Christians and LGBT Equality: There Is No Middle Ground

In response to my post Being gay is no sin.” See how easy that is, Andrew Marin? folks have made the point that Andrew’s work is valuable, because he is “building bridges”—because he is, as one reader put it, “creating stepping stones from one end of the spectrum to the other.” They appreciate Marin establishing a neutral, non-judgmental, values-free middle ground where parties on either side of the gay-Christian debate can meet to together discuss and explore the issue.

And I certainly understand how great that sounds.

But it’s not great. It doesn’t even make sense. Because when it comes to the issue of LGBT equality, there is no middle ground. There can’t be. The Christian/LGBT issue is a moral issue. And moral issues are by definition about right and wrong.

And this particular moral issue is one of no small consequence. There couldn’t be more at stake with it. The Christians on one side of this debate are claiming that, in the eyes of God, those on the other side are less than human.

Whoosh. Good-bye middle ground.

No matter how strenuously he or she might deny it, any Christian who fails to forthrightly and unambiguously assert that there is nothing whatsoever inherently immoral about same-sex relationships has chosen a side in this conflict. They’ve chosen to perpetuate the maligning, ostracizing, and degradation of gay people by Christians. If you don’t stop one person from abusing another, of what good are you to the victim? To a starving man, the person who can’t decide whether or not they want to share their food is no better than the person who outright refuses to.

I’m all for conversations that are about exploring critical moral issues. And of course I in every last way encourage people on opposite sides of this issue to reach out to one another; I must spend a fourth of my life carefully and thoughtfully engaging with Christians whose theology on homosexuality is radically different from mine. But in order for such conversations to be of any genuine value, they must be intentional. They must explicitly have resolution as their purpose. A bridge that goes nowhere, or stepping stones that quickly circle back to their starting point, are useless.

When it comes to weighty moral issues, there’s nothing wrong with traveling across the middle ground. But it’s at best folly and at worse a harmful lie to maintain that it’s morally feasible to remain in that middle ground. No one wanders the desert forever.

It’s true that on the issue of LGBT and Christian relations I am impatient. But I’m impatient for a good reason. Christian leaders on the right do not hesitate to loudly and boldly claim their moral certitude. From the left-hand channel of that stereo, though, we too rarely hear anything but silence, or the static that almost sounds like music, but isn’t. It’s time for the left to dial in the station, hit the button from “mono” to “stereo,” turn up the volume, and start broadcasting the message that it’s perfectly okay to be gay.

Christian leaders who persist in doing nothing more than “elevating the conversation” succeed in doing nothing more than alleviating the pangs of conscience that Christians on the right should be encouraged to feel for clinging to their convictions that same-sex relationships are an abomination to God. Instead of evading their moral responsibility, “progressive” Christians need to once and for all, forthrightly and unequivocally, proclaim their full and unconditional acceptance of same-sex relationships. They need to do that for the sake of gay people, and for the sake of the millions who have lost their faith in God because they cannot reconcile the gross disparity between a clear moral precept and the only thing they ever hear Christian leaders actually say.

 

The image is “Bridge to Nowhere,” by SoEllison, from pxleyes.com

Print Friendly

About John Shore

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/nwbuckeye Pat Hux via Facebook

    I am half way through Marn’s book. A year ago, I would have thought, Yay! Today, I think that he should have indeed moved on into acceptance. It does no good to stand on that bridge and direct traffic.

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

    So, what you’re saying is, “Moderation in the

    protection of liberty is no virtue; extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice.”

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Please don’t ban me for quoting Barry Goldwater.

    Seriously, I agree that the conversation has to be deliberate and that there has to be a point. I’m all for civil conversation and I’m all for talking and understanding from whence other people come. When it’s all said and done, though, we need to move the conversation along. If we’re still talking 10 years from now along the same lines, no matter how nicely we’re doing it, then we’re wasting our time.

    An entire group of Christians and other people is being told that they’re crap. And they’re being told that in the name of a God who loves them dearly, no matter what some clown with a collar says.

    • DR

      I adore every word of this comment.

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

        Ken rocks like Gibraltar.

        • DR

          I was going to say he rocks it like a hurricane. But this works too.

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

            And now I’m getting embarrassed.

            Thanks, both of you.

          • Lymis

            Make it three. With an additional rock-based simile of your choice. Maybe something from the music world, this time. “Rocks it like Springsteen” perhaps?

    • Gordon

      Ken, this is excellent. I sure wish there were still conservatives like Barry Goldwater around.

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

        I’m not entirely certain that that’s what Goldwater meant, but the comment works when removed from context.

        Anyway … thanks.

  • Kathleen

    Thank you! Beautifully said.

  • Tim

    Amen

  • Jacqueline

    You say that it is no “sin” to be gay and that “Christian leaders who persist in doing nothing more than “elevating the conversation” succeed in doing nothing more than alleviating the pangs of conscience that Christians on the right should be encouraged to feel for clinging to their convictions that same-sex relationships are an abomination before God,” as if homosexuality is not an abombination to God. Whether I am homophobic or not (and I’m not) as a Christian, it is impossible to ignore EXACTLY what the Bible says, if you are a born again believer.

    So, although, I might not care what you do in your sex life on a real human level; on a spiritual level. I must believe you are wrong or my religion is false. I don’t have to like or love you any less nor do I feel the need to protest or get vocal in opposition, in order ro know that something isn’t right. I have both gay friends and clients and I would chew off my left hand before I’d hurt them but the Bible says what it says.

    • Cat Rennolds

      jacqueline. you must be new here. You know, the scribes and the Pharisees lived as though every letter of the law must be completely accurate or the whole book had to be thrown out. Christ had a different idea.

      • Diana A.

        Thank you, Cat. Good summation!

    • http://www.facebook.com/groups/103595946362103/ Robert

      Your right the Bible does say a lot, especially concerning the Old Testament.

      2 Corinthians 3: 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

      Colossians 2:14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

      Hmm. Seems to suggest that the Old Law is null and void.

      And I’m sure that you are going to throw out Romans 1:26-28 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Before you do so, please demonstrate that the passage in Romans is not talking about pagan ritual sex and that Arsenokoitai really means “homosexual”.

      • Cat Rennolds

        thanks, Robert, I was looking for those verses the other day.

      • vj

        Thanks, Robert, for such a clear and concise presentation of the heart of the matter…

      • Gordon

        Kind of makes me wonder why Christians read the Old Testament at all, let alone use it to clobber the crap out of some of us.

        • Lymis

          Duh.

          Because the New Testament is all full of that love and tolerance stuff, and is not as convenient a weapon to use against people you disapprove of.

          I have never once in my life met an open-minded, tolerant person who read the Bible and became intolerant as a result. (Sadly, I’ve met people who became intolerant as a result of joining a specific church, but that’s a different discussion.)

          People don’t get prejudices and bigotry out of the Bible. They have to take them in with them in order to find them reflected there.

          • Jill

            Lymis, such a GREAT response. Your comment, “They have to take them in with them (prejudices) in order to find them reflected there”–sheer brilliance.

            I agree and would like to add: I believe we get what we want from the Bible. We’ll find whatever we’re looking for.

            The main question I ask myself when reflecting on scriptures of any kind: how does this passage increase my ability to love/let go/understand/grow as a human sharing this planet?

            To me, any other reason is sheer vanity and ego.

          • n.

            i would have said that was what happened to my family, but in fact it was probably the joining the specific church thing, or group, anyway… we quickly became so (what i now call) psycho-calvinist that there were few churches that weren’t “too liberal” for us.

        • http://www.facebook.com/groups/103595946362103/ Robert

          Probably because of the forged letter, 2 Timothy. 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

          It was a forged letter to counter Marcion, an early Church Bishop who came up with the first Bible, consisting of 10 of Paul’s letters and a variation of Luke. He held that the Old Testament had no place in Christianity, so didn’t use it. Since he used Paul as a primary source, his opponents forged a letter claiming that Paul encouraged using the Old Testament.

          Anyway, let’s say that we do take that passage has weight, then why does the Old Testament have to hold so much weight. Also while we’re at it, why aren’t the scriptures found in Nag Hammadi valid? After all doesn’t it say ALL SCRIPTURES?

      • Allie

        Nice. I need to go and read 2 Corinthians, I haven’t done that in a while. Some good stuff in there.

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

      Jacqueline: You’re much too sure that the Bible says what you think it does. Think again:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2012/04/02/the-best-case-for-the-bible-not-condemning-homosexuality/

    • Cat Rennolds

      I also have one heartfelt and very serious request. You say you are a born-again believer. If that is so: Take this question to the Lord. Don’t take the word of a minister, of a congregation, of any human being. Ask HIM.

      He does answer.

      • Lola

        thank you for an excellent piece of advice, Cat! restoring my faith in the people who post on this blog, you are.

        • Gordon

          A Yoda moment.

    • Melody

      Jacqueline, you are proof that John is right. This topic desperately needs to be addressed beyond “Let’s just all get along.” If you truly have gay friends, it’s time for you to be a better friend to them. I hope to God you aren’t as arrogant and condescending to them as you are here.

      • DR

        Dear God, please do not bring any gay kids into contact with Jacqueline. (a serious prayer). In Jesus Name. Amen.

        • Lola

          Dear Lord, please give DR the eyes to see that we are all here, working out our salvations with you alone, and needing one other to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, in love and in truth. In Jesus Name, Amen *also a serious prayer.

          • DR

            That’s right. Iron sharpens iron. Happy to be a part of that. Pray it happens!

      • Lola

        Melody, she is in no way arrogant or condescending, but is merely looking for the answer as we all are. Give her a chance to see the truth on her own without bashing her head on it!

        • DR

          How about you let people have the conversation they are *choosing* to have, Lola, including Eva. Eva engaged those of us on the forum who are abrasive – she engaged first! She did that for some reason, it served her, she wants something out of it. She is a grown woman for God’s sake, she doesn’t need protection from anyone, this role you’re playing in policing everyone’s tone is distracting from the issue.

        • http://deep.mastersfamily.org BJohnM

          I have to disagree Lola. She says she has gay friends and clients, and would never hurt them, but the Bible says what it says. That’s is Christianist code language for, “I love you, but I am confident you’re going to tell because of who you love.”

          Can we finally, maybe just for today, agree to speak plainly? That is what she’s saying…although I’ll bet you $100 that she is wearing clothing of mixed threads (I’m betting a poly-cotton blend), and has eaten some form of shell fish in the past two weeks. Given that, her claims of Biblical belief and understanding that, “the Bible says what it says,” are a complete pile of BS. If you are going to claim it, then live it in its entirety.

        • Mindy

          Lola, you have this need, for some curious reason, to jump in and tell others how to have a conversation. Let it go. Jacqueline may well need to someone knocking on her skull to wake her to the truth – that she is a bully and a bigot. She can’t see it because she’s wrapped herself so tightly in the pages of her Bible that she can’t breathe the Spirit in. She’s being asked to do so. SHE joined the conversation. No one sought her out at a coffee shop and started blasting her. No one held up a crude, rude sign in her face telling her God hates her. Let her speak – and LET HER LISTEN. Unless you are Jacqueline or Eva, which is always possible in cyber-land, you don’t know what is actually in her head.

