Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood

Reaching Generation Z: A how-not-to guide for churches

The headlines are screaming that Generation Z, born from the mid- to late 1990s to somewhere around 2010, is the least religious generation in recorded history.

More than a third of these teenagers and early 20-somethings are “nones,” meaning they identify as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” on a survey.

And within that umbrella group, the percentage who are atheists is twice that of the general population, according to research by the Barna Group (from 6% of all Americans to 13% of Gen Zers).

James Emery White, a megachurch pastor in North Carolina, gives voice to his considerable anxiety about all this in Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World.

Spoiler alert: I strongly disliked this book.

In the guise of helping pastors, parents, and teachers “understand” and “reach out” to Generation Z, this book showcases the very problems it tells readers to avoid. White chides church leaders for clinging to the models of previous generations (door-to-door evangelism, large events) even while demonstrating a remarkable tone deafness to the deeper concerns of this generation (racism, homophobia, violence in schools, and the list goes on).

White begins the book by drawing on standard research from Pew, Gallup, and Barna to demonstrate the scope of the problem—young adults going AWOL from religion if they ever had religion in the first place. So far, so good as books go; White can be a clear and effective writer when he’s not lazily quoting his own previous books ad nauseam.

And then things get vague. The church needs to be “countercultural,” he asserts, but he has an easier time telling us what this isn’t than what it is. It’s not the Benedict Option, in which Christians withdraw from society and politics; it’s not fundamentalism, which is a thoroughgoing rejection of the modern world; it’s not the tactic of the religious right, which is to politicize the bejesus out of faith.

Instead, countercultural means for “the church to be the church” and “truly Christlike.” Which is nice, but tells us nothing.

I’d be more likely to give White the benefit of the doubt about counterculturalism if he weren’t showing on every page that his Christianity is not, in fact, countercultural. It’s bowing to a very specific 1950s American Christianity. So it’s “countercultural” by the measures of today, but not in a good way.

Consider what he has to say about women. To reach Generation Z, he tells readers, it’s important to “target men” first and foremost. His church (which he reminds us many times has been successfully growing despite the godless landscape of . . . um, North Carolina, the nation’s tenth-most-religious state) “unashamedly” puts men first in its marketing materials, sermons, music choices, and décor.

What does it mean to target men? It means you think about male sensibilities in terms of music and message, vocabulary and style. . . . When I give a message, I talk like a man talks, specifically, the way a man talks with other men. Direct and maybe a little rough around the edges. But men talk football, not fashion. So I cater to a man’s humor, his interests, his world, his way of thinking, his questions. (148)

If you can reach men, he says, women and children will follow (“if you get the man, you get everyone else within his orbit”).

There are some real problems with this argument. First, this is supposed to be a book about reaching people in their teens and early twenties. One of the major shifts in American culture is that many adults are delaying marriage until their 30s or not getting married at all. So this whole evangelistic focus on older men with wives and children totally ignores the demographic we purchased this book to learn more about.

Second, he never thinks to challenge the patriarchal structure that would dictate that if you can get a man to church, his wife and children will automatically and obediently follow: If it worked in America in the 1950s, by golly, it’s surely good enough for us now!

What’s especially myopic about that lack of self-awareness is that this is supposed to be a book about “understanding” Generation Z. But this is a generation that can sniff out inequality and white male privilege like a basset hound, God bless them. They care about diversity and inclusion, even to the point where they don’t want to work for companies that don’t share those values.

Why, then, would White assume Gen Zers would fall in line with churches that so obviously disregard gender equality? If they won’t be associated with the old boys’ club when they’re getting a paycheck for it, why would they do so on their own time?

Third, the advice to “target men” may be having the opposite long-term effect from what White wants, which is more butts in the pews. There’s solid longitudinal evidence that young women are now leaving religion at even higher rates than young men—which is a reversal from previous generations. This exodus is likely due to many factors, but it’s not hard to imagine that enduring a childhood of sermons that drew proudly upon hypermasculine football metaphors and assumptions that women were considered less important may play a part. Just thinking out loud here.

It’s not just in this particularly egregious “target men” section that White’s lack of concern for women is made clear; it’s pervasive in the book’s citations and assumptions. He quotes or mentions five men for every woman (yes, I counted). And almost everyone he quotes, male or female, is white. He gives the obligatory nod to MLK, and then . . . nothing. As though African Americans have had little of value to say in 50 years.

