Friday, November 20, 2009

the Boltz family is no different (well, just a little) - edited version

(This post needed to be removed, since it was posted while I was deluded. My kids were right, and I needed to back out of what I posted.)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

One more note:

This weekend I am attending the Anti-Heterosexism Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Sponsored by several activist groups (Soulforce, Truth Wins Out, National Black Justice Coalition, Box Turtle Bulletin, Beyond Ex-gay, and Equality Florida,), I am pleased to be getting together with friends and fellow outspoken individuals who are learning more about how to make a difference in our families, places of work and livelihood, as well as our communities at large. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, come out to West Palm Beach for this event! We are working to do the following:

• challenge heterosexist attitudes that exist on personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels.
• speak out publicly against the dangers of reparative therapy, ex-gay ministries, and other "conversion" efforts.
• build community to advocate for LGBTQ people and support them in leading successful, happy, and productive lives.

There is still time! Register at the event if necessary! Be there to enjoy the speakers and the community that is working to come closer to to ending heterosexism.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Questions from "Anonymous" named Justin: Scriptural justification, and would I support gays if it wasn't for Ray?

From Justin, I was asked a couple of questions, which I have tried to answer.

1) How do you justify homosexuality in scripture?

Where to start? Your question assumes that one needs to justify being gay. You are asking me, I assume, from a legalistic or fundamentalist viewpoint that assumes that the Christian Bible has answers to all questions. Although I believe that the Bible can help us in all situations, it is not a sex manual nor a science book. When we watch programs on the Discovery Channel, we learn things that have been discovered, among other things, about plants, animals, health, and humans. Watching the History Channel gives us perspectives that range from archaeology to recent history - and neither of these resources give answers to all the information available to us, and the vast knowledge available continues to grow.

The FACT is that somewhat less than 10% of the population identifies themselves as gay/bisexual/transgender. There is no need or obligation to justify this existence. You don’t have to justify other variations in human performance, like being a gifted gymnast or athlete. In the same way, there appear to be creative and artistic abilities shown among gay people, and the public gets the benefit of this. We don’t reject the art because of someone’s sexual orientation, neither do we justify the quality of art in any way because of whether or not someone is gay or straight.

On the other hand, we have variations that we consider handicaps, illnesses, and disease. While I in no way liken these to being gay, the variations in our society show value in the diversity of the human condition. In the same way, I don’t feel the need to justify the reality that some giftedness is borne out of tragedy, as when a special needs child shows affection and love in ways that are inexplicable and valued. While there may be spiritual principles evident in those values, it is not specifically a “scriptural” justification of the condition.

In the current times it isn’t necessary to justify one’s near- or far-sightedness, or whether one writes with the right or left hand. In the Bible, lefties were forbidden. As recently as when I was a child, teachers tried to eliminate left-handedness in other kids who preferred to write with their left hand. Right-handedness was insisted upon! Variation was discouraged and sometimes punished. In the same regard, whether someone is gay or straight, and whether they are self-accepting or not, they remain with the orientation that they are born with. Yes, there are bisexuals, too, and some people are more fluid in their sexual preferences. But with the acceptance of many “givens” that have no relationship to sin, morality, or one’s goodness or badness, we have learned to accept difference in the make-up of individuals. This perspective helped me to understand part of the truth about what it means to have something a “given” about oneself, that you don’t choose, and that doesn’t really change.

With that tangent being expressed, I will go back to your original question. What about the Bible? What verses do I use to “justify” homosexuality. Most of all, I use this one:
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35 from "The Message" version of The Bible.
I see that verse as one of the most important reasons to love ALL people - to at least TRY to follow the commands of Christ.

#1 - I usually refer those who are looking for Biblical answers to the booklet published by Soulforce, written by Mel White:

I often say that I am not a theologian, and that I don’t want debate. I do accept people who in this day and age say, “I’m gay. I didn’t choose to be a minority. I’ve tried and done everything there is to be straight, but I’m still gay.” And from the love I’ve known through my former husband as well as friends that I’ve met, I believe them. How tragic is it to try throughout one’s life to be someone you’re not destined to be? And how tragic is it that our society tries to inflict the heterosexist majority on those for whom this is impossible?

#2 - I believe firmly that in Bible times there have been romantically-linked couples whose stories are recorded. These people are right before our eyes, but our culture has refused to recognize or give credence to their sexual orientations. These stories are shown in 1 Samuel 18, telling that Jonathan and David were more than the “close friends,” that we were taught in Sunday School. Whether you choose to accept this is up to you, but I see evidence of this love “greater than love for women” as romantic and committed. An MCC minister has written a book referencing these relationships in the following: The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner.

If you wish to read further, I recommend his book.

Now for your 2nd question: Would you have ever supported homosexuals if Ray had never came out?

I wrote to a facebook friend of a friend who asked me the same question, and I’ll copy it here:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soulforce Regrets to Announce the Resignation of its Executive Director

The following e-mail announcement was made yesterday, November 10, 2009. I will miss Jeff Lutes as the executive director of Soulforce, and welcome the interim (and acting executive director) successor. That person is Bill Carpenter, who has a long history with Soulforce and equal rights activism among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer/Questioning folk.

I want to thank Jeff publicly for being an example of love, faith, and family, as he has worked to share with the religious people the truth about being gay and Christian. His leadership and generous live is obvious, and I commend him for all that he's done.

Many heartfelt thanks to Jeff for his service to Soulforce.

Soulforce Regrets to Announce the Resignation of Our Executive Director

Brief Video of Jeff Lutes

A Message from Soulforce Co-Founder Mel White:

Soulforce regrets to announce the resignation of our Executive Director, Jeff Lutes, after nearly four years of dedicated service. Jeff has chosen at this time to return to his family counseling practice in Austin, Texas, and to spend more quality time with his husband, Gary Stein, and their three young children, Niko, Trei, and Jole'. You may stay in touch with Jeff at

The Soulforce board of directors has appointed Bill Carpenter, who has served as Director of National Actions for many years, as Interim Executive Director. Bill will work with Soulforce staff to continue operations of the organization, including the upcoming Equality Ride in early 2010. Bill has a long history of service to Soulforce, since our very first action in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1999, and I'm grateful to him for taking this role at an important time in Soulforce history. I believe he is uniquely qualified to serve as Interim Executive Director while we undertake a nationwide search for the next Executive Director of Soulforce.

In January 2006, Jeff succeeded me as Executive Director of Soulforce. We are grateful for all he has accomplished in his time as Soulforce Executive Director. Here are a few examples:

* Organized nonviolent direct actions in 2005 and 2006 outside the world headquarters of Focus on the Family. Those protests clearly demonstrated the tragic consequences of James Dobson and his antigay rhetoric and are featured in the films For The Bible Tells Me So and SoleJourney, both distributed by First Run Features.
* Originated the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in 2007 which exposed the misinformation campaign of Exodus International and spoke clearly to the damage being done by its ex-gay ministries across the country. The conference brought 200 survivors of ex-gay ministries together from all around the world for healing and empowerment. This much needed event received coverage on NPR and media outlets across the country, including CNN's Paula Zahn.
* Created The American Family Outing in 2008 which took dozens of LGBT couples and their children to dialogue with mega-church leaders Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Bill Hybels, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Bishop Eddie Long.
* Originated Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights which created rallies and vigils in 2007 and 2008 by heterosexual allies in 38 cities in 28 different states across the country.
* Wrote the popular Soulforce booklets What the Science Says - And Doesn't Say - About Homosexuality, and A False Focus on My Family.
* Produced Dear Dr. Dobson: An Open Letter Video , the DVD that challenges the antigay rhetoric of James Dobson and warns of its tragic consequences in the lives of LGBT people, their friends and families.
* Managed Soulforce during the birth of our young adults program, Soulforce Q, and the first three Equality Rides.
* Strengthened the reputation of Soulforce through countless print, radio and television interviews and by speaking at dozens of churches, universities and rallies around the country.

Jeff Lutes has led Soulforce through challenging times and we are grateful. Jeff will continue to write and speak powerfully about the role of relentless nonviolent resistance in our struggle against religion-based oppression. Again, we thank Jeff for his role in strengthening Soulforce and for modeling in his own life what it means to be a man of faith committed to doing justice on behalf of all those who suffer religion-based oppression.

- Mel White, Soulforce Co-Founder
November, 2009

Brief Video of Jeff Lutes