          • David S

            Hi Mindy. You’re right – Jacqueline joined the conversation. I give her a lot of credit for at least looking at a different point of view. That’s a hell of a lot more than others I’ve encountered over the years would be willing to do.

          • DR

            Bravery is more than a drive by shooting comment. It’s staying engaged when countered.

        • Melody

          I’m not bashing her head in it. Saying “The Bible says what it says” is exceedingly arrogant. Sounds to me like you’re more concerned with playing tone police and saying “Now let’s all play nice” than with facing the truth. You are no help with this issue.

    • Daniel

      “… the Bible says what it says.”

      But you still have to interpret what was meant by what the bible says, and then decide if what is being talked about is even remotely close to loving and committed same-sex relationships. Which, clearly, it is not.

      The crux of your argument seems to be that you “must” believe that being gay is a sin or your religion is false. To me, you are simply saying that in order for you to reassure yourself that you are not wrong, you are willing to judge an entire minority of people. Because surely it is better to tell countless other people that they are sinners than to admit the possibility that the scriptures might not say what you want them to say?

      And yes, I am saying that if you find anti-gay sentiments in the Bible, it is because some part of you WANTS to find them there. There are plenty of Bible scholars who have interpreted the scriptures without finding that they condemn gay people; if you choose to ignore these interpretations, you are making a CHOICE to interpret anti-gay sentiments where there are none.

      For what it’s worth, you don’t sound like a bad person. I’m sure you’re very pleasant in “real life”, away from the anonymity of the internet. And I’m sure it makes you feel better to think you have no choice in this matter, but that simply isn’t true. You do have a choice.

      Choose wisely.

      • Melody

        You are right about wanting there to be anti-gay sentiments in the Bible. I didn’t know about homosexuality until I was 11 (very sheltered upbringing in very conservative communities), during the SBC’s ridiculous boycott of Disney. Some time later, I was reading my Bible and came across the clobber passages lifted from Genesis and Leviticus, and thought, “Aha! It’s in the Bible. So we KNOW it’s evil!” Anyone who wants homosexuality to be wrong will use these proof texts and refuse to study the original languages so they can wallow in ignorance. In short, if you look for what you want, you’ll find it.

    • DR

      Jacqueline, you believe whatever you need to. Your theology is responsible for gay kids being driven to despair and killing themselves. That’s you. That is your *choice* to completely ignore everything that John and everyone else has said here in order to maintain what you need to believe about homosexuality based on what you are choosing to believe the Bible offers conclusively. That’s all your choice.

      And honestly, I don’t care. Just own it, take full and total responsibility for your *impact*. Let’s see if you have the bravado to look yourself as squarely and aggressively in the mirror as you do in your comments to other people. I doubt you have the courage to actually examine the horrifying impacts of your theology on the GLBT community, you have way too much to lose. If you choose to do that? We’ll be here. If not? God have mercy on you.

    • Steve

      There are hundreds of other things the Bible calls an abomination and/or punishes by death: eating shellfish, pork and some other animals, wearing clothing of mixed fibers, planting different crops in the same field, approaching an altar with defective eyesight, having contact with menstruating women or picking up sticks on the sabbath.

      ALL of them things you completely ignore.

      Never mind that the very word “abomination” is a mistranslation. In the original Hebrew it’s more of a ritual uncleanliness that can be easily fixed. It’s also stuff that’s exclusive to Jews, but allowed for non-Jews

    • Kerry

      Jacqueline,

      You were brave to post here. I would like to believe that God lead you to do so.

      I hope you can understand that the strong emotions that come across in these replies are from loving and protective hearts. Please take some time to read and consider them, especially John’s link. *Please* read that. Thanks

    • David S

      Hi Jacqueline

      Your comments perfectly illustrate John’s point. You say you would never intentionally hurt your gay friends or clients, yet that hurt is the inevitable fruit of your theology. Read, pray and study and I hope you see that your “gay is sin” perspective is more rooted in tradition than scripture. And please know, that weather you intend it or not, perspectives like yours are doing a great deal of harm to people who are gay, to the Church, and to our witness to the world.

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

      The Bible, however, was not written in English. It doesn’t always say what you think it says just because a translator said something.

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      “I must believe you are wrong or my religion is false.”

      This is where so many people get hung up. They are terrified that if they start to question this one issue, they will lose their faith. It comes from worshipping the Bible instead of the Lord. Jesus is your salvation, not your rigid beliefs in the text. He will not leave you or forsake you ever, Jacqueline, no matter how much questioning you do. Looking into the cultural context and original language meanings of those verses and changing your mind regarding homosexuality being a sin does not negate what Christ did on the cross. The Lord wants you to use your mind and be your own person in Him. The reality is, your love for your gay friends (for whom you would lose a hand) and your belief that they are condemned forever by Jesus will continue to leave you in cognitive dissonance until you decide to delve deep into the issue. I promise…Jesus Christ can handle any doubt you throw at him.

      • DR

        This is So. Awesome. SO AWESOME.

        • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

          I so appreciate your posts on a regular basis, DR, so that is high praise and I am humbled! *hug*

          • DR

            I get so much from these comments and learn so much from those of you who engage.

          • Jill

            Nicole and DR, this is why I stay engaged and keep reading the comments. Much appreciated for the enlightened discussion!

      • otter

        WOW!

  • Judy

    Recently the Marin website posted a request for Christian parents of LGBT children to tell their reaction to their childs coming out They said they wanted to use the stories as a resource. . As the very proud Christian mother of a Christian gay son, I was going to volunteer to help. I am already a resource for parents on gaychristian.net. And then I came to the phrase in the posting where they quoted Billy Graham. And I blew my top ! I posted this on their website and have received no reply:

    How could you? How could you? Billy Graham denigrated all that my child is, he encouraged NC to continue to treat him and all LGBT as second class citizens. I have heard Andrew speak and while I appreciated the whole bridge building,there comes a time when enough is enough! Jesus did not mince words when he spoke of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, calling them vipers and whited sepulchres. It is time for Christian straight allies to quit being so namby pamby nice and take a stand for what is right and righteous and fair.God loves my son and the entire LGBT community no less than He loves me and they are just as worthy of total inclusion in the church.

    • Kerry

      Good for you Judy – I’m glad you wrote that!

      I think you will like this piece and want to share it with you

      http://momastery.com/blog/2010/10/14/a-mountain-im-willing-to-die-on/

      • http://small-letters.com Mindy M.

        Wow, that piece is incredible. !!

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

      Really? You received no reply on that? I’m so surprised.

      No, but great job, Judy.

    • BR

      Excellent comment, Judy

    • http://deep.mastersfamily.org BJohnM

      Thank you Judy. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, “When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.”

      The lack of widespread condemnation of hate speech coming from pulpits speaks volumes. And to those who would argue that not all Christians are like these preachers, my response is that silence and lack of loud public condemnation equates to a tacit endorsement of the evil being preached in these pulpits. Evil happens when good people do nothing. Silently sitting on one’s hands is not an option. Either oppose hate and injustice or you become part of the problem. The very first item in the very first Social Creed of the Methodists (of which I am one) was, “For equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life.”

      Again, Dr. King says it far more eloquently, “The church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.” (Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 1963) This understanding is what is lacking in too many churches and denominations today.

      • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

        Yep. It’s like that Edmund Burke quote, that, “Evil triumphs through the inaction of good people.” When people fail to stand up against abusive behaviour they really are just giving abusers permission to run amuck. That’s true whether its their fight or not.

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

      Your son, my brother because he’s a Christian, is totally included in the Church as Jesus sees it. That people on earth who are charged with reflecting that Kingdom of God deny it is nothing less than evil.

      Very well said, Judy. It’s too bad that none of them has the commitment or integrity to respond to you.

      As for using Graham’s words while building bridges, this is a chronic problem when dealing with someone in a privileged position: they don’t even see how someone might react.

    • truerthanfiction

      Where is the gene that proves intrinsic, inborn homosexuality? Never been found. So its all assertion, nothing more , just loud insistent assertions.

      • Cat Rennolds

        Just because there isn’t a single gene for homosexuality doesn’t mean it isn’t genetic, inborn and intrinsic. Homosexuality HAS been found to be highly heritable, and there are several genes with a high level of association. They’d find more if there were money in looking for them, but the current political climate makes that money as hard to find as the genes.

        Eye color takes at least 6 genes for a 90% prediction and they haven’t made final determination on how many genes are actually involved. Does that mean you can choose your eye color? Or is it a sin to have blue eyes?

        http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v13/n5/full/embor201248a.html?WT.mc_id=FBK_NPG.

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

          Indeed, more than one gene. It’s also part in utero environment – both the genetic element and the in utero element can be measured by twin studies. Even though that doesn’t say *which* genes, it does prove it is genetic and a matter of fetal development. Either way, it’s something that’s set at birth. That’s no longer contested.

          • Allie

            It’s worth mentioning that many other traits which are inborn are not genetic. For example, left- or right-handedness, cowlicks in hair, and birthmarks, in human beings.

            In horses it’s easier to see. In the case of cloned horses – clones do not have the same markings, because the marks are determined by how fast the cells which will determine color migrate across the fetus. But I don’t think anyone would claim horses choose to have two white socks and a star on the forehead.

      • http://www.exilemusings.blog.com Amaranth

        Where is the gene that proves intrinsic, inborn heterosexuality? Yeah, funny how that hasn’t been found either.

        Genetics fail.

    • Lymis

      Wonderful. Thank you.

      How long did the post stay up?

  • http://davekellerblog.com Dave Keller

    You’re right, John, a side has to be chosen. In Revelation 3:16, Jesus said: “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

    I follow Christ with my heart not man-made interpretation of his teaching. God’s Spirit speaks to anyone who listens, not just those with rank in the Church. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that homosexuality is NOT a sin. Homosexual acts between two consenting adults as an expression of love and affection is NOT a sin either.

    Thank you, John, for all you do. I believe your work does lead others to truth and Christ.

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

      Thanks for this, Dave.

  • Neil in LA

    For what it’s worth, I tweeted Andrew and asked him if he can say that “Being gay is not a sin” and he didn’t respond. As a unrepentant horny faggot, I am appaled that he says he is building bridges and yet is still all full of such BS. But whatever! No skin off my back! I know Jesus loves me, that’s all that matters! Not some straight idiot in po-dunk Iowa or wherever!!! His opinion is irrelevant!!!

  • Mezzanine

    I don’t know if it’s always that simple, John.

    I grew up on the “being gay is a sin” side, and had to spend twelve years in the land of “I don’t know if it is or not” before I finally managed to cross all the way over to “it’s not”. That last step isn’t always an easy one – and for some of us, it takes a long time. And yet – I think that when I was saying “I’m not sure whether being gay is okay or not” that was a positive thing, because I was doing it instead of saying “yeah, it’s a sin” – and it slowly got me across the gap to where I am now.

