Housing Crisis for Sex Offenders

I am a guest columnist in today’s Utica Observer-Dispatch!

Many thanks to Dave Dudajek for doing me a favor and allowing me this slot.

Here is an excerpt:

When we as a society compare our sex offenders to garbage, we do the same thing to them that they did to us. In doing so, we stoop to their level and perpetuate the cycle of violence.

American society at large endorses such violence because no one is said to be more despicable than a sex offender. We seem to have made it OK to dehumanize and hate these people because of what they have done to others. We use them as scapegoats and a “dumping ground” for our own rage, frustration, and self-hatred. Again, we do to them what they did to us. We become what we judge.

With this housing crisis, I believe God is presenting us with an opportunity to rise above revenge and break the cycle of dehumanizing violence. We have a chance to stand in solidarity with Jesus, who ate with tax collectors and sinners, the scapegoats and “sex offenders” of his day and age.

Click here to read the full article

How You Say It

Greetings all!

This has been an amazing few months in my life.  In May, the Presbyterian Church (USA) amended their constitution to allow for the ordination of LGBT deacons, elders, and pastors.  Then, last week, New York became the sixth US state to legalize same-sex marriage.  My wife and I participated in demonstrations both inside and outside our state capitol building.

I also had the opportunity to speak on the local news about the upcoming vote in the senate.

Here is the link to that conversation.

On the Sunday after the vote passed, the same news station surprised us by showing up with cameras in hand at our morning worship service.

Click here to watch the video of the segment they did on our church.

The responses have been myriad and diverse.  Here are some words I would use to describe the responses:

Reaching out

Look carefully at this list.  It would be a mistake to assume that all the “positive” adjectives refer to those who agree with me and all the “negative” adjectives apply to those who think differently.  As a matter of fact, the list is mixed for a reason.  I could use several of these words to describe people on both sides of “this issue” (although I am loathe to call it that).

What speaks the most about us in times like these is how we respond, and not just the content of our response.  I have felt such compassionate support from those who passionately disagree with me.  I have also cringed at the hard-hearted self-righteousness of those who hold views similar to my own.

I will continue to hold onto the views I express in these articles because I believe them to be good and true.  I honestly believe that I am following (however imperfectly) the lead of the Holy Spirit and the message of the Bible as I take the course I have chosen.  I know that not all of you will agree with me.  I won’t ask you to change your mind unless you want to.  I will not enter into a Bible-quoting argument with you unless you truly want to understand how someone can read the Bible differently than you do.

I encourage you all, wherever you stand, to look at the character of your response to others.  Is it in keeping with the Spirit of Christ?  In your words and deeds, are you loving your neighbor as yourself?

What you say does not say so much as how you say it.