Our Church: “Sign This Anti-Gay Statement, or Leave”

This essay is included in my book UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question.

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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.

  • Candace

    Geeez, John. This hurts ME; I can't even comprehend how it must have hurt you guys. I'm speechless. I don't even know a single other thing to say. 'Cept I have had to leave too, after that. I don't know how a person could get past it.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    "…we said to the (earthly) powers-that-be at our church."

    It seems all churches (which are gatherings or groupings of two or more Christians) become an earthly organization fairly quickly after institutionalizing/incorporating/the-building-project-is-completed. Its our human tendency to create a club with rules to which all conform. With this conformity comes affirmation among the members. Christians are not immune to this phenomenon.

    I faced a similar dilemma at a previous church. Different set of rules but house rules none the less. Some church organizations are anti-alcohol, anti-secular-music, and/or anti-R-rated-movies. Our groups attempt to define the characteristics that would comprise a good Christian, which in and of itself is not a bad activity. The rub comes in when we attempt imposed the definition on everyone. This is related to your post a couple of days ago titled "No Offense, But I Can’t Care What You Think About My Christianity."

    Its like we want to update the apostle's creed: I believe in God the Father almighty, who was and is and always will be heterosexual, and in Jesus Christ, who never smoked or watched R-rated movies, …

    Kudos to you and Cat for refusing to take part in this editing process.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Incredible. Double Kudos to you and Cat.

    I wonder if there were any homosexual members of that church? You said they never preached it, so unless they were asked to be deacons they would never know the church's position.

    That just strikes me as cold. If you're going to hold a position, at least be morally upright enough not to hide it like that.

    You did the right thing. Cheers.

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    wow…why does doing the right thing always seem so painful?

    They never mentioned the subject, ever?

    wow…

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Don't you think part of the problem might just be in the whole 'nominated to be a church leader and awaiting for the approval of the authorities' process?

    I remember in my old conservative church that there was always a crisis over getting people to teach Sunday school. Finally a nice lady who had been attending for some time volunteered. What a surprise that this presented another crisis; who was this woman? She wasn't even a member – what did she believe? Perhaps she held to some unorthodox ideas – we can't have someone with unorthodox ideas sticking flannel Noah and his flannel animals on his flannel ark, now can we? God forbid if she was G.A.Y.

    So she was politely told that she would have to be interviewed for the position and also apply for church membership as well. Not only did she refuse, she left the congregation. I wasn't too upset for her since by that time I realized that we all could be better off in another community.

    Aside from the silliness of the whole thing I thought it was telling that no one really 'knew' this woman, even though she was no stranger to the community, and was willing to answer the call for help when the 'regular members' wouldn't. (But then, after having taught Sunday School I think it is really a euphemism for 'a place to put the kids during worship service')

    I don't recollect Jesus spending a lot of time vetting those he chose as disciples. Seems like his standards were lower than ours. Or maybe he used his X-Ray vision or the Mind Meld to determine if they were 'good' enough.

  • ms.k

    I hope that what you did was waited to see what the Lord had to say. Sometimes when God calls us to do a thing, it may often involve some type of sacrifice. This one being, signing your name to a document. But how do you know that God may have wanted you both to be in that position to make a difference in that church? You may have been the voice to speak on homosexuality. You could have been the catalyst to opening a door to a very closed topic. Would you have been shut down? Possibly. But at least you would have given it a try. So many times we turn down opportunities based on how we feel about a thing rather than jumping in and allowing the Lord to move and shake things up. My humble opinion.

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

    Good morning, all!

    Killer comments, each. Fantastic. Really touching stuff.

    Candace: It did hurt, thank you. As I said, we'd been there six years, and this was our first church home after I converted.

    Ric: Wonderful little piece here. Fantastic. Thank you.

    Chris: Your point was one of my MAIN points to anyone who would listen at that church: If that's how we feel, SAY it. I just couldn't believe that I'd never heard a word about the church's stance in all the time I'd been going there. Not a single peep. And I was friends with the pastor.

    Winey: Never. Not once. Ever. And I don't think that's weird. My experience with churches is that they don't outright preach anti-gay stuff. It just sort of … never comes up. Or is assumed. Or something. I don't know. But at this church, it simply never came up.

    Christian: Yowzer. What an interesting little anecdote. Packed with interesting dynamics. Thanks for taking the time to tell it. It's like a whole, perfect little short story. I love your final paragraph here. Thank you.

    Ms.K: Believe me: no one at that church—or at least none of the many, many people I knew there, and met with, and spoke with on this with—was ABOUT to open the door on this, as you say, "very closed topic." Not going to happen, ever, at any level. We gave it as much a try as is possible. No go. We knew it was time to move on.

  • http://theuntried.com Mark

    Good for you. I understand all too well when you say you did all you can do. Fighting from within the system is virtually impossible. You can't debate or discuss with someone who refuses to even concede that there is the slightest possibility they could be wrong.

