The other man…REALLY???

thinking it through

by Kenneth Justice

~ The other day at coffee I was congratulating one of my coffee acquaintances, “Dude, for the nearly 10 year’s I’ve known you, this is the longest you’ve dated a woman…what’s its been now, a little over a year?” I asked

He gave me one of those quizzical looks people give when they want to tell you something, but aren’t sure how to say it,

Look Kenneth, I’m gonna just come out and say it cause I’m tired of trying to dance around the truth with ya; to be perfectly honest with you, I’m the other man” he said

Apparently the woman he’s been dating for the past year has another boyfriend…..and my acquaintance is merely the ‘other man’. “Does boyfriend #1 know about you?” I asked

Yea, sort of….this is one of those situations in which we’re all aware of what is going on but we simply pretend that we don’t…..sort of like the whole ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy” he said

Maybe its just me, but the longer I live the more I realize that there are a lot of people out there in life who live very different lives than mine…..and they are okay with it. For me, I grew up in a church culture where everyone had to conform to certain standards of living and anyone who deviated from the path were treated like lepers and shamed for being awful sinners. Even though the bible never says that we should treat people like s**t……somehow it was implied that if certain ‘sins’ were found out, there would be hell to pay;

—) have sex before marriage and you were treated like you were the worst of sinners

—) be the ‘other man’ and well,…..let’s just say that the church leaders aren’t going to pat you on the back on Sunday saying, ‘good job dude’

A decade ago if someone were to have sat at coffee with me and tell me they are the ‘other man’ I probably would have chewed their head off with my sharp criticisms. Surely I would of condemned him and told him that he was a terrible human being for being the ‘other man’. Yet now….all these years later I ask myself; what was the point of all the hostility I displayed toward people when I was younger? Did I really make someone’s life better by condemning them and telling them they were an awful person, mired in the depths of sin?

A number of readers have commented and emailed me this past week on the topic of sin and hell (to be honest I get comments and emails on this topic every single week). The general theme of those who disagree with me is their belief that one of the most ‘loving’ things Christians can do for those who do not believe in Christianity is to tell them they are “headed to hell

I suppose this is the 10th article on this topic I’ve written in the last six months and the reason I keep coming back to the subject is that nowhere else in my thinking is there the evidence of the greatest change than right here.; I’ve learned that I would rather demonstrate grace toward others than condemnation.

The old saying says, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but in the course of the last few years I have to be honest; I’ve experienced a great deal of change in this area. At first it involved me biting my tongue; I would hold back what I really wanted to say to someone….I can remember instances where I was chomping-at-the-bit to chew someone’s head off for some particular ‘sin’ or ‘bad behavior’ they were involved in……and begrudgingly hold back what I really wanted to say. However, as the years went by and I focused more on loving people…..I found that I didn’t have to bite my tongue as much because to put it quite simply; I realized that I no longer harbored those angst-filled condemning words that used to flow so easily from my tongue.

I noticed that the more I focused on simply loving others and demonstrating grace towards them, (the same grace that many have shown towards me)  my heart began to change. Instead of having to ‘work’ at biting my tongue… entire demeanor and attitude experienced a paradigm shift and all my previous hostility was slowly fading to grey.

I realize more and more that its not my place in life to tell others how they are supposed to live. Now for a lot of people, that last sentence might send them into a tizzy because they believe there is only ‘one’ way to live and anyone who deviates from the ‘one’ path must be told they need behavior modification. However, as I’ve written before,

Authenticity wins in the end. Truth (whatever the truth may be) wins in the end. Coercing people, ramrodding your religious beliefs down people’s throats, throwing people up against the wall……those tactics are simply sad and disheartening”

I’m six days away from the beginning of a year long journey stretching out into 10 countries and 25 U.S. States……the success of this journey rests not on me meeting with people and condemning them…..but rather; it rests upon me connecting with others, listening, learning, and ultimately me demonstrating the same type of love towards others that has been shown towards me. Whether you believe in god or not isn’t something I worry about…..but for me, because I believe I have been shown a lot of grace from heaven; I feel its my responsibility to return the favor and show grace towards others.

Its freezing here in the Midwest….and the coffee at my table really helps,


(P.S. If you haven’t heard I’m going on a national and worldwide tour of 100 coffee houses in 2014 check out my link for the news and stay tuned for dates and locations <link> )

Categories: relationships

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128 replies

  1. “I’ve learned that I would rather demonstrate grace toward others than condemnation.” Lovely, Sweetie. And it sounds precisely like The Boss’s attitude. He who was only a few months away from final vows as a priest and is now my husband came to that understanding years ago. It’s one of the many characteristics of his I try to emulate.

    Glad I found your blog. I will share it with him. Will you be anywhere near Syracuse, NY on your tour?

    • At the moment the only place in NY I have scheduled is closer to manhatten….however, I keep getting so many requests from Syracuse and upstate NY I might add it to my schedule later in the year….

      thanks for the great comments and you’re husband sounds like a great guy 🙂

  2. Hey man, I think it’s great what you’re doing, and your blog definitely proves that you’ve come a long way from your old views. It’s good to try to understand and try to relate to people, and I’ve read a lot of your posts and you’re good at it!

    As for your mate, I hope for him that it doesn’t all end in tears 😛

  3. Great post! It’s not anyone’s job, Christian or otherwise, to tell someone how to live. They should be shown by example (our actions speak louder than our words). Live right and others may take notice and change themselves. Condemning words are always unnecessary. Most of all, they should be loved. Love is the most powerful tool we’ve been given. We should always show love.

  4. Beautiful, Kenneth. Thank you.

  5. I can completely relate to your thoughts here. For me, I have come to recognize that what I thought as a child was right all along…God loves everybody. As I continue on my journey as a Christian I have also felt the strongest impression from Him that we all short-change His love for us. His love and understanding is bigger than ours and bigger than we can imagine. So often Christians feel loving empathy but then for some reason assume that God loves less than we do.

