Do you feel a drunken street orgy coming on?

A woman commenting on yesterday’s post (1 Man, 2 Women in a Polyamorous Relationship) wrote:

I shared this blog with a few of my Christian friends that I thought might be open to the discussions we have here [on the blog], because John had suggested that sometimes, when people read his responses to complicated situations and all the comments of support for people going through different circumstances, it helps to use that to start a conversation with others. I thought it would be a good way to open up the lines of communication I had so long avoided.

Isn’t that sweet?

So she suggested to some of her Christian friends that they come read my blog.

She then shared that “the first thing these ‘friends’ said a few weeks ago when they read JohnShore.com for the first time” was:

You know if you keep reading that crap the next thing you know they will have you believing there is no sin in this world, that if it feels good do it, God is all about love and there is no such thing as punishment for sin, that Jesus died for nothing because we can all do whatever we want to do with no consequences as long as it makes us happy and makes us feel good. You just wait and see, first they are okay with abortion, then they are okay with homosexuality, then polygamy, then drunk and drugged orgies in the street, as long as it satisfies their human lust, no problem. As long as no one is being hurt, no problem. If there is no conviction of sins, if everything in the world and anything you want to do no matter what is fine, then why did we need salvation to begin with? Why don’t we all just stop trying to lead good lives and just do whatever? Is this really what you think the Bible teaches? You went to this page to make yourself feel better about your sins, it is simple as that and we will pray for you, but you cannot believe this stuff and be a Christian, stay away from it!

Drunk and drugged orgies in the street?

I guess that would be the natural consequence of being okay with abortion.

Of course, before you can get a drunken, drugged orgy going in the streets, you’d have to get everybody else to agree with you that abortions are okay. Otherwise it would just end up being you running around your neighborhood, naked and drugged, humping cars, mailboxes … lawn ornaments … slow cats. Whatever.  But that’s no fun. You could really get hurt that way. Cats have pretty sharp claws.

You know what’s weird? How fundy-types so often sarcastically sneer, “As long as no one is being hurt, no problem.” As though it’s just obvious what a profound problem it is when people are having fun, and no one is getting hurt. I’m no theologian, but it seems to me that if people are having fun, and no one is getting hurt, that’s a good thing.

Sexual immorality isn’t bad because it’s fun. There’s no Fun-o-Meter that, once it registers that you’re having too much fun, turns all your fun into sin. Sexual immorality is bad because it does damage. Sexual immorality hurts people. It creates victims. It infects people with awful diseases. It results in unwanted pregnancies. None of that sort of thing is fun. What makes sexual immorality immoral is that it results in people getting hurt.

No harm = no sin. That’s the real rule of real morality. To use the Bible to condemn as sinful actions or thoughts which, objectively speaking, result in no harm being done anyone, is to do nothing more than turn Christ’s unconditional love into man’s toxic hatred. And what could grieve Christ more?

And if you think it’s the Bible that’s stopping you from turning into a dissolute animal, think again. Lots of perfectly moral people aren’t Christian. Your belief that an outside agent reigning you in is necessary for preventing you from becoming a shameless, immoral, out-of-control pig only means that somewhere along the line someone taught you that you are a shameless, immoral, out-of-control pig.

But you’re not. That was someone passing their own fear and anger onto you. Yes, same as anyone else, you are inclined to at times be selfish, greedy, lazy, opportunistic, and all the rest. But you’re okay. You’re good. You intrinsically understand the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral. And, just like anyone else, you long to be as good and moral as possible.

And that is something with which God can very definitely help you.

But this thing you do, where you hate, rail, condemn, accuse, and use the Bible as a weapon? There, you’re on your own.

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About John Shore

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

  • Phillip K. Mol via Facebook

    I was thinking more ‘coke fueled’ but do please go on……..

  • Barbara Rice

    Damn. And I was just getting my invitations ready to mail for the drunken street orgy in my town. I’ve already ordered the cake. And what am I going to do with all those deviled eggs?

    • Brenda Conry

      Put them on a cute little egg plate right next to the “Devil’s Food” cake. (Named that, I assume, because chocolate makes you feel good, ergo it must be sinful.)

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        I am remembering a Simpsons episode here…

        Flanders: Try it, Rev. Lovejoy, it’s devil’s food cake!

        Lovejoy: Is it REALLY devil’s food cake, Ned?

        Flanders: No… it’s angel food with chocolate frosting.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

      Deviled eggs are SATANIC! Proof! Proof, I say! And I’ll bet it was devil’s food cake, too, wasn’t it? I rest my case!

      • Gary

        As funny as this is…not too far from the truth in some cases. For many years my father forbid my mother from buying a “Dirt Devil” vacuum cleaner just because of the name. Talk about fundy!!

        I really wish I was making that up.

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

          Omg…I am laughing so hard. At my first church, they never called it a pot-luck supper. It was a “pot-blessing” supper. It took me 2 years to figure out it wasn’t a special prayer ceremony over the food. As a joke, my youth leaders used to refer to the breakfast cereal as “Blessed Charms.” And yes, someone really did get after them for it.

          • Gary

            Yeah…it is as embarrassing to me as that odd looking cousin no one wants to claim. LOL

          • Diana A.

            Oh dear me!

          • Brenda

            My great grandmother would not let my mother have pretzels, because pretzels go with beer and beer is wicked.

          • Diana A.

            And here, we made fun of our grandmother because she cut the underwear ads out of the magazines before passing them on to us. Ah well.

          • Soulmentor

            That reminds me of the riff from the old musical “Music Man”

            “Oh, we got trouble. Right here in River City. That starts with T and that rimes with P and that spells POOL!!!

            Which reminds me of Glenn Beck. But let’s not go there.

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

      HAR!!! Barbara. Great one.

      • Mary

        LOL LOL

    • Lymis

      Obviously, you serve them to your husbands and co-wives. What? You aren’t polygamous yet? Then planning the orgy is definitely getting ahead of yourself. There is a progression to these things, you know. Otherwise, we have chaos. Or FOX News. And who wants that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Cohea/100000024967834 Ashley Cohea via Facebook

    Not particularly, but I could probably be talked into it.

  • João Mattos

    “Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.

    Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.

    [...]Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.

    These Eight words the Rede fulfill:

    ‘An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will’”

    Yup yup, can totally expect drunken orgies to pop around after this.

  • http://audioarchives.blogspot.com spinetingler

    “As long as no one is being hurt, no problem.”

    She says that like it’s a bad thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brenda-Taylor-Conry/1804154626 Brenda Taylor Conry via Facebook

    It snowed last night. Orgy postponed.

  • Kristi

    Hey now! Those drunken and drugged orgies are supposed to belong to us atheists! I know this because it’s in the Evil Atheist Conspiracy handbook, right after the chapter about the proper way to prepare and cook babies and kittens.

    • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      Oh, come on! You wouldn’t know how to properly prepare a baby if your life depended upon it! First you dust the baby in oregano, then you prepare a light white wine sauce…

      As for kittens, leave them alone. Do you not know that cats are the true masters of the earth and if you’re bad to kitties the Feline Conspiracy will come upon you with full force?

      • Nicole

        WIN

        • Doctor Who

          Would you like a jelly baby?

          • Nicole

            No, but I’d love to get inside your Tardis.

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            I prefer my time travel by ocarina.

    • DR

      Kristi,

      As Christians we’re just repeating our pattern. The Atheists break good ground, we kick and scream against any kind of change and then when that change is super cool and accepted, we take credit for it. See: Civil Rights.

  • Leslie

    When these people say “if no one’s being hurt, it must be okay” in that snarky, sarcastic way I wonder, do they think it’s good to hurt people? Really. They’re saying it’s bad if people believe things that don’t hurt people are okay. Logic would lead me to believe they think the opposite…”unless someone’s being hurt, it’s just not okay, dammit.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cory-M-Warren/1338921949 Cory M. Warren via Facebook

    Sorry, but I have class in ten minutes, so I will have to pass. Maybe next time, but I am not so sure about the drunken part… it seems you would want to be fully aware for something like that, lest you wander off, and wake up the next day with a dragon tattooed on your face.

  • Christy

    Oooooooooh, slow cats! I can’t breathe! You kill me.

  • Rebecca Smith via Facebook

    No orgies. Too many “Thank You” notes.

    • Past Letter Writer

      HAHAHA…that made me laugh OUT loud, for real!

  • HJ

    That person pretty much describes the thought process I grew up with. You are born sinful… and places like this are where you go when you’re seeking validation for that sin, rather than to cleanse yourself from it. Our goal in life should be to align ourselves with folks who convict us of our sin in order to help us to learn to walk closer with the Lord.

    • Past Letter Writer

      HJ, I feel your pain. It is not as easy to leave those teachings behind as we think. And I don’t want to leave all the teachings behind because I learned some wonderful things that I will hold forever. But I am really really tired of being judged on every single move I make. It makes me just want to throw my hands up and say “You win, I am worthless, bring on the fire.” LOL

    • vj

      More and more, I am becoming convinced that this line of ‘thinking’ is one of the false gospels we are warned about. The True Gospel is that Jesus SETS US FREE – not free to do evil [=hurt people], but free do to good [=love/serve/help people].

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.swaffar Michael Swaffar via Facebook

    NO thanks. Last time I was the only one who showed up.

  • http://nagamakironin.blogspot.com Michael Mock

    Nicely said.

  • http://rayodiorne.com Ray

    H.L. Mencken once wrote that a particular breed of Christian is constantly bothered by the possibility that someone, somewhere, might be having a good time. If we shift the issue from the purpose and nature of sex to the concept of enjoying life, we find ourselves in a realm where no one is allowed to smile, a neo-puritanical world. Did you know that in the original puritanical colony, back in them thar days, clergy were not allowed to say anything humorous from the pulpit? The first time, the minister was spoken to by the deacons. The second time, he was reprimanded by the whole diaconate. Third time, oh foolish one, driven out of the church altogether…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-C-Minnick/1253018542 Laura C. Minnick via Facebook

    Orgies usually require that you disrobe. I’m a 47-year-old mother of three, and you do NOT want me to disrobe in public!

    • Lymis

      Maybe that’s why they are always drunken orgies, rather than, you know, the sober and more deliberate kind.

      • Diana A.

        Ya’ know?

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

      WE’LL be the judge of that!

      Judges saaaaay: You can keep your shoes on.

      • LSS

        It’s funnier with SOCKS and shoes.

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

          No. Saying “socks and shoes” times out too long. What WOULD have been funnier is “You can keep on your shoes” — “shoes,” at the end, rocks. But, you know. Parsing out that stuff takes time. I have a life. Well. Sort of.

          • LSS

            the socks only need to be in the mental image.

            Maybe i watched too much british tv back when we had tv but there were some visually unforgettable jokes about old british guys having sex with their socks on.

      • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

        *Hums the song ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’*

  • http://JohnShore.com karen thomas

    This is Brilliant and true. Nothing does hurt Christ more than hate and judgement. Of course there is sin, hwever, when we see that sin, is it up to us to punish or pass judgement on that or is that up to God? I have heard so many “Christians” saying that they will be persecuted. What it appears to me is that they ar the ones doing the persecuting. They are hurting their brothers and sisters, when they should be showing love, acceptance and support, not condemning them for whatever reason.

    I believe that god is about love, but he is also about forgiveness. Have we all forgotten the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have done to you?” I believe in God, and Jesus: I pray before i eat, I pray for my children before they go to bed every night. I pray for my friends and family all the time, and of course i pray for my own needs, and i thank the Lord for what he has given me. I am not well versed in the bible, so i cannot quote scripture as well as many, but i do know that in the new testament, that instead of “an eye for an eye” Jesus then said to “turn the other cheek” I also know that Jesus died on that cross, so that we could all join him in Heaven, so that we could all be forgiven for our sins, and we all have sins.

    I do not believe that love is ever a sin, i do believe in the “gay” gene if you will. I do not believe that being homosexual is a choice, if i was a choice, why would people not, i don’t know, choose to go back when they started having people vandalize their cars, homes, shunning them at work, beating them to pulp, yelling at them that they are going to Hell. I watched a video on choice, and it asked people “when did you choose to become straight?”

    As far as abortion goes, something for all Christians to think about is Mary of Magdalene. It has been suggested, strongly, that she was a prostitute, and Jesus loved her. He supported her. Now i did see something different on the history channel about that a few days ago, that she was not a prostitute, and if she was or if she wasn’t it made no difference to Jesus. I speak with experience that when a woman makes the choice, usually out of desperation, to have an abortion, she does not walk out of that clinic feeling free, relieved, happy like nothing ever happened.

    I think that Carrie Bradshaw said it best when asked by her friend Miranda as to when she got past having her abortion 20 years before: she said “any day now.” The fact is that the Lord knows what is in your heart, he knows what it is that you are going through. So he knows why we do what we do, and he will forgive us every time.

    • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

      Thanks for putting things so succinctly. Like you, I believe in a God of love, so it always disappoints me when people distort His message to justify their cruel need to pass judgement on other people. What Bible are they reading that has them think God gives them the right to do so?

      • Past Letter Writer

        Karen, thank you for those words. You don’t know how much they mean. “Any day now.” I love this group of people!

  • http://www.facebook.com/valeriebarlowhorton Valerie Barlow Horton via Facebook

    Hahahahahahaha slow cats!!

    • LSS

      I’m still worrying about the slow cats (*_*)

      • Soulmentor

        Don’t. There’s still those claws. They know rather well how to use them.

  • Kajikit

    I guess I’d better keep the cats indoors…

    Seriously, you are so right John. My former friends are convinced that I’m going to end up spending the rest of eternity in Hell because I dare to go to a church that extends God’s love to EVERYONE who wants to know it, no strings attached, and I worship each week with (shock, horror) openly gay people sitting next to me. They’re more open, loving, accepting, and caring than anybody I ever used to know! Maybe I should suggest a drunken street orgy to the Fellowship committee for our next social event? :P

    • Brenda Conry

      I want to hear how they receive that!

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

      too funny, Kaj.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Worthington-Long-Enslow/1284198849 Worthington Long Enslow via Facebook

    LOL at the comments. : D

  • Kathy Grider via Facebook

    I am gay and married, so I can see why the next step would be a street orgy …it just makes sense.

    • Gordon

      Or dog on girl, right? Slippery slope! LOL.

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

      Just hearing that you’re gay and married made me want to snort coke, strip, and then run outside and molest a crosswalk guard.

      In fact, brb.

      • Gary

        Laughing my ass off right now.

      • LSS

        You have a peculiar way of celebrating others’ happiness. Can’t you just get drunk like regular people?

        • LSS

          oh wait drunk = orgies, too.

          Well, then can’t you just send flowers? But don’t enjoy the smell of them too much.

  • Tyler Simonds via Facebook

    I actually laughed out loud, oh man.

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Oh, don’t knock the auto-sexuals. Have you seen the new Fiat commerical? Hahahaha. Though if you’re nude and humping my mailbox, you know I’m taking pictures and putting them on the Internet, right?

    As for the “outside agent to morality” thing… I have a weird mix. What I mean is, I really believe in doing the right thing because I think it’s right. I didn’t hug a crying co-worker (how good are you guys at praying for sick horses?) last night because a voice from on high told me to or I remembered some “thou shalt hug a co-worker” scripture, I did it because of human-connection, wanting to try to comfort someone. I even have a little story where I was in the midst of doubting Heaven but still decided to risk my life. When you’re raised right and really internalize the desire to do the right thing by others, you don’t need a leash.

    At the same time, I feel like I need (or “still need” if you want to put it that way) an “external agent” of some sort to feel like there’s a point in existing. If I lost the last shreds of my faith right now, I think the result would be me finding the nearest high bridge to jump off of. Some people don’t need anything beyond the material and here and now to find meaning, I do. I’ve also said to my guy that “If I *really* imagined there’s no Heaven, I’d be comitting arson on certain people who’ve wronged me.” – So you can say that hope of “justice someday” keeps *me* from exacting *my justice now.*

    So, I’m really weird about this… I’m not inclined to drunken orgies, but I’m scary when I’m angry.

    • Lymis

      I don’t see it as weird – it sounds like you want (or need) God as a friend, a source of compassion, and a source of companionship, and a source of perspective, which is pretty independent of feeling you need God, or a God-surrogate, to give you a set of rigid rules.

      Speaking only for myself, I find that rigidity, judgement, and constant nagging is pretty much a friendship-killer.

    • Nicole

      Agreed, that’s not weird at all. I have questioned my faith a lot over the past 10 years, but when I think of letting it go, something in my heart just breaks. I love my God and I would never want to be without him.

    • Donald Rappe

      Your comment reminds me of the time, 50 some years ago, when I gave up my faith. I was 2/3 through my undergraduate years and could not reconcile the faith as I had been taught it (a version of Lutheranism featuring the inerrancy heresy) with the truth of the natural world as I clearly understood it. On occasion when we atheists discussed things I would be asked if I was not a lot happier now that I knew there was no God. But, I found it to be a much darker, sadder, lonelier world and could never understand where their idea came from. 7 years later, after my father died early and with dementia, his funeral sermon called attention to the fact that while everyone my father met seemed to love him, this was unimportant compared to the fact that God had loved him. This struck me as so experientially true that I was stuck with the knowledge that while God did not exist, his Love did.

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        I completely understand that athiests can be happy people, I understand how they can find meaning for themselves with their worldview andd I can say “I’m glad for you” with that. From what I’ve seen from those I’ve met, they seem to find it very freeing (especially if they were raised in a rigid religious setting), however, it seems to be hard to get most people of that persuasion to understand that I can’t see that same kind of meaning *for me.*

        I need to be “childish” as it were. As a U2 song says – “The right to be ridiculous is one that I hold dear.”

        Some people think theism is chains – I definitely see how some people are chained in it, but I don’t see any chains on me.

