Honorable Discourse!

Here are a few–though by no means all–highlights from the discussion that yesterday took place in the comments section of The Curse of the Crappy Christians:

“I DO think most people want the same things: the disagreement is almost always how to get from here to there. And it starts, I think, by grounding ourselves in lasting principles that are fair to all: I tend to favour human rights, constitutional freedoms and equal political rights, and respect for the dignity of personhood. I think none of these can be improved by religious beliefs extended into the public domain.”

“I am not afraid of gays, nor do I hate them, I have some very close friends who are gay and we talk about this issue a lot in conversations that are full of mutual respect and love. … I am struggling with this because of my commitment to God and for no other reason.”

“When laws are enacted that have no basis in fact or reality, only religion, people get hurt – and those doing the hurting sit back and rest on ‘the Bible says so,’ and don’t believe they have to consider the human toll of their actions.”

“I went to a concert a few years back in one of those non-denominational mega-churches in a small Midwestern city. The concert was wonderful. As my friend and I wandered around the church beforehand, we were astounded. It was a virtual campus, complete with a workout gym, a coffeehouse, cafe and a bookstore. A place for all the Christians to gather and socialize – and it seemed to us, to avoid crossing paths with the heathens of the world. What good does that do, really? When a group insulates itself from the outside world to a great degree, venturing out on mission trips en masse, they lose touch with the rest of the world. Of course those young people wouldn’t likely meet anyone who is openly gay – so they have no idea who they are, what their lives are like, or how their church’s teachings affect these people they don’t even know. I get that they would not, personally, be openly rude or critical or at all unkind to a gay person. But by subscribing to the unfounded but religious belief that the core of a gay person’s being is sinful, they are part of the perpetuation of the discrimination.”

“It took me four suicide attempts (three of which were supposed to be no-failures) before I realised that God loved me the way He created me and I was letting God down trying to change what he created me to be.”

“We think it a positive thing that Martin Luther had the nerve to speak truth to the Church, though some of what he had to say was bound to offend, and the offense was grave enough to result in big time condemnation. And look at the perfect Christian, Christ: He had some quite harsh things to say for those who expounded of the Scriptures not in accordance with the Spirit of God, but relying too heavily on their various traditions in understanding it and their own assumptions about the circumstances in which to apply it; towards the agents of oppression against those who do truly love the Lord—the God who is Love Himself—He could become downright mad (I’m thinking of money changers in the temple).”

“Christians lose the right to say they ‘love’ gays but ‘feel the need to follow God’ the minute they denounce not only church marriages, but also non-religious civil marriages. My partner and I had our silver wedding anniversary this year. We were married at the Metropolitan Community Church before gay marriage was legal in Canada, and in the United Church once it was legal. In both cases, God was present, and both were solemn and dignified. Also, I’ve only been married to the same man, so if you really want to support ‘traditional Biblical marriage,’ then start campaigning against divorce, something that evangelical Christians have down to an art, much like teenage pregnancy.”

“I believe that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, I believe that the tide of Christianity is changing toward justice, and I believe that one day demonizing gay people won’t be accepted in American society.”

“Change happens slowly and sometimes not at all. For a lot of people, religion is a comfort zone, so they dare not question it–any aspect of it–for fear that the whole thing will fall apart in their hands. So yes, people will use their religion to justify their bad behavior rather than questioning whether their religion truly demands that bad behavior–and if it does, whether that might be evidence that their religion is wrong (on that point, if not on others).”

“I’d rather be called a queer every day of my life and be able to marry someone I love than have everyone play nice but make it clear that I’m a second class citizen.”

“Question whether homosexuality is a sin, which the Bible seems to do (at least Mel relies on it to say so), and a belief in the inerrancy or even infallibility of the Bible is shattered. If so much of a person’s faith relies so heavily on that book, it ceases to Christianity in my view, it becomes bibliolatry.”

“I’ve started to pray again lately. I’ve started to speak with God again after a too long hiatus. And God continually tells me that the literal interpretations of God’s love and meaning are almost always wrong. That what God desires and has cast us into is a milieu in which we are to love and respect one another and solve our differences NOT through taking but by giving. By giving. Giving. That means giving up on our tired, old preconceptions about right and wrong – the baggage handed down from generation to generation of people who used God to exploit, to deny, to repress and to rationalize crimes against other humans. Oh, and to make themselves feel good…. [Our] job is to give, to provide all human beings with the love and respect they deserve. If God created this universe, then God chose to put homosexuals here along side heterosexuals. That’s the deal. God did it. Not as an experiment or example, but as a matter of fact – a fact of life. To deny them their basic nature is a form of torture and deprivation that is completely contrary to God’s creation.”