  • http://thereisnogray.wordpress.com thereisnogray

    John,

    After reading your post, I turned to the "leadership form" I signed several months ago. I didn't think it was appropriate to post as a comment in your post, but thought you should see it nonetheless. If you have a chance to look it over, I would like to hear your thoughts. Here is the link:

    http://www.fc7.org/leadership_qualifications.htm

    I'm not sure your former church handled their "anti-gay" form the right way. Then again, I'm not sure what else was on the form. I will tell you that I struggled with our leadership qualifications for many months prior to signing the form. Not because of what they said, but because they were going to be difficult to adhere to, and I would likely fall short. Anyway, I signed the form and God has continued to use me in various ways since.

    All this to say, perhaps your former church had the best intentions, but maybe they were executed poorly. Or, maybe not.

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

    Mark: You're right. (Hey, I read the piece on your blog about your friend's tragic onslaught of MS. Terrible. What a heartbreaking story!)

    NoGray: There was literally nothing else on the form we were asked to sign. It was just two sentences, I believe, saying that anyone in a same-sex relationship should never be allowed in any position of any authority whatsoever in that church. I was, like, "But this is a HUMAN RESOURCES document."

    I read the document you've here linked to. It creeps me out. That final sentence was a deal-killer for me. I just don't understand the PURPOSE of such a document. It feels too crazy for me.

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    A sad story, to be certain; and also a strange one. Most places, when they ask you to stake a doctrinal position, have a whole list of items: your position on the nature of Christ, affirm the resurrection, etc.

    I guess because of the tradition that I was raised in (churches of Christ) I have a knee-jerk reaction of "No way" whenever someone asks me to sign a creedal statement.

    Regardless, I think you did the right (albeit tough) thing. The good news (as I am sure most of the readers here are aware) is that one need not be a deacon to visit shut-ins and do other acts of ministry. But I need to remind myself of that every once in a while.

  • Live & Learn

    Was this the same church that made your attending-but-not-yet-believing wife feel unwanted? The one that made it sound like you could/should dump her if she didn't come around FAST?

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

    Odgie: Wise, as ever.

    Live: Yes, same church. Not so good going in; not too good coming out. But great in between! We were there for the pastor, who was really outstanding.

  • Dan W.

    Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

    I too am disturbed by this blog and all the replys to it for a different reason. No one seems to have gone to the Bible, the word of God, to see what He has to say about this matter.

    First of all, if there is any question about homosexuality being a sin, than any further discussion is futile. In Exodus 20:14, God wrote in the ten commandments "You shall not commit adultery". What is adultery? Adultery is sexual immorality – any perversion of Gods gift of sex to marriage. In R Albert Mohler's webblog from April 21, 2004 (http://bible.christianity.com/SermonHelps/11548230/) he wrote "as Romans 1 makes absolutely clear, homomsexuality is fundamentally an act of unbelief". "Homosexual acts and homosexual desire, states Paul, are a rebellion against God's sovereign intention in creation and a gross perversion of God's good and perfect plan for His created order. Paul makes clear that homosexuality -among both males and females- is a dramatic sign of rebellion against God and His intention in creation." "This is a very strong and clear message. The logical progression in Romans 1 is undeniable. Paul shifts immediately from his description of rebellion against God as Creator to an identification of homosexuality–among both men and women–as the first and most evident sign of a society upon which God has turned His judgment. Essential to understanding this reality in theological perspective is a recognition of homosexuality as an assault upon the integrity of creation and God's intention in creating human beings in two distinct and complementary genders. This text may be dismissed and ignored by those who reject its message, but it cannot be neutralized." PLEASE read Romans 1, especially 24-32.

    Homosexuality, or ANY sexual immorality, is clearly sin in our lives, just as ANYTHING that comes between the father and our relationship. John, would it have been as shocking to you if the contract would have said 'any form of habitual or unrepentant sin'? The office of deacon in the church is an honered and very responsible position, and should not be entered lightly. The definiton and qualifications for deacon are spelled out in very clearly in 1 Timothy 3, and are very specific about the type of person overseeing functions in the church. If anything should have been signed or agreed upon, it should have been a copy of this chapter.

    As for the point that it was never mentioned, the church may have been expecting that something as flagrant as sexual immorality would be a given, and not need to be addressed. Romans 2:13 says "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." God gave us the Holy Spirit to be our guide and 'tester' for what is right and wrong. John 14:26 says "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."

    I don't want you to think I'm picking on you. Leadership in the church is a very important position, and carries with it a great accountability along with the responsibility of the position. The Lord will open the right door, in accordance with the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you, to be a part of the body that you are designed to be. We are in the church not to 'help God out', but to fullfill our relationship with our creator. If we are operating in God's will, He will take our meager efforts and turn them into something miraculous for His glory.

