*Those* Questions

Having seen this list yet again on another website, I thought it might be fun to actually answer them.

Here we go.

Brace yourselves.

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

No. Where does Torah suggest you should do that?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I believe Sudan is the best place at the moment for selling slaves, though the costs involved in flying her out there might make the whole process unprofitable.

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

This is very simple. If a lady is sitting with her friends in an artificial environment, pretending to be enjoying life without a care in the world, she is wearing sanitary protection, filming a TV commercial and therefore menstruating. If not, then no.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to the Welsh, but not the Scottish. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Scottish?

Why would you want to own Scottish?

5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath.. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

If no brutal lynch mob is available within a two mile radius, yes.

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

No. I suggest pistols at dawn to settle the matter.

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Be gone mutant scum.

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

Painfully, and if possible, slightly amusingly at the same time.

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

As long as they’re not leather, yes.

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

Since Lev 24:10-16 refers to a particular judgement on a particular situation, it is not intended to be applied wholesale. That said, stonings are always more fun when conducted in a large crowd.

Any others?

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  • http://twitter.com/98rosjon Jonny Rose

    Top answers, perhaps we should have used you in our 'Ask the Bishop' column!!

    http://thehappychurch.wordpress.com/category/lett

    :)

  • Cerebusboy

    Why *wouldn't* you want Scottish?! ;-)

    Truthfully – although yours were witty – most of the stock evangelical answers to the above are as inane as the questions themselves. It does crack me up when people point out that the stoning homosexuals was just in the *Old* Testament, as if the Testaments are to be figured as Old, Jewish, Immoral Testament (With Some Entertaining Stories) and New,Improved,Self-Evidently Moral Testament (That, Through Some Holy Mystery That We're Not Supposed to Understand, Doesn't Contradict the Former). The lesson to be learned , surely, is the perils of fundamentalism and proof-texting. You'd think 2 millenia of Antisemitism would be reason enough to abandon reductive Christ-analogy bingo reading 'strategies' to the Jewish Scriptures. But I digress….

    Peter, no chance of an Ashes predictor feature on your blog to compliment this summer's fabulous World Cup competition? They play cricket at Lambeth Conferences (or did) so it's plainly the most Anglican and ergo Holiest of sports! o{];-)|>+

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Not sure how we'd make the Ashes one work…

  • William

    Yes, here are a few more:

    “You must keep my laws. …You are not to wear a garment made from two kinds of fabric.” – Leviticus 19:19

    Looking at the labels, I see that many of my shirts are made from a blend of cotton and polyester, and that all my trousers are made from a blend of polyester, viscose and cotton. I could, of course, give them all away to a charity shop, but that would make me instrumental in causing others to disobey Scripture. Would it be better to burn them?

    “The pig must be held unclean…. You must not eat the meat of such animals nor touch their dead bodies; you must hold them unclean.” – Leviticus 11:7-8

    “But anything in sea or river that has not fins or scales, of all the small water creatures and all the living things found there, must be held detestable. … You are not to eat their flesh.” – Leviticus 11:10-11

    As a teacher, once or twice a week I take a game of football with pupils. The ball is made of pigskin. Should I refuse to take any more football games? I also notice that my wallet is marked “GENUINE PIGSKIN”. Should I throw it away? Although I’ve never really liked the traditional roast pork, I do love bacon, ham and salame, and I’m particularly fond of Newmarket sausages. When I am in Italy, two of my favourite dishes are spaghetti alla pescatora and spaghetti alle vongole. Must I give up these foods?

    “Yahweh, who has the right to enter your tent, or to live on your holy mountain? The man whose way of life is blameless, who always does what is right, …[who] does not ask interest on loans….” – Psalm 15:1-2, 5 (Often called “the Christian gentleman’s psalm”)

    I have savings accounts with various banks, which earn a modest rate of interest. Should I close them? For some years I have been paying AVCs to bump up my pension when I retire. Should I stop my contributions and cancel the policy?

    “A man whose testicles have been crushed or whose male member has been cut off is not to be admitted to the Assembly of Yahweh.” – Deuteronomy 23:2

    I have a friend who has only one testicle: the other one had to be removed as the result of an unfortunate accident. If he should turn up at our church next Sunday, what is the best way of explaining to him kindly that he is not welcome?

