published Thursday, June 28th, 2012

"Article avoided discussion of sin" and other Letters to the Editors

Article avoided discussion of sin

Joan Garrett's article (June 24) on Matt Nevels' loss of his son to AIDS was sensitive, moving and well- written. But it wasn't balanced and fair to those who disagree with Nevels' opinion. It lacked a clear and sympathetic argument for seeing homosexual behavior as sinful.

All of us are sinful and need to have our sinfulness pointed out to us. To tell someone his sin is part of his identity and God cannot or need not cleanse him of it is neither charitable nor gracious. Jesus Christ, who was the embodiment of God's compassion, said, "Anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19, TNIV).

The church has taught for millennia that homosexual activity is sinful. The church can, of course, get things wrong, but our culture's notion that it's somehow more charitable to approve of homosexual activity is based more on our desire to construct a morality that appeals to us than on a desire to understand the compassion and grace of God as it is revealed in Scripture.

DR. CLIFFORD FOREMAN, Lookout Mountain, Ga.

It's not OK to shoot a bird of prey

As a long-time birder, I was saddened and dismayed to read Dalton Roberts' column on how to protect your yard birds from danger (June 26). His noting that he shot a Cooper's hawk with a BB gun is not only stunning to me, but illegal. Nature provides a balance, and part of that balance is having raptors who do, yes, unfortunately sometimes eat other birds. This keeps the bird population in check. Hawks are a protected species, Mr. Roberts, just like songbirds, and a hawk hunting prey is simply doing what they are hardwired to do. Trapping feral cats is one thing, but it's never OK to shoot a bird of prey, period.


Sexual orientation counsel available

I'm writing in response to Joan Garrett's article printed in the Sunday, June 24, edition, titled "A tempest in my soul: A son's secret brings a Southern Baptist minister to his knees."

The article was well-written and brought across the hardship of the Nevels family in their time of loss. I am thankful that Stephen was able to be surrounded by loving family and friends before his death and saddened for the loss of the Nevels family.

The matter of same-sex attraction is complex and hard to understand. I have had a different journey, having found my own same-sex attractions to be in conflict with my faith in Christ.

Years ago in Philadelphia, I was able to find help at a ministry called Harvest USA, directed by a man who is from Chattanooga. Through many years and struggles, I found that changes in one's orientation are difficult, but not impossible.

I don't know if Dr. Steelman ever mentioned this to his congregation, but the same ministry that helped me also has a branch office in Chattanooga. Those who wish to learn more can visit their website:

DEBRA BATY, Rossville, Ga.

Change of view shows capitulation

Joan Garrett's story (June 24) about the Nevels family was written with sympathy and compassion for their crisis. It pointed out the deeper issue of the immorality of homosexual behavior and its divisive power. When the Baptist church allowed the funeral to be held there, and gave over the officiating of the services, they demonstrated the true meaning of mercy and toleration.

However, Matt Nevels' change of view based on love for his son demonstrates not mercy and toleration, but acceptance and endorsement of a lifestyle he once opposed as immoral. While the pressure to do this is understandable, it is capitulation, not unbiased listening to Scripture.

When God saw that the man was alone He made a suitable companion for him, a woman. Jesus used this to define marriage. Sex has a divine purpose. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and rule over it." This "blessing" is for those who enter into sexual relationships that are approved by God. Approval of homosexual relationships only distances us from the blessing and glory of God.

Dr. Steelman's teaching is correct. The pain such teaching causes is due to the resistance to it, not its fallacy.

GREG NANCE, Signal Mountain

Pair conveniently abbreviate quote

Columnists Charles Krauthammer (June 25) and Cal Thomas (June 22) conveniently left out the rest of what President Obama said about immigration. After his initial remarks saying in essence that "he cannot change laws unilaterally," etc., he went on to say that "The notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things is just not true. What we can do is to prioritize enforcement -- since there are limited enforcement resources -- and say, we're not going to go chasing after this young man or anybody else who has been acting responsibly, and would otherwise qualify for legal status if the DREAM Act passed."

So, he did exactly what he said he was going to do, prioritize enforcement. Why did Krauthammer and Thomas neglect to print Obama's entire quote? Because otherwise they cannot inflame their right wing followers?

