Friday, May 04, 2007

NewsTalk Transcript: Second Part

The first part of the transcript of NewsTalk got them up to the commercial break. Now they take some calls. The first caller made it onto the half-hour segment that was shown after the original. but most of this only appeared on the live version of the show.

As before, BD=Bruce DePuyt, the show's host; DF=David Fishback, TTF member and former chair of the citizens advisory committee that evaluated the 2004 curriculum; JG=John Garza, president of the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum who oppose the curriculum.

Ebony calls in, from Virginia:
BD: To the phones we go. Line 1 first. Ebony in Vienna, Hi. Welcome to Newstalk. Go ahead.

Ebony: Hi! Thanks for taking my call.

BD: Indeed.

Ebony: I just have actually two points or comments and that is firstly, I'd like to applaud the efforts of Mr. Fishback and his trying to get this program underway because I believe it is so important. And it's incumbent upon our schools to, to, to not forget what is most important and that is the education of children in the public schools. Now whether or not we believe that homosexuality is right or wrong, that's just a small part of it. There are more things about sexuality other than preference and it's important that we talk about these things and open the door to tolerance.


Ebony: And the other thing is, is that don't forget there are a lot of gay teens who are in these public schools who need a way to talk or express themselves who might not have any other way to do so. And I mean you might be saving lives by doing that. And I can attest to that because I went to a school where we had a person that came in, you signed up, and you were able to go to a sex ed sort of a class and there is where we were able to talk about issues, it was private and it really, it allowed me...

BD: All right

Ebony: actually come out and it was a very positive thing so...

Along through here, you can see that DePuyt is trying to find a good place to switch back to the live guests. He finally just interrupts her.
BD: Let me pick up on that. And thanks for your candor and for raising a bit of your own personal experience. John, given what we know about suicide in gay teenagers, is it possible that to the extent that there are clearly a wide spectrum of views and that reasonable people will disagree and that everybody's viewpoint is kind of, you know, valid at some lever or another, that given the feelings of isolation, alienation, depression that gay teenagers have, that really it might be almost lifesaving to err on the side of - to use your word from before - acceptance? Tell kids that, you know, maybe you have different sexual feelings than your peers but don't kill yourself over it. Things will, you know, life will go on and just kind of hang tough. I mean these curriculum issues might actually be lifesaving if you think of it in the caller's context.

JG: Yeah. I believe that all people are created in God's image and that we should love and appreciate everyone no matter what their orientation is. But trying to answer that question, I have polled myself personally about 700 or 800 students both in MCPS today and those who recently graduated and I asked this question. "Who is more likely to suffer uh discrimination, persecution, uh hurtfulness at the Montgomery County public schools, a Christian who want to read their Bible or a gay or lesbian student?" And almost overwhelmingly everyone said uh "the Christian who want to read their Bible. That person is going to get just abused in our schools. Gays are not abused in Montgomery County schools." That's what 800 students have told me.

DF: OK, I'd just like to respond to that.

BD: [unintelligible]

DF: Number one, if there is religious discrimination then that should be dealt with. That's not an excuse to have discrimination against gay people. But let me give you one example about my own son who is now 28 years old and doing wonderfully. He came out to us half way through college. It was a very, very difficult process for him to. Once he did, it was like a weight was lifted from him and for the first time in his life, even though he had been very accomplished all through school, he was really truly happy. He told us that if when he was in middle school in the health ed classes, someone had just said, "You know what? People who are gay, they're not sick," it would have lifted a cloud that would have changed his life enormously for the better. And I think of how much agony he went through when - having everything going for him - you know, two loving parents, and so accomplished, what must happen with a child who doesn't have those supports who has this feeling that "there's something wrong with me."

Listen, where do you suppose John Garza found time to find out what eight hundred students think? The only way I can picture that is if he got access to some church group. That is not what you'd call a representative sample, plus the characteristics of the question setting strongly influence the kind of answers you'll get. People know what they're supposed to say.

I see people every day on the Metro reading their Bibles, and I have never once seen anyone complain or even make a disapproving facial expression. This self-pitying stuff is ridiculous, and the rest of us should never play along with it.

David Fishback does something interesting here, which is that he personalizes the issue. It's one thing to get paranoid about The Gay Agenda, this great conspiracy to impose an evil regime on the world. It's a whole different thing when you're talking about somebody's kid, a real person who has had to deal with real feelings. A real person in agony (which, by the way, is a good biblical word that should carry lots of implications for the Christians listening).
BD: Two voices from the debate over human sexuality in the schools. Talking with David Fishback and John Garza. We'll take a break and then we'll come back with more Newstalk....