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

    Dan: You "too," are disturbed by this blog? Did anyone else say they were disturbed by this blog? Did I (yet again) miss something?

    You absolutely did miss something, Dan—or, rather, you added something that wasn't there. What you HEARD me say in this post is that I don't think homosexuality is a sin. I'm guessing you heard that because you were so sure I was saying that that you failed to pay attention to what I actually DID say. If you go back and read the post, you won't find anywhere in it any sort of opinion whatsoever about homosexuality. None. Not there. You're swinging at a pinata no one's hung up.

  • Kim

    Heck John, the church asked so little of you. In our church we can't even wear cotton-polyester blends. And what about shrimp?(Hint: See Leviticus)

  • Kim

    At least I am still able to eat locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers!!

  • http://phillysoul11.wordpress.com phillysoul11

    this is interesting, I think many churches are a bit frightened to state that they are against homosexuality as doing so may in fact really hurt attendance ect. My pastor a little while back had a 3 part series on homosexuality in the Bible and was slammed really hard as a result…he got loads of hate mail, was mentioned in surrounding newspapers and was labeled a homophobic bigot…so yeah it isn't surprising that so many churches are being so hush hush on the matter…

  • Kim

    Well, I would like to tell you more, but I have work to do. I just touched the chair my wife sat on when she had her time of the month and now I have to scrub my clothes and take a bath. It is so hard being good.

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

    Wait, wait, wait. I think Kim's being sarcastic.

  • Dan W.

    John,

    The point of my response was that the document should have included ALL forms of habitual and unrepentant sin, not just homosexuality. I would have taken the document and added everything mentoned in the Bible I could think of that would create a separation between myself and God! Did you read past the first paragraph? The point that you stated no opinion about homosexuality would lead one to believe there was a problem. What was so wrong with signing it in the first place, if you didn't have a problem with it? You are absolutely right though about the church singling out that one point. It should have been more extensive.

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

    Um: again, I don't think you read my post—wherein I don't see how I could have been clearer in answering your question about why I didn't want to sign the paper.

    Sigh.

    Okay, here's what I said about why I didn't want to sign:

    "It’s the actual signing of it that I have a problem with. It just feels awfully … draconian, don’t you think? Actually making someone sign their name to something? Isn’t that just a little too … Joe McCarthy?"

    See? Simple.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Be a long document.

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

    My exact thought.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Long. But given the numerous things the Bible is against, if it included all of them, it might be quite entertaining.

    But I'm just weird that way.

  • Dan Harrell

    Oh my, first we make sure no one is gay, who wants to help, then the next logical step is to get them left handed democrats in their place and we can't forget about red headed step children. Single moms are next and men with bad comb overs certainly should be on the list. No greater sin that a bad comb over.

    Seriously, I prefer bigots to be up front rather than devious. What if someone in the church in a position of authority "came out"? Stone them? John, your posts are always provocative.

  • Kim

    Finished washing up. Burned the chair.

    Sacrastic?? Never. Just old Testament. But what about money?? Didn't your document say you have to give your money away at least? As I remember the scriptures they go something like this -

    Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. — Matthew 19:23-24, Mark 10:23-25

    But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. — Luke 6:24

    But those ideas may be too hard to teach, let alone follow.

  • Dan W.

    John,

    I DO think the church mishandled the entire situation. To make that the focal point of their deacon acceptance seems very strange. Why didn't they preach about it from the pulpit? Were you able to speak with the pastor about this? It sounds like they mishandled it all the way around, and the church had more problems than that.

    The problem I had with not signing it would stem from Mathew 10:32,33 "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

    John, I feel the time is QUICKLY coming when we will have to make that vow and declare 'Jesus is Lord', and the consequences of that declaration could cost us plenty. I want to be spiritually in the sold out position where I can hold my head high and confess Jesus is my Saviour. This was the point behind my comments.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Dan:

    Um…you DO know that Christians are still the vast majority in this country, right?

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

    Dan: I'm sure the Lord, whenever and however you meet with him, will be pleased by your love for him.

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

    You’re swinging at a pinata no one’s hung up.

    How much do I love this?! And how often am I going to use it and not give you credit?

    So the post. What bothered me most about it was how little response I had to it. I hate that those are the kind of scenarios I've come to expect (and accept?) within the institutional church.

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

    Oh, Anita. Somehow, you always manage to make plagarism seem less morally offensive than it is.

    No joke on your second comment, though. That really is awful. Just … painful.

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

    As the baby of the family I learned along time ago that cute goes a long way. My wife calls it the "adorability factor." If ever called before a judge and jury don't think I won't use it.

  • Live & Learn

    I'm so relieved to know it was ONE church responsible for BOTH of those crushingly bad deacon decisions you've described.