    “The man who lies with a man in the same way as with a woman: they have done a hateful thing together; they must die, their blood shall be on their own heads.” – Leviticus 20:13

    Should I campaign for a law that gays are to be hanged, shot, guillotined or burnt at the stake? Or would it be better for me to constitute myself God’s executioner, taking a line through the Soho nail bomber?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      “You must keep my laws. …You are not to wear a garment made from two kinds of fabric.” – Leviticus 19:19Looking at the labels, I see that many of my shirts are made from a blend of cotton and polyester, and that all my trousers are made from a blend of polyester, viscose and cotton. I could, of course, give them all away to a charity shop, but that would make me instrumental in causing others to disobey Scripture. Would it be better to burn them?

      It depends. On the one hand beggars can't be choosers, on the other as you rightly point out you don't want to be the agent of another's damnation. The solution? Become a naturist.

      As a teacher, once or twice a week I take a game of football with pupils. The ball is made of pigskin. Should I refuse to take any more football games? I also notice that my wallet is marked “GENUINE PIGSKIN”. Should I throw it away? Although I’ve never really liked the traditional roast pork, I do love bacon, ham and salame, and I’m particularly fond of Newmarket sausages. When I am in Italy, two of my favourite dishes are spaghetti alla pescatora and spaghetti alle vongole. Must I give up these foods?

      Start wearing rubber gloves. You will never again have to touch any pig product. As for the consumption of pork – Quorn is your friend.

      I have savings accounts with various banks, which earn a modest rate of interest. Should I close them? For some years I have been paying AVCs to bump up my pension when I retire. Should I stop my contributions and cancel the policy?

      The entirety of your wealth is tainted. Send me a personal cheque for the full amount and I will absolve you.

      I have a friend who has only one testicle: the other one had to be removed as the result of an unfortunate accident. If he should turn up at our church next Sunday, what is the best way of explaining to him kindly that he is not welcome?

      Reading out the relevant Scripture and then pointing at the gentleman in question whilst shouting "unclean, unclean" will have the required effect.

      Should I campaign for a law that gays are to be hanged, shot, guillotined or burnt at the stake? Or would it be better for me to constitute myself God’s executioner, taking a line through the Soho nail bomber?

      Since it is clear that punishment for such crimes must be exercised by the community as a whole, you should press for a change in the law. Just don't expect anyone to vote for it.

  • Dave

    I live in the states, and am of Scots extraction. Though some refer to me as 94% Scotch, 5% water, and a little ice. Since I already own chattle of Scottish descent (my children), can I buy a Canadian? What's the exchange rate?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Is the Canadian in question francophone? If so then the market for those has bottomed out. Stick to Mexicans – they're even cheaper.

  • Anonymous

    Peter

    I'm assuming that you're referring in this article to yesterdays Guardian CiF article 'Parents of LGBT young people need support, not criticism' and following thread. The article reaches a new low for socially liberal dogma about how Christians should approach homosexuality by asserting that:

    'Faith communities are simply not ready for their role in supporting parents (of gay teenagers). When I raised this issue with the Anglican, Catholic, United Reformed and Baptist churches in England, their replies acknowledged their need to be better informed, while – the reply from the URC being a glowing exception – failing to acknowledge the part played by religion in perpetuating the injustices that our families face'.

    The article and thread is well worth a read at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/….

    I was contributing yesterday under the username 'nansikom' to that thread. I made the point that the orthodox Christian position is that homosexual behaviour is a sin. Many Christians believe therefore that the correct response to teenagers experiencing same-sex attraction is to give loving, non-judgemental support and counsel and to assist with ethical sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). All these points were made in the same respectful and reasoned manner that I use in my comments on your site.

    I found however that my comments were persistently moderated out. Clearly for many people on Guardian CiF, and also it seems for the moderators, merely expressing the the orthodox Christian view that homosexual behaviour is a sin, is by definition 'homophobic'.

    I now have a nice big red sign on my commenting space telling me that 'Your comments are being premoderated', which is pretty much equivalent to saying 'We think your comments are so risky so we're going to check them out beforehand to make sure that they are not bigoted or 'homophobic' based on our definition. Not very nice behaviour or conducive to encouraging open debate!

