Love is all we need

I received the email below … today, I think. Maybe yesterday. (God, how sad is it that I don’t even know which? But lately I’ve been writing pretty much around the clock, so you know how sometimes that can end up trashing the whole time thing.) I wanted to share it for no particular reason—except that it occasioned in my brain something like a happy, unexpected little vacation. And who wants to go on vacation alone?

You guys do an amazing job on this blog. This is for you. And for me. And for everyone out there who day in and day out, in a million little ways, fights, struggles, argues and (even) suffers for nothing more dramatic than the simple truth that in the final analysis all anyone in the world ever really wants, and ever really needs, is love.

John,

Though I do not know if I’d consider myself Christian, I read your site regularly, and love it. I’ve recently had chance to refer to it rather a lot, as I’d been in a week-long FB conversation about homosexuailty and same-sex marriage. Though I didn’t expect to change her mind, I was impressed as, over the course of the week, we both managed to stay civil, kind, and (I thought) really listen to each other. Unfortunately, yesterday as I asked her to step back out of the religious realm and into the political, things went downhill, and it ended in rather a mess. It makes me sad that this woman now feels I was judging and hating her, when it’s quite the opposite.

Anyhow, I have decided then that, instead of being upset or angry, I would share with all my friends how much I love them and am thankful that they are in my life. I wanted to let you know how very thankful I am to have found you, and your blog, where I can always trust to come and find a thoughtful, intelligent, and kind discussion of religion, where it seems that people really do care about what I know as the core of Christianity—loving oneself, each other, the church, and Christ. Thank you for being here.

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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.

  • otter

    Ahhh….refreshing!

    • Elizabeth

      Right? When I read it last night, it totally lifted my spirits.

  • Deanna Rendel

    I try to have civil, rational conversations with people trying to explain that there is another way to look at the “anti-gay” verses of the Bible, but it’s so frustrating…they just don’t seem to be able to see a different point of view. How do you not get discouraged and keep trying with each new gay bashing Christian you meet? Shout out to United Church of Christ, I wouldn’t go to church at all if I hadn’t found them!

    • Joyce

      Deanna, awfully glad you kept trying until you did (find us)!

      I think what makes me saddest is that folks hear the vile gay-bashing rhetoric and believe it represents “the Christian view”. It does not. Those of you who still yearn to be part of a church, the Body of Christ, there are many, many welcoming congregations and denominations: UCC, Unitarian, Quakers, some Methodists and Presbyterians, for a start. The Metropolitan Community Church was founded specifically as an LGBT church!

      Come on in. It would be our pleasure to share the pew with you.

      • Molly By Golly

        Yep.

      • Gordon

        Don’t forget Unity. Different than Unitarian. In hindsight, they probably should have picked a different name. :-)

      • Anne

        ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) Lutherans are among those welcoming denominations.

      • Ruby

        As well as the Episcopal Church. The San Diego Diocese has a strong presence at the Gay Pride parade.

    • Molly By Golly

      It is the next generation, rather than the last, that will do the work of reformation. Your words will have more impact if used to educate the young rather than debate the grown. As for people advocating harm to others- you can’t reason with crazy.

      • Jill

        Thank you for this Molly. I often feel trite and ineffectual because I won’t debate this issue, scripturally or otherwise. I will and do debate how people choose to use their opinions to isolate and condemn the LGBTQ community, but I will never debate scriptural reasoning for it ever again. For those that can justify bigotry in the name of Christ do not have ears to hear. You’re right–crazy doesn’t acknowledge truth. Education over debate. That is my new mantra for this.

        For a who cares who you love person like me, it’s so not an issue that I frankly didn’t see how much of a daily life issue it still is after all these years until lately. I’m opening my eyes yet again to the tapestry of stories, human collateral in this king of the mountain, to the death, I’m righteous and you’re not war.

        (pls forgive the angry tone here as I just watched For the Bible Tells Me So, and I’ve so many emotions can’t think clearly.)

        But again, this space brings out the hope in me. For a lot of things and a lot of reasons.

  • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

    I feel the very same way! :)

  • []

    Thank you for posting this – as pleasant a surprise for me as perhaps the email was for you. As you say, the thanks are extended to everybody. I am so thankful for this place.

    I have to say that today was such a great day, as I allowed myself to be enveloped by and sending out love, rather than to focus on the hate.

    • Jill

      Thank you for putting this out there and for John to share it with us. For all the messages of hatemongering around, we need even more talk of love and compassion and gratitude and sharing. This is a daily fix kind of thing for me!

    • Gordon

      Ditto to what Jill says. Thanks for reaching out to John and thanks to John for sharing. Good for you for going to your loving place instead of your bitter place. I know that’s not as easy as it seems.

      • Jill

        You’re so right– and that’s I think why many of us are here. I could (can and have) go to the angry place, suffer in isolation. I can see how God’s got bigger plans for us, and I get to see how much I’ve grown as a human being from coming over here-and it continues.

        And joy of joys I get to see amazingly powerful people here pushing every day through bigotry and ostracism, and you all give me faith in better days.

        *Enough mushiness–I’m stopping now!*

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.lester.71404 Kevin Lester via Facebook

    You and John Lennon got it right!

    • http://shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

      Weeeeelll…. When someone tells me to “imagine there’s no Heaven” and that when I look up at the sky I *must* imagine only sky…

      I’m going to imagine battling cosmic space-dragons just to spite him. Because NO ONE tells me what to imagine.

      About the love stuff, though – yeah, right about that.

      • Diana A.

        I love the way you think Shadsie!

        • http://shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

          At least someone does. The weirdness entertains someone! Yay!

  • Gordon

    I have gotten into some interesting Facebook “conversations” with Christians who say they love homosexuals but still firmly believe that homosexuality is a sin and a choice. It is a sin, they say, because the Bible (the unadulterated WORD of almighty GOD) says so. And it’s a choice because it is a sin. Any reasonably intelligent person can obviously see this is circular thinking. But, they spin so damn hard and fast inside that circle it can make one sort of dizzy when you try and have any sort of discussion with them.

    My own experience has taught me that it is extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to actually reach anyone who feels that sexuality is a choice. If that’s our starting point – even before they load on sin and the words of God Himself! – how can we possibly have any kind of effective discussion? We are starting from such strong mutual disrespect that I feel it really is impossible.

    Maybe I’m just discouraged. Election season always does that to me. There are dozens of people I have known all my life who have said for decades that Mormons are not Christians and that their religion is a cult. But, these same people are planning to go to the polls in November and vote for Mitt Romney because he is against “special rights” for LGTB people and wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to not only prevent same-sex marriage but also disolve the legal marriage I am now in with my husband Reed. And they have known and told us they “love” us for 21 years!!!

    I don’t know what that is, but it is NOT love. Keep on spinning. Maybe you’ll turn into butter, shut up and leave us alone.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Don’t you just love the election season? You watch voters get rabidly behind a candidate and then once the poor sucker is elected, they do what rabid entities tend to do, turn on the guy. It gives one such a warm fuzzy feeling. Rather like waking up and discovering the cat decided to nap on your face.

      November can’t be over fast enough.

      Someone shared this quote with me. It is so fitting to the topic John gave us.

      “There is no greater invitation to love than loving first.” — Augustine

      • Gordon

        Right. November can’t be over fast enough. I feel like I’m wishing my life away these days!

    • Jill

      Gordon, your discouragement is shared. I know it’s rhetoric, all bark and no teeth, but still it goes on to divide and conquer the electorate so it stays weakened, docile, playing their mind games. But enough politics…

      This thing is at its tipping point. The arrogant, bigoted view IS dying off. The current and younger generations don’t care about gay, straight. They care about being on the right side of civil rights and respect. I may only be seeing the changes in small, (too) slow increments in my world but I see change happening in straight mind-sets. In my lifetime I’ve seen how there never used to be any science or genetics discussion– back in the day it was ALL nurture or (sinful) choice. Also in the last 20 years we’ve seen culture celebrate the life in public ways– so many straights are bored by this ridiculous argument instead of frightened by it anymore. For what it’s worth, hang in there.

      • Gordon

        It’s worth a lot. Thanks, Jill. :-)

    • Elizabeth

      Facebook is a great place for those conversations. People feel unguarded and anonymous, and I want to hear their honest opinions. Even the stupid ones. Especially the stupid ones. Facebook is where every college dropout, stay-at-home mom, and soccer dad broadcasts his or her psyche. I love my Facebook family.

      Political discussions are always tiresome. It’s best to walk away before they stop hearing you. If they keep questioning you, even after you’ve “left the room” on Facebook, that’s a different story. I had one fundamentalist harass our mutual friends – people we’ve known for twenty years – for three hours on the Boy Scouts’ official stance on homosexuality. He made the mistake of addressing a rhetorical question to me in my absence. He won’t be doing that again.

      As I do on John’s blog, I reflected back his argument in his language and quoted him. It’s the only way to break through the endless feedback loop of that circular thinking. Make them hear themselves. Make them go, “Wait. Did I really just type that?”

      Re: sex, it’s essential that, as Christians, we stop shaming. Everyone. Across the board. Gender and sexuality ARE the divisive issues this political cycle, whether it’s equal marriage or the war on women. A friend titled the 4th Estate’s June graphic concerning abortion and birth control (which showed 80% of those quoted in national media are men), SHUT UP, HONEY, MEN ARE TALKING. Pride parades and Slut Walk are two sides of the same coin.

      In the most recent example of sexual-threat-as-weapon I know, a Christian black supremacist in Grand Rapids, MI, told women he’d rape them if they attended a Gay Day celebration. He used a clobber passage from Isaiah, but he didn’t stop there. He told the woman next to the camera he would do it personally and she’d like it. Presumably, any woman at the celebration would “like” it. The woman claims the man recited her boyfriend’s license plate number and threatened to kill him.

      I spent my childhood in Grand Rapids. My mother lives there. If I had been visiting her, I would have been at that celebration. Coming from Harlem, I would have made a beeline for the scary black man because, in ultra-WASP Grand Rapids, most women wouldn’t. The woman next to the video camera could have been me. Except I’d have grabbed the first LGBT woman gracious enough to accept me and made out with her. Just to piss him off.

      Ignorant Christians use sex to intimidate. I – personally – will not let them. As Christians, we love with our hearts; our hearts drive our bodies. We own our sexual identities. They don’t. We need to stop treating sex as a taboo subject. We get out there and show everyone that, queer or straight, married or single, young or old, there’s nothing to fear. Rub their faces in it. (First double entendre. I’m trying here.) I thought the kissing protests as a response to National Chik-fil-A Day were beautiful. How better to show bigots, however well-intentioned, that gays aren’t bad? Just kiss someone you love in front of them. In front of their kids.

      As long as we make facile rules that come down to, “How I express my sexuality is right but yours isn’t,” we’ll be fighting these battles one by one. For the rest of my life, anyway.

      Plus, if we remember it’s all about sex, this election might actually get interesting.

  • KarenAtFOH

    May I also say a big thank you to John, Jill, DR, and everyone else who have encouraged me here. Your presence gives me hope in what seems like a poison tide coming from Christians. I am still hurting from the trashing from the Methodists I belonged to, and their recent General Convention was more of the same. This is a terrific and life-sustaining blog for me. Bless you all.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Sorry you had a bad experience with your local Methodist group Karen. Not all Methodist are like that. I know many who are frustrated with the stubborn refusal to reconsider certain stances. I feel that, give it a few more years, and the Methodist denomination will be much more honest in their welcoming stance. It was because of some loving, progressive minded Methodists, that I made the leap way from the SBC to that denomination.

    • Diana A.

      Which conference are you with? I was very disappointed with General Conference, but very proud of the Western Jurisdictional Conference, which seemed to make a stand against the outcome of the General Conference on this issue.

    • DR

      I’m so glad for this blog as well. The courage and perseverance of gay men and women who have shared their stories with us is deeply inspiring to me.

      • Jill

        Karen, I’m so ridiculously fortunate (blessed you might say) to have stumbled over here not so long ago myself. To have had the chance to take my ucky fundy childhood story, box it and set it on a shelf to sort myself out for a decade, come back to it now and lift that box lid only to have found the detritus fallen away from the story of my life, the story of my spirit.

        Battered, bruised, in need of a good air-out, but intact and always safe. That is what John Shore and these amazing people have brought back around to me– a faith that transcends the damage done.

        But as most of us are, I’m a WIP. ;)

  • Susan

    Thank you John for sharing the Love, Finding this loving, respectful, intelligent, affirming and welcoming Christian community is nothing short of life saving for me. A life raft to keep me floating above the less than loving waters of my SBC, CFA family, that have loved the sinner and not the sin for our 21 years of marriage, while we loved the judge but not the judgement. I just woke up to the reality that our extended families next generation is drinking the silly season koolaid. We raised a 24 year old together with many gatherings with their kids, we just did years of care for my mother and common law step Dad and 6 months of hospice at our home. My wife’s mother lived with us for 5 years after caring for her Mom and Dad for 7 years prior in our other house 1 house away. We just got Mom moved to independent living due to many falls. At a recent family gathering 1 younger family member had to leave as the food arrived to not break some bible verse about eating with my sinfulness. Another had to tell me about the sermon at the church that said my marriage is counterfit. My heart breaks. (I am pulling myself together to lovingly come out of the closet further to proclaim that my claiming my goodness as a human, an American and as a Christian does not really persecute their religious freedom. Rather I have diminished myself for their comfort and here are materials to consider (your book and previously posted 3 items under the catholic priests submission list article). And to please understand that all sin is the forgetting of love, all sin is upping one and harming another. That to lie, cheat, steal, kill, is clearly sin- we all agree. However my loving life of service and marriage and honesty is not. Please consider.) Wish me luck. I know the long run, maybe it will make our elder care for each other possibly easier to have set a boundary and redirect them to it now rather than later. As a child my loving, out after the death of their husbands, lesbian neighbors had to flee to Canada to find a nursing elderly care facility that would honor their relationship. I have to create mine myself here in the South by teaching others how I want to be treated. Some days it is more than I am up for and this dose of Love that is this community carries me though. Thank you all ps- any feed back is greatly appreciated–new person here.

    • Elizabeth

      Elder care, estate planning, and end-of-life decisions are worrisome for LGBT couples as long as DOMA’s the law of the land. No two ways about it. I’ve heard wonderful stories of gay couples with no legal standing treated with respect, too. I took care of my mom after a stroke, with all the responsibility and no legal authority. It’s tough. It sounds like you’re already working towards fixing that.

      I’m sorry your family and church rejected you. Welcome.

    • DR

      My God. This is so awful. I’m so glad you find a refreshing place for your heart and your spirit to recover and rest here. This brings tears to my eyes that you have to endure this. What a horrific shame we’ll deal with as a church when our eyes are finally opened as they were when we did this same kind of thing to people of color.

      • Matt

        I am so sorry that you have had to go through that. But I’m glad you’ve found this place to be safe, and talk about what’s on your heart and mind every day. We all need one of those places. I’m so glad you’re here :).

  • Matt

    I’m a little late to the party, but I just wanted to write and say how grateful I, too, am for this blog. Since I’ve stopped going to organized church, this blog and my local Christian radio station have been my lifelines for practicing my faith with others.

    Thank you most of all for letting me share my and my partner’s journey thus far through the end of her transition. A little update: She is now just over two months post-op and completely healed. All that is left is for her to recover her stamina, which she is doing beautifully. We are living happily as a lesbian couple until I begin my own transition some years from now. We are both studying, and I am working. We are happy. I am planning to give her a promise ring on our anniversary, February 3rd, 2013. Until same-sex marriage is legal here, that is all I can give, but I know what it will mean to her. :)

  • http://asad123.wordpress.com Asad

    I love the community on this site and it’s a big part of why I keep coming back. I hope it keeps going for many years to come.


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