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Thread: Book Plunge: Born This Way?

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Book Plunge: Born This Way?

    Is homosexuality by birth or not?

    The link can be found here.

    -----

    What do I think of J. Alan Branch's book published by Weaver Book Company? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    If you debate any with people and homosexuality is brought up, you will find people saying that they are "born this way." In the movie Religulous, Bill Maher interviews someone who is a Christian saying that there is no gay gene. In the middle, we get a cut to a scene of Maher asking Dean Hamer, "Have you found a gay gene?" "Yes." That's it. No context. Nothing more. It was settled.

    Are homosexuals really born this way? J. Alan Branch takes us on a tour of psychology and science to see what can be found out. He starts off with looking at the minds that have fundamentally shaped the debate for us all. The first starting place is Freud and seeing what he said, which wasn't really as much as one would think.

    We get a lot more when we get to Kinsey. Today, Kinsey is seen as one of the greatest authorities, but in reality, his work was significantly flawed. In fact, it was so flawed that one could even see it got information from those who had to be guilty of child molestation. Kinsey accepted information from volunteers, interviewed people in prison, and other such problems. Kinsey himself was quite clear about his goals in doing away with Christian morality.

    Finally, what happened with psychology and psychiatry in the 70's? The truth is, not a lot of science but a whole lot of politics. This cleared the way for normalization and then for opposition. The movement already had an agenda in mind with the publication of After The Ball which they played perfectly.

    From there, we move on to the possible scientific explanations for someone being born homosexual. This area is often dense in scientific thought so it can be hard to understand. That could be the unavoidable nature of the beast. Still, Branch is conversant with the literature and knows what those arguing the position are talking about.

    One area he looks at that many people will be pleased to see is about animals. He does say that animals do sometimes engage in homosexual acts, but this is not a new discovery. Our ancestors knew about this long ago and the only reason it's a shock to so many today is that we are far more cut off from nature. Branch points out that if we went by this, then we should also justify people eating their children since animals often devour their young in the wild.

    After looking at all manner of studies, Branch then takes on a more pastoral position. How are we to help people in the church who legitimately struggle with same-sex attraction? They are indeed there. We don't need to think they're lying. We don't need to treat them like a disease. One great way is that men need men who are friends with them and can say they love them, but not have it be sexual. Likewise, women need similar with women.

    Branch concludes that homosexuality is likely caused by a multiplicity of factors and no one factor can settle the deal. This is also a predisposition to behave a certain way. It does not necessitate that one act on that impulse. One can choose to be celibate or one can choose to marry someone of the opposite sex and form a loving relationship with them.

    Christians wanting to understand the debate will want to read this book. Branch is thorough and at the same time, more brief than you would think as the book has just a little over 150 pages of content. It will be a helpful addition to anyone's library who cares about this issue.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Even if it were proven that homosexuals were "born that way" - it doesn't automatically make it acceptable or normal. People are born with mental and physical birth defects all the time. Some are even born with addictions. We usually try to treat them, not say "oh well, I guess we have to just accept it as normal"

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    Theologyweb's Official Grandfather Jedidiah's Avatar
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    Why would it be any more acceptable to act out the supposedly inborn homosexual tendency than it is to act out the inborn heterosexual bent? Heterosexuals are expected to control their urges, why not homosexuals. We do not give any special respect to heterosexuals who just "sleep around," so why any special concern for homosexuals who blast their tendency all over the placed?
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

  5. Amen Sparko, Cerebrum123 amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    Even if it were proven that homosexuals blacks were "born that way" - it doesn't automatically make it acceptable or normal. People are born with mental and physical birth defects all the time. Some are even born with addictions. We usually try to treat them, not say "oh well, I guess we have to just accept it as normal"
    As an exercise in self-awareness I suggest occasionally substituting the group you're talking about with another group in your head, just to double-check that you aren't saying utterly horrendous things. It'll help clue you in as to when you've gone way beyond the pale.

