Conservative Christian Turns Progressive Christian! (Bwahahahahah …)

Brian W. has been steadily commenting on my blog for six months. He’s one of our token Conservative Christians.

He was anyway.

On my blog Brian gets beat up. If there’s one thing you can say about the people who regularly comment on my blog (and you know who you are!), it’s that they do not let a point drop. Showing up on my blog talking about how, say, being gay is a choice, is like strolling into a hardware store carrying a 40-lb. magnet. You get nailed.

The first sentence of the first comment Brian ever made on my blog was: “I simply don’t know how a Christian could marry an unbeliever, I just don’t see ANY biblical support for such a union.”

I almost felt sorry for him.

One of the next things he wrote was: “The doctrine of Hell is a red-herring smoke screen unbelievers throw out as to why they or others can’t, don’t or won’t believe in Christianity. The fault is YOURS, not the judge.”

I liked Brian. He was always thoughtful, gentle, respectful, knowledgeable, gracious–and durable. Man, that guy can take hits. It amazed me that day after day he kept showing up on my blog. It was like watching a cat again walk into a dog park.

But Brian W. believed what he believed—and knew why he believed what he believed—and he wanted to share with others those beliefs, and the reasoning behind them. Worked for me. (Plus, he bought hard copies of my books Penguins and I’m OK–and liked them! So, you know: really worked for me. I’m easy like that. )

So two days ago Brian left this comment deep in one of the comment threads to my post Meet Scott Anderson, Soon To Be the First (Openly) Gay Minister Ordained by Presbyterian U.S.A.:

I am amazed on the journey God put me on these last several months; what started off as a fairly innocuous friend request on Facebook to John (we attended the same high school and graduated the same year). I find myself here now with a complete new mindset. I consider myself quite the “progressive conservative” Christian, living in California, but I soon discovered through this blog how clueless I really was about homosexuality. I’m not (yet) a rainbow flag waving champion of gay rights, but I’m now keenfully aware how verbal and written dogmatic conservative biblical beliefs can cause such pain and suffering, and is actually COUNTER productive for the cause of Christ (salvation for all through His Gospel). I still have a long way to go – but I see the error of my ways – because of people on here. Praise God……

And there you have it.

YouTube, movies, DVDs, video games, iPods, iPhones, iPads … and still what matters most is words on a page computer screen. It’s still, above all, about reasoned conversation, open-minded interaction, thoughtful exchange.

A great thanks this morning to all of you here who so consistently do so very much to engage, welcome, gently challenge, and above all show you care. I don’t want everyone in the world to think the same way; how boring would that be? But in my dreams, people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives listen to one another. They reflect. They commune. They empathize. Together they—together we—grow.

Thank you, so much, for helping make that dream come true.

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About John Shore

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

  • Christy

    Am feeling all warm, like homemade bread. Thanks for letting us use nails and 40 pound magnets inside your living room. (Sorry about the light fixtures.)

    • Mindy

      wish there was a LOVE button, Christy!

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

    I too have learned so much from this little here blog of Johns. His entries have challenged me to think outside my theological box and to alter how I viewed things previously. I don’t think it was by accident that I discovered John’s writings, and I visit this site often, even if I don’t always comment.

    Keep it up.

    Does anyone have a crowbar? I got a few three pennies, that need prying.

  • Don M. Burrows via Facebook

    Ex-conservative Christians (aren’t we all?) often make the best progressive ones, because we’ve heard (and made) all the other arguments before, and worked through them ourselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Peryam/100000746253028 Liz Peryam via Facebook

    Spiritual growth and advancement is what it’s all about. Humanity’s evolution in consciousness.

  • Mindy

    I admit to being pretty much blown away by that comment of Brian’s – so much so that I teared up and grinned like an idiot simultaneously. I definitely tossed my share of nails at his magnet, and his resilience, to me, showed a desire to learn. And he did. And I love him for it.

  • Erin D.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who teared up reading that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pat-Carrithers/100001613021102 Pat Carrithers via Facebook

    I firmly believe you cannot ethically hold ANY belief unless you have deeply, and honestly dug deep into opposing thoughts/beliefs—sometimes even to the extent of living in those other paths.

  • Suz

    To Brian W: like so many Christians, your heart has always been in the right place. The (obvious) depth of your love for God is almost mind boggling; it has led you to open up to people who share that love, but came to the same “place,” from very different directions. This is not an “I told you so,” because nobody ever needed to tell you that God loves each and every one of us. At the core of Christianity, there is no “us vs. them.” We are all “us” in God’s eyes, it’s man who makes distinctions. You are simply getting past man’s distinctions.

    Thank you again, John, for this blog, for reaching out to ALL of God’s children. That’s what Jesus did. Would that we all might try so hard to follow his example.

  • shadowspring

    Oh, so that’s why I was called a “liberal” when I pointed out that the proof texts for “only marry other believers” are taken out of context and misapplied. I thought it was an original idea that I just happened to notice; I was really surprised when an entire blog of discourse was shut down over that observation.

    Hmmm, I keep getting called liberal, even accused these days of not being a Christian, because I believe that there actually are some major problems with extra-biblical teachings in the conservative Christianity within which I have safely snuggled for all these years. To my surprise, there is not much critical thinking going on, and very little tolerance for those who engage in such.

    Recently I argued against the over-emphasis on “virginity” as a demand of scripture- which is not AT ALL the same thing as being pro-promiscuity. I remember a youth group stunt where a wedding cake is brought in , girls are asked to leave the room, and guys are encouraged to eat all they want with their bare hands. When the girls return to the room, the leader tells that the disgusting mess of cake is the equivalent of a girls heart if she has ever loved (much less had SEX) with another person before marriage.

    0.0

    That is NOT a biblical teaching! Purity is about one’s sincere love for Christ and others. A boy/girl who has been molested or raped would be devastated and shamed to the core by looking at that cake. Boys/girls who have had crushes on anyone, or even honest relationships that didn’t work out, are unjustly shamed and humiliated by an emphasis on virginity rather than the pure, holy love of Christ.

    I don’t think my thought is that hard to understand, but apparently it’s too much of a stretch for today’s Christian. I was told I was not a Christian and pro-fornication because of my intellectually honest critique of a bad snippet of misapplied doctrine.

    So, hi Brian! From one dissenter to another, one (I might add) who wholly believes in the infallible word of Christ and endeavors to rightly divide the Word of Truth in the light of the life of Jesus Christ,

    SS

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      I wonder if they ever did the same cake thing, only having girls eat it with thier bare hands to bring the boys in later to say, “Hey, boys, here is your heart if you’ve been in love before finding that special lady.”

      Seriously, pinning the ruined wedding cake soley in the girls? Sexist much?

      • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com/ Blake

        If I was in that group, and a girl, I’d just be pissed I didn’t get any cake.

        And also emotionally scarred.

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

          Awesome comment.

      • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

        Guys already know gals are gonna break their hearts, but that’s okay; we don’t think with our hearts. ;)

        • Soulmentor

          LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • L.SS.

          that’s funny! … but actually breaking guys’ hearts is not funny. i’ve seen just as much psychological damage in men as in women from emotionally abusive relationships, maybe worse because it’s more taboo to talk about it for guys.

          i say this as a woman… i was raised with pretty unpleasant ideas about gender roles (simultaneously patriarchal AND man-disdaining) and had to re-learn that men are really people in order not to hurt my husband.

          • Diana A.

            This is so true. Men are taught the roles they are “supposed” to play from day one, just like women are. And women as well as men can be very harsh when it comes to reinforcing those roles. And your remark about simultaneously patriarchal and man-disdaining paradox–this attitude leaves men in as much of a bind as the virgin-whore paradox does for women.

          • cat rennolds

            me too. a rigidly patriarchal system pretty much sets men up for disdain. I was literally taught to nod and smile and obey in public, and when I wanted something, to make him think he thought of it, because men have such fragile egos that we must make them believe we think they are above reproach.

            where’s the room for love in that?

          • Diana A.

            “…and when I wanted something, to make him think he thought of it, because men have such fragile egos that we must make them believe we think they are above reproach.”

            My mother used to call that “going all the way around Robin’s barn,” to get what she wanted and was somewhat puzzled that I didn’t want to use that method.

          • L.SS.

            i’m glad you guys made these comments cos i could have thought it was something weird that my family invented. although just recently i read similar things in Frank Schaeffer’s post-fundamentalist memoirs. but his family was really weird, too. (both his family and my family were also weird in some good ways)

          • Christy

            Thanks for this, L.SS.

      • Diana A.

        I agree.

      • Christy

        We didn’t have a cake eating demonstration. But the sexism was blatant at our Baptist school. Girls were limited in how they could dress because it was “our responsibility to be modest so as not to tempt the boys into lusting (or worse) after us.” They definitely preached a message of “girls who dress inappropriately shouldn’t be surprised if something bad happens to them. That’s just the way it is.” The boys could wear shorts and tank tops for PE while girls had to wear long, full culottes for sports and PE and short-sleeved shirts. No apparent thought, of course, was given to the notion that girls had any carnal thoughts about boys based on what they wore.

    • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com/ Blake

      I went to a Christian school that taught abstinence only “sex-ed”. It was only recently, in a therapy session, that I decided sex would be an OK thing to have. (Though I am still incredibly shy and awkward so I wonder if I ever will) My point is, I’d like to know more about a Bible interpretation that doesn’t mandate abstinence, since that’s all I’m familiar with.

      • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

        I went to a church like that. Sex was terrifying! And also, they made us sit through ALL of that video series “Hell’s Bells.” apparently rock music was going to lead us straight down the path to hell, via sex and drugs.

        • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com/ Blake

          argh! I remember one speaker that came to my school talked about how Christian bands that don’t have the name “Jesus” in all their songs and sing about romance are wrong. So dumb.

      • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

        The Decalogue proscribes adultery, which is betrayal of a person whom the adulterer is officially committed to (so it’s adultery top cheat on a fiance). While there are several verses condemning prostitution (for both parties involved) and for abandoning the faith for personal hedonistic pleasure, there are no verses specifically prohibiting premarital sex. Polygamy & concubinage are tolerated but not encouraged.

        • Christy

          A wise and lovely Biblical scholar, whom I respect, at the Chautauqua Institution, described it this way: Adultery is breaking a covenant/contract between married or betrothed people. There really was no proscription against premarital sex among single people. The verses about virgins always refer to women, and, in an age absent DNA testing where one’s success in life was measured by lineage and number of descendants, female virginity had more to do with assuring proper familial lineage than moral sensibilities since Jewish law did not require a man to provide for his illegitimate children (see Ishmael). Women could be stoned who had committed adultery in order to assure a resulting pregnancy did not “pollute” the husband’s blood line with children that might not be his. The man with whom she cheated could be punished also for damaging the husband’s property.

          • Allie

            My father once pointed out to me that the OT emphasis on purity of line makes a lot of sense if you consider it from the angle that God was planning to incarnate himself in a person descended from those people. God might want to be pretty careful about who his ancestors were. I don’t necessarily endorse his view, but it’s an interesting point to consider.

          • Christy

            Well, seeing as Jesus is of the house and lineage of David, an adulterer, and by extension, a likely descendent also of the decadence of Solomon…..

          • Diana A.

            And yet there are five female ancestors listed in Matthew 1:

            1) Tamar, who conceived Perez and Zerah by pretending to be a prostitute and making it with her father-in-law (not that he didn’t have it coming.) (Genesis 38)

            2) Rahab, the mother of Boaz, who may have been the Canaanite prostutute named Rahab who hid the Israelite spies in Jericho in exchange for her own life and the lives of her family. (Joshua 2)

            3) Ruth, the Moabite, who engaged in what might be regarded as sexually questionable behavior (nice girls do not show up at the threshing floors of their employers and uncover their “feet” while they are sleeping–even if they are told by their mothers-in-law to do so.) (Ruth 3)

            4) Bathsheba. Speaking of David being an adulterer…. (2 Samuel 11-12:25)

            5) And finally, Mary, the mother of Jesus herself. “Yeah, yeah, the Holy Spirit came upon you and the power of the Most High covered you. Likely story. Now tell us what really happened.” Now keep in mind, I’m enough of a biblical literalist to believe that this actually happened (I stipulate to all miracles.), but you try being a pregnant teenager telling your parents that story and see where it gets you!–(Luke 1:26-38. See Matthew 1:18-25 for Joseph’s reaction. Can you blame the poor man for having doubts?

            So if God was trying to keep the line pure, he didn’t do such a great job of it.

          • Christy

            So, Pastor Bob, if you’re listening (er, reading), where’d the Church get the idea that God requires perfection of us?

      • Christy

        Blake, our schools likely had a lot in common, but that’s been awhile ago now. I can’t speak for all liberal Christians, but I think another way of looking at your question – and responding to it – is that, for me, what the Biblical interpretation I understand mandates is love and commitment and respect and compassion and selflessness and responsibility and honesty and maturity and fidelity in our relationships, both for and with and to ourselves as well as the other person. (This is not meant to be authoritative nor comprehensive and is purely my opinion).

      • Allie

        It’s important to remember that all parts of the Bible were written before DNA testing. The only way for a man to be certain he was raising his own children was to sleep with a virgin. Note the absence of any verses demanding a man be a virgin.

        Not to mention that getting a woman pregnant and failing to care for her and her children (which meant marriage) is a pretty shoddy thing to do even by today’s standards. And in the age before reliable birth control, sex meant babies, period. As someone pointed out on another thread, even the most reliable birth control fails… but it makes the risk reasonable. It’s like playing football versus playing Russian Roulette. Football has serious risks, even fatal risks, but many people consider them worth taking. Most people don’t consider Russian Roulette a good idea.

        It’s impossible to know what the Biblical authors would have written about sexual behavior in an era where all babies could be identified by a simple test, the risk of pregnancy was minimal, the tribes were not constantly at war, and hardly any babies died. It’s not a matter of moral relativity, changing morality for changing times: it’s a matter of applying the SAME moral code, that you shouldn’t do things which hurt people, to a completely different situation.

    • Allie

      What bothers me most about the cake crowd is the dishonesty of it. I wonder how many, if any, of the adults teaching this lesson were virgins when they married? How many of the ones who were virgins had inadvisable young first marriages, divorced, and started over?

      It’s not enough to decry the policy if adults aren’t honest about their own experiences. I had sex as a teenager. GREAT sex. It did not spoil me for marriage and I don’t regret one moment of it. I have been happily married for nineteen years to a Christian man. At least in part because I had good experiences with sex as a young person, I have a happy and positive attitude towards sex in my marriage. My husband, not being a freak, also had a normal and active teenage sex life, and doesn’t consider me a spoiled wedding cake.

      • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        Be careful how you word things there…

        There are a few of us born into this world who just (apparently naturally) have no interest in cake at all. While I’ll call myself a freak, I’d rather others didn’t. I’m weird that way.

        • Allie

          Sorry Shadsie, I didn’t mean to imply that virgins were freaks, just that men who consider women spoiled wedding cake were freaks.

          Obviously different people have different desires – I’m betting a lot of people who post here were bookish and shy as young people, and not exactly wild teenagers.

        • L.SS.

          i always thought everybody should be celibate until marriage, because i didn’t have any trouble doing that.

          then i realized: the combination of extremely overprotective parents, a puritanical worldview, low libido, and associating intimacy with a high degree of trust, … well, possibly i’d had an easier time staying a virgin than some people. but i should not therefore look down on people who might have been wired a little more enthusiastically, if they didn’t manage it.

          (i would never have looked down on people who had been raped, nor was i raised to. but the prude viewpoint? i was all over it.)

          • Allie

            “Didn’t manage it” implies trying but failing.

          • L.SS.

            not sure what you meant by that, but curious to know. was i giving an inaccurate implication?

            i was under the impression that a lot of (especially religious young people, but others also) value, in theory, celibacy before marriage, but just didn’t actually, in the heat of the moment … quite make it to marriage. which i think should be not a big deal, especially when there is the intention of commitment. anyway that was what i meant by “not manage”.

            i guess i don’t think it’s that big a deal, either, if people *intentionally* go into a committed relationship including sex, before or without getting married. especially since some aren’t allowed to (not just same-sex unions but what if the person you want to marry is undocumented? in a lot of states they can’t marry either) …

          • L.SS.

            ok i went back and read your earlier post that had some of your experiences: so, maybe you read my comment as judging people who *didn’t* even try to be celibate. and yeah, i guess i kind of was. i have to realize that [my emphasis on commitment and on intimacy ONLY in situations of absolute trust] is not so much moral (though i always thought it was) as personal, and that doesn’t work out the same for others who are, like i said, “more enthusiastically wired”.

    • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

      Yup. It just tells all survivors that there’s never any hope for them, that no one will ever love them, that they’re damaged, filthy, less-than, that they have to apologize for what happened to them because now they can’t offer their spouse the purity that is required.

      And then the whole reinforcement of “save yourself because your body isn’t yours it belongs to your future spouse” is skeevy for survivors because they were treated like their body wasn’t theirs and no one in Christianity is telling them differently.

      I would say it’s hard for them to understand because beliefs are before people. So they believe the abstinence messages they use is perfect and right, if it destroys some people along the way, that’s on THEM for not conforming to the “right” message.

      That’s actually probably where the difference lies between the Christian who can see things differently and the one who can’t. Whether being right, having a nice neat little theology with it’s blacks and whites and rules and absolutes comes first, regardless of it’s real-world implications, or if genuinely loving people, listening to them, and seeing what those messages do to others matters more.

      • L.SS.

        i wonder if the people who teach the purity lessons have any clue that there might be victims/survivors (or future ones, who would still remember that lesson and be further damaged psychologically) in their classes?! they should. if i were in a church i would want to tell the ones who teach the teenagers that they should be more aware of how this could hurt people.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.wordpress.com/ Lore

      Because someone has to say it….

      THE CAKE IS A LIE!

      • Donald Rappe

        Yup.

      • A’isha

        Amen!

      • cat rennolds

        Does it have electric double-bore rhubarb?

    • Jack Heron

      I think this sums up my feelings about the purity cake:

      http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1619#comic

  • Christelle Lotze Jones via Facebook

    LOVE this! I SO relate to his journey ;)

  • RayC

    John, this is an inspiring post. It is heartening to see individuals with enough self-insight to open their minds to new ideas or ways of looking at the status quo. If you are not continually refining your worldview than you are not fully engaged with life. I know I have a ways to go concerning my relationship with Christianity.

    Being an ex-Jehovah’s Witness doesn’t mean that I don’t still carry around those fundamentalist understandings of what it means to be a Christian. In fact, I am always verging on not being Christian and may well not be one. I don’t know, but I do know that I will never stop refining my relationship to Christianity and religion in general.

  • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    I seem to remember defending Brian as not-a-troll. He seemed too driven by genuine inquiry for that. Never discourage people from asking questions, even if they don’t always know how to ask sensitively at the time.

    I don’t know if a person’s brave or stupid for taking so many hits so consistently and showing up for more, but if they learn something about different perspectives from it, it’s all good. I say this with a bit of admiration – I stopped commenting on a blog I like to read completely because I got slammed there once. I lived and learned and even apologized, but… I’m just not commenting anymore because I cannot take being slammed by smart people (who get set off a lot – I’ve observed some of the contention that goes on there on a regular basis).

  • theotheranonymous

    People can and do learn. Something I need to keep in mind, not just when others are being pig-headed but when I think I am so right and hot and maybe I ain’t! All of us need to practice tolerance no matter how hard others make it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nwbuckeye Pat Hux via Facebook

    I can’t begin to name all who influenced me when I was in the conservative stream – and I always find it difficult to re-trace my steps….. even in my sporadic journaling… but it’s good to be able and remember sometimes, knowing from whence I come, lol.

  • Wes

    Wonderful story, and a real tribute to Brian, as well as the readers of this blog. My wife and I were both very fundamentalist Christians (before we met) and it took major upsets in each of our lives to bring us to the point where we could rationally examine our beliefs and decide what needed changing. Brian is to be commended for being able to do that without needing the personal drama as motivation.

  • http://supercrayons64.blogspot.com/ Blake

    I was a conservative Christian once, too. I have a small group of friends that all went to the same conservative Christian church in high school, but we are all liberal now and drink and swear and shit. They’re my family.

    • Iolanthe

      You mean you didn’t shit before? ;->

      (I know … you meant it in the easy colloquial “‘n’ shit …” way. But that isn’t how I first read it! ;->)

      • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        No, you see, he couldn’t do that, either. What if the Rapture happens while you’re on the toilet? God wouldn’t be happy about that….

        • Diana A.

          There is this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Blake-Parker/32601632 Blake Parker via Facebook

    There’s a Chick tract where 2 guys are in a car and one convinces the other to be liberal. Then a train hits the car and they go to Hell, but it turned out the first guy was the devil all along. Haw! Haw! I only bring this up because of your evil laugh.

  • Cynthia Haug-West via Facebook

    God bless Brian W. There’s a whole church full of staunch conservatives who kicked me out when I came out, and severed all ties with me because it was “immoral” to stay in relationship with me while I was “in willful sin.” I hope and pray that someday my former friends will have the humility and openness of heart that Brian has. Meanwhile, thanks to a wonderful therapist and a skilled psychiatrist and a ragtag bunch of genuinely loving Christians, I am managing well the PTSD that was my consolation prize after seven years of brainwashing. That whole forgiveness thing…well, I’m still working on that, too.

  • http://thesewingexperiment.wordpress.com/ Sensible Seamstress

    Former conservative fundamentalist evangelical non-rational Christian here, too. My pendulum went from that… all the way over to There-Is-No-God, which is also a bleak place. I’m settling back into the rational middle now (umm, not exactly the middle… more left than middle). This blog has been one of the few things that have made me feel my “wasted” years were not in vain. My background makes me more understanding of where the conservatives are coming from, and better able to sincerely plead with them to act like actual followers of Christ, radical liberal socialist that he was.

    Thank you for all your work, John, and for the hope you offer that I might someday call myself “Christian” again and not have to be ashamed of it.

  • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

    John, you’re right, grown men can cry……6 months ago who, besides God, would have thought that Brian W would have had such a heart changing experience. God is good, merciful, loving and oh so patient .

    I’m going to be blubbering all weekend now John, thanks alot!!

    • denver

      Good on you, Brian, it takes guts to examine yourself and your beliefs no matter which way it turns out, let alone do it on a public forum. Isn’t it amazing the paths we are led to trod upon?

    • Donald Rappe

      Yup, the love of God is real, real love from a real God. Not by knowledge, but by faith.

  • http://lotuslandfineart.com W. Lotus

    I’m a former pentecostal/evangelical Christian, so I understand a little bit about the change Brian W experienced. The changes we go through when we open our eyes and ears and hearts to real people we used to dismiss as “the other” is incredible!

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    I have had a similar journey. A couple of years ago I was about 90 degrees from where I am now. I guess the difference for me was that I wasn’t content to find a comfort zone and park in it, I wanted to know what Cog & Christ were really getting at.

    You follow that path, and it takes you to some strange but wonderful places.

    • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

      God, not “Cog”; that’ll teach me not to lean back while typing…

      • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        I have just spent the majority of my day off today playing a stupid rpg videogame. One of my team character’s magic-summons is the “Cosmic Cog” – in which he is able to invoke help in battle from the Guardian of Time. So, my mind now has this bizarre image in it of a dapper-dressed cat-creature hanging out with Jesus inside a giant hourglass.

        Thank you for this!

        (The game I was playing was Wild Arms3 for the PS2, by the way. It’s sort of High Noon meets high magic).

  • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

    Oh, my. I can definitely relate. My own journey wasn’t displayed on a public blog, though. I think it takes real courage to face yourself so openly, in full view of everyone. Wow.

  • Soulmentor

    As one of those who challenged Brian, I now say to him, Welcome Brian, to the freedom of using your God given intellect and knowing, I hope, that permitting yourself to ask and and listen and begin to think just maybe even the Bible doesn’t have ALL the answers and that just maybe the Spirit of God might be speaking to someone other than those approved by whatever religious influence you came from indicates a stronger “faith” than unexamined adherence to traditional “truth”.

    I was struck by the words of a former Senate Chaplain, who’s name escapes me now. He once said, “If what we think it right or wrong further divides the family of man, there must be something wrong with what we think is right.”

  • DR

    This entry makes me cry.

    Brian, you’ve been such a huge part of my journey as well. I would get so angry with you -nasty, very personal. I would wake up sometimes with an internet hangover, kind of shocked at the license I gave myself to speak to you in the ways I did. But you hung in and hung in and it showed how committed you were to Christ. I’m humbled by your devotion and truly, Jesus used you in some very important ways in my life. Thank you.

    • Mindy

      Humbling, isn’t it, DR? Now, I propose a big group hug.

      :)

      • Don Whitt

        Boo-yah!

      • Christy

        Hugs all around! =)

      • A’isha

        I want in on this group hug!

  • Wren Paasch via Facebook

    Lo, whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, John?

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    Yes. God bless Brian W. indeed!

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    @ Blake Parker: Reason #5062 (give or take) as to why I don’t like Chick tracts. I said it once and I’ll say it again: “Chick tracts, gag!”

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      Not even to make merciless fun of?

      They’re excellent snark material.

      • Diana A.

        True, but this is one of those issues I’m “sensitive” about. They just trigger something in me.

  • L.SS.

    Brian W, i have been through a similar journey about these matters in the past few years, and reading about this is a good reminder that what i now think makes perfect sense is what i fought against just recently.

    and the posters who’ve mentioned love are right. one time a christian and lesbian friend, whom i really respect, said a thing (i think she said it about politics) that percolated in my mind for several years. i don’t remember her exact words but this was the idea: God is all about love, so we can figure that if a thing is about hate, then probably God isn’t into that, and if a thing is about love then probably God is ok with it.

    much as i tried, i could not argue with that.

  • SugarMags

    This is just perfect. Like many other posters, I’ve been on a similar journey. Mine started with facing divorce from an emotionally abusive husband, in a church that insisted he was “repentant” and that I was wrong for leaving him. I read some of John’s posts about abuse and was hooked on his blog. Then I got to reading his views on homosexuality and I got a little scared. He challenged everything I believed. But then I began to really RELATE to homosexuals in a real, personal way. In almost every post on this blog related to “homosexuality”, I could replace that word with “divorce” and it would apply to my life. So in the process of changing my opinion of divorce among Christians, I also changed my view of homosexuality among Christians. Thanks to all of your for your insights, patience and love.

    • Iolanthe

      Mine was *physically* abusive, and I got the same treatment.

      I was supposed to “pray over” the hairbrush he used to beat me with.

      Of course, I was also starting to have doubts that Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party were really God’s Excellent Servants on This Earth, as we were told from the pulpit, along with “Whoever is greatest in (our silly church) will also be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

      By the time they received special revelation of a “third tithe”, where we were supposed to fork over *30%* of our before-tax income, I had my bags packed and was out of there within weeks.

      • Christy

        Bless you both in the courage it took to arrive at this point. Continued blessings as your journeys carry on. John’s page has certainly been a Rock Cairn on mine. Know you are not alone and are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who not only support you but see themselves in your stories….and understand.

    • L.SS.

      yes, for me it was also the parallels … with treatment of neurologically different people and nonwhites/immigrants, specifically.

  • Reed

    I’ll place this revelatory feel-good moment on a shelf until I can fully appreciate it.

    How very nice that Brian was just clueless. Now that he’s clued in, perhaps someday he WILL be “a rainbow flag waving champion of gay rights.” For the present, I’m pleased that he’s not actively hostile. Maybe he’ll speak up in real life some time.

    Meanwhile, here it is October again. Spirit Day will be on the 20th (as it was last year) – and, as Jamey Rodemeyer’s suicide is still a fresh wound, I’m strangely numb and un -moved by Brian’s encouraging news.

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

      I get this, Reed. I’m glad u said it.

      • Reed

        Thanks for understanding. I tried to keep “the harsh” dialed down.

        • DR

          It was important you said that, I’m glad you did too.

    • L.SS.

      thank you for the reminder.

    • L.SS.

      it is a good reminder.

  • Dave Bowling via Facebook

    Wow, how wonderful when enlightenment brings about understanding. DR and Brian W are to both be commended! If only we all were able to be free to converse and disagree (even argue) without losing the sight of the One that gives us reason and ability to think and feel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrtmahan Judy Raye T. Mahan via Facebook

    So enjoyed reading this and all the comments. I can relate to so many.

  • kimberly

    wow. big, goofy smile, walking around the living room, wanting someone to tell, WOW!!!! this, this is what it means to keep faith that love wins. love matters. it perseveres, it wins. john, man, love WINS!!!! :-)

  • http://www.jameyslaw.org Chad Jeremy

    I think its awesome, because I was Brian as well.. Dont forget to go to http://www.jameyslaw.org to sign the petition. Please share with all you know as well..

    Thank You!!

    • Melody

      Just signed it. Thanks for the link!

  • http://GraceEmerges.blogspot.com Brad Duncan

    Similar story for me, shared on my blog at: http://graceemerges.blogspot.com/p/my-story-in-progress.html

    “The Good News of Freedom is my story. And it’s still in progress. If you have doubts about your faith in Christ, it could be (or maybe not) related to the challenges I faced. See for yourself…”

  • Concerned

    Another sheep led astray by a wolf! Brian run from this site as fast as you can. Ask your questions from legitimate biblical scholars. Don’t let your self be deceived!

    John and the rest… you should be ashamed of yourselves!

    • Christy

      The shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice….and once you hear that voice like no other time in your life, it is undeniable, and you will follow His voice wherever it leads even though the path may seem unfamiliar…..and it will bring peace. Know that you are loved, Concerned, and fear not.

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

      Yes, Church Lady.

    • Melody

      You’ve just demonstrated Rule #1 in Trolling 101: Saying you’re concerned when really you’re just an asshole.

    • cat rennolds

      Wolves don’t lead sheep astray. They just eat ‘em.

    • DR

      Another hysterical, overwrought Conservative Christian who freaks at the idea of someone changing their mind. The world you live in must be terrifying. If you didn’t do so much damage, I’d feel sorry for you (I kind of do anyway).

      • cat rennolds

        yup. hey john, write us a piece on why otherwise decent sensible persons (and not so decent, sensible persons) froth at the mouth when someone challenges their belief system. I’ m too busy to write it and it needs to be out there, so the rest of us haev something to defend ourselves (and them). With shorter, easier soundbites than I usually am capable of producing.

    • Christelle

      John and Friends- You led me astray too… THANK YOU for doing so!!! and I’ll keep running alright… to the left! Love you guys :)

      • Melody

        LOVE this. Thank you!

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

        Christelle: love it. thank you.

    • Brian W

      Concerned,

      Thanks for your “concern”, I ask for wisdom from the greatest of Bible scholars…the Holy Spirit. I covet your prayers

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

        Nice. Love it. Love you, Brian.

        • Brian W

          Love you too brother

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.conard Tim Conard via Facebook

    love and life to all. brian, dr and the rest are building a new church not made wiith hands but with hearts…

  • Naomi

    I’m not going to read through all the comments, but I’ll just say this: I’ve gone through a similar transition over the past two years, and it has not been easy. Jesus Christ is everything to me, but what He said (Love your neighbor) did not jive with the Official Christian Position (Love your neighbor as long as they follow the parts of the Bible that you have deemed to be important, as you understand them). I’ve gone from quite Right to Christian Left, and I’m outraged by the abuse and arrogance of the media-hungry “Christian” leaders. Call me an ally — I admit that I’m afraid, but I won’t stand by and allow injustice in the name of God.

    • Christy

      Bless you, Naomi. And welcome. Many of us have walked a similar path, so take heart; you are not alone.

  • cat rennolds

    I AM going to say I told you so…..I TOLD you he wasn’t a troll! I TOLD you he was really trying! I TOLD you he was going to learn! I TOLD you he was really a decent, kind, and most importantly LOVING human being struggling with some hard ideas. And brave.

    I love it when I’m right. Even if I did lose my temper a couple of times, myself.

    what’s that verse about there’s more rejoicing in heaven over one lost lamb?

    Brian, thank you so much.

    Thanks

    • Melody

      LOL, too cute, Cat! Glad you were right!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Molly.Cate.Marshall Mary Catherine Marshall via Facebook

    And the darkness shall become like the day!

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

    I’ve been in and out (mostly out) of here due to other things going on in my life. I cannot believe this is the same Brian W who I read (and responded to I believe) many months ago! Wow. Thank you for persisting in your quest for the truth Brian. Many conservatives have made homosexuality and/or the doctrine of hell their capstone (displacing you-know-who) in such a way that they cannot possibly change or learn something new on these topics. I am so glad to see that Christ is your capstone (and foundation) and that you were open and persistent.


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