SPIRITUALITY: From loving ‘the sinner’ to loving your sister

Evangelist Jay Lowder of Wichita Falls makes waves by preaching acceptance of gays

Lowder.Jay

ACCEPTING NOT JUDGING | Jay Lowder has gotten a lot of heat for his position that people should worry about their own sins rather than the sins of others. (Photo courtesy Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

WICHITA FALLS — Jay Lowder believes that no matter what, you should love and accept people. He calls the idea of loving the sinner and hating the sin hypocritical.

Lowder is an unlikely person to have those views. He is president and founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries

Evangelistic Association based in Wichita Falls and is married with three children.

Lowder knows his views — recently featured on ABC News — are out of the mainstream of evangelicals.

“I take some heat for it, and I really don’t care,” he said.

When he was 18, he said he got a call from a friend.

“Hey, Jay, there’s something you need to know,” Lowder said the caller told him. “You’re sister’s gay.”

He said that news was devastating for someone raised as he was.

Soon after receiving the news, he was driving. He said he saw his sister headed in the other direction. He made a U-turn and caught up with her.

“Harsh words were spoken,” he said. “I told her she was selfish and I hated her.”

She told him it was her life, and their relationship was severed.

“I became a Christian at 21,” Lowder said. “The moment I became a Christian, I no longer hated her.”
But his acceptance of his sister wasn’t qualified by the “love the sinner” philosophy common among fellow evangelicals.

He told her he was a Christian, that he had never accepted Christ before and was sorry about the way he acted toward her. He admitted he had been judgmental and rude.

“I wanted to be close,” he said. “I loved her.”

Lowder said Jesus didn’t denigrate people. He said Jesus didn’t say to Mary Magdalene, “You’re a whore.”

“He made her heart the issue,” Lowder said.

In describing himself as an evangelist, he called it “the height of insanity” to be driving people away from Christ.

“The purpose of what I do is not to alienate people,” he said. “It’s to know and have a relationship with Christ.”

He still holds his convictions, he said, but there’s a way to approach people. People who cling to the “love the sinner, hate the sin” line use colloquialisms that sound spiritual, he said — but they use them to hate people.

But he said that Jesus taught, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” So rather than focus on other people’s sins, he said, religious people should focus on their own sins.

“Pull the speck out of your own eye before you pull it out of anyone else’s,” he said. “If I tell a lie to my wife, that’s a sin. Breaking a commandment is breaking a

Jay Lowder

commandment.”

He believes the commandments regarding homosexuality are no more or less important than any others. And he believes there’s a line between trying to rectify a situation and pointing fingers.

“I could go to a heroine addiction clinic and tell them not to do it,” he said. “But I’ve never struggled with it.”

He used the blunt analogy but then makes it clear he doesn’t think his sister has some sort of addiction. He just wants to make it clear that he’s not going to be judgmental.

He said that a Christian’s primary responsibility is to love other people.

“Don’t go around bragging about loving God if you don’t love other people,” he said.

Which brings him back to talking about his sister who lives in Dallas.

Last Thanksgiving, he said that she came to Wichita Falls for Thanksgiving, for the first time in at least 15 years. He said the family reunion was such a happy event that they begged her to come back to spend Christmas with them.

“My sister was back,” he said. “My dad was at the kitchen table, and that was the first time I saw him cry.”

Today, he only describes his sister in glowing terms.

“You won’t find a better person in the city of Dallas than my sister,” he said.

And he said their relationship remains close.

“If something happened to her, I’d be the first one she’d call,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Photographer Blake Little talks more about his (very hot) photo book, ‘The Company of Men’

Tonight at Nuvo, photographer Blake Little will sign copies of his pictorial The Company of Men. The book includes photos of everyday men who you wish would show up on your Grindr and Scruff apps. Little talked to us a little more about how the book came to be, which we first wrote about here.

Interview with Little — and some more pictures — after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Equals? James Bond (or at least, Daniel Craig) dons drag for International Women’s Day

Tomorrow — Tuesday, March 8 — marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. And while some things have gotten better for women in the last century, some things haven’t changed. At least, they haven’t changed enough.