TOMMY HEWITT, Sewanee, Tenn.

Beware the use of 'selective editing'

Might I suggest that you clean up your own backyard before you spout off about someone's else's? I am referring to the cartoon of Andrea Mitchell on the Free Press editorial page June 22, titled "Selective Editing."

Talk about selective editing, I don't know how many times my husband has caught your editorials using distorted facts, omitting all the facts pertinent to the subject or just plain outright lies, and he has called you on it many times. Gathering from the information in some of your editorials, one might get the impression that you get your information from the National Enquirer or MAD magazine.


Story should aid our understanding

Congratulations and many thanks to The Chattanooga Times Free Press, to Matt and Frances Nevels and to Joan Garrett for your courage in allowing the story, "Tempest in my soul," to appear on Sunday's (June 24) front page. The article is written with great sensitivity and should help advance our understanding and compassion for individuals born with their own special mixture of genes.

CLARE HALE, Signal Mountain

DeGaetano would serve us well

I am writing to ask for your vote for Joe DeGaetano for Sessions Court judge on Aug. 2. Joe has been a friend of our family for over 25 years. During that time I have found him to be a kind, hard-working and caring person of great integrity, loyalty and professionalism.

I feel that we as citizens of Hamilton County would do well to have such a person serving us in our judicial system. I will be casting my vote for Joe on Aug. 2 and ask that you consider doing so as well.


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Sirmichael said...

I, personally just retired from the Chattanooga Police Dept. after 26 years of service. What! You say? You remember the mayor and the police brass tell the public how they value veteran officers?      I know your familiar with the term "thin blue line". The blue line at the CPD is a mile thick and it divides the officers from the brass that's down a long hallway in carpeted locked offices behind card entry doors the officers don't have card keys to even enter.      My point is this. When you get the public willing to demand more from the elected politicians for it's police and fire, your fight to get the sworn politicians hidden away behind their locked doors should be a tad easier.      This veteran sees a vindictive group behind those doors. Don't just take my word for it, ask officer David Ashley. A hero that stopped Sgt. Chapin's murderer. When a police dept. has an officer(s) involved in such a life changing event, it's common courtesy to honor them when they request to get off the streets, not ignore them. That's a grudge. That's not how brothers in blue treat one another, rather it's the haves and the have nots in that place.     One unappreciated veteran has left the building.

Michael Burns

June 28, 2012 at 6:37 a.m.
ebenji87 said...

Ken, why are you automatically associating homosexuals with NAMBLA? Those are two completely seperate things. One is a ridiculous, disgusting organization that tries to normalize child abuse. The other is a group of people who are just trying to live their lives like anyone else and find the right person to spend their life with. See the difference? Two consenting adults versus an adult and a child who is not old enough to consent. I despise how most anti-gay conservatives always try to make a connection between child molestation, bestiality and homosexuality. Completely ridiculous and unfounded accusations.

June 28, 2012 at 7:53 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

I'm convinced that you are gay, Mr. Orr, and it scares you to death.

June 28, 2012 at 8:54 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Ken, your bad experiences on an individual level do not, by proxy, damn the rest of the world to the confines of your personal hell.

The same applies to all of us.

I ask you to consider the profound implications of perspective.

June 28, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

I am sorry to hear of your past, Ken, but you are still WRONG to equate homosexuality with child abuse. You are still WRONG to ask that gays give up their full rights as citizens. You are still WRONG to imply that HIV/AIDS is a problem exclusive to homosexual men. Get help.

June 28, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

Debra Baty, I truly feel sorry for you. It is obvious that you are still struggling with your sexual identity and you have let yourself be hoodwinked by self-righteous mental midgets, like Ken Orr and his ilk, into believing that you are a "sinner" for nothing more than having biological urges that are as natural to you as the air you breathe. You have let yourself succumb to the lies and the fears and the hate of people who know no more about God or the afterlife than you or me or anyone alive. The only things they think they know are what they WANT to know - whatever suits their limited and limiting concepts of heaven, hell, God, etc. They cling to a book that is nothing but a composite of primitive myths and they don't have the god-given common sense to decipher realtiy from fairy tales. Yet you have let yourself be "guided" by these pitiful lost souls and you yourself are so desirous of believing the same BS as they do that you are a lost soul yourself.