    Maybe we need to give 'em a name — in case you use them in the future to serve as a bad example: How about the malignant micro-managers? Or the hardhearted, half-witted deacons? Just give us a warning that it's the same bunch, and we'll all sleep better at night. :-)

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Even skinheads know not to speak publicly about their publicly unpalletable ideas. Knowing they would face riducule for their anti-gay stance, they choose to press it quietly and subversively. Uber-kudos to you John and Cat for walking away. Many, in an effort to keep connected to their beloved church community, would have signed that paper. But had their anti-gay rhetoric been poured forth from the pulpit…maybe it wouldn't be such a beloved community.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    I've known people in similar situations. There seems to be a tendency for many to 'hang in there' – your loyalty towards you church should compel you to stay. We shouldn't be jumping ship over differences of opinion and so forth.

    But then who are we following – the church or Christ?

  • Candace

    I'm a deacon in my church. A very solid, conservative, Bible-believing and teaching church. And I didn't have to sign anything. The elder who asked me to pray about joining the deacon council did no more than that — he just asked me (on behalf of the Elders, who had prayed about asking me) to ask the Lord whether He would like me to serve His body in the capacity of deacon.

    I asked. I listened to His answer. I went to the elder who invited me to consider it and I told him it was a go. We prayed together that the Lord would lead me in and give me strength for this service. And that was it.

  • Candace

    Live wrote: “Maybe we need to give ‘em a name — in case you use them in the future to serve as a bad example: How about the malignant micro-managers? Or the hardhearted, half-witted deacons? Just give us a warning that it’s the same bunch, and we’ll all sleep better at night.”

    The Dreaconians :-) How’s that? A kind of dreary/draconian/deacon mélange. I love new vocabulary!

  • Stuart

    Great blog John and I pretty much go along with your observations.

    One of the things I realise as a Christian of some 25+ years is that each day is a balancing act – We have to walk the line between not slacking off and not becoming a Pharisee.

    There are far too many poor people in the world that need our attention, for us to be wasting time on this sort of legalism.

    Keep up the excellent work.

    Stuart

  • Sheila

    What Part of love the sinner hate sin does the church not understand? Why do our organized religions feel they must sit in judgement and dictate who is welcome in God's House? Christ came into the world not to condem the world but that the world might be saved through him. To quote an old addage "Church is a hospital for sinners not a museum for saints" Jesus invites and welcomes all to come to him and when we do he will take control and show us the truth of life. If we all concentrated more on living by Jesus example, in love and acceptance of PEOPLE not their lifestyle or the sin they live in but of that person as a precious soul that God loves, we would win a lot more people to the kingdom. While walking on this earth Jesus hung out with the worst of sinners, showed them love and directed them to a better way of life. Not by condemning them but thru love and the truth. I want to be like Jesus!!!

    • Mary G

      What part of loving another human being qualifies as a sin?

      • Soulmentor

        The gay part, apparently.

        • Mike

          Whoops!

          So tempted to become Buddhist.

          • Lauralew

            My brother did.

  • tavdy

    Romans 14 vs 23-23

    So whatever you believe about these things [b]keep between yourself and God[/b]. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. (NIV)

    Cultivate your own relationship with God, [b]but don't impose it on others[/b]. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong. (Message)

  • imm

    John i totally agree with not signing the form….

    I don't remember Jesus asking Mark, Luke, Peter, John and the rest of the Twelve to line up and fill in a form before becoming Apostles… It's weird hearing Christians doing thing that THE Christ himself doesn't do…

    Yeah, leadership is may seem like some biggie to some.. but it's actually REALLY simple. You believe Jesus saved you? Then He lives in you… Now spread the love of Christ.. NOT to promote anti- this and that.. it's welcoming the misfits and introducing them to Jesus.. :)

    You're married. What's the form for? haha.

  • les is more

    If there weren't people on this Earth to challenge our beliefs, our beliefs wouldn't mean anything. All of the judgement in society doesn't change the fact that we aren't the ones appointed to do the judging.

  • http://youngadultsindayton.wordpress.com talia

    ugh!

  • Pingback: hell hath no fury, Pt III « Matchingsocks’s Weblog

  • soulmentor

    I was raised in the most conservative of the three Lutheran synods, Wisconsin Synod. Our entire family of four children was baptized and raised in that church. Later, after I had been in the Air Force for a few years and still receiving the church mailings, I finally wrote them back and suggested they may as well save their money because I would probably never be a regular attendee or member again. So they did that. They took me off the roles and I was no longer a member.

    Later, the time came when my sister was being married in "our" church and she wanted me to sing. So ok, I was honored to be asked. To our stunned surprise, we were informed I would not be permitted to sing at her wedding. When we asked why, we were told it was because I was no longer technically a member and only members may partake of a "holy" ceremony of the church and singing was considered "partaking". But I could be an usher.