We have to do better than this. And doing better begins with an activity White doesn’t seem to have engaged in much: listening to Generation Z directly.

Talking less and learning more.

Not just calling them to account for their generational sins, but being sensitive to the way they rightly call bullshit on their elders.

 


Related posts:

Why Millennials are really leaving religion (it’s not just politics, folks)

The best book about Millennials and the church


 

 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

63 Comments

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  • My 28-year-old son is very spiritual. He just has nothing to do with western organized religion. He had a shamanistic awakening and practices regular meditation and yoga. Mormonism never really took with him. He actually helped his old man find the exit door to Mormonism.

  • It would be interesting to know the average age of those who attend Pastor White’s church on a weekly basis.

  • For generations the churches have peddled sexism, homophobia, and even racism in the name of sacred tradition. Young people are smart enough not to buy into that nonsense like their parents and grandparents did, so they stay away. For them it reeks of injustice and they don’t like that. Who can blame them?

  • I heard an interesting comment by a priest on a Catholic radio station (relevant radio) who said that the 20 somethings that he talks to are drawn to – not the church – but to the mass. Especially, to the Latin mass or a novus ordo mass that has a bit of the Latin rite incorporated into it. His point was that these kids grew up with technology and live in virtual reality every day (on their phones); and that they are drawn to the smells, bells and Gregorian music used at the mass.
    It’s funny that it’s not target marketing, a female priest nor the focus on a persons identifying group that draws them in; it’s the sacredness of the mass and the connection to the supernatural.
    The unfortunate thing is that the Latin rite is limited and once again facing extinction by the good bishops in Rome who wish to ban it because IT IS sacred. In addition, we still have the Vatican II whitewashers in charge who can’t retire fast enough.

  • That is indeed interesting. A few weeks ago I heard a Protestant minister talk about a service he used to attend regularly in the Pacific Northwest somewhere (Seattle? Portland?). Basically it was a late-night service held in an Episcopal church where the liturgy was the main event. Candles, silence, the works. And it would be so packed with people in their 20s that some folks were sitting on the floor. I’m intrigued by your point that in a nonstop world of digital technology, maybe there is an appeal to the premodern liturgy, especially to communal silence.

    On the other hand, at AAR right after that I went to a session about Millennials and religion where several progressive Protestant pastors and leaders were wondering aloud why so many Millennials who are fed up with evangelicalism are leaving religion altogether rather than trying more progressive versions of Christianity. I picked up a copy of the anthology they wrote about it and may blog about it at some point in the future.

  • You’re talking about the Office of Compline as sung at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle. Beautiful service, lovely music, ugliest church in Christendom. And yes, for decades it’s been well attended by mostly young people. (Old people like me are usually getting ready to go to sleep at 9 pm on a Sunday night in order to wake up and go to work the next day.)

  • I’m sorry, with all due respect, this is a very unbalanced review of my book. I can take a good critique, and a robust disagreement, but this reads as if I should have put a “trigger warning” alert before talking about prioritizing men in outreach, because it seems you never quite recovered :). I truly respect your right to your opinions, but this review seems guided more by your taking offense at targeting men (one very small section of one chapter, I might add), rather than engaging the book as a whole. So….First, as for the targeting of men (read “Fathers”), this is key to reaching teens (Generation Z). Studies back that up. That’s not being patriarchal or misogynistic. much less a throwback to the 1950s; it’s being strategic for that child’s sake. That was my point. Second, how am I tone deaf to racism or homophobia? That’s a very strong indictment. And a false one. There was an entire appendix outlining a talk on gay marriage that you never even mention. I make it very clear that those are concerns to both the Nones and Generation Z. That was made clear in the book by citing those very concerns. Third, I would not call citing from previous works “lazy,” as it was a sequel of sorts to “The Rise of the Nones.” It is a continuous conversation, and I couldn’t assume one’s previous knowledge of that cultural dynamic. Even if you disagreed with the book’s conclusions, I would have appreciated if you had engaged the bulk of the material, and not a handful of pages you had a visceral reaction to.

  • For the church to be the church and Christ like, it turns out to be what the Bible is about. It is the function of the written word. In other words, it is intended that individuals will be churches in the last Day. With the explosion of information, there is only social reasons to attend the same old church building. It is harder to unlearn than it is to learn, the last generation needs to learn with only the help from the Spirit, for this reason.

