Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, June 23, 2008

Support Same-Sex Marriage

Dear Friends,

I write you because either you or your friends may have some doubts about same-sex marriage. San Francisco and California now have laws allowing people of the same gender to marry each other if they wish. These couples want all the financial, legal and cultural advantages that opposite-sex couples have when they are legally married. It is basically a matter of equal rights, equality under the law for all Americans. It is also a matter of freedom. We Americans pride ourselves on being a free country. Our political leaders tout America’s freedom as a motivation to bring democracy to the nations of the world. In most states same sex couples do not have the same freedom to marry and enjoy the same financial, legal and personal benefits as do straight married couples.

Religion is trotted out to indicate same sex marriage is against the Bible. Barak Obama has said he is against same sex marriage because he is a Christian. I will still vote for him even though his position on this issue is incorrect. The Jewish and Christian Bible is inconsistent on homosexuality unless one takes an absolute literal, fundamentalist interpretation of those books written by human beings. Roman Catholics, Mormons and some fundamentalist and Pentecostal churches interpret the Bible that way. Liberal Christians know the Bible was written by human hands, at particular times in history, reflecting human values and human understanding of divine revelation at a certain time in human development. All commandments and rules in the Bible are interpreted in every age by human beings. For instance, the Old testament law allowing fathers to kill disobedient children is no longer a Jewish or Christian imperative.

There is a cultural prejudice against homosexuals. Some people have trouble seeing same gender people holding hands, kissing or trouble imagining them in bed together. Some cannot think that homosexual parents can raise children properly. Ann and I have several same gender friends who have children and are superb parents. Early studies indicate children raised with same gender parents do quite well in school and adjust well to life.

Marriage is not threatened or diluted by same gender marriage. Marriage has always changed, developed and mutated over the centuries. From the polygamy of Kings David and Solomon and the Mormons to absolute monogamy; from men allowed to divorce women but not vice-versa to full faithful monogamy for those who choose that way of marriage. Some same sex-couples wish to marry and have the full rights and freedoms as straight people do. Many do not. Let freedom be the factor in the decision.

I have long believed that a certain percentage of all humans born into the world are predisposed to love and want to be with, personally and sexually, persons of their same sex. Homosexuals did not choose to be gay any more than I chose to be straight. I think homosexual behavior is a natural part of the way some people have been created.

I want to encourage us all to read all the factual and scientific information we can abut homosexuality and same-gender marriage. Talk with gay and lesbian friends and acquaintances and get to them as people and discover their views. I do hope you and your skeptical friends may find it in your hearts to support same-sex marriages in your state or in California and that you will oppose attempts to thwart same-sex couples from marrying.

Warm regards,


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Are You a Genuine Christian?

Do you want to know if your Christianity is genuine?
Here is the touchstone:
Whom do you get along with?
Who are those who criticize you?
Who are those who do not accept you?
Who are those who flatter you?
Know from that what Christ said once:
“I have come not to bring peace, but division.”10
There will be division even in the same family,
because some want to live more comfortably
by the world’s principles,
those of power and money.
But others have embraced the call of Christ
and must reject all that cannot be just in the world.
NOVEMBER 13, 1977
--Oscar Romero

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Child Porn and Bernie Ward

A Theological Reflection on Bernie Ward and Child Pornography
Sunday, June 8, 2008, at St. John the Evangelist. San Francisco, Third Sunday of Pentecost, Proper 4.

Matthew was a tax collector. Tax collectors were hated by the Jews and Roman citizens of Jesus time, like child pornographers, homosexuals and rapists are today. Tax collectors got a percentage of whatever they could gouge from the citizenry. Jesus took one of these most hated tax collectors and made him a part of the twelve Apostles, his inner circle. Jesus called us to love our enemies, the hated ones, and the despised ones. It would be like Barak Obama taking a Ku Klux Klan member into his cabinet.

Jesus was a revolutionary, a radical and a challenger to the laws and mores of his time. Revolutionary Christians of our time can do no other.

Bernie Ward is a friend of mine. We do not know each other very well. I took his place on KGO-Radio’s “God Talk” on a couple of Sunday mornings. He preached for us at Trinity one Sunday. He is an ordained Roman Catholic priest. He left the ministry, married, became a journalist and broadcaster. He has several children and taught with Ann at the Convent of the Sacred Heart School here in San Francisco.

He has been accused of soliciting child pornography over the Internet. The only thing I know about the case is what I have read in the newspaper. He has pleaded guilty to downloading some illegal images.

Our government has decided seeing and sharing child pornography downloaded from the Internet is illegal.

I certainly believe adults having sex with children should be illegal and punishable. Using sex with children for adult pleasure degrades the child, perhaps forever damaging him or her. Those of you present who have been abused will testify to that.

I know any number of gay men when they were teens wanted to be seduced by older men and sought them. Many straight teen boys fell in lust with their teachers, older sisters or mothers of their friends and yearned for sex with them.

The present laws stop legitimate sex researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists, police and scholars from using the internet to view and download such pictures. The law gets in the way of gaining knowledge about child porn that may lead to healing of the victim and the abuser. My legal advisor suggests anyone doing scientific research should get a written waiver from the local DA or local federal prosecutor. Thus the legal system determines the right of scholars even to do research in the area of child pornography.

The law borders on the state telling people what thoughts they may think.

It is impossible to get federal or foundation grants to study child pornography. Can you imagine a researcher saying to a federal grant commission, “Hi there I’d like to get some money to study child porn?”

Sex with minors is the present day unforgivable sin. I remember when homosexual sex was an unforgivable sin and still is in some quarters.

That law will certainly not prevent adults from sexually abusing children. Child porn will exist whenever people will pay money to view it.

As a pastor, I wonder about people who realize they want to have sex with a child, a person who prefers watching images of children in sexual situations? To whom can they talk? Who will listen objectively and encourage them to talk through their desires and fantasies. You can’t talk with your parent, your teacher, the police, your doctor or the clergy.

If people had an opportunity to talk through their thoughts and feeling perhaps these thoughts would not lead to actions. Thoughts lead to actions

The thoughts are gifts to us from our brain, psyche or unconscious or perhaps even the Holy Spirit. It is what we do about the thoughts that become our personal responsibility.

I visualize a church that has groups where people can be open and honest about their feelings, emotions, fantasies, failures, joys and triumphs. The group would be non-judgmental, supportive and compassionate. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are models where people can say what they need to say in an atmosphere of quiet listening and accepting response.

In the 1970’s I ran old-fashioned encounter groups where people were encouraged to speak openly about feelings, emotions and thoughts. Miracles of confession and forgiveness happened in those groups. I know of noting like them today.

This parish has heard the gospel of accepting the unacceptable over and over again in the past thirty years. Gay, lesbian, transgendered, people with HIV disease, black, white, homeless, single parents and on and on.

Jesus accepted the most hated tax collector and made him a member of his cabinet. I suspect anyone who has fantasies about sex with children could find some people in this parish who would hear them with compassion.

If anyone hearing or reading this sermon has such feelings and want to talk about them, please do talk about them. I for one am open to such a discussion. I am sure there are others who are open to talk with you about this issue.

Having thoughts and fantasies are OK, acting on them with children is not.

We come to the holy table with our own burdens and joys. All are welcome to the unity we find in Jesus the Revolutionary.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Problem of Evil

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Editor of The New Yorker:

The problem of evil is discussed in James Wood’s review of Bart D. Ehrman’s book God’s Problem. The concept of God in the book and the review is of God the father, all-powerful, all knowing and all good. This traditional notion of God is based on human views of how God should behave.

Many Christians believe along with the late Paul Tillich that God is the ground of all being. God is not a being, God is being itself. Therefore, evil is caused by human sin, failure and natural catastrophe.

Humans have a sense of awe, the numinous, holiness, reverence and beauty in life. Many humans want to acknowledge that in worship, prayer and meditation. Humans put a human face on the ground of all being. God the father is represented by a human image in order for humans to have a personal relationship with the divine. Father is an image of God, not God himself. Most churches use the father image of God in liturgies. That usage reinforces the paternal image rather than focusing on being itself.