The Waning of the Tony “Psycho Was No Scarier Than I” Perkins Brand of Christianity

The piece I did on George Michael and his one-person Christian hate group went mondo-large. And in the swarm of responses to it came the criticism that it was wrong of me to say that for every one hateful, gay-bashing Christian there are two hundred loving, gay-affirming Christians.

Fair complaint! That would have been an off thing to say. Which is why I didn’t say it.

Boy be slow—but not that slow.

What I said was:

For every one person like Keith I’ve ever known—for every person who’s ever fanatically endeavored to transmogrify the beautiful love of God into the horrible hatred of men—I’ve known two hundred who are quietly and humbly working, in Christ’s name, to make the world a better, more loving place for all.

The part of that sentence that I just bolded marks the critical distinction between what I actually said, and what those who about this have been fairly railing at me mistakenly assume that I said.

I referenced only my personal experience. Maybe it’s a matter of geography: I’ve lived all my life in California, home to the assiduously groovy. For years I attended huge St. Paul’s Cathedral, where I would guess half the congregants are gay—and the other half aren’t exactly thumping them with Bibles. Maybe it’s just the places I hang out online: I’m associated, for instance, with The Christian Left (whose membership, for months now, has grown at the rate of about 1,000 members per week). I’m friends with Roger McClellan over at The Progressive Christian Alliance. I’m close to Gwen Ashby of Believe Out Loud. I count among my friends Evan Hurst from Truth Wins Out, and Ross Murray of GLAAD. I’m so fond of Kathy Baldock of Canyonwalker Connections that I asked her to write the forward of my latest book. If I liked Dan Savage any more I’d actually be gay.

So … yeah. Those are the sorts of people I know, and with whom I have always associated. I never attended Yahweh Hates Gay United. I never went to a Rainbow No! Bible study. No one I know tries to pray anyone’s gay away. I’ve known people who tried to pray their own gray away, but that’s about it.

All that said, I’m hardly unaware of the volume or character of vitriol leveled at gay people by those with the nerve to call themselves Christian. And anyone who follows this blog at all knows that I don’t stop chewing on Christians like that until someone’s leg falls off. (See—as random examples—This animal. This Cretin. This Travesty. This demon; Bully for You, Jerry Buell; Republican Politician Caught with His Gay Pants Down: Whose Shame Is It?; Christians and the Blood of Jamey Rodemeyer, and … I dunno: Christians and Gay Teen Suicides: How Could Anyone Be So Stupid?)

I know there’s a world of Christians out there like Maggie “Can Anyone Hear Me Screaming From Inside This Closet?” Gallagher, Michael “Does This Mustache Make My Crotch Look Big?” Brown, and Tony “Psycho Was No Scarier Than I” Perkins.

But I think there are a lot less people following these hate-mongering, money-grubbing, spotlight-craving, Christ-shaming opportunists than the media needs us to believe there are. And I think the number of people who do follow such cowardly, craven cretins is shrinking by the day. Always present now in the tone of the communications from organizations like Family Research Council is shrill panic. They feel their audience and influence waning. They’re drowning, and they know it.

I think the vast majority of Christians today are searching for a way to reconcile their compassion with their faith. The concluding essay of Wings on a Pig: Why the “Christian” View of Gays Doesn’t Work, is titled, “Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality.” I wrote it for people who mistakenly believe that they must choose between their hearts and their Bible. In it I prove that using the Bible to justify the condemnation of homosexuality is unarguably unbiblical. And every day now, already, I get emails from people telling me how that essay changed their whole attitude toward what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.

The good news is that (as awesome as my essay is) those people must have been ready to change. They were already there. They just needed the watertight intellectual basis for finally stepping through the door that had otherwise already opened for them.

The bottom line is that we’re winning this war, as surely as one day follows the next.

That doesn’t mean we should stop fighting—and it certainly doesn’t mean that a lot more Christians don’t have to become a lot more vocal in their opposition to the version of Christianity sprayed by the likes of Gallagher, Brown, and Perkins.

But the Christian left is right. And in that is all. Because the ultimate victory of right over wrong—of good over evil—is inevitable. You can count on that.

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  • Mary

    Lovely, as always John. “If I liked Dan Savage any more I’d actually be gay.” You made me laugh. But why are you awake at 4 in the morning?

  • Looooong story.

    Wait. No it’s not. I went to bed at eight. The QUESTION is why did I then wake up at 12:30 a.m.?

    Four hours. Most night, I sleep four hours. Then, after about ten days, I’ll sleep for eight.

    So. Can’t say I don’t know how to BORE you to death with more information than you could possibly want.

    Thank you so much for your kind words.

  • Reed Boyer

    Oh, gosh . . . you may have bumped Brian Elroy McKinley’s “Why Focus on the Family Is Of The Devil” off the # 1 spot on my list of favorite queer-affirming essays.

  • Whoo-hoo! I’m number one!! Maybe!!

  • John C Hoddy via Facebook

    Honestly, I think there are more and more former fundamentalists (like myself) who are embracing lgbt issues every day.

  • Most of us original (7?) subscribers/fans get you the first time but I still like it when you explain your stuff because it makes me chuckle.

    I’ve been reading/commenting on Tony Campolo’s RLC site this week. The angry, scared homophobes are at about 3 or 4. They’re likin’ each other’s comments. Funny, sad, and comforting.

  • Paula

    You never fail to delight.

    I read your essay online at the Advocate, and was disappointed,– they edited it down, did they not? So it seemed your major point was somewhat diminished. And then the pile on of comments about all those hateful Christians in the world, (yes, they exist!) but your point was that it was a one-man band making all that noise about John Michael. And you were a Christian, calling him out.

    I’ve noticed that when I mention to someone that Westboro Baptist is one large extended family and a couple of whacko hangers-on — well, nobody wants to hear it and I just sound defensive.

    So I’ve decided that we should do what you do — keep on keepin’ on, but for this next while, we’re just going to have to suck up the anger of (a portion) of the world towards Christians. Collectively, we had it coming. I don’t like it, but I’m kinda resigned.

    Whenever I read an article, pretty much any article about religion in the NYTimes, for example, the comments almost always contain some version of “religious people are idiots, and the sooner we get their hatemongering ways behind us, the better.” What are you gonna do but sigh, and carry on.

  • Harriette Brown

    You made me laugh more than once in both this response and in the original. I’m in full agreement with you about geography being a factor in how many lefts and rights we know.

    I’m in Savannah, Georgia. While there are quite a few gay people here and many of them Christians, there are a whole lot of very vocal far-right Christians. I like avoiding them or avoiding the conversation. Then you have a lot of well-meaning Christians who hate gayness. They try their best to love people who are gay.These aren’t hateful people deep down, they’re just having the hate preached to them.

    I had to go through a process of opening my mind/educating myself/opening my mind some more/studying some more. I’ve always KNOWN the truth in my heart. I had a desire to find congruence with my faith. I’m surrounded by people who seem unable to trust their own hearts and trust that their heart beliefs are what come from God, not what they’re hearing in those churches that serve them up not only with how to follow Jesus but how to vote.

    Keep fighting the good fight with love and laughter. You’re being heard.

  • Mary

    I still loved the post where you described what you bought at the grocery store. So I’m easily amused. Anything that is not me, or about me and my life, is interesting to me. I’ve fed my Mom. She got some Paula Deen coffee cake. and some Newman’s Own coffee. So she’s happy. Fed Liesl Von Trapp the cat. So she’s happy too. The server is down at work, so I can’t do data entry to prepare for federal compliance testing next week. So I think maybe I’ll go back to sleep.

  • vj

    🙂 John, you really crack me up sometimes….

  • vj

    You know, what I REALLY like (ok, love) about John’s writing is that he MAKES ME THINK FOR MYSELF. Not that the church I’m in has EVER told me what to think (my default position is generally to go against the flow, so wouldn’t have stuck around for the last 20 years if they did!), and homosexuality is almost never mentioned. I have really enjoyed getting stuck into some private Bible study trying to understand what’s going on with the ‘traditional’ Church understanding of homosexuality. I think I used to think it was a form of lust/addiction, but in all honestly, with the number of LGBT Christians who have written on this blog about their personal experiences, that idea just doesn’t hold water anymore. Most of the adults I knew as a child were LGBT, but it’s been eye-opening to get some insight here into how young people are when they realize they are ‘different’.

    When somebody prays for healing from cancer, for example, but is not ultimately healed, [most] Christians accept that as part of God’s will, and nobody calls it sin. Similarly, so many have testified about asking God for ‘healing’ from being homosexual, and yet have found that God doesn’t do this. So, how then can anyone insist that being homosexual is sin – surely, if God saw it as sin, then someone trying to ‘repent’ and be ‘healed’ would get what they ask for (especially a child who has not yet even acted on his/her feelings – which is where the addiction model fails as an explanation)? Or is God not God? I am not aware of any *credible* testimony regarding such ‘healing’ from homosexuality, and so must conclude that it’s not an issue to God…. [I’m not saying that homosexuality is a disease, only that that was how I understood it before finding John’s blog].

    I have always wanted to find a way to ‘reconcile my compassion with my faith’, and John’s writing is helping me a lot along the journey 🙂

  • Driftwood2K11

    Hello John,

    I started reading your blog a few months ago at the recommendation of a friend. Now, I’ll say up front that I’m an atheist. I have been for two years. Before that, I was a Christian Mystic. Before that (by a good 4 or 5 year margin), I was a Non-Denominational, Evangelical Christian Minister (gave my life to Christ at 14, became ordained at 20, left the faith by age 29).

    I read your blog because while I no longer am a part of the faith, I still identify with the hard, uphill battle of biblical doctrine, and the necessity of clearing up the smoke and fog of Dominionism, of which modern Christianity has become. It’s less about saving souls and more about consolidating power and influence. Prayer groups have become voting blocs, churches are political platforms, with the pulpit as the jumping off point.

    It’s all rather distressing, really. I have nothing against faith. Faith can be a beautiful thing, and in it’s own way, faith can move mountains. What distresses me is this facet of Christianity that has decided I should be made to worship the same god they do. They re-write history through the pen of fundamental revisionism, changing inconvenient facts with more agreeable supposition. It happens in our science classes, too, where facts are eschewed for fable because the fact is too unsettling to try and reason it out.

    Anti-intellectualism, hatred, cynicism, bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, greed, wicked ambition, none of these things should be associated with Christianity, but how many people can think of at least one Televangelist, or a pious politician or church leader that fits every adjective I just mentioned? Yet this persists as “mainstream” Christianity! The most damning thing of all? The hue and cry of persecution, that because they can’t have everything they want, THEY are being oppressed? It’s almost too much to accept. It’s as if there’s some big practical joke and the entire church is in on it.

    By the time I left the faith, I was a very liberal Christian. I had long since dropped the hell myth, the Garden of Eden myth, the Noah’s Ark myth, and so on. The biggest one I tackled was the “gays are going to hell” myth, and that one took years to break through, because I was so institutionalized into believing it HAD to be true. It was right there in black and white! I would tell people I “studied” the texts and found it had to be true. Of course, what most people like me meant when we said studied, was that we looked at the Bible and went “Yep, looks right to me!”, and that’s what you’ll find when most televangelists/preachers/fundamentalists tell you they studied the “Word of God”.

    Most Christians I’ve met over the years didn’t even know the history of the Bible! I would discuss the Biblical timeline, and get many questions of surprise and concern. I was once called “foolish” for “believing” the Bible didn’t start out with 66 books! That is the state of Christianity today, at least here in the United States, and it concerns me greatly, because there ARE many Christians who are realizing that something is wrong, that just because something is tradition doesn’t make it right. They are discovering “That Olde Tyme Religion” is only a couple hundred years old at best, and it’s modern incarnation no older than 100 years on the outside.

    So I watch blogs like yours with great interest, because I want to see the tide turning. I want to see intelligent, thoughtful, loving, compassionate Christianity take the place of this totally unChristlike church that keeps throwing it’s weight around while crying foul and pointing fingers at everyone else for not meekly accepting it’s authority. It took many years for me to learn about the faith, and while I did move away from it, I still consider it a wonderful faith, when the principles Jesus laid out are followed. Though I consider him a man, I consider him a wise man, and feel that the future of Christianity, if it wants to survive, is to embrace the love, compassion, mercy, wisdom and strength of it’s founder, rather than the screeds and sayings of it’s later followers who claimed their own authority *cough*Paul*cough*.

    I apologize if I’ve rambled on, I do these things. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you, John (I hope it’s okay if I call you John), and all the good work you do. I’ll certainly be reading!



  • Good article.
    My dog and I almost got run over today… twice, by the same fur and diamond dressed woman who refused to acknowledge my presence. The first time by backing her car into me and my dog… the second time while I was trying to ask her if she knew what she had almost done. She wouldn’t listen – made the sign that I was crazy and proceeded to advance her car, hitting my knees with her bumper. I could not help but comment on the diamond studded cross she wore. It’s not a question of gay or straight. It’s not a question of man or woman. The question is, where is humanity headed? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • Vast Variety


    I just wish that people and organizations like like you were more out in front of the media with the same zeal and passion that the anti-gay so called Christians like Galleger and Perkins are. The only way to counter their kind of hatred toward gays and lesbians is by showing that Christians can be loving and accepting.

  • A lot of this is a PR problem – a number of folks say they are NOT a Christian because of how other Christians behave.

    And a lot of those I meet working on the fringes doing the work to LGBT folks often prefer to remain anonymous – some of this is humility (Thank God!) – they’ve seen what happens when a grassroots group gets a bit of PR and they really don’t to be pushed as the “next big thing.” Another chunk of it is that they are doing work with marginalized folks and need to fly under the radar to protect their community. This is especially true for those involved with the transgender community, a group that needs to remain stealth as in most cities they don’t even have the most basic of human rights protected.

    There’s also the dynamic of “I have sh*t to do” dynamic that was illuminated by the Stewart/Colbert Rally for Sanity. They are too busy doing their work to toot their horn.

    EVEN if they do want to get PR, they don’t have the PR mechanisms and funding that an organization like Sojourners has. On page 36 of this report is a list of organizations who have the largest advocacy budgets. Sojourners is near the top with $5.5 spent advocating on behalf of their interests (which do NOT include LGBT or women’s rights. (See This includes two staffers whose jobs are to promote Wallis. Then there’s also the issue of convincing the media not to be lazy by relying on those who have the money to push their product and actually go out and research what’s really happening on the fringes. So when the media reports on “religious progressives,” what they are actually commenting on is pro-poverty moderate evangelicals who waffle on the subject of rights for women and LGBT people.

    it can be difficult to get coverage for the side of religion

  • Soulmentor

    ********I’m surrounded by people who seem unable to trust their own hearts and trust that their heart beliefs are what come from God…**********

    Bingo! Well, DUH!!!!!!!! Imagine that!

    “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” – Prov 3:5

    “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” —Proverbs 28:26

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ” – Jeremiah 17:9

    The kind of Christian who has so much trouble with John and gays and Progressive Christianity and thinking for themselves are the the kind who have taken those passages to …..well, to heart. They prattle on about the Spirit of God speaking to their hearts all the while not trusting what their hearts tell them, opting instead to put their trust in the writings of someone from the Bronze Age….that has been re-interpreted and re-translated so many times it’s a wonder anyone can believe a word of it. Just as they equate the Bible and God, so they equate the words and the Spirit. Reading the words IS NOT the Spirit touching you. The words may cause you to feel the Spirit in your heart, but then if you will not trust your heart because other words tell you not to….well, how do you resolve such a contradiction? To “study” the Bible is not to read the words. It is to THINK and try to resolve such contradictions, thus answering Jeremiah’s question.


    God gave us an intellect and to my way of thinking, denying the use of it is surely among the gravest of sins. Indeed, God may BE intellect for all we know. It wasn’t just the body of Jesus that was crucified on that cross. It was Thinking and Love, Mind and Heart….as opposed to blind “belief”.

  • Vast – I offered my reflections regarding why pro-gay Christians have difficulty getting their voice out there.

    One thing y’all can do is call and complain when you see Christian leaders/authors being touted as the “alternative” to the religious right) when they are affiliated with organizations that are not fully inclusive of LGBT folks. As I noted in my comment, these folks have PR machines in places that can easily place their latest press releases in front of media bookers looking for a quick soundbite. Tell the media bookers to go to the Believe Out Loud Blog, Killing the Buddha, The Revealer, Religion Disptaches, and Alternet – there one can find a host of pro-gay voices wo like Wallis & Co. have published books and have experience going on air (though mostly via grassrootsy type podcasts and the like).

    This goes well beyond simply Wallis/Sojourners (though he is the go-to guy . With religion emerging as a key player in the 2012 elections, there is a huge PR push on to promote “The New Evangelicals” who are pro-poverty, pro-environment but still squeamish on the issue of LGBT rights. George Barna and Gabe Lyons/Barna Group make the rounds of the cable news networks touting themselves as covering this “new breed of evangelicals” – they kind of leave out the fact that Barna hangs with the religious right –

    Also A. Larry Ross (Billy Graham’s PR rep, whose clients read like a who’s who of the anti-gay religious right) sometimes takes on a more “affirming” client to give folks the illusion he’s promoting a kinder, gentler evangelicalism ( But as Dan Savage would say, this is “God Hates Fags with a Smile.”

  • Cathy

    You hang out with a good Crowd!

  • 🙂 Thank you, John, for what you are doing. I’m continually amazed at how volatile the topic of Christianity and homosexuality can be. I actually posted something about it on my blog today, too:

  • I understand the frustration many LGBT folks and their allies feel when all they see in the media is the busybodies, fusspots, tattletales and scolds who claim to be Christians. Yeah, it would be nice if the media portrayed at least some pretense at balance, but loving, kind, reasonable Christians aren’t good ratings.

    But… blaming our Christian allies because they’re not attention whores like Perkins and the other busybodies? Really? Do we really want our Christian allies to act like the other guys?

    The church where I am a member is not in California, it was in Michigan a state with some of the most anti-gay marriage and adoption and civil rights laws on the books. That church did a study back in 1976 and concluded that sexual orientation was not a barrier to ordination, and that same-sex marriages should be celebrated. No one in the church at that time was an out LGBT person. No one in the church at that time knew an out LGBT person. Instead, they read the Bible and did what was right … in 1976. In Michigan. (In other words, such folks are out there — even in the square states, the red states, the flyover states — but if one only assumes all Christians are busybodies, fusspots, tattletales, and scolds, finding them is going to be more difficult.

    Fast forward to 2001 when the then pastor of the church risked his ordination and his job to officiate at our wedding. He was brought up on denominational charges (which fortunately were dropped) but it was a year of stress and anger and fear for all of us in the congregation both for ourselves, but also and more importantly for him and his wife and young son.

    So yes, most of our allies have probably not experienced what we LGBT folks have experienced. But make no mistake: the Perkins and Sheldons, and Gallaghers of this world do not distinguish between gay folk and their allies and they’re happy to attack us all equally.

    Now, none of those actions by our little congregation made headlines. None of that results in the usual FOX news screaming matches.

    But it seems a lot more valuable to me.

    Instead, our church quietly made a proposal to the denomination (the Presbyterian Church -USA) to change ordination standards. It failed. Two years later, we did so again. It failed. So we did it again, and a few months ago, the 1 million member denomination approved the proposal from our little 80 member congregation to allow ordination without regard to sexual orientation.

    The talking heads can keep their enormous salaries, their rolodexes full of hateful (and adulterous) politicians, and their appointed time slots on FOX News to bitch about the evil ho-mo-sexhuls.

    So, thanks John, for your hard work. Yes, our allies like you need to be visible, but you don’t have to be Tony Perkins to get the job done.

    I prefer Christians who actually put people before publicity.

  • Janey

    Becky, obviously you’re sophisticated in the PR/media world and you are sensitive to the dilemma for evangelical Christian leaders. What do you see as the future? Conservative Christian TV/radio ministries have to get donations to stay afloat, and they do that the easiest way they can: by whipping up fear (gay, Muslim, capitalism vs socialism, environmental).

    If you had to predict, what would you guess will happen over the next 3 years among the largest of the Christian organizations (left and right)?

  • Cameron

    Regarding how people misread what you wrote, I suspect what you have is a demographics issue…those of us who live in the buckle of the Bible belt, don’t have day to day validation that we’re winning. We have day to day condemnation, being witnessed to in parking lots, hate signs and bill boards in our faces, family members we dodge because they’re convinced of the evils of homosexuality and sometimes even hate crimes and murder…its wearying, exhausting and constant. So when you write such wonderful words, it all seems a bit unreal and far away…but I do believe you’re right that change is coming anyway.

    PS everything I’ve listed above, including the murder, I’ve seen in my own community.

  • I never did have respect for those who read the Bible, go to church…do all the good things that would assure their free ride to the Heavens…and then criticize judge, gossip, and deminish others … ignoring Jesus’ two Commandments…’Love God, and Love One Another as I Have Loved You’.

  • The shift is at times imperceptible. The people on the edges make lots of noise and it is the people in the middle who control the votes. So crazy Kevin and my sweet stalker yak a lot, BUT do they change minds and hearts AND votes? Probably not. I understand that glbt people are anxious for visible and audible Christians. The progress is coming. First a few speak up and others think they are crazy, then they listen, then they themselves start to whisper, then they find ‘safety in numbers’ and get a bit louder and ask questions in their churches and then the shift starts to take hold from the pews. People just do not go from A to B. Some of us move a bit faster and get the passion sooner, but we all take time to migrate. Five years ago, I was poison in some Christian settings , now some people actually admire me. They just need role models to form the parade. And the Kevins and sweet stalkers will look even more the fool. Five years ago my enemies would have had so much traction in their campaigns against me, and now, I see lone idiots. I get mail EVERY day from the still-silent ones. They’ll get there; the key is and always will be relationship. And that is two way. GLBT people need to step into relationships too that look challenging. Dang, my 80 year old former prejudice against all things not white like her is an ally. She LOOKS for glbt people to love on. And she got there thru being with my friends.

    And to my glbt friends, once you have us, you will NEVER lose us. You are my MOST creative, interesting and loyal friends. I am not going anywhere. I have lost the ones who look like me en masse and have gained treasures beyond imagine!!!

  • DR

    Really? Do we really want our Christian allies to act like the other guys?>>>

    What does this mean? Be vocal? Be consistent? Be bold? Then yes, we do because that’s exactly what these people do. They are loud, they are consistent and they don’t apologize. Oddly, I admire their conviction while despising what they are convicted about. We need to be *exactly* like they are which may be counter-intuitive to the quiet, more humble approach that many educated and sane Christians take.

    These people are bullies. They really are there’s just no other word to use. Of course they’re not educated, of course they have been abused and manipulated. They may be gay themselves and can’t face that so project their self-hatred onto the GLBT community. How they got this way is important but it’s not AS important as protecting people – and the church – from the filth they spread, the damage they do.

    It always kind of shocks me to see those of you suggest that we shouldn’t speak out, that we shouldn’t give this kind of thing any attention. These people are contributing to an environment where kids are killing themselves – they are driving them to it. They are alienating gay men and women who actually survive their childhood reasonably intact from our church. Please tell me what other kind of theology would be allowed to just go silently, quietly unaddressed that was proved to have a correlation to hurting children?

    We need to be as loud – if not louder – than these people. We need to be OUTRAGED by what they do and we need to show it. We need to be willing to fight, to yell, to shout down these people until they are boxed into a silence corner so they don’t hurt anyone. Until we are as angry and convicted as they are, they’ll continue to speak for us. I’m not going to let that happen. Are you?

  • What I see as a problem is calling those who do not affirm gay “Christianity” out as “gay-bashers” and “bigots” when that is typically not the case at all. There must be a common ground out there and John, you are not finding it.

    Many of your readers here want to focus on love God and love others, but that’s just following rules. Those commandments should flow from a heart that’s been changed by Jesus. In short, there are those on both sides whose hearts have not been changed, but like to claim those rules as their own.

    The common ground should be Jesus, but we must also properly interpret the Bible.

    I see many here, John included, attempting to interpret the Bible to suit their own means, instead of viewing it as God redeeming His people and changing His people’s hearts through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His Son.

    I have no doubt that there are Christians in the gay community, but at the same time, they are struggling with what they are doing as homosexuals. At the same time, there are straight Christians who are struggling with homosexual feelings. Culture and many of your readers say to give into those feelings. Yet, there is a very real struggle there if one is filled with the Holy Spirit.

  • Keep telling it like it is John. Lights are starting to shine in a lot of eyes that had been glazed over. Minds, and spirits are finding peace through your work.

  • Chris, do me and yourself a favor-come on over to my blog and do some reading . I am not sure what group of glbt Christians and allies you are associating with, if any. My core, my foundation is Jesus as it is for THOUSANDS of glbt Christians I know. YOU may be struggling to reconcile the Christian faith and sexual orientation, but those that have invested time or have had to live this one out, are at peace about it. I never “gave into” culture on this, I gave into the Holy Spirit. Souls and hearts and minds can be redeemed, not sexual orientation. I may be quite wrong, but I would suspect that you have none to little interaction with glbt believers in the flesh. would be a good start. I was where you are. And thru the power of the Holy Spirit, I have stepped AWAY from interpreting the Bible that has indeed suited the biases of man. I would really encourage you Chris to use a Bible and a concordance and do relationship and ask questions of glbt Christians and then, key word here, LISTEN. Not TELL, LISTEN. Read John’s blog and suppliment with mine. I am very searchable. Hopefully you are teachable.

  • In a way I’m kinda glad the yahoos in Kentucky voted to keep interracial couples out of their church (all the time while proclaiming “we’re not racist”).

    It really forces the issue into a sharp black and white (pun on semi-unintended) focus.

    Who are >we< to say who is/is not a child a God & a recipient of His grace.

    I keep telling people: Worry about your own sins and shortcomings, not other people's.

  • Kevin Gervais

    I am struck by two things in your post. One, you claim that people who hold a view of LGBTQ people as sinful are not bigots and gay bashers. Then you write all gays “struggle” with their homosexual feelings (even “straight” Christians can struggle!).

    Given you can’t possibly know the hearts, minds and struggles of all people, how can you guess that I struggle with being gay? Pre-judging another person (usually negatively) is exactly what bigotry looks like. And using that judgement to support laws preventing me from securing legal rights to property, family, decision making is the result of that bigotry.

    We are commanded to love one another. There is no asterisk that comes with this commandment. There are no footnotes.

    When a person looks at another and sees sin before seeing a human, sees a threat in another’s love, and instinctively denounces rather than know the goodness of another, I can only conclude that person’s misunderstanding of what we were given by Jesus.

    The hatred and bigotry come from a refusal to see goodness and know only judgment. And worse, to conclude that your judgement is superior to the commandment to love one another. We fight for better for and from our fellow men. Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists. All people deserve the best from us. Jesus himself gave us the gift of this knowledge.

  • I think that more and more of the younger Evangelicals are seeing that their churches are carrying a lot of bigoted baggage that has nothing to do with Biblical teaching.

    To a certain extent, the Bible-only demands are working against the people who made them. What’s happening when people read their Bibles is that they see that a lot of messages they were given aren’t true. Among them, the idea that God hates homosexuals. (I tried to quote the Westboro Baptist slogan, but I just couldn’t do it.)

    In a generation, I expect that the idea that Tony Perkins, James Kennedy, Bob Jones, Pat Robertson, etc. were major spokesmen for Christendom will be as difficult for us to understand as the idea that churches preached against interracial marriage, in favor of slavery, etc. is today.

    While that’s a good thing, people shouldn’t be stuck waiting for another generation to see themselves treated lovingly.

  • I do not struggle to reconcile faith with sexual orientation. I believe the Bible is clear on it. What you’re suggesting is an emotional approach in a humanist context. One will always come up with something anti-Biblical with that approach. I don’t think you could ever have been where I am on this. You have sought justification for believing a lie and found it, apparently. I have had interaction with some glbt believers and some struggle with what they believe to be true about homosexuality. Others have outright told me that I should divorce my wife and leave my family since I didn’t understand their lifestyle. I’m only seeking to find a common ground at which they could see the act of homosexual behavior is sin just as murder, lying, and adultery are.

  • It might be a matter of demographics.

    I used to live in Arizona. It’s where I grew up and when I “got saved” as a teenager, a Southern Baptist church in rural middle-of-the-desert-nowhere AZ is where I took a lot of my spiritual development.

    The people there were anything but hateful. They were sweet, wonderful, loving people – who happened to believe that certain kinds of sexual activity and “lifestyles” were sins. They believed in their NIV translation of the Bible and felt that it was all there in black and white. I still have an annotated NIV Bible I was given as a highschool graduation gift and all the notes on the “homosexual verses” at the bottoms of the pages have lines like “If you’re struggling with this sin…” The people I knew didn’t actively *hate* anyone “struggling with this sin” they just believed in the “black and white.” They also seemed to be weirded out over “certain bodies are made for certain things” – the general heterocentric “oogyness” over the whole thing – being a “sheltered” country-population.

    These were people who would NEVER tell anyone to kill themselves over being gay, or that they were an “abomination.” No, they really believed God loved everyone and would come to everyone just as they are, they just believed that people were given their own struggles, temptations and inclinations in life that they were meant to overcome in Christ if they knew the Lord. They also didn’t see everying “natural” as necessarily being “right” because of the idea of a sin-fallen world and twisted desires and nature.

    I would say that churches like that are probably the most common – congreations and individuals who have what I might call a “loving homophobia.” They’re appalled as anyone when they hear about some loser praying for a gay person’s death or bozos protesting funerals or about people being bullied to death, but they still see “certain things as right and certain things as wrong,” and think other good people “struggle.”

    I haven’t been to church (of any kind) in a long time. The Internet serves as my “church” now – which suits my highly introvered, mildly insane and distrustful self. I’d say it’s the Internet that changed my own mind on these matters. The whole cultural climate bothered my conciensce. I didn’t really want to believe some of the things I’d been lead to thinking I *had* to believe as part of the package-deal, and well, I *sought out* other viewpoints on the Internet. Go Internet, Go?

    I have a more open mind now, but I wonder if it’s right.

  • 1. I did not write that all gays struggle with their homosexual feelings.

    2. Nothing I said should be construed as bigoted or hatred, yet you proved my point by stating that it was (unless I wrongly interpret your post).

    3. You’re coming at this from the secular, humanist point of view that all human beings are good unless proven to be bad, whatever bad is. The fact remains that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. All are judged to damnation in Hell already, unless they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. One cannot even follow the commands to love God and love others until they have been born again. That’s Bible and that’s the Gospel.

    You’re going to judge me simply because I can’t affirm the homosexual act?

  • Oh. Chris Coppenbarger. You’re back. Great.

  • Nicole

    But, isn’t shouting someone down until they don’t speak anymore, bullying? Did Jesus shout anyone down?

    Or maybe it’s just a personality thing. I hate it when I see speakers shouted down by a mob and not allowed to speak. But I admit, I wouldn’t care if it were neo-nazis or KKKers being shouted down. So context matters, I guess.

  • 😀

    Oh, I’m around. I just choose not to post very often.

  • That’s a choice you should really stick with.

  • Kevin Gervais

    I believe that I cannot know another’s heart. So every interaction starts from a point of potential, not damnation. Judgment is reserved for beings more powerful than I.

    I read and interpreted your writing, I did not judge you as a person. And you are confusing LGBTQ people and judging all as damned.

    I am simply saying we are not commanded to judge. We are commanded to love. You admit you judge a person as damned by an “act”.

    And God didn’t send a book. He sent a human to teach us. And yes, I see the world as populated by humans. And those humans all have the capacity for goodness and love.

  • “I’m only seeking to find a common ground at which they could see the act of homosexual behavior is sin just as murder, lying, and adultery are.”

    Don’t. Bother.

  • Nicole

    Chris, there’s no need for you to “affirm the homosexual act.” I’m assuming you’re straight, so what others do in their bedroom has nothing to do with you. There is NO WAY you can understand where they’re coming from or their walk with Christ because you can’t walk in their shoes. You’re straight.

    All anyone is asking is that you not condemn them. Trust me, most of them have been told all about “hell” and their salvation and walk with Christ is between them and Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with you. You can’t know who is “going to hell” or not because you’re not God. All you can do is guess, although, in my opinion, that’s a huge waste of time and energy.

    I put “hell” references in quotes because I believe, in the wake of what Jesus did on the cross, that it’s a moot point.

  • Nicole

    Hear it like this and understand that this is how you are sounding:

    “I’m only seeking to find a common ground at which they could see that the act of breathing is sin, just as murder, lying and adultury are.”

  • “It always kind of shocks me to see those of you suggest that we shouldn’t speak out, that we shouldn’t give this kind of thing any attention.”

    It would shock me to….if I had either “suggested” that or said it outright. But I didn’t.

    As they used to say when I was a kid, reading is fundamental, DR, and if you re-read what I wrote, I think you’ll see that no where did I suggest we shouldn’t speak out.

    DR, you write, ” We need to be *exactly* like they are…These people are bullies.”

    Wow. So much for “it gets better”. More like “it gets worse!” An eye for an eye! They bully us, so let’s bully them right back! Because nothing is going to change their mind like being the same level of asses to them as they’ve been to us…because that’s worked so well on us!


    If you think the only two options are 1) silence or 2) being a Tony-Perkins-esque ass, then I’d suggest that you are operating from the assumption of a false dichotomy. One can be out there being a strong, courageous advocate for equality without resorting to being a screaming, red-faced, bully and uneducated attention whore.

    I think John and many others do a pretty good job as allies of speaking and standing up without “being *exactly* like them.

  • Melody

    And where exactly does it say explicitly that everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus as their personal savior is instantly doomed to burn in hell? I worship a God who is loving, slow to anger, and unwilling that any should perish. Your God is vengeful, sadistic, and petty.

    I know many non-Christians who are far kinder in nature than born-again Christians. These people aren’t trying to work their way to heaven; they are kind out of the goodness of their hearts. And don’t throw the “There is none righteous” or “The heart is desperately wicked” proof texts at me. Those were written by men who were lamenting on their momentary frustrations, not words that God told them to write.

    As for the idea of being a bigot because you think homosexuality is wrong, maybe you aren’t a true bigot. But that’s where bigotry begins: with a well-meaning but misguided notion about a group of people (whether women, ethnic minorities, or LGBT people). Then someone like Anita Bryant takes it to the extreme and removes all respectability from the notion, and people are saying hateful things “because the Bible says so.” If you aren’t telling gay people that they are going to hell because of their sexuality, and you aren’t telling them that something is wrong with their sexuality and they should be changed, then no, you aren’t a bigot. But your belief about my first paragraph concerns me, and tells me that you do. Please tell me I’m wrong about that.

  • Sorry, for the multiple comments, but I simply do not understand how DR (or anyone) can write, “These people are contributing to an environment where kids are killing themselves – they are driving them to it. ”

    And at the same time claim, “We need to be *exactly* like they are…”

    No frakin’ thanks.

  • Janey – I gave up making long term predictions after I said that the election of Barack Obama signified that American Christians could differentiate between conservative Christian and Xn crazy. Wrong.

    But there are a few trends I’m watching …

    1) On the left – Where will the passionate voices of the faith communities present in many of the occupy movements here in the US exert this energy moving forward? (This didn’t hit the news but once the OWS folks got kicked out of the park Judson Memorial and other NYC based churches opened their doors for example.) You see groups like Tikkun and Sojourners trying to fundraise for their own advocacy efforts using this spiritual energy but they are merely peripheral players. The real energy is very grassrootsy and being led by women and LGBT people of faith as part of the mix. These are the folks who are standing on the state capital steps demanding equality legislation and they’re starting to win – watch this steamroll forward re marriage equality and transgender rights.

    2) On the right – What success will conservative evangelicals have in their attempts to take back America in 2012? Lest we write this off, as noted in earlier postings George Barna is speaking at these events and A Larry Ross is now repping one of the emergent church gurus. These are the folks bankrolling ventures to curtail abortion rights, pass DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and the like.

    3) In the mushy middle – expect more of this blather –

    Note the lack of any comments. Other than author/speakers/nonprofit organizations with product to push, who cares about “talking about equality” that doesn’t walk the walk? YES I get the ambivalence – but I am hearing loud and clear from LGBT folks that if you say “I love the gays but I feel homosexual marriage is wrong,” then you come off as unloving. Silence only benefits the oppressor.

  • Nicole

    Wow. I resemble this whole comment! Thank you, Shadsie, for putting it so well. I have agonized, loving my gay friends and yet believing they were living a sinful lifestyle. “Loving homophobia,” indeed! Not in a million years would I let someone hurt them. But the discomfort in my heart…that in loving them, I was somehow loving them into hell, always plagued and tormented me.

    We forget sometimes that torment is not of our God.

    John’s blog and all the amazing readers/commenters have really set me free from all of that. As have my precious GLBT friends. The Holy Spirit truly led me here and I’m very grateful.

  • Melody

    I agree. I’m trying to *overcome* my guilt-ridden past, not be a masochist being made to feel guilty because the work I’m doing isn’t good enough. No one person can do enough. I for one will not let bitter, angry people like Joe in the other post push my efforts away. I like to know that my work is appreciated, not spat upon just because I’m a Christian who isn’t militant. Militancy is ineffective and just makes a cause look idiotic, as we’ve seen with the likes of the Black Panthers and feminazis.

  • mike moore

    dude, if I loved you any more, I’d be straight.

    (oh wait, s**t … it doesn’t work that direction, does it? oh, well, luv ya, anyway)

  • Ray


    Have only recently discovered your wish words. But what was more fascinating were the comments, the way these good People of Faith strove to navigate around their own issues regarding their own sexuality.

    Speaking as an ordained Christian minister (40 years) and psychotherapist (25 years), I realize thathe issue for some in the Community of Faith is not that LGBT persons could be Christian(however you choose to define that), but that Christians might have an other-than-straight sexual orientation. This is known in the therapeutic field as a “significant reaction.” ‘Nother words, if someone is secure in his or her sexuality, they don’t feel the need to get all upset over someone else’s.

    There are a LOT of restrictions about behavior to be found in scripture, but somehow we Christians don’t get quite as up in arms over many of them. Fer example, do you keep kosher? Oh yeah? What about those bacon and eggs you had for breakfast?

    Yes, I have looked at this thing from the other side, and I have no desire to insist you see things my way (although some posts would seem to need vice-versa.) But in my days in the charismatic movement- yes, yes, I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, spoken in tongues, the whole thing- I found that there was an iron fist in that loving velvet glove that was the Pentecostal community. If one did not follow the carefully delineated expectations of that group, you were quickly on the outside looking in.

    Some, of course, need such structure. But when they deal with those that are, ahem, different, things such as tolerance and diversity go bye-bye. Even other Christian communities become suspect.

    So what’s my point? Simply that acceptance of the OTHER should be what faith is all about, and that includes Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist (in all possible permutations.)

  • Gary

    Chris…how can you suggest that you are seeking common ground when this is your stated opinion of those you disagree with?

    “You have sought justification for believing a lie and found it, apparently. ”

    I am not seeing any of this effort to find common ground you claim.

    Am I just missing something here?

    I hate to point out the incredibly obvious here but “I’m only seeking to find a common ground at which they could see the act of homosexual behavior is sin just as murder, lying, and adultery are” would not meet anyone’s definition of common ground.

  • Chris, I believe that God redeemed and changed his people by sending us his SON, Jesus Christ, not by sending us a book.

    The texts selected for the bible were selected by human beings, human and therefore fallible. Even God’s most favored leaders throughout history stumbled and fell and failed – Abraham, Moses, David. All were no doubt men of God, but only one man ever walked this earth that was perfect and that only because he was also God.

    The bible didn’t come into existence until well after the time Jesus spent walking this earth, and even after it was compiled and printed, it was then translated over and over again, and later into languages that didn’t even exist when it was written. People read the bible now in an age and time where realities that the writers of scripture couldn’t have imagined are real and common.

    Therefore, when it comes to the Bible, me being human and fallible, I view it as a very helpful compilation of history, oratory and parable designed by men to lead us to God. Where did Jesus say “I will send you a Bible and you must follow it to the letter.” ? When did He say that? What I do know that he said was “Love God” and ‘Love others.” If those are the only two commandments I follow for the rest of my life to the best of my ability, I will only fear the shame and judgment for the times when I failed to do just those things.

  • Thank you, John for another great blog. I always enjoy your writing.

    I’ve always said, they (the haters) aren’t the majority, they are just LOUD.

  • Dwayne G. Mason

    Brilliant. Thank you, Driftwood.

  • I concur.

  • Driftwood2K11

    Because it’s not a sin, and it’s certainly not comparable to murder, lying, and adultery, unless of course you feel left handed individuals should also be held accountable for their biology.

    You seem to take the same approach I did when I was a devout Christian, that being, the Bible was the absolute Word of God without question, and everything else was to be looked at with suspicion and doubt. It’s a vicious cycle because it means all you’ll ever do is alienate people for merely being human, and you’ll reinforce your idea of what you think is “holy”, because believe me, your idea has just as much merit as anyone else who thinks they’ve got the corner on the Truth.

  • Bob Campbell

    I’d like to think that there are 200 compassionate Christians for every one hate filled, homosexuals are going straight to hell one, but I’m not so sure. When I read this, I immediately thought of how the Christian music industry treats Jennifer Knapp. Her music isn’t getting much air play after she came out of the closet.

  • LVZ

    “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” – Matthew 21:12-13

  • Gary

    Or Ray Boltz. Love his music…hate the way the church treated him.

  • Nicole

    Beautiful response, Barnmaven.

  • Nicole

    Jesus was speaking out and making a very clear statement with his physical actions. This is not what I’m talking about. It doesn’t say he shouted someone down so that they couldn’t be heard. I’m talking about a very specific action–that of a mob screaming at someone to drown them out and keep their voice from being heard.

  • DR

    Chris, that’s not the issue. Here is the issue. Those who want to be perceived as loving, thoughtful Christians while maintaining that they own the proper Biblical interpretation that homosexuality is condemned by God want it all. They want to be received as loving thoughtful human beings. They want absolutely no responsibility in the damage expressing these beliefs does to the GLBT community. And they also want to be able to define what “bigot”.

    They – you – can’t have it all. It’s not an adult, mature way of being, thinking. It’s not obedient, it’s not living in the Truth. It’s childish. If you’re someone who believes that homosexuality is condemned by God, you don’t get the last word on whether or not that is bigoted. Those experiencing you do. You do not get the last word on the damage you do to gay kids as a result of your beliefs – the gay community gets to tell you the impact you have. And lastly, you don’t get to be defined by your intention and the way you *feel* about gay men and women which I’m sure is very loving. I’m sure you have gay friends. I’m sure you love them. But you don’t get to be evaluated by your intent, your feelings. You like all the rest of us are evaluated on the consequences and the impacts of your behavior. Period.

    Simply put you don’t have the last word on your impact. That you’d actually infer that people are interpreting the Bible to suit their own means when you do the same thing – you’ve accepted an interpretation that suits you – is a little shocking. It’s possible there is a level of ownership around what the Bible “really” says that has nothing to do with God and everything to do with you.

  • DR

    And they also want to be able to define what “bigot” *means*.

  • Jeff

    I think there is a point here that doesnt seem to be brought up very much, and that is, what does the origional language of the Bible really say about Homosexuality. If you would take the time to study all the passages refering to Homosexuality in the Bible, but read them in the origional language and context. You would realize the Bible is actually not anti Gay.

  • DR

    I guess I don’t see silencing dangerous, evil people as bullying. I’d certainly prefer it if they change but I’ll be honest, I don’t care about Fundamentalist Christians. I don’t care if I hurt a conservative christian’s feelings, I just don’t. Their *feelings* about being called out for their behavior, about those who don’t like them, about how they are being “attacked”. It’s all so self-absorbed and I’ll admit that I have no patience for it or them anymore. I prioritize how gay men and women feel far more than these people. Sometimes, when people know you don’t like them – when you tell them the truth about how much you disrespect them – they wake up.

  • Jeff

    Very true and well spoken!

  • DR

    DR, you write, ” We need to be *exactly* like they are…These people are bullies.”

    Wow. So much for “it gets better”. More like “it gets worse!” An eye for an eye! They bully us, so let’s bully them right back! Because nothing is going to change their mind like being the same level of asses to them as they’ve been to us…because that’s worked so well on us!>>>

    You’re clearly not interested in conversation, otherwise you wouldn’t have inserted a bunch of meaning in my words. I never used the word “bullying” once as it relates to their behavior I suggested we mimic. Not once. Go back and reread my comment and respond to it on the merits that are actually within it, not what you think I said. Or don’t, I don’t care. But just don’t put words in my mouth again please, either way. Not with something so important. Thanks.

  • DR

    Alan we need to be as bold, as unapologetic and as convicted as they are in stating the truth and standing against them. Read my comment again. Bullying isn’t necessary.

  • DR

    I reread my comment and I see where it was poorly-worded. I’ll take responsibility for that, you’re right to correct me, thanks. Let me try again.

    My point that I was trying to make is bullies thrive in silence. They expect people to stand down. And that’s what a lot of very thoughtful christians do who are well intended, they don’t want to get into a shouting match. They don’t want to engage. But what we’ve read time and time again is when we don’t – when we don’t meet this kind of dialogue with the same boldness that it’s offered, with the same conviction? That’s experienced by others as tacit approval.

    We’re allowing these people to speak for us. We’re kind, we’re gentle. Kind and gentle does not work on bullies, not all the time. Anger is an activating agent – one can be *angry* and not bully. One can actually be angry – can express dislike and disrespect, even disgust – and do it out of love. So no, I don’t advocate bullying. But I’m also fine with shutting people down if it means a 15- year old kid isn’t going to come onto this blog and read one more comment about how he’s going to hell over something he can’t possibly change. If that makes me a bully, no problem I don’t care (I really don’t). But Christians seem awfully afraid of anger – of expressing it – and I think we’ve overcorrected in the name of being reasonable and loving.

  • DR

    Melody, isn’t it a choice to make comments from Joe personal? Please correct me if I’m wrong but I see him speaking on the expectations he has on the larger global community and that the micro-behaviors he’s seen demonstrated on this forum provide a measure of hope.

  • DR

    Nicole when I wrote we need to be “exactly” how they are my intention was to say we need to be as bold, as brash and as unapologetic as they are (I’d also add relentless) in our public countering of them as well as our condemnation of their theology. Publicly. People need to hear us do that as often, as loudly, with as much zeal as they offer. Bullies pick on the vulnerable. These men and women aren’t vulnerable.

  • Diana A.

    The religious authorities are always the last to change. When they see that the Church Universal has moved on without them, they will get a clue.

  • Love your blog, this is one of my favorites. I have passed your blog on to a lot of people and have received a lot of positive feedback… You’re changing the world, one blog at a time… Thanks 🙂

  • Diana A.


  • Diana A.

    So, it’s the sexual intercourse between gay people to which you object, correct? What are you, the sex police?

  • Diana A.

    Loving this!

  • DR

    Nothing I said should be construed as bigoted or hatred>>>

    Chris, you don’t get to decide that. Whether a bullet is *accidentally* shot or shot on purpose, you’re still responsible for the wound. You don’t get to tell the person you just shot, “Oh it doesn’t hurt that bad. You should be feeling *this* amount of pain as a result of the bullet – not the amount you’re telling me you feel.”

    Your intention may be to communicate something entirely other than bigotry or hatred but that doesn’t mean it’s received either way. You have to decide why you believe you get to control that and why you believe your intention (which you define and I’m sure is an attempt to obey God) should be given greater weight than your impact (bigotry and hatred). Just because you don’t *feel* hatred doesn’t mean someone is experiencing it from you just the same.

  • “Most of us original (7?) subscribers/fans get you the first time but I still like it when you explain your stuff because it makes me chuckle. ”

    I’ve thought about saying the same thing a time or two, Ric!

  • All these comments and still we have to deal with the truth of the matter. Sin is sin. Like the way I try to justify overeating because most people in my ancestry were heavy, so therefore I can’t help it, maybe I was just born this way. Or is this one of the things Jesus says I can overcome with His help? Should a person with any kind of sexual perversion try to overcome it with Jesus’ help, or just keep going along as though it doesn’t matter. To me it is like putting an interpretation on the Bible that fits you and your lifestyle. Yes, Jesus was a friend to everyone and has compassion, and he saved Mary Magdelene from being stoned, and also said neither do I condemn thee, go thy way and sin no more. So there is a condition to it. I think it is also like saying I am a Bible believing Christian, but I want to be tolerant and say maybe

    there are other ways to believe and be saved and get eternal life, but then you look at the truth in the Bible and it says there is only one way and that is to accept Jesus as your Savior and there is no other way.

  • Driftwood2K11

    It’s an excellent and accurate point, Jeff, but when you’re trained to believe that outside sources or other interpretations are just Satan’s way of tricking you into turning against Jesus, you’d have better luck pushing a donkey cart up a muddy slope in the middle of monsoon season while wearing roller blades, than convincing some fundamentalist Christians that they don’t know as much about the Bible as they seem to think they do. Until that time, you’re going to keep getting those smug, self-assured, non-answers.

  • Cynthia Haug-West via Facebook

    John Shore, I love you. That is all.

  • DR

    Please disregard this response, in hindsight. I wasn’t clear in what I was trying to say which is my deal, not yours. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Driftwood2K11

    Thank you, Dwayne!

  • Aliyah Aldridge via Facebook

    I hope that I wasn’t one of the people coming across as railing at you in response to your earlier post. That was definitely not my intent.

    In my response to your earlier post, I wasn’t trying to speak about statistics, but relationships.

    Do you think that there is one person in America (outside of extremely secluded religious sects) who has not personally met a Christian of the Perkins/Robertson/Bachman stripe or worse? These people are out, loud, and proud, and there are enough of them to make appealing to their hatred a reliable source of votes for a lot of politicians.

    So let’s say someone doesn’t go to a progressive church. Oh, they’ll still hear plenty about Christianity and what Christianity means in the world. They’ll hear it from the jackass with the megaphone at the pride parade. They’ll hear it from the jackass with the microphone on the campaign trail. They’ll hear it from the jackass with the Rolex and the Bible on TV. They’ll hear it from the jackass on the bus or the jackass at the dinner table.

    For better or worse, concepts are the product of experiences.

    Your concept of what Christianity is is shaped by your relationships to the Christians you’ve met. The same is true of other people. You acknowledge yourself that you are surrounded by an unusually high concentration of progressive, affirming Christians. A lot of antitheists have been surrounded by unusually high numbers of the “God hates you and I do too” variety. I’ll confess that I spent about a decade as an antitheist and I still on occasion look toward the religion with a jaundiced eye. But then, whereas you have had the experience of being surrounded by progressive Christians, I’ve had the experience of refusing to convert to Christianity at gunpoint. We both formed our concepts the same way. Why would one be less valid?

    One of the biggest forces for progress in the GLBT rights movement has been the coming out movement. Peoples’ attitudes about who gay people are changed in response to finding out that their aunt or their son or their favorite entertainer were gay. We aren’t all Dan Savage or Barney Frank or Harvey Milk. But in response to people who say that gays are pedophiles and sexual predators who recruit children, those of us who are out certainly aren’t meekly whispering “we’re not all like that” and “that’s not what I believe”.

    If the situation of the GLBT community were to mirror the arrangement of the Christian community, most of the people who openly and loudly identified as gay would be members of NAMBLA, a few of us would vocally oppose them, and the majority of us would quietly go about NOT raping children.

    If you want to change minds about what it means to be Christian, you progressive Christians need your own coming out movement. One of the things that has certainly modified my own concept of what it is to be Christian has been watching a certain Christian blogger get madder at the haters than I do.

  • Driftwood2K11

    The question becomes how hard you’re willing to look, how much you understand the text, the culture behind it, and the politics of the day when it was compiled. This is why Rabbinical scholars spent their whole lives studying their faith. It’s not something you pop open to a particular verse and say “yep, there it is! Right there in black and white!”. It’s something you spend time discovering and learning. Christianity has become a fast food faith with instant, easy to consume answers that don’t require any real nutritional value beyond that they be filling in some way.

    You talk about interpretation, but what if what you’re reading right now is someone else’s interpretation? You know it is, right? Look at the history of the Bible. It’s filled with edits, additions, revisions, subtractions, substitutions and translations. The Bible you see today is not the Bible of the first century, and it’s definitely not akin to the texts used in Judaism.

    Your Bible has already been interpreted for you, and what you’re seeing is the end result of that interpretation. Your food has been chewed for you, and you’re expected to swallow it and find it delicious, lest you insult the chef. Forget that it doesn’t agree with you, you’re expected to like it because you’re told you don’t deserve anything better. That’s what traps you in a cycle of self doubt and uncertainty, because I’m sure you want to be a good Christian, but you’re letting yourself be defined by these Christians who are already firmly against anything that challenges the modern status quo. Modern Christianity is comfortable, because it doesn’t have to try. It’s the dominant religion in the United States alone, and with billions of adherents, it’s in no danger of going anywhere soon.

    When you say to look at the truth in the Bible, just what truth do you think you’re seeing? Is it something already there and ready for you to consume? Something easy to digest without having to really think about? You have a brain for a reason. Critical thinking is a powerful tool. Ask yourself questions. Question your faith. Test it. Don’t accept it, interrogate it! Find out whether it’s what you believe because you have searched long and hard, you’ve left no stone unturned, you’ve looked at every ‘jot’ and ‘tittle’, and you’ve made yourself aware of the underlying culture, the meaning, the metaphor.

    Simply saying to “look at the truth in the Bible” is an empty phrase. It means nothing. I can gain more meaning by looking at the truth in a TV Guide, because it’s a nonsense phrase. It’s a fuzzy feel good phrase that lets people off the hook without hard study, because if you really examine the Bible, I mean REALLY look at it, study it, not just read it, STUDY it, you may find that things aren’t exactly what you think they are.

    It’s not about making the Bible fit one’s lifestyle. Millions of fundamentalist Christians do that every day to get out of helping the poor, sick, and needy. They already wedge it into politics and the social fabric of the country. It’s crammed into bigotry and ignorance. It’s already being made to fit a lifestyle, that of the fast food faithful.

  • John Shore, You are the BEST!..I love every word you write…If only I had known of you sooner, I would have been able to express exactly how you say things, to my parents..rather than allow them to put a wedge between me and them, because of their religion. I hope to get a copy of Wings on a Pig for my mother to read. I have the Kindle version and have cried many times, knowing the feelings I read about in the book!..I keep thinking “Someone else knows how I feel” Thank You!..

  • Diana Avery

    Really good metaphor. Thank you, Driftwood.

  • John C Hoddy via Facebook

    Speaking as a recent former fundamentalist, a lot of us a really new to lgbt affirming Christianity (also known as Christianity). We’re slow, but we’re getting there, and the more of us there are, the more vocal we will become.

  • LSS

    yes! we totally need that, a [coming out as christian allies] movement.

  • LSS

    well maybe if things progress, there will be such a hopeful percentage. and we can maybe help it happen by speaking out.

  • LSS

    “if i loved you any more i’d wish you were gay” might work?

  • LSS

    “I’m only seeking to find a common ground at which they could see that the act of loving and wanting to spend my life with someone is sin, just as murder, lying and adultury are.”

  • Drew M.

    Driftwood2K11, that is an amazing reply. Thank you!

  • This is happening all across the board in mainline settings – for example, in October 900 Methodists in the NY Conference stood up against their denomination (the only major mainline denomination not to make steps to ordain LGBT clergy and marry same sex couples). This flew below the media radar but thanks to social media, folks can get behind these movements and use the power of social media to push this news. See Truth Wins Out, Believe Out Loud and GLAAD as there places to start for LGBT news.

    Here’s a thought – think about how your community can be involved in Gay Pride Month – it’s June so there’s time to explore what you can do. Trust me it is significant that faith communities ass in the NYC Pride Parade every year – they always get a good turnout of marchers. And a number of churches situated along the parade route pass out water to the marches. (VERY telling to see those churches who claim to be affirming but are NOWHERE to be found on this day of solidarity.) Pride is about as family friendly now as you can get – out with the leather and in with couples marching with baby strollers.

    Secondly, folks need to continue to shout down those faux progressives who claim they are for LGBT equality and they’re not – they have a history of gaslighting and I know how rough it is to go against these bullies. But if enough folks call their crud on the carpet, then they’ll fade away. They muddy the waters because they claim to rep this “new” vision and it’s same old, same old.

  • LSS

    i thought sojo were against poverty?

  • Amy Mitchell via Facebook

    @Aliyah, I know you’re right. But one reason I’m not “out” as a progressive is that I’ve already been told that if I say certain things, I’m “leading God’s children astray.” But the reason I stay at such a non-progressive church is that I want those kids to have *someone* to affirm them when they come out. So I fly under the radar, not telling the leadership that I’m affirming, and I make sure that I’m someone our kids/youth can trust.

  • LSS

    i’m with you there in that whole last bit about internet / church.

    (not that i disagree with the earlier 80% of the comment but i haven’t investigated people’s true feelings enough to have anything to add.)

  • Aliyah Aldridge via Facebook

    @Amy, I can’t tell you how to live your life. Coming out is and always must be a personal choice. No one should ever come out before they’re ready. There’s also the decision of who to be out to. Maybe you’re not out as an ally at your church. But are there other places in your life where you might be comfortable being a bit more open? Try googling “coming out” – learn how we do it. It’s not a single act – it’s a process. You have to decide how open to be and to whom. There’s not generally a big announcement. It occurs in the context of relationships.

    In the context of a church, John & his fans could give you far better support than I could, as that’s not familiar terrain to me. If you find a group of GLBT Christians online or IRL, they may be able to offer insights from both sides of their experience.

  • Donald Rappe

    Yay for former fundamentalists.

  • Donald Rappe

    I know the traditional teaching is that Jesus is truly a man. Denial of this is usually considered heresy by the most accepted theology of the Church. But how many of us deny this in practice. It is not so simple to reconcile the human limits of The Lord Jesus Crist with his messianic destiny.

  • Donald Rappe

    Well said. No one can be right all the time, my friend. There is far more ambiguity in conversation than we often notice.

  • Donald Rappe

    Amen! And again I say Amen!

  • John C Hoddy via Facebook

    Aliyah, thank you that is really great advice. I, too am not out as affirming at my church, but some people in my life know where I stand, and I am definitely out on facebook.

  • DR

    Karen what you’re facing aren’t people here who are wrong about the Bible. What you’re facing is the fear that possibly, *you* are wrong about the Bible. It’s happened before in Christianity – people who wanted to justify blacks and whites not getting married, not worshipping in church together had some serious Biblical interpretation to back that up. They fought just as hard against it as you and others might fight in this particular context. But they were wrong and so are you. It’s scary, facing that because of what it might mean about everything else you believe. But nothing else needs to change, Jesus is still exactly who he is, sin is exactly what it is. But you’re wrong about homosexuality being a sin. That’s all.

  • DR

    Chris, are you struggling with feelings of homosexuality yourself? This is a very frequent position that men (and women) take when they can’t reconcile their feelings.

  • Soulmentor

    But if you’re “under the radar”, how do they find you?

  • Soulmentor

    That’s what I love about you and your writings, John. You are so succinct. You have a way of being profound with few words. Your reply to Chris was my chuckle for the day and yet, I do feel some compassion for him. He is the perfect example of “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” The operative word being “will”.

