How I Broke My Lesbian Friend’s Heart

I became a Christian very suddenly (and out of freakin’ nowhere) when I was 38 years old.

At that time, I was working in the “Office Services” department of a large law firm. My sole co-worker in that department was a lesbian named Joan Finch.

To a lot of Christians, of course — just as with a lot of people generally — someone’s being gay or lesbian can register as a Fairly Large Deal. But I had been around gays and lesbians all my life, and had no schema for understanding a person’s sexual orientation as having anything whatsoever to do with their moral character, or their status relative to God, or anything like that. Any such concept was foreign to me. All I knew was that some gays and lesbians were awful people, and some were noble, wise, kind people whom it was impossible not to love. Same as anyone else. People are people.

I’d had gay friends all of my life. Real friends. Best friends. As obnoxious as it is to stereotype, I think it’s safe to say that generally, gays and lesbians have suffered for being gay and lesbian: just about all my gay friends, for instance, have countless stories about getting regularly beaten-up as kids by … well, by just about everyone around them. Schoolmates. Siblings. Dads. Crosswalk guards. Dog-walkers. Whomever.

Growing up gay or lesbian in America is just a tough row to hoe, period. If you think it’s not, then … then you’re just not paying attention to life.

And that gays and lesbians have generally suffered in their lives means that they are generally sensitive to the suffering of others. And generally that makes them kind, compassionate, and emotionally insightful. It makes them empathic. Which is why I have generally found gays and lesbians rewarding to hang out with.

And I had most definitely found that to be true of Joan Finch.

Joan Finch rocks like Gibraltar. She is one of the two or three funniest people I’ve ever known. She’s deadly witty. And man, can she do voices. She’s an almost startlingly accurate mimic.

Working with Joan Finch was like working in the middle of the funniest TV show ever.

Plus, that girl works. And because she works as hard as she does, Joan inspired me to work harder than I was naturally inclined to (at that job, anyway). Her abiding sense of excellence and responsibility compelled me to step up my own game. Her example turned me into a better, more conscientious employee.

I had my Big Fat Christian Conversion Experience at (of all places!) work, on a Friday that Joan had taken off. When she returned to work the following Monday, I waited until our usual morning busyness ebbed, and then broke the news to her that since she had last seen me, I had become (of all things!) a Christian.

A look of genuine concern came across her face.

“Oh, no,” she said.

“What is it?” I said. “What’s wrong?”

“Now you’re going to hate me.”

“What? What are you — why in the world would I hate you?”

“Because Christians hate gays and lesbians,” said Joan. She looked heartbroken. “Don’t you know that?”

“They do? We do? Why?

“Because it’s in the Bible,” she said. “I grew up in the church. I know. Part of the whole Christian deal is to hate gays and lesbians.”

She turned away from me.

“You must be wrong about that,” I implored. I put my hand on her back. “You must be.”

“I’m not,” she said, stepping away from me. “You wait. You’ll see.”

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://shushnow.wordpress.com shush

    What a touching story! It saysa lot about the sad state of Christianity that fear and sorrow would be her first reaction. God's love shouldn't be feared.

  • http://www.1truebeliever.wordpress.com wickle

    You know, some great guy wrote an awesome book called "I'm OK — You're Not" about the bad messages that we send non-Christians. What is that guy's name? Hmmm …

    It's a shame, but it's also an opportunity for us as Christians to look at why these things happen. Obviously, we're letting a bad message get out there.

    Sigh … that's a heartbreaking story. It says that we have a long, long way to go before we as the Church are really reflecting Jesus' love the way we should.

  • http://www.todayscoolnews.com Brian Shields

    I'm sure someone on here will correct me if I'm mistaken with chapter and verse but I'm not aware of anything Jesus ever said that was specifically anti-GLBTWhatever. Most of the hateful stuff comes in Romans and Acts and the other works of that sexual sadist who had the bad peyote trip on the road to Damascus and ended up seriously deranged. You know that Paul guy.

    In my opinion Christianity would be a lot more palatable if it was just the Gospels.

    John, I think you and I have talked in the past about how great it would be (if seemingly unrealistic now) if the world's major religions could separate the personal transformative experience an individual may believe in from all of the gobbldy-gook cultural baggage that came with the people who first had the experiences.

    I'm not just talking about Christianity's anti-GLBTWhateverism and Antisemitism and Anti-Science but also Islam's persecution of women (and GLBTWhatevers) and Hindu's caste system etc and the examples are many of all other faiths (see God is not Great by Saint Christopher Hitchens) for details.

