Mr. Wallis and His Big Gay Waffle

In response to the tsunami of outrage occasioned by Sojourners’ refusal of Believe Out Loud’s Welcome video, Jim Wallis yesterday issued this statement. (If you’re not caught up on what this is all about, here is a wonderful summary of the whole webby affair.)

In his statement of defense, Mr. Wallis makes six numbered points. Following the order of his presentation of them, those six points boil down to:

  1. Sojourners is very much against bullying gays, and very much for “defending the lives, dignity, and civil rights of gay and lesbian people.”
  2. Christians should be welcoming and loving to gay people.
  3. The gay issue shouldn’t divide the church.
  4. Sojourners is less directly concerned with the gay issue than about “poverty, racial justice, stewardship of the creation, and the defense of life and peace.”
  5. Essentially a repeat of points 4 and 2.
  6. Sojourners wants to discuss difficult issues in its editorial pages, not via its ads.

For the record, I take no pleasure in banging on Mr. Wallis. By all accounts he has accomplished a great deal of good in the world. He has fought to free South Africa, to reduce nuclear arms, to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to bring about global economic health, to pass immigration reform laws, and to bring an end to human trafficking. Winner of the 1995 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, Mr. Wallis is spiritual adviser to President Obama.

This is hardly a man I’m inclined to criticize.

But, alas, this is also a man whom I believe to be dead wrong on the gay issue. And—what with the open letter to him I yesterday published and all—that is what I’m now constrained to address.

So let’s begin with the first and primary point of Mr. Wallis’ defense: It’s bad to bully gays; and good to defend the lives, dignity and civil rights of gay people.

The profoundly intractable problem with Mr. Wallis making that assertion is that if you look elsewhere on the Sojourners site, you find this page, whereon Mr. Wallis answers the question, “What is your position on gay marriage and same-sex relationships in general?” There Mr. Wallis starts right off making the point that he so noticeably avoided in the six points of his post yesterday:

“We can make sure that long-term gay and lesbian partnerships are afforded legitimate legal protections in a pluralistic society without changing our long-standing and deeply rooted concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman.”

And there’s the giant undercooked waffle that so many Christians cannot seem to sweep off their table or return to the kitchen: Gays should have all the rights the rest of us enjoy; but make no mistake: since their romantic love is inferior, they are inferior.

And no matter how much syrup is poured upon it, that particular waffle remains unpalatable.

Mr. Wallis, I implore you to consider that saying that it is your long standing, deeply rooted conviction that marriage should only be between a man and a woman is tantamount to saying that gays and lesbians are (pick your word/phrase) unnatural, inferior, morally corrupt, shameful, disgraceful, freakish, an abomination before God. That is necessarily the correlative truth to “the only legitimate, God-pleasing marriage is between a man and a woman.” That’s what those words of yours mean, friend.

You are saying that gays and lesbians are, in every way that really matters in life, inferior. You are saying that the Bible says that. You are saying that is what God believes. You are making that statement as large and true as anyone possibly could.

So. You know. Stop doing that.

At any rate, if you’re going to claim that gays and lesbians are an affront to God (which is what you claim: put down that fork!), then it is simply not feasible for you to at the same time claim to be against the bullying of gays. That’s like building a huge public swimming pool facility, throwing open its doors on its Grand Opening, and then publicly taking a bold stance against people swimming. It just doesn’t make sense. Swimming in them is what people do with pools. Just like bullying is what people do to others whom they’ve been taught are so inferior that God has made a big point of condemning them to hell forever. One inevitably follows the next. It’s just human nature.

Also, please understand that it’s not the actual, physical bullying that most hurts gay and lesbians. What most hurts them—what destroys their optimism, crushes their hope, obliterates their self-esteem, and finally compels so many of them take their own lives—is the message in which that bullying is grounded.

Gay youths don’t get being beaten up for what they’ve done. They get being beaten up for who they are.

“You deserve our scorn—and have God’s scorn—for the despicable thing you are,” is about the most annihilating thing a young person can hear about themselves from their peers.

If you’re sincere about wanting to help stop the bullying of young gay people, Mr. Wallis, then please stop sending their bullies the message that while God might disagree with their tactics, he not only applauds, but is actually the source of, their motivation.

As to the second part of Mr. Wallis’ first point—the part about defending the lives, dignity, and civil rights of gay and lesbian people. It is good to hear that Mr. Wallis supports the legalization of gay marriage. (I assume that’s what he means, anyway, since no less an authority than the U.S. Supreme Court, in its unanimous decision to decriminalize interracial unions forty years ago, called marriage “one of the basic civil rights.” Moreover, if gay marriage was legalized, gays would have each of the legal rights that in his answer to the gay question Mr. Wallis stipulates desiring they do. Saying you support civil rights for gays is saying that you support the legalization of gay marriage.)

The problem with Mr. Wallis championing the rights of gays to legal civil marriage is that it proactively leaves out in the cold the great many gays and lesbians who, just like most other people, want to be married in church, by a pastor, before God. So we again find ourselves back to this grossly untenable “separate but equal” status for gays and lesbians. In reality there’s no such thing as “separate but equal”: equals don’t need to be separated. “Separate but equal” invariably means that one of the two parties is less “equal” than the other. By proclaiming his support for civil unions for gays, Mr. Wallis is with one hand holding open the doors to City Hall—and with the other keeping closed the doors of the church. That’s too far a stretch. Affirming their legal rights, while at the same time negating their spiritual needs (and thereby their inherent moral integrity), isn’t “defending the dignity of gay and lesbian people.” It isn’t defending the dignity of anyone. It’s like telling someone that they’re welcome to eat anywhere they like—as long as it’s in the kitchen.

As to the other five points of Mr. Wallis’ rebuttal:

2. Christians should be welcoming and loving to gay people. If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them. Love without respect isn’t love at all. It’s patronizing, at best.

3. The gay issue shouldn’t divide the church. Too late; it is dividing the church. Time to pick a lane.

4. Sojourners is less directly concerned with the gay issue than about “poverty, racial justice, stewardship of the creation, and the defense of life and peace.” That last point is mighty fuzzy, but … okay. I get it. Good job. Poverty, racial injustice, and a destroyed earth are bad. I personally think that what a Christian leader should be concerned with above all is making sure that nobody—much less an entire class of people—is systemically denied the love of Christ by the very church that Christ established. But I’m also definitely in favor of clean rivers.

5. Essentially a repeat of points 4 and 2.

6. Sojourners wants to discuss difficult issues in its editorial pages, not via its ads. Makes sense.

And there we have it. I’ll let you know if Mr. Wallis contacts me! Which I’m sure will happen within the next two or three nevers!

 

If you’re interested, other pieces I’ve written on this issue generally includes:

The Gay Teen Suicide Rate and the Christian Condemnation of Gays

An Interview with Charles Robbins, CEO of The Trevor Project

The Real Reason Christians (and Others) Get So Crazy About Gays

What Would Jesus Do If Invited to a Gay Wedding?

How Is Being Gay Like Gluing Wings on a Pig?

And if you’re looking for a version of Christianity that’s sane, check out Unfundamentalist Christians.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • R Boyer

    I’m sick of being an “issue.” Wallis can STUFF himself and his judgments.

    • A’isha

      Exactly, R. Why is how I live my life, or anyone else, an issue for anyone. I choose to embrace the whole of who God made me. That includes my sexuality. Doing less than that tells God that He didn’t do a good job.

