Thoughts on this recent TED Talk?

(Victoria White) #1

Hi everyone,

I wanted to bring up something quite serious. I was watching Jackie Hill Perry’s most recent talk and then I stumbled upon this.

It’s basically a TED Talk about a woman who used to be in the church (and used to be a Christian most likely) and how she chose her daughter who came out as bisexual over God/Church. It’s also about how she grew a “ministry” that caters to LGBTQ+ people.

Oh man… This was hard to watch. It is heartbreaking on so many levels. Not just even what she affirms over God’s Truth, but the stories of Christians doing foolish things as a response to their children’s “true self”. It seems that these this woman and these people don’t have a robust understanding of singleness, marriage, church, community, vulnerability and who God is. My heart grieves and I was wondering how we as Christians could respond to this. It’s important.

How to help our sons understand why homosexuality is wrong?
(SeanO) #2

@Victoria_White Thank you for sharing this video. I think the first thing I would say is I really appreciate the compassion the speaker, Susan, has for these hurting people. I commend that - I recognize its value. She sees these guys and gals who are confused and hurting and just wants to offer them a hug - a safe place - because there was no one there for her when she needed that in her own life. I really appreciate that kind of attitude. She wants to be a parent to those without parents.

My initial response to the video is that three things went wrong in this situation:

  1. Susan’s church did a poor job of helping her understand the true nature of love and, if her story is accurate, did not respond well when she shared her struggle. I was not there, of course, so I can only go based on what she shared. Her church simply said, ‘Being gay is a sin and you can’t accept it’. They did not cry with her or offer to love on her daughter - they did not extend grace or mercy. And that was a huge turning point for Susan - it threw her into a dilemma.

  2. Susan felt that she either had to judge her daughter or love her - that is a false dichotomy. True love can both recognize sin and love the sinner. But for Susan she felt she had to choose - a harsh, judgmental deity or her daughter.

  3. Susan distorted God’s Word to make it fit into her situation. She knew she need to love her daughter - as a parent she knew that, but she did not understand how she could believe homosexuality was a sin and still love her daughter. Instead of wrestling with God and weeping at His feet while still acknowledging His character, she sought a way out. She found people who would say what she wanted to hear - that her daughter’s behavior was okay - and in the process distorted God’s Word and character.

Unfortunately I believe this story represents a failure on the part of this church to love Susan and her family and it also represents a failure on Susan’s part to honestly wrestle with what the Scriptures say. In her vulnerable state of desperately needing to love her daughter, she was led astray by false teaching. She equated ‘God is love’ with ‘sexual sin is not a big deal to God’.

Michael Ramsden makes a great point about true love in the following RZIM article - I think this article would constitute a good response in this situation:

The words “I love you” mean something when the person who utters them knows exactly what you’re like and still cares for you. Love does not exist in the absence of judgment; true love exists when someone has passed the correct moral judgment on who you are and is under no illusions as to what you’re like, but still loves you. Michael Ramsden

Quotes from the Video

‘I had become extremely judgmental’

‘Real love accepts people as they are with room for whom they may become’

‘Parents are being asked to choose between a commanding God and their own child. This has nothing to do with what learn from Jesus about the power of love.’

‘They’ve (parents) been told that they are loving their children by shaming and shunning them’

She points out that without parental support 57% up of transgender youth attempt suicide, but only 4% with parental support. These kids need parents. Many of these people have not had parental encouragement in years.

A Challenge

How can we as the Christian community reach out and love these folks better? Where are the hands and feet of Christ for these young people who have been abandoned by their families? What does that look like?

(Kathleen) #3

Hi, @Victoria_White! Thanks so much for posting this. I’d not heard directly of Susan Cottrell or FreedHearts, but I have seen her book out in various bookstores.

I agree with a good bit of what @SeanO has already expressed. It’s a heart-wrenching story she tells, and what saddens me most is that this particular evangelical church (along her family associated with it) allegedly (obviously we don’t know the full story) reacted in the way that it did. I particularly felt the pang of sadness when she said, ‘8 years later, half my family still doesn’t speak to us.’ So, not only did she find herself in a church-or-daughter choice, but she also seems to have found herself in a family split over it…a split driven (it seems) along theological lines. Those can be some of the deepest and most gut-punching splits.