...Let me reintroduce our guests. David Fishback is with a group called John Garza is with a group called Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum. These two groups have been going at it, hammer and tongs, pretty much civil here on the show and we appreciate a good discussion here on the program but the debate as you know in Montgomery County has been pretty intense and it continues to this day.

We're going to go to the phones, in fact let's pick up on Line Two. Remind me John to ask you about the appeal that your group still has pending - we to get to that. But Stephanie in Gaithersburg, Line Two. You've been holding. Thanks for you patience and go ahead please with your point or your question.

So now we have another caller, this one is Stephanie.
Stephanie: Thank you very much for talking my call. First of all I want to commend Mr. Fishback. I know he's put in untold hours of work on this for our community. I really appreciate it. I think that Montgomery County should be proud that we are about to embark on an enlightened sex education for our children and I think we should be proud to be in the forefront of that.

Mr. Garza, a few minutes ago I thought I heard you say something like everyone should be accepted for who they are and I think you even used the word "love" and I think that's a worth thing to be teaching our children. It goes way beyond your narrow definition of "tolerance" that you read from the dictionary. Also, I want to say that I personally know several gay teens who are routinely harassed in their schools. One boy I know who has the worthy goal of trying to be the first child in his family to go to college, but his education is continually interrupted, he's afraid to go to school often, and doesn't get much help from the school. I think that you're saying that, you know, gay kids are very well received in Montgomery County Public Schools is simply not true.

Ooh, well, that was a pretty dumb thing for him to have said: "Gays are not abused in Montgomery County schools."

She calls him out on that. But the host gets the last laugh.
BD: Stephanie, thank you. Mr. Garza, did you want to respond?

JG: Ah yeah. I mean regarding the, I think she mentioned she didn't like the dictionary definition of tolerance. You know, we believe that if a child gossips or lies or does something like that, we don't want the, we don't want to use the definition of tolerance that the County has because that means we have to accept them. So we like the dictionary definition because it says that, you know, you might put up with that but you're going to disagree with it in a respectful fashion so that would be my position. Now if she knows a gay child that's being abused in the schools, I'm just terrified to hear that because I know that anyone listening on both sides would be very much against that. That child needs to be taken care of. Someone needs to get involved and straighten that out right away. My point was that if you look at the statistics, gays in the United States make more money, they live in nicer houses, they go to better restaurants, they take better vacations, they... If you measure success by money and homes and cars and things, they're sort of at the top of the heap.

BD: Well, you know I couldn't help but notice that on your jacket lapel it says, "Ex-gay is OK." Given the lifestyle indicators if you will that you just quoted, perhaps the ex-gays have made a mistake and should retreat.


They're not laughing with you, John.

It will get a little contentious through here now.
JG: Well, I think though that a lot of what happens with the gay lifestyle also causes a lot of depression and health problems. Gay men in particular shorten their lifespan by 8-10 years, there's much higher rampancy of drug use, STDs, things like that, in the gay community. So you may have a more successful lifestyle but you may have a less healthy lifestyle so it goes both ways.

DF: The definition of a successful life is being happy, having people who love you who you love, and to the extent that, and historically, I know certainly in the past this has been true, that there are higher rates of depression and suicide among gay people. It's because they weren't accepted by society, because they had to hide, because they could not be who they are. What we, what all parents want for their children, and we're talking about our children here, is that they live happy lives with people who love them and people they can love. Now if Mr. Garza finds it distasteful that some people who happen to be born homosexual would live such lives and not be hypocrites, and not hide, that's Mr. Garza's prerogative. But that viewpoint, that approach should not be imposed upon our public schools by the kinds of lawsuits they're bringing.

I'm glad he made this point. Again, the conspiracy theories about The Homosexual Agenda only work if there's no face, you can't be afraid of real gay people, because they're just people.

Garza doesn't like this now:
JG: That's not my view.

DF: Good.

JG: I wish you wouldn't misstate my view. You might want to ask me my view and not tell it.

DF: You're here to explain why I'm misstating it.

JG: I'd be happy to tell you my view if you'd ask me.

DF: Good, good.

JG: My view is not that I want to tell someone how to live. Absolutely not. I just don't want them to tell me how to live.

