The Truth about Homosexuality – as I see it

September 16, 2009

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) recently determined that homosexual pastors should be permitted to be pastors of churches as long as they are in long-term committed relationships, and their congregations want them to be their pastors.

That has about half of the Lutherans of the ELCA upset. Many of them continue to believe that homosexuality is an abomination (according to the Bible) and such people should repent or be thrown out of the church regardless of whether they are pastors or simply members of the congregation.

A few years ago my bride and I attended the weekend conference of the Southeastern Synod. The subject of homosexuals was a major part of the discussions and we heard some extremely impassioned speeches on both sides of the issue.

From my perspective, the people who were most strongly against gays in our midst were people who had not made the distinction between homosexuality and pedophilia.

As a young man, I failed to make that distinction as well. In fact, I was ignorant in regards to both, and that ignorance almost got me thrown out of college.

During my first semester, I and a group of other young men were invited to join a group sponsored by our English professor. During our first gathering at his home, he explained how one of his professors had taken him and some fellow classmates under his wing and taught them some basic social skills that he found very useful later in life. He was simply passing on the favor.

He also freely passed around the alcoholic beverages. Of course, each was a specific type of cocktail. He was teaching us what to expect when we ordered such drinks – when we became old enough to drink legally! Most of us had never tasted anything other than beer. So this was a good thing… or so we thought.

The professor also served us various sorts of finger foods and taught us the proper way to balance our glasses and appetizer plates.

This went on about twice monthly. There were six or seven of us in his group. Then, he announced that he would invite each of us to come alone and he would serve dinner. His explanation – he couldn’t afford to feed us all at once.

When my turn came, I found an invitation had been slid under the door of my dormitory room. The professor admonished me to not tell anyone where I was going because that might cause my friends to be jealous. At that point, I felt a strange sensation in the pit of my stomach. Something didn’t seem right, but I didn’t know what it was.

I confided in a friend and told him if he didn’t see me in the morning, to come looking for me. Then, I went off for my appointment.

The professor immediately offered me alcoholic beverages and I refused. I lied and said my stomach had been upset. We then sat down to a very nice gourmet dinner. Later, he explained that it was probably too late for me to return to campus and invited me to spend the night. When he told me I’d have to sleep in the same bed as he and I could wear some of his silk pajamas. I lied again. I told him I’d made prior arrangements to spend the night with a friend who rented an apartment off campus.

Believe it or not, I still had no idea what was motivating that man. Growing up, my friends and I had often called each other ‘queer’, but to me, it was simply something kids called each other.

It wasn’t until I found myself sitting in the Dean of Men’s office that I learned the true meaning of the term. Someone had reported the professor who was immediately fired for serving alcohol to minors. But they also knew he was homosexual and they wanted to know what went on between me and him.

I told the Dean of Men exactly what happened. Then, I asked what exactly did homosexuality mean. I’m sure the look on my face as he explained some facts of life to me made him realize I was being totally truthful.

As a result of that experience, I came to distrust anyone who displayed the slightest hint of homosexual behavior and mannerisms. As I saw it, that professor was preying on my innocence. In my mind, that had to be what all homosexuals do.

I should also point out one other thing that happened to me when I was young. In fact, this event took place when I was very young. I was in the first or second grade and walking to school when I men pulled up beside me and offered me a ride. I had no idea who he was, and had been repeatedly warned by my parents. I ran up on the porch of the nearest house and began banging on the door. The stranger quickly drove away.

Now, that I’m grown (and hopefully a little wiser) I realize that the man who offered me a ride was a pedophile. He may or may not have been homosexual. He might have been a married heterosexual with children of his own. But he, like all other pedophiles, preyed on small children.

And that is the first point of my argument. Gays are not necessarily pedophiles. My college professor was ‘courting’ me and the others. He saw us as attractive young men and was hoping to win at least one of us over. When I gave my feeble excuses, he accepted them and let me leave without any trouble. A pedophile would have forced himself on me.

At that Synod meeting, most of the arguments against gays insinuated that gays are pedophiles. If we are ever to treat homosexuals with the respect they deserve, we have to make a clear distinction between being gay and being a pedophile.

