple of centuries, because they didn’t have the Bible. Even Melchizidek and Abraham can’t be saved by that reasoning. Understanding becomes a work, in this viewpoint, something we have to achieve before we merit God’s grace.

    Salvation is through belief in Jesus, through accepting his healing and his atoning grace.

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  125. I find this article interesting but remarks like these…

    “Again, loose your grip on that stone. You’re going to pop a blood vessel in your hand.”

    …I find unnecessarily provocative and condescending. As if any Christian who considers homosexual behavior a serious sin is so unbalanced and full of irrational rage that they are in danger of bursting a blood vessel.

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  126. Oooh, Ingmar Bergman movies. So moody and visually striking.

    And yes, I believe we can learn from all kinds of sources. There are many truths within Buddhism, but I remain Christian as well. It’s with Jesus that I find the Love.

    Here is a great Cherokee prayer:

    “O’ Great Spirit, help me always to speak the truth quiety, to listen with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.”

    I have that taped to the side of my computer tower along with other quotations from the Bible, Confucius, Chief Seattle, CSI (“Teamwork makes the dream work” 2-19-09) and more.

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  127. I can learn from anyone of any theological and/or philosophical persuasion. That includes theologically “liberal” self-identifying Christians (with whom I might well disagree on certain points, as I do with Sarah Miles). That includes Buddhists. It includes atheists. Etc, etc.

    Now, must I use careful discernment? Unequivocally, yes! I am a Christian, not a syncretist! However, some of my most profound “learning” moments have been while watching foreign (meaning, not made in America) films by avowed non-theists, such as Ingmar Bergman

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  128. I read Love Is An Orientation (good book!) by Andrew Marin based on Michael Spencer’s recommendation that we ALL read that book more than once, in fact. One thing that struck me in the book is Andrew’s decision that he was going to choose to love EVERYONE and if they were doing something that was sinful, he was going to trust the Holy Spirit enough to “convict” them of that sin. Now I am sure that folks will feel this is too simplistic and that people will want to know what we THINK of homosexuality being a sin or not. The thing is, though, people who are homosexual have heard or read about what Christians say that God “thinks” about homosexuality so there really is no need to belabor that point. Just treat all people the way you would want to be treated and trust God. And yes, I am aware that all kinds of issues can come up like, “Should the practicing homosexual be a leader in the church?” or “If I think my child is about to get involved in a same-sex relationship should I have no concerns?” AND…I do think that a lot of people see less “wrong” with females in a sexual relationship than they do males for reasons I will not get into here.

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  129. If we don’t read this woman’s book, because she’s a practicing homosexual, we’re saying that the forgiveness of the gospel only goes so far.
    — — — — —
    Has she asked for forgiveness?

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  130. Of course, judging by the numbers of comments I come to this a bit late, but Jeff, if your previous post was about Jennifer Knapp’s coming out as a Lesbian, why would it surprise you if most of the comments were on that same topic?

    My own take on all this is this: I read books from all sorts of authors, even ones I disagree with, and I learn something from all of them. Whether I would recommend Sara Miles’ book to others would depend, apart from how helpful I find the book after reading it myself, on whether in it she defends (rather than just mentioning) her own homosexual life style, and whether such a defense (if it is there) would be likely to confuse or otherwise harm the potential reader.

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  131. Goodness Cramdon, I hope you’re going to AA or NA meetings! My husband has an active ministry to addicts and alcoholics, and I see/live this problem on a daily basis.

    You will find the most real, honest and non-judgmental people you will ever meet in NA and AA. If you want to feel forgiven and accepted, go to a meeting. God works through NA and AA in a powerful way, and I urge you to take advantage of the people there and how they can help you. (It’s incredibly sad to me that I can feel more tangible love in a group of addicts than in people sitting in the pews next to me on Sunday.)

    Oh, and God uses alcoholics and addicts in recovery in ministry all the time. I’ll be praying for you, brother.

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  132. The more common argument that I’ve heard goes something like, “because relationships comparable to heterosexual relationships were relatively unknown in any culture before now (they were either based upon power (man and younger man) or status (man and prostitute) or cult worship, etc.), any reference the Bible makes to what can be translated as homosexuality is not comparable to homosexuality today”, so slightly stronger than just “the Bible doesn’t mention lesbianism”, its usually claimed the Bible doesn’t mention any modern homosexuality.