  • To quote Bill Clinton, “I feel your pain.” Here’s an always-useful response to a critique you don’t like:

    “I’m sitting in the smallest room of my house reading your critique of my book, Now it is before me. Soon it will be behind me.”

  • I don’t think the characterization of Rod Dreher’s best-selling book, The Benedict Option or its value is either fair or accurate. Perhaps you could engage him on his popular blog on that point.

    As for the importance of his book, David Brooks characterized it as “already the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.” Russell Moore described Rod as brilliant, prophetic, and wise,” while Abp. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. described the book as “a terrific book: provocative in its content, shrewd in its insights.”

  • I thought the term lazy was particularly mean-spirited, as if the author of the post hasn’t repeated her themes. That is not being lazy, that is being consistent. You are both entitled to built on your previous work without being called lazy.

  • Rev. White,

    Thank you for reading the post, and for responding. I assure you I did read the entire book, including the three sermons at the end, one of which recycled some of the same content about Christianity and science that you had utilized in the apologetics chapter of the book. It was not verbatim, but certainly not wholly original content either. The sermons largely felt like you or your publisher had attempted to expand the book’s contents to fit a more traditional length.

    And you’re right that the book does address homosexuality and same-sex marriage in one of the sermons. In fact, one of the things that was most memorable about it is the way your stories routinely depict you as the hero–the only pastor to be willing to perform a funeral for someone who has died of AIDS, the only seminary student to listen to a gay man tell his story, the pastor who gets a hug from a lesbian at the end of a sermon about LGBT issues. While I appreciate your attempt to present a thoughtful Christian response to homosexuality, what came across more clearly was your own role as a hero rather than someone who is actively listening to the people the church has historically (and recently) marginalized.

    And if you addressed racism in any significant way other than the section on MLK, please point me to it, because I must have missed it.

    Yes, it was a harsh assessment, which is unusual for me in this forum. My general feeling is that life is too short to focus on mediocre books, so I generally point readers to ones that have particularly helpful, fresh, or challenging things to say. I suppose my passion about this topic stems from the concern I share with you that Christianity is losing its young people. You and I clearly have different ways of exploring solutions to that problem. Your narrow-mindedness about gender is actually part of the problem, rather than the solution you present it as being; for example, your continued insistence that gender is only addressed in one small section of one chapter misses the larger point about neglecting women (and people of color) throughout the work. This is important. Generation Z is poised to be the most racially diverse generation in US history. And if they are not represented in the church and in books about the church, they will find other venues where they *are* represented.

    If you are looking for compliments, two things I appreciated about your book included its focus on the need for visual communication strategies and creating a “culture of invitation” through small groups.

  • I’m curious….not to open a thread, but…why so snarky toward me? I wasn’t toward you. The comments about my publisher padding the length, me as the “hero”, assuming I’m not actually listening to the LGBTQ community, my book as “mediocre”, “narrow-mindedness”, “looking for compliments” – my goodness, where did you and I get so off course? I will not return such comments. I will only say “blessings” and wish you the best.

  • “Ugliest church in Christendom”, huh? I get your point about the boxy aesthetic and the weird mix of brick and stone, but you’ve obviously never been to a strip mall church or even a purpose-built warehouse mega church. At least St. Mark’s is interesting. LOL

  • This article is rife with utter bullshit. The reason Christianity is dying is because it embraced tolerance and means jack shit when you have the pope fiddling little boys and lecturing whites on how they should take refugees. This is a good thing, hopefully a form of paganism rises in Europe to replace it, or just have the Catholic Church insurrected. Christianity in America is dead so long as it offers absolutely nothing to the modern world. If your church is going against what is written then no shit people aren’t gonna believe in God. The whole “this generation is the most tolerant” is absolute bullshit, it’s pretend fairytale. When you try to create ethnic conflict you will likely get it, and this is what the elites have done to America. “Love thy neighbor” doesn’t work when you have to leave due to “diversity” bringing along all the problems associated with it. True diversity is preserving race, so long as the Church and Christian’s counter signal this then they will continue to lose support from an ever increasingly tribalistic society, which is necessary for whites to not go extinct. Obviously that won’t happen in Europe, a radical shift will take place, but in America werew well on the way there. This is Gen Z(yklon) reporting in!

  • Doesn’t need saying but, meh, here goes: I assure you that *Jana doesn’t speak for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints*.