    I feel very angry about this type of authoritarian moderating, because it is important to continue dialogue between people, Christian and non-Christian, who have very different views on homosexuality, its nature and the correct ethical response. I also genuinely believe that it is possible to have this dialogue in a way which is passionate about one's views, honest about the very real differences in approach, but also respectful of both everyone's humanity and of the integrity in which different views are held.

    And I am very sad this morning because this type of exchange seems to be impossible on Guardian CiF, which is one the largest and most influential commentary boards on the net.

  • Cerebusboy

    Philip, it is true that LGBT youth suicide is a big problem. So whilst one of course takes orthodox evangelicals at their word that they intend to "love the sinner, hate the sin", packing kids off to ex-gay camps (or whatever) is not, to say the least, suggestive of such love. Guardian moderators are famous for being a bit heavy handed (and I only read football related threads!) however. And, speaking generally (and I'd reiterate that I'm not here making a point about yourself, Peter, or any other of the many non-phobic conservative Christians), I think many liberals have been overly gracious in watering down the meaning of the term "homophobic", to the point where we're not even supposed to apply it to certain Ugandan anglicans who support the death penalty for gay people. If actual literal violence against gay people isn't homophobic then what is?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      where we're not even supposed to apply it to certain Ugandan anglicans who support the death penalty for gay people

      Really? Who?

      • Cerebusboy

        Was thinking of the attendees of Kampala workshop, plus Ssempa and Bahati, but I realise they're evangelicals, not anglicans. Mea Culpa.

  • Anonymous

    Cerebusboy

    Thanks for your comments. I've been feeling a bit abused today!

    >>packing kids off to ex-gay camps (or whatever) is not, to say the least, suggestive of such love.<<

    I totally agree with you. There's a great YouTube video called Jesus Camp which is well worth a watch! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LACyLTsH4ac And in my comments, here and on CiF, I have recognised the abusive methods that are used by some unethical ministries in sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

    The problem I have is when people persist in the view that all such ministries are abusive, simply by virtue of attempting SOCE whatever approaches they use. Firstly, its not accurate as there are some very good ministries, like Living Waters and True Freedom Trust. Secondly, it shuts down debate by setting up a carboard-cutout stereotype of evangelical Christians as all being right-wing nut jobs that are paid up members of the religious right. It's as wrong and as offensive as some evangelical Christians making jokes about 'mincing gays'!

    And I'm very sad when a great crusading liberal newspaper like the Guardian feels the need to shut down polite and respectful debate. (But I'm trying to get back in their good books currently by posting lots of anti-racist comments on an article about South Africa)

    • Cerebusboy

      Hi Philip.
      I'd disagree with your high view of True Freedom Trust. There might be an argument on the merits of the ministries you identify, but I don't think you can expect guardian moderators (presumably, in most cases, volunteers?) to be aware of them. So they doubtless interpret comments in favour of them as (however erroneously) advocating the LGBT bullying that is being condemned. That's not the same thing as banning comments opposing homosexual practise per se (of course, for all I know you've made this point in one of the messages you had blocked!). Labels like left and right might be unhelpful on this issue, but 'neutral' on homosexuality suggests, to me, live and let live type libertarianism ('long as they don't do it on the streets and scare the horses' etc), to which the left and right positions are indeed the LGBT-inclusive and evangelical/conservative ones.

  • Anonymous

    Cerebusboy

    Here's the first of my CiF comments below that was moderated out. And, as I've had no feedback from Guardian CiF on why they took their action, I'd appreciate your honest views if any of it is offensive.

    *******

    >>Faith communities and schools have a pastoral responsibility to families<<

    I fully agree with you, Marjorie. And that responsibility is, in a loving, practical and non-judgemental way, to counsel vulnerable teenagers and their families of the truth about homosexuality within a orthodox and biblical Christian framework:

    - that homosexual behaviour is a sin, but as with all sin, God is greater than the power of sin and can give us the spiritual resources to resist it and to be healed from its power over us.

    - that sexuality is not fixed, especially in the teenage years, and that experiencing same-sex attraction (SSA) is a common aspect of an emerging sexuality that does not necessarily make you gay.

    - that our sexuality does not define our identity, any more than a predisposition towards bulimia, over-eating, alcoholism or drug abuse determines our behaviour.

