Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sexual Minorities in the Bible: the Positive Texts in the New Testament

By Steve Parelli
Oct. 30, 2011
Bronx, NY

Photos by Steve Parelli, taken in July 2006 in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tom Hanks
In September 2011, Other Sheep published to its web site Rev. Dr. Tom Hanks' new study entitled "Sexual Minorities in the Bible: the Positive Texts in the New Testament." Tom Hanks is the founder (1992) of Other Sheep. He is Other Sheep theologian and director of mission.

Rev. Dr. Tom Hanks, Buenos Aires, September 2011

Table of Contents
(60 pages in length)

1. Matthew: A publican declares the Good News to eunuchs and prostitutes. 

2. Mark: The young man who fled naked portrays a Jesus in a hurry and crucified naked   

3. Luke: The "beloved physician" tells of a Roman centurion with his "very beloved" slave

4. Praxis (Acts) of the Apostles: Queer couples collaborate in mission to the Unclean

5. John: Jesus' Beloved Disciple subverts fundamentalism (selective literalism) 

6. Romans: A gay apostle's queer letter to a "peculiar people" (in five tenement house churches)  

7. 1 Corinthians: Sexual minority values replace family values (1 Cor. 5--7; 16:5-24)? 

8. 2 Corinthians: Catalogs of sexual minority sufferings (oppression, violence)
Tom Hanks

9. Galatians: Evangelism + racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia: "Another gospel?"  

10. Ephesians: Sexual sins that may not even be "named" (5:3, 12)

11. Philippians: Euodia and Syntyche threaten to split the church Lydia founded (4:2-3; 2:2)  

12. Colossians and Philemon: The first Haustafeln andthe deconstruction of the patriarchal household

13. 1-2 Thessalonians: The woman (feminine side) in Paul and his companions

14. 1- 2 Timothy: Paul seeks to encourage his disciple, beloved but timid

15. Titus and his Cretan gay shaman 

16. Hebrews: Sarah, Rahab and, the queerest of all - Melchizedek! 

17. James: Married, but not so secret admirer of Rahab, the harlot

Tom Hanks
18. 1 Peter: "First pope," but married (and preferring Mark as travel companion)

19. 1-3 John: Friendship, not family, the foundation of civilized society

20. Revelation: The celibate followers of the Lamb vs. the Great Whore (Babylon = Rome

Appendix: Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. on the Beloved Disciple in The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament (Cleveland: Pilgrim, 2003)

40 Myths in the Seven "Clobber" Texts Unmasked with Exegetical Studies

By Steve Parelli
Oct. 30, 2011
Bronx, NY

Photos by Steve Parelli, taken in July 2006 in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tom Hanks
In September 2011, Other Sheep published to its web site Rev. Dr. Tom Hanks' new study entitled "40 Myths in the Seven 'Clobber' Texts Unmasked with Exegetical Studies"   Tom Hanks is the founder (1992) of Other Sheep.   He is Other Sheep theologian and director of mission.

The table of contents follows.   CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL PAPER which is 71 pages in length.

Tom Hanks
Table of Contents
  • Eight Myths in the Homophobic Misinterpretations of Genesis 19:1-29 (Sodom)
  • Seven Myths in the Homophobic Misinterpretations of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
  • Seven Myths in Homophobic Mistranslations of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10
  • Three Myths in the Homophobic Mistranslations of Jude 7: Jude, Jesus, and Sodom: Homosexuality in Animals, Homophobia in Humans
  • Fifteen Myths in the Homophobic Interpretations of Romans 1:24-27
Tom Hanks

Appendix 1: "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" - Are you sure?

Appendix 2: Genesis 1-3: Inductive Studies

Tom's paper can be downloaded and printed for your personal and/or group use. Please remember Other Sheep and Rev. Tom Hanks in any reproduction, publication and distribution of this writing. We welcome you to read, use, print and publish any Other Sheep website writings and resources, remembering to acknowledge Other Sheep and each article's respective author.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A gay Christian man from Hong Kong writes his story: "Being gay and Christian is definitely not contradictory -- Acutually, it is a special blessing!"

By Fergus Lo, Hong Kong
October 16, 2011

The following are excerpts.  To see the article in full, click here.