    We were flabbergasted and it prompted some seriously strained discussions within our family, especially from me. I finally called the minister and asked if I could sing if I rejoined the church. He asked if it was just so I could sing and I said yes, because I didn't live there anymore anyway. This was on the phone and he replied, "Isn't that like splitting hairs?" I replied, "I think that's what's being done anyway." There was dead silence on the other end. I don't remember if I spoke something or not before I hung up.

    We all decided to shut up about it rather than ruin my sister's wedding and I agreed to usher.

    To this day I have not set foot in that church except for my parents funerals.

  • Lee Walker

    This really saddens me…

  • Lee Walker

    This really saddens me…

  • Scott Spencer-Wolff

    This was movingly written, but behind the obvious “what the hell?” or “Those bastards!” response it immediately generates, I’m just a little incredulous that you could attend ANY gathering for that period of time and not have a sense that there was some seriously rigid thinking going on there.

    After a while of listening to how people (especially the clergy) frame stories, choose THIS word over THAT word, select messages – doesn’t one sort of get a picture about what’s going on at more than the surface level?

    Did anyone publicly point out that “While I may be a heretic (and Jesus was called a lot worse), you’re a homophobic moron” to the pastor? I sure would have enjoyed that. Or were you NICE?

  • Scott Spencer-Wolff

    This was movingly written, but behind the obvious “what the hell?” or “Those bastards!” response it immediately generates, I’m just a little incredulous that you could attend ANY gathering for that period of time and not have a sense that there was some seriously rigid thinking going on there.

    After a while of listening to how people (especially the clergy) frame stories, choose THIS word over THAT word, select messages – doesn’t one sort of get a picture about what’s going on at more than the surface level?

    Did anyone publicly point out that “While I may be a heretic (and Jesus was called a lot worse), you’re a homophobic moron” to the pastor? I sure would have enjoyed that. Or were you NICE?

  • Michael Rowe

    Reminds me of the McCarthyist “loyalty oaths.” Ugly.

    • Christy

      Well, we’re seeing a revival of that. Are we not?

  • Michael Rowe

    Reminds me of the McCarthyist “loyalty oaths.” Ugly.

  • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

    Stunning, John, and, yet, painfully familiar.

  • Dave Hanna via Facebook

    Jesus was, I believe,the first heretic.

  • Dave Hanna via Facebook

    Jesus was, I believe,the first heretic.

  • Elaine Liner via Facebook

    If you change that hed to the grammatically correct “My Wife and Me,” I’d love your blog more.

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      The former English teacher in me agrees with this. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    I should change that. I will!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    I should change that. I will!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Cohea/100000024967834 Ashley Cohea via Facebook

    Yep, been there. Somehow, I have more ‘respect’ for churches that are open in their bigotry than those who hide it from their own members. Kudos to you guys for standing up for YOUR faith. It isn’t easy to leave a church you love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    I did! thanks for catch

  • Sonnie Swenston-Forbes via Facebook

    I was going to point out that grammar thing too! But another great post.

  • Sonnie Swenston-Forbes via Facebook

    I was going to point out that grammar thing too! But another great post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    It’s an interesting call. People SAY “They were mean to Carol and I,” but you’re supposed to WRITE “…Carol and me.” I almost always prefer to go with usage over rules. But … maybe not for headlines, after all.

    • sharon

      This is how I do it.

      1. always put the other’s name first and mention yourself last.

      2. if you would have said me if Carol weren’t in the story then you say Carol and me. If you would have said I if it had just been you then you say Carol and I.

      I think: “they were mean to Carol and me. ” is best because you never would say they were mean to I.

      .02

  • Deb Fullwood

    I dont think this is a policy for all of the denomination. I was never asked tosign such BS to be either a deacon or an elder

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      No, it was just something our church made up.

      • sharon

        I go to and am on staff of a very large PCUSA congregation. The topics of homosexuals in leadership and membership has recently been quite the topic of conversation, but only behind closed doors. We even had a staff meeting where is was talked about and basically we were asked anything about it to send people to the director of communications.

        By the way, our local presbytery voted against 10-A. And the leadership from my church were opposed to it as well.

        Someone in the staff meeting asked a very good question. “How did you and the other presbyters know how to vote when we never talk about this topic?”

        I was shocked and dismayed by the reply. “It’s not really a representative government. We are voted for and then we are led by the Spirit.”

        So even though our congregation is very mixed on the issue, as a whole we aren’t.

        I am sticking it out for now because the Lord is working in powerful ways in the ministries I serve. But I am struggling.

        Peace,

        Sharon

  • Deb Fullwood

    I dont think this is a policy for all of the denomination. I was never asked tosign such BS to be either a deacon or an elder

  • http://pathux.wordpress.com/ Pat

    Couldn’t put this on your Facebook wall. My daughter gets upset when I mention her to anyone, even though I never use her name online.

    Anyhow, she and her husband joined a new Presbyterian church plant when they moved, about 10 yrs ago. They like it. It tried to be contemporary. But is was the conservative branch (whichever one that is). Anyhow, they are quite liberal. Still, they were unaware of the stance on homosexuality until they were taking part in the small groups. They asked why the church took that position (on other things as well) and were told that was the way it was. The Bible said so. The bylaws said so. Period. No discussion.

    Well, they left the church. They have not been to any church since. They declare themselves to be agnostic, and are raising the kids that way. But I now live near them, and they know what I believe – and that it has changed over the years to where I am quite liberal myself. I don’t fit in at any church much anymore. I am happy though, because there are great people like John on Facebook/gracebook!

    Thank you for being you, John.

  • http://pathux.wordpress.com/ Pat

    Couldn’t put this on your Facebook wall. My daughter gets upset when I mention her to anyone, even though I never use her name online.

    Anyhow, she and her husband joined a new Presbyterian church plant when they moved, about 10 yrs ago. They like it. It tried to be contemporary. But is was the conservative branch (whichever one that is). Anyhow, they are quite liberal. Still, they were unaware of the stance on homosexuality until they were taking part in the small groups. They asked why the church took that position (on other things as well) and were told that was the way it was. The Bible said so. The bylaws said so. Period. No discussion.

    Well, they left the church. They have not been to any church since. They declare themselves to be agnostic, and are raising the kids that way. But I now live near them, and they know what I believe – and that it has changed over the years to where I am quite liberal myself. I don’t fit in at any church much anymore. I am happy though, because there are great people like John on Facebook/gracebook!

    Thank you for being you, John.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    As Marx once wrote: “I refuse to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member.” (No, not Karl; the funny one)

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    I actually wrote/co-wrote a whole BOOK on punctuation and grammar: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0312342551

  • Richard lubbers

    It’s always difficult to determine with Christians what is allowed and what is not allowed. That in itself is a sad process; that we would have criteria that people have to meet in order for them to be useful to God. The God I know uses people who are perfect – perfect scoundrels!

    Tammy and I just left a small start-up church that we were supporting with time, prayer, preaching and money. I had asked why Tammy was recused the opportunity to provide special music. Four weeks later I was called to meet with the pastor, who is a personal friend (his daughter is in charge of the music). I was presented with a page of notes on objectionable posts on our Facebook pages. I wrote my friend the next day and told him we wouldn’t be returning.

    As the sabboth was made for man, and not man for the sabboth, so should be the rest of the institutions of faith.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Whoa. That is so freaking crazy.

    • Christy

      Dear Richard…..I’m so sorry. We experienced this in the Fundamentalist churches of my youth. It reminds me of this:

      Matthew 15

      That Which Defiles

      1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

      3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

      8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,

      but their hearts are far from me.

      9 They worship me in vain;

      their teachings are merely human rules.’”

      10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

      12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

      13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

      Bless you in your new beginning and comfort in your pain of leaving old friends behind.

      • Allie

        I can never read that passage without thinking, “Yeah, but Jesus, you should still really wash your hands!”

        I guess the good Lord didn’t have to worry about Hepatitis. :)

      • Melody

        Funny how those fundies conveniently forget about passages like this so they don’t have to hold themselves accountable. It’s only the rest of us filthy heathen who have to uphold the standard.

    • Diana A.

      Your last sentence, in particular, rings true for me.

  • Robin Vestal via Facebook

    This post had me holding my head. I can’t believe that people would throw away relationships like that.:(

    • sharon

      Robin, do you mean that the couple should have signed the paper and stayed with the congregation or do you mean the church shouldn’t have treated them so badly?

      Peace,

      Sharon

  • Robin Vestal via Facebook

    This post had me holding my head. I can’t believe that people would throw away relationships like that.:(

  • AnnBear

    We became second class citizens at the Presbyterian Church I had attended since childhood when it became known that I was mentally ill. I have never been too sure how so many knew and why it was such a problem.

    From there we went to one of those “non denominational” denominations. We were initially greeted warmly. Then, I didn’t have enough faith because the healing prayers didn’t work. Followed up with, I couldn’t possibly be a born again Christian because I had an advanced degree in Psychology. Both of those beliefs of that church, I internalized. I believed that I had been forsaken by God. It became a life or death situation because I was suicidal and required a two week hospitalization.

    My husband helped me most of all by showing me scriptures that helped me understand that God had not forsaken me, those vocal church members had.

    Is it any wonder I do not attend a church?

  • AnnBear

    We became second class citizens at the Presbyterian Church I had attended since childhood when it became known that I was mentally ill. I have never been too sure how so many knew and why it was such a problem.

    From there we went to one of those “non denominational” denominations. We were initially greeted warmly. Then, I didn’t have enough faith because the healing prayers didn’t work. Followed up with, I couldn’t possibly be a born again Christian because I had an advanced degree in Psychology. Both of those beliefs of that church, I internalized. I believed that I had been forsaken by God. It became a life or death situation because I was suicidal and required a two week hospitalization.

    My husband helped me most of all by showing me scriptures that helped me understand that God had not forsaken me, those vocal church members had.

    Is it any wonder I do not attend a church?

  • Allie

    This reminds me of my mother-in-law’s church. During the time my husband was growing up, she belonged to a more or less ordinary Baptist church. After her divorce and remarriage, she joined her husband’s church, which was an independent Baptist, very fundamentalist church. Among other things it would not allow women to attend financial meetings, as this was supposed to violate somehow the rule about women speaking in church. This was a very competent woman who had been a financial officer at her company for 30 years!

    The weird thing is that she openly told us she disagreed with the church’s position. My husband asked her how she could stand it, and she just shrugged and said no church was perfect.

    She did leave eventually, though. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when her 100-year-old mother, who had been a Baptist all her life and was pretty much as saintly a human being as I’ve ever met, visited their church, and they wouldn’t allow her to take communion because she “wasn’t a member.” She had a signed thing from her own pastor, but they told her that in order to take communion she had to be a member of that exact congregation. Basically unless you went to church in that BUILDING, you were a heretic.

    • Melody

      Was the church Primitive Baptist? My dad has some relatives that go to one. They practice closed communion, too. That practice is neither charitable nor biblical, in my opinion.

    • Christy

      At the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church of my youth before communion was served the minister would give a warning to the congregation about unbelievers taking communion “unadvisedly” and asked all those who were born again to raise their hands and told those who did not raise their hands not to take communion because God would not “hold them guiltless” if they did.

      They too believed the only “true Christians” were other IFB members. Not even Southern Baptists, they were too liberal.

      • Melody

        Ugh. Nothing like a little guilt and embarrassment to keep up the morale.

  • Allie

    This reminds me of my mother-in-law’s church. During the time my husband was growing up, she belonged to a more or less ordinary Baptist church. After her divorce and remarriage, she joined her husband’s church, which was an independent Baptist, very fundamentalist church. Among other things it would not allow women to attend financial meetings, as this was supposed to violate somehow the rule about women speaking in church. This was a very competent woman who had been a financial officer at her company for 30 years!

    The weird thing is that she openly told us she disagreed with the church’s position. My husband asked her how she could stand it, and she just shrugged and said no church was perfect.

    She did leave eventually, though. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when her 100-year-old mother, who had been a Baptist all her life and was pretty much as saintly a human being as I’ve ever met, visited their church, and they wouldn’t allow her to take communion because she “wasn’t a member.” She had a signed thing from her own pastor, but they told her that in order to take communion she had to be a member of that exact congregation. Basically unless you went to church in that BUILDING, you were a heretic.

    • Melody

      Was the church Primitive Baptist? My dad has some relatives that go to one. They practice closed communion, too. That practice is neither charitable nor biblical, in my opinion.

  • Tina Badger via Facebook

    Unbelievable…well, not really…horribly sad though. And I too, like Sonnie always drop the other subject to see if it sounds right. I see a lot of folks using the “I” where they should be using “me”…drives me batty!! Sorry =)

  • Tina Badger via Facebook

    Unbelievable…well, not really…horribly sad though. And I too, like Sonnie always drop the other subject to see if it sounds right. I see a lot of folks using the “I” where they should be using “me”…drives me batty!! Sorry =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mad-Maddie-Mendelsson/783945797 Mad Maddie Mendelsson via Facebook

    Good for you two, not signing that document.

  • Kathy M.

    Recently our pastor said homosexuality is not God’s best and therefore is a sin. My husband was furious when we left church that Sunday. Two of my husband’s three brothers, my cousin, my nephew and a few of my friends are gay. We still haven’t left. Still trying to decide if this is a deal-breaker. It was only one statement by the pastor and it hasn’t been mentioned again (non-denominational church with Baptist and pentacostal influences– no there IS NOT any speaking in tongues there). Still on the fence because of the relationships we’ve formed with other members. Any advice?

    • Christy

      “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Allie

      Speak to your pastor about your feelings and go from there.

    • Carrie

      Silence implies agreement/acceptance. Attitudes won’t change unless ALL of us stand up to the closed minds that create such levels of animosity that cause kids to kill themselves for being GLBT. I’m straight, but I have friends and family members in this group. I’m starting to find my voice, too!

    • Ken

      Tough call. I think it is both very American and very Christian to sometimes agree to disagree, to defend one another out of a greater love even if we think the worst of each other at times. And yet:

      “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” -Martin Niemoller, 1955

      Hatred is such a subtle pernicious disease. Unchecked it grows beyond all its original bounds.