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    Theologyweb's Official Grandfather Jedidiah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    As an exercise in self-awareness I suggest occasionally substituting the group you're talking about with another group in your head, just to double-check that you aren't saying utterly horrendous things. It'll help clue you in as to when you've gone way beyond the pale.
    Except your example did not even come close to fitting.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    Branch concludes that homosexuality is likely caused by a multiplicity of factors and no one factor can settle the deal.
    I agree that that is the current status of the science on the issue. But to my mind the scientific cause of homosexuality ("how did their brains get they way they are?") is not really relevant in the question of "how do we respond to the people who are in this situation?" (And, of course, the correct answer to that question when asked about anyone in any situation is always first and foremost: With love and with kindness.)

    I think two far more relevant scientific observations we can make are:
    1. The vast majority of gay people (and straight people as well for that matter) did not experience their sexual orientation as a conscious choice that they made. Consider your own life: Was there a point in your life where you thought "I've decided, I'm going to be attracted to girls from now on" and then you just were? I doubt it. You were attracted to girls because of whatever complex genetics and environmental stuff happened to your brain to make you attracted to girls, it wasn't a decision you made. Getting all sciency about precisely how much of that was genetic and how much was environmental or learned or whatever else strikes me as completely irrelevant - what's relevant is that it's the way you find yourself to be, and it wasn't a choice on your part.

    2. There is no known, repeatable, and well-verified way for people to choose to change the gender they are attracted to. Lots of organisations have tried. People have tried prayer, various psychological methods, all sorts of creative things. There's not a way that's been well-proven to work. If a gay person goes to the world's top psychiatrist and says "please help me to be attracted to the opposite gender rather than the same gender, because I'd really like to change" then even if the world's top psychiatrist was 100% willing to try and help the person to change, they'd have nothing to offer them because there simply isn't a known methodology for changing.

    I see those two facts as being the ones that are important: Those people are the way they are through no choice of their own and we don't have a method of change to offer them.

    Now given that that's the situation gay people are in, and given that most gay people have all the standard human needs with regard to loneliness and a need for companionship, and a sex drive and a need for sexual fulfillment... what, practically speaking, are their reasonable options? While there might be some of them who happen to have the 'gift of celibacy' and are quite happy remaining single their whole lives, there are going to be plenty of them for whom that's just an implausible option that makes their life a living hell and who have a burning need for life-long companionship with a partner and/or for sexual fulfillment.

    Trying to make people have the gift of celibacy seems pastorally highly dubious from a biblical point of view, and potentially disastrous and life-ending from a psychological point of view. The human need for intimacy is one of the core layers on Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, and a failure to achieve required levels of intimacy can lead to loneliness, chronic anxiety, clinical depression, and suicide. That is why I think that whatever you might think of homosexuality from a moral perspective, it is still pastorally necessary as loving and kind human being to help these people make the best of their situation, and in practice that means supporting them in their formation of same-sex partnerships. Here again science kicks in, because obviously if it turned out that gay people actually found being in a same-sex relationship consistently awful and disastrous for them then we couldn't reasonably recommend it to them, but it turns out that they seem to get a great deal of happiness and joy in their relationships, possibly even more than straight people.

    So, pastorally speaking, you are confronted with the observed facts of: (a) the gay people could lead a fulfilled life by having a same-sex partner, albeit an 'immoral' one, or (b) the gay person could have a horrible life, with levels of suffering and hardship that you yourself can't necessarily comprehend or predict, albeit a 'moral' life. At that point I think you have to ask yourself what precisely 'moral' means in that situation. Is it merely that this is not God's ideal for human relationships? In which case you have to acknowledge that it's a fallen world and sometimes some level of compromise is needed to deal with that fact. After all, in Paul's view the ideal is celibacy and marriage is a compromise that can be necessary to deal with human needs (1 Cor 7:8-9) and Jesus explains marriage is not a heavenly thing but an earthly one (Matt 22:30 - in heaven neither the angels nor post-resurrection humans will marry), and in Jesus' view divorce is not the heavenly ideal but was a necessary compromise to deal with human problems (Mat 19:8). I think acknowledging same-sex relationships as a necessary compromise with human needs is just the sensible and is the loving thing to do with regard to gay people, and continues the biblical pattern of shaping human relationship practices on earth to match best to human earthly needs, even if there is a mismatch to heavenly ideals where divorce or marriage itself do not exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedidiah View Post
    Except your example did not even come close to fitting.
    I get that I'm probably wasting my time here in trying to make you guys say less horrible things about people, but I'll try.