    • vj

      This sounds very similar similar to my own experience. It can be scary to let go of long-held beliefs, and to step out in faith into a new way of seeing/thinking/being/doing. It HAS to be a personal conviction, not just ‘because X says so’ (isn’t that why most people have, and cling so hard to, their misguided beliefs in the first place?).

      That being said, I think John’s work in consistently challenging both bigots and fence-sitters is vital to actually opening people’s eyes. Sometimes the desert becomes so familiar, we don’t realize we’re stuck until someone points it out… Keep it up, John!

    • Daniel

      “…I think that when I was saying “I’m not sure whether being gay is okay or not” that was a positive thing, because I was doing it instead of saying “yeah, it’s a sin” ”

      A positive thing? Eh, not really.

      It may well have been a *necessary* step in your evolution, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it as “positive” one. It’s kind of like “Well, I stopped beating the guy up, but I’m not sure whether or not I should help him up off the ground. I need to give it more thought.”

      And frankly, twelve years is a long time to not be sure.

      That said, I’m glad you completed your evolution. I sincerely hope I didn’t come across as attacking you. I am merely trying to challenge the notion that “I’m not sure” is all that much better than “It’s a sin”. In my experience, “I’m not sure” just means “I don’t want to *admit* that I think it’s a sin.”

      Not really that much better.

    • Mindy

      Then Andrew Marin needs to say, “I’m not sure whether being gay is a sin or not.”

      He won’t even commit to the fact that he can’t decide. He just won’t say. And that is completely dishonest.

    • DR

      I”m so confused as to why those of you are suggesting John or anyone else is saying this is “simple”.

      Abuse is black and white. This is abuse. We are abusing the GLBT community emotionally, spiritually and also creating an environment where they are getting hurt physically. We have removed rights from our fellow citizens.

      Does change take time? Of course, no one is suggesting it is not. But there is a subtle blame game happening here, that if those of us who are *not* patient with abuse remaining abusive with those who want to suggest that the sanctioning of abuse is just some disagreement on a theological and idea level is putting the problem on us.

      People respond IMMEDIATELY to the abuse of a child. That we are somehow trying to create this “cognitive space” where there’s room for people to slowly and gently move to the idea that abuse is occurring and if we don’t, it’s our fault that they don’t make that move is so unsettling.

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

      No, not really.

      The “I don’t know” position might seem okay to you, because you’re in the privileged position of not being targeted. Not completely unlike people during the Jim Crow era who didn’t participate in lynchings and didn’t have to deal with segregated lunch counters, but weren’t sure that we should pass the Civil Rights Act.

      Or like Germans who didn’t actually turn in their Jewish neighbors, but wouldn’t hide, them, either.

      Indecision can be very comfortable, and it looks good from the safe position of privilege. To those who are being abused, though, the indecisive look a lot like the oppressors.

      So … No, there should not be a whole lot of slack cut to those who say that they’re dealing with it but won’t be honest enough to say what they’re doing. Uselessly sitting around being sort-of-polite to each other might make us straight folks feel okay, but it’s not doing anything for our victims.

      I say this having been on the wrong side, not that long ago.

      • Lawrence Petry

        you have to remember that those coming from the “privileged” side of things don’t see or grasp it in the same way. (for a slew of reasons, and with various levels of intent or ignorance)

        frustrating, unfortunate, etc. But it’s reality.

        but, that’s one of the major starting points. For some, the issue is simply simple. For those (on the other side), it’s not (yet).

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

          And if they’re in that position, then codling them isn’t going to wake them up.

          Desegregation happened because people stood up and said, “No, we won’t sit down” not “How about if we sit down and chat for a couple of decades about how you might feel if maybe you considered thinking about the merits of thinking about whether it might not be so bad to let all people sit together? Someday. Maybe.”

          If no one ever shook up the comfort zones of the privileged, then nothing would ever be changed.

          • Lawrence Petry

            right.

            I’m just saying, don’t be shocked or dumbfounded that people SEE things differently.

            There are obviously many progressive minds around here, but to an extent, these are vastly different paradigms, and jumping from one to other is not always an immediate thing.

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

            Tell you what … try peddling this stuff to KarenatFOH, who is being persecuted AS WE SPEAK.

            You want to know what brought me over from being as bigoted as anyone to where I am now? Being slapped in the face with the realization that I was a bigot, and that I knew gay people who were as good as I was.

            It wasn’t some soft, squishy cuddly approach. It was a hard reality that I was the one casting stones, going after specks with my own plank intact, judging, or anything else Jesus said not to do. I was the whited sepulchre.

            So, like Jesus, I’m all for calling sin out where it exists. If you have a problem with that, then I guess that’s how you choose to see things. Have fun with that. But don’t expect me to respect it.

            I guess I don’t see the advantage to using the kid gloves with those who already have the privilege and power. Unless, of course, you’re just interested in the path of least resistance.

            Don’t ever mistake the path of least resistance, though, with the Christian calling.

          • n.

            Yeah, like that.

          • KarenAtFOH

            It was painful enough to have the senior pastor – my boss and my pastor – sit me down in his office and say someone in the congregation had questions about my relationship with my girlfriend, whereupon he proceeded to explain how I had to either agree to be celibate or he would have to remove me from the staff. And then, after a new pastor came in and I lost my job, I applied for a position in a church where the senior pastor had written a book and preached sermons on the need for Christians to reexamine their long-held views towards gays and lesbians. I was so hopeful! But the human resource person explained that their staff policy required them to uphold a provision in the Methodist Book of Discipline which they said precluded them from having an LGBT person in a leadership position unless they were celibate. So it was OK to think about change, but when the rubber meets the road, I was still a sinner and unworthy of a position. Ugh. I loved my job, I loved serving in the church, I loved the people, the getting up at 5 AM and working nonstop for 3 services until after noon every Sunday, the rehearsals, and the hours of preparation. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but you know, now that I am in San Diego, even here churches big enough to support me as an audio engineer, turn out to be evangelical monsters towards gays and lesbians. I felt sure God had called me to Technical Ministry; I had a dream-come-true job with people who I thought loved and supported me, but that career door feels slammed in my face. I feel betrayed and deeply hurt. Perhaps I am being called to take my gifts into the secular world. Perhaps I have been deluding myself about any calling at all. Coming here to struggle with rebuilding our lives and finding income is difficult, but the deep south and its prejudice was taking us down for the count. Right now, I have more faith in fairness and concern from the people of California than I do in any church. And that makes me very sad.

          • Christelle

            KarenAtFOH: Thank you for sharing your story. I am a firm believer that stories are what change people’s perspectives. I also believe that everyone has a story – and our stories must be told so that other’s will know – that they are not alone. Karen, you are brave. I am from San Diego too. And I have not yet publicly shared my story (I have privately)… because I am not yet as brave as you… you are not alone… stay strong, my friend… I do believe that the tides are turning, at least in San Diego… and California…

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

            I’m so sorry. That is brutally unfair to you and to your congregation. You have a heart to serve that not everyone has, you love your congregation, and they’re treating you as less than you deserve.

            It breaks my heart to see my sister being abused like this.

            If you feel like you’ve been called into this kind of service, then I believe you — I have no business questioning your calling. Nor does anyone else, even if s/he has the title “pastor.”

            I don’t know if this is any comfort at all, but I’m reminded of Matthew 10, in which Jesus sends out His disciples and tells them to go show love to people, but that there will be communities that don’t accept them. He instructs them to shake the dust off of their sandals as they leave those towns, because judgment will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for those towns.

            I’m not going to claim any great prophecy or wisdom here, just a feeling. But I think that if you’ve been called, and they’re refusing to accept it, then they’re playing the part of the towns who won’t accept the gift of your service.

            That makes me sad, too. And angry. I’m sorry that you’re going through this.

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

            Side note: Up until recently, I’ve been on my church’s worship team as a graphics-projection tech. (I coined the term “graphician,” feel free to spread it around.)

            So, we have that in common!

        • Lymis

          This phrasing of yours – “you have to remember….” is almost never used by anyone who doesn’t mean, “you have to excuse….”

          Believe me, it is absolutely impossible for any thinking person affected by this issue not to be aware that people on the privileged side of things don’t all see it the same way – otherwise we wouldn’t be facing the legal, moral, financial, and physical oppression we do.

          You seem absolutely focused on constantly pointing out that there are people who disagree. As a result, you come across as speaking in their defense. If that’s your intention, just do everyone a favor and drop the pretense. If that isn’t your intention, then just what the heck is?

          • Lawrence Petry

            i don’t recall ever making any pretenses.

          • Lymis

            That doesn’t surprise me in the least.

          • Lawrence Petry

            ok.

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      I think that’s a normal transitional process for anyone who was raised with a conservative view regarding the nature LGBT relationships. We start to open our minds, we take in new information, new experiences, we have friends who we love who are gay, eventually we realize that gay is not sin.

      The problem with Marin is that he is a pastor. He is a pastor reaching out to gay people on a pretext, and as his flock grows and his church prospers, so does he. Pastors should be held to a stricter standard, and getting people to come to your church because they think you believe something you actually do not is absolutely heinous. Jesus didn’t rely on lies and trickery to create the church. He didn’t need “conversion tactics.”

      Once you start treating Christianity as a business it likely become easy to tell yourself its OK to misrepresent your beliefs to people, so long as it brings them in the door. That’s a pretty grave issue…as grave as telling some people they don’t have the right to love and be loved simply because they were built with a love radar that points them to their own gender.

      • Lawrence Petry

        good summary Barnmaven. This helps bring it into focus a bit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matttweedell Matthew Tweedell via Facebook

    What’s the purpose of dialog? Simple: Understanding one another.
    What is belief? Easy: One’s understanding.
    No fair pretending at the first while refusing to acknowledge the second, right?

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    I am going to play devil’s advocate here. (Cause I can, and cause I like rattling the cage, and because I haven’t had coffee yet.)

    Many of us used to be on the “other side” of this important social issue. And for many of us who are straight, and have come to view things more properly it has been a process that has taken time. For some it has been easier then others. But I suspect it was because of things that someone said, or did, that triggered the “wait a second, that challenges my views just enough to question them!”

    Maybe Marin is rather stuck on a bridge, not yet willing to step onto one side or another. But I suspect he represents a lot of Christians. It is hard changing hard held beliefs…one day I need to share how different my beliefs are from what the religious group I spent the first 30 years of my life in, and how hard that was. There is guilt, there is fear that God is angry at you, there is the knowledge that your social peers (friends, family) are going to be angry at you, judge you etc. For some its too much and they turn back, or they find themselves stuck, uncertain which is right, and they can never take those steps to get off that bridge, as one knows the moment you cross it, the other side is no longer accessible.

    I think that Marin may represent people like that. Not ready to commit to either ideal, hedging his bets, just in case. It’s not a comfortable place to be, and eventually the bridge itself becomes unbearable because the pull from either side becomes to strong.

