Questions for a Conservative Seminary

I’m taking a sexual ethics class at a Conservative Baptist Seminary. Basically, that means I don’t exactly fit in there. But when the professor of the class makes statements like: “Never has American culture been so deeply divided. It is dividing Americans more radically than the issue of slavery that sparked the American Civil War” when discussing same-sex marriage, I feel compelled to try writing some sort of response to it.

Maybe same-sex marriage is dividing certain churches and certain parts of Christianity but it’s certainly not dividing Americans more than the Civil war. Mostly because ya know, there hasn’t been a literal war over sex other than the culture wars.

My main response to many things presented in this class is in the form of several questions that maybe I’ll expand into other blog posts later:

  1. How does our sexual ethic affect the rest of our moral views or mean that we have to redefine our moral framework if we don’t hold a “biblical” sexual ethic?
  2. Is holding to a conservative sexual ethic required to be a Christian?
  3.  How is the current conflict over same-sex marriage in any way affecting what we believe about salvation, the meaning of the gospel, the incarnation, etc?
  4. How would you express your conservative, biblical sexual ethics to someone who is not a Christian and/or holds a different sexual ethic or even a different worldview?
  5. Are you expecting them to live by the same standards as traditional Christians hold to?
  6. What about the separation of church and state?

My professor also made claims that we have “redefined” marriage based on people’s feelings. So, let me just say this too. Gay couples or bi/gay couples aren’t wanting the same equal marriage rights as straight couples because they simply “feel” gay. This is limiting the complexity of sexuality to feelings. Sexual orientation is about sooo much more than that. People don’t just decide one day they want to be gay or follow their feelings to the point that they’re ok with being attacked and demonized for that “feeling.” Anymore than transgender people wake up one way and “feel” a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth.

If we’re truly going to “engage” the culture ( a phrase I’ve heard quite often recently), we need to actually engage it/engage people–not attack people. The evangelical church as a whole is good at going to war with the culture.

They’re not as good at calling a truce and fighting for peace and empathy in “reaching” the culture.

Also, a few more questions:

  1. How can churches better minister to the LGBTQ community that is in the margins between their faith and sexuality?
  2. Why do they have to choose between two things that are a part of who they are?
  3. Why is the church asking LGBTQ Christians to give up something that they themselves do not have to give up? (a life long relationship with someone they love–just of the opposite sex. In other words, not JUST same-sex sex.)
  4. Why is the church not showing compassion and reaching out to minister to sexual minorities?
  5. Why has the church’s main response been only “don’t have gay sex” or “you have to change to be accepted”?
  6. Is what’s really the most important thing in this discussion allowing churches to reject LGBT people and therefore exclude them from being ministered to like everyone else in the church?
  7. Also, why was the church’s majority response to the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting on June 12th of THIS YEAR that killed 49 people and wounded 53…silence. I’m sure if gay men would have stopped “choosing” to be gay or if lesbians would have stopped having sex maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe the victims of the Pulse shooting brought this on themselves so you should just condone this violent act by either being silent or by saying the victims somehow deserved it. Simply because the victims were majority LGBT. But also some of them were Christians.
  8. So really, the question I most want to ask is why we can mourn the victims of other mass shootings more easily than the lives lost in the Pulse shooting who were predominantly LGBT?



Drops in the Ocean

I love deep conversations. They keep me going and make me feel alive. Recently I had an hours long conversation with a close friend about what our “core” values are and why we stand for what we stand for, why we do what we do, and why we believe what we believe. So many people and so many experiences shape us. Our culture shapes us. Our religion shapes us.

And for me, I struggle with finding out what one core thing is my thing–my reason for doing everything I do and taking a stand against homophobia, sexism, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, racism, etc. I know that those are all important things for me to talk about, but I don’t know the ultimate why of it all. I do know I care deeply–more deeply than most people.

Sometimes I think that’s my Christian background being reaffirmed in coming to grips with who Jesus actually is instead of who my church, parents, or school said he was. Yet, I’ve always been…different. I don’t know why God made me different. I just know that I am. And it makes me more passionate about helping others who are different.

I never fit in growing up. I’m not meant to, I don’t think, and I probably never will. I’m a queer woman, feminist, gentle person, animal lover, people lover.  I often care about things that most people wouldn’t give a second thought. This doesn’t make me anything special. I’ve been abused and targeted for abuse because of being all those things listed above. This makes me more compassionate and empathetic.

It makes me see people for who they really are. Sometimes it seems I know how to love others better than I know how to let others love me. So…I don’t know what my ONE THING is. Not in one word or one phrase. but I do know this:

You are alive. The fact that you are alive means something to me. You have worth and value, and there is hope coursing through your veins.

