Pastor Harris’ words put to pictures

Reader Kevin Matthews has put my pictures of Pastor Harris to the words Harris used in his atrocious tirade about how parents should beat the gay behavior out of their children. See Kevin’s handiwork here.

About John Shore

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

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

    I haven’t found the Bible verse that says to “Man up” and punch my kids.

    Nor the one that says that girls can’t play sports, or that they have to dress up for Harris’ beauty pageant.

    Maybe I’m using the wrong translations.

    Is there a Bigoted Standard translation (BS) out there about which I don’t know?

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Well, Mr. Leonard, first of all, Pastor Harris doesn’t seem to be saying that you or I should man up, but that we should our sons to man up if their effeminate.

      Second, he says to tell girls they indeed can play sports, Ken. In fact he seems even to advocate encouraging it to a limited degree. He says so, repeats it, and repeats it again adding “to the glory of God!” So I’m not quite seeing how you missed that. Surely the pastor knows that out of shape girls make for unattractive ladies.

      Now as for the Scriptures you scoffingly ignore:

      Regarding “manning up”:

      1 Corinthians 6:9-10

      Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

      Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

      Regarding stern discipling:

      Proverbs 19:18

      Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

      Proverbs 13:24

      He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

      Regarding dressing according to gender norms:

      Deuteronomy 22:5

      The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

      1 Corinthians 11:8-9,14-16

      For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.

      Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

      [...]

      Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

      But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

      But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

      Yes, the “best comment ever”, which seeks with foolish irreverence towards God’s Word to impugn sound biblical teachings, fails to stand up to the least scrutiny!

      • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

        While we’re playing verse gotcha, how about “It would be best for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large stone hung around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to lose his faith.”

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Yes, exactly! That’s why it is so important that parents fulfill their duty to biblically discipline their children, to keep them on the straight and narrow (no pun intended)

          Thanks KellyK.

          • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

            Please don’t twist what I said. Do you really think that breaking a four-year-old’s wrist is biblical discipline, or that the most likely result of it *isn’t* that the kid will decide that a God so hateful and arbitrary isn’t worth following?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Heavens no! Who said anything about breaking anyone’s wrist? That’s certainly not biblical discipline! It is a gross exaggeration to characterize it as so.

            How have I twisted what you said? Unless I missed something, you simply said what another of the many Bible verses regarding the need for the proper upbringing of children is, and in case you missed something, I agreed with it completely!

          • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

            Pastor Sean Harris, in the original video.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdgalloway

        “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

        But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”

        I have long hair, and I grew it just to see how long it could get…plus I am lazy when it comes to fixing it. I get it caught in car doors, it chokes me as I sleep and sloughs off my head as if it were afraid of my scalp. At least once a month, I consider the clippers in my closet, and chopping the whole shedding mass of unruly shedding mess off. A glory?? A covering??

        And then we look at what people wore in the days of Paul…In all honesty their wardrobes weren’t that much different back then, and thus I cannot for the life of me see the big deal. But then Paul was rather opinionated on his ideas of proper social etiquette.

      • Lymis

        I beg to differ.

        While you are right to say that the Bible says not to spare the rod, Kevin is still right that there’s no Bible verse that tells you to punch a four year old for mannerisms you disapprove of. Taking one (mistranslated) verse that condemns effeminacy and separate one that allows corporal punishment in an entirely different context doesn’t mean they go together as a prescription for raising your child.

        The Bible says a loving Father gives his child bread rather than a stone. You could just as easily string together Bible verses that imply the answer to a cross-dressing child is to make him some toast.

        You are right that the pastor didn’t condemn women in sports, but saying that if a woman has long hair and that she has to wear women’s clothing is not the same as demanding that she has to be pretty, and smell pretty. There’s some pretty serviceable and plain, practical, and sometimes downright ugly women’s clothing out there. And given the huge changes over time in both men’s and women’s clothing, even if you follow this teaching exactly, there are very few actual items of clothing you can condemn.

        To the major point, though, “sound Biblical teaching?” Hogwash. Marginally accurate Biblical quoting, perhaps. But sound teaching, in line with what Jesus himself said were the central teachings of God? Nah.

        Stringing together Bible quotes is not teaching. It certainly isn’t even thinking.

        And your first line? That Pastor Harris isn’t saying we should behave these ways but that we should beat them into our children? What sort of evil horsecrap is that?

        • Matthew Tweedell

          “Marginally accurate Biblical quoting, perhaps. But sound teaching, in line with what Jesus himself said were the central teachings of God? Nah.

          “Stringing together Bible quotes is not teaching.”

          Pastor Harris was doing the teaching, and he was NOT simply stringing together Bible quotes. And I was responding to Mr. Leopard’s disgracefully disingenuous and irreverently Bible-impugning remarks that his teaching was NOT supported by any Biblical “strings”, and so I simply listed some.

          “And your first line? That Pastor Harris isn’t saying we should behave these ways but that we should beat them into our children? What sort of evil horsecrap is that?”

          I don’t know. Don’t YOU have any critical thinking skills? You tell me.. what you think is supposed to be taken literally and what isn’t.

          • Christy

            Those of us who come from churches that teach corporal punishment and have been rife with abuse didn’t think he wasn’t joking. Especially given his “I’m giving you special permission” comment.

            Ever been in a church where the minister teaches parents how to hide the marks they make during punishment from doctors and teachers? Ever struck by your parent knowing your minister endorsed it, encouraged it. Challenged them to do it? And that a good kid takes it and keeps their mouth shut? It happens.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I’ve only ever attended Christian churches. Such has no place in body of Christ! But the thief comes into the sheep pen and steals away some of the flock, calling himself their “pastor”. It’s horrible, though not unexpected. Christ himself told us in the Holy Scriptures that such things were to come to pass. This is just one of the many signs that the end times are drawing near.

          • Christy

            I’m also always confounded by churches who teach a literal interpretation of the Bible and who unwaveringly follow unquestioningly their minister, who when called on the carpet for questionable statements/practices and held accountable for them does the ego-driven, self-protective duck and cover adolescent answer of “I was just kidding.”

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Surely you see the appeal of pastors like this? Right or wrong, you’re in for an interesting sermon, right?

            And I’m sure you can see the appeal of knowing that you’re right, especially for people who have something of a tendency to get things wrong, what with the fall and all.

            Now, the “literal” part of “literal interpretation” is the tricky part. This is why we need the spiritual wisdom of the pastor. How do we know what interpretation is literal? The pastor tells us, that’s how.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            The pastor tells us? Seriously? No! We use our brains and love God with our minds! We use the voice of the Holy Spirit, the one Jesus gave us for that very purpose.

            A pastor is a human being, subject to human foibles and further tempted by the power that resides in their position. Would you tell someone that if they didn’t understand scripture, they should listen to that lovely, charismatic preacher of theirs, Jim Jones? After all, he was in spiritual authority over the People’s Temple!

            This pastor has commended to his people the physical and emotional abuse of children. That’s immoral. He has demonstrated that he is unfit for the pulpit, that his words and message are not in line with Christ’s teachings. His position does not justify his message. And “I was only joking” is an unacceptable response to criticism. Show me a single place in scripture where someone responded to criticism with, “I was joking.” It’s a cowardly response to righteous criticism, to those calling for him to be accountable for his words and the consequences of them.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. — Proverbs 3:5

      • Lymis

        “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?”

        Hence, all the pictures of Jesus and the Apostles in crew-cuts.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Yes, the “best comment ever”, which seeks with foolish irreverence towards God’s Word to impugn sound biblical teachings, fails to stand up to the least scrutiny!

          • Melody

            Matthew, I’m confused. Based on your comments on other threads, I didn’t think you worshipped the Bible (yes, I’m using hyperbole here). I got the impression you supported gay rights. Suddenly you’re acting “righteously” indignant, acting as if the Bible is the be-all-end-all of morality, and siding with those who encourage harm to LGBT people, whether physical or verbal. Help me out here–please tell me I’m wrong.

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

            I think he’s trying to be ironically clever.

          • Melody

            That’s what I thought at first, but the fact that he keeps at it and doesn’t attempt to clarify himself is quite disconcerting.

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

            Oh, thank goodness it isn’t just me. I was pretty sure of it at first but half-way down the first comment I thought “oh God, he’s serious…”. Now I don’t know what to think.

            When someone advocates child abuse for something as meaningless and culturely subjective as hand gestures, you don’t quibble over the semantics of how to criticize it…

          • Matthew Tweedell

            As far as I know, no one was advocating child abuse. And certainly no one is now. At least not publically, or else they’d surely be receiving plenty of death wishes/threats at this very moment already.

          • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

            You don’t think Pastor Harris’s comments about four-year-olds is advocating abuse? What he said was “crack that wrist.” Either “break the kid’s wrist” or “hit it hard enough to make a CRACK sound” would be abusive.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            You have to take what he said in the spirit that it was meant, KellyK. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit within you, it might be easy to conclude such things, but his Spirit-filled congregation—whom he was actually addressing, not us—and I as well, have a different understanding of it, one which Pastor Harris has subsequently clarified for you all. Really, take a listen to it, and tell me all the people laughing must psychopaths or something.

            As for what might, or might not, be “advocating abuse”, it’s not mine to judge. But abuse itself—I know it when I see it, so that soon, it will indeed be judged, by its fruits. So just sit tight and see how it’s understood and what it accomplishes in those in whom Christ Jesus dwells, amen?

          • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

            When he said “Crack that wrist,” I heard “amen’s” and mumbled approval, but no laughter. I don’t think he was joking. Even if he was joking, the idea of it being a joke rests on the idea that seriously hurting a four-year-old and making him go dig a ditch is funny, if the four-year-old is acting effeminate. I don’t find that funny, not even a little.

            When you say “his Spirit-filled congregation” and “not us,” you seem to assume both that all his congregation has the Holy Spirit within them and that the people on this blog don’t. Where exactly do you get the evidence for that assertion?

            As for what might, or might not, be “advocating abuse”, it’s not mine to judge. But abuse itself—I know it when I see it, so that soon, it will indeed be judged, by its fruits. So just sit tight and see how it’s understood and what it accomplishes in those in whom Christ Jesus dwells, amen?

            It’s not? If you know abuse when you see it, how can you not recognize someone telling another person to abuse their kid? That makes no sense to me. And why “sit tight” until more kids are actually abused. Why not say “no, that isn’t an appropriate way to treat a four-year-old”

          • Matthew Tweedell

            First, I thought I did say that isn’t an appropriate way to treat a four-year-old! However, it is purely by your own judgment that that’s what he really told anyone–conveyed to any intended person(s)–that they should actually do so.

            And more kids *are* being abused, KellyK, all the time, and you might be surprised to learn that the majority of them are not gay. So why do we “sit tight” and discuss this thing on a blog in cyberspace? Simple: you and I lack certain knowledge of where it is and/or sufficient means of putting a stop to it.

            As for the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit:

            Ephesians 4:9-10

            What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.

            Ephesians 1:22-23

            And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

            Romans 8:27-28

            And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

            Ephesians 4:4-6

            There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            It’s not so much irony I’m going for as completion of the dialectic while also conducting a number of social experiments along the way (I know, small sample to work with, but its better than nothing in giving me the first-person experiential evidence needed to confirm several thoughts I expressed in my mini-lecture in regards to trolling, Silly Putty, and us), with the added potential benefit of keeping the fighters in good shape (as there appeared to be some real weaknesses, perhaps owing to not having encountered much strong opposition around here recently), sparing with them whilst (or at least, it was supposed to be then, but some of it got held up due to moderation and then the subsequent moving-on that people have to do—which is not to blame but to explain, as I understand why you would do as you did, John) meanwhile there was no one else around to deserve their anger (which, let’s admit, was looking for a target).

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

            Putting aside whether it’s ethical to experiment on people without their knowledge or consent, did you worry you might do too good a job and actually convince someone (who may read and never comment, or even come back for the rebuttal)? I know the real opposition isn’t great practice, but maybe we don’t need to be inadvertently helping them out?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            As for the first ethical issue you mention, let’s consider it this way: What is it that you are doing now? To gain some sort of understanding or experience through interacting (which is the same thing as experimenting, except that the latter implies a control and conscious study, the presence or absence of which is entirely morally neutral) without my consenting that you seek to do so? Or attempting without my consent to affect some change in me? Either way though, our interaction, now as before, is mutually consenting. You decide if, what, and when you want to read what I say or say anything in response.

            As for your primary questions: When I’m not picking sides, I don’t then really have any opposition. Sometimes I pick sides, but generally, I like to consider myself a rather unbiased individual, with a couple of really big exceptions: I am biased towards truth of delusion and deceit, and I am biased towards love over fear and hate. Of course, even here, I neutralized my biases to a significant extent, as I was inciting delusion and rousing fear but—and this is key, to me, ethically: I only targeted that in which I honestly believe there to be a delusion of equal or greater significance, which I challenged (so that at no time should there be a net increase in delusion), and though I caused delusion, you for yourselves, under the influence of past experiences caused by others, actually created it; and—with the exception of any concerns there might have been for my sanity, which was something an unexpected side effect, and which I quickly tried to reassure was not to be worried about—the fear I roused it was, here too, not a fear that I had instilled (and yes, I might have been making people less comfortable than otherwise because they found themselves confronting their fear, but I see nothing wrong with encouraging others to confront their fear, and again any responding to or even continuing hearing what I was saying was entirely consensual).

            Anyhow, I’m not much of a team player, I know. But again, my bias is to see an increase of such as truth and love: as for truth, I cannot know (in any scientific sense whether), whether there might be some God with a list of sins that has homosexuality right at the top, or not (I find it, for many reasons, hard to believe, but it is, ultimately, a question of faith, and who am I really to decide it?); so I know no way in which it would be right to take it into account in my pursuit of objective objectives, other than inasmuch as belief might affect how I regard my fellow creatures, which regardless I try to do civilly, not neglecting my duty to love even as I might rebuke—even perhaps harshly but never [here recently at least] heartlessly.

            So, maintaining that I have no objective knowledge of the truth / falsehood of such a proposition, I realize that I can only really be helping out the truth either way: If our belief is false, it’s good that it be challenged; if the opposing belief is false, its good to find better ways of rightly refuting it (if one values, as I do, truth), and, unless it might soon change from false to true—in which case, I’m just ahead of the curve—then it will continue to be false, regardless of the fact that I might make it look true, and so the only net effect possible, if any would be, through improving identification of that wherein it is false, sooner widespread acceptance of that fact (People who think it false presently are not likely to be prevented from changing there minds by the words that I say: if not mine, they’d find some others’ words—even if misinterpreted—in which to justify themselves, because the real thing holding them back is not reasoned disagreement [as, again, its ultimately a matter of faith], but rather fear).

          • Matthew Tweedell

            “Suddenly you’re acting “righteously” indignant”—truly am.

            “acting as if the Bible is the be-all-end-all of morality”—a fair enough assessment of the Bible, in my opinion.

            “and siding with those who encourage harm to LGBT people, whether physical or verbal.”—absolutely false!!! I do NOT give support to the harming of any class of persons whatsoever, and do not condone anyone’s doing so! Yet even as we hate the sin, we are to love the sinner!

          • Melody

            So are being real, or is this just an experiment, as you said? I hope it’s the latter.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Both. I have tried to be as careful as I can that I don’t say anything that I don’t actually believe, in some common sense interpretation of my words, to be, in a real and significant sense, true; so any association of my position with things I do not actually believe is attributable to some willingness to see it as so—some tendency to make such connections—on the part of whosoever sees me that way. Of course, I can’t in any way blame them, and don’t, for interpreting it that way, and willingly accept to be the target of such anger as may be appropriate to direct towards one who actually supports whatever positions they might associate with me.

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

            The association is due to context. The tone is critical and directed at criticisms of something we all know to be horrid. An accusation against correcting an injustice will be taken as support for the injustice, because in practice silence permits injustice and so silencing propagates it. Which, of course, you know. Which makes the experiment a little pointless, no?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            I would not even feign to experiment with injustice. My objectives had nothing whatsoever to do with it, and I in no way contribute to it, except in sin, which however I do not see where I might, in the course of this, have committed (though I am, and was, aware that I walk the edge of it in several ways).

          • DR

            A gay man or woman (or kid) may have just read your words at a glance and walked away thinking, “I heard great things about this blog but I guess it’s just another Christian site”. And then bailed, defeating the purpose I don’t know what you were trying to prove about being kind to Fundamentalists but I wonder if the above did occur, if it was worth it, Matthew.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            DR, I only responded to what others said, and only in civility and honest reasoning. If they choose to take it out of context, why our we to pity them that? People take things out of context from the Bible is done all the time, and when that causes them to reject the Bible, I think–good for them, observing in good faith what they honestly take to be true. Who am I really to decide it isn’t? Who am I to say Christianity is a good thing in general? As for what I believe, I believe some are called by God to be atheists. For, as I believe it was Rabbi Zusya who taught (I’m very loosely paraphrasing it), if we grow too confident in our God, we can fail to carry out the work God seeks to do through us, as we know too surely that in the end God’s got it covered. And nowadays He seems to be at work at faster pace than ever, and I’m fairly certain that this is in no small part due to the *lower* acceptance of truth of religion (for instance, medical treatment would be at a far more primitive state of development if not for the theory of evolution, and the subsequent insights into genetics and germ theory). Yet, here again, why really should I pick a side at all? Who’s hiring me to promote John’s blog or to improve the site’s image? It’s good, of course, if they take should take away a positive opinion of it, but I have faith enough to believe it also to be good if they should take away a negative opinion. I do not want to give a negative opinion, but I want what is neutral, and moreover what I want is, itself, morally neutral.

      • Gordon

        The Bible is no more “God’s word” than you are His spokesman, Matthew.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          It’s ok that you feel that way about me, but it’s a pity that you should feel that way about the Bible.

          • Gordon

            I’ll bet being a troll, laying your bait and getting people to bite it makes your eyes roll back in your head, doesn’t it? Sort of like itching poison oak. You know you shouldn’t…but it just feels so darn good!

            Since I believe the Bible is a collection of historical documents accumulated over centuries that have been changed and manipulated to support various religious leaders at various times, we don’t have any common ground there from which to have a discussion. I’m sure some of it is truly inspired, but that doesn’t make it the “word” of God. God is all knowing, all powerful and everwhere present. He doesn’t need us to take dictation. He can speak for himself.

            And, as a formerly sissy kid and proud swishy adult I will tell you this: The first dickhead that tries to punch me when I drop my wrist will be walking funny for a few days!

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Good argument, Gordon!

      • Gary

        Your out of context proof texting is so ridiculously lame it truly boggles the mind.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          What essential context from these passages is allegedly missing, that we might find any real sense in this otherwise vacuous remark?

          • Gary

            Don’t be ridiculous in thinking I am going to blindly take your silly bait and chase your little trolling expedition. Your misuse of 1 Cor. is very typical has been dealt with extensively on the blog several times and you simply choose to ignore it. And as for the other passages…thinking you can rip them out of context and try to justify clear abuse with them is laughable.

            The fact that you find my remark “vacuous” only validates it. Your obvious attempt at trolling is not likely to fool anyone.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            That doesn’t answer the question, Gary, but at least it’s substantive. What of your previous remark was substantive? It was purely emotional blather, with the only potentially valid point being if there was something obviously out of context.

            I’m not aware of where on this site this interpretation from this passage of 1 Corinthians has even once been discussed! And I’ve been around here for quite some time.

            What sort of a trap do you think I’d be setting for you? Am I playing with semantics or something? If you have the truth on your side, as you claim, then show it, Gary!

          • Gary

            Hmm…hard to read this without declaring you to be a liar. I will try to give you the benefit of the doubt however and assume you have missed the discussion of this particular clobber passage…though it does stretch the limits of credibility.

            Of course you can begin with John’s book. If you would like some other outstanding and very scholarly works on the subject I would be happy to provide some links. Though somehow I am pretty sure that knowledge is not what you seek here.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Which of John’s books discusses the interpretation of 1 Cor. 11 which implies that women should take care that their appearences conform to the norms for their gender as established by men?

            And I am indeed *very* close to being a liar today. Thanks for noticing. It’s a fine line I walk.

          • Gordon

            This persona reminds me of the Sheldon Cooper character on “The Big Bang Theory”. I hate that show….

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

            I love that show! Sheldon can actually be endearing…

          • Gary

            Well I think this is all some sort of perverse game you are playing…and I am not playing along.

          • Gordon

            There’s something really creepy about this.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            In what way “perverse”?

            By the way, I’m not playing. I’m taking this quite seriously here.

          • Gordon

            I think the only way to starve a troll is to stop communicating with it. Or…is it not to get it wet? Not feed it after midnight?

          • Matthew Tweedell

            You’re so silly, Gordan! Everyone knows that the way you get trolls to go away is by clutching the magic amulet between your elbows, shouting, “Door-toe-roll no-more-troll!!!”

            What? You didn’t forget to bring the magic amulet, did you?

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

    Best comment ever.

    • Diana A.

      Ken Leonard’s comment? I agree!

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

        I did mean Ken’s comment, yes. He’s always so great. (As are you, Diana. And I see you’ve been busy being your usual awesome self on my blog today!)

        • Diana A.

          Hey, I try! Thanks John!


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