    • Kelven

      You make a lot of good points. There are a fair number of people here who make similar points and I think they have a lot of validity. From my perspective though, Christianity has become like a very large house that is on fire, and people like John are yelling at those who are too stubborn to exit. The time for indecision is over.

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

      Sd: Marin will find that bridge uncomfortable when he’s no longer getting paid so handsomely to dance on it.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        Yeah, John there is that. The handsome paydays do sort of justify the installing the barcolounger and the big screen right smack in the middle of that durn ole bridge.

      • http://www.unchainedfaith.com Amy

        That’s my problem with it, too. I think I wouldn’t care how much he waffled, if he weren’t getting paid to do it. My one experience with his foundation was decidedly negative. I was new-ish to no longer believing gay=horrible sin and didn’t know where to go to find other like-minded Christians. A friend suggested Marin. I emailed to ask what steps to take next, and all I got was “send us money.”

    • Daniel

      “There is guilt, there is fear that God is angry at you, there is the knowledge that your social peers (friends, family) are going to be angry at you, judge you etc. For some its too much and they turn back, or they find themselves stuck, uncertain which is right, and they can never take those steps to get off that bridge, as one knows the moment you cross it, the other side is no longer accessible.”

      The problem is, you have just described the emotional turmoil that closeted gay people in many Christian churches go through every single day. I apologize if this sounds a bit harsh, but continuing to condemn LGTB people simply because one is afraid that the consequences of *not* doing so will make their own lives uncomfortable is still a pretty selfish and despicable act, no matter how one tries to pretty it up.

      I understand that people need to come to terms with this issue in their own time, but in the meantime, I don’t think we should alleviate whatever guilt they may feel about harboring homophobic attitudes by creating a false middle ground that does not truly exist. Organizations that allow people believe that their bigotry is okay as long as they continue to claim that it’s done in a loving, Christ-like manner do no favors for either side of the issue.

      If you encounter a racist, do you worry that their friends in the KKK might not accept them anymore if they were to change their beliefs? Do you create a support group which refuses to say that racism is wrong so that the person in question doesn’t have to feel guilty about harboring these beliefs?

      Of course not.

      Because we all freely acknowledge that racists are the bad guys, right?

      Well, here’s the thing; homophobes are bad guys, too. Oh, sure, many of them have the potential to shed these beliefs and reveal the truly wonderful and loving person underneath, but until they actually *do* so, they are the villain in the story. No matter how hard one tries to disguise these beliefs, they are a black, creeping, destructive cancer in the body of Christianity, and we should not endeavor to make someone feel less guilty for helping that cancer to spread.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        I can’t call all people who are homophobic or racists bad guys or villains. To me that takes things way too far. Such mindsets are learned, the beliefs are evil, they are a cancer, they need to be removed from the church. I agree that those ideas, which have been pervasive in the church, cause…sigh…God chose humans to be the church. But the people who hold those mindsets being evil? For some, that would be true, for the rest, I don’t think so. They believe thus because they’ve not been shown otherwise.

        Yes, bigotry is wrong, whether it be against a skin color, a nationality, a gender or sexual orientation issue, a political view etc. Its wrong, on that we all agree. We are right to call it evil, as it is clear how it is dividing the church, harming congregations, preventing their growth, causing pain and suffering to people. For those that promote bigotry and the hatefulness that tends to run in tandem, we do need to cry foul. We need to point to what Christ did, what he said, what he didn’t say. We need to emulate his actions, remembering that He was found to keep company with both the socially acceptable and those that weren’t in his day.

        We do not need to play “love the sinner, hate the sin” game. Because in my experience, people can’t seem to separate the two.

        Jesus, to play with the whole bridge analogy, successfully did what Marin cannot. He understood where people came from, why they thought the way they did. He knew that humans, who He ultimately would die for, could find it in themselves to be heartless shitheads towards another, yet He died for all of us. We all have prejudices, hard feelings to one person or group, for a myriad of reasons. We all have issues with others, odd ideas on who or what is the right way to live…yet Jesus is still crazy about us, even if we are total screw-ups in the human interaction department. It’s hard for us, for me to wrap my head around God being really enamored of a person who’s viewpoints I disagree with so sharply, but apparently He does. If only we could be a bit more like Him. A quite difficult, nearly impossible task.

        Christian history proves how horrible we can be towards others. It also shows how wonderful we can be when we don’t let the negatives, the bigotry, the ignorance and self-righteous ideas get in the way of what we are commanded to do…love one another.

        • DR

          It’s as though you believe criminals are somehow calculating, deliberately evil individuals. There are a million things that go into someone committing a crime, desperation, ignorance, fear, a need to fit in with a gang – all of these generally contribute to a bad choice. A crime.

          You seem to want to give a lot of space for those who are “still in process” which makes sense on one level. I get it, most of us were there, these things take time. But to suggest we shouldn’t push people hard is for me, like suggesting we stop pushing a parent who is beating their child to stop, that they are just going to do so on their own timeline. While that’s true, I can’t morally stand by the sidelines and call that act anything other but abuse. The child *needs* me to call it that! And if the “parent” in this analogy feels badly about being called an abuser, that’s not my issue.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            There is a balance there DR. Do we stop pushing? No! But do these things take time? Absolutely. Is it ever over? Sadly no. Do we need to be patient? Yeah, its hard, as we want things fixed now, but life and society don’t work that way. Do we give up? Absolutely not. Is making positive change against a tide a long hard slog? Of course it is. Do we need to give people time to come to terms with the upending of all they thought valid, true and god-given? Yes. Will everyone we hope to have changed minds and hearts on the matter have hoped for results? No. Do we give up? No, but know that its a long hard slog, and there is always someone else that may change their mind and that person may be the catalyst for the first one to change theirs.

          • DR

            This need for “balance” is one that is a privileged view from those of us on the sidelines who are not experiencing this oppression. I’m not sure what you’re asking or insinuating, patience is all people have. You seem to be focused on civility being the exact means to an end by which people change and history just simply doesn’t agree with you.

            These are all very nice words but I wonder what you’re really saying. I don’t have patience for abusers, though I do have patience for people who are participating in that abuse and are open to changing their minds. I have zero patience for those who are aggressively unrepentant.

            We – as a Church – are sanctioning oppression and abuse. It is despicable. I will not stand for it. I will not tolerate anyone who is asking me to tolerate it. I will call it out directly. I will challenge those who continue to sponsor it and I will also take issue with those of you who are somehow blaming those of us who are calling these people out aggressively as somehow the reason they aren’t changing their minds. People who pursue the Truth of Jesus Christ find it. These people who are finding reasons to leave the dialogue because it hurts their feelings are doing so because they are not yet ready or willing to hear the Truth. Period. Please stop laying the responsibility of their refusal to accept it on those of us who are acting out of a desperate need to protect.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            I am an abuse survivor DR, so I do understand what it does to one. I just found that survival for me emotionally means walking a different path. Aggression for me solved nothing, being willing to be listened to, be assisted, having people there to help me navigate a way out. That is what worked.

            I agree that the church has a lot to answer for in what it has sanctioned. I’m living proof of that, the church did nothing for me. How to change it? That is the question. I think there is more then one way. I cannot bemoan yours, this is merely mine.

          • DR

            That you as an abuse survivor do not need someone to express outrage at what your abuser did is perfectly fine for you, I’m glad you’re healing. Good for you. But in this comment, you’re mixing up being a victim and being an abuser in this scenario. Gay men and women have told us time and time again that watching those of us who are Christian stand up to the abuse in the church that we still attend and support and belong to is essential for them to believe in us, to believe that there will be real change.

          • KarenAtFOH

            All right, now I’m starting to cry. Thank you DR, for your support. I’m feeling so beaten down and in pain by what I’m hearing and experiencing from Christians, I don’t know if I can call myself one anymore. I was baptized Lutheran 58 years ago and have spent most of those years in church. Until recently I was even on the staff of a large Methodist church. But they set me aside like last week’s trash, and when I applied for a position at the largest Methodist church in the country, I was told my desire to be married to my girlfriend would disqualify me for a staff position. I am heartbroken beyond words. Christianity is indeed on fire, and I’ve been doused with the flames. There are days I’m not sure I’ll pull through.

          • Gordon

            John Shore: 911

          • Christelle

            Karen, I’m so sorry this happened to you… You are loved, my friend… and you have friends, here, on John’s site… listening… and tho I don’t know you, I can hear your heart – you are beautiful, you are courageous, you are glorious and wonderful… hang on! You are not alone…

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

            Karen, you do have people here and all over the world who support you. I have only the smallest of inklings of what you’re going through, so I won’t pretend otherwise. Our prayers go out to you and we are more than willing to listen.

            If you’re looking for more practical help, the Reconciling Ministries Network– http://www.rmnetwork.org/ — might be able to do more within your denomination than any of us can.

          • DR

            I cannot imagine what you’ve experienced. I really can’t. I would do anything to change it. While I’m straight, you need to know that I will never stop fighting for you, I will never stop trying to rid our church of this filth and this stupidity and I will step in and take that heat so you don’t have to. I know that is part of my purpose. You are my sister in Christ.

          • DR

            Karen, one more thing. Don’t let anyone take away the name that Jesus gave you. Saul became Paul because of Jesus. Only He can give us our *name*, only He knows the unknowable center of who each of us are. You know who you are. He gave that name to you. It is permanent. You *are* a Christian because you *are* the woman who He redeemed.

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

            I’m a Christian, and I love you.

            Because you are my sister, and that’s all there is to it.

            I’m sorry that you’re having to put up with small-minded people who think that they have any say in what your relationship with God is.

            They don’t. Jesus loves you, whether the people who claim to represent Him do or not.

          • KarenAtFOH

            At the risk of hijacking this thread further, let me just say thank you all very much for your kindness. I feel better.

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

            Karen, it’s not hijacking at all.

            You had something to say, and it needed to be said.

            I don’t know how long you’ve been coming to John’s blog, but let me assure you that if you came by because you needed some love and support, then you didn’t change the subject — that IS the subject.

          • David S

            SD

            I wholly agree with your general thought: the arc of justice idea. But how patient do we need to be? And when you call for “balance”, what exactly does that mean?

            I know God is changing hearts and minds, and I pray He is using me in the transformation of the Church – right now and every day. I will absolutely be tolerant of people who “are not there yet” – and, no, they do not all wear black hats. But I will also always hold a mirror to their theology so they can see the real harm they are doing to real people. Being patient is not the same thing as allowing them to be comfortable in their immorality. Let’s not confuse patience with inactivity. And boldly asking for their accountability (especially for self proclaimed faith leaders like Marin) is not the same thing as intolerance.

    • http://deep.mastersfamily.org BJohnM

      SD: I understand your point, but the analogy used above about the starving man, and the man who can’t decide to share his food is a valid one. Some argue there are no gray areas on moral issues. I believe there can be differences in understanding and beliefs, but issues of civil rights are binary ones. One is for or against equal rights for all. I’m old enough to remember the days of separate but equal, and remember adults talking about good blacks and bad blacks. The “good” ones “knew their place.” The white people who used that language patted themselves on the back because they were willing to give just a tiny bit of ground to “good blacks,” and frankly that’s the kind of situation Marin is trying to create. A place where there are good gays and bad gays…the good ones being the ones that will let the straight christian anti-gay people (I like to call them the krazy krisitan kooks) off easy by not demanding equal rights…the ones that know their place (in a different line, at a different water fountain, their kids not in our child’s school, etc., not shoving their “lifestyle” in our face with PDA’s).

      Is it moral to hate gay people? Of course not, but I will give ground on the fact that some people have been taught that’s what the scriptures say. So, OK, all I can do is try to educate you that everything you’ve been taught all your life by the krazy kristian kook Pastor at your church is wrong. I admit that will be hard for me to teach and you to learn, but I’m willing to take the time. Just like I’d be willing to have a conversation with a skinhead, and try to teach him/her they are wrong and immoral to hate people of a different color, but in the meantime, I will not let them deny equal treatment under the law to anyone.

      I think that’s where Marin drives off the bridge. Having the conversation about the moral beliefs and understandings we each have is fine…in the meantime, I can be fired from a job just for being gay (Not three months ago a director at the company I work for inadvertently sent me an IM meant for someone else saying, “Happy V-Day your Homo,” and nothing happened to him because my company doesn’t include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination statement because the government doesn’t require it…I’ve been told), I can’t get my lover of 11 years on my company insurance, we don’t have guaranteed hospital visitation rights despite all the paperwork being done, we can’t file a joint tax return, and on and on. LGBT people, just like Blacks, should not have to wait until we’ve exhausted the conversation on the morality of these issues to have equal rights in civil space.

      Like the starving man analogy above, Marin’s ideas are simply stalling tactics. “Let me think about this over dinner, and I’ll get back to you.”

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

        brilliant.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        I can’t disagree with anything there BJohnM. I live surrounded by a lot of the prejudices that have been a part of the local culture and the local church for several generations.

        My darling husband, (we’ve been married six weeks) is finding that all the beliefs he thought were valid, being challenged and questioned by yours truly. He is willing to discuss it, the whys those beliefs are there and is at least willing to admit that it is a difficult pill to swallow, that letting go of those assumptions about race, and orientation. BUT he’s thinking about it, willing to discuss, and to do so respectfully. He knows exactly where I stand, and respects it, I know where he stands, and although I respect it, and challenging it. I tried to warn the poor guy ahead of time.

        I loath hearing stories like your supposed valentine’s day greeting. It is pure meanness, spiteful and intended to hurt. That causes me grief to hear that anyone is subjected to such actions. That I know, that it happens openly in the church is to me something to be ashamed of. That I can’t prevent it from happening is frustration indeed. All I know to do is try to change my corner of Christendom. My methods, others may not agree with. But I am an avowed non-confrontationalist. I prefer to work by the proverb “A gentle answer turns away wrath”. I would love to rid the world of all the wrath.

        Yeah, I am Pollyanna, pinafore and all.

        • DR

          I love gentle people, they serve an important role in the world. I know this level of discourse is challenging for some of you when it gets rough. Do consider history – these civil rights issues, human rights issues that are so deeply rooted in “God tells me my belief is ok” are some of the worst in our history, some of the hardest to change. People are validated by their religious beliefs on an extremely personal level, gentle and civil discourse often does not shake them into the awareness that they (we) are hurting people by our beliefs. It doesn’t often cause us to care about that – it’s only when someone is in our face a little bit do many of us react. It’s like an alcoholic who needs an intervention – our church regarding this issue needs an intervention.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Maybe I’m too soft-hearted for all the pain we inflict upon one another. I find it unbearable. While I understand the needed backlash, I find it also difficult to bear as I only wish we could just understand the simple truths of God’s extraordinary love for every person who’s lived had lived, and will live.

            Maybe I’ve experienced too much pain myself, for different reasons then this topic, am still dealing with the aftermath, and know the hurt enough to understand that the hurting of others hurts us all, and just want it to end, for all our sakes.

            Maybe I feel woefully inadequate to do a damned thing, but want to, but know only that the gentle way is the only way I can begin to navigate. In my heart, I prefer to be working in the healing tent, not the battleground.

          • DR

            I think it’s so important to be aware of ourselves. I’ve been there! I couldn’t handle conflict because I couldn’t handle feeling my own pain. Sometimes that’s what happens in conversations like these, we see our own need and react to it as though it was true for those in the conversation. I totally get that!

            One thing to remember is people read here before commenting. They know what they are getting into. They are choosing to engage. It is serving them. We often unconsciously seek out those who will stop us, who will wake us up. We need people to shake us because our nature craves the comfort and security of our own, unchanged self. It’s not natural to change so people often seek out those who will be the catalyst for a new kind of growth.

          • DR

            PS, you should be exactly where you want to be. Do what is natural for you. But also allow yourself to consider that those of us who are come across harshly are also in the healing tent with you. People need different things to change, grow and restore who we are before Christ. Gentleness is one of those things. Tough love is another.

            Thanks for the conversation, much love to you.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Thanks DR. I realize now that I shouldn’t have engaged at all. I support what you all are doing 100%, I just can’t personally get as in your face as some of you are able. I find myself in not as strong an emotional state as I thought, and this conversation just triggered some very unhappy emotions I am trying damned hard to keep tamped down.

          • DR

            I think everyone has a voice in this discussion, including you. Your healing is just as important as everyone else’s, my friend. Sometimes these conversations I have here are way, way more about me and what the Holy Spirit is trying to show *me* than anyone else. xoxoxoxoxo

          • Cat Rennolds

            just, when you aim your righteous anger, remember that a sniper rifle means a lot fewer civilian casualties than a bazooka or a high-powered explosive.

          • DR

            Beautifully said once again. :)

          • DR

            (I’ve been a little worried about you today for some reason. Check in with us and let us know if you’re ok if you can, healing from abuse is a serious matter and triggering days can get pretty bad. Much love to you and I’m very sorry if this conversation was difficult or I was too tough on you. I can be, and know that I’m thinking a lot about what you said. I think it’s something I need to pay more attention to, Thanks for being brave and saying what you did, it’s hard to be a fish swimming upstream).

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Im doing ok. Its been a rough few years, and the past month has been a series of highs and lows. I recently remarried a beautiful man who frets over me if I get the sniffles. (being spoiled is a novel yet wonderful thing. I am a fortunate woman). But he also had a health scare less then a week before our wedding. The tough time for me right now is that I got fired last week,(I was 19 the last time that happened) and it triggered memories of when I had to undergo bankruptcy, thank to the ex/abuser. It was a horrible time. The uncertainty of new employment,the piling of bills on top of things has made me more vulnerable then I though emotionally.

            Usually I can hold my own, yesterday was not one of them. I have thought on the comments made, and know the rightness of them. I also know that although I am on board 100%, my role may need to be better thought out. Thank you so much for your concern. Why I am here. This group offers much, for a lot of people who are hurting, healing, dealing with how to change for the better etc. I am thankful to be at the table.

          • DR

            Ugh, that is TOUGH. I’m glad you’re here too. xoxo

        • http://deep.mastersfamily.org BJohnM

          That’s my point SD. I understand that prejudices become tightly engrained. I get it. Passing civil rights legislation and throwing out Jim Crow laws hasn’t ended prejudice against Blacks. There are still skin heads and klansmen.

          Giving gay people the right to get a marriage license (given by the state, not the church by the way) will not end homophobia. I know that.

          My point is, have your prejudices if you must. I’m even willing to take some time to work with you on them, but I will not, can not, and should not have to wait to enjoy full civil rights.

          I’ll deal with the misguided beliefs of you and your Pastor tomorrow. Today, I want my government to treat me as an equal to you and your Pastor and your husband. We can meet to Marin’s bridge to discuss the theology of it all tomorrow.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            I’d love to speak more with you. Looking forward to the conversation.

            Just a note. I support equality for all people, as I believe God wants it that way. I part company on the church on that, and with a whole load of people who believe otherwise. I really am on your side.

        • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

          See, this is one thing I totally don’t get– the whole idea of “respecting” ideas with which you completely disagree. I don’t know how many times I’ve read someone say, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree” or “I respect your opinion, so you have to respect mine.” I’m always like, ‘What? You just told me I was deceiving people into the dangers of hellfire, but you respect my opinion?’

          I mean, it’s one thing to respect differing opinions about inconsequential things– A1 vs. Worcestershire sauce or whether dogs or cats make better pets. But on issues where what the other person is doing is actually harmful, I can’t claim to respect their opinion. It’s like, “I don’t believe my firing this shotgun point blank into this person’s chest will hurt them. You have to respect my opinion!” Um… No. No, I don’t.

          For me, if I respect your opinion it’s because: 1) I share it; 2) I’m undecided and yours is an option I’m considering; or 3) It’s something inconsequential that is unlikely to result in harm. If your opinion doesn’t fall into those categories, while I will fight tooth and claw for your right to hold that opinion, I do not and will not respect it. Sorry.

          So, that’s me. I just find the whole equality of ideas, that all opinions are of equal value, completely beyond my ken.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Maybe the better way to phrase it is to say “I respect you enough to give you the freedom to have ideas I in no way agree, want to participate in, or condone.” knowing full well it may not be reciprocated. It also gives us the right to express or suppress our own opinions on the matter, whether we get the same back or not. I don’t think all opinions are of equal value, or else they wouldn’t be subject to change. There is a ranking of opinion according to what they are, except of course for our own, which are held the dearest to our hearts.

    • Lawrence Petry

      and my question(s) is this:

      how then do people change? or cross over from one viewpoint/understanding to another? (to continue the bridge thing)

      are people like Marin helpful in this process? Can it happen without them? Must it happen without them? Is it possible for people’s minds to be changed through their work?

      I (think I) get what you’re throwing down John, but the reality is, that there WILL be people who don’t see it like you do. There will be people who remain “on the bridge”, for both positive and negative reasons.

      I think I’m attempting to consider this more from a ground-level church leader’s perspective (or the every-day individual), as opposed to a Big-Name working with LGBTQ persons. I’m wondering how that changes the tenor of the post, if at all.

  • Jeff Straka

    I think this quote speaks to Marin’s “bridge building” scam quite well:

    “Sometimes burning bridges isn’t a bad thing…It prevents you from going back to a place you should never have been to begin with.”

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren Throckmorton

    John – Consider this a friendly criticism:

    You said: The people on one side of this debate—the majority, which wields all the power—are claiming that, in the eyes of God, those on the other side are less than human.

    That is an irresponsible statement and one which polarizes this discussion more. You have lumped everyone together who holds one view in common which is a common and oft effective debate tactic but is designed to win a debate by shutting it down.

    There is a great big world out there with people in lots of cognitive spaces. Marin is a good guy and makes a valuable contribution. Putting things in such black and white terms is unhelpful in my view. I already know what your answer will be so I am not interested in debating. I am hopeful that you will consider bringing down the rhetoric.

    • Kelven

      From my perspective people like Andrew Marin are not helping the dialog on this and I would say he is adding to the problem. Telling me I am going to hell because of who I am is pretty polarizing. How nice you say it is irrelevant. And telling people who believe such things that it is ok to hold that view as long as they are polite about it just perpetuates the status quo.

      Also, you can’t just throw some strong opinion down on the Internet and not expect people to debate it. That is the nature of the medium.

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

      Warren: As far as I know, you are still trafficking in exactly the same trade as Marin: you seem to very much affirm gay people, but ultimately do not. I do hope I’m mistaken about that; it’s been awhile since we chatted. But by way of clarifying: Do you believe that in the eyes of God, a gay couple is inherently no more sinful than is a straight couple? If your answer is yes, then I’m glad to hear it! If it’s no, then … then there you are. If you ignore the question (and let’s not kid ourselves: you’ll see this response), or avoid answering it directly, then you have no business talking to me about what does and doesn’t constitute an irresponsible statement.

      • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

        As always, this issue gets muddy because so much weight is given by Christians of the right to what the Bible says about homosexual acts being sinful, whereas almost no consideration is given to the experience of gays and lesbians having to accept our gayness as a condition of our lives that we did not choose.

        Since I didn’t choose to be gay and since I can’t change it, in what sense does that make me an immoral person? Would a fair and just god hold me accountable for a characteristic I’m powerless to do anything about?

        If this were a discussion about left-handedness, and not gayness, the argument would go something like this:

        People who use their left hands are immoral because the Bible says so. Therefore people who use their left hands, need to stop doing so. Failing to do so means that all right-thinking Christians have an obligation to reject left hand using people so that they realize how wrong it is to use their left hands. All left hand using people will end up in the fiery pit because God hates people using their left hands.

        A thinking person of faith ought to be willing to assess their beliefs by referring to not just their holy book (which they ought to realize is full of cultural bias, bad translation, and words that have lost their original meanings), but to the world at large. Defining the experiences of gay people, as a misunderstood minority, is just as valid a component of this debate. It’s our lives you’re talking about. So please, talk about this as though it was your own.

        • http://deep.mastersfamily.org BJohnM

          Your point is spot on Al, but the problem is, the people of NOM and the many other people who are anti-gay have recognized your argument for a very long time, and realize they lose based on your experience. So, they take that out of the equation by spending an enourmous amount of time convincing their followers that it is not a characteristic, but a choice, a “life-style.”

          When they convince others of that position, then it’s easy to claim you are sinful in God’s eye.

          But wait, there’s more. Notice how, as they are beginning to lose the argument based on the “choice” argument, they are starting to modify the argument to say…well, OK, maybe you believe it’s not a choice to be gay, but you do have a choice as to whether you “act” on it. You can be gay, just don’t be having any nasty gay sex.

          I’ll believe they are genuine in their arguments that only immutable characteristics should hold protected status as soon as they start clamouring for “religious beliefs” to no longer be a protected status.

          • http://comingintothesoul.wordpress.com/ HJ

            “I’ll believe they are genuine in their arguments that only immutable characteristics should hold protected status as soon as they start clamouring for “religious beliefs” to no longer be a protected status.”

            Tahahaha. Yes, this!

          • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

            The thing that’s wrong about the argument that being gay is a lifestyle choice is that it doesn’t allow that gay people don’t have much of an option to say “no” to that choice (ex-gay therapy just doesn’t work). To be in integrity, according to the Christian right, we need to accept a loveless and sexless life for ourselves. Something no heterosexual Christian needs to necessarily choose.

            We do have choices that would be acceptable to the Christian right though, as long as we’re willing to be out of integrity. I could find a nice girl and marry her. We could even have sex and have children. But in my heart of hearts I would be lying and my wife would have an incomplete partnership as her marriage. Lots of gay men have chosen this option and know it makes them into hypocrites.

            To me, living that kind of lie is both sinful and cowardly. It outwardly fulfills the requirements for a Christian-sanctioned , socially-accepted relationship but it does so at the expense of the participants in the relationship.

            Ultimately, the only honourable solution to this debate is for gay people to follow their hearts and to seek out meaningful relationships with each other. Love and integrity (what Christianity is supposed to be about) has to have the final word.

          • Kelven

            Ultimately, the question of whether being gay is a choice or not, is irrelevant. If I am doing something that doesn’t hurt anyone, it is really nobodies business but my own. And if people are really looking at it honestly, patriarchal heterosexuality is THE social experiment that has been pushed for several thousand years – with unhealthy results for most of the world. The slur “faggot” comes from The Burning Times when gay men were used in place of the kindling to burn the witches. This wholesale slaughter and torture (perpetrated by the Church of Rome) was an intentional eradication of the matriarchal, goddess centered native people throughout Europe. Though the last pope finally got around to apologize for that horror, many of these modern holy men regularly accuse pagans and anything else “feminine” of being satanic. So there are strong social “programs” that are still being reinforced at every level in our society. Paraphrasing Sinead O’Conner, “Two thousand years of diembowling is a good way to reinforce doctrine” Also, it is easy to be complacent in behavior patterns that are less than fulfilling, because of the security of routine.

            With all that being said, Christian groups like NOM and the pope have no moral standing to lecture men or women who make the “choice” to express love and affection to their own gender.

            On a lighter note, I would just like to express my appreciation for all of the sharp minds here. I am confident that this new breed of Christian that you all represent so well will become the norm sooner than later. And I apologize for my tendency to run my sentences. I am taking classes to improve my writing. (I love learning!)

      • Blake

        As a gay man who reads both of your blogs and appreciates both of your contributions please don’t let this issue build bad blood between you two. In my mind you are both working toward the same goal: a society which respects my human rights. I am confident that once such a society is erected that the rest will fall in place. Including religious belief.

        In the meantime, I would encourage you, John to reexamine your position. While you are correct that Marin provides cover for those who aren’t willing to change their minds about the essential morality of gay folks you fail to see how he is also a stepping stone for those who are on their way to your position.

        Of course Marin’s not much of a stepping stone: he’s a little too close to the opposite shore to be useful. But perhaps that’s the wrong metaphor. Think of the debate as path rather than a chasm. While Marin may not actually be leading anyone down the path he is setting them on their way, is he not? And while I know you and I both think we ALL should be much further down the path the vast majority of humanity hasn’t even found the trail-head, much less considered walking it.

        Anyway, keep up the good work John. Keep up the good work Warren. And thank you both for all you do.

        • Lymis

          Doing the wrong thing in such a way that the result is other people beginning to do the right thing may serve to create progress in the right direction, but it still doesn’t get credit as the morally right stance.

          People who campaigned for ethical and compassionate treatment of slaves certainly were on firmer moral ground than people who said that slaveowners were free to do whatever they wanted with no consequences. And, perhaps, once people started seeing slaves as deserving ethical treatment, some inevitably moved on to the idea that maybe owning them was itself bad.

          That doesn’t make the people in the “ethical slaveowning” group morally right. Nor does it make “among us white folks, let’s just agree to disagree on whether anyone should own black people” a morally valid “debate.”

        • DR

          Is he a stepping stone or is he actually creating a spirit of permissiveness? What standard are you applying?

          I’m having a difficult time with this idea that because Marin desires for Christians to stop overtly abusing the GLBT community via bullying, removal of Civil Rights, etc. he’s giving them permission to still maintain that someone is condemned by a loving God over something they can’t change.

          These arguments remind me of the movie The Help, where the white women gathering in their bridge clubs chastised one another over how to treat “their maid” all the while fighting ferociously for keeping black people out of their bathroom.

          What I do think I understand is the awareness that people do learn and change over time and that kindness and patience is the oil to that specific engine. And I have to say I don’t entirely disagree, I’m willing to re-examine some of my gruff if I’m getting enough feedback that it’s ineffective. It’s not about me, if my style is the excuse someone is using to leave the conversation then I’ll own that. (I wanted to acknowledge the intent in some of these comments)

          • Blake

            DR I agree. But it’s a bit like a chicken and egg thing. We on the side of seeing Marin as a force for good see the need to change society before we can try to make an effectual change in theology surrounding gays. Y’all seem to be coming at it from the opposite direction. Perspective, I ‘spose. I’m not really Christian so I’m not vested in trying to change christian theology when it comes to sex. My focus is getting people to respect liberty and equality despite what they believe. I see potential allies in those who see me as inherently immoral. I can stand up for their right to believe what they want to believe in a free society (although I disagree with it) and they can stand up for my civil rights although they disagree with my sinful lifestyle. It may be a pipe dream, but I think that common ground of American enlightenment principals is the low hanging fruit for reaching many Americans. That or Anheuser-Busch has wasted a lot of money coloring their cans like flags.

            But this whole blog is about changing Christian perspectives. But even in with that goal in mind when you set up these stark moral contrasts you risk driving away people who would otherwise find their way here. A Marinite is less likely to make the jump to John Shoreism now. But both Mariniates & Shorists want a just society, so, from my non-christian perspective, they’re both vastly superior to Moral Majorities and Book Worshipers and Dobsonites and Catholic Bishops.

            I’m not saying he’ s moral. I’m not saying his god is a god I want to worship. I’m saying he’s doing good despite himself. As long as y’all at the end of the path are willing to cut a little slack to those at the trail-head, a lot more folks are going to make it all the way without turning back. But if you shout them down as immoral before they’ve even stepped off… trust me I’ve been called immoral my whole life (1st as a “Mary Worshiper” than as a queer). It does not really incline one to listen.

    • DR

      “There is a great big world out there with people in lots of cognitive spaces”.

      I had no idea we were living in a world where things that harmed people are permissible because they live in a different “cognitive space”.

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

        DR: Right? Very well said.

      • Lymis

        Well, that gets back to precisely John’s statement in the main article – it reflects a conviction that gay people aren’t actually people. Harming LGBT people isn’t the same as hurting real people who actually matter, so morally, it’s up for discussion.

        • DR

          Which is why I resent the discussion about gay men and women being limited to “theological differences”. How objectifying and diminishing, to think that we could speak about you you – Lymis – beloved Child of God, loving husband, etc – as some kind of idea that we can “agree to disagree” about.

    • http://www.exilemusings.blog.com Amaranth

      As it happens, another blogger I follow just wrote a piece on exactly that issue: why the “but we don’t hate anyone!” crowd gets lumped in with the “haters”. He’s far more articulate than I could be:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/06/11/you-cant-deny-people-their-rights-and-be-nice-about-it/

      • Lawrence Petry

        i was wondering about this just yesterday.

      • Diana A.

        Excellent. Posting it on FB.

    • n.

      it’s honest, though. and accurate.

      every time i’ve actually realized that i didn’t really feel that so-and-so were real people in the same way that i am, and realized that it was wrong to feel like that even if it was deep down and unconscious (of course i would never have SAID that, but i felt it), my heart has opened to their troubles and i have become their ally.

      i was just talking to a student about it today, now the thing we haven’t quite figured out is, even if we understand how we “got” something, how to get that lightbulb to happen in other people… one thing that often works is if we can help people see the parallels between different experiences.

      but if a person has never been marginalized for anything, because they mostly belong to the dominant race/ culture/ class/ physical and mental configuration/ gender/orientation/ religion, that could be difficult.

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

      Warren:

      claiming that same-sex relationships are sin = “claiming that, in the eyes of God, [gay people] are less than human”

      It’s saying that the very best parts of me – the part that desires to love and be loved, to enter into a life-long, committed, intimate relationship with another person and care for that person – is just *no worse* than the very worst part of anyone else – the part that wants to lie, steal, cheat and kill.

      Now, when the very best parts of me are only par with the very worse parts of everyone else, how does that not me “less than”?

      • David S

        very well put Christine!

      • Gordon

        BANG! Hammer hitting nail on the head. Well said.

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

      When was the last time that any Christian said of adultery, “You know, there are lots of cognitive spaces, but I think that fidelity is better”?

      Or of murder: “Not everyone agrees, but I think that you shouldn’t kill people”?

      So why the zarking photon should John, I, or anyone else say, “We think bigotry and hatred is not ideal, but if you feel differently, then that’s okay”?

      Read the thread. Look at the stories of Christians who are being persecuted RIGHT HERE in America, by Christians. Then tell us again that bigots deserve more slack.

  • http://Difog.net Jon

    I suppose if you make your living because you say a certain thing, you’re not likely to change what you say in a hurry because you could wind up on the street. I kinda think Marin is in this position and, should he declare what he possibly really thinks, he would cause hardship for himself and his family. That’s the downside of being paid in Chrustian ‘ministry.’

    • Jeff Straka

      Geeze – being honest about who you are causing financial and relational hardship…where have I heard THOSE stories before…

  • http://castlerockbear.tumblr.com Keith Walsh

    The inherent lie within Mr. Marin’s logic is that acceptance, TRUE ACCEPTANCE of the people that he is targeting is simply not there! I see him as more of a WOLF in SHEEP’S clothing, and the problem that he has created is that too many people still see him as a sheep! Acceptance is only true when you accept ALL of a person, not just parts of the person! Selective acceptance provokes bigotry, and then hate! Total acceptance provokes understanding! Yet he keeps on preaching!

    Sorry Andrew, apology NOT ACCEPTED! Why would anyone accept an apology with a “but, blah, blah, blah” added to it? It isn’t acceptance till you accept it ALL! KUDOS, John, Love the PodCast! :)

  • Paula

    I fear that John is right. That what Marin’s project is about is the desire for conservative Christians to still feel like they are “nice guys.” But draping rainbow flags on things and then claiming “middle ground,” is likely to make the rest of us more angry than just saying, “I don’t think this is right.” As a stage along the way this middle ground is fine, but you don’t write books and start a movement.

    It’s just oogie, being cagey like that.

    I have a suggestion for them though. They should get out in front of the gay marriage movement. They can carry banners, “Whatever we think, not allowing people to marry is just plain mean.”

  • http://wilkinsonweb.com Dan Wilkinson

    In order to have a meaningful and productive conversation about contentious issues, both sides must be willing to be completely open and honest about where they stand on those issues. It’s good to be irenic, but it’s essential to be transparent. We need to be totally clear about where we stand on issues (even if our position is one of uncertainty) and completely open about our biases, motivations and goals. Bridges take you from one place to another place, and unless both sides are willing to clearly delineate their starting positions, there’s no hope of ever really connecting.

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

      Dan: exactly right. Thank you. If Marin has no clear position on this (critically important, biblically-grounded, clearly moral issue) then let him say that. The fact that he resolutely refuses to either take a position or admit to not having one means he’s not being honest. And that should mean that he lacks the moral gravitas necessary to be taken seriously in the role he so avidly claims for himself.

      The bottom line on Marin is that he’s like a ventriloquist. Standing on the right, he throws his voice so that it seems to emanate from the middle. A neat trick, to be sure. But nothing more than that.

      He isn’t asking people from either side of this issue to disarm and meet in the middle. He’s asking gay people to disarm and come into the middle, while giving people on the right full permission to remain exactly where they are, loaded weapons and all.

      Anyway, right. Thanks for nailing the point you did.

      • Jeff Straka

        Oh, I think Marin is QUITE clear on his position. He CONTINUES to use this little “motto” (this one on his 6-8-12 blog post): The Marin Foundation believes, as Billy Graham once stated, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and it’s my job to love”.

        If not “sin”, what else would the Holy Spirit be “convicting” and God “judging”?

        p.s. – Marin rightly riled some folks up on this post by his continual quoting of the same Billy Graham that supposedly (I say supposedly cuz I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t Franklin moving his daddy’s mouth) was so much in favor of NC’s amendment 1.

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

          I agree: I think he knows exactly where he stands. But I don’t KNOW that, because, of course, he simply won’t say. Not explicitly, anyway. But anyone who spends any time at all listening to his actual words can have no doubt that he believes God condemns homosexuality. Just knowing that InterVarsity press published the book upon which his entire ministry is based should be all anyone needs to know about him and his ministry.

        • http://wilkinsonweb.com Dan Wilkinson

          It’s the same response as when Christians are asked if so-and-so are going to hell, and rather than saying “yes” or “no” or “I don’t know” they say…”well it’s not my job to judge, God will decide…it’s out of my hands.” Which is all well and good…but it’s not answering the question or addressing the serious presuppositions behind the question! I’ve tried reading some of Marin’s stuff…and on the one hand it sounds great…all about love and reconciliation and bridges and love and more love. But without dealing directly with foundational beliefs it’s really just a bunch trite platitudes that gloss over a deeply divisive issue—an issue that begs for clarity and illumination rather than obfuscation.

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

            This is why I love you, Dan Wilkinson.

      • Daniel

        And…does it really need to be said that if he *doesn’t* have a position of this issue, he ought not to be forming initiatives and organizations to address it?

        Duh.

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

          Daniel: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. Way to say it better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christie.draper.58 Christie Draper via Facebook

    John, you hit the nail on the head!

    • Soulmentor

      He always does.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nwbuckeye Pat Hux via Facebook

    Got to some meat reading last night. Here’s his deal. He doesn’t understand grace. In a nutshell, and he says it more than once, he believes the Holy Spirit convicts, God judges, and we are to love. If you look at anyone, gay or purple, with the idea that you are loving them until they are convicted of sin or until God comes in on that last day and judges them, you are not accepting them. Won’t happen.

    There is some other stuff too. The GLBTs who came to his bible study thank him for not making everything about sexuality. Their experience in gay affirming places was an unwanted emphasis on how gay is OK. They wanted to study the Bible without that emphasis… like anyone else would study it. That was interesting. But those approaches should/are not be mutually exclusive!

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      “If you look at anyone, gay or purple, with the idea that you are loving them until they are convicted of sin or until God comes in on that last day and judges them, you are not accepting them. Won’t happen.”

      Agreed. It’s impossible to just be with someone and love them fully when you believe they’re going to hell. It simply doesn’t work.

      • Diana A.

        True, which is just one reason why I am a Christian Universalist.

  • Michael C

    By pretending to stand in the middle, Marin is deceiving gay people into accepting an ideology contrary to their being. By not explicitly stating his beliefs of “God’s Rules”, he is able to lure vulnerable folk into a trap of self condemnation. He seems to see his role as the bait for God’s snare, with the ultimate goal of de-gayification.

    In defense of Dr. Throckmorton, he is not tricking people into renouncing their sexuality. I believe there is a difference.

  • http://Sweethopecookies.com Anita

    I know this adds nothing to the discourse here but I can’t help but add it: Badah bing badah boom.

    Tranlated means “That’s exactly the point John. Exactly. It all adds nothing and leads nowhere. At least no where I want to go. And frankly, I’m sick up to the top of my coiffed little lesbian head about a ‘bridge between gays and Christians’ Marin is so passionate about building. With tens of thousands of us shouting our presence in the church (let alone leading and singing in the choir, teaching the children, baking and breaking the communion bread, caring for the elderly members, preaching from the pulpit, arranging the altar flowers ever so artfully) when can he buy a clue that that bridge doesn’t even exist for a massive number of both GLBTQ and straight Christians and that in focusing on ‘that’ bridge he’s actually perpetuating division.”

    See. Badah bing badah boom was so much more concise.

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      I think your post brings an element of “adorable” and “absolutely valid” to the discussion! Post more! :)

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

      Good point. For us gay Christians, the bridge goes from where to where exactly? So many seem to forget in this “dialogue” that the Venn diagram has a nice overlap. And that overlap is flesh and blood – people – not arches and cables, theologies and approaches – but people already caught up in both.

  • Neil in LA

    Maybe I have lead a bit of a sheltered life. I came out when I was 14 and spent most of my life is San Francisco and Los Angeles. But I do need clarification on this: What is it that heterosexuals find so threatening about LGBTQ, etc., sexuality/eroticism and love-expression? I really don’t get it. Why do some people find it so difficult to start accepting that we even exist, let alone deserve to live full and rich lives in peace and equality? I mean, honestly, I’m not at all attracted to women in “that way” (of course, I love women as friends and comrades) but I don’t hate opposite-sex attracted people. I don’t understand it, but I don’t want them to die or suffer or not have full and rich lives in peace and tranquility. So what is it about two men or two women that is so difficult for people to wrap their heads around and is so threatening? I just don’t get it. I apologize if this is off topic…but I really don’t understand why this is even an issue at all.

    • Lawrence Petry

      I appreciate you seeking the other’s side’s perspective.

      If you’ve lived “most of your life” in San Fran and LA, I certainly wouldn’t consider you sheltered!

      I’ll give it a whirl. First, you seem to have the “worst case” scenario in mind re: heterosexuals (not accepting your existance, wanting you to suffer, die, etc.) I understand the loudest, most outrageous voices often become the charicature (sp) for a whole “side,” but there are a whole range of responses within the heterosexual community (including learning, listening and acceptance).

      ‘Disconcerting’ is a good word. (if i spelled it right) People that have grown up in a “relationships are male-female” environment are simply…thrown off, shocked, don’t know what to do with homosexuality at best. As Professor X says, “people fear what they don’t understand.”

      many Evangelicals have a concern with where our nation is going morally, etc. They often cite…some form of ancient roman history with what happens once civilization norms things like homosexuality, etc. I suppose that’s one of their underlying concerns.

      does that help? make sense at all?

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

        that too.

        • Neil in LA

          Thanks to both Lawerence and John for help. I guess I can try to understand the other side. I honestly believe that once folks get to know each other, away from the abstract idea, minds will change. Just like what John said on his podcast the other day. Cheers!

          • n.

            they don’t know each other… usually, they know what they think they know ABOUT “those people”. they might have a gay neighbor who stays closeted because in the local culture it’s not ok to be out…

            maybe they have stuck to a very small idea of what is an acceptable way to be male, what is an acceptable way to be female, what is an acceptable way to be HUMAN for that matter.

            i was told “if you ever find yourself starting to think that homosexuality is OK, just remind yourself what they do with each other” … i was told that by the same relative who told me that being lesbian almost wasn’t as sinful because it was basically just masturbation.

            you have to come from a really twisted place, unfortunately fairly common, where almost nothing regular people do is OK, and you worry about other people’s sex lives a lot.

          • Neil in LA

            Another thing I don’t understand is many folks who go on about how “sinful” or whatever queer LGBT people are focused primarily on genital acts. My experience listening to Catholic people who are talking about how sinful queer “acts” are say that the very act of labeling oneself as having a same-sex outlook is reducing people from complex personhood to a label based only on sexuality. And yet, they only seem to talk about how disordered the activity – i.e. sex activity is. They themselves reduce my entire personhood as a gay man is completely reduced to a below the belt experience. Apparently, it is next to impossible for some people to grasp that, in addition to “just sex” my personhood is related to who I feel called to enter into an intimate relationship with. My partner and I have been together close to 10 years, and actually, we don’t have “sex” any more. We sleep in the same bed and we hold each other, but as for the “act” itself, it doesn’t even enter the picture. When I bring that up, it seems next to impossible for such folk to wrap their brain around. I try to point out that many opposite-sex couples who have been together for years have gotten to a point in their relationship where the “grunt and groan” aspect of their relationship doesn’t exist. But somehow the comparison is not the same. It’s all about genitalia and making babies or not as the case may be. But older heterosexual couples can’t make babies…are their relationships then not valid any more? Of course not! I get so frustrated with all this. I don’t know how to help people to change their minds. As a “lover of Jesus” I have a very hard time feeling welcomed in the “gay community” but as a man who loves men, I find it difficult to feel welcomed in the Christian community. But it is changing. I am fortunate to live in Los Angeles, where there are LGBT ministries in the Archdiocese here. But it seems somewhat tenuous, our new Archbishop is conservative and I am afraid there might be a crackdown at some point. I do consider myself blessed to be gay. As a gay man, I am much more free to stand outside of “orthodoxy” and help to discover new and creative ways of living, loving, praying, and relating.

          • Soulmentor

            If the “crackdown” happens, Neil, I’m sure a huge metro like LA has at least one, if not more Metropolitan Community churches you could turn to. Evidently you are Catholic so you may not want to do that, but if the Bishop turns on you…..well, there ARE other options. United Church of Christ is another. Even Episcopal (“back door Catholic”?) Just sayin…….

            But I’d bet you know all that already.

          • Allie

            I enjoy making such people’s heads explode by pointing out that more straight people, total, practice those activities, than gay people.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      The general observation of various studies that have been done is that it’s not straight people getting their panties in a bunch. It’s closeted gay or bi/pan people who have chosen to not act on their same-sex attractions. When they see lgbt people in happy, healthy same-sex relationships, it brings up feelings of jealousy, guilt, anger, and fear. Those feelings get channeled at the people that initiated those feelings rather than to an exploration of their own culpability for their misery.

      While such people should be treated with understanding and compassion, we also need to keep in mind that just as a wounded or sick animal is often more dangerous than a healthy one, so a soul-wounded, closeted person can cause a great deal of harm.

      • Neil in LA

        True, Lyn. If someone is bitter because they spend their life lying to themselves and everybody else, I can understand why they are angry. We should do our best to help. Again, I think that once we all get to know each other as people we will heal. That is why I believe that Christianity “should” (hate that word) be a source for good rather than bad. Jesus broke bread with all kinds of folks. Once we break bread together and listen to each other, I believe hearts will be touched. That is where reconcilliation will happen. Thanks again to all.

    • Jeff Straka

      Neil, I’ve found this fascinating book by Richard Beck to be extremely helpful in understanding the psychology behind this fear: Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0718892569/sr=8-3/qid=1339539273/ref=dp_proddesc_1?ie=UTF8&n=283155&qid=1339539273&sr=8-3

      • Allie

        Thank you, this book looks really interesting.

  • Luke

    Anytime there is an imbalance of power, or a situation in which one side is being oppressed, taking the middle ground IS taking a stand for those in power and those committing the oppression. What looks like keeping the peace is in fact taking a stand to preserve things the way they are. And this is not ok. Thanks John for your words. As an ally (and one that is continually learning how to best be one), this was a crucial thing for me to realize.

    At the same time, I WANT to believe that folks like Marin can do good. I want to believe, somehow, that people who would deny LGBTQ people anything but full equality and inclusion in everything can change. I want to believe this because I was once there. I was a straight person who was homophobic because of my faith. I deeply regret this time of my life, but I am so thankful that I was able to move beyond that. I want to believe that those who are there now can move from where they are. So an honest question, especially to my LGBTQ friends, is how do we make room for that? If not by what Marin is doing, then how? Is it even possible for me as an ally to both fully stand with the LGBTQ community, and also seek for my conservative friends to move out of homophobia and hateful ideology?

    • Lymis

      You do it by standing on the far shore and reaching out a hand in invitation for them to cross to join you. Having been there, you have a handle on the kind of questions they need to ask themselves and the kinds of new perspective that may be able to help them.

      You tell the truth in as open, compassionate, and non-judgemental a way as possible, rather than fudging the truth in the hopes that you can snooker someone into meeting you part way.

      What you don’t do is give them permission to not have a stand on the issue, or give them a pass in your presence for spouting bigotry.

      How would you deal with someone who wanted you to “agree to disagree” that black people are validly property and should be legally counted as 3/5 of a person?

      • David S

        Well said Lymis. I would only add this: make sure they understand that their position/actions are doing actual harm to real people – probably people they know.

        Luke – Your’s may be one of the first voices from the far shore, but it will not be the last. I look forward to listening to the growing chorus.

        Heartfelt thanks for being an ally.

      • Cat Rennolds

        mmm. might have to walk out to the middle of the bridge to meet them….but you need to at least POINT to the far shore if not walk them over. don’t stand there and pretend the middle IS the far shore, and try to stop them crossing over or even looking past you. And you certainly don’t tell them the far shore is an illusion overlying a deadly trap.

        Marin is like a guy who has set up a concession stand on the middle of the bridge to take advantage of the pilgrims. If we’re all on the far shore he’s out of business.

        • Lymis

          Good metaphor!

        • DR

          Cat, this is brilliant.

          • Cat Rennolds

            You guys are making me blush. But think about this: most of us started out on one side of the bridge, and with or without a guide, we managed to fight our way first to the middle, and then all the way over. Once you get here you don’t ever WANT to go back. You resist any attempt to make you do it. You remember what it felt like over there and you fear it.

            but at some point you heal enough, and grow enough, to go….wait. they can’t hurt me over there any more. or maybe they can, but I can take it. and you go back in to get them out. If you have to stand in the middle for a while (even if it puts you way too close to the creepy concession guy), it’s a price you can afford.

            I’m counting on you lot to have the soup and blankets ready when I get back. John, keep the beacon lit.

        • http://patridew.wordpress.com Patricia

          Very well said, Cat.

      • Luke

        Thanks Lymis. I will take your advice to heart.

        And someone telling me to “agree to disagree” would get on earful of the pain and suffering cause by “taking the middle ground.” I have no desire to pretend that is ok. But I do have a desire to love those who are still where I used to be, and hope that they can change as I did.

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

      It makes sense for you to want to make space for those people. The church (more the LBGT people) need people in the church trying to save the church from its bigotry.

      Just no get so taken up by the so-called bridge-builders that you think that homophobia and bigotry are the problem of LBGT people. I mean, it is a problem *for* us, but we don’t own it, it doesn’t belong to us. Don’t get to the point like these other bridge-builders where, implicitly or explicitly, the LBGT community bears some responsibility for the prejudice and hatred leveled against us and that the only way to fix the bigotry is to have us compromise as well – compromise rights, dignity, safety and belonging to make our oppressors feel like they’re getting some sort of deal, so they don’t have to take full moral responsibility.

      You can engage the conservative homophobic, but don’t assume or want or cajole us into doing likewise. The LBGT community will engage those who make it to the other side. History is with us. We’ll wait for true equality.

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

        should have been “more than the LBGT community” – in time we’ll succeed, the church will take the beating that lasts

      • Luke

        Thanks Christine. I don’t want to ask you, or assume that you will, do anything. You shouldn’t have to compromise anything I was just asking what advice you would give me (a straight male). Thank you for your words.

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

          Thanks, Luke. Didn’t mean to imply you were suggesting otherwise. It just seems to be a trap out there that gets good, well-meaning people like you. Best of luck.

    • http://existentialpunk.com Existential Punk

      Luke, you can be an advocate for us by giving us the stage/platform to share our stories. TOO often, especially in progressive Christian circles, Straight white males speak for us instead of inviting us to speak for ourselves. They say they are being inclusive but then we get relegated to the workshops and do not get on the main stage. WE have PLENTY of stories to share. Just ask us and give us the opportunity.

      Also, volunteer at an LGBTQ organization and educate yourself. Call your elected officials about equality issues.

      Just keep talking to your conservative friends about it. They most likely won’t change, but maybe some will, like you did.

      Peace,

      Adele

      • Luke

        Thanks Adele :). I have no desire to speak for you, only to stand with you. Thanks for helping me do that better.

  • Matt

    I, for one, would also not like the acceptance of LGBTQ folk to hang on the premise that “it’s not a choice” or we were “born that way.” That relegates us to pity parties, shaking heads, “poor dears, they can’t help it.”

    Being gay is no worse/better than being straight. And that means even if a person could wake up and choose to be gay for one hour, one day, one year, their whole lives, it still would not make it any better/worse.

    We honestly don’t know why we are the way we are. Humans beings are complicated. But we choose to be who we are. And we demand that we be acknowledged, respected, and protected.

    • Allie

      Very good point. It’s not just that it’s not a choice, it’s also that if it were a choice, it would be a perfectly fine choice.

    • Jill

      So true Matt, I agree that it’s such a ridiculous conceit that somehow because I’m a straight, white female that I must hold some ‘superiority’, as if there’s a hierarchy of approved ways of being. Human beings have some learning to do.

      Personally if there will ever be a day when the Universe/God/Goddess/whatever chooses to inform the human race why we are all made to be different yet connected, I don’t want to know. I want to everyday celebrate our individual uniqueness. The day I stop celebrating is the day I give up. Period.

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

        beautiful, jill. perfect.

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

    Amen, brother.

  • charles

    John, you obviously allow precious middle ground there….

    Bravo.

  • Joshua

    Here we think we are….talking about SIN. What is SIN, who sins, what is a sin.

    Is it a SIN to be gay ?

    I say there is no sin, and that we are already forgiven if there ever was anything called sin.

    Think about it.

    My God is perfect, and He, being perfect, could never create imperfection, and did not.

    If the above statement is true, then SIN DOES NOT EXIST…neither does imperfection, as what we “think” is but an illusion, an idol before Him. Forgive what you “think” and miracles which point to the true light beyond the shadows of “thought” will occur.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X