Fergus Lo
On the Blessed Minoirty Community Fellowship
There were less than 20 people at the (Blessed Minority Community Fellowship) Friday evening meeting. To my surprise, some of the members shared their stories with me as if we were very close friends. I thought I would be a stranger among them, but they treated me as a friend who belonged. It was the love and trust I experienced that urged me to go to the meeting again the following Friday and the Fridays after.

Sodom and Gomorrah
On the Bible and Homosexuality
I never had a huge struggle between my two identities – gay and Christian, like some of my fellow brothers and sisters do. I had realized and accepted my sexual orientation before I started following Jesus, and when I did accept Jesus as my Savior it was at an welcoming and affirming LGBT church. It is true, however, that I was somewhat hit hard by the six passages in the Bible which are commonly used to condemn homosexuals. My friends at the church urged me not to take the verses literally but to study each passage in its historical and literary context: what is the background of each passage; to whom was the author writing – his intended reader; what was the time period or the culture in which the passage is set. Besides, there are Bible passages we don’t observe today like what we can and cannot eat or wear; and passages where women and men are treated differently.

Left to right:  Fergus Lo, Steve Parelli, Paul Luca,
Felix Liew, Jose Ortiz.  Meeting on sending
books on the Bible and homosexuality
to Beijing Christinas. July 19, 2010.
Kowloon, Hong Kong
On living in Hong Kong
There are many challenges for the gay person living in Hong Kong, and more so for the gay Christian living here.

On being Gay and Chrisitan
I am very grateful that God created me just as I am – a gay man, and that I am a  Christian. God loves me unconditionally regardless of my sexual orientation. In fact, being gay enables me to see His abundant love from a perspective straight people do not necessarily experience. In addition, being a gay Christian enables me to put my feet in the shoes of other minoritycommunities more easily.

I would like to proclaim loudly that being a Christian and gay is definitely not contradictory. Actually, it is
a special blessing!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Uganda's Anti-Gay Legislation Is the World's Business: View

This week, Uganda parliament moved to revive the anti-gay bill

By the Editors of Bloomberg,
Click here for the article on Bloomberg site

David Kato
Considered by many to be a father
of the Uganda Gay Rights

Photo by Steve Parelli
Date and Place: August 19, 2007
Red Chili Hideaway,

Kampala, Uganda
Occasion: David Kato with Steve
Parelli, crafting an editorial

Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill just won't go away.

Last spring, an egregious proposal by a member of the ruling party to impose harsh penalties, including death, for homosexual acts was shelved for a second time when Uganda's parliament recessed without debating it. This week, parliament moved to revive the measure.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. The law would increase the maximum penalties, providing up to life imprisonment for homosexual acts and execution for so-called aggravated homosexuality -- repeated homosexual behavior, homosexual acts with a minor or a disabled person, and homosexual acts by anyone who is HIV-positive.

To see the article in full click here 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The "ex-gay" cab driver's ring finger

Our New Haven “ex-gay” cab driver:  I’m “ex-gay” but I struggle still with my same-sex attractions; and that’s the way it will be for the rest of my life – and Exodus admits now that that is what they mean by change, i.e., a life-long struggle.

By Rev. Stephen Parelli
Written October 22, 2011
Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connectitcut

Chapel at Yale Divinity school
where I wrote the
text to this blog immediately
following my conversation with
the "ex-gay" cab driver. 
I didn't want to forget a word he
spoke telling his story
October 22, 2011, Yale
New Haven, CT
Today, Jose and I, together with two friends – one from Uganda and the other from the Bronx – travelled together by train from New York to New Haven to attend a day conference at Yale Divinity School on Same-sex Marriage and the Catholic Church.” 

In a friendly, low-key manner, the cab driver who conducted us from the train station to Yale, engaged us in conversation around the topic of our conference (but also, in passing, took interest in pointing out to us the house to which George W. Bush came home as a new born baby). 

Before pulling away from the train station, I had leaned over to Jose and whispered, “The cab driver is family.”  Jose gave a look that said, “I don’t think so.”  “Yes,” I said, “you can hear it in his voice.”  Before our transfer was completed, Jose would see that, this time, my gay-dar (for gay radar) picked up the signal correctly.

Our driver was somewhere in his mid-fifties or older. He asked if we were clergy. Our Bronx friend said, “Yes, two are.”  After his commenting some on different denominations and their controversies over same-sex marriage, our cab driver asked directly, “What do you think of Exodus and 'ex-gay'?”


Above:  Darlene Bogle, a former ministry leader in Exodus International issued a public apology to all former patients hurt in their attempts to change their sexual orientation. Current Exodus president Alan Chambers responded to her heartfelt sentiment with snark and sarcasm.

I told him that Jose and I travel the world speaking on the "ex-gay" movement (among other things); that our last seminar on “ex-gay” was in Singapore a couple months ago.  I told him I give eight points in my evaluation of the “ex-gay” movement and that he could find the paper on our website. Jose, who is my legal husband, told him we had met at an "ex-gay" support group.

Then I asked him if he had personally been involved with Exodus (I sensed he had).  He said yes and he said it changed him.  Our time was short so I asked him directly if he was changed in terms of his same-sex attraction because it was my experience with “ex-gays” that they do not change in that sense.

Here’s what he told me.  “Being 'ex-gay' is a life-long struggle.  Exodus has changed its position on what they mean by 'change' which is good.  They used to say you will change (in your same-sex attractions), but now they say you will struggle with same-sex attractions for the rest of your life.”

“I haven’t made it yet,” he said pointing to his ring-less ring finger, “and I guess I won’t, but that’s OK.  Some 'ex-gays' do make it that far,” pointing again at his bare ring figure as if marriage with the opposite sex was the ultimate achievement for the “ex-gay” Christian.

“But,” I said, keeping the focus on his comment that “ex-gays” do not change, “even in marriage the ‘ex-gay’ husband still struggles with same-sex attraction.”

[I made the above statement that "ex-gay" husbands struggle even in a heterosexual marriage based on my own personal experience and based on Bob Davies writings from his book Coming Out of Homosexuality in which he says:

page 158
Coming Out of
"A[n ex-gay] husband can just as easily experience a same-sex temptation one hour after making love to his wife as he can five days later.

"In [ex-gay married] men, homosexual temptations can be prompted by such emotions as anger, loneliness, frustration and boredom. ... If pressures of being a spouse or parent push these emotional "buttons,"
homosexual temptations may actually increase in the married ex-gay . . . "

page 162
Bob Davies, co-author
of Coming Out
of Homosexuality
"Ex-gay men may not feel an overwhelming physical attraction to their future spouse . . .

"Ex-gay [married] men . . ., the majority do not experience sexual arousal solely by looking at their wife's body. [Instead] . . . sexual arousal [must come by] touch and emotional feelings.

"Most ex-gay men do not struggle with sexual temptation for women . . . not the strong visual attraction experienced by most straight men. ... So a lack of sole dependence on visual stimulation can actually be a blessing."]

Then the cab driver said this, showing his agreement.  “When an ‘ex-gay’ husband and his wife walk down the beach together, his eyes follow her eyes just like this,” and putting his two forefingers together he moved them in sync towards an imaginary object of interest.  Jose immediately verbalized what his illustration was effectively demonstrating.  “So,” said Jose, “the wife is looking at good-looking men and the ‘ex-gay’ husband is looking along with her at the same.”

Paul Martin was a lead counsellor
with Exodus Asia Pacific,
but has since turned his back on
the organisation.
Read more
Click over photo for video news report
“Right,” said the ex-gay cab driver.  He was being consistent.  He had said he himself still struggles with same-sex attractions (even though his life, as he claimed, was changed; obviously his life-style was changed, not his sexual orientation).  He said he was glad that Exodus has officially gone on record as saying by change they mean a life-long struggle with same-sex attractions.  And he gave a candid description of how "ex-gay" husbands while walking down a beach are not attracted to women in skimpy bathing suits but to hunks that would turn the head of any woman.

Dropping us off at our destination, he was still engaging us in this "ex-gay" conversation.  We exchanged contact information.  He threw in the cliche “love the sinner, hate the sin,” and he compared the “ex-gay” process with alcoholics, something I hear again and again and which is, of course, just an incredible, inaccurate parallel.  In all of his talking with us, I did not feel judged by him.  I felt it was a fair, good give-and-take conversation.  I especially liked that he was on the same track with me:  he did know that Exodus does not anymore (and, if you read the fine print in the “ex-gay” books going back to the 1990s, the “ex-gay” movement never really did) claim that homosexuals can change.  I was talking with someone -this cab driver- who had an honest take on what change is in the "ex-gay" movement. 