This behavioral modification therapy that you speak of is a disgusting practice that should be outlawed. The only way it can "succeed" is for the individual who succumbs to it to completely deny their urges and repress them so strongly that he/she thinks they are somehow "cured." But the truth is that those urges will never go away because they are who you are, and the only way you can conform to the ways of those self-righteous relgious derelicts you are trying so hard to please is to keep suppressing them and to live a lie for you entire life, pretending to desire someone that you do not, or else resorting to a life of unwanted celibacy in order to keep yourself from acting out on your urges - urges that might seem unnatural and "sinful" to your Christian taliban but are completely natural for you. Thus your entire life will be one of denial of who you really are, a woman so out of touch with her feelings and her true self that you will go through life an empty shell.

I pity you for being a victim in their Nazi-like campaign of soul cleansing. And I pity you for being as weak minded and lost as those who are trying to "save" you.

June 28, 2012 at 10:23 a.m.
Leaf said...

Man, I can't read Jahchild's posts. What's with capitalizing Every Single Word? It doesn't make the content make any more sense, you know.

June 28, 2012 at 11:53 a.m.
LibDem said...

"All of us are sinful and need to have our sinfulness pointed out to us." It's good, Dr. Foreman, that your god has given you these broad labeling powers (with pointing privileges even). And, Mr. Nance, if one's love for a child isn't stronger than an old book, one has deep problems.

June 28, 2012 at 12:38 p.m.
Sean_Dickerson said...

The 501-c-3 "churches" have already signed the spiritual divorce papers with God when they accepted the Supreme Court's decision to take prayer out of public schools back in 1962. The Holy Spirit soon left the sanctuaries. The Holy Spirit especially left since 52 million babies have been murdered in the womb since 1973, when the "churches" failed to do anything to try and stop that from becoming legal. No, they were too busy going to their ballgames or watching soap operas. This is the mark of a dying church. The fate of the nation has become so, due to a dying church. So if anything, I am permitted by Christ to LEAVE such a congregation, as complacent and apathetic it has turned out to be. THEY ARE HEATHENS! INFIDELS!

The reason Jesus sat down at the table to eat dinner, fellowshipping with the moneychangers and heathens is because He was giving them a chance to repent. He was trying to plant the seed.

The "churches" of today would possibly not want me there with them any more than they wanted Jesus there with them at the synagogues.

If I were to go into one of the metropolitan community churches here (such as that one in East Lake on Foust Street), and point out in the Bible where it says that man shall not lay with another man, as he does with a woman, what do you think they would most likely do? They would most likely rebel against that probably throw me out of their church especially if they have folks there who are sodomites, even as ministers. They might even call the cops. Maybe even the Thought Police, I don't know. But we already know that the churches went in the closet, as the queers came out. Perhaps I would be breaking King Obama's law.

They hate what is in the Bible, anyway. They also despise the real Jesus.

June 28, 2012 at 2:45 p.m.
Sean_Dickerson said...

We have failed as the "Church". It's already over for many of us.

The nation has yet to ever repent in masses.

We are all going to be tried and tested during the difficult times and rough road ahead of us, and we will see who remains strong and endures until the end. God will see who His real followers are and how much they remain trustful to Him and who love and serve Him. Very soon, maybe even this year, when we are all facing the Great Tribulation, there will be those many people who have stayed in their comfort zones that will be unprepared when the bottom drops out, both physically, mentally, AND spiritually.

I believe it's simply a two-way street. There is no "middle-of-the-road" here. There is NO MODERATION. There is either GOOD -- or there is EVIL. No "in-between" about it, either, folks. Anything else is compromise. And I don't care how much the lines have been blurred between good and evil when it comes to all the humanism being taught everywhere. I don't care what Universalism teaches people. It leads souls to Hell. I know there is either good or there's evil -- one or the other. There is no straddling the fence. There is no being lukewarm for me (Revelation 3:15).

If we were still a godly, moral society, we would do what it says in the Declaration of Independence, and that is to overthrow a government that has become a tyranny. But we don't have a God-fearing society anymore. Not one that I can think of! Not one that I could observe!

Most folks are not even aware that they are part of a global community now! They are being used like pawns on a chess board. They are being played like a chess game! The Devil has psyched them out, and as a result, they've fallen prey to his devices. These soothsayers in the apostate churches have capitalized on Jesus Christ. They've been doing this ever since they killed him. That's all it has really been about for the New World-ers. They've watered down the concept of Christianity and have reformed it into something more plastic or homogenized. The term "Christian" has become one that has been so loosely used anymore, ladies and gentlemen. It seems that anything can now be qualified as "Christian", very much like anything can now be called a "church". But these heathens out there go to these pagan places of which I refuse to ever align myself with, and never will again, long as I can help it. Jesus was a free thinker. He loved freedom. He loved liberty. And he loved Spirit. He was also against demons, etc. His ideas were obscure to those who killed Jesus. He was accused of being a menace, just like his true followers were, and even today.

June 28, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.
dao1980 said...

Watch out folks, he's a hysterical snake handlin' preach monger, and a flighty fuss-n-runner.

June 28, 2012 at 3:12 p.m.
Sean_Dickerson said...

Goodbye America. Rest in peace.

June 28, 2012 at 4:12 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Sean, it's time for you to go. You clearly don't like this country, so move to a theocracy. Iran is nice this time of year.

June 28, 2012 at 5:29 p.m.
DBaty said...

Dear Rickaroo, (Cool name, man.) As you don't know me, I'm not sure how you could come to the conclusions that you did about my life.
Fortunately, I'm not like Ken Orr, and I don't associate any of the gay men I know as members of NAMBLA. (I'm sorry, Mr. Orr that you went through that experience in your life - terrible. Not all gay men are like that, by a long shot. I'm glad that you've been able to forgive and move on with you life.) And, no, I didn't seek change in my orientation in order to please other people. One's motivation in seeking change is one of the keys to the whole process. It took a long time, and the Lord has brought you a long way. I don't hang out with any "self-righteous derelicts" as you put it. No, just regular people.
But how could I convince you of that if you're writing this outline of my life and we've never met? In a way, are you making the same kind of judgement call as Mr. Orr has?

June 28, 2012 at 5:58 p.m.
DBaty said...

Ooops - typo! I meant to write "the Lord has brought me a long way..." My apologies for the error.

June 28, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.

BEVERLY M. SHANKEN, oh man selective quoting and editing? From this paper? Never could imagine that!

June 29, 2012 at 12:20 a.m.

The problem is your posting style isn't very good at encouraging discussion, it makes your posts harder to read and quite bombastic. It is not conducive to a good discussion with anybody when posting in the fashion you have.

You really shouldn't try to defend it as acceptable. It'd be like the people who said "but e. e. cummings did it" so they should too.

They really shouldn't.

And don't be so concerned about literal definitions, as you are missing the point, which was that your terminology was not dialogue-friendly as a whole. Not just the single words, but the whole sentences and paragraphs.

Sometimes it's how the parts add up rather than the parts themselves.

I can see how other people were explaining their objections to you poorly though, so I understand how you might be confused.

June 29, 2012 at 12:55 a.m.

I have my doubts, but let's see how you put it into practice.

June 29, 2012 at 1:57 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

DBaty...No, I am not making the "same kind of judgment call as Mr. Orr" - not even close. I am not accusing you or anyone of committing a sin that is considered to be a stain upon your soul or whatever; nor do I believe in a God who condemns his own children to a place called hell for the mere "sin" of non-belief. I don't profess to be going to any better place than you or anyone else after dying and I don't profess to be any holier than someone else, or that I am "saved" and someone else is not. If I call out someone for being ignorant because they do not exercise the simple logic of a 12-yr. old in seeing the obvious (that the Bible is not a literal historical narrative infused with the perfect word of God but a composite of primitive myths) then I am merely stating a fact: they lack the capacity to reason and are therefore ignorant, either willfully so or they have been hopelessly brain-washed.

Most Christians act like little children clinging to a security blanket, in need of believing in their fairy tale so that they don't have to deal with the very real aspect of death and nothingness. There is nothing wrong with believing in whatever gives one comfort and peace of mind in this life of uncertainty, pain and suffering. But when Christian neanderthals keep spreading the word that others who do not share their beliefs are “sinners” and are going to hell, then they cease to be respected for their beliefs and they deserve instead to be scorned and lambasted for their arrogance and their insistence on perpetuating fear and lies. If you want to claim that I am being judgmental, then so be it. I admit that I do fall prey to the human weakness of judging other people. But at least my judgment calls are centered within the context of reality and I don't make exaggerated claims that some God of the universe is backing me up as I point out to other people their sins that that God does not approve of.

So, I beg to differ. I am not making the same kind of judgment call as Mr. Orr, or any other bible-thumping christian, for that matter.

June 29, 2012 at 2:35 p.m.
Rickaroo said...


As for what led you to undergo the re-conditioning therapy, or whatever you want to call it, that you underwent and are perhaps still undergoing, I don't believe that I need to know your whole life's story to make a comment on it. This behavior modification therapy that some Christians are touting as a “curative” for homosexuality, with the sole intent of changing or suppressing one's sexual orientation, is misguided and cruel, doing much more harm in the long run than good. If you are so confused that you don't understand or don't want to accept your sexual orientation, then I am very sorry for your confusion, and some form of more traditional therapy or counseling would probably be a good thing for you. But you have obviously drunk deep of the christian kool-aid in viewing homosexuality as a "sin" that is in need of cleansing, and that is lamentable. It all stems from the insane notion of "original sin" that you Christians believe in. If you would dispense with that cruel and silly concept and accept that we are all perfect just as we are (and by perfect, I do not mean in an absolute sense, but perfect in our imperfections) then there could be a lot of guilt, self-hate, and inner conflict dispelled almost instantly. One of the greatest harms that most Christians inflict is to create needless division by looking at themselves and everyone around them as being “saved” or “unsaved.” There can be no real love or acceptance of others as long as the mind perpetuates such conflict and illusory division within itself.

As for your comment that "the Lord has brought (you) a long way," well, believe in your invisible lord if you want to, but there is no power that your "Lord" has that you in your mind did not give to him in the first place. The Lord, God, heaven, hell, sin, the devil...they are all in the mind and are as ephemeral as the stuff that our sleeping dreams are made of.

I don't usually engage in one-on-one back-and-forths with posters on this site. It almost always devolves to opinionated tug-of-wars that go nowhere. And yes, I am as opinonated as anyone. But you gave a thoughtful – though inaccurate, I think – response to my comments and I felt that it deserved yet another response from me. If you feel compelled to offer still another response, then go for it. But I have said all that I care to on the subject. Peace.

June 29, 2012 at 3:09 p.m.
Easy123 said...


Bravo! You hit the nail on the head. I agree with every point you have made. It is encouraging to know that there are others in Chattanooga that share my sentiments toward religion. I feel like a man without a country sometimes! Great post!

June 30, 2012 at 1:48 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Ken Orr (who again posted the same thing on multiple threads) Many of us don't derive our "truth" from a bible. This is a free country, thankfully (at least for now) and many of us choose to adhere to the constitution, not an old text written by many with contradictions and falsehoods.

June 30, 2012 at 6:55 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

Thanks, Easy. It's refreshing to get some positive feedback.

I know exactly what you mean about feeling alienated, here in the Bible belt. I have lived in other places where Christianity is not so much in your face as it is here, where it's more common to think and speak freely among others about life and its meaning outside the narrow confines of the Christian mindset. But here, I often shake my head in disbelief, just thinking about how absurd it is to be having arguments with people who still cling to primitive fairy tales to explain life and the meaning of our existence. Of course, the Dark Age Christians are to be found everywhere - it's just that there there is such an abundance of them here, all concentrated in a smaller area. I love many aspects of living in the South, but having to endure the constant presence, and oftentimes even the onslaughts, of the Bible thumpers, is not what I consider to be one of the finer points of southern living.

June 30, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.
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