    Sparko talked about people who are mentally or physically unusual. Let's consider how we treat such people normally. If you come across a physically or mentally disabled person, do you (a) mock them, (b) try to pass laws to reduce their rights, or (c) be extra nice to them and go out of your way to help them out of politeness and compassion because you understand that their situation makes life unusually difficult for them and because you are a kind person?

    Certain people go with (a) of course:

    ...and they are not generally regarded as paragons of virtue, to put it mildly.

    If you're going to represent homosexuality as a mental disability, then at least go with the non-jerk option of (c) and follow the normal rules of decency in cutting people with disabilities some slack and being a bit more generous than usual towards them. Don't do (a), don't be that guy.

    And I get that it's in good fun on forums to call opponents retarded or as having mental disabilities or whatever in jest, and I get that Sparko didn't quite go there explicitly in this particular post (just implied it heavily)... But it's quite another thing to arbitrarily label a group of people you don't happen to approve of as having a mental disability (particularly when, y'know, the medical establishment doesn't agree and the authority for that claim is you). To seriously claim and believe that Jews, or Muslims, or left-handed people, or liberals, or gay people, or whatever particular group you don't approve of, has a mental disorder and seriously promote the idea membership of that group is a mental disorder is pretty dark territory. What does it even mean to talk about something that's not a mental disorder using the language of mental disorders... Is it supposed to be an insult? Are you trying to diminish the humanness of the person or the validity of their experiences? If all you mean is that homosexuality is an unusual condition in the same sort of sense that left-handedness is an unusual condition (they both seem to have similar levels of prevalence in the population, and science has as-yet been unable to explain the combination of genetic and environmental factors that lead to either condition), then that's fine but you need to be careful to use descriptive language about the rarity of the condition ("uncommon", "unusual") rather than judgmental language ("unacceptable", "abnormal"). You wouldn't call left-handedness "unacceptable", for example, or talk about it as a "mental defect".

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    I agree that that is the current status of the science on the issue. But to my mind the scientific cause of homosexuality ("how did their brains get they way they are?") is not really relevant in the question of "how do we respond to the people who are in this situation?" (And, of course, the correct answer to that question when asked about anyone in any situation is always first and foremost: With love and with kindness.)

    I think two far more relevant scientific observations we can make are:
    1. The vast majority of gay people (and straight people as well for that matter) did not experience their sexual orientation as a conscious choice that they made. Consider your own life: Was there a point in your life where you thought "I've decided, I'm going to be attracted to girls from now on" and then you just were? I doubt it. You were attracted to girls because of whatever complex genetics and environmental stuff happened to your brain to make you attracted to girls, it wasn't a decision you made. Getting all sciency about precisely how much of that was genetic and how much was environmental or learned or whatever else strikes me as completely irrelevant - what's relevant is that it's the way you find yourself to be, and it wasn't a choice on your part.
    My wife has PTSD.

    Was she born with it or did she choose it?

    2. There is no known, repeatable, and well-verified way for people to choose to change the gender they are attracted to. Lots of organisations have tried. People have tried prayer, various psychological methods, all sorts of creative things. There's not a way that's been well-proven to work. If a gay person goes to the world's top psychiatrist and says "please help me to be attracted to the opposite gender rather than the same gender, because I'd really like to change" then even if the world's top psychiatrist was 100% willing to try and help the person to change, they'd have nothing to offer them because there simply isn't a known methodology for changing.
    Nor are there for many other situations. There isn't one for alcoholism or overeating or gambling. Of course, people can control their desires still, but that doesn't mean the desire goes away. It also depends on the person and their commitment.

