Jesus Christ: Not a Dick; Not a Social Worker Who Got Mugged

ThruWay ChristiansRemember when reading my blog was fun?

Yeah, those days are over. Sorry. But I’m running a cult now. And say what you will about cults, but they’re not funny.

Oh sure, occasionally the so-called Brady Bunch was mildly amusing. But I think we’ve all seen that manic gleam in Alice’s eyes. I think we can all agree the fun stopped in that house once the cameras were off.

Anyway, what a week! Many improvements in the ThruWay Christians’ brand-new website and forum. And TWC got its logo, courtesy of famed Logomeister Lisa Salazar. (Soon, all my minions will be wearing a pendant of the TWC logo. That’s how they’ll know each other in public. To secure final identification between members, we will next need a secret handshake. The one I’ve developed so far involves tongue-wagging, one’s right nostril and a hip-bump. Still honing.)

But to this post’s pertinent primary point:

For the record, ThruWay Christians are no more naturally affiliated with the left than we are the right.

We loathe how the right throws under the train gays and, in too many way, anyone who’s not Christian.

But we’re also extremely not crazy about how the left rejects the idea—or waffles so hard on it that it amounts to rejecting—that, to quote the teen version of the TWC founding doc, “Jesus Christ was, and is, absolutely real. He performed miracles (duh: he was God); he sacrificed himself on the cross so that everyone could be forever reconciled with God; he rose from the dead; he left behind, for everyone, the Holy Spirit.”

Most “progressive” Christians can’t take that clear, Gospel-based definition of God. In the main they prefer the idea that Jesus Christ was essentially an inspiring social worker who got mugged.

Forget that. We say: If you’re in, get all the way in. Commit to Jesus. He sure committed to you, we say.

And we’re really not thrilled with how soooooo many Christians on the left don’t quite renounce the idea that homosexuality is a sin. They always come agonizingly close to saying that—but don’t.

Exhibit A: This, under “What We’re All About” on the website of The Christian Left:

The Christian Left sometimes differs from other Christian political groups on issues including homosexuality. This is often not a matter of different religious ideas, but one of focus — viewing the prohibitions against killing, or the criticism of concentrations of wealth, as far more important than social issues emphasized by the religious right, such as opposition to active homosexuality. In this case, similar to philosophies expressed by writers such as C.S. Lewis, these members of the Christian Left believe homosexual sex to be overemphasized when compared with issues relating to social justice, or even matters of sexual morality involving heterosexual sex. Bottom Line: We welcome ALL to their place at God’s table, just as they are. All means ALL. No exceptions. We reject all attempts to define our Faith by the two wedge issues of Gay Marriage and Abortion. [Bolding theirs.]

Would they like a little syrup with that waffle? Because they’ll need something sweeter than “We welcome all” to choke down that doughy lump.

That statement isn’t good enough. Okay? Not. Good. Enough.

Not good enough! Commit! Say that homosexuality is an offense against God, or say it’s not! But don’t duck and hide and wiggle and squirm. Stand up, already. Proudly declaring that you don’t want to get your hands dirty doesn’t fix the car.

Are you listening, leaders of what used to be the emergent church before you guys waffled that movement straight into the ground? We know you have your wallet to protect; we know your fear of alienating your church-based readership keeps you from making a clear declaration about what you really believe about Christianity and gays. But that doesn’t make not saying it right. It’s not fair of you to keep gays locked in the basement so that you can keep partying upstairs.

And it hurts me to say these things. In practical terms, even. Because … well, for instance, “The Christian Left” likes ThruWay Christians. On their Facebook page (which has an impressive 7,102 members), they’ve listed this, my personal website, as one of their “Favorite Pages.”

And Spencer Burke, pretty much the founding father of the emergent church, publicly praised my work.

I like Spencer Burke. He’s a totally nice guy! And I’m sure I’d like whomever is behind “The Christian Left.” How could I not? I find it really hard not to like people who like me. Because … you know: we have so much in common.

But I have serious issues with any sort of Christian organization or leader who, on the one hand, claims to be liberal or “progressive,” but on the other hand won’t publicly commit on the gay issue. That’s not being on the left. That’s pretending to be on the left. How is that helping? If you’re at a KKK rally in a white hood and robe, who cares what you really think? Who cares if you’re really against racism? You’re at the rally. You’re wearing the outfit. You’re standing with the other KKK morons.

Not helping!

So, to reiterate: We ThruWay Christians have issues with those on the left; and we have issues with those on the right.

Hence our thruway between the two.

Now let’s get those pendants made!


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  • John,

    As a recovering Fundamentalist who is now a member of an All Are Welcome church (and grateful beyond measure for having found it on a path to a healthier and more fulfilling relationship and understanding of the Divine) and who signed up for the ThruWay Christians, not because I agreed with everything that was listed in the founding document, but in spite of there being a creed attached to the group at all and because I like your writing and the people and the dialogue I find here and because I’m insatiably curious and have a passion for building understanding….I have a couple of thoughts. Go figure.

    When the Cordoba House (aka Ground Zero Mosque) issue lit up the media and sparked public debate including among my facebook friends, a Jewish acquaintance criticized Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (the imam for the proposed community center) for in the past not specifically labeling certain Palestinian groups as terrorist organizations or at least terrorist sympathizers. Stick with me here. I did not know enough about Imam Rauf to unconditionally endorse him or his plans, but everything I did know about him pointed to his moderate nature, his Sufi tradition, his work toward peace, his commitment to compassion, and his efforts to build interfaith understanding and reconciliation. How the situation appeared to me was that it worked against the core principles Imam Rauf promotes to say what another group wanted him to say in the way in which they wanted him to say it in order to achieve a favorable impression in their eyes. His lack of bending to the demands of groups that shared the opinion of my Jewish friend actually showed insight into the larger issues at hand and grace on his part, ie: While it may or may not be his personal opinion that certain Palestinian groups are terrorist organizations, it does not promote the cause of peace or bridge building for him to call them that.

    My point is this, I get that there are some on the Christian Left who will not commit on some issues and prefer to give a “yeah, but” answer – who won’t publicly say what they privately believe. But there are many within the faith who will no longer yield to creeds that demand or imply adherence in order to be viewed favorably by others within the faith because they are trying to move the faith, or at least their practice of it, away from creed and dogma. It is a movement that reveres expressing one’s faith through following the way of Jesus above professions of belief in the “proper set of beliefs” about Jesus or Christianity, deeds over creeds – that agrees with St. Francis (or someone very familiar with the philosophy of St. Francis) when he said that we should “preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

    From my experience, those who prefer to advance the idea that all are welcome rather than “Homosexuality is not a sin” do so in order to accomplish two goals.1) Let LGBT individuals know that their church is gay friendly and 2) promote the positive message in the interfaith community that they want to promote without making it any more of a wedge issue with other denominations than it already is.

    The Left leaning, all are welcome people I know are all welcoming because they are – period. This includes those who are willing to say Homosexuality is clearly not a sin as well as those who are not yet ready to do so, believing that the spiritual journey is a lifetime process, one of learning and growing based on experience and not an event.

    Thank you for all you do to advance the cause of interfaith dialogue.


  • Works for me, man. I’m certainly “left” of TWC, and am guilty of the waffling on foundational statement #1. In my defense, though, my understanding of God and my relationship with Him doesn’t depend on any way on whether or not Jesus was fully God, nor if his sacrifice was required for atonement. For me, Golgotha’s power was in its example of the purest form of God’s sacrificial love, and the ability to meet violence and hate with peace and forgiveness. My picture of God’s grace is that he can provide it when he wants, with or without a bloody goat or a crucified self.

    So while my waffling on Jesus’ divinity may be frustrating to TWC and to the right, it’s mostly irrlevant to my own walk. I do get what you’re saying with the social worker thing, and my vision of him is certainly higher than that. I just don’t personally have the need to go 100% or 0% on his divinity, and see it more as a spectrum with each of us having a positive number.

    Homosexuality, however, I can stand strongly on. I do NOT believe it’s a sin.

    Loved the thruway definition with the image of a clearly defined, yet separate path from the left and right.

  • To Redlefty and Christy (below): When you write this kind of stuff–by which I mean the post itself–all you have time/space to do is paint in these big, broad strokes. And those kinds of strokes are important, and good to do. But it allows for no finesse, really. (Which is why a TWC book will be good to write.) What I like about the blog is that that it’s here, in the comments section to the posts, where the kind of fine-honing, and real clarification and exploration happens. (And that’s why we built the TWC forum: that’s by far the best place for that sort of dialogue, since it doesn’t disappear in two days.)

    Anyway, I hear you both, and much appreciate what you’ve said. Thanks to you both for taking the time to say so well what you have.

  • Kara

    For me, Golgotha’s power was in its example of the purest form of God’s sacrificial love, and the ability to meet violence and hate with peace and forgiveness. My picture of God’s grace is that he can provide it when he wants, with or without a bloody goat or a crucified self.

    Redlefty, I love this.

    Homosexuality, however, I can stand strongly on. I do NOT believe it’s a sin.

    And this.

    Just wanted to second both of those comments emphatically.

    To throw in my own thoughts on the Christian left, one area where I find myself differing from most liberal Christians is that I believe the Bible is special. Not perfect/without any error, but still special. And useful.

    For me, Jesus-as-God is one of the most important parts of Christianity. When my church does communion, we say it’s to remember Jesus as God who came, lived among us, and promises to come again. Emmanuel, “God With Us,” is a huge comfort to me, in contrast to the distant God I learned about in childhood.

    Also, I hate the Jesus-as-soft-spoken-hippie routine. I believe he was liberal (to the extent that one can apply that term to 2000 years ago), but I also remember him tossing temple tables and calling Pharisees a brood of vipers and generally causing a disturbance over his radical belief in the Kingdom of God. Jesus was a badass, and I hate when people water that down.

  • Aw c’mon, we all know that anyone left of me is a hippie and anyone right of me is a legalist. Broad strokes make life so much easier!

    I’m registering for the forum today; see you guys there.

  • The forum is now, Red. You’re sharp at this stuff. Let us know what we can do to improve it. And suggest/start forum topics, if any good ones occur to you. Thanks, brohammand.

  • You’re too kind, and I agree on the 100% on the special nature of the bible. Although I may critique my church’s claims of inerrancy I sure keep coming back to the book a whole lot.

    And amen on the strength of Jesus. One of my favorite examples:

    “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: `And he was numbered with the transgressors’ ; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied. “

    Only badasses tell people to sell their clothes and use the money to buy swords before imminent arrest by the authorities. Scholars debate the importance of this moment since later on Jesus rebuked Peter for actually using the sword, but I think the moment still stands.

  • THANK YOU, John, for being up a topic that *should* be obvious to Christian “progressives”, “emergents”, “grace-filled-ers”, etc.

    Sorry to second the reality check, but — Those who support *any* part of the “God condemns Gays” philosophy (including the waffle con “We support everyone’s ideas about whether God condemns Gays”) are *full* participants in the self-serving theology machine that produces Gay (and straight) people who despise themselves (with all the alcoholism, trashed lives, suicide, etc that goes with that) and who despise Jesus Christ (because they assume He’s just as big a hypocritical, destructive, fake-love asshat as the “right” *and* “left”-wing Christians who claim to be following Him). Whether “right” or “left”, “traditional” or “emergent”, “law-followers” or “grace”, those who fail or refuse to draw a moral line in the sand and proclaim to evil in some heroic Gandalfish fashion “You shall not pass!” are all versions of each other claiming to be different. Like the same brand of cow manure, but in different colored bags.

    How can I say that? Because there is a wide difference between “welcoming all” and allowing even hate-beliefs full run of one’s “lovefest”, and “welcoming all” but being not only public but insistent that while haters *are* loved and welcome, their hate and its consequences (to Gays, to women, whoever) will NOT be tolerated or acknowledged as just another valid point of view in a fellowship that follows Jesus Christ. There is a huge difference between allowing people who hate (even in a “loving” way) to help define what your fellowship means, and allowing people who hate/love-hate a place at the table but no chance to define your fellowship.

    When asked about good churches, we advise both Gays and straights all the time that an easy way to test whether a particular church or fellowship is truly about Jesus — and therefore truly a safe, real place — or if its just another faked, self-serving God-club, is to find out how they handle what our culture counts as the “little” evils — the “evils” that don’t really “count” — including the “little” evil of believing God condemns Gays.

    We say: ‘Does the church claim God condemns Gays? Or does it claim to be “welcoming” but is also “welcoming” to those whose ideas and attitudes actively hurt people? Does it claim to be about “inclusion” but that means wife-beaters, neo-nazis, or Gay-haters are sitting on its board, running its classes, and leading its services because it refuses to exclude evil from the fellowship of God? Does it claim to be about Jesus and justice, but then doesn’t draw lines between what’s good and what’s evil to make justice, as Jesus did? Then pinch your nose against the stink and run, don’t walk, away: their theology is about numbers, money, and self-service, just like all the other failed, anti-Jesus churches of the last 1,700 years.’

  • Ummmmm…so here it is. I still cannot make the jump and say homosexuality is not a sin. I totally get that there are different interpretations to the pertinent scriptures, and I just haven’t spent enough time studying to say one is correct over the other.

    Where I’m at, though, is respect and kindness to the LGBT folks. I’m not going to go around trying to change them, and I always wish God’s love and presence for them…because what is clear to me is that even if homosexuality is a sin, it’s not big enough to keep anyone from God. He is very clear that nothing can keep us from him. I know folks who “struggle with same sex attraction” (their words) and their journey includes–in a sweepingly over-generalized term, which I’m not getting into right now–“fighting” it. I also know folks who have made peace with their homosexuality and are carrying forward as such. In both cases I’m confident that they know & love Jesus, and I feel safe leaving their journeys in his hands.

    I also REALLY want to make friends with Clinton Kelly so he can help me dress well.

    SO am I allowed in the Thruway group, or am I too waffley?

  • BTW, your cult could be funny IF you gave everyone matching Snuggies. Animal print ones–hilarious.

  • Debra

    I like the part when the disciples were travelling and were hungry. They went into the place in the local church where only the priests were allowed and ate the food used as offerings. Jesus and His little band of bad asses.

    When the Spirit came to them on the day of Pentecost and caused them all to speak in different languages, the people of the town came round saying the disciples were drunk. Peter’s reply was “It’s 10:00 in the morning, we’re not drunk”, as if to say, were it 10:00 at night, strong possibility they could be drunk.

  • Of course you can join, Skerrib. We’d be lucky to have you.

  • “They’re not Snuggies — they’re holy vestments! Yeah, that’s it…”

  • Allen

    I have to say, the term “fake-love asshat” gave me great joy, Lynne. You are a poet with your prose!

    I’ve had a fairly linear journey with the church as a gay Christian, in two parts:

    not mentioned, ignored, denied; then

    tolerated, included (my personal least fave), welcomed, affirmed and loved.

    When it comes to communities of faith, “waffle” should only be used as a noun, with maple syrup, never as a verb!

  • Redwifey

    So while my waffling on Jesus’ divinity may be frustrating to TWC and to the right

    To complete the list, you should have included your wife in the list of those frustrated with your waffling. 🙂

    Hi, John!! *redwifey waves*

  • I want one. Leopard-print. Clouded-leoapard if possible.

  • DR

    I also REALLY want to make friends with Clinton Kelly so he can help me dress well.>>>

    I met him at the San Francisco Ferry terminal farmer’s market! Or I should say I stalked him a little. Semantics! he’s awfully tall and awfully nice.

  • Reed

    My criterion for a welcoming/affirming church: if the church will bless buildings, cars, inanimate objects, pets, and animals, but NOT the loving union of two people, it can shove its “acceptance” and “toleration” and faux “welcoming” PC language onto the dustbin of history.

  • Tim

    Oh for crap sake! Look, I am a Christian. I am also an American and a registered republican. I wasn’t a republican when I came to faith in Christ. I was an American and a registered democrat. Above all, I am a child of God and a brother to all who embrace Christ. I will have differences with people of other cultures and other politics, but they are still my neighbors, and my God says to love them as I love myself. What I hate most about politics, is the tendency to pigeon-hole people. It seems to be easily assumed if I am a conservative Christian, I’m also a fundamentalist bigot, gay-bashing, abortion clinic picketer. Honestly, being a democrat didn’t magically make me pro-gay or pro-choice. Labeling Christians as progressive or fundamentalist is counter-productive to being Christian. When I look at what Christ did for me, I take off the political beer goggles and try to see Him as He really is. Apolitical.

    Dropping politics into the living water of faith, is as offensive to me, as dropping a deuce into the punch bowl. What a party killer.

  • DR

    People label themselves. And do you believe that Jesus is apolitical in this country? I believe that He is, but I see a lot of people using Jesus as an absolute tool to manipulate votes. Do you not?

  • I can’t say how great it is to come across Christians who embrace homosexuals as equals. Of course it is not a sin. I knew it wasn’t a sin when a fellow classmate of mine came out in college. We were at a fundamentalist Christian college, and I noticed that the teachers and students with the most courage and moral character were the first and only ones to support him. It’s not rocket science. I can’t help but notice, however, that whenever Christians take a step towards a more rational and compassionate view of the world (such as accepting homosexuality) it is always in the direction of secularism/atheism. Since the bible was (and still is) the only thing Christians could point to as “evidence” to support their prejudice, it would only follow that those who question revealed wisdom such as scripture would be the first to find no reason to hate homosexuality. Christians (such as yourself) have come so far, it’s exciting to think of where they’ll progress to next! Acceptance of reason, science, and critical thinking skills? The ability to accept academic and historical evidence concerning the bible? These are some of the last obstacles standing between religious prejudice and a global community of brothers and sisters. I believe Christians will take these steps in time, as they have on other issues, and will eventually find their way towards a more open, compassionate, and global view of humanity. Thanks for helping them get started in the journey…

  • Suz

    I agree with DR. You as an individual, clearly separate your politics from your faith, but the church does not. The Christian church in America has intentionally put itself at the center of our political system. This practice poisons both religion and the government.

  • Suz

    I love your name. Please keep coming back, we’re fond of the rational.

  • Don Rappe

    I believe that the distinctions left/right, conservative/liberal are only useful for forming stereotypes. Liberal theology would cease to be theology if it forgets to conserve the kerygma of the ancient confession “Lord Jesus Christ.” Conservative theology would be in error if it fails to remember that “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” A thinking person should be both liberal and conservative. The stereotypes pretend that some people have a portion of their brain switched off. Maybe not used much, but never completely off.

  • Don Rappe

    Although the first thought of wearing secret snuggies appeals to me, I’m pretty sure the cult that completed and preserved the early Gospel of Mark believed in being completely naked beneath their outer garment. So wearing snuggies may not be sufficiently conservative for us.

  • Don Rappe

    I’m too conservative to use syrup with high fructose corn sweetener in it, so I’ll bring some I make by mixing real corn syrup with real maple syrup, if you don’t mind. Butter not margarine, whipped cream from real cows, but shortening the batter with bacon grease is fine. I always get so hungry when the comments on these posts turns to waffles. Did I mention strawberries?

  • DR

    Lots of wisdom in this comment. I sense that’s the spirit in tone within the OP’s comment as well.

  • Katherine

    Wait a second I joined a cult?!?! My mom always warned me about this…funny thing is that if Thruway Christians is a Cult. Well then I am all about it. ( But I draw the line at drinking Kool-Aid or Flavor Aid or moving to the Jungle) It’s funny before I ever even knew about you or your blog John, I always knew that the Greatest Commandment was basically it for what God stood for. I knew that when I was a child. I considered that verse more important than John 3:16. I live in Georgia (Bible Belt Central) , and I always had a hard time fitting into a church. In fact I have been asked to leave a church because of how I felt about homosexuals and evolution. Because basically if you didn’t think just like everyone in that church and you spoke up, you were going to Hell and you were not Christian. (I was told that) I was also told to asked God for forgiveness and to repent for my blasphemy . Which I did not do because all I said was the Greatest Commandment that Jesus told us to live by. When I found you blog and you started your Thruway Christian group I can’t tell you how excited I was. I don’t even know how I stumbled onto you blog. Call it divine intervention. I am glad that God lead me in this direction. (Whatever direction that may be and trust me it’s not right or left) 🙂

  • It was a little different for me. I was raised republican and became a democrat as an adult. To me republicans are people who can’t remember their fairy tales. You see, in fairy tales Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. Republicans get this all messed up. They steal from the poor to give to the rich. Very classy. I’m sure our Father in heaven just loves seeing so many of his children embracing this evil philosophy.

    I mean it truly is almost to the point of republicans not just being wrong, but being evil as well. I’m not saying they are evil, don’t get me wrong. I mean it’s not like they try to prevent the poor and disadvantaged from getting basic services such as health care. Oh wait, they’ve got that covered too.

    Tim, I tell my family and I will tell you, those are two questions I would prepare to answer on the day of judgement if I was a conservative, Why did I support a political party that would steal from the rich and give to the poor and why did I try and prevent poor and disadvantaged people from getting medical care?

    But alas, Tim, all is not lost. You and many others may not see the difference, but I will assure you that your Father will certainly see the difference.

  • Sorry, in my post I said, “Tim, I tell my family and I will tell you, those are two questions I would prepare to answer on the day of judgement if I was a conservative,” Change conservative to republican in that statement.

    Also be aware that the points I brought up don’t even touch on the many points already brought up by other members of this forum.

  • Anne

    Okay, so John, please don’t hate me for asking this – and please don’t label me either – but I was wondering if you could explain to me why homosexuality is not a sin. I’m not interested in rhetoric or personal feelings – as I’m sure that you are not either. I’m wanting answers from the Bible, which I believe is inspired by God but translated by man.

    I’m also wondering where the leap is made that just because someone thinks that something is a sin means that they do not love the person who is sinning. (TWC#7) Don’t we all sin? Aren’t we all (sinners) to love everyone (sinners)? Why focus on that particular thing as ‘not sin.’ If it is true that the practice of homosexuality is not a sin, then can’t we take it a step further and say that anything is not a sin?

    I am truly on a journey and am asking in all humility. I do hope to get some insight. Thanks.

  • Anne: Do you believe homosexuality in and of itself is a sin–that upon his death the unrepentant homosexual must be shuffled directly to hell?

  • I said, “Tim, I tell my family and I will tell you, those are two questions I would prepare to answer on the day of judgement if I was a conservative, Why did I support a political party that would steal from the rich and give to the poor and why did I try and prevent poor and disadvantaged people from getting medical care?”

    It should read, “Tim, I tell my family and I will tell you, those are two questions I would prepare to answer on the day of judgement if I was a REPUBLICAN, Why did I support a political party that would steal from the POOR and give to the RICH and why did I try and prevent poor and disadvantaged people from getting medical care?”

    I capitalized to show the change, not to shout.

  • Mindy

    Hear, hear!!! Love this, Reed. LOVE it.

  • Mindy

    I’m good with naked under the Snuggies. As long as we all STAY under the Snuggies. Please.

  • Mindy

    Dang, Don. You make your own syrup? And real butter? And strawberries? I think I’m in love. I’ll drink your Koo-Aid if John doesn’t serve any . . .

  • Mindy

    Anne, people do not choose their sexual orientation. I know gay kids, kids who are nowhere near having sex yet, but who know full well that they are attracted to people of the same sex. They have crushes, etc. just like anyone – it just happens to be on people of the same sex. No one has, as yet, found the scientific/biological basis behind sexual orientation – no “gay gene” has been found, nothing so definitive as that. Because of that, religious conservatives will argue that since it’s not been found, it must not exist. A false argument, to be sure – there may be a single reason people are born gay, or a variety of reasons people are gay – but all we can say with certainty is that the specific causes/reasons may not be known. There is, however, enough psychiatric/psychological evidence to show that being gay is simply a different state of being human, and is not chosen any more than you or I chose to be straight.

    Now, you can either accept that as fact or not. But it *is* fact. Not accepting that doesn’t make it not a fact, it simply makes you wrong. (not you in particular, the general ‘you’).

    So if you accept that as fact, even the *option* that it be considered a sin goes right out the window. How can something not chosen be a sin? I didn’t choose to be left-handed, yet once upon a time parents forced their children to use their right hands. We know now how ridiculous, and even harmful, that is. When someone is born different, whether it be positive, as in prodigious abilities, or negative, as in physically disabled, no one ever accuses that individual of being sinful because they are different. Right? Being gay is simply being different. It can’t be sinful. It just IS.

    Now, the religious conservative will likely say, “Well, they may not choose who they are attracted to, but they can choose whether or not they act upon it.” Ummm, yes. That is true. But if they don’t act upon their attractions, they are left living their lives without a significant other, without the hope of ever having a partner for life. Because nothing is going to cause them to suddenly be straight, any more than you or I is suddenly going to “turn” gay . Many a gay person has “pretended” to be straight, married, had children – all because they were afraid to let the world know who they really were.

    Try to imagine being in that position. What if everyone in the world thought you should be gay, and were so unaccepting of straight people that you felt forced to seek a relationship with a woman – because no one would accept you if you admitted you were attracted to men. Could you force yourself to do that? Could you live out your entire life pretending to be someone you are not? Can you imagine believing your only choice was to live out your life without the ultimate love of a completely trusting partner – someone who knew the REAL you and loved you anyway? Of course, not every one of us straight folk get to live out that happily-ever-after stuff, but even those of us who are divorced or widowed can hope to find love again. And those who choose celibacy for religious reasons or other reasons do it by choice. THEY choose. It is not forced upon them.

    If you acknowledge that it is possible that the Biblical translations we know today, the passages that we assume refer to homosexuality, might, in fact, refer to something else – to promiscuity, to the patronizing of prostitutes, both female and male, to sexual activity outside the commitment to monogamy made through marriage, well, fine. You can apply those same standards to gay people as to straight. Be faithful. Don’t sleep around. Don’t take advantage of children. Don’t victimize – anyone. But let gay people have crushes, date, flirt, woo, and develop relationships just like anyone else. One does not have to have sex to be gay. And if one is gay, if one remains celibate til marriage – how on earth could that possibly be sinful?? Except for the tiny detail about them not being able to marry in most places. Which leaves them rather stuck, no?

    A sin is choosing to go against what you know is right. We all do it, every day. We make choices to drink, to talk about people being their backs, to borrow supplies from the office we have no intention of returning, to engage in gluttony, to say the check is in the mail when you know your forgot to write it, to covet our friend’s new clothes . . and on and on and on. We ask forgiveness and we try to do better tomorrow. But I will not wake up tomorrow and start writing with my right hand. I will not wake up tomorrow determined not to feel attracted to men. I have no say over that. I will wake up tomorrow and know that I will not start sleeping around, but that is an entirely different matter altogether.

    I know I’m rambling – I hope this made some sense. I appreciate the fact that you asked the question graciously and seem to be seeking real understanding. Hope this helped a bit – –

  • Anne

    No. Not any more than I believe that an unrepentant adulturer should be send to hell. Or should they?

  • Anne

    I mean, an adulterer – who is a Christian – and not yet repentant of the adultery, should they die, I don’t believe that the sin would send them to hell.

  • Anne

    Mindy, I really appreciate your thoughtful and helpful (and kind) reply. Thanks. What I get stuck on is this: we are by nature sinful, right? I hear what you’re saying about homosexuals being born that way and I do believe that one can be born with a tendency toward identifying with that lifestyle. However, I also believe that people are born with a tendency toward pride, selfishness, etc., etc. So I’m struggling with the idea that because something is “natural,” then it is not a sin. I still would like some bible verses to help me understand this. For me, the bible is what I want to cross examine everything against. And I do believe that we should consider the context, and consider the translators. But it’s still God’s word to me to help me understand this. If it’s True, it must be in there.

    I’d like to say, for the record, that I think that Jesus, were he walking the earth today, would be socializing with the prositutes, the drug addicts, the poor, the abused, the elderly, the forgotten, and the promiscuous heterosexuals and homosexuals. I think He would be disgusted by the attitude of most of the people who call themselves Christians towards those groups of people created in His image.

    Oh, wait. He is walking the earth today. We’re his body. People will experience the love of Jesus through us as we love God with all our hearts and as we love our neighbors – all of them – as ourselves.

  • Anne

    by the way, I dislike the term ‘send to hell’ and especially ‘shuffle to hell.’ To me it connotates some pleasure in the sending/shuffling. I don’t think that God takes any pleasure in it. I guess I always thought of hell as a consequence of not acknowledging that we need Jesus and that we can’t stand before God without the covering of Jesus’ blood, which he bled for us.

  • JoAnn Mitchell


    I can write a long explaination if you want me to. Just let me know you want me to explain more about sexuality.

    Try to find a PBS series called SEX AND THE BIBLE. Great information regarding sex and Biblical information.

    Simplified statement:

    As the Old Testament is the History of the Jewish people and the New Testament is the full filling of promises. We need to begin there.

    The prohibition against gays have nothing to do with same sex attraction and every thing to do with the growth through birth of the Jewish nation. Then, Paul continued this statement due to the generational continuation of Christianity (no babies; Christianity dies out quickly).

    The Bible (Paul’s writing) are discussing the waste of seed. Possibly the only thing the Mormon’s got right from the Bible. That sex was meant to create children. So, any one; including me married to one ; who has sex for pleasure; not to create a child can be considered “sinning” just as a gay person or a person having sex outside of marriage.

    The Jewish prohibition is that it is prohibited to waste seed. Those that do it, not only is it a serious sin they also place themselves in spiritual excommunication and is equivalent to an act of murder. Thus, how the verses speak in wording to us.

    The waste of seed is the sin and the basis of the verses including gay’s as sinning. It is not being gay that is the sin.

    Then, there is the whole not under the law. And, the fact Jesus stated that the first thing first is to Love God and our Neighbor.