This does not mean I don’t have adverse feelings about gay pride parades and the like. The ‘flaming’ behavior is not something I appreciate in any group. I don’t like the ‘in your face’ attitude coming from any minority group. If you want to be treated as equals, act like the majority of us act. With all minority groups, I think they should have every right that the rest of us have – nothing more and nothing less. Some of these groups, however, seem to want more. But that’s a debate for another day.

Now, allow me to share another personal note. I have lots of relatives, but I want to focus on two. One is an openly gay man and the other is a less than open drug addict. We continue to hope that the drug addict is recovering, but he has told so many lies in the past that it’s difficult to believe anything he says.

The gay relative is living in a committed relationship. He and his partner are also business partners and run a very successful enterprise. He is a joy to be around and one of the most loving individuals I know. He would give anyone the shirt off his back without hesitation.

With the drug addict, the opposite is true. One time he was arrested for shop lifting. He had his toddler daughter with him and was using her to distract the storekeeper. It didn’t work. Imagine the heartbreak of that child watching her daddy being arrested.

Which of these men are worthy members of society? Which of them gives me the greatest pride? Is there any doubt what my answer to both questions would be?

Many people point to the Bible and say that homosexuality is an abomination. Most of that is reflected in the writings of the Apostle Paul. And many Biblical scholars believe that Paul was homosexual. He often reflected on his sinfulness without stating specifically what his affliction was.

Paul was not married. In the Jewish culture of the time, an unmarried man was very uncommon. That’s why some scholars believe that Jesus may have been married; otherwise, he might not have been able to build the following he amassed.

While the Greek and Roman cultures of the time had no problem with homosexuality (and pedophilia for that matter), the Jewish culture thought otherwise. Thus, Paul had to keep his secret to himself.

Finally, science has proven that homosexuality is not the result of a conscious decision. The genetic make-up of gays indicates that they were born that way. If one truly believes that God does not make mistakes, the thought of an abomination seems rather absurd.

Neal Boortz, a radio talk show host that people either love or love to hate, has a standard retort to callers who insist gays consciously make the decision to be gay. He simply asks them, “When did you decide to be heterosexual?” If we all must ask ourselves whether we want to be gay or straight, when did we make that decision? I think it is a perfectly fair question. Since no straight person can answer it honestly any more than a gay can, we should accept the fact that we are genetically programmed one way or the other.

In summary, would it bother me to have a gay pastor? No. Would it bother me to have a pedophile as a pastor? You bet! I would run that second guy – or gal – out of town on a rail… after applying a liberal amount of tar and feathers.

Vegas Style Health Care Insurance

September 7, 2009

How many of us truly understand the business of insurance? I know a lot of people (especially those who want to see the government get into the health care insurance business) don’t seem to have a grasp for the basics. So, let me see if I can help.

When a person buys car insurance, he or she is betting that he or she is going to have an accident and wants someone else to be responsible for the repair bills. Conversely, the insurance company that sells the policy is betting that the car will not be in an accident.

It is simple arithmetic. If the car owner pays $1,500 a year to insure the car and nothing happens, the insurance company makes $1,500. If the car is in an accident, the insurance company loses money.

Now, if a person went to Vegas and waited for the roll of the dice before placing his or her bet, the person running the table would not allow it. If you want to gamble, you must play by the rules.

So, if a person bought a $40,000 luxury car and waited until he or she had an accident before trying to buy insurance, he or she would be told to go pound salt. A car insurance company will not cover a pre-existing condition.

That would be like trying to buy life insurance for a person who has already been embalmed.

Going back to the original example, the car being insured for $1,500 a year could easily cost several thousand to repair. Therefore, the insurance company has to hedge its bets by selling policies to as many people as possible. For every car that is in an accident, they hope to have hundreds that are not.

So, what’s so different about health care insurance. As far as gambling is concerned, it’s basically the same. The person buying the policy is betting that he or she will have a medical problem that will cost a lot of money. The insurance company is betting that the policy holder will live a long and healthy life.

While no one seems to have a problem with the drivers of luxury cars paying more for their car insurance than the folks driving the compact economy cars, lots of folks seem troubled with the idea of health insurance companies charging more for people who are overweight or have bad habits like smoking and drinking.

And heaven forbid that the health insurance company doesn’t want to take on the expense of a person with a pre-existing condition!

There are two factors that lead to people trying to buy health insurance when they have a pre-existing condition. The first occurs when a person changes jobs or moves to another state. Because of the laws (that can easily be changed) not all insurance companies can sell insurance in every state, and different employers use various companies. The HIPAA law is supposed to insure portability. It does not. So, let’s fix HIPAA!

The other cause of the pre-existing conditions problem is the people who don’t believe they need health insurance. Once again, there are folks who refuse to believe the uninsured would be uninsured on purpose. Maybe they should look at the number of uninsured motorists who, by law, are supposed to have insurance. Those folks buy it and keep it long enough to get their licenses renewed. Then they stop making the payments.

Granted, there are many people who simply cannot afford to insure their cars or their health. Many would much rather spend the money on more important things like cigarettes and iPods.

Until we reach our mid-twenties, most of us feel we are immortal. Many of us don’t even think about health insurance until we get married. For many, the move to get insured comes too late to have that first baby’s birth covered.

If a twenty-four year old suddenly has severe health problems and is diagnosed with a long term chronic illness, should an insurance company be forced to sell him or her a policy even though it’s clear they will only lose money on that person?

That’s not a gamble. That’s a route directly to bankruptcy.

This is where I agree the government should be involved. They should either insist that everyone be insured (and that the companies can not drop them for any reason), or step up and pay the medical bills for the immortal souls that saw no need for spending money on health insurance.

As for those who truly cannot afford to buy health insurance, the first thing that should be checked is their status as citizens of the United States. If they are properly documented, let tax payer money be used to pay for their insurance – with the private company of their choice.

Let’s stop painting the insurance companies as the enemy and put the blame where it properly belongs. Our professional politicians could fix this problem any time they want. But as long as it goes without being fixed, they’ll always have a platform for the next election.

Ramblings for September 2nd of ’09

September 2, 2009

A friend recently sent me a photo of a swine flu victim.

The curse of the flu

The curse of the flu

Perhaps I’ll get the shot after all.

A few years back I got a shot to protect me from getting shingles. That’s one shot that I’ll never know if it worked. However, if it doesn’t work, I’ll be sure to know.

Which brings me to the thought that continues to bug me every time I hear someone defend the government’s plan for reforming health care.

I’ll preface my remarks by saying I agree that there are parts of our nation’s health care system that definitely need reformed. For instance, portability of insurance across state lines to make it more competitive and affordable.

I also believe the government should use our tax dollars to take care of people with pre-existing conditions. And that’s about all.

Anyone who believes the government can take over the entire health industry is living in la-la land.

Look at the track record. The Postal Service cannot exist without massive tax-payer subsidies. The VA hospitals are in the same boat. Social Security is already broke – that ‘lock box’ is filled with I.O.U.s from a government that is borrowing money from China. Medicare is also going broke.

What else does our government run? The military. Yes, I agree that we have the best trained and equipped military on the face of the earth. However, how many of our tax dollars that go to support that military are being wasted on a daily basis?

There is no doubt in my mind that if our military was run by private businesses, the costs would be far less.

And getting back to Medicare. Millions of dollars are being lost due to fraud and incompetence on the part of the politicians who are supposed to be overseeing the funding. In Washington, such lackadaisical behavior is met with a firm slap to the wrist. In private business, ineptitude would be met with a pink slip.

Our federal government and most state governments have proven time and time again that they do not know how to run a business of any kind. Whether the plan was for a non-profit enterprise or not, that’s how it ends up. Refer to the tax payer support required to keep our mass transit systems alive.

Congress and the President should stick to what they can do well – set regulations to force insurance companies and health providers to be more competitive and find ways to reduce costs. In the meantime, set up procedures to insure that all legal American citizens can receive health care as needed – using tax dollars if necessary – but not by forcing private insurance companies to intentionally take on policy holders that will sap more money out of the company than they could ever put in.

I just recognized an analogy. The government is that patient with the pre-existing condition that is sapping the tax payers for more than the tax payers could ever hope to get in return.

It’s time to heal that pre-existing condition by replacing the professional politicians with true representatives of the people.