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  133. Is there no room for disagreement on what is a sin? Many intelligent, deeply devoted Christians have disagreed over what is or is not a sin. Is drinking alcohol a sin or not? is getting divorced or remarrying a sin? Not to oversimplify the issue, but the few Christian homosexuals I know are firmly convinced that their orientation is not a sin. Its not that they haven’t read their bibles, its that they disagree over interpretation.

    I don’t know where I stand on homosexuality’s status as a sin or not. I’d probably fall on the side of it not being a large enough issue to be divisive over. And I certainly wouldn’t presume that I know the status of someone’s salvation because I think they need to repent. What position am I in that I could make such a claim?

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  134. No one put homosexuality on a different ladder. You’ll be surprised how many “Christian moralists” will end up in hell.

    People who continue to practice a sin without repentance or godly remorse demonstrate their lack of salvation. Whether it is a homosexual who keeps bedding new partners or a church elder who constantly exhibits pride, greed, and deception while claiming to be a Christian.

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  135. Heaven will be inhabited by people who are completely forgiven of their sins and justified in the blood of Jesus Christ. However, that is not the end of the story. Those who are forgiven and justified by the blood of Jesus Christ will also demonstrate their new birth to the end. This excludes anyone who professes to be a Christian yet lives a life that falsifies that claim (i.e., people who unrepentantly practice homosexual behavior).

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  136. kind of maddening that workaholic, gluttonous, prideful, judgmental, divorced pastors/authors/leaders are given a free pass while homosexuals are thrown under the bus. i wonder, is it because Christians are disgusted by homosexuality, or because they believe it is a worse sin that all others? is homosexuality more damaging to one’s relationship with God than bigotry, pride, greed, hate, liying, stealing, etc.?

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  137. iMonk was also in hot water a while back for quoting James Alison (who has written some absolutely brilliant commentary on the gospel parables). Worth your time.

    I just bought tickets to see Jennifer Knapp next week.

    Oh, and homosex is a sin.

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  138. I thought I was being pretty clear. If you don’t understand the Bible the same way Jesus did, you’re damned. There is no grace for those who draw the wrong conclusions about the Bible’s nature and meaning. God judges people by how correctly they understand the Scriptures; if they miss the mark, then all their professions of faith in Jesus are false, and they may not enter the kingdom of heaven.

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  139. I’ve read this one a few times. I’m still not sure I’d compare the question of “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” with this one.

    Regardless, I’m going to say like I said about a Ghandi quote once: He may have a point, and it may well be true. But that doesn’t mean he has the spiritual high ground. God uses whom wills, when he wills.

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  140. There are some scholars who agree with you. In addition to other things, they argue that Romans 1:26 most likely refers to non-genital male-female intercourse, not female-female sex. Because the kind of sex that men can “likewise” (1:27) engage in would be anal or oral or intercrural intercourse.

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  141. You’re dead on.

    When do those who most like to take St. Paul literally when he writes about sex and women do the same with these words of his from 1 Timothy 6?

    “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

    No truer, but more disregarded, words.

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  142. Romans 1:26&27

    “For this reason w God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

    If there’s another, I don’t know it offhand. I’m not really sure it’d matter, though. If it’s wrong between two men, logically it’d be wrong between two women as well.

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  143. I remember when she was interviewed for this book on Steve Brown, Etc. She made a similar passing comment about “my wife” and it turned into a very funny moment on the show (Steve Brown is all about Grace, but he is VERY conservative in his views) as well as a firestorm on the comments.

    Really, I doubt a review of this book will fly well. Sad, really.

    At any rate, Miles has some really good things to say. The interviews I’ve heard with her have really made me think. I’ll probably read Take This Bread before the current book, but it does seem like a good one.

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  144. Heaven is populated entirely by forgiven sinners, it is true, but it is also populated entirely by *repentant* sinners. The difference between the two is the difference between universalism and real Christianity.

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  145. I bought this book for my (20 something) daughter. I neither knew nor cared about the author’s sexuality. I can’t comprehend that there are people who say don’t read it because the author has the wrong orientation. Don’t we all have wrong orientations? Have i loved my husband more than myself? Have I never wanted something I cannot have? do i not compromise with greed and pride and sloth a hundred times a day? The author is my sister in Christ, in His eyes she may be far more obedient than I am. Yes, the bible says that homosexuality is wrong. it has a lot more negative things to say about the way we oppress our brothers and sisters.