BD: How would anything in the curriculum do that?

JG: Well..

BD: Either the proposed the curriculum today.

JG: As I mentioned, if you actually read the curriculum, a child who goes to any mainstream church and is taught that homosexual conduct, not the person. All people are equal. All people are equal. Ideas are not equal. Now Montgomery County teaches the opposite. All ideas are equal and some people like me are not as equal as others like Mr. Fishback.

BD: When you say "telling me how to...." Just now you used the phrase "telling me how to live."

JG: Right.

BD: How are we telling our children in the curriculum how to live?

JG: We take a definition of tolerance that's never existed before and we tell them that this is that tolerance is. I suggest that we use the dictionary definition that's been around for hundreds of years, that says that you can disagree respectfully with someone's conduct and not be chastised. For exa....There's things in this curriculum...

At this point, Garza has a problem. He doesn't really have anything to say, there's no defense here. Because the curriculum does not say anything about "homosexual conduct," or say that he or anybody else is "not as equal as others."

He wants to say that the curriculum tells people how to live, but he knows that he himself has brought the curriculum materials with him, and it would be just terrible if either David Fishback or the host said, "Please, show us where it says that."
BD: Does the curriculum, does the curriculum endorse going after people who've made critical comments about gays?

JG: Yes, it does. It even gives you a form to fill out to file a complaint against the child who might make a critical comment.

DF: Excuse me. That's part of already established rules in the County against discrimination against people.

JG: Well, I know.

Woops. Turns out the school district has rules about harassment and bullying. Well, actually, the state has laws about that. And there are formal ways to report incidents. Garza's a lawyer, he shouldn't really be opposed to someone obeying the law.
DF: Do you have a problem with the anti-discrimination rules that the County has with respect to not discriminating against people who happen to be gay?

JG: Yeah. I mean if you take this curriculum. If I were to read the Bible in my church on Sunday I could be charged with sexual harassment if there happened to be a student there who heard me saying these things. They have a form for the student to fill out to file a charge against another student. That is forcing their lifestyle on the other students. We want everyone to have a equal education, an equal lifestyle. We don't want to tell you how to live but don't tell us how to live.

DF: Mr. Garza. You haven't explained how this tells you how to live, particularly since no child can take this curriculum unless their parents affirmatively choose to have them take it.

JG: Now this curriculum tells the student that hears someone laugh at a gay joke, for example, to file a complaint against that student under the non-discrimination thing.

Oddly, this seems to really bother him, that there is a formal, legal way to file a harassment complaint.

OK, it's going to take a weird turn here...
BD: So you think gay jokes are good and fine?

JG: No, I think they're terrible. OK. I'm a minority person myself.

BD: It sounds like you're trying to have it both ways a little bit.

JG: No, what I'm saying is, is that this is a program that encourages filing complaints against other students...

DF: It encourages...

JG: ...for very minor infractions.

DF: Excuse me. It encourages people to follow the rules we have in our schools to prevent discrimination. Anything that would encourage people not to remain quiet when people are harassed, when people are slandered, when hurtful things are done to people, is a good thing.

JG: Let me, let me, can I ask you a question Mr. Fishback?

DF: Sure. Absolutely.

JG: If I were to read Leviticus 18, Chapter 21 would you consider that a sexual, a a harassment?

DF: What do you mean, "read it?"

JG: Well,

DF: ...stand up in the middle of English class and decide do you want me to read that now? Or do you mean read that in the cafeteria?


JG: No, read that in the cafeteria.

DF: If someone want to read Leviticus in the cafeteria on their own time during lunch, that is perfectly fine. If they want to go on and read the part of Leviticus that says that parents have the right to execute their disobedient children, they have a right to do that too, which is also in the same part of Leviticus.

JG: Well, it's not actually in that part.

DF: Well, actually it is. I've read it.

JG: I've read it too, many more times than you.

DF: You don't know that.

JG: Let me ask you this then. If I were to mention to a student that my church believes that homosexuality is a sin, would that be sexual harassment?

DF: No! Just as if a child were to respond, "Well, the church I go to or the synagogue I go to teaches that homosexuality is just another way to be," and that's fine. That also would not be a religious attack on them.

JG: Now the definition of harassment is "any kind of repeated attention that is not wanted." So to me that's pretty open that someone can file charges against another child.

DF: Well what... Please give an example. What kind of thing would be unwanted attention?

BD: We've got 30 seconds left.

JG: You know, that's a good question. You know, you need to tell. You wrote the curriculum.

DF: I didn't write it.

BD: We're down to 20 seconds.

DF: I didn't write the discrimination rules. The discrimination rules speak about constant harassment of people and harassment, you know what? Potter Stewart was right; you know it when you see it.

JG: It says any kind of...

Now, it appears that the CRC has a bigger problem than the new curriculum. You have seen how the Family Blah Blah groups are freaking out over the new federal hate-crimes law. It appears that John Garza would like to smear the local school district with that, too. But it doesn't make any sense. Every school district in the country has some kind of rules about bullying and harassment. The state has laws about it. The state Superintendent of Schools said she believes there is a real problem with bullying and harassment, which was a big reason she ruled against the CRC in allowing the pilot testing to go forward.

So this is a bigger can of worms than these five new classes. They tell students how to follow the law, and the CRC objects to that. Really, it becomes clear in this discussion, they object to the law itself. No sense trying to fight that at this level.
BD: John in the 20 seconds we have left just tell me right quick what's coming in terms of appeal? Do you guys continue to appeal?

JG: Yeah we're appealing this to the State Board of Education. We're waiting for them to make a decision on that, and then we'll see what happens next.

BD: And we hope you'll both come back. We didn't even get to abstinence, which has kind of taken it on the chin. The condom demonstration, that's a subject for another day.

JG: Well you'll have to have us back.

BD: I will do it


BD: ....frank civilized conversation. Thanks to both of you for your time.

JG: I'm glad to be here with my friend, David.

BD: Great having you both. We'll pause here....

A lot came out in these discussions, on both sides. I appreciate David Fishback's ability to focus and stay on track, and his ability to respond rationally and calmly to some of the unexpected things that came out of John Garza's mouth.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

JG: Well, it's not actually in that part.

DF: Well, actually it is. I've read it.

JG: I've read it too, many more times than you.

DF: You don't know that

Is this the best (JG)Garza can do?

You know he should keep talking as people are really getting a good laugh at CRC now and their new president which is not much of an improvement over the old one.

David as usual did a great job.
Thank you David! You put Garza to shame.


May 04, 2007 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BD: Does the curriculum, does the curriculum endorse going after people who've made critical comments about gays?

JG: Yes, it does. It even gives you a form to fill out to file a complaint against the child who might make a critical comment.

Attorney Garza fails to mention that the curriculum gives students "a form to fill out to file a complaint against the child who might make a criticial comment" about someone's religious "beliefs" as well as someone's "sexual orientation."

MCPS's nondiscrimination policy, which has been in effect since May 14, 1996, states:

To affirm the Board of Education's position that it regards all acts of hate/violence and illegal discrimination to be unacceptable and intolerable and in particular those based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, marital status, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, physical characteristics, or disability

The new eighth grade health class that covers stereotyping, tolerance, and the MCPS nondiscrimination rules states:

• People sometimes stereotype others based on differences in sexuality. “Sexuality is everything about you as male or female.” (Human Sexuality, Glencoe, 2005)

• People sometimes stereotype others based on sexual identity. Sexual identity is the way you act, your personality, and how you feel about yourself because you are a male or female (Glencoe).

• People sometimes stereotype others based on gender identity. Gender identity is your identification of yourself as a man or a woman, based on the gender you feel to be inside (Holt).

• People sometimes stereotype others based on their beliefs. Just as stereotyping others based on sexuality is not an acceptable behavior, stereotyping others based on personal beliefs also is not acceptable.

Mr. Garza's comment is just more typical half-truth CRC spin.

May 04, 2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

That's an interesting point, Aunt Bea. The exact same policy that protects discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which is innate, also protects against discrimination based on religion -- which is something you choose.

He ought to be very careful about what he's complaining about.


May 04, 2007 12:34 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

What kind of a citation is Leviticus 18, Chapter 21? Should it be "Chapter" and "Verse"?

May 04, 2007 1:47 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

And, btw, for you Torah mavens out there, the chapter in K'doshim which deals with male homosexuality starts off, as David pointed out, with the proscription about being pout to death for cursing your parents.

I should know -- I read all of that last week at shabbat services in my synagaogue.

May 04, 2007 1:49 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Well, and another thing, Dana, Leviticus 18:21 that Garza quotes says this: "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through [the fire] to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD," which is irrelevant to anything we're talking about.

Garza apparently meant Leviticus 18:22: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination."

Seems to me if you're going to brag about your Bible-knowledge, you ought to know a verse from a chapter, and you ought to also know what verse and chapter you're talking about.


May 04, 2007 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JimK said (about Garza)Seems to me if you're going to brag about your Bible-knowledge, you ought to know a verse from a chapter, and you ought to also know what verse and chapter you're talking about.

Especially if Garza says, "I've read it too, many more times than you."

Need anyone say more?


May 04, 2007 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"President Bush sent identical letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Thursday making it absolutely clear to the pro-abortion Democrats that he will veto any legislation aimed at weakening pro-life policies or laws.

In the letter, the president said he wanted "to make sure that there is no misunderstanding of my views on these important issues."

On a side note: Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley, are in Washington, D.C., for activities surrounding the National Day of Prayer. Gary Schneeberger, senior media director for government and public policy at Focus on the Family, who is traveling with the Dobsons, said they heard the president speak at a White House event, and also attended another gathering at The Cannon House Office Building that featured many speakers, including Dr. Chuck Swindoll. Dr. Dobson described what they're hearing as "most encouraging.""

Not if you're a TTFer.

You guys going about the citing of a scripture are truly sad. You are so insecure about your positions that you latch on to stuff like that.

"Attorney Garza fails to mention that the curriculum gives students "a form to fill out to file a complaint against the child who might make a criticial comment" about someone's religious "beliefs" as well as someone's "sexual orientation.""

Jim's right, Beatrice, this is a point well taken. MCPS is suppressively sensitive about certain topics. It shouldn't be against any rule for kids to discuss religious topics- and discussion with only positive points are fairly boring discussions.

May 04, 2007 2:29 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, please show us where there is any rule against discussing religious topics.

And while you're at it, maybe you can explain why you make up this sort of garbage instead of making real points about the topic at hand. The question is this: to you, is this better than reasoning, or just an amusing alternative?


May 04, 2007 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AB said and JK said "good point" that a complaint can filed against a student if they make a criticial comment about someone's religion. How can you have a discussion if you can't say anything that might be considered critical?

AB: "the curriculum gives students "a form to fill out to file a complaint against the child who might make a criticial comment" about someone's religious "beliefs""

JK: "That's an interesting point, Aunt Bea."

Liberal syndrome: "And while you're at it, maybe you can explain why you make up this sort of garbage instead of making real points about the topic at hand."

It's because you don't consider a real point unless it supports your bizarre view.

May 04, 2007 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AB said and JK said "good point"

I never said "good point." Please do not put words in my mouth. Why it's almost like you can't stop yourself from lying about what people say even when it's in black and white (or blue and white) right in front of your eyes.

Why do you think a discussion needs to have negativity in it to keep it from being boring? Maybe *you* need to go negative in order to stay entertained, but that doesn't mean everybody does.

Here, read the purpose of the MCPS nondiscrimination policy and then whine about it some more if you must:

To affirm the Board of Education's commitment to maintaining an environment where all students and staff members conduct themselves in a manner built on mutual respect

May 04, 2007 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(from Robert)

David is so wonderfully articulate, concise, and cool in a pressured situation. Thank you David.

Anonymous, my friend (are you really Matt Barber?),

You said, as you have many times before "Liberal syndrome". I suspect that you intend this as another form of your name-calling, although the people you are addressing probably do not consider this an insult.

I've spoken about the name-calling. In this instance it comes accross as an attempt to aggrandize yourself by belittling others. You should stop this behavior; it interrupts the discussion while at the same time demeaning yourself.

As always, reading this blog is one of the most interesting parts of my day. Thanks again, folks.


May 04, 2007 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea- not anon

Oh, Johnny's friend anon- see where Johnny says he has read a part of the Bible many more times than David- there it is-just one example of the CRC HTTness - you asked about earler. we are insecure and sad?? I thought it was pretty insecure and sad when Johnny claimed to have read it so many times more than David. And still messed up.

And Johnny's comment about reading the bible in church on Sunday out loud and being sued for sexual harassment??? How silly- that very passage as Dana said is read out loud once a year at our synagogue and probably a lot more in Johnny's sort of church. Does this man need some real work- maybe he should work with the crazy judge who is suing the cleaners for $65M

May 04, 2007 7:15 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

John Garza really highlights the dishonesty and moral bankruptcy of gay haters like himself. First he says "gays in the United States make more money, they live in nicer houses, they go to better restaurants, they take better vacations, they... If you measure success by money and homes and cars and things, they're sort of at the top of the heap.".

