What the LGBT debate among Christians is – and isn’t

In the recent dinner-table debate between Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Dan Savage of  … normal life, Dan said this:

John Shore, who’s a Christian blogger, a pro-gay-marriage Christian blogger and author, says that the Bible has no place in a conversation about the legality or illegality of gay marriage. Illegal is not a religious term.

When Dan and I spoke a few days before the debate, my primary advice to him was to be sure the camera wasn’t on him when he suddenly lunged across the table and stabbed Brown in the forehead with a salad fork. “Then,” I said, “You could just say ‘Whoa! Did you see that? My fork just flew into Brown’s forehead! He must have a magnetized steel plate in his head!’ Who wouldn’t believe that Brian Brown has a steel plate in his head?”


No, but seriously.

What I mostly suggested was that at its outset Dan entirely shut down the debate (then titled “Be It Resolved: Christianity Is Bad for LGBTQ Americans”) by resolutely insisting that the Bible has no place in a discussion about gay marriage.

“Employing the Bible in an argument about the legality of gay marriage,” I said, “is like employing pliers to saw through wood. It’s the wrong tool for the job. Illegal is not a religious term.”

NOM likes to pretend that the Bible is not to them what the atomic bomb was to Harry Truman: the principal, ultimately final weapon. Though they’ll deny it until they’re screaming at a pitch only dogs can hear, NOM is very much a Christian organization. It represents a Christian base without which it would crumble.

And here’s the problem with Christian organizations like NOM (and the Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family, and the American Family Association, and on and on and on) figuring in the debate of an important national legal issue: the Bible (reminder alert: I’m a Christian) has no proper place in such a debate. Unfortunately it does, in fact, have a place, because when it suits them so many Christians so willingly forget what their otherwise swoon-inducing Founding Fathers so explicitly said about the separation of Church and State. But just because I passionately love my conga drums doesn’t make it okay for me to whang on them during an opera performance. If I’m carrying my congas I should be forbidden from entering any venue wherein an opera is being performed. Because they don’t belong in that place. They’re not appropriate. Congas are for an entirely separate category of music.

Here in America the Bible isn’t supposed to in any way have anything to do with establishing public policy. That’s what our government is for. And our government is supposed to represent all of us. And some of us are Muslims. Some of us are Jews. Some of us are atheists, Buddhists, Hindus. We come from a zillion different faith traditions; we dearly hold all kinds of beliefs. But the one thing that we’re all supposed to understand and hold to is that in order for America to work Church and State must remain separate.

And NOM knows this, of course. Brian Brown has a Master’s degree in history from Oxford. NOM’s chairman of the board, John Eastman, is a law professor—he’s the founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, for bleep’s sake.

NOM knows it’s wrong to use the Bible to argue public policy. But (however subtly—which is to say not at all) they persist in doing so. Why? Because in the final analysis the Bible is all they have. They’re know what at least at some level you, me, and everyone else is perfectly aware, which is that the fight against gay marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with intellectuality, logic, or reason.

The fight against gay marriage is about fear. It’s about anger. It’s about unadulterated bigotry. It’s about stupid, ignorant, stubborn, blind, gut-level hatred. It’s got as much to do with anything Jesus taught as checker pieces have to do with playing chess.

But you firmly strap a Bible to that anger? You transmogrify Jesus’ love into men’s hatred? You manage the alchemizing of rank bigotry into the will of God?

Well then you have yourself some serious traction. Traction that will last. For a while. Until the real love of Jesus—the real truth of the Bible, the real truth of universal love, Christian or otherwise—inevitably reoccupies its rightful place above all.

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  • catrenn

    oh, hey, wait, you could employ the Bible legitimately in that argument….if you were also employing other historical sources of ancient legal tradition. In a compare and contrast kind of way.

    Just like you can so play the congas at an opera. If it’s Carmen and you’re in the orchestra:)

  • I really enjoyed watching that debate and was delighted that Dan gave you mention. I don’t know if there’s any getting through to strict fundies in the U.S. about the myriad ways in which the Bible isn’t the founding document of our country. They seem to feel that only one religion exists in this country and that everyone else is trying to yank Christ out of EVERYTHING. What they – and so many others can’t see – is that people who truly love and follow Christ have Him in nearly every part of their lives. They think ministry is something to be done aggressively, something to whack people with. They can’t fathom that Christians can actually do more to promote the message of Christ by simply quietly loving and caring for other people in their day to day lives than they can by yapping incessantly about the inerrancy of scripture.

  • P.S. Bring the congas. We’ll get our friend Tony to come show off his Flamenco guitar finesse and have quite the grand time.

  • Jill

    Will there ever be an all-conga podcast in the future???

  • Benjamin Sullivan via Facebook

    Unfortunately many fundamentalists believe that separation of church and state means that the government has to stay out of their church but not the other way around.

  • Larry Petry via Facebook

    unfortunately, many of the founding fathers sorta felt that way too, but it’s all a moot argument now, unfortunately.

  • Drew

    “They can’t fathom that Christians can actually do more to promote the message of Christ by simply quietly loving and caring for other people in their day to day lives than they can by yapping incessantly about the inerrancy of scripture.”


  • Lymis

    The other thing people ignore or forget or misunderstand is that it isn’t that civil law cannot reflect anything that it just so happens that the Bible also holds – it is that civil law cannot be based purely on the fact that something is in the Bible.

    Murder, for example is certainly against the 10 Commandments, but it is also illegal, not because the Bible says so, but for valid secular reasons – you can’t run a society where people are free to kill each other, and the secular principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are at odds with whacking someone you disapprove of.

    That’s why murder is validly illegal, but the prohibition against eating shellfish doesn’t survive the move into secular law – there is no valid civil reason to ban it. There may be reasons for making it mandatory, but not for allowing people to freely choose whether or not shrimp is their thing.

    And the biggest thing, to me, from a purely practical standpoint, that is wrong with combining religion and secular law, is the inevitable temptation to make everything that is wrong or sinful illegal and to make everything that is right or admirable mandatory. I see it all the time – you scratch even the most self-righteous Christian with something they are doing in violation of their own moral code, and their answer is “Well, it’s not illegal.” Or people fight tooth and nail against legalizing something they disapprove of, clearly feeling that then everyone will do it. It never occurs to them that people might choose not to do something that is legal on their own moral grounds. If divorce, or prostitution or porn, or oysters Rockefeller are legal, it doesn’t follow that people who disapprove have to indulge.

    “Because the Bible says not to” is a perfectly valid reason for someone not to choose to do something for themselves. It isn’t a valid reason, if it is the only reason there is, to deny other people the right to choose for themselves.

  • Mindy

    Exactly, Lymis. I’ve heard people make that argument – well, if our laws aren’t based on the Bible, why is murder illegal, huh??? Ever heard of ‘Thou shalt not kill’???” Um, why yes, I sure have. But I am fairly certain that even if the Bible had never been written, any civil society would make it illegal for members of said society to kill each other. But they don’t believe it – they believe that without the Bible, we’d be running completely amok, killing and stealing and beating and cheating and . . . . uh oh.

  • Mindy

    John, you are spot on about the fear. That’s it. They have nothing on which to base their aversion to it but fear. All of the “what ifs” rise to the surface, because they are too ignorant to learn about what being gay really means, how it really manifests itself in society. And the biggest “what-if” is “what if it’s me?” – and they freak. What if gay marriage is legal and all these gay people strut around all open and stuff, and what if one hits on ME, and what if . . . . I like it? God will strike me dead and send me to hell and it’s just better if we keep pretending like they don’t exist or are sick, man, sick. It’s just easier. Change? NO! Change scary. Me no like change. ::::::slinking back to my cave:::::: Said the fundie.

  • Mindy

    Oh, and the congas? I snorted and scared the cat. I had this great image of you being caught trying to sneak your congas into the opera house, complete with the, “Wha – who, me?!” expression on your face.

    My ex is a percussionist. I’ve carried my fair share of congas. 🙂

  • Mindy

    Love this, Barnmaven: “They seem to feel that only one religion exists in this country and that everyone else is trying to yank Christ out of EVERYTHING. What they – and so many others can’t see – is that people who truly love and follow Christ have Him in nearly every part of their lives. They think ministry is something to be done aggressively, something to whack people with.”

    We are NOT a Christian nation. The sooner they get that through their dense cranial matter, the better. You can BE a Christian here, and practice your Christianity openly and without fear. But you can’t legislate it. You just can’t. Because if ever there was a slippery slope, that’s it, and I fear we’ve almost lost our footing at the top.

  • Lyn

    See, I made the argument… oh, it’s probably been over a year now, on Facebook that the problem with getting your Christian theology into civil law was that there are different sects of Christians and that you open the door to oppression of your religious freedoms *by other Christians*. I pointed out the oppression of Catholics in England that inspired the founding fathers to make sure church and state were separate. This was in a discussion of the Indiana bill to add a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution. So what did the leadership of my church do? Complained that making such an argument might “confuse” the church’s youth. Yes, because teenagers can’t understand the concept of consequences. Much better to just tell them what to do and think!

  • “The fight against gay marriage is about fear. It’s about anger. It’s about unadulterated bigotry. It’s about stupid, ignorant, stubborn, blind, gut-level hatred.” This is a pretty angry, stupid, stubborn, blind and hateful statement as well. I would be classified as being on your “side”, but this is just as divisive as those you oppose. Not to mention, completely inaccurate. The Westboro picture is the exception. It’s about basic “beliefs”, just like you. You have beliefs, they have beliefs. I have dozens of very conservative friends, and we share the same gay friends. They have no hatred toward them, they just don’t accept that homosexuality is not a sin. They accept homosexuals and never judge them, and guess what? Our homosexual friends accept them as well! Enough of this divisive bullshit! Live and let live. And let each other believe what they freaking want to believe!

  • “They don’t judge homosexuals; they just don’t accept that homosexuality is a sin.” And you think I’m into untenable divisions.

  • Brendan Murphy via Facebook

    Jake: Believing homosexuality to be a sin *is* judgment.

  • Wrong. It’s standing by what you believe the Bible teaches. Who are you to judge them for that they believe? Do you want them judging you because you believe it”s not. You want your cake and eat it too. That’s called hypocrisy. I don’t have a problem with it, my gay friends don’t, why should you?

  • Mindy

    Jake, Jake, Jake. I would bet money that your gay friends DO have problem with it. They just don’t talk to you about it. Why would they? So they can be further demeaned?

  • Bevie

    I love this article. In Australia, we have the ACL (Australian Christian Lobby) which I think is pretty similar to some of your organisations in the US. We don’t have a constitution that talks about separation of church and state to fall back on, like you do so we are in a slightly different position. However, we do have a proudly atheist Prime Minister who is bowing to the ACL and loudly proclaims the reason she is against same sex marriage is because of the Biblical teaching on it. (Yes, I know it sounds like a joke but sadly its the truth)

    To me, I think pride and power hunger are the biggest problems amongst those who are against marriage equality. I am sure they think that if they are against gay marriage, they are more righteous in God’s eyes. And I think it must also be the biggest power trip when you find you can control others private lives.

  • Thank heavens our “Christian” nation finally abolished slavery. Thank heavens our “Christian” nation finally granted women the right to vote. Thank heavens our “Christian” nation did away with segregation. It took awhile but we finally did it. Next? Allowing gay marriage. It will happen folks.
    Gees, are we really a “Christian” nation? By the looks of it from a historical perspective, we’ve been quite evil and nasty. Kudos John on this post. I believe the love of Christ has the power to transform all. If they listen with their hearts—and minds.

  • Jake – your “gay friends” also don’t seem to have a problem with you being “outreach director at Westboro Baptist Church,” either, I’d guess. I, however, think that you’re talking out of your ass, so I’m blocking you as being either a troll or one of Phelps’ psychos.

  • Jake, it’s not possible to be alive and not constantly judge people. If you’ve got a mind, you’re constantly evaluating and assessing. That IS judging: judgement is just drawing conclusions based on evidence. That what … well, judges do,

    for one.

    I have a moral obligation to “judge” that something being done is wrong if that something is hurting people. The belief that homosexuality, in and of itself, is a moral affront to God ruins and destroys lives. I would not be able to consider myself a moral person (not to mention a Christian) if I didn’t fight to eradicate that deplorable belief. I’m not okay with that belief. I don’t like the way it represents Christianity. I don’t like the way it implies that it’s okay to bully gay children and teens. I don’t like the way it misuses the Bible to fuel and whitewash its hostility. So if it’s okay with you, I’ll keep working to present to people a Christianity that I believe Christ can, for a change, be proud of.

  • LMAO! Reed, you don’t have a very dry sense of humor, do you? Not sure how I will go on with you blocking me. Let the venom fly! But while the anger and division continues to be perpetuated, I’m going to have a straight chicken sandwich for dinner, and some queer Oeros for dessert.

  • Becca

    I think Jesus would care a great deal about marriage, given that it is supposed to be a reflection of his relationship with the church. Marriage is a holy sacrament that is symbolic of the love of Christ, the Bridgegroom, for his Bride the church. To imply that Jesus would be for gay marriage perverts a central piece of New Testament theology. Our laws and our legislative representatives, are supposed to represent the voters. If the majority of voters believe that gay marriage should not be legal and vote that way, then under our system the laws should reflect that. Or is it only non-religious people who should be allowed to vote and influence public policy?

  • Wow. Charming.

  • Melody

    200 years ago, the majority considered slaves to be 5/6 of a person. Clearly you haven’t thought this through.

  • ^ The reason I have to have a long explanation of why I’m not a nutjob bigot anytime I explain I’m a Christian.
    *I am of course referring to Jake*

  • I’m having shrimp cocktail, followed by mussels in a wine based bisque, then some finger lickin pork chops, and then throw some football to burn off calories. Then off to bible study.

  • Where in the bible does it teach that you need to try to legally impose morality on others, or that you should seek to create a theocracy, or that you should ignore the established laws (in this case separation of church and state) even when they don’t persecute you? Following what they believe the bible teaches would mean *they* don’t marry someone of the same sex – not that they would force anyone else not to.

  • Jeff Straka

    Well, if I, a male, am part of the Bride Church and Jesus is the bridegroom, it sounds like a gay marriage to me! 😉

  • Robert Martin via Facebook

    Jake – What, by you, is called “judging” someone for believing homosexuality is a sin is to me “correcting” that same person and trying to show that person the true light of Christ’s message. It is prophetic in a sense. Prophets in the Old Testament would be seen today as being “judgmental” when in fact they were correcting Israel so it would more closely follow God’s plan. Many of these prophets were despised for what they told the Israelite population and were highly unliked and sometimes even put to death for taking they stands they took. It is hard for someone to be told the truth and to change direction in a way that is not comfortable for them. I see people like John Shore, Matthew Vines, and others who advocate for LGBT inclusion in the church and Christian life as prophets of today trying to correct a church that has gotten the whole LGBT issue wrong (I posted a message on Matthew Vines own wall in that vein). As John put in his second paragraph above he is attempting to show thchurch the error of it’s ways. It’s going to hurt and it has to be harsh (correction is harsh, think about when you were corrected as kid by your mother or father) but it is about the only way you are going to get someones attention and have them listen. It may not be comfortable for you that someone is harshly correcting those who believe homosexuality is a sin but the correction NEEDS to happen. Being corrected and made to think about what you are doing based upon your beliefs can be disconcerting at best but the correction has to come sooner or later. Whether the church as a whole listens and understands is a whole other matter entirely.

  • LOL. You’re precious too, John! Randy, that’s too much cholesterol for me! But good stuff!

  • Jeff Straka
  • But, um, beliefs come from somewhere. In this case, if not from your own fear, anger, bigotry, and hatred, then inherited from someone else’s – and therefore maintained by your stubborn blindness and ignorance. John said that this is what the *fight* is about, not what all individuals of a ceratin belief are about. He wasn’t talking about the live and let lives. The *fight* ultimately derives from those evil things, even if some good, well-meaning, otherwise delightful people hold to evil beliefs.

  • Mindy

    Becca, our Constitutional rights – civil rights – are in place to PROTECT THE MINORITY FROM THE MAJORITY. That is all our LGBT citizens want – the same civil rights as all. If individual churches choose to hold on to the antiquated and incorrect belief that Jesus would not approve of gay marriage and NOT marry people in their churches, well, fine. Whatever. People who understand and believe in God’s unconditional love will leave those churches for churches who welcome all. They can have bigot-gatherings just like the few white supremacist organziations that remain still gather and pander to the ignorant few. But to answer your question, NO, a majority of people voting to suppress part of the population doesn’t mean that part of the population should be suppressed. Civil rights are not laws. Civil rights cannot and should not ever be legislated.

  • Melody

    No, Jake. Who the hell do you think YOU are to judge gay people? I don’t know, but *I* think you are a self-righteous, sanctimonious asshole. You don’t know anything about the Bible, clearly. If you did, you would know that the original Greek does NOT translate as “homosexuals.” You are the hypocrite, you hateful creep.

  • Mindy

    Woot, woot, woot!!! John, this is ginormously fantabulous!!

  • Kelven

    You are not arguing for live and let live when you encourage divisive laws that deny people things that you take for granted, based on your interpretation of the bible. The attitude is all about some sinners are less deserving than others. Well, guess what – there are a lot of us that don’t think that way, and the divisiviness you decry is unmistakably and solidly coming from the people who use the bible as an excuse to justify what is kindly referred to as conditional love. But the cold reality of that attitude, is that it IS ignorant and petty and no amount of nicety and piety is going to change the false premise it is starting from.

  • Sandra Montgomery via Facebook

    Woah, he really IS the outreach director at Westboro Baptist Church!!! So, ahem, given your church’s vitriol against gays, how do you expect to have any credibility here?

    I am an evangelical Christian. I don’t believe it is my place to judge anyone for their ‘sins’. That’s God’s role. My role is to live my life as close to how Jesus lived his as I can. If I recall, He preached a message of love and hope to EVERYONE. He hung out NOT with church leaders (who he constantly rebuked and warned about their self righteousness and hypocrisy) but with people who were the outcasts of society.

    I want to show the love of Jesus to everyone I meet. I want to accept my neighbour and love him as I love myself. I want to do to others as I’d like them to do to me. That’s what Jesus asked me to do. He didn’t say anything about persecuting a segment of society because they were ‘sinning’. He never once mentioned homosexuals.

    I just volunteered my time on a short film as script supervisor. It’s called Whispers of Life and it’s directed at gay youth who are committing suicide due to bullying and being rejected for who they are. I was compelled to do this as a small step of redemption with the gay community; my way of saying I am sorry for the treatment you receive at the hands of those who are supposed to be representatives of Jesus and so that you know not all of us feel that way. I told the gay writer/director and his life partner, the producer why I took the show on the last day of shooting. I wasn’t sure how they’d take it but they were so touched and loving towards me, and THAT was a lesson to me of itself; everyone just wants to be accepted for who they are. And when you do and you love them, the love flows right back at you.

  • LMAO, Sandra! I’ll tell Fred you said “hi”. Classic! I love ya!

  • Mindy

    Your ultra-conservative friends can believe whatever they want. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and watch as they try to legislate their antiquated beliefs and force the rest of us to live by their standards. As far as how John described those who STILL hold those antiquated beliefs in 2012, he’s spot on. It’s getting really old watching full grown adults hold on to “their” version of marriage like a toddler clings to an old broken, useless toy just because the other toddlers in the room want it. Stomping their feet, refusing to share. Even though they have, en masse, turned marriage into an old, broken farce.

  • Robert

    Becca, If you have understood ANYTHING about the debate concerning Marriage Equality you would understand that it is CIVIL marriage the LGBT community has been talking about. As for your argument concerning a “majority of voters” believing “that gay marriage should not be legal and vote that way” I have 2 responses to that. 1) Usually when those votes come up they are worded in such a way as to blur the meaning of what is actually trying to be accomplished, i.e. “Let’s restrict marriage to being between one man and one woman because that is what I believe that MY scripture tells me and everyone else will agree with me” (this is usually the Fundamentalist mindset). What isn’t taken in to affect and has been proven through poll after poll AND votes in state legislatures in the last few years is that if a Bill or Referandum is worded in such a way as to allow Marriage Equality AND respects a religious viewpoint contrary to Marriage Equality then Marriage Equality more often then not happens. As for the “central piece of New Testament theology”that you say “gay marriage perverts” I understand that “”central piece of New Testament theology” to be summed up in Mark 12:29-31: “29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”” How does gay marriage pervert this?

  • Patricia Boese

    I am constantly amazed and confused as to why those Christians who are so scared of gay people are in so much fear. Where is their faith? If their faith is in their Lord, then what is their worry? Can they not rest with the call to simply love God with their whole heart and love their neighbor as their selves and leave all judgement to God as he has called them to do, knowing they are UNWORTHY to judge? I believe they have very, very little faith having to second guess God and Jesus all the time with this constant revisiting of the Bible and trying to exactly narrow down the judgement call and then if there is a disagreement, to then break off and start yet another one of the roughly 34,000 denominations out there. Their claim is they are discerning (bigoted) because of their faith. I claim they are bigoted because they lack faith.

  • Jill

    Brilliant! loved it Bevie!

    (still chuckling over the notion of an atheist quoting scripture to make a legislative point!)

  • Al

    Who cares? In a country where church and state are separate, religions of all kinds have no business meddling in the affairs of the state. Same sex marriage is a legal issue because it pertains to civil rights and if churches interfere in the debate from the pulpit or through their hierarchy, then they ought to be held to account for that through the courts. Let them give up their tax-exempt status if they want to enter the political arena.

    You say that, “our laws and legislative representatives are supposed to represent the voters”, but that’s only partly true. America’s legislative representatives are supposed to uphold the constitution, which states that all are equal before the law.

    If a minority group is denied fundamental human rights because of the prejudices of the majority, then we are all partners in tyranny. That’s what Hitler did when he vilified the Jews, and that’s what you’re advocating by denying gays and lesbians the same rights afforded to everyone else. If you’re willing to do that against gays and lesbians then don’t expect anyone to defend your rights when they’re threatened by some more elite group. The notion that everyone is entitled to equal treatment is a fundamental principle in democratic societies and it’s time that America recognized this by extending full and equal rights to gays and lesbians.

  • Jill Hileman via Facebook

    No worries people, jake’s as phony as his ‘like’ of The Smiths. It’s facebook– I’ll be sure to promote myself as Ruler of All She Surveys on my work profile. Now THAT would be clever.

  • Just curious – where is the LAW of separation of church and state written? Can you give me a reference? Thanks! (I’m not American so n0t sure if I am looking in the right places because I’ve never been able to find this in the Constitution or any laws. I do know it was written in a letter by Thomas Jefferson assuring the Baptist Convention that there would be ‘a wall of separation’ between the government and the church in regards to the freedom of religion etc.)

  • Mindy

    You are one of those people I hope my daughters never, ever meet. Gay friends? NO ONE who works for Westboro Baptist Church has real friends who are gay. I do not believe that for a second. I will pray for you, Jake, that you live long enough to make up for at least some of the harm you’ve done.

  • Mindy

    hear, hear. Well said.

  • Melody

    You evil, sick bastard. If you believe Judgment Day is real, you should be very, very afraid for your soul. As I said in another thread, I do believe in karma. So, sooner or later, you will reap what you sow. I just hope God has more mercy on you than I ever would. Because you sure as hell don’t deserve it. You don’t even deserve to live. I have no sympathy for you or any of your cult members, except the children you are brainwashing and leading astray. Jesus had words for people like you, that it would be better to be tied to a millstone and thrown into the sea. You’re lucky nobody takes that metaphor literally.

  • Al


  • Bevie

    Yes and amen. In one of the last few things Jesus said before he ascended into Heaven was that we should focus on OUR relationship with Him because how OTHER people live is none of our business. (John 21:22) In numerous places in the Gospels Jesus tells us to help people who are hurting, but He also says, quite clearly, that we shouldn’t use the Bible to cause that pain.

  • Dove

    You want to look for the establishment clause of the First Amendment, Sandra, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion… or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This basically states that the government cannot endorse any particular religion or denomination over another.

  • Paula

    Beautiful, loved reading this Sandra!

  • Matt

    Oh my God. Thank you for finally putting into words what I wanted to say all this time!

    It drives me up the wall when fundie Christians talk about the Bible as if it were the only religious text in the world, as if our religion is the only one here. It’s the biggest sign of their small-mindedness. Nothing else shows it so plainly.

    As for the Founding Fathers, they were fresh from the horrors of a nation, and indeed a continent, torn about by religious warfare. The Reformation was a proper war–blood in the streets and minorities-of-the-moment killed for sport, which ironically they benefit from, being on the “winning” side (Protestant) in this country.

    But these white, cisgendered, Christian heterosexual men would of course know nothing about such things. That’s what I saw last night with Mr. Brown: Yet another person privileged over me (female body, LGBT), who looks the same as all the others, claiming that they’re right. And they get listened to because they can shout the loudest.

    But I won’t listen no matter how much they shout. To me, they’re not experts. They don’t even know me.

  • DR

    This guys has some pretty substantial emotional issues, obviously. Wow.

  • Melody – When did I judge homosexuals? I’m judging those that judge people who have differing opinions. You don’t know what my opinions are on homosexuals because I NEVER stated them. And guess what? I won’t because I feel that these polarizing issues are what’s fucking the Church up today. [I find that contextual cursing acceptable, if … anyone but me is reading this, which no one is but whatever.] Don’t judge ME and call me a hypocrite unless you get your facts straight. And Mindy – Have you met my gay friends? Talked to them? No? Then [please be quiet], you intolerant [harsh word]!

  • It’s a joke. Poking fun at the opposition, idiot! Get a sense of humor.

  • Do you know my friends, Mindy? Talked to them? Do you have any clue to the depth of my relationship with them? No? Ever occur to you that they don’t get bogged down with this kind of [curse word] like you do?

  • It’s a joke, [not really cursing but a terrible thing to call anyone]! It’s poking fun at the opposition! The IDIOTS at Westboro! Obviously you know nothing about me! Until you do, keep you arrogant, narrow-minded comments to yourself. This has become a joke, because I probably agree with 99% of what John says! [Oh. cool.] I’m just advocating an end to [curse word] division in the Body of Christ!

  • Melody

    [curse word] off, troll. We don’t tolerate your [bovine ploppers] here. You are not welcome here, you [not really cursing, but extremely harsh: quite creative, actually!] Get lost.

    Oh. One more thing.

    [Full-on curse word] YOU, you pathetic moron.

  • Melody

    Oh, and the fact that you refer to LGBT people as “homosexuals” tells me all I need to know what you think of them. Bigot.

  • Yo, yo, guys. So let’s maybe tone down the harshness here. Please? Thank you.

  • Melody

    Okay, John. I’ll tone it down. But only because of your awesome descriptions of my more “colorful” words. 😉 Cracked me up!

  • Melody

    P.S. I love that you accidentally spelled “cure” instead of “curse” for my last sentence. That’ll cure ’em well enough. 😉

  • Thanks, Mel. I appreciate your passion for sure. And you always defend me, which is something I tend to really like in a person. But … yeah. Anyway. Thank you. Carry on. Righto. Pip-pip.

  • Melody

    Thanks. Yeah, I have a strong impulse to defend people when I feel they’re being unfairly criticized or ridiculed. Obviously, I can take that too far. But I’m honored that you would say that. Seriously. I’m very forward about my feelings here, but I actually have a guilt complex, and often secretly wonder if I’ve gone too far, even when I haven’t. So thanks for the affirmation, John.

  • I changed it. But I DO like that substitute. I’d be cool to “cure somebody out” or let loose with a string of cure words. “Man, that guy was curing up a storm.”

    “Does your mother know you cure like that?”

    “I put a cure on you!”

    Best typo EVER.

  • Exactly, Matt. Perfectly said.

  • Diana A.

    Aw John, why don’t we all just hold hands and sing “Kumbiyah”?

  • Diana A.


  • You wouldn’t say that if you’d ever heard me sing …

  • Lymis

    I can never hear this kind of argument without thinking that it is grounded in the concept that there has to be a single right answer that applies to everyone regardless of who they actually are.

    The vast majority of arguments that are used against same-sex marriage – including the one Becca uses above – aren’t arguments against same-sex marriage, they are arguments in favor of opposite sex marriage. The only reason that would have any place in the discussion is if anyone, anywhere was proposing eliminating opposite sex marriage and replacing it with same-sex marriage as the only option.

    But nobody is proposing taking away opposite-sex marriage from anyone, and nobody is even proposing making a single change to any aspect of opposite-sex marriage. Not to which straight people are allowed to marry, not to who they can marry, not to how they can marry, and not to what rights, benefits, and responsibilities an opposite-sex couple accepts when they marry.

    All these arguments are essentially the same as “I cannot allow you to paint the inside of your house blue, because I want to keep the inside of my house yellow.”

    Even if only opposite sex marriages are holy, and even if the only Biblical or traditional support was for opposite-sex marriage (neither of which I will grant as true), straight people remain just as free to contract those holy and supported marriages. Allowing same-sex marriages to be solemnized by secular authority or by religions traditions that choose to do so is no different than a Christian who believes that only Christian marriage is holy allowing Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Pagans to marry according to their own tradition.

    The Bible says that a loving Father will give a child bread when they are hungry. That certainly means that there is Biblical support for feeding a kid bread. It doesn’t mean that feeding a kid chicken, or asparagus, or tofu is condemned.

    All the wonderful Biblical reasons why it is such a good thing for straight people to get married still apply. Nobody is taking any of them away. You are free to believe that not a single one of them applies to a same-sex marriage (to which I would strenuously disagree), but you can’t use them as arguments against same-sex civil marriages.

    One of the many central points of New Testament teaching is that the proper engagement for Christians in civil society is to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” Of course religious people have every right to vote and influence public policy, but they are to do so by the rules of civil society.

    So, by all means, work tirelessly to make sure that laws don’t infringe unnecessarily on a religious group’s right to make it’s own religious rules about it’s own religious practices, but not -ever- to apply one religious group’s religious rules on everyone else.

  • Bryan

    Well said Mindy! Another word need not be said…

  • I think you have the “having cake and eating it too” concept all wrong. You insist on applying biblical fundamentals to the US Constitution when the Constitution was specifically written to guarantee our citizens the freedom of being oppressed by a single version of any one faith. Many Brits originally fled England not because of unjust taxation but but because of the religious oppression of Catholics by Protestants. Our founders specifically intended for us to leave free of religious tyranny. You may follow your version of the bible all you want — which means you personally should avoid doing those things which your belief informs you are sinful. You may NOT impose your views on the rest of the citizenry.

  • Al

    Jake. Don’t you ever shut up? You’re an ignorant ape with nothing to say. Why John lets you post here, I don’t know, but it’s time for you to stop talking, start listening, and smarten up. Do that or get off of here!

  • Thank You, John!…As always, well said!….I think that if Jake were to love EVERY person for who they are, instead of making misinformed or misguided notions (and yes they are judgments) about people he does not know personally, he would have nothing to write about on your blog!

  • Jake, when you stop the divide by calling people by their sexuality instead of humans, you might make more sense! The judgment runs deep in people that have to include sexuality to describe a person! If we didn’t have that kind of divide there would be no reason for this discussion, seriously! READ what you say, between the lines, it is perfectly clear! 🙂

    John is one of a few people seeking the demise of this divide PUBLICLY! The “us and them mentality” is the reason that the divide has not diminished! We are all part of this world, and ALL loved by the same God, like it or not!

  • Blake

    Brilliant! Shout it from the rooftops. People on all sides of the debate need to hear this commentary. I get constantly frustrated by fellow atheists trying to argue biblical interpretation angles. The Bible does not matter. It is a red herring & a dern distracting one at that. We do not need to and should not agree to argue religion with the religious.

  • DR


    This defense smells a bit of “reverse racism” to me. And if you’re really appealing to the heart of Christ in the matter here, then let’s really look at the *source* of anger.

    Imagine that a father is in a mall parking lot and he’s beating his 5-year old daughter with an electric cord. You recognize him from your church and pull him back asking what in the hell he’s doing? He replies “The Bible sanctions my authority as a parent to spare the rod, spoil the child. Leave me alone, this is none of your concern.”

    He goes back to beating her. She’s in trouble, she’s physically in trouble and she’s clearly traumatized from the incident, she’s starting to lose consciousness. People have started to gather – this guy is HUGE. And most of them are from his church. They know him well, they’re shocked this is happening. But they’re afraid to intervene or do anything because what can they do? He’s following Biblical guidance here. They may not agree with that interpretation but they don’t control anything. So most of them don’t say anything, they actually leave so they don’t have to watch the little girl being so abused.

    Then a few people start speaking up. One even tries to grab the cord out of his hand. But he’s well within his legal boundaries to hit his child according to local laws and he’s just too strong, they can’t pull the cord from his hand.

    So you know what they do next? They are PANICKING about the child, she’s going to die. She’s in serious trouble. They start screaming at him. They start shaming him a little, hoping that he will be held accountable by the larger public because he has given his mind over to the idea that this is ok, so he really can’t see that it’s not. He’s ignored his conscience for so long, he can’t hear it anymore.

    And those silent christians who were scared to say anything? Confused? They start attacking the few people that are trying to get him to stop. Saying, “Stop being so mean! How dare you speak to our brother this way? What are you angry about? Why aren’t you loving him? You’re actually doing the *same* thing that he’s doing, you’re *beating* this grown man who is 6.5” and is attacking a vulnerable little kid who has zero legal rights in this scenario.

    That’s exactly what you’re doing as you try to claim that people here who are defending the GLBT community (who is actually contending with a massive suicide epidemic in their teenage population) from the “bully”. It doesn’t matter how offended or injured you happen to feel, the reality is this anger is coming from a desperation and a fear for this community’s spiritual, emotional and physical well-being as citizens of the USA.

  • Mindy

    As I said, Jake, I’ll pray for you. I don’t care what your opinion is about LGBT people, as long as you don’t use it to harm them or try to legislate said opinion. I have teenagers, who were once toddlers. Your comments here show about the same levels of maturity and less critical thinking skill than either of my kids and most of their friends, at either age.

  • DR

    *are* the bully, rather. I hate that you can’t edit comments on this forum.

  • Blake

    People often mistake politeness for progress. Gay people can be polite to bigots & vice versa. But that’s not living and let living. Letting someone live goes beyond avoiding confrontation. Marriage inequality is not live & let live despite polite interactions between conservatives and their gay friends. If you want a catchphrase to describe what goes on between your friends & their gay friends try on: “I live & they’re unworthy scum.”

  • Very well said, Lymis.

  • You might remember we used to have that functionality: for awhile we were using Disqus. But man, it slowed the site down. So … yeah. But don’t worry: everybody always knows what you mean. Anyone who Grammar-Nazi’s-out in blog comments is … too sad to consider.

  • Very few Christians try to tackle the idea that Jesus is calling men his bride. But, that’s the way he states it.

  • Diana A.


  • OMG, I love John’s creative editing! 😀

  • Melody

    I know, right? Doesn’t get much better than “bovine ploppers.” (I can’t even remember what I called him in the first paragraph. I didn’t even think it was that creative, lol!)

  • Scott Amundsen

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” ~ The treaty of Tripoli, ratified under President John Adams, 1797.

    Read the first phrase. Read it again. Then read it one more time and tell me again how we live in a “Christian nation.”

  • <>

    ~ The treaty of Tripoli, ratified under President John Adams, 1797.

    Read the first phrase. Read it again. Then read it one more time and tell me again how we live in a “Christian nation.”

  • Ash

    Always good to come to John’s blog! Great discussion!

  • mike moore

    Melody. LOVE you.

  • Brian Erickson via Facebook

    liked & shared. Good dialog as always John (save for the occasional d-bag of course), thank you!

  • mike moore

    great reference. I didn’t know of this … love to learn, thank you!

  • Should’ve known you’ve tackled it, John!! 😀 Thanks, kind sir.

  • I’m gonna use this like it was Job’s handkerchief.

  • Scott Amundsen


    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” ~ The treaty of Tripoli, ratified under President John Adams, 1797.

    Read the first phrase. Read it again. Then read it one more time and tell me again how we live in a “Christian nation.”

  • Jill

    I love his answers in the form of another blog post. It makes me laugh while it educates.

  • Elizabeth

    I totally want a Grammar Nazi t-shirt.

  • Jill

    Oh, what you’ve unleashed Scott Amundsen…

    (Or perhaps did our illustrious 43rd president somehow repeal it before his naptime???) 😉

  • mike moore

    “Job’s handkerchief” …. as one of my favorite writers would say, “Har!”

  • From now on for this concern this will be my go-to image:

  • Oz in OK

    Ah, it’s so easy to support ‘tyranny of the majority’ when your own rights aren’t put up to a vote, eh? Typical.

  • Or:

  • mike moore

    you know, John, I’m just realizing harem pants could be a good look for you … let’s nix the floral boxers make-over.

  • Elizabeth

    Too funny. I type that, and a Christian with my perverse sense of humor is just going to airdrop me these, right? My “Love Jesus? Hate Bigotry?” t-shirt is too big.

  • What do you mean, “could be” a good look on me? Harem pants ARE a good look on me.

  • It is brilliant!

  • kimj

    One of your best John.

  • Brian


    That is not a statement from President Adams, but the treaty, which is of no reflection of the beliefs of the founding Fathers, most of the founding Fathers were deeply Christian, here are John Adam’s own words:

    “The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.

    “Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”

    –Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, excerpt from a letter to Thomas Jefferson, sounds clearly Christian to me Scott

  • Jill

    Where am I? Did I stumble upon a totally different website??? 😉

  • Brian

    What does the “Treaty of Tripoli” matter, read the words penned by the founding Fathers themselves, not some treaty.

  • Jill

    I’m beginning to really feel like mainstream Christians just cannot take compromise for a solution. ‘My way or the highway’ seems to be the ever-present motto.

    It’s growing quite tiresome to read this heir apparent attitude over and over and over again. I learned how to share my toys in kindergarten, and I even learned ‘God is good, giving is great!’ in SBS. Did I miss a memo in 30 years? Did God change the rules that obstinance is better? Ugh.

  • Well, it wasn’t just “some” treaty, insofar as it was unanimously ratified by the U.S. Senate (only the third time in history the Senate had voted unamimously), and in its signing statement Adams wrote:

    Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.

    I don’t see a way to simply dismiss that as irrelevant. Those are his words.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m still laughing. Let’s start a Kickstarter campaign.

  • Bevie

    DR, thank you for this analogy. It is so clear and true. May we always have the courage to pull the cords of hate and whips of fear from the the hands of those bullies who are killing innocents. And may we always remember that love is the most powerful weapon in the world. Amen.

  • Jill

    OMG Elizabeth– don’t give this girl ideas! (Kickstarter, baby!)

  • mike moore

    Har! once again, I must concede to the Master.

  • mike moore

    Jill, I’m heartbroken, how could you forget … this is indeed the same blog where you first fell in love with me … ah, fickle love.

  • Jill

    Oh, and Mr. Moore– fickle??? Flirting with lovely Melody, I just assumed you’d moved on. Calling me fickle, hm!

    (No offense, Melody. !)

  • Lyn

    Um. This *is* the words penned by the Founding Fathers themselves. Thomas Jefferson considered it his greatest accomplishment. It was unanimously ratified by a senate that included many of the founders and signed into law by founder John Adams.

  • mindy

    Oooh, daughter #1 would like this one. I’m not showing it to her because she’d only use it against me.

  • mindy

    Uber-stylish ex-husband once wore harem pants. He called them parachute pants, but that didn’t help. The scariest part of this particular memory for me is that I actually made him a pair. And I don’t sew, which might be why the crotch chafed his calves.

  • mindy

    Jill, it’s only because Melody was cursing. Er, curing. Because we all know how boys are attracted to the “bad girls” . . .

  • Elizabeth

    Lymis and Jill, I’m not sure when you became fans of John’s. I went on sabbatical to take care of my mom, and when I came back he was all HuffPo superblogger. I stopped paying attention to comments. I’ve always found the intensity of commenters’ responses the most rewarding part of John’s blog, though. He’s already mega. You’re real heir apparents.

    Not to get mushy.

  • mike moore

    Jill, this is a wonderful milestone … this is, like, our first fight as a semi-fictitious cyber-couple. A sign of true love.

    (of course, it’s all my fault. And you can flirt with Melody … no smoochin’, though.)

  • Elizabeth

    John has the best bad girls ever.

  • mike moore

    Brian, if the Founding Fathers (ugh, you know, the same “Christian” guys who decided that slavery would be legal in their new country) had wanted a Christian nation, they would have made one. They didn’t.

  • Brian


    What is your definition of a “Christian” nation then? I guess I define it more broadly, when I see primarily Christian people establishing a government clearly with Christian precepts, I call that a Christian nation. When history records their prayers to the Christian God for guidance as they compiled the Constitution, I would call that a Christian nation. When their own writings bear out Christianity through out, I call that a Christian nation and if you have ever visited Washington DC you see Bible verses etched all over in the monuments, I call that a Christian nation. Virtually all historic documents relating to the founding of this country have clear Christian references

    The predominate religion of the U.S. is Christianity, which means in a broad sense we are a Christian nation.

  • Brian


    Here is a quote from the brilliant John Jay, the first Suprem Court justice and author of many of the Federalist Papers:

    “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers. And it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

  • Jill

    Whatever. You’re still sleeping on the couch.

  • DR


  • DR

    There are dozens of foundational, moral and civic principles that are not a result of Christians who came to America and are deeply embedded into the fabric of our nation.

  • DR

    Do you honestly believe that Christianity being the “state” religion (which would officially define us as a “Christian nation” is what Jesus came here for? Really? Do you want to live in a country where people are forced to follow His Word? Why are you so terrified to be a Christian who does not have control of the legal system?

  • Lymis

    Brian, many if not most of the Founding Fathers were Deist, not Christian. Just because someone believes in God, it doesn’t mean they are Christian.

    Furthermore, just because someone believes strongly in God, worships God, is a devout Christian, and bases their own personal morality and spirituality on their Christian faith, it doesn’t follow that they think Christianity should be the basis of secular law.

    So finding quotes from founding fathers that they personally think Christianity is a pretty nifty idea is absolutely not any sort of meaningful proof that they think that the US should be a Christian Nation or base it’s laws on it – there is far more indication that they didn’t want the government running a state religion and did in fact deliberately set things up to separate Church and State.

  • Lymis

    Yeah, well, Mr. Jay is no longer eligible to vote.

    What are the chances he was okay with slavery and didn’t want women to have the vote, either?

  • HAR!!

  • Ellen K.

    Can you explain why you label it the “Christian-gay” debate in the subject heading? If some of us Christians, yourself included, think gay marriage should be legal, why do you lump all Christians together as if they are on one side of the debate, and gays on the other. I don’t want to be grouped with Christians who think same-sex marriage should be illegal, so I don’t get why you, who have similiar views to mind, lump yourself with them by labelling it a “Christian-gay debate”.

  • Because in the title box you’ve got severely limited space. If you can think of a better title for this piece, I’ll use it, Ellen. Seriously.

  • Jen Henley

    This. Yes. Just yes.

    You are my hero.

  • Elizabeth

    Do it, Ellen! The day John called me Josephine Good-Titles was so much fun.

  • FY

    Hmmm, I am sure my dad could find out ‘the chess player instruction’ from Bible..

    Sadly, though no more than 10% of population is Christian in my country, many named churches are extremely conservative right wing and hold a strong and loud voice in the LGBT issue. One of the most ridiculous scene was, people had to repeatedly remind the anti-gay campaign, ‘hello, this is not a Christian Nation!!’ but I am sure churches are too busy to listen to anything.

  • Elizabeth

    Churches learn slow. Re-e-e-ally slow.

  • Mindy

    Thank you, Lymis. You said it far better than I was about to. So I’ll just say, “hear, hear!” and shut up.

  • Christy

    Yes, it sank in with me in the last few years that when folks read these letters by founding fathers that include the word God, they hear “believed in God just as I do with all the theological trappings that I hold dear.”

  • Christy

    Why would you not want to consider the full body of evidence of what the sentiments were of the founders?

  • Christy

    Yes, this is a point I’ve made before: Let’s say perchance that it’s true – the Founding Fathers wanted a state religion (even though they said they didn’t). Those guys are dead. And we’re here now. And we don’t want a state religion. That seems pretty simple.

  • Christy

    “Crotch chafed his calves” has got to be the least likely alliteration I’ve ever heard, but it made me spit my milk!

  • Elizabeth

    Say it three times fast, like “She sells seashells on the seashore.”

  • YOU come up with a good title for this, Ms. Fullerton. I changed the title on it, like, five times. I could NOT come up with one.

  • Susan in NY

    You made the man harem pants? And I did not know this, dear friend Mindy? The crotch calf chafing is enough to make this your go-to anecdote for all social situations. I love the mental picture of your ex with ill fitting harem pants on. oh my.

  • Elizabeth

    “Why Can’t Christians Shut Up And Love Our Gay Brothers And Sisters As Christ Loves Us?” is probably too long. I’ll try for something more ecumenical. Maybe a Buddhist approach. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZD0Z0CwRDJw

  • Lymis

    I read it as “What the Christian debate about gay stuff is and isn’t really about” rather than as “What the debate between Christians and gays is and isn’t really about” – but probably because I know John well enough that another interpretation never occurred to me.

    Maybe “What the LGBT debate among Christians is – and isn’t” ?

  • Oz in OK

    I do so love to see ‘this country was founded on Christian values!’ tripe. Do we really need a refresher course on what America was like for any group of people that weren’t Anglo-saxon men? Of course, looking at the Republican platform nowadays, when they say ‘we need to return to traditional values!’ boy do I believe them. 🙁

    The point is, the genius of the Founding Fathers is that they crafted a government that could, over time, grow to encompass the rights of people who had NO RIGHTS at all when the United States was founded.

  • Oz in OK

    How about this one? From Thomas Jefferson:

    “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

    I especially like this part:

    “As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”

  • Diana A.

    A lot of the founding fathers were deist, not Christian. Moreover, even if the founding fathers did set out to create a Christian nation, that doesn’t mean that this is the best course for today, especially if the form of Christianity is one that discriminates against women, gay people, and others.

  • Elizabeth

    I’d go with “Traction that will last” or “Can’t be too careful with your company” (see musical reference above). In all seriousness, that the NOM president would meet with Dan Savage without a Biblical explanation for running a hate group is inexcusable. It’s basic homework.

    Confront Christians. Stop trying to make them make sense. They haven’t learned the Socratic method that I learned as a sophomore or that one can, easily, pick up from the commenters here. This tide has turned, and pro-LGBT Americans are the majority. We’re not criticizing Christian rhetoric enough. They think bullying isn’t a problem? Bully them on their own turf.

  • mike moore

    I think you’re confusing the men and their beliefs with the Republic they set in motion.

    The US is a Republic with separation of church and state. That it is populated by a lot of Christians – or has been wrongly touted by prominent men whom history shown to be as wrong or as flawed as anyone – is irrelevant … or should be.

    And stop with the quotes. I don’t have time for it, but every quote you throw can countered with quotes from equally prominent contemporaries of those men. It’s easy to do the research, it’s called Google.

  • See, though, here’s the thing: the title HAS to convey as much as possible what the post is ABOUT. That’s the … part that makes me really, REALLY miss subtitles: in a magazine (and book), you get to use, “Lasting Traction: What the Christian-Gay Debate Is and Isn’t About,” for example.

    Here, you have maybe eight words to communicate what the piece is about–and to be clever/catchy about it, and to not reveal what it’s conclusion is, since if people think they already know what you’re going to say they won’t read it.

  • Jill

    All is forgiven, love affair back on track.

  • mike moore

    whew! that’s good news, caus’ my back is killing me from sleeping on the sofa.

  • Elizabeth

    A subtitle would be perfect, of course. I thought the point was that “Lasting Traction” is your dare, essentially, to Brian Brown and his ilk. They’ll think you/we at al are agreeing with them and, therefore, read your post. In my (incredibly humble) opinion, a title at “their” academic level makes them think they’ve heard it before.

    Sex always sells. I mean that in a feminine sense. You create mystery, and they will come. As God is my witness, white Christian males are susceptible to what they perceive as vagueness. “Lasting Traction: the Gay-Christian Debate”?

  • KarenAtFOH

    I wonder if it comes from the same impulse that causes them to hunt down quotes from the Bible and toss them like grenades into a conversation. Just another text worshipper.

  • DJ

    Brian, I think you’re taking that quote a bit out of context. What Adams appears to be stating (when taking the entire relevant portions of the text in context) is a lot more universal than what many conservatives (especially conservative Christians) would have us believe.

    See the following for a more in-depth analysis:


  • Ellen K.

    While I like that interpretation, it doesn’t fit the punctuation.

  • Ellen K.

    That doesn’t answer the question. Okay, I get limited space, and it’s hard to come up with something concise that conveys what the post is about. But I don’t get why a heading that makes it out to be Christians Versus gays, when it’s not.

  • dan(Chicago)


  • To repeat: come up with a better title, and I’ll use it.

  • Ellen K.

    I’m posting a question, not a suggestion. Even if I come up with a better title, that does not answer my question. And how can I come up with a better title when I’m clueless how you came up with the one you used? I can’t read your mind.

  • Probably best for you, for sure.

  • mike moore

    let it go, Ellen.

    Given that the largest denominations in the US and most evangelicals do not approve of gay people, John’s title is a fair generalization. And anyone who reads John knows that he recognizes that many Christians do not fall under that generalization.

  • mike moore

    all those unicorns and rainbows …

  • readit

    The Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) is called THE LAW. God’s legal system. He said certain acitivies are morally illegal– to this day. And some of those activities we have adopted as the law of the land for all people, such as like murder and theft

  • Diana A.

    It’s a good thing that the Bible is around to tell us that murder and thievery arr wrong. Otherwise we wouldn’t know.

  • mindy

    But, Ellen, it IS about that. We all know here that an awfully lot of Christians have no problem whatsoever with gay people or gay marriage. But the folks who DO have a problem speak the loudest and profess to speak for all “real” Christians. We know they don’t. But the rest of the world wants THEM to shut up, because until they do, their loud, abrasive and hateful messages seem to speak for all Christians. The other Christians, like you and John and most people here, have to continue to raise your voices above the bigots. This is how it’s done. Getting you to defend Christianity in public is part of the purpose.

  • Lymis: Yes!

  • David S


    But just look at what happens when we ignore Levitical law – we get Red Lobster restaurants and poly-cotton blends. Are you really sure we shouldn’t base all of our laws off of the Mosaic code? 😉

  • DR

    Wow why in the world are you getting so hostile? What is wrong with people?

  • Brian

    There is a differnce between a state religion and a Christian nation. The constitution is clear there shall be no law for the establishment of a state religion. The term seperation of chuch and state isn’t even found in the Constitution. Freedom of religion is part of the Constitution, there will never be a state church. Biblical precepts and Christian principals can be clearly found all throughout the historically significant documents relating to the estabishment of this country and the Constitution. The framers of the Constitution saw this since Christianity at its very core is equality and liberty for all.

  • Elizabeth

    You rock, Mr. Shore.

  • “morally illegal” – that’s a new one

  • “There is a differnce between a state religion and a Christian nation.”

    Um… what?

    I think the part that your missing, which your earlier quote actually indicates, is that America was founded on principles (or, from the quote, “Principles” with a capital “P”) – it is a ptincipled nation. Those “founding Principles” were Christian to many – and many still relate to them as Christian principles” – but they were also viewed as deriving from liberty (or, “Liberty”, from your quote above) and were viewed as being self-evident (blatantly stated in the Constitution.

    That is not founding on Christianity. Only those Christian/self-evident/liberal principles are the basis, not *any other part* of Christianity. And those principles – like the principle of equality – are not being disputed are essential to Americas founding. But a select set of principles found in Christianity is *not* the same as Christinity itself, as a religion.

  • Elizabeth

    The framers did, as did their intellectual forefathers, notably Rousseau and Montesquieu. They made sure of freedom of religion was the First Amendment. The problem, per se, is that our Puritan heritage is buried deep in our culture, our values, and our laws. The dead white men we revere would roll over in their graves, seeing the current “separation of church and state.” (The phrase, by the way, was first used by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 and has been repeatedly cited by the Supreme Court. That’s almost as good as the Constitution, legally speaking.)

  • You do realize it’s a METAPHOR, right? The same biblical writter who made that analogy (husband/wife relationship parallels Christ/Church relationship) also advocated for people to remain unmarried! Clearly Paul didn’t think that limiting the number of little anologies running around would pervert theology. God would still be God, the Church would still be the church.

    It’s like saying that I can see centifigal force by swinging. bucket of water over my head and witnessing how I don’t get wet. Nifty. Now, I have tangible evidence of that force. Now, say, that everyone starts swinging buckets over their heads, because their worried that if they stop, then what will happen to centifigal force. And the people who decide that they just want to carry their buckets (because they feel confident that the force exists) are thought to be perverting not just the demonstation of centifigal force, be degrading the very force itself. It’s utter nonsense. That Christ/Church relationship exists if there are any actual marriages or not.

  • Yeah, it’s my understanding that “separation of church and state” is a paraphrase (but one used by court rulings), but not word-for-word in the founding documents. It’s the concept that’s in there, of the government not preferencing any religion, not the quote (which does make it hard to find). It doesn’t mean churches shouldn’t be political, but that things shouldn’t be law solely on the basis on being a religious precept.

    (Not American either, btw – so take with a grain of salt – but I’m learning.)

  • Jill

    Elizabeth, I will graciously take this as high praise from ‘the likes of’ you. (That is now my very fave phrase come from this blog. That, and ‘take the camel from your eye’ !)

    I’m a total newbie, hanging on for the ride as I gently re-open the long shut & barred door hiding my Christian roots (of course, fundie baggage). I stumbled (literally) here in early May. I believe I will always feel ‘new’ as I learn astoundingly brilliant and amazing things from the gorgeousness here.

    Thanks BTW for getting mushy… you’re speaking my language! And John is mega, as he is destined to be. (more tears of gratitude…at least 1x each week)

  • otter

    Well seeing as how it’s Christians who are shoving their taboos and superstitions down everyone’s throat, and preaching violence and incarceration against us I think your objection to the title is a petty quibble.

    Sure you don’t like being lumped in with bigots,. Well, cry me a river. How would you like being lumped in with polygamists or pedophiles? Ever notice how frequently that happend to LGBT folks?

    So how about we spend a whole lot less time critiqueing John and a whole lot more time figuring out how to move the fundy hyocrites from their illogical, unloving, and unconstitutional black hole of prejudice into the light of day?

  • otter

    You’re wrong Becca. The rule of law should protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

    Can you imagine what would have happened if states had voted on slavery or on the rights of white folks to treat blacks like dirt? We’d have utter chaos….50 different variations of Jim Crow laws. Yet cowardly politicians and malicious liars have put gays in exactly this position.

    I don’t give two hoots in hell what religious taboo or superstition someone chooses to swallow. Your church can happily go on with it’s medieval ways. You can preach the earth is flat for all I care. But your beliefs should not impinge on my RIGHT to enter into a civil contract of equal standing to any straight person regarding my rights and obligations to my wife. She shlould be able to visit me if I am sick, make medical decisions for me, inherit my property tax free, bring suit on my behalf, not be forced to testigy against me in court, etc, etc, etc.

    If you want to live in a country where religious taboos serve as civil codes of law, there are several to choose from…Iran springs right to mind. Have a nice trip.

  • Lymis

    You can’t make a claim like that without clearly laying out the reasons why some things that are mandatory under the law in the Torah are illegal now, some things that are forbidden in the Torah are legal now, and how to tell the difference.

    The mere fact that something is in the Bible isn’t the basis for it being a justification for secular law. We don’t make women marry their rapists, we allow the eating of catfish, pork is no longer forbidden, we can’t own foreigners, and we are free to wear mixed fabrics.

    Yes, certain forbidden actions then remain forbidden. But not all of them. For reasons that have nothing to do with them being in the Bible. Nobody gets to just say “But it says so in the Bible” and think that ends the discussion. WHY should it remain forbidden?

  • Lymis

    Yes, there is a difference between a state religion and a Christian nation.

    There is an even bigger difference between a nation of Christians and a Christian nation.

    You seem to be conflating the two.

    A nation where the electorate was 99.9% Christian could certainly vote to make sure that things like fairness, accountability, concern for the poor, mobilizing national resources to help in local crises, and guarantees of tolerance, nondiscrimination and equal treatment (loving one’s neighbor as one’s self) were built into the laws without saying that Christianity is the foundation for those laws.

    Voting for a law because it aligns with your Christian beliefs is very different from voting for a law because it promotes Christianity or favors Christians and Christian beliefs over other traditions.

    I think it should be offensive to Christians to be told that the country is a Christian nation – because treating one’s neighbor the way we want to be treated requires that this nation be just as much a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Pagan nation, and an atheist nation as a Christian one.

    And a Christian majority should feel far MORE of a moral imperative to make sure that specifically Christian rules don’t trump other people’s freedom, not less.

    It shouldn’t require decades of litigation and a series of Supreme Court decisions for us to recognize the civil rights of people that Christians disapprove of. Christians should be doing that themselves, as a matter of fundamental principle.

    The current state of discrimination, hostility, hate crimes, and institutionalized bigotry is an indication of the country’s FAILURE to follow Christian principles, not a reflection of its Christian nature.

  • DR

    For many conservative Christians, the difference between state religion and Christian nation is semantics only. There are Christians that absolutely bristle and become enraged upon the suggestion that non-Christians are moral and get a seat at the morality table when it comes to voting in values-based laws. Many conservative Christians believe that they have cornered the market and have the last word on what “family values” look like when legislated. And most recently, one can see the trend in Christian paranoia that voting in something like gay marriage is an actual “attack” on our nation’s values.

    It’s hysterically fueled and completely self-absorbed and that rationale is fed by the belief these people have that Christian beliefs get the last word on our legal, educational and penal systems. Any suggestion that it does not is an “attack” on our faith.

    What people need to understand is that we’ve lost the country. No one wants anything to do with Christians anymore because of how we’ve behaved, because of this belief that we get the last word on anything moral, anything of value. That no one else’s religion or belief system (or lack of one) compares, that those who are not Christian don’t get to substantially weigh in on what laws we should have that define freedom, protection and love. People want us to simply leave them alone, they want nothing to do with our religion. We’ve destroyed any healthy and productive evangelism – as a matter of fact, a recent trend is that people understand the character and divinity of Jesus more through the tenants of Buddhism than they do the conservative Evangelical church.

    If you want to deal with a crisis, start with that one.

  • DR

    Beautifully said.

  • Jill

    damn that red lobster and their tasty, salty, greasy biscuits!

    So, murder = bad, shellfish = good ? But poly-cotton = bad fashion sense.

  • mike moore

    Jill, you’re brilliant … I just realized that:

    Red Lobster = Satanic cult. They murder and eat shellfish, while wearing poly blends.

  • Jill

    You had me at brilliant.

    And I know how to spot a cult from yards away.

  • Elizabeth

    Do not diss Red Lobster.

  • Elizabeth


    ATTN: A pool reporter has been assigned for the Dukakis keynote speech in the lobby of the Red Lobster in Pineville, NC at 7:38 EST. #DNC

  • DR

    This just made me spit my coffee out.

  • DR

    Someone alert the non-Christians immediately and let them know that murder and theft are WRONG! They may not have read a Bible and as a result, have no idea of the morality around these two very wrong things.

  • Jill

    See what happens when John leaves us to our own devices? All Hades breaks loose.

  • readit

    [fundy drivel deleted.]

  • For starters, virginity was never required of men, only women. And there was lots of condoned sex outside of marriage. All the purity code was done away with for Christians (because “purity” innthat context was about ritual purity – menstruating women and pork were unclear, for example – not sexual purity. And not all the sexual-realted laws were consistent (Abraham and his half sister, Sarah). Maybe you ought to read that bible and get back to us.

  • anakin mcfly

    I get lumped in with bigots and pedophiles. Ah, the tragedies of being both Christian and LGBT.

  • Steve

    The words “separation of church and state” come from letters and documents that were written around the same time as the constitution. Especially by Thomas Jefferson.

    Particularly this quote from his letter to the Dabury Baptist Association:

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

    A lot of the ideas behind the US Constitution are spelled out in the Federalist Papers, which also deals at some lengths with the “tyranny of the majority”. They knew very well that direct democracy is little better than anarchy and set up the courts to protect minority rights.