Homosexuality

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Brian » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:19 pm

Esther; I am sorry if I offended in any way regarding the opening lines of the Bible. I didn't phrase it properly.

Fortnox; A massive majority of people on this forum site are in some way disabled and my impressions I get from your posts is that you want a perfect world. well that will never happen since 1 in 8 people in the world are dyspraxic. Its how people live their life is the most important if they contribute to society in some way they have a right to be treated equally regardless of their disability. If you are so in favor of the death penalty then you should move to a country where it is widely practiced like Saudi Arabia.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby parnassus » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:49 pm

Fortnox, I've studied theology with both the University of Cambridge and the University of London. As an academic discipline, it is a composite of history, politics, literature, philology, linguistics, archaeology and anthropology. This being the case, it is possible to study the history of the Bible and the role it played in the societies that shaped it (and that it in turn shaped) in the same way that we study the history of any other ancient text. It's not about theorising and speculation.

The Bible is full of parts that teach the reader how to sow, raise cattle and children. Peasant jobs for lowly people that need to be passed down through the workers generations. It says that if you sow clothes of two different threads you will go to hell- a method of convincing the poor to conserve their resources.


Once again, these texts date from well before the time that the Israelites ever had a king or any kind of ruling nobility. And when they did choose to elect a king (yes, the first monarch was installed by vote), they were issued the following warning by Samuel:

These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out, because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you on that day."

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us to fight our battles." (1 Samuel 8:1-20)


This portrait of the king as a grasping tyrant is hardly a flattering picture of the monarchy.

As for the commandment about sowing clothes of two different threads, that was written long before the establishment of the monarchy. It was introduced at the time of the Babylonian exile (incidentally, the books of the Old Testament hadn't even come to be regarded as scriptural at this point) to emphasise the distinction between the Jews and their captors. Judaism is a religion that is rich in symbol, and many of the levitical laws have symbolic rather than practical purposes. In setting themselves apart from their oppressors by means of their dress and eating habits (two things that were charged with special cultural significance for both Israel and Babylon) the Israelite slaves were making a statement about their own identity. The prohibition on mixing fabrics refers specifically to intermarriage.

It's interesting that you mention hell in response to Old Testament prohibitions, as the levitical laws are very rarely couched in terms of eternity. A substantial number of Jews at the time (Sadduccees) did not believe in any kind of afterlife at all, yet they were scrupulous in their observance of the Torah. Looking beyond that specific sect, the afterlife has never been a particular focus for Jews. (Christian emphasis on eternity was one of the things that caused the division between Christianity and its mother faith.) Consequently it is not possible to look at the Jewish mitzvot and say, "People followed these because they were afraid of hell."

The way you've responded to some of my points tells me that you don't know very much about biblical history and exegesis - and that's fine. You seem to think that it's a point of honour never to be wrong. Why is it so inconceivable to you that you could make a mistake? Here I'm thinking about your sceptical reaction to my summary of the 'P' texts. The summary is not speculation out of my own head, but widely accepted in academia. In the nineteenth century a group of biblical historians decided that the best way to study the Old Testament was to treat it as any other ancient text, piecing together the original sources and considering them in the light of the historical, archaeological, and anthropological knowledge that we have of the time periods. They labelled the four chief sources E, J, P, and, D. I can understand why you would choose to be sceptical of what I'm saying, given that you had never heard of any of this before, but it's ironic that you've directed your suspicion at the most secular academic method of biblical exegesis going.

In the introducton to the book by Friedman that you mention, Friedman is actually referring to the 'E' texts - the backbone of Genesis as we know it today. 'E' is composed largely of polytheistic creation myths that were common to most Middle Eastern religions and cultures of the day. As I've already pointed out to you, the Old Testament evolved gradually and Judaism as a religion evolved gradually. It is well-known that the early writers were influenced by (and were indeed part of) these religions and cultures. I don't understand why you're telling me this. Do you think it proves a point? I do, but in support of what I've just written rather than against it - Friedman is actually an adherent of the 'documentary hypothesis' that I described in the paragraph above.