    There is the Don’t be a stumbling block to anyone coming to Christ. Calling gay’s sinfilled and they must change their inner being; like we could naturally changed our eye color. The church is then being a stumbling block to a whole segment of society who feel that are unloved, not allowed in.

    Then, from Adam and Eve we have a “sin seed” that is equal and the same in all of us.

    Good questions as we must be able to answer why we stand where we stand. I am in the process of putting together a full thesis on why as a born again Christian I stand with gays on acceptance just as I am and another is.


  • Anne

    Thanks for that. It was very insightful. I’ll have to think about that and look up those verses you referenced.

    Right now, this is where I am:

    I don’t believe that identifying with the homosexual lifestyle is sinful. I have no problem accepting that. So for someone to identify themself as homosexual is not sinful, any more than a married woman to admit that she has sexual thoughts about the man next door. In both cases acting on the natural tendency / impulse would be the sin, not the thought, be it homo- or hetero- sexual.

    I personally do not see a conflict with believing that practicing homosexuality is a sin and – at the same time – loving the practicing homosexual as I love myself. (I think that Jesus loved many people he knew were sinners while he walked the earth.) I know, however, that many do have a problem with it. Some have a problem with the first part, others have a problem with the second part.

    Those who have a problem with the second part have created a horrible situation that has caused almost a knee-jerk reaction on both sides of the issue. Of course homosexuals don’t feel welcome in many churches. Why would they? That has to make God sad. No, angry.

    But I’m not sure that I’m willing to go so far as to agree that *practicing* homosexual behavior is not a sin.

    Let me come at it from another angle, also something I’ve been giving thought to: Manic Depression. Someone is born bi-polar. They can’t help it, that’s the way their brain chemicals are. They grow up never learning to control their anger. They have narcissistic tendencies. They get married. They abuse their spouse emotionally and occassionally physically, tho never to the point where the spouse even recognizes it as abuse. The spouse was taught by the church to love others as herself, so the spouse tries to forgive the abusive behavior and love the abuser.

    Is the abuser not sinning because they were born that way? Isn’t there a point where we have to say, “yes, I was born this way, and my brain chemicals are this way, but I can’t continue to behave like this because it is not okay with God.”? Isn’t it the same for homosexual behavior? Those are both behaviors – the eye color comparison wasn’t working for me – that people can’t help. So if the homosexual can practice homosexuality, then why not the bi-polar practice abusiveness in it’s many forms?

    I hear the fear that we not be stumbling blocks, but Jesus himself was a huge stumbling block to many. He was not afraid to call a sin a sin when he needed to. The Greatest Commandment is to love God. The second greatest commandment to love others. You can’t do one without the other. For that reason you don’t want to go out and actually BE a stumbling block, but if it’s the Truth that’s a stumbling block and in the course of loving a person, the Truth is spoken? Then, I guess, that’s okay. God’s big enough to pick up the person who has stumbled over His Truth.

    It’s so important to me to find out: what is Truth? What of my own behavior is okay with God, what of my own behavior is not okay with God? How can I love God? How can I love others?

    Since I do not currently struggle with homosexual thoughts, I’m not feeling an urgent need to find the answer to the question of whether or not it’s a sin. But I do find the discussion very interesting / thought provoking / stretching as I do know and interact with homosexuals.

    I am on a journey for Truth in my life. For anyone else’s journey, I am not the Judge.

  • Carla

    John, in a nutshell, I think you’ve gone mad.

  • I’ll try to sleep tonight knowing you feel that way.

  • Tim

    I do. And it’s obscene no matter which party does it.

  • Tim

    SOME within the church do this. Your claim is a broad generalization.

  • Brett

    I certainly hope so, all the best people are.

  • My t-shirt says “I’m with Lefty”.

  • Suz

    Bipolar disorder does not automatically cause abusive behavior. Many bipolar people are not abusive; abuse is a learned behavior, and it hurts God’s children. Sexuality is an intrinsic part of the human personality, and sexual attraction is a normal human function, not something one can learn.

    (Homo)sexuality and the physical expression of (homo)sexual attraction hurt nobody. Re-read that with and without the “homo.” There is NO difference. NONE. How can one be sinful and the other not?

    Personally, I refuse to define sin arbitrarily. If it harms nobody, the “sinner” included, it’s not a sin. Think of every sin you know. The single thing they all have in common, is that they cause harm to someone or something. Right? The Bible usually backs that theory up, doesn’t it? Yet sometimes the Bible misses the mark: It never once occurred to the “authors” that slavery might be a sin. Your conscience tells you otherwise, doesn’t it?

    Keep asking “Why?” Don’t settle for answers that don’t make sense. Don’t accept explanations that leave out facts. You’re on the right track. You don’t have to be a scholar or a theologian to know right from wrong.

    Dagnabbit! I’m rambling again! Somebody please shut me up!

  • DR

    Agreed. But, reality.

  • DR

    Tim, this is – with all due respect – naive. Religion, specifically Christianity is deeply engrained into the political fabric of our country. Come on, there’s a reason why Obama’s Christianity is “put into quotations” so often. There are plenty of examples within Democrats as well but this broad generalization is actually accurate.

  • DR

    Why would you post something like this? Do you believe you’d get any kind of thoughtful response? Ugh.

  • Diana A.

    “Dagnabbit! I’m rambling again! Somebody please shut me up!”

    No way! What you said was just perfect!

  • Angel

    Debra, I love this!

    “When the Spirit came to them on the day of Pentecost and caused them all to speak in different languages, the people of the town came round saying the disciples were drunk. Peter’s reply was “It’s 10:00 in the morning, we’re not drunk”, as if to say, were it 10:00 at night, strong possibility they could be drunk.”

    Hahaha, brilliant!!

    So obvious, yet something I’ve always just missed.


  • Bec

    I’m a thiest of no affiliation. By that I mean I believe in a higher power… just not in religion. But, I like you… and I hope you have a good day.

  • DR

    I personally do not see a conflict with believing that practicing homosexuality is a sin and – at the same time – loving the practicing homosexual as I love myself. >>>

    Anne one thing to really ask yourself is what does it mean to “practice” homosexuality. How have you defined that? Is it just sex? Is it kissing? Is it holding hands? Is it the urge one feels to look back at someone to whom you are attracted?