Have you had a chance to read these replies from Sam Allberry yet? They were written today and yesterday. He is the featured speaker this week in the #ask-rzim category. I was incredibly moved by them both, and they fit in with this whole discussion.

I was so convicted by my own desire sometimes to run away and shut out, which, as Sam points out, is so unlike our Lord. I can’t imagine where I would be if He couldn’t bear to come near to me, a sinner. So it makes me question: Am I being the foolish one by not making it a habit to walk alongside my gay friends and loving them as real humans? Am I willing to stand at a gay pride parade and give out ‘mom hugs’ knowing that some there are bereft of parental or familial affection? At this moment in time, I don’t think I would go to all of the lengths that Cottrell goes to, but it does make me wonder who the more foolish one is: she or me?

And as a quick clarification on your post @SeanO, would you distinguish homosexuality from homosexual relationship/behaviour? I ask because I understand that sexuality is not an act of the will (which is generally where I place sin) but as something human that we all possess. :slight_smile:

(SeanO) #4

@KMac Certainly there is a distinction between having evil desires and sin. Jesus set us free from the power of sin over us and the penalty of sin, but we still wrestle with the presence of sin in our flesh. All of us struggle with different temptations, but the mere presence of a temptation is not sin. Sin is when we choose the temptation rather than self-sacrifice and obedience to God. In Christ we can ‘crucify our flesh with its passions and desires’ daily as we submit ourselves to God by the power of the Spirit.

Thanks for posting those great responses from @Sam_Allberry.

(Dean Schmucker) #5

A few observations

  1. I have no doubt that the personal experience of someone drawn to LGBT is overwhelming. From their perspective, they know nothing else, and have every reason to believe this is how God created them.
  2. Man is a tripartate being. Body, soul, spirit. What I believe those drawn to LGBT are encountering is a wounded spirit. Just like a golf ball that is out of round, their path is corrupted, and they simply will never, by the act of their soulish wills, be able to fly straight.
  3. If we identify the wounded spirit, and treat them with the same compassion we would treat someone physically sick, there is healing in the Name of Jesus. We don’t judge them, but discern where they are coming from and offer to pray.

(Anthony Costello ) #6

So, I first stopped watching this at the 4:19 second mark. The part when the audience got up in a standing ovation. First, I’m wary of TedTalks anyway. From what I know of Ted Turner, he was a staunch atheist, committed to eliminating religion from the public square. As far as I know, most TedTalks are expressly aimed at demeaning, degrading, and slandering Christianity, if not just theism more broadly. That makes me initially skeptical about this woman’s story, and her intentions. She seems “hand-picked” for a TedTalk that continues to push a social narrative. The audience’s reaction is indicative of their adherence to that narrative.

Also, right before the ovation, it is already clear that she has a made a logical fallacy. Just because her daughter decided to be lesbian (or was it bi-sexual), doesn’t mean that she had to choose anything. If my son chose to become an alcoholic, which I could also show from Scripture is sinful, why would I be forced to choose between his alcoholic lifestyle and my church? She has identified her daughter with her behavior, which is a category error. We all have behaviors that are sinful, but if our identity is in Christ, then we are free from identifying our self with our behavior.

Moreover, why couldn’t she have, as any mother has to do with their children’s behavior, continued to love her daughter, without leaving her church? Is giving up one’s convictions so that someone else can live in accordance with their sexual desires somehow an example of love? I don’t see how. In fact, I see the abandonment of convictions as more of a vice, than a virtue. I mean, what if the daughter had said she preferred to have sex only with underage girls? I’m assuming the mother wouldn’t have “chosen” her daughter over her church then? But why not? Why would the mother resist that unbiblical sexual desire, but not this one?

Second, her claim that most Christians accept LGBTQ is ambiguous. It could mean that most Christians accept people who are LGBTQ, but it says nothing about the sexual behavior of people who are LGBTQ. I don’t think that most Christians accept that LGBTQ behavior is okay, even if I hope that most Christians accept people who are LGBTQ.

