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.
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.
JAYNE TRAPNELL, Ringgold, Ga.
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: www.harvestusa.org.
DEBRA BATY, Rossville, Ga.
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
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.
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.
BEVERLY M. SHANKEN, Rocky Face, Ga.
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
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.
ELEANOR DELONG JOHNSON