Monday, June 21, 2010

There's no crying in softball

Bellevue Baptist Church, a Memphis area megachurch with a membership somewhere around 30,000 people, has recently come under scrutiny for disallowing a lesbian softball coach and her team from participating in its league.

At the center of this contention is Jana Jacobson, who says she was told by Bellevue officials that "her 'deviant' lifestyle" was not in accordance with church doctrine, and because allowing Jacobson and her team to play could be considered a de facto endorsement of an alternative lifestyle that is clearly written about in the Old and New Testaments (not just Leviticus 18:22), Bellevue was essentially forced to take a stand that far too many in the Christian community lack the fortitude to make.

I know a little something about Bellevue.  I was an active member for 17 years, and at times I experienced a certain rigidness that went beyond Christ's example.  But I also know what the Word says.  Indeed I have written about the impasse between (authentic) Christianity and homosexuality before.  In essence, it is not our job to be cool.  It's our responsibility to be right about such matters, as Spurgeon reminded us repeatedly.

Being unpopular among the self-proclaimed tolerant comes with the territory.  Tangled confusion arises only when we yield to that against which we have been warned.  Only those who refuse to see the evidence directly in front of their faces will remain blind.  Hence when Bellevue speaks of a "deviant lifestyle," they are probably referring to something like this:

"West Hollywood (California), with a gay population of 41%, has been disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic which has ravaged the gay male population since the early 1980s.  The city funds or subsidizes a vast array of services for those living with HIV or AIDS.  The AIDS Healthcare Foundation parks a Mobile HIV/STD testing van outside of the city’s busiest nightclubs on Friday and Saturday nights, and again on Sunday afternoons."
-- from various sources (1, 2, 3)

Stay strong Bellevue.

16 comments:

Holly said...

I was waiting for you post about this. The whole situation is incredibly interesting to me.

Look for my take on the subject in a few days, I don't want to commandeer your comments.

AMW said...

I'll be looking for it.

Anonymous said...

But Bellevue invited the general public to join their softball league, they should have been expecting to host people who hold different values. Thier mission statement includes the directive "Love People", their treatment of this coach, and her team (who they never even met) seems very unloving. They have a billboard that reads "Bellevue Loves Memphis." Oh, really?
I live in this town, I pay property taxes in this town. If I am supporting lavish athletic facilities that are under the umbrella of church grounds with my tax dollars, I do not expect to be subjected to the Spanish Inquisition. If a group wishes to have a private athletic club they can pay their property taxes as private citizens do.
Further, it is astonishingly rude to extend an invitation and then rescind. I was raised to believe that it is impossible to "uninvite" someone. Unthinkable. The only way a host can get out of the situation is to cancel the event altogether. That has not happened, and the church in question has not even returned the $350 registration fee that they had received from the rejected team.
I do not have children, but, I can't imagine now, having my niece going over there, asking to participate in their sports program, only to have her subjected to shameful, dirty, questioning.

AMW said...

Love has nothing to do with telling people that something is okay when it isn't, nor is love tantamount to accepting and/or condoning a lifestyle that is both forbidden by the Holy Scriptures and proven by science to be an early killer.

I was reading recently about gay icon Quentin Crisp (born Denis Charles Pratt), who, according to the piece I came across, "genuinely believed that to be homosexual was 'like having an illness'" because "...the promiscuity of homosexuals was a sign that the act was unsatisfactory - 'just as, if you eat food that doesn't really nourish you, you eat more food'." (Source: http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/1238037)

That's a big statement from one of their own. I understand your perspective, but love often centers on taking a necessary stand, no matter how unpopular in some quarters.

Anonymous said...

"If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town." --Matthew 10:14-15

AMW said...

I'm not clear about the specific point of your reference, as the verses you used are quotes from Christ's instructions to his Disciples. Again I must reiterate the initial point, that Bellevue's move was in keeping with doctrine found in both the Old and New Testament -- and, believe it or not, in the name of love (or at least, the authentic criteria thereof).

Ironically perhaps, homosexuals are welcome to attend services at Bellevue. The door is always open for anyone who comes to hear the Gospel. I offer my gratitude, nevertheless, for resisting the name-calling that has become so prevalent in this ongoing debate.

Holly said...

Ok, I finally made my post and linked to yours as the "other viewpoint" :) I'm sure you won't agree, but that's OK. I was wondering about your quote from Mr. Crisp/Pratt though...

"...the promiscuity of homosexuals was a sign that the act was unsatisfactory - 'just as, if you eat food that doesn't really nourish you, you eat more food'."

Not all homosexuals are promiscuous, just as all heterosexuals aren't shining examples of "admirable" sexual behavior [whatever that means]. Maybe the shame of having your sexuality considered by many others to be an eternal-death sentence can complicate things. It's harder to live 'undercover' with a lifelong partner than it is for the occasional tryst. Not to mention divorce rates among heterosexual couples. I just think there are better arguments against homosexuality than 'gays are promiscuous', if you have to argue against it.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that softball is a healthy activity for someone to take part in. My doctor is always encouraging me to get more exercise. It's a shame to deprive a local taxpayer or a guest from a neighboring town the opportunity to get some healthy exercise.

Nothing can convince me that it is polite to flat out ask some one if they are gay.

On the topic of name calling, I don't claim to know much about gay people, but I do know that this is Gay Pride Month and that there are terms that are derogatory and those that are excepted and polite. I doubt gay people take kindly to being called "deviant." Who would? To me is it nearly as uncouth as using a word beginning with "n" during Black History Month.

Gay's are allowed to attend your services, how nice. Do you have a "Keep off the Grass" sign handy for them? And for their friends who are guilty by association?

Thanks to Bellevue, my town has a reputation of being rude and infriendly. I am not pleased. Clearly, this situation was handled badly. An apology should be given. I doubt anyone will ever hear one.

AMW said...

Promiscuity is but one aspect of the lifestyle. A heterosexual can also have many partners in his/her lifetime. Yet the difference is found in both the considerable gap in average life expectancy and in the number of relatively new STDs that have originated from within the gay community in just the past 30 years, which is in stark contrast to the STDs that have come from the "straight community" over the past 3,000 years despite outnumbering homosexuals by approximately 9-to-1.

Dismissing arguments against homosexuality with catch-terms such as "hate," "bigotry," and/or "intolerance," as so many have before (and I don't include you in that group, Holly) is common, nearsighted, and largely rooted in a fear of being labeled. Yet there also comes a requirement of balance in the "anti-gay" approach, as rounding them up like cattle and treating them as sub-humans is a perfect example of what not to do.

Far too often people come to accept the gay community because they are nice. But I've learned that some of the worst acts of iniquity in recorded history began with a smile and friendly word. The moral is that we are quite possibly making a mistake if we base much of anything upon what's considered "nice." Christians are called to take this stand, no matter the opposition, in the name of truth. It seems that making decisions that are not based upon emotion is one of the most unpopular things one can do. So be it.

Anonymous said...

No one has yet explained why they thought it was proper to confront this woman about her sexuality. Imagine if she merely appeared gay and actually was an upright individual by your standards. As it is, she is a proclaimed Christian apparently, and was very insulted.
I only pray that if anyone ever asks me so rude a question that I can behave myself and be as civil as possible.

AMW said...

I do understand your point to an extent. Allowing a homosexual to play in a church-sanctioned softball league seems benign enough. Yet my numerous counterpoints stand nevertheless. Still I don't believe, as you mentioned in your second-to-last post, that Memphis' reputation is hurt by Bellevue's stand.

Portfolio.com recently ranked the overall quality of life of the metropolitan areas with at least 750,000 people. And of the 67 areas, Memphis finished 64th. That, all by itself, speaks volumes.

Vilges Suola said...

I'm reading this from the other side of the Atlantic, mystified. I'm a gay man but I have no idea what 'gay lifestyle' could mean, if it means anything. Would 'heterosexual lifestyle' be a meaningful collocation, when it could be applied to anyone who experiences heterosexual desire? I don't like the term 'gay community' either, since lumping homosexuals together as an undifferentiated mass makes as much sense as lumping together the world's coffee drinkers. Of course, if you try to prevent them from drinking coffee, they will find common cause because there's no reason why grown up people shouldn't drink coffee if they want to.

How is my sexuality supposed to reduce my life expectancy?

Quentin Crisp was a self-loathing queen because he was a product of the sexually repressed Edwardian middle classes. He internalised that period's paranoia about sex in general and homosexuality in particular. Far from being 'one of their own', he spoke for himself, and he always made that abundantly clear.

AMW said...

Pardon me Vilges, but I noticed that you had "hairy chests," "cock," "balls," "penis," and "boys" listed on your profile among your interests, and that last one is especially odd for a 51-year-old. But you're shaking your head at ME?

Crisp's statements stand on their own merit. Who knows better about such matters than an octogenarian queen? As I previously mentioned, love has nothing to do with telling people that something is okay when it clearly is not, nor is love tantamount to condoning a lifestyle that is both forbidden by Scripture and proven to lead to premature death.

As I also stated, the number of new STDs to have originated from within the gay community (define that however you like) in just the past 30 years, as compared to the STDs that have come from the "straight community" over the past 3,000 years, is staggering. Only those who refuse to see it will remain blind.

Please understand, I don't hate homosexuals. I just refuse to overlook these ostensibly untouchable matters out of a fear of being labeled. So dismiss me with whatever catch-term you wish, but I am put off by those who believe the lifestyle is beyond reproach when nothing could be further from the truth.

Vilges Suola said...

If someone likes men,it is not surprising that they would like male attributes,is it? And why is it odd that I would like boys? What are you imagining that means in practice? I like cats and houseplants as well.

I don't think being an octogenarian queen whose active sex life ended in England in the nineteen fifties gives QC's pronouncements any particular weight. It simply underlines that in sexual matters he was pretty much of his time, despite appearances.

Over here, STDs are most rife among straight teenagers, along with under-age pregnancy. This is usually because schools are prevented by parents, religious groups and a cretinous, prurient gutter press from addressing sexual matters openly. A 30 minute plane ride away in the Netherlands, they have managed to solve the same problems by starting to teach kids about sexuality from the age of six. No squeamishness, no homo (or hetero) phobia, no silence or guilt. And it works.

AMW said...

Sex education for even the youngest school age children is now necessary because our society, international or otherwise, has become so overtly sexualized. Instead of treating it sacredly as designed by the Almighty -- something of which even the most pious Christian can struggle -- many in this post-Sexual Revolution era treat sex casually in much the same regard that attending church is now increasingly held.

Some may consider my perspective to be somewhat repressed, a possible result of ignorance and/or fear. But I disagree. I'm simply a pragmatist. See the "1981" portion of my June 5 post (towards the bottom of the page) to see what I mean. And feel free to follow my blog, Vilges. Perhaps we will understand each other as time goes on.

Vilges Suola said...

Well, we might. Meanwhile not only are we on opposite sides of the Atlantic, we appear to be on opposite sides of everything else as well. I'll drop in now and then.