Thursday, February 17, 2011

an e-mail from Brandon, and my reply

Wow, this is exhausting.  I've said the same things over and over, and here is the latest effort from a guy named Brandon, who wrote to me.  My reply to him follows, but I simply don't have the time or energy to dialogue with him. 

From: brandon

Date: Friday, February 11, 2011, 8:31 PM

Hello Carol,

My name is Brandon ********, I live in **************** and now
serve as a pastor at a little church.

I can't shake the burden I have for your husband.  I'm sure
you've gotten many letters that may be similar to this, however
I am sharing this with you in love.

My heart breaks for you first of all and your family.
My dad left my mom after being married 23 years,  it was
the hardest thing I ever went through in my life.  As an
8th grader to hear my mom lay her head on her pillow at night.
Many times I was the one who went in to try to console her.

I Know you must have dealt with some of that in the last 5 years,
have you not?

I was preparing a message for valentines day and considered singing
with my wife the song.  Let's begin again.

And then all the thoughts about Ray started burdening me again.

I would like to start a dialogue with you , if you would be willing
to talk between you and I.

I really have a burden that Ray has believed a lie from the father of lies.  How could it ever be God's will for Him to leave his wife and family and embrace and now endorse a lifestyle that is clearly frowned upon in scripture.

As you know, we live in a culture that wants to excuse sin as a disease or even a genetic inhereted state of being.

So let's follow that reasoning.  Let's say I've wrestled with pornography and know it's a sin to look at another woman lustfully,
instead of doing what scripture says and putting to death the misdeeds of my body, I begin to entertain the idea that pornography is ok, all of the men's magazines say it's ok, the culture says it's okay, and my lustful sinful heart says it's ok,  then I begin to believe the lie that it's okay, and instead of fight the good fight, I say, Oh I shouldn't fight this, I feel so inclined to it and it feels so natural and good, I begin to believe satan's lie that adultery (looking at a woman to lust after her is okay.  And instead of repenting and conforming myself to God's word, I begin to conform God's word to my own sinful desires.

I'm afraid that's what Ray has done.  He has believed a lie from satan, designed to render him ineffective and ruin his ministry to the Christian church.

And if you are okay now with His lifestyle, you also have believed the lie.

Are you okay with his lifestyle?  do you see it as sin or a state he just had to yield to.

The Bible says homosexuals and any unrepentant sinner, will not inherit the kingdom of God, does that trouble you.   

7 Therefore, it is already a total defeat for you that you have lawsuits against one another. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you act unjustly and cheat—and this to brothers! 9 Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, 10 thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:7-11 (HCSB)

I struggle with sinful lustful thoughts sometimes,  but that doesn't mean that I should yield to them and just admit that I have a drawing to these things, so I am coming out as a sinner and it's okay now, everyone says it's ok.  What a lie.

My heart breaks for you and Ray and your family.  I would be willing to fast and pray for Ray, that God may grant Him a repentant heart.

What are your thoughts on these matters?

Seeking His Face,

and my reply...

Hi Brandon,

Thanks for writing a kindhearted e-mail.  Yes, I've received many like yours, and I can tell you mean no disrespect.  Perhaps because you didn't hear from me right away you assumed I was avoiding you.  That wasn't it, but rather because I was out of town visiting a new grandbaby.  Your e-mail just was WAY down the list and I just now have seen it. 

I've heard your comparison of being gay to all kinds of sins, and I don't consider it a fair comparison.  I rather see sexual orientation as one of many characteristics that make up one's being.  These are characteristics that one doesn't decide upon - much like the color of one's eyes, or whether you are right- or left-handed. 

It is up to each person to determine how he or she will live one's life, that being with or without integrity.  Ray has always lived with integrity, except he hid from me his true sexual orientation for the first 30+ years of my knowing him.  He tried to be someone that nearly killed him, and I know he is now honest, both with himself and with me. 

People such as yourself think you have an answer, but you do not.  I don't say that flippantly or without thoughtful consideration.  It's not what you assume in comparing sexual orientation to lust or porn - although both straight and gay men use this for their own desires. 

I'm pretty sure you present as a straight male, and I assume that you have sexual relations with a wife of your choice.  Great for you. I won't even venture a guess on whether or not you were both virgins when you married.  Perhaps (or perhaps not) you were married prior to your existing marriage.  One way or the other, you have loved and had relations with a woman.  But can you tell me this?  Just when did you decide to be attracted to girls?  

Not one thing of what I think will probably change your mind.  I can guarantee you that Ray fasted over this, and his simple prayer every day of his life was that his orientation would change.  He did not live a gay life, nor did he get seduced by porn.  That was not our life.  It was not a change that overcame him, or a lie that took over.  It was that he could no longer live a lie, and that he had to come clean with the truth: he is gay. 

I don't wish to speak for only Ray.  I speak for hundreds for whom I've heard their stories.  And if God condemns these folks for being who they ARE, then I don't intend to hear from the ones who won't listen to the very people who have already prayed, fasted and bruised their knees begging God to change something that is inherent.  Considering this, I don't think we have a discussion. 

I respectfully decline your wish for further correspondence.

Carol B.


Matt Algren said...

You are so much kinder than I am about people who "have a burden" to "open a dialogue" "in love."

Ugh. You must get a lot of these. Try not to let them get you down.

Have you thought about putting together a form email so that when you decide to respond you don't have to go through it over and over?

Bryan said...

Well done, Carol. Your grace and strength are example-setting. :) God bless you and Ray both!

Tavdy said...

The following passage was highlighted to me recently on a Christian forum, during a discussion about grace. I believe it applies here (emphasis mine):

"Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.


Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean."

(Romans 14 vs. 1-6, 13-14 NIV)

Carol said...

Matt - Yes, I keep meaning to make a "standard" reply letter. Just haven't done it. (And yes, I get a few a week, and I also get some wonderfully supportive ones.) My first thought is to blow off the ones who have yet to see the light, then I consider that I once thought like they do, and I want to simply and tactfully, and most of all gracefully, let them know I will disagree but not belabor the issue. Your suggestion is a good reminder for me to make a form letter. Thanks, Matt.

Tim Morris said...

I think the best part about this is you don't desire a dialog with this guy.
Live on!
All of us as straight allies should speak out for LGBT friends and family but we cannot convert everyone we meet.
I backed off after having two sets of parents of gay sons refuse to accept the orientation of their children. The kids themselves don't even talk about it. They just want to live and move on.
If they can you can, I can. That doesn't mean no voice but it does mean grandchildren, family and personal interests can have their proper place as well.
You deserve your life too.

Chris Andrews said...

I am burdened for people who are not loving enough to leave what they don't understand alone. It is so true that no one DECIDES their sexual orientation. That is the BIGGEST lie of all...Carol - I admire and respect you so much for the loving, yet honest way you deal with this most complex issue. As a straight, married, middle-aged woman, I support and defend your stand. Much love to you.

Carol said...

Thanks for your input, Chris. It's so appreciated.

Shel said...

I would be so tempted to tell this man to take his narrow-minded misinterpretation of the Bible and shove it. You, however, quite eloquently stated your point and refused to get sucked into his "dialogue."

One day, some day, I pray we'll have a world where all people understand that being gay is not a choice.

jvzdutch said...

Am I the only one who is bothered by his lack of proper grammar?! This man spends his livelihood speaking, teaching and writing, and he can't even punctuate a sentence properly! (I'm a pastor who values proper grammar).

All that aside though, I think one's view hinges entirely on whether or not you believe someone "decides" to be gay or not. And Carol, you answered that argument perfectly. Those who are gay don't choose to be so. Why would they choose a life that will very likely involve turmoil, struggle, and rejection? Saying that one chooses their sexual orientation is the equivalent to saying that I chose my disability. Ugh.

Carol said...

You think the grammar bothered me? Not nearly as much as his further reply (via e-mail) where he gets graphic about sex acts. I was offended, and can't understand why anyone would put forth such crude descriptions for a fellow christian.

"Sir" said...

A good response but I'm with Matt and Chris.

Blessings on you.

Trista Winstead said...

Oh boy. Good grief! You are stronger than me to respond so kindly to these same messages over and over. God bless you for that! And it helps give me an idea of how to respond too since I've been getting those lately too. Although I don't think I can keep my patience as you have done. Kudos to YOU!!

Anonymous said...

If you do decide to have a standard email response for such intrusive folks, you may want to include something like this:

"Since you have taken it upon yourself to judge my former marriage, my motivation and the motivation of my former spouse, the state of our souls, the quality of our faith, our truthfulness and our commitment to the lordship of Jesus Christ, perhaps you would be willing to share publicly how it is you ignore the biblical admonition to "judge not lest you be judged."

Anonymous said...

Well done, Carol.

I was in a similar situation as Ray. My ex-wife was less than accepting but that doesn't bother me all that much. It was quite a while ago now.

A lot of these disagreements seem to be caused by people's view of "the truth".

Like you, I think there is no point trying to argue over what is the truth or not. No one knows. But the more important thing is - live and let live and leave the judgement to one who cuts through the crap and sees the heart.

I envy Ray for having such a wonderful companion for many years.

Mike said...

"Do not be deceived... no... greedy people.. will inherit God’s kingdom" 1 Cor 6:7-11

It always gets me that this scripture is quoted. How many of us in the West can say we have not been or indeed are continually greedy. Our culture is materialistic. If this scripture will exclude gay people from the Kingdom then it also excludes many in the church who love stuff too much.

We must read scripture in the light of God's love and the cross, being slow to judge others but quick to judge ourselves.

SC said...

I loved your response to that email, Carol.

God amazes me through you.

I'm so glad I don't have to deal with letters from people I've never met (though we may be siblings in Jesus), inviting me to re-wrestle with such a personal issue, that was so hard to go through the first (million!) times: what I think about my gay ex-spouse's orientation and/or "lifestyle choices".

At most I have to deal with occasional emails from close friends with whom I disagree.

Grace, Peace, and Love in Christ,

Scott C.

Ashley said...

What I think it so sad about so many of these emails is how misinformed people are about what they believe to be so "biblically clear" Every time someone says that I just think, wow, they don't realize that they are speaking with a great deal of ignorance right now about something they may have never even actually studied in the bible! Thank you so much for sharing, as an ally I am so thankful for the community you create through your writing.

RachelH said...

I so admire that you allow your light to shine through your choice of words and love for others. There is so much in the Bible about loving our neighbor, loving one another, and treating others the way we want to be treated. Thank you for reminding the world that these are the greatest commandments. I have no read all of your posts, but I have read enough to know that your light shines brightly. You give hope to people who are often condemned by others. We all need to focus on not casting stones or picking splinters out of others eyes while we have 2x4s in ours.


And just in case you are wondering, my family is a God-centered Christian family living in the suburbs in the South with a husband, wife, 2 kids and a dog. Of course that doesn't matter, but as long as we are breaking stereotypes....let's break that one too!

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol,

Hope all is well for you and yours, and congratulations on your new grand-baby.

In The Catholic Church we receive Christ's body, soul, blood, and divinity in The Holy Eucharist. We fully embrace Him and He fully embraces us in a special and literal way in that sacrament.

I believe that this is the missing piece in the puzzle of many peoples' lives, even Christians' lives. They crave for more and more of Christ; but don't know that they can reach Him is this tangible and sacramental way, and not just in a spiritual relationship.


ajpolarbear said...

I just read this posting... you expressed yourself very elegantly. One very important thing I would have told this man is that being gay means that two people of the same sex can have not only physical attraction (lust) toward one another, but a desire and capacity to LOVE one another in a lifelong, committed, monogamous relationship, with God at the center.

Lust is sinful, and we are all tempted and tested.

A lot of people think of sexual orientation as a physical, fleshly life "style" or choice, and (very ignorantly, I'm afraid to say) completely miss the point that one man or woman can love another of their same sex deeply, and EMOTIONALLY.

To reduce homosexuality, being gay, or sexual orientation to an act of lust is so very sad. Many gay people seek lust over love (although I'd say in larger percentages) just like some straight people do. It is a trait of the gay community I've never stood BEHIND, that's for certain.

We all need to love and to allow ourselves to be loved - that's what makes us all human. I know you already know all this, Carol. Not sure Mr. Man knows this. It'd give him something else to think about besides the fact that he didn't choose his eye color just like he didn't choose his sexuality.

Being gay is about love between two people of the same sex and,

God IS Love.

Thanks for being a voice, Carol.

Todd said...

I worked with Ray several years ago and can tell you he's a man of integrity and strong faith. I have never questioned his ministry for one second and the lyrics he wrote/writes are truth. I support Ray and his decision to live in truth in his life. I cannot imagine the personal hell he went through for many years..but every step of the way maintained being a faithful husband and father. That is integrity at it's finest.

Carol, I deeply respect you. I am amazed of your strength for your family and to support what you believe in your heart is right. I wish you well as you continue on living life and loving on your grandchildren. I also wish Ray well..I still think highly of him. I try to live life as I get older reminding myself of the woman at the well and the way Jesus treated her. There was no hate-rid in His heart. What an example that as Christians we often blow in judgement. I just can't believe that God, who inspired Ray in his ministry would of used him all those years to help change thousands of lives if He planned on judging him later in life. God knows every hair on our head and I believe He knows well before we do on what orientation we will choose in life. Thank goodness in eternity the ignorant judgement of humans will mean nothing. Blessings to you!