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  146. Hello Matthew

    I do not equivocate “can anything good come from Nazareth?” with good and Godly advice from those who apparently embrace and advocate a practicing homosexual lifestyle. “Good” can from a wellspring of sources. I think Sara Miles is likely spot-on in a good majority of her book (of course, I need to read first, but I trust the author of the post). Does being right excuse the wrongness in other areas of our lives? I think Jeff’s argument is that we can separate the two, and maybe we can on some level, but credibility comes into play at some point.

    I do not believe God wants me to be alcoholic – from a human perspective I feel trapped, no way on earth I can get out. As to the second question, I think God can use me to lead others in a limited capacity, perhaps if nothing else as an example – though I have been brought down from the heights of leadership (my choice, not because of others) as I cannot in good conscience preach with such (IMO) active and damnable sin in my life. I

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  147. Thanks, Joanie, your insight and encouragement means a lot. I am torn between the disease / sin model. Alcoholism seems to run in my family; my grandmother was plagued with it her whole life, and undoubtedly her demise had something to do with it. My uncle (her son) is in his early 60’s now – he is literally homeless and has nothing. My mother never touched the stuff, as she had a hard life with my grandmother. She is the strongest Christian that I know personally, but I am afraid to break her heart.

    My reading of the Bible leads me to believe that drunkenness is a sin, so though I believe God accepts the drunkard, I struggle with drunkenness as a positive defining part of any Christian’s life. I guess this gets back to the question of accepting (i.e. embracing or so it seems from this post) our sin, dare we call it that, while still purporting to offer something to our Christian brothers and sisters (from a leadership perspective, as in Christian leaders / authors).

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  148. I don’t get what you are trying to prove here, Jeff. Are you just trying to be provocative? That a person can live, unrepentant in sin and still write meaningfully about Christian spirituality? Insert any other sin (we aren’t debating that it is a sin, are we?) in place of homosexuality, would you still be as provocative? Yes–grace, redemption, all of those things, she may well be close to Jesus, maybe closer to me–but are we supposed to celebrate our sin?

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  149. Jeff, I read Sara Miles book Take This Bread and liked it very much. She is much braver than I am and more loving too. I think lots of us could learn from her. Thanks for the little bit of the book that you DID review.

    Cramdon, you asked about yourself in reference to God, “Does He want me to be an alcoholic?” Someone said: “God loves you just as you are and loves you too much to leave you just as you are.” That may seem a little too cute and platitude-like, but maybe there is some truth in it. Perhaps there are some folks who get great joy out of being an alcoholic and perhaps they bring great joy to others because of their alcoholism, but from what I have seen around me, many problems develop due to alcoholism. BUT…if alcoholism is a disease, then we do wrong by making people feel they are somehow “less than” because they are alcoholics. We don’t make people feel they are “less than” if they have cancer or diabetes. I think the difference is people think, “But if they just stopped drinking, the problems would go away, so how can it be a disease?” The problem there is that the alcoholic is often still suffering terribly in spite of the fact that he or she is not drinking. I am very close to a person who is suffering due to alcohol, but he suffers perhaps even more in some ways when he tries to stop. I don’t know if it is still true or not that the people who stay healthiest while in recovery from alcoholism are in AA, but I think having a group of friends who understand you, support you, want the best for you must be a great help. And those that do find their “higher power” may receive much help that way. I guess I just don’t have the answer and I wish I did. But I do hope that you will experience the peace that Jesus told us about. I hope you stick around this blog and will be a regular commenter, Cramdon.

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  150. I totally agree with most of these post. I especially like the one from Sixwing. I think we should change the question to if we can learn anything from any other human’s because we are all sinners and I think the answer would be YES.

    I wish you would review the book. Even if people do get offended by her sexuality, maybe it will be the time Christ finally convicts them of their blindness to their own sin.

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  151. I had to read your comment a few times –

    I was thinking your last sentence was going to read “that’s the sort of thing Jesus would forgive”.

    I am unsure on where you stand, as your first sentence sounds quite relativistic…

    Care to clarify?

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  152. That’s not at all in debate here is it? Nor really germane in the strictest sense. I don’t think any of us question either of these statements, but there does seem to be a difference in which our life decisions play in our role as spiritual guides or leaders, isn’t there?

