A Response to ‘The Truth Behind Bethel’s Gay Panic’

I attend Bethel and I wanted to write a response to R.V. Scheide’s article, “The Truth Behind Bethel’s Gay Panic” and the comments that have followed.

I moved to Redding in 2010 and was not completely aware of the controversy surrounding Bethel church.  I started to attend and found the church to be an incredible liberating place.  I was raised in your typical very conservative church with the stoic dogma of women must be submissive, gay is BAD etc…

Bethel has changed my perspective on women and done a lot of good for me in terms of helping me freely think.  The older I get the more I realize I really don’t know anything.  I am still a Christian, but I approach things differently now; understanding my perspective is one of many things (even among Christians, even among Christians at Bethel).

Each person with same-sex desires must make a choice.  Accept those desires and allow them to play out, or manage those desires in a way they do not play out.  I do not believe I should make that choice for them. If you are under 18 I believe your guardian should help you make that choice. If you are over 18 then you should be able to make that choice yourself, free from social pressures or the fear of being ostracized.

In our society someone trying to figure out what same-sex attraction means for them it is likely going to be a difficult process.  Regardless of whether you think same sex attraction is a sin, or perfectly normal/natural, our goal should be to help a person working through this to feel loved and accepted.  Our goal should NOT be to push our perspective on them, or in anyway communicate, “If you disagree with me then you aren’t (loved and accepted)”.

To Kris Vallotton and Bethel leadership, if you want to make a comment on something in the realm of politics, that is your legal right.  But I would encourage you to speak with a measure of political astuteness that does not bring down widespread condemnation.  Not everyone shares your worldview, so why unnecessarily offend?  Those offended by your worldview have likely lost your message.

Why not just say: “We offer services for people working to control their sexual desires.  These services are provided to those who seek them out.  There are some laws being considered that may make it illegal for us to provide these services to those who have same sex attraction.  We believe this is a violation of their rights.  Please consider contacting your representative about the following etc…”

As someone who has great admiration, respect and love for the gay members of our community, I am extremely dismayed at how you have approached this publicly.  Is your desire to bring healing, or bring division?  I would strongly encourage you to apologize to your congregation and to your community. There is a way to hold and espouse your worldview while not ostracizing the community you are trying to serve.

To those advocating for LGBT+ rights.  Understand that directing all your scorn and anger at Bethel will not help bring about the change you want.  It is easy to target Bethel because they have the loudest voice, but Redding is a very conservative area in general.  My guess is a good number of other churches feel the same way as Bethel and a good number of people who follow this topic feel the same way.

Please understand some people who have a different worldview than you will want to bring their dependent to counselling services that you wouldn’t pick for your dependents.  Some adults with a different worldview than yours would choose counselling services for themselves that you would not.  You certainly don’t want them to force their counselling services on you. What makes it OK for you to force yours on them?

Can we not all just be a respecter of persons?  If someone wants to get counselling because their worldview tells them same sex attraction is a sin, can’t we just be encouraging and love them through that process?  If their worldview tells them it was OK to act out their same sex desires ,why can’t we tell them (and more importantly, show them!) we will love them just the same?

I assure you Jesus won’t be loving them any less.

James Crockett is a high school teacher and college instructor.  He teaches economics, government, and life skills.  He lives in Redding with his wife and three children.

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