    Those of us who are Christian have felt like we could actually quality what “practicing” homosexuality means based on some sexual behaviors that the Bible lists and then subsequently calls perversion. So in our minds. we equate the “things that gay people do” as being those sexual practices.

    Do gay people have sex? Yes they do. But that is only a small part of gay behavior. Think about all that as a woman you experience when it comes to men. You long for them, probably. Your heart races a little faster when an attractive man enters. You might flirt with him a little. Imagine him loving you, asking you out on a date. You might go to a movie with him, you might kiss him. You might tell him all of your secrets. He might cherish you and make you feel like the most loved, important person in the world (a shadow of how Christ does).

    This is the life of a “practicing” homosexual, or many. Are some into some extreme sexual crazy and multiple partners in ways that really hurt people? Sure, that’s no different than the “sexual immorality” of straight people.

    I used to believe as you did, but here’s what I realized. I don’t get the last word on anyone. I really don’t. For Christians (I’ve been guilty of it too) to try to define – for gay men and women – what it means to be a “practicing” gay man or lesbian woman using a few references in Scripture? It’s like trying to freeze dry a Thanksgiving meal and then say it tastes “just the same”. Does that makes sense?

    It’s scary, I know, because to really consider that feels like it means you need to also accept that Scripture is not the inspired Word of God. Or if you do, you’re compromising something sacred. But you’re not – you’re really not (and you’re brave to start the dialogue, good for you). But these are exactly the kinds of break away thoughts and actions that Jesus Himself demonstrated time and time again. He constantly pointed out that the commonly understood religious laws based on Scripture at that time were simply not His Father’s Kingdom. That to eat on the Sabbath – something He actually did! Was acceptable. And He was killed for that. Looking back? I get it, it was too revolutionary. Too scary. But Jesus demonstrated the need for us to constantly question what we’ve all agreed as a Church is “true” when it comes down to other people. And the “math” behind “love the sinner hate the sin” just doesn’t work here, it doesn’t add up as much as we want it to. It’s time we started actually listening to the sinner who is telling us “You are just making this way too simple, and you’re doing that for you – so you can keep believing in the ways that you are, but not feel badly about me being angry about you calling who I love ‘a sin'”.

    I don’t doubt you love people who are gay, I think a lot of Christians do. But the gay community also gets to say, “Your brand of love is not sufficient. It does not reflect the principles within 1 Corinthians 13. It is not bringing me closer to Jesus. It is actually limiting my rights as an American citizen. And I’m angry about that.” Many Christians feel attacked, hated or victimized when on the receiving end of such blunt, direct honesty. But we’re not actually being attacked. We’re being trusted enough for the GLBT to be honest with us now, and some of them are getting brave enough to tell us the truth.

    You’re certainly not doing this here, but many Christians would say they are under “spiritual attack” for saying “I want to love the sinner and hate the sin and people are mad at me for that!” but with all due respect to them? It’s become something that doesn’t even make sense anymore *within this context* because being gay does not equal mental illness, that’s been completely dismissed even by scientists who are Christian. Nor is it a disease like alcoholism. It is part of the hard wiring that some are simply born with. That’s it.

  • Tim

    Broad generalizations, by definition, are NOT accurate. Only convenient..

  • Tim

    Reality? With all due respect, I rather think acquiescence to pessimism.

  • Tim

    Carla, I appreciate that you qualified your statement as a matter of thought, and not feeling. I don’t care how people FEEL about me, but I do give consideration to what they think. Thinking takes more effort than feeling, and whether I agree or disagree with a person’s thoughts, they deserve consideration.

    Prov 27:6

  • DR

    Ok. So you would disagree that a candidate’s religion influences his/her victory or loss. Do you disagree that religion does not influence policy on a macro level? Gay marriage, abortion being just two of them?

    The personal influences policy and religion is a powerful lobbying agency. If this generalization isn’t accurate then why are pastors not allowed to preach on it in fear of losing their tax exempt status? If it wasn’t influential, nobody would care. You’re wrong.

  • Tim

    The broad generalization that I have been referring to is that, according to Suz, the church does not separate its politics and faith. So If I and others like me DO make that sepatation, then we very well can’t be members of the church. Moreover she asserts that the Christian church in America has intentionally set itself at the center of our political system. That is an exclusive and preposterous statement since the Christian church in America is not a politically allied forum, but a highly sectarian and politically diverse body.

    If Suz doesn’t feel compelled to defend her generalizations, I don’t have any greater compulsion to knock down your raggedy-assed straw men.

  • DR

    Goodness, why such hostility? No one is persecuting you here, you are simply wrong in asserting that you, Tim, is reflective of the the collective role of religion and politics today. You do what a lot of Christians do which is to mix up the personal experience of you and your friends with the systemic, institutional role of religion. That is simply being pointed out to you, it’s not a straw man, it’s your confusing the two ( they are very different).

    I you’re going to react with such vitriol, then it says much more about the temerity of your position thsn anything else. If you don’t want to debate the point, then simply don’t debate it. You’re wrong of course, the church most certainly has placed itself within the political framework of our country and it is unapologetic for doing just that. And i speak as one of the church, I am a Christian who is also very much aware of how faith and politics are deeply interwoven in America. Suz is drawing conclusions that draw from that rather obvious base.

    Regardless, doesn’t eem like you’re really interested in actually debating your point, just repeating it. So be it. Peace!

  • DR

    I am confused. Are you suggesting that Carla’s comment was reflective of something other than an insult? Where was the critical though you’re appreciating here? Im genuinely asking, you’re new to the blog and I’d like to understand where you are coming from.

  • Suz

    It’s not a generalization at all. Prominent Christian leaders publicly state political opinions every day, all over the media. Christian organizations donate millions of dollars to political movements and campaigns. Individual members of individual congregations may or may not mix faith and politics; national leaders who strongly influence Christian doctrine are VERY DEEPLY involved in influencing government policy as well.