    - that God loves us with a love that is far greater than human standards. He loves us too much to leave us the way that we are. He always wants to move us closer to him and give us the power and comfort of the Holy Spirit to change us.

    While sexual orientation is undoubtedly a complex area, the possibility of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) is increasingly well documented, especially in the areas of religiously mediated change. See the work of True Freedom Trust and Living Waters in the UK for many testimonies of successful sexual orientation change and for loving and non-judgemental support in SOCE.

    Marjorie, I appreciate your article in pointing out the many difficulties that gay and lesbian teenagers face and often, sadly, judgemental attitudes from some people in the church. But you make the unsupported assumptions that teenage SSA is fixed and should be celebrated. Many people of faith, including teenagers, believe that homosexual behaviour is a sin and want to pursue the possibility of SO change. And, in a free society, they should have every right to pursue that possibility and to be supported in a loving and non-judgemental manner within their faith community.

  • Tom

    Philip,

    -"the truth about homosexuality" rather than "the view" or "the teaching" maybe something that people who do not share your opinions find authoritarian verging on homophobic because unprovable. So often antagonists then muddle this up with all kinds of medical and social reasons because the objective cannot be proven;

    -that "sexuality is not fixed" and "you make the unsupported assumptions that teenage SSA is fixed ". I venture to suggest most gay people have experience the opposite of this. To them it is quite fixed however much they might wish it weren't. What you say sounds a desperate, defensive, not to say offensive assertion from people who do not actually have any experience and who want it to be otherwise.

    So, yes, I think it does appear offensive.

  • Anonymous

    Tom

    Thanks for your response – I appreciate it. I accept that my CiF article was hard hitting and I also accept your advice about stating my beliefs rather than 'the truth' in a context where people have a wide range of views.

    However, I wrote this in the context of an article that was equally hard hitting and which prescribes only one legitimate pro-gay position for faith groups in the context of gay teenagers (teenagers experiencing same-sex attraction in my definition). See my first post on this thread above. I guess hard-hitting articles tend to bring out hard-hitting responses!

    I recognise that many and probably the majority of self-defined gay people (certainly in the UK) experience their same-sex attraction as fixed. Certainly that's what the research tends to show. But experiencing one's sexual orientation as fixed and it actually being fixed is not the same, is it? Although I can appreciate to a gay person with a strong same-sex orientation the differece may seem to be splitting hairs.

    I don't think that we've been in an exchange of views on Peter's site before, so you may not know that I experienced same-sex attraction as a teenager and young adult and that I assert that I received spiritual healing from SSA. I am always very careful though to state that my young adult SO was 'mildly bisexual' and that my experience should not be seen as typical or dramatic.

    I identify strongly however with the post-gay experience and with the Christian critique of gay identity that Peter discusses here, which is why I post quite regularly.

    I do feel however that the research increasingly shows that SO change is possible for at least some people. I had another post deleted which included the following points that I make often to try and differentiate positions in a respectful and reasoned way:

    - Many non-Christian gays experience their same-sex attraction as a gay identity and as something that is innate, unchanging and good. And that's fine and it is also correct that they should be protected from discrimination based on access to services, employment and promotion.

    - Many Christian gays experience their same-sex attraction in the same way as non-Christian gays. In addition, they assert that committed, loving and faithful (CLF) gay relationships are blessed by God, should be celebrated in the church and that their should be no barriers to CLF Christian gays participating in church ministry and leadership.

    - Most evangelical and charismatic Christians (ECC), including same-sex attracted ECC Christians believe the orthodox biblical Christian position that same-sex activity is prohibited by scripture. They see 'gay' as being a descriptor of behaviour rather than identity. Such 'post-gay' Christians often assert that they have been healed of SSA by a mixture of counselling (secular and Christian), spiritual healing by the power of the Holy Spirit and a wide range of therapies. And research increasingly shows that, for some people at least, such healing from SSA is possible. This is a group with which I identify based upon the testimony of scripture, love of God and my experience of healing from SSA.

    I am assuming that the third of these points triggered a number of reports of homophobic abuse and resulted in the comment being moderated out. And I think that is very sad that these assertions of the orthodox biblical position on homosexuality are automatically, and in an unthinking manner, screened out as 'homophobic'.