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  153. The difference is that the two understand the Bible differently.

    And that’s the sort of thing Jesus would never forgive.

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  154. Jeff, I understand – I am a believer in “Grace” I thank iMonk for a better understanding of this -a kudos also to Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” – It’s not about shutting up the sinner, but on the flip side where is the Grace for what we believe God wants for us? Does He accept me as a alcoholic – I think yes. Does He want me to be an alcoholic? Can I be in God’s will, leading and guiding others as a practicing drunk?

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  155. This was actually a question, not a statement posing as a question. It is the crux of the issue: Are we able to set aside someone’s sin–alcohol, in the case of another commenter–and receive what God has put inside of them? My intent was to get us to where we can say a resounding Yes to this.

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  156. “If this discussion was about a man living in a sexual relationship outside marriage would we be as avant garde in in our thinking about his ability to contribute to our spiritual growth?’ Would you embrace him? “Yes, he’s a fornicator but he sure does bring some spiritual meat to the table.” Look at the Christian Music Industry; Amy Grant, Ray Boltz – they had a lot to contribute, despite what most “bible-believing” Christians may think about them now. I am in no position to doubt their status as Christians, but they compromised their faith in the eyes of many and, knowing what I now know about them, I personally could not put myself under their spiritual guidance. Amy Grant still brings in the money, though. BTW, I rescinded my own Christian leadership role and opportunities…see my post above for the reasons.

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  157. …wow.

    I agreed with the sentiment before I read this post, but…that’s powerful. Can anything good come out, indeed.

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  158. This is an honest question from one looking to sort it out: If this discussion was about a man living in a sexual relationship outside marriage would we be as avant garde in in our thinking about his ability to contribute to our spiritual growth? If so, can you explain this? What about a teacher in a church? Would that be ok? Not wanting to provoke, but understand.

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  159. We read books all the time written by rich, greedy, unrepentant people/sinners who advocate and endorse the love of money, and we can’t get enough of them. They’re welcome in any church in town, and if they join they’ll likely end up in a position of leadership.

    It’s funny how sins committed by people like us are OK, whereas sins committed by people who aren’t like us are shameful and unnatural.

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  160. I got your point. I just felt that the redirect to homosexuality was inherent in the post. I was perfectly ready to read the book review and discuss the book itself. I know nothing about Miles, and honestly wouldn’t have brought up her homosexuality had it not been presented as the issue.

    Not trying to be rude. That’s just how I read it.

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  161. There is a difference between a practicing, habitual, advocating and non-repentant homosexual than a person who is struggling to turn from, who hates it and is not an advocate or endorser of this shameful and unnatural [Romans 1] lust.

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  162. Aaron,

    Yes, it is ‘OK to embrace’ and it is theologically correct. “Limited Atonement” or the idea that Christ died only for the ‘elect’ is rejected by a number of groups, among them Lutherans and Roman Catholic.

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  163. Yes, in other words, that was part of what I was trying to say in my earlier comment. Thank you for your review. I am certainly interested in checking this book out, now.

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  164. “Can we possibly receive anything good from one who is a practicing homosexual?”

    Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

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  165. I’m with Sixwing. I have witnessed compassion and forgiveness far outside this camp we call “Christian”. Christianity does not have the market where this is concerned. You state that homosexuality is a “sin” – I believe this. I “love” alcohol (I say this with seriousness), and in fact I don’t doubt that I am an alcoholic. I believe God loves me, and forgives me, but I am mired in this sin to the point of “afterthought”. I don’t like it, but this is who I am, just please ignore it. Everything else I say, practice, and live – look upon this. Don’t judge me on this one screwed up part of my life. But I suppose it is very PC to embrace homosexuality – the alcoholic Christian must remain in the closet.

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  166. I think that you can and should review this book. I personally would love to know what the author has to say.

    If the only reason we’re not reviewing this book is because of the author’s same sex relationship, then I think we need to have a serious talk about that. We need to think about how that decision is being justified. I feel like this is an example of gospel cowardice. If we don’t read this woman’s book, because she’s a practicing homosexual, we’re saying that the forgiveness of the gospel only goes so far.

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  167. As far as I can tell, this is the gospel. I imagine Calvinists would take issue with it, because it describes an unlimited atonement, but otherwise it is fine.

    Indeed this is how grace was explained to me, when I first began to believe.

