A gay reader confronts a Catholic Bishop at an airport

I just got this in from reader Mike Moore (whom you might know via his moving guest-post here, A Good Week to Hate Christians).

Hi John,

I have just now read your Aug 8 post regarding the Catholic Church. By coincidence, I approached and had the following exchange with two Catholic priests yesterday at LAX.

I thought of posting this in the comment section of your Aug 8 post, but I think the timing will ring suspicious. I was also considering posting it anonymously, as the telling of this exchange is not exactly an act of modesty or humility. Plus, it’s just damn long.

Anyway, here’s the long-ass comment I was thinking to post:

________________

I want share the following, because it is my belief that powerful people—CEO’s of big companies, politicians, and our society’s decision-makers—are often very insulated. Their opinions and actions are not often challenged, and rarely are they challenged face-to-face. When challenged up close and personally, they take notice. They are used to being treated with great deference. And from personal experience, I know the very act of such a confrontation can affect their future behavior.

I hope this might encourage some others to be bold. You can, all by yourself, make a difference.

I have been working in CA and was flying back to the east yesterday. While at LAX waiting to board my plane, I noticed two older priests walk up and stand nearby. Both carried an air of importance, yet one was obviously The Boss. The Boss was wearing a large, heavy, and ornate cross, and while I’m not especially familiar with Catholic priests’ daily attire, it is the type of cross that I have only seen on Bishops or Cardinals.

Thinking this could be an opportunity to make a strong point, face-to-face, to a member of the Catholic hierarchy about the church’s animus toward the LGBT community, I took a few minutes to decide if I should approach, and what I would say to them if I did. I decided to do it. Here’s how it went.

Since causing a scene in an airport these days can get you booted off a flight or detained by police, I know you’ll believe me when I say that in my demeanor and use of language (if not entirely in my tone) I made sure to remain calm and polite.

Me: “Excuse me, are you Catholic?”

Cautious stare-down from Boss, while the second priest, wearing black-framed eyeglasses, answers, “Yes, we are.”

Me: “Well, I’m not Catholic. I am a gay man whose marriage is not recognized in most states, and I have many friends who can’t marry in their home state, due in large part to the efforts of the Catholic church. I would never presume to tell you who should or should not marry in a Catholic church, yet your church feels it has the right to dictate to me, a non-Catholic, whom I can or can’t marry down at city hall in a civil ceremony. Why do you think you have the right to intrude upon my life in such a way?”

Boss looks caught off-guard, but does not really flinch, and continues stare-down while saying, “Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.”

Me: “It’s not an opinion, it is a fact. Your church actively lobbies against same-sex civil marriage and has spent millions to ensure that people like me are prevented from marrying the person we love. Again, why do you think you have the right to force people like me to live by your beliefs?”

Black Glasses steps in and says, “Excuse me, but this highly inappropriate. This is neither the time nor the place for such a conversation. You are intruding.”

Me, answering Black Glasses while staring down the Boss: “Excuse me, so what you’re saying is this is inappropriate, but it’s okay for you and your church to intrude into my life and my bedroom? Again, why would you think it’s okay to dictate the values of my and my family’s life, people whom you don’t even know?”

Me and Boss are still staring each other down. His stare has become as hostile as I’m sure was mine.

Black Glasses: “We will not have this conversation here.”

Me: “I’ll take that as your way of saying that you have no honest justification for forcing your values on me. In the future, please remember, I’m a stranger to you, but your actions affect My Life. I have and will continue to fight you and your hypocritical church at every turn.”

That was the whole thing. After that I returned to the business of boarding the plane.

__________________

Epilogue: Once on the plane I noticed the priests were sitting a row behind me in the First Class cabin. I asked myself if I should take the high road. Of course, the devil sitting on my left shoulder won the day.

From over the back of my chair I said, “So, how’s that Vow of Poverty working out for you two?” They resolutely ignored me.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. 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.

  • Rob B

    Touche.

  • Emmanuel Romero via Facebook

    “Vow of poverty.”
    Great kicker, considering all the money they spend oppressing LGBT people.

  • http://www.patsediting.com Patricia Brush

    Well done! That is it in a nutshell.

  • Rev. Carl Johnson

    Good on ya, Mike for hammering them. As one of the faith leaders who is against Amendment One, I am embarrassed that it passed. I’m one of those quirky kind of ministers who believes in a HUGE TALL wall of separation between church and state. It is my sincere belief that the state’s interest in marriage should be limited to recording a marriage license the clerk charges you to obtain, ensuring that both parties are able to enter into the union contract. It should be up to each faith to decide whether or not they will conduct marriages based on equality.

    Know that many of us support your marriage, the repeal of DADT and now, DOMA…and that we keep fighting.

    All best!

  • Michael S.

    If they are secular clergy, they don’t have to take a vow of poverty. Even if they have, they weren’t paying. They are poor but the “The Church” isn’t.

    It is telling that a bishop of the church wouldn’t address your issues–even if he had to give you the party line at least he should have offered to hear you. He might not have made that offer right on the spot but he could have let you know your questions were important. Because they are.

  • Hannah

    That’s funny, because I once noticed some men of the cloth in first class myself, as I was boarding a plane. Vows of poverty aren’t what they used to be, I guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglas.sewell Doug Sewell via Facebook

    Love it!

  • Jill

    marvelous

  • Rachel G.

    You need to bottle that up and sell it – but it is priceless!

  • Carol VanderNat

    Bravo, Mike!

    I wouldn’t have been able to resist that last line, either! Love it!

  • Theresa DePaepe

    Here is the situation with regard to priests taking vows of poverty:

    “Many Catholics and non-Catholics alike erroneously believe that all Catholic priests are obliged to live in poverty, but in fact this is not the case. Some clergy have made vows of poverty, while others have not.”

    This is from a Catholic source – just wanted to set the record straight since I grew up Catholic and have always been aware that while nuns are required to take vows of poverty most parish priests and the hierarchy have not.

    Priests do, however, take a vow of celibacy (regardless of sexual orientation). Now isn’t that ironic?

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

      But, you know, it’s really too bad that the priests couldn’t muster the minimal civility it would have taken to share with Mike the nature of the Catholic vows of poverty. Even if Mike were being obnoxiously hostile—which I doubt he was; but clearly it’s a snark-loaded question—it would still have been an ideal time to start dialoguing with him in a way that was respectful of his earlier questions: they’re sitting right next to each other on a long plane trip, for You-Know-Who’s-Sake. Clearly there’s time to talk.

      And it’s not reasonable to say the men may not have wanted to talk just then. They forfeited their right to disengage from their roles as ministers and representatives of God when they went out the doors that morning donned in their clerical garb.

      • Jill

        Ugh! That is so true, I didn’t think of that. What other reason to wear overly religious outfits in public than to be recognized as an agent of God? Nothing like dismissing a child of God to make a point.

        A simple response could’ve been, “I disagree with you, and I choose not to engage a conversation here, but I will give you my contact information to discuss this in the future. My door is open.” Not hard.

      • Diana A.

        Exactly! Thank you.

      • Mindy

        Bingo, John. It’s like seeing Lady Gaga standing on a stage in front of an audience and being outraged when they start chanting for her to sing. You want to not represent your Church all the way, then don’t go out representing your Church. They do not have to wear their clerical garb in public – I’ve seen plenty of priests, say, golfing, without a collar or a cross. They do so to affect a certain subservient, respectful, demure demeanor in those around them, and, I’m sure, are never unwilling to accept what any special treatment handed them because of it. But unpleasantness? Being called on important, life-altering issues? No, no, no. That just won’t do. Pompous asses, I say.

  • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

    That was beautiful — well done. You know, there are lots of churches that wouldn’t have done the ceremony for my husband and me (it’s a 3rd marriage for each of us), but there isn’t a single law that could stop us. The religious right wouldn’t dream of stopping us, because we’re simply not the church’s business.

    I can’t see why that changes simply due to the gender of one’s partner. And I hope the law of the land soon reflects that, because the bigotry I’m seeing in my country is flatly appalling.

  • Miriam

    I applaud how calm you were doing this, I would have freaked out and started yelling at them. (and then been hauled away by the airport people)

    and I very much agree that people like that are never personally challenged, these big issues are all theory and abstractions (the evil gayz!) it’s very different when it’s a real live human being getting in your face.

  • Jim W.

    Well said, Mr. Shore…well said!

  • http://small-letters.com Mindy M.

    I wonder if I could ever be that brave face-to-face. I imagine it and start shaking. If ever I could, it will be because of the strength I’ve received from other conversations I’ve had both in person and online. And it will be because of the example set by people like you, Mike. Thank you!

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

    BRAVO!!

  • Elizabeth

    Mike, you’re my hero of the day. The Vow of Poverty line was the coup de grâce.

    • Susan in NY

      I totally agree with Elizabeth! Nice job, Mike!

  • Mistermoon

    Is this really that much different than the CFO in Tuscon who got fired for videotaping himself berating a Chick-Fil-A cashier while picking up a free cup of water only?

    http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-08-03/news/33024328_1_viral-video-appreciation-day-free-water

    Sorry Mike, but if the confrontation came off the way you protray it you were almost as big a tool as the Tuscon CFO.

    I pretty much agree with all of the points you were trying to make. But you came off like a sanctimonious jerk in that exchange, and that’s killing your message. Rather than engage in some thoughtful dialog, I would have wanted to get away from you as fast as possible. My daddy always said “you’ll catch more flies with honey than with salt”, and that’s an axiom we would all do well to remember.

    Of course, now I sound like a sanctimonious jerk for calling you out. Please be gentle with me dear readers!

    Peace be with y’all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

      Hmmm……I always knew that phrase as catching more flies with honey that vinegar. I like the vinegar version better. Not sure why, maybe because it relates better because both are liquids. Whatever, either is true.

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

      wait… you are comparing an arguably innocent Chick-fil-A employee with a professional Catholic priest? C’mon!

      • DR

        I love how Mistermoon calls for the importance of civility while simultaneously calling Mike a tool and a sanctimonious jerk. The cognitive dissonance is so unsettling to read.

    • DR

      Wow you are such a dick for calling this guy a tool. As you talk about civility! How gross.

      • DR

        And you actually asked for people to be gentle with you as you clicked “reply”, knowing you were being hostile! My god. Amazing.

  • Jonathan

    As a practicing Catholic that does not adhere to the hierarchies standard teaching about homosexuality, I’m not impressed by this showdown approach to addressing the priesthood. It’s not going to change anyone’s mind.

    People change their mind about homosexuality by knowing and loving someone who is homosexual, not being assaulted in an airport. If you are serious about change, sit down and have a polite conversation. Introduce someone to your partner. Share your hopes and dreams. Of course, in the vast majority of cases nothing will change, but in NO cases will the “what’s the matter with you guys…” approach ever work. I’m sure the priests came away from that confrontation more confirmed in their beliefs.

    • Mistermoon

      Amen and amen. That’s what I was trying to say, only nicer.

      • DR

        Wrong. We IMMEDIATELY intervene when someone is abusing a child. We don’t wait for a nice, civil moment to take a child out of an abusive situation, we get in there and we confront it immediately. I am Catholic myself and I plan on following this example. I could care less if I make a priest angry – anger is an activating agent, if it helps wake people up then good.

        Why in the world would you suggest that it’s somehow this guy’s obligation to educate this priest? Are you aware of the amount of information out there that demonstrates the harm the Catholic church is doing to this community? These priests are *choosing* to not be educated, they are choosing to ignore the impact of their belief systems. To be held accountable for their impact – even in this moment, even just one story – is justice. How dare you suggest that this was inappropriate or even ineffective, the Catholic church only started to pay attention to the AIDs crisis when gay men and women crashed a mass in New York city and demanded that they acknowledge it. They did.

  • http://www.theeternaldance.com Lynelle

    love it! (including your parting shot in first class)!!!

    Well done.

    Thank you for raising my awareness of looking for opportunities to initiate conversation whenever there is opportunity. I think the best approach is to ask questions, like you did . . . and then make observations based on their responses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.espinozasandel Susan Espinoza-Sandel via Facebook

    The priests did the right thing. You wanted a public fight that would result in public embarrassment. They were not going to take your bait. If you wanted an honest exchange of ideas, you would walk into your local Catholic church and ask to talk with the pastor. Bravo to the priests!

    • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

      …or they could have said, “We will not argue with you here but we will listen to what you have to say” and when he was finished blessed him and wished him a safe flight.

    • DR

      This is such a scary posture. Honestly, what is wrong with people, that you’d actually think that someone holding a priest accountable for his belief systems is a “fight”. This is why things don’t change. Ugh.

  • F. Delacroix

    Just so you know: Not every priest has taken a vow of poverty. Only members of specific orders do that. Diocesan priests don’t. So that “zinger” at the end is really not that zingy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KristiOutlerByrd Kristi Outler Byrd via Facebook

    I don’t read that he was itching for a fight, just answers.

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    Those were likely non-ordered priests and did not take a vow of charity. Very few priests do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/williamferreira2 William F. Ferreira via Facebook

    Excellently executed confrontation. This is good.

  • StephenHeather McCoy via Facebook

    I’m delighted by this man’s audacity. If you are part of something, anything, and there is an expectation of adherence to a point of view (especially if that viewpoint is translated into monetary backing of said viewpoint in the political arena) then you should be prepared to back it up. I don’t care if they were caught off guard, it was a valid question that should have been met with a valid answer. When you launch your position on an issue into the legislature’s boxing ring, be prepared to box!! If you can’t take a hit, get out of the ring.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

    I applaud the writers bravery but I agree with those who suggest that such an “ambush” is not the way to change minds. Such a direct confrontation can be justified if there had been some kind of previous conversational motive, such as overhearing the priests expressing their opinion in conversation on the plane, or sitting in the waiting lounge. But they are mostly very careful to not be overheard with such attitudes that they know are very controversial and that they also very probably know they are absolutely wrong to hold and can’t defend. They are very careful to guard their isolation that protects their status……and their arrogance.

    • Diana A.

      No, it’s not a way to change minds. But this assumes that these minds could have been changed anyway. No, I think Mike did a good job. He saw an opportunity to confront those in power with the truth of their impact on a real human being. It might not have done much good, but remaining silent would not have done much good either.

      • vj

        Yes, I think this is the thing to keep in mind… It’s relatively easy to support/promote policy/ideology in the abstract, but it’s only when the abstract becomes concrete that we are confronted with how our ideas impact the real world. It’s possible that neither of these priests had ever previously thought about how the church policies were impacting actual people – maybe they’ll remember the encounter down the road, and start to realize that they are hurting people, not loving them, by continuing to endorse anti-marriage-equality legislation.

    • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

      Change minds, probably not. Change behaviors, oh, yeah. If they feel they are no longer shielding from the real world consequences of their actions, they’ll start thinking about whether or not they want to put up with those consequences. They may not change their opinions, but as Martin Luther King Jr once observed, it wasn’t necessary for a racist to love him, just not lynch him.

    • Christy

      I’ve wondered though (and been building my courage to confront/start a conversation with) the “REPENT!” sign holders and megaphone preachers who routinely show up at civic festivals and events in our city. As in, “How many people come sobbing to you and fall down at your knees begging for mercy and want to convert when you do this?” “How does this show the love of God to anyone?”

  • Blake

    Get ‘em gurl & good on ya. I wish I could be that bold. I can see myself totally starting to confront them and then demurring away into “well… yeah… I guess this isn’t the place… sorry…”

  • Diana Avery via Facebook

    Down with the priests! Down with the priests! Mike was right to confront them. Down with anyone who believes that human beings should remain silent in the face of oppression.

  • Mindy

    Oh, Mike, that is just awesome! Applauding your brilliance and nerve here in St. Louis – where the president of our Jesuit university (my alma mater) has just embroiled himself in yet another money-and-power vs. academic-rigor-and-truthfulness scandal. He likes to present himself as the jovial, likeable priest, when in reality, he is an extremely mean-spirited bully of the worst spoiled-brat ilk. Very sad for an otherwise outstanding university.

  • Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook

    Susan Espinoza-Sandel, I vehemently disagree. If they want anonymity from their jobs, they should travel in street clothing. If I sat next to a politician on a plane, say – someone who identified him/herself as one – I’d have no problem asking questions or sharing my opinion because that comes with the territory. If the Catholic Church is going to continue asserting its considerable power over non-Catholics by involving itself in the political process, which it should never do but does all the time, then they should absolutely be willing to answer any civil-rights related question anyone has, at any time. If they want privacy, they should travel as private citizens, not public representatives of their faith. And since they ARE public representatives of their faith, they should have no problem giving an answer.

    • Jonathan

      I agree that priests have a special obligation to speak with people on behalf of the church. But I don’t think that priests have an obligation to engage in a debate in public. This wasn’t a serious attempt to engage in a dialogue, it was one person expressing their opinions – which were not going to change. “Tour entitled to your opinion” is a reasonable answer to give in this case.

      If the individual was asking for assistance or trying to engage in a real dialogue, then this would be a different story.

      • Elizabeth

        The individual — his name is Mike — was asking for assistance. He was asking for an explanation of the very real effect of Papal policy on his personal life. The priest couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do it. It’s really the same old story.

      • DR

        It’s revealing that you’re suggesting this wasn’t a “real dialogue”. What, exactly, qualifies as a “real dialogue” ? Is it an exchange of theological constructs?