    I see those two facts as being the ones that are important: Those people are the way they are through no choice of their own and we don't have a method of change to offer them.
    I can point you to plenty of people who struggle with SSA and are happily married to people of the opposite sex. Andreades in his book Engendered interviewed a number of men like this with his "Does She Matter?" quiz.

    Now given that that's the situation gay people are in, and given that most gay people have all the standard human needs with regard to loneliness and a need for companionship, and a sex drive and a need for sexual fulfillment... what, practically speaking, are their reasonable options? While there might be some of them who happen to have the 'gift of celibacy' and are quite happy remaining single their whole lives, there are going to be plenty of them for whom that's just an implausible option that makes their life a living hell and who have a burning need for life-long companionship with a partner and/or for sexual fulfillment.
    Sex is not a need. Sorry. No one has ever died from lack of sex. You have plenty of heterosexuals on here who have never married and never had sex and while it might not be pleasant for them, they live happy and full lives. This ultimately turns sex into an idol and says that one cannot live a happy and full life without having sex.

    Trying to make people have the gift of celibacy seems pastorally highly dubious from a biblical point of view, and potentially disastrous and life-ending from a psychological point of view. The human need for intimacy is one of the core layers on Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, and a failure to achieve required levels of intimacy can lead to loneliness, chronic anxiety, clinical depression, and suicide. That is why I think that whatever you might think of homosexuality from a moral perspective, it is still pastorally necessary as loving and kind human being to help these people make the best of their situation, and in practice that means supporting them in their formation of same-sex partnerships. Here again science kicks in, because obviously if it turned out that gay people actually found being in a same-sex relationship consistently awful and disastrous for them then we couldn't reasonably recommend it to them, but it turns out that they seem to get a great deal of happiness and joy in their relationships, possibly even more than straight people.
    Of course they get some in a same-sex relationship! Does that mean it's good intimacy? Does that mean it's intimacy that will really build them up more? That's what I question. Note also you can have sex without intimacy and you can have intimacy without sex.

    So, pastorally speaking, you are confronted with the observed facts of: (a) the gay people could lead a fulfilled life by having a same-sex partner, albeit an 'immoral' one, or (b) the gay person could have a horrible life, with levels of suffering and hardship that you yourself can't necessarily comprehend or predict, albeit a 'moral' life. At that point I think you have to ask yourself what precisely 'moral' means in that situation. Is it merely that this is not God's ideal for human relationships? In which case you have to acknowledge that it's a fallen world and sometimes some level of compromise is needed to deal with that fact. After all, in Paul's view the ideal is celibacy and marriage is a compromise that can be necessary to deal with human needs (1 Cor 7:8-9) and Jesus explains marriage is not a heavenly thing but an earthly one (Matt 22:30 - in heaven neither the angels nor post-resurrection humans will marry), and in Jesus' view divorce is not the heavenly ideal but was a necessary compromise to deal with human problems (Mat 19:8). I think acknowledging same-sex relationships as a necessary compromise with human needs is just the sensible and is the loving thing to do with regard to gay people, and continues the biblical pattern of shaping human relationship practices on earth to match best to human earthly needs, even if there is a mismatch to heavenly ideals where divorce or marriage itself do not exist.
    B I consider a misnomer. A hard life is not a horrible life and if someone is a Christian and wants to please God, there is more joy in pleasing God than in pleasing one's own desires.

    I get that I'm probably wasting my time here in trying to make you guys say less horrible things about people, but I'll try.
    Odd. I'm not the one who said that people who don't have sex are incomplete.

    Sparko talked about people who are mentally or physically unusual. Let's consider how we treat such people normally. If you come across a physically or mentally disabled person, do you (a) mock them, (b) try to pass laws to reduce their rights, or (c) be extra nice to them and go out of your way to help them out of politeness and compassion because you understand that their situation makes life unusually difficult for them and because you are a kind person?

