Monthly Archives: July 2015

Back to School Advice for Teachers

A new school year is about to start, and many teachers have already been working – without pay I might add – to prepare their classrooms for the first day of school. Everything in their rooms will be perfect in anticipation of the arrival of new faces, new personalities, and new dreams. During those first days of school, teachers will lay a foundation filled with rules and routines for students to follow. Most students will listen closely and try their best to stay within the rules and routines, but a few will be hard-headed and insist on doing things their way, which will result in a long tedious year for them, their parents, and their teachers.

Sometimes adults (teachers) can be just as pig-headed. There are basic rules of conduct and strategies teachers can and should follow to ensure a great school year, but sometimes teachers choose to ignore them or, more likely, they are not aware of them. Where advice to students is usually matter-of-fact and rule based with little latitude for student interpretation, advice to teachers is generally optional and wide open to teacher interpretation. They can take it or leave it, or they can twist it in any way they so choose. While most teachers are eager to get as much help or advice as possible, especially if it will help them have a smooth running school year, there are a few who will heed no one’s advice except maybe their own. To them I say good luck, and to those teachers who would never turn a deaf ear to tips or advice, I recommend they look carefully at the following advice in this article. Some of this advice I learned by being pig-headed and learning the hard way, but the majority of it I learned through the kindness of colleagues who felt sorry enough for me to share. The first survival lesson any teacher should learn is to never be afraid or too proud to steal an idea, tip, or piece of advice that could have a positive and productive impact on their students and their careers. Therefore, I hope teachers read this blog and find something they can use to make their life as a teacher a little brighter and easier.

Back to School Advice for Teachers:

Kids – without them teachers do not have a job!

  • DON’T ever, ever, ever, put down a child, use sarcasm with a child or think less of a child because of his family background or previous history. Every student deserves to start the school year with a clean slate. When it comes to kids, parents send teachers the best they have to offer; they send the talented, the untalented, the smart, the not so smart, the even tempered, the hell-on-wheels, the cute and cuddly, the dirty behind the ears, the angels, and the mean as a snake.  They send the well cared for, the neglected, the well-adjusted, and the abused. Each time a parent sends a child to school, they pray the child will find a teacher who will ignite a spark or a fire that will give their child a chance for a brighter future;
  • DON’T expect kids to know what to do and how to behave! TEACH them your expectations, classroom rules, and routines beginning day one. DON’T just post rules in the classroom or go over expectations and routines one or two times. During the first couple of weeks take time to practice ROUTINES and reinforce EXPECTATIONS. PRACTICE what you preach!

Classroom Instruction – the teacher’s core work!

  • DON’T allow idle time such as allowing kids to talk quietly the last few minutes of class.       There is no such thing as TALKING QUIETLY – even adults cannot talk quietly for more than about forty-five seconds, so how can kids be expected to do so? DON’T waste your time reminding them to talk quietly over and over or waste their instructional time by permitting such a wasteful practice. Teaching BELL to BELL is more productive and less stressful!
  • DON’T expect kids to “sit and git.” School is not about teaching; it is about LEARNING! A teacher can be smart, prepared and do a great job of presenting the content material, but if the kids are not learning the material, the teacher has only done half the job. Teaching is the easy part. The difficult part – the part that separates real teachers from “hams on the stage” – is doing whatever it takes to ensure kids learn.  Teaching is about kids learning; it is not about delivering a lesson!
  • DON’T be a SQUATTER – be a TEACHER!   Teachers should be up moving around the classroom actively engaged with the students, and not sitting behind their desks.  This is an absolute must for middle school and high school teachers. At these levels, it is extremely rare to find a teacher who can effectively manage the classroom as well as teach from behind the teacher’s desk.  For elementary school teachers, there are times when the teacher must work with students one-on-one at the teacher’s desk. For this reason as well as many others, teacher assistants are crucial in elementary classrooms. Unfortunately, teacher assistants are luxuries that many schools can no longer afford due to budget cuts from lack of state education funding. [NOTE: In states that are serious about education, all elementary classes should have assistant teachers. Although I am a supporter of pre-k education, I believe it would actually be wiser and more beneficial to spend funds needed for pre-k education on assistant teachers in grades K-4 if having both is not feasible].
  • DON’T be a weenie; establish clear classroom rules and consequences and enforce them consistently! WARNING!  Do not hand out warnings freely!  Multiple warnings only serve to dilute the teacher’s authority in the classroom. If the teacher is more likely to give a warning than enforce rules and consequences for unacceptable behavior, the teacher should get rid of the rules and consequences and turn the class and their paycheck over to the students!
  • DON’T give homework unless it is necessary and even then make sure it is not just busy work!   If the homework assignment is not worth the teacher’s time to check or grade it the next day, throw the assignment out; it is not necessary! For homework assignments to be effective, feedback must be provided by the teacher.  Simple homework rule: NO FEEDBACK equals NO HOMEWORK!

Teacher to Teacher relationships – don’t alienate your biggest fans!

  • DON’T sabotage your relationships with other TEACHERS! The surest way to destroy relationships as well as destroy credibility is to engage in gossip about colleagues;
  • DON’T make remarks about other teachers and their teaching! Such remarks will come back and bite you when you least expect it. Do not ever make comments about another teacher in front of students that will make students think less of that teacher;

Teacher/Parent relationships – communication and excuses do not mix!

  • DON’T fail to communicate with parents regularly. A personal call to parents with positive news about their child’s progress will go a long way in making the parents believe you are the best teacher ever! Failure to communicate with parents by phone periodically sends a message to some parents that you don’t care. If you truly do not have time to call, then email parents, and make sure they have your email address as well;
  • DON’T make excuses in a parent/teacher conference about why you have not communicated a child’s lack of progress or failing grades. NEVER tell parents how busy you are or that you teach too many kids to communicate with all parents regularly! First, parents resent such excuses as being unprofessional and disingenuous.  Second, they could care less about the teacher communicating with other parents; the only child of any importance to them is their child. Third, parents are busy too, and in their eyes if the teacher would do his/her job and communicate with them regularly, their child would not be failing, which would mean the parent/teacher conference that has taken them away from their job and cost them money would not be necessary. Although parents should be expected to stay on top of their child’s grades that does not always happen. Teachers on the other hand are professionals and staying on top of grades and communicating with parents is their professional responsibility. It is one of the things teachers get paid to do. Face it, if parents hear their child is failing for the first time in a parent/teacher conference, or they find out the last week or two of the grade term, the teacher screwed up! In such a situation, about the only thing the teacher and principal can do is acknowledge the mess up, apologize, and give assurances it will not happen again; and
  • DON’T go into a parent/teacher conference expecting the worse; you are liable to get it!       Most teachers do not enjoy parent/teacher conferences, but by approaching the meeting positively, keeping the focus of the meeting on the student and off the adults and having documentation to support the student’s progress or lack of progress, these conferences can be productive for students, parents, and teachers. If the teacher suspects the conference may get heated, the teacher should request the meeting be held in the presence of a school administrator. Teachers should never go into a conference expecting to have their say and then leave without giving the parent a chance to speak. Conferences should not be allowed to become a debate, but two-way communication is a must. In fact, if the parents requested the meeting, it is always best to let them open the conference with their concerns. By letting the parents vent (without interruption), the parents are able to blow off a lot of pent up frustration, which helps to defuse the situation. When the parents have had their say, the teacher should acknowledge their frustration, but refrain from arguing or becoming defensive. Being defensive and arguing with upset or angry parents will not resolve anything! The teacher should use the documentation brought to the meeting to make points while being careful not to give their opinion or make judgements – the teacher should stick to the facts. At all times, the teacher should remain calm, and if the meeting becomes heated, the meeting should be turned over to the school administrator to bring it to a close.

Using these suggestions or strategies should increase any teacher’s chances for a successful school year, but unfortunately, there are no guarantees. However, over the years, this advice has proven time and time again to be effective in laying a strong foundation for a successful school year. I sincerely hope this advice proves useful to teachers once again this school year.

Have a great school year!

JL

©Jack Linton, July 27, 2015

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Back to School Advice for Parents

With school starting in less than three weeks, what can parents do to ensure their children have a great school experience? It doesn’t take magic tricks or mind blowing advice from a flat headed monk on a mountain in Tibet to point parents in the right direction. All a parent needs to help their child have a great school year is a little common sense and a commitment to staying focused on important issues such as communication and school as a priority. Of course, a few of the other pieces of advice listed below won’t hurt either.

Back to School Advice for Parents

  1. DON’T get caught in the trap of believing the teacher is OUT TO GET your child. Teachers have enough drama in their lives without creating more by having a vendetta against your child, so take a pill and chill;
  2. DON’T speak negatively about your child’s teacher in front of your child. If you truly want your child to have a good school year, guard against speaking negatively about the school or your child’s teacher. If your attitude toward the teacher is negative at home, there is a very good chance your child’s attitude toward the teacher will be negative at school;
  3. DON’T wait until the end of the nine weeks to get concerned about your child’s grades! Stay on top of what is happening with your child in school from day one. Kids will keep parents in the dark about school as much as possible. If you do not believe that, your child has already pulled the wool over your eyes;
  4. DON’T leave communication entirely up to the teacher! It is just as much the parent’s responsibility to communicate with the teacher as it is for the teacher to communicate with the parent. Do not assume that no news is good news! Pick up the phone and call the teacher or email the teacher and ask how your child is progressing in class. Most teachers will do everything within their power to return your call or email in a timely manner. If not go through the principal, and request a face to face meeting. If a parent is in the dark about their child’s grades and progress, it is as much the parent’s fault as it is the teacher’s fault;
  5. DON’T act like a foaming at the mouth raving lunatic if you are upset with the teacher. When you approach a teacher in attack mode, the teacher goes on the defensive, the school office calls for security, you lose credibility, nothing is resolved, and your child ends up the loser. Educators often tell children they do not have to like their classmates, but they do have to learn to work with them. This lesson also applies to adults – both parents and teachers;
  6. DON’T be blind to RED FLAGS! If your child comes home day after day with no homework or saying they completed all their homework in class, that is a RED FLAG that should be verified with the teacher. If you rarely see your child studying or reading anything school related, that is a RED FLAG and should be addressed with the teacher. If you rarely see graded tests or assignments come home from school, that is a RED FLAG that needs to be followed up with the teacher. If you ignore RED FLAGS, don’t be surprised to see less than satisfactory grades at the end of the grading period;
  7. DON’T allow activities such as ball practices, ball games, music lessons, dance or any other activities to become priorities over academics. The odds are your child will never be a college athlete or a professional athlete, but the odds are extremely high he/she will spend their lives as an entrepreneur, salaried professional or hourly wage earner all of which require an academic diploma of some type;
  8. DON’T be afraid to stand up for your child, but when doing so, be willing to listen to both sides of the story before you make up your mind. You may have one of those rare special children who would never lie to you, but . . . . well . . . . well, here is the truth. ALL children will lie and fall short of the glory of their parents! Therefore, before you take sides, listen to both sides;
  9. DON’T do your child’s homework, report, or project for them! School assignments are about the child not the parent. You will not be branded a bad parent or disqualified for parent of the year if your child makes a bad grade! It is okay to be a resource for your child and point them in the right direction, but the actual work should be left up to the student. There is nothing sadder than a school project that has obviously been planned, written and built by an adult. It is sad when parents do not let children take responsibility for their own work. As humans, we learn as much from our mistakes, maybe more, as we do from our successes. For an adult, even one who means well, to deny a child the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them is a terrible waste of a learning opportunity; and
  10. DON’T allow your child to go to school without a good night’s rest! Sunday through Thursday have a lights out bed time for school age children including high school students who believe they are adults and such rules should not apply to them. Enforce your lights out rule! As the parent, you are the adult in the house, so act your part! If a television, computer, game console, tablet, smart phone, stereo or any other electronic device is a barrier to your child getting enough sleep to function properly the next day in school, remove the devices from your child’s room. This may sound a bit old fashioned; it is, but so is love, which is what parents are demonstrating when they have curfews, rules, and guidelines for their children to follow. Homes were never intended to be democracies! The home is where the child lives by the parents rules until such time they are educated, get a job, and build their own homes where they can do things their way. In an old fashioned loving home, getting enough sleep to stay awake in class, going to school, graduating high school and going to college or getting a job are non-negotiables.

As a parent what are your non-negotiables? Do you have any, or is everything open to negotiation? Just as there are non-negotiables in the home, there are also non-negotiables for school. Communicating with teachers, being positive, staying on top of your child’s progress, having academics as the priority, and making your child responsible for his/her work are all expectations that every parent should consider to be non-negotiable. If that is not the case in your house and these things are open to negotiation, who is the adult in your house?

JL

©Jack Linton, July 20, 2015

A Shovel and My Wife: Sometimes it Pays to be Lucky

It is hard to believe it has been two years since I retired after 37 years as an educator. After the initial withdrawal questions that I am sure most retirees experience such as what was I thinking to quit a perfectly good job; what will they do without me; what will I do without the daily interactions with people on the job; how will we pay the bills; and what will I do with all this free time; I finally came to grips with being a “has been” and moved on to being a “whatever I what to be.” It took some time, but I came to realize there is more to life than a “perfectly good job” that requires 12 to 14 hour work days; I learned to accept they, the job, will get along just fine if not better without me; I still miss the job specific interactive discussions that led to disagreements as well as confirmations, and kept me on my toes as a professional educator, but I have not had a single parent or teacher complaint in two years and that makes retirement heaven in of itself; as for “paying the bills,” my wife’s and my careers have provided us with a comfortable retirement with enough to pay the bills, and to occasionally travel and spoil the grandkids, so what more could we ask for or need; and when it comes to “what to do with my time,” the answer is very simple – WHATEVER I WANT TO DO! I sleep late almost every day; I play my guitar and sing along with cats screeching and dogs howling in agony; I write songs so I don’t make a mess of other people’s work; and I write stories, poems, and articles that hopefully are readable attempts at making people smile and think. I have no delusions of literary greatness, so I write what I have always wanted to say with little regard for political correctness, who it offends, or what people might think of me. But, most of all, retirement has given me the freedom to simply lie in my hammock all day with a cold drink in my hand and a smile on my face and be absolutely “sorry” if I so choose.

It goes without saying, “I am lucky,” but I have worked hard my entire life to be “lucky.” However, hard work alone will not make a person happy (I am), wealthy (I am not), comfortable (I am) or even lucky (I most definitely am); the right people, the right situations, and the right opportunities are also factors that determine a person’s worth as well as a person’s success. I have been blessed to have had such people, situations, and opportunities in my life. Looking back over my career, the biggest reasons for any success I had were God, the people I worked with, my father, a shovel and my wife.

I strongly believe the reason I survived as an educator as long as I did was due in no small part to the patience and sense of humor of God and the people I worked with over the years. I am sure I gave both God and the people who supported me, as well as those rearguard mumbling geniuses who were never pleased with anything I did, a good chuckle on more than one occasion. Although I did not always make everyone happy, it was not for lack of trying. I have always prided myself on trying to do the right thing, but doing the right thing as you see it does not always make you the most popular or liked person around. Leadership does not come naturally for most people, and I was certainly no different; I made good decisions and I made some “bone head” decisions, but as a leader I made the final decisions. I always felt the buck stopped with me, so ultimately all decisions rested on my shoulders even when that sometimes meant standing alone. It was during those “stand alone” times that the humor and patience of God and the people who supported me meant the most. They stood by me while I learned – often the hard way – and they provided the wisdom to help me learn to laugh at myself and understand no matter what decision I made, in the end, it all turned out as God planned it.

However, when it came to my father’s contribution to my success, patience and humor were in short supply. He had a sense of humor and could be patient at times, but those were traits he rarely shared with me. Nevertheless, the straight forward work ethic he instilled in me was a major cornerstone of my career. Although I hold three college degrees, including a PhD, I came from a background where graduating high school and getting a job were the expectations. College was not financially a practical option. A man in my family was expected to graduate high school, get a job that paid a decent wage, and stay with that job until retirement or death to ensure a livelihood for his family. Missing work other than for severe personal illness or emergency family illness was not a consideration. Growing up, I was taught if you agreed to take a man’s money for a job, you were to give the man an honest day’s work for his money, and I was taught the time for quibbling over wages was before you agreed to take the job not once you were on the job. These were the expectations handed down by my grandfather who labored for Hercules, Inc. in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for 40 years and by my father who labored there for 38 years. Both men rarely missed a day of work, and because of their influence I am proud to say I missed less than 10 days of work in my 37 years as an educator. The work ethic I was taught growing up helped me as much as anything to have a successful career. I can still hear my father say, “Boy, you will sometimes meet a man who is smarter or more talented than you, but you should never meet a man who can outwork you.” He said the only man he feared was a smart man with a work ethic, and if such a man existed and had common sense to boot, you might as well say, “Yes sir, boss,” and move out of his way. According to my father, knowledge, hard work and common sense were all a man needed to climb a mountain. Looking back on my career, I would have to agree.

The fourth factor that influenced my career was a shovel. In fact, a shovel was the second biggest motivation I had for not following in my grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and going to work for Hercules after I finished high school. Actually, that is exactly what happened; I graduated high school in May 1971 and started to work at Hercules in June 1971. I couldn’t have been happier! I had worked a couple of part time jobs while in high school for about $1.35 per hour, so when Hercules offered me $2.50 per hour for a 40 hour week, I thought I had it made! Making a $100.00 weekly wage was more money than I had ever seen or dreamed of in my life. I would have probably retired from Hercules if not for a girlfriend who was a lot smarter and wiser than I was and a shovel stuck fast in Mississippi red clay.

My first week at Hercules, I spent unloading and stacking 55 gallon steel barrels (Thank God they were empty!). I am not sure how much each of those barrels weighed, but I can tell you rolling those barrels into place and stacking them in rolls a hundred feet or more long and five to six barrels high whipped a skinny 140 pound 17 year old’s butt! I have never been as tired in my life as I was at the end of a day stacking those 55 gallon steel drums. However, that $100 dollar paycheck dangling in front of my sweat blurred eyes kept me motivated. When at 7:00 a.m. Monday of the second week they handed me a shovel and told me and one other rookie to dig a ditch two feet wide by three feet deep around a group of storage tanks near the front of the plant, my motivation began to waver. It took us three days to dig that ditch, and then on the fourth day, the foreman told us to cover the ditch over; there had been a change of plans. Week three, the two of us were taken to the middle of the plant and assigned to dig a three foot wide by four foot deep ditch. We spent a week under the sweltering Mississippi sun with shovels and picks digging that ditch, or I should say, I spent a week digging that ditch since my partner spent the majority of his time leaning on his shovel, singing hymns and praying for deliverance from the trench he had appropriately named “Hell’s Door.” God must have heard his prayers because just before noon Friday of that week my shovel became wedged in a crack in the hardest, driest red clay I had ever seen in my life. I could not force the shovel deeper into the crack nor could I pull it out of the crack, so I grabbed the pick and commenced to hammer on the shovel head and claw at the dry clay to try to free it. About that time, the foreman over the job and an assistant stopped to check our progress. He said something about the heat and then he started choking, sputtering, and pointing to where my shovel was wedged in the clay. His assistant’s face went pale. He yelled something at me that I could not understand and jumped into the hole, grabbed me and literally lifted and threw me out of the ditch. After the two men caught their breath, they angrily scolded the two wide eyed, sweat drenched kids in front of them. It turned out the red clay my shovel was wedged in was not red clay at all. It was red concrete marking a high voltage electrical line just inches below the tip of my shovel. One more good whack with the pick against the shovel, and I most likely would not be here today. My partner quit that afternoon. I made it through the rest of the summer, but shortly after the red clay incident, I followed my girlfriend’s advice and enrolled in college for the fall. Although at the time I had no idea what it might be, I decided there were better ways to make a living. The Mississippi sun and that shovel wedged in red concrete were all the motivation I needed to look for something new.

Everything I have mentioned played a significant part in my career success. However, the biggest reason for any success I have had in my career or life came from the single most important person in my life – my high school sweetheart, my girlfriend, my wife. Without her, I would never have finished my undergraduate degree much less my doctoral degree. Without her belief in me, I would not have survived when so many others doubted me. She gave me the courage and motivation to keep moving forward when it would have been so easy for me to say, “To hell with the world; I quit!” She stood by me when I am sure it would have been easier for her to say, “To hell with you; I quit!” Without her, I would not have had a career, nor would I have had a life of any quality or worth. Without her, I wouldn’t have the three greatest kids a man could have. In fact, without her, I would probably be an old single guy frequenting church socials and local bars looking for love with blue haired ladies wearing pink skirts too short to hide cellulite and varicose veins. Thank the good Lord, my wife saved me from such a life. She helped me grow up, clean up, and rise up to meet life’s many challenges. Anyone who knows me and has also met her will attest to the fact that she is certainly more beautiful, intelligent, and unselfish than I deserve. A buddy once said after meeting her, “Wow! How did you manage that? You are so out of your league.” As I explained to him, it’s called luck, and sometimes it is better to be lucky than good looking, smart, wealthy, or charismatic. I may fall short in all those, but I am LUCKY, and luck has served me well.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 14, 2015

Is Same Sex Marriage as Big an Issue for God as It is for Christians?

Here we go again, up to our eyeballs in righteous outrage. You would think we would have learned from our past since the clamor over same sex marriage sounds strangely similar to the outcry exhibited in years past against divorce, interracial marriage, and Civil Rights. For each of those in its time, pulpits across the South and even nationally proclaimed the end of America as we knew it, and promised the wrath of God would be let loose on our country. Yet, by God’s grace and mercy, we survived to tell the tale of those dark days. It was not easy, but we eventually learned to replace intolerance with tolerance as the right thing to do – the Christian thing to do.

I do not condone same sex marriage, but neither do I see why it should overly concern me. I fail to see how it will bankrupt my soul, raise my taxes, raise the national debt or gas prices, entice me to divorce my wife and seek male companionship, bring about the extinction of mankind, threaten my masculinity, poison the air, cause Outback Steakhouse to change its menu to crepes and chicken salad only, cause breweries to brew only lite beer, or cause God to punish me for someone else’s sins when I have more than enough of my own for which he could punish me. None of those things are likely to happen, and certainly not because of a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same sex marriage! I also do not believe same sex marriage will lead to the ruin of the heterosexual family unit, the corruption of schools, or the decimation of our churches. If anything, same sex marriages will give us Christians more people to point at and whisper about behind their backs. It is highly unlikely same sex marriage will rip apart all that is near and dear to our hearts. So, why should I or anyone else fret over two ole boys or girls getting married? I know; I know! As a Christian, I should fear for their souls, and I have been told more than once that the Christian ranting, raving, condemnation and foaming at the mouth is not judging but the Christian community’s way of witnessing and showing their love and concern for their fellow man. I may be wrong, but maybe if we turned down the volume a bit and used a feather and a bucket of fried chicken, our witnessing would be a lot more productive and representative of who we profess to be.

By this time, some readers may have already unfriended me, trashed this blog, or written me off as a Godless heathen; however, for those still with me, I would like to share some additional reasons why I am not overly concerned about same sex marriage:

  1. I do not care if people think I am unchristian for not condemning a man or woman for a lifestyle I do not truly understand. I do not consider myself worthy of throwing stones at my fellow man;
  2. I do not have an issue with gay/lesbian marriages unless the law requires me to participate. It does not, so it does not concern me;
  3. I do not feel threatened by same sex marriages since I prefer women and happen to believe a woman is the most beautiful form created by God. In fact, I am so comfortable in my belief that I can’t help but wonder if homosexuality might be an eyesight issue;
  4. I do not believe the Supreme Court ruling puts me in danger of a homosexual proposal of marriage. If asked, I do not have a problem saying no, but if you are one of those people who has trouble saying no, I understand and feel your pain;
  5. I see same sex marriage as an answer to supply and demand. Same sex marriage increases the female selection pool for straight guys;
  6. I am not overly concerned that some people believe I will burn in hell for not taking homosexuals to task. Taking homosexuals to task is God’s task if he deems it necessary, and I am quite confident he doesn’t need any input or help from me;
  7. I do not believe legalizing same sex marriage will cause the world to go to hell in a hand-basket. That may very well happen, but it will happen because God deems it is time, and not as the result of Christians outraged over a controversial decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. Preachers in America have used the pulpit for end of time rants and to condemn people to hell since the days of Cotton Mather when women were regarded with the same intolerance and inhumanity as homosexuals are today. When the time comes for Christ to return, no one will know until it happens including the best of Christians and preachers; therefore, we need to relax and do what God put us here to do in the first place – to love one another; and
  8. I am not overly concerned with the legalization of same sex marriage since I believe it actually helps the Christian cause by pinpointing those in need of their prayers and witness. Once officially licensed as a homosexual couple, it’s hard to remain under the radar.

Finally, as a Christian, I do not have an issue with same sex marriage since I can’t find where homosexuality is mentioned at all in The Ten Commandments. If it is so horrid that it threatens the very foundation of human morality and everything we hold to be decent and good, why didn’t God include it along with murder, stealing, adultery and taking God’s name in vain when he passed the Commandments down to Moses? Based on my research, homosexuality is referenced in 6 verses in the Bible whereas “forgiving others” is referenced in 59 verses, “stealing” is referenced in 52 verses, “faith” in 51 verses, “judging others” in 27 verses, “bearing false witness” in 27 verses, “coveting” in 26 verses, “divorce” in 22 verses; “keeping the Sabbath” in 18 verses; “loving others” in 17 verses; “adultery” in 15 verses; and, “murder” in 13 verses. Looking at this list, I can’t help but wonder if there is a relationship between the number of scriptures assigned to a Biblical topic and its priority in the eyes of God. If so, I am not surprised that “forgiveness” stands at the top of his priority list.

If the number of Bible verses devoted to a topic indicates God’s priorities, then it is easy to see that when it comes to sin there are many sins as serious as or more serious than homosexuality. For example, based on the above list, “murder” is over 2 times more serious than homosexuality, “adultery” is 2 ½ times more serious than homosexuality, “divorce” is nearly 4 times more serious than homosexuality, and “stealing” is over 8 times more serious than homosexuality. This might be a bit too simplistic, but when placed in perspective with other Biblical content, I can’t help but wonder if God places as much importance on homosexuality as so many of today’s Christians do. I am not saying homosexuality is not a sin in God’s eyes, but we must remember he did not put us here to judge or ostracize our fellow man – we are here to learn to love one another. If we will do that, I promise you God with sort through all our sins and make any adjustments or judgements needed.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 6, 2015