Saving Christians’ Butts

Yesterday a reader wrote me this: “Gay, schmay. John, you know I adore you—so please take this in the spirit it was intended but … ENOUGH about gays already! There are other things to tackle, and we need your focus there.”

And that’s why I’ve decided to start bringing attention to a problem in today’s church that has certainly caused me extended, immense, and numbing pain: Why (oh, why?) do so many of our American church pews today still lack cushions? We need cushions!

Won’t you help to literally save a Christian’s butt? Give generously today. Christ told us to turn the other cheek. But many of us can’t, because our entire rear-end has fallen asleep. Enough. Let us, hand in hand, take a stand now, so that later, after the service, we can stand at all.

Oh, speaking of having some fun at the expense of Christian butts, I did want to say one more thing on the gay/Christians issue: When, as I did in yesterday’s Was I Rude to the Author of “A Christlike Response to Homosexuality”? Hell, Yes, I write things like, “Homosexuality is no more like every other sin than a seahorse is like Seabiscuit,” it of course invites the question of whether or not I’m a literary genius. But beyond that, it suggests that perhaps I personally do, in fact, hold homosexuality to be a sin—since, clearly, I’ve left it in the category of sin.

So I wanted to take a moment to be clear about why, when engaging Christians about this manner, I often place its entire dynamic within that particular context.

If you say to a Christian, “Homosexuality isn’t a sin,” as a refutation he or she can simply point to their Bible. And, just like that, the conversation will be over. (Oh, sure, you can retort to their Bible-pointing by saying, “Do a little homework, dim bulb! Study a little, why don’t you? Do you really think God dictated the Bible in American English, you insufferable drooling troglodyte?” But what I’ve found to be true is this primarily results in a Starbucks employee requesting that you leave.)

You can’t just say to a Christian that homosexuality isn’t a sin, because they’ll just shut down on you.

So I keep the conversation within the idea that homosexuality is a sin. I let them have that.

Here’s the thing, now: Christians are no longer arguing that people aren’t born gay—the “it’s a choice” train finally ground to a stop. Now only truly recalcitrant Christians still cling to the cruel absurdity that if a homosexual will only be Christian enough, Jesus will turn them straight. Having abandoned that tack, what today’s more “compassionate” Christian claims is that homosexuality is a sin that must be resisted. Just as the alcoholic should not drink, the gambler should not gamble, and the adulterer should not keep a pack of condoms in his glove compartment, so the homosexual should not be physically intimate with a person of their own gonadal persuasion.

Okay? So what that’s necessarily saying is that gays should spend their lives alone. The (typical) Christian prescription for homosexuality is a life not only unmarried, but without any of the loving physical intimacy that all other humans cherish and take for granted as absolutely foundational to a happy, healthy life.

All I ask (as I really, really did in How Is Being Gay Like Gluing Wings on a Pig?,) is that the Christian who cleaves to the idea that homosexuality is a sinful proclivity to be resisted be honest about what that actually means in the life of the gay person. If, as Christians today most commonly do, you assert that being gay is a sin that needs to be resisted, then what you are saying is that a gay man or lesbian woman should live his or her life alone. That’s what resisting being gay means. It can’t mean anything but that.

Just once—once!—I wish I could hear a Christian admit that simple, simple thing.

And I fear I’ll be waiting for that admission until the day I die. Christians refuse to acknowledge the obvious truth of their own assertion about gays. Why? Because they know that taking that next logically necessary step—claiming that they do, in fact, want the homosexuals to live with platonic love being the only kind of love he or she ever experiences—means stepping right off the cliff of God’s love. They know that it will mean putting themselves squarely in the position of blocking from another the full love of God that Christ himself so adamantly proclaimed to be the birthright of all.

They know that “Jesus loves you! I love you! Now go live without love!” is, at best, nonsense.

So, inevitably, they stop short of acknowledging the most obvious practical ramification of their own moral injunction. Instead, they hurl their Bible at you—and then run, hide, dissemble, vacillate, deny, cry, accuse, cross their arms and stamp their feet and hold their breath. They do anything but explicitly admit what they’ve already implicitly demanded.

They act, in a word, crazy. And they must. That’s your only choice when, in the final analysis, you’ve chosen your own fear over God’s full love.

****

Do me a favor: pass this post along to anyone and everyone. The sooner we put to rest the whole gay “issue,” the sooner we can, in fact, turn our attention to the kinds of concerns and work which are the rightful domain of all compassionate people.

And “like” my Facebook page. Thanks.

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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.

  • Kara

    I love how many times you have to say – eloquently every time, to be sure – the exact same things before people get it. It’s like there are people sticking their fingers in their ears and saying “I can’t hear you” then pretending they’ve somehow won by refusing to actually address any of your points. (I believe you alluded to this in the sentence that begins “Because they know that taking that next logically necessary step…)

    Also, I think I may need to find a way to work “Do you really think God dictated the Bible in American English, you insufferable drooling troglodyte?” into my conversations about… Oh, everything.

    • Anonymous

      Hah! Good one. Yeah, I mean … I think this is the second, maybe third time I’ve said this (though the first time I’ve taken the time to explain why it might sometimes appear that I’m avoiding the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sin), and it’s definitely enough. I’m done.

  • http://twitter.com/audreyequality Audrey Smith

    Actually, my evangelical family is NOT afraid to say gays should live their lives alone. They don’t see what is wrong with asking gay people to make this sacrifice — which they would NEVER ask of themselves. After all, they (conveniently) have not been “called to celibacy” as they believe some must be. And yet, when I point out the lack of God’s love in this belief, they think *I* am the one who isn’t being loving. *I* am the one who is too harsh in my judgment.

    • Anonymous

      You know, I think maybe I HAVE once heard a Christian tell me that, yes, he thought gays were “called” to celibacy. And sometimes you do SORT of hear Christians say it. But it’s always accompanied by so much waffling and … verbal weirdness, that listening to/reading it is like chewing gum long after the flavor’s gone: there’s just nothing really THERE. But you say you’ve had the experience of Christians flat-out, unequivocally saying that it’s their conviction that gays should live their whole lives without holding hands, cuddling, etc? Man, I wish I could hear that. Because that’s when the argument REALLY gets interesting.

      • MattPatt

        I actually hear this from Catholics all the time. Which is appropriate, because it’s right there in the catechism. Pointing out, of course, that this is kinda repugnant when you stop and think about it doesn’t really get me anywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-W-Lukens-Goodson/100000194585042 Mary W. Lukens Goodson

    I’m with Kara on the need to work your beautiful line into everything. That’s so…perfect.

    However, I wish to point out one thing: Underlying your whole idea about gays/marriage/physical intimacy there seems to be an assumption that all heterosexuals automatically have this.

    As a 20-year married hetero, I gotta tell you it just ain’t necessarily so. While I’m all in support of everyone having the OPPORTUNITY to have a loving and intimate relationship… it unfortunately doesn’t work out that way for all of us. Not all partners enjoy physical intimacy on a regular basis. For some, an occasional hug and kiss is considered “enough”. The spouse of that person gets to spend their years “married yet single”. In an otherwise good relationship, the idea of leaving someone just because they aren’t as cuddly as you’d like really doesn’t make sense.

    I honestly don’t see how that’s any different from the gay remaining celibate but having “friends”. I feel sorry for them too, but hey, for many of us in the world, that’s just the way it is.

    • Kara

      I’d say that the point isn’t that God guarantees everyone (anyone, really) happy or fulfilling romance. It’s more that God’s love doesn’t seem compatible with categorically denying an entire group of people any chance at that. To make them feel guilty for even wanting it.

      It’s the mandate, not the outcome, that’s the problem. Some gay people will have a hard time finding romantic intimacy, as will some straight people. But everyone should be allowed to at least look for a loving, mutually fulfilling romantic relationship.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, Kara. Yes.

    • http://heckledtrio.wordpress.com Helly

      Intimacy doesn’t necessarily = sex. It’s so much more than that, as you yourself pointed out. And if a gay person *chooses* to remain celibate, then I can see some parallels with your situation. But that’s the point– whether or not one chooses to remain celibate, it IS ultimately their choice, gay or straight. Big difference between that *choice* and being told by Christians that you MUST remain celibate because you are homosexual. Where’s the choice there?

      • Anonymous

        What Helly said.

    • Suz

      “Underlying your whole idea about gays/marriage/physical intimacy there seems to be an assumption that all heterosexuals automatically have this. ” I’m afraid I disagree. Nobody assumes that all straights have this intimacy, but but we are allowed to pursue it. We have a choice. Within the church, gays don’t. That’s the difference.