  • Connie

    Although I was raised Presbyterian I am currently a Methodist and when I was approached by my Pastor to be a trustee (I was already out to her) I tried to get out of it by saying that I didn’t think that the majority of the church would like it if they knew they had a lesbian for a trustee. She said it was ok (dang it). I’ve been a trustee for at least seven years now. But the other day when I mentioned in a women’s church book club that I felt we should be doing some outreach to the gay communiy and letting them know that God loves them too, there was no response. Admittedly I wasn’t really expecting them to like the idea but I think it’s a message that needs to be said. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.conard Tim Conard via Facebook

    i am a member of a church that i don’t actually attend. not for any doctrinal reasons, i’m just not a very social person. not really sure what the stand on glbt is, though i would guess it to be fairly liberal (they did let me teach the high school sunday school class for several years with no complaints about my teaching). hope i never have to make a decision like yours, though. must have hurt a lot. for what little it’s worth, i agree with you..

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.conard Tim Conard via Facebook

    i am a member of a church that i don’t actually attend. not for any doctrinal reasons, i’m just not a very social person. not really sure what the stand on glbt is, though i would guess it to be fairly liberal (they did let me teach the high school sunday school class for several years with no complaints about my teaching). hope i never have to make a decision like yours, though. must have hurt a lot. for what little it’s worth, i agree with you..

  • Ann Brown

    Christians should follow 1 rule: Love the lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Everything from abortion to zoology. Is this the most loving way to act is the question to ask in a tough situation.

    this was in my heart when my friend came out to me when i was 16. We are still friends. that is Agape.

    I also know the pain of leaving a church that tries to fine print the congregation (Teach SS class vs. membership – which I thought was a renewal of baptismal vows. & i wasn’t there emotionally. We’d taught for 2 years and attended every week. go figure) Good luck to all with open hearts!

  • http://gulfshoressteven.wordpress.com/ Steven Kurtz

    oooh. I’m so sorry. May you find a way to be gracious and loving, knowing you serve a grace-giving, loving God who is able to redeem the lost lambs like us, and like those who think differently, trusting that “Love wins” because God wins, and God is love.

  • Ken

    We “debated” or “discussed” this in class once. On one side, a fair argument can be made for, shall we say, “doctrinal purity”: To whit, if any religion or belief system is to survive across the span of generations, certain if not all teachings must be absolute. (Even in cases of an absolute belief system there will be changes over time, but starting from an absolute unwavering stance slows the process down enough so that change is almost automatically documented – the present knows how it got there.) Remember, in a sense the core function of any church is the transmission of a set of ideas over time. That is not the sole function, but it is an important one.

    On the other hand, it is odd that, having declared a doctrine of “love” and “peace” and grace”, Christianity immediately begin placing all sorts of restrictions on love, peace, and grace. One cannot love except… Peace be upon the faithful, war upon the unbeliever… grace is… conditional. One the hand a magnificent breadth of vision, on the other, blinders.

    I would argue that this paradox arises not from Christianity, but from Christians; not from any one Faith, but the faithful. We are only human. Forgive them, they did not know what they did (but maybe it still came from a good place in the beginning).

  • Soulmentor

    The gay part, apparently.

  • Mike

    Whoops!

    So tempted to become Buddhist.

  • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

    The former English teacher in me agrees with this. :)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    Whoa. That is so freaking crazy.

  • Christy

    Dear Richard…..I’m so sorry. We experienced this in the Fundamentalist churches of my youth. It reminds me of this:

    Matthew 15

    That Which Defiles

    1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

    3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

    8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,

    but their hearts are far from me.

    9 They worship me in vain;

    their teachings are merely human rules.’”

    10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

    12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

    13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

    Bless you in your new beginning and comfort in your pain of leaving old friends behind.

  • Diana A.

    Your last sentence, in particular, rings true for me.

  • Melody

    Ugh. Nothing like a little guilt and embarrassment to keep up the morale.

  • Christy

    “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Allie

    Speak to your pastor about your feelings and go from there.

  • Carrie

    Silence implies agreement/acceptance. Attitudes won’t change unless ALL of us stand up to the closed minds that create such levels of animosity that cause kids to kill themselves for being GLBT. I’m straight, but I have friends and family members in this group. I’m starting to find my voice, too!

  • Ken

    Tough call. I think it is both very American and very Christian to sometimes agree to disagree, to defend one another out of a greater love even if we think the worst of each other at times. And yet:

    “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” -Martin Niemoller, 1955

    Hatred is such a subtle pernicious disease. Unchecked it grows beyond all its original bounds.

  • sharon

    This is how I do it.

    1. always put the other’s name first and mention yourself last.

    2. if you would have said me if Carol weren’t in the story then you say Carol and me. If you would have said I if it had just been you then you say Carol and I.

    I think: “they were mean to Carol and me. ” is best because you never would say they were mean to I.

    .02


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