    She speaks for herself in all things and her views are not necessarily those of Latter-day Saints either.
    The way Jana imagines she is speaking for Christ is so far removed from the new testament that it has turned me off ever reading her book… and James, seeing as how your book is about the new/next generation, as is hers, your discussion seems to be little more than a clash of egos hunting for dominance in a media saturated world.

    The winner (biggest seller?) will be whoever looks best in front of the camera and whoever can massage the ego of the TV host or book reviewer, though given the perversion on planet earth right now, Jana says the things that gay-marriage appeasers and those wishing to undermine the church, want to hear.

    She has a clear advantage with reddit, CNN and WaPo editors and producers who will want her to spread her contagion via their mediums- scripture mingled with the philosophies of man.

  • Let me expand on my comment. The original post mischaracterizes The Benedict Option by the following description: “It’s not the Benedict Option, in which Christians withdraw from society and politics.” This is not the first time the book has been so mischaracterized, and Rod has discussed this mischaracterization repeatedly in his blog. To substantiate my claim that Rod Dredger does not advocate withdrawal from society or politics let me quote an interview with him published in Cruxnow.com (March 20, 2017) when the book came out.

    “…we conservative Christians have to stay involved in politics to fight for the things that we care about-we don’t suddenly cease to be citizens of this country-we have to fight for the right to life, for religious liberty, and we have to fight for a clean environment and good healthcare for all of us, etc.

    Our culture is post-Christian, and we’re going to have to figure out what we’re going to do.
    I think we have a really impoverished idea of politics in this country if it only has to do with campaigns, numbers, and elections. We have to stay in the public square as much as we’re allowed to, true, but we should take a lesson from the Czech dissidents under communism who when they weren’t allowed to participate in the actual governing of their society, didn’t give up or retreat.”

    So is Benedict Option is to stay active in society and politics, but to learn to cope and survive and be active in other ways if conservatives are pushed out of the public square, out of the schools, or out of the professions.

  • ” I suppose my passion about this topic stems from the concern I share with you that Christianity is losing its young people. You and I clearly have different ways of exploring solutions to that problem. ”

    Who the hell are you to state that ” losing ” young people is any damn business of yours ?

    If one ” loses ” something – that implies that one ” owned ” or was in some way ” responsible ” for that ” something “.

    Along with millenniums of Christian ” do gooders ” (who gave us the Inquisitions and Crusades) you are convinced that only you and your ilk are qualified to judge whether there is a ” problem ” with ” young people ” – and invariably – you and your ilk define that problem as a diminishing ” faith ” esp Christianity.

    I have 5 grandchildren who are Gen Z. They don’t need you or White or any of your self-serving evangelizing.

    It is the likes of you who have opened the eyes of countless members of Gen X and Z – and they realize that you are not only irrelevant – but dangerous – to their individual and collective psyches.

    ” The navies of the world could float in spacious comfort in the oceans of blood that have been spilled in the name of Christianity. ” anon

    Mind your own GodDamn business – and leave my grandchildren and their current and future generations alone.

  • Decades ago, when I was of the Anglican persuasion, I was talking about liturgies with a Navy Chaplain. He said an Episcopal High Church service is as close as you can get to Mass – incense, processions, the works.

  • I am glad you spoke up for yourself and your comments. Mr. White’s remark below is the remark of a Patriarchal White Male who can’t graciously accept honest criticism. His comments “snarky” are just like Kavanaugh’s response, how dare you challenge me! I haven’t read the book and I won’t.

    He would have been wiser if he had kept quiet and put your review aside!

  • Chill out pops….
    Obviously your cable is out and your pissed that you can’t catch The View; so here you come to vent.
    If you want to be mad, be mad with me; I’m a card carrying Catholic.

  • In some ways much higher than Rome before Vatican II, depending on where you travel. What’s really interesting is when you go to a place that is liturgically traditonal and yet theologically and socially liberal. There are a fair number of such Anglo-Catholic parishes (as they’re called) across the country, including a place I worshiped for many years, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin near Times Square, New York City. The liturgy there is as traditional as it gets – smells and bells, beautiful pre-Vatican II liturgy, and, last I heard, a married gay priest living with his husband in the rectory, though that may have changed since I heard that piece of information.

  • Gay priest: Yep, them Anglicans are a wild bunch! They’re losing much of the Third World over that of course.

    My first wife was Catholic, and I once went to Midnight Christmas Mass. That was impressive.

    I always was a reader, so the Bible has more appeal to me now.

