Criminal Minds creates a stir in the ex-gay community

criminal mindsThis Monday night there is one of the most controversial episodes of Criminal Minds ever. Certainly in America when it aired February 20th it created a storm.

The episode is called ‘Broken’ and its premise is that a homosexual man, who was forced into ex-gay therapy as a young man. It didn’t work and he now as an adult has an identity crisis.

The guilt and anger that the UnSub fights internally where he wants desperately to be able to be with a woman, but his physical inadequacies to perform sexually with them drives him to kill.

This drew much ire from a sector of the Christian community in the US. The sector that agrees and believes that homosexuality is a choice. You can Google it yourself to see the plethora of blogs, articles and opinions but here is a typical example of what has been written.

A former homosexual who founded Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays says Hollywood’s latest attack on people who leave the homosexual lifestyle reveals how much “gays” fear those individuals.

“They are so afraid of people discovering their sexuality and realizing that no one is born a homosexual and learning that they can actually change if they want to,” said Greg Quinlan about the issue raised by a recent episode of CBS’ “Criminal Minds.”

Now let me make this clear, Criminal Minds is a television show, a medium of entertainment, it is not factual, it is not a documentary.

In saying that the reason this episode caused such a stir in the US is that the themes of Broken are not that far from what many believe in what they call the ex-ex-gay community.

From the Huffington Post

The former poster child of the “ex-gay movement” renounced his controversial past beliefs in an email interview with PQ Monthly last week.

John Paulk, the former chairman of Exodus International and co-author of Love Won Out: How God’s Love Helped Two People Leave Homosexuality and Find Each Other, said he struggled with rejection all of his life and has been on a journey trying to understand God.

“Until recently, I have struggled all my life in feeling unloved and unaccepted,” Paulk said. “I have been on a journey during the last few years in trying to understand God, myself, and how I can best relate to others. During this journey I have made many mistakes and I have hurt many people including people who are close to me. I have also found a large number of people who accept me for who I am regardless of my past, any labels, or what I do.”

Paulk said he is now greatly remorseful for any harm that he’s caused by his words.

There are not many times I wish I was still working in radio, but this is a talkback topic that could go for a full 6 hour show on Newstalk ZB, or about 6 weeks on Rhema.

There is much out there if this topic interests you but one resource I have found of particular quality is an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling called ‘Pray the Gay Away’. The thing I like about Lisa is that she is genuinely interested in both sides of the conversation, she is balanced and the documentary is a safe place for people from both sides to have a look at this issue.

Here are three short clips from the episode. I encourage you to watch all three

 

 

 

Whatever you think, it’s a fascinating conversation and a good watch on Monday night, but then again I am a Criminal Minds fan.

Criminal Minds, Broken, TVOne, Monday 29th April 8.30pm

An open letter to the Church in NZ on Same-Sex Marriage

Dear fellow Church members,

This is an open letter about the Same-Sex Marriage debate to the Christians of New Zealand.

I have been a supporter of Marriage Equality for the LGBTI community in New Zealand for several years. To me it’s very simple, every person should have the right to be married to the person they love regardless of their sexual orientation. I believe marriage is a government institution; the church does not own it. Whether religious or not, we all have the same marriage certificates. A person’s faith or religious affiliation makes no difference to the legality or substance of their marriage. So if marriage is a government institution, there can be no discrimination.

I have had countless conversations around this topic in my role as a broadcaster working mostly in current affairs and talk radio. Something that has become blatantly obvious to me is that the position held by many opponents of Same-Sex Marriage, whether they are aware of it or not, has more to do with their opinion on homosexuality itself than with marriage equality. Many opponents of marriage equality come from a religious background, and they default to what they have been taught in churches about homosexuality as the basis for their position.

There seem to be three main lines of thought amongst Church members when it comes to Same-Sex Marriage.

  1. Homosexuality is natural and normal for a small portion of the population, therefore we are discriminating against this people group by not allowing them to marry.
  2. Homosexuality is not natural, and it’s a choice. Therefore there is nothing wrong with keeping a sector of society from marrying as you cannot discriminate against a ‘choice’.
  3. Whether we like it or not, there is already legislation that doesn’t allow discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, so matter what we believe about homosexuality we must make marriage available to the LBGTI community.

