Win Friends and Influence People by Condemning Others and Speaking for God

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One of the absolute best things you can do for another person is to tell them what’s wrong with them. People positively love it when they’re told—especially by someone they hardly know—what, who, and how they should be. And the greater the scope of things you criticize in another, the deeper that person will thrill to your input and criticism.

If you want to make someone really happy, for instance, find profound fault with their relationship to God! That’s a surefire friend-winner, every time. Because if a person is wrong about God, what’s left for them to be right about? Nothing! Why waste your time trying to win someone’s affection by criticizing things like their clothes or diet, when you can go for the gold? Criticize their understanding of God! That’s how you’ll make a ready friend for life.

As fantastic as it is, the reason people so enjoy being informed that their relationship with God (and so just everything else!) is all wrong isn’t just because it gives them a chance to correctly reject everything about themselves. It goes even deeper than that. It shows them how much you care about them. The strongest message of love you can send another, after all, is that they’re doomed to spend eternity having the living flesh seared off their bones if they don’t become just like you.  That’s why no one has more friends than the person who won’t rest until as many possible non-Christians—or wrong sort of Christians—have heard from them personally about what deluded, pitiful, morally bereft sinners they are.

When you take the time to let someone know how absurdly mistaken they are about everything from the nature of morality, to the purpose of man, to what happens after we die, what you’re certain to discover right away is how readily they grasp that you do, in fact, understand such things in a much deeper way than they. That’s why they’re sure to respond so positively to your critique of their character, belief system, and concept of God. When you show other people how positive you are that you’re right, they just can’t wait to start thinking like you. That’s the wonder of passion. It’s downright contagious!

There are those who believe that God is working in the life of every person, cultivating, in his own way and time, a relationship with them that he knows is perfect for them and him. Don’t you believe it! God is too busy worrying about things like weather and keeping the planets aligned to tend to the soul of every living human. He’s God, not … super God. He depends upon those who are closest to him to do those things that he just doesn’t have the time or energy to do himself. And one of those things is teaching others how wrong they are about him. And people—no matter how dense they might be about everything else in life—understand that. When you tell someone what they should believe about God, and why they’re wrong for believing whatever immature inanity about God they do, they understand that you’re not just speaking about God, but for God. And that’s why they’re guaranteed to love your message! Sure, everyone yearns to hear directly from God. But few are awarded that privilege! The rest are willing and ready to hear directly from the very next best thing to God: you.

From God; to you; to the confused, deluded, and sin-filled; back up to God again.

That’s the glorious circle of life!

Break it at your peril.

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. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • vj

    Ah, John, wonderful as always.

    Of course, absent a satire/sarcasm font, I predict a torrent of shock and horror coming your way from those unfamiliar with your work :-)

    Bring it on!

  • Kara

    This may well be my favorite thing you've ever written, John. This is wonderful.

  • http://nirakia.blogspot.com/ Karin

    Oh that was funny. Or it would be if it didn't point to those sad people who really do feel they speak for God. Great blog post, John!

  • http://Sisterfriends-together.org Anita

    This post has been soooo illuminating for me! Had I only known they all just wanted to be my friends! Wow….my Christmas card list is going to be so long this year.

    Away I go singing "May The Circle Be Unbroken…."

  • A'isha

    Wow, I wish I had known all this sooner! I have to get busy…lots of people to bash, er, talk to today. :)

    I'm going to sing with Anita now…"by and by Lord, by and by…"

  • Ace

    Oh golly gee, that's how I've been getting it wrong all these years! Damn, I could have been such the social butterfly in high school instead of the weirdo eating lunch by herself, if I had just known this wise advice! Boo-hoo, all those wasted years….

  • Tim

    Great post. I know God is personal and unique in the way He approaches every person. But I also believe that all believers need to be ready to offer a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason what and why believe in Christ…even if those beliefs be wrong or misguided. Sure there is going to be argument, criticism and infuriated exchange. Nevertheless, I see the hashing out of personal ideas about God, as iron sharpening iron. We gain a sharper edge when we are exposed to other people's ideas and even critiques about spiritual belief. So what…big whoop… the church is full of critical cockleburrs. They prick us. They irritate us. They make us soooo angry. But God uses them for good, believe it or not. Not that He's happy they're critical cockleburrs, but within that stirring of hearts, feelings and aggrivated defense of personal belief, lies the magic of divine revelation.

    • Soulmentor

      Now remove your rose colored glasses.

      • Tim

        OK, Soulmentor and you can put on your magnifying glasses. ; )

        I think we've communicated once before…but I don't recall…do you believe in God/Christ?

        • Soulmentor

          Yes, but no doubt my definitions of both would be very different from yours. Would that mean to you that I don't believe?

          • Tim

            You said yes, and I tend to take people at their words. However, it would seem that you consider my vision of God as being unrealistically too grand or optimistic. Hence, my comeback. Maybe you thought I was looking for a fight, but I was only trying to say that maybe God's impact in our world is only commensurate to our appraisal of His stature. If I believe God is puny, my perception of His abilities are diminished.

          • Soulmentor

            You make too many assumptions about my thoughts. Kinda forces me into making an assumption that you probably do it with others It's tedious to carry on a discussion with someone who does that because I have to spend too much time undoing your assumptions before I get at anything substantive. See, in the context of our discussion, I COULD make the assumption from your last sentence that you are suggesting that I think God is puny. I don't.

            It's tiresome. Not gonna do it. None of us really knows anything about God unless you choose to believe as I do that "God is love, and [he/she] who lives in Love lives in God and God in [him/her]" and that "Love is the only law you need" Believe as you wish and I will do the same and let that be an end to this.

          • Tim

            Ah for Christ's sake Soulmentor (literally)…all I have to go by was your clearly implied claim that I look at God/Christ/the world through rose colored glasses. That generally means I have an overly optimistic or unrealistic view of God/Christ/the world.

            You can accuse me of making assumptions. But my use of words like "seem" or "maybe" are more unassuming than your statement that I "make too many assumptions about your thoughts", and that I "probably do it to others". All I initially did was state what I believe in relation to John's post. You made the first assumption that I wore rose colored glasses. Maybe John thinks the same. After all, I did sort of disagree with the idea that God's revelation never requires any outside assists.

            Maybe you assumed that my reply to John was the same as telling John that he was wrong and I was right. And maybe in a subconscious round-about way I was. But if none of us ever dares to exchange thoughts about what we believe to be true, we fail to be honest with ourselves.

            Hope you didn't find this too tedious.

    • Mindy

      Tim, the key difference here is you being willing to define and defend your beliefs – WHEN ASKED. That's fine by me, one who believes differently from you. It's those who don't wait to be asked before doing all those things John so eloquently described who tend to get my heckles raised.

      • Tim

        Cold Calls for Christ aren't my thing. However if someone I'm talking with brings up the subject, I don't feel it's impolite to ask them what they believe regarding spiritual stuff. To me that's still being respectful as long as I stay sensitive to their body language. If I see the blinds shut, and the lights go off, I will cease and desist. It never pays to push.

        Cheers, Mindy

        • Diana A.

          I think your method sounds reasonable.

  • Argy-bargy

    Bloody brilliant, John.

    And the sad thing is, even assuming (a) certain particular class of readers recognize the sarcasm and (b) they are able to overcome their outrage at your profane sarcasm, (c) they will likely agree with you anyway that they do know better and will simply add you to the list of those who must be convinced of the errors of your ways…or pounded into hamburger. Whatever works best at mashing…er, saving your immortal soul.

    Snark on, my friend! We need more people like you.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

    If only Dale Carnegie had known this simply formula. How could he have been so obtuse?

  • Marti

    John 14:6

    • berkshire

      Hard to tell from this if you're agreeing or disagreeing with John's post.

      • Marti

        Disagreeing. There is one God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and there is only one way to Him. And if I'm wrong (which I'm not) what have I lost?

        • Argy-bargy

          Nothing, unless the actions of someone with the same certainty that person has judged others and treated them in a manner John outlines above. I'm not saying that all who have the same certainty you do have or necessarily will treat others that way, but if those persons have, then I question the certainty that can justify such actions. But that's just my opinion, and I do acknowledge that I might be wrong. :-)

          • Marti

            There's a term for that….bullhorn Christians. They stand on a busy intersection upon a milk crate and inform us all of our impending doom to be banished to Hell. Turn or burn!

            They do not represent me. I do however see God as love and that we are all loved. To quote an old song "we are all precious in his sight." haha.

            I do not support gay marriage, abortion, etc….. I also do not support gossip, murder, etc…. (before I get alot of replies re: my opinion please respect the fact that I am absolutely entitled to my opinion as much as you are even if it's not PC). I beleive we all fall short of God's expectations for us. I do not think in any way is anyone exempt. There was one perfect man and he gave his life to make intercession for ALL of us. I believe in Agape type love. I believe in loving the "unloveable". I believe God loves me the same as my neighbor even though I don't deserve it.

            I strive to be a lover of all men. I yearn for the heart of Christ.

          • DR

            Marti,

            With all due respect, some will counter your positions because we feel like under God? They are the wrong positions. To imply your positions are countered because of political correctness (PC) is rather dismissive of those who actually hold a different point of view and approach you from what we believe is God's will for his people. Sure, you might be in the minority here with some points of view and get challenged for those aggressively, but people are actually debating you on the merits of your positions. Not if they are politically correct or not, a term that doesn't really even mean anything in the Kingdom of God.

          • Soulmentor

            ********I do not support gay marriage, abortion, etc….. I also do not support gossip, murder, etc….*********

            I'm gay and deeply resent the company you, and too many other so-called "christians" like you place me in. Reading between your lines, I am assuming you are strongly disapproving of gays as well as gay marriage since it would be very unusual indeed to NOT find anti-gay attitudes along with anti-gay marriage attitudes. Conservative christians including gays in the same sentence with murderers, pedophiles and other criminal descriptions is a too typically common canard so patently false that it amounts to a blatantly deliberate lie. Such a fine "christian" behavior.

          • Derek

            Thank You Soulmentor. My Church, My God and My Jesus are inclusive, and for me, John's piece perfectly points out the ridiculousness of those who claim to represent God's opinion. It is extremely offensive to include gay marriage with murder and other criminal activity. I prefer to think of people who are inclined to think this way not as evil, but as "lost sheep" who will be welcomed back into the fold someday.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Your soul.

          Genesis 45:24

          • Diana A.

            That's too funny!

          • mimic

            That's what I love about the Bible. One line, quoted out of context, applied to any situation. Ta Da!

        • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

          I can only speak for myself. When I have been hounded, arrogantly spoken to, condemned and judged by Christians, I have found myself angry, upset, afraid, and in no way drawn to the God they describe.

          What drew me to Christ was the healing and overwhelming love wherein I understood ALL are accepted, all are loved, all are wanted.

          My experience tells me that loving others is the best way to reach them and that continually pointing out their faults and errors will only drive them away. In that context, I am certain that Christ would prefer me to be a light and not a hammer.

          • vj

            "I am certain that Christ would prefer me to be a light and not a hammer."

            Beautifully put! :-)

            "this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine"

            [kids' 'praise' song, for those who may not know it]

            NOT "I'm a hammer in God's toolbox, if you don't believe, He'll be cross"….

          • Karen

            Yay! I love that song. :-D

            I'm thinking about the smile I get when I try to be a light and the angry feel that comes over me when I try to be a hammer….which feels more Christ-like? I choose light.

          • Derek

            well said and Thank You.

          • Derek

            Barnmaven's light/hammer analogy, that is.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Genesis 44:34

      • Diana A.

        I almost get this. I think. Care to explain further, Matthew?

  • http://blueberrypancakesfordinner.wordpress.com blueberrypancakesfor

    well, praise the lord and pass the ammo! lets go folks and save the world! WOOT

    • Gina Powers

      Thanks again for making me LOL, Blueberry!

      And for the record:

      John said it.

      I believe it.

      That settles it. ;)

      • http://blueberrypancakesfordinner.wordpress.com blueberrypancakesfor

        * bows*

        i wanna put that on a shirt.

        John said it.

        I believe it.

        That settles it.

  • Jennie

    Ah John… you are such a good writer…

    Perhaps the goal is not to go around pointing out what's WRONG with what people believe, but to point them to the truth — as Matt posted above, Jesus did say, "I am the way the truth and the light." That narrows the field a bit. But His followers come in so many sizes and shapes and colors and traditions…And yes, so many believers go about it in so many ways that ignore the apostle Paul's advice that the even greater than faith and the hope it offers, is love — and "love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. "

    Tim is right — "as iron sharpening iron. We gain a sharper edge when we are exposed to other people’s ideas and even critiques about spiritual belief." So we can't be afraid of the debate and discussion. But we do need to check our motives against God's admonition to love above all.

    • Diana A.

      Yes indeed!

    • Jennie

      John's absolutely right (below) regarding references — sorry to be so lazy… the passage on love above is 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 and the phrase "iron sharpens iron" is Proverbs 27:17.

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

        No, Jennie, your comment was fine. I don't care if people quote the Bible, as you did, without referencing the passage, because then anyone has all they really need to understand your point, which are the words themselves. That's great! What I think is less than helpful is when people post NOTHING but the Biblical reference–when, in other words, they thereby essentially make the reader have to then go look up the passage they've referenced in order to understand what point they're making. That's lame.

        • Marti

          What if one person opens a Bible to look up said referenced verses and ends up reading others and learning something they didn't know. Remember asking your parents/teacher how to spell/the meaning of a word and they told you to "look it up." Same concept. What is "lame" is quoting the Bible without giving reference as to where in the book it can be found. Of course, just my opinion….

          • DR

            Wait! Talk about possibilities, how about this?

            What if I googled "Jerry Maguire" by mistake as I was attempting to look up "Jerry Garcia" and happened across the Youtube clip of the guy in that scene where the "John 3: 16" verse was displayed in the movie. I get saved as a result of looking up that passage? But after that, I got depressed by watching the whole "I'm here for my wife" living room scene, abandoning my newly found faith out of bitterness and hostility?

            Instead, perhaps what God meant to have happen was that I accidentally type in *Cherry* Garcia, knowing I would see that delicious ice cream, ponder on the power of organic cherries mixed with cream on a local farm, speculate about industrialized food and the impact of our carbon footprint as a result of all of these trucks carting food across country, wonder about the impact on Global warming and the polar ice caps, Google "penguin" because I don't know where the polar ice caps are I just know penguins live on them and then instead I find John's book that has "penguin" in the title, I wander to this site and I am saved as a result?

            God could never be that creative. We better keep all the verses in.

          • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

            @DR,

            Awesome – I love that scenario.

            When I was a young boy, I hunted pheasant out in the cold post-harvest corn fields of Iowa. I had this Irish Setter that had absolutely no nose for birds. But he would quarter a field like a machine, cutting back and forth, circling 'round, returning to me then heading back out again.

            But because he had "no nose", he would trip over the birds and flush them out for me. It was a constant struggle to balance being startled and swinging a shotgun up in time to hit a bird.

            That metaphor has stuck with me ever since. I honestly think that what you described is how life goes so much of the time. We trip over the birds so often. The trick is knowing which ones are important to us and following them. I think that's intuitive and spiritual.

          • Soulmentor

            Whew!! One thing leads to another, huh? Well, life can actually be like that but your progression really is a bit ….well, Glenn Beckian. You must have used a blackboard prompter.

            Fun read but I’m thinking being in a conversation with you might be exhausting. =;-)

          • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

            I could be mistaken, Marti, but I don't think Jesus ever referenced the book/scroll he was quoting from.

          • ManimalX

            Ric:

            Jesus incessantly quoted the Old Testament, sometimes referencing the prophet or book or scroll, sometimes not. The phrase to look for is, "it is written," or variants.

            Here are the results for "it is written" in the NIV:

            http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=%22it+is

            So… sometimes Jesus referenced His source, sometimes He didn't. I have personally found the best method to be including quote+chapter+verse, though once in a while I'll just use that phrase, "it is written." The desired end is to let my audience know that I am aping God's word and not making it up on my own.

            I don't find either method "lame" by any means. If all truth is God's truth, then sharing God's word without chapter/verse reference is just fine, though it may help clarify a point if chapter/verse is shared. * shrug *

          • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

            Thanks for clarifying, ManimalX, and for helping to make the point.

          • Dee Robertson

            All smiles for you, Ric, as you make your point!

    • Jeanine

      John 14:23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 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

      • Kara

        I fully and in all seriousness believe that Jesus taught socialism, his own inequality with God, and that we should ignore religious laws if they conflict in principle with God's love (he did that al lot, himself). I firmly believe Jesus would support same-sex marriage, abortion, and the separation of church and state.

        So… I'm following Jesus' teachings! Hell yeah! (Or is that not what you meant?)

        All I'm trying to say is that what "obeying Jesus' teachings" means varies greatly among true Christians. I disagree with your interpretation of his teachings, but I don't think your Christianity/Christian walk is invalid or whatever.

        All I'm asking is the same in return.

        • Diana A.

          "I fully and in all seriousness believe that Jesus taught…that we should ignore religious laws if they conflict in principle with God’s love (he did that a lot, himself)." I very much agree with this. I may or may not agree with the other things you said, but I very much agree with this.

          • Kara

            Thanks!

            (BTW, though I do believe all these things, I am stating them in an intentionally

            inflammatory form.)

          • Diana A.

            Understood! And you're welcome!

          • Tim

            The problem I see, is that many people (myself included) consider Christ's teaching as religious law and vice versa. Jesus said the greatest commandments fulfill all the law and the prophets. Seems that Jesus didn't ignore the law. If the law,was an expression of God's love to Jesus, by what standard could I discern which parts of that law are OK to ignore?

            If you look at the life of Christ closely in the gospels, you will see He didn't ignore religious law. He ignored and rebuked religious hypocrites. Big difference.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            If you don’t want to eat pork, Tim, you could just come out and say so. ;)

            (And I can understand why you’re sick of all these roofs being recklessly built without fences around them these days.)

          • Tim

            Wow, Matthew. OK OK…I see. But I DOOOO love to eat pork. As for my shoddy compliance with the HBC (Hebrew Building Code) while what goes into me may not defile me, my illegally constructed crapper may be the death of me if I end up falling into what came out of me. Oy gevalt!

      • DR

        This verse so beautifully illustrates John's post Jeanine. Thanks for posting!

    • Tim

      Yeah, Jennie. I meant to add that to my reply, but got distracted. When I came back to the reply, I had lost my train of thought.

  • Argy-bargy

    And…not to derail the discussion, but John's post does beg the question in my mind. Perhaps the more theologically educated can help me. Can't Jesus' statement also mean that Jesus' entire life represented a new way, a way of unconditional love for one another, up to and including giving your life for one another. Could he really have meant by this that the only way to the Father is to love one another, as he commanded his disciples to love one another as he loved them? Rather than merely a seeming warning that Jesus will be the one who admits the elect to the Father's presence?

    • http://www.bunnykirby.com Bunny Kirby

      Amen to Argy-bargy! "They will know us by our love…" ….not our words, pounding into them. I certainly don't appreciate anyone trying to "convince' me of their opinion of anything, although I don't mind discussion. I absolutely agree with your statement that the only way to the Father is to love one another. Thanks for your perspective. And, John, I love the way you think and the way you share. Thanks to you also!

      • Diana A.

        I agree with both of you.

      • Mindy

        I'm with Diana – great points. If Jesus was, in fact, the actual "son" of God, then this would be the message I truly believe his life represents. And if he was not God's son, but a beautiful prophet, I still believe that would be the message his life represents.

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

      Here's a little something I once wrote on this dynamic: Jesus the Decider: Do Only Christians Get Into Heaven?

      Thanks for great comments, all. (Hey, one thing: If you care enough about the Gospel or the Bible to want to use passages from it to make the entirety of your point, it'd be nice if along with its Biblical reference coordinates you also included the actual text of the passage. If all you do is post "John 14:6," or whatever, you just look dismissive, lazy, and arrogant. Which I'm certain you're not.)

      • Matthew Tweedell

        (Actually, we are.)

        • Argy-bargy

          I'm lazy enough that I almost didn't post this.

      • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

        "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "Deut 6:5."

        –Matthew 22:36-37, New Internet Translation.

        • ManimalX

          LOL @ Ric

          That was great!

        • Dee Robertson

          No fair, Ric. I almost snorted coffee out of my nose.

    • Tim

      I know I'll get some push-back, but the way I read John 14:6 is literally. Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." If having unconditional love for one another was enough, I would think Jesus would've said something to that effect of, "no one comes to the Father unless they love people like I love people."

      Skip ahead to John 15:5—

      "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."

      Just putting those two verses in context to one another, I can't see how a person could even begin to love everyone unconditionally. Unless they remain in Christ and Christ remains in them, they cannot bear fruit. Period. We can obviously offer our best efforts to love unconditionally, but those efforts are corrupted by failure. To forfeit Christ is to forfeit His righteous robes of perfection that cover our failure. All our efforts apart from Him are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Tough words, but the adversary of God wants us to follow ANYTHING but Jesus. Even as a Christian my flesh is prone to that adversary. No surprise that it often feels so incorrect and contrary. No surprise that we prefer to be the captains of our own spiritual destinies.

      • Argy-bargy

        I don't want to misinterpret what you're saying, but are you saying that no one can love unconditionally unless they are Christians (meaning accepting Christ as Lord and Savior)?

        Are you saying that if we can't possibly love everyone unconditionally and because we can't love everyone unconditionally, therefore we can't assume that Jesus meant in John 14:6 that you must love unconditionally in order to get to the Father?

        • Tim

          Y’know, I’d like to think that I can love my two kids unconditionally, at least. But honestly…I don’t. I may come really freekin’ close, but even the people I love the absolute most in this world, I fail to love perfectly without condition. And even WITH Christ in me, I can’t imagine that I will always love them completely without condition to be completely honest. Will I ever be able to love EVERYONE without condition? Not unless God suddenly gives me that capacity by miraculous anointing. If I can’t even love my own flesh and blood without my own flesh and blood corrupting that love, what chance do I have with the neighbor who lets their dog crap in my yard every morning and pretend that they didn’t notice it?

          I believe living in Christ will put me as close to that ideal as I’m ever going to get in this life. Do I ALWAYS live in Christ. No. I indulge my stinking flesh all too often. It may feel right at the time, but later I feel bad about it. I get convicted in my spirit. So if I hurt anyone by those indulgences, I do my best to make reparations. But I don’t believe I get to the Father because of what I do. I get there because of what Jesus did/does. As a person in Christ, I am covered. I’m still a stupid-ass sinner. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” —Romans 7:24 &25

          Argy-bargy, I was in a punk mood when I previously replied. Sorry if I came on too strong or arrogant. I appreciate all of the people who frequent John’s blog. There is so much grace here, I wouldn’t want to wear out my welcome.

    • Soulmentor

      Finally I see someone else thinking what I’ve thot for many years; that Jesus didn’t mean the he himself was THE WAY, but that his illustrations about the right ways to live and relate to others is THE WAY. I suspect Jesus would be dismayed at the worshipful distortions of him personally to the extent that he has become worshiped more than his teachings. In the minds of many Christians, Jesus is God and I think he would be very exasperated and disappointed by that.

      Alas, the folly of reading the current Bible as if his words are exactly as he said them nearly 2000 years, several languages and uncountable (and unknown) interpretations ago.

      • Diana A.

        In a way, I think it's both. That is, I think Jesus himself is the way but that following the way means obedience to Jesus's teachings. I also believe that there's no way anyone can follow Jesus without the help of the Holy Spirit. And, I do believe Jesus is God.

        The problem comes when we try to force other people to profess a belief in Jesus that is exactly like our own. If a person is going to come to believe in Jesus, they're going to do so based on the influence of the Holy Spirit, not because some Christian is standing there screaming at them about Hell. Only love can change hearts–not threats.

  • Ray

    Ah, reminds me of the days when I was a Jehovah's Witness. Every neighborhood just welcomed me with open arms absolutely yearning for a correction to their inane beliefs, a real road to the Truth!

    Yeah, right.

    • Don Whitt

      A couple weekends ago, while heading into the Big Valley, I pulled over to get some gas in Tracy and a guy pulled up to the pump behind me as if he were going to fill-up. He got out of his car and approached me with a Watchtower in hand. I gave him my friendliest thanks, but no thanks look and phrase and he got back into his car and drove off. He was using gas stations as fly paper for new converts.

      On one hand, I thought that was sort of clever – easy access to people who can't really leave very easily for 2 or 3 minutes while they gas-up. But I also felt it was sort of predatory and creepy.

      But I get a little of that feeling when people attribute direct quotes to Jesus, too. The bibles we have today are all umpteenth degrees removed from what happened 2000 years ago. And some of the folks who wrote were far removed from Christ's life and undoubtedly were just like that Jehovah's witness – willing to change the game (and text) to get what they thought was the "right" outcome – to recruit new Christians, validate existing ones and save souls. To dress things up a bit.

      In other words, I have an issue taking the Gospel as, well, gospel. And I find John's piece and irony an apt comment on that. So many people walk around speaking as if they have a level of precision re. Jesus, God and scripture that they really don't. At some point, I think we all need to accept the ambiguity and mystery and construct a faith that we believe in, but realize is imprecise. That shouldn't shake faith, really. That's why they call it faith, not fact.

      • Soulmentor

        ******The bibles we have today are all umpteenth degrees removed from what happened 2000 years ago.*******

        So true, Don. It's a rare "Christian" today who has any clue about the origins of his/her "beliefs" or the development of the particular Bible (among hundreds of variably interpreted Bibles) they believe is God's unerring Word as if it was written within a generation of Jesus' time on earth as they see it today. What they are so ignorant of is the historical reality that the christian story was told primarily by word of mouth among the early christians until scribes, who were the only persons who could read and write, began to write the stories. Even then, they wrote in a style from bottom right to top left without punctuation, paragraphs, sentence structure, etc and those that followed then had to wade through that and figure out where to place all those writing characteristics. It is impossible to imagine all that happening without mistakes and scribes personal interpretive input, and all that before theologians got hold of it and lent their own "wise" truthes to what we now read today.

        One amusingly ironic example is the much loved King James Bible. King James was what we today would recognize as a flaming queen so outrageous at times that his advisers had to suggest to him to tone it down lest he alienate his subjects. It's simply irrational to think that his personal style did not influence his ultimate approval of a work he commissioned.

        Your reply, Don is one of the most precise and eloquent I have seen on the subject you bring to our attention. Your concise style gives John some serious competition!!

        • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

          @Soulmentor: That's one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me – thank you. To be compared to John Shore is pretty diggity-dang cool.

  • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

    This is a clever and profound post, as most of yours are, John. But here's the thing: Having read a lot of your pieces now – and noted the way you speak to those who disagree with your take on things – I almost sense that you're setting up a kind of judgmental, "right kind of Christian" standard of your own. You told me, just the other day, that as a Christian, you feel it's your duty to "renounce and revile" people like Glenn Beck. Fair enough. I don't necessarily agree, but you made a valid argument, and I respect that. But then, a couple days later, one of your readers (whom you lovingly refer to as "Church Lady") questioned your nonchalant attitude toward sexuality – as reflected in your post about losing your virginity to your teacher – and you pretty much shamed her… told her she was "judging" you and that she should apologize. You even posted her comment on FB, where people proceeded to make fun of her. Some Christians still believe – and not without reason – that sexual restraint and purity are a part of our faith. You can certainly disagree; I have no quibble there. What bothers me is that certain "judgments" seem to be a-okay in your book, and well worth discussing kindly on the blog, while others get us scolded and mocked and branded "the wrong kind of Christian." Can you shed some light on this discrepancy? I ask in all sincerity.

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

      Margaret: I understand what you're asking, and it's a good question. Where you're (to be blunt: sorry) mistaken, though is that the "Church Lady" did not, as you says she did, question my "nonchalant attitude toward sexuality." I wouldn't have minded if she did that; that's no great offense. But she went a great deal further than that.

      Here, I'll share with you here what I wrote to her over on the comments section of the post in which this began:

      Jeanine: You wrote, “It saddens me that he thinks God’s grace came so cheaply; that we can look at our sin and continue to love it after ’30 some years’ of walking with the Lord.” ? That’s you judging the moral status of another; that’s you declaring how someone else (someone you don’t even know) understands God’s grace generally and in their lives specifically. That’s something you need to apologize for doing.

      I trust/hope you see the difference, Margaret, between questioning my attitude toward sexuality based on a reading of one post, and daring to proclaim condemnatory knowledge of my entire conception, experience, and understanding of God. Those two offenses aren't even in the same ball park.

      And, for the record, you'd be very hard-pressed, I know, to actually find an instance whereby I've evinced the quality to which you so readily and summarily ascribed me, which is of a nonchalant attitude toward sexuality. Trust me: I take sex and human sexuality at least as seriously as you or anyone else does.

      • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

        Okay, I hear you, John. But I still don't think Jeanine's statement about "loving the sin after 30 years" was such a huge big deal… Was she judging your moral status with respect to that particular incident? Well, yes, I suppose so, but only based on your own admission that the experience was "all good" for you – that you had no remorse then, and, in fact, still take delight in the memory. Is it really true that Jeanine "doesn't know you?" Sure, she knows only what you give us on this blog, but that's a lot. She knows how you felt about this experience based on your own honest words. Did she really "dare to proclaim condemnatory knowledge of your entire conception, experience and understanding of God"? I think that's a big exaggeration.

        I disagree with some of the assumptions you made about Glenn Beck, especially regarding his intentions and sincerity. I'm not a fan of his, but he strikes me as a true believer in God (as he understands God) and extremely sincere in his convictions. As far as I know, you don't actually KNOW Glenn Beck any better than Jeanine knows you, and yet you felt so sure your "take" on him was correct that you published it in no uncertain terms. I just reread that piece, and I'm pretty sure you were judging Glenn Beck's moral standing, and possibly even his understanding of God. My point here is not to praise Glenn Beck, or criticize you for criticizing him. I'm only trying to point out that we ALL want people to agree with OUR take on God (and morality, etc). That's just the way people are. You try to persuade us to see things your way every day on this blog. (You're quite successful, for the most part!) And often times, those "things" are God-related. You may not "evangelize," per se… but is there really such a big difference between what you do and what Jeanine does… or even Glenn Beck? I mean, aside from the fact that you're right and they're wrong :-)

        Anyway, thank you for allowing me to address this issue. We probably won't agree, but I appreciate being able to unpack some thoughts that had been bothering me a bit. Am still a huge fan of yours.

        • DR

          Margaret, as one who has had the authenticity of my salvation (as a Catholic) questioned endlessly by evangelicals, I can assure you – it's a big deal. Have you ever had that experience repeatedly? Where someone experiences a thin slice of your life and then summarily casts your years of walking with the Lord and how you treat his Grace that he's given? It's a really big deal and I suppose as an observer, you can certainly judge if it should be or not but until you've walked in those shoes for a while, I'd be really careful in offering what you think someone's reactions should be to that kind of thing.

          • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

            DR, I'm sorry you've had that experience. I have a deep and abiding respect for the Catholic faith. And no, as a mainline Protestant, I haven't had that happen to me. We "frozen chosen" don't talk about such touchy subjects. (We just make casseroles.) I think you have all completely missed my point – that we all "judge" all the time – but I understand I've hit a nerve, and don't wish to continue doing so. I appreciate your comment.

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

            I love me a good casserole!

            (I'll go reread, I don't want to miss your point. You clearly work hard to make it well, if I missed it it's because I'm seeing my own story in it. Not your deal!)

        • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

          Margaret, I would like to add that I feel your analogy, however well stated, breaks down. Jeanine is to John Shore as John Shore is to Glenn Beck is not parallel.

          Glenn Beck begs for this kind of attention. (Which is, no doubt, why John attempted to ignore the whole screwing with MLK's legacy thing.) I think Glenn Beck's career is actually dependent upon negative attention. He gets paid for ratings, controversy, hype, etc. I think he's just a recent example here on John's blog, so it's easier to pick up that example and try to draw some parallels.

          To be fair and balanced (I couldn't resist), I think we should have to find a case where John Shore has disparaged a Christian leader's faith in that Christian leader's front lawn. Or his or her blog. If something like this can be found, your point would carry more weight.

          • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

            Rick, I appreciate your opinion. I just don't see Beck the way you do. Though he certainly gets them, I don't think he does what he does for the ratings or the negative attention. I think he's a true believer in God and sincerely thinks he's doing good. Of course, that's just a "judgment" call. I make 'em all the time. We all do. That was kind of my point.

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

            I love the quote by Shakespeare that "Love adds a precious seeing to the eye." That those we respect and care for have a particular grace from us that those don't, our love filter magnifies their actual good and potential good.

            I think we all have those filers and we're all quite fortunate someone sees us through them. Even Glenn Beck! Only God knows the true status of his state of Grace.

          • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

            DR, that's an absolutely beautiful quote from Shakespeare, and perfectly apropos to the point I think I've been trying to make, however clumsily. Though with a twist. The thing is, I don't particularly "like" Glenn Beck. But I love him. I see something good in him and wish him well. Ever since my conversion – almost four years ago, now – I seem to have a "precious seeing" I didn't have before. I am no longer capable of the mockery and scorn that were once – I'm ashamed to say – a daily source of pleasure for me! I honestly feel like God injected some wild, supernatural "love" into my heart – a love I was completely incapable of mustering up by myself. And yes, I guess it compels me to defend "even Glenn Beck"…

          • DR

            This seems to be the place where we all need to strive to get here. What a refreshing presence you are, thank you for this comment. It's beautiful.

          • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

            Yeah, we need a Like button for comments like this one, Margaret. Thanks for making posting it.

          • DR

            Part of me is beginning to practice a bit more Stillness when it comes to dialogue. I wonder what is *really* happening in all of the noise and the bickering? What is the evil one accomplishing as we all try to prove to one another what righteousness is and is not?

            Someone I used to know well used to tell me to pay attention to the types of conversation you are having and you are NOT having. That’s more telling than what’s actually being said.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            DR, you have a very clever past acquaintance.

          • Kati

            Margaret – I agree with DR, you said that beautifully. That's what I was trying to say with my "Sarah Palin is a beloved child of God" comment (to one of John's Facebook posts a couple of weeks ago), which was not particularly well received. You said it so much better!

          • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

            Actually, I was simply commenting on Beck's job/platform, not his faith. I haven't posted anything about how I feel about Glenn Beck. I don't know where he is with God, but I am familiar with the job function. He is getting paid to perform a function for the Fox News channel.

          • http://www.lcweekly.com Margaret Evans

            DR, I can’t take ANY credit for being in “that place,” if I am. As I said, it feels like a pure gift, and is completely unlike the “natural” me! Plus, I now have to struggle with the unfortunate tendency to scold others who still traffic in mockery and scorn… In other words, I still have MAJOR pride issues! But thanks for the kind thoughts. You’re a very refreshing presence yourself :-)

          • DR

            We get to be all sorts of things at one moment in time. I believe that more than I believe most things.

        • Susan

          @Margaret

          @Jeanine

          Margaret, I feel the need to jump in here because someone remarked that Jeanine’s participation on this site appeared to be an attempt to “save” non-Christians from John’s influence as well as the influence of others with views that differ from hers. As such, I’d like to offer these comments, and I do so without intent to disrespect you or your opinion.

          You voiced your misgivings about John’s “virginity” post, too. But, can you see the difference in the tone and succinctness of your comment versus Jeanine’s comment, and those that ensued? She adamantly declared that she would never apologize. This attitude, the digging in of heels, the “I’m RIGHT and if you disagree you’re WRONG” mentality has been her modus operandi.

          If she were only trying to echo your sentiment, why then, when John clearly expressed how she had offended him, “It’s not okay for you to criticize my entire concept of God and his grace” – wouldn’t she simply clarify instead of ultimately posting:

          “You can jump to whatever conclusions you want about why I said it”

          “It” – her initial post, to me, was rather self-righteous – “No. I’m an adulterer, so I have no room to talk. I didn’t post though, because it saddens me that he thinks God’s grace came so cheaply…yada, yada, and yada”. She has no room to talk and wasn’t going to post…BUT SHE DID. And then, Jeanine went on to say that anyone who mocked her “the repentant one” who is “being made righteous in heart AND deed” is mocking Christ.

          This is John Shore’s Blog. He’s not easily offended and puts up with a lot. People have gone postal for less.

          A person with character, in my opinion, would explain the point he/she was trying to convey, or send an email or move towards a civil attitude and perhaps seek a dialogue. Jeanine, true to form, automatically assumes a defensive posture, loads her Bible gun with scripture and shoots to kill. Then, she asserts illogical and unrelated claims to deflect the issue at hand, to discredit John (in this instance) and to BE right.

          I’d have addressed this to Jeanine, but whenever I have apologized to her or asked for clarification, she has 1) not acknowledged me or 2) tossed meaningless phrases at me. While Jeanine has been the object of rancor at times, she has also been shown kindnesses. I’ve yet to see her respond likewise. In fact, I’ve yet to see her initiate civil discourse.

          So, I don’t know, Margaret, if the reason I’m writing this makes sense. John can defend himself. That’s not what this is about. Jeanine, in my opinion, needs to learn humility, like all of us and she needs to grow up. If her motive is to turn people away from John or his blog, or if she is trying to discourage questions about faith – well, I feel compelled to say loud and clear that he (and this blog) has helped restore in me and at least one other person, a desire to pursue a better relationship with Christ. Despite her.

          Thanks, Margaret.

          • vj

            "I feel compelled to say loud and clear that he (and this blog) has helped restore in me and at least one other person, a desire to pursue a better relationship with Christ"

            And me too! So that's *at least* 3 – yay!

            Wonder how many people can say the same about Jeanine? (Is that mean? It's not meant to be. I think Jeanine heart is in the right place, just her methods are a bit alienating.)

          • vj

            …Jeanine's heart…

            duh!

          • Jeanine

            Sure, why wouldn't somebody want to be a Christian when you can swear, and fornicate and commit adultery and just 'be human' without offense to God or eternal consequence? Naturally people will flock to that standard – you mean I can continue in my sin and still go to Heaven? I don't have to be sorry, make restitution or change at all? I don't have to wrestle with hard theological questions, I can just believe what makes me feel good? Perfect, sign me up, I am all over that bandwagon! Jesus is so loving; awe nice, nice Jesus. :)

            In Matthew 11:11 Jesus says, " I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

            Who was John the Baptist and what was his message?

            We can see him in Matthew 3:

            1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." …. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance….. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

            What is the 'good fruit' in this passage? Is it love? No, it is repentance.

            You see, the message of the gospel is that Holy God made the way so that a repentant sinner could be restored to a right relationship with Him.

            And by the way, the message of repentance has never been very popular with the mainstream public which is probably why most of the prophets and apostles were murdered.

            Or do you think that the people killed them because they were so loving and accepting of everyone and their own beliefs?

            But even more humbling is that even when you repent of your sins, you cannot even be proud of yourself for doing that and making that good decision. What happened with me is that while I was in my sins, God gave me a spiritual glimpse of Himself – Holy, He is Holy!

            If he had not shown me that glimpse of His Holiness, I would probably never have repented at all. God is doing a great work; leading people to repentance. His great love for people is what drives Him to show them who they really are without him.

          • Diana A.

            Do you even hear yourself, Jeanine? You're so quick to jump on other people and their sins. What about your own? I'm not talking about you having been an adulterer–clearly that's an easy admission for you to make, since you've now "repented" and are no longer committing that particular sin. Congratulations. It's hard to walk away from any sin.

            And now that you are morally perfect and above all judgment yourself, you stand on your pedestal looking down at all us "unrepentant" sinners who have not attained your level of perfection (bought with the blood of Jesus, of course) and believe that you have the right to judge us because we are clearly "unrepentant." Well, what if you're wrong? What if you're not really all that perfect? What if God is a lot less concerned about your adultery (from which you've apparently turned) than he is about your need to judge and put down others (Christian and Non) who are so much less enlightened than you are? What if God is disgusted by your own self-pride, pride in having made the "right" decision about Jesus, pride in being the "right" kind of Christian?

            See, I don't have the right to judge you either. But I'm human and I do judge–just like you. And I see you coming onto this blog with your sanctimonious, know-it-all attitude, and I want to scream. Because what you're doing isn't loving at all. No, you're just being the kind of Christian everyone loves to hate, not because you're so much more righteous or so much more saved than anybody else but because you're so much more full of yourself and your "righteousness" that you don't even see your own bad attitude as being a sin.

          • Jeanine

            You are exactly right Diana A! That is exactly what I am saying! God is concerned about ALL of our sin, from the big stuff right down to the little white lie. He hates it all! He hates my pride, he hates my adultery, he hates your lukewarmness, he hates John's fornication, he hates people's unbelief, he hates our relativism, he hates our sin!

            We are all miserably seperated from him except for the atoning blood of Jesus Christ!

            When people say that God is Love; they act as if that is all that he is. God is also UNAPPROACHABLE LIGHT – HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS.

            You cannot 'love' a sinner by ignoring their sin, because that is the thing about them that God hates. You love a sinner, by doing what Christ did and still does today through His Holy Spirit; you point out the sin that keeps them seperated from God.

            Jesus spoke with the woman at the well. He knew that she had many husbands and that she was an adulterer. Did he love on her, serve her, compliment her, respect her beliefs and send her away? No, he loved on her by pointing out the sin in her life that was offensive to God. Did she go away mad? No she went away rejoicing and sharing the news.

            I am grateful when someone calls me out on something like you did the other day regarding praying in public. I don't hate you for it and become disgusted with your self-righteousness in pointing it out. Neither am I angry that you have pointed out my pride – God has been working on me with that for some time now.

            God is a Great God and greatly to be Praised. The fact that he has promised, through his son Jesus Christ, that the day will come when I no longer sin – and when those around me will no longer sin. That is a promise beyond imagination! Think of it! All of His children living and acting and speaking and loving and writing and playing and singing with absolute purity and perfection. I wish I could be that person right now.

            He has made the way through His Son for that promise to ours; if Jesus has offered that possibility of repentance, I for one am taking it.

          • DR

            Jeanine, you have the courage of your convictions. I respect that a lot.

          • Cat

            OK Jeanine, I'm going to try to address your last post:

            You cannot know what repentance anyone else has; you only know your own, so to ascribe an unrepentant heart to John based on one blog post is unfair. We know that God hates sin and we know that we are, all of us, at different levels of knowing God. To think that you have all the answers is ridiculous. For you to think that you know anyone else's heart toward God is insulting.

            You CAN love a sinner by ignoring their sin; it's not up to us to convict, that is the "job", if you will, of the Holy Spirit. And that conviction comes only to a person who has, or is ready to, accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. You are talking about pointing out sin to people who are "unsaved" and that is written nowhere in MY bibles (NKJV and ESV). Paul's letters were written to churches, where the people had already heard and accepted the good news. Jesus loved people first, then encouraged them to "sin no more" after they accepted who he is; a mighty fine example for us today.

            You can quote all the scripture you want, but if you don't take it in context to whom it was said or written, then your arguments fall short.

            This is all anyone here has been trying to say to you.

            @John: Thank you for this blog. I lurk here quite often and don't comment much, but I wanted you to know that your writing has encouraged me.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Jeanine

            There are six things the LORD hates,

            seven that are detestable to him:

            haughty eyes,

            a lying tongue,

            hands that shed innocent blood,

            a heart that devises wicked schemes,

            feet that are quick to rush into evil,

            a false witness who pours out lies

            and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

            (Proverbs 6:16-19)

            Every instance where the Lord hates anything, it is because it involves one (or more) of these. Assuming "man" refers actually to a person in general, I don't mean to pass judgment, Jeanine, but perhaps you might consider checking your own eye for planks.

            The petty human attitude we typically understand as hate arises out of insecurities. In what way is our omnipotent Lord insecure?

            That sort of thing is antithetical to love: As God is love, He (who also is truth) cannot but *have* love, for whatsoever is real, whatsoever is true.

          • DR

            I wasn't aware that being saved by Jesus was so behavior-based! I need some kind of manual. ;)

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Beautifully expressed, Susan.

          • Susan

            Thank you, tildeb.

        • Soulmentor

          RE: Glenn Beck and anyone knowing what to think of him. "By their fruits ye shall know them."

          So what are the fruits of Glenn Beck's influence on our society? Are they Love and Compassion and coming together, anything at all like Jesus example; or are they incitements to racism, divisiveness and us-against-them attitudes couched in hypocritical religiosity and false "patriotism"

          ….and crocodile tears…..as he later laughs all the way to the bank?

    • Kara

      Per Oliver Wendell Holmes, your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins. People can believe whatever they want, including that John is a bad Christian and that I'm going to, as John put it, "spend eternity having the living flesh seared off my bones" because I'm gay.

      But when the expression of those beliefs is used to demean or hurt people, that certainly becomes something John is free to regulate or discourage on his blog. "Don't be an asshole" isn't silencing, it's respect. "If you don't think just like me you're not a good/real/okay Christian" isn't respectful.

      Basically, sure, you have freedom of speech and belief. But if what you believe is harmful to others, simply because they disagree? We're allowed to be against that harm. (Be it physical, emotional, spiritual…)

      Disclaimer: All instances of "you" in this post are the generic, plural "you," not any specific poster.

    • DR

      Margaret, it wasn't Jeanine's comments on John's sexuality that was the issue. It was that she questioned his actual *salvation* and his experience of Grace. She's done it before and will clearly keep doing it, her motives for doing so are largely her own. This is such a huge deal and so expressly forbidden in Scripture to do, I was glad that John asked for an apology. He probably won't get one, but that was the actual context.

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

        Thanks DR. I thought I'd explained it pretty well to both Margaret and Jeanine, but neither of them seemed to have heard what I tried to communicate (which is my fault, I'm sure). So I appreciate you giving it a go. Thanks.

        • DR

          Well, this is personal for me so I suppose I'm defending myself as well as you. Emotional maturity isn't my strong suit – I'm sure others with a thicker skin would react to something like that with a bit more grace than I do. But there's a moment when the milk sours it remains really difficult to stay quiet and calm about this kind of thing that just seems so obviously wrong.

  • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda Justice

    This was a thing of beauteous snark. And I wholeheartedly concur.

  • Ian

    Oops, I broke it

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

    I imagine most all of you have seen this before, but in case: "What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear."

    • Gina Powers

      John: I bet most of us have indeed read that aforementioned post, but am glad you brought it up again. And as for this: "…. the reason people so enjoy being informed that their relationship with God (and so just everything else!) is all wrong isn’t just because it gives them a chance to correctly reject everything about themselves. It goes even deeper than that. It shows them how much you care about them. "–Unfortunately, I can verify from personal experience that these creatures do indeed exist, and actually BELIEVE this. Now granted–I was hapless enough to have befriended one who was EXTREMELY controlling and had other psychological issues, but she totally had that mindset! It was incredible!! Um….incredibly awful, that is……great job again, and I'll be reposting to FB.

  • Soulmentor

    Brilliant, John, as usual but more so, truly God’s hammer hitting nails. I sent your site address to my evangelical type sister and hope she is reading your blog now and sees this. Not that she is the type you write about in this piece, but her language is loaded with “the Lord this” and “the Lord that” and she belongs to the kind of church that I suspect would be liberally (?!) sprinkled with such friend makers. So far as I can perceive, almost her entire social life revolves around her church people so she’s somewhat insulated. I’m sure she’s perplexed and vexed by the notable exception to that, me, her gay brother who injects himself into her safe world like a computer virus she is commanded to love anyway….so she does, God bless her.

    So I’m gonna inject again and make sure she sees this. Not that she’s like the subjects of this piece, but because if would make for a great discussion among her church discussion groups…..if she presents it. Hope you’re seeing this sis. I love you too.

    • Derek

      Soulmentor, Thank you again, and I think you are doing great things for your sister. As a gay Christian with some fundamentalist Baptist relatives I can relate a little bit. My cousins have made a point of including my partner and I in all family events, and have made him feel welcome. They suppress whatever urges they may or may not have to preach to us, and when we got married in a Christian church ceremony (Canadian) last year, they sent us congratulations, but did not come to the wedding (we are a 10 hour drive away which arguably may have had something to do with that). It would have been great if they had come, and I think they really had a lot of internal struggles as to whether to attend or not. They did not attend their own daughter's second wedding because she had left her husband for another man, so we were not totally surprised. If we keep including conservative Christians in our lives, they will learn that we are not so different, and perhaps include us and respect us more. My partner's Roman Catholic father gave a hilarious toast at our wedding that included the fact that he was "thrilled that at least one of my kids had a Christian church wedding". Sadly, we are not as far along with my partner's brother who believes that God wants him to love the sinner and hate the "sin", but even he has moved somewhat in his position, perhaps because we make him think about the fact that we may be gay, but we are also ordinary churchgoing Christians. By living open lives both as gay people AND as Christians I think we help people at both ends of the spectrum to be more inclusive in their thinking.

      • Soulmentor

        Thank you, Derek, for your complimentary attention. Good to hear your story too. Gay men like you and your partner are a major part of making the difference for us in our society. Thank you for being. Congratulations and best wishes for your happy future.

  • kate

    can you send that to Billy Graham? I read his question/answer article in the paper every day just to laugh at the hipocrisy that is telling people they're wrong and he's right. Everybody can't be right, someone has to be wrong

  • Susan

    Such a great post and a kick-ass photo – it perfectly conveys your message.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    I'm late to the party but let me say it's perfect. Thanx for a very funny — and very, VERY perceptive! — post!

  • Freda

    Oooh, quite viciously biting. How about when a fellow Christian tells you that the bad things that are befalling you are because you are allowing Satan into your life somehow? That’s always a feel-good moment!

    • mimic

      Freda, I concur. I love it when anything negative is attributed to the existence of Satan everywhere you turn. Human beings don't choose to do evil on their own, except for the fact that Satan is lurking around waiting to tell them the way to evil and perdition.

  • http://www.wsimpson.wordpress.com William Simpson

    John Shore mocks my messengers, and his evil heart is far from me.

    http://wsimpson.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/musings-

  • http://thefakejohnshore.wordpress.com/ thefakejohnshore

    Now I can tell I have a man of God in front of me right here. A confident believer is one who not just *believes* he knows the word of the Lord inside and out but actually —speaks— for God! Directly! Some may call this arrogance – nay – delusion! But we know the truth, don't we brother. Keep being the mouthpiece of God.

    I hope this helps.

    FJS

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

      awesomness

      • http://thefakejohnshore.wordpress.com/ thefakejohnshore

        Jesus said "Some will call me Lord! Lord! And I will tell them 'You never knew me'". (Or words to that effect, when on fire with the Spirit it is not important to quote things exactly right, God will clean up the mess. God? Pick up on aisle Romans!).

        There are some like myself and William that are so aligned with the Word of God that we've jump started the separation of the sheep and the goats part (William has even started in with cutting off some testicles but that's just a little bit too close to the gays for me if you know what ( mean). But what you need to understand is that for men like William and I? We know as God knows who is evil and who is not. We can sense a wolf in sheep's clothing like we can smell out who is giving in church and who is throwing in a waddled up ball of paper in the collection basket. We know. All we're doing is getting a bit of a head start on the deciding who is good and who is evil, it is our calling in this time. Why wait for the Lord? We can do His job well enough. But nothing personal, if you're evil? Well you just are. Don't get your liberal panties in a wad over it. And I say that with love in my heart for you, I hope you find salvation one day.

        I hope this helps.

        FJS

  • Jason Buchanan

    John, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    I think your writing is very cathartic for others to read (myself included). You often say things that many people feel – but are unwilling to say aloud.

    Still, I am often made uncomfortable with the amount of sarcasm and extreme hyperbole you use to make "the point". I am likely making a sweeping generalization based on the selected posts of yours I have chosen to read… Nonetheless, I admit that I find your writing both enjoyable and disconcerting.

    I can only reflect upon the way your writing makes me feel – and honestly, it makes me angry at times. There are also times were I laugh with appreciation. All the while, I wonder what your "goal" is for sharing your work. Have you posted on this before (the purpose of your writing)? I would like to know why you do what you do. Are you trying to convince the closed-minded extremes toward greater tolerance? If so, I am confused by your use of so much vinegar…which is entirely entertaining and enlightening…but still confusing. :)

    • Soulmentor

      Frankly, there’s been too much tip-toeing on eggshells around “Christian” behavior for far too many generations and it’s about time for some of that vinegar. Making nice and making allowances goes right over their blithely self-righteous heads. It’s time they get called out……and then they can claim persecution and victimization. Whatever!!

  • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

    Love it, John. Sorry I missed the exchange.

    My journey has lead me to a little mantra of: Ego blocks Compassion. Maybe I just haven't figured out how to do it yet, but it seems terribly difficult if not impossible to me to be genuinely compassionate for others while simultaneously insisting on one's own rightness (read self-righteousness).

    Thanks for doing what you do.


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