    Perhaps you know about the Old/New Anglican churches, based on different Books of Common Prayer. That, in turn, is a historical document because of the careful non-Catholic wording.

    And, the KJV is still under Crown copyright in the Empire. Their Bible, yet the English are among the least literate in it!

  • That’s true about the loss of membership in the third-world. Such places tend to prefer patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia over true justice. Thankfully, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta so eloquently put it, “we’re not called to be successful but rather faithful.” So let the churches that are growing in the third world enjoy their “success.” It comes at a steep price, which some churches, it would seem, are all too willing to pay in order to be “successful.”

  • I’m not clear on the “steep price”.
    Do you mean paid by the gays and downtrodden women who have no church to attend? Or, paid by the restrictive churches that could have more members ‘if only’?

  • By “steep price” I mean the price paid by churches who, in the name of “success,” compromise the true teachings of Jesus, whose closest followers included several women and one male disciple, John the Beloved, whom the Bible refers to as “the one whom Jesus loved,” in order to prop up centuries of rampant sexism and homophobia in the church that are more the inheritance of secular patriarchal tradition than anything Jesus himself ever said on the subject of either women’s roles in society or that of homosexuals, about whom he said not a single word.

  • Spoiler alert: I am a “recovering” or “Jack” Mormon who gets the moral quandary facing active, card-carrying Mormons trying to live modern, carrying and socially involved lives with crazy old men like Russell Nelson proclaiming his out-of-date personal bigotry to be the “Word-and-Will” of God. It really sucks to see Joseph Smith’s promise that “no unworthy hand” would ever lead the Church come to naught under Nelson. That’s the real reason that young LDS are leaving the Church in droves. They can’t sustain the Planters Peanuts Gang as “God’s true prophets.”

  • I went to your blog, read your own words about LGBTQ issues and saw the usual, smug “holier-than-thou” nonsense that I expected to see. There is no “with all due respect,” because no respect is due to such viewpoints.

  • Snarky is as snarky does. Your hokum on “love the sinner” toward LGBTQ youth is exactly why so many of them end up homeless and/or dead by suicide. You help the school bullies feel “righteous” in being bad to the “different” kids.

  • I googled his blog and read his hokum in his own words. The “reverend” is just the usual, homophobic “pastor” trying to sound a little less bigoted toward LGBTQ youth, but not enough to actually help reduce queer teen homelessness or suicide. If anything, his sermons are more likely to result in more queer kids on the street or in the morgue.

  • Google the Rev’s name and LGBTQ, then go to his blog. I am sure he thought that he was being “open minded” but that was not my reaction.

  • Well, dr. white, on the advice of my friend Riding the Line, I googled what you had to say. There wasn’t any actual date on this one, but the most recent reference citation is 2017. so I’m going to assume it is fairly current.

    You wrote THIS:

    “When media began mainstreaming homosexual behavior in increasingly positive ways, resulting in full cultural acceptance and even the legalization of gay marriage, those in favor of the movement were quick to deny the idea of a slippery slope. Gay marriage would not be the first foot down the hill toward a sexual free-for-all. Nor would the media’s mainstreaming of homosexuality lead to the mainstreaming of other previously taboo sexual activities.”

    Well. Hmmmmm. Yes indeed. Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do. Or maybe you don’t. It’s up to you.

    “When media began mainstreaming homosexual behavior in increasingly positive ways,” As opposed to what the media did for the past 2000 years? In the past week or two, people who declare themselves Good Christians (TM) and True Christians (TM), some of them on These Very Pages, have politely informed me (well, some of them were polite) that as a gay man, I am:

    an enemy of god.

    a hater of god.

    A threat to marriage, family, children, faith, freedom, morality, heterosexuality, and western civilization, such as it is.

    A child molester.

    A pervert, a mentally ill person, a sick person.

    A diseased pariah, intent on infecting healthy people, morally, physically, spiritually, or in an extravaganza of generosity, ALL THREE!.

    spiritually dead.

    A secret serial killer.

    A potential rapist.

    A hater and despiser of religion.

    Someone who wants to destroy the church, the heterosexual family, and nations.

    destined for hell unless I crawl on my knees to my local purveyor of That Kind of Christianity and apologize abjectly for either existing or not apologizing earlier.

