Friday, July 31, 2020


In 1976, Jimmy Carter famously said in a Playboy Magazine interview, "I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times." Carter was referring to a particular Christian theological idea about sin. I was taught two things about sin growing up: 1) all sins are equal in the eyes of God and 2) if you contemplate a sin, it is no different from committing it. I have always had a fundamental problem with both. Carter did not. I think the supposed sin of a “lie of omission,” which is leaving out part of the truth on purpose and is still considered a lie, is not nearly as bad as murder. How can the two sins be equal? Furthermore, we all contemplate sins at various times. Many of us lust after people we shouldn’t but that is not the same as acting on lust nor is it adultery even if the person is married. If contemplating a sin was really a sin, then I am going straight to hell, “do not pass go, do not collect $200.”


I had the opportunity to be very cruel yesterday, but I held my tongue. My mother called upset that her preacher had died of COVID-19. I said I was sorry to hear it, but what I did not remind her of was that he had refused to wear a mask even though he was in a high risk category, and he had continued to hold church services even when he was told he shouldn’t. The man was elderly and had Parkinson’s but did not try to protect himself, his family, or his congregation. Did he get what he deserved? No, no one deserves to die like that. However, I am not going to feel a great deal of sadness over it either. Will those around him that still refuse to wear a mask learn from this? Again, no, they won’t because they would rather listen to the lies of a president who denounces science only because he is against abortion. I will not feel great sorrow for them if they get sick either. I will admit that I have a few prejudices; Republicans and Southern Baptists are at the top of the list. Both groups have done so much harm to the LGBTQ+ community and to me personally, not to mention minorities and whoever else they deem to hold in contempt. 


As I mentioned in my post about depression, when I needed my mother the most, when I was at the two lowest point in my life, she was not there for me. She never knew that I attempted suicide when I was a teenager, nor did she really care. She never understood the bullying I faced at school or my struggle with my sexuality and when I have tried to point out the bullying to her, she refuses to listen. She also constantly reminds me how wrong it is to be gay. When my friend died five years ago, and I called her because I wanted to hear her voice and wanted her to comfort me, she dismissed my sadness because my friend was gay. Some of you may be asking why I would have even sought comfort from her, but I used to be very close to my mother, and I so desperately wanted her to try and make it better. She has failed me many times, and yet, I still keep her in my life. I still love her. I know my relationship with my family is far from healthy.


RB said...

Now Herman Cain has died of Corona after contracting it 9 days after attending a Trump rally. He didn't wear a mask either, and was in a high risk category.

JiEL said...

Sorry for your «love-hate» relationship with your mother.
As we say in French: you don't choose your family but we choose our friends.
That means that your =very good friends can be a better help in bad days than some odf your own family.

For that priest, well as many hard headed USA's citizens, he played with fire and paid the ultimate price. It's like those dum people that don't wear their seatbelts or go on the water without a life saver belt and they finaly die in accidents.

The advices are clear in this time of COVID 19 by doctors and scientists: wear a mask, social distancing and wash your hands.

naturgesetz said...

"1) all sins are equal in the eyes of God and 2) if you contemplate a sin, it is no different from committing it."

My Church (Roman Catholic) doesn't teach either of those.

I'd say No. 1 is unbiblical. After all, 1 John 5:16-17 clearly teaches that some sin is deadly and some is not.

As for "contemplating a sin," we'd insist on the distinction between being tempted and choosing something wrong. If I see a $100 bill on a table in a friend's house, the thought could cross my mind, "Nobody else is in the room right now. I could put it in my pocket," that's a temptation. If I think, "but stealing is wrong, so I won't do it," I've overcome the temptation and not sinned. If I think, "but I'm the only person visiting, so they'll know I took it," it indicates a willingness to steal if circumstances permit. Similarly, if there's a party going on when I see the bill and I say, "I'll try to find a moment when nobody's looking this way and slip it into my pocket," I have sinned by choosing to steal, even if the right moment never arrives.

Lust is similar. It is natural and unavoidable to find some people attractive. That's certainly not sinful. It seems to me that it's not sinful simply to enjoy looking at them as one would enjoy looking at a beautiful vista in the Appalachians or a cute kitten. Pope St. John Paul II said that sinful lust comes in when we use that other person as an object for our own sexual gratification without respecting their equal personal dignity. It could involve deciding to try to maneuver someone into bed. It could involve using pornography to get turned on. It's not the same as getting to know someone attractive and developing a mutually agreeable relationship. Clearly, there are gray areas, and there are often mixed motives, so we need to try to be honest with ourselves as well as listening to what our bodies are telling us..

Anonymous said...

Joe, I am sorry that the death of the pastor from Covid 19 has, once again, exposed you to your mother's failings. When one has, as I am blessed to have, a wife/partner/husband who is one's better half, then one's parents and one's relationship with them become peripheral. As you may recall, I have often expressed to you my hopes that you may find a partner worthy of you. I am still hoping, Roderick

Cody said...

I am sorry to hear that you and your mother no longer have a good relationship. My mother is my best friend and it sounds like your mother used to be a friend to you. I can’t imagine losing that. Your grief and frustration over the loss of closeness to your mother are definitely justified.

Most of our fellow southerners are being irresponsible and careless with people’s lives and their own lives when it comes to COVID-19. As an example, I have to return to work Monday and our in-service day will be in a crowded cafeteria where we are smashed together like sardines for the better part of eight hours. Face coverings are optional until the students return, as Mississippi does not have a mandate (I live across the line in Alabama, where we have a mandate, but few people are following it.). I will wear mine and I hope others wear their’s, but I doubt they will.

Monty said...

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28, English Standard Version).

Anonymous said...

I can never tell someone how they should live their lives. I can only express my journey and maybe it might be the impetus for action in others.

I am 62. Yes, I am old. Not really. I am in good health. I exercise 6 days a week-weights and cardio. I think I look good for my age.

I have had a tangled relationship with my family. My father was mentally abusive and took no interest in his children. It was all about control. My stepmother was the enabler. I could blame it in part of her Japanese upbringing. I have a stepbrother who died in 1990. I have a stepsister and two full brothers-we were a part of the original three. I am the middle child.

When I needed my mother the most about two years ago she was so worried about herself and she hung up on me. No, it was not a fight or argument. It was me just asking for assistance. My mother was the last resort. I tried to reason with her and she grew tired of the conversation and just hung up. I asked my younger brother and my older brother as well. No go. So here I am trying to make the best of being unemployed for the last two years plus and draining every last dime of my retirement.

I say all of that to say this. I had to figure out over the years what would bring me peace. I have tried to make peace with my father but he was stuck in the past. He knew better and did not do better. So I moved on. I did not even attend his funeral. I have come to the realization over the years that my stepmother is a master manipulator. I was becoming more and more uneasy with our interactions. The last interaction sealed the deal. I just have to move on. Let me be clear. I love my stepmother a great deal. She came into my life when I was in the 1st grade and brought stability into our home. She spoke very little English. Her English has improved to the point if you push her she will curse you out-which is very rare. My stepsister and two brothers live their lives. We have never been all that close. None of this calling a couple times a week to check-up on things. My oldest brother is steeped in religion and can't get over the gay thing. He is of "hate the sin but love the sinner" type thing. Give me a break. It is my tenant that just because you are my Mom and Dad, family, does not give you a pass in being decent/accountable. I hold you responsible just as I would a friend. You act up, I will call you out on it. If you treat me less than, I will call you out. It does not give you a free pass because you are family. That is just how I believe. Reminds me of a time when I was talking to a friend and he was having issues with his wife. We spoke after one of his therapy sessions. He was wound up to the point of tears. He said empathetically that he would never divorce his wife. OK! I stated that it does not give her a license to treat him like shit. Yes, she is the mother of his children. Yes, they have a deep history. I told him he had to have self-worth. He should be happy. He should not be walking on pins and needles. If they couldn't come to some type of resolution, maybe the best thing is to divorce. And please don't stay together because of the kids. Fast forward. They are still together but live separate lives within their marriage. He does his thing. And she does hers. They are happy.

At 62 I was still trying to have that connection with my family. It has not worked.
I just need to fully move on. I am alone. No real friends. When employment comes I need to sort things out with a therapist. Who would think I would end up like this. Where did the years go?

To wrap it up. Do what is best for YOU! What brings you happiness. Know when to let go. Don't be beholden because society says you should. DO YOU!!

Jeremy Ryan said...

You can't pick your family, but you can pick your friends and your friends nose! :P My relationship with my family was fine, until grandma passed away. She was the glue that held everyone and everything together. Then everything went sideways. My findings are that my family sucks. I am super jealous of others who have functional and normal families, even more so of guys who are true brothers. It's something that I wish I had, but then again that would have avoided some of the life experiences I went through that shaped who I am today, so I wouldn't be me.

I wish that your relationship was better with your mother. It was good of you to take what I consider the high road with your reaction to the situation.

Anonymous said...

Compassion always wins.
Even with deplorables.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I'll admit to the same political prejudices, but mine extends to centrist quislings. Republicans would be feeble without them. Truth be told, I hate centrists most of all: You can't call Trump a Nazi and then assist him at every turn.

Nikki said...

I am so sorry! A friend has somewhat the same situation with his family and it breaks my heart.