Third, why can’t we serve the gay community, without compromising the authority of Scripture? They both seem compatible. However, most of the gay friends I have known were pretty well off. Either way, if I were to run across a homeless man who I was able to help, I would obviously not bother to find out if he was attracted to men or not before helping him, as if that would matter in any relevant way.

Fourth, how can this woman claim that she knows what God says, if she doesn’t think Scripture is right? There is an epistemic problem here; how can we know that her claims are true? I hear a lot of assertions here, but few arguments. However, I don’t think arguments were the point of this talk, it is an emotional appeal to an audience already on board with that appeal. Also, to claim that she represents the voice of God seems pretty haughty! Why can’t the fundamentalist just make the same claim? However, even then, notice how the applause was subdued after she mentioned that she represented God. My suspicion is the audience would have preferred to leave God out of it completely, even if it was a god more suitable to their tastes.

Fifth, what if part of the reason that some LGBTQ kids are struggling is not because of mean parents, but because to live an LGBTQ lifestyle is confusing, and perhaps intrinsically harmful. What about those studies? There is a level of dishonesty in this talk and I don’t think all the evidence is being brought to light.

Sixth, in all honesty, I would question the examples of “mean parents” she uses here. They sound like stock examples. She doesn’t quote sources, and we shouldn’t be too gullible and just accept everything that people say as true. Sometimes a little fact-finding fills in context that makes the story seem quite different. There is, after all, a lot of “fake news” out there. I am not trying to whitewash what is legitimately bad behavior by people who either claim to be, or genuinely are, Christians, but the agenda against Christianity today is so explicit, that we can’t just accept everything as fact. We do have to be wise as serpents, as well as gentle as doves.

Seven, I think we can affirm her desire to help LGBTQ kids who have been mistreated. But, so can Christians who don’t accept LGBTQ behavior as part of God’s plan for human sexuality. In fact, to help someone whose behavior you don’t accept would be even more loving than to just help someone with whom you agree with (I think there is a little parable about a Samaritan that talks about that very thing).

Finally, as a religious fundamentalist myself (of a certain kind, of course), I wonder what this woman would suggest if religious fundamentalists, who are nice and kind and gentle, still said “no” to her plea to accept LGBTQ beliefs about human sexuality? What does one do with the fundamentalist, if they simply refuse to acquiesce? Does one also extend the Golden Rule to them? It seems to me that already she is going down the road of generalization and demonization, which is the same thing she accuse religious fundamentalists of doing.

I’m not terribly moved by these appeals to accept LGBTQ agendas. First, I think LGBTQ folks have already been accepted for the most part by the culture. Second, the emphasis now seems to be on continuing to sully the image of Christians, especially evangelical Christians or conservative Catholics. Third, and this is the most important, I think LGBTQ people should be told the truth! If the Bible is our highest authority for all things faith and practice, and if the common-sense (and even scholarly consensus) interpretation of the Bible with regard to human sexuality is correct, then to NOT continue to tell LGBTQ folks the truth, would be to fail to act lovingly. If the Bible is correct on this issue of same-sex sexuality, and the Bible is our highest authority, then the answer is clear: we must devote ourselves to winning LGBTQ folks over to Christ. There is nothing to be ashamed about that.

Finally, and I mean it this time, what about all of the folks who left the LGBTQ lifestyle because of Christ and Christians!? Do they count? What about their stories?

in Christ,

(Tabitha Gallman) #7

@manbooks - Being a married woman, if I am attracted to another man, does that make me a wounded spirit? I understand that if I carry that attraction to lustful thoughts in my mind, then that is sinful, but to be attracted to another man while I am married, I don’t think that is sinful. I just need to carefully set firm and intentional boundaries if lust becomes a problem.

(Jimmy Sellers) #8

As a parent the only thing that I can add is I will always love my children regardless of choices that they make. For me a children that would grow up to be a an axe murdered was something that I felt would test my love but as much as that would grieve me it would not come between my love and my child. I will always love my children even if I can’t publicly brag about who they are or what they have done.