    Now I get it that you have both repudiated and apologized for that kind of vicious reviling and slander coming from God’s own people and God’s own party. (Corinthians!!! Yay!!!) Yet, what you call, and seem to be decrying as “mainstreaming” and “increasingly positive ways”, decent respectable people, who don’t hide vicious bigotry behind what they claim is their religious faith– in fact, don’t seem to have it at all– would call truth, justice, fairness, compassion, decency, facts, logic, and experience. So why are you objecting to that?

    To continue: “resulting in full cultural acceptance and even the legalization of gay marriage”. Well not full cultural acceptance, given my first points. And given the stated reasons of so man Christianistas as to why they voted for an adulterous, fornicating, gluttonous, lying, multiply married goon, that battle is not likely to be over soon. And it isn’t gay marriage, IT’S MARRIAGE: exactly the same marriage you and your wife share, with all of the attendant benefits, rights, obligations, responsibilities and definitions. Isn’t it amazing that people who actually know me can think I am a fully functioning human being, and not a walking sin? A law abiding, contributing, productive member of my community, well thought of by friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors, and not an affront to god? You seem slightly aghast that they could come to that conclusion, or might think that my 16 years with my husband and his three different cancers, or the 45 years that several of my older friends have spent with their husbands or wives, actually have value, and demonstrate love, commitment, caring, maturity, and social worth?

    to continue:

    “those in favor of the movement (for gay marriage) were quick to deny the idea of a slippery slope. Gay marriage would not be the first foot down the hill toward a sexual free-for-all.” You then go on to talk about heterosexual polyamory, heterosexual adultery, and pornography. Here are some news flashes for you.

    Marriage is not like pornography. Pornography has existed for at least a few thousand years. Slippery slopes don’t work backwards in time. Marriage doesn’t lead to pornography, except in the limited sense that a bed-dead marriage now has pornography as an option instead of divorce.

    Marriage is not like polyamory, though some polyamorists are married. They often call it polygamy, which is serial marriage without divorce, if they can legally join rather than be extra. It is mostly, if not always, highly exploitive of women, who are married to The Man but NOT to each other. And everywhere and everywhen polygamy has been practiced, it has been 99.9% heterosexual and approved of by organized religion. Google “Christian polygamy in Africa” or FCJCLDS. This also predates “gay” marriage by some millennia. The two have nothing to do with each other. After all, if a man can marry a woman, why can’t he marry three? Not surprisingly, the answer to that question has nothing to do with me or my marriage.

    And most assuredly, Marriage is not adultery, though some married people are adulterous. Ted Haggard, Stormy Daniels, Stormy’s clientele, a number of pastors in the news, and a long long long sordid list of completely Heterosexual and famously Christian people. None of these people have a thing to do with “gay marriage”, other than to oppose it for completely specious and highly deflectionary reasons.

    And what other slippery slopes are you expecting American society to slip slopily torwards now that my life, love, family, children, faith, freedoms, assets, faith, and morality are considered to be the moral, legal, cultural, social, marital, and familial equals of yours? Right now, the catholic Church is trying to blame me and mine for its Most Catholic Problem. Do you think my marriage leads to child abuse, sexual exploitation, centuries of coverups for ecclesiastical misbehavior?

    So what exactly are you trying to say here? Are you listening to gay people? Are you listening to yourself? Please understand, this isn’t an attack. I’m asking you to clarify what you have said, because this is one gay man who long ago stopped taking seriously what my religious betters have to tell me about my life when they clearly know nothing about it. Your slippery slope arguments are good examples.

    In fact, not only will I not take it seriously, but I WILL push back until such time as my family isn’t threatened, my participation in society as I am isn’t attacked, and beautiful LGBT kids with their lives in front of them aren’t killing themselves over the toxic messages they receive from God’s Loving People.

  • I did and I read the whole thing. You cremated him. There wasn’t enough left to put barbecue sauce on. You left him extra crispy.

  • Whatever you, don’t say finger licking good or we do chicken right,.
    Pleeeeeeeease.
    I didn’t wish to cremate him. I did want to point out to him what it was clear he was doing. In his defense, I doubt he knew he was doing it. Exactly the same arguments were put forth during the marriage wars. they have the usual veneer of “what about that?”, but in fact, they have a whole set of assumptions and blindnesses built right in.
    If polygamy ever becomes legal, it will be because the heterosexual majority has decided they want it. As they have done in Africa, where being gay can be a death sentence. Pornography and being gay have nothing in common, outside of the lurid imaginations of sex obsessed fundelibangelists, except regarding men and how they are.
    and so on.