I've never claimed to have 'perfect knowledge' for myself, as you say. All I did in my last post was to summarise what is widely known in mainstream academia. I don't claim any searingly original insights or any special expertise. I appreciate that I still have a lot to learn. That doesn't trouble me in the same way that it seems to trouble you. Then again, I don't base my worth as a person purely on my learning and my IQ points, so perhaps it is easier for me to accept this.

I think it's painfully obvious after all the centuries of lies and deceit, of leaders using Christianity for their benefit while behind curtains paying no attention to such old beliefs and fake charities or money scams because God despite being all-powerful just can't seem to handle money well that the Bible does not exist to help the people.


I think it's painfully obvious that all people, including you and me, are liable to do bad things. It's also obvious, at least to me, that pointing the finger at other people ("Look at that lot over there! They've done some really awful things in the past!") is a cheap way of trying to reassure ourselves that we are good people, that we could never do anything like that.

The unhappy truth is that we can - at least, I can. I leave you to speak for yourself. There is a passage in which a woman is about to be stoned to death for her crimes, and Jesus steps forward to tell her would-be executors that the person who hasn't sinned should step forward and throw the first stone. When I think of the sins that Christians have committed, in the past and in the present, I pray for them. It's my privilege to pray for them. Who knows? One day it might be the prayer of a murderer that helps someone like me. Because I'm not perfect.

You are not a Christian, so of course you won't see it this way. But I hope my writing this will help you to understand how people of my faith see it.

"Nothing can be owned by anyone, not even the land" (A quote I can't find) is rather irrelevant in face of many beliefs in the very same book, Genesis, that cover God *giving* land to people, an idea that is still causing wars today.


I italicised the sentence for emphasis. I wasn't making a quotation - I was referring to the attitude that pervades the 'P' Genesis texts. As for the notion of God 'giving' land to people, that in no way negates the vision put forward by P. Land was given to all of humanity ('Adam is simply the Hebrew word for 'man', Eve for 'woman'), but not as a possession - as something to be cared for. This concept is known as stewardship in Christianity and Judaism.

As for land-related wars, I presume you're referring to the conflict in Palestine. I'm an active member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a regular attendee at academic conferences on Palestinian history, and an avid reader on the subject. This is one of my biggest interests. Consequently, I know that the founders of the modern-day Zionist movement, from David Ben-Gurion on down, were all non-religious. In fact, some were positively anti-religion, most notably Golda Meir. Today, much of the most vocal opposition to Zionism comes from ultra-Orthodox Jews, especially those within the anti-Zionist organisation known as Neturei Karta. Since getting involved with Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Orthodox Jews Against Zionism, and Rabbis for Human Rights, I've met anti-Zionist Jews of all denominational stripes. You do the Palestinians a terrible disservice in propping up the myth that this is a religious conflict, a myth that has gained credence since Bush expanded the parameters of his 'war on terror' to include Palestinian resistance groups, tarring them with the same brush as al-Qaeda. It is not about religion. The well-known Palestinian activist Hanan al-Ashrawi says this practically every time she mounts a podium to speak on Palestinian rights, because she knows that until people start realising this they're not going to be in a position to do anything to help.

Haha. No. The rich have always believed the laws do not apply to them. In a more recent example, Nixon claiming that when the President commits a crime, it is not a crime. During the Crusades Knights and Lords forced Christianity upon people telling them that they shall not kill; while killing pillaging hundreds of thousands of people in the name of that very teaching. Even George Bush starting a war to prevent a war from starting, and claiming that God is one his side- this does not follow Christian ethics, but the dogma and ignorance that surrounds Christianity allowed it to be used in this way. No, the law makes have never followed the laws, they are only designed for us.


As I have already pointed out, large parts of the Old Testament reached their final form when the Israelites were either living as slaves under the Assyrians or as exiles in Babylonia. These laws were not composed by rich people who had a subservient underclass at their beck and call. What you say here does not apply. I know you keep insisting that it's impossible to date Biblical books, but that simply isn't the case - Professor Friedman explains the procedures that are used for dating these texts in his books.