For me I find myself firmly in third camp. For me the conversation about the legalisation of ‘gay marriage’ has not one jot to do with religion, religious beliefs or the church. It’s a legal certificate that is issued by the Government, not by the Church, and as a ‘Government institution’ all should be able to benefit from it. In my support of Same-Sex Marriage I don’t even need to go to the first or second point above as they are irrelevant to the question at hand.

I’d like the conversation to be as simple as that…but there has been so much mistruth and exaggeration in the media surrounding this conversation, that I think we need to address it. These are what I believe are the key misconceptions relating to this issue.

But if we give the gays marriage next people will want multiple wives

No country in the world that has legalised Same-Sex Marriage has gone onto legalise Polygamy, and in the countries where polygamy is legal you probably don’t want to be gay as you may literally lose your head for it. However there is a libertarian view where some would say that if three or four consenting adults want to live in that kind of union, then does it really matter? I find it ironic that many who would reject the government’s over-involvement in their lives, and fight for the freedoms they see as important to them, are happy for the government to be involved in other people’s lives and legislate their freedoms away from them, when they disagree with those freedoms.

If we let the gays get married next they’ll want to adopt

I am of the firm opinion that the best place for a child to be is in a loving family with their biological parents under the same roof. In fact I believe that research has shown that when that couple is married it is even better for said child. But to then assert as some are that ‘gay adoption’ would be the worst thing possible for the child, on that point I will depart from many. I think that a loving, stable same-sex couple is going to provide a far better environment for a child than some of the tragic cases that have unfortunately become all too common in the news here in New Zealand. We only have to mention a few names, such as Decelia Witika, James Whakaruru and Nia Glassie to remind ourselves that many of our tragic and deplorable child abuse cases have occurred at the hands of straight parents, step-parents or caregivers. Would a loving and stable same-sex couple have provided a safer home for those children? Absolutely.

The bible is clear, ‘No’ to Gay Marriage

This is where the debate gets heated, as there are many theologians who believe emphatically that the bible teaches against homosexuality and homosexuals. That is not my personal view, and neither is it the theological view of an increasing number of bible scholars. One point that many of my theologian friends agree on, even those who are very conservative on this issue, is that if anything the bible talks about a sexual act, not a sexual orientation. This can be interpreted as the bible saying nothing about homosexuality or same-sex attraction at all, only about specific sexual acts.  Where then does that leave the heterosexual couples who engage in those particular acts? This is a complicated and much fought over area of biblical scholarship, and deserves a post of its own another day. But if, like me, you see marriage as a government institution and therefore as a right for all, then biblical interpretation regarding homosexuality is irrelevant in this conversation.

How dare this PC Government ride rough shot over the voice of New Zealanders!

The majority of polls that have been taken regarding marriage equality have indicated that in 2013 New Zealanders are affirming the move towards Same-Sex Marriage. However there is an old adage that if you live by the poll, you die by the poll. So if you bank your argument on the fact that most New Zealanders support your position this time, what about when they don’t? People tend to use polls when those polls support their argument, and then deride polls and pollsters when they don’t. For the Same-Sex Marriage conversation in my opinion it’s an easy one. Human rights should never be based on mob rule. The government needs to do what is right for that sector of society irrespective of what anyone, even a majority, may think.

The Gays will force ministers to marry even though it’s against their religious beliefs

This was an ill-conceived tactic by the opponents of Same-Sex Marriage. We have been assured since the beginning stages of this legislation that the law would be amended so no one had to perform a ceremony that differed with their religious beliefs. But even more than that, what LBGTI couple, on their special day, would want to force a minister to marry them? As promised, the new draft of the law allowed ministers and marriage celebrants associated with a church to decline to perform Same-Sex ceremonies based on religious beliefs. Non-religious marriage celebrants will not be able to turn couples away because of their sexual orientation, much like they can’t turn a couple away based on their age, their ethnicity or any other discriminatory issue where their ‘personal religious belief’ is not a factor and I think that’s fair enough.

Churches will be forced to hire out their premises.

Now this one is true but in my opinion very misleading and yet another red herring. The reason it’s misleading is that this is current law. If a church hires out its premises to the public, they cannot turn away a gay person or couple who want to hold an event there. Yes obviously there are no marriages happening right now between two men or two women in a church so that would be a new addition to a current law. But if a gay couple came to a church who hired their hall out to the public, and that couple wanted to hold a civil ceremony to declare their love to one another and be legally joined, right now under current law, that church could not discriminate against a gay couple.

One of the unfortunate by-products of these public conversations is that many outside the church now see those inside the church as being the reason their LBGTI brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, or children cannot marry. They see the church, supposed to be the representative of Jesus on earth, as rejecting their family and friends. They often conclude, not unreasonably, that this means Jesus rejects the gay community.

The recurring catch-cry of those in the church in response to the above accusation is, “but you don’t understand Pat, we love the sinner, but we are called to hate the sin.” I am sure most of those in the church have heard that phrase before and I think it is time to set the record straight. The concept of ‘loving the sinner and hating the sin’ is unbiblical, in fact it is the opposite of what we are called to do. Dr. Tony Campolo points out that what we are actually called to do is “love the sinner and hate your own sin, and after you get rid of the sin in your own life then you can begin talking about the sin in your brother or sister’s life.” I think he is right. Jesus said of the men who were, by law, allowed to stone the woman caught in adultery to go ahead…so long as none of them had sinned. We are told to not worry about the speck of dust in our neighbour’s eye when we have a plank of wood sticking out of our own.  Just think about that for a second, imagine if that was the filter we ran our lives through. Imagine if we truly loved people around us, end of story, and saved our judging for ourselves.

Finally, I want to encourage my fellow church members not to worry. The concern and near- hysteria that has erupted in response to the Marriage Equality Bill, which looks set to be passed this week, is simply unjustified. If you do not support the LBGTI community’s right to marry that’s your business, but please don’t believe any of the ‘slippery slope’ arguments that have been thrown around. This is not the beginning of the end of civilization and it’s not attack on marriage, not on your marriage nor mine. It’s a bill that redresses an inequality by giving all people the right to marry, a right which should already be guaranteed under current law. In other words it’s a ‘wrong’ that needs to be ‘righted’.

Pat Brittenden is a broadcaster, blogger and commentator and the executive producer and host of elephantTV

Do Christians need to be offended?

St Matthews in the City has brought out its yearly ‘controversial’ billboard and some Christians in NZ, and around the world, are outraged…but my question is “should Christian’s get offended?” and furthermore, “Does God need Christians to get their panties in a bunch, to ‘defend’ him?”

In my opinion the short answer is ‘No!’

Just for clarity the billboard is somewhat ambiguous as to whether it’s calling Jesus gay, or just cheekily stating that after a birth you ‘come out’ of your mother (too much detail?)

Christians are called to ‘love their neighbour as themselves, and love their God with everything they have.’ That’s it, that’s the core basics of a Christian faith.

Offence is something that maybe we cannot control, it boils up and overtakes us…but then we make an intentional choice as to what to do with that offence, my suggestion to Christians is before you jump up and down, before you rip down the billboard, before you slam those that put the billboard up just think of those four little initials WWJD? Or if you’d prefer WWGD?

If you come to the conclusion that God would jump up and down, get his panties in a bunch, and tear down that billboard or slam those who put it up…then you follow a different God than I read about in the bible.

Honestly people, how does what can only be described, based on numbers, as a fringe movement in the Anglican church effect your faith, your life, your relationship with your God…or anything else in your life?

Enjoy the season, love you neighbour, don’t be afraid of people trying purposely to generate controversial conversation, love your God and chill-lax.

Russell Brand and the Westboro Baptist Church

Russell Brand recently had the Westboro Baptist Church as his guests. If you don’t know who they are then you should check out the Louis Theroux documentaries The Most Hated Family in America and the follow up America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis.

Check out Russell’s interaction with them…

It reminded me of the time I interviewed Shirley Phelps Roper, one of the heads at the church, about their beliefs and life in general.

Any thoughts about their theology?

Pastor Stands up for Gay Rights in America

A Pastor recently in America used a clever ‘ruse’ to get a point across about the churches attitude towards ‘social issues’ over the ages.

These arguments have been used to keep the vote from women, slaves, to stop racial integration, to fight to make homosexuality legal, to stop Same Sex Marriage and the list goes on.

One wonders if in 50 years from now you’ll hear a clever Pastor using quotes from religious people today fighting to keep marriage heterosexual, replacing then with their social battle, and again use exactly the same arguments.