    The vast majority of this “highly sectarian and politically diverse body” of which you write, follows and parrots these leaders, across this nation, every Sunday. If your church ignores the Pat Robertsons of the world, it is a very rare organization.

    DR’s “straw man” is reinforced with steel rebar, and probably something even stronger.

  • Suz

    That was amazing! Way to go DR!

  • DR

    How you could have gotten any of what I was saying at all through my horrific grammar and misspelling, I’ve no idea. I wish I could blame the iPad, but… 🙂

  • DR

    By all means keep your idealism Tim. But Christ came to save a broken world, so I prefer to deal with the actual realities of how His Word is being completely perverted by those who choose to manipulate the political climate of our country through fear and manipulation of “who would Jesus vote for?” or “You can’t be a Christian and vote for Obama/pro-choice candidates” kind of thing. Or “You can’t be a Christian and vote for x-y-z”. This kind of thing is so pervasive and just so powerful, it’s a little shocking that someone who’s clearly an intelligent, reasonable guy would write it off as “pessimism”. As one who attended the National Prayer Breakfast for years and is well aware of “The Fellowship” through my Young Life connections? The presence of religion in politics is deliberate as well as insidious and the critical-thinking Christian these days regardless of political affiliation is pretty aware of it.

  • DR

    @Suz: It looks like TIm can talk a tough game, calling your points “crap” but then turns and runs and takes his toys with him when asked to actually explain his point.

    I’m always disappointed, particularly when conservative Christians with a Republican investment come onto this forum filled with their tough talk, and then turn tail and run when asked to actually back it up with something other than their righteous indignation. But as of late? I’m rarely surprised by it anymore. I guess Tim is just another victimized Conservative who throws the first punch and then backs out of the fight because someone is actually willing to punch back. Guys like this, as well as women need to start being prepared for righteous indignation being thrown right back.

  • Tim

    Not new to John’s blog. I am siriuslee, I am also Rin_Tin_Tim. The changing modes of blog maintenance may make it seem that I’m new, but I’ve been following this blog for years.

    I know Carla personally. She will tell it like it is and maybe we should always strive to measure twice and cut once. However I wholeheartedly believe that she cares about John and wants him to find the best God has for him. She took the title of this post to mean that Jesus was somewhere between being a dick and a social worker who got mugged. While that could easily be as far from John’s intended meaning as the east is from the west, I admittedly was put off by the apparent irreverence of the title, as well. I try to give John the benefit of the doubt and cut him slack. We are all works in progress and pencil companies still put that little nub of eraser on the ends that my dogs just adore to chew off and ingest.

    We are growing on different trees and as apples and oranges go, some like citrus better than pectin. But fruit is fruit. Carla thinks John has taken too much liberty in how he presents Jesus. It SHOULD be a sobering task…especially when you consider the growing number of minds that John’s words influence. Undeniably, he is a pastor without accountability…at least any real accountability that I can gauge. I trust that John appreciates that and tries to guard himself from being carried away with himself.

    I’ve seen gifted people like John come and go. Maybe it’s because they enjoy the support and accolades of their posse so much, they begin to believe everything they are told. I know this is a real threat to godliness and all too often we see the evidence of men and women who sought to glorify God, but ended up disgracing themselves and the God they represented. All of us are prone. All of us need to be guarded.

    I took Carla’s dig (ok, let’s admit it was a dig) as a gut check for John. I wish Carla HAD given a more thoughtful response…and maybe she will. Sometimes it’s just easier to jab and wait. Not saying it’s right. But like I said, I know Carla and she doesn’t normally cloud up and rain on people. It really had so much to do with associating Jesus to the word, “Dick”. that word is tossed so flippantly around these days. The tv censors still bleep the God from dammit, but they let words like prick, dick, asshole, and jag-off slide by. Words which I think are more offensive, really…but maybe Carla and I are too geezerly to appreciate the nuanced joie de vivre these words provide for younger readers.

    I’ll shut up now, but I’m willing to have as much dialog as anyone can stand on this subject.

  • Suz

    Hah! Should have known!

  • Tim

    I never denied anywhere that SOME people in the church…SOME people in politics misuse Christ. Nobody seems to get that the church is inclusive of ALL people who believe on Christ. To use phrases like “the church” and “the Christian church in America” are inclusive of EVERY Christian in the church and EVERY Christian in America. This is precisely why I called those statements generalizations. Not ALL members of the church, in America or otherwise, are ALL conspiring to rule our political system.

    As far as vitriol goes, strongly criticizing someone’s reasoning or arguments, isn’t anything that seems to be lacking in anyone else’s comments, here. I don’t attack people, just their inaccurate statements. Sorry, but it’s ludicrous to posit that the ENTIRE Christian church in America is in bed with the RNC or some malevolent right wing conspiracy to establish a political theocracy. SOME are, for sure. But by not qualifying the statement with words like “SOME within the church”, or even “QUITE A FEW within the church” the statements are still generalizations because ALL within the church are NOT.

  • Anne

    Thanks for that. I appreciate it. Very helpful. As you may have guessed, I’m the victim of abuse. I’m trying to figure things out. Everything out. Very thought provoking resposnse. Thanks again.

  • Anne

    DR, I think I love you.

    Thanks for your insight in helping me understand and for your gentleness. I’m not sure I’m there, but I’m open.

    I have had more than one homosexual (both male and female) tell me that I am the only Christian that they know who they like. That makes me really sad. I don’t know what it is that they see in me that they like, since I am obviously struggling with the whole “sin” issue. But what I know is this: everyone is created in God’s image. Jesus died for everyone. And I am not the judge of anyone. That is all that I know right now.

  • I do not drop a great deal of comments, however i did a few searching and wound up here Jesus: Not a Dick; Not a Social Worker Who Got Mugged | And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Is it only me or does it look like a few of the comments appear like coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional online social sites, I’d like to follow everything new you have to post. Would you list of the complete urls of your shared sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  • Melody

    Care to elaborate? Oh, that’s right. It’s a nutshell, so you don’t have to explain yourself.

  • Melody

    Looks at the date of post, and then at title and content. Blushes and backs away slowly. Thought this was in response to the sex post.