        It’s like trying on pants – some pants may be very nice pants, but just don’t fit my fat butt.

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        The “God did not exist” line… curious…. do you mean that like this one article I read today? Too lazy to link, but on Huffington Post, there’s an article by an Episcopalian minister titled “God Does Not Exist.”

        What he meant by the article was NOT that he didn’t believe in God, he did, wholeheartedly, what I meant was that God was beyond limitations, beyond the material universe of things we can measure and say “exist” in scientific terms and objective terms. It was an interesting article, actually.

    • Brena

      We all need loving people to react to us in a way that reflects our behavior back to us. We don’t need wardens policing our every choice and step. We will grow more with encouraging boundaries than with excessive boundaries. God told Adam not to eat of the tree. Adam told Eve not to even touch it. And the results were predictable. John does a very good job of pointing out the need for honest evalution of what is helping us and what is harming us. That is not going to push anyone into hedonistic self-destruction. It is freeing and sobering to be responsible for our own growth in God.

      • vj

        LOVE this!

  • Becky

    Ah, John Shore….I love your blog and I love you! Your words have helped prepare me for my own daughter having her first girlfriend. Everything will be okay, even with the conservative, SBC grandparents! I just found this out a little bit before reading today’s post, and I thank you for the laughs. I needed it.

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

      How … extremely touching. Thank you, Becky.

  • Danielle Buie via Facebook

    Oh man, come to think of it, there’s a lawn jockey down the street I’ve had my eye on… let the humping begin.

  • Christy

    I mentioned yesterday in that thread that I was having a chat on a fundy page about the Christian ethics of divorce for a heterosexual couple in which one partner comes out later in the marriage as gay. The general conventional wisdom over there was: No. It was wrong to divorce. Better to live unhappy in a loveless marriage than to break God’s law and burn forever in hell (paraphrasing).

    One terribly sad but enlightening thing that came out of that discussion was when one young (unmarried) man quoted John Piper:

    “Instead when a person marries—let me simply use the man as an example—he takes his sexual desire, and he does the same thing with it that we must all do with all our physical desires if we would make them means of worship—1) he brings it into conformity to God’s word; 2) he subordinates it to a higher pattern of love and care; 3) he transposes the music of physical pleasure into the music of spiritual worship, 4) he listens for the echoes of God’s goodness in every nerve; 5) he seeks to double his pleasure by making her joy his joy; and 6) he gives thanks to God from the bottom of his heart because he knows and he feels that he never deserved one minute of this pleasure.”

    After I vomited a little in my mouth, we launched into a discussion about 1) How creepy I found sex as a form of spiritual worship and 2) the unfortunate yet common Fundamentalist theme of unworthiness. I found it insightful that if one believes this about themselves, especially under the sexually sanctioned conditions of heterosexual marriage between Christians, it is easy to see why one would have no sympathy or empathy for the happiness or fulfillment of other people’s lives if one feels so restrictive about one’s own happiness and pleasure – that it is undeserved. It’s quite a revelation into the thinking and perspective of how some see joy in general in life and sexual fulfillment specifically that might help explain some people’s positions on not only this specific scenario, but about divorce, and homosexuality in general and why some people lack compassion for others in these situations. If one believes they are not deserving of joy or pleasure why should anyone else be?

    • Gary

      I think this is an excellent observation Christy. I have had the doctrine of unworthiness preached at me so much that for a long time I actually accepted it. In fact I used to teach it and when I was an interim preacher I rattled off the same nonsense to my congregation who mindlessly accepted it. (A memory which I am not proud of)

      The truth is God delights in us and has no desire to see us keep speaking so harshly about ourselves when He desires us to delight in us and Him. Now I see such self flagellation as deeply insulting to God.

      • Diana A.

        I’m so glad that I got hooked on Andrew Greeley’s books at a (relatively) young age. In fact, I thank my mom (may she RIP) for bringing those books home and letting me read them. Some might have thought I was a bit young for those books (I was in my late teens) but they made much the same points as you and Christy have made.

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

      Outstanding, Christy.

    • Christy

      There is this running theme in Fundamentalism of the fear of hedonism. This all or nothing thinking that if one little crack gets in to the fabric of society then it’s – literally – orgiastic cat humping in the streets. Keeps things nice and simple. Follow my rules or, you know, meow-wow.

      But I had this theory for a long time of a deep seated theologically inflicted lack of joy. I could never quite put my finger on it. My young friend made it clear yesterday. Sado-masochism in the completely non-sexual, non-fun way. “I’m not worthy….I’m not worthy.” It’s desperately sad really.

      • LSS

        “there is a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in”, an insight from Leonard Cohen that works, i think, in Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity (he seems to have ties to all 3 in his lyrics)

        I still have trouble believing anything other than the unworthiness and “duty before pleasure” but things like that help.

        • Christy

          Love Leonard. =)

    • Brena

      I had the hardest time when I realized that there was no prize counter where I could cash in my “misery for the sake of being good” chips for fantastic spiritual prizes. I had earned so many points and I had to come to terms with the fact that no one was grading me. God never asked me to have a high score. He asked me to explore my life with soul searching honesty. I realized that God is much more concerned with what works and what doesn’t work than he is with what is right or wrong. It is a subtle difference sometimes but it is easier to “fear not” because it is not beneficial than it is to “fear not” because it is what good people do.

      Being very antiseptic is what causes that fear of letting go of the “knowledge” of what is best. But when that antiseptic perspective sees others happy, laughing, and (most frustratingly) in love with God then it feels like falling down the rabbit hole. The kingdom of God is within you is what a wise man told us. That is where we should be looking for it while helping the hurting people like the samaritan did. No high scores with that path but a lot of results.

    • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

      That’s a brilliant point.

      I think that God made so many things for us to enjoy, it’s too bad that some people seem to think that enjoying life is a sin. I can kind of picture God greeting some of these people and asking, “Seriously … you lived in a world with ice cream, playing monkeys, giggling kids, stars, and the sound of rain on the roof. What’s with acting like you were Eeyore with your tail off all the time?”

      I can see the idea of sex as worship, but … well, … no. I prefer to thank God for it at other times. While so engaged, I focus my attention elsewhere. If I’m right and God wants us to enjoy those things which He made enjoyable, I think He prefers it that way.

    • Soulmentor

      I did that. I did the socially acceptable thing and got married, created the ideal family with two sons, blah blah and blah. When I couldn’t take it any longer I left in in my 40′s. The boys were old enuf and understood. (Guess we at least raised em right). I can’t regret the marriage because of them (and it probably saved me from AIDS) but otherwise, it ultimately was the wrong decision. I was very unhappy.

      And I disagree with your first point about sex and spirituality. It is not creepy to think of sex being a means of spiritual connection. Indeed, I never knew “joy” or “ecstasy” until I had it with my male lovers, one for 8 years until his Catholic guilt destroyed what we had. I will swear we touched God in our deepest sexual moments. And how can there be no spiritual connection when one is making love under a full moon in the wilderness of northern Minnesota?

      I am so privileged to have the memories now, but GOD, I miss those experiences!! Anyone who calls them “sin” risks my wrath.

  • Gary

    “As long as no one is being hurt, no problem. If there is no conviction of sins, if everything in the world and anything you want to do no matter what is fine, then why did we need salvation to begin with?”

    To me the irony of this statement is that I am convicted of my sins all the time. Every time I speak harshly to someone when they don’t deserve it, or when I harbor grudges against someone, or when I gossip, or perhaps when I am curt and rude to someone. How about when I lose my temper too quickly just because I am a bit irritable that day? All these and more are reasons the Spirit brings me under conviction all the time.

    As for when I am sharing love with someone in a way that is strengthening and God honoring (whether it be emotionally, verbally, or physically) why should I be ashamed? Jesus provided us all the instructions we needed to know what is sinful and what is not when He gave us the Royal Law of Love and stated this was all we needed to keep in order to avoid sin…I guess in my own simple mind it just seems to me like I can trust Him on that.

    • Donald Rappe

      We do not need forgiveness from imaginary sins, but, from real ones, such as the self righteous judgement of others from a position of ignorance of their situation.

    • vj

      “To me the irony of this statement is that I am convicted of my sins all the time. Every time I speak harshly to someone when they don’t deserve it, or when I harbor grudges against someone, or when I gossip, or perhaps when I am curt and rude to someone. How about when I lose my temper too quickly just because I am a bit irritable that day? All these and more are reasons the Spirit brings me under conviction all the time.”

      I feel the same way. The Holy Spirit convicts us of OUR OWN sins, so that we can get on with the business of dealing with the logs in OUR OWN eyes…. Anyone who spends [any?] time obsessing about the sins of OTHERS is not paying attention to their own life!

  • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

    Have you ever noticed that hard-core fundies have pretty perverse imagination?

    As soon as the subject turns to something other than their repressed sex lives, they manage to come up with some weird and funky stuff that would make anyone else cringe.

    I think it’s their concealed version of “erotica.” They make up kinky stories to enjoy, just pretending to hate it. Like how all the letters to “Playboy” start with “I never thought this would happen to me …” fundie porn starts with “I hate it when …”

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

      Ken: awesome as always.

      • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

        Really, how often does one have an opportunity to use the phrase “fundie porn”?

        Thanks.

    • Gordon

      I was just thinking the same thing, Ken. These fundies have dirty minds. They seem to think that, without some severely repressive institutional Christianity, we would succumb to our depraved desires. Um, excuse me, but I don’t have any depraved desires. I really don’t. I never have. And I think I’m in the majority here.

      And one of the dirtiest minds of all is Rick Santorum. He thinks that if we permit same-sex marriage, the next thing we’ll be demanding is sex with dogs. What a pervert.

      • Christy

        Who knew it was really cats. Pfft.

      • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

        I like dogs, but I’m with you … I have no interest in engaging in sex with them.

    • Diana A.

      Remember that scene on “Moscow on the Hudson” when the KGB guy goes into (Bloomingdales? Macy’s? Something)? “Decadence!” he says with a gleam in his eyes.

      Same church, different pew.

      • http://thethreews.wordpress.com Ken Leonard

        I’ve never seen that movie, but I can certainly see that.

        • Diana A.

          I only saw the first part of it (I think I was at somebody’s house and it was on HBO or something) but that scene really stuck out in my mind.

          • Brena

            Very accurate. And, that is all I remember from that movie, too.

  • Tammy Lubbers via Facebook

    “…shameless, immoral, out-of-control pig.” LOL! You have such a good way of putting things! Love you, John!

  • Gordon

    These comments are absolutely hilarious! What a way to cheer myself up after a really rotten day. Thanks all!!!

    • Nicole

      Agreed, Gordon! This comment stream is totally creative, insightful and a downright hoot!

  • Cynthia Haug-West via Facebook

    Oh Em Gee, John, you crack me up. And all your commenters crack me up, too. Blessings upon all of you!

  • Gary

    Another interesting thing about these crazy sex negative hysterical rants the fundies go on is the fact that according to much study…the more sexually repressed a society is, the more abnormal and deviant sexual behavior will be present.

    I other words…they literally bear much blame for the behaviors they seem so fixated on.

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

      Right? Same principal that makes the compressive steam engine so powerful.

      • Gary

        Exactly!!

    • Brena

      When we insist on labeling people as perverts or freaks then we push them into acting like it. When someone cannot change the love in their heart they will change their identity to fit that love.

      • Diana A.

        Yes. This is true too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/YomyIsnot Yomy Isnot via Facebook

    What could grieve God more? Killing hundreds of thousands based on that hate.

  • LSS

    man, i thought this was going to be a post about Mardi Gras, from the title. It was pretty good though. I never knew why people had to do that, i thought (back then) that they did it because they were right.

  • Jeff Blackshear via Facebook

    Wait, I missed *another* one?! #&%^!

  • Andrea Claassen

    Damn… the title had so much promise. (Phil, if we could move it indoors, I’d certainly appreciate it. It actually snowed up here in Michigan today.)

  • http://www.synergebooks.com Annie Nutt

    I enjoyed this post, John Shore. The fact that you are a Christian humorist is just awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NEWolfe Nathaniel Wolfe via Facebook

    fantastic!

  • Brian W

    Some of what you say I agree with, but “No Harm = No Sin” is definitely not a biblically supported statement. Sin is transgression of God’s Law, a person can definitely transgress the Law of God and harm no one in the process, it is still sin however. It seems that people may believe that something is sin only if someone is harmed, the Bible makes no such distinction. As David wrote in Psalm 51:4 “Against thee and thee alone have I sinned”. Love is not the “trump everything” card by which we determine what is sin or not sin – God’s Word is the authority, not love in and of itself.

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

      Brian: Respectfully asking: what would be an example of a sin that harms no one but that you would still consider a sin?

      • Brian W

        Atheism, pride, love of money, worshipping creation more than the Creator, blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, thinking evil, lusting in your heart, not being content with what you have, covetousness, cursing, faithlessness in God, denying Jesus is the Christ, forsaking God, worshipping false gods……..I trust you get the point. Primarily sins of the heart and mind, that results in an almost complete disregard of God, replaced instead by self-righteousness (meaning in and of yourself you believe you’re living right, because you hurt no one and in fact you have love for all).

        • LSS

          Those either hurt the person doing them, or others, too. Ones i would point to as hurting others might be pride and/or cussing people out (you make others feel worthless), and love of money is often accompanied with loving other people’s money a bit too much as well (see the recent 99% politics and recent scandalous bank behaviour if you are not sure on this one) … Sins that are “between you and God” would be wrong because they hurt you or your relationship with God (same thing, really), not because they hurt God, because God is presumably impervious to stings and arrows of human behaviour.

        • Donald Rappe

          I agree with LSS. Transgressions of the first table of the commandments hurt the sinner himself first, then the damaged sinner will usually harm others. However, self harm is sufficient for sin. It damages God’s child.

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

          Wow. Well, of course I disagree with so much of this. Being an atheist is no sin. And so many of things you listed either are manifestly (if subtly) damaging—being perpetually discontent, covetous, prideful, obsessed with money—or hinge upon terms so subjective (“evil,” “lusting in your heart,” “faithlessness,” “false”) that they immediately collapse beneath the most casual scrutiny.

          • LSS

            Oh yeah i was trying to notice ones that might not be a sin, but missed that. Was always trained growing up that atheism was the only unforgivable sin (as long as one “denied the holy spirit” [iirc] until death, anyway) but would very much prefer to beleive otherwise.

          • Brena

            The only spirit we can deny that will definately keep us from God is the spirit of cooperation and participation with good/God. Cooperating with good and protecting it and encouraging it seems holy to me.

            The only person that can seperate me from God is me. I can only do that when I refuse to grow, try, love, etc. Most atheists are very much concerned with social justice. Kindness, knowledge, facts, evidence, and reality are attributes of God and usually more accurate ones. Too often believers get to thinking God is a magic wish machine or our angry parent or what those people like to push onto others and forget the reality aspect.

            With that I come to conclude that internal, personal hypocrisy of intentions is a sin but not atheism.

          • Diana A.

            “The only spirit we can deny that will definately keep us from God is the spirit of cooperation and participation with good/God. Cooperating with good and protecting it and encouraging it seems holy to me.” Yes! This!

          • LSS

            Yeah, my husband is kind of atheist (sometimes agnostic) and he’s a better christian -in terms of his actions and intentions- than anybody in my family.

          • vj

            Well, I would say that being an atheist is a sin, since it violates the commandment to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your hear, mind, soul & strength’. But since the atheist does not consider separation from God to be a problem, then I suppose we can agree that it is perhaps a different sort of thing to all the other things Brian listed, which, I agree, do cause harm, one way or another….

            A few months ago I decided there was a particular new car that I would like to have. Of course, then I kept seeing it all over the place, and it was starting to make me miserable that I *couldn’t* get one. So, I was coveting something I couldn’t have, which was making me miserable, which was causing me harm. And if I had continued coveting (i.e. sin), I think I might have gotten grumpy with my husband and kids, thus causing more harm. Fortunately, I realized pretty quickly that this was happening, so I got over myself! I still would like to have one of these cars, I still see them all over the place, but I am at peace about not having one – now I just appreciate that they are cool instead of feeling miserable.

          • Lymis

            I’ve never understood how someone can simultaneously hold the idea that faith in God is a gift from God, but that lack of faith in God is a punishable sin.

            So, God is going to condemn someone for not having received a gift God chose not to give them?

            Bah.

          • vj

            I feel the need to clarify that I do NOT think atheists are immoral, unloving, etc. I have beloved family members who are atheist, and I know them to be loving, kind, generous, helpful, charitable, thoughtful, inclusive, ethical, moral, etc.

          • Brian W

            Bro. John,

            I must admit, you do suprise me sometimes. I enjoy your blog, writing gift, humor, wit and well, you’re a fellow believer. I have learned much by this site and from the regular posters on here, one of my favorite sites to visit, to read and learn from.

            Ok, now to say atheism (unbelief) isn’t sin is an eye opener. From Genesis to Revelation all humanity is commanded to believe. Atheism really is a sum of multiple sins: pride, self-righteousness, faithlessness in God, unrepentant heart, a lover of creation rather than the Creator or as Paul wrote in Romans; they are guilty of ungodliness for holding the truth in unrighteousness.

            Jesus even said ALL the law and the prophets hang (foundation, framework, structure) on 2 great commandments #1, the most important is to love God. Atheists don’t even believe in God, let alone love God. So if it is commanded to love God and someone doesn’t, that’s not sin, really?

            Christians are no better and no worse than an atheist, humanly speaking. In fact atheists can be very moral, humble and loving people, but still their “good works” fall short of the glory of God and their sin of atheism will indeed be judged one day.

          • Lymis

            Nobody alive – nobody who exists now or ever has existed – has any being independent of God, and nobody human is without the working of the Holy Spirit in their being.

            You are confusing intellectual assent to a specific concept of God with the experience of living out the experience of that divinity in one’s relationship to the universe and to other human beings.

            Of course you can live a moral life, caring for others as yourself, feeding the hungry, helping the sick and homeless, and living out the promptings of the Holy Spirit working within you without intellectually assenting to an idea that seems unreasonable or absurd. And let’s face it, a lot of religious people don’t make it easy – Grandpa Yahweh on a throne perched in a cloud surrounded by glazed-over harpists eternally chanting “Hosanna” isn’t an idea that’s easy to intellectually assent to, and far too many people present silliness like that as incontestable.

            I think you have entirely too inflated an opinion of God’s ego. Loving God is not the same as having a specific opinion of who God is or how God works. God is perfectly capable of working in someone’s heart anonymously.

            Far more people are atheist because of the truly awful behavior of Christians – and God isn’t going to hold that against them.

          • Soulmentor

            Too many “christians” have taken Paul’s admonitions about the deceptions of the mind and heart too seriously to the extent that they won’t trust their own hearts and minds, and look for pat answers from sources outside themselves. For me, one of the greatest sins is to insult God by refusing to use his gift of our intellects. Sure, we will make mistakes, but that will happen even to the fundies who’s biggest mistake is NOT using their intellectual gifts and thereby NOT trusting God to either influence their thinking or forgive them when they are wrong.

            Currently, candidate Santorum is the most notable illustration of my premise.

          • Marcey

            I heard the meaning of the word “sin,” translated from Aramaic means, literally, to “miss the mark”. I prefer to use this meaning when considering my life because it has so little judgment attached to it. Anyone can make a mistake or “miss”. Evil is not part of this definition of sin. Anyone who cares about their life, though, would nevertheless prefer not to sin again, even under this definition.

        • Barbara

          Ironic, then, that a true atheist is one who does not believe in a god, and therefore also does not believe in the concept of sin. :)

          And yet, there are moral atheists! One does not need the framework of religion to love your neighbor, work for social justice, and take action towards peace. (check out the official principles of the Unitarian Universalists) What is wrong with that life? Is God really so emotionally fragile that one can “sin” or hurt him by not believing in him?

        • DR

          Pride and love of money don’t hurt people? I think those are two sins that hurt people the most!

          • Brian W

            DR,

            They CAN hurt people, but not necessarily so like stealing, lying, audultery, swift to shed blood, murder etc.

          • vj

            ALL sin causes harm – that’s precisely why God instructs us not to sin (so that we do not harm ourselves and/or others). Any violation of the 10 Commandments causes harm. Anything that interrupts the perfect unity we are designed to have between ourselves and God, and between ourselves and others, IS harm. As DR alluded, pride/greed/selfishness ultimately cause the MOST harm – they might not be as obvious or dramatic as murder and adultery, but they are a toxic mist that corrodes our innermost being. Jesus Himself teaches that murder etc begin in the heart.

            There may be harm that is not due to sin (accidents), but I really don’t see that there is any sin that does not ultimately hurt at least the sinner.

    • Diana A.

      “As David wrote in Psalm 51:4 ‘Against thee and thee alone have I sinned’.”

      All else aside, David (if he was the one who actually wrote that psalm) was wrong. He didn’t just sin against God, though certainly he did sin against God. He also sinned against:

      1) His troops. What was he doing on the rooftop of his palace anyway? Shouldn’t he have been with his troops while they were in battle?

      2) Bathsheba. Did Bathsheba even have a choice in the matter? I’m not saying that she wouldn’t have consented. But David’s the king and she is a foreign woman whose foreigner husband is in David’s army. Would she have dared to say “no” even if “no” was what she felt?

      3) Uriah–Part One. At any rate, David certainly sinned against Uriah by engaging in sexual relations with Uriah’s wife behind Uriah’s back.

      4) Uriah–Part Two. Then David compounds his sin by trying to get Uriah to go home and have sex with Bathsheba so that Uriah would be fooled into thinking that he impregnated his own wife.

      5) Uriah–Part 3. Then when Uriah proves to be the better man by refusing to go home to his wife while his commander and the rest of the troops are fighting, David arranges to have him killed. I’d call that a sin.

      So no, David did not just sin against God.

    • Brena

      What part of this contradicts “no harm=no sin”?

      1Cr 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

      • Brena

        If consenting adults are determined to honor and care for each other in love then that is pretty darn edifying.

      • Brian W

        Brena,

        Tha verse must be interpreted in context of the entire first letter to the Corinthians. It is unwise to pull a single verse some Scripture and base a doctrine or philosophy around it. For example what “things” was Paul referring to? Doctrine must be based on a proper hermeneutic of Scripture and stand up to “comparing Scripture with Scripture”, that’s why “no harm = no sin” doesn’t stand-up to Scriptural scrutiny.

        • DR

          Brian you didn’t answer the question.

          And how is a love of money not hurting anyone? Can you say more about why you don’t believe pride causes harm?

          • Brian W

            One of my best friends daughter recently passed her Horace and is now a surgeon. I have known her for her entire life and by all accounts she is a wonderful daughter, friend and person. Wouldn’t harm a fly but. I talked with her recently for quite some time at a party her dad had and it was clear she loves money. She’s not harming anyone with this love and infatuation with money, but earning money is far more important to her than God is.

            As for pride well it is one of the primary reasons a person doesn’t believe in God. They’re too proud to live by faith, only by sight and “evidence”. They harm no one, but pride stands between them and the foot of the Cross.

            The love of money can be so powerful it can cause harm, but it doesn’t have to. Biblically speaking you can be a very kind, loving, caring, humble person that hurts no one, but if earning money (being successful) is more important than loving God, that’s sin. The same with pride it most certainly can cause harm

            to people, but it doesn’t always.

          • Don Rappe

            It is true that simply sin=harm may well tempt people to artful dodging in practice. I agree with the prophet that nothing is required except to love mercifully, do justly and walk humbly. The reason atheism is neither mentioned nor prohibited in the commandments is because the problem at the time revolved around too many Gods, not one too few. The God who wanted people to sacrifice their first son as a burnt offering was particularly harmful. The atheist has followed the first commandment to have no false Gods. He/she is not aware 0f encountering any other kind. The divine presence(s) which once were so obvious, now seems hidden from many. The problem for believers is to explain God to atheists in a way which does not make him a false god. I wonder how many Christians really believe in God who is Uncreate.

        • Soulmentor

          ******It is unwise to pull a single verse some Scripture and base a doctrine or philosophy around it.*******

          How ironic you would make that point. Is is precisely the definition of fundamentalist theology.

  • mike moore

    I’d comment on this wonderful post, but I have a drunken street orgy to get to.

    • Frankie

      an address please….we all need the address…we wouldn’t want to miss it. lol

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

        I’d ask for someone to pick me up on the way, but I have a hellish cold and I think having to stop and sneeze or beg for a new kleenex every three minutes would be no fun for all involved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kilecarr Karen Kile Carr via Facebook

    OK, I do not want to sound like a fundamentalist here, so I hope that is not the way that this comes across. For very few individuals is sex a no-consequences or no strings attached activity. God commands us to be with only one person eg. wait until marriage, because he wants to save us pain. For me at least, relationships that involved sex were much more painful break ups than ones without. God is a loving parent, he wants to save his children from pain.
    I now have a daughter and I do hope that she has only one lover in life, not because I want her to be a prude, but because I never want to see her heart torn from her chest and broken. As a parent that will break my heart, so I know that every time our hearts are shattered, God’s heart breaks as well. That is what parents do…
    However, I know that she will not always listen to my “wisdom”, and it will not be a reflection of her lack of love or devotion to me. I can tell at 2 that she is going to have just as hard headed as her mom, and she is going to have to learn things the hard way. The same way, when I didn’t listen to God, it wasn’t a representation of my lack of love of God, it was just my hard hardheadedness. It lead to my heartache, that God was trying to prevent because of his love.
    If you look at most of God’s “rules” they are basically God just being a parent wanting to prevent us from being self destruction. When we break God’s “rules” it is not because we don’t love God or trust in him, it is just us being human. It is not an excuse, it is human nature.
    I wish that there had been people like John whose wisdom I could have read when I was going through those heart aches when I was younger, because my fundamentalist upbringing made me thing that I couldn’t have a relationship with God while having sex with my boyfriend. It was this same upbringing that made me feel unworthy to turn to God for comfort when things ended badly and I was heartbroken.
    This all sounded much more eloquent in my head….

    • Past Letter Writer

      Karen, I completely understand what you are saying and it was quite eloquent I think. When we are brought up to be so ashamed of any “wrong doing” it just drives us away from God instead of to Him. And what a shame and what a loss of communion we experience. Like you, I wish I had found out much earlier in life that I really could come, “Just As I Am” and not just during an altar call, but every single day.

    • Amy

      Karen, while I understand the desire to have your daughter avoid the heartache of breakups, I assure you that not having more than one lover in her life is absolutely NO guarantee of freedom from or even a minimizing of heartache. Even of romantic heartache. She could have one lover/husband who treats her poorly, or who cheats on her, or who without any intention to cause pain realizes he loves another. She might even have a husband who realizes after the marriage that he is not sexually attracted to her. (That’s not the end of the world but it is likely to cause heartache.) So since you cannot truly avoid some heartache in life, might as well not make that the central premise of one’s relationship philosophy. Monogamy (or attempted monogamy, since monogamous males are apparently a likely minority of men) is no guarantee of anything. Also, if God makes it so crystal clear that marriage is one-man-one-woman period, then why are there so many polygamous but apparently holy men in the OT (Jacob, David, etc.) Of course you could stick with the NT, but Jesus came “not to abolish the law (ie. the OT) but to fulfill it.” I agree that God wants to prevent us from self-destructiveness, but I can’t get from that to any insistence on monogamy or (heterosexuality). I honestly wish I understood more of what God considers true wrong-doing, but I have a harder and harder time thinking that what the Bible defines as sinful or wrong in fact is really so. (Do you wear clothing of mixed fiber? That’s an abomination. Unless it’s not and it just reflects some sociological oddity of the time, like the ban on shellfish).

      • Soulmentor

        Seems to me that, more often than not, it is not so much the Bible that defines sin as the fundies who interpret it and feel the need to “help” humanity to see “the truth”……or maybe just comfort themselves that they aren’t having the fun.

    • LSS

      I hope i only have one lover in my lifetime because i happen to have found a great guy to marry, who isn’t mean at all, and helps me to combat my own mean streak, and i hope we live to be similarly old ages together. If i had married any of the kind of mean guys that i was interested in before i found him, i would sure hope that divorce and finding someone else was ok.

      Also not meaning to say that sex is only within marriage because for the general population that is false. I used to think i was so holy for still being a virgin when i got married at 32, but really it’s because, for me, if i would have sex it would only be with someone i would trust with my life. And for him it was similar. And if we would trust a person with our life, why not go all the way and marry?!

      • Don Rappe

        I was 28 when my wife and I married. I’m happy to hear we were not the last people to marry first and then have sex. Of course, we were pretty intimately acquainted already, and this may account for why I can be a little quibbly about the difference between actual sex and things that are merely sexy.

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

          Don: So your wife never told you about me and her. Well. That’s probably best.

          • Don Rappe

            I didn’t even know she was in California before you were 12. You are a real prodigy. I always thought that story about the school teacher was fishy!

    • DR

      It’s not “fundamentalist” at all to believe this way, I think it’s beautifully said and there’s lots of wisdom here. I know so many people who waited for sex until they are married and they are super happy. Good for you for pointing out the other side of the fence doesn’t always have to be something wrong.

      • Gary

        That’s really the point isn’t it? That we are free to determine what works for us and not fear that our own choices are wrong just because they are not someone else’s choices.

  • Frankie

    I’ve always wondered why, if they are so “perfect” and “holy”, they spend the majority of their day thinking about what other people are doing sexually. Seriously these people need to get a life.

    The fundy’s doth protest too much, me thinks.

    • abracadabra

      Yup, I think it is an “licit” way to think “impure” thoughts! I am pretty sure all but the most adventurous sexual “libertines” spend far less time thinking about ways to be creative sexually than do the conservative Christians who are so concerned with sexual morality.

      Forgive me if I am showing my ignorance… but I thought Jesus spent remarkably little time addressing sexual morality and that can easily be read as being faithful to one’s vows and not exploiting people than the sex act itself.

      And, of course, Joseph’s response to the Virgin Birth, can easily be read as an example of how Christians should treat what apparent slips of sexual morality: accepting with understanding and grace. Sure, he was dealing with the Son of God, but I am pretty sure we are all dealing with Children of God – and short of a visit from an archangel telling us otherwise, how can we know we aren’t called to follow Joseph’s example? Joseph doesn’t often get the credit he deserves for bucking social norms to be accepting and loving.

    • Soulmentor

      They’re just envious.

  • Linnea

    Oh, dear! I’m sitting here laughing my rear off. Between John and all the commenters, this is one of the funniest things I’ve read in quite awhile.

    Seriously, though, I subscribe to the rule of “live your life from a place of love, and you’ll be fine.” It took me a long time to get over the teaching of “you are unworthy, and unless you believe just the right things, you are condemned for all of eternity.” God is love, and although I believe there will be some kind of reckoning one day for those who don’t live their lives by that rule, I think it will be more along the lines of correction, rather than punishment.

    John, you are such a breath of fresh air. Blessings upon you, and keep up the great work.

  • Past Letter Writer

    I just wish this blog had a “like” or “LOVE” button after each comment, because I will have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome if I try to say LOL, OMG, ROFL, LMAO, etc. to every single comment! John, you always have a way of putting things in perspective and the members on this page are the cheese to your wine. Speaking of wine…that is always my choice of drink when planning a street orgy! I can’t believe I have learned to laugh again. Feels good so it must be wrong..heehee

    • Donald Rappe

      Heeheeheehee!

  • Kirk Childress via Facebook

    promises, promises.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christydianefarr Christy Equality Farr via Facebook

    You’re killing me. I haven’t even read it yet.

  • Janie

    I just got a chance to read this blog….probably because I was chasing my husband around the neighborhood as he randomly humped lawn ornaments and cats (not just the slow ones). I guess he already read it.

    Well said, Sir. Well said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mwblay Michael Lay via Facebook

    5 minutes on 4chan could grieve god more…

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.n.weigand Lisa Noelle Weigand via Facebook

    Let’s see ‘Atlas Shrugged’ do THAT…!

  • Allen

    Anytime an individual says “and we will pray for you” after insulting you, you know you’re probably not the one with the biggest problem. Not that it feels much better to learn this about your faith community…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Valerie-Wall-Hedrick/805875761 Valerie Wall Hedrick via Facebook

    You make it sound so easy: just read the blog? Are you sure ;-)

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

      Yes. Why? Are you still dressed?

  • Marti

    Drunken street orgy? not tonight, I live on the Gulf Coast and just survived one…After a little Mardi Gras,Lent is looking great!

  • http://www.facebook.com/eva.neil1 Eva Neil via Facebook

    Some people have the type of brain that doesn’t like to be tied down, so to speak. Their brain meanders around ideas like a microscopic body morphing around at will. These people tend to favor the Christian Left. Other people have very rigid brains that bump up against ideas. They need everything arranged in careful, never-changing lines so that their brain doesn’t have to worry about crashing into something unexpected and getting hurt. These people tend to favor the Christian Right. They want a list of rules written down in black and white that they can memorize. Once they have them memorized, they’re done, and they see no need for further enlightenment. Change is very frightening to these people, as is opposition. I feel badly for them, because I think their lives will always be a fight against anything in the outside world that might encroach upon their belief system and cause them internal pain.

    • Amy

      Yep yep yep. We’ve been talking in my (fairly progressive) church about the next revolution for Christianity (about every 500 years the church goes through a major shift and that time is around now.) I believe it will or should be something along the lines you describe. Mainline denominations, it seems, having not necessarily been organized around these positions, still have quite a range on the spectrum, so that one has to find the right specific church (as opposed to denom) where one is welcomed. There are Methodists who are very progressive and methodists who are practically fundamentalists, and I think it’s like that in other denoms. That’s why in post-denominational Christianity, I think it will at first kind of LOOK like “political” distinctions are the driving force, but overall that will be a good thing (I hope) because it’s really this sorting out of how comfortable you are with uncertainty. I hate to call it “open-minded” and “closed-minded” because that will sound very negative to the conservatives (rigid thinkers, closed-minded. But it’s true in my experience. Rather than hate the other kind of thinker, it’d be nice to just tolerate, accept the differences and not try to force one’s own brand on anyone else.

      • LSS

        presbyterians are certainly like that. I was in a rigid kind but i know the PCUSA is now ok with gays even in ministry, which is great.

        Ok but what you propose only works one-sided. It’s like if you see that coexist bumpersticker. The flexibles will say “oh, ok. cool idea. You let me be what i am and i will let you be what you are”. But the rigids, in any of those religions that have them, will have this collision of ideas between the nice idea of the coexistence and their Gods’ mandate to proselytize or at least to be the only real religion.

        PS: (maybe more of a response to Evan Niel but really to both of you) neurologically i’m supposed to be one of the rigids, difficulty with change, wanting to know what the rules are, etc. But i love the idea of the flexible side of things. So i don’t know what that means about people in general, though. Maybe nothing. Maybe it depends on how much people in general are used to having to adapt their brainstyle to the circumstance they find themselves in.

        • Don Rappe

          I suspect you of being able to see the same thing in different ways at different times. This must work against extreme rigidity. The great 20′th century scientist Richard Feynman said that a real professional physicist should be able to explain any physical phenomenon several different ways (mathematically). I think that being able to find only one explanation for things may be what it means to have a “small mind”.

          • LSS

            I thought all people did that (seeing things differently at different times) i thought that was growing up. Or at least sideways.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lawrencedgordon Lawrence Gordon via Facebook

    Running around your neighborhood, naked and drugged, humping cars”….Done it, not much fun.

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

      You gotta find the convertibles.

      • Josie

        I’m car shopping and currently trying to decide between two cars. One’s a convertible. Yuck. Thanks for making that choice SO much easier! :-)

        • Gary

          I was thinking about getting a convertible recently but chose not to. I am so relieved. Imaging my embarrassment if every time I came out from a I found some out of control drunken orgy happening on my car? I would never be able to drive home without going through the car wash.

          Thank you John for warning us of this danger.

      • Lymis

        John, there are no convertibles. There are only hard-tops that have issues regarding convertibility. If they would just find the right body shop, they’d stop choosing convertible behaviors.

      • Soulmentor

        ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!

  • Eva

    God I miss my 20′s….

  • Michelle Woods via Facebook

    Nicely said John. I love reading your blog.

  • Ellen

    “Lots of perfectly moral people aren’t Christian. ” And lots of perfectly immoral people claim to be Christian!

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

    Thank you, Michelle Woods.

  • Michael Cule

    When I’m asked what a sin is I generally quote Heinlein: “Hurting other people unecessarily is sin. The rest is just made up nonsense. (Huring yourself isn’t sinful but it is stupid.)” He does go on to say elsewhere (contradictory man!) that stupidity is the only real sin because the universe will eventually punish it of its own accord. Not sure that’s true.

    However one does (as a Reponsible Adult Citizen(tm)) have to consider secondary effects. If an opponent of gay marriage were to say to me (as the idiot ex-Archbishop of Canterbury is going around saying at the moment) “Well, if you say yes to gay marriage what stops you from saying yes to polygamy? Is there nothing wrong with that? Eh? Eh?”

    I have to say….

    “It’s complicated….”

    Thing is that polygamy doesn’t have a good historical record. It’s mostly been a means for Alpha Males to collect more and more women and it hasn’t been anything like a partnership of equals. Though there is always a small surplus of females over males (female births slightly outnumber males and males are more likely to die early) there isn’t nearly enough of a surplus to support the institution of polygamy. And that leads to more and more young men with no women which leads to increased aggression both domestically and in wars to go and capture women from the kingdom next door.

    But now we have people like the triad in your earlier post who are behaving in a civilised, decent way that is providing a home for children and a future together for them. And they and those like them are going to ask: “Well, what about us? Eh?” They are going to try to make a marriage of equals and they are going to want to have laws that support them in the effort and will catch them if things go wrong without telling them they were wicked even to try.

    In justice we probably owe them the effort to try to create Polygamy 2.0. But I’m not sure it can be done without allowing the very real abuses that earlier versions not only allowed but encouraged.

    Oh, and to enter Pedant Mode for a moment: not ‘reign in’ but ‘rein in’. The metaphor is from horse riding not kingship. No, you’re welcome! Don’t mention it!

  • Tammi Carrick via Facebook

    They lost me at “because we can all do whatever we want to do with no consequences as long as it makes us happy and makes us feel good. You just wait and see, first they are okay with abortion” What?

  • Tammi Carrick via Facebook

    They lost me at “because we can all do whatever we want to do with no consequences as long as it makes us happy and makes us feel good. You just wait and see, first they are okay with abortion” What?

  • Marcey Schwarz via Facebook

    Certain rules of society make life easier, especially with all the choices we, as Americans, have. I believe if you are made a certain way, you have no choice. But really, why complicate life if you have a choice? You may not be hurting anyone, but ask yourself, is it really good for YOU? Additionally, do you really think you are hurting no one? Think of your parents.

  • Marcey Schwarz via Facebook

    Certain rules of society make life easier, especially with all the choices we, as Americans, have. I believe if you are made a certain way, you have no choice. But really, why complicate life if you have a choice? You may not be hurting anyone, but ask yourself, is it really good for YOU? Additionally, do you really think you are hurting no one? Think of your parents.

    • Kim Janes

      If your parents are hurt because of their own prejudices, would you be prejudiced to avoid hurting them? “No one is hurt” means no one should be hurt by your actions. If someone is hurt because you’re not following the path they want you to follow, that’s not the same thing.

      I’m wouldn’t advocate anyone abstaining from a loving relationship because society deems it “wrong,” when I know that there is nothing wrong with it (i.e. no one is hurt by my actions/feelings). If I knew that my parents would be hurt and disappointed if I married a person of another race, that wouldn’t stop me…because my parents *shouldn’t* be hurt by me marrying someone of another race.

      • Gary

        Excellent!! Couldn’t agree more.

        No one being hurt has to do with the individuals involved being harmed or abused or manipulated etc. The fact that some claim a hurt based upon their own ignorance or prejudices is not part of the sin equation.

        • Marcey

          Is respect for parents out of vogue unless they are perfect? I don’t think it is our place to “teach” our parents when they are 81, have several fake joints, a replaced heart, several stents, a rebuilt back, battling MHRSA and are incontinent, but still have their mind. Sometimes it is better to be kind than right. I’m all for a crusade, but we have to draw the line somewhere. The golden rule, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” My mom is going through enough of life’s lessons right now. I don’t think now, and maybe never, is the right time to add to them.

          The polygamy I speak of divides the work, not the love. I am in favor of it because I am tired, not because I am not in a loving relationship. lol

          As a parent myself, I know it is difficult to live with your heart walking around in someone else’s body. No one lives in a vacuum.

          • Marcey

            And yes, my mom would be hurt if I married a member of another race, but not because she is racist. It is because I am already married! She would be hurt if I married another, period. I am not going to try to teach her to wrap her mind around that right now, considering the condition she is in.

          • Gary

            Why would you think I am referring to going on a “crusade” with my aging parents and my choices. My folks are both in their 80′s and would be broken hearted to know we are poly. Of course I have no desire to put them through such pain and I don’t. But this does not stop us from from loving. And if it were impossible to hide from them…such as in a mixed race marriage…then I think it would be wrong to defer to such prejudice and not marry simply because of their bigotry. But even then it would not be necessary to try to rub their faces in it and be on a crusade.

          • DR

            What in the world does teaching your mom about this topic have to do with the actual topic at hand? Talk about derailing a topic.

          • Gary

            Yeah no doubt.

  • Marcey Schwarz via Facebook

    Ok, so how about some polygamy? After my mom passes, I am so moving to Utah!

  • Marcey Schwarz via Facebook

    Ok, so how about some polygamy? After my mom passes, I am so moving to Utah!

    • Kim Janes

      I feel the same way about polygamy as I feel about fundamentalist Christianity. As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, and no one is indoctrinated into a way of life without being educated about alternatives and making their own decisions, I’m OK with it.

      If polygamy is all they’ve ever known…and they grow up thinking it’s their only choice or they’ll go to hell, I think it’s wrong. I feel the same way about fundamentalist Christianity. If a woman is told all her life that she has to be subservient to her husband or she’ll go to hell…and she grows up thinking it’s her only choice or she’ll go to hell, I think it’s wrong. JMO, of course.

      • Jim

        Kim, you make an excellent point here (and below where you talk about parents and their prejudices). We should all look forward to that day when everyone is “educated about alternatives and allowed to make their own decisions” — then there won’t be any more fundamentalists.

        Hey…. I can dream can’t I?

        • Soulmentor

          The trick then becomes how to raise a child without “indoctrination”. My (now ex) wife and I raised two sons who are now fine, military officer citizens and one of whom is also a Special Agent for US Diplomatic Security (just sayin for background but I don’t mind bragging a bit). It may have helped that we are both college grads. Anyway, we raised them with this philosophy: they were permitted to do anything they wanted to do so long as it didn’t harm or potentially harm themselves or someone else or their property or their spirit.

          That gave them the freedom to think for themselves and grow into whatever direction life and their spirits led them. We have never had cause to regret our way of raising them. Oddly, one (Coast Guard) is now a family man, more conservative, tends toward Republican politically (to my dismay), not college educated but very successful in his military career, and the other (Marine) is still single, man-of-the world, liberal, meets my approval politically (!!) , also very successful.

          It may have helped that my ex and I are both college grads but the fact of my liberal son and my being a critical thinking gay man (which is not a problem for my sons) makes us,I suspect, a model case for Mr Santorum’s contention of the corrupting liberal influence of higher education. Whatever, he’s a pandering liar. But I digress………….

      • Inacat

        Thank you Kim – that was brilliantly put.

      • Marcey

        Polygamy suffers from an image problem. I was speaking of polygamy ala “Sister Wives”. Have you ever seen the program on TLC? I think the Browns are a lovely family. And they wives love each other as sisters.

  • http://chiefy.cafenexo.com/ Steven Baudoin

    You nailed it with this one, John. “No harm = no sin”, and love and obey God = do that which creates love and does no harm. And it’s true, cats have sharp claws. Do not mess with cats.

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    @ Marcey–some of us like complications.

    • Marcey

      I know people who like complications. I also know people who could not live without their problems. It becomes their identity.

  • Brian W

    Diana,

    I like the words of Charles Spurgeon….

    It is a marvel, but nevertheless a fact, that writers have been found to deny David’s authorship of this Psalm, but their objections are frivolous, the Psalm is David like all over. It would be far easier to imitate Milton, Shakespeare, or Tennyson, than David. His style is altogether sui generis, and it is as easily distinguished as the touch of Rafaelle or the colouring of Rubens. “When Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” When the divine message had aroused his dormant conscience and made him see the greatness of his guilt, he wrote this Psalm.

    Spurgeon continues…

    The virus of sin lies in its opposition to God: David’s sense of sin towards others rather tended to increase the force of this feeling of sin against God. All his wrong doing centred, culminated, and came to a climax, at the foot of the divine throne. To injure our fellow men most assuredly is sin, mainly because in so doing, we violate the law of God. David’s heart was so filled with a sense of the wrong done to the Lord himself, that all other confession was swallowed up in a broken hearted acknowledgment of offence against God. “And done this evil in thy sight”.

    To commit treason in the very court of the king and before his eye is impudence indeed: David felt that his sin was committed in all its filthiness while Jehovah himself looked on. None but a child of God cares for the eye of God, but where there is grace in the soul it reflects a fearful guilt upon every evil act, when we remember that the God whom we offend was present when the trespass was committed. “That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. He could not present any argument against divine justice, if it proceeded at once to condemn him and punish him for his crime. His own confession, and the judge’s own witness of the whole transaction, places the transgression beyond all question or debate; the iniquity was indisputably committed, and was unquestionably a foul wrong, and therefore the course of justice was clear and beyond all controversy.

    Me…

    Our sin towards God is manifested by our sin to our fellow man (as you noted above by David’s numerous transgressions), but at is core it is sin against a holy and loving God that cuts to the deepest recesses of our hearts, as David confessed in Psalm 51.

    • Don Rappe

      I agree. When we harm God’s children, we harm God. This is no superstitious belief. It is through the divine Presence that we feel empathy with others. And all those who feel this empathy are aware of the Presence whether they call it by name or not. Even if they are atheists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sspencerwolff Scott Spencer-Wolff via Facebook

    thinks this might be one of your best. At least in the top 10 anyway…

  • Jim RS Bachii via Facebook

    I can only hope.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donaldhildenbrand Don Hildenbrand via Facebook

    Yes. I DO feel a drunken street orgy coming on. Now where did I put my birthday clothes????

  • Jim

    We should all stop telling people that they are “shameless, immoral, out-of-control pigs.”

    That’s what the “church” is for.

    • Steve

      Amen, Jim. This is why western civilization is so messed up: For some 1600 years (back around the time of Augustine, whom I blame for everything), the church has been telling people they’re sinners on their way to hell, they can do no good, they’re capable only of doing evil. When you tell millions, hell, billions of people that for so long, just what do you think the result will be? We have to throw out teachings such as original sin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jos.reyn Jos Reyn via Facebook

    Is this an invite? SWEET!

  • Jenna

    There is no slippery slope. People will do what is good for them, and ultimately what is good for others.

    As always, you hit the nail on the head, John.

    Also, I have never seen a person have an abortion because “it feels good.” That they would even suggest it is appalling. It clouds the complicated, messy women’s health issues that surround it and boil it down to “You can’t do it BECAUSE BAD.”

  • Deb Garland Wilson via Facebook

    I never know how to respond to these types. THank you for putting what I know is right … into words. Very helpful.

    • Marcey

      What do you mean “these types?” Liberals who want to think about these things are such a problem. How to label, how to label…….

      • Kale

        Your comment makes it sound like you know what Deb is thinking when you really don’t. So don’t even begin to judge her.

  • Michael

    in all fairness, a point could be very easily made that abortion does in fact hurt someone (the baby). it would be hard in my opinion to argue that that isnt true. in fact i think most of us here think abortion IS a sin, just not an unforgivable one. and personally i have actually found people commenting on here to be slightly more supportive of abortion than i am really comfortable with as a person (not as a christian)

    • Kim Janes

      Hi Michael,

      As I don’t believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, I am probably not the best person to comment on this, but…I’ve not seen anything in the Bible that indicates that life begins at conception. I think the Bible is clear that life begins before birth at some point, but I’m not aware of any passage that indicates that conception marks the beginning of human life. In fact, the only mention of miscarriage caused by someone that I can think of in the Bible seems to accord the fetus as property more than child. YMMV, of course.

      The support you’ve seen here no doubt stems from those who do not believe that life begins at conception. If there is no “life” to terminate, then an abortion would not “hurt” anyone. Of course, you may have a different belief, but please don’t think that those who support a woman’s choice to have an abortion prior to fetal viability are advocating “hurting” anything.

      • Kim Janes

        ugh, typos! Meant to write, “…seems to accord the fetus STATUS as property, RATHER than a child.”

        • Marcey

          It affords women and children the same status, Kim.

      • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

        Moses distinguished between an accidental homicide (manslaughter) and accidentally causing a miscarriage. Both were serious offenses but the latter only carried a civil penalty IIRC.

      • Don Rappe

        I believe that life began long ago in the evolutionary process, far before conception. What people really mean is the beginning of a new consciousness or soul. This seems to happen in utero, probably about the time of the quickening, when the growing organism begins to respond actively to stimuli. I know from experience we mourn even a very early miscarriage. We had one so young it was known to us only by morning sickness, not yet by medical test. Yet, it changed our lives and resulted later in the conception and birth of our 4′th and last child.

      • Lymis

        I think that there is far more Biblical support for the idea that life is related to breathing that to being conceived. God breathed life into Adam, and so forth.

        Just line a gazillion other things in the Bible, newer, more modern understandings can help us make different interpretations – the clear Biblical support for slavery, for example. Even if the Bible does consider a fetus to be property, it pretty clearly felt that way about others we now agree are people.

        But I don’t think the Bible is as clear on it as a lot of people want it to be.

      • Michael

        the bible doesnt address the issue of when life beings your right. right now the legal position is that a ‘viable’ fetus is alive. that is a fetus that has a heart beat and a brain and could potentially survive outside of the womb. this is of course a matter of great debate, however i would say that once a zygote becomes a fetus it is alive. until then it is not. thats my opinion.

    • Marcey

      Michael, I have noticed people who give this much thought are not welcome to express their opinions in many liberal websites and blogs. I struggle to understand this issue, and quite honestly, my soul is not fed by the bigotry of either side.

      • Michael

        being moderate means being hated by practically everyone. conservatives will call you liberal, liberals will call you conservative, and everyone will agree with you sometimes (but those are never the times they remember!)

  • Lymis

    Reading through the comments, I found myself making a new distinction with regards the harm = sin idea. Maybe that’s in part because I have a background in logic that makes me knee-jerk that “no harm = no sin” and “harm = sin” are NOT logical equivalents, which got me thinking. I digress.

    Seems to me that the question really isn’t so much “what is sin” as much as it is “what can I condemn as sin in others, when I don’t know their hearts or God’s mind?”

    That’s, for me, where harm comes clearly into play. Hurting people is hurting people, and that’s usually wrong. Doing something specifically in order to harm someone, or doing it knowing it will harm someone and not caring, is pretty straightforward to condemn. And the question of whether or not it is sin doesn’t change the fact that you’re hurting someone. Please stop.

    Of course, it depends on the type of hurt. Things like “it hurts my feelings that my neighbors are going to judge me and shun me for having a gay child, so you need to stay in the closet or you are deliberately hurting me” don’t count. Neither does the “Well, the rapist was hurting her, so when you had to hurt the rapist to stop him, you’re just as bad. Nyah, nyah.”

    But when there is no harm, then I’m not so sure it follows that there can be no sin, but I am sure that it follows that whether or not there is sin is none of my business, and that’s between the other person and God.

    One person might damage their own relationship to God by skipping church. Another might damage their relationship to God by going to church and hearing the wrong messages, when their relationship to God would be better served by time alone in nature. None of my business.

    When there is no harm, my judgement and condemnation are out of line. It is none of my business whether there is sin or not. Free of that, my compassion can step in and ask “Does this make you happy and more whole?” and I am free to be present for someone else and help them find what works for them – even things that are not sins may not be making someone as happy and whole as they could be. But just because doing or not doing something wouldn’t work for me, it doesn’t follow that the same is true of anyone else.

    So, “harm = sin” in a lot of cases, but “no harm” is more likely to equal “none of my business” whether or not it equals “no sin.”

    • Gary

      Lymis, I really like this. I too am not sure that no harm = no sin as only God knows if a person is walking in disobedience, which is EXACTLY why your statement works so well. No harm = “none of my business”.

      • Marcey

        Well put, Lymus. I think what you are saying works with people who are psychologically healthy. There are, however, people who don’t know themselves, people who harm themselves unwittingly and say it makes them happy and it doesn’t affect others. Politically, you are arguing “Ron Paul” and I am pointing out “Obama.” Ironic? Maybe.

        I love your thoughts though.

      • Gary

        Although the more I ponder the no harm=no sin statement…the less troubled I am by it. (This seems to often happen with some of John’s stuff…lol)


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