    In short, I can't and don't believe that you believe that there's a God who will condemn Joan to hell for her identity or her sexual behavior.

    If I'm right, that's all you need to tell her.

  • Richard Lubbers

    Wow! Kind of hits you in the place where you used to wish all the Lifesavers in the roll were cherry. What would we do without experiencing all those other flavors?!?

    To quote another wonderful writer, "Good story Torch Boy. Flame on!"

    Flame on! Write on!

    Love on!

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    Wow…that so totally sucks…I don’t hate anyone…

    I mean I can hate what they do…or say…but I can’t say I actually hate anyone.

    I can find people’s behavior difficult to be around and even avoid them to avoid the behavior but…hate…that’s awful.

    I don’t think I would have known what to say either.

  • http://www.sisterfriends-together.org anita

    Okay, that was a heartbreaker John and told very poignantly. It says a lot about your relationship with Joan that she was able to actually be that honest with you. And while it must have pained you to hear that, it can be an understandable thing for a GLBTQ person standing outside of Christianity to think. That very thing happened in my own life when my dearest ally became a Christian and within months abandoned me for that very reason.

    In the media and in our conversations we often refer to Christians and gays and lesbians as opposite ends of the spectrum when the reality is they don’t compare that way since one is about faith and the other is about human sexuality. Apples. Oranges.

    When we make statements about the conflict between these two groups it seems to suggest that no Christians fall under the category of gay and that no gay people fall under the category of Christian. As a lesbian who’s over the top in love with Christ and as been since the single digits of my childhood, I find myself with countless others in that middle space, committed to helping both groups I love and identify with to understand that the other isn’t their enemy, and I’m as passionate that both groups would come to that understanding so that folks like Joan wouldn’t fear a friend who becomes a Christian anymore than someone would fear a friend who comes out as gay.

    Good story Torch Boy. Flame on!

  • loveontheunderground

    I learned a lesson from watching Right to lifers on EWTN. In the 1980s and such, during the times of Operation Rescue and all, women were chastised for getting abortions-ie; called baby killers by the pro-lifers as much as were the actual abortionists themselves. Then, perhaps because of the RICO act or whatever (I'd like to think it was a miracle)- someone in the pro-life movement started showing compassion to the women as well as the unborn children. No longer were the women who had not aborted yet seen as fornicators, adulteresses etc; but instead, as people in need of compassion and understanding. My logic took it this way, fornication, adultery whatever was not as bad as driving someone to kill their unborn child.

    So I took that logic myself as part of the way to rid myself of homophobia. I decided that I did not want to face God and with someone else there too, pointing at me, saying I told them they were an abomination, that they were perverse, so they felt unfit to live and thus that's why they took their own life. No, I didn't want that on my head or my conscience-not here or in the afterlife. So I leave preference and that person to God to deal with. With such folk, I shall proceed in kindness, understanding if I can- live and let live a truce if I can't.

    Being Gay or Lesbian or Transgendered and alive is better than being suicided- I'm not contributing to that. Two stories I mentioned in my blog dealt with some of this too- should one say no to a friend who wants you to be their lover when the alternative is suicide? No, I may not understand it all and hope I'm not put in that position, but for both our souls I hope and know that life even sexual preferential life must trump death…Thanks for the Post.. Sincerely D.R. Millennium

  • http://www.miguellomelino.com Miguel

    I am Christian (LDS/Mormon) and I don't hate gays/lesbians. They are also Gods children.

  • http://republicanfail.wordpress.com/ R F

    Kudos to you on finding faith and even more to you on realizing that with salvation doesn't come ignorance, bigotry, and hatred. Hug your friend and make her understand that not all Christians are neo-facists – just the mean ones.

  • http://www.youtube.com/morsec0de Morse

    ‘Christian’ is probably just too broad a term. It goes from both extremes. From Fred Phelps to John Shore.

    Thank goodness a large portion of Christians aren’t Fred Phelps.

  • clay

    I hope I can help you in some way.

    Because you love Jesus means that you are meant to love others, as Christ loves you. Nowhere in the Bible does it say "hate the homo". Ever. Never. Not anywhere. But over and over it says "Love God. Love People".

    Is homosexuality part of God's plan? No. The Bible is pretty clear on that. However, you can still totally love a person, regardless of their sexual orientation!

    And when I speak of love, it's not the twisted love that the world hypocritically preaches. This love is divine love. Love that can only come from a love for and from our God.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.

    – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

    It only takes a few hypocrites to ruin the image of Christianity, and unfortunately we are all hypocritical. So let's start acting like the Jesus we claim to follow by loving like Jesus. =]

  • http://UponTruth.com Stephen M.

    To paraphrase a famous evangelist, "the Church isn't a country club for perfect people, it is a hospital for sinners". We all have our dark sides that war against what is the Lord's best for us. It is hard to do, but our job is to love people into a knowledge of the Truth, and to give them the keys to eternity.

  • Claire

    What happened next? Were you able to reassure her? I hope you stayed friends.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren Throckmorton

    John – As a fellow blogger, I often think, I should read my fellow Crosswalk bloggers more often. Now I know it to be true. The situation you describe occurs far too often and illustrates, in part, how the Evangelical church is getting it wrong on homosexuality. When a people group believes from the get go that you hate them, we are not communicating the love of God very well. Your innocent response is a wake up call to those of us who have been Christians a long time.

    Thanks for sharing this story. Actually, it really nags at my heart – which is a good thing. I am working on an initiative (www.wthrockmorton.com/goldenrule) which I hope will help us think about doing things a different way…

  • http://www.donnysramblings.com Donny Pauling

    A "home church" calling themselves the "Church of the Divide" in Sacramento decided to picket a megachurch called "Capital Christian Center" because Capital shows true Christian love by being just as kind to gays and lesbians as to anyone else.

    I attend a church 90 miles north, but am friends with Capital's Outreach Pastor. When he was attacked, the Sacramento media jumped all over the story. After an attack video was posted on youtube by the Church of the Divide I posted the following response, a clip from one of MY pastor's sermons:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDiOK8vdvOs

    He nails it, no?

  • http://livinginthelight.wordpress.com/ Crystal

    I can so relate to your story. I feel bad for all the Joans out there, I feel bad for all the loving Christians who get mistaken for the hateful people posing as Christians, I feel bad for all the hateful posers who missed Christ’s boat all-together, and I really feel bad that Christ’s name gets dragged through the mud over and over by his followers! I hope Joan gets to meet Christ through you and sees what a loving God he truely is!

  • http://lpkalal.wordpress.com Longing for Holiday

    A friend from high school and I took a long walk years ago. During the walk, she asked me what the Bible said about homosexual practice. In my innocence, I thought she was asking because she wanted to know, so that she could do what the Bible said. Afterwards, she told me she was exploring the gay lifestyle. Boy, did I feel dumb. Not long after, she told me something once about my being a Christian made her assume I would dislike her. She was also very lean on communcation to me for some time. I felt cut off. Fast forward many years, we joined a mini high school reunion and rekindled our friendship. Of the girls I there, she and I connected the most. I asked her to tell me the story or how she stopped dating men and started dating women. She did. Later that same weekend, I mentioned to her that I thought another friend in that group had changed significantly. She said, "No, you've changed the most." I said, "Really?" She said, "Yes. You've become so kind. You aren't the judgmental person you once were." I almost cried and responded, "It's because of Jesus." We are still friends. Note this: I still don't think homosexual practice is any more acceptable for a Christian than adultery or sex before marriage is. But that doesn't mean I can't love a homosexual or an adulterer or one who lives with a non-spouse. In the first place, you don't hold non-club members to a club's rules. They live by their own club's rules. Second, if they are a club member and break the rules, you don't encourage them to follow the rules using hatred. Jesus didn't. He says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He loves and forgives and then says, Go and sin no more.

  • http://sameritech.wordpress.com/ Bob Sacamano

    Religion is divisive. Your friend has understandable concern that you too will join the ranks of other theists who lash out at all those who find peace when they accept ALL people regardless of gender, race, social status, or sexual orientation. Give it time and you will be scorned by your fellow theists if you don't speak out against those who don't believe or follow every word (or any words) in the bible.

    I went in the opposite direction of you. I went from a believer of imaginary beings, superstition, and theology to a firm believer that there is more good in this world without religion. I've never been so happy and at peace since I rejected worship of a god and instead accepted responsibility for my own actions, what I do and what I become, and believing that my immortality is found in the examples I set than what an imaginary being has planned for me.

    I'm sorry you may be losing a friend all because of religion. Once again, religion is divisive.

