Photos show Pastor “Beat the Gay Away” was coddled as a child

Got a son being “too girlish,” or a daughter starting to “act butch”? Then the godly thing to do is violently assault them—punch them, break their limbs—until they stop behaving in ways inappropriate to their gender.

So says pastor Sean Harris, of Berean Baptist Church in Fayettesville, N.C., by way of articulating his support for Amendment One, which seeks to alter North Carolina’s constitution to recognize as legal only the domestic union between a man and a woman. (You can read the transcript of Harris’s rant on the ever-great site Good As You, which first brought it to the public’s attention.)

Readers asked me to comment on this “sermon.” So I looked up Pastor Harris on YouTube, where I captured these pretty random frames from one or two of his talks.

Clearly, Pastor Harris was never, ever beaten as a child.

That said, it’s not too late. And should Pastor Harris ever decide that he is, in fact, in need of a good spanking, I know just the gay-loathing pastor to give it to him.

To see the words of Pastor Harris put to these pictures of him, go here.

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  • John C. Fairlamb via Facebook


  • Matthew Tweedell


  • I agree with the writer, he’s obviously never been beaten. Especially since he’s very… animated when he talks, which is something he’s against. Also, one of the stills from his sermon makes me think: “JAZZ HANDS!”

  • Sconde

    Haha, well played sir

  • John, you naughty, naughty boy! Do you need a spanking? 😉

  • Gemmie McFiddle via Facebook

    Hee hee love the pics !

  • Steven W. Hunt via Facebook

    I kind of like this John Shore bloke.

  • Middle pic on the right row: Take my strong hand.

  • mark schieber

    More disgusting than the words is the congregation laughing

  • Matthew Tkvrprjct Adams via Facebook

    I think the scariest thing about this is not that what he was preaching, but that there was a WHOLE CONGREGATION of people just applauding him, agreeing and saying “amen” to his whole discourse about smacking a kid for NOT doing anything wrong.

  • otter

    I agree Mark, this is a vile example of mob psychology.

  • and the other one is FRAUD!

  • That said, it’s not too late.


    Looking at those pictures, I’m wondering if there’s a photoshop contest in our future.

  • Lymis

    A congregation that statistically, included some young gay, lesbian, and transgender kids who sat there, surrounded by people who were either voicing their agreement or sitting quietly. Kids for whom it was reinforced that church is not a safe place for them, and the number one priority in their life has to be hiding who they are from everyone closest to them.

    Absorbing the belief that being gay or lesbian is a matter of mannerisms – that if you are a butch enough boy, or a femme enough girl, the erotic and romantic and emotional issues are supposed to take care of themselves. And that the “message of love” from their church is “Slip up, even once, and we are here to beat the crap out of you.”

    Some of whom were absorbing the lesson that their parents and community would much rather that they be dead than to know that they are actually gay.

    And, of course, some of them are learning that if you want people to think you are really good Christians, then the best and most visible way to do it is to bully and assault anyone around you who isn’t quite gender-conforming. That you can deflect suspicion about your own manliness by beating up on the queers, or suspicion about your own femininity by being a mean girl to the butch and awkward girls around you.

  • Allie

    His opinions about what little girls are made for are pretty sick also. Unless you Betty Draper yourself up, you’re not good enough.

  • Carolyn Allen via Facebook

    Isn’t child abuse illegal? How does he get away with encouraging a crime?

  • I am without words after listening to this “man of God” I am shocked and sad.

  • Lymis


    As delicious as it is to listen to something like this, then look at still photos that map it clear that he at least occasionally has flamboyant gestures and limp wrists, or is oh-so-impeccably groomed, and make fun of his hypocrisy, please – please – pay attention to how you make that response.

    Especially for those of you who are straight and really care about gay people but haven’t been on the receiving end of this kind of bullying and vile rhetoric yourself, please pay attention and take great care not to use a hypocrite’s flamboyance as an insult back at them.

    Because that’s buying into the idea that it’s a valid insult, even if it’s only intended rhetorically. “Well, you do (this horrible thing) too!” is very different from “There’s nothing wrong with this thing in the first place.” You know what you mean, you know where your anger and disgust are directed, you know your motives are pure. But taking that approach may inadvetantly reinforce the impression that it makes you someone that it isn’t safe to be a bit flamboyant or butch around, and that even if you support gay people, you only support “the right kind” of gay people.

    I don’t know whether this pastor is himself gay or bi. Chances are very good that he is, because this level of active and angry homophobia is usually linked to unwanted same-sex attractions, and this level of angry condemnation of things like mannerisms in others is often projected self-loathing of something about one’s self that one can’t deal with.

    Regardless of his mannerisms, and without in any way excusing his hateful speech, it’s pretty clear that this man was badly damaged, probably as a child, whether anyone actually beat him for his manliness or not.

    My parents loved me dearly, and looking at our home movies with the 21st century eye of an adult gay man, I can’t imagine what they thought they were seeing. I was never beaten, I don’t remember a single hatefully homophobic remark, certainly not aimed at me. While I was called names at school, shunned, and always picked last for sports and things, I was never overtly bullied that I can recall.

    And yet, I vividly remember that by the point of high school, it was impossible for me to walk past any reflective surface anywhere without watching carefully out the corner of my eye to make sure that I looked straight enough. I can’t tell you how many times when I was alone that I would catch myself with a limp wrist or the wrong walk, and literally stop, back up, and walk past again (and if necessary, repeatedly), until I felt my posture and manner passed muster.

    I remember the terrified mortification midway through my freshman year when one of my friends casually remarked, “You know, you hold your books like a girl” and I realized that, oh crap, girls really did hold their books one way and boys held them another way, and I was doing it wrong and Oh, Jesus, if one person had actually mentioned it, how many had seen it, noticed it, and – Oh, God! – known what it meant?

    As awful as what this pastor is advocating is, gay kids are carefully taught to beat themselves up every minute of every day. And, gay or straight, it’s clear that someone taught this guy to do the same thing to himself.

    Yes, you’ll see gay people – the Joe.My.God site is a wonderful example of it – slinging exactly the sort of “he has gay face” or “just who does Miss Thing think she is fooling?” insults right and left, but just like some of the things black people say among themselves, that comes from a shared experience, a shared pain, and the right of a survivor to define their own victory.

    So, while I absolutely agree that this guy is a horror and a travesty and every Christian should be aware that this sort of evil is being spoken – in church, in the name of Jesus – please be careful how you do that, and what side messages you may innocently be sending by the way you do it.

    Because merely replacing external homophobia in the form of physical assaults with internal homophobia in the form of self-loathing would be a really sad outcome of efforts by people who truly intend to be loving. My parents and teachers were very loving, and I still hated myself, because I believed that knowing who I really was would be a huge disappointment to them.

    There is a widely recognized experience among gay men, at least of my generation – the need to be “the best little boy in the world.” Because we knew that who we actually were was bad, and that what we were was evil, and that if we let people know who we were they would (naturally and justifiably) hate us. So, since there was never any possibility of being loved or praised for who we were, the nearest we could ever come was to arrange to be loved and praised for what we did.

    Pointing out that this jerk clearly has some of the mannerisms he’s saying should have been beaten out of him as a kid may be reinforcing to people – especially kids – that he’s wrong because of his hatred, but also because of his mannerisms. Laughing at him for it may take him down a peg, but it may make someone else die inside just that little bit more.

    Let’s not.

  • DR

    Outrage (on my part) feels disingenuous this morning, thinking that so many GLBTA men and women have been through this without any outrage or action on our collective Church’s part. It’s fine we’re doing it now but that we’ve allowed these people to have so much power in our church is a complete crime against humanity. It’s sanctioned, sponsored evil that we’ve allowed to go unchallenged for so long due to our own lack of caring about it. It’s shocking and I’m speechless at the defense these church members are giving this man, as if that text can somehow be “taken out of context” because it was a joke. “I was just kidding” is one of the primary tools abusers use to control and manipulate their victims. No wonder non-Christians call us sheep. It’s a frequently well-deserved title and certainly fitting in this context.

  • I wonder if this so-called minister is himself gay. Maybe he considers his “gayness” a demon to be tortured.

  • Jackson

    Thanks for an articulate, well thought comment. I agree.

  • Mike Little via Facebook
  • LSS

    I know. I couldn’t help thinking, what if your daughter is plain?! or right out ugly. many important women throughout history were not pretty. I mean if your daughter looks like Simone de Beauvoir (let’s face facts) or even Fridah Kahlo (beautiful but not typically, before we even get to her lesbian side) she has no value to him. It’s scary.

  • Natalie Jones

    I used to work in an old folks home. I’ve known more then one parent who tried to beat the gay out of their kid. I’ve also known more then one parent who accepted their their. Guess which actually had visitors?

  • LSS

    Crap. I really do know how to spell Frida at first try, on a good day.

  • Nancy

    Many things about this man and the Berean Baptist Church really bothers me. They are another example of hypocrisy, hate and ignorance being taught in a setting that should be promoting love and peace. If you read their church’s stand on contemporary issues it pretty much explains their philosophy of intolerance not just for LGBTQ but for women and other religions to name just a few. I’m betting there are a lot of members hiding their true selves (read their membership rules). It’s frightening to know they also operate a private “Christian” school. Unbelievably one of the school’s mission statements says: “Treat all whom God has created with dignity, respect, and compassion.” I am praying for him and the people he influences to open up their hearts to real love and compassion.

  • *sigh*

    You make me work too hard, Lymis.

    I was certainly aware of this concern when I opted to take this tack; that’s why I structured it exactly as I did. But I knew this complaint would come.

    I thought (and think) that a very good and direct way to undermine this asshat would be to prove beyond question that his concern doesn’t really have anything whatsoever to do with other people, that he’s simply publicly acting out a serious issue that he has with himself. No one’s making fun of the fact of his effeminacy. We’re just knocking the wind out of his sails by pointing how obvious it is that his fury isn’t born out of anything resembling righteousness or love of others, but purely out of subconscious conflicts within himself. You keep his world as tiny and inconsequential as it should be when you make it clear that his world is really only all about him.

    We’re all as sensitive to the feelings of others as you are, friend. Promise.

  • T

    Part of his quote said that otherwise, “they’ll start acting out childhood fantasies.” It’s pretty obvious what this pastor’s child hood fantasies were. And I doubt they stopped there. He’s probably overcompensated by joining the military, taking this extreme “manly” idea — It’s just sad that this goes on and is applauded and accepted. I know in my experience that this is just a typical Southern Baptist sermon on gays. With my years or church experience, I got the subtleties and knew that he didn’t mean for someone to literally be overly abusive – which is what his whole defense is going to be. But still, I’m glad that what he’s said is being brought into light. It will help in a small, small way.

  • Yeah, I just read that. It made my brain feel like a mouse that keeps bumping into walls in its attempts to scurry out of a maze.

  • Butch girls can’t be beautiful or attractive? Tell that to Rachel Maddow’s fans on Tumblr. 😉

  • William, I bet you’re right.

  • Laura Bradley

    I vote for Lymis for the comment of the week. Brilliant, really. You have so much to teach us all.

  • Mike Little via Facebook

    Btw… his “clarification” was just a justification for what he said.

  • Mom of newly out child

    This disgusts me to no end. How many more children have to die because of hateful bullies like this “pastor?

  • Rachel Maddow is my girl crush.

  • Al

    At the end of the day, isn’t mob psychology what this hatred of gays and lesbians by “Christians” is all about? Is there anything more self-affirming to the herd animal than pointing the finger at those weaker than themselves and saying “they’re bad, they’re the one’s to blame”. I think that’s the satisfaction these people get from going to Church. They don’t actually read the Bible for themselves to see what it has to say. They just rely on the authority at the front of the room to tell them, and if it’s the message they want to hear, then that’s good enough for them.

  • Thanks again, John, for calling this what it is! When I first read about this, yesterday, I was appalled at how hateful this man is towards people he really does not know! His advocating violence towards children had me weeping. I can list dozens that I feel are the same way (I live just north of “Mega-Church” world in Colorado Springs), but somehow this one really hurt! His “clarification” page was nothing but a different way to spell H A T E! I honestly think this kind of “hate preaching” is scratching the bottom of the barrel to come up with things to say, and ways to put down an honest caring part of society!

    I for one, have never questioned my morals, but I have questioned what others think they know of me and my friends! BTW, they, like Sean Harris are ALWAYS wrong!

    But I do have to say, that nothing has turned me away from the organized religion (Lutheran) of which I was raised, faster, than HATE, thinly veiled by misinformation! While I have moved onto different ways of seeking and securing my spiritual self, I don’t look back in anger….I know in my heart who I am, and who I love is smiled upon by the creator. I notice the smallest and simplest of creations and they fill my heart every day. I have the passion of knowing that in my part of the world and existence, my life and my love is greater than any HATE could be! Knowing that this world is filled with people like you, John, is my strength. Again as always, Thanks! 🙂

  • Lymis

    John, for what it’s worth, my comment was less about your post than the way some of the responses were shaping up in reaction to it.

    Just the way I understand where gay men come from with some of the things we say, I know that your life experience has given you the perspective to separate out the various aspects of all this.

    I honestly think you may very well be as sensitive to the feelings of others as I am, partly because of your life experience. I can’t go so far as saying that everyone is, even when their efforts are entirely well-meant, because they just don’t share the experience of going through this and may never have had reason to think through some of the less obvious but equally corrosive aspects of straight society’s interactions with gay people.

    I know the vast majority of people here certainly intend to be as sensitive to the feelings of others as you are. And at the same time, I know how scarred I was at times by people who truly meant well, and if I can help people avoid doing the same to others, I will.

    My post really wasn’t a “let’s all be nice” fluff piece. It was intended more as a “let’s focus our very righteous wrath where it deserves to go” warning.

  • Rachel G.

    Lymis – thanks for posting, please visit often.

  • Allie

    Can we make fun of him just a LITTLE? Please?

    In all seriousness, I wonder if he came up with these ideas because he wishes his dad had beaten him more as a little boy so he wouldn’t have ended up with mannerisms he hates and struggles against, or if his dad did beat him for just this very thing and that’s the way he thinks it should be.

  • LSS

    yeah he kinda says he didn’t say what he said, and even if he said it, it wouldn’t work anyway, and yet it was right. yeah. boink boink boink… poor mouse.

  • LSS

    our anger and shock should be focused at the pastor’s hypocrisy, not at his appearance of gayness, definitely.

    can’t there be a rule that it’s GREAT to have those mannerisms, if that’s what comes natural to you, UNLESS you’re homophobic? or maybe it would be too hard to enforce?

  • LSS

    yeah… the false gender binaries going on in his discourse are crazy. it’s like, not only you can only be male or female, but also you can only be straight or gay (and then you shouldn’t be).

    if i was in his church as a gender-nonconforming, probably 99% straight, geek girl, i would have been mortified AND confused.

  • LSS

    i find boyish lesbians aesthetically attractive. but according to that pastor i’m not the right kind of straight girl anyway so what do i know?!

  • Lymis: I do / did hear you on all this. thanks, mate.

  • Leslie Marbach

    Whew. Glad he cleared that up. Err, maybe. Probably not. No, definitely didn’t clear anything up.

  • dan(chicago)

    I’ve sat through this kind of thing, listening to hundreds of people around me barking like hyenas when the pastor found his target. Makes my skin crawl.

  • Lymis

    That would be my guess. And that he might well be bisexual rather than gay.

    In a lot of ways, I think that there is a special hell these days for bisexual people with a significant or majority same-sex attraction, especially those raised in conservative religious homes.

    I’m the last one to minimize the suffering of gay and lesbian kids, and the knowledge that who you are is never going to change underlies a lot of the gay suicides and suicide attempts. But the paradoxical gift that can come with it is knowing who you are and that everyone around you is wrong. Especially these days, a lot of work has been put into helping gay and lesbian kids realize that there’s nothing wrong with them and that if they hang on long enough, there’s support and a community for them.

    But, knowing how hard it was on me coming to terms with something I really knew was beyond my control and that was never going to change, I cannot imagine the hell for people who have just enough opposite sex attraction to feel that if they just try that much harder, if they just get the mannerisms right, if they just pray the right prayer, if they just act butch enough or femme enough, they can stuff the same-sex attraction deep enough so the opposite sex attraction wins.

    Having that carrot perpetually just out of reach, especially if you are raised in a tradition that says “those” temptations come from Satan, has to be a special kind of hell.

  • CLOSET!!!!!

  • Right. Nice insight.

  • Heather Sibley via Facebook

    I made the mistake of listening to the “pastor” that said to beat the gay away… burst into tears at the thought of people listening to him. Cannot imagine beating my children for any reason. Cannot imagine anyone thinking this is acceptable. Ever.

  • As I said on someone else’s status about this, this dude is so deep in the closet that he’s in frickin Narnia and thinks it’s normal.

  • dan(chicago)

    The most disturbing thing about this is that the ‘church’ is going to rally around their pastor and reject all criticism as being from a hateful, evil world seeking to attack them. His church will likely be full next week.

  • Leslie Marbach

    Now that the dust has settled somewhat, possibly some of our extreme anger has dissipated. It’s good to get angry at hypocrisy. It’s right. Jesus himself showed us examples of this. But in the end, what he showed us most with his life and death was love. How to love. Whom to love. (Everyone, even our enemies!) Only that incredible love can overcome the intense hatred that we see in people like this pastor. So I’d encourage everyone, if you feel so inclined, to pray for this pastor and his congregation that they would truly experience love, that perfect love.

    A couple verses came to mind this morning:

    1John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    1 John 2:9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.

  • Stephen Alan Whitehead via Facebook

    Has he never read 1 Corinthians 15 v 10? I think he should, because this is a post bullying, scare-tactics-using-Paul living out what he promoted in Chapter 13. And as for the actions in the pics: ‘camp as a row of tents’ sprigs to mind.

  • Anne Young via Facebook

    “Freud”? or “Fraud”?

  • Michael C

    John, is there any topic you can’t address without making me laugh?

  • I agree with Jo Ellen. Waaay back there, behind the fur coats.

  • Amen.

  • Jesse Tee via Facebook
  • Holy Crap:

    This guy’s a pastor? I guess nasty little four letter word must be “love.”

  • Soulmentor

    The pictures say it all. He’s gayer than I am. “Methinks he doth protest too much” Hilarious. He would be comical if he wasn’t so dangerous. Evil personified. His audience comments indicate he was reaching people. Pity the children of his audience.

  • Aaron Brett

    Isn’t it hilarious that those who are the most homophobic are those that are scared of their own homosexuality and us their homophobia to descise the own insecurities Fucking LOL

  • Soulmentor

    In a comment on another of John’s blogs, I admonished everyone to be less careless about the use of the word “hate”. I firmly believe that most anti-gay Christians don’t feel HATE for gays no matter how wrong they are.

    But this man hates. This man is the personification of pure hateful evil. And he is so obvious as to why?

  • That’s actually really, sweet of you, Lymis. Such empathy when you’ve obviously been through much yourself.

    That was my hell for awhile. I’m somewhere between middle and the far end on the Kinsey scale. Enough towards the middle that I first came out as bi, and enough toward the end that, with experience, I now know “lesbian” is closer to the truth.

    But without the experience, when I was trying so hard to be straight, “bi” seemed plausible, at least most days. But it took worked to be attracted to men and even more work not to be even more attracted to women. I of course never got to bi, let alone straight, but, you’re completely right, the potential seemed always just out of reach. Enough that the failure was my fault or because of my experiences.

    The hell it created for me, though, was the terrible self-harming relationships I had with men as a result. I picked badly, stayed too long, and acted poorly while it lasted. The hurting went both ways and I carry the scars of both. And each bad experience just added to the “real” reasons why I wasn’t straight and just needed to get over to fix myself.

    And now, because I had those relationships, which did last, which were only half pretending half of the time, my family still doesn’t accept that I’m gay (bi or lesbian). My wife is, and that’s fine for her, but I’m just going through a phase and she’s taking advantage of vulnerable me. I did well enough to hide it from everyone else, even if I couldn’t quite hide it from myself, and now my uber-convincing is coming back to bite me.

    So, just like you said, I guess. A much easier time with people in general, but a much harder time with myself and my relationships.

  • Soulmentor

    You reminded me of Elanor Roosevelt. Remarkably unattractive physically but one of the world’s women of renown. And she did apparently have lesbian leanings, btw.

  • Soulmentor

    And doing it while apparently and ironically oblivious to his mannerisms. I find that to be such amazing obtuseness.

  • Diana A.

    Nailed it!

  • They shut down their facebook page yesterday because they got so many posts asking them for a explanation of their reprehensible stance. Good job people! Silence hatred!

  • Diana A.

    It also reminds me of “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf. How do you keep a woman down? You keep her busy chasing after an elusive standard of beauty–a standard that she can never hope to reach because it has nothing whatsoever to do with what occurs in nature.

    Anti-gay sentiment and regarding women as less than human sentiment are very closely related.

  • Meggin King via Facebook

    I just watched Pastor Steven Andrew’s video. That man is so deep in the closet, he can see Narnia.

  • Barbara Ruff

    Perhaps he should read the article published by MSN yesterday that discusses the propensity toward being gay, if you espouse your hatred for gays. Swish swish Sean Harris.

  • Barbara Ruff

    Absolutely!! “Methinks thou dost protest too much”.

  • Mike Henderson via Facebook

    Grrl, you gots to slap the gay outta them cuties

  • Brian W
  • I know I harp on this, but the study conducted on homophobic men by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, backed by the American Psychological Association, gives overwhelming clinical credence to what we have all suspected. Please Google ” bigots are buggers ” to see that homophobic men try to divert attention from their own repressed homosexual tendencies by thinking that if they are very anti-gay, others will never suspect what they are hiding. Now THEY are an abomination! Proverbs 6:16-19

  • dan(chicago)

    Here’s a link to the local newspaper article. Members of the congregation are reacting quite like members of fundy independant churches all over the country: circling the wagon around their all powerful pastor. A few defend the laughing at the comments.

    More encouraging — it seems much of the city doesn’t think much of the pastor, or his comments.

    I hate when I’m supposed to be working and something this blood boiling(which also triggers memories) shows up on a blog.

  • Sharon

    I don’t think it’s funny at all. Self loathing is always tragic. Even moreso when the results hurt others.

  • LSS

    yes, totally! although i find all of them (esp. Frida) pleasant to look at, their faces have Character… most of them weren’t going to be on the hottest or prettiest lists.

  • LSS

    Yeah… great point also.

  • Mindy

    I imagine that a man filled with such agonizing self-loathing is lashing out in a “if I can never have what I want and love who I want, I’ll be DAY-UMMED if any other man gets it, either – at least not without loathing himself, too!” He appears obviously closeted – bi-curious at the very least – but is so entrenched in his own homophobic rhetoric that he’d probably rather die than admit it. The next best thing is to make every man who feels as he does just as miserable as he is. Sure, part of it is believing that virulent anti-gay ranting will cover up his true nature to everyone else, but I have little doubt that this is a miserable man, who, by living a lie, has left himself no other choice (or so he thinks) but make others just as miserable. What a sad life, what a sorry excuse for a pastor. And how pathetic that a sanctuary full of “good” Christians sat there and took it.

  • Mindy

    Yeah, but wasn’t that study done at Berkeley? That alone is enough for his followers to dismiss it entirely – damned gay liberal agenda at a school like that, I tell ya!!

  • What do I know? I’m a grown woman who smells of *barn* most of the time.

    I remembered a list on Cracked that fits this situation perfectly. The article shows FDR in a dress! (As a toddler).

  • Mindy

    But Nancy, children aren’t people yet. In authoritarian worlds like this, they are the property of the parent until they reach adulthood and take a spouse, property to be treated however the parent (and church) see fit. So if they exhibit “gay tendencies,” well, OBVIOUSLY they don’t deserve respect OR compassion.

    :::::sarcasm font off:::::

  • Mindy

    Great point, Natalie – funny, that.

  • Gary

    As a reformed fundy myself I can tell you that there is no reason to think that a man must be gay or have gay tendencies to behave so disgracefully. Unless a person has come out of the harsh fundamental culture it is hard to imaging the hold it can have on a person’s mind. I doubt if he has any gay tendencies at all…which gives him all the more freedom to spew his vitriol on others since he himself is not tempted by thing he calls sin.

  • Mindy

    Hear, hear. You are so right, Laura.

    And Lymis, I hope the comments I’ve made are clearly aimed at the hypocrisy and his SELF-loathing, rather than any belief on my part that he is (this horrible thing) – I pity him for believing so deeply the myth that those likely aspects of himself are horrible. I pity more the children of the congregants who are struggling with their own identities at this point. I just wish the culture of hate could be magically washed away, so that he and every single man, woman and child like him could figure out how to love who they really are. You, dear Lymis, rock on.

  • JiJi Harris via Facebook

    So far in the closet he’s in narnia? 😉
    I can’t believe people like this. They sicken me.

  • Mike Little via Facebook

    My youtube post has been lit up all morning. Wait till you read the “official retraction.” So, he’s given a not-apology and a not-retraction.

  • Lymis

    There’s a non-retraction retraction on his personal blog as well:

    It seems he didn’t say anything wrong, and that most of what he did say seems to alternate between being unscripted and unprepared (as though that matters) and “taken out of the context of years of ministering to the people of God at Berean Baptist Church.” (Which I assume means that if you had sat there for enough years you’d have learned to ignore his sermons, a point I’m willing to grant him.)

    He doesn’t apologize to the LGBT community, because he didn’t say anything offensive to gay people, who are still deeply sinful and misguided, and should get themselves cured by the power of the Bible anyway.

    He’s also miffed that this got the attention it did, and is confident that he would have been ignored like he seems to feel he ought to have been if his state weren’t in the process of holding an election which will potentially write discrimination into their Constitution. (Which, one assumes, played into his decision to speak on the topic in the first place. Pick one, dude. You can’t have it both ways.

    He does, however, apologize to the other churches in Fayetteville for making them look bad, and promises to speak more carefully (while not changing his message at all) in the future. He also provides a handy link to their church policy on where and how parents should be beating their children. With love, you know, like God does.

  • Lymis

    Oh, and from his blog, a twitter update:

    “Even my apology is being judged by those who are supposed to be the most tolerant as insincere. At this point nothing seems sufficient.”

    Gosh, ya think?

  • Christy

    Hearing his yelling, the cadence, the verses he reads from, the familiar phrases…it’s all too familiar. Those videos need trigger warnings.

  • Lymis

    To the best of my knowledge, Jesus didn’t wear pants. And I’m willing to bet his Mom smelled like barn when he was born. One can only assume Pastor Harris would disapprove of both.

  • good one.

  • Amen!

  • Meggin King via Facebook


  • WOW … this guy is about as straight as Marcus Bachmann.

  • Yes, God is good, but people have a way to make him and ugly, hateful, hurting Guy.

    Though, even God loves those people…

  • LMAO! That’s a hoot…. gay, much?

  • Mary Wisner via Facebook

    A whole lotta wrist action goin in there, John.

  • Laura Ichikawa via Facebook

    All in the name of the Lord?? Jesus help us!!

  • Lynn Caverly via Facebook

    Or maybe the Rapture will happen soon and it will be a win-win: The crazy Christians will be gone and leave the rest of us alone on what will then be a lovely planet!!

  • AMEN brother!!!

  • Nancy Cole Polancich via Facebook

    Amen, let it be so.

  • Nathan

    John, I’m getting a little tired of your tirades against conservative Christian beliefs. I’ve been involved in churches for many years that teach that there is no place in the church for hated, bigotry, and exclusion of homosexuals. But those SAME churches teach that homosexuality is a sin. “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

    As far as I’m aware, the many churches (and church leaders) that you quote on this website are in the great minority of evangelical Christianity today. I would challenge you to say something POSITIVE about a church or church leader that believes that homosexuality is a sin. Or do you think that this is such a central tenant of your faith that anyone outside of your belief system is bigot and a hypocrite?

    There are a HUGE number of Christians in the US today that disagree with you about homosexuality — but simultaneously they strenuously avoid teaching or promoting hatred and intolerance towards homosexuals. I believe that you do the Body of Christ a serious mis-service by castigating the unscrupulous words of the few while ignoring the vast majority of Christians who view homosexuality as no different than the many other sins that Christians struggle with: lust, pornography, pride, gossip, idolatry, greed, etc. I certainly hope that you do not view those Christians (myself included there) with the same disdain that you obviously have towards Sean Harris.

  • Stacey Lang Lampkin via Facebook

    ha! look at that! How very cool…please forgive me for not knowing…I’m kinda new here 🙂 *blush*

  • Amen!

  • Jimmy Swaggert, Ted Haggard, and so on….and so on…

  • LVZ

    Unfortunately, the news media does not report on the many people, Christian and otherwise, who treat LGBT people the way Jesus told us to treat our neighbors — to love them as ourselves. The media does not do stories on the Christian leaders who teach that LGBT people aren’t sick, sinful or broken. It’s not considered newsworthy.

    It IS considered newsworthy when millionaire Christian leaders like Pat Robertson call for the assassination of the President of Venezuela or claim that the people of Haiti are responsible for earthquakes.

    As long as the media keeps giving attention to Christian leaders like Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps — leaders who teach the opposite of everything Jesus stood for — we need writers like Mr. Shore who actually stand up for what Jesus said. Hasten the day when everyone realizes that our neighbors’ sexual orientation is no one else’s business!

  • Nathan: As to your “challenge” to me to state that I see anything of value in the conservative/fundamentalist’s worldview:

    And as to the toxic nonsense that homosexuality is just like any other sin that needs to be overcome:

    You know the long empty space in your browzer where you type in the url of whatever site you want to visit? You can type in any site there. Any at all. And if for some reason your browzer, without you meaning it to, keeps bringing you here to my page, you might want to get your computer looked at.

  • Angie

    “Great sermon today, Pastor, and don’t you listen to those godless liberals who want to tolerate everything but our right to follow the Bible! Hey, so I was hoping you could clarify for me–do I beat my son if I think he looks like he might be walking like he’s gay, or do I wait until I see an actual limp wrist–I mean, at what point would Jesus beat his kid?”

    …Sarcasm aside… my little brother took my PJ Sparkles doll, and my sister’s, when he was a little boy–he liked to stroke their hair. He ended up with four or five “dollies,” because my mom bought him a few more after she discovered how much he loooooved them. My parents were pretty fundamentalist growing up (we weren’t allowed to kneel in front of each other when we were playing at being knighted because my mom said you only kneel before Jesus…), and my dad was not super thrilled about Dolly–which I only know because my mom mentioned it to me in a conversation years later; my dad never let on to any of us children that it bugged him–but even in spite of that, and in spite of some of their fundamentalist family members or friends who voiced “concerns,” my parents believed in loving, accepting, and nurturing their children based on who we inherently are. They recognized my brother as a sweet and sensitive soul who would have been absolutely crushed if my dad had made a big deal out of his son playing with dolls, or if my mom had taken them away, and most certainly if someone had laid a hand on him to try and beat his love of Dolly out of him.

    My brother eventually grew out of the dolly phase on his own and is a 21 year old heterosexual guy. This isn’t to say that his sexual orientation *matters* (we would love him and support him–as every human being deserves–however he identifies), but to illustrate the fact that a person is going to turn out however they were meant to turn out–gay, straight, bi, etc.–no matter how much you try to interfere. If my parents had beaten him for having a dolly, it would have been wasted energy that wouldn’t have changed his alleged “risk” for being gay–all it would have done would be to alienate their son and destroy the relationship from an early age, and cause him irreparable emotional harm. Men like this pastor… make me so sad for the poor little boys and girls who suffer because of his foolish ideology.

  • Paul

    Nathan, your comments seem reasonably expressed, until you dig beneath the surface and see what your “hate the sin” mentality creates in our society and many others. Suicide is the worst, but the list goes on and on. Your belief that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination is not just your belief. It causes real harm to people who have as much “choice” about their sexuality as you do.

    I don’t hope to change your mind about this by virtue of my words alone. Get to know some of these people, toward whom you feel righteous indignation, or pity, or disgust, or whatever it is that keeps you from seeing them as human beings equal to you.

    If you must judge them, judge them based on their character, intelligence and integrity, rather than the narrow mold that you’ve cast of a person worthy of the terms spouse, mother, father, Christian.

    May God bless you, and open your eyes.

  • What a great comment, Angie. thanks for it.

  • Nathan

    Paul, wait a minute. You write: “Get to know some of these people, toward whom you feel righteous indignation, or pity, or disgust, or whatever it is that keeps you from seeing them as human beings equal to you.” I’m not sure where you got that view of me from my post. I am lumping MYSELF in with homosexuals. I lie. I lust. I struggle with porn. I’m greedy. I’m a sinner in need of a savior. I’m doing my best not to be judgmental or hateful. I sincerely hope that I didn’t convey anything else. I don’t view myself as any “better”.

  • Donald Rappe


  • Nathan


    Thanks for your reply.

    1) I stand corrected about your views of evangelical Christianity. I appreciated each of those commentaries that you wrote.

    2) I continue to disagree about the “if pigs could fly” argument. I’ll hold off on debating that point for another day or another post.

    3) No, your web address does not “magically” appear in my browser window. I actually first came across your website by reading the blog of an atheist friend of yours (George W from “Misplaced Grace”). I’ve been learning recently that I cannot truly claim to believe something unless I have seriously examined the viewpoint of those who disagree with me. Hence, I’ve been visiting various blogs of thoughtful people with whom I disagree. I’ve enjoyed your writing – and I don’t encounter people with your viewpoint in my daily life (either at church or at work) – so I’ve enjoyed hearing “the other side of the story”.

    4) I suspect that, in a similar way, you do not want to be “preaching to the choir”. A blog where a bunch of people always agree with each other would be, frankly, a pretty boring blog…. :->

    Looking forward to respectfully disagreeing with you in the future – and perhaps having my beliefs challenged and molded in the process!


  • LSS

    yes but do you view your sinfulness as stemming from the fact that you are into women? Do you feel that the fact of being attracted is, in itself, a sin that you struggle with? (not lust, just the fact that you could be attracted to a woman)

    Because if not, you aren’t counting yourself equal with gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

    As for the other parts of the (LGB)TQAI alphabet, being trans, asexual or intersex can’t be sins because they don’t necessarily involve a behaviour. They’re more biology. the Q has too many meanings so i will leave that one to more experts, but hopefully you get the idea…

    You know what, i could even say that about orientation because neither being straight not being gay necessarily involve following through on attraction, but i’d like to make clear that if you think actually entering into same sex relationships is more sinful than entering into straight relationships, then you’re STILL seeing gays as less than or worse than or more inherently sinful than you.

  • LSS

    Meant “nor”

  • Lymis

    ” I would challenge you to say something POSITIVE about a church or church leader that believes that homosexuality is a sin.”

    John already gave his answer. I’ll give mine.

    I’m POSITIVE that they are wrong.

  • Lymis

    You think you’re lumping yourself in with homosexuals but you aren’t.

    Homosexuality is a characteristic like being left-handed. It is not in and of itself a sin, any more than being blue-eyed, or left-handed, or naturally blonde is a sin.

    You cheat a little when you say that homosexuals are sinners and so are you. I don’t normally phrase the concept as “we are all sinners” but I acknowledge the fact that we are all flawed and don’t live up to our highest selves in alignment with God. I’ll be happy to shorthand that as “sin” for the purposes of this discussion (while reserving other aspects of the concept for other discussions).

    But what you are doing is like saying, “We’re all sinners – adulterers, liars, cheaters, and the left-handed.” One of these things is not like the others.

    Yes, gay people are just as much sinners (or not) as anyone else, but it isn’t being gay, or “engaging in homosexual activity” that is the sin. Gay people can lie, or cheat, or engage in exactly the same sexual sins as straight people – adultery, using a sexual partner as an object, and so on. Gay sex, within a loving, committed, healthy, and mutual relationship, simply is not a sin,

    You’re playing a rhetorical shell game with people’s lives. And you are wrong when you do so.

  • keep the hate mongering in church where it belongs…..

  • Nathan

    We all have biological tendencies that make us more prone to particular sins. “Being homosexual” is not a sin. But homosexual sex IS a sin (at least, according to a simplistic reading of scripture). As a man, I am MUCH more prone to sins of lust (porn, adultery, etc) than my wife is. Does that give me an excuse when I screw up? Yes! But does that make my lust (or porn or adultery, etc) any less sinful? NO!

    Some people are biologically more prone to alcohol addictions, gambling, compulsive lying, etc. We need to treat each other with grace, understanding, and forgiveness. But each of us needs to read scripture and prayerfully consider what we consider to be sinful. Based on my reading of scripture, I am teaching my children that homosexuality is a sin. But I am equally emphasizing to them that there is no place for hateful actions and words in the the Body of Christ.

  • Nathan

    Cute. But let’s get practical. Where does this leave us as a church community? (in the broad sense) Can we respectfully disagree about this issue and still affirm our relationship as brothers in Christ? Or are you going to model your behavior after the “fundamentalists” and exclude those who believe differently from you?

  • Christy

    We disagree with the simplistic part.

  • John Allen via Facebook


  • Christy

    Could we respectfully disagree about women’s equality? Or the right of Blacks or women to vote or hold property? Or of the inhumanity of slavery? Or the use of the Bible to justify any of these examples of discrimination? Or the right of Catholics to building churches in America 100 years ago? Or the right of our Muslim brothers and sisters to build mosques?

    The Church still is divided over the ordination of women and a laundry list of other positional and doctrinal statements. We agree to disagree respectfully about a lot.

    But this segment of Christians who take seriously God’s call for Justice and the Greatest Commandment cannot agree to sit idly by and permit institutionalized Injustice, bigotry, and discrimination in our country and in our communities and in our faith based on another segment of Christianity’s simplistic reading of the Bible without in good moral conscious speaking up.

    This post is about how a minister advocated child abuse against children who act in a way that others perceive to be gay. How he gave “special dispensational” approval to them to commit an otherwise not approved act. How he not only condoned but ENCOURAGED and INSISTED on such a response. THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL OF JESUS.

    And for those of us who have been physically, emotionally, sexually, verbally, and spiritually abused by fundamentalism such as this…we will not sit idly by and let God’s love for all God’s Creation be perverted into violence against children.

  • Heather Sibley via Facebook


  • DR

    Nathan, there are many of us who are no longer going to allow you to keep this in a theoretical, theological place where we “respectfully disagree” like it’s a discussion about homes hooling. A public schools. Thats where youre comfortable, i know. Bit thatsalso you subtly demanding to have the comversation on your own terms or you sill refuse to listen.

    For many of us, this has become as urgent as saving kids from a burning building where unfortunately, your beliefs are the match and the gasoline. There are kids who are dying at disproportional rates than other kids. Gay kids shunned and humiliated in Chritian communities, emotionally scarred for life (even mainstream evangelical churches).

    If you chose to really listeno what gay men and women tell you, when it comes to Christianity? They just barely survive us. So those of us who are Christian and who have listened can no longer keep this at the cool, calm and collected “let’s agree to disagree” level when these precious, amazing, talented, brilliant children of God are barely surviving us and if they do? Repelled by Jesus.

    I can’t in good faith stand by and watch that happen and I need to hold those of you who ” love the sinner and hate the sin ( which is just as damaging as being called an evil faggot) accountable.

  • love it

  • Allie

    Good point. My husband’s mom has pictures of him parading around in her high heels and sparkly sunglasses at the age of four or so. He grew up to be straight and not a cross-dresser (although he still sometimes bemoans the fact that he doesn’t live in an earlier century when men’s clothing was less drab) and became a Ranger Pathfinder, which I think is probably traditionally masculine enough to satisfy even Pastor Harris. Not every sensitive foppish little boy is gay, and not every little bruiser is straight.

  • Allie

    By categorizing something that harms no one and is not a choice as a sin, you do God a great injustice, and distort the meaning of the word “sin.” God is not an asshole. God is better than people, not worse. Stop saying “Well, I wouldn’t be an asshole, but God forces me to.”

  • otter

    So you believe gays are sinners who ought to just go engage in sex with people they are not biologically wired to love, or be celibate, lonely and uncared for. And your justification is the same infallible guide to human morality that condoned slavery, taking concubines and keeping women uneducated and wuthout civil rights. Doesn’t that strike you as just a little bit absurd? A wee bit preposterous? A teensy bit passe? Lemme know when you give up shrimp and start advocating to stone adulterers, okay?

    Just putting your ‘logic’ in historical context. I have yet to hear anyone be able to justify why being gay is still a sin and these other taboos are sooooo last millenium. Care to try?

  • Allie

    Incidentally, I don’t respect your right to be politically Conservative and call yourself a Christian either, since what that means is you have decided to disregard the teachings of Jesus entirely.

    Do you love me?

    Feed my sheep.

    Do you love me?

    Feed my sheep.

    Do you love me?

    Feed my sheep.

    Jesus wasn’t just talking about feeding them with Scripture. He fed his followers with actual FOOD.

  • otter

    Allie….you have chosen the perfect word to describe someone who puts my marriage in the same scummy category as his porn collection. Rock on!

  • Natalie Jones

    How would you react if YOUR son/daughter was gay and living with someone as well as loved this person enough to consummate their love? What if they believed differently from you? What if they became a Hindu? Or La Veyan Satanist? (Imagine Atheism with black magik) Or became a Thelemite? (I’m sure you’d LOOVE Aleister Crowley after all. He seemed like such a nice guy.) Or that your child had not only oscillated between these beliefs, but, when they finally came back to Christ (AAnnd believe me selling off all those Grimoires was a pain in the…oh, crap i just revealed who this is actually about!!!) the Christ that they believed in was different then the one you taught them? How would you re-act to all this? In other words.

  • Luvjustice

    John, I’m getting a little tired of this “Google” telling me about websites that are related to terms I type into that long empty space in the upper righthand corner of my browzer. I’ve been typing things for years on typewriters and the words I typed just appeared on a blank piece of paper, exactly as I typed them. Sometimes on that SAME typewriter I would type the word “computer,” but it never, ever just blatantly offered up it’s own opinions about what I was typing, as if I was interested in knowing or thinking about something other than the thoughts I already had in my head. “Type the text, not the subtext.”

  • Cathy Elings-Sysel via Facebook

    I have no words for this! Who the hell gave that guy the right to decide who is “effeminate” and who is not!! Just wait. This guy will turn out to be a total psycho pervert. He should be in prison for beating kids. WTF is wrong with this country? Are there not enough jobs to keep people busy so they don’t go crazy like this nutjob???

  • DR

    This is a spiritual attack!!!

  • DR

    Ps, those “huge numbers” of the good Christians have done nothing to support gay and lesbian kids in any kind of specific way. Nothing, You’ve let the atheists handle that one. Nor have you done anything to shut down the abusive rhetoric of this pastor and others like him. But you are doing a lot of defending yourself which is about you and has nothing to do with the people who are being harmed. You’re not being attacked, you’re getting defensive because people are telling you to your face how curious they are with the damage your beliefs do. Man up and stop making it about your religion getting mocked, last time I checked Christian kids aren’t the number 1 group of kids to kill themselves

  • DR

    Furious. Not curious! (iPhone)

  • vj

    You know, if people are so keen to cherry-pick verses, I do wonder why they don’t pick these (and the MANY similar) ones more often…

  • DR

    If you’re “examining” other view points, why have you only ever joined the conversation when you want to fly off the defensive handle about something (incorrectly)?

  • DR

    All of those sins lead to isolation, ruined relationships, those who are vulnerable left with even less as well as physical, emotional and spiritual death. Being a homosexual leads to wanting to love one person for the rest of your life, get married, raise kids and have a family for the rest of your life. To put it in the same category is abusive. I know you don’t *want* that to be true, but it is.

  • DR

    No answer.

    That was an awfully quick examination of the other point of view.

  • Diana A.

    I agree!

  • DR

    This literally made me sick to my stomach:

    “If it wasn’t for the saving GRACE of Jesus Christ I would certainly like to punch half of you in the freakin ear hole. Thank You Jesus for saving us.”

  • Diana A.

    Okay, where’s the “like” button when I need it?

  • Diana A.

    I agree with you, Gary. Fundamentalist Christianity may not be an actual cult, but often demonstrates cult-like tendencies.

  • Nathan

    Natalie, I’m not sure what you are getting at. I don’t have quite the same faith beliefs as my parents. I don’t expect my kids to have the same faith and beliefs that I have. If they are gay, I’ll love them just as much. (at least, that’s what I sincerely hope!)

    Everyone has to grapple with truth themselves. We are responsible only for ourselves and our actions – no one else’s. I will be proud of my kids as long as they are diligently pursuing truth, meaning, and purpose. I will only be ashamed of my kids if they give up and live selfish, shallow, materialistic lives.

  • I just had a flashback to the ’80s.

    Anyone remember the ‘8os? I was a little kid, then. There were all kinds of merchandise-driven things back then and experiments in toy marketing. Did you know there was a dolly marketed to boys? “My Buddy.” It was a boy-doll and meant to be like a pretend little brother. I wonder if it was made in response to boys playing with dolls, because it is surprisingly common – I’ve seen this with my passel of nieces and nephews… little boy sees his sisters playing with dolls and thinks “This must be fun!”

    I remember also having a coversation with my fiancee’ about a thing that I (a girl) was into as a kid. When I was five, “She-Ra: Princess of Power” was my life. I used to watch “Thundercats!” too, even though it was a “boy show” and the occasional “Transformers” (this is the thing my guy is really into and a collector of). My guy said that “She-Ra” fizzled out of popularity as quick as it did becuase it was a “mistaken attempt to market action figures to girls when most girls want to play with baby dolls and Barbie.” I was indignant. “Yeah, I loved my Barbies, but I was so into these warrior-women action figures!” And, no, I did not “turn out lesbian” – but I keep a love of strong women/female fighters in fiction.

    Ah, the ’80s.

  • DR

    Nathan, sex begins with *thought*. With *desire*. You are trying to separate “sex acts” from “being gay” because it fits with your theology but in truth, the two are hopelessly connected.

    These sins you keep referring to all cause clear and visible destruction. What damage does being gay cause or gay sex?

  • Before you become too heartened to defend Mr. Harris…

    I kinda think Mr. Shore’s “lambasting” here has a fair bit to do with with the fact that Harris is talking about *PUNCHING* children, *CRACKING THEIR WRISTS* …

    I don’t know what world you live in, but in mine, that goes beyond loving fatherly discipline a child and right into abuse-land.

    (And I am not undiciplined. My father used to spank my ass with a belt – but never over something as trivial as me not smelling pretty or being “too butch.” All kids played in the mud where I lived).

  • Nathan

    Excellent points Christie. I’ll need to think about that a bit more. That’s exactly why I’m visiting this website and trying to engage in conversation. My beliefs either need to make sense, or they need to change.

    That said, I can make a few points off the top of my head:

    1) Comparing slavery and women’s rights to homosexuality is a bit disingenuous in my opinion. Slavery, racial injustice, and oppression of women was around long before Christianity came into existence. In fact, it was Christian ideals exemplified through devout believers such as William Wilburforce and Martin Luther King that put an end to such practices. I’m not asking for you to respectfully disagree while I trample on the rights of homosexuals. Rather, I’m asking for you to respectfully disagree when I teach my kids that homosexual sex is an act that I believe that God has called us to avoid – along with a number of other sexual practices such as pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, incest, lust, pornography, etc. Ultimately, they will have to make their own decisions about what is right and wrong. But, as a father, I need to do my best to teach them the basis for morality while they are still in my care. THAT is what I am asking for you to respectfully disagree about.

    2) I agree that there are individuals who are saying and doing horrible things in the name of “standing up for the truth”. But that is true in many areas of life. Greenpeace has employed some horrible tactics in order to “speak the truth” about global warming and other environmental causes. Does that make their message untrue? Of course not. Does it reflect on the character of the messenger? Absolutely.

    3) I agree 100% with your last two paragraphs.

  • DR


    Christians like to call out MLK Jr has our hero of Civil Rights (and he was). But unfortunately he was in the minority regarding Christians. Christians during that time were notorious about using Scripture to justify why blacks and whites needed to remain separate. We as a church were dragged into Civil Rights for people of color kicking and screaming as we continue to experience with the dignity of women.

    You continue to ask people to “respectfully disagree” with the theology you’re teaching kids that’s *hurting* people. Each time someone has brought that to your attention, you ignore the comment. Which you can certainly do, it’s natural to want to try to maintain the conversation on your own terms so you just select the comments to which you respond. But I’m going to say this each time you ignore it – you asking someone to “respectfully disagree” about what you teach your kids about “gay sex” (which can’t be separated from the desire for someone, that doesn’t add up) is like asking you to respectfully disagree that I teach my kids to consider your child’s hair color a filthy perversion and they should try to love your child while at the same time, consider her hair color an abomination against God. Put your child’s name and hair color in that analogy – seriously – ask yourself how willing you’d be to “respectfully disagree”. Scary, right? You want to shield your child from that, right? That’s exactly what parents of gay kids think about you.

  • Nathan

    Allie, what is your definition of sin? Does sin have to harm someone?

    I would argue that at their core, most sins don’t hurt anyone. Jesus spoke quite frequently about sins of our heart: Pride, lust, greed. The pharisees were only concerned with “external” sins that everyone could see. Jesus skewered them by pointing out that inside they were like “whitewashed tombs”. These were the BEST people of society! Sins certainly do NOT have to hurt anyone, based on my understanding of the Bible.

    As for the “is not a choice” part of your statement, please read the comments I wrote above. Everyone is more prone to some sins than to others. But we are still responsible for our actions. Just because alcoholism runs in my family doesn’t let me off the hook when I stumble home drunk. The fact that I was a teenage boy pulsating with hormones does not let me off the hook for the actions I took in the back seat of my girlfriends car. Let’s not kid ourselves: Our bodies CRAVE things that are wrong. Our cravings have nothing to do with morality.

  • DR

    “Sin doesn’t hurt anyone”? What planet are you living on? Jesus *died* for our sins because they kill us and one another! What a complete perversion of the Cross of Jesus Christ to suggest that sins don’t hurt at their core. They are evil. Of course they do.

  • DR

    My brother stole my older sister’s doll – and breastfed her!

    He is now straight, happily married to his wife of over 20 years with 4 kids. I think it was a phase.

  • DR

    I am amazed that people survive this – even straight people. The courage it must take to leave something like this is so huge.

  • DR

    What an insightful point. Yes.

  • Nathan


    I keep responding to the same thing, but you keep saying that I’m not responding. I think perhaps we are both just talking right past one another.

    I’ll say it again: Homosexual DESIRES are not condemned anywhere in scripture. Being a homosexual is not wrong. Just like being tempted to cheat on my wife is not wrong. Acting on it IS wrong. (in my opinion)

    We all have to draw our lines somewhere. Should I teach my kids that polygamy is wrong? Should I teach them that incest is wrong? On and on it goes. All of us have to “draw the line” somewhere. I choose to draw the line by the way that I read the Bible. Frankly, I don’t have any other basis for drawing a line anywhere. Why not just live whatever way “feels” right to me? I’m sitting in a hotel room writing this a nearly 2am. I “feel” like opening up a new browser window and looking at some porn. Why shouldn’t I? There’s no real empirical reason not to. But I have the Bible (my only guide to what is true) and my conscience (the Holy Spirit, in my opinion) telling me that looking at a woman lustfully is wrong. So I’m going to try my best not to do it. Likewise, I have to make the best determination I can from my conscience and from scripture about what I should teach my kids about homosexuality.

    I’m not asking for your “respectful permission” to make fun of the effeminate boy in my daughters class. I have the scripture clearly telling me that is wrong. Many Christians have treated homosexuals horribly. Many Christians resisted the civil rights movement. Christians are screwed up people with insecurities, flaws, and prejudices — just like EVERYONE ELSE IN THIS WORLD. I certainly wish that becoming a Christian meant that these flaws would be taken away. But it just ain’t so.

  • DR

    I’m not asking for your “respectful permission” to make fun of the effeminate boy in my daughters class. I have the scripture clearly telling me that is wrong>>>

    You’re not hearing anyone because you’re not open to listening. It’s so hopeless. God have mercy on those of you who are so steadfastly committed to being right that you would literally prioritize that over gay kids killing themselves and gay men and women who survive you wanting *nothing* to do with Jesus. All of that is on your hands.

    OK, I’ve had enough for a day, replies like these are like getting punched in the stomach. The only hope we have is that your children will never be gay and the contact you have with gay men and women – and gay kids – will be minimized. And that amazing people like John and Christy will somehow find a way to make their voices louder than yours and that the GLBT community will find a way of trusting that they are the true representatives of the love of Christ. I pray for that to happen.

  • Nathan

    otter, good points. Yes, I’ll take a stab at your challenge.

    If homosexual sex were only condemned in the Old Testament, then you would have a valid point. But it isn’t. It *is* spoken of by Paul in the New Testament. Now, some (including our host, John Shore) have pointed out that perhaps Paul was not speaking “on behalf of God” at this particular point. That’s fair. But, throughout the New Testament it is very clear that sex was reserved for married couples alone. Every passage describing marriage (that I’m aware of) in the New Testament always speaks of a man and a woman. Therefore, it is implied throughout the New Testament that marriage is between a man and a woman and that sex is reserved for married couples.

    Again, this is the way *I* read the Bible. If you read it and sincerely come to a different conclusion, then I can have nothing but respect for your decisions. Your decisions are between you and God alone. No one is beholden to any “church authority” or whatever.

    At the same time, I am responsible before God for my obedience to his word and for the teaching of my children. As such, I’ll do my best to interpret scripture the best that I can and teach my kids accordingly. I don’t think you could ask me to do any differently, could you?

  • DR

    (It’s so shocking that you would compare gay men and women to incest. That actually brings tears to my eyes, thinking about what that must do to anyone who is gay to have a Christian actually *make that comparison* a blog that thousands of people read. These are people who adore one another and have often been with their partner for decades. And you just compared their relationship to a child getting raped.

    It’s honestly, one of the most repulsive things I’ve ever seen people do. Tonight I’m so sick of those of you who do this and then have the gall to jump down John’s throat, attacking him, rabidly defending all of you “good Christians” while you just compared a same -sex couple to child rape. I honestly can’t bear talking to you anymore. You refuse to see it – you refuse to take responsibility for the damage these kinds of remarks cause – it really is hopeless.

  • DR

    I honestly don’t know what to do with these people like Nathan anymore. There’s always so much hope that they’d at least consider what is being offered here and then it’s like a broken record, they start comparing gay men and women to pedophiles. It’s so damaging and just so – vulgar – I can’t wrap my brain around it.

    Do we keep engaging them and giving them a platform? I do it mostly because I like to think people who’ve been bullied, silenced and intimidated by the Nathans out there are reading other Christians holding him accountable to his beliefs and behaviors. Or in doing so do we make it worse? Tonight, I honestly don’t know. Maybe it will be clearer tomorrow.

  • Nathan

    DR – let me try one more stab at this:

    Teaching that Jesus is the Messiah is contrary to Judaism. Is is fundamentally incomparable with the Jewish faith. Does that make me an anti-Semite? Are all Christians antisemitic? No. Are SOME Christians antisemitic? Yes, absolutely.

    Likewise, believing that homosexual sex is a sin does not inherently make me a bigot or hatemonger. But some people who hold my beliefs ARE bigots and hatemongers.

  • DR

    I’m done with your flimsy theological justifications for why you just compared wonderful same sex couples who often, by the way, adopt the babies we Christians refuse to take care of ) to pedophiles. In respect to them I’m not giving your vulgarity any additional platform. I’ve had enough.

  • Nathan

    Let’s take a step backwards (if you are still willing to talk): Where do your beliefs about right and wrong come from? I’m telling you exactly where my beliefs come from and you’ve done nothing but say how hurtful they are. But you’ve nowhere told me where you draw your morality from. Is it in a holy book that I haven’t read yet? Or is it from a personal revelation from God? Or is it from your gut feelings?

    All of us have to do the best we can with the truth that has been put in front of us. I’ve told you where my “truth” comes from. I would very much like to hear about a few specific actions that you KNOW to be wrong — and HOW you know that they are wrong. It seems to me that this is at the core of our debate.

  • DR

    Save your patronizing posturing for someone else. I’ve had it with those of you who use my Savior and the Holy Word of God to cloak your homophobia and how you damage my Church and gay men and women who refuse to step into it because of you.

    It’s very simple. My right and wrong means I don’t compare adults in love – God’s children who He created – to child rapists. And my beliefs rooted in right or wrong don’t drive gay children to kill themselves like yours do.

    Enjoy sleeping tonight and what is really terrifying? You will.

  • Nathan

    Come on, don’t pull that out that sob card. You know very well the point I was trying to make. We all know that some sins are more “hurtful” than others. I’m not comparing homosexual sex to child rape. That’s absurd.

    I *am* saying that there are a whole range of sexual activities. We can’t say that all are permissible. We can’t say that all are prohibited. We all have to draw a line. I’ve chosen to draw my line slightly differently from where you have drawn yours.

    But that’s actually of very little consequence. Here’s the key question: WHY do we draw the line where we do? I’ve told you exactly why I draw the line where I do. I want to hear from you (and from anyone else brave enough to answer) about WHY they have chosen to draw the line where they did. We all have a line. We all know of actions that would fall on one side or the other of that line. But WHY?? Is sexual morality culturally relative or is it an absolute?

    I ask it in all seriousness. Polygamy was never condoned in the Bible, but likewise it was never condemned. (please correct me if I’m wrong) We all have to wrestle with these things. I don’t understand why I am considered so “closed minded” just because I draw my line at a different place than where you draw yours.

  • Terri Antonovich via Facebook

    He is so gay …lol

  • DR

    I am reading your *exact words* above, I didn’t conflate a thing.

    Using the term “sob card” as it relates to how your belief system drives gay kids to suicide makes me speechless.

    Lastly, you saying “you draw your line in a different place” CREATES AN ATMOSPHERE OF OPPRESSION AND ABUSE. It causes gay CHILDREN to KILL themselves.

    I don’t know how many people will say this to you in different ways but it’s clear that you are in total denial of that fact. I don’t deal with people who don’t accept responsibility for their actions or won’t address the actual points being made to them.

  • DR

    What is so odd to me is how effeminate he is! Is that weird to anyone else?

  • vj

    Nathan (I hope you’re still hanging around…)

    A couple of years ago, I could probably written almost the same comments you have posted here (except that I’m a mom, not a dad). I have been a Jesus-follower since early childhood, although I was raised by a New Age-ish single mom, and only joined a church after high school. I used to think that all my mom needed to do was accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she would miraculously no longer be gay. I thought she had some childhood trauma and/or some addiction issues (I think she actually had both), and that all she needed was Jesus. I never questioned what the Bible actually says about homosexuality, because I didn’t want to dwell on my mom’s ‘sin’. I never articulated any of this to my mom, I just loved her because she was my mom. My church friends, my husband and his family all just loved her for who she was (I live in a gay-friendly city, in a country where same sex marriage [and polygamy, in some contexts] is now legal, and where church attendance is not the cultural n0rm).

    Over the years, I studiously avoided all literature that purported to show that homosexuality was not a sin – I thought the Bible was clear that it is, and I didn’t want my love for my mom to tempt me to be deceived otherwise (yes, that did make sense to me at the time…). I read reviews of books claiming that gays should be included in church life, and tut-tutted to myself that the author was deceived (while still not reading the books themselves). I was horribly indignant when Gene Robinson was ordained (and I’m not even nearly a member of his denomination). I thought he must just be one of those ‘intellectual’ church leaders, with no real relationship with God.

    Then, about 2 year ago, I found John’s blog. Like you, I was interested in learning about other perspectives (the link that brought me here was about ‘what non-Christians want Christians to know’). At that time, John had written very little about the relationship between Christianity and LGBT people, but I loved everything he wrote about Jesus and faith and life. When he launched Thruway Christians (now Unfundamentalist Christians), I was intrigued that he could argue from a Biblical/historical perspective that the ‘clobber’ verses might not HAVE to mean what has traditionally been assumed they mean (i.e. homosexuality is inherently sinful, you can’t be a non-celibate gay Christian). I didn’t take John’s word for it, but I did start to question whether what I had always believed about this was true. Particularly troubling to me was what I learned about how LGBT people are treated by ‘mainstream’ Christianity in the USA (I live in South Africa). The level of vitriol spewed so publicly, the insane twisting of Jesus’ love into hatred – as an outsider, my first thought was ‘this is wrong – whatever is behind this, it’s not the Jesus I know’.

    Later that year, I had the opportunity to visit London with my family. One of the places we visited was St Paul’s cathedral. We had planned only to climb the dome for a view of the city before proceeding to other tourist traps, but on arrival discovered we had to wait an hour or so before the dome was opened to visitors. So, we wandered around the building (so beautiful!), including the crypt, which had, displayed along one wall, a timeline of the history of the site – hundreds of years of Western Christian history. I belong to an ‘independent’ church, and am not personally a big fan of big churches/denominations/hierarchical institutions, but… standing there, literally only a few yards from the marble caskets containing the remains of Admiral Nelson and Lord Wellington (seriously weird, but certainly emphasizing the solemnity), I suddenly understood why some people *like* being part of such churches – they like the connection to ancient believers. And, at the same time, I thought “who am I to try to keep anyone out who wants to be in?” I can’t say that it was God who gave me that thought, but I do now take Jesus at His word: “whosoever believes in Me shall not perish, but will have eternal life”.

    The Bible prohibitions against homosexuality are all in the context of idolatrous sexual abuse. Through John’s book “UNFAIR” I learned about so many faithful gay Christians, most raised in Christian homes, who tried *every* means available to change their orientation, yet found that God accepts them just as they are. There are many who comment on this blog, and I see the light of Christ in what they write. Jesus says “come to Me, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light”. If God has not answered such fervent, faithful prayers, how can I continue to believe that it is sin? They have not turned to idols, they want to be accepted as my brothers and sisters in Christ – and I have no basis on which to say they are not. Many of them probably have a deeper connection to Jesus than do I, since they have had to fight against cultural misconceptions to claim their rightful place as heirs with me in the Kingdom of God. They appear to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives – I cannot say the same about people such as Sean Harris.

    As a straight person, I have no idea what ’causes’ homosexuality, but I can no longer defend the idea that it is inherently sinful. I believe that the “sexual immorality” Jesus speaks against is about using people for sex without being committed to their well-being (adultery, casual hook-ups, pornography, orgies, etc).

    Don’t take my or John’s or anyone else’s word for it. Read John’s book, read the Unfundamentalist Christians’ creed, study your own Bible (or several – get a feel for how different translations deal with the ‘clobber’ passages IN CONTEXT). Read the parts that talk about our salvation by faith, given as a gift so that none can boast. Pray for guidance. Make sure, for yourself, that what you think the Bible says about homosexuality is true, or whether there might be a reasonable basis for thinking differently.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Ms. Elings-Sysel, you need to chill. First, this country.. is the best country on the face of the earth, ever! And Pastor Harris never claimed to have any right to decide who is or is not effeminate! He simply said what needs to be done about it in the case that someone’s child is. And how dare you slander the good pastor’s name with these baseless accusations of child abuse! Shame on you, Ms. Eligns-Sysel! And do you really have to resort to name-calling and cursing to make a point? It’s pathetic, and if you really care about America’s youth, some of which might be reading this, you’ll try to be a little less crude and offensive next time. Yes, we are all upset at Obama for shipping our jobs overseas, but don’t take it out on Pastor Harris. He was simply telling parents to be good parents, and his congregation knew what he was saying.. Not everything is meant to be taken literally, Gees!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    “Every passage describing marriage (that I’m aware of) in the New Testament always speaks of a man and a woman. Therefore, it is implied throughout the New Testament that marriage is between a man and a woman…”

    Every passage describing government (that I’m aware of) in the New Testament always speaks of autocracy. Therefore, it is implied throughout the New Testament that government is autocracy.

    The argument from silence is not a valid argument.

  • thingwarbler

    Are you for real? “He was simply telling parents to be good parents” — while encouraging them to physically abuse their sons for displaying what he perceives as “unmanly” behavior? As if a) beating them would change anything for the better, and b) he has any basis at all for declaring such “behavior” wrong.

    “Not everything is meant to be taken literally, Gees!” No, you’re right. By “psycho pervert” the OP may just have meant fundamentalist Xtian — the two are so interchangeable at times, amirite?

  • I adored She-Ra and watched it *every day.* So much so that when I started first grade, my mom set the VCR to record it for me so I wouldn’t miss it. And I carried my She-Ra action figure around like a teddy bear.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    “Should I teach my kids that polygamy is wrong? Should I teach them that incest is wrong?”

    Why should you? My parents never taught me such things. When I did things wrong, they corrected me, but since I didn’t do those things, the issue never came up. Why break their innocence with grown up concerns like these? Raise them right, and they’ll be able to make right decisions for themselves when the time comes. Teach them to rely too much on what it says in a book—even if that’s the one-and-only divinely inspired Book—and they might never develop the sort critical thinking skills regarding moral questions that would best allow them to work through complex real-life situations that the Bible, with it’s finite number of pages—or a person’s memory and interpretation of it, with his/her limited mental capacity—just doesn’t give us a quick cookie-cutter solution to.

    “I have to make the best determination I can from my conscience and from scripture about what I should teach my kids about homosexuality.”

    Why? Why do you have to teach them about it? I mean, it might be a good idea to make sure they’re aware at some point that such a phenomenon exists. But they’ll probably pick up on that without specific instruction. In any case, you seem to imply that you have to teach them to feel somehow towards it, and I just don’t understand why. Give them a Bible, show them the world, correct them when they error—yes, yes, and yes. But what exactly do you mean by “what I should teach my kinds about homosexuality”? Perhaps you could give examples. What “about” it needs to be taught, beyond whatever they might happen to ask? (It’s not too likely they’ll ask for your moral opinion about it, but if they do, you just tell them how happen to see it, right?) Obviously, they need to understand that a word like “faggot” is offensive and inappropriate, but this is common decency, not sexual ethics.

  • Nathan


    Wow. Thank you for that incredibly thoughtful (and thought-provoking) response. It is certainly something I’ll chew on for a few days.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Gary

    Yes very cult like. The mind control they exert is absolutely like a cult. And I have known churches that I would have to say ARE actual cults.

  • otter

    No YOU need to chill!! This country is way behind other civilized nations when it comes to treating LGBT people as anything but second class. And Neanderthals like this ignoramus are hugely to blame.

    No GOOD parent believes you can change a child’s orientation. You can’t.

    You can make them defiant, distant, bruised, bloody, depressed, delinquent and if you’re really persistent, you can make them dead.

    Crude language is nowhere near as offensive as your attitude..

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Where’s the pedophilia connection at? Perhaps I missed something?

  • Nathan

    Very fair criticism.

  • As a man, I am MUCH more prone to sins of lust (porn, adultery, etc) than my wife is.

    This may be true of you as an individual, but it’s not true of all men and all women. Please don’t spread the generalization that women are less interested in sex or naturally have a lower sex drive than men. It can be very harmful to people who don’t fit this stereotype.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Ok, I see what you’re referring to now…

    Neither coercion nor involvement of (a) minor(s) is implicit to the character of incest, DR.

  • otter

    So for justification you offer us a legal “catch 22” and not a word about shrimp, stoning or slavery…nice try!

    I married in Canada, so I guess that makes me righteous…….

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Hi, Nathan!

    “Is sexual morality culturally relative or is it an absolute?”

    This is the operative question, indeed!

    I say it is absolute: an act done with intent of obtaining or bestowing any measure of sexual gratification that reasonably tends to contribute to or to involve a violation of free will and/or of the boundaries established by social contract and/or of any personal covenant(s), explicit or implied, is sexual immorality.

    Your view, it would seem, puts it relative to the interpretation of the Holy Scripture in accordance with a given culture’s worldview, and also dependant on what is, at a given point in time, thus far clearly revealed in scripture, and even on the selection of scripture(s) to be granted the status of sacred.


    @DR, frankly, it looks to me here as though your last sentence could just as well be describing yourself.

  • Nathan

    Very good points. My kids are 5 and 7. I’m not exactly going into details about sexual activity yet. You’re absolutely right about teaching them HOW to make moral decisions rather than teaching them the exact moral decisions that they should make.

    On the other hand, sex is an incredibly important part of life. I’m not going to sit by and let them think that God has nothing to say about the subject. As they approach this topic I want them to be very, very clear that God *does* have important things to say about human sexuality. He *does* have important things about how we use our money. He *does* have important things to say about how we treat one another.

    By no means am I saying that Christians need to shout from the rooftops what our beliefs about homosexuality are. But certain individuals (parents, church teachers, pastors) certainly can (and should) do their best to teach the word of God honestly to those that are in their care. That’s my point.

  • Have you lost your freaking mind? Is this someone PRETENDING to be MT? I hope so. Because if not, I fear for whatever is going on with you, Matthew.

  • Allie

    Oh dear.

    Jesus was nice enough to give us a key to tell which laws were men’s and which were God’s. This is Matthew 22:35-40

    Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

    Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    If you want to know if something is a sin, or simply a human moré, that’s how you tell. Does it involve not loving God, or does it involve not loving your neighbor? From these two principles can be derived the entire law, and if something doesn’t fall into one of these two categories, it is not a law of God, but a human invention.

  • Allie

    Incidentally, and sorry for being insulting here, but I have to think you’re either not very smart or you’re being really mentally lazy. Lust DOESN’T HURT ANYONE? Greed DOESN’T HURT ANYONE? What world do you live in? I think you’re getting confused by that place where Jesus said you can commit adultery with someone in your heart, and thinking that means that what defines it as adultery can be separated from the treachery and suffering caused by committing adultery with your body. Adultery is wrong, in your heart or otherwise, BECAUSE IT HURTS PEOPLE, and doing it in your own imagination is wrong because desiring to hurt people is wrong. It’s not wrong on some hypothetical spiritual level where no one gets hurt.

  • Allie

    And once again sorry, this time for posting three times in a row, but I just keep seeing more and more things wrong with what you said. It’s a true talent to cram that much error into such a small space!

    Jesus didn’t accuse the Pharisees of nothing, but of preventing people from coming to God by putting stumblingblocks in their way, and preaching error. He accused them of HURTING PEOPLE. And of the spiritual error of believing they were great guys, which is NOT LOVING GOD.

    Finally, you being a drunk would HURT SOMEONE. Getting your teenage girlfriend pregnant or giving her a disease by screwing everything in sight would HURT SOMEONE. Someone loving someone of the same sex DOES NOT HURT ANYONE. See the difference, and why your comments are insulting?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    vj, I do believe there’s a bit of divine inspiration in this!

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Thanks, John. I’m fine, by the way. That would be. . . flattering? . . that someone would impersonate me!

    I thought you already knew though how. . . crazy? . . I am.

    And no, John, I haven’t been smoking anything.

  • Erin D.

    Did anyone else hear the interview on Sirius/XM “OutQ” yesterday between Michelangelo Signorile and this pastor? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I wish I could find a recording of it somewhere, but I suppose it’s a subscription service so they don’t post it online. Basically the guy has retracted the violence and said “It was hyperbole, yadda yadda yadda” but as soon as Michelangelo tried to engage him in a discussion about the Bible, the pastor shut down and almost hung up. Imagine asking a pastor to LOGICALLY explain the misuse of the Bible for this one thing while ignoring a myriad of other things in the Bible. Just curious if anyone else heard that interview and what they thought of it.

  • amen!

  • Christy

    Yes, this isn’t the Matthew Tweedell we are used to seeing here. What’s up Matthew?

  • Allie

    Shadsie, I grew up in the 70’s playing with Dawn dolls, which are nearer the size of She-Ra than Barbie. My Dawns were space pirates and one of them had a tragic accident involving a lawnmower when she was out hunting poachers in the African wilderness, otherwise known as the unmowed bit of yard behind my dad’s workshed. I totally would have bought She-Ra if she had been available.

  • dan(chicago)

    On a positive note: Isn’t the internet and more specifically, YouTube, great? I’d love to upload a few things my former pastor said to a howling congregation, and see him try to wiggle out of his own words. In the independant churches like Pastor Sean’s, there is little accountability(accept for an often weak church council). Until now.

  • He seems to have snapped. I’m going to put him on moderation. This isn’t healthy.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    First, I apologize if my attitude offends any of the little ones. This is not my intent. My attitude towards children has always been one of love—not that I’m perfect in love, by any means, but I try.

    If I somehow come across anyhow otherwise, my attitude has simply not been very clearly portrayed by my words.

    Now, it’s not me that’s shouting, “YOU,” or using double exclamation marks, etc. I think it’s pretty clear who is chill here.

    “You can make them defiant, distant, bruised, bloody, depressed, delinquent and if you’re really persistent, you can make them dead.”

    You seem to misunderstand. The Holy Bible says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

    And again, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)

    So, clearly, any such thing is forbidden of Biblical parents!

    However, there are so many more loving ways to affect the changes you wish you to see in your children, so this by no means implies that any particular change would be impossible. In fact, the Word of God teaches us that “with God all things are possible”! (Matthew 19:26)

    It is my hope that you might have faith in a God so powerful that He can change your sexual desires if He so wills!

  • vj

    I kind of assumed he was just getting a bit carried away with the sarcasm/satire? And we all know how well that translates into cyberspace… I hope I’m not wrong!

  • Christy

    1) I agree you have the right to teach your children your beliefs as long as those beliefs do not lead to actions that are harmful to them or others. IE: those who do not believe in medical care who allow their curable, otherwise healthy child to die by withholding treatment. Or teaching that because we disagree with something or someone, it’s ok to treat the people we disagree with differently than people we agree with (bigotry and discrimination).

    Whether or not you think homosexuality is a sin, Jesus never condoned treating people poorly or differently (and it would appear that neither are you). Equality matters. Justice matters. You don’t have to approve. But in a Just society – publicly – we can’t restrict the freedoms enjoyed by some from others because we think they are sinners.

    Nor restrict society from talking about it or showing gay characters on TV or pointing out in our educational system when writers, scholars, activists, politicians, scientists were gay. It’s just as important to know this as it is to know when they were women, or black, or latino, or Jewish or…

    Discomfort about sexuality in general seems to guide these discussions with our children. You can teach them what you want to about sex and sexuality. It won’t change what is true and that homosexuality exists. It would be like trying to talk about colors without discussing blue, pretending like it doesn’t exist.

    But the only way we overcome global issues like hate, intolerance, bigotry, violence, abuse, discrimination – even war – (Injustice) is to teach our children that simply because someone is different doesn’t mean we are better than they are and we have any right to treat them poorly or without respect, dignity, and equality. That you do in fact judge a person and treat them accordingly based on their character, and not the color of their skin, or what their faith is, or who they love.

    2) Greenpeace is not categorized as a Christian organization, so I do not expect them to follow the teachings of Jesus. I hold churches and Christian organizations and individuals to a different standard than Greenpeace and do expect them to follow the teachings of the One they claim to follow.

    If our faith doesn’t help make us kinder, more generous, more patient, more compassionate people – in how we interact with others, friends and enemies – it would be a fruitful endeavor to find out why that is.

    A new study to be published next month shows that atheists and the less religious tend to be more highly motivated by compassion when they are generous to others, particularly those different than themselves, than their highly religious counterparts. The point is the motivating factor. Not the level of generosity. How can this be? What do we, as people of faith, need to do to address it?

    The argument that because other people do it falls flat. You wouldn’t let your children use that argument, I think.

    3) Thank you….and for your thoughtful consideration.

  • DR


  • DR

    Thank you for this, I thought I was nuts.

  • Lymis

    “Not everything is meant to be taken literally…”

    Just to respond to this single point. First, there was absolutely no indication whatsoever in Pastor Harris’s words on in his delivery that he was joking. Nor anything credible in his subsequent “apologies” that he was anything other than serious.

    At most – at most, and that’s being far more generous than I really want to be – what he said was slight hyperbole. While it’s probably fair to say that he didn’t literally mean to send a four-year old out to dig a ditch, it’s transparently clear that he did truly mean to say that a parent should shame and discipline a four-year old for harmless play, and be constantly on the lookout and react in the strongest terms to any hint of gender non-conformance, and was using the Bible to claim it as a Divine command.

    That isn’t “joking.” That’s phrasing your hateful beliefs in controversial ways. His reaction was to assure people he would phrase his hateful beliefs in more appropriate ways in the future. That is only marginally (and largely meaningless) an “improvement.”

    Oh, and by the way, “America’s youth” have heard worse, the little dears. And even speaking as someone who WAS one of America’s youth back when Washington was riding dinosaurs, I can say with a huge amount of confidence that America’s LGBT youth would FAR rather hear people defending them with passionate and course language than condemning them in the sweetest and politest of words.

    This is where I would call you an asshole if I wasn’t such a classy person.

  • Lymis

    Ms. Elings-Sysel, you need to be complemented. First, this country.. is the best country on the face of the earth, ever! Partly because we are allowed to speak our minds on important issues, even when …. ahem…. people… disagree.

    Keep up the fucking good work.

  • Lymis

    I grew up in the 60’s and let’s not kid ourselves. GI Joe was a doll marketed to boys. Any other disclaimer is simply a misogynistic spin on that fact.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Come on, John, you know you are letting DR (who, God bless her, is doing excellent work—I by no means mean to say I take any issue with her approach, and I know the Lord is accomplishing great things through her) get away with rather more than this, and I hope you see that more vitriol is directed *towards* me than I myself am issuing forth. This is because people have slipped from unfundamental to antifundamental.

    If you pay close enough attention to key points I’m articulating (though surely few will, in no small part because, as soon as people identify me with a viewpoint towards which they prejudice themselves in disagreement, they cease to be able to truly understand), you might even see some method to my madness. (Or not. But I hoped you might know me enough by now to trust that it’s there and also to know that I do not let anyone I see around here who is wounded in more than just their ego go uncomforted, much less am I myself any threat beyond that which a person could [if they would] bear: A thorn in the side, I am, always; a knife through the heart—never.)

    You see, sometimes people get too comfortable in their position. If it’s a position you disagree with, there seems to be no problem with people challenging it, but challenges to positions you agree with, indeed, tend to be deemed as unhealthy. I’m not sure though that it’s ever unhealthy to challenge those who grow overconfident. What seemed unhealthy was the tone the rhetoric had and has been taking. However, once they get past venting on me some, we’ll start to move to a better place for, and likely find ourselves better equipped for, having more productive conversations of such things in the future. As DR recently put it, “Conflict is extremely productive.”

  • Lymis

    Christy gave my answer beautifully.

    We have no responsibility to “respectfully disagree” about a fundamental wrong to maintain some imaginary, and let’s be real, non-existent, church community.

    Otherwise, we’d still be respectfully disagreeing on slavery, women as property, and whether or not it’s appropriate to use the Inquisition into terrorizing Jews into converting to Christianity.

  • Lymis

    Nathan, here’s the deal.

    I can’t tell how to abuse your kids. If you have LGBT kids and the only options are your beating the crap out of them while shaming them and telling them that their deepest feelings are sinful, or calmly and pleasantly shaming them and telling them that their deepest feelings are sinful, then I’m going to have to go with you being a non-violent and pleasant homophobe.

    But you aren’t going to keep a gay kid from being gay, or talk someone whose physical body doesn’t match their gender into having a different experience of it.

    All you are going to do is push them away. Your constant condemnation of who they are isn’t a path to change, but it is a path away from you. And to the degree that you manage to convince them that it is True church doctrine, or worse, God’s actual feelings on the matter, you will be pushing them away from any contact with the church, or teaching them that God doesn’t love them.

    Telling a gay kid that God hates homosexuality isn’t going to make that kid straight. It will, however, dramatically reduce your chances of ever spending time with your grandchildren.

    Telling a straight kid that God hates homosexuality isn’t going to make that kid any straighter than they already would have been, but it’s far more likely to create a bully, and to teach them to hurt other people in your name and in the name of God, and to pass that hurt and hatred on to their kids, gay or straight.

    The only possible outcomes of your approach are pain, shame, and driving people away from God. How can that even remotely be a right answer to any question?

  • Lymis

    Crap. That should have been “I can’t tell you how to abuse your kids.”

  • Lymis

    vj, that was truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

  • KarenAtFOH

    DR’s expression of hurt is just as valid an expression of Spirit as any exegesis you may provide. See Rom 8:26. I’ve seen the point made before on this blog that the bible is not God. It is blasphemy to make it the 4th member of the Trinity. Truth about God can be deduced from the creation itself (Rom 1:20). So here is some truth from the creation, as expressed by established science: A person’s sexual orientation cannot be changed, and attempts to do so are likely to result in profound harm. Couples in long-term, committed relationships live happier, longer, more healthful lives. Messages to young people that their orientation is sinful, or that their desire to live as they are is wrong, causes them damage, and can lead to suicide.

    “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is still hate!! You want to be all loving and compassionate, but the message is still hate. Those of us LGBT Christians who are healthy are repelled by your hate and remove ourselves from it. Those of us who are vulnerable are severely hurt by it. I’m new here, so forgive me if you have already done so, but I suggest you study Kathy’s website at Canyon Walker Connections. God is moving powerfully through his LGBT children, and like John says, it may result in nothing less than a new Christian Reformation. If a deep division develops in people of faith, we may have to choose which side of history we’ll land on. Please choose carefully.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Thank you, Lymis.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    First, well, obviously, my interpretation of Pastor Harris’s sermon and apology was rather different. I suppose we just have a difference of opinion on the matter.

    Secondly, you seem to imply that I’m condemning LGBT youth! I want to make it clear that this couldn’t be further from the truth! As the Lord Jesus Christ taught us, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

    Where here have I condemned anyone?

  • LSS

    homosexual desire is not analogous to you thinking about *cheating on your wife*. it’s analogous to you thinking about *having sex with your wife*.

    same-sex sexual activity in a committed relationship is analogous to you *actually* having sex with your wife.

  • KarenAtFOH

    DR, you rock and I am so appreciative of your comments. I’ve been feeling so beaten down by all this hate lately, and I am taking strength from your spirit. Please keep being the great advocate that you are!

  • Kristyn Whitaker Hood via Facebook
  • Kristyn Whitaker Hood via Facebook

    Be sure to review them on Google and rate the Church. It’s now down to 2 and a half stars.

  • Angie

    And……. the more I think about it, the more I’m also creeped out by his little declaration at the end, too (like the rest of it wasn’t creepy enough…): “Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.”

    ……….”*I* just gave you a special dispensation”?? I, me, Pastor Sean Harris…

    Didn’t Moses get banned from entering the Promise Land because he struck a rock that gave the Israelites water to drink and then declared that “*I* have given you water”? And God said, “Ah, no buddy, that was me. NO PROMISE LAND FOR YOU!” So, even IF what this pastor was saying is aligned with God’s will (and I most certainly do not believe that it does, but I’m saying–for the sake of making a point–IF it did), then why are his followers not taking exception to him proclaiming *himself* worthy of giving the dispensation that *allegedly* has been given by God? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question, I know the “lemming effect” when I see it…) …Just a thought.

  • Kids like to imitate. They see Mommy doing something or Daddy doing something, or their siblings or their cousins or their aunts and uncles, they want to try it.

    I just remembered about when I was 9-10 years old how facinated I became by my uncle’s leather-tooling hobby. Leather-tooling is an art form, but it is one with a kind of “manly” perception. So what? I got a leather tooling kit as a Christmas present and I’d play at stamping out patterns, making leather bracelets and things. I never got around to tooling the belt that came with the kit because I never thought I was good enough to make the really nice belt I wanted. I lost interest in it, just like I eventually lost interest in the more girly hobby of cross-stitching (which I learned in Girl Scouts).

    I’ve learned (in the arts I kept up with), that it is very often men who paint flowers and gardens and women who are prone to painting “manly” wildlife scenes.

    I also wonder where the concern is for kids who imitate their pets… one of my favorite games and the favorite games of nieces/nephews was pretending to be dogs, cats, etc. and pretending to be cared for by a “designated human.” If there’s so much worry for kids pretending to “be the wrong gender” where’s the worry over imitating the wrong species?

  • Matthew Tweedell

    They understand stood that as a joke.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    How’d I make THAT typo??

  • Lymis

    Check your dosage?

  • dan(chicago)

    Get out there and dig a ditch, because that’s what boys do? Is he trying to prepare the boys in his church for heterosexuality, or for a prison work crew? What if they hit a gas line?

  • HAR! good one, dan.

  • LSS

    i love your sideways viewpoint, as always you see into the corners that would get missed!

  • Matthew Tweedell


  • Lymis

    You did catch that this is what he said to tell a four-year-old! Go out and dig a ditch! (Which would be that much harder if he’d also cracked the kid’s wrist for being limp-wristed!)

  • The problem with the analogy about people being prone to specific sins is what you take away from them when you tell someone that homosexuality is a sin. It’s very different from what you take away from someone when you say that cheating on your spouse, or getting drunk, or other very specific behaviors, is a sin.

    Every desire that we have has both godly and sinful ways of fulfilling it. Hunger, thirst, sex, sleep, the desire for comfort, love, acceptance. All of those drives can be fulfilled in good ways or in sinful ways. Telling someone that homosexuality is a sin is telling them that the majority of their desires can’t ever be fulfilled at all.

    If I, as a straight* married woman, experience a desire for sex, there are times and places when I need to put that desire aside to avoid sin, but I don’t have to close it away completely and pretend it doesn’t exist. It would be wrong for me to have sex with someone other than my husband**; it would be wrong for my husband and me to blow off work or other responsibilities to spend the day having sex; it would be wrong for me to have sex with my husband in a way where I’m using or objectifying him, rather than being loving toward him.

    But if any same-sex sex is always sinful, no matter how committed and loving and honest the relationship, people who are gay have to ignore their desires completely and utterly. Telling them to do that is completely different from telling you not to look at porn.

    *Also,* it’s not just the sex you’re taking away, but every other part of a relationship. It’s denying someone romantic love, affection, and companionship. (Or telling them that they can have those things if they live a lie and marry someone of the opposite sex, which is a really horrible idea and cruel to everyone involved.)

    *I actually identify as “mostly straight” or “sort of bi” because I’m attracted to women too, if not as strongly or as much, but I’m married to a guy, so that ends up being a moot point as far as this is concerned.

    **Which isn’t to dis people who are in consenting poly relationships, but that’s not the sort of relationship my husband and I have.

  • dan(chicago)

    Yeah, maybe it was my suburban upbringing, but I can’t recall even the roughest of the boys in my blue collar Detroit neighborhood out digging ditches! I could have come up with a hundred butch activities the pastor could have used that would have made some sense. Take the kid to a ball game. I was gay as they come, and I would have loved that. I’d be checking out the ball players, but trust me, no one would have known. (still have a weakness for a dude in a baseball uniform)

  • Leslie Marbach


    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I do believe your words here will be used by the Holy Spirit to bring others wisdom and peace.

  • Leslie Marbach

    Actually, Nathan, I think that example is closer to reality than most. Although I’m a lesbian Christian, I don’t believe everyone who “disagrees” with my sexual orientation is a bigot. I think you’re silly. I don’t disagree with your eye color. But I do think that many Christians are in the middle somewhere. They (probably you??) don’t think that you’re hurting anyone and wouldn’t hurt anyone intentionally. They are trying to the best of their ability to love everyone as God tells us to do.

    I’m going to tell you something though, and I really hope you take it in the way I’m intending, with love and kindness.

    Teaching your child that “gay sex” is sinful does hurt people. It hurts your child as s/he tries to figure out who he is sexually. What happens if he’s gay but has gotten the message from you that it’s a sin? Trust me when I say he will begin a lifetime pain ranging from self-doubt to self-loathing.

    Secondly it will hurt his relationships with anybody who isn’t straight. It will hurt his ability to love them as Christ loves them. You see, most people can’t separate “gay sex” from the “gay person.” If one is bad, so’s the other. (In their minds, possibly subconsciously.)

    Lastly it hurts any LGBTQ person that you or your child ever comes into contact with. Even if you don’t realize it, you’re giving your child the go-ahead to be hurtful to LGBT individuals in the future. Your words are hurtful. Particularly to younger LGBTQ people who don’t have the maturity, wisdom, and/or knowledge to deal with it.

    Even though I’m older now and have spent enough time (5+ years!) studying the topic prayerfully that I have personally reconciled my sexual orientation with my faith in Christ, hearing it over and over that many people believe this integral part of who I am is bad…hurts. When I was younger it hurt so much that I walked away from God. I had no choice over my sexual orientation, but I did have a choice about participating in a faith tradition that told me I was a sinner for being who God made me to be. I’m thankful that God never stopped pursuing me. (All those verses about God never leaving us nor forsaking us and nothing separating us from God’s love come to mind!)

    I know this was long, but I felt it fit into this conversation you and DR are having. May God bless you greatly.

  • otter


    The very idea that what you do with your junk makes you a more righteous person than anyone else both shallow and arrogant. Your wish that I change is insulting. It is my hope that God heals your arrogance and helps you grow into humility. How is it that you dare to criticize God’s handiwork? I am a human of God’s own design, blessed by Him with loving and supportive family, a loving wife and the blessings of spiritual sustenance. The church I grew up in never doled out dose of self-loathing your brand of faith would have inflicted. So I apologize for nothing. I am a child of God and I will stand at peace before Him any day He chooses.

  • Lymis

    Well, in fairness, if they were four years old, you might not have noticed their little heads sticking out of the ditches they were digging…..

  • Matthew Tweedell

    I’m not asking you to change your person, but your beliefs, otter.

    And where have I criticized the work of God’s hands? But man himself screwed things over in the fall. And you are a son of man.

    Yet where does my faith teach self-loathing? For in Christ Jesus, all things are renewed and restored! So, yes, we all are imperfect. We all make mistakes. But praise be to God, there is forgiveness.

    And yet we must seek it. It is you who are arrogant, otter, in declaring a refusal to apologize.

  • DR

    First, you’re a little obsessed with me and you need to let it go. Second, if you’re trying to make a point via sarcasm, it’s being lost.

  • dan(chicago)

    There needs to be a ‘like’ button on blog comments. And the irony of this is that this man makes his living speaking in public and this wasn’t an off the cuff comment made during a church pot luck. He spent time on this and he had Power Point!

  • otter

    Apologize for refusing the judgement of the likes of you? That’s hilarious.

    Are you one of those who adhere to the word when agrees with your prejudices? Christianity has spawned generations, centuries, millenniums of such folk. They were torturers, oppressors, slavers and haters. They all thought they did God’s bidding, and do we still think them divinely inspired now?

    It is certain that beliefs about me that will change, MT. John and his posse are in the forefront of those who can see the hypocrisy and they have the wit and the will to move Christianity closer to what I believe Jesus intended it to be. I honor them, and hope you pay attention, for your sake.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    In what way have I judged you, otter? Judgment I leave to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    As a Christian, I strive to adhere to the true Word in spite, in fact, of my prejudices.

    Yes, Christians as much as anyone can do the wrong things. And many there have surely been, and ever will be until the Lord comes again in glory, who claim the mantle of Christianity but to whom Christ will say in that day (Matthew 7:23), “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

    As one of John’s “posse”, I am delighted to be recognized as being at forefront of those who can see the hypocrisy and have the wit and will to change it. And I for you hope the same, that you pay attention, for your sake: Hypocrisy is a natural consequence of pride’s blinding us to iniquities that personally are in our own favor.

  • Heh. True. That’s really what action figures are. Dolls for boys that we don’t want to call dolls.

  • TheIntellectualGerbil

    whoa, this guy is … crazy just does not cover it … completely bonkers? … as nutty as squirrelpoo?

    according to this disturbed individual, my brother who is 100% straight would not have survived his childhood. he liked playing with dolls, and all the girly stuff.

    the gay son (aka me) on the other hand would have been totally fine, since i was the one who always went down to the stream and came back with snakes, frogs and other fun-stuff much to the “delight” of my mother.

    btw. i feel obligated to warn all of you not to seek out the youtube video of his sermon unprepared. two seconds into it my gaydar exploded. mind you i have some pretty effeminate gay friends so i already possess the battlehardened version, but this guy just is too much!

  • Jill

    Because Power Point makes your argument that much more legitimate. And fancy.

  • Jill