The deciding LGBT issue that Christians cannot ignore

Professor Malachi tapped a file resting in the middle of his desk. “Let’s consider this candidate right here. The man’s a homosexual.”

Arthur shifted in his chair. “I think he goes to hell.”

“Are you certain of that?”

Arthur paused in case he wasn’t. He wanted to impress Malachi, who had asked him into his office for this special chat. Besides being Dean of the Discernment and Judgement Department at Heaven U., Malachi was also one of its most popular professors. “Well, the Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.”

“What’s the first thing we teach about sin here at Heaven U., Arthur?”

Arthur thought back to his Introduction to Judgement class. “That it’s contextual.”

“Exactly. When is it not a sin to kill?”

“When it’s done in the service of a greater good. In defense of the weak. In self-defense. Or even if it’s an accident.”

“So despite the fact that the Bible says very clearly Thou shalt not kill … ?”

“We consider the context in which the killing occurred before determining whether or not it was a sin.”

“That’s correct. And if a woman tells her best friend that the Christmas cookies she made her were so delicious that she ate them all, even though she really threw them in the garbage because they tasted like dead cat?”

“No sin,” said Arthur. He remembered the time back on earth when he told his Grandma how much he loved the horrible red and purple sweater she’d knit him.

“But the Bible says very clearly Thou shalt not lie,” said Malachi.

“But it’s okay. Because the larger good was served by her showing affection to her friend.”

“And the poor man who steals a loaf of bread from the kitchen of a rich man to feed starving children?”

“No sin.”

“Despite the very clear words of the Bible? Despite the Eighth Commandment, Thou shalt not steal?”

“Still no sin. There’s no judging sin without context.”

“Spoken like the angel we’ll make of you yet, Arthur.”

“Thank you, sir.” Arthur took a moment to look out at the vast shimmering empyrean.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Malachi.

“Even when I dreamed of it on earth, I never imagined anything like it.”

“Speaking of those who aspire to be here. Right off the bat, do you vote thumbs up or down for our gay applicant?”

“Well,” said Arther, “I know that as a Christian I definitely believed that homosexuality was a sin. That’s all I was ever taught.”

“You died a young man, Arthur. Did you hold that same belief at the time of your accident?”

“By then the whole issue had grown more complicated. All I ever heard growing up was that being gay was extremely sinful. I learned that basically there was no such thing as a homosexual: that gay people were really just straight people who needed to get right with God.”

“You believed it possible to pray away the gay, as the term had it.”

“I did believe that, yes.”

“As did most Christians. What happened to that belief?”

“Over time it became obvious how wrong it was. It became perfectly clear that nobody could pray away their gay—that some people really were just born gay, the same as some are born left-handed, or red-headed.”

“Ah. And what followed that revelation?”

“Then we started being taught that while it might not have been possible for a gay person to stop being gay, it was possible for any gay person to resist the temptation to act gay.”

“Interesting,” said the professor. “What exactly does that mean, you think, to act gay?”

“I guess it means, well, to engage in homosexual sex. What else could it mean?”

“Nothing that I can see. So the new idea was that gay people could, and should, will themselves not to be intimate with others of their kind—to never have life partners in the way that straight people do.”

“Yes. Just like everyone else, they were supposed to resist the sins they personally were tempted to commit.”

“Which means, doesn’t it, that everyone is then beginning on the same moral footing. Up until then being gay, in and of itself, was an irredeemable sin. But that was no longer the case, was it? Now it was intrinsically no more a sin to be gay than straight—a sin committed by a gay person was no more immoral than the same sin committed by a straight person. All were now equal. All were innocent until proven guilty.”

Arthur thought for a moment. “That’s right. That’s how it was.”

“So tell me, where has all this left you on the gay issue?”

“Still a bit confused. I honestly don’t know what to make of the whole question of the sinfulness of homosexuality.”

“Then let’s reason it out, shall we? If I understand correctly, you no longer hold to the idea that it’s a sin just to be gay, any more than it’s automatically a sin to be straight. Agreed?”

“Agreed.”

“So sinfulness is not determined by what we are, but only by what we do. To be sinful we must first act sinfully. Yes?”

“Yes.”

“So virtually the only way to judge if anyone, gay or straight, has done something sinful, is by evaluating the action in question. There simply is no other way to determine sinfulness, yes?”

“Yes.”

“And what do we know to be the indispensable tool for judging the morality of any given action?”

“Context.”

“Context. Sometimes lying, stealing, or killing is a sin. Sometimes any action at all–or taking no action at all—can be a sin. And when we look to context, what do we look for?”

“Harmful intent and harmful action,” said Arthur. “At the motives behind the action and the harm that resulted from it. Or, as you put it in one of your lectures, ‘To find the sin look within.’”

“Very good! And what does the Bible say about the context of homosexual sex?”

“Gosh,” said Arthur. He thought for a moment. “Nothing. The Bible doesn’t say anything about any contexts or situations in which it is or might be okay for gay people to actually be gay. Same as it doesn’t with lying, stealing, killing, and all the other sins it mentions. It doesn’t talk about contexts at all.”

“Then the Bible simply cannot tell us, in any blanket sort of way, what individual acts are or are not sinful, can it?”

“No,” said Arthur. “I guess it can’t.”

“And that leaves us to do what the Bible is incapable of doing, isn’t that right? It is necessarily our responsibility to determine whether any individual is sinful. Because only we can consider context.”

“That’s right. It’s up to us. There’s no other way.”

“Which brings us back to the question of our gay candidate. Heaven or hell?”

“I have no idea.” Arthur smiled. “After all, I couldn’t possibly make that call before I know the man—really know him—as a person.”

 

(A shorter version of this story is To Find the Sin Look Within.)

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About John Shore

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

  • Daeshii

    BRAVO!! Exactly! You hit the nail head-on, John! Thank you for this!

  • Josie

    Is there a stand-up-and-yell-yahoo-and-cheer-and-applaud-wildly button?

  • Mindy

    Wow. Just . . . wow. You nailed it. Just NAILED it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • TheIntellectualGerbil

    right to the point: you have to know the man (or woman) before you judge them.

    if only people would live by that rule …

    p.s. a stand-up-and-yell-yahoo-and-cheer-and-applaud-wildly-button? that sounds like a great idea. can we have one john? please? :)

  • George

    Interesting but something is missing.

    We don’t get into heaven because of more or less sin. All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. No one is righteous, not even one. So no one enters heaven on a merit scholarship. Straight or gay we all go to hell if not for something called grace. Grace is God’s gift to us, not the church’s and certainly not the opinion of others. We don’t need to know someone to decide whether or not they deserve to go to heaven. God needs to know them and does and he decides who receives his grace. Wonderful isn’t it. It is by grace through faith that any and every sinner, straight of gay can go to heaven.

    • theresa

      God decides who receives his grace? Really? So that whole idea of grace being freely given, by God, to all–there are catches to that? I’m confused.

      • George

        theresa: I was away so didn’t get a chance to reply. Yes, God decides but the question is really this: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called his children?” What do you think is our God stingy when it comes to grace or is the grace filled one generous? I go with generous, very, very generous.

    • Jerry

      This is an old old controversy in Christianity. Grace through faith alone or grace through works? Like many controversies, this one is based on a false duality. Faith alone is empty and requires works to demonstrate the reality of grace within our lives; grace is obtainable and available to all who demonstrate and live their faith….

      • George

        Jerry: we don’t receive grace because we live by faith we live by faith because we recognize that we have received grace.

  • Amber

    So John writes his own scripture and it’s brilliant? Not.

    • Josie

      Wow…miss the point much? First, I don’t think John was claiming that this was scripture. There probably weren’t too many angels named Arthur. Second, I’m pretty sure that the scripture I read talks quite a bit about not judging others. And treating others as you would like to be treated. In fact, I recall the Jesus I read about saying something along the lines of “love God, love others, thereby hangs the whole law.” Isn’t that in your edition somewhere?

      • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

        Don’t mind Amber, Josie. He’s a fundamentalist-type who likes to use the Bible to smash other people in the head, all in the name of God. He’s from the God-is-hate crowd.

        • Josie

          Thanks, Al–I grew up surrounded by them. I KNEW it sounded familiar from SOMEWHERE. The Bible I use now is curiously short of the “God is hate” verses.:-)

      • Melody

        Ditto Al. “Amber” is a resident troll here (whom i suspect also goes by “Frank” and countless other aliases through constantly changing his/her IP address. Lying for Jesus at its finest. S/he knows s/he’s not welcome here, but alas, s/he doesn’t have a brain to get the message to stop reading/commenting here. Basically the Christian troll jihad, if you will. S/he thinks s/he’s right and everyone else in the world is wrong. Insufferable and nauseating.

        • Josie

          Yeah…what is UP with the name-changing thing? You’d think if he/she truly had the strength of conviction that she/he claims, he/she would be proclaiming it from the rooftops in her/his own voice. “Christian troll jihad” is a great phrase, by the way.

          • Paul

            I think I hear a band name!

          • John (not McCain)

            Clearly, Amber is Frank in drag, or Frank is Amber in drag. One would have thought that would be bad in Framber’s eyes, but that mean’s one would have been expecting consistency from a loon.

          • Elizabeth

            Framber!

      • Lymis

        Remember, amber is the petrified ancient residue of prehistoric trees that very often has insects and other long-outdated debris caught in it, which has been so static and under such pressure for so long that it hardens into a stone-like rigidity that becomes impossible to change without shattering. It’s usually very flawed and often extremely murky. Finding actual clarity in amber is extremely rare, and usually only found in very small amounts, and only then with extremely dedicated searching and the willingness to discard a great deal of useless dirt, debris, and valueless content.

        Just saying.

        • Jill

          I ♥ you guys very much.

        • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

          lol Thanks for digging deep for that one, Lymis. I thought “Amber” was just a nice drag queen name.

          I’m inclining to think that he has a dark secret he’d like to share with us (like many homophobes), but using the unisexual pen-name “Amber” is as far as he’s willing to go.

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

          I want to have your baby, Lymis.

          • Jill

            Get in line, Shore.

          • Lymis

            Why sir, how you do go on!

        • KarenAtFOH

          Wonderful!!! Lymis = diamond.

        • Erin D.

          That was freakin’ awesome.

        • Josie

          Can I just repeat the first post I made on this thread, only now apply it to Lymis?

          “Is there a stand-up-and-yell-yahoo-and-cheer-and-applaud-wildly button?”

          I’m really starting to think we need one, John :-)

  • Maria

    Hi John,

    Thank you first and foremost for all your work. I have been lurking in your blog for the past couple months and, for many reasons, found a lot of solace in many of your words (and the words of some of those who frequent your blogs)

    I do have a question on one of the sentences in this latest posting and please forgive me if this has already covered this elsewhere. The sentence in question is:

    ” “Well, the Bible very clearly says that homosexuality is a sin.” ”

    My question is whether the bible clearly really say that? and where do you stand in relation to those1 who say that condemnation of homosexuals/homosexuality in the bible has more to do with hate-bias in the translations/meanings of the original texts?

    1. e.g. http://www.stjohnsmcc.org/new/BibleAbuse/Genesis.php and following pages

  • http://oygbo.posterous.com/ Oygbo

    The truth is soooooo simple – it only takes human pride to complicate it and you John have both humility and a real knack for presenting the truth in its real, simple colours! :-) I am addicted to this blog! ;o) But, hey, not all addictions are sinful, eh? ;) )

    • Don Rappe

      Depends on the context.

      • http://oygbo.posterous.com/ Oygbo

        I know :-)

  • Joyce

    John – your first version was good enough for me to share. This one is even better.

    Theresa – that was my thought as well, but not being biblically literate, I was afraid I might be thinking of one of Shakespeare’s quotes.

    • Maria

      I liked the first one. I love this second one!

      :-)

      Maria.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewchow01 Andrew Chow via Facebook

    While I like the second version, with its expanded discussion, I also miss the phrase in the first version, to discern sin, look within. Sin is not simply external behavior, but also the internal struggle. I hope you add that back in.

  • Mary June Rose via Facebook

    My favorite thing I have ever read of yours. Wow.

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

    Andrew: Thanks for kind words. (For what it’s worth: I didn’t take out the “sin within” phrase. It’s still in there.)

  • Auri Fox via Facebook

    they are both fine, i just found that i personally didn’t need the further explanation and detail, because the simple phrase of context kinda covered it. but to someone who isnt open, it is probably necessary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewchow01 Andrew Chow via Facebook

    Oh, yes, I skipped that part not realizing that’s where it is. I found the shorter version more focused, and easier to follow. The longer version has more content, but also harder to follow in this day of ADD. :)

  • Annetta

    I’m not a Christian anymore, but when I was a Christian and struggling with my first realizations of cross-gender feelings (not the same as being gay, but homosexuality was the closest thing I could compare it to at the time) when I was 12, this would have been wonderful. Beautiful post.

  • Paul Kenney via Facebook

    Terrific!

  • Tom Backus via Facebook

    John: Thank you. The whole “put it into context” is so true. As I read and learn, I find out more and more that the Bible is talking about context. It always boils down to LOVE. If something is done without love and care, even a good outcome doesn’t justify it. Thanks for putting it so beautifully!

  • heffalump

    I also want to ask about how this works for those who believe in the ‘all have sinned,’ human depravity, views of sanctification that allow for effective personal effort. You see, my mother is a fundamentalist Christian, and she insists that my SSAs are to be resisted as she would resist lust for another man beside my father (which is an improvement over previous judgments).

    I can tell you that I can clearly understand how sexual orientation is not the equivalent of ‘lust,’ and it follows that the thoughts and desires for SSA companionship and intimacy are not a sin. And of course, unless gay marriage becomes legal, we do not have an outlet (anyway that is acceptable to those who take such a narrow-minded view of fornication). But while my mom says SSA is not a sin in itself, she insists that acting on ‘those desires’ (in any way) is sin.

    She has repeatedly told me that she can never accept or condone “this part” of me (my orientation) or my behavior (my civil rights/LGBTQUIA activism). I hope time will change her mind. Any thoughts or suggestions for dialogue with her?

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      I would say just keep loving her. Drop the conversation and just live your life as you choose. When your life choices and her beliefs conflict, then just draw boundaries. You get to love yourself, too. Continuing to show her Christ’s love will produce something beautiful. It will take time. The way God broke down my beliefs on this subject (back when I was trapped in my fundamentalist upbringing) was to continually bring gay men into my life. The more I got to know them and enjoy their friendship, the more my thoughts and views were challenged and, ultimately, changed.

    • KarenAtFOH

      I’ve been pondering lately the words of Paul, when he says more or less “It is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Doesn’t that undermine the idea that we’re supposed to struggle to be celibate? I think so. In view of these words from Paul, the push for celibacy would actually be promoting something unscriptural, if not actually encouraging one to ignore God’s council. Paul says that celibacy is a gift that is not for everyone, and maybe your Mom would be receptive to the idea that marriage is God’s alternative gift to us, just like it has been for het men and women who would rather not “burn with passion”.

    • Erin D.

      It sounds like she has already come some distance down the path to acceptance. I agree with Nicole – you have to let all the frustration wash over you. Don’t let it harden you, but just pass through you. I have had different, but similar “I can never accept this about you” discussions with my parents. I started out arguing angrily my viewpoints, to storming out whenever they brought it up, to crying and begging them to leave me alone….to now, when I just laugh and say, “Oh, Mom.” If she keeps pushing things? Laugh again. “Oh, Mom. You’re so sweet to care about me.” “This old argument again? Hee hee!” Laugh and repeat ad nauseum. It’s amazing how much power there is in a simple laugh. It keeps your soul from being dragged through the muck of discouragement and grief, and reminds you that even though they are your parents, sometimes they are just silly people with silly ideas. Give them a peck on the cheek, thank them for their concern, then go about your merry life. People say to me, “Wow, how can you still talk to your parents? Why aren’t you angry after everything they put you through?” and I don’t really know why it doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s a combination of forgiveness, realizing people’s mental limitations, and laughing instead of fuming. But somehow it works.

      • Erin D.

        Oh, and I should mention that I tried logical reasoning and discussing the alternate interpretations of the Bible with my parents. That didn’t work either, and in fact hurt me more because my mom thought I was just trying to sound smarter than her and started getting really nasty.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      It might not help, but I highly recommend the documentary “For the Bible Tell Me So”, especially Mary Lou Wallner’s story, which sounds much like your mother’s stance. Someone has made a YouTube vid of some of Wallner’s bits in the documentary here– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycbHnPhw8VQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  • Don Rappe

    For some reason, this made me want to reread the book of Malachi. I suppose if we bring less than our best thinking to the questions of God, we are like the Levite priest in the temple who brings the lame or old animals to sacrifice at the altar, but not any meat we would eat ourselves. We receive no benefit from this since God ignores our sacrifice. But if we bring our best thinking and most serious concern, then the messenger of JHWH (who is Author of the universe and God of all people) will bless us with understanding.

    • Jill

      I like this, thanks Don.

  • Susan in NY

    Great post.

    But really, “empyream”? What the heck is that?

    Well, I know now because I looked it up, but truthfully, that kind of smarty-pants vocabulary usage could make some readers feel like they need to read more books, or study for the SAT vocab section just so they can read your posts.

    Not me, of course.

    Susan in NY

    • Elizabeth

      I looked up “empyream” too. I knew what it meant, but I wanted to check the spelling. I love that John raises the bar that way. That’s just me, of course.

      • Jerry

        It is of course “empyrean”

  • http://www.facebook.com/christy.emigh Christy Emigh via Facebook

    Excellent…thank you so much!

  • Martin

    It’s not for us to decide who goes to Heaven or Hell. God alone will decide. Whether the person was a Satanic, murdering fascist, if God wants him there, he will be there. All of this Christians debating under each other whether or not it’s a sin or not to be LGBT is only background noise. It makes no difference in the eyes of God or what is inevitable.

  • otter

    I think the title of this post is regrettably incorrect. People are consistently, stupidly, stubbornly, arrogantly ignoring this line of reasoning. And nothing seems to be bringing them to their senses.

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

      They can ignore it now. But ultimately this IS the argument they won’t be able to ignore. Title-wise, I mean it in an absolute sense. When the wall falls, this is what will have knocked it down.

    • Jill

      It’s true people do still ignore it. But thankfully John and many others are continuing to remind us all over and over and over again that if I’m ignoring it, it’s because I’m choosing to. Claiming ‘I didn’t know any better’ is an excuse that no longer holds any water. And taking away excuses has merit.

  • elaine

    So, basically any sinful behaviour in which we choose to engage can be justified by applying a context around it. Sorry, but I can’t agree. As a Christian, i cannot promote, encourage or engage in sexual impropriety, straight or gay. Living single and celibate is a viable option for anyone not married. If we choose to act as any non-believer would, we are no different from them. Christ calls us to be in the world, but not of the world, and he says we will be hated and persecuted for taking a stand for him, just as the world hated and persecuted him. We are called to be different from those around us, not just adapt the Christian faith to fit the society in which we live. I made the decision to live celibate some time ago, and every day I thank God and ask Him for the strength to keep that commitment.

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

      So you never lie then.

      • elaine

        I am not perfect, and not sin free, and as much as possible will say nothing rather than lie about something. Sometimes the mouth engages gears before the mind grabs control, but I do try to avoid improper behaviour. I do not, however, choose to live my life every day making sinful choices. Sexual impropriety is usually a conscious choice. If I were perfect and sin free, I wouldn’t need God’s grace or mercy, and there is nobody who doesn’t need those.

        • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

          Elaine, gay people are under a double standard when it comes to sexual impropriety, because in most states in the US, they can’t get married. Even Paul said it was better to marry than to burn (the “with desire” part seems implied). In the context of that, it doesn’t seem fair to say, “Unless you’re gay. Then any sex you have, no matter how loving and committed and permanent the relationship, is a sin.”

          • David S

            Hi KellyK -

            I agree that there is a double standard based on sexual orientation. I reject this notion held by conservative Christians that straight relationships are blessed and gay relationships are sinful.

            I would point out, however, that there is a difference between civil law (and the rights that it confers) and religious blessings. My husband and I were married in the eyes of God several years before we were legally able to marry in the eyes of the state (we have since had a civil ceremony). In our religious wedding, we stood up before friends and family and made a covenent- pledging ourselves to one another. That covenent was blessed by clergy. The lack of a legal certificate did not make my marriage any less valid.

          • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

            I reject this notion held by conservative Christians that straight relationships are blessed and gay relationships are sinful.

            Oh, definitely, so do I. (For that matter, I don’t think that all sex within marriage (legal, religious, or both) is blessed and all sex outside of marriage is necessarily sinful either.) My point was that Elaine talks about being “single and celibate” as a viable option for anyone who isn’t married, totally ignoring the fact that there’s a difference between “celibate until you find someone” and “celibate forever no matter what.”

            I would point out, however, that there is a difference between civil law (and the rights that it confers) and religious blessings.

            Good point. I tend to assume when people talk about “waiting until marriage” they mean both the religious and the secular, because they’re so intertwined, and it’s frequently assumed that you’ll do both at once.

        • DR

          Elaine, when did you choose to be straight and start desiring men? Was it in high school or earlier than that? Please tell us your story.

          • elaine

            Interesting, DR. I don’t see that written in the words I wrote, that I “chose to be straight and started desiring men”. I said I choose to remain single and celibate. I am not straight. I am gay and have known since I was very young. And have not always been or lived a Christian life, having left the faith with which I was raised for many years. So if you see my comments as a straight person making a choice to be straight, and that I am saying gay people make a choice to be gay, you are very wrong. I am a gay person who cannot justify living in a gay relationship and claiming that I am being true to the God who is now the focus of my life. I don’t ask God to “fix” me, though I am sure He could make such a change in my life if that were to be his will for me. I do, though, ask God for strength every day to live the life I feel He has called me to live, and that does not include being in a same sex relationship. I don’t answer to God for anyone else but myself, and have several gay friends who are in relationships and very faithful Christians. They all do know, however, that I do not agree with their choice to live in relationship, but that is between them and God. As a Christian, though, I cannot agree to promote, encourage, or advocate gay relationships as a viable choice for Christian living.

            I did notice a comment in one of the replies to my original comments about gay marriage being illegal so any sexual contact would be outside of marriage, but I live in Canada – legal here. I don’t believe it is a Christian alternative, legal or not.

          • DR

            That’s fine for you, Elaine. If you’re choosing to live a life that’s celibate, while that’s sad to me? If that’s what you want to do, more power to you. That you are extrapolating your experience and trying to applying as though it is God’s Standard is what devastates a lot of the gay community, particularly children who are gay, that they believe God would ultimately deem them as “broken” permanently – meaning, they can never be in a relationship, they can’t “repent” – you have to at least own some responsibility in that, particularly as a gay woman. You’re sending a message that this is one sin God can’t heal, can’t fix – if I’m wrong, please list out at least one “sin” that can’t be “healed” through the redeeming power of Christ’s love via the Cross.

          • elaine

            I may just be tired, but am having a problem with what you are saying here. Being a homosexual is not a sin, I never said it was. I do not have to repent for being (pretend this is underlined – don’t want to use caps) gay. It is my actions, not my being which can be called into question as sinful. I have also known individuals who when coming to a faith in God were able to get involved in a heterosexual relationship and live quite happily. So it isn’t that I do not believe God can enact change if the person so desires it, (and notice I did not use the word “heal” here) but that is not what I prayed for.

            All I know is that I am more content and happy in my life since making a decision to put God first in my life, and follow Him in the way I feel is most faithful to that calling.

          • DR

            Again, I’m glad you feel good in your skin! I am. I’m not sure what it is, then, that you feel is wrong about those in your life who are gay and who are in relationship if being gay is not a sin. That’s a bit confusing for me.

    • Elizabeth

      Elaine, I chose to be celibate for several years. I hear you on the self-discipline involved and the dependence on God to strengthen that resolve. Gays who want to be married and can’t, though, commit no sin by your definition. That’s a result of man’s laws, not God’s.

      • elaine

        I often don’t think outside of my own country – the fact that marriage is legal in Canada does not, in my belief, make it a viable option for Christians.

        • DR

          Wow. :/

          • Melody

            Wow, indeed. So narrow. So sad.

        • Elizabeth

          I’m sorry you think you can never have a successful romance, as vulnerable as it would make you, because you’re gay. A lifetime of loneliness is a heavy burden. If Jesus could hang out with prostitutes and lepers — REALLY sinful and sick individuals — what makes you think He couldn’t celebrate your wedding?

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      So you would argue that all the couples throughout history who could not legally get married (slaves in the antebellum South, interracial couples prior to Loving v. Virginia, gay couples today) all lived in sin simply because man’s law would not afford them legal recognition of their covenant, and should have chosen celibacy instead?

      It’s great that you feel called to celibacy, but your calling is not everyone’s. Some people’s calling includes sharing love and family and kinship and even the raising of children with another person. Who are you to apply your gift and calling to everyone else and judge them harshly if their gifts and calling are different?

    • http://www.unchainedfaith.com Amy

      If celibacy is the only option for those not married, then what would you suggest for married gay couples? Where I live, that’s legal. So by your reasoning, gay sex isn’t sinful because it’s within the bounds of legal marriage.

      I’ve actually written on that subject, what churches do with legally we’d same-sex couples. They have to decide, because the argument that gay=sin is losing ground. Unless churches wish to start advocating for gay divorce, Christians must acknowledge the flaws in their arguments.

      • elaine

        As I commented above already, gay marriage being legal does not mean it is a viable Christian alternative. And I don’t believe that as Christians we should encourage, promote, or advocate for gay relationships as an acceptable lifestyle for Christian living.

        • DR

          That’s silly, of course it is. Christian men and women only get married in a court or in Vegas, etc. all the time. They are “married” in the eyes of the christian church.

        • Elizabeth

          I just hear the loneliness, Elaine. You’re strong enough to be celibate. Good for you. Don’t discriminate against other gay Christians who want lovers and spouses and children. Equal marriage is very viable. It will be U.S. law in two years.

    • Jerry

      Elaine you seem to be saying that any sexual activity outside of a marriage/committed relationship is improper…even unChristian. You certainly have the right to choose celibacy for yourself as an expression of your faith, but how does that qualify your choice as the only correct one? Christianity has always been a kaleidoscope of belief and doctrine and practice; humanity has expended countless treasure and oceans of blood in defense of the right to believe as they have wished–that journey continues to this day and yes money is still spent (mostly against people like me) and blood is still spilled by people who are fighting merely to be accorded simple human dignity and the right to be who they are.

    • Lymis

      > So, basically any sinful behaviour in which we choose to engage can be justified by applying a context around it.

      Sin doesn’t lie in behavior. It can’t. Sin isn’t about what bodies do, it’s about what people choose. Sin lies entirely in the motivation and the context.

      It isn’t that sinful behavior can be justified by applying a context around it. It is that the context is what determines whether something is a sin in the first place. You cannot define a behavior as sinful across the board unless you ascribe a single sinful motivation to every occasion of it.

      Taking a sharp knife and slicing into someone else’s abdomen with it can be assault. It can be self-defense. It can be surgery. The context defines whether it is sin.

      The specific physical actions which constitute straight sex can be rape, they can be a commercial activity, they can be artistic expression, they can be dehumanizing use of someone else for pleasure, they can be warm and friendly, or they can be a reflection of a deep and abiding sacred commitment.

      To lump all the sex that any two people of the same sex can have into one single “behavior” and then call it sin is morally wrong and an expression of deeply dehumanizing gay and bisexual people. We are people, not behaviors. The sex I have with my husband is not “sexual impropriety,” and it wasn’t before we had the opportunity to be legally married.

      Same sex sexual activity covers the same range of behaviors as straight sexual activity does. I doubt you’ll find anyone saying that gay people cannot commit sexual sin – but it isn’t that the sex is any more inherently sinful than straight sex is.

      No, Christians are not called to “adapt” the Christian faith to fit the society in which they live, but they are called to apply it to their lives in the context of the society in which they live.

      When Jesus said that you will be hated and persecuted, that’s not intended to be a goal. That elevates smug self-righteousness to a virtue it was never intended for – and pretty much the only people Jesus is on record outright condemning are the Pharisees, for being unable to see past the rules to the humanity around them.

      Remember, the greatest commandment isn’t “Follow the rules.” It is “Love your neighbor.”

      If being celibate is the right answer for you, that’s wonderful. Reread the story of Mary and Martha before you start demanding everyone else follow Jesus the same way.

      • Elizabeth

        “The lesson is that as followers of Jesus we are not only invited to partake of God’s radical hospitality but we are called to practice it by seeking justice for those in the margins, challenging discrimination wherever we see it and transforming our relationships so that they reflect the love of Christ.” A feminist perspective, but a good one. http://gracerules.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/mary-and-martha-a-story-about-gods-radical-hospitality/

      • Elizabeth

        On an entirely personal note, when it comes to Biblical women, I’m all about Mary Magdalene and Tamar.

      • elaine

        I don’t see being hated and persecuted as a “goal” in my life, but recently have been called everything from a bigot, homophobic, and someone tacked on that I was “probably a racist, too” in some previous conversations. I have never said that Christians in gay relationships are “hell-bound” but have repeatedly said I do not answer to God for anyone else, only myself. You answer for the life you live, and you choose to be in a same sex relationship. I do not feel as a Christian, that I can encourage, promote, or advocate that as a viable Christian choice. If you notice, I do not include the word “condone” as that my call. As a Christian, and a homosexual, I cannot justify living in a relationship as an acceptable choice. Nor can I tell anyone that it is a life that a Christian should lead. I have several gay Christian friends in relationships, and they know I don’t consider their choice to be right, but nor do I condemn them, and we get along fine. But they do know where I stand personally on the issue.

        • Elizabeth

          Elaine, I’m not homosexual. I have been celibate for two years, for my own reasons. I meant it when I said “I hear you.” It’s lonely. It’s frustrating. It’s a choice I reexamine daily.

          As a Christian, I pray romantic love will find you — gay, straight, or none of the above. Being loved really is the best feeling on Earth. Pauline theology notwithstanding, I believe it’s what God wants for all of us.

          • elaine

            Elizabeth – I am not looking for romantic love in my life. At times, just because I live by myself with my pets, I feel a loneliness that just comes from lack of company, but I do not feel any great emptiness or loss in my life because I do not have a partner with whom I have a relationship. I am rather content with my life as it is, more so than I was in the past. When I was in a relationship I turned away from my faith, because I could not ever align the two, and when I reached the point where I decided that God was more important than any relationship here, and made the commitment to be single and celibate, my life has been a complete turnaround since then.

          • Melody

            Elaine, if you have truly found peace and contentment with God, then that’s wonderful. I wish nothing but that for you. I hope you’ll soon come to understand that it is certainly possible to be a true follower of Jesus, as well as to be in a same-sex relationship. God bless you on your journey.

          • Elizabeth

            Elaine, the great thing about romantic love is that you don’t look for it. It finds you. It’s messy and horrible and wonderful, all at once. If you stay open to it, God will send him or her into your life.

            No relationship, ever, should make you turn away from your faith. You just haven’t met the right person yet.

          • David S

            Elaine – I really appreciate the tone of your comments. Thanks for putting yourself out there and not judging others.

            I don’t know you even a little bit, so please take my comment in the spirit it is intended- an observation based on my experience, not a commentary on your decision.

            I’ve known several people in my life, both gay and straight, who are not looking for romantic love. I don’t know that any of them have consciously shut out the possibility of intamacy, but their life has formed without it. To a certain degree, they find life easier to navigate life alone rather than wrestling with the struggle-and-conflict parts of relationships. I would just say that to choose celibacy because one feels called by God to chaste singleness is different than withdrawing from the struggle that life and love sometimes brings.

            Romantic relationships can be healthy or destructive, they can bring us closer to God or be a distraction. This is equally true for both opposite and same sex relationships.

  • DLBeard

    The format reminds me of the Screwtape Letters. great format that inspires me to look within at my own temptations. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • Mike

    I want to make a comment to Elaine. I can tell from the tone and context of your post that you truly love God and want to be the type of person who walks in love as well. I am not one of those people who automatically brand people who disagree with me as “haters” and “intolerant”… this is a difficult issue and one in which many disagree.

    I would like to challenge you with an idea, however. I am a spirit filled gay christian. God and I are fine and we talk daily, (hourly… every moment is more like it!! hahaha) and I have come to a conclusion that puts the Bible into context in a way that it never has before. Be prepared; this is NOT something you have been taught, but it resolves the inconsistency of the Bible in a new way.

    There are many behaviors that are good and righteous, that if taken to the extreme are sinful. It is the “context” referenced in the article. If you work in your local church that is good. if you are a leader in your local church that is good, when you get to the point that you beleive the church will not function without you and you have the right to make the decisions for the congregation…. it is bad.

    Working is good. Earning money is good. Becoming so focused on earning money that it becomes your focus is… clearly and Biblically, bad. Context.

    While the israelites had many rules, their concept of sin was hazy. When Jesus came, he turned everyone on their ear and seemed to contradict the common conception of “What is sin?”. In my study, and my prayer, what I have figured out is this: “Sin” is any activity or thought which seperates us from God. THe Bible begins and ends with us in perfect commune with God and the point of Christ’s ministry and sacrifice was to reconcile us to God through him. So anything you do, if it seperates you from God, is sin. King David, who certainly committed many sexual sins, including adultery and homosexuality, was described as “A man after my own heart” because of his obedience. He sought God’s face and lived to serve God. He was flawed, as we all are, but he sought God’s face.

    Is homosexuality a sin? Personally I think i certainly can be. Is it always? No, I dont. If a committed gay couple live a life in which they allow God to be a part of their lives and they worship him and they live in love towards others and profess Christ as their savior!? Yes, I believe they are on even footing as you.

    I cannot convince anyone in a blog posting… but I challnege you to go to Bible and start reading and studying from the standpoint that “sin” isn’t a list of rules of behavior but rather describes the condition of moving away from God’s presence and seeking his face. You will see that inconsistencies fall away. You will see that confusing passages suddenly make sense.

    I love you, Elaine. Keep asking questions and seeking answers!!

    Mike

    • David S

      Mike- I wholly agree with the idea that one aspect of sin is that it seperates us from God. In my personal experience, the single thing that kept me furthest from God was trying to be some other than who He created me to be. It was sinful to deny my sexual orientation and reject God’s gift of sexuality.

      When Christians who believe as Elaine does that people who are gay would “simply” remain celebrate, they usually don’t understand the magnitude of the sacrifice they are mandating, nor are they typically willing to make that sacrifice themselves. They also don’t understand the emotional toll their beliefs take on people who are gay. They are telling us that God created us unworthy of the possibility of giving and receiving romantic love and all of the fullness that flows from intimacy. That’s just plain wrong.

      So, in a verbose way, I guess I’m saying you’re exactly right. Living oh scripture as if it is a rule book (ignoring contradictions and stubbornly hanging on to evangelical tradition) is likely to push people away from God.

      • elaine

        David: I don’t think I used the word “simply” anywhere in my comments. And I fully understand the magnitude of the sacrifice involved. As a gay woman, believe me, I understand fully and every day thank God for getting through the day before, and ask for strength to get through the days ahead. I did not choose to be gay, any more than I could choose to be in a straight relationship, but I can choose to live my life in the manner in which I believe is required in order to be faithful to the life to which I am called in order to be faithful to God, through the grace provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

        And, interestingly enough, I am far happier in my faith, true to what I believe, and more committed to God since making the decision to be celibate and single than I ever was for years before that.

        • David S

          Elaine.

          Thanks for the additional info. I will give my full support to anyone who freely chooses celibacy if that’s what they feel like they must do to live a Godly life. I’m certain that it is a tough row to hoe. And I can only imagine how emotionally tough your journey must be.

          Like your friends, I disagree with you about the sinfulness of gay relationships. I do not believe that God calls all gay people to celibacy. In fact, I believe that the so-called “side b” message is incredibly harmful to gay congregants. God did not make us inferior and unworthy of giving and receiving romantic love. Telling the gay kid in the front pew that he is deeply flawed and must be alone in life in order to please God – that is emotionally and spiritually abusive.

          • Jill

            To tack onto David’s comment, I still find it somewhat incredible that, in view of all the infinite variety of life, theologies, ideologies, sexuality, gender, that we still find ourselves stuck in arguments on ‘what is the best way’ to live a life. I’m confident that my life will again look different when I’m in a committed relationship than it does now in my current single lifestyle. And it probably looks different than a committed gay relationship, or a gay celibate life. Or if I packed up my life and founded a commune on the moon.

            I’m not convinced that it matters one iota *what I’m doing, who I’m doing it with* in the eyes of the Divine. It matters *how I live*– how I treat others, how I invest in becoming the best version of me I am capable of being. It matters that I love, and love some more, and keep finding new and exciting ways to spread love around.

            Love exalts—in whatever variation and variety it takes. If something does not uplift or en-light-en, it is not of love. Pretty basic stuff. If I’m investing time and energy determining the sinfulness of things, I’m not holding sacred the time allotted me to be here and focus what really moves our lives forward and connects us all. For me that would be the real shame, and something I know now I have in my grasp that I won’t relinquish.

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

    BRAVO John!…This captivated me, in it’s entirety, as you always do! You have put the thought back into the process, time and time again, my friend! If this was required text for every human being, then the world would be a much more loving place! Thank You for your inspiration!

  • Matt

    Thank you for this, John! I could never put my finger on why it was okay for my (straight) co-workers to talk about their partners at work, but not me. It’s because me and my partner being together (with the assumption that we have sex) is only seen in the weird/gross/sinful/other context, not the loving/committed/normal/healthy context they have around their relationships.

    • Elizabeth

      Matt, I didn’t see this until now. Being “officially” single in the workplace isn’t a gay issue. I have no stories to tell, and it’s just as embarrassing around the water cooler. As a single straight celibate woman, I’ve worked countless nights and holidays. I don’t have a family or a partner, so, in the eyes of Big Business, I don’t count. Anyone unmarried is legally vulnerable. It sucks.

      • Jill

        Yup. I’ve actually been told that I must thrive on being alone since I’ve been doing it so well for so long. Been told I’m ‘lucky’.

        Ah…spinsterhood. What a girl dreams about….

        • Diana A.

          Yup. I know about that!

  • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

    Apropros absolutely nothing, film critic/historian Bill Warren tells of encountering director Curtis Harrington for the first time in the late 50s/early 60s at Forry Ackerman’s house in Los Angeles (and if you’re not a sci-fi fan / movie buff, trust me these are legendary names in the circles of geekdom).

    Warren, freshly arrived in the big city from the boondocks of Washington state, asked Ackerman after Harrington had left, “Is he a homosexual?”

    Ackerman: “In all my years of knowing him, he’s never done anything to lead me to suspect otherwise.”

  • CH

    I’m surprised to see such a utilitarian view of ethics in general, and sin in particular. This post, I believe, misses the mark with regards to what the Bible actually teaches about sin and the human predicament. Our “same moral footing” is not innocent till proven guilty (as the world would claim) but sinners in need of grace.

    The Bible does not give us allowance to justify sin based on context. That is the fallen human’s desire. Lying to grandma about the sweater or stealing because you are starving is sin – period. It is evidence of the fallen world we still live in and a reason to hope for the world to come. It is why all of creation is groaning until the redemption of the children of God.

    The human heart can find any number of reasons to justify itself before man and God. But none of that makes it right. My “context” does not give me the right not submit to what God calls me to – a MUCH higher ground than this post shoots for.

    • CH

      And lest anyone think me heartless towards grandma or the starving family, please understand: It is ALL lamentable. It ought to rend our hearts and cry out to God for mercy. I’m not saying it is “right” or “wrong” but that it is SIN – it’s falling short of the glory and holiness God calls His children to live into and will one day be. The entire system (the “rulers of this world,” as Paul calls it) is sick. The fact that grandma is not humble enough to accept that her gift is not all that great and the fact that the receiver is not grateful for all gifts received is just a mark of our humanity. That we do not love our neighbor rightly so that no family is without food and has to resort to stealing is a mark of our sinfulness.

      It’s all very, very bad. The good news, however, is we have an Advocate…

    • CH

      To put it another way, it is the same ol’ question: Did God really say….?

      Did God really say lying was sin? Well, not if you have a good reason…

      Did God really say stealing was sin? Well, not if you have a good excuse…

      Did God really say not to eat from the fruit of that tree? Well, not if it looks really good and won’t hurt anyone…or if no one sees me do it….or, or, or….

      • David S

        So in your view, you would have the sweater recipient ungraciously accept their gift? You would have the starving man starve? Is moral absolutism and certitude a sin? What about when scripture is contradictory- e.g. how should Christians feel about the death penalty? Or how about when God reveals himself differently to different people – is it really a sin for women to be in the pulpit?

        I understand your theology and don’t wholly disagree. But I think it’s facile to say “sin is sin”. Who gets to define it? Didn’t Jewish law (God’s word) say that it was forbidden for Jesus to heal on the sabbath? Did God change His mind? The problem with a rule-book view of the Bible is that it often replaces a dynamic, living, daily relationship with God; and the rules often crowd out Jesus’ commandment to love one another .

        • CH

          David,

          I’m not suggesting there are easy answers. However, I certainly cannot in good faith condone an attitude of “everything is OK so long as you have good reason to do it.”

          What other sins are deemed OK if you have good justification? Does God’s Word have any direction or anything to say about the matter?

          • DR

            This “I don’t have any answers” is something that Christians who want to continue to assert that being gay is wrong have applied for quite some time and I’m no longer allowing you to do that. Not only are you suggesting that our God is crazy, illogical and provides us with no real substantiative way of understanding and applying His Word to our lives in essential areas like sin, you do so selectively. Other parts of Scripture are remarkably clear for you – because your specific interpretation, to you, means “God’s Word”.

          • CH

            Hi DR,

            I didn’t say “I don’t have any answers.” I said, “I’m not suggesting there are easy answers.”

            No one said following Jesus was easy. It requires us to dethrone ourselves and our own desires, wants, wishes and feelings and accept another as Lord of our life. It’s why Jesus said count the cost before you become his disciple.

            When I became a Christian I submitted my life under the lordship of Jesus. With that comes submission to his commands, which are found in Scripture. It’s not always easy, pleasant or fun. Dying to myself is a daily thing – but I’m called to do it (and so is every Christian). How do you submit to Christ as Lord? Or is that too old fashioned for this bunch? I’m genuinely curious.

          • Diana A.

            Here’s the thing: it’s one thing for you to submit to Jesus (in whatever way you understand that task). It’s another child–have

          • Diana A.

            Part 2 (I hate my phone!)

            It’s another thing entirely for you to impose your understanding of God/Jesus /scripture on others. Too many Christians for too long have insisted upon shoving their version of Christianity down the throats of unwilling others. This must stop.

          • DR

            You completely missed the point I’m making to you and the edit you offered doesn’t change my point at all which is you conveniently selecting Scripture that helps you support the world view that validates who you are and helps you control your life.

          • Melody

            You are truly sick. Your God is petty, sadistic, and vindictive. I pray you don’t have children. If you do, I pity them.

    • Lymis

      “This post, I believe, misses the mark with regards to what the Bible actually teaches about sin and the human predicament. ”

      Perhaps it does.

      But it’s very telling that you frame it in terms of what the Bible does and doesn’t say when what it is actually about is our relationship with God and our moral choices in context of life and reality.

      I don’t have a relationship with a book. I have a relationship with a living God who, among other things, revealed himself to people thousands of years ago who took a stab a writing down what they felt God had to say. To them. Then. In context.

      It really doesn’t take much attention to notice that while, yes, Jesus did talk about moral rules, sometimes in fairly stark terms, just about every single time he actually rebuked people, from scathing rebukes to the Pharisees to milder ones like telling Martha to let Mary be or telling Judas not to obsess on the price of perfume, his constant theme was almost always a variation on “Yes, I know the rules, but wake up, there’s an actual person in front of you, and this is an opportunity to show love.”

      If your view was really what we were supposed to take from Jesus, his lessons would have been very different.

      He would have been the first person to stone the adulteress.

      The Good Samaritan would have ridden right past.

      The Prodigal Son would have been turned away.

      For that matter, Mary would have been condemned, Joseph would never have married her, and she very likely should have been stoned to death for being pregnant and unwed.

      But the Bible is only one of many sources for my spiritual reality – and the fact that the Holy Spirit is real and present in my life far outweighs other people’s interpretations of vague parts of the Bible that were never intended to address some of the things people map onto them.

      You say, “My “context” does not give me the right not submit to what God calls me to – a MUCH higher ground than this post shoots for.”

      I can’t speak for you and your experience, but if I approached things the way you say I am supposed to, I would be putting my fingers in my ears and shouting “La, la, la, can’t hear you! I’m reading a book!” to God every day. God’s call to me comes in my heart and mind, not my bookshelf. It would mean turning my back on God, and I’m not willing to do that, certainly not to pacify modern-day Pharisees.

      Your context requires you to submit to what you find God calling you to do. Nobody is questioning that, and the post, if it even addresses that, actually supports the idea of doing what God calls us each to do. However, you seem to be thinking that you get to extend your context onto my life, love, marriage, and relationship, and you completely ignore the possibility that I am a better judge of what God is calling me to do with my own life than you are.

      At mostyou are free to say things like “if I were you, this is the choice I would feel God would want me to make.” But basic civility, if not genuine humility, should lead you to understand that if your underlying personal experience is significantly different from mine, you may not be in a position to put yourself sufficiently in my shoes to know how you would face the choices God puts before me.

      • Matt

        Every book that I read, from my novels for pleasure to my textbooks for school, has a context. You have to read it inside that context or you can never fully appreciate the book you’re reading. Why is the Bible constantly exempt from this? It is a book like any other, it’s an Earthly thing that burns and molds and crumbles and ages. But my relationship with God is eternal, dynamic, and brimming with life.

      • CH

        Lymis (and Matt),

        Do you believe God has revealed himself through his Word? Do the Scriptures have any authority whatsoever? If you don’t believe they do, then we aren’t going to see eye to eye on this.

        I don’t have a relationship with a book, but with Christ. However, Christ has given us a way to know him – through his word. It is how God had chosen to teach us what a relationship with him looks like. I can say I have a relationship with my spouse but if I am not interested in hearing what my spouse has to say to me than I can’t really say I have a relationship. Not a viable one, at least.

        Yes, the Bible has a context. I believe that context to be about a God who is holy, who loves us, who calls those who love him to be holy and set apart from the world. This is a God who is involved and demands our obedience. ALL throughout Scripture we are called to OBEY. To humble ourselves before an Almighty God. In fact, those who do not obey God but who do what they think is right in and of themselves are called enemies of God. It is only those who obey who are called friends of God. Jesus said, “you are my friend IF you do what I command…” (John 15:14). How do we know what he commands?

        So yes, we have a context – God calls us to be holy. And he also calls us to commend and rebuke and correct those in the household of faith. Paul warns us to watch out for those who teach contrary to the doctrine taught – to avoid them. “for such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites….” (Rom. 16:18).

        It is hard not to walk away from a post like this and many of the comments and wonder who God really is? Is God just our own appetite and whatever I feel is justified and “right in my own eyes” is OK with God? What other sins are OK so long as we have good reason to commit them?

        • Melody

          If you believe the Bible is our only source of truth on God, thenyou’ve got nothing. If you knew anything about the context in which the Bible’s passages were written, you wouldn’t cling so much to your narrow definition of God. Jesus did not command what the Hebrew scriptures or Paul said. He commanded only what is written in the gospels. Thanks for playing; you lose.

          • CH

            Melody,

            Let’s assume for a moment that you are correct and I don’t know Jesus, but you, however, do. What do you think would attract me to Jesus if all I had to go on was your words to me? You don’t even know me yet have attacked me from the word go. It’s obvious to me that you have a lot of anger – probably having been hurt by people in the church. I’m very sorry that happened. But how are you showing the love you feel was not shown by the people you now so hastily and vehemently dismiss?

            I pray you find the peace you seek and desire.

          • Elizabeth

            Let’s see. Casting out money changers in Matthew 21:12. Cursing a fig tree for not bearing fruit in Matthew 21:19 and Mark 11:14. Making water into wine as His first miracle after *only* three days of drinking in John 2:3-11. Choosing to be crucified by age 33.

            Jesus is love, sure, but he is also, demonstrably, impatience. Melody is impatient, too. “’In truth I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt at all, not only will you do what I did to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be pulled up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. And if you have faith, everything you ask for in prayer, you will receive.” Matthew 21:21-22, NJB.

            My prayer is that Melody continues to speak her mind. People married to the words of the Bible, without anger beside love in their context, are the mountain I’m throwing into the sea.

          • Elizabeth

            *‘

          • Elizabeth

            CH, again with the Pauline theology? Paul wrote a lot of hateful stuff. He was anti-marriage, anti-woman, and pro-slavery, for starters. His epistles are the Biblical equivalent of fundraising letters: targeted, laudatory, and dated. He was a huge influence on later writers, like Augustine of Hippo, but that doesn’t change the fact that Paul’s views were markedly different from what Christ taught.

            So, if we could get back to, you know, Jesus for a minute. …Mark gives us the most direct access because it was the first Gospel written. The writers of Matthew, Luke, and John all used Mark as a source. As a text, it’s considered unsophisticated and untheological. It’s raw. It’s angular. It’s illogical. There’s no genealogy or divine birth. It’s just Isaac, John the Baptist, and in walks Jesus from Nazareth, hearing freaking voices from heaven.

            The parable of the fig tree has confounded Biblical scholars for centuries. It’s the most jarring example in Mark of a man-god who is demanding, decisive, and arbitrary. The most helpful approach I found in “understanding” Mark is postmodern literary theory. The critical theorists were obsessed, and I studied with one. We spent all of Michaelmas term just on Mark. I recommend reading Northrop Frye, Gabriel Josopovici, and Jacques Derrida. If you want to figure it out on your own, untainted by theory, get acquainted with a multiple-translation parallel Bible. Mine has the NRSV, REV, NAB, and NRB with the apocryphal and deuterocanonical books. (It cost a fortune, it would be $400 to replace, and I bought it with my own money.) I keep the traditional KJV next to it. It’s really handy, in this sort of discussion, to trace the evolution of Biblical Jesus in a line-by-line comparison.

            Any more insight on the fig tree? Probably not. Sigh. I’ve studied it twenty years, and it’s still a conundrum.

          • CH

            Elizabeth,

            Coming out the other side of 7 years of bible and theological education, including seminary, I put little stock in “Q” theory and I don’t hold to your dismissal of Paul. I think you are in error to place yourself above the canon of Scripture because you feel yourself to be more enlightened than Paul. I also disagree with your characterization of him.

            Regarding the fig tree, the best I have heard on it comes from a sermon by Carter Conlon of Times Square Church. I couldn’t find the link to the audio at present but here is a snippet:

            Just preceding our opening Scripture (Mark 11:22), Jesus had cursed a fig tree that had an appearance of fruitfulness but was actually barren. He had come to what was a type of religion, a type of a relationship with God. He looked for life on it, but there was none. The fig tree represents everything within us that has no ability to let the power and strength of Jesus be manifested through us to others—everything in us that hinders, everything that does not represent the life of God, all that falls short of His glory. Remember, it was fig leaves that Adam and Eve used to cover themselves in the Garden of Eden. You and I have the power in Christ to curse this—to speak to this area in our own hearts and say, “No longer will you govern me.”

            “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:23). Jesus said we have the authority to speak not only to the fig tree but also to the mountain. The mountain is the soil—that which gives life and allows things that do not represent God to survive. We have the power to cast into the sea everything that feeds this powerlessness and allows God look-alikes to flourish in our lives. We can cast them away and expect God to replace them with what we need to glorify Him on the earth.

            In other words, whatever the devil has said you cannot do, whatever your own heart says will never change, whatever fear there is within you—that is the mountain. That is where you must stand and say, “I do not believe the lie—I believe what Jesus has spoken. Today I speak to this mountain, and I command it in the name of Jesus Christ to be cast away from me and planted in the midst of the sea!”

            It is time to have faith in God. It is time to pray and expect the Lord to answer. Oh, what an hour to rise up and be the Church again! What an hour to go into the prayer closet with boldness despite all our weaknesses and come out with the strength of God. What an hour to have a clear mind, a clean heart, a fresh vision for the future, new strength that comes from God alone. What an hour to be equipped with the power of God.

          • Diana A.

            Oh, so because you’ve been to seminary, that makes you God. Okay. You’ll pardon me if I wait for the real thing before I bow down and worship, right?

          • Elizabeth

            He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word.” (Mark 4:15) The ability to interpret words on a page for myself is the whole point of the Reformation and my education. My area of study was the Bible as Literature. If God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, He can write a book worth reading by anyone. I did not study “Q” theory, just literary theory.

            Eh, Paul’s all right. He didn’t get struck blind, start spreading the Gospel, and change Western civilization because God didn’t like him. He requires context, though. A lot of context.

            As far as my personal context goes, I used to walk by the Times Square Church every day on my way to work. If their advertising is to be believed — a big “if” in Times Square — they are welcoming to a Unitarian degree. It’s well done, but generic. I wouldn’t reference them in a serious theological discussion. Not if you’re a fan of Paul.

          • Elizabeth

            And please, tell us where you graduated seminary. My degree is from Sarah Lawrence. My Oxford don was at Corpus Christi. I was accepted at (but did not attend) Union Theological.

          • CH

            Elizabeth,

            I agree – Paul requires a lot of context (as do all the biblical writers). I hope we can agree though that it is THEIR context that matters, not MINE. By this I mean, I can’t just interpret them based on me and my feelings today. I do believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and not just some other book by Homer. It’s not just a piece of literature, it’s God’s word. It has revolutionized my life and saved me from much. I stake my life on it.

            With that said, placing Paul in his context renders attacks of him as being anti-marriage, anti-women, and pro-slavery to nothing. If you have studied his context and the culture around him than you ought to know Paul was actually making some earth-shaking claims that were far more liberal and ahead of his day than most could take (thus the reason many wanted him dead, just like Jesus).

          • CH

            Duke Divinity

          • Lymis

            “Paul requires a lot of context (as do all the biblical writers). ”

            I thought context was a bad thing.

          • CH

            I agree – Paul requires a lot of context (as do all the biblical writers). I hope we can agree though that it is THEIR context that matters, not MINE. By this I mean, I can’t just interpret them based on me and my feelings today.

            If you want to quote me, lymis, do so, but get it all.

          • Elizabeth

            I turned down Duke as an undergrad, but it is ‘the Yale of the South.’ Thumbs up.

            Paul and I have been wrestling, metaphorically, a very long time. I don’t accept his canonical placement at the same level as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Period. God “inspires” millions of people. We could say He’s inspiring us right now to have this debate. Jesus’ first spoken words in Mark are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.” At some point, you heed the deeper message of the gospel, or you fuck around wasting time on the Paul’s proscriptions.

            Paul would not approve of my using the word ‘fuck’. My head is also uncovered.

          • Elizabeth

            Mentally delete the ‘the’ in the third-to-last sentence, if you would be so kind.

          • Dana

            Elizabeth, Jesus did not curse the fig tree because he was impatient, hungry and there was no fruit on it. We see throughout the gospels that Jesus denied his flesh to the point of fasting for 40 days, and praying until he sweat drops of blood. If you know the background on this particular fig tree, it bore fruit year round. When this fig tree had no fruit on it, it was not doing what it was designed to do; therefore, it was “cursed” by it’s creator. Though most of these points are not the main point of the passage, they are little “nuggets of truth” that we can still learn from.

          • CH

            Elizabeth,

            Jesus exhibited righteous anger and did not sin while doing so. Calling someone an “idiot,” or “sick” or “sadistic” or saying you hope they don’t have children and pitying them if you do is not righteous anger but simply rude.

            We need a whole lot less of people speaking their own mind and more Christians striving to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2) and being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12).

          • Diana A.

            Good idea. You go first. Or is it more fun to preach than to practice?

        • Diana A.

          And how do we know what kind of relationship you have with your spouse? We don’t, do we, because we are on the outside looking in. Well, you don’t know what kind of relationship someone else has with God either. So what gives you the right to judge?

          • CH

            Diane,

            If the commenters here were claiming to love their spouse while in the same breath tell me they dont care about what he or she has to say, i would judge that they are off base, and rightly so, dont you think? In the same way, saying you love God while showing contempt for his Word exposes a serious flaw on the supposed relationship.

          • Elizabeth

            Cool! Diana A can hold her own, theologically. Nice of you to pop up questioning single women’s ability to love someone, though. Oh, that’s right. We don’t love God properly so we don’t earn a mate. That’s our problem.

          • Diana A.

            Assuming that one believes that the bible is God’s word, God’s whole word and nothing but God’s word. Not all of us believe that. And again, who died and made you the Judge Over All the Earth.

          • CH

            I do believe it is God’s Word, Diana. You do not? Are you a Christian? If so, how do you reconcile the fact that Jesus gave authority to all of Scripture? He quoted the OT all the time. How do you decide which parts are authoritative and which are not? Do you just throw out anything that is difficult or displeasing to you?

            Who died and made YOU the authority over Scripture?

          • Diana A.

            Jesus is God’s Word. The bible is not God’s Word but points to him.

            As to your other questions, God is my judge. You are not God. Thus, your opinion is completely irrelevant.

          • CH

            Is that true of ALL opinions, Diana? Or just mine?

          • Melody

            That is true of anyone who.has the audacity.to say that the Bible is our only source of morality and understanding of God. I would think, that if you had seven years of seminary (and not at a diploma mill), then you.would be more open to varying views of.theology, and not cling so tightly to your own. I think you do so out of fear that your faith might fall apart, not.because you know it to be true. The fact that you’re so defensive toward other readers here (and completely ignoring my more rational comments) ,indicates that you’re afraid to.question anything. I know you don’t like being called a fundamentalist, but your rhetoric is becoming increasingly indicative of a fundamentalist theology. This is evidenced by your insistence that.every single part of the biblical canon is directly from God, and that Paul’s letters are unequivocally God’s word, simply because they’re in the.Bible. That’s circular reasoning: “The Bible is inspired by God because the Bible says so.” Same with the Quran. You don’t have a case.

          • Melody

            I wrote this before seeing that you went to Duke. Since you went there, I would think.you would have learned to be more open-minded and have a more teachable spirit. So far, you.have struck down any attempts by others here, however civil, to reason with you. I hope you learn to think for yourself someday, and not just cling desperately to childhood teachings that can’t be proven.

          • CH

            I’m sorry, Melody, but that is just hypocritical. You (and Diana) are essentially saying that all opinions that don’t agree with you are irrelevant. I ought to listen to you and heed your opinion (and I don’t I’m just a fundie sicko) but anything I have to say, so long as I have the audacity to uphold the authority of Scripture, is scoffed at. I’ve never seen so many self-professing Christians so openly and gleefully mock the Bible and anyone who submits to it as God’s Word.

            And you have to wonder why I am choosing not to respond to your comments?

          • CH

            Melody,

            Should I learn what a teachable spirit is from you?

          • Melody

            No, that is NOT what I said. You are deliberately twisting my words. And I even apologized to you for my uglier.posts. It is clear that you are not here to learn or have a productive discussion, but to play the martyr and impose your obstinate views toward us. I have tried everything to get you to reexamine your narrow views, but to no avail, due to your stubbornness and martyr syndrome. I know that’s what you are, because I used to be like you. I used to believe the same way you do. I just hope that someday you will overcome your fear and obstinacy, and actually read and listen to what people tell you. In the mean time, I’m done trying to reason with you, because right now, you’re unreasonable. Goodbye.

          • Elizabeth

            Seriously, CH, if you don’t stop picking on Diana and Melody, I’m going to climb through the Internet and show you “teachable spirit.” You’ve made John’s significant, important post on LGBT rights all about you. That’s fine; he can take it. HOWEVER, once I tell you a commenter has my personal blessing, you best pay attention.

          • Melody

            Way to go, Elizabeth! You rock, sister! Don’t try to get CH to pay attention or think critically; it’s futile. All s/he cares about is having the correct beliefs and never questioning anything. We know what really matters here.

          • Elizabeth

            Melody, baiting Biblical trolls is my idea of fun. It’s a sickness, really. *high five*

          • Diana A.

            Pretty much all opinions. However, I’m more inclined to listen to people who have demonstrated their own ability to listen than I am to listen to those who just want to tell other people how bad, wrong, and stupid they are.

          • DR

            I’m desperately hoping and praying you don’t have any children who are gay or that you simply make a choice to stay far away from children who are gay. I’m really asking – I’m sorry if that sounds harsh or hurts you. But you’ve no idea how destructive you are and I just can’t clean up the mess with these kids any longer – the mess you make and are either unwilling to face or incapable of facing.

          • DR

            No answer from CH when it’s a more personal plea regarding the actual emotional, spiritual and physical welfare of gay kids. People like CH refuse to engage when they have to deal with the *impact* of their theological construct. Not surprised. Always disappointed, always. But sadly (with a sick pit in my stomach), not surprised.

          • Elizabeth

            This. A very tired thumbs up.

          • Jill

            I’m going to have to comb through this when I have more time, because frankly I got lost in the rhetorical bullshit from people like CH who obviously just show up here to claim their brilliant certitude, throw verses around, and play “I’m more righteous than you”. This was exactly the reason why I left the whole thing behind in 17 years ago.

            I can see I still haven’t developed the stomach for it. They give Christianity the bad rap it has in a lot of places. It’s making me question what I’m trying to do.

            There are more like CH out there then there are like DR, Elizabeth, Lymis, Melody. I don’t want to show up randomly at a new church, as I have made a promise I would try, and meet another CH and find it’s a church full of the self-righteous. IDK.

          • Diana A.

            It’s a difficult thing, Jill. And unfortunately, finding a good church is just like finding a good therapist–you may have to try a lot before you buy.

            I do advise that you check out the more gay-friendly churches first. While a church being gay-friendly is no guarantee that there won’t be sanctimonious jerks who attend, it may cut down on the likelihood of those people having any real influence. Within the UMC banner, these churches are called “Reconciling Congregations” and you can find them here: http://www.rmnetwork.org/get-connected/find-a-church/

            Here is Canyon Walkers’s page to link to Welcoming Church Programs and Ministries: http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/welcoming-church-programs/

            Again, no guarantees, but at least it gives you a place to start.

          • Elizabeth

            Jill, I stopped going to ‘my’ church, the Congregation of St. Saviour at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, for almost ten years. I tried going to random churches in New York. I found the same pablum-level theology at elegant edifices on the Upper East Side as I do walking into Bethel Holy Church to donate my clothes, and, frankly, the Pentecostal outreach mission has better music.

            My advice is to invest the time researching the church’s ideology before you go. If it makes you uncomfortable during your initial visit, walk out. In the middle of a sermon is always dramatic.

            When you find a church that meets your standards, embrace it. Shake the minister’s hand every Sunday. Drink Kool-Aid and play with the kids. Go to the potlucks and the night classes and the blessing of animals on St. Stephen’s Day.

            I missed church. I didn’t know how much until I went back. They remembered me, too.

          • DR

            She doesn’t care. It’s so awful to face that reality.

          • Jill

            Diana A, sorry I can’t reply on your thread. I will definitely look into this–thank you very much.

            I was in flashback mode for much of this diatribe, and my emotions were spilling through the cracks. I will shop, but carefully. I’ve been lucky with therapists–not so much with Christian churches. :)

        • Lymis

          ” Is God just our own appetite and whatever I feel is justified and “right in my own eyes” is OK with God? “

          and earlier

          “However, I certainly cannot in good faith condone an attitude of “everything is OK so long as you have good reason to do it.”

          This seems to be your recurring theme – and it’s a cheat, and a not so subtle one, at that. I suspect you know that.

          You’re making the usual black and white, either/or, all-or-nothing choice that a lot of people say that they believe in (and somehow, never actually do – how do you feel about shellfish?)

          You also lump all the reasons and context into a single dismissive idea like “as long as you can justify it in your own eyes” and “as long as you have a good reason.”

          I’m not seeing anyone claiming that “anything is okay.” Certainly not John. I know I’m not.

          And not all reasons are the same, no matter how much you want them to be so you are justified condemning your neighbor. You imply that the only reasons anyone would set aside a (mistranslated, out of context, 4000 year old, pre-scientific) interpretation of a Biblical verse is pure selfishness.

          But actual people – you know, those neighbors Jesus clearly makes more important than slavishly following rules – are actually being deliberately, systematically harmed by the actions of people who are taking it on themselves to act for God – God being so impotent and all, and needing that sort of help.

          Not all reasons are created equal, but there’s something particularly vile about dismissing “It doesn’t harm anyone, it is the natural expression of deep human love for some people, and denying it to them diminishes their lives, lessens them as people, and contributes to cutting them off from God, their families, and the community” as simply “making up some justification that serves your own urges.”

          But while you are weaponizing your favorite Bible quotes, have you given any serious thought to how the parable of the sheep and goats applies to you? How are you prepared to deal with facing Jesus when he says “I was gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered, and you condemned me and justified keeping me from love, from the same rights you took for granted, and worked publicly to cut me off from love and from my own understanding of my relationship to my Father.”?

          • CH

            Lymis,

            I believe most of your objections are answered in my last comment to David S.

          • Lymis

            No, you did the standard dodge, and it’s deeply offensive, both AS a dodge and that you think we’re stupid enough to buy it.

            In response to a post of John’s specifically about the condemnation and eternal damnation of gay people simply for being gay, you post at enormous length that you can’t see claiming everything is okay just because we can come up with a good reason for it.

            Then when you are called on the blatant homophobia of that stance – it is inescapable in this context that you are condemning ALL homosexual couples, ALL gay sex, and ALL gay love – you then try to pull the “Oh, gosh golly willikers! Why, I never said a thing about gay people! Why, I don’t even have an opinion on them! I most certainly don’t judge them! However could you have gotten that impression, you nasty, nasty judgmental people?”

            Hogwash. Or, more accurately, bullshit. If your intention wasn’t to specifically condemn homosexuality, you never would have joined this discussion, and if you actually had anything resembling actual reservations about whether your condemnation applied to loving gay couples, you would have raised that point far earlier, and far more clearly.

            In a discussion specifically about the condemnation of homosexuality, you claimed that you can’t accept context as a justification for setting aside any Biblical condemnations of people’s behavior.

            It is a flat out lie to then try to backpedal and claim you weren’t talking about gay people. You dismissed my relationship with my God, condemned my relationship with my husband, invalidated the lived experience of millions of your fellow Christians and human beings, and then when called on the bigotry you yourself raised, tried to hide behind the fact that you never actually said you were talking about gay people.

            Well, what the flip were we supposed to assume you were condemning? Jaywalking? Eating shellfish? Lycra?

            Give us a break.

          • CH

            As i said, lymas, why would i be convinced you are right?

            Sorry to have offended you so badly.

          • Lymis

            No, you aren’t. You’re tickled that you have done so. It’s what you came here for.

          • DR

            Exactly. It’s so gross. :/

          • Elizabeth

            Excellent. I like Lymis, too. Don’t you want to continue your indefensible defense of Paul? You’re posing questions to the best commenters on John’s blog, and you don’t have the bona fides.

          • Oz in OK

            “As i said, lymas, why would i be convinced you are right?”

            It’s pretty clear, despite all the compelling testimony offered here, that you not only are not convinced, but you will remain unconvinced.

            You’ve made your points – as distasteful and offensive as they are – and have continued to pound away at the ‘context isn’t involved when it comes to LGBT folk’ meme – and please don’t waste everyone’s time by denying it (though I’m sure you’ll deny it anyway) – that has woven its’ way through every word you’ve posted.

            Your points have been weighed, and found wanting – not by some strict literalistic interpretation of scripture – but by the life experiences of the people who have posted here (and no doubt many, many more who won’t even deign to enter this so-called ‘debate’).

          • Lymis

            You want the Biblical view of gang rape, see the Sodom and Gomorrah story.

            You want the Biblical view of straight people holding same-sex orgies, on ritual temple prostitution and the involuntary use of young children as sexual slaves, see the Pauline writings.

            You want the Biblical support of incest as a mechanism for populating a planet, see the Adam and Eve and Noah stories.

            But you want the Biblical view of same-sex love and marriage?

            See 1 John.

            For love is of God, and anyone who loves is born of God and knows God, for God is love. And if you can’t see that, if you don’t know love when you see it, then you don’t know love, and you don’t know God. Or at the very least, you are choosing to close your eyes to an opportunity to see God in the lives and loves of your neighbors.

            If you can’t, then shut up about it and don’t spew your judgement and narrow-minded condemnation all over people who are open to the God presented to us in the New Testament.

          • Elizabeth

            I memorized exactly two Bible verses in 38 years. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) and “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). John (Shore, that is) once told me those were enough. They are.

          • CH

            Im not surprised, Elizabeth.

            , it is not Shore, but God, who we ought to be trying to please.

            Its God we will be accountable to, and i dont think He is pleased with our willful snubbing of his revelation

          • Melody

            Neither is he pleased with your willful snubbing of what Jesus actually told you to do. You DO put your faith in a book, not Jesus. Until you can prove that the Bible is God’s revelation and THE source of truth without simply saying “Because it says so,” your over-the-top, outrageous statements will continue to be ripped apart here. Give it up. You’re not changing anyone’s mind. Go back to Sharper Iron or whatever your favorite progressive-bashing sites. I’m not going to attempt to be civil with you anymore. You don’t deserve it, since you won’t show us the same courtesy.

          • CH

            Melody,

            How have i snubbed Jesus? Please, show me where. As for civility, i have not demeaned anyone or insulted anyone. You cant say the same.

            All i have done is speak truth according not to my authority but Scripture. If this upsets you perhaps you should take your complaint to God. I wont apologize for having convictions rooted in scripture as well as history. All you have in comparison are your feelings (which are not trustworthy) and your gang of friends here. And, the lack of charity shown by the lot of you reveals a complete lack of the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said we will know his own by the fruit in their lives.

          • Lymis

            “How have I snubbed Jesus?”

            Well, honestly, “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, that you have done to me” comes to mind.

            Yes, you most definitely have insulted and demeaned a lot of people. In response to a post about the question of whether homosexuality automatically condemns someone to hell, when John’s answer was “context,” your answer to that was “Not so fast, I don’t think you can justify not condemning every gay person and gay relationships throughout all of human history by allowing context to enter the discussion.”

            That isn’t demeaning? Or insulting? You’ve insulted millions of people you’ve never even met – and not only insulted us, but called even the possibility of our having a loving relationship with another persona and a loving relationship with God at the same time into question.

            On the other hand, if you feel insulted by what people have said in response to your unloving stand, check a mirror. You have a plank in your eye.

          • Melody

            Truth? Pfft. You can’t handle the truth. You think it’s the truth because somebody told you that in Sunday School. Not because you know it. Stop conflating your opinion with fact. It is unprovable, so stop trying to say something unprovable is absolute truth.

            Jesus said to give everything to the poor. He said to take the log out of your own eye before pointing out the speck in others’. I can tell you take great joy in pointing out the specks in others eyes, while completely blind to the arrogance and condescension of your own statements. You have no right to tell us what God has revealed. You aren’t Jesus. You aren’t a prophet. You don’t know any more about God or Jesus than anyone else here. If anything, I’d say most of the readers here follow Jesus more closely than you. All you follow is a legalistic, Pharisaical version made up by fundamentalists, since you clearly care more about what Paul says than what Jesus says. It’s okay, at least we see through your passive-aggressive, denialist comments. You think you can do no wrong, and that everyone here is wrong except you. Talk about a superiority complex. You’re just butthurt because we called you out on your hypocrisy. Don’t blame us; blame yourself for being so arrogant and not holding yourself accountable for the damage you do in the name of your beliefs. You are turning people away from Christianity, not because you’re “speaking the truth” (which you aren’t), but because of your utter lack of humility, compassion, and empathy.

          • Melody

            And with that, I am officially done interacting with you. Feel free to slam me all you want if it makes you feel better, but you won’t get the satisfaction of pissing me off anymore. I won’t be feeding the troll any longer. Adios.

          • CH

            Lymis,

            Youve put words in my mouth. If you read what i actually wrote, youll see i never said such a thing. I said this was a poor argument and unconvincing. I said, explicitly, it is never right to oppress or insult gays or anyone, no matter what.

            But yes, the idea that so long as YOU have good reason you can violate Gods laws, is a sad commentary on the state of christianity today. It does you no good if you are trying to convert others to affirm you in the faith.

            Gay christians everywhere, However, should rejoice that there are far more faithful, biblical arguments that address their cause as well as blogs and groups who exhibit far more Christlikeness than i have seen here. If this were the only place i could come to see if indeed gay people have “received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (see Acts 17), i would be sorely disappointed.

          • Lymis

            Trust me, if your words here are any indication of what you think it means to have received the Holy Spirit, I’m perfectly content to not serve as an example of it.

            If you’re looking for reinforcement of the kind of smug self-assured condemnation of others that drips off your writing, I’m perfectly content to continue to disappoint you.

            When you start your interaction with someone with the proposition that “I refuse to acknowledge that there might be any justification for saying you’re not damned to hell for all eternity,” you can reasonably expect just a tad bit of resistance to the concept. You might keep that in mind for the future.

          • Elizabeth

            My memorization skills are secondary since I can read very well. May I suggest you work on that?

          • Elizabeth

            And, you do know the Book of Revelation was written by a different John, correct? Honestly, the Duke education isn’t really showing in your discourse today.

          • Melody

            Right on, Elizabeth. It reads like someone who went to a church-basement Bible “college.” No critical thinking involved, just unproven absolutes, and defensiveness when challenged to think. Waaahhhh!!!

          • Elizabeth

            “Hi, my name is CH. I provide no photo and no real name. My Duke education left me with the reasoning ability of a fruit fly and shameful manners for a Southern lady. PLEASE listen to me about the Bible, tho! I went to seminary.”

          • Elizabeth

            My name is, by the way, Elizabeth Fullerton. Any and all of you may friend me on Facebook. That’s where I’m *really* inappropriate.

          • Melody

            Just one problem: There are, like, 10 Elizabeth Fullers! Which one are you?

          • Elizabeth

            It’s Fullerton, and there are a zillion. (Not the actual number.) My photo has blonde hair over my left eye, and I live in New York. You can message me if you’re unsure. I’ll make myself public until I hear from you!

          • Melody

            Hmm…the only one from NY is from Rochester, and she has a cat on her profile! Do you have two other pictures of a blonde person on yours? (Sorry to keep prying, I just can’t figure out which one is you!)

          • Elizabeth

            Sorry, Melody. I really did walk away from the Internet and read Mark. My email address is elizabeth.fullerton@gmail.com. Please email me, and we’ll figure out how to be Facebook friends. Also, LOL at Rochester and the cat lady. I definitely live in Manhattan sans cats.

          • DR

            Then you should beg Him for Mercy for what you’ve done to the gay community – particularly gay children – for them BARELY surviving your “theology” as well as the “church” you’ve created that they are terrified of and run from because of how you pervert our beautiful and Holy Scriptures as you use them to validate and control the world you are simply more comfortable remaining homophobic.

            And I know, CH – it’s everyone *else’s* fault that gay kids feel completely condemned and abandoned by God, that they never feel worthy enough or holy enough based on you telling them that’s what the Bible says. It’s *anyone* other than you – wait, it’s the kids THEMSELVES that are actually at fault because they just don’t understand, right? Regardless, your hands are clean. Right? No culpability, right?

            It’s so sick, offensive and evil, what you people who believe this do to gay kids. They barely survive you. They will never entertain Jesus, going to Church, etc. And to you? It’s more important that you twist a few verses around to ensure they apply today, a way of interpreting scripture that you can’t even justify.

            Shame on you. I’ve taken to pray for those of you so I can sleep at night, for how brazenly and willfully unconscious you choose to remain to the actual impact of your choices of what to believe. It’s the only thing that helps me even stay remotely civil with those of you who retain this ugly, vicious abuse in the name of Jesus.

          • Melody

            DR, I think you said it better than I ever could. Of course, she’ll just go martyr on you and accuse you of mocking God, because she doesn’t hold herself accountable. But I applaud you and others for standing up to her irrational attacks and standing for what matters. (Given her first initial, I have a feeling she might not be so new around here.) I just hope she’ll come to her senses someday and truly understand the negative impact her kind of theology has on the world. I know I did.

          • Elizabeth

            You could start with John’s blog. He’s very tolerant of misfits. You’re probably not ready for Frye, Josopovici, and Derrida.

          • DR

            CH was looking for an excuse to leave.

          • Elizabeth

            Sigh. I always hope I can reach the self-professed intellectual ones.

          • DR

            Me too. Always hopeful. Never surprised when it doesn’t happen.

    • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

      By that hard-line, no excuses, no exceptions standard, there are situations where *any* choice would be a sin. If a parent steals bread to feed a hungry child, letting the child starve would also be a sin. So would prostituting yourself to feed the child, or breaking other laws to do so.

      If we assume that God is just, how is it that we can be put in situations where there is no possible non-sinful answer?

      If you believe that there’s a better way in every possible situation, then please, share it. How do you avoid lying *and* avoid hurting the grandmother who knit the ugly sweater? How do you avoid stealing *and* fulfill your duty to your child?

      • CH

        Hi Kelly,

        Good questions. I would respond by backing up a bit first. Who are we created to serve and honor? God, right? My duty and obligation is to serve God and bring God glory. Jesus said if you love your mother, father or child more than he you are not fit for the kingdom of God. Hard words. They don’t mesh well in our placating, politically correct, “just love everyone,” culture. In such an environment we have reduced God to just a grandmother who needs to feel good about herself and her knitting.

        My response for the grandma is simple: I speak the truth in love, or, as Scripture also commands, bite my tongue and say nothing. I don’t have to say I “love it.” I can be kind and thank her for the time she took to make it. I can tell her how thoughtful it was. All of that would be true.

        My duty to my children is to point them to God, not to their belly. By your question it could almost be taken that you feel any parent who does not steal to feed their hungry kids is a sinner, yes? By this at least we are in agreement that there is sin – and there is a God who cares about sin, am I assuming correctly?

        As a parent, I can’t say for sure what I would do as I am blessed and have not been in that situation. I know some who have, however. I know people who would choose to die than to break God’s commands. Life has become an idol for so many of us, particularly those of us living in America. We seem to believe that the preservation of life and happiness, at any cost (even if it means disobeying God) is the highest good. God calls all of that idolatry. He hates it. Of course, it’s one reason Paul says if this life is all we have to hope for than we are most to be pitied.

        I would rather die with dignity and knowing I and my family were bowing our very lives to God than to live with a full belly. I pray that God would give me the courage and the will to follow through with such a desire – it’s one I feel is God-given, because it certainly doesn’t come from the human heart.

        • David S

          In my view, you are trying to make God small. You are trying to fit him into the neat little box of beliefs based on your very human understanding. God is bigger than that. Self proclaimed bible-believing Christians do not have a monopoly on believing the Bible. And the way God has revealed himself to you, in your very specific cultural context, is not the only way He can (or should) reveal Himself to others. Why do you presume that those who believe differently than you are not sacrificing? Loving ones neighbor is hard (especially when some of my neighbors are trying to harm me). God is working in all of our lives. Do you believe that? Or have the rest of us rejected Christ because we do not see things your way?

          • CH

            David,

            What have I said that leads you to believe I think those who believe differently than I are not sacrificing? They may very well be. However, given what I have seen thus far here, and many of the comments, seem to suggest that anything or anyone who dares to claim God is holy and demands obedience is labeled a “fundie” and written off in favor of a more tolerant, loving, “God is whatever I feel like” sort of notion. Am I the only one seeing that?

            Yes, I believe God is at work. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world convicting of sin and drawing people to Jesus. And that can look like a number of things. But that does not change the fact that God has revealed himself in a specific way and demands that those who love him obey him and be distinguishable from the world. He commands that we repent and turn from the sin of the world and the pride of our hearts and submit to him. Those whom God is working in will show a heart felt desire to please him and heed his correction, for God disciplines those whom God loves and are his children.

            How is that making God small? It is honoring him as Lord and Savior of my life. It is recognizing him as BIG and that his ways are far higher than my own. I see the opposite here – I see people suggesting that God just wants me to be happy and that whatever makes ME happy, makes God happy. That is nothing more than making ME BIG, and God very small, IMO.

          • Melody

            Restricting your belief in God to what the Bible says is making God very small. God is much bigger than the Bible. To suggest that something is sinful simply because the Bible says so is at best a very weak statement that opens itself up to instant tearing apart. I’m sorry I was harsh earlier, but I get tired of people not questioning the teachings they’ve always assumed are true. Besides, your English Bible is not the original Bible. Unless you know the original Greek (which does not translate “homosexuals”; the term wasn’t invented until the turn of the 20th century, when Freud coined it. There was no such term before then.), then you can’t fairly say the Bible is clear on homosexuality. It’s not.

            As for the other comments, if you are truly loving and follow Jesus, then I’ll take your word for it. But based on your original comment, I find your theology disturbing. Maybe i misunderstood, but it looks pretty legalistic. I hope I’m wrong.

          • DR

            When did you choose to be straight?

          • David S

            Well, CH, let me answer you question with a question: Through scripture, prayer and experience, God has led me to believe that gay relationships are not sinful. I committed myself in marriage to a wonderful man. Would you accept that I am following God or would you insist that I am ignoring His commands? If the former, then I misjudged your remarks.

            I’ve been having conversations similar to this one for decades. From the language that you use, my sense is that you subscribe to a very narrow set of conservative beliefs. If I am correct, you believe that the Bible is absolutely clear about the sinfulness of homosexuality and any number of other issues. And, my guess is that, in your view, because I do not see gay relationships as sinful, and because I have an intimate relationship with a man I adore, then I must not know Christ – I am not “repent[ing] and turn[ing] from the sin of the world and the pride of [my] heart and submit[ting]to him.” My guess is that, in your view, if I truly knew Christ, I would be convicted of my sin rather than being an unrepentant sinner. If I am making false assumptions, I am both sorry about my misunderstanding and thrilled that I am wrong.

            However, if my assumptions are correct, then you have indeed tried to minimize God. Who are you, or me, or anyone else to pretend that we have God all figured out? Doesn’t Paul remind us that we see dimly in this life? Can’t you admit that the Bible is rarely absolutely clear on anything other than how we are to treat one another? Is your faith so fragile that it can’t withstand disagreement or mystery? Must you judge those who believe differently than you do – replacing your judgment for God’s? Can you really insist that “God had revealed himself in a specific way” for everyone just because that’s the way you understand Him? And where did your understanding come from? Was it our evangelical tradition?

            And do you, obstensibly in the name of Christ Himself, endorse the continued mistreatment and oppression of people who are gay and their families? Really – do you condone the continued harm of gay people in Christ’s name? For you, is that an example of what makes Christians “distinguishable from the world?”

          • CH

            David,

            Thank you for your inviting comment. I appreciate your openness to understand where I am coming from. If you will notice I have not made any mention about homosexuality in a single comment. That wasn’t my beef (nor is it still). My hang-up is with a post and comments which once the fluffy narrative is removed boils down to this main point: MY context determines what is sin or not. I believe that attitude itself is evidence of our sinful bent and prideful hearts. It’s an air of arrogance and one the questions, “Did God really say?…” It is the age-old lie that if we are all not careful we can easily fall prey to. WE are not the authority of what is deemed sinful. God is. And God’s Word is very clear on many matters and claims to be totally sufficient for all matters of life and godliness (thus I take exception to your claim that the Bible is rarely clear on anything but how to treat others – I think it is quite clear on a number of things, namely, that God is God and we are not and that God is holy and calls us to the same. As Jesus said, many people will treat others kindly (giving them food to eat, shelter, visiting them in prison) yet they will be unknown to him. Another thing Scripture is quite clear about is that only those who obey and fear God are considered his friends.

            With regards to your question about what I believe about gay people, the honest answer is I don’t know. I have many dear friends who are gay and Christian and in committed relationships. I love them. I don’t judge them (nor you) and no, it’s never right to mistreat others or be oppressive (please understand, however, that calling someone to repentance is not mistreating them but loving them – if I shake my friend by the shoulders who is cheating on his partner and tell him he is in sin I am not oppressing him, agreed?)

            If I can be vulnerable here for a moment, allow me to say this: As one who has been labeled here as a “fundie” or a “conservative” or even “sick,” let me say how strange it sounds to me to be called that by Christians simply because I believe God’s Word to be God’s Word and I strive to submit to it. It’s very odd to be called crazy by other Christians because I think God calls us to be holy and set apart from the world.

            This is why I think John’s post, and the majority of comments, fails to meet the goal of convincing someone like myself that you all are correct. When I see a total disregard for God’s Word as exhibited by most of the commenters here and a total disdain for anyone who does hold to a more “conservative” view (I’m not pointing a finger at you, David, but surely you have seen it here), it makes me question the authenticity of what is said here in defense of LGBTQ’s. This post’s argument, at bare minimum, suggests that lying and stealing are quite alright so long as you have good reason. That argument is not going to fly with those who you all seem to be trying to convert.

            My point is this: If you all want to be heard and believed by us “bible believing wackos” than you might want to consider taking Scripture as seriously if not more than those who you feel are stupid. Telling me, as one commenter did, that you don’t believe God’s Word is God’s Word but just another human document is not going to instill any confidence in me that your position (while passionate and sincere) resembles any sort of truth other than the wisdom of this world.

            blessings to you

          • Melody

            CH, the issue isn’t simply that you believe the Bible is God’s word. If you want to believe that for yourself, that’s fine. The issue is your using the Bibl e to dictate to others what defines morality and all knowledge of God. For example, saying lying is *always* a sin, even to save someone’s life, simply because one verse in the Bible says not to lie to each other, is outrageous. That verse you referenced is specifically referring to a community living in harmony, to not maliciously lie or be secretive. The Bible is not the be-all-end-all of these things. Is it an invaluable source? Absolutely! But is it the only source? Absolutely not.

            With the exception of some comments (for which I apologized), we aren’t attacking you. We’re trying to get you to think outside the box. Just because someone doesn’t believe the Bible is 100% authorized by God and his only word, this does not negate one’s credibility as a Christian. There are many ways to be a Christian, and one doesn’t have to adhere strictly to certain points of theology to be one.

          • David S

            Holy cow, CH. Your responses are impenetrable – they are as arrogant as they are evasive.

            You keep implying that the Bible contains some sort list of moral absolutes, but you have yet to tell me what you believe they are. The closest you got was in setting up your core objection when you said that lying is a sin regardless of the context. That’s absurd on the face of it. Are you arguing that Miep Gies was sinning when she was trying to protect the Frank and Van Pel families?

            You also claim that those who disregard this undefined list of yours are failing to heed God’s call to holiness. You are, quite literally, calling yourself holier-than-thou. But, in fact, this type of moral absolutism makes one less holy. Which is holier: lying to protect the innocent lives of Jewish people, or refusing to lie and giving them up to the Nazis?

            Your argument’s core tenet is equally as absurd. You claim that context has no place in determining the sinfulness of behavior. But, as a Christian, the very act of living out ones faith necessarily requires one to consider the context – i.e., in any given situation, we must discern how to behave in a way that is consistent with the heart of the Bible. Context matters. We must consider both the intent and the impact of our actions – who might get hurt, what choice serves the greater good, what are the unintended consequences? These questions are important. Blindly following this undisclosed list of yours is not seeking God, having faith, and obeying a call to holiness as you suggest; it is an abject failure to consider the impact of your actions, and it is an utter disregard of Jesus’ command to love one another.

            And forgive me if I am incredulous about your claims regarding people who are gay. For someone whose comments drip with moral certitude like yours do, I find it hard to believe that you “don’t know” how you feel about homosexuality. I am skeptical that you endorse marriage for people who are gay. And I doubt very much that you are OK with a gay-affirming theology.

            As for trying to convert you to my way of thinking – that’s not my intent and it’s really odd that you view this dialog through that filter. I’ll freely offer you my perspectives and my experience. Hopefully, they provide something of value for you to think about. But as for the conversion – that’s about as much as I can do; the rest is up to God.

          • CH

            David, i would respond but john has already deleted me once and I’m sure is now moderating, as he does all who question his golden calf. John is not as tolerant to dissenting opinions as he leads you all to believe.

          • DR

            John is not open to allowing oppressive, abusive rhetoric offered in the name of Jesus to stand for too long. Welcome to your new reality where you don’t get the last word on what the Bible *really* says regarding this issue. Or continue having a temper tantrum because you don’t get to express an opinion with proven data that shows you doing so harms gay kids. Consider stepping out of your completely self-absorbed, “I think I’m educated more than everyone else on the Bible even though I’ll only selectively address certain comments where I don’t have to take responsibility for the impact of my expressed views so I can maintain the belief that I’m ‘right’” posture and then perhaps people will trust they can have a sane conversation with you.

          • Melody

            Yeah. Keep blaming everyone but yourself. It has nothing at ALL to do with the fact that you’re a twisted psycho. You’re so good at that. I aspire to your level of perfection, oh holy one.

          • CH

            DR,

            Please show me one oppressive comment from me. Seriously. I’ve never said nor even thought the things you and others attribute to me. Each of you have soundly attacked and insulted me from the beginning. You are not helping your cause whatsoever.

          • Elizabeth

            I didn’t attack you from the beginning. I gave you a chance. I’m unemployed and willing to debate you all day.

          • Elizabeth

            I suggest we start our own thread on the theological topic of your choosing. Scatter-shot commenting all over this post is rude. Pick a dialogue and trust we’ll weigh in. We’re good like that.

          • DR

            That’s your game, CH. You come *just* under the radar with regard to any explicit hostility, it’s all implicit, mostly because you want to maintain the illusion that you’re different from all the “false” Christians here that you’ve intimated are predominantly participating on the blog. It takes a crook to catch a crook, I was you once so I know exactly what you’re doing. The tragedy is that you actually believe we don’t see it.

            Here’s the great thing – once someone like you wanders in and tries to be the “teacher” only to become the student, you never forget it. You’re never going to forget the day you wandered onto John’s blog and people were straight up honest with you about your arrogant disregard for the GLBT community and the way you’re abusing gay kids. By now, you’ve found every way possible to dismiss that reality. But you know what? Scripture says “The heart of the stubborn will never find rest.” You were intended to find this blog but not to teach – to learn. Do it quickly, God’s Mercy is extended for only so long. We’re running out of time.

            Peace to you. Now go learn.

          • Melody

            Once again, DR, I couldn’t have said it better. That was incredible.

          • Jill

            David S you are amazing.

          • David S

            Right back attcha, Jill!

          • Dana

            CH, you aren’t the only one seeing it. I find it equally disturbing to see this. I’m not sure when it became essential to make the Bible and culture coexist to the point of avoiding glaring truths from the scriptures, but evidently there’s a lot of that happening on this site.

          • Jill

            This is why I continue checking the box as ‘undecided’ on Christianity as a Life Path.

            Other faiths (Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) ask me to become the best me I am capable of being, and so these have encouraged me to pursue self-improvement for a greater good (as in, more than just for own happiness). These beliefs have done wonders for my life and those I impact. Not to mention my faith in my Creator that wants to see me living a purposeful life.

            Yet so it seems through the dialog of some Christian adepts, I can only be an adherent if I follow and obey a rigid, immovable context that is seen by other adepts as “faithful”. If I ‘fall short’ (which will apparently be always), I have to keep trying, keep proving.

            If Jesus can only be a part of my life if I prove I’m worth it to him to include me, if I jump through scriptural hoops– that makes me deeply sad and exhausted. Yet I’m being led by spirit to re-investigate this path. I often don’t know where I belong.

          • DR

            The only thing happening on this blog are Christians beginning to stand up against the evil, abusive rhetoric you allow to be sanctioned, taught and passed down and around into the deepest parts of our community. We’re taking the church back, we’re taking the Bible back and we’re not allowing you to have the last word on what it means to be gay in the eyes of the Lord. You need to get used to it. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Melody

      You are an idiot. It’s clear you.care more about rules than about Jesus. You ARE heartless and a sadist. Shame on you.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      Jesus set aside all the cultural taboos of the old covenant, all the complicated rules, and gave us utilitarian principles to use to judge the sinfulness of an action or teaching or belief.

      First principle: Love God with everything you’ve got. Utilitarian concept– if this damages my relationship with God, regardless of whether or not it is forbidden, I should not do this. If this damages the relationship of someone I know to God, I should not encourage this behaviour in that particular person. Paul expands on this with his weaker brother discussions, encouraging those who are weaker brothers not to act as if they are more holy because they observe certain taboos because of their weakness, and encouraging those who are not weak in a particular area not to flaunt their freedom in front of their weaker brother or to tempt him to go outside his own bounds. So, for instance, one shouldn’t drink in front of an alcoholic or encourage him to drink, but the alcoholic should also not act as if he is holier-than-thou to one who drinks.

      Second principle– love your neighbor as you love yourself. Utilitarian idea, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you’re not sure who your neighbor is, Jesus helpfully includes the commandment to love your enemies and do good to those who would hurt you.

      Third principle– don’t judge. Utilitarian idea, when you are judgemental, you open yourself up to being judged in the same way you just did. Being attacked is a consequence of being judgemental.

      Fourth principle– gauge the truthfulness of a belief or teaching by its fruit. Any teaching that bears bad fruit is a bad teaching and should be abandoned and those promulgating such a teaching should be regarded as false prophets. Paul himself talks about the fruit of trying to follow a bunch of rules and regulations for holy living rather than pursuing a relationship with God through Christ– death, condemnation, judgement, and a fall from grace. Those are the fruits of obeying rules rather than seeking God’s heart.

      Simple, utilitarian, scriptural ethics.

      • Jill

        I appreciate this Lyn.

        • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

          Thank you! Blessings on your faith journey.

      • David S

        Lyn – this is beautiful. Truly. Thanks for expressing this truth so well.

        • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

          You’re welcome! I’m truly mystified by people who think Christ was some mystic with super sekrit holiness rules, when his teaching was so simple, straightforward, and utilitarian– principles that can be applied to any situation in any place or time.

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

        I missed the whole fight, but it was exhausting just to skim back over it.

        This, however, was delightfully refreshing. CH had an internally consistent moral philosophy, but thankfully it’s not the one of Jesus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Nina.Erickson Nina Erickson via Facebook

    This is a nit-picky thing, but why do we always interpret the 8th commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” to mean, “Don’t lie. Ever?” The word “against” seems to imply (to me, at least) that this is about lies that deliberatly cause harm to other people; lies that protect the feelings of other people or smooth over awkward situations – the so-called “white lies” – don’t seem to be covered here. Thanking your grandma for the ugly sweater she knitted is not a harmful lie, and therefore not a sin.

    • Melody

      Exactly, Nina. Very few conservative and fundy Christians understand that verse. To those who would say that lying is *always* a sin, here’s a challenge for you: How do you respond to the midwives who lied to pharaoh to save the Hebrew babies? Would you take that as an exception, or as lying for the greater good? I choose the latter. And don’t forget, the Bible specifically.says that God *blessed* the midwives. He didn’t say, “Well, I’m gonna have to punish you; lying for any reason, even for good, is a sin.” So take that, you who call yourselves “biblicists” or “Bible believers.” You’re cherry-picking for your own convenience, just as you accuse liberals of doing. Hypocrites.

    • CH

      Nina,

      The 8th commandment isn’t the only place we are told not to lie. There are many others, and here is just one of them (quoted for Melody’s benefit, as well)…

      Col. 3:

      8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

      • Melody

        Way to ignore the basic point, CH. You fundies are really good at that.

      • Elizabeth

        Forehead, meet laptop.

      • Elizabeth

        Elizabeth is reduced to speaking of herself in the third-person while she knocks herself unconscious waiting for CH to stop picking on people intellectually bigger than she is.

        Deep breath. I’ll go reread Mark again.

        • CH

          Paul is once more proven right. “Knowledge puffs up….”

          • Diana A.

            You should know, given how puffed up with knowledge (or something) you are.

          • Elizabeth

            Just for the record, Paul is demonstrably “wise” but not “right”. Buy a dictionary. I also understand they have them free online now. This aggregator is my favorite. http://dictionary.reference.com/

      • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

        “Do not lie to each other”– Hey, lookie there, CONTEXT! Did you see it? Or did you just ignore that “to each other” as being a jot or tittle you could mentally remove from scripture?

        • Melody

          Well, that’s how fundamentalists work. It’s okay for THEM to pick and choose what scriptures apply and don’t, but not anyone else. I guess they think they have some kind of hidden knowledge that makes them superior to us filthy librulls. If you don’t cherry-pick exactly the way they do, you’re (in the words of our lovely friend CH): “mocking God.”

        • Elizabeth

          It’s frustrating, how often commenters misrepresent themselves on a Christian blog. “Don’t lie” is pretty basic, right?

  • http://www.transparently.ca Lisa Salazar

    Thank you for your new post; it harkens back to something Obama said in press conference about the time congress repealed DADT when he said, “I think what you’re seeing is a profound recognition on the part of the American people that gays and lesbians and transgender persons are our brothers, our sisters, our children, our cousins, our friends, our co-workers, and that they’ve got to be treated like every other American. And I think that principle will win out.”

  • Ben

    I just want to give a little bit more accurate version of the way such a heavenly dialogue might go (in a Christian understanding) taking into account all sorts of different people…

    “This man is a murderer.”

    “This man is an adulterer.”

    “This man had sex outside of marriage.”

    “This man is prideful.”

    “This man is loveless and hateful.”

    “This man is full of anger and rage.”

    “This man is full of lust and greed.”

    “This man is a rapist.”

    “This man is a religious hypocrite! He trusts in himself.”

    “This man loves money.”

    “This man neglected his family.”

    “This man tells lies.”

    “This man looks at women with lust.”

    “This man hates his brother in his heart.”

    “This man is disobedient to parents.”

    “This is the worst of them all…he thinks he hasn’t done anything worthy of judgment. He thinks he is a good person.”

    “Yes, I see it all Father. I see all the sins, evils, and injustices that all these men have committed against You. I see the debt they owe to You and Your justice. I see the punishment and the wrath that awaits them. Yet I will take it on myself. Put all their debts to my account. I want them to be saved. I love them.”*

    -says the Son of God

    “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9)

    We must repent, turn from our sins and trust Christ. But He is mighty to save anyone who comes to Him.

    I have ignored the issue of homosexuality here, because I saw that the central message of the Christian gospel was misrepresented (if that was the intent of the dialogue). Nobody gets to heaven based on their own works, nobody has pure motives.

    *the idea for the dialogue comes from John Flavel’s “The Father’s Bargain”

    • CH

      Excellent point, Ben. With all the dust kicked up it was hard to address the other side of the coin here, namely, grace. This post, imo, misses out on what sin is and what the cure is.

      Glad you brought it to light.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      One wonders if you’d post a similar response to the parable of the sheep and the goats, or the story of the talents, or the corrupt judge. After all, all of those missed the central message of the gospel, too. This wasn’t a parable about grace. Not all Christian stories have to include grace, or faith, or love, or any other central concept of Christianity. They teach the lesson they teach. You want a parable on grace, go find a different story.

      • CH

        The difference between the parables Jesus told and this one, Lyn, is that the former do not have as their foundation a redefinition of sin and a misunderstanding of the human heart.

        • Jill

          CH, would it be at possible for you to do me personally a favor?

          Could you shelf the obviously dripping arrogance from your commentary here?

          I, as an ex-Christian struggling to find whether I can find a place within Christianity again, am tripping over your words and attitude.

          I’m sincerely glad that absolutism works for your faith, but it nearly killed me as a young girl. I’m not asking you to explain yourself to me, nor feel responsible for my faith-based wrestling.

          I am merely asking, from one Christ-inclined person to another, to please hold back the corrections to others and the moral certitude and allow the faith that is represented here to breathe and include people on the edge like me.

          If however you feel I am undeserving of Christ’s (or your) compassion, then by all means ignore my plea. I hope I am mistaken about your intent here.

          • DR

            CH can’t handle being in a place where she can’t control how she’s spoken to. So she’s chosen to play the “tone police” in order to remove herself from a conversation that felt uncomfortable for her.

            I’m glad s/he was here. It’s about time the CH’s of the world had a nano-second of what it means to be on the receiving end of rage. Maybe now s/he’d know what it feels like to be a gay man or woman in Christian America.

          • Melody

            Right on in the first sentence.

            As for the last, I’d like to think she would have learned something, but given her reactions, I’d say she hasn’t learned a damn thing. She doesn’t think; she just feels and reacts. Oh well. Maybe she’ll take it with her and learn from it someday.

        • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

          Oh, hon, if you’ve missed the fact that Jesus redefined sin from being one of following several hundred rules to a basic principle of love, then you’ve missed the entire gospel message.

          • Elizabeth

            The entirety of it. She missed the whole thing.

        • Diana A.

          No, the difference between John’s parable and the many parables told by Jesus is that John’s parable isn’t in the Bible and since it doesn’t fit your rigid understanding of what the Bible says, you’re inclined to dismiss it, which is your right. Just as it is the right of the rest of us to completely dismiss what you have to say.

      • Elizabeth

        “We have to be on our guard against the supposition that grace is an abstract quality; it is an active personal principle, showing itself in our dealings with those by whom we are surrounded.” http://www.bible-researcher.com/grace.html

      • Ben

        Hi Lyn,

        Thanks for your comment. You touch on an important point when reading parables. On one hand, parables are told in a certain context to express a certain truth and entire theologies are not to be extracted for them. For example, from the parable about the corrupt judge: “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” (Luke 18:1). Here the reason is expressed, that they would pray and not give up. At another time it says that Jesus told a parable against those who trusted in themselves. So parables do have particular points in particular contexts, that is a fair point.

        On the other hand, though, Jesus’ parables are consistent with one another and do not contradict His teaching as a whole. I guess one of the reasons that I felt the need to post was not necessarily just because the central message of the gospel wasn’t mentioned, but rather because it was misrepresented.

        It might not have been the author’s intent, and I hope I have not misrepresented the author’s views, but when I read it I felt like he was implying that Christian teaching is that one might be accepted into heaven based on their good works or the purity of their motives. In light of the teaching of Jesus and the apostles, I thought it might be helpful to point out that that is not Christian teaching.

        You see, I don’t want Christianity to be seen as just another list of rules and morality, and if someone meets those rules then one pronounces them “saved,” and if one does not meet those rules one pronounces them, “condemned.” If Christianity is just another list of rules and morals one must follow in order be saved, I’m toast.

        The wonderful thing abot Jesus is that there is always hope for anyone who will turn and come to Him. He suffered the punishment in place of sinners, and He lived a righteous life for them. He died and rose again and ever lives. It is not about what I have done or not done but it is about what He has done. It is not ultimately about my identity but about my loss of identity and identifying with His death on the cross. It is not a law written on stone tablets but a law written on the fleshy tablets of the heart.

        So I do understand your point about parables being addressed to a particular point. It may be that I read too much into the author’s use of a parable. I guess in short, I saw something that perhaps could misrepresent Christian teaching and confuse about what the gospel says, and I just wanted to clarify.

        I appreciate your thoughts.

        Ben

        • catrenn

          the reason faith and works are dead separately is that if your motives are pure, you will do the good works as a result. if you are doing works for the opinion of others or out of fear, they are not actually good.

          Sometimes when you work from the Spirit, when you are moving in grace, it doesn’t look that way to the Pharisees. remember that the law was given for the hardness of their hearts – ie, they didn’t want to take responsibility for their own choices, or listening to the Spirit. They wanted something concrete to point to.

          • Diana A.

            This exactly.

        • Diana A.

          Part of the problem is that this is just one blog post. It’s not an entire theology. Even the book of Romans is not an entire theology –though of all the NT books, it comes the closest.

  • CH

    Bottom line is that this argument, in the OP, fails to hit the titles mark. It fails to convince a “bible believing idiot” that so long as you have a valid reason in your own eyes you can sidestep Gods commands.

    And a word of advice to all of you: if you really want to convince people who hold to the traditional, historic understanding of marriage that yours is blessed of God too, you might want to stop insulting and censoring everyone who calls you on the carpet. You all sound like the raving fundies you all gather to disparage, just with a different agenda.

    • Lymis

      And if you want to convince people that your arguments are based on Christian love rather than private bigotry, you might want to stop insulting and dismissing everyone whose life experience doesn’t match your tidy worldview.

      Sigh. If only God had ever sent someone to be an example of His love who was willing to hang out with sinners and tax collectors, lepers and the socially marginalized, and who could tell stories of how God’s love isn’t about slavishly following the rules, but engaging one’s neighbor with compassion.

      But then, if God had, people probably would have executed him for bucking the system, so it’s probably just as well.

      “You all sound like the raving fundies you all gather to disparage, just with a different agenda.”

      Pot, meet kettle.

      • David S

        Lymis – I’m with you! Thanks for your clarity. And I share your *sigh* of exasperation with you-know-who.

        Mr. Shore – I’m done giving any more oxygen to this dialog. My apologies for feeding it as long as I have.

        • Jill

          May I add a thank you to those who have gone the distance and continue to challenge these kinds of…insufferable know-it-alls.

          A person struggling to find her place needs to know in no uncertain terms that she is safe, respected, cared for, and validated. I have my own work cut out for me, but it’s more than nice to know people like me have support against the Pharisees of the day.

          It is of the utmost necessity. I cannot express that enough.

      • CH

        Lymis, o extend the same challenge to you as I did DR. Quote me insulting any of you.

        • Jill

          I can only speak for myself that at this drawn out stage in the developments, you have insulted my search for Jesus for my own life.

          If He is as opinionated, dismissive, and absolute as you represent yourself to be in his corner, perhaps I’ve got Him all wrong.

        • Melody

          By accusing us of mocking God simply by challenging your obstinate views. Don’t deny it. You think you’re better than we are because you don’t question anything and hold to your robotic, legalistic views. You said it yourself. Don’t lie.

        • Lymis

          Melody has it right. You feel you are justified because you carefully never said something like “Lymis, I think you are an abomination and are going to hell.”

          But you’ve repeatedly said that you don’t think we can set aside Biblical rules just because we “think we have a good reason.” That’s dismissive of ANY reason (because obviously, none of them will be good) and therefore, dismissive of everyone who has, through years of pain, prayer, and discernment, come to a conclusion about our own spiritual relationship with God that doesn’t match your condemnation of us.

          That’s insulting. And it’s even more insulting that you want to try to force us to say you weren’t. So you get to be dismissive, obnoxious, insulting and closed-minded, while at the same time able to claim that you took the moral high ground.

          In a discussion of knee-jerk condemnation of homosexuality, you say you don’t think it gets to the heart of doctrine on sin. That’s insulting.

          You say as a Christian you submitted yourself to the will of Jesus and that it wasn’t easy, while clearly implying that gay people don’t, or presumably, we’d make other “choices.” That’s insulting.

          You discuss being gay and in a committed, loving, marital relationship with “appetites” and “whatever we can justify as being right in our own eyes.” That’s insulting.

          You dismiss the analysis and opinion of people whose views differ from yours with the claim that you have seven years of seminary, implying that anyone who doesn’t can’t possibly understand the Bible, and by extension from the rest of your argument, God, without it. That’s insulting.

          You claim that Paul has to be taken in context – context that apparently requires extensive technical schooling to understand, but deny that anything in the Bible relating to homosexuality – you know, like gang rape or temple prostitution or child slavery – can be considered in context. Things that might apply to you or inconvenience you? Context. Things that are central to the lives of your LGBT neighbors? Appetites. That’s insulting.

          And then, in the midst of spouting all of this, you then ask permission to “be vulnerable” and announce that you have gay friends that you love and that you really haven’t actually come to an opinion about homosexuality at all, and seem to expect adults who can do things like read, type, and presumably, not drool all over ourselves while doing so to buy into that fertilizer for even an instant. That’s insulting.

          Did you use any phrases that, taken out of context, could be pointed to as a clearly insulting or inflammatory? Not that I can recall. Does that mean you are exempt from our being insulted by things you clearly intended to be insulting? Not for an instant.

          And neither is the horse you rode in on.

          • CH

            So basically, Lymis, you are insulted because you think you have judged the motives of my heart. All I can say is you are way off base. Your tirade is nothing more than ad hom attacks, none of it based in what I have actually said.

            If you are insulted because I stand on the conviction that you nor I get to change what God has said just because we have a good excuse, then that is for you to take up with God. I won’t apologize for that. It is the truth. Yet you also conveniently left out where I said gay Christians everywhere can rejoice that there are far more faithful and biblical arguments that support your cause than this example of acting like my 7 yr old (who decides he can disobey dad because he really NEEDed that toy).

          • Lymis

            “Yet you also conveniently left out where I said gay Christians everywhere can rejoice that there are far more faithful and biblical arguments that support your cause”

            No, I didn’t miss that. I just don’t buy that you think so. Your entire approach radiates the opposite.

            I’m not insulted by your conviction. I’m insulted by your insulting behavior. There’s a difference.

            Take, for example, comparing my most intimate relationship, based on a lifetime of prayer, discernment, submission to God’s will, and deep reflection, to a childish whim for a selfish desire.

            Still can’t see anything insulting? That plank in your eye again?

          • Melody

            Lymis, you are awesome. I gave up on CH a long time ago. And I say, give up. You’ve done everything you could to try to make her be considerate. It’s impossible. She is a hopeless case. Just let her be stupid and blind to her faults. I believe in karma, and someday, it is going to hit her right between the eyes. It’s clear her Duke education was a waste of time and money, because let’s face it: You can’t fix stupid, and you can’t learn when your mind is closed. Only she can overcome her stubbornness and arrogance and open her own mind. Sadly, we can’t do it for her. She’s so hard-headed, she’s going to have to figure it out for herself. No matter how much sense you make, she refuses to see it, for the reasons I mentioned.

          • Lymis

            Somewhere in the … let’s just go with “collected works” that CH posted here was the claim that the point of all this was to convert the other side to one’s own views. CH has repeatedly sunk to the level of trying to discredit what I’ve said on the basis that it wasn’t convincing — to CH.

            Well, duh.

            While I’m certainly not incapable of getting sucked into drama for it’s own sake, I honestly don’t feel my main motivation was to convince CH of anything – I’ve tilted at that particular windmill far too often in my life, with far more compelling and subtle opponents, to expect success to come in that form.

            It’s more about speaking the truth. To the degree that CH claims to speak for all Christians, and several times, to speak for God – or, to be more precise, claims to be graciously stepping aside so that we can address our complaints to what CH claims is God, but is an inexpertly disguised sock puppet with CH’s hand up it’s butt, it is speaking the truth to what passes for power.

            The last refuge of this sort of mindset is the eventual claim, in the final face of complete defeat, and faced with all the damage and destruction that their views have caused, that “I never knew! Nobody ever told us that what we were doing was hurting people! We never would have done it if we knew at the time!’

            There are very few people these days who will admit to having been segregationists in the 60′s, just as there was an astonishing shortage of people who admit to having believed in the Nazis in post war Germany, or a generation earlier, ant-suffragists, and so on, all the way back. It’s particularly vile for Christians to be the moral descendants of the people shouting for the crucifixion of Jesus, but here they are.

            To the degree that people like CH feel that they can make this sort of smug, self-righteous, outdated, and discredited claim, someone needs to stand up and, if nothing else, make sure that that sort of claim doesn’t just go unchallenged. That’s what CH is used to – witness the waving of the magic “I went to seminary, nyah, nyah” card.

            But you’re right. There’s a point where it’s pointless.

          • C_H

            “No, I didn’t miss that. I just don’t buy that you think so.”

            Thus the reason I said you are judging my motives rather than what I actually say (and you are still wrong). Should I be insulted by such behavior, Lymis?

            “Take, for example, comparing my most intimate relationship, based on a lifetime of prayer, discernment, submission to God’s will, and deep reflection, to a childish whim for a selfish desire.”

            I have said this several times already, but you seem determined not to hear it. But I’ll say it once more:

            IF the ONLY argument that existed was THIS one from THIS post, which YES, amounts to applauding nothing more than a childish whim or a selfish desire, then YES, you would have no case as far as I am concerned and I would not even be considering whether or not the 6 passages of Scripture which I know you know well ought to be reconsidered. HOWEVER (please listen), gay CHRISTIANS everywhere can REJOICE that THIS argument is not the only one and that others have seemed to find a way to make better arguments WHILE STILL REMAINING FAITHFUL TO SCRIPTURE *unlike this post and the commenters who applaud it*

            Many if not most of you here exalt your own wisdom over God’s. “Paul is wise but wrong,” for example. “The Bible isn’t God’s Word just a book not unlike what we are doing here…” for example. SUCH arrogance and disdain for Scripture does not HELP YOUR CAUSE as it pertains to the title of this post, which boasts it is the DECIDING ISSUE that Christians cannot ignore. Well, I’m trying to let you in on an important secret which you might want to take to heart if you care at all about building bridges rather than burning them:

            Christians whom you seem to wish would wake will not only IGNORE this post and reasoning but they will be further convinced THEY are right and YOU are wrong when you try to appeal to the same reasoning my 7 year old uses when he disobeys mom and dad. “But dad, I had a GOOD reason! MY CONTEXT was that I WANTED it!”

            I hope I’ve made myself clear.

          • Lymis

            Your caps lock key seems to be sticking.

          • CH

            Sigh. I’ll take your glib dismissal as another sign that you don’t care what I say but only about your perception.

            This is “liberal” Christianity? God have mercy.

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

            (and that’ll be the last we hear from CH. but good job to all.)

          • DR

            Yet another example of a Christian who doesn’t possess the integrity or self-control to leave a place that she’s been banned from and instead, has the arrogance and hostility to evade the ban and try to continue the conversation on her terms.

            It’s so frightening.

        • Diana A.

          WARNING: WALL OF TEXT AHEAD!

          I think Melody’s right. You can’t fix stupid. Never-the-less, I am in one of my Don Quixote moods, so I’m going to try.

          The challenge at hand is: “Quote me insulting any of you.”

          Well, I’m not sure that “insult” is the correct word. But as to things you’ve said on this blog that I find objectionable, well:

          1) “Bottom line is that this argument, in the OP, fails to hit the titles mark. It fails to convince a “bible believing idiot” that so long as you have a valid reason in your own eyes you can sidestep Gods commands.” I’m not sure that this was the point of John’s blog post, but okay.

          2) “Nina, The 8th commandment isn’t the only place we are told not to lie. There are many others, and here is just one of them (quoted for Melody’s benefit, as well)…” “Hi. My name is CH. I know everything. Nobody else knows anything. So I’m going to sanctimoniously quote Bible verses at people to show off how smart I am and how stupid everybody is in comparison to me.” Really?

          3) “Paul is once more proven right. ‘Knowledge puffs up….’” I already addressed this one, but it’s similar to #2.

          4) “The fact that grandma is not humble enough to accept that her gift is not all that great and the fact that the receiver is not grateful for all gifts received is just a mark of our humanity.” This is just flat out mean. I sure hope you’re not this disrespectful to your own grandmother. If so, I sure feel sorry for her. In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who’s dumb enough to love you, including God.

          5) “To put it another way, it is the same ol’ question: Did God really say….?” Comparing John Shore to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, now that’s a way to win friends and influence people–influence people to run to the toilet and vomit. Plus, again, I’m not sure that this was John’s point. But you’re free to believe as you please, as are we.

          6) “No one said following Jesus was easy. It requires us to dethrone ourselves and our own desires, wants, wishes and feelings and accept another as Lord of our life.” Yeah, dethroning yourself. There’s a plan. How ’bout you practice what you preach? Or are you the exception to the rule?

          7) “When I became a Christian I submitted my life under the lordship of Jesus.” (coughing fit ensues.) Really? ’cause it doesn’t show. Again, less preaching, more practicing would be a good thing for you to, well, practice.

          8) “And he also calls us to commend and rebuke and correct those in the household of faith.” Yes, it is a Bible verse. I’m certain that it was Paul, your God, who said it. And I say that Paul is wrong here, or at least that taking this Bible verse out of context and using it as the rule of your life is probably ill-advised. Most people don’t like being preached at. Too bad for them? Maybe, but an ounce of effective is worth a pound of right. Running around sanctimonously telling everybody how wrong they are is not the way to get them to pay attention to you. First, you listen to them. You attempt to see things from their point-of-view. This can be anatomically impossible (certainly, my neck and back hurt from trying to get my head where yours is), but one is called upon to try. Then, and only then, will you be in a position to influence the other to change. Otherwise, your preaching is just so much hot air. Just another noisy gong or clanging cymbal.

          9) “Coming out the other side of 7 years of bible and theological education, including seminary,…” Oh look, more sanctimonious bragging! Gag me with a spoon!

          10) “I agree – Paul requires a lot of context (as do all the biblical writers). I hope we can agree though that it is THEIR context that matters, not MINE. By this I mean, I can’t just interpret them based on me and my feelings today. If you want to quote me, lymis, do so, but get it all.” Ah, and you’re the only one who knows what THEIR context is, right?

          11) “We need a whole lot less of people speaking their own mind and more Christians striving to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2) and being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12).” Again, try practicing what you preach.

          12) “In the same way, saying you love God while showing contempt for his Word exposes a serious flaw on the supposed relationship.” We’re not showing contempt for God’s word. We’re showing contempt for your interpretation of God’s word. Yes, there is a difference between those two things.

          13) “You (and Diana) are essentially saying that all opinions that don’t agree with you are irrelevant.” That’s not what I said and I doubt it’s what Melody said. But you are free to take it that way if you choose.

          14) “I’ve never seen so many self-professing Christians so openly and gleefully mock the Bible and anyone who submits to it as God’s Word.” We’re not mocking the Bible. We’re mocking you. Again, there is a difference.

          15) “, it is not Shore, but God, who we ought to be trying to please.” Oh look, another self-righteous, sanctimonious remark. Why am I not surprised?

          16) “All i have done is speak truth according not to my authority but Scripture.” La-ti-da! You think it’s Scripture. I think it’s your sanctimonious interpretation of Scripture. I also think you desperately need to get over yourself.

          17) “My hang-up is with a post and comments which once the fluffy narrative is removed boils down to this main point: MY context determines what is sin or not.” That’s not what he said. He didn’t say “MY context.” He said “context.” There is a difference. Boy, you really don’t have a head for nuance, do you?

          There’s more. I’m sure of it. But I have run out of time at the moment. Perhaps now, you see a pattern?

        • DR

          This is such an almost sociopathic response, it’s chilling. People like CH actually believe their own narrative – she’s set up the rules of engagement quite clearly. If someone is angry with her for hurting a vulnerable community and says so, she literally translates that into her mind as “insulting”. But that filter is really more of a protective mechanism of her ego – she needs to stay in control and she needs to be right, especially with something like understanding the Bible. Because if she’s gotten this wrong (and it’s pretty clear she’s finding reasons to not answer comments to which there’s no answer), that means (to her) that her whole life is wrong and doesn’t make sense.

          Perhaps what she was brought here to experience was the courage that it really takes to be in authentic dialogue with people who simply don’t like her belief system and are angry with her continue to act out of it because of the damage it does. People like CH aren’t used to be stood up against so she plays the tone police and finds a way of removing herself from the conversation.

          She’ll never reply to this – even as she creepily tries to evade the ban (by the way, what crazy, hostile compulsion drives something like this to come BACK to a forum with a different name after being told they are no longer welcomed and actually keeps talking? What kind of Christian does that? It’s like being asked to leave someone’s home because you won’t follow their rules and you find a way in through a window to keep talking about your Biblically-based beliefs on ethical behavior) . But she’ll read it. And that’s all I need to know.

    • Elizabeth

      I’m a “bible believing idiot”, and I want to convince you. I’ve known too many miserable, sex-hating lesbians. It’s OK for you, CH, to marry, have sex, and stop being miserable. Our “agenda” should be a rational debate on Jesus’ actual words in the New Testament. I’m waiting. I’m impatient. God will just have to forgive me.

    • catrenn

      The problem you have, CH, is that you believe in the Bible so hard it stops you believing in God.

      If He is real, if Jesus was who He said He was, and if the Spirit is still moving in the world, then you can’t STOP at the end of the Bible and say, that’s it, movie’s over, these are all the instructions there ever will be. The Bible itself tells you to read it with the Spirit as your interpreter. And everybody here does that.

      Remember that Paul himself made distinctions between received inspiration and his own best guesses.

      If God is real, then He’s talking to you right now. Start listening. What matters to you more, love or law? Are you a Christian or a Pharisee?

      • Lymis

        Even if you do believe in the Bible that way, John clearly says that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would continue to instruct us. Claiming that the Bible contains all that God has to say is to deny that the Bible itself is true.

        • Lymis

          Umm. That would be the John to whom the Gospels are attributed, not the one to whom this blog is attributed, though that one would no doubt say the same.

    • DR

      You flouncing off in a petulant huff because people dared to vocalize how digested and angry we are with the impact of your belief system to you directly is an example of the grave emotional immaturity and lack of integrity my Christian brothers and sisters have when choosing to enter into tough conversation. You demand to be spoken to in a specific way – one that is sanitized of all anger and pain – or you walk. It’s so pathetic. If you want an example of why people walk away from the church and want nothing to do with us? Take a look at your behavior in this thread and this comment. You *chose* to be here – people treated you like a grown up, we were honest about how angry we are with you – and you’re leaving because you can’t handle it and you have the self-absorbed arrogance to actually suggest that it’s our problem.

      Grow up.

  • Brian

    There are a host of things called “SIN” in the Bible by pastors, theologians and scholars of dubious background…

    Some years ago, it began to occur to me that pretty much all of these “sins” are actually symptoms of “SIN.” In Spanish there is a preposition spelled S-I-N, which means “without.” Jesus told us to pray “without ceasing.” Why? Perhaps it was because he wanted us to live with God, but when we don’t pray without ceasing, we eventually are left “without” God.

    To judge someone else, something Jesus told us not to do, causes us to reject God by judging his Spirit in another…

    What if, in the end, we discovered that “heaven” and “hell” were simply two different ways of relating to God. Jesus stated that he is the “Alpha” and the “Omega.” He is the beginning of all creation and the end of all creation. In the end, it is entirely possible that in the next life, we will all wind up in the same place. Perhaps our eternal disposition will be the direct consequence of whether we have embraced God or rejected him.

    We are all sinners, because we will never be able to perfectly pray without ceasing, but it may well be that the more we are able to pray and accept God’s Grace in this life, the more we will grow acclamated to the presence of Unconditional Love. The one who can accept and share was has been given freely is usually the person who realizes just how much they need that Love…

  • 1GoldRunner .

    1. God ONLY states same gender SEX is a sin. Same gender love and attraction is not a sin, that is just a HUMAN assumption with NO legit proof in the Bible.

    2. God said if people live the gay life style aka constantly having sex with the same gender THEN they cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Not all gay people are sexually active with other people of the same gender or with their boyfriends/husbands or girlfriends/wives.

    3. For all you so called “Christians” out their, stop spreading hate if you ACTUALLY care about our God. I doubt any of you truly do but if you did you would start praying and sharing his world righteously, not shoving it in peoples faces and spreading misinterpreted verses to other people.

    4. World Peace to every race, religion, gender, disability, AND sexual orientation.


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