    • Tom

      Philip

      Thank you for your considered and courteous reply. I don't think your last posting that was refused should have been deemed homophobic. You were careful in the third (possibly offending?) para. to state a third-party position so I think it was unfair to blank you out. But you know what? I think the moderators did not read it as such and thought you were coming over as too preachy.

      Thank you for being open about your own journey. I am interested in the fine distinction between post- and ex-gay. I wonder if it indicates a head over heart decision on yours and Peter's part or whether you have really no more interest in the male sex at all. Please don't answer if you think the question is too intrusive but I wonder if a commitment to Christianity produces a cognitive dissonance, as they say in the psychological community. "The last person to see rising damp in the cellar is the person who has just bought the new house."

      Since you have put your cards on the table I think I should too. I suppose I am a post-Christian (rather than an ex) on the same grounds that you and Peter use the term psychologically. I became a Catholic at 17 and eventually spent time as a Benedictine novice. I was converted to Catholicism when my brother who worked for Deutsche Grammophon gave my father a recording of the monks of Beuron singing the first Vespers of Christmas. I was entranced and immediately felt a calling. But I had to do lots of things first: become a Catholic, do 2 years National Service, and during that time find where I was meant to go. While doing my NS in Canterbury I met a parishioner who gave me a copy of Thomas Merton's Elected Silence and that clinched it for me. I went to see the Trappists in the Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire and was determined after NS to join them. But things never run smoothly and I got ill towards the end of NS. I was advised by Fr Clement Tigar SJ of Campion House Osterley that my health would not stand up to the rigours of the Trappist life and I should consider the gentler Benedictines. (Campion House was a place of formation for 'late' vocations and converts.) After that I joined the Benedictines at an observant house. At the end of the novitiate I decided it was not for me. I was still a Christian then. There are still things I love about Catholicism but also many things I don't. I am not a liberal Catholic, nor am I an ex-Catholic. I think post-Catholic describes my situation best. I still love the Gregorian chant (the legend goes that the Holy Spirit first intoned it into Pope Gregory I's ear – and didn't the BVM conceive through the ear when Gabriel announced that she would give birth to a son? – so you see why my conversion through hearing the monks of Beuron seemed so possible…). This autumn I visited a beautiful monastery in France, Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux: http://www.barroux.org/ (From their sister abbey, the nuns of N-D de l'Annonciation have just released a best selling disk, Voices from Avignon).

      As a post-Christian I still have nostalgia for the beautiful side of the Church, the community of love and acceptance and mystery, but I'd have nothing more to do with the the 'moral' certainty of the fundamentalists, Catholic or Evangelical. To my mind they are the latter-day pharisees who love to ransack the Bible for quotes against others and even to impose their beliefs by trying to influence the secular law. In this respect I admire the Mennonites who refuse to turn religion into politics, unlike the Christian Institute…….
      But as for Christianity, as all other religions, I consider they are man-made, part of humanity's need to provide answers for its questioning spirit, and as such can get as many things wrong as they get right.

      Sorry to have gone on so long

      • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

        I am interested in the fine distinction between post- and ex-gay. I wonder if it indicates a head over heart decision on yours and Peter's part or whether you have really no more interest in the male sex at all. Please don't answer if you think the question is too intrusive but I wonder if a commitment to Christianity produces a cognitive dissonance, as they say in the psychological community.

        I'm not sure about cognitive dissonance – that idea gets banded about a lot and often perjoratively, trying to indicate that Christians "stuff away" their sexuality or the science in order to maintain their belief system.

        For me it was more like "cognitive resonance"! The first part of my current belief system was recognising that Scripture spoke about sexual activities, not sexual identities. Alongside this was my academic statistical background helping me to clearly understand that there was good evidence to indicate that sexual orientation was a mixture of nature and nurture and that nothing in my biology prescribed how I should (or shouldn't) express love or dictated what my "identity" should be. Finally, there was a spiritual understanding (from Scripture and contemplative tradition) that identity for a Christian was found beyond myself, not in my person but in the person of Jesus.

        These things combined to help me choose to walk away from "gay" as a way od understanding, defining and dictating who I should be. I died to my (fallen) self and let Christ raise what he willed. Here I am a decade later, a changed man.

        • Tom

          Being fully human is an amazing adventure. I see no evidence for supernatural interventions except in human imagination.

          • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

            Fascinating, but what does that have to do with what I wrote?

  • Tom

    " I died to my (fallen) self and let Christ raise what he willed. Here I am a decade later, a changed man."

    If so, why do you come over as so aggressive?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Not aggressive in the slightest – just confused that your reply didn't engage one bit with what I wrote after asking for more detail as to what "post-gay" meant in practice.

  • Anonymous

    Tom

    I agree with Nick, err … I mean Peter, in his posts above!

    Thanks for your open response. I like these open, honest and courteous debates as I think the think that the way we debate is also important. I've wanted to post some thoughts but I have been tied up in a number of things over the weekend. I'll try to later tonight …. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Tom

    I appreciated your personal testimony as I always like to hear about people's own experience. You and I seem to have followed almost opposite paths in faith. No doubt the number of reasons that people come to faith, and lose it, are as individual as people themselves. Also, as a good evangelical I love testimonies! So here's my own, updated and lengthened from earlier postings here and on Guardian CiF…..

    I come from an unchurched background and had no significant early exposure to Christianity. My parents didn't attend church, although my father had gone to a Catholic school run by the Christian Brothers of Instruction (yes, that lot!) and he went through a very intense Catholic phase that he lost when I was still very little (I was baptised Catholic, my 3 years younger brother wasn't).

    Mum and Dad are both deeply moral people with a very strong sense of right and wrong and raised my brother and I with very strong values. I am immensely grateful to them for the inheritance that they have given to me. At the same time, I became aware in adulthood that they have had a difficult marriage. They are very different people, like chalk and cheese in fact, and still struggle to really 'meet' each other and to share deeply. At times growing up there was alot of unresolved tension in the house.

    I was very close to my mother, to the extent that some friends in school called me a 'mummy's boy'. The relationship was in many ways too close, and she struggled greatly when I moved to live in southern Africa. At the same time it was a very liberating experience for me!

    At the same time I was very well provided for and constantly encouraged in anything that I want to do. My parents are living embodiment of that lovely English phrase 'comfortably off"!

    Keeping with definitions, I went to a comprehensive school in the local town which fitted the term 'bog-standard' to a T! The town was heavily working class as were many of the surrounding villages, my own included. The town was subject to the '60s policy of shipping working class families out of the cities to a supposedly better life. We had lots of former Brummies and Londoners. Some Councils took advantage of this policy to resettle their 'problem' families. The small number of kids from such backgrounds were 'psychos' and were best avoided.

    As a fairly inwardly sensitive, obviously middle-class boy who was the brightest in my year I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was picked on fairly unrelentingly and the first few years of high school were pretty horrible, although it got better as I got older. I got through based on three attributes which have stayed with me for life:

    1) I was my current height, 6'3", at 14 years and some of the hardest nuts couldn't easily reach up to punch my face. They could kick me though!

    2) I have a quick wit and developed the ability to defuse tension with a joke, often self-deprecating. I still tell jokes constantly, sometimes at inappropriate times!

    3) I inherited the support of West Bromwich Albion from my Dad. One of the toughest guys in the school, Ady Garbett, was a West Brom nut and he and I would often talk footy together. He pulled me out of 3 potential beatings.

    It was at this time that I became aware of 'differences' in my sexuality. As i came into puberty I would try on my mothers clothes occasionaly. I also had a couple of fairly non-serious 'crushes' on other boys, none of which were followed up. My first sexual experience was however with another boy, initiated by me and where I wanted to take the role of a 'woman'. At the same time, most of my attractions were for girls and I had a girlfriend when I was 16 years.

    I only really got exposed to evangelical and charismatic Christianity (ECC) at university, where I went to a fairly liberal campus. I was already politically active in the old Liberal party and had come in contact with gays in the party.

    I would place my early adult sexual orientation at that time as ‘mildly bisexual’. Although my first sexual experience was same-sex (SS) and through teenage and early twenties I experienced occasional same-sex attraction (SSA), at the same time I had girlfriends and most of my sexual experience was opposite sex.

    During my time at university and as a young adult however, gutys would occasionally hit on me, on about 6 occasions I think. I was not offended and each time these approaches were politely rebuffed. But in the light of my early experience of SSA, I wondered if I had something 'broken' in my sexuality.