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  168. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s just as difficult to listen to someone actively in a heterosexual, extramarital relationship. Whether we like it or not, our lives speak louder than our words. And whether we like it or not, people hold people in leadership positions to a higher standard. Let’s face it, if I counseled you, and then you found out I was a compulsive liar, would you trust me again? If I offered you a lengthy, in-depth exposition on the Sermon on the Mount and mesmerized you with my brilliance (insert humor here), but then you found out I was cheating in school, or being verbally abusive to people, that would change things, wouldn’t it? Clearly, my interpretation of “love your neighbor” and “live with integrity” would be a bit on the skewed end of things.

    I’m all for giving people grace; don’t misunderstand me. But if I can’t trust a preacher’s interpretation in one area of Scripture, doesn’t it stand to reason I have to wonder about the rest? People may have great insights, but they can also disqualify themselves.

    I’m unfamiliar with Miles beyond this post, so that’s all I’m going to say.

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  169. Jeff Dunn:

    I have a bigger problem with her Episcopalian (as well as the Lutheran and Catholic and Orthodox) doctrine of the Eucharist than with her being in a same-sex relationship.

    But that’s just me. 😉

    (How’s that for throwing a curveball?)

    Please read/review away – if I don’t read comments about the book from you, I’ll browse it the next time I’m at Barnes & Noble or Borders Books, ’cause it sounds interesting.

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  170. I greatly enjoyed Miles’ “Take This Bread”. I was heartened and chastised by her handling of being part of a church that by and large does not think she should be a part of it (not talking about the church she attends of course, or the denomination of which it is a part). She relates, think about it, *relates*: posing “How are you?” as a question to be answered rather than as a rhetorical phrase that means “Hello”–seemingly with everyone she meets. That is amazing. It is so much easier to be cold, to ignore people–and not only the poor and the obviously hurting people she talks about, but also those who think you really have no business being where you are, much less saying what you are saying, doing what you are doing, or even being who you are.

    Miles sees great beauty in being in the church, the church universal, the church in which so many people hold many different and indeed contradictory views. Miles tries to connect with other Christians on core Gospel values: the ones by which Christ-followers are supposed to be recognized. She stands as an example of this where I fall short, being short of patience with those who would have me be silent and not wanting to be where I am not welcome (though I am unwelcome for other reasons).

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  171. Can we possibly receive anything good from one who is a practicing homosexual?

    The more pressing question to me is:
    Can I learn something useful, beneficial, beautiful, from another person? Another human being?
    My religion, and my experience, state that we are all of us sinners, and all beloved. I am no better than she; she is no better than I, and God loves us both and gifts us both with that scandalous, terrifying grace. Can I learn something from another sinner?

    Of course I can.
    Of course we can.

    C.S. Lewis argued that God does not stand on dignity. How much less can we?

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  172. I really like this quote by Capon: “Heaven is populated entirely by forgiven sinners, not spiritual and moral aces. And hell is populated entirely by forgiven sinners. The only difference between the two groups is that those in heaven accept the forgiveness and those in hell reject it.” Is this ok to embrace? Is this theologically correct? Can someone help me? Sincerely – Thanks 🙂

    -Aaron

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  173. A couple things come to my mind immediately:
    (1) A paraphrase: “Why do we immediately tout the words of Paul while ignoring the words of Jesus?” Ms. Miles may be living in sin. So am I. I don’t know the condition of her heart, or her true relationship with Jesus. But if I am judging her based on one sin of which I am aware, am I ready to do the same for myself, for whom I know many more sins? And if I deny that I sin, I have already been lost. (Re-read the sermon on the mount, and really think about it. It isn’t too late to be saved!)
    (2) Can I learn from or enjoy the work of a practicing homosexual? I hope so. God knows that I have in the past. Music, writing, acting, etc., I have enjoyed them all. Hey, who doesn’t enjoy any of Elton John’s music? I greatly enjoy most of it! But I judge it by the content, not by the author/writer/singer/etc. A true expression of emotion can be beautiful, regardless of the originators sexual orientation. Just like Ms. Miles can teach us about making ministry successful in a difficult environment. And I can praise God for the love she shows, for she must show love to those she serves. And God is love, correct?

    So, will I read the book? Admittedly my time is quite limited now, so I suspect it will not be in my immediate future. But I assure that the reason has absolutely nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the author.

    JAy.

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