Christianity has always been about the repression of knowledge, that has always been it's greatest power.


Christianity is the only reason that a lot of knowledge was preserved in Europe. Ancient philosophical, mathematical, and scientific treatises were translated, copied out laboriously by hand, and preserved in monastic libraries. In the days before the invention of printing, much of this would have been lost if it hadn't been for the scholastic work of monks and nuns. Entering a monastery or a convent was a good way for poorer people to obtain a high standard of education; for women, it was often a political choice - they turned away from the prospect of marriage in order to further their own learning in one of the first European manifestations of feminist thought. Ironically, religion provided the peasantry with an education rather than withholding it.

And yet the Index of Forbidden books was also a product of Christianity. I don't deny that. You seem to think that religious debate consists of religious people insisting that adherents of their own religion have always lived exemplary lives and never caused the remotest bit of suffering to anyone. No one here has ever claimed that, so you're dismantling a strawman. Life isn't so black and white. I'm well aware that while my church is home to some great saints, it's also home to some absolute criminals (both living and dead). You are not telling me anything that I don't know. I would be able to work this much out just by looking in the mirror.

And I very much recognise the potential and intelligence of people who disagree with my own views, and I'm used to watching these flush down the drain as they repeat hypocritical bullshit fed to them since they left the cradle.


You've never met any of the people you're talking to here, but you are quite happy to make pronouncements about their lives and their experiences as though your lack of fath has imbued you with a kind of omnisicience, allowing you to know things about strangers that they don't know themselves.

I wasn't raised to be religious. Neither were many of the religious people I know. You keep coming back to this false assumption: people who are religious must have been taught what to believe - unlike you, who are completely immune to the two things that (apparently) give rise to religious belief: your surroundings and your emotions. But after looking closely at your posts and the way you venerate the intellect, I can see plenty of evidence of emotional reasoning - the chief emotion being fear. Fear of being anything other than a great scholar (or something else that will enable you to be what you consider a productive member of society). Because by your own admission, without your intellect you don't think you'd be worth much. If you encounter religious people who are as clever (or possibly cleverer) than you are, you reassure yourself by saying that they're just flushing their intelligence down the drain.

My emotions did become attached to my students, it's true. (And unlike you, I don't see anything shameful in having feelings.) But their vulnerability played no part in that. In their own way, they are much stronger than I am; and in my own way, I'm every bit as vulnerable as they are.

Also, how am I to know that they don't have knowledge or ideas that I don't? I can't penetrate their minds. It's odd that you accuse Christianity of causing close-mindedness, and yet you are so willing to make definitive pronouncements about people you've never met. I would much rather have a mind opened by humility than boxed in by my estimation of my own intelligence.
"This above all, to thine own self be true." - Polonius, Hamlet.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Fortnox » Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:02 pm

Thirteen-thirty-seven wrote:Fortnox, I don't have the time, energy or inclination to respond to your views on religion. However, I really must respond to this:

I'm not saying they should be put to death- doing so would be in no way ethical. However, you can't expect them to become productive members of society, to become great scholars or even to live independently.


Wow! You don't want to put intellectually disabled people to death. How magnanimous of you! [/sarcasm]


Um what? No I don't, lol.

druchi wrote:What I hate is the way that those who blieve in science act like there way is the only way. Science can act just like the fundamentalists they claim to abhor sometimes.


You'd assume so, that's not true. I've met plenty of spiritual people and have no problem with someone having a faith in a higher power, infact I'm very interested in such people, but Religion such as Christianity, Judaism or Islam is a totally different matter.

Brian wrote:Fortnox; A massive majority of people on this forum site are in some way disabled and my impressions I get from your posts is that you want a perfect world. well that will never happen since 1 in 8 people in the world are dyspraxic. Its how people live their life is the most important if they contribute to society in some way they have a right to be treated equally regardless of their disability. If you are so in favor of the death penalty then you should move to a country where it is widely practiced like Saudi Arabia.


