Burch: Pray away the gay?

Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

Apple and the Christian group Exodus International have hooked up to sell an app designed to help people “pray away the gay.” But human sexuality is not a disease and how many red-blooded heterosexuals have ever been “cured” of being attracted to people of the opposite sex? Baptist ministers and Catholic priests regularly get caught with their pants down, sometimes in public. As Mark Twain noted, most men would give up any chance of heaven to be with the Eves of their preference for a few moments of earthly bliss. So why not be honest: If God doesn’t cure heterosexuals of their sexual desires, should we expect non-heterosexuals to experience divine intervention?

Unfortunately, Nashville seems to be the nerve-center for the stone-age Neanderthalism that results in gays being discriminated against and threatened with an “eternal hell” if they don’t “repent.” Nashville is home to the Southern Baptist Convention and its LifeWay publishing arm. According to its website, LifeWay “is one of the world’s largest providers of Christian products and services, including Bibles” which it sells through 162 LifeWay Christian Stores. The website also informs visitors that “LifeWay has produced one of the most accurate and readable Bible translations ever — the Holman Christian Standard Bible [HCSB].”

Wow, that’s wonderfully impressive, but the SBC and LifeWay are strongly involved with the movement to condemn non-repentant gays and lesbians to the flames of an eternal hell, in the names of God and Jesus. Does this mean God and Jesus are bigots?

Curiously, the highly accurate HCSB translation of the Bible doesn’t contain the word “hell” anywhere in its Old Testament, or in any of the epistles of Paul, or in the book of Acts (the self-recorded history of the early Christian church). In fact, the word “hell” appears in a scant 10 verses, primarily in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. Bible scholars generally agree that Matthew and Mark are based on the same original text, so this suggests that only one Bible writer knew anything about a place called “hell.”

“Hell” obviously didn’t preexist, according to the Bible, because such a place was never mentioned to Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Moses or a long line of Hebrew prophets. But neither is there any verse in the Bible in which God or any prophet ever announced the creation and purpose of “hell” (a curious omission, to say the least, when the SBC and LifeWay earn truckloads of money by convincing people they need to be “saved” from “hell”).

So why is the SBC blaspheming the name of God by saying gays have to repent or suffer for all eternity? Perhaps God and Jesus aren’t bigots and torturers of human beings, after all.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary,” at www.thehypertexts.com.

120 Comments on this post:

By: Captain Nemo on 3/25/11 at 1:36

Have a good weekend people.

By: Mike Burch on 3/25/11 at 2:14


If I was going to return to church, I would probably go to a UU church. I can't stand to watch children being told that they'll go to hell if they're gay, or that Jews have a divine mandate to steal land from Palestinians. If we want to avoid World War III, we need to accept the fact that Jews and Christians have no right to tell millions of Palestinians that their children don't matter as much as our children.


By: Mike Burch on 3/25/11 at 2:23


I don't pretend to know what happens when we die. But my wife Beth was sitting beside her grandmother when her grandmother had a vision of heaven, and I know a friend whose wife seemed to see heaven at the end of her life. I don't see any problem with people having faith, if they believe things that lead to a better life here. But I know being terrified and brainwashed as a young boy didn't improve my behavior. When people told me God and Jesus had condemned me to hell, and that I'd go there if I had sex or even thought about sex, I just hated the thought of God and religion. The idea of people going to hell for making love is so evil and absurd, it still makes me angry whenever I think about it.


By: dargent7 on 3/25/11 at 2:34

Pie-Man: Your statement, whether by mistake, unintentional or not, was still made. You're acting exactly like a polititian: back-peddle, retract, re-explain what you really meant to say, then punt. Personally, I couldn't even type the words, "homosexual tendencies". (whoops, just did). Then try to explain it away with, "heterosexual tendencies, too" as if that explains anything.
Saying, "sex before marriage is a sin" is the most ludicrious statement I've heard since, "God created the entire Universe in 6 days, and rested on the 7th". Or the Noah's Ark fable.
You work your side of the street, I'll work mine.

By: Loner on 3/25/11 at 2:43

Yes, Brrrrk, it's a Johnson pipe organ...one of the finest in our area...Pullman spared no expense....the stained glass windows are by Tiffany. The edifice is of native Medina sandstone...reddish in color and locally quarried. But we need money to fix the roof leaks, ceiling damage, plumbing issues etc. Only 24 voting members now on the rolls.

Mike, thanks for dropping in, I hope that you will post here more often.

By: house_of_pain on 3/25/11 at 2:49

"sex before marriage is a sin"
Would you buy a shoe without trying it on?

I know...the analogy is of questionable taste.