    Certain people go with (a) of course:

    ...and they are not generally regarded as paragons of virtue, to put it mildly.
    As someone who is extremely conscious of disability awareness, it gets tiresome to see this old story trotted out regularly.
    https://www.catholics4trump.com/the-...rs-disability/

    If you're going to represent homosexuality as a mental disability, then at least go with the non-jerk option of (c) and follow the normal rules of decency in cutting people with disabilities some slack and being a bit more generous than usual towards them. Don't do (a), don't be that guy.
    Please tell me when I represented it as a mental disability.

    And I get that it's in good fun on forums to call opponents retarded or as having mental disabilities or whatever in jest, and I get that Sparko didn't quite go there explicitly in this particular post (just implied it heavily)... But it's quite another thing to arbitrarily label a group of people you don't happen to approve of as having a mental disability (particularly when, y'know, the medical establishment doesn't agree and the authority for that claim is you).
    Again, feel free to show where I have done that.

    To seriously claim and believe that Jews, or Muslims, or left-handed people, or liberals, or gay people, or whatever particular group you don't approve of, has a mental disorder and seriously promote the idea membership of that group is a mental disorder is pretty dark territory. What does it even mean to talk about something that's not a mental disorder using the language of mental disorders... Is it supposed to be an insult? Are you trying to diminish the humanness of the person or the validity of their experiences? If all you mean is that homosexuality is an unusual condition in the same sort of sense that left-handedness is an unusual condition (they both seem to have similar levels of prevalence in the population, and science has as-yet been unable to explain the combination of genetic and environmental factors that lead to either condition), then that's fine but you need to be careful to use descriptive language about the rarity of the condition ("uncommon", "unusual") rather than judgmental language ("unacceptable", "abnormal"). You wouldn't call left-handedness "unacceptable", for example, or talk about it as a "mental defect".
    Again, please show me where I have done this.

  10. Amen Jedidiah, Cerebrum123 amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    My wife has PTSD.

    Was she born with it or did she choose it?
    She didn't make a conscious choice to have PTSD, and there isn't a reliable known way to change her so she doesn't have it. As I noted with regard to homosexuality, those are the observations I think are important. So your wife has to work out what's best for her in terms of living with her situation, and hopefully the loving and kind people around her will respect that she has unusual needs because of it and give her support and respect as she grapples with her situation. The same applies to gay people, and their need for our support and respect as they decide what is best for themselves in terms of living in the situation they find themselves in.

    I can point you to plenty of people who struggle with SSA and are happily married to people of the opposite sex
    Obviously a bisexual person could find satisfaction in a heterosexual marriage while still having attractions to other people of both the same and opposite sexes. But there is a continuum of sexuality and many people who regard themselves as gay are not bisexual enough to find fulfillment in an opposite sex marriage. I have read many accounts by homosexual people that attempted opposite sex marriages out of a commitment to the idea but found it deeply unsatisfying. The psychological toll it can take on the people is horrible, not merely on the gay men (somehow it always seems to be about the gay men and never lesbian women) but also on their wife, who, in many historical instances of this I have heard of, were often never told their husband was gay prior to being encouraged by their church elders to marry him. And there can be children who are hurt too in these fake marriages... one of my facebook friends is a gay guy in his 30s who was encouraged to marry young and heterosexually by his religious family, and 4 children and 15 years later he's divorced and has a boyfriend.

    As someone who is extremely conscious of disability awareness, it gets tiresome to see this old story trotted out regularly.
    https://www.catholics4trump.com/the-...rs-disability/
    I watched the original footage of Trump acting out the arm-shaking and voice-distorting spasms of a disabled person at the time. He was trying to portray the person with the disability in an amusing way that mocked the disability and got a laugh from the audience. The article attempts to misrepresent that basic truth by talking around the issue and making irrelevant points, and it's sad they suckered you into their attempt to rewrite history.

    Please tell me when I represented it as a mental disability.
    Again, feel free to show where I have done that.
    Again, please show me where I have done this.
    I was talking about Sparko saying this, and some others on this website who have said it clearly and repeatedly.

    Although the fact that you've applied it to yourself, in reverse-projection, as if I were accusing you, suggests to me you have a guilty and self-accusatory conscience on the issue.

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    She didn't make a conscious choice to have PTSD, and there isn't a reliable known way to change her so she doesn't have it. As I noted with regard to homosexuality, those are the observations I think are important. So your wife has to work out what's best for her in terms of living with her situation, and hopefully the loving and kind people around her will respect that she has unusual needs because of it and give her support and respect as she grapples with her situation. The same applies to gay people, and their need for our support and respect as they decide what is best for themselves in terms of living in the situation they find themselves in.
    Reliably as in 100%? Perhaps not, because all people are different and it depends also on the level of change required. Still, some recovery and in fact some cases of total recovery are known, such as described in Emotional Intelligence.

    I also have no opposition to surrounding those who are homosexual with loving and supportive people, but loving doesn't mean allowing someone to indulge in that which one thinks is harmful for them. I think men who struggle with SSA need to be surrounded by men who will love them and appreciate them and enjoy them in non-sexual ways. Manly love need not be tied to sex. The same for women.

    Obviously a bisexual person could find satisfaction in a heterosexual marriage while still having attractions to other people of both the same and opposite sexes. But there is a continuum of sexuality and many people who regard themselves as gay are not bisexual enough to find fulfillment in an opposite sex marriage. I have read many accounts by homosexual people that attempted opposite sex marriages out of a commitment to the idea but found it deeply unsatisfying. The psychological toll it can take on the people is horrible, not merely on the gay men (somehow it always seems to be about the gay men and never lesbian women) but also on their wife, who, in many historical instances of this I have heard of, were often never told their husband was gay prior to being encouraged by their church elders to marry him. And there can be children who are hurt too in these fake marriages... one of my facebook friends is a gay guy in his 30s who was encouraged to marry young and heterosexually by his religious family, and 4 children and 15 years later he's divorced and has a boyfriend.
    Sure. Such things happen, but notice something. Did the man do wrong perhaps by marrying which could be in a sense using the lady? Maybe, but does it make it right that he left her and his children and is now with someone else? Does it make it right if he had an affair with a man while married to her? The whole point in a good marriage is one has to die to one's own desires and seek the good of the spouse. This lady now lives with divorce and the children have all manner of questions about Daddy and divorce no doubt hurts children.

    Still, anyone of us could find people who failed in most any situation. A lady who founded a suicide support ministry, I think it was semicolon, recently herself committed suicide. Does that mean we should stop doing programs like that? Not at all. Does it mean all are doomed to failure? Not at all.

    I watched the original footage of Trump acting out the arm-shaking and voice-distorting spasms of a disabled person at the time. He was trying to portray the person with the disability in an amusing way that mocked the disability and got a laugh from the audience. The article attempts to misrepresent that basic truth by talking around the issue and making irrelevant points, and it's sad they suckered you into their attempt to rewrite history.
    Odd, because armshaking would not match what the disabled person has. Odder still that there is no attempt to respond to what I presented.

    I was talking about Sparko saying this, and some others on this website who have said it clearly and repeatedly.

    Although the fact that you've applied it to yourself, in reverse-projection, as if I were accusing you, suggests to me you have a guilty and self-accusatory conscience on the issue.
    I love it when people play psychologist. I really do. Well I will go by what I see of you consistently as thinking you're the smartest person in the room and how you have an inability to admit an error even if everyone and their mother tells you otherwise that you say this because you have a perception of all Christians and how we act and cannot possibly conceive of being wrong in it and it's easier to accuse me rather than go forward and find evidence to counter my claim since my whole point is regardless of who else does it, you're in my subforum now and I don't play that game.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starlight View Post
    As an exercise in self-awareness I suggest occasionally substituting the group you're talking about with another group in your head, just to double-check that you aren't saying utterly horrendous things. It'll help clue you in as to when you've gone way beyond the pale.
    Black is not a behavior. Fail.

  15. Amen Cerebrum123 amen'd this post.

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