When They Close Ranks Against You

It started in June of last year, and lasted until the end of August.  On a much-visited “fundamentalist”  website  I  found  a  thread titled “Luke 17:34 – 36,” initiated in 2006 by a poster who asked the question, “In the light of the current flurry of threads on homosexuality, how did the choice of ‘two men in a bed’ ever get into scripture?”

Closing Ranks

Closing Ranks — A Worldly Reaction

As you can imagine, I was quite happy to walk through that door.  (To read my explanation of the four elements in Luke’s Gay Apocalypse, click here.) For two months I discussed the gays and lesbians in Luke 17:34-35, usually on a daily basis, often several times a day. After several flawed rebuttals of “two men in one bed,” a host of posters took turns at me, warning me, rebuking me, pleading with me, and scolding me.

For weeks I logged onto the site to read their heartfelt concerns and criticisms.

  • I choose to stick by the WORD. And you would do well to do so as well. Your soul is at stake, sir!
  • Ronald Goetz, YOU are a false teacher. You are what the Bible warns Christians about. You should be marked as such and shunned.
  • I binged [googled] Ronald Goetz and I am totally appalled at what I found. It just about makes me vomit.
  • You come here to promote your agenda, and if people follow your agenda, they will be lead by you to the very gates of Hell.
  • What he preaches is so full of poison, it should be avoided at all cost.
  • Is it love to suggest to a person that their damnable heresy is not damnable? Would you have us to be liars as well? Or would you have us acquiesce to such vileness as if somehow homosexuality deserves special treatment- until the sinner grows comfortable in their sin and dies clinging to it?
  • This is definitely an attempt on Ronald Goetz’s part to promote a pro homosexual agenda. He just released a book on the subject this year.  He intentionally resurrected this thread that had been dormant for years. He is an apologist for homosexuality.
  • I’m just a lonely struggling saint, but I gotta tell you, in Jesus Love, you’re wrong dear Ronald, you’re thesis is wrong, I say that in love, and I say this in love, you could be possibly leading many many dear souls to eternal peril, could you live with that possibility?  Just consider what I’ve written…please?

I will revisit this episode in the days to come. There were a variety of comments, and several of the responses, ones I haven’t quoted here, actually resonated for me. What I’d like to comment on now is just one way the two-month episode affected me personally.

Self-Doubt and Depression

In short, I became depressed. The continual bombardment of hostility, negativity, and rejection took a toll.  Even the few people who didn’t see themselves as hateful toward gays and lesbians, and didn’t like over-the-top anti-gay rhetoric, felt compelled to voice their stern disapproval of my interpretation of Luke 17.

Predictably, as the second month ground onward, it got worse.  I began to doubt myself.  I experienced once again the scholarly doubt about my thesis, whether the couples in Luke 17 really were gay, and whether I had concocted an outlandish notion out of some obsession with homosexuality, which they said was the case.  I wondered if I should be disturbing these simple, dogmatic believers with a notion that didn’t disturb my spiritual state, but obviously disturbed theirs.  I considered the possibility that I really was the perverse monster they said I was.

They really didn’t want me there, and expressed that as many ways as they knew how.  And when I left, my departure was held as further evidence of my wickedness.  This is quite typical of the closure groups seek when someone leaves.  An explanation is eventually generated to explain what happened and dispel any sense of the group’s responsibility. This process is much harder for actual congregations, and those congregations who have publicly driven one of their own out of the fellowship will later find it extremely difficult to repent of sin of scapegoating one of their own.

What I want to emphasize now is something I shared with my wife and my pastor. For a period of weeks, I had a small taste of what many gay and lesbian believers live with for years, and even decades if they don’t succumb to that dark blanket of rejection. When I felt there was no more I could contribute to that online community, I had the option of leaving.  I don’t really know them, and they don’t know me.

No Real Comparison

But LGBT Christians can’t just walk away from actual faith communities, from their families and childhood friends. There is no way to insulate themselves from the pain when emotional and spiritual ties are cut when their communities cut them off. Suicide is far too common among these innocent, but somehow dangerous, pariahs.  To compare my brief, self-chosen experience with theirs is almost ludicrous.

I made some decisions, came to some conclusions, shook off the self-doubt and depression, and voluntarily left that community. I just stopped posting. When I went to check them out a little later, I couldn’t log in.  They had cancelled my account.

I am pleased to say that I didn’t respond in kind. I may not have done this perfectly, but I am temperamentally attracted to the proverb,  A gentle answer turns away wrath,  but a harsh word stirs up anger. But my gentle answers couldn’t turn away wrath after weeks and weeks.

On numerous occasions I thanked people for their concern for my eternal welfare. For me, I try to acknowledge the fact that they were responding to me according to their best lights, no matter how faulty those lights seem to me.

When the damage is done to others, however, I have a responsibility to speak up. Scripture commands it.

 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
      ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
      and see that they get justice.

This is a volatile subject.  Respond freely, and please be nice to one another!

About Ron Goetz

Author, Widower, Grandpa, Son.
This entry was posted in Gay Christians, Life and Testimony, Two Men in One Bed and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to When They Close Ranks Against You

  1. Ed Folkwein says:

    Dear Ronald,

    I appreciate your brave statements based on research highlighting and emphasizing the humanity of all God’s people and especially on behalf of our LGBLT family members and friends. I and many others have not placed ourselves so publicly liable to the unfair and mean spirited responses you have endured. Thank you, because you have encouraged me to more readily acknowledge that our daughter is a lesbian, lovingly married to her partner. I will continue to love our daughter and uphold the love of God for all people. I continue to fight for and support equal rights for all married partners and to try and point to scripture which historically embraces persons of all sexualities.

    I know clinical depression as a damaging disease that prevents clear thinking. I also know the power of modern drugs that moderate the effects of depression and allow many people to experience life more fully. Any depression is a hindrance to joyful and hopeful living. I pray that you continue to overcome your depression.

    Your research and writing are a joy and help to me in showing the unhealthy uses of Biblical scriptures to prove points of view in a narrow perspective. Press on. Speak your piece and peace especially when you are scared out of your wits. I will do the same.

    Faithfully,

    Like

    • Ron Goetz says:

      Thanks for the en-courage-ment, Ed. Quite helpful at the moment–as I consider my next post.

      I have bipolar disorder, which I’ve been managing fairly well with meds. I still have ups and downs, but they are considerably moderated–nothing like the old days.

      I’ve been going through some changes in the last year-and-a-half or so, and I feel some ambivalence about them. I’ve cut back on my organizational involvements in order to have uninterrupted energy to devote to blogging, which has reduced my face-to-face interaction with people, which unfortunately has never a lot anyway. So there’s that “isolated writer” thing going on. But like they say, focus on your strengths, manage your weaknesses. Don’t try to excel at everything.

      I’m glad you support your daughter, Ed. I’m sure you know how destructive it is when parents reject their children. No matter how old they are, we make their lives easier when they know we love and accept them. And goodness knows life is struggle enough without that dark cloud of parental rejection hanging over you.

      Like

      • And I thought _I_ had it bad with our “fellow” United Methodists in the closed (!) Group on LinkedIn … *sigh*

        I’m not sure if we covered it before, but I am/was bipolar too … the longest 4½ months of my life! Thank God for lithium carbonate …

        Like

      • Ron Goetz says:

        Yeah, lithium was good, but I prefer Depakote–less deadening to the emotions, but still a good mood stabilizer.

        Like

  2. Elizabeth F. says:

    Hi Ron,

    I must tell you that your blogging has really been an encouragement to me. I left the Christian church many years ago. When I first left it was because of the position they were taking against women’s equality. It was so long ago, it seems almost unbelievable that women had to fight for their rights to be considered equal. Just recently I found out that the very same pastor who preached that women were not to preach in church has a daughter who became a minister!

    As my children grew older we discovered that my son was gay. My mother is of the old school Christian church, and as a result we were never able to talk about it with her. The few friends that I had maintained from my churchgoing days also found it difficult to find common ground with me. When I found your blog posts on the Canadian PFLAG facebook group I was drawn in. It has been years since I have read any sort of Christian discussion. I just found it all too hateful, and would make me feel depressed and angry. Your blogs give me hope.

    I haven’t gone back to church, but I do make a point of reading your blogs. The comments that people made about your blog posts make me realize that I still don’t want to go back to church and have to deal with all that negative energy. It is too draining. I thank God for you though, and your courage to stand up for what is right. Blessings on you and your family.

    Like

    • Remember that church happens wherever two or three are gathered together with the purpose of drawing closer to God! In the end, worship is about showing God His worth. It doesn’t have to be big and organised. However, if you do find yourself missing that, I’d encourage you to look for a welcoming and affirming church in your area. There are places and times for some to stay in a church and try to change it from within, but that isn’t everyone’s calling or ability. Do what’s best for your relationship with God.

      Like

  3. Ron Goetz says:

    I once went for a year without attending church. I think there are seasons when it’s necessary to leave, to recover and get a fresh perspective. And sometimes those seasons are permanent. Having people in your life is important, but church attendance in itself doesn’t guarantee anything–except where you might be found during certain hours of the week.

    Thanks for letting me know that you find something here that is meaningful, Elizabeth. That’s helpful and encouraging for me. I passed your blessings along to Diane and Jonathan, and they were pleased.

    Like

  4. Christiaan says:

    Ronald. I feel that your explanation of the situation is biased. Not even close to the entire story is being told. Also, you quoted 2 comments above that are mine. #2 and #4.

    Ronald, this “fundamentalist” website that you speak of is made up of many thousands of people throughout the world whose soul purpose is to glorify the Lord and bring revival.

    In this situation, you brought up a dead thread. You gave your remarks. You tried to back them up Biblically, and you were rebuked biblically. After many, many pages of people using “Biblical” examples of why your thesis of “Jesus and the 6 homosexuals” and the two men in a bed was incorrect, you refused to move from your stance, even after biblical evidence was given.

    So let me ask you Ronald, when someone joins a discussion to push an agenda (which is clearly forbidden by this sites admins), which in your case was the homosexual agenda, and refuses to cease, what should be done? When someone who claims that they foillow the Lord, but will not take biblical teachings and rebuke when they are proven wrong, what are people supposed to do by the Bibles standards?

    I will say Ronald, that you were very polite in your discussion, and I give you credit for this. You seem like you have a loving heart towards people, which is a great thing. But as long as you keep your stance, which is completely opposite of what scripture teaches, you should expect people to challange you. And if those challanges produce no results to show you the error of your ways, then people will continue to warn the sheep… of a wolf amongst them.

    Like

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