Pastoral care

There’s a fascinating article this morning about last month’s anti-gay church ad and the outrage it engendered in the Loudoun community. For the record, the ad was not submitted to the Times-Mirror.

Ad spurs controversy across Loudoun
Loudoun Times-Mirror
July 25, 2007
By Jana Renn and Matt Van Tassel

An advertisement regarding an act in the U.S. Congress has ignited a local controversy between a church and a gay rights group in Loudoun, calling into question the advertising policies of two local newspapers.

During the last week of June, The Church of the Valley, which has congregations throughout Loudoun, took out an ad in Leesburg Today, Ashburn Today and the Loudoun Easterner with the headline, “Will you ask your Pastor to take a stand against the sinful practice of homosexuality?”

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Notably, Jay Ahlemann’s remarks to the reporter reveal a man so eager to portray himself as loving and accepting of everyone that he is willing to use – perhaps even violate the confidentiality of – individuals to whom he is trying to minister.

“I hugged – physically embraced – a practicing homosexual who is a leader of Equality Loudoun,” Ahlemann said. “I love all people, but I’m not going to stop speaking what the Bible says.”

As we said in an earlier post, and as I told the reporter, we see the appearance of this ad as an opportunity to have the conversation that the administration of Patrick Henry College was unwilling to have. Unlike them, we are not afraid to have a conversation about being gay and Christian, and what the Bible really says. Therefore, an Equality Loudoun board member has been engaged in that conversation with Jay Ahlemann.

Contrary to the image presented here – Ahlemann tries to make it sound as if he has openly GLBT people in his congregations – in actuality he has no experience with or knowledge of the gay community. He admits to never having had a gay friend, and expresses surprise that our board member seems to be just a regular person.

To his credit, he is willing to have this conversation. What we seem to have here is a person who has never before tested his assumptions about our community. It looks like it will be an interesting journey.

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26 Responses to Pastoral care

  1. Jack says:

    The LTM is itself being disingenuous:

    A hate crime is defined as being motivated by prejudice based on race, color, religion, national origin or gender of the victim. The definition doesn’t include the “sexual orientation” clause.

    That is true, as far as it goes, but the bill also amends Chapter 13 of title 18, United States Code, Sec. 249. Hate crime acts, to include “actual or perceived… sexual orientation [and] gender identity….” So the LTM statement is (probably intentionally) misleading. No, the definition of “Hate Crime” is not changed to include sexual orientation and sexual identity, but they will be included in the pertinent sections of U.S. Code, so the effect will be the same.

    A later statement, from Joy Cobb, is simply ignorant: “I’m offended that [Jay Ahlemann] is calling himself a Christian ““ Jesus was not a hater.” On the contrary, He hated sin with a Passion.

  2. Jack says:

    Oh, I forgot this statement by another ignoramus at the end of the article:

    Anyone possessing even a passing familiarity with the United States Constitution would realize that any bill that attempts to limit free speech would be baldly unconstitutional.

    Obviously, he has not seen our Campaign Advertisement Laws.

  3. David says:

    I don’t think that the LTM was being intentionally disingenuous, just a little sloppy on deadline. I say this because the quotes from me were a melange of my words and the reporter’s. Anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn’t have used the term “homosexuals,” for example. Such is life.

    The last statement is perfectly correct in this context. The idea that a law could do what Ahlemann is claiming, and be upheld as constitutional, is ludicrous. This statement is essentially the same as mine in my letter:

    The ad made the astonishingly false claim that a bill currently before Congress will “make it a crime to preach from” specific Bible passages, or to “say anything negative about homosexuality.”

    Readers with even the slightest familiarity with the U.S. Constitution looked askance at this ridiculous statement, realizing that this can’t possibly be the case.

    You yourself said in the first comment (on the letter linked to above) that the ad was “certainly factually incorrect.”

  4. Jack says:

    I did not say it was not ludicrous. Upholding the ban on campaign advertisement was similarly ludicrous. The Roe v. Wade decision was ludicrous, as was Helvering v. Davis. The Supremes are famous for ludicrous decisions.

  5. Russell says:

    It’s funny that when the phrase “sexual orientation” is used, it automatically denotes homosexuality.

    Isn’t heterosexuality a sexual orientation?

  6. Jack says:

    No, Russell, it does not.

  7. David says:

    But Jack, isn’t that the basis for claiming that a bill extending hate crimes provisions to violent crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation would create “special rights” for gay people?

    It may in some cases even be subconscious, but I think that what Russell is saying is true. Heterosexuality is an example of the unmarked case, the default condition. Just as ‘male’ and ‘white’ is the unmarked case, requiring one to specify female or person of color, it represents a state of privilege.