Yale Divinity School Chapel,
Conference on "Same-Sex Marriage and
the Catholic church"
Oct. 22, 2011
As we left, still keeping a very friendly manner, he said, “See you in heaven and we’ll continue the [‘ex-gay’] conversation there.”  “OK,” I said as I pulled away from the cab to make my way towards the earthwhile conversation at hand – “Same-sex Marriage and the Catholic Church,” a day-long conference at Yale Divinity School.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Queering 4:21 - 5:1 the Epistle to the Galatians by Rev. Steve Parelli - A Letter to the Religious Right in America

Queering 4:21 - 5:1 of the Epistle to the Galatians
An adaptation of Paul's letter by Rev. Stephen Parelli

  • Overview:  In matters of personal belief and practice, which America are we? - the John Cotton America which enslaves us to the moral prerogatives of the state or the Roger Williams America which deems each of us a free moral agent before God?
To view the following queer adaptation of Gal. 4:21 - 5:1 in parallel with the text of the New Revised Standard Version, click here

Rev Steve Parelli's adaptation:

Chapter 4

21 Tell me, you in America who desire to legislate religion - to write the precepts of your personal faith into our civil laws - do you not hear the story of your Puritan forbearers?

22 For history tells us Boston had two sons, the one, John Cotton, tied to the old European mindset of a church-state paradigm, and the other, Roger Williams, born of the spirit of liberty, in which the church is free from the dictates of the state and the state of the dictates of the church.

23 Now, the former was born out of the Reformation (in Europe) which was still slave to the idea of church-state/ state-church governments; the latter was born of the Enlightenment by which the promise of liberty and equality for all was nurtured in the thoughts and writings of men and women.

24 Now these two figures - Cotton and Williams - are a fair representation of what is happening today in America with marriage equality. Cotton is from the old world and is fathering children who become nothing more than slaves, surrendering their liberties to a state-church/church-state society.

25 Cotton represents governments which make laws and rule according to the beliefs and values of the dominant religion which every citizen - the religious, the non-religious, and those of different beliefs - must obey; which makes slaves of everyone, even of the citizens who willingly hold to the dominate values.

26 But Williams represents that government which corresponds to something which is higher - the idea that all human beings answer to God according to the dictates of their own hearts without the interference of any human institution, be it civil, religious, private, public, local or national. A society is free when, at every level and in all of its dealings, it protects and guarantees each one's liberty in matters of conscience before God.

27 And that's why it can be said of Williams:

"Rejoice, Rhode Island, you who bore no children in Boston, for now it is your turn to burst into singing. Shout "His truth is marching on" you whose birth pains for religious liberty in Boston brought forth only still-born babies. For the children of Rhode Island are - throughout the world today - more numerous than the children of 17th century Puritan Boston. The desolate, unsought-after town of Providence, where, among the exiled of Massachusetts, religious liberty was born, is by far greater today than the highly-esteemed Beacon Hill of yesteryear with all its shinning Puritan lights."

28 Now you, my dear American reader, are the children of religious liberty - the promise of equality, freedom and individual dignity in matters of religious belief and practice, like Roger Williams was.

29 But just like then, John Cotton (whose belief-system was mandated by New England law and forced upon all its citizens) persecuted Roger Williams (whose belief-system guaranteed that others could believe and act differently than him or Cotton), so it is now with the repeal of marriage equality in some states, that the religious right persecute the children of the spirit of Roger Williams.

30 But what does history teach us? Though some colonies had officially recognized an establishment of religion, the newly formed Untied States would not. The children of the free Rhode Island would not share the inheritance of the children of the religiously non-free Virginia and New England in the formation of the United States of America. The likes of Virginia and New England had to yield to the likes of Rhode Island so that the first amendment was adopted.

31 So then, friends, we are children, not of John Cotton and the Reformation and New England which failed to gave us religious liberty, but of Roger Williams the father of religious liberty.

Chapter 5

1 It is this kind of freedom for which Christ has set us free. A freedom that respects all men and women equally as recipients of liberty of conscience, whatever their creed, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, sex, nationality, education, philosophy of life and whatever else are the accidental differences shared together by our one essence as human beings. Stand fast in this kind of liberty, therefore, and do not put yourselves ever again under a legal system that makes you mere slaves to a view of God which is not your own and which the state, or any institution, would mandate against your will without your free consent.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, asks his readers to respond: "Does Focus on the Family 'hate' gays?" Here's my answer ---

I believe the claim has been made by some in the not too distant past that Focus on the Family is the most influential evangelical organization in America today in opposing gay rights.

Just today Focus on the Family published to the Internet an article by Focus on the Family President Jim Daly entitled Hate is too big a word to be used with such little restraint.”

Jim asks his readers to respond to the question “[D]o we [Focus on the Family], as Webster defines ‘hate,’ feel ‘intense hostility and aversion’ to gays and lesbians? Do we [Focus on the Family] regard them with ‘extreme dislike or antipathy’?” He answers the question in the negative: “Unequivocally not.”

Jim, along with his friends at Focus on the Family, has a blind spot. The answer is, as unlikely as it may seem to some conservative Christians,  an “unequivocal" yes. Yes, Focus on the Family “hates” gays and lesbians (using Jim Daly’s Webster definition of hate). Why don’t evangelicals like Focus on the Family, looking in the mirror, see themselves as treating homosexuals with “extreme dislike or antipathy?” How is it that evangelicals on a feeling-scale of one to ten don’t know that they register a ten-plus when it comes to feeling “intense hostility and aversion” towards gays and lesbians? How can they be so self-unaware? How do they not see the hate we know and feel?

Evangelicals are impervious to society’s cultural, human right advances whenever such milestones are, in their opinion, in complete discord with what God has decreed is his will for humankind. Love for one’s fellow citizen, in the evangelical’s mind, is to be expressed in the single context of loving what is God’s best for the human species as deciphered from the Bible. Evangelicals, by their standards, are loving when they offer understanding (but stop short of acceptance), provide support groups (to change one’s sexual orientation), and open their doors for all to enter their churches (where the gay and lesbian person can have fellowship with church members around the teaching that homosexual acts between consenting adults is always sin).

For evangelicals, gays and lesbians need to invite Jesus Christ into their hearts which is the formula for new birth which is the means by which (with much help) homosexuals will “come out of” homosexuality. For the evangelical, homosexuals will change; it is built-in within the spiritual “genetic code” of salvation in Christ. It is spiritually “natural” for an evangelical homosexual to change – moving by degrees away from homosexuality as a “life style” or “choice.” Thus, evangelical’s often quoted slogan: “hate the sin, love the sinner.” The idea is to “love the sinner” to Christ so that Christ can change the gay or lesbian person which, in actuality, amounts to conditional love. (Just ask a heterosexual to be received into church fellowship under the same conditions.)

No wonder none of this feels like love to the homosexual – and especially to the evangelical homosexual who for years upon years (myself until age 44) applies spiritual discipline, enters therapy, joins several support groups, attends “ex-gay” conferences, and does all this in utter isolation without being able to tell anyone in his church or family about the “ex-gay” process he is involving himself in without fear of rejection on some level. (“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is still alive and well in the evangelical church.)

Jim Daley concludes his article by calling for “debates, not denigration.” He asks that we cease with our “overheated, overreaching [hate] rhetoric.” I would like to suggest that what Focus on the Family needs to do is stop with its one-sided debates with the America people long enough to really listen to her own evangelical gay and lesbian parishioners. Focus on the Family is so engaged in saving the American culture from gay rights that they have failed to seriously take notice of their own evangelical children who are gay and lesbian. A parent who has forgotten their own children while saving the world – that’s Focus on the Family; Focus on the Family needs to focus on their own evangelical gay children; needs to stop and listen to them! When Soulforce, a few years back, asked to speak with Focus on the Family – to share their personal stories as Christian and gay – they were shut out by Focus on the Family. It appears “debate” rather than dialogue with one’s own evangelical homosexual children is the business of the day. Within our  own house – the evangelical American house – we don’t need debate, we need dialogue (for most of my life I identified as evangelical; I presently do not).

You see, dialogue feels like love; debate feels like hate. When can we really talk as a family. Until then, Focus on the Family's love-talk may be seen has hate-speech by their own evangelical children, not to mention by the secular world which Focus on the Family hopes to save from gay and lesbian human rights.