By: dargent7 on 3/25/11 at 3:27

No, no...women and tennis shoes...I see the similarity.

By: Mike Burch on 3/25/11 at 4:32


I will try to stop in from time to time. I think this is an important subject, because so many children are suffering needlessly. According to most of the Bible, there is no hell and even the SBC's own Bible translation, the HCSB, confirms this. If God and the Hebrew prophets never even mentioned hell, it obviously didn't pre-exist. But there is no mention of the creation or purpose of hell in the NT, and most of the writers of the NT either didn't mention hell at all (as in the book of Acts), or the few verses that do make no sense, because before we discuss something completely new, we discuss how it suddenly appeared. So it seems the belief in hell came from somewhere that hell was already accepted, and that would have been pagan Greece and Rome. This means that thousands of years passed before anyone in the Bible said anything about hell, and that the people who cobbled hell into the Bible so clumsily were probably flunkies of the Roman emperors, who were already using "hell" to keep the common folk in line (the Roman emperors were the high priests of the Roman state religion).

In any case, I see no reason to torture children with visions of a cruel, unjust God who sends people to hell for having sex. That would make him worse than the barbarians who stoned their own children to death for having sex in the days of Moses and the Levite reign of terror. Which is worse: to kill someone for having sex, or torture them for all eternity?


By: Mike Burch on 3/25/11 at 4:33

I think it makes perfect sense to live together before marriage, but I would probably say it's more like seeing if the glass slipper fits the princess.


By: Mike Burch on 3/25/11 at 4:43


There is nothing on earth that would make me want to leave my lovely wife to shack up with a man!

I once wrote that DOMA sounds like a dumbass going into a coma. We heterosexuals don't need a Defense of Marriage Act because gay sex and gay marriage are not communicable diseases.

I don't want the government telling me who I can marry, so as long as two people have reached the age of consent, why not tell the government to mind its own business? Laws should protect us from other people harming us unfairly. As long as no one is raping me, I am perfectly happy to let other consenting adults marry whomever they please.

DOMA is based on the primitive morality of ancient nomadic goatherds who owned slaves, stoned their daughters to death if they were raped and their sons to death if they were "stubborn." If we can ignore those reprehensible verses, we can easily ignore the ones about homosexuality as well.

By: ladydragyn on 3/25/11 at 6:27

Hello Everyone,
I happen to be Mike Burch's wife, and I have read with great interest all of the comments on his article. I agree with some and deplore others, yet I can tell you from my own experiences with gay people that being gay is by no means a choice. I even had twin neighbor children that grew up across the street from me that I knew were gay from the time they were 7 years old. This was way before THEY knew they were gay or even really knew what gay meant, and these wonderful children (who are now 22 years old) certainly never made a choice to love someone of the same sex, it is just who they are. NOw I see them struggle with the bigots and hatemongers of the world who would keep them unmarried forever, and it makes me physically ill. In what way does ANYONE loving another person hurt my marriage to Mike? When MIchael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley that hurt my brain, but not my marriage lol, and amazingly when celebs Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi married, I never once thought "HELP, HELP my marriage is being attacked by gay people!" One person loving another is a GOOD thing, whether it be a same sex union or a boring old heterosexul union, and denying the right for gay people to be married is nothing but discrimination, plain and simple. If your marriage is so damn shaky that Ellen and Portia's marriage can damage it, I am pretty sure you shouldn't be married in the first place. Let's face it, this world is in a lot of pain, and the ONLY cure is LOVE and lots of it. So let people love who they love, either gay or straight, and I think I will keep right on loving Mike WITHOUT feeling like my marriage is in jeopardy WHEN gay folks win the RIGHT to marry! God bless you all and be KIND to one another.

By: Sherwood80 on 3/26/11 at 6:59

Michael, as is his custom, has offered an excellennt recital on the controversy regarding gays. And I notice a few responses that might fit in the same category.

People are people - regardless of how some want to identify others.

That is our universal problem - dealing with others who may be different.

At 80+ years of age, I have learned to live with all and I have discovered, most people are easy to live with as long as I am not wasting my time trying to change them.

By: yogiman on 3/26/11 at 10:24

I remember recently reading where it was determined soy beans could be causing homosexuality to begin in children.

It basically stated your sexuality begins as a child and has already been developed by the time you become an adult which could explain why there is so many more homosexuals on earth today than there was decades ago, percentage wise.

By: Loner on 3/26/11 at 12:04

Ladydragyn...that's an interesting username. Welcome to our little NCP "chatroom".

I enjoy reading your husband's work; please encourage him to write more.

I have a nephew who is gay; when homosexuality manifests itself within one's own family, it can change one's attitude, or harden it. In my family's case, most, if not all family members accepted my nephew's "choice" and became advocates for GLBT rights etc. I put the word "choice" in quotes, because I believe that sexual orientation is primarily genetically determined, although cultural influences can affect that innate predisposition...in my most humble opinion.

By: yogiman on 3/26/11 at 1:26

Loner, considering your comment about your nephew you might be interested in the pieces written about the soy bean thoughts.

If interested go to; www.wnd.comindex.php?fa=PAGE.printable&pageId=39253

By: yogiman on 3/26/11 at 1:29

There should have been a / between "com" and "index"

By: Mike Burch on 3/26/11 at 1:44

Ladydragyn (Beth), it's wonderful to see you here. I certainly don't think our marriage is any way "threatened" if other people choose to live together or not live together, marry or not marry. And I certainly don't want to be the one to tell other people how to live their private lives, just as I don't want other people telling us how to live ours.

Sherwood, it's good to see you here too. I agree with you that there's no reason to "change" people who are willing to live with us in peace and harmony. I have never heard a gay person try to evangelize me into becoming gay. As long as gays are willing to accept me as I am, I feel that I should return the favor, and not grudgingly. And I don't think there is any reason to act as if we're all that different, because our sexuality is only a small part of who we are. Bigotry makes it seem as if gays and straights are two alien species, when we are all part of the same human family.

Loner, I'm glad that your family chose the path of acceptance and tolerance. I like what my Cherokee ancestors said, "Don't judge a man unless you've walked a mile in his moccasins." While there may be some people who are "on the fence" sexually, it seems there are many gays who are convinced they were born gay. Not being them, and not being able to walk in their shoes, how can I judge them? But even if being gay is a choice, what harm is done to me if people choose to be gay? So for me the bottom line is the same, regardless. Other people's sex lives are their business, not mine, as long as people aren't preying on children or raping other people. We need laws to protect people from being harmed unfairly, but we don't need laws (or religions) that infringe on the right of consenting adults to decide who they want to be with.

Yogiman, hormones obviously play a part in the development of our bodies, brains and thus our sexuality. Hormones can be affected by what we ingest. But homosexuality occurs throughout nature, even in animals that don't ingest soy products. Some animals can even change sex under certain conditions. But it seems human beings don't choose their sexuality, and so it seems unfair to children to condemn them, whether the root cause is genetics, hormones, chemistry, whatever. Many of the gay people I've met are kinder, gentler and more tolerant than the hellfire ministers who condemn and persecute them. Perhaps the ministers could use a dose of those "kindness" hormones! So perhaps those ministers should try eating more soy products. :-)


By: yogiman on 3/26/11 at 2:15


I agree with you on the miserable ministers eating more soy products.

After reading that article I also understood the medical profession has professionally "decided" what we should eat and not eat for the best bodies we could have for our "ways of living". Plus everything else we should do in our lives. It seems they find it hard to be a prime example.

By: ladydragyn on 3/26/11 at 3:15

Dear Loner,
Thank you so much your kind welcome (and of course thank you MIke for yours as well). Ladydragyn has been my name for near 20 years, and it is as much a part of me as my own name now lol, so thanks for mentioning it. Also, thank you for saying such nice things about Mike's work. Indeed he is one heck of a writer, and believe me, I encourage him to write often. He is also a remarkably talented, published (hundreds of times) poet: his site "thehypertexts.com" is one of the top poetry websites in the world so you should check it out (he has even put an entire page dedicated to the poetry he has written for me :)
On another subject, I am glad that your nephew has found support within his family because all too frequently, gay teens are ostracized by the very people who are supposed to love them no matter what, and like you I believe (and my belief is supported by science) that you are BORN gay. The young men that I mentioned in my previous comment are like my own children, and they "came out" to me before they told their parents, but my response was one they didn't quite expect. They approached me so seriously, and when they told me, I actually laughed (kindly), and told them that I knew they were gay when they were little boys. They were so relieved and although they live in Arizona now, I still speak to them frequently and usually they call for advice about relationships, so it is nice they feel so comfortable with me, and I am happy to be someone they can turn to since they cannot be so open with their own parents. Gay children don't make a "choice" to be gay. As I said before, it is just who they are, and there is nothing wrong with that. God bless you Loner for being there for your nephew, I am sure that he will be a happier man because of your love and support.. God bless you hon for being such a great uncle, and just tell your nephew is is just fine the way he is, 'cause "God don't make no junk!"


By: house_of_pain on 3/26/11 at 3:41

Thank you for your contributions to this site, Mr. Burch. Most of us "regulars" appreciate the effort.

Nemo, if you're out there, d7 & I will be having coffee across from McCabe Park on Sunday, around 11am.