I think the part that the lady conflated was equating Church and God, they are not the same.
If I am not mistaken even God had/has issues with certain Churches, but he didn’t quit.

(David Cieszynski) #9

Hi everyone,

On a similar note I was discussing my belief against same sex marriage, and the person I was talking to just said yes but “Jesus is love” and wouldn’t entertain the idea Jesus is ‘just’ and there are consequences to our choices. Is there anything else I could respond to?

(Dean Schmucker) #12

Attraction for the opposite sex is God’s design. I don’t believe such attraction is the result of a wounded spirit, though it may point to some problems in the current relationship.
Same sex attraction is not God’s design, but a corruption that has it’s roots in original sin.

(Tabitha Gallman) #14

@manbooks I really believe that you are missing the point. Why do you choose to segregate anyone with SSA from any other sinner? It is us as believers (no matter who we are attracted to) that should be pointing a lost world to Christ not making people feel like they are somehow deformed. We are all broken and it’s only through submission to Christ that my marriage works.

As far as someone that may have SSA, they just have to sacrifice more than most as they live out Galatians 2:20. This conversation is beyond my scope of expertise, so I would direct you to Mr. Sam Alberry who is an expert in this field, and is a wonderful man of God.

Everyday, no matter what else I am praying about, the one constant prayer I pray is that God would help me to see others through the Holy Spirit.

Please engage in conversation with Mr. Alberry before tomorrow. You will find him very loving, patient and kind. He is helping so many hurting people and I do believe he will have a special place in Heaven.

Love to you both.

(Geoffrey) #15

Hi Anthony,

Found your post very refreshing and thoughtful. Agree completely with your comments. The church does need to learn to be a lot smarter when engaging in LGBT issues. Many programmes that go to public media are very much predisposed to mock Christianity and we need to be able to see the fake for what it is.

On the other hand, these things also confirm for us the validity of Scripture because our behaviour as humans, especially in this period of history is in line with exactly as Scripture tells us.
Thank you for your comments and thoughts.

(Dean Schmucker) #16

Was not trying to call out SSD as opposed to any other sin. I have a great deal of compassion for those who struggle with this, but lets understand where this is coming from

(Kathleen) #17

Hi all!
I’ve had a couple of thoughts swirling around in my head for the last week, and have just had the chance to really sit and try to articulate them…

First off, I was driven to reflect on @manbooks analogy of the warped golf ball, which did not sit well with me. I expect it was for a reason similar to @tabby68’s, which was that it seemed to label those with SSA as special cases of people beyond hope…unlike those of us ‘regular’ sinners.

But, @manbooks, I am curious if you would use this analogy only on certain types of sin, or would this analogy be applicable to every type of sin…and, therefore, every person? In other words, everyone has a ‘wounded spirit’ that needs healing. (Sidenote: When I mention ‘sin’, I, like @SeanO and others, do not see desire as sin, as desire is not necessarily under our control and can be against the will. I understand sin to be an act of the will.)

I would love to commend a couple more of @Sam_Allberry’s answers from last week, as we (all of us reading this!) try to think through how we understand these issues (human sexual nature, sexual desire, sexual ‘identity’, and sexual ethics) in light of the cultures and contexts in which we were raised and in which we currently inhabit.

This was my line of thought when I asked you the question above, @manbooks

And to the overall question of whether our sexual desires reveal who we truly are…

Then there’s this on the language that we use when entering discussions…

Also, @anthony.costello, thank you for your insightful critique of the talk itself (or at least the first 4 minutes of the talk :wink:), esp. when we think of recognising cultural narratives. Though, for a bit of clarification, do you think the evangelical church’s (I realise it’s a massive generalisation to use that term!) reaction to this issue is blameless? Is some of the critique we receive merited, in your opinion?

(Kathleen) #18

I’m flying a bit blind, trying to figure out what elicited your friend’s simple (or simplistic?) response of ‘Jesus is love’ and your rebuttal that Jesus is also just. Could you give us a little more context? :slight_smile:

I mean, my quick thought is that Jesus does indeed call us to love, however love does not always involve sex. They don’t necessarily come hand-in-hand. You can love and care for someone very deeply without being in a sexual relationship with them.