“I’m so freaking sick of being denied equal rights by the majority in the name of protecting me from myself. Yesterday the Senate voted to keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This means that my career plans are shot, because I’m gay. I can’t adopt here. I can’t marry here. I can’t do anything …”

“I will give you the example of my husband, whom I love dearly. He’s has never, once, read the Bible for himself, so all he has to go on is what his church leaders and parents have told him. He, with all his heart wants to be a good person and a good son. Since his parents are the neighboring naysayers and his church is the one that preaches that not all neighbors are worthy of love, it stands to reason that to him, being a good Christian means believing that he should be angry and hateful towards those who are different than he is. The love that Jesus taught is downright SCARY to him.”

“When I get frustrated about what I perceive to be an injustice to the cause of Christ, or outright hypocrisy, it is so easy for my passion to cross the slippery slope into ego and self-righteousness. I sense that I’m being taught more than a lesson on humility. It’s almost a realization that at our core, we all have more in common than we like to believe or explore.”

“Loving those who grate on our nerves and drive us bat shit crazy, those whom we think bastardize Christianity … well, if we can’t love them, we are no better than what we perceive them to be. Hate is easy. Love is hard.”

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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. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

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

    Sylvie: Thanks. It's weird, but so many of the best comments weren't suitable for this kind of presentation, insofar as they were worded in response to another comment, and so in that sense couldn't stand alone. DR, for instance, said a LOT of wonderful things I wish I could have included here–but she was usually speaking sort of directly to another commenter, and so what she said wouldn't have made perfect sense taken out of that context. Same with Michael Rowe. Anyway, I thought this a worthy bit of business. I hate to see such good stuff just disappear.

    • Argy-bargy

      Well done, John. It was a remarkable discussion.

  • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

    An artful example of your stellar editing skills, this presents a cogent and beautifully subtle restatement of the discussion. Thank you.

    You should work as an editor sometime! ;)

  • DonP

    Commas and editing and restraint of any kind….well almost any kind…. be damned to…… Oh I don't know. Wherever such things get damned to I guess.

    The point:

    I didn't read the source of these comments. I am old and I tire easily these days at the obvious blindness that so many have to the damned log jam in their eyes let alone the proverbial "beam". I am tired of arguing that America was the country-wise embodiment of God's greatest gift to man. That being freewill. The formation of this country was not so that "believers" of any faith can impose their religious laws, prohibitions or beliefs or prejudices on their fellow citizens. It was formed so that we may choose for ourselves the God or god that we serve.

    That so many of the above comments were so noble and loving though, does give me hope.

    Thank you John.

    • http://allegro63.blogspot.com/ Sylvie Galloway

      I currently have a Gore Vidal book on the formation of the Constitution and the people involved. It is buried under all the textbooks and papers somewhere in either my bedroom, my office or my bathroom. It is quite interesting reading, especially as it shows how much contention there was in the authorship and ratification of the "book of rules" our nation lives by. I think many would be surprised at what the debates were over, and why. They'd also be surprised how different the culture was compared to today. I doubt that many would want to actually live under the social status of the late 1700's.

  • http://allegro63.blogspot.com/ Sylvie Galloway

    You picked great comments. They give a different side and a beautiful side to this whole supposed argument about gays, about religion and about inter-relationships. There was no way I was able to read all the comments on that particular article, so I am delighted that you highlighted some of the better ones.

    • Gina Powers

      I'm with Sylvie, thanks much John! Going up on my FB page right now (my comma usage is correct, isn't it, btw?).

  • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

    Because I was not included in the write up, I demand that each and every comment of mine be deleted. I appreciate your fealty in this manner. THANK YOU.

    In all seriousness, I hope Mel is OK. I was reading her reactions, remembering just a few years ago I was reacting to the same kind of thing in almost the same exact ways. And one really doesn't *see* it until we just do. That she is willing to even enter in and talk about it does demonstrate a lot of courage.

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

    DR: Did you read a few comments up, where I actually talked about WHY you weren't included in these clips?

    Loser.

    Actually, Mel and a few others have carried their debate/discussion over to another post: see the "Latest Comments" widget on the side here to see why.

    You guys sure do have a lot of patience with her. Did you read Michael Rowe's extremo-dressing down of a young Christian over on my fan page? Yikes. Talk about jumping into a pool with the big fish. That's … how you get eaten alive.

    Anyway, I was pleased to clip and keep at least this little sample of what was a most impressive outpouring of heart and mind.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      Michael and I have decided that we will marry. Did you hear the news?

    • Mel

      You say they have a lot of patience with me as if I’m just stupid, and people shouldn’t bother talking to me. Just because my opinion differs from your own, that does not mean that you can’t talk to me about it. I’m actually speaking with Kara about it, and she is on the total opposite side as me, and yet, we can have a mature conversation about it. Crazy eh? Michael Rowe’s comment was ridiculous. He displayed the same kind of judgment that he says he hates. It’s not okay when people judge him, but it is okay when he judges others? That is not an intelligent comment, and I can’t believe you are recognizing it as such.

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

        Here's a suggestion for you, Mel. If you want to stay on my blog—if you'd like me not to block you from it, which I can do in two keystrokes—don't address your comments to me personally. Okay? No offense, but I don't like you. It's okay with me if you use my site to engage with others; in fact that's pleasing to me, and I haven't an objection to it in the world. I don't even mind–and I mean, not one bit—if you write ABOUT me, or about something I've written. No worries there at all; again, I welcome that. But don't make me have to directly deal with you; I don't even want to have to be bothered purposefully ignoring you, in the way I have to if you address me directly.

        We're good if you're okay with this. But I mean it. Don't even respond to this note right here. And don't refer to it in anything you write about me; you can comment on ANYTHING else I've written, but not this note. (I don't know if you realize it, but I read all the comments. You don't have to tell me about the conversation you and Kara are having on my blog; I'm aware of it.)

        Don't answer this comment; don't here refer to this comment; if you do either it'll be the last thing you ever write here. Otherwise (and I mean this, too), have all the fun you want here. Thanks a lot.

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

        Wow. You have the nerve to actually CALL OUT the OWNER of this blog who you have maligned and disrespected throughout the course of your presence here, and the scary thing is that you will simply challenge this with "Where did I do that? Show me, meanie!"

        Guess what, Mel? Here's a news flash. Your beliefs about gay people? They are directly responsible for the high suicide rate of gay teenagers who live in Christian homes. There is a substantial amount of data that you'd discover (though you've been too lazy to "check the Greek" or read anything that anyone has suggested you read so I doubt you'll do it.)

        If you refuse to listen, then God have mercy on you. I mean it. Kara is an absolute saint for dealing with you.

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

          Um. Okay, just to be clear: Mel: feel free to answer DR's comment. As I say, I could care less if you write ABOUT me; I'd simply ask that you don't write TO me. That's all. Thanks.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Oh I can't wait for Mel to tell me that her vote against gay marriage "has nothing to do with gay kids killing themselves! I love gay people, I have friends who are gay people! That I believe the people they love and want to spend their lives with is against the very nature of God – that I say so – has absolutely nothing to do with the Christian culture that causes a lot of Christian gay kids to get kicked out of their homes!"

            I can't wait to tell Mel about my time as a volunteer at a shelter (a christian one) for kids when I had to deal with dozens – literally dozens – of gay kids from Christian homes who'd been so shamed, confused and vilified by this mindset that Mel has adopted as her own, that they would sob in my arms asking, "Why did God make me this way. He can't ever love me. Why did he make me this way, I've known I was gay since I was 4 years old."

            So I'm looking forward to Mel's response. Because unlike Kara who can – if Mel chooses – provide her with an education that will change her life? I'm done being patient and kind. It doesn't work.

        • Susan

          DR ~ suicide rate of gay teens is serious. How someone can dismiss, ignore, not be moved to re-evaluate views after the tiniest bit of research into this tragic issue is…other-worldy, and in a bad way. Am pasting a post from my FB notes last week. Already posted here, nested somewhere. Forgive the repost, but if there is a chance it will provide illumination, or resources, I've no choice.

          CHOOSE LOVE

          I can’t imagine feeling that my life was an abomination to God, my parents, myself. The teen years are difficult enough to navigate. For homosexual teens? It's tragic. The rate of suicide far exceeds that of heterosexual teens.

          Statistics are easy to dismiss unless a face, a story, a life or a death is attached to them.

          Carl Walker Hoover, 11, hanged himself

          Jaheem Herrera, 11, hanged himself

          Justin Aaberg, 15, hanged himself

          Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself

          Bobby Griffith 20, jumped off an overpass into traffic

          Bobby Griffith was brought up by a loving, devoutly Christian family. His mother found out about his homosexuality through her other, straight son. Mary knew in no uncertain terms that homosexuality was “an abomination to God.” For years, she practiced “tough” love, trusted that God would heal Bobby of his sickness and had him engage in endless activities to revert him to what God would find acceptable – straight. Bobby was told that he had to repent or God would damn him to hell. Mary told her son, “You can’t love God and be gay.” After four years, he took his life.

          Shortly after his death, Mary found a journal Bobby had been keeping. It relayed his shame, his efforts at, and hope for, being cured of "this sickness", his desire to be pleasing to God, his utter self-hatred for being gay and the inner anguish that had become as familiar to him as blinking, or breathing.

          Mary committed herself to learning about homosexuality and where it all went wrong.

          She sought out secular books about homosexuality, reached out to others, like PFLAG, for insight, reread the Bible with fresh eyes…and found a very different God from the one she worshiped at her now, former church. Mary didn't lose her faith, rather, she discovered a new spiritual awareness. She concluded that there was nothing wrong with Bobby, that “he was the kind of person God wanted him to be…an equal, lovable valuable part of God’s creation.”

          Mary says now, “I helped instill false guilt in an innocent child’s conscience.”

          The story was published, then made into a movie, “Prayers for Bobby.” I highly recommend it.

          The adage “hate the sin, but love the sinner” doesn't seem to apply here. Same with the concept that homosexuality is merely a choice. IMO, the only undisputable choice is whether to love the person or to NOT love them.

          Love.

          http://www.pflag.org

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

            I used to work with a center for gay and lesbian underage homeless teens. All the kids had been kicked out of their homes onto the street for being gay. Almost all of them came from "Christian" homes. It was unbelievable.

          • Susan

            God bless you, John.

          • Susan

            Sorry to have gone a little post crazy here, JS. Well, kind of sorry. I'm just…hoping.

          • Susan

            OMG, DR, I want to say is THANK YOU… for wrapping your arms around those kids and this cause. Bless you.

      • Susan

        Mel,

        So glad that you've engaged in conversation with Kara.

        I've offered sites, resources, stats, info on teen suicide in the gay community. Have you gone to any of them? I've no idea b/c I don't believe you responded. It could be that they were nested and you didn't see them.

        Trust God to be bigger than your current belief system. You know that you have so much to learn.

        Seek out the uncomfortable. If you investigate an issue that espouses your theories, that's simply building a defense. Get out of the world you know and trust God to not let you be led astray, but directed to the Truth.

        http://www.pflag.org.

        Bobby Griffin – read his story. He committed suicide when he was about your age b/c he could no longer reconcile his consistent efforts/prayers to God to NOT be gay, yet gay he remained..

        When it comes to choice and homosexuality, the only person who has the option to choose, is the heterosexual. Love & Support/Reject & Deny. The choice is yours..

        • Mindy

          Can I just say I love you guys? Well, I do.

          Back to your regularly scheduled programming – - –

          • Karen

            I agree Mindy – You guys rock!

  • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

    DR: Did you read a few comments up, where I actually talked about WHY you weren’t included in these clips?>>>

    EXCUSES (and for those reading, John and I are absolutely kidding and having fun hurting one another with our words. Good times!)

    That thread is an example of why I keep coming back to all of this stuff in the first place. What a refuge of sanity found in so many of your readers and commenters.

  • Michael Rowe

    Oh my God, Mel is a WOMAN? Seriously? Empathy-free, compassion-free, kindness-free, love-free. I don't know why, but whenever I see such ugly, vicious, ignorant, bigoted homophobia from women, it's significantly more appalling than it is from men.

    • Ace

      Why? Is it acceptable for men to be ugly, vicious, ingorant, bigoted or homophobic?

    • Ace

      Or for that matter, is it UNacceptable for men to be empathetic, compassionate, kind or loving?

      Frankly I find your comment more than slightly appalling. :

  • Michael Rowe

    No, Ace, just more common.

    • Ace

      Doesn't make it right, or less unacceptable. :C

  • Michael Rowe

    Ace, you'll forgive me if I treat your opinion regarding whether or not my comment is "appalling" or not with all of the seriousness it warrants.

    • Ace

      Hypocritical double standards and sexist remarks are plenty seriousness. I suppose you don't agree but that's my opinion on the subject, sorry.

  • http://spiritualmeanderings.wordpress.com/ Sentinel

    Thanks for pulling out these highlights, John.

    It was a great sprawl of comments (in both the “high quality” and the “massive” senses of the word), and these excerpts really help me to reflect on some of the diverse views at play.

    Keep up the good work – you’re doing a great job.


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