      John, I love this : “I personally think that what a Christian leader should be concerned with above all is making sure that nobody—much less an entire class of people—is systemically denied the love of Christ by the very church that Christ established.” When Christians who state homosexuality is a sin, that gays are an abomination finally realize that they are in fact the very ones who have led people AWAY from Christ, then maybe we can start seeing some change. Because so many Christians make it such big issue, LGBT people are being driven away from the church instead of being drawn into Christ’s love where they/we can experience the fullness of life that God offers. Is it that so many straight Christians really don’t get how much they push us away? I know not all straight Christians think like that, obviously there’s you :). They are the ones that are ignoring the commandment Jesus gave us to love one another as He has loved us. Instead they’re spewing hate (no matter how many times they say “hate the sin, love the sinner.”)

      Then there are the ones who are trying, really trying to love everyone. They’re saying they believe homosexuality is a sin, but it’s not their place to judge, and “if” it is a sin, it’s no worse than any other sin. That’s a step in the right direction, but I believe it seriously falls short. I heard just this morning that I’m loved but if I was in a relationship the person would be very sad because she believes it isn’t God’s best plan for people. I was really at a loss. Yes, I believe she loves me. Honestly. But seriously? If I found someone I loved romantically and wanted to spend the rest of my life with, she would be sad instead of happy? That doesn’t make sense to me at all. But I know she’s trying. Possibly it’s a process, but I wish with every part of me that people could just understand that this is who I am, a lesbian, made that way by a loving God. It’s not a choice.

      What I have a choice about is whether to follow God or not. I hope it’s obvious I’ve chosen to do that. I try in all parts of my life to live out the commandment to love God and love other people. I fail more than I wish, then I ask God to help me do a better job. I honestly believe that God grieves so much that people who claim to be His followers are so horrid to His children and use His name to justify it!

      • Allen

        A’isha, you’re my heroine!

    • Todd

      “R” -

      Happened across your comment while reading the longer article. Delighted to see you here randomly, and by the sentiment, to which I say “Amen” (and you know exactly what I meant by that, sir).

      TSE

  • http://kenreads.wordpress.com KenLeonard

    Generally, I’m a fan of Jim Wallis, and so I don’t want to come down too hard on him, here.

    Having said that, I think he’s wrong on this one. Especially since an ad doesn’t mean much of anything about the site on which it’s placed. I think that on the levels of commitment to a cause “Allowed and ad to be placed on our site” ranks just a little lower than “Stuck a bumper sticker on my wall at home.”

    Anyway …

    Your response on point 1 is nothing less than brilliant, John. I don’t think that there’s anything else to say, and it’s quite possible that Jim Wallis was going to try to talk it over with you, but read that and said, “Dang. My only real choices are recant or pretend I didn’t see this …”

    2. Same thing. “I love gay people. I want them all to be saved and become good heterosexual folk …” isn’t exactly loving, really.

    3. Again, you nailed it. I wish the issue wasn’t dividing the church, too. I also wish that we didn’t have arguments about how to do baptism, how important it is, the adoration of Mary, what work can be done on Sunday, and whether it’s okay with Jesus that people drink. Sadly, that ship has sailed.

    4. I see his point, but it really is a dodge. Yes, they want to focus on a particular set of issues. That’s fine. At the same time, again, all this group wanted to do was place an ad. When it comes down to it, if you look at other web sites, you might see advocacy ads on both sides of some issues. Allowing this ad to run wouldn’t exactly have required that Sojourners take its eye off the social and economic justice ball.

    5. Whatever.

    6. How’s that working out for them? It seems like by not running the ad, they’ve managed to create more of an issue.

    Anyway … well said, as usual, John.

  • Mindy

    Well done, Mr. Shore. Because it is time, truly, to pick a lane. Christian leaders who are NOT progressive have certainly picked theirs, the bigoted, discriminatory one. And by not picking the OTHER lane, Mr. Wallis seems to have placed himself directly behind them in theirs. Sad state of affairs for Sojo, that’s for sure.

  • Don Rappe

    If ads don’t advocate anything, why place them. I know of no publishers who automatically advocate what’s in their ads. Their was a not too subliminal element to the ad which seemed to indicate that no one but the priest was welcoming the family. I think the likelihood of a congregation like that could be an issue. And, John, I agree that the real question for Christians is whether the homosexual behavior that God calls some of us towards is sinful in essence or may be responsible.

  • http://www.johncokeefe.com john o’keefe

    i think “R” said it best -

  • Michael Rowe

    What R. Boyer said.

  • http://none Dennis Gilbert

    John, I love your response to Rev.Wallis! I am a BIG fan of Rev. Wallis, and have joined with Sojourners on many issues over many years. That said, until we welcome ALL of the children of God into full participation in both political and spiritual realms, our work as followers of the Christ and people of the Resurrection is not done.

    Congrats, John….once again I know there is another voice out there who sees grace as I do.

    PEACE

  • Allen

    Thanks, John. You’ve summed up decades of agonized conversations I’ve had on this subject. (GLBT folks and the church, that is — only started talking about Wallis’ gaffe the other day.) And you come to the right conclusion, that if you don’t respect someone you can’t love them without patronizing. And guess what? People can tell when they are being patronized, and don’t stick around if they find a better situation. Some people even take exception to witnessing patronizing behavior that isn’t even directed at them personally, which is very cool. More of us ought to do that, more of the time! I really appreciate you doing so in this situation.

  • http://www.stlukesdurham.org/ReasonsVideo/index.html Peach McDouall

    In the Episcopal Church, two of the vows we make in our baptismal covenant are to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself” & to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” We respond, “We will, with God’s help.”

    With God’s help, the dividing wall is coming down. Love MUST win, cuz that’s how Love set things up. But I’m glad to be on the joyful, loving, vow-fulfilling side meanwhile. Thanks for your article, John!

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      *waves at fellow espiscopalian*

      Hi there!

      • Michael

        And it would be good to note here that, for us Episcopalians, there is no doubt where the battle will end. That is not to say everyone is yet in the same camp, but when Gene Robinson gained the necessary consents to become bishop, it was over. We now have two openly gay bishops, and more clergy than anyone can count. If you’re tired of wandering in the wilderness, check out some Episcopal churches near you.

  • Jim Henkelman-Bahn

    I, too, have always admired the work of Jim Wallis and Sojourners. However, I am in solid support of John Shore and the way he has addressed the issue of working to alleviate the oppression of gays and lesbians. In my local church, Christ Congregational Church UCC in Silver Spring, MD, we have done the work over the past two decades of education and discernment shifting the culture from one of inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered folks to the point where the congregation voted to advocate for marriage equality this year. Although the Maryland legislature was two votes shy of passing protection of civil marriage this year, we will continue to work to achieve this next year. We need the support of Jim Wallis and other Christians.

    A’isha, courage in the struggle for justice and peace. You have many folks supporting you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GodAdoresYou Christopher

    Well said, john! I too am SICK AND TIRED of being an “issue”….I’m a human being, damnit! Isn’t that enough? It’s so emotionally draining…day in , day out…I’m tired! Thank you for stand for and WITH our community, John, it means a great deal more than you could ever know!

    • http://gaychristiangeek.blogspot.com Rainicorn

      I was going to comment at some length, but Christopher has articulated exactly what I want to say. Thank you, John, for your support.

  • http://www.beckygarrison.com Becky Garrison

    Thank you for this – I would encourage everyone to contact those religious progressive leaders whose products you purchase where they stand on this issue. (In particular push Rob Bell on this issue – he keeps pushing Love Wins and has made a fortune off this endeavor yet he won’t say diddly about this nor does he have LGBT or even straight women in his inner circle of leaders.) If they waffle, then tell them you won’t play to play with them anymore. Also, shoot an email to conferences that sponsor said waffle contests as it were and let them know you would prefer a heartier, healthier meal. As long as people pay into the system, this will continue.

    Along those lines, a number of religious progressives have come out in favor of LGBT rights but yet their churches, organizations, funding streams, etc. remain dominated by missional males. Thank those people for their support but then tell them to stop talking and start walking. Yes, there’s a cost – the Episcopal Church went through hell and I predict a similar upheaval with the Presbyterians and the ELCA. But Christ calls us not to “tolerate” each other but to try and “love” each other.

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

    Excellent rebuttal of Wallis’ opening point. You can’t have it both ways. One cannot be for the traditional, conservative church’s interpretation and, in the same breath, claim be for all the people in the LGBT community.

    Which takes us to point 3: pick a lane. I thought the same thing when I read his point 3. I think this line “homosexuality does not need to divide us as a church” is progress. Admittedly, sad progress but still progress. This line is almost saying: “please don’t leave our fold over this disagreement.” It is almost a plea for coexistence under the guise of mutual respect. “Separate but equal” invokes an apt image.

  • http://www.proclaimthegospel.org/ Mo Johnson

    Thanks John, this is the best article I’ve ever read going to the heart of the matter — whether living as a homosexual is inherently sinful. That is the specific question that must be addressed as it is the root of everything.

    I also like your point about money. It’s not a polite topic, but the truth of the matter is that conservative theology thrives because that’s where the money is. And that money is used to build more conservative seminaries that produce more conservative church leaders who go out and start more conservative churches. The conservative theology is essentially a selfish one. It says that conservative christians have received a free gift of eternal life and it does not matter how they live. When you read their church constitutions you’ll see things like “The only way to please God is to support the church.” So, they ignore the parts of the gospel that is about social justice, economic justice, creation care, love for neighbor, etc. That’s an essential part of the gospel — but, it does nothing to further the conservative theological kingdom. So, conservative theology dismisses that half of the gospel.

    So, what you have is a selfish theology pumping virtually all its resources into building its own kingdom, providing services to its members, and growing ever more powerful.

    All of this will be reversed in eternity when God’s justice is implemented and He will do the right thing with those who loved their neighbor here on earth and those who didn’t; those who supported the weak, the poor, the immigrant, the oppressed, the marginalized, God’s creation — and those who didn’t.

    But, if we want to expand God’s kingdom on earth — as John said — we really need to think about where we are spending our limited resources and really focus them on ministries that truly do support building God’s good kingdom on earth. Now.

  • Shaun

    Seems to me there’s progressive and then there’s progressive. Sojo remains pretty conservative theologically (evangelical, literal, etc.), but comes to progressive social/political conclusions based on those conservative convictions. Many so-called “main-line” protestant churches are progressive theologically, too.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    A good post, but…

    “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them.”

    Oh, I’m calling shennanigangs on that. Swap out any human interest/orientation/behavior you might want in place of homosexuality & ask if you can stand by that statement. Jesus (y’know, the guy our religion is named after) certainly had no problem loving people even when he identified sin in their lives.

    F’r instance, swap out “obesity” for “homosexuality” in the quoted paragraph. I’m not talking about just a few extra pounds, I’m talking about being obese — even morbidly obese. That’s a major, major personal failing; it is arguably a sin insofar as it is misuse of the body & brain God gave us.

    Some people regard obese people as failures & want nothing to do with them. That (i.e., the rejection) is a sin. Others regard obese people as people with personal failings & can love them anyway. Others still recognize their own failings & sinful nature & realize they have no right to judge: Person A may think Person B is obese, but then Person A realizes they have no room to judge since they can’t kick their nicotine habit.

    Just because we identify a sinful aspect in a person’s life does not mean we are incapable of respecting them for other things, much less that we are incapable of loving them.

    • Don Whitt

      Oh Buzz. You have missed the point so well, so precisely.

      You equated homosexuality with a personal failing. And you “respect” them for things about them other than their core sexual orientation – one of the most essential components of who they are?

      If you really love them, Brother Buzz, love them for who they are, not in spite of who they are.

      • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

        No, I didn’t miss the point. Homosexuality appears to be an innate condition (yeah, there may be exceptions, but we’ll go for the core constituency here). A similar thing could be said about a tendency to obesity.

        Homosexuality & a tendency towards obesity as innate traits are neither moral nor immoral; they are simply aspects of a particular individual. That other people may not like to engage in homosexual behavior or be obese is not relevant to judging the person with the particular characteristic.

        If an obese person is fine w/the way they are, even if their personal choices are not ones we (rhetorical) would make, we are still to love them as individuals. It doesn’t matter if we find obesity a turn off or not, we are to love that person the way Christ loves them.

        Ditto re having a homosexual orientation. We are not to judge. We are to love and accept. We have to put what may be personally repellant to us aside.

        But conversely, we do not have to embrace it or endorse it, either.

        We are all people of many, many parts. We need to make our peace w/the fact not everything about us will be acceptable to all people, nor will everything about everybody else be acceptable to us. What we need to do is concentrate on being as loving and as kind to one another as we possibly can given our own personalities & histories.

        • Don Whitt

          We, we, we, we, we, we…..all the way home.

        • DR

          Your premise tends to begin with equating homosexuality with something innately dangerous (i.e. obesity) That’s the issue here. You can do whatever personal math you want to but when that belief starts impacting the spiritual and emotional health for other people as well as their rights, it’s not a personal belief any longer.

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            Re-read what I wrote, DR. That’s what I’m saying. The overriding belief we should have as Christians — the belief that trumps all other beliefs — is that we will love and accept others even though they may have characteristics/behaviors that we personally do not like.

            You (rhetorical) might say, “I can’t be friends w/anyone who has red hair.” I might think it’s a sin to be prejudiced against someone for their personal appearance. That doesn’t give me the right as a Christian to stop loving you or showing you the respect you are entitled to.

            For all I know, your disinclination to red hair might be the result of something in your personal history, it might be an innate case of erythrophobia, it might be any of a thousand things you have little or no direct control over.

            So be it: I have to accept that.

            Now, if I catch you on your way over to Archie Andrews house with a 6-pack of molotov cocktails, I’m required to show my love to Mr. Andrews by doing what I can to keep you from firebombing his house (in a round about way it would also be showing you love as well, because being arrested for an attempted firebombing carries a lot less draconian a penalty that being arrested for actually burning down somebody’s house). If I hear you talking about how we oughta dig up Lucille Ball and desecrate her corpse, as a Christian I have the obligation to say you’re letting personal prejudices sway your better judgment. If you start ranting about “gingers” as I Christian I need to point out that kinda talk will cost you if it gets around.

            But if all you do is say, “I don’t like redheads” but never act on that dislike, well, so be it.

            Live and let live. Treat other people the way you want to be treated. If you want everybody to endorse what you like, you gotta endorse what everybody else likes. The blade cuts both ways.

          • DR

            the belief that trumps all other beliefs — is that we will love and accept others even though they may have characteristics/behaviors that we personally do not like.>>>

            A really wonderful Evangelical Christian told me once: “DR, God loves you. But you know what? He really *likes* you too”. I’ve never forgotten that, it was an absolute experience of the Holy Spirit for me.

            Your words here are not in my belief anyway. descriptive of how we experience others when we’re living in the Spirit. When I’m experiencing people through the eyes of Christ, I don’t lump them in as “redheads” so I’d not say “I don’t like red heads” because they are more to me than that. They are John the redhead, Than the redhead, Ramsie the redhead.” they’re people that I know. I *know* them, I know them well enough to know that John is actually late to everything. Than is really rude and Ramsie is hard to be around. But I don’t “dislike redneads”.

            You wanting to dismiss a group is far more than a personal belief. I’d suggest that it is a prejudice. The reason why you feel this way is yours alone, but prejudiced thinking doesn’t stay personal for long. It’s reflected in our vote, who we choose to invest in, and other ways.

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            DR, re-read my post. I was commenting on loving a person who does not love redheads, not on redheads themselves. In other words, the focus was on the person who harbors a prejudice (for whatever reason) against someone: As a 3rd party I am to love the person w/the prejudice just as much as I am to love the person being prejudiced against.

            Again, the point I’m contending has nothing to do w/homosexuality, obesity, or red hair; it has to do with this sentence — “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them.” — not being Biblical or Christ-like.

          • Don Whitt

            Buzz- I’m pretty certain Jesus was gay. He never married, there’s no mention of him even dating and he hung-out with a dozen or so men ALL THE TIME. Let’s face it, if Jesus thought heterosexual marriage was so paramount to Christianity or Judaism he would have made a big show about getting married. So you might want to re-orient yourself if you truly want to be Christ-like. I suggest hooking up with someone of the same gender ASAP – you’re on thin ice right now.

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

            Nice.

        • Michael

          Buzz … I think responding to the specifics of your argument is agreeing to play a game that just leads to more obfuscation. A position that requires this much casuistry to define is trying to avoid something, in this case, *actually* accepting GLBT persons. I fear you actually do not see that, but I suspect that every GLBT person reading it does. I am a straight white guy, so I’ll let them speak for themselves.

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            You are doubtlessly right there, Michael. I realize this is a loaded area (to mangle metaphors). Still, we need to be able to discuss things openly and courtesously so that we can at least understand one another’s position.

            I stick to my basic premise: To say we can not love or respect a person because we think certain of their behavior is a sin is not supported Biblically. We can, should, and must love one another as we love ourselves. We are also absolutely called upon to refrain from behaviors we consider sinful.

            But, to use Paul’s famous example in Romans et al, if I think it’s a sin to eat meat that was sacrificed to a pagan idol but you don’t, then I am to refrain from judging you because of that and I am to continue loving you as a brother/sister in Christ.

            But I am not to abandon my stand that eating meat sacrificed to pagan idols is sinful.

          • Michael

            I can’t take seriously an argument that relies on puling verses here and there out of an English translation of Scripture and then says “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” I don’t believe that to be the way the writers of Scripture or the communities that received those writings intended them to be used. I think it was only later groups that were intent upon power and control that took up that way of interpreting–well, as I think about it, that can’t even properly be called “interpreting.” It’s using the Bible as a club.

            I don’t think it’s nearly that easy to understand the intent of the original writer or writers, the historical, social, political or religious context in which they wrote, or the nuances of the Greek, just to list a few of the variables that have to be considered. I belong to a denomination with an educated clergy so that I know what I hear on a Sunday morning has taken all those factors into account. The Bible is so complex, though, that even the amount of Scripture study one gets in the course of pursuing an MDiv is just enough to allow one to competently use the scholarly tools produced by those who have made the study of Scripture in all its facets their life’s work.

            Do I believe Scripture is divinely inspired? You bet. That’s not the same as verbal inspiration, something the pastor I had when I was a sophomore in high school taught me didn’t hold water. Do I believe one can open up an English Bible and learn enough to come to know Jesus? Yes, I do. Do I believe one can read a couple verses of Romans and a couple verses of Leviticus and know what God thinks about same-sex relationships? I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell.

          • DR

            This is an amazing comment. Thank you!

          • DR

            Buzz Is there individual gay men and women you don’t like (which is normal) or is it gay people as a group you don’t like?

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            @DR — it’s people who need remedial reading classes who really piss me off.

            THAT’S A JOKE, PEOPLE! A J*O*K*E!

            Please re-read my posts. Homosexuality, obesity, red hair, and now remedial readers are being used as as examples of characteristics that people are prejudiced against. We’ll call them the Target group.

            There are people who think those things are wrong; we’ll call that group the Judgers.

            What John S. originally wrote that I challenged was this: “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them.”

            Let me re-phrase it for you: “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that Judging another person is a sin cannot truly respect any Judger—then you can’t love them [the Judgers].”

            My contention is that it is absolutely possible to recognize a behavior or attitude as a sin (Judging) while still loving the person who is the Judger.

            IT HAS N*O*T*H*I*N*G TO DO WITH THE GROUP/S IDENTIFIED AS “TARGETS”!!!

            As Joe Bob Briggs would say, “I’m surprised I have to explain this to you.”

          • DR

            It doesn’t seem like I’m the only one misunderstanding you Buzz.

          • Anakin McFly

            GLBT person here making a belated comment to say that I fully agree with buzz’s initial premise (e.g. it is possible to love someone even if you think some of the things they do are wrong), even though I disagree with what seems to be his stance that same-sex relationships/activity fall under that category of wrong.

            Because it boils down to: can we love someone whom we believe is imperfect? And I strongly believe the answer is yes. Otherwise we wouldn’t love anyone, because no one is perfect.

    • Helga

      Wow. You said, “I’m talking about being obese — even morbidly obese. That’s a major, major personal failing”……you are joking, right? And you equate homosexuality with ‘major personal failings’. Logic fail. Moral fail…your post, I mean. As a side note, I’ll use your off-base example…let’s just substitute the word homosexuality for “ignorant”. Silly me, it does seem to work on THAT one. Give me a break.

    • DR

      Buzz, your analogy isn’t accurate. It’s like swapping out being a man to being a frog. Our sexuality makes up a large part of the core of who we are, being gay isn’t just about sexual activity that you can stop or start for most (from what I understand).

    • Lulu

      I agree with you, Buzz. I think, to clarify a little, (but not to speak for anyone other than myself) that what you were trying to get across, and that Mr. Whitt failed to understand, is that we are ALL sinners. We all have things that we do that are wrong, according to the tenants of Christianity, and depending on which sect a person follows. But using those things that I do wrong as a base for how much, or if, I am worthy of your love is wrong. It doesn’t matter if I’m homosexual, a pedophile, a mass murderer, a rapist, an over-eater, or lazy or whatever else I may struggle with. In the same way that I may not agree with gay marriage, but still love the person who is homosexual, I deserve the same treatment. Namely, that I am worth loving in spite of the things I do that you may not agree with. Yes, I believe that gay marriage is not a right. I believe that acting on homosexual tendencies IS a choice. There. I said it. You are all entirely free to disagree with me (not that you’d need my permission in the first place). That being said, it would be a sin for me, as a Christian (or even as a fellow human being, in my opinion) to believe that someone who is homosexual is “less than” in my eyes or, more importantly, in God’s. If I believe (and I do) that God loves ALL of His children (even Osama Bin Laden-gasp!) regardless of their sins, and if I also believe that I am to love as He does, then it is up to me to get over whatever human failings I have that may make me uncomfortable around anyone who makes choices I don’t agree with, or who struggle with things I don’t. Personally, I don’t speak for God, so I don’t have a clue what His view on homosexuality is. I know what some of the ancient prophets have said, but even they don’t come out and say what God’s view of homosexuality is-they give their own words (correct me if I’m wrong here, which is SO entirely possible), so it could go either way in the hereafter, and if it turns out I’m wrong, then so be it. In the meantime, me looking down on someone who is, in my opinion, dealing with the struggle of homosexuality is the exact same thing as anyone looking down on me for, say, stealing from the petty cash at work. A sin is a sin, and we all have weaknesses that make some things harder for us to overcome than for others. I hope this makes sense. I am not as gifted with words as others are, so I hope I explained myself well enough for you all to understand my rambling. Bottom line-As I have loved you, love one another. Christ did not condone sin, but He was still able to love the sinner perfectly and respect them as human beings. I don’t have to agree with someone to love them, and vice versa. In my opinion, that is what a true Christian (or anyone, really) should be attempting to do.

      • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

        Yes, precisely: We are all sinners. Regardless of what we think of others’ choices/behaviors/inclinations/characteristics, we are to love them.

        • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

          Being gay is not a sin.

          But I suppose even in this simple reptition this point will simply whizz past your head just like all the other pitches have.

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            Barnmaven, read what I wrote to DR above: My point of contention has nothing to do with homosexuality, it has to do w/whether or not “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them.” is a valid Christian teaching.

            I hold it is not. It is possible to regard something as a sin and still love the sinner — which is a good thing, ‘cuz if one is wrong in judging what is/is not a sin, then at least one doesn’t have the sin of not loving an innocent person on their conscience, right?

          • DR

            The thing we are all trying to explain Buzz is being gay is not a specific, isolated dimension or attribute if a human being that you can parce out and sayi disrespect that but still love you”. The gay men and women have told you on this forum that your analogy does not hold up as it relates to them ( from what I can tell). It seems as though you are invested in maintaining this analogy as it relates to them so you can keep doing that.

        • DR

          If you told me that as a woman, wanting to make love to a man and eventually marry him was something you “disliked”, I’d feel absolutely, categorically that you found me at my core, unloveable. It’s no different.

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            “If you told me that as a woman, wanting to make love to a man and eventually marry him was something you “disliked”, I’d feel absolutely, categorically that you found me at my core, unloveable. It’s no different.”

            God bless, DR, that’s some pretty serious projecting you’ve got going. No fooling.

            I hate sardines, never have liked ‘em, never will, can’t fathom how anybody else finds ‘em appealing.

            My wife likes sardines, so I buy tins of ‘em for her to take to lunch. Sometimes when there’s leftover rice, I’ll open a tin & mash the sardines into the rice ‘cuz I know she likes that for lunch, too.

            As long as the sardines stay on her plate there is no sardine issue in our house.

            Her enjoyment of sardines does not affect my love of her & for her one way or the other.

            She knows I don’t like sardines & she knows that I love her & respect her.

            If your attitude is that you think being in a relationship where you like sardines & your partner doesn’t like sardines & that means your partner doesn’t find you loveable, then you need some serious prayer & meditation time.

          • DR

            Sardines are a food preference. Being gay is a state of being. If you believe the two are on par and that a preference for a random food type, then we are simply starting at a completely different foundational premise.

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            Being gay is a preference. How & where it originates — nature or nurture, innate or acquired — is immaterial. From the way it works in the brain, it is no different than any other type of preference (or dislike, which is non-preference).

            That gays have been persecuted for their preference is indisputable. Given that history, that many people in the gay community feel uncomfortable & very defensive about any discussion of their preference is understandable.

            It’s still no different than any other kind of preference, ‘cuz as the famous cartoon sez, ultimately all preferences boil down to serotonins and endorphins.

            We are not (or rather I am not; you’ve got a bee in your bonnet but that’s not my problem) discussing homosexuality, gender orientation, obesity, or anything else related to human preferences or characteristics. What we are discussing — what I have repeatedly said we are discussing — and what you are determined to avoid discussing is the Biblical validity of the following statement: “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them.”

            Now, DR, ball’s in your court: Put up or shut up.

            “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that refusing to agree w/their definitions of homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any person who disagrees with them—then you can’t love them.”

            Are you a Christian, DR? Do you love me?

          • Diana A.

            “If you don’t respect somebody…then you can’t love them.”

            Whether it’s biblically valid or not, I agree with that statement. Respect comes before love because respect (by my definition, which may be wrong) means a genuine acceptance of the right of someone else to be different from oneself–to hold different values and beliefs, to have different needs and feelings, to be an individual in his/her own right. It’s also a willingness to see other people as they are, instead of seeing them as one wishes they would be and accepting that others will not change just because one disapproves of them–nor should they.

            I have been “loved” by people who don’t respect me and I’ll tell you that I would have preferred their out and out hatred to this “love.” What I often find myself thinking when dealing with these people is: “They don’t love me, they love the other Diana.” The Diana who went to college. The Diana who got married and married a man of whom they approved. The Diana who has a successful career and in a field of which they approve. In other words, they love somebody who doesn’t exist in real life. They don’t love me.

            So yes. I’m with John on this. Without respect, there is no love. If we cannot respect gay people then what we call “love” is not love, but is something else. “Patronizing, at best,” is how John put it, and I’m inclined to agree.

          • DR

            Buzz I think you’ve stepped into a conversation here and are defending people who are repulsed by the “preference” of being gay. You’ve already admitted on other comments that you’ve used some confusing metaphors as you’ve jumped into a dialogue that’s already very tough to navigate. SO perhaps consider taking a little responsibility for people misunderstanding you regardless of how clear you think you’ve been.

            To answer your question. Do I “love” people who are repulsed by gay men and women? No I don’t. I feel sorry for them, I’m not wishing them harm. I’m rooting for them to change. But I don’t respect them, I think they are doing harm and I say so. They aren’t my preferred people to hang out with at a dinner party – I think they hurt the world by their belief system and I don’t think they really care about that, if my experience with them is any indication. And yes, I’m a Christian. I don’t love everybody and still get to be a one. I hope that answers your question.

            Perhaps now we can actually get back to the topic instead of once again, derailing it by focusing on the people who don’t love gay men and women and why they require defense instead of the actual people who need the support of this thread.

      • DR

        n the same way that I may not agree with gay marriage, but still love the person who is homosexual, I deserve the same treatment. Namely, that I am worth loving in spite of the things I do that you may not agree with. Yes, I believe that gay marriage is not a right. I believe that acting on homosexual tendencies IS a choice. There. I said it. You are all entirely free to disagree with me.>>>

        Lulu here’s the thing, here’s why it’s so much more than just “feel free to disagree with me”. I obviously do, but it’s not like we’re talking about the color of paint to put on a wall, you want orange and I wang beige. These are people who are being impacted so severely by the beliefs you’ve expressed here and are telling you that regardless of you loving them? They don’t feel it. They are harmed by your belief system. They don’t get a number of rights in the US as a result of you believing they should not be married. Gay kids who hear this message don’t feel loved either, as much as I’m sure you intend them to. They hurt themselves, believing that they aren’t holy enough or good enough to be married in the eyes of God. They can’t stop the impulse of being gay because it’s like you *being* a woman – it’s wound within their core. Some even kill themselves. And Christians feel really sorry about that – some even cry. But they are unwilling to let go of this belief system that is contributing to all of this. And for many of us, that translates into “Well that’s not my fault” and I wonder if those who believe that do because they don’t understand that the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is experienced by you within your interior but the math just doesn’t add up in the actual community. And don’t they get the last word on what their experience is of us?

        This is why you probably feel a lot of heat from a lot of us on this issue. These people are our friends, our family. They are our citizens, our neighbors. We are watching them suffer emotionally, spiritually, legally, financially – even legally! And i we care about that more than we care about Leviticus saying to not lay together. We believe that Jesus cares way, way more about the former than the latter. And we wish you would have the courage to actually take responsibility for the impact that you’re having – to actually listen to the mess what your intent vs. your impact is creating and at minimum, be willing to consider taking some responsibility for that if you aren’t willing to let go of the need to believe that gay men and women who are actively gay are somehow sinning in a very specific way (we’re all sinners) as a result of their orientation.

        • DR

          Please forgive me for all of those typos. I need to stop tying on my iPad (though I love my iPad).

          Anyway thanks for listening. I know I’m really passionate on this issue and have a tendency of being sarcastic and way too aggressive. I’m making some changes and hope that you didn’t feel pressed to a wall here. It’s difficult, to be honest, to know how to talk about this when it’s so urgent and the harm being caused is so grave. It’s hard to be patient (that’s no excuse).

    • Mike Ward

      Buzz,

      I noticed that too. It’s merely a platitude. For me that point was like a giant zit on the article. Whenever I read it that’s the only part I remember.

      • DR

        We choose what we remember and we focus on what serves us, do we not?

  • Michael Eric Hund

    Thank you, John.

  • Finney

    This is over-the-top.

    “…marriage should only be between a man and a woman is tantamount to saying that gays and lesbians are (pick your word/phrase) unnatural, inferior, morally corrupt, shameful, disgraceful, freakish, an abomination before God.”

    No, it isn’t. To say that sex should only between two consenting partners in a relationship is not to say that a non-consenting partner is disgraceful, or that people who have casual sex are generally morally corrupt. This is a complete non sequitur. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. To say that God created men for women is not to say that homosexuals are inferior to heterosexuals. To conclude thus assumes that heterosexuals are just as, if not more, virtuous than homosexuals in every other aspect of their lives. And that is not an assumption Wallis makes.

    • DR

      Wait a minute. There’s nothing that’s been said here about people having sex with multiple partners is a-ok. What gay men and women want (and a lot of us want for them) is to be “two consenting partners” that have sex with one another within the covenant of marriage and make sure you’re not telling them they are an abomination for doing so. That’s the framework for this discussion.

      You’re trying to define how the parts you’ve quoted are *received* by gay men and women and you can’t do that, you don’t have the last word on that. They do. You and others can certainly have the last word on what you *mean* to say – what you intend – and even what you ultimately believe. But you are also 100% responsible for what the impact is and what gay men and women are hearing about themselves as a result of your interpretations of Scripture.

      • Finney

        I used the example of people having sex with multiple partners as an illustration.

        “You’re trying to define how the parts you’ve quoted are *received* by gay men and women”

        How anyone interprets/misinterprets/applies an idea is irrelevant to my point. My point was saying that since X does not entail Y, by believing X one does not commit to believing Y. Believing that marriage is for persons of opposite genders, just as sex is for consenting persons, does not mean that married persons of the same gender are inferior or less loved by God, just as someone who participates in non-consensual sex is no less inferior. Because it doesn’t logically follow, homosexuals *shouldn’t* receive the message that way, and I am not in any responsible for someone who grossly misunderstands what I say.

        Note that Shore basically reasons that because homosexuals take Jim Wallis’ message to mean that they’re inferior, that Jim Wallis must be “saying” that they’re inferior. This is just fallacious. It’s like the following scenario: I say doing X is wrong. John Shore then accuses me of believing that people who have done, or are doing, X are inferior, abominations, and unnatural.

        Further, Shore is wrong when he says “Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them.”

        I believe that an act of selfishness is sin. I know that I have often acted selfishly. Does it follow that I cannot respect myself, or that I cannot love myself? I believe that everyone has behaved selfishly – does this mean that I cannot respect anyone? If so, then how could God love the world so much that he died for it, even though God believes that the world is sinful? How could Jesus tell us to love and pray for those who persecute us?

        • DR

          How anyone interprets/misinterprets/applies an idea is irrelevant to my point.>>>

          This is the way Christians who want to maintain that homosexuality is a choice made out of selfishness, etc. can stay theoretical. And you can do that I guess, it’s what the Pharisees did. They stayed very focused on debating the merits of the law in theoretical ways. That’s not the world Jesus lived in, nor is it really the world that human beings live in though which is becoming problematic for those of you who seem to want to keep this debate very conceptual.

          I am not in any responsible for someone who grossly misunderstands what I say.>>>

          I wonder what Jesus would have done if someone “grossly misunderstood” what He was saying and then went on to kill themselves or distance themselves from Him as a result? I wonder if He would have negated responsibility so summarily as you’re doing here?

          Simply put Finnay, this statement about not being responsible for people “misunderstanding you” is a very convenient way to stay very distant from the consequences of said point. Jesus was quite clear about how the fruit of our actions was determinate of the beliefs that generated the fruits. You can either allow gay men and women to tell you about the impact your theology is having on them – weigh that impact against the Gospel of Jesus and the ways He commands us to Love one another – or stay focused on what you want to believe is right vs. wrong and never let anyone who is gay inform or influence your point of view. If you’re truly interested in them experiencing Christ, ask them how the latter approach is working.

          • Finney

            DR, in light of what you said about my responsibility, I feel gravely responsible. So much that I feel as though I should commit suicide.

            This is all your fault, by the way, since as even you recognized, you’re responsible for the effects, reasonably foreseeable or not, of what you say upon the rest of us.

          • Finney

            More seriously,

            I find that you’ve grossly avoided replying to a single point I made.

            Tell me, DR: Should I lovingly say that doing X is wrong, if it is wrong?

            Calling me a pharisee doesn’t change a single thing. I don’t even know what you mean when you say I want to keep this debate “conceptual”. It’s like you’re willfully changing the subject.

            Tell me, if someone looked at what Jim Wallis said, that while he loves gay people no matter what, that having gay sex is wrong – do you think he is responsible for someone’s misinterpretation of his words?

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      I’m not sure you’re using the write examples to underscore your point. How can you relate straight couples/gay couples to consenting/non-consenting partners, or even worse, defending the non-consenting partner as somehow “disgraceful” in your poorly constructed comparison?

      Saying that marriage, which has been conclusively defined by the courts as a “basic right” is only for men and women implies that gays and lesbians don’t deserve basic rights. Period. And if you believe that gays and lesbians don’t deserve the same rights that straight couples do, then clearly you don’t believe they are equal. You DO believe that one is better, ergo the other is inferior.

      Now, whether that also implies “shameful, corrupt, disgraceful, etc…” is a matter of opinion, I think, but you have to admit that the descriptors certainly add to the fluency and effect of what John’s written. He’s a writer, that’s what writers do – they take a point and the draw it out, wrap it up in eloquent words and rhetoric, and place it front and center on a plate, garnish it with a few more exquisite points and serve it up. John does it well.

      • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

        “right” not “write.” However, it stands well as an unintended play on words.

        • http://www.bing.com/ Kassie

          What I find so itnetresing is you could never find this anywhere else.

  • Finney

    “then it is simply not feasible for you to at the same time claim to be against the bullying of gays”

    It’s not perfect people that deserve to be freed of bullying. It’s people. Homosexual or heterosexual, we all have our moral faults. It simply is “feasible” for Wallis to claim to be against bullying, just as it would for someone to support the rights of speech of people whose message he disagrees with.

    • DR

      Homosexual teenagers are the highest population of children to be bullied as well as kill themselves, this is well documented by even conservative Christian youth experts. . To triage – then highlight – this one particular group because of the danger we’ve put them in (in part due to the theology we offer that they are not created for a God-sanctioned marriage) is not dismissing anyone else who is being bullied.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    @Don Whitt — This is a reply to your “I’m pretty certain Jesus was gay. He never married, there’s no mention of him even dating and he hung-out with a dozen or so men ALL THE TIME. Let’s face it, if Jesus thought heterosexual marriage was so paramount to Christianity or Judaism he would have made a big show about getting married.” post; the reply tree got truncated preventing a direct link.

    Let’s look at what Jesus actually said on the matter of marriage, shall we?

    Matthew 19:9-12 — (New International Version)

    9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

    11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

    Matthew 19:9-12 — (Young’s Literal Translation)

    9`And I say to you, that, whoever may put away his wife, if not for whoredom, and may marry another, doth commit adultery; and he who did marry her that hath been put away, doth commit adultery.’

    10His disciples say to him, `If the case of the man with the woman is so, it is not good to marry.’

    11And he said to them, `All do not receive this word, but those to whom it hath been given;

    12for there are eunuchs who from the mother’s womb were so born; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who kept themselves eunuchs because of the reign of the heavens: he who is able to receive [it] — let him receive.’

    …..

    The word “eunuch” is of note: Obviously in this passage it can refer to castrated males, but it is also used metaphorically as well.

    For instance, verse 12 also indicates people who were either born with a lack of genitalia or (more likely) those who were born w/o a pre-disposition to the opposite sex. That could refer to either asexual people or same gender oriented people: We don’t know for sure but a strong argument can & has been made that Christ’s all inclusive message would use the largest possible definition of that term. Certainly His definition of “eunuch” is large enough to include people who are so dedicated to things of the spirit that they voluntarily accept a lifetime of celibacy in order to devote all their attention to loving God & serving their fellow human beings.