In honor of the 100th International Women’s Day, singer/activist Annie Lennox has brought together a coalition of  charities, that champion women’s rights to “step up the call to demand a more equal world.” The Equals? Partnership, according to its website, is “a partnership of charities and organizations that believe men and women are equals and that we should have equal rights, equal opportunities and equal representation in politics, education, health, employment, family life and media and culture.”

Here are some of the statistics from Equals? Partnership’s website: 1 in 3 women will experience violence at some point in their lives; women hold only 19 percent of the world’s parliamentary seats; only about 24 percent of the people in mainstream broadcast and print news are female; women perform 66 percent of the world’s work and produce 50 percent of the world’s food, but earn 10 percent of world’s income and own 1 percent of the world’s property.

Equals? Partnership has a number of events planned around the United Kingdom. But you don’t have to travel to the U.K. to see the coalition’s work. The coalition also has created this 2-minute video, using one of the world’s most macho fictional characters, James Bond, played by one of the most manly actors, Daniel Craig, to try and drive home the point that women still are not treated equally here in the 21st century.

According to the IWD website, there are 234 events planned in the United States to recognize International Women’s Day 2011. The first was held Jan. 12, and the last will be held in May. The only event I saw listed here in Dallas — in fact, the only event I saw listed in Texas — is Echo Reads: A Staged Reading and Salon Series which includes a staged reading of the new play by Isabella Russell-Ides called The Early Education of Conrad Eppler, happening March 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center, presented by Echo Theatre.

But of course, I already knew that the 9th annual Words of Women celebration will be held next Sunday, March 13, beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park. You can get all the details here.

But even if you don’t go to an official IWD event, take a minute to realize that no matter how civilized and advanced we consider ourselves to be, there still exists a vast chasm of inequities between the genders. It’s up to us — regardless what gender we are — to bridge that gap.

—  admin

WATCH: Bigots lash out at Mayor Annise Parker over appointment of Texas’ 1st transgender judge

On Thursday we reported that longtime activist Phyllis Randolph Frye had become the first transgender judge in Texas, after being appointed by Mayor Annise Parker. Well, just leave it to the Houston Area Pastors Council and the Fox affiliate to make an issue out of it:

The Houston Area Pastoral Council, which represents about 300 churches, has a big problem with the appointment. Executive Director Dave Welch says for years Frye has been undermining Texas marriage laws. He says the appointment confirms Mayor Parker, who is openly gay, is making her lifestyle a central part of her policy agenda.

“This is not just a benign act. This is someone (Frye) who is very well known as an aggressive activist on sexual diversity issues and very much against the mainstream of most of the people….As we all know municipal court judges are the first step in the elevation of different judgeships. They typically go on to civil district court judges or family court judges and beyond, so this is not a benign appointment. It’s a statement. It really is. We’ll be calling on the churches to stand up and be involved,” said Welch.

—  John Wright

Yet another gay teen suicide?

Alec Henriksen

Another teen who may have been gay has taken his own life — and this time he was from Utah, where a Mormon apostle just a few days ago called same-sex attraction “unnatural” and “impure” and said it can be changed.

We’ve long been saying on this blog that those in positions of power who spew homophobia have the blood of gay teen suicide victims on their hands — and we can only hope the reality of this will finally take hold in the mainstream.

PrideInUtah.com reports that 18-year-old Alec Henriksen, a Utah native who was a student at Earlham College in Indiana, was found dead on Sept. 30:

Alec Henriksen was a brilliant young computer programmer. And while suicide is always a terrible idea, I want to use his death as a call-to-action for anyone who cares for these young people. Please, help them. Love them for who they are. Put them in touch with the Trevor Project if possible.

PrideInUtah.com adds that the website from which it obtained the information about Henriksen’s suicide — and presumably about his sexual orientation — has since been taken down.

However, Instant Tea found this statement on the Earlham College website confirming Henriksen’s death. The statement says his body was found on property belonging to Earlham Cemetery, and that no foul play is suspected. We also found Henriksen’s obituary in the Salt Lake Tribune.