(Anthony Costello ) #19


Hi Kathleen,

Just want to clarify first that I did go on to watch the whole video. I just stopped at 4 minutes to make my initial comments, since the audience’s reaction to the woman’s choosing her daughter “over the church” seemed so incredibly exuberant, that it made me pause and think a bit more about some of the contextual issues at play (i.e. like it being a TedTalk, etc.)

With regard to the “evangelical church’s response” yeah, it is a massive generalization, but I get your point. You know, it is hard to say for me on one hand, because I was a Roman Catholic for many years and, back then, I was responding as a Roman Catholic to the issues of homosexuality and lesbianism. However, at that time in my life I was also committing a lot of sexual sin myself, so in those days while I tended to see homosexuality as technically sinful, from a religious standpoint, I still had a whole lot of homosexual friends, even roommates, with whom I neither shared the Gospel, nor did I criticize their homosexual lifestyles. Living as a cultural Catholic and committing my own array of sexual sins, tended to make me more tolerant of the lifestyle my friends were living, even if I might never have, in principle, actually endorsed homosexuality as a morally right expression of sexuality.

After my conversion, however, things began to change, and as an Evangelical now, I do see the need to both preach the Gospel, and engage people not just about homosexual sexual sins, but sexual purity more broadly. Sexual impurity in my life before Christ not only nearly destroyed me, it severely hurt many others, and it still has residual affects on my life today. So, I think the evangelical church perhaps needs to try and focus more on how to deal with sexuality more broadly, especially in a cultural context that is saturated with the sensual, and where pleasure is available to us instantaneously through technology and media.

I think, or I hope, in handling the issue of sexual immorality more broadly, we can also flatten out some of these conversations on homosexual or same-sex sexuality, in that while these can be seen as distinct expressions of sinful desires, they are not essentially different from other kinds of sinful sexual desires, ones common to us all. In this way brothers and sisters in Christ who are same-sex attracted, while perhaps needing special kinds of pastoral care and counseling, certainly need not feel in any way unique or marginalized.

Moreover, while I do think there are some sinful actions that are worse than others (e.g. murder is worse than petty theft), I do not think that we should see sinful dispositions in a hierarchical manner. Someone who is fighting against same-sex attraction is no worse off than someone who is fighting against a spirit of anger. In fact, considering what James says about anger (i.e. Js 1:19-21 anger is “moral filth”), perhaps the struggle with same-sex attraction is even less significant than anger, especially if anger is the more ubiquitous, and perhaps disastrous, disposition.

To answer your second question, about the evangelical church being blameless, the answer is obviously “no” because no church is blameless, nor is any individual blameless (Jesus aside, of course). But, we need not be blameless to expose false narratives AND share the truth of the Gospel, and even tell the truth about God’s plan for human sexuality.

Regarding the second question then, “is some of the critique merited?” I would answer “yes” because wherever the Gospel is either not preached, or wherever it is preached, but in an abusive way, then there is room for criticism and, hopefully, repentance.

However, that said, I would suggest that preaching the Gospel in a way that comes across as harsh or unloving, while certainly needing correction, may not be any worse than not preaching the Gospel at all. So, I don’t want to critique Christian parents who have had same-sex attracted children yet failed to show them perfect Christ-like love too much, because one could make the argument that it is not only not Christ-like to disown or demean a child struggling with same-sex attraction, but that it is also not Christ-like to celebrate and affirm a child who wants to engage in same-sex activity. Who is to say that one of these is more Christlike than the other? It seems, if we take the Bible as our ultimate source of authority on all things faith and morals, that both sets of parents are deficient in their presentation of the Gospel, those that abuse, and those that fail to use. But, maybe that is also something we could debate in another thread.

Hope that helps to clarify.


(Tabitha Gallman) #20

@KMac - I am so thankful that you have put all this thought and work into your post Kathleen. I do feel that this thread needed more discussion. I certainly wasn’t sure how to reply further, but I know that loving, well thought-out discussion is so needed. This is one of those subjects that my daughter has alluded to plenty of times because she has friends that are personally dealing with this issue. Last year a relative in our family married another woman and this year her male cousin introduced us to his boyfriend. Both couples were at our family Christmas party. These are wonderful young men and women that come from Christian homes. We couldn’t not love them. What are we suppose to do. We don’t see the extended family but about once a year anymore, so I haven’t got to talk to the parents at any length, but I know the parents well enough to know that they must be struggling with this since its so unfamiliar to them.

I agree with what you are saying @KMac that our desires are separate from the act of sin. Do you think you could compare this to the desire of the forbidden fruit?

I don’t in any way condone sex nor marriage between same sex, but I think it’s not right to compare someone’s desires to sexual immorality. I’m betting that my young relatives that are in relationships with same sex partners got involved the way heterosexuals got involved with another through mutual interests, emotional feelings, etc… Thank you so much @KMac for your post.

(Dean Schmucker) #21

No, this is true of all sinners, before being saved, not just LGBT. We are all warped, none is righteous, no, not one. My concern is simply that some would tell the LGTB is that there is nothing abnormal about their impulses, that God created them that way, and they need no repentance.This is so tragic because there is indeed power in the Name of Jesus to break the power of ALL sin.

(David Cieszynski) #22

Sorry let me clarify what I meant, I have was in a discussion with someone and I was telling them how Interpret Scripture in relation to marriage and that God did not intend marriage to be ‘same sex’. They then responded with but God is love and therefore inbas long as people love each other what’s wrong? And then they said Scripture us ‘contextual’ which to he honest I’m not sure what they mean by that statement.

(Kathleen) #23

@anthony.costello I’ve been meaning to get back this thread and thank you for your open and honest responses here. I always value what you have to say and appreciate the clarity and thoughtfulness with which you express yourself!

You make a very excellent point about sexual purity more broadly, and I have been encouraged to see a movement within certain sectors of the (broadly evangelical) church addressing the various issues we come up against in navigating the dimensions of our sexual natures. Because how we handle our sexuality does matter, especially when we think about the emotional dimension of it. And we can mishandle it in our abstinence as much as in our promiscuity.

And I also appreciate how you pointed out the two extremes of the debate addressed in this TED talk. That is, that there actually exists middle ground between outright condemnation/disowning someone and celebrating their choice of sexual expression. That’s where I’m wanting to live in my own life, in between the ‘everything matters significantly all the time’ approach and ‘nothing matters ever’ approach.

I am also reacting within my own framework of observing that, systemically, we (the evangelical church) tend to hyper-focus on issues and ideas often without recognising the humanity of the individuals involved in the things we pray against.

@tabby68 I also wanted to thank you for your further reflections! It can be so heartbreaking to see those you love making decisions that don’t seem to be conducive to flourishing. As for your question, I am curious what you mean by ‘desire for the forbidden fruit’? Do you mean something like Paul describe in Romans 7? In my mind, sexual desire is tied to the fact that we are sexed/sexual beings, and I hesitate to compare something we are (sexual) with something ‘forbidden’…as if God is a cosmic killjoy. He certainly puts tight perimeters around sexual expression, but to merely desire intimacy or ecstasy (both of which are ideally found in the sexual union) is not forbidden.

And @manbooks, I hear where you’re coming from, and thank you for clarifying! I do agree with you that we all need to hear the call to repent (to turn to God) and that Jesus does ‘break the power of reigning sin’ and ‘sets the prisoner free’. (Hallelujah!) I would be careful though in using the language of abnormal/normal, as it tends to needlessly alienate and marginalise people in conversation. Becuase, really, what is ‘normal’? ‘Normal’ tends to be circumstantial…that is, based on your experience. You may also want to consider that, until God makes all things new, sin (or being ‘warped’ as you put it above) is actually our ‘normal’ state of existence in this world.

Thank you all for this conversation! @Victoria_White, as the thread originator, what are your thoughts on everything? :slight_smile: