The conversation builds on what was said in Captain’s Blog: Stardate 10172021.7 and in the previous entry Priority 1 Transmission. Ray’s text is in italic and I respond underneath. This is his response to the priority 1 transmission.
There’s much I can say on the end times, but I don’t think you’ll hear me on it. So I’ll shelf that subject for another time. I want to give you an honest answer to a very important question.
You know I’ll hear you out on any subject but I’m more of the belief that every person is always living in the last days because you can be pulled in for judgement at any moment and thus should be ready to be held to account by God at any moment.
“I have always wanted to ask you, “Do you think that regardless of what I do/feel, because I’m trans/bi, that I will be deemed as living in sin and punished with the second death?” You may not say it cuz you’re a bit coy but I think you believe it is a sin and if I don’t change then I’m going to be cast into the fire. Am I just depriving myself not further indulging in sin cuz I know I am going to die anyway?”
Biblically speaking, the bible is clear that in the beginning, God made male and female. Anything outside of that is not God made, its man made. Either that, or because of sin, there may be an aberration in what was made (such as a hermaphrodite), but the pattern that God set at the beginning is the ideal.
Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
At first glance, this might seem obvious: God made two different, discrete sexes. But if we look at this line in its context, we see this creation account follows a poetic structure made up of a series of binaries that indicate the breadth of God’s creation: light and dark, seas and dry land, land creatures and sea creatures.
In the structure of the Genesis poem, these binaries are not discrete categories, but indications of a spectrum. The sea and dry land merge on tidal plains. Some animals inhabit both land and sea. Darkness and light meet in the in-between spaces of dusk and dawn. God didn’t create night or day, but night and day, inclusive of everything in between.
If we apply this same poetic logic to humanity, a case can be made for sex and gender diversity built into the very fabric of creation. A creative diversity categorically called “good” by God. Also, update your terminology. Hermaphrodite is an offensive phrase, intersexed is the sociological and medical term. I also would be interested to know if you’d tell an intersexed person that they were an aberration of sin; a concept not supported biblically. I believe intersex people were created just as God would have them, do you contest this?
Additionally, there is a natural cycle to things. We’ll call it the circuit of beneficence. Everything in this world takes… in order that it might give. Consider the water cycle. Evaporation, then condensation, then precipitation. Each has its role to play, not only for the climate, but for the living things in the environment. Consider the air cycle. The trees put oxygen in the air, we breathe it in, then we exhale CO2 which the trees take in, then give us oxygen again. The various food chains in their various habitats all minister to each other. Every bird, every animal that moves upon the ground, every leaf of the forest, every blade of grass, has its ministry. Each contributes to the life of its surroundings.
Trees are not the primary source of oxygen. Plants only produce 20% of the oxygen we breath. The remainder comes from marine creatures such as phytoplankton. They don’t require our carbon dioxide. It isn’t just a one to one give and take but EVERY creature is part of the chain. What benefit do phytoplankton get from us? There are many instances where you’re made up term “circuit of beneficence” isn’t nearly as encompassing as you seem to think. There are many parasites and viruses, those created by God, that don’t contribute to life at all but only destroy it. The food chain has no ministry in it. What is the ministry does the tick or mosquito give? Please support this concept biblically. I believe the only ministry that occurs happens when humans talk to other humans about God and during prayer. Correct me if I’m wrong.
The only thing that lives unto itself is the selfish heart of man. Why did God make male and female? So that they might minister to each other, and to the world around them. Let’s cut to the chase. For an orientation that is not straight (LGBT), what do those types of orientations minister to other than themselves? How do these orientations contribute to the life of their surroundings? There is much more take than give here. One might say that there is the gift of diversity/options, but this was not so at the beginning. God created a simple pattern for mankind in order that he might participate in this circuit of beneficence. Man has devised ways that deviate from this simple pattern. The example set here is one that appears very selfish.
Adam and Eve were created by God to take care of His creation (the plants and animals), to populate the earth, and to have a relationship with Him. Adam and Eve were not directly created to minister to others (though it is an activity we should do). Of those things, the only thing the LGBT can’t do is populate the Earth. As someone in the LGBT, I can and do have a relationship with God. My orientation doesn’t preclude that. It also doesn’t stop me from trying to take care of his creation. I can and do take care of plants, animals and even other people. LGBT folks contribute to life in all manners; from the arts, to saving lives, to being able to share God’s love with others. Your circuit of beneficence would be broken or at the very least, severely damaged without the contribution of LGBT folks. I’m also curious what the circle of beneficence has to say with regards to tree frogs (Rana clamitans) and their ability to change genders even in natural, unadulterated settings relatively free from human-caused pollution or the many animals that partake in homosexual activity.
Being a member of the LGBT also does not stop me from ministering to others. I have tried to share God’s word with my kids, others in my family and to the world in general. Me sharing my love with someone who is the same gender as me is not selfish nor is me wanting to express myself in the way I feel is not deviating from God. I am not harming anyone. In fact, I wish you could audit me and God’s relationship since I transitioned.
Finally realizing that God still loves me despite being LGBT has made me a better person to others and has transformed my relationship with God so much. It’s this idea that I’m harming others by living my life, it pushed me onto a destructive path. I hated the bible, myself and many others because I thought I had to hate myself just for feeling the way I did. This harsh view on the LGBT has caused so many suicides…violence and hate among fellow children of God. I am not being selfish just trying to be me. You want a simple pattern? Love everyone, reserve judgement for God.
I know you will jump on the not being able to reproduce bit. Being able to reproduce is not a prerequisite for being apart of God’s kingdom. There are infertile cis males and females. Maybe ideally God wants us to reproduce, but it isn’t necessary even for fertile individuals. There is no commandment demanding we have children.
Ok, enough philosophizing. As far as it relates to you – there are two reasons I think the path you’re taking is a dangerous one. The first reason has to do with the fifth commandment, which is to honor your parents. When your mother was alive, you did not come out the way you have over the past few years. You gave her and your late wife that respect. If your mother were still alive, what would she say about this? Do you think she would feel honored, or just the opposite? Back to nature’s circuit of beneficence. You honor her by perpetuating the species, a pattern she followed in order that you might exist in this world. Please consider this commandment and where you stand with it.
Although I didn’t officially transition when my mom and wife were alive, they both knew for a long time that I crossdressed and that I was bisexual. My mom even met a male love interest of mines before she passed. My mom was a very loving person late in her life and would love me regardless. I honor her by trying to raise the kids to the best of my ability, by developing a relationship with God and by taking better care of myself. I believe you’re projecting how your mom would feel. From my interactions with your mom and what I know of her, she comes off as a very harsh, obstinate individual. Once your mom has come to a conclusion, she refuses to consider evidence that may disprove her or otherwise cause her to change her mind. One thing I noticed within you is a much softer, open-minded approach. It is my inclination to believe that part of this modified approach of yours is because you didn’t want to emulate how you were treated growing up. I also believe that becoming a parent will soften you even more.
Speaking of kids, I wonder how you would handle your child becoming part of the LGBT. Perhaps its easier right now believing that you would be unwavering in your stance. However, I think the actual experience of holding your lil boy or girl in your arms, having them tell you that they love you, watching them as they make mistakes would make you reconsider your position and thus have a better understanding of how it must be like for God. Would you put out your kid in the streets if they came out? I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t, even if they were intractable in their feelings. How could you think that God would incinerate an otherwise obedient child simply for loving someone of the same gender or transitioning?!
As a parent myself, I prefer not to punish my children if I don’t have to. Still, kids make mistakes. Sometimes, there does have to be consequences when they hurt others or endanger themselves. Yet, ultimately I think what we want from our kids is for them to acknowledge their mistakes, fix any harm they caused and promise not to do it again.
The second reason has to do with the fact that you lower your life expectancy whenever taking hormone therapy. Your chances of getting cancer increase significantly, and I don’t think it is right to tamper with your health in that regard, especially for someone with a history of cancer. You know this – you used to send me your labs and ask whether there was any reason for concern. I don’t want you to wake up one day and question whether your decisions shortened your lifespan, or, God forbid, you end up with cancer AGAIN. You owe it to your kids and to yourself to take care of your body in the best possible way, and I think that’s what God would want for you too.
One thing I’ve learned is that my body is rather unique. Unlike most people, I didn’t go through puberty during my teen years. Without any medical intervention, my body is in deficient as it doesn’t produce hormones. Taking hormones help me live a fuller life as they provide me with energy and help my body function in other ways. You will need to cite some literature to me citing how taking estrogen increases cancer risk. I’ve been to a number of endocrinologists and done a lot of research and this isn’t something that is a concern when using estrogen as HRT for trans individuals. It is arguable that I am even trans. The fact that I don’t naturally produce testosterone or estrogen probably makes me more of an intersexed individual than anything else. Even if you did find the literature supporting the position that estrogen causes cancer in trans folks, which I doubt, I think my kids would benefit more from me being happy the years of my life I am alive rather than me living longer and miserable because I don’t have estrogen in my body.
The Bible talks about an unpardonable sin, and it is not being trans/bi. It is grieving away the Holy Spirit. It is when God is speaking to you and you ignore the voice. And He tries to speak to you, and you continue to resist. There is a point where you don’t hear the voice anymore. You become numb. And when that happens, then it becomes easier to confuse truth with error. So the big questions are, can you hear the voice of God? How are you sure that it is God’s voice? Where is your proof that it is truly God’s voice and not another? The way I answer this question is whether the convictions you have coincide with the Bible. If the Bible is God’s word, then the voice you hear should agree with the Bible. Otherwise, your only moral compass is your own experience, which can deceive you. Especially you, Tino. For the greater part of your life your experiences led you to believe that God was not real. Now your experience has changed. If there is truly a battle going on within you, you better believe that there is more than one voice out there. Without a compass, an authority, a credible source, you may as well be speaking in tongues. Try to tell someone who speaks in tongues that they didn’t catch the Holy Ghost. Their experience will tell them otherwise. So maybe the important question is, do you consider the Bible to be the word of God?
What if right now the holy spirit is trying to work on you with what I’m writing and you’re refusing to consider the possibility that you’ve been wrong?
How can I be sure I am hearing God’s voice and sure its not another? Because I was perfectly content to ignore the bible, be indulgent and live as an atheist. The guidance I have received has led me to being a more humble, caring individual. Yes, the writers of the bible were divinely inspired. Yet, God needs to talk to many people, some with no access to the bible, clearly He must have other mechanisms for conversing to others outside the bible. I believe the ultimate Truth can be accessed directly from the source, by a direct conversation with God or though any number of methods. If you were on a deserted island with no knowledge of the bible, God could still guide you.
We also have the capacity to be divinely inspired just as those who wrote the bible were. Yes, the bible is the word of God. But the word of God could also be found in other holy texts. God could even be found in episodes of star trek if God deemed it the only way to converse with you. When one opens their heart and mind to God, he can lead anyone to the lessons they need to learn. My credible source is my relationship to God and the infinite ways he has of proving His existence to me and anyone that seeks Him.
I can’t imagine questioning my own orientation. I don’t know what it is like to live in your shoes. Same here – you don’t know what its like to live in my shoes. Those same thoughts about envying what others had growing up – I had those too. I went through all of grade school without a ‘true Adventist experience’ – none of my friends growing up were Adventist. I didn’t have siblings to relate to. My childhood was quite lonely at times. I had to search for my identity on a spiritual level without any peers. I longed for an older person to take me under their wing and mentor me. I had to learn how to fend for myself, on all levels.
You are right in the respect that I don’t know what it is like having lived in your shoes. I do think we relate in that we both were sorta loners. I do find it peculiar that despite all the times I tagged along to go to church with you that you didn’t consider me an Adventist friend. Plus the Montereo girls were frequently present and trying to be adventist. Yea, the girls and I weren’t very strong adventists but I think we all tried to be. Though I will say none of the kids you met (that I know of) came from a strict Adventist home such as yourself. Even still, we all sorta did have to fend for ourselves.
For me, Adventism and black history have been the biggest boxes put in my face. And I ask myself: how much of that box, that groupthink is beneficial? And how much of it is not? Some scars can be avoided if you stay in the box. Some scars are part of character development. I’m looking for the balance between individualism and collectivism that seems most beneficial. If I seem to lean towards one side or another, talk to me next week. I might lean the other way on a different subject.
I can see that some of the adversity that you faced has helped you grow as an individual. I also can acknowledge that some of the groupthink has been beneficial for you. Yet, as a social scientist yourself, I believe that you can acknowledge the human disposition to become myopic when in groups. Adventists think they are the remnant, Mormons believe they are the one true church, Baptists think that only those baptized will see God…on and on it goes…Why can’t you even consider the possibility that you extracted all the Truth you could from adventism..that God can exist outside that box. There is no such thing as collectivism when it comes to God…I don’t think there is a sign on heaven that says “Adventists (or insert group) Only”. When it comes to God’s people, the only one that can judge that relationship is God. This condemnation and alienation of others based on a self-righteousness belief that you just so happen to have the one Truth is just so tribal. Just like you can’t judge a marriage from the outside, how could you try and say the relationship between another human and God is right or wrong?!
The Truth About the Numbers –
Consider the story of Noah and the Flood - God destroyed everyone on the earth except 8 people. Is God concerned with numbers? Jesus did say "As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." Consider the first coming of Jesus - who came to welcome him to this earth? A few wise men. All of the Jewish scholars didn't see him coming. The wisdom was in the hands of the few. Fortunately for the rest of the world, Jesus was on the earth for 33 years and many people eventually were able to identify him for who he was. But how few were ready for his coming... When Jesus was on earth, he said "Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leads to salvation. And FEW find it... Broad is the way that leads to destruction." The final book of the Bible describes a people who are called a remnant - the leftovers - not many, just what remains.