  • DR

    This is amazing. You’re a blessing to this conversation, I’m so glad you found this little internet community!

  • Soulmentor

    Actually, I’d sincerely like to see Chris try to explain how he can equate homosexuality with murder, lying and adultery. (How insulting) The latter three all include deliberate harm to another person, whereas homosexuality and loving, caring, even just plain fun homosexual behavior does not. Trotting out the disease argument no longer works because everyone now knows that AIDS, while it seems to have hit the gay world first and devastatingly, is predominantly a hetero disease worldwide and anyway, that it’s incidental to the behavior, like smoking and cancer, hetero sex and the std epidemic, football and brain damage. Would Chris suggest that hetero sex is sinful because it sometimes (often, but MOST people don’t get it) results in std’s? Is football sinful because there are incidents of brain damage or heart failure or the idolatry some exhibit for the sport?

    Other than parroting the conservative religious talking points, I’d love to see him explain how he thinks homosexuality is harmful.

    “They” never do, because they can’t. Beyond “the Bible says so” or “God says so in the Bible” or “it’s not natural”, none of which are true, they have no rationale for their prejudicial attitude beyond their own personal sense of “eeewww” and “just because”, which are not adequate justifications for the permission their attitude gives to the violence against gays perpetrated by their attitude.

    The constant need to repeat the obvious gets wearisome but steady, methodical education, particularly in Biblical history and interpretation, is having the changing effect. And tho the appeal to fairness is also having a positive effect on the general public, it is wasted effort toward those religious who “protect” themselves with the “armor of faith”.

    And it’s becoming glaringly apparent that the Spirit of God (Spirit of Love?) is very much in play.

  • Soulmentor

    *****But, isn’t shouting someone down until they don’t speak anymore, bullying? *****

    No, not if you do it with intelligence and knowledge. Not when you counter hatred and prejudice with facts and truth. And you can even throw the Bible right back in their face loudly and publicly. If they are going to use the Bible to hate on others, they deserve to have the Bible used against them, which is actually very easy to do. Their self-righteous ignorance leaves them wide open to being contradicted. They deserve to be humiliated because they’ve made careers out of humiliating others. Call it just desserts or karma, it remains true that evil is victorious when good people remain silent. There is no need to be tolerant of intolerance, or even appear to be. As another writer here has pointed out, Jesus himself expressed outrage and anger and called people out for their hypocrisy, publicly and loudly.

    I spent the decade of the 90’s as a gay activist writer in my regional newspaper, “shouting down” the religious anti-gay opinion page writers, talking back to them and throwing scripture right back in their faces….until they finally got a clue and quit responding to me. In one instance, a minister from a nearby town responded to me accusing me of “smorgasbording” the Bible to justify my gay sinfulness. My scathing response, pointing out how he is indeed the smorgasbording expert (his wife’s pork dinners, the different threads in his own vestments, that he surely doesn’t pronounce death sentences upon his adultering parishioners, among others) appeared in the Sunday paper which many of his congregants no doubt read before church attendance. I never heard from him again.

    So yes, I silenced them, at least in that particular context, not because I “bullied” them, but because I beat them at their own game with knowledge they could not refute and humiliating them in their ignorance. And yes, I took great satisfaction in it.

    Being a real Christian does not mean allowing oneself to be rolled over. I doubt very much that “turning the other cheek” means giving permission for the tank of hypocritical bigotry to roll over you rather than fight back with armor-of-“faith”- piercing weapons.

  • Soulmentor

    Not if you “talk back” with intelligence and knowledge that yeah, maybe strongly, refutes what they say without calling them names. If they find themselves defenseless, so be it. It’s because they ARE.

  • Amy Mitchell via Facebook

    @Aliyah, I’m out as an ally everywhere *but* church. And there, I’ve chosen a few people (the youth pastor I work with, several close friends). I just wish I could be so open with the rest of the staff of our church and with others there. I know I’m not alone, but there aren’t many of us.

    I love reading John’s posts and the responses. If not for them, I wouldn’t even have had the guts to tell a few people at church. And I’m thankful for my wonderful sister and her partner for all the support they’ve offered over the years.

  • vj

    oh, so beautifully said – thank-you!

  • Mindy

    A breathtakingly clear explanation – Driftwood, your writing is . . . . wow. Thank you for this. Thank you sooo much.

    Karen, please read John’s Wings on a Pig. Read the last essay. Digest it. Understand it. And see that what you believe is only what you’ve been told – and it’s wrong. Clearly and simply wrong. The Bible does not say what you’ve been told it does. You’ll be amazed.

  • Mindy

    Good point, DR. And Karen, it’s understandably scary – but she’s right. If you learn about the context and the historical framing of the verses used to label homosexuality a sin, you will see that what you’ve been told, how it’s been interpreted for you, is not correct. Again, read John’s essay on the topic. He doesn’t Bible-bash, or tear apart scripture – he EXPLAINS the context in which it was written. He does, in fact, prove that what you believe about sin was never said.

  • vj

    And then there are those who don’t eat pork because it goes against their ‘Christian’ religion – because Jesus cast demons out of a possessed man and they went into a herd of pigs…. I heard this from a local (South Africa) cooking competition contestant just this week – it really does boggle the mind!

  • vj

    “you’d have better luck pushing a donkey cart up a muddy slope in the middle of monsoon season while wearing roller blades”

    Driftwood2K11, I’m sooo glad you’ve joined use here – you are insightful, compassionate and this line really cracked me up!

  • Also read Radical Love – it really presents the queer theology going around in academia into a clear and concise format.

    What American evangelicals profess as their statement of faith comes from the 2nd great awakening of the 19th century, the debates around the Niagara Bible Conference in the 1910s, and if you participate in a praise type service, there’s some of the Azusa Street revivial at the turn of the century thrown in. Add to this the Christian reconstructionist movements of the 1980s and other modernist takes on faith in the public square and now how conveniently this all happens to line up with the Republican Party platform (or parts of the Democratic platform if one is a bit more progressive though they balk at women and LGBT rights). So when Xns say they want to return and restore America to her Xn roots, they’re talking about a form of the faith that would make even John Winthrop get a bit bug eyed.

  • vj

    “I’m only seeking to find a common ground at which they could see the act of homosexual behavior is sin just as murder, lying, and adultery are.”

    Murder, lying and adultery are expressly forbidden in the COMMANDMENTS God gave to the Israelites. The Levitical Code (from which I assume you deduce that homosexuality is a sin) was a set of ORDINANCES (decrees) and STATUTES (laws) that governed how a particular group of people were expected to conduct themselves in a particular place at a particular point in history, for a particular purpose that God had for them (to demonstrate to the Israelites and the surrounding idolatrous cultures that He was the One True God). There is no Biblical basis for insisting that ‘homosexual behavior’ is in the same category of murder, lying and adultery.

  • Diana A.

    Thank you, VJ. It’s good to know the context in which parts of the Bible were written.

  • Chris, would you be brave enough to go my blog and send me the city location where you live? I would PERSONALLY hook you up with a gay believer to bring you along to an affirming church community (if there is one near by you). Rather than keeping this lodged in your mind, and you appear to be doing so, get yourself in a situation where you can see if you SPIRIT resonates with the SPIRIT in a glbt Christian. Be brave instead of a thorn. If you did actually follow your Bible on this “telling” of yours, you would do it ONCE and go away. You would have done your “job” and then you could get back to the actually job of a believer of: love and serve.

  • Progressive evangelicals need to be commended for trying to expand the evangelical dialogue beyond abortion (this ties into women’s rights issues in general) and “homosexuality” by reminding Christians that issues like poverty, non-violent responses to war and creation care matter in the Kingdom of God. So they are to be commended for their efforts in this regard. However, they took a right hand turn on the issue of rights for women and LGBT folks while the secular world and more liberal denominations shouldered forward in what is admittedly a crooked path fraught with errors. Fast forward to 2011 and you see how the evangelical world is about a good 25 years behind the secular and more liberal Xns on these issues – and you also note that this is why people are leaving evangelicalism in droves.

    Also the hypocrisy of being anti-poverty and anti-gay becomes glaringly obvious when one looks at the homeless stats of LGBT teens esp. those on the T end of the spectrum. This is doubly true for LGBT people of color. Feeding someone a sandwich doesn’t cut it when the anti-gay rhetoric is what often led these teens to hit the streets in the first place.

  • LSS

    that’s a great point.

  • “…lbgt affirming Christianity (also known as Christianity).”

    LOVE. Love love love. Yes. Can’t love this enough.

  • Ulises Salazar

    I think this is a real great blog post.Really thank you! Want more.