  8. Jack says:

    First, hate crimes against Whites generally are not prosecuted as such. There is a reasonable expectation that hate crimes against heterosexuals would be similarly ignored.

    White and male is the default case, here, because it is the expected case here. In China, Chinese is the expected case. In Africa, Black is the expected case. Being the expected case neither confers nor implies priviledge.

  9. Russell says:

    So Jack … you mean that if I run up to a white male and white female couple holding hands, presumably heterosexual couple because of their “behavior”, and smack them in the head with a baseball bat, yelling “YOU F-ING BREEDERS ARE ALL HYPOCRITES, STOP BREEDING SO I DON’T HAVE TO WATCH YOUR BABY SUCK ON IT”S MAMMA’S TIT IN PUBLIC – IT MAKES ME SICK, YOU BREEDERS MAKE ME SICK AND YOU ALL NEED TO DIE SO WE CAN ALL LIVE OUR OWN LIVES IN PEACE WITHOUT HAVING TO HEAR ALL THAT RIGHTEOUS BREEDER FILTH COME OUT OF YOUR MOUTHS, YOU IN THE CLOSET PORN LOVING BREEDER WHORES. WHAT MAKES YOU BREEDERS SO SPECIAL THAT YOU THINK IT’S NOT OFFENSIVE TO SHOW YOUR DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION IN PUBLIC. YOU ARE ALL SICK, SICK, SICK”, and got caught, It would be a reasonable expectation among heterosexuals that I not be tried under the proposed hate crimes legislation with sexual orientation language? … Fascinating that you think that.

  10. David says:

    Gee Russell, I wonder why that got caught in the spam filter…

    I hope I don’t need to point out how silly this scenario is. See the post above this one.

    Jack, you’re going to have to explain to me why ‘male’ would be the default case.

  11. Russell says:

    David,

    Silly scenario? … I thought that, before Matthew Shepard got murdered, what happened to him would have seemed like a silly, or unlikely, scenario.

    I would think that any person, no matter what their sexual orientation, or perceived orientation, are capable in committing a violent crime if their psychological state is at that point.

  12. David says:

    All I meant was that this is just not something that happens to straight people. It’s very well done as a reverse scenario, and I think makes the point quite well.

    Certainly people are capable of committing violent crimes regardless of orientation. Therefore there must be some other reason that bands of angry young straight men roam about bashing gay people in the manner you illustrate, but not the reverse. Hmmm.

  13. Russell says:

    Yes … those straight white men who seem priveledged in attacking and discriminating against gay people.

    How silly.

    Jack, here is the expected case for America;

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    , which is codified here;

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    Anything less and the point is missed, and, quite frankly, un-American.

  14. Jack says:

    Male is the expectred case because males have done more, and still do more, than females.

    Considering the amount of black-on-white hate crime that is not prosecuted as such, yes, Russell, that is a reasonable expectation.

    David, I was unaware that there are “bands of angry young straight men roam[ing] about bashing gay people.”

    If you really hold that all men are equal, Russell, why should crimes by some people against others to bear a different penalty? Why should a Black man attacked by a Black man get less justice than a Black man attacked by a White man?

  15. David says:

    Do you think that perhaps teaching that men have “done more” and are the default category of “human” is contrary to scripture? How about contrary to reality? By the way, when those things are contrary to each other, we have a problem.

    Whenever someone elevates the notion of scriptural inerrancy above reason and material reality, I think that is Satan speaking. Who else would tell people not to trust their own experience of God? Who else would discourage people from sharing their stories and asking what these older stories mean?

  16. Russell says:

    Jack,

    You mistake penalty with sentencing. The penalty for a crime is irrelevant as to who committed it – that is equality. The sentencing of a crime is determined by an appointed or elected judge interpreting the law as it applies to a particular case – that is justice.

    I am not aware that a murder designated a hate crime has a different penalty than that of a murder not so designated. Can you direct me to that distinction?

    Pertaining to your conclusion that males have done more, I would say that depends on the measurement and criteria of such a conclusion. If one was to measure that males have killed, murdered, and maimed more people, for whatever reason, than females ““ then I would say yes, males have done more. If one was to measure that males have educated more children than females ““ than I would say no.

    Males have made themselves, not an expected class, but a privileged class by historically and institutionally disenfranchising women with a clear conscious. That ““ is neither equal nor just.

  17. Jack says:

    Russell:

    Sec 7 of the Senate Bill S.1105 amends Chapter 13 of title 18, U.S. Code, adds an additional penalty of 10 years for a “Hate Crime,” and up to life if the crime resluts in death or “the offense includes kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.”

    Men have invented more, written more, been leaders more, and generally done more, than women. That is still the case. Giving a single counter-example does not invalidate the generality, and even women as teachers is a relatively recent thing. Even that is limited to the lower grades. I think the split in high school is about even, and the majority of college professors are male.

    Thus, when one reads a story, one envisions that the one written about is male (and White) until the author tells us otherwise. That is not contrary to scripture, David, it is simply how things are.

    “Whenever someone elevates the notion of scriptural inerrancy above reason and material reality, I think that is Satan speaking.”

    Do you trust your own reason so much, David, that if it conflicts with the Bible you think the Bible is wrong? THAT sounds like Satan talking, indeed.

    “Who else would tell people not to trust their own experience of God?”

    Look at Acts 17:11. “…they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

    And 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    If your “experience of God” does not comport with scripture, why would you think it was God?

    “Who else would discourage people from sharing their stories and asking what these older stories mean?”

    What stories?

  18. David says:

    That’s a very interesting blind spot. Are you claiming that there have never been instances of “scriptural” beliefs about the material world turning out to be false?

    Since that’s obviously not the case, how did that come about? How did we manage to reconcile what we learned with what we believed the Bible said?

    At the time, Galileo = Satan. Of course, because there were people who thought as you do. There are still people who believe that the Bible forbids interracial dating. There are still people who believe that the Bible requires women to have long hair and wear dresses, and that women must never be in positions of authority over men.

    It’s very funny that you rationalize patriarchy (the ideology you describe as “simply how things are”) without acknowledging the scriptural presentation of woman as an inferior being not made in God’s image.

    I think it’s too hard for you to come right out and say that you believe that.

  19. Russell says:

    Fundamentalism is also a relatively recent thing in this country – even ‘under god’ in the pledge of allegience was put there (in the 1950’s I think) so that people would not get confused between the godless soviet communists and our own righteousness.

    But, thanks Jack for pointing out the penalty distinction. I guess people feel we need more protection from the ‘expected case’.

  20. Jack says:

    David:

    Give me a case in which scripture is in conflict with the material world, and we will discuss it.

    I did not “rationalize patriarchy.” Do you disagree that men, in general, do more than women? Pick up today’s Washington Post, and see how many articles are about a man’s doing something, and how many are about a woman’s doing something. That is not patriarchy.

    Women are not inferior, nor are they superior. However, both do have their assigned roles.

    Russell:

    If you go the the FBI website and look at the crime reports, you will find that Black-on-White crime is more common than the reverse.

  21. David says:

    Give me a case in which scripture is in conflict with the material world, and we will discuss it.

    No, this is the wrong question. It doesn’t matter whether the orbits of objects in space actually conflict with scripture. What matters is that at one time, church authorities claimed this and people believed it.

    Re: patriarchy, you are missing the point to a degree that is downright comical. Do you think that perhaps being forcibly restrained from “doing something” throughout most of recorded human history could be an issue? For most of recorded history women have been regarded as property, essentially breeding stock with no legal or human rights. As recently as the last century women were not even permitted to vote in this country.

    Women are not inferior, nor are they superior. However, both do have their assigned roles.

    No, if you take the stories in the Bible literally you must believe that woman was not made in God’s image and is therefore not the equal of man. The words in the Bible are very clear. Either you take them literally or you do not.

  22. Jack says:

    So, David, since church authorities have been wrong in the past, they are always wrong, and you are always right, even when what you say conflicts with the Bible?

    Perhaps you should try reading the Bible, David. Here is Genesis 1:26-27:
    “26 Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

    In this case, you see “man” in the plural sense, thus the plural pronoun in verse 26. Verse 27 shows clearly that both male and female were made in the image of God.

  23. David says:

    Always? No. Sometimes? Yes.

    What you have quoted from Genesis is not the entire story, and you know that. You also know that Paul uses the language in Genesis 2 to establish that the patriarchal rule of men over women is the will of God. This language makes it clear that woman was not created as an independent being, but as a helpmeet for man – after all the other animals were created and named by Adam. “But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” Woman was then created from his body, and significantly, named by Adam as he had named all the other creatures.

    You can’t have it both ways, Jack. If you are going to insist that all parts of the Bible are equally authoritative when it suits you, you also must accept that as true when it may not suit you.

    Or, alternatively, you may have to accept that these ancient stories often do not prove to be a good fit for reality. That does not take away from their value as testimonies of faith, IMO.

  24. Jack says:

    There is no contradiction. Just because God created Adam before Eve does not mean that Eve was not also made in the image of God. Of all the animals that God created, none were good enough to be Adam’s helpmeet. He needed an equal. Thus, God created Eve. However, the role assigned was to be a helper. That does not imply inferiority. When you need a helper, do you choose one who is inferior, or do you choose the best you can find?

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