And then he totally contradicts himself by saying "I think though that a lot of what happens with the gay lifestyle also causes a lot of depression and health problems. Gay men in particular shorten their lifespan by 8-10 years, there's much higher rampancy of drug use, STDs, things like that, in the gay community.".

Those two visions of gays are totally incompatible with each other. If one is true the other most certainly is not. If a person is a depressed, diseased, drug user prone to early death they most certainly aren't going to be a big success in life and anyone living at the top of society is bound to be well adjusted and healthy or they wouldn't have been able to achieve that. Just goes to show that John Garza and the gay haters don't give a damn about the truth, they'll contradict themselves in a heartbeat depending on what they think best demeans gays at the moment. They couldn't make it any more apparent what immoral liars they are.

May 04, 2007 10:49 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

And this line by Garza really took the cake:

"My view is not that I want to tell someone how to live. Absolutely not. I just don't want them to tell me how to live.".

How profoundly dishonest. This guys whole life is based on telling others how to live. And no one's telling him he can't marry the one he loves or that he shouldn't have a sex life. He demands the right to push the idea that gays are sinners and that they should sign up for his bogus "exgay" program and he's claiming he doesn't want to tell others how to live?!?!! Give me a break! If he doesn't want to tell others how to live than its time for him to stop promoting this "exgay" and "gays are sinners" crap.

In his twisted mind if he can't dictate to gays how to live somehow he's supposed to be the one that's imposed on.
Oh, yeah, I really feel sorry for you John, it must be soo hard to be told you can't force others to live according to your whims, poor baby. Yeah, you should have the right to dominate and control LGBT lives, anything less would be an unreasonable imposition on you.

May 04, 2007 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote a great commenter...

Thank you Randi, that was powerful

May 05, 2007 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Randi,

As you point out, John Garza has bought hook line and sinker all of the anti-gay literature out there. No one can claim that these sorts of things are biblically based, or a matter of loving the sinner; it's just prejudice and bigotry. I wish I lived in better housing, took better vacations, made more money and went to nicer restaurants. Being gay sounds like so much fun!

PFOX on it's website has literature both encouraging "Gay-to-straight" clubs (which, as far as I know, are still just fantasy) and opposing Gay-Straight Alliances. It's like Exodus morphing into a political organization which opposes civil rights legislation.

I just don't get these people.


May 05, 2007 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Garza and I had an interesting chat following the program. He told me that, personally, he did not have any problem with how people choose to live their lives, but, to use John's words, "If God tells me to walk on the left side of the road, I walk on the left side of the road."

My response was that none of us are truly biblical literalists, since we would not, for example, countenance parents killing their disobedient children, as set forth in Leviticus.

John answered that that portion is subject to interpretation.

I responded that the same can be said of the Leviticus portion on male homosexuality, noting that rabbis have said that portion really references forced sexual relations in pagan temples in ancient Egypt.

John's answer was that he follows the New Testament, as well. And that he knows what God wants because when he prays, God speaks to him.

My response was that I believe that human beings cannot be sure of God's precise intentions. And that since we are not biblical literalists, we simply must use the common sense God has given us, and that the only sure thing we can know is the necessity of applying variants of the Golden Rule.

We both had other places to go, so the discussion did not continue.

This exchange illustrates, I think, the dilemma we face in discussing issues of sexual orientation with people who say they simply follow the word of God, regardless of what they would personally want to do or would see as just.

It is a chicken and egg thing: Do CRC types believe that homosexuality should be opposed because that is what God wants? Or do CRC types viscerally oppose homosexuality, and therefore are willing to believe that God must feel that way, too?

I would not pretend to know the answer regarding any individual unless I knew them really well.

To the extent people fall in the former category, they raise a theological, not a medical, dispute. As such, the dispute should not spill over into our public schools' health curriculum. We should follow the medical wisdom, not particular theological views.

To the extent people fall in the latter category, I would respectfully suggest that they examine their feelings very closely, learn about the real lives of people who happen to be gay, and think really hard about whether they are unjustly projecting their own fears and unfair prejudices on to a loving God.

May 05, 2007 4:19 PM  

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