    • Home and spirit,

      great comments and I concur. For me…although I was taught about gods love when I was young….somehow the church leaders and people around me didn’t seem to practice it very much….instead they opted for conditional love….whereas god’s love is truly unconditional

  6. 1. Errrr……..Kenneth, I’ve been meaning to ask you…….how can Christians send someone to Hell, if that someone doesn’t believe in Christianity (and therefore, doesn’t believe there is a Hell)?

    2. Thank God you’ve changed and learned a little Compassion and Kindness for your fellow man – you sure sound like you were one Hard & Hell Raising Dude a few years back. (is Dude an American word? I don’t think I’ve heard it here). But then I’m of the older generation.

    3. Methinks you’d better change your photo on the sidebar – looks a wee bit like the old you and I think the new you really needs a warm smile now.

    4. In fact, if you’re ever in Melbourne, Australia, let me take your photo in one of Melbourne’s great coffee shops so we can see you in situ (for your blog).

    • lol yea, I guess ‘dude’ is an American slang….it got big in the 1960’s with ‘hey man’ and a few other terms….

      Australia is so high on the top of my list but at the current moment I don’t see how I can swing it…perhaps at the beginning of 2015….if some kind of money windfall comes my way I might be able to add it last minute to the end of this year’s journey…I’m keeping my fingers crossed 🙂

    • Australia is certainly not cheap to stay or travel around, mainly as it’s such a big country but then, I guess so is the US. I think the whole trouble is that about 93% of the people live on the coastal areas so the vast interior of the country is unpopulated (hence no towns or bus connections).

      Am very much looking forward to your tour.

    • not speaking for Kenneth, of course, but my understanding about #1 has a lot to do with views of final judgment and a “told you so” sort of mentality. I think the idea assumes that in the end, everyone will suddenly realize that Gehenna/Sheol/Hell actually exists, Jesus truly is Lord and Master of everyone, etc., that there will be a grand awakening full of “See?” and “I told you so!”

      My personal experience is that people will persist in their beliefs regardless of what grand evidence or rude awakening is presented to them. I also personally believe that people will gravitate towards what they feel makes them happiest– and that one person’s idea of bliss, paradise, and eternal reward may differ GREATLY from another’s. I think regardless of what happens, people will still largely be as they are today. I get these people have concern in their hearts, worried that their eternal happiness might be in jeopardy if they don’t fight valiantly to save others. But maybe, sadly, they will always hold on to this as well.

  7. Live and let live..

  8. You continue to inspire hope that people can change and that revolution of caring that I keep saying needs to happen, well maybe it can be a reality after all. Thank you.

  9. Demonstrating grace towards others is a gift rarely found…as with compassion, it may be the most difficult thing to understand and practice. A bit too much ego in most of us perhaps, but in the end it is the easiest course of action. As you say, “authenticity wins in the end.”

    Great post, thank you and have a great ’14.

  10. Good post, Kenneth. As an atheist, I’ve always been fascinated by how so many Christians so readily condemn me to an eternity in hell because I don’t believe as they believe. It’s kind of funny to me, actually, because, as Vicki pointed out in her comment, atheists don’t believe that there is a heaven or there is a hell. They may as well condemn me to an eternity is Oz or in the Middle Earth. Or New Jersey.

    • Doobster,

      yup, it is very troubling. I suspect that the current mode of evangelism that Christian’s tend to practice stems from the theology of the 16th, 17th, and 18th, centuries….somehow Christians in the modern era think that because certain philosophies of evangelism were taught hundreds of years ago we are somehow duty bound to continue practicing them even though they are clearly; 1) out of touch with modern society, 2) harmful in many ways, 3) completely insensitive to where and how people are living their lives….

      thanks for the comments 🙂

    • As I was commenting on Vicki’s reply, I’m guessing that they fear that you’ll come to them on Judgment Day, “wailing and gnashing your teeth”, saying, “Oh, my Christian friends, whyyyyy didddn’tt you tellllll me?” because you had a rude awakening, the truth was ‘finally’ made manifest to you…

      I consider myself a Christian (even though some of these folks say no, that I’m a Mormon heretic), but, I think it’s baloney. I think people will still probably keep all of their beliefs no matter what happens in the end. I’m just not a person that fears about the salvation of my friend’s souls in that way, and yes, I have friends of atheist and agnostic beliefs. If they want to follow my direction, that’s cool, but I see that they have happy, fulfilling lives and I think it’s just ridiculous to try to deny that.

    • “Judgment Day”? Sorry, but for me, every day I am alive is judgment day to one degree or another. I judge myself by my actions and deed, my achievement, my failures. Others judge me by whatever yardstick they choose to use to pass their own judgments.

      As an atheist, I don’t buy into this whole nonsense about Rapture, End Times, and Judgment Day. When my time comes, I’ll go quietly (I hope) and will simply cease to exist. Not to worry, Christian soldiers. They’ll be no wailing and gnashing of teeth out of me.

    • Yeah, I can dig that– I think it’s probably better to examine things day by day. Seriously, you don’t need to apologize to me for anything, I’m not bothered. Honest.

      At best, I think the idea is like reconciling a bank account– y’know, accounting stuff, tax time. I was told that the origin of the word “doom” was an old English (Anglo-Saxon) word referring to law, judgment, decree… well, again, in modern terms it’s at best just getting affairs in order and stuff. Dunno about all this melodramatic stuff, so, if your goal is to go quietly out, hey, seems okay to me.

    • No! No!! Not NEW JERSEY!!!

  11. On Christmas day, as a devoting wife, I learned I was the other woman. Talk about giving your spouse an everlasting gift. I was in shocked to say the lease. He turned the table on why he cheated; and began to blame me for his infidelity. I told him he made his choice(s) and I made mine. I explained to him he wasn’t the only one in our bad marriage. I told him that our marriage had all the ingredients for cheating, but it was up to us to remember we made a commitment. Our wedding vows said, “for better or for worse.” And right now Kenneth, I’m struggling to remember I am a beautiful person (inside and out) because of my part I played in his choices. And commitment should be honored despite faith, religion, or any other entity that affirms us as humanitarians. Great post! And congrats on your upcoming tour!

    • Annette, great comments and my heart and prayers go out to you….I hope that you find peace in the midst of all this…

      I’ll be in Denver this spring so perhaps we will be able to get coffee together 🙂

    • Kenneth, I’m searching for answers that will bring total peace concerning my life. Thank you for your sincere concern and prayers. And it will be great to have coffee with you when you come to Denver. 🙂 Have a great day. –Annette

    • Annette, My heart and prayers go out to you, as well. My dad lived a double-life and it devastated all of us (especially my mom) when we found out. I will say one thing: she found peace in her life after he left. Her life began in her early 50s. But, I don’t want to give you advice. Just sending love your way. For now, just take care of yourself. You deserve the best.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words.

  12. Congratulations on your tour. Wish you the best. Travelling has taught us a lot, the most important being, grace. It is humbling to see/experience other cultures. Take care..

  13. You are a good soul…… I find your thought process to be similar to my own. I also grew up in a family with strong Christian beliefs, however as I grew up I only witnessed hypocrisy and wrong doing. Then I would watch as these same individuals would judge and condemn others….they still do. I never felt good about the way they looked at other people and wondered why they felt their own behavior was above the rest. I truly believe that Loving and being respectful to others is the way God intended for us to treat one another.

    • Tia,

      great comment and I agree; what influences people the most is not us judging them or condemning them; but us demonstrating to them love that they would want to imitate 🙂

  14. I have nothing to say to this. Just a thank you fro those wonderful reads.
    may understanding be among us all. Understanding we are all human

  15. Everyone is the same, no one is special, mind your own business and let other people mind theirs…those are the rules I grew up with in Chicago. No one can know what’s right for someone else and sin, and it’s definition, exist in the mind of the person who thinks about sin and it’s definition. You have to be TAUGHT that there is such a thing as sin to begin with. I don’t know anyone who believes in sin or talks about sin or thinks about sin. I’ve never once used the word or thought about it (until this post). I guess sin means doing something other people don’t want you to do. People have the right to believe what they want, as long as they keep it to themselves. If you don’t like someone, don’t hang around with him/her but don’t think you know what’s right for him/her either. Judges can be corrupt, blinded by their own self righteousness, view point, beliefs, prejudices and delusions of power and self importance. Unless someone is harming you personally, the other person has the right to live as he/she wish, without the consent of anyone else. It’s better to think about what we ourselves are doing and let other people alone because what’s wrong to one person, isn’t wrong to someone else. And absolutely NO ONE has the right to judge another person (my belief) . You can disagree with someone, but if you’re judging someone, turn the tables and try to BE like the person you are judging. Put yourself in that person’s position and realize that he/she is judging you for your actions or beliefs and wants to help YOU change. LOL most people pull back from that one because they believe they are right and their minds are shut like steel traps against any self examination or change at all. The judges are the ones I avoid at all costs. I would never try to change them because they believe they are the saviors of the universe and it’s just the rest of us who need help. Cracks me up. And when you don’t take those people seriously, or you laugh at them, as they spew out their bitter and hateful words, they get really mad. And I’m not judging the judges, they have the right to be the way they are, just not around me.

    • there’s definitely a large population of people in the U.S. (and other countries) who think about ‘sin’ a lot….thousands of books are written on the topic all the time…and zillions of churches abound that preach sin every sunday…….so I guess it depends on the people ya hang out with or socialize with….for me growing up in a heavily entrenched evangelical culture; sin was something that came up in conversation every day of my life.

  16. Like other commenters here, I’m also an Atheist…but I don’t claim it very often. Not because I’m uncomfortable with my own (lack of) beliefs, but because some Atheists can be so very hate-filled and judgemental and mean, I don’t like to be associated with them. And that brings me to my point…I wish they, too, could learn some grace and to stop trying to force their beliefs on others. Do you suppose that type of behavior is just human? Do we all want others to accept and believe what we believe as a way of validating ourselves? Do you think I’ll ever convert you to math? 😉

    • 1) you will never convert me to math because despite all the progress I’ve made in being more gracious and open-minded….I still have a stubborn streak that is ferocious..and we can only expect Me to change so much in one lifetime 😉

      2) I could be wrong here, but I think this attitude is more connected to western culture….because when I’ve met people from other cultures they seem much more open and less dogmatic…..take Asians for instance, they are a lot more laid back about discussing god, athiesm, or whatever……they don’t seem to be as militant in their beliefs as the Christians and atheists of the U.S…..I could be wrong and be making a gross over-generalization….but this is simply an observation I’ve come to after interacting with hundreds of Asians who have immigrated to the u.s.

      3) as to the validation/ acceptance thing…..I think your on to something there; people seem to think that if they can get more people to agree with them it somehow “validates” their particular belief…..yet it really doesn’t. I’ve talked with so many Christians that somehow think that because millions of Christians believe in the resurrection that somehow “proves” it…..kind of a silly and naive reason for believing in the resurrection if ya ask me… obviously as a Christian I believe in the resurrection but it’s not something I want to argue about with people…..I’d rather be friends with someone, love them, and if they eventually want to believe in god then fine….but if they don’t, so what, I’m not going to be any different towards them simply because they don’t believe in god…….

      That’s where Christians go wrong too often; they create the “haves” and the “have nots”….as though Christians are “better” than atheists or “smarter” than atheists…..and with that attitude I believe Christians are actually demonstrating that they really don’t care about following Jesus since he never walked around with that kind of attitude

    • I concur! (Well, except with that first point.) 😉 I know this is going to be a strange thing to say for an Atheist, but I do wish there would be some more Jesus following in our culture…particularly in the Christian sector. He’s why we (my family) celebrate Christmas even though we’re not Christians…we appreciate and value his moral teachings even if we don’t believe the rest of the story. (Okay, we have a lot of the previous celebrations that fell at the end of December thrown into our mix, too.)

      I admire Christians who stand strong in their beliefs without needing everyone in the room to agree with them. Same for Atheists or any religion. (Atheists also create that have and have not and better than climate…I don’t like it. Not one bit.)

      Ultimately, regardless of religion, we should all just be good to each other, in my opinion. (Not that I’m trying to force that belief on anyone or anything.) 😉

    • I don’t think its strange for an atheist to say that 🙂

      Few people have ever lived remarkable lives….Jesus, Gandhi….they were truly remarkable people…..

      And I think e Christians have somehow forgotten or overlooked that Jesus spent the overwhelming majority of his time hanging out with the people at the bottom; the poor, widows, the sick, etc…..I mean, the kind of lifestyle he lived was awe-inspiring……yet how many Christians in our day-and-age can we say are living awe-inspiring lives? Not too many if ya ask me..

      So IMHO, if Jesus were to be walking around in the U.S. today….I suspect a lot of atheists would end up hanging out with him all the time…..because someone like him only comes around once in a great while…….(well, of course me being a Christian I’d say someone like him only came once lol…but I’m sure ya get my point)…

      Now would every atheist who were to hang out with Jesus become one of his followers? I dunno….but from what I read about Jesus; his love wasn’t contingent upon people following all the “rules” to a “T”….

      Just a few thoughts 🙂

    • I don’t think it’s strange… I’ve read a comment or two from Atheists saying as much, I think was usually in the context of morals, values, etc. being a good thing, and the teachings of Jesus being of worth

    • I’ve discussed this point with one of my Atheist friends (who happens to be transgender, and has taught me a lot on that issue)… I guess there are just some people that push on the extremes no matter what. I’ve read stories about people converting between belief and “non-belief” in both directions, and that personality seems to stay constant– to be aggressive and pushy about their beliefs.

      I’m sure you’re not alone in the least bit.

    • Perhaps that’s it…a personality type rather than religious fervor or anti-religious fervor. Interesting.

  17. Man! Think the good lord is running “God Love workshops” at the minute. He called me in for a session (and I have no bad church history to blame). Got a green light to get back on the keyboard. Well expressed thoughts and a lovely piece as always. (btw – I used less words than you. Really!) 🙂

  18. Having an acquaintance for 10 years that finally confesses his year long relationship has to be hidden, is an invitation to comment. This man has some intense fear of having a “real” honest relationship with a woman and so found a situation that it would be impossible for her to ask for more. I say that he wouldn’t have told you if he feared you would tell him he was sinning. The real conversation is how can he live a lie. Someone recently accused me of not entering into a real relationship since my divorce. My response is that I am willing to wait for the man that I believe will engage with all his heart. I have not felt that towards anyone yet.

    • “Someone recently accused me of not entering into a real relationship since my divorce. My response is that I am willing to wait for the man that I believe will engage with all his heart”

      ellen, if ya ask me I think that is a perfectly reasonable attitude 🙂

  19. No thoughts. I am very puzzled.

  20. Age I have found..has a wonderful way of mellowing a person..if they allow it..There are things I will not back down on..such as abuse..hurting people and proliferating lies..yet my beliefs are mine..and I always look to Jesus as my guide. He loved people…gave grace…and like you said give grace that was given to it forward. I just wish that we did not have to wait until we were older to get that…we can love…

    • absolutely, age can definitely help people chill out…..on the flip side though I know a number of people that seem to only be getting more stubborn and nasty the older they get….,..

  21. I’m a lover not a hater,
    I’m a giver not a user ,
    I’m a player, not a cheater.
    As I grow older,
    I filled my folder,
    with colourful memories,
    struggling my boundaries,
    excepting life changing,
    that feels like knife stabbing,
    still forgive and forget,
    let others make their own fate.😊

    About your “Dude” being “The other man” he should considered him self lucky, hope he finds true love.
    Enjoy your hot coffee in this cold day .

    • “I’m a player not a cheater”

      I know a lot of people who are proud of being ‘players’…not saying that’s a good thing…but those people are definitely out there for sure 🙂

  22. I love this. Really. I grew up in a Lutheran church full of pointing fingers, judgement, shady fund management, perfection seekers, and really old people with extreme views. It made me afraid to “live” and even more confused about who God was. We all interpret faith and scripture differently as we search for truth – some just get a little too harsh and off track with those interpretations. However, it is their own. I learned to take the “grace” route as well. I found a relationship with God and it completely changed my life. I made Him my “other man”. 😉

    One thing is for sure though – without love we have nothing. In my walk, I strive to build my character and integrity, and TRY to live the example of Jesus. I fail a lot…but that’s the beauty of being a sinful human. If you’re ever in Las Vegas come have a cup with me!

    • Yea, I suspect we have similar background for sure……and thankfully we are both trying to move towards grace rather than legalism…there is a lot more joy in life for me now 🙂

  23. I didn’t even make it to the cafe today because of the cold. Who wants to go out in that?

    But, on the topic of lifestyle, I believe everyone find their own truth. No two people share the exact same truth. We have to find ours for ourselves, through our own personal and spiritual journey.

    Just the other day, I read an article about a Bi man who had a unique abnormality. I’ll try and keep this PG by saying he had two…. human horns (man, I hope you watch Futurama and get that reference). He’s currently in what he considers a sort of monogamous relationship with two people. That is to say, he has a girlfriend and a boyfriend. The three of them together are in a committed relationship with each other. This is certainly not the kind of life I would want for myself, but that’s because that’s not my truth. His truth is different. That’s okay. It should be okay. He’s not hurting anyone and he is happily in a loving relationship. I don’t see where I or anyone else has room to judge.

    • Yea, well I was up early but same here…roads were still beig plowed….but I made it eventually and here I sit 😉

      I’ve only seen futurama a couple times but yes lol i know what your saying….and your story is spot on; what could me or you or anyone accomplish by confronting the dude; answer= nada….because we aren’t responsible for his life and his decisions, we are only responsible for loving him and being there for him whatever way we can…..its not our responsibily to force our own personal convictins upon him,…because he obivously has different convictions. I prefer the term conviction over “truth” in this context because we are all convicted differently; some people are convicted not to drink alcohol (thank god I’m not one of those people) and others are not….

      ultimately, I figure that if god wants to change something about someone (whether it’s their nasty attitude or their propensity to gossip) that god will be able to change them without my help…..and that its usually through love not force, tha people change

    • That’s true. you could even say we have scientific proof that people change in that way. Repeated studies have found, for example, that people who are overweight are not helped by being put down. However, when they are encouraged and loved, many are able to lose weight.

      There was a song I used to sing when I attend Catholic churches called “They will know we are Christians by our Love.” I like to think that applies here. Too bad I didn’t see a lot of people actually living that way.

      I guess I use the word truth because, to me, having two partners at the same time is wrong. To me, that man’s life is not right. I think that way because that lifestyle is not right for me. However, I have no idea what is and isn’t right for someone else. If that man is happy and healthy in his relationship, then maybe that is simply what right for him.

      I don’t think the things that one person labels as right has to be right for everyone.

    • Great song…I remember it from my youth as well….

      The reason I prefer “conviction” over “truth” is cuz I think we mistake some things as being (morally) wrong….when I believe that they aren’t really a case of right or wrong…..

      Some things which are “truth” are truth for everyone…whether we are Christian, atheist, Hindu or whatever; murder is wrong for instance. It’s imbedded into our nature that taking another person’s life is morally reprehensible……now of course some people believe there are exceptions; if your defending yourself from an attacker and accidentally kill the attacker we wouldn’t view that as wrong….but we also wouldn’t say that is a case of “murder” per se but rather it’s a case of “killing” which may seem like a matter of semantics but I think it’s an important distinction

      So in the case of sexual ethics….I believe there are some “truths” that Everyone agrees on (like we all agree on murder being morally wrong)

      —) rape is morally wrong
      —) molesting a child is morally wrong

      But as to particular sexual behaviors (which I won’t list here cuz I’ll just assume we can all imagine them) we are each convicted differently……..

      I talked with someone recently who said they would never date someone outside of their particular race; that’s “their” conviction….but it’s not a fundamental objective truth that we can’t date outside of our race…..

      Does this make any sense?

    • I think the key element to me, as one who has studied human rights, is that anything goes so long as you are not interfering with another person’s human rights. Murder obviously does this and it is always a violation of one’s right to life. It becomes ‘right’ when a person’s own right to life and/or health is immediately at risk. The definition changes from murder to defense.

      The other behaviors you describe are never right. Rape, by definition, require a person to strip another of their right to choice and bodily autonomy. Children receive higher protection under human rights since they are still in development and not fully able to advocate for themselves. Taking advantage of that state is always, no matter what action taken, abuse.

      If you live your life in a way that does not interfere with anyone’s rights, they I have no problem with you. I may not agree with your life choices, but I’m not going to condemn you.

    • Agreed 🙂 and perhaps we entirely agree on the subject but simply approach it from different perspectives using different terms 🙂

    • Isn’t that just the way of the world? I can’t tell you how many long discussions I’ve had on the correct term to apply to a specific subject.

    • yup, true that….a lot of subjects come down to semantics; we all have different meanings for different words….and the goal is to shoot for coherence 🙂

    • It makes sense to me, but then my wife and I both experience this sort of orientation, really, and we have read, heard, and seen of situations like this– not just defined by matters of orientation, but polyamory generally. We decided that monogamy between ourselves was best, but… that’s us. It seemed the best solution for us personally.

      Of course, people have asked us about the Mormon history of polygynous marriage, which can be a can of worms unto itself. There’s a lot to say with polygyny being a Biblical practice, what the Mormon understanding of marriage was at the time, the condition of women in the Victorian and frontier eras, etc., very little having to do with modern notions of sexuality– as well as our church discontinuing the practice, and our disowning of splinter groups that continue it.

      I guess people, all in all, just do the best with the circumstances they have.

    • Polygamy is a good example. If you were to ask me my opinion of whether it is right or wrong, I confess I would say wrong. I don’t understand it and I wouldn’t recommend it as a healthy lifestyle. If you were to then ask me if I think polygamy should remain illegal, I would say no. Consenting adults should be allowed to live and marry whoever they want. If they want to marry more people, that is their choice.

      There are various things that are like that for me. That said, I don’t expect people to conform to my ideas of right and wrong. Like I said, what is right to me may not be for someone else and vice versa. So long as the idea at hand does not interfere with the rights of others, you should be able to do whatever you want.

      The controversy of that idea becomes the children. But, unless a child is being physically, sexually or emotionally abused or if the child is being deprived of human rights such as an education, I don’t have a problem.

    • Totally understood– I’d been presented with very STRONG arguments just on polyamory, but I’d never seen in lasting in practice with those that I knew that pursued such relationships.

      I have much, much less personal experience with polygamy, actually, I mean in terms of polygyny (as polyandry has very different circumstances, and I think it exists mostly in Tibet and Mongolia). It doesn’t seem financially stable as there is more pressure on the man and his financial resources, and the families overall seem more impoverished. I think even if it was legal again, Child Protective Services might be even more wrecked than it already is (if it led to more reports).

      Yes, children are a concern– this is something I’ve discussed with friends and acquaintances who are also of bisexual orientation, mostly women, really. I remember one saying she made specific choices because she wanted stability for her child.

    • another problem with polygamy…is that lets face it; men are by and large VERY sexual creatures…and if one man could marry, say 10 women….what would all the heterosexual men do as the female population of prospective single women diminishes? it would end up having a bad effect on society as a whole cause you’d have all these men with sexual energy and not enough women……

    • Kenneth, women are very sexual creatures too– it’s just my observation that they express it in different ways.

      I’ll give you what’s hard doctrine for our church– it’s long, but I hope it gives some context:

      23 But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

      24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

      25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.

      26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

      27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

      28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

      29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

      30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (Jacob 2:23-28)

      This is in the Book of Mormon, and Jacob here is telling the Nephite people of his time that they were wrong to excuse themselves in the way that they did.
      (He also speaks of using wealth to benefit all earlier in the chapter: “And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”)

      What we have taken away from these words is that at times polygamy (polygyny, specifically) was given to increase the number of a people, otherwise, monogamy is the rule. I don’t think it would be appropriate today– and I hope I don’t seem as advocating such. But seriously, I freely recognize the role that it had in the formation of my church– most born Mormons of longtime member families have this. I’m a fifth-generation descent of Parley P. Pratt through his fourth wife, Mary Wood. When I went to school in Rexburg, I was told most residents were descendants of Thomas E. Ricks (Ricks was the name of the college there before it became BYU-Idaho), because of the colony there– and I had a friend who was one such descendant.
      Why did people ask Mitt Romney, who happens to be a distant relative of mine, about his policies concerning Latinos? Because my great-grandfather Rey L. Pratt was “the father of the Mormon Mexican mission” and because my family has a deep history in the Mormon colonies in Mexico. (It’s all there in Wikipedia, and I can confirm the accuracy of much of it because I checked.)

      Women did not have many employment prospects in the 19th century. This obviously has changed. The Mormon people were few in the 19th century. Obviously, this has changed quite a bit, too. Again, polygamy is not appropriate now, but, you understand how it was part of the history, right?

    • Jak,

      psychological/sex studies done to determine the sexual behavior of heterosexual men, heterosexual women, lesbians, and gays (etc) have found that statistically men (whether gay or straight) desire sex more frequently than women……do women desire sex? Absolutely, I’m now downplaying that at all……however, what would lead to worse behavior (on average) men who can’t get laid….or women who cant get laid?

      Andrew Sullivan lays out this argument in much greater depth…and in this context I’m merely giving you the big picture view of……

      in no way am I trying to diminish or look down on the sex drive of women….but I think the scientific evidence of men having more intense sex drives is pretty convincing.

    • I’d be interested in reading the study, because I’m thinking that the difference may not be so wide than we once thought. I mean, it seems to me that younger generations of women are much more aggressive, and speak much more openly of sexuality than generations previous, even yours and mine.

    • I can’t give you a link to any of the peer reviewed research journal studies cause ya have to be a paying subscriber, but here’s a link to WebMD which cites various studies on the topic and a key phrase in the article;
      Study after study shows that men’s sex drives are not only stronger than women’s, but much more straightforward. The sources of women’s libidos, by contrast, are much harder to pin down

    • I can agree with the idea that men’s libidos are more straightforward, and women’s are more fluid.

      Parts of this article seem familiar to me, and well, again, I still feel it repudiates my point that saying “men want sex more than women do” is grossly oversimplifying the issue and glosses over a lot of social factors.

    • I’m happy you understand because I really didn’t want that to come off as judgmental. People should be able to say something is right or wrong (in their eyes) without offending people who think differently. I’m not claiming you do or don’t think differently than I do. It’s just something I work at because it didn’t always come easy to me.

      Any parent, regardless of sexual orientation, makes certain decisions for the sake of their child (or desire to have a child). I think stability is probably the most important factor in a child’s life. I would argue it is more important than the number of parents or the parents’ orientation.

    • You’re quite welcome– I think I’ve been blessed to have so many interesting friends (and family members) that have really helped me to broaden my mind. I think my parents raised me with a healthy degree of open-mindedness. There were limits to that sometimes, but most who have stuck with me (not all have)… well, we talk about stuffs like this all the time. I think we feel that we need to, to make sense of the world around us.

    • Tk, its when children enter the equation that it gets tricky….I watched the dateline episode on that guy Warren Jeffs….holy cow..seems like a lot of child abuse was occurring and yet so many of the children wouldn’t prosecute because they were brain washed.

    • This will get into questions of the law. If a child is clearly being abused, but the child doesn’t want to prosecute (as would probably be the case if someone close to them was the instigator of the abuse), doesn’t the state act on behalf of the child? A 12-year-old certainly has the ability to choose not to report a beating, for example, but when a teacher and then a child services employee notices the injuries, does that 12-year-old have the right to say they want to stay where they are? Wouldn’t child protective services take them out of the home as soon as abuse is confirmed regardless of the child’s willingness to prosecute?

    • it’s just tough when it comes to situations where brain washing is occurring…because until they get the kid (or even young adult) out and away from the situation it can difficult to know if they are being brainwashed to believe that everything is okay or whether things are actually in truth ‘okay’…….I hate to pick on polygamous religions like Warren Jeff’s church…but there are a lot of instances in history of children (and adults and young adults) being abused in those religions.

  24. I guess I am stunned Kenneth.
    Do people send you emails like that?
    I guess it’s true. Opinions are like a**h****, everyone has them.
    Religion surely brings out the worst in people.
    I applaude you for utilizing grace. It is so hard to do. I myself right now am having to learn that at this very moment. And funny how that works, it’s almost like people would rather you condemn them than grace them… It keeps the fire stoked.

    Wonderful post. As always.

    • Yea I get emails like that 🙂 a lot of Christians seem very convinced that the highest priority we are supposed to have is to tell people they are going to hell……and they tend to add that by telling people they are going to hell its a way of “loving” others…go figure

    • Reminds me of my mother telling me criticism was her way of showing love and concern… hehe, she is mostly broken of that now, but, well, y’know. Some days are better than others.

    • yea….for some reason people believe that ‘force’ or ‘criticism’ changes people but in fact it rarely works out that way…..theres a great book (out of print unfortunately) “Raising your kids with love not force” that I found very helpful when I first began pursuing the counseling field.

  25. Today is the first that I’ve heard about your coffee house tour. I’m looking forward to following it an reading about the insights that you gain along the way. Hearing about input from other cultures should be especially interesting!


    Quoting Culture Monk: “I noticed that the more I focused on simply loving others and demonstrating grace towards them. . . ”

    Interesting that you should mention that! I recently ran across a blog by a Congregationalist minister here on WP. He addresses that particular issue (amongst others) in his “State of the Church” sermon/blog. I think that you might find it interesting, so here’s a link:

    He also addresses things such as polyamory, nudism and other “alternative” lifestyles in various other blog posts. I find his approach refreshing.

    Have a great day and enjoy your coffee!


  26. Powerful post, Kenneth.

    Come on! Where in Texas are you going? Then again, I think back to you saying that we wouldn’t have much to chat about since neither of us seek out random conversations and enjoy the quiet moments. LOL It’s best if you find the chatty peeps. 😀

    • I would LOVE to chat with you over coffee Audrey 🙂 ill have the official dates and locations up n the next week or so….it’s a big agenda and I want to make sure that once I officially post the schedule that I will be able to stick to it in order that people can mark the dates on their own calendars 🙂

    • I’d love that, too.Your view on life is frightenly similar to mine. I’m still way too envious of your trip south. I hope you’ll blog a little about it, unless it’s for pleasure. I’m terribly interested in life down there. Yea, I kinda think you’d go over your one cup limit with me. 😀

    • The CR trip is half pleasure / half blogging….I do a ton of writing while I’m there and its the one week out of the year that I truly feel no pressure in life whatsoever….it’s been a very healing time for me and it’s why I’ve continued going there year after year…..

    • Sounds perfect! No pressure. Healing. I think it’s great that you find that kind of peace in CR. Maybe you should go today. Charge up early. 😉 I’m planning my trip for this year, as well. Hoping to work there mostly, but for me I need that push to function differently.

    • So hav u been there before? And what do u mean “work” ? We’re u being serious that u go there to build houses?

    • I’ve not been to CR. I have an interest to go on mission there this year with a group who builds homes. I don’t necessarliy see myself doing a lot of the manual labor, but I have an interest in ministering to others. Teaching, mostly. However, I do feel an urge to use more than my head. To feel how making a difference with my hands can change me.

  27. I won’t write my normally long response. I will just say I agree with you. Showing love, grace and compassion has won more people over in my years as a Christian than “hell fire and brimstone”. I show them the love of Christ, which plants a seed.

  28. I always agree on those points Kenneth. The only thing is for me, is I have to admit to being a bit more willing to say my opinion on things when it comes to “cheating” because it’s just such selfish behavior and self-serving. I can’t stand the idea of treating someone else that way so watching someone else do it is such a tough pill for me to swallow. I do get strong opinions on open marriages, etc., etc., also, but I do my best not to judge. I think, at least for me, sharing my thoughts on it, isn’t the same as condemning or telling an individual he or she is going to hell for that behavior – depending on my approach of course. If that’s the case, a sh*tload of people with be there with him or her. Infidelitiy is something that’s really gotten out of hand if you ask me. Again, that said. I do agree. Forgiveness, grace, love, etc., is much more warranted, needed than hate and anger. Hate and anger do nothing to solve problems, they increase problems.

    • Jen, I guess I don’t understand why so many people view cheating as worse than all the other ‘sin’s’ or ‘bad behaviors’; gossip, slander, fill-in-the-blank……is cheating bad? sure….but bad things are going on every day and if ya ask me; more people’s lives are seriously hurt by gossip and slander than by cheating; I mean that not everyone is in a relationship with a cheater.

    • I think it depends on your experience Kenneth. Slander and gossip have hurt you more so you view those as worse but if you’ve been cheated on, it’s just as bad. I’m not saying that cheating is actually worse than other bad behaviors, as any time you hurt another person, it’s just wrong. I can’t totally explain why it just gets to me so much but I think in part because it’s such a selfish behavior and it has such a ripple effect. Perhaps I would see it differently if I had a lot of people talk poorly about me, etc., or if those rumors had actually made my life difficult in some fashion like it interfered with my work or relationships, etc. I haven’t had that so it’s hard to draw upon it. I have been cheated on though and it’s just horrid. It really makes you question yourself, you feel stupid, untrusting, like you’re not good enough, or what did I do so wrong to deserve this, etc. It’s a super empty feeling that leads to lots of angst and anger. I think I dislike it so much because it’s two people willfully ignoring a third person’s feelings, etc. They’re not giving a damn about the damage they are causing for selfish reasons – what if there are kids involved – how cheating impacts them is completely overlooked, etc. It’s also disrespectful on a few different levels. Again, I suppose experience has a lot to do with it and the fact that I haven’t had any dealing with hurtful words like you have. You must not talk to many people who have been cheated on Kenneth. Many many people are cheated on, what seems like regularly to me, and it’s pretty ugly. I bet that girl who you met not all that long ago who is the girlfriend of the guy who serially cheats on her would have something to say about that. I said it before, I’ll say it again… I agree… I don’t think that cheating is necessarily worse, but don’t downplay it either. I wouldn’t say it’s less than gossip – equal perhaps but not less.

    • Jen, I guess I’m also considering the bigger picture because there are a lot of cultures that simply don’t view ‘cheating’ or married people having sex with someone other than there partner as a big deal. I’m not defending the behavior at all, I want to be clear on that. But as someone who wastes a lot of time watching the New Wave films and having hung out with a ton of people from other countries….I know from firsthand experience that not everybody views cheating as being as bad as we view it here in America………

      but gossip, slander…those seem to be universal ‘bad behaviors’ that everyone REALLY hates…..does that make sense? or does it sound like I’m trying to give a monopoly get out of jail free card to cheaters?

    • I understand that better now; I suppose it was sounding like that to me before lol. I don’t mean to get testy about it – it’s just that when my ex cheated on me it was so bad and poorly handled (in addition to the cheating lol) and he cheated twice… the second time after trying to convince me to marry his ass… thank God I didn’t say yes. Anyway, it’s just so personal for me. I do understand that slander/libel/rumors are incredibly hurtful in more ways than one. I’ve been lucky to not have to deal with it. I guess that’s why I say for me, it’s hard to see it as hurtful because I’ve been lucky that way – I would likely feel differently if I had.

    • It sounds like your ex in general…aside from the cheating (but also included), definitely must have had some issues…and usually the cheating is symptomatic of other issues.

  29. The path to Heaven goes through the Hell…

    If you volunteerly go there for others, saying no matter what, than your life is going to be Blessed, and the more you pour out the more abundance you’ll have…

  30. Yup. Conduct yourself in the truth. Respond to others in grace.

  31. “A number of readers have commented and emailed me this past week on the topic of sin and hell (to be honest I get comments and emails on this topic every single week). The general theme of those who disagree with me is their belief that one of the most ‘loving’ things Christians can do for those who do not believe in Christianity is to tell them they are “headed to hell””

    I can remember back when this twisted idea actually made sense to me. Later on I thought it best to at least let them go to hell in peace rather than giving them hell on earth. I later gave up the hell idea completely.

    • ” Later on I thought it best to at least let them go to hell in peace rather than giving them hell on earth”

      I love that line! yea….its the way I grew up and all these years later all I can think is; ‘what was I thinking?’

    • I used to feel so stupid about my former beliefs, but now I look back and realize that back then I had nothing else to compare them with.

  32. Great post. I hope your friends situation is resolved in the bet way soon. I had the same views you had and I have changed a lot from way back when. I think it is just maturity and my experiences with people that has caused me to see the world through a new light. However, I do want to point out that religions should not be judged by their followers. I do believe that we should all be polite and understanding to each other as we are all searching and striving for success, whatever that may mean to each person. Some of us wish for others what we wish for ourselves, which is what I believe leads many to preaching their own truths. I myself never feel offence or anger when I get the random invitations to other religions, whether out on the street or from a knock at the door. I feel happy that they truly believe in their truth and they want that for others. It’s also a good time for me to learn about the way of life of others with an open mind. I am looking forward to reading your world tour blogs!

  33. Hi CultureMonk, I just wanted to let you know I have nominated you for the lighthouse award. Your posts always are thought provoking and entertaining – brightening not only my world but many others I am sure. You probably don’t do awards but take it as a sign of appreciation. You can find out more at cheers Irene

  34. “I realize more and more that its not my place in life to tell others how they are supposed to live.” I wish more people would come to this realization! You must have a lot more serenity from living this way than you had before. My motto is “Clean your own house before trying to clean someone else’s.” Especially since it’s my experience that those that tell others what to do, often live a private life that is a big, fat, unhappy mess.

  35. Have a safe and rewarding journey.

  36. It’s funny that as I get older the one certainty I appreciate is that I don’t have all the answers.

    I am weary of being with people who say but don’t do. My perception has changed (thankfully) & I now see the most powerful outworking of my faith as trying to BE Jesus in situations & not just talk about Him. In fact these days my aim is to try & demonstrate something different to people who, like myself, are struggling, long before I mention my faith. I find that trust is perhaps the greatest foundation for effective sharing.

    I would perhaps add another ‘no no’ to your list: be a Christian & suffer with depression 🙂 It’s amazing how many people have solutions but how few actually listen.

    Keep up the good work: we write about similar things.

    Have a great 2014 & enjoy your coffee 🙂


  37. Kenneth, it is very hard to believe there is a man only for a woman, be it from may past experience or from rumors or facts around me. I can accept this cruel truth as long no one knows or feels the cheating…Though I must say this kind of cheating is an art and few can master it. On the other side even I’m not the prettiest woman alive though I had many offers of being the “other woman”. I may have lots of my bads but I’ll never be “the other” or the one who will break a family.

  38. Hey Kenneth! Happy New Year. Ive nominated you for an award (its a little late as I didn’t have internet until recently so I apologise).
    I absolutely love reading your blog so thanks for posting. 🙂

  39. I agree with you that we need to show grace and compassion rather than condemnation toward others, EXCEPT when that “other person’s” actions or behavior greatly harms or destroys another person in the process.

  40. Authenticity, grace, compassion… I agree these are the things we need in our life, our culture… But can’t help feeling a little sad for this dude too. Seems to me he’s just settling..

  41. “The same grace that they have shown towards me”
    As Christians don’t we so quickly forget where we were and the people who loved us in that place, no matter what we were doing “wrong” at the time. Thank God for those people, and like you, I want to be one of them as well. Safe travels!

  42. Authenticity wins in the end. That is the motto that got me moving on my own blog…

    you may find this song interesting in light of this post:

    Jefferson Airplane – Triad


  1. The other man…REALLY??? | 2l2phant
  2. The other man…REALLY??? | Stuart Wood's Weblog

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