    The point of this passage is that marriage & its attendant responsibilities are to be treated pretty seriously, so seriously that if one can go through life w/o getting married, you’re actually better off.

    Since Christ never taught anything that He did not do Himself, I think we can safely assume He never got married. The theologian James Fox once speculated Christ had been married prior to His ministry but was a widower; he drew this inference from the (for the time) extremely enlightened manner which He interacted w/females He encountered in the Gospels. Personally, I think that reading, while not impossible, is an extreme long shot; if Christ had been married (as several of the Apostles were married) then there is no reason for it not to be mentioned in the Gospels.

    So we end up w/the following:

    a) It’s better to be so dedicated to God that marriage is no longer appealing

    b) If you can’t be that dedicated, then you should get married

    c) If you’re going to get married, stay married

    Now, some other readers of this text might interpret it as putting same gender orientation in the category of “not marriage” but I think that is too much of a stretch. The Bible repeatedly tells us that God wants us to love one another as we love ourselves, that He has no problem with us loving people of the same gender, and that He has no problem with public displays of affection between people of the same gender. While there was no tradition of same gender marriage in First Century Judea, we live in a different time & a different culture; there are ample legal reasons for extending the definition of marriage to same gender marriages.

    • Michael

      That’s what “Jesus actually said” because it appears in one Gospel? If it only appears in one Gospel the very first responsible exegetical question to ask is “Why are these words attributed to Jesus in Matthew? What point is he trying to make?” Once you’ve answered that you might be able to begin to comment on what’s going on here. (No, “exegesis” is not Italian for a former Messiah.)

      • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

        1) I assume all quotes attributed to Jesus in all 4 Gospels & Acts & Revelation are accurate as to content & meaning. There are some variances in phrasing but none in teaching. If you have evidence to the contrary, kindly provide it. Otherwise, this is the best we’ve got.

        2) Matthew is traditionally “the Gospel for the Jews” & delves more into Jewish law, history, custom & theology than the other Gospels. Since Jewish culture has long been noted for an intense interest in understanding the Word of God, we may safely assume the teachings in Matthew are meant to withstand scrutiny.

        3) The point He was trying to make was derived from His Matthew 19:3-8 teaching that divorce (for reasons other than “whoredom” — YLT; other translations say “fornication” or “immorality” but “whoredom” implies a more mercenary act) was not acceptable in God’s eyes & was permitted by Moses only as a response to human bitterness. When His disciples remarked that it would be better to never marry than to marry, divorce for unGodly reasons, & then be guilty of adultery, Jesus gave His teaching in verses 9-12 cited above.

        4) Jesus said not everyone would be able to receive this teaching, which could mean either their hearts were not open to it or their minds were not open to it. The way He phrases His response doesn’t make it sound like a deal breaker, however.

        • Michael

          Well, no … it’s not the best we’ve got. The best we’ve got is called “scholarship.”

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            I’m am interested in knowing any scholarship you have that demonstrates non-Biblical quotations from Jesus that are of equal or better authenticity to the Gospels’ quotes.

          • Don Whitt

            “non-Biblical quotations from Jesus”.

            First, PROVE Jesus existed. Then we’ll talk, Buzz. Since all of this is faith-based and, essentially, Christian Mythology, arguing facts is ridiculous.

            At some point, you listen to your heart and hope you’re right. That’s it. That’s all any of us has. Faith is a wish made manifest through man-made doctrine.

          • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

            Don, I beg your pardon. I assumed you were a fellow Christian arguing things from a Christian perspective.

            That a 1st century Jewish preacher known today as Jesus existed & taught the basis of what has now become the Christian faith is accepted as historical fact by virtually all serious historians. Exactly what He taught & questions re His divinity & resurrection are open to debate, but His reality as a historical personage is not in doubt.

            If you do not believe He existed, why are you debating any Christian theological points on this board? I mean, it’s like signing on to a Dodgers forum and wanting to discuss golf. We’re here to discuss Christian matters & matters from a Christian perspective (more specifically such matters as reflected in John Shore’s writing, since he’s the host; Hi, John!).

            If you want to ask for proof that Jesus existed, that the texts we have are trustworthy & accurately copied, etc., etc., and of course, etc., yes, we can do that — but let’s start a separate thread for that discussion.

            This discussion was on the issue of whether or not Sojourners turning down an ad from a GLBT ministry was a Christ-like act (‘cuz as Christians we are supposed to act as much like Christ as we can; hence the name, which means “little Christs”).

            In the course of debating that issue, I raised a side issue re love & respect & judgment; that led to yet another side issue.

            It’s kinda late in the game to start arguing first principles (i.e., the existence of Christ & the authenticity of the Gospels).. If you want to continue the original discussion or the side issue re judgment, yes, let’s, please.

            And if you want to start an entirely separate discussion re the existence of Jesus, that can be accommodated, too.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    @DR re May 14 post (again, previous reply thread got truncated):

    You’re doubtlessly right re confusing metaphors on my part making it difficult for some to follow my original point; I was posting my responses on the fly & probably could have done a better job re selecting examples if I had taken more time. When I post my version of this debate on my blog — in which I will be the clear cut winner* — I will re-write them to make them more apt & easier to understand.

    Now, as to the following portion of your thoughtful reply: “Do I ‘love’ people who are repulsed by gay men and women? No I don’t. I feel sorry for them, I’m not wishing them harm. I’m rooting for them to change. But I don’t respect them, I think they are doing harm and I say so. They aren’t my preferred people to hang out with at a dinner party – I think they hurt the world by their belief system and I don’t think they really care about that, if my experience with them is any indication. And yes, I’m a Christian. I don’t love everybody and still get to be a one. I hope that answers your question.”

    It does answer my question. Yes, I believe you are a Christian; I’m a Christian, too, & I acknowledge I’m a pretty miserable sinner who doesn’t love nearly as many people as he should.

    But in my case, I have to acknowledge my lack of love is in direct contravention to Jesus’ teachings & personal example. In Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 6:31-37 He teaches very specifically we are not to judge others, because we will be judged in turn by the exact same judgement we dish out. The Luke verses, in fact, go on about being pro-active, and demonstrating love to people we find unlovable w/o waiting for them to do anything nice to us first.

    So Jesus is teaching that love is a conscious choice we make that overrides whatever judgement or feeling we might have about a person as a whole or any aspect of their being. From Jesus’ POV, it is immaterial whether we respect a person or not prior to loving them: We are to love them regardless.

    I don’t think any of us is capable of seeing into the hearts & minds of others, so to say “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them” sounds a bit presumptuous. I mean, the trope of opposites attract, the uptight neat nut falling for the gross slob, the idealist falling for the reactionary, Beauty falling for the Beast is pretty thoroughly ingrained in all human cultures. If intimate romantic love can triumph over physical repulsion, why can’t spiritual love triumph over a lack of respect?

    It also begs the question of whether one can respect a person who does something one finds sinful: I can cite Bible verses that suggest smoking cigarettes is a sin; if I truly believe that, is it impossible for me to respect & love all the smokers I know & respect & love? (And don’t say smoking isn’t an innate personality trait; we’ve got lotsa evidence indicating addictive personalities are born that way & glom onto the first thing/s that come along & scratch that itch).

    Finally, Paul wrote in Romans 14:4 “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall.”

    To whit, is God’s mission for Jim Wallis & Sojourners to accept advertising from anybody who wants to place an ad on their site? Or is God’s mission for him/them to do something else, I dunno, maybe make it easier for people who are wondering if their ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality isn’t want God wants of them & maybe should be replaced w/a more enlightened view to actually, y’know, change those views?

