Quote on Witnessing

Bryan of Things on Bryan’s Mind fame tagged me. The question is this: if my place of residence were on fire, and I could save one book other than the Bible, what would it be? Then, I’m supposed to provide a meaningful quote from that book.

I’d probably save my Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, but I can’t think of any quotes from it that grab me. And so I’ll share a quote from a book that I wouldn’t save from the fire. Or perhaps I would because it’s a library book and I don’t want fines, but I don’t particularly enjoy it. It is Mel White’s Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America.

The quote I will present spoke to me at this time in my life. There are a few other things I like about the book, such as Mel’s descriptions of how God was with him when he was about to commit suicide. But the book is mostly expressions of his desires for male intimacy when he was struggling with his homosexuality, and his statement of belief that he has a right to express his sexual orientation. Does having an inclination mean that one should act on it, if he so desires?  I remember hearing one pro-homosexual Adventist professor respond to the “homosexuals should be chaste” spiel with the question, “But should we deprive anyone of a sexual relationship? How dare we do that!”  The implication seems to be that people are entitled to a sexual relationship.  But I remember listening to Susie Shellenberger, on “Life on the Edge,” a Focus on the Family program for teens, and she had an interesting response to the “How dare you deprive homosexuals of the right to have sex” line. She said that she’s single and in her 40’s, so she doesn’t even know if she’ll ever have sex. That’s in God’s hands!

Of course, I can anticipate how homosexuals would respond. “Well, you’re heterosexual, and there’s a chance you’ll one day meet someone. Why should I have to be celibate the rest of my natural life?” Good question.  And I’m not sure I have an answer, other than the usual passages from Leviticus, Romans, and Corinthians.

But, my rant aside, here’s Mel White on witnessing:

“So, rather than telling my parents about Lyla (Mel’s girlfriend, who became his wife), I set out to ‘lead her to the Lord.’ This all sounds so Machiavellian as I read it back. In fact, I really did (and do) love Jesus. Telling people about Him then was as easy as telling people about Him now. Only then, I had an agenda for every person I told. Now, I don’t. Now I know that other people’s spiritual choices are their business and the business of God’s loving Spirit. My job is to tell my story honestly. Happily, the rest is in God’s hands. But in those awful teenage years, I was convinced that the ‘salvation’ of practically everyone I met was more or less my responsibility. What a terrible load to put on the back of anyone, let alone a gay kid who was already buried under guilt” (pp. 54-55).

Amen, Mel! You advocate an authentic form of witnessing rather than making a sales pitch to get people to sign on the dotted line (with the sinner’s prayer). Also, it’s good to know that I’m not responsible for everyone on the face of the earth. I should be a good example, of course, but people’s salvation is in their own hands–or at least the choice for salvation is.

Let me see, whom should I tag? I want to tag someone who actually reads my blog. Okay, I’ll tag FelixEl Shaddai Edwards hasn’t commented here for a while, but he usually likes my Asperger’s posts, and this kind of falls under that category. So, if you’re reading this, El Shaddai, I tag you. Weird Thinkers once tagged me for another post, so I tag him.

Have a nice day!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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8 Responses to Quote on Witnessing

  1. heissufficient.net says:

    Thanks, James. You can read my response here.



  2. James Pate says:

    Good response, El Shaddai! I always liked that song.


  3. Anonymous says:

    So many books, so little time!
    At this point in my life, I would probably grab my copy of Beth Moore’s “Believing God”. Maybe because I would probably need it at such a disastrous event like my house on fire. And because I have two children, I couldn’t grab both the baby memory books….or would that count as one? LOL
    Aunt C.


  4. James Pate says:

    Hi Aunt C. Yeah, I say count those as one. And save those instead of the Beth Moore book, since you can probably buy another one on Amazon or CBD, while the baby pictures are irreplaceable.


  5. Anonymous says:


    I’m a moderate evangelical, so you’re expecting a challenge.

    Do you have any close friends that are gay? That is, do you have a meaningful relationship?

    I think the general anti-gay passages are weak. They’ve been dealt with by Seow–an eminent professor at Princeton Seminary, graduate of Harvard NELC, who’s published Anchor Bible commentaries (Qohelet), Ugaritic, and Proto-Sinatic Inscriptions. In short, he’s not some autodidact reading the Bible defending gays–but an accomplished biblical scholar who thinks the church should be inclusive.

    It is important to consider scholarly opinions and to befriend gays before we make too strong of opinion based upon a few (rather weak) bible passages.

    It’s a shame that fundamentalism has been comfortable ostracising communities; including gays, the mentally ill, or those who struggle to find identity and relationships. My impression is that Jesus’ love was almost exclusively directed at the marginalized. But maybe I’m wrong for reading Jesus as such a kind and caring person.



  6. James Pate says:

    Hi Jake,

    Yes, I know people who are gay. Do I have a meaningful relationship with them? Well, I don’t really have too many meaningful relationships in the first place. But I know them and I find them to be nice people.

    I did a search on Seow and homosexuality and found some links that I may read. Most of what I know of the pro-gay side has been gleaned from a Metropolitan Christian Church speaker, a United Methodist book, and that one liberal Adventist. I have Boswell’s book, but it’s not in my apartment. And I’ve not really been convinced by their arguments. I mean, seriously, does Seow truly believe that one can interpret those passages to mean something other than that people of the same sex should not sleep together?

    Your last paragraph somewhat got to me, and I may write a post on some of those issues. I’m reading Matthew right now, and I recently read the passage in which Jesus eats with publicans and sinners. The Pharisees did not like that. It’s not that they didn’t believe in repentance–they did–it’s just that their rules on purity were hindering that. And yet Christianity has something similar. Paul, after all, said that Christians should not eat with a believer who flagrantly sins. So there seems to be a tension there, in my opinion.


  7. Anonymous says:

    A word regarding Jake’s reference to Seow’s views on homosexuality. In Seow’s contribution to the volume, Homosexuality and Christian Community, he makes the point that several verses in the OT do explicitly condemn homosexual intercourse and he states, “In terms of what the texts *say*, there can be absolutely no doubt. Same sex intercourse between males is prohibited” (14, emphasis his). Following this statement he basically spends the rest of the essay saying that the church doesn’t need to always follow what the biblical text says–his methodology is at root philosophical not philological.

    In a curious side note about the Seow contribution, in a book entitled, Homosexuality and *Christian Community*, he never cites the New Testament in his discussion of the interpretation of Old Testament passages.

    In response to Jake–it is not the “anti-gay” passages that are “weak” even according to Seow’s own admission, but rather I find weak the philosophical end-around that modern interpreters attempt to apply. In a somewhat amusing turn of events it seems that moderates apply their own “systematic theology” onto difficult passages and end up forcing the text into their own pre-determined grid.

    Sam J.


  8. James Pate says:

    Thanks for the information, Sam. 🙂 I looked at the book on Questia, and there were chapters on the New Testament, but they weren’t written by Seow.


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