    I got saved at the end of my first year in University through the Anglicans, for whom I retain an abiding affection. Two things swung my conversion really. Firstly, I studied Christianity with a Christian friend and became convinced of the truth of its claims. Secondly, as someone who was very politically active I became dismayed with the viciousness of student politics between people who were supposedly ‘progressive’. It stood in stark contrast with the love I could see operating between my Christian friends.

    Soon after I got saved I came in contact with the charismatic renewal and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I am intensely grateful that I met the Holy Spirit while I was a ‘baby Christian’. I remain charismatic as well as evangelical to this day, and I can pray up a storm in tongues with the best of ‘em!

    In my mid 20s a relationship with a long-term girlfriend that I had expected was heading for marriage ended in spectacular fashion. In the aftermath of this break-up, my SSA renewed very strongly. I had a job as an advocacy officer with a campaigning organisation that took me to Europe fairly regularly to work with otehr NGOs. At one conference the translator was a very effeminate man to whom I became very strongly attracted. I didn't follow through, although it was difficult for me, for three main reasons:

    - I was already convinced that homosexual behaviour was not allowed for a Christian.

    - I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I didn't want to have a same-sex relationship. In post-gay terminology, I had unwanted SSA.

    - I knew that I was in a fragile emotional state from my breakup and was therefore very cautious about following through on my feelings!

    I had begun work with a Christian counsellor after my break-up and I also began reading much Christian material on family and relational hurts, on soul-ties and on inner healing. I came in contact with the writings of Leanne Payne (’The Broken Image’, ‘Crisis in Masculinity’) and John and Paula Sandford (’Transformation of the Inner Man’, ‘Healing of the Wounded Spirit’).

    On and off over the period 1988-1993, with the help of loving, professional and Spirit filled Christian counsellors I received progressive healing of inner hurts and memories. I recognised that my sexuality was a broekn area of my life from past relationships and family hurts. My healing also included deliverance from a demon of homosexuality. Was the deliverance the major part of the ministry? No, the counselling and prayer was. Did it have a part to play? Yes.

    I am aware that to some Christians inner healing is controversial, and I am also aware of some of the abuses that have happened. My testimony however is that I received significant healing in many areas of my life, as well as my sexuality. I have not experienced SSA since this period (now approaching 20 years).

    In my view, in addressing hurts in my sexuality three main things helped.

    1) Recognising that the main issue was a Truth issue, ie what does God say about my identity in Christ. I praise God that by the time I experienced SSA mostly strongly I had received sufficient good biblical teaching that I was clear that ‘gay’ was not a biblical identity and was not a true description of my struggles! God says that I am a dearly loved child of his and that I can overcome all things in Christ Jesus!

    2) I was directed to loving, professional, Spirit-filled Christian counsellors (I stress all three!) who stressed that SSA was not a sin and was not abnormal. I was especially blessed! They were able to help me in a very practical, loving way.

    3) I married my wife in the middle of this period, 1990, and we quickly discovered that we both shared a history of sexual hurt and brokenness. We were able to share our struggles and to help each other greatly at times that the other was down.

    I am also very aware of the dangers of extrapolating from experience, and that human sexuality is highly complex. I would not presume to say that my experience should apply to anyone else, or indeed anyone on this board.

    From my experience however I strongly identify with the post-gay identification of the major issues in homosexuality, and this is the main reason I post fairly regularly on Peter's site! I feel very strongly that it is possible for at least some people to change their sexual orientation, and that my experience, as well as the testimony of many other people, good quality research studies, and ethical ministries such as Exodus, True Freedom Trust and Living Waters, support this conclusion.

    Does this mean that all gay people can change their orientation, or should be pressurised to do so! Absolutely not, and there is undoubtedly much bad ministry out there rooted more in the ideology of the Christian right than in loving compassion and support. I do feel however that society at large (certainly in the UK) has now largely accepted the narrative that homoseuality is innate adn unchangeable. It distresses me that the post-gay experience is somehow deemed to be less valid and is constantly shouted down by gay activists when it is expressed. Sexuality is too complex, and there are too many people hurting from sexual brokenness, for there to be only one set of permissible views!

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