  • Lee

    This is the exact premise of Dr. Patrick Chapman’s book, ‘Thou Shalt Not Love: What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays”. As an anthropologist his is a thoroughly researched, meticulously presented, long, deep, challenging read. You say the same thing in a much more fun and brief way, but just as profoundly.

    All I have to say is thank you a million times.
    :)

  • kenleonard

    Ha!

    My church has padded chairs. We don’t have this problem at all. No wooden pews anywhere!

    • http://www.etsy.com/shop/MC2Works Mindy

      So are gays welcomed into your church? Because if so, maybe cushions are the key. Maybe those with their butts asleep are simply unable to fully feel God’s love, and thus can justify to themselves denying it to others.

      I dunno. Just a working theory . . . .

    • Mindy

      And does your church welcome gays into the fold? Because if so, maybe you’re on to something. Perhaps the cushions are the key. Maybe it is those whose butts are asleep who cannot fully feel God’s love, and can thereby justify denying it to others.

      I dunno. Just a working theory . . . .

  • Quilterdiane

    John,

    Re: your statement “Christians are no longer arguing that people aren’t born gay;” don’t we who love Jesus and hate bigotry wish this were true!

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his letter on “Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future,” ( July 2009) refers to gays’ “chosen lifestyle,” (see section 8). That same section also says that gays cannot/should not be married in the church or serve in ordained ministry. I find it disheartening that the highest-level Anglican official still embraces the idea that homosexuality is a “choice.”

    The letter can be found here: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/2502

    The Archbishop’s letter is one of the reasons our parish and diocese have split apart. Because of it the anti-gay faction has hope that their “Anglican” churches will be recognized by the Worldwide Anglican Communion as the “true” Anglican Church in the US (instead of ECUSA).

    My hope is that, like the issue of women in the priesthood, the ECUSA is leading the entire Communion closer to fairer treatment for all. Given time, perhaps other provinces will follow our example. It only took the Church of England 20 years to catch up to us in ordaining women….

  • Orthodox Christian

    I am an Orthodox Christian and I find your posts, well mainly nonsensical – but I still read. Homosexuals need not “live alone.” That is a stretch. They can live at home, they can take a roommate, etc. Many people remain single and that is not a ‘bad’ thing. Shall they stay abstinent in same-sex sexual fornicating activity? Yes. (They can’t marry in the eyes of God and the Church. 2000 years of Christian practice shows this). Is staying “single” a bad thing, as you are misleading us (calling it ‘living alone’) to believe? NO. 1 Cor 7:8 for example can show this. Frankly, it is liberals like you that are destroying the Protestant churches by “making it up” as you go along, going against 2000 years of Christian Ethics/Church tradition on this issue. As if God suddenly changed His mind about it in the 20th century.

    • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric

      I was looking for the dislike button but alas, I must use words.

      The churches tradition on homosexuality is not really 2000 years old. The modern translations of the bible have added that work. I think it appears in modern translations 4 times. In the older translations, they used others words that are not (in most people’s minds) synonyms. Homosexuality is a hot-button for probably 50 years now. Coincidentally, most new translations have modified words like effeminate to read homosexuality. When they did this the (i.e., the NIV translators) were accused of changing God’s word. Now when people like John (and I and other commenters here) come along and challenge it, we’re accused of changing God’s word. argh.

      • Anonymous

        Awesomeness.

      • Orthodox Christian

        Okay Ric. You seem to be the expert. So how old is the “church’s tradition” (before it rejected that tradition AND the scriptures mainly in the post 1900′s?). Show me ONE Church Father, say in the first 1500 years history of the Church, that embraced/approved of gay sexual relations, and what is called “gay marriage.” Instead of answering, you bring up “modern Bibles” as if they are the source of “bigotry” that this page claims. Seriously, this gets more comical as it grows. You may “dislike” what I said, Ric, but you can’t answer a simple question. Typical of liberals.

        • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric

          Thank you for spelling my name correctly, Orthodox. What question am I not allowed to answer?

        • Anonymous

          Careful there, OC. Give the man a chance. And drop the attitude. We play nice here.

          • Orthodox Christian

            John, I apologize if I was not “playing nice” (whatever that means). Ric purported that “The churches tradition on homosexuality is not really 2000 years old.” I have asked him to demonstrate that and then stated that “liberals” usually do not like doing that. It is an observation, not “not playing nice.” And as for comical, I find this to be that. But in all honestly, it (this topic and others) is more grievous than comical because it is destroying the “protestant” churches and creating schisms. But I sense from many comments on here that this is also a “good” thing for liberals.

          • Anonymous

            You don’t know what it means to play nice? Wow. Tough life for you.

          • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric

            Actually, you wrote, “You may “dislike” what I said, Ric, but you can’t answer a simple question. ” Which means either that you presume a great deal about me based on one comment or you are ordering me to not answer. In either case, you are being rude (aka, attitude).

          • Anonymous

            And this “apology” of yours, Orthodox is so perfectly, quintessentially dickish. “I apologize if I was being an asshole (whatever that means.).” The ultimate in passive-aggressiveness. And you want to lecture us on how we shouldn’t create schisms. Charming.

          • DR

            I am confused. You just bashed a group of people who identify as liberal and you don’t understand how that isn’t playing nice?

            Whoa.

        • A’isha

          Church tradition doesn’t mean it’s good. In the Bible many times slaves were told to obey their masters. (Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, I Timothy 6:1) That was our “church tradition” for thousands of years! Today we know that having slaves would be totally UN-Christ-like, not ok at all. Are you saying unless we advocate slavery, we’re going against the Bible? Didn’t think so.

        • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric

          Hey Orthodox, after carefully reviewing the comment thread here, I’ve decided to concede you opening point: I do indeed seem to be the expert here. Although, due to its relative nature, I won’t be bragging it up anything soon.

    • Anonymous

      Why hide behind anonymity, Jamey Bennett?

      • Orthodox Christian

        Why not answer the points I raised instead of just agreeing with other liberals? “awesomeness” ? Oh, you are sooo “kewl” John. You agree with RIC? To both YOU and RIC, show me from 100-1900 where the Christian Church (Christ’s body in case you don’t know what I mean by the Church) EVER embraced/accepted/approved of homosexuality, or ‘gay marriage’ as you are calling for now? If homosexuality is really “sin” as you say in THIS post (which I really don’t believe you truly acknowledge) then it needs to be “repented” of (ever hear of that Christian word?) And by the way, my name is not Jamey. My name is not important. It is what I believe and teach which is. And, poor Jesus, He remained single. Did he “live alone”? Was His life so bad? Keep trying God’s patience, John. One day you will meet “Him.” But in the meanwhile we can continue to read your foolishness which in God’s great providence and judgment has allowed to continue (Romans 1:28-29).

        • Anonymous

          Oh, great. Another bombastic jerk I have to ban. Ratchet back your attitude, Orthodox, or you’re outta here. Promise.

          • Orthodox Christian

            Again John – ban me? why? For speaking clearly? For stating an opinion? For calling statements that don’t contain any historical fact out? But you can call me a “bombastic jerk.”? That’s playing nice? I can’t have a (perceived) attitude but you can name call? You have to “ban me” for speaking straight and speaking according to my convictions (which you are doing, I assume)? If I agreed with you I would be your friend, but because I don’t and challenge comments made here – I am a bombastic jerk that needs banning. Okay. I get it.

          • Anonymous

            Good. Cuz you’re gone. It’s got nothing to do with your views. It has to do with the offensive way you present them.

          • Harold Tiche

            John – in defense of Orthodox. You use Foul language? Is that part of your playing nice? You can call names and use foul language? He/she has done none of this. Unless, using the word liberal is a ‘bad’ name, then I guess he/she is guilty. For some one who is so accepting/embracing/ and defending of “homosexuals” (and the behavior involved with that – hence the “saving butts” title) you can’t accept one guy/gal who has challenged another on your site? Can anyone say “hypocrite”?

          • ms.glove

            It is people like “Orthodox Christian” who help to keep me weary of attending any church, despite my love of Jesus. Wow. Reading this just gave me some flashbacks from 10+ years ago. Thank you for this post, and thank you for looking out for all of your readers, whether we agree with you on an issue or not.

          • DR

            Another bully who gets challenged on his style and then becomes a victim. If I had a nickel, etc.

          • Janhogan

            So embrace gays, but don’t tolerate dissenters?

        • DR

          You are acting creepy and abusive. Seriously, I’m not just reacting (I’m not invested in the Internet’s opinion of who liberals are, etc). You’re angry and trying to be hostile in the name of Jesus and as a result you’re muddying any point you’re trying to raise.

          I get that you believe you are acting in the name of a holy God. I do. I get that you believe you have to defend the righteousness of God. But you’re fucking it up and someone needs to tell you that, even though it’s going to take a ton of humility for you to really hear that you may have and choose not to exercise, or you don’t.

          Simply put, you send a very confusing message to non believers as they try to reconcile a just church with a loving god. Take a breath, get a hold of yourself and calm down. If you don’t, God have mercy on you for the damage you do to the Holy Name of Jesus.

        • Mindy

          Oh, goody. A new closed mind has dropped in to bash what s/he does not understand. By insisting that s/he understands it better than anyone else here, whilst dripping with condescension by calling the community here “comical.” How loving, how Christ-like.

          So much of “God’s word” has been modified over the years – I assume you, as an orthodox Christian, live exactly as the first versions of the Bible ever written prescribe, yes? No mixing of fibers, no shellfish, all that? And no casting of stones, I assume, correct? Oh . . . wait . . . too late for that one. Look at the pile of stones already cast . . .

          You and your ilk, OC, do more to push others from the real and true spirit of Christ than John or anyone like him ever will. And the closer gay people come to the acceptance and equality in our society that they deserve, the louder you holler and honk and the more foolish you prove yourselves to be.

          How many gay people do you know, OC? Of course you know some – we all do, because 1 in 10 people are gay. If they are remotely intuitive, of course, they’ve kept it from you in order to avoid a sanctimonious lecture. But do you know any who are openly gay? Have you told them they cannot have a partner? Have you looked a person in the eyes and insisted that they not fall in love, ever?

          The sad part is that you are the ones missing out. You are the ones who have cloistered yourselves off from the wider, beautifully diverse world that your God created and embraces to this day. No loving and omnipotent God would create humanity in His own image and expect us to flounder in sameness for centuries. Would he have given us intelligence and passion and curiosity, and then not expected – wanted – us to learn and advance our understanding of the world and all who reside in it – including ourselves? He didn’t translate his own work in order to let one group of his people control another – we made those mistakes ourselves. And the compassion with which He also imbued us inspires some to fight that human-constructed control so that all whom He created can seek the full embodiment of His love if we so choose.

        • Mindy

          OC, I suggest that you do a little repentin’ yourself. Or a lot.

          And then, perhaps, an anger management class, followed by some good old-fashioned therapy, in which you delve into figuring out what you are so afraid of. We are driven most passionately in this life by fear – and you are exhibiting all the signs of someone who lives in mortal fear of . . . something. Might want to figure out what that is.

    • DR

      Thank you for clearing that up!

  • JAy.

    Sorry, John. I can’t follow you down this path. “They know that it will mean putting themselves squarely in the position of blocking from another the full love of God that Christ himself so adamantly proclaimed to be the birthright of all.” OK, I grant that Jesus proclaimed God’s love. But how exactly does God’s love relate to my sexual relationship with my spouse? If God’s love is tied to sexual relations, was Jesus without God’s love? I am sorry, but you have just made a “logical” step that defies logic.

    I do agree that saying that homosexuals should be celibate is a harsh judgment. I understand your point there. But saying that denies the homosexual individual a life full of God’s love is, well, crap. (Ocassionally eloquence has to give yield to honesty.)

    My brother-in-law is not homosexual. He is not married, not in a dating relationship, and is celibate. Is he missing out on God’s love?

    Catholic priests are called to be celibate. (Please no comments on their success rate; that is not the point.) So if priests are not having sex, are they also not experiencing the complete love of God?

    Note that I still have not come to a place of personal peace with calling homosexuality a sin. But then again, the Pharisees could not peacefully call divorce a sin, but Jesus certainly seemed to go there.

    I also am not suggesting that homosexuals should be driven out of the church if they admit to being sexually active. Again, to compare to divorce, that would also mean that, by Jesus’ standard, we would have to drive out anyone who was divorced and wanted to be in a relationship.

    But some of God’s requests are difficult. Some of Jesus’ requests are difficult. No one lives their life perfectly. But that doesn’t mean we have to promote any lifestyle that someone feels is in their nature. (Jeffery Dahmer comes to mind here, although that is admittedly an extreme.)

    I do not mean to start a flame war here, and I hope that people will respect that I am trying to lay out a path of logic, not just spew hate. (I really don’t even like the logical path; I just can’t find a way off it.) Of course, I welcome any discussion and education that you and your readers want to send my way.

    • Anonymous

      Jay: You asked, “But how exactly does God’s love relate to my sexual relationship with my spouse?” If you don’t know the answer to that, God help you. And your wife.

      • JAy.

        John, perhaps I should have been more precise in asking, “How is my relationship with God (my experience of his love) dependent upon my sexual relationship with my spouse?”

    • MattPatt

      Perhaps this might have some meaning for you — in each of the cases you describe above, the person in question has been allowed to use their own process of discernment to determine God’s path for them. The priest chose to follow his calling, your brother-in-law has chosen not to be married or in a dating relationship, etc. — but these choices were not externally imposed. You give examples of people who were allowed to find God’s path for themselves, but you’re telling LGBTQ that there is only *one* path for them, ever, thus substituting your judgment for their prayerful consideration of God’s will denying them the same opportunity for discernment that the priest and your brother-in-law and everyone else have.

      If you can’t really see that these situations are different, I guess there’s not much I can do for you, but there’s my stab at explaining.

    • RoeDylanda

      This is the same logic that drove me out of the Protestant church If homosexuality is a sin, and God hates it, and some people are born gay anyway…. That road leads to a place I do not want to go. How could I want to be close to a God that creates people he’s going to be mad at all the time because they are simply acting according to the nature He gave them? That’s so awful! I had a beloved great-aunt who surely did not choose to be a lesbian, and suffered her whole life because of it. I cannot believe that God made her that way just to punish her for 76 years.

      I don’t know the Bible well enough to argue the textual nuances, I can only say that I can’t be a Christian if it means believing that gay folks are any more broken than the rest of us. The God I feel when I pray isn’t a meanie.

      • Suz

        You got that right! For years I was embarrassed to call myself a Christian. God as defined in the Old Testament is cruel, capricious, jealous and tyrannical. I said, “That’s immoral! I believe in a moral God.” Not too long ago, I realized that my moral God is in Jesus. Not the rest of the Bible, the teachings of Jesus himself. The closest he came to having cultural bias justify immorality, was when he told the “masters” to be kind to their slaves. I can only hope he meant servants or dependents in general, or was misquoted, as I cannot believe he condoned humans owning other humans. The Bible contradicts itself all over the place; if there’s ONE person in the entire Bible who got it right because he TRULY understood God, it would be Jesus. I have no qualms about ignoring the rest; my ONLY spiritual goal is to follow Jesus. Technically, I guess that makes me a Christian, even though I disagree with nearly every biblical thing most Christians believe.

        • Diana A.

          “The closest he came to having cultural bias justify immorality, was when he told the ‘masters’ to be kind to their slaves. I can only hope he meant servants or dependents in general, or was misquoted, as I cannot believe he condoned humans owning other humans. ” I don’t believe Jesus condoned humans owning other humans either and yet it does appear that he didn’t go out of his way (in his earthly) existence to put a stop to it. My only potential explanation for this is that it would have gone against his prime directive to have challenged this particular evil that directly. Part of what it means to become a Christian (to my way of thinking) is that one’s heart and life change–that is, a slave-owner or other oppressor is supposed to come to conclusion on his/her own that oppression is wrong/Unchristlike and then change accordingly. Unfortunately, some of us Christians are slow learners.

    • DW

      If one is indeed “called” to be celibate, then by definition of “call,” shouldn’t they feel that call within themselves and acknowledge that call? Yet, many homosexuals don’t feel a “calling” to be celibate. Many heterosexuals don’t either.

      I think what has struck me the most during this discussion is John’s post from the other day, saying that OK, every other sin — murder, lying, stealing — causes separation from others, sadness, pain and loss. Yet, allowing one to be gay and in an open relationship causes the exact opposite every time I’ve seen it — love, closeness, etc.

      Why do people have the view that Jesus’ teachings are meant to be these horrible things that complicate our lives? In all cases, loving your neighbor as yourself and loving your Lord God above all others makes your life simple, fulfilled and peaceful. Jesus was really showing us the way to peace on this earth!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Wisner-Miller/1310612074 Mary Wisner Miller

    Here here, John! Well said. The church that ran me off this year had cushions in the pews, but that didn’t help. They’re still a bunch of hard asses.

    • Anonymous

      Hah! Perfectly said, Mary Wisner Miller.

    • John_Narrow

      Again, name calling is “playing nice.” Disagreeing with John will not be tolerated

      • Anonymous

        Again, fool: I can SEE that John Narrow, Jan Hogan, and Orthodox Christian are the same people. Is there ANY chance at all that you’ll leave, and go pee on someone else’s blog?

        • Cheryl Ensom

          Why? Afraid of truth?

          • http://www.livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Ensom

            Will the real Cheryl Ensom please stand up?

            I’m Cheryl Ensom!!!

            Ortho-Jan-John, I’m going to try to say this gently:

            Making a new Disquis profile using my name isn’t clever; it’s….weird.

          • Anonymous

            Don’t worry about it: I blocked Orthodox Christian’s IP address; hopefully, he’ll stay away now. (People: OC also posted something exceptionally nasty and crude under Cheryl Ensom’s name. Class act.)

          • http://www.livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Ensom

            Niiiiiiiiiiiiice.

            You know I’ve been thinking about it and because of this interaction I am totally going to become a Christian now. I was violently opposed to it until now and now I’ve seen the light. You see, Mr. Ortho-Jan-John, loving people like Jesus did doesn’t draw people to Christ! Pshaw! It is far more effective to be rude, crude and disgusting. I personally am totally converting

            on.the.spot.

            Who’s with me???

  • http://www.livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Ensom

    This is great, John. I’m new to your blog, but will be coming back for more. Love your “voice” – wise yet deliciously snarky! ;)

    It seems to me that the Bible does indeed indicate that homosexuality is a sin. But the Bible also says women should not preach/teach and tells them they should shut the hell up in church. There were loads of laws in the O.T. that we are perfectly willing to acknowledge were more about “keeping order”/getting along within the Jewish culture because of what that culture was at that time, than about (cue booming echo voice) MORALITY. Christians don’t (usually) observe the letter of the Jewish law, yet they want to take Paul’s words as the final judgment on what’s “sinful” or not. Paul himself told the churches to do/not do certain things based entirely on cultural norms, not on morality. The women issue is just one of them.

    I’ve not read a bunch on this, but in my own mind I’ve wondered if there was even a place for homosexuals in the SECULAR society that the early church was part of. If not, of course homosexuality would be discouraged/viewed as immoral. There was not a way for women to be educated…there was not a cultural PLACE for women to teach/preach/lead in the culture, either, so it was logical that Paul would have trouble thinking outside of that framework. It just makes sense to me that rules about morality seem to often be a guide for “getting along” with the larger culture. This church (largely) accepts this when it comes to Paul’s take on women in the church, but then stops short when it comes to homosexuality.

    Little sidenote: the Presbyterian church we used to attend decided, in the face of the PCUSA denomination push to ordain homosexuals, opted to switch to a more conservative Presbyterian denomination. The most charming thing about this is that this new denomination not only doesn’t believe in ordaining homosexuals but also won’t ordain women. In order to not support homosexuals being ordained, they are going to revert what…50 years???…and put the muzzle back on women. Apparently only heterosexual men can communicate God’s word? Disgusting.

    Don’t even get me started on the dragging of the feet when it comes to allowing homosexuals to marry one another. I understand PERFECTLY what is behind this. If Christians allow for homosexuals to be legally married they can no longer call the sexual relationship between spouses “adultery.”

    And lastly, I’d just like to make a simple observation that the majority of Christian men who are happy to say gay folks should live without love can’t even control their own addiction to pornography, let alone go the rest of their lives without sex.

    • Anonymous

      Beautiful, Cheryl. I’m very glad you found me, too. I look forward to any of your comments in the future. Wonderful job here.

      • Janhogan

        Just don’t dare disagree or you will get banned

        • Anonymous

          Jan Hogan: Are you actually so stupid that you don’t realize that I can SEE, via your IP address, that you’re Orthodox Christian? Holy cow, dude. Get a life.

    • Orthodox Christian

      Cheryl, good post – but you say “If Christians allow for homosexuals to be legally married they can no longer call the sexual relationship between spouses “adultery.” The word is “fornication” not adultery. Two unmarried homosexuals who have sex are “fornicating.” Adultery would be if, say in the example of male homosexual sex, one of the males fornicating was married to a woman. Homosexuals ultimately want “marriage” so they can believe/deceive themselves that God and society accepts them as “homosexuals” equal with the natural order/creation/design of God of heterosexual sex and the ordnance of God of heterosexual people getting married (Genesis 1:27 and as Jesus reiterated and taught in Matthew 19:46. But John and others on this blog know more than Jesus with their 20th century “enlightened” minds.

    • A’isha

      Cheryl, I appreciate your comments. You may be interested in reading “A Letter to Louise” at godmademegay.com. It’s written by an older, retired, Baptist minister (straight and married) who studied extensively on the subject of homosexuality. His conclusion: (my paraphrase) the Bible doesn’t condemn it at all; it only condemns lust, gay or straight.

      • DW

        Thank you for posting this link. I went and read it and learned much, especially about Hebrew words used and how they have been differently translated during the ages. It really opens up your view on the written word of the Bible. Thank you again — it made me much more educated about this topic.

  • http://heckledtrio.wordpress.com Helly

    I agree with your point that not everyone needs to be in a committed, intimate relationship with another person to experience fulfillment or God’s love. But your path of logic has one flaw (and I am assuming that your brother-in-law will remain single and celibate for the rest of his life, otherwise, your argument holds no water): nobody forced him to remain celibate. It’s his own choice. And if he believes it’s his calling, then God has chosen him as an individual, not because he has curly hair or is left-handed.

    Some homosexuals will indeed find happiness and fulfillment in celibacy, as will some heterosexuals. But how is forcing that celibacy on one group, and using a small percentage of the population (who had freedom to choose that sexless lifestyle) as an example that “it’s possible”, any way to show God’s love?

    • Anonymous

      Very well said, Helly. Thank you.

    • JAy.

      Helly,

      Maybe my comment can be better understood by analyzing this quote from John:

      “The (typical) Christian prescription for homosexuality is a life not only unmarried, but without any of the loving physical intimacy that all other humans cherish and take for granted as absolutely foundational to a happy, healthy life.”

      I am arguing that considering physical intimacy as “absolutely foundational to a happy, healthy life” is in fact the error that John is committing. If anything, most people who really think about it would argue the opposite – the ability to live and love without physical intimacy is much more emotionally healthy. After all, how many people are addicted to sex in one way or another (and I include here pornography and masturbation)? And how many relationships would be far more constructive if not for depending on the endorphin high that sexual intimacy provides?

      John claims in his post that (1) telling someone to be celibate means “blocking from another the full love of God,” and (2) sexual intimacy is foundational to a happy, healthy life. Remove these two (in my opinion flawed) statements from John’s argument, and all we are talking about is someone who shouldn’t do what they consider their “natural state” (my term, not John’s). This is approaching similarity to alcoholism, thievery, or even sloth.

      And I wouldn’t start to tell Mother Theresa, St. Augustine, the Pope, or my grandmother (who has decided not to remarry after becoming a widow) that they are missing out on the fullness of God’s love. But that is what John is saying others are missing if they aren’t practicing homosexuality.

      As I said, after having read my Bible, I cannot help but consider homosexuality a sin (how many things in the Bible does God find “abhorrent”?). Yes, I want to study this farther, because if this determination is reversed, I have simplified my life significantly. But I cannot just change my interpretation because I am more comfortable one way over the other.

      • Kara K

        JAy – I grew up in a Baptist church and have spent a lot of time struggling with Biblical interpretation, the nature of sin and the nature of grace. I want to recommend to you a book – Phillip Yancey’s “What’s so Amazing about Grace”. It has nothing to do with the question of homosexuality and everything to do with the nature of God and loving our neighbors.

        What finally broke through for me was accepting the fact that it’s not my place to judge anyone. Whether or not homosexuality is a sin is irrelevant to me because it’s not an issue for me. I am responsible for my relationship with God and no one else’s.
        John Shore’s interpretation of Jesus’ statement “No one comes to the Father but by me” helps a lot. The way I now read that statement is Jesus is the only one with the authority to decide who has a relationship with God. And I truly believe that Christianity at it’s core has nothing to do with following rules and is all about the relationship with God.

        On to the nature of God: How cruel and downright evil would it be for a god to create a person with (for many people) incredibly strong desire for a same-sex partner and then tell them that acting on that desire will make that god hate that person? That’s not the kind of god I’m willing to put my faith, trust, heart and soul into. I truly believe that the Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality have more to do with living in the culture of that time than they do with God’s inability to abide “sin”. Should an unmarried woman who is raped be forced to marry her rapist? Or a married woman who is raped be stoned? According to the Bible they should. I expect you can change your interpretation on that.

        I prefer to believe in a God who loves all of his creation. A God who is bigger than all of our petty differences. And if you need Biblical proof, look at Acts 10. In verse 28 Peter says “God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean”. In Judaic law sin was all about making people too impure to stand before God.

        Now being happily single, I do have some difficulty with John’s statement that sexual intimacy is “foundational to a happy, healthy life”. But I expect that has a lot to do with the really bad marriage I’m recovering from. I think the point he is making may be that any true expression of love (love for our partner, love for our neighbor, love for our enemy, love for starving kids in Africa) is a reflection of God’s love for us.

        • Anonymous

          Couldn’t agree more on that last paragraph, Kara K. I’m recovering from a broken marriage too. My ex divorced me to be with a married guy that left his wife. She not only threw our marriage and family away, she participated in destroying his marriage as well. I obviously hate what she did to me and our family. After three years, I am still torn up and face occasional days where I hate her and her dipshit boyfriend. As much as I love Jesus, I am not enough like Christ to always rise above the betrayal and ask God to forgive them.

          I believe the key to effective Christian living, is abiding in Christ. Easier said than done, right? Especially when it’s not always easy to know where I end and Jesus begins. I tend to imagine that I will experience negative feedback from the world as I live contrary to its wisdom. Somewhere in the epistles, I think it says that if I am faithful to Jesus, I will generally get a ration of shit from the world. If I’m not faithful to Jesus, I will probably be acting like an asshole and will still get a ration of shit from the world. My only frame of reference is the level of joy and peace I have. If the ration of shit destroys my peace and joy…I guess I don’t have Christ. Or something like that.

          • Kara K

            Seriuslee – you bring up a point that just clicked something for me (John’s blog seems to do that a lot). You loosely quote Paul saying being faithful to Jesus will get you a ration of shit from the world. But what doesn’t work for me in that is Jesus himself was adored by the world. He got a heaping ration of shit from the religious/political leaders.

            The more I think about Paul the more I want to toss him. He spent his life immersed in law. Not just law but honestly a really misogynistic law. Paul never spent time with Jesus like the rest of the apostles. I think Jesus picked fishermen and tax collectors to teach because they didn’t have the religious education that Paul and his contemporaries had, and therefore He didn’t have to break them of the bigotry and hate engendered by that education. Paul spent his life starting each day with a prayer “Thank you for not making me a Gentile, thank you for not making me a slave, thank you for not making me a woman.” Racism and misogyny were ingrained in him. And I truly believe that the man who said “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, never quite learned how to love all people equally. He certainly considered women less than men. He considered slaves property of their masters. The culture had a huge influence on the writings of the apostles.

            I’m so grateful that I was born in this culture at this time. In my world, I have one responsibility as a Christian and that is to be a conduit. I receive love from my God and in turn pass that love on to the people around me. The more love I give, the more love I receive. That to me is abiding in Christ.

          • Sayla

            “But ut what doesn’t work for me in that is Jesus himself was adored by the world.”

            I am not sure I agree with that. I mean, Jesus is someone who embodies what it meant to be fully human and fully reflect God’s Image, which is the true, good and beautiful but that didn’t score a lot of points for many people. For example,the people of his hometown, Nazareth, kicked him out. Plus, there are so many insecure egotistical lay people who benefit the world’s system too much to like Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom and human nature. Just because you are a good person doesn’t mean you will be loved automatically.

      • Anonymous

        Jay: As I said, after having read my Bible, I cannot help but consider homosexuality a sin (how many things in the Bible does God find “abhorrent”?).

        Look in your concordance for examples of what God “abhors” along with synonyms, like “hate” for instance…. you will be surprised at how many things you do that God hates/abhors.

        Also, can you show me ONE place where Jesus says ANYTHING about homosexuality??? No. You can’t, because he doesn’t address it. If homosexuallity is of such significance, don’t you think He’d preach about it? Or maybe even mention it? Once?

        P.S. If you don’t want to do anything described as an abomination in the Bible… don’t eat shell fish.

  • http://heckledtrio.wordpress.com Helly

    I agree with your point that not everyone needs to be in a committed, intimate relationship with another person to experience fulfillment or God’s love. But your path of logic has one flaw (and I am assuming that your brother-in-law will remain single and celibate for the rest of his life, otherwise, your argument holds no water): nobody forced him to remain celibate. It’s his own choice. And if he believes it’s his calling, then God has chosen him as an individual, not because he has curly hair or is left-handed.

    Some homosexuals will indeed find happiness and fulfillment in celibacy, as will some heterosexuals. But how is forcing that celibacy on one group, and using a small percentage of the population (who had freedom to choose that sexless lifestyle) as an example that “it’s possible”, any way to show God’s love?

  • http://www.facebook.com/brdonaldson Bruce Stacey Donaldson

    (Please read in a totally non-sarcastic tone) So the bottom line here seems to be that if a person wants to indulge their sin…it’s none of our business.

    • http://heckledtrio.wordpress.com Helly

      1) That bottom line depends on whether you think homosexuality is a sin or not.
      2) And even if you do, there’s a difference between sleeping around (which no Christian advocates, whether for gay or straight sex) and being in a loving, committed, relationship with one person. You know, like marriage… oh wait, except gay marriage isn’t legal in most places yet. Catch-22?

    • Diana A.

      It’s not our place to judge anyone’s sin but our own–and maybe not even that.

      Seriously, the only people we can change are ourselves–and even that isn’t so easy. Moreover, when we insist upon placing ourselves in the position of judge over someone else, it only serves to alienate that person–and perhaps drive that person even more deeply into doing the thing that we find to be sinful/offensive/whatever. Best to concentrate on changing ourselves and leave changing other people to God.

      • Anonymous

        There it is!

  • Chewa_11

    My church hasn’t had an outright discussion on homosexuality in my recollection. Which is really a shame because there is at least one person of our congregation who came out of the closet. He did it publically from the pulpit when he gave his testimony at his baptism. Jeez. Talk about brave. That was almost 10 years ago, and although it didn’t change our relationship, there have been some families who told their kids to stay away from him. Recently, he’s told me that he has decided to live a life of celibacy. He really is one of the bravest men I know. I think it would take some kind of supernatural grace to live a celibate life (As a hot blooded woman in my 20′s, I don’t think I could do it).

    This man is also the most hardworking, industrious man I know. He is: an amateur architect (makes models of buildings he designs), song writer, owner of his own small business , IT go-t0 guy, worship deacon, Gr 6 Sunday School teacher (they let up on the keep-him-away-from-our-kids idea), prayer warrior, and sole caretaker of his ill mother. And that’s on top of his regular 9-5 job. Sometimes, I wonder whether he would be as prolific if he had a boyfriend, and they spent their time going on dates and making googly eyes at each other like any other couple. I suspect it wouldn’t, and that makes his decision to be celibate even more brave. It’s like he’s producing so much good for the world at the expense of his (potential) romantic relationships.

    I wonder how my church’s leaders would respond to your post here. At my church, the writings of C.S. Lewis are held up pretty highly. And if I remember right, he wrote in the Four Loves, that agape (unconditional) love is the highest kind of love humans can experience, because this is the kind of love that God has for us. All the other loves (Affection – general affection for our fellow human beings, Friendship, Romantic/sexual) are very good and have a place in human experience, but are ultimately conditional. (As in, you could leave the relationship if the other party made a habit of acting like an ass.) It takes a special kind of grace to stay in the relationship when the other person is an ass and refuses to change. And many people don’t have that kind of love (as evidenced by the crazy divorce rates).

    My point is, romantic love is not the only kind of love out there. As Good and intimate as it is, it’s not even the best one – according to C.S. Lewis. (I guess the degree you would agree with that statement is the degree which you’ve personally experienced true unconditional love. So I don’t know how much I agree. Plus, C.S. Lewis didn’t get get a girlfriend until he was in his 30′s, so maybe he’s a little biased.)

    Would I say that my friend would have a much more rich life if he had romantic relationships? Probably. But I only say that because when I think of celibacy, I think of singleness. And they’re not the same thing. Most people don’t choose to be single for the rest of their lives, whereas choosing to be celibate is usually a lifelong commitment. And I’m sure there are strong reasons for such a choice. Are there pangs of loneliness? I think so. But when it gets tough, he can remind himself of the reasons for his choice. (Although I’m not sure how much comfort it’ll be.) I don’t know if I can say that he’ll live a poor loveless life because he’s celibate. I just don’t know enough about it.

    • Chewa_11

      I meant to say in the last bit, that I respond to celibacy the way I respond to singleness. So my knee-jerk reaction is that it’s not really a good thing, and that all celibate people must be poor lonely souls. But ultimately, I don’t know because I don’t know the incredible will that must be in place to make the decision to be celibate. Plus, maybe celibacy fits into that strange Christian category of ‘finding joy in suffering for God’.

      Also, if my gay Christian friend introduced me to his boyfriend, I think I would be happy for him. I am his friend, and I want him to be happy. It’d be different, I think if my friend succumbed to popular gay culture and was really promiscuous. That’s totally dangerous, and I wouldn’t want that for him. I wonder if the Church has a knee jerk reaction against homosexuality because parts of its culture is promiscuous.

      • Anonymous

        Promiscuity may play a part in why some Christians have a knee jerk reaction, but for most of the ones I know, it’s because sexuality outside of marriage (as defined in Matt.19:4-6) is a matter of sexual immorality whether they be gay or straight. Moral purity is different from ceremonial purity. That’s why eating oysters is no longer forbidden, but bearing false witness is. It’s not what goes into our stomach that defiles us, but what comes out of our mouths, hearts, and minds.

        It may be logical to believe, as does John, that qualification of sin requires that the behavior cause harm to someone else, but then it becomes necessary for someone to qualify harm and then what degree of harm. That seemingly becomes too subjective for an imperfect judge.

        What it boils down to for me, is that even if the universal church agrees that homosexuality is not a sin…are gay people not guilty of any other sins? Do they no longer need a Savior? If we say we have no sin, we lie. Scripture puts lying up top above any sexual sins. Which of us has never lied?

        • Suz

          There are plenty of objective measures of “degrees of harm,” and they are far more accurate as indicators of sin, than are arbitrary or traditional laws. I would rather argue even subjective degrees of harm, than base my judgments on something totally irrational, “safe” as the irrational may be.

          Where did lying come into the discussion? Did somebody suggest that gays are not “guilty of any other sin?”

          • Anonymous

            You’re right. Nobody suggested that. There just seems to be a decidedly strong tendency to withhold criticisms about any people who have suffered victimization. In the attempt to level the playing field, I believe it’s common to accredit offsets or turn a blind eye to faults for fear of appearing less than gracious, or even bigoted. In doing that, we compromise honesty and that never helps anyone.

            Regardless of whether homosexuality is a sin or not, I still hold that homosexuality bears harm in an objective sense. For instance, my own sister is forced to share custody of her daughter with her non-biological ex partner that she prematurely signed adoptive rights to. She has also lost the love and support of the gay friends she and her ex had in common. The gay community, even in a fairly large city, is a close community. Word travels fast. Gossip is rampant. Because my sister wanted to fight her ex for sole custody, she became a pariah. My sister, like anyone else, only wanted a lifelong relationship and family. She honestly thought that this girl was the one. Unfortunately for my sister, that relationship didn’t last any longer than any of her previous gay relationships. When the partner suggested that a kid would make their relationship stronger, my sister bought it. As soon as my niece was born, she pressured my sister into signing the papers. That week, the partner moved out. The average gay relationship seems to be around 5 and a half years. It could be argued that the my sister drove each of her partners away after five years. But her previous partner’s relationships didn’t last any longer. My sister’s last partner is already separated from the girl she left my sister for.

            Maybe it’s not scientific, but it seems only logical to assume that gay relationships are shorter-lived, harder to come by, harder to hold onto, and the break ups are much worse since the small community of gay friends are so polarized to one partner or the other. The losing partner is distanced even by those who weren’t that loyal to even the winning partner.

            I realize that just living attracts some level of risk. We can’t say that anything causing harm to others is necessarily sinful. But the fact remains that we do stuff that hurts other people. Even people who intend to honor God and love their neighbor, screw stuff up righteously. The whole issue of whether or not homosexuality is a sin or not, is like a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between opponents. Just when I think I’ve decided one way, the ball takes another bounce. What I do notice, is that the things in our lives that bring out pride, lying or selfishness, I call it sin. Maybe it’s a case of misappropriating the symptoms and applying them to something that isn’t the true cause. Forgive us all Lord. We know not what we do.

            Sorry for lengthy post. Peace to you.

          • MattPatt

            No, the assumption that same-sex relationships are inherently worse or more fragile than opposite-sex ones is not logical at all. You are operating under a very different definition of “logical” than I do. I am reminded of John’s interview with the CEO of the Trevor Project, in which they discussed statistics on suicide rates and the fallacious assumption that because LGBTQ individuals attempt or complete suicide at higher rates than the rest of the population, there must be something intrinsic about being LGBTQ that causes suicidal ideation. This is in fact an entirely twisted line of reasoning, but it’s very seductive if you start with a pre-existing opinion that there’s something wrong with being LGBTQ.

          • MattPatt

            No, the assumption that same-sex relationships are inherently worse or more fragile than opposite-sex ones is not logical at all. You are operating under a very different definition of “logical” than I do. I am reminded of John’s interview with the CEO of the Trevor Project, in which they discussed statistics on suicide rates and the fallacious assumption that because LGBTQ individuals attempt or complete suicide at higher rates than the rest of the population, there must be something intrinsic about being LGBTQ that causes suicidal ideation. This is in fact an entirely twisted line of reasoning, but it’s very seductive if you start with a pre-existing opinion that there’s something wrong with being LGBTQ.

          • Suz

            I agree that we often give more leeway to people who have been victimized, and it is somewhat dishonest. However, everything that happened to your sister, happens to gay and straight people every day, and it has nothing to do with her being gay. I could read your description of her relationship, assume that her ex is a man, and suppose that she has bad taste in men. If she were straight, would you assume that her problem is her attraction to unreliable partners, or her attraction to males in general? Being gay is not the cause of her problems. Becoming deeply involved with an unsuitable partner is. The gender of that partner is totally irrelevant, and is a distraction from the real issues in her relationships. You cannot help or even support her if you can’t accept that, and I do hope support is your goal. My guess is that she and her ex both made a lot of mistakes, but homosexuality itself is not one of them.

            Peace right back to you, and your sister.

          • Anonymous

            Exactly. Boy, you are good at this, Suz.

          • Suz

            Thanks, John!

          • Suz

            Also, I’d like to add that it’s OK to be ambivalent about whether or not homosexuality is a sin. Eventually, you will find an answer you can live with. Most people settle on shallow answers because they don’t have to closely scrutinize the issue; I probably wouldn’t have thought much about it if I didn’t have gay friends that I love deeply. Do yourself a favor, and suspend judgment on that specific issue. Try to address your sister’s troubles as if she were “normal’” just like you. I think you will find that she IS normal. Try not to confuse her sexuality with her real problems. I’m not saying that it isn’t related, because it does limit her choices in many ways, but it doesn’t define her choices. May I ask how old you are? In some ways you seem very young/open/naive, and yet you seem very thoughtful and mature; you seem to have the wisdom to pursue the right questions.

          • Suz

            Sheesh! I just re-read this. I hope it doesn’t come across as patronizing; that was certainly not my intent! I think I meant to say that you display a refreshing combination of wisdom and openness. I’ll just keep quiet over here while I chew on my foot.

          • Anonymous

            Don’t be silly. You’re awesome.

          • Anonymous

            Don’t be silly. You’re awesome.

    • Anonymous

      I know that a fair number of pastors use my posts on the gay/Xtian “issue” to teach/discuss with. Maybe send your pastor to them, and see what he thinks.

  • http://www.livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Ensom

    Orthodox Christian -

    God damn it… You’re right.

    I must tell you, though, I hadn’t had my second cup of coffee yet! I grew up as a Christian (am not one any longer) so I am quite well-educated in Biblical-terms-for-sexual-deviancy-and-sinful-behavior. As you can probably imagine, distinguishing between those is a top-priority for me, actually, because I really love deciding on God’s behalf whether people are sinful or not. Gotta keep these sinners in the right categories!!! That’s what Jesus was all about, right? I don’t know what I was thinking. Thank you for correcting me.

    Maybe you can help me out with the proper term for Christians-who-judge-other-people-and-have-porno-addictions-and/or-can’t-make-eye-contact-with-me-because-they-are-checking-me-out-even-as-they-tell-me-I’m-going-to-hell-and-judge-homosexuals. I’ve been walking around calling them hypocrites but there had got to be a more accurate term. Help me out, here!

  • http://www.livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Ensom

    And John….I would still be a Presbyterian if they had had padded pews. But it was so uncomfortable, now I’m not even a Christian.

    • Anonymous

      This is soooo funny!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1554973255 Erika Beseda-Allen

    once again i am blown away at your wisdom and commitment to sharing and practicing the true commandment of “love thy neighbor”. perfect

    and my church has really nice cushions.
    and
    Do you really think God dictated the Bible in American English, you insufferable drooling troglodyte?”
    is my new favorite quote ever.

    • Anonymous

      Let me know how it goes the first time you use it, Erika.

  • http://shadsie.deviantart.com/ Shadsie

    I just thought of something that needs to be handled with care…

    Bringing this argument to conservative Christians who, in sexual proclivity, are people like me. Conveying to asexual loners that a life lived without physical intimacy is unfair may fall on deaf ears, or may take a while to get through…

    One of the reasons I why, even just a few years ago, I felt I could sit on my High Horse of Judgement is because I never saw why sex and sexual desire or even romantic love were such a big fat hairy deal. I just *didn’t get it.* Our society, our media, anyway, loves to purport an image of “If you’re past a certain age and you aren’t having sex, something is WRONG with you” and it’s something that I’ve always *resisted* tooth and nail. Frankly, I just don’t have the desire. I’ve come to accept that I am what most (of the Internet, at least) would call an “aesexual.” I’m not “aromantic.” I do live with someone currently whom I like spending time – we’ve just always been more interested in, say, watching movies together than going to bed. It seems to me that most people just feel this overwhelming desire in the loins to express their love to someone and/or lose their virginity that I *just don’t share or even fully understand.*

    The church I joined up with as a teenager outright praised my loner’s tendencies/lack of interest in that which most teens are interested in. This reinforced the “no sex = good” thing in my mind. Other people, however, have sometimes treated me as or even outright called me subhuman for not being a “normal” sexual being. It would seem that the media/society at large shares that “not fully human unless sex” sentiment – this pretty much created a *backlash* in me for a while. As in, “Gee, if people can’t CONTROL THEMSELVES like I do, than yeah, I can tell them what sinners they are.” And “If I can live a non-sexual life with ease, how frickin’ hard is it for people to control their pants?”

    I’ve come to realize that, no, not everyone is a “loner-personality” like I am and that, yeah, I’m not self-controlled so much as the world is right – I AM abnormal (but, that’s it’s okay. It’s okay for me to be myself).

    - The bottom line being is that I shouldn’t expect or demand of the rest of the world/other people to be like me. It took me a little while to stop and to try to “see through other people’s eyes.”

    It is unfair to ask that people live without love – just be careful of running into people who are happy without it – it might take some hammering to get them to “get it.”

  • Anna

    Cheryl, what happens with women is generally linked with what happens with gays; that is why conservative churches do not ordain either. Women and gays are just hopelessly entangled with s-e-x, and we can’t have that behind the pulpit.

    John, my church has comfy pew cushions but they are a shade of orange that was fashionable in 1972, which offends my a — . . . aesthetics. And new upholstery is so expensive.

    • http://www.livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Ensom

      I know, Anna. It’s frustrating. If I were a Christian still, I would try to do something about this, but I’ve happily moved on to exert my energy elsewhere. I’m glad my girls won’t grow up in the (not-padded) pews wondering why penises have better God-radars than vaginas. Oh, sorry…just the penises that like vaginas, not the…well you know what i mean…

      • Diana A.

        Hey Cheryl:

        Kind of off-topic but have you ever read Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.” For some reason, I think you’d enjoy it–though I could be wrong.

        • http://www.livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Ensom

          I HAVE read it and I LOVE it. Have you read Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarisa Pinkola Estes? Incredible. Two different, equally beautiful expressions of femininity and spirituality with a lovely bit of Jungian thought mixed in. Both really wonderful storytellers, too, but also in really different ways. What I wouldn’t give to sit in a room with those two.

          • Diana A.

            Yes, I’ve read Women Who Run with the Wolves as well. And I agree that they’re both cool books.

          • Anonymous

            I read Women Who Skip with Kangaroos. I didn’t get it at all.

          • http://www.livinginabeautifulmess.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Ensom

            haha, John. :)

  • Anonymous

    Just so people know: today’s champion of conservative Christianity–the person who today commented first under the name Orthodox Christian, and then under a couple of other names—has taken to posting comments here using my name and email address (which then of course also pulls up my avatar photo). He got away with that because when I originally blocked him from the site, I chose not to block his actual IP address–but rather just his screen names—on the slight chance that someone else shsaring his IP address might ever care to comment on my blog. So, of course, now I’ve had to block that IP address, also. Can you imagine? THIS is the guy who was telling everyone else what their proper moral construct should be. Yikes.

  • http://williamely.name William Ely

    Wow, nicely said, John. Although I’m not sure why the gay community even bothers with Christianity to begin with.

    Why put so much effort into being part of a community that hates and fears you? The better solution would be to stay outside of it where people are far more accepting of alternate lifestyles. The whole struggle is unnecessary to begin with.

    Religion is the last refuge of hatred. There, it is often (not always, obviously) sheltered and allowed to flourish under the banner of “righteousness”.

    • Anonymous

      “Religion is the last refuge of hatred.” Consider how one-sided, close-minded, intolerant, and purely hateful this is, Ely.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe I misunderstand why homosexuality should not be considered a sin. The notion that a fair minded God would not condemn a believer to a life devoid of sexual expression is understandable, yes. Such expectation on a holy God’s behalf is harsh enough in our thinking, let alone that the same expectation coming from another wretched little pus-headed sinner like you or me.

    The eunuchs Jesus refers to in Matt 19:12, reminds me, in a way, of the thinking surrounding the idea of a life devoid of sexual expression. The born eunuch doesn’t know what he’s missing. The self-made eunuch may remember the thrill of yesterday, but it obviously doesn’t compare to the glories of tomorrow anticipated for the sacrifice made today. The eunuch made by force comes closest to what I understand as your notion of implacable cruelty on the part of the church’s expectation that gay Christians abandon sexual expression forever. Just because I believe that homosexuality is a sin, doesn’t give me the authority to enforce that belief in anybody’s life but my own. If God was faithful to expose my sin to me, He’s just as faithful to do likewise with my neighbor. If I believe my brother is in sin, I think the best thing I can do for his eternal security is to pray privately and love publicly. If they ask me, I will give them my 2 cents.

    If God asks me to give up sex for a lifetime, I’ll do my damnedest. Will I fail? Probably. Will I lose God’s love? No. But I can’t speak for anyone but myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

    i have to agree with the commenters that suggest that sexual intimacy isn’t necessary to experience God’s love. that much said, i also agree with the commenters who point out that arbitrarily excluding a whole class of people from the former isn’t very nice. i think the most appropriate “logical” analysis is indeed to reject the notion that homosexuality is a sin. my reasoning: Jesus himself never talked about it. furthermore, Paul generally did, as one commenter above also observed, recognize that Christianity was “culturally relative”. it was improper for Jews to eat pork, shellfish and a number of other foods which were ritually unclean. it was improper for them to eschew circumcision. but Paul says that Jewish Christians and non-Jewish Christians should each respect each other’s faith. i’m sure he would think people that have engrafted Christianity onto modern culture (or is that the other way round?) would be equally as deserving of respect. and as for the “2,000 years of tradition”, the issue wasn’t even THOUGHT of until the last few decades brought us the science to know homosexuality isn’t a choice.

    • Anonymous

      Hey, John. Relative to your first sentence here, what I actually said in the post was, “…They know that it will mean putting themselves squarely in the position of blocking from another the full love of God.” The word “full” in that sentence is real important, because I wanted to make sure to signal that I was referring, in essence, to ALL the aspects of love that most people accept as … well, awesomely good.

      • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

        isn’t that quoted passage (which i did not disagree with) kind of inconsistent on its face with the notion that homosexuality is a sin?

        • Anonymous

          I’m sorry: not following you here.

          • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

            that’s because i accidentally posted a thought in progress. i tried to clean it up.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    We’ve been out of our sanctuary for a few months due to roof problems, holding services in the Fireside Room on nice soft padded chairs. My arse has greatly appreciated the respite. But I miss the big pipe organ. I guess its a decent trade, a happy butt for a piano instead.

    • Anonymous

      “Happy Butts vs. Pianos.” Sounds like a new TLC reality show….

  • Gail D.

    John, I completely agree with you. And this one issue, all by itself, is enough to keep me as far away as possible from Christianity. It is so clearly symbolic of the exclusion Christians have erected between themselves and everyone else. You know, “if you don’t believe exactly like I do, you’re going to hell” attitude. My sister is a fundamentalist Christian, and I belong to Unity, and we’re likewise as far apart as possible politicallly. I really don’t think fundamentalist Christians are Christians at all but rather are cult members! Needless to say, my sister and I are NOT close–I’ve had Christianity up to here! (Figuratively speaking)

    Gail D., Hemet, CA

    • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

      I kind of agree with your penultimate sentence… many fundamentalists worship the Bible but don’t even see the word of God in it. Kind of sad, really. Peace.

  • Anonymous

    Perfect, John. That’s what this post is.

  • MartinMcCabe

    Dear John,

    I’m a gay Christian. I come from a pretty conservative church background. My parents don’t want anything to do with my partner of 10 years. But I have a church who loves us both. My partner isn’t a believer and my church likes him more than they like me. That’s okay with me. He’s more likable. A lot of us Christians aren’t as likable as we’d like to think we are or as likable as we should be. I guess this is obvious from some of the comments on here.

    Anyway, thanks for being a champion for us. A lot of people, even my Christian friends, wonder why I’m still a Christian. If it were about what Christians do and say, I probably wouldn’t be. But I decided I’m not letting the assholes ambush my faith. And I found a great community to be a part of where I’m loved and allowed to use my gifts. You give me and others hope.

    I have a total man-crush on you!

    • Anonymous

      What a great thing to read just before I go to bed. Thanks for this love, Martin; it means a lot to me. (Bummer about your parents. That’s so insane.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1041994839 Scott George

    Hi john, i’ve been following you for a while and haven’t commented for a long while, but thank you for keeping the conversation going, sometimes I have to avoid the comment section because it makes me just mad as hell… you are doing many of us a great service. Thanks, Scott George

  • Bryanwbe

    The problem I see with your argument John is that you seem to consider romantic love as the ultimate form and expression of love. It is not. This just seems to be an Agape vs. Eros argument. While repressing homosexual desires will not allow a person to experience Eros types of love relationships, this does not cut someone off from experiencing the Agape love, which is the ultimate type of love anyone could experience or express.

    • Anonymous

      What I actually said in the post was, “…They know that it will mean putting themselves squarely in the position of blocking from another the full love of God.” The word “full” in that sentence is real important, because I wanted to make sure to signal that I was referring, in essence, to ALL the aspects of love that most people accept as … well, awesomely good. Of course I understand the difference between agape and eros. But I think you’re taking those to mean, “lust,” and “Godly love,” which is only half right.

    • Drew

      I have good friends and family, Christians among them, but I am reminded daily of my 2nd class status as single man. There is so much that is tied up in a romantic relationship and that which ripples out from it that goes way beyond sex: loyalty, time, finances, touch, meaning, sacrifice, permanence. Let’s face it: when push comes to shove and the going gets tough and it’s time to hunker down in your bunker Agape takes a back seat. (Please forgive the mixed metaphors.)

      The same church that would deny me an intimate relationship with another guy almost invariably fail to step into the gap.

      • Anonymous

        Drew, I’m one who believes that if Agape is behind the wheel instead of the back seat, all of the other forms of affection are free to concentrate on their fullness. It’s not the place of the church to deny you anything. The Proverbs say that a man does what is right in his own eyes, but the Lord searches his heart. Don’t forget that the church makes the same blunders that we all do. If you aren’t a Christian, I guess I’m a little blurry on how you would want the church to step into the gap. If you are wanting or waiting for them to support same sex marriage, I’d imagine that it could happen. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

        Seems to me that any interpretation of Scripture is up to the individual believer and not a sect, a denomination, a priest, a vicar, or a pastor. Personally I believe God is concerned with our heart…not our wang, tang, or how we bang. I believe God is no more disappointed by a man who sleeps around with other men, than He is with a man who sleeps around with women. Such existence is hedonistic and disrespectful of self and others. Whether we trust God or not, we are His masterpiece…His poem. So treasured that He came to live among us, eat with us, share our sickness, our woes, and to die for us while we were still against Him.

        Do what you will and forget about what the church will or won’t do for you. None of us are perfect and we all fall way short of righteous. What I said in the first line of my response is how I TRY to live my life and my faith. Seek first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, and everything else we desire or need will be added to us. No relationship can survive without agape. Conditions will always be broken, and the towel will always be thrown in. The less agape we receive, the less we have to give and the quicker we move from relationship to relationship. If we can’t love without conditions, we are not truly loving. Man has not gotten it right, and the church has not gotten it right either. But we…individually, by earnestly seeking God in spirit and in truth, can know unconditional love. Once someone honestly has that, we start to see the beauty that was intended, instead of the mess that we all to often make of the world.

        His peace, Drew.

    • Diana A.

      And again, how easy it is for heterosexuals to cheerfully deny homosexuals certain types of love while not holding ourselves to the same expectations. And please don’t bring up the whole “we have to wait until we’re married so that means we make sacrifices too” argument. That doesn’t even come close to the type of sacrifice we’re telling gay people they have to make in order to be right with God.

      • Anonymous

        So true it’s … absurd that anyone could argue it. Perfectly said.

  • http://www.vastvariety.net/ Amradorn

    “Christians are no longer arguing that people aren’t born gay—the “it’s a choice” train finally ground to a stop. Now only truly recalcitrant Christians still cling to the cruel absurdity that if a homosexual will only be Christian enough, Jesus will turn them straight.”

    Sadly there are a lot of commentators at the Iowa Republican that still cling to that bogus theory.

  • Anonymous

    Life is not so black or white…

    Hermaphrodites (actually refered to now as intersexed) – born with both genetalia – usually assigned a gender at birth by the scalpel of a surgeon.

    It is estimated that 1 in 2,000 children, or 5 children per day in the U.S., are born intersexed. (http://www.intersexinitiative.org/articles/intersex-faq.html)

    What if the surgeon gets it wrong? That person may be attracted to the sex that has been *assigned* to him/herself, and may think of themselves as gay. So, what, they should be celibate? Or do they get a free pass? And what about their partners?

    To those of you who are definitively black or white when it comes to scripture, how do you reconcile the REAL LIFE SCENARIOS that are grey… that aren’t addressed by scripture?

    Do you simply shrug them off, or do you contemplate the nature of a *loving* God?

    And, seriously, if homosexuality is such a ginormous sin…why didn’t Jesus address it at least once?

    Jesus came to Earth as man. He lived among “grey.” Man took Jesus’ life and the words of the Bible to create how many different denominations that were further split into how many offshoots of denominations? And based on how many interpretations of the Bible?

    Hmmm… seems like it’s man’s nature to create black and white institutions *of their own limited understanding* (and within their own comfort zones).

    Ever stop to think that maybe God is bigger than black or white…even grey? He created the rainbow, after all.

  • Jo

    Starting a new comment thread instigated by a question related to an experience that seems to coincide with this post:

    My Christian friend–we’ll call him “John”–and ex-boyfriend is dating another guy (Note: at one point in time he claimed he needed to be celibate). My husband and I are both good friends with John and enjoy Christian community with him. We went on a double date with John and his man last Friday night. We love John’s heart and I’ve never seen him so happy. He’s confessed a lot of things to us about his sexual orientation (John called them confessions…I’m not just labeling), but I’d say my husband and I are confused about how to love him and not imply the message of “you must live without love.”

    My conviction is that God designed males and females to have the highest standard of intimacy (after humans with God) and populate the earth–it was not his original intention for a man and man to experience the same type of “marital” intimacy since it doesn’t reflect His relationship with His church, though He does love all His people (that might sound narrow, but it’s the best way I can think to say it right now.)

    I would like to know how Jesus would love our friend John. (And I will ask Him.) But, I believe John could be preparing himself for some serious emotional suffering if his boyfriend says no to him at some point or others in the church get nasty. We would like to protect him from these things. . .

    I would appreciate any thoughts or feedback from ya’lls (and advice from Mr. Shore, of course.)

    Thanks!

    • Suz

      Have you read the comments here? Lots of really good insights. Let me assure of one thing. Jesus loves “John” EXACTLY the same way he loves you – without conditions or reservations. Can you do the same thing? How deeply have you questioned your convictions? You seem to be quite certain of God’s intentions. How deeply have you questioned the motives of the people who taught you that there’s anything “wrong” with your friend? (from the prophets, through the scribes, councils, interpreters and translators, right down to your local preacher) Read all of the comments. You won’t get all the answers, but you’ll get some phenomenal questions to ask yourself.

  • http://www.nathantaylor.net.au Rabid_womble

    When I came out to my parents that is exactly what they said. “Love is nothing to base your life on. Just find a good woman and marry her.” (How cruel to her! How ignorant of love!)

    However, having had a subjective experience of loneliness (and almost 15 years struggling with depression/despair) I have also had the subjective experience of love. Not the physical rutting of love (or at least not just) but the emotional connection of being with someone you couldn’t imagine life without. Of aching for the presence of someone when they are not there. Of feeling your heart leap for joy when they enter the room.

    I consider myself amongst the most fortunate category of people and those 15 years as nothing. (Somewhat like the merchant and the black pearl parable).


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