You. are. alive. Therefore, you have purpose. You matter. And you should be treated like you matter.

And because you are alive, I love you. I may not know you, but I will try my hardest to see you as a person even if no one else sees you. You make this world brighter by lighting up the darkest parts of who you are.

You are here. Your very existence means you are magnificent. Beautiful. Fantastic.

Because YOU ARE ALIVE. You have a beating heart, air in your lungs–gasping for meaning beyond yourself–bigger than you’ll ever know or imagine.

You are one drop of water causing a ripple throughout the vast ocean of life. You are alive. You deserve a world that sees you as you are and loves you just for being you.


Thoughts on I Kissed Dating Goodbye

Life after I Kissed Dating Goodbye…

Like most kids growing up in a conservative evangelical church, I was aware of Joshua Harris’s book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye long before I read it halfway through high school. Upon finishing the book, I fully endorsed Joshua Harris’s teachings as the best way to date and “guard your heart.” I had a purity ring, the first guy I dated asked my dad, it was really serious, and we had no idea what we were doing. Even for my independent fundamental Baptist church, it was a little too far when it came to purity culture and dating. My youth leaders didn’t fully support the courtship model of dating, but they didn’t speak out against the harms of the model either. My parents didn’t enforce strict courtship dating rules but I wasn’t allowed to date until after I was 18. (Yes, I was homeschooled after elementary school to protect me from “the world’s” teachings.)

Personally, this book taught me that there was only one right way to date and any other way that implied dating could be casual or fun even should be condemned. And I did adhere to it so very well with the first guy I dated. The problem was that even though I did all the “right things” and did it the “right way,” this particular courtship model gives men full control over the relationship. The gender roles are so strict and women can only be on the receiving end of the relationship according to Harris. It was the woman’s job in the relationship to protect the guy and not lead him astray. I felt held responsible for maintaining my first boyfriend’s purity because he couldn’t handle his “lust” and needed accountability (his words, not mine).

It terrified me that I could possibly marry the “wrong person” or go “too far” on a date and become forever ruined by the shame. I think that’s the word I most identify when I think about this book—shame. Not guilt. Guilt implies that something wrong actually happened/a wrong act was committed. Shame is what a group of people or a culture causes you to feel for not fitting into the status quo or “norm.” And I didn’t fit the norm. I spent so much time fighting against gender stereotypes because I’m not “feminine” enough and I’m an independent thinker. All that changed when I started dating and tried to follow IKDG in my relationship.

Giving the guy full control of my life even when we dated and were never engaged much less married led to emotional and sexual abuse. It didn’t matter how much I prayed about it and thought he was such a great “godly” guy, I felt trapped in the relationship. When I finally did end the relationship, I didn’t know who I was. My whole identity had been wrapped up in this one person and in molding myself into who he and my church/purity culture said I had to be. I’m more of the quiet, “submissive” type, I thought. I did everything right. So why didn’t this work? It has literally taken me years to undo what Joshua Harris’ teachings in his book taught me. It’s still a work in progress.

Another issue with IKDG was that I was only allowed to be straight and interested in men. Later I would realize that I was gay and no matter how hard I tried, regardless of what dating model I used, a relationship with a guy was never going to work out for me. Believe me, I tried. I spent a lot of time faking my attraction to men and not even knowing why my relationships never worked out. I even had convinced myself halfway through college that maybe I was just bi and that gave me some hope to have a relationship with a guy. And yet, the first time I attempted to be honest about this, the third and most recent guy I dated made me feel shame for being attracted to women and was afraid of me leaving him for a woman. So much was the shame of being queer compounded with the shame of losing virginity or giving my heart away to the wrong person. Now I identify as gay and gender queer, but it took a long time to get here. I wasn’t “allowed” to explore these parts of myself until after college.

Before I ended up in an abusive dating relationship, growing up in a very patriarchal anti-feminist church culture led me to giving someone else control of my body and my future. I was also sexually abused by someone in my church when I was a child. It felt very natural for me to let others control me because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. This book basically destroyed my life as a young adult because trying to live out the model outlined in IKDG doesn’t work out well in real life. It’s abusive spiritually, emotionally, and can lead to sexual abuse and physical abuse. Maybe Joshua Harris won’t own up to the damage his book caused so many in his lifetime. But I hope that having a platform for those of us impacted by the book like Life after I Kissed Dating Goodbye has done will help bring attention to the damage. I hope that each of us finds healing and love in a way that’s good and wonderful in spite of how we grew up.