        That is exactly how Christians like this want to engage – at an intellectual, theological level that is totally devoid of emotion so they don’t have to face the consequences of their theology. When all you do is talk about your opinion – your belief – you never have to face the *impact* of that belief. Which is exactly why I adore this man for going there with these priests – he made them accountable in that moment to the actual impact of their beliefs. He told his story which is what Christians continue to refuse to hear.

        You need to really evaluate the permissiveness you’re giving Christians who don’t want to change.

        • vj

          “he made them accountable in that moment to the actual impact of their beliefs”

          And that’s the ONLY thing that will bring about change. Many years ago my pre-schooler son told me to stop shouting at my toddler daughter “because she doesn’t like it” (she was crying). That simple statement totally changed the way I interacted with my kids from that day on – much more so than all the parenting theory I had picked up from books, Bible-study, moms-and-tots groups etc.

      • Christy

        It’s not an opinion that their policies are affecting his life personally and the Church is trying to legislate its morals on people who aren’t of their faith.

  • Rebekah

    Very nice. Kudos to you for speaking out in a a spirit of reasonable dialogue.

  • Tracy Christensen via Facebook

    Very.well. Done.

  • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

    re some people who think a confrontation like this was not an effective way to bring about change: I think Mike approached it pitch perfect by saying how their organization was affecting him personally. He didn’t attack their beliefs or values, just the actions of their organization that impact negatively on him.

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

      that’s just what I thought too, buzz.

    • Luke

      I agree. I would have had a hard time being that civil. There are a lot of wonderful Catholic priests, and some good bishops, but the many of the high-ups are vile, evil men. If they want me to stop thinking so, then they need to better police their ranks.

      What he did was speaking truth to power. Even if not an effective way to bring about change, it does let them know that we aren’t afraid of them and that they ultimately have no power over us. And if the priests were innocent, at least they know how the corruption of the church is damaging their reputation.

      The first-class thing was out of line. Priests get frequent-flyer upgrades too. A better approach would have been “hey, we seem to have plenty of time, why don’t you come sit next to me and you can explain your side. I promise it will be a polite conversation”. If he said “I don’t want to discuss it here”, he could ask to make an appointment to discuss it privately.

    • DR

      Me too!

    • David S

      The Mattichine Society tried to be “the nice gays”. They may have threw some kindling into the fireplace of the Gay rights movement, but the Stonewall riots lit a match. Confrontation is necessarily a part of affecting change.

    • Hildegunn Urdahl

      He did so perfectly – which is why I can agree with him on many points and actually want to read/learn more about his and his husband’s situation and why he so desperately wanted/want the state to allow for gay marriage. While this one simply made me shake my head and be REALLY glad I was not there when it happened.

      • DR

        Above you disagreed with him. You’re all over the place.

        • Christy

          Yes. It’s confusing.

      • DR

        It’s so odd that you’d actually not understand why they want to be married, the data about the difference between a domestic partnership vs marriage is substantial and in the news almost every week. Being married affords one hundreds of legal rights that are not currently present within any domestic partnership agreement. The laws within a marriage are legal in nature. You do understand that the majority of gay men and women have one partner they love and commit to for decades, correct? Many have children and marriage would protect the children far more substantially than anything they can obtain legally right now.

        Being married is also an emotional and a spiritual commitment that is much more binding than a commitment ceremony. Are you aware that there are gay Christians who have a personal relationship with Christ while at the same time, are gay? In relationships? They want the blessing and social identification of being “married”, just like any one of us want. They want the permanency of what that means.

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

          Thanks, DR. I can’t express how much it would have completely broken my heart if my wife and I hadn’t been able to simply be married like any other couple. (We’re in Canada, so we didn’t have that problem.) It would have been a feeling of constant rejection by society, a neverending unacceptance of our coupledom. I’m sure there are many out there feeling that pain.

  • Allie

    The main problem I see with this confrontation is that for all you know, you were talking to two priests who are pro-gay-marriage and have been censured for stating their opinions. Not all priests share the opinions of the church. I realize that belonging to an organization which has views you oppose is problematic, but that’s another discussion. For all you know, these guys could have spent the whole time thinking, “Wish I were allowed to say what I think.”

    And I think it’s relevant that church policies aren’t created by a bunch of priests getting together and voting, so it really doesn’t matter whether you challenge them or not. They aren’t the Pope, they don’t get a vote. They can decide not to be priests I guess, but they can’t make a kinder gentler church.

    • n.

      But there are rogue priests who do make a kinder and gentler church or at least a more helpful one. Romero… (wasn’t he a bishop?!) and the guy that’s always protesting school of the americas… Etc.

    • Jonathan

      Agree.

      For those of us that are Catholic, helping the church embrace diversity means working with priests not treating them as our enemies. It’s easy to feel good about confronting them and speaking your mind if you are outside the church – but it’s not helpful.

      • DR

        You’re wrong about that. Often being confronted with the reality of who we are and what we’re doing is the best activating agent we have. Anger is often, the one thing that pierces the denial we’ve wrapped so tightly around ourselves.

        • Hildegunn Urdahl

          Not really – unless one can rationally speak ones mind, and use real arguments, situations and reasons rather than just irrational emotions that you give control… then there is no way you in any way reached that person positively. So congratulation – every time you have done so you have just confirmed their beliefs rather than making them question their own.

          • Christy

            What would it take to get you to question your own?

          • DR

            Anger and rationality are not mutually exclusive, dear. Jesus turned the tables in the temple, did he not? When his Father’s house was being abused? You’re just uncomfortable that people are angry with you because of the impact your beliefs have on gay men and women, particularly children. Anger is an essential part of what it means to be obedient to Jesus Christ. That you and others decide to walk away from a conversation because someone makes you uncomfortable with their anger toward you is not their problem, it’s your lack of emotional maturity and commitment to really hearing the Truth (regardless of the source).

          • vj

            The impression I got from the letter is that Mike did, in fact, speak his mind to the priests in a rational manner, using real arguments to question them about why they think they have a right to try and influence laws that affect HIM, not THEM. Emotion and rational thinking are not mutually exclusive. He also controlled himself during the initial exchange (so as not to draw unwanted attention from airport security), and I think his parting shot on the plane was entirely understandable, and probably even appropriately snarky.

            And I really think that, if those priests are ever honest with themselves, what he told/asked them could indeed contribute to a change of heart/mind – Mike may be the only gay person they have ever encountered, and by sharing details of his life they maybe got a glimpse into the truth of being gay, not the fiction that they have always believed. Yes, it’s unlikely – but if he hadn’t spoken to them, maybe it would be an impossibility.

          • Nads

            Yep.

            This really works in abusive situations. You know, you just need to reach the other person positively.

            NOT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dana.decker.1614 Dana Decker via Facebook

    I agree Susan…it seemed confrontational at best.

  • Ken Vinsel via Facebook

    Nowhere did I read that these Priests or Bishop and Priest offered any contact information to have “this discussion” at a more convenient time. The clerical attire is worn so that people may approach a Priest for help, counsel, and yes a confrontation.

    The “going up to a door of a Catholic Church” idea (of Susan Espinoza-Sandel) defeats the object of expressing one’s views to a Bishop–and not just to a mere parish priest who has no control over policy in the Roman Catholic Church.

    I think these Reverend Gentlemen came out the worse for this exchange–and rightly so. Their arrogance is palpable, they did not follow the rules of their own Church in dealing with this confrontation. There was no charity–only arrogant dismissal. As Clergy, they should have been –and made themselves —available for this (admittedly uncomfortable) discussion—that is part of the job. The old days of “Father knows best” are really gone.

    My only criticism (while enjoying the snarkiness) is the “Vow of Poverty” comment.

    As has been pointed out only members of a Religious Order make a vow of Poverty. The usual Religious vows are :”Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience.”

    Men and Women who join a Religious Order–i.e. Monastic (which includes Benedictines , Norbertines, Cistercians, and so forth), Mendicant Friars (Franciscans, Dominicans), Jesuits, and the very many different Orders of Nuns (Monastic- as above for men) or Sisters (Ursuline, Dominican, Franciscan) take these vows as a part of their particular Religious Life. Many of the Religious Orders for Men do admit Priests–who then take the same vows too, although the more ancient Monastic Vows do differ from the more modern vows–Obedience, Stability, and Conversion of Manner–which latter includes Chastity and Poverty.

    Many of the Roman Catholic Clergy in a Diocese– from the Bishop down to the newest Deacon– are considered secular Clergy since they are not members of a religious order. These Clergymen do not take the Vows of Poverty Chastity and Obedience. Their Celibacy is required by the Canon Law and they make such a Promise at their Ordinations (unless they are to be ‘permanent Deacons who will not become Priests, or are Eastern Rite Clergy, or some former Anglican converts—who are allowed to marry).

    I must assume that the Clergy in this story were secular or diocesan Clergy and not members of a Religious Order. Their flying First Class was not, then, a violation of and Vow of Poverty.

    Whether flying First Class is seemly or not is another matter. I speak as one who would dearly like to fly First Class someday–(kind of a “bucket list” thing). I do not think it is necessarily unseemly–but, unfortunately, it was a great “gotcha moment”.

  • Chris Gillespie via Facebook

    While I support and affirm the LGBT community… I think that courtesy is an essential part of engaging in dialogue. The writer could have asked if the priests had a moment to discuss something… and taken the risk of a negation of course. But if changing attitudes is the goal, launching a verbal attack in this way could hardly be calculated to create fertile soil for his concerns to be seriously considered.
    As my Grandmother often reminded me, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”.
    I totally affirm this gentleman’s right to marry the person he loves in whatever geographical location he chooses to live in… but I fear he did more to damage his case than to advance it.

    • Hildegunn Urdahl

      I second this.

      • DR

        This is so frustrating to me. We don’t prioritize civility when we’re trying to keep a parent from abusing their child because that parents believes Scripture gives him the authority to do so – our first priority is making sure that child is safe to the point that we’ll remove the child if s/he is not.

        Those of you demanding that people who are trying to change this must be “civil” are catering to the learned helplessness that many of my fellow Christians often deploy. If they don’t understand something, they don’t have to change it. And if someone is *angry* with them, they get to walk away because we as Christians have created a false reality that if you don’t speak to me kindly and gently, it’s somehow “not of God”.

        It’s time for those of us who are religious to snap out of this fairytale land we’ve created for ourselves that because we don’t intend to harm gay men and women, we are immune from those who are angry with the reality that we do – we are – and we refuse to learn why. Or that we insist on other people educating us. Or we insist on learning on our own specific terms or we walk.

        • David S

          DR. Thank you again for this. Perfectly said.

          • DR

            I want to hug you. I’m sorry you had a crappy week. :/

          • David S

            Sincere thanks, DR. Really, I so appreciate the kindness. I think my self indulgent moment has passed.

          • DR

            Still want to hug you. It’s not self-indulgent to need some support. xoxo

        • Allie

          DR, I agree with your point re: gay bashing but wanted to correct it re: child abuse. Because removing a child from the home is so complex, it is NOT recommended to intervene in a way which upsets the abusive parent if you witness abuse in a public place. Chances are high that if a parent is upset or shamed by a confrontation that child will suffer for it later in private. Unless the child is in danger the recommendation is to try to distract the parent with another conversation or to help with the situation by saying something such as, “They can be trying at this age, can’t they? I remember when my kid did such and such.” If the child is in danger, call the police at once.

          • DR

            Point taken on the complexity of physically abusive parents but not the point I’m making. While complex, the analogy I’m trying to draw is this is abusive – it’s not just an interpretation of Scripture where we all should just agree to disagree if we happen to hold different views. This one is dangerous and causes substantial harm, harm we absolutely do not tolerate in other circumstances.

          • Allie

            Yep, gotcha. Just making sure that no one reads this exchange and bravely sets out to confront bad parents in line at the grocery store. It could happen!

          • DR

            That would be terrible, I’m glad you said something.

          • KarenAtFOH

            As a lesbian, and a survivor whose mother whipped her in the genitals with a strap, I would just like to comment on the analogy by saying that unlike abuse situations, there is often no police to call when we are hurt by marriage inequality. “Who ya gonna call — POTUS? SCOTUS?” Another state just enshrined hurt into their constitution. Sometimes shrieking “STOP IT, you’re hurting me!” is the best we can do, if we dare.

        • Hildegunn Urdahl

          …. While there are ways to justify abuse of children – and even spouses… those are not really there (the word ‘Discipline’ is used- not abuse, NEVER abuse… a very thin line that some unfortunately cross too easily… and others justify the reasons for… I’m glad corporal punishment is forbidden in most countries even if words can do as much, if not more damage in many cases, than an overdone ‘spanking’). … The fact that the relationship is supposed to represent the relationship between God and Jesus, well…

          While I do understand your frustrations with ‘speak to me kindly and gently’… you need to think about it. Being angry means in many cases that one looses control. When one looses control one say and do things one do not mean. By having to step back, calm down, think about it and then return… one can more rationally get across just why something made one angry… frustrating as THAT is… as for ‘not of God’… well – we WERE created with emotions – but loosing control and controlling them are two very different things… and there are a lot of saying used ‘just because’ that seems to be justifying a lot of things and I’m a tad confused as to what many of them are really about and more so with the way they are sometimes used. … Thats the main reason I agree with the ‘honey and vinegar’ and how to change attitudes. If someone wants to talk to me about their views and opinions… they first need to respect that I have my own and that I might not change my mind about that. If they talk to me condescendingly (and now its regardless of topic or view)… then not only would I ignore it (after getting over the stress it caused me – which would lead me to the next ‘step’) – but I’d prefer not to have to talk to them again… ever.

          ‘Helplessness’? – I react to someone wanting me to change something fundamental in my belief. If THAT is the focus, then the awful facts and statistics of LGBT children tossed/pushed out of their homes, being bullied, harassment, lost jobs, suicides… is hidden behind a mountain than blinds the view for the reality of your situation. Anger can be a good thing, and it can also be a bad thing… but its up to the use its put to and how things are said and done as well as where the focus is put that decides if its a good thing or not.

          The gentleness might actually be a tad more about culture and individuals and how one are ‘supposed’ to do things. Which is just stupid. Facts are facts, and I … well – NOT saying certain things would probably be more ‘not of God’ than saying it in the first place would have been. But its… lots of people who call themselves Christians should listen to this song… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJL7Eis0Rb0

          (the ‘church’ or more all its members are called/compared to the ‘body of Christ’ in the Bible – with Jesus as the head – all important – yet have very have different parts.) … I liked it cause it made me realize a lot of stuff thats difficult to accept, like the fact that its not up to the leaders, that its not up to those visible active there – but every single one to spread God’s love both there and at home +.

          (another brill one is ‘who am I’ by the same artist’.. not the same theme though)…

          • DR

            While I do understand your frustrations with ‘speak to me kindly and gently’… you need to think about it. >>>

            No I don’t. I’m fascinated by the stance you continue to take as the teacher here instead of the student. What a loss.

            Being angry means in many cases that one looses control. >>>

            What are you talking about? Don’t be absurd, of course it doesn’t. Are you suggesting that Jesus lost control when he called the Pharisees vipers or cleared the money changers out of the temple?

            When one looses control one say and do things one do not mean.>>>

            Well that’s not happening here. I know exactly what I’m saying and it’s not colored by emotion. You, my friend, are responsible for the massive oppression and legal discrimination of gay men and women. And I’m angry at you for that, any reasonable person who loves this community and wants to see them enjoy their full set of rights as American citizens would be just as angry.

            How about you do this – I’m serious. Spend a month at a homeless shelter for teenagers. Hang out a little bit with the kids who are gay, who got kicked out of their homes because of beliefs like yours. Who had parents who said all of the same things you say – who had Christian friends who thought they were great – but those same parents make them feel like crap for who they were. Told them they were condemned by God for something they can’t change. You hold them in your arms while they sob, begging you to pray for them because they’ve prayed over and over again to be changed and God won’t change them and they think it’s because they are gay and God doesn’t hear their prayers. How about you FACE what your beliefs have done to these children, come back and talk about how *we* are the ones attacking *you*. I’m quite serious – I dare you. Do it for a month and tell us what it’s like.

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

            or a day

          • DR

            She never responds when she’s actually challenged to do something. So telling.

          • KarenAtFOH

            I just want to share with you DR, that every time I read one of your posts like this, your words and passion reach down through my numbness and hurt to where my inner child lives. I become emotional and she latches on for dear life. Your voice is incredible. I am grateful for your expressions of support.

        • Sue

          I am gay and can only read a little of the pretty and civil words that say I am less than and that our laws should reflect that. So I skip to the replies and feel a lot better. I have no idea if this is appropriate but there it is.

          • KarenAtFOH

            It is always appropriate to do what is necessary to feel safe. Those words are a rock in a velvet glove, and it’s perfectly fine to avoid them until such time as you feel ready, willing, and able to engage their message. Those words are carefully designed to try to make you feel bad.

  • Hildegunn U

    (you should at least read through before you write a scathing reply)

    … Well… I’m a Christian and I believe in an all knowing and all powerful God. As such, I have to believe that He knows best. While I’ve nothing against you and your partner, I also do not believe that God wanted two men (or two women) to be together and married in Holy Matrimony. The bible confirms this by saying so in many places and in many ways (… which… I will not go into). Its… a difficult topic but. Its not about me as a person, nor about you or any other gay or lesbian persons (that I’d gladly want to know – except for the useless arguing about who knows best). But about the fact that God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow and that He, in His word, clearly defines it as a sin. A God who says one thing one day, and something else the day after is not a God who can send his son to die for yours, mine and everyone else’s sins and we’d be cleansed for everything we sinned in the past, now and future. Cause then how would one know right from wrong? How could one know what is sin, and what is not? How could one know that one was saved, and if one was not? Which would really NOT be certain if God changed His mind like that. So… sleeping with ones own sex is against God’s Will and my own difficulties, concerns or arguments on the matter is irrelevant as He has spoken. Therefore; gay marriage is wrong and should not be legalized in a country that calls itself Christian (or state for that matter).

    The Priest has most likely discussed this many times, and he’d need a lot of time to properly talk to you of why he believes as he does. That you just confronted him in a public place like that… What was the point? All you did was tell him that you just wanted to try to force your view and arguments on him and ask questions that he had neither time nor was in a place to answer -who knows – maybe he was going to a funeral service or to an important meeting and really needed his mind and heart in the right place!?! You don’t want to be judged for what you do and are – and yet you can’t help but judge Christians and those of us who are the most visible ++. Stop and judge yourself and your behavior before you judge us. Just because you don’t understand and believe otherwise does not mean you have the right to tell me what I should believe or how ‘wrong’ I am, nor that you have the right to do so as if I was an ignorant child and you the condescending adult.

    You are gay, fine, I don’t particularly care as long as you don’t live as such and have a position of leadership in my Church. Everyone sins, and just cause many Christians claims that sleeping with ones own sex is so much worse than other sins, does not mean that they are right about it. The end results, being separated from a loving God and Father, is the same regardless of how ‘big’ or ‘small’ it is considered by those who believe.

    -> Just so you know, whenever I read about ‘Christians’ hurting people, gay or otherwise, I remember a bracelet I wore for years. It said simply ‘WWJD’ or ‘What Would Jesus Do’… And I can’t in a million years understand how they can use God’s word (or their understanding of it) to sanction what they do as they claim to be Jesus’s disciples and followers (from the word ‘Christians’). A God who tell us to show God’s love to others can’t be the same ‘god’ who wants us to bash gays or other groups.

    But.

    If you’d done that with me I’d rather have been a million miles away, and any and all arguments you used would have been nil and void in my mind… simply because you attacked me rather than actually wanted to talk with me about it.

    … Unfortunately, what you did in that airport clearly defines you as a type of person I do my very best to avoid. Not because you are gay or anything else about you as a person; but because you seem so desperately ready to attack anyone and anything that goes against what you yourself believe. So much so that you don’t seem to care about the damage you might do; to the induviduals you confront, to those around forced to listen, or even to the cause you fight for.

    But still… The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (to both you and your partner)

    • Allie

      Not sure you paid attention. He didn’t try to get them to change what they believe. He merely asked why they were trying to turn their BELIEFS into a LAW which would control his LIFE. I’m sure you would be annoyed if someone passed a law that said you must attend church on Saturday, not Sunday, since that’s in the Bible too. Apparently you feel God changed his mind on that one!

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

        nicely said, Allie.

      • Hildegunn Urdahl

        … As I repeatedly try to say – it was not about what he said, it was not about him as a person – it was about time and place. Rather than find a time that fitted for BOTH, he just went asking him in a place where he was on his way to somewhere else. John Shore might have been ready, with both mentality and and timing, to ask questions – but that does not mean that the Bishop was. If he’d asked for time for a meeting, then maybe they could have had a conversation and actually exchanged some information. If the Bishop had come to your work and started to preach while you were otherwise occupied (and busy doing what you should)… well then I bet you’d have been unable to answer him to and probably a bit annoyed that he could not wait until a better time. Simple and easy. Christians, unlike what you seem to demand, are not demi-gods in any ways and as such most of us can’t know that he was going to have question (which, as I said many times – did not seem so much about the questions and discussion – but an attack). Most have to set aside time, and when ones minds are busy… then just… ‘switching’ the thought process to something else is not an easy thing to do. As I said – what if he was going to a funeral or something else, or even an important meeting where he REALLY had to keep himself focused. You don’t know – and as such… well – Mr Shore should have taken the time to actually get the answers he wanted, including booking a time and preparing his arguments. And you Allie – does not seem to have read through what I wrote either – or you’d have know that I already tried to make this point.

        As for the law thing… We live in Christian countries, and as such we have to live with Christian values and the laws as those who makes the laws sees/saw as needed. If the law changed, that would mean that they said ‘Well, I know better than the god I believe in’ – the implication of which I’ve already spoken of. There is a huge difference between being a follower of Christ and being religious though. The Jews were the last, and while they sacrificed for their sins… they were unable to stop doing against God’s will (which they had been clearly informed of – even the ten set in stone (the main ones) – they were unable to follow). Only a select fews managed to truly change on the inside and truly walk with God… but – many of those (take David for example) still sinned large later on as they too could not keep themselves ‘clean’ and ‘pure’. One of the things about being Christians is that Jesus comes into our hearts – sounds like a cliché – but the point is that the change is not from the outside in, but from the inside out. … MASSIVE difference. I could try to eat fish on Fridays, do nothing except Church on Sundays and maybe invite guests for dinner, always keep my hair covered… and so on. I could – but then I’d be religious and not necessary a follower of Christ. If I FELT that was the right thing for me – and that God wanted me to – that would be something else again. Its… the main laws of God is written in us as conscience and in nature (which is in a state of being ‘birthed’ and as such is not perfect either). We were created to be man and woman, and to bear fruits. Including children and the difference between ending up old and bitter, or surrounded by family of all kinds as old. Why is being gay found unnatural in most countries (if not all?) regardless if they are Christian or not – because nature has not made such unions bear ‘fruits’ of any kind. (well – except as people and individuals)

        Well – the days is about a resting day and spending time with the congregation and fellow ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’. I don’t believe that the state should have much say in the Church, and to me, one of the worst tragedies in Christian history (that does not involve tragic human losses), is the merging of State and Church. … If you’ve grown up with Christian values and philosophy – well then you might not truly believe but just be a ‘Sunday Christian’ – which is why so many has started to use ‘follower of Christ’ to explain their faith instead. My Church actually comes together on Wednesday now (its a ‘free church’, and to them the main focus is on the bible, and not the state Church traditions, regulations and laws… last of which we follow unless it goes against our revelation of the Bible – which sounds weird but then there are good reason why there are so many different kind of churches and Christianity and not just the state one.). Its like… Christmas. While we celebrate Jesus birth then, we know for a fact that he was not only born in summer (or close to – June/July or similar), but also that the year is off. The fact that we got the timing wrong is irrelevant – but that we celebrate his birth is what is important. What you MEANT is what should be in focus; not the fact that a specific day is mentioned. Its… a lot of people have to work on Sundays – and is unable to get away. My mom is an example of that as people needs caring for even if it is Sunday (same with farmers and LOTS of other jobs). Just cause people WANT to go to church, does not mean they CAN. And is that a sin? – they SHOULD go to church, but doing so would most likely mean they did not do their responsibilities. A farmer or a nurse can’t just go ‘No, I can’t come to work today, Why? Be cause I’m a Christian and I absolutely have to go to Church today’. If they did then the animals and the people would suffer… and I just can’t imagine Jesus ever wanting that.

        Its… like that table with lots of food on thing – when Peter or Paulus had a revelation that it had nothing to do with what we did – but about allowing God to change us (hence the whole ‘all is allowed but not all build up’ and what that chapter++ says). We were told to love each other – not ordered to do so.

        So… – John Shore – book a time with that Bishop (or someone else), and THEN talk to him/them about your views and why you believe the laws are wrong and should be changed (maybe you should consider sending a letter to the government instead or as well?). Only then would I truly be interested in what you got from the meeting. Until then… actually read what I wrote rather than only the first part (which I asked you to do, but you clearly did not). Its faith, not a philosophy – and as such a verbal sparring where attack/defense is needed is something that is completely unnecessary and rarely brings anything but grief (or two people having fun as i know there are people out there who LIKE that – regardless of topic… – maybe you do – but I really, really don’t – nor do I see the point as it gives nothing to either side as no respect is shared) afterwards. …try not to scar too many people with your methods of ‘converting’ too, hmm?!

        • DR

          I’m confused by this. I’m ready with an answer at any given time for why I believe what I do. Why in the world is this “we need to give people tine and space to really think about their reply” remotely applicable when it is about their core beliefs? In this instance, men whose core beliefs are their actual vocation?

          All of you who are insisting that this was some kind of surprise attack bewilder me. This theology is as abusive as a father interpreting that beating his child mercilessly with an electric cord is just how Scripture is telling him to parent according to God’s guidelines.

          It’s not rude to engage. It’s not even rude to be angry *while* we engage, particularly if it is motivated anger due to an abuse of a vulnerable, oppressed population.

          We need to be done with this “but we have to educate people” burden. Educate YOURSELF. We’re creating this window of permissiveness that homophobics can continue to be homophobic – even if they don’t know they are – because they just don’t understand. You can understand anything if you apply the energy and effort to do so. These people have embraced learned helplessness as it relates to this issue and it’s the way to not have to change. Let’s start putting the burden on the actual people causing the actual problem, which is these priests and anyone who believes being gay is a sin.

          • Diana A.

            “We need to be done with this ‘but we have to educate people’ burden.”

            Hildegunn isn’t even arguing just that the Catholic priests need to be educated. Rather, Hildegunn (like so many others posting here) argues that this education should take place in a time, place, and manner convenient to the priests. In other words, how dare Mike Moore (whom Hildegunn thinks is John Shore, which just goes to show that Hildegunn needs to practice what she preaches when it comes to reading what’s there rather than making up her own interpretations) confront the priests with their bigotry when they’re not in the mood to deal with it. But of course, when would they ever be in the mood to deal with it.

            How dare those who are oppressed confront their oppressors. Now be good little slaves and do as you’re told.

          • DR

            Exactly.

        • Allie

          Again, you write a lot, but I don’t think you pay the slightest attention to anyone else. Otherwise you would have noticed that John Shore did not do this and is not in this story.

          And you DID say that the confrontation was about what the priests believe. Can’t you even keep track of your own words? They are right here, go read them again.

          If you are actively trying to harm me, I am entitled to oppose you at any time and in any way and in any place. You don’t have the right to be free of confrontation while you are hurting people. And depriving citizens of their rights under the law is hurting them.

          • Diana A.

            Thank you Allie!

          • DR

            you are so awesome.

        • Diana A.

          Hildegunn: John Shore might have been ready, with both mentality and and timing, to ask questions – but that does not mean that the Bishop was.

          Hildegunn: You don’t know – and as such… well – Mr Shore should have taken the time to actually get the answers he wanted, including booking a time and preparing his arguments. And you Allie – does not seem to have read through what I wrote either – or you’d have know that I already tried to make this point.

          Hildegunn: So… – John Shore – book a time with that Bishop (or someone else), and THEN talk to him/them about your views and why you believe the laws are wrong and should be changed (maybe you should consider sending a letter to the government instead or as well?).

          John Shore: I just got this in from reader Mike Moore (whom you might know via his moving guest-post here, A Good Week to Hate Christians).

          Mike Moore: Hi John, I have just now read your Aug 8 post regarding the Catholic Church….From over the back of my chair I said, “So, how’s that Vow of Poverty working out for you two?” They resolutely ignored me.

          Diana A.: Say Hildegunn! Maybe you’re the one whose reading comprehension skills are severely lacking.

        • Allie

          Incidentally, “we” do not live in Christian countries. I live in the United States of America, a nation where freedom from state-imposed religion has been guaranteed by law from the founding of the country. I’m not sure where you live, but if you want to live in a country with state religion, I think you can still move to Norway. I think they still have a state religion.

          My doctor is a Jain, my father used to work with Sihks, I have friends who are pagans and atheists, and I ate lunch at an Islamic restaurant yesterday (and felt kind of bad as it’s Ramadan and the waitress had to handle food without being able to eat herself.) Memphis, where I live, has had a large Jewish population since the 19th century – until recently most groceries and department stores here had Jewish names, and there are still several parks and public buildings with Jewish names, due to the charitable contributions of Jewish philanthropists. All of these people are Americans and this is their country.

          • DR

            amen!

          • Jim Farris

            Allie, I’m originally from near Memphis and lived in Memphis for all of the 1970s, so I know the stores of which you speak: Lowenstein’s, Levy’s, Gerber’s (I still have a Gerber’s hat box of my mother’s!), Julius Lewis (worked there) and of course the late lamented Goldsmith’s (worked there, too … twice). God bless our Jewish brothers and sisters, who would all find this discussion … um … “interesting”.

        • Nads

          Ok. I get your point about the time and place.

          But:

          “We live in Christian countries, and as such we have to live with Christian values and the laws as those who makes the laws sees/saw as needed. If the law changed, that would mean that they said ‘Well, I know better than the god I believe in’ – the implication of which I’ve already spoken of. There is a huge difference between being a follower of Christ and being religious though.”

          I live in a “Christian” country too (more like Catholic, actually) and we see that not everyone is Catholic or even Christian. So why should they be forced to follow Christian “laws”?

          And why would that mean, that just because you change the law, that you would say you know better than God? Abortion. Abortion is something not allowed in our country, without legal exceptions. One of the premise is that God knows best and that the life that was formed is meant to be. Really? How about for victims of incest – especially the minors? Victims of rape? Those who are subjected to sexual abuse even within marriage? Is that how God knows best? I mean, sometimes, people makes strange, blanket justifications for things they would rather not grapple with.

          Morality will always be a complex thing and – let’s face it. A lot of people don’t want to think about it. It’s wrenching. If a 12 year old came to you and said that she felt she just cannot bring her father’s offspring into this world, what would you do? Torture, isn’t it?

          Same thing with homosexuality. A lot of people would rather follow prescribed norms rather than think through for themselves what it means to be gay. Believe me, a lot of gay people would “stop” being gay if they could.

          You see, because this is the implication of others stating that homosexuality is a sin. How can you call it a sin when a lot of gay people are often confused about who they are, the attractions they have, especially when it involves a powerful human need such as connection on a more intimate level? And last I checked, sinning was very much something akin to hurting one’s fellowmen. But in homosexuality, most LGBTs know only that they love someone of the same sex. The only people who are actually hurt are the bigoted ones, who refuse to understand and who only see in black and white – until they are confronted with the same situation themselves. Oh, just look at the the ex-gay community leaders. I’m sure you can find an article somewhere.

          You know the problem with leaders is just that. You have to book a time and day for them to listen to you. But they can always preach from the pulpit, regardless of whether your heart is in it or not, and be FORCED to hear every dehumanizing thing they sometimes have to say about you and your way of life – when they don’t even know the first thing about you. They can influence a lot. They can even turn your loved ones and family against you if you happen to differ from them.

          Hildegunn, my sense is that never having had to deviate from the fundamental values of your Church, you are well-insulated and have probably never had to deal with being ostracized and persecuted for your own person. And that’s why you won’t get it, really. Not in a way.

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

      *crickets*

    • http://www.howfarexactly.blogspot.com Richard Shaw

      Oh Hilddegunn.

      Really?

      Here of all places?

      You want to bring grudging “tolerance” to one of the places on the ‘net that says “tolerance” is (quite rightly in my opinion) a sham?

      Shame on you. Truly truly shame on you. It’s stuff like this that means what I would define as proper Christians have to spend so much time defending their faith against me and mine. A fight that does no one any credit nor good.

      I’ve always felt very welcome here amid people with whom I have some disagreements on stuff because (almost) everyone on here values PEOPLE and what love we are capable of over some arbitrary definition of what is valuable in people.

      For shame.

      One love John, sorry to be negative.

      RS

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

        I didn’t once register anything you said as “negative.” I dug it.

      • Hildegunn Urdahl

        Note the fact that I spoke of God’s law – and my own views therefore should abide by that. I don’t HAVE to fight against you and yours because God has already told me what I should believe and what is right and wrong (even if the details ++ varies). That everyone deserves respect, and love and all that is something else. If Jesus died for you, as I believe – then you deserve to be heard as well – and to be accepted as a person. When you go up to someone, tell them exactly what you mean and don’t give them any and all warning nor is it even a time when such a confrontation is viable – well – that is being neither tolerant nor respecting of other views – nor even being INTERESTED in the fact that they believe otherwise. Which was what I reacted to. I love and respect my sisters and friends so much that I listen to them and accept that they have different views than me. I might not agree – but I still respect them, and therefore myself, enough to accept that I see things differently. The fact that the laws support many of my views is just… laws. There are laws that make it difficult to follow what one believe as a Christian too… but do you see us attacking the government people (or bosses) for it?

        Tolerant defined -> able to tolerate the beliefs, actions, opinions, etc, of others.

        as in – NOT confront like that.

        I have bisexual/gay friends who struggle with many of these questions (and the issues as well) – but I respect and tolerate them enough not to go up to them in public and telling them what they should believe. That is why they are still my friends and someone that I care very deeply for on a personal level. I even have Muslim friends I care deeply for. And while they too believe otherwise… I do not tell them that their faith and everything they believe in is wrong – even if the Bible clearly states that Jesus is the only road to God. I value our relationship enough that I don’t attack them verbally by telling them that everything they believe in is worthless. If I did… not only would they likely cut any contact; but any and all of what I value and respect would receive the same kind of value in their eyes. And they would most likely look far more negatively to any other person with my belief and faith. Which is why tolerance and respect has to be mutual.

        That you are supporting a person who verbally tried to stab someone is… well – it is up to you, but I doubt it does any good for your cause in the long turn. You are the kind of person that makes me wary of getting to know openly gay or lesbian people – even if I’d really like to. I like being hurt and disrespected as much the next person (as in not at all), and as such… you are giving unconscious lessons of the fact that gay and lesbian people want to force their view on me and that they want to use their words to harm me verbally, and therefore are among those that desperately needs to be avoided.

        • Christy

          Re: “I have bisexual/gay friends who struggle with many of these questions (and the issues as well) – but I respect and tolerate them enough not to go up to them in public and telling them what they should believe.”

          Again. He wasn’t telling them what they should believe. He was telling them how the POLICIES and ACTIONS of the Church they represent negatively impact his life in a direct way and asking why they thought they had a right to do that.

          Your gay and bisexual friends aren’t trying to deny you your civil rights. That’s the difference. It’s not about belief. It’s about actions.

          • Diana A.

            Oh Christy! There you go again being logical!

          • Christy

            Silly me. What was I thinking?

        • Christy

          Re: “Tolerant defined -> able to tolerate the beliefs, actions, opinions, etc, of others. as in – NOT confront like that.”

          Uuuuummmm….Hildegunn, Jesus taught us to be intolerant of actions that oppress people. See the Seven Woes to the Pharisees. He confronted them in a direct, public, in your face way…and like so many others that followed him – it got him killed. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us to be intolerant of Racism. Norma Rae taught us to be intolerant of workplace abuse. Gandhi taught us to be intolerant of Colonialism. Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela taught us to be intolerant of Apartheid. Bonhoeffer and Niemöller taught us to be intolerant of Nationalism and Genocide. The Abolitionists taught us to be intolerant of slavery. The Suffragettes taught us to be intolerant of gender inequality and Martin Luther taught us to be intolerant of the Church standing in the way of the individual’s direct access to God.

          ACTIONS that oppress people are the very things our religious leaders have taught us to be intolerant of.

          • vj

            This was wonderful!

        • Gina Minard-Rivera

          I appreciate your long explanations. But, to me, the actions of Mike were asking why ANYONE’S religious beliefs (in this case, Catholic representatives who proudly announced their affiliation with their clothing) should be imposed on the COMMON LAW of Americans. As others have shared, do you want MUSLIM LAW, BUDDHIST LAW, or other religions dictating our rights in America? That is the crux – the Constitution declares it should not be so. And yet, the Catholic Church and other organizations use their financial and Biblical beliefs to define laws that effect AMERICANS who do not hold to those RELIGIOUS beliefs. No one is asking the Catholics in this recount or you as an individual to change your beliefs, defend your beliefs, or even change their adherence to those beliefs. However, the LGBT community (in this example) is being forced to adhere to the Biblical beliefs – and that is wrong.

          I am glad you stick to your beliefs, that you are proud of them, and no one here wants you to change. But whether or not you admit it, you are forcing those beliefs on others in all your actions.

        • Joshua

          Hildegunn Urdahl – so many carefully chosen words, yet you say so little other than to illustrate your lack of tolerance toward others. That you use the word of God to justify yourself is not only selfish, but misguided. I truly feel sorry for you – for someone who has to justify himself by being overly verbose.

    • Christy

      re: “A God who says one thing one day, and something else the day after is not a God who can send his son to die…”

      But what about incest? If we take the Garden of Eden story literally, God changed his mind about incest. Where else did all of human kind come from? (this is rhetorical and contains a note of sarcasm) By Leviticus, it apparently wasn’t necessary anymore and so God forbade it.

      And what about slavery? Paul clearly tells his followers that slaves are to submit to their masters willingly and cheerfully even the cruel ones. So Lincoln must have been out of the will of God to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

      And what about epidurals? God clearly tells Eve that now she must endure having the pain of labor greatly multiplied for her sin. Why then do women continually go against God’s will and attempt to minimize the intended punishment for their sinful condition? We should probably notify the priests to add epidurals to the list of non-covered medical care for it is clearly out of the will of God.

      And all of the other purity code issues of Leviticus that get brought up ad nausaem: shellfish, women adorning themselves, men’s beards and sideburns, women not wearing the raiment of a man, not cutting their hair, covering their heads, no mixed fabrics, keeping kosher, no pork chops or bacon, stoning non-virgins…

      Re: “but because you seem so desperately ready to attack anyone and anything that goes against what you yourself believe. So much so that you don’t seem to care about the damage you might do…”

      The damage *HE* might do???

      He’s not attacking people who have different beliefs. He’s attacking an extremely well-funded Patriarchal Paternalistic Religious Machine hell bent on legislating their beliefs onto the lives of people who do not share their faith. That was a point he made very clearly in his exchange with them. This isn’t about what they believe. It’s about how the Church they represent ACT. How it TREATS people. What the Church does to interfere in the lives of people whom they don’t know and aren’t in charge of. And how their POLICIES affect people’s lives.

      The damage he might do. (shakes head)

      Two words: Priest Abuse. My God, hasn’t the Church done enough damage? Here’s a few more words: Constantine, Crusades, Inquisition, Pope Innocent III, Cathers, Galileo, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther,… the assault against the nuns. If after centuries of plunder and mayhem wrought in the name of God, after converting Native peoples at the end of a sword…if the Holy Roman Catholic Church’s skin isn’t thick enough to have two of its representatives handle a couple of pointedly relevant questions from a gay man in an airport….

      • Hildegunn Urdahl

        I said in a different reply that the merging of state and Church was among the WORST tragedies that has happened in Christian history. Then people could USE it against those who knows less or are more vulnerable for various reasons rather than allowing people to accept God into their lives. If you do stuff like that – something of which everyone KNOWS is wrong, regardless of other beliefs, then one is NOT being a follower of Christ – regardless of what one says. With the ‘Show God’s love’ and, ‘created in God’s that the bible ALSO clearly says… I won’t even go into the rest of your arguments – find a Bishop, priest or a leader in a church that follow the bible+++ and book a time and THEN be willing to listen to what he/she says.

        Read Christ Gillespie’s answer for a more… non religious version of what I meant when about ‘attacking’. . (the whole ‘affirm’ I’m not certain of – but – gay bashing, gay kids+ tossed out of their homes for who they are, abuse… I can’t see God in that at all).

        • DR

          Read Christ Gillespie’s answer for a more… non religious version of what I meant when about ‘attacking’. . (the whole ‘affirm’ I’m not certain of – but – gay bashing, gay kids+ tossed out of their homes for who they are, abuse… I can’t see God in that at all).>>>

          Then do something about it. Honestly, those of you who are completely supportive of anti-gay theology while simultaneously wringing your hands about the abuse of gay children from Christian homes makes me sick to my stomach.

          I can’t find one Christian organization that has organized any kind of formal support group for gay kids who are kicked out of their homes by Christian parents. Not one. I’ve volunteered on suicide hotlines the Trevor project sponsors for gay kids who need to reach out to someone – not one Christian there. Not one.

          None of you care enough to actually organize yourselves around the problem and solve it – a problem that is rooted in your theology that you continue to hold on to, to express and act upon. It’s vile at this point to read about those of you who are “so concerned” and “just don’t see God at all” in the actions of Christians who throw their gay kids away. It’s an EPIDEMIC – 20-40% of homeless kids are gay.

          DO SOMETHING or honestly, just leave gay men and women alone, particularly children who are gay. Don’t go near them. That’s the best way you can help if you’re going to be content with just verbalizing your concern.

          • David S

            DR. You said that perfectly. And I am so with you. Anti-gay Christians say they love all people. They have a really awful way of showing it.

          • Nads

            DR, touche. Hypocrisy, when you get down to it, really, really sucks.

            Simply put – don’t tell people to love the sinner and hate the sin. That’s BS, especially if what you’re pertaining to may not be a sin. Also, homelessness is not the worst thing that have happened to gay people. Others have ended up dead, either by their own hands or by those of others.

            And why? Because people who were supposed to have known better perpetuated the idea that being gay was wrong. You can’t just stop being gay. They don’t even know the first thing about it. But thanks to them, we now have a perspective that makes the loved ones and families of homosexuals so afraid for their own eternal salvation that they would rather throw their own kids out than love them and suffer and go to hell for it.

            Really puts God’s love and compassion into the scheme of things, eh?

    • http://www.patsediting.com Patricia Brush

      I’m picking some connecting ideas out of your long diatribe.

      You believe that God doesn’t want two gay people to be married even though God never mentions the subject and I am sure that you are fine with refrigerating your food which also isn’t mentioned. Every time you expound on this baseless belief, gay people hear that you do not want them to be happy, and that you do not want them to be considered equal under the eyes of the law. They hear that you believe that gays are sub human, otherwise why would you be saying such nasty things? This may not be your intention, but it is the message you are giving, and it is a very hurtful one.

      You said that it’s not about you or any gay person. Except that when you want to have your belief system written into law and that law would directly affect the lives of every gay person and not affect you in the slightest, then yes, it is not about you, but it becomes very personal for gay folk.

      You said that being gay is fine as long as we don’t live as gay or hold a position of leadership. You are advocating that gay people should not live fully as the people that God created them to be. You are suggesting that all gay people should live a lie. Do you understand how soul destroying that is? I have lived the lie, went to church every Sunday, and despaired that I did not have a connection with God. When I started to live fully as myself, the person that God created, the connection blossomed. Is it seriously your intention to push people away from God? Because that is a serious sin.

      You can’t understand why people would hurt people who are gay. I think that what you can’t understand is how your beliefs, especially when so abundantly stated, hurt people who are gay. If you don’t want to hurt people who are gay, then I respectfully suggest that you stop airing your beliefs so publicly. You are free to hold those beliefs and you are free to state them, but if you want to do no harm then you have to choose a different course.

      • Hildegunn Urdahl

        Position of leadership ‘In my church’ (…I hope I did not forget that…I think I double checked…) – as in representing those who follow God. Other than that… Well – I don’t even see why that should even BE an issue. If you accept God into your life – then – you’ll have to ask HIM why he did not create us to be ‘man and man’ or ‘woman and woman’. As for ‘law’ – that depends upon the law one is using – I’m talking about GOD’S law – and I admit to often having doubts myself about many things – but I’m setting HIS law above what I myself think about the issue. Being gay is not a sin as such – sleeping with some of the same sex is. But then one should remain faithful to ones wife and husband so… We are humans, we sin, and we even GRADE sins based on what we think. Jesus washes the sins away – not remove them. I can’t go and say – ‘okay, I think everyone should be allowed to marry who they wanted’ and then claim that God said so too when I really, really didn’t. Lots of people I know live in partnerships (as a man and a woman…) – because they don’t want to marry for various reasons – and they too live in sin. Rather than the ‘easiness’ of marriage they actually have to change a lot of stuff that a marriage gives automatically (like the ‘widow’ in Sweden who ended up fighting to receive what should have been hers because they never married and they never made a will together for a worst case scenario). Does that mean their devotion to each other is any less? No, it just means that they need to figure out if they can do that and (if they are Christian) if they want continue to grow in God. My country allows gay marriage (well… it did last I know…), and even has lesbian priest. And to be honest I do not understand how the last can even BE priests as they do the exact opposite has God has told us to and lead people astray. And I do not wan them anywhere near anyone who actually want to LEARN about God. As for the marriage thing… If it was the state that married, and had nothing to do with the church… Well then I’d be able to discuss it. But in a Christian way? – no. That would be saying that God says its the right thing to do – and the Bible confirms he doesn’t. If I believe Jesus died for me, and yet, something that so many parts of the bible +++ confirms is wrong… is suddenly right. Then I’d have to question if God is all knowing and all powerful. And if he wasn’t… how then could Jesus die for my sins and wash them away? So any church that allows people who break God’s word like that to be leaders of any kind is one that I’d be very suspicious of. Some of the leaders/priest might be good and caring followers of Christ- but a lot of them is also leading people astray. THAT is why a gay, married priest should NEVER happen.

        … I’ve already said – several times (well – today) – that I think state and church should be separated. As such I do not want the use of the law to force believes and actions on others. I think that there are baselines already written in everyone – like the ‘thou shall not steal, nor kill +++ ‘ that in essence is about being good people – even those with barely a conscience know that it is wrong on some level. If we allow Jesus into our lives, then we are held to a higher standard, and we slowly and surely have to allow Him to change us. If I believe drinking alcohol is right, and then I drink and show others that God allows it and they become alcoholics… Well – I’d have to answer to God for that – because I ‘knew’ that God told me that ‘all if allowed, but not all build up and that we need to respect others belief in what is right and wrong’. But just cause my mom do not drink alcohol at all, does not mean that every Christian feels that doing so is a sin, or even wrong at all. My cousin drinks a glass of wine now and then with her husband (I know both are devoted followers of Christ). And we all belong to the same church. If we do things because God in some ways has told us that it is the right thing to do.. that is faith. If we do things because that is the way we do it… that is religiousness.

        … as for why I responded in the first place – read Chris Gillespie’s review on the whole ‘you catch more flies with honey’ thing. …

        And just to clarify the other side that author wrote – I don’t support ‘bashers’ of any kind (…in context with the next one) – and I believe love, happiness, joy +++ is from God and that harm, violence, depression++ is from the devil. … am not certain of the ‘affirm’ thing – even if a part of me screamed in protest when I learned just how many percent of KIDS and TEENS in the US are tossed OUT of their HOMES because they are gay++. I’d get there being a bit… of issues with the church depending on the views there (and how much they influence others – which given their ages should be ‘not much’ – most of all because its the CHURCH the Bible talked about and its also very specific). But out of their homes… O_O… Those posters screaming that ‘God hate gays’ also is something I don’t think any Christian should ever even CONSIDER holding or have ANYTHING to do with (except for saying sorry for those that do).

        In that … I do support the LGBT community fully – because they too are human beings and as such are also created in God’s image. As I believe all people on earth are children of God… then, I do not think that He’d be glad to see us tossing them out of what should be their home, or telling them that He hates them+++. Clarifying what He says… that is something else. I don’t believe God says ‘you can’t be a follower of Christ if you are gay’ – but I say ‘If you are gay, and become a follower, then sooner or later you’ll have to take it up with God to be able to continue to grow in Jesus and become all that he wants you to become’. … and now – just read that review for the rest.

        • Christy

          Re: ” If I believe Jesus died for me, and yet, something that so many parts of the bible +++ confirms is wrong… is suddenly right. Then I’d have to question if God is all knowing and all powerful.”

          Yep. And that’s really scary when it’s easier for folks to not think about it, not ask hard questions and just continue to be really sure they are right.

          • Hildegunn Urdahl

            It does, does it not? – but then I already know many of the dangers. I know I can’t take the word ‘literary’ or even out of context (the story of the man who just ‘opened’ the bible and put his finger somewhere and read the verse is a… teaching one; ‘the man opened the bible and put his finger down, and read ‘And Judas went and hanged himself’, then he shook his head and just found it weird and did it again, ‘Go you and do the same’, and then he decided to try one last time and found ‘What are you waiting for?’ – the story does not say how it ends but… scary one. I know that I can’t take my own revelation and not talk to others about if it REALLY was from God or not. (One church did that – and well… was a big scandal cause nobody was there to tell their only leader that he was leading his people wrong).

            I also believe in what they say in Lucas 7; “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

            3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

            Yes, it is scary, but. I question those who comes with the word and allow God to tell me if it is right or not (and talk to others… completely wrong ones gives me bad feelings). … The fact that the Bible is translated from several different languages, and not only that, but from MANY years ago and a different culture… well – one has to know quite a bit to be able to judge what God means and not directly. I DO have questions, and hard ones at that, not about being gay but about other things – which in many ways it is just as hard as it is something I am and not ‘just’ a habit. I do sometimes wonder WHY things are as they are and well – I do accept that sometimes revelations are wrong. or in fact that anything ‘human’ can be flawed. (which is even worse when it comes to fanatics with leaders who have their own agenda).

            But, God’s law is different. Its… the main thing is actually in the ten commandments. (note – sabbath is also translated as ‘rest’). Jesus also talk of them. Matthew 19:16-19 – ’16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

            17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ In Matthew he actually places two of them above the rest; 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

            40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

            … The ‘neighbor’ part is second only to the love of God. So the love for those around me, should only be ‘lesser’ than the love I have for my God (who, as you probably know – sacrificed his only son to save me, and therefore you… well – same love is my point). So… It is not as scary as it might seem (and I’m not that blind that I believe the word someone says that blindly). … Matthew 7, 21-23 ‘says 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ In essence when what a church does brings negativity both to them and to the community as a whole (and how people looks at them)… then their leaders are false prophets. If they bring positive fruits… they are not.

            I do ask a lot of questions – and sometimes I just don’t understand WHY things are as they are (myself or other stuff – this song actually ‘explains’ a bit – and its some hard truths that well – took some time before I even realized the implications of the lyrics – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJL7Eis0Rb0 – If we are the body – casting crowns… part of why I’m AGAINST gay bashing or even racism of any kind and do not understand how one can EVER claim that it is God’s will). Just because I believe God is the ultimate authority does not mean that I know everything or will accept anyone who claims they know what God wants – the bible itself says that we see as in a mirror… or something like that – point is – as long as I am alive I can’t see the full truth of who and what God is and does, and neither can anyone else. We understand so much more than we did even a hundred year ago; and yet it is but a drop compared to the ocean that is God. Just because I can’t ever support gay marriage does not mean that I believe your love is any less love (how else could couples stay together for so long?), nor that your abilities as parents should be in question, or that you are less worth than me or anyone else because you love differently. Just because your ‘sins’ are deemed so bad by many Christians… well – I don’t think they have the right to judge. Sin, regardless of what it is, separates one from God… and well – anyone who has truly judged oneself will not be able to say that someone else’s sin is worse than our own.

            … In essence… When it comes to me you don’t really have to worry. While I might seem ‘fanatic’ in some aspects of my faith (which has more to do with the implication of God NOT being the ultimate authority – which would then mean that Jesus sacrifice would be useless and everything I believe in would be ultimately worthless), I am also quite ‘fanatical’ in the fact that I really, really, care for people. … and that I also am quite aware that I can’t fully trust my own judgment when it comes to others and what they say and do. I KNOW I am wrong about much, and changing opinions is… well – happens WAY too often for my liking. But. The fact that in a world that changes all the time, where nothing can truly be certain… God is the same today, in the past and in the future – is something that I do find quite the comfort.

          • Christy

            The Greatest Commandment, as Jesus taught, is on what all the other commandments hang. It IS the point. It IS the way of Jesus. It IS the sum of all we are to be on the world and to whom.

          • Allie

            I honestly don’t think you realize this, but when you make paranoid comments about not wanting to live under Shariah law while insisting that we should live under Christian law, you are being racist. I understand that it’s frightening to live in a country which has always been homogenous and suddenly face immigration pressure from people with a very different way of life. But no one is trying to enforce Shariah law in Christian countries. That’s a straw man, it’s a made up fear, and it’s crazy.

          • Christy

            Thank you.

        • Christy

          Re: “I’ve already said – several times (well – today) – that I think state and church should be separated.”

          Norway has a state Church, yes? The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway?

          • Hildegunn Urdahl

            Not anymore. And has anyway never been a member – was not baptized as a child (the Bible speak of a conscious decision – and the single verse that justifies it says simply ‘and he was baptist with his entire house’ not specifically babies that can’t make the choice. Grew up in the pentacostal church which PRAYS for the child instead).

            I do not understand why a friend of mine to get confirmed HAD to be baptized – when that is a promise of the fact that you choose to be a follower of Christ. Lots of bad things has happened in the name of the ‘Christian God’ – but that was individuals or groups that took advantage and ‘changed’ the Word to suit them rather than what God said. … Many reasons why I don’t like the state church – changes from the outside – not necessarily changes from the inside.

          • Christy

            What denomination do you belong to?

          • Christy

            Hildegunn, Christianity is made up of many different denominations. They came to be over hundreds of years. They disagree on the details of what are essentially the same core beliefs, but in profound ways and for theologically thoroughly debated reasons by (mostly) men more well read than all of us. We have different beliefs within Christianity.

            You can disagree with infant baptism if you want to. But it is not a gracious point of view to tell other Christians they are wrong to hold such beliefs, the very thing you accuse the letter writer of doing with the priests. This is the hypocrisy so many are tired of seeing within the Church and by church people.

            Re: “I do not understand why a friend of mine to get confirmed HAD to be baptized ”

            Then why don’t you ask her? The likely answer is those are the rules of her denomination.

        • Christy

          Oh dear Lord.

          Re: alcohol. You are not responsible for other people’s actions. They are responsible for themselves. And God and the Holy Spirit are responsible for speaking to them about what is right and wrong in their life.

          And this: “that harm, violence, depression++ is from the devil”

          Let me be clear. I’m in the medical field. Depression is NOT from the Devil. It can be a normal emotional state on a spectrum from sadness and despair over loss and tragedy that subsides with time to a deeply affecting medical condition in need of treatment. It is NEVER from the Devil.

          You have been taught one perspective of the Christian faith. It is not the only one. It is not the uniquely correct one. Growing in Christ and following Jesus requires an openness and humility to *what is* rather than a closed certainty to what we have been taught to believe is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. Moral certainty is bright and shiny and so terribly blinding. Passionately studying and searching for the truth will lead to more insights and connections and revelations and a deeper understanding of and connection to God. Being sure one already knows what is right and already has all the answers surely will not. Many blessings on your journey.

        • Nads

          Hildegrunn,

          Are you even aware that even among animals there is homosexuality?

          Yey, they don’t “sin”. Maybe you can also find out for us why they were created that way, too, before you start talking again as if the rest of us lacked comprehension and common sense on this matter.

    • Hildegunn Urdahl

      Actually – I never once said (or wrote if you want to be that prickly about it) that you all had to believe as I do – I simply explained my side of the whole issue and why I can’t change my mind on certain issues. Why is it that many of you feel you need to attack me for it? – I did not say that I hate gays. I did not say that don’t think God loves you. I did not say that your love is any less or more than heterosexual love. I did not say that that you should have less or more rights or value than other people in society – honestly – except for on the marriage issue it should be the SAME! (well – and religiously issues++ – but still – same rights) What I DID say – was that the way you did the confrontation was wrong. I read the original missive – and I think you need to read the last parts again as well and THINK about what the author might have meant rather than just outright what it said. I’m not particularly good at reading double meanings or when one write one thing and means another… and yet I still managed to understand what the author meant.

      … as for how you should do things – I went to a school were we could not ask the principal if we could have a dance (which was not allowed by the very LAWS of the school), instead we (‘we’ is strong word – I was told about about it) used ‘come together and move to music’ – THEN it had a huge chance of being allowed. Stop crying about what you DON’T get since you can’t marry in the church in most states and countries, and figure out other ways to do it instead. Make wills (regardless of how difficult the thought of loosing your loved ones can be – loosing them and having to FIGHT for what you shared will be even worse – ALL in a truly longterm relationship without a marriage needs that – even heterosexual ones), change power of attorney (or whatever it is called to get the final say in medical issues and be allowed to visit++) and whatever else you need paper-wise to get the same rights (there are have artificial insemination, which… well – is one way to get children…) as others do when they marry. Mike Moore should also do that to ensure that nobody can tell him he can’t visit his husband in the hospital and anything else he needs and wants to do. HIS arguments I get. HIS view I can understand – because he did not go up to someone and forced HIS views on them – but simply wrote what has happened to him and what affects that has had on him and his family. Then I can question how your country allows that to happen without repercussions. And how much better things should be.

      Given the choice I think I’d like to ask if Mr Moore and his husband would come for dinner at my home, and then maybe tell me about their experiences and difficulties on the matter and difficulties they have faced and might face in the future. But you? Given the choice I’d much prefer it if we stayed on two different continents.

      …As for gay bashing – I’ve said I’m against it – but to clarify. Everyone, on one level or another – reacts negatively to it (the whole – God gave us a conscience+). One might… try to justify it, but in the end it is in many cases breaking the law directly (normal law and not more). People turn from it because a part of it TELLS them it is wrong – and faith has NOTHING to do with that! The main fight I think you have is how the MEDIA talks about LGBT people being hurt by others. If the focus is on if they are gay and not the fact that someone hurt him or her – then it is easy to ‘ignore’ the last part as it has nothing to do with anyone one know or care for. If the focus is on the fact that one or more person choose a person and violently hurt him or her… well – I do think they’d want them FAR away from their children and therefore react. Make yourself ‘normal’ in the eyes of the public. as in focus on how you are similar rather than how you are different – honestly – some are black and some are white and I don’t see how that affects if they are good or bad people or their value. They eat, they drink , they love, they do everything the same (though sometimes in different ways in various cultures) except for the fact that their skin color is different. You are proud to be gay or lesbian – I am proud to be a human being, and a follower of Christ at that. Focus on the human part… and I think a lot more people would accept you than if you continue to attack mine and their faith.

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

        Wow. Just … wow.

        • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

          I don’t even know what to do with his/her giant blocks of text. It’s all blurring together. Kudos to those of you who are actually responding. Lord!

          • Jill

            Yeah, I’m just trying to catch up, and I’m not making headway. Maybe I ought not try so hard.

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

            Yeah, it’s the infamous “wall of words” that some use in fundy online forums… I spent some time as a member of a few such forums. I met more than one just like Hildegunn. Same all over the map stream-of-consciousness, contradictory logic, red herrings, strawmen, bible-idolization… I’d forgotten how absolutely exhausting it is to even try to engage. Kudos from me too!

            PS – the cadence of a “wall of words” kind of reminds me of many of the out-loud stream-of-consciousness prayers I heard in that same era of my life.

      • DR

        OK, I’ve had enough. Please – stay away from people who are gay. Particularly children. The fact that you actually think you’re being *attacked* for a conversation you continue to engage in where you are simply being held accountable to the impacts of your anti-gay beliefs that you have chosen to express here is so creepy and unstable. It’s dangerous.

      • Allie

        Okay. You’re saying that gay people should spend thousands of dollars in lawyer fees for the same rights straight people have automatically. You also just said that “everyone” reacts negatively to gayness because they know it is wrong. Well, you’re wrong about that – obviously 1/10th of the population, who are gay, do not react negatively. Most gay people feel instinctively that straight sex is wrong for them, just as most straight people feel about gay sex. But that does not mean they freak out about it. It is only your lack of empathy that causes you to believe that all people feel the same way you do, and that your feelings are obviously a sign of what God feels. That’s very very nasty.

      • Nads

        Hildegunn,

        Dancing is different from being denied your civil rights.

        And nobody attacks your faith. Sorry. I’ve seen too much on the contrary. You’re figuring out and living your life as best as you can but every time, you’re reminded why you can’t measure up.

        You know, it’s not as if John did some crazed attack on the priests. They’re just not used to being challenged, is all. Probably got used to preaching and everyone else just listening.

        Sometimes, I think it’s better if sermons were more interactive. Then services/church would probably be waaaaaay more interesting. You could get me to come very Sunday then, I’m sure (or Wednesdays, or whenever).

    • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

      Methinks you doth protest too much. And you lost me when you said this, “…about the fact that God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow ….”

      God may be, but what you choose to believe is his Word, is most certainly not.

      You obviously believe in the Bible. But do you worship it? Is the Bible your God? Or is God your God? Do you equate God and the Bible? Do you acknowledge that the Bible can be differently interpreted by different people? If so (and I don’t know how you could answer no with any intellectual honestly), then whence comes your apparent certainty of YOUR interpretations? And if the Bible is God, are you not then presuming to interpret God?

      You might respond as so many do by citing the Holy Spirit guiding you in your Biblical understanding. OK, it might be doing that, but does it occur to you, can you accept the possibility that the Holy Spirit also speaks to you, to anyone who listens, in ways quite apart from the Bible? Do you believe it also speaks to you thru your own heart and personal introspection? Or do you, as apparently so many Christians do, give too much credence to Jeremiah when he pronounces the heart “deceitful above all things”? So, what?! We must not listen to our hearts and minds at all but rely only on the words in the Bible? What then of trusting the Holy Spirit to speak thru your heart and mind? What of trusting GOD to speak to you in that way? How else indeed, does he speak to us?! If you don’t trust that, are you cutting off a very significant means of God communicating with you? If you believe, and I suspect you do, that God and the Spirit are one then are you not trusting God to speak to you thru your heart? Indeed, if you are agonizing about a moral issue or even a worldly decision, can you always find the answer in the Bible? I mean, a literal answer….without interpretation? You can only answer honestly, NO. Whence comes your answers then?

      Surely you must keep always in mind that the Bible was written by men (noticeably no women but that’s another issue). But you might respond to say, “Men, guided by the Holy Spirit”. Do you see where this is going? Those Biblical authors didn’t HAVE a Bible to fall back on. If they were indeed being guided by the Holy Spirit, thru what method of communication? The only possible answer is….. thru THEIR hearts and minds. We know they wrote in ancient languages and language structures that need modern interpretations. Is it possible that men since have been making incorrect interpretations, influenced perhaps, by personal prejudices or social politics, or just plain erroneous understanding? For centuries Christians have spouted the meme of the “unchanging Word of God”, but if we think about it, we all know it’s simply not so. It has constantly changed thru interpretations and “versions” ad infinitum.

      These FACTS force us to consider, if we are intellectually honest, if it is possible that the “Word of God” is a living, changing thing and still speaks to us?

      And could it be speaking to millions right now on this gay issue? Or did it stop speaking to us somewhere in the past and if so, when? It seems to have spoken, and CHANGED about slavery and behavior toward women and racial civil rights and even about proper foods, and a host of other human matters that are fully accepted now by most Christians. Why not this gay issue? Really, why would the Holy Spirit not now be speaking to us about gays? Because it is a forbidden subject? The Bible says so? Are you getting the circular reasoning of that?

      God is NOT the Bible. The Bible is not God. God is LOVE. That’s so simple, so much easier and makes life so much better all around. I think that’s what Jesus tried to show us. If we are to be primarily concerned about the afterlife to the extent that we dismiss worldly human relations, then what was the point of his very humanistic teachings?

      You can sense the Spirit of change, not only on gay issues, but ecological, human relations, and even a new openness to Spiritual as opposed to Religious attitudes worldwide. It is a Spirit of Love, and it is changing us.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen?sk=wall Soulmentor

        I lost track of how this fits the thread but it is meant for Hildegunn.

      • KarenAtFOH

        “You obviously believe in the Bible. But do you worship it? Is the Bible your God? Or is God your God? ”

        I love this so much, it is one of the amazing things I have found on this blog. Thank you for repeating it, and if it is yours, thank you for voicing it!

  • n.

    Probably somebody has already mentioned this, but priests don’t take a vow of poverty, for fairly obvious reasons. That would be monks and nuns who do that. as a protestant myself, i was shocked to learn this some years ago.

  • Marlene Lund

    Hildegunn U, your response was that of so many within our Christian community who really haven’t listened to anything people like John Shore have been sharing for years now. You really have to go back and read the verses in context with study guides that address original language and cultural context. But that’s not the issue I want to address in this comment. Your statement that sent up red flags for me was “Therefore; gay marriage is wrong and should not be legalized in a country that calls itself Christian (or state for that matter).” We are not and have never been a “Christian” country. Only Christians call America a Christian country. Our founding fathers were very definite in their writing that this new nation was not to be affiliated with any specific faith. Christianity is not the state religion, as we don’t have one. The whole point is that we are a nation where all people are free to follow the faith of their choice. Past Christian practices that have been/are being challenged in the courts (such as prayer in public schools) are not an attack on religion. Rather, they are an affirmation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Christians who decry these challenges only do so because the specific practices are Christian. It would be a very different situation for these same Christians if students in the public schools were led in Muslim prayers several times during the day or Buddhist prayers or those of any other faith. Freedom of religion is freedom for all religions, not a right of Christians to demand that our religion be the only one recognized and supported by the state. Theocracy is only good for the people whose god is the one being recognized.

    • http://lesbicrafy.blogspot.com Sonja Faith Lund

      Ladies and gentlemen, my mom. ^^^

      • Elizabeth

        So wonderful.

      • Christy

        Sonja’s mom rocks!

    • vj

      “Freedom of religion is freedom for all religions, not a right of Christians to demand that our religion be the only one recognized and supported by the state. ”

      THIS should be a bumper-sticker!

    • CJ in AZ

      Right, what she said!! I always tell those that criticize my zeal for the separation of Church and State that I do so because I RESPECT the constitution, not because I REJECT it!!

    • Gina Minard-Rivera

      Very, very well written and – as a devote Christian – I agree 100%

    • Hildegunn Urdahl

      A ‘Christian’ country is one where the constitution and the laws originally made were heavily inspired and built from the Bible and Christians beliefs (… and more – but this is basics – my country were too – even if Norway too is moving away from a lot of the ‘force feeding’ of it – even if the US too is moving again you are STILL considered a Christian country) . I don’t say that all of you are Christian or even have to be – but that the basics WERE based upon Christian values +++. … I don’t WANT state and church/religion to be the same cause then the faith can just become a philosophy or tradition while real one changes one from the inside. And why do I believe that? Cause I agree with you on the fact that it should be about choice and not tradition and the state religion (which are so very easily abused by authorities with agendas – as history has shown over and over again). I was GLAD when church and state separated in my country (did not like the speed with which it happened, but I really liked the results), cause then children would not automatically be considered a member of a church they did not really be part of, nor have to be baptized to get their confirmation at 15/16 regardless of what they believed in if they weren’t before (as my best friend at the time had to do – she was NOT a Christian at the time nor did she want to be… she just wanted her party and the money and all that… and for that she needed to do something that is supposed to symbolize that one REALLY want to be a follower of Christ). … I think that any parent that want to give their child a Christian upbringing should ensure that themselves rather than let the ‘state’ (school ++) do so. Reciting prayers, reading strange stories and so on… has nothing to do with the real faith.

      Did you know that if you said one of those Muslim prayer out loud with witnesses present you’d be considered a Muslim? And in Islam the repercussions of converting to other religions in many cases means death for those that do, if found out and in the wrong country (and in some cases even if they are in countries that forbids it). And while there are many religious ideas out there about when to eat meat, what to watch, what not to do in Christianity… it is nothing against what some of the stricter Muslims cultures do – and that not only against women. Being gay means jail or even being honor killed in Sharia – SO many things can get you honor killed under Sharia. I do NOT want to live in a strict Muslim country, and neither do I suspect, do you. As for Buddhist… well. I suspect they’d NOT force me to do so.

      So… you can’t really compare those religions to Christianity and what it does as a state religion. … Nor did I mean the ‘Christian country’ that way- which I have heard used that way all my life from, those I know are Christians, school and even non Christian ones – so thats just a ‘cultural difference’.

      • Christy

        I wouldn’t pretend at all to understand all the fine nuance and history of your country as an outsider. Please don’t do so with ours.

        Re: “I do NOT want to live in a strict Muslim country, and neither do I suspect, do you.”

        Nor do I want to live in a strict Christian one.

        Religious Fundamentalism is the problem with all faiths, including Christianity. Authoritarian religions, when given unfettered power do not tend to rule benevolently, as you point out. It’s why we don’t want the Church legislating here what the public can or cannot do. It’s why we ARE NOT a Christian country (despite what the Fundamentalists teach their children and preach in their churches), but a country that protects the right to practice the religious faith of one’s choice so long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. That is what is at issue here: An over reach by the Church. If you are for separation of Church and State you should be for that.

        • vj

          “An over reach by the Church”

          Exactly! To the extent that Church leadership should be ‘judging’ anybody, it is supposed to be limited ONLY to those who are IN the(ir) church – at least, that what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:12… So, at most, the Catholic leadership is entitled to decide whether or not gays can be members and/or get married in Catholic churches, but they have NO Biblical justification for interfering in the lives of non-Catholics.

      • Allie

        We have racists in America too, and they use almost exactly the same language. I thought I smelled something bad.

        If you want to find justification for your ugliness in Christianity, you can. But Christ the judge will not justify you, when push comes to shove.

  • Dan Kuch

    First of all…MEN not GOD wrote the Bible. It is a compilation of writings and oral tradition from early in Judaism (Old Testament) through what we call the New Testament. What made the cut so to speak to be included in what we today consider to be the Bible was done by the Catholic Church somewhere , I think, in and around the 10th century. They chose writings from a huge library of so-called religious writings such as letters from some of the Apostles . The church chose those which supported their position on many things such as male dominance over women and other such ‘social’ realities. As far as god changing his divine mind goes …well even Jesus said, quoting from the Jewish Scriptures “you have heard it said – An eye for an eye but I say to you do good to those who hate you…etc. Sounds to me like god changed his mind somewhere along the way. Also, if you believe everything is unchangeable as i is stated in the Bible then why are you not stoning anyone who touches the bed of a menstruating woman as is called for very specifically in the bible. So many people say that they read and live by the bible. That is a lie because if they did we would be living no better than the Old Testament. Read it and see what it calls for and stop saying, lying (which is also condemned in the bible) you believe in and live by the word of god as expressed in the bible. You select what YOU not god want to believe and live by. Finally, how did divorce get so approved by all you bible toting people along with pork, the Sabbath on

    Sunday from Saturday (another of god’s changed mind)?

  • Christy

    Mike, bonus points for bravery and execution.

    On the flip side, I’ve been going out of my way when I see female clergy to thank them for being and for blazing that trail. And reminding them of how women and girls they don’t even know look up to who they are and what they are doing.

    • Elizabeth

      The female clergy and laity in the Congregation of St. Saviour at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are amazing. When the Convention insisted in 1997 that the “ordination, licensing, and deployment of women are mandatory,” I knew I’d be an Episcopalian for the rest of my life.

  • Cindy

    I agree with most of what you said. You did, however, make one error. Most priests do not take a vow of poverty; that is a myth. Some orders do, but archdiocesan priests in the United States do not. I had that discussion with my husband’s cousin, who is a priest, and that is how I found that out. Also, he studied in Rome, but during that time, his father was very ill, and he had to fly back and forth a lot, so he was sometimes upgraded to first class. He didn’t pay for that grade of ticket, even though he was sitting there. Don’t make assumptions. Other than that, I agree with your arguments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lynne.otter.berry Lynne Berry via Facebook

    I think this kind of dialogue should be a national movment. What if EVERY time a bigot showed his face, someone like Mike politely aslked them to justify themselves???

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

      Yeah, Mike. Can you let us know your schedule?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.kuchars Dan Kuchars via Facebook

    First of all…MEN not GOD wrote the Bible. It is a compilation of writings and oral tradition from early in Judaism (Old Testament) through what we call the New Testament. What made the cut, so to speak, to be included in what we today consider to be the Bible was done by the Catholic Church somewhere , I think, in and around the 10th century. They chose writings from a huge library of so-called religious writings such as letters from some of the Apostles . The church chose those which supported their position on many things such as male dominance over women and other such ‘social’ realities. As far as god changing his divine mind goes …well even Jesus said, quoting from the Jewish Scriptures “you have heard it said – An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say to you do good to those who hate you…etc. Sounds to me like god changed his mind somewhere along the way. Also, if you believe everything is unchangeable as it is stated in the Bible then why are you not stoning anyone who touches the bed of a menstruating woman as is called for very specifically in the bible? So many people say that they read and live by the bible. That is a lie because if they did we would be living no better than the Old Testament. Read it and see what it calls for and stop saying, lying (which is also condemned in the bible) that you believe in and live by the word of god as expressed in the bible. You select what YOU, not god, want to believe and live by. Finally, a few more examples of god ‘possibly’ changing – how did divorce which is condemned in the bible get so approved by all you bible toting people; your eating pork which is unclean, the Sabbath on Sunday from Saturday, and MUCH more. Wake up. The bible reflects various cultures, customs, and other realities of those days which HAVE CHANGED over the years, and ARE another of man’s/god’s changed mind.

  • dan(Chicago)

    Odd that the whole one man to one woman thing didn’t make it to the top ten commandments. It would have fit nicely right after the prohibition of taking fellow human beings as slaves(oops!). That graven images made the list and slavery did not tells me that the book was written by men, men who may have done their best to understand the world they saw during their time, but nevertheless wrote only according to what they knew, and according to their own biases.

    • Diana A.

      This exactly!

    • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

      Slavery = theft of freedom / labor so that’s covered under “thou shalt not steal”. The Israelites had indentured servants, not slaves in the sense of human beings bought & sold & traded as property. In fact, if an indentured household servant wanted to become a permanent servant to a family, they had to request it and go through a public ceremony confirming this was their desire; they were then ni effect part of the household’s extended family, not a fiscal asset.

      (How well the Israelites followed these points is up for contention, of course, but slavery in the sense that we as Americans understand it was not built into their culture.)

      There’s also the fact that the Decalogue opens with God reminding the Israelites who brought them out of slavery, so it’s pretty implicit that slavery is not one of His favorite things…

      • dan(Chicago)

        I think you are inadvertantly arguing my point — that the Bible was written in the context of a specific culture at a specific time, with all its strenghts, flaws, and biases.

        I am not arguing that God approves of slavery(actually I am an agnostic), I am arguing that as Moses brought down the commandments to a group just freed from bondage, it would have been a peachy time to bring it up in a very direct way, unless it was only meant to speak to that culture at that time.

        • Diana A.

          I think you’re right.

        • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

          The Bible is pretty explicit that the Decalogue is a covenant (i.e., contract) between God and the children of Israel, that it is between those two parties & no one else. While there’s nothing wrong with Gentiles following the Decalogue, there is no obligation for them to do so. There is certainly no obligation for Gentiles to follow OT law, which pretty much renders all contemporary theological arguments against accepting homosexuals and transgendered people as brothers and/or sisters in Christ moot.

          Rabbi Hillel famously boiled the Torah down to “Love God, love your neighbor” which a century later Christ quoted. Hillel was from the humanist school of rabbinical thot, putting more emphasis on justice (i.e., treating others fairly) than the law (i.e., following a strict code).

          Since John 3:16-17 says God loves the world so much He sent his own son to save it not condemn it, it’s pretty clear the best way we can show love to God is by showing love to all His children and not condemning them, either.

          No kind and loving parent wants anything from their children other than their children love one another and get along peacefully. There’s nothing else we need to do to make God happy & pleased with us, yet we continue bashing the crap outta one another thinking that He will somehow think better of us for harming harmed His other children.

          • dan(Chicago)

            Amen to that, from an agnostic.

  • Ael

    I am gay but it really makes me feel ashamed to identify myself as such when there are people out there who think they always have to get everybody’s attention. Why do gays always have to be attention-grabbers: drag queens, scorned hags, etc? If we are normal people like we say we are, then let us exude greater civility. Not gay pride. What’s to be proud of in that? We do not need to prove ourselves to anyone or do we? Let’s just get on with our lives! And marriage? Why bother? These days, you see, nobody really wants to get married except for us gay people. I think that’s just ironic. Being gay defines our sexuality but do we have to “gay” everything: gay movie, gay marriage, gay clothes, gay this, gay that. I am gay but that’s not all I am. Can’t we all get beyond that? It is also because of people like you who are making it hard for the rest of us to live and be accepted as normal people. We are not a special subspecies of humanity. We are just as homo as everybody else: homo sapiens!

    • Scott

      There are so many ways to respond to this, but I don’t have the time to write a novel.

      I’m trying to figure out whether this is a troll, or a particularly severe case of self-loathing, internalized homophobia.

      Either way, I pity you.

      • dan(Chicago)

        Ael is either a troll or a gay man who has never met any other gay men who are going about their lives, dressing for work in business casual, working overtime trying to get that promotion.

        Or maybe he is just too young to have experienced trying to do all this while people whisper and wonder about your sexuality, since you don’t show up at the office party with a gal on your arm, or he has never been called a fag and pushed even while he was trying to mimic the other guys and be one of they boys.

    • DR

      This is so sad to read. People are simply being themselves, there’s nothing wrong with “being gay” in the ways that you’ve described. What are you defining as “normal”? It may not = “you”. Right?

    • Allie

      Are you really a gay person? Because this sounds remarkably fake to me.

    • pete z

      “gay marriage” you troll, means “marriage FOR gays” rent a clue. marriage for gays is plain old marriage.

      “nobody wants to get married….” since 1970 there have always been over 2 million marriages a year. less people get married but ALOT of people get married.

      the reason gays have to have “gay” movies is that it is GOD DAMNED NICE to see a character in a movie that reflects YOUR LIFE. gay clothes? wtf are you talking about? TROLL.

      “people like you..” no! people like that BISHOP make it hard for gays. and people like the guy who goes to gay pride parade in just a sock.

      • Elizabeth

        Hi pete z. The vehemence of this response made me smile. We should use WAY more all-caps.

    • Lymis

      “Not gay pride. What’s to be proud of in that?”

      Quite a lot, actually.

      But you’re completely misguided in the point you think you are making here. You’re assuming that “pride” in this sense is the opposite of humility, when in fact the sense in which it is used is as the opposite of shame.

      No, being gay doesn’t make any of us inherently better than anyone else, and there is nothing to be smug or arrogant about with regards the simple fact that our orientation turned out to be one way and not one of the many other possibilities.

      But it is nothing to be ashamed of, either. And that’s the point of Pride. Not letting other people tell us we are less than, not being willing to quietly accept second-class (or worse) status. Not agreeing with people who tell us that God can’t love us, or that they are speaking for God when they can’t love us. That it is right and proper for us to hide our own truth, our own relationships, our own lives, for the mere convenience of people who find who they imagine us to be to be distasteful.

      “Why do gays always have to be attention-grabbers: drag queens, scorned hags, etc?” They don’t. We aren’t. But if it takes someone on the margins to be willing to stand up and say that they won’t take it anymore, someone who has been deeply wounded to say that they don’t deserve to be hurt at all, or someone who can’t pass for straight and successfully hide in shame to be the ones who stand up and say what’s true for themselves and all of us, don’t blame them. Blame the rest of us, those who can pass and use that fact to hide in shame.

      There is nothing wrong with being a drag queen, or an effeminate man, or a butch lesbian, or any other form of “not a perfect fit with the straight gender-role stereotype” – I note you only include men, which I find telling. But if they are the ones willing to stand up and fight for themselves and others, complaining that they aren’t doing it according to your own standards is ridiculous. If you don’t like the way they do it, do it yourself the way you feel is the right way.

      I agree we’re not some special subspecies of humanity. But we aren’t some species of subhumans, either, and until we are seen as equal humans, yeah, we have to kick up a fuss about it.

      • Jill

        Pride is not the opposite of humility.

        Pride is the opposite of shame.

        How simple yet how profound.

        • KarenAtFOH

          When I discovered this in my abuse recovery process, it rocked my world. Thank you Lymis, for saying it here.

      • Drew

        You’ve nailed it again, Lymis. You rock.

  • David S

    I’ve had a particularly frustrating week of being under attack as an unrepentant sinner. So I’m sorry if I’m extra cranky here. I read the comments here (like those from Hildegunn) and they echo real life conversations I’ve been having.

    I am flabbergasted that people who so willingly admit their desire to oppress gay people are surprised when the oppressed speak up! And when they get past the shock that we’re not just sitting by and allowing them to kick me in the crotch, they then demand that I ask them nicely to stop.

    And truth be told, I’m not even mean when I object! Simply stating the real harm that these people are doing to gay people makes them go apoplectic! I don’t understand how these people have warped their sense of right and wrong so terribly that they can’t even have empathy for the harm and hurt they admit they causing (even if they think God calls them to cause that harm).

    Sorry for the rant. It’s been a tough week.

    • David S

      Holy typos and grammatical errors Batman. Please forgive those too.

      • Jill

        Thanks David S for being willing to share your struggle here. It says you’re willing to be open, to let people in.

        My struggles are of a different variety, and I admit– I can become enwrapped inside them at the expense of either sharing my burden with those who care for me and want to be helpful, or downright ignoring others’ burdens that I could help to shoulder.

        But like so many others here, I get so irate about this issue although I am not at all courageous like Mike. I am silently soaking in my rage. I want to do and say all kinds of unhelpful and possible felonious things that I shut up and shut off.

        Part of my journey to resolve this kind of thing is to stay connected to those who 1) understand, 2) relate in a meaningful way, and 3) will add their voice of comfort and appreciation so that none of us get derailed by this oppressive bigotry. So don’t be sorry for staying open. It helps more than you know.

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

      that was no rant. it was … very well said.

      • David S

        Thanks John. Really, thanks so much for creating this space.

    • DR

      David, you get to rant as much as you want to. I hate that you go through this. I’m so glad you’re here.

    • Christy

      I agree; it is confounding. I have to presume the ego is so fragile that any means of defense is employed, reason be damned. The entire “you’re being too harsh telling me how my actions are hurtful to you” is just stunning.

  • DR

    Dear letter writer,

    Thank you for the time you took to write this and providing an example of courage in action. It’s so odd to me to see some actually suggest this was inappropriate on your part, as though you being oppressed, discriminated against and abused in the name of God is somehow your fault and your responsibility to fix.

    In my ideal world, you’d never have to have this conversation. Those of us who are Christian, who’ve paid our monthly tithes and continue to support the Catholic church (and all of the other Christian churches) should be having this conversation for you. Because it’s our responsibility we’ve allowed this to continue – to get so deeply established in the collective framework of our beliefs that a Priest would actually demonstrate contempt when you told him your story. And that those of us even supportive of your rights would suggest that you somehow have some kind of obligation to teach a priest on matters of good and evil.

    This must be so exhausting and demoralizing as gay men and women. I can’t imagine you having to deal with this everyday. I’m sorry that you do, I know apologies mean nothing but I’ll offer it anyway. This should never be anything you have to deal with in the first place, the suggestion that you are burdened with changing this – that because you were somehow “uncivil”, you didn’t help – is one of the stupidest, most privileged comments I’ve ever seen. The laziness within the Christian culture to educate ourselves is profound. Thank you for even trying.

    • mike moore

      No need for you to offer any apology, you are one of the good guys. Thank you for that.

    • Matt

      Yes, no need to apologize! It can get exhausting, but that’s why we encourage each other to step back, take breaks, and surround ourselves with affirming people–our partners, friends, and family (of all kinds).

  • mike moore

    hi everyone, I wrote the letter above and would like to address some recurring themes here in the comments’ section.

    First, to the people who have directed compliments my way and provided such awesome cheerleading, a huge “thank you.” It feels good.

    However, I have a secret for you: I wish I was as brave as some of you suggest, but in all candor, I just really really hate bullies. I hate bullies of every ilk. I hate bullies enough to ask myself, “does going after bullies the way I do make me a bully?” Perhaps.

    And I must also confess, I enjoy watching the uncertainty that enters a bully’s eyes when they are boldly told, “don’t think you can harm others without consequences. Now stop it or risk those consequences.”

    The experience can also be educational. The priest/bishop I encountered showed no sign of uncertainty. He was unused-to and angered at being challenged. His sense of righteousness easily matched my own. I have now confirmed, having stared into his eyes, that I have a formidable enemy.

    Nonetheless, I’d encourage everyone to go for it. A little revolution, every now and then, is a good thing.

    Regarding those who would promote the “honey catches more flies than vinegar” approach to political and social activism, I believe history proves this to be an indisputably incorrect assessment of how power has typically been, and is even now, transferred from oppressor to the oppressed.

    1776 was a violent revolution. Blood still soaks the battle fields of this country’s horrific Civil War. Women’s right to vote was not handed to them over afternoon tea and polite conversation. Women demonstrated. Women were jailed. Women died. Gays had to violently riot to end police round-ups and arrests, and still it took until 2003 – 2003!! – for the US Supreme Court to declare that I have the legal right, in all 50 states, to sleep with my husband.

    The non-violent civil rights movement of the 20th c. – peacefully, eloquently, and graciously embodied by a suited-up and clean-cut MLK, Jr. – was not met with an invitation to move to the front of the bus.

    Those activists, those marchers, those children, were met by hostile police, hostile politicians, hostile white churches, and hostile whites. They were met by dogs, fire hoses, fire bombings, incarceration, and assassination. Medgar Evans wasn’t even given the “courtesy” of facing his executioners … he was shot in the back.

    And so it goes.

    Regarding those who state “this was neither the time nor the place,” I simply disagree, for the reasons stated in the paragraph that leads my actual post, and I refer you to that.

    Regarding who does or does not take a vow of poverty, I’ve learned something new. Always a good thing, thank you.

    Regarding tones of sanctimony, self-righteousness, and snark … I’ll concede and own those labels. I can be really annoying. I can be snarky. Ask those priests. Ask my parents. Ask my husband of 26 years (who better damn well lie and say to you that I’m lovely person 24-7, 365 a year :-) Heck, ask Mr. Shore.

    I’m doubt I’ll ever be akin to Ghandi, or MLK, or Jesus … and, for good or bad, I’m OK with that. For now, I just continue to work on being a better version of me.

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

      loser.

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

        (God, I hope I’m not the only person in the world who thinks I’m funny.)

        • Elizabeth

          You’re not.

        • Christy

          I laughed. And I’m a tough crowd.

        • Jill

          Mike– you so speak my language time and again. You won me over with your snark. Ignore the etiquette brigade and follow your convictions and intuition. Because it’s brilliant.

          John– you’re marginally witty, but I’m funnier. ;) ;) ;)

          • mike moore

            ah Jill, you had me at the word “brilliant” xoxoxo, mike

          • Jill

            I was itching to start a rumble, but no one bit. *egg on my face*

            John, you know you’ll always be funnier than me. It’s a burden I have to bear.

      • mike moore

        blogger

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

          blog reader.

          • mike moore

            I don’t read blogs, I only comment on them. That way, no pesky facts get in the way.

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

            FOX News employee.

          • Diana A.

            Them’s fightin’ words!

          • mike moore

            ROTFLMFAO … you totally win the name-calling contest. xo. I’m being sent back down to the Minor Leagues.

          • DR

            that’s cold.

  • Susan in NY

    Regarding the whole vow of poverty thing – If parish priests don’t t take a vow of poverty, that should not prevent them from living their lives as an example of how Jesus might live. I don’t think Jesus would accept an upgrade to first class. I think he would suggest that the first class upgrade be given to someone on the plane who he knows could really use the first class experience.

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

      THANK YOU!!

  • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

    Kudos, Mike, for just being your true and honest self. The world needs to hear it. :) *hug*

  • http://rlehman0000.wordpress.com/ Rebecca

    A good part of this morning I spent reading thoughts of H. Richard Niebuhr on the responsibility of the Church. This is what the Church needs to learn about its responsibility to the LGBQT community, as well as all those ‘outside the gate’,

    “Whatever is, is good in the world of this God-in-Christ. It may be perverted, sinful, broken; but it is not bad, for God-in-Christ has made it and maintains it. Such universal responsibility is incompatible with a spiritualism that limits the Church’s concern to immaterial values, with a moralism that does not understand the value of the sinner and the sinful nation, with an individualism that makes mankind as a whole and its societies of less concern to God than single persons, and with any of those particularistic and polytheistic theories of value and responsibility which substitute for God-in-Christ some other deity as the source of valuable being. Moreover, since it is Christ-in-God to whom account must be rendered the content of responsibility is always mercy. The Church is not responsible for the judgment or destruction of any beings in the world of God, but for the conservation, reformation, redemption and transfiguration of whatever creatures its action touches.”

    NOT responsible for the judgement or destruction….Niebuhr is heavy duty stuff. So it was very, very nice to read this and have a really nice laugh!

  • Tom

    Perhaps this is a small observation in the midst of a huge issue, but I would take issue with the priest with the black glasses stating it was an inappropriate time and place to have this conversation. If Catholic priests (or any other clergy) are going to don the garb of their profession, it seems he (or she in the case of those protestants who are going to hell for ordaining women – gasp!) needs to be willing to act in a priestly manner regardless of the situation. If you don’t want to be called upon to speak for the church at any moment, don’t wear the uniform.

    • Tom

      And while I’m at it: I haven’t replied here, but I have so enjoyed your blog, John, and it has helped me keep faith in Jesus — the Jesus who, when someone draws a line in the sand between themselves and the scary “other”, stands on the other side of the line with those “others”. Thank you.

  • Louis (Rockybalboa211)

    Not all priests take a “Vow of Poverty” though. The ones that do usually though get the bill of their travels paid through the individual’s diocese.

  • Canis

    I am not catholic.

    I do not support gay marriage.

    Now that the hand grenade has been thrown, here is why.

    Culturally, we have defined marriage as a religious rite of passage, a changing from one state to the next. If you accept the concept that there is a wall separating church from state, then logically the state has no right in involving itself in marriage.

    The solution is not gay marriage laws but eliminating marriage as a state supported function. Create a universal state recognized civil union, all joining as registered as such. If you want to get married in a church do so, but only in a church that recognizes and supports you.

    Stop trying to force religious organizations to accept you, they won’t, not this way.

    By the way, the Bishop was correct, it was not the time nor the place for you to publicly confront him. Your snide attitude did nothing to advance your agenda.

    • mike moore

      @Camis. Learn to read, dummy.

      Every comment you make has been addressed in my two lengthy posts here, save one: for as long as marriage is a civil institution, denying marriage to same sex partners, who would otherwise be allowed to marry, is discrimination.

      • Canis

        Learn to spell, dim bulb. It is Canis.

        I only addressed the basic letter. I worked my way thru four or five comments and abandoned the effort. One can only deal with so much gross stupidity, purple prose and bad grammar.

        As long as you continue to fight the church over this you are struggling with people over their very core values.

        Work smarter, not harder, fool.

        Refocus your attention on getting equal legal rights, not religious rights. Many of the churches are never going to change and by demanding marriage you are insuring that they fight you all the harder.

        By going the universal civil union route you take the church out of the equation.

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

          But wait just a second here Canis… the religious are busy legislating against my very ability to do just that (to “go the universal civil union route”). I live in North Carolina. Here is the exact language from Amendment One which recently passsed:

          “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

          The amendment, which is very short, goes on to say that private contracts are not prohibited. But that doesn’t help much, since the legal language says that my relationship with another woman cannot be recognized as a domestic legal union.

          For what it’s worth, I totally agree with your point about separating the “church marriage” from the “civil union.” I think the commingling of government-recognized and church-recognized unions is problematic and wrong. But if you can’t see that our hands are being legally tied BY BUSY RELIGIOUS ADVOCATES then you are blind. The term “marriage,” because of this commingling, in this society does mean both things at once.

          If the two things were truly separated (as again I agree they should be), then, of course, as we do today already, we would have churches that do allow same-gender marriages, and those that don’t. But those that don’t would be far less powerful. I can’t help but wonder what they are afraid of?

          • Canis

            Mindy;

            First, don’t confuse religions with religious bigots or with people who use religion to further their personal agenda.

            Second, the founders intended for each of the various states to be an experiment in governance. They fully expected people to vote with their feet if the state governments became unacceptable.

            Third, while I completely understand that in this economy and under this failing administration it is difficult to accept the idea that you might be required to move in order to achieve your personal happiness, that may be a reality.

            Fourth, if you desire to stay living among the Tar Heels and desire to establish a legal civil union, then attack the problem from the angle. Don’t fight the “marriage” portion of the proposed amendment, fight the “only legal recognized civil union portion.” The vast majority of people really don’t care who “inserts tab a into slot a” as long as you don’t do it in public and scare the horses. (If you are not a legal scholar NYC had a public display of affection ordinance based upon the premise that it scared the horses).

            Work with moderate religious groups and find the middle ground. Redefine marriage as a union between a single man and a single woman sanctified by the church. All others are civil unions.

            BTW, if you get this to work you better be willing to accept polyamory.

          • Diana A.

            Booker T. and W.E.B.

            Booker T. and W.E.B.

            By Dudley Randall 1914–2000 Dudley Randall

            “It seems to me,” said Booker T.,

            “It shows a mighty lot of cheek

            To study chemistry and Greek

            When Mister Charlie needs a hand

            To hoe the cotton on his land,

            And when Miss Ann looks for a cook,

            Why stick your nose inside a book?”

            “I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,

            “If I should have the drive to seek

            Knowledge of chemistry or Greek,

            I’ll do it. Charles and Miss can look

            Another place for hand or cook.

            Some men rejoice in skill of hand,

            And some in cultivating land,

            But there are others who maintain

            The right to cultivate the brain.”

            “It seems to me,” said Booker T.,

            “That all you folks have missed the boat

            Who shout about the right to vote,

            And spend vain days and sleepless nights

            In uproar over civil rights.

            Just keep your mouths shut, do not grouse,

            But work, and save, and buy a house.”

            “I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,

            “For what can property avail

            If dignity and justice fail.

            Unless you help to make the laws,

            They’ll steal your house with trumped-up clause.

            A rope’s as tight, a fire as hot,

            No matter how much cash you’ve got.

            Speak soft, and try your little plan,

            But as for me, I’ll be a man.”

            “It seems to me,” said Booker T.—

            “I don’t agree,”

            Said W.E.B.

            Dudley Randall, “Booker T. and W.E.B.” (1969). Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Dudley Randall.

            http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/177161

          • Diana A.

            BTW: Some of us don’t have a problem with polyamory.

          • Allie

            Not going to address the all kinds of wrong in this post, just the error about the quote. “Legal scholars” would not find any such thing because “don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses” was famously said by Beatrice Campbell, an actress better known as Mrs. Patrick Campbell, in 1910. I hadn’t heard before that this quote had developed its own moronic urban legend.

          • Canis

            Mindy,

            My OCS roommate is a professor of law now.

            We joked about that phrase for years. Like you I always thought it to be a farce.

            He now has an original copy of the 1824 NYC Morals Code. In it is to be found the law .

            Well, live and learn. Or not your choice.

          • Allie

            Or you can make up lies with no way to check them. Your choice. The quote, however, can be checked.

            There is not a law that gay people shouldn’t have sex in the street for the sake of the horses. There IS a quote by a famous actress. One proven lie in the middle of so many outrageous and doubtful statements about your history makes me wonder.

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

            As I said, I happen agree with you about marriage/civil unions. And for what it’s worth, I worked against Amendment One with no misgivings, but would have had some internal pause about working toward an amendment to legally allow gay marriage. I would have certainly done it though, since it’s the playing field we are working in. You are suggesting we must change the playing field, and perhaps you are right. But I want to say back to you: Seriously? Why is the burden on me to change all this?

            I find your tone offensive. I know that tone in online communication can be so misleading, so I’ll own my offense and say that perhaps I’m offended because it’s the second time in as many weeks that someone has suggested I move in order to be happy. (What I really want to say back to that is F you!)

            I don’t whine about living in NC. I quite like it here, and I find the area we live in to be safe and open. I have simply used what I know in some detail about the recent legislation (and battle) to make my point. The fact is that most states in the US ban gay marriage, and almost 20 ban any kind of civil union for same-gender couples … so by following your advice (rude as it is) I’m limited to choosing less than half of the US for my home? Are you kidding me???

            I know you aren’t really telling me what I must do. You are trying to make a point to all of us who are being oppressed for our sexuality where you think we are misdirecting our energy.

            Let me say this to you in return. From your “you” language I’m assuming you don’t identify with this particular oppression. I’m also assuming you count yourself among what you call “the vast majority” who don’t care about people’s choice in love. If I am right, then know this: we need your voice. We need straight allies to speak up to help the tide turn.

            I don’t really know what to say in response to your comment about polyamory. It reeks of the slippery slope argument I hear made (which incenses me because it reminds me of having been compared to drug addicts, murderers, adulterers), but the reality is you are likely right. And so what? It’s not what I choose for my life, but it’s not really my business if others do. As long as they don’t invite me in!! (It happens more often than you might think to a female couple — I am still learning how to graciously say no without offense.) Whatever a love relationship looks like, the key to making it healthy is not legally defining who is in it, but rather emotional maturity, good will and communication skills.

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

            argh… and as careful as I try to be with my words and actions to not behave in ways that others have towards me… my language in that last paragraph makes me go “ouch.” By default it sounds like I just compared polyamorists to addicts, murderers, etc. That was not my intent!! It just gets my back up when I hear people say, as my former pastor did to me, basically “watch out, if we let the gays in, then we’re heading down that slippery slope towards an immoral orgy.”

            sigh…

          • Allie

            Yeah, I don’t think that came out the way you meant it to, but I think your point is clear.

            Re: polyamory. I think it’s worth pointing out that polyamory was perfectly acceptable to the writers of the Bible, yet is banned in America today. So the idea that allowing one thing opposed by the Bible to become legal (ignoring for the purposes of this discussion whether a consensual gay marriage is really opposed by the Bible) will open the door to madness is really silly. Americans figured out ON THEIR OWN and without the help of the Bible that they didn’t like the idea of multiple marriage. There’s no reason that allowing gay marriage would change that. If the writer of the post can figure out that there’s a difference between gay marriage and polyamory, which he clearly can since he uses two different words for them, why should all the rest of us suddenly become slack-jawed drooling zombies when asked to distinguish between the two?

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

            Thanks Allie, and yeah, the contradiction is maddening.

            Help me with this tho — there are folks who want polyamory. I think they are small in number but they exist. (See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2012/02/23/polyamorous-she-loves-and-lives-with-a-man-and-a-woman/)

            So how do I insist on my rights but deny them theirs?

          • Canis

            Mindy,

            By profession I am a teacher and do tend to lecture. The tone is not personal just the result of a lifetime of military service and being on the podium. If it offends my regrets.

            I completely understand the reluctance to leave a location. I no longer teach in California because I refuse to toe the “politically correct” party line. I teach history, just the facts, like them or not. During my last year before retirement I was called before a “People’s Tribunal” because I pointed out the more soldiers of color fought under arms for the Confederacy than were even in uniform for the Federals. I was berated for the truth. So I walked the walk and voted with my feet.

            I can and do support civil unions but I cannot in good faith work to change the position of the church(s) on marriage.

            The polyamory comment was honest, I grew up Jichalla Apache, the dine’ are not patrilineal monogamous. Multiple congruent spouses are the norm. Not in the same bed that is a completely different issue. Which is why we always introduce ourselves with our clan ties. Of the White Mountain and the Snake River people’s. Avoids incest issues. But that is an aside.

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

            Ok, thanks for that — both the lecture tendency and the polyamory context. We are a wounded and sensitive bunch (well, speaking for myself, I am those things, anyways!).

            I respect the integrity in your actions as you retired. Me, besides being stubborn, and liking where I live, I choose to stay here and vote where it may matter.

            Glad to hear you are working to support civil unions. I honor that, as well as the efforts of all those who are fighting for their right to marry.

        • mike moore

          @Canis, sory, me so stoopid, finger hit wrong key and then me thinked that cince you say you red basic letter … that you did, indeed, read the basic letter.

          Obviously, that was not the case.

          It was a bad assumption on my part to think you would have also read my secondary post which was, when you posted your first comment, all of 10 posts down from your own.

          In my letter and a long subsequent comment, I address every issue you raise, except the matter of universal civil union. I believe that is a losing battle and would, at this time, be a colossal waste of time and money.

          You may not agree, and that’s cool. But I feel we need to work smarter, not harder, fool.

          As for the “snide” attitude, I’ll own that. I get very touchy when the Catholic church and its leadership compare me (without a hint of shame or irony on their part) to pedophiles and say my little family will cause the downfall of western civilization.

          If this doesn’t clear things up for you, then reading comprehension is your problem, not my letters.

          • mike moore

            PS – if you’re going to be as insulting as I, at least use your real name.

          • Canis

            Mike;

            Primus, that is my real name, or rather the Latin version of my birth name. I am a Jichalla Apache and a Celt. Dine has no written alphabet, so I am stuck with roman. My choices are either Scotty Dog or Canis Scot.

            Secundus, apologies for the “fool” comment, after a lifetime in military service I still make statements using complete phrases. My wife has broken me of the habit of using Anglo-Saxon adjectives, barely.

            Now to business, I only directed my posting to changing the paradigm vis-a-vis marriage/universal union. The lead in is to show why I cannot support changing marriage. Your posts (which I just read) attacks the issue head on. It is well written and thoughtful but ultimately self defeating.

            Sun Tzu teaches that where the enemy is strong retreat, where they are weak attack. You choose to attack the religion right at the bulwark of their strength. Turn their flank and force the state out of its dug in position into one that strikes a middle ground. The Dalai Lama calls this finding a middle way.

            Being a Celt and an Apache I am on the outside of the religion and state fight. Looking in I what I see churns my stomach. Neither side can see just exactly how FUBARed they are. You cannot force the churches to accept you as you are but you insist that they must. The church teaches love and acceptance but cannot accept any number of cultural changes. Find the middle way, that is exactly what Jefferson intended in his Virginia laws and what Monroe inculcated into the Constitution.

            Find a middle way.

          • Diana A.

            Your argument would seem to be that it is a waste of time to confront religious officials and that we should concentrate our energy on changing the state. If I have misunderstood your position, please correct me.

            The problem is that church and state are not as separate as we’d like to believe that they are. The church (especially the Catholic church) contributes a lot of money to the political process so that they can force their religious views on those who do not share them. In the meantime, the state rewards the church for contributing money to the political process by granting the church a tax-free status and going along with the agenda of those who contribute the most. Thus, both institutions need to be confronted by those affected by their policies, so that both may change.

          • Canis

            Diana;

            My point is to follow a different road.

            You cannot change the religious believes of anyone. Those things learned at the mothers knees stay with you until death. Sad but true fact, I once spent ten minutes performing field surgery on a “devout secularist”, who spent the entire time between my starting and his dying reciting the “Hail Mary” of his childhood. It gave him peace in a very violent place.

            It really doesn’t matter if the church and state are not as distinct as you would like. You have far too many examples of cultures where marriage belongs to the church and civil unions belong to the state. These cultures function well and the Church supports that Seperation.

            As the situation stands you are playing into their strengths and away from yours.

            Change the game and win.

          • Diana A.

            If you say so.

          • mike moore

            I would say we did the change the game and are winning because of it. We used to be rounded-up and arrested. Social pariahs.

            Then we rioted. We got in people’s faces. We said, loudly, “we reject your values and will no longer apologize for the very nature of our beings.” We began to hold hands in public. We began to kiss in public. We began to marry, legally … something I would never have thought I’d see, in my lifetime.

            And last night, we got an Olympic closing ceremony that was about as gay as one can get.

            We’re winning this, on our terms.

          • mike moore

            You have my empathy. As a guy with five names on his birth certificate (every side of my parents’ families wanted their branch represented,) I understand getting stuck with a name that causes difficulties (at least when filling out legal forms.)

            As you say, to business:

            We have a fundamental political disagreement. My belief is stated in my secondary post: the middle way will not win this conflict.

            Our oppressors (an overly dramatic but nonetheless accurate term) have shown that reasonable arguments will be met with distortions and lies. This was true in 1776, in the Civil War, in Women’s Suffrage, and in mid/late 20th c. Civil Rights movements for race, women’s rights, and gay rights. As a military man, you must be more knowledgable than I in that history shows the oppressor rarely relinquishes part of his/its power-base without a fight.

            I do feel you still misunderstand my words.

            I am in no way looking for any church’s acceptance or approval. My actions are aimed at any and all who would deny me civil liberties. In this case, I took to opportunity to confront one enemy, the Catholic Church. I have also gone face-to-face with a couple of Senators, two Presidents, a Congressman, and an Attorney General (though I am loath think of Ashcroft as a real AG … what an idiot.)

            I’m an equal opportunity kind of guy. If someone is an anti-gay dick and standing near me, they are gonna get an earful from me.

          • Jill

            mike is it wrong for me to be platonically crushing on you ?

          • mike moore

            no babe, our love is bigger than Plato’s little labels.

          • Jill

            (hand on heart) You rock this little world o’ mine.

            I’m gonna stop now….

          • Canis

            Michael,

            Do you see the dichotomy of your argument?

            You want your civil liberties but you want the church to abandon their position.

            Using your examples.

            In 1775, the Crown was afforded the opportunity of granting 13 seats into the House of Commons. These seats would have represented the colonies. With these representative on the floor the bills could have been argued and still approved BUT the cry of “No taxation without representation” would not have given impetus to the rebellion. Remember at no time did the forces of rebellion ever exceed 30% of the population.

            The Abolitionist rejected a proposed “Brazilian” plan that would have eliminated the slave trade across state lines, eliminated birth right slavery and granted 1 day in seven for a slave to work for himself. Depending on whose numbers you follow it would have ended slavery in less than ten years. Eight of the Confederate states had already endorsed the plan.

            Women right to vote was not gained by the marchers but by a gradual grass roots level action. The straw that broke the federal back was the Great War. Women were needed to run major war industries, this destroyed the argument of the major parties that defined women as in the home only and men in the workplace. By 1920 it was a done deal.

            The civil rights movement only became successful after the “mainstream” American population became outraged by the bombing deaths of the four little girls and the murder of the freedom riders. Prior to those two incidents it was considered a local “negro” problem. The photos on the marches immediately before and after the two incidents. There is a huge shift in the demographics. Was this immediate victory (I know a decade is a long time in relation to a human life, but short historically) worth those seven lives?

            You can work together and achieve success or you can fight each other.

            Your choice.

          • mike moore

            Except to agree that revolutions are almost always set off by a minority, I disagree with your perspective/analysis on every instance you cite.

            10 years until you’re free? Why on earth should anyone accept such a ludicrous proposal? Do I really need to ask you, of Apache descent, about how well government has kept it’s promises? If I’m a slave, I should be free TODAY. And if takes killing off every last person who would enslave or keep me enslaved, so be it. (Jesus and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything.)

            It took 200 years of teenagers fighting and dying in American wars before we gave them the right to vote (and even today … “hey kid, you’re old enough to fight and die, but don’t get near my liquor until you’re 21.”) and yet you honestly believe women, without any activism, would have been handed that right after WWI? Hell, even after WWII, the establishment wanted women to quit their jobs and get back to the kitchen.

            And again, you seem to argue that because non-violent protestors were met with violence, they’re the ones who should back off and “work together?” Seven lives? How many black people were already being killed off by racists every year? You are, in essence, saying, “hey Rosa, get yourself back to the back of the bus, your attitude is not in the spirit of working together.”

            I can’t begin to understand how you get from Point A to Point B.

            I look at the world around me, I look at history, and I look at my own life (privileged wasp 1%-er.) What I see is that the only time those in seats of power are willing to “work together” is when they are dragged, kicking and screaming, to the table.

            Without condescension, I don’t see further conversation on this as productive. We have very different world views.

          • Canis

            Mike,

            It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the historical truth or not, they are reality. Wishful thinking, rewriting history or just outright lying about does not change it, it doesn’t even obscure it to the dedicated historian.

            The power to change things lies not in the action of the minority activist but in the alteration of the perception of the majority. Even Ghandi understood that. He staged his protests where the media could see and report on it. By changing way the British people saw the struggle for freedom, changed the struggle.

            People in power and authority are not drug to the table kicking a screaming. They have to be shown that the struggle to maintain the status quo is no longer profitable.

          • mike moore

            I guess that’s why, historically, the powerful have such a long, rich, tradition of handing over political control and material wealth when inequities are pointed out to them.

            I simply turn your words back on you: “wishful thinking, rewriting history or just outright lying about does not change” history. Activism works, as does confrontation.

          • João Mattos

            Then again, I believe that what he is saying is that the activism should not stop, nor the confrontation. But we shouldn’t be fighting where the enemy is strong; rather, we should change the way people feel about us, in a way that the change, rather than gruesome concession, it becomes a desirable necessity.

            And, as I read, the way to do that is to change not our objective, but the focus of our fight. We can maintain the same goals, but we do not need to repeat their mistakes in believing that there’s no way beyond our own. Changing the way we see a fight, we may change the whole enviroment where it happens.

            Canis, if I got you wrong, please, correct me.

          • mike moore

            @Joao. You might well be correct in regards to others’ comments here.

            Consider this from Washington state: In Yakima, Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson recently sent a letter to Yakima-area pastors calling on them to distribute donation envelopes from Preserve Marriage Washington, the campaign seeking to overturn the state’s recently approved marriage law. Parish priests are instructed to collect the envelopes and mail them directly to the campaign.

            The leaders of the Catholic Church need to know that they cannot act like this with impunity. For this post, I believe in that airport, at that moment, my focus and actions were entirely appropriate.

          • João Mattos

            Mike,

            Well, it seems I got tangled in the debate as well ^,^ It never came to my mind questioning your actions, but, seeing as you brought them here, I’ll do it:

            I’ll probably doing the same thing as you did in a near future. I believe it took you not only courage, but a great deal of righteousness to act as you did. Kudos for you, dude.

            And yet, I understand what Canis means with his words, and as far as it goes, I agree with him.

            He talks about Sun Tzu. I talk about the combat strategy I have learned while praticing Tai Ji Quan. When the oponent is hard, you must be softer than his hardness, and when he is soft, you must be harder than his softness. I won’t say that you should have done differently, but changing the course of your action in a way that allows you to create openings in their walls probably would have more effect than just outrightly confronting them. How would that be? This, I honestly don’t know. It depends on the enviroment and circunstances. But I believe that it can be done.

            And, well, I’m kinda far away from the US, so I’m rooting for you in which regards to this Washington Law. Best of luck ^,^”

          • mike moore

            Joao, it’s a tangled thing. Not easy.

            Canis believes “people in power and authority are not drug to the table kicking a screaming.”

            I’ve been privileged (if you choose to call it that, which I do not, necessarily) to live within and around the rich and powerful my entire life … I never witnessed anyone give it up except when dragged, kicking and screaming, to the negotiating table.

            I believe in shock and awe.

          • Canis

            Mike;

            Speaking as a former Green Beret, shock and awe only work when you are in a superior position.

            You cannot intimidate those in power with underwhelming numbers and inferior organization. Moral arguments only carry authority when both sides agree on them. You are fighting against 200 centuries of ingrained cultural reality. Dispute the facts to your hearts content but face reality, your methods are making very little headway for the efforts you are extending.

            Learn from Sun Tzu, where the enemy is strong, retreat. Where the enemy is weak, attack.

          • mike moore

            Canis, I’m back to believing you have a problem with reading comprehension.

            Everything I need to say to counter you has been said, except this:

            Tell Sun Tzu it’s time for an updated edition. We now live in a world where one kid with a smartphone, in the right place a the right time, can help topple a government. We live in a world where anyone can walk up to Cardinals and Bishops standing in airports and in less than a few minutes tell them they’re bigoted hypocrites.

            We live in a world where one person has always had the ability to change the world around them, a world where one person can, more than ever, effect change by their own simple everyday actions.

            Welcome to the 21st century, Sun Tzu.

          • João Mattos

            Hm.

            Well, I’m guessing, Mike, that absolutely nothing is “so easy as it seems.” And, as far as I’ve read, I understand completely your point, but I’m with Canis here.

            Yet, I don’t think we will get anywhere here, seeing as you set yourself against his point. My honest suggestion is that you read The Art of War, and see the whole strategy thing without the judgement you’re doing while having this conversation.

            By the way, I don’t think this would change your viewpoint :P But, I can’t see any harm in it.

          • Canis

            Sorry, Mike but you era of modern marvels is just a fantasy. I have no problem comprehending you, I just choose reject your interpretation. As the Mythbusters state, I reject your reality and insert mine.

            The young man with a smartphone can only change things if the majority of the people agree with that desire to change. Otherwise he is like the prophet of old preaching in the desert. Railing against injustice and being ignored.

            You cited the letter from Bishop Tyson and sending a message to him that he cannot act with impunity. But in reality he can. He can send the letter. The priests can collect the money. The money will go to fund the repeal. And the state will threaten action. The activists will try to sue. The courts will dither and debate and rule and the appeal will go to SCOTUS. In the end the courts will rule for the church because the law is on their side.

            You are correct we do live in an era where a single person can walk up to a priest, a bishop or an elected official and verbally confront him but that is nothing new. To be exact officialdom at all levels is more isolated than ever. Until Lincoln anyone could walk up to the White House and speak to the President. Until LBJ, you could walk into the Executive Offices and make an appointment. Today you can’t even get onto the White House lawn without an invitation. Each and every Senator and Representative travels in a security convoy and is boarded seperately (unless he is flying Air Force) from the masses. The representatives of Holy Mother Church are no less seperated from you, the trappings of power are less visible but just as powerful.

            As for Sun Tzu, well his teaching have withstood 2000 years of testing and they remain as true today as they were when he wrote them. While we love to think of ourselves as modern men, the basics of life remind us that technology has not changed the nature of people, only the speed with which they live.

            Your confrontation may have made you feel better but it did nothing to change the status quo.

          • mike moore

            Done with you and the fantasy world you live in.

            Me, I’ll continue actually changing the world, one airport at a time.

          • David

            Canis,

            Please leave the overly intellectual ranting to an expert like Demosthenes from Orson Scott Card’s “Ender” series. You’re no Valentine Wiggin. Rather, you’re more like Peter, I think.

          • Canis

            David,

            Orson Scott Card is a competent wordsmith but for a good character to emulate I prefer Woordrow Wilson Smith. Try Heinlein he is the grandmaster.

            But intelligent speech beats the bejesus out of, well you know, hip hop slang. You feel me?

          • João Mattos

            As far as a I have read, even if we don’t agree with everything, your argument construction is amazing.

            Just wanted to say that ^,^

          • Canis

            Spot on Joao.

          • Canis

            Good Luck.

            I will be looking for your name in the police blotters.

    • Allie

      Actually the idea that marriage is primarily a religious function is new-fangled. Throughout the middle ages marriages were held outside the church, and in many European countries, such as France, where my parents were married, the focus is still very much on agreements about property. The state involves itself in marriage because the alternative, ridiculous legal fights any time one half of a couple dies, is something the state would prefer to avoid.

      • Canis

        Your premise is backwards.

        Marriage as a function of the state is new. Remember up until the reformation the church and the state were one and the same.

        It isn’t until then that the two became separate, especially here in the Americas, that the state became involved in marriage.

        Now property settlements are a completely different issue. Marriage contracts go back to well before the greeks but those are not to be confused with the religious function of marriage.

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

          But marriage is in every society, every culture. It is first and foremost neither legal nor religious, but a *social* institution, a *universal* social institution. A social entitlement internationally recognized as a fundamental human right. Marriage and family is how people organize th emselves in society and define themselves – as much for those of any religion and none at all. It is the reality for all types of people, whether religiously or legally recognized or not. Anthrpologically speaking, the social institution was around for ages before governments and churches even existed.

          And maybe getting governments out of the business of using the term “marriage” woudn’t be the worst outcome – as long and everyone was treated equally. (But you do realize that means any couple would be free to describe their relationship as a marriage, and any church would be free to have marriage ceremonies for gay couples – and many would.) But the idea that this would be more feasible to achieve for our American friends seems unlikely.

    • Blake

      I don’t understand, Canis, how the middle ground you propose differs from the path that the pro-gay marriage side is on? We already have distinctions between Civil/Courthouse Marriages and Religious/Church Marriages, and we’re fighting for Civil Marriages. Nobody wants to force a church or religious institution to change their theology (okay, well maybe some people here do, but this is a religious site concerned with denominationally unspecific Christianity and not a political site concerned with gay rights). Us in the gay community don’t want to force people to accommodate us where we’re not welcome. What we would like is for them to look the other way as they already do with the millions of irreligious marriages that already occur in our country.

      • João Mattos

        Kinda late to post this, but whatever…

        I guess he’s suggesting to change our request from “marriage” to another world, which would change the way as the whole fight is seen. Shifting the focus would make us gain strength in a place the ones who opposes us are weaker, and allow us to maintain our rights without hurting the feelings and beliefs that come along the word marriage.

        • Canis

          Exactly

    • Jill

      Rightfully noting the war and rights movements analogies spoken here, perhaps that’s not the only point to be made.

      What about the gay teen that overheard the confrontation (busy airport) and found courage in it? Or the parent of a gay child that overheard and found comfort in it? Or the quiet Catholic LBGTQ ally that overheard and was previously afraid to speak up, but now finding the words from hearing truth spoken out loud?

      Not every courageous stand we take will have the impact we intent, but it doesn’t mean it makes no impact at all.

      • Canis

        Jill;

        For every gay individual and sympathizer that takes heart in the exchange, there is Catholic fence sitter who witnessed the exchange and thought, “that q***** has absolutely no manners and no shame”.

        The battle is not won by embolding the GLB community but by converting the uncommitted.

        • Diana A.

          Nobody else has manners or shame, so why should queer people be required to exhibit those traits?

          As for “converting people,” no amount of posterior kissing is going to change the mind of a bigot.

        • Jill

          Right, that’s exactly what I’m referring to. My opinion had to be converted once too, because I was not a fence-sitter– I was once absolute that homosexuality was wrong.

          My mind was not changed through quietly sitting alone with my prayers– I had gay friends who educated my thinking with even some bold shamelessness.

          But that’s not all I’m talking about either. If a fence-sitter was offended by witnessing this, that person is not a fence-sitter. There are people looking for a reason to be offended by gay people, even as they claim to not care either way.

          But if a troubled, lonely person witnessed this (again, as the engagement actually happened from Mike’s own words), I’d have difficulty believing that person not be positively moved by it. It’s not simply about emboldening the GLB community as you state– it’s about encouraging them to never give in.

          I’m not taking an opposing stance from yours– I’m merely stating there are multiple viewpoints here. And I for one am glad Mike spoke up.

          • mike moore

            hey Jill, hey Diana,

            for what’s it’s worth, I wouldn’t waste any more time on Canis … I should’ve known better, but I’ve already wasted too much time on him myself.

            Read his posts … he talks a big game, but in the end, he’s the kind of guy who would’ve have told Jesus to pipe down and stop making waves … he would’ve told Galileo that being under house arrest was Galileo’s own damn fault …

            Canis is a guy who would’ve have looked a slave in the eye said, “Be happy!! You’re about to get 1 day in 7 to work for yourself!!! And guess what? Maybe, in 10 years, if you’re still alive, you might even be free!!! Oh, your kids? They’ll be born free, but since you’re still a slave and I don’t like their uppity attitudes, they can’t live here.”

            Canis would’ve sent Rosa Parks to the back of the bus. He’s a real prince of a guy.

          • Jill

            I guess I just wanted to have the last

            word.

            :)

          • Jill

            ‘Pipe down Jesus.’ Is it wrong that makes me laugh?

          • mike moore

            yes, you’re so Wrong … (that’s why I love you.)

          • Jill

            cheeky monkey

          • Diana A.

            Yeah, I got much the same impression. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a lost cause!

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