  • I hate to be the bearer of bad news to Caesar, but your post has several factual errors in it.
    First, the “true teachings of Jesus” have to be those in the only reliable record we have, the commonly accepted NT, better called the Christian Greek Scriptures. These, found in any standard Bible, have stood the test of time. The Nag Hammadi texts e.g., where they differ from or contradict the others, are identified AT LEAST as questionable or even spurious just BECAUSE of their differences. That’s what scholarship is for. In those mss., three times in John’s Gospel, we find “whom Jesus loved” in English. That is grabbed by LBGT folks as meaning ‘in a physical sense’. Wishful thinking. The underlying Greek in every case is agapa for love. This is one of four Greek words for the one in our poor English, and is the one used most often in scripture. It means a principled, spiritual love, a ‘just because’ love, like that which Yahweh has for his son and for his human creation. Eros, physical or romantic love, is not found in scriptures. Further, deponent sayeth not. For more, please go to Vine’s or any similar lexicon of NT Greek.

    There is NO approval of homosexuality in the Bible.

    I suppose that ends our discussion. If not, I’m happy to address other misunderstandings you have been given about God’s word. Not for nothing is it called good news

  • “In Africa”. And in ancient Israel. The Law provided the death sentence for unrepentant, serious crimes, plural. These included homosexuality, drunkenness, reviling God, reviling man, and on and on. Yahweh is a tough town, we might say.

    What Mr White doesn’t say, and may not know, is that the NT has the same provisions. Please read 1Cor 6:9,10. One could ask if he tells the heavy drinkers, backbiters and such in his congregation that they too are condemned to death. My experience shows that likely he does not. Just one of many problems he faces in trying to teach the Bible. A one trick pony.

    As for you, you gonna burn!!! [Oops. Can’t say that; no hell fire in the bible, either, no matter what White thinks.] Well, here’s what will happen. At some point God will reach the end of putting up with all the badness we make on the earth he gave us. [We agree there’s too much of that, I know.] At that time, after suitable warning, he lowers the boom. That’s what Armageddon is for.
    After that, as prophesied, there will be only righteous ones left to enjoy a paradisaical earth. Ps 37:29.

    That’s the quick version; I haven’t lied to or misled you. Another prophecy is that we survivors will all be satisfied, by the only one who knows all our needs. Ps 145:16. The Bible has the best track record of any book in history. Isn’t it worth learning how to achieve true satisfaction?

  • Well, i can’t be sure if your pulling my leg or not. However, if you are going to make up what it says in 6, You might just be the sort of Christian who makes up stuff, like the “bible has the best track record of any book in history.” What does that even mean? Jesus promised to return within the lifetime of his disciples. It takes a heap of explaining to explain why he didn’t. And “we survivors?” No one knows.

    It puts the scat back into eschatology.

  • If you say I made up “6” [1Cor 6, I presume], then you haven’t read it before making your accusation.
    If you insist on letting others tell you what the Bible teaches without checking for yourself then you’re a candidate for a future Jonestown. That’s how Jones’ followers got started.

    When you’re ready for something better, let me know. But, better to be reasonable than knee-jerk accusatory.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 King James Version (KJV)

    9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

    10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    Nothing about the death penalty. So yes, you are making it up.

  • Christianity has so many sects, many of which are so hypocritical, capricious, and dishonest. Is it any wonder that Generation Z would not be prone to any religion. In addition, more people result in the friendship of more diverse people. While I am not gay, I work with gays and like them. While I am not Muslim, i work with Muslims, and like them. It is obvious that Generation Z will go to school with a variety of people, some of whom are vilified by religious institutions.

  • You are exactly right. No explicit death penalty in those verses. “A failure to communicate”.
    Thanks for reading it BTW.

    Consider these things, please.
    First, the standard was established long before Moses, at Gen 2:16,17. “For in the day you [disobey] you will surely die.” Gibbon noted wryly that death for eating one fruit seems harsh, but he understood better and so should we. Life was a gift, subject to the rules of the giver. Mishandle a gift and the giver can take it away. And, the account of the disobedience in ch. 3 shows that much more than one fruit was involved. Please read that for yourself; we’ll come back to it.

    Second, that standard was given to all mankind through Adam. Later it was extended to Yahweh’s particular people. Lev 21:18-21 will do for that.

    Third, after God put away the Jewish system for disobedience [Mt 23:37 ff.; Gal 2:14], the new Christian congregation was put under the same rule. Rom 6:23.