    Independent Democracy:
    http://sameritech.wordpress.com/

  • arlywn

    * stands on a soap box* see? Thats a non christians point! you hate us because you cant accept our differences in anything! *gets down*

    sorry. had to point out the obvious. veery sad, heartbreaking, and did it work out? Cause, no one should have that conversation, ever. Especially in a fact of life kinda way.

  • http://www.thecontemplation.com ffffffrabbit

    wineymomma wrote: I mean I can hate what they do…or say…but I can’t say I actually hate anyone.

    "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is not biblical.In the Bible there is no separation ever between the sinner and the sin. You can’t separate them out.

    So, when I hear a Christian say, "Love the sinner, hate the sin", I actually have pity on them for their ignorance, lack of faith to read for themselves, and to assume that they are Christian. Isn't being a Christian to be Christ Like?

    "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is not anywhere in the bible.

  • yourockeepliving

    Tell her that you still like her! Just because the Bible says that, doesn't mean it has to be followed. In fact, most Christians don't follow it exclusively.

    There definitely is a negative attitude, generally, from Christians to the GLBT community, but not always. In fact, the last pope was the one who expressed tolerance and compassion for the GLBT community, which was never done before by a Pope. Just because you are Christian, does not mean you have to dislike gays and lesbians.

  • yourockeepliving

    PS: If you would like to discuss this more, I'd be happy too.

  • http://www.g-sanc.net/index.php secchan

    I'm a Christian (Roman Catholic even :O) and a lesbian. So of course, I don't have a problem with them, but I also know quite a few Christians who don't either.

    This was a really touching story, and made me want to cry. A little >>

    Are things alright between you and Joan now..?

  • http://samuelfebres.com/blog portorikan

    That sucks.

  • Megean

    To be honest, this story, that I saw on Christianity.com, probubly hit me harder then any other story ive read on that website.

    A few weeks ago, my brother admitted to me that he was bisexual. All his life he tried to hide it and finally he trusted me enough to share it. Not only was I shocked, but I didnt know what to say or how to react.

    I have had gay friends and it never bothered me but I just NEVER expected it from my own brother.

    If he told me about 2 years ago, before I was a Christian, it probubly wouldnt of been such a huge thing. Cause then, I didnt know about lesbians and gays being WRONG according to the bible.

    But since he told me AFTER I learned that it wasnt right to be a gay or lesbian, I was completely speechless. I didnt know what to say.

    Weeks after, Ive accepted it and realized that I cant spend time holding things against my brother, when I do believe that being gay or bisexual IS NOT a choice. I just have to put my trust in God, and regardless of the bible being against gays, I truly CANT be against them.

    To all those who are against Gay people, arnt we called to LOVE?

  • http://khapkkha.spaces.live.com/ midori01

    I am from a minority origin, with Catholic upbringing, then to liberal Christian and then stay that way even though I am openly gay. I am not very good at the church going stuff, but follow a lot of the things like observing the holidays. As I get older now, I like the ritual end of church going when I do go to the church like hymns and the puplt preaching. Anyway, the belief in God is within oneself and I do not think not all LGBT dislike religion or spiritual ways of life in general.

  • http://www.myspace.com/ilvmh Mmizz Llizz

    I grew up in a Pentecostal church all of my life…every principle completely based on the King James’ Version of The Bible! That said, I can’t help who I am any better than the next person…most of all, IMPOSSIBLE to “help” the fact that I’m bisexual!!! Does it make me love GOD any less?!?!? NOPE!!! Does it make me a bad person?!?!? Some might “think” so! However, had I been you and faced with that same scenario, I do believe I would have told her this, “Judgment is left to God alone and I enjoy who you are NO MATTER WHO THAT IS!!!” A lot of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals most likely feel that their sexuality defines who they are becoz they are made to believe that through the actions and inactions of others. YOU NEED TO HELP HER REMEMBER THAT NO ONE ASPECT DEFINES HER CHARACTER…i. e. you find her hard working nature and witty repertoire to play 2 of the major defining roles of what attracted you to her personality in the first place! I’ll just leave you with 2 scriptures that came to me as I was writing this comment…ROMANS 3:23 quoted says, “For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”…no where in there does it state homosexuals/bisexuals or any other specific sin/sinner…IT GOES FOR EVERY LAST ONE OF US! And ST. JOHN 8:7 with Jesus’ quoted saying, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

    ‘NUFF SAID!!!

    Good luck and GOD BLESS!!!

  • tom

    Instead of focusing on man's view of man, why don't we focus on God's view of man? I believe that the real issue is God's view of man. We are His. He loves us. He reacts quite vigorously when someone or something attempts to pervert His will and/or alter man's role.

    After careful study, I have found that the Bible is the only logical source of absolute truth from an Absolute Truthgiver (God). Therefore instead of trying to figure this out on your own or listen to other people or groups of people with just as much of a sin nature as you and I, let's go to the source of TRUTH on a very important topic. I referred to groups of people of above. I would include the church as one of those groups. You see, the church consist of a group of imperfect people following a perfect God.

    I would like to challenge any thinking person to read the following scriptures from the Bible. I think there is only one way to interrupt the Bible and that is the way it was orginally intended. Probably the most pervasive and far-reaching feature of the world today is the denial of absolute truth. This is a characteristic of our culture in general and is called by many names, e.g., situationalism, multiculturalism, pluralism, diversity, inclusivism, and postmodernism. The generic name for such a denial is relativism, which simply means that the so-called "truth" of any given statement is relative to the circumstances in which it is made. Postmoderism says that any and every viewpoint on any subject is allowable and must be tolerated (i.e., allowed to be valid) except one: the view that there is such a thing as absolute, objective truth. That is a paradox in itself.

    I hope all who want to know the truth on this topic will accept my challenge. My challenge is–for the truth go to the source of absolute truth.

    Read:

    Genesis 19 and Jude 1:7.

    Leviticus 18:22-24; 24-30; 20:13

    Romans 1:18-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

    1Timothy 1:10

    Matthew 5:28

    Matthew 10:14-15 and Luke 10:10-12

  • arlywn

    um… probably already pointed out some where, but isnt incest a major part of the bible/ and or okay in the bible? And thats frowned on now a days.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    You going to follow up this post, John? Because I'm really curious how your personal and professional relationship with Joan went from there. I also wish I knew a little more about Joan — for instance, whether any of her GAY friends were people of faith. As for myself, most of my Gay friends identify themselves as Christian (even attending services every Sunday at Gay-friendly churches), some are Jewish, and a few are "other." The thing is, NONE of them have ever said to me, "Your spiritual redemption hinges on your believing as I believe." How they have reconciled their respective faiths with their sexuality seems to be an intensely personal matter for them, and they don't seem to have the need to wear their spirituality on their sleeves.

    What I SUSPECT (and this is why I'm hoping for an update) is that when you made a point of letting Joan know you had become a Christian, she reacted with genuine suspicion — because for her, you were know wearing your faith on your sleeve, and no doubt you would soon be pulling the ol' "Great Commission" thing on her.

    Some years ago I touched base with an old friend of mine over the phone, someone I had really liked a lot as a friend but had not spoken with in many years.

    In the course of the conversation he said, "I recently became a Christian."

    "That's nice," I responded.

    "Yeah, it is," he said. "Sometime I'd like to tell you all about it."

    And I immediately thought to myself, "Yes, I'm sure he WOULD!"

    So you see, John, when you write, "Some gays and lesbians were awful people, and some were noble, wise, kind people it was impossible not to love. Same as anyone else," I would say the same thing goes for people of faith. Similarly, how Christians conduct themselves in the context of their faith varies a lot from person to person. For some, their faith is something that is an intensely personal matter, and they may even feel that the path they have chosen toward spiritual redemption is one of many such paths, just the one that feels best suited to them. Others might feel more, shall we say, "confrontational" about their faith, and perhaps this is what Joan was suspicious of. She might have felt that you had become what Eric Hoffer called "The True Believer."

    I'll stay tuned for Part Two.

  • http://nope Zach

    Leviticus 20:13

    If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

    Well there it is, plain and simple. There is no way around it. This is why a lot of people believe that being Christian is synonymous with hating homosexuality. I think Joan’s response in this situation was perfectly understandable. As a person who was raised in the church she would have been fully aware of the Bible’s views towards homosexuality. You don’t throw around the word “detestable” (or “abomination” KJV) without expecting the word “hatred” soon to follow.

    Now I know a lot of Christians would say, “Well I do not hate Joan, But I indeed do hate what she does”. Hate the sin but not the sinner. But this is a bit of an impossible statement. Can you honestly say that you can love someone who does something you hate? Can you love Charlie Manson while he has killed so many people? Or for an example that is in a more biblical context. Could you love Satan even though he has committed so many sins? Even God got pissed at him and cast him into hell.

    On the other hand we have the classic tragic hero. Someone who does commits a sin out of necessity. Sort of like Jean Valjean out of Les Miserables who steals a loaf of bread to survive. We can love this sinner and hate their sin because the sinner also hates their sin.

    But what if we have someone who does something that you consider a sin. Such as being a homosexual, getting a divorce, worshipping the wrong god, or just plowing with an ox and a donkey yoked together Deuteronomy 22:10. But they do not see what they are doing to be a sin as you do? And in addition to that they say that they could not stop being who they are? In this case the sinner and the sin have become so connected that it would be impossible to separate the two. This would make it exceedingly difficult to hate the sin and not the sinner.

    What if the Bible had a verse saying that it was bad to be too short or too tall? Or that you wouldn’t be welcome at church if you had suffered some sort of genital injury Deuteronomy 23:1. Or what if the Bible said it was bad to have the wrong color of skin? I am not saying that it does (we don’t have to go into the Curse of Ham here) but if it did, could we separate the sin from the sinner? From the moment they are born they would be damned to hell. On top of that their very existing would be a manifestation of that sin in and of itself. They would truly be an abomination unto the Lord.

    I got the same look of detestability from a pair of missionaries I met a while ago in college. They were going round the dorms trying to bag as many heathens as they could in one day as their youth group was leaving the next day. They had 6 hours between the morning and afternoon to go around 240+ dorm rooms. This meant that they had a minute and a half per person to try to change someone’s religion. Actually it comes out to 45 seconds a person if you want to count roommates, but on with the story. I told them that my beliefs were the result of years of decision making, logic, and observations of the world as a whole. I had read more of their Bible than they had, and that a minute and a half long speech about whatever happened to be in their little pamphlets was not going to change my mind. And that’s when I could see it in their eyes. The two missionaries had realized that no matter what they said to me, I was not going to convert to their religion. They could no longer hate the sin and not the sinner as the sinner and the sin were irrevocably intertwined.

    “Well I guess it’s your choice if you want to go to hell or not.” No matter how hard I looked I could not feel the presence of this god they talked about, I didn’t think it was a matter that I had a choice on.

    I had never really realized this until now but this is why it is vitally important to Christians that homosexuality is a choice rather than something you are stuck with. If people are born gay then they cannot change their ways. And as such they could never enter the Christian heaven. You can see this in comment 18 “You don’t hold non-club members to a club’s rules. They live by their own club’s rules.” It’s OK to be gay because you are not a member of the club. You cannot be gay and a club member at the same time. And only members of the club are saved.

    There seems to be a reoccurring theme among the Christian comments I have been reading. They start by saying how tolerant of gay people they are and then follow up by stating an intent to convert the gay person, or at the very least, a distaste for the way they are now. Comment 11 “I hope Joan gets to meet Christ” as if she hadn’t already, after having grown up in the church. Comment 14, “Our job is to love people into a knowledge of the Truth”. Comment 25 “But since he told me AFTER I learned that it wasn’t right to be a gay or lesbian, I was completely speechless. I didn’t know what to say.”. I especially liked comment 13 “Is homosexuality part of God’s plan? No. The Bible is pretty clear on that. However, you can still totally love a person, regardless of their sexual orientation!” … “And when I speak of love, it’s not the twisted love that the world hypocritically preaches. This love is divine love. Love that can only come from a love for and from our God.” You will never know love until you become a Christian.

    I’d hate to say it but it seems that this love and tolerance for others seems to be conditional on some future promise of conformity. As if you will only love a gay person on the condition that they will stop being gay one day. Now John, I would like to say that after reading your articles I have a fairly clear sense of your personality, and I would hope that I already know the answer to this. But I hope that after converting to Christianity you haven’t embarked on some sort of holy mission to straighten out Joan?

    Being neither a homosexual or a Christian, I don’t really have a stake in whether or not being gay is a choice. But I do have an amusing low cost way to find out. If being gay is a choice, then logically being straight is also a choice. First of all you will need to find someone who is a heterosexual. Not just medium straight, but really really straight. Now go on the internet and find some nudie pictures of people of the same gender. Have this person look at these pictures for a while until they decide that they could go for some of that right about now.

    If this happens then you just proved that it is possible to choose to be gay. Don’t worry about the person that you just turned into a homosexual. You can just find some nudie pictures of people of the opposite gender, to turn them back again.

    • Linda

      This is one of the best comments I have ever read! I know that it was written in 2008, but I would like your permission to share the comment in my local freethinkers group. We have a few liberal Christians in the group, and I would like to hear their responses to what you have written. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said!!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    No, Joan had no fear I’d try to convert her. She knew me better than that. She was upset because she believed it inevitable that as I grew into the Christian way of thinking and being, I’d come to consider her as someone who was less than she should or could be.

    For those new or newish to my blog, I should have said I’m now 50 years old; but this incident happened 13 years ago. Joan and I remained close while we worked together, and then drifted apart after I left that job to persue life as a writer. That’s … about it.

    I was at a wedding all day yesterday, and so am just now seeing these comments. Thanks for all of them; they’re extremely thoughtful and insightful. They make for some splendid, and in some cases very touching, reading.

  • Sheryl

    I have been a Christian for 16 years and have had and do have many friends who are gay. A few years ago, I took an opportunity to begin to pray for one dear friend whose name was Jim.

    As I fervently prayed for Jim to be delivered from his lifestyle of homosexuality, I felt the Lord stop me. So I stopped and waiting. Ever so softly I sensed the Lord whisper to my spirit……"Is that his deepest need?"

    "No, Lord", I humbly whispered back, "his deepest need is more of You".

    I was humbled that day and reminded that our duty as Christians is to bring people to Jesus. He is the savior and lover of their souls. Jesus can deal with each person as He so chooses and in His timing. He is the Lord, after all.

  • FreetoBe

    Sheryl: Thank you, I think I needed to be reminded of that–to pray that people are drawn closer to God, not that God change people the way 'I' think they should be. 'Walk by faith, not by sight.'

  • sheila

    To People like Zach….For By GRACE are we saved…. All your preaching of the old testament and the law is foolish…Christ became the law when he gave his life for us…to save us.. he will make of us what he wants us to be…he will help us when we fall…and you will sin you are sining when you judge and do not love God's children as he does…God the Father is the only judge..Christ will defend us…that is why he died for us…the greatest commandment is to LOVE as Jesus loves us.

    Do not get so tied up in legalism that you forget the only important thing to Love Jesus with all you heart…to love all men/women..he will take care of everything else.

  • Violet Bayless

    My brother died of aids in 2002 and he was gay. I loved him growing up and was there when he took his last breath. This is not to say that I agreed with his lifestyle just as I would disaggree with the lifestyle of anyone who was a gossiper or any number of sinful behaviors we could name. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I cringe when I see churches in the media with signs stating God Hates fags.

    God hates no one what he hates is sin,and we all have it. I always reming myself of the old saying, But by the Grace of God there go I. As christians we must always rely on Love to guide us which means because of what Christ's death on Calvary has done for us all we have no room to judge, no stone to throw and we can and must give the same love Christ gave to us when dying on the cross.

  • Ingrid

    John, I didn't read any of the other comments for fear that something said would make me angry. I was heartbroken by this post. I read it on Sunday and spent the rest of the day in reflection about how I would feel if I found out a friend of mine was gay. I wouldn't want to lose them. I hope you were able to mend the fence and in case Joan reads your blog …

    We don't all hate gay people. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of God's infinite love in spite of differences.

    Hope you don't mind I borrowed an excerpt of this post for a post of my own. Thank you for showing us your life so we can stop and examine our own.

    Much Love!

  • Jimmy

    What about all the Christians who have put to death what the Bible deems sinful? Are they foolish? They do it because they know Christ said to pick up your cross and deny yourself.

    One of the posters above disparaged Paul and thought the Bible would be much better without his letters and the New Testament should only have the Gospels included. He must not have read much of them, because some of the things Jesus says are sobering to say the least. "Better to pluck out your eye then to enter into Hell with both eyes intact…" Same goes for the hands.

    I myself have struggled my whole life with a particular sexual "kink". It's not important what it is, but it is something that is been with me since I can remember. Since I've been born again, the Holy Spirit has convicted me of this sin and through Gods grace have stopped practicing this sin, but it's still in my makeup and will always be there trying to manifest.

    I've failed a 1000 times at least and God always has forgiven me, but He has never said "that's ok you were born with this…don't worry about it, just be a good person." If you are practicing anything that is clearly a sin, with no plan on repenting of it then you are in a grave place spiritually. Just because the world and people who say they are Christians will tell you there's no need to repent doesn't make it so. I pray somebody who reads this will be prompted to consider turning to Jesus and asking Him to help you overcome the bondage you are in.

    God Bless

  • http://stefscrazylife.wordpress.com/ Stef

    You know, John, I didn't know I was supposed to hate gays and lesbians either as a Christian. And, you know, I don't. I don't hate anyone for whatever lifestyle they live, because I know they didn't choose it. I have several gay and lesbian friends. So what, right? Just as I am colorblind when it comes to race (we aren't black or white or brown or red… we're the HUMAN race!), a person's sexual orientation, identity or whatever the heck it's called doesn't matter to me. What DOES matter to me is their worth as a person. Who am I to judge anyone? Of course, I'm not perfect and when I find myself judging someone, I feel terrible about it, because that's not who I am.

    I'd like to think that God gave me a brain and free will to make my own decisions. "Hate" is such a strong word.

    It hurts me that your friend thought that you would automatically hate her because now you were part of something that she recognized as being hateful against people like her. It's a stereotype like all Italians belong to the mob (we don't).

    So what happened after that? After the end of your story? Did you get things straightened out, or did she leave the company? or what?

  • http://www.wonderfulordinarylife.wordpress.com anita

    I know. I know. There's little point in saying this again having already said it way up at comment 2 but I'm just going to throw it out into the universe anyway, and since I type around 100 words a minute it's no big time investment on my part. Through all the comments, of which I've read all and appreciated most, we continue to refer to two categories of people; Christians and gays and lesbians and while I appreciate the following comment won't be acceptable for some, I say it anyway because it's a reality. There are a vast number of people who've chosen the Christian faith and happen to be gay and when we speak of Christians and gays and lesbians as two separate groups we not only ignore those who stand in both locations but it implies that gays and lesbians as an entire group are all people without faith. Again I realize this will be argued by a few that these are mutually exclusive terms and a few others will argue that it's a nitpicky point but when you happen to believe in Jesus as your Savior and you're gay, it's no small point and neither is it mutually exclusive.

  • http://www.g-sanc.net/index.php secchan

    After reading these posts, I think I’ve come to hate ‘Christians’. I’m Christian, and I’m gay, and reading what other Christians say about gays being ‘detestable’…it makes me sick and angry.

    Christians these days aren’t ‘Christ-like’ at all.

  • arlywn

    Oh, dont hate all christians- John's pretty nice. A little out there, but good intentions. And… Anita is okay. (She's a little out there too, but dont tell her) lol And there's some more, but I cant remember them.

  • Billy

    I'm posting this after the stunning passing of Proposition 8 in California, which as far as I'm concerned proves what Joan was saying. That enough Christians have enough intolerance of gays to be able to deny us our constitutional rights. Rights that should be guaranteed, and not able to be taken way by the 'will of the people'. So good luck with all your righteousness and prayer, I'll stick with the reality of being gay and imperfect. I don't hate all christians but I sure am angry with a whole bunch of them. In fact I'm angry with any of them that voted Yes on Prop 8 to deny me the same rights they enjoy. And imagine how it must feel to be gay in Arkansas right now, hoping to adopt a child. Have a nice freakin' day.

  • Latoya

    Hey John,

    Thought i should have made a comment on this blog.

    This 'hate' of lesbians and gays is by far worse in Jamaica than it is in the USA. We have an extremely homophobic culture. They even beat gays here (certainly its against the law to beat them but ppl still do it and they are not punished for it). It is so entrenched in our culture that it seems the christians are also blinded by the general reaction to a gay person. I beleive that having intercourse with someone of the same sex is a sin, but we dont beat and kill people for fornication and adultery. and in any case two wrongs dont make a right, and murder is definitley a wrong.

    I pray that persons who are gay will be seek and receive deliverance, but christians should be a source of help, not a threat.

  • Livinginturmoil

    hi. i just wanna say that you’ve been helping my dad sort through a lot since i came out to him, and me as well. it’s hard to hold on to my faith in today’s church, and in the whole “gay culture” just like it must be hard trying to come to terms with having a lesbian daughter (even if you are accepting and supportive.)
    so! all that to say thank you, keep it up and rock on.

  • Livinginturmoil

    hi. i just wanna say that you’ve been helping my dad sort through a lot since i came out to him, and me as well. it’s hard to hold on to my faith in today’s church, and in the whole “gay culture” just like it must be hard trying to come to terms with having a lesbian daughter (even if you are accepting and supportive.)
    so! all that to say thank you, keep it up and rock on.

    • Anonymous

      Well, what a sweet note to send me. Thank you very much for this. I’m sure you and your dad will make it through this bit of adjustment just fine. Of course he’s welcomed to write me directly if he’d like. Thanks again for this love.


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