“As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” When looked at in context, the idea is not about number of individuals in heaven but the amount of people who are ready for God’s judgement. The story of the wise men seems to reinforce the concept that many aren’t ready. Its interesting how there were so many Jewish scholars yet only 3 wise men were able to see beyond mainstream thought at the time to see the Truth. Right now, the mainstream demonizes LGBT people. They are more persecuted than Christians throughout the world. Are you wise enough and ready to embrace the diversity of God’s people?
“Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leads to salvation. And FEW find it… Broad is the way that leads to destruction”. I believe this is a directive to follow the path of Jesus and not get distracted by life’s indulgences for indulgences are a path to personal destruction. As you talk about a bit after this, God set a gold standard which is the life of Jesus. Inevitably, we all stray off the path, and fall short of that standard. Again, I don’t believe this is about few people being in heaven but more about few are able to live such a disciplined life where they can find deliverance from the ills of sin in this life.
As an aside, I want to note that I spent literal hours pondering this one verse. I think its the kind of verse that can easily be skewed to create a fundamentalist stance. It’s a verse that can be used to create a “us vs the world” stance. A “we are the few” that follow the one True path and the rest will be destroyed. Going back to the parent analogy, I just don’t see God destroying the majority of his kids. We’re flawed, most will require a lot of guidance in the afterlife but I don’t think he will incinerate most that do stray. I do think he will judge us.
Romans 2:5-8 “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger
I do think that God does enforce a sort of karma. I believe all will reap what they have sowed but I believe once the individual has reaped his lot, that eventually, God will provide a chance for redemption. Like a good parent, God just wants us know what we did was wrong, why it was wrong, how it felt to those you impacted and a genuine change in your heart. I think the wrath and anger will burn in the way that’s most efficient, psychologically.
At the same time, the Bible says “I do not wish that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.” It’s not God’s desire for there to be so few ready to meet Him, but the pattern is quite troubling. I believe God has a few people – I don’t know who they all are, but I hope to be one of them – who are searching their hearts and asking whether they are ready for God to meet them face to face one day. They realize that the standard that God has is one that not many find, mainly because they are not prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to give their all to Him. In Jesus’ day there was a whole nation of Jews (God’s chosen people back then) that didn’t see him coming. If the Adventist church believes they are the modern-day Jews, the ‘spiritual nation of Israel’, how sad it would be for history to repeat itself. The pattern itself should trouble those who dared to preach that “we have the truth”. The few find God, mostly because it is only the few that are really looking. I don’t care which religion you’re in – you can ask yourself how many are sincere in their search for God, compared to the many who are just going through the motions.
If there is remnant end times church, it isn’t the SDA church as it currently is. Its pews are filled with complacent, well-dressed, judgemental and comfortable members. Again, I don’t believe God has a favorite church. His church is composed of individual people, not a particular denomination. God isn’t exclusive to just those of one belief. Imagine having 10 children but saying that you only have one kid that you really love. Sure, some kids will be better than others. But as someone with multiple kids, you learn that each has their strengths and weaknesses akin to how each religious beliefs has their own strengths and weaknesses. To me, I look at most churches like I look at kids boasting, “I’m dad’s favorite”. “He only loves me”. Ray, dad loves all his kids. Sda’s running around saying, “I’m the only one thats gonna get dad’s inheritance cuz I follow his rules the best”. Dad sees the good and the flaws in all his kids. One isn’t loved more than the other.
This is where I think you and I find common ground. I’m willing to admit that despite what I believe about God, my knowledge doesn’t equate to salvation. My pursuit of the relationship must be improved in order to hit ‘the mark’ and not sin. Part of this pursuit means surrendering myself, even my own presuppositions. I don’t know how objective or unobjective I’ve been about other faiths, and I don’t know how well you know me to call me out on it one way or another. But I think part of it may be this ongoing conversation we’re having here…
You and God know what best works for your relationship. If you feel that you must surrender everything to him in order to have that relationship, I say more power to you. I can’t truly know how objectively you pursued other faiths but given our interactions, I don’t hear you speak about much about the possibility of being wrong or at the very least, open to the possibility that Truth can exist outside the confines of the bible. You just so happened to be born and raised to the one True way of being. Ofcourse..everyone else thinks the same thing… Just saying…
The main goal of college is to teach critical thinking; to evaluate all the information available and come to an informed conclusion. If one only sticks to one source of information, they can’t say they fully explored a subject. How can you confidently say you have The Truth when you haven’t even opened up to the possibility of being wrong or explored other sources with more than a cursory effort. I’m willing to continue this conversation but it can’t be a one sided discussion where you believe I am just misinformed. I implore you to look outside the box with me and explore the possibilities.
Some text borrowed from Robyn J. Whitaker’s article, “The Bible Welcomes Every Color in the Gender Spectrum“.