    Finally, understand that Yahweh is indeed a much tougher town than we know now. There’s no gray area with him. At the end there’s only life or death; back to the original standard. So when Paul said false Christians ‘wouldn’t inherit God’s kingdom’, he meant they wouldn’t be alive when it’s established. Based on the scriptures I gave you, what other conclusion is there?

  • That god never says what he means? It slways has to be “interpreted” “properly”– double quotes intentional.

    That he told them that they would “die”, and when they didn’t know what death was? Wouldn’t that imply that he was either quite a practical joker or that he lied to them, since they didn’t die?

    By the way, I didn’t have to read Corinthians at your behest. I’ve read it many times. That’s why I corrected you on it . so many Christians don’t take it seriously, but then, they don’t take most of the word of God seriously, at least as far as it applies to themselves. They are always happy to apply to other people.

  • So, take first Genesis. The order of creation: God’s son; the other angels; stars; solar system; earth; plants; animals; man.
    Heb 1:6; Job 38:4:7; Gen 1.
    Of those, only angels and man have the prospect of everlasting life. So, when animals died natural deaths in the unspecified period between Gen 1:28 and The Fall, .humans learned about death – the absence of life.

    They didn’t die? Hey, you’re right! Just the other night Mel Brooks and Adam were on Jimmy Kimmel as the world’s oldest men! 🙂
    What of A & E had died tben? Where would we be? God allowed them to live and reproduce, but now operating under their own law instead of his. Remember that; we’ll come back to it later.

    What churches usually don’t take seriously is they might be mentioned there themselves. Even if they do, they have a hard time applying v. 11: “That is what some of you were” Stop getting drunk, or die at Armageddon, right?

  • While your remarks are those of an aging white “feminist” who thinks the world awaits the syllable of her criticism?

  • Well, I guess I won’t be hearing from you. I was hoping there would be an explanation, but I must have already discovered it.

    Too bad. It’s obviously not merely an assumption that you are not listening to the gay community.

    Thank you, Jana.

  • Such a nice (not), kind (not) thoroughly christian (yeppers) response.

    I’m sure Patrick’s grand kids are too busy enjoying life with their grandfather to darken your doors.

  • LoL

    Your deity is a figment of your imagination, that you borrowed from a long line of sellers of horse manure.

  • I still haven’t heard back from you. Maybe you’re really, really, really busy.

    yes, that must be it.

    Let me tell you a story. 40 years ago, I was in the fight against California’s proposition six, and invention of the Christian right wing and an attack on gay people of the most vicious variety. In my talks around the greater bay area as part of the community out reach program of the no on 6 committee, I occasionally came across as an ultra conservative Catholic woman—I think her name was Margaret Sullivan – who represented the “get the queers” side of the argument. She had all of her pamphlets at the ready: each of them explained how I was a serial killer, a child molester, a hater of God, A hater of morality, and enemy of the family, a danger in every possible way that must be stopped. You know, the usual, the kind of stuff that has been purveyed and perverted for decades, centuries, millennia. Not surprisingly, everything she had to say was either a lie, A distortion, or half truth. But mostly it was lies and appeals to bigotry.

    She also loved to go into graphic detail about gay sex— everything she thought about it. And thought about it. And thought about it. And thought about it. It was very clear, and very telling, that she thought about it a lot.

    After one of our debates, she said to me, “please write to me. I really care about you.” I saw that as an opportunity to reach someone whom heretofore, I could only regard as an unreachable enemy. So I wrote her a letter, a long one, a friendly one, and even given the level of her vitriol, a kind one— refuting each and every one of her points with facts, logic, and experience. And since I was even then quite knowledgeable on the subject, there were a lot of facts, a lot of logic, and a lot of experiences. I included citations from serious research, and not polemics from political organizations.

    The next time I saw Mrs. Sullivan, I asked her if she had received my letter. She answered, and I have never forgotten what she had to say: “I don’t have time to read letters from homosexuals.”

    Her contempt was obvious. What could a big ol’ queer have to tell a good Christian woman like her?

    What I learned from that encounter, and what has been confirmed to me repeatedly in the 40 years since, is that we are never going to be able to reach people who are irretrievably poisoned in their prejudices- by hate, fear, ignorance, stupidity, bad parenting, toxic religious belief, traumatic experiences, uncritical thinking, a wholly unwarranted faith in a completely imaginary superiority, or despite.

    Something for you to think about.

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