    In which case, if they have a gut reaction of “This ad doesn’t seem like it’s a good match for us” then maybe one should give ‘em the benefit of a doubt. As cited in Luke 9:49-50 (KJV): “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”

    * That’s a JOKE, people — a J*O*K*E!

    • DR

      But in my case, I have to acknowledge my lack of love is in direct contravention to Jesus’ teachings & personal example. In Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 6:31-37 He teaches very specifically we are not to judge others, because we will be judged in turn by the exact same judgement we dish out. The Luke verses, in fact, go on about being pro-active, and demonstrating love to people we find unlovable w/o waiting for them to do anything nice to us first.>>>

      Hi Buzz,

      It’s my understanding that Jesus’s teaching here was that we are not to judge who is going to heaven and who is going to hell and that’s it – that is for The Father alone to judge. But we are absolutely called to judge how we are holding up to the litmus test of our behavior as the book of James so artfully calls us to as well. If not, we’re all like a bunch of doctors who are reviewing themselves but only when convenient. If we aren’t judging one another – if we don’t allow others, like the GLBT community to actually judge us? We won’t change. It’s only when we’re held up to the light, found lacking and it’s confirmed how we’re lacking that we get an opportunity to change.

      But what I want to point out to you is where your energy is focused on here and challenge you on that if I may. You seem almost exclusively focused on driving home the point that Christians who find gay men and women repulsive and struggle to love them as we’re called to also deserve love – that we should treat them well. Perhaps it’s because you weren’t being understood and wanted to clarify a number of times. But my point is this: many who are not in Church look at this focus and ask “Why i is he so focused on how Christians who don’t like gays should be loved according to Biblical terms when we have gay kids who are killing themselves?” For them – from what they’ve told me at least – it feels very myopic on your part. Sure it’s an interesting debate, but is that the debate God really cares about? Is how you or others are being treated why you don’t like what gay men and women do the primary issue here when these people feel scorned by and pushed away from Christ himself? So it’s the focus on this that always surprises me. It’s the choice of Mike Shields who said below (I’m paraphrasing) that he stopped paying attention to this piece once he saw the quote that you’ve been so focused upon. It’s a very odd dynamic to me.

      • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

        My understanding from the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer, and Christ forgiving those who persecuted & crucified Him is that we are to return good for evil, love the unlovable, turn the other cheek, and love those that treat us badly. Forgive 70×7, is His specific teaching, IIRC.

        I agree we are not to judge who may/may not go to Heaven, but that’s kinda tertiary to the whole “judge not” teaching.

        “Judge not” is clearly meant to apply to judging the individual; it does not mean ignoring or refusing to act on correcting wrong actions. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” etc.

        Jesus saw the sin in other people’s lives: The Samaritan woman, the woman accused of adultery, the woman who poured the perfume on his feet, the man crippled from birth, etc. He saw their sin, acknowledged their sin, but did not judge them for their sin.

        Rather, He tried to help them in what ever whatever way He could: Physical & spiritual healing & forgiveness.

        I think John S. is entirely within bounds when he criticizes Wallis & Sojourners for not running the ad: In doing that, John has focused on the action, which can be debated as to whether it was wise/moral or not.

        However, the point I keep returning to is the one about presuming we (rhetorical) can look in the hearts & minds of a 3rd party & judge if they are capable of love and/or respect based solely on what WE think they consider to be sinful behavior. That’s where WE start sinning, by being judgmental.

        Now, you ask why I keep “defending” people who hold the view that homosexuality is a sin. I’m not. I don’t give a rat’s ass what anybody else thinks is/is not a sin; I’ve got enough problems keeping track of my own moral behavior & standards (which are pretty damn low, but that’s another story…).

        When behavior impinges on another person or society at large, then the behavior in question is something to discuss & perhaps act on. F’r instance, I’ve got no problem throwing a repeat drunk driver in jail: Every minute they are behind bars is a minute they aren’t driving a vehicle under the influence which is a minute the roadways are demonstrably safer for everyone else.

        I have no respect for a person who thinks it’s okay or macho to drink & drive. That doesn’t mean I get to stop loving them. And just because I love them is not to excuse me from taking any reasonable steps (confiscating their car keys, calling the cops, etc.) to prevent their actions from harming a 3rd party.

        In the context of this discussion, we could say the belief that drinking alcohol is sinful because it might lead to drunk driving is like the belief that acting on homosexual orientation is sinful: One can see where such a belief would originate w/o having to agree with it. If the person who believes such a thing is not acting to harm another person because of those beliefs (and, yes, I understand the argument that contributing to a negative cultural gestalt is bad; bear w/me here), then we are within bounds as Christians to debate the validity of their belief. Where we go out of bounds is to judge their hearts & minds and say “because you hold that drinking alcohol is a sin, you must not respect the person who drinks, and if you don’t respect the person who drinks you can’t possibly love them.”

        That’s in a direct contravention of what Jesus taught.

        So that’s why I keep coming back to the same point. It’s a core doctrine. It’s what’s supposed to separate us from non-Christians.

        In short, it’s a Big Deal.

        The thing that concerns me in the statement “If you don’t respect somebody–and Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin cannot truly respect any gay or lesbian person—then you can’t love them” is not the homosexuality portion or the belief portion, it’s the judgment portion.

        Undermining a core teaching of Christ seems to me to be a much bigger problem than fretting over who loves who.

        • DR

          Are you suggesting that to proclaim love without respect is something less than love is actually undermining a core teaching of Christ? That’s quite a stretch, I don’t agree with that at all. It seems like you’re working awfully hard to dissect this particular graph of John’s when the spirit of what he wrote is so clear.

          Anyway it seems like we’re going to just agree to disagree. I don’t believe that love can exist without respect. I may “respect” you enough to acknowledge that someone gets have the last word on what they believe about where gay men and women fit on the ultimate holy scale. I can acknowledge if said person doesn’t like gay people. But do I judge the damage they do? Absolutely. You and I are very different people with vastly different priorities which includes the time spent on what we want to debate. I want to make sure that gay men and women can sit next to me at church, feel the presence of God there through Jesus while they are with their partner. I’d like them to be married. I’d like for them to stop hating themselves as a result of what we as Christians are telling them. When it comes to this conversation, I have no competing agenda, this is so clearly the priority to me that I can’t seriously entertain any suggestion that loving gay men and women means you don’t have to respect them and spend a number of comments making sure you feel understood when you aren’t at risk of suicide as a result of what the Christian community is telling you. It’s weird how many times I bring that up, no one who is uncomfortable with gay men and women will ever touch that. Anyway, thanks for the discussion.

      • Allie

        It’s interesting, that word “repulsive.” I’ve spoken to straight people who claim to have an innate, instinctive feeling that homosexual activity is repulsive. I imagine some of them, at least, are telling the truth about their feelings as they experience them.

        Thing is – so what? Saints wash the feet of lepers, and most people find leprosy pretty repulsive. Being repulsed by something or someone doesn’t get you out of behaving properly. Being repulsed is a character flaw, no more, no less, which says nothing about the object of the repulsion and everything about the person who feels it.

  • Julian

    “That is necessarily the correlative truth to “the only legitimate, God-pleasing marriage is between a man and a woman.” That’s what those words of yours mean, friend.”

    Rubbish, Mr. Shore. Are you unable to understand someone’s comments without imposing your meaning on them? Apparently so. How else can you explain this illogical conclusion?

    No, I’m not entering the general argument, just picking you up on something you shouldn’t be allowed to get away with.

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

      ???

    • cat rennolds

      so, then, answer this: If gays and lesbians are not (insert derogatory term of choice here), then why CAN’T they get married? What logical reason can you give that does not imply homosexuals are somehow less valuable or less valid than heterosexuals?

      John’s logic is sound, he’s just leaving out a lot of steps in the proof, since they’re fairly self-evident. Just because you can’t follow it, doesn’t mean it isn’t logical.


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