If it turns out that Henriksen was not gay, our point remains. And if he was gay but someone is trying to cover it up, it would be typical of how Mormon culture deals with gay teen suicide — which is a big problem in Utah.

If Henriksen was gay, his death would bring to at least six the number of gay teen suicides that have been reported nationwide in recent weeks. Of course, it’s safe to say the real number is considerably higher.

—  John Wright

Reemphasizing The Appropriate Ways For Mainstream Media To Reference Trans People

As we’re reading about how Victoria Carmen White was treated in death by officers of the law and mainstream media, it’s appropriate to remind our blenders what the media stylebooks state about reporting on transgender people, transsexuals, and those who identify as both transgender and transsexual.

From the Associated Press Styleguide (2006):

Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.

If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.

And the New York Times (2005):

Transgender is an overall term for people whose current identity differs from their sex at birth, whether or not they have changed their biological characteristics. Cite a person’s transgender status only when it is pertinent and its pertinence is clear to the reader. Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person. If no preference is known, use the pronouns consistent with the way the subject lives publicly.”

From the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Reference Guide:

Transition: Altering one’s birth sex is not a one-step process; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition includes some or all of the following personal, legal and medical adjustments: telling one’s family, friends and/or co-workers; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) one or more forms of surgery.

Sex Reassignment: Refers to surgical alteration, and is only one small part of transition . Preferred term to ‘sex change operation.’ Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS. Journalists should avoid overemphasizing the role of SRS in the transition process.

And…

Problematic: ‘sex change,’ ‘pre-operative,’ ‘post-operative’

Preferred: ‘transition’ Referring to a sex change operation, or using terms such as pre- or post-operative, inaccurately suggests that one must have surgery in order to transition. Avoid overemphasizing surgery when discussing transgender people or the process of transition.

Most of us are aware that reporters get information from police spokespeople, and often police spokespeople use terminology that doesn’t conform to journalism stylebooks — the “industry standards” for journalists. This doesn’t relieve reporters of the duty of checking the facts of what they’re told by the police; this doesn’t relieve reporters of the need to familiarize themselves with journalism standards regarding people in minority groups that a particular journalist may or may not be familiar with.

If the Maplewood Patch — as well as every other news organization in the country — doesn’t have a “transgender” section in their styleguide, they should consider adding one now. Transgender people, transsexuals, and people who identify as both transgender and transsexual — we’re all becoming more visible in broader western society. Recognized journalism standards regarding trans people and transgender community should be adopted by all journalism outlets across the United States.

To not adopt the journalism’s “industry standards” for reporting on trans people is to ensure that disrespect for violent crime victims like Victoria will continue to occur far too often well into the future.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Gibbs defends the President as ‘mainstream Christian’ after Glenn Beck accusations

Haven’t we been down this incredible path before? Why does it matter what Glenn Beck (or any one in the right-wing noise machine) says about the President’s faith or lack thereof? This is playing right into the hands of the fundies…again.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says President Barack Obama is a “committed, mainstream Christian” – contrary to the claims of Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck.

Beck recently claimed that Obama practices a version of Christianity that is not recognized by most people. Beck says this “liberation theology” is all about “oppressors” and “victims.”

And here’s the direct exchange from the White House Press Office transcript of today’s briefing.

Q    Robert, for the last four days, Glenn Beck has criticized the President for believing in liberation theology, which he calls a Marxist form of Christianity.  I’ve got two questions.  One, does the President, to your knowledge, even know what liberation theology is?

MR. GIBBS:  I don’t know the answer to that.  I will say this, Bill, a crude paraphrasing of an old quote, and that is people are entitled to their own opinion, as ill-informed as it may be, but they’re not entitled to their own facts.  The President is a committed mainstream Christian.  I don’t — I have no evidence that would guide me as to what Glenn Beck would have any genuine knowledge as to what the President does or does not believe.

Q    When is he going back to church?

Q    So this Marxist form of Christianity –

MR. GIBBS:  Again, I can only imagine where Mr. Beck conjured that from.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright