Group of Methodist Ministers Succumb to Radical Gay Agenda!

Below is the press release that my Important Media Contacts sent me last week, which (so as not to preempt the “We do!” group’s release of their release) I totally couldn’t share with you until this very moment!

Methodist Group to Perform Gay Weddings

In unprecedented move, network of 900+ bypasses denomination’s ban

to reach out directly to LGBT people

A group of over 900 United Methodists in New York and Connecticut today announced their intention to make weddings available to all people, gay and straight, in spite of their denomination’s ban on gay marriage. The announcement marks the kick-off of a project called We do! Methodists Living Marriage Equality. In an unprecedented move in any major religious denomination, We do! is not only bypassing the formal rules of the church, but also reaching out directly to LGBT groups in New York and Connecticut to let them know about the new network. This morning the group published a list of all its members: clergy members who will perform weddings for gay couples, lay members of the denomination who support them, and congregations who have adopted policies to formally make weddings available to all couples.

“We refuse to discriminate against any of God’s children and pledge to make marriage equality a lived reality within the New York Annual Conference, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression,” the group declared in statement called A Covenant of Conscience and signed by 164 clergy members, 732 lay people and six entire congregations. In all, 73 congregations within the New York Annual Conference (NYAC) are represented among the signers. NYAC is the regional church body representing United Methodist congregations from Long Island to the Catskills and in southern Connecticut. The full list of signers, as well as the text of the covenant, is here.

“My ordination vows require me minister to all people in my congregation,” said Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling, the minister at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven, CT. “This is about pastoral care, about welcoming all people, but especially the marginalized and the oppressed, like Jesus did.” Lamar-Sterling and her clergy colleagues are risking their jobs and their careers by taking this stand, but they say their integrity as pastors leaves them no choice but to refuse the church’s mandate to discriminate. Over the years, many individual United Methodist clergy have defied the church’s ban, but the We do! project marks the first time an organized network of clergy has done so, and done so with the support of many hundreds of lay members of the church.

The recognition of the full humanity, sacred worth, and equal rights of gay and lesbian people is crucial to the civil rights struggle of our time. Gay, lesbian, and straight United Methodist laity and clergy are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” the Covenant of Conscience states, citing Martin Luther King’s famous Letter from Birmingham Jail. “The continuing denial of full access to all the rights and privileges of church membership in the United Methodist Church is causing deep spiritual harm to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and is a threat to us all.”

The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline, the rulebook that governs the country’s third largest Christian denomination, states “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” It is one of several anti-gay provisions of the church, which since 1972 has declared “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The church General Conference meets quadrennially to revise the Discipline and the issue of LGBT exclusion has been hotly debated at each General Conference in the last 40 years. The next General Conference will be April 24 through May 4, 2012, in Tampa, Florida.

The We do! project has been over a year in the making and has been followed by similar efforts in 11 other conferences within the UMC. All told, over 1,000 clergy in 19 states and the District of Columbia have signed a pledge vowing to extend their ministry to all couples seeking the church’s blessing for their relationships. The growing pastoral movement has caused a stir within the church and is expected to have reverberations at the upcoming General Conference.

We do! Methodists Living Marriage Equality is sponsored by Methodists in New Directions (MIND), a grassroots organization working in the New York Annual Conference of the UMC dedicated to ending the church’s prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people. It is co-sponsored by the NY Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), an organization bringing people together to work for peace and justice in the church and the world. Both organizations are independent of the United Methodist Church. More information on the initiative is available on the MIND website at www.mindny.org.

“Whoa!” I thought upon first ogling this, “that is a lot of Methodists! This is such a huge story! I should totally snag an interview with Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling, the woman quoted in this press release!”

My heart quickened at the thought of interviewing this renegade Christian leader, this bold iconoclast, this trailblazing visionary who was willing to defy authority, buck convention, cleave to God’s truth, and let the chips fall where they may. Was there any way TIME magazine wouldn’t pick up this story? (They’re still publishing TIME magazine, right?)

So I set up the interview. (That’s right. That’s how I Rolodex.)

I like to begin my interviews with controversial mavericks by asking an eye-opening zinger of a question that, like a speeding harpoon of inquiry, plurges straight into the very heart of the issue at hand.

“So tell me,” I asked Rev. Lamar-Sterling right off the bat, “are you bummed about having to go to hell forever?”

She laughed. “Gosh, I hope that doesn’t happen. But I’m not worried about it. Hell is a creative idea dreamed up by Dante and his friends.”

Oh. Well. Okay. Not, in tone, anywhere near the fiery paradigm-buster I was after, but still: pretty edgy thing to say.

She definitely sounded nice. But I’d soon enough punch through that flimsy veneer.

“Are you scared you might lose your job for doing this?” I asked with edgy provocativeness. I pictured Rev. Lamar-Sterling out on mean streets of New Haven, CT., in her raggedy clerical robes, dejectedly holding out a battered gold collection plate to passers-by.

“No, not really,” she said cheerily. “There are many steps that would have to happen in order for any of us to actually lose our positions within the church.”

“But it could happen, right?” I asked with an air of conspiratorial subterfuge that I hoped she’d find contagious.

“It’s in the realm of possibilities, yes. But it’s not anything I’m afraid of. In any account, the much bigger picture, for we who have come out in favor of marriage equality, is the fact that gay and lesbian people are excluded and discriminated against every single day of their lives. That’s what really matters here. They’re the ones really bearing a risk out in the world. Compared to theirs, our daily risk is much smaller.”

Oh. What a totally friendly and good-natured point.

“Have you been having to put all this together in secret?” I asked Because who isn’t intrigued by a sneaky pastor?

“No, not in secret,” said Rev. Lamar-Sterling disappointingly. “We’ve been openly working on this for years. And we have our website, which is our main communication tool. We’ve always been very open about talking about this, and sharing our purposes and goals, and collecting signatures and so on. It’s all been very aboveboard. A great many people within the Methodist church believe in marriage equality, and so we’ve just been honored to facilitate and advance that conversation. And through initiatives like ‘We do!’, we look forward to doing a great deal more of this in the future.”

“How did your church take this radical move on your part?” I asked her. I pictured the congregants of First and Summerfield United Methodist Church of New Haven, CT up on their feet, screaming, railing, gnashing their teeth, pulling their hair, threateningly brandishing rolled-up church bulletins. Lighting Frankenstein villager torches.

“They love it,” she said. “They’re a reconciling congregation, so they’ve been very excited about the whole project. In fact, I actually had to slow them down a bit. I had to explain to them how this is a process, how we needed to work within the larger body of the New York Annual Conference, to bring everyone along at the same time. But they’ve been absolutely supportive of this every step of the way.”

I was starting to feel TIME waving good-bye to me.

“You’re straight, right?” I asked lamely.

“Yes, I am. And married.”

“I don’t suppose you’re a transvestite from Transylvania, ” I almost asked before jamming my fist in my mouth. Instead, I asked her about where “We do!” fits in with the larger body of all Methodists. Rev. Lamar-Sterling then explained to me how there are different “conferences,” or regions, of Methodists, across the country, and how each, reflecting the sensibilities of its citizens, is necessarily dealing with the issue of marriage equality in its own way, and at its own speed.

“The same sort of thing we’re doing here in the NYAC is currently going on in eleven other Methodiest conferences,” she said. “The difference is that while their efforts are geared toward clergy only, ‘We do!’ involves clergy, laity, and congregations. That’s what makes what we’re doing so exciting. ‘We do!’ is a strong collective of faithful Christians people who have come together to affirm that a gay and lesbian couple have as much right to the sacred bond of holy matrimony as anyone else.”

The reverend then explained about how The Book of Discipline, which constitutes the law and doctrine of the United Methodist Church, is a living document, and not, as she put it, “a baseball bat for hurting others,” and how every four years (starting in 1784!) representatives of all the Methodists get together, talk about what’s in The Book of Discipline, make whatever changes or adjustments to its text are voted necessary, and then publish a new edition. As I am sure you read in the press release above, the next Methodist General Conference will be April 24 through May 4, 2012, in Tampa, Florida.

Boy, big American Christian denominations really put the organized in organized religion. It’s all so startlingly/boringly democratic. (Fact break: In the United States, The United Methodist Church ranks as the largest Mainline denomination, the second largest Protestant church after the Southern Baptist Convention, and the third largest Christian denomination. As of 2007, worldwide membership was about 12 million: 8.0 million in the United States and Canada, 3.5 million in Africa, Asia and Europe. So. There it is.)

“Ultimately, I and others who believe in the sanctity of marriage equality would like the language of The Book of Discipline to be changed to reflect full affirmation of gay and lesbian equality. But will those changes be made in 2012? They very well might. But either way, it will ultimately happen. I’m confident that Christ will guide the United Methodist Church to become the welcoming, just, and reconciling church it was meant to be.”

Finally, I asked Rev. Lamar-Sterling if there was anything she’d like to say to anyone reading this.

“I would like everyone to know,” she said, “that all people are created in God’s image; all are sacred. God’s love is not discriminatory, or selective; it does not include some, and exclude others. It is for all. I want gay and lesbian people to know that they are welcomed in the United Methodist Church. Come, join us, as we, along with you, say, we do!”

Boy. The Rev. Lamar-Sterling is one perky pastor. I would so totally go to her church.

As I later reflected back on my conversation with the good reverend, I fell asleep. I dreamed I was a Jimmy Olsen-style reporter, pitching to the editor of big New York news magazine the story of the “We do!” movement.

“Eight hundred!” I told him. “That’s a lot of Methodists!”

“Look, kid,” said the editor. He was sitting on a green leather high-backed chair behind a wooden desk you could land a helicopter on. He was gruff, but fair. Wore suspenders. But whatever.

“I ain’t saying this is no story at all,” he said around his chomped cigar. “But it isn’t exactly a four-ton reptile stomping down Broadway tossing cars and eating people, is it? I mean, whaddaya really have here? A bunch of Christians who looked into their hearts, found the God in whom they believe telling them that gay people have the same right to get married, under God, as straight people, and who then organized themselves into a body that reflects that belief. Right, kid?”

“Well, I mean–yeah. I guess that’s basically about right.”

“Right. Kid, that ain’t news. That’s Methodists organizing. This is about meetings, and procedures, and conversations, and collective discernment, and all of those things which slowly but surely have always changed, always improved, always evolved the body of Christ on earth.”

“Holy cow,” I said. “Who are you?”

“I’m God,” he said softly. “And things are unfolding exactly as they should.”

I looked out the window at a brilliant rainbow arcing over the city.

“Now if you come across any giant dinosaurs wreaking havoc,” said God, “you call me.”

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.

  • Jane Ann Groom via Facebook

    Good.

  • Val P.

    Awesome. We are fairly new members of a large United Methodist church in Texas. Fine bunch of folks, busy all the time! Methodists are worker bees. We are not used to being so industrious, but are trying to get with the program! I hope the We Do! project makes its way to Texas soon.

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

      Val: Maybe it will! Maybe you’ll HELP “We Do!” to make it to Texas soon!

      • Val P.

        Yes! I will definitely check, maybe our conference is already one of the ones that are doing this.

    • Diana A.

      This is the link for the Reconciling Ministries Network–http://www.rmnetwork.org/

      This is a good place to start when it comes to finding out if your church is part of the reconciling movement within the UMC, and if not, what steps to take to gently nudge your church in that direction.

      My own church has a growing number of people who are involved in this movement, others who are open to it, and a few who are scared of it. We’re not a reconciling congregation yet, but with God’s help, we’ll get there–I hope sooner rather than later.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jill-Joiner/100000809409370 Jill Joiner via Facebook

    Horribly polite. Yep thats the Methodist church I know and love. I hope that Gay marriage is finally sanctioned because they have been a great comfort to some gay friends of mine who prefer the family atmosphere.

  • Roselynn K. Kingsbury via Facebook

    Yep, always a method to our madness.

  • http://williamgcook.wordpress.com William

    My goodness! John, I probably copied four or five different sections of this text to paste as my header when I repost (or retweet, re-whatever-google-plus-sharing is or whatever) because of how many spot on things this amazing pastor had to say! Thanks for bringing this out to those of us not around NYC or too close to any Methodist bubbles. I’m definitely excited to hear more about We Do! and will be keeping the movement in my prayers. Oh, and if you talk to Rev. Lamar-Sterling again, tell her that is an amazing person who has my full support (not too sure how much that means to any one, but dammit she and all the others in We Do! have it!)

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

      This is lovely, William–and will, I know, mean a lot to Rev. Lamar-Sterling, and all the good folk at We DO! Thank you.

  • Maggie Scarborough via Facebook

    Gotta love those Methodist ministers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Amundsen/100001101098317 Scott Amundsen via Facebook

    Makes me proud to be a Methodist! :D

  • http://thethreews.wordpress.com KenLeonard

    1. “That’s how I Rolodex!” – that is the kind of wordcraft that made me fall in love with you years ago!

    Well, not ACTUALLY fall in love with you. Your writing. Sorry …

    2. “The sanctity of marriage equality.” Wow. That is a BRILLIANT phrase. It’s an astonishing comeback to the whole “sanctity of marriage” nonsense thrown out. It’s just … wow … amazing.

    3. The editor sounds more like J. Jonah Jameson than Perry White to me. I admit, I’ve never actually read a Superman comic, so maybe I’m mistaken, but that struck me as much more Jameson than White. I bow to the superior knowledge of actual Superman readers, though …

    Well, not ACTUALLY bow … I mean, we’re not talking idolatry here, just recognition that some people know more than I.

    4. They’re going to make me go back to the UMC, aren’t they? I was raised there, and could be convinced to go back …

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

      Oh, you’re back in, baby. Every time you try to leave, they PULL you back in!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Weller/1719051091 Tom Weller via Facebook

    YAY! Good Job Methodists. Another turn toward Christianity, by a religion.

  • Kenneth Ford via Facebook

    For all the United Methodist (like myself)–it may not yet be time to celebrate. Reflection on our history as a denomination, supportive prayer for these courageous clergy & laity and for the unity of our church may now be the order of the day.

  • A’isha

    Fabulous! I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for you to ask her if they had done this organizing in secret. While reading the first part I was imagining all these clandestine meetings of ministers and lay people sitting on park benches saying “Did you see the rainbow this morning?” “Why yes I did. It was magnificent.” Or some other sort of codewords. Did you by any chance ask her about dinosaurs?

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

      HAR! No, I didn’t. I SHOULD have.

  • Mindy

    I’m not sure what else to say, other than – YAY!!

    Oh, and Go, Cards!! Because, well, that’s where MY brain is this lovely morning . . .

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

      Oh, Mindy, don’t you think it’s a little early in the week to already be gambling? How sad …

      Oh, wait. You probably meant Cardinals. I thought you were playing poker. Never mind.

      • Mindy

        You don’t play poker on Monday mornings? I thought that was poker time. My bad.

  • tim conard

    great news.

    and, i gotta say, if i were to run into a rampaging dinosaur, god would be the first to hear of it…

  • Ken Ford

    For all the United Methodist (like myself)–it may not yet be time to celebrate. Reflection on our history as a denomination, supportive prayer for these courageous clergy & laity and for the unity of our church may now be the order of the day.

    • Diana A.

      You’re right. As another United Methodist, I agree.

  • Kevin

    I am not in agreement with this.

    I have never seen where the Bible condones homosexuality. However there are passages that plainly state that it is a sin. Call me conservative, but how does one come to the conlusion that it is fine for the church to recognize and promote gay marriage?

    Now, I am not saying that God hates gays, and I have several friends that are gay. And, as said in your post, God’s love is for everyone, and is not restricted from anybody. In my opinion, homosexuality is a sin, and I simply think that the church should not condone their marraige.

    If the State will recognize a gay marraige, that is one thing that I can live with because it is not a religious institution. I would just like to know how so many find it acceptable, for the church to, even though it is going against the Bible’s teachings.

    • A’isha

      Kevin…two things. One. Whenever you say scripture or passages from scripture “plainly state” anything, you might want to go back and look at it with an open mind instead of just accepting what you’ve been taught it means. Those few verses that so many use to say the Bible “plainly states” homosexuality is a sin aren’t so plainly stated, especially when you start looking at them in context historically, linguistically, and culturally. If it plainly stated that it was a sin then there would be no disagreement on what it means. Water is wet is a plain, clear statement that everyone can agree on. “Water in a particular river during a particular time in history is blue” is not a clear statement because you haven’t looked at what pollution was like, whether there was algae growing at that time, etc. Maybe it was green.

      Two. Just because something is your opinion, like you state your opinion of homosexuality is sin, doesn’t give you the right to push that opinion on the entire Church. (Capital C meaning all God’s people) There are many Christians within the body of Christ that believe scripture doesn’t condemn homosexuality. Let’s let each of us have our own opinions on this. If you think it’s a sin, then by all means don’t have a relationship with someone of the same sex.

      • Diana A.

        Beautiful!

    • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

      If the United Methodists cared about following every New Testament epistle to the letter, they wouldn’t ordain women (or would they? there are differing views). But like most mainline Protestant denominations, they made their peace some 100 years ago with the fact that not everything in the Bible needs to be taken at face value. So you’re making an old argument that many of us moved beyond a long time ago.

      The UMC will come around, like most of the rest of us have, to full LGBT inclusion eventually. Most of the (other) social positions in the Book of Discipline are admirably progressive.

      • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

        That was in reply to Kevin, not to A’isha.

      • Diana A.

        Yes, this is true.

    • Erin D.

      Kevin, here is a good report that goes into a lot of detail about the Bible’s context for those passages: http://gayprejudice.com/GayPrejudice.pdf. I would ask you–how have we, as a society, overcome those “plainly stated” Bible verses that people used to say condoned slavery? women as property? a ban on interracial marriage? a ban on women voting? etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. How are Christians so quick to look past those “plainly stated” Bible verses today when they were pointed to and defended and quoted by Christians as the “obvious” reasons for those historic missteps and tragedies?

      • Marcelo

        Thank you for this cite, Erin. That article is excellent!

    • Thomas

      Kevin you are correct. No one has been able to show anything from scripture condoning homosexuality. All we ever get is theological gymnastics and word play which has been debunked ad nauseum.

      http://www.yaiy.org/literature/Homosexuality.html

      http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj3h.pdf

      • Melody

        Aaand he’s back.

      • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

        Yay! Thomas is back. I see this time you cited articles instead of copying and pasting from some website without attribution. Good for you.

        Your Master’s Seminary article gives a good overview of other people’s scholarship, for the most part Wright’s, whom the author relies on heavily. I thought it was interesting the first time I read it, when Wright wrote it. De Young also, like so many other people, uses Aristophanes’ speech in the Symposium as a proof text, despite the fact that it’s clearly designed to be absurd humor. The author seems to concede this, but still suggests it represents Plato’s view. Whatever homophobic tendencies Plato had, suggesting he agrees with the sum of the mythological silliness that Aristophanes narrates is dubious at best. But it’s a crucial piece of evidence to illustrate his view of ancient homosexuality, so he glosses over this problem (like other apologetic scholars often do).

        This guy also apparently believes that Paul wrote 1 Timothy, and in that he must be among the one or two scholars who still think so. He’s a professor at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, so go figure.

        Finally, his last two paragraphs are laughingly ridiculous. He can go to a church that thinks homosexuality is cause for church discipline if he wants; I choose not to, because I choose to accept the enormous peer-reviewed expertise in the psychological, medical, and psychiatric fields that illustrate just how much Paul (or pseudo-Paul) didn’t know what he was talking about, even if we agree that’s what he’s talking about.

        Secondly, he suggests that just because Paul thinks it’s wrong, “homosexual behavior is a proper focus and concern of legislation in society and of the sanction of law, according to the context of 1 Tim 1:8-11. This suggests that ‘gay rights’ is a misnomer. The movement has no legitimate claim to protection by the law.”

        Ha, what a crock. If we don’t have sexual freedom we don’t essentially have any freedoms of conscience. But then, orthodox-enforcing individuals have little use for freedom of conscience anyway.

        Your other citation is merely a colorfully quirky website, and thus not even worthy of rejoinder. Try again, Thomas. Try reading some scholarship that does not, in fact, support your preconceived point of view. You might learn a great deal.

        • Soulmentor

          That’s what he’s afraid of. Those of his mind set don’t want to learn. Knowledge is the bane of examined “faith” thus, to acquire knowledge equates with questioning their “faith” which, in turn, exposes that it is not Faith, but fear. Real Faith would not fear knowledge.

          • Soulmentor

            Arrrrgggh….I meant to say “knowledge is the bane of UNexamined “faith”…..

      • Mindy

        Thomas, dear, until you can supply academic sources that do not have a conservative, anti-gay agenda, your links are meaningless. Talk about “theological gymnastics” . . . .

        I find it almost comical (if it weren’t so sad) that you can return to argue the same tired points that have been “debunked,” as you say, repeatedly. You have it exactly backward, you and Kevin, and I find it fascinating that you find it impossible to acknowledge even the possibility that you might be wrong. All that shows, really, is a lack of academic depth and rigor on your part, and a failing faith in your loving God, that He might, just maybe, be trying to pry your mind open with the eloquent words and beautiful life stories out there of so many loving LGBT couples, parents, clergy and supporters.

        You are clinging to a sinking ship, yet you are too numb to feel the icy depths of bigotry as it engulfs you. You’re welcome to join us in the life-rafts, if you’ll only loosen your grip and swim toward the light -

        • Christy

          This is lovely, Mindy.

        • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

          Very nice, Mindy.

      • http://www.skippingtothepiccolo.com David W. Shelton

        Thomas’ links are interesting — why do people think that Romans 1, which deals with idolatry — and only idolatry — and the story of Sodom have anything to do with gay relationships? Paul doesn’t change topics at all — It’s basic exegesis, really. If there’s a “therefore,” find out what it’s there for… every single verse leading up to Romans 24 discusses idolatry… and all of the sudden he changes topics to homosexuality? Not likely.

    • Melody

      Wow, that was fast. I knew it was a matter of time before we got our typical conservative “Now I don’t hate gays but the Bible says it’s a sin” cliche. But fast nonetheless.

    • Soulmentor

      Kevin. There is much in the Bible that is not “plainly stated” and among those most prominent and currently in question are all the statements that so many believe to mean that homosexuality is a sin. For starters, NONE of them outright say so but definitely leave the meaning in open to interpretation when, as Aisha points out, you consider the culture of those times and following history and exegesis.

      This book DOES illustrate what I am talking about. WHAT THE BIBLE REALLY SAYS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY by Daniel Helmeniak, a former priest. It’s a thin, easy read but the most definitive I have found on the subject and if you give it an honest read, you will never think the same again.

      Then you might want to read THE GOOD BOOK by Peter Gomes, now deceased. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_J._Gomes As you can see, he’s no slouch when it come to theology and biblical knowledge and in the book he says, not suggests but pronounces, “…no credible case against homosexuality or homosexuals can be made from the Bible.” The operative word there is “credible”. Of course a case can be made and as we are only too aware that case is vomited all over the current controversy, but it is NOT credible because it cannot stand scrutiny.

      The traditional “christian” religious mantra against homosexuality IS A LIE.

    • Zam

      Kevin, do you shave? And of course you should stone adult children to death if they do not attend worship. Both these are regarded as abominations in the passage in Leviticus.

    • Eva

      Thank you, Kevin. There are more of us who agree with you than are willing to speak up here and incite the ire of those who are clearly invested in promoting the gay agenda at all costs. Yet what a tragedy it is, that they’re willing to destroy the Church to do it!

      • Christy

        We are clearly invested in promoting Justice and Equality for all people. It’s as simple as that.

      • Soulmentor

        By all means, speak up and defend your “faith”. Why would you be afraid to “incite” our ire…..unless deep down you know your “truth” cannot stand up to honest scrutiny? And while you’re about it, kindly define the “gay agenda” as you understand it so it can be addressed responsibly instead of throwing it out there as a parroted talking point.

        And there is no intent to “destroy the Church”. We merely ask if this or that is really true just because another human says so. If whatever “truth” is presented cannot stand up to rational scrutiny, perhaps is needs re-appraisal and if that destroys “the Church” then maybe that Church, as you understand it, deserves destruction. Nothing wrong with a little much deserved destruction. Jesus himself caused quite a bit of destruction of “the Church” of his time.

      • Mindy

        Sometimes, Eva, a decaying structure must be razed to be rebuilt better and stronger than it ever was before. We are here, with our bulldozers. You might want to step out of the way.

        • A’isha

          Right on Mindy and Soulmentor! I’d like to be driving one of those bulldozers, Mindy. :)

          As a side note, I do know what the “gay agenda” is. 1)Have equality. 2)Spend quality time with family. 3)Buy milk. 4)Do laundry. 5)Clean the bathrooms.

          The bathrooms have to be added to that agenda for this lesbian, because I have pre-teen boys…they make a mess of the bathrooms!

    • John Sawyer

      Kevin, you may wish to read this, to see a decent attempt (if you can get past the author’s more goofy attempts at humor) to determine what the Bible actually says about homosexuality:

      http://www.thegodarticle.com/7/post/2011/10/clobbering-biblical-gay-bashing.html

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz
  • Pamela

    As a member of a UMC church in upstate NY, I am glad to see change coming. But the “Hell is dreamed up by Dante” bit sounds like it will get her in as much trouble with The Big Church as the marrying gays part.

  • gretchen

    I’m a little concerned about her Dante thoughts on Hell, but I digress. I remember my dad telling me that a man that everyone in the community hated died, and none of the churches but the Methodist Church would give him a funeral. As much as I don’t feel denominations are important anymore, I love the Methodist philosophy. John Wesley was a renegade for Jesus. This type of thing was what he worked for, and what the Methodists should still strive for.

    • Soulmentor

      Your angst about the Reverend’s thots on hell might be assuaged if you read THE ORIGIN OF SATAN by Elaine Pagels. You will never think the same again.

      • gretchen

        Thanks! I just saw it on Amazon. Would love to delve into that.

        • Val P.

          I found Origin of Satan on the internet and printed it – I believe 18 pages? It is very mind-expanding for someone who was raised to have such a closed mind!

          I know I’m a real newbie here – please excuse my enthusiasm if/when it gets the best of me.

          • http://thethreews.wordpress.com KenLeonard

            Enthusiasm for wisdom and knowledge needs no excuse.

            Anyone who has forgotten such enthusiasm should look at your reactions with more than a little envy. Be excited, and stay excited!

          • Soulmentor

            Not sure what you found, Val, but the book has 184 pages not counting the notes and bibliography, etc. Maybe it was some kind of condensation? Anyway, here’s the book I’m referring to: http://www.amazon.com/Origin-Satan-Christians-Demonized-Heretics/dp/0679731180

            Another is THE BIRTH OF SATAN http://www.amazon.com/Birth-Satan-Tracing-Devils-Biblical/dp/1403969337

            [As Israel continued to evolve toward a clearer monotheism, it was considered prudent to cast off the negative characteristics of the one true God—which the authors call "repellant aspects of Yhwh")—and embody them in a personality who would become the biblical "Satan."]

            In THE ORIGIN OF SATAN, Pagels shows how Satan evolved over time from the ancient Jewish argumentative position called Sa Ta-an (commonly known today as playing Devil’s advocate), to an actual entity of deceit and evil intent.

            Gods and Devils evolved over vast swaths of time, the results of humans’ attempts to explain the mysteries of our existence.

          • Val P.

            This was “The Origin of Satan in Christian Tradition” by Elaine Pagels, second line “The Tanner Lectures on Human Values” – delivered at University of Utah, May 14, 1997.

            Maybe it was the “Cliff Notes” version. It was very interesting, now I need to get the book.

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    Slowly, the ice age ends.

  • Dwayne G. Mason

    Thank God for brave Methodists, for John Shore, and for straight allies everywhere!

  • Diana A.
    • Diana A.

      This was supposed to be under Thomas’s comment, but it’s now been blocked. It’s still a good link, but not necessarily pertinent to this discussion.

  • Christy

    Hmm….”Thomas,” that sounds remarkably like a comment I saw on another thread here on John’s page recently to which I replied.

    No one has been able to show anything from scripture condoning surgery or antibiotics or space travel or blood transfusions or surrogacy or in vitro fertilization or C-sections (surely if God intended women not to die in childbirth He would have installed a zipper on our abdomens) or how many children are appropriate to raise or the acceptable biblical frequency of masturbation or the proper manner in which we should dispose of leaves when they fall off the trees or the best way to carve a turkey. But God invented Julia child for that.

    • Christy

      Yep, mine too. For Thomas which was deleted.

    • Val P.

      Awesome Christy! I don’t understand the thought patterns of people who go on websites strictly to argue with people. Like they just cruise around, looking for a fight. Do they actually think they’re going to convert someone? Or do they just want attention?

      • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

        I honestly feel a little sorry for folks like Thomas. As Mindy noted below, they have to be under a constant strain of cognitive dissonance. They believe so strongly in a set of presumptions that is ever-increasingly finding itself out of step with mainstream society, science, scholarship, and plain common sense, and yet they continue to find ever more elaborate ways of self-deception. People maintain that sort of cognitive dissonance all the time to lesser degrees, but this sort is just plain chronic. It can’t be comfortable.

        • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

          OK, enough about Thomas. Sorry John. Your article really was great. That’s why we’re here!

        • Christy

          Don, I fear the cognitive dissonance which should be viewed as the Holy Spirit acting in concert with our conscience and our common sense is rather interpreted and feared to be the Devil trying to trick and fool us away from unyielding convictions. This is what happens when we are indoctrinated with the notion that doubt is bad thing rather than a normal, healthy, process of wrestling with difficult questions and that learning is passive and something you complete and are done with by the time you are in your early 20′s – rather than a lifelong process, and that Christianity is an event like birth rather than a process of growth and development like becoming 80.

          I love Maya Angelou’s response to a young woman who came up to her after one of her talks and said, “Ms. Angelou, I’m a Christian too!” To which Maya replied, “Already!?”

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Yes, I agree, and with many of the same points which Soulmentor mentions in reply to me below, too. I’ve actually heard sermons by pastors who warn their followers not to associate with people who are not of like mind, lest they get “kidnapped away from God.” Kind of pathetic.

          • Val P.

            Christy – I grew up in a small, very strict independent Bapt. church. And as a child I was taught that any questioning of the Bible or anything we were taught in Sunday School was from the devil. We were instructed to not watch TV or go to movies, and extracurricular activities at school like football games were to be avoided. Cause thte devil prowled around like a lion, waiting to pounce! The only “safe” activities were those at the church. There was literally something going on at the church every night. Everyone was happy, happy – except me. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was angry at my parents for putting me in that situation, and also scared that they might actually be right, that my rebellion against my church’s teachings was the devil digging his claws into me.

            When I graduated from high school I walked away and never looked back. But still was conflicted until I was married and going to church with my husband – one day I told my pastor about what I had been taught as a child, and he just looked at me sadly and said “Some folks give the Devil a lot more power than he actually has. Don’t you know God is so much stronger than the Devil? He created everything, including the Devil!” And I started healing from there.

            Been working on it ever since.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            Bless you, Val. Thank you for sharing your story. Many of us here are recovering Fundamentalists. John’s page is a caring, supportive community. There is much healing to do from the types of spiritual abuse we have suffered and endured. John was kind enough to feature something I wrote about just this topic on his blog here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2011/07/17/the-patriarchal-ego-fortifying-psyche-destroying-soul-crushing-domineering-brain-washing-fear-inducing-manipulative-spiritually-abusive-world-of-the-fundamentalism-i-know/

            Blessings on your journey as you continue to heal and discover the loving God we never knew who loves us beyond all imagination. ~ C

          • Val P.

            Christy – I just read your story, and it truly brought chills. I didn’t know others had the same experience. I thought it was just me – because they did a really good job instilling self doubt and loathing in me. Even though I walked away, I still had the programming stuck in my head. Surely they have no idea how much pain and damage their version of Christianity can do! It took me a long time to accept that it’s people that are vengeful and hateful, not God. Didn’t go to church for over 20 years.

            Seeing the multitude of angry fundamentalists that come on here, it’s obvious they are resistant to any kind of reason – honestly, it brings to mind the image of herding cats. And the fundamentalist dogma gives me flashbacks. I just wonder: Do they REALLY think they’re going to harrass anyone into changing to their way of thinking? I actually think they just can’t stand that anyone with a differing view would call themselves a Christian – and be a happy Christian at that!. That might crack their hard shell and possibly let in a little glimmer of doubt. Better to stamp that out before it spreads and folks all start thinking for themselves.

            Anyway, thanks for sharing, and thank you for the blessings. I am a divorced Christian mother and soon-to-be grandmother, and I truly am blessed in all sorts of ways.

  • Alan

    Thomas’s inability to understand the evidence from Scripture doesn’t mean it hasn’t been presented, but it probably does mean that arguing with someone like him is probably not really worth it. It isn’t like it requires some Wile E. Coyote-level IQ to understand the evidence presented, nor does it require a Wile E. Coyote-level to understand the difference between “no evidence” and “no evidence I agree with”. Yet Thomas by his own admission is unable to understand either.

    So with respect to y’all, what exactly is the point of arguing with such people?

    In addition to his clearly not being the sharpest tack in the box, Thomas wrote, “No one has ever been able to show anything from Scripture…” which is obviously a lie. While it may be true that no one has been able to show any evidence from Scripture to his satisfaction, that’s very different from suggesting that no one on the entire vast planet ever in history has ever shown any evidence from Scripture that homosexuality is not condemned by God. So why bother attempting to argue with someone who is so willing, eager even, right out of the gate, to lie about the very topic on which you’re arguing?

    Now, if he actually takes Scripture seriously, then he knows that lying and bearing false witness are bad, but he clearly doesn’t actually care about applying Scripture to himself. So then, even if he wasn’t a liar, he is certainly a hypocrite.

    A lying hypocrite who isn’t terribly clever.

    Tell me, folks, even if you were able to have a real conversation with such a person, why exactly would you want someone like that on our team? I’m all for having all the clever, non-lying, non-hypocritical allies we can find pushing for justice and equality, but I’m not sure we really need the help of lying hypocrites with such meager intellectual resources.

    Surely there’s something better to do than encourage such people, eh? Watching paint dry comes to mind.

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

      Ahhh. There it is.

    • http://thethreews.wordpress.com KenLeonard

      Alan, you’re my hero.

      That’s the answer I wish I’d given him.

      • Mindy

        I was about to propose to Alan. I don’t even care that I have no idea who he is or whether he’s straight or gay, or even single. I’m so enamored of his dog story and his dead-on description of the pathetic Thomas-Tommies of the world that I just want to be with him always.

        Well, or at least read his stuff.

        • Mindy

          OK, read more, learned Alan is not only gay but married. Rats.

          Fine, Alan, I won’t propose to you. Just don’t stop writing.

          • Alan

            *Blush*

            Indeed. Very, very, very gay. (I have official documents, both government- and church-issued to prove it.)

            And you, Miss Mindy, are a silver-tongued flatterer. :)

    • Marcelo

      Oh, snappeth!

  • Tommie

    Interesting that instead of providing any theological evidence of your position you delete my comments. Apparently you cannot provide any so avoiding the issue is definitely easier that facing that reality.

    I will continue to remind you though and wait patiently for any support of what you believe to be true.

    • Val P.

      Thomas – just out of curiosity, what is it you hope to gain? You obviously have very strong beliefs – do you not believe others have the same right to freedom of and from religion? I believe our country was founded on that basic right. No one has to furnish you support for what they believe to be true. It’s hard for me to imagine that you are so desperate for attention that you would stoop to going on websites with opposing beliefs from yours to harrass people. Here’s a suggestion – try going on a few athiest websites. Cause if it’s attention you’re seeking, they’ll be happy to accomodate you.

    • Tommie

      What I hope to gain is to understand why you believe that God condones homosexuality. I think it’s a simple question that I have yet to see a cogent answer for. I think at the very least the people who come to this site should have that don’t you? People deserve all the facts so they can make an informed decision.

      I realize that my tone at times is confrontational. I am passionate about this issue like you are. I am not making excuses but nothing I have ever posted here rises above the level of what has been said about me.

      A discussion that only has one accepted voice is a dead discussion. It becomes a fan club where people simply pat each other ideological backs. If that’s what you want here be honest and say so. But I thought you actually wanted to change peoples minds about this issue. To do so you have to let dissenting voices in.

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        God condones Godly love that is selfless and compassionate that puts God and others first. God condones Justice and Freedom and Equality. God condones loving what God loves and God loves these things. If you are not sure He loves these things I recommend reading some Amos and Hosea and the other prophets and the words of Jesus.

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

        Tommie, have a seat and let me tell you a story, kiddo.

        There’s this really annoying little yappy dog that lives next door to me. Every day when I leave for work, that consarn really annoying little yappy dog yap-yap-yaps at me from his yard and his side of the fence. Every day when I come home from work, he yap-yap-yaps at me until I get in my front door.

        Now, I suppose I could attempt to reason with him. I could try to explain to him that I have no interest in trespassing in his territory, particularly given how often he defecates there himself. I could also provide evidence that I have never once so much as set a toe in his yard. Yes, Tommy, I suppose I could hold forth for quite some time, shouting over his incessant yap-yap-yapping, while I try to convince him that he’s got me all wrong.

        Instead, however, I simply remind myself that he’s a dog and can’t help himself. He’s been poorly trained and therefore has no manners and also, as it happens, he’s got a brain the size of an underdeveloped walnut.

        Anyway, I think the real reason he barks is because his yard is full of his own really annoying little yappy dog crap and my yard is clean and tidy and inviting.

        Now I have no doubt that when I walk into my house, that really annoying little yappy dog is 100% confident deep down in his really annoying little yappy dog heart that his yap-yap-yapping has once again bested the Big Scary Monkey Man who lives next door, and I’m OK with him continuing to think that ….. because he’s a really annoying little yappy dog, sitting his his crappy yard, and yapping at me seems to be the one and only thing he’s got going for him. In fact, it seems to be the highlight of his day.

        So, Tommy, enjoy the fun kiddo. And a hearty “yap yap yap” right back atchya.

        • Val P.

          Yeah Tommy, what he said.

        • Mindy

          You tell a good story, Alan. And a truer tale I’ve never heard.

          The sad part is that the little yappy dog really is limited by the size and wiring of his brain. For those of T.’s ilk, it is the size of their conscience. Teeny, itty bitty things, they must be.

          • Alan

            Well, it’s just a parable. If anyone sees an application to any particular real situation, then I take that as a compliment.

            But remember, the difference between the really annoying little yappy dogs of the world and these busybodies, fusspots, tattletales and scolds are:

            1) The dog can probably (and is probably keen to) learn to not be so annoying, and

            2) The dog doesn’t know any better.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Damn, how did I miss this yesterday? This is genius. Thanks, Alan.

          • Mindy

            So true – because in the end, the yappy dog understands that love and affection is far more important than marking its territory.

        • Suz

          Awesome.

      • Val P.

        Thomas, I’ve only been here a few weeks, and I’ve already seen many times where people have given you their answers in as many ways as humanly possible. I don’t think you really want to know what they think – I think you just want them to agree with YOU. It seems to me as far as your concerned, this discussion has only one accepted voice – yours.

        I have a son a lot like you Thomas – he loves a good religious debate! Except he’s an athiest. I think you have a lot in common with him – you both are so sure you’re right, you don’t even hear anyone else. It’s not endearing. And it certainly doesn’t make anyone want to listen to you.

        I would not presume to go into a nice other-religion family’s home and demand they give me proof to jusitfy their beliefs. That’s pretty much what you’re doing here. That’s just plain rude. And whatever your motives might be, it makes you unwelcome.

      • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

        Tommie Boy, we have provided you with lots of cogent answers, including examinations of the text on which you base your authority. But you’ve dug your heels in with a prejudicial point of view based on an approach to scripture that is intellectually bankrupt. So I’m starting to agree with others: you’re turning into a giant waste of time.

        Hey, thanks for giving me a blog entry though!

        • Tommie

          Anytime Don. I read your post and you came off as foolish. Enjoy!

          • Val P.

            Nah Tommie, he certainly didn’t come off foolish…maybe it was your reflection in your monitor….Now you’re making me an unpleasant person, and so that’s enough for me.

          • Jimmy

            Tommie…your questions are pathetic at least and whoever would waste their time answering them is…well…wasting their time. Whatever makes you sleep better buddy…equality is a given…

    • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

      I’ve been trying to do a Genesis-to-Revelation apologetics on my blog, but to my frustration I keep allowing myself to get pulled into discussions that jump ahead of my plan. Ah, well…

      Here’s my take on the matter: http://buzzdixon.com/christianity/jesus-peter-paul-timothy-food-and-gays/

      For me the money quote is 1 Timothy 4:3-5 “[What] God hath created [is] to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

      Now, granted Paul is writing specifically about dietary law here, but I think I demonstrate the connection between food metaphors and Christ’s teachings well enough to think the purpose of those verses — regardless of what Paul hizzownsef may have thought he was writing about (just because something is inspired doesn’t mean the person relating it is conscious of it) — was to say there are no bad people and that bad actions are actions which cause harm to others or ourselves.

      And since both Christ and Paul taught it was better to marry than to burn with desire, and since Paul said there was no difference between males & females in the eyes of God (altho he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around that in the daily practical application in his churches), then I don’t see there being a genuine Biblical condemnation of homosexuality in general, just the specific way it may be expressed.

      Not to make too fine a point of it, but God didn’t worry about homosexuality enough to mention it in the Decalogue. Since the Decalogue is from God directly and the various laws of Moses are from him (albeit inspired by God), and because the laws of Moses where designed to whip a buncha fugitive slaves into a coherent, well disciplined army/nation, we Christians — particularly we Gentile Christians — are not bound by the Jewish laws & traditions found in the OT.

      This point gets repeatedly hammered home in the NT. Paul was in a unique position to bridge Jewish & Roman worlds, but even though he jettisoned a lot of his Jewish heritage, I don’t think he was able to get rid of it all.

      No matter; it’s not what he said but what He said that matters, and as far as I can tell the only times God ever addressed humanity directly (the Decalogue and the teachings of Christ) He had bupkis to say on homosexuality (but a lot to say about being unforgiving, judgmental, greedy, and stingy; go figure…).

  • Tommie

    John hope you have a lot of free time because I can do this all night.

    Leave my posts up and answer my question and I will stop.

    • http://thethreews.wordpress.com KenLeonard

      I was going to ask if you didn’t have something else to do, like spend some time with your friends.

      But I suppose that that’s not a big drain on your time, is it?

      Seriously … this isn’t the only post on this blog. Perhaps if you read some of the dozens of posts that deal with your question, you wouldn’t bother asking it repeatedly in comments. You see, you’re not the only person who’s posed these questions. It is actually not incumbent on John or anyone else to answer just because you now showed up and demand answers.

      We’ve answered several people, and John has written post after post, even a few books, dealing with your questions. Why don’t you read those instead of demanding that we rewrite material?

      Or are you really just so important that we need to bow to your whim?

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

        this is so AWESOME!

    • DR

      This is that “Christian love in action” – the “real Jesus” that Thomas seems to claim that no one else has. I guess it means being so self-centered that he’d actually believe it was ok to fake his way back onto a blog where he’s no longer welcomed.

      This is the kind of Christian that is frightening to me and I’m glad John is exposing Thomas for who he is.

  • Tommie

    That works for me! At least those that wander onto this blog may not get deceived by it.

  • Eva

    Why are so many people around here so threatened by what Tom has to say? What Christ had to say wasn’t popular either but it still needed to be heard. I, for one, appreciate the fact that someone has the integrity to ask the questions so many of us ponder silently as we watch the Church being destroyed by those who wish to promote a sexual lifestyle that is in direct contradiction to Christ’s example.

    • Christy

      Eva: “a sexual lifestyle that is in direct contradiction to Christ’s example.”

      How do two people loving each other and wanting to spend their lives together nurturing and supporting one another contradict Christ’s example? And to what example are you referring?

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

        Let’s let Eva go, too, please. Thanks, guys.

    • Dave

      Eva -If you want a “sexual lifestyle that is following Christ’s example” you would not be having any sex. Just sayin’ Come to think of it the only kiss I know that Jesus got in the Bible came from a man, Judas.

  • Kristyn Whitaker Hood via Facebook

    Just when I think I couldn’t be bigger fan, you go and write an amazing piece like this. Fantastic!

  • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

    Heartbreaking and Beautiful.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP61wDGAmXA&feature=player_embedded

    “From October 3rd to 14th, the Campaign for Southern Equality had same-sex couples request marriage licenses at the Asheville, North Carolina Buncombe County Register of Deeds. While Equality NC fights an amendment that would once again make these citizens “second-class,” placing a constitutional ban on marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships, it’s worth taking a long, hard look at the impact of inequality–from our mountain towns to our coastal hamlets.” ~ Equality NC

    #wearenotafraid

  • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

    I agree with John’s request. The entire purpose of internet trolls is to try to sow dissension and distract from the issue at hand. We should be congratulating these folks in New York and John for calling attention to them, and instead we’re swatting at flies. Annoying flies, but just flies nonetheless. I’m guilty, and like most instances of guilt, I think I enjoyed myself, maybe even a bit too much.

    I’ll just leave one parting shot to any who would use scripture to condemn other people’s relationships as sinful:

    Διὸ ἀναπολόγητος εἶ, ὦ ἄνθρωπε πᾶς ὁ κρίνων: ἐν ᾧ γὰρ κρίνεις τὸν ἕτερον, σεαυτὸν κατακρίνεις.

    Don’t read Greek? Then stop using the Bible as an authoritative weapon, ya jerks.

    • Mindy

      Rock on, Don!! Love it.

    • http://thethreews.wordpress.com KenLeonard

      You’re a genius.

      Love the Greek, which I don’t read.

      • Marcelo

        Oh, Greek is so sexy.

        (Thanks, Don. Excellent point.)

    • Bobbi

      Love it.

  • Alan

    Anyway….back on topic…

    Great to hear about these folks! May their numbers increase!

    I’m a Presbyterian (PCUSA), not Methodist, but I suspect the March Of The 800 will find the same thing that many justice-devoted folks in the PCUSA have found: initially much sturm und drang (for verily, the busybodies, fusspots, tattletales and scolds in our churches do like to make a fuss) followed by a great sigh.

    In the PCUSA, people have rightly enough been scared of coming out as allies because of the possibility of losing their jobs, their ordination, etc. But most mainstream denominations have not yet become so inundated by Fundamentalists that they don’t still tolerate freedom of conscience. And so, in our denomination, even high-profile cases get dismissed.

    But, even in spite of the inevitability of the outcome, we cannot under estimate our gratitude to God for those who take these risks. My pastor was brought up on charges for marrying my husband and me (the charges were dismissed) and I’ll always be grateful that he was willing to walk his talk in spite of the fact that his job — his livelihood for himself, his wife and his little boy — were on the line for me.

    In fact, that sounds pretty Jesus-y, eh?

    So, maybe some small number of these folks will be brought up on denominational charges. Most of those charges will, I expect, never go anywhere, and the rest will likely be dismissed eventually. I also rejoice in the additional hundreds of UMC ministers who are more quietly doing the right thing as well, though perhaps not signing their name to this. If 800 are willing to be out, how much larger must this movement really be!?

    But for the other side, there’s a tough row to hoe, my friends, for they are working against both God and demographics.

    It goes without saying that you can’t beat God.

    And you can’t beat demographics. The folks against equality are, on average, old. (Though there are many grammas and grampas at the forefront of equality. Yay for them!) While the folks working for equality are, in general, young. And as Max Plank observed, change happens one funeral at a time.

    We will likely never ever convince the Tommy’s and the Eva’s and the others of this world. We don’t have to. We’ve already won. They’re the only ones who haven’t realized that yet.

  • Thomas

    [obnoxious comment by Thomas the Troll deleted]

    • Suzy

      Thomas wrote, “Of course they have yet to show any of Gods word that supports that homosexuality is not a sin.” You have it all backward, and you would need to show others that homosexuality is a sin. I am just astounded at your backwards look at things! Jesus’ words and teachings have commanded us to love one another, and treat out neighbors as ourselves. We are no longer male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, etc. we are ALL one under Christ. That includes heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, and trans-gendered persons. When the Bible is so clear on this, why do you insist on trying to find someone who will try to misinterpret the scriptures to call people that God made LGBT, sinners? How many LGBT people does God need to make before you realize that he wants them here?

      • denitaP

        I so agree with you Suzy with regards to MISintepretation of scripture. I see this from a place of leaving the church years ago due to the hate my daughter and I received. I grew up all over the world as my father was in the military, married a black man 15 years after loving vs virginia supreme court case was ruled. hmm, yep, the bible was used by folks against interracial marriages back then. My daughter is biracial and dealt with some of the ugliness of racism. Even in Church…not only is my daughter biracial, she is lesbian. The hate she got in church and high school was so bad, she wanted to commit suicide. She thought the world would be a better place without her in it. The sadness and dispair of my child was unbearable for me as her mother. See, I love her for all of who God made her to be. God is love.period. I have since studied religion and while I do not profess to be a expert, what I do know is the cause of harm it has caused when used in hate and condemnation. I have slowly come back to loving the teachings of Christ, I am not at a place to get into a church of rules and dogma. My daughter is now 28, way past those teen years of horror and doing well. I am in NC where we as voters have to decide if LGBT folks should have the same rights as others with regards to marriage May 8th. WOW. really? It is the religious right shoving down our throats there beliefs of hate and bigotry. I am a PFLAG Mom and actively involved in standing up as a straight ally. And not is it is not a GAY agenda, but one of demanding equal rights for EVERYONE. What if there was a vote for or against interracial marriages? I see a tide of fear and intolerance of those bible thumpers using the “clobber” verses to condemn people. Sad thing is what did Jesus say about homosexuality? thats right, nothing. I have enjoyed reading this blog and so love the loving and good that I see and feel from most gentle and good souls. peace & namaste

        • Val P.

          As much as a parent loves a gay/lesbian child, think how much more that child’s Creator loves them! All the hate mongering in the world does not change the fact that God is love – for ALL, not just the ones some folks think are lovable. That is such a comfort to me, because there are plenty of days I fall short and certainly don’t feel worthy of God’s love.

          • Diana A.

            Me too.

        • Noah

          This is an interesting conversation, and I would like to chime in in a polite and respectful way. I too am a Christian, and in turn I believe that the Bible is God’s Word. What the Word says to me is pretty straight forward. Throughout the Bible there is support to show that sexual relations with the same sex is a sin, all the way in the beginning with the “clobber” or “Bible thumper” verses, to the New Testament. As everyone knows the Book of Leviticus in the Septuagint, or more commonly known as the Old Testament, states that, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”(Leviticus 18:22). There seems to be a common misconception today that this verse is null and void and no longer applies, but then we find similar prohibitions against same sex relations in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10, the Apostle Paul states that, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”. Not only does Paul state that homosexuality is a sin, but take a look at some of the other character types that he describes. He puts homosexuals in the same category as many other types of characters that we in society frown upon today, including thieves. Wouldn’t we all agree that stealing is wrong? Why then is there so much debate as to whether or not homosexuality is wrong? I think it is safe to say that everyone in the gay community, Christians and non Christians alike, would agree that theft is wrong and that they would be pretty upset if someone broke into their house or threw a brick through there car window to steal some spare change. Why is similar behavior, like homosexuality, seen as acceptable in some circles of the Christian community then? I am not saying that Christians that struggle with same sex attraction are not loved by God, because they indeed are. God loves us, but he hates our sin. That is why He gave His only Son to die on the cross to pay for our sins, so that we would not have to and so that we would be free from the bondage of sin, not so that we would continue to walk in those ways. It is not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings but it is at times unavoidable as it is sometimes tough love and rebuke that is necessary to correct your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe that this is an important conversation to have and therefor I encourage others to ask questions and give comments to this post as well. God bless and I will be praying for all of you.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Well Noah, stealing clearly harms another person, but two people’s personal relationship isn’t really anyone else’s business in a free society, so the analogy fails on public-policy grounds.

            As for scriptural grounds, one must again ask whether we have learned anything as a society since the prohibitions you speak of, assuming they really are “straightforward.” All the professional medical, psychological, and psychiatric organizations that are peer-reviewed have come to the consensus that same-sex attraction and practice are not harmful nor “disorders.” So in the same way the folks in the Bible might have considered mental illness to be demon possession, we today know better.

            As to your “straightforward” remark, I am impressed that you noted the Septuagint, as it shows that you perhaps anticipate my next argument: namely, that the name for “homosexual” in 1 Corinthians, ἀρσενοκοίτης, is, in fact, a hapax legomenon (aside from its reuse in a later epistle), that is, it appears for the first time here and thus Paul probably coined it himself. People have noted its similarity to the Septuagint (Greek translation) of Leviticus 18, in which it actually shows up as two, non-contiguous words, but it’s hardly “straightforward” because without any other referent in 1st-century Greek literature, it’s hard to pin down exactly what he means here. One can get a general idea, but does one really want to condemn an entire group of people based on a general idea?

            But even if he does mean “homosexual” in the modern (and equally problematic) terminology of the word, my thinking is, “who cares?” He also says some rather less-than-modern things about women in 1 Corinthians 11, and as I’ve pointed out here ad nauseam, the later epistles have no qualms about endorsing the institution of slavery (they really don’t — check with any credible, nonapologetic scholar on the matter, who is not invested in excusing the Bible to make it “inerrant”).

            The Bible can be a great place to go to maintain prejudice in spite of modern advancements of knowledge, but time and again, this approach loses out to a greater calling found in it: namely, the widening of the circle of acceptance and freedom.

          • Noah

            It may not physically harm other people in society, but it is offensive to God. People’s relationships with one another may not be the business of others, but it is the business of God. Living in a “free” society doesn’t nullify God’s Word or prevent Him from having His rightful place in our lives, as God is above the non Biblical, constitutional rights of our “free society”, and it exist only as long as God allows it to(Just look at the various cities and kingdoms that God destroyed or ordered others to destroy in the Old Testament, the Book of Joshua is a good place to start). As for the expert opinions of those in the medical and psychological fields, they hold no ground on issues of faith, you either believe God’s Word, or you don’t. He says homosexuality is wrong and offensive to Him, so I believe Him. More evidence exists in Romans 1:26-27, as well as 1Timothy 1:8-11. What are the odds that the 3 authors of Leviticus, 1 Corinthians/Romans, and 1 Timothy all were talking about something else besides homosexuality? By homosexuality, perhaps Paul was referring to basket weaving, but not likely. In any case, the original verse in Leviticus makes it clear enough. As far as asking who cares, it is apparent that God cares, regardless if any of His human creations do or not. It is in the Bible, and one can make an assumption that He does care seeing as to how he had many prophets, kings, and apostles take the time(thousands of years) to write it down. In respect to head coverings, that was simply the tradition of the time. If we look at Ephesians 5:22, Paul calls wives to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord”. He also calls husbands to, ” love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”, so men and husbands are given commands to obey as well in marriage. The recent progressive and feminist movements of the recent past have led many in “free” society to believe that they “deserve” all of these rights, but none of this is biblical. I think that it is great and support women being treated well, but just know that it is not a right for women, or men for that matter, to have any kind of rights. The one thing that all of us deserve, myself included, is to be thrown into hell this very moment. By the grace and mercy of God and the sacrifice that His son made on the cross, we are saved from that fate, but God would be completely justified in doing so. Long story short, these constitutional rights and privileges are not deserved, we only enjoy them because we were fortunately born in a geographic location that currently allows it, and fortunately God allows the democratic government to exist. On a final note, a more careful observation should be made of the issue of slaver in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 7: 20-24, Paul states that, “Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity). For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave to Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God”. Clearly Paul IS NOT condoning slavery, he in fact encourages those in slavery to take advantage of the opportunity to escape it if it arises. The point is to remain content with whatever place or situation God has you. Most importantly, and most relevant to the main issue, is that we are slaves of Christ. Our lives are not our own, we were bought with a price when Christ redeemed us on the cross. He paid the price for us, and we now belong to Him. There is no prejudice, just truth.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            You have a bibliology that you are taking with you to all the verses, first and foremost the notion that The Bible is authoritative because several groups of individuals decided over a number of centuries to canonize works that agreed with their theology. I hate to break it to you: the Bible didn’t just descend out of heaven. It was transmitted, imperfectly, to us. It remains imperfect.

            As to “what would Paul be talking about besides homosexuality”? Well, welcome to a huge debate in the scholarly world, because to figure out what he’s talking about, we first have to figure out what the “common sense” view of sexuality was in the ancient world. The ONLY consensus on this score is that it was most definitely different, in some ways or another, than ours (and similar in some ways too). So it’s actually a huge problem. Certainly not one to be summarily dismissed.

            Since you bring up Romans 1, what do you make of the vocative in Romans 2?

            As for veils, it’s nice to know you have that all figured out, because most scholars are still stumped. What does he mean when he says the veil is needed “for the angels”? Does this refer to the Watchers?

            Sodom et al. is a cross-cultural myth about hospitality. There are Greco-Roman analogues, if you’re interested. This is a tired, old, argument. There is not too much dispute in this area, except by those who are looking for new ways to get God to condemn gays.

            To say “There is no prejudice, just truth” is circular and makes no argument, so I’ll ignore it.

            As to your views on slavery, I direct you to the post I already wrote on this, if that doesn’t seem crass: http://www.donmburrows.com/2011/10/this-is-how-apologetics-works.html

            Yes, sometimes Paul is more radical toward slaves and women. Problem is, he didn’t write all the letters that come to us under this name, so inconsistency is perhaps expected.

          • denitaP

            Only been on this blog for a short time and have learned alot, esp from you Don…You ROCK!

          • Noah

            I’m well aware that the Bible didn’t fall out of the sky, but thanks for checking. These “groups of individuals” put the Bible and all of its books together, they did not write the books, therefor the canonization process had no altering effect on the individual books of the Bible, and thus the verses on homosexuality still stand. As for Romans 2, I have no intention to judge anyone, only rebuking those who have strayed away from God and the Christian life, as is one’s Christian duty to his brothers and sisters in Christ. While we are on the topic of Biblical scholarship, most historians DO agree that Romans and 1 Corinthians were written by Paul himself, they are included in the group referred to as the undisputed epistles. Although I don’t need some university professor to form or build my faith in God. God and His Word were around long before any of these scholars.

          • Christy

            Why the hostility toward scholarship?

          • Noah

            No hostility intended, my apologies for coming off that way. It just seems that many Christians today get into the pitfall of relying more on what others say about God’s Word and less on opening up the Bible and reading it for themselves(and not picking and choosing what verses they will keep and throw out). Secondly, many today use scholarship as a means to find reasons to not believe in something, not to learn about the Bible, the authors, and God who ultimately guided it’s development over the centuries.

          • Christy

            I am humble enough to realize that my ability to interpret scripture and its meaning in historical and cultural context is limited such that I cannot read the Bible authoritatively and be certain that I have interpreted it correctly any more than I can feel a pain in my body and know what the proper diagnosis is. I look to wise guides to help provide a fuller, richer contextual view so that I don’t miss the wealth of deeper meaning that is so clearly present in such a complex work of literature.

          • DR

            It just seems that many Christians today get into the pitfall of relying more on what others say about God’s Word and less on opening up the Bible and reading it for themselves(and not picking and choosing what verses they will keep and throw out).>>>

            But Noah, you actually relied on scholarship to explain head covering. Why is it that you have the last word on your interpretation on what requires interpretation and what can be read straight out of the Bible? I’m confused. You do understand that your interpretation is certainly yours to have but it’s one of many, many ideas out there.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            Firstly: Paragraphs are nice.

            Secondly: Your “I would like to chime in in a polite and respectful way” tone has slipped a bit.

            Thirdly: If you are going to stay firmly grounded with Biblical literalism and ignore historical, cultural, and academic Biblical scholarship we aren’t going to get anywhere here. Your plain reading does not equal the study and life’s work of many theologians and historians.

            Fourthly: The purity codes of Leviticus were manmade laws about which Jesus took the Pharisees to task.

            Fifthly: The theme in the Ten Commandments is to deny selfishness: to put God and others first. Don’s point about homosexuality being victimless is consistent with this. It is also consistent with the Greatest Commandment of Jesus: love God; love your neighbor; love your enemy. This is compassion. The heart of the Commandments is compassion: putting God and others before ourselves.

            A healthy homosexual loving relationship is no more selfish or compassionless than the same heterosexual one. This is Don’s point. All of the clobber verses refer to subjugation, domination, rape, idolatry: all of which break this theme of selfishness in the commandments. A mutually monogamous loving relationship is not to what the scriptures are referring.

            I doubt you really want to adhere to the literalism yourself that you are trying to impose on those with whom you disagree.

          • Noah

            The prophets and apostles that wrote the books of the Bible were inspired by God and had a unique connection with God that those of us today do not have, so there writings are above those of ordinary historians and academics today. We are to lover others, but that doesn’t mean that we can just ignore the parts of Bible that we don’t like because people that we love engage in those behaviors. It doesn’t work that way. Myself and those who agree with me could be accused of “cherry picking” verses out of the Bible to condemn people, but the fact is that they are there. What others are doing is “cherry picking” verses OUT of the Bible and ignoring them. People can do that all they wish, but that doesn’t mean that God’s prohibitions against homosexuality will go away. Also, see below post.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            I know this is what you believe. But because you believe it does not make it true. We aren’t arguing about what is written. We disagree about what it means. This is an entirely different thing. Historians and Theologians aren’t writing scripture they are interpreting it – with knowledge – that you and I don’t have.

            And I realize any second now John is going to show up in black knee socks, a metal whistle, and throw his yellow silly-putty flag.

          • Bobbi

            Noah in your post you said “It may not physically harm other people in society, but it is offensive to God. People’s relationships with one another may not be the business of others, but it is the business of God.”

            I just think it is somewhat amazing that you know what God finds offensive. I am not nearly spiritualy developed enough to presume that I know God’s tastes and like and dislikes. But since you insist on telling us what God is offended by and telling us where to read to show us what she is offended by I offer you the same verse I offered Thomas a bit further down in this thread. Proverbs 3:27-30 (New International Version) 27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you. 29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. 30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason— when they have done you no harm.

            To John Shore I know I am new here but couldn’t you creat a file so that everytime these discussions come up we could just go in and cut and paste the response to save time. Almost every post I have read continues to get off topic when someone wanders by to remind me that I’m an abomination to God. I must admit outside of the clever, witty responses it does become tiresome. You could also save this for the next group that the faithful decide are not worthy of their humanity and God’s love, just as they did in the past with interracial maraige, racial equality, womens rights, Native American rights, slavery etc.. etc.. etc…

          • Noah

            It’s not really that amazing that I know what God finds offensive, it’s in the Bible, that’s how I know. I’m not making anything up. I also never noticed any pronoun in the Bible referring to God as “She”. I am not withholding good from you, I’m offering you this good knowledge right now today. I’m also not plotting harm against you in any way, and I am not accusing you without reason, God and His Word claims that homosexuality is wrong, so my REASON is to inform everyone that believes that it is ok that it is wrong. So I appreciate you going to scripture in an attempt to form your case(as no one else on here wants to), but it still does not convict me of any wrong doing or fault. Again, thank you for opening the Bilbe and using scripture.

          • denitaP

            NOAH, give it a rest…

            GOD is love.period.

          • Bobbi

            Amen

          • denitaP

            Bobbi,

            “copy and paste” is an excellent idea! When I would repeat myself over and over to the kids when young, I wished for a tape recorder to be able to repeat what needed to be said by just pushing a button. They finally “got it”..but it appears some folks on this site do not. I am also new here and can’t quite get some who don’t seem to listen to anyone else but want others to hear only them and there take on the bible, sin and God.

          • Noah

            Denita,

            You don’t have to listen to me! Open up the Bible, read it, and see for yourself! I don’t know how many times I have to beat a dead horse.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            My Bible is open to Romans 2. Still waiting … got an answer?

          • denitaP

            Noah,

            I am not a dead horse and YOU ARE not going to tell me what to believe!!!!..if I had listened to you when my daughter was a teen SHE WOULD BE DEAD RIGHT NOW YOU ASSHOLE. My child was tormented by people just LIKE YOU Noah. I left the church YEARS AGO and am just starting to come back. I have seen for myself the HARM you have done with you right wing HATE FILLED IGNORANT FEARFUL SELF AND YOU NOAH are a BIGOT. I LOVE my gay and lesbian friends and family and GOD MADE THEM JUST AS PERFECT AS THEY ARE. Take the teachings of these wise people on this site, I know I will and yep I am pissed…because you took me back to when Chanette was 15 years old in youth group at rcc church where they said the same thing your are saying now. In Chanette’s words when contemplating suicide was “I thought the world would be a better place without me in it”..THAT IS PAIN in my heart to hear that as her mother.

            Peace out brother Noah..

          • Noah

            Again Don, I’m sorry, but what does this have to do with homosexuality or you finding biblical support for it?

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            If you don’t know what the vocative in Romans 2 is, just admit it, and we can move on to discussion why I think it’s important.

          • Noah

            Already answered it.

          • Christy

            Where. I didn’t see it.

          • DR

            How is it that we know that being gay is an “offense” to God? I just witnessed while in hospice, a gay man who helped his partner die from cancer. They were together for 50 years. They laughed and cried and when Danny got scared because he couldn’t see any longer, Paul held his hand and said “I’m here. Let me tell you what I see.” 10 minutes later he died peacefully.

            How dare you call that an offense to God. Would you have been there with Danny? Tell the truth.

          • DR

            Noah simply put, there are lots of scriptural verses that some interpret as “very clear” while others that aren’t convenient to follow (like God hating divorce for example) are given a bit of a pass by Christians. If you’re going to be literal with Scripture then fine – then don’t get divorced. Don’t let women teach in churches and women should wear head covering in church. Commit all the way, just not the ways that are convenient.

          • Noah

            I couldn’t agree more! Most of God’s commands are not convenient at all to follow. It is difficult to fight lust, but much easier to give in and take a look at every attractive women that walks by. It is hard to not tell a lie, especially if it seems like a “little white lie”, and it would be much easier and convenient to lie and avoid a possible confrontation or argument. It would be much easier to steal things and possessions that I want rather than having to go out and work for them. But God calls us to obey his commands and to love Him more than life itself. I myself am guilty of breaking many of God’s commands, and I thank Him everyday for giving up His only Son to die on the cross for my inequities and shortcomings, and for continuing to show me undeserved grace and mercy daily even though I deserve His wrath and eternal separation from Him in hell. As for divorce, Jesus Himself said, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery”(Matthew 19: 8-9). So clearly there are some Biblical grounds for divorce. I believe that wives are to submit to their husbands, as Paul states in Ephesians 5:22. This relates to the issue of head covering, as in 1st century Roman society this was a sign of marriage. Paul is not so much concerned with the relationship between men and women as he was with the relationship between husbands and wives. It was considered dishonoring to the husband for the wife to not have her head covered while in church, thus the command for a wife’s head to be covered. Would you go to Church without your wedding ring on or consider that to be appropriate? Finally, I agree that women are not to teach in church. They are to remain quit and submit to male leadership in the Church, as stated in 1 Timothy 2: 11-12. I agree with God and His Word 100%.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            Noah: ‘It is difficult to fight lust….. It is hard to not tell a lie, especially if it seems like a “little white lie”, and it would be much easier and convenient to lie and avoid a possible confrontation or argument. It would be much easier to steal things and possessions that I want rather than having to go out and work for them.’

            This is not so very hard for many many people. Especially grown ups.

            Your literalism and legalism is what Jesus came to admonish and correct. If you would like to be Amish, I encourage you to go. Be Amish with our blessing. Enjoy it. But do not insist you speak for all Christianity nor all Americans when it comes to Biblical understanding and what God wants in our lives.

          • DR

            I wonder if I had instead replied to Noah saying “I don’t care what your interpretive scholars say, women are to wear head covering. Period. The context doesn’t matter, this is what the Bible says, stop making it be something other than what it says” how that would have flown?

          • Noah

            In what context could God have seen homosexuality in then that is different from today? Homosexuality was wrong then, but today it’s ok? The head covering was similar to a wedding ring today, what’s the link between homosexuality being a sin 2000 years ago but being acceptable today? I don’t see how context even comes into play here.

          • DR

            Well I guess we lost the whole “I’m being nice and respectful here” part.

            The context is that the word “homosexuality” didn’t even exist when the Bible was being written down, Noah. You need to do a little research.

          • DR

            And the Bible doesn’t say anything about head covering being a wedding ring. It just says to wear it. So make your wife wear it, period, that’s just straight out of the Bible Noah. I’m just following your direction.

            Along those lines, And I certainly hope you don’t let her speak in church, she is to be silent. Do you allow her to talk while in church.

          • Noah

            Well, “Christy”, I’m going to assume that you are a women, and thus you may not fully understand how difficult it is for heterosexual men to fight lust, similarly to how I do not fully understand how difficult it is for gays to fight same sex attraction. Fighting lust or same sex attraction may not be as easy as fighting other sins, but again that doesn’t give us a get out of jail free card. I struggle with lust daily, but I don’t just say, “oh well it’s not my fault” or “I was born this way”. Second, I am not taking a Pharisee point of view, I am talking about something much deeper than the physical actions, I am talking about the heart. I don’t have to have physical interactions to commit adultery, if I have a lustful thought, it is the same as if I had physical interactions with a woman outside of marriage. So no, I am not a Pharisee or Amish.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

            I’m sorry to hear of your struggles. You presume it is harder for men or that women don’t lust. These are false assumptions. Do you struggle daily with trying not to be your skin color? And wish that God had made you the “right” skin color. Perhaps you could repent for having been born with the wrong skin color, because that is what you are asking homosexuals to do.

            You also presume that one’s sexual orientation involves some monolithic constant temptation and desire to have sex. This too is a false assumption. Falling in love with someone is an entirely different thing than being sexually attracted to someone, which makes me question where your heart is.

            I’m sure the Pharisees didn’t like being called son’s of hell and a den of vipers either. Jesus did speak of the heart of the matter stating that it is not what goes into our body that defiles us, but what is in our heart. So if you want to get graphically literal here……well, there you go. Compassionate and romantic love in a committed relationship – people falling in love with each other – is not what he spoke of.

          • Mindy

            The fact that you believe that your fight against lust – which, unless you have a sexual addiction of some sort, shouldn’t be THAT difficult, Noah – and God expecting a healthy homosexual human to remain celibate for life shows just how little you understand about humanity.

            That, along with your belief that women have no right to teach in a church, tells me all I need to know.

            You fear so much about life that you don’t live it. You fear so much about others that you don’t get to know them. How can you believe that what you cannot control is the same as what you can? Lustful thoughts vs. adultery? That’s ludicrous.

            You are a lost being, lost in fear of pissing God off and winding up in a worse shape for eternity than you are in now. People who believe as you do, Noah, and who insist that they know better than respected theologians and the millions of LGBT people themselves how they should live – are a sad lot, living marginal lives, missing out on so much that God has to offer.

            I’d pity you, if you weren’t so bigoted and hateful. Since you are, I won’t waste my time.

          • Noah

            Mindy,

            Your not a man, so how would you know how difficult it is for a man to refrain from having lustful thoughts? God doesn’t expect a healthy man to be celibate, he expects him to seriously fight same sex attraction and marry a woman. God made Adam and EVE, not Adam and Bob, or Adam and George. Lustful thoughts and adultery are both sins and both lead to hell without the saving power of Christ. The “ranking system” that our society has in place for sin is not biblical. Again, I only ask that you stop attacking me and instead open the Bible and see what it has to say, as well as be a little bit more professional and civil when addressing others(not calling them names when trying to make a reasonably sound argument).

          • Mindy

            Seriously? This is your response? Oh dear. You have absolutely no understanding of what homosexuality really is.

            If Jesus appeared to you in a vision and said, “I’m sorry, Noah, they got it all wrong. It’s HETEROSEXUALITY that God hates, not the other way around! He had no intention for there be this many humans on earth – look where all this man/woman coupling has got us? TOTAL overpopulation! So from now on, all you men may only be attracted to, date and marry other men.”

            Now, I realize that is ridiculous. But just pretend here for a moment. Could you “fight opposite-sex attraction” and marry a man? Of course not! That’s crazy-talk! That’s absurd, why on earth would you want to do THAT? You wouldn’t, of course. You couldn’t. It would go against your very nature.

            Which is exactly what it must feel like to all the LGBT people who read your words when you say they are to seriously fight their same sex attraction. They can’t. It is part of their being – part of who God made them to be. They are not damaged or broken or disabled or mentally challenged. They are just different from you. That’s all. No better, no worse. Some of them are promiscuous and badly behaved. Just like lots of straight people. Some of them are celibate. Just like some straight people. And most of them are just like most straight people – dating, monogamous, hoping to find their soul mates and fall in love and live happily ever after.

            And you think they shouldn’t because . . . . why, again??

          • Noah

            Mindy,

            They shouldn’t because God tells them not to. By “they”, who do you mean? God made the command, not “they”. I can not fight opposite sex attraction because that is the way God designed men and women, to be attracted to one another. Same sex attraction is one of the many sins that entered the world in the fall when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. So, opposite sex is condoned by God, opposite sex attraction isn’t, which is why it is a sin. Not to mention that God doesn’t make mistakes and therefor that hypothetical example isn’t even plausible(none of us would even be alive today, after all).

          • Noah

            * sorry, typo. Same sex attraction is condemned by God, opposite sex attraction is condoned.

          • Mindy

            And again, Noah, you miss the point entirely.

            I wish you a life free from your narrow mind someday. Free from bigotry you don’t even understand yet. You have a loooong way to go, Noah.

            May you not give up the journey. I will close my eyes optimistically, that you’ve stayed in the conversation this long not because you really think you are going to change anyone’s mind here – most of us here once believed as you do and evolved past it, with God’s help. But maybe because you sense that you can learn something.

            Maybe not, but a girl can hope, right? Goodnight, Noah.

          • Noah

            Mindy,

            I like how you are calling me a “narrow-minded bigot”, because I don’t agree with your opinion and point of view. Are you not guilty of the same thing by disagreeing with me and saying that I’m wrong? That’s just narrow-minded….

          • Mindy

            No, Noah, it is not the same thing at all. You have an “opinion” based in antiquated understanding. Your “opinion” causes real people undue and unjust pain and spiritual anguish. Your “opinion” is may be just that, but it is also incorrect. God does not hate homosexuality. You know how I know that? He told me so.

            Yep, true fact. He told me. And then, to prove His point, He introduced me, over the last few years, to many LGBT people, people who I’ve gotten to know, several who have become close friends. I’ve watched two of my daughters best friends fall in love with each other, and it’s been as sweet as any straight first love I’ve ever seen. They are both still chaste and innocent, but they are in love, and are sharing that love long-distance, as they’ve headed off to different colleges. My LGBT friends live as His Son taught us to live – with love. They follow rules, obey laws, study hard, own businesses or work for others, volunteer in their communities, raise children, go to church, give generously and love God. They are delightful and wonderful and caring and for you or anyone else to DARE say they are somehow “less than” is such an offense to God that I really have no words to describe it.

          • Bobbi

            That’s great Mindy! I agree whole heartedly, becacause God told me the same thing. It gives me the warm fuzzies to know that God didn’t stop speaking almost two thousand years ago. A number of the people that epitomize the word Christian to me are gay and lesbian.

          • Christy

            Noah, I know you said you’ve never heard God’s voice. But God still speaks to us in wondrous and beautiful ways. If we are open to listening for God’s voice, we will “hear” it. We will see it. We will know it. We will experience it. God is still speaking. Everyday. And so many of us miss this amazing aspect of what can be part of our relationship with God because we have grown immune to wonder. We walk through life with our moral certainty glasses on, suppressing our innate curiosity, living fear-bound limited lives. This is not what god hopes for for us. to live life more abundantly – deeply, richly – connected to God and to each other….in relationship. Be still and know that the I AM is there…..waiting to speak to you, to light your path….and lead you to that place within yourself and in this life where you will know how very deeply you are loved. And when god makes you aware of this, you will not be able to help yourself from going through life embodying this grace and love to others.

          • Noah

            I agree, he speaks to us in a wonderful and beautiful way called His Word, the Bible.

          • Noah

            and God does speak to us through His Spirit, but as a Christian you can not say that and then claim that the Bible is wrong. Can’t play both sides.

          • Noah

            Mindy,

            I never said that I was “superior” to gay people, I am in fact just as sinful and just as deserving of hell as they are, as I have been saying on here all night. As for God telling you homosexuality was ok, I’m not sure I believe you. If he thought it was ok why would he say otherwise in His Word? It’s also kind of strange that he only told this to gay people and other people that support homosexuality, seems like he would have mentioned it to some of the people abiding by His Word, not to mention that God does not contradict Himself.

          • Noah

            Even though my “opinion” is backed up by God’s Word, for the sake of making an argument, how is my “opinion” any less valid than yours? Why is YOUR opinion superior to mine? You accuse me of being a narrow minded bigot when by definition you are doing the exact same thing.

          • Christy

            And in the Creation. God created and reveals Truth in the Creation. And to ignore the Divine that is revealed in the Creation is to ignore the balance of Scripture. Many of us here do not hold to Sola Scriptura, my friend. And I have already explained how openness to what is connects us to God, whether you choose to try to understand that or not.

            So many who believe the Bible as you do have venerated the words in your chosen English version of the Book to an idolatrous level and your unwillingness to consider careful, rigorous, academic study of it is intellectually disingenuous and willfully ignorant.

          • DR

            Why is YOUR opinion superior to mine? You accuse me of being a narrow minded bigot when by definition you are doing the exact same thing.>>>

            Because what I believe about gay men and women doesn’t cause gay kids to kill themselves. Your beliefs do. I’ve noticed that you’ve not addressed that once. People on the run from the truth seldom want to look it in the face, it slows them down. But you’ll have to face that someday Noah – do it sooner rather than later.

          • Noah

            Look everyone, I know that most of you probably picture me as some dumb, uneducated Bible-thumping Christian conservative from the south, who likes to go shoot guns and go to NASCAR races on the weekends and that wishes that George Bush could run for a 3rd term in office. I too have been to college( working on a Masters degree right now), I actually fall more in the middle as far as the liberal-conservative spectrum goes, and I too have studied the Bible and have taken college classes in philosophy and religion and I have been exposed to alternate views opposed to my own. So if you disagree with me, that’s fine, just be respectful and don’t just automatically assume I’m some dumb hick who leaves the house without a shirt and shoes on. It is also possible to have a conversation or debate without calling people foolish and dumb as well as other curse words. This is just how you are suppose to conduct your behavior in civilized society.

          • Christy

            Noah: “and God does speak to us through His Spirit, but as a Christian you can not say that and then claim that the Bible is wrong. Can’t play both sides.”

            Actually, yes. We can say that. Because the Spirit speaks to us through experience……gnosis: deep experiential knowing. And this can and does exist outside of reading Scripture. And Scripture, even if it were perfectly whole and correctly transcribed and translated (which most likely it is not), our understanding and interpretation of it can be, and often is, woefully wrong (or shallow or incomplete or unknowledgeable or out of context). In the all or nothing, black and white worldview of Fundamentalism if one thing is wrong, you throw the whole thing out. The rest of us don’t do that.

          • Noah

            Christy,

            If that’s the case, then I guess I’ll just go out and lie, steal, kill, basically just ignore God’s Word and do whatever I feel like doing, and if anyone asks, I’ll just tell them what you just said. I’ll go through life picking and choosing whatever parts of the Bible are convenient at the time. Good idea.

          • Christy

            Silly putty. Nice passive aggressive. Nice not listening at all. Good night, Noah.

          • Christy

            You just proved my whole black and white all or nothing point. Thank you.

          • Noah

            The main point i’m trying to make here is that when you simply pick and choose which parts of the Bible are factual and which are not, your getting into some dangerous territory. I just hope that everyone prays long and hard before deciding to disregard parts of the Bible, or just completely writing your own bible and creating your own god, which I fear many on hear may be doing.

          • DR

            Do you fight the desire to marry a woman and have kids with her?

          • Christy

            Noah: “Look everyone, I know that most of you probably picture me as …”

            This is the first time you have spoken in what seems like your authentic voice. You being you. As your real self without quoting scripture or common church phrasology. Do more of this.

            What are you studying and where?

          • Noah

            I’m working on a masters in criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati. I go through the majority of my life not quoting scripture, but due to the nature of the discussion it is necessary for me to quote scripture in order for my case to be credible. I don’t mean to come off as superior, that’s not my intention, but I believe that scripture is more reliable than me just giving my unsupported and ungrounded opinion, anyone can do that. The nature of the discussion is almost impossible to approach with this method as it is, but I am not God, and therefore that’s all I can do. For instance, I believe that Jesus walked on water, healed the blind, and cast out demons, but it is impossible for me to prove this on any grounds. It comes down to faith, you either believe it or you don’t. I believe that God is all powerful, perfectly flawless and is in complete control. The Bible exist today the way it is because that’s the way he has allowed it to be written, translated, and formed throughout history. I can’t back that up with any physical proof, all I have is my faith and belief in God and his one and only Son Jesus Christ. On another note, I owe everyone on here an apology. As this went from a discussion to an all out brawl, I willingly engaged in it and perpetuated it, as Proverbs 17:14 states(sorry, one more) “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out”. I failed to do this and repent of it and ask everyone on here forgive of it as well.

          • Christy

            Noah: “I can’t back that up with any physical proof.”

            But others can back up that the Bible has been mistranslated with actual physical proof. And that is what Don and others here have been trying to offer to you. But you stick with, “but I read right here and it says this.” You are showing us you are unwilling to consider new information.

            Criminal Justice. Interesting. Law enforcement? Or lawyer route? Defense or Prosecution?

            Along that vein two points:

            1) When they get to covering criminal psychology look carefully at the people you know and and how they fit or do not fit the pathology and symptoms of unhealthy psychology.

            2) Before you studied this field and someone gave you a list of police codes without their meanings, would you have known what a 273D in progress was? Or if someone handed you a legal brief or a document written in legal language (http://www.putlearningfirst.com/language/15doms/law.html) and asked you to read it and then explain back to them with certainty and accuracy what it said and meant would you have been able to do that? The correct answer is No.

            This is why scholarship is important and necessary, and if you are unwilling to consider all the points of view including those that do not match your own predetermined ones on a subject, then you have not given full consideration to a matter. You have prejudged and looked only for evidence that supports your claim, while ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit, but that evidence exists nonetheless. I pray that our judicial system does not work this way. In order for Justice to be served ALL of the evidence must be considered. I hope you will keep this in mind both in your Biblical study and in the exercise of your profession.

            Lastly: Moral certainty is bright and shiny…..and so very blinding. It is the biggest stumbling block I ever tripped over. There is far more humility and grace in admitting and surrendering to the mystery of the Divine than there is in being certain of one’s rightness about things as ineffable as God. You do not need to repent for engaging in debate. But perhaps it would be a valuable exercise to open yourself to allowing God in by asking questions and seeking instead of trying so hard to keep new and different information out.

            Blessings on your journey.

          • Christy

            This might be a helpful read.

            On Fundamentalism’s control authoritarianism and isolation.http://www.bjuaccreditation.org/content/101911/authoritarianism-and-isolationism

            “Children who emerge from such an environment may carry with them a distorted concept of God as an emotional blackmailer interested only in behavior.”

            “Fee and Stuart, however, also sound a warning against drawing universal moral principles from each biblical narrative: “The fallacy of this approach is that it ignores the fact that the [biblical] narratives were written to show the progress of God’s history of redemption, not to illustrate principles. They are historical narratives, not illustrative narratives.”46 Confusion concerning what is or is not universal can result in creating a subculture based on ancient culture.”

          • Christy

            Noah: Regarding my point about Pharisaical bondage to the law.

            ‘Isolationists’ belief that God has a particular culture in mind for His people influences how they interpret the Bible. Schlissel, for example, addresses the cultural craze over body piercing. He uses Leviticus 19:28 — “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you” (kjv) — to conclude that (male) body piercing is scripturally wrong.42 To apply this verse to today, however, would also mean we should not wear clothes made of two fabrics, since the same passage also instructs, “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material” (19:19 niv).

            Schissel also points to ancient practices of piercing slaves for subordination purposes (Exod. 21:6; Deut. 15:17) to argue that body piercing should not be practiced today.43 Mosaic laws concerning the treatment of slaves, however, fail as bases for transcultural principles about body piercing. Fee and Stuart address the pierced-slave passage (Deut. 15:12–17), calling it a casuistic law. [*****]“Such casuistic or case-by-case laws,” they say, “constitute a large portion of the more than six hundred commandments found in the Old Testament pentateuchal law.…Because such laws apply specifically to Israel’s civil, religious, and ethical life, they are by their very nature limited in their applicability and therefore unlikely to apply to the Christian.”44 Today, bondage is not in the piercing of a body part but in making such cultural issues absolutes. Paul warned regarding such bondage to the Mosaic Law, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1 niv).’ [*****]

            *42. Steve M. Schlissel, “Tattoo You?” Messiah’s, http://www.messiahnyc.org/article.php?sid=133.

            Source: http://www.equip.org/articles/christian-families-on-the-edge

          • Mindy

            When I read that a person with such a literalist, black and white view of humanity and right vs. wrong is studying criminal justice, the hair stands up on the back of my neck. I pray, truly and sincerely, that you are not intending to enter law enforcement. Your worldview, given the authority of a badge and a weapon, would be devastatingly dangerous.

          • Christy

            Mindy, I thought the exact same terrified thing.

          • Mindy

            Christy, I’ve met cops like that. They are incredibly dangerous, to perpetrators, to victims, to their fellow cops and to the communities they “serve.” They have no use for context or circumstances or patience or understanding – everything is black and white, right or wrong. I’ve also met incredible cops, wonderful people who are true assets to those they serve, whose understanding of humanity makes them heroes. I just hope Noah is going for a desk job in which he has little actual power over the justice meted out to others.

          • Mindy

            Noah, if you really are working on a Master’s degree, please proofread your material closely before turning anything in.

            Please consider that the majority of posters here on John’s blog used to believe as you do. They believed it, they practiced it, they preached it. They held to the same beliefs and they held as tightly to their Bibles as you do. Some of them are gay – and spent years being tormented by the fear that God hated them. Some of them have family members or close friends who lived with that torment, and some of those beautiful people wound up taking their own lives because they felt they weren’t worthy of living, being as broken as they were told – by YOUR RELIGION – that they were.

            What we all have in common, however, is not that we are writing our own Bibles or creating our own Gods, but that we opened our hearts to the experiences and people GOD placed in front of us. How many gay people have you made the effort to get to know? How many have you talked to about this? How many have you asked about their relationship with God? Any? Because if not, you really have no voice in this conversation. That’s the bottom line.

            You had the gall to tell me that you didn’t believe me when I told you about God speaking to me. Really? YOU know more about my experience with God than I do?? That’s rather “superior” of you, don’t you think?

            We are not ignorant fools who don’t know the Bible. I have my Master’s degree already, thankyouverymuch. Many on here are far more knowledgeable of the Bible than you, based on all that has been posted, because they have not only studied it, they studied it with a willingness to UNDERSTAND the complexity of it, of its history. You read the Bible as if God sat down next to you at a table and hammered it out in English while you watched. That is the ONLY way that your level of certainty could possibly be valid. Obviously, that is not the case.

            Your refusal to answer Don B.’s question about Romans is a prime example of picking and choosing, based on the knowledge you have at hand. Rather than seek new knowledge, you simply ignore the possibility that you might, just maybe, have understood it incorrectly. How scary it must be to you to think that you’ve had it wrong all this time. That God doesn’t doom His beloved creations based on how He put them together, after all. Scary, yes – but it doesn’t mean you can’t learn. It doesn’t mean that you can’t gain a better understanding of what God has tried to tell us. It doesn’t mean that your faith will be shaken, but will be made stronger, knowing that even in change, God loves all.

          • DR

            I couldn’t agree more! Most of God’s commands are not convenient at all to follow.>>>

            You said you couldn’t agree more yet you didn’t address my point. My point is that Christians have historically interpreted Scripture terribly when it’s come to some big things – we used the Bible to justify racism, we pulled out a few verses that kept women (and men) from divorcing spouses who were beating them to a pulp. We used a few verses in the Bible to prevent women from teaching in church, from becoming pastors.

            You need to realize that the clarity you believe you have around being black and white on this issue of homosexuality is the same black and white clarity those that used Scripture to support the above decisions had as well. You need to start doing the real math and that’s scary – homosexuals can’t change and God would never allow a sin to occur that someone can’t escape from.

          • Noah

            Yes, Christians have used the Bible in inappropriate ways throughout history to falsely justify doing sinful things, no disagreement there. This does not however, give Christians and society a get out of jail free card to do whatever they want and ignore the Bible. Homosexuals may not be able to get rid of their same sex attraction, but they can fight it and put that sin to death. Just claiming that “I was born this way” isn’t an excuse. All sin being equal, as all sin deserves hell, would we allow serial killers or psychopaths with a mental or psychological disorder to keep killing people because “they were born that way” or “they can’t change, it’s not their fault”? It may seem like an extreme example, but God hates all sin and all sin deserves hell, there is no ranking of sin. Also, this is not aimed at anyone in particular but the group as a whole: Seeing as to how this is a Christian debate and a discussion board on a Church website, I have been supporting my claims with scripture and I think it would be beneficial for everyone to support their claims with scripture, it would be good for all of us to get into the Word and learn about God and His teachings.

          • Christy

            This is not a church website and you don’t get to dictate nor set the rules for how we discuss points here. We have given scriptural references which you have ignored……but it doesn’t come as a big surprise that legalists want to control the method of debate.

          • Noah

            This is a discussion about Christianity and the Bible, why would you not support your claims with scripture? Also, what verses did I ignore? The one’s that I saw I believe that I either responded to, if not please bring them to my attention.

          • Christy

            Ten Commandments. Greatest Commandment. Leviticus.

          • Noah

            What I meant was is that without Christ and the sacrifice He made, we all would go to hell, one sin, ANY sin, means imperfection and thus eternal separation from God. Whether you break the Greatest Commandment or lie on your taxes, your going to hell if you don’t repent of your sins and put your faith in Christ and Christ alone. Period.

          • Noah

            The greatest commandment, love others, yes we are to do that. But telling someone that they are in sin for engaging in homosexuality is not being mean, it is rebuking them out of love because you do care about them and want them to repent and return to Christ.

          • Christy

            Your theology is deeply familiar to me. You need not explain. I completely understand…..how it is works based perfectionism and lacks Grace. I am so sorry that you are caught in this painful hopeless paradigm of not good-enoughness and cannot see how it is exactly like the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees. Salvation is by Grace alone. God does all the work and we as fallible humans will never be perfect, no matter how hard we try. But we are forgiven and deeply loved and when you realize this great truth of Christ’s unconditional love for us, it will be the truth that sets you free from your bondage of rule following in order to achieve favor with God.

          • Christy

            Noah: “The greatest commandment, love others, yes we are to do that. But telling someone that they are in sin for engaging in homosexuality is not being mean, it is rebuking them out of love because you do care about them and want them to repent and return to Christ.”

            You miss the forest for the trees. The love you speak of here is a – following a rule kind of love – it’s a doing, a “good work.” The love I and Jesus spoke of here is an inner transformation turning (repentent) kind of love that makes us completely new creatures, that opens us and our hearts to a new way of seeing and being in the world. It is a way of being. Not a thing we do. You are still operating under a “rule following in exchange for grace” paradigm that is unbiblical.

          • Noah

            I’m not sure I’m making myself clear. Salvation is in faith alone in Christ alone. We are saved by grace yes, but that does not mean that we can do whatever we want. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled”, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead”(James 2:14-17). Also, ” You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone…For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead”(James 2: 24-26). Faith AND works both matter, if your works are not producing spiritual fruit, then this is evidence of an unchanged heart. I do not know how to make myself any more clear. All of this is straight from the Bible. If I am lying then I challenge everyone to open THE BIBLE, not some website or blog or someones facebook page, and prove me wrong. I hope and pray that everyone will get into the Word and develop biblical views that can be supported with scripture.

          • Bobbi

            Two things Noah

            1) You said “What I meant was is that without Christ and the sacrifice He made, we all would go to hell”

            I should point out it was not his death on the cross that was the triumph but his ressurection. Anyone could have died.

            2) You mention the greatest commandment, the greatest commandment was To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. What you refer to is the second greatest commandment that Jesus gives us in Matthew 22: 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

            It has been my experience that the problem lies in that verse because most of us (refering to people raised in the Christian faith)are taught from a young age that they are bad and sin riddled. Because of this they never learn to love themselves and as a RESULT cannot truely love others as Jesus taught. Everytime someone tries tough love or admonishes me for my own good I tell them the same thing I now tell you. I will pray that you learn to love yourself so that you can experience the love of God and Jesus that I do.

          • Christy

            Noah: “I’m not sure I’m making myself clear. Salvation is in faith alone in Christ alone.’

            Again your theology is deeply – intimately – familiar to me. But putting faith in front of grace makes it works. I know you don’t understand this, but perhaps some longer thinking on that will prove fruitful.

            Noah: “We are saved by grace yes, but that does not mean that we can do whatever we want.”

            Of course it doesn’t. This is the Fundamentalist meme: all or nothing hedonism. Truly transformed people don’t want to do whatever they want. Awakened people are aware of their shortcomings and make the changes in their lives to dethrone their ego from the center of their circle of concern, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and put God and others first and live compassionate transformed lives.

            I love those passages from James. Yes, I agree 100% faith + works = fruit. And I would add I Corinthians 13 to that equation as well. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13&version=NIV

            Though we do all these things because of our faith and in conjunction with it but we do it without love (we do it in order to receive favor from God, we do it so we don;t go to hell, we do it because our minister said we should, we do it because we think this is what God wants)….it is worthless. The inner transformation is not there as evidenced by faith +works if it is done for the wrong motivation: to receive grace. Grace alone comes FIRST. We have faith and do works and love BECAUSE of grace NOT in order to receive grace. This is an vital theological point that I did not understand and had never learned in my Evangelical Fundamentalist life…..A reformed minister taught me this truth. I hope you will give it some careful consideration. There is a huge difference between we are saved because we believe vs. we are saved and so we believe. (Especially when you take the time to unpack the original Greek word for believe which more closely translates follow. The early Christians were known as followers of The Way. It was a practice – a way of being in the world and interacting with others – as evidence of an inner transformation not a belief system with promises of rewards for proper belief and rule following).

          • Noah

            Bobbi,

            Your either missing the point or your just attempting to pick apart my past posts in an attempt to discredit me and somehow God’s Word. Yes the resurrection was very important, but His death was also important, but this is getting away from the main arguement. Yes, I made a typo and got the Commandments mixed up, but that doesn’t change anything or add any substance to the argument. I’ll ask again, If I am lying, prove me wrong, WITH SCRIPTURE, and I will shut up. I’ve supported my claims with scripture, so far everyone else hasn’t offered up any support FOR homosexuality, but have only made attempts at picking apart not only my arguments but God’s Word. I would love to hear about scripture SUPPORTING homosexuality, not just people using philosophical arguments and personal opinions to try to tear me down and discredit me. Instead, open the Bible, and you will find all the answers there.

          • Christy

            Beautiful, Bobbi. Thank you for this and for saying it so well.

          • Noah

            Christy,

            I think we are just talking circles around each other, similar to the way Paul and James did on the issue of faith and works. It seems we agree on everything except the main reason why we started this in the first place. I’m glad you for the most part believe what I believe, now I just ask that you apply that to your belief that God thinks that homosexuality is ok or “no big deal”. Lets get back to the main issue, and I again ask everyone to prove me wrong, support your argument for homosexuality WITH SCRIPTURE. Prove me wrong, with SCRIPTURE, and I will shut up. I’ve typed this about 8 times now.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Noah, I’m still waiting. The vocative in Romans 2. Since you follow God’s word 100%, that must mean every single, blessed word. So I want to hear your answer to this. I’ll keep asking, just like you keep repeating yourself, if I have to.

          • Christy

            If you are only willing to trust a KJV version of scripture, then you are unwilling and unable to see the scripture and the interpretation we have offered, and we are at an impass. If you aren’t open to hearing what we have offered in a spirit of making the connections we have shown, we can’t make you see it. You will have to find the willingness to be open to it and right now you are not.

            Those that have ears, let them hear.

          • DR

            Noah, here’s what you don’t understand or you refuse to see. You’re all over the place here, providing “historical context” for certain things while at the same time claiming certain things are just black and white. You’re the one not being consistent – not us.

            You’re probably not used to dealing with people who don’t accept your version of Scripture as “The Word of God”. Scripture is central to my life but your interpretation isn’t. Which has everything to do with your need to control the conversation and have it on your terms. That’s just not going to happen here.

          • Diana A.

            Indeed!

          • Noah

            Christy,

            I didn’t see this comment until much later, but this is yet another stereotype of Evangelical Christians, somewhat funny and predictable lol. I don’t own a KJV Bible, I actually have a NIV and the newer and more accurate ESV, which I have been pulling my scripture quotes from.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Actually, the NIV and the ESV are both problematic translations. The NRSV is far superior. The NIV still translates John 3:3 with the word “again,” when it most likely meant “above,” and the ESV just uses the NRSV but changes things back when it doesn’t suit their ideology, like translating Isaiah 7:14 as “virgin,” when most competent people know it should be “young woman.”

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            This is actually one of the more fascinating aspects of Biblical literalism, if one can distance oneself from it enough not to just be annoyed. For they typically reject the most plain and straightforward (functional-equivalency) translation of the Bible, namely, the NRSV, because when it’s translated that way, it fails to support their theology. So Isaiah 7:14 says a “young woman will bring forth a child” in the Hebrew, but the NIV and ESV insist on translating it as “virgin,” because Matthew used it as a proof text for the virgin birth. Of course, Matthew used the Greek version, which says παρθένος, which can mean either maiden or “virgin” (that’s why the Parthenon is named for the virgin goddess Athena), so it’s been a mistranslation of the Hebrew for centuries, as Jews have known for centuries. The NRSV corrects this to the correct reading, and thus the NIV and ESV are born — in direct defiance of the more correct translation. Timothy Beal’s Rise and Fall of the Bible charts this nicely (among other things).

            So rather than go with the plain, literal, straightforward translation of the text, they go with one that supports their theology, then wallop the rest of us and say we have to go with a plain and straightforward reading of the translation not plainly nor straightforwardly translated to begin with.

            Hilarious!

          • Christy

            Yes….it’s painful.

          • denitaP

            Noah,

            wow…what a bunch of shit…Your thinking and those like you are the reason I left church..and to be quite blunt the reason there are so many folks hurting who love God but hear over and over how horrible a person they are and that they are going to hell. You sure as hell don’t need to be shoving your hate down anyone’s throat.

          • denitaP

            I put a link up for you to read Noah….why don’t you do some reading like some of us have suggested instead of being a DICtator of what the bible say as you only see it.

          • Noah

            It may seem that I am being hateful, but I am not and that is not my intention. I know everyone on here doesn’t believe a thing I am saying, but that is why I am saying read the Bible. Don’t believe what I say, open the Bible and read it for yourself, I’m not making any of this up. I can read links and websites all day but it won’t change what God’s Word says.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            I’m personally shocked to learn that in a world like today’s where human trafficking for sex slaves is an unfortunate reality, Noah would have said slaves “obey their masters” even if they are “cruel” and with “fear and trembling.” But at least he’s following scripture 100%

          • Mindy

            Yes, Noah, you are being hateful. You are the quintessential fundie – “rebuking out of love” – or so you think.

            Whether your intentions are hateful or not really makes not one whit of difference – the result of your manipulation of God’s messages – and yes, that is all it is, manipulation, just as you’ve been taught to do – is hate, bigotry and discrimination. Period. You can blather on, quoting whatever Bible verse you’ve decided makes your point, for days. It won’t matter. What you are saying is hateful, bigoted and causes pain, anguish and self-loathing in an entire segment of our human brothers and sisters who no more deserve it than you do. HATE. BIGOTRY. DISCRIMINATION.

            That is what you’ve done with the Bible. And that is NOT what God intended. If you were brave enough to look beyond your fear and into your HEART, the place where God really resides, rather than the misinterpreted pages of a book, you’d know that. You’d find that truth. But you aren’t brave, at least not yet. You rely on the coward’s way, spouting what you’ve been taught, and looking for ways to justify your HATE, BIGOTRY and need to DISCRIMINATE.

            Say what you will, Noah, – continue trying to feel superior by bragging about how hard you work at not lusting and lying and thus being a “better” Christian than any LGBT person in a committed, loving relationship – But HATE is what it boils down to. Tragic.

          • DR

            Noah first, your intention doesn’t matter. Your impact does. If you’re going to be in these conversations, do remember that you’re choosing to be here. And your beliefs about homosexuality have done a lot of damage to people here – I mean, physical damage, certainly emotional damage. And you own that – that’s your responsibility, you might be awfully sorry if you hit someone with a car accidentally but you still HIT them. You still hurt them. At that point, nobody cares if it was an accident. So know that, you’re not a victim here, you’re not under spiritual attack. You’re not the teacher. You’re not trusted. You hurt people as you express these beliefs as MUCH as you are probably horrified by that thought. So act accordingly, act like you would with people in your life you’ve wounded because you have chosen to enter into conversation with them. Be wise about that and remember you are representing Jesus. Being “right” about homosexuality may not be the thing you’re hear to talk about. Open your mind and heart. Consider it.

          • Noah

            Unfortunately the human sex trade has existed as long as human beings have. The Bible nor God, nor myself, supports the sex trade, but it is a sinful practice that does exist, and Paul does encourage those that have the opportunity to get out of it to do so, but trust in God in the meantime that He will give them strength and hope to endure those trials. As far as claiming that I support the underground sex trade, I have no idea how you came to that conclusion…

          • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

            All sin being equal, have you ever been in a relationship where you hurt the other person? All sin being equal, have you fought your inability to be perfect in relationships and put it to death before you dared get into another one? And since you realized that that is impossible, that you sin in every.single.relationship; you break their trust or you lie or you do something, because we all do, have you declared yourself single, alone, no friendships, no romantic relationships, for the rest of your life so that you could avoid sin? God hates it just as much. Stop it, or your in danger of hell. All sin being equal and all.

          • DR

            I believe that wives are to submit to their husbands, as Paul states in Ephesians 5:22. This relates to the issue of head covering, as in 1st century Roman society this was a sign of marriage. Paul is not so much concerned with the relationship between men and women as he was with the relationship between husbands and wives. >>>

            Lastly, this is *exactly* my point. You’ve just offered lots of historical context, lots of “interpretation” based on authority that’s outside of the Bible itself. There are a lot of people who are very well-educated who have this same kind of interpretive data that would tell you the verses on same-sex attraction aren’t really about that at all. Are you open to hearing what those are? If so there’s lots of information here on the site. Happy reading!

          • Noah

            I was attempting to use some of the methods that patrons on this board were using in an attempt to add some clarity, since it seems most on here do not completely trust God’s Word. There are also many that would say the verses are about homosexuality, so I guess you can pick and choose what to believe, as many on here have been doing, or put your full trust in God and His Word, as He commands us. I was attempting to offer some insight but ultimately there’s nothing I can do to change the mind’s of anyone on this site, that change comes from God and only God can change the heart and open the eyes of unbelievers. I do hope and pray that He does this for all of you and brings those of you back you have strayed from the fold. Again I am not trying to be mean or angry, but rebuking as Paul and many other Christians throughout history have had to do from time to time with their brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that before I was a Christian, when I myself was a drunkard and an adulterer, I didn’t want anyone telling me that I was wrong either, Christians included. But I was eventually convicted of my sin by the Holy Spirit and I came to know God and His Son Jesus Christ and repent of my sins. I hope that all of you will come to do the same as well. God bless. http://www.desiringgod.org/blog

          • Christy

            You rebuke our relationship with God that you do not understand. To presume we are outside the fold presumes a lot. Presuming you should not be doing. Because our relationship with God doesn’t meet your standard is why Luther fought the Catholic church. So, you my friend, may retreat to your fold. But my friends and I will stand here with Luther under God’s blue sky.

            We pray you find the God who will show you that God loves you already and that rule-following has nothing to do with your favor with God. Know deeply that you are loved already by the One in whom you live and breathe and move and have your being. Know that this unconditional love will turn you and the world upside down for good. Blessings on your journey of discovery.

          • Noah

            The Catholic church was engaging in practices that were not biblical, that is why the break occurred. I know it isn’t possible, but I’d bet my last dollar that Luther did not accept homosexuality and no, the Protestant church didn’t start because they wanted the freedom pull verses out of the Bible that they didn’t like and do whatever they want. Again, I’m not supporting a Pharisee rule following policy, and yes God does love me, but He hates my sin, as I said before. I will pray for you as well.

          • Noah

            *If we could go back and ask him his belief on homosexuality.

          • DR

            The Catholic church was simply practicing what they (we) understood our faith to be. Just like you, how you’ve gotten the interpretation of homosexuality wrong and while you’ve very well-intended, contribute to gay kids killing themselves as a result of believing they are condemned by God. I’m sure you are horrified by that realization, you seem like a very nice person. But that is the truth, Noah. The belief that you have – when you express it? Sends the message to gay kids that if they don’t stop lusting for the same sex, they are condemned by God. Sexual sin actually starts with desire and gay people can’t stop that. So you’re really hurting people. I’m sure that’s going to come as a shock and you’ll probably have a difficult time accepting it – you’ll probably even deny it – but their blood is on your hands and someone needs to be honest with you about that.

          • Christy

            Noah: “The Protestant church didn’t start because they wanted the freedom pull verses out of the Bible.”

            Noah, you are a literalist so I understand why you are focussing on details rather than themes. No, Luther did what he did because the Catholic church elevated dogma over relationship. It added nonessential tenets to orthodoxy and said if you don’t believe this list of things here that we deem necessary to be a Christian in good standing with the Church then you are not a Christian. This usurps the relationship between man and God. It builds a wall between man and God that the Church dictates must be climbed to reach God.

            Your insistence on your interpretation of proper belief is a dogma hoop we are not willing to let you hold up and require us to jump through in order to get to God. God already got to us and we and God have a mutual agreement…..and it is a beautiful thing.

          • DR

            Noah, why in the world would you suggest that people here don’t trust God’s Word? That’s a lot of meaning to insert in peoples’ mouths. What we don’t trust is your *interpretation* of God’s Word which is in reality, just one interpretation. What you happen to believe God’s Word says is just your opinion.

          • Noah

            I’m just going to say what I’ve been saying in the past few posts, as nothing else seems to be working. If you believe I’m wrong, which it is obvious everyone on here does, then prove me wrong, WITH SCRIPTURE! Not some blog, website or facebook page, but God’s Word. Prove me wrong with scripture and I will shut up. Another interesting thing to think about, is that everyday we are one day closer to the end of times, and one day closer to finding out whether or not I’m right. I pray everyone won’t wait that long.

          • Noah

            Stop trying to use my own quotes against me and open the Bible and attempt to use that to prove me wrong, that is the only way were going to get anywhere in this discussion.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Noah, we all have a hell of a lot more respect for the Bible than you do. That’s why we don’t approach it with the simplicity of a dime-store children’s magazine. That’s why we stress its literary and historical context, and don’t just regurgitate verses with zero context, ignore parts of the Bible we don’t like, and in general do violence to the text to support a prejudicial ideology.

            Do you think slaves should have obeyed their masters, no matter how wicked? With fear and trembling? Yes or no?

            Your comment about Romans 2 shows your ignorance on the subject. I wasn’t asking you if you’re judging someone, I said “what do yo make of the vocative?”

            The vocative in Romans 2? No answer?

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            I’ m asking you about a specific WORD in God’s WORD. The vocative in Romans 2. What do you make of it? If you don’t have an answer, your authoritative use of Romans 1 to condemn my friends is theological flatulation. Put up or shut up about citing Scripture. I’m citing it. Give me your answer.

          • denitaP

            hmmm, Noah sure sounds like Thomas..are you a silly putty person?

          • Christy

            Noah: “Stop trying to use my own quotes against me.”

            This is where cognitive dissonance begins to set in with Fundamentalists and it is uncomfortable.

            I’ve been there Noah. I’ve struggled this same path. I got angry when people didn’t see how my arguments were correct and they kept bringing up things I couldn’t explain and I was confused and I accused them of not debating fairly. This is the Holy Spirit, my friend…..listen to his call.

          • Noah

            I feel like I’m crazy pill right now or something. Stop trying to find fault in ME, I am imperfect and it is a waste of time and proves nothing by attacking me. Again, open THE BIBLE!! Support your arguments for homosexuality WITH SCRIPTURE!!! I’m starting to wonder if anyone on this thing even owns one, which would answer alot of questions.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Still waiting … waiting … waiting … Does Noah believe in God’s word 100% or not? Does he thinks slaves should obey cruel masters with fear and trembling or not? Does he have an answer to Romans 2 or not? Still waiting …

            See, I can be a pain in the ass too. Got answer? Huh? Huh? Huh? WITH SCRIPTURE? Got one?

          • Christy

            Be assured, I am not attacking you. I think you call this “speaking truth in love.”

          • Noah

            Don,

            I already answered the slave question awhile back. Everyone and yourself included are still just attacking me and trying to find fault in me vs. going to the Bible and reading for themselves. Lots of arguments on here attacking me, but none supporting homosexuality yet, so in that respect I’m still “waiting…waiting…waiting” as well. This is my last request, please support your argument for homosexuality with scripture instead of just simply trying to find faults in my logic and arguments.

          • Noah

            If your speaking truth in love, then you won’t mind offering up some scripture that supports homosexuality then?

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            I’ll find faults in your arguments all I want. They’re like fish in a barrel, man.

            You didn’t answer the question. If slaves are to stay in the station they are, should modern-day slaves obey their master with fear and trembling, no matter how cruel? Yes or no?

            And you still haven’t answered my question on Romans 2. That’s SCRIPTURE. So answer it, dude.

          • Mindy

            Noah, you do realize, don’t you, that you are practicing idolatry? You’ve put the Bible above God. You’ve put words written by men, decades AFTER events happened, then translated by many other men, into language after language, from one culture to another, through changing history – above the Holy Spirit acting within you.

            Put down the book. Stop acting like it has rulings for or against every single possible action, event, invention, movement, outfit, career, dance step, and baked good in existence! You might as well insist on Biblical approval of antibiotics before filling that prescription for a Z-pak next time you come down with a viral infection.

            Instead of frantically paging through your Bible looking for a quote to justify your every thought, just close your eyes and sit quietly. Pray. Pray about how you would feel if someone told you that the very foundation of who you are, of how God packaged you all up and dropped you on this earth, was evil and an affront to God. Ask God to show you what it would feel like to be expected to give up the hope of ever having a spouse – the partnership, the sharing, the joy of knowing one person knows and loves you most. Ask Him to fill your heart with empathy – to show how SOMEONE ELSE feels, that their life, their identity – is wrong. Let yourself feel it. If you don’t, keep trying. Instead of relying on the book, rely on God to fill you with the Spirit of someone else’s feelings. Trust God to teach you, and let Him show you how badly you got it wrong.

          • Noah

            Again Mindy, what does this have to do with homosexuality? You like everyone else is just attacking me. Try to find fault in God’s Word. Support your arguments with scripture. I am also not idolizing the Bible, I am using it as a RELIABLE source from which to base my arguments, since unfortunately God isn’t speaking directly to me in an audible voice right now nor has he ever, the only way that I can form sound arguments is to quote scripture, that doesn’t mean that I am idolizing it.

          • Mindy

            Noah, rule-following is part of LIFE – not just the Christian life. I may not be Christian, but that doesn’t mean I don’t follow rules. I never committed adultery, haven’t even killed anyone. I’ve broken rules and suffered the consequences and wonderfully, learned from my mistakes. I use good manners and I don’t break laws and I teach my daughters well. Christians do not have an exclusive on rule-following, dear. As superior as you think you are – you’re really not that different from anybody else.

          • DR

            You know what’s probably terrifying for you Noah? To consider that you may actually, have this all wrong. Because people like us rattle your carefully constructed Christian cage where you’ve turned Jesus into someone who cuts the world into very neat corners. But we’re taking Him back from you now, you’re no longer allowed to use the beautiful gift of Scripture to separate the sheep and the goats based on your liking.

            What’s kind of shocking is that you’re posting with people here – with gay men and women – who actually almost committed suicide at one point when young because their “loving Christian families” called then an abomination for hoping they could find someone to love and marry. You’ve not asked a thing about them. About anyone here. You just jumped on the blog and started swinging, I guess that’s the kind of Christian love you want everyone to experience before Jesus comes back again (ugh).

            I don’t want you to shut up, it would be wise for you to stop putting words in peoples’ mouths. You’re the one who’s turning this into kind of a creepy attack because you’re not getting the answers you want to on your own terms.

            How about you grow up a little bit and start really understanding your audience here and be willing to talk about what people want to talk about in the ways *we* want to talk about it. Or don’t and leave and go find people who will have the exact kind of conversation you want to have so you really don’t have to think differently at all. I really don’t care, I have to be honest. I’m too busy cleaning up the absolute MESS you’ve made in the gay community, particularly kids. They are my priority, trying to help them heal from the damage your beliefs have done. You do what you want to do (you will anyway).

          • Noah

            Mindy,

            I made no such claim to “superiority”, so please don’t make false accusations against me. You say you have never killed anyone, but have you ever had anger in your heart against someone else? Jesus claims that they are both one and the same.

          • Noah

            I’m receiving alot of requests to answer questions that have nothing to do with homosexuality and this whole thing has unfortunately gone of track from it’s intended purpose. Again, I still have seen NO scripture evidence to support homosexuality(I knew that no one would find any because there is none, I was hoping that someone out there would open a Bible and read it). Since I have offered ample evidence against homosexuality that is based in scripture and no one has offered so much as one verse to support it(again because none exist), I assume no one has anything else to say except personal attacks against me. This started out as a civil discussion but many people on here have called me everything from ignorant and stupid(because I don’t agree with you and accept that homosexuality is ok), to people just making crass remarks and calling me four letter words. I’m sorry but if we can not maintain some level of professionalism or just basic manners then the whole discussion just becomes unproductive. I wish all of you well and will be praying for all of you. God bless

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            My question absolutely had to do with SCRIPTURE which you quoted to condemn homosexuality. I’ve asked you, at least a half-dozen times, what you make of the vocative at the beginning of Romans 2, which immediately follows the 1:26-27, which you use to condemn my friends.

            And you still have no answer. I’m guessing we all know why. Because you don’t know what the vocative is, much less what to make of it, so you’d rather keep asking everyone else to answer questions with evidence rather than address this extremely pertinent point.

            And you don’t want to answer questions off topic because you know they undermine your authoritative view of scripture, which condones (even harsh) slavery.

            That’s cool. But don’t act like we’re not being honest about the Bible. You aren’t. You won’t apply your authoritative read consistently, which is why what you say is intellectually and spiritually bankrupt. And — here’s the great bonus! — you get to cause people an enormous amount of pain by sticking with your willful ignorance.

            Congratulations, buddy. That makes you just one of many people who “stuck to their guns” when new information came out. Our daughters will read about you in their history books, and they will weep.

          • Noah

            There is a difference in condemnation and rebuking and correcting people for their own good. I didn’t answer it before because it wasn’t direct support for homosexuality, or just support period. Is it condemnation for telling a thief that it is wrong to steal and that he/she shouldn’t do it anymore? And again, I DO NOT SUPPORT SLAVERY, THE BIBLE DOES NOT SUPPORT SLAVERY. I’ve answered that question 3 times now.

          • Mindy

            Professionalism??? This topic requires “professionalism?”

            You’ve got to be kidding, right? This topic requires lots of things, but there is nothing professional about it. It requires, above all, compassion – something which you sorely lack.

            It requires empathy, love, curiosity, faith, trust in God to help us learn and grow, patience (oh, the patience), a decent grasp of both the English language and historical context, and a sense of humor. I’d like to see you practice those last two, please.

            The Bible does not “support homosexuality.” Nope, not a single Scripture in there saying, “Go gay, young man!” or “Lesbians rock!” You’re right. No one has shown you that because we all know damned well, as do you, that it doesn’t exist.

            My question to you is – so what??

            The Bible is also barren of references to iPads, tampons, Mustang convertibles, microwave ovens, popsicles. But we use ‘em. The Bible does not mention the Electric Slide or Macarena even a single time, and I’ve seem hordes of Christians engaging in these acts, sometimes even in the halls of churches after witnessing the sacrament of marriage! I don’t recall many passages condoning raucous laughter, but I have felt the presence of God more than once when engaging in that particular act.

            Quit asking, smugly as you can, for something you know you aren’t going to get. Of course you’re not going to get it. That still doesn’t make you right.

          • Noah

            Mindy,

            There is also a proper and civilized way to conduct debates and conversation.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            You still haven’t answered it. You keep talking about the content of the verse. I’m asking you about the case of the word. You know what the vocative case is, right? Surely. Because anyone who is so incredibly certain about what the Bible says surely knows it in the original language.

            And you actually haven’t answered my question on slavery. Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Peter, and 1 Timothy all tell slaves to obey their masters, once with “fear and trembling,” once whether they are wicked or good. I’m asking: a person who is trafficked TODAY (this happens, read the news), and ends up in servitude: is that person required to obey their masters or not? Yes or no?

          • Bobbi

            I will admit that I find the Bible to be a fine book. I will readily admit that I do not believe it is infallable, there have been to many humans involved in its production, and to many instances that I have found over the years that it seemingly contradicts itself. I do not believe that the proposed authors were always perfect in their theology. But I do know that no where in the Gospels (Or in the noncanonical gospels) does Jesus condemn anyone. I also do not believe that God finished speaking almost 2 thousand years ago. I know that the church that I grew up in did not preach the message that Christ brought to this earth. For these reasons I do not make the Bible my idol but use it as a point of reference when I commune with God. I know that God loves me and does not reject me because God tells me so in one way or another on a daily basis. I do not need religion to justify my existence. God created me the way that I am and while I am not perfect. I am also no less than anyone else. So I say to all sit down and read your Bible, pray, stop flapping your gums so that you can hear God when God speaks. We often are so busy talking that we forget to listen.

          • Mindy

            There are wonderful ways to discuss and debate. Using the mind and heart bequeathed to each of us by God, to be filled with God’s love, is the best way.

            Rather than simply regurgitating out-of-context verses, I suggest you try it sometime. You might just be blown away by the incredible turns your life will take.

            Oh, and that “crazy pill” you were feeling? It does feel crazy at first, when God’s nudging you to open your mind. Trust him. Run with that crazy feeling and see where you land.

          • Noah

            I have answered it many times now. Pual says to obey your master, for it is the Lord you are serving, not man(paraphrased from Matthew). He also mentions that if the opportunity to escape arises that slaves should jump on that opportunity and escape slavery. The bible does speak of submitting to authority( including slave masters) but if they have the chance to obtain their freedom they should take it. So im not quite sure how else to answer that except by using scripture, and yes I’m aware that slaver still does exist today, I have access to cable and newspapers just like everyone else.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Where does is suggest they should pursue freedom if they can. I note that you offer no citation.

            Still nothing on THE VOCATIVE in Romans 2? Seriously? It’s been a long time. And you have all the answers already, so what’s taking so long?

          • Noah

            Mindy,

            The verses I use are not out of context. In 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10, the Apostle Paul states that, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”. I did nothing to stretch or use that verse out of context, it’s quite simple and black and white. Look it up and you will find the exact same words.

          • Noah

            Don,

            The verse is where I said it was to begin with. 1 Corinthians 7:21 ” Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity)”. I didn’t give the quotation because I already did and I have been quoting versus all day but no one seems to care. And Romans 2, there is a difference between hateful condemnation and rebuking or correction out of love. Do you want a dictionary definition of the word?

          • Mindy

            Noah, as I have stated, please try to learn and understand the historical context of the verses you quote. I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, a Biblical scholar. I learned long ago that far too many Christians use select verses for purposes of power and control, and I learned not to trust it. That probably won’t change. I find it fascinating, an interesting historical reference – but for me, that’s it. Sorry to disappoint.

            I do know, however, that the passage you reference could not possibly have included the word “homosexuality” in its original form, as the word did not exist due to the understanding of sexual orientation not existing. That, I think, is the passage referring to male prostitution, if I recall. Young male prostitutes were quite common at the time, used by other men not because they were gay, but because they were available. Since the vast Bible includes, what, four or five verses about “homosexuality” in the entirety of its volumes, I don’t remember which one is which – but I do know that each of them can be explained culturally and historically to mean something OTHER than a condemnation of sexual orientation.

            So your Scripture offers nothing, nada, as “proof” of homosexuality being an offense to God – not then, not now.

          • Christy

            Rule-follower…..

          • Noah

            Mindy,

            If you do not believe in the Bible beyond a historical context, then we are basically comparing apples to oranges and will not be able to agree on much of anything. As far as the term not existing, ever hear of a book called Leviticus? Written many hundreds of years before Paul was born, it gives strict prohibitions against homosexuality as well.

          • Noah

            Rule following is part of the Christian life, we can’t just do whatever we want and put God on the back burner because his rules and commands are hard or inconvenient.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Actually, Mindy’s point still stands, because “homosexual” is a modern term. The question is, when Leviticus speaks of “not lying with another man” as a cultural prohibition (that’s right, a cultural one), does the author have in mind an essentialist, monogamous, same-sex relationship, the likes of which we know today? There’s lots of complexity here. Your refusal to admit it is disrespectful of the Bible, and reduces God to a one-dimensional simpleton.

          • denitaP

            Name calling? You are a hypocite Noah..you started out ok but you turned it out and got to attacking others and still at it. pity

          • DR

            I love that this guy jumps into this conversation – starts demanding that people have a very specific type of conversation with him – gets angry and loses it when we refuse to do that – and then tells us we have bad manners.

            Stunning.

          • DR

            There is a difference in condemnation and rebuking and correcting people for their own good. >>

            Wait – what? Are you actually suggesting you have the credibility to “rebuke” anyone here? Dude your arrogance is astounding.

          • DR

            And Noah runs away when things start getting tough. I’m always disappointed but I’m never surprised.

            Noah, come back after a couple of days when you’re actually willing to have a conversation – not give a sermon. And we’ll try it again. I suspect you won’t, I think this conversation probably really unsettled you. If so, that’s good. Pay attention to why and pray for the courage to face it.

          • Noah

            I’m attacking others by simply stating, WORD FOR WORD, what the Bible says….Well if so then I guess you got me there. What I was referring to was I have not engaged in making rude remarks and name calling simply because someone with a view point or opinion different from my own challenged my beliefs on something. I know everyone on here is just angry at me because I won’t lie and go against my beliefs and tell everyone what they want to hear. Sorry, there’s no evidence to support homosexuality(remember this, the main point where this started?) and I won’t say that there is just so everyone can feel good about ignoring God’s commands and doing whatever they FEEL is RIGHT.

          • Christy

            No. We’re angry on here because so many of us carry deep, intimate scars from Fundamentalism and were God-lead out of it to a new way of seeing and we care deeply for those who are still caught in this perfectionistic literalist legalist authoritarian theology and the damage it does, not only to your soul and your psyche but what it compels those who follow this sect of Christianity to inflict on others.

          • Christy

            And it is just as offensive to us that you feel we have a “do whatever – that’s ok” attitude about our faith and not a scripturally formed basis for our beliefs.

          • Noah

            DR,

            I’m sorry, I guess I assumed that since this was a discussion board dedicated to beliefs on homosexuality and how it fits into Christianity, I found that it was only appropriate to quote scripture, my apologies. I also believe that many would agree with me when I say that it is impolite and rude to call people arrogant and foolish in a civil debate when there beliefs don’t agree with your own. Not to mention the one or two people on here that just referred to me with a number of various curse words, definitely no place in polite conversation or debate, Christian or not.

          • Mindy

            Noah? In this discussion, your feelings don’t matter. Sorry. The damage your beliefs do to your fellow human beings are far more important than whether you think we are being polite or not. That you have been called arrogant, foolish – even an ass, none of that is even in the same universe as YOU telling my friends and some very dear people here that they are “offenses to God.”

            Your passive-aggressive appeal for politeness and contrite “repent” here for participating in a heated discussion fall on deaf ears, friend, when the basis for every response you’ve received is your hateful bigotry against people we love and care about. Get over yourself, Noah. Let God in to your LIFE. You truly haven’t a clue how to really live as Jesus taught – or you’d never have uttered anything here other than a thank you to John for sharing this good news.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            And “men who practice homosexual,” that word in the Greek. What is it? And how do you know it means “men who practice homosexual acts”?

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            My point in asking is that it’s not, in fact, black and white, because as I stated a long time ago now, that word was coined by Paul himself. So we don’t really have other usages to compare it to in antiquity.

            Thus, you are wrong (false) when you say it’s black and white. It’s not. At all.

          • Noah

            Perhaps, but the translation in Leviticus was around hundreds of years before Paul was around, So this obviously isn’t something that he just made up.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Noah, God love you, you are being quite foolish (I went through several harsher renditions but I’m trying to stay kind).

            That verse says nothing about “escape.” Escape was illegal. How were slaves freed? They were manumitted, set free by their masters. This verse is 100% irrelevant, because the master still controls when/if the slave is free. If, instead, you are taking a verse from an ancient context but reinterpreting it for a modern situation — congratulations! That’s liberal exegesis.

            And you keep talking about condemning with respect to Romans 2. Good God man, I’m talking about the “O man” <— that's the vocative. In short, who's he talking to?

            I'm going to bed but I'll look for your answer in the morning. The vocative is there for a purpose. It's not just some random person — someone is being addressed. Who?

          • Noah

            Again with the insults and name calling, I wish everyone would conduct themselves with a little more class and decency. And please don’t use God’s name in vain. Perhaps I described it too loosely, I didn’t mean that if the slaves tried to escape that the masters wouldn’t go out and look for them, I meant that if slaves had any opportunity for freedom(Paul doesn’t go in depth about the various situations in which the opportunity for freedom could arise), that they should take advantage of that situation, what ever it might be. As far as the Romans 2 I was confused as to what you were referring to(I never claimed to be perfect and know everything), but looking at it now, He is simply addressing the reader or the audience. Again, I’m not sure how this relates to or supports homosexuality. I also again ask that you would stop hurling insults at me and calling me names, as I have done no such thing to you or anyone else on here so please extend the same courtesy to me as well.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            God is not God’s name. You’ve read the Bible and you don’t know this? I’ll use whatever language I feel like, thanks. I can assure you, God is much more disappointed in your twisted logic and abuse of Scripture than he is my language.

            And I didn’t call you names. I said you were being foolish.

            Fact: masters were the only ones who could free their masters, so much so that Paul is compelled to send Onesimus back to Philemon. So there’s no chance of escape here.

            Are you sure it’s referring to the audience or the reader? 100% sure? Why would he do that? He addresses “to all who are in Rome” at the beginning of the letter, right? That’s plural. Why would he all the sudden be addressing some random person in the vocative singular?

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            *masters were the only ones who could free their slaves, rather.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            I’m starting to think that as someone who is very sure of the authority of Romans 1:26-27, you actually haven’t read it that closely at all. That’s a shame, really.

          • Noah

            It’s irrelevant which name you used, it was the heart behind it, and his name was taken in vain. God goes by many different names in the Bible. And my logic isn’t twisted, it’s Biblical. If it wern’t however, he would be equally disappointed in both of us because there is no ranking of sin. And there is a more tactful way to express your feelings than using the word “foolish”, not very respectful. Accusing me of approaching the Bible with the simplicity of a “dime-store children’s magazine” was also disrespectful and uncalled for. Again everyone, let’s try to respect one another and have some manners.

          • Noah

            Alright guys this is going nowhere and neither side is going to back down, I guess this is as good a point as any to wrap it up. I pray that God will fill your hearts with His Spirit and free you from the bondage of sin. God Bess.

          • Christy

            Noah, do you see any pride or arrogance in your statement claiming your logic is biblical?

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            No, I’m not going to let you play that card. Not after spending the entire evening trying to convince all of us that our gay and lesbian friends are going to roast in hell.

            “Hey, but let’s be respectful, kay?” Give me a break.

            If you’re “just being Biblical” then I’m “just being factual.” Your approach to scripture is, in fact, simplistic, based on the arguments you’ve made. If that hurts your feelings, well, tough. It hurts everyone else’s feelings that you use Scripture, which you apparently haven’t even read in the original language and can’t answer basic questions about, to condemn people. It’s rationalized bigotry, demonstrably so: despite all facts to the contrary, you hold to a view of the Bible that supports your preconceived viewpoint. Congrats. So did slaveowners in the Old South, so did segregationists, and so too do people today who subscribe to your views on gender and sexuality, despite being roundly discredited by modern science.

            We’ll all pray for you, too Noah. I’ll pray that you don’t end up being one of those grainy photographs that my daughter sees in her social studies textbooks — the kind I saw when I learned about slavery and asked, “But why would anyone be *for* that?” And the reply then, as it will be for her someday, was simply: “Well, things had always been that way. And they saw justification for it in the Bible. Sometimes it’s hard for people to change.”

            Find your way to the right side of history, Noah. And the right side of God.

          • Christy

            There is humility in acknowledging that our ability to interpret scripture and its meaning in historical and cultural context is limited such that we cannot read the Bible authoritatively and be certain that we have interpreted it correctly any more than we can feel a pain in our body and know what the proper diagnosis is. I look to wise guides to help provide a fuller, richer contextual view so that I don’t miss the wealth of deeper meaning that is so clearly present in such a complex work of literature as the Bible.

          • Mindy

            Don, you have the patience of a saint, sir.

            I tried to be optimistic, that Noah was hanging in there because somewhere, deep inside, he NEEDS us to pick his arguments apart.

            Perhaps I should leave my Pollyanna hat on the shelf.

          • DR

            Again with the insults and name calling, I wish everyone would conduct themselves with a little more class and decency.>>>

            Do you notice the passive-aggressive creepiness of comments like these? Noah is acting like a demanding ass while asking others to “have class and decency”.

            God have mercy on the Christian church. Seriously. Reading this kind of thing makes me feel a little crazy, I actually do want Jesus to come back and wipe Noah’s kind of “good news” off the face of the planet and start entirely over.

          • Noah

            I agree that others have spiritual gifts allowing them to pull more out of scripture than others including myself am able to, but who are these individuals exactly you refer to? I already have an idea of the type of person you would pick, and I’m sure you have an idea of who I would pick(John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Jerry Bridges, Paul Washer, etc.). So for the sake of argument neither of us are going to recognize the people that each of us pick and claim can interpret the Bible better than ourselves.

          • Noah

            Not really, because that’s what it says. Isn’t also…..”narrow-minded” to call me arrogant and wrong?

          • Noah

            Well we have digital cameras now, so no risk of ending up in a grainy photograph in a social studies book…

          • Noah

            DR,

            A demanding ass? All I ask is that we refrain from name calling and support our claims, nothing more. My hope is that all will repent and come to know God and His Son Jesus so that ALL of us can be in the new heaven and earth together in the glory and magnificence of God forever. I hope that neither one of us are wiped off the planet.

          • Christy

            Noah, your belief based out of fear is not belief or faith. What choice do you have when presented with a convert or die scenario? This is not God. This is man’s need for control over the lives of others and is the worst form of spiritual abuse. I escpaed this authoritarian form of religion. It is dangerous

            God loves you and has forgiven you already, Noah. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. You have been deceived by people who want to control you. This is not the love of God. I pray you open yourself to deeply realizing how much you are loved and you will find the God who loves you unconditionally beyond all imagination.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            “Because that’s what it says.” That is what Noah came up with while I slumbered. “Because that’s what it says.” What stellar argument! What brilliant discursive reasoning! Yes, “that’s what it says.” In a TRANSLATION. You still haven’t accounted for ἀρσενοκοίτης showing up nowhere before Paul as a term in the entire Greek corpus (a corpus that’s huge). So you have a literalism based on a translation of a word that has no referent, which is why it’s been so hotly debated. There might be compelling reasons via Leviticus (which doesn’t use it either as a single word) to translate it “homosexual,” if you actually have an argument (which you don’t). But 100% certainty? No. But instead of admit that fact — admit the fact that you haven’t studied the Greek language, nor the culture in which this term was used and their attitudes toward sex and gender — you instead offer up child-like platitudes to justify telling an entire group of people they’re — what was the phrase you used? oh yeah — “an offense against God.” There’s a word for clinging to prejudicial attitudes absent any compelling reason and in the face of all evidence to the contrary, even (especially?) when used in conjunction with a noncritical reading of a 2,000-year-old text. It’s called bigotry.

            John Piper = “God struck the Lutheran church in downtown Minneapolis with lightening because they approve ordination of gays.” Mark Driscoll = “Stay-at-home dads are going to hell.”

            Yeah, I think we have an idea of the credibility of Noah. Or lack thereof. And the credibility of his simplistic, petulant, and primitive god, who apparently can’t even himself hold to the Christian precepts of love and forgiveness that Jesus prescribed.

            Mindy, my wife will be amused at your suggestion that I have patience. That has not been my strong suit. But I do enjoy watching literalists like Noah twist themselves into knots to make the Bible not endorse the institution of slavery, including its key aspects (violence, fear, and obedience), all while telling the rest of us to find proof in scripture and hold to it to the Letter. (The Latin letter as used in the English alphabet, of course — we wouldn’t want to read it in the original. No, that’d be “scholarship.”)

            That said, Noah’s just another Thomas, so it’s perhaps time for me and us to stop engaging these people and their nonsense (for real this time!). This debate over the Bible is not new. It’s what led, after the advent of Higher Criticism in the late 19th century, to the current divides between conservative Evangelicals and mainline Protestants, when it came to a head in the early 20th century — a century ago! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalist%E2%80%93Modernist_Controversy) Meanwhile, I’ll post why I think the vocative in Romans 2 is important as a blog in the coming week, not that it’ll do any good with his ilk.

          • Mindy

            Don, I’m glad your wife will be amused – I often find it refreshing to learn how one’s family members are viewed by the outside world!

            I look forward to your blog post – please do link it here, even if Noah won’t read it. I fear the poor dear’s head might explode, as tightly as he has wound his mind around his Bible. So sad, those folks. Truly.

          • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

            Mindy et al.,

            Here’s the blog post, as promised, on the vocative in Romans 2:

            http://www.donmburrows.com/2011/10/romans-126-27-clobber-passage-that.html

            Hope it’s OK, John, to post it here!

          • Mindy

            Thank you, Don. Outstanding. It makes perfect sense, and as you say, even as this present scholarship may not be canonized, it certainly raises enough questions that the absolutism with which too many spout these passages should be doubted, reexamined and perhaps let go entirely.

          • denitaP

            Noah,

            I see your post with some of the comments I made with regards to “clobber” and “bible thumper” verses. When faced with the same response as yours with folks even some of my relatives quoting scripture, I give them this to read (see attached) or refer them to this website. I think some Christians for whatever reason feel the need to cherry pick verses out of whatever bible they are reading to condemn anyone who is in agreement of same sex marriage or anything about the LGBT community. I think the bible is loving in its message but my personal experience has been it has been used against me and my family with condemnation, especially with regards to my daughter. After MANY years of being out of the Church and actually studying other religions, I have come back to reading the bible in the way I think God inspired and intended. I can’t quote scripture off the cuff but I do understand enough to know the bible and God was not meant to be used in a negative way against a person the way it has been used against my daughter. I hope to learn more from this wonderful blog filled with loving people who give’s me a reason to go back and visit Christ.

            http://www.soulforce.org/resources/what-the-bible-says-and-doesnt-say-about-homosexuality/

    • DR

      Thomas here’s the realization that you and others need to have about yourselves. What you say has consequences. Some of those consequences are very, very harmful. It’s shameful to think that there are those of us who are Christian who actually are so harmful that others need to be protected from what we say. We have a responsibility of doing that. While I don’t mind on occasion you and others are here offering what it is that you believe because it serves as a wonderful opportunity to show others that Christians are actually now stepping up and out of our paralysis and countering you? We’ve seen a lot of testimony here from hundreds of gay men and women how damaging you expressing your beliefs are. It’s a responsible move on John’s part to censor you if he senses it’s too much.

      That’s what you and others seem to refuse to believe. You want the freedom to “express yourself” anywhere you want to. And you have that when it comes to public spaces. But you and others are being held accountable to the *damage* that does and I think it’s because you all feel so well-intended that you refuse to acknowledge the impact your expression of your beliefs has. Those of us who actually have to clean up your mess just can’t tolerate your blindness to your own impact anymore so not allowing you to speak at times is the best way of doing that. You either don’t see it or you refuse to acknowledge it when others (who are actually gay) point it out. So there you go.

      • Marcelo

        DR, this is an important point you made that I’d like to draw attention to: we all are in favor of insisting on and expressing our rights (rightly so, ha!) but so many of us run away from the responsibilities that comes with exercising our rights, then get indignant when we get called out on it.

        If I may make a patriotic digression, we should be proud to express our right to free expression as Americans, but we should also be proud of the fact that as Americans we take responsibility for what we say, and its natural consequences.

        Oh, and hello everyone. Been a while since I’ve posted. I have loved reading so many wonderful things here while I lurked. :-)

        • DR

          Christians like Thomas seem to be operating under the illusion that they “get to say anything I want to! If you don’t allow me to then it’s a spiritual attack!” when in fact after dealing with so many from the GLBT community who’ve been so damaged by these beliefs it would be crazy *not* to censor Thomas.

          It’s a crazy, scary thing for a lot of Christians to have our privilege challenged. But even more so, to have the perception that we have of *ourselves* challenged. We truly believe that we’re loving as well as being obedient to a loving, Holy and just God when we “tell the truth in love”. But when we’re told that we’re the opposite? That we’re actually hurting people? Even causing kids to KILL themselves? That’s when a lot of us hit a brick wall, we can’t conceive of doing harm. That’s not part of our identity.

          It’s a long, long road for a lot of Christians to start facing ourselves in the mirror. So many of us use Christianity as a place to hide from ourselves and from others. It’s so disrespectful to Jesus, it diminishes the sacred He offers us. But people like Thomas who keep coming back? I think it’s awfully telling that they keep making that choice.

        • DR

          And hi! Welcome back!

      • Bobbi

        DR I want to thank you and everyone else here for their insights, thoughts and opinions. I am one of the people that you spoke of above. I am what our society labels as transgender (I prefer the term human). I spent the first 40 years of my life praying for God to make me normal and to take this sin away from me. I walked away from the church at 20 because I felt I was being a hypocrite staying there when I could not walk the walk of the theology that my denomination taught. I was damaged goods because of the teachings of the well meaning “christians” there. I spent the next 20 years still asking God to make me normal while I went on a quest to find the answer to the meaning of life the universe and everthing. My search eventually led me to an “open and affirming” church. While Thomas may say that I am self delusional and that my church just enables my delusion I know that all that happened to me was part of God’s plan and that I was led to that place at that time to allow me to start to heal. After 40 years of whining I shut up and listened to what the Holy Spirit had to say. As the minister of that church said that day as communion was being celebrated “Welcome this is the Lord’s table not ours and just as Jesus would not turn anyone away neither shall we.” So to the Thomas’ of this world I say that you can talk about loveing some one like me but hate what you think is my sin, but I think that is where the delusion comes in. If I am around you can feel better about yourself, you can justify your existence because I am a much worse sinner. I pray daily that these kind of people learn to love themselves, so that they can learn to love others (As Jesus says in Matthew). I praise these Methodist ministers who do understand the teachings of Jesus. Thomas I will pray for you and I offer this bit of Biblical wisdom for you Proverbs 3:27-30 (New International Version) 27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

        when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you.

        29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you.

        30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason— when they have done you no harm.

        • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

          “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”~ Julian of Norwich

          The transforming power of compassion in action. This is what Godly love looks like. Thank you, Bobbi…. for sharing your journey and your wisdom with us.

        • DR

          Whoa. This should be required reading. xoxo

  • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

    I wish I’d had more role models like the Rev. Sara Lamar-Sterling when I was growing up. What thinks I might have thought then. What places I might have gone….it would have been nice to have had *any* positive female role models….and an understanding of a God who loves us like this that God sends armies of people out to show us how much we are loved and supported. I wish I’d known this God sooner….

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Thank you, Kristyn Whitaker Hood!

  • Diana A.

    I’m not a big fan of censorship. To me, the truth always rises to the top while falsehood sinks to the bottom. But I’m also not a big fan of trolls, people who come into other people’s webspaces just to make trouble. Admittedly, I can be like that at times, in fact I think John’s actually put me on moderation once or twice. I do have a mischivous spirit.

    I’m also not a big fan of rule-based religion–especially rule-based Christianity. The words of Jesus ring in my head–”the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” So it is with the other rules in the Bible–they are made for us, not us for them.

    And just as Jesus was “flexible” when it came to following the rules for the Sabbath, so I believe Christians are to be flexible when it comes to the rules–even to the point of being willing to let the rules go when they are causing harm to a neighbor. And for a Christian, all people are neighbors and how we treat one another is how we are treating God.

    Finally, I’m definitely not a big fan of people who think they have the right to notice everybody else’s “sins” while paying little or no attention to their own. That’s what the Pharisees did and Jesus was not happy with them.

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

      There is no way I ever put you on moderation, Diana A.

      • Diana A.

        Okay, then maybe it was a computer glitch. There’ve been times when after I’ve made a remark that was a little snarkier than normal for me that I’ve seen the “this comment is awaiting moderation” line on my screen. Then again, maybe it’s just that you were moderating all the comments because an issue had gotten particularly heated.

        • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

          This happens to me too. I thought it was because I might have used one of the moderated “buzzwords.” I’m getting savvy to the list of them now I think.

          • Donald Rappe

            Oh, is that what it is?

    • Christy

      I like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Burleson/1800363211 Mary Burleson via Facebook

    awesome

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sharon-Aldridge-Kaufman/1328865837 Sharon Aldridge Kaufman via Facebook

    You have a gift, John. Imagine the number of people whose lives you’ve touched. Awesome, indeed.

  • Alex McFerron via Facebook

    I hope they don’t get in trouble.

  • Alex McFerron via Facebook

    Does anyone know when the vote is coming up for methodists to vote on the book of discipline for Gay inclusion?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cindy-Wood/1130734009 Cindy Wood via Facebook

    @Alex. Spring 2012, at General Conference, the national meeting.

  • Stephen Alan Whitehead via Facebook

    As a British Methodist and gay man I can’t help but admire both the stance they’ve taken over there, and the double entendre in the headline.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randyrobertspotts randy roberts potts via Facebook

    Because you weren’t talking to me!!! :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Randy, in my head, I’m always talking to you.

  • Linda Bale via Facebook

    yea for the Methodist, and I love the dream squence John :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jill-Joiner/100000809409370 Jill Joiner via Facebook

    April 2012 and we are praying hard and writing letters and e-mails that this issue be resolved so that gay ministers serve openly and that gay couples can finally be joined in holy union within the church. John Thank you so very very much for bringing this up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randyrobertspotts randy roberts potts via Facebook

    John, it’s OK if you have a mancrush on me. Even Methodists agree that’s not a sin.

  • Nancy Johnson via Facebook

    John, no double negatives uh-LLOWED. (Never mind the liberties I just took with the spelling.) :^)

    I see that you are steadily making your way up through the pile of debris and pushing through to the surface and up into the cold, fresh air where you can yell a little louder and more ears may hear! Congratulations on your recognition!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Oh, Randy. Why must you be so … randy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Bring “The Gay Agenda” to San Diego!

  • http://www.facebook.com/randyrobertspotts randy roberts potts via Facebook

    Sorry John, my Mama made me this way!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Ah, genetics. They’re so … disturbingly random.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    I know, right? Random genetics. I keep trying to overcome them in my daughters with nurture, turning them into mini-mes who procrastinate and are clumsy and distracted and all that, and their damned genes keep them from doing so. They remain cool and beautiful and wise and graceful. Really, really not fair at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    I know my dad feels the same way about me.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    Yes, but John, your dad has to face the fact that HE passed on those genes, for better or worse. :) I saved the world from any more of my genes – you’re all welcome.

  • Anne Young via Facebook

    awesome article/ awesome title. cracked me up!

  • http://www.BrianWendt.com Brian W

    Hay everyone, was I like Thomas at one time? Did I come across as rude as him?

    Thomas some of your posts show self-control and thoughtful into them, others are arrogant and rude.

    I was very much like you and probably still am in some area’s – I still have a journey ahead – but I think you should do more reading and prayer on this issue. Also I would really like for you to contact John to get my contact information, I would really like to talk with you on a more personal level, not on here that is so public, can you do that please?

    • Melody

      Brian, we may have been tough on you at times, but I can promise you that I don’t recall a single comment of yours that I perceived as arrogant and presumptuous as those of Thomas. The thing is, even though you’ve made controversial statements in the past, you weren’t trying to be offensive, and you made it clear that you truly wanted to learn, not just stir up trouble. You also have a conspicuously loving spirit, and this, I believe, is why you were able to change your opinions regarding this topic. Love trumps the law, and I applaud your willingness to learn and open your mind. Peace, brother.

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

        Love it.

      • DR

        Agreed. You were always, always focused on Jesus. I can’t remember a comment where you didn’t encourage to focus on Him, on the Cross and on his Love being for everyone.

    • http://www.donmburrows.com Don M. Burrows

      Not to mention, from what I can gather, a great many of us are converts ourselves from the “old time religion.” And unfortunately, some of us (or maybe just me) were once even as bad as Thomas.

      Thanks for being so sincere, Brian.

    • Mindy

      No, Brian, you weren’t. You were a bit like Noah at times, though. Sincerely believing, but dug in, seeming not to listen. But you were listening, and that was just apparent enough to most of us that we kept engaging with you.

      I hope the same for Noah, but at this point feel completely exasperated with him. He does exactly what he accuses others of doing – the “picking and choosing” thing – but I honestly don’t think he can see it. He can’t see the difference between READING Scripture and UNDERSTANDING Scripture, between PREACHING the “Word of God” and LIVING the “Word of God.”

      As Christy has so eloquently pointed out several times, it is all or nothing for him. I think he believes that if he succumbs to the research and rigorous academic theological work of so many who have cast doubt upon these few verses he holds so dear, let alone succumbs to actually getting to know and understand some actual openly gay people, he will be headed down some slippery slope of doom, at the bottom of which is total chaos. It’s not true, of course, but for him, I think that fear is far too great for him to budge on questionin any part of what he has been taught is absolute.

      • Christy

        Beliefs ingrained by fear leave only fear when beliefs are questioned. Unlike paradigms based on love. Because, really, if they are honest – they believe grace is conferred in exchange for proper belief. And if you don’t believe the “right things”(like the Bible being inerrant and homosexuality being a sin) then…..

        It’s far too scary for him to do this hard work now. There is a poisoned apple theology – that if one apple is spoiled, it ruins the entire basket. They use this from the pulpit to shame and shun “backsliders.” There is an ingrained fear and shame taught about doubt. It is of the Devil. So questioning is not seen as a means to grow ones faith and gain knowledge and understanding, on the contrary, it is the way to destroy it. It is the perfect storm of mind control. Fundamentalism has been fighting knowledge since the snake tricked Eve in the Garden.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwayne.g.mason Dwayne G Mason via Facebook

    I get the sarcasm, but I don’t like the new headline.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Dwayne: I’m guessing you didn’t read the piece, then.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwayne.g.mason Dwayne G Mason via Facebook

    I read, and was one of the first to “Like” it on your blog, before the headline was changed. Of course I read it. I read everything you post. If you still don’t recognize my name, John, I’m a huge fan and admirer. Take it easy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwayne.g.mason Dwayne G Mason via Facebook

    This is in your comments section of the blog, from yesterday:

    Dwayne G. Mason October 17, 2011 at 11:01 am
    Thank God for brave Methodists, for John Shore, and for straight allies everywhere!

  • Jack

    \“Are you bummed” I began with Rev. Lamar-Sterling, “about having to go to hell forever?”

    She laughed. “Gosh, I hope that doesn’t happen. But I’m not worried about it. Hell is a creative idea dreamed up by Dante and friends.”\

    Apparently the Rev. Mrs. Lamar-Stirling knows Italian literature better than the Bible. Hell IS mentioned a few times in the latter, after all. (I’m not saying she’s going there, just pointing out her error.)

    \She definitely seemed nice.\

    As I’ve said elsewhere on many occasions, being a Christian is NOT about being “nice” and passing out warm fuzzies. C. S. Lewis had a whole chapter about this in MERE CHRISTIANITY in the chapter “Nice people or new men?”

    • Mindy

      Jack? Take a nap.

      Your brand of Christianity is definitely not about being nice. That doesn’t mean your brand of Christianity is right.

      • relevantpreach

        Sorry, that comment above from me was supposed to be under here, and was supposed to be a conversation starter. Thanks.

  • relevantpreach

    Mindy, Maybe since I have not read any other posts by Jack, you might be able to catch me up quickly on what “brand of Christianity” Jack promotes?

    Also, what brand do you promote?

    And then I have a simple question, (and definitely trying not to come across in anyway as being mean, because Christy called me on that before) What does the brand of Christianity you promote believe about Jesus? I hope that was not seen as a argumentative question in any way. Unlike before, i thought it better to actually listen to where people are coming from before trying to jump into their lives. Hopefully that is acceptable. Thanks in advance for sharing.

    • Christy

      I’ll let Mindy answer for herself.

      For me, it is often the question that tends to illuminate more than the answer. You said: “What does the brand of Christianity you promote believe about Jesus?”

      Herein lies the problem, for me. – Believe about Jesus. – Marcus Borg has written on this in his work “The Heart of Christianity;” and I have heard our UCC minister preach on this, and read similar points elsewhere: that out of a growing antagonistic relationship with and perceived threat from Science, Religion found it necessary to shift an inherently subjective religious experience (our relationship with God) toward a more objective (and measurable) one as evidenced by the phenomena of Post-Enlightenment Literalism which is a very understandably human reaction to our psyche’s need to deal with the discomfort of mystery and doubt and ambiguity inherent with all things ineffable and tried to make them measurable and observable and provable. Ergo: Certainty. And this is where, for me (and my historically illiterate self) I see Faith took a left turn at Albuquerque.

      Doing some further digging I found that the original Greek word for believe has multiple possible translations, and confirming with a Greek scholar, has a more careful translated meaning: to follow. And that in the first century, Christians were known as Followers of The Way of Jesus (with disputes as to whether this is a reference to the Taoist understanding of The Way and how much influence Buddhist teaching and the Upanishads had made their way to the Middle East by then and where Jesus spent his time in the unaccounted for years prior to his ministry). So, in Post-Enlightenment Literalism, the Church – over a period of time – shifted Following the Way of Jesus to Belief about Jesus. A considerable difference if you ask me.

      In this Post-Enlightenment realm, we lost the truth of myth; truth became only that which could be provable; and faith in the unseen and unprovable became belief in certain things having actually physically happened and being historically true, and efforts were undertaken to prove the “facts” of the Bible…..All of which influenced Biblical interpretation and encouraged more literal readings and Biblical inerrancy. The truth in myth and metaphor took a back burner and in some denominations were wiped out completely.

      Thus the predominant versions of modern American Christianity have evolved into a faith based on the proper beliefs about Jesus (of which denominations fight regarding what should be included on that list) rather than a way of being in relationship with Jesus (God).

      I take so passionately issue with the phrase – Belief about Jesus – because of my Fundamentalist rearing….. that has turned something beautiful – a deep possible experience of union with the Divine, here and now in this life, as lived out in a transformed way of being – into a whipping post to which they chain themselves and others where the self-righteous get to lord it over the lesser ones of how anything they do from the moment they cry their first cry to their dying breath is filthy and undeserving of grace, worthless not good-enoughness that only sufficient “proper genuine, fervent belief” (read unyielding convictions) can assuage and grant entrance into the pearly gates.

      My Sunday School upbringing taught about head knowledge vs. heart knowledge. (Believing God exists vs. giving your heart and life to Christ as Lord and Savior of your life). This theology thinks a come to Jesus tearfully repentant recitation of the sinner’s prayer with genuine intention on the pray-ers part to commit to a life of becoming a keeper of God’s rules is evidence of “turning” from the old way to the new. But it is slavery to the same ego they had before for they have still bypassed and never internalized God’s love and true Grace. It’s still head knowledge: If I believe this and really mean it – I’m good to go. Repentance – true change – has not taken place on the heart level. It is still a works based faith anytime Grace is transactionally exchanged for proper belief and that is why I have trouble with the phrase “believe about Jesus.”

      • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

        All of which is to say: We miss the heart of Jesus’ message when we focus on the letter of the law and miss the Spirit. I agree with the Greatest Commandment as does Rabbi Hillel of the first century. The Golden Rule is the heart of the matter. The rest is commentary. Go and study.

        You can have faith that your beliefs about Jesus are true, but without works, those beliefs are dead, and without a transformed heart of love compelling those works – without the overflowing understanding of being so filled with God’s love and grace for us that we can’t help but show love and grace for others – those works are as a tinkling cymbal and a sounding brass. Inner transformation has nothing to do with proper belief. My mystical leanings and John’s closet conversion and Rumi and countless others point to a personal knowing (gnowing) of the Divine manifested in one’s life.

        Writer Steve McSwain articulates this well here: http://redroom.com/member/dr-steve-mcswain/blog/the-reality-of-god-manifesting-in-your-daily-life-ram-dass-and-eckhart-tolle#.TqXVmWxEd2g.twitter

    • Mindy

      RelevantPeach, I don’t promote any brand of Christianity. I was raised in a non-denominational Christian Church, then the UCC, but no longer consider myself Christian. I have a strong belief in God, and I believe that Jesus was the first and best teacher of spiritual character. My comment to Jack was in direct response to the tired and spiteful attitude of “Christianity is not about being nice or life being easy, it is about sacrifice and the hard work of following God’s rules.” As if us non-Christians have it easy because of our lack of moral character, or we eschew Christianity because we’re not willing to “do the work.”

      People like that, who view the Bible as the infallible final word on every possible choice seem to me, frankly, to be the lazy ones. They don’t have to waste all that precious time thinking. They are told what to do, what to believe, and they follow without ever questioning. They don’t consider how they rhetoric affects others – all that matters to them is eternity, so they selfishly hold out for a ticket to heaven at the expense of a whole lot of innocent and wonderful people who do not deserve the bigotry they spew, wrapped up all pretty in the Bible so it can’t possibly be bad.

  • Mike Groshong

    I am a direct descendent of Ellen Hickox Stewart, a early woman Methodist preacher from New York and Ohio. She was on the cutting edge of the Methodist movment of her time – women’s rights, slavery, and no alcohol. She faced strong opposition by the male leadership of the church but “thumbed her nose” at them and continued forward in her quest.

    I am pleased that the fire has not gone out of the Methodist pastors and they are willing to challenge church authority for what they see as the call of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus.

  • paula

    i haven’t been in a church (except for my dad’s wife’s funeral) in a decade or more. but i would go to this lady’s church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheppard.robin Robyn Equality Sheppard via Facebook

    Wow! Christians who exemplify Christ’s teachings! What a concept!

  • Donna Crumley Woker via Facebook

    Most of the time I’m proud to be United Methodist. Sometimes, I’m disappointed in my denomination, but at least we keep trying to get it right, and we try to keep Christ’s teaching at the center of what we do. The pastor you interviewed exemplifies the finest we have to offer and this is one of those times I’m proud to be United Methodist. As a graduate of the Methodist Theological School in Ohio I’m honored to know many clergy who are very much like the woman you interviewed. Pray for the general conference later this month.

    • Diana A.

      This is how I feel and ditto on the request for prayers …we need them.

  • Judith Ann Whiting via Facebook

    Hope this happens in my UMC. Not holding my breath.

  • http://www.facebook.com/olwyngdh Amy Butler via Facebook

    I am glad to see this. I grew up in the United Methodist church and one of the reasons I left was because our pastor turned on his gay son. He died of AIDS later and never was reconciled with his father.

  • Susan Fuller via Facebook

    there is hope for my old church.I am UU now but was U Methodist most of my life.

  • Beth Hervey Alexander via Facebook

    Thanks John. Enjoyed both your interviews today. That’s some hard hitting journalism there. Very provocative and insightful questions…. Thanks for showing this side of the UM church. Generally I’m proud to be one, even if we are so methodical that it sometimes makes me want to scream during one if the many many many committee meetings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linda-Goetz/713342041 Linda Goetz via Facebook

    Makes me proud to be a Methodist. This has been a BIG fight in our church, and A LOT of people were upset with the decision a few years ago. Hopefully this WILL change at the convention. God bless her and her “team of 900″.

  • Linnea

    As a United Methodist, I am so glad to see this happening! A similar thing has happened here in Minnesota, where my pastor was one of about 70 who stood up at the Annual Conference and proclaimed that they were willing to perform same-sex unions. The bishop hasn’t taken any action against them yet, but presumably would if they actually followed through. This may be the start of a real fight in the church, and I just hope and pray that inclusiveness prevails.

    • usingmyvoicewell

      Linnea, we’re working on it here in the South too. It’s been in the forefront for some time. Like you, I hope and pray and believe that inclusiveness will prevail. It’s only a matter of time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Kusiak/100000372042947 Brian Kusiak via Facebook

    [long, rabid, anti-gay fundy tirade deleted.]

    • DR

      Your position causes gay kids to kill themselves which you don’t care about enough. Their blood is on the hands of those of you who continue to interpret the Bible in this literal way, perverting it. You are the one who is in danger spiritually, not gay men and women and certainly not the Christians who are protecting them from you.

    • Melody

      Spoken like a true, nonthinking, unloving fundamentalist. Tell us something we HAVEN’T heard a million times from haters like you.

      • Diana A.

        Ya’ know?

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

        good job, M.

        • Natalie

          Did you delete that crazyness? If so thank you.

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

            Yeah, I did. Sometimes one slips by.

          • storm

            I almost wish you hadn’t deleted it. For one censorship is a troll’sbest friend (they have to cling to something). But as disturbing as his comments may be, they reflect a reality that is out there and that many of us have to deal with in person. Sometimes it’s painful to see and read, but being able to see and read it helps us hone our skills in rebutting people like Brian in real life. And as I see in the comments that have followed there have been some excellent responses. In fact, it is quite uplifting seeing the brilliance and passion of the responses. I understand and appreciate why you deleted it. But I suggest we can handle it Thanks for this post and all the wonderful work you do.

          • Natalie

            I always thought re-actions were a trolls….i guess censorship is a reaction isn’t it? :S

    • Mindy

      Funny. You post this as if you believe that somehow no one here has seen or heard this before. As if it is BIG. IMPORTANT. NEWS!!!

      No. It is just the old, tired, outdated, misunderstood, political interpreting of parables that is slowly but surely being exposed for just that, so that Christians can get back to their real faith, living as Jesus taught.

      The fact that you compare the “Truth” from God – as in, YOUR incorrect interpretation – to gravity, an easily provable and scientifically demonstrable phenomenon of the universe, shows, without any doubt, that you are utterly incapable of critical thought and therefore failing to use the gift of intellect given to you by your God. Sad for you. More sad for those you hurt with your nonsense.

      Your beliefs are slowly going the way of the beliefs that slavery was justifiable and women shouldn’t wear shoes. I hope, for your sake and the sake of those you damage with your words, that you manage to catch up to reality some day soon.

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      I love seeing the Jude one brought out. The term used is “strange flesh” (Brian here must be using a more interpretive translation). The reference is to men having sex with angels (the strange being angelic flesh) – the Bible has some weird stuff in it. Anyways, the irony is that the Greek here for strange means different, like hetero, the opposite being same, homo. Without the angel bit, the message would be that straight sex is wrong because the two fleshly bodies involved *aren’t similar enough*. The whole point is that, in sex, those engaging in it should be sufficiently similar (i.e. not too different). This criteria, if taken to an extreme, would actually put beasitality on the opposite side of the spectrum as gay sex (with straight sex in the middle…). So, it always cracks me up to see people use Jude. It’s arguing for the exact oppose criteria of the people who use it.

      • Melody

        I know, right?? Homophobes and others who think gay is a sin always quote that passage. They’re the ones with the itchy ears–picking and choosing which of Jesus’ commandments to follow, such as helping the poor and oppressed.

    • Mindy

      Brian, I will add one more thought, and I say this with compassion. Those who protest the most and the loudest are quite often those hating outwardly what they most hate about themselves.

      My sincere wish for you would be that you stop saying ANYTHING about homosexuality and LGBTQ people in public or on the Internet and instead do some serious internal review and soul-searching. Because being this deathly afraid of something usually means that you fear it existing within yourself. And if it does? Then there is NOTHING wrong with you, except that you are living a lie. Be true yourself, and God will not love and cherish you one teeny bit less.

      • Melody

        And it might not even be the fear of being gay that’s the issue here (though I certainly don’t rule out the possibility). Any kind of unconscious self-loathing can bring about such a hateful attitude. People like this point out what they perceive as faults %I say “perceive” because I don’t see being gay as a fault) and point fingers in order to distract from their own. Obviously doesn’t work. Either way, closet case or not, it’s an ugly cycle.

      • DR

        Yes.

    • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

      I was planning to write a thoughtful, reasoned response to you, Brian, but then I realized how pointless that is. Whatever passes for the “truth” in that warped “believer” head of yours is so poisoned by your prejudice and hypocrisy that reason won’t penetrate there anyway.

      The best I can suggest is that you find a gay or lesbian person (we’re everywhere) and ask them what it’s like for them to live in a society where church-going “Christians” shower them with a special scorn and hatred while turning a blind eye to all manner of other “sins”, such as adultery, alcoholism, gluttony, child and wife abuse, etc, etc.

      “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, is what Christ said. and yet, you first-stoners are everywhere.

      • Rachel G.

        Al, I love you.

      • Natalie

        I was planning to write a catty response.

    • Natalie

      Write your novel elsewhere sir, because no one here wants to read it.

  • Tracy Brizendine via Facebook

    lol….”Agenda”…..like, oh, I don’t know…”Love?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/gordon.herzog Gordon Herzog via Facebook

    If by “agenda” they mean our demands for equal constitutional rights, then hell yeah. That is our agenda. I don’t like the phrases “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage”. Marriage is marriage. It’s unconstitutional to give rights and benefits to one group of people and carve out another group and say, “no rights for you!” We shall overcome and prevail.


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