If people would kindly approach my replies with such attention to detail and leniency they would to any Christian leftist you'd realise we are in agreement on that matter.

---Parnasuss--

Very nice post. I mean that genuinely, I enjoyed reading it, I enjoy the novelty of meeting a Christian person that actually knows a lot about their own Religion. You must be the first person I've talked to in recent years that both believes in Christianity and knows more than me about it, which rarely goes together. And I concede my points you argued, I can't begin to delve that far into the History of the Bible.

I'm not someone that speculates without just evidence, and as far as I can see the only person who's life I've made pronouncements about was Kilbaha- because it was blatantly obvious that they did not intend to debate as they, understandable at a likely very young age, don't really understand Christianity, but wanted to come in purely to say what their parents told them is right- a catchy phrase with no content to it.

I know what fear feels like, and I have the self control to approach all situations with logic. However, I'll admit it annoyed me to see an academic that believes in Christianity. To clear up two more things, I'm not immature enough to placate myself with false reasoning, IE I don't lie to myself- and I'm not closed minded, I won't reject anything without fair trial, but I've been giving Christianity it's trial all my life and it's failed at every turn.

Now, your post was good yes, but it focused on my weaknesses and glossed over the heart of the question.

It's nothing to do with conforming with my views. The most intelligent people I know largely disagree with my views. One particular friend of mine I consider to be very intelligent has a vested interest in Psychology, but no matter how far our discussions go, they cannot go past death itself because he is a Christian and refuses to discuss the subject as it triggers an emotional reaction in him- I feel free to discuss such a subject without being emotionally affected, but perhaps as a defence mechanism, most Christians when discussing the fragility of their own beliefs seem to become angry, anxious and frustrated. I suppose in the same way I would be angry, anxious and frustrated if God came down from Heaven and proved me wrong.

For the most part, I agree with Nietzsche that Christianity has put back Philosophy by hundreds of years- perhaps done even more damage to Human development than the burning of The Great Library, home to hundreds Plato and Aristotle's lost texts. It does this by giving you all the answers- it says that things are evil because the Devil exists and things are good because God exists. Rather than allowing you to develop your own system of morals and ethics- that is, your own opinion- it tells you in very clear terms what is right, and what is wrong. The Bible seeks to give you all the answers in life that you should find for yourself, and this does not help but hinder people's development for it prevents people from thinking for themselves.


The truly meaty part of our disagreement lies herein. Christianity as a belief system makes it easier to live because you need not ponder right from wrong, you need not even worry about what wrong is done for it's all part of God's plan- if we pretend there is a reason for everything we can go through life not needing to change anything.

And of course what I really want to know from you.. Why do you believe in Christianity? Is it some emotional reaction, do you feel a spiritual connection to him? These feelings are as real as "love", which is mainly the effect of dopamine and hormones. Emotions are just different drugs entering your brain, triggered by your sub concious. I almost assume it must be this case because you don't seem the type to choose Christianity as a safety net.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Fortnox » Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:06 pm

Bump
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby druchi » Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:43 pm

This was a discussion about homosexuality.

Start a Religion topic =)
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Oliver W » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:31 am

Homosexuality many believe is epigenetic (a concept I am no expert in). This means that homosexuality is part of who you are. It is not psychological (or recent evidence atleast points to it not being). Studies on identical twins for and homosexuality found theres about a 48% chance that if you are homosexual then your identical sibiling will be. Schizophrenia is also epigenetic and prduces the same 48% result.
However homosexuality it's self has different levels of degrees i.e. bisexual.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Brian » Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:11 am

Fortnox wrote:Bump


Are you personally looking for an argument and or trying to destroy this thread
Talking is a sign of strength and not weakness

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby druchi » Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:14 pm

Brian I think thats a very negative stance to take (I know I'm one to talk :P) anyway this doesn't need to be an argument with both sides foaming at the mouth come on we are all responsible here we can have a chat at these things without it turning to mush!

So what does everyone think about the Ugandan death penalty law for homosexuality? Do you perhaps agree with a crime for sodomy? or do you think its a violation of human rights? Come on people lets hear those views :mrgreen:
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Thirteen-thirty-seven » Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:24 pm

I am against the death penalty anyway, but it strikes me as particularly horrible to use the death penalty for sexual acts between consenting adults.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Fortnox » Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:30 pm

Brian wrote:
Fortnox wrote:Bump


Are you personally looking for an argument and or trying to destroy this thread


You act as if arguing is a bad thing. Just because your emotions want you to hide from conflict this doesn't mean conflict is bad or wrong. Argument and debate are the greatest tools at your disposal and you should use them. Little would be more satisfying to me than to discuss faith with a Christian intellectual.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Alice » Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:26 am

Fortnox wrote:
Brian wrote:
Fortnox wrote:Bump


Are you personally looking for an argument and or trying to destroy this thread


You act as if arguing is a bad thing. Just because your emotions want you to hide from conflict this doesn't mean conflict is bad or wrong. Argument and debate are the greatest tools at your disposal and you should use them. Little would be more satisfying to me than to discuss faith with a Christian intellectual.


Yes, debate can throw new light on a subject, but this topic is about homosexuality, not faith. If you want to debate faith start a new topic.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Fortnox » Sat Dec 26, 2009 1:01 pm

Alice wrote:
Fortnox wrote:
Brian wrote:
Are you personally looking for an argument and or trying to destroy this thread


You act as if arguing is a bad thing. Just because your emotions want you to hide from conflict this doesn't mean conflict is bad or wrong. Argument and debate are the greatest tools at your disposal and you should use them. Little would be more satisfying to me than to discuss faith with a Christian intellectual.


Yes, debate can throw new light on a subject, but this topic is about homosexuality, not faith. If you want to debate faith start a new topic.


That's not really a big deal nor the reason you're trying to end the debate. The discussion on homosexuality died down long ago.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Rai » Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:36 am

Hi,

I didn't think I'd be introducing myself by leaping into a debate about homosexuality/Christianity :) But I signed up to this forum had a quick browse through the different subjects (wow you folk are v vocal!) and homed in on this one. I hope that's ok.

I am on both the austism spectrum and the homosexuality spectrum (that was my attempt at a joke) I am a recently diagnosed dyspraxic and long time accepted bisexual!

Talking about sexuality (for my part at least) I could no more change my sexuality than I could sprout wings and fly to the moon. I cannot remember a time when I didn't feel attracted to both males and females ( I am a lass btw). I do confess I have agonised long and hard about the whys and wherefores. And I am 100% positive I didn't make a conscious decision to be 'this way'. I'm going to try my best to explain how it is for me, hope you bear with me as I do tend to waffle :o/

My attraction has just never discriminated between males and females. Does that make any sense? I hope so. I have had (and I am a little ashamed to admit this) a couple of transitory affairs but what I am in NO way ashamed of is my two very intense, long term relationships. One I am still in, the other, the one before this still very precious to me. Albeit very different.

My current partner of x years is male, he is also on the autism spectrum (but not dyspraxic) and we have a great relationship. He is also very accepting of my sexuality, thankfully he understands that although I am bisexual it doesn't mean I am promiscuous (sp?) which unfortunately a lot peole think. That is that bisexual folk are loose!

My previous partner, a female, was not 'planned' for any bizarre political reason (this comment made me laugh). I am going to try to condense this...wish me luck!.....

Oh before I start I want to say I hope this doesn't make anyones skin crawl. That's all *weak watery smile*

I first saw E sliding down a wall in North Wales. A huge balance problem. And I can honestly say I have never seen anything or anyone look as beautiful as she did then. A combination of helplessness and anarchy (I won't tell you what she was wearing! lol) I gave my self heart, soul and body. Unfortunately that package comes with a myriad of 'problems'. All at the time undiagnosed. So the relationship didn't last.

So quickly onto MR current. An absolute joy to be with, actually so much of a joy that we have lived together for the past 5 years! And what was the attraction? A meeting (yes a blind date - sort of, we met on a telephone chatline - shock horror!) with a rather charming (slightly) younger man wearing a red paisley shirt under a very gorgeous looking blue velvet jacket. Now that is what I call class ;o)

*huge sigh*

I am sure I have veered well off course with this post...I just needed to give my angle.

Hopefully we'll get to know each other better during the New Year! Hm... A very Happy 2010 to you all!


Rai xxx
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby parnassus » Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:15 pm

Fortnox wrote:
Brian wrote:
Fortnox wrote:Bump


Are you personally looking for an argument and or trying to destroy this thread


You act as if arguing is a bad thing. Just because your emotions want you to hide from conflict this doesn't mean conflict is bad or wrong. Argument and debate are the greatest tools at your disposal and you should use them. Little would be more satisfying to me than to discuss faith with a Christian intellectual.


Fortnox, this is an example of what I meant when I talked about making assumptions. Brian posts in the debate forum quite regularly, and he has never been shy about stating his opinions, so it's not very likely that the reason why he asked whether you are picking a fight is because his 'emotions want him to hide from conflict'. In the next post you did the a similar thing to Alice. She wrote that this has gone off-topic, and you responded with, "This isn't why you want to end this argument." It's quite presumptuous to start telling people why they think as they do and claiming that they're not really thinking what they say they are.

This is why I'm a bit confused by some of your posts. You say that you would find it satisfying to have a discussion with a Christian intellectual, but earlier on you wrote that it makes you annoyed to find an academic person who is also Christian. You write that you have never met a Christian whom you perceive to be more knowledgeable about Christianity than yourself, and the tone of your earlier posts in this thread suggests that you didn't expect to find one. You only accepted that I knew what I was talking about when I volunteered information about my level of study, which makes me wonder what you hoped to achieve when you started this thread. If you weren't expecting to have a discussion with knowledgeable people, what did you expect? In your opening post you said that you just want to hear religious people's views on homosexuality. In the light of the posts that follow, this feels horribly like some kind of observational experiment designed to see how closely religious people on DT match your idea of what religious people ought to be like on this issue.

I don't think you mean to pick a fight, as Brian puts it. If I'm misinterpreting your posts, forgive me; it's not always easy to understand someone if you don't know them well. But this is how your posts come across to me, and it is possible that they have been read this way by others as well.

There is another reason why this thread has made people uncomfortable. There are one or two users on here who find the subject matter of this thread distressing, not because they're over-emotional, but because they suffer from severe mental health problems. Some of the things that have been discussed here have brought back bad and painful memories for them. Trying to shelter them from conversations like this is not helpful, which is why the thread was not removed when one of them requested it initially. (She later took back that request.) But neither is dragging out the experience. I know that there are people here who are not going to feeling comfortable on DT as long as this thread is active, because it has taken too many wrong turns. They can't just ignore its existence; as long as it is here and people are posting in it, they will be drawn back to it. Mental illness can be very self-destructive in that way and some sufferers actively seek out things that hurt. I am all for having a range of discussions on DT, but when reading a particular thread becomes a form of self-harm for somebody, then it has outlived its usefulness as far as I'm concerned.

If you want to go on discussing religion with me, then feel free to PM me your e-mail address and I will respond to your latest posts that way. I hope you understand why I can no longer post in this thread.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Brian » Fri Jan 01, 2010 1:20 am

I am just going to clarify what I meant when I questioned Fortnox bumping up this thread.

The last post before fortnox decided to bump the thread was on the 30th of October the day around the time "please lock the homosexuality thread" was coming to an end. Fortnox had most likely seen that thread and seen how some people felt about the this thread. He bumped the thread after a week of this thread but in my opinion I believed that he was instigating an argument by bumping the thread because he had nothing left to add the to the thread but he wanted the thread at the top so someone could post on it and he could potentially agree